He picked up the documents with his hands while asking her, “Do you know where I can stay the night? I will go tomorrow to check out the bandits.”
She nodded. “If you go out and keep walking, you will see the Hamshire Inn to your right in a couple of minutes. They should have rooms available,” she said.
Leo smiled and then walked out of the town hall. He immediately lost his smile once he exited the building. He walked to the inn. He entered and saw an old man polishing glasses at the bar. There wasn’t any other desk to check in for a room.
“Do you know where I can find a room?” He asked.
“We have a vacancy for you. I’ll get you checked in. What are you here for, by the way?” The old man asked.
“I’m a mercenary. I came to deal with the bandits problem this village has.” Leo said.
“Thank god. It’s time that someone acted on that,” he said. “We have a room on the first floor. Here are the keys. Since you are doing us a service, it’s free of charge.”
Leo smiled. “I don’t mind paying for my room.” He said. He was starting to like the old man.
“Then just buy a drink once you come down,” the old man said. He handed Leo a key. “It will be to your immediate right once you climb the stairs.”
Leo took the key and went to the room. The minute he went into his room, he quickly took a look at the papers that he got from Lia. They had a complete detailed report about the bandit, including how many people were actually in the bandit group and their strength levels.
According to the report, the bandit group had 10 1st Circle Aura Knights and 20 Apprentice Aura Knights. There were another 20 normal bandits too. It also contained the activities they did, including smuggling drugs and trafficking people.
If the report was right, then the bandits would be easy to deal with. It even told him where the leader would be at a certain time of the day. All of this just made the entire mission more and more weird for him. Why was everything this easy?
What made the entire village more suspicious was that there were barely any people on the streets. Even the houses were half empty. He thought that the village would have around 1000 people, but he could only sense that half of them were in the village. Half the houses were empty. Even the inn that supposedly had a vacancy was completely empty.
Did that mean the bandits somehow trafficked half the village? Because that seemed impossible. The village would go to the city they were under for help if they were in such a dire state.
He decided to put his suspicions on hold. He felt that it wasn’t as complicated as it seemed. He must just be tripping because of the long journey.
He decided to look into it the next day. He would go to the place where the bandit supposedly would be the next morning and check it out. Until then, he was going to just recover his magic and watch out for his surroundings.
Since he was now in a room, he didn’t need to maintain Valkyr’s Deception. He was also not going to check out the bandit with his disguise on. He was going to go as himself to see if there was anything suspicious. If they saw a 25-year-old, they would be more on guard.
Either way, if they were truly bandits, then he wouldn’t leave them alive to tell the story of how they saw a 15-year-old instead of the actual Mercenary who was supposed to be there.
The next morning, he got out of bed early in the morning. He walked downstairs and saw the old man still polishing glasses.
“Did you not get any sleep?” The man asked Leo.
“I could ask the same about you. Why are you up so early?” Leo asked the man.
“I have to look after the place. Where are you headed to?” He asked Leo.
“Just a stroll,” he answered.
He walked out of the inn with his disguise on. The minute he left the village, he removed his disguise and walked to the place where the bandits’ stronghold was. The sun was just starting to rise. He heard a cooing sound signifying that followed by a bunch of birds flying out. The birds were all flying in the same direction as he was going, so he guessed there was something more interesting to the birds there than just the bandits.
He wasn’t planning on going all the way to the stronghold. He was just going along the road to see if he would encounter the bandits on the way. He walked for 20 minutes and got close to the stronghold before something happened. As he was walking, he quickly noticed something weird.
In the distance, he could sense multiple people suddenly appearing out of nowhere. He realized that the path was entirely rigged and that the bandits had completely surrounded him. It was as if they were waiting for him and had surrounded him only when he left.
Leo was going to prepare to kill everyone who surrounded him but suddenly chose not to. Everything started to make sense to him. When he left the inn, the innkeeper had seen him leave. He had seen the birds fly toward the stronghold.
All this added to the fact that the bandits knew that he was going to be there. The only thing that changed was that he was here as Leo, not as Orion. This meant that they would be surprised to see a kid instead of the mercenary.
He wanted to check out what was going on. The entire village was now completely suspicious to him and his curiosity made him want to purposefully get caught to figure out what it was.
The bandits quickly closed in while he walked normally like nothing was wrong. The bandits kept following him until he got close enough to the stronghold. He was immediately surrounded by a group of ten bandits, all in the 1st Circle.
He immediately started acting like he was panicking. He took out the dagger he had started threateningly pointing it at the bandits.
“Who are you all?! I won’t let you take my money!” Leo shouted.
“Who is this kid?” One of the bandits asked.
“I don’t know. Wasn’t there supposed to be a proper Mercenary?” Another bandit asked.
“Let’s just ask the boss. We can take the kid for now. He seems good enough to sell,” they said.
Leo knew what was going to happen, but he acred scared when a huge iron net was thrown at him. He was genuinely trapped once the net fell on him though. He was a mage, after all. He didn’t have the physical strength to break out of the net by himself. He could blow himself out though, but that would defeat the purpose of getting caught on purpose.
“Take him inside.”