Chapter 0390 In the Basement…
The next morning.
The four of them left for the western city of Zephyrus.
“I heard at the inn when we were leaving earlier that yesterday’s karaage dish is called ‘New-sama’s cuisine’ and is one of the traditional dishes.”
Etho shared the information he had obtained.
New-sama is the one called the founder of the Western Church.
Ryo muttered involuntarily.
“But we’ve never come across it at the Mission quarters, have we?”
“Nope. I’ve eaten all the food options there, and they don’t have karaage.”
Amon asked, and Niels gave the perfect answer.
What could be more perfect than that?
“I kind of respect that about Niels…”
“Ah! You’re messing with me a little aren’t you, Ryo!”
Ryo said with a small shake of his head, and Niels realized that he had been made fun of.
Etho and Amon burst out laughing.
The four of them were lively again today.
The Zephyrus Church is located in the center of the western city of Zephyrus.
The fourth vault is located on its grounds.
“I think it’s about time the enemy attacked us, and we intercept them, take them prisoner, and make them talk and give up their stronghold… or something like that.”
“If only it could be that convenient…”
Niels denied Ryo’s cliché light novel-like development.
“Ryo likes that kind of thing, doesn’t he?”
“Like power trumps all, that kind of thing. I kind of admire it.”
Etho said with a wry smile, and Amon seemed to admire power… even though he was the most sensible person in ‘Room 10’.
On this day, the priest in charge of the Zephyrus Church was absent.
“Apologies. The priest has been in the Holy Capital since yesterday…”
Deacon Pilar, who was in charge in place of the priest, explained.
As usual, Etho showed him the Holy Seal and Cardinal Graham’s letter of authorization.
With that, Deacon Pilar led them to the fourth vault.
The inside was much larger than the second and third vaults.
However, it was not as large as the first vault.
In particular, the difference from the other three vaults was its robust structure.
“It’s got pretty sturdy-looking stone walls.”
“Yeah, it’s impressive. It looks more like a fortress than a vault.”
Ryo said, and Niels agreed.
Both inside and outside of the vaults were made of solid stones.
“As you say, there was a time when this vault was a fortress.”
“It was here that Saint Joshua holed up and fought against the army of the rebel Kozlov. The second and upper floors have been removed, but this first floor and the foundation are exactly as they were during that period.”
Deacon Pilar spoke passionately.
He seemed proud to be a deacon in the Zephyrus church where Saint Joshua originated.
Etho nodded broadly.
Because he could understand Deacon Pilar’s feelings very well.
Niels did not seem to get it, apparently.
“If Niels was told by Abel to ‘take care of this land’, you would be willing to die to protect it, wouldn’t you? That’s how it is.”
“I see! Now I understand.”
Ryo explained with a subtle analogy that may or may not be accurate… but it seemed to make sense to Niels.
“About a third of the shelves were knocked over and broken around here.”
Deacon Pilar said at the far end of the vault.
Of course, the shelves were now back in order and there was not a speck of dust on the floor…
“The floor stone here, has a crack.”
“Oh, yeah. The size of the new shelves is a little different from the old ones. You can now see the part that used to be under the shelves. We found a crack in part of it and were going to have it replaced. I believe that’s scheduled to happen this afternoon…”
Deacon Pilar nodded and responded to Ryo’s observation.
Cracks in floor stones are not uncommon.
But for some reason, it bothered Ryo.
He sent a ‘ping’ to the floor.
Basically, it hits the floor and bounces back…
(This sensation… there is a space underneath this?)
It was not that large a space, but more like a staircase leading down…
It was pretty vague and ambiguous, as he guessed by the feel of the reflections from the floor, not from the vapor directly.
(But the entrance isn’t on this floor, is it… usually somewhere on the wall?)
Ryo looked around.
It was Amon who noticed that.
“Ryo-san, is something the matter?”
Amon must have understood that Ryo was snooping around.
And so asked in a whisper.
“Amon, there may be a path, like a staircase under this building that leads to an even deeper basement.”
Amon was taken aback by Ryo’s words.
Amon then began looking around as well.
After looking around for a while, he must have noticed something.
He stared at the innermost wall and approached it.
At this time, Niels and Etho had also noticed that Amon and Ryo were acting differently from their usual selves.
But they instead continued chatting with Deacon Pilar to divert his attention.
Then Amon pushed one of the stones on the innermost wall.
A spiral staircase appeared in the wall.
Deacon Pilar was the most surprised to see it.
He was immensely surprised and stiffened.
It was a full minute before he moved again.
“Why is there a staircase there?”
“So Deacon Pilar wasn’t aware of it?”
“No. As shameful as that sounds, I don’t… In fact, this vault is usually only open to priests. Of course, in the absence of a priest, as is the case this time, I am left in charge of the church, so I sometimes come in here… I had no idea such a thing was here.”
Deacon Pilar replied, his eyes wide open.
“Well, may we go down?”
Ryo asked Deacon Pilar.
