The Master of the Brave - Chapter 139
The Master of the Brave
Chapter 139. To the Imperial Capital
The slums extended around the outer wall of the imperial city of Simurgh. It was full of poorly constructed shacks made of leftover wood and rags, and its main inhabitants were poor people who could not live in the imperial city because they could not pay the civil tax, or those who lost their hometowns in the long war against the demons and were left adrift. Their homes and lands were not guaranteed, and sometimes they might even be forced to leave the city by the government for damaging the Capital’s landscape.
However, this did not mean that residents were desperate for their lives, even if they did not know what would happen tomorrow. There were those who dreamed of one day escaping their current circumstances and rising above it all, laying out mats of old clothes, second-hand items of unknown origin and objects that were clearly just junk. There were stalls selling stews made from squalid potatoes, beans, and shriveled vegetables, while others sold cheap homemade liquor of unknown provenance. Everyone’s eyes sparkled as they shouted to sell their wares and people passed by, with a scene that was probably livelier than in the shop-lined streets of the Imperial City.
Wynn, Locke and Wedge were walking along those streets where many people were passing by. They had arrived in Simurgh the night before, and the rest were hiding in the woods. As there was a high crime rate in the slums, Leticia, Cornelia and Lino decided not to accompany them. If they were known to be young girls, they might attract the attention of thugs and criminals planning to kidnap them. Now that Simurgh was controlled by Prince Neumann’s faction, they did not want to be involved in any unnecessary commotion. And Kelvin also had to stay behind because there was a possibility that his face would be known.
“I’ve already caused my fair share of havoc in the city, and I’ve been in contact with a person who could be called someone important. It’s not like I’ve wiped out the entire organization he was in charge of, and there may still be people who remember my face. So it would be best if I didn’t expose myself.”
So Wynn, Locke and Wedge arrived in the slums. The purpose was to check the security of the outer gates and so. Even in the slums, the streets near the main streets were patrolled by guards. So they moved a little away from the road and observed the situation in front of the gate. Luckily, in the slums, where shacks were built haphazardly and without any planning, there were plenty of shady places to hide from the guards. At the outer gates of Simurgh, the carriages of merchants and travelers entering and leaving the imperial capital formed a line and their luggage was inspected in turn. They collected an entry tax, a fixed amount of tax on their luggage, and checked whether they were wanted criminals. There were a few guards chatting with passersby who knew each other, so they didn’t seem to be on high alert.
“Hmm… It didn’t look like security had undergone much of a change. I thought maybe they would be restricting traffic in the Imperial City.”
“Apart from holding back people or key points in the rebellion, if they kept the gates closed or were on high alert after the commotion is over, it would antagonize the citizens and make the soldiers on their side think they were outnumbered.”
Wynn was frankly impressed by Locke’s explanation, since he belonged to a merchant family. However, Wedge, who was peeking out from behind Locke, tapped him on the shoulder and pointed.
“Hmm? Oh, that’s right. There’s a soldier over there.” Locke said.
When Wynn also looked, he saw several figures that looked like soldiers hiding in the outer wall.
“Not just there, but well behind the door. I can also see some in the shadows of the buildings.”
“Where are they? Can you see them, Wynn?”
“Where? I can’t see them at all. You have a very good view.”
The Simurgh’s massive stone outer walls were very thick, and there was also a marketplace just beyond the gate. Wedge told them that there were several soldiers hiding behind the buildings beyond. To Wynn and Locke’s eyes, even the building in the background looked small, and on top of that was a busy square in front of the gate. They had no idea where the soldiers were.
“Normally, there would be no soldiers in such places.”
Wynn nodded to Wedge, who assured him firmly. In fact, Wedge was the best archer in the squadron. As a boy, his grandfather, a knight, taught him to shoot while he went back and forth to his childhood friend Lino’s house. He also improved his shooting skills while accompanying her into the woods to gather herbs, as she was the daughter of a pharmacist. His eyesight was remarkably good, and he had even spotted and shot down flying birds along their journey.
“The guards at the gates look normal, and perhaps the hidden soldiers have a different chain of command.”
As Locke said, if the soldiers were hidden and watching, even if they were their allies, it would be difficult for the guards to behave as usual under the stress of being watched. If this was the case, it was possible that the guards had not been informed that the soldiers were watching them. After confirming that the security at the gate had been tightened, the three left the area in silence and returned to the crowded streets of the slums. This time, they walked toward Simurgh’s outer wall. The outer wall was huge and high, so it wasn’t easy to get lost, but the slum streets were not straight, and you had to continually get into dead ends and turn around to go another way.
“I-I’m so tired…”
It was no wonder Locke was so out of breath. They had to walk further than expected due to getting lost, although they wouldn’t feel so tired if it had been a normal path. However, the location of the slums put a lot of mental pressure, making you feel more nervous and tired than necessary. The further you went into the slums, the more dangerous they became. After all, if you showed any sign of weakness, they would pull your wallet out of your pocket. No, if it was just the wallet it wouldn’t be a problem. Suddenly, you could be mugged and stripped of your clothes. You might even lose your life.
“I don’t think we can scale the wall.” Putting his hand on the large stone that the outer wall was made of, Wynn looked at it.
“The whole wall is covered in magic, isn’t it? It’s grant magic. There’s some kind of writing or pattern carved all over the top.” Said Locke, who was looking at the wall like Wynn. He was using his own magic to explore the invisible flow of magic through the outer wall. “Even if we break through the wall to get inside, we’re going to be discovered soon enough.”
They thought about Leticia being able to use her magic to open a hole in the outer wall, but it seemed impossible. And then Wedge, who had been watching the skies over Simurgh from a distance, returned.
