Author: Dawn

Escort (3)

The swirling snowflakes were gradually subsiding. In the early morning, the lightly falling snow made the desolate mountains look lonely.

Of course, objects couldn’t have emotions, so it must have been because of my own feelings.

Strictly speaking, this mission was close to failure.

The four agents would have scattered in all directions. Phiri wouldn’t be able to save everyone in these mountains.

In fact, I couldn’t even guarantee Phiri’s survival. There were many worrying aspects.

After all, the leader in the game was a devil worshipper.

‘I’m not certain right now, but…’

I couldn’t exclude the possibility that this mission was a plot to eliminate Phiri.

Negative thoughts overwhelmed me, and my emotions became complicated. Was it all futile and in vain?

I knew from the start that this mission wasn’t highly likely to succeed. I anticipated the risks.

Yet, my heart was complicated, probably because this was the first failure I might face.

For the past three years, there had been dangers, but no failures. The missions had always been successful, thanks to the duke’s careful considerations.

Perhaps I had come to believe that I could always succeed, despite the hardships.

‘No, it’s not all bad. This could be a valuable experience.’

I thought that for a moment.

I sensed devil worshippers guarding their positions far away. I quickly hid myself.

There were three of them.

Considering their movements and current positions, they seemed to be on the outer edge of the encirclement.

There were fewer people here compared to when I entered this area.

It was probably because of Phiri and the other agents.

Thinking about it, I felt a bit annoyed.

It wasn’t an unreasonable feeling. I had been through a lot because of those guys for the past few days. And it would probably continue.

‘Should I take care of them?’

When moving with Phiri, I had passed by without leaving unnecessary traces.

But not this time.

Of course, it wasn’t without risk.

However, considering the situation, it was a task I could reasonably attempt. There were also some logical reasons for doing so.

This area was the outer edge of the encirclement. The main group would be chasing Phiri and the agents from the inside.

The probability of strong opponents being here was low.

‘Besides, drawing their attention here could also be helpful for Phiri and the agents.’

Phiri said she would leave the decision to my judgment. What would she do in this situation? She probably would have taken action.

With half my heart resolved, I closed the distance a bit. I could decide after observing them closely.

Yes, that’s it.

The guys I approached didn’t look particularly powerful. Of course, I couldn’t be certain just by appearances, but…

Even their minor postures and attitudes irritated me. I could handle them just fine.

I also sensed another encirclement farther away, positioned on the left and right of these guys.

There was some distance between them. I wasn’t sure about the frequency of their communication, but it was a risk I could take.

After all, situations like this required taking risks.

‘Swift and quiet.’

I approached the guys from behind discreetly.

After preventing any sounds from spreading with the Winds, I sharpened the edges of the Winds’ blades.

Normally, I refrained from using Winds for offensive purposes.

Partly because I needed to improve my physical skills, and partly because I wasn’t yet fully skilled with winds.

It wouldn’t work against opponents stronger than a certain level. However, it was more than enough for these guys.

They were low-level enemies, chatting casually. Their deaths were instant, and the sound of winds was buried in the gusts.

Simultaneously, the three men whose throats I slashed couldn’t even scream before falling to the ground.

Blood splattered among the falling snowflakes, staining the snow under their bodies red.

I instinctively checked their belongings, as there might be useful information.


Even if some of the agents or Phiri survived, did they notice these guys’ identities?

I doubted it.

They hadn’t had a chance to properly confirm their identities while fleeing.

If I took the evidence with me, Haisen’s response might change a bit.

It felt like a stroke of luck, considering that I hadn’t thought about it before taking action.

What should I take with me?


In the game, I used to check tattoos or accessories for clues.

It wasn’t foolproof. These guys weren’t idiots; they knew how to hide when infiltrating.

Besides, devil worshippers hadn’t escaped yet. Maybe they wanted to leave evidence behind.

I checked their belongings, and only found some simple rations.

Then I stripped off their clothes to check for tattoos.

Luckily, there were tattoos. Strange patterns and unfamiliar languages, just like I saw in the game.

‘Cutting off their skin is a bit…’

Even for me, it was a repulsive task. But there was no other way. I had to rely on my memory as much as possible.

I was quite confident in my memory.

After memorizing the tattoos, I stood up from where I was crouched. I had to be ready for any followers who might come to check the area.

From now on, I had to sprint at full speed.

Although I used some power while helping someone with Winds earlier, it wasn’t too exhausting.

Ironman was currently quite effective, so I wasn’t in danger of collapsing despite feeling tired.

I increased my speed.

* * *

After dealing with the devil worshippers, the snowfall gradually subsided.

I ran continuously and was able to spot the Merchant Guild along the road before dawn.

There were 15 individuals on the surface, but four of them were hiding nearby, on guard duty.

If it weren’t for Winds, I wouldn’t have noticed them.

‘It’s certain.’

Just by looking, there was no reason to confuse them with any other Merchant Guild.

Considering that we were joining them, it was likely that all of them were agents. I approached without hiding my presence.

With others already on alert, the people from the Merchant Guild started getting suspicious.

The meeting place and time didn’t match, and they wouldn’t recognize my face.

