Translator: Kurehashi Aiko
Volume 3 Chapter 18: The Spirits Venture Lower
Late at night, inside of the dungeon.
Although the first layers of the dungeon were quite vast, after a few years after its discovery they were mapped with great detail, which made bypassing it to the lower layers easier for Adventurers.
Also, it was a common sense among the Adventurers to explore the dungeon during the day and come back to town during the night, since the dungeon was getting much more dangerous after nightfall.
Nectar was muttering to himself while navigating the corridors of one of the first floors.
「No, I am pretty sure that monster were also sighted on the lower floors, not only on the upper ones.」
「Maybe Senjiro was wrong. But if so, we’ve wasted all this time on clearing the upper floors instead of getting the real job done.」
Said Kyle while turning towards Senjiro, whose ears twitched when he heard that.
Feeling their gazes upon himself, he turned around.
「No, I am sure of it. When I was exploring the upper floors, I have found some traces that were clearly different from all the others. However, I didn’t wanted to investigate on my own, thinking it might be some kind of a new trap.」
Senjiro had a really awkward expression on his face, but he continued to talk nonetheless.
「I also checked the maps at the Guild, but it was nothing there. So I thought it might be good to investigate it.」
Kyle shook his head, clearly not all that convinced yet.
「If he says he sensed something, it’s worth checking out. He’s a beastman after all, so his senses might have picked up something that other adventurers missed.」
Then, while there were all walking through the floor, the floor guardian appeared and Senjiro disposed of it.
Finally, Senjiro stopped in the middle of a small chamber a the end of one of the corridors.
The chamber looked to be already explored, as there was nothing of interest there.
「This room is rather strange. Judging by the Guild maps and the overall layout of the mountains, you’d think that something is bound to be here.」
「Let’s search it and see if there’s anything here that we might have missed.」
Nectar ordered Kyle and Senjiro to stay at the entrance, while he stood in the middle of the chamber, poking his staff around the floor.
When he did so, there was light coming from his staff and the magical power spreads throughout the area.
Nectar closed his eyes and focused all of his senses, but the opened them soon enough.
「I found something. There are traces of magic on the right wall. It is well-hidden, so no wonder that ordinary magicians were unable to detect it.」
「Is it still operational?」
「Probably, but I want to study it just in case.」
Noticing that Nectar’s bad habit were starting to kick in, Kyle walked up to his friend and poked him with his finger, while he was busy studying the wall.
「Nectar, I know that this is your hobby, but we don’t have much time.」
「Hmm, it seems like a completely new area of ancient magic. It is something that combines a bunch of words into one huge and complex mechanism, rather than just using one word –– “hide”. Moreover, if you don’t disarm it in a proper way, the defense mechanism will kick in and the guardians will come here. What to do? First, let’s decipher every single word……」
「You didn’t hear the word I said, did you now?」
Seeing that he would not reach Nectar with any kind of words, Kyle simply gave up on the idea and rejoined Senjiro, so the two could wait for Nectar to finish what he was doing.
Most dungeons that were still operational had magical lights installed in them, and since they were as bright as a day, you didn’t have to worry about being unable to see inside of the dungeon’s corridors.
Kyle watched Nectar performing the complex analysis, while Senjiro turned towards him and opened his mouth.
「It’s about time for the party to start. Think Ligurila and Lava will be okay?」
「Yes, the time is about right. And yes, I think they will be alright.」
Although the customs of this country were unknown to Kyle, he could tell from his experiences at Ballow that the parties usually started well in the evening and continued throughout the night.
When Lava and Ligurila told them that they managed to get a friend at one of such parties the guys were glad to hear it, but once they heard that it was the daughter of Countess Avar, their jaws literally dropped to the ground. They also quickly realized that this state of affairs would make their investigation much easier.
However, none of them could get rid of the feeling that while there were down here, they were missing much of the fun that was happening outside.
「I know that they are giving it their best, but I can’t help it but to feel worried.」
「So you feel like that too, huh?」
Seeing Senjiro’s worried expression, Kyle smiled bitterly at him.
「For the time being, the only thing we can do is to give it our best as well. We could wait for some intel from them first, but since we are basically doing some reconnaissance, it shouldn’t be that much of a problem.」
「Alright, I’m done analyzing it.」
Nectar stood up and said that with a serious look on his face, while Kyle was amazed.
「If we don’t hurry up and finish things here, we might miss the chance to see Lava in her dress!」
「Ah, I see now how it is.」
Without any kind of concern for his companions, Nectar placed his hand on the wall.
As the magic around the chamber began to grow denser, Kyle could see Nectar’s hair raising slightly, and glowing bright.
Then, a pale light illuminated the whole wall, reveiling the vertical crack in in that began to move to the sides.
Beyond that wall, there was a whole new corridor which began to light up.
It was so small that only a one person could possibly squeeze through it at a time, rubbing his shoulders against the walls on both sides.
Seeing that, Kyle got a little bit discouraged.
「Is this some hidden room?」
「No, this is probably something similar to a lift. We have something like that back where I come from.」
「Man, your hometown has it all, huh?」
Kyle was genuinely impressed, and Nectar said:
「Wasn’t something like that already installed at Ballow’s department store?」
「Was it, really?」
Realizing that the time has really marched forward, Kyle suddenly felt really old.
When the three of them got inside the room, various mechanisms and spells began to work.
