Chapter 237. A Forgotten Castle and a Sealed Queen (17)

Three days in the Alps went by quickly. The students struggled to protect the base camp against the incessant monster attacks, and the instructors tried their best to prevent the formation from collapsing.

Even with the students' efforts, the battle line collapsed. The Consecrated Paladin Division and Percival had to step in and handle the situation. Thanks to this, Percival earned the respect of not only the students but the instructors too, and he taught them how to lead the soldiers from time to time.

"Ahem, this is my approximate skill level." After giving the instructors a lesson, Percival came over to me while I was resting in the corner of the base camp as if showing off.

"Yes, yes, that's great. Give me your back so I can finish the adjustment,” I replied roughly and started Percival’s final adjustment.

Tristan was hiding in the woods with his presence concealed, and he ruined it.

- Aigoo, our Captain must have gotten hungry for attention in the time we haven’t seen each other. Kukuku.

"Shut up! Go scout instead!" Percival waved at Tristan's hiding place.

At that moment, the flow of mana I was adjusting was slightly disturbed.

"Don't move. The mana will flow backward." 

"…I'm sorry." Percival calmly received the adjustment at my warning.

- I've already scouted. Who do you think I am, Captain? It's clear. You'll have to deal with a bunch of goblins at most today.

Goblins were not that difficult for students to deal with as long as they remained careful of anyone using poison.

- In the first place, our evil Master made us hunt all the deadly monsters in the vicinity, so it's not dangerous.

I smiled lightly as I listened to Tristan's grumbling. Thanks to them, I got quite a few usable magic materials. "All right, done with the adjustments! How are you feeling?"

Percival carefully moved while controlling his mana. "The slight discomfort I had while controlling mana has completely disappeared. In particular, I can clearly feel the thing connected to the Miracle Crystal in your pocket space."

The Miracle Crystal was the magic stone, the source of energy that the dragon tooth soldiers ran on. As it was the highest-ranking magic stone taken from the ruins where the stone statues were located, it seemed to be pretty compatible.

- Then, is there no problem if we go to the place where the Holy King is sealed, as Master calculated?

I nodded at Tristan's question. "We will move after dinner. I will make a dummy for Percival so that we aren’t noticed. Then we will leave."

Percival nodded with a serious look. Then I heard Hillis’s voice from behind us. "Den, what are you doing in this corner? The students at the knight school are sparring, so let's watch!"

"Okay!"

I mentally told Tristan and Percival to take a break before following Hillis to the center of the base camp.

* * *

Malecia moved his hand forward slowly in the seemingly unchanged forest of the Alps. In this place where one couldn’t see anything before them, Malecia was cautiously moving, but a spark shot out from his fingertips. It was the barrier set by Aries. Malecia passed the barrier, infusing mana into the necklace that Aries previously gave him.

"It's a hassle every time I come in here, and it's weird.” The space inside the barrier was not an ordinary space but looked smudged as if water had been sprayed on a painting that was not dry enough.

Someone cried out at Malecia coming in from outside the barrier. "Mercenary King, don't move!"

At Delta's cry, Malecia stopped walking.

"There's a space distortion right in front of you. Go back slowly to where you came from."

Malecia carefully backstepped, retracing his steps, and detoured to the side.

"Jeez, I expected this, but it's crazier than I imagined. I feel like I'm walking in a minefield that changes every minute.” As Iota stuck out his tongue, Aries's disciples nodded. He couldn’t relax because a space distortion suddenly occurred right where he had been standing last time.

To rest, they just had to go outside the barrier Aries made to avoid being noticed by the Butterfly Tribe. Aries's barrier was intended to prevent the further spread of the reverse world’s influence and to prevent magicians outside from feeling any of the unusual changes.

"By the way, our teacher-nim is truly great.”

"I agree, Epsilon." At Epsilon's admiration, Delta looked at Aries wandering casually inside. Aries was observing the process of the castle returning to reality from the reverse world while moving freely as if he knew where the space distortions would occur.

"But it's comforting to know that the space distortions are noticeably decreasing.”

Everyone laughed bitterly at Iota's sigh. They just barely managed to hover around the outskirts of the barrier without stepping into the central area. On the other hand, seeing Aries casually move around as if he were taking a walk in the courtyard, the disciples realized the clear difference in level.

"Oh, Mercenary King. Come to think of it, I heard the knight school of the Empire entered the Alps. How was it?”

To Delta's question, Malecia answered seriously. "As expected, it seemed they were camped out at the entrance of the Alps and training their students."

"It seemed? Didn't you check it out yourself? Then how did you know it was the knight school?"

When Iota frowned and asked, Malecia replied as if it were nothing. "First of all, we confirmed a lot of footsteps around the entrance of the Alps. Afterward, I sent my subordinates to Asterium to investigate and found that the knight school had entered the Alps to train their students."

Iota looked dumbfounded. "The person who made that plan is a lunatic to send the chicks into a restricted land for training. If we hadn't cleared the monsters while searching for traces, they would have been wiped out as soon as they came in.”

Iota’s assessment was accurate. The Alps were so full of monsters that it was called the Monster’s Paradise. If they hadn't cleared the monsters, the knight school would have been wiped out or killed and forced to retreat the day they entered the mountain range.

"But why didn't you check it out yourself? With your personality, you would have examined the situation personally."

