More plot! But don’t worry, in two chapters there will be fluffs! (also I said that I will take a break but I just. can’t. resist. help.)
I guess I will finish this mini arc first and then take a break (or so I said…)
ED: clover, xtostos, eristol
A single road cut through the forest of coniferous trees, traversing it horizontally.
A part of the mountain slope located at the end of this road had been shaved off, creating a vertical stone face on which a magic device was embedded.
On the surface of the stone sprawling out beneath our feet, magic characters and patterns were physically engraved, forming a transition magic circle.
A brass plate about the size of a door was stuck on the wall directly with magical power without using screws and nails.
On the surface of the brass plate, the same texts as the contract documents Gilbert borrowed were inscribed.
This seems to be the Sorcery Tag’s inscription.
“Yeah. There seems to be no mistake here.”
Harold nodded, confirming the content of the brass plate.
When he stepped above the transition magic circle, the magic circle was activated by the weak magical power emitting from the living body.
The characters on the brass plate started to shine dimly and formed a small magic line that reached only the height of our eyes.
Harold picked out a single magic key and held it in front of the small magic circle.
According to the document, this transition magic circle should be able to be activated with the joint Skeleton Key of Nibelheim family.
“Well then, everyone, shall we go?”
We silently nodded.
When Harold turned the key, the field of vision became warped as if to match his movement.
However, the effect was instantaneous and everything was painted white with the intense light coming out from our feet.
There was a sensation as if my brain and stomach were shuffled, like riding a free falling thrill ride plus the coffee cup.
When the discomfort suddenly disappeared, I felt like staggering.
The surroundings were pitch black.
Was the transition successful?
“Uheeh……this is why I don’t like a hurried transition magic circle……
Is everyone here? No way, I’m not here alone, am I?”
That is Gilbert’s voice.
Considering the direction and distance of his voice, his standing position seems to coincide with the one before the transition.
“Wait, Aniki, I will turn on the light!”
Harold’s voice came and the orange light was immediately turned on.
With the light of the lantern he had in hand, the appearance of everyone appeared in the darkness.
Apparently, it seems that this place is the mine tunnel.
It is the same as the entrance to the mine at the foot of the mountain and there is a carved stone of the transition magic circle.
Then, is there a brass plate with the Sorcery Tag here somewhere?
At least, there is no such thing within the reach of my line of sight.
『Hm? This is……
Oops, there is not enough light.
Erica, use this. Gilbert, you too.』
Tirnanog saw the other side of the darkness and seemed to have noticed something.
He turned to me, took out the star crystal lamps and handed them to me and Gilbert.
“Thank you, Tir.”
“Sorry, mister. Heeh, as expected of the ducal family, you’re using a high-quality stone.”
Thanks to the three lights, I finally confirmed the place we are at right now.
What was illuminated was the view of countless barrels stacked up to fill the mine tunnel.
“Haah, what is this……”
“Why are there so many barrels here, Harold……?”
“Aren’t they the smelted items? It’s a sludge that comes out when we separate metal from the ore.”
Gilbert and I tilted our heads and Harold returned his answer as if struck.
But after answering, Harold’s expression turned cloudy as he racked his brain.
“This place……it should be a new mine, right?”
“Well……that’s how it should be.
But this, no matter how I look at this place, it’s abandoned.
I think this is probably a waste mine somewhere in the Nibelheim territory.”
Harold approached the barrels as he said so and turned the angular light.
He checked the burning stamp on the surface of the barrels over and over again and sighed deeply.
“As I thought. This is the insignia of a trader who has a deal with my father.
Some time ago, for the sake of fundraising, my father undertook the waste disposal of some vendors for waste management.
That is……ah, jeez, why did that person buy this waste himself!”
Harold who seemed to be unable to hold back his anger while talking, raised his voice.
When he kicked a barrel in front of him, the barrel rolled down the slightly slanted tunnel, hit the wall and broke.
Harold seemed to become a little calmer after seeing the barrel break down due to his impulsive anger.
He slowly lowered the fist that he had raised and crouched down on the spot powerlessly.
Gilbert who was prompted by Tirnanog walked to the broken barrel.
He put the barrels scattered around the tunnel and their contents in order.
Conceivably, he did it to give Harold some space.
I stroked Harold’s back who was crouching while hiding his face.
It seems that he is enduring his tears by gritting his teeth.
Still, he is stubborn and full of spirit. That is a relief.
Even so, I wonder how Earl Nibelheim could have been deceived.
Even an amateur can see that this is not a new mine.
Rather, as the Earl has a researcher’s mind, it should not be possible that he didn’t do a thorough investigation in advance.
Is there still some other trick?
“Wait, Botchan. Is there no Sorcery Tag in this place?”
After finishing clearing the barrels, Gilbert, who was looking around, raised his voice.
I also slowly held up the lamp over the wall of the tunnel.
“Maybe the contract hasn’t been established yet?”
“No, Aniki, that’s weird.
There was a Sorcery Tag outside this mine as per the document said.”
Harold, who had regained his energy after a while, was investigating the surroundings.
Eventually, no trace of a Sorcery Tag was found around us.
Since it was dangerous to get separated further, we regrouped at the place with the magic circle at once.
“Hey, why don’t we investigate the magic circle at the entrance once?”
『That’s right. Even if we stay here any longer than this, we will not make any progress.』
“No, wait a minute. Let’s investigate the magic circle on this side.
It’s a pity to do many round trips using such uncomfortable transition magic circle.”
