We proceeded slowly and carefully.
A pure white hallway greeted us as we passed the statues and entered the building.
However, the hallway was blanketed in darkness.
A blue light lit up the hallway as if to sneer at Carmen when he tried to ignite the torch he had prepared.
He looked back at us and smiled awkwardly.
“I’m going to take this since it’s already lit.
You never know when those lights will go out.”
I reached out to Carmen.
“Then I’ll take the torch since I’m not carrying anything.
All of my weapons are one-handed anyway.”
Among Carmen’s armaments, he had a bow, so it was only right for me to carry the torch.
He bowed slightly to show his gratitude and handed the torch to me.
A huge door greeted us as we moved deeper into the structure.
The center of the door was covered with complex characters.
It had a lot of modifiers and flowery language, but it simply said:
Prove the royal blood running through your veins.
So, these were ruins where you could take everything for free if you had the blood of the ancient royal family.
Of course, it was a secret that I could read the ancient languages, so Tonisa stepped forward, glanced at the inscriptions on the door, and said to Carmen.
Without the blood of the ancient royal family, we must prepare ourselves for battle.”
It was possible that it would be difficult for only four people to leave these well-preserved ruins alive.
We all looked to Carmen.
The party’s leader and the employer were Carmen, so it was entirely up to him to step back and bring in more people or go further.
Carmen stared at the door.
“Isn’t there another way written?”
But, personally, I think it would be a good idea to try getting in, as we can just run away with the key in an emergency.”
As if the silence up until now was simply because there was no need to speak, Tonisa spoke clearly and bluntly, not like a wizard at all.
Succus, standing next to her, nodded as if she was right.
“I agree with her.”
As Succus finished speaking, Carmen’s gaze turned to me.
I answered with a quiet smile.
“I think it would be good to go in and try since we’re already here.”
“Everyone came here because you wanted something, so let’s be as careful as possible.
Only those with courage can get a woman with a wide heart and precious treasures.
Succus, open the door.
I’ll cover you.”
As Succus wore the thickest armor among us, he pushed the door open.
Carmen pulled out the bow from his back and nocked an arrow.
As Succus pushed it, the huge door creaked open.
I drew the Froststeel sword and stood behind Succus.
Finally, when the huge door was completely open, an ominous red light lit up the room.
Succus quickly picked up the shield and ax he had put down and readied himself for battle.
We stood still and waited for something to pop out, but nothing appeared in the large square room with red light.
Carmen glanced around, slackening the bowstring and beckoning with one hand.
With Succus in the lead, we marched forward.
Only the sound of our footsteps could be heard in the stillness that threatened to suffocate our hearts.
There were only two paths inside.
One was the door we came in from, and the other was a black door at the end of the room.
The change happened when we reached the very center of the square.
Carmen, aware of the shift in the air, spoke softly.
Be prepared to use the key just in case.”
The door we entered through closed by itself.
And as the black door on the other side slowly ascended, the guardians of the ruins revealed themselves.
Their bodies were covered in black leather and pure white metal armor over them.
They were human-sized, bipedal monsters made partly of machines.
There were about ten, maybe eleven, of them.
Fortunately, the enemies were all armed with swords and shields, and not one had ranged weapons.
“Tonisa! The spell!”
Carmen shouted and fired an arrow.
The arrow pierced the black-leathered Guardian in the lead through the neck.
When one Guardian fell, it signaled the rest to start running at us.
With Tonisa’s murmur, a huge boulder floated out of the floor and struck another Guardian.
The Guardian, their arm crushed, flew back and hit the ground.
There were nine left.
Being surrounded by an open plaza was very dangerous, so we kept backing up to check the Guardians’ approach.
But when the remaining Guardians reached seven, we had no choice but to allow them to approach.
Now it was my turn to step up.
I threw the torch I was holding.
When the red trail struck the approaching Guardian’s head, I caught up with it and swung my Froststeel sword.
Another head flew through the air.
Now there were six.
“Succus! Cover behind!”
“Leave it to me!”
The Guardian swung his sword at me.
When my sword raised at an angle and the Guardian’s sword collided, the Guardian’s arm bounced back.
The Guardian calmly threw his shield at me next, but I kicked it away.
The Guardian, unable to withstand my strength, fell back.
The moment I was about to rush in to finish it.
Mother warned me as another Guardian came wielding a sword from my blind spot.
It would be good to get another one here.
When I was about to retreat, leaving my regrets behind, an arrow pierced the Guardian’s neck.
Looking back, Carmen smiled and nodded.
I rushed to the fallen Guardian and dealt the final blow.
Four Guardians remained.
No, Succus had just split one of the Guardians’ heads with an ax, so now there were three.
Tonisa, standing behind Succus, beckoned lightly, and rock rising from the floor struck the Guardian once more.
The Guardian flew towards me, and I split it in half.
No blood spattered.
Carmen fired two arrows at one of the two left.
The other was handled by Succus and his ax.
Finally, all the Guardians collapsed.
And as if waiting, eight new guardians appeared.
This time among the enemies were two guardians with bows.
“Priest Marnak! Can you dig in and check the archers first?”
“I’ll give it a try!”
My job was Priest of Corruption, but since I couldn’t use my abilities openly in front of people, my actions were closer to those of a swordsman or warrior.
