Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
“By the way, who are these people you were talking about earlier?” I asked after the meal.
I was constantly monitoring the enemy’s movements through Magic Search and Search Enemy, so the possibility of us being caught by surprise is low. Sachylis is in constant contact with our comrades outside the royal palace to monitor the movements outside.
“If I’m right,” the king replied, “it’s the Garden of Despair and the Zaiel Empire. I only received bits of information so I’m not entirely certain.”
“The Zaiel Empire. That’s a name I haven’t heard before. What kind of a nation is it?”
“It’s a big country. Its population must be nearly ten times larger than our Fastia Kingdom. Internal regulation is maintained by a strong military force.”
I see. It’ll be quite hard if you made enemies with a country with more people and great leadership. And to top if off, they’re working with the Garden of Despair. What an awful situation.
“Is the kingdom enemies with the Empire?”
“Yes. Until now, the terrain has prevented a massive invasion. I didn’t expect them to join forces with the Garden of Despair.”
“So they’ve only begun working together recently.”
“I don’t know. But they’ve been growing by annexing a lot of other countries through military force and seizing their land. They didn’t do anything sneaky like hostile takeovers. Instead they simply launched direct attacks.”
Their sudden change in approach suggests that the Empire only started working with the criminal organization recently. The Garden of Despaire could’ve also taken over the Empire itself. Either way, I think it’s safe to assume that the Empire is an enemy.
Just when I thought I’d taken down Cardinal Georgis already, now there’s a bigger organization involved.
“Do you have any evidence that the Zaiel Empire is involved in this?”
“Although they didn’t wear anything that indicated they were from Zaiel, their swordsmanship was close to the Zaiel style. Adventurers and our kingdom’s knights mainly use swordsmanship that is developed to fight against monsters, but the Zaiel style is one against humans. It’s a style developed for killing people.”
Swordsmanship, you say? That’s really not a lot to go on, but if they enemy wants to hide their affiliation, I guess you can only guess from the smallest of things. I don’t know how much the king’s eyes can be trusted, but I’ll keep this in mind for now.
“I apologize for interrupting,” Sachylis said, “but the enemy seems to be moving.”
She sensed movement from the enemy. I tried using Magic Search, too, but the enemy’s positions have barely changed. Not sure if our plan is working.
“It looks like they haven’t moved much,” I said.
“Yes,” Sachylis said. “However, people under Search Enemy moved. Several of them.”
Just like what we were aiming for, the enemy’s focus was starting to decline. While focused, they wouldn’t basically move at all. However, once their level of focus drops, people will try to wander around, relax their stiff bodies, or sit on the ground. They’re basically slacking a little.
Even those small movements can be detected by Search Enemy.
“All right,” I said. “Tell our friends to commence attack.”
It was almost sunset. If the sun completely set, it will be difficult to spot the enemy if they turn to flee. If we take too long, there’s a chance that reinforcements will come, so we’d better get moving.
“What should I do?” the king asked as I readied my staff.
Good question. If he can fight to a degree, it’s easier if he helped a little, but it’s hard to guess a king’s fighting ability. Maybe he learned to fight as part of his royal education.
“Do you have experience in combat?”
“I know some swordsmanship, but I have no experience with magic or Skill-based combat. This is also my first time in actual combat.”
It’s probably best if we don’t make him fight. That way, we can use our original strategy.
“Just hide here,” I said.
I took out a large sculpture from my magic storage. Its design was appropriate for the royal palace itself, and it was large enough to fit a whole person. Basically, I had it made in advance and brought it with me. There’s a decent amount of space inside for people to hide.
“Won’t they find out?” the king asked.
“With a little cloaking spell on it, I’d say the odds of it drawing attention are almost zero. Of course, if the enemy scours every corner of the royal palace or something, they might find it, but I’m not going to give them the time to do that. We might end up wrecking up this place a bit, but I’m sure you don’t mind.”
“That’s fine, but please make sure you don’t wreck me too.”
The king entered the sculpture. The entrance might ruin his cover, so I made sure to turn that side to the wall.
“Let’s do this. Sachylis, hold that side.”
We placed the sculpture with the king in it in a corner of the room. The king sounded a little anxious with his vision robbed from him.
“You’re certain it will be fine, yes?”
