The Master of the Brave - Chapter 99
Chapter 99 – Unrest underground
They were not far behind Louis and Locke, who were in the lead. They stopped in front of what, according to the map, must have been a large space.
“This smell…” Leticia’s face became somewhat somber. It was a familiar smell to her: the smell of death.
Turning away, Locke staggered to his feet and rested his hands on the rock wall. When Cornelia and Lino came back a little way down the path, they were pale and had to sit down, covering their mouths. Wynn and Leticia peeked inside between Oort and the others.
They swallowed saliva. The space was large enough to call it a square. The ceiling was higher than the road and was heavily reinforced with supporting pillars. When this mine was still being mined, it was possible that it was used as a resting place for the miners. Inside, they found the remains of what had probably originally been a table and chairs, as well as the tools used for digging, left haphazardly. The same was true of the reinforcement pillars and their tools, although they were also badly deteriorated. Groundwater oozing from cracks in the roof rocks fell in spurts, drenching the floor as if after rain. And then…
“…All this blood and bones don’t belong to humans…” frowning, Oort entered the room and rolled a bone on the floor with his foot.
Along with the scattered bones, there was a reddish-black blood-like liquid spread all over the floor. Perhaps it was from the drops of water falling from the ceiling, but it never dried and filled the room with a foul smell. There was no wind blowing and the stagnant smell made even their eyes fill with tears, but Oort and the three entered the square without concern. Wynn and Leticia followed suit. When Leticia approached a place with a relatively solid floor where the bones were scattered, she crouched down. From there she couldn’t see the expression on Wynn’s face, but she watched the bones closely. Finally, she looked at Wynn, who was standing behind her, watching her.
“…Perhaps, it could be that these bones belonged to a goblin…”
The bones were scattered over a large area, and some of them had been crushed, but judging by their size, you’d think they were the size of a ten-year-old human child. Leticia guessed based on the features of their diminutive physique and skull.
“Letty, do you recognize them?”
“Yes. I’ve seen them in outdoor locations where there have been many battles.”
Wynn and the others had seen goblin corpses before, but had never taken the time to observe their bone structure. It was clear that Leticia had spent an immense amount of time on the battlefield that no ordinary person could measure.
“But isn’t it strange, Onii-chan?”
The only things scattered around the square were bones and a liquid that appeared to be blood. It wouldn’t be surprising if flesh and organs were splattered everywhere as well, given the apparent attack. For one thing, the smell of death in the room suggested that this had happened recently.
“But why would there be only the bones left?”
All the bones appeared to have been cleaned and the flesh had been removed down to the last piece. Without immediately answering Leticia’s question, Wynn looked around the square. The rock walls of it had several branching paths apart from the one they had come from. At the moment, there were no suspicious shadows of demons within the range of the “Magic Light” lights Wynn and the others possessed. There were times when the larger magical beasts ate the weaker demons, such as goblins, but, even so, there were likely to be bits of meat left over.
“Letty, can you think of any demons that are capable of doing this?”
“If it was an irregularly shaped demon like a slime… but a demon like that would melt to the bone.”
When Leticia said that…
“…Whatever it is, it means something’s up. Hey, Wynn. And Leticia-sama. Let’s go back to the hallway. In any case, we need to take a break, but we can’t even eat here.” Oort, who had somehow gotten into a position where he could hear Wynn and Leticia’s conversation, motioned for them to come closer.
Neither had any objection to Oort’s opinion, and they decided to go back.
They returned the way they had come and found Cornelia and Lino sitting, still pale. They had seen the scene of gruesome corpses many times, but the impact was different when you are prepared for it than when you encounter them unexpectedly. Locke was also psychologically shocked, but he recovered faster than the two women, and he and Wedge, who had remained calm, stood in front and behind the road, alert. When Wynn waved the Magic Light in his hand, Locke approached with a relieved expression on his face.
“Wynn. how did it go? I mean… were there any demons, or did they kill someone?”
“No, Letty thinks those scattered bones might be goblins.”
“Goblins? I see…” Locke glanced over Wynn’s shoulder toward the square. He must have noticed it too. Even if those bones didn’t belong to a person, something fiercer than goblins was lurking on this abandoned mine road.
Wynn and the others went back the way they had come, and found a dry patch of ground, as far away from the groundwater as possible, and decided to take a rest there. Thinking it would be safe to light a fire, since they had passed that way, they lit the wood. A light with warmth, different from the “Magic Light,” illuminated the inside of the abandoned mine road.
Wynn took a sip of water from the canteen hanging from his waist. He let out a great sigh. As he sat up, he also realized he was more tired than he thought. Fearing that the smell of cooked food would waft in the air and attract demons, they just boiled water and poured it into wooden cups. The food consisted only of jerky, nuts and stale bread. Still, as the fire warmed his body and put food in his stomach, he felt his tense mind begin to relax. The flickering and warmth of the flames, unlike “Magic Light,” calmed his tense mind. Leticia took a bag full of dried grapes from the luggage she had unloaded and sat down next to Wynn.
“Would you like some, Onii-chan?”
