15-Intermission 10. Ruin Exploration
※Not from Satou's POV either this time.
People who aren't familiar with Yasaku the explorer, please look at the afterword.
This turned out oddly longer than planned, please excuse me as this is the last one before Chapter 16.
"Fall down, you crane fly!"
The arrow I shot hit the enemy right in the forehead.
"Yasaku, harpies ain't bugs y'know."
"To begin wiiith, there'ss no bug called crane flyyy."
Tan the magic swordsman cuts down the incoming harpy, then priest Kyura's pole mace crushes the fallen harpy's head.
No, I'm sure it was in the line Ancestor King-sama said when he shot down a flying wyvern in the legend.
"You guys don't know that. Crane fly must exist."
As if reacting to me, several harpies perching on top of the cliff sing all at once.
"Yasaku, Charm incoming!"
"Ou! <<DISTURB>> Blue Magic Bow."
Blue Magic Bow in my hand shined red, and the arrow shot from it demolished the harpies' charming voice.
Jeez, I ain't gonna fight my charmed friends in this narrow path.
"The ruin should be around here according to the map..."
"Stop fooling around and help, you!"
In this situation where we're being surrounded by a flock of harpies, lightning magician Sheriona nonchalantly unfolds the map.
"Ain't this the best time for your flashy magic to get to work!"
"Ah, no no, baaad. Yasakuuu, you should properly listen to what others are sayiiing."
"We told you that the rocks in this gorge are combustible didn't we."
The two women reproached me.
Felt like even the harpies joined in to ridicule me.
"Shut up, shut up, shut up!"
I shot down the harpies one after another with superhuman speed.
The flock finally ran away after I routed around 20 harpies.
"Ah, so tired."
I lean my back on the ground, takes the water bag on my waist and moisten my mouth.
Arid wind of the gorge quickly dried my sweat, but it was far from pleasant due to the weird bad odor it carried.
I put my mana into desalinating magic tool and refill the water bag with water.
It's an expensive magic tool (consumable goods), but it's indispensable when exploring desolate places.
"Geez, mr. Kelten sure got us some pesky quest."
I chew the salty hard dried meat, chowing down the dull tasteless meal.
We could have cooked harpy meat, but having a barbecue party at a place like this might invite some strong monster out of nowhere.
Only eccentric nobles and careless beginners would do such a suicidal act.
"You're one to talk."
"Indeed. Yasaku, you were the one who jumped on this quest first thing first weren't you."
I push away my past memory to oblivion and gaze at the magnificent gorge.
This place is a great canyon at the boundary of a territory under direct control of the king, far south-southwest from the Labyrinth City.
We came to this remote place by the request of Marquis Kelten in the Royal Capital.
If we don't get back to the Labyrinth City soon, people might think that we've kicked the bucket in the middle of this journey.
"Weird. The ruin's entrance should be around here according to the map."
"You sure you're not missing any mark?"
Sheriona dropped the bag on her back, took out an ancient document and turned the pages.
I peeked from her side, but since I couldn't read ancient language at all, I only reconfirmed once.
"Did you hear that?"
Tan muttered and dubiously looked around at the surroundings.
I strained my ears and heard a faint goat cry-like sound, "Meeee."
I peeked below the cliff and found a stranded goatling on a ledge far down.
Since the wire I fitted on my arms can't reach it, I take out a rope from my knapsack and tie it to a mountain-side rock.
"What a whimsical guy."
"Ain't it fine, we're free till we find a clue from the ancient document anyway right?"
Besides, if I save it when it's still young, it might come back when it's ripe for eating.
I wind the rope on my waist and get down the cliff.
That happened when I got halfway through.
The rock my right hand was grasping came off with a thud.
One bad thing after another, right at the same time, the foothold under my left leg collapsed.
I desperately look around while sliding down the steep.
Found a handy-looking dead tree slightly far away.
I shoot the wire on my right hand at the dead tree.
I twist my body and shoot the wire on my left hand.
The wire passed the dead tree in vain.
I heard Tan's voice up above and then a transparent magical pedestal appeared below me.
I landed on the magical pedestal and managed to cling to it somehow.
"You saved my ass, Tan!"
"I can't keep it for long. Find a foothold quick!"
Looks like handsome men are also capable men.
Just like me.
Afterward, I got down the cliff without problem, and reached the panicking goatling.
While taking a deep breath, I roll back the useless wires, and refill the launcher magic tool.
