Three days later, the group safely arrived at the capital. They had passed right through the level 4 danger zone, Bayran and then headed straight for the capital! Though he wasn't here with the other heroes, he was still deeply moved.
"Is this... really?"
[Are you surprised?]
The Light General was astonished; the outer fortress was completely gone, exposing the inner city within.
"It's the capital, yet there are absolutely no defenses! How are we supposed to take this? Is this really the capital? Is the capital actually inside a hidden subspace?"
[Calm down. It wasn't originally like this. The capital's defensive facilities were all destroyed in a recent battle.]
"What kind of battle would've destroyed all of its defensive facilities?"
The Sun Spear General had been smiling ever since they'd been reunited, but even he was stuck between shock and confusion and didn't know what to do.
But it's not like he could say 'I'm actually the Heaven Defying General and the hero Lee Shin Woo. I aimed the cannon the Lich made at the capital and shot light at it!', so Lee Shin Woo just remained quiet. The Sun Spear General seemed to come to his own conclusion and patted him on the shoulder.
"Now I get how much you went through."
This 'hmph' was Arema Steelworker's equivalent to 'Thanks for understanding, my friend'. It seemed to get through to them, as the Sun Spear General laughed and the Light General just sighed. Lee Shin Woo was suddenly fearful of how effective his acting was.
[I'm sure you already know, but I'll say it again. It's impossible to move covertly within the capital. We need to move as quickly as possible and achieve our goal. Once we do, we have to get out of here as quickly as possible.]
"We know already. That's why we've prepared so much."
Lee Shin Woo saw the Sun Spear General take out three more of the consumable artifact, the 'Dark Red Solar Eclipse' and just nodded his head.
Yeah, he needed to trust them. They were the surface's Four Heavenly Commanders, weren't they? ...Even Arema Steelworker had been one of the Four Heavenly Commanders!
[Then... Let's get going. I can't tell you exactly where Seagald is, so we should send scouts out to look for him.]
"Yeah. You know the capital best, so I'll leave it to you."
Amazing. Lee Shin Woo picked some scouts from the Vampires and golems and sent them off in various directions. Of course, Lee Shin Woo already knew where Seagald's current location was, so scouts were unnecessary.
He was just sending them to provoke the Imperial Army. They would also get in Seagald's way, as well as help adjust his timing and start the battle!
Lee Shin Woo sent his golems along the safest route, but he'd mostly dispatched them to pick up any more Evil Eye ore that might be laying around. He really hoped that there was at least a little bit left!
[Then let's get a move on. Judika, is the report system secure?]
"Of course. Don't look down on the power of a Vampire."
'I'm sorry, but I am looking down on it right now', Lee Shin Woo was instinctively about to say, but desperately restrained himself from doing so and quickly moved forward. In his place, the Light General snorted, but the Sun Spear General just ignored her.
Lee Shin Woo realized something was off 30 minutes later. They marched through the inner city, which had been turned to ash by the cannon, and got closer and closer to the capital. While doing so, the Mana Radar picked up something.
It was neither Seagald nor the Archmage... It was a mana signature that Lee Shin Woo wasn't familiar with. But then, why was the Mana Radar picking it up?
That reason was extremely simple. Currently, the Mana Radar didn't just detect the mana that he was familiar with, but also any mana level 8 or over as well. And at this very moment, there was a presence headed right for them. There were also three level 7 elites around them, as well as hundreds of level 6 soldiers as well.
How many level 8 undead remained within the Underground Empire that he wasn't aware of? He couldn't see their face, but he knew who it was. But the issue was: why were they coming towards them right now?
He looked at the Sun Spear General, who had paused and was looking at him strangely, and asked.
[I'll ask just in case, but you guys... No one followed you down from the surface, right?]
"Of course not. We came straight from the palace. There's no way someone followed us. ...But for you to be like that... Are you saying what I think you're saying?"
[It might be tough, but we got to move as quickly as possible. I'll order some of these guys to buy us some time.]
Lee Shin Woo split 50 Vampires and 100 golems from his main force and sent them away. He was clearly sending them to their deaths, but the golems always followed orders, and the Vampires were psychopaths that were loyal to a fault, so they left without a single complaint.
The main force marched on even quicker than before. He already knew where Seagald was, so he picked the optimum route while acting appropriately; the aftermath wouldn't matter.
Another 30 minutes later, Lee Shin Woo inwardly groaned. He knew they wouldn't last long against a level 8 opponent, but this was too much; they were taken out as soon as they met them. They weren't able to buy him any time at all.
