Underground City of the Ancient Gods 6
They entered the castle. Undead monsters wearing maid and servant outfits stood still. Will they attack if they sensed a living human being? Hikaru thought, but he didn’t want to find out.
The stone-build castle was easy to walk in as they went down the hallways. There were figures of people who worked in the castle here and there.
It’s really strange. There’s too few guards and knights around.
Although not entirely zero, there were barely any around. Other than the Dead Knight and Draugrs out front, not a lot of them could be seen. They couldn’t possibly defend the castle like this.
Hikaru closed in on a lone Dead Knight roaming about. His dagger couldn’t pierce through its plate armor, so he looked for an opening. The undead, however, was wearing full-body armor, and while its face was exposed, Hikaru couldn’t see its neck.
Will a stab on its face do it? …Nah, I don’t think so.
His one point on Instinct was telling him it wouldn’t work. In the end, he gave up on the idea as he really didn’t need to kill it anyway.
When they got close to the location of the treasure, Hikaru knew where it was right away. One area was teeming with mana like the ones in the nobles’ houses. There would’ve been no point in coming here if it couldn’t be opened, but Hikaru had a plan.
「So this is the keyhole…」
A huge, double-door loomed in front of him. Made of white stone, a dragon-like monster was carved into its surface. The keyhole was just at his eye level.
「The room’s guard should have the key…」Hikaru said.
「I think so…」
「Is that it over there?」
「I think it is.」
A Dead Noble stood beside the door, wearing what might’ve been a dazzling attire six hundred years ago. A bunch of keys dangled on its right hand. Hikaru inched closer to the undead, killed it with one strike, and took the keys. He then thrusted what looked like the right key into the keyhole.
「What was that undead doing here? It’s all too convenient.」Lavia said.
「You have a point. Anyway, the key fits, but I can’t open the door.」
Hikaru pulled out the key and tried the other ones, but they didn’t fit. He was sure the first one he used was the right one. The material used for the key matched the door’s as well.
「There’s a dent in the middle.」
There was indeed a dent in the key’s handle. It looked like something had to be embedded in it.
「Bummer. I thought I’d find a great weapon in the treasure room and then use it to fight the boss. I guess it’s never that easy. In fact, maybe the boss has the thing that makes this key work.」
「Boss? You mean like a higher-up?」
Hikaru used a gaming term without thinking, making Lavia confused.
「Ah, let’s see… This place’s boss would be the king himself.」Hikaru said.
They returned to the front of the castle. First they made their way to the audience chamber where the king would most likely be. After climbing a lengthy set of stairs, they arrived at the door to the spacious audience room.
The carpet was covered in dust, like a blanket of snow, from years of neglect. It was impossible to discern its original color. The hallways didn’t have as much dust as the undead regularly roamed about.
Hikaru’s Mana Detection saw him.
「Should I turn off the light?」Lavia asked.
「It’s okay. There are only Dead Nobles around.」
「…If you say so.」
Lavia was not completely convinced, but she left the lamp on and turned it towards the room.
Dead Nobles stood in a row on both sides. Up a few stairs was the throne where a lone undead was perched. Resting its chin on one hand, its empty eye sockets was turned in their direction. Diamonds were sewn into its loose robe, which never lost their gleam after six hundred years. Even covered in dust, they still shone bright.
Hikaru could hear voices like the sound of a violin on the verge of breaking. They came from the Dead Nobles lined up. The voices were faint, but in this silence, he could hear them quite clearly. He drew closer to one of them and listened carefully. Like the Dead Citizens, all they could do was groan.
「Wh-What’s going on?」Lavia, who was dumbfounded at first, finally came to her senses.
「I think they’re having a discussion with the king.」
「I can see that, but…」
What they were discussing, he didn’t know. Was it something that’s been going on for six hundred years? Or did the topic change every time? The king just glared at them, seemingly bored.
「The king’s ring…」Hikaru muttered.
「It looks light it fits the hole in the key.」
On his right hand was a ring. The king wasn’t mummified; he still had flesh, and the ring was stuck on his finger.
「Hikaru. Are you going to… take down the king?」Lavia tried to put it mildly.
「I won’t. Not now, at least.」
「What do you mean?」
「I feel like he’ll notice us if we got close. I can probably do it alone, though.」
That was what his Instinct was saying. It was an extremely useful Skill to have for sure. He only had one point on it at the moment, so that was all he could sense. If he put more points into it, he might be able to know exactly how close he can get. Nevertheless, it was plenty enough right now.
Hikaru didn’t know if the king had Instinct like him, but he knew that if they got close with the lamp on, they’ll get busted. That was a huge advantage for him.
「…Am I just a burden?」Lavia asked.
「No, sorry. That’s not what I meant. Even if I took the king down, the Dead Nobles will be in an uproar. We need your spells then. The two of us will clear this dungeon.」
「I see. If you say so.」
「Anyway, we might have to look around some more.」
They headed deeper into the chamber to look for the archives, passing by an undead that looked to be the secretary. With his Mana Detection, Hikaru knew there weren’t any undead from here on out. All of a sudden, he felt a chilly wind blew by.
The air in the dungeon didn’t circulate that much, but he felt it stir since they got here.
「Lavia, it says “Archives” right here.」
Hikaru stopped in front of a door. Lavia held out the lamp.
「An old language? I can only read a bit. You can read it?」Lavia asked.
It was all thanks to Roland’s memories. The door was simple, with a physical lock. Hikaru thrusted his dagger in and kicked it to break the lock. It didn’t look like they wanted to actually close the place up, so Hikaru was able to force his way through.
「It smells like ink.」
The smell of gall ink permeated the room, the kind that was used during the age of parchments. Made from iron salts and tannic acids from vegetable sources, it was used in Europe as well. In this world, plants used for gall ink had a peculiar, acidic smell.
The magic lamp illuminated the wonderfully-bound books on the shelves. A few parchments were spread out on the table at the center of the room. It seemed like a place where they made books as well.
「The ancient Poelnxinia dynasty’s archives…this place has so much archeological value.」
It might make Gafrasti cry from sheer happiness, but Hikaru didn’t see that much value in it.
「Let’s check them out. It’s not like you can’t entirely read them, right?」Hikaru asked.
「Yes. I can’t promise anything, though.」
「All right. Let’s split up. There’s no monsters around so you can let go of my hand for now.」
The moment Lavia let go of his hand, something terrible happened.
The room suddenly grew bright. It wasn’t just the room. The light spread out down the hallway, and illuminated the whole castle.
「What? Wh-What’s going on?」
「Calm down, Lavia.」
Hikaru pulled her closer and activated Group Obfuscation once more. But the light didn’t go out. There was no doubt that the light automatically went on after detecting a human – a living creature – inside the building. In Japan, sensors that lit up when a human was detected were common, but he hadn’t seen one in this world. It was clearly a lost technology from the ancient Poelnxinian dynasty.
Hikaru didn’t have the time to think clearly. The ground trembled.
「Crap. What now?」
He noticed a wooden window with no glass and opened it.
The window was facing the opposite direction from where they came from. One would’ve thought that there would be a Nobles district, then a first residential district, and then the town. But there was nothing there – only a vast, barren land, with no walls in sight.
With the castle shining bright, he could clearly see the plain spread out for miles. The room they were in was three to four storeys high, overlooking the castle walls.
He could see unmoving figures in the distance. They didn’t look like undead monsters, however.
Hikaru saw it. In the distance, about a kilometer away, was a giant emitting purple light.