The Magus that Robs
“Business? What kind of business, let’s hear it.” Claude felt a sudden joy. Were they playing into his hands? He ignored the figures and continued forward.
“Dammit, are you deaf or something? We asked you to f*ck off!” a dark silhouette cried. He rolled his fists and stepped forward imposingly, seeming intent on giving Claude a harsh wallop.
Claude had seen his fair share of thugs like that. It didn’t take more than five seconds of close combat for Claude to take down that thug and step on him beneath his foot.
“Well, tell me what kind of shenanigans Blacksnake is up to here.” Claude applied force to his foot and rubbed the thug’s face on the ground.
The other figure stepped forward. He didn’t think his partner would be taken down so quickly, so he wasn’t sure whether he should proceed. Seeing Claude torturing his partner like that, he mustered his courage and cried, “Stop, let him go!”
“Oh, I forgot there was another one here.” The thug he stepped on seemed quite stubborn. He didn’t make the slightest sound even though his scalp was already bleeding. Claude felt that he might as well change to another target.
He gave the grounded man a kick. The man was knocked out after a low groan. The other figure started to panic and drew his dagger from his waist. “You… D-don’t come here… I… I have a blade…”
Claude ignored him and proceeded.
The man watched as Claude approached and finally anicked. He tossed his dagger to Claude and turned to run as he cried, “Q-quick! There’s… there’s…!”
A Magic Missile struck his rear squarely and caused him to tumble into the ground. “Ouch!”
It hurt horribly. Claude felt a little remorseful for that. He had tried to aim for the man’s upper thigh, but he didn’t think that person would have short legs. The spell ended up striking his buttocks. That injury would paralyze the man if it didn’t kill him.
Before Claude approached, that fellow had fainted.
He gave it some thought and searched the two fellows. Regrettably, the money they had on them didn’t amount to even a single thale.
“The heck? You call yourselves gang members even though you’re practically beggars…” Claude spat in a low voice.
A set of hurried footsteps could be heard coming from ahead. The cries of the man who just fainted had alerted the others ahead.
The alley was really dark and Claude could only make out the rough outline of those people. He was quite impressed that they could tell he wasn’t one of them so easily.
Then again, he was all robed up like a black bat while the two knocked out fellas were dressed in goat fur outerwears. It was too different to begin with.
Seeing their two collapsed comrades, the four exploded and drew their weapons before charging towards Claude just as he was sizing them down carefully.
“You bastard, you actually came all the way here to rob us!”
There was a short distance of around eight meters. It was too bad they weren’t able to close it. Already on his guard, Claude summoned four Magic Missiles with a wave of his hand. That should be more than enough to take care of the Blacksnake thugs.
The two of them fell as they clutched on their wounds, but the third fared even worse. He happened to block the comrade behind him and took two missiles himself. He grunted twice and collapsed dead in an instant.
While one could still stand a chance to be saved after sustaining a Magic Missile, two was out of the question. It was akin to being shot by a gun from close range, after all. It was even able to punch a hole in a thick, wooden door, to say no less of human flesh, which was far softer.
Though Claude mostly aimed for their belly and lower abdomen, he wouldn’t mind if the missiles hit their vitals. At such a distance, all he cared was hitting his targets. It wouldn’t bug him whether the hits were fatal or not. The more thugs that died, the better after all. He already had the lives of quite a number of Blacksnake thugs on his hands, so a few more didn’t bother him.
Seeing his three comrades collapse in an instant, the last thug who luckily avoided being struck was so terrified that he didn’t dare to continue his charge. He began to shiver after he saw the figure standing only some three meters away from him.
Right at that moment, the clouds opened up slightly and allowed a strand of moonlight into the alley. The man was able to see Claude clearly. The grey-black robe and the shawl as well as the black mask he wore… With a flash of insight, the thug recalled all the terrifying rumors he heard and knew who he was facing immediately.
Clang! He dropped his handaxe and hurriedly prostrated himself. “Please… please don’t kill me… Lord Magus… Sir… I… I surrender.”
Claude had wanted to finish him off with another Magic Missile, but he didn’t think that the one that remained would be a coward who knelt and begged for mercy. Though, he was quite surprised to hear what the man said. “You… you recognize me.”
The thug hurriedly nodded after he looked at the robes once more. “Y-you’re the Lord Magus… P-please forgive m-my offending you…”
Claude looked at his own robes and came to a realization. He had killed a fair number of Blacksnake thugs in this exact getup. It seemed that the members of the gang had been made aware of a magus that liked to dress up in robes and a shawl who had killed and maimed quite a number of their own.
