Bartz stared the noble silently. The baron’s eyes were glued to the black sack on the table. His hands were gnarling uncontrollably, willing to crush the sack with full force but were held back forcefully. Red cracks began to emerge from the corners of his eyes. He let out a heavy breath for several times. Soon afterwards, his drool came out, dripping endlessly. It was as if he went mad just by looking at the sack, which he thought Rodan was in it, tied up, unconscious.
“Rodan... Rodan...! I finally caught you...!” he yowled. He called him many times. He kicked him many times, savagely, even breaking some expensive mugs on the table.
“Rodan... RODAN...! Your days are numbered... YOU have been defeated! I win! You lose! How does it feel, ah? Tell me how desperate you are now...! Ah, can’t even speak? Haha! Take that—and that! AND THAT!”
Repeatedly, the baron hammered his foot to the body of the mannequin. Several cracking noises was heard, making the baron even more crazier on stomping it. After some time, Stupeyd finally had enough of sending his flurry of anger to the sack. Bartz could only watch in horror that if it was truly Rodan in there, he might’ve been dead.
“I wouldn’t be able to survive that rampage. Lord Dumias really lost it this time. I could see his magical aura emerging. He was using his magic to stomp on the doll.
...But I’m surprised... that Rodan had not only a mere doll, but also a full replication of a human body in that doll. I could hear something cracking from beneath that sack, as if a real human body was being crushed under a steel mace. I never saw a human can make something that realistic before.”
Shortly, Lord Stupeyd spoke to the silent mercenary, despite the drooling in his mouth that now looked like waterfall.
“...Hah... hah... you’ve done a good job, Bartz. I’m very impressed that you caught this good-for-nothing piece of shit. He will truly pay for what he had done to a noble like me. Now, go lock him up in the basement. Tie him in the tightest bond that even his wrists would crumble!”
Bartz bowed down a little, “Yes, my humble lord. I will do it immediately.”
Bartz carried the tattered sack on his shoulder. Before he left the room, he saw the baron’s butler entered the room with a tea cart. He soon served the baron, giving him the warm tea.
But, the butler gave a cynical sight to the mercenary.
“What are you looking at? Go on with your duty. Don’t you dare think you can drink along Master Dumias!”
“My apologies, I will leave now,” said Bartz apologizing while carrying the sack. As soon as he left the room, neither the noble nor the arrogant butler noticed a strange thing.
Bartz realized that they were too careless for their underlings. As soon as he got into the corridor, he walked with no weight bothering him. Shortly, his mercenary boys caught up with him and gave him a report.
“Sarge, we got ‘em all.”
“The liquid has been successfully spilled, Sarge.”
“Now, we just need to pull the strings.”
Bartz nodded, “Hm. Good work. With those prepared, now we need to start the light.”
The mercenary leader with his five subordinates went down to the basement. Behind them was an unsettling sight where every single door guards knocked out. Some were hidden inside cupboards, while some were thrown into the basement without being noticed at all.
“Rodan’s foresight of his plan has impressed me more than I should be. He said that the only problem in his plan would be ‘what if Lord Stupeyd noticed that the door was closed by me and not the guard doors?’
What stupidity. Even if he noticed, I will try to distract him elsewhere. But it was lucky that he wasn’t paying attention to me at all.”
Down in the basement, many bodies curled up. Yet, none of them were dead. They were only sleeping, snorting soundly in their deep slumber.
The basement of the baron’s mansion was insanely horrific. The stench of death was everywhere, rats crawling all over the place, and blood stained the walls and iron bars. Chains and ropes scattered in each room he found. The basement was Lord Stupeyd’s private jail.
“...” Bartz went silent for a while. But he kept on moving forward.
Meanwhile, his subordinates freed captive victims in there.
“The more I go into his plan, the more I understand why Lord Stupeyd hated Rodan and longed him to be captured.”
Bartz finally reached an end of the basement. Before him stood a brick wall, but some parts of it lacked mosses unlike the rest. Bartz followed the trace of the lacking moss and eventually noticed a square in poor shape. When he pushed it, the wall was moved backwards and revealed a path. It was an escape route for the baron.
“Rodan Rouge... your knowledge was horrifying. I salute you.”
Those captive victims were escorted through the secret tunnel in the basement. They were guided by Bartz’s mercenaries. Soon, Bartz was alone.
“Alright, then... time to tie you up, Rodan.”
After tying the mannequin’s body with the rotting chains, Bartz took the black sack and put it in his clothes.
