Extra chapter thanks to my Patreons as usual~
Chapter 70: Red moves through the Ancient-Elf ruins
I came to this mountain countless times to gather medicinal grass since coming to Zoltan so I knew the mountain like the back of my hand.
However, unlike my usual practice, I stopped by the settlement at the foot of the mountain.
That settlement had inns for adventurers who went to the mountain to stay the night but its main purpose was a settlement for lumberjacks who supply Zoltan, with its expanding wetlands, with crucial lumber.
As I did not wish to waste time, I used a Quarter Peryl to buy information on any sightings of that drake.
“It flew toward that direction.”
He seemed to be at about the age where he would join his father to work as a lumberjack from next year onward.
The young man in patched clothes pointed not toward the mountain but toward the forest at the side of the mountain.
I passed the silver coin to the young man and left the settlement.
I’m pretty sure that was where Ruti hid the flying ship?
I remembered Tise telling me that.
They had apparently locked it such that it could not be moved by anybody apart from Tise but there were still many parts about it that were still unknown to them.
It might be a minion from the Demon Lord army who possess a key to dispel the lock and had come to steal the flying ship.
“The flying ship was originally a product of the Dark Continent’s technology so the Demon Lord army will naturally know it better compared to Tise.”
Should I head to where Ruti was or should I head toward where the flying ship was hidden in the forest?
I hesitated for a little while but I decided that I should still head to Ruti’s side first.
Because I felt that Ruti’s problems were more important than the existence or absence of the flying ship.
I headed toward the Ancient-Elf ruins found within the Chimera den in the mountain.
“What do you think Danan, isn’t it a splendid flying ship? With this, we can head to the Dark Continent without caring about the naval blockade by the Demon Lord army. The day of our victory draws near.”
Ares boasted about the fruits of their adventure.
“That’s good in itself but Ruti doesn’t seem to be here.”
“That’s true. But knowing that the flying ship is here is a great harvest. While I’m here, I’ll set up a barrier that will prevent anybody other than ourselves from approaching it. It would be a serious issue if this flying ship were to be stolen. Furthermore, with the barrier, I would be able to know if Ruti approaches the flying ship.”
Regardless of how he was exhausted from casting magic for consecutive days, Ares promptly started preparing and was still able to lay a barrier over the entire flying ship even after having summoned the Spirit Drake today.
That was as expected of the strongest Sage in the world. Shisandan was honestly impressed by his magical power which even senior-class demons would not be able to contend against.
(Divine Protections do not impart knowledge and judgment. That is probably the fatal flaw for this man.)
Even though Ares reached the mountain quicker than Red, his choice there meant that his arrival at the ruins would be delayed.
That time difference would impact the outcome later.
Passing through the mountain, I soon reached the Chimera den.
As usual, the Chimeras only watched and surrounded me from a distance without attacking.
Unlike before when I approached the Chimeras because a novice adventurer got involved with them, this time I headed toward the ruin.
I entered the ruin that had been consumed by the forest and was overgrown with roots and ivy.
Only the flooring and ceiling indicated that it was an Ancient-Elf ruin, made of an unknown rigid but smooth material that was neither metal nor stone.
I investigated that location briefly in the past. The defense system activated toward the deepest parts of the ruin so I could not investigate it completely but this ruin gave me the impression that it was a lot more secure compared to the other ruins in the central region.
I have also looked through quite a number of literature on Ancient-Elf ruins.
Scholars held the opinion that each Ancient-Elf ruin held a clear purpose. Although, in a sense, that would obviously be the case.
I personally saw the ruin which sealed the proof of the hero that was located near the Imperial Capital. Ares and Ruti probably noticed it as well … that it wasn’t a seal.
That ruin 『produced』 the proof of the hero. The proof of the hero that Ruti obtained was not the same one which was used by the previous generation’s hero. Let alone a relic that has been said to have been passed down since ancient times.
The proof of the hero was a brand new tool produced by the same ruin which made the previous generation hero’s proof.
I did not see any of the Chimeras which I normally see inside the ruin.
Ruti probably disposed of a few of them so the Chimeras judged that this location was dangerous.
Proceeding forward, I found a door with a huge hole in it.
