“There really is a city in this wasteland…”
A merchant group looking for a new land was overwhelmed by the splendid walls that cut across the wasteland.
“Maybe the other rumors about it are also true. Like, I heard there’s almost no regulations in the city, but at the same time, there’s not a single company that has a monopoly in the market.”
“I also heard they’re lending us shops, free of charge. It almost sounds like a paradise for merchants like us.”
“Hey newcomer, you’re really lucky, you know! You don’t know how much we had to endure because of greedy fees and taxes.”
The one being called a newcomer was a lad of 18 years old who didn’t have any noteworthy physical features.
His name was Rein.
As a novice merchant who has joined the merchant group just a few days ago, he was still undergoing the basic training for being a merchant.
At any rate, the group was now in front of the city.
In the other cities they have been in, they were charged a fee just for entry. However, this one didn’t charge a single coin.
The merchants cheerfully talked about how this move of allowing people to enter and exit without any fees would help the city’s economy in the long run, and of course about how wonderful the city was. Meanwhile, Rain was terrified for some reason.
“Purpose of your visit?”
There wasn’t any entry fee, but people entering the city were still being inspected for the sake of security.
And because the merchant group has come to the city purely to trade, they didn’t particularly mind.
…except for Rain.
“I-it’s alright…everything’s going to be alright…I am a novice merchant, just a novice merchant…there’s nothing suspicious about me…”
In truth, his family served as retainers to the Albert house.
Recently, Raul Albert has sent investigation teams one after another to confirm the rumors about the city in the wasteland, but for some reason, not a single person has managed to come back.
That was when Rain’s father devised a plan: to have Rain disguise himself as a novice merchant and blend in with a merchant group that was headed toward the city in the wasteland.
The problem was, Rain was a novice not only in being a merchant but also in being an intelligence officer. Naturally, he asked his father to reconsider, saying that it was impossible for a novice like him to pull it off by himself. However, his father insisted that his inexperience should actually make him less suspicious.
Rain’s family was at the bottom of the hierarchy among the Albert retainers. So, in hopes of getting promoted, they would take every opportunity there was, even the risky ones. Rain was the third son anyway, so even if this scheme failed, their family wouldn’t be offset by much.
As such, Rain had little choice but to obey.
Fortunately for him, he managed to join this merchant group and has established himself as a new merchant.
“But the previous investigation teams also tried to blend in with merchants, didn’t they? …no, no, I’m sure the plan’s alright, it’s just that they must have screwed up somewhere. Yeah, yeah, I’m sure of it. I should focus more on being a merchant and put gathering intelligence in the second or third priority…as long as I’m careful like that…”
“Lad, are you ok over there? You look so pale.”
“…! I-I’m ok, nothing to worry about! Just tired from the journey, is all!”
Rain hurriedly gave a reply to a guard that was conducting the inspection at the gates.
“(Oh no, is he suspecting me now!?)”
“…alright. We have a public bathhouse in this village; that might help you get better right away.”
“T-thank you for the recommendation!”
His worries proved to be unnecessary.
After the inspection was done, they were allowed to pass the gate and into the city.
At that point, Rain breathed a sigh of relief.
“Ok, now that I’m in, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about for a while. But man, what a beautiful city this is…”
After passing through an area that was full of fields and then through another gate, they saw a great crowd of people. For a moment, they forgot that they were still in the wasteland.
Shortly after entering the second gate though, a boy approached the group with a smile.
He headed straight for Rain.
“Hello there. Are you a merchant?”
“…d-do you need something? As you might be able to tell, I’m new. So maybe it’ll be better if you talk to one of my seniors instead…”
Rain wondered why the boy approached him even though he clearly looked unable to help.
And then, still smiling, the boy introduced himself.
“I’m Luke Albert, the chief of this village.”