“Honestly, I really can’t make that decision… However, since you all have the Holy Seal and the authorization from His Eminence the Cardinal, I don’t think anyone has the authority to stop you… except His Holiness the Pope. So I think it’s okay to go down…”
Deacon Pilar answered thoughtfully.
In short, as long as the four of them insisted on going down there, it wouldn’t be a problem.
Niels made the judgment and gave the order.
“Me, Amon, Etho, and Ryo will go down in that order. Deacon Pilar, please wait here.”
Thus, the four of them descended to the basement by the stairs inside the vault that had suddenly appeared.
The ‘lamppost’ alchemy tools automatically turned on one after another as the four began to descend.
After descending for a while on the spiral staircase, it became a downhill slope from the middle.
Shaped like it just traverses the bottom of the vault from the back to the front.
It was this passage that Ryo sensed with his <Active Sonar>.
The passageway was two and a half meters wide and two and a half meters high, and both the floor and the surrounding area were made of hardened stone.
Above, there was the sound of heavy objects being moved.
Perhaps the door through which the four had entered had closed.
“We kind of came in because there was a passageway, but there’s a good chance it has nothing to do with our current investigation into the magicians and the Holy Sword.”
“I think so too.”
Niels nodded in agreement with Ryo’s point.
That said, at present, they had no leads whatsoever to go on.
So even if a spiral staircase to the basement appeared in front of them, unknown even to the cleric in charge of the place, they would still follow it down.
Because the four of them are adventurers.
They had walked quite a distance.
“We’re still going downhill all the way, so it must be pretty deep underground, right?”
Etho asked casually to no one in particular.
“I think the angle is about the same as that of a very steep road.”
If it’s a road that is very steep, there is a marker that would say ‘10%’.
In other words, if you go sideways for a hundred meters, you are going down ten meters….
If you go sideways one kilometer, you are one hundred meters below the ground, a great depth!
It was sudden.
When they thought the descent was over, they found themselves in a wide… no, a vast space.
Ryo first imagined the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel, which was built to save the metropolitan area of Japan from flood damage.
It’s a huge underground space that could be described as an underground temple.
The great depth, the vast space, and the surprisingly thick and high pillars erected in large numbers…
The space was probably more than 50 meters high up to the ceiling.
Sure enough, Ryo couldn’t contain himself completely.
It took him a few seconds later to calm down.
The result was a space that was more than 400 meters from the back wall.
With no sign of anybody.
The reason they could see just fine even though it was a large underground space was because of the ‘lamppost’ alchemy tools embedded in the pillars.
“Well, at least there’s no one here. And it’s about 400 meters to the back.”
“It’s pretty huge…”
Niels was astounded by Ryo’s report.
In the center of the space was a place where no pillars had been erected at all.
That area alone was quite large.
“There’s something written on the ground, I think?”
“…A magic circle?”
Amon pointed it out, and Ryo answered while tilting his head.
The reason he tilted his head was because if it was a magic circle, it was surprisingly huge.
It was drawn using the entire area where no pillars had been erected…
Roughly, more than 30 meters in diameter.
It was so large that they honestly didn’t know what it was depicting.
“If it’s a magic circle, then it must be alchemy. What do you think, Ryo?”
Niels turned to Ryo and asked.
Ryo, not needing to be asked, was also looking at it, but it’s just… too massive.
“I’m going to go take a look from above. <Water Jet Thruster>.”
With that, he floated up into the air.
“I saw it at the Battle of Gold Hill, but… it’s really amazing how a person can float in the sky.”
“I thought the magician from ‘Six Petals’ said that normally, magicians can’t fly.”
“Well… it’s Ryo after all.”
Niels was impressed, Amon dredged up memories, and Etho nodded his head in conclusion.
Ryo, who had risen nearly forty meters, looked down.
From that height, he could see the whole thing.
Clearing up the mystery.
(What an amazingly complex magic circle…)
Ryo, who knew it would not be easy, generated an ice platform and laid down on it.
Even though it was underground, the ice platform rose forty meters high.
Lying face down on it, he started to analyze the magic circle.
“Ryo-san just created a platform…”
“A forty-meter-high bed, perhaps… you don’t see that every day.”
“…It’s Ryo, after all.”
Amon was amazed, Etho marveled, and Niels gave up and accepted everything.
But all three realized.
Even Ryo, who loves alchemy, could not easily decipher the magic circle.
It was twenty minutes later when Ryo came down.
Etho greeted him with a smile.
The other two were doing push-ups and swinging swords… because, well, they are swordsmen.
Still, they gathered as Ryo came down.
“I think we hit the jackpot.”
Ryo stated furrowing his brows, and Etho tilted his head and asked.
“Yeah. This magic circle is probably the magic circle to be used for the so-called ‘Sacrifice’.”
Niels reacted to Ryo’s words with a burst of energy.
“You didn’t activate it, did you?”
“No, I didn’t. So nothing is going to happen to us here.”
Etho asked, Ryo answered, and Amon was relieved.
