Volume 3 Chapter 17 – Part 2
「……It’s delicious, and the bottle looks appealing」
Grucia nodded with satisfaction, and raised the bottle proudly.
「I know, right? This was pretty expensive, you know? I happened to see a foreign merchant sell it by chance, and bought it right there. That merchant was also a beauty, so that was great too. On top of that, the bottle is a work of art. I fell in love at first sight and pounced on the opportunity.」
As if remembering that very moment, Grucia began humming happily and drinking from his glass.
The one who sold the wine……must be Alice. She does look beautiful.
And by the way, the one who sold the wine to Alice — was me.
This wine didn’t exist in this world. It was something I took out of the Dimensional Storage. Once, I let Alice drink it in celebration, but then she threatened me into selling her a few bottles.
And she even stripped down to her underwear on the spot…… We were in a double room, so she dismissed all reasoning I tried to bring up
She relented in exchange for five bottles. Remembering that whole incident, I smiled wryly.
That was really scary……
That incident made me reassess the danger that the mixture of alcohol and women pose and further made me more cautious especially after Natalie had drugged me with that suspicious ale.
「I could only buy one bottle back then, but I’ll buy more next time if I see it again.」
He continued pouring more wine into the empty glasses.
Well, I suppose if Grucia succeeds in this task, I wouldn’t mind giving him two bottles as a gift.
We enjoyed the wine while discussing the details of the plan and exchanging stories about Efland.
I grab Russet’s wrists and put in just a little bit of strength, which easily makes him lose his balance. Then, I take out a dagger from the Dimensional Storage and place it at his neck.
I put some pressure on the blade, drawing a red line on his neck. Blood begins trickling from it.
「Release everyone you’ve captured. And pull back all your soldiers from the Lunette Empire.」
Russet’s eyes widened in response. He tried calling out for help, but I punched him in the chest to shut him up.
The soldiers, who were taken aback by surprise at first, have drawn their swords and are charging at me.
「……Are we testing to see if my blade is faster, or if you’ll put me down first? What will happen to all of you if the Third Prince dies, I wonder……?」
They can easily imagine the results. The soldiers put down their swords with a frustrated look.
With those words, I take out some rope from the Dimensional Storage. One by one, I cut the ropes binding the hands of the Adventurers, who had been acting as hostages.
Then, I used the rope I had taken out to tie Russet up.
With one person carrying Russet, the fifty Adventurers begin walking to Gaulus’s camp in high spirits.
Having pulled it off splendidly, Grucia smiled happily and patted my shoulder lightly. Telling me that the rest was up to me, he went off with the Adventurers.
All of this was part of the plan that Grucia and I had set up on that night.
There were injured Adventurers in the safety of the underground training spot in the Adventurer’s Guild. Many of them were human and demi-human. I helped a lot of them with my recovery magic, so all of them agreed with our plan.
However, it wasn’t easy to arrange a meeting with Russet.
Being in a position of neutrality, Grucia was the one who made it possible.
He went to the castle, secretly told Russet that the demi-humans were threatening the peace, and captured the Adventurers who agreed to the plan.
Normally, they would have been put to death right away, but Grucia advised Russet otherwise.
「The soldiers of the Lunette Empire won’t be able to attack if their own citizens are used as a shield. So if the Adventurers were to be captured and made as a meat shield, the empire would be limited in their options, giving us an advantage.」
Russet suspected Grucia at first, but was convinced when Grucia asked to be made a Guildmaster himself with Russet’s backing in exchange for the information.
Convinced that the Generate Kingdom would gain the advantage without losing a single soldier, Russet smiled and shook hands with Grucia.
The captured Adventurers, myself included, were then locked in the underground dungeon of the Adventurer’s Guild. Other Adventurers who had those captured would act as guards. Russet bought into Grucia’s words, and allowed them to put the wayward adventurers under guard without sparing a single soldier from the Generate Kingdom.
In fact, what was in the underground prison was just a simple fence, and there were no changes to the Adventurers’ quality of life.
The captured Adventurers were to wear the clothes they were wearing while injured, and their faces were to be covered in mud to make it look like they were badly treated as captives. To be frank, I was a little hesitant to make them wear blood-stained clothes, but there was no other way about it.
After that, Grucia urged for Russet to execute one person to make an example when the Adventurers were brought out in the front lines as a meat shield.
Of course, that one person would be me.
Since Russet understood that he would have the absolute advantage, he quickly agreed.
And when I got close to him, it would be a checkmate.
All of it went according to plan.
Having captured Third Prince Russet, the chain of command was well disrupted.
If a member of royalty were to die, it would be hard to imagine how much punishment their commanders and soldiers would have to suffer.
Thus, it was easy to have them return control of the imperial capital.
Although the Third Prince is relatively low in terms of power, the king favors him the most due to their resemblance, as the First and Second Princes resemble the queen.
And the present king had created a system based on meritocracy, in which the successors could gain power depending on the fulfillment of their roles and their accomplishments.
After the army of the Generate Kingdom had retreated from the capital, the Lunette Empire soldiers who came from Lian decided to establish a fort in front of the gates.
The Generate Kingdom set up a fort a few kilometers away, where negotiations would take place.
We demanded them to liberate all conquered towns, initiate a full military retreat, reparations, and the return of all citizens of the Lunette Empire who were made into slaves.
However, it would be difficult for the commanders alone to come up with an answer, so we had Russet write a letter.
「Hey, you know what to write for the letter, right?」
In response to my words, he began writing frustratedly.
We were in the underground dungeon of the castle. I alone was talking to Russet from the other side of the prison bars.
He was in the same condition as the royalty who had been confined, wearing shoddy clothes and with his feet chained to the wall.
「Wh-why…… why do I, a member of royalty, have to be locked in a cell in such a manner……」
With a face twisted in disgust, he kept writing as I told him.
After I read over the letter to confirm that there were no issues, I had one of the soldiers waiting outside come in and guard him in my place. Then I left the dungeon.
I called out to another soldier to bring me to the audience chamber, where the emperor, the royalty, and Gaulus were waiting.
I sat in an empty chair, and placed the letter that Russet had just written on the table.
「I had Russet write a letter to the Generate Kingdom. I believe this should do.」
The Emperor read the contents of the letter, and looked at Gaulus. He then nodded and smiled.
「Well done, Master Touya. I could never have imagined that you would be able to take back the imperial capital without a scratch. You have my deepest gratitude. I hereby acknowledge that you have fulfilled my request.」
I nodded in response to the Emperor.
「The rest is in your hands, Your Majesty. I look forward to the matter of my reward.」
I stood up and bowed, then left the audience chamber.
With that, I was finally free. In such a situation, I wouldn’t expect a reward immediately. After all, it had been a few short days since we took back the capital.
I had been using the guest chamber in the castle, but I was planning to stay at the inn at the imperial capital soon.
After this, it would be best for the people of this world to give their full efforts themselves.
I’m an anomaly within this world, after all…