Chapter 149. Labyrinth Exploration (15)

Except for stone statue No.8, which was still fighting Malecia, the remaining three stone statues charged and punched at me.

I quickly avoided them by flying and shooting magic bullets to stop them. At the same time, I prepared some appropriate magic.

Just having enough mana around made me feel alive. In a place lacking mana, a magician was like a fish out of water. For magic, magical power naturally increased as you added surrounding mana to your own as a catalyst. 

"The dawn of a howling dragon!"

Stone statue No.5 used himself as a shield to protect No.10 and 12 from the tens of thousands of magic bullets.

"Where did the morning sun go, knight!?"

Stone statue No.5 turned into a beehive and stopped charging, and stone statues No.10 and 12 came out from behind and swung their fists at me.

"Ahh! The dragon ate the morning sun."

I quickly flew up and dodged. Then I completed my magic.

"And so the dragon's breath will ferociously burn like the morning sun!"

A shape of a huge dragon formed of mana was created above me.

"Dragon Breath!"

The huge dragon opened its mouth at the stone statues and shot out dozens of hot fireballs.

Stone statues No.5 and 10 used their bodies to block the rain of flames from No.12.

The bodies of the stone statues were too weak to block a high-temperature fire like the sun. Some of the ground collapsed due to my magic and revealed the floor below us, but fortunately, it did not affect the entire ruins.

Despite launching that magic in a fit of anger, I managed to control myself well. I took out the improved mana recovery potion from my subspace and approached the rubble, which used to be the stone statues.

The core of the golem didn’t get destroyed as well, did it?

I carelessly launched that magic with all my might so it could have easily been crushed if something went wrong. If it got crushed, the soul contained in the core of the golem would ascend, but it would be a waste for the core containing the essence of a great madosa to disappear.

As I approached the wreckage that used to be stone statues, stone statue No.12 lifted itself out of it.

I was surprised and instinctively prepared to shoot a magic bullet, but it was already on the verge of shutting down.

- We lost, wicked man.

The stone statue No.12 said.

I looked at stone statue No.8 fighting against Malecia.

Malecia had an extremely tired face but eventually managed to defeat it and drive it to the brink of shutting down.

Come to think of it, I was doubtful when Dane Walker said he was called Mercenary King, but at that level, it was enough to be called that.

- Do you know that person, wicked man?

I shook my head when stone statue No.12 asked while looking at Malecia. "No, this is my first time seeing him.”

- Is that so? The person is an impressive man. If I had met him during my lifetime, he would have been a good rival. What a pity.

The voice of stone statue No.12 was full of regret.

Obviously, it was natural that it couldn’t use its ability to its fullest when using an unfamiliar and dull body of a golem against a knight with an extremely well-trained physique.

"But he managed to break two of you. Don’t you think he's stronger?”

When I asked in a playful voice, stone statue No.12 became livid.

- That's not true! Wicked man. Do you know how many throats of Giants I slit in one strike during the prime of my life? I cut three in one strike and two more after that!

Oh! Before the Giant Tribe was exterminated, they were monsters fighting the Crow Tribe for the title of the strongest. Cutting three such Giants at once, if it wasn't just bluffing, it meant he was quite strong.

"How about compared to the body you have now?"

- I have become too weak beyond comparison. Wicked man, we are not from the Giant Tribe. Such a large body like this is a hindrance to our movements.

I'll have to pay some attention when I rebuild bodies for the stone statues.

"But didn't you say you wouldn't call me a wicked man if I won?"

Stone statue No.12 answered like a snake.

- What are you talking about? We said we would swear our loyalty if you allowed us to keep our mission, but we did not say we would stop calling you a wicked man.

Being clever! Well, if they swear loyalty, the issue of nicknames will solve itself.

"So what's your mission?"

I've never heard of such an important mission before. I need to know what your mission is before I can decide to allow it or free your souls.

Stone statue No.12 answered my question with a serious voice.

- We have two missions. One is to stop the Demon King Kanglim.

I cut off stone statue No.12.

"Excuse me, Demon King has already been defeated?”

At my words, stone statue No.12 yelled in a fluster.

- What? No, no way! But Merlin surely predicted!

"And that happened 120 years ago.”

The stone statues were extremely agitated by my words.

"Good for you, you completed your mission. Then I'll go ahead and free your souls now.”

Kwang-!

I cut the head of stone statue No.12 in half with a knife-hand strike wrapped in aura blade and took out the core of the golem.

- Wait! There is still one more mission left!

I grabbed the core of the golem and pulled it close to my eyes as I asked. "What is it? Tell me quickly. I have to decide whether to free your souls or not."

