Chapter 65 – Those that Swallowed the Nahak (2)
Sungchul continued the same way he did on the first floor . However, he noticed something different compared to the walls on the first floor as he worked his way through . There were bones which seemed to belong to some animal or even human .
A pile of bones emerged between the brick and mortar masonry wall . Considering more than a few bones were coming out, Sungchul couldn’t help but be curious .
He stopped working for a moment to peer at the surface of where he broke the wall . There were countless skeletons stacked within . Sungchul gripped the surface with his hand and easily pulled it apart, and when he did, he discovered a skeleton that had managed to keep its original form intact .
Sungchul’s pupils shrank . These were human skeletons trapped in between the walls . They weren’t ones of the avian race . Perhaps, they were buried alive as they were constructing this dungeon . It wasn’t just one or two people, but thousands to tens of thousands of individuals that made up this graveyard .
Sungchul finally said, “It looks as though the Nahak were quite the cruel race . ”
“According to legend, the Nahak were known to be an arrogant and cruel race . More than anything, they didn’t have a shred of mercy towards the other races . These corpses were probably once slaves . ”
Bertelgia flew about the intact skeleton and explained what she knew .
“Even if that was the case, they did something unimaginable; burying all these living people inside a wall . Those Birdbrains . ”
“Why did they do this?” asked Sungchul . There was a gentle fury beneath his voice .
“Couldn’t it be to gather their magical power? You know, using their pain and anguish as nourishment?”
“I would really like to see a living Nahak . ”
Sungchul fixed his grip on his hammer as he muttered . His work began once again . The wall fell, and the skeletons within poured onto the floor . This repeated several times until he reached the end of the second floor . Sungchul put his back to a bedrock and took a brief rest . It had been a while since he had used up his strength like this, and he was feeling a bit peckish .
‘Should I make a meal?’
However, this was not a good place to eat . Sungchul doesn’t eat just anywhere .
He turned back towards the path he had created, but then witnessed a strange occurrence along the way . Something was huddled over in the distant darkness, gluttonously eating the bones on the floor .
Crunch . Crunch .
Bertelgia tensed her body at the definite sound of chewing bone coming from the distance .
“Uuu… What is it this time? I really want to leave now . ”
Sungchul walked over to the creature in question without another word . The creature lifted its head as Sungchul drew close, then let out an ear-piercing scream .
It was a sound that wasn’t quite human nor beastly, but almost mechanical in nature . Sungchul acknowledged the intricacies of the sound but focused more on the creature’s appearance . It looked quite human, but the skin was sickly pale, and the face was so grotesquely twisted that it was difficult to look at without grimacing .
The creature’s most striking features were the empty spaces where eyes should have been and the rows of what should be called teeth . The teeth grew randomly and chaotically all over its mouth, and some even punctured through and stuck out of the face tissue .
Bertelgia dropped out of the air as if she had fainted when she saw the hideous appearance of the monster . Sungchul picked her up off the floor and placed her into his pocket before glaring at the creature .
“Get lost . ”
But the creature did not move . It let out a monstrous cry instead and lunged at him
His hammer destroyed the creature’s skull and sent it flying off back into the darkness . The broken teeth scattered made clinging noises as they fell onto the floor .
“… . ”
Sungchul glanced into the darkness . An incalculable number of those creatures approaching this location; silently and stealthily .
Sungchul briefly took a moment to strategize . The question was whether to kill all of the incoming monsters or to simply retreat from here . In the end, he chose to erase his presence and retreat from this place . He was feeling a bit hungry, and it might reduce his long-awaited appetite dealing with the grotesque monsters . He put the gathering creatures behind him and climbed back up through the hole he had created before . There were several members of the exploratory unit loitering outside the hole . When they saw Sungchul, they asked a question out of surprise .
“W-who are you?”
Sungchul looked at every one of their faces . There were five in all . A party composed of two magicians and three soldiers . He couldn’t see Mikhael or Mimi . Sungchul pointed towards the piece of cloth attached to his person then spoke .
“I am number 34 . ”
“Number… 34? Just what are you doing down here in a place like this?”
“I just came down because I saw a hole . Some fun things seem to be crawling around . ”
“Something… fun? Are you talking about the Nahak Skeletons?”
Sungchul shook his head .
“The monsters were blind and had a humanoid form, crawling around in droves . . ”
The faces of the exploratory unit members who heard Sungchul’s words grew sour .
“It sounds like he’s seen the Cave Elves . ”
“Well, they were once existences known as Cave Elves to be exact . Their race was enslaved and brutally exploited by the Nahaks, but after their extinction, it’s the Cave Elves that control the dungeon now . They are strong, persistent, and intelligent . They are extremely dangerous . ”
It was at this moment that a piercing shriek rang out .
It was the cry of the blind monsters . The members of the exploratory unit turned pale as sheets, then hurried to leave the place .
“L…let’s return quickly . Scouting, schmouting, we’re all about to die!”
The members of the exploratory unit disappeared into the darkness as if their pants were on fire . Sungchul had given them a small service . He blocked the hole with a large boulder just in case the blind creatures came through it . After blocking his personal entrance Sungchul continued to follow the path he created .
