Chapter 198 - Traces from the Age of Mythology (1)
The investigation team disappeared from the tunnel and appeared again in a strange room. There was a white floor with a lattice pattern, and lighting fixtures floating in the air.
The investigation team, including Theodore, responded swiftly. It was a space transfer which Theodore, Veronica, and the injured Mujak hadn't been able to resist. The five people quickly backed up against each other and looked around.
This was a ruin from the Age of Mythology. If it was a trap, not one of them could afford to be careless. However, that tension was scattered.
The girl, Paragranum approached them with a calm expression. "I'm sorry for the delay, Captain. It took some time to gain control of the laboratory."
"...Please give a detailed explanation."
Theodore was aware of her intentions, and Para used the prepared excuse.
He couldn't help smiling bitterly as the grimoire explained, "Immediately after the engagement with the empire's Seven Swords finished, I was transferred to this lab by the power of this ring. According to Master's words, this is like a key to this set of ruins."
"It is the power of the ring that moved us here?"
"That's not it." Para hid the ring on her index finger and shook her head.
After all, an artifact which allowed 9th Circle magic to be used freely would've been designated as a national treasure.
"The carriage that we rode relied on the power of the magic crystals, and it isn't really a carriage. Likewise, this ring is just a vehicle to deal with the power of this laboratory. It is useless scrap metal outside this ruin." Para gave a contrived sigh. "Unfortunately, the authority given to this ring can't control Mercurius, and it is impossible to access some areas. However, I am able to open up the warehouse district."
"Okay, I got it."
Then Veronica, the head of the party, stepped forward and looked down at Para. Veronica was quite tall for a woman. Para. whose body was smaller than average, had to look up to see Veronica's face.
Although Para was a highly intelligent grimoire who wouldn't slip up, Theodore felt an unknown tension.
"But Yellow Tower kid, don't you think there is a more important problem than this boring explanation?"
"What do you mean?"
"Are you sure you don't know?" Veronica looked at Para's emotionless face and brought up a topic which no one else had mentioned. "Lloyd Pollan. Did you get rid of that rat?"
The rest of the party were suddenly reminded of Lloyd's presence. Maybe it was because they were dizzy from the sudden space shift that Sylvia, William, and even Mujak, who had been injured by Lloyd, had forgotten about him.
Of course, it was good to obtain the ruins, but there was a bitter taste from having missed one of the empire's Seven Swords. As Veronica was quick-witted, she noticed this. However, Para just smiled effortlessly. "Oh, that rude person."
She raised her thumb, and there was a loud sound. Simultaneously, an image appeared on the black wall. The party reflexively looked over, and their faces stiffened at the sight.
"...One of the empire's Seven Swords."
It was Lloyd Pollan. He was scowling until he met Para's eyes. Unlike his brave stance, his eyes were tinted with fear. The unstable shaking of his eyes was enough to make the viewers feel an eerie chill.
Veronica was the only one who remained unshaken as she asked Para, "What is going on?"
"He seems to have triggered a trap while wandering around."
"Trap? Is that what this is?"
"Yes, it is a trap which freezes that space. Perhaps even a grandmaster can't get out."
"...9th Circle magic is popping up like household items," Veronica grumbled, and the others couldn't help nodding in agreement.
Space freeze was the peak of space magic which even White Tower Master Orta couldn't reproduce. In fact, it was only mentioned in old records. However, such a spell had been used as a trap? Did the creator think a dragon was going to invade or something?
"Can you turn it off?"
"I don't have the authority."
"Tch. It can't be helped then. Anyway, it was an unofficial battle, and he is like a prisoner of war." Veronica gave up.
Then Para erased the image on the wall and said, "There seems to be an accommodation area. Shall I guide you to it?"
Veronica wasn't the only one enticed by it. Theodore was tired from the fight in the sandstorm, while the remaining party members also wanted to rest. There was sand in their clothing, and their dry skin hurt. Furthermore, nobody wanted to keep looking dirty.
Sylvia raised a hand in agreement, and the rest soon followed.
Through the unanimous decision, the next move of the investigation team was decided. Veronica, Mujak, William, and Sylvia were moved through space magic, leaving only Theodore and Para behind in the room.
Theodore wanted to go as well and looked at Para, who whispered to him, "Wait for my call at night."
Then her fingers moved.
* * *
The laboratory of Paragranum's creator, Paracelsus, was a place worthy of being called a new world. Its principles were simple, but the unfamiliar facilities, plumbing, and food which was made with one button seemed like miracles, not alchemy.
Then shortly after Theodore washed in the unfamiliar facility and finished a satisfactory meal...
The grimoire, Paragranum, kept her words.
「Confirmed the sub-master's call, I will guide you from area D-1 to area L-21. 」
It was in the same unknown language as Theodore had heard in the tunnel. As soon as the voice finished speaking, Theodore's surrounding landscape changed.
This was compulsory space movement. Despite having experienced it once before, Theodore felt uncomfortable from the forced transfer. After all, it completely ignored the resistance of a 7th Circle magician!
If Paragranum had been harboring malice, Theodore wouldn't have been able to respond and would be stuck in a space gap.
"Why are you so tense?"