I just wanted to free the souls and only use the core of golems. My whole body was still throbbing because stone statue No.10 trampled me.

- I... I understand! Our mission...!

As soon as stone statue No.12 tried to speak, the shining magic light went out from the core of the golem.

What? Why did it suddenly stop working?

No matter how much the stone statue was smashed, a conversation should be possible as long as the mithril line was not cut off. There was no way something like this would happen unless the supply of mana was suddenly stopped.

…Wait, mana?

I turned around and looked at the place where the stone statues had been protecting the mana stone. There stood a weak-looking magician dressed like a court magician who I thought was dead.

How?! I definitely didn't feel any presence. No, I still couldn’t feel it. Like a dead person.

Come to think of it, I heard that there’s magic amongst curse magic that disguises oneself in death. Curse magicians were so rare that they were fewer than the persecuted black magicians. Just my luck!

"Hahahaha! Look! You stupid mercenary! The one who completed his orders is me, the weak Jiren!" The magician reached out his hand to the mana stone in the middle. 

I became cold at the sight. "Crazy! Stop!"

The magician soon grabbed the mana stone. The mana stone that had been consuming all the magic in the ruin and supplying mana to the magic circle was taken from its place.

"Damn it! What did I fight so hard for?! The ruin is going to collapse, you crazy bastard!"

The magician was drunk on the enormous mana contained in the mana stone and couldn't hear my yell. At that time, the vast mana began to flow back from the body of the curse magician into the mana stone.

"Huh?"

The cursed man panicked when he saw his body starting to decay. "Keuaaahhhhh!!"

Then soon after, he was completely eaten by the mana stone and disappeared with a painful scream.

Of all the magicians, I'd never seen such an idiot touch a mana stone with such vast mana without any kind of preparation. For comparison, it was throwing yourself into a nuclear fusion reactor.

After defeating stone statue No.8 at some point, Malecia watched the scene in fluster.

"Don't move around recklessly, ahjussi."

After warning Malecia, I approached the mana stone rolling on the floor. I also couldn't recklessly touch that.

I took out the demon byproducts from my pocket space to be used as catalysts and placed them around the mana stone to prepare to seal it.

"Dubhe, Merak, Phecda. Three stars gather to block the front."

When I injected mana into the magic wand and spoke the incantation, the catalysts began to shine and respond.

"Megrez, Alioth, Mizar. Six stars gather to embrace it."

The mana stone's mana was trapped inside the catalysts surrounding it.

"Alkaid. As the last star shines, fall into eternal sleep!"

Aigoo, my body.

I was planning to deal with the mana stone slowly, but I didn't even know what I was doing anymore because of that damn cursed magician.

"Seven Star Seal!"

When the sealing magic was completed, the catalysts placed around the mana stone turned into dust and disappeared, and I could barely feel any mana from the mana stone.

This was actually a magic that I learned briefly from Elder Mirpa, but I used it in a rush. As expected, because I used expensive catalysts, it succeeded in one go. I reckoned I would fail two or three times, but that's a relief. Since I sealed it like this, I decided to put it in my pocket space.

"Wait!"

I was about to put the mana stone in my pocket space, but Malecia stopped me. Whatever he wanted, I put it in my pocket space first and said, "Why? You want to fight?” I nodded toward the stone statues that were completely destroyed and turned into rubble.

Malecia said in a cold sweat, "No, I want to buy that magic stone."

Even at a glance, Malecia was at his limit. Of course, he probably would have tried to buy it rather than fight even if he was in top condition.

"Magic stone? Ah, was this a magic stone?"

Mana stone was a stone produced from the hardening of mana in the body of a demon or a dragon, while a magic stone was a stone produced by the hardening of mana in nature. If there was a difference, the magic stone had mana so pure that it could even be called a spirit stone. Well, it didn't mean anything after 500 years.

"I can give you as much money as you want. Won’t you give me that magic stone?"

I shook my head at Malecia's offer. "This is also a precious thing for a magician."

When I aimed the magic wand with the nuance of asking if he wants to try, Malecia put his sword back and raised his hands.

"I surrender."

This was not a place where people lived. I could go wild if there was no one to die by my mistake.

"Good choice."

Now, let's slow down the collapse of the ruin. As long as the mana stone was away from the magic circle, there was no way to stop the collapse. At best, I could only buy time to get out. Of course, it's better than nothing. Let’s see... Wait, no way.

While I was observing the magic circles, I felt like my face was being stabbed by thorns in real-time.

