Mistake 7; Establishment in Frost City.
I found a wide cave close to the road. I made Tamotsu lead the horses and carriage to it. This way we were undisturbed. Akemi lit a fire and had the girls do a quick wash and shared our rations. We gave them cloaks to block the chill of the night. Morning will be only a few hours away.
I stood at a distance and willed the ring empty. I don’t want to be conjuring more body parts near the campfire like a freak show. Tamotsu was left on the hill above to guard. The most important decisions were left to us, being the eldest. I trust the judgment and insights of these girls.
I didn’t conjure any horrors, but I did get a bag containing about 300 of these red gems dropped from the guards. Those were demon infiltrators, similar to humans and twice as strong. Good thing we decided on grinding levels.
The best things in the bags were a pouch of 1000 gold, and most important a skill book, Cleave. A few trinkets and weapons were the rest; maybe he left the riches home?
Does this guy like that skill so much? It should be noted that before he was ruthlessly killed off by these barbarian girls, he was in possession of one skill. The guy from before, Tetsuya was the same.
Are skill books in this world rare? Anyway I send the book up with one of the girls to Tamotsu to learn. Akemi agreed that it would be a good complement to his attacking skills. I am still thinking about what I want to excel in.
We brief the girls. Kuruma Yuka and Hozon Ume are both 16 and have no job allocation in this world. Kuruma Yuka has not leveled up and Hozon Ume is a level 1. We exchange information, all little gossip and conversations that were overheard by them. This guy was what we called; an 8th year, 4 years more experience in this world than Tetsuya. I guess that explains his cockiness and his position.
Our knowledge increased again. Watanabe Dai was sent to the northern villages to the west that is why he returned early. All Travelers are brought to the north city of Frost for movement into Hellfire. Because of the severity from the bosses, killings was supposed to be done in extreme resistance. These guys however had no conscious in doing the deed, especially in front of scared girls.
There are about 100 villages in the Empire as noted by Watanabe Dai. He and Tetsuya were supposed to deal with the villages in the north and begin assisting in the collection at the mansion in Frost City. There are 25 of them in total who were sent into the Empire. Makes you feel like cattle being herded to slaughter.
Sealing can only be done in the Citadel so movement is done in batches. This means the mansion acts as the jail and holding area until prisoners are taken to be killed or used in Hellfire. It all depends on how willing and if you are a girl who is beauty, willing or not you will be taken.
Now for the best part. The mansion is located in the City of Frost and is owned by an upcoming Traveler Hero of the city called Arakawa Shiro. He is one of the Travelers who pledged allegiance to the Empire. For nearly 7 years he has staunchly led his party across to Hellfire waging war against the demons. Because of his contributions his supply caravans are allowed free access into Hellfire to aid in war efforts.
His party consists of himself and 5 black knights. These men are so feared that their faces are constantly hidden by a visor. They are said to be as powerful as 10 knights combined. They are planning a large incursion into Hellfire soon.
If we assault Mr. wanabe hero and his band of riff raft, we can have a base of operations to pick off these traitors and free the prisoners. Unless we encounter a large party we have the element of surprise.
Once that goal is completed, we should move away and set up a base of operations.
From the way these guys operate, I suspect there will be mostly girls held captive, frightened and in despair. Imagine their reaction when I, the lone male (I think I will let Tamotsu stand guard outside, far outside) rescues them. Being released from that sort of desperation will make any girl treat you as her hero.
Ahaaaaaaa! If the girls are just half as cute and sexy like these girls, my harem dream will be complete. I think I can live that life in comfort…..eheheheh. Drools slips from a lecherous smiling mouth.
I look around and see Kuruma Yuka and Hozon Ume blushing and turning their heads to the side. The others are trying to make small talk. Miki looks intently at me; I can just see her remembering what Hiromi told her the day we met.
- Your intentions are said to loud. You should not frighten us.
- Eh? No, no, no, I was just dreaming, hey it’s a dream, any boys dream, ok please believe me.
I answer Miki and plead to her.
- Nakamura is too honest. I think that’s why I can trust you.
- Yes, a huge pervert, but he wouldn’t dare to force a girl.
- I think he is dependable. Sometimes you just need to make do with what you have.
I get those mumbled replies as everyone scatters. Damn all of you!
