The Imperial Hunter Chapter 47 - El Maestre (2)

Author: Dawn

Both of the routes the British military entered, Route 15 and Route 70, lead to Puerto Vallarta. Since it wasn’t an entirely remote route and there was a possibility of branching off somewhere in the middle, it was still uncertain whether luck would be on our side.

I waited for the updated satellite image analysis results with the anticipation of a high-stakes gambler. The cameras on the Cube satellites orbiting in Low Earth Orbit might not have had enough resolution to distinguish individual people, but they provided more than enough resolution to identify vehicles. However, the 74-minute and 29-second gap between the third and first satellites felt like an agonizingly long time to me.

‘Of all times, it had to happen during this gap.’

Even though it wasn’t intentional, Puerto Vallarta had become the perfect hunting ground. There were stacks of firewood ready to be ignited if someone pulled the trigger. In the midst of the ongoing battle between the Mexican military and the cartel, I could easily slip in and take out Round Table’s front-line mages as I pleased. To stop me, Round Table would need a master-level mage with the same level of preparation.

All we needed was for the British to enter this city. Once they did, there would be nothing more to wish for.

As for the goods entering the port? If we kept them waiting in the nearby waters for about two days, it would be enough. The battle that would take place in Puerto Vallarta would be different from the “War of the Human Shields” that happened in Guadalajara. It would be short-lived, and I would make sure of that.


Suyeon brought me back to attention.

“Have the photos come up already?”

“Not yet, but the headquarters field support team has confirmed information about a skirmish at a place called ‘La Ciénega de los Ahumada.’ The source is a video uploaded by a local resident early this morning.”


“The original has been deleted now, which means it’s no longer available. The field support team said it was difficult to obtain. They’re currently being blocked from posting on major internet platforms under vague reasons like ‘inappropriate content.’ There were probably requests and actions from both the British and U.S. governments involved.”

“I see.”

Even if we could only delay the spread of information by a day or two, it was the best we could do. Concealing operational information in progress is the utmost priority.

Anyway, with assistance from the United States, we could make any information as hard to find as Al-Qaeda’s regular online newsletters. As long as we succeeded in initial responses before significant dissemination occurred.

“But the location, ‘La Cinega de los Ahumada.’ What’s that?”

“It’s a small village located in the mountains between Route 4 and Route 70. You should take a look at the map and the video yourself.”

Suyeon tapped on the laptop on the table and then turned the screen toward me.

The village with the name ‘Swamp of the Burned Ones’ was indeed located deep in the mountains. While there had been some deforestation, a few linearly grown trees along the waterway and a few water puddles remained, hinting at its past appearance.

The time was probably the early morning just before sunrise. The voice of the person behind the shaky footage was trembling with fear. Nevertheless, it was hard to understand the psychology of someone who would hold their phone and gaze out the window in such contradictory foolishness. Regardless, I was in a position where I should be thankful for that foolishness.


Click. Suyeon paused the video. I took hold of the laptop and rewound the video frame by frame. A lump of ink-colored iron rolled through the streams of flares, fired during the skirmish, and the Knight in heavy armor raised his shield. The bursts of flares and iron shrapnel rained down on the outer surface of the shield, creating a fierce storm of light.

“¡Levanta el escudo! ¡Reúnanse a mi alrededor! (Raise your shields and gather around me!)”

The Knight shouted, and the smaller Knights gathered around, holding up their shields. The shields, painted black, only flashed with the light of the bullets that had hit them. Their matte coating had been stripped off. The number of Knights who gathered like this was five. Among the five, one handed his massive sword to the Knight in heavy armor.

“Maestre! ¡Es tu espada! (Leader! Your sword!)” 

Maestre, a title used to address the Knight Commander. So the largest one was the Knight Commander.

The commander, who received the sword, stabbed it into the ground and pulled out a Russian-made large-caliber assault rifle, an ASh-12.7, from inside his massive shield. Bang! Kwakwak! Kwakwak! Precise bursts of gunfire. Every time the flashes occurred, the focus of the screen shook significantly. The videographer must have been terrified.

