Chapter 6.12: A Blade In The Dark
Stahlia Seventeen Years Old, Third Month of 949
Looking at my status screen, I sighed.
Life Summary Screen:
Life Point Balance: 115
Name/Age: Stahlia von Drakas und zu Ris, 16
Class/Level:Custom Class, 20 | C̴̢͟ư͞ş̧̕͢͝t̸̛̀o̴̧͡m̷̢ ̧͠C̶͘͡҉l̛҉͘͝ás̶̀͟͝s̛̀͢͠,̷ ̵̨4 Experience: 2180/38000
Species: Human (Halfblood[Revenant])
Social Strata: Nobility (Baron Ris, Drakas Kingdom || Princess auf Drakas, Drakas Kingdom)
Starting Gift: Implanted Seed: Progress 66.89%
Title: Goblin Slayer*[Swap Title]
Strength E: 129 Endurance C: 229 Dexterity S: 430 +48 Intelligence S: 495 Charisma C: 229 Mana A: 291
Fighting Style: Shadow Blade* [Swap Style]
Talents 5/5: [Browse Talents] , , Stealth V*, Charm Resistance III*, , || Monster Handling III*, ͏Dagger Fighting V*, ̕Sword Fighting II*, Unarmed Fighting IV*, Alchemy Correction IV*, Teaching II*,͢Mana Efficiency III*, Fire Magic III*, Water Magic II*, Ear̵t̸h M͝agic I͟I̡*͢,͏ Wi͘ńd M͟agic ̡I̸I*, I̷ce̕ ̢Mag͜ic VI̛*̡, Wi̷n̸téŗ Magi͘c ̷I,͡
Skills 5/5: [Browse Skills] Divine Authority[Class Features], . Blue Blooded*, Kinetic Perception*, , || Language Proficiency[Central(human)]*,Fighting Style[Shadow Blade]*, Fighting Style[Drakan]*, Rule Breaker*, Revenant Physique*,
Talents Experience: [+]
Auto Repair In Progress: [85%]
I had hoped that it would have finished repairing by now; a week after the first session, I’d tried again with the intention of removing the remaining offending skills and talents. The second time had been far less painful than the first, so much so that it was actually kind of anti-climactic. Though following that, Edith refused to talk to me for a week unless I ordered it. She had come around in the interim, but at that moment I had thought I might have lost my friend and been really upset and irritable.
The only assumption I could make in that regard was that it had something to do with how my Divine Authority was no longer corrupted. That didn’t mean it didn’t hurt like hell, but it was a lot closer to what I remembered from when I was in Sitri’s head. Once that had been taken care of, the auto-repair thing had kicked off. Though, the rate at which it was making progress was quite slow.
I’d really like to know if Adroni knew the auto repair wasn’t going to work, or if they didn’t realize there was a problem… There’s no way I’ll ever get an answer to that though.
Otherwise, very little headway had been made. The deal with Aaron was working out, and we now received regular reports from the adventurers. But there was as of yet no information regarding how the undead had been created. Other than Aaron and Ferdinand’s shared opinion that the demons were responsible, but that much was obvious given that they’d been working with the Shadows.
And so here I am.
My hand closed tightly around the blade strapped to my waist; I was actually not wearing a dress for once. Instead, I was wearing clothes similar to what I had worn when working with Jacqueline – what felt like so many years ago. It was, after all, time to put my money where my mouth was; Rupert had determined that Duke Lawrence should be removed from the board. In keeping with our plan, it fell to either me or Ferdinand to carry that out. I had chosen to do it myself.
The plan as it were, was for Duke Lawrence to be assassinated in his battlefield camp. Each of the dukes loyal to Rupert had been tasked with taking a specific city from Prince Antonio’s faction, and the troops had spent the better part of the last month maneuvering themselves into position following the delivery of Rupert’s ultimatum of surrender to Prince Antonio. That Ultimatum that had gone unanswered.
The Lawrence duchy was not going to be destroyed; the family name and holdings would be passed to Lady Lawrence and then inherited by one of her children. blame for the assassination would fall on Antonio’s shoulders and be used to rally the remaining holdouts among the late second prince’s faction. If everything went to plan. What scared me and caused hesitation was not the thought that it might not go to plan, but rather the knowledge that I thought this was a good plan.
It would solve the issues I was having with the man; having lost the head, the family would not be able to afford to marry their daughter down to my own family. After all, despite my own status, we were only a barony. His death though, would unite the faction under Rupert’s banner and remove a potential threat in the upcoming war. A harsh plan to be sure, but one that did make some degree of sense.
Though if I could still cast Anti-Army magic we could simply end this now…
That was probably the biggest loss out of all my skills and talents. Without Eidetic memory, I had not been able to remember the translations of all the words to the magic chanting language. Now that I had removed the talent, that information was seemingly lost forever; it felt like I’d removed a hard drive. All the relevant files were gone. Not even in the recycle bin, just gone.
