The last chapter for this mini-arc. More food for thought! Enjoy the chapter!
ED: eristol, xtostos
I went through the back of the school building and went to the desired Phantom Beast Museum.
Lindis Royal Phantom Beast Museum is a three-storied building with a generally elongated parallelepiped shape.
Like the other buildings, the roof is gray and the wall is made of beeswax limestone.
When I looked closely, I could see that there are relief and sculptures depicting phantom beasts and magical beasts at various parts of the building.
A goblin in a posture as if supporting a pillar, a gargoyle and a dragon drainsprouts, and a manticore that seems to bite the knocker.
There seemed to be more of them when I looked around.
The museum displays only monstro, rare magical creatures, and phantom beasts that seem to be able to talk in human language.
They are much more frightening creatures than the domestic monstro.
Naturally, there are many types one would hardly be able to see living specimen of.
In the hall immediately after entering the museum, a whole body skeleton of the phantom beast minotaur was assembled and exhibited.
The upright size is close to 3 meters including its horns.
The overall silhouette looks like a gorilla, its upper body is well-developed and its arms are long.
It might not have been a complete bipedal walking but instead it walks using the aid of its remaining hoof-like upper limbs.
Observing the skeleton in a relaxed manner, I could see that it evolved from a creature closely related to an ox.
Firstly, there is no upper incisor like an ox, and instead its canine teeth for eating meat were greatly developed.
The fingers of the upper limbs are the same as that of an ox, the thick middle fingers and ring fingers have thick and hard claws similar to hooves.
It has no thumb, but similar to a panda, it has a protrusion on the palm bone, and it seems to be able to grasp things by moving the little finger independently.
According to the explanation standing beside the skeletal specimen, minotaur has a clear class concept.
They appear to have carved decorations according to each class at their horn.
This minotaur seems to be a warrior class.
As I looked closely, I could see that there are traces marked by arrows and marks of fractures that have been treated.
I felt somewhat moved when I thought that such a large creature form their own unique culture and society.
Skeletal specimens of various kinds of large and small monstro were lined up to welcome the visitors on the left and right side of the hall.
The white bones of numerous monstro including phantom beasts and their related magical beasts.
While giving the scene a sidelong glance, I headed to the room further back in the front hall.
In the large room, there was a stuffed huge black spider.
The route continued in a way that goes under the belly of the spider.
If it was the smaller but closely related species, I have seen it as a material, but this is my first time seeing a species this huge.
Even just the part of the body is as big as cattle, and if the length of the leg is extended, it would be about 5 meters long.
It is a spider as black as the darkness itself, but there is a pale spotted pattern beneath its abdomen.
The spots look like a skull floating in the dark night.
“Oh my, are you interested in spiders?”
A woman who was in the back of the room suddenly approached while smiling.
She is a beautiful woman with light brown skin and platinum blond hair, which is more common in Ignitia and Karkinos.
I recall the self-introduction of the staff members during the entrance ceremony.
This is perhaps not the director of the museum, but the curator, Hélène Lièvre.
“This child is of a species that inhabits only the dense black mist forest area upstream of the Annatra River of Karkinos.”
“It was born in the dense forest of Karkinos, huh……”
“Yes, there are many phantom beasts in that continent. And there are many long-lived spiders among them that can understand and speak human-speech.”
I imagine a picture of such a huge and intelligent spider lurking in a dark jungle.
What an absurd and terrible world, that continent of Karkinos.
“They have lots of spiders like that? That’s terrifying.”
“That’s true. But, I think it is wonderful that there exists a world beyond human knowledge.”
While there are many civilizations blooming, until this very day, there are many areas in the continent of Karkinos that are far beyond human knowledge.
Many monstro, that don’t exist in Ichthyes, prosper there without coming into contact with the public gaze.
While smiling like a maiden, Lièvre said.
“When it becomes more peaceful and easier for me to travel to Karkinos, I’d like to try to travel to that forest again.”
“Have you been to that place?”
“Fufufu, I have heard the spoken words of the spiders, you know?”
It is a story from when our relationship with Gigantia was better than it is now.
It is said that there were teams of researchers who studied the ecology of the gigantic spiders in the academy.
While traveling back and forth the nearby villages, we took several weeks to observe from outside the spider territory using spells.
Children of spiders were pacing around in an ancient fortress that was abandoned in the backwoods of the dense forest as if they owned the place.
They had unique hunting methods that could capture even griffons by combining various types of threads.
When I was finally able to record the singing voice of a parent spider who was lulling its child at around midnight the day before the scheduled return date, my colleagues and I silenced our voices and blessed them together.
