Volume 6 Chapter 5 Part 1
About an hour after I rescued the princess, we had taken back control of nearly ninety percent of the royal palace, and we were studying the surroundings.
“We still haven’t found that strong guy the king was talking about,” I said.
“Indeed,” Sachylis replied. “It would be great if Steam Explosion killed him, but I don’t think we can count on it.”
“There’s probably barely any collateral damage. The enemy must have known that I could fire that magic in rapid succession. They won’t put their main force in a place where they can get hit by a single surprise attack.”
My guess is that the enemy will be in the tallest tower near the center of the palace, because that’s the hardest place for me to fight.
That tower isn’t as sturdy as other places, so it will probably collapse with a single blow from a powerful spell like Steam Explosion. It would be nice if I could make the whole structure collapse from a safe position, but unfortunately, due to the range, I’d probably end up getting dragged into the mess myself. This means that I’ll have to fight with my trump card, Steam Explosion, practically unusable.
If the enemy is trying to take some measures against me, the first thing they would want to deal with is Steam Explosion. Now Steam Explosion isn’t the only forte of a Sage, but to the enemy, this spell is the most dangerous.
And this is the situation I was aiming for. One advantage of letting the enemy know about my trump card is I can easily narrow down their courses of action.
It’s not a coincidence that I didn’t encounter any strong enemies even though I had suppressed already ninety percent of the whole palace. I knew the enemy couldn’t move from there, and I went around places where it was unlikely that the enemy had their trump cards, so I didn’t run into anyone particularly strong.
I don’t want other people butting in when I’m fighting against someone skilled. The idea is to crush those I can easily crush first.
Sachylis, who had been communicating with our comrades, spoke.
“We’ve successfully recovered His Majesty! They say he’s safe!”
After clearing the area around the room where the king was hiding, I asked Mylia to come pick him up. Looks like he was safe and sound. Now all that’s left is to wipe out the remaining enemies in the royal palace.
“It’s time for you to withdraw, Sachylis,” I said. “With fewer enemies, you can escape through the surface easily.”
“Yes, sir. Good luck!”
With that, Sachylis headed back down the path to the surface. It’s a simple battle from here on out—all I have to do is take down the remnants of the enemy. But the stronger the opponent, the higher the chances of people nearby getting involved, so better make them stay awy.
“I take it you’re the strong guy the king was talking about,” I muttered to myself as I reached the top floor of the tower.
I could tell at a glance that he was in a different league than the other men. Especially his eyes. They were not the eyes of someone terrified of an attack, but the eyes of someone waiting for a challenger.
If possible, I wanted to launch a surprise attack, but our eyes met as soon as I showed my face, so I gave up on the idea. Launching a preemptive attack against someone skilled whose fighting style is unknown to me could result in me getting countered hard.
“Hmm. I don’t know what the king said, but if you mean the strongest, it can’t be anyone other than me, Rian the Viper. Of course, that’s only if you compare me to my comrades. You’re probably stronger than me.”
“Will you surrender then? We could spare your life.”
I examined the man’s gear. He had a small hammer. His class was probably something like “Blunt Weapon User.” It might seem like a modest class, but its bearer could be powerful depending on how he uses his Skills.
“A tempting proposition, but I’m not going to surrender. There’s a good chance I can take back the palace alone if I take you down. We have not lost just yet.”
“Didn’t you say I was stronger than you?”
“I did. But don’t get me wrong. I just said you’re stronger than me, I never said I couldn’t win. I’m here because I’ve defeated opponents stronger than me. Aren’t you the same?”
So he doesn’t want to surrender despite having lost ninety percent of his comrades. I already expected that. The fact that he didn’t even try to move while I took control of the palace is proof of that. He realized that there was no other battlefield other than here where he could beat me, so he kept waiting for a chance at victory.
“What were you going to do if I didn’t show up?” I asked. “We’ve already gotten the king back, so we could have just left you here to starve or something.”
“I guessed you would come, that’s all. And just as I expected, you’re now standing in front of me. If I were in your position, I’d make the same choice.”
Hmm… So he’s aware of our circumstances. Like he said, backing down was not a choice I had. What happens after all this is over will depend on whether we completely retake the royal palace or not.
We’ve certainly succeeded in saving the king, but the problem is the king’s power. In this country, the position of the king is not exactly a rock-solid one. The fact that he couldn’t stop Cardinal Georgis from expanding his power is proof of that.
What would happen if people found out that the palace was taken, and that the king was used as a puppet? He would lose his power, no doubt. I don’t know who will be the king after that, but the odds of it being beneficial to us is very low.
But if we can retake the palace completely, that’s a different story. If not a single enemy survives, we can cover up the fact that the king was used as a puppet.
Everyone should already be aware that a fierce battle was going on inside the palace. If they asked how the enemy infiltrated the place, we can just say that they were strong. They won’t know that it was us who destroyed the place if we just keep our mouth shut.
I call this Operation: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
For this to be a success, I need to kill every single enemy. That is precisely why I’m here.