Chapter 24: Jin, the Cadets, the Beastman, and… (2)
“They’ve confirmed three individuals.”
“There’s no way a mere three idiots would attack Runcandel cadets. There are definitely more of them somewhere. Edington, David! Once we get near the campsite, search for the assailants.”
“If you find them, do not engage. Report back to me as fast as possible.”
Jin hadn’t expected the cadets to be attacked by humans instead of beastmen.
‘If they still attacked us despite our Runcandel robes… Are they radical Zipfel followers?’
As they urgently ran, Jin continued to listen to Bellop’s report.
“The assailants were all wearing masks, so Group 2 couldn’t identify them. But they did mention that the attackers were using the most widespread and common long swords in the Zhan Kingdom.”
In that case, it was likely this was the work of insiders from the Zhan Kingdom.
But he still couldn’t put aside the possibility that Zipfel followers were behind this attack. It was possible that they had purposefully used weapons manufactured in Zhan in order to confuse us.
‘If Group 2 managed to escape after the battle, the enemies mustn’t be 5-star knights or higher. The problem is that we don’t know who they are…’
Why had they attacked Group 2?
If they were indeed radical Zipfel followers, and if they had come here after hearing that ‘Runcandel cadets were carrying out a mission in this area’, then they would’ve targeted Group 1 first, as Jin was part of it.
After running non-stop for three hours, the campsite was finally in sight. They would’ve arrived faster if they had travelled through the grasslands instead of the woodlands, but they couldn’t afford to get discovered by the enemies.
Edington and David separated from the group in order to search for the attackers. The only ones remaining near the camp were Jin, Bellop and Sierra.
If they headed towards Group 2’s hiding place now, dawn would arrive. Since they still didn’t know the number of enemies and their forces, the cadets and Jin would be at a disadvantage if light returned.
‘I hope Group 2 hid themselves properly. They’re all skilled kids, so I shouldn’t have to worry too much…’
The remaining three members of Group 1 began to move again. They planned on joining Group 2 at their hideout and waiting for Edington and David to return with details on the assailants.
Jin and the others swiftly arrived at the hideout, but Group 2 was no longer there. All that was left was a letter at the entrance to the cave and puddles of blood on the ground.
“Y-Young Master. This…”
“Looks like they got found already.”
Jin clenched and ground his teeth at this sight.
‘These motherfu… I don’t know who you are, but I will find you, and I will kill you all.’
Jin hadn’t felt anger in a long time. Even during his sudden death in his first life, he felt more despair than rage. And after his regression, he was busy making the most of his new life every day and had no time to think about his emotions.
But this time, his head heated up with rage in an instant.
The bloodstains around the cave all came from children in their teens. Moreover, those children were his subordinates who were following him.
Jin closed his eyes and composed himself before acting rashly. He had to keep a cool head in order to find the enemies and avenge the cadets.
“Calm down, Bellop. The blood hasn’t fully dried yet. It hasn’t been long since they were found.”
Jin spoke to Bellop—who was gasping heavily. There was so much blood that he thought Group 2 had all been killed.
“There’s a lot of blood, but no pieces of flesh or bones. And there aren’t any traces of bodies falling onto the grass. Group 2 managed to escape during the battle. There are many footprints here. But looking at the sizes, it seems there were only a couple of enemies who were searching this area when they were discovered.”
Sierra calmly nodded to Jin’s observations. She was already tracing down Group 2’s movements by examining the footprints and bloodstains.
“They seem to have gone west, Young Master. And there’s a piece of bandage here.”
Jin quickly joined Sierra’s side and observed the strip of bandage. It was most definitely manufactured in Huphester.
“There was one attacker. He must’ve wounded Group 2 before escaping first. Group 2 seems to have stayed here for a moment in order to tend to their wounds but had to escape as they predicted the attackers would return.”
Looking west, Jin would see a long path of grass being stepped on. Since there were no traces of horse hoof prints and only human footprints along with bloodstains, there was no reason for Jin to hesitate.
“Sierra, hide in this area and wait for Edington and David to return. Then come rejoin us. We’ll go after them, Bellop.”
They were puffing and blowing as they ran at full speed. As none of them had slept a wink and spent the entire night running and searching, their stamina was nearing its limits.
Bellop was exhausted just from keeping up with Jin, but the latter wasn’t too worried right now. As long as there were five or less 4-star warriors to face, Jin could easily deal with them all.
In fact, the one thing that concerned him was how he’d use mana and spiritual power without the cadets noticing, but he didn’t drown himself in those worries.
He cared more about saving the cadets than keeping his secret hidden.
‘Metallic sounds! The cadets are fighting people!’
Jin and Bellop’s rushed pursuit was fruitful. After around 30 minutes of chase, they could hear noises in the distance. Bellop also noticed the sounds. They both stopped on their tracks to find the source.
Jin stopped his breath and scanned his surroundings, checking if any enemies had followed them as well.
‘We will move undercover from now on, Bellop.’
‘But Group 2 is fighting the enemies right now, Young Master.’
‘We’re in a forest right now. Instead of announcing our arrival to everyone, it’s better to sneak behind the attackers and strike them in surprise. If there aren’t many enemies, we can end this within a few seconds.’
As the two covertly travelled between the trees and approached the source of the noises, they could finally check on the cadets of Group 2.
They were in the middle of combat in the center of the forest. None of them had received fatal wounds such as amputations, but everyone had minor injuries such as small cuts around their bodies.
