Oh man. In this chapter, there are cryptic messages / riddles from Eduard. After reading it through once again, I finally understand and makes some additional notes in the bottom of the chapter.
ED: clover, eristol
“It says ‘Pass through the crescent moon gate and look for the twin half-moons’…?”
“This is … Eduard Onii-sama’s handwriting …”
Finding a trace of Eduard-Oniisama in the Ruins of Visitor made me deeply relieved.
It felt like stumbling upon Buddha in hell.
I could see Eduard-Oniisama in my mind waving at me with an archaic smile on his face, beckoning me to follow.
“It might be some hint he left for himself while he explored these ruins.”
“Then we might as well follow this.”
I packed up my box of wands and other tools in my bag and stood up.
In accordance with the message, we found a doorway with a crescent moon seal drawn over its arch. We passed through it and went onward.
After walking down a dim corridor, which was perhaps thirty meters long, we came across another inscription written in Moonlight-Gallnut Ink.
Two semicircular signs were arranged side by side.
This has to be the twin half-moon.
“This is it!” Klaus exclaimed.
“Wait, something is also written on it.”
“‘When the full moon rises to the center of the sky, the path will open’…”
“Full moon? But I don’t see a circle mark anywhere…?”
“Wait. The message says ‘rises to the center’. That means—”
Once again, the grating of gears and a heavy, metallic clank—the sound of rooms shifting around resonated.
The positions of nearby rooms must have changed.
“This hint, was it written assuming that the labyrinth will move?”
“If so, then that sound means one of the rooms around us has the ‘full moon’… the room with the next hint.”
“Ah. That’s right. The sky … and at the center … Normally, when the moon is at its zenith, it points to the south1.”
“Oh no. I didn’t bring a compass with me.”
“Leave it to me. Although it is impossible to use high tier magic due to the magic consumption, I can still use cantrip of this degree.”
Klaus held a wand perpendicular to the floor and began to chant.
He was still using the ancient language of Hafan, but unlike before, it sounded like a nursery rhyme.
When he released it from his hand, the enchanted wand spun somewhat unnaturally before falling flat in the direction we just came from.
“This direction is south.”
“That was somewhat plain.”
“Because it is. It is just a simple old charm, but very convenient.”
Certainly, it was of great use.
Without this strange thing, I was seriously considering whether I should extract a magnet from the core materials or not.
Because of Klaus’ knowledge, Eduard-oniisama’s wallet was saved.
My older brother’s hint implies it isn’t only the passage of time that causes the maze to change shape. The layout shifted the moment we reached the twin moons, meaning our weight was also a condition.
Had we split up to search for Ann at the beginning, I might never have been able to rejoin Klaus.
Holding hands so that we wouldn’t get separated, we headed south through the dimly lit ruins.
Every now and then we put away our lamps to check for markings, proceeding with utmost caution.
After walking for a while, I spotted a faint, circular light in the darkness.
“A circular mark…that is the full moon!”
“As far as I can see, there is no message though?”
“Perhaps, this is the destination?”
“What was your brother trying to do by leading people to this place?”
A brand new wooden door was set up at the passage marked with the full moon.
Fortunately, the door was not locked.
While watching for signs of movement beyond the door, we slowly opened it.
“Boxes…is it?” Klaus muttered.
Inside the room with the full moon mark were five large storage boxes.
They were sturdy, reinforced with a metal frame, and fitted with built-in locks.
Since they were placed in ruins like these, they almost look like treasure chests.
The boxes were carved with the crest of Aurelia.
On the attached labels, there were notes in my brother’s handwriting.
The boxes must contain supplies he had set aside for exploring the labyrinth.
There were two blankets and traces of a campfire beside the chests.
“It seems like a simple base camp he set up.”
“Thoroughly prepared, huh? It certainly sounds like onii-sama’s doing.”
“There may be items that can be used.”
I tried to open the boxes, but all of them were tightly locked.
It was really carefully prepared, it certainly seems to be Eduard-oniisama’s work.
“Klaus-sama, unfortunately, I didn’t bring a wand of Skeleton Key with me2…”
“Don’t worry. Somehow, I have recovered enough energy to use Unlocking magic.”
“Well then, please.”
“Leave it to me.”
Claus placed his staff over a box and started chanting a spell.
Unlike our wands which are magic devices, the staves of Eastern mages are magic amplification devices.
Although normally using a staff for this kind of magic is a bit excessive for a mage of Klaus’ caliber, he has to cast even the most elementary of spells through his staff in order to prevail over the anti-magic trap in this ruins.
Once Claus had finished his chant, a faint, red magic circle enveloped the box.
The circle slowly rotated, gradually shrinking until it was concentrated on the lock.
Click, and with that sound, the lock opened.
“Alright, it seems to have worked.”
“Let’s open it then.”
Klaus opened the heavy lid of the clothing box.
I held out my lamp to see the number of items within.
“A few magic scrolls, some preserved food … oh! This is a lifesaver.”
“Does it have anything that looks useful?”
“Look, it’s a magic recovery potion!”
