17-8. Growing Purple Mounds
※ Please note that the Recollection part is told in third person.
Satou here. I believe solving riddles have been a form of amusement since time immemorial. Doing that alone is fun, but having a group of friends sit together debating about it is also pretty fun, isn't it.
"It's grown so big..."
I looked at what was once a Purple Mound.
It's grown from a few meter big to dozens meter tall now.
"This thing is more like a purple tower than a mound now, isn't it."
Arisa spoke as we looked up at the tower.
I got back to the Capital with Unit Arrangement to join up with Arisa who called for me through Familiar Link, afterward we headed to the Purple Mound located at the capital's outskirts.
I've forwarded a message to Sera who's waiting at Duchy Capital's Tenion Temple through the previous head miko--currently miko apprentice Lily with space magic [Telephone], telling her that I've gone ahead to the capital.
"So what happened while I was away?"
"It's gonna be a long story just you know--"
Arisa said that as a preface before narrating.
"A change on the Purple Mound?"
Arisa first received the report at her Solitary Island's private room on the fifth day since Satou's departure.
Arisa put away a male shirt she had been burying her face in into her Item Box and got out of the room together with the House Fairy (Brownie) who brought the news.
"What kind of change?"
"The Purple Mound has grown bigger."
Arisa asked as they walked in the corridor.
"What about the other girls?"
"Mito-sama and Zena-sama had rushed out ahead right after they heard the news."
"Liza and the others are currently training at the Ancient Dragon's continent, and Sera's standing by at Duchy Capital's Tenion Temple, aren't they."
By [Liza and the others] Arisa meant Liza, Pochi, Tama and Karina.
"Nana-sama went out to visit Borunean Forest together with Mia-sama this morning."
"That's rare. Wonder if she wanted to go meet the Winged Fairies there?"
The brownie had no clue about the reason for their outings.
"We have contacted Nana-sama, Mia-sama and Sera-sama, but since we have no means of communication to the Ancient Dragon Continent--"
"I know. I'll give them a call with 『World Phone』 once I arrive at the capital."
Arisa, who knew that Liza and the girls that went with her were gone for training, went through Solitary Island's gate while thinking, "I don't wanna get in the way of their training, guess I can hold off contacting them till after I confirmed the situation with the Purple Mound?"
"Arisa of 『Pendragon』. I've come per Duchess Mitsukuni's summon."
Arisa showed her face out of her carriage and said that, then the soldiers securing the perimeter pushed out the crowds and led the carriage Arisa was in toward the Purple Mound.
Arisa had judged that it was of a [Low Emergency] and came on a carriage instead of teleporting since Mito didn't send out an emergency signal.
"Arisa! Over here!"
"Whoa, it's gotten pretty big."
"Around 20 meter tall, I think?"
The two looked up at the Purple Mound.
It's as big as a tower now.
"According to the people guarding the mound, it got this big in one night."
"But there was no report in the middle of the night?"
"""We deeply apologize!"""
The guards in the area bowed their heads all at once while Mito was stammering.
Arisa asked about the circumstances, apparently they were assigned to guard the Purple Mound and none of them noticed any change until dawn.
"None of them noticed?"
"Well, the fog was pretty thick last night after all."
Mito told the reason as Arisa inclined her head.
"She's gone out to check out nearby villages with flight magic."
Zena had gone out to investigate if other Purple Mounds had any change.
"I'll go check other Purple Mounds as well."
Arisa whispered in Mito's ears and called Echigoya Firm with [Telephone].
After all, it's the speediest place to gather information from all over the world.
『About Purple Mounds?』
General Manager Elterina asked back to Arisa whose call connected to her.
『Yes, is there any news about them?』
『So far we only know that the Purple Mound at the capital's outskirts has gotten bigger. Currently we're contacting the people who have been assigned to watch over Purple Mounds in the surrounding villages.』
『Thanks, I'll get back to you later.』
Arisa called off and conveyed what she learned to Mito.
"What do you think? Should we contact master?"
