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Chapter 69: Blocked Way Out

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: ScribbleHub

Holy mana?

As the monster died, Carmen thought that she felt a tiny trace of holy mana from the monster. However, that spark disappeared before she could be sure.

“Did I just imagine it?” Carmen muttered.

“Imagine what, Mistress?”

Kagriss was next to her, holding her hand like they had been when they watched the monster’s demise. Did Kagriss not detect it? Because it wasn’t there and she imagined it, or because she was simply less sensitive to holy magic? Carmen hesitated before she voiced her suspicions to Kagriss. “I felt holy magic from that thing an instant before it disappeared, but I’m not sure if I imagined it,” she admitted. “I was just…surprised. This thing has me on edge.”

It was distressing how much this monster unsettled her despite knowing that it wasn’t that difficult to beat beyond its persistence. First it was its huge amount of mana, then its resistance to holy magic, and now that trace of holy mana she felt…what other secrets did it still have? What other surprises did it hide?

Kagriss squeezed her hand. “Mistress, perhaps you’re worrying too much. Perhaps what you felt was mana remaining from your spell from earlier?”

“I…I don’t know…” Carmen said. “That could be it, but at this point, anything could be possible. I’m just worried.”

Shaking her head, she looked around the room, trying to find something to satisfy her curiosity and maybe answer some questions. The cavern chamber was a mess. Claw marks covered almost every surface, concentrated most heavily in the corners where the rock wall met the stone floor, being the most sparse on the ceilings. It was almost as if the monster had been trying to dig its way out, but instead of focusing in one direction, it expanded the whole room instead. Assuming that the monster wasn’t intentionally trying to destroy the room and only scratched the ground once in a while, then that monster must have been trapped in here for quite some time.

But some time was too vague.

Carmen needed to ask Arvel how long the undead gem program’s been active. She also needed to know who knew about it, and more importantly, who introduced this gem to the Church. Even if it had been a random passerby or a priest after an undead hunt, knowing who was the first person to come into contact with the gem could reveal so much.

The only other thing that she found, or rather that Kagriss found, of interest was a magical formation deep under the ground.

“What is it?”

“I can’t be sure,” Kagriss said. “The stone is too thick.”

“So we have to dig…?” Carmen asked. Speaking of digging, Carmen looked around at the torned up ground, scored over and over by sharp claws. Little bits of rock from the digging was scattered all over the place.

Had the monster actually been digging? If it had, then why didn’t it focus on one spot?

“Do we really have to go through all this rock? How deep?” she asked.

“Perhaps…five meters?” Kagriss said, tapping her chin as she did some rough calculations.

Carmen grimaced. Five meters of pure rock wasn’t undoable, but she’d still prefer not to, not to mention they still had to go back before Anne and Fleur got worried or into trouble.

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Seeing her expression, Kagriss quickly corrected herself. “It’s just five meters to the formation itself. I only need about half that to find out the formation, Mistress.”

Two and a half meters was much more doable. Then, in that case, it was time to get to work. Carmen put away her sword and began to pop the joints in her fingers, only to realize that no sound came out. “Wah…”


At her sound of despair, Kagriss perked up immediately. Carmen looked down at the ground, avoiding her gaze. She couldn’t say that she made that sound because her knuckles didn’t make any sounds when she tried to crack it.

It was too embarrassing. Luckily, Kagriss seemed to have caught the hint and said nothing else. Instead, she began to construct a spell and a second later, Carmen felt a well of power rise up within her, filling her with new strength.

Thanking Kagriss, Carmen added her own reinforcements on top, making sure to especially strengthen her bones so that they didn’t break on her again. On top of that, she began to prepare to cast a few adapted Arts.

When all preparations were done, she jumped up, flipped in midair.

Reaching the ceiling at the apex of her jump, she kicked off the stone surface and shot down toward the ground. “Hiyaaa!” she shouted as she crashed into the ground at full speed. “Rock Pulse!”

As her fists made contact with the rock, the Art she constructed exploded in a pulse of force. While not as powerful as it would have been had she used holy magic, it was more cost effective for her.

Besides, it weakened the rock for her second blow—the one she was throwing right now! Even as her first fist dug through the surface and shattered the surrounding rock, her second came right after, widening the destruction with a second pulse of shattering power.

When she lost momentum, she pushed off her hands and flipped to stand back on the ground to Kagriss’s clapping. Forcibly stopping her own heart along with her blushing, she went to survey how she did.

The results were depressing. The hole was barely as deep as her wrist when she made a first. Most of the force scattered outwards, blowing a wide crater, and to make matters worse, a lot of the pulverized rock slid back down the crater to form a cushioning layer at the bottom.

“This is going to take a while,” she said, sighing. At least her fists didn’t hurt. The Rock Pulse Art wasn’t meant to break through solid stone. It was meant for shattering mortar that held the stone bricks of castle walls together. However, she didn’t have anything better.

“I think you’re doing really, Mistress,” Kagriss protested. “In your place, I wouldn’t be able to do anything…”

“Really?” Carmen found it hard to believe that. In exchange for being unable to sustain combat for long, high mages are notoriously destructive. Was Kagriss an exception?

The lich looked embarrassed as she nodded.

