What should you do if somebody gives you bait when the other side holds complete superiority while you were in the dark?
The answer was very simple: use the bait to ferret out the enemy.
Xing Ye had countless ways to reach the imperial city, so why did he insist on using the route the manipulators designed for him? It was because he wanted to find the people behind the scenes.
There were always opportunities if you were ready. To walk into the opponent’s trap and turn the tides, it was a must to be absolutely prepared. Throughout the journey, Xing Ye thought of countless plans. He started with the system’s point of view: what did the game itself want from the players? After understanding that, he moved onto analyzing the rules the game hid from him.
Next, he thought from the manipulator’s point of view. He inferred from the senior maid’s behavior that the three manipulators could contact one another. In other words, the first conclusion was something they decided on together. Under these circumstances where they held absolute dominance, if he was a manipulator, he would definitely set two completely different endings according to the direction of the plot.
Whether Claire was killed by the queen or Claire defeated the queen, Xing Ye would ultimately lose. These two conclusions together with the senior maid’s would push him into a corner. It seems that Earl Luca’s manor was just a test and the true endings would be set in the imperial palace.
The last viewpoint Xing Ye considered was his own. He would often think back to everything that’s happened since he first scanned the QR code until now, occasionally finding details or irregularities that he hadn’t considered before.
Apart from pondering on these things, Xing Ye’s time with the knights also helped him learn more about this world. There was a huge gap between civilians and nobility. There was a balance between the royal family, aristocrats, and the church. He only decided to instigate the knight captain after considering all of these things.
Xing Ye silently released a little sigh of relief when he saw the knight captain start to get angry.
It seems like the other camp still treated this world as an ordinary game world and weren’t aware that it was actually a complete, whole world. Every “NPC” were people with their own soul- the ones who intruded the world were the players.
For things like body searches, nobles and civilians should be split up and respectfully brought into private rooms. For aristocrats with an especially high status, they should be personally greeted by the guards’ lord and entertained for a while before being carefully searched by people who were at least knights.
In a complex world like this, without considering every side, you couldn’t make people obey even if you had power.
”Dignity”. "Etiquette”. These were words that seemed useless but many nobles would rather buy grand castles and land even if it built a high desk of debt just to maintain appearances befitting their rank and uphold their dignity. Since ancient times and even now, no matter what era it was, the importance of a person’s pride should never be underestimated.
Duke Garcia’s knights started to riot. Talk about their disrespectful treatment started to spread through the crowd.
Although the civilians in line didn’t care, it was almost the queen’s birthday so most of the people waiting at the doors were transportation groups on behalf of nobles. The long line wait originally made people discontent so when such a rumor was circulated, many of them started to resist.
Xing Ye who started everything quietly slipped back inside the group after instigating the knight captain. The news spread like a tide, who could tell who started it first?
Morse sneaked beside Xing Ye, refusing to give up on persuading him: “Lawrence, Duke Garcia’s already in the imperial city and we’ll be going to his manor to deliver the presents after the inspection. At that time, how about I recommend you to the duke as an excellent knight?”
Xing Ye didn’t reject him: “Alright.”
After being rejected the entire journey, Morse nearly jumped up in excitement when he saw Xing Ye finally agree.
Xing Ye rubbed the mirror between his chest. Now that the public was incited, the next thing he wanted to do was to see Duke Garica. However, it wasn’t to become a knight, but to test the cheat the system gave him.
”What happened?” Somebody who looked to be the guard captain walked up and ‘coincidently’ went to ask Duke Garcia’s knight captain: “What’s with the uproar?”
”Is Sire the captain of the imperial guards?” The knight captain greeted the other without seeming servile nor overbearing: “We are Duke Garcia’s knights and bring the grand duke’s gifts for Her Majesty, the Queen’s birthday. Are you truly planning to let knights like us be stuck outside the city gates together with civilians, slaves, and village nobles, then get body searched by ordinary city soldiers? May I please ask if you obtained Duke Garcia’s approval prior to ordering such a thing?”
Hearing his words and Duke Garcia’s title, the surrounding aristocratic knight groups gathered one after another and started echoing his words in chorus, requesting the imperial family to give the respect they deserved as nobles.
The clamorous scene caused the guard captain to panic a little as he immediately pulled out his sword before shouting in a loud voice: “This is the queen’s orders. The imperial guards are only loyal to Her Majesty, the Queen and will execute every one of the queen’s orders. Her Majesty is doing this out of consideration for the country’s safety- are your protests trying to stage a revolt?”
Xing Ye face palmed as he watched from inside the crowd. It’s obvious that the guard captain was the second manipulator and the conclusion he set was that the queen would capture Claire who hid the mirror and execute her.
His identity matched with the conclusion he set perfectly, but his IQ on the other hand...
The imperial guard captain probably thought that this era was like ancient China, where the emperor’s word was law and whoever disobeyed would be executed.