Gilbert knelt and held the lamp at the feet of the magic circle.
He followed the spell with one hand and read the contents, but the visibility was bad so it wasn’t easy to make progress.
“Why don’t you try using Glam Sight?”
“Ah— I’m not compatible with the demonic eye type of spells, the chanting is a bit too long……”
“Then I will lend you the wand.”
“Oh, I’m saved, Ojou-san. But, the demonic eye type wands are expensive, right?”
“It’s fine if it’s only once.”
Gilbert gave out a relieved voice.
Reading spells is a hard work.
Tirnanog took out the Wand of Glam Sight from the bag and handed it to me.
Now then, what should I do? I should extend it slightly.
I slightly rearranged the spell threads inside the wand and waved it only once.
Instead of the small magic circle of the regular Glam Sight, a magic circle covering all four of us was developed.
The pale green shining magic circle crumbled and fell like powdered snow.
The spell permeated through the light of the magic circle easily and activated the Glam Sight normally.
“It’s a success.”
“Oh! This is Glam Sight!?”
“Extended range, huh. As expected of Ojou-san.”
We looked into the transition magic circle.
Thanks to the Glam Sight, Harold and I who haven’t learned the magic of Hafan, were able to read the spell.
“Heeh……so it looks like this! The demonic eye type wands are also interesting!”
“The performer of this magic is Heorot, and the right holder is Harold Nibelheim II.”
“What is set as the destination is……this coordinate, but it should match the location of the entry portal in the County of Argene.”
『That means, the magic circle outside is the problem, huh.』
At the words of Tirnanog, we nodded.
Harold took out the joint key once again and activated the transition magic circle.
Soon, we emerged outside the mine.
Gilbert was crouching and breathing deeply with a blue face.
It seems that he is weak to transition sickness.
“Over here, the performer is also Heorot, and the right holder is also my father.”
“The coordinates of the transition destination are……huh? Gilbert-san, please look over here.”
“Hm, aah, what is it?”
I pointed to the destination of the transition magic circle.
The part where the transition destination coordinates should be incorporated was replaced by a strange form of spell.
“Hmm……this one is followed by this line……huh?”
『What’s the matter, Gilbert.』
“Everyone, look for the same symbol as this part. It’s supposed to be described somewhere in the magic circle.”
We searched for the same symbol as the one pointed by Gilbert.
Even with that, we had to decipher it by referencing many different locations and dividing our attention among these, riddling our progress with hardships.
It seemed as if it had intentionally been made to be difficult to read.
“This is weird. If the mage made the magic circle on the other side, he would want to construct a magic circle in the same format here.”
『It was intentionally obfuscated, huh.』
“That wasn’t all. The main coordinates of the transition destination are here, the County of Argene.”
“That’s impossible! We actually transited to the Nibelheim territory!”
Although it is a magic circle that transferred us to the mine of the Nibelheim territory, the coordinates recorded here are of the Argene territory.
I have never heard of such randomly changing transition magic circle.
—No, I have.
(If you don’t follow the regular procedure, there will be a mechanism to transit you to another safe place.)
That’s it. That is what Actorius-sensei said.
I overwrote the Glam Sight that I was using and looked at the magic circle.
“What is it, Erica! Do you understand something!?”
“A conditional branch must have been built into this magic circle!”
『Ooh, that is what the gray mage said, huh.』
“Conditional branch! I forgot! You know about such a difficult technology as well, Ojou-san.”
Gilbert turned the pages of his notebook, scribble patterns that are often incorporated into conditional branches were written on the page.
Everyone had wide eyes like saucers as we checked the magic circle.
And then, just before the effect of the demonic eye disappeared, at last the contents of the conditional branch were picked up from the obfuscated magic circle.
“The conditional branch uses the authentication key in addition to the joint key and the coordinates if you don’t use the authentication key……”
“As we thought, Botchan, Ojou-san! This coordinate is that of the County of Nibelheim!”
Gilbert raised his voice.
On the other hand, Harold’s expression was dark.
“Is the mage called Heorot who set up the transition magic circle an accomplice?”
“Whether he is from Lindis or Hafan, neither will forgive him.
Stuff like this gets you tracked and hunted to the end of the world, and be put straight into jail.
Even if the sentence is over, he won’t be able to do magic related work anywhere on this continent.”
『However, they weren’t able to arrest Gustav and the other merchants1, right?
It’s impossible that this mage has not run away.』
In other words, the authentication keys are no longer available.
This means that the transition magic circle only has the transit function to that waste mine left.
Harold squeezed out his voice.
With an expression as if he felt like running away, Gilbert cast his eyes downward.
“First of all we have to go to the Notary Guild with the result of this investigation.
If all the evidence is collected, not only the guild but also this country will move.”
Gilbert transcribed the up-to-date main points of the transition magic circle on a vellum paper.
When Tirnanog received the paper, he put it inside the bag carefully.
After we finished our investigation, once again we were swaying inside a horse-carriage and heading towards Knot Reed.
The air inside the carriage on the way home was heavy and nobody tried to open their mouth.
1 This is the first time they said it, but it seems that this is the name of the merchant that is suspected to be murdered by the real culprit. And I guess this Heorot guy too. Just like cutting a lizard’s tail.
Also, I changed Cain Grendell to Cain Grendel. It seems that Grendel is the name of the antagonist in the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf. And Heorot is the name of the mead-hall that was built by King Hrothgar in the same poem. (Grendel, Heorot)