Theodore was surprised by the voice he heard come from behind him.
"...Paragranum," he uttered.
"In this laboratory, I am equal to a grandmaster. You shouldn't be surprised by this."
Grandmaster...! A grandmaster was a person who was closer to a god than a human, someone beyond the boundaries of mortals and transcendents. Theodore had already guessed this, but he couldn't help feeling wonder at Para's words.
While Theodore was feeling surprised, he soon realized that it was oddly dark. With his excellent vision, he was only able to see what was right before him. Yet, ordinary people wouldn't be able to see anything at all.
"It is too dark, can't you brighten it a little bit?"
"This is an area where light isn't supposed to enter. Well, it doesn't matter now."
Soon afterward, a dim light came on. Then the shapes before Theodore and Para soon became clear. When the lights came on in full, Theodore didn't even look at Para.
"...W-What is this?"
His surprise was natural. There were green water tanks surrounding the two people, and horrible monsters and people sleeping in them. A six-headed snake, a three-headed dog, a centaur with wings on its back... There were dozens of water tanks containing disgusting things.
"Biological manipulation, chimera," Paragranum answered the question as she stroked the glass wall of a tank.
Did she remember the days of studying with her creator, Paracelsus? Para looked through several tanks and shook her head. "It can't be helped. The corpses are all rotting and can't be recycled. How could Creator's chimera endure for thousands of years?"
"Thousands of years..."
"If they were alive, we could've unified the Northern continent with them. It is regretful as Meltor's tower master. No one would be left alive."
They were terrible words. He might've laughed it off as a bluff if someone else had said it, but there was no reason for Paragranum to bluff.
'...Indeed, she is dangerous.'
Theodore shook away the creepy sensation of power and hastily followed behind Para. Even though he knew they were already dead, the monsters still seemed like they were alive. After moving past dozens of tanks, the landscape around them suddenly changed.
It was an application of space magic which Theodore couldn't even guess. However, he wasn't surprised by the change. Despite the fact that thousands of years had passed, items were neatly arranged on shelves.
"Let's see... What do I have to take..." Paragranum started to sweep up the things she needed from the shelves.
Her hands moved incessantly until she reached some oddly colored reagents and metals which Theodore had never seen before. It was a large warehouse, and she had filled about half her space bag.
"Oh." Para suddenly stopped moving her hand and looked back at Theodore. "Here is the thing I promised you. The rest will be given a little later."
She threw him a slab. Theodore hurriedly accepted the slab and asked, "This...?"
"As I told you before, it is the Fairy's Book."
This piece of stone was a book? He touched it with his left hand and whispered. There was a clearer way of finding out than asking Paragranum.
Gluttony's tongue proved its effectiveness as always.
[-This book explains the deepening knowledge of the elemental world, including the four major elementals and their utilization. The great alchemist and author of this book, Paracelsus, was the first to distinguish and name the four elemental spirits. He also tried to create artificial elementals based on the ancient elementals. However, the results of that experiment aren't recorded in this book.
* This magic book is rated 'Treasure.'
* When consumed, your proficiency with 'elementals' will increase greatly.
* When consumed, your understanding of the 'four elementals' will increase greatly.
* The soul of the great alchemist Paracelsus inhabits it. You must be at least the 7th Circle to eat this book. Even if the conditions are met, contact activities such as Synchro might not be possible unless Paracelsus is interested.]
It had a 'Treasure' rating which exceeded the anticipated 'Precious' rating. Theodore's eyes widened in shock. The stone slab didn't seem like a real book, and the value of it was higher than he had expected.
'Maybe I really can unlock the 5th seal...'
Every time a seal was released, Gluttony revealed a great ability. From Memorize which could store magic in advance, Another which allowed parallel casting, and to Override which called the author of an eaten book, Gluttony's abilities were almost a foul.
What would be the function of the 5th seal? He shouldn't just depend on Gluttony's power, but he couldn't help feeling expectant. At that time, Para finished her work and called out to Theodore, "Theodore Miller! Take a look over here for a moment."
"Can you lend me the Azoth Sword?"
Theodore handed the Azoth Sword to her without any doubts. If Paragranum wanted to seize it, he wouldn't be able to stop her. However, he also wanted to know why she needed it. Paragranum received the Azoth Sword, took a deep breath, and shouted softly, "「Ars Magna! Open the door to your master!」"
Then she pointed the blade at a spot in the air.
It was an unrealistic sight. The space in front of the Azoth Blade split in two. There was an emerald gleam in the cleaved space, and Para grabbed it with her left arm. Then Paragranum rummaged in the pocket before exclaiming, "I found it!"
The moment the grimoire pulled out her hand with blissful eyes, the cleaved space was covered up again. Theodore could understand because he had a better understanding of dimensions due to Umbra. The space which Paragranum had approached was impossible to open without the Azoth Sword.
'Then this means that jewel...?'
Paragranum was holding an emerald in her left hand. Unlike jewels, this emerald cube had a perfect symmetry and didn't refract light.
-Yes, it is as you guessed, the invisible Gluttony whispered. -That is the Emerald Tablet, the treasure from the Age of Mythology that all alchemists praised as the 'Gate of Truth.'