The road leading to the north gate. Cale looked around at his surroundings.
– Human! There are soldiers everywhere pretending not to be soldiers!
It was definitely a loud and lively marketplace in the capital. Raon could see people that he suspected to be soldiers and knights as his eyes shifted past the market road towards the north gate.
– Everyone’s expressions look good except for the disguised people! Their expressions don’t look good! They’re stiff!
‘That’s likely so.’
Cale fully understood the fearful hearts of the Empire’s army that was surveying the market while disguised throughout the capital.
The Empire’s capital.
That place was in the midst of a strange tranquility.
Cale looked at Choi Han, Mary, Tasha, and Eruhaben who were following him at a distance, but turned his attention to his side as a sudden thought arose.
The noisy market.
It was a vantage point where there weren’t any disguised soldiers yet.
It was a good place to talk comfortably.
He covertly asked a question.
“How did you hear the news about me?”
He caught Billos’s trembling eyes that were staring at him.
‘This damn crown prince!’
Cale wondered what Alberu Crossman possibly did to make Billos’s eyes tremble so much like that.
‘How the hell did he start the rumor?’
“About that… the news came from the North.”
‘Huh? …The North? Wait a second. He’s probably not referring to the northern part of the Empire.’
“…The North of the Western continent?”
“Yes, young master-nim.”
Billos nodded with a serious expression on his face.
“The news has been secretly spreading around the merchants from the North and now a good number of people know it. The news will probably spread amongst the people of the Empire soon.”
Cale’s expression grew more and more peculiar.
There was one guy who came to mind when he thought about the North.
That guy still hasn’t contacted him now that he thought about it.
“I wouldn’t have believed it if this rumor had started from the Empire or the Roan Kingdom.”
Billos shuddered as if just thinking about that time was terrible before he continued on.
“It was also rumored that the Northern Alliance that was defeated by the Roan Kingdom was preparing to attack again in response to Commander Cale Henituse’s absence, so I couldn’t help but be concerned.”
Cale’s expression grew more and more strange.
“Yes. I heard that you vomited blood and…”
Billos spoke with difficulty as if the news he heard about Cale was gruesome.
“…That you couldn’t steady yourself because of your shaking limbs.”
He looked toward Cale with concern.
“I heard that your current state was like the majority of the people in the past who possessed multiple ancient powers and had collisions occur inside their body which resulted in… um, I heard that there was a history of a lot of these types of people dying. That can’t all be possibly true, right?”
“Mhm, that’s true.”
Billos’s piggy bank-like face grew pale. Regardless, Cale didn’t have time to pay attention to Billos at that moment.
– Human! A message came from the crown prince!
It was because of Raon’s words.
Raon read the crown prince’s message in Cale’s mind.
– I’m busy. I’ll call you later.
‘…What? Aren’t I busy as well?’
Cale stopped walking at the next message which followed as soon as he started to frown.
– It became like this after I accepted Commander Clopeh’s suggestion. What a shame.
‘What? Whose suggestion did you listen to?’
“Young master-nim, a, are you by chance not feeling well right now?”
Billos approached a bit closer to Cale with a pale expression on his face.
However, Cale couldn’t hear his words.
Only Raon’s voice echoed incessantly in his mind.
– A message also came from the crazy Clopeh.
– I will leave Cale-nim’s name in history. I will make your path to become a legend into a great one.
‘…God damn it.’
“This crazy bastard-”
“Excuse me? I was just trying to help.”
Billos stiffened in fright. It was because Cale’s expression was that contorted.
The memory of the sixteen-year-old Cale of the past who was famous for being the trash of the Henituse territory and known to have thrown an empty wine bottle at a group of gangsters came to mind at that moment.
The current expression on Cale’s face looked as trashy as it had back then.
“Y, young master-nim?”
“…No, it’s nothing.”
Cale waved his hand and made a gesture that beckoned Billos to hurry up and keep going.
Billos wasn’t sure why Cale was behaving in such a way, but thought that he shouldn’t annoy Cale right now and thus quickly led the way. Cale followed him and started to think to himself.
‘What did this crazy bastard do?’
Ultimately, the truth was that the full account of the horrible news regarding Cale was created through the collaboration of crown prince Alberu and Guardian Knight Clopeh.
‘…It was a wise choice to spread the rumor starting from the North, but…’
It started from the three Northern kingdoms that were outwardly cooperating with the Roan Kingdom since they had no choice but to submit to them. Thus, it would be easy for third parties and their allies to believe it if the rumors regarding Cale’s life or death came from the North.
– Human! I think Clopeh has really lost it!
‘I know, right?’
– He said that he’s sending over the Holy Knights! We don’t have Holy Knights though, do we?
Cale recalled Clopeh and the Wyvern knights who had fought against the Empire during the battle of Maple Castle.
The corners of Cale’s mouth crookedly crept up. Clopeh was truly crazy in a smart way as expected.
It was at that moment.
A Cat meowed.
Cale turned his head after leaving the marketplace and arriving far from where the north gate could be seen.
