Hugo had been living as an adventurer since he was 15 years old . The reason he went down that road, despite being aware of the dangers, was that he dreamed of making a fortune by discovering items within ruins . Pursuing a fantasy could not be said to be a particularly rare motivation for adventurers .
At any rate, he had been active as an adventurer for almost eight years . Although he was still a 23 years old young man, he was already a full-fledged adventurer .
Thus, based on all that experience he had, Hugo felt that the three individuals who were currently standing in his view were really atypical, especially the young tyrant that served as their leader . That applied to both his behavior as an adventurer and to his fighting capability .
As Hugo had expected, the monsters inside the ruins were more active than usual . The narrow spaces within the ruins were not suitable for fighting, so most adventurers would decide to retreat at this point . Therefore, naturally, Hugo advised the man to do just that .
However, the man’s only response was the word “coward” . On top of that, Hugo was forced to keep acting as a guide . With a sigh, he told himself “He’s a tyrant indeed”, even though he was the one whom had come up with that nickname .
“Still, he’s really strong…” Muttered Hugo, faced with a scene that he had seen many times already by now . At the robed man’s feet was the bleeding corpse of a monster that was cut up in three, with its head, upper body and lower body separated from each other .
It had appeared a few seconds prior, and it had ended up in this state as soon as it looked towards the group and thought of attacking them . Perhaps because this fight wasn’t as serious as the one against the groups of spiral moles, or perhaps because Hugo’s eyes had grown accustomed to this kind of sight, he was starting to be able to see the man’s movements, little by little .
In the fight just now, the robed man had drawn his sword from the scabbard that was hanging at his waist and powerfully cut off the monster’s head . As the man returned his sword to its initial position, he cut the monster’s upper and lower body in two equal halves . Because the man killed the monsters that easily, even Hugo who had battle experience, did not get a turn, let alone the robed man’s two companions that had been called baggage carriers .
Before Hugo realized it, the group was approaching the deepest area that had been reached by anyone so far in the ruins . Normally, anyone would have proceed with great caution up to here, because in most cases, upon encountering a monster, one would be forced to stay on standby or to escape, but there was no need to consider those things due to the robed man’s overwhelming strength .
As an adventurer, Hugo wanted to say that this was unfair; the common sense of exploring ruins did not apply to this robed man, to the point where he had no need to follow any of the regular, established tactics .
So, while Hugo was being dumbfounded by the situation, the group arrived at the deepest explored part of these ruins, which had taken them only a few hours .
【”This is as far as anyone has been . No one has ever advanced any further than here . ”】
As Hugo said that, his words echoed in the wide, circular room of 50 meters (164 feet) in diameter . Along the room’s walls, there was a spiral-shaped pathway, similar to the dome-shaped space close to the ruins’ entrance from before .
But what attracted one’s attention the most in the room was a gigantic gate that had patterns engraved on it . This tightly-closed door had never been opened .
That was because, to open it, it was necessary to solve the mechanism of the circular room . But that was a highly difficult task, for while there was some headway in solving said mechanism through using clues, such as the wall paintings that could be seen here and there on the gate as well as some letters that seemed to come from the ancient civilizations, the progress was still extremely slow among the ruins’ explorers .
One of the causes for that was that the Haibar ruins were relatively newly discovered, but in reality, the biggest barrier was those ancient letters . There was no decent data on them, and it was almost impossible to decipher them through speculations, even historians had classified these letters as “Lost characters” .
Strength alone was not enough to traverse these ruins, which is why exploring them was said to be so difficult .
Even the robed man would likely find himself at an impasse here . Thinking so, Hugo furtively threw a sidelong glance at the man . The robed man was staring at a certain point with his arms crossed, but it wasn’t clear what his facial expression meant at all . Following his line of sight, the man seemed to be looking at some of the ancient letters that Hugo had noticed earlier .
After looking at them for a while, the man suddenly muttered something .
【”Mmh, I see . ”】
【”You can actually read this!?”】
【”Naturally . ”】
【”No freaking way!”】
Even if scholars and specialists from all over the world researched those letters, their accuracy would be low, and they would be forced to use mere guesswork to read more than half of the text . It was only natural to be surprised upon being told that someone could decipher those characters that thoughtlessly .
