“Man, how was I unaware that the lens had this ability until now?”
Isaac hummed as he strolled through the streets, whisking the pen in his hand all over ground as if he was a conductor in an orchestra.
The echo of an explosion from afar reached Isaac’s ears. He smirked.
“It’s a good thing I spent so much money.”
It seemed as clear as day that the knight’s friends would try to clean up the corpse, so he placed an eggbomb under the dead knight’s stomach as a present. He snickered, imagining how many were caught in the explosion as he continued to draw a magic circle on the ground. After finishing his work, he remained crouched, carefully observing the magic circle he had just drawn.
“This is fascinating.”
Isaac never memorised the magic circles. He merely glossed over the book with an understanding that he could simply copy the circles from the book if need be. But when Isaac wanted to remember a magic circle he wanted to draw, the image of the circle popped up in his head like a photo, and all Isaac had to do was follow the lines.
Ever since Isaac escaped from the mine, he contemplated on how he’d get a magic circle powerful enough to turn the tide of battle. It seemed impossible to get a hold of a magic circle powerful enough whilst avoiding watchful eyes, but it also seemed too unreliable to use weak magic circles. But Isaac realised that he could have powerful magic circles without needing to read about them.
Whoever had this lens and pen beforehand drew a magic circle that only Isaac could see once he had the lens on in that room. Although Isaac wanted to reconstruct the magic circle as best he could from his memories, he never expected the magic circle to work properly since he had very little confidence in his memory. Plus, he never had the time or space to test the circle.
The backlash from the magic circle’s failure to activate was what Isaac was relying on. The strength of the recoil from a poorly drawn magic circle was directly proportional to how strong the magic circle was supposed to be. Isaac drew tens of these summoning magic circles on papers hidden within his coat, relying not on the actual summoning but on the destruction caused by the backlash.
But just when he was about to scatter these papers behind him, the magic circle’s image appeared in his left eye where the lens was, and when Isaac decided to draw the circle, the pen came out of his index finger and his hand moved automatically.
What was more interesting was how he was instantly recalling how to use the pen despite being completely unaware of all its functions. It was almost as if someone was drilling the instructions directly into his brain.
“What am I supposed to call it? A macro? Copy paste? Was it the Queen who made this? I’d like to see her face one day.”
What seemed like an extremely convoluted magic circle in his eyes was completed within seconds. Isaac drew the activation magic circle next to it, ripped one of the mana crystals from his coat and shoved it into the magic circle. He then threw away his cigarette and activated the magic circle.
The funny part about an activation magic circle was that one could set it to activate at a specific time. Confirming that the magic circle was functioning properly, he decided to make his escape, hearing the sudden alarm bells echoing throughout the castle in response to the sudden explosion.
“I guess I should leave it like this. I don’t even have many cigarettes left now.”
Although Isaac still had plenty of mana crystals, he only had a few cigarettes left, which was the most important ingredient. In truth, there were plenty of cigarettes left if Isaac used them for the sole purpose of creating magic circles, but Isaac needed to save some for his habit too.
Isaac looked about his surroundings, and decided to climb up the castle wall in order to get a better idea of his current location.
“Ohoh. It works! Time to be spider man.”
Isaac drew some adhesion magic circles on his hands and began to climb up the wall. It had been a while since Isaac’s body had suffered physical labour, and he had to catch his breath while sitting on the edge of the walls once he finished climbing.
“Maybe I need to work out some more.”
Isaac looked about with beads of sweat dripping from his face. Beyond the wall laid a dense forest, but Isaac still had no clue as to where he was. Seeing that there were knights and soldiers moving about, Isaac assumed this was some sort of fiefdom, and Isaac wasn’t sure if the Dark Royale had even Lords as their subordinates or if this was a place where a high-ranking member of the Dark Royale resided.
Isaac blankly watched the castle. Screams and shouts echoed throughout the castle, and a fire seemed to have started from afar, seeing a cloud of smoke rising into the air. Just when Isaac felt like something was amiss, a spear flew across the air and struck Isaac.
A blue light emitted from the coat Isaac was wearing, accompanied by the sound of shattering glass. It deflected the spear without any shock, and one of the mana crystals in his coat turned to dust.
“Oh! So this is why people are so obsessed over the name value.”
Isaac muttered those words of admiration without a shred of surprise. Isaac didn’t even need to feel embarrassed for letting his guard down if this was the power of his coat. It wouldn’t always be the case that it didn’t function the way it’s supposed to.
