The Master of the Brave - Chapter 142
The Master of the Brave
Chapter 142. Infiltration
They received word from the Zaunas faction through Paul. A week later, on a full moon night. The Zaunas faction informed them that they were going to raid and occupy several important places in the imperial capital. Wynn and the others would invade the imperial palace following the flow of the assaults, securing the custody of Emperor Alexei. Paul told them that the morale of the Zaunas faction seemed to have risen when they learned that Cornelia was coming to Simurgh. After a series of exchanges through Paul, they worked out the details of their plan, and now all they had to do was wait for the day of the mission. As the sun rose to its zenith, Laura arrived at the gate of the outer wall of Simurgh, driving a cart loaded with goods from her farm.
“Hello, it’s a beautiful day today.”
When Laura arrived at the gate, she called out to the guards and one of them soon arrived. The two had been to and from the gate many times with loads of vegetables, so they were very familiar with the guards. Ifelina also bowed her head.
“But hello, Laura-san. Hello to you too, Lina-chan. Have you come to sell vegetables today?”
“We have to make a delivery to a well-known store, don’t we?”
“You’re free to come in. Have a nice day.”
Laura was a citizen of Simurgh and did not have to pay tolls at the gates. In addition, travelers, peddlers and caravans visiting Simurgh arrived at the gates later. The back of Laura’s carriage was not even covered, and the vegetables in the back were in plain view. Therefore, the guards only glanced at the back of the carriage and quickly let them pass. The cart rattled down the main street of the Imperial City. At the end of one of the streets, Laura stopped the cart. There was a building that looked like a warehouse. The entrance was wide enough for the cart to pass through. Laura opened the double doors of the warehouse and let the cart through.
“That’s all right, Lina.”
When Laura closed the warehouse door and called out to Ifelina, she wheezed and let out a big sigh. Immediately, the seven figures of Wynn, Leticia, Cornelia, Kelvin, Locke, Lino and Wedge appeared at the back of the wagon.
“Well… I’d heard about it, but the Avian’s power of manipulation is really something to admire.” Kelvin, who had climbed down from the back of the wagon, looked at little Ifelina’s head with admiration in his voice.
Ifelina had wrapped the back of the cart in an illusion to hide Wynn and the others. The outer doors of Simurgh also had a mechanism to detect magic, but the weather magic that Ifelina and her kindred could manipulate was not properly like the magic used by humans, but a power equivalent to the miracles of the gods. Since the spirits in the air obeyed Ifelina’s will and not magic that used magic power, they did not cause the barriers to react.
“However, I was very nervous. I wondered if the guards were going to check the back of the wagon.” Locke said, unable to hide his excitement.
Since it was only covered with an illusion, if the guards had tried to take any of the vegetables, they might have touched the body of someone in the cart. To avoid this, they removed the part that covered the cart. With the vegetables uncovered, the busy guards would not bother to pick them up and examine them.
“We didn’t really know if our figures were hidden, did we?”
As Lino said, those who were affected by the illusion couldn’t tell if they were really hidden from the outside. They didn’t feel observed by any passersby on the street, but they were nervous all the way.
“Thank you, Lina-chan. You really saved our lives.”
“Huh, aren’t I amazing?”
When Leticia stroked Ifelina’s head, she smiled self-sufficiently and puffed out her chest. Now all they had to do was wait until the sun went down and it were less crowded.
“I hope Randall-san is well.”
As Wynn murmured, Leticia came to his side.
“I’ve missed him.”
“I hope we didn’t cause him any trouble.”
It was easy to see that Wynn and Leticia were closely related to the people at the Wandering Bird’s Nest Inn, once you did a little research. They didn’t know if they had caused Randall and the others any trouble now that Wynn and the others were working with Cornelia, who had become a political enemy of Prince Neumann.
“I’d like to go check it out, but I’m sure they’ll be under surveillance.”
“Let alone me, even Onii-chan’s face must be familiar…”
It was safe to assume that the faces of Princess Cornelia’s entire entourage had been handed out like portraits.
