“T-there’s nothing? I could swear that an explosion just resounded from right about here.”
“Was it from the other side of the wall?”
“No, my Lord! Should I go and find out what happened?”
“Yes. But just go and see what happened. If you find anything, report back immediately! We must not make any further mistakes.”
“Yes my Lord!”
“Good. Now, all we have to do is wait for our little queen to fall into our trap.”
Gerald smiled maliciously as he lightly walked toward the throne and sat down with an imposing aura.
As the rebels already felt the taste of victory, Jian continued onward down the stairs with quick but light steps.
I apologize if I seem impolite but I’ll ask King Jian to hurry toward her highness’ rescue! If I’m not wrong, from her group of around 50 guards there are only 20 still alive! As they rushed toward the royal garden, the rebels blew up the tunnel’s walls and ambushed them numerous times already. The Queen doesn’t seem injured but I still ask King Jian to hurry. → Yuri
I see… Are they now coming this way? → Jian
Yes. The underground tunnels are like an underground labyrinth. And because of this, the rebels are keeping on blowing tunnel after tunnel in making them go toward the Throne exit. → Yuri
So they wish to kill the Queen themselves. → Jian
They? Who are “They”?! → Yuri
Yuri’s voice seemed urgent as he felt like Jian found something new.
At the throne hall, I saw more nobles and the leaders seemed to be someone named Count Gerald and Viscount Foxrot. Do you know them? → Jian
Gerald and Sir Foxrot?! H-how?! I saw no malice in them! And you said there were more nobles? J-just how many have my eyes missed…? → Yuri
Yuri felt his knees suddenly becoming weak at the thought that his inability to detect the enemy placed the queen in such a danger. He tried to push his mind on thinking just why he wasn’t able to detect their malice and revolting intentions against the new queen when Jian suddenly said in a serious voice.
Sir Yuri, there are a few spells or artifacts for Soul Concealment. → Jian
S-Soul Concealment?! King Jian, just what is that? → Yuri
Just as its name implies, it can hide your aura, thoughts or feelings from a Soul Seer’s gaze. Since old times every royalty had beside him a Soul Seer to see who was trustworthy and who was not, and who was criminal hiding right under their noses. My family also had one… but he died of poisoning and finding another one was a hard struggle. Just that’s how hard it is to find a good Soul Seer which is willing to work for a royal family at the risk of his/her own life, and such items that can hide from them, albeit extremely rare and banned, are not nonexistent. → Jian
I understand… Haha~… I will have to see if my [God’s Gaze] is also blocked by this Soul Concealment spell. → Yuri
As the two of them conversed, Jian already reached the respective place and saw how another guard fell from an explosion that blew up the wall right beside him.
“Your Highness! Please stay behind us!”
“Guards! Continue onwards! We shall not let her highness suffer anymore!”
“Please take your safety into consideration as well! Don’t enter into death’s jaws for nothing!”
“Yes! My Queen!”
The remaining 18 guards shouted together as they continued through the labyrinth, wary of another deadly explosion. Because most of them were either Sword Warriors or Sword Masters, they were unable to follow up with any kind of counter as the mages from the other part of the walls would suddenly use [Blink] and disappear from their place then appear beside another corner. Even though the walls were made in a way so they couldn’t be destroyed even by a Grandmaster, the mages had numerous artifacts for enchanting their spells, being now able to reach a destruction-power comparable to even Saints while they only had power ranks between Core Warrior and Great Warrior.
They’re using cursed artifacts… Their life-span shortens after every use. What morons. → Jian
Jian’s eyes flashed with killing intent as he talked telepathically to Yuri.
Their lives are already damned. Me showing mercy to them would only leave them for a world of pain later. → Jian
M-maybe Shen would be able to help them? → Yuri
Yuri asked in a hurry as he couldn’t help but feel like evading any option that had killing added. Even so, Jian shook his head and answered.
