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That evening when the merchant convoy with its crew reached Millfield Town, the mayor of the town sent an invitation to the inn where the owner of the convoy was staying, inviting him to dinner in his mansion.

The 'owner' accepted the invitation gladly and appeared at the mayor's mansion with his two sons.

The mayor was quite curious about this supposedly wealthy merchant and became delighted when he saw that the merchant had accepted his invitation.

Along with his wife and his butler, the mayor led the merchant and his family to the banquet hall where a delicious feast was prepared.

The mayor's mansion was quite acceptable. It wasn't too big or small and It wasn't too luxurious nor was it modest. Basically, it suited the status of the mayor perfectly.

"Mayor Wilder, forgive us for startling you earlier." The merchant who was supposedly the founder of the large caravan said.

He was a well-built man with a healthy physique, not like the other typical wealthy merchants who were fat and feeble.

Mayor Wilder smiled and shook his head as he said, "It's not a problem. It's just that it's been a while since we saw such a large caravan visiting our small town."

"Hahaha! Well anyhow, it seems that things are rather sensitive here. We didn't receive such a welcome before." The merchant said.

Mayor Wilder smiled bitterly and lamented, "What can I say, the times are harsh these days. Until now, you were traveling in the Duke's jurisdiction. But from here onwards, the Duke's military influence lessens and that's why bandits have been wreaking havoc recently. Please forgive me if I have offended you, I had to be cautious… I hope you don't mind."

"Not at all, if there is such a threat, why don't you submit a petition to the Duke?" The merchant asked curiously.

Hearing this, the mayor sighed and said, "In the previous years, the bandits weren't that active. Actually, there were petitions sent for assistance and the Duke had responded as well. But the bandits always disappear after getting the whiff of the smoke."

"Is that so…" The merchant muttered as he sneakily looked at the black-haired boy beside him and quickly averted his gaze.

"That is enough of the bandit talk, let us have dinner." The mayor's wife suddenly spoke as she gestured at the food that was leaving off hot steams.

The mayor nodded and cheered in excitement, "That is true, we can discuss more while eating. Please…"

The merchant agreed and followed the mayor to the dining table where everyone sat and began eating the local delicacies. Especially the merchant's two sons, one black-haired and one blond boy.

"Ah, that reminds me… I don't know much about you. I was really surprised seeing the Duke's stamp on the proof of identity you showed."

The merchant's eyes widened with realization as he bellowed, "How rude of me, I came as a guest without properly introducing myself! Haha, I am the owner and founder of the Sigrid Trading Company. My name is Clovis Sigrid. I am not from around here. In fact, I have come to this land for the first time. These two are my sons, Klein Sigrid, and Luke Sigrid." 𝐟𝐫eewe𝗯𝐧𝚘ve𝐥.c𝚘𝚖

The two sons, Klein and Luke also bowed and greeted politely, "Hello, thank you for hosting us for the dinner!"

Seeing this, the mayor said, "Sir, your children were quite well-spoken."

"Indeed, hahaha!" Clovis laughed in flattery.

At this moment, the mayor's wife interrupted hesitantly, "Umm… I imagine sir has come from afar… The road is rough and dangerous, I wonder why sir has brought his wonderful children on the arduous journey?"

Clovis wasn't offended at the very least hearing this, instead, he smiled in appreciation and said, "Ho~ My Lady, thank you for worrying but these two stubborn boys insisted on coming. Since you are of this kingdom, you should know about the massive festival that only happens once a decade. Knowing that I was coming here on business, they insisted on coming along."

"Ah! So that is why you have the mercenaries escorting the caravan? That makes more sense. Since you are going to the capital, it must be a long journey for you." Mayor Wilder exclaimed.

"Indeed, the Ducal House of White knows of my family and so I first procured the letter of assurance from the White Family so that we would not be obstructed."

The mayor was shocked hearing this as it had verified his assumption the merchant in front of him had some sort of connection to the Duke.

The mayor's face suddenly grew stiff as he said, "Sir Clovis, you should avoid the main route while going forward. The bandits have truly gone rogue. I'm afraid they might launch an assault."

"Haha! No need to worry, we have the protection of the mercenaries! We can't take another route as that would reduce our trading options as well as take more time to reach the capital in time."

Now Mayor Wilder was curious as to what the merchant was actually transporting and so he asked bluntly, "May I know what you are doing business of?"

Hearing this, Clovis became silent as his face became solemn. After much contemplation, he leaned forward and spoke in a hushed voice, "I feel that I owe mayor Wilder for such hospitality. So I shall tell you.. We are a business of weapons with your Kingdom."

Mayor Wilder's jaw dropped hearing this as he nodded his head in a way as if he finally understood something.

"I see, thank you for telling me this. Please… Have some more." The mayor said, gesturing at the pallets of food.

Clovis laughed heartily and the dinner continued merrily with discussions and talks ringing in the dining hall. After the dinner, the mayor extended his invitation to spend the night in his mansion and Clovis was more than happy to accept.

***

Meanwhile, in the place where all the Sigrid Company's goods were stored under a heavy guard of mercenaries, a shadowy figure suddenly dashed forward discreetly and quickly.

The figure cleverly avoided the detection of the mercenaries and made its way to the large crates full of unknown goods placed in the transportation carts.

It was a time of night and the surroundings were only illuminated by the glimmer of torches. On top of that, there was a two-minute blind spot between the mercenary guards patrolling which made the unknown person's task easy.

The task was difficult but not impossible. And for the person in question, it was just a matter of finesse. The snooper was very agile and they could easily maneuver in the vicinity of the storehouse without being detected. Their steps were soft like feathers and made absolutely no noise. This was truly some impressive skill of thieves.

The person covered in black robes and a hood over their head soon broke into the warehouse avoiding the eye of the guards. To them, it almost felt pretty easy.

The person then walked quickly with soft steps and opened one of the crates lying in the cart and saw what was inside, their eyes showing through the scarf brightened with delight.

As time was running out, the person decided to leave but suddenly thinking of something, they abruptly halted.

Reaching their hand toward the bunch of crates, the person's eyes narrowed with suspicion, and they carefully opened another crate just to be safe.

Confirming that the other crate also had the same contents as the first one, the suspicion in their eyes dimmed somewhat but they still didn't seem completely assured.

As the person's arm extended to open another crate, suddenly, a voice rang, "Who's there?!"

Hearing this sudden scream, the person did not panic and pulled back their arm deciding to abandon the idea of checking one more. Then the person closed their eyes and muttered something under their breath.

Miraculously, their presence completely disappeared as if they were blanketed by the darkness around them.

Taking full advantage of this opportunity, the person's hands moved in a blur as they placed everything as it was before they had opened the crates and then suddenly moved across the storehouse in a flicker, spontaneously disappearing completely.

Then suddenly, the door of the storehouse opened and one of the mercenary guards entered. Cautiously, the man began looking around for anything alarming. He then moved closer to the carts and the crates and looked over to find out if anything seemed wrong.

Finally, seemingly satisfied, sensing that nothing seemed to be wrong, the man left the storehouse and closed the door behind his back.

After the guard left, the flickering silhouette of the unknown shadowy person appeared with a condescending, proud smirk on their face. Then the unknown person also disappeared and everything returned to routine as if nothing had happened in the first place.

But then just as it seemed that everything was going orderly just like before and no one had noticed what had happened, the mercenary guard who had checked the storehouse before returned with a slight smile on his face as the leaves of the nearby towering tree flickered slightly.

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