Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
“Did you slip any message into the letter?” I asked.
“My signature tilts up to the right side.”
That just proved he’s the real king. Lucky for us. We don’t have to find and rescue him.
“So you were threatened to obey.”
“Yes. They told me to lead you to a room in the basement that was disguised as a treasure room. I was to tell you that you will be rewarded a national treasure instead of coins.”
I see. It would definitely be easier to build a room for killing people in the basement compared to above ground. Whether it’s bombing or poisoning, both are easier to pull off underground.
With the king’s betrayal, the plan had completely fallen apart. They had guards watching him to ensure he didn’t backstab them, but his betrayal was all too natural. No wonder they were too slow to react.
“When did you come up with that plan earlier?” I asked. “I didn’t think you’d betray them so naturally when there’s no guarantee we’d react accordingly.”
“I came up with it when I noticed that you were not with the real Count Meigis. I realized then that you came here not to negotiate, but to attack. I may be wrong, but did you come here to help me?”
Huh. He realized all that just from the fact that the Count was an impostor. Sounds like a reliable guy if we get him on our side. An unexpected gain, I must say.
“That’s right. I didn’t expect you to see through that much in an instant.”
“It is par for the course for a king. Having my father killed and subsequently falling into the enemy’s hands is a huge blunder already. I cannot afford to commit more mistakes. I apologize for ruining any plans you might have had, but I hope this was acceptable.”
“Of course. Our main goal was to secure you safely. Alive and all. I’m glad we didn’t have to do much.”
The difficult part of the plan to rescue the king was figuring out when to fight exactly and how to recognize the real king. The king solved those two problems by himself. The only thing left to do now is to kick the enemy out. We can even use all the advanced spells we want.
I have a lot of questions, but I’ll save them for later. Even though we have succeeded in securing the king, we are still in the middle of enemy territory.
“So, what do we do now?” I asked.
“Well, what was your original plan?” the king asked back.
“The original plan was to wipe out the enemy and take back the royal palace. But it’s not like I had a full grasp of the situation inside. If you have a better plan, we’ll consider that as well.”
We can’t rule out the possibility that the enemy will make an impostor a ruler. It would be harder to use disguise magic without a sample of the person in question, but they could pretend that the current king is dead and set up yet another king.
If we take back the entire royal palace, we can prevent such tactics. We can also regain the king’s power, which will be good for us.
We’re nothing but charity workers if we simply save the king. We can only call the rescue mission a success if we actually give him his power back as well.
“I’m sure that is the best option, but…”
Hmm. The king doesn’t seem to like the plan that much.
If he was incompetent, I would just ignore him, take back the royal palace no questions asked, and demand gratitude from him. But from the way he moved when he asked us to help him, this king is far from incompetent. If he’s not keen on taking back the royal palace, it’s worth asking him why.
“You don’t seem to like the idea,” I said. “May I ask why?”
“If it’s possible to take back the palace, then your plan is the best. But I expect it will be difficult.”
“Are you talking about the difference in numbers?”
We have a separate unit deployed everywhere to prevent the enemy from escaping. I’ve sent in a large number of people who can use detection magic such as Search Enemy, to prevent them from escaping from hidden exits. This also serves the purpose of preventing the real king from being moved somewhere if the king was an impostor.
Putting it another way, there are not many of us who can actually participate in a battle. From the difference in numbers alone, a rescue mission definitely sounds difficult.
Since it’s harder to focus attacks indoors than outdoors, individual strength is more important than numbers. Even if the enemy greatly outnumbered us, it would not be difficult to annihilate them if they were weak. Judging by the knights guarding the king, it doesn’t seem like they’re particularly strong.
“I have received a report about your battle against Cardinal Georgis,” the king said. “I’m certain the difference in numbers does not matter to you. The problem is a guy named Rectus.”
“Is he strong?”
“Yes. I had royal guards with me, but he crushed almost all of them. He’s on a class on his own.”
I see. I don’t know how strong you have to be to annihilate the royal guards, but if there’s someone powerful among them, it’s best to be wary of him. Since he didn’t show himself to me, he must be quite the cautious type.
“Is that guy a member of the Garden of Despair?” I asked.
“I don’t know. But we think it’s very likely.”
If the enemy is from the Garden of Despair, we might not have to be too cautious. After all, Cardinal Georgis’ main force, composed of people from the orgnaziation, was not even that strong. If there’s someone stronger, there’s a good chance that Garden of Despair would have recruited that guy as Cardinal Georgis’ bodyguard.
But we can’t let our guard down. There’s a chance that the Garden of Despair didn’t give the Cardinal their best men. A very likely scenario, really. The difference in number alone would have ensured Georgis’ victory, and the organization couldn’t just all their force to support the Cardinal alone.
He saw the situation and hurriedly brought in his main force… If that’s the case, then it’s possible that there’s someone stronger than Cardinal Georgis.
There’s also one more possibility. The disposable combatants could’ve been strenghtened temporarily through some sort of doping. But it doesn’t matter.
If we let this opportunity pass, the palace’s defense will only be more fortified. Rescuing the king would also make the enemy more alert. If the opponent is strong, then all the more reason to fight them here and now.
Once we set foot in this room, there’s pretty much already no way out.
“There will be no changes to our plans,” I said. “Tell me the characteristics of the enemy.”
The king looked me in the eye and immediately understood that he could not convince me otherwise. “I understand.”
It’s time for a strategy meeting.