With more than 3500 words, and 15 pages of word document, this monster of a chapter is finally finished. The actions begin on the next chapter. There are so many information that my brain practically short-circuited after translating this lol. I hope this chapter is understandable for you guys! Enjoy, while I sleep like the dead~
ED: clover, eristol
We descended the stairs following the traces of the past Ann in Urd Sight.
This is the eighth level.
How much further will we have to descend?
We went down to the next layer as usual, starting from the unchanging staircase.
However, the scene ahead was completely different from what we had seen in Ruins of Visitor so far.
It was full of the stench of death.
When we arrived, corpses of unfamiliar creatures were scattered about everywhere.
Husks of unfamiliar life-forms littered the ground—bloodstained mammals, mangled reptiles, and crushed giant insects among them.
Multipede monsters had been burnt to a crisp, their blood and flesh scattered about in many small pieces—
I felt dizzy.
It was fortunate that the corpses had been partially preserved, so the rotting smell hadn’t gotten too bad.
I am also lucky that none of the corpses belonged to animals I am familiar with; they were all bizarre, grotesque monsters.
Otherwise, I might not have been able to suppress the nausea.
Due to the sheer unnaturalness of the reality, I imagined that the carnage before me was merely a scene from a game or a realistic movie.
You are useful in unexpected places, gaming brain.
My thoughts were not enough to make me smile but at least it was enough to keep my mind from panicking.
“Urgh…are you alright, Erica?”
“I’m not alright, but I will be fine. What about you?”
“I’m familiar with this kind of scene. See, going places with my father, getting rid of those with those things…”
“Your speech is becoming messy, Klaus-sama.”
It is nice to have a conversation partner.
Shocking movies, too, are surprisingly less damaging when you watch them with other people.
But that means that the person who saw this alone is taking it harder than us—
“Let’s hurry. Ann should be here.”
“Yes. She is probably huddled in a corner somewhere.”
A majority of pillars in the room had collapsed, and there were gaping holes all over the place.
Mechanism of huge gears to move the labyrinth were exposed and there were also damaged parts.
It was an evidence that terrifyingly destructive power was unleashed here.
“No wonder your brother stored up such an outrageous amount of supplies.”
“These monsters were his opponents, huh?”
“Although I was certain we were fully equipped when we left the camp, but now I’m not so sure. I shudder to think what would have happened if these corpses were all alive and moving.”
Hearing Klaus say that, shivers also ran down my spine.
What if Eduard-oniisama’s group had not wiped out these monsters?
I don’t know what would’ve happened to the three of us by now.
The reason why the Ruins of Visitor is said to be the most dangerous area in the Aurelia territory was finally felt with our skin.
How long have we been walking around for?
Thanks to the creepy mountains of carcasses, I feel like it has been longer than the actual search time.
It feels like Eduard-oniisama has guided us here.
After walking a while longer, we came to a stop in front of a room.
A note had been written by the entrance in Moonlight Gallnut Ink.
“‘Do not step on the stars. Otherwise‘…huh? It disappeared?”
“A thick cloud must be passing over the moon. I believe the first line said ‘Do not step on the stars’, didn’t it?”
“It seems that way, but…”
“I don’t know what will happen if we step on it, but I haven’t seen the mark of a star on the floor yet in this level, so I think we’re safe for now. No need to worry, Erica.”
Up until now, my brother’s notes has always been about directions. This is the first time he has written a warning, so I feel a bit anxious.
When going in and out of any room, we will have to observe carefully whether there is a mark of a star we might miss because it doesn’t glow.
On that note, the Levitation effect is almost over, so we should wave the wand…
When I thought so, Klaus suddenly crouched on the spot and started to investigate something.
“Klaus-sama, did you find a star?”
“No, it’s not … this is an Eastern spell card. Magic of Alarm1. Its range has been narrowed down to increase its accuracy. This style is definitely…”
Klaus suddenly stood up, stepped over the spot where the spell was cast, and took a step into the room.
“… Ann! Are you there!?”
It was a room with relatively few traces of destruction.
A small girl was curled up and cowering in the corner.
She lifted her face after noticing us.
Oh, good…we made it in time…!
The lamp attached to the end of the staff illuminated her face, which closely resembled that of Klaus.
Ann Hafan’s face is ghastly pale with fatigue and fear.
I could tell how hard it had been been for her just by looking at her face.
There are traces of tears on Ann’s cheeks.
But the tears flowing down her cheeks now are for a completely different reason.
Klaus ran to Ann and hugged her.
Ann also hugged him back.
“Onii-sama…Onii-sama! Sniff…Onii-sama, you big idiot!”
“…I’m so sorry. This is all my fault. It’s because of me that you had to go through such bitter hardships.”
