Infinite Mage (Novel) Chapter 138

                      



C138

However, the leader was also not an easy opponent.

"We came to meet the natives. Is that enough?"

"That could be an answer, but you have to explain. It's a breach of contract. If this continues, I won't ask anymore."

The leader felt regret. He had intended to provoke Shirone, but ended up closing the deal too early.

The quick-witted mage explained further.

"We don't know anything else either. Because we really came just to meet the natives."

"I see."

Shirone looked back at his friends and nodded. If they also didn't know what was underground, the risk of falling into a trap was eliminated for now.

Thinking it was a decent trade, Shirone pulled out an additional gold coin.

"Why did you come to meet the natives? Here's one gold."

The archer who received the money smacked his lips as if in conflict. To be honest, it was embarrassing to tell others.

"We came to get Loop. It is also distributed in the market, but we can buy it in bulk here at a much cheaper price. We plan to sell it and fund our adventures. Now, is that an answer?"

Shirone was taken aback for a moment. It was a place of Loop trafficking that had nothing to do with the secrets of the ruins.

But the mercenaries, too, had found this place with fragmented information, so it was premature to conclude.

'What’s this? Is it completely different from what I expected? A drug dealing place? No, I shouldn't think that way. It is a drug to the common people, but a ritual tool to the natives. Therefore, it must be a sacred item. That means, ultimately…….'

After finishing his thoughts, Shirone asked.

"By any chance, is this place connected to the natives' autonomous area?"

"What? How did you... Ah, crap!"

Realizing his mistake, the archer frowned. He had answered without receiving money.

Then Shirone rummaged through his pocket and pulled out a gold coin. He had asked in a hurry, but he had no intention of playing trick.

"Oh, here's one gold. I'm sorry for asking first."

The archer stared at Shirone's outstretched hand.

Of course, one gold was not easy to earn, but it was not an amount that would terrify a mercenary who had built his own career.

"Damn! Never mind. It's my mistake."

"It's not a mistake. That's how contracts work."

"I know! It's just that my pride won't let me accept it. Damn, I can't believe I made such a mistake. I still have a long way to go."

"Then I'll consider the last question as a free service."

Shirone put the gold coin back without hesitation. It wasn't a prudent student's attitude to waste it when they didn't want to receive it.

The archer was in trouble for no reason. At some point, he felt as if he was being played by a child.

“Instead, let me ask you something. How did you figure it out? In fact, that information is top secret."

“Because Loop are sacred to the natives. Besides, if the profit margin is huge enough to make big money by selling Loop, it wouldn't be easily released. Ultimately, you would need the permission of an authoritative person among the natives, and the only place where such a person could be would be an autonomous area."

The archer had nothing to say. While wondering if there was anything worthwhile to do with money, what they found was the Kerugo Ruins.

Shirone's short words contained all the conclusions he had reached after spending several days and nights researching Loop and sifting through the information market.

“Tsk! What an amazing brain this brat had. Any more questions?”

"No, that's it. Now, let's go down and check."

The archer smiled bitterly. He guessed why Shirone was not asking. He probably noticed that no matter what he asked, he had nothing more to say.

Shirone and the others went down for 20 minutes. Although it spiraled, it was still of great depth.

When they reached the end of the stairs, a corridor on a one-way path continued. Two natives stood at an iron gate set up 10 meters ahead.

Unlike the natives outside, they were bare-chested and barefoot beneath their trousers..

The tattoo, which started at the navel, branched up to their faces, looking intimidating even from a distance.

Shirone didn't think that place was an autonomous district. They would have to walk at least a few kilometers to enter the jungle of the Toa Mountain.

The mercenaries also showed signs of tension. The archer who was the interpreter changed his position to the leader's side.

After exchanging a few words of code in the Kerugo language, the native pulled the switch.

As the wheel made of iron turned, the gate opened to the sides.

"Wow......"

Shirone's eyes lit up as if he had landed into a strange world.

It was an octagonal room carved out of stone walls. On the other side of the entrance, they can see an iron gate, and three men were guarding there.

In the center was an octagonal altar, identical to the shape of the room, laid flat, and floating above each of its eight corners were spheres of about 30 centimeters in diameter.

Shirone recalled his memory. It was a sphere he had certainly seen somewhere before.

"Huh, what's that?"

The archer looked back at Shirone with a puzzled look. He didn't even know what it was until they came here, and the odds of something familiar were extremely slim.

"Why, do you know what that is?"

"That, definitely from Miro..."

The leader licked his lips.

"Huh, who do you think you are to pretend you know? Do you think you remembered some bells hanging from your bottom?"

The leader didn't like Shirone from the tavern. He despised men who lacked courage to fight but were boastful in front of women. Because he didn't have a woman to impress.

"Miro? Did you just say Miro?"

A native guarding the entrance asked. Even Shirone, who did not know the native language, could understand the word Miro.

The archer, who was curious about the situation, reluctantly translated more.

"He’s asking if you know Miro?"

"Yes. I have met her once.”

When the archer said so, the native's eyes were distorted. As the tattoo bent, it was like seeing a goblin from a legend.

“You met? There can be no such thing. That is a lie.”

"No, it's not. I really met her."

The native sank into deep thought. However, as if he came to a simple conclusion, he quickly returnned to a vacant look.

"I do not judge anything. Only the angel's eyes will watch you."

After leaving behind incomprehensible words and closing the iron gate, Shirone put aside his regret and turned around. He thought the start was from now anyway.

As the mercenaries walked to the center, a native came from the other side of the iron gate.

Apparently, of the three natives, two were gatekeepers, and only the man who was approaching seemed to have a different role.

It was clear just by the color of the tattoo. While ordinary Kerugo people have red tattoos, this man's tattoo was white.

“This is a room of achievement and sacrifice. The eight eyes of an angel will judge you. To enter Kerugo, you must pass through the labyrinth of Time and Space.”

Upon hearing the word maze, Shirone hurriedly turned her head. But the archer kept his mouth shut, as if he had no intention of interpreting any more.

"Labyrinth? Did he just say labyrinth? What did that man say?"

"Hey, don't get it wrong. I'm not your interpreter, why should I explain everything to you?"

"You're going to tell your colleagues anyway. Tell me quickly."

"I don't want to. Let's not care about each other from now on. We came here with something to do too."

The man with white tattoos was staring at them with his arms folded. He could tell just by the gestures that Shirone was asking for translation.

"Is there anyone among you who knows the ancient language?"

"Oh, I know a little."

“Then translate. Opportunities are equal for all. The eyes of an angel watch over everything in the labyrinth of Time and Space.”

"Why should I do that? They're not our companions. I don't know what you're judging, but please separate them.”

"No. From the moment you entered the room of achievement and sacrifice, you are one. Will you achieve or will you sacrifice? That is the only choice you have."

"Shit! We got unlucky. What are we going to do with these kids?”

As the conversation got longer, the mage pressed on.

"What exactly is he saying? Say it already."

With no choice, the archer relayed the conversation they had heard so far.

The mercenaries who heard everything were irritated. If they knew this was going to happen, they should have somehow ditched Shirone's party before coming here.

"The Angel's eyes will judge us? Does that mean they evaluate our skills? And they lump us together with these brats? Isn't this too unfair for us?"

Amy's eyes narrowed as the mage complained.

"Hey, you keep calling us brats, how do you know whether we have skills or not?"

“Hohoho! Oh, is that so? Do you want to cling to us after freeloading? To be clear, if we mess things up because of you, you better be prepared.”

"Hmph! Do as you please. We never planned to team up with you guys anyway."

The mage smirked coldly. Who did they think they were? She was a rookie mage, one of the most promising newcomers in the mercenary world.

She didn't get along with inferior mercenaries at all, so her colleagues were only made up of people of similar age and level.

On the other hand, those ignorant children were obviously students who learned swordsmanship and magic somewhere.

What you learn in school is worlds apart from real combat. For mercenaries who easily risk their lives, she could be confident that she would not be pushed back even if compared to a certified wizard.

'Ha, just wait and see, brats. I'll make you cry and beg once we're past here.'

Thanks to the bickering of the women, they were able to bury the petty feelings.

As the eight of them waited for the next instructions, the man with the white tattoo began to explain.

"There are two conditions to pass the gate. You can prove your ability or send one person through the sacrifice of one person.”

As soon as he heard the translation, Shirone asked a question.

"What do you mean by proving? What specifically do we need to prove?”

"Hey! Stop butting in! I'm not going to translate for you!"

"He said we have to do this together. Just ask him already."

The archer, who had nothing to say, gnashed his teeth and translated. The man with the white tattoo nodded and continued speaking.

“Descendant of warrior, ascend to the altar of judgement and cast your spell on one of the eight orbs. The divine language will respond. If a red light rises, you have failed. If a white light rises, you have passed."

Shirone continued to pour out questions, as if he had hired the archer as his personal interpreter.

"Is there a limit to the number of attempts? For instance, can one person try as many times as they want?"

"You can keep trying until you're exhausted. If a passer comes out, everyone can go to Kerugo. If no one passes, everyone must return. This is the will of the labyrinth and the mission of the people of Kerugo."

"You said achievement and sacrifice. What does 'sacrifice' mean?"

"One person can pass through with the blood of another."

"Do you mean someone has to die?"

"Yes."

Upon hearing that, Shirone was lost in thought. It's possible to challenge as many times as you want, and even if only one person succeeds, everyone can pass.

But what if no one succeeds? They would have no choice but to pass through the gate with the sacrifice of a companion. And it was one life for each passage.

'Something is strange. Was it necessary to go to Kerugo with such cruelty? It doesn't make sense to kill a comrade just to obtain Loop. There must be something more to Kerugo. The mercenaries must have come here without knowing the real secret of this underground place.'

Shirone signaled for the interpretation to continue. The information collected so far was useful, so the archer agreed without a word.

"Are there any restrictions on the sacrifice? Like bringing someone else from the outside or using the corpse of a dead person?"

"No. From the moment you entered the room, you are one. The gate will never open until everyone agrees. Therefore, such a question is meaningless."


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