“What business does Blacksnake have here for you to seal up the road and forbid anyone from crossing?” asked Claude plainly.
The kneeling thug then understood why the magus lashed up against them. Freak accidents like these were impossible to predict. Claude had chosen to pass through that alley at that exact timing when they were doing something there. They were also unlucky enough to choose that time to carry out their matters…
“L-lord Magus… Our right-hand came here to negotiate with Shark about the shares of the seven taverns at the docks,” the thug said honestly.
“Negotiate with Shark?” Claude gave it some thought and found it weird. “You’re going to negotiate with Shark here? You’re not messing with me, right? You’re telling me that the gang’s base is here? I thought their territory’s at the docks.”
“No, it’s true, Lord Magus. You might not know it, but the temporary leader of Shark, Jerad, lives here in this alley. Jerad has to travel back here every night and our right-hand came here to intercept them to force them to sign over the ownership of the seven taverns at the docks.”
“That doesn’t sound right… Wasn’t there a truce between the two gangs until the trading fleet returns? I heard that your boss even made that promise at the town hall.”
“T-this.. Lord Magus, it’s already the middle of the 2nd month and the trading fleet still hasn’t returned. It’s said that they won’t be coming back at all. That’s why the truce is more or less useless. Our boss no longer has to hold up to his promise since the witnesses to the truce have already been fired from the town hall. Nobody cares about them anymore…”
Claude smiled bitterly. He didn’t think that his own father was one of the few who suppressed Blacksnake.
“Right now, the biggest gang in Whitestag is Blacksnake. Our boss is a bandsman in the garrison, so our right-hand thought that he ought to get the shares owned by Shark of the seven taverns so that we can chase Shark out of the docks.”
The kneeling thug was still shivering with fear. As expected, Blacksnake won’t respect the terms of the truce. The moment Father was relieved of his duties, the gang began to strike back, and that’s taking into account the fact that their leader is kept within the training camp. If not for the martial law that’s in place, the two gangs might’ve started an all-out war already. Dead bodies would no doubt pile up daily.
“Do you have money?” Claude asked all of a sudden.
“Uhh… Yes, I do.” The thug still didn’t understand why he was asked that, but he responded honestly in fear of angering Claude.
The thug hurriedly took out his money pouch. “I… I have a little more than one thale and three riyas.”
Claude nabbed the money pouch and pointed at the other three thugs. “Search them and give me all their money, quick. If you dare hide any, I’ll show you hell.”
The change in Claude’s attitude was too abrupt. The thug scratched his head in confusion and asked, “L-lord Magus, w-what do you want?”
“Move fast. Didn’t those two who tried to stop me say I was going to rob them? When you came over, you also accused me of robbing just now when you came here, so I don’t want to disappoint you. I’ll rob you properly this time so I hope the money you have on you can satisfy me. Those without money can leave with a missing hand or a leg.”
The thug hurriedly crawled over to his comrades. Perhaps because he spent lots of time with them, he knew well where they hid their money. It didn’t take long before he found three money pouches. As he was worried that Claude would be pissed at how less it totaled up to, he took off a gold ring from the finger of one of his comrades.
As he was searching them, one of them who was more lightly injrued tried to resist, only to be slapped by the thug. “Dumb fool, I’m trying to save you. Don’t be stupid.”
When he had the three money pouches and the gold ring, he knelt and held the money high up in his hands.
“Pour them all into a sack. Count them and tell me how much there is in total,” Claude said as he twirled the handaxe he picked up.
The thug watched the spinning handaxe in Claude’s hand and swallowed audibly. He hurriedly counted the money under the illumination of the moonlight.
“L-lord Magus… There’s two thales, four riyas, seven sunars, three fennies and six pennies in total…”
“Sheesh, you’re all poor chaps… Can’t you bring more money with you?” Claude cursed.
The kneeling thug wanted to explain that they never had to pay for anything they wanted at the slums and they didn’t have anything they wanted to buy either. They didn’t dare to enter large shops with strong backings which they couldn’t afford to offend anyway. The most they would do was hassle the stalls at the slums for some food and alcohol. They probably wouldn’t bring any money with them had they not wanted to gamble with their comrades at night.
“There’s another ring on the hand there. Get it for me,” the magus said as he pointed behind the thug.
Wait, there’s no ring left… He did turn back obediently, only to hear a rush of wind and feel the back of the axe strike the back of his head. The last thought he held before he fainted was: He got me…