Chapter 199 – It Was A Mysterious Ritual!?
There was something eerie about the quiet atmosphere of the holy place.
Even Rulat, who lived here, was sweating down his neck as he saw that there was no one around.
No, perhaps this was what he had feared would happen.
Fule asked Rulat.
“…You really don’t know? What are they doing?”
“I didn’t say that I don’t know. It is a ritual. I just don’t know what kind of ritual.”
“So you don’t actually know…”
Fule muttered, but Rulat fired back.
“It’s not my fault! In the first place, this ritual was only supposed to happen at the promised time!”
In other words, the ritual could only be done once.
“This promised day, is that different from the day of the prophecy you were talking about earlier? Something about the darkness swallowing up the world?”
I asked, and Rulat shook his head.
“The ritual is supposed to take place when the day of the prophecy is near. And then, along with the king of the underground, we will face the day of the prophecy…that was how it is supposed to be.”
“I see. However, who is to say when the day of the prophecy is close?”
“The king of the underground will decide. And then the temple doors will open…is what they say.”
I suppose it was an old legend that was passed down through the royal family. And so no one actually knew who this king of the underground was.
Just then, Fule asked the question that had been on her mind.
“But, doesn’t Arancia already have a king? And then there is this king of the underground? Which one has more authority?”
After thinking about this for a moment, Rulat replied.
“That’s… Well, the king must be a friend to the Arancian King, and to us.”
“Hmm… I think you may be fooled?”
“Shu-shut up! The story has been passed down through the royal family! That’s impossible.”
So it being passed down was the only reason he believed it.
But it could have just been passed down because it was advantageous to the royal family…that was definitely a possibility.
And like Fule said, it was also possible that they were being tricked.
Someone with malicious intentions could have created the story… No, maybe that was too much of a stretch.
“In any case, let’s be careful and continue on our way. So, where are the doors to this temple?”
“Near the shore…there. Over there.”
Rulat pointed to a great tree near the lake.
There was grass growing underneath the tree, but…I could also see some unnatural stonework.
And when we went closer, we found that there was a staircase that led underground.
Fule looked at it and grimaced.
“That looks ominous…”
“We-well, let’s go in.”
Said Rulat, but Fule told him to wait.
“It looks like this is the only way in or out. It’s too dangerous to charge right in.”
“Aye. I’ll inspect it with magic energy first.”
I said, and then concentrated on the ground below.
I could sense the magic energy of many humanoids standing in rows underground. There were nearly three thousand of them, so the place must be very big.
And most strangely, none of them were moving. But I didn’t think that they were dead…
But when I looked closely, I saw that there was something off about the way that their magic energy moved.
The magic energy was moving from the people who stood, and it gathered towards a single point in the back.
“Rulat…I can detect magical energy. And there is clearly something wrong with everyone down below. They are all standing, but they are not moving at all.”
“My guess is that…they may be under some spell. I can sense a very powerful magic in the back.”
Rulat looked very worried when I said this.
While I said powerful, it wasn’t as powerful as someone like Elto. Just powerful for a human.
I doubted that it was powerful enough to detect my magic energy…but perhaps the machines in the holy place had already done that.
“…Leave this to me.”
I said. And Rulat nodded silently.
And so I began to slowly and quietly descend from the staircase.
As there were torches on the walls, it wasn’t particularly dark.
After going down for about thirty seconds, the end of the staircase came into view.
Without making a sound, I peered into the area that was at the end of the staircase…
The place was…
There was a vast chamber, and about three thousand humans were standing there in rows.
And in the far back, there was something that looked like an altar.
And on top of the altar, was what looked like a coffin.
That coffin was what was gathering the magic energy.
…Still, this really was eerie.
Everyone that was here was completely still, and did not make a sound.
It was then that Rulat called out to a young man who was standing nearby.
“He-hey. What happened to everyone…?!”
Expressionless, the man turned to face Rulat.
And then, the others also silently turned towards Rulat. Of course, not a word was uttered.
Even Rulat now understood that something was wrong.
…Was this some form of brainwashing?
There was something like a crystal that was glowing near the coffin. Perhaps that was the cause of this.
“Rulat, let’s go! We’re going to bring these people back to their senses.”
And so we ran past the glaring humans and moved towards the altar.
However, just when we were about to reach the altar, the coffin suddenly opened.