Where The Ruins Are
We arrived at the top after about ten minutes of walking. And then I slowly looked over the edge, which was steep like a cliff.
“Hmm… It’s pretty deep.”
There was also some heat, but nothing like magma. I had half expected it to be filled with the stuff. But then again, they had said that it was dormant for a very long time.
Still, a volcanic mountain was a volcanic mountain. And it was quite warm.
“Well, since we’re talking about an ancient elven ruin, you can’t rule out the possibility of it being in such a place.”
“Indeed… But we cannot see much from here. Asagi. Can you?”
“Yeah, leave it to me.”
And so I used Eyes of the God Wolf and moved my vision down into the mouth. While I could have also used Legs of the God Wolf to go down directly, I was afraid of the gases. Even from where we stood, I could smell the sulfur. It would be much worse inside.
Could the ruins really be located in such a dangerous place?
“Well, perhaps we should prepare our lunch while Asagi searches.”
I heard them say, and then sensed that they were leaving. They were probably going somewhere where the ground was flat. There had been a spot like that on the way up.
I returned my thoughts to the search. With Eyes of the God Wolf, I could search without having to worry about where my feet were or seeing through smoke.
And I didn’t feel any fatigue from using it ever since I got my new equipment. I felt like I was the God Wolf. I was united with the skill.
As I went lower, I saw magma within the smoke. A sea of red, melted stone that bubbled. It was hard to imagine how hot something had to be in order to melt your average rock, but after looking at the magma, I felt like I had an idea. Now, I just had to try and not imagine what would happen if I touched it.
And so I searched the area for a few minutes. And then something caught my eye.
It was at the lowest point of the side of the cliff. I could hardly believe it at first. In a place like this…
“…I found it.”
I had a feeling. If I wanted to hide something important, where would be a good place? Tight security. A strong gatekeeper. Such things could be secured, but it would be easier to put it in a place where it could not be stolen.
And they had thought like that in the past as well.
Hiding behind the gas, was a large gate and double doors. Would humans hide something in a place like this? Would ogres? …Ogres might.
Perhaps it had been built by ogres originally. Regardless, it was now owned by the ancient elves. It was the second facility, Kimon.
□ □ □ □
As I had found the door to the facility, I deactivated Eyes of the God Wolf and returned to where Daniela and Levee were. They were preparing lunch. They had even pitched their tents. I suppose they didn’t expect that I would find anything, and we’d have to camp here for the night.
And so they were very surprised when I told them that it had been easy.
“You found it already?”
“Yeah. There’s a big door just to the side of the crater where the magma is.”
“I see… From experience, there should be toxic gasses. It will be dangerous to go near.”
Of course, I had a solution for that. There were no gas masks in this world, but you could easily use something else instead.
“Daniela just needs to use her wind magic. Right?”
“Aye, we could go right now.”
“That’s good. But we should eat first.”
Levee was stirring a pot of soup. And around the fire, Daniela had prepared some skewered meat that sizzled loudly.
My appetite was stimulated. And the two chuckled when they heard my stomach growl.
“Yes, let’s eat first.”
“There is no point in rushing. A Hero once said that you can’t fight on an empty stomach. I fully support that opinion.”
“But you’re always hungry.”
I blurted as Daniela held her fist in the air. And then the fist came down on me.
□ □ □ □
I finished eating the meal that they had prepared and then used Eyes of the God Wolf to search the area around ‘Kimon.’ There really was a lot of gas, but thanks to my thorough search, I was able to find something good.
It was some ancient stairs. Perhaps it had been hit by falling rocks, as some of it had been carved away, but the staircase along the walls could still be used. Of course, there weren’t any handrails to keep you safe, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
It started at a small clearing in front of the ruins and stretched upwards until it connected to a cave. Another cave…
“Did you find something?”
“There are stairs, but instead of connecting to the ruins, they led to a cave. It’s too dark to see what is inside.”
“And where is the entrance to this cave?”
“Well… I think it would be easier if I showed you.”
There was no point in just finding the exit. We wouldn’t be able to get in. I thought I might be able to figure it out by looking into the exit, but it was too dark. And I wasn’t able to use Nighteyes and Eyes of the God Wolf at the same time.
In that case, it would be best for me to go down there while carrying Daniela. That had been my original plan.
“So we’ll just ignore the stairs. I’ll carry you and go down with Legs of the God Wolf. Then you can use wind magic to get rid of the gas. I’ll do something about the heat.”