Unfortunately, in this world, the three powers of the imperial family, the nobles, and the church were balanced. Nobles had their own land and personal armies; with enough benefits, they could even stage a revolt and attack the royal family. The rampant poverty and pandemics in this era also let the church expand greatly so the imperial family had to rope in nobles to contend against them. There was no way an imperial guard could challenge a noble’s authority.
As he pondered, Xing Ye thought of the imperial guard’s own ending. Although Xing Ye wasn’t sure what ending he had arranged for himself, it definitely wasn’t the one Xing Ye forced him into.
The imperial guard captain’s words completely enraged the knights. They were all capable figures. Why were they willing to dedicate themselves to a noble? Of course it was because of the wealth and high standing the position gave them, yet now the imperial guards were belittling it.
The knight captain still treated the matter with reason as he forcefully pressed down his anger: “Since you’re drawing your sword in front of a knight, may I assume that you wish to challenge me?”
After speaking, he immediately pulled out his sword: “Since it’s like that, then let me use my sword to defend Duke Garcia’s honor.”
”I’m not, I didn’t, don’t…”
The imperial guard captain hadn’t finished speaking when the knight captain directly attacked. He could only dodge a few moves before getting trampled underfoot with the knight captain’s sword against his stomach.
The knight captain spoke aloofly: “I won. Can you let our squadron pass now?”
Xing Ye jotted down another point as he watched the imperial guard’s miserable experience- your own strength decided your character’s strength in the game. Even if your role was the strongest swordsman in the country, you would only be a paper tiger if your strength didn’t match up. Even an ordinary civilian girl like Claire would be able to win against the imperial knight.
The knight captain used his sword to win honor for Duke Garcia. The guards at the city gate also saw the duel. With their high statuses in this era and powerful strength, the guards just silently let them pass. Nobody dared to block their way.
It went perfectly. In the crowd, Xing Ye shook his head.
When he met the senior maid, he was already skeptical if something was wrong with the manipulator’s brains. Now, he was certain that all the manipulators' brains had a problem.
Could it be that since it was a newbie world, this was also the manipulators’ first world so they were so weak? Xing Ye guessed.
Duke Garcia’s manor in the imperial city was very big. Each of the knights had their own room and were treated well.
Although Xing Ye wasn’t a knight, Morse and the other knights all recommended him to Duke Garcia. Considering how he might become a future knight of the duke, a room was prepared for him as well.
He finally had his own room.
Xing Ye requested hot water and happily took a bath. The mirror was even more anxious to bathe than him and soaked by himself in a small basin, refusing to share a bath with Xing Ye.
After washing clean, Xing Ye changed into a set of lacey female clothing. It was very strange: after putting on the clothes, his cold and sharp aura instantly turned soft and gentle.
The mirror went on guard: What are you doing?
”Testing my cheat.” Xing Ye took the mirror and used a towel to wipe it dry.
Mirror: You have a cheat? Impossible, players in the novice world don’t even get starting skills. Only extremely lucky players can find props in the game but there’s no way people from the opposing fate camp can have that sort of luck.
Xing Ye felt like the mirror’s IQ wasn’t much better from the three manipulators’. He sighed before speaking meaningfully: “From your words just now, I discovered three things. First, you were once a player from the following fate camp. Second, from the disdainful way you mentioned the novice world, you should’ve been playing this game for a while and are already a high level player. Third, your confidence tells me that the player who got the special prop was you and not what you heard from somebody else.”
”Even if you turned into a mirror after losing, you’re still an experienced player. Say, why do people from the fate camp always have such shallow thinking?” Xing Ye almost said “stupid”.
He was genuinely confused.
This time, the mirror wasn’t angry. Writing soon appeared on its surface: We don’t need to think.
”Why?” Xing Ye didn’t understand.
Mirror: The system gives you top tier equipment to beat an empty handed noob. Nobody needs to think to succeed.
”True,” Xing Ye nodded, “But in my opinion, a pie can’t just fall from the sky. It has to be a trap.”
The mirror was silent.
Xing Ye didn’t question it too much. Bit by bit, he was starting to pick out the truth.
”Let’s change the topic and try the cheat.” Xing Ye told the mirror: “You’re a magic mirror so to let me help the queen, you would probably help me with everything within your power. With that said, magic mirror, magic mirror, tell me, who is the most beautiful person in the world?”
The mirror involuntarily said: “It’s you, Claire.”
Sure enough, if he said that incantation, the mirror would be taken over by the system.
Xing Ye narrowed his eyes slightly and continued to ask, “Would Duke Garcia like me?”
The mirror said: “My girl, no man can resist your charms.”
Xing Ye put on his cloak, hiding the women's clothes underneath before speaking to the mirror: “I’ll take your word for it. Let’s go deal with the imperial guard captain.”