“Letty, is everything all right at your house?”
When Wynn asked that, Leticia looked a little worried.
“My sister Felecia is studying at the Great Temple of Emerdia, so I think she’s safe. And I think my sister Stacia won’t do anything terrible to Father, Mother or the people of the house.”
After the defeat at Peshlika, her brother Rails was imprisoned along with Count Schlihaden, the Lord of Peshlika, and others. He was supposed to be imprisoned in the Peshlika’s castle until the chaos was over, when a decision would be made, whether Prince Alfred or Prince Neumann would be the victor. And as for Leticia’s parents, they may have been being held in their mansion, but neither Prince Neumann nor Stacia would take their lives. Besides, Stacia knew that Leticia had no attachment to her biological family. Taking the Mavis family hostage would not be an asset against her.
Wynn had no parents or siblings, so he didn’t know how Leticia felt about her family. But he could tell that she had mixed feelings about them, having fled to the Wandering Bird’s Nest when she was old enough to miss her parents. Wynn, who was aware of Leticia’s situation, seemed a bit disgruntled.
“It’s okay, Onii-chan. I’m sure my sister knows. If she executes my father, the nobles close to the Mavis ducal family and their families might revolt. They would no longer have to deal only with Erz of Elstead County, but also with the Mavis Duchy.” Leticia smiled and leaned her head on Wynn’s shoulder. “So don’t worry. I can’t wait to finish this battle and eat Randall-san’s food with you again.” After saying that, Leticia closed her eyes. Finally, she began to breathe in her sleep.
Wynn gently supported her body and stroked her soft hair so as not to wake her up.
As the sun set behind the mountains, the full moon appeared over Simurgh, illuminating the ground. The headquarters of the Central Knights of the Lemmrousell Empire, housed in the old palace. On the same site, there was the knight school, a laboratory for the court mages and several other offices of the imperial government. Since it was a facility of political and military importance, it had been under heavy security since Prince Neumann took power in Simurgh, and even the students of the Knight School could not walk freely around the premises without permission. They were also restricted from going out into the city of Simurgh.
Alan, the guard guarding the main gate leading into the Simurgh Knight School, emerged from his cramped quarters when it was time for his assigned patrol duty. He stretched as he left. The gate guard’s job was to check on visitors to the Simurgh Knight School or those about to leave. The school was attended by nobles, sons of knightly families and many sons of wealthy families. For young soldiers like Alan, who had just passed the age of 20, the best entertainment was watching the pretty girls attending the knight school, but since Prince Neumann took control of the imperial capital, the number of visitors and outings to the knight school had decreased, and the guards had more free time than ever.
We’ve been standing in the same place day after day. I would like to at least see a pretty girl.
Most of the girls who attended this school were of a different status than Alan, and while he didn’t expect to be able to date them either. However, there were also students from commoner backgrounds at the knight school. And he knew that there was one student of commoner origin who had a close relationship with the daughter of a nobleman. That young man was always hanging around with that girl who was very attractive to Alan.
I wonder if I could ever have such a pretty girlfriend.
There were precedents. What was wrong with always looking at girls and having those expectations? But now that students were no longer allowed to come and go freely, most of the fun of the job was gone. Not only Alan, but all the guards were complaining to each other about the same thing.
Today’s patrol time assigned to Alan was just as the date was about to change. In front of the door of the knight school, there were a few eating establishments and taverns that sold to students, knights acting as instructors, mages and staff, but due to the reasons mentioned before, the number of customers had dwindled and the establishments closed early. Alan walked slowly through the quiet alleys of the Imperial City. The sound of his leather boots on the cobblestone streets echoed off the surrounding buildings, creating an eerie atmosphere for those who were not used to walking at night.