The goatling got scared when it saw me and edged back while crying feebly.
It's about to fall off the ledge.
"Good boy. Don't move okay."
I approach it with coaxing voice, but there's no effect whatsoever.
Whenever the goatling stepped back, pebbles and soils fell off the ledge.
"It stands to reason, Yasaku's face is that of a carnivore."
"He only ever eats meat in the city after all."
I could hear Tan and priest Kyura's interruption above the cliff.
"Oh shut it!"
I reflexively shouted, the goatling got scared and lost its footing on the ledge.
The goatling's scream that sounded like its last echoed in the gorge.
I shot the wire on my arm at once.
Third time's the charm as the wire gets the job done this time.
I reel the wire while being careful not to break it and put the goatling back on top of the ledge.
"Geez, you're one little trouble."
I lie at the ledge while hugging the trembling goatling.
"The heck's that?"
I felt something odd from the rock face at the back.
"Yasaku! Did you find something!?"
"Wait a sec!"
I approach the rock cliff while holding the goatling.
"Branch growing out of a rock...."
My stretched hand slipped through the rock.
I pulled it back in a hurry, the hand under the glove was the same as always.
--It's an illusion.
I readied myself and plunged into the rock face first.
There's a shallow cave inside, with a hidden door even.
Looks like this is the entrance we're looking for.
I came back to the ledge and called my friends aloud.
"You think Goatsuke safely got back home to his parents?"
I muttered while shooting down a vampire bat swooping down from the ceiling.
The ruin's ceiling is so high that even Tan's force magic [Magic Lamp]'s light can't reach it.
"He's fiine. We droove away the goat-eaaating harpiees."
"You're right. Goatsuke must be jumping up and down energetically in the mountain now."
When I was talking with priest Kyura while fighting, a point blank electric shock ran through.
"Oy, watch it!"
When I complained to lightning magician Sheriona, she pointed behind me with a nice smile on her face.
"Geh, Wall Slime."
"Jeez, you two aren't beginners, don't lose your focus when exploring."
"I'm ashamed of myself."
I took out a molotov out of my bag and hurled it at the slime, burning it.
There's no way one bottle of this is enough to burn the resistant slime down, but as the fire-hating slime gets burned, it runs away into a crack in the wall.
I thoroughly check the narrow passage while surmounting standard traps and poisonous scorpions.
"Suspended ceilings, pitfalls, filling the passage with electricity when you push a button, can't believe this guy put all these."
"It seems like the designer of this place likes to make traps as a hobby."
"There's even chain reaction traps."
"Traps are nothing much. Yasaku will disarm them anyway--"
Like hell they are.
Just how nerve wrecking do you think disarming even one of them is.
"--The real problem is that this magic facility is functioning."
"According to the legend, this should have been a magic facility from 600 years ago. Simply maintaining the fixture magic is one thing, but normally, things that consume mana like electric traps should have been halted."
"It seeems, the monsters invaaaded through the ventilations and settled dooown on their own."
True, the monsters we met so far were all slimes or small ones.
"I can feel magic power from below."
"Tan, use detection magic."
Believing Sheriona's intuition, I asked Tan who could use force magic to inspect it closely.
If there were someone who could use wind magic and the rare space magic, detecting things would be easier, but in a case like this, force magic that can be used to pull in mana isn't inferior to them.
After finishing the chant, Tan concentrated with eyes closed.
"It's quite deep."
Sweat ran down Tan's face.
"Strong magic power."
Tan opened his eyes and wiped the sweat using his sleeve.
"There's a chance that there's a large magic furnace usually used in a fort or a large airship, or perhaps a powerful monster."
The fact that the ruin hasn't died is a happy miscalculation, but in case of the latter, we might end up having to fight an unbelievably strong monster.
"What should we do, Yasaku? Go back?"
"Pshaw, 'course we're gonna see it to the end."
We wouldn't have been explorers, if we turned tail and ran here.
People like that would have bought a farmland and slaves with money from exploring labyrinths, and lived their life in ease and comfort.
"Umu, let's go. Toward the unknown."
Tan spoke unenthusiastically.
It doesn't sound like a sarcasm when a guy with a good face said that, awesome.
"Theen, leet's gooo. Sherii, which wayyy to the manaaa?"
We go toward where the magic power Sheriona sensed.
"It's wide, is that dark place a pitfall?"
While muttering, I put a fire on a torch I took from my waist and throw it at the darkness.
