Chapter 33 – Seizing control
Elysia, Serena and I came to check on the storehouse in the backyard of the government building.
It was a sturdy looking stone-built storehouse.
Until yesterday, it was filled with the burnt remains of wooden crates and fragmented pieces of pots, but the slimes have already got to it and cleaned it up entirely.
“It’s over there. In the back.”
What Serena was pointing towards was a locked metal door.
“No way…..it’s made of magical metal?”
“Yes. Orichalcon, to be exact. But, just leave it to me! A door like this won’t-!”
“Wait right there, Serena! You will collapse the entrance as well!”
I told Serena who was already holding a red light in her hand.
Elysia tilted her head in confusion.
“Isn’t it enough to cut only the padlock?”
“That’s not an ordinary padlock. It must be a magic tool. Also, it’s made of magic metal, so it can’t be cut that easily…..It will either need some kind of spell or a keyword to open. Serena, do you have any ideas?”
“Sadly, no…..Though this should’ve been open to begin with…..”
“Hmm? Perhaps someone locked it after your group was defeated, Serena.”
“I’m afraid that’s likely the case. I can’t be exactly sure since I was already on my way to fight the black clothed woman.”
They may have locked it to prevent the enemy from pursuing their allies.
“Anyhow, we need to open it somehow…..”
To open it, you need to put mana into the lock and shape it according to the keyhole, but….
Dark mana I can manipulate fairly well already, so I poured some in to fill up the keyhole.
The padlock fell to the floor with a clanking sound.
“Very well done!”
“As expected of Alec-sama!”
Elysia and Serena were clapping at my success. They are acting like parents praising a small child.
Well, I’m in fact a child right now, but….it’s still embarrassing somehow.
“A-anyhow….I will open it now.”
“Ah, leave something like that to us, please.”
Elysia pulled on the door handle right away.
As the air rushed towards the door, I deployed a number of lights around us with 【Holy Light】.
As soon as we could see inside the opening door, a skeleton fell to the floor from the other side.
“Eh? ──T-this is!?”
I used the light orbs to illuminate behind the door.
What showed up were skeletons filling up the entire staircase going down.
Those were without a doubt human skeletons.
Serena’s face went pale.
“Why… are those here?”
“….could the people who escaped turned back for some reason?”
Hearing Elysia’s mutter, Serena replied with a panicked voice.
“B-but there was a friendly army on the continent side! There was a Guardian unit stationed underground by the general as well!”
“Serena. I understand your reason for panicking. However, it’s not certain that these people are the ones from Alus Island….It’s possible that they are people who tried to invade Alus from the continent.”
Hearing my words, Serena shook her from side to side.
“Let’s check the situation underground for now.”
I turned towards Elyc, who was waiting nearby.
“Sorry, but could you gather up the skeletons with the other slimes?”
The next moment, Elyc and the slimes that were nearby started bringing out the skeletons from the stairs.
I had them place them in the corner of the storehouse for now; they will be buried sometime later.
Shooting backwards glances at the slimes expediently moving the skeletons, we descended the stairs.
After about a minute, we reached what looked to be a passageway.
The floor was filled with the scattered shards of broken skeletons.
It was unknown whether someone did that intentionally, or they just ended up that way naturally.
When we stepped into the passageway, Serena’s face went pale from the sight.
“Who would do something like this…..”
When I think about the fact that we were walking on top of the ashes of the people who died here, it makes me shiver.
On the other hand, Elysia seemed to be used to it, so she calmly checked our surroundings.
“Their clothes were burned as well it seems….Even the metal bits are strangely melted. Maybe they were burned….ah”
Elysia’s gaze stopped at a certain point of the passageway.
There was some kind of metallic medal on the floor.
Serena picked the medal up in a hurry.
“Gregos Vilias Verdes, the Governor of Tialus territory…..This is the medal signifying that post.”
“So that means the people here are the refugees from Alus Island…..”
Serena just nodded to my words, her expression going dark.
She must’ve thought that at least she managed to let the townspeople escape at the cost of her own life.
“Serena, we’ll bury them later properly…..We need to move forward for now. We might be able to find out why they died.”
Serena nodded with a certain intensity.
So we moved forward in the passageway once more.
With the orbs of lights illuminating the area ahead of us, we strained our eyes to see if we could find anything on the floor or the walls.
However, after walking a while, I noticed the presence of countless sources of mana ahead of us.
When illuminated by the orbs of light, a dull shine of metal could be seen.
“That’s a…..suit of armor?”
Like Elysia said, a large suit of armor was standing there. What’s more, there were a whole lot more than just one. They were all standing in proper formation…..Judging by how far the backlines were, there were at least a hundred of them.
