Underground City of the Ancient Gods 5
Relatively powerful undead monsters resided beyond the wall. Poison Ghasts – superior zombie-type monsters – flocked together, releasing poison from their purplish bodies which turned darker and darker as they evolved. Hikaru and Lavia took a detour to avoid them altogether.
Like the book said, Living Heads were basically floating heads. It seemed like they could see light as they closed in on the magic lamp they had on. But they couldn’t see Hikaru and Lavia. After spinning their heads around for a bit, they flew away.
There were Dark Slimes as well – black puddles on the road. The roads were dry, so Hikaru knew they were not ordinary puddles right off the bat. He tried sticking a twig into the puddle, and slowly it melted. There was no need to kill it so he simply ignored it.
「Things will be different from here on.」
Ignoring monsters along the way, they made good progress. Beyond the first wall was the first residential district and now they were about to pass through the second wall, to the Noble District. Unlike the Ponsonia royal capital, there was no second residential district here. The roads were paved with stone. Doors were shut tight, with no signs of buildings being ransacked.
Up until now, there were indications that adventurers had looted the place. Campsite remains and broken doors. Yet there were no corpses around. Did they turn into undead monsters?
But there were no such signs in the Nobles District.
A Dead Noble stood still, wearing clothes with a design Hikaru had never seen before. It was nonetheless extravagant, adorned with gold threads.
「… – – – …」
The monster muttered something and mana shot out from its hand. Gently, the mass of mana floated away to the other side of the building. Hikaru kept his eyes fixed on it and from there a Dead Citizen appeared.
「…What’s that?」Lavia asked.
「It looks like it’s reusing dead monsters.」
Hikaru inched closer to the Dead Noble and stabbed it from behind. He could kill them in one shot, it seemed.
I ranked up.
His soul rank went up fast, perhaps because Dead Nobles were superior versions of Dead Citizens.
They strolled through the streets of the Nobles District. Each house – rather, mansion, was huge. Through the open windows, Hikaru could see undead monsters walking down the hallways.
He checked a few of the buildings. Various works of art – vases and paintings – were left untouched. The treasures, however, were inside vaults sealed with magic. Hikaru couldn’t open the safes, but he could see where they were with Mana Detection.
It was similar to Lavia’s magic prison. The only difference being the mana in the vaults was still flowing, at least for the last six hundred years.
They must have some sort of a system that consistently provides magic.
The poem mentioned something about compiling powerful sorcery spells. It would be an incredibly powerful spell if it lasted six hundred years. Would it last forever? There was no such thing in Hikaru or Roland’s memories, at least.
Is Gafrasti looking for this spell?
Coins and jewels not inside vaults were scattered about inside some of the nobles’ houses. They picked those up. The design on the coins were peculiar. Hikaru15 wasn’t sure if he could use them at all.
Three hours had passed since they set out in the morning.
「I can see it, Hikaru. It’s the royal castle—」
The castle loomed in the darkness. Surrounded by a ditch, the only way in was a bridge. Hikaru noticed the undead and quickly pulled Lavia behind a building. His Instinct was telling him to run.
Hikaru peered from the shadows. More than a hundred Zombies, with swelling muscles and over two meters tall, stood in a row.
Hikaru only saw them in files. Draugrs were undead monsters with extremely high physical abilities and acute senses. One could destroy a whole house on its own. Their commander was a Dead Knight wearing silver plate armor, eyes fixed on the road path to the castle.
「I’m not sure…」
It wasn’t like they were lining up closely. But if they chose to push through, they would come within a one-meter radius of the monsters.
I could throw a rock or something to draw their attention… It would be great to decrease their numbers so I can scout… Then again, that would only make them more cautious.
「How about I eradicate them with magic?」Lavia proposed.
「Magic, huh… Not a bad idea, but there’s two problems with that option. First the monsters inside the castle will notice the commotion. Second the bridge might fall.」
「Yes, I might destroy the bridge.」Lavia said.
「I guess we’ll just have to go through the front.」
Hikaru pulled up his Soul Board and put one point each on Life, Mana, and Group Obfuscation. He now had zero points left. If this wasn’t enough to pass by unnoticed, he’d just have to kill more Dead Nobles to increase his level and max out Obfuscation. Although they wouldn’t be able to clear the place within the day.
