Chapter 66 – Unfair Trade (3)

Chapter 66 Unfair Trade (3)

It was a night when the dark clouds swallowed the moon whole.

Lord Smuggler and the Merchant Alliance gritted their teeth and made their way through the jungle.

“Eek! Damn mosquitoes! I’m sick of this damn jungle.”

They grunted in exhaustion.

They made their way back to base camp, swatting at the mosquitoes with the palms of their hands as they clung to them with their freakishly long stingers.

There, a group of rugged-looking men gathered, waiting for the traders.

The furry man in the front row smirked at Lord Smuggler.

“By the looks of your wounds, it didn’t go well, did it?”


Lord Smuggler didn’t answer, instead shifting his pack nervously.

The men nearby chuckled.

“See? The Balak are not to be talked to.”

“What kind of business is it to trade with such beasts?”

“Just kill them and enslave them all. Savages.”

They were a mercenary group of ex-convicts, escaped prisoners, and deserters wanted by the Empire.

Lord Smuggler warned the mercenaries.

“Don’t take the Balak lightly, they’re not easy to defeat in combat, and you’re new to the region, so you may not realize it…….”

“Oh never mind, if you’re so scared, why did you bring us here in the first place, didn’t you bring us here to upset the deal if it went bad?”

“No, well, we’ve got escorts from the demons, and we’d rather…… than go to all-out war with the Balak.”

Lord Smuggler pursed his lips in concern.

But even he, who normally would not have dreamed of an all-out war with the Balak, could not resist the sight of the vast amount of trade goods left behind in the Balak’s village.

Even the mercenaries and some of the merchants who were new to the jungle began to raise their voices.

“You can’t just waste money like this! I spent a lot of money in the merchant guild’s auction to participate in this trade!”

“Didn’t we agree to pay for our protection as a percentage of the gross profits of the trade? Do you think I protected you from demons for a pittance like this?”

“What’s wrong with Balak? We ambush them in the dead of night, set them on fire, take their goods, and that’s it!”

Veteran merchants who have traded with the Balak a few times know the fears of the Balak warriors.

But even they were greedy for the goods they had left behind in Balak’s village.

In the end, the vote was close to majority, with a few silent votes in favor.

Lord Smuggler spoke, his sword half-sheathed at his waist.

“Very well, now that it’s getting dark, let’s go quietly and take inventory, and I don’t think I need to tell you who we’re going to kill first.”

The faces of the mercenaries and merchants around him changed.

They see it too. Who ruined their trade today.

“You mean that sneaky little bastard? Okay, we got it.”

“I’ll be the first to put a knife in that cocky black kid’s ass.”

“But he didn’t look black to me. His palms were black. Usually black people have white palms, don’t they?”

“Maybe he’s from the Empire? That would explain why he spoke Imperial so well.”

All the men, including Lord Smuggler, chimed in at once.

Their spears and swords were sharpened, and they were ready to burn everything to the ground.

And then.

In the darkness, they performed their rituals.

Not much of a ritual, really, just a cigarette.


The cigarette was lit.

One of the mercenaries takes the cigarette in his mouth and strikes a match to the end of it.

Next, the mercenary next to him takes the match and lights a cigarette.

Soon, he’s about to blow it out.

The third mercenary reaches out and stops him, annoyed.

“Oh come on, blow out the match, there’s still more to burn.”

“Come on, you’re a newbie, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

The first mercenary and the second mercenary sneered at the third mercenary.

“Don’t you know that there’s a saying in war that a single match shouldn’t be shared by three people?”

“What? Is there such a thing?”

“There is. A match can only be lit by two people.”

The third mercenary snorted.

“I don’t believe in that shit.”

He quickly puts the cigarette in his mouth to the match, fearing it will go out.

The next moment, the match that ignited the three cigarettes goes out.


A dull sound echoed through the darkness.

The third mercenary’s cigarette was gone. And his head, too.

The first mercenary and the second mercenary stood there, covered in a hot liquid that splashed into their faces.

Blood. The blood of their decapitated comrades.

Before they could even realize it.

…Puck! …Puck!

Two more arrows flew by.

The arrows were aimed at the cigarettes and struck the mercenaries squarely in the mouths or throats, separating their heads from their bodies.


