The ones with the most complicated expressions on their faces were Eruhaben and Clopeh. Eruhaben was pushing his temples as he spoke.
“So, the bastard who stole your dongsaeng’s face and name is trying to cause chaos on the Western continent?”
– That’s right.
“Numerous life forms may die in the process?”
– That’s correct.
Eruhaben debated who he should trust. He looked at the Dark Tiger again.
‘This guy seems a bit more trustworthy.’
The black Dragon showed no signs of being brainwashed when he had inspected him inside the lair. Although the brainwashing could have been done with a superior ability that was beyond his level, but…
Their so-called allies, Choi Han the swordsman, Rosalyn the mage, and that one knight… They were strong for humans but they were unskilled and had many lacking traits compared to Eruhaben.
‘That little punk named Choi Han is an exception though.’
Either way, he could not easily trust anybody. The White Star who had introduced himself as Cale and this black tiger… Which side should he choose?
– There’s no need to choose one side.
Eruhaben looked toward the black tiger again after hearing a comment that sounded as if he knew what Eruhaben was thinking.
– You won’t find an answer no matter how long you contemplate it. Don’t you agree?
“…That is true.”
– Follow us to keep an eye on us. You’ll be able to tell which side is telling the truth if you keep observing us.
Eruhaben’s finger that had been pushing at his temple gently tapped the table.
He had his answer.
“Fine. I will keep an eye on you guys for the time being.”
Eruhaben’s eyes observed each person who came to find him.
“How dare he steal the hero’s face and try to take the esteemed hero’s achievements as his own……!”
Eruhaben flinched a bit while looking at Clopeh before looking at an empty chair.
Cale was sitting there. Cale motioned to Alberu with his eyes.
“Let’s go, your highness.”
Alberu nodded his head as he responded.
– Let’s go to the palace.
* * *
“Invisibility and soundproof barrier magic. Are those the only two that are needed?”
Eruhaben was looking at the cintamani in his hand while not looking convinced. He let out a short sigh and cast his spells.
The invisibility and soundproof barrier magic were targeted at two individuals.
Eruhaben and the cintamani.
“…Does your dongsaeng not need it?”
– As you are already aware, you cannot see or hear him.
“That is true.”
Eruhaben then spoke in a slightly annoyed voice.
“Then I have to do everything myself?”
– That’s right.
Eruhaben was currently in a forest at the outskirts of the Roan Kingdom’s capital, Huiss City.
To be more specific, they were in a small cave within the forest. There were all sorts of mechanical and magical devices installed in this cave.
– This is the secret passage. It is the secret passage that would take you directly to the crown prince’s palace.
“The crown prince should know about this as well if it is the secret passage to his palace?”
– I’m not sure. I don’t think he knows about it yet.
Alberu had to stop himself from having a bitter smile on his face.
Alberu had only known about the secret passages revealed to all members of the royal family at this point in time. It was because Zed Crossman had not told him about this passage.
The Alberu of this time had no idea that such a passage existed. He only learned about this passage after properly receiving approval as the crown prince, gaining power, and receiving a lot of things from Zed Crossman as a result.
‘So the me of this time would not know.’
Alberu’s face stiffened a bit. He heard a nonchalant voice at that moment.
“Shouldn’t we hurry? It’ll be daytime if we don’t.”
It was naturally Cale. Alberu let out a chuckle.
– Let’s hurry.
It was still night outside.
“…How did I end up with such an unlucky life……?”
Eruhaben wondered if he needed to sneak into the royal palace at his age, but ended up gently waving his hand. Alberu watched him before speaking again.
– Just so you are aware, this secret passage was built in the early days, so you will probably need to be extremely cau-
The door to the secret passage opened as naturally as if the wind had pushed it open.
Gold dust was leisurely controlling everything.
Cale, who was watching, and Eruhaben, who had cast the spell, spoke one after the other.
“Wow. This secret passage isn’t much, your highness.”
“I am a Dragon.”
Alberu had a lot of things he wanted to say but held himself back and pointed inside the open door.
– Just go straight.
He then started to smile.
– You’ll need to walk for about an hour. There are a lot of twists in the path.
The passage inside the door was narrow to the point that they could only go in a single file line. This was to decrease the number of enemies chasing after the crown prince should he ever have to escape.
Eruhaben nodded his head before raising his hand.
“Since magic works on your dongsaeng as well…”
Cale could see wind gathering at the tips of his feet. It was an acceleration spell. Eruhaben spoke in an extremely annoyed voice.
“We’ll get there quickly if there are no obstacles.”
Cale nonchalantly commented while looking at the ceiling of the cave.
“Dragons truly are the best.”
