A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special - Chapter 236: A Subsurface War (13)
“Zod, we need magical equipment to distinguish our allies from our enemies.”
This was the Magic Tower, a place whose sole purpose was the design and sale of all kinds of magic equipment. Naturally, there was plenty of equipment available that had been designed for combat.
“Pierrot Mask will start moving in earnest. To be honest, I am most concerned about him. We don’t know exactly what he’s capable of.”
Skull Mask was also a strong opponent, but his ability had been understood to some extent. But they knew next to nothing about Pierrot Mask. All they knew was that he had the ability to morph his face into whoever he wanted to. The ability went beyond that though; when he had copied Swan in front of Desir, Pierrot Mask took on all the minute mannerisms, making him nearly indistinguishable from the real Swan. This ability was far from simple, and likely had even more to it.
“While we were in the tower, the King of Divide was also in the Royal Palace. I’m sure he has more than just a simple face-changing ability.”
Desir continued, in a more assertive tone.
“One of his abilities is to disguise himself as someone else at will.”
“Okay, I’ll do my best.”
“And you can use this, if necessary.”
“Desir? This is… ”
Desir had handed a ring to Zod.
It was the S-Tier artifact, ‘Memorize’, that Crow Mask used.
It would surely be a considerable boost to their fighting power in the hands of Zod.
“Time is of the essence. I need everything prepared in thirty minutes.”
“… I see.”
Zod left the room in a hurry.
“Priscilla, please contact the aides of each king. Their protection comes first. In order to make the journey to the teleportation gate easier, it is necessary for the troops to unite as one.”
“It’s not hard to tell them what to do. But I don’t know if they will believe me… ”
“This tablet has proof of their chimera creation. It should be plenty, at least for now.”
The data pad contained all the information that the Side Guard and Desir had obtained from their raid on the tower. From the photos and evidence gathered, it was undeniable that the Kingdom of Divide had, at the very minimum, been studying chimera creation at a national level. Chimera research was a taboo topic of research across the continent, so this alone should be enough to get all of the kings on side.
“I don’t think every country will agree with us even after presenting this evidence, but if we can clearly see the Outsiders making a move, they’ll believe us later.”
This couldn’t be helped. There was no other way to approach this situation, not when urgency was the priority.
“I’ll try my best. I’m going to command the Knights I brought to stand by.”
With all instructions delivered, just as Priscilla was about to leave…
“What happened to Lady Swan, Priscilla?”
This was what he had wanted to ask the most, but the situation was too tense, and he couldn’t find the time to ask.
He had originally made his move to save her.
Pram escaped with her, so she must have arrived already and been treated by the Saint.
Priscilla’s expression was not very good.
Adjest’s gaze, which had been fixed on a point on the ground, also turned to Priscilla.
“… How is she?”
“I’ve treated all of the physical trauma, but the shock has severely damaged her internal organs. Her life remains in critical condition, and she will never use aura again.”
He felt his heart tear in two.
All color drained from Adjest’s face.
* * *
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It was now late afternoon, just before dusk.
“I can’t believe that they have the gall to do that in Divide.”
There was a group of people rushing out of the Embassy of Prillecha.
“When I think back on it, the King had glared at me intensely when I spoke up against him. I didn’t like the kind of look that he gave, almost as if he were looking down on me.”
King of Prillecha, Gried. The chubby man waddled out of the embassy and walked down the hall.
There was a herd of people moving alongside him. They were Prillecha’s elite escort troop. The majority of their number, excluding the few that came from Prillecha’s Knights, wore different types and colors of armour. They looked nothing like a regular army.
This was because they were mercenaries hired through the mercenary guild. Due to the poor quality of his own troops, Prillecha used his wealth to hire the best mercenaries he could find. Everyone present had a rank above A Class, a ranking system unique to the mercenary guild, and every one of them had made a name for themselves in the world of mercenaries. To say this was a unit of elites was probably an understatement.
“Your Majesty, I think it’s too early to simply believe such information.”
The man with a thick beard following King Prillecha was known as the mercenary king.
He was a Bishop Class man, boasting superior ability beyond anything money could normally buy.
He looked around anxiously.
The streets of the City of Dragons were empty.
Up until a few hours ago, these streets in downtown Pittsburgh were crowded with people. The reason for this was because all of the citizens were evacuated shortly after the news of the attacks spread. He could see fear in the citizen’s eyes as King Prillecha’s party passed through.
He continued speaking.
“I hate to badmouth the young man, Desir, but quite frankly, we can’t rule out the possibility that the evidence has been forged. And if you don’t adhere to Divide’s instructions and insist on moving your troops without permission, you may be suspected of siding with the terrorists.”
