Wednesday, April 3, 2024 @

Volume 1 Chapter 95 The Wise Snake Ragius

Volume 1 Chapter 95 The Wise Snake Ragius

 Once the conversation had settled down, we hurried ahead.

 In underground places where light does not reach, it is difficult to understand the passage of time. Since there were no landmarks, I wasn't sure how far we had walked, but no matter how far we went, we still couldn't reach what looked like a room.

 Although Inferno Pathway is a dungeon, it is a man-made object and has a simple structure, so there is no point in building an unnecessarily long passage...

 Lantern oil is also limited. It would be different if we could use fire attribute magic, but no one can use it.

 In the worst case scenario, I might have to consider turning back. That's when I started thinking about it.

 "...Huh? Isn't there something shining?"

 Meanwhile, Fatina suddenly turned to me and said.

 "Really? Where is it?"

 I lowered the lantern and looked carefully at the darkness that spread ahead, but I couldn't find anything that looked like it. I wonder if this is due to the sharpness of the five senses unique to the Werewolf Tribe.

 "No, it's not the corridor, it's Ark-sama."


 I realized that there was a white light mixed with the lantern's light. When I checked my body, it seemed like the part near my waist was emitting light.

 I placed the lantern on the ground and moved away a little.

 As I searched for the source of the light, I found out that it was the sword I had stuck to my waist.

 The Ragius steel sword I received from Dario in Metis town was faintly flickering. It wasn't a very strong light, so I probably wouldn't have noticed if Fatina hadn't pointed it out.

 "It's not me, it's the sword that's glowing."

 "That's true..."

 Mel also looked at the sword with great interest.

 "Dario-san didn't mention that it had this effect... Could it be related to this corridor?"

 "I wonder. Since no one has been able to handle this sword until now, maybe Dario didn't know either."

 All he said was that it was heavy and not something an ordinary person could handle, and that it was made by carving out a rare mineral found in this mountain.

 In fact, this strange phenomenon hadn't occurred until entering the Inferno Pathway, so Mel's words make sense.

 "Is your body okay?"

 "Yeah. There's no problem, but... it might be similar to the resonance of a key."

 A similar phenomenon would be the resonance between keys.

 When I went deep into the Aquaflow Cavern, the Emerald Green Key reacted. Does the Ragius steel also have such a characteristic?

 "If that's the case, it might mean that something is approaching, right?"

 "That's true, but it's not a key..."

 The sword is reacting, but the two keys I have are not. In that case, does it mean that the dragon depicted in the ancient document is not the guardian of the keys?

 If so, what could that picture possibly mean?

 "Oh, the sound of the wind has changed! It seems like we finally come out in a different place!"

 "Got it. I'll go ahead, so follow me."

 The three of us hurried down the corridor and finally emerged into a wide space... but it wasn't the continuation of the ruins that we had expected.

 What we found was a wide cave with exposed rock surfaces.

 Compared to the narrow and cramped corridors before, the ceiling was very high and gave a sense of openness. Sunlight streamed in through cracks in the rock, making the inside bright.

 It seemed like there was a further passage within the cave. It continued like a forcibly carved-out passage from the cracks in the rock wall. It was even wider than the passage they had just walked through, and light didn't reach the inside, so we couldn't tell how long it was.

 "Is this the room of the ancient documents?"

 "I think so, but... there doesn't seem to be a guardian of the key."

 "Are they not here? And there seems to be another path ahead."

 "It's a bit inconvenient if the guardian is moving... but let's search around to see if there's anything here for now."

 I tied the lantern to my waist and decided to explore the cave for now.

 "Is there any sign of a monster?"

 "No, it seems like there's nothing here."

 Fatina replied while touching her fluffy animal ears. It was strange, considering how large the place was. One would think there might be one or two Drakes around.

 "Should we split up and search?"


 Since there didn't seem to be any dangerous traps, the three of us spread out to investigate the cave.

 "It's just so vast, doesn't seem like there's anything particularly here."

 Fatina remarked while standing on a small rocky hill and scanning the rocky space around her. Just as she said, there was nothing noteworthy to be found. Is there really a guardian of the key in this place?

 Ragius' white steel sword continued to faintly flicker as usual. Even though there were mentions in ancient texts, it seemed like the meaning of these things might have been lost over time.

