The next day couldn have arrived any sooner.
After returning home last night, things went as expected. I cooked dinner like I usually do, mother did absolutely nothing like she usually does, and afterwards we slept in our respective mattresses and called it a day.
This morning however, I was strangely motivated. For the first time, in a long time, I expected something different. This unique expectation that from now on, it will be different from the mundane and stagnant life that Ive been living the past few years.
The sun had just risen from the horizon and Ive already left the house, headed for my humble stash of coins in the woods. I looked for the familiar tree with an inconspicuous letter J engraved on it, and dug up a small wooden box where all my coins had been stored.
Had it been the other day, I wouldve felt proud of myself for saving this amount of money. But I had since been given a rude awakening about just how much value this meager amount of coins really have.
”900… 900… ” I carefully counted as I slowly put the desired amount into a pouch. ”To think that 2 and a half years worth of savings would be gone in an instant… and thats with a massive discount already. ”
Afterwards, I made a beeline towards the riverbank just outside the towns perimeters. There I saw Huang, who was already up and fishing in the river. He was sitting in a rectangular wooden crate, which I assume contains the items that Im planning to buy. The moment he noticed me coming up, he smiled and stood up.
”Heres the items that you wanted ” he said, pointing to the box
Huang said that I was free to open it and inspect its contents, in case he got anything wrong. So I did and made a small rundown of all the items that I wanted in my head… The ax… the books… dagger… the golden necklace… the mask… the potion… the rope… the boots… and a beautifully designed bottle that holds a considerable amount of liquid.
This is the Essence of Nightshade?
The bottle contained a lot more than what I expected. Since Mom used to dabble with potions before, I had an idea of just how much a drop was. From the looks of it, this was at least a couple hundred drops before it finally runs out.
”Well, where do you want to hide these? ” Not even asking about what I wanted to do with these things, he offered to help me hide it in the woods behind the hills.
When I said yes, was able to carry the crate by himself, granted it wasn that big but it was still surprising. 4 years ago, he would be struggling to even get it off the ground but evidently, a lot has changed since then. He has been eating well, doing work, and is essentially a completely different person from before.
I told him that we shouldn walk in the streets of the town, since we might attract unwanted attention. Instead, I proposed to walk up the river and go behind the hills that way. He shared his worries of encountering monsters if we venture too deep in the woods, something that I never understood all my life.
”Are there really even monsters? ” I couldn help but ask
I told him that despite collecting herbs and berries deep in the woods for several years, never have I encountered a single monster. So I don really understand the fear that people have towards this place. As an answer, he just told me that I mightve just been getting lucky all this time. After all, one chance encounter is all that it would have took and I wouldn be standing here, able to ask this question in the first place.
After a hearty talk as we walked down the river, we finally came across a seemingly good spot to hide the crate. We chances upon an old tree with a trunk befitting its age. Underneath its roots, there was a small opening reminiscent of a cavern. A spot perfect for hiding the crate that we had been carrying.
”Don mind if I do- ” he said as he lay the crate down the opening and push it inside.
Huang then took out the giant ax and made two chops in the tree trunk, leaving a noticeable X in its bark to serve as a reminder. With how afraid the villagers are of this forest, I doubt that anyone would even come across this place even if we were to write the words Secret Treasure right on this tree.
After a job well done, he returned the ax to the crate while I took out the world history book that he gave me as a gift and took it with me as we came back to his caravan.
* * *
* * *
For that day, I didn have any jobs so I just sat down a tree near our ugly home and read up on some history. While doing so, I understood why Huang told me to buy items that I would be able to use immediately. Because as I continued reading, while I found it interesting, I couldn really apply any of my new knowledge into the real world.
However, there was something in particular that I tried looking into-
”Kingdom of Rosenbaum… Empress Cornelia… ”
In other words, I searched for my mothers name and the anywhere in these history book. After all, an empress suddenly disappearing should surely have been considered a significant event. But let alone her name, I couldn even find this fairy tale kingdom that she would blabber nonstop about. The book had stories of civilizations dating from thousands of years ago, and none of them matched with the names she would tell me. There is no Rosenbaum… No mentions of our supposed family name… I couldn find her birthplace, Levengrand, anywhere in the map… Just as I expected, it was a bunch of fictional nonsense that came from the mouth of a delusional person.
