The Devil's Evolution Catalog Chapter 130: The Wolf's Fang's Bastille
Even with the matter of the potions settled for now, we still had a lot to do.
After that major defeat, the defenses of Dawson’s stronghold was sure to be at its weakest. With that in mind, George suggested that we form a punitive expedition and finish Dawson off once and for all seeing as this was the best opportunity we would ever get. If we were to forego this opportunity, Dawson might just kidnap some hostages again...at that time, no one could predict what would happen then.
With no better opportunity than this, this suggestion passed unanimously. Thus George, Io, Dioh and I formed an expedition of 400 hunters and advanced towards the Wolf’s Fang’s Bastille. In the meantime, the village would be guarded by Moranthal, Kevin, Ancarin, Regine and 100 other hunters.
To be precise, Ancarin and Regine were to guard my carriage. While I had basically gained the acceptance of the villagers, they were still wary of my devilish identity. If they were to find that human doll in the carriage...that would probably spark another crisis of trust.
Perhaps they might consider him a villain deserving of such treatment after learning of his deeds, but more than likely, they would judge me as cruel at first sight and suspect me instead of trying to find out what he had done…
I had originally intended to leave right away but after seeing the sorry state of the village, not to mention that the biggest threat, Dawson, still wasn’t resolved, I suppressed the strong urge to leave and search for Nicole.
...actually, it was just that George wouldn’t allow me to leave…
He hoped to borrow my powers in the coming fight while simultaneously paying back the loan with the money looted from the Wolf’s Fang’s Bastille. They were, after all, the local tyrants of this region, there was no way they didn’t at least possess 5,000 gold coins.
It goes without saying that he didn’t do so out of the kindness of his heart. More than anyone else, I knew of the wariness he held towards me because of my identity. If it ever came out that they were connected in any way to a devil, even if it was just a loan, some of the more extreme elements of the Church of Light might just take offense to this.
These extremists had no qualms about slaying anyone who ever had contact with a devil no matter who they were; common folk or nobility. A loan would probably be seen as colluding with a devil for financial reasons. No matter what reason you had. Thus, George insisted, vehemently, on returning this loan.
To accept money from a devil was to sell one’s soul…
This was a common saying in the Western Human Realms that spanned several ages. According to it, a devil would employ whatever means it could to ensnare a human’s soul. Given that they would rather die than lose out on a deal, there was no way a devil would help a person without any ulterior motives.
The Wolf’s Fang’s Bastille was relatively near to the village being roughly a day’s distance away on foot. However, thanks to the expedition leaving right after that intense battle, most of the hunters were thoroughly worn out, forcing us to set up camp for the night and setting off the next morning.
Taking into account the time we took to set up this expedition, the bandits should reach the bastille before us; though not by much given the mobility of both our parties.
By the time we dragged our fatigued bodies to the bastille, it was already nearing mid-afternoon.
The Wolf’s Fang’s Bastille wasn’t that much different from the typical mountain bandit stronghold. It had a wooden palisade reinforced by mud surrounding the perimeters. As predicted, the stronghold was already manned by bandit minions though they seemed to have no desire to fight whatsoever. Atop a watchtower, the scout in charge of warning the stronghold had already spotted us from a distance but was too shocked by our massive showing.
The villagers had always been the ones being bullied so it had never once occurred to them that they would take the initiative to assault their stronghold. Yet as reality would have it, the villagers did just that. With several hundred hunters at our backs, we came knocking on their front door.
The minions immediately gave up on resisting and instead fled for the back exit. For this purpose, a fight had even broke out between the bandits; not a single one of them doubted what fate would befall them if they were to get caught.
By the time George and Io broke through the unmanned gates of the stronghold, all we saw was a scene of chaos with injured bandits groaning on the floor and loot scattered all over the stronghold grounds. This was the result of the bandits turning on each other. The reason was not only because of their rush to escape but also to take revenge in the midst of the chaos.
Speaking of taking revenge, this reminded me of “Camp False Alarm” during ancient times.
“Camp False Alarm” or “Panicked Camp” was a common phenomenon in ancient times among the troops. One reason was the lack of nutrition during times of war that contributed to night blindness among the men. As military camps were exceedingly harsh back then, the soldiers tended to be in a constant state of stress while fearing that the next day would be their last.
Exacerbated by their lack of education and the oppressive methods of their superiors, this tension resulted in the soldiers being in a constantly high-strung state. Not only that, grudges were easily formed thanks to the tyrannical methods of the officers.
Any strange sounds at night might spook the soldiers into hysteria given their night blindness. Once a critical mass was achieved, things that these soldiers would normally not dare to do...ended up happening. Thus, taking revenge during the chaos of a “Panicked Camp” was a common occurrence back then.
(TL: There wasn’t an english equivalent for this phenomenon so I decided to use a more literal translation in this case. I know it sounds horrible but it’s accurate and honestly, it’s a pretty stupid term that describes a very specific set of circumstances. Plus, the author really didn’t need to put in this paragraph…
“Panicked Camp” just means mass hysteria among stressed out soldiers in the night, in the middle of a military camp as a result of some innocuous trigger.)
Naturally, the scene before us wasn’t that bad, but just from a glance, the ten or so dying bandits were more than enough of an indicator of oppression and revenge killings.
“Where’s your Stronghold Chief Dawson? Why is the bastille in such disarray?”
Ignoring the scattered gold coins, George strode up to a bandit who had been injured in the legs and questioned him. As he did so, Io led the rest of the hunters around and gave the prone bandits a finishing blow; whether or not they were alive didn’t matter to the hunters, they would just give them a stab and let the gods sort them out.