「Lavia, when I squeeze your hand twice, I want you to turn off the lamp. Then when I do it again, please turn it back on.」
「You want to turn off the light?」
「We’re up against Draugrs.」
「Oh, right. They have keen senses.」
Hikaru noticed they could detect light back when the Living Heads floated around them for a bit. They had to turn off the lamp so they could pass through the Draugrs and the Dead Knight.
「Don’t let go of my hand, Lavia. Just stay behind me.」
They both started down the wide path that led to the castle.
Are we really going through the front? Lavia wanted to ask, but thought better of it. Hikaru said they’d go, so she just had to believe in him. She adjusted the brightness of the lamp to light up only their feet. The moment Hikaru squeezed her hand twice, she turned it off.
Darkness enveloped her. The faint silhouette of the castle seemed to melt into the dark.
Lavia saw green lights in the Draugrs’ eyes. Tiny as a needle’s eye, they were clear in the darkness. Hikaru’s footsteps were slow, but sure. Lavia didn’t know that it was because of his Mana Detection.
Then, she almost let out a shriek as she stepped on a stone, twisting her ankle. Taking a breath, she walked forward once more.
Metal clanged. Hikaru stopped. They should be less than ten meters away from the Dead Knight. What now? Are we turning back? Lavia wanted to ask, but she couldn’t open her mouth. Not right now. The wind had stopped blowing, and she was sweating.
Once again, the sound of metal rang. Lavia felt Hikaru’s grip on her hand loosen slightly. He walked forward, and she followed. How many meters are we from the Dead Knight? Five? Three?
Lavia flinched. The sound came from just beside her ear. She almost admired herself for not letting out a sound. Hikaru quickened his pace and she matched it.
Horrible stench assaulted her senses. It must be the Draugrs, she thought. Hikaru stopped, turned left for a bit, then straight, then right. Lavia realized he was avoiding the Draugrs. Though she didn’t know how he was able to know their exact locations.
Then Hikaru stood still and turned around to face Lavia. All of a sudden, Hikaru embraced her. In his arms, they moved slowly, half a step at a time. The stench was becoming unbearable. Feeling nauseous, tears welled up in Lavia’s eyes.
Are the Draugrs really that close to each other? Maybe I should’ve just blasted them all to oblivion with my spells, she thought.
Hikaru’s grip loosened. Pulling on Lavia’s hand, he walked faster than ever before. She knew they had made it past the monsters. The stench was gone as well. Hikaru squeezed her hand twice.
I know. We made it, right? Lavia squeezed back. Once again, he squeezed her hand twice.
I’m fine. Just exhausted, she answered. He did it once more.
It was hard for you as well, huh? Are you worried about me? Grinning, Lavia squeezed twice. So you have that side of you… Ehehe…
「Uh, can you please turn on the lamp?」he whispered in her ear.
The royal castle’s design was different from the current one. It would probably take an hour to go around the place.
「Let’s check the inside.」Hikaru said.
「It’s nothing. Let’s go.」
Hikaru thought she refused to turn on the light earlier. When he finally asked her directly, she finally did. Lavia held his hand with one hand, while holding the lamp with the other. She turned her face away from him. For some reason, she was beet red.
Dead Nobles roamed about inside the castle, but there was no sight of a Dead Knight. Hikaru took the opportunity to kill them all and gained three levels. With this, his soul rank was now 27, while Lavia’s was 24.
「Where do we go from here? The throne room?」Lavia asked.
They were having bread, dried meat, and dried fruits for lunch. Inside the palace grounds, Dead Nobles that Hikaru killed with one strike were sprawled about.
「Clearing a dungeon means getting the treasure.」Hikaru said.
Lavia was suddenly eager.
「In that case, we have to find the storage first. I’m also curious as to how this city collapsed, so it would be great if we could find clues to that.」
「Clues? Are you planning to interview the undead or something?」
「That would be our last resort. They’d notice us if I did that. I think the royal capital sank underground and then everyone turned into undead monsters. I wonder if anyone left some records of the events.」
「It’s possible. A king has a secretary. They probably have a record of what happened.」
「Where can I find it?」
「They’re mostly top secret matters, so the records would either be in the king’s office, or in the archives exclusively for the royal family.」
「So we have to check out the throne room.」
Tossing the last piece of dried fruit in his mouth, Hikaru stood up.
「All right. Let’s look for the treasure first. This place isn’t like the nobles’ mansions. I want to find something valuable.」