It was one of the quiet residential areas that were not necessarily close to the gate nor the marketplace and the main street.
A figure crouching in the dark and narrow alley was gazing at Cale.
Cale grinned as he approached the Cat.
It was a Cat with short red fur.
A small pouch was tied to his back.
The Cat leapt into Cale’s arms once he opened them out.
“It’s been a while, Sir Rex.”
Rex was able to sneak around the Empire’s capital by taking the form of a Cat despite still being the wanted criminal who had attempted to murder the Vice Tower Master.
Sir Rex slowly tapped on Cale’s shoulder with his front paws a few times as if to greet Cale.
Cale took the pouch that was tied to the Cat-form Rex.
– Human! It’s a spatial pocket bag!
The spatial pocket bag undoubtedly contained the video storage devices prepared by Freesia.
Cale entered the dark alley where the Cat had been while holding the Cat and pouch in his arms.
Then he gave a signal with his eyes to his group who was farther away.
Mana then started to rise up from Eruhaben and Raon, instantly turning Cale and the group invisible.
* * *
“Is that it?”
Outside the north gate of the capital.
The invisibility spell on the man was lifted the moment his voice rang out from a particularly sturdy-looking tree that stood amongst a dense group of trees.
“Yes, that is it, young master-nim.”
Billos, who crossed over the castle walls thanks to Raon’s flight magic, was awkwardly nodding his head while holding onto the tree trunk as if it was his lifeline.
Cale ignored Billos, who was startled by the rapid flight movement, as he stared at one place.
It was the forest that could be seen when one left through the north gate.
There was a small open area inside the forest.
Beautiful and modest wild flowers filled that area because it was spring time.
Some hunters also happened to be getting some rest against the bottom of some trees. It was a peaceful sight no matter how one looked at it.
Cale heard Eruhaben’s voice as he remained hidden some distance away from the area.
“They’re not hunters. Those are knights.”
“That is correct.”
Choi Han also agreed.
“Their bodies are tense as if they’re alert for any intruders even though they look like they’re relaxing.”
The corners of Cale’s mouth crept up furtively.
He looked at Billos.
Billos turned his gaze away from the hunter he was looking at and hurriedly started to speak.
“That face, that face!”
He pointed at one of the five hunters.
“He was definitely the knight that was with the doctor.”
Billos whispered with an excited expression.
“I think this is where the secret passage is!”
The secret passage.
The face of the Cat, Sir Rex, who was on Cale’s shoulder quickly stiffened up after hearing those words.
He had escaped the Alchemists’ Bell Tower through the sewers. There was an unknown secret passage there.
That fact alone made the fur on Sir Rex’s body stand on edge.
‘I wonder what is there.’
What was going on inside the Alchemists’ Bell Tower that he was visiting for the first time in fifteen years?
‘My older sister and brother-’
Rex couldn’t handle thinking about it any longer.
“I can see it.”
Rex turned his head.
The beautiful man with white gold hair calmly continued to speak.
“The secret passage is covered with highest-grade illusion magic at least three times.”
– That’s right! Goldie gramps saw it correctly!
“There’s also alarm magic, in addition to the illusion magic. Someone set up the alarm magic in a way that would inform those in the Alchemists’ Bell Tower if someone tries to break the illusion magic.”
– Gramps is right about that too!
Cale quietly listened then bluntly asked a question.
“That doesn’t matter though, right?”
He heard the voices of two Dragons in his mind at that moment.
– I’m a Dragon.
– I am the great Raon Miru! Human, do you still not know that?!
Cale grinned and gently made a gesture to Sir Rex, who slowly leaped into Cale’s arms.
Cale stroke the Cat’s fur and started to speak.
“Then shall we try to go peacefully?”
Rex and Billos could see it.
A crooked smile was on Cale’s face.
“I don’t like anyone getting hurt, you know.”
The Cat and the plump merchant gulped.
“We’re in a state of emergency. You can’t let your guard down even for a moment.”
Next to the field of flowers.
The four hunters who were gathered under the largest tree trunk and were laying down, eating, or doing maintenance on their hunting bows looked at the speaking hunter and replied with expressions that showed little concern.
“I’ll strike their neck in one go if anyone comes-”
The hunter who was answering while lying under the tree’s shade flinched.
He shifted his gaze as he grabbed the sword that clearly belonged to an Empire knight but was covered and disguised in worn leather.
‘One? Two? No, three people.’
“Ooh, this place looks like a nice place for flower viewing- ah.”
The young man who had excitedly entered the area flinched and his eyes opened wide.
The young man that looked as if he was startled by the appearance of the hunters had brown hair and brown eyes.
The red Cat that was in his arms kept tilting its head left and right.
Behind him came a plump man carrying an unknown number of apple pies.
“…What is it?”
The last person, a man who looked a few years younger than the young man in front and had the same brown hair and brown eyes as him, entered the flower field as one of the hunters curtly threw a question.
The young man in the front scratched his brown-haired head and shifted his eyes here and there as if he was scared.