 ──It was at that moment.

 A rumbling sound could be heard from the darkness in the back, gradually growing louder and causing the entire cave to shake.

 "Oh, something is approaching from the back at incredible speed!"

 "Both of you, come close to me!"

 "Yes, okay!"

 Drawing a sword from its sheath, I prepared myself and headed towards the back of the cave.

 With each approaching sound, the sword's gleam became more intense and eventually started to shine.

 There was no mistake. This sword was reacting to something coming from the back.

 Amidst the rumbling, the figure that appeared from the darkness was the head of a white dragon.

 "A d-dragon...!?"

 The head, resembling a dragon, came right above us. There was no body connected to it, and the neck-like part covered various parts of the cave.

 The white body, covered in incredibly long and thick scales that could easily swallow even the houses in the town, filled the entire cave. It was a gigantic monster that couldn't even be compared to the guardian of the emerald green.

 This monster had no arms or legs. It was like a snake-like creature.

 "This is... a worm."

 "A worm!? Isn't it a dragon?"

 "Well, it's more like a snake."

 A worm appeared in the cave, emitting a bright white light that was almost divine for a monster.

 The phosphorescence resembled the light emitted by my Ragius steel sword.

 It is said that monsters that have lived for a long time possess exceptionally strong power. In terms of the adventurer guild's standards, this worm would be considered an Elder Worm of S-Rank equivalent.

 The surroundings were completely filled with the undulating body of the worm. It felt as if the entire cave had transformed into a monster.

 With its size, it would be difficult to inflict wounds with sword attacks. If I want to defeat it, I have to finish it off with a single strike of [Ruin].

 The Elder Worm looked down on us, raising its head. There's no time to waste if we're going to do it.

 '...It's rare to have visitors.'

 ──Suddenly, a solemn voice echoed in the cave.

 It wasn't me, or even Fatina.

 The owner of the voice was none other than a worm.

 "Th-The monster is talking──!"

 Fatina cried out in surprise. All three of us were taken aback by the sudden event.

 'What's wrong? Is it unusual for a creature to speak?'

 The Elder Worm squinted and seemed to be smiling for some reason. It looked amused seeing us taken by surprise.

 I always thought creatures that understand human language were just a fairy tale, but to think they actually exist.

 "...Who are you exactly?"

 'You come into my home out of the blue and that's your first remark? How about showing some manners... Well, it's been quite a while since I've seen a human. I might let this slide.'

 The Elder Worm, emitting a dazzling white light, slowly approached us.

 'My name is Ragius── I am the guardian of this land.'

 Ragius, a white worm with multiple rows of sharp teeth, introduced himself in a terrifying manner. He could easily swallow the three of us if he wanted to.


 "Oh, right! The ore that was used to make this sword had the same name, I think."

 'So, you used my scales to create this sword. That's an interesting idea.'

 As Ragius emitted a stronger light from his body, the sword also began to shine.

 It seemed like they were connected somehow. It turns out that the Ragius Steel was made from the scales shed by this worm. It explained why it was so hard and heavy compared to other materials.

 "Could it be that the creature depicted in the ancient manuscripts was Ragius?"

 "...I think you might be right."

 Finally, Mel's words made sense. Although Ragius was a monster, he didn't show any hostility towards us.

 The words "If you want to meet..." in the manuscripts seemed to refer to Ragius himself.

 'Now, tell me. What kind of people are you guys?'

 Relaxing my stance, I glanced at Fatina, who sheathed her sword as well.

 "I'm Ark. I'm an adventurer. And this is Mel, and Fatina."

 As I finished introducing ourselves, Ragius leaned in closer.

 Mel quickly hid behind me, while Ragius focused his large golden eyes on Fatina, who stood next to me.

 'Are you a Homunculus?'

 "Hom...? No, I'm from the Werewolf Tribe."

 'What's this Werewolf Tribe?'

 Ragius continued to stare at Fatina, seemingly intrigued by her for some reason.

 "Actually, what's a Homunculus?"

 'Huh? Don't humans know about Homunculi?'

 "What do you mean?"

 'A Homunculus is a creature created by humans. They're based on humans but have the physical abilities of other creatures, allowing them to survive in harsh environments... There were a few different types, but they were all created through trial and error.'