The box contained a number of glass vials tinged with blue, lined up in an orderly fashion.
As expected of Eduard-oniisama!
“If we have these, I won’t have to depend on your wand. I will be able to do more in our search.”
Huh? Alchemists shouldn’t have to worry about running out of magical energy.
Why did Eduard-oniisama keep so many potions for magical recovery?
Is it for the companion who accompanied him…?
Brother’s friend, is he not an alchemist?
Oops, now is the time to confirm the rest of the supplies.
After downing a vial of potion, Klaus began unlocking the rest of the boxes one after another.
He seems to be in a perfect condition having recovered his magical energy, like a fish back in the water.
Aah! Four boxes have been opened while I was day dreaming!
“I will open this one.”
I am going to open the last box.
The weak protective magic embroidered with magic thread on the sleeve of my brother’s clothes was blown away.
The moment I swung open the lid, a sinister, purple magic circle spread around me.
Hii! This is obviously some kind of curse.
I tried to avoid it quickly, but the circle shattered faster than I could react, its fragments coiling around me like a chain.
“…!! This is bad! A trap!”
(Why does it—!?)
If you leave behind a baggage full of items in a dungeon, you would take measures against thieves!
This, the death flag is quite serious and dangerous!?
This is painful…!
Klaus immediately activated Glam Sight and stared fixedly at me.
He was confirming the details of the curse I was given.
His eyes shook, and blood drained from his face as he stared at me.
Not long after his eyes started trembling and the blood drained from his face. When he finally finished analyzing the curse, he miserably looked at the floor as if mourning.
Uwa! This is a reaction like a doctor who would announce an incurable disease! This can only mean—
“…Sorry, Erica. This is…the curse of death.”
Hii, as expected!
Many of Aurelia’s people have a strong pride in their craftsmanship.
So, most alchemists are strict towards thieves…
“…This is Eduard-oniisama’s work, right?”
“Yes, the creator is indeed none other than Eduard Aurelia. It was made about a month ago.”
Klaus’ facial expression was dark, he didn’t look into my eyes and his brows were furrowed.
Anyway, am I going to die here, right now!?
“Curse of Merciful Death … this magic brings about a swift, painless death after a certain amount of time.”
“After a certain amount of time…? How long exactly?”
“Estimated to be eight at latest and twelve hours at most.”
“…Heh, that is longer than I expected.”
“It is to give some moral suffering to the victim, huh? Or maybe there is an intention of dispelling it if the victim begs for forgiveness.”
You are a devil, Eduard-oniisama!
As expected of someone with the infamous dark smile among the seven capture targets, the retribution is very savage …!!
I only ever see his kind and soft side, so this is kind of refreshing.
It is too regrettable that I never got to play his scenario yet—
“…Erica, are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m okay.”
For a moment, it seems that I had been escaping reality, but I returned to see Klaus’ worried face.
“Erica, let’s return to the palace. There is still time. Your father should have the necessary catalysts and scrolls to dispel this curse. I am sure my father can—”
“No, let’s give priority to your sister for now.”
I decided to bear with it.
Even without monsters or ghosts, these Ruins of Visitor are dangerous enough.
There is no guarantee that brother and other explorers didn’t set any other deadly traps.
I can’t leave the young Ann in such a place.
Besides, generally speaking, I am accustomed to severe experiences.
I don’t want to get used to it but I have no say in that unfortunately.
I am thankful to my brother for the curse’s eight hour time-delay, rather than being instant. It is thanks to his mercy that I can spare some time.
I took out the silver pocket watch out of my coat pocket.
The current time is a little past nine.
“It’s alright. If we manage to escape by five in the morning, we can still dispel it.”
“What are you talking about! It is still a curse of death! If something happens to you,, I—”
“Ann is alone you know. I know you are not saying it but you are very worried aren’t you?”
“Let’s stroll around the garden of the Spring Palace tomorrow, this time it will be the three of us. Promise me, Klaus-sama.”
It is rude to interrupt other people’s speech, but I had to interrupt him.
It would be rather difficult for me if he suddenly starts panicking from worrying about me.
I smiled at Klaus.
A smile is important.
Although Erica Aurelia was a villainous lady, would her smile be enough to relieve anxiety?
“With a grace period this lenient, unless I have a terribly bad luck, I won’t die.”
“I don’t know, Erica…you look like you have a very bad luck.”
I know, right~?
While unknowingly playing Russian Roulette with the five treasure chests just a moment ago, I magnificently hit the jackpot in my only try! I truly am lucky.
1 This is a navigation using the moon location. All celestial objects – sun, stars, planets and moon – arc across the southern sky when viewed from northern latitudes. They all reach their highest point in the sky when they cross your meridian or line of longitude and this will occur when they are exactly due south of you. That’s why, Klaus deduced that the next hint is in the southern direction. (source)
2 It is another DnD reference. In DnD, the Skeleton Key is a magic item that can open any locks. So, it’s a wand to open locks. (source)
…At first I don’t understand why the next hint is in the south direction, but after reading it once again I finally understand and added that first note.