Chapter 694: 694
Lan couldn’t believe his eyes as he looked at the trinket in his hand, which was exactly how it had been described in a book that he had read in the library of the Black Raven Kingdom .
These trinkets were supposed to have existed long ago, and it was only after a lot of research that he had found that obscure reference that said that they would have the simple appearance of a coin with a button . All one needed to do was drop the blood of the one they wanted to be camouflaged as on it, and when they pressed the button, they would transform right away . Of course, it was an advanced spell, which meant that even the height and weight would change accordingly .
Lan almost wished that he could test it, but he stopped himself, as he knew that he was in a dangerous situation .
This man had managed to sneak up on him without tripping the many precautions that he had placed outside the room . This was something he always did no matter where he went – there were four layers of precautions, starting at the stairs . Over a long period of time, Lan had become accustomed to being able to hear and analyze each and every sound that he heard, so there was a tiny bell attached to a string that would be tripped whenever anyone entered this top floor corridor which only had his room . Even if someone managed to cross that, there was a small trinket placed under the floorboards which would be triggered if anyone walked on top of it, and after that, there was another trinket which was designed to detect the presence of an intruder by the airflow that would be disturbed by their arrival . Finally, at the door, there was one last trinket that would be triggered by the sound of rustling clothes that would definitely be given off by anyone, even if they had managed to somehow bypass all the others .
When that man from before had left, they had all been tripped one by one which had been a test to see whether they were all working fine . Yet, this man had not tripped anything, which meant that he was a very dangerous foe .
If he was a powerful Mage… With this much distance between them, Lan knew that his fate was sealed .
So, he slowly began moving towards the man in order to get closer to launch an attack . He had found that Mages were always vulnerable to such close range attacks which they couldn’t react to because they didn’t have the quick responses of a Fighter, and it had been this that he had always used to counter the dangerous situations that he always found himself in .
Yet, the moment he took a step forward, he found himself blocked by an invisible barrier .
Raising a hand, the man in the cloak said, “Just a precaution . I don’t let anyone come near me . I’ll get straight to the point . Treat the trinket as advance payment, and even if you reject me, you can keep it . I have a job that requires someone of your talents, and if you agree, I’m confident that you will become one of the richest individuals in the entire continent . Interested?”
Saying so, the man conjured a wooden chair out of thin air and sat on it, seeing which Lan couldn’t help but feel warning bells go off in his head .
Anyone who could do this sort of thing was definitely a very skilled Mage, and as this dawned on him… Lan realized that his answer might very well decide the fate of his life .
Men like these would never take ‘no’ for an answer, and he wasn’t prepared to gamble on the possibility that this one might be different .
“I’m interested . A job like that would be appealing to just about anyone… And there are many who are better than me in this business . Can I ask why you approached me?”
In response, the man chuckled and said, “There’s no reason to be so humble . You are the best in the business of impersonating others, and I even saw it live, in action, in that room . You had, what, two days to shadow that guy and learn his every minute movement? Even then, you managed to pull it off almost perfectly . Now that… Is something rare, and I doubt that there are many better than you in that skill . May I ask where you’ve learned it? Oh, and sit, I don’t want this to be formal . ”
As the man said so, another chair appeared right beside Lan, which he lowered himself into while saying, “I grew up in a place which required me to pick up the skill, or die . Let’s just say that living on the street doesn’t pay a lot, but impersonating the sons of those who are rich and privileged can go a long way in allowing a starving kid to get into places he would never have access to . ”
As the man’s face was hidden behind the cloak, Lan couldn’t tell what kind of expression he had, but in the way he leaned forward slightly, he understood that he was probably interested .
Also…the fact that he had been watched in that underground area without his knowledge made it clear that the power of this man was beyond anything he could imagine . Could it be…that he had even crossed the realm of Humans?
After a few seconds, the man interrupted Lan’s thoughts and said, “Very well . Let me tell you about the job, then . Have you heard of the Bank of Angaria?”
Huh? Why was he asking about that?
“Of course, who hasn’t?”
“Good . Let me give you some inside news, then, which no one else knows about . A prominent trade family is soon going to take out a large loan to build an orphanage for all the poor kids whose parents have either died, or have abandoned them in the entire Alliance . The Bank usually only gives out loans to those that it judges can repay it, and because of the respect that that family commands, there won’t be any problem in the loan being approved . The family is also going to garner a lot of praise for embarking on this noble cause, and even the Bank’s reputation will skyrocket because it is enabling them to do something so great . What do you think?”