Damn it! To be fearless, you had to be fearless all the way. It didn’t help that the screen was shot vertically, making the field of view narrow.

I focused on the sound instead of the confusing screen. Despite the appearance of randomness in the Knight Commander’s shots, they seemed to be quite accurate. The distant gunshots, the British military’s shots, momentarily diminished. Probably a result of suppressing fire to maintain cover.

“¡A este paso, estaremos rodeados pronto! ¡Vuelve! ¡Vuelve rápido! (If we continue like this, we will soon be surrounded! Get back! Get back quickly!)”

The cartel Knights retreated with their shields side by side, maintaining formation and moving backward. The shaking focus couldn’t follow the Knights as they disappeared behind the stone wall. I felt a violent urge to push my head into the screen. Eventually, when squad-sized elite British soldiers raced past at full speed, that feeling intensified. The subsequent footage was nothing more than intermittent echoes of gunfire in the mountainous village at night.


Calming the irritation born of anxiety with a deep breath, I mulled over the information I had just acquired. Nevertheless, despite the short length of the video, I had gained quite a bit.

“It seems like Round Table wants a living Knight Commander.”

“Is that so?”

“Yeah. Look at the equipment and speed of the British troops.”

Kyung-tae, who had been questioning, focused on the rewound video again. Then he nodded.

“I understand. Even though they’re not as good as our guys, their movements seem quite nimble, even with the whole weight of their equipment and backpacks. Their firepower is nothing to scoff at either.”

That’s right. The British forces deployed could have killed Knight Commander several times over if they intended to. While the Knight Commander’s individual skills appeared to surpass each individual British soldier, it seemed like they were lacking in making up the overall difference in power.

‘On the other hand, the fact that they are still chasing and being chased is evidence that the British forces do not have enough power to capture Knight Commander yet.’

Or it could be that this was the first time they were engaging in real combat that relied on magical power, and they hadn’t been able to fully utilize their skills.

In short,

“This is not a brief chase that will be settled in a short time.”

Even amidst my anxiety, I felt a slight sense of relief. For me, the worst-case scenario would be for the situation to end without me having a chance to intervene.

“I wish we could go out for a dogfight…”

A meaningless regret slipped out unintentionally. Knowing the pointlessness of it, neither Kyung-tae nor Suyeon responded.

Why was it meaningless? Because the UK was one of the Five Eyes, the closest allies of the world’s superpower, the United States. As long as they were using United States intelligence assets, I had no idea how many US reconnaissance satellites were watching this land. In this situation, going out for an interception before nightfall would be tantamount to suicide. Additionally, the potential presence of unmanned aerial vehicles at high altitudes was also a concern. (+)TLN: The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

If there were high-performance camouflage systems (MCS) or infrared-blocking ghillie suits available, I might consider it, but currently, I had neither. Such equipment hadn’t been considered in this scenario.

However, I couldn’t just send the guys below.

Night was the better option. The image analysis program could adjust brightness and saturation to daylight levels, but if applied to satellites or high-altitude aerial observations, it would inevitably reduce the resolution. Furthermore, performing such tasks in real-time limited the surveillance area due to the processing power’s limitations.

Therefore, the best option was for them to enter this city, and the next best option was for the pursuit battle leading westward to continue until darkness fell. The mountainous terrain filled with awakened trees and beasts would disrupt the senses of skilled individuals, allowing me to project all my abilities. Even if it became night, the infrared tracking systems in the sky would be disrupted, but there was a way to disrupt such heat tracking.

Time passed in restless waiting.

I felt like a captain waiting for enemy ships in the age of sail. Even though there was no sign of the enemy’s shadow on the vast sea, that was precisely why vague enemy figures seemed to move beyond every horizontal line on the horizon. At such times, when a hostile mast rose above the boundary of the sky and the sea, the tension on the entire ship would instantly reach its limit. The captain couldn’t take his eyes off the emerging enemy. It was as if a battle were imminent right before our eyes.

