Chapter 89 is here, and it’s a pretty long one! So kudos to Fordoom who did in an excellent job as always despite that 😀 By the way, I’ll be posting chapter on Sunday from now on, ’cause it fits my new College schedule better, sorry about that ><
For the Patrons, chapter 90 and its preview are available here.
Anyway, here’s the chapter, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Almost at the same moment as the robed man spoke up, tentacles, that were shaped like ropes yet supple like whips, came out from the sphere and rushed towards Hugo and the others.
Hugo promptly drew out the halberd that was hanging on his back, and fought back. He repelled the first one and cut the second one. However, he was unable to deal with the third one, and it entwined around his left ankle, pulling him down. Then, he was lifted upside down and left hanging in midair.
Even if he fell to the ground, he would suffer little to no damage since he was merely hanging upside down, but even so, he had been deprived of his freedom, so he couldn’t help getting impatient. It was possible for him to try to unbind himself using his halberd, however, in this unstable position; he could mistakenly cut his foot off. At the time Hugo was hesitating about what to do, he suddenly started free falling.
He let out a groan as his body heavily hit the ground, but he still hurriedly opened the distance between him and the sphere. Then, the robed man went ahead to take Hugo’s place. While perfectly handling the assault of the tentacles that were attacking him with irregular movements, the man spoke up.
【”Hey, bastards, take that damn thing and get out of the ruins!”】
That instruction was directed at the two baggage holders. There was a thin, straight sword stuck in the wall right next to them.
That sword was probably the object that had been inside the treasure chest. The robed man had thrown it forward, sending it to those people, and making it cut the tentacles that were restraining Hugo on the way. That was likely in order to avoid dragging the two baggage carriers, who were his companions, into the fight.
Following the man’s instructions, the duo pulled out the sword from the wall and walked back outside of the room. The sphere tried to follow them, but the robed man stood in front of it, blocking its way. Hugo, who was standing right by his side, spoke to him.
【”Hey, let’s escape, too!”】
【”This thing is a watchdog. It will chase after us to take back the treasure that’s been snatched away from it.”】
【”How is this thing a dog? Dogs are supposed to be cute, man! Anyway, I’m telling you, we’ll be just fine if we run away!”】
【”Yeah, you’re right, we would probably be able to escape. The two of us, that is.”】
Hugo could not say anything against the words of the robed man who was focused on the enemy in front of him. That was because Hugo was able to understand that the man, that he himself had called a tyrant, was trying to hold back this machine-like monster here in order to avoid getting his companions mixed up into this, as well as any other adventurers that might have still been in the ruins.
Since Hugo had made the spiral moles fall into a state of agitation, the other adventurers who were exploring the ruins should have gone above ground, having perceived the accident. However, what if some of them had to stay in the ruins for some reason, or what if they had simply not perceived the accident in the first place? What would happen to them after encountering this monster?
That would not end well, no matter how Hugo thought about it. So, killing the monster right here was the best course of action.
Upon the sudden appearance of such a bizarre monster, how many people could stay this calm, and yet still be able to assess the situation like that, without minding the danger? That alone was enough to understand that the robed man had been through many battles and scenes of carnage.
Thinking back upon it, given his personality, the robed man should have chosen to escape, using Hugo as a sacrifice. In that scenario, Hugo would likely have put up as much resistance as he possibly could so as to protect his own life. He would have been the perfect sacrificial pawn to earn some time.
Yet, the man had protected him without any hesitation, and now he was brandishing his sword so that his companions and some other adventurers he did not even know, would not be exposed to danger.
This man was a selfish and arrogant tyrant who did not know the meaning of fear. But perhaps he was also a compassionate person.