If the man’s statement was true, then that would mean he held some extremely important knowledge that would unravel the history of the world . He would likely be in great demand in the research establishments from all around the world in the future . No, perhaps that was already the case .
【”By the way, what was written there?”】
【”『The light at the summit』『The origin of the stars』”】
【”…Yeah, even with the translation, I still don’t get it . ”】
Hugo, who couldn’t be said to be very knowledgeable, was not able to understand the meaning that seemed to be written behind those ancient letters .
The robed man, however, appeared to have come up with an answer, as he looked upwards and started searching for something . Soon, his eyes stopped on a certain spot, and he stepped towards the rising spiral-shaped pathway without saying anything . His two attendants and Hugo followed after him .
The group walked up to a height equivalent to the fourth or fifth floor of a building . There was no railing to hold onto on the passage and there were places where the ground was collapsed along the way, but the three robed people advanced without hesitation . Hugo started doubting whether they were capable of feeling fear at all .
He was the only one who struggled until the group finally arrived at one of the many small rooms that could be found along the pathway . However, most the small rooms in this area had already been explored, so there were no valuable treasures remaining .
This particular small room had a candlestick as big as an adult male in it, but that was also the case for all the other small rooms . However, the robed man sill approached it and lighted it up using fire magic . As a result, the room’s interior became brighter, but no other changes occurred besides that . Although Hugo expected him to be disappointed by this result, the robed man just closely observed the candlestick’s base, and spoke up .
【”Give me a torch . ”】
Thereupon, one of the attendants did as told and took out a one-meter-long (40 inches) wooden stick . Upon receiving it, the robed man put the torch in contact with the fire atop the candlestick and he transferred the fire from one object to the other .
He then left the small room while holding the lit up torch . He entered a different small room this time, which was a little further down the pathway, and he used the torch’s fire to once again light up the room’s candlestick . Afterwards, while occasionally deciphering the ancient characters that were written down in various places, the robed man kept going up and down the pathway and carried out the same action over and over again, lighting up a total of five candlesticks at the end .
The moment he lit up the last one, there was a rumbling sound in the ground followed closely by an earth tremor . Unable to believe what had just happened, Hugo left the small room to confirm the state of the gate that was down below; and he was at a loss for words .
The gate was open . Many adventurers had racked their brains through repeated trial and error, and yet, the gate had never let anyone in before .
Even so, the man had quickly solved the room’s mechanism like it was no big deal and went down the room’s spiral-shaped pathway, heading towards the now opened gate . Hugo could not help but question him .
【”H-hold on! How did you know how to open the door?”】
【”Well, the instructions to open it were thoughtfully written down . ”】
【”Is that what those ancient letters meant…?”】
Solving the mechanism was apparently this simple provided that one was able to perfectly read those ancient letters . Well, even so, the robed man might have been the only one in the world who could actually read them .
Who was he, really? His strength and knowledge were both extraordinary and far from any common sense .
Judging from his voice, he was still a young man, but Hugo felt like he would be able to believe it if he was told that he was actually a warrior, or a sage .
With no regards for what Hugo was feeling at the moment, the robed man proceeded further ahead . The space behind the door was wider and more artificial than the room from before . While in the previous room the ground was not smooth as it was made from gravel and sand, the ground in this space was an actual floor made of white stones; similarly to the ground, the walls in the previous room were rugged, like the rocky surfaces of a cave . But here, they were actually straight and made of the same white material as the floor . Furthermore, halfway through this space, massive pillars, some exquisite sculptures and other elaborate works were put on display .
Above all that, this place was unimaginably bright for a space situated within the ruins . Looking carefully, the floor, the walls and the ceiling were made of light stones . That being the case, it was a different type of light stones from the ones that could be seen elsewhere in the ruins . They had a white glow, quite different from that of the sunlight, which illuminated this space that was originally dark, and yet they didn’t give off an excessive brightness that pierced one’s eyes . Rather, they gave off a soft light with a warm feeling to it . Just taking the walls and bringing them back would be considered making a good earning .
