Francis was standing right before the entrance of the count's mansion with a long spear and a shield in each hand. He looked at the empty streets as he sighed, "It's pretty obvious that there's no one here. Why was I ordered to guard the entrance? Tsk… The weather is god damn cold!"
The leaves still had some frost on them. The ground was covered with snow. The wind of early winter was chilly. Francis could not help but shiver, as his armor was forged from steel, which was not able to keep Francis warm. On the other hand, the other parts of his armor that were made of leather was as thin as a paper did not prevent the cold air from rushing through them.
Even so, Francis did not let his guard down at all. Instead, he was very serious about his job now. He was looking through every detail around him.
Even though he was complaining, he knew it deep down in his bones that he must work after receiving money from others. Well, he had been a mercenary for over a decade. It was true that guarding an entrance was not exactly an amazing job that most people would be comfortable with. However, that job should be much better than battling against others.
Francis was well aware of the incident at the city gates that happened a while ago, as he was informed not long after he woke up. According to the messenger, the intruder was powerful enough to defeat fifty soldiers that were heavily armed. Now that the intruder was still hiding somewhere in the city without leaving any traces behind, it would be understandable why the person that hired him would act so cautiously.
After all, those were not fifty farmers. They were fifty soldiers who had been trained for this sort of thing! It was still quite unbelievable that one could beat them all single-handedly. Even the mercenaries might not be capable of doing such a thing.
Although Francis believed that the intruder would not attack when the guard of the entire city was on high alert, he would still make sure he did his job at 100%. As long as he could receive the payment for it, he would not suffer any loss. That was his principle and his will to persevere. In the meantime, the other guard who was supposed to guard the entrance with him had gone back to get his clothes after he complained that the weather was too cold… After all, not every man is the same. At least Francis was not willing to behave that way.
Even at the age of forty, Francis was still not able to exceed Silver tier, as a human. That would mean that he did not stand much of a chance to upgrade to the glorious Gold tier. Although he did not have the opportunity to improve, he had a lot of battle experience. He would still be able to be a mercenary to feed himself for the next seven to eight years. He could continue being a mercenary until he was fifty before considering to buy a piece of land to live a quiet life for the rest of his days.
However, would a mercenary get to live his remaining days quietly? That's not bad for a lame joke though.
Upon humoring himself with that thought, he laughed. Suddenly, Francis heard other sounds aside from the sound of the wind blowing.
Thud, thud, thud.
Footsteps could be heard from one corner of the street.
At first, the sound of the footsteps was faint to the point that Francis did not hear anything at all. However, as the person approached closer, the footsteps began to get louder. Francis could no longer contain his curiosity. He turned towards the direction where the sound of the footsteps came.
During normal times, no one would give a sh*t about any footsteps. However, ever since the city was on high alert, only a few would walk around the streets of the city. Furthermore, the disturbance in the morning and the cold weather had led no one to come out of their houses. Under the circumstances where the footsteps were loud and clear, Francis could not help but be skeptical.
A brief moment later, a tall and sturdy man with black hair appeared in Francis' view. There was also a silver-haired girl with green eyes beside the man. Judging from their heights, they looked like father and daughter.
Hmm… maybe they are siblings. If that's the case, their hair color does not match.
No no no. Even if these two are close to each other, why would they appear at such a place at such a time then? That is very strange. The weather is so cold and an attack just happened not long ago.
Francis kept his thoughts back to himself and reacted to the situation before him. He witnessed the two walking closer and closer to where he was standing. He had no time to think about it as well. So he walked up to the two, frowned and spoke loudly, "Halt, you two! This is a restricted area, please turn around!"
"He's quite responsible in his job."
After a few seconds of silence, the black-haired man nodded. He seemed to disregard the serious look on Francis's face and the sword Francis was holding. He carried on with his own comments, "So many of them, and you're the only one who has the look of a real warrior."
"What… what do you mean so many of them?"
After reflecting on what the man said for one brief moment, Francis suddenly smelled the scent of blood in the air. Instantly, he felt an intense chill up his spine.
That's right. There should be many more patrols in the area. So these two could not have walked all the way here to the entrance of the count's mansion. So could it be?!
He widened his eyes and stared at the man and the little lady. He dropped his jaw, leaving him speechless as well.
"Those men are dead."
Francis's facial expression changed, yet there was no sign of fluctuation in his voice when the man talked. He was so calm when he answered Francis, "You will be, in a while."
So this man was the trespasser of the city gates!
It was just a guess, a guess that seemed to be correct at the time. Although they were not engaged in combat yet, Francis could feel that his body was overwhelmed with fear the moment he laid eyes on the man. He could not stop his legs from turning wobbly.
Right before him was the man with a sword that annihilated over seventeen heavily armed soldiers back there. He was also the monster that took out a few dozen soldiers that were patrolling the streets without a sound! Judging from his aura, he has not achieved the glorious Gold Tier yet. However, this man could easily take him out. The man was on an entirely different level compared to Francis!
"Please… turn around!"
Shouting out loud with his shaky voice, Francis forcefully suppressed himself from trembling further while raising his long spear up. He raised the tip of the spear towards the man. Although he was overwhelmed by fear, he did not falter at all. Instead, he shouted out loud, "I repeat! This is a restricted area! I shall be forced to comply and attack you if you decide to trespass!"
The man that stood before him was only wearing a very simple set of leather clothes and a set of riding gear. He did not have anything that seemed like a weapon on him. There seemed to be a small blood stain right by the corner of his trousers... It seemed that he killed all of the mercenaries that were patrolling the streets without even using any weapon. That meant this man was much more powerful than anyone could imagine.
Francis understood how powerful the man was. So when Francis was saying those words, he could feel as if his heart was grabbed by another hand firmly. The blood in his entire body had lost control, however, he did not lower his weapon. Even if he lost all his strength because of his fear, he would still be standing there without moving a step backward.
Well, one must make sure the job was done once the money had been received. Guarding the entrance was his current job and responsibility after all. It was true that there were also mercenaries who would abandon their jobs and responsibilities after they got their money. However, Francis was different from those scum. Even though he was not all-powerful, his will was firm and he would not falter, not even a little.
Fighting was not really that terrifying. Fighting to the death was basically the minimum consciousness an Imperial citizen should have. Meanwhile, the harshness of the north was far beyond the other empires. So as a northern mercenary, Francis had his own pride to uphold as well! Even if there was no chance of winning, he had to fight till his last breath!
"Your will is not too bad at all."
The man with black-hair looked at the long spear that Francis pointed at his neck. His face stayed the same. He seemed to be praising him. "However, it's really unfortunate for you."
After that… Well, there was no more after that.
The man suddenly disappeared from Francis's view, followed by a breeze blowing across his face. Francis could feel his chest tighten. The spear in his hand suddenly broke in half by an overwhelming force that he could not see. His body seemed to become much lighter all of a sudden as he flew up high into the air before descending slowly back onto the ground...
His consciousness began to slip. All he could see was darkness. Right before he completely passed out, he could still hear the tightly shut door being struck opened by a fist.