Passing through the waterfall with brown hot water, Loren’s group reached the passage Lapis saw on the other side of the waterfall and immediately got themselves out of the water.
The passageway had no waterway running through it and continued deep inside, but the walls seemed to be made of magical building materials as well, so there was no problem in securing visibility. Lapis and others begin to check the entrance to the passageway for traps, but Loren behind them, who had just gotten out of the hot water, jumped back into it for some reason, and that attracted everyone’s attention.
“Loren, what are you doing?”
At Lapis’ question, Loren, who had immediately come back up as if he wasn’t doing anything in particular, answered that he was just checking something.
“By checking, you mean…”
“We have to be sure that the blessing still works even after we got out of the hot water once.”
The lake spirit had said that the blessing’s duration was about a day, but she did not mention whether it was still effective after they had gotten out of the water once. Loren thought it was necessary to check this, since there was a possibility that the blessing would be invalidated when they returned.
Hearing this, Lapis and Klaus both voiced their objection.
“It’s dangerous to do!”
“I don’t know if it’s something I should say, but wouldn’t it be better if you consulted with us before taking any action?”
“It’s not such a big deal, is it?”
“What were you going to do if the blessing became null?”
“I think it would be extremely troublesome if Loren became incapacitated.”
Lapis was concerned for Loren’s safety, while Klaus reminded him that he had a whole party to think about. Both of their arguments were so strong that Loren gave up trying to refute them and ended up apologizing meekly.
Anyway, the power of the blessing itself remained intact, and with this, Loren thought that the only thing they had to worry about was the return time.
“So, we’re going in, right?”
Ange pointed to the end of the passageway and said without asking anyone in particular, and Loren nodded in return.
“Be careful, since we don’t know what we’ll find.”
“If it’s a trap, I can handle it, Loren and I will take the lead.”
Lapis said and took up the place next to Loren. There were no objections to her proposal, and the lineup was formed with Loren and Lapis in the lead, followed by Gula and Leila, then Ange and Laure, and Klaus was at the tail end.
“Klaus, shouldn’t you be further in front?”
“No, I should be at the rear. It’s the only place for me.”
Klaus resolutely refused. Thinking that he was aware of his role to be the rear guard, Loren was not inclined to say anything more. But Lapis, who was walking next to him, whispered in Loren’s ear.
“It’s surely to check out us girls’ behind.”
“…That guy just can’t behave at all…”
Indeed, if Klaus wanted to admire the buttocks of the five girls, he would have to be at the back of the line. But it would be troublesome if he was too focused on that and forgot to be vigilant. Loren glared at him and Klaus, understanding that Loren had seen through his intention, turned his eyes away and looked around as if to show that he was keeping watch. Klaus was not directly touching the girls, and it was not like the body part he ogled would shrink or anything, so Loren decided to stop paying attention to him and continued walking forward. But seeing Lapis walking a little bit ahead of him while seemingly shrinking into herself, Loren wondered if she minded it that much.
The group continued to walk along the straight passageway with caution, and after a while, they came to a door.
Seeing Lapis approach the door first and start checking to see if any traps had been set, Leila muttered curiously.
“Isn’t Lapis a priest?”
“A priest of the God of Knowledge should be able to do that much, right?”
Loren answered Leila, thinking that if she asked Lapis the same question, she would probably get the same answer. Loren couldn’t help but feel that the height of the hurdle that the priests of the God of Knowledge had to overcome was getting higher by the minute, but he couldn’t take responsibility for that.
As Loren was thinking that if said priests were going to blame someone, they should blame a certain priest presented here, Lapis finished her examination and put her hand on the door.
“It looks all right, so I’ll open it.”
“Is the door unlocked?”
“Yes. Very careless.”
With a chuckle, Lapis pushed open the door.
And instantly came eye to eye with the two large dark goblins inside.
As Lapis froze, the dark goblins also stopped moving, not knowing what the hell had happened, and Loren ran through the space beside Lapis without saying a word.
A white light, much stronger than the one emitted from the magical building material, flashed by, and before the black goblins could take any action, their heads were easily separated from their body and landed on the floor with blood splattering.
“It’s not very nice to run into them out of the blue, huh.”
Loren, who had sent the two black goblins’ heads flying at a blinding speed, spoke to Lapis, who was still frozen in her posture. She finally retracted the hand that was pushing the door and scratched her head as if troubled.
“I was too distracted by the trap.”
“These… Are these the same ones that were in the forest?”
Klaus muttered as he watched the headless corpses through the door that Lapis opened.
