Chapter 178

When Zich and his companions opened the door, they saw a very large space. It was a large area, making it hard to believe that it could exist in a basement. The space in front of them almost seemed larger than the city of Vioulwin right above the surface.

Not only was it wide, but it was also tall. If they built a building tall enough to touch the ceiling, it would at least be 30 stories high. What was more surprising was that this space didn’t have anything that resembled a pillar supporting it. It was astonishing how such a large basement space could support itself without a single pillar.

‘There must be some kind of magical mechanism.’

They felt mana flowing beneath the floor they were standing on. Furthermore, unlike the previous, dark ruins where they had to use mana and magic to light up their view, lights poured down from the ceiling into this ruin. When they looked up, they saw large rocks embedded on the ceiling that poured out light. The mysterious mana flowing in this ruin also seemed to be supplying them with a source of power.

Zich and his companions currently stood on top of a high section of the area, which was tall enough to touch the ceiling. Next to them, there was a staircase attached that stretched down to the ground in a zigzag. Zich led his companions down the staircase. There wasn’t a railing, but since the staircase was wide, it wasn’t dangerous.

While they walked down the stairs, the group couldn’t keep their eyes off the view. They noticed the gigantic statues first. As if the world-greatest sculptors had created masterpieces with their sweat and tears over a long period of time, the statues looked so lifelike, almost as if they would come alive this instant. They were seven times the height of an average human. If they included the pedestal that supported these statues, they were even taller. And there wasn’t just one.

The group arrived at the floor. The statues looked bigger on the ground than from above.

“Woooow!” Leona’s eyes sparkled. It looked like Hans and Snoc also showed a considerable amount of interest in the goods around them. Compared to them, Lyla looked like a predator looking for her prey.

‘It’s understandable since it’s a ruin that may be related to her.’ Zich thought of Windur hanging on his back. After guiding Zich to this place, Windur returned to its original form coyly like it had finished its job and hung quietly on Zich’s back.

‘Windur definitely seems to have a connection with this ruin. If Lyla also has a connection to this place, does that mean she has some connection to Windur too?’ That was only a possibility. They both had a connection to the ruin, but they could also have no connection with each other. ‘I guess I should search the ruin for now.’

Zich’s companions were waiting for him to make the first move.

“Let’s search the areas closest to us first.” Zich pointed at the nearest statue. When they got to the foot of the statue, it was impossible to see the statue’s face without arching their necks completely.

“Do you think he was a king, sir?” Like Hans said, the statue was clearly an image of a king.

The statue’s hand laid on top of a sword handle, and a cape draped over most of its body exuded elegance, displaying the sculptor’s outstanding skills. The costume that peeked out from the inside of the cape was also delicately carved. Most of all, the fancy crown on the statue’s head indicated who the statue was supposed to be.

“If this is a ruin from the ancient empire that Leona told us about, he must not be a king but an emperor.”

“Ah, that’s right, sir.”

Meanwhile, Lyla stood close to the pedestal that supported the statue.

“It’s not just a pedestal.”

“Yes, a pedestal wouldn’t have a door hanging on it.” As Zich said, the pedestal had a stone door.

‘Is it a stone chamber instead of a pedestal? Well, I can guess what it’s for.’ Zich guessed that this was the statue figure’s cemetery and one didn’t need to see its insides to see what would be in there. Zich gestured at his companions to back away. There were usually many traps around a burial site, and it might be the same case here.

Thud!

Unexpectedly, the door opened easily. Zich searched the inside. There weren’t any traps, and he gestured to his companions that it was safe for them to proceed. The interior of the stone chamber wasn’t large compared to the exterior. It could fit about ten adults at most, and there was an item in the center of the room.

‘I knew it.’ Zich nodded when he saw that item. There was a square item, carved from a long slab of stone. It was a coffin.

“Like I thought, it’s a cemetery,” Lyla murmured next to Zich.

Snoc and Hans exchanged opinions.

“Do you think the person inside this cemetery is the statue?”

“Wouldn’t that be the case?”

Zich agreed with them and approached the coffin. Surprisingly, the coffin looked normal. Without even a simple symbol, the coffin starkly contrasted the magnificent exterior.

Seeing the simple-looking coffin, Lyla suggested, “Maybe he wasn’t a very great man.”

“I don’t think that’s the case. Even if he was someone who had great authority during his time, he probably thought it was all meaningless after death or the immense exterior of the burial site was enough to show off his power.”

“That sounds more like it.” Lyla readily agreed with Zich.

Zich placed his hand on top of the coffin. “You’re going to open it?”

“We might need it.”

There was no real reason except curiosity for Zich to open the coffin. He was fully confident in his sense of self, and it was only a matter of time before he’d regain his original power from his pre-regression days. There was really no need for Zich to peek into every coffin that seemed to belong to an emperor from an ancient empire.

‘It’s because of me.’ Lyla could guess his intentions.

Zich gestured to the others to back off again.

Drrrrrr! The rough sound of stones colliding against each other rang throughout their surroundings. A door that could have been closed for thousands of years was finally opening once again.

“…There aren’t any traps.”

Zich’s tone was hard to pinpoint. However, since he said there were no traps, everyone gathered around the coffin. They were very surprised by what was in the coffin.