When Alan first started working, he used to walk the dark, empty streets on his night patrol, and his steps were getting faster and faster as he left his office, but after four years of the same, he had become accustomed to it. Instead of quickening his pace, he walked slowly, pausing to look at the flowers and grasses he could see in the light of the full moon along the road, trying to delay returning to his cramped quarters. The moon, which had been casting its cold light on the earth, was now hidden behind a cloud. Perhaps it was because his eyes had grown accustomed to the brightness of the full moon, but the darkness around him suddenly seemed to grow darker. The places where the light from the torch Alan was holding could not reach were completely shrouded in darkness.
At first, he thought he was imagining things. He could hear multiple footsteps echoing in one of the buildings. He tried to keep his footsteps quiet and his breathing under control, with the moon hidden by clouds, Alan noticed the presence of a person. The presence of more than one person indeed.
What the hell, are they after me? Are they thieves? He checked the hilt of the sword at his waist once and held a whistle in his right hand.
The presences were getting closer and closer. He did not know their purpose, but given that they were taking stealthy steps in the middle of the night, they were probably up to no good. If they were good people, they would at least have a light with them.
Should I call for reinforcements as soon as possible?
If he blew his whistle, many of his comrades would run out of the barracks when they noticed the shrill sound. However, Alan hesitated to do so. It was midnight. The houses around him were asleep and he wondered if he should break the silence of the night with the deafening sound of the whistle. Had an experienced guard arrived here at this time instead of someone as novice as himself, they would have blown the whistle without hesitation. As soon as there were multiple presences, anyone with real combat experience would opt to call for reinforcements in this situation without hesitation. Hesitation could cost him his life. Alan’s youth, with no real combat experience, came to the fore here. As he wondered whether to blow the whistle or not, several figures appeared in Alan’s view.
This is where Alan made a mistake again. He should have blown the whistle immediately, but instead he took the trouble to raise his voice in warning. As he raised his voice, one of the shadows quickly closed the distance and snatched the whistle from Alan’s right hand.
And as Alan was about to scream, the shadow knocked him unconscious. The residue of the scream dissipated into silence. After leaving Alan’s limp body in the shadows of a building, the shadows began to run back into the darkness of the night with confidence. At the same time, an important facility related to the political and military affairs of the Empire was in a similar situation. The soldiers on duty were quickly subdued by those who had sneaked in under cover of night.
In front of the main gate of the Simurgh Knight School. Wynn and his team tied up the guards at the guard post and ran through the grounds of the knight school, leaving the rest to the knights of the Zaunas faction. The Brave, the first princess of the empire, and the imperial squadron of squires: all of them had titles, except Kelvin, but before those titles, Wynn and the others were students at the Simurgh Knight School. They knew the school well. They chose a secluded route and went on their way. Cornelia was in the lead. The Simurgh Knight School, which used to be the imperial palace where the emperor of the Lemmrousell Empire resided, had a subway passage that secretly connected to the actual imperial palace. It was a subway passage to which only the imperial family had access. Among them, the subway passage Cornelia was going to show them was the one that connected to the back of the palace where the women of the imperial family lived. If it was that way, Prince Neumann, a male member of the imperial family, would not know it.
“Huh? Isn’t this a women’s dormitory?”
The place Cornelia led them to was a girls’ dormitory for higher-ranking nobles only.
“I see. Come to think of it, didn’t this used to be a building that was used as a back palace?”
“That’s right. Until the actual imperial palace was built, the favorite women of the emperors used to live here. So even now, when it became a knight school, it is still used as a dormitory for the ladies of the high nobility.” Cornelia replied to Locke, who was observing the building.
“I have a room in this dormitory, here’s the key.” Leticia took out the key and opened the door.
Now that you mention it, it’s true that her room is also in this dormitory. I don’t know which floor.
In the morning, Leticia always came to the dormitory where Wynn’s room was, so he never went near this place.
“Thank goodness, Leticia-sama has a key. The entrance to the subway passage is inside the bedroom.”
“A flower garden forbidden to men…”
“Wow… amazing. What is this sculpture? Wow, this painting looks expensive. My friend used to live in a dormitory, but it’s so different from this one~.”
