NBAA Vol. 2 Chapter 3 Part 2
Several days had passed since Reito first arrived in Aferre.
The walls surrounding the village had been strengthened further, the moats expanded, the village warriors became stronger: they trained every day to fight the Goblins, under the guards’ guidance.
Reito too assisted the villagers and patrolled the surroundings every day. His objective was not only the village’s safety, however: his true first priority was to find the traitor hiding among the villagers.
It was the middle of the night: the village was completely silent, its inhabitants sleeping in their homes.
Reito and the soldiers were standing guard on the outer walls.
Survivors from villages attacked by Goblins continued to trickle into Aferre, but strangely enough the armed Goblins seemed to ignore only that village.
The soldiers chatted as they stood guard.
“…not one Goblin in sight.”
“That’s true…but we can’t let our guard down. They will come to this village eventually…all other villages in this area have been ravaged, after all.”
“Honestly, it’s a mystery to me…it’s like they don’t want to come here.”
“Thanks to you, sir Reito, our defenses are much stronger than before. Even those dangerous Goblins can’t win against us!!”
“I do hope you’re right…”
Reito observed the surroundings while talking.
There wasn’t the slightest hint of unusual activity. Even if he activated the Assassin skills Night Vision and Observing Eye, he could not find anyone suspicious. Not even Detect Presence could pick up anything.
“Whoa!? Sir Reito, that Ullr snuck out of the stables again!”
One of the soldiers spotted the approaching Ullr and called Reito.
“Ah, I’m sorry…I’ll put him back in.”
“Hahaha!! I wonder if he’s complaining about having to sleep in the horse stables, even if he’s a dog?”
“Ahaha…hey buddy, let’s go back…”
Reito hopped on Ullr and told the soldiers he was going to leave for a little while.
The direction he headed to, however, was not the stables where Ullr slept.
Soon enough, Reito reached the village elder’s residence.
“…okay. Ullr, you wait here.”
“It’s fine…bark if anyone suspicious comes here.”
Reito whispered his instructions to Ullr as he stood in front of the residence.
He then used Shape Change to turn a knife into a key and unlocked the entrance
Reito activated the Soundless Walk and Stealth skills, in order to move silently and unnoticed, and quickly entered the residence.
The elder had no family and lived alone in the residence. He had been living like this ever since his wife and children had been killed by monsters, several years prior.
The reason why Reito snuck inside the residence was to speak with the elder without anyone else knowing.
He quickly reached the elder’s bedroom and put his ear on the door.
The elder was definitely inside: he seemed to be still awake, as Reito could hear him murmuring softly. He then opened the door.
“Pardon my intrusion.”
“Please, don’t make a fuss.”
The elder, sitting on his bed, was shocked and surprised by Reito’s sudden entrance. He saw Reito draw the knife at his waist and retreated against the wall.
Reito didn’t let the elder out of his sight as he looked around the room, searching for something. He found a letter on the desk next to the bed and his gaze became sharper.
“So you really are the traitor.”
“W-what!? N-no, don’t!!!”
Reito reached for the letter. The elder tried to stop him, but Reito dodged and tripped the elder, making him fall on the floor.
Reito scanned the letter’s contents and sighed.
“This letter…is from the pro empire faction, isn’t it.”
“I thought something was wrong here. If you really were desperate, your request to the guilds wouldn’t have conditions as strict as those. I asked around and, as it turns out, you were the one to set those conditions. Is that right?”
Even if Aferre was not a wealthy village, the request’s conditions were simply unrealistic. Reito found it suspicious and contacted Airis to know more about it.
What he learned was a shocking revelation: the elder was actually connected to the pro empire faction.
In order to find out the truth, Reito continued working on the village’s defenses on the surface, while keeping track of the elder’s movements.
The elder, however, always had other people with him, so it was not easy to approach him.
That is where Ullr came into play.
The stables where Ullr slept were located next to the elder’s residence. Reito had obtained permission to use the residence’s stables for Ullr to sleep in, but the real reason was for Ullr to keep watch on the elder.
Reito started interrogating the elder.
“Why is there a letter from the pro empire faction on your desk? Are you a member?”
“N-no!! Don’t group me with the likes of them!!”
“Why would you be connected with ‘the likes of them’, then?”
Reito had already learned the truth from Airis, so he already knew more or less what was going on. Nevertheless, he wanted to know about the relationship between the elder and the pro empire faction from the man’s own mouth.
The elder let out a deep sigh, then started talking.
