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Chapter 0247 Infiltrating the Royal Capital
As the activated and faintly glowing key was inserted into the keyhole, a clicking sound was heard and the door in front of them opened.
At the same time, several clicking sounds could be heard from the back of the passage, as if some unseen locks had also been opened.
“All right, let’s go.”
With these words from Master McGrath, leading the raiding party composed mostly of adventurers, they began to advance through the elven underground passage.
With Master McGrath in overall command, the elite adventurers entered the royal capital through the underground passage to open the gates.
However, since the Empire also conquered the gates by pretending to be a garrison last time, they’d received intel that a considerable force had been sent to defend each gate so as not to repeat the same mistake.
Hence, the elite squad of adventurers.
They planned to carry out this attack in coordination with the rebels in the royal capital.
The royal capital has huge gates in the east, west, south, and north, but there are also several smaller gates.
This time, since the southern army was moving north from the south, the largest defense force was allocated to the southern gate…then next is the northern gate, which is closer to the royal castle.
Therefore, the raiding force will aim for the west gate, avoiding the north and south.
The exit of the elven underground passage into the royal capital was, obviously, the Autonomous Region.
Their choice to target the west gate was because the Autonomous Region is located in the northwestern part of the royal capital, and therefore the west gate is not too far away.
With the royal capital under martial law, a good number of adventurers moving about at night would surely draw attention.
It’s only natural that they’d want the trip from the Autonomous Region to be as short as possible.
In addition to the raiding party led by Master McGrath, others were given a different mission.
The team, led by Dontan, former company commander of the Royal Knights and now second in command to Marquis Heinlein, was assigned to infiltrate the royal castle.
Their objective was to secure Abel’s father, King Stafford IV.
Abel had already received intel concerning his capture during the fall of the royal capital and that the Imperial Army had tried to use him to open the ‘Hall of Heroes’.
Along with intel stating they failed.
However, the intel didn’t contain what happened to him after that.
Worst case scenario, he may be dead, but he is one of the most effective hostages to use…along with other royalty.
The difference with the other royal members is that, if a decree were to be proclaimed as an ‘Edict of Stafford IV’, things would get tricky.
Abel was indeed enthroned as king, but it wasn’t done by King Stafford IV ceding the throne to him.
Nor does he possess the three sacred treasures.
Looking from another angle, the situation could be called usurpation.
If King Stafford IV were to issue a decree against King Abel, saying that ‘he would not recognize his accession to the throne’…there would be all kinds of trouble.
King Abel, King Raymond, and King Stafford IV…three kings opposing one another…the very authority of the king would collapse.
To prevent such a ridiculous situation, it was necessary to take King Stafford IV into custody.
The infiltration team also included Ryo, who would have no other task once the underground passage was opened.
That was also Abel’s wish.
“Oh, so it’s Zack and Scotty. Guess that makes you guys our guides, huh?”
“Huh? Captain Dontan?”
The raiding party and the infiltration team rendezvous with the rebels in the royal capital outside the Autonomous Region after passing through the elven underground passage.
Dontan, the leader of the infiltration team, was surprised to see the faces of the ‘rebels’ who would be infiltrating the royal castle with them.
They were familiar faces, Zack and Scotty, members of the Royal Knights, who he had fought alongside during the mission where they escorted the delegation to Twilight Land.
Zack and Scotty were surprised to see that the leader of the seemingly reckless infiltration team into the royal castle was Dontan, who was their captain at that time.
They were even more surprised when they saw the last person that was included in the infiltration team.
“You are…the water-attribute magician from back then.”
“I believe his name is, Ryo.”
Zack sounded surprised and jealous, and Scotty said the name he remembered.
“Ryo was personally appointed by His Majesty Abel.”
Dontan explained briefly to the astonished pair.
Ryo wasn’t quite sure why they were surprised, but bowed his head anyway.
That is the art of getting along, a life skill of a former Japanese citizen.
The raiding party was joined by the rebels, ‘Morning Star’ and ‘Valkyries’.
“Well, Sir Dontan, see you later.”
“Good luck, Master McGrath.”
The captains of the raiding and infiltration teams shook hands firmly, and the two teams parted ways.
Thirty minutes later…Ryo was wandering alone in the castle for some reason.
(I’ve lost sight of them…)
According to Ryo’s memory, they were supposed to have split up into a group of three to search, with him moving in between Zack and Scotty.
“I’m pretty sure we were together, with me in the middle, so…where the heck did they run off to all of a sudden…?”
Ryo tried to recall, but nothing came to mind.
“Wait a minute, could it be the work of some alchemy contraption that distorts space-time!?”
“Or, perhaps some dark-attribute magic that interferes with one’s memories!?”
For reasons unknown, Ryo was alone and wandering around the royal castle.
Every once in a while, he would meet soldiers, who he would entrap in ice in an <Ice Coffin> and place at the end of the corridor as he moved about.
He thought that if he did this, their infiltration would be discovered, but he couldn’t think of a better way, so he just went along with it.
They would be discovered sooner or later anyway, so it doesn’t matter … which was what he thought….
