Cale, who entered into Renche, the Molden Kingdom’s capital, folded the map in his hand and handed it to Jopis.
It was one of the two maps he had received from her.
Cale frowned a bit as he started to speak.
“It looks like we won’t be able to infiltrate from above ground.”
“It does seem that way.”
Jopis also had a frown that would not go away.
Cale turned his head toward the low voice to see Choi Han heading toward where he was hiding.
“I checked it and the last entrance is blocked as well.”
“…Looks like things got much more complicated.”
The robed Tasha sighed.
A similarly robed Jopis bit down on her lips and focused on the map Cale handed her with a piercing gaze.
“In that case, we can say that there is no way to secretly infiltrate the Molden Palace from above ground.”
Her gaze could not move away from the small red dots on the map.
“Even the secret entrance I dug and the secret entrance that has been maintained for generations as an escape route for the royal family are blocked.”
“Elisneh must have blocked all entrances.”
“…That uselessly meticulous bitch.”
Cale pretended not to hear Jopis’s coarse words. He then looked around at the others. They all had serious expressions on their faces.
Cale looked around a bit more before starting to speak.
“Let’s wait a bit since the underground waterways are still an option.”
They still might be able to use the underground waterways to infiltrate the palace. Tasha nodded her head in agreement.
“That’s right. It is difficult to change the waterways without a major construction project. Water has to end up in the river, so the end of the waterway should still exist.”
There were Dark Elf warriors currently investigating the end of the underground waterway connected to the palace as well as multiple other potential entrances throughout the capital.
“We should be able to get in through the underground waterways even if it is more difficult than going from above ground.”
Tasha made it sound like it wouldn’t be a big deal. However, Jopis did not look relieved.
“…No. It will be difficult to use the underground waterways.”
Jopis shook her head to disagree with Tasha.
“Elisneh. That bitch is probably guarding the underground waterways since she even blocked the royal family’s escape route.”
Another person covered in a robe approached them at that moment.
It was one of the Dark Elves who had gone to find an entrance into the underground waterways.
His voice sounded grim.
He immediately continued to speak to Cale and Tasha.
“All entrances to the underground waterways on the roads throughout Renche are blocked.”
Tasha asked in shock.
“Wait, then how do they go down to inspect the underground waterways?”
“All other entrances are fine except the ones connected to the palace.”
Jopis calmly started to speak as Tasha stood there in disbelief.
“They probably decided they didn’t need any entrances outside the palace because all inspections could start from the palace.”
Tasha’s expression stiffened.
She realized that Elisneh the First had thoroughly blocked all paths heading into the palace.
“In that case, the end of the underground waterway will not be normal either.”
The end of the underground waterways where the water used from the palace flowed out…
That spot connected to the river.
Another Dark Elf returned after completing his investigation. Cale and the others had been waiting for his report. It was because he was the one who had gone to check the end of the waterway.
“There are knights guarding the end of the waterway.”
Choi Han quietly mumbled as the Dark Elf continued his report.
“The knights look like they have some type of signal flare.”
They would probably use the flares to inform the palace that enemies were trying to infiltrate the underground waterways.
Everybody looked toward Cale who then started to speak.
“We will take the knights down and go in through there.”
* * *
At the river flowing southeast starting from the northern part of Renche…
There was water flowing out of the waterway located at the end of that river.
“Haaaaa. The smell is terrible even when it’s cold.”
One of the four knights guarding the waterway pinched his nose and shook his head.
“At least shit doesn’t flow out of here.”
“That is true.”
There were three waterways that started from the palace and ended at the river, with the water flowing out of this waterway coming from the kitchen, palace garden, or the knights training ground.
“What nonsense. What kind of knight has to stand guard at a place like this? Don’t you agree-, huh?”
One of the other knights who was also pinching his nose and grumbling opened his eyes wide after suddenly seeing something black appear.
In that short moment…
He gasped after feeling something hit the back of his neck and plopped down on the ground.
All four knights quickly fainted.
Cale then landed where they had been standing. The Dark Elves smiled as if they were embarrassed by what Cale had said.
“We are known for being quick.”
The Dark Elves who were embarrassed but still confidently showed off about their abilities took out three flares from one of the knights’ pockets.
It looked like a magic device that worked similar to a firework and looked quite strong.
“We will hold onto these.”
Another Dark Elf moved to stand next to the one who put the flares in his pocket as they had planned.
The large group of people other than those two Dark Elves looked at the end of the underground waterway.
There were metal bars all around the large waterway as water flowed out. There were dry parts inside the waterway that they could use to walk because it was so wide.
Tasha looked toward the bars blocking the path and started to speak.
“We need to dest-”
She heard the sound of a sword and then could not finish her sentence.
Choi Han calmly returned the sword he had used back into the scabbard.