This is a curse to be undone. You’re exchanging your life for a moment of power. You can’t simply give back what has been lost. → Jian
… I understood… → Yuri
I know about your hate for killing, Sir Yuri, but right now there is no place for such kindness. → Jian
This exchange of thoughts happened in an instant as the mages prepared to strike another two guards down from right behind the corner. But just before they could do so, Jian appeared with the speed of sound right behind one of them and in a flash, two heads fell with a heavy thud.
I’ll have you explain my actions to her highness later. → Jian
… Understood. Please take care. → Yuri
Afterward, Jian stealthily rushed toward the other mages that hid behind the walls inside the neighboring tunnels and cut their heads clean without a sound. After a moment, all the mages he was able to detect were dealt with as blood stained the earthen floor everywhere around.
“Who are you?!”
After passing the corner and seeing the rivers of blood rushing towards them, the nervous guards instantly shot out toward Jian who, at the moment, had his white shirt covered in blood.
“W-wait a moment-“ → Jian
Seeing them rush towards him like this, Jian instinctively released his [Heavenly Pressure] and the first two guards instantly tripped and fell face-first on the ground. Because of the thick killing intent aimed at him, Jian had as a first reflex cutting both their necks off, but he restrained to do so at the last moment as his blade stopped in the ground at just not even 2 centimeters away from one of the guards’ necks. Feeling his pressuring aura, the others stopped on their tracks and stared nervously as their grip on the sword tightened while bullets of sweat dripped down their forehead. The head-guard then made a step forward and tried to fight back the pressure with his own aura of a Saint at the stage of Apprentice.
“I’m asking again, who are you?!”
He roared enough to make the walls vibrate as he pointed his sword toward Jian. Even so, he still didn’t dare make another step away from the queen. Seeing them so on-guard, Jian sheathed his sword and took a calm stance. With a firm but amiable tone he said politely:
“I’m Jian Tian of the Jian Kingdom. It is a pleasure to meet the Queen of Victoria, Lorana Victoria.” → Jian
“J-Jian? Do you mean King Tian of the Jian Kingdom?! And do you expect us to believe you?!”
“To speak such with me, shall I understand that you need some discipline?”
The head-guard lost his cool for a moment and advanced forward in but a flash. Even so, before the two of them could meet blades, Queen Lorana took a step forward and shouted in a commanding tone:
“Cease at once!” → Queen Lorana
The guard froze in an instant while Jian stopped the moment he felt no malice coming from the guard any longer. He then observed what happened and saw the emblem of the Royal Guards shine for a moment.
The royal crest. So she used the seal inside the crest to command the guards to stop… If they ended up on using such things then that means Queen Lorana’s control over her own kingdom is even more unstable than I thought. → Jian
Normally, the king/queen of a kingdom must be the strongest in their own country so they could uphold the image of a strong and domineering ruler in this world of war, not needing the assistance of something like “personal guards”. Meeting borders with the Nostrung and Eihwaz continents, it was imperial for the Victoria Kingdom, as a corner-country, to have a stronger ruler than any other neighboring kingdoms from Vestria Continent. And such is also the Matriarchal Kingdom, the Queen had the duty to show a might far superior to any other man and an aura more domineering than a general’s for them to win the respect of the battle-hardened warriors of Victoria.
However, being only 17 and still, at Great Warrior power-rank, Lorana’s moment of reaching the throne was way too rushed as she still required the protection of the Royal Guards. As she required the assistance of the Royal Guards, her life was still in peril while the chance of an assassin integrating through the guards was also a possibility. This was a reason why every kingdom would imbue inside the crest of the Royal Guards something like a slavery crest, dying when their master dies and stopping when their master tells them to stop. However, orders like “Kill yourself” or “Kill your loved ones” were unable to be executed as the desperate will-power of any being would be enough to break the crest, ending up only with a free guard that might only come for your head later. Even though the Royal Guards had something like a slave crest, they were respected even by the king or queen as they themselves accepted the crest to serve the one and only ruler of their own country.