“I was lonely…I was really scared, you know…?”
“I know, I’m really sorry.”
It is probably because Ann’s tension thread broke after seeing Klaus.
From her initial whimpers she burst into a loud wail.
Klaus patted her head with the gentle expression of a caring big brother, an expression I had never seen before.
While being stroked, Ann returned it with warm-hearted punches like a spoiled child.
“I’m glad you’re okay … I was so worried about you.”
“Geez … that should be my line. You even bothered Erica-sama!”
“Yes, it’s all my fault. You came to such a dangerous place in order to stop me, didn’t you?”
“Ah— yes. That’s right. I tried to bring you back without telling Otou-sama. Please appreciate it.”
“I see. I caused you to worry…”
Ann…your eyes are swimming…
That’s right. I felt this way from the very beginning.
If it were only to stop Klaus, she could’ve done so when he used the sleeping magic.
We did talk about it during the dinner party, I wonder if her interest in the ruins developed at that time.
These two really are siblings.
Once she finished crying and regained her composure, Ann left Klaus.
Wiping away her tears, she straightened her back and turned to face me.
“Erica-sama, I’m sorry for having caused you trouble.”
“It’s alright, Ann-sama. I’m really glad that you are safe.”
Since Ann was getting teary again, I carefully wiped her eyes with a crisp handkerchief.
Her expression, it changed to the same smile as the one I saw in the Knot Garden.
With this, I was finally at ease.
(I had a terrible feeling when we reached this floor, but it looks like everything has ended peacefully!!)
If the three of us can escape the Ruins of Visitor, the death flag will be successfully avoided—!
All that is left is to read the scroll, swing the wand, cross the gate, go home, and get some sleep.
Aah, there is also a sermon by my father before going to bed…..but compared to the fate of the death event that would be waiting six years in the future, it is overwhelmingly better.
Klaus took out a magic recovery potion and made Ann drink it.
Ann has also lost most of her magical energy while searching the ruins.
Rather, it is amazing that she managed to hold out so long.
The fact that her specialty lies in highly-precise, concentrated magic rather than wide ranged ones, is an advantage in this kind of labyrinth.
Now then, the excursion is still an excursion until we go home.
It slipped my mind now that we have joined with Ann, but I don’t know what might happen on our way back.
First of all, until Ann can move, we should rest in this room—
Since a little while ago, the labyrinth started shifting once more, but something is off.
This is a sound I had been hearing frequently since entering the Ruins of Visitor.
Therefore, I got used to it, and it was driven from my consciousness.
But for some reason, hasn’t it been going on for too long?
I looked back the way we came from.
There wasn’t anything particularly unusual; just some stone scarred by combat and plenty of corpses.
“What’s wrong, Erica?”
“No…somehow, I feel like something isn’t right…”
Far from stopping, the whirring sounds grew louder and louder.
Somehow, I felt like it was approaching us.
“By the way, Onii-sama, Erica-sama—it has been bothering me for a while now, but what is that?”
“Yes. I think it is the Moonlight Gallnut Ink…”
“Ha!? Erica! Hide the lamp!”
Klaus looked at the direction pointed by Ann, shouting like in a hurry.
He covered the lamp attached to his staff with the sleeve of his robe.
I also imitated him and put the lamp away in my bag.
—Indeed, the clouds looming in front of the moon outside must have cleared up.
The entire floor overflowed with golden-yellow specks spread across a blanket of pale blue.
All three of us were standing over a starry sky painted with Moonlight-Gallnut Ink.
In my mind, the warning message written at the entrance resurfaced.
Do not step on the stars. Otherwise— Otherwise, what would happen?
I shifted my shoes fearfully.
There was the mark of a star right where I was standing.
Uwah, I, I am too unlucky!?
“Ann! Erica! Hands—!”
The crumbling sound of the stones obstructed Klaus’ cry.
The field of vision tilted obliquely.
No, it is the floor of the labyrinth that became inclined.
I could see the hard stone floor swelling and dipping like a stormy sea.
Floor, wall, pillar, ceiling—-
The level itself crumbled and fell.
We were caught up in it and were plunged into the depths of the ruins along with the falling floor.
(Uwah, will we die like this, in such a place? Even though the three of us finally got together…!)
Ann who was close to Klaus barely caught onto his arms.
However, I was watching the reunion of the brother and sister from a little distance away, so I was separated.
In order to protect Ann, Klaus deployed several hundred spell cards like an umbrella.
It was a Protective Circle to protect themselves from the collapsed debris.
However, they are more than five meters away from me.
A trap of wide area magic interference – if that is the case, the Protective Circle won’t reach me!
Uwah, what should I do!
“Calm down, Erica! The Passwall is still in effect!”
