Show Me The Money - LightNovelsOnl.com
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"Hey, those over there." Claude motioned his chin to the three tied up people in the corner of the room to ask the pig-faced guard not to forget them as well as the dead body on the ground. After that, he pocketed Fatbull Bowen's fine deerskin pouches and gathered all the wealth of the thugs into one sack before putting it into his backpack.
The guard hesitated for a moment before going towards Jerad and the other two. Jerad stared at the man angrily, but the guard merely said, "Boss, I am powerless to do anything about this..."
It's not that I don't want to resist, but this mysterious magus is far too cruel. Look at the five Blacksnakes in the house. Apart from Bowen, which one of them aren't well known for their fighting prowess? Yet, the magus beat them all down with a blink of an eye seemingly effortlessly. This masked magus is here to rob, not to save us. He doesn't care whether we're from Shark or Blacksnake. The Blacksnakes out there fared far worse. Boss, trust me. You haven't seen what he's capable of.
The pig-faced guard tried to communicate his thoughts through his gaze to the tied-up Jerad, but the leader of the gang failed to notice what he tried to convey and only glared at him angrily like he would a traitor.
The guard first took out the money pouch from the corpse of his comrade. After that, he reached into the sleeves and pants to make sure there was nothing else before stretching his hand to Jerad. He found an expensive-looking goatskin money pouch that seemed quite filled. Sparks could almost be seen in Jerad's eyes as he struggled to no avail thanks to the tight ropes restraining him. He could only watch as the guard felt him up with his bloodied hands.
The guard managed to find a few more copper coins on Jerad. After he made sure that there was nothing else, he turned to the two sisters. After a moment's hesitation, he decided to stretch his hands towards them guiltily. At that time, Claude said, "Forget the women."
The guard let out a sigh of relief and hurried over with the two money pouches. Claude found that he still seemed rather hesitant, as if he wanted to do something but was forbidden from doing so. When Claude saw the firm and perky b.r.e.a.s.t.s of Kesline, Claude finally understood what the guard had wanted.
But given that the guard had been quite obedient throughout the whole time, Claude decided to let him off. He kept the money pouches and said plainly, "You did well. I'll leave the rest here to you."
He pat the guard on the shoulder, waved his robe as he turned around and left as flippantly as he came.
Everyone in the house were at loss as to what to think. It had ended just like that as if it was all but a dream.
Only after a long moment did Jerad snap out of it and yell at the guard. "Aren't you going to let me loose?!"
The guard hurriedly obeyed. By then, Fatbull Bowen still seemed to be breathing. He had regained consciousness after he was struck out cold from the Magic Missile he sustained in his belly. "Save... save me..."
"Eh? He's not dead yet?" The pig-faced guard was genuinely taken aback. When he was searching the Blacksnakes for their money pouches, he found that the four were beyond salvation and were either dead or well on their way. Fatbull Bowen on the other hand seemed to not breathe at all, leading to him being thought dead.
Jerad shrugged off the rope and picked up a nearby dagger to cut off the ropes binding the two sisters before going over to check Fatbull Bowen's wounds. "He's still salvageable, there's only a hole in his stomach. Thanks to all his fat, it isn't a serious injury. He can be treated with a bottle of potion."
A hopeful light shone out of the fat man's eyes. He raised his hand with all his might with the intent of tugging on Jerad's s.h.i.+rt. "S-save me... I will definitely pay you back..."
But Jerad merely laughed in response before he stuck the dagger deep into the fat man's heart. "Save you? In your dreams! I don't want your payback."
The pig-faced guard shrieked, "You... you killed him? Butcher Bill will go crazy! He'll definitely trouble us to no end..."
Jerad's expression didn't change at all as he pulled the blade back out and watched as Fatbull Bowen stopped breathing. "Do you think we'll be fine if we didn't kill him? Had it not been for that masked magus, do you think we'll live to see the sun rise tomorrow? They killed Ablonk right in front of us. I knew they wouldn't spare us either way, even if we gave them the shares of the taverns we own."
Kicking Bowen's body, Jerad smiled. "I didn't think that this magus would be the guardian angel of Shark. The last time, he crippled the third-in-command of Blacksnake, Slanteye Kamadi, and now, he dealt with Fatbull Bowen for us. Bidlir Blanche will definitely be fuming. Kamadi's only his hired arm so his loss isn't really a big deal, but Fatbull Bowen on the other hand is Bidlir's right-hand man. His death is almost akin to Bidlir losing a limb.
"Bidlir will still be forced to remain in the camp for training for now, and n.o.body will be able to grab hold of the situation with Fatbull Bowen dead. We must use this chance to give them a harsh strike and topple Blacksnake for good. We must kill all their minor leaders. Otherwise, when Bidlir comes back with his garrison band, we'll no longer be able to hold our ground against him. It's best if we grab as much advantage as we can for now."
Jerad was being quite rational. He knew that Blacksnake had formally torn down the truce they had with Shark as of tonight. There had been many rumors recently about the trading fleet getting into some sort of trouble, and how the supporters of Shark's boss were arrested and relieved of their positions. Butcher Bill, as Bidlir Blanche was often known, had been appointed to become a bandsman. That all forecast the doom of Shark.
