70 The Spy Part I
"Groundhog" Cole looked anxiously out the window.
Once it started snowing in this forsaken place, it would not stop. Though the sky looked like his grandmother's unwashed bed sheets, both dirty and gray, he still had other ways to tell the hour.
It was the training of the Militia. As long as the weather allowed, they would run through the square in the town center every morning when the birds chirped (at 8 o'clock). This bunch of fools was doing so before the Months of Demons arrived, and continued to do so even now. Did not they know the most important thing in winter was to save their strength? When the time came for them to run for their dear life, they would probably have to ask gods to give them an extra pair of legs. But thanks to this gang of fools, he was able to estimate the time when he should depart.
Yes, he wanted to flee this devilish town! Although the orders of Prince Timothy were for him to keep lurking in Border Town, so as to observe the movements of Prince Roland Wimbledon and pass the information to Valencia, he did not want to stay any longer.
He was afraid that after half a month, he would join the residents here to become the demons' sacrifice.
This was not an exaggeration!
Since winter arrived, strange things kept happening, which the others might not have been aware of—it was not surprising as most of the town people were country bumpkins. Other than food, they did not care about anything, and they did not even care about the deities. But he was different. He was "Groundhog" Cole! Inquiring about the news and stealing intelligence was his special skill, so that was why His Highness Timothy hired him for such a job.
As for the city wall that came out of nowhere overnight, or the iron stick that made loud strange noises but could also defeat demonic beasts, of course, this was not the most amazing discovery he found.
Prince Roland was openly keeping witches!
Merciful God, was there anything more exaggerated than this? The prince had to be controlled by demons, otherwise, he could not think of any other explanation!
Even if the prince wanted to dally with the witches, he could lock them in the castle and have fun anytime. This was not the first time that Cole heard about the noble secretly hiding witches—those wanton sorceresses who nobody would care about if they died suited the strange tastes of some nobles. However, openly admitting it was another thing.
This was not his delusion, for he actually saw it with his own eyes!
Following the principle of "You worked for whoever gave you money", if the snow was not too heavy, Cole would stroll around the city wall, where he could often see the figure of Prince Roland. Originally he was surprised, what made this incompetent prince have the courage to stay in Border Town, rather than rush back like a scaredy-cat to Longsong Stronghold. But now he fully understood, Roland Wimbledon had long been possessed by the demon.
He saw with his own eyes that the city wall was penetrated by huge demonic beasts, the demon used thunder to attack it, then the demonic beasts that flocked forward was engulfed by the hell flames summoned by a witch. Finally, this witch also fell into the prince's arms, yet the entire Militia did not seem surprised!
He then heard the rumors of the neighborhood, saying that there was a witch with healing power. She cured someone's injured son and also cured some old lady who broke her leg. What blasphemous words! How could they accept the treatment of a witch? How was that different from accepting the demon's corrosion?
What made Cole determined to return was the incident that happened two days ago. He saw a witch fly out of the prince's castle, flying around the castle twice and flying back. The priest of the church often said that after the witch was tempted by the demon, she could get only one power. He had already seen flame and flight. Coupled with the rumor about the witch that could heal, it meant that this small town actually had three witches!
There was no doubt that the demon had already turned the lord's castle into the demon's party nest, and the inhabitants of the land were gradually being controlled by him. Cole had to flee as soon as possible. Anyway, he knew the secret about the rapid construction of the city wall. As long as he passed this information and the stolen alchemy powder from the city wall to Prince Timothy, he would most likely not be punished, but would even be rewarded.
The more he thought about it, the more he regretted not evacuating with the nobles and returning to Longsong Stronghold at the start.
Now that he wanted to leave, road traffic would not work, as the snow throughout the winter would cover all the roads. His only chance was by the waterway and using the merchant ships of Willow Town.
According to Cole's observation, on the first day of each month, ships from Willow Town would bring food over. After two to three hours of unloading and loading, it would sail away from the pier. He had to use this time to infiltrate the boat, or he would have to wait till the next month.
Today was exactly the first day of the month.
"One, two, three, four, one two three four." Right at this time, Cole heard the familiar slogan. Outside the window, a platoon of young men dressed in brown leather vests was running. If he had not long seen through the demon's plot, he would also be deceived by their youthful vigor.
[It's time to go,] he thought.
He put on his fur coat, tightened his belt and walked out of the hut. Neighbors were outside collecting dried fish, and they even greeted him. "You're going out so early?"
He had to say, although the Lord of Border Town was controlled by the demon, these fools' lives actually changed for the better indeed. They even dared to dry fish outdoors—if people were famished, even the dried fish that was frozen like stone, they would be able to swallow it whole.
Cole did not have time to reply. He looked at the disappearing Militia in the west and went straight towards the direction of the pier. Here the inhabitants took him for the brother of Iron Paddle, who came from Fallen Dragon Ridge to visit his loved ones—of course, that was all lies spun by him. Before he got rid of Iron Paddle, he asked for his name and address and pretended to be his brother to lurk in the town. As for his casually fabricated identity, he did not care if those fools believed him or not.
The snow on the slated road was swept a few days ago, and now it almost covered the top of the shoes. He kept a firm pace as much as possible to conserve energy—he did not worry about leaving his footprints, for it would take just one day that the snow would cover them again. Maybe after he reached Valencia, they would still be kept in the dark.
When he was approaching the pier, Cole saw the long-awaited sailing ship of Willow Town.
Bags of wheat were being moved out while cabin guards watched the area. He touched his pocket, and inside there were two gold royals and six silver royals, which was his entire belongings. There were six guards, who would not bother about the silver royals, and yet he did not have enough gold royals to share. So he had to target the porters. The stacked goods provided a blind spot; besides, he was good at knocking out and replacing a porter. If he could smuggle onto the boat, he believed that with the temptation of the gold royals, the captain would very likely be persuaded to harbor him and take him away.
Just as Cole was ready to act, uproar came behind him.
His heart secretly assumed the worst. When he turned back, he saw a few members of the militia team coming toward him while people around were moving towards him. Apparently, he had been surrounded.
Seeing that the attempt to escape was hopeless, Cole immediately held up his hands and knelt on the ground. In his line of work, it was important to not stubbornly resist. As long as he spilled the beans about his employer, he would generally be safe and sound, or... they would even pay a higher price to hire him instead.
"Do as much work as you're paid for" was also "Groundhog" Cole's principle.
But he did not understand how he was exposed?