…As he told me, that is correct.
If I look carefully, Klaus was ignoring the rubbles heading towards him and the spell cards were only repelling obstacles that were likely to hit Ann.
Accelerated gravel stones came at me and Klaus, but they all flew through us.
What a handy magic.
Eduard-oniisama, thank you for preparing the immature scrolls!
The pit formed from the collapse was deep and unexpectedly wide.
Although we had been falling down for quite some time, but the bottom of the hole still couldn’t be seen.
I thought that we would plunge into the gigantic Crevasse made in the bedrocks when we pass through the labyrinth.
But on the walls of the surroundings, there are cavities to store the artificially made star crystal lamps.
It might be like a cathedral with a height of…several meters, no, over a hundred meter.
It would be safer to drop slowly and reach the bottom.
“Klaus-sama! The wand of Feather Falling!”
“Right, I understand.”
I instructed Klaus briefly while pulling out the same wand.
Coordinating the timing to swing the wand with Klaus, I also used the Feather Falling.
A white magic circle spread out below us like a thin membrane.
As we burst through, the circle disintegrated into small, feather-like shapes.
We were engulfed by a soft wall of air, as if gravity had dissipated, and something gentle was supporting our bodies.
The falling speed dropped drastically.
The broken stones and the remnants of the mechanism of the mechanical labyrinth overtook us and rushed to the bottom.
After a while, the collapsed level hit the bottom and the sound of a rumble echoed from beneath.
“Ann-sama! Are you alright?”
“Y-yes! Erica-sama! Thanks to Onii-sama, I am unharmed!”
“Are you still alright, Erica?”
“Yes. Thank you for your patience.”
Klaus and Ann were reaching out their hands to reach me.
However, five meters was too much of a distance.
I took out the animated rope from the bag and ordered it.
“Stretch, like a snake! Fasten, like a hawser!
Like a serpent striking at its prey, the rope coiled up and then shot forward.
It drew a gentle parabola in the air before firmly twining around Klaus’ arm.
“You’re really well prepared.”
“That’s because I am an alchemist of Aurelia.”
These were actually prepared by my brother, though~
Klaus pulled the rope, dragging me towards them until I was under his umbrella of protective circle.
With this, the three of us were finally together again.
“What the heck was that? A trap?”
“A trap…rather than that, it must have been caused by a malfunctioning trap.”
“While my brother and his friends fought off the monsters, the mechanisms along with the floor and pillars took heavy damage.”
“Well, there certainly were places where the broken gears were exposed, the mechanical labyrinth tried to work, but the labyrinth itself couldn’t bear that movement I suppose.”
Come to think of it, there were other peculiarities as well.
So many monster corpses down here had been left practically untouched.
Yet in the upper level, there was a golem for material recovery wandering around.
Perhaps brother decided not to station a golem here on purpose, knowing the floor might collapse if the labyrinth shifts.
But Onii-sama…how was I supposed to tell the whole place was going down with just this hint…?
“What is it, Ann?”
“No, I just thought, it is somewhat beautiful…”
Before we knew it, the star crystals in the walls began to let off a faint light, reacting to our magical energy.
In the midst of such a fantastic sight, we slowly descended with our arms linked in a circle.
“I’m sorry for saying this at such a time.”
“No. It’s alright. I was just thinking something similar as well.”
That is true.
Despite the situation, all things considered, this pit of star crystal alone is a wonderful experience.
It feels like a movie from Studio Ghibli2.
If there was my star crystal necklace, it might’ve become even more similar to that.
I packed the star crystal lamp and hunting knife in my bag too!
…But I hope there is no one with a colonel position3.
Regardless of our anxiety and wonder, the magic of Feather Falling gently brought us to the depth of the ruins.
Although it took a while, we eventually reached the bottom of the Ruins of Visitor.
The structures and decorations were similar to that of cathedrals from the ancient times of Aurelia.
We landed on somewhere resembling the nave and an archway separated us from the inner sanctum.
If it were a regular cathedral, there would be statues of the distinguished Kings or Dukes of Aurelia from the past adorning both sides of the arch, however, in here there are sculptures of a legendary alchemist who supposedly lived in the era before we visited this continent.
However, the familiarity ended there, judging from the surroundings, it appeared to be the innermost room of the labyrinth.
First of all, the ceiling was a few hundred meters high.
Naturally, there is no window underground.
The walls by the aisles, where the windows should have been, are engraved with the constellations imparted by the ancient alchemists which can’t be seen on these lands.
They formed the reliefs of legendary figures, monsters, animals and tools for navigation.
The points where the stars aligned to draw the reliefs are embedded with star crystals, giving off a pale blue glimmer.
