Chapter 177 – Royalty!?
“It’s so easy to dig with this!”
Fule said as she continued to dig with the pickaxe made of Hihirokane.
“Aye, this Hihirokane isn’t bad.”
It felt heavier than Mithril.
And since it was apparently strong against shadow magic, perhaps it was also more durable.
However, when it came to ease of use when mining, the lighter mithril was still superior.
That being said, thanks to the power of ‘Cave King,’ the difference wasn’t too big.
Since Taran, Ashton, and Haines were helping, the path expanded ahead more like another room than a passage.
Just a little more, and we would be right under the temple with the throne.
On the other hand, Ogus and the others were standing behind us with pale faces.
“I-I can’t believe this…”
“I can believe in magic, but this…”
I answered Vanessa.
“Actually, this is like my main job… You know. The crest I was talking about earlier. My ‘Cave King’ crest shows its true power when I’m underground. And I can dig very well.”
Upon hearing this, Karla asked me in a quivering voice.
“So-so, it’s not magic?”
“Yes. I don’t use any magic energy at all.”
“I-I see. When you said you were going to dig, I thought you meant to spend the whole day digging…”
Vanessa nodded at this.
“It’s like how a mole monster digs through the dirt…this crest. What an amazing power.”
“Perhaps you and the people of Arancia also have them. Baris should be able to appraise your crests, and teach you how to do it.”
“So then maybe we also have some hidden power.”
Vanessa looked quite happy at this.
Though, she would have likely wanted to know of such a thing earlier.
But I felt a little conflicted.
It was true that these crests made life richer. But it also determines a person’s worth.
People are separated because of their crests—just like in my old country.
I would have to warn the people of Arancia, so the same thing would not happen to them.
At the very least, I would have to speak to Princess Alyssa about it.
After a while, I stopped swinging the pickaxe.
“…Judging by the distance, we should reach the temple soon.”
I said, and Ashton nodded.
“Yes, I’ve been counting the steps and there is no doubt about it. We are near the back of the temple.”
“Huh? You’ve been measuring?”
Fule asked, and Haines answered.
“My brother is very thorough when it comes to such things. He also remembers directions very well, and has never gotten lost.”
Ashton looked rather proud at this.
“Well, I suppose it really is right above us then. Alright, from this point on, I alone will start digging upwards. Fule, you cast Shield in front of me, and the rest of you stay on your guard. We don’t know for sure that there aren’t more Golems.”
They nodded, and I started digging upwards in the shape of a spiral staircase.
However, I did not sense any magical energy coming from above.
So it seemed like we didn’t have to worry about being attacked.
On the other hand, I could sense humanoid shapes of energy moving outside of the temple.
They were likely the Skeletons and Golems.
But their movements seemed oddly fast…
Also, farther away, there was magic energy spinning in a circle.
Was some kind of machine running?
I turned around to look at Mappa.
However, he was still standing there, completely asleep.
There was something suspicious about all of this…
His loud snoring felt exaggerated and unnatural. And surely even someone like Mappa could not craft things while asleep.
Well, at least I knew that he would never do anything to harm us.
And so it would be best to focus on the temple now.
It was with such thoughts that I continued to dig. And then a light appeared up ahead.
“It-its so bright…”
I squinted my eyes and then dug so that there would be an exit big enough to go through.
And then I stepped out onto the shiny golden floor. After a moment, my eyes became accustomed to the light, and I was able to take in the room.
The ceiling and walls were golden, just like every other place in this city.
But there was one difference.
There was a glass wall in the back, and behind it was a golden statue of a giant human head.
And around it were unfamiliar tables with metal and glass boards. And there were handles as well.
They were likely some kind of contraption. I had seen something similar in the undergrounds of Sheorl.
You would use them to activate something.
But what was that thing in the back… Wait, could it be?
“That face… Doesn’t it look a little like Old Mappa!?”
As Fule said, the giant head looked like Mappa.
The long hair and bushy beard.
But then again, all of the dwarves looked like that…
Still, looking at Mappa’s closed eyes now, they were almost exactly the same as the statue’s eyes.
The only difference was that the statue looked older, as it had more wrinkles.
That suggested it could be…
Ashton opened his mouth as if to infer.
“A statue in the far back of the temple… It must be the king of this city, or someone of equal importance.”
“Are you saying that Mappa is the king of this country!?”
Haines raised his voice in surprise as he turned to look at Mappa.
However, Mappa’s eyes remained closed as he faced the machines.
I suppose he wanted us to do something with them.
But I looked at Haines and shook my head.
“According to the Golems, Mappa was exiled from this city. I don’t see how the king would be exiled. But I suppose they could have decided that he was too young to be king, and there was a coup.”
“Well, it’s true that all kinds of problems would arise if your leader was barely clothed…”
Fule said with an odd expression.
“I think that a coup is unlikely. Besides, judging from the wrinkles, it would be safe to assume that it is based on some relative of Mappa. And…then Mappa was exiled.”
The Golems had said this when seeing Mappa.
Had the person that this statue was based on been the one to give the order?
What if it was Mappa’s own father…
That was just like what had happened to me. I felt conflicted.
But why would someone like Mappa be exiled?
Mappa was incredibly talented.
In the first place, what happened to the dwarves that were in this city?
There were also dwarves living in the undergrounds of Sheorl.
Perhaps they had left this city and spread out around the world. But judging by how intact this place was, I don’t see any reason for them to all leave.
It was possible that Mappa knew something, but…
In any case, I moved over to the machine.
When looking at it more closely, the statue was more detailed than I thought.
Not so much sacred as…almost disturbingly lifelike. The texture of the skin and hairs were recreated to perfection.
“However, this machine is also complex… I don’t know what I am supposed to push. Shiel, do you know?”
Upon hearing this, Shiel the slime jumped onto the machine.
After considering it for a moment, she pushed a square button that was protruding.
And then a red light suddenly started to flash, and an alarm started to ring loudly.
I didn’t know what it was saying, but it seemed to be warning of some danger..
Then the ceiling of the temple opened up so that we could see the sky, and the shadow began to rise until its body, arms and legs were exposed.
What appeared before us was larger than the Mappa Golem that protected Sheorl’s shores. It was a giant statue of a dwarf…only it was wearing armor.