Chapter 43: In a certain underground space.
Ren ran frantically.
Fiona, still on his back, was still in a coma, and her restless breathing was getting worse.
On the way, I gave her a mouthful of the potion I’d brought with me, but there was no improvement at all.
If it were possible, I’d have stopped to check her condition.
But the flames and lava around us didn’t allow it.
The flames and lava seemed to be aiming at Ren and Fiona.
This reminded Ren of the flames on the suspension bridge.
He kept moving his legs as hard as he could. He was already exhausted, so he whipped his body to keep it from being engulfed by the flames.
“Damn… hah…. hah…… hah……!”
I almost wobbled from time to time.
But I pretended not to notice and gritted my teeth for more than ten minutes.
There was no other way.
Everywhere I went was engulfed in flames and lava, and there was no escape route left for us.
(There was no other place to go but there……)
I wondered many times whether I should go there under such circumstances.
After all, “there” was a hidden map in the Baldor Mountains. But there was really no other way to go there, and if we were not careful, we would be engulfed by flames from the front and back.
I wouldn’t have planned to go there if I wasn’t in this situation, but this would have been —-.
(No! We have to go. We don’t have a choice—-!)
In the end, there was no time to hesitate.
With the flames and lava raging ahead, I was convinced that there was no other escape.
Fortunately, the path to the hidden map was not far.
Ren gathered all his strength and desperately searched for the path through the overly transformed landscape, and while gasping for breath, he put more strength into his legs.
Fiona’s voice was faint as she called out to him, who, despite his unsettled breathing, encouraged her by saying, “We’ll be down the mountain soon.”
Fiona repeated her apology painfully. Her voice, repeated over and over like a croak, stopped at some point because she had fainted again.
I will save her. Ren, determined to do so, readied his iron magic sword.
With the lava flow approaching right behind him, he kept running as fast as he could.
However, something happened that seemed to mock Ren.
A strong headache rushed into his head, and a sound that he thought was someone’s voice echoed through his brain.
At the same time, the necklace of demon destroying magic that adorns Fiona’s neck shatters.
“Just now…. That voice was–!”
The voice wasn’t recognizable as male or female.
I couldn’t quite understand what the person was talking about.
What is this?
Ren was moving his legs, trying not to let go of Fiona while enduring a headache.
When he heard the same voice again, he was hit with a headache unparalleled to the one he had just experienced.
Unable to resist, Ren fell knees first into the snow, casting his eyes down.
That’s when it happened.
Fiona, who was on his back, was hit by a red wind, and her body was lifted into the air.
The red wind is immediately enveloped in a creeping flame that envelops Fiona and carries her forward.
“Damn …… what the……!”
But Ren, too, showed his willpower.
He was able to get up a little later by moving his body as hard as he could. The headache gradually began to subside as Fiona moved away.
Just before the oncoming lava flow reached his feet, he started running again.
He moved his legs as hard as he could in pursuit of Fiona, who was being taken away.
(This road is ……)
Was it a coincidence? This path was the same as the one Ren was planning to take.
While following Fiona, Ren wondered, and then he realized.
After a short distance, a huge rock that should have been there was shattered.
The path to the hidden map that Ren knew was supposed to be at the end of the shattered boulder, but the path was already exposed.
◇ ◇ ◇ ◇
In the game days, he was able to advance by confirming the huge rock.
“There seems to be something in the back. Do you want to destroy it? Yes/No.”
There were two responses from the players.
Either they would snicker and wonder what the system message was suddenly saying, or they would be surprised at the discovery of a hidden element.
Ren remembers having both of these reactions at the same time.
There was no light on the stone staircase that reminded him of the term “old ruins,” but the light reaching from the end of the staircase illuminated the path slightly.
Ren steps into it without hesitation.
The thought of leaving Fiona here and running away didn’t occur to him even for a moment.
In the first place, there was no way to escape…….