Having analyzed the spells and the machinery, Nectar turned towards Kyle.
「It seems that there is only one destination.」
「We better get ready for some sudden battle, then.」
Nectar nodded his head, and then he put his hand to the mechanisms and poured his magic into it, getting it to start moving. The ‘door’ then closed and the box began to descend.
After a while, the box slowed down and came to a stop, and the door opened again.
Nectar erected a magic barrier in front of them, but even after a few seconds nothing happened.
Once they confirmed that the coast was clear, the three left the box and pressed forward, being cautious all the time.
The area here seemed not all that different from the top floors, for once they walked down the corridors, lights began to light up.
「Where should we go first?」
「I used the scouting spell and it seems that there is a large open area up ahead. A lot of magic is gathered there.」
「I can sense it as well. Roger that.」
During this short conversation they finally reached the door, and they clung to it.
The door were secured by a complicated magical lock, but Nectar managed to disarm it in an instant.
At the other side of the door, there was a spacious room.
The room was dark, there were no lights even after they got inside, but darkness was not a problem for the three, since Nectar and Kyle were spirits and Senjiro had excellent senses.
Furthermore, the room was filled with rows of huge, transparent columns. You could easily see inside of them and there was magical light spilling from inside of them, the light illuminating the room.
Once they looked inside, they had no words to describe what they saw.
「What is this?」
「Monsters…… Those are all monsters, right!?」
Even the hair on Senjiro’s ears were standing straight right now, betraying his immense astonishment.
Inside of the shining column, there was a creature floating, quite unlike anything that was of this world.
Thanks to the high density of magic the creature was not moving, staying in a stasis-like state, but still, just looking at it was making one’s stomach want to revolt. Yes, that was a monster alright.
「Someone put monsters inside of those things and is growing them…… But why?」
「No. That’s not it.」
It was Kyle who denied Senjiro’s words, clearly shook with disgust.
Approaching one of the other columns with a harsh look on his face, Nectar agreed with his friend.
「It may be hard to believe, but each and every one of those monsters is alive.」
Horrified Senjiro gazed upon the rows of columns.
Walking from column to column, Nectar was analyzing the spells that were placed upon them, and with each one he was holding his head with his hands.
「Those columns are some sort of breeding tanks. Someone is using them to produce monsters. Also……」
「They take out the magic stones from the ones that are already full-grown.」
Said Kyle while gently poking the surface of one of the tanks.
The monster inside of it was not fully grown yet, and he could clearly see it repulsing body, with magic stone shining brightly inside of it.
Although Kyle was as distressed as Senjiro, he was doing his best to maintain his composure.
「Growing them like that must take a whole lot of time. Are they using some sort of catalyst to shorten the process?」
「Those are magic nuclei. They cost a small fortune each, but they possess a natural ability to attract magic to themselves. By utilizing that ability in a right way, you can make the process of monster growing relatively short.
Although the question how they managed to procure so many nuclei remained, the three men could easily understand that this was the place in which the artificial magic stones were being created.
「In any case, we can safely assume that the ones responsible for bringing the artificial magic stones on the market are the ones who discovered this chamber in the first place.」
「It also seems that the spells used here are their original creations. Or rather, it hasn’t been that long since the production process begun. I’d say less than ten years.」
「So it means that this whole facility was activated very recently.」
「And still, the place doesn’t look that run down or exploited…… Anyways.」
Said Nectar while shaking the tip of his staff against the floor’s surface.
「This technology is not something that is of this era. It must be something from another place, or maybe even another time.」
Kyle and Senjiro responded almost simultaneously.
Even though this technology was able of mass producing the magic stones, it was also the cause of them standing at the precipice of the monster destruction. It was no wonder that they were feeling disgusted by it.
「I think it’s okay to break those tanks apart, but first let’s cut of the source of their power. There should be a device somewhere around here, something that draws magical power straight from the leyline.」
「Not that I care, but are you fine with this?」
Kyle asked that, being kind of surprised that the always greedy for more magical knowledge Nectar was so adamant on breaking the tanks without fully understanding their nature first.
However, Nectar’s angry expression did not change.
「This act is clearly disrupting the circulation of magic. By leaving them be, we would only increase Lava’s work. If you want analyze them, fine by me. But I’m smashing those things to pieces.」
「I, I see.」
Kyle was honestly surprised that his friend put his wife higher on his priority list than his desire for knowledge…… But seeing that his will was adamant on the idea, he let out a sigh of relief.
「We can’t be sure that our little intrusion went unnoticed, so let’s do this. We don’t have much time.」
「The scouting spell shows that there are more tanks in the back, so let’s go there as well.」
Nectar went to the back of the chamber, Kyle and Senjiro followed suit.
Before they could catch up to him, Nectar already managed to disarm another magical lock.
Immiediately after that, several explosions blossomed right in front of Nectar.
Nectar was too late to notice that, while also realizing that each one of those could very well prove fatal.
However, before anything happened, a grey shade run in front of him.
Senjiro rushed in front of Nectar, brandishing a spear in his hands.
Nectar realized that those were in fact compressed magical shells coming right at them, but before he could even blink Senjiro brandished his spear at the shells, making them all but disappear.
「You saved me, Sen-san.」
「No need to thank me, It was only but a natural thing to do.」
Said Senjiro while looking ahead, way past the door. There, in the distance, stood a group that was blocking their way.