Chapter 179

Since the lower part of the tree was inside the pyramid, they couldn’t check it out. Zich turned his attention back to the part sticking out from the tree’s exterior.

‘It looks like a root instead of a body.’

From the first place, it was a strange tree that sat on top of a sturdy pyramid made from hard rocks. The top corner of the pyramid was wide and flat, so there was enough space for a big tree to grow, yet it wasn’t easy for a plant to lay its roots inside the stone.

‘No, maybe it’s wrong for me to say that it’s laying its roots.’

“Leona.”

“Yeah?” Searching for the tree with her torso arched, Leona turned around.

“Didn’t you say that this tree looked like a root rather than a body?”

“Yeah.”

“If these really are the roots, is there a tree that you can think of?”

“…What?” Leona tilted her head like she couldn’t understand.

“I know it sounds strange, but is there a tree that has its roots in the air and grows inside the ground?”

“…!” Leona turned around and looked at the tree.

“Uh-uh, that is...!” In her bewilderment, Leona mixed up her words and floundered, but she clearly expressed her excitement. 

“You’re saying that it might not be a ‘root-like body’ and the part that we can see might really be the tree’s roots, right?” Leona shouted at the tree excitedly and pointed towards the lower part of the tree, which was the pyramid. “And that the tree is growing downward!”

“Yeah.” It was still just a possibility. Even Zich had never heard of a tree that grew underground before his regression. He simply spoke his mind after he saw that the part of the tree that shot out from the ground looked like a root. Yet, the response he got from his mutterings was positive.

“I think I’ve heard about it before.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I remember a story that my grandma told me when I was little.” However, as if she didn’t recall anything more than that, Leona closed her eyes and tilted her head side to side. Then she finally said, “Sorry. I can’t think of any more than that.”

“No, it’s a great achievement to have found a target to investigate.”

“I just remember that it was a very amazing tree like the kinds in legends.”

“That’s impressive.”

Rather than a normal tree, it was more convincing that it was a legendary tree since it was in a ruin where they found Windur, Estellade, and Tornium. 

“Where is your grandmother who told you these things?”

“She is in my hometown. Now that you mention it, I really want to see her. When I got into a big incident, she comforted me.”

Zich wondered if the ‘big incident’ Leona mentioned was related to the Lake’s Tear, but he thought it was better to not bring it up. The important part was that her grandmother was alive.

‘We’ll have to visit Leona’s hometown later.’ It seemed like they should hear more about the story of the rare tree. Zich approached the tree and placed his hand on it.

‘This is a great amount of mana.’ Zich was quite surprised. He felt a pulsing life force within the tree and an immeasurable flow of mana, and this mana flowed through different parts of the ruin.

‘This must be in place of mana fuel.’ It seemed more definite that this was a special tree like Leona said. 

Wiiing!

Zich felt vibrations from his back and turned around.

‘Windur is…’ Zich took out Windur. It was light, but it was vibrating.  ‘What is this guy doing now?’ Zich was thinking this when—

Boom! The pyramid fell. Was it an earthquake? But when they searched the other areas, everything else except the pyramid looked fine.

“Zich!” Leona yelled, “The tree is trembling!”

The top part of the tree that was indistinguishable from a root or a branch trembled. Zich narrowed his eyes.

‘Is it shaking because of the pyramid’s vibrations? No, it seems like the tree is causing the vibrations.’

Unlike the slightly shaking pyramid, the tree shook intensely. Although it could be the different components between a stone and a tree, Zich thought the tree was causing the vibrations. 

Wiiiing!

With the tree, Windur’s vibrations grew one level stronger. Zich lifted Windur in front of him and took a step forward. As he went closer to the tree, Zich felt Windur’s vibrations grow even stronger.

‘They are resonating.’ There was definitely a relationship between Windur and this special tree.

“What is it?” Lyla came running from behind. Hans and Snoc also quickly ran up the stairs. They all sensed the abnormality and came to the top of the pyramid.

“I don’t know either.”

“…Did Windur cause some trouble?” Lyla asked after seeing the situation.

It was strange to say that a sword caused trouble, but this was Windur they were talking about. 

“I don’t know if it’s causing trouble, but it is doing something.”

In that instant, mana whirled into the pyramid, and everyone’s eyes shot towards the floor. Others simply thought a frenzy of mana was gathering inside the pyramid, but Zich and Lyla realized that the mana was spinning like a tornado.  

Bam!

The sound wasn’t nearby, but Zich and his companions felt a swirling mana burst and spread in all directions.

‘It’s a prolific amount of mana.’

Even Zich felt threatened by the vast amount of mana coming from the pyramid. The result of the mana burst appeared after a few moments, and something black came out of the floor. The black substances were unable to form a clear shape and stretched upwards. Something that looked like arms came out from the sides and something that looked like legs came out from the bottom. Then, at last, something that looked like a head came out from the top. Despite having arms and legs, the black substances didn’t look human. Instead, they looked more like the shadows of grotesque bipedal monsters. 

