|Author: Ryuusen Hirotsugu||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3492 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1660 words|
At the end of the three-dimensional maze stood the Libra Fortress’ final defense line, stairs leading to the last floor at the end of it. The stairs were around ten meters wide, its edges worn down on certain spots as if something very large and heavy was transported on them.
Mira and her group had just finished climbing those stairs. A long corridor stood open in front of them, lined with bonfires that illuminated the path deep inside, their flames dancing around as if inviting them.
「I don’t want to see stairs again in a long while.」
Heaving a sigh, Arlon spoke while looking back at the stairs stretching long behind them to the platform below. Sasori and Hebi nodded silently, sitting on the floor with their backs against each other after enduring the long climb together.
On the other hand, Mira had found an even easier way to pass the time, summoning a Holy Knight, having it hold its large shield flat and sitting on it. That position was so relaxing that she was even about to fall asleep, so all in all, there was not even a shred of physical exhaustion on her.
「Classes with utility spells like that must be awfully convenient.」
Arlon grumbled as he watched Mira jumping down from the shield with a proud smile. But when Hebi heard that, she quickly spoke against him.
「That belief is mistaken. Normally one would preserve mana while there are no monsters around.」
Hebi stared daggers at Arlon as she explained. Ever since her golem had vanished, its time limit reached, Hebi had kept walking without summoning a new one. Meanwhile Mira had summoned Dark Knights and Holy Knights as she pleased, going as far as using the Holy Knight’s shield as a seat, all without a single care about her mana. That was because she had a very large mana pool, while also having a high mana regeneration rate, both of which were many orders of magnitude larger than that of an average person.
「Ahh, now that you mention that. I saw her using those skills all the time so I figured there was no catch… but Mira, how are your mana reserves looking?」
Arlon frowned as he looked at her, and even though Mira had done almost no exercise, she was stretching in an exaggerated manner like a laborer at the end of the day, loosening up her body.
「She’s a special case.」
As Hebi continued, she turned a jealous stare towards Mira.
「Ohh, guess she isn’t a wiseman’s pupil for nothing.」
Arlon turned to look at Mira as well, impressed as he recalled how she was introduced to him. She was at the ledge, drinking her mixed berry ale like an old man sipping tea.
Still exhausted, Mira noticed a blue light further ahead inside the corridor. Wondering what it was, she straightened her back and squinted.
An instant later a guttural and deep rumbling came from ahead, blasting against them like a strong gust while the corridor trembled.
「What was that noise?」
Arlon stood up instantly, looking ahead warily. Sasori and Hebi also promptly took defensive positions as their eyes fixated on the corridor, where the noise came from.
「Monsters shouldn’t spawn here.」
Past the corridor was the last room inside the Libra Fortress, and as Hebi had said, it was a floor where no monsters spawned. Mira and Arlon also remembered it being that way, but the sound had clearly emanated from there.
As the four of them watched, the blue light appeared again, quickly flashing before another shockwave passed by them.
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「That was clearly some form of explosion. Think it was magic?」
「I can sense magic traces. It was magic.」
Arlon muttered after seeing the light, and Hebi nodded in agreement.
「In other words, there’s already someone there. Do you think Chimera gave us the slip?」
Sasori stomped on the ground continuously, glaring ahead ready to dart into action. Even though they had moved as fast as they could, there had always been the chance that Chimera Clauzen had been there earlier than them. Now it could become a very disadvantageous fight, and everything depended on how it went.
Still, there was one little baffling detail.
「Maybe, but what are they fighting against, I wonder?」
The light they had seen was clearly one from a fight. But past the corridor no monsters should spawn, so it was impossible to know what Chimera could be fighting against.
Sasori had reached her limit standing still and ran ahead of the group. Hebi followed shortly after that.
Arlon first checked all the items he usually used, took a deep breath and then ran as well. His eyes had a sharp gaze filled with fighting spirit, focused on a spot further away than Sasori and Hebi’s current position.
「We can still strike while they focus on their other enemies.」
Mira sent the Holy Knight away, running on the air so as to not make any noise as she caught up to Arlon.
There was a large open door at the right side of the end of the corridor. Sasori and Hebi were already there, peeking into the room with confused faces. Mira caught up to them and also peeked from behind them.
The room appeared to be flooded, as if it had rained in there for a short while. But at the same time there were blue flames burning there, writhing along the floor while making a crackling noise.
(What… is happening here?)
When Mira saw that scene, her eyes went round with her lips pursed into a flat line just like the two that came earlier, completely lost for words.
「What’s going on…」
When Arlon caught up to them, he also seemed confused at the scene.
That was the last floor atop the Libra Fortress, where the strategy room was located, and five people were there. Though Mira and her group all looked at only one person.
It was a man, standing amidst that sea of blue light. He had a tall and slender body, clad in long purplish red clothes with some strange characters engraved in it. His left arm was armed with a sharp and thin sword, while his right had a crossbow. His gaze was sharp, silver rings around his gray eyes as he silently stared down at the rest of the people lying on the ground.
「Was there an internal conflict?」
Their clothing was very varied, so it was impossible to tell they were a single unit from it. If anything, the four lying on the ground were pierced by crossbow arrows, and their open wounds still smoked as if they had been burning earlier.
Everyone began suspecting there had been a power struggle amidst Chimera’s ranks, but just then one of the men, one only wearing lightweight equipment, stood up and approached the standing man from behind, his feet unsteady as he attempted to attack.
His motion was rather swift as he took out a familiar looking black dagger, but his wounds gave them a sluggish feeling, almost like the scene was playing in slow motion.
That dagger was aimed straight at the standing man’s blindspot, and everyone watching thought it would meet its mark, but at the last second, the standing man’s figure vanished like a mirage, and an instant later the wounded man was launched into the air in an impossible pose together with a cracking sound.
The wounded man could not do anything more after that. The thin sword pierced through his chest, a fountain of blood sprouting from the wound and raining red drops onto the blue below, where it all burned without leaving a trace.
A nose stifling stench of iron and ashes filled the place as the man carelessly retrieved his thin sword. He did not seem to pay any attention to the blood spraying on him, his eyes fixated on some faraway spot. His expression appeared dark like a new moon, and cold like that of an ice sculpture.
When the corpse finally fell on the floor, the black dagger fell and rattled on the ground. Hearing that, the man turned to look down, and the instant his eyes fell on the black dagger a violent fire filled them, his feet starting to stomp on the dagger many times, losing the calm aura that had surrounded him earlier.
But that change did not last long, the emotions quickly vanished from his face as it froze over again. He then began checking on the other bodies, piercing them with his sword to ensure they were dead.
「That’s the Sky Denizens’ emblem.」
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When the man turned around, Hebi exclaimed that seeing the special design on his back.
「The Sky Denizens?! Why would someone from there-」
Arlon had heard that term before. And for a moment he frowned wondering why one of them would be there, but he quickly realized the answer. He had come there with a similar objective as Mira and the rest. But there was one crucial difference, whether Chimera would be left alive or not.
Unable to wait patiently, Arlon took a step out to check one of the bodies just in case, but the man in long clothes quickly intercepted him.
「You’re with them?」
His voice was mostly calm, but it carried a hint of anger as he trained the crossbow on his right hand towards Mira and the rest.
「No, not at all. There’s no need to threaten us, we’re not your enemy.
Replying as such, Arlon slowly walked in letting the man clearly see him, offering his weapons up without concealing them. Sasori and Hebi also stepped in then, trying to show they had no hostility towards him.
(Sky Denizens… I feel like I heard that before, but where was it?)
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