Give me all your money while I’m still being nice.” The bandit brandished his spiked club at Apollonia threateningly.
He wore dirty, ragged clothes, but his face was beautiful.
His skin was milky-white and his profound eyes were shadowed by long eyelashes.
The men and women behind him, all heavily armed with swords and clubs, were similarly beautiful.
They stared at the carriage menacingly.
“Get out of the way.” A tall silver-haired knight pushed his way in front of Apollonia.
His face was covered with a hood made of rich velvet.
Of course, the bandits ignored his orders and crowded closer.
Uriel sighed, and pulled out his sword.
His sword flashed as it pierced the bandits – someone’s back, someone’s shoulder, someone’s leg.
Uriel’s swordsmanship was beautiful and elegant, as if he were drawing a path through the air.
The wounds he delivered were enough to render the bandits unable to fight any longer.
Uriel had to ensure none of the bandits were seriously injured, though.
That had been Apollonia’s order.
That brat alone is enough.”
Sid’s command to the knights, who were tensed to join the battle, was delivered in a somewhat weak voice.
It only took a few minutes for Uriel to finish off the remaining bandits.
They fled, and he didn’t follow them.
“I’ll go after them and kill them!” shouted a young brown-haired knight who stood near the carriage.
Sid shook his head.
“The miss ordered us to leave them with their lives.”
Thus, the envoy consisting of Apollonia, Sid, Uriel, and the imperial knights assigned by the emperor, reached the border of Lishan.
The Lishan region at the southern edge of the empire had been abandoned for decades.
Grain couldn’t grow in the barren and dry land.
The region was endlessly plagued by disasters, such as unbearable heat, freezing cold, blinding sandstorms and vicious monsters.
It was clear the land was cursed.
In one corner of the region, there might be a raging typhoon, and another, a cruel famine.
The residents of Lishan had been left alone and neglected for decades, and so they were extremely poor.
The feudal lord of the land lived in a mansion far from Lishan, and he would sometimes even sell the land at low prices, as if it were a joke.
“Take this instead of the money! It’s a large territory, after all.”
“I’m wasting my money away only to reap trouble…”
Emperor Pascal II had received an estate in Lishan instead of tax from the lord several decades ago.
Yet he, too, had left Lishan unattended.
It had only fallen deeper into ruin.
Now, almost all the people living in Lishan were gypsies – most of them Bellas.
Bellas were a species of witch skilled in medicine and magic.
They were witches, wanderers, robbers, and petty thieves.
What they were most known for was their striking beauty – slightly tanned, exotic skin, long eyelashes, and delicate violet eyes which attracted anyone, regardless of gender.
There were humans in Lishan too, but they were often halfbreeds made of the union between a human and a Bella.
Of course, those beautiful features didn’t stop them from becoming thieves.
“I mean, if they wanted to bring so many unskilled people, shouldn’t they at least be cunning” Sid growled angrily to Apollonia.
The envoy had begun moving again, and they were sitting in her carriage.
This was our third time meeting a bandit, so I was looking forward to it.
But they were truly helpless against Uriel’s blade.”
Before their departure for Lishan, Apollonia had thought of a plan to get rid of the emperor’s imperial knights accompanying them.
They belonged to the emperor, and were excellent knights who performed their duties faithfully.
In other words, they would report her every move to Gaius.
As long as they were there, Apollonia couldn’t explore Lishan like she wanted.
Even if she found something, it’d be a disaster if the emperor found out.
So she’d been glad to hear about the abundance of bandits in Lishan.
When the knights were attacked by the bandits, she’d use that chance to escape with Sid and Uriel.
Only then would they be free to wander around the territory.