<Chapter 24. Operation – Bro, why are you there? – 1>
[As expected… Impressive, very impressive.]
“You’re too kind.”
Lee Shin Woo was meeting with Count (or who used to be) Nellopa, the lord of the satellite city, Kadinan in a reception room. He was like a mummy who was all skin and bones, and according to Lee Shin Woo’s assessment, his name showed up as [Lv6 Undead Commander].
He was already well aware that the higher leveled the undead, the more likely they were to not be bound by the form of a mere skeleton or zombie, so he wasn’t very surprised by it. At the same time, he could easily tell that the lord’s intellect… was higher than a normal undead as well.
[Ahem… Is Marquis Setapen… doing well?]
“I have not been in contact with him, as it has been some time since he left his estate, but there are trustworthy knights by his side.”
[Marquis Setapen’s knights… are renowned for their valor. Indeed. I had thought he would pass on all of his forces along with his estate, but to think that he had kept people like you by his side; what a sly old fox… Ahem, he’s a powerful man.]
The undead were truly mysterious. Even if the undead possessed a similar level of intellect, when thrust into a combat scenario, several undead recklessly threw themselves into the fight; on the other hand, if they met other undead, and remembered their status when they were alive, they would act the part.
There was an extremely thin line between insanity and normalcy for them; only by understanding and arbitrating between that line would one be able to command them. For the past half year, Lee Shin Woo had encountered countless undead and had roughly been able to ascertain how to do this.
[But… is it really alright for you to help us?]
“The Empire is in danger. Must I say anything else?”
[Hmm… You’re right. Absolutely right. You truly are extraordinary!]
That sense that allowed him to turn the conversation to the present situation, regardless of what the other was saying! He didn’t know how he felt about Marquis Setapen, but now wasn’t the time for Lee Shin Woo to be worrying about something like that!
As he thought, because of his statement advocating their cause, the Undead Commander, Count Nellopa nodded his head in satisfaction.
[Then, could I ask you to do something? Since surveillance has been tough with just the knights we have.]
“Of course. Please do.”
And thus, Lee Shin Woo much too casually and successfully infiltrated the city, Kadinan. The lord didn’t call one of the 12 generals, Lee Shin Woo had entered the city, and they got the opportunity to scout out the area all at once.
Jin was speechless as he saw Lee Shin Woo march out of the reception area (as Jin obviously couldn’t go in), where the level 6 undead lord, the Knight Leader (a level 5 Elder Knight), as well as undead wizards resided.
‘Nice. Then, shall we begin?’
Now, operation ‘Bro, why are you there?’ had begun in earnest! Lee Shin Woo volunteered to patrol the outskirts so that he would avoid the lord’s suspicion; he pricked his ears and activated his mana senses, and then began patrolling his allotted area.
[Sir Seta. Thank you for all your hard work!]
“You’re working hard as well. Are you on your way back from patrolling?”
[That’s correct. I was patrolling an important, protected area. Hundreds of knights go through dozens of routes in order to patrol so that there’s no gap in our defenses.]
And in the process, Lee Shin Woo got closer to the other knights, and obviously acquired some information as well. For reference, they were telling him about the protected area; all the knights that had participated in human testing were buried there.
[Your horse is quite splendid, Sir Seta.]
“Haha, thanks. You’re a full-fledged knight as well; don’t you have a horse as well?”
[That’s… For some reason, all of the living horses in the city died. There are countless knights in the city without a horse.]
To think that all of the horses had died. There should only be dead horses in the Empire by now… is what he thought, yet Lee Shin Woo didn’t utter those words.
“How unfortunate. If I have the chance, I’ll find a good horse for you.”
[Thank you very much!]
‘There’re two over here. And it looks like they’re the only three disguised on the western outskirts, but there’s actually one more hiding there as well.’
Though they were all undead, the dead in Kadinan, and especially the knights, trusted Lee Shin Woo, as he emphasized loyalty to the Empire. The most important virtue for a knight within the Empire was strength, while the second most important virtue was loyalty.
“Hmm. It seems that the north side’s defense isn’t up to par. Shouldn’t we adjust the patrol route a bit?”
Moreover, Lee Shin Woo made it seem like he was concerned about the defense of the city and their patrols while in actuality, he was fishing for information; he acted like he actually had some ‘recommendations’ for them, so the undead didn’t even suspect Lee Shin Woo in the slightest. There was no way for them to be suspicious of him.
[You truly are perceptive, Sir Seta. However, there’s a hidden magic trap over there, so…]
“As I suspected. As I thought, Kadinan is truly an impressive city.”
‘Ok. I wondered if they knew about it, but it seems like these guys really don’t know that their magic trap is broken and still think it’s working… If that’s the case, then I can say that there’re really no reserve troops over there.’
Lee Shin Woo enthusiastically continued patrolling and collecting information; as a result, he figured out their patrol routes, the scope of the patrol, when they changed shifts, and even the route by which they were deployed and returned. It only took him a couple of days to successfully figure this all out, and organized the information in his head such that it was much simpler.
“Good. Then we should…”
“How the hell did you get such detailed information!?”
