After the informative discussion with the headmistress, I was feeling overwhelmed. A system developed to counter the gods who had been locked out of the dimension for hundreds of years, The Eternals who had somehow lost control of the system they had developed, the possible source for my power as a goddess low-rank enough to easily dismissed by an angel who was clearly weaker than most gods, upcoming ritual to inject me with the light energy…
So, when, rather than doing the reasonable thing and visit Oeyne to strategize about the upcoming meeting with the crown princess before starting to work on her mysterious weapon, I started walking around aimlessly, I felt justified. I needed to calm down.
I sneaked out of the school once more, and started walking around the forests aimlessly, occasionally hunting the beasts too weak to detect the threat I had been posing to them. After talking about the source of the system and everyone's power, I couldn't help but examine the concept of level-up from a fresh perspective.
It was hard to imagine how the society would look without high-leveled individuals, restricted by the mortal limits of their deficiencies, limited. Likely not as limited as my own past status, of course, but still, extremely limited. Of course, while we haven't discussed that explicitly, it was not hard to guess that uncontrolled monster hordes didn't exist before the system —or more likely, after the gods' supposed the last stand that broke the control of the system.
However, it would be a lie to say that I didn't understand the motivation of the Eternals. After all, I had already lived through the torture of being an insignificant bug, living under the mercy of the people stronger than me. Living under the yoke of the gods with no chance to resist their power couldn't have been any easier.
"It's all so complicated," I murmured as I pulled my hair hard in frustration. All I wanted was to live comfortably with my girls without being threatened by the presence of the mysterious organizations, undead hordes, and other mysterious creatures… Was that too much to ask?
Since I had been already out, I created another elemental, and quickly searched for the girls. Finding Aviada was the easiest, as she was close to the school, still patrolling with her team. I quickly moved through their patrol route to make sure there was no undead ambush or other dangerous events, before replicated the same thing for Titania and Marianne.
Their state was a bit different. They were defending against one of the fake monster hordes, easily cutting through the mass, the corpses around the town indicating that the current horde was far from the first one. Even when she was acting like she was tired, Titania was far too strong to even Luckily, they were following my suggestion —delivered through the headmistress— and avoided the temptation to loot the fake gems, preventing the potential disaster. Yes, defending against the weakened monster hordes was easy, but only when the walls were intact, and high-leveled defenders were healthy enough to contribute to defense.
The quick trip to the town Cornelia and Helga were garrisoning didn't reveal anything different —except the number of monster corpses under the town border, indicating that their priority didn't match the importance of Titania's defensive location.
Not a surprising find after the attempt to capture Titania by the mysterious organization —The Eternals, if the headmistress had been truthful in her explanation— which was supporting the necromancer invasion. I wouldn't be surprised if they made another attempt in a few days.
Or at least, I hoped that killing three members over level thirty would at least delay them would slow them a bit. To be fair, it was most likely the case. There was no reason for an organization that could treat such high-leveled characters as disposable cannon folder not to be already ruling the world. Even if that wasn't their ambition, they wouldn't have been bothering to ally with the necromancers to distract the headmistress, or bother working together with the other princes to weaken the Crown Princess.
Of course, there was a chance that I was misreading their level of strength, and they were actually treating people stronger than me as cannon fodder, and in that case, I was utterly and truly fucked.
Still, that was a thought for another day, I thought even as I returned to the school, just to see the royal procession passing through the gates. I stayed on the walls, watching them as the members of her party slowly stepped out of their carts.
Then, the bodyguards gathered around the fanciest carriage before the door opened, and a woman stepped out, one that shared almost exact body size with the thief —almost, because her puffy skirt and shirt were making it hard to make a conclusive decision from that distance.
"I might have just found my thief…" I started with excitement, only for another, almost identical, woman to step out. Their faces were somewhat different, so were their eye color and other identifying details, but their body size and type were almost the same. Even their hair color-matched, a shining blonde, with a smoothness that suggested several maids had been working on the style for hours.
"Okay, it might not be that easy to identify her," I murmured to myself as a third one stepped out… Then a fourth…
Only them the princess stepped out, distinguishing herself with the crown on her head —which was radiating magic thick enough for me to detect from the walls— and her even fancier dress. However, other than that, her bodily sizes were almost similar to her handmaidens. Their hair was color-matched, though the style was wildly different, their hair wasn't too different in size, making any possible disguise even stronger.
