An Exploration of the Castle’s Interior
Editors: Sebas Tian, Speedphoenix, Joker
The door I reached towards creaked as it opened. Unlike the last door, it wasn’t locked. But it was guarded.
“Huh? What was tha—” One of the soldiers stationed on the other side narrowed his eyes and stared at the room’s entrance. His suspicions were roused. Doors didn’t just open by themselves after all. He closed in and began to inspect his surroundings, so I used my hand to chop him in the back of the neck and knocked him out cold.
“T-the hell?” His partner looked at him wide-eyed. And like the first soldier, the second also began to approach while bearing an air of suspicion. “Are you alri—”
I knew that the guard would soon collapse, so I presented him a get-well gift in the form of a kick to the face. Lo and behold, the prophecy came true and guard number two collapsed in the exact same way as guard number one.
His armour clattered as it hit the floor, but fortunately, the noise went unnoticed. No more guards came to check the situation out. And none sounded the alarm either. And no witnesses. You see, this is what we call perfect stealth.
The technique I was applying was clearly one I had “inherited” from an ancient clan of martial artists specialized in espionage. I dubbed it Active Stealth. It was impossible for me to be detected if there wasn’t anyone to detect me, after all. 1, 2 and… Poof! Yuki has learned Active Stealth. 
One would normally suspect that a skill like Stealth would allow me to just skip the step known as taking out my enemies. And anyone that held a suspicion would be correct if the skill was perfect. Alas, it wasn’t. Moving around, for one, obviously led to a decrease in my ability to remain unseen, but it wasn’t the only way for me to be detected. Stealth didn’t work as well on those that stared at an area for a long time while bearing suspicion. Nor did it work all that well on those that could sense disruptions in the flow of mana.
While increasing the skill’s level did also increase its efficacy, no number of levels would allow it to render me undetectable. Anyone as powerful as Lefi would be able to see me right away even if I had it maxed.
Soldier number one had fulfilled the condition related to suspicion. He likely would have seen through the skill had I just let him be, hence why I had eliminated him.
And so, time passed. I continued moving through the castle while using my active stealth techniques in order to “sneak past” any soldiers I couldn’t otherwise avoid. My evil eyes looked around the place while I wandered around, so it didn’t actually take all that long for me to get the map nice and fleshed out. The castle’s insides were basically scantily exposed before me.
But I couldn’t quite seem to find the one thing I was looking for. The castle’s dungeon was nowhere to be found. Such was simply how things were. My map was an extremely useful tool, but like all tools, it had its limitations. It would only show that of which I had seen. I couldn’t see anything on the other side of a door I had yet to open. Enemies in areas of the map that were still dark remained undetected, and hidden passageways simply didn’t show up. I had to identify the secret door or whatever with my own two eyes if I wanted the map to show it. I suspected that I would most likely eventually gain the game-like ability to automatically generate the map of an area I entered without having to look upon it, but that was something that would have to wait until the dungeon gained a few more levels. It very well could happen in the future. But that’s the future. No point in thinking about what may or may not even happen.
The castle seemed to have been built under the assumption that it would one day be subject to an enemy attack. Its interior was convoluted and a lot more difficult to navigate than it otherwise could have been. Moreover, it also seemed to bear some sort of enchantment. I would always end up right back where I started whenever I took my eyes off the map and just allowed myself to wander.
One of the dungeon’s resident wraith girls, Lowe, was capable of more or less doing the same thing. Which means that it’s probably some sort of mind magic. Isn’t this like, ridiculously inconvenient? How the hell are you actually supposed to work, let alone live here? Wait a second. What if they’ve got items that make them immune to the spell’s effects? That actually doesn’t seem all that far fetched, seeing as how this is the king’s castle and whatnot. Dude literally rules an entire country. I’m sure he’s got the resources he needs to do it.
I visited the nearest corpse and started to analyze its belongings. While I had called it a corpse, the soldier wasn’t actually dead. None of them were. I hadn’t bothered killing anyone just yet.
Bingo. I found the item I was looking for after rummaging through one of the soldiers’ inner pockets. It was a thin, flat card, one with both the soldier’s name and rank carved into it. Analyzing it revealed that it was an enchanted item called a Mark of Authorization. Anyone that held it would be immune to the effects of spells affecting one’s ability to navigate a prespecified area. It was a rather high-quality item as far as mass-produced goods went. Analyze had given it a B-.
I had to admit, the item was quite well designed. The pseudo dog tag functioned as both a piece of ID and a tool that allowed the soldier to move around the castle. Welp. This is mine now, I guess. Thanks bro.
Having taken what I needed, I stopped looting the “corpse” and stood up.
And then, it happened.
There was a click. One of the maids had opened a door and entered the room. The first thing she did was look right at me.
There was a moment of silence. And then, my head was filled with noise. A song had begun playing, a piece of BGM that indicated that two trainers’ eyes had met. Only then did I realize the problem. My stealth skill had worn off while I was looting the soldier’s “corpse,” and I had forgotten to recast it. 
The maid broke eye contact. She slowly looked down and saw the soldier collapsed at my feet. The servant then slowly looked back up while taking a deep breath. She was about to scream.
“Wait! Hold on!” I ran up to her and placed a hand on her face, sealing her mouth shut before she could make a noise. “Alright, listen. Just calm down. Don’t make a big deal out of this, and nothing will happen. We clear?”
Her face paled. The maid had interpreted my words as a threat to her life, so she nodded in compliance. I waited a bit for her to calm down, then slowly removed my hand from her lips.