 This sudden and fantastical story left me speechless.

 Beastmen being created by humans── it seemed impossible. Creating another species, no matter what magic or skill was used, couldn't be possible. And above all, I had never heard such a story before.

 In the first place, there is no evidence that Ragius is telling the truth. He has talked to other humans before, so he must have been told lies at that time.


 However, Fatina was wide-eyed and shocked, as if she was paralyzed.

 I don't think she believes it, though.

 '──Why are you so disappointed?'


 "Hey, don't say random things. There's no way such a stupid story can be true. Don't believe it, Fatina."

 "Ah... Yes, you're right."

 Interrupting, Ragius pulled back his head.

 Fatina regained her senses and finally moved her gaze.

 'Hmm... Interesting world we live in.'

 Ragius moved his head quickly, observing us from various angles. There was no sense of hostility. It seemed like he was simply interested in humans.

 'At the end of a long time, being able to have a conversation with humans like this... Could this also be the guidance of Astal-sama?'


 Mel, who had been hiding behind me, came out and murmured.

 "Who is that?"

 When I asked, Ragius placed his head on the ground and sighed as if he were frustrated, slowly exhaling through his nose.

 'Do you mean to say that you don't know the god of this world?'

 "Well, I don't know..."

 'You should have heard of her at least somewhere. Astal, the goddess who governs time and shows compassion.'

 "Sorry, but I don't know. In this era, there should be overwhelmingly fewer humans who believe in the existence of gods."

 '...That's strange. Hmmm, peculiar.'

 Closing his large eyes, Ragius remained motionless for a while. Then suddenly, he raised his head and opened his eyelids, saying this.

 '..What about Miko (ミコ)?'


 'They're someone who conveys the words of the gods. There should be one around even now.'

 "Is it about a woman who works at the church?"

 Mel whispered in my ear like a helping hand.

 "Oh... you mean a shrine maiden?"

 A shrine maiden is someone in religious ceremonies, like a facilitator. But my village didn't have such customs, so I didn't know much about it.

 'Yes, Astal-sama's shrine maiden. Born with divine protection. A daughter of the heavens loved by the goddess... With her protection, one can receive Astal-sama's guidance. Where is the shrine maiden with the 'goddess's protection' now?"

 "Do you know anything?"

 I asked them, but Fatina shook her head. Mel also seemed clueless.

 "Unfortunately, I haven't met or heard of this shrine maiden."

 '...I see. She's not here then.'

 Ragius sounded disappointed.

 According to the story of this white worm, there's a goddess named Astal in this world, and there's supposed to be a special human called a shrine maiden who can hear her voice.

 However, I don't know of anyone who could be called a shrine maiden. I don't think I have any recollection of ever meeting one.

 In the first place, there are countries other than Cretia, and there are many people living all over the world.If you're talking about probability, it's almost a miracle.

 Somehow, Ragius' story doesn't make sense.

 As with the homunculus mentioned earlier, this kind of religion was popular in the past.

 Ragius seems to have various old knowledge that we don't know about and has been living on Mt. Zepart for a long time.

 With a body as big as an Elder Worm, it wouldn't be strange for him to have lived for thousands of years.

 "Ragius, how long have you been living here?"

 'Well, I haven't left this place for a long time. I have been guarding this land in preparation for the day to come.'

 "What do you mean by guarding? Are you the guardian of the key?"

 '──The key?'

 Ragius's body, which was undulating like waves, suddenly stopped moving as if it had turned into a statue.

 The cave fell silent, with only the sound of the wind blowing through.

 'I don't know anything about that.'

 ──But the answer that came out was not what I was looking for.

 I thought maybe because he had been in this mountain all along, but my guess was wrong.

 However, something is strange about this.

 There is a picture of Ragius in an ancient document, yet Ragius himself claims to know nothing about the key. What could this contradiction be?

 To me, it seemed like Ragius was lying about the key.

 But I don't think it's a good idea to press him further.

 Homunculi and goddesses── these are all incredibly unbelievable stories, and the truth is uncertain.

 ──But from now on, I have a feeling that I shouldn't ask anything more.

 I couldn't help but feel a sense of unease and excitement as I wondered what unexpected things lay ahead...

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