Entering the barrier, the mana surrounding the castle was extremely abnormal.
“Keup!" It felt as if you were underwater due to the dense concentration of mana, making it difficult to breathe.
"Are you guys all right?” The other party tilted their heads when I asked worriedly. Thanks to the helmets’ ability to see each other's faces through the helmets, their uncomprehending expressions were clearly seen.
"Why? What just happened, Master?" I was dumbfounded when Tristan returned the question.
"Are you guys not affected by this supersaturated mana?" The excessive mana weighing down on my whole body made me feel as if gravity had been increased several times.
"Well, it's not like we’re completely fine, but we aren’t like Master gasping for breath," said Percival.
Tristan concurred, "I agree with the Captain, Master. Obviously, if the mana is this supersaturated, it'll take a little more effort to create a sword aura, but that's all."
How can they be so insensitive? I looked at Hillis and asked her in bewilderment, "Are you okay, too?”
Despite my question, Hillis looked around with a serious face, deep in thought, before I said, "Hillis?"
"Huh? Yes, did you call me?" It looked as if she had come to her senses only when I called her name.
"Are you okay?"
Hillis nodded and looked at me as if I were strange. "Uh, I'm fine, too. By the way, how sensitive are you to mana to have such a reaction?”
I was undoubtedly sensitive to mana, but the mana here was too supersaturated. Of course, when compared to my hometown, Olympus Forest was crazier. If I thought like that, it didn't appear to bother me as much. It seems I’ve gotten too used to the outside environment.
"But what are you thinking so much about?"
Hillis answered my question with a serious face. "For some reason, the mana that fills this place seems to be the same as the one in Zaharam the Holy Land."
Zaharam, the Holy Land, was considered one of the Blood Emperor’s best achievements in terms of lands conquered. The success of the Holy Land, Zaharam’s conquest, forced the temple onto a leash, while the imperial family was able to lay the foundation for obtaining absolute imperial power. However, the irony was that because of this foundation, the two biggest political opponents at the time, the crown prince and Duke Asteria, joined hands and were semi-forced to be elected.
It was Percival and Tristan who responded to Hillis.
"Zaharam? Oh, you mean the desert with the branches of the World Tree?"
"After hearing what Miss has said, it certainly does feel similar. By the way, isn't it too much to say that Zaharam is a holy land? It's just a place with some branches."
Hillis was taken aback by the two. "Have you both been to the Holy Land? No, but you say that the giant tree is a branch?"
Percival nodded. "Of course, according to the temple, the size of the original World Tree is akin to the whole continent."
"That's true, but-”
I cut off Hillis and said, "Let's put aside religious stories and myths and move quickly. The individual who set up the barrier is no ordinary person, and I’m afraid that he will soon discover his barrier being broken through.”
"I agree. As Master said, I can already feel about ten people coming here.” Tristan stood by with an arrow nocked onto his bow. The presences of those coming over were equivalent to high-ranking knights in the empire.
"Tristan, take care of it."
At my command, Tristan pulled the bowstring with a deep smile. "God's arrow will be Master's arrow. I will follow your orders."
The arrow, shrouded in a strong aura, shone blue and split the air.
* * *
Just stepping into the castle, Aries looked back and said, "Someone has broken through my barrier and entered."
The disciples were astonished at Aries's words. "Just who would be able to break through Teacher-nim’s barrier?"
Despite them being at the level of madosa, Aries’s barrier was too strong for the disciples to dare mess with.
"I wonder if the Butterfly Tribe’s Glacial Devil noticed this place?"
When Delta asked, Aries walked back inside and said, "No, it's not Arpen. That brutish guy would have smashed half the barrier before coming in. This feels like Mirpa.”
While speaking, he thought it felt a little different from Mirpa. If it were the Mirpa that Aries knew, she would not simply create a gap but would have completely neutralized the barrier.
Iota asked Aries cautiously, "These delinquents dare to interrupt Teacher-nim’s research. Is it okay if we don't intercept the intruders?"
The disciples agreed with Iota, nodding their heads. Even if a monster that reached the level of a madosa broke through Aries’s barrier, the odds were stacked against him in a fight against five madosas.
When the disciples tried to leave the castle immediately, Aries said indifferently, "Foolish. Have you not figured it out yet? As soon as we stepped into the castle, leaving through any ordinary means will be difficult."
The disciples looked around in surprise at Aries's words. As soon as they observed their surroundings, they realized that the door they entered through had disappeared.
"This, this is...!"
"Teacher-nim, what kind of magic is this?!"
Despite the disciples’ cries, Aries moved forward, looking around with beaming eyes. "This is the lost magic of the druids. Interesting."