That being what it was, things weren’t a total loss. I did still know a few words, the more common ones like the names of the various magic elements, and had even figured out a couple more; that proved that I could still translate the language. But it would be a lot harder than the first time around.
After considering what I’d just thought for a moment, I shook my head. I was actually lamenting the fact that I wasn’t able to kill hundreds of people to distract myself from the fact that I was about to kill one person.
“You can still back out.” Ferdinand’s voice cut in and I turned to face him.
“No, I will do it myself; the fact remains that no matter how minuscule, my own issues with the man fed into Rupert’s decision-making process. I am modestly responsible for the conclusion he reached.”
Ferdinand would be slipping into the city to plant evidence that could then be “discovered” when our forces took the city, while I dealt with the assassination itself. Like he pointed out, he was more than capable of doing everything himself, but that did not matter to me. In a sense, my insistence on doing it myself was psychological.
Even after telling myself that I can do it if I have to, I’m still hesitant. I need to put myself in a place where I have to commit, or I’m worried that I would eventually get Rosial involved.
“Then, move when you are ready. For what it is worth, I do agree that you should draw the first blood yourself.” Having said his piece, Ferdinand departed from the hilltop we were occupying. A few moments later, he seemingly melted away into the dim twilight. My own “adventure” wouldn’t start for a few more hours. Not until the sun was fully set.
Not that I doubted my own ability, but the fact of the matter was that I was low leveled. Though my stealth talent was rather high compared to what it should be for someone my level. But I had never actually snuck through a camp filled with people who would wonder what the hell I was doing, and possibly even kill me on sight.
No, anyone who saw me here would actually have to die. There wouldn’t be any easy ways out of it like with Lady Lester and her maid. It would be me who had to do it as well. Before they had a chance to tell anyone I had been seen.
Once we fabricate the miracle in another few months, I won’t be able to do this type of work so easily… I’ll need to get some more assassins before then…
My bad habit was kicking in again; I was overthinking things. Trying to psyche myself up, to talk myself through the logic and the reasoning behind what was going to happen tonight.
And it is going to happen. Even if I don’t do it, Ferdinand will. There’s no situation where this doesn’t happen. Logically, I know it’s the right play. Morally, no way in hell. That’s why I need to do it myself, right?
It was a question that would never have a satisfying answer, but one that I would probably torture myself with for the foreseeable future. Even knowing that was completely unproductive.
God, I sound like a classic protagonist type. That’s good though, I think. I’ve always told myself that killing should never become easy.
The sun was dipping below the horizon now, meaning that it was finally time to go. I took one last look at the camp arrayed below me and then set off towards it. It was within sight of the city, but specifically not set up in such a way as to be a siege; the idea was to allow the citizens the chance to evacuate before hostilities commenced. What with the demon war coming next year, we could not afford to have our own citizens against us.
Though we won’t be able to help but have some resentment after conducting several sieges that will assuredly disturb those living in the cities and towns, we can minimize it. At least, that’s what Rupert is hoping.
Personally, I had my doubts about how effective the gesture would be, though I wouldn’t go about sharing them as such. I didn’t know the first thing about managing a population, having not received any training in regards to the subject. Besides that, despite what my status might lead someone to believe, charisma was my dump stat.
I don’t mind following his lead in matters of governance, especially now that he’s finally explaining his reasoning to me fully.
Once the demon war started, I’d be able to stop pretending to be totally innocent and compassionate. Though if public perception of me swung too far in the other direction, towards violent and powerful, that would present its own issues. The fact of the matter was, Rupert had married me for my capabilities. Those capabilities were not in politics.
Haaa… The matter at hand then. Duke Cresden von Lawrence. Last time he was appraised was a little over a decade ago, at which time he was around level forty. His class is nothing special, just twenty levels in Librarian, ten levels in Researcher, and ten levels in Alchemist.
Finding out that last one had actually made me laugh out loud. If he had been less antagonistic, we might have actually gotten along. Though, were that the case then killing him would be a lot harder.
Though, it’s possible that Rupert would have picked a different method of uniting the nobles if that was the case. Hell, me being on good terms with their leader might have gone a long way to blunting a lot of the edge the remaining holdouts have.
Fretting over what-ifs and alternate timelines wouldn’t do me any good, so I returned to my mental review. It was possible that Duke Lawrence had received a combat class in the past decade, but we didn’t have any intel on that. If he had, it would be some time of magic caster based on the classes he already had. Regardless, if things went to plan it wouldn’t be an issue; he would die in his sleep.
Getting past the perimeter was shockingly easy. Between the effects of [Shadow Blade Style] and my [Stealth V], the perimeter guards didn’t even blink as I slipped through a gap in their watch. It almost felt like my armor was overkill. True invisibility was apparently nearly impossible to achieve with a magic tool, but simple illusions were doable.
