Chapter 201 - Sand Dragon Desertio (1)
Unfortunately, that was the only knowledge which could be obtained from the encounter with Paracelsus. Despite Theodore having read the Fairy's Book, Paracelsus didn't recognize Theodore's qualifications. As Paracelsus was a famous alchemist from the Age of Mythology, a 7th Circle magician wasn't even present in his eyes.
However, Theodore ended his conversation with Paracelsus without any fuss. Anyway, his goal was to find out what was happening with Mitra. Knowledge from the Age of Mythology was like a pearl necklace worn around a pig's throat.
There would be another chance to talk to Paracelsus.
'... In the end, night is over. It is already morning.'
Sun was shining through the window, and Theodore flopped onto the bed with a weary expression. His reaction was natural. He had spent quite a lot of time reading the Fairy's Book, and his encounter with Paracelsus had also contributed to his fatigue.
Theodore wanted to fall asleep, but he needed to have breakfast with his party.
Even if he was tired, Theodore had to move. He left the bed and grabbed the doorknob, and the door opened easily. It was made of an unknown material, just like everything else. As the door opened, Theodore stumbled across William, who was just leaving his room.
"Good morning, William."
"Oh, Captain! Good morning..." William's voice gradually decreased in volume as he looked at Theodore's complexion.
It was due to the dark circles under Theodore's eyes. He hadn't had that face the previous night. William looked at him with concern. "Excuse me, was your bed okay?"
"It was fine. Why do you ask?"
"Somehow, it seems like you were unable to sleep."
Theodore laughed bitterly at the words. Hearing such worried words as soon as he encountered someone, his condition seemed to be worse than he thought.
"I had to do something last night. It wasn't a matter of not sleeping."
"I see. I won't say anything..."
The two men talked and arrived at the dining room, where the other party members were already seated. Veronica, who was chewing bread, raised one hand and greeted Theodore, "You woke up, Kid? You look tired. If you are lacking sleep, then you can go rest some more."
"It's okay. Besides, I'm very hungry."
"Well, if you say so."
The two men sat down and started eating.
「Activated the restaurant. Please mention the name of the dish you want, or select from the catalog. 」
It was different from yesterday when they hadn't been able to understand the words. Paragranum must've done something as the voice had switched to the language of the continent. The catalog also had the correct pronunciation kindly written.
Theodore had tried it once yesterday, but it was still strange. The party was surprised as they chose their dishes. There were many unfamiliar dishes, but they were up for the challenge.
"Fried chicken? Ah, this is fried chicken."
"Curry rice. It is hard to guess what it is from the name, but the rich flavor is quite good."
"Raw fish and... rice? It is a strange combination, but the taste is okay."
"Ack! Why is this noodle dish so spicy?"
However, some failed the challenge. William had to pour a few cups of water to cool his swollen lips.
Theodore picked a safe choice and ate pork cutlet. The dish of pork covered in breadcrumbs and then fried was something he had eaten during his childhood, but the taste was like the difference between heaven and earth.
'Even the expensive restaurants in the capital will taste bad compared to this. Is there a way to transfer this cooking facility to the magic tower?'
Theodore thought about it. Delicious food would pop out as soon as a person chose. This convenience couldn't be found, even in Meltor which was the center of magical civilization. No, if this cooking facility became popular, then the chefs of Meltor might lose their jobs.
Theodore thought so and cocked his head.
'If I look at it in this way, it might not be good to take it..?'
After all, he wouldn't want to increase the unemployment rate. Theodore smiled slightly as he set down an empty plate. A relic from the Age of Mythology was certainly excellent, but it could cause trouble if civilization wasn't ready for it.
Then at that moment...
There was a sharp sound, and the lights in the restaurant started flashing. It was a red light which alarmed the people present, signaling that something wasn't good.
Unsurprisingly, the lab's urgent voice sounded in Theodore's head, 「Warning! Confirmed the approach of an existence which can threaten the current laboratory. Transferring the entire group, including the sub-master, to the situation control room. You will be guided from area D-8 to area S-1.」
Simultaneously, the investigation team disappeared from the dining room. They couldn't speculate about the existence that could threaten the lab, which even sword masters couldn't damage.
* * *
As always, the space movement was instant.
"Eh? What, where has all my food gone?" William was hungry after only drinking water for breakfast, but he couldn't return to the dining room in this situation.
They were in the situation control room. This was the first time the six people had stepped foot in this place, so naturally they looked around. However, before they could say anything, Paragranum moved forward.
She shouted in an urgent voice, "「Identification code PRGRN3681214! Open the omnidirectional monitor!」"
Para's order was quick. Then suddenly, lights lit up on the black walls on all sides, and the exterior of the site was revealed. They didn't compare to windows. The view wasn't filtered with opaque glass, but the group couldn't help understanding the situation.
A tremendous sandstorm was swirling in front of them.