Ren hurried down the stone steps and gasped at the fantastic view that soon came into his sight.
The sound of Ren’s footsteps reverberated through the air, and the mineral space that followed his footsteps was shining and twinkling like ripples on the water.
The way the light sometimes flew away to somewhere else was like a broom star.
The multicolored lights of azure, purple, and crimson reminded him of a beauty he’d never seen before.
The name of this place is called Chikamichi, the underpass of the star agate Hoshimenou.
As the mineral agate is named after, striped marbles are scattered throughout the area. There, the cave has a spectacular view that reminds one of the stars in the sky.
(If it weren’t for the game-like specifications, it would have been easy to find gold.)
Star agate is not a gemstone with special powers, but is considered rare only because of its beauty.
It’s so rare that the way it’s made is the subject of research by researchers, and it filled the walls, floor, and ceiling of the area.
Ren ran through the cave, not stopping for a moment.
When he finally reached the end of the cave, he finally stopped.
What he found at the end of the cave was a huge subterranean space that extended far down to the bottom of the cave. The space was large enough to contain the village where Ren was born, and from the lowest level to where he was, it seemed to be twice as wide as the crack in the earth in the eastern forest.
The space here, too, is covered with star agate, from the floor to the walls.
The size of the space is incomparable to the previous ones, and it even gives the illusion that I’ve jumped into space.
(—- What is that?)
In the center of the lowest level of the ground, there was something that shouldn’t have been there.
The cluster was so large that it was several times the height of Ren and Fiona combined.
Fiona, who had been taken away, was inside the cluster.
She was completely unconscious, but there was no damage from the red wind or flames that had engulfed her, and not a single scorched spot on her clothes.
The star agate floor was as shiny as a lake in the middle of winter, with a combined crimson glow beneath it.
The crimson light was absorbed by the group crystal and filled the group crystal.
It should be alarming.
Up to this point, Ren had never stopped suspecting the involvement of a certain legendary being, but here he was, showing no signs of fear and exercising his nature magic without any confusion.
Having quickly descended to the lowest level, using the ivy as a foothold, Ren turned his attention to the crystal group.
Ren’s brow furrowed, and suddenly, in his ear, he heard.
『…… kruu. 』
The voice of a monster came from the ground beside him. It was the voice of a steel-eating gargoyle that always appears, just as Ren remembered before.
The individual was smaller than the one Ren had defeated earlier. It was probably still young.
However, the steel-eating gargoyle was in a strange state. Its metal skin seems to have melted as if it had been burnt, and it’s looking at Ren helplessly as it slumps to the ground.
No doubt, he’s dying.
Fiona wasn’t burned, but this monster seems to have been attacked by flames.
“Kuru… Ruu… Tsu! 』
In front of the repeated threats that kept him out of breath, Ren felt his chest tighten.
A painful sight. A faint cry. If you look closely, you can see that the steel-eating gargoyle is wetting the ground, dripping with bodily fluids, but Ren says nothing and points his iron sword at it.
The steel-eating gargoyle looked at it and for a moment and squealed, “Gah!
But then, it immediately turned its eyes down.
The rough breathing leaking from its beak turned white with cold, and it wished to be free from the pain it was experiencing.
That shook Ren’s heart even more.
Ren had no way to save the steel-eating gargoyle.
The steel-eating gargoyle was in pain, and he couldn’t use his healing magic, but he couldn’t let it go.
When the iron sword pierced the steel-eating gargoyle’s chest, the steel-eating gargoyle’s breathing stopped for a moment. It’s last look showed relief and gratitude at being freed from pain.
[Job] Eldest son of the Ashton family
[Skill] ・Summoning Magic Sword (Level 1: 0/0)
Summoning Magic Sword (Level 3: 1899/2000)
Level 1: Able to summon [one] magic sword.
Level 2: While summoning a magic sword, the user gains the effect of [Physical Ability UP (Small)].
Level 3: Summons 【Two swords】.