“Even though it can be opened properly just by activating the device.”
Ruti probably pried it open forcefully. Although for Ruti, that was most likely the most efficient method, I still smiled bitterly at her brute force approach.
Ruti was not stupid by any means. She should be able to understand the way to open the door if she examined it seriously. But Ruti was a little sloppy in that sense.
After entering the door, I soon found a gaping dark hole.
Normally there should be a lift device there but …
“There’s nothing here.”
It looked like Ruti did destroy it just as Tise said.
I had no choice but to descend without it.
“There’s no helping it … Acrobatics skill mastery: Slow Fall.”
I touched the Divine Protection within me and activated the skill.
With that skill, as long as I had a wall within arm and leg reach, I could use it to reduce my speed and descend at a safe speed from any height. I used the same skill at Big Hawk’s mansion as well.
Gazing down from above, the interior of where the lift device was supposed to be was pitch black. I took out a light stick from my belt pouch. A light stick was a thin cylinder about 30 cm in length made of brass.
I struck the tip of the light stick on the floor. The moment I did that, with a soft whoosh, the brass started burning without releasing any heat. It lit up the surroundings with as much light as a regular torch.
The light stick was a cheap magic item that cost around 2 Peryl with a special magic applied to it and was a disposable lighting equipment that could emit light for up to 10 hours once it was struck.
One might say it was cheap but that was the price for one if you purchased it in a 100-stick bundle. However, owing to the fact that it can be lit easily, that it would not go out once lit and that it would not set anything in its vicinity on fire, veteran adventurers always had a few sticks on hand as emergency light sources. I too always carried three sticks on my belt.
I kicked the wall several times to slow my descend as I descended down the pitch black vertical hole.
The light from the light stick in my left hand could not reach the bottom of the vertical hole. I could only see up to 20 meters ahead clearly. All I could see ahead was dimly lit surroundings that led to pitch black darkness.
Even though I was repeatedly reducing my speed, I was still descending at high speeds so it was nerve-wracking.
I felt that I descended for a couple hundred meters. Before long, I caught sight of the remains of the lift device below my feet.
I found a spot which seemed safe to land on and I kicked off the wall to land.
Even though I was using a skill, jumping down such heights was a little tiring. While I possessed fatigue resistance, mentally-draining acts would still wear me down.
But I postponed resting as I looked around. The basement of the ruin was lit up in some places but the majority of it was blanketed in darkness.
I raised the light stick in my left hand and progressed toward the depths.
In the basement, I could no longer see the ivy-like plants which covered the walls.
Along the passage, I would occasionally see the remains of the Ancient-Elf defense weapons which were probably destroyed by Ruti. Just by bring these back and selling them would net me couple decade worth of my shop’s earnings.
But in the first place, Zoltan would not have shops that could purchase such high-quality items.
“According to Tise, they were producing Devil’s Divine Protection in a section at the south-west region.”
Ruti would probably be there.
I took out a compass and verified the direction before advancing deeper into the ruin.
But why did the Ancient-Elves create such a huge facility so deep underground?
After walking for a little, along the way, I noticed that the building materials changed to something clearly different. Plates made of clay were affixed to the walls.
“These are not Ancient-Elf writings but Wild-Elf writings.”
The race destroyed by the previous generation Demon Lord. Half-Elves like Gonz were said to be mixed-blood descendants of those Wild-Elves that mingled with humans. For that reason, unlike the Ancient-Elf writings, I could read almost all of the Wild-Elf writings.
I wondered what it meant. It was a mystery how the Wild-Elves entered the Ancient-Elf ruins and also a mystery why they carved a clay board with those words.
“Furthermore, the section ahead should be the lodging section?”
Tise mentioned that beds were placed in each of the rooms so the section ahead was where the Ancient-Elves slept … presumably. Although I did not know the purpose of this ruin, that clay board should refer to another room. The rooms ahead are just common bedrooms.
Was there meaning in purposely placing a clay board at that location?
” … Well, I won’t be able to get to an answer just by thinking about it.”
More importantly, my top priority now was to meet Ruti.
I temporarily ignored my rising doubts and curiosity and hurried toward Ruti’s side.