Well, it seems the floor is a mess.
In addition to the monster carcasses, there were also debris from the eighth level littering the place.
Although it was a force majeure, it is a scene that my ancestors were likely to get angry at.
As I thought so, a number of magic circles that had been surrounding me and Klaus dispersed into beads of light and were swept away.
I caught a glimpse of the silver pocket watch and checked.
It seems that the effect of Pass Wall has expired.
“I’m glad that the collapse has subsided, if another big rock came crashing down on us, my Protective Circle might not have been able to repel them.”
“This seems to be an important place for the people of Aurelia and I feel sorry that it was ruined by the falling rocks.”
“Yeah. It feels majestic. Erica, is this a shrine or a cathedral?”
“Well, that is definitely what it is, but…”
I looked around carefully.
In the inner sanctum of the cathedral – originally the place where the altar dedicated to Bren should be – there stood a megalith of pure star crystal.
There were several cracks running down the megalith due to the collapse.
I looked at it and tilted my head.
“‘The God of the Visitors, the Altar of Bren’… it is supposed to be that…”
The materials are different, but a large, upright stone signifies the altar of the worshiped god of Aurelia itself.
Aurelia’s god Bren, or St. Brendan is worshiped in the form of a megalith.
Originally in the West when the regions were still independent kingdoms, we worshiped the god named Bren, who is the god of stars, voyage, and alchemy.
However, when consolidating with the other three countries on this continent to form the Federal Kingdom, Aurelia was converted to the same religion as the other three to form a shared sense of national identity.
The religion of the Federal Kingdom was supposed to be the monotheistic faith Ignitia had brought from the southern continent.
However, Ignitia’s religion was tolerant of pagans.
As a part of the unification, Ignitia officially welcomed the gods of other faiths as angels and saints.
It might be a familiar way of thinking with the Japanese’s Daikokuten which was derived from Shiva4.
Thus Aurelia’s god Bren, became a saint in service to the one true god of Ignitia under the name St. Brendan and his worship continues to this day.
(If it’s the game setting, shouldn’t there be a sealed ancient evil spirit? All I see here is a shrine to an ancient god…)
When I looked closely, I could make out letters running down the megalith.
They were from the ancient Aurelian alphabet, which is still used in Aurelian runestones and to enchant tools.
Although I am lacking in linguistic studies, I could still barely decipher it.
“‘Here we lay to rest the one who crossed the vast sea of stars and accompanied us on our long journey. Sleep at peace, my nameless friend. May this promised land of abundance be your eternal cradle–’”
When I read the poem engraved on the megalith, Klaus and Ann took a stance of prayer.
“So it isn’t an altar but a tomb … Perhaps for someone noble who passed away right before reaching the Ichthyes continent…”
“That is quite a tragic inscription.”
“That’s right. But, I wonder why my ancestors buried this person with the same rites as a god……”
I gently caressed the inscription on the megalith with my finger, feeling melancholic.
Huh? Is it only my imagination?
The place where my finger carelessly touched turned black—
—A voice echoed from far away.
Vibrations coursed through the air.
Soprano and bass all at once, it was like a stringed and brass instrument playing over each other.
It was a sad voice like the sounds of a child weeping, like the sound of a whale singing.
Each time the voice rang out, the star crystal megalith was stained a darker shade from the inside.
The star crystal which was previously shining blue is now dyed completely black.
Dark water continued to overflow from the cracks in the crystals.
It looked as if the megalith was shedding tears.
The moist wind bearing the scent of tide, swept my hair.
In response to the surging magical energy, the star crystals on the walls and ceiling strengthened their lights.
In no time at all, the overflowing black liquid covered the entire floor of the cathedral.
The black wave washed over my boots.
Klaus, Ann and I were perplexed as we looked around us.
We faced a spectacle that should never exist at the depths of the earth.
An endless black sea, stretching out to the horizon and beyond, and a sky full of stars overhead.
1 Magic of Alarm: Set an alarm against unwanted intrusion. Until the spell ends, an alarm will alert you whenever a tiny or larger creature touches or enters the warded area. You can also designate creatures that won’t set off the alarm. (source)
2 In the raw it actually said ジ○リ but I know it was referring to Studio Ghibli.
3 These three sentences are actually referring to the movie Laputa: Castle in the Sky, a movie from Studio Ghibli. In the movie, Sheeta had an aetherium crystal necklace. And she was being chased by Colonel Muska for her necklace.
4 So, like the Japanese which incorporated Shiva as their own god, Daikokuten, the religion of Ignitia incorporated other countries’ god as angels and saints. So, while in Aurelia Bren was a god, in the Federal Kingdom he became St. Brendan, a saint. (please correct me if I’m wrong about the Japanese god).