Level 4: Gain [Physical Ability UP (Medium)] while summoning a magic sword.
Level 5: ＊＊＊＊＊＊＊＊＊＊＊＊＊＊＊＊＊＊＊＊＊.
- Magic Sword of Wood (Level 2: 1000/1000)
- Enables attacks of about the same level as natural magic (small).
- The range of attack effect expands as the level increases.
Iron Sword (Level 2: 1652/2500)
- The sword’s sharpness increases as its level increases.
Thieves’ Magic Sword (Level 1: 0/3)
- The sword randomly steals items from the target with a certain probability.
Shield Sword (Level 2: 0/2)
- Places a barrier of magical power around the attacker. The effect increases with the level of the sword.
- The range of effect can be extended
It was after touching the steel-eating gargoyle after interceding.
The proficiency that flowed into Ren’s bracelet from that magic stone had raised the level of the shield’s magic sword.
But Ren’s mood didn’t improve.
“Now, I’ll help you.”
Ren pushed himself to his heavy feet and turned his attention to the crystal cluster where Fiona was.
『I’ve been waiting for —- you』
He heard a voice.
Ren was on his way to the crystal cluster.
The crystal cluster blinked red in response to the voice.
An intense pressure he had never felt before filled the underground space, sewing Ren’s feet to the ground without his awareness.
His whole body trembled involuntarily, his whole body sweating profusely.
There’s no doubt. I’m going to die.
A voice from the depths of his heart kept calling out to him, making Ren’s breathing extremely erratic.
『I have called out many times for this black girl who has awakened my power to come to me.』
Ren immediately recognized the voice, though he didn’t know whose it was. It was hard not to recognize the voice, considering the last moments of Kai and Maidas, as well as his imagination on the suspension bridge.
Ren listened to the sound of his heart beating so loudly that it bothered him, and he understood his own helplessness in the face of a mere voice.
“I can’t think of anything else. I don’t know why I’m here, who I am—- and all that.”
I’d never seen Asval in person, even in the game, but it was natural to think this way when I thought back to the flames outside.
Perhaps that group of crystals is Asval’s magic stone.
The magic stone of Asval must have been here from the beginning.
Ren deduced that Marquis Ignat had discovered the existence of the Star Agate underground passageway, learned that this was part of a dormant volcano, and brought Asval’s magic stone outside.
(…… I see. it connects.)
After all, it seems that Asval’s magic power had been stirring in the Baldor Mountains after the commotion at the suspension bridge.
The flames created by Asval’s magic awakened a dormant volcano and changed the situation in the Baldor Mountains.
All of this began with the power of a girl named Fiona. It’s now clear that Asval’s power was also the reason for Fiona’s repeated physical changes.
For Maidas and Kai, this was the end of all their plans.
All that was left was to find out the true nature of Fiona’s power.
It’s definitely a unique skill, given that only one girl has had such an impact on the legendary dragon, without any resurrection rituals.
I’d very much like to hear what it is.
Ren mustered up the courage to do so.
He was determined to get her out of the Baldor Mountains with him.
“—- You are the Red Dragon, Asvar. You’re a proud dragon.”
Ren spoke in a trembling voice, feeling sorry for himself.
“…… Oh. I’m Asval…… the proud leader of the fire dragons and a battle hungry-one.”
Asval’s voice rang out in a torrent of sound.
Each time the echoing voice shook the sky and his body, Ren breathed, “Hah……. hah……”
“Yes….. I must fight….. to kill the evil demon king and wait for more powerful men……”
As soon as Asval’s voice changed, something unusual happened in the area.
The star agate underpass began to shake.
A blinding red light filled the magic stone, and with a dull thud, a group of crystals floated in the air.
“Wait! The Demon King is already dead! Loren, the brave hero who defeated you, defeated the Demon King as well!”
“Don’t talk nonsense….., I’m not dead! The fact that I exist here is proof of that—-』
No. Perhaps because of the special circumstances, Asval wouldn’t listen to me.
