|Author: Ryuusen Hirotsugu||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2625 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1339 words|
Stepping down from the taxi carriage, the three went up a path through the rocky mountains, their destination appearing in their view soon after, carved into a cliff. There were a few unknown plants sprinkled here and there around it, and to its left there was a large lake, while a pitch black abyss lay to its right.
The Libra Fortress was located just between that lake and abyss.
The fortress was a castle of unrefined construction and ashen color, surrounded by a wall that went from the lake to the abyss. Throughout the years its color had faded, but it still retained its imposing appearance, the wind coming from above blowing strongly all throughout the place as if it was pushing the intruders away.
A long time ago that was the castle of a king, known as the Undefeated. It was also the place where the last battle was carried out during the great war between men and monsters. The walls posed an impenetrable defense, tall that even giant monsters had to look up to see its end. But the war had affected it greatly as the main gate said to be impregnable had been greatly warped out of shape.
「It’s so big.」
「Yeah, it’s truly a very large building.」
Sasori exclaimed that as she looked up at the walls standing there in front of them. Mira just took a quick glance at the fortress, then focused on Sasori’s tail that kept swaying as if dancing, replying to her in a gentle voice like she was talking to her granddaughter’s innocent mutterings.
Sasori at first had a great desire to sightsee the location, but when they entered a small fort near the lake she quickly calmed down. There they continued further inside until they reached stairs leading down to the dark bowels of the fort that were sealed off by a barrier. Currently it was impossible to open the original entrance to the fortress, so this secret passage, originally built as an emergency exit, was the only way to get inside.
(Let’s see what they can do.)
As an A rank adventurer, Arlon had visited the Libra fortress once in the past. At the time he had joined a six-man party to explore the fortress, and he was at the frontline showing off his skills. But now Uzume had asked him to be Mira’s support instead. There were also two Hidden members with them now, and from the rumors he heard in the Fifty Bells’ headquarters he could largely guess their strength, but when it came to Mira, a wiseman’s pupil which was something no one had seen before, there was no way for him to gauge her strength.
He was very curious to witness someone who could be called a genius, who was on a different level compared to him who had dedicated a lot of time to training himself and becoming stronger. Doing that, he would be able to see techniques and strategies regular people would be unable to come up with, which he could implement as well later on. He always thought of himself as a hard working plain man with no talents, who always wanted to get to a higher level, without realizing that simply being able to watch someone more skilled fight while picking up and understanding their way of fighting was a talent itself.
They passed through the barrier set by the Union, following a narrow path inside. The path was only wide enough for two people to barely be able to stand side by side, and was supported by stone pillars and blocks.
The place was dark, while the air felt humid like the air during the rainy season. As they walked, the light fastened to Arlon’s hips would shine on groups of black bugs that would scuttle away from the light. Every time that happened, Sasori would groan in discomfort, while Mira scowled sympathizing with her.
When the echoes from her voice would vanish, their footsteps would fill the ambience. That went on for a while until they reached a small room. As the light of the lantern flooded the room, they saw rotting stands for candles affixed to the rock wall, and nothing much else.
That was the secret room to hide the hidden passage.
「Now then, which one was it again…」
There was still a secret door hidden amongst those simple features of the room. Arlon muttered to himself as he unfolded a piece of paper and compared it with the wall, looking for the hidden device to open the door.
「It’s gotten really easy over the years.」
Because of its constant use, there was a spot on the wall that was clearly more worn out than the rest, due to the frequent times it had been touched, which Arlon pressed while sighing. Afterwards there was a soft rumble as a part of the wall folded like a door, a soft breeze blowing into the room.
(It’s been a while since I came here as well.)
As they stepped past the door, they saw multiple paths that intertwined with each other going further away. That was the first floor of the Libra Fortress, a complicated maze that held the small secret room in it’s very center.
「It’s fine if I stand back and rely on you all to fight, correct?」
Arlon asked just to confirm, and a loud 「Of course!」 came from Sasori, Hebi also silently braced herself, nodded, and created a golem.
Meanwhile Mira knew this was her time to shine as a summoner, so she took her coat off and summoned a Dark Knight, which she quickly evolved into a Dark Lord. The evolved, macabre creature stood at Mira’s side, like a knight that sold his soul to a demon to protect the girl. It’s blade covered armor was shiny, as if a coat of blood was covering it.
「Ohh, is this an evolved summoning?」
Sasori was still getting ready to fight when she saw the Dark Lord and said that. The Hidden were accustomed to carrying out solo missions, so she had to learn a great amount of information about various fighting styles and spell classes. She had only heard stories about evolved summonings, so she was very curious to see one in person as she walked right up to the Dark Lord.
The Dark Lord was literally covered in dangerous weapons, like a hedgehog without any charm. Mira told Sasori to be careful, as she observed it in a daze from so close it would be hard to slip a piece of paper between her face and one of the blades.
Meanwhile Arlon frowned as he glared into a piece of paper.
「You look rather preoccupied.」
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Mira said that as she walked closer to him, standing on tiptoes to peek at the piece of paper he held.
「I remember seeing this many times in the past, but I must be getting old. I can hardly tell the different lines apart now.」
Arlon looked at Mira’s head for a while before exhaling another sigh, scowling at himself while pressing his fingers against the bridge of his nose. The piece of paper had a map of the maze that comprised the first floor of the Libra Fortress, the correct path to take was outlined in red. Apart from that, it also had notations on important landmarks. The entire thing was drawn by hand, mapped out by former players who walked through the maze in the past.
Back when Mira was Danbulf, those maps were only traded between players, but dungeon maps were widely available for adventurers in general in any store nowadays.
The map looked much more detailed than back then, but the Libra Fortress had always been a challenging place to map out.
(I feel like everything is much narrower now as well… I guess it’s the age…)
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