The Dark Tiger let out a deep sigh. Eruhaben took the lead without caring and Cale followed behind him. They traversed through the secret passage comfortably and quickly.
They arrived at the end of the passage in less than twenty minutes.
The exit to the passage was on the ceiling. Eruhaben canceled the acceleration spell and looked up at the ceiling as he opened his mouth.
“Where is this?”
– The crown prince’s office.
“Would the crown prince be here at this time?”
– No. He should be at the training ground right now. He stays there for about two hours.
“Are you sure about that? He might be staying late in his office.”
– …That bastard’s goal is survival.
Alberu sighed before continuing in a low voice.
– Training his body. That is something he does not skip no matter how busy he is.
“He goes to the training ground at such a late hour?”
– I’m sure he has his reasons.
Alberu stopped talking after saying that.
Alberu was known for handling the sword pretty well at this time, but his true abilities were even greater. His main weapon was a spear and he was also skilled in magic as well.
That was why he chose the late night, a time when the palace would be quieter, to train himself in secret. Naturally, everybody other than his closest confidants thought that he was sleeping right now.
– Anyway, he’s the type to not stop his training once he starts so you can use the office comfortably.
Alberu was not alone in the training ground. The hidden Dark Elves took turns being Alberu’s sparring partner.
“And the chances of us getting caught while moving around the office?”
– Other than this secret passage, every external passage that the crown prince knows about has magic alarm devices and traps. It’ll be fine as long as you don’t touch those things.
“Then that’s a relief.”
– Furthermore, this office only has things that don’t matter if they are found or things that cannot be figured out even if they are found.
‘Cannot be figured out even if they are found?’
Eruhaben questioned what that meant but did not ask about it.
‘I just need to see it for myself.’
He waved his hand in the air.
The passage door opened without making a sound.
“I’ll go up first, so tell your dongsaeng to follow me.”
Eruhaben jumped up through the door.
He looked around to see that the office was too clean. The ancient Dragon thought that the crown prince must be a thorough person as he started walking toward the desk in the office.
The black tiger sighed and quietly said something at that moment.
– Umm, it would be great if you could use flight magic on my dongsaeng.
– …That fool lacks physical abilities and cannot jump to reach the path in the ceiling.
‘Don’t members of the Divine race have good physical abilities?’
Eruhaben questioned it for a moment but used his mana without saying anything to cast flight magic on the spot where there was a warp in mana.
Something, with the help of flight magic, shot up and landed on the office floor once Eruhaben released the spell.
“Then I will look around the desk.”
– No. There’s no need to do that.
The tiger inside the cintamani pointed at the desk.
– Something will pop up if you modify the bookshelf over there as I tell you.
Eruhaben moved as the tiger punk said for now.
He moved his hand as the Dark Tiger ordered him.
– …The third book from there. Then you will find a faint scratch on the pillar on the right bookshelf. Push that. After that…
There were some more explanations and Eruhaben completed every step flawlessly.
– It will open now.
Once Alberu said that…
There was a quiet noise and the bookshelf started moving on its own.
Eruhaben gasped while looking at the wall behind the bookshelf.
The wall was covered in text.
“Mm. It’s a code.”
However, he frowned after realizing that it was written in code that could not be deciphered.
‘It’ll take a while to decipher this.’
It would take more than a day or two.
‘That crown prince bastard is thorough, but maybe too thorough. Most people would not do this much. Does he not have anybody he can trust around him?’
“…Is he that desperate right now?”
As Eruhaben flinched after subconsciously saying that…
– It’s possible.
He heard a calm voice. It was the Dark Tiger. The tiger was staring at the wall with a piercing gaze with a faint smile on his face.
‘I was quite desperate at this time.’
He then turned away from the wall.
Eruhaben took a step back as well. The cintamani in his hand was now floating in the air.
No, it had moved to the hand of the individual who was supposedly the tiger’s dongsaeng.
– Shall we look around?
“Please decipher it, your highness.”
Cale held the cintamani in his hand as he headed toward the wall that was full of code.
– Do you remember the pattern for the code?
Cale had heard about how to decode the code from Alberu while they waited for night to arrive.
Alberu peeked at Cale after not hearing a response and scoffed.
– You’re already decoding it.
Cale undid his top button. His eyes were taking in everything from the top of the wall to the bottom without missing a single area.
For Cale, as someone who had lived his life with the unique ability of ‘Record,’ memorizing and deciphering code was something he could do even without using his ability. It was the norm to figure out the secrets of numerous guilds and organizations.
“He definitely met the White Star.”
Alberu did not write everything down on the wall.
He only recorded the core elements.
