Ren Xiaosu did not know who Chen Cheng wanted him to meet, but he was interested in anyone related to this group of bounty hunters.
He still had not found two of the clues the palace wanted him to search for. He reckoned those two clues were related to these bounty hunters.
Ren Xiaosu felt the quest reward this time would probably be very special. He had never done a quest that spanned such a long duration before.
"Who’s this?" Melgor asked curiously. "I noticed you constantly running over to their carriage and thought you had laid eyes on that girl or the woman."
"Watch your mouth." Ren Xiaosu raised his eyebrows. "I already have someone that I like. Don’t get me into trouble by spouting nonsense like that."
"Then who’re they?" Melgor asked.
"Bounty hunters," Ren Xiaosu answered.
"Eh?" Melgor looked at Ren Xiaosu and then at Chen Cheng’s back. "Are they here to kill me?"
"If they were here to kill you, would I let them live until now?" Ren Xiaosu chuckled and said, "Do you remember what you said about tying a crossbow on your arm to shoot frogs when you were young?"
Melgor said exasperatedly, "I only tied a crossbow on my arm to look chivalrous, not to shoot frogs. I didn’t show you my love letters so you could mock me."
"Then why did you two go frog catching?" Ren Xiaosu asked.
"Is this the time to be talking about frogs? Talk about the bounty hunters instead," Melgor snapped. "Are you trying to tell me they’re the ones wanted by the magus order? It’s very dangerous to be in their company. The entire magus order has orders for their arrest. If the magus order finds out that we’ve been hanging out with them, we’ll be finished."
"Even if you don’t hang out with them, there’ll still be people trying to kill you. From the moment that girlfriend of yours secretly sent you money, it was destined." Ren Xiaosu said nonchalantly, "Don’t worry, they’ve disguised themselves very well. As long as you don’t tell anyone, their true identities won’t get exposed."
"Wait a minute, I remember you asking about the bounty hunters before we set off from York County. Yes, you asked about them in my Sorcerer’s Tower. Did you already meet them at the time?" Melgor asked suspiciously, "Where did you see them? What do you know about the arson that happened the night before we set off?"
"Huh? Is that so?" Ren Xiaosu said, "You probably remembered wrong. Don’t go off-topic and talk about me. We were just discussing the bounty hunters. Come with me tonight, lest you be left alone at the relay station and get killed."
"OK." Melgor agreed. To be honest, he really did not dare to be on his own right now. There were too many people who wanted to kill him on this expedition. Only by being around Ren Xiaosu did he feel a sense of security.
The relay station in Winston City was also a little more worse for wear than the one in Vaduz. Melgor had paid for the best rooms for Ren Xiaosu and himself, but Ren Xiaosu could still detect a moldy smell when he entered his room. Moreover, Ren Xiaosu could see rat droppings on the ground at a glance, so it was obvious the room had a rat infestation problem.
There were holes in the blankets, and the cups in the rooms were covered in a layer of dust. If they wanted to visit the outhouse, they would have to walk 200 meters to the latrines in the backyard. The smell of the toilet was so foul they could barely open their eyes.
The sanitary conditions in the Kingdom of Sorcerers were terrible. Although the guest house at Fortress 178 was also dilapidated, it was not to the extent of the situation here.
Such cities without sewer systems were too far behind in development compared to the Northwest.
Ren Xiaosu and Melgor roomed on the first floor. At 10 PM, Ren Xiaosu brought Melgor along and quietly climbed out through the back window. They did not take the front door.
The relay station’s floor was composed of wood flooring, so anyone passing through the hallways would surely creak the floorboards. If Melgor and he were to go out the front, the entire trade caravan would know they had headed out.
But what Ren Xiaosu did not know was that about an hour after they left, someone came creeping to Melgor and his windows facing the backyard.
Qian Weining was sneaking around with his trusted aide, who was holding two thin nanmu1 pipes in his hand.
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"Are you sure they’re both asleep?" Qian Weining asked in a whispered tone.
"Mhm, our people have been keeping watch at the door for a while now. There hasn’t been any movement in these two rooms for an hour already." His trusted aide said, "They must’ve fallen asleep."
"That’s good. Did you prepare it?"
"Yes. Yao Bo just finished preparing it. The sedative in these two tubes is enough to knock them out until tomorrow afternoon. By then, we’ll have already left."
"Alright." Qian Weining smiled and said, "I can always count on you. Let’s do this."
After that, his trusted aide used a match to light the substance in the nanmu pipe. Then he placed the other end of the pipe to his mouth and gently blew the smoke into Ren Xiaosu’s room through a gap in the window.
The smoke was not stinky. Instead, it smelled refreshing. Any person in the room only needed to breathe it in once, and they would quickly fall into a deep sleep.
Qian Weining had brought his trusted aide here to ensure that Ren Xiaosu and Melgor would get a good night’s sleep. He really did not want them to follow the trade caravan anymore.
If Melgor were to continue traveling with the trade caravan, they would probably get wiped out by the Tudor family before they could even reach Ghent City.
Thinking of this, Qian Weining felt very angry. They were supposed to carry out a mission in the north, but before they could even approach their target, their forces ended up shielding others from disaster instead.
And yet, nothing happened to the other party, while they suffered heavy losses. Who could stand that?!
After Qian Weining’s trusted aide blew the sedating smoke into the two rooms, the two of them hid under the wall and waited quietly. Qian Weining did not want anyone to know about this yet, so he and his trusted aide could only handle it themselves.
The weather in June had become very hot, and the nights were also a little stuffy. The mosquitoes in the backyard of the relay station were almost the size of coins, leaving Qian Weining and his trusted aide with multiple bloody bumps on their heads.
Qian Weining asked, "How long until it takes effect?"
"It should’ve already taken effect." His trusted aide said, "Sir, I’ll go in and check."
"Mhm, be careful," Qian Weining reminded him.
His trusted aide pushed open the window of the room and jumped in. As soon as he entered, he stuck his head out again. "Sir, there’s no one in here!"
Qian Weining was shocked. He hurriedly jumped into the room to check, but he realized the bed in the room had not been touched yet. It was obvious the occupant had stealthily left soon after arriving at the relay station.
When his trusted aide ran to Melgor’s room to have a look, he realized Melgor was also nowhere to be seen.
Qian Weining immediately felt a headache coming on. Was it that difficult to get rid of Melgor?
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"Sir, where do you think they’ve gone?" Qian Weining’s trusted aide wondered. "Melgor doesn’t have any acquaintances in Winston."
"I know where they went." Qian Weining said coldly, "Didn’t I say earlier that he’s with the Norman family? He must’ve gone to exchange intel with their spy!"
"Then what should we do?" his trusted aide asked.
Qian Weining sighed and said, "Why don’t we run away?"