Lièvre recalled such memories with nostalgia.
“It was very wonderful. It was a song with a surprisingly gentle sound.”
The slightly purplish gray eyes seemed to be staring at the distant unexplored region of Karkinos.
“Oops, I’ve derailed too much. But a girl who seems to be fine looking at such a scary spider must be quite unusual, huh.”
“No, it was interesting.”
“Thank you. Is this your first time here?”
“Yes, I am one of this year’s freshmen……”
“Then, you can take your time. The skeletal specimen of a centaur that has just entered this month is also on the second floor, so please come and take a look.”
After she said so, Lièvre departed.
She is quite an interesting person and I could listen to good things, but Karkinos would be impossible for me.
I followed the route and looked at the skeletal specimens and stuffed phantom beasts.
I passed some upper-class student mages who were examining the age of a skeletal specimen using analysis magic and came back to the hall.
While looking at the minotaur from overhead, I climbed the stairs to the second floor.
The skeletal specimen of a centaur that is on the second floor is even larger than I thought.
I guess it is about more than three meters in height.
The skeleton of the centaur somewhat feels mismatched.
Unlike the minotaur, I cannot imagine how it evolved to become like this.
At first glance, it looks like a mammal that has 6 attached limbs.
Because there are ribs on both the human torso and the horse torso, I cannot imagine what the internal organs look like.
According to the explanation, it seems that it is thought that it was the product of an ancient magical experiment or something.
It is said that unlike the minotaur, whose living specimens had been encountered before, only whitened bones of the centaurs were ever found.
Then, I take a look at the rare phantom beasts gathered in order.
A stuffed orthros1 the giant two-headed dog was displayed using a whole room.
The lapis lazuli blue scales of a great wyrm, even one piece of the scales seem to be as big as a horse carriage, and I can’t imagine the size of the main body.
The stuffed unicorn which is being exhibited in pairs is very vivid that it feels like it will come alive.
Everything seems to make me feel faint when I consider the purchase price as well.
I descended down the stairs to the first floor after having fully enjoyed the exhibition.
“—according to the report, it seems that the arrival of a phantom beast specimen that is thought to be an angel will be delayed, Director.”
After descending the staircase halfway, I stopped at the words ‘a phantom beast that is thought to be an angel’.
That is the voice of Lièvre.
Is that Clovis Cuniculus the museum director who she is talking with?
“Even though we must confirm the truth of the death of the angels quickly, this is a serious situation.”
“If it were stolen by any chance……”
“It would be terrible.”
I recalled the story I heard at Knot Reed’s material store six years ago.
The clerk and the customer were saying that the corpses of angels appeared on the market in Karkinos, or something like that.
So that rumor had been true.
There is a system that gathers faith using the altar and turns it into the angels’ power.
That is the identity of the altar network built on Ichthyes and Karkinos.
However, since the altars were gradually corrupted within the past century, a decent supply of faith for the angels ceased from 50 years ago.
The angels who eventually ran out of power stopped functioning and they died one by one.
An angel is actually like a terminal of the system that God assembled so that humans will not perish.
Human beings are becoming stronger and smarter, so angels will soon be relieved of their duties, said Palug.
By the way, when I heard Palug’s story, the God she was talking about felt like some kind of a phantom beast.
I cannot imagine it well, but it is quite different from the image of at least the one in heaven.
God dwells in all of man and in all other living creatures.
God does not wear clothes of flesh, but each and every flesh is the throne of God.
From what Palug said, God seems to be that kind of living thing.
Is it a phantom beast parasitizing the mind and cells?
Like mitochondria, it may have been taken into cells during evolution.
Was a tiny bit of tissue of the monstro drawn on the mural paintings in the Island of Messenger inside one’s cells?
Any human being can connect directly to the one God, but it seems that it is not recommended.
It seems like how the words「I love you」 make your brain overflow and full with euphoria which induces madness.
Oops, anyway, about the aforementioned angel specimen.
It turns out that it wasn’t just idle gossip, I will tell Palug about it later.
It was already evening by the time I left the Phantom Beast Museum.
When I looked up, I could see a number of dragon silhouettes in the blue to yellow gradated sky.
It seemed it was time for the dragons which had been training to also return back to the large stable.
The setting sun reflected on the scales of the dragons and shone brightly in seven colors.
The phantom beasts in the museum are also nice, but after all the ones who are still alive are even more beautiful.
While thinking such, I made my way back home.
1 Orthros: the two-headed dog which was the sibling of Cerberus.
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