“Yes. I specialize more in battlefield control, reinforcement, and weakening. Because I spend so much of my time studying that, my battle magic is rather lackluster.” Kagriss fidgeted with her fingers.

“What about that spell you casted on the monster in the tunnels?”

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“Unfortunately, that’s about the best I can do. I’m sorry, Mistress!”

Kagriss bowed low.

“No! It’s fine! You’re fine as you are, Kagriss! You’re already plenty helpful…and it’s not just for your magic either…” Carmen trailed off. “You’re brave too, so you’re not useless.”

She pointed at the pulverized rock that resembled sand and tiny pebbles. “Can you remove that for me?

Kagriss nodded and quickly casted a simple spell that conjured up an almost tangible wind that carried the dust away. As the dust disappeared, Carmen began to pound away at the ground. With Kagriss carrying away the loose and pulverized rock, progress was quite quick. However, that was only due to Carmen’s raw strength and the frequency of her blow.

Without the extra force from pushing off the ceiling, each of her blows were weaker, shattering only one of two centimeters of rock each time, but she struck way more frequently.

However, her position was awkward. If she had been a human doing this, putting aside whether or not her hands will simply give up, she’d definitely have back pains after this,

Luckily—she couldn’t believe she was saying this—she was an undead.

The hole widened and became deeper slowly but surely until finally, Kagriss called for her to stop. “Mistress, I think I got it! My results are kind of fuzzy, but it’s an accumulation formation!”

The girl’s head peaked over the edge of the hole that Carmen was in.

“Do you feel the undead mana being any stronger down there?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” Carmen said. Her progress had been slow so even if there was, the increase would have been gradual. She was about to jump up to check, but she felt a presence over her head.

“I’m coming down, Mistress,” came Kagriss’s voice.

“What? No! Stop!”

But it was too late. Kagriss dropped down beside her with her eyes closed. However, the hole was small, even for Carmen. It barely held her whole body when she crouched and bent over to better shatter the ground, but Kagriss was much bigger than she was.

With Kagriss’s arrival, Carmen was knocked aside and her back hit the wall. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Carmen’s head slammed into the wall as well when Kagriss’s sizeable chest dropped down in front of her.

“Ah! Mistress, I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”

Despite not needing to breathe, Carmen couldn’t escape the fear of suffocation held over from her human days when something was suddenly shoved into her face, and she gasped for air when she finally broke free.

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Orienting herself once more, she found herself squashed in the tiny hole in the ground she made along with Kagriss with the girl looking down at her with a concerned furrow on her face while she nervously pursed her lips.

How could she get angry at a face like that?

“I’m okay. So is the mana stronger down here?” Carmen asked.

“It is. This explains why there was a sudden spike of mana from earlier, Mistress. That was the edge of the accumulator formation’s range,” Kagriss finally said after one more worried look at Carmen. “Um…that might also explain how the monster got so much mana, if it is indeed capable of perpetually absorbing mana, although there must be a limit somewhere. Finally, this formation might be why the monster seemed to be digging.”

“To get at this,” Carmen continued Kagriss’s words. “And the reason why it wasn’t concentrated on one location was because the differences were so slight that the monster merely dug on instincts…”

While this technically solved the mystery of the scratches, it didn’t provide much more information. All it told them was that someone was helping this monster grow stronger.

Its strength hadn’t been natural.

But they were still no closer to finding out what the purpose of this monster was, or who the people behind the curtains were.

“In any case, I think we’re done here. Let’s head back, since Fleur and Anne will get worried.”

“Yes, Mistress.”

Kagriss began to shift around, but as she moved, she pushed Carmen further into the wall.

“Hey!” Carmen said. “Stop p—ya! Where are you touching!”


“No! Not here! Not now! No arguments! Don’t push it!” Carmen shouted, spitting out a bunch of refusals before Kagriss could even make the arguments. Kagriss lowered her head and gathered magic.

As the magic completed, Kagriss managed to get her arms around Carmen, squeezing tightly. Before Carmen could protest, Kagriss carried them both out with a flight spell and set her down. The protest died in Carmen’s throat.

Kagriss could be pushy at times, but at the same time, she never tried to cross the boundaries Carmen set…except the first time and only time they did it so far. She’d been really persistent then.

But on the other hand, if she hadn’t been so persistent, then she never would have experienced something so amazing, so perhaps it balanced out.

Together, they headed toward the tunnels once more, ready to get back. However, after a few minutes of walking, a familiar but no less unsettling undead aura descending on them.

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No, it wasn’t just one. There were too…or perhaps three?

Carmen couldn’t tell since the auras were so alien and the tunnels messed with her judgement. Each aura overlapped as well, further mixing together. Her face turned pale.

While these monsters were no big deal on their own, it was different when they came in a pack. Just the amount of power needed to put them down after defeating them was huge.

And now there were multiple ones coming at once? How could she have forgotten about these monsters—it couldn’t have been just luck that the one tunnel they picked contained these undead monsters.

“Mistress…there were six other tunnels aside from this one…” Kagriss’s voice sounded as mature and flat as usual, but Carmen caught a quiver.

Understandable, as even Carmen wanted to despair. Six monsters? She hoped it wasn’t true.


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