I also had such guards until I was her age and I reached Energy Master. Being royalty, the entire kingdom’s resources would focus on nurturing us. As for her… Just why is she still so weak? → Jian
Even though Jian thought such, he was still impressed by her composed and solemn expression as she stepped forward with sharp eyes.
“M-My queen! Please step back! He’s from the Nostrung! He might be the one who started this rebellion!”
“Alfred. Please don’t talk such with another kingdom’s ruler. Enemy or friend, a king or a queen must always be treated with respect. Or we’ll be with nothing better than those barbarians from the North.” → Queen Lorana
“It’s fine. Step back.” → Queen Lorana
“Yes, your majesty…”
With a firm expression, Lorana stepped forward as her sharp gaze fixed on Jian. With a distance of just 7 m from him, Lorana stopped and with a tall posture, she introduced herself.
“I am the Queen of Victoria, Lorana Victoria. Before anything else, may I know for what reason we have King Jian Tian of the Jian Kingdom visit us in such a manner? I don’t remember ever offending the Jian Kingdom or King Jian Lon.” → Queen Lorana
After hearing the name of his own father, Jian Tian felt like massaging his throbbing temples, feeling like cursing the one who was the main reason as for why he’s now a pirate, a bandit, and now having to ask multiple individuals for help. After shaking his head, Jian explained in a calm manner.
“Please don’t take my presence here as a pressuring one. I might have been once part of the Nostrung’s Vassals, but now I am free and under no one’s command. For now, I’m only assisting the Antara Kingdom for more general reasons. As for the Jian Kingdom, this is a subject only for the past and… possibly the future.” → Jian
Lorana’s eyes opened wide in surprise as she felt like King Jian’s presence in her kingdom was more of a mystery than she thought.
“May I please know what King Jian means by-“ → Queen Lorana
Jian! Quickly take Lorana out of there! I detect a large quantity of magical power gathering right behind everyone on the other side of the wall! The power is monstrous! → Yuri
As the queen wished to ask another question, Yuri’s disturbing thoughts made Jian’s expression darkened as he stared through everyone, right at the wall behind. Even though he felt nothing from behind the enchanted wall, he still knew better than to distrust someone who unlocked the second phase of [Soul Eyes].
“Queen Lorana, I wish after everything is over, your highness will be able to forgive my insolence.” → Jian
“What are you going to do?” → Queen Lorana
The queen and everyone around her took a more guarded stance as Jian focused his energy at his sheathed sword. He took a low stance as blue lightning flashed here and there everywhere around him. His eyes shining with a deep-blue color as his black hair danced when there was no wind.
“King Jian. I hope you have a good explanation for this!” → Queen Lorana
“Oh but I do. However, there is no time to explain.” → Jian
At Lorana’s perturbed expression, Jian suddenly flashed pass them all. The only one able to follow his moves was Alfred as he instantly shot out in front of the queen but Jian’s target wasn’t her.
Jian then instantly unsheathed his sword and with the wide part, he slashed forward, making space itself to bend and crack. Just at that moment:
“For his Majesty! Gerald Daluz!”
A desperate shout resounded from the other part of the wall and a great explosion destroyed the entire wall as its shine blinded some guards.
The moment it met with the deep dent in space, the explosion also stopped as if it met a resistance nowhere but where Jian and the others stood, making the explosion to continue onwards in any other direction, especially upwards. Because of the explosion, the entire underground floor was slowly but surely starting to collapse.
“This place is right under the hallway toward the Throne hall!”
“If we won’t die from the falling boulders then we’ll surely die when the rebels catch us!”
“The patch back is completely destroyed and the stones are still enchanted! We won’t be able to destroy them that easily!”
“Even if Captain Alfred were to use his power to make a way it would still be too late!”