'But here's where it starts. Were we able to throw off our enemies even a little? ...Mm, I guess it was too much to hope for. Then that means they have a way of tracking us.'
Their enemy was heading straight for them. Which meant they had a way of tracking them in real-time. He'd said it in passing, but perhaps the Archmage really did have a Muninn's Eye!
[If you could do that, then go after Seagald. Damn it.]
[Maybe the Lich is already after him.]
As Jin said, the Mana Radar had picked up two familiar level 8 undead fighting against each other around the capital's inner fortress. It was Seagald and the Archmage, Feotane Von Seldin.
However, Lee Shin Woo had come here to prevent Seagald from meeting either the Lich or the Emperor and turn them into Anti-Skull. The fact that he was dealing with the Archmage right now wasn't good news for him.
'What should I do? Even if I go, the Archmage will lose to Seagald. I don't have any time to waste. How about leading him to Seagald... No, that's impossible, even for me. If that's the case, then how about using the Heaven Door's Key and sending him off somewhere? He couldn't just shoot the gate at someone like the Meidō Zangetsuha
the Sun Spear General was actually the one to stop him.
"You're the one who knows the capital best, Arema. There's no point in us going first. ...I don't know who's following us, but if one of us has to stay back, then I'll stay."
[No, if you keep going this way, you'll eventually find Seagald. Moreover, the one who's coming this way is probably Leofield Von Tariman. You can't stop him.]
"Ha, that's great. I always wanted to fight against him. They say his spearmanship is unmatched! As a spear user myself, I want to see just who's more skilled with the spear!"
Why? Wasn't he one of the Emperor's puppets? If that's true, then shouldn't he be jumping at the chance to catch Seagald?
Even though he was acting, Lee Shin Woo was genuinely confused and trailed off. The Sun Spear General, Judika Von Beloduns spoke with a clear smile. He was being genuine for the first time since coming down here.
"Arema, Madam Lilaine isn't the only one who has something they regret. I, like her, regret not stopping you that day. I can't forget how I allowed my friend to sacrifice his bright future. So... let me do this much."
Lee Shin Woo believed that others acted rationally and in their best interests so that no harm would come to them. Thus, he didn't expect Judika to volunteer to stay as bait. Human emotion truly was difficult to predict. The Light General and this guy were both difficult to predict.
He strived to keep his emotions from showing (this also befitted Arema's personality) and spoke calmly.
[Don't die, Judika. ...But if you do die, I'll be sure to pick up your bones, so don't worry.]
That was the truth. He couldn't let a single level 8 bone go to waste.
"I won't die, so don't worry, Arema. I'm counting on you. Since His Majesty told us to strike down Seagald without fail. His Majesty's orders are absolute. That's something you always used to say."
[Of course. Seagald will die by my hand.]
Lee Shin Woo extended a hand, as though he were hesitating. The Sun Spear General grabbed his hand and flashed him a calm smile. He said he wouldn't die, yet his expression said otherwise; he looked like he was ready to die.
"Then let's meet up a little while later."
[Got it. Come back safely.]
He probably wouldn't come back. Since he could tell how strong he was...
Lee Shin Woo tried his best not to show it (to someone else, one might interpret it as him stopping himself from crying) and turned around. The Sun Spear General just grinned and began walking towards the direction of their pursuers. It was like a scene straight out of a movie.
"...To think he felt that way for so many years."
[Indeed. It's already been so many years; what's he thinking? ...You're all idiots. You and him.]
Lee Shin Woo's acting was so perfect that one might wonder whether Arema really was dead, saying 'Oh, Arema really was alive?'. He spoke brusquely, but the deep emotion within them caused even Jin to tilt her head!
So, how would the Light General fare? She fixed the scarf around her next and looked at him unkindly.
"You were just acting like you were as tough as nails. You really fooled me."
[I have no idea what you're talking about.]
"Ha... Even when they age, men are always idiots."
She said and looked at him warmly. If Jin didn't know that the Light General was directing that gaze at Arema, not Lee Shin Woo, then she would be putting up a huge fuss right now.
Lee Shin Woo then thought.
'If you keep being like this, then it'll become harder to kill you later.'
And thus, the Vampire and the Demon... Err, the hero put the Sun Spear General's sacrifice behind them and began running towards Seagald.
 T/N: Muninn is one of Odin's ravens, like Huginn.