A super mercenary only sounded intimidating in name. It did not matter how big a mercenary group was, none of them could take on a full-fledged nation. There was hardly any nation without a master swordsman or archmage, but out of the four mercenaries, only Glory mercenary had a master swordsman in its service.
As far as Anfey was concerned, the world was simple. There was a saying: Learn your craft, then serve your king. Royalty tended to have an upper hand when it came to recruiting useful men and women. A king could offer everything a mercenary group could offer, and everything a mercenary group could not offer. People like Yagor and Ernest were, in the end, oddities. Their fates only proved that being politically neutral could only end in disaster.
If Yagor had worked for a king, surely Anfey couldn’t have killed him as easily. Saul and Ernest wouldn’t have dared look for him, either. If Ernest had worked for a royal family, he wouldn’t have ended up in such a terrible place after Jerrofick had played his tricks. Now his reputation was so terrible even Suzanna had called him a coward.
Anfey was not joking when he came up with the plan to assassinate the Shansa princess. For someone like him, joking around was no longer an option. All he wanted was to do some good for Maho Empire and ensure a better future for himself.
There were only so many directions he could take. One was to leave the team and live anonymously until he achieved what he wanted to achieve, but what good would that do? His reputation would be ruined as well, and perhaps worse than Ernest’s. He was the one who wanted to kill the princess and had led the group into trouble. He should have the guts to shoulder the consequences as well. Abandoning his friends would turn him into a laughingstock and ruin his relationships with Saul and Ernest. Not only that, it they would likely turn into his enemies. He could not forget Phillip, either, who was still trying to find him and his group. He could, theoretically, return to being an assassin. Practically, though, business would be very slim. This was not his world any longer.
Another option was to seek refuge with Ellisen Empire or other nations. Anfey may have been coldhearted, but he couldn’t bring himself to betray Maho Empire. There wasn’t much he could do, anyway. No one would take in someone with no combat power and little-to-no magical surges, much less someone who had offended three of the most powerful men in Maho Empire.
The last option was to serve Maho Empire. Help in the time of need was the most precious, and now with Shansa Empire invading Maho, it was the perfect time for Anfey to deliver what Maho Empire need. Both hunting magical beasts and assassinating his opponents were for practice, and the benefits of the latter were much greater. Even if he did not achieve everything he was aiming for, he had grounds to argue if the future leader of Maho Empire wanted Saul to hand him over.
If he was lucky and achieved some of his grander goals, the future king of Maho Empire would have to consider his contribution to the war. If Maho Empire lost the war, he could still join Ernest and travel the world.
"Don’t get too comfortable. The alliance will only help us with small things," the man in black said.
"I know," Anfey replied.
"Do you know how to ride?" the man asked abruptly.
"Didn’t you say you wanted to welcome the princess? Get ready. We are leaving in a few moments."
"If we leave today, we can catch up to my caravans by tomorrow night, and encounter the princess on the way." The man looked at Anfey and added, "Do you have any other things you need to take care of?"
"No. Have a few men stick around. Keep an eye on them."
"I would have done it even if you hadn’t asked."
The secret spies were very efficient. After Anfey had told Christian about some things to look out for, he got into the carriage with Suzanna. There was another man in the carriage who was clearly important, because every time they encountered a checkpoint, the man would stick his head out and talk to the patrol. This got the carriage out of the city without anyone checking.
When they were about five miles out of the city, Anfey and Suzanna left the carriage and climbed onto their horses. The man in black arrived on horseback as well. He had taken his mask off. Anfey understood why he had kept that mask on at all time.
The man had a long scar across his face and two very distinct eyebrows. Blackwater City had a lot of guards, but guards with such special features were hard to find.
It was as if the man was testing Anfey’s ability. He rode forward without looking back or waiting for Anfey and Suzanna and did not stop until his horse was exhausted.
By sunset the next day, they had reached the caravan. There, they changed into the attire of men of the Snow Fox Mercenaries who protected the caravan.
They pushed forward all the next day and finally encountered the princess’s procession on the outskirts of a town. The princess may be important, but there was only one major roadway in the Country of Mercenaries connecting Blackwater City and White Mountain City. Ellisen Empire was to the south and Shansa to the north. It was the most important roadway in the country, and shutting it down could cause immeasurable loss.
Plus, the other three mercenary groups were very unsatisfied with Tiger of Tawau’s alliance with Shansa Empire. Glory Mercenary Group was worried that it would threaten their position of power, while the other two did not want Tiger of Tawau to get too powerful and tip the balance. If Tiger of Tawau had closed the roadway for the arrival of the princess, the other three groups would have protested. So the road was still crowded, and the princess’s servants pretended none of them existed.
Of course, all the mercenaries knew who the caravan bore, and had made way for her. Snow Fox's mercenaries were no exceptions. They stood by and watched the carriages go by.
There were thousands in the procession. Flags with vibrant colors fluttered in the wind. Stallions neighed as they marched by. Armor gleamed under the sun. Everyone in the procession looked serious, since they were representing an entire nation.
There were more than a dozen identical carriages, led by twelve stallions. The carriages themselves were large and beautiful, and shone gold under the sun. There were groups of knights behind every carriage, and two armored women guarding.
Clearly it was a way to decrease the chance of assassination. The princess would be in one of the carriages, and it was likely that her placement changed everyday. No one except for a few trusted people would be aware of her exact location.
When the third carriage passed, Anfey picked one of the women and whistled at her. The princess’s carriages had a lot of observers everyday, and the guards had gotten used to whistling and howling. Anfey stood towards the front, but his presence did not alarm anyone. At most he made some of the men curious as to why any mercenary groups would accept an apprentice like him.
The woman next to the carriage turned curiously. Seeing that she had saw him, Anfey whistled again, louder and sharper this time. He smirked at her. He was a good actor, and he was confident that he had fooled her into thinking he was trying to catcall her.
The woman frowned and appeared angry. Every woman would be angry in a situation like this. The weaker ones would hide, but the stronger ones would face it head on. The woman turned her horse and galloped towards Anfey. She raised her horsewhip and sent it cracking through the air.