Seriously, at least the melee combat professions were compensated for this kind of situation.
As I grumbled, I rushed toward the Guardians.
With Mother’s warning, I sensed the two arrows as they took flight.
One was aimed at my torso, and the other went for my head.
I gripped the Froststeel sword even harder and swung.
I cut down the one aimed at my body and tilted my head to avoid the other.
Now I could close the distance before they shot again, but the other guardians moved to block me.
“Priest Marnak! Just run!”
The arrows and rocks flying from behind kept the guardians in check.
I took that chance and swung my sword horizontally.
An archer’s head flew through the air and fell to the ground.
Not satisfied with that, I lowered my stance and continued the attack.
The Froststeel sword pierced the archer’s waist, and the upper and lower body gave each other an eternal farewell.
Succus, following me, pushed one of the Guardians back with his shield.
After that, the situation became one-sided.
The Guardians could not reach Carmen and Tonisa before they were cut down.
However, in the middle of that, the Guardians, deflected by Tonisa’s spell, kept flying toward me.
Of course, I took advantage of the situation every time to take the Guardians’ lives.
Still, as soon as the battle was over, Succus growled at Tonisa as if it meant something different.
“Why do you keep pushing the enemy toward your allies? Marnak and I almost got hurt!”
“We caught them all; that’s what matters.
So, please stop grumbling.
That was the fastest way to deal with the enemy.”
“What?! This bitch with no horns! Say it again right now…”
I stopped Succus from rushing her, and Carmen intervened.
That’s enough, Succus.
Succus sharpened his teeth and glared at Tonisa before sitting down and examining his equipment.
“By the way, Priest Marnak.
That performance really lived up to the title of Demon Slayer.”
I smiled quietly as Carmen spoke in a more energetic voice to forcibly change the atmosphere.
“I’m a bit embarrassed since I didn’t act like a priest.”
“Actually, it was a little bit like that in my opinion too.”
“By the way, your accuracy is impressive.”
Carmen replied with a smile.
“Since I was little, the bow was like my only friend.
I practiced really hard.”
While Carmen checked his bow’s condition and collected the arrows, I checked the condition of my Froststeel sword.
Its blade hadn’t worn at all, boasting of its endless stamina.
“Precious items do pay for their price.”
I reciprocated the thought by patting my pocket.
Mother’s pride for the sword that she provided shone through.
After sitting for a moment to catch our breath, Tonisa spoke up.
“When are we going to leave? I could go right away.
My remaining magic power is fine.”
Succus frowned before Carmen could reply.
“Why are you talking about leaving again as soon as we sat down? You don’t know since you just mutter spells from behind, but Marnak and I need a little more rest.”
Tonisa glanced at Succus, then turned to Carmen.
It was an obvious show of disregard.
Succus’s face slowly heated up, but Carmen reacted quicker.
“Stop! Tonisa, we’re going to take a little break before heading on.
Please be patient.”
At Carmen’s firm words, Tonisa glanced at Succus and me before answering.
“I think it’s okay to leave right now.
The three of us, except for that Succus, are still fine, so I would like to go forward and see the end of the ruins sooner rather than squabbling here.
To be honest, I think that Succus is tired from throwing a tantrum.”
At the self-righteous wizard’s words, I just chuckled.
Indeed, most of the wizards I’d met so far were like that.
Extremely self-centered and one-sided in attitude.
In fact, this was rather polite for a wizard.
Carmen cut in before Succus’s face started burning again.
“We’re going to take a little more rest.
I won’t accept any further disagreement.”
We finally took a break from the uncomfortable atmosphere and settled to rest.
I sat next to Succus and gently comforted him.
Back on our feet after a while, we approached the black door, but it closed as if it was waiting.
Yes, the enemy was too weak, considering the state of the ruins.
Suddenly trapped in the square, we looked around, and at that moment, something huge fell from the ceiling.
A heavy crash shook the ground.
A pure white metal body without a single ounce of flesh on display and a blue jewel embedded in its forehead.
The true Guardian of this ruin revealed itself.
The metal giant approached us.
While Succus stood there blankly, Tonisa pushed him.
Tonisa waved her hand with a soft murmur, and countless rocks rose and shot at the giant along with oscillating waves of wild magic.
The giant reacted with a speed that wasn’t commensurate with its size.
As the blue jewel in the middle of his forehead shone, all the flying rocks lost their strength and fell to the floor.
Then, the giant smashed Tonisa with his fist.
This is real trouble.
The giant didn’t stop.
He swung his fist again and struck Succus.
He couldn’t even scream out but died instantly.
I shouted at Carmen, who was standing in disbelief nearby.
“Do you want to live?”
“I asked if you want to live!”
Carmen replied with a hasty nod.
“Then, stick your chin out!”
I slapped Carmen’s chin as he looked at me with a puzzled expression.
Quickly grabbing his now unconscious body, I shouted at the metal giant.
“There’s a giant on my side too! Mother! It’s urgent! I don’t even have time to pray! Send it right away!”
As the air ripped open, the Giant of Corruption stepped through and smashed the metal giant’s head, sending it careening into a wall.
As soon as the Giant of Corruption started screaming, the metal giant rose again.
I smiled at the overwhelming sight.
“He is a truly magnificent friend as always.
Mother thinks so too, right?”
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