"I think it's still fine, no? Ichi--Satou had already predicted that there would be some changes anyway."
"Guess so and besides, it'd be bad if we called master at a bad time like what if he was talking with the gods."
Mito and Arisa had the same idea.
"So, does it only get bigger?"
"There's some differences as well."
Mito said that and gave a signal to the field commander.
One of the knights removed his gauntlet and put his hand on the Purple Mound.
"It's okay. Apparently it doesn't have the Drain effect."
The field commander boasted that they first tested it by using summoners, then slaves.
For an instant, Arisa and Mito were disgusted at the field commander who treated slaves like disposables, but neither the commander nor the surrounding people noticed it.
"Next, if you would."
The knight who had removed his gauntlet stood before the Purple Mound and hit it with the gauntlet.
"It's lost its physical permeability too?"
Mito affirmed Arisa's question.
"Would love to know if it's the same with the mounds near villages here."
"No worries, we'll find out soon."
Mito pointed at the sky where Zena had come flying back.
"I have verified the sites. There is no change on the Purple Mounds near villages around here. They're the same size as before, thrown stones still pass through them, and putting my hand on them also still drains my strength."
Zena gave a report to Mito.
"Hey that's dangerous. You should have tested it out with bugs or a chicken instead."
"I'm sorry. I was being too hasty."
"Now now, Arisa, let's leave it at that. Thank you, Zena."
Mito soothed Arisa who got harsher with her words out of worries for Zena's safety.
"Then maybe the permeability and the drain ability were for protections until it got bigger and to fill its energy?"
"Un, I don't think there's any mistake about that but we don't know enough to draw a conclusion yet, do we?"
"Well, yeah I guess."
Arisa looked at scholars who were having an argument while drawing and tracing something near the Purple Mound.
Their debate seemed to have heated up, a tall bespectacled scholar raised his voice hysterically.
"What are those guys doing?"
"Would be quicker to see for yourself."
The girls drew near the scholars.
Apparently the scholars were debating about a relief that had appeared on the surface of the Purple Mound.
"Relief of a tree?"
"Look at the tips of its seven branches. At the center of the circles on the tips."
"Colored stones? Bitter orange, blue, yellow, green, blue, red, blue--so many blue."
"Do you have holes for eyes?"
The tall bespectacled man stood before Arisa as she read out the colors.
He raised his chin smugly and spoke sarcastically.
Arisa found out that he was a researcher belonging to Royal Research Institute by analyzing him.
"Bitter orange, cyan, yellow, green, indigo, red, and blue. Those are the gems' colors. They're--"
"Colors representing the seven pillar gods huh."
"T-that's right. Looks like even holes know a thing or two."
The bespectacled man spoke like a sore loser in frustration for having what he wanted to say got said ahead.
"Stop that, runner-up! You're talking with the duchess and her companions you know."
"D-don't call me runner-up! I'm not going to play second fiddle to that guy! My luck is the only thing lesser than him! I just have the bad luck of not encountering an appealing subject! It is I who is fit to be the next chief!"
The other scholar's words seemed to have hit the bespectacled man's nerve as he got heated up by himself.
"Aah, he's someone we shouldn't get involved with."
"Rather, he's the type that must not be allowed to grope around delicate places like this."
Arisa shrugged next to Mito who looked like she couldn't believe it.
Zena only smiled wryly and refrained from commenting.
"Since the spots where fruits should be represent the seven gods, does that mean these mounds are the handiworks of gods?"
"Un, I wonder about that? The base color is purple after all--"
The bespectacled man cut in vigorously.
"A tree that signifies the gods appearing on a tower that possesses a taboo color! This must be something made by demons to release the demon god from its moon seal by sucking up the power of gods!"
"Runner-up! You're going to the extreme. Earlier too--"
"Quit calling me runner uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup"
The bespectacled man heated up too much and became violent.
The guards couldn't stand it any longer and seized the bespectacled man.
"Let me gooooooooo. You'd find out if you just check the arrangements of these mounds on the entire contineeeeeeeeeeeeeeeent."
