I asked Tristan as he scouted ahead, "Tristan, what do you think is the most important place in this castle?”
Tristan pondered over my question. "Well, I wonder. In regards to the most significant part of this castle, I suppose it’s the Holy King’s residence, the Great Merlin’s research lab, the treasury, the armory, and the food storage room?"
Of the five places Tristan listed, the first three were understandable, but the last two didn’t make sense.
"Why the armory and the food storage room?" I asked.
Percival answered, "That's because this was also the last refuge we had set up in case of an emergency."
Tristan added with a bright voice, "That’s right. So, the security levels of those two places are much higher than the treasury. A long time ago, Modred and I almost died trying to sneak in there for a late-night snack.”
Tristan chuckled delightfully as he reminisced about the past, and Percival sighed and shook his head.
"Hmm, but you two talk as if you've been here before?" Hillis asked, and the two smiled awkwardly as if they just remembered she was there.
"Hahaha, is that so?"
I glanced between the two as if they were pathetic and decided on my first destination. "First, let's go to the magician's lab. Maybe there's a way to untangle the Druid's forest that distorts the space."
Most importantly, Merlin's lab, which researched the long-lost nature magic, was the place I wanted to visit the most as a magician. The three people nodded.
"Then the next destination is the treasury."
"I guess after that, it must be His Majesty the Holy King’s residence."
"After the lab, the armory, Master?"
The three who spoke at the same time looked at each other with surprised expressions.
"Tristan, don't forget our purpose! The armory! What are you thinking?!”
Tristan protested against Percival's rebuke. "Why? What's wrong with the armory?! In our lifetime, khmm! There might be weapons to use! As long as we're sure there are enemies in the castle, we need to arm ourselves properly first!"
Hillis looked back and forth between the two incomprehensibly and shouted, "Isn’t it obviously the treasury? We’re here for a tomb raid- no, it's an excavation! It’s expensive, khmm! Then, we should be going to a place full of historical materials! Even more so if there are competitors!"
I got a headache as the three of them clashed. "Get to the lab first before fighting! We don’t even know if we will be able to get there because of the magic!"
When I scolded the three of them simultaneously, they closed their mouths and nodded. For your information, I thought the food storage would be good in preparation for a potential long-term battle. If the food were staying in the reverse world up till now, time would not have passed, so the food should be fine.
* * *
Delta looked ahead at Malecia with a look of incredulity and asked Aries in a faint voice, "Teacher-nim, he doesn't know magic. Is it okay to have him lead the way? Rather, wouldn’t it be better to order Omicron or Iota....”
As she was speaking, Delta shut her mouth at Aries’s cold look as he said, "As far as I know, Malecia has the best survival-specific skills. And he’s strong. You’re inexperienced. If you actually fight him, you'll have to put your life on the line."
Delta could not accept Aries’s assessment. Anyone who was a magician aspired to attain the level of madosa, and she had reached it. However, she could not logically understand the idea that she would have to put her life on the line just to fight a mere swordsman.
However, she nodded because she could not ignore her teacher's words. "Yes, I understand."
Hearing the conversation behind him, Malecia moved on as if he was used to it. A magician's sense of elitism was cute when compared to the nobles’.
Walking ahead, Malecia stopped and asked, "Master, are there perhaps any monsters living in this castle?"
On behalf of Aries, Iota answered Malecia's question, his tone indicating that this was common sense. "At this level, there must be some sort of intruder-fighting golem in the vicinity of important facilities."
"Yeah? But don't they usually only move when you trigger security magic?" When Malecia touched his sword and asked, the disciples felt something strange and gripped their magic wands tighter.
"Yes, but why?" Iota asked.
Malecia pulled out his sword and pointed to the corner. "Then why are they moving? Did someone trigger the security magic?”
At the same time as when Malecia spoke, statues shaped like angels appeared around the corner.
"What, what’s that?!” When Aries's disciples were surprised, the angel statues gave off a hideous smile and released terrifying mana.
- Nyurak Ahtbimiht. (Intruder found.)
The angel-shaped gargoyles came at them quickly, sounding like they were speaking in reverse.
"Wake up and attack!" Malecia received a gargoyle's sword and shouted, and Aries's disciples came to their senses and began attacking the gargoyles.
"Arrow of Flames!"
"Chain of Restraint! Lock the enemy down!"
"A thousand thorns stab and deliver a grudge!"
With Delta’s curse magic, Malecia shrouded his sword in a strong aura and cut off the head of the gargoyle, shouting, "The opponents are stone! Curses don't work! Use physical magic!"
“Of, of course. The great destruction that eats away the world...”
Omicron freaked out at Delta's incantation. "Hey! Don't use great magic in such a narrow place!"
"But I'm a curse magician, so for physical magic, I only have great magic...”
Iota was struggling with a gargoyle tied in a magical chain, and he cried out in frustration as Delta became teary. "Just shoot some magic bullets!"
Aries observed the battle between his disciples and the gargoyles with interest. "Oho, it's similar to the failed ritual in Zaharam. Was the hypothesis correct?"
