There’s a sound of wind. A door in the floor. What we found after opening it was darkness.
The faint light Mister Lazar and the others are holding can’t clear up the darkness that’s beyond the door. They most likely can’t see what’s on the other side of the door at all.
But I, with eyes that can see through darkness, know. I feel the flow of the air while enduring the pain. Even further behind the door is a huge space. Moreover, it’s a huge space that makes everything above the ground look like it’s an add-on.
It’s deep. What’s behind the door starts as a narrow passage for a bit and then widens into a vast space. It’s a height that an ordinary human can’t descend to without a ladder.
Vampires have excellent spatial cognition. My five senses relayed to me a very foreign structure.
Maybe calling it a three-dimensional maze would be more appropriate. The intense smell of dust lets me know that nobody has visited this place for a long time, but at the same time ―― I can hear a ‘sound’ too.
“H-hey. What’s in there?”
Lazar asked fearfully. I had a thought, ‘this… isn’t something ordinary mercenaries can handle.’
It’s been said that powerful undead use labyrinths that lead into the abyss as their strongholds. I can clearly understand the reason for that.
This is ―― the territory of an undead.
Senri attained power beyond humans with the help of the blessing and training, but it would be quite difficult for her to continue fighting inside the dark labyrinth where she could be attacked from all sides.
Senri, who had closed her eyes and probably stretched out the thread of her consciousness, shook her head with doubtful expression.
“There are no signs… of undead.”
I see… as expected from the castle of the former King of the Dead. Looks like their anti-Death Knight measures are perfect. To start with, there’s no way cunning Necromancers would always stay one step behind.
But my senses can’t be deceived. I use all my might to focus my concentration, that’s on the verge of being distracted from the pain.
“I can feel the presence… of Night Crystals.”
It has the biggest presence out of all the crystals I’ve felt until now.
I can feel my negative aura that couldn’t be erased with the fragment of the crystal I had, being sucked in with unprecedented momentum.
Hm..? It’s being…. sucked in?
“No way… the power…?”
Is it gathering it!?
The moment I came to that thought, a noticeably stronger pain ran through my whole body.
I crouched. And at the same time I felt Senri gasp.
By the time Senri had shortly shouted, I was already moving.
Since we’ve always been together, we have a telepathic understanding of each other. After I let Lazar, who was peeking in from behind, escape from being near the door by lightly pushing him behind, I threw myself inside the deep space beyond the door.
I won’t die even if I’m slammed against a hard floor and turned into a blotch. I shout at Senri and focus on my consciousness.
I immediately felt a presence. Something is climbing the wall at a high speed inside the darkness.
It’s not a living thing. But it’s not undead either.
Violent footsteps. The thing that was climbing the wall with the help of its long limbs was something I hadn’t seen before.
A black and smooth cylindrical body. It had no eyes, mouth or nose and was heading towards me with its sharp clawed limbs. It had a terrifying speed, despite being so strangely shaped.
Its center of gravity was extremely stable. Using such acrobatic movements with no disarray would be difficult even for Skeletons who have no free will.
From the looks of it, this object seems to know our location accurately despite lacking sensory organs. Behind me ―― Senri shouts from outside the door.
I search through my memories while in pain.
Golem. I’ve heard about it. It’s a living doll used by high-ranking mages.
Even though it’s getting closer and closer, I can hardly feel its presence. Neither the sound of its heart, the sound of its breathing and even its body temperature.
I can only hear its footsteps. So the echoing footsteps from before came from this thing.
I have confidence in my five senses, but I couldn’t notice anything before it got close. Looks like… the presence detection ability of the vampires is specialized in living creatures.
I blocked the sharp claws that were swung down like a whip from high above with my arms. The scorching pain that immediately runs through me makes me choke up.
Now that I look at it closely, both claws on the Golem are ―― made of silver. It has been discolored to black and it’s not the blessed silver like what Senri’s using, but there’s no doubt about it.
Pain transmitted from Sable’s curse and the pain from the purification disorient me. But my body moved according to the orders issued by my brain.
My trembling hands gripped the Blood Ruler that hangs at my waist and I held it aloft with all my might. Golem’s black body and my blade clashed violently and we were both blown away.
Golem slammed against the wall. I’m also thrown violently away. In desperation, I stab the wall with my fingers and affix myself to not fall down.
It’s pretty hard. Looks like it’s made of metal. I might’ve broken it if I was on the ground, I can’t quite muster up my power mid-air.
Golem hangs on the wall upside down, perhaps hooked with its claws, and jumps towards me with momentum. Its power and agility aren’t anything special, but the pain is stopping me from moving smoothly. Also, silver is unfair.
It probably won’t be destroyed with a few blows, but it’s far more troublesome than the army of the undead that only attacked relying on its numbers.
I rebuke my soul, that’s shaking from the pain, and move my arms, swinging it wildly like an amateur.
A hard resistance. Golem got stuck in the wall with a high-pitched metallic sound. A violent sound resounded and shook the air.