We rest till dawn; it was only about 2 hours anyway. We hid the carriage and freed the horses. The plan was a continuation as before; we will continue grinding levels in the forest. I keep the map open; we are not straying too far from the road just in case I spot others.
I will level up Kuruma Yuka and Hozon Ume to level 2. This will give them some health buffer. The main levelers are those with the attack skills. Tamotsu is itching to try out his cleave. Me, Kuruma Yuka and Hozon Ume are the bag carriers and act as watchmen. During the nights we camp near the road. If there is any movement they wake me so I can check the map.
For three more days we grinded with hardly any rest, I am sure the forested area near Keel and Frost were cleared out of monsters. We arrived at the gates of Frost city at midday on the fourth day. I think we were let in quickly because we looked like beggars. When I pulled out the guild card, the guards just asked if we were a party and let us enter. The girls had hooded cloaks on, no amount of mud, slime and blood on their faces could hide their beauty in broad daylight.
I found an inn near the city gates and we scattered for a bath, warm food and sleep. I rented an extra room. This is our watch room in the city. One person is always waking here; the room is always near our sleeping quarters.
I was on first watch with Akemi. We tried to have a fighter and a mage pair. I am still wary of someone with my skill existing.
With the map, I can cover just an eighth of the city. Baring the castle fort in the center, I plan to walk around the city in a circle searching for other Travelers. Tomorrow Hiromi and I will do this first, while the others remain here. Hiromi is a versatile person with both long and short range attacks. Miki is left to support as healer if an emergency arises in the inn.
I know there are other Travelers posing as friends of the Empire like this Arakawa Shiro. I want to see how much are there.
The next day I moved about with a cloaked Hiromi. This girl is a kingdom killing beauty. I cannot have her dressed up in public, which will be instant attraction, recognition and death. We start early and move slowly like rookie adventurers looking for an inn or tavern. I finally reach to the noble quarters of the city. Here the roads are wider and the mansions in large estates. We pass by the estate of Arakawa Shiro, it is large and the mansion from the road is huge.
Two red dots are moving about. That was easy; I thought it would be like the cave once inside you can’t show up on the map. Only if the person is somewhere deep in a hidden room or a cave then I can’t pick them up. As if to answer me, one red dot disappears. It seems that this place has a cellar or dungeon.
We continue with our walk around the city. There were about 4 more red dots scattered around, but relatively far from the mansion. I faintly saw one around the central castle. Given so long in this world, I guess Travelers have infiltrated and settled everywhere.
Arriving full circle at the inn, we joined up with the others and had a meal. I want to see what this Arakawa Shiro character is like. I want to keep my belief that some of these Travelers have just submitted to the Saidai to keep their lives. I’m not naive though, if you killed a fellow Traveler well…..hehe.
Night time in the Noble district of Frost City. Amidst the hustling of the people trying to find their way home, we entered the grounds of the Arakawa estate.
Hey being Heroic doesn’t mean gate crashing all the time you know, this time we entered crawling through the shrubbery at the back of the Mansion.
Wow! This is one big a@# house. No wonder these Travelers are contented living here. Hell, even I might have a change of heart.
I grab a stone as the others fan out behind the trees and shrubs in this garden. One strike I shatter one of the 10+ bedroom windows. I did this for spite, no I didn’t!
Almost immediately we are blessed with company as three of the infamous Black Knights appear. Too bad these guys have the same Health as the ones we faced before. I attack the first on the scene, basic kendo strike. Tamotsu blocks the strike of the second; this guy is showing off, he’s showing off his skills. I will work him into dust!
The last one is hit by the usual combo Fireball, Ice bolt. When he moves with those rusted joints courtesy of the freezing effect towards those girls, he is greeted with an OneBlade as Toshiko attacks from behind a bush. Ume and Yuka are both near the back, covered by Miki.
As the health of the knight I’m fighting approaches zero, I leave him and help Tamotsu. Hiromi strikes him with a fireball, finishing him for experience. Black mist and a red gem increases moral as its demons we are killing. Tamotsu uses Cleave and finishes the guy with me. The last guy is rubbed out by the budding assassin.
All this is finished in the space of a few breaths. Hell! You think we have been flirting all this time? Man, this is the result of pure sweat….god I mean sweat!