Despite the situation, Locke and Lino moved around inside the dormitory curiously. Since this dormitory was only for high-ranking nobles, it wasn’t a place that boys or even ordinary girls could easily approach. It was understandable that their curiosity was piqued, but Wynn warned them in a whisper: “Be quiet”. Even though there were intruders in the dorm, not a single person came out into the hallway. As far as they could see from outside, the curtains were closed on all the windows. It was almost midnight, so no light was filtering through them. Maybe the rooms were perfectly soundproofed and they were sleeping inside, or maybe no one was there. In any case, it would be wise to move through the dormitory without worrying about people’s eyes. As Cornelia made her way to one side of the staircase, she glanced at Wynn and the others following her.
“I’m pretty sure it’s this way.”
Glancing around, there was a fairly large space next to the stairs. There was a pedestal on a rug and a large vase with flowers arranged on it.
“I see. So it’s under this pedestal. Wynn, Locke, Wedge, help me with this.”
Following Kelvin’s directions, the four men lifted the marble pedestal and pulled back the carpet, revealing a trapdoor to the thick wooden basement. It appeared to be a mechanism that could be opened from the inside and not from this side.
“It’s an emergency, so let’s break it down.”
Under Kelvin’s decision, they quickly broke through. There was a fairly loud noise when they did, but still no one came out into the hallway. Maybe there weren’t any people left in the dorm after all. There had been a political upheaval, and probably the higher-ranking nobles had taken their daughters back to their homes. A long staircase led down to the basement. The passage was as dark as a cave, and without a light, it would be difficult to even walk.
“It’s pitch dark.” Wynn held up a torch and held it at eye level.
Cornelia intoned a small incantation and pointed the way with a magical light.
“This passageway hasn’t been used for a long time, so the air may be polluted. Let’s use magic lights instead of torches to move forward.”
The floor of the subway passage was damp and very slippery, probably due to seeping groundwater. The walls were also slippery and did not look like something you would want to touch.
“It’s a straight road, we won’t get lost.”
“If it’s a straight road, won’t we be caught more easily when the pursuers come after us?”
If Lino was right and the enemy attacked the imperial palace and they needed to escape, wouldn’t they be caught up quickly on a straight road? As if to answer her question, Cornelia pointed with her hand to a corner of the wall that was lit by torches. There was a device there that looked like a lever.
“When you pull this, an iron plate from the door will fall from above and block the passage.”
They looked up and saw a gap in the stone ceiling.
“I think the iron plates are used to prevent smoke from entering when the Imperial Palace burns.”
Even if they were to escape from the burning Imperial Palace, it would be useless if you were engulfed in smoke.
“Your Highness. Are there other such passages?”
“There are several. This path leads from the back of the palace, so only the Emperor and the imperial women know about it. But there must be others, like the one from Simurgh.”
“I see…” Kelvin reflected on Cornelia’s answer.
“Um… Vice-captain Kelvin. Is something wrong?”
“No, I was just thinking that, if there are other passages, there’s a chance Prince Neumann could escape from there if they notice our attack.”
Cornelia was dismayed at his words.
“I guess we’d better hurry.”
Jade was in one of the rooms used by the high nobles when they visited the Imperial Palace. He was sitting in a heavy wooden chair. The room was dimly lit, as the sconces on the wall were not lit, but only those on the desk. Besides Jade, his assistant, Klaus, was standing in the room.
“I see. So Alfred attacked Cliffdorf territory instead of attacking the imperial capital and retrieving the emperor. Your idea is to destroy our foothold first?”
“His Highness Neumann and Lady Stacia ask when the Emperor is going to abdicate.”
“But how innocent they are. While they ask it, my father and Alfred are fighting in Cliffdorf territory.”
“For the two of them, even the Cliffdorf Marquisate is a land on the border. It must be a distant land that has nothing to do with them.”