【”… Oh, I see. In other words, if we kill this thing, it will solve everything.”】
【”What? We? You’re going to stay, too?”】
【”I am not a coward who would escape and leave you here by yourself!”】
【”Just know that I won’t help you next time.”】
【”I would have been able to ward it off better at that time if you had just spoken louder! What was with that barely tense “It’s coming”? Was that your impression of some small bird’s chirping?!”】
【”Don’t blame me, you’re the one who’s always being noisy, going “cui cui cui” like a damn magpie. Plus it looked like you wouldn’t manage to ward off anything if I didn’t intervene. So it doesn’t seem like there was any flaw in my logic to me.”】
【”Shut up, idiot!”】
As the two of them were having that violent exchange of words, an equally violent battle was unfolding. Because of the monster’s massive body, its tentacles’ attacks were quite heavy, but accordingly, the sphere itself had no speed to speak of. However, its tentacles were moving at high speeds and covering it, therefore allowing it to attack and defend at will.
To make matters worse, even when some of the tentacles were cut off, other ones would come forth from the sphere’s body, one after the other. A few attacks did land on its main body, but due to its thick outer shell, none of the hits ended up being decisive blows. It had already completely repelled dozens of attacks so far.
【”Damn it! There is no end to them!”】
【”Are you gonna complain after declaring oh-so-dramatically that you’d stay?”】
【”Dramatically?! When the hell did I do that?! Check your ears, they’re not working!”】
Provoked by the robed man, Hugo furiously answered back.
Hugo certainly did not have a hint of a strategy, but there was no sense of impatience from him. The main reason for this was that the fight was easy.
Of course, that did not mean that the enemy was easy to deal with. The battle felt easy to Hugo because he was fighting alongside the robed man.
Whenever Hugo’s moves were lacking, the man intervened. He was skillfully covering the gaps in Hugo’s defense. It was like he had a perfect understanding of Hugo’s timing and fighting style, as he absolutely never trespassed within the range that Hugo’s attacks could reach.
On the contrary, when Hugo would use his somewhat rash special attacks to destroy the enemy’s defense and to kill its rising momentum, the robed man would sometimes instruct him, saying【”Duck!”】or【”Jump back!”】. A very short instant after Hugo would follow those directions; an attack would come from his blind spot, completely out of his notice, and would cut the empty space where he previously was.
That meant that the robed man had completely seen through the enemy’s attacks and timing. Hugo could not even imagine how much piled up experience it had taken the man to reach this level of skill.
However, said man was on Hugo’s side. There was nothing more reassuring than this, however…
【”No way around it. I’ll settle this fight right quick with my special move!”】
Hugo shouted in order to encourage himself. By this time, he was able to perceive what the robed man was actually waiting for.
He was trying to probe Hugo’s strength. If he was thinking of beating that monster, he would likely have been able to easily crush it. However, he did not do so, and Hugo could not think of any other meaning regarding why the robed man kept on supporting him.
Hugo did not understand what the robed man’s goal was, but if he wanted to see his power, then he was going to show him.
【”I’ll leave it to you to cover me!”】
【”You’ve got some guts to boss me around.”】
Although he said that, the man guarded Hugo, acting as his shield, so that no attacks would reach him. Meanwhile, Hugo had stayed on the spot, and was raising his concentration.
“He’s one reliable fellow” thought Hugo, as the corner of his mouth went up. Today was the two people’s first encounter, they had met merely a few hours prior to this, and yet Hugo did not feel the slightest uneasiness as he fought alongside the robed man. Even Hugo himself felt that that thought was strange, but still, it did not feel bad at all.
Then, the moment Hugo’s concentration reached its peak; the robed man’s sword cut all of the monster’s present tentacles right off, leading to the appearance of a path that went straight towards the enemy. Hugo ran right past the robed man, and as all of his body’s muscles swelled to their limit, he gripped his halberd with both of his hands and swung it downward using all his power.
【『Gozan Aranami』!!】(Great slash of the raging waves)
At that moment, following a slash, a shock wave ran through the earth. The way it amplified its strength and dug out the ground while drawing closer and closer to the enemy, was exactly like a gigantic raging wave, rampaging in the middle of a sea storm.
Unable to defend or to dodge, the spherical monster was not able to resist after taking a direct hit from Hugo’s special move; on the contrary, it was overwhelmed, like a small boat being sunk down by a big wave.
【”Haah, just how long is it gonna take to reach the exit…?”】
【”If you’ve got the leisure for pointless chatter, then walk faster.”】
It had been a while since the monster, which the robed man had referred to as a watchdog, had been crushed. There was no reason to stay on site any further, so the duo was quietly walking towards the exit above ground. But whenever Hugo let any idle complaint escape from his mouth along the way, he would receive a strict order from the robed man.
Well, despite everything that had transpired, Hugo had survived and was now able to come back all the way here; however, he still had some unanswered questions. As Hugo’s thoughts came to that, he decided to directly ask the man.
【”Why did you leave the monster from earlier to me? I think it would have been easier to win if you fought it.”】
【”Oh, that? Heh.”】
The robed man condescendingly scoffed at Hugo’s question.
【”It was a warning for you, bastard. If you learned anything through this experience, then you just might stop exploring the ruins recklessly.”】
“I see”, said Hugo to himself, consenting to the robed man’s words.
He had acted against the established rules of exploring ruins and had been on the verge of death after agitating the spiral moles. Not only had that exposed the other adventurers to danger, but if someone other than Hugo perished because of his actions, it would be impossible for him to ever repent.
That was likely what the robed man was warning him about.
【”Right, I’ll keep that engraved in my mind.”】
【”May I ask one more thing?”】
【”You’re no adventurer, are you? So why did you come to the ruins?”】
【”…What makes you think I’m not an adventurer?”】
【”You know way too little about exploring ruins. And you didn’t really show interest in any treasure or item, excluding the sword that you took in the end. Rather, was that sword your actual goal?”】
If that was the case, then that would mean the robed man had entered the ruins knowing full well that the sword would be there, and that was what Hugo was curious about.
After staying silent for a while, the man forced some words out of his mouth.
【”Do you know about what people refer to as the “treasured objects”?”】
【”Well, I’ve heard the legends but… wait, don’t tell me that…”】
【”The sword from earlier is one of them.”】
【”No way! The treasured objects are just a fantasy, aren’t they?”】
【”If that’s what you want to believe, suit yourself.”】
The robed man strongly affirmed that the treasured object was the real deal. As for Hugo, he was overpowered by that atmosphere and found himself at a loss for words.
On one hand he believed this was unbelievable, but on the other hand, considering how peculiar the robed man was, Hugo could accept that this was the real deal. The man’s strength was completely abnormal, he had knowledge about the ancient civilizations, and his companions could hardly be described as normal either. The exploration of ruins was an open door to opportunities, and from times immemorial, there had been teams that were formed for the sole purpose of obtaining the treasured objects that could be waiting in the depths of the world’s numerous ruins. Thinking of that, Hugo did not find it strange for the robed man’s group to be focused solely on that goal.
【”Right now, there are people who are digging up treasured objects from all over the continent. As for the treasured objects that are already owned by others, those people would just steal them.”】
【”It’s fine if they discover them in ruins, but if they actually steal them, that’s another story.”】
【”The theft and whatnot don’t matter at all. The problem is, what are those people trying to do by collecting the treasured objects?”】
【”Aren’t they selling them to collectors in exchange for gold?”】
【”…It would be nice if that was all there is to it.”】
【”You’re speaking in riddles right now. So, in the end, the reason you’re looking for the treasured objects is so that those people won’t get their hands on them?”】
【”Something like that. By the way, I heard that they are actually a trio of black-robed people who do not speak a single word.”】
【”Oh, I see…. Wait, that’s you guys!”】
Hugo jumped back and took some distance.
As for the robed man, he just smirked, as if mocking that reaction.
【”This operation was a success. With this, word of a “black robed trio” will spread, even though we’re not actually them.”】
【”…That’s your aim? Seriously, you scared me there.”】
As he realized the man was simply making fun of him, Hugo calmed down.
If this man was really one of those thieves, he would not go out of his way to talk about them to Hugo, who didn’t even know they existed. On the contrary, guessing from his words and behavior, the man might have been impersonating the criminals so as to make their actions known. If the day’s matter were to spread, it would reach a point where the three black robed people would catch the attention of not only the adventurers, but also of the town’s people. That would surely make things difficult for the actual criminals. In a word, the robed man and his companions’ ulterior motive were to put the blame of their own actions on the thieves. Their method was slow but not ineffective.
Moreover, when thinking about it, the two people from earlier, who were said not to have the faculty of language, were merely imitating their thieves counterparts. After all, Hugo did not believe that people who were not able to communicate at all were that common.
Rather than that, what Hugo could not tell was, why was this man doing such a thing? But when he thought of asking about that, he was the one who ended being questioned by the robed man this time.
【”Say, why does a moron like you bother exploring ruins?”】
【”I’m hoping to find a treasure and strike it rich.”】
【”So you’re motivated by greed, huh.”】
【”Of course I am. I’m an adventurer after all.”】
Hugo answered to the man’s cynicism with a dynamic Laugh.
In the present era, becoming an adventurer could hardly be said to be a decent path to take. Those who took on that work would certainly be able to live without working for the rest of their lives if they were able to discover a valuable enough treasure, but even saying that only a handful of adventurers could live such lives could be taken as an overstatement. Not to say that the probability of it happening was nonexistent, but that kind of turn of events was still close to impossible.
Many people looked down on adventurers as being idiots for risking their lives for the sake of such a ridiculously small possibility, and even the adventurers themselves were aware that what they were doing was stupid.
Their job exposed them to as much danger as someone who belonged to the knight order or the army, but unlike those people, who protected the country and nation, an adventurer’s death was not honorable. They’d either become food for monsters, get caught in a trap within ruins, or they would be met with an accident, such as sliding from a slope or being hit by falling rocks. There were various causes of death for them, but each one of those was just the result of their own mistakes, for they were aware of the danger of their profession and yet they still faced it.
Some scholars did explore the ruins from a historical point of view, so as to study the ancient civilizations that were said to have ruled over the continent in the past, but those people comprised less than a thousandth of all the adventurers. Also, in the first place, they couldn’t be said to be adventurers in the true sense of the term.
Consequently, even though children who dreamed of belonging to the knight order or the military were backed up by their parents, it was not uncommon for the ones who would start speaking of becoming adventurers to be stopped and punished with a punch so as to change their idea. At least, that was the case for Hugo. He still remembered the pain from being hit by his father’s fist.
【”But then, why are you idling away here?”】
【”What do you mean?”】
【”The Cadiz ruins. That’s where you’d find what you’re looking for, moron.”】
Go there, is what the man was actually saying.
The Cadiz ruins were not big by any means; moreover, Hugo had heard that they had already been fully explored. He had once been there too, but there was nothing special or worth of mention in them.
However, if there was a hidden mechanism there like in the Haibar ruins, then it still had more depths to explore. What if there were some actual treasures and items there? This was an advice from a man who knew the location of a treasured object after all. It was impossible for Hugo to not be curious.
However, why had this man given information like that to him? Far from being owed anything by the man, Hugo was the one who was indebted to him, so he wondered what this favor was about.
【”Say, why are you…”】
【”Hey, you two! Hurry and get out!”】
As Hugo was about to ask a question, a strict and almost angry voice came at him. Looking past the robed man’s back, there was another man who was shouting towards this tunnel that lead to the dome shaped room where the spiral moles’ corpses were piled together.
Before Hugo even noticed it, it seemed like he had already come back here. Outside the tunnel, only half of the spiral moles corpses were left, though their blood was still there.
The accident in the ruins had probably been reported to the adventurers who were at the base of the mountain, and they were likely all working together on damage control. Normally, Hugo should have been the one to take the initiative to do this work, so he was itching more and more to apologize.
But, above all else, there was something Hugo had to confirm.
【”Has anyone come out injured or dead?”】
【”There are some wounded people, but none of them was seriously injured. Looking at the name on the list, you were the last ones left inside.”】
When exploring ruins, it was mandatory to put one’s name in a certain search list beforehand. That way, the list could be checked out when there was an emergency like the current one and when someone did not return.
While he did think that this situation was nothing to be pleased about, Hugo still felt relieved by that person’s answer.
【”Even so, it took you long enough to come out. What the hell were you doing?”】
Hugo was simply dejected from the man’s reprimanding words. He thought that it would invite confusion if he were to speak about how the mechanism at the deepest part of the ruins was solved, etc., so, for now, he decided to make it his top priority to deal with the damage control.
But before that, he first had to openly confess that he was responsible for this whole turmoil. However, he figured that if he did so, that robed man would be bothered as well since he had been with him, so he turned around to tell him to take some distance from him. But there was no one there.
Even when Hugo confusedly looked around the vicinity, the robed man was nowhere to be seen. He had completely disappeared, as if he had been a hallucination. But if he really had been a hallucination, Hugo would not be alive by now, so that was probably not the case. Perhaps the man simply did not want to stay in a place exposed to the public gaze like this one. If so, then this was for the best.
【”Say, will you hear me out for a second?”】
【”What? If you’ve got energy to spare, use it to freaking help out here.”】
【”Well, speaking of that, I owe you an apology.”】
With this, Hugo was able to obediently confess his blunder.
However, in the end, his only regret was to have been unable to ask that man’s name.
【”….Oho, Harold has already snatched away the treasured object from the ruins?”】
Towards the information that had just reached him, Justus let out an unusually surprised tone of voice.
This time, Harold had been heading to the Haibar ruins. From his conjecture, Justus was almost certain there was a treasured object in the deepest part of those ruins, but by no means did he think that the journey to get there would be easy.
Exploring ruins was the actual profession of adventurers, and yet, even by working together, they did not succeed at going any further in the ruins. So, naturally, Justus had a suitable reason to think it would be a difficult task. Therefore, he had predicted that Harold would struggle to some extent, but would eventually manage to do something about the treasured object through some feat of strength.
So, just what had happened? According to the report that had come to Justus, Harold had correctly solved the ruins’ mechanism without a hitch, and obtained the treasured object in a mere day.
His work was certainly much beyond Justus’ expectations, and for that, he wanted to praise him.
However, with this, Justus was able to turn the suspicions he had about Harold into convictions.
Ever since he knew Harold, Justus always felt he was an oddity.
When he contacted him for his experiment, he figured he was just someone strong that he would use as a pawn, but when he faced him, he intuitively understood. He was just like him.
Within his eyes, there was a strong will to take any measures that were necessary for his goals.
Harold’s interception of the Sarian Empire’s invasion was likely a consequence of that will. However, the more Justus examined that event, the more mysterious points came out.
First of all, how was Harold able to sense the invasion coming? Through that invasion, Justus acquired guinea pigs from the stellar tribe for his research by using people from another country. But at the same time, he had also intended to use that as a starting point to ensnare or make a man fall from power, the man who could become an obstacle to him and could denigrate the knight order’s authority, Vincent Van Vestel.
However, as it turned out, the youngest prodigy to ever join the knight order had held back that invasion in the end and had taken the enemy commander as a prisoner.
It would have been fine had he simply been a genius. However, Harold was not a genius, he was an irregular.
He had worn the empire’s military uniform in the forest and then showed up in front of the knight order. By doing so, he had made it known to the order that the enemy was the empire’s army, and not the stellar tribe. But that would not have been possible if Harold had not gotten information about the invasion beforehand.