Isaac looked around to see who the culprit was. Viscount Luken, drenched in the blood of monsters, stepped forward with a murderous glare. Isaac pulled out a new cigarette and asked.
“… You will die here.”
Isaac made a troubled face and spoke back.
“I didn’t think you’d find me so quickly? Did you put some tracking device on me?”
“I knew it! So it was you! Was it you who placed those summoning circles to buy time? Ha! Then I suspect you’re surprised to see us find you so quickly! You spaced out the summoning circles evenly, but you set them up in a straight line! Did you never consider that we’d find you immediately if we focused all of our forces toward that direction? I can’t tell if you’re smart or stupid at this point.”
‘Ah, of course.’
Isaac did spread those summoning circles in an attempt to cause confusion, but now that he remembered, he did so whilst walking to the walls. That explained why all the strings of smoke followed a straight line. It would have been simple enough for them if they followed where the monsters were.
Whilst Isaac was busy being consumed by embarrassment at his own stupidity, soldiers and knights gathered both on the walls and on the ground, surrounding him.
“So where is this place?”
Isaac asked the question, unphased by the fact that he was surrounded. Luken answered him as he grit his teeth.
“A dead man ought not to know.”
Isaac smirked. He crossed his legs, spread his arms out and asked Luken.
“Really? I’m going to die you say? How are you going to manage that?”
“… Can you continue to act so carefree even after all of the mana crystals you have are spent?”
“And how long is that going to take?”
Seeing Isaac’s belittling smile, Viscount Luken raised his left hand. The knights behind Isaac raised their swords in response, and began to approach Isaac. Isaac smiled, glancing at the knights who inched their way to him.
“Do you really think I’ll let myself be captured so easily?”
Isaac waved his right hand as if he was dancing to music. As he did, a red light shone from where the knights stood. The knights quickly jumped back, and three gnolls showed themselves from the magic circle.
The gnolls seemed confused as to where they were at first, but after seeing their meals arranged in front of them, they instinctively jumped at the knights.
“Kuk! Stop them!”
Whilst a fight broke out between the gnolls and the knights, there was more chaos under the walls. A manticore suddenly emerged from the middle of the formation, and a cerberus appeared atop the castle wall.
“There’s more here! Kill it!”
The soldiers ran about in a panic after witnessing these monsters for the first time, some of them immediately collapsing onto the ground. The knights tried to control the soldiers whilst combatting the monsters, but the situation slowly got out of hand as more and more monsters showed themselves.
“Another one here!”
“Aak! Help me!”
“Knights! Focus on killing the monsters!”
Leaving the monsters which were growing in number by the minute to the knights, Viscount Luken ran and jumped up the castle wall.
“You! Where do you think you’re going?”
Isaac turned around to see Viscount Luken. Isaac smiled and pointed to the forest. He stepped to the edge of the wall and looked towards the forest before spinning around to meet Viscount Luken face to face again. In response, Viscount Luken threw the sword in his hand at Isaac.
“I’ll see you later.”
Viscount Luken threw the sword with all his strength, but a blue barrier blocked the sword with ease. Isaac waved at Luken leisurely and jumped off the wall.
“Uaaah! I will kill you no matter what!”
Although Luken wanted to chase after Isaac immediately, there was nothing he could do alone. The only method he had was surrounding Isaac to prevent him from escaping and attacking him until all of his mana crystals were spent. His first course of action was to deal with the rampaging monsters in the castle. Once the situation was under control, he had to lead all of his soldiers outside, surround the forest, and then corner Isaac. Thankfully, the forest Isaac ran to was close to his army’s encampment.
“Messenger! Go to the army at the outer wall and tell them to surround Arden Forest! Let not a single rat escape from the forest!”
“Shit! How are we supposed to find anyone in a darkness like this?”
“The real question is how we are supposed to find the right person when we don’t even know who we’re looking for.”
“It’s a warlock from what I overheard the knights saying.”
“A warlock? Why is a warlock appearing all of a sudden?”
“How would I know? But it sounds really bad. They say monsters appeared in the inner walls of the castle. I hear many died from the attack. Not just the soldiers but some of the knights too.”
“Shit! My cousin was working at the inner wall!”
“I’m sure he made his way out safely.”
“Do you really think monsters are picky about what they eat?”
“I mean, I do feel sorry for those who died, but I’m just relieved we weren’t there when all of that happened.”