Jin, who had definitely been with Lee Shin Woo at every moment, watched as Lee Shin Woo organized the information on paper. He started with the outskirts and their complicated patrolling routes. Once he saw Lee Shin Woo detailing where and when the knights were stationed at each and every moment, he couldn’t understand how he had come up with it all. However, once he looked over the details, he couldn’t deny that it looked accurate.
“This is way too easy. We can already infiltrate the facility, huh?”
“…Then let’s get rid of that operation or whatever you call it, and just go for the facility right now.”
“But think about it, Jin. Do you really think all they’re doing is patrolling the area with some knights? Especially when they’re so protective of this place? Even when they have a way to communicate with the 12 generals in place?”
There was a single level 6 magician along with several level 5 magicians in the city. Above all, Lee Shin Woo was most wary of the magicians, whose ability was to change mana to enact miracles; he had no idea what they could do!
Lee Shin Woo was sure that they were involved in all this, so he couldn’t move in haste and make a mistake that shows any sort of weakness. Rather, now was most important!
[Ah, Sir Seta. Thank you for all your hard work!]
[Sir Seta, please rest well!]
“You guys worked hard, too. Good work.”
‘One would think that you were born as an aristocrat.’
Lee Shin Woo, who’d completely explored the outskirts in only two days, was off duty, and after changing shifts with other knights, observed the magicians’ movements in a way that wouldn’t arouse suspicion, whilst also searching for the ‘hot line’ that he assumed allowed the lord to communicate with the 12 generals.
In order to do so, he would need to get closer to the lord.
“My lord, it is I, Sir Seta.”
[Ooh, Sir Seta. Have you been comfortable here?]
“Yes. I am quite comfortable due to your consideration.”
Though that ‘consideration’ only really included accommodations outside where he could keep his horse, that was more than enough for Lee Shin Woo.
The location of his accommodations was also excellent. Though he could inspect the outside from the inside, the same couldn’t be said of the reverse; in order to watch their movements, one would have to get within a certain distance, which was especially pleasing to Lee Shin Woo.
[Then, what have you come for? …If you wanted to ask about the imperial command, I apologize, but I can’t tell you much. It’s not because I can’t trust you. It’s quite sensitive information, so please understand.]
“Ah. Please don’t apologize. I don’t have the authority to ask for such information. Rather… if it’s alright with you, my lord, I could take over some of the patrols in the inner city that have been ignored as a result of the knights following the imperial command.”
Announcing his intention to break away from the main task at hand, upholding the imperial command, meant that, in other words, Lee Shin Woo really wanted to help, but he wasn’t really interested in detailed information!
[Mm, you truly are…]
The lord was slightly moved by his words. This man was genuinely trying to help him! He was acting loyally to the Emperor, without any suspicions or putting up any fronts! To think that there was still a knight like this in the Empire…!
‘Of course, I’ve already explored as much as I could on the outside, so now it’s time I look inside as well.’
Seeing the Undead Commander, who was completely moved by him, Lee Shin Woo inwardly smiled a rotten smile. If Jin was with him, he would be shocked by how the meaning of words changed based on how one said them.
[If that’s really what you want, then… then can you do it for me? This is also a part of upholding the imperial command.]
“The more important the mission, the more one must focus on the task. My lord, you are the one who was issued the imperial command. Does that not mean that your safety is paramount, my lord?”
[Indeed. Marquis Setapen must’ve felt reassured having you by his side. Hohoho!]
Though it was a special situation because he was upholding the imperial command, Lee Shin Woo was much too easily able to gain access to the inner city. Since most of the knights were assigned to the mission area, Lee Shin Woo could move freely through the inner city.
Of course, because he didn’t know who was watching and where, he kept up the facade of a truly earnest guard. He wasn’t even this perfect when he was in the army and assigned to a guard post.
“How is it over there?”
[Jin Taylor – There are magicians above the walls, but they’re not really doing anything special.]
“Move around and look for places that have an excessive concentration of mana, or check if they make any sort of suspicious hand gestures.”
[Jin Taylor – Ok, I got it.]
If he’s going to search the inner city, then Jin would be responsible for exploring the outskirts. Lee Shin Woo asked if it was ok if Jin could move around, since he would be bored being tied down. The lord readily nodded, stating that so long as Jin didn’t cause a fuss, there was no reason that his horse couldn’t move around freely.
And that was really a mistake. Of course, it wasn’t easy to figure out that Jin was an undead horse, let alone a hero, especially when the other heroes couldn’t easily figure it out either!
‘There are quite a few magicians, but there are a lot less of them than the knights. If I can just figure out when they all gather in one place, it shouldn’t be difficult for me to wipe them out all at once.’
Outwardly, it looked as though Lee Shin Woo was emitting a cool-headed vibe, but in actuality, Lee Shin Woo’s head was turning, busily studying the state of the soldiers deployed on the outskirts and the inner city. All while keeping a close eye on the movements of the magicians, especially on the level 6 Magician Leader.
‘If this guy can’t, then the lord must be the one who can communicate with the 12 generals. I’m sure of it.’
If he could just figure out which one for sure… then ‘Operation: Bro, why are you there?’ could move on to the next stage. Lee Shin Woo’s goblin fire blazed; the plan was going really smoothly.