“They look like goblins, but I’ve never seen any in similar size and color. A new species?”
“They seem to be native to the ruins. Can that even count as a new species?”
Loren also thought that they would not exist in nature. If such goblins did exist naturally, there would have to be a tremendous uproar, but he had never heard of such a commotion.
“They’re a rare species, and they’re big, but I doubt they’re that strong.”
Crouching beside the headless corpses of the goblins, Klaus looked closely at them. His comment was understandable, as in this case, the goblins had been easily defeated. But in reality, such defeat was only because of Loren’s strength and the power of his weapon. It was extremely difficult to cut through their hard skins and bones with an ordinary weapon wielded by an ordinary swordsman.
Just as Loren was about to open his mouth to warn Klaus not to be too optimistic, a black goblin’s arm, which was not supposed to move, swung at Klaus, who was crouched down beside it, with a speed that could not have been expected from a corpse.
While no one had expected the corpses to move, not to mention to attack, Klaus, the one being attacked, pulled out the long sword at his waist in a fluid motion and easily severed the arm that had swung at him at the elbow.
Before the severed arm fell to the floor, Laure released a priestly force that enveloped the bodies of the two black goblins that were trying to get up, and with a screeching sound, the headless corpses lost their strength and fell to the floor again, not moving an inch from there.
“I take back what I said before. They’re strong and tough. If it were someone else instead of me, they might have been in danger.”
Klaus said as he returned the longsword, which glowed with a pale light, to its sheath and stood up. His blessing, <<Boost>>, could increase the power of both people and objects, and the longsword he used was such a fine weapon that it had caught Loren’s attention at a weapons store. The combination of these two factors allowed him to easily cut off the black goblin’s arm, but Klaus himself seemed to acknowledge that if either one of them had been missing, it might have been a close call.
“Not only the black goblin, but there are ghosts too?”
The headless black goblin moved because a ghost had possessed the corpse right away. Laure was the first to recognize this, and she had purified the possessed goblins with <<Turn Undead>> technique, which had neutralized them without much effort. If Laure had been slower in her judgment, they would have had to fight black goblin corpses that were fully under the ghosts’ control.
“Laure, you’re well-versed in this.”
“I’m a priest, I should be able to do this much.”
Leila seemed impressed with Laure’s ability to detect the ghosts just by looks and immediately purified them, but Laure was humbled about it. Lapis glared at her with half-lidded eyes.
“Loren, did she just lightly belittle me?”
“E-err, that’s not what they meant…”
Depending on how one looked at it, Laure might have sounded like she was criticizing Lapis for not immediately recognizing the incident as the work of a ghost and being slow to take action. However, it was also clear that she had no intention to do so. Loren patted Lapis on the back to appease her, thinking that Lapis was not really serious anyway, while Leila calmed the upset Laure down.
“So, what do we do from here?”
Loren looked around at Ange’s question.
The passageway extended to both left and right of the door they had entered, but there was no way to know which path was the right one. The only thing Loren knew was that they had to get out of here as quickly as possible.
“These things weren’t here naturally. They must have been placed by someone else, so it would be troublesome if they realized they had been defeated. Let’s move quickly. But I also don’t have a clue where we should go.”
This set up of goblins followed by ghosts could not be a natural occurrence. This should have been considered a deliberate placement by some entity. If it was a deliberate placement, the one who set this up might, via some method, know if they were defeated. Loren didn’t even want to think about what methods would be used to remove intruders like their group.
“Then why don’t we just pick a path at random?”
As Loren wondered what to do, Klaus casually made a suggestion.
“Since we don’t know which one to choose, it doesn’t really matter which way we go, does it?”
“That… may well be so.”
Perhaps it was too optimistic a view, but considering that they had to leave this place as quickly as possible, it was clear that there was no time to hesitate. Loren had to admit that Klaus’s suggestion made sense.
“Then we’ll go this way. We’ll move quickly, but be careful of traps and unexpected encounters.”
“Hey, wait a minute.”
Loren said and was about to start running when Gula stopped him. As Loren wondered what was going on, Gula, with a grim look on her face, pointed to a passageway in the opposite direction from where he was heading.
“I have a feeling it’s this way.”
“Is that… girl’s intuition or something?”
“Yup. It’s better than having no clue, right?”
If Loren asked Gula to explain in detail, she might leak information that she did not want Klaus’ party to know. As he couldn’t possibly tell them about Gula’s true identity, Loren had to appear as if he agreed with her without thinking too much about it. He smiled at the grim-faced Gula and immediately proceeded to the passageway on the opposite side of where he had been heading.