Translator: Kell | Editor: Weasalopes
The Underground Laboratory
First, Hikaru investigated the rooms to the right.
「I knew it. A nap room.」
There was nothing else but beds. Hikaru checked the Soul Board of the man sleeping in one, but he didn’t have any high stats, and there was nothing odd about his name. He seemed to be just a researcher.
Next, Hikaru opted to check the large room up front. He could feel the presence of people from beyond the double-door. He opened it slowly.
The room was even bigger than he expected, almost like a gymnasium, although not that bright. Magic lamps hung high above the ceiling, shining light down below. There were huge desks everywhere, separated by bookshelves. Researchers wearing white lab coats were walking about.
「The mana reaction from this thing is very faint…」
「It’s said to emit a similar light to that of a blue-eyed fish’s scales, but the principle seems to be different…」
「We’re running low on stocks…」
A peculiar kind of commotion reverberated inside the room, from whispers to soliloquy. The people were of different races—humans, demi-humans, elves, and demons. The only thing they had in common was that they wore the same white coats.
There were at least forty to fifty people about. Fully-armed men stood in attention by the wall in equal intervals. They didn’t appear to be temple knights.
What are they studying here?
While it was a little dark, the light still shone on the room. Even with Stealth on, Hikaru hesitated to get close. Blacks clothes suddenly slipping into a sea of white might actually draw their attention.
Then, a bell rang out. The researches all glanced at Hikaru’s direction.
How? I didn’t sense traps here. I’m not even moving right now. Do they have something that can see me—
「Food is here.」
The door opened behind him. Someone brought a cart carrying a pot filled with soup and heaps of bread.
Hikaru quickly leapt aside to the wall. The cart went straight through where he was standing and into the middle of the room. The researches were actually looking at the cart.
Don’t scare me like that, sheesh. So that was a bell to signal dinnertime.
Hikaru’s whole body almost went limp. He only had himself to blame, however. He focused too much of his attention in surveying the room that he neglected his Mana Detection.
Now’s my chance. Both researchers and the armed men—most likely guards—flocked towards the cart.
「Go on. Eat, all of you.」a man said as he pushed on the researchers’ backs.「We don’t want you collapsing from hunger.」
Hikaru used the opening to get closer to the tables to check the reagents and pieces of paper. He had no idea what some of the reagents were, but most of them seemed to be rare.
Isn’t this a branch from the World Tree that’s said to be found in a hidden elf village? What extraordinary amount of mana…
These branches, each able to fetch at least a million gilans, lay sprawled about. Hikaru looked at the papers. Most of them contained writings by the researchers or past thesis.
Wait, all of this is related to one thing.
He didn’t expect the words to come up here. Hikaru felt a bit pissed.
I should’ve brought Drake with me. If only I knew information about holy mana would be here.
The term “holy mana” frequently appeared among the notes.
Hikaru surveyed the room once more. After receiving dinner, the researchers sat down to eat at the center of the room where it was spacious.
Are they all oddballs? Hmm…
Hikaru wondered how they were selected.
This is only a guess, but I think these people only lived for research. They didn’t care about anything else as long as they can do what they love.
Katy’s face popped up in Hikaru’s mind. She was obsessed about studying holy mana as well. Upon closer look, he saw people who appeared to be from Kotobi. They carried gaudy precious metals in their person and had tattoos on their faces.
If these people who loved research were told they could study holy mana with an unlimited budget, they would come with pleasure. There were even maids who saw them as creepy, which was understandable. After all, they didn’t care much about grooming.
So the question is… Why are they studying holy mana?
Hikaru was strolling around the room when he happened upon a door hidden by a bookshelf. There were spots in the room where air could pass through besides the entrance, but he didn’t expect to find another door here.
The double-door seemed to be locked most of the time, as evidenced by the lock hanging by one side, but right now it was open. An armed man stood by it, shooting glances at the center of the room. He too wanted to have dinner.
「Hey, when can I eat?」
「Come, get your food.」
「Now we’re talking.」
Another guard seemed to have prepared a plate for him. The man hurried away from the door.
Now’s my chance.
Hikaru removed the lock and slipped past the door and into the room. With the lock gone, they shouldn’t be able to shut it from outside.
「What is this place?」
A dreary, small room with nothing but a carpet and podiums at the center. There was no one else around.
「This looks familiar… 」
There were two podiums, each with a magic lamp hanging from above them. He had seen this before. The items on the platforms were most likely extremely valuable.
「This looks like the treasure room found in the deepest part of Poelnxinia.」
Hikaru placed the lock on the floor and started walking towards the podiums as though being sucked in. One was a jet-black cloth and the other was a giant scissor.
『Two of the four holy mana items that Lugantz, one of the greatest Magic Item Specialist in history, created. The first one is called the Blade of Severance. It is said to be able to cut anything with the use of holy mana. Once usable, it would be an extremely valuable item. People believe it can even undo an evil god’s seal. The other item is called a Dark Knight Cloak. By using holy mana, it can hide anything. This one has lower priority. It is unknown what kind of materials were used to create these. The other two items are the Almighty Pipe and the Holy Grail of Dawn.』
That was what the paper beside the podium said.
The Dark Knight Cloak seemed to be nothing but an ordinary cloth. Hikaru’s Mana Detection didn’t pick up anything. But its blackness was bizarre. It absorbed even the light from the lamp, leaving only a strange darkness.
The Blade of Severance, on the other hand, looked just like a scissor. Except it was huge, almost a meter in length and could be fitted on one’s arm.
「I remember a video game I played. I was wondering what a “Huge Scissor” was, but I guess it looked like this. I must say, though. Except for its size, I see nothing but a scissor. I suppose this is what it looks like without holy mana.」
Hikaru took out his revolver from its holster.
「I think I read the name Lugantz back in the treasure room too and that this was one of the four or something. So I guess this is the Almighty Pipe.」
With its ability to absorb and release any type of magic, it was no wonder people called it “almighty”. Storing healing and support magic into the bullets was even possible. He hadn’t tested accursed magic, however.
Hikaru couldn’t tell exactly what the last item—the Chalice of Dawn—was for. Circumstances separated the four items and two of them ended up here.
「So the Pope is studying items that could be used for military purposes. They’re researching holy mana so they could use these things. The huge scissor can even undo an evil god’s seal. What are they trying to do?」
Hikaru glanced at his feet. He’d felt it for a while now.
「Does it have something to do with the immense mana down there?」