“The airspace above Simurgh also has some kind of magically created membrane. Maybe it reacts to intruders.”
“So Letty’s magic can’t be used to enter from the sky.”
“And I saw some kind of magic line running in that direction and in this direction.”
“Yeah, that’s probably the Sealing Barrier type.”
Six towers with a magic circle set around a pattern had been built at a distance from Simurgh. The towers were arranged in a six-pointed star with Simurgh in the center, and in case of emergency, they could establish powerful “Sealing Barriers” called “Seven-Fold Magic Circle Barrier”. The towers built in fortresses where inside were knights were strictly controlled and guarded as the key to the defense of the Imperial City. They were classified military installations that no ordinary knight could approach without permission, but Wynn and Locke had seen the magic circle and pattern inside one of the towers when General Zaunas had staged the coup. What Wedge saw was probably magic flowing between one of the towers and Simurgh. From where Wedge was looking, it looked like he could only see two magic lines, but there must have been four more magic lines extending in different directions.
“Come to think of it, there was a time when that happened…”
At Wynn’s words, Locke also murmured sincerely, as if remembering the moment when he saw the magic circle and the pattern. It was thanks to that incident that he discovered that Cornelia’s identity was that of the First Princess of the Empire. And so Wynn, Locke, Wedge and Lino went from being candidates at a knight school to obtaining the knighthood they so longed for. That seemed like a long time ago.
“I didn’t used to pay attention to it, but Simurgh is a hard city to penetrate.”
“If they don’t know your face, you can get away with a disguise or something. It won’t be just with Cornelia-sama and Leticia-sama, there may be people who know Wynn’s face. We can’t say there’s no chance that they may have made portraits of us as well.”
After leaving the outer wall, Wynn and the others returned to their friends hiding in the forest from the road through the slums.
“How was Simurgh?” When she saw that Wynn and the others had returned, the first person to call them was Cornelia. As imperial princess, she must have cared about the lives of the citizens. In her eyes was a hint of anxiety as she looked at Wynn.
To reassure Cornelia, Wynn smiled and replied:
“We couldn’t get to the gate, but from what we could see, there was normal traffic. However, Wedge said there were quite a few soldiers hiding and guarding the gate.”
“I see. I’m glad to hear that our conflict didn’t cost them their lives.”
When Wynn said that, Cornelia closed her eyes and put a hand to her chest in relief.
“Hmm. Security is getting tighter and tighter. So, from your point of view, did it seem like it would be easy to get into Simurgh?” Kelvin, who had been checking with Lino that they had not been followed, asked the three who had been scouting.
“No, I think it will be difficult without causing a commotion. At the gate, in addition to the guards, there were also soldiers hiding and watching. There are also magical barriers on the outer walls and in the sky to detect enemy intrusion.”
“Of course, I know there is that magic barrier. You guys knew about it too, didn’t you?”
Wynn, Cornelia, Locke, Wedge and Lino nodded. By going to knight school, you would learn about the magical barriers that covered the sky above the imperial city of Simurgh, the heart of the Lemmrousell Empire.
“What magical barriers?” The only one who had never attended school since her childhood, Leticia, asked Wynn.
“There are many races of enemies that can fly to the big cities, not only in Simurgh. Besides the capital, all major cities have magical barriers to detect intrusions in the air. They also have them in Clennad, and I believe there is one in your family’s Duchy, Letty.”
Mer, the territorial capital of the Duchy Mavis, was the third most populous city in the Lemmrousell Empire. Naturally, it was covered in magical barriers just like Simurgh.
“Oh, that’s right. It’s definitely protected.” Leticia, who had stood up after hearing Wynn’s story, observed Simurgh in the distance from behind a bush and said admiringly.
“It’s amazing. I can’t believe you didn’t know about the magic barriers.”
“Well. It’s a kind of barrier that you can’t see unless you use magic to see it. I never paid attention to it.”
“I think every country, not just the Empire, has this kind of magical barrier. Didn’t you see them in foreign cities when you traveled?”
“I don’t go looking for barriers in cities. The places where I use magic are, in essence, battlefronts. The big cities where I might have sensed something are fallen cities, and maybe because they have fallen to the enemy they were not working.”
“I get it now. On the other hand, if those barriers were working in those cities, then you wouldn’t have had to use magic, so you wouldn’t notice it.”
“So, Leticia-sama…” While Wynn and Leticia were talking, Kelvin interrupted them. “For example, is it possible to fly and enter Simurgh without being detected by the guards?”
“That would be impossible. If I wanted to, we could disable the magical barrier, but that would leave us exposed in doing so.”
“I see.” When Kelvin asked, Leticia shook her head.
“Then, we have to find a way to contact Prince Alfred’s spies that he said are inside Simurgh… That’s a big problem.”
“Well, Vice-captain. I have an idea how to do that…” When Kelvin turned his gaze to Wynn, he pointed from behind a bush to the plantation area outside the forest. “I have an acquaintance in this area. I have no doubt she knows the Adventurer’s Guild staff, so why don’t we ask the Guild to make contact for us?”
“Oh, you mean Laura-san?”
“Her Highness knows her too?” Seeing Cornelia clap her hands in front of her chest, Kelvin asked for confirmation and the princess nodded happily.
“Yes. She is an acquaintance of Wynn-kun and Leticia-sama and was very kind to us when we visited her earlier.”
“I see. If she has the endorsement of the Princess and Leticia-sama, she must be a trustworthy person. Now, could you show me the way?”
Kelvin made the decision, and they decided to walk through the forest to Laura’s house.
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