7-Suspicious Merchant

Mr. Lambda and I will be standing on either side of the gate, guarding it.
 This is a memorable first duty.
 We can't let anyone suspicious into the city.
 That's what I was determined to do, but...

"Not as many people are coming as I thought. ......

 About two hours have passed since I started standing in front of the gate.
 In spite of this, not a single person had visited the city yet. For now, he just stood there idly at the gate.

"This city is one of the most dangerous in the world. Merchants don't come here often because the cost of hiring guards is too high to justify it, and it's even more difficult for ordinary visitors. There are adventurers who come here looking for work, though.
That's the way it is. ......
I'm sure you've had a tough time getting here, Zeke. Didn't you get attacked by a bunch of demons?
Yes. It is true that we were attacked many times along the way,........ We didn't have any particular difficulties.

 On the way here, we were attacked by an unusually large number of demons.
 Fortunately, the strength itself was not too great, but it was a hassle to deal with.
 I was forced to stop each time.
 By the way, I was planning to take a carriage from Esthar to the royal city of Astaroth, but all the officials refused to let me.
 Going to King's Landing Astaroth involves a great deal of danger. If I really wanted to go there, I would have to pay for an escort and an extra fee.
 The price offered was so high that it seemed like a rip-off, and I couldn't afford it after I was fired from the party.
 So I came all the way here on foot.

I didn't have a hard time. ....... I think the demons around here were pretty strong, though. I guess former B-rank adventurers are different.

 Lambda-san said with a wry smile.

I don't know. But I'm curious how someone as strong as you became a guard. Is there a reason for this?

 It was a probing tone.
 Like he was trying to look into the other person's wound.
 But I didn't think of it as a wound.
 It had already scabbed over and healed, and I'd already told Captain Bolton. So I decided to tell him without hiding anything.

I was fired from the party I was in. I was fired from the party I belonged to. The party was famous, and there was no one who would pick me up if I was abandoned there. When I was in trouble, someone from the Adventurer's Guild introduced me to this guard job.
Oh, no. I guess you got fired.

 Lambda's eyes flashed with pleasure.

"You've risen to the rank of B adventurer, but you've fallen. You never know what's going to happen in life, do you?

 He seems to be smirking somehow.

"Whoa. It looks like someone's here.

 When I looked up at Mr. Lambda's murmur, I saw a carriage approaching from ahead.
 There was one person pulling the reins of the horse on the platform, and three others who appeared to be guards around him. A total of four visitors arrived at the gate.

What can I do for you today?
"We're here to deliver supplies.
Can I see your permit, sir? Mr. Lambda said.

 The man on the dais took off his robe and pulled out a permit from his pocket. He handed it to Ms. Lambda.
 Mr. Lambda looked down at the permit. He gave a small nod.

I'm going to change the back of the truck then.

 Mr. Lambda walked around to the back of the truck and opened the top.
 I peeked in from behind.

 The back of the truck was piled up with cargo. It was water, food and daily necessities.

"Looks like nothing suspicious.
 Mr. Lambda said approvingly.
"No, thank you. You're welcome to enter the city.
"...... Oh.

 The man nodded and put on his hood again.
 He pulled on the reins of his horse and started to move.

"Wait a minute.

 He stopped at my words.

"...... What is it?
I'm sorry, sir, but we can't let you into the city.
...... This man has allowed us to pass?
Hey, hey, hey. What's going on?

 Mr. Lambda rushed over to me.

"Mr. Zeke. These men are merchants. We've received advance notice of their visit. And I'm pretty sure these permits are real.
"Yes. I'm sure the permit is real. And the news of the merchants coming. But that doesn't mean they're the same people.
...... What do you mean?
They probably switched places on the way here. The real merchants. They're not the ones who came here.
"Switched," said Mr. Lambda. "What? Then where did the real merchants go?

'I'm sure they would have killed him to keep him from talking.'

 Ms. Lambda's eyes widened when I said that.

"That's absurd.
I'm not just saying that. I can smell the blood on them. And so does the inside of the truck. I've carefully wiped it down, but there's a lot of blood. I'm pretty sure that amount is lethal.

 I turned to the men in charge.

"They attacked and replaced the merchants on their way here. "They attacked and replaced merchants on their way here, since merchant attire and permits are all that's needed to enter the city. -- "Let's take them into custody, get their names, and inquire if such a person is enrolled in the Chamber of Commerce.
"...... d*mn. That was going to work out just fine.

 The guru man clicked his tongue viciously.
 He put his hand on the hilt of the sword at his waist.
 The men around the carriage, dressed as guards, also drew their swords.

You're right. We're not merchants. We killed and replaced them. I'm sure we cleaned up the smell of blood. ....... Well, if they find out, so be it. I'm gonna kill you all and get inside.