For example, my ring caused anyone who saw me to perceive a younger version instead. The assassin armor I now wore had a similar effect, where anyone who saw me would see a diffuse shadow in the vague shape of a human instead. Both effects would be broken by anyone who knew what they were really seeing, but if that happened here then I would have bigger concerns. Not that I was actually wearing the ring at the moment.
Just through the entrance area of the camp, I froze still. The shadow of a tent being cast by a flickering fire on the opposite side concealed me in deeper darkness than the surrounding night. As for what had halted my advance through the camp, that would be the pair of knights doing a patrol. Neither of them saw me, but their appearance was curious.
They aren’t Duke Lawrence’s knights. Those crests belong to the royal family; They’re Rupert’s knights.
Each of the three loyalist armies had been given a small detachment of knights directly loyal to the royal family. The real question was what this pair was doing on patrol; it was my understanding that these were supposed to be arrayed as an advance force in the event that any Febligi knights tried something. That was the one advantage that Antonio had for which our side lacked any real answer.
The Febligi Duchy was the most martially inclined of the four, and their knights stood above the ones loyal to the other three. They might even be more skilled than the royal knights, but they were the best answer we had all the same.
I’ll need to report that to Rupert and Henrake so they can determine if it means anything.
It was highly likely that I was making a big deal out of nothing, but I wasn’t about to take any chances given the stakes involved. Thankfully for my nerves, slipping through the rest of the camp proved completely uneventful; the combination of my now-fixed talent and fighting style combined with the armor I’d been given was extremely potent, to say the least. Still, I imagine that someone like Jacqueline wouldn’t have had any issues at all. She’d probably have been able to walk right up to the duke’s tent in broad daylight.
Pausing behind the tent, my eyes darted around to confirm that I was in fact alone and well concealed. Once assured of that, I removed a small scroll and began to read what was written on it in a low voice. This was a rather high-tier spell, one specialized in detecting barriers and alarms. None of my talents would allow me to skip the chant for it, and I hadn’t been able to remember the totality without my [Eidetic Memory]. I was close, but still worried that my nerves would make me forget or skip a key phrase and botch it. The solution had been to simply write it down; it wasn’t like I’d be using it in combat or anything.
“…And ##### me #######. [Pass ####### A #####]” After almost a full five minutes of whispered recitation, there was a very faint glow that enveloped my body for an instant before fading. A few tense seconds passed in which I confirmed that nobody had seen it before I felt confident enough to proceed.
Enveloped in the layer of magic as I was, it should be possible to enter the tent without triggering any of its alarms. Of course, the fact that this spell existed meant that there were countermeasures to it, so nothing could be that simple. But like all countermeasures, there were countermeasures to the countermeasures. For most people, they would now use a magic tool or another spell to slip past those enchantments.
That was not what I did. Most countermeasures beyond this point relied on detecting the flow of a person’s mana. They were incredibly precise, but there was a way they could be fooled that took advantage of that precision. Focusing inwards, I grabbed hold of my own mana and activated my divine eyes. This revealed the remaining countermeasure; a barrier that would trigger an alarm if it was cut.
Drawing my dagger, I made a small incision in the back of the tent. The cut was rather meandering and awkward on account of having to weave around the barrier’s pattern, but that just meant it took a bit longer to make. Slipping inside the tent, I took a few steps forward and released my mana flow. Freed, it began to course around my body once more and I felt the sensation as though I’d just emerged from being deep underwater to take a breath.
Haa… Well, only one thing left to do.
I had emerged into the common room of the tent, which was divided into two segments; the common area which held a large table, as well as the sleeping area that was off to one side and opposite the front entrance. I’d have liked to enter directly into the sleeping area, but the barrier’s positioning had precluded that option. That said, it was a quick walk from here to there.
Passing into the room, my eyes beheld the rather impressively large bed with the lump that was Duke Lawrence sleeping in the middle. Between the table and now this, if it wasn’t for the cloth walls then I would have thought we were in a noble’s manor instead of a military camp.
And I’ll have to get to the middle of the bed somehow, without waking him up.
Quickly confirming the room was still undisturbed, I began chanting. This spell was much shorter than the last one I’d used, and one I had memorized the chant to, “Oh Wind, #### me in your ###### #####, with your #### ##### my ##### #### ##### who ###### ###### ##### afar. [Silence]”
The spell was incredibly rudimentary, but could be confidently used here because it was commonly used by nobles for exactly that simplicity; the security barriers that detected spells should be set up to ignore this one. Or so we had thought. The spell did take effect but at the same time an alarm began to blare. If I had been more cold-hearted, more committed, I might have been able to prevent what happened next. With a jump, Duke Lawrence shot upright in bed. Following a furtive look around the room, he managed to spot me; like the novice I was, I had let the sudden alarm startle me. My stealth talent had momentarily lapsed.
His eyes went wide briefly, then, to my surprise, he began to laugh, “Ha. So, he actually sent you to do his dirty work, the damn coward.”