Magic circles do not manifest magical phenomena or generate magic unless activated by the flow of magic power.
“It’s pretty deep in here, isn’t it? How can a magic circle in a place like this have an effect above ground?”
Niels’ question was probably valid.
The site is at a depth of one or two hundred meters below the surface.
“Even if this place is 200 meters underground with hard bedrock in the way, it would still be possible to generate magic that would affect the surface. Since it’s set up in a way that the magic power for activation would come from somewhere else. And since the role of this magic circle is to absorb fragments of God… if these fragments of God are permeable to the ground, there should be no problem.”
The Super-Kamiokande or KamLAND in Japan is located 1,000 meters underground.
This is a device that detects neutrinos and other particles that come down to Earth from space.
Since even things like neutrinos which are extremely small but have mass, can reach as far as 1,000 meters underground, it seems to Ryo that something as seemingly massless as fragments of God, which he perceives as spiritual, could easily reach a depth of about 200 meters underground…
“What do we do? Should we destroy this magic circle while at it?”
Niels suggested with a frown.
“But there’s still more than ten days until the inauguration… so if they realize it’s been destroyed, they’ll think of something else, won’t they?”
Etho expressed concern.
“It’s hard to prepare for a move you can’t see. It’s easier to let the enemy show its hand and match your attack to it.”
Amon recited a parable of the art of warfare… how fearsome.
“How about tampering with it in a way that they won’t notice it? Since there is a possibility that they might find out about it, we’ll try and avoid ‘Sacrifice’ on the surface as much as possible, but I think it would be better to double or even triple our measures just in case.”
Ryo nodded and concluded.
“Can you pull it off?”
“I have to admit that I don’t understand everything about this magic circle. There are many parts in the process that I don’t understand at all… like magic formulas, magic circles change drastically depending on the creator, too. However, as with anything, there are some common parts. I’ll try to make it undetectable, somehow.”
Niels asked, and Ryo replied.
Ryo approached the magic circle.
“Activation point… branching point… chain formula…. I’ll probably do a test activation… so I’ll use the loop mechanism here…”
He mumbled something like that as he walked around the magic circle.
“We came looking for the magicians and Holy Sword, only to happen upon a magic circle…”
“Should we consider ourselves lucky or unlucky…”
Niels said, and Etho replied.
Amon was wracking his head all by his lonesome.
“What is it, Amon?”
“Nah… just this seems like such a very important place, but there’s no one guarding it, so I was wondering why.”
Niels nodded in agreement to Amon’s question.
“Maybe… the one who created it fundamentally doesn’t place trust in others.”
Etho replied, looking at the magic circle.
“Doesn’t place trust?”
Niels and Amon tilted their heads and asked.
“The magic circle itself can be created by a single person, though it would take a long time. Even with its size. And once it is created, all he has to do is channel magic power to it somehow to activate it. He doesn’t need to man anyone there. Not like it can just up and leave on its own, nor can it be stolen. So no need to keep an eye on it. Rather, I think he may have been more concerned of the watcher betraying him or slipping up somewhere… that must have been their train of thought.”
Amon nodded in agreement with Etho’s reasoning.
“It’s kind of sad not to have friends you can trust with all your heart.”
At Niels’ muttering, Etho and Amon nodded.
“Now, this is the magic circle to be attached. The activation will be automatic in conjunction with the activation of the main magic circle… but I need to keep this magic circle in this same space~”
Ryo muttered and looked around.
The main power comes from an outlet, but some machines have small button batteries built in to keep the memory even when they’re unplugged… he was looking for something that could serve as a button battery.
“If it were a forest or something, I could just drop the magic stone anywhere amid the grass, but on this floor, even a small magic stone stands out…”
He looked around some more and found something good.
The ‘lamppost’ alchemy tools attached to the pillars.
“Bingo. I’ll draw the magic power from the tool to maintain it.”
Ryo said, and the other three gathered around.
“You’re really done? ”
“Uh? But there’s nothing… here?”
“Apart from the initial gigantic magic circle… that is.”
Amon was delighted, Etho tilted his head, and Niels was lost.
“Obviously. If I make it so they can see it, they might destroy it… though, I’m not sure if they can destroy it or not.”
Niels also tilted his head at Ryo’s words.
“I drew a magic circle with the water vapor in the air… which is a little bit minuscule and floats around here. It’s a variant of the <Dynamic Steam Mine>. When magic flows into the massive magic circle, it reacts like <Dynamic Steam Mine> and traces out my magic circle in the air. Before the core part of the main magic circle is activated, the magic power continues to loop endlessly in my magic circle. With it, the crucial central part will not be activated!”
What Ryo envisioned was an infinite loop, which he often used in computer programming.
Well, he shouldn’t do it often, but… yeah, some things just can’t be helped.
“I don’t quite follow… but in other words, this magic circle won’t activate, right?”
“Part of it will activate, but the last crucial part won’t.”
Ryo nodded in reply to Niels’ question.
“Good, now, let’s get out of here.”
And so the four of them went back the way they came…