Undead are said to have lower intelligence and power compared to when they were alive, but I didn’t expect to be tormented by it here.
(At this rate —-.)
It’ll manifest itself with Fiona’s special powers.
Red light begins to leak out from Asval’s magic stone at the tip of Ren’s outstretched hand.
A dazzle covers the eyes. The instinctive fear that arouses from the depths of the body.
Ren was impatient and in an attempt to shatter the magic stone before it could revive, he peeled off his feet, which were stuck to the ground in fear, and flew, letting his physical abilities take over.
But he was repelled.
The red wind and red light didn’t pull him in, but instead bounced him off the wall with great force.
While using the iron magic sword as a staff, he broke out in a cold sweat.
(…… what the hell is going on, really)
Too many things have happened since he came to the Baldor Mountains.
The duo who tried to kill Fiona in order to run down Marquis Ignat. The same thing happened with the attempt to kill Ren in order to undermine the Clausel family.
But they failed to successfully go through with it.
It was all due to the irregular power of Fiona Ignat’s existence.
It was too unrealistic to think that Asval would be resurrected by that power again. —-
『I must go and kill the Demon King.』
But everything unfolding before my eyes is real.
Every single silhouette I see behind the light is real.
『—- Weak one, if you stand in my way, you will not be able to escape. If you disturb me, do not forget it.』
The four-legged figure moved as if dancing, its long neck and tail dancing with the joy of resurrection.
At the point of his raised sickle neck, the fire spewed from his mouth struck the star agate walls and floor, melting them in the blink of an eye.
The underground space, which was already vast, doubled in size, and then expanded even further.
The scene was like a military stage built inside a huge volcano.
The ground was also melted by the molten star agate, and many of the footholds were covered with lava. In some places, the flames had created holes in the ground, and lava was pouring out of the holes without end.
Soon, when the bright red light faded, a red dragon appeared a distance away from Ren.
The red dragon’s eyes pierced him from a distance.
“The king of flames is in front of you. Know that this body cannot be consumed without a fire superior to mine…”
More majestic than a lion standing alone in the wilderness, Asval’s presence was enhanced by the red light on his body and the lava in the area.
The crimson scales covering his four-legged body were peeling off in places, and the flesh behind them was rotting away.
One of its powerful eyes had lost its color and was nearly crushed. Even the tail was shredded from the middle, and both wings were wide open, with numerous holes in the wing membranes.
Asval had definitely descended into this world as an undead creature.
No ritual was required, using only Fiona’s power and presence as a medium.
In Asval’s chest, in a slightly exposed jewel.
The figure of Fiona, still holding her body and floating with her back rounded, was there.
I really had to get her back.
“Listen to me, please.”
Ren spoke, thinking it was impossible, but unable to give up.
No longer in a weak tone of voice, as if he were clinging to her.
Deep down, he was ready for what was to come.
“I’m Ren Ashton. I am the son of a knight in the service of the lord of this land. Please listen to my words!”
When I got to this point, I thought it would be a lie to the contrary to listen to me.
But Asval suddenly stopped flapping his wings.
A voice filled with questions emanated from his mouth as flames leaked from the edges.
“Why….. it sounds strangely nostalgic.”
“…… Eh? You know my family name….?”
“Nothing comes to mind…… but…”
Asval, for some reason, was enraged.
He shook the world, storing flames in his mouth without being able to recall much of anything.
Supporting his huge frame on all four legs, he arched his long neck in a wide arch.
The two horns on his head —- one showed no reaction, perhaps because one was broken, but the other glowed with a red light.
“I don’t like it. I don’t like it when a weakling like you speaks that name!”
He twists his head and exhales a breath of flame. In this space reminiscent of the inside of a volcano, a flame that surpasses human knowledge, that surpasses the heat of the volcano, crawls through the air.
The fire spreading in the shape of a fan quickly approached Ren’s eyes.