The carriage came with two storage compartments, one large and one small. The large one stored Duran and his tub while the smaller one housed our travel necessities; food, clothes etc. As for us, Regine was in charge of driving while Ancarin and I sat in the passenger compartment.
As a qualified thief, she had to pick up a variety of skills along the way. In fact, thieves in the Western Human Realm could be said to be the representatives of multi-talented individuals. At least the famous ones were…
Unlike assassins, they didn’t rely on killing for a living but instead robbed to earn money. Another point had to be made, the Thieves Guild and the Assassins Guild were two separate entities. While they weren’t at odds with each other, their relationship wasn’t that rosy either.
They were, in a sense, business rivals, since both occupations dealt in the procurement and sale of information. However, this wasn’t their main business, so their relationship wasn’t too tense despite their rivalry.
Thieves accepted missions from postings on the quest board within the Thieves Guild. These postings would contain a detailed introduction to the task in order to aid the thief in their thievery. During this process, the thief was allowed to harm a person but not kill them. This however, didn’t mean they could cripple the person either; anyone who broke this rule would get censured by the guild.
This was an ironclad rule of the Thieves Guild, at least while they were on missions. Outside of missions, the guild didn’t stop their members from acts of murder.
The Thieves Guild did not take part in the slave trade either, however this didn’t extend to pets and other living creatures. As for the Assassins Guild, they would even murder the Emperor if you gave them enough money. Compared to the notorious Assassins guild, the Thieves Guild had a much better reputation, with quite a few Robin Hood-esque thieves coming out of it.
The above could be spoken as common knowledge within the realm. However, the forty year old me knew not to take such things at face value. Just because they had such rules, did not make the Thieves Guild the good guys either.
However, given Regine’s current state, I wouldn’t be surprised if she became an assassin sooner or later.
During our previous search of Duran’s villa, Ancarin emptied the villa of any magic book she could find. While it wasn’t some treasure trove of arcane knowledge, there were at least a hundred books found; with the biggest being as thick as a dictionary. Stacked together, they could probably form a wall, or at the very least fill up our carriage compartment. Thus, our carriage trip was to say the least, uncomfortably cramped.
As she held onto a book about occultists, she chatted with me while reading. She seemed to have taken a liking to our conversations.
“From now on, you are a mage who got disfigured from a failed experiment. Due to that failure, you gained a trauma about magical experiments and so decided to become a magister.”
(Magister-> magic warrior)
“That’s how we’ll explain that giant blade on your back.”
“Also, while I don’t know why your grimoire is so interested in other grimoires, you should probably make sure it doesn’t stand out so much…” said Ancarin in an awkward tone as she pointed at the Grimoire of the Dead who was busy flipping through the other grimoires in the carriage.
Naturally, I knew of this as well. While I wasn’t guilty of anything, possessing such a strange object would make me a target just by association. If I was strong, possessing a divine weapon would lead to the fear and respect of the masses. However, I was merely a two-star potato, possessing such a treasure would just make me a juicy target.
Therefore, I decided to avoid using Shadowfang for now. The Grimoire of Dead would be kept within my robes most of time in order to prevent strangers from noticing its peculiarity.
Not wanting to hide inside my robes, the grimoire began struggling furiously. With a slightly impatient look on my face, I hugged it with both of my arms and threatened it in a low voice: “I already gave you those two horse souls so you better quiet down. Otherwise, I’ll stop feeding you from now on.”
That seemed to do the trick as the grimoire stopped struggling.
As she looked at the comedic sight of me stuffing the grimoire into my robes, she chuckled and said: “My identity is that of your apprentice and assistant. Regine is your follower. Also, we should ensure that strangers do not see that thing we have in the back or else…”
“If someone discovers him, can’t we just say that he’s a “slave used for magical experiments?”
“…” Ancarin nodded but immediately rejected it again with a shake of her head. “While there are a number of mages who perform experiments on humans, it is also a fact that most human countries ban human experiments. The reason being that such experiments usually deal with alchemy, healing magic and necromancy. All three of which cause the subject to turn into that…”
I’d probably be misunderstood as a necromancer won’t I…then I would be chased by countless do-gooders under the banner of “ridding the world of an evil necromancer”…
Then the question remained, how would I explain Duran’s existence should he be discovered, and in such a way that I would not receive a bounty on my head as a result?
It was a complicated question that Ancarin mulled over while eating. As for Regine, I had to feed her once more…and I botched it, staining her face with a patch of sauce…
As Ancarin looked at the now bearded Duran, she excitedly said: “I got it! We can change our faces so that if something were to happen, we can just revert back to our original faces later.”
“Make-up huh, that could work.” I had to admit that this idea, while it wasn’t the best, was the simplest workable solution we had right now. But make-up huh…we needed tools and skills for that…
“Do you have the tools for it?”