“We’ll think of what we’ll do when the time comes! For now, protect the Queen!” → Alfred
The guards started to panic for a moment then Alfred shouted out as everyone surrounded the queen and activated their own mana or chi barriers. Jian wasn’t that worried for himself but rather for the queen. If she happened to be injured then this would really affect his alliance with Victoria for not being able to secure her wellbeing.
Even though I’m also of Royal blood, I’m still just a “Fallen King” so practically, my rank is lower than hers. → Jian
Jian then approached the group of guards and while focusing his energy once again, he slashed upwards and created a huge rift through which the ceiling of the hallway was visible.
After the entire hallway finally collapsed together with a part of the Throne Hall, a great screen of dust covered the view everywhere around.
“Clear the air!” → Alfred
Alfred’s shout resounded as a strong pale of wind suddenly blew and cleared the screen of smoke everywhere around them. As the entire floor of the palace usurped, only boulders, broken wood, shattered hardstone or natural gypsum, was to be seen everywhere around. Even though the floor and some walls collapsed, the palace seemed completely unfazed from the outside. Everyone was alright as the golden stacked barriers protected everyone from the falling boulders that still bounced off some other rocks and still landed on top of it.
Alfred then turned toward Jian who sheathed his sword calmly then made eye contact with him. With a frown, Alfred scorned at him.
“I could’ve protected her highness without your help as well.” → Alfred
“Yes, with some sacrifices, but now everyone gets to live. With pleasure.” → Jian
Jian smiled with a sharp glint in his eyes as he answered back politely.
The queen stared at him for a moment as conflicted feelings of gratitude and suspicion revolted inside her, then she pinched her dark-red dress like a true Queen and slightly inclined her head.
“Before anything else, I am truly thankful for the timely rescue, King Jian. But I’m rather curious as to why you’re helping me?” → Queen Lorana
“Everything at its time, Queen Lorana. There will surely be someone who will answer your all and every answer. For now, it seems you have other problems at hand.” → Jian
“Hm? What?!” → Queen Lorana
Jian then pointed upwards toward the Throne where a bloody and passed out dragoon was seated on the throne by two dark shadows with blood-red shining eyes.
T-those are some scary things Lord Shen created… → Jian
Let alone the guards or the queen, even Jian felt like keeping his distance from those shadows of Grandmaster power-rank. Everywhere around the passed-out Count, many other rebels were laying on the floor, some with unnaturally bent limbs, some with dangerous dents inside their chests and others that had nothing happened to them, simply laying down in fear of being noticed by the shadows. It seems that those who surrendered in time had nothing happening to them, but their mental-state showed some signs of damage seeing how their faces were drenched in sweat, tears, and snot.
“W-just what are those things?!”
A guard then raised his sword and all the shadows then turned their heads toward him.
“Put your sword down!” → Jian
Jian commanded in a hurry but the shadows were too fast. One of them suddenly disappeared and reappeared right behind the Master ranked guard and struck him down with just one punch at the back of his head. Luckily, the guard lost consciousness instantly and so the shadows lost interest right in the next moment, glancing at everyone else and then turning around to patrol the area for any possible enemy.
M-mister Yuri. Is it possible to contact Lord Shen and ask him to lower the aggressiveness of his shadows? It seems like they would strike anyone who’s pointing malice towards them the next moment. → Jian
I-I’ll try… → Yuri
Both Yuri and Jian felt like only troubles welcomed them in the future only from this moment alone. The queen and the other guards also stared suspiciously at Jian, waiting for an explanation.
“I promise that everything will be clarified the moment every rebel has been incapacitated.” → Jian
Jian explained with some sweat falling down his forehead as he observed how the cloud of dark energy was slowly dissipating while the shadows evaporated in dark smoke.
As Yuri briefly described to me what happened, I also felt like this power might be a little bit too dangerous.
