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Outskirts of Sin City

Mills laid on his back next to the prone figures of Drake and Kont as they kept an eye on the city in the distance while Slow was fussing around the camp site. The four of them had remained behind with Claymore One set off to find some Orc merchant to hijack their wagons.

It has been five days since they had left and today was the deadline for them to return back to the camp to report in. They had agreed to cease all forms of electronic communications after suspecting that the deserters might be behind the city as they feared that the deserters might pick up on their comms.

"So you think they managed to find some Orc merchants?" Mills asked.

"Maybe, I duno," Drake replied as he scanned the city walls with his scope.

"Damn, aren't you bored of staring through that all day?" Mills folded his arms over his head as he stacked his leg over the other.

Drake sighed as he glanced at Mills's attitude, "You are a goddamn Sergeant now, act like one!"

Mills laughed, "Come on, chill bro!"

"Hey, guys!" Kont suddenly called out. "I got some movement here! Lots of movement!"

"Where?" Drake quickly put his eye back on his scope as he looked around the city walls.

"The main gate!" Kont replied excitedly. "Wow, looks like something major is going on!"

Mills flipped himself over and crawled up to the crest of the mound and took out his binos and quickly focused in to the city gates. He could see a long train of wagons and riders pouring out from the city, and the Orcs were all heavily armored and armed.

"Shit did they somehow found us?" Mills cursed and yelled down to the camp. "SLOW! PACK IT UP, FIVE MINUTES!"

"Drake, keep watch! Kont, go help Slow!" Mills called out as he scrambled down the slope and quickly headed back to their hidden camp.

As they both ran back to the camp, they saw Slow had already packed most of the gear they laid out. Asagi the spider golem docilely sat on the side with its back to Slow, allowing him to load the field packs onto the ASAG's back.

After ensuring everything was gathered up and secured either on their bikes or the ASAG, Mills ran back and dropped himself next to Drake. "Are they heading towards us?"

"Ehh... I don't think so," Drake replied. "They seemed to be heading west."

Mills frowned as he observed the movement of the Orc troops. "Doesn't seem like some merchant escort, there's like what? Two hundred Orcs?"

"I think its closer to five hundred Orcs in that party," Drake said. "Is it a raiding party?"

"Are we going to bug out?" Kont asked from behind them as he and Slow joined them.

"Nah, false alarm," Mills frowned. "Damn it, where are Tyrier and his team?"

-----

Taris sat next to Tyrier as the wagon they were on slowly rolled over the neverending grassland. "So you all just want to enter the city?"

Tyrier nodded without saying a word. He and the rest of his men had changed their uniforms to what the locals were dressed in.

"Hmmm, why don't you all just walk in?" Taris pressed on. "You should be able to enter the city easily?"

Tyrier gave Taris a raised eyebrow and replied, "Seriously? You tried to go to the city with several wagons and an escort, and what had happened in the end?"

"Point taken," Taris conceded and smiled. "But I am still curious, you haven't told me the reason why you want to enter the city?"

"It's best if you don't know the reason," Tyrier said. "I think it's about time to set up camp for the night."

Once the convoy stopped and the men went about their duties in setting up camp for the night, Tyrier and his men removed their dirt bikes from one of the wagons. "We will be back by morning." He said curtly to Taris who nodded, used to these barbarians mysterious ways in just a few days.

The strange magic mounts roared to life and they zipped off into the distance at speeds greater than what a war dragon could run at. The Last Company men watched the dust cloud kicked up by the barbarians with mixed feelings as they disappeared into the night together with the roar of those mounts.

-----

"They are back!" Mills called out as he heard the distinct rumble of motorcycle engines. Soon the headlights of several motorcycles lit up the camp as members of Claymore One drove in.

"We managed to get a caravan to make our way in to the city," Tyrier said as he sat down next to the fire. "We will dump our bikes here and meet up with them in the morning."

"We got a small problem here," Mills interrupted Tyrier. "Just five hours ago, a troop of Orcs left the city heading towards north west."

"We estimated that there are about five hundred troops and they are all heavily outfitted for war," Mills said. "I had Drake and Slow to trail them to see where they are heading."

"Once they are certain on the Orcs' objective they will send out a coded transmission to Command," Mills explained.

Tyrier nodded, "Ok, we will return to the caravan and sneak in with the merchants, if shit hits the fan, we will fire off a red flare."

"Got it, I and Kont here will keep overwatch for you guys, if there is any danger, three rapid taps on the mike," Mills replied and shook Tyrier's hand and other members of Claymore One, "Good luck people!"

"Let's go!"

-----

Slow and Drake had paused almost a kilometer away from the marching Orcs as they stopped to make camp for the night. It was easy to spot the Orcs as they had hundreds of burning torches and camp fires burning in the night.