The guards dragged away the bespectacled man who wouldn't stop his tantrum.
The other researcher might have wanted this to happen that he kept saying [Runner-up].
"Our apologies. He may be haughty, eccentric, irritating and have a short fuse, but his abundance of knowledge is real at least."
The scholar talked to Mito while saying something that didn't help with the bespectacled man's case.
"The only thing we know is that the gems embedded on this tree relief may be of the same colors as the colors that represent the seven gods as depicted in the old documents belonging to the temples."
"What about the thing about demon god and arrangements of mounds?"
"It's just a delusion the runner-up has. It has no basis."
The girls came up with a question after discussing about the mound arrangement all over the world, "Perhaps it's some kind of magic circle?", but judging from the drawing of the mounds' locations they made by referencing a copy of Satou's Map information, they couldn't confirm if that was the case.
"And what about the cracked spot over there?"
The scholar looked at the place Arisa pointed at while looking like he was enduring a headache.
"That, you see--"
It was the runner up scholar's doing.
Despite having been strictly told not to do anything reckless by the higher ups, he came with a pickaxe from who knows where and broke the spot.
"What an idiot..."
"Un, I'll talk to Sete and have him removed from his post here."
Arisa and Mito had the same expressions as the scholar earlier.
Zena smiled wryly without commenting.
"So did you figure out anything?"
"Yes, that the surface of this mound was only about as hard as fieldstone, and that the broken pieces vanished into thin air like an illusion. Once it broke enough to fit a wrist inside, the pickaxe passed through it like it was before the change, and putting your hand on it drained your strength."
"Is it like the shell of an egg I guess?"
The method was rough but the results were intriguing.
After asking opinions from scholars who had gathered at this place, it was decided that they would add more guards to watch over the mound for a while.
<TLN: If you're reading this novel at any other site than Sousetsuka .com you might be reading an unedited, uncorrected version of the novel.>
There was no change on the next two days--.
But the day after that, the morning Satou got called back, another change happened.
"It got even bigger again eh."
Arisa muttered as she looked up at the Purple Mound that had gotten more than 100 meter tall.
"The tree relief is the same as before--or not. There's a purple gem at the upper right now."
"The gems themselves are the same size as before, but the tree relief has grown bigger linearly with the mound's size."
The bottom part of the tree relief got low enough to touch the ground, while the upper part was now about six meter tall.
"And this pattern on the root--"
Mito reached out her hand toward the tree relief while saying that.
"Don't touch it!"
A scholar came rushing.
"Please don't touch it, it's dangerous."
"What's dangerous about it?"
Right as she asked that, there was a sudden smell of blood, then a bloodied man came out of the pattern Mito was about to touch and fell down.
It was the bespectacled man who should have been stripped off his position here.
The lens of his trademark spectacles were cracked, the frame was bent.
"What happened? Runner up!"
"D-don't call me Runner-up..."
The runner up fell down on the ground and passed out after murmuring that.
"People could apparently went inside through that door-like pattern over there, but no one who got in came back out!"
At first the scholar disappeared when he touched the pattern recklessly, and then soldiers went in to save the guy, but none came back out.
"What about summoned beasts?"
"Their magic paths got cut off the moment they went in. Apparently, it felt like they had been forcefully unsummoned."
They were currently in the process of transporting golems from the Royal Research Institute in order to investigate further.
"Look at that!"
Men came out of the door pattern.
They were soldiers.
"Only you three?"
"No, they should got out together with us--"
The soldier spoke in puzzlement and turned back.
But no one came out.
Mito stopped the men when they tried to go back in.
"Tell us what happened inside."
The soldier hesitated a bit before speaking up.
"It was very vast inside. We couldn't see well since it was foggy, but there's no doubt that the circumference was many times bigger than the outside mound's diameter. The ceiling was quite high as well and there were pillars that were thicker than if us three joined hands. We picked up that scholar at one of those pillars."
"What was it that made him turned out like this?"
The soldiers had no idea.