The torch drew an arch, rebounded on the floor once and fell into the deep darkness.
"Seems quite deep. Will the rope be long enough?"
"It appears we don't need it."
"Yasaku, look at that."
Sheriona and Tan pointed at the ceiling, toward an elevator-like thing.
We created footholds to reach the elevator using Tan's force magic [Cube], but for some reason I had to crawl into the elevator along those footholds.
Geez, these guys sure are rough with their leader.
The elevator's lever was a bit rusty, but I managed to make it work by putting a little power into it.
I lower the elevator to where my friends are waiting and descend down while taking turn to operate the handle lever.
"It's clear now that we're down here."
"Yeah, even I know this. This vibration must be magic furnace."
The lowest floor has three passages, we're advancing in one of them.
This passage is also full of traps just like the one above. We're pressing forward with similar hardships like before.
Since it was bothersome, excepts traps that activated by themselves, I only put marks on the places that became the switches for those traps while we passed them.
There were several rooms along the way, but there wasn't even a hint of treasures at all.
We arrived before a huge door before long.
"About time for something to appear."
"Yeah, don't let your guard down."
Just as we had guessed, there was a functioning magic furnace ahead.
The wall on one side has been broken, revealing rocks of the same color as the valley rock's.
Seems like there's no powerful monster we had feared.
We nodded at Sheriona's word as we looked up at the buzzing magic furnace.
The magic furnace here is a type that has a particularly high output.
Since the majority of magic furnaces are of this type.
However, in order to maintain this type of furnace, it needs to be feed with a large quantity of magic stones.
Even if it has a magic stone silo and an automatic loading function, it isn't something that fits a desolate place old enough to be called ruin.
"It appears that it has only been restarted recently."
Sheriona reported after checking the back of the installation.
The magic stone silo connected to the automatic loading installation is huge, the current scale seems to be enough to operate the furnace for about three months.
Additionally, it seems there's a ladder hidden behind it.
It probably connects to the floor where we found the elevator.
"Then I guess the treasures have been taken away..."
"I wouldn't be so sure about that."
Sheriona spoke full of confidence to reply the dejected me.
She tells me the answer when I look at her.
"The magic stones would have been taken away if that was the case."
"Riiight, that maaany magic stones would have feeetch good money."
Priest Kyura agreed with Sheriona.
After taking a break, we choose the second passage.
This time it's a direction with the lowest concentration of mana.
"It's a miss huh."
"Yeah, I can see that."
There were only debris and junks lying around inside a huge warehouse-like room.
Judging from the neglected foundations, this was probably a port for large airships.
The port gate at the ceiling is grown with tree branch-like things, leaving an impression that it hasn't been opened for a long time.
There's a door for goods transport on the right, but it's warped and can't be opened, and the passage seen from a gap on it is buried with rock and sand.
"Not good. Let's go to the next one."
I call out to my friends while wiping the rust on my hand.
Judging from the direction, that goods transport door should be connected to the last passage.
And at the last passage.
There was a residential area beyond that, with brutal natives lying in wait.
"■■ Purification (Turn Undead)!"
The Wraiths inside the room received holy magic from priest Kyura who's holding a holy symbol, and they ascended.
When it's Kyura that does it, the intonation sounds like slow [Tuurn, undeeead].
Can't believe the magic still works.
We've searched more than 30 rooms, but every one of them was littered with undead.
One thing they have in common is the old clothes they're wearing, most are of Skeletons, Ghosts, Wights, Wraiths, and Mummies.
"I raan out of manaaa."
"... ■■ <<Chain Lightning>>"
Sheriona's attack magic smashes a crowd of Wight in the passage.
Tan's force magic isn't well suited against undead, so he's opting to cut them down using a magic edge coated magic sword.
"Yasakuu, any potioon leeeft?"
"I've got one mana recovery potion."
I hand over the last mid-mana recovery potion to her.
I'm also running out of mana, but Kyura's holy magic is our top priority to pass through this den of undead.
Afterward, we passed through 12 rooms, and arrived in a hall with a huge door right when the four of us had run out of mana recovery potion.
"The door screams that the ruin master is waiting inside."
"Yeah, it really does."
I look at my friends faces one by one.
Nice expressions they have there.
No one is thinking of retreating here.
"Let's go! Gimme a hand, Tan."
Tan and I push the huge door.
"--There it is."
That thing is inside a place that's even wider than the warehouse earlier.
