55 – The Stolen Treasure
Lord Eisen, the ruler of Yungju, Sillex Eisen.
He was gathering those who had gone ahead and discussing the future plans.
Of course, the most important topic at the moment was undoubtedly the supply.
“Is there still no contact from the nearby territories?”
“Yes, it seems like they’re not willing to offer any support, as if they made a promise.”
“They keep asking us to wait, just dragging out the time.”
Lord Eisen let out a deep sigh.
“If we fall, they will fall too. Why are they acting like this?”
“Are they the only ones? The entire empire will crumble.”
“Perhaps they believe that there is no need to consume provisions since the army of the Grand Marshal and the Crown Prince will arrive soon?”
The Count pressed his temples tightly as if his head was throbbing, squeezing his eyes shut.
“This time, it’s definitely different from previous years. If we confront them head-on, we will undoubtedly face a catastrophic defeat.”
He was confident in his defense.
Lord Eisen himself was a natural fortress.
Once the gates were closed, even the strongest military force would find it difficult to overcome.
But would he really support the protest of the Grand Marshal, who was obsessed with war, and the young Crown Prince, who relied solely on his strength?
Perhaps even during his journey here, they were thinking of immediately opening the gates, wiping out the enemies.
“Um… It is said that there are even traitors among the three thousand troops ahead.”
The viscount frowned as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing and spoke.
“The Crown Prince? Why that trash again?”
“I’m not entirely sure, but he prevented the war with the elves-“
“That idiot prevented a war with the elves? That’s nonsense.”
“He also won in a duel against the Crown Prince-“
“Is that even possible? It’s probably just some made-up story the Emperor came up with to give something to his beloved son before he dies.”
“Anyway, the Grand Marshal and the Crown Prince are the biggest problems.”
“Yes, they are. Aren’t they known for always acting unilaterally?”
“If we take our soldiers out with us, they will all end up dead. But we can’t just sit idly by either…”
Unconsciously, the viscount recalled the image of the Emperor, who was once hailed as a great conqueror.
“It’s just imitating the Grand Marshal, the Crown Prince, or the Emperor. But even the Emperor at his prime wouldn’t be able to stop the full force of Perem’s army, which is right in front of us. It’s an army that even my father never saw. They really made up their minds and raised an army.”
“But what do we do now? If you’re really determined, a protest alone will have its limitations.”
“I’ll take care of it.”
The sudden voice of the young man caught the attention of the people in the room, and their gaze shifted towards the wide-open window.
“Nice to meet you. I’m the worthless trash that came out of the royal family.”
Due to the sudden appearance of Eos, the viscount and the others’ pupils trembled.
“Silver hair and green eyes… Oh!”
“Prin- Prince, no, Your Highness…!”
“No, how is it already…”
Someone let out a surprised cough, while someone else hiccuped.
Even so, Eos smiled naturally.
“Instead, if I handle this matter, the Marquis will have to grant me a favor.”
The Marquis, who had been silent for a while, eventually agreed.
Of course, it seemed that he didn’t fully trust me. It seemed like he only thought about his own gain.
Originally, Viscount Eisen was an interesting person.
He didn’t show much loyalty to the Emperor, nor did he attach himself to Duke Schlein.
He was simply a person whose greatest reason for living was to protect the territory passed down through generations.
So, he was a person who wouldn’t be bad to include under my wing.
If I showed him favor, I could surely make use of him in the future.
That’s why I, along with Elain and Astia, boarded Aquila and headed for the Imperial Palace.
The crisis that Viscount Eisen was facing now was not just about the war.
Soon, on the day of the festival, we would have to fend off the undead army led by Lich.
I was able to come up with a brilliant idea after much deliberation.
“Yi Yi Zhi Yi” (以夷制夷).
If we could drive away the Perem army with the undead army?
Then it was obvious that they would weaken each other in an instant, like watching fire.
And I knew how to control Lich.
That was the pendant containing Lich’s soul.
With just that, I would be able to manipulate Lich and his army as I pleased.
Of course, there was one concern: the fact that the General and the Crown Prince would arrive in Eisen before I could handle everything.
But since I had already sent Helios, there was nothing to worry about.
Duke Felios and Ardor would tie their feet.
Of course, the imperial soldiers were innocent, and I had no intention of killing them since they would be useful later.