"There was a pattern similar to this on that pillar. He probably went inside that pillar."
The soldier pointed at the door pattern.
"Okay then, let's wake this guy up."
Arisa said so, took a magic potion out of her magic bag and sprinkled it on the man's face.
Despite the rough treatment, the man's wounds immediately went away.
"--He's not waking up."
"I'll make him to."
One of the scholar seemed to get impatient, picked up the bespectacled man and slapped his cheeks around.
He might be venting out his anger.
"W-where's the monster?"
"Monster? If you're really a researcher, describe what you see objectively!"
The scholar demanded an explanation without caring about polite speech anymore.
"A-aa. I found a similar pattern as the one at the entrance inside--"
Apparently, he found different patterns in all directions inside.
He went inside of those patterns to find himself in what looked like ruins, there he encountered the monster in question while investigating.
"It was a purple monster. It looked like a purple goblin outwardly, but that thing is no goblin!"
The purple goblin didn't even flinch when the bespectacled man shot it with four Fire Wands he brought with him and beat the two Living Statues the man came with as a replacement for bodyguards in no time at all.
Arisa and Mito looked at each others when they heard about purple goblin.
"Could it be, the Goblin King's been revived?"
"Must be a mistake, no? That Goblin Demon Lord wouldn't have let this man escape, don't you think?"
"Oh you're right..."
The two returned their lines of sight on the man.
"By Living Statues, you mean the ones stationed here to guard the mound?"
"That's right! Those Living Statues that could knock out several holy knights, like there's a goblin that could beat them in a flash! With bare hands to boot!"
Despite taking equipment without permissions and coming back empty handed on top of it, the man didn't feel responsible in the least.
"I'm amazed you even managed to flee."
"I was treading an unknown territory. Isn't it only natural to come prepared with a magic to protect yourself?"
The bespectacled man seemed to have interpreted Arisa's ridicule as a praise, he lifted up the center of his bent spectacles' frame with his finger.
Arisa asked what magic he used to protect himself, and the man recited the name of a mid-grade force magic famous for its defensive power.
That defense magic got destroyed by the purple goblin in two hits.
He suffered the injury earlier from shock waves of the second attack.
"There were more than one monster. I only saw it for an instant, but more of them were coming out of the back. There's at least 10, or maybe even more, I'm dead sure of it."
"In other words, are you saying that this is a labyrinth? With monsters that are many times stronger than ordinary?"
The bespectacled man gave an agreement to the scholar's question.
"Okay that's bad."
"Would be a huge disaster if those monsters came tramping out."
Similar mounds could be found in the outskirts of cities all over the world, and about 30 of them had potentially turned into labyrinths.
"Un, I know. This is one for Master."
Arisa nodded at Mito and got in touch with Satou through her Familiar Link.
That purple goblin inside the Purple Mound sounds like trouble, but there's another thing that intrigues me more.
"It's been seven days since I went to the Realm of Gods?"
I myself felt like it had only just been half a day.
Excluding the time at the Rift, it should only have taken about six to seven hours.
"Could it be, passage of time flows differently in the Realm of Gods?"
"Yeah, seems right."
"Stop, stop! You two, you've got your priorities wrong."
Hikaru clapped her hands and stopped me and Arisa from getting derailed.
A voice called for me from the sky. It's Zena-san.
Looks like she was checking out nearby villages.
"I'm back Zena-san."
"There is no change with the Purple Mounds in the vicinity. Not only in sizes but also their characteristics."
Zena-san reported to us followed with, "This time I used bugs to test it out." as she faced Arisa.
"Looks like it's causing uproars in other cities too."
Using a combination of Map and space magic [Clairvoyance], I confirmed that the mounds caused crowds forming similar here.
I'm not sure if the purple goblins showed up in other Purple Towers, but at least it doesn't seem like those towers would spit out flocks of monsters en masse at the moment.
"Well then, I'll go check it out."
I walked forward toward the tower's entrance as I declared that.
※ Next update is planned for 3/31