However, the distance from the high deck to the horizon was at least 10 kilometers. The enemy’s presence was clear, but it would still take several tens of minutes for the enemy’s ship, whether it was a pirate ship or a warship, to reach me. This was even the case if both parties continued without evading each other. Depending on how the winds blew and which currents the ship was riding, it could take longer…


Suyeon, who had gotten closer without me noticing, looked at me with concern.

“I called you three times. Maybe it was a good idea to restrain from that pill.”


Damn it.

I wiped my face with my hand. Was it the result of being sleep-deprived for days since yesterday? The perceived fatigue and real fatigue were separate, and physical tension depleted both physical and mental stamina. If only an enemy had appeared before my eyes, it would have been better.

Or perhaps the effects of the pills were different from before.

‘Get a hold of yourself. What’s the use of getting tired before meeting the enemy?’

I scolded myself internally.

The daydream that had flowed away with my scattered concentration had to do with the remains of my master still left in my mind. Even back then when I was young, my master was already dreaming of becoming the captain of a front-line warship, even though they were treated as rejects. It was a noble romanticism and a childish ambition.

As inconspicuously as possible, I chose a safe question and asked:

“Has the situation changed?”

“…Yes. It has been confirmed that the remaining forces of the Knights Templar engaged in another battle with the British troops in a town called ‘San Sebastian.'”

“Where is that?”


Suyeon displayed a map on the tablet. The town where the previous battle took place, “La Ciénega de los Ahumada,” was about 40 km away in a straight line. The distance from Puerto Vallarta was slightly less, about 35 km.

‘If the last battle indeed happened at dawn… then it’s a reasonable distance for them to move.’

Wearing a gas mask and carrying heavy gear, it would take me around 10 minutes to traverse 6 km of mountainous terrain. Although I was a master-level mage of Round Table, in terms of abilities, a group of awakened individuals selected in order would have no difficulty moving through a mountainous area of 40 km between dawn and morning. I wasn’t sure about the abilities of the Knights Templar, but depending on how they planned their route, they could probably cover two or three times that distance during the same time frame.

“How did you manage to obtain this information so quickly? It seems like you got it almost in real-time.”

Considering the timing of the battle occurred, it was essentially real-time information acquisition. This was in stark contrast to the previous video, which took at least half a day to reach me. Even though it was said that complete internet censorship was impossible due to the vastness of the online space, getting close to real-time information in a situation where the island nation was focusing on its initial evolution was far from an easy task.

Suyeon promptly responded to my question.

“I had prepared in advance.”


“When the Knights Templar were spotted in La Ciénega de los Ahumada, I didn’t believe it was a mere coincidence. I doubted whether the Knights Templar, who were in a chase, would carry enough emergency rations with them.”


“In that case, it was likely that they chose to head for a village despite the favorable hiding places in the wide mountains to secure calories. Considering the intense consumption of high-mobility operations relying on physical enhancement, if this assumption is correct, they had a high probability of revealing themselves in another village.”

This was something I should have naturally considered. While pressing my temple, I asked again.

“So, when you say you ‘prepared,’ what do you mean?”

“I found all SNS users living in villages along the expected path and instructed scholarship students working in terrestrial broadcasting organizations to attempt contact. I told them that if they sent any information about the Knights Templar’s combat with the British troops, be it photos or videos, they would receive a considerable reward. However, I emphasized that this information should not leak through any other means.”

It was a simple yet highly effective measure.

“Well done.”

After a brief commendation, I paused for a moment and added another comment.

“I always rely on you.”

Suyeon’s eyes widened slightly. After a brief hesitation, she lowered her gaze and replied, “Yes.”

Author's Thoughts

This novel is a work of fiction! While it may incorporate elements inspired by our "real" historical world, including historical events, settings, and cultures, it is important to note that the story and characters are entirely products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to real persons, living or deceased, or actual events is purely coincidental. This work should be enjoyed and interpreted as a work of fiction and not as a representation of historical facts or reality.
Also, if you find some error in translation please do let me know by tagging me (@_dawn24) in our Discord server. Since this series is kinda hard to translate. But I'll try my best to make it at least readable :)
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