The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin chapter 44

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The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin 44. Purification Work (2)

As the sun set and the sky darkened, it was time for all creatures to return to their nests. However, this place was an exception. As time passed, more and more people kept flocking in, many of whom seemed to be wealthy, their pockets likely filled with money. As if by some arrangement, they gathered in droves, entering the building in front of them.

“Despite it being the first purification operation, you don’t seem nervous at all?” The leader asked with a smile, noticing my utterly nonchalant demeanor.

“How could I be otherwise? Who else would start their first mission with a task meant for higher-ups?” I retorted.

“Who knows? I think it’s the perfect stage to test your abilities. After all, I am the leader of the Mist, not foolish enough to send my men into a mission I believe is doomed from the start.” The leader confidently gave a thumbs up as if there were no issues at all.

This place was Brenu, a southern city of the Ushif Empire notorious for operating a slave market. Our mission was to assassinate Zickerman Albas, a vile merchant of the empire. Including the leader Silica and myself, a total of five members were dispatched for what seemed too small a team for a high-ranking task. Naturally, assassination should be conducted quietly, in the most secluded places, leaving no trace behind, quick and majestic. But what was this? Assassinating someone who drew so much attention in such a bustling place was not something the Mist typically engaged in, almost uncharacteristically so.

Reading my thoughts, the leader smiled, “Today’s purification operation involves not just the assassination of Zickerman Albas, but also something else we need to check.”

“And what would that be?”

“According to the lead members’ information, there’s an auction being held by Zickerman today. Given his history of running a slave market, it’s likely related to humans.”

I nodded, unsurprised.

“This auction, however, seems to be offering something special this time, something that even the empire’s officials haven’t been informed about to prevent leaks. Could it be something as extraordinary as a hero from another world?”

“Is securing that ‘item’ our objective?”

“Not exactly. But it’s worth checking out what the item is, especially since Aer Knight himself has mentioned something special is going to be present. It must be worth investigating.”

Ah, so even that dimwitted deity mentioned it; definitely something out of the ordinary then.

[…]

Silent more than usual, Ceyram seemed very focused on something inside the building.

“Feeling something?”

[Hmm… It’s a complex aura. It’s as if two familiar auras have merged, creating an entirely new and foreign one. Whatever it is, it’s certainly unusual.]

From her furrowed brows, it was apparent she was disturbed. Was it odd that I felt nothing? Nonetheless, I quickly infiltrated the building under the leader’s orders.

* * *

The party hall was reminiscent of a noble’s gala, ostensibly a social event by the Empire’s Merchants Guild but that was merely a facade. Not all those people would participate in the auction; information had been selectively shared, likely only with top-tier clients considering that even the empire’s officials were kept in the dark. Disguised among the party-goers, four members, including leader Silica, had already infiltrated the crowd. With my small stature, disguising as an adult was out of the question, so I stayed hidden, observing from the sidelines. For now, Zickerman Albas was nowhere in sight. I expected him to reveal himself once the auction or whatever it was began, but so far, nothing had caught my attention.

Suddenly, I caught the leader’s eye from across the hall. Through a brief but clear movement of her eyes, she signaled me to head downstairs, sensing something beneath. Indeed, assassinating Zickerman himself wasn’t the real challenge.It wasn’t as if we had announced our intention to kill, so there was no reason to assume they’d taken any special precautions. However, all of that would be meaningless if we couldn’t secure the target’s location. I had no choice but to comb through the entire building to find Ziker Albas. Upon receiving the order, I promptly left the banquet hall. Contrary to its external appearance, the building was smaller than I had anticipated, with hardly any space beyond the crowded banquet hall. Anyone would think it shoddy that a slave auction was to be held in such an insignificant space. That left two possibilities: either the auction was held elsewhere, or there was a hidden space unseen to us. If it was the latter, there was a good chance this hidden space was situated right beneath our feet. Since no stairs leading downward were in sight, I decided to employ a bit of magic.

“Black Mist 2nd Form: Spatial Transference.”

With the incantation, the mist that rose enveloped my entire body. Merged with the mist, my body naturally sank through the floor, descending downwards. After dropping about 2 meters, I entered a new space filled with stale air that irritated my throat.

-Click-

The moment I landed, the mist dissipated instantly. In the pitch darkness where not a single ray of light penetrated, I manifested mana at my fingertips and applied it to my eyes.

“Darkness Adaptation.”