“I-Is he dead?” She spoke in a soft, quivering voice with her gaze still on the soldier.
“Nah. He’s out cold, but he’s fine,” I said. “See how he’s still breathing?”
The truth of the matter was that I had hit the guard a little bit too hard. So hard, in fact, that he looked more dead than alive. It wasn’t something that a mere glance or two would tell you. The maid, however, seemed convinced. Her shoulders, which had tensed up the moment she saw me, finally slackened.
“This castle might just turn into something along the lines of a battlefield, so you might want to grab all your maid friends and get the hell outta here while you still can.”
“D-Does that mean you’re here to save His Majesty and his venerable daughter?” The maid’s eyes filled with hope.
“His wha—er, yeah. Sure.” I managed to catch myself before I slipped up too badly, and responded to the maid with a nod. The king’s got a daughter? And they’ve got her in custody too? The fuck?
“Please, please save them!” the maid took my hands in hers and looked at me with an earnest, serious gaze.
“Uhhh, a-alright. Sure.”
“The dungeon is just out that door,” said the maid. “I wish you fortune and pray that God shall grant you His protection and bless you with victory…”
The combination of the maid’s instructions and the item I had looted off the soldier allowed me to find the dungeon with ease. Speaking of the item, holding it made me feel a sort of strange sensation. It was almost like my field of view had suddenly expanded, which meant that the spell was likely one that impeded the brain’s ability to process one’s surroundings. In the long run, however, the item proved more consequential than not. The reason I couldn’t find the dungeon wasn’t because the spell was messing with my mind. It was because the dungeon had never been inside the castle to begin with. The entrance was situated outside. No amount of searching would have led me to it because I had been looking in the wrong place.
There were two soldiers standing by its entrance, so I “stealthed” them away. My execution was on point. I had completed the perfect assassination, save for the fact that I hadn’t actually killed either of them.
I opened the map and checked up on the maid before I entered. Thankfully, she had heeded my advice instead of reporting me to her superiors; she and her coworkers had already evacuated.
After glancing at the soldiers one last time and confirming that they were indeed unconscious, I began to push on the dungeon’s entrance. The rusted door creaked as it opened, revealing a set of stone stairs that led underground. The air was nice and chilly, as one would expect. But the sour scent that filled it ruined it. I couldn’t help but scrounge up my nose in discomfort.
I made my way down while ensuring that my footsteps remained as silent as possible. Soon, I began hearing things. There were two types of noises. The first was a dull striking sound, one that repeated over and over. The second was a stifled scream, and it would always follow immediately after each dull thwack.
And as I got even closer, I started to make out voices.
“Heh heh heh. Sorry little lady, but I can’t. Your dear father, the king, is being a tad bit too stubborn, you see. If you’ve really gotta blame someone, then it’ll have to be him and his tight lips. Now take this!”
The first thing I saw upon finally reaching the bottom step was a man, a man beating a half-naked little girl with his fists. His breathing was ragged, and a single glance at the lower half of his body was enough to inform me that he was getting off, that he was enjoying himself.
“Cease that immediately, you knave!”
Another man lay in the cell across from the one the perverted scumbag was currently occupying. He was a rather well-aged individual, and he even had a cane to assist him in walking around. Dirt was smeared all over his clothes. They were tattered, but I could tell that they had started off as something of a more expensive make. The scene before him had him enraged. He glared at the pervert with a hate-fueled fury as he clenched his gums hard enough for them to seep blood.
All the excitement I had felt immediately melted away. In a single instant, my mood had plummeted to rock bottom. Seeing the horny gorilla had filled my mind with but a single thought. I’m going to fucking kill that son of a bitch.
I set into motion without any further delay. I crept up behind the perverted sadist, drew the dagger I had hidden away in one of my pockets, and struck him from behind. My strike was true. It went straight through his back and pierced his heart.
“Go live out your fantasies in hell, pervert.” I twisted the blade, sealing his fate as I pulled it from his back.
Only then did his monkey brain finally process what had happened. The ecstasy on his face was replaced with horror as his blood violently gushed up his throat and spilled from his lips. With no more strength in his legs, he collapsed. He was dead.
I didn’t bother checking his pulse. Instead, I just kicked him out of the way and approached the little girl, who had curled herself into a ball in order to protect herself from harm. I immediately opened my inventory, reached into the spatial distortion it created, and procured a high-grade potion. Carefully, I poured its contents over the countless injuries that had been inflicted upon her. God fucking damn it. I swear, if I run into one more piece of fucking trash…
“Are you… a hero…?” While the girl had recoiled with fear at first, she soon realized that I didn’t intend to hurt her. Her frightened gaze transformed into one of trust, one that thought of me as a source of salvation.
“…Yeah.” I hesitated but ultimately chose not to deny her. “Everything will be okay now. No one’s going to hurt you anymore.”
I pat the girl on the head as I spoke. Her expression changed again, this time transforming into one of heartfelt relief. And then, unable to endure any longer, she passed out.
“W-who are you…?” The man in the cell across from the girl’s asked in a bewildered tone. While he seemed relieved that I had saved the girl that was most likely his daughter, he wasn’t totally relaxed. He clearly wanted a better grasp on the situation.
I took a blanket out from my inventory, put it on top of the half-naked little girl and heaved a sigh before finally turning towards the man in the other cell.
“What’s up, king?”
I grinned from underneath my mask as I started to speak to the country’s ruler.
 Pokemon Reference
 Also Pokemon.