The majority of Lan’s mind was still occupied with finding a way to either get out of here or to attack this man, so there was only a part of him that had been paying attention to this news which seemed pretty normal . He didn’t know how it concerned him, but he expected to find out soon .
So, he simply nodded and said, “I think it’s precious information . What’s the con? Is it to sell this information to other trade families so that they can take the opportunity to move faster to do the same thing? Or is it to sell this beforehand to all the organizations that can be contacted build the orphanage, so that they will be better equipped to put forth the proposals when it is time?”
As Lan said this, the man actually… burst out laughing and said, “Your thinking is too limited . I guess you forgot that I said that this would make you one of the richest men in Angaria . Try to think big . ”
This time, Lan took a few seconds and then answered, “Is it to steal the money on the way, then? It’s risky, but with your power, it might be possible…”
In response, the man leaned back and said, “Close, but not close enough . That news… IS the con . We will be impersonating the family . We will be pushing the bank into giving the loan . And we will be taking all the money, for ourselves . ”
After staring at the man for a few seconds, Lan finally found his voice and said, “What about the orphanage, then?”
“There is none . It will all be fake . But it’ll look real, and that is my job . As for yours… It will be to impersonate the individuals that we will need throughout this operation . There are many . Are you up for it?”
So… It was all a scam?
Lan couldn’t be blamed for not directly reaching this conclusion, as something on this level had probably never been attempted in the known history of Angaria . There was a reason behind this, too, and it was that it would require a kind of power that could only be found in Mages who had progressed far enough on their path that they wouldn’t need to do things like these to get resources for themselves . Even if they did, the amount they would be stealing would not justify the time that they would be spending on it, and this was common knowledge among everyone in this profession .
Unable to understand, Lan couldn’t help but ask, “It’s ambitious, and with your power, it might even work . But why? I know a bit about magic, and I can tell that you’re at least a Warrior level mage . You can simply go to any kingdom and obtain a lot more than what we will get in this job . So… Why?”
Silence hung over the room as soon as Lan asked this, and he wondered whether he had overstepped his bounds . Was he going to be sliced into bits for his insolence?
Thankfully, the man spoke up to answer .
“Revenge . Do you know the incident that was publicly telecast where the King of Lanthanor defeated a Champion?”
Lan only nodded, which led the man to say, “At that time… One of those who were captured by the King is my partner, and for all I know, she’s already dead . I am powerless to avenge her, as any outright attack would only spell my doom . So… I found this way to take revenge . That Bank is the brainchild of the King, and I know that he deeply loves each and every project of his . By doing this, I want the reputation of that Bank to plummet as it will become known for being so foolish as to lose money in this manner . Many more attempts will start to be made, and in the public, it will become a laughing stock . Let’s get back to the point . Are you in, or not?”
As the man said this, it was clear that he had reached the end of his patience .
The temperature of the room started to heat up, and occasionally, fireballs even sprang into existence and disappeared in the blink of an eye, which was supposed to happen when a powerful Mage was angry .
Lan had seen many driven crazy by revenge . Besides, it was possible that this was actually a golden opportunity that might allow him to get all the money he needed to reach his goals .
Yet… It would be dangerous .
Only, playing with death was something that he did every day, so he shrugged and just decided to go with it . If he said no, he might just die anyway, so why not take the chance?
An image flashed into his mind the moment he made this decision, and he wasn’t surprised, as it always appeared whenever he was going to embark on a dangerous job .
A blood-soaked street, a dying friend, and a whispered promise .
As he dispelled it and nodded, those fireballs and the heat disappeared, following which the man said, “Good . ”
“So who else will we be working with?”, Lan asked, knowing that a massive job like this would definitely require a lot of people .
Yet, the response that was given made him widen his eyes with disbelief .
“No one . It’s just you and me . I don’t trust people easily, and I only want one other person on this thing so that I can keep a close eye on them . It should be easy, though, with your skills . You just have to perfectly impersonate, say, 10 different people . A piece of cake, right?
At first, Lan wondered whether the man was joking, but soon, he realized that was not the case .
Well, he had made his bed, and even if it turned out to be his grave, he would have to sleep on it .
This was probably going to be the hardest thing that he had ever done in his life, but he found that he was actually…looking forward to it . It would push his skills to the limit, and Lan had always liked challenges .
Because of the cloak, though, Lan didn’t notice that the man in front of him was actually…laughing, silently, as the idea of scamming himself was a new level of scheming that he hadn’t thought he would ever reach .