“Reclusive mages from the Whipper Kingdom and the non-mainstream faction of the Alchemists’ Bell Tower.”
It was a list of words.
“I also see the word, ‘move.’ ”
– I’m pretty sure I got it.
Eruhaben couldn’t understand what Cale and Alberu were talking about, but he simply stood there and observed with his arms crossed.
The two of them continued to speak without caring about Eruhaben’s gaze. Cale pointed to a spot on the wall.
It was a word that would explain what was written.
< Deal. >
Cale had a relaxed expression on his face as he opened his mouth again.
“It looks like the White Star came to see his highness to offer him a deal.”
– It seems to be talking about moving the reclusive mages of the Whipper Kingdom and the non-mainstream faction of the Alchemists’ Bell Tower to the Roan Kingdom.
“And although it is being called a deal, his highness seems to be suspicious of the White Star’s intentions.”
< Unable to determine intentions. >
– Of course. The reclusive mages getting away from Toonka and coming to the Roan Kingdom would be a benefit for the reclusive mages. Furthermore, the non-mainstream faction would benefit if they came to the Roan Kingdom and became the mainstream faction.
Alberu knew the Alberu of this time.
– But the White Star… There is nothing that bastard gains from this. At least, there is nothing for him to gain from the crown prince.
Alberu was referring to himself in the third person right now. Part of it was because of Eruhaben, but the sorrow in Alberu’s eyes that could not be hidden made it obvious that Eruhaben was not the only reason.
Cale peeked at those eyes before looking back at the wall.
“The answer is obvious.”
– I agree.
“The reclusive mages of the Whipper Kingdom are surely the mages in Arm working for the White Star.”
– That’s right. And although they are called the non-mainstream faction, the alchemists coming from the Empire are all most likely black mages.
Eruhaben’s eyes opened wide after hearing that word. Alberu and Cale continued chatting without caring.
– If the White Star has set the Roan Kingdom as his target, he’s bound to get his mages and black mages into the Roan Kingdom to-
Cale continued as Alberu could not finish his sentence.
“There may be a battle or even a war.”
– Yes. It is highly likely. Especially since his Majesty’s birthday celebration is coming up.
Cale and Alberu stared at the code that was used for it.
A person who looked like Cale but was wearing a white mask.
That individual had introduced himself as both the White Star and Cale.
That person was currently trying to bring black mages and mages into the Roan Kingdom’s capital.
He would plot to get them deep into the capital, all the way in the palace in order to do something.
– All grudges and responsibility would fall on the crown prince once the incident happens. He would be responsible as the person who brought them to the kingdom.
“More importantly, it might injure a lot of people, your highness.”
The capital’s Plaza Terror Incident was what had forced Cale to use the Indestructible Shield for the first time in front of people.
Something incomparable in size to that might happen in the Roan Kingdom. And if something like that did happen…
– It’ll be full of despair.
“Indeed. Despair would descend upon the kingdom.”
The intent and direction of the incident the sealed god was planning was somewhat visible to them.
“We must stop him, your highness.”
– We need to stop him.
The two of them turned toward Eruhaben. The ancient Dragon uncrossed his arms and walked toward them. He could only hear Alberu’s side but he understood the flow of the conversation.
“It looks like I’ll need to help you guys. What do you need me to do now?”
Alberu turned toward Cale. Cale motioned toward the window with his head and Alberu nodded.
– We will cancel meeting the crown prince today. We need to go meet our friends first.
* * *
“So, what you are saying is that the White Star is currently trying to drag his subordinate mages and black mages to the Roan Kingdom’s capital?”
– That is what we are expecting.
Alberu peeked at Eruhaben and spoke informally to Rosalyn.
– That is why my dongsaeng says that he has something to request of all of you.
“We will do it right away as soon as you tell us, your highness.” (TL: Korean has a way of speaking formally that English doesn’t, so Korean doesn’t actually have ‘your highness’ in it. However, that is the best way to write it in English, as Choi Han speaks to Alberu the way he always speaks. That’s why Eruhaben isn’t sus about why they are calling him highness while it mentions above that Alberu is speaking informally to Rosalyn)
Choi Han answered immediately without a pause. Alberu looked toward Cale who closed his eyes and started speaking.
Numerous pieces of information were running through his mind right now.
“First, we are strong, but not many. The Alchemy side being involved must mean that Imperial Crown Prince Adin is a part of this so it is highly likely that there will be a lot of enemies.”
The Empire, Arm, even the Bear tribe and the Lion tribe might work together to aim for the Roan Kingdom.
“But we cannot bring in the forces of the Northern Alliance and the Breck Kingdom to the Roan Kingdom.”