He then pushed the bars with his hand.
The bars that were cut cleanly fell to the ground. Cale slowly gave Choi Han a thumbs-up before motioning to Jopis.
“Shall we go?”
Fluffy was the first to enter followed by everyone else.
“Here you go.”
“What about the map-?”
“I don’t need it.”
Jopis handed Cale the map and walked into the waterway without any hesitation.
“It looks like the waterways have not been changed. In that case, there is no need to hesitate. Please follow me.”
Fluffy and Jopis quickly started to move. Cale followed behind them.
He then sighed after walking for a bit.
“…This is damn hard.”
– Human, are you okay? It must be hard walking while crouching like that!
As Raon mentioned, it was difficult for Cale to crouch as he walked.
Jopis who was in front of him started to speak as if trying to console him.
“It’s because the Molden Palace is above our heads right now.”
“We’ve made it in?”
Jopis nodded her head at Choi Han’s question.
“That’s right. We were within the palace boundaries starting from that fork in the road when the path became much narrower.”
They had walked down the large waterway for a while until there were many different paths and the waterway became very narrow.
This was because they were all paths connected to different areas of the palace.
“This area is narrow, but at least there is no water on the ground.”
Tasha and Choi Han continued to walk while crouching in this dry underground waterway as they commented.
Jopis touched the top of the narrow waterway as she started to speak.
“There used to be a large flower garden at the center of the palace when the Molden Kingdom was first created.”
Choi Han, Tasha, and the others all looked toward her at this unexpected story.
“Even with the dirt absorbing the water, they needed a waterway for the large garden.”
“Is that waterway the one we are walking through right now?”
Jopis nodded her head at Cale’s question.
“Yes, it is this one. But as you can see, there is no water here now.”
“His highness, the king at that time got rid of the flower garden tens of years ago.”
The Molden Palace’s Central Flower Garden that had been beautiful in different ways all year round was gone.
“Instead, he put some expensive marble down in the area and created a large statue at the center. It is a statue of the first king.”
“I guess that is meaningful in its own way.”
Jopis stopped walking and looked back after hearing Tasha’s comment.
She had an elegant smile on her face.
“Of course. It is very meaningful. That statue is one of the two entrances into the maze.”
Choi Han held back from making that noise.
“There used to be a large maze underneath the central flower garden. That maze is as wide as the entire Molden palace.”
“The maze is as wide as the palace?”
Jopis answered Tasha’s question as Fluffy walked over to Cale.
Cale, who was looking at Fluffy who had her tongue out and was shaking her tail at him, looked up at Jopis and started to speak.
“I think we’re here.”
“…You realized it right away as I expected.”
Cale shrugged his shoulders and shook the map in his hand.
There was a large red dot on the spot Cale expected they were standing right now.
That was their destination.
Jopis turned her whole body around and looked at the others. The normally dark waterway was not dark because of the Fire Elementals contracted to some of the Dark Elves.
“This place is one of the passages I tried to use in the past to run away from Elisneh.”
“Where is this place?”
Cale started to speak to respond to Tasha’s question.
“I think it is the former central flower garden and the current central plaza.”
“…Do they use the term, ‘plaza,’ inside the palace?”
“It’s probably because it is so wide.”
Cale looked toward Jopis to see if he was right. Jopis smiled elegantly and started to speak.
“That’s right. And the statue is at the center of that large area.”
The large plaza in the shape of a square inside the palace.
“North, South, East, and West. Each direction has meeting areas for the king’s chief executives. There are mini palaces for administration, military, and law.”
Three of the directions had mini palaces for different executives with the fourth direction having the palace where they met with the king.
“Amazing. Who would think to put the entrance into the maze at the center of such a location?”
Jopis answered Tasha’s question as if it wasn’t much.
“It is because it is empty when there are no meetings.”
Tasha quietly gasped and Jopis reached her hand toward the ceiling.
“Since it is a meeting area only for the highest of administrators, people cannot enter this plaza as they please. The king personally kept this area secure as it is an important area.”
Small noise filled the area.
Jopis’s hand started to move faster but her voice was still elegant and calm.
“They could keep it well-guarded during the day because this was where important figures in the kingdom have their meetings. It was easy for the royal family to sneak around here at night because the buildings were empty after the meetings.”
“There were probably no concerns about the secret getting out because the people guarding the place were the king’s most loyal subjects.”
Jopis nodded her head at Choi Han’s statement.
Since the king personally handled the area, he made sure to put experts as guards.
“That is why knights stood guard around these four empty palaces at night and the royal family members stealthily came and went. The palace where the administrators actually do work always has a light on because someone is working, but it is at the complete opposite direction of the meeting palaces.”
Cale started to speak at that moment.
“That is why we came in the morning.”