“Big Chief...Big Chief hasn’t even return yet…” Fearing the same fate as the other bandits, the minion smartly followed this up with a recounting of all he knew. “After we fled yesterday, we ran all the way back here and awaited the return of the Big Chief, but he never came, even up to the point you tore down those gates...we all thought that the Big Chief would come back to organize the stronghold…”
So Dawson hadn’t shown himself since he fled? Where could that bast*rd have gone?
As the saying goes, a headless snake could not slither and a headless human could not walk. Without their Big Chief here to lead them, they naturally didn’t put up any resistance after seeing us. The more cowardly ones fled immediately after they learned of our arrival, while the more daring ones took this opportunity to raid the treasure rooms before leaving.
As for those scattered and cracked coins, those should be the result of the bandits robbing the ones who raided the treasure room. They probably felt that there wasn’t enough time to raid the treasure room themselves or simply couldn’t be bothered to do so and decided to prey on their former comrades.
The bandit being questioned right now belonged to the daring category. Unfortunately for him, he was ambushed by a comrade who he had an alright relationship with. Not only was he robbed of several hundred gold coins, his right leg was permanently crippled during the sneak attack.
This was the first time we had ever stepped foot in the Wolf’s Fang’s Bastille, not even George had done so before; thus this crippled bandit became our guide through the stronghold. Our sole guide to be exact, seeing as how Io was a little too diligent in his clean up work.
The bandit had a crippled thigh that prevented him from walking so we ended up dragging him along with us...that’s right, drag. At first, we planned on carrying him but given the hatred the hunters had for the bandits, there was no way that could feasibly happen.
The hunter originally in charge of carrying the minion promptly dumped the man onto the floor and began dragging him by the collar of his tunic. Seeing that, George didn’t make any move to censure the hunter which essentially meant: just don’t kill him.
This minion was a rather astute fellow that immediately picked up on our dislike for him. He knew not to test our patience and instead diligently performed his duties as our guide even while enduring the burning pain through gritted teeth.
To speed things up, we had Io lead another team of hunters around to search the stronghold while George and I continued onwards with our team led by the bandit guide as we searched for the treasure room.
Under the guidance of the minion, we ended up in Dohby’s hidden stash; which for some inexplicable reason was an underground hidden room located in a remote corner near the stronghold’s gate. As the majority of the bandits who escaped were close subordinates of Dohby, this tiny room became their first target the moment they decided to flee. This was also the reason why we ended up meeting our guide near the gate.
Even so, the room was still filled with treasure despite the bandits raiding it prior to our arrival. There weren’t that many who knew of this hidden stash after all; only his close subordinates and a few others who caught wind of it even knew that it existed. Most likely out of sheer lack of time, the entrance to this treasure trove wasn’t even shut when we arrived. In the midst of the dreary darkness, the shining coins and treasures were particularly luminescent.
By my conservative estimates, this mountain of treasure was worth over 20,000 gold coins which wasn’t really that surprising when one thought about it. There weren’t that many who knew of this stash, and those who did couldn’t bring too much with them or it would hinder their escape.
According to our guide, this stash wasn’t always so full of treasure. It had only gotten this way thanks to the recent death of Doran. Because of his sudden death, Dohby had no choice but to transfer the treasure over to his own stash in a hurry and this led to the stash being exposed. Before that, the number of people who knew of this stash could definitely be counted on one hand.
While I wasn’t too familiar with the customs of these bandits, it looked like some truths didn’t change no matter where you were…
Now that we had cleaned up the Second Chief’s stash, it was about time we moved on to the Big Chief’s. Yet the moment we questioned our guide about Dawson’s treasure room, he gave us a stunned look instead before telling us that no one knew where Dawson’s treasure room was given his secretive nature.
“If you dare to lie to us, I’ll kill you.” At this, the little brother who came along to participate in the festivities couldn’t help but jump out and threaten the bandit. If the combined wealth of the second and third bandit chiefs were already worth over 20,000 gold coins after being raided, then exactly how much was the Big Chief’s portion of the loot worth? 50,000? 100,000?
Just thinking about the numbers made Dioh’s eyes go green with envy.
“N-no...I’m really not lying...the Big Chief was a secretive man, even his wolf training was done outside and not in the stronghold…”
“Wolf training? Couldn’t he have done it in the stronghold?”
The guide threw the teen a terrified look before swiftly explaining himself. One had to know that amongst the clean up crew, this teen was the most vicious of the hunters. “The Big Chief said that wolves who had been caged up would lose their wildness; so he always trained them outside, and for the most part, they don’t stay in the stronghold either.”
“Then why don’t the trained wolves attack you?” Asked George, immediately picking up on a key problem of his explanation. If the wolves were all trained outside of the stronghold, didn’t that mean that they basically didn’t know the bandit minions? In that case, how did they communicate with the wolves and how did the wolves tell friend from foe?
“Because...because of this...” The injured bandit pointed at his tunic as he stammered. “As long as we wear this kind of clothes, the tamed wolves won’t attack us.”
In truth, there was no reason to doubt the man at this stage. It wouldn’t make sense for him to hide too much information from us as he himself knew that his life was over the moment we judged that he was worthless. It was precisely this reason that led to his compliance all the while. As long as he showed off his value, his life was safe.
Special thanks to Steve Granger, Kaung Thant Win Naing, and Antoine Thompson!!