Lord Smuggler quickly threw the cigarette to the ground.



The cigarette on the ground was instantly struck by an arrow.

The arrows were powerful enough to blow up the surrounding area upon impact, and they rained down from the darkness of the water like a shower of rain.

“Cigarettes! Drop the cigarettes!

An arrow lodged in the mouth of the mercenary captain, who was shouting instructions.

The mercenary captain lost most of his head, saving only his uvula and lower jaw, and collapsed to the bottom of the floodwaters.

Anyone else who screamed, even for a moment, at the suddenness of the situation was struck by arrows in the mouth and throat.

The mercenaries, who had numbered over a hundred, were quickly cut in half, then in half again.

In a matter of seconds.

…… Meanwhile.

Beyond the rain of arrows, Balak’s archers grinded their teeth.

“First cigarette, position, second cigarette, distance, third cigarette.”

Huntmaster Aiyen ordered.


Aiyen, who had just sent an arrow flying, turned his head and smiled.

“So there it is. Crazy bastards trying to fight us first.”

The Balak are basically a fighting people.

There’s no way they’re going to avoid a fight on foot when they’re the ones who start it in the first place.

Aiyen sniped at the mercenaries and merchants in the distance, looking pleased, refreshed, and exhilarated.

They had a knack for picking out the most faint of lights, the faintest of sounds.

They had a knack for picking out the faintest of lights, the brightness of a cigarette, and driving their flesh into it.

The same was as of sound.

Whether the words have left the mouth, are still near the uvula, or have not yet departed the lungs, the arrow will always hit the spot where the sound resides.

For a moment, Aiyen fired her bow with joy, but then Vikir tugged on her arm.


Aiyen’s eyes widened.


“Don’t kill them all. Spare some of them.”

“Why should I?”

Aiyen frowned. Then he spoke.

“You don’t mean forgiveness or tolerance, do you? Words like that, from a crumbling empire…….”

“Not that.”

Vikir held up a hand, cutting Aiyen off.

He stared coldly at the few lights flickering in the darkness.

” ……I’m saying that because with a group that size, there’s a good chance there’s a backup group.”

Vikir had purposely left the survivors behind, planning to map out their escape route.

And the location of any base camps that might be in the rear.

Aiyen paused slightly at Vikir’s demeanor, which was far harder and sharper than her own.

Then, a smile forms at the corners of her mouth.

“……Good, I got in.”

I’ve never been able to figure out what she’s giving passing marks for, Vikir thought.

* * *

Vikir’s guess was correct.

An arrow pierced his shoulder, and Lord Smuggler scrambled to his feet and made his way through a narrow canyon between rock and boulder.

Behind him, in a spacious campsite, were the remnants of the waiting mercenaries.

A hundred or so men emerged from the barracks to cover the defeated soldiers.

“We’re confident in a hand-to-hand combat!”

“Arrows will be useless against our shields!”

“Aura users, come out!”

“Mages, assemble! Shields to block the arrows!”

There were many mages among the mercenaries, and soon shields were set up to block the arrows.



This time, something rather strange began to fly.

Several arrows fell from above in a parabolic arc, with ropes hanging from their nocks.

And at the end of each of those ropes was a large wooden barrel.


The mercenaries muttered in despair.

A few arrows join forces and bring the barrels down, one by one.

Boom! Boom!

As soon as they hit the ground or hit the shields, the barrels shatter, scattering wood splinters and spraying oil everywhere.

Then a hail of flames began to ignite the oil.


In an instant, the inferno had completely surrounded the mercenaries’ base camp.

Even if they managed to escape the fire, their food, water, medicines, and weapons were all burning inside the barracks, and it was now impossible to escape the jungle alive.


Those who are unlucky enough to be dead, and those who are even unluckier enough not to be dead already, share the same fate.

Lord Smuggler was shaking with rage.

“Tying a rope to several arrows and sending a barrel of oil flying? Do these bastards have such brains?”

Lord Smuggler had seen Balak’s archers fight many times, but this was the first time he knew they could fight like this.

If only he had known how clever his enemies were, he wouldn’t have picked a fight in the first place.

Right then.

As Lord Smuggler floundered in the flames, something entered his vision.


He could be seen standing still beyond the searing flames.