If the rumors were true, what would happen to Shark? That was the question Jerad had been pondering for the whole time. It was apparent that Shark no longer had the ability to resist Blacksnake, and being absorbed into the rival gang was one of the best-case scenarios for them. The worst that could happen was Blacksnake chopping Shark apart to make an example out of them to the rest that dared challenge their authority.
Given the long years the two gangs had been rivaling each other, both their hands were covered in the blood of their enemies. It wasn't just a matter of a grudge or two. They were acknowledged to be public archenemies. Jerad wouldn't beg for Blacksnake to absorb Shark. All he hoped for was to shed as less blood as possible. He would sit down and have a sincere talk with Bidlir. If something bad really befell the trading fleet, then Jerad would be willing to disband Shark entirely and transfer all territory and properties to Blacksnake in hopes that his blissful life with Kesline wouldn't be disrupted.
It was too bad that his hopes had been dashed this very night. Fatbull Bowen brought a large group of people to surround his house. They weren't able to resist with the arbalest and crossbow trailed at them and could only surrender and watch as their bodyguards were injured and killed. At that moment, it was as if he witnessed the end of his and his lover's fate. He didn't think that the masked magus would suddenly barge in to rob them and turn the whole situation around.
Since you want my life, I'll bite back right before I die. Jerad's bachelor spirit raged from that moment on. This was a golden opportunity that the heavens themselves had presented him. Fatbull Bowen was the chief executive of Blacksnake and he brought the best men of the gang with him that night. With them all dead and the other elite Blacksnake fighters all recruited into the garrison band, the rest of the Blacksnake forces were nothing but small fry. After exterminating them, Blacksnake would lose its backbone and collapse before Butcher Bill even left camp.
I'll take your life while you're still sick. Even though the town was under martial law enforced by the keepers from the prefectural capital and a full gang war couldn't be waged, there were much loopholes in the town's security to be taken advantage of. a.s.sa.s.sinations and ambushes didn't require a large number of people. This kind of small scale, guerilla a.s.saults was perfect for Shark, who were disadvantaged in number.
"How are Benny and Clive doing?" Jerad asked.
"Benny is fine. He only suffered some external injuries and a stick to the back of his head before he fainted. Clive had three of his ribs broken and it seems rather serious. He needs to be treated at the apothecary," the guard replied. He had a.s.sessed the situation of his comrades when he was searching them for money.
"What about the Blacksnakes?"
"There are two injured and four dead in the yard. Six more are in the alley. The masked magus said he took them all down, but I'm not sure whether they're dead or alive."
"Bring a blade with you. If anyone is still alive..." Jerad made a cutthroat gesture.
"Understood." The man left after he picked up a shortsword.
Jerad turned to the sisters and said, "Kesline, bring me the potion I gave you last time. I'll check on Benny and Clive. In the meantime, the two of you need to pack up. We can no longer live here. Let's go to The Mermaid. Only there can we be protected. Blacksnake won't dare to look for us there."
Kesline tugged on his arm. "What do we do about this place? This is our home! Are we going to leave the corpses here just like that?"
Jerad pondered in silence and brought her into his embrace, smiling. "This is our home. We're only leaving temporarily. We'll come back in the future. I'm sure you understand after what happened tonight. We're not the ones instigating conflict. Blacksnake will never let us off. Unless we wipe them out, we'll never be able to enjoy a life of peace.
"We'll take care of the corpses. We'll stay here until tomorrow at the latest and leave. So many dead people will surely make this the largest case in the whole of the three southwestern prefectures. Later, we'll use a pushcart to bring the corpses to the lake, tie them to stones and sail them into the middle of the lake to dump them. That way, n.o.body will know where they went. That's just enough to make Blacksnake suspicious and testy, which will make it easier for us to launch our counterattack."
Dumping corpses into the lake was a shared secret among the two gangs. That was the best method to remove all traces of the corpse. In time, the bodies would be reduced to nothing but bone by the fish and n.o.body would be able to recognize them. From time to time, fishermen would find some of those bones only to throw them back into the lake after complaining instead of bringing them back to town.
"Eww, gross. I'll swear off fish for good," Kesline said.
"B-big Brother Jerad, t-that masked magus took our money... D-don't you hate him?" the pale-faced Kefnie asked from the side.
Jerad smiled awkwardly. Sometimes he really wondered whether women's brains were wired the same as men's. Even though something so huge just went down, the two sisters could still reevaluate their diet choices and their lost money. Shouldn't they be anxious about getting to The Mermaid for safety as soon as possible? Why did they bother with pointless stuff?
"Well, Kefnie, I don't really hate that magus. He did save us, after all. If I hired someone to deal with that sheer number of Blacksnakes he dealt with, the money in my money pouch would be far from enough. Yet, he killed so many of them for us and only took some pocket change. I am nothing but happy about it. In fact, the masked magus is the one on the losing end of the transaction. If I can meet him again, I'd be more than willing to give him tens of such money pouches as long as he can save us once more," Jerad said.