"Ack!" William took a few steps back with surprise, but the storm before him didn't scratch at his skin.
Perfect illusion magic was showing off its grandeur. Mujak saw the scale of the sandstorm and murmured with dry lips, "Khamsin...!"
As everyone gazed at him, he explained, "Sometimes in the desert, a storm with unknown limits is born. Typical storms grow until they disappear after reaching their limit, but Khamsin doesn't have a limit. The nomads of the desert fear Khamshin as the wrath of god, and according to Austen's history, it once destroyed a castle."
"So?" Veronica didn't listen to him and stepped forward to ask Para, "This sandstorm can threaten the facility that even a sword master couldn't damage?"
It didn't make sense. Theodore remembered something Paragranum had said. The outer walls of the ruin wouldn't fall in one or two blows, even if it was hit by a dragon's breath. This was a fortress built by Paracelsus, the peak alchemist from the Age of Mythology.
However, Paragranum raised a finger instead of answering. Then she said, "That isn't a Khamsin. Take a look at beyond it."
The five pairs of eyes followed her index finger. Visibility was poor due to the storm. However, Mujak's eyes were accustomed to it, so he saw it without much difficulty. "... The Andras' excavation team?"
"Yes, watch closely. You will soon find out."
"What are you say-" Mujak suddenly closed his mouth. His remarkable vision had seen the 'phenomenon.' Soon after, the members of the investigation team could see it as well. The barracks left behind by the Andras excavation team were destroyed without a trace. The sight of solid metal scattering like sand obviously wasn't natural.
It was something more transcendent than mere destruction.
"The power of weathering." It was a hard and stiff voice. Paragranum murmured with a rarely serious expression, "Why did Desertio come to the outskirts of the desert? That old man should be staying at the center of the desert..."
"Yellow Tower Kid, don't be serious alone and explain yourself."
"Ah, that's right. You don't know yet," Paragranum belatedly replied to Veronica. "The Meuse Desert isn't a natural desert. It is a terrain made by a sand dragon."
"Yes, his name is Desertio. He is a dragon who has lived for many years and whose death is close. Nobody in this age can afford to go against him... Ah, that reminds me."
Paragranum might not be supposed to know it, but she could give as much information as possible, using her alter ego of the Yellow Tower Master as a shield. The Yellow Tower Master was, after all, the most mysterious person in Meltor.
However, Para added a few words that stirred Mujak up, "The disaster of the Central Continent, the cause of the drought."
"What?!" Mujak shouted, while his thick mustache shook. "Young girl from Meltor, can you take responsibility for those words? Swear that it is true!"
The overpowering influence of a sword master... Mujak's overwhelming momentum made the others step back, but Para just nodded calmly.
"Yes, I will swear by my name, as well as my master's name."
"... Dammit! For the great sun! The disaster Austen has been struggling with for centuries is due to a dragon lizard!'
Mujak's anger was natural. The Janissaries valued patriotism and loyalty more than their own lives. How many people had died directly and indirectly from the drought until now? 100,000 people? 1,000,000 people? It had lasted for centuries, so the sum might exceed 10 million. He wouldn't be angry if it was just the tyranny of Mother Nature, but now he learned it was because of a dragon.
Mujak's eyes filled with fury as he growled, "I swear to the Sultan and the Sun God, I will cut out his heart, even if I have to sacrifice my life!"
He didn't care about any injuries! The sword master's roar burst out with full sincerity. If the sand dragon were in front of him, he would've run forward without any hesitation. However, there was one person who put a stop to his courage. That was Veronica who had once fought a dragon.
"Stop. It will be a useless death," she said.
Unfortunately, the cold advice was counterproductive.
"How can you say that, Veronica?!"
"I am a dragon slayer, desert man. A dragon is a species that grows stronger over time. Not to mention one that is almost a million years old. The dragon might die if all the masters on the continent ally together... if we are lucky."
"T-That..." Mujak could tell that she was serious. They had never fought properly, but it was clear that Veronica was more powerful than other masters. She also had combat experience with a dragon, so there was no logical reason to dispute her words.
Veronica shut Mujak's mouth, then asked Para, "Does this ruin have any defense mechanisms?"
"It does, but it won't last long if the dragon attacks seriously."
"Tch, I thought so. He is an ancient dragon in this day and age. It looks like we are caught in a checkmate, but... what does that lizard want?"
Then at that moment...
[Aren't those some harsh words?] A majestic voice rang out through the ruins.
It was like an echo in a deep valley... Or thunder which burst from the far heavens. The voice caused Theodore's blood to boil.
[Oh, there you are.]
'Who is he referring to?' Theodore gulped involuntarily.
The atmosphere sharpened. This was an ancient dragon from the Age of Mythology, the source of the Meuse Desert. Then at the next moment, the sand dragon spoke to Theodore, [Magician with the blood of a sea dragon, I have found you.]