Damn it! We’re XXXXed!

It seemed there was an important magic formula drawn on the destroyed part of the ceiling where stone statue No. 9’s sword was blown away towards. I tried to find a solution, but each time, I got stuck by the hole in the ceiling. In other words, it was starting to collapse right now.

"Summon, chirps!"

I had the chirps retrieve the golem cores from the stone statues that I hadn’t gotten to, picked up Dane Walker, and ran to the stone gate where he had come in from.

"Ahjussi, run! The ruin is going to collapse!” 

At my cry, Malecia started running but with a face like he didn’t understand why. "What are you talking about?!"

"That guy in the court magician's clothes messed with the mana stone so the ruins will collapse! If you don't want to die, run!”

"What?!"

At that time, the normal ceiling suddenly started to form big cracks. Malecia became pale and started to run hard.

Outside the stone gate, 20 men were still fighting. At that time, an old man who was still fighting, shouted while pointing his finger at me.

"What?! Who are you?! What did you do to Dane Walker?!"

Unfortunately, however, there was no time to explain.

"The ruin is collapsing! Run if you want to live!"

"We are escaping outside!"

The masked men stopped fighting at Malecia’s command and ran towards the exit of the ruin. The old man dressed as a court magician and the Black Water Buffalo Knights also ran with confused faces.

Crack!

From beyond the stone gate where we had been, a huge crack began to form on the ceiling. Everyone turned pale and ran with all their might.

-o-

Malecia and the masked men went away somewhere as soon as they exited the ruins.

The court magicians and the Black Water Buffalo Knights were exhausted and took care of the wounded rather than chase after them.

As soon as I got out of the ruin, I handed Dane Walker over to one of the Black Water Buffalo Knight’s subordinates, who was also Lisbon’s entrance examination partner and immediately ran back to the Adventurers’ Guild. He was the only one who I knew.

Aigoo, my aching body.

Sitting on the roof of the Adventurers’ Guild, I decided to lie down. The sun was slowly breaking in the distance. I changed into uniform quickly before other civil servants woke up and carefully entered the office.

"Where have you been?"

The sound of me coming in woke up Flam and he asked while yawning.

I answered while smiling naturally, "Oh, I just went to the bathroom for a moment."

"Hahm, is that so? Why are you wearing a uniform already?"

"Oh, I woke up and wasn't very sleepy, so I just put it on.”

"Really? I think I will sleep a little longer."

Flam closed his sleepy eyes again and lied down. I breathed a sigh of relief within.

Since the ruin had collapsed, there would be a lot of work today, receiving protests from adventurers, but I was already sleepy.

I'm screwed. Phew, nothing I can do about it.

-o-

Malecia treated his wounded subordinates and fled to Aries’s secret mansion.

Jiren's subordinates didn’t really take action in this operation so they were safe, but Malecia and his subordinates were not. It was because the knights and soldiers who were guarding the ruin were on alert and tried to catch them extensively.

"Endure for a little longer. We will rest after entering the mansion."

"Yes!"

The subordinates were exhausted but did not show it as they replied. Malecia nodded, proud of his subordinates, and entered through the door of Aries's mansion.

"You’ve arrived?"

Inside the mansion, Aries was wearing a black mask and sat on the sofa drinking tea leisurely.

"Ma-aaster!"

When Malecia and his subordinates all bowed down on one knee, Aries put down the teacup he was holding.

"And the Miracle Crystal?" asked Aries.

Malecia broke into a cold sweat and trembled in fear. "Ap-apologies."

The inside of the house seemed to be heavily weighed down by Aries's mana His subordinates felt like they would immediately faint under the pressure from this master.

"Provide me with the full account."

Malecia came to his senses and reported what had happened at the ruin.

Aries retracted his mana. "Jiren, that stupid thing. I told him to move with caution."

When the heavy mana disappeared, his subordinates exhaled like a fish flopping around out of the water.

"I am sorry. I should have done it right—” Malecia bowed his head in shame. 

Aries got up from his seat. "It’s fine. It is a shame, but the Miracle Crystal is just secondary. If the ruin has collapsed, then that’s fine."

Malecia could not understand what Aries said.

"Rather, tell me more in detail about the person in the half-white mask."

"Yes! I will. But before that—” Malecia looked towards his subordinates and Aries nodded.

"Good job. Go up and rest."

At Aries’s command, the subordinates stood up and saluted.

"We receive your orders!"

With that, they went straight up the mansion.

Malecia also got up from his seat and began to talk more about the mysterious person in the half-white mask.

Aries listened with interest over a cup of warm tea.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter