Chapter 235: From Exploration to Reunion
“Go straight there. Turn right at the end. At the second turn after that, turn left.”
“Loren, does she know about this place?”
Gula’s instructions were so specific and precise that it was not surprising at all when Klaus asked Loren such a question.
No one knew where they were headed, but as they proceeded under Gula’s directions, it was immediately clear that those directions were not baseless.
“How can that be? This place looks like some kind of ruin, doesn’t it?”
With walls made of magical building materials, it was natural to a.s.sume that this place was a ruin of the Ancient Kingdom, just as Loren had said. If someone had already uncovered this ruin before, there was no way that the beastmen, especially the Lords of the nearby towns, would not be aware of it. However, this would not be the case if the place had been raided illegally, so it was difficult to say for sure that this ruin was unexplored or not.
“Klaus, let me tell you something.”
Loren said, trying not to look at Klaus, who was walking at the back.
“Ruins usually have a specific internal structure depending on their purpose. Normally, you’ll be able to understand their inner structures after you’ve explored enough of them. Incomprehensible labyrinths are an exception, though.”
“Have your party explored that many ruins?”
“As a former mercenary, I didn’t travel to such places. But Gula is an experienced adventurer, and she had seen few of those.”
The first half of Loren’s explanation to Klaus was complete truth. The second half, however, was an outright lie, but such a half-true explanation seemed to have a certain amount of persuasive power.
“But where the h.e.l.l is she leading us to?”
“I’m not quite sure myself.”
He had considered asking Gula, but when he saw how grim her face was when she gave directions, somehow he felt less inclined to do so. He guessed that they were probably heading toward what could be called the central part of the ruin, but he could not find any explanation for Gula’s expression, which became grimmer the further they went.
“Take right at the next turn. Then keep going straight to… Ah, I knew it’s here.”
Towards the end, Gula’s voice was filled with such a dark, piercing-cold emotion that all of them unthinkingly looked at her. She did not seem to notice that she had unexpectedly become the center of everyone’s attention, and continued to stare at a point in front of her with a grim expression on her face.
Wondering what this all meant, Loren s.h.i.+fted his gaze to the double door Gula was staring at. It was just a lone, unadorned door set into a wall made from magical building material, but there was something beyond it that gave Gula such an expression.
“Gula, what’s on the other side of this door?”
As she was about to answer Loren’s question, Gula noticed that the attention of everyone was focused on her. She looked startled.
If she gave the wrong answer, her ident.i.ty would be revealed. But if she lied, she could cause discord within the group if it was discovered. Even if she were to lie, it was impossible to use the excuse that it was a hunch now that she had precisely guided the whole group through what appeared to be an Ancient Kingdom’s ruin.
As Gula wondered what to do, Lapis placed her hand on her forehead and shook her head as if to say this was hopeless, and Loren prayed that Gula would somehow come up with a good excuse.
“Th-This place is probably an important facility or something, don’t you think? I’ve explored similar ruins before, so I wondered if this one was built the same.”
“You seem to be an experienced adventurer, Gula. Where did you work before you joined Loren’s party?”
“What? E-erm I’m from the North. I was a wandering adventurer, I didn’t belong to any particular party.”
“You’re from the North, and you’re dressed like that?”
Ange stared at Gula’s outfit from top to bottom.
On this continent, there were places where temperature varied considerably depending on the area and season, but there were also places where it always remained almost the same. The northern regions were generally cooler than the southern ones, so Gula’s outfit, which was way too revealing no matter how one looked at it, could hardly be considered the outfit fitting the northman.
“Nah. I’m from the North, and I can’t stand the heat in the South, so I dress like this. I don’t like the heat.”
It was a far-fetched theory, but not so far-fetched that it made no sense. At least, Gula’s explanation seemed to have convinced Klaus’ group to some extent, and they did not ask anything further.
Relieved, Gula collected herself and put her hand on the door in front of her.
“I’ll open the door, then?”
Loren placed his hand on Gula’s shoulder and said. Klaus and the others recognized this as Loren being concerned about opening the door, but Gula sensed that there was another meaning in it. She patted the back of the hand Loren had placed on her shoulder to a.s.sure him that it was okay, then turned back to the door.
“Is it unlocked?”
“>. It’s open now.”
After answering Lapis’ question by using magic, Gula pushed open the double door. Peeking in, Loren let out a sound of surprise at the scene behind the door.
It was a large room. A white light, stronger than the light emitted by the magical building materials, was pouring down from the ceiling, illuminating the entire room. Several black shelves of unknown purpose lined the walls, and on the surfaces of some of them were rows after rows of letters, which Loren didn’t recognize, and numbers, s.h.i.+ning in various colors.
In the center of the room, seven coffin-like objects were placed in a circle. Several thick tubes connected the coffins to the black shelves, the walls, and the ceiling.
With Gula in the lead, the whole group entered the room. For a while, all they could do was look at the bizarre sight, but then Leila spoke.
“What is this…?”
Of course, no one answered, but Gula was the only one who silently approached one of the coffins and touched its surface with clenched teeth.
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“This looks like some kind of research facility.”
“Can’t you read what it says with the power of a priest of the G.o.d of Knowledge?”
Loren asked Lapis, who was staring at the nameplate with her face close to it. She replied without even looking at him.
“I can read it, more or less…”
“Incredible… So, what does it say…?”
By now, Loren was unable to tell whether the priests of the G.o.d of Knowledge or the demon tribe were incredible. But when he asked Lapis to read the nameplate, she turned to him with a very serious look on her face.
“Please don’t be surprised. This nameplate says ‘Luxuria Lecherity’.”
The words that Lapis uttered were incomprehensible to Klaus’ party. However, for Loren, they were words he had heard before, and with a feeling of disbelief in his heart, he involuntarily looked at Gula, who had a grim look on her face.
It was a name, but not of an ordinary person.
It was the name of one of the beings similar to Gula, beings that have existed since ancient times and call themselves Evil G.o.ds.
The name of the big, muscular man who was called the Evil G.o.d of l.u.s.t was Luxuria Lecherity.
“So, this is…”
Loren hurriedly swallowed down the words that were about to come out. It was because he worried that Klaus’ group would suddenly doubt Gula once he said it out loud. He was trying to be careful, since he couldn’t guess what kind of words would spark their interest in the topic.
As if to cover for Loren, a voice came from the entrance that they had used to enter this room.
“Get away from that coffin, you mongrels. It is not yours to touch.”
A familiar, arrogant voice. Of course, the memory it brought was not a good one at all.
Seeing Loren immediately ready his greatsword, Klaus’ group also decided that this was not an ordinary situation. Each of them readied their own weapons and took a stance against the owner of the voice.
“A bunch of mongrels from who knows where…. Huh, you? So we meet again.”
The guy wore jet-black armor and had long black hair. His skin was white, and his features were sharp. His bang was pulled back with a black metal hair clip, and in his hands he carried an ornate longsword and a black s.h.i.+eld.
“How unexpected. I’m pleased to see you again.”
“You… I don’t want to see you again.”
Loren spat. The one sneering at him was one who had stolen weapons from the Demon Kings in the demon territory and fought with Loren’s group in the process. It was the black swordsman Magna.
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