Serena was shocked still, apparently.
So those suits of armor were Guardians. Magic Tool Puppets that act according to orders. I’ve heard that they were used for battle and guard duty in ancient times.
Did the Guardians get sealed somehow, becoming unable to protect the people?
No…..these should still be able to move.
I can still faintly feel some mana in all of them. It’s coming from the Magic Cores that serve as the heart of a Guardian.
“Serena. Are those Guardians made of magical metal?”
“Y-yes. Most likely from the same orichalcum as the door.”
“Is that so…..then, we should carefully step back now.”
“No way….Do you think they would start moving at this point?”
“Yeah. From what I can see, it’s likely the ones that killed the people of Alus were…..We were too late.”
A purple light slowly lit up in the center of the helmets on all the suits of armor.
Serena suddenly spoke up.
“I am Serena, Sixth Division Commander. Listen to my orders! ──gah!?”
However, the suits of armor all raised their hands towards us and attacked us with either arrows or flame attacks.
Serena looked like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
“W-why aren’t they listening to me!?”
“《Dark Wall》! ──It’s not because I have a Dark Crest, right?”
I’ve deployed a wall made of Dark mana in front of us and asked Serena.
“N-no, it’s not! They shouldn’t be trying to attack humans to begin with. They could only do so if ordered by their master…..”
“So they must be broken somehow.”
Elysia muttered while readying her sword.
“Could a hundred break the same way?”
“T-that’s impossible. Not listening to their master’s orders is also something that should be impossible.”
Serena looked like she really didn’t know what’s what anymore. The Guardians must be really well known for their loyalty then. She hasn’t even heard about one breaking like that.
That means there should be something that’s controlling those Guardians instead.
“Serena. Is there something that’s out of the ordinary about these Guardians?”
“Nothing really…..oh! The lights in their helmets were purple instead of red….. No idea why though.”
“Black and purple is a common color for Dark Magic. Perhaps──Ah, I was right.”
When I looked at the flow of mana in detail, I could detect some Dark mana covering the Magic Cores of the Guardians.
“Could they have been controlled by Dark Magic somehow?”
──Hey, Devil…..do you know of a spell like that? Hey…..
However, the Devil did not reply at all.
What a stubborn guy….I won’t ever ask it again.
Anyway, if I take away the Dark mana, there should be some kind of response.
“Elysia, Serena. Can I leave the defense to you for a bit?”
Serena nodded deeply.
“Of course! Fire and arrows are powerless before my flame.”
“I can fend them off with my sword as a last resort.”
“Thank you, you two……then I’ll leave it to you.”
I turned off my 《Dark Wall》.
Serena deployed a thick as hell wall of flame in front of us right away.
It did manage to block the attacks. If the suits of armor don’t try to rush through then it should be fine.
In contrast I closed my eyes, followed the mana, and located all the Magic Cores of the Guardians.
I then used 《Teleport》 to send my own Dark mana to those Magic Cores one after the other.
After that, I tried to push away the Dark mana clinging to the Magic Cores with my own Dark mana.
However, it seems the mana was too attached to the Magic Cores, so I couldn’t dislodge any of it.
The Guardians didn’t seem like they were about to stop their attacks either.
I guess it’s not possible to push the mana away.
…..in that case, I’ll just absorb it all.
I sent even more Dark mana to the Magic Cores.
Then I moved my mana to devour the attached Dark mana. After making sure all the foreign mana was absorbed, I dispersed it all.
I made sure that all Dark mana present on the Magic Cores have disappeared, then opened my eyes.
“…..how is it now?”
Perhaps noticing that the attacks had ceased, Serena took down her 《Flame Wall》.
With that, we could see the Guardians with a red light emanating from within their helmets standing there.
They started moving around like a human that wasn’t sure what just happened.
Serena raised her voice again.
“I’m the Sixth Division Commander, Serena! Governor Gregos has passed away! Your ownership now passes to Alec-sama, the Sixth Prince! Understood?”
Hearing those words, all Guardians fell to a knee at the same time.
It seems they were under our control now.
Serene let out a deep sigh.
“T-that’s good….but, why did this….”
“Someone took control of the Guardians, then…..locked the door, and killed them all.”
Serena bit into her lip after hearing my words.
“It must’ve been the black clothed woman…..I couldn’t protect a single thing from that woman in the end….”
Serena said with frustration.
The black clothed woman, huh.
It’s clear that she must’ve been a powerful user of Dark Magic. Most likely not a human either. That means either a Devil or a monster…..
We can’t be sure if she’s still alive, but it’s best to be cautious about it.
“Serena, let’s bury the remains of the people here first. We can look for the mines after that.”
We gathered up the remains and returned to the surface for now.
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