I check the map and confirm that Arakawa and another person are still in the house. Good they still haven’t moved. I had thrown the stone at the side furthers from them, hoping to lure just the guards. What luck the demons came instead. Or maybe they are the guards?
I aim another stone. Hey I’m not doing this for spite you know!
This time I see movement as one of the red dots move slowly in the rectangle block. Hey this map has no satellite function you know! Before he reaches, the last two Black Knights appear.
Well this will be quick. I handle them with Tamotsu; we keep the magic for the big fry. Before the red dot leaves the house via a door, I pierce one through the heart. My sword is of a higher quality than Tamotsu’s. He can only block and do damage to exposed parts. I finish this guy off and help him dispatch that demon.
Tamotsu falls back for Miki to Heal; I want everyone to be in top shape. We don’t know what to expect.
One of the red dots makes an appearance. This guy hasn’t seen us fighting so he is unaware of our skills. Let’s play with him.
- Sempaii! Are you a traveler like us?
- Who are you, who did you, come with?
This person is still clueless; he has the air of the magical girl type. I mean he is a mage.
- We came with Watanabe Dai senpai, oh there he is!
I point to his back. He turns calling, apparently he and Watanabe Dai are bestest of friends. I should be a good guy and help them to meet up.
- Ice Bolt!
- Amaterasu heaven strike!!!!!
I saw this idiot freeze, heh! He is Japanese alright. Probably wondering where I got that OP Skill name.
Huh? Why are you all looking at me like that? I was standing with a foot on this guy’s back staring at them, what so I can’t even have an imaginary skill too?
I question this guy as I tie him up with the rope we bought for the servants. Apparently the servants work on certain days to clean. It usually just Arakawa Shiro and his friends, or women depending on his preference. It’s like designating a pizza or taco night back home.
Damn bastards! I will not forgive you.
We leave this one tied up for information later. Then depending on his past actions, he will possibly get to meet Watanabe Dai.
I smash another stone in the window, this time closest to the door. During the nights it’s only these guys. I guess this will make things easier. I have a feeling that they use the night to receive and process prisoners. I will confirm this; it will make our operation here much easier.
The last red dot moves to the outside, these guys have no fear, they are unsuspecting of us. I shout out.
- Hey? Oie? Over here!
- Huh! Who are you?
- I’m Hidioshi Gamabuta, I am here to deliver these girls Kuruma Yuka and Hozon Ume as gifts from the Saidai.
- Saidai? How come I don’t know you?
- Are you questioning the might of the Hellfire lords? Can’t you see my ring idiot!
- Ahaa! I apologize, please come in…. where’s Jun-san?
- I sent him for the carriage, what the hell, are you all getting fat here? I will report you idiots; do you want to lose this position?
- Sorry, I will not question your judgment.
- Wonderful, now does the mansion have traps? Does it have a dungeon to hold the fresh batch from the wave?
- No, no traps since it would appear suspicious to the hired help and when we host formal gathering.
- Will we be expecting any arrivals tonight?
- Yes, Watanabe Dai is a bit late so he should be coming in tonight, Tatsuya should also be coming in tonight. He is about 2 days late; I called over Jun-san to head out to look for him.
- I see, well then. Lets carry out the rest of this conversation in the dungeon, shall we
And so, the magic rained down on him. He is supposed to be a fighter so I am wary off him. His health bar is slightly higher than Watanabe. I act as the tank keeping him focused and blocking him from attacking the girls. Halfway through he shouted “Quake”. The ground about 10ft radius around him shook and formed a small crater.
I fell, but he didn’t bother attacking me and ran to the girls drinking a health potion.
Tamotsu sprang in front and used block to negate his strike. He is still weaker than him, so in accordance with our plan he withdrew. One lucky shot from this person with higher power and dexterity can kill you. When he moved away the Fireball and Ice bolt strikes came in.
At this time, in the half frozen state an OneBlade was presented to him. That dropped his life straight down to critical. Before he could swallow another health potion I jumped him and knocked him over. We gagged him and searched both him and Jun-san. Then we dragged them into the mansion to tour the intricacies of the dungeon.
I didn’t strip them to their underwear, I have graduated from that. I will remind myself that if you do bleed out in this world you will grow weak and die. It is not like you maintain your full strength even though your health bar is low as in a game. We are all living being here. There are lots of ways to weaken someone: source manga…hehe.