“Do you know how to apply the make-up?”
“…” Then why did you even bring it up…
Having her suggestion shot down due to her lack of skill, she turned her hopes onto me, her eyes sparkling as she asked: “Do you know how to apply it?”
“I know how to create a monster.”
My face should’ve been an answer already, was there a point in asking that…
Just as we entered a period of awkward silence, a cold voice echoed from the side: “Make-up, I know.”
Turning around, I saw the girl who just seconds ago needed me to feed her, stone-faced as always, staring in my general direction.
How could I have forgotten about our carriage driver! Other than her skill to be not at all adorable while acting adorable, she was a thief.
Aren’t thieves a bunch of jack-of-all-trades?
Come to think of it, if a thief were to get seen while committing burglary, won’t their face be all over the wanted posters? With the ability to disguise themselves, things would be a lot easier.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the more masterful thieves were able to disguise themselves as the target’s family members and simply walk in and out from the front door. Once everything was completed, they could revert back to their original faces…was there anything more convenient than the make-up skill?
No longer would they need to climb over walls or windows, they would even have a scapegoat ready without any additional effort…just thinking about this gave me goosebumps.
According to Regine, we didn’t need that many tools after all, and thankfully, all of them were already in our possession. Previously, partly out of necessity and partly because the carriage was so large, I had instructed Ancarin to move anything remotely useful into the carriage, this coincidentally included some tools for make-up.
Due to my fiery complexion, make-up was naturally out of the question. All I had to do was wrap myself in clothing. If anything were to happen, I would have to find a way out on my own. If worse came to worse, I could just kill Duran, sending me to back to Hell without any fuss.
This whole discussion about disguises was more about the safety of Regine and Ancarin. Even now, I still wasn’t sure why they chose to remain by my side and be my accomplices. The only reason I could think of was that they wanted to repay me for saving them. Seeing as they willingly put themselves in danger just to help me, thinking about their escape route was the only decent thing to do.
Only those who considered all the possibilities survived.
As I didn’t need to undergo a round of make-up, I had spare time to visit Duran after feeding Regine. Previously, I had considered killing this bast*rd, but now I was trying my best to keep him alive. In a sense, his horrifying state right now was a form of atonement for his sins.
For convenience’ sake, Ancarin forced a sleeping potion down his throat. Given the right dosage, this medicine could knock a person out for an entire week. Not only that, it would even sustain him throughout that period and give him a pleasant sleeping appearance. It was in every way, a wonder drug for kidnapping. Seeing as one third of the potions we found in his villa were that type of potion, Duran had probably used those as well to kidnap girls.
Based on the amount we fed him, we wouldn’t have to bother about him for an entire year. All that remained was to ensure no one else found him.
Even though he had undergone the cruelest of tortures, he was still alive. Normally, a cowardly fellow like him who feared pain should’ve died long ago, but seeing as he didn’t, it meant that he still wanted to live.
While having his limbs and tongue severed might sound horrific, it actually wasn’t that serious in the Western Human Realms. The medical standards in here were much better than that of Earth’s. As long as your corpse was still there and your soul intact, a perfect revival was still a possibility. There’s no better proof of this than me; after dying to a goblin’s attack, I found myself alive and well in the Blood Sea…
Duran was betting on the slim chance that he gets rescued…
After checking on him, I got off the carriage to check on the girls.
Ancarin stood there by Regine’s side, curiously staring at the expressionless girl while she worked on her craft. She placidly ground a bunch of leaves and roots into a paste and wrung the juice out of them, mixing them into what looked like foundation…
It almost looked like she was concocting poison.
After 10 minutes of pounding and mixing, the final product was ready. It was an ordinary looking paste with a light pinkish hue to it that resembled a girl’s complexion. As her back was facing me, I was unable to see the exact process as she slathered the paste onto Ancarin’s face. In just a few minutes, her work was done.
With that completed, Ancarin turned around to face me…who the heck was this sickly looking person…if I hadn’t seen her put on the make-up myself, I wouldn’t have thought that this was Ancarin!
Her performance gets a 10/10 from me.
Ancarin took out a mirror from her pocket and admired her new appearance. It was still pretty except for her pale sickly complexion. It gave her the look of someone who was cooped up in a laboratory all day with a sickly constitution from her erratic mealtimes. Instead of making her uglier, her sickly complexion gave her a sort of vulnerability that made you cherish her more.
Reluctantly, she tore her eyes away from her reflection and slowly handed the mirror over to Regine after admiring herself for a noticeably long period. It was only then that Regine started on her own make-up, which to be fair, was to be expected; you couldn’t put on make-up by yourself without a mirror after all.
She snatched the mirror and began working on her own disguise.