Lord Smuggler gritted his teeth.

“You bastard, did you set this up too!”

“… ……should I say you have a keen eye?”

Vikir said, looking around.

All around them were bodies, flames, death, and explosions.

It was a mockery that if he had been quicker, he wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place.

Lord Smuggler’s eyes rolled back in his head as he heard the words.

“I’ll kill you, you bastard!”

At that moment.

Vikir picked up something.

It was a bow and arrow.


The arrow, which flew with some force, stuck into Lord Smuggler’s lower abdomen.


It hit him in an obscure spot. A spot that wouldn’t kill him immediately, but would still be quite painful and deadly.

“……Gosh, I wasn’t exactly aiming for that.”

Vikir cleared his throat apologetically.

He’d learned archery from Aiyen, but he still felt he wasn’t good enough.


Sorry is sorry, and regardless, Vikir draws another shot.

Lord Smuggler stretched out his bloodied hand and waved it in anger.

“Now, wait a minute, you can’t kill me, or you’ll be terribly sorry! I’m serious!”

“Why is that?”

Vikir asked, and Lord Smuggler dug into his bosom and pulled out a bloody piece of paper.

“This, this is a prospecting permit from the city of Underdog! It’s real! It’s not a forgery! It has the stamp of the newly appointed Deputy Magistrate! I have the Baskervilles behind me!”

Lord Smuggler’s words were true, for now.

He was one of the researchers officially licensed to explore.

Vikir paused for a moment, then said.

“Bring it over here.”

Vikir gestured toward Lord Smuggler.

Lord Smuggler winced in pain, but took the bloody license and held it out in front of Vikir.

With his other hand, he reached for the dagger hidden in his waistband.

Just then.


Vikir wiped the tan from his face.

At that moment, Lord Smuggler’s eyes widened to tears.

“Da, are you……!?”

Recognizing Vikir’s identity, Lord Smuggler was so surprised that he dropped his dagger to the ground.

Staring at the blade on the ground, Vikir smirked dryly.

Then he said.

“I take it back.”

He wiped his fingers across his face and drew an X across the stigma on the permit.

The permit became legally invalid in real time before Smuggler’s eyes.

Having revoked the permit’s authority by tampering with it himself, Vikir finally throws it into the flames and burns it.

At the same time.


An arrow hits Lord Smuggler right in the middle of his forehead.

And then.

…puck! …puck! …puck! …puck! …puck!

Four more arrows lodge in roughly the same place.

Lord Smuggler’s skull was split several times, almost beyond recognition.

“He was a sour one.”

Aiyen snorted, coming to stand beside Vikir.

Just then.

“Captain, it’s time to get out!”

Ahun called from behind the flames.

Aiyen quickly picked up Vikir and carried her like a princess.

He climbs onto the back of the wolf Bakira, who is waiting behind him, and they are off like the wind.

Behind them, the shouts of the surviving mercenaries and merchants echoed in the air.

“The Balak are coming! They don’t seem to be outnumbered! We have a chance if we give chase!”

“Hahaha! We’re almost out of flames! The fact that they attacked with fire means they’re not confident in their own strength!”

“We’re alive! We just need to retrieve the rest of the supplies! We’re going to counterattack the Balak!”

Hearing that, Aiyen smirked in disbelief.

“Idiots. They think we started the fire for them.”

“……You’ll find out soon enough.”

Vikir replied coldly.

And then.


The water reacted.

The sound of leaves in a wide area being swept in one direction in unison.

Something huge was coming through the darkness toward them.


A heavy blackness, even heavier than the darkness, casting its shadow across the water.

Explosions, bright lights, and high-pitched shouting erupted from all corners of the merchants’ and mercenaries’ base camps.

And there is one being here that seems to respond to the untimely commotion they create.

The Madam with Eight Legs.

A legendary piece of tales. The moment an untold horror takes an interest in this side.

“Put out the fire! If you put out the fire, we can turn the tables……!?”

“Counterattack! If we counterattack……!?”

“Huh? Wasn’t there something on the other side, I just saw something big……!?”

“Aaaaahhhh help me……!?”

The screams die down, one by one. Fading away.

Aiyen and Vikir clung to Bakira’s back and ran with all their might.


Until they could no longer hear anything behind them.