Aries was infinitely relaxed despite the fierce battle in front of him.
* * *
"Argh! What's this?! Why does it regenerate again even when you break it?!” Tristan stepped back, shooting an arrow in between the brows of the angel-shaped gargoyle.
"If there was such a thing, you should have told us earlier!" I ran away from the gargoyle and cried out. Percival and Tristan followed me after destroying a gargoyle, and they protested in a wronged voice.
"As far as I knew, they didn't move this freely!"
"Yes! And they didn't smile that weirdly! Uhhh, that's creepy!"
The smashed gargoyle returned to its original angelic form.
- Arhahyiohtgyuk rhulahjbimiht! (Repel the intruders!)
The gargoyle attacked us again, shouting something incomprehensible.
"What are those things saying?”
At my question, Hillis attacked with divine magic and cried out, "I don't know! The light of glory! Holy Light!"
The gargoyle, completely pulverized by Hillis's Holy Light, slowly began to recover, and I said, "It seems when it's completely pulverized, it takes a while to regenerate. Let's run to Merlin's lab first! Tristan, is it far from here?”
"No, it's just a little further! Follow me!"
Tristan quickly ran ahead. "Excuse me!"
"Kyakk!" I picked up the slow-footed Hillis and chased after Tristan.
"Master, do you know anything about those monsters? I'm certain that Master has excellent magical knowledge!" While running away, Percival asked while shooting a sword aura and smashing a gargoyle.
I frowned. "Damn it; there's too much to think about. The most plausible possibility is that the magician controlling the gargoyles is regenerating them in real-time. In addition, the worst part is the unknown beings occupying the gargoyles’ bodies that hypothetically only exist in the Reverse World."
"If unknown existences have taken over the bodies, why is this the worst case?" Percival looked at me confusedly.
"Why is it the worst? Do you think the unknown existences would only occupy the gargoyles’ bodies?”
Percival became pale at my words. "His Majesty the Holy King!"
I felt sorry for Percival, but it was time to worry about us rather than the last queen. No matter how hard you looked at it, those gargoyles were too strong to be normal. It was terrible to think that the last queen might be running wild with amplified strength, controlled by an unknown existence. It was stated in literature that she inherited everything from the Holy Tribe.
"Don't worry too much. If it is the Holy Tribe from the books, even an unknown existence won't be able to occupy their body easily."
Of course, there was no given solution if the hypothetical unknown existences really had occupied their bodies. If my prediction was correct, those pieces of stones would only perform a set of actions that were programmed with magic.
But if it were to take over a person's body, it might gain free will. Then, over time, if it developed, a monster more terrible than a great magician would be born. Come to think of it, there was a story in Elder Mirpa’s hypotheses that said the Demon King was an unknown existence from the Reverse World. In this tale, he had eaten a magician of the real world and manifested into the real world.
"It’s there! Master!" Tristan was running ahead, and he pointed past the corner.
We ran at full speed and headed for Merlin's lab. As the lab beyond the corner became visible in front of me, I noticed a man with one eye running towards us from the other side with magicians wearing hoods.
And behind them, gargoyles in the form of angels were swinging swords and racing after them. I didn't know when I started getting chased but seeing them being hunted, it looked quite ridiculous, like a third-rate horror movie. The problem was that we were doing the same thing.
"Who are you?!" Among the magicians with the hoods, the small one pointed her magic wand and shouted.
Considering her feminine voice, she seemed to be Delta. Percival pointed his sword at Delta's cry. "Who are you!? How dare you step into this place!"
Fighting was a matter for a later time. First, it was urgent to deal with those gargoyles bearing hideous smiles.
I checked Merlin's lab door quickly. Good. As expected, the security magic on the lab wasn't a guardian like the gargoyles, but rather, it sent the person flying into another trap far away. This was the way it was supposed to be. After all, if there was a fight near the lab, precious research materials could be damaged in a stroke of bad luck.
The Black Mask in the other party and I touched the lab door at the same time. This masked person fit the same description as "Aries" on the document given by Milpia.
"You have an eye for detail.”
I smiled lightly at Aries’s compliment. "You as well."
Aries and I simultaneously activated the lab's security magic. The target was, of course, the disgusting gargoyles in the shape of an angel. In fact, I wanted to send away the other group along with the gargoyles, but it was too difficult because the control over the security magic rights was split between Aries and me.
"Hoo, you have good skills.”
"That's what I should say.”
Aries and I were fighting in real-time for the right to control the security magic, and the opponent was hardly showing any gaps.
In the midst of a tense struggle for control, the security magic circle overheated and sparked, giving off a small explosion.
"Impressive. It was just a simple battle for control, but I wasn’t able to win. I don't know how many years it's been since this happened.”
When Aries was amazed, the glares of the hooded magicians were so intense that I began to feel hot. Then, Aries and I simultaneously pulled out our magic wands from our pocket spaces and aimed them at each other.Previous Chapter Next Chapter