“Ah, what? A l-live person?”

“No, he’s dead,” Zich coldly replied to Snoc’s surprised outburst. Lyla kneeled next to the coffin. Then she carefully put her finger on the nose of the old man who looked like he was fast asleep. 

“He’s not breathing. It really is just a corpse.”

“It’s probably the result of the mana flow in this ruin. The same flow that was maintaining the murals on the wall.”

Zich grabbed the corpse’s face and moved its head around. As if the person had recently died, the corpse’s neck moved smoothly and its face looked vibrant.

“Judging by his face, he resembles the statue on top of this stone chamber.”

The statue was so detailed and realistic that it was very easy to tell that it was the same person. Zich and his companions came out of the stone chamber and began looking around at other places. All the statues and stone chambers had the same structure — there was a chamber underneath the pedestal of the statue, and a coffin was inside the chamber. Likewise, all the bodies inside the coffins looked lively, as if they died just a few minutes ago.

Each of the statues had a unique feature: different letters etched onto the insular wall of the pedestals. No one could read them since the letters were written in ancient scripture, but the letters were different for each stone chamber. Lyla predicted that the letters were the names and biographies of the people inside the coffins. After checking a few more stone chambers, Zich and his companions stopped looking through the stone chambers, because it was obvious that all the stone chambers would probably have the same structure as the rest.

However, Lyla was still interested in the words written on the stone chamber walls. Perhaps, there might be information about her written on these walls.

“Lyla, you can do what you want after we search this entire passageway.”

Zich stopped Lyla who looked as if she was going to rip the tablet off from the wall. As expected of a magician, Lyla bought things to help her with research as soon as she got a magic box and money from Zich.

Lyla was disappointed by Zich’s words, but since his words made sense, she put the magic box back into her bag. She had a lot of time anyways. Zich and his companions passed the statues by walking between them. Like this, they were able to reach a notable statue. It was different from the other statues. 

This statue stood at the very back, and it was a head taller than all the other statues. The statue’s posture was also different from the other statues; it was in the shape of a person stretching forward vigorously with a sword. It looked special, even from a glance. 

“This guy seems to be the best out of everyone here.” Zich looked up at the statue’s beaming eyes and said, “Judging by the statue’s placement and size, he seems like the emperor who founded the empire.”

Leona said, “Ah, then he’s probably the Golden Emperor.”

‘Another cringy nickname came out.’ Zich requested Leona to continue by turning his gaze towards her.

“He was the one who founded the ancient empire and led the empire to its golden age. I heard that people in the empire all called him the Golden Emperor.”

“Yeah, that seems like enough to receive special treatment like this.”

Zich and his companions went inside the chamber of what might be the chamber of the ‘Golden Emperor.’ They thought that there might be something special in his chamber, but there was nothing special about it. The chamber was only a bit bigger, and there was just a plain coffin inside it.

“There’s nothing much inside here either. I guess he wasn’t a greedy person.” Zich even opened the coffin and clicked his tongue. There was nothing interesting about it, let alone any information that could help Lyla. 

‘It really seems like it's a cemetery for the imperial family—or something similar to that.’ Zich lost all interest in the statues. ‘There’s only this pyramid left now.’

A large pyramid existed behind the statue of the Golden Emperor. On top of the pyramid, something that looked like a tree sprouted out of it.

‘But they don’t seem to be really interested in this.’

Lyla was interested in the mysterious letters etched onto the stone chambers, and Hans and Snoc were focused on the statues, which were probably the statues of emperors from an ancient empire. 

‘Are Leona and I the only ones interested in the pyramid?”

As an elf, Leona was probably interested in the tree on top of the pyramid. Zich clapped his hands to gain the attention of all his companions. “I’m going to look around the top of the pyramid, so you guys do whatever you want.”

With these words, Zich moved towards the pyramid. As he expected, the only one who followed him was Leona. Lyla went inside the Golden Emperor’s stone chamber while Snoc and Hans discussed the statues’ appearances. By hearing a bit of what they were talking about, it seemed as if they were trying to judge the figures’ personalities by how they looked.

Zich asked, “Do you know anything about this tree on top?”

Leona tilted her head. “Hmm. I don’t know. Maybe, it’s because I’m looking at it from far away, but nothing’s coming to my mind.”

If even Leona, an elf, didn’t know what this tree was, then there was no way for Zich to know either.

‘Let’s first go closer and check it out.’

In an instant, they climbed up to the top of the pyramid.

Leona cried out loud, “Woahhh!”

Zich also admired the view. He had thought this when he saw the tree from far away, but it was really enormous. The shape of the tree was also not ordinary. Unlike an ordinary tree that extended its branches from the trunk in all directions, each of the branches in this tree rose from the ground and intertwined with each other. Moreover, thin branches came out of the tree in all directions and drooped down.

Zich asked, “Do you know what kind of tree this is?”

“Hmm, I don’t know.”

‘She doesn’t know.’

While Zich was a bit disappointed, Leona continued, “But is this really the trunk? Rather than the trunk, it looks like the roots of a tree.”

Zich’s gaze moved to the lower part of the tree where it met the top surface of the pyramid.

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