This was an issue of great concern. He meant every word he spoke. As mercenaries, the duty of escorting the king of their country was a heavy duty. Even for someone as renowned as the mercenary king, he had to act with his entire mercenary career on the line.
For him, it was clear that they should avoid all reckless action, letting others take up any risk. He couldn’t think of a worse situation than being treated as terrorists by the Kingdom of Divide, and having to face off against their forces.
“Your words are right, but there is very little benefit for Desir to spread such falsehoods.”
The King of Prillecha, who analyzed Des1r’s words with his honed sense as a merchant, concluded such.
“It is natural that I believe what he says, since the Holy Saint has also given him her favor. And above all, I have decided to unconditionally trust the young man after he protected my kingdom’s capital.”
“However, he said he was attending the conference as a representation of the Western Kingdom Union, meanwhile it turns out he was actually digging for information about Divide from the shadows. He’s already proven himself dishonest, so how could you… ”
“Maybe he knew there was an Outsider working within Divide before coming?”
As the group passed through a particularly darkened part of the street, due to the shadows cast by the building, three mercenaries fell. They had been standing in the middle of the pack and they fell without warning, their blood pooling in the grouting between the tiles.
There was a subsequent explosion.
A trap had been triggered.
Shortly after the explosion, assassins appeared, but not before all of the mercenaries had already moved into formation.
As competent mercenaries, their reaction time was superb. They were able to adapt to changes very fast. Putting themselves between the attackers and that which they had been employed to protect, the mercenaries formed a tight defense. The magicians that were positioned inside the defensive formation were already calculating and launching spells at the assassins.
The number of assassins was more than thirty.
The fundamentals of an assassination was to finish the opponent before they even had a chance to notice. As soon as their presence was revealed, there was no longer a chance for an assassin to win in a straight confrontation. This was the prevailing commonsense.
However, these assassins refused to back down.
After a short skirmish, the assassins in the left flank of the group broke through the formation. They were at a very high level in martial arts in comparison to your standard assassin. The mercenaries, who had loosened their formation while dealing with the assassins, ended up letting several through.
After breaking through the formation, they ran and fired at King Gried.
“They’re aiming for the king!”
The mercenary captain cried out in urgency. But here and there, the response of the mercenaries was slowed little by little.
“Oh, my… !”
“Why are you here!”
“Don’t stand in the way of my spell!”
It was a very small gap in terms of coordination, but it proved fatal.
The assassins seeking the King again broke through the mercenaries’ defenses. Explosive magic was used to slaughter the approaching mercenaries, as well as aura infused wires.
The magicians died first, before even getting a chance to fire off another volley of spells.
The captain of the mercenaries pulled out his sword. A sword filled with aura cut down one of the assassins. But his blade could only reach so far. He could not stop everyone.
As the assassins fired another volley of daggers at Gried, they suddenly came to a stop. The change happened so quickly that not even Gried could react. He just continued to stand there, his mind blurred by the flurry of thoughts rushing about in his head.
Scary sounds rang out everywhere. Soon after, the assassins who had raised their weapons towards Gried fell in unison.
There was a fist-sized hole in each of their chests.
A moment later, Gried responded. He fell back screaming. Wiping the blood from his face, he eventually got back onto his feet. Still, his body was trembling nonstop..
Moments later, magic spell after magic spell was shot. Each spell took down one of the assassins besieging the mercenaries. It was pin-point accurate magic that was not only powerful, but had an extremely small area of effect.
The magic was so precise that it pierced each and every figure of the assassins moving at high speed. The remaining mercenary magicians could not hide their admiration at this application of magic.
“What the hell is going… ”
Gried was interrupted as he muttered to himself.
“I’m glad I’m not too late.”
Someone walked off of the roof.
“Zod Exarion? How did you come from there… well, thank you very much anyway.”
Zod grabbed Gried’s shoulders, who was still in a state of shock and spouting gibberish.
“Wait a moment, I have one thing to check.”
As he said it, he dropped his cane before him. An unknown light flashed past him.
“You’re King Gried.”
“Yes, I am… But what’s the matter?”
“Nothing, Your Majesty.”
Zod’s face soon brightened and he continued speaking.
“He said he thought you were the first one the Outsiders would target. Your troop is made up of talented mercenaries, but they’ve never fought together before. This would make it all too easy for any enemy to exploit.”
Shortly after Zod finished speaking, he glanced at the mercenary captain.
The mercenary captain bowed his head. There was nothing he could say, even if he had ten mouths.
“How wise. Who said that?”
“Who do you think it would be?”
Satisfied that the mercenary had guessed correctly, Zod Exarion turned his head.
“I’ll escort you. We have a meeting place.”
“I’m relieved. So how many kings have gathered so far?”
“You’re the only one right now.”
From somewhere in the distance, a heavy noise emmenated, carried far and wide by the wind.
“But the others will soon join you.”