“It was that way of thinking that led to my mother’s death!” Tapping the desk, Jade looked with disgust at the imperial flag on the wall of the room. The idea that if we do nothing and leave it to someone else, they’ll take care of the rest. It was a common mentality among the high nobles of this country.
In the war against the demons, the Empire had received numerous requests for reinforcements and supplies from the outnumbered Alliance. However, in an attempt to curb the rising expenses of the endless war against the demons, those at the center of the Empire at the time sent reinforcements with Jade’s mother Lucrezia as their commander in lieu of financial support and supplies. And after that, they only sent the bare minimum of supplies and other support to the front, and asked their most renowned generals, Generals Zaunas and Lucrezia, to maintain the army with the few supplies they had. As a result, Lucrezia was forced to fight a retreating war without supplies, and never set foot on the soil of her homeland alive again.
“What do we do with those two?”
“Tell them that we are not yet ready to depose the emperor. If we suppress him and make Neumann emperor before we have reached an agreement with Alfred and determined that he is the false crown prince, it will mean that we are the usurpers.”
Klaus bowed silently.
“Now then, Jade-sama. We have received repeated requests for reinforcements from Marquis Welt in Cliffdorf territory.”
“Ignore it. The request for reinforcements has not arrived. That’s all.”
“All right, sir.”
So he wanted to pretend that the messenger who delivered the letter was never there. The messenger who had ridden day and night from the Cliffdorf domain to inform his allies at Simurgh of the urgency of the situation, exhausted, was determined to lose their life without any reward for his loyalty. Jade had already disposed of the poor nameless messenger, and was still thinking silently.
To prove that he was not a fake, Alfred needed to recapture the imperial capital and secure the custody of Emperor Alexei, and to do so he had to attack the imperial capital with reinforcements from the Lyon Royal Army. Taking advantage of this situation, Jade intended to label Alfred as a major criminal inviting foreign troops to overthrow the state in order to take away the title of crown prince. He would then appoint Neumann as crown prince. If he committed the great crime of inviting foreign invaders, the other nobles, who were now opportunists, would also join Prince Neumann’s faction. If that happened, Jade would be able to control a huge army of several hundred thousand, including the army of the Empire and that of the Kingdom of Petersia, with which he was secretly connected. He could crush Alfred, along with the Lyon Kingdom’s army, and then gradually push the Petersia Kingdom’s army out of Imperial territory.
“I’m sorry, father, but I’m going to have to ask you to put up a bit of a fight and reduce Alfred’s army. In any case, Alfred will be forced to come to the imperial capital because of the emperor’s imprisonment.”
“Very well, sir.” Klaus was about to bow again. But then he sensed something strange in the Imperial City. “Jade-sama. It seems that rats have infiltrated the Imperial City.”
“They seem to be very cunning, and it seems that they have already invaded several facilities on our side.”
“That Alfred, he attracted our attention with the armies of Erz and Lyon, and then sent a separate force to sneak into the Imperial Capital. If that’s the case, the target is probably the emperor. They might as well have already entered the imperial palace.”
Jade thought that the enemy’s meticulous preparations made it impossible for his regular forces to engage them, since they were in the rear. Moreover, the only knights in the imperial palace were those of the Imperial Guard. Jade had already consolidated his authority in the imperial palace, and even the Imperial Guard Knights, who obeyed only the emperor, could no longer disobey his orders, but some of them still had absolute loyalty to Emperor Alexei. Not everything had gone Jade’s way.
“We have no choice. We must prevent the Emperor from being recaptured at all costs. Although it’s a little ahead of schedule, Klaus. The men you lead will see to that.”
After watching Klaus leave after bowing deeply, Jade looked out the window. The Simurgh he could see from the window was shrouded in the thick night darkness, and he could only make out a few shadows of buildings. However, in the darkness, there were definitely people moving around against Jade’s will. Of course, there was no way he could find them from where he was. But he kept looking at the sleeping streets of Simurgh, as if he could see through those people moving in the dark.
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