Smart, I thought even as I watched five of them —four handmaidens plus the princess— walk toward the guest house, each of them walking with impressive grace. It was clear that not a single one of them was below level ten, but the thief I had watched was clearly over level twenty, and maybe even closing in level thirty, with a decent physical stat spread to support her power.
Unfortunately, it was hard to get a more accurate assessment of their strength just by watching from a distance. "Smart," I said with a nod. With five of them almost identical, it would be almost impossible to identify the thief from the body type and presence even when one tracked her identity to the group.
Even better, they couldn't just go and test the princess and her handmaidens easily, as without a doubt those five girls belonged to various noble families, which might take that as a political attack and retaliate.
It was genius whether it was the princess that arranged that, or it was a natural consequence of having handmaidens of similar builds to be used as decoys in case of assassination attempts.
Still, that answered one question. The princess was almost certainly aware of the movements of the thief —if she wasn't the thief in the first place. However, that didn't mean I could just pressure the princess to reveal the identity of the thief, because there was a likely chance that the thief wasn't a part of her official retinue but someone from a different organization, assigned to defend the princess in exchange of accessing politically sensitive locations.
Such as, Silver Spires.
As the princess and the handmaidens disappeared into the guest residence —a large, bulky building with its own defensive wards, only given to politically important guests. However, its own independent warding system wasn't the biggest defense the building had, as since a member of the royal family was occupying the building, for the duration of the visit, that building was effectively an embassy. The princess could simply execute any unexpected visitor, no question asked, which made the risk of getting caught pretty high.
I certainly didn't want to infiltrate the building unless I was forced. It was different than trying to sneak around Silver Spires. Silver Spires' high population, thanks to the mixture of a high number of servants, rotating students, and visitors from the distant kingdoms made walking around in disguise a low-risk affair.
Unfortunately, the same thing wasn't applicable to the party of the princess, not when the number of the servants were a fraction of the number of the guards, and said guards were all extremely alert —which was understandable if even half of the information Oeyne had given me about their continuous defeats.
Of course, I wasn't afraid of death in case of capture. I trusted my abilities to perform a better escape than their little thief. Not only my agility could match hers, but also I had a range of magical abilities she could only imagine. Still, the news about an assassin —which they would naturally assume— walking around targeting the princess would make an already complicated situation even worse.
No, I needed an opportunity to delve into their secrets.
With that concluded —for better or worse— I turned my attention to the guards around the cargo carts, helping the servants to carry some of the heavier loads. I had to admit, they had an impressive number of guards, almost a hundred, and every single one of them was elites in soldier terms. Just like the handmaidens, even the lowest-leveled one was over level ten, though clearly on the lower end, as, unlike the girls, I could identify their levels easily. There were several guards that managed to hide their strength from me, however, making the situation slightly more challenging. And to make things even more impressive, every single one of them was carrying magical weapons along with their regular ones.
I would have been impressed with the number of the guards if I hadn't noticed one important detail. The amount of cargo they brought along was extremely excessive for a trip, even a long-term one. Thanks to a combination of my crafting and my magical abilities, I could make a general appraisal of their cargo, and the content of the crates made it even more impressive. Every single crate and chest was filled with magically active ingredients, but there was little rhythm or rhyme between them, except one important part.
Every single one of them was valuable, extremely valuable.
Combined with the impressively large elite force she had brought along and the size of her procession, I was confident to guess that she had essentially uprooted her power base completely from the royal palace and her own personal lands, committing everything she had owned to one last best.
I was starting to wonder about the nature of the weapon we were supposed to repair.
Luckily, I had the perfect person to talk about it, I thought even as I changed my direction toward the Hall of Crafting, to have a talk with my caramel-skinned blacksmith…
[Level: 30 Experience: 447193 / 465000
Strength: 41 Charisma: 53
Precision: 35 Perception: 37
Agility: 35 Manipulation: 40
Speed: 34 Intelligence: 44
Endurance: 34 Wisdom: 46
HP: 5370 / 5370 Mana: 6600 / 6600 ]
Master Melee [100/100]
Master Tantric [100/100]
Master Biomancy [100/100]
Master Elemental [100/100]
Master Arcana [100/100]
Master Subterfuge [97/100]
Expert Speech [70/75]
Advanced Craft [50/50]
[Cornelia - Level 21/25]
[Helga - Level 17/21]
she had owned to one last best.