We are already 2/3 through the first arc! Just 5 chapters more and we’re done! This mini-arc is full of actions so I hope I can convey it right.
ED: clover, eristol
A melancholic cry echoed from far away.
The walls and ceiling were a galaxy of blue star crystal shining in faint, blue light.
At our feet was a sea of black water that far exceeded the megalith’s capacity.
The sound of waves, the scent of the tide, the moist winds, the homesickness stealthily and smoothly entered my mind, creating an illusion as if these were not the underground ruins but a starry sky over the ocean.
They tried to make me recall the nostalgic, faraway ocean—the one the Visitor’s Clan called home.
I shook my head to shake off the delusions that had entered.
I have to be firm.
I have never traveled by a ship, and even before my reincarnation, I had never taken a boat ride for more than five hours in my entire life.
So there is nothing like a nostalgic ocean!
“Klaus-sama! Ann-sama! I have a bad feeling about this place, we need to escape right away—”
Looking back, I saw the Hafan siblings writhing in pain in the black sea.
Eh!? This has become a serious matter!?
“Sad, sad, sad…aah, Onii-sama, Erica-sama…please help…my head…”
“Kuh…get a hold of yourself, Ann…! Concentrate on the circulation of magical energy, maintain your magic resistance!”
Ann was trembling with a pale face while muttering incoherently.
Klaus hugged her, and enveloped themselves in his barrier of Protective Circle.
He pushed a magic recovery potion into Ann’s mouth and forced her to drink it.
Klaus also drank a bottle of potion, and chanted a few spells to add more layers to his barrier.
“Are you two okay?!”
“Erica, you weren’t affected!?”
“Eh, yeah…rather, I want you to tell me what happened…”
“Ah…I see, Aurelia is resistant to such magic.”
Well, certainly Aurelia is somewhat resistant to this kind of magic.
Besides, I have my father’s seal of approval as someone particularly resistant even among Aurelian people.
Right now it is useful, so isn’t that good?
“I received a tremendously strong mental interference. It pushed in nostalgia, sorrow, and loneliness, and finally it felt like it was going to capture my very soul.”
“I thought that my heart would be swept away and my soul would disappear…”
“That was really dangerous.”
“You’re really insensitive…I didn’t think the day would come when I would feel envious of Aurelia.”
Somehow, it doesn’t feel like I am being praised.
Just to be sure, I moved inside Klaus’ Protective Circle.
Before our eyes, the megalithic altar continued to change.
The lump of star crystal melted and became smaller as if it had been eroding for years.
The carcasses of the monsters that had been scattered around in the cathedral were also affected by the erosion caused by the black water.
From the soft parts like the soft flesh and organs, they melted along with their pelts, scales, and bones…
“Huh? Klaus-sama, if we remain in this liquid as we are right now, won’t we also be in danger?”
“Don’t panic. This magic doesn’t work on intelligent creatures.”
“We probably would have ended up like that had our minds been destroyed by the mental interference just now.”
The Hafan siblings explained the information obtained from Glam Sight.
Well, I am jealous of the Hafan people because of this.
But I feel like I understand the true scenario.
Originally, Ann should have encountered the collapse of the eighth level all alone.
Of course, she didn’t have the wand of Feather Falling or even Klaus’ Protective Circle.
Ann would have expanded defense magic by consuming the majority of her magical energy, but she couldn’t have completely protected herself, and then she would’ve arrived at the cathedral heavily injured.
What would’ve awaited her is the destructive mental interference magic and black water that melts and takes in whatever it touches.
If so, this water—
As if to affirm my answer, the black water spread throughout the room was beginning to move.
Before long it dissolved completely, the black water was gathering in the place where the star crystal megalith was, which has become the size of the little finger.
The black water rose while swirling and condensing.
“Eeeh–? Well, is this the evil spirit after all—-!?”
“Evil spirit? Isn’t that the altar of a god? But, is there even a liquid evil spirit? Onii-sama, Erica-sama?”
“I have never heard of it either. It is true that it’s similar to a kind of spirit body – similar to the magical structure of a wraith……”
Oops. I said it out loud.
Anyways, a wraith, that is an even more ridiculous talk.
He should be the spirit of an alchemist who was killed by his compatriots because he made the Philosopher’s Stone.
Then, isn’t that a ghost?
The mass of black water repeatedly expanded and contracted, and gradually formed a shape.
The body that was previously liquid changed, with hard scales covering the surface of its body.
Two twisted horns resembling that of a sheep or a goat.
Thick limbs that look like logs with claws.
A large mountain-like body covered with shells and protrusions.
It was similar to a dragon.
It was similar to a turtle.
A monster that had never been seen or heard of before in the present world.
I want to say…I want to say even if I can’t communicate it to anyone……
In that game where you trained monsters while trying to collect a lot of them, if you paint the combination of Lapras and Sandslash black, it will be like this1.
The roar of the monster echoed in the cathedral.
The very loud voice that was about to shatter our eardrums was enough to make our legs that were about to escape frozen from fear.
“What the heck is that!? You said it’s an evil spirit, I can’t judge whether that is alive or dead, but it’s a dragon or another type of monster.”
“He should be an evil spirit……he was the legendary alchemist named Zaratan who created the Philosopher’s Stone, the one who led the Visitor’s Clan to this continent and found the gold veins.”
“How did such a great man become an evil spirit?”
“That was a human – however, because he was betrayed by my ancestors, that grudge……”
I know that if you have grudges you might become an evil spirit. But would someone take on this kind of appearance only because of a grudge?
I felt that the black monster looked at me, distorted its lips and laughed.
No, it wasn’t my imagination.
The growls of the monster gradually changed to something akin to a human voice.
『This me……this, me, a human? An alchemist? Kukukuku… you’ve got it all wrong… You…』
The monster’s massive build was trembling.