"That's the legendary...."
Tan's voice who usually sounds aloof is shaking.
"Holy Living Armor."
Sheriona muttered while looking dumbfounded.
It looks the same as the statue of Ancestor King-sama in the royal capital's plaza.
Kyura spoke like usual.
This girl might be the real big shot.
"Ah, it's huge alright."
It's 10 times as big as me, three times bigger than the kingdom's giant golem.
In the Ancestor King-sama's legend, it was sometimes depicted to be only twice as big as me, and sometimes it towered over the super huge Heavenly Dragon's head as it commanded the army, deciding which one is true was a source of debate among scholars, but it seems that dispute will be over now.
"I wonder if the magic furnace earlier was for that thing?"
"Yeah, you're probably right."
The Holy Living Armor is surrounded by metal scaffoldings, pulsing pipes clad with mana light coming from the ceilings are attached to the Holy Living Armor.
Kyura's nonchalant voice reached my ears.
Kyura stared at a space on the right side of the Holy Living Armor.
"Yeah, what's that space?"
"It is strange."
Just as Tan and Sheriona said, there's a vacant space where another Holy Living Armor could have been put.
It's as if there was another Holy Living Armor on that place.
"Now then, what to do, Yasaku?"
"Well, not like we have--"
I look at the surroundings to answer Tan.
This huge maintenance warehouse blows through four underground floors, and we're currently on the third floor.
Of course, that Holy Living Armor is on the lowest first floor.
I looked around and found a suspicious protrusion on the second floor.
"Tan, don't you think that magic device over there look suspicious?"
"You're right. That looks like it's asking to be fiddled."
There's a floating light globe, control panels and chairs surround it.
Fortunately, there's no one here.
"Looks like we can get down there. Let's take a look."
We get down the maintenance ladder toward the floor below.
"Don't dawdle and get down."
"Hey! Don't look up!"
"Don't speak like a maiden you!"
"No matter how ooold they are, women are aaall maiden you knooow."
"Don't speak like I'm an elderly!"
We might have been too careless.
With clattering noises, the floorboards in the passage between us and the control panel peeled off and formed into angular crab golems.
"What the heck are those!"
"History book states that Holy Living Armor commanded countless golems."
"Why are you so calm."
As we were joking around, the floorboard golem's number keeps increasing.
"R-Retreat! Like hell we're fighting dozens of golems and increasing."
Sheriona's huge ass obstructed when I tried to climb the ladder.
We should manage to climb the ladder to the end as Tan's force magic Flexible Shield prevented the golems from climbing it.
"Hold it, don't touch my butt."
"Fool! Now's not the time for that!"
I gave up pushing her from behind and decided to support Tan with Blue Magic Bow.
"Tan, make an opening with Flexible Shield--<<DISTURB>> Blue Magic Bow!"
While resounding like a whistling arrow, the arrow shot from the Blue Magic Bow cut across the golems.
Golems whose mana got disturbed from the inside twitched, shook, and fell off the ladder.
"Haha, good things that they were construct-type monsters."
"Yasaku, let's climb up while we can."
It could only buy us some time, but it bought us enough time to flee from the ladder where we couldn't fight freely.
"Yasaku, they're catching up!"
"Geez, stubborn bastards."
They caught up to us as we passed through the undead residential area.
For some reason, the elevator couldn't be used to go up, so we went to the magic furnace room to use the hidden ladder.
"Haaa, haaa, I caaan't."
"Me too, I can't, anymore."
Putting me and Tan aside, Sheriona the magician and Kyura the priest ran out of breath.
If this keeps up, they won't be able to use magic when the golems catch up.
A certain thing caught my eyes at that time.
"Go ahead of me!"
I urged my friends to go ahead and glared at the clacking incoming wood golems.
"Eat this, damn you!"
I hit the [Mark of Trap] on the wall.
The falling ceilings crush the golems.
"Hmph, don't underestimate human-sama's wis--dom?"
The thick ceiling that hit the floorboard golems shook.
Looks like they aren't broken yet even after getting crushed.
"Are you for real!"
Moreover, the second wave of floorboard golems are coming from the passage.
I shot a Blue Magic Bow's arrow at the passage and chased after my friends.
I could hear their voice from above the magic furnace room.
They're waving their hands in front of a hidden door above the ladder.
Looks like they're waiting for me above the ladder.
I jump onto the rusted ladder as I desperately run from the floorboard golems.