Shortly, he went back up and closed the door to the basement. He returned to the room where the doorway to the living room was still closed. Seconds later, the door was opened, Bartz heard the baron nagging angrily to the door guards, for making him open the door.
“Those oath-wrecking-wannabe-knights... how dare they make me do all this...? Where were they at this time at night? Ah, I get it, they knew I would be sleeping this late so they’re off to the bar or to the tavern to enjoy midnight drink, aha, I get it now! Oooh, just they wait, I will make them pay for leaving this house unguarded!”
Soon, he noticed the mercenary leader. “Ah, why are you still here, Bartz? Ah, I get it. This is what you want, right?”
The baron handed over a pouch of 500 silver coins.
“...” Bartz went silent. The payment for catching Rodan was posted on the wall mag in the tavern. It was supposedly five gold coins, not something worth half a gold coin.
“Good thing you caught him first hand, Bartz!” the baron complimented him, despite the heavy breathing after he’s in a huff. “I’m glad I employed you as my mercenary, I’m really, really glad. You worked so quickly. You made me proud today. Or else, I would’ve been obliged to pay 5.000 silver coins or five gold coins to that greedy guildmaster.
Hah! Even though so! I could frame him for trying to milk gold from me. As long as I have influence and gold, nobody can stop me. Nobody can order me!”
Bartz got silent as the voices of the wretched noble rung through his ears.
“...Since the beginning, he wasn’t planning to pay at all, huh...?”
“Aaaahahahahaha! Oh-*cough-cough-cough!* Oh my, I laughed too hard. Very well, then, you may leave for tonight, Bartsy-boy. Go get yourself a drink—or maybe a girl, buwahahahaha-*cough-cough-COUGH!!!* Oh, goodness me. I need to get a pill now...
...GODDAMMIT! Did all of my guards go outside?! Idiots! I will send them to the deepest part of hell as soon as they return!”
Bartz then went outside of the mansion. The guards gave him their final thanks before sending him away from the grandeur household. He walked down the streets slowly, yet those guards weren’t paying attention at all whether something was gone wrong or something. None of the guards in the front gate noticed either that Bartz’s boys weren’t present along with him.
Their ignorance to the mercenary...
...cost them everything.
In the kitchen, the butler just got back with the tea cart. He then noticed something was amiss in there. The room lamps were strangely turned off. His wrinkly hands covered in his white picked a match and lighted them on. With minimal light, he searched for the lamp in the kitchen.
He stepped in there, yet he noticed a strange slippery liquid underneath his soles.
“What are these...?”
He ignored them and kept searching the room for a few seconds before finally noticing the lamp. “Good god, why are the lamps are out? Those wretched guardsmen, didn’t they notice Lord Stupeyd was still awake at the moment?” he grumbled.
“...Talking about guardsmen, where were they at this time of night? How strange they left their posts when a strong criminal had been caught. Also, when the time that dog finally met up to Lord’s expectations... they should be present,” said the butler to himself.
He lighted back the gas lamps, but in a short moment, he watched the ceilings, recalling something back.
“...Wait a minute. That dog went out of the house alone didn’t he? Wasn’t he together with his men...? Oh...! OHH!!!—”
As soon as the lamp went back on together with the butler’s realization of the missing mercenaries, it was all too late. The gas lamp he lit was heavily soaked up in fuel. Exactly when he touched it with the tip of the burning match, massive fire started instantly like a thunderstorm struck the kitchen, as many flammable objects got combusted so easily.
Everyone was shocked to hear an exploding sound coming from the noble’s mansion. Fire erected out of the shattered windows, causing nearby people to run for their lives. It didn’t take long for the fire to engulf the mansion wholly, causing it to slowly collapse. And in that very moment as well...
...Bartz rushed back in a heavy sweat. He went to the gate, where the gatekeepers were stunned, unable to do anything to save their master in the mansion. Hundreds of people watched from the distance, seeing the mercenary returning to the noble’s mansion.
“Get back here! You’re going to get yourself killed!”
“There’s no way someone can survive that fire!”
Bartz looked at them and declared: “Shut up all of you! I will not let him die, unless he paid his part of the bargain! Dammit...!”
Yet in Bartz heart... he was only... playing an act. An act that was played so well... that nobody noticed. Nobody found out that he was reentering the mansion, not for the sake of gold or silver, but to make sure...
...That the baron died along in the burning flames that engulfed his mansion, once... and for all.