< Evade the Hero and Flee! 165 #19. Life is a continuous escape (6)>
Spreading rumours around proved to be so simple.
The princess was already called the most beautiful woman in the north, after all! And our dear hero had rescued her from the clutches of an evil dragon!
This story was already burning vigorously without me doing anything to it. But not only did I pour extra fuel on it, I even fanned the flames too, so how could it not burn like crazy?
And on top of that, I joined hands with said princess and began pressuring the nobles politically, too.
We secretly uncovered their corrupted ways, made them shut their traps and turned them into our allies.
This was the technique the Imperial Princess employed to periodically rob the imperial court clean, which was basically a den of devils as far as I was concerned.
All those nobles, panicking grandly after failing to figure out how they were robbed! The technique of gradually stripping those nobles down to their undies was so stupendous that even the prince, helping us out at the Ice Cream Princess’s request, was freaking out!
She thanked me for teaching a high-level technique and even rewarded me with a rather fat bonus on top, as well.
Once the high-ranked nobles got robbed blind one by one, causing them to shut their mouths, it didn’t take the lower-ranked nobles that long to figure out that something was wrong, prompting them to shut their mouths as well.
The princess, satisfied by the willing silence of the nobles, borrowed the mouth of the royal court and began to whisper certain things.
-Touch my hero, and I shall kill you all.
Uwaah. Damn scary…
I had experienced similar things many times in the past but the Ice Cream Princess’s threat was still powerful enough to make me shudder nonetheless.
But her threat proved to be super-effective in the end!
Nobles seemed to be shocked by another side to their previously gentle and reserved princess and nodded their heads in obedience.
After capturing the minds of commoners outside the castle walls and then manipulating the nobles of the royal court to her whims, she began enticing the bards to her side next.
Those bards added even more sweetness to the tale before spreading it around, and in the end, it even reached the ears of neighbouring kingdoms as well.
Just as they were beginning to get accepted as the north’s official couple, the princess followed my plan and coaxed the hero into entering the high society. In the meantime, I worked hard to create rumours and spread them around.
One week passed by like that, then another week. By then, the rumours had morphed so much that they said the couple had ‘already performed the engagement ceremony.’
“Well, then. Your Highness, it’s time to gradually close the net.”
“Yes, Sir Naruan. I feel confident of our chances.” The princess nodded at my suggestion, a confident smile floating up on her face.
“As that boy’s teacher, allow me to give you this advice. He’s very adept at escaping, so you must cast a solid encirclement first before moving out to conquer him.”
“Although what we have in place seems adequate enough… You are Sir Hero’s teacher and the Great Sage, so I shall take what you said to my heart, Sir Naruan.”
“Why, thank you.”
I was still not used to the nickname of ‘Great Sage’, but for the sake of my plan, I was prepared to endure any other titles, including the likes of ‘Great Warrior’ or even ‘Great Demon King’.
“Well, then. I… shall head out, sir!”
“May the fortune in war be with you, Your Highness!”
The princess left the meeting room looking a bit tense. While watching her leave, my heart began racing in anticipation, wondering how my plan would pan out. I patiently waited, and then…
About three hours later…
Seeing the princess rushing up to me while calling out in a high-pitched voice made me realise that my plan was successful.
“How did it go, Your Highness?”
“I did it, sir! I feigned falling over, and Sir Hero caught me on time. But I still fell to the floor and made it seem like Sir Hero had pounced on top of me. And a lady-in-waiting ‘co-in-cidentally’ walked in on us at that very moment!”
Although some of those words seemed a bit excessive when coming from a princess of a kingdom, this was still all a part of my plan.
While nodding, I revealed how satisfied I was with this outcome. “Perfect, Your Highness.”
“Yes, it is perfect!”
The rumours had spread within the kingdom in such a way that only the hero and his party members were oblivious of the situation. And after tossing in such a massive bait, various fish were bound to show up sooner rather than later.
Of course, we were talking about the information network of maids and ladies-in-waiting here! Which was even faster than the empire’s intelligence bureau when transmitting information! Apparently.
Of course, this information network could be rather destructive, too. That’s because, when a story gets passed from one person to another in the network, it’d gain a new aspect, a new flesh.
When the first witness starts the rumour by saying, “So and so were holding hands~”, those words would eventually morph into, “So and so were already married and even have a child together~” by the time it came around back to the first witness. That’s how destructive this network was.
But then again, you could say that relying on it was the best decision to make in our current situation!
“In that case, let us move on to the next stage of the plan, Your Highness.”
The princess was already heavily relying on me thanks to my blinding achievements. That’s why she paid close attention to my ‘advice’ and continued to carry out the plan.
