My cry of triumph echoed from the hole. I wiped at the dirt on my cheek, in effect, smearing it further. But I didn’t care about that at all. After all…
I had finally discovered the underground entrance!
“How could I not be happy! I want to tell Daniela! Yes!!”
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I had to concentrate the power of Legs of the Forest Wolf to a small point in the hole a few times…it sounds simple, but it was actually very hard on me. I had to remove a lot of the soft dirt first, and there was so much of it.
I was positively exhausted after just a few rounds of that. And using the skill was hard on my nerves, causing me mental exhaustion as well. And yet I continued to dig until my hands hit something hard.
Frantically, I brushed away the dirt to reveal a hatch. There was a kind of circular door with a handle, the kind you might see in a submarine. It was buried in the ground. What on earth could it be, if not an entrance?
And that was how I found the door to the hidden area.
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In any case, that was the reason for my cry of triumph. But I had only just discovered the door. Now, I would go inside.
“Alright…here we go…!”
I grabbed the handle with both hands and tried to turn it. …But it would not be turned. Was I pulling the wrong way? I tried the other direction. And then it turned. There was a hiss as the old air below joined the the air of the surface. The space that had been locked away for a thousand years was there, but it did not smell particularly strange. I guess it was the effect of the preservation magic.
Still, I was glad that it opened. It could very well have been a door that was locked to anyone who was not a descendant of the old elves. I was quite relieved to see that the ancient elves were big-hearted in that regard.
I lifted the door and saw that there was a ladder inside. There were lines carved into the walls that let off a dim glow. I would not need a lantern then.
But I was cautious as I went in, as there was no telling what might be waiting inside. And so I descended the latter slowly. Even after touching it, the material of the ladder was a mystery to me.
Clang. Clang. The metallic sounds echoed as I descended. It took about three minutes until my feet hit the ground. When I was standing on my two feet, I turned away from the ladder to see that there was a straight path leading out up ahead. There were no other paths. This was the kind of linear map you might find in a shitty video game.
In any case, I used Presence Detection as I made my way forward. Unsurprisingly, there were no living things to detect, all I could sense was the environment preservation magic. It was likely due to the magic that this place still existed like this. Powerful stuff.
As I continued to walk, I saw that there was a door to my side. But the path still continued on ahead… But I suppose I could take a little detour and explore. Checking every room I come across is the Asagi way, so I wasn’t going to pass it.
I turned the doorknob and pushed. It was not locked and there didn’t seem to be any traps. The room inside was the size of four and a half tatami mats. There was a pile of things against the back wall.
It would be the most embarrassing thing if I entered the room, the door closed, and I was locked in forever. And so I was sure to open the door as wide as I could and fix it in place with ice. Once I was sure it was secure, I moved deeper into the room.
There were lines of glowing light along the walls of the room like in the hallway, and so I could see clearly. I could see what was piled up.
The things that were all piled up there, were dolls. They weren’t moving, but they were the type that could move on their own. Automata, I think. The bones were completely visible on some, while others had a skin-like material covering them. I didn’t know how they worked, so turning them on would not be possible. But this was definitely something that would excite researchers and enthusiasts. Though, they were thrown in a pile as if they had no importance.
One of them…looked to be in especially good condition, and so I pulled it out for inspection. It had no visible damage. Its arms and legs were not twisted in impossible directions. It was good as new. By the way, it was a female model. This was most evident by the lack of clothing and rather questionable level of detail in the anatomy. Well, perhaps it was used for such things. Maybe the ancient elves were enormous perverts.
“I wish I could take this with me… But not sure if I have the courage to carry this and walk out there.”
It was a naked body that wasn’t breathing. I would look like a murderer. Even if it was a doll, I couldn’t be so careless with it. Things that were dead and motionless could be stored in the hollow bag, but if this thing moved… I wonder what would happen? Could a moving object be stored?
“I have many questions, but I have to move along for now.”
Well, maybe by the time I came back I would have the nerve to take it with me. And so I took it out of the room and left it in the hallway. There were other undamaged dolls as well…but I wouldn’t be able to carry more than one.
“Alright, let’s go.”
I deactivated the magic and closed the door. For a moment I wondered if taking it out and closing the door would turn the thing on, but it didn’t. Maybe it was the environment protection. In any case, I would leave it for now.