The brunch for the day was fish . Sungchul jumped into the ice-cold water with a harpoon in hand . There were massive dark creatures swimming in the shadowy water . They were known as the Demon Fish and they lived in the seas along the frontlines of the Demon Realm . They were about as large as an adult male . One of the fish discovered Sungchul, opened its maw, then leaped towards him .
The harpoon pierced its forehead . The blood pouring out from its wound dissipated into the water like smoke . The large fish struggled once or twice, but as Sungchul’s fist came down upon its head a few times, it gave up .
Sungchul grabbed the massive fish that was about his size with just his arms . A swarm of sharks that smelled blood in the water began to gather . He grabbed the fish’s gills to tear off its head, which he fed to the sharks, then headed leisurely towards the shore . The cooking utensils were already kept prepared on land .
“Goodness . At least you’re diligent in preparing food . ”
Bertelgia, who could not consume food, spoke as such while flapping in the air .
Sungchul pulled out a blade from his Soul Storage . By the bluish light emitting from it, it had to be some legendary sword . There was a beautifully engraved symbol of a lion representing the human empire on its grip . It was a gift from the Emperor that was coveted by every knight within the Human Empire, but for Sungchul, its use was solely for cooking . The blue tinted blade plunged into the silvery scales of the Demonic Fish, then shook in a flashy manner causing all the scales to fall off quickly . When the fish was descaled, Sungchul left with the fish and headed towards the boiling pot .
Within the pot were dried vegetables, fish, mushrooms, and various other things for a soup stock . Sungchul used a ladle to get a taste .
“Mmm . ”
The flavouring was proper . Sungchul sliced off a slab of meat from the fish, sliced it paper thin, then placed it on top of a plate . Chopsticks appeared from within the Soul Storage .
He grabbed a slice of fish, dipped it briefly into the boiling soup, then put it in his mouth . The deep flavour of the soup along with the rich flavour of the fish melted together deliciously in his mouth .[The score of this recipe is… 63!]
The score appeared before his eyes, but he didn’t mind it . He solemnly gazed out taking in the scenery of the Demon Realm as he continued his meal alone . When he was done with the appetizer, Sungchul added dry noodles to the fish soup that was left to simmer and began to boil the pot .
Once the noodles softened up, Sungchul moved it to a bowl and poured the soup on top . Blowing on the steaming noodles, he gulped it down .
“Mmm . ”
It had a great taste . He could feel his mind and body being reinvigorated .
“Quite the dedication to food . Really . Every meal . ”
When the meal ended, Bertelgia began to pout as though she had been waiting for him the entire time .
“It is important to eat well . ”
Sungchul grabbed the half-eaten fish by the tail, then tossed it toward the ocean . It made a huge splash and made some waves . He then extinguished the fire beneath his pot and washed his dishes in the ocean . It was a wonderful experience to cook, but doing the dishes was always tedious . Sungchul didn’t particularly like to do it .
“I wish I had a familiar to do my dishes . ”
Sungchul muttered to himself as he cleaned the pot and placed it into his Soul Storage .
“Hmph! What are you talking about?! I am a privileged lady that has never soiled her fingers with chores in her life!”
“That doesn’t really sound like something to boast about . ”
“Keep a homunculus or two if you want someone around to do your dishes . ”
“I don’t have a hobby of keeping around those noisy things . ”
“How about a Cave Elf? I think they’ll be quiet as long as they aren’t shrieking . ”
“Well… Those monsters might be preferable to a homunculus when it comes to noise . ”
Sungchul suddenly recalled the woman that herded around the five homunculi . She held the title of Captain of the Exploratory Unit, but she was simply a puppet . The actual authority seemed to be held by Willie’s son, Mikhael .
‘That woman . Her eyes were fierce . ’
He had yet seen her capabilities, but to be placed as the Exploratory Unit’s Captain by Willie personally meant that her abilities would be comparable to a court mage . Someone of that level quietly enduring insult from a greenhorn Sword Master was unheard of, and that is even after taking into consideration the characteristics of the Ancient Kingdom . That group was bound to have problems in the future . Not that he cared one way or the other .
Sungchul, who had satisfied his hunger, returned to the dungeon . However, the dungeon he returned to had changed in several aspects . The blind monsters were now present every corner .
The monsters could not see Sungchul who stood in front of them . They had no eyes . Instead, the monsters differentiated objects through sound and smell .
The monster’s upturned nose began to sniff the air . Sungchul snuck through them like a ghost and headed towards the second-floor entrance . The stone was still in the place he left at . This meant that nothing had left through this hole .
Sungchul changed his path to descend down the stairs . There was a large quantity of Cave Elves lingering around the vicinity of the stairs . He slipped by them soundlessly toward the second floor . When he reached the second floor, he found out why the Cave Elves had been flushed out to the first floor . It was because the immovable black door had been flung open . There was a spherical proof of the Nahak placed in the hole . The spherical mark of the Nahak gave off a brilliant light as it sat in the alcove of the altar .
When Sungchul pulled away the symbol of the Nahak from the altar, the obsidian door immediately shut again . He put away the symbol into his pocket and began to ponder on a question .
‘Just who opened this door?’
Nothing was confirmed . It was at that moment when a sharp shriek began to chorus on the floor above .