– And that’s why, Sir Shen, please lower the power-level of those shadows as well. I saw some rebels even crucified on the walls, their limbs impaled with dark nails… → Yuri
I- ugh… I think I should just cancel them entirely… More importantly, where are you all? What took you so long to reach these places? → Shen
The rebels have spread all around the capital. This place is just as huge as a normal capital from our world, is not that easy to find them even with our speed. → Yuri
Shall I release my shadows and- → Shen
Please don’t use the shadows anymore! Sigh~… It’s alright. We’ll deal with it. Hold on for at least another hour. Until then I’ll ask Leorio to go there and help with reporting the news to her highness. → Yuri
Whoa-?! One hour? Can’t you go faster? → Shen
T-then I’ll just ask Leorio to go help you with the queen in a moment. → Yuri
Better. → Shen
I got down from atop the tallest tower, on top of the great roof on the gray tiles, then jumped on another smaller roofless tower, then on a wall, another roof, another tower, and these were repeated for two more times when I finally reached the solid ground.
This building is ridiculous… → Shen
I looked upwards for a moment at the great walls and towers then continued onwards toward the entrance of the palace that was right by the corner. Even though it seemed close, because of the humongous building it took me around 10 minutes only to walk in front of the entrance door, which seemed to be like huge wall-gates than normal doors. Because of my weakened state, I had to transform both my arms only so I could push open the doors.
Yeah… “doors~”. Whoever could call these damn castle-gates as doors… The standards in this world are too damn high. → Shen
As I opened the gate- err doors, a desperate middle-aged soldier suddenly rushed outside, smashing head-first on my chest. Unsure on his legs, he fell on his back and stared with panic-stricken eyes at me. His armor was dented and cut here and there as his own blood flowed from some wounds. He looked beat-down and terrified, trembling from fear while sweating profoundly, either from the same fear or from the pain induced by the wounds. All in all, his state could be best described only as “miserable”.
His voice weak, his eyes fear-struck and tired while his raised arm in a form of defense, trembled uncontrollably, his sword missing for some reason. I stared at him for a moment then a sudden idea struck me.
Normally I would’ve simply captured him and presented him to the queen… But maybe I could use him on something else~. → Shen
“Oy, old man. Are you one of the rebels?” → Shen
He said nothing but just from his frozen state I was able to tell that he was indeed one of the attackers. I then smiled amused and asked slowly.
“Do you wish to live?” → Shen
His weak voice resounded as if by mistake while looking at me with wide-open eyes, now even more afraid.
He’s suspecting me? Ho~, so the fear hasn’t clouded his judgment completely. → Shen
I got a little bit closer to him and right when I wanted to open my mouth again, I observed the white shirt under his iron armor and froze in place.
That shirt… I’m not sure of the material, but the way is knitted can be done only by a machine… What do we have here~? → Shen
I felt even more amused then took out some clean clothes and gave them to him.
“Here. Change into these not before cleaning and showing me your injuries. You’d rather not dirty them with blood.” → Shen
“Move it.” → Shen
Still confused, I rushed him as I felt around for anyone coming this way. The soldier still confused he hastily took off his armor and shirt, remaining only in his pants. His face was pale as he was sweating bullets. Two ugly cuts made him bleed profoundly, one from under his left rib while another one from his back. Still trembling and pale, he barely stood in front of me, the only thing making him stand his ground being the adrenaline rush and fear.
“You did well surviving that.” → Shen
His body wasn’t that built but still considered well-developed by the Earth’s standards. I then took out another potion and passed it to him, not wishing to heal his wounds by hand.
“Take this. I’d rather not touch a naked middle-aged man.” → Shen
“Y-yes! T-thank you…”
He drank the potion and his fatigue vanished while his body stopped trembling. He wasn’t sweating as much as before while his injuries were slowly closing up. Even though the bleeding stopped, it was still hard for him to move normally. He then hurriedly changed clothes while I was burying his armor and blood-stained shirt by using earth elements. I then continued walking forward while commanding:
“Come.” → Shen