That was a critical hit. It had decent agility and stealth, but its skills and power weren’t anything special. Even with a handicap yielded this result.
The moment this bluff appeared in my mind, a dull impact ran through my whole body.
I look down. A thick arrow with a diameter of a few centimeters is stuck in my stomach. Senri calls my name.
“Kh… everything’s fine, no problems. Don’t come.”
A sharp sound of the wind. The arrow came flying from the depth of the abyss ―― the labyrinth section. Looks like that Golem was not alone.
Is this the defense system of the castle that belonged to the King of the Dead? I’ll use it as a reference.
I move my legs and knock down some arrows that come flying at me but several of them still pierce my lower body. My clothes are in tatters again.
But it looks like arrowheads don’t have silver in them. I feel a dull impact but the pain is canceled out by the pain from Sable’s curse so I’m not so sure.
“It’s a dilemma whether to add silver to it or not.”
But giving your own soldiers silver weapons can cause the worry of rebellion. That part’s a delicate situation, I guess.
I understand it after engaging with it in the fight. This Golem is assuming Senri ―― a Death Knight as its enemy. If it had taken any measures against the undead, it would have added silver to the arrowhead.
However, unleashing a long-distance attack just because its posture crumbled in mid-air is too nasty.
I want to regain my posture once, but I’ve fallen a lot. It would be difficult to climb the wall amidst the rain of countless arrows.
I casually pull out the arrows that had pierced me and tell Senri.
“Look down for a bit.”
I pull out my fingers that were stuck into the wall and entrust myself to the gravity without a moment’s delay.
It’s not that hard to fend off the arrows even when I’m in pain. In the worst case, I have to just avoid getting hit in the head.
The bottom immediately becomes visible. As expected, it’s quite a wide space. Stone walls and the floor that really make you feel their age. There are several Golems, similar to the close-range type Golem I just fought, at the bottom.
However, there’s a device attached to their hands that wasn’t on the previous Golem.
That’s a ―― crossbow. It’s a mechanical bow. It’s a powerful weapon that’s still actively used nowadays, even when guns have been invented.
But, even if their arrows are enough to blow off a human’s head, they’re too weak to kill a sturdy Lesser Vampire. I periodically fend off the downpouring arrows, while sometimes taking the hit and land on the ground. My knees bend because of the pain from the curse. I make use of the power of the fall and accelerate.
Absorbed in myself, I moved my body. By the time I noticed, the battle had already ended.
There were countless Golem remains on the floor. Golems were full of metal on the inside. I have no idea how these things were even moving.
I crouch and pull out the arrow that was still stuck in my body. Blood that started flowing for a second is instantly stopped by my regeneration ability.
I’ve escaped the predicament for the time being, but the numbers of the remains clearly don’t match the numbers I’ve fought. Looks like I let some of them get away.
I sigh deeply. Apparently, if my fighting spirit rises to the point of forgetting the pain, I end up losing my rationality too. It’s not a very good tendency.
Anyhow, I got the rough idea from the first match.
This is – a trap. I don’t think they can prepare Golems right away, so this is probably a trap that was prepared a long while ago. And this trap is made with Death Knights in mind.
The arrowheads give out a strange smell. Seems like they were coated with poison.
Senri shouldn’t come out. There’s a chance that she might die just from being grazed. The moment I tried to shout upwards, Senri came flying from the door above.
Her silver hair swayed up and her amethyst colored eyes shone quietly in the dark. She looked otherworldly beautiful.
Senri landed without making any sounds and looked around the remains of the Golems.
“I told you not to come.”
“I left Mister Lazar and the others behind.”
Looks like she’s going to come no matter what.
On the contrary, I didn’t mind if Mister Lazar and the others came. They might be useful as a wall…
Senri held out her hand.
“Let’s end it quickly and go back, End.”
“It’s a trap.”
The door is still open. Senri can fly and if I’m alert, I can deal with the attacks from the crossbow.
The words I said with such implicit intentions were met with Senri’s enchanting smile that I rarely saw.
“Then… protect me, End.”
High walls that were overly cautious against foreign enemies and a deep canal that was wrapped around the surroundings. Silver relief that’s inlaid here and there.
Looking at its exterior appearance, which had countermeasures one level above other big towns, the knight wrapped in silver armor groaned as if impressed.
“So this is where the decisive battle against that famous Mirage King took place ―― Dessend, huh?”
“Hmm… it’s a weird place. Is the crystal really in a place like this, Keeper?”
The boorish Blue-haired man standing next to him, Neville, turned around.
The man who had spent his whole hunting vampires, still maintained his killing intent similar to a deeply rooted conviction despite losing the reason behind his nickname, said with the usual condescending smile.
“Kukuku… I will only work enough for the pay I got. The crystal suddenly spread among the intelligent undead and necromancers recently. The power of the crystal is irrelevant to us, ordinary people, we can’t sense its aura. But, I can at least investigate its origin.”