After wandering around for a while, Ryo stepped into a corner of the castle that was much quieter than the previous areas.
“I couldn’t have…chanced upon the place where the former king is locked up or something, right…”
The go-to place to put a captive king is the dungeon or the top floor of a tower.
No way he would be locked up in a place with such a solemn atmosphere, that could easily be taken for a nobles’ abode….
He thought, but as he was about to leave….
Strangely enough, there seemed to be a magician, and he noticed Ryo.
The magician must have been of the wind attribute, and as he began to chant, Ryo froze him.
In addition, the two guards at the door where the magician was were also frozen.
So far, Ryo had yet to come across guards standing in front of a door in any of the places he had wandered past.
That door was the first.
He knew right then that it was going to spell trouble.
He knew that he shouldn’t open that door and go inside.
But… damn his curiosity….
And as the famous saying goes, curiosity kills the cat.
Pretty sure Schrödinger would agree.
He opened the door without saying anything, thinking why bother to knock now.
But somehow, as he entered the room, he ended up saying.
Being polite is a virtue…on a normal day.
Two pairs of gazes gathered on Ryo.
There were two men inside.
One of them must be over sixty years old. His gray hair was neatly trimmed and he was sitting quietly on one of the couches.
The other was in his mid-forties. His brown hair was carefully coiffed, but his whole body, not just his face, was overflowing with a sense of fatigue or weariness.
Ryo was impressed by the luxurious clothes and jewelry he was wearing.
“Have you come to kill me?”
The man in his forties opened his mouth and said so.
Ryo then recalled. He was the man who met and spoke with Abel before the Battle of Gold Hill.
The man in front of him was Abel’s uncle, Raymond.
The one who proclaimed himself king.
“Killing you wasn’t in the plan though.”
Ryo answered honestly.
“It’s fine. It’d probably do the Kingdom good to die here.”
Just as Raymond said that, a loud explosion came from the outside.
The man in his sixties stood up, looked out the window, and said.
“There’s smoke rising from the west gate. It must have been breached.”
He simply straightforwardly stated the facts, with no hint of regret or bitterness.
“So be it.”
(Are you Nobunaga!?)
Ryo involuntarily quipped at Raymond’s words in his mind.
To Ryo, ‘so be it’ and ‘very well’ were ‘Nobunaga’s expressions’ used by Oda Nobunaga.
Raymond’s next words immediately brought Ryo’s mind back to the present.
“Now Assassin, you may have the credit for taking my head.”
“I don’t really want to though…”
Ryo answered Raymond’s words honestly.
Ryo infiltrated the royal castle not to kill Raymond, but to secure the custody of Stafford IV.
“I see. Then that leaves me with the potion.”
“It is customary for a man of noble blood to commit suicide without shedding his blood.”
The man in his sixties, whose name Ryo doesn’t know, Parker turned to Ryo and told him so.
Ryo nodded, because he remembered coming across such stories in Earth’s history.
But then he decided to ask him directly.
“Before that, may I ask you just one thing.”
“Sure, I’ll listen to your request. What is it?”
Raymond nodded his head in a maganimous manner and let him continue.
“Could you tell me where His Majesty King Stafford IV, the former king, is?”
When Ryo said that, both Raymond and Parker seemed a little surprised.
“Wait, you thought my brother was here?”
Stafford IV was Raymond’s older brother.
“My brother is not here in the royal castle. He is in extremely poor health and is being attended to by the priests in the central temple. However, it seems that even <Cure> couldn’t make him better…”
Raymond’s face was distinctly sad.
There certainly may have been a feud between the two brothers, but they may not have proactively hated each other.
“The central temple…”
Ryo was at a loss for words.
If that was true, then Dontan and the rest of the infiltration team were wasting their time.
He wanted to inform them immediately…but the man presumed to be king was about to commit suicide right in front of him…it would be a bad idea to just leave like that.
Raymond tilted a small crystal bottle he had retrieved out of nowhere and poured a tiny red liquid into the wine in his hand.
Then he uttered a single statement.
“Parker, I forbid you to follow me into death.”
Parker was dismayed.
“Got it? This is one order that you must abide by.”
“That’s just not…”
Parker did not nod at Raymond’s order.
“With all due respect King Raymond, if you would permit me to offer a suggestion.”
“Granted. Let me hear it.”
Ryo suddenly offered a proposal, and Raymond nodded, urging him on.
“How about passing on something that represents King Raymond to Sir Parker…a keepsake, and entrust him with the task of delivering it to King Abel…”
“Oh, I see. By entrusting him with such a task, Parker won’t have to die.”
At Ryo’s suggestion, Raymond nodded in satisfaction, and Parker exclaimed.
Raymond handed Parker the necklace he had been wearing around his neck.
“Parker, I’m entrusting you to give this to Albert. Okay?”
“…Understood, Your Majesty.”
Parker got down on one knee and received the necklace.
Raymond sipped the poisoned wine in his hand for a moment, then muttered quietly.
“Glory to the Kingdom of Knightley.”
Then he downed the wine.