“Fine. And you can stay right here, Levee.”
“It seems I have no choice…”
We had discussed it already, and so Levee acted like an adult and sat back down by the fire. I had thought she was a complete nutcase at first, but she could be surprisingly reasonable…
“See you later, master.”
“I’m not your master!”
“Hehe. It is only a joke. You are going to an unknown place. Be careful. Both of you.”
The fact that I couldn’t quite tell if she was really joking was all the reminder I needed that she wasn’t quite right.
In any case, it was good that someone would be watching the camp while we were gone. And with that, we headed towards the top of the mountain.
I looked down into it again. From what I could see, there wasn’t that much smoke, but it spread out a lot. And so we would need to protect ourselves before going in.
“Alright…come over here.”
She was used to being carried like this now. There used to be a little embarrassment over it, but this way was safe and easier. If I needed to free one hand, Daniela’s arms would be enough to support her.
Daniela used magic to create a wind barrier, and once I was sure that it was working, I jumped lightly into the mouth of the volcano.
“How high is it?”
I wasn’t able to measure things by sight alone. Even using buildings or stadiums to give an idea of scale had always been difficult for me to grasp.
As we talked, I gathered the mana towards me and added some deep blue to the current. The ice magic flowed out of my body and surrounded us. Now we were protected from the heat.
I kept the wind around my legs as calm as possible in order to not disturb the cold barrier of wind. We were now moving slow enough that I could take in the details around us.
“I have never seen anything like this before.”
“Me neither. It’s not something most people would ever see.”
No one would come near here. It was too dangerous.
There were holes and parts that had been carved away. Perhaps by earthquakes and falling rocks. But some of them looked like they had been gouged. Still, it was likely all natural. Gas was leaking out of these holes and cracks as well. They had said that it hadn’t erupted in a very long time, but…
“It looks like it could erupt at any moment.”
“I am worried as well. But my knowledge of volcanic mountains is lacking. Do you know a lot about them?”
“Not at all. This is getting scary. Let’s get this over with as quickly as possible so we can leave.”
Daniela’s arms tensed around my neck. I felt tense too, just carrying her.
We kept moving while clutching one another. The road of magma would end soon. The clearing I saw earlier came into view. If I squinted, I could see the large door as well. There seemed to be some kind of design engraved on it. I wonder what it meant?
We slowly descended into the clearing, but I didn’t put Daniela down. We were still very close to the magma. And the gas here was heavier than air. It was likely thick around where we stood. That meant we couldn’t deactivate the barriers. Hell, it was still very hot.
“Hmm… Honestly, that does not look like an ancient elven ruin.”
“This is ogre island. Maybe it was made to be closer to their architecture.”
“Indeed. That is likely.”
“What are the chances it has nothing to do with the elves?”
“Haha. Surely not.”
Now I was worried. Without anything to support it, I had assumed that no one else would have built something in a place like this. But ogres would likely be incredibly tough…
“…Well, you know… The map did point us to this island…”
“Ye-yes… Perhaps once we take a step inside…it will be the typical elven architecture…”
We tried to erase each other’s fears. And it was with this awkwardness, that we stood in front of the large doors.
However, both my hands were occupied. The doors had handles on them, but something told me they wouldn’t open easily.
“Daniela. Could you…”
“Ah, hey. Look.”
As I was considering what to do, Daniena pointed with her jaw. When I looked, I saw the door slowly opening. It was as if we were being invited in.
They kept opening. How many years had it been since they were last opened? Dust filled the air and swirled in the current as it rose.
Everything was moving so slowly. It almost felt like we had stepped into an entirely different world. But not in a bad way. It was hard to describe. But like listening to hymns in a quiet church, perhaps.
Up until now, the ruins had been found in inverted towns or within old, underground cities. So there was something about this one that felt different.
And now it was opening up in front of us. It was like a scene from a movie.
I glanced towards Daniela. She also looked like she was moved to the point of speechlessness.
The gap was almost wide enough for us to walk through together. But for some reason, I didn’t move a muscle, and waited for the doors to open completely. We didn’t want to rush it. And so we stared as if wanting to engrave this scene into our minds.
Eventually, the doors stopped, and the dust settled. Daniela’s lips slowly moved.
“…I do not know what it is that I feel… But it feels like gaining a lifelong treasure.”
“I was thinking the same thing. …Let’s go.”
Only my feet echoed in the silent space.
A lot had happened, but we were finally here. We should be careful. So…would we find ogres or elves…?