We collect the gems and the equipment taken from these guys and go inside the mansion.
I make the girls and Tamotsu wait with Jun-chan and head inside with Arakawa Shiro. Only when I am satisfied there are no hidden traps do I call them. We then carry Arakawa and Jun-chan to the dungeon. Ironically the entrance is a small stone staircase located behind the bookshelf in the library. No, my map doesn’t detect hidden entrances; I guess that’s why they disappeared when we were monitoring the mansion.
The dungeon is huge and fill with your standard chain locks and jail cells. There is even a torture chamber with the body stretcher devices. Arakawa seems to prefer this; he has three in his possession.
Not to waste time, and seeing the lonely torture device, I quickly occupy two with Shiro and Jun-kun. Leaving Tamotsu and Miki on guard, I make sure the prisoner’s health are low and that even I can’t break the chains. I get the feeling that this was built for Travelers.
Accompanying the others we head up to the mansion. I let the girls take a bath and eat something light. Then I follow suit and take a long relaxing bath. When finished I relieve Miki and Tamotsu. My map treats this dungeon like a separate area; I need to find a balance. I don’t want to be monitoring prisoners when new enemies arrive. I also don’t want to be upstairs monitoring when the prisoners are breaking loose in the dungeon. And no, it doesn’t work when I stand in the doorway by the bookshelf.
When everyone had organized themselves I make Shiro-san explain the workings of this mansion. Having girls like Akemi, Hiromi and Toshiko around is a blessing. Between them we cover everything from the milkman to the cleaning days by the maids. We also get any pertinent information regarding fellow travelers and if they are expected or report in.
Apparently Shiro-san keeps a low profile in the city. Fellow travelers steer clear, maintaining his profile as an upcoming hero. He has no dealings with his kind that says it all. It makes his mansion thus even more feasible for the smuggling and underhanded activities.
We only have to worry about the local activities like the maids during the day. The transport of prisoners is done at night; this has the added bonus of being security deliveries and movements to the front line by hero Shiro-san.
What a plan! Even I can’t work the system like that.
Shiro-san readily signs some documents provided by Akemi stating his departure secretly to the battlefront. It states he has left us in charge of the mansion for up keeping until his triumphant return. It also has a clause stating that his departure must be kept in absolute secrecy to prevent enemies knowing his plans.
Wow! This girl is good; she just robbed this now 2 inches taller man of his house and home. This stretcher thing works great too!
We locate his stash, this will assist us in living here the coming days and prevent unwanted visitors. Last thing I want is the delivery girl spreading rumors to the fellow travelers around. I want to pick these guys out one by one.
Guarding Shiro-san and Jun-chan is done in pairs. I come down occasionally during the day and night to make sure their health is at near optimum critical. If not torture ensues. I use map to monitor the mansion during the day. If I am asleep, one of the girls will wake me if someone is coming down the driveway. Most of the time it’s the delivery persons from respective shops.
A few maids come every day, but they only work in the mornings cleaning and cooking. Shiro-san seems to like eating out in evenings. It shouldn’t be a problem though, since he is known to move secretly to the front unexpectedly.
Shiro-san hasn’t killed any travelers yet; he has assisted and accompanied those who did the deed. We wrung this out, literally from him using the stretching device. His fellow friend Jun-kun has killed those he came with and those in the four year batch. Jun-kun is an accomplished mage, with the lightening ability. After getting much as we can from him, judgment was passes.
Poor Jun-kun joined his friend Watanabe Dai. After this Shiro-san became mightily corporative, guess he knows we mean business. The girls are still deciding his fate though; I am just the executioner for the time.
Of course we were active while waiting. I and Toshiko went on a date in the evening. We strolled around the city enjoying the sites. Toshiko had a hooded cloak on though; I would have loved for guys to get jealous of my girl……ahhh!
Had you there didn’t I?
It was a wonderfully boring experience as we tracked and recorded on a small city map the locations of all Travelers. So far we found four. I want to pay all a visit when we are finished with our objective.
And so an edgy 2 days was spent. Finally on the second night our waiting plan bore fruit. A carriage came just after midnight with one red dot and four purple ones.
Hiromi was on guard and she summoned us. I sent Ume and Yuka to replace Tamotsu who was babysitting Shiro-san.
I call dibs on any girls!!