Malecia stuck closely to Aries as he walked ahead and worried about his subordinates standing guard outside.
* * *
Letting loose an arrow, Tristan captured ten black men in a blink of an eye.
"It's not like you, Tristan, to have mercy on intruders.” Percival seemed to be unhappy with the people in black who were caught intact. Indeed, it was understandable that he was upset about the unfamiliar intruders, as they were in an important place where the last queen was sleeping.
"Oh, Captain. The reason I've always had no mercy is that my opponents were a handful, but now the difference in skills is obvious.”
Tristan shrugged and, sitting on the back of a suppressed black man, asked, "Now, Master. What do you want to do? Are you going to question him?”
I nodded. "Of course, I have to. Although, I feel like I know who the intruders are."
These black men were definitely subordinates of the self-proclaimed Black Knight Malecia from the ruins. As my prediction turned into reality, my discomfort turned to reluctance.
"Oh, man. She said to never encounter him. What should I do?” It seems I'll hear some nagging from my aunt later. I sighed and looked at the subjugated guys.
"We will never surrender to any kind of torture!"
"Yeah, okay. I already know that there's a guy named Aries and a one-eyed ahjussi named Malecia anyway.”
“?!” For people who weren’t giving in, their expressions said everything.
I pulled out the documents given by Milpia from my pocket space and grabbed the heads of the glaring black men. "Let's see, among the ones that came here, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta. All right, Delta's here."
There was no way that those who couldn't manage their facial expressions could control their pulse. After slowly calling out the names all the way to Omega, I found out which of the magicians under Aries came.
"Delta, Epsilon, Iota, Tau, Omikron. All confirmed to be madosas.”
I clicked my tongue and put the papers back in the pocket space. It’s become a hassle. It would have been much more convenient if there were hundreds of great magicians instead. Still, since the mana was so heavy here, I had no choice but to hope that this also made them weaker than usual.
We abandoned the subdued black men and headed for the castle.
- Percival, Tristan. Did you hear anything in detail from Merlin about the seal?
The two shook their heads simultaneously when I asked.
- No, I don't think I'd understand even if I heard the explanation in the first place.
- We are ignorant of magic, Master.
Is that the case? Indeed, it must have been hard to explain because magic like the Reverse World was not only spatial magic but also complicated magic that used various other magic.
- Oh, come to think of it, the Great Madosa Merlin said to try our best because it will be difficult.
I had a somewhat ominous feeling about Tristan's words.
- You said he told you to try your best?
When I was hesitating to go in from the front of the castle, Percival urged me. "Hurry up and go in. Every minute, the intruders’ threat increases."
"Hey, why don't we just steel ourselves and go in there?”
When I took a step back, Percival asked with a cold look, “When will you be ready?”
“Well, maybe in 10 years?” Hearing this, Tristan and Percival opened the gates at the same time as if they didn't need to hear anymore.
"There are times when a man shouldn't back down! Let’s not hesitate to go in, Master."
As soon as my back was pushed and I stepped into the castle, unknown mana wrapped around us.
"What?" Hillis looked at me confused when I grabbed my forehead.
"We are now trapped in the ancient castle."
Hillis looked back at the door we came in with surprise. There was a long corridor rather than the vast castle gate we came in through. Is this the "Druid's Labyrinth Forest" that appears only in legends? Of course, this wasn't a forest, but it wasn't much different in that the walls on both sides blocked our view. It was a pity that being told to try our best wasn’t just empty words.
"Wouldn't we be able to escape through the window?" Hillis calmly approached the window.
"Don’t. If you do something wrong, you might fall into the unknown by yourself. Then, you’ll wander through this maze and starve to death.”
At my warning, Hillis became pale, backed away from the window, and came next to me before asking, "Wait, then at this rate, whether we are alone or together, won’t we starve to death?"
"It's okay. I have food in my pocket space just for situations like this."
Hillis cheered at my words. "Oh, I knew it! I believed in you!"
It didn’t matter if Percival and Tristan didn’t eat, so for Hillis and me, we could last around three months. If we ran out of food and still couldn’t get out, I would have no choice but to completely destroy the castle and prepare to be buried.
- Tristan, you're trying to figure out the structure of this castle, right?
Tristan stroked his chin at my question.
- I'm trying to figure out the structure, but if it suddenly disappears like the last gate, I will have no way.
- It's okay; I'll figure out the magic. So,
"Tristan, take the lead. Percival's on guard in the rear." The two responded vigorously to my instructions.
"Yeap! We follow Master's orders!"
"I shall put the safety of Master and Miss Hillis first."
Tristan went ahead, and we began to explore the castle at a rapid pace.Previous Chapter Next Chapter