"We couldn't get close because it was assumed that a ridiculous powerhouse was guarding the base camp of the knight school."

"A ridiculous powerhouse? Can you go into detail?”

Malecia responded calmly to Delta's request. "As soon as I finished confirming the knight school’s entry into the Alps, I was going to attract monsters that would be too difficult for them to handle, even if they were a bit far away."

"That's a decent idea. It's their fault for sending newbies into the Alps in the first place." When Iota cut in indifferently, Delta gave Iota a glance and gestured to Malecia to keep talking.

Malecia calmly followed Delta's gesture and continued speaking, “But there were no monsters.” 

“What?”

"All the large monsters that I found in advance had disappeared. Even the mutant Behemoth that most demons are reluctant to deal with disappeared.

Epsilon replied, "Maybe the knights who followed to protect the knight school students subjugated them first? I heard that the imperial knights’ skill levels increased dramatically under the influence of General Glont and General Bloody of the Crow Tribe."

"Yes, even though they may be idiots, at the very least, there must be knights to protect the students. If it's the imperial knights, they could likely take care of the leftovers from us cleaning out the Alps."

When Iota agreed with Epsilon, Malecia shook his head. "I told you. It wasn't 'subjugated'; it 'disappeared.' There's no sign of a fight in the monster's territory. That means the monsters were killed in one fell swoop without giving them time to respond."

"Then maybe they didn't kill the monsters but lured them away?" Delta inquired.

Malecia shook his head again. "Then there should be traces of the monsters moving to another area, but there weren’t. Even my subordinates standing guard outside the barrier didn’t report any disturbances.

Aries's disciples became serious at Malecia’s words as he continued, "Looking at the traces in the territory of the big monsters, maybe two or three people moved in the middle of the night."

"Two or three people, you say?"

"One looked like a typical knight who couldn't hide his tracks, and one seemed to be a hunter because his steps were light and there were almost no traces. If there was one more person there, he was someone who could probably use flying magic,” Malecia speculated.

Delta asked, "What is the possibility that they have a different purpose?"

"I don't think they have any other purpose. In particular, the trail of the hunter hardly left the vicinity of the knight school’s base camp, as if he were patrolling around it.”

Delta nodded at Malecia's assessment. "I'll have to report to our teacher-nim."

It was time for the disciples to discuss who would head to the center of the barrier to report. As the space began to twist, the space distortion that filled the vicinity disappeared. And the hazy castle started to grow clearly visible.

- The castle has completely settled in the real world. Follow me.

Aries’s sound transmission magic came from inside the barrier, and his disciple and Malecia sprinted inside.

* * *

After dinner, Percival and I left under the pretext of being tired and headed to the tent. The instructors at the knight school did not keep me in consideration of my status as a weak civil servant who was dragged into such a dangerous place.

Asmona, the escort that Glont attached to me, also did not stop me for my safety, perhaps because I was moving with Percival. In fact, without Percival, I might have had to stay with Asmona in a tent with other female instructors and priests in the name of protecting me. Fortunately, I was able to move freely thanks to a slave- I mean escort, named Percival.

Before going outside, I made a dummy of Percival and me before sneaking out of the base camp. Outside the camp, we were slowly traveling towards the seal’s position that I calculated when Percival and Tristan called out to me.

- Master.

- Master, sir.

I nodded with a small sigh. "I know you're following me, so come out, Hillis."

There was rustling in the bushes, and Hillis stuck her head out. On her head full of leaves, the recognition-interfering magic ribbon I gave her was exerting its power.

"Hoho, you found me." Hillis smiled as she shook the leaves off of her head.

"How did you know I left?” That ribbon didn't have the ability to locate me.

Hillis gestured to my waist. Inside the robe, the place she pointed to was holding the Holy Sword.

"Did you feel the aura of the Holy Sword and came here?”

The aura was so weak that I couldn’t even tell if it was there, but she was able to sense it. What kind of senses did she have?

"Ahem! I'm still a high-class priest! I can feel the aura of the Holy Sword if it’s not too far away!" Hillis proudly put her hands on her hips and stuck out her chest.

- Master, do you want me to knock her out?

Tristan suggested seriously as he hid and moved around in a tree. It was a pretty attractive proposal, but I was afraid of the consequences afterward.

Then, Hillis looked at the place Tristan was hiding and said, "Whoever is hiding over there, how about showing your face and saying hello?"

Tristan stopped breathing and became nervous. Tristan's hiding skills were so sophisticated, even I had a hard time sensing him.

- What should I do, Master? 

"Come out."

At my command, Tristan jumped down from the tree. "Hahaha, cute little priest lady, how did you know where I was hiding?"

Hillis shrugged when Tristan asked warily. "I’ve felt it vaguely since yesterday, but you, Mr. Percival, and Den are connected by a strange feeling of divine power."

It felt like Hillis poked my blind spot. The magic stone that was definitely connected to these two had magical power similar to divine power since it was a treasure of the Holy Tribe. There was no way Hillis wouldn’t notice this when her senses were powerful enough to feel the inactive Holy Sword’s aura.

- What are you gonna do, Master?

I sighed at Percival’s question.

- We’ll bring her along. She may still be inexperienced, but she possesses the skills of the highest-class priest.

In terms of power, as she was a precious priest, she did not lose out compared to Percival or Tristan. No, she even had some superior aspects.

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