Not to mention that that would have naturally been impossible had he not joined the order at 13 years old. In other words, it was safe to think that Harold had had the information for quite a while, and had been actively working on obstructing the invasion.
What came to reinforce that hypothesis was that, in the Beltis forest’s battle, Harold was in command of some powerful people who belonged neither to the knight order, nor to the imperial army, nor to the stellar tribe. That group played a big part in lowering the number of captured people and casualties in the battle.
Since they were under Harold’s commands, it was most likely right to think that he had perceived the invasion before it happened.
What was that group? Justus could not grasp their true colors; however, he guessed they likely were either Harold’s underlings or the Sumeragi family’s people. Either way, that did not change the fact that Harold had done some elaborate preparations.
From all the above-mentioned, Justus was suspicious of Harold. But even so, he still did take him under his control back then, because he had been curious about where he was headed to in the future. Was Harold going to choose a path of destruction, just like him? Or was he going to choose a different path from Justus, despite having the same eyes as him?
Even now, it wasn’t clear to him where Harold would be heading in the future. But for the first time in a very long while, Justus’ interest was stimulated by something other than his own research. Perhaps it wasn’t due to reason but instinct.
However, the situation had changed.
This time, Harold had deciphered characters from a lost, ancient civilization. Even Justus himself would not have been able to do that. That was because there were no historical records or documents left from or about that civilization.
It was not wrong to say that this feat was impossible for the people of this world’s current era.
Then, why was Harold able to decipher those ancient letters?
If that matter was the only one, he would have thought that it probably was due to some information that Harold’s family just happened to own. However, Justus could not have such thoughts when adding the Beltis forest’s case on top of this one.
By themselves, either of those events could accidentally happen due to a miraculous accumulation of unlikely elements, but when happenings with such low probability were made to happen twice, then coincidence had nothing to do with them anymore, they became inevitable.
To cause such inevitable events, it was necessary to know a certain “something”. That something was: the future.
The Sarian Empire’s invasion, the meaning of those ancient characters’ that someone would end up deciphering sooner or later and maybe even Justus’ plans. Perhaps Harold simply “knew” all that. He had called out Justus’ name in his very first meeting with him. At that time, Harold, at the very least, had already known who the individual called Justus Freund was.
Then there were the words he had said right after: “Why would a man like you come here?”. Back then, Justus had thought that that phrasing, “a man like you”, referred to his status as a well-known scientist. But what if Harold had said that because he knew Justus’ true nature?
“Aahh”, Justus let a sigh of lamentation escape him and echo within the laboratory. He sat at his chair while looking up at the ceiling and spoke up.
【”You… Are you the greatest obstacle on my path, Harold Stokes? You, who has the same destructive eyes as me.”】
How ironic it would be if Justus’ greatest weapon, his own curiosity, were to turn its fangs on him at the very last moment.
Yet, Justus laughed, “I see it now, this is perfect”. He had a flash of insight akin to a divine revelation, and at this moment, he, who was an atheist, offered a prayer of thanks to god.
Back in those days, why had he bothered to put Harold under his orders despite having suspicions about him? That had to be so he could kill the man who would become the greatest obstacle in his path with his own hands.
【”Thank you for giving up your own life to serve as a proof of my love, Harold. No matter what, you alone, I will absolutely kill.”】
As Justus said so, there was no anger on his face; it was filled only with deep affection.
Translator’s note: So… Look, Harold, I guess you tried, you had a good run >< By the way, next Chapter we’ll be getting back some Harold Pov, don’t worry, and we’ll be seeing some of the characters that I’m sure you all miss 😀 Also, when he says “Faculty of language” about the two dolls etc., he means that they can’t communicate at all, not that they’re just mute, he means they don’t nod etc. either, just in case you were confused, ’cause I was ><
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Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the chapter, and I wish you an excellent day 😀