Gently closing and reopening my eyes, my vision, previously swallowed by darkness, cleared up instantly. I got to my feet and began surveying my surroundings. The underground area was eerily silent. Rust-covered steel frames interspersed with large canvas covers resembled cages for beasts. Curiosity led me to peer inside one of the tents.

“……”

Manacles lay carelessly within the empty cages, still retaining a hint of warmth. This indicated that people had been here just hours before. Out of caution, I inspected another.

“Ugh!”

The moment I lifted the tent, I was assaulted by the foul stench of decay; bodies that had long since started to rot hit me with a wave of revulsion, and I averted my gaze immediately. There was nothing more to see. This was a prison for slaves, likely all moved elsewhere in preparation for the auction. The bodies, deemed to have lost their value, were left to rot. Was it because it had been so long since I last undertook such work? I thought I had grown numb to these feelings, yet an unspeakable disgust surged within me.

[You seem to have mixed feelings?]

Ceyram seemed to pick up on my mood and asked with a sly smile.

“I still have a long way to go.”

I resolved to focus on the task at hand.

-Clank!

Just as I was about to move, the sound of a cage door opening abruptly made me hide.

-Creak-

From the darkness, a frail woman with long hair struggled to crawl out of the cage, a heavy shackle impeding her movement on one leg. Somehow, she had managed to open the jail cell.

“Ah, ah……”

Even from a glance, I could see she was in dire condition, barely able to mutter groans of pain. Given her state, she wouldn’t last long before being captured.

“My child… my child…”

It was more of a whimper than a whisper, but I heard it distinctly.A desperate call from a mother longing to reach out to her child.

In a bizarre space, the anguished cry of a ghost whispered and echoed like an echo.

-Thud!

At that moment, with a loud sound, a ray of light leaked from one side of the space.

Struggling to her feet, the woman, as if she had found a path to salvation, moved toward that place.

Of course, it was obvious that those who would appear from within that beam of light were not going to be her saviors.

“What, what is this?”

“Catch that woman!”

Sure enough, a group of men who had appeared from within the light crazily rushed out to capture her.

“Ah!”

Men mercilessly beat the woman’s arm, which hardly had any strength left.

Tears of pain streamed down from her eyes.

“How on earth did she escape?”

“Is that really important right now? Zickerman himself will be coming soon!”

“Anyway, she’s not going to be sold as a product, is she? Just dispose of her now!”

They put the woman back into the prison, and without a second thought, they drew out their clubs from their belts.

Dispose…

One might think they were talking about taking out the trash. But then again, it’s not exactly an inaccurate description for people.

Maybe what I’m doing now is disposing of filth like them.

-Swish

With a resolved mind, I unsheathed Ceyram instantly.

With one step, the distance was halved,

With two steps, I had reached the front of the cage,

And with three steps, I was close enough to hear their heartbeats.

Three steps taken in the span of one second.

Feeling something was amiss, they naturally turned around, and at that moment,

-Slice

The neck of the man in the lead was cleanly cut.

“Eek…!”

She did not give them a chance to scream.

In the cell, whooshing through the air, five severed heads tumbled to the ground.

“Who, who…?”

The moment I gently raised her head and their eyes met, an involuntary smirk appeared on my face.

What a sight…

Swollen eyes, a crushed nose, teeth shattered into pieces.

One could wonder if she could even see with such a horribly disfigured face.

But to me, it was a familiar sight.

After all, I had turned all the garbage I dealt with into something like this.

“My child… my child…”

Even in the midst of this, her call for her child continued.

Granted, I had prolonged her life for now, but it didn’t seem like it would last much longer.

If the exterior looked like that, the interior would be worse.

She was probably suffering from multiple incurable diseases already.

It wouldn’t be surprising if she were to breathe her last at any moment.

-Clump, clump

In the midst of this, the sound of footsteps came from beyond the beam of light again.

This time, it was just one person.

Judging by the simplicity of the steps, he didn’t seem like much of a threat.

“Ah…”

At the sound of another presence, the woman attempted to stand up again.

[Did she leave a gold mine with her child or something?]

Such was the great obsession that even the kerambit would be taken aback.

However, before she could even make her way out of the cage, the owner of the footsteps had already reached it.

“What is this?”

Shocked by the gruesome scene before him, the man immediately collapsed.

-Clunk

“…!”

At the same time, a golden box he was holding clattered loudly as it hit the floor.

“Aaaah!”

At that moment, the woman, who had been lying like a corpse, let out an inexplicable scream.

With a madness-filled gaze never seen before, she ran out as if possessed.

(To be continued)

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