“Thanks.” He thanked Leticia who was offering them to him and popped a few into his mouth. A sweet taste spread through his mouth. It was a bland meal, which made the sweet taste even better. He took a few more dried grapes from Leticia’s bag and gave them to Cornelia and Lino.
The girls seemed to have finally compose themselves, and the blood seemed to have returned to their pale faces.
“So, have you finally calmed down, Your Highness?”
“Yes, I’m fine now.” Cornelia smiled at Oort, who called out to her.
“Well… I thought we were lucky that there were no demons like goblins or kobolds, but apparently not so.” Oort shrugged and said in a slightly playful tone. He was probably trying to change the heavy atmosphere that still hung over the place, though he had already relaxed a bit “But, well, we originally expected there to be some kind of demon or beast, so that’s to be expected.”
“Assuming those bones belong to goblins, I’d say the attack was recent. Also, thanks to those goblins being attacked, we now know that something is lurking on this abandoned road. That’s valuable information.”
“We shouldn’t let our guard down, even if there was nothing lurking.”
Wynn nodded at Eliza’s words.
“Did you find out which demon attacked the goblins~?”
“They didn’t leave any meat behind, not even a single piece…” Oort folded his arms and thought about Lino’s question.
“I can’t think of anything either. The only demon that can make a corpse be in a similar state is a slime…”
“If it’s slime, Letty will melt it dry.”
Wynn said, and Leticia nodded.
“There are many types of demons, some of which even I haven’t seen before. We should be on the lookout for them anyway.”
“Regardless of the identity of the demon, the damage on this abandoned road is worse than I thought… It’s going to be hard to fight with all our might.” Louis picked up the spear he had left on the ground while eating, and showed them the tip of the spear pointed at the ceiling.
“And why is that?”
“Because of the wood holding up the roof. Most of the places they’re in danger of coming loose, but as I just saw on the roof of the square, its deterioration is very serious.”
Wynn turned to Cornelia’s profile face, which was looking up at the roof, following the tip of Louis’ spear.
“It’s dangerous, isn’t it?”
“They’re rotten. Reinforcements are useless. They could collapse at the slightest impact.”
At the entrance to the abandoned mine road, Eliza had warned them, in the mines, not to use high-powered attack magic, especially explosive. Seeing their condition, it looked like they might collapse not only from magic, but also from the impact of a weapon.
“About that, Onii-chan. I have some ideas.”
“Yes. I’m going to try it out later. If it works, maybe we won’t have to worry about it.”
If Leticia said so, then it must be so. Wynn nodded.
“We don’t even know which demon it is, but we’ll be more careful than ever anyway.”
When Wynn turned to Cornelia and said that, not only Cornelia but the others nodded as well.
‘I who have the power, command you to do my will. Return to the form of your better days.’
Leticia’s spell echoed down the abandoned mine road. A golden glow that burst from Leticia’s body traveled through her fingertips to the rotting wood of the wooden reinforcements.
A sigh of admiration escaped from everyone. The wooden reinforcements, touched by the golden sheen, looked as good as new, as if they had just been assembled.
“Impossible… how did this…? Unbelievable.” Eliza was shaking uncontrollably.
“…Phew.” Finally, Leticia exhaled a small breath of air and opened her eyes, which had been closed. “Now, the reinforcements in this tunnel should be as strong as they were when the mine was still active. I don’t think an impact will bring the tunnel down so easily.”
Both Oort and Louis looked at Leticia with wide eyes.
“I see. So, this is the magic you said you wanted to try. It’s the same magic Tiara-sama used earlier on the shed where Seri lives, right?”
“That’s right, Onii-chan. I saw Tiara use it back then.”
“They really are as good as new…” said Cornelia, touching the wooden surface of the reinforcements.
“Did you do this spell all the way to the abandoned mine?”
They didn’t know what the total length of the tunnels in the entire mine was, but it seemed that the magic power was spread all over it. Not only that, but there was also wood from sixty years ago, though, that was the number of years the mine was abandoned, so there must have been decades or even centuries of old wood. Time was rewound until they were all as good as new.
And as a girl she flew alone letting out her magic power… Eliza looked at Leticia in amazement. Maybe she has learned to control her magic and really has no limits.
“Hey, and if you use that magic on me, would it make me young again~?”
“I don’t think that’s possible. This magic doesn’t seem to work on living beings.” That’s what she said to Lino’s question. Although it hadn’t been tried before, maybe it could be done.
More importantly… Leticia looked at her palms, What’s wrong? When I used magic before, something felt strange… She had the feeling that the magic, which spread like ripples created by dropping a drop on the surface of water, wasn’t transmitting well during the process. It was as if she had run into some kind of obstacle deep in the abandoned mine road.
“What’s the matter, Letty?” A little further on, at the fork at the end of the square, Wynn turned and looked at Leticia.
It seemed that everyone except Wynn and Leticia had already started to move forward.
“I’m sorry. It’s nothing.” With that, Leticia ran over to Wynn.
Was it my imagination? No, I’d better go over it later and tell everyone. Without letting these thoughts flash across her face, Leticia followed her friends who were walking ahead of her next to Wynn.
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