“There are hidden outposts nearby,” Gana said as he pointed at the distant hills, “There, there, and there. All alarm towers, but not well-guarded. The sentries are only low-order warriors.”
“I see. The convoy should arrive in half a day, if they’re on schedule, right?”
“Yes,” Gana confirmed.
“Tell everyone to get ready.”
“But the sticks might notice if we move so soon.”
“I know. Just do it.”
Gana was a tight-laced old man, even if he didn’t understand his commander’s orders, he would not disobey them.
Everyone was ready a few minutes later. Kurdak briefed everyone on their responsibilities and head to one of the outposts with Vera.
“Why do you insist on following me?” Kurdak asked, frowning.
Vera never took her eyes off him, like she was afraid he was going to do something stupid the moment she wasn’t watching. He didn’t like the feeling of a pair of eyes following him everywhere and scrutinizing his every move.
“What? Does your woman need a reason to follow you?” Vera asked, rolling her eyes.
“...Fine, it’s not like I’m coming along just to monitor you,” Vera said a few moments later when Kurdak didn’t respond, “I’m just worried you’ll get jumped. It won’t be easy for someone as weighed down as you to deal with, so I came along just in case.”
Thank goodness, Kurdak thought sarcastically.
“Are you really that curious?”
“Yes. What made you think I would not want to know what we’re really up to?” Vera said, her eyes glittering with anticipation.
Her insatiable curiosity was both one of her charms and one of her worst weaknesses.
There was no point in keeping things hidden, Vera would not let him go unless he either told her or she found out for herself.
“Kill everyone there except for one.”
“You want to catch someone alive? You won’t get much by interrogation.”
Kurdak suddenly shoved his hand over her mouth.
“Who said we’re going to interrogate him? I want to let him go!”
“Mmmmph!” Vera muffled a cry through his fingers.
Thank goodness he knew the woman well enough to stop her mouth first, otherwise the entire enemy army would be on them by now.
Kurdak waited for her cry to die down before letting go.
“Are you crazy? If you let him go the whole army will be after us!” she whispered.
“Oh, do you? Then you know this is too dangerous!”
Vera couldn’t handle that Kurdak was this calm.
“This is our mission.”
“What in the world does Alissanda want? It’s one thing not to tell others about it, but doesn’t he trust us at all?”
Kurdak caved. Vera was on the edge of a complete freakout, which would be as bad for his health as it would be for the whole teams. He put his mouth to her ear and whispered a few words into it.
Vera’s pupils quickly contracted into little dots as her eyes widened into saucers.
“He actually dares? What gall...”
“You know now, so stop complaining. Alissanda’s has the most dangerous part. How can I or you complain about danger when he’s taking the worst of it?”
“Damnit… fine...” Vera nodded and drew her dagger. “--Let me do it. If you go, we might accidentally let two people go. That would be too fake.”
Kurdak’s face quickly became worried.
“Yes I can, you numbskull! I’m a mid-order ranger. What’re two low-order small fries gonna do to me?”
“And who was it that got taken out by a second rate assassin?” Kurdak murmured under his breath.
Thankfully, the bastard in question had cooled down quite a lot since his beatings at the hands of Annelotte and Kurdak. He was instead a very nervous and anxious wreck these days.
“Huh? Say that again?” Vera turned around, her face black.
“No-nothing. Good luck. I look forward to your heroic return...”
“That’s more like it.”
The mistress nodded, satisfied with her pet’s answer.
The two sentries stood watch in a hidden trench. They only looked up from time to time. Most of their time was spent talking hollow nothings as they waited for their shift to end. They were so engrossed in their tales that they didn’t notice their would-be killer arrive.
Vera frowned, stepping on a twig and snapping it intentionally.
The two guards turned around instinctively to see their tall, red-haired reaper with a bombastic figure staring at them coldly, dagger in hand.
“Enemy attack!” the sentries cried in unison as they dashed at the figure.
The woman sidestepped their attacks and leapt at one.
Bells and trumpets started sounding on the nearby hills and shouts drifted over on the gentle breeze.
“Go report this to the commander! I’ll hold her here!” cried the pinned sentry.
“Aren’t you brave?” the with whispered, plunging her dagger into the man’s waist.
Luckily his thick winter gear absorbed the blade, letting it punch only two centimeters into his flesh.
He finally willed his impetus into motion, blowing his assailant back. The shove was followed with an immediate kick which sent the witch flying.
She rolled on the ground a few times before shooting to her feet again though. The younger sentry was gone. The two believed they could take her together, but their duty was to watch and report, so one had to go back to camp.
“Damn it!” the woman shouted as she watched the younger sentry vanish.
She dashed after him a moment later.
“Oh no you don’t!” the other sentry cried as he leapt back into combat with the witch.
Ugh, I’m no good at this... Vera thought.
She could hold the warrior back by sheer force, but the difference in their skill levels at hand to hand combat made up for much of the difference between the two’s strength. That said, Vera had enough of a lead, she has double his strata, to keep him busy. But she wasn’t happy. Leguna, the little brat, would no doubt have killed him the moment he revealed himself.
She kept the facade up long enough to make sure the other sentry was long gone, then leapt out of the fight, flinging a knife into the soldier’s throat as she left.
“Hehe. I might not be very good at fighting you face to face, but give me a little space and you’re dead!” Vera smiled viciously.
She had been the one to teach Leguna how to through knives, but now he was better than her. That said, though, she was still very good. The man’s eyes glassed over in the midst of an expression of utter disbelief, gazing up at the sky through the canopy.
“Sorry,” Vera said, closing his eyes.
Vera had developed this habit since coming to the western battlefield. She would always say a small apology while closing her human victims’ eyes if she had the time. She disliked killing people. Unfortunately that was her job, and her skill set did not permit her to get another, so she had no choice but to keep killing.
Kurdak had once told her in the early days of her career that “Mercenaries can apologize and feel regret, but only once they are facing only corpses.”
“Done?” Kurdak asked as he came over.
“Yes. I one dead and the other on its way to their camp,” she nodded.
“Alright, go get some rest.”
Besides Vera’s ‘failure’ everything had gone exactly to plan, no one else escaped.
The outposts were recent construction, the wood pools of the watchtowers had yet to grow a covering of moss. No doubt they were built specifically to protect Haden’s supply lines. He was a cautious bastard, but even he clearly hadn’t thought the place would be targeted by elites.
The men rummaged through the dead men’s sacks and found some rations. They quickly distributed it amongst them before hunkering down for a little rest.
“Alright,” Kurdak woke them two hours later, “Time to move! Let’s head back and mount up. We’re going southwest.”
The men glanced at him with their by now usual perplexed expressions.
“Aren’t we here to destroy Stok’s supplies? Why leave now?” one of the men asked.
“One of the guards escaped. We’ve been discovered. We have to get out of here before the reinforcements arrive.”
“What didn’t you tell us earlier?!”
The men seethed, a few clenched and unclenched their fists repeatedly, considering whether they should beat the idiot up.
Kurdak drew Lava Blade immediately.
“Three things. One, everything is within my expectations, I still have everything under control. Two, the Stokians will come soon and staying here is just asking to be killed. Three, I thought the prince said you were to follow my orders no matter what. If you don’t do as I say now, you’re spitting on your prince.”
“We don’t have an issue with you being in command, but we do have an issue with being kept in the dark when you’re doing something this reckless!” Jeff chirped.
“Alright. I suppose there’s no harm in telling you.”
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