Is he crazy?
—No, this time it is different.
He is angry. He is angry, trembling with excitement that can’t be suppressed.
『You’ve forgotten me, Aurelia?!
I still remember… An eternity may pass, but I haven’t forgotten even for an instant…!
Your smell… and the pain you have caused me!!』
“Pain……? Then, after all, you are…”
『Aah, how it brings me back…
That face, that golden hair, those emerald eyes……
—And yet, you… it took only a few hundred years for you to forget! Forget me…!
……The one you murdered!!!』
My whole body was shocked as if it was struck by a hard object and my sight was instantly distorted.
The air was forcibly pushed out from my lungs, and I was confused due to my brain’s supply of oxygen being cut off, as if I was dragged into the pool for playful attacks.
Before I knew it, I was being pressed against the stone floor by the front leg of the black monster.
『Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha–!
A gentle pat, and see what happens… Such weak life-forms you humans are!
I see that’s the one thing that has not changed even after hundreds of years.』
『Kukukukuku, don’t worry, you coin-grubbing scoundrel.
This much won’t kill you… Oh no, an easy death is too good for you…!
You’ll get a full taste of it before you go… My pain, my regret, my loneliness, my, my…
I believed in all of you! I thought you were my true friends!
But… but, how dare you betrayed me!!』
Black droplets dribbled down from the empty eye sockets looking into me.
Oh, no doubt about it.
It is different from the legend and game settings, but he certainly was betrayed by Aurelia’s ancestors.
Remember this… Carve it deep in your soul before the flame of your life goes out…! Accursed descendant of gold-hungry pigs!
Zaratan is not my name.
I am Zaratan just as you are Human.
I am but a single Zaratan.
A nameless Zaratan.
One who forever lost the chance to know its name……no thanks to you, treacherous Aurelians!!!』
It was a monologue full of anger, yet full of suffering like tearing out himself.
I nodded a little while being caught.
The emotion of his grudge had gently entered my mind somehow, rather than the mental interference ability that appealed for nostalgia and sorrow.
The moment my heart shook, a small explosion broke out in front of me.
Because he was pressured by the impact, the restraint of Zaratan relaxed.
At that moment, something wrapped around my body and I was pulled with great power.
“I don’t get it… not a single word of it, monster. But stop talking like we’re not here.”
Before the exit of the inner sanctum, there were the Hafan siblings.
Klaus set the Wand of Fire Bolt and pierced the black monster with his staff, while Ann was grasping the opposite end of the magical rope wrapped around me.
That’s right, my bag……when I was pressed down by Zaratan, it was falling down.
“Erica-sama! Do you have any injury!?”
“Nn……I’m alright. Thank you for your help, Ann-sama, Klaus-sama.”
“I’m not okay.”
“Y-yes? What’s wrong, Klaus-sama?”
“You expect me to be fine and dandy after you nearly went off and died just now?! Carve this into your soul deeper than the words of that monster: Hafan’s men will protect women before anything! So, get rid of that damn look in your eyes like you’ve given up on everything!”
I did not. I did not make such an ominous expression.
—I haven’t done it, right?
It doesn’t matter, and I am thankful that he will help me, but what a tough scolding.
“Onii-sama… you could be more honest, you know…”
“I didn’t ask for your input, Ann! Undo the rope and give that stuff to her already!”
Ann undid the rope while sighing and returned my bag and wands to me.
Klaus’ sister is having trouble with him.
I want you to live firmly.
Ann had a bunch of spellcards and a staff, she stood diagonally behind Klaus.
I also came to my senses and stood up, having the wand handed to me by Ann at the ready.
Too late, Zaratan has recovered his stance and is slowly walking towards us.
A burnt-like smell still remains in the air, but the monster’s body doesn’t even show traces of flame injuries.
Was it hindered by the hard scales or did he already regenerate?
『This takes me back… It’s all so terribly nostalgic…
I remember now. The wand of the petty alchemists.
It’s been so long that it took me by surprise, but such trivial parlor tricks won’t work a second time.』
“I see. Then prepare to be surprise by Hafan’s marvelous craft. You won’t need a second chance to see my magic after you’re dead.”
『Hah–! You have spirit, little one!
I can tell you are not Aurelian. You smell… different.
Were you lured in by a small sum of money, or have you been misled by the girl’s charm—
Whichever it is, I don’t care, but in the end you will be betrayed by Aurelia just like me.
Now move. I have no quarrel with you.』
“Are you going to retreat? Move aside, Monster. If I don’t bring back this showy lady and my sister soon, I will receive a good scolding from my father who is 100 times more frightening than you.”
Klaus continued to look after us as he stood with an imposing stance, he dismissed the huge monster he was facing in a grand gesture.
Even though deep down he must feel terribly frightened.
His strong point was his sense of responsibility, that didn’t change even when he was very young.
I glanced fleetingly at the wand that was handed to me by Ann.
The stick head was rock salt. The shaft was cherry tree.
There was a skin of boar wrapped around the handle.
Core material……the leg of a preserved pig.
Yes, it is the Wand of Grease.
I believe that it is an instruction from Klaus, but…..what does he want me to do with this wand?
The monster and Klaus were still glaring at each other in a tense atmosphere.
In this situation of conflict, my confusion was deepened.
1 I don’t think I need to say this, but this is referring to Pokemon. And seeing the cover of this series, Zaratan does seem like a combination of Lapras and Sandslash.
Edit: Apparently, Zaratan is another reference to D&D. Zaratan is the name of a giant turtle that looks like an island. (source)
Thank you to Ultimatecalibur for telling me this!
Also, I tried making Zaratan more menacing by bolding his speech and giving the sense of hurt by writing some of the words in italic. What do you think?