And in the end…
“I’m sorry? Instructor, what do you mean by engagement?”
“But, my disciple? The rumour has spread to all corners of the kingdom by now.”
I stepped up personally to land the checkmate.
“What are you even talking about, instructor?!”
“Uh-huh… could it be that you’re trying to back out of it?”
I almost laughed out loud at the flustered face of the hero, but my poker face with the proficiency level at MAX didn’t allow that to happen.
“But instructor, I never stepped forward in the first place, so how can I back out of whatever this is?!”
Sure, you never stepped forward by yourself. It’s more like you walked completely unawares into where the trap was, after all.
But to think that you still haven’t figured out that something was up by now!
It wasn’t the cold northerly winds that caused the lonely wanderer to remove their coat but the warmth of the sun’s rays. And in that spirit, it wasn’t the mighty strength that finished a hero off, but all the politicking behind the scenes of soothing peace!
“Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from now on, my disciple.”
“What are you even…?”
“Have you ever pounced on the princess or not?”
“Is that a ‘yes’ I hear?”
“N-no, of course not! That’s not it and what really happened was…”
“Answer only with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”
The hero stared back at me with a frustrated expression but eventually turned his head slightly away and whispered, “Yes…”
“Have you seen the princess’s underwear?”
“T-that was only because she dropped her teacup, and it reflected some white clothes!”
That sounded about right. I deliberately had the princess wear some type of see-through clothing, after all.
“Just answer with a yes or no, disciple. No, wait. You’ve already answered with a yes in this case.”
Only the two of us in the same room could become rather dicey for him, so the hero had made sure to bring his party members and my daughter to the meeting, too. But now…
“It can’t be. You…”
Dear Shuttle-gun the Saint began staring at the hero with eyes of pity while Selena the Elf was looking at him with eyes reserved for glaring at utter human trash.
“Dad, that uncle was a pervert after all?”
“It seems that way, my child!”
“N-no, I am not!”
The hero reacted like a wrongly accused man, but since both of those events did happen for real, he had no excuses to speak of.
There had been many other events similar in nature to those two, after all.
“You’ve done all these things, yet you don’t wish to take responsibility?”
“But they were just coincidences, instructor!”
“A series of coincidences can only mean it’s fate, right? Before all that, however. This matter has already been reported to the royal family, the nobles and even the commoners of this kingdom. Trying to brush it all aside under the pretext of coincidence will cause much too great of a disturbance. Are you trying to prevent the still-young princess from ever getting married?”
“And so… are you trying to say that I should take responsibility and marry the princess, instructor?”
“As a man, yes, you should.”
-Wow, I never expected my master to utter those words out in his life!
-Shut up! My own marriage is veeery important, but this guy’s marriage isn’t! As long this idiot gets married, I’ll be happy. And the princess will be, too! Everyone will be happy!
-But master, I think world peace won’t be a pipe dream anymore if you get married…
-Don’t you know that the world is supposed to grow up and mature through bloodshed?
-Where’s your humanity, master…
Since ancient times, my motto always had been, “Instead of us, let it be you; instead of you, let it be me.”
As such… If sacrificing one annoying hero was enough to ensure my and my daughter’s peaceful life, I wouldn’t even hesitate to throw ten more heroes under the bus!
“But, but, shouldn’t the princess also want for the marriage to happen?” The hero spoke up with an expression of a man clutching at the final lifeline, but then…
“Yes, I’m happy with it.”
…But then, he realised that the lifeline had already rotted away to the core after seeing the princess entering the room at the perfect timing.
“I’m happy with it, Sir Hero.”
She repeated herself to shut down the hero trying to say something. She already expressed her consent twice, so saying something at this point would effectively constitute publicly rejecting her.
“Sir Hero, do you not find me agreeable?”
“I’m sorry? N-no, of course not. But…”
The princess began tearing up, causing the air in the room to get a little colder.
The Elf and my daughter began whispering, “Human trash…” and “I knew it, he’s a bad person…” while leering at the hero.
“In that case, isn’t it fine, sir?”
I was the one who came up with this plan, but it was the princess who agreed to it and diligently carried it out in the first place. But the hero had no idea about that.
The moment he got drunk with the luxurious comfort on offer and started lazily rolling around on a bed…! It was the same as his defeat being written on stone! And he still hadn’t figured that out yet. How disappointing, oh Sir Hero!
“It, it’s just that, things are progressing too quickly…”
“That’s why I’ve already spoken to my father that we should start with engagement first, Sir Hero.”
“T-to His Majesty the king, already?!”