Gradually closing the distance, I tried to find the Chief, but he was nowhere to be seen.

At that moment, someone whispered something to the person who appeared to be in charge. It was Mohen.

It seemed like he had come all the way here with them. The person in charge approached me.

‘What happened?’

As someone who heard we were allies, the person in charge, or, the leader asked with a slightly guarded and worried expression.

I quickly explained. 

“No chitchat during the journey. Operation name is ‘Escort.’ Upon the vice leader’s request, I have come to join in advance.”

I spoke using the agreed-upon code phrase from our pre-deployment briefing.

“First, we encountered a problem. Some agents initiated a solo escape during the search. The vice leader also decided to act alone.”

The leader nodded heavily.

“Escaping first and waiting at the designated place, I encountered allied agents passing through the location, and subsequently prepared for pursuit down the road.”

The leader made a groaning sound.

“Entering the mountains in this state would be difficult.”


“Are there people following you?”

“There are not, but I handled one of the surrounding ambush units on the way here.”

“Does that mean they might catch up with you soon?”

I nodded. The leader hesitated for a moment. I refrained from interrupting.

From now on, I needed them to move according to my intentions. There was no need to intervene and attract attention.

“How’s the situation?”

“Not good. I witnessed more than a hundred enemies while infiltrating.”

“….A hundred?”

“That’s just what I saw. The actual number is likely higher.”

The leader was taken aback. The expressions of those listening were also heavy and grave.

It was a natural reaction. There shouldn’t be a need to deploy more than a hundred agents in this mountain range, even for the Empire.

A hundred agents would definitely not be considered a small force.

That’s why both Phiri and the Chief initially thought there was no need to organize the branch.

The leader might suspect that we interfered with the Empire’s Stratagem they were preparing.

I didn’t bring up the devil worshippers’ tattoos; it wasn’t necessary and would be hasty.

I kept silent, allowing the leader time to think.

“It’s not an easy mission, and the situation has changed a lot.”


“What do you think we should do?”

The leader asked for my opinion. He was a middle-aged man, and it seemed like he would be someone I could communicate with.

Although they valued the opinions of field agents, I was a newcomer on my first mission.

Agents who had survived for a long time must have had their reasons for doing so, right?

“First, we need to stop pretending to be part of this Merchant Guild.”

Instead of answering, the leader fell into thought. Meanwhile, Mohen glared at me sharply.

It seemed like he was telling me not to speak recklessly and unnecessarily provoke them.

The leader hesitated for a few seconds before nodding heavily.

“Yes, you’re right. It’s meaningless.”

The leader let out a deep sigh.

“We should abandon the guise of the Merchant Guild and either search for and assist our allies or retreat quickly. Either way, we should withdraw to the branch.”

Although he seemed to think of them as the Empire, his thoughts were quickly changing.

It felt like the conversation was heading in a good direction.

“We should retreat. We need to organize the branch.”

“Carlyn! Be careful with your words. Who asked for your judgment?”

Unexpectedly, Mohen intervened, saying something he had heard from Phiri before.

While Mohen was staring at me, seemingly unable to contain his anger, the leader intervened.

“Quiet. Who told you to interfere? I’m listening to the field agent’s opinion.”


Mohen closed his mouth tightly. His shoulders seemed to tremble in anger.

I concluded the conversation.

“Vice leader granted me full authority.”

Well, she said she would leave the decision to me in the future, but in a broad sense, that was what it meant.

Mohen looked like he couldn’t believe it, but he didn’t have the courage to speak up again.

The leader nodded.

“Then let it be so. If the Vice leader trusts you, and your words are not wrong.”


“Enough. I won’t listen to objections.”

In response to a question from an agent, the leader, Nadmo, firmly shook his head.

“Discard everything and only take what we need. From now on, we’ll return to the branch at full speed.”

I let out a sigh of relief internally. I was a bit worried when coming here, but things went smoother than I expected.

If the leader had been someone who wouldn’t listen, the situation could have become quite complicated.

Amidst everyone’s busy preparations, Nadmo didn’t forget to take care of me.

“You look exhausted. Is it okay to leave immediately?”

“Yes. I think I can rest briefly while moving.”

“In the meantime, can I lead the agents?”

“You can continue to do so.”

“Alright then.”

Nadmo nodded with a satisfied expression.

I rode on the spare horse. After this, I couldn’t expect anything, as the situation was highly unpredictable.

We wouldn’t immediately retreat after organizing the branch.

We might move to some hiding place to exchange information. All I could do was hope for Phiri and the allied agents’ safe return.

As I was thinking that, I heard the sound of the system message updating. It had been a while since I heard that sound.

[You gain Stratagem experience. You reach Stratagem Level 5 and acquire the ‘Resourceful Savior’ trait.]

The word ‘Savior’ caught my eye. It meant that someone was saved; that person must have succeeded in escaping.

A strange feeling surged as I realized I had a hand in it.

Although I was someone with no presence, something like a sense of camaraderie seemed to emerge.

The heavy heart I had felt, thinking it was a failure, seemed to lighten a little.

Author's Thoughts

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