"Then what do you all think about the barbarian king?" Larwin said as he swooped his gaze across the room.
"Your Imperial Majesty," Andro began gingerly, "since normal experts wouldn't be able to take care of him, can't we request Mister Marolyt to do it?"
"That is our last resort," Larwin said with a shrug, "Mister Marolyt is our guest. He is not obligated to help our empire deal with our problems. The first emperor before me promised him exactly that to convince him to stay in Melindor. Unless we have no other choice, it's best for us to not trouble him."
Even though he lived off us for free for so many years, he doesn't want to help out in the slightest. Galestorm Swordsaint? More like Deadbeat Stingypauper. How shameless of him, Andro couldn't help but think. While the money the empire spent on Marolyt wasn't that much, Andro was still quite dissatisfied with wasting gold coin on someone who won't repay the investment in the slightest.
Your Imperial Majesty," Alfreid finally said, "I think we ought to rely on Sir Leguna to deal with the barbarian king in the end."
"Me?" Leguna said with a start. Even though assassination and intelligence gathering was the bureau's job, even Leguna couldn't be certain that he would be able to succeed in assassinating Legg directly. He was an 18th-stratum pureblood barbarian. He was definitely not Legg's match in an all-out fight unless he used Host of Darkness to a certain level. However, Gahrona and Marolyt's frequent warnings caused him to use the gift far less than before.
In fact, after Marolyt chided him about it, Leguna looked for Alissanda for a few more times to be cleansed by his holy impetus. Even though it hurt so bad that it was worse than death, Leguna was surprised to find himself far less affected by the bloodlust side effect of Host of Darkness after the torturous cleansing. He could also somewhat use Host of Darkness in daylight.
Even though he could only use it up to the third stage so far, it still gave him a slight boost while fighting in daylight, which was undoubtedly good news for him. Even so, Shadow Blink was still restricted to night times or dark surroundings only.
"That's right," Alfreid said with a calm nod, "I believe Sir Leguna would be capable of it"
"But I don't even have a clue how to go about it. To be honest, if I go in directly for an assassination, I only stand a thirty percent chance of success." He shrugged helplessly.
"Then you can use poison or buy out his subordinates or even set them against each other," Larwin said, "Whatever methods you take, I hope you can kill him within one month."
Leguna considered the matter deeply. While he wasn't keen on using underhanded methods, after Gahrona's reminder, he felt much less resistant to the idea.
"It's not impossible to have him killed," Leguna said after some thought, "But I believe I will need to go to the northern highlands as a Hockian messenger."
"Oh?" Larwin looked amused. "You want to approach him under the guise as the empire's ambassador?"
"That's right. We also had some interaction before, so I believe we can try other methods to test his stance on the matter before resorting to assassination. It'll be ideal if we can solve this issue with diplomacy, but if we can't, I can assassinate him with the cover of the envoy escort."
"But won't this stain the empire's reputation?" Larwin began to hesitate. The subjects of the empire respected strength and power and held ideals similar to that of chivalry. Larwin was worried that this incident would incite the displeasure of the empire's subjects, and he was quite surprised that a youth like Leguna would think up such a dastardly plot.
"I believe that is the best way to proceed in order to stop the chaos caused by the barbarians," Alfreid added, "As for whether it puts us in a good light, it is of little consequence compared to the havoc the barbarians can wreak."
Needless to say, the emperor wasn't one to shy from doing something just because it would look bad. He gave it some thought and made his decision. "Since that's the case... Leguna!"
"I await your orders." He lowered his head and said. Perhaps it was due to his age, but he wasn't accustomed to calling himself 'your humble servant'. He opted instead to talk to the emperor in a respectful, but not too stiff manner. While some officials initially had some reservations about it, they stopped minding after seeing that Larwin didn't care much for it.
"I will leave the matter of the barbarians to you. Whether it be diplomacy or assassination or some other method, you are free to do so as long as you can stop the barbarians from invading our empire. We shall allow you to proceed as an ambassador of our empire and will cooperate with you however we can."
"Understood, Your Imperial Majesty!"
Leguna returned to the bureau with a heavy heart. Even though he confidently accepted the assignment, his head started to hurt when he properly thought about how to go about the whole thing. His target was an 18th-stratum berserker and also gifted, after all. He wasn't certain of his chances if they ever got into a fight.
Strictly speaking, Legg shouldn't be stronger than Saron. But while Saron was a sadistic and arrogant person, he would at least feel fear. Legg was completely different. It wouldn't be a stretch to call him broken either. Leguna didn't believe that things like fear or death would affect Legg.
He was also a berserker. Even though they were considered warriors, the distinction alone was enough to strike fear in the hearts of many. There were also berserkers among normal humans. Strictly speaking, Londo could be considered to be one too. But Legg on the other hand was in a whole different league.
The way Leguna saw it, berserkers were warriors that fought on the border of insanity. They would fight to their deaths, ignoring pain and showing no mercy with a singular focus and drive. It was said that berserkers could consciously seal off their emotions and rationality and turn into a killing machine. They would even attack their teammates when they lost control.
That kind of terrifying fighting method earned the berserkers their unique reputation. Leguna hated fighting those types the most as their relentless and borderline suicidal attacks left him little room to counterattack. After the first clash, there would no longer be any room for negotiation or peace talks, only a fight to the death.
So, even though he thought that Legg was slightly weaker than Saron, he would rather take Saron on than Legg any day. The terrifying experience he had in the tournament fighting him still left a bad aftertaste in his mouth.
After some consideration, he summoned Arikos and Xeno to discuss who to bring along the mission. Leguna had wanted to leave Arikos to deal with all the paperwork in the bureau initially, but the petite man surprisingly opted to follow along.
"Assassination is not the only thing we're trying to achieve. You'll have to try to negotiate for peace or instill conflict among themselves! How could anyone fall for your schemes with your little experience? I'll help you plan it out if you take me along! But let me state it clearly first that you'll be the one doing most of the fighting if it ever comes to that!" Arikos said back then.
Leguna reasoned that Arikos made quite a lot of sense and agreed to go with his idea. However, that would mean that Xeno, who was still under probation, would be taking the helm for the time being.
Xeno was a Stokian, after all, and Leguna didn't feel too assured to leave the bureau in his hands. So, he had no choice but to get Gerd, someone he trusted more, to help out. On one hand, that would decrease the load of work expected from Xeno and he would also have an eye on him as well.
While that was an obvious sign of doubt Leguna had for him, Xeno didn't appear to mind and said that he would carry out the duties he was put in charge of. Instead Gerd complained about being assigned to work together with someone he was tasked to keep an eye out for before.
"I still haven't got back to you about what happened to Innie, and you dare to start complaining?"
Gerd didn't say anything else upon hearing that. It didn't stop him from putting up a bad look when he worked as a silent protest. He already knew that Leguna wasn't someone that cared for those antics, so he knew that he no longer had to pretend to be obedient before him. Xeno's goodie-two-shoes act on the other hand seemed a little unnatural.
Since Leguna was going to leave Melindor, he often took time to pay the recovering Innilis a visit. Though the girl suffered quite a fright during the attack, none of it seemed to linger during her treatment. She was quite happy to see Leguna during his visits.
He did try to keep word of him leaving on a mission secret, however. He didn't want to make Annelotte and the others worry for him after being reminded by Myr. He was certain that Annelotte would tag along no matter what if she found out.
But somehow, word of it still spread. She managed to find out about his departure in the last minute. The moment she got wind of it, she dropped her work in a hurry and ran to question him.
"You're leaving Melindor? Why didn't you notify me?" Annelotte asked after roughing him up.
Previous Chapter Next Chapter