That good plan had fallen apart the moment they’d met the first bandits.
Their weapons, preparation, and skills were far behind that of the imperial knights.
Apollonia had ordered Uriel to deal with the bandits alone in order to preserve their lives.
She’d explained it to the knights as a way to test the new mercenary who’d joined them through her introduction.
“Wasn’t the first group we met much better than this one This one’s so weak… go easy on them, Uriel.”
“It’s not hard to go easy on them, but…” Uriel glanced at Sid.
He’d made some unreasonable demands of Uriel before they’d left.
“When you run into a bandit, deal with them fairly.
But you mustn’t be seen by the knights, nor should you show your face.
Don’t hurt the knights, the bandits, me, or yourself.
Most of all, don’t hurt Apollonia.
In the end, only Apollonia, me, and you need to be kidnapped.”
He couldn’t tell whose orders he was supposed to obey.
Fortunately, he didn’t have to choose.
Sid looked at Uriel.
His smile was slightly sad, as if he understood Uriel’s thoughts.
“Go easy on them.
They fought without any plans nor coordination.
Living in Lishan, they have no choice but to resort to thievery to survive.”
They’d deliberately ridden a flashy golden carriage, and roamed the area in the most obvious, noticeable way possible.
But the bandits hadn’t even been able to take something so simple as a button from their belongings, much less deal with the knights.
Apollonia recalled the skinny bodies of the bandits they’d seen only a little while ago.
They must have been starving for days.
Powerless, with no coordination and no information, it was only natural for them to lose.
“They’re following us.” Uriel had poked his head out the window of the carriage for a moment.
Tell him to go slower.” Apollonia’s lips curved into a smirk.
“It’s time to get kidnapped.”
The guest house where the princess stayed that night was as still as death.
It was among the best accomodations in Lishan, yet the residence was terrible.
It was filthy and shabby – every corner was covered in a layer of dust.
Many of her guards had given up on sleep for the night, and stood guard in an iron wall around her quarters.
That was, until silent shadows slipped through the night.
The knights fell to the ground in a heap everywhere the black shadows passed.
These ones seemed different from the ones before.
Shadows with the faces of angels knelt to the ground to shake through the pockets of fallen knights.
They wore masks to obscure their faces.
They were neither more skilled nor more organized than the previous groups.
The only difference was the powerful man who hid among them in the dark.
Uriel had covered his face when the bandits were breaking in and joined them, knocking down all the knights he encountered.
Because of the darkness and his fluid movement, no one noticed the stranger in the crowd.
Those who noticed only thought that their stupid leader must’ve come to his senses.
It was more urgent to empty the pockets of those who’d been knocked out.
When the situation was settled to some extent, Uriel quietly escaped by himself and headed to Apollonia’s room.
Bang! A small canister tumbled out of the gloom as Uriel reached her room.
Smoke filled the air.
When the smoke had dispersed, the knights remaining in front of Apollonia’s room lay unconscious on the ground.
“It’s a success.”
“As expected from the master of infiltration.
Was the poison I gave you useful”
As you can see, they’ll be asleep until tomorrow morning.”
Leave the rest to those idiots.
Let’s get out of here.”
Sid, who’d already packed their luggage and strapped it to his back, took Apollonia’s hand, and the three of them escaped through the back door.
When the knights woke up a few hours later, they’d realize what had happened with the bandits, and they’d guess that Apollonia had been kidnapped.
Apollonia could re-join the knights whenever the time was right, and say they’d managed to escape from the bandit’s den.