In the past two years, the white half-mask had undergone numerous upgrades, as it was written "ver.7.8" under the right eyehole.
"There seems to be a halo flying above you, Commander-in-Chief!"
When I wore the white half-mask, Caradoc applauded. But it’s not that it seems, but there really was a halo.
"Ahem! I tried including a halo effect with this upgrade."
Honestly, it was really useless, but if it's cool, that's all that matters.
Version 1's white half-mask only had a recognition interfering magic on it, while version 2's white half-mask had a strengthening version of the magic. Then with subsequent updates, I focused on adding additional features.
The value of mana stone and magical materials that went into it was astronomical, but it didn't matter. After I sold some aphrodisiacs through Big Mama Information Agency, I got a little more than a year's worth of finances for an average territory. Apparently, there was a demand for it in foreign countries, too. Come to think of it, a lot of things had happened in the meantime before version 7.8 was reached.
"Tell me right away if anything happens outside.”
Caradoc nodded at my order.
I slipped right into the old temple, leaving Caradoc behind.
The temple seemed so old and worn out that it was abandoned. Still, because it was a temple, there were simple religious murals around.
As I went inside, I stopped in front of a large stone goddess statue.
"Hmm, is it here?"
The stone statue was as old and dusty as the temple. However, the thickness of the dust piled up on the nearby abandoned chair and the thickness of the dust piled up on the goddess’s statue were subtly different.
Looking at the floor where the goddess’s statue was placed, there was a little more dust piled up than the surrounding floor. And as if the dust had fallen, it was gathered by the pedestal of the goddess’s statue. It was clear that the goddess’s statue had recently been moved and that dust had fallen on the ground.
Dust rose when I pushed the goddess’ statue lightly with my foot. There was so much dust that I felt lucky that I had installed a gas mask function into my mask.
When the goddess’s statue was pushed back, a secret space was revealed on the floor. Looking at it closely, it was supposed to be lifted, not pushed. No wonder there was no sign of it having been pushed.
"Wow, who put such complicated security magic here?"
Even at a glance, the security magic that protected the secret space was not installed by any ordinary magician. The person who installed it must have at least been a madosa.
"But it's old-fashioned."
It was security magic that would have been popular about 120 years ago. Oh, perhaps the person thought it would be harder to deactivate it because it was so old.
The way the magic circle was designed was that the trap would trigger if it was broken through with force. It was so blatant that it felt as if it had been made on the premise that someone would just try to break through with brute force.
Clack! Clack! Clack!
When the security magic was completely lifted, the door to the secret space opened by itself, and stairs appeared. I slowly stepped on it.
At the end of the stairs, which was not so far, there was an ordinary door with no magic on it. There were two presences that I felt inside, one was Palamut’s mana, who I had become familiar with over the spar yesterday.
Caradoc and Tristan had pinpointed the location. Maybe I should reward them later.
However, the other person’s presence also felt familiar. To start, I knocked.
Knock, knock, knock!
As manners maketh the man and knocking was a basic courtesy. I'm a gentleman, so I have to keep my manners. At the sound of the knocking, the presence inside approached the door.
"What are you knocking on the door for, uack!"
I kicked the door the moment the doorknob turned.
A burly man wearing a brown mask was thrown into the wall screaming along with the smashed door.
Thinking about it, I thought it would be fine not to keep manners for the kidnappers.
The scene inside the secret space was more peaceful than expected. Palamut, who had been kidnapped, came out with a puzzled look as he held a chess piece and looked back and forth between me and Brown Mask. He seemed to have been playing chess peacefully with the kidnapper.
"You're not on the same side?” Palamut asked.
He didn't recognize me because I was wearing a mask.
Brown Mask rose, clutching the part that got hit. "No! Who are you!"
The man in Brown Mask was on guard against me, prepared to pull out his sword.
I took a liquid sleeping drug out of my pocket space and poured it on a handkerchief.
"What is that?” asked Brown Mask.
I grinned, ran towards Palamut, and covered his mouth with the handkerchief.
"Uh! Uhh! Uhhh...!”
He fell asleep in three seconds. To be honest, I was too lazy to explain. As expected, it's more efficient to put them to sleep.
I picked up Palamut and naturally headed back to the door I came from.
"What have you done to him?! Let him go right now!"
"I refuse! I will take this man!"
Listening to me and Brown Mask, who tried to block me, it seemed like I was the kidnapper and Brown Mask was protecting Palamut, but it was actually the opposite.
"What harm are you trying to do to him?"
"You’re the ones who must have done the harm! You kidnapper!”
Brown Mask was speechless at my rebuke. Then he closed his eyes as if conflicted, and said, "That, that's no excuse."