I just wanted to tie them up, quite literally.
And before I knew it, we had arrived at our destination.
“Well then, I’ll be back.”
I jumped out alone in front of the entrance to the Grand Palace.
In truth, I had sweated quite a bit trying to convince Elaine and Astia to follow me.
Instead of fighting monsters, I had made a dramatic compromise by saying that the goal was just to steal the relic and come out together on Aquila.
Of course, Aquila, which had to carry Astia with the heavy sword, was very reluctant and ended up getting a spanking from Astia with the scabbard once again.
The entrance to the Grand Palace, which looked like a cave, was filled with a chilling wind.
Somehow, it gave me goosebumps, but once I erased my presence and became transparent, most of the monsters didn’t even notice me, even though I was right next to them.
Occasionally, some monsters would sniff around or growl, but most of them gave up and went elsewhere.
I was able to reach where the Lich was quite easily.
Using the spirits to scout the area, and with no one blocking my path, it was possible.
The Lich was in the underground temple full of undead like skeletons and zombies, repeatedly striking its relic with something like a rag.
Whenever the red light flashed from its eye sockets, I couldn’t help but shudder.
But even the Lich, who had compressed mana, couldn’t recognize me in the end.
The opportunity had finally arrived.
Rich, who was happily examining the various aspects of the scroll, opened the golden treasure box.
Inside, there was a rather soft-looking cushion.
Rich carefully placed the scroll on top of it.
Without missing the opportunity, I quickly used the wind to lift the scroll and bring it to me.
Startled, Rich tried to grab the scroll in a hurry, but I was faster and swiftly dodged with the scroll in hand.
The scroll, which had never done such a thing before, suddenly seemed to be striving for freedom. Rich must have been extremely bewildered.
I easily evaded the countless undead trying to grab the scroll and emerged from the Great Maze.
And as soon as I saw the sunlight, I immediately released my invisibility and boarded Aquila, who was flying low in the sky.
In the Great Maze, an enormous number of undead were rushing out like a burst dam.
In the midst of them, Rich, who had finally figured out the thief’s identity, shouted in a chilling voice.
“You insolent scoundrel! How dare you steal my scroll! I will definitely catch you and have you torn apart by ants, still alive! Then I will turn you into a zombie and let you rot for thousands of years!”
But when Aquila, who was startled by Rich’s presence, flapped its wings vigorously, chaos erupted.
Count Eisen received a report from his soldier and hurriedly ascended the northern fortress wall.
Underneath the city wall, an unfamiliar sight unfolded.
“W-What are those things?”
It was a flood of various types of corpses and bones, flowing down below the city wall like a raging river.
“They’re probably undead that came out of the Grand Labyrinth. But it’s strange. Why are they just passing by the side of the wall?”
The Viscount was also puzzled by this.
Monsters had frequently come out of the Grand Labyrinth until now.
But every time, they were restless, either devouring or killing humans.
So it was common for them to scratch at the gates or climb up the walls in a frenzy.
But today was truly strange.
They were just passing by the side of the wall, as if they were chasing after something important.
And there was no doubt that the direction the army of undead was gathering in was towards the Kingdom of Pharem.
He stopped at the front of the marching procession, looking at the carriage of the Crown Prince, which was in the middle of the troops.
The night had grown deep and the sky was dark, but the Crown Prince’s carriage was more noticeable than the soldiers on horseback, thanks to the lanterns hanging on both sides.
They had already come quite far from the capital.
The place they were passing through now was a desolate field where only the serene moonlight lingered.
It was the perfect place to camp at this point, and no one would have a problem with it, no matter what happened.
“We’ll camp here for the night.”
Teldoan halted his troops.
As the officer began issuing orders, the troops quickly became restless.
As the supply units approached, fires were lit and tents were set up in various places.
Some spread blankets on the ground, while others gathered horses and loosened their saddles to feed them.
And so, the night grew deeper.
Teldoan changed into the attire of an assassin inside the tent.
Tonight, he planned to dispose of the pretender.
When the time became so secretive that even the flickering torches began to doze off, he quietly slipped out of the tent.
The moment he stepped out, he saw a massive lightning bolt crashing down, as if splitting the dark night sky.
The spot where the lightning struck was where the horses were.
Countless horses turned into roasted meat without even letting out a single scream.