However, they were also different from shadows—they walked on the ground with their own legs and were not stuck on the ground or the walls. 

Whish!

The ‘shadows’ turned their heads. Since they didn’t have eyes, noses, or mouths, it was impossible to tell where their faces were. However, Zich and his companions were sure that those shadows were looking at them. Zich looked at them once and stared at Windur. Then he said, “…He did get us in trouble.”

Lyla agreed, “…Yep, trouble for sure.”

Even though the others didn’t say anything, they also had the same thought. The shadows began running towards Zich and his companions, so anyone could see that the shadows weren’t running towards them to be friendly or welcoming. Zich and his companions each took out their weapons.

Crasssh!

Zich moved to the very front and swung Windur. A loud explosion rang out.

‘It changed its form.’

The shadow in front of Zich morphed its arms from a blunt stick into a sharp blade and blocked Windur. 

Whish!

A different arm from the shadow flew towards Zich. It was now an axe.

Clash!

Zich pushed back the shadow’s knife, slid past the axe, and sliced the shadow in half.

Bang!

The shadow disappeared with an explosion.

‘I hardly felt anything.’ Zich felt as if he had sliced air, but that was not a bad thing since it meant that his opponents had almost no defensive abilities.

‘What’s troublesome is that their attack power is pretty strong and…’ Zich looked down at the bottom of the pyramid. ‘How many there are.’

The shadows looked like an army of ants. There were so many of them that Zich could no longer see the floor of the pyramid anymore. It looked like a wave of crawling insects, and it was clear to everyone that the shadows were moving towards Zich and his companions.

‘Also, they are increasing in numbers continuously.’ Zich did not miss the new shadows rising in empty areas.

Bang! Bang!

After slicing two shadows, Zich checked on his companions. They were holding up pretty well, but it probably wouldn’t last.

‘This might be the end of our exploration.’

“Lyla!” Zich shouted Lyla’s name out loud and took a step back to the side. A large amount of mana was gathering in Lyla’s staff.

Bang!

A huge wind burst out of Lyla’s staff, and the shadows in front of her and Zich were ripped into pieces. Even then, the wind kept on moving forward. When the fierce wind finally disappeared, a clear pathway appeared in front of Zich and his companions...

“Let’s go!” Zich led his group forward, and Lyla followed behind while clutching her staff. Snoc stood in the middle and wielded his lump of mithril. Leona, who was right behind him, shot at the shadows while she ran. Hans stood at the very back, slicing all the shadows that came close to them. When they reached the stairs, they quickly moved down the pyramid. 

The slanted topography was not an obstacle for the shadows, and the shadows pounced on them from the slopes as if they were walking on flat land. Zich clicked his tongue as he saw the furthest shadows climb to the top of the pyramid. It was obvious what they were going to do.

‘They are probably going to fling themselves off from the top to jump down on us.’

In various ways, the shadows were very troublesome opponents. However, despite all these obstacles, Zich and his companions quickly reached the bottom of the pyramid. Now, they just had to get past the statues. However, it didn’t seem as if the tomb was going to easily let Zich and his companions go. 

Rumble!

They heard rocks rubbing against each other. The sound came from the head of one of the statues.

‘No way.’ Zich frowned. Usually, all of his sinister predictions were right on the mark. He looked up at the statue and met its eyes—the statue that had been looking forward was now looking down at Zich. The statue moved.

Thud!

Just by coming down from the pedestal, a loud sound filled the whole passage. The small earthquake that followed was a small addition to the sound, but what was more troubling was that there wasn’t only one moving statue. All of the statues in the cemetery were coming down from their pedestals.

“Tch!” Lyla began muttering a spell. Since it was a long spell, it was definitely an advanced spell.

Crackle!

Flames erupted in front of her. One was the size of a fist, and the flame was completely white.

Bang!

The small flame in her hand left her side and perfectly hit the statue’s chest. 

Crassssssh!

There was a huge explosion. The flame completely surrounded the statue’s upper body, and the force of the flame was so great that the heat of the flames reached Zich and his companions. They thought an explosion like that was probably enough to incapacitate the statue, but they were wrong.

Whish!

The statue moved past the fierce, blazing flame and brought down its huge sword.

Crash!

“…Ugh!”

The blow that seemed strong enough to blow everyone away was blocked by Zich who stood at the front. Compared to the humongous statue, Zich looked like a bug; as Zich confronted the statue’s huge sword, he looked like he was reproducing a battle scene from ancient mythology.

“Hyaaaaat!” Zich shouted and pushed Windur to the side. The statue’s sword was pushed back, and the statue stumbled.

Thud!

The statue’s sword dropped next to them.

“Run!” Zich sliced the shadows coming towards them and ran straight ahead. His companions followed behind him in a hurry as the shadows and statues rushed towards them from all sides.

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