To the Ruins
We landed in front of Mishka and Ash’s house, which was on the outskirts of the settlement. He must have sensed our presence, as the door immediately opened and Ash stuck his head out of the door.
“Is that you, Asagi?”
I ran up to him and showed him the flower. He knew at once that it was the Ijilis flower, and his voice shook.
“Thi-this… Thank you, Asagi…thank you!”
“Don’t thank us just yet. You need to have your wife drink it first.”
He took the flower and entered the house. Daniela and I hesitated but decided to follow him in.
It was quite spacious inside, and they even had all the necessary furniture. As they were a family of three, it felt more cluttered than the chief’s house.
And in the far back, I could see a wooden partition. And I could sense that there was someone behind it.
“Aye, over here.”
I heard a voice coming from the other side, and so I went over to look. A woman was sleeping in a bed. It was Mishka’s mother.
“My wife. Her name is Namil. Namil, this is Asagi. He brought us the Ijilis flower.”
Ash helped her as she tried to sit up. He gently lifted her body and supported her as she coughed weakly and bowed.
“…I am Nami. I had no hope… Really, I cannot thank you enough…”
“Take it easy, Namil. Wait a moment. I will prepare it right away.”
Ultimately, she recovered very quickly. After she drank the medicine that Ash had prepared, her illness seemed to vanish, and her expression became peacefully. The relief over this must have been immense, as she was now sleeping soundly. Mishka sat quietly next to her mother with a smile on her face.
“I did not expect it to work so quickly… It’s no wonder that it’s a legendary flower.”
“Didn’t I tell you? The Ijilis flower that you two found. It’s something that we’ve only ever heard stories about. A flower that only grows during the icesnow phase. Apparently, there not only has to be a lot of snow, but a lot of mana in the area…”
A lot of mana… Close to a dragon vein, perhaps?
“…Ah, so that’s why it was growing near those ruins.”
“It’s close to the mana of a dragon vein. That should be no surprise, given that it’s part of the Karma’s network.”
“I see. That is true…”
Daniela was satisfied with this answer, which suggested I was right.
Ash looked puzzled by our conversation but seemed to decide that it was none of his business and returned to staring at his wife’s face.
“Whatever the reason, you have my gratitude for finding the flower. Thank you, Asagi and Daniela.”
“It’s nothing…I’m just glad that we were able to help.”
We felt that there was no need to intrude any longer. It was time to return to the island.
I looked back once before leaving the house. Ash was crying silently. I really was happy to have been able to help such a loving family.
□ □ □ □
We left the settlement and returned to the island and once again lit the bonfire in the camp that Daniela had set up. Our surroundings were brightened all at once, but there was still no monsters in sight.
“We should sleep now, and investigate the ruins tomorrow.”
“Yeah… Well, let’s eat dinner first.”
“You worked hard today, Asagi. I will cook tonight.”
“Oh, I’m looking forward to…”
“Here you go.”
She handed me two skewers of meat that she ejected from her bracelet. I held them in my hands and sighed while looking up at the sky. It was clear tonight as well. The stars were so beautiful. Such scenery always enhanced your enjoyment of a meal…
“And I have soup.”
“Thank you. I’ll have some.”
Daniela chuckled happily. I couldn’t complain when she looked like that. If anything, the meat skewers seemed to taste better than usual.
Perhaps it was less about what you were eating and where, but where and with who you were eating with. And if I was with Daniela, the rest hardly mattered.
The next morning. We set out towards the ruins. The island was shaped like a small hill, and the trees were spread apart, which made it easy to walk through.
And it was as we walked up the gentle slope, that the church ruins came into view. According to Daniela, there was an entrance to the underground inside the building…
We entered through an opening that was once a front door, and Daniela pointed to the back. There was half a door. We pushed it open to reveal a stone staircase that spiraled downward.
“Surely this isn’t the entrance.”
“Of course not. It is the room below where I discovered it.”
I took out the magic illumination tools from my bag and handed one to Daniela. She raised it into the air as she led the way. And while there was unlikely to be any danger, I kept my hand on my sword as I followed after her.
At the end of the staircase, there was another door. This one was even more intact than the one behind us. I suppose it was due to being protected from the elements.
Daniela pushed it open. What was on the other side, was a sight I had never seen before.
“An underground graveyard. A catacomb.”
It was a large chamber that was filled with coffins. The walls were lined with old, unlit candles. Clearly they had been used at one time, but I had no idea when that was.
My eyes returned to the coffins, with their intricate engravings. I had never looked at a coffin this closely. My own grandparents had been quite healthy the last time I was in Japan.
Though, I had no idea how they were doing now. I wanted to believe that they were well.
“Over here. …Asagi?”
“Ah, sorry. Right.”
“Yes. There was a contraption inside of this coffin over here. And that opened a door.”
Daniela explained as she casually opened the coffin. I pushed away the feeling of repulsion and looked inside. There was a stone that glowed dimly. And there were glowing lines stretching out of it that lined the inner walls of the coffin.
“Huh. Now that’s a familiar sight.”
“These lines seem to exist in every ancient elven ruin.”
Daniela gently put her hand over the stone and sent a current of magic to it. Then the lines traveled out of the coffin and spread throughout the catacombs. It ran up walls and down to the floor. Once the intricate patterns surfaced, a door appeared.
“There it is.”
The ancient elven ruins would be behind it. Everything from here on would be new to Daniela. Previous ruins had been quite safe, but this one could be different. But the Karma Network should have spread the news about us. Surely we wouldn’t be greeted violently…
“We should go.”
Daniela urged as I stared at the door. What was waiting for us on the other side? I felt a mixture of expectation and worry.