Another place I looked into is the Empire, that is supposedly wreaking havoc in the other side of the continent. It is the reason why there is an uptick of settlers over here in Soliana, so I couldn help but be curious about it.
After flipping through some pages, I found the nation in question. Previously a small kingdom just four hundred years ago, the Empire of Concordia has become the largest superpower this continent has ever seen. Located from the far eastern corners of the world, its origins could be traced from a tribe of mountain people thousands of years ago, capable of communicating with monsters and, most notably, dragons; Descendants of which, now comprise the upper echelons of its society.
Although they have come a long way since their tribal days, it wasn really until 400 years ago that theyve earnestly decided to take over and occupy lands. Since then, every century or so, they would go wage a series of wars, where they would then conquer large swats of territory and integrate both the land and its inhabitants to their already vast empire. It just so happens to be that for this particular century, it is during this decade that theyve started their centennial conquests.
… … Before I knew it, it was already 5 in the afternoon.
I never thought that reading would make time pass a quickly as it did. I haven read even a tenth of the books contents and I already feel a lot more sophisticated compared to the person that I was yesterday. Perhaps, this really is the beginning of a new chapter in my life? Gone are the days of an ignorant and stupid Johannes, and welcome to the scholarly and intellectual me… … or am I just tripping?
With that in mind, I went out of the house and walked the streets of the town, just as the sun was about to set. There were two primary targets that I had my eyes on- the governor and Vivian. Each of them possessed the only two mansions in this town and if Im gonna rob someone, those two have the highest chances of having some valuables. Then between the two of them, Vivian is the easier target.
As I made a right turn, I passed by the street where the governors house was located. It wasn as grand as Vivians, but it was more heavily guarded. Right now, I could still see armored guards walking around, patrolling the surroundings. Not to mention, it was located at the heart of the town, surrounded by other houses. It would be a herculean task indeed to scale the walls without being noticed by anyone.
On the other hand as I passed a few more streets, I came across the only other mansion in this town.
Its glory had been subdued by the darkness of night, but its brilliance was still clear for everyone to see. It had great, high walls and a thick iron gate, which makes it so that what lies beyond it could only be left up to ones imagination. From outside, the only thing you could see was a glimpse of the mansions uppermost floor.
Vivian herself rarely goes out and only leaves when she goes to check up on her workshop. Only a few people has seen the what lies beyond this wall and thus, a lot of the information about the people living inside has been distorted with the numerous hearsay and rumors. Luckily, Ive talked to someone who has actually been inside this place and he has told me some rather crucial knowledge.
But for now I should get a better look of the surroundings and heck for anything that might be detrimental or useful to the mission that Im trying to accomplish.
Unlike the governors house, Vivians mansion was built at the edge of the town. She only had a neighbor on one side towards her right, while the rest were empty lots filled with grass and bushes. If I were to loiter around this area, there really isn anyone that could notice me unless someone were to walk along the streets. Which at 2 in the morning, is very unlikely.
But on the other hand, because the surrounding trees had been cleared out, there isn anything that can be used to help scale the walls, making climbing it virtually impossible for me… under normal circumstances.
From the outside, this place seems safe and secure, but that sense of security that these seemingly impenetrable walls provide might be their own undoing. She only had two old servants with her, who are unlikely to stay up late at night. Which means that despite its imposing appearance, the only defensive measure this place has, are these very walls that are standing in front of me.
As long as someone can find a way to safely climb over it in order to get in and out, this place is no different from a treasure trove, ripe for the taking.
This is why I spent 900 shekels, the reason I spent 2 years worth of saving on a single night.
The more I read, the more I knew about the world, and the more I realized just how small and insignificant the life Ive been living was. What did Huang say I should do again? Use the items that I bought to slowly improve myself and make an honest living?
Hahahaha… Yeah, don make me laugh.
After learning that certain people can earn up to 70,000 in a single month, how do you expect me to still want to become a simple lumberjack earning like what? 50-100 daily? Ain now way Im gonna settle for something like that now.
Luckily, Huang also pointed me to one way I can earn lots of money… Crime.
But unlike him, I won make the same mistake of having to flee the town immediately the day after. Ill make mine more discreet. If Huang was able to successfully rob this place with only himself and a straw hat, then there isn a reason, me with a lot more tools at my disposal wouldn be able to do the same, right?
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