Although Rosalyn and Clopeh were people who represented those two places…
“Even if it is for the White Star, the Alliance, Breck Kingdom, and the Roan Kingdom would all think that the troops are coming to invade. At the same time, it would take too long for us to convince the King to negotiate with the two other parties to let the troops in.”
Rosalyn, who was listening to what Cale had to say through Alberu, chimed in.
“Doesn’t that mean that there are not a lot of people we can bring in for our side?”
The current them had much fewer allies and cooperators than them of two years later. The only troops they had with them right now were Clopeh’s Wyvern Knights Brigade.
However, Cale put on a faint smile at Rosalyn’s question.
“We do. We have troops we can bring in.”
A map appeared in Cale’s mind.
“We will procure an unrelated third party.”
‘A third party?’
As everybody listening looked confused…
“We have some legal external forces.”
The corners of Cale’s lips slowly curled up. He then turned toward Choi Han.
“Choi Han. Take Miss Rosalyn and go to the coast in Section 1 of the Jungle. Go to the hill I tell you to go and you will be able to dig up a large number of highest-grade magic stones.”
Cale had gone to Section 1 of the Jungle with Queen Litana in the past to put out the fire that Imperial Crown Prince Adin had stealthily caused.
Cale had received a portion of the land by the coast of Section 1 for a villa. Cale had wanted that land because of the numerous highest-grade magic stones buried in a large box underground.
“Take those and go to the Eastern continent.”
Choi Han flinched.
“The Eastern continent?”
Rosalyn gasped. Cale observed them as he continued to speak.
“Go to the Eastern continent, meet the Mercenary King, and hire him and about 200 members of the Ranger Brigade.”
Choi Han’s eyes opened wide. Cale continued to explain the plan.
“We will need an extremely large teleportation magic circle because we need to move two hundred or so people. But the highest-grade magic stones should make it possible.”
The cost of hiring the Mercenary King and the Rangers Brigade…
The magic stones and money necessary to create an extremely large teleportation magic circle…
The highest-grade magic stones should take care of all of that.
“The Mercenary King should happily let you hire the Ranger Brigade if Miss Rosalyn reveals her identity and says that we will help the Mercenaries Guild set foot on the Western continent. It’s not all of them, just two hundred or so. And with the remaining highest-grade magic stones…”
Cale turned toward Rosalyn. She was looking at where Cale should be standing as well.
The remaining highest-grade magic stones… There should still be a large quantity left even after all of that.
“Please pull forward time with them.”
Two years of time… Rosalyn’s experiences and knowledge should allow her to close the gap.
“As for Choi Han and Clopeh… The two of you will go get ancient powers as we discussed.”
Choi Han looked shocked as he asked.
“…Will there be any ancient powers left to get?”
The White Star had already gathered most of Cale’s powers. Cale knew this as well, but that was not all of the information that Cale had.
“Clopeh. Is your plate still okay?”
“There is still plenty of room.”
Clopeh already had three ancient powers but there were no ancient powers to clash inside him because he did not have any of the five natural attribute ancient powers. That was why he could at least get one more ancient power if his plate could handle it.
Sword master Clopeh Sekka. He had a sturdier plate than Cale.
“Although it is not one of my powers, it should be quite helpful for you.”
Cale closed his eyes for a moment.
Numerous words were filling his mind.
Cale had seen the Mercenaries Guild’s Directory at some point.
The Directory had records of the strong individuals the Mercenaries Guild members had seen. People who possessed ancient powers were on that list and that information was all stored in Cale’s mind.
“You will go to the Eastern continent as well. Go to where I tell you and get the power there.”
Clopeh looked at where Cale would be as well and nodded his head.
“I will make sure to procure it, sir.”
“Okay, Choi Han.”
Cale now looked at Choi Han.
“You go get the Dominating Aura. Also get the Scary Giant Cobblestone.”
The Forest of Darkness. The two ancient powers still left there… They were for Choi Han. Cale did not stop there and asked Choi Han a question.
“Choi Han. If a battle starts, you may have to take my place. Is it possible?”
Choi Han started to smile.
“I will always stand in the front as the center of everything.”
Cale nodded his head.
“Good. Then everybody go do your parts.”
* * *
– You’re going to sit here?
“Yes, your highness. I’ve always wanted to sit here. Is it not okay?”
– Ha. Do whatever you want.
Cale sat down on a chair, crossed his legs, and looked forward.
He was currently back at the crown prince’s palace with Eruhaben and the cintamani.
They were in the crown prince’s office again, and Cale was sitting on the crown prince’s desk chair as he observed the door.
The door soon opened and Cale smiled while watching crown prince Alberu Crossman walk in.
It was time to chat, no, to make a deal.
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