|Author: Ryuusen Hirotsugu||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2933 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1380 words|
The Mirage Maze was located past one of the gates in those rocky ruins. Many connected vertical corridors formed part of it, more than a hundred in total. They were really wide and tall, open to the environment at the top, essentially going all the way up to the summit of the mountain.
Mira was currently riding on Pegasus, flying straight up the first corridor. It almost felt like she had already gained more altitude than the appearance of the mountain suggested from outside.
(I can’t see anyone here either, not even monsters.)
She was constantly looking for familiar landmarks, but that led to her noticing there was no living soul apart from her there. An easy conclusion was that Chimera’s higher ups had gone through and killed all the monsters, but even that solution had a problem. There were no bodies left either.
(Did they clean up all the bodies? Or maybe… hmm, either way, bizarre scenes seem very fitting for them.)
Chimera Clauzen always struck her as a rowdy crowd, so it was hard to imagine they would be kind enough to clean up the place, but Mira had another hunch. Over Killing. In other words, using an excessively powerful attack to slaughter monsters which left not even ashes.
With that in mind, Mira decided to proceed with more caution. Not too long after she found the landmark she had been looking for. Amongst countless circular columns supporting the structure lining the corridor, there was one square pillar that seemed to be trying to blend in with the others.
「That’s it, Pegasus. Go through the passage behind that column.」
Mira leant against Pegasus’ neck and pointed at the square column. Pegasus nodded slightly and swiftly changed course as if he was galloping through the air. The corridor that followed for a few hundred meters still conserved most of the texture from the original rocks, but it was also adorned by beautiful superficial carvings. It was rather narrow, Pegasus barely fitting with his wings stretched out, but he displayed his excellent flying skills and proceeded through it without dropping speed.
Not much later they were out of the corridor, only to come out to an identical space as the one they were in earlier. Though it was not the same place. Mira had been there before, so she was not fazed by the similarities, calmly telling Pegasus to go down this time.
Similar to the Libra Fortress, the Mirage Maze had only one correct path that needed to be taken to reach the deepest room. But the maze was easier than the fortress, the columns gave a very easy landmark to follow.
Mira once again carefully looked at her surroundings as they went down, looking at all the columns. At the same time, she confirmed that just like before, there was no human or monster there.
The second vertical corridor had the same layout as the first one, though that applied to the rest of them as well. Everything seemed to loop around, only opening up once the required conditions had been met.
Mira spotted a black stain, so she ordered Pegasus to get closer so she could examine it.
「It looks like a burnt spot.」
Hundred meters down, there was something left on the corridor. From close up, it was clear that it was the charred effect left by something extremely hot.
Mira had a hunch as to what caused it. Sometimes when going down those corridors a giant spider-like monster would spawn. It was quite strong as far as mid-bosses went, and Mira could easily presume that stain was the remains of a fight against that monster.
「Hmm… looks like they’re packing quite a lot of firepower.」
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At least one of Chimera Clauzen’s members that passed through there had the power to charr the corridor’s wall like that.
(This really has to be an important event for them.)
Mira looked at a black circle up above in the sky, thinking of the strong foes standing there. They continued their descent, Mira looking at the columns around until she eventually found the next landmark.
「Pegasus, go through there next.」
Mira pointed at a triangular column this time, and Pegasus quickly followed her orders and flew through a dark passage. That passage continued for a few hundred meters as well, and once out they were in another vertical corridor with light coming in through the top.
Mira ordered Pegasus to go up again, and he did as ordered, not questioning her even though their surroundings looked exactly the same as before.
Halfway through their ascent, Mira spotted a place missing a column, and quickly ordered Pegasus to go through it.
The third passage was even longer than the previous ones. Some time passed while they flew through it, and the passage widened, the chiseled walls turning rougher. It was almost like they had accidentally happened upon a natural cave.
They continued moving forward, until eventually they saw a light ahead of them. It was sunlight leaking in through the exit.
(We’re finally here.)
Whoever was there, they had to be a powerful group. As the light grew stronger, Mira climbed down from Pegasus and activated Life Sensing to have an advantage when dealing the first strike.
(There’s only one?)
Life Sensing showed only one reaction. Mira had expected many high ranking members from Chimera to be there, so that caught her off-guard.
But that also meant that whoever that lone person was, they were powerful enough to clear the entire Mirage Maze on their own. Mira cleared her mind to focus and climbed back up on Pegasus to fly the remaining distance until they were out in the sunlight.
That was the last room in the Mirage Maze, also known as the Ancient Circular Gate. Rough rocks supported by columns surrounded the place, forming a conical opening, which gave the place a similar look to a crater. At the other end from where Mira stood, at the foot of broken down stone stairs, was a knight wearing flashy armor and a viking-like helmet that covered his eyes. To his side stood a gray warrior whose body was covered with a black mist.
Near them lay a coffin, as well as the remains of the guardians of the Spirit Palace.
「What happened… either way you’ll pay!」
Mira had considered the possibility that someone other than Chimera Clauzen was in there. But from the look of things, she quickly figured they were her enemies and charged on to attack.
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The knight seemed to notice something and turned around. His movement was swift, showing he had really good reflexes. But he was not fast enough. Mira charged into the knight and activated Refined Impact from zero distance onto his chest, while Pegasus’ lightning pierced through the warrior. The sound of the impact and thunder mixed in the air, reverberating many times.
「Hoh, that’s quite resilient.」
There was still a soft rumbling echo, but Mira’s voice rang clear. A hint of admiration and interest mixed in her tone. The knight was propelled a few meters back, but he had resisted Mira’s favorite attack without a scratch. His armor was more resistant than the devils from the past. That was the reason she had voiced her interest in that way as she stared intently at the man.
(Hm… is it because of that helmet…?)
Former players had the ability of checking the basic stats of an opponent. But a couple requirements had to be met, according to Solomon. It was impossible to investigate a fellow player, and their face had to be visible when checking.
「So the Fifty Bells’s on my a̲s̲s̲ already… At least they sent a cute one, and hey, you got here faster than I expected. So that’s a shocker.」
The knight spoke with a coarse tone, glanced at the warrior who lay charred, and smiled brashly. Under the shadow of his helmet, Mira noticed a pair of eyes glaring sharply at her.
「I assume that means you’re Chimera’s pup?」
With the blue sky overhead, Mira looked back at the man, smiling slightly.