However, these kinds of intentions would not arise in anyone, thanks to the sacred atmosphere that enveloped the white walls of this place . For comparison’s sake, this space appeared to be like the majestic temples that would come up in tales and legends . Even Hugo, who had never really been religious, could not even consider defiling this place .
For a little while, the only sound that could be heard was the echo of the four people’s footsteps, and after the group advanced a little further, even that sound disappeared .
“Amazing…” Hugo unconsciously muttered so . He was so amazed that he himself was not aware he had spoken up as his eyes remain glued to the ceiling .
The group of four had finally arrived at a certain room in which an altar was set up . Like it was the case on the way there, there was an otherworldly atmosphere in the room, but the most overwhelming part of it was actually the ceiling, which was embedded with numerous huge crystals . There were several hundreds of those surrounding a single, thick crystal that was probably around 5 meters (200 inches) in length .
The sparkle that came from the reflection of the white light stones’ light on the crystals gave one the delusion that the stars of the night sky had dropped and came within hands reach .
Thus, while Hugo had his breath taken before the superb view, the robed man bluntly marched into the tranquil and sacred room, without immersing himself in those kinds of sentiments . Hugo was more than shocked by the man’s boldness; it was quite astonishing .
Yet, when the man stood before the treasure chest that was placed atop the altar for offerings, he slowly gave a deep bow . Hugo felt that was quite surprising .
Self-centered and arrogant; that was the image Hugo had of the man . So, before, he had not taken him for someone who would be conscious of manners .
The man raised his head and put his hands on the treasure chest . However, it did not open up; it only made a rattling sound .
So as to take a peek, Hugo approached until the treasure chest was close at hand . Apparently, a key was necessary to open it .
【”What are you going to do?”】
【”…Can’t open it without a key? That only applies in a world that’s managed by a system . ”】
Hugo did not understand the meaning of those words . However, before he could question him about that, the man took action .
He drew the sword that was sheathed at his waist, and before anyone could stop him, a flash had reached the treasure chest . There was a high-pitched sound followed by the sound of something falling down .
The man had destroyed the chest’s lock without hesitation . Having witnessed that, Hugo corrected his remark that the robed man was conscious of manners .
Well, more importantly…
【”So, what’s the treasure?”】
Hugo’s nature as an adventurer manifested itself .
But while he was getting excited about what had come from the treasure chest in front of him, he suddenly heard strange noises coming from somewhere, as if something was being cracked . Curious, he looked around in his surroundings but he couldn’t get a grasp of where those strange sounds were coming from . As he kept looking around, the noises were becoming louder and louder, and more numerous .
Then, Hugo, who was still confused, perceived something at the edge of his field of vision . When he looked there, there were the tiny and transparent fragments of an object that reflected the room’s light . Moreover, there weren’t just two or three of them, several of those fragments had dropped to the ground .
Hugo had a bad feeling about this . Following that presentiment, he looked upwards .
There, was a group of several hundreds of crystals with countless cracks running through them; they were probably going to break and fall very soon .
【”Hey, this is bad! Hurry and esca――”】
But Hugo never got to finish his sentence . Countless fragments of crumbled crystals rained down incessantly . Then, under the cover of those fragments, something got down from the ceiling with a roaring sound .
While basking in the glow of the sparkling rain of falling crystals, a spherical, metallic object of about 3 meters appeared . Although Hugo wondered what this was and what this occurrence meant, he did not reach an answer, however it seemed like this sphere had been hidden in the group of crystals .
【”This thing, just what in the world…?”】
Hugo hesitatingly approached the mysterious object . As he worried about what he should do, a change occurred within the sphere .
With a loud noise, some parts of the metal sphere were stripped off, and two red lights lit up from there . In addition, two sharp arms appeared from it, followed by eight feet that came out from the lower part, lifting up its whole metallic body .
Through the dexterous movements of those legs, the sphere turned towards Hugo and the others, and there was clear hostility burning inside its lit up parts that looked like two red eyes .