They had trailed the Orcs for a few hours with Slow riding the ASAG while Drake sat on his bike. "Where do you think they are going?" Drake asked Slow as they settled down for a cold dinner.

"That is a war band," Slow replied. "They not going to raid villagers with that."

"But they are heading towards the north west," Drake frowned. "Could they be joining up with the Empire for a mercenary contract?"

"Maybe," Slow gave a shrug. "Or they going to Orwell's Point?"

"Damn, guess we can only find out later!"

-----

As morning came, Tyrier and his men appeared back at Taris's caravan. They exchanged a few words before the men packed up the camp and prepared to continue their journey to the city.

Not long, they spotted the outline of the city in the distance. As they came closer to the city, they encounter more and more Orc patrols who challenged their purpose before growling at them to behave and then galloping off on the tamed wind wolves of theirs.

By late afternoon, they joined the small queue of merchant wagons at the main gate. Dozens of wagons with Orcs and other Elven merchants with large escorts waited in the sun as the Orc guards checked their cargo manifest before allowing them through.

Finally, Taris's caravan was next and the Orc guards boredly asked them to state their business and what was in the wagons. Taris slipped a couple of gold crowns into the palm of the head guard to help grease their way in faster.

Tyrier sat next to one of the drivers, holding a crossbow across his lap, acting as a caravan guard. He took in his surroundings, seeing the city walls that were made with a mixture of concrete and mudbricks.

The Orcs did a show of inspecting their wagons before allowing them passage into the city and Taris waved his men through. "So what now?" Taris asked as they entered the city.

"Find a place to stay and do your trading," Tyrier replied. "Don't worry about me."

"Well, if you say so..." Taris gave a good natured shrug. "Now, where do we go..."

The main fare way after the gate gates expanded out roughly a few hundred meters before an internal wooden stockade led into the city proper. Workers labored at flattening and preparing the land for further expansion of the city between the two walls.

Reaching the wooden gate, another group of bored Orcs pointed out the merchant district, warning them that they can't enter the inner city without any escort or risk getting thrown into jail before allowing them into the city.

The streets behind the second gate were wide and crudely paved but surprisingly clean. The air had the usual smells of an overcrowded city and a sourish Orc odor. Slaves were easily identified by the various metal colored collars around their necks could be seen busy with one thing or another.

Following the instructions by the guards, they turned right into a highway for wagons and followed the several crude arrows that pointed to the merchant district. Pop up stores and shops selling various products to fresh vegetables lined the sides of the streets and the street ended at a massive L shaped structure that was three stories tall.

A slave dressed in work robes with a bronze collar came up and said, "Masters, please follow me and park your wagons inside the stables."

Taris nodded and gestured his men to follow the slave who led them to a barn like structure where dozens of wagons had already filled the stalls there. After the men settled their wagons and mounts, the slave handed a wooden token to Taris and bowed, "Master, this token is used for doing trading with the Merchant Guild inside and also to retrieve your parked wagons and mounts. Please keep it safe!"

"Will our goods be safe here?" Taris asked worriedly.

"Master, you can rest easy," The slave gestured to several Orc guards milling around the building. "No one dares to steal here, the punishments are quite severe."

Taris nodded before asking, "Where can we find a good inn for all my men?"

The slave helpfully gave a few recommendations and Taris awarded him a couple of silvers. The slave thanked Taris before he went to serve the next merchant wagons that came rolling in.

"Let's find an inn and get some food and rest for the day," Taris grinned to his men who cheered. "Tomorrow we go trade our stuff for what we need!"

After asking around two inns recommended by the slave, they finally found an inn that had enough rooms to accommodate all of the Last Company troops. Tyrier and his men joined them in the common area of the inn during dinner and the men cheered them as they entered.

Taris smiled and handed mugs of ale to the surprised Claymore One members, "Well, we never properly thanked you for saving us! Bottoms up!"

"Bottoms up!" The men cheered and they toasted to Tyrier and his men who joined them.

Tyrier sat down next to Taris and asked, "So what are you going to do now?"

"Sell off our trade goods and barter for grains and tools," Taris said. "My people will need these if they want to survive out here."

Tyrier nodded as he had a vague idea of Taris's purpose here. "How big is your community?"

"Around five thousand?" Taris replied as he sipped his ale. "But at least half are fighting men."

"Five thousand?" Tyrier was surprised. "That much?"

"It's growing still and we barely have enough to feed everyone there," Taris continued. "That's why this trip down to barter for seeds and other necessities is important."

Taris finished off his mug of ale while Tyrier pushed his mug over to him. "We crossed one and a half kingdoms to come here!"

"I see," Tyrier covered his mouth as he grinned. "It must be tough."

"Say, where is that village of yours, again?"

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