Somehow, it wasn't the reaction I expected from a kidnapper. Since they had charged into the palace and kidnapped, I thought they would have been crazier, but it felt like I was interacting with someone reasonable.
The distressed Brown Mask pointed at me and shouted, "But seeing that you are also wearing a mask, you must not be an honorable person! You even have recognition interfering magic that’s strong to the point of making me dizzy!"
"Ridiculous! Why don't you say that after taking off your mask?”
Once again, after I hit the nail on the head, Brown Mask hesitated.
I quickly tried to get past him and exit through the secret passageway. However, he quickly came over to block me.
"You can’t leave!"
He punched me in the face. At the same time as I deflected his punch with my left hand, I threw a knee kick at his side. He blocked it by lifting his shin.
In the blocked state, I leaned my weight forward and hit him on the chest with my left hand. When he blocked my fist, I folded my arms and tried to elbow his chin. But he backed away and avoided my elbow.
"You’re not ordinary!" he cried. Then he shook his arm as if his hand that blocked my fist had gone numb.
“That's what I was going to say.”
His muscular strength wasn’t normal. If he was at a decent level, I would have been able to penetrate through with force, but the fact that it was blocked itself meant that he had that much power. On top of that, his fighting sense was pretty good. However, the unfortunate thing was that there was a risk of being buried if we recklessly used our strength since the space was small and we were in the basement of a building. Well, it didn't really matter since it wasn't that big of a building, so I wouldn’t get hurt that bad.
I put a magic barrier on the slumbering Palamut, covered my left arm in a strong aura, and raised my hand.
"Bring it on."
Seeing my strong aura, Brown Mask shouted in panic, "We'll all be buried together!"
"It's not even a place where people live, so who cares?"
He quickly dodged to the side.
My fist hit the wall right behind where Brown Mask was, got stuck, and made a big crack.
"Are you insane?!"
He shouted and began to pull out a familiar brown bottle from his pocket and drink it. That was definitely the aphrodisiac I had sold at a high price.
"Keuuu! Bitter!" Brown Mask wiped his mouth and began to accumulate his mana.
As a person who made that medicine, I knew well that taking that medicine would not make you stronger. It was an aphrodisiac that just had nourishing effects and strengthened your ‘energy’. It only had the effect of preventing the body from getting ill and suppressing aging. However, Brown Mask’s mana began to amplify rapidly.
"What?! What did you eat?!” I was surprised.
Brown Mask put a strong aura around my fist and shouted as he threw a punch. "It's a tonic!"
The aphrodisiac I created has no such effect!
I quickly cast a barrier and with Brown Mask’s punch, the room was completely destroyed. I could see the sun setting in the sky. The temple that was just above was reduced to a pile of stones and got blown far away.
I was going to tell him to get out of the way if he didn't want to be buried, but he made the temple disappear completely.
"That's what I should say! I can't let myself be buried like this!"
"I was just trying to blackmail you to get out! Use some common sense!"
He was dumbfounded as if the thought never crossed his mind. "Oh, is that so?"
I left the surprised Brown Mask and just directly flew upwards.
"Where are you going?!"
He jumped high up and blocked me. Coming out of the pit where the temple was, we both stared and confronted each other.
At my call, Caradoc, who was watching from afar, teleported to my side using my pocket space. It was thanks to the functions I had planted to be able to call the dragon tooth soldiers at any time.
The sudden appearance of the Caradoc surprised Brown Mask.
"Did you call me?"
I said, as I handed over Palamut, who I was carrying, "I’ll leave Palamut to you."
"Should I hand him over to Sir Marsen?"
"That's up to you. But Palamut's safety comes first."
"I receive your orders."
Saying so, Caradoc carried Palamut and disappeared far into the distance.
Brown Mask, who heard me and Caradoc talking, asked seriously, "Marsen? Are you a person of the Fairy Tribe by any chance?"
I smiled and answered him, “That's not what's important right now.”
“So what's important?”
"Of course, how did your mana get amplified from taking the aphrodisiac?"
"What do you mean…?"
I scoured Brown Mask with interest and he shuddered a bit and took a defensive stance.
It was interesting. I needed to know if the aphrodisiac I made had this effect originally or if it was produced by interacting with some other variable condition.
"Don't look at me like that! Doesn't it seem like you’re trying to dissect me?"
"Come on, there’s no way I would do something as idiotic as dissecting such a valuable specimen. I just want to draw some blood and make you do a few things.”
The original plan was to catch the kidnapper and throw him to Marsen, but I could not hand over this precious subject.
"Argh! Back off! If you come, I won’t leave you alone!" he shouted.
I smiled and took a step closer.
Accordingly, Brown Mask took two or three steps back. Then without even looking back, he started running away.