The Audience Chamber — Part 2
Editors: Sebas Tian, Speedphoenix, Joker
“Seize those rebels immediately!” I heard the prince shouting a bunch of nonsense as he stood atop the elevated platform. It didn’t make sense. He was literally a dead man talking, and that shouldn’t have been possible. Altering one’s status page was definitely doable, but only to a certain extent. Dramatic lies like having literally no HP weren’t possible. And that was exactly what the prince’s stat screen displayed. His health was sitting at a flat zero.
I had even used magic eye in order to double check that I wasn’t crazy. Lo and behold, he wasn’t all that different from the zombies that I had encountered back in that one old guy’s city. He was bound with magical energy from head to toe.
The more I looked at him, the more I realized that I wasn’t staring down a person. I was looking at a thing, a mere puppet that could no longer think for itself. I didn’t know whether he was being controlled through a skill or a spell, but either way, I knew that his manipulator was at least more skilled than the only other I’d ever known. I wonder if he’s been infected by a plaga or something. Nah, no way. Plaga are just parasites. People with plaga in them aren’t actually dead or anything. 
Alright, that’s enough joking around for now. Let’s get back on track. After looking at him more carefully, I realized that the prince’s central nervous system was especially well bound with magic and that his bindings had mana actively flowing through them. His brain, spine, and nerves were all under his manipulator’s control. It was a feature not shared by any of the zombies I’d seen before, and likely the reason his corpse seemed so animated and alive despite having lost its life force.
That said, the whole scenario brought a question to mind: why hasn’t anyone noticed? If there was such a thing as a technique to manipulate one’s enemies, then there was no reason for there not to be countermeasures and methods by which one could detect that another was being controlled. They simply had to exist. And of all people, one would expect the family ruling a country to have access to something that performed the aforementioned roles. If they didn’t, then I wouldn’t have much to say besides that they were horribly ill-prepared.
Thinking back on my conversation with the king had made the whole scenario make even less sense. He himself had stated that he thought something was wrong with his son and that his actions were growing more suspicious. It would only make sense for the king to have the prince checked. And it wasn’t like he was the only one to ever interact with his son either. While I had no idea as to exactly when the prince had become a zombie, I knew that people seeing the signs meant that someone should have realized that something was up.
Wait a second… My eyes stopped on one of the rings the douchebag of a prince had on his finger, one containing an excess of magical energy. Appraising informed me that it was the Ring of Truth and Falsehood. It was an item capable of deceiving those that tried to view the user’s status page. Its quality was ridiculously high and came in at a jaw-dropping S-. I guess that must be why no one’s ever found out. S- is almost as high-quality as high-quality gets.
The reason that I was able to see the prince’s stats regardless was likely because my Analyze skill was leveled to a near abnormal extent. It didn’t feel that way given that I was still unable to get even a glimpse of Lefi’s stats, but I had actually raised it so far beyond the norm that not even an item with a quality rating of S- could trick it. Geez Lefi, just how OP are you!?
I smiled awkwardly, but then once again redirected my attention away from my distractions and back towards the situation at hand. My gaze once again fell upon the room. The prince was just a puppet, and someone else was pulling his strings. The corpse was acting far too realistically for the manipulator to be at a distance.
Whoever was responsible was literally making the poor retarded thing talk, after all. And the only way for the puppet’s words not to sound odd was for the one pulling its strings to be aware of the situation. He had to know what everyone else in the room was saying. Making up words wouldn’t go well without a detailed account of exactly what was going on.
There was, of course, always the possibility that he was using something similar to my Evil Eyes or Evil Ears, but I struck it out almost as quickly as I had suggested it. My Magic Eye wasn’t picking up on anything.
The easiest way to describe my unique skill was to call it something along the lines of a thermal scope that worked with magic instead of heat. Any mana it picked up would simply stand out. It was just that obvious. I could even see people that were using skills akin to Stealth, as the skill made use of magical energy in order to produce its cloaking effect.
Of course, I had never tested it on anyone with a level 10 stealth skill, but level 10 skills weren’t all that realistic in the first place. Even Lefi had claimed that they were rare. The Supreme Dragon had told me that, although she had a literal arsenal’s worth of skills, only a handful had reached their final level.
And so, upon coming to the aforementioned conclusion, I began to regard the enemies before me in turn whilst using both my Magic Eye and Analyze in tandem.
It didn’t take me long to find the perp. He seemed to resemble some sort of minister. He was situated in the corner of the room and wearing a hood that covered his face and hid it from view. Unfortunately, the pendant he was wearing around his neck was giving off something along the lines of a jamming signal. I literally could not use Analyze on him. But as far as I was concerned, all that meant was that he had something to hide.
That said, the most decisive factor wasn’t how suspicious he seemed. It was his mana. Everyone’s magical energy had its own unique wavelength, and as Magic Eye could pick up on those differences, I was able to discern that his mana matched the mana contained in the fetters binding the prince.
He was the guy behind the curtain, the guy pulling the strings and manipulating the puppet. Heh. What a nasty little asshole. He’s using other people and tricking them into fighting as he enjoys the whole thing from backstage.
But the manipulator behind the prince’s behaviour wasn’t all he was. The man was my enemy. He was the asshole that had marched an army into the Wicked Forest. Listen here douchebag, you’ve got a tab to pay. A big one.
I put a figurative mark on my target before looking around for an entry point. And after a few moments, I found one that satisfied my needs. I backed up in order to give myself enough room to ramp up speed, twisted my body so that I was facing forwards, and then gave my wings a single powerful flap.
The wind rushed past me. I could feel the pressure pushing against me as I soared through it. Right as I was about to crash through the window, I retracted my wings and braced for impact.
There was a loud crash. Shattered glass flew everywhere as the people inside the audience chamber began shouting in surprise and scrambling to determine the identity of the sudden intruder. But I didn’t stop. I didn’t let them process what had happened before I carried out my next move.
I used the force of my entry to dart straight towards the manipulator, who was still stunned by my sudden appearance. And before he could question my allegiance, I swung my blade.
 Resident Evil