“You have a point. But I guess we aren’t so lucky for being deployed so suddenly just because we were the closest ones to Arden Forest.”
“Hey, I heard the Lord has put a bounty of 1000 Giga if we capture the warlock.”
“Really? 1000 Giga!”
“Yeah. And I hear the warlock gravely wounded our Lord when he made his escape. So whoever feels lucky should lead the way. We have to capture the warlock ourselves if we don’t want others trying to take their share of the bounty.”
“Wow! We could play around for the rest of our lives if we capture the warlock!”
“You think that’s all? We could even become guard captains.”
“Shit! Don’t start giving me ideas already. But what I am sure of is that we’ll always get a free round of drinks for the rest of our lives. Huhuhu.”
Night time in the forest was something to fear. Within the dark abyss, the soldiers’ torch lit the area just enough for them to see their surroundings. The three soldiers haphazardly clambered through the area, ploughing through bushes and branches all the while badmouthing Isaac for forcing them to suffer so late at night in order to suppress the fear that was slowly eating away at their hearts.
As the torches slowly drifted away, Isaac peeked his head out from one of the bushes and muttered to himself, dumbfounded.
“What the, who are those retards?”
They didn’t seem to have even the most basic understanding of how to conduct a search. Just getting the correct sense of direction was difficult in such a dark forest. Viscount Luken had to capture Isaac no matter what, so it was obvious that he was going to have his men surround the forest.
And lo and behold, Isaac saw a torch flickering from afar. Isaac considered summoning another monster, but the monsters didn’t really distinguish between what they were attacking. In the worst case scenario, the monster could end up attacking him instead and eat away at his precious mana crystals.
So Isaac camouflaged the area by breaking some of the branches and shoved himself into one of the bushes. The soldiers complained and passed Isaac by as they performed what they considered to be a search. Isaac almost felt stupid for being so tensed up, seeing them act with so little motivation.
“Time for me to gather some information.”
Having decided on his next course of action, Isaac began stalking the dim torchlight silently.
Subduing the soldiers was simple enough. Isaac stalked the group until one of the three split away to take a bathroom break. After eliminating him, Isaac moved on to crushing the back of the skull of one of the soldiers who took their helmet off while waiting for their friend, and he subdued the remaining soldier, who was stunned at what had just happened. Isaac tied the soldier up and began interrogating him.
“So you’re saying this is Viscount Luken’s fiefdom?”
“T, that’s right.”
“Does that mean even Lords work for Central?”
There really was no way out since it was one of Central’s schemes; it may as well be the will of the Empire. No, they told Isaac that they had been watching him ever since he fell into this world, so Isaac had been dancing in the palm of their hands all along.
“Sigh. It pisses me off the more I think about it.”
It really irritated Isaac. They must have been laughing at Isaac all this time, seeing him make a fool of himself all the while acting innocent and naïve. Isaac really wanted to get back at them somehow, but his options were limited now that he had lost most of his tools.
“I never planned on running, but it seems like I have nowhere to go even if I do escape. I guess this will be my last stand now.”
It was the perfect situation. Since he was going to die, he may as well bring as many people with him as companions so he doesn’t get bored. It would be best if that Ismael and the old or middle-aged warlock was here too. But seeing that neither of them was showing their faces despite the chaos, they were likely somewhere else.
But it was likely that they were going to make a move now that Isaac had escaped. Those two would be the perfect companions for the trip to the afterlife.
“I’ll be able to survive a few days if I’m lucky. I hope they show themselves by then…”
Isaac fell deep into thought and the soldier squeezed his voice out as he watched Isaac carefully.
“You’ll let me live right?”
“Ah! Were you still here? Sorry, sorry. Goodbye.”
Isaac approached the soldier as if he’d forgotten and slit the soldier’s throat.
“Man, was it always so easy to cut someone’s throat? Do they just have great manufacturing techniques? Or did they imbue some magic into this?”
Isaac muttered those words as he wiped off the blood on the knife with the dying soldier’s clothes. The soldier struggled on the ground, but his body was quickly becoming cold. Isaac gathered the bodies of the dead soldiers, stripped off their equipment, and looted their bodies for rations.
“Let’s see. Long sword, dagger, leather armour, and a helmet. And just simple snacks as rations.”
After looting the soldier’s belongings, Isaac noticed a glint of light and voices from afar. Isaac quietly disappeared back into the darkness.