The five disguised knights stared at the three who had just entered the flower field as they continued to lie on the ground or sit down while pretending to be a group of hunters.
Only the knight captain stealthily stood up and curtly spoke.
“Children should get the fuck out of here. This is not some flower viewing place. It’s a rest area for hunters, so don’t bother us.”
The leaves fluttered from the spring breeze.
“Excuse me? Oh no, we don’t plan to bother you. We were just within the city and the weather was nice so-”
The hunter ignored the scrawny young man who tried to refute the hunter’s statement with a tearful expression while holding a Cat in his arms.
‘Are they even properly managing the gate? They let these frolicking bastards outside the city?
Well, they probably let these ordinary people out since they weren’t merchants nor high-ranking officials.’
The hunter shouted as he was full of annoyance.
“Shut up. Don’t test a hunter’s patience and fuck off, alright? This is not some place for you to watch the flowers.”
“Then can I watch a fight here?”
The hunter saw the young man’s expression change in an instant.
It occurred the moment he felt that.
As the leaves started to flutter…
White bones shot out from beneath the soil and grabbed the hunters’ ankles.
More bones shot out in an instant and blocked the hunters’ mouths.
A person appeared on top of the large tree that the hunters were leaning against.
She was hanging upside down on a tree branch as she grinned at them.
Four large wind arrows were knocked on a bow and pointing at the four hunters.
And the last person.
The man who had talked to Cale, the young man with the brown hair.
He was already knocked out.
Cale looked at the knocked out man and tapped the shoulder of the man with the same hair color as him.
“You really are fast.”
“It’s nothing, Cale-nim.”
Choi Han smiled gently.
The hunter that seemed to be the representative passed out after being struck once by Choi Han.
Cale approached the four hunters who were either lying or sitting down and crouched as he faced them.
He heard a GPS-like voice at that moment.
“There are a lot of corpses under this tree, so there were a lot of bones that could be used.”
Cale felt a surge of irritation at those words and proceeded to ask the hunters a question.
“You must have killed a lot of people to protect this place, right?”
Mary had controlled the bones that were under the tree as this place where the hunters were resting was the grave for the people they had killed.
Cale took his eyes off of the hunters who were trying to say something, and he stood up to give out an order.
“Knock them out and tie them up.”
Mary, Tasha, and Choi Han would take care of it.
Cale then looked to the other side and continued to speak.
“I leave it up to you, sir.”
He saw white gold dust covering the flower field.
The white gold dust scattered in all directions whenever Eruhaben flicked his hand.
Billos’s eyes widened as he was handing the apple pies back to Raon.
It was melting away.
The landscape that was touched by the white gold light was melting away.
The illusion magic spells were melting down one by one.
The alarm did not go off.
“I’ll maintain the alarm.”
The enemies would think that the secret passage is still safe since the alarm won’t ring.
“They’ve installed it quite deeply too.”
Eruhaben looked at the sight of the flower field melting away.
Three layers were removed.
Cale made eye contact with the gold Dragon the moment the three-layered scenery melted away.
“…It won’t be easy.”
The ancient Dragon spoke bluntly as he tried to determine the skill level of the Tower Master who could be a Lich.
However, he grinned and stepped back after seeing Cale smiling at him.
The white gold mana disappeared from the spot he stepped away from.
Tasha, Mary, and Choi Han gulped, but they couldn’t say anything as they saw the revealed landscape. Tasha was the first to open her mouth.
“There’s so much presence of death coming up.”
The flower field had disappeared while a large dark entrance appeared on the ground.
It was an entrance that led underground.
The entrance was pitch black.
“…I also smell something similar to the black despair.”
Tasha turned away from the dark underground that made her feel like she was facing something disgusting and looked toward Cale who was looking at Mary and Choi Han.
“I’m all right, Cale-nim.”
Choi Han replied as he grasped his scabbard and Mary followed up with her GPS-like voice.
“I am strong.”
Cale nodded his head.
“Then that’s fine.”
Cale looked around at the group once more.
Tasha, who would stay behind and watch the hunters and the entrance while waiting for the soon-to-arrive Vice Captain Hilsman, gave a slight bow and stepped back.
The Cat Knight Rex and the merchant Billos nodded at Cale’s gaze. They had come with the intention of following him.
– Of course I’m coming!
Cale looked at Eruhaben after hearing Raon’s response, and the ancient Dragon’s fingers started to move.
Everyone’s body slowly turned invisible.
Rex and Billos gulped as they looked toward the dark entrance heading down.
They heard Cale’s voice at that moment.
They heard the words that he was humming.
“Alrighty then, where are you hiding?”
They could see Cale’s face as he was turning invisible from the foot up.
He was smiling.
“You’ll die if I catch even a strand of your hair.”
The Cat and the merchant flinched.
They saw Cale’s eyes curling up in a smile as he turned fully invisible before they heard his voice again.
Cale’s joyful voice echoed in the area where only the unconscious hunters were visible.
“Oh where oh where are you hiding?”
Rex and Billos gulped.
It was because they were afraid of Cale’s eyes that had curled up as he smiled.