The ladder cracked and broke right in front of my eyes.
I desperately climbed up as the ladder fell and fire the wire on my hand at the remaining ladder on the wall.
The wire splendidly entwine the ladder on the wall as the falling ladder hit the wriggling floorboard golems below.
I'm man who can do it at times of need.
"Yasaku, hurry up!"
I looked back as prompted by Tan and saw the floorboard golems climbing up using their selves as the scaffold.
I frantically move my limbs to climb the ladder.
"This is bad, they will catch up to us at this rate."
"Can't you clamp down the door with your force magic, Tan?"
"Bad idea. They'll just destroy the wall with number."
I look around inside the magic furnace room.
As long as you don't give up, the thing needed to reverse the situation is everywhere.
"Sheri, how about making that magic furnace explode with your magic?
"We'll die too if we do that."
"What if we use Tan's magic to clamp down the hidden door?"
"Won't make it in time."
Then, we should use something to induce secondary explosion--that's it!
"Sheri shoot your magic at the rock!"
Looks like even the quick-witted guys can't catch on.
"This rock is the same as the valley's rock."
"I see! It's combustible!"
"Yasakuu, you're being unusuallyyy, smaaart."
"Unusually is one word too many!"
After getting it, Sheriona chants an attack magic, Tan also chants force magic and remains on stand by.
"... ■■ <<Chain Lightning>>"
Snake-like lightning falls on the rock.
With a small spark, the magic furnace room is filled with flash and roaring sounds.
I quickly close the hidden door and Tan locked it with Fixture magic.
In addition, Kyura the priest reinforced the hidden door with a strong defensive magic.
Earsplitting thunderous sounds and vibrations assaulted us.
Dust pours down the ceiling, creaking sounds echo from the passage joints.
Intermittent roaring sounds continued on, and just when the ceilings look like they were about to fall down, silence finally came.
Since we couldn't touch the hidden door due to heat, we advanced on the hidden passage and went back to the first floor.
We sent a pigeon golem to Marquis Kelten to report our finding of the ruin, and waited until next morning to recover our mana, afterward, we went inside the ruin once again.
"It's a heap of wreckage."
Since the elevator broke down, we looked for another passage and came to the lowest floor.
Just as magician Sheriona, and priest Kyura said, the underground passage is littered with wreckage of floorboard golems and walls that there's no place to put your foot on.
There were some golems that had little damage among them, so Tan and I broke their limbs just in case.
"Looks like it's fine."
"Seems about right."
We went back to the Holy Living Armor room and went to where the control unit was, it didn't look like there would be any more floorboard golem appearing.
Since the magic furnace is destroyed, the Holy Living Armor and the warehouse automatic defense function probably have been halted.
"So, how are we going to carry the Holy Living Armor out?"
Sheriona points at the ceiling.
"Looks like the ceiling can be opened."
"Isn't it working by the mana supplied from the magic furnace?"
I noticed it from that reply.
We had to destroy the magic furnace in order to eliminate the floorboard golems.
We've got no choice but to report to Marquis Kelten and ask him to transport this thing.
We went back to above ground in order to send the spare pigeon golem.
Goatsuke who was eating grass with his parents on top of the cliff sounded happy when he saw me.
That Goatsuke and his parents suddenly looked up at the sky.
Lured by them, I also looked above, several beautiful sunlights pierced through the thick clouds.
"I wonder what is this sound?"
"It sounds sooo niiice."
"Where is it from?"
We heard mystical bell sounds from the rift between clouds.
Overpowering voice fell from the sky.
I instinctively went down on my knees and lowered my head.
Looks like it's not just me, my friends are doing the same too.
I listen carefully to the voice falling from the sky.
It was the voice of god, informing people about the Divine Punishment.
"Looks like the age of turmoil is upon us."
"Yes, that appears to be the case."
"If it uuuss, no matter the plaaace, no matter the aaaage, we will be fiiine."
Looks like the dream of spending the days in ease and comfort at the capital for having discovered Ancestor King-sama's relic has to be postponed.
I muttered and released the second pigeon golem into the sky.
※ Next update is planned for 7/2.
I'm sorry to have kept you waiting. Starting this week, updates will return to weekly release, chapter 16 will start next week.
4-Intermission: A Certain Master and His Vassal's Conversation
8-19. The Battle in the Arena
9-Intermission: The Misfortune of Puta Town [Latter Part]
12-22. Royal Capital Chaos