‘Scott, Kiko, Zhushen… Where’s Mesa?’
He could only see three cadets.
(T/N & PR/N: #JusticeForTaimont!)
The masked enemies numbered two. Seeing their movements, Jin came to the conclusion that they were indeed 4-star warriors.
‘We’ll strike them from behind simultaneously at my signal. I’ll take the left, you take the right… Wait, no. Do you have a dagger with you?’
Bellop took out a dagger stored in his chest strap.
‘Close your eyes.’
Why was Jin telling him to close his eyes in a situation like this?
Bellop wasn’t the type of person to ask himself such questions. If the Young Master ordered him to close his eyes, he would close his eyes. Once Bellop did so, Jin covered the dagger in spiritual energy.
Spiritual power could enhance the cutting and destructive power of a weapon like aura.
However, it had one more effect. When a weapon is covered in spiritual energy, the object’s existence and presence thins out. Therefore, it could greatly increase the chances of success of a surprise attack, especially if one accurately threw the dagger without making a sound.
‘Listen carefully, Bellop. As soon as I’m done talking, wait for two more seconds and go attack the enemy on the left.’
As soon as he finished whispering, Jin threw the darkened dagger. The blade cut the wind as it zoomed across the forest, and lodged itself in the back of the rightmost enemy’s head.
The attacker that was swinging his sword around immediately stopped moving. But before his ally on the left could even turn his head to check on him, Bellop ran up to him from behind and swung his sword down the surviving enemy’s back.
The assailant quickly noticed the attack and turned around to parry Bellop’s sword, but had his Achilles tendon cut by Jin’s follow-up surprise attack.
Jin didn’t reap the attacker’s life immediately, and striked the back of his head and his temple with the pommel of his sword. And as the enemy fell to the ground half-unconscious, Jin pressed his knee onto his nape and completely suppressed him.
The Group 2 cadets ran up to Jin. Their faces were painted with relief and hope for their survival, but was soon followed by the despair of having ruined the young master’s very first mission.
“Is everyone alright? Do you know who sent this bastard?”
Jin slammed his fist down on the attacker’s calf as he kept groaning and wheezing. He also put more strength in his knee to dunk the assailant’s head in the mud.
“We’re okay. But Mesa was… captured by them.”
“We have failed you, Young Master.”
Jin exhaled deeply and grabbed the surviving assailant by the hair and removed his mask. It was the face of a 30-something-year-old man he had never seen before.
“The ones who’ve failed are him and his boss. You guys take care of your injuries for now. Scott seems to have been wounded the most.”
“You want me to spare you?”
Jin couldn’t help but let out a sarcastic chuckle at the assailant’s words.
‘Doesn’t seem to be a Zipfel follower since he cares for his life.’
‘Spare me’ aren’t the first words a bold and reckless person would say after daring to attack Runcandel cadets.
“You should’ve said that before attacking my subordinates. You have two choices right now. Either you tell us your affiliation and why you attacked us along with where your headquarters are, and we’ll kill you—and only you—painlessly.”
Jin spoke as he slapped the assailant’s cheeks from side to side.
“Or you keep your mouth shut, and the Runcandel Clan will kill anyone and everyone related to you in the most painful manner that exists. Choose wisely.”
The attacker’s eyes trembled as he listened to Jin’s cold voice.
“You don’t have a lot of time to think. Make a choice already.”
“Will… Will you really kill… only me if I talk? I know that… the revenge of the Runcandels… is never this merciful…”
“That’s usually the case. But I am someone who keeps my promises. My name is Jin Runcandel. If you talk, your family and friends won’t be put in harm’s way. I put my honor and the clan’s honor on the line.”
The attacker turned his gaze to observe the cadets. They simply stood quietly and nodded.
“I will talk.”
“A wise choice.”
“I am from a revolutionary group called ‘Kinzelo’.”
As soon as he heard the name, Jin remembered an incident which created an uproar and shook the Zhan Kingdom in his first life. It was the large-scale terror attack committed by the self-proclaimed ‘revolutionary group’ Kinzelo.
Kinzelo was different compared to the radical followers of the Zipfel Clan.
The Zipfel followers only targeted the Runcandels when performing terror attacks, but Kinzelo’s area of activity was all around the world. They were crazy lunatics who believed that their king had to become the king of the world in order for their ‘revolution’ to be complete.
‘Kinzelo had ties with the beastmen and caused so much chaos. They became famous for assassinating the King of Zhan and massacring so many civilians.’
However, Jin didn’t know what happened to Kinzelo afterwards. He only knew that they were still active and thriving around the time he died.
“A revolutionary group… I see now. You planned on attacking Runcandel cadets, causing disorder in the Zhan Kingdom, right?”
“I’m only a low-ranked member, so I don’t know that much. I also don’t know the location of our headquarters, but the branch I was part of is located at the entrance of the beastmen’s territory. There are around 20 members in that branch.”
“I see. I’ll ask one last question. Why did you capture Mesa?”
The attacker shook his head and sighed.
“For propaganda. Apparently, the superiors ordered us to capture the female cadets alive if possible in order to use them for propaganda and publicity for the revolution…”
“What a foul story.”
Jin pulled Bradamante out of its scabbard, and the attacker closed his eyes.
“With this, I have kept my promise.”
A head fell to the ground, and Jin swung his sword one last time to remove the blood on his blade.
‘The situation is dire. We don’t have time to ask for reinforcements from the clan. I’ll have to go on my own.’