"Reporting, Sir! We have sealed off the entire marketplace!"
A fully-armored soldier reported by the door.
Klautz sulked, placed the teacup on the table, and gazed at the smiling man sitting opposite him. The man with long, brown hair was clad in an eye-grabbing armor, had unswerving determination on his face, and a ghastly, ugly scar that had extended all the way from his forehead to his chin.
"Great, pass this message on. We must capture them, understood?"
The soldier saluted and ran off. City owner Klautz stared at the man before him. He exercised his fingers and let out a sneer while sitting back on the couch.
"Never did I expect that the Vice Commander of the South Warzone would be so panicky over a few mercenaries... If outsiders knew about this, they would surely laugh their heads off. Wouldn't they, Lord Ron? You come to my turf for whatever reason and demand to capture some people. Do you even put Paphield in your eyes?"
"I'm sorry for the sudden intrusion, Sir Klautz."
The soldier named Ron revealed a pacifying smile and gestured with his hand. Then, he narrowed his eyes and revealed an enigmatic look while Klautz snorted in disapproval. Although Klautz didn't have a good impression of these Southerners who were obviously up to no good, he couldn't do much as his current forces weren't stronger than theirs.
Ron and his men arrived at Deep Stone City during noon the day before. Initially, Klautz was puzzled because as far as he remembered, this place was under the administrative region of the Southern Warzone. Then, he realised that these people had a hidden agenda because, according to Ron, their intelligence reported that a wanted criminal of the Southern Warzone was seen in this area and they were here to capture him. Furthermore, they had even put in a request for Klautz's permission. This was entirely unnecessary because if the military wanted to capture someone, since when did they need to seek permission with the area's administrative officer?
Klautz wasn't that concerned about the people they were looking to capture, especially when the excuses and reasoning of these people were full of loopholes and completely nonsensical. Did they even need the Vice Commander of the Southern Warzone to personally lead a team of elite soldiers to capture wanted criminals? Could it be that the wanted criminals were Necromancers? For the Vice Commander to even notify Klautz about this capture was already honorable enough for someone of his status.
Besides, they had even brazenly ordered him to assist in sealing off the area. Did they really treat him as a nobody? However, as an administrative officer of a territory, Klautz definitely wasn't so foolish as to fall out with these soldiers. Now that the situation in Paphield wasn't stable, he didn't want to cause any more problems. However, this meant that Klautz could only act according to what the soldiers wanted. In fact, before they initiated the capture, Klautz had secretly sent his men to investigate their targets. If they were any normal human beings, then he would act as though he didn't know anything about it. But if they were some troublesome people, then...
At this moment, a bright reflection flashed in the corner of Klautz's eyes. He remained calm and collected. Then, he stood up with a smile and bowed to Ron.
"Sorry for the inconvenience, Lord Ron. I have some official businesses to attend to... Please pardon me."
Klautz stepped out of the room and closed the door behind him. He approached the balcony on the other end of the hallway, where an old man dressed as a housekeeper kept the mirror in his hand. The old man turned around and greeted Klautz with a polite bow.
"Do you know who is their target?" Klautz asked softly while the old man nodded.
"Yes, Sir. Based on what I've gathered from the marketplace, those knights were trying to capture three young ladies."
"Three young ladies?"
Klautz was stunned.
"Do you know who are they?"
"Yes, Sir. They are members of the Starlight mercenary group. Miss Lize Noir, Miss Anne Viroga, and also another young lady, whom I'm not sure of her identity."
"The Starlight mercenary group?"
Klautz sulked instantly.
"Are you sure that those men were going for them?"
"Yes, Sir. I'm sure. Many have also witnessed the struggles between the knights and the three young ladies."
Klautz gritted his teeth and spun around in circles anxiously. Then, he came to a halt and took in a deep breath. He said to the old housekeeper in a firm tone.
"Go! Find a team of elites right now and get them to enter the marketplace to rescue the three young ladies! Also, see if the leader of the Starlight mercenary group is back! Go now!"
Although the old housekeeper didn't know why Klautz became so tense, he abided by his order and left instantly. Glancing at the old housekeeper's distant silhouette, Klautz felt a numbing sensation on his scalp. He recollected his thoughts for a moment and returned to the room with a stern expression.
Ron laid down the tea cup on the table and smiled.
"Is anything wrong, Sir Klautz?"
"I'm very sorry, Lord Ron."
Out of line with Ron's expectations, this time, Klautz spoke without any courtesy.
"I recalled something urgent I have to attend to, so I need you to leave. Please forgive me for my lack of manners. Men, please see our visitor out!"
Ron's smile faded. He stared at the city owner and couldn't understand the meaning behind his actions. He stood up with his usual expression and gave Klautz a long, profound stare. Then, he left without saying a word. Judging from Klautz's attitude, Ron sensed that he wouldn't get an answer from Klautz even if he asked. Ron wasn't an idiot either; Klautz must have heard some news for him to have such a dramatic change in attitude. Since that was the case, Ron didn't need to stay any longer. He had to figure out what exactly led to the sudden change in Klautz's attitude. Could it be that there was a slip-up in his plan?
Utter chaos was brewing in the marketplace.
"Those guys are following real close!"
Anne was getting sick of the knights following closely behind. Although the knights couldn't beat Anne in a one-to-one fight, they were more advantageous in numbers. Furthermore, they were well-coordinated in their attacks, which was strenuous to the two maidens. Moreover, there was also Christie, who couldn't keep up with the pace.
Christie's complexion turned pale and even green as she sprinted alongside Lize. Her slim legs shivered continuously and she almost couldn't support herself. Although Lize had been looking after Christie all this while, such a strenuous exercise was indeed too much on the little girl. But, even so, Christie gritted her teeth and had no intentions of giving up.
"Let's go, Lize."
"We can't, Anne."
Lize shook her head resolutely.
"Christie won't be able to take it anymore if this goes on!"
"Then we can only finish them off."
Anne knew that they couldn't run any further. If the little girl pushed herself more, she might collapse at any time. Christie wasn't healthy to start with, and it was a miracle that she had held on for so long.
Anne turned around abruptly. The shield in her hand transformed its shape instantly as it crashed into the ground. At this moment, Lize instantly casted her healing spells to ease Christie's pain.
"These bastards came to find trouble out of nowhere. They are so gonna get it from Leader once he's back!"
At this moment, the knights realised that the maidens couldn't escape anymore. They swiftly surrounded them in all directions.
"Under the name of the garrison, I once again demand you to drop your weapon and surrender!"
"In your dreams!"
Anne's brows twitched. Even a young lady with such a pure, innocent character like Anne was annoyed to have been chased for no apparent reasons. There was never a chance of her surrendering just like that! Besides, the knights repeatedly mentioned that they were from the garrisons, which added to their suspicion. No matter how they observed them, they looked like nobles' private soldiers. So what were they trying to do, posing as the garrison?
Lize watched attentively while tugging on Anne's hand, hinting at her to not act rashly.
"Who exactly are you people? What do you want?"
The knights shrunk their encirclement. Lize clenched her teeth and was at her wits' end.
Do we really have to give up? But what will happen to Christie?
Lize hugged the little girl in her arms even closer. Anne clasped to her shield and waited for an opportunity to retaliate.
At this moment, both of them didn't realise that Christie, who was observing the surroundings blankly and had her purple pupils covered by her long hair, was beginning to emanate a faint radiance...
"Take them down!"
The leader swung his arm and commanded. The other knights charged forward with their raised weapons!
Lize shut her eyes in fear. A deep sense of helplessness grew in her heart.
Suddenly, a sword emerged from the side and deflected their attacks.