“Well, it was my father who brought up the topic of marriage first, you see.”
The hero kept saying this and that, trying to find a way out but, judging from the look on his face, it seemed that he finally recognised the noose gradually tightening around his neck.
He clamped his mouth shut, his eyes urgently darting around. He probably wanted to flee from this place as soon as possible.
-Too bad, only my master is capable of doing something like that, though!
-Hmm. Well, I certainly am confident of escaping from a castle like this one!
I had already prepared an escape route in case something unexpected happened. But unlike me, the hero wasn’t used to situations like this and as a result, his response looked amateurish.
Since time immemorial, a ‘hero’ as an existence could transform overnight. That’s why I should eliminate one while his response still remained amateurish!
“As your teacher, I’m quite gutted by the fact that you are acting so irresponsibly like this.”
It was right at that moment that the hero shot me a glare with an expression saying, “What the f*ck are you saying, dude?! Morals! Where did you abandon your damn morals!”
However, I chose to ignore him altogether.
“…Your Highness. Please give me some time to think it over.”
“I shall, Sir Hero.”
In the end, the hero had to tuck his tail firmly between his legs, then begged the princess to give him time to think it over. The princess readily consented to his request.
But that’s because this hunting ground had been laid out perfectly. She knew that the hero would never escape from here.
Oh, how foolish of you, Sir Hero! Don’t you know that the longer you dither about, the worse it’d get for you!
That’s what I was thinking while tasting the sweetness of victory.
Just like a third-rate villain who… let his guard down against the hero still hiding a final triumph card!
#7 Their circumstances: A certain hero’s circumstance.
“Sir Hero, this…”
“Yes, I know. My instructor must’ve had a hand in this. And his end goal is to…”
Currently, everyone except Hill had left the room. He was trying to tell me his opinion regarding this matter, but I had already realised everything by now.
“…Flee from us.”
Never in a million years would I have imagined that the instructor could cook up a plan like this one. To think that he’d entangle me with the princess and prevent me from going after him!
This was a marriage to a princess of a kingdom we were talking about. She should have received training in various disciples from a young age, so she might have some basic combat prowess. Even so, it’d be a tall order for her to join the hero’s adventures.
As such, I’d end up remaining in the Neidon Kingdom after marrying the princess like a son-in-law living with his in-laws.
That would definitely prevent me from travelling with the instructor. And he’d utilise his particular set of techniques polished to perfection to make an utter fool of the replacement hero and flee.
I was confident about this. Confident that the only hero in this entire world equipped with the necessary tracking skills to locate the instructor was me and me alone.
That only I could successfully chase after my instructor and capture him!
Without me, at least one-third of the world’s religious organisations would have come together to monitor my instructor every single day.
“Sir Hero, should I try to change Her Highness’s mind?”
“Nah. She’s already on my instructor’s side by now.”
I couldn’t be sure what the instructor said to convince the princess, but judging from her behaviour earlier, she would not be willing to give up on the marriage.
Sure, she was beautiful enough to rank as one of the top beauties I have encountered so far, but…
Whenever I was with her, it felt like… Should I say that an ominous chill ran down my skin as if I was a frog frozen before a poisonous snake?
There was something about her that made me instinctively want to distance myself from her.
“A good way to… overcome this crisis…”
I bit my lower lip so hard that blood began pooling inside my mouth.
Wasn’t this one of No.17’s old habits…?
The moment No.17’s face floated up in my mind, I thought up a way to deal with this situation.
“Sir Hero, did you think of a way?”
“Yes, I did. All we gotta do is to run away.”
“But will that be as easy as it sounds?”
“Yes, if the most qualified expert in that field helps us!”
My instructor was the master of escape. The most dominant nation on the continent, Karuan Empire, threw everything and then some to capture him, yet he still managed to outwit them.
Someone like him would find it very easy to escape the encirclement of a small kingdom like this one.
“But will Sir Narual even help us?”
“Never. But we need to create a situation where he needs to combine forces with us to escape!”
The instructor told me something this one time. He said that today’s enemy could turn into tomorrow’s ally and vice versa.
In order to survive, one must know how to properly differentiate enemies from your allies. But one still shouldn’t forget the possibilities of enemies becoming your allies or vice versa, he said!
“Hill, can you deliver a letter tomorrow? Without anyone finding out, and as quickly as possible, too!”
“High-ranking priests of our order are still in town, so it should be possible, Sir Hero.”
And so, I wrote up a letter and handed it over to Hill.
I found him. I found the instructor.
From: Your classmate, No.1.]
And just like that, I ended up playing my best hand against the instructor’s best hand.