Hmm. Even a king would be scared of staying inside a sculpture while not knowing what’s going on outside. Should I give him some reassuring information?
“Don’t worry. I’ve got some excellent Healers with me.”
“What you just said makes me more worried now. It sounds like you’re assuming someone will get injured.”
“Have faith in us.”
I got down on the ground. The reason, of course, was to avoid collateral damage from my own magic.
“Then, let’s go wreck things up. Steam Explosion.”
The spell I cast exploded not on the walls or door, but on the ceiling. The ceiling collapsed under the power of the magic, and expensive looking furniture from the room above fell. It wasn’t just things that fell, though, of course.
“What in the world?!”
The people in the room above fell to the floor one by one. Most of them had been killed by Steam Explosion but those who were far from the blast point were still breathing, and were pierced by Sachylis’ arrows as they crashed to the floor in agony.
I kicked the door down, and it crashed with a bang. It looked like a solid door to begin with, but the wall was on the verge of crumbling from the shockwave of the Steam Explosion. Poking my head out of the door, I cast a spell at the guys waiting at the end of the hallway.
“Fire Bomb! Flame Circle!”
Behind me, Sachylis was shooting arrows at the guys on the other side of the hallway. They were positioned to crush us in a pincer movement in case we came out. Their magic spells would have come flying in the moment we showed our faces.
But they had already lost their cool completely. The moment they lost focus, their targets, who had been quiet all this time, suddenly started destroying the palace. No wonder they were surprised. The less focused you are, the less able you are to react quickly in an emergency. In a battle, that could be fatal.
“Someone help! Heeeeelp!”
One by one, the enemies collapsed in a rain of fire and arrows. Some begged for mercy, but unfortunately for them, I didn’t have any. The king had already confirmed that everyone inside the palace was an enemy.
“All clear!” Sachylis said.
“I’m done here as well,” I said, pulling my head back from the hallway.
After defeating quite a lot of enemies, one would feel the urge to ride the momentum and just charge straight in for more, but the right play here is to stay calm and wait for Steam Explosion to come off cooldown. Now that so much time had passed since the explosion, I can’t really suprise them that much anymore. One of the basics in a battle is to get close to the enemy with as many cards as possible.
“Forty-five seconds more,” I said. “Get me Lumia.”
“Understood. Contacting now.”
Sachylis used her communication spell to get in touch with Lumia.
Lumia is a Spirit Archer in the Count’s army. Although she wasn’t skilled in combat, she had great observational abilities.
Spirit Archer is a class with excellent perceptive abilities, and with the addition of Skills, her observational skills have been further enhanced. It’s the perfect role to blend in as an adventurer in the town while assisting in operations.
”How’s the situation outside?” I asked.
“We’ve identified twelve people acting suspiciously. I believe they’re hostiles.”
Hmm. I knew there were enemies lurking in the city as well. That’s to be expected, I guess. They could occupy even the whole palace, so the city was not surprising.
“Why are they lurking downtown?” I asked.
“Judging by their gear, they appear to be snipers. Maybe they’re trying to prevent someone from getting in through a window or something.
“I see. Can you take them all out?”
“It’s probably not going to be easy. It would be nice if they moved in an predictable manner, but there’s nothing we can do about those staying indoors. Most of them can’t even be detected through Search Enemy.”
As I thought, depending on the orders they received, Search Enemy might not catch them.
If the enemy order was to “kill Eld,” Search Enemy would definitely detect them. But the enemy waiting outside the palace may have received an order like, ‘If anyone is near the outer wall of the palace, kill them no matter who they are.”
In that case, their hostility is not directed at me specifically, so Search Enemy won’t work.
In this kind of situation, it’s important to have someone with great observational eyes, and not rely on Skills alone.
“Got it. Just continue what you’re doing. Be careful not to draw suspicions.”
“I will. Take care as well, Sir Eld.”
I was thinking of using the outside of the window to launch a surprise attack, but a full frontal attack might be the best way to go.
Let’s proceed as planned: sow chaos and destruction.
“All right. On to our next move. Are you ready?’
“I’m good to go!”
“Copy that. Steam Explosion!”
I resumed my royal palace destruction activities. I can’t even imagine how costly the damage will be, but I think we can chalk this up to “force majeure”. Right?