“T-they threatened me…one month ago, one of them came here…he snuck into my residence, just said “in the near future, the villages around here will be attacked by Goblins” and left. From the next day, survivors actually started coming to this village…”
“Why did that man tell you about such a thing?”
“That’s what I want to know!! Afterwards, that man promised the Goblins wouldn’t attack this village, as long as I reported about the survivors who came here…and until now, the promise has been kept.”
“You have been communicating via letter, then?”
“W-what else could I do!? If I didn’t follow his orders, everyone would be killed!! Do you have an idea how many hundreds of people live in this village!?”
“So that’s why you sent a request no adventurer would accept?”
“T-that’s right…everyone would find it suspicious if I didn’t send a request, but if adventurers really came, those people might do something…I have no idea why they’re doing something like this, anyway. I feel guilty for what I have done…but there is no other way for us to survive!!”
The elder answered Reito’s questions, a grave look on his face.
He had done everything he could, even tried contacting the royal knights or the guilds, but the servants he sent with the letters never came back. The village’s horses, one of their few means of transportation, were poisoned and killed.
Because of this, the elder thought he was under constant surveillance.
“S-sir adventurer…I know I have done something unforgivable…but could you please not say anything of this to the others? Or we will all be…”
“That would not solve anything. Besides, how long will your food supplies last?”
Because of the stream of survivors, Aferre’s population had grown considerably, causing the village’s food supplies to decrease at a very high pace.
Aferre’s original population of less than 100 was now over 300, after all. The stream of survivors flowing in the village increased every day too.
The good-hearted elder could not refuse entry to the survivors, which only increased his anguish.
The village’s food supplies were going to last for a few more days at most, but only a select few villagers were aware.
The elder, terrified of the pro empire’s faction surveillance, spent sleepless nights.
Then, Reito arrived.
“You don’t have to worry, sir. There are no pro empire faction members in this village any more.”
“H-how can you be sure of that!?”
“Because they plan to come to this village tomorrow — to massacre all of us.”
Reito gave the elder a letter, different from the one he found on his desk. The elder took it, not without suspicion, and quickly scanned it. His face then went wide-eyed in surprise.
“I-I can’t…what is the meaning of this!?”
“Among the survivors who took shelter here, there were members of the pro empire faction. This report was among their possessions.”
The letter stated the village’s food supplies were running out and that there was a hidden escape route in the southern wall, prepared so that the villagers could escape when the Goblins attacked.
The report suggested using the secret path for the Goblins to penetrate the village.
“I caught a suspicious person and found this report. He was probably the member tasked with watching over you.”
“D-does this mean that…they never had any intention to keep their promise!?”
“I believe so. According to the report, the Goblins will invade the village tomorrow night.”
“D-damn it!! Those bastards…are going to kill us all!!”
“They planned it from the start, I’m sure. This village’s location provides an ideal destination for the survivors from other villages: they left it for last to kill as many people as possible in one sweep.”
The elder, realizing he had been deceived, hung his head down.
Reito then retrieved the *fake* report from his hands.
Indeed, that was all Airis’ plan. What happened next too mirrored Reito and Airis’ predictions.
Reito convinced the elder to confess his secret to the villagers.
The people were lost and confused, at first.
What the elder did for the pro empire faction was only reporting about the refugees who came to Aferre. He also never turned any of them away. Lastly, he was under watch by the faction. The fact that he tried to contact the royal army for help was true as well.
On the basis of such circumstances, his punishment was deferred to a later time.
There was a graver issue at hand: the following night, the armed Goblins were going to invade the village through the secret escape route.
Some suggested sealing the secret route, but Reito instead proposed to take advantage of it to ambush the Goblin army.
Reito was actually leading the pro empire faction’s movements too: he knew perfectly how they planned to attack.
He had swapped the elder’s letters to the faction, in order to feed them wrong information: a false report stating that the royal army was going to come to the village.
Upon receiving the report, the pro empire faction thus decided to attack the village earlier than planned.
The invading forces were composed of thirty Goblins and two Monster Tamers leading them.
The faction was already aware of what happened to Basil in the Ymir mines, so they ordered the Monster Tamers to move in pairs, for added safety. Aferre was the last in the list of villages this pair of Tamers was ordered to attack.
It was time for the Monster Tamer pair to move out.
At present, several hundred people resided in the village of Aferre. The majority were villagers without battle experience and the soldiers guarding the village were only about twenty.
As per usual, the Monster Tamers planned to stay in a secure location and have the Goblins perform the actual mission.
This time, however, they were not only facing villagers.
The involvement of the passing adventurer Reito became the factor that sealed their fate.