(Because of incomplete information, what should have been two quick days of travel were turn into 4 long days. When he finally woke up at the dawn of the fifth day, he could see some farm fields from the top of his tree. Now the intelligence of a rat finally need to be used.)
Great, civilization in sight. If there is a field, there is a farmer. And if the farmer exists, a place to sell his products exists too. And therefore a city. Now my brilliant plan needs to be activated. Just need a road. Ok, I found 3 roads. Two are just roads made of earth, nothing besides walking on it could have created it. It's not useful for the commerce or the transport of goods. The last is a stone road. And by stone, I just mean there are stones to delineate the way. Otherwise, it is still a very flat and balanced road. That can be used by a lot of peoples. So let's go toward the stone road.
Now my two approaches. Either I stay in the forest, fall from a tree on a cart and hope that they don't inspect too much or don't unload the merchandises. Or I go toward the field and sneak inside a farmer cart. Which one to choose? Like I said earlier, it looks like it's spring and the field are quite empty. Not a lot of farmer should go to the city for selling their vegetables. I think. Never really understood the job of farmer back on Earth. I can be wrong. But waiting for a caravan is not better.
Currently, I am at the edge of the forest. If I see something moving from either the plain or the forest, I can quickly rush to it. Now I need to wait. Just need to wait. Wait. Wait.
I need a way to pass the time. Let's count to one thousand, 1,2 … 1000. Let's do it again, 1,2 …
(And after that, the first day was already over, but since some rat doesn't need to sleep, he kept looking for a change. The second day, he noticed 2 group of adventurers leaving the city and one coming back. The third day, nothing happened. And finally, the fourth day was coming.)
Why did I want to go to the city? More experience and avoiding danger? I would have probably evolved by the time I finally am lucky and find something. This town is really in the worst place ever. Is it at the border of the country? Some rustic, lost, and abandoned place. Or maybe that's not the main way. Not the king way. You know the main street that everyone uses. And another full day wasted. I hope the night will be better. I said that sarcastically.
"C'mon, c'mon I don't want to reach Ronta at night like the last week. Those damn guards took their time to check everything since they were bored. Even when I wanted to bribe them, they asked for 30 gold since it was the night. I lost 2 hours at that security check. So make the horses walk faster or else you will all be paid less."
Humans! And a caravan, it's wonderful. They talk about Ronta, that is probably the name of the town. But the bad news is that the security checks seem to be pretty hard. 2 hours of wait for a caravan of 1,2, 8 carts. They really were bored. From my point of view, I would say that we still have 30 minutes before we can say it's dusk.
Anyway, the operation to infiltrate the town is launched. I am at the top of the tree so I need to go toward the first branches. With my HP pool, I can probably fall from 1 meter and still be alive. Is it possible and yes one branch is perfect. Now I just wait. There is one of the vehicles that is big enough for me. After that, I will just need to find a place where I won't be buried by the goods. But now, 3, 2, 1, JUMP!
Yeah, that hurts. That hurts. But I succeed. Thanks to the stability of that cart. Damn, they are really professionals. I don't even feel the movements caused by the road. Now, I need a safe place. If I end up dying crushed that would be pretty stupid. Ok, is that crate locked, yes. The box, locked too. Chest, nope, that one, neither. Ah, finally a small chest. If I open it is pieces of jewelry. There is absolutely no way that thing will be checked by the guard. And I always dreamed of swimming in gold. If only I was a duck, someone would be singing a song about a hurricane. But why is it open? Bah, don't care about that.
The only problem is; I have no idea where we are. And I can't see anything from a closed chest. I can only hear the merchant begin to curse himself for being that slow. I think seeing his state of mind that the night is falling rapidly. You probably don't know that, but there is one person near you that is as much interested as you by the speed of the convoy. And hope to, that we reach Ronta before the night comes. Ah, we are stopped. I wonder what they are talking about.
"Please, we are still in the day, look we can see the sun. Can we enter Ronta before the night?"
"I don't know, maybe you can, maybe you can't. It's pretty late and the guards' shift is nearly over. Maybe we can finish it before that time comes. If we don't well, you will see with the other guards. I heard that they have taken their time last week."
"No, no, no, I know those night guards. They are slow, bored and most importantly greedy. Ok, what is your price?"
"For each wagon."
"Yes, final offer or you want to miss the chance to sell your articles before the end of the day?"
"10 gold? I have the cost of the travel; I have to pay the mercenaries that I hired."
"15? Can you make me a favor?"
"Ok, fine 16."
"Deal. Thank you very much for the patronage of the city guard."
"Yeah, yeah, I am always ready for improving the living condition of my favorite guard."
"Come back to the North Gate anytime you want."
Poor merchant. Forced into a bribe right at the entrance of the town. The laws seem not really followed. I mean, apparently the night shift is even worse and from my point of views, the day shift is already an aberration. It looks like the guards gain more gold from the hidden taxes than their pay. Maybe I can join the guard later. That sound like one of the best job in this world. Better than the soldier who risked their lives for the country. Or adventurers and the threats they encounter.
Even if I am pained for you dear merchant, you have my thanks. Without you and your noble sacrifice of sixteen gold coins, I wouldn't have entered Ronta that easily. Now the wolf has entered the nest of the chicken. Or something like that. Maybe it is a fox. First I have to escape from my hiding. Open the chest, leave it, check the surrounding. We are stopped near an inn I would say. No one looking that way, just a young boy feeding the horses. And the trader coming back toward me, probably for his chest of pieces of jewelry. I need to run.
Now I am at the back of the stables. I found a hole and escaped thanks to it. Does this city have a sewer? And yes, that's great. My future hiding spot is already found. But there are too many people right now. I can't reach it without being seen. So for the time being, let's check the nearby building and draw a mental map of the city. That's funny but climbing a wood house or a stone house is a little easier than a true tree. After 30 minutes walking on the roof, I have a good idea of what Ronta really means. Just from some estimation, I would say 300 hectares and 60 000 citizens. I don't know how many people live in each house and I don't count the nearby farmers but for a basic understanding that is enough.
First of all, that is not an abandoned city. There are paved roads with sewers. I have seen 3 or 4 big buildings looking like a cathedral from earth. So big presence of the clergy. The walls are impressive, at least 3 meters. I didn't see the width but if someone tries to invade it, they gonna pay a big price for it. The citizens look happy; they are well dressed and well fed. And by that I mean they are clean, no black stains on a dress, no rags and they have some form. I didn't see anyone with the skin on bones, except one or two beggars. The city guards are really visible, at least in the areas where I was. I am sure that if I go into the slums, I would see them all disappear. But that can't be avoided, at least peace is enforced on the main streets.
The night is finally here. The way is void of people. Now let's explore the sewers. Weird, I don't smell anything. Now that I think about, did I ever complain about a smell? Every day that small body impresses me. Or maybe that's my unique condition who knows? The good thing is the fact that they build a stone path near the river of garbage. Probably to allow humans to destroy any natural barrage that could be formed. Oh, some fellow rat, maybe I can speak to them?
I didn't understand a single thing. He neither from the look he gives me. Well sorry brother or sister, but your death will really help me.
Skrieek Skriek Skuick …
Rest in peace.
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