Chapter 75: It’s not Like There’s Not Bad Things in Modern Society, but Much of Modern Society is Blind to Bad Things
Ragnall is completely unconscious.
Wh-wh-what am I supposed to do?
Biology and medicine aren’t my fields! I think we more than proved that when Lor attempted to teach me about mana pots a while ago!
Besides, Ragnall seemed like he knew what he was doing right before he went under so he should be alright …
… no, that’s, that’s called wishful thinking, Jun. Calm down.
I take a deep breath.
I can at least monitor the situation by trying to sense his mana, right?
Even though this humming in the air is distracting…
I force myself to ignore everything around me.
… Indeed. There’s something like chaos going on in his body.
He is producing mana, but it’s blocked somehow from getting to his heart, and then into his blood.
Instead, it’s spilling over into his flesh.
Because he’s not a monster, the excessive amount of mana flowing into his muscles and tissues means he’s getting something called mana poisoning. Although it seems like he can absorb quite a large amount of mana before the poisoning becomes a problem.
He’s being poisoned by too much mana, and dying from too little mana.
Is this some sort of cruel joke?
There is an abnormal reaction in Ragnall’s stomach.
The stomach of humans is lightly shielded from magic as a precaution against magic-based food poisoning.
This is something I learned from Lor.
Actually, I’ve learned almost everything about how mana effects the health from Lor.
Mana is beginning to flood into the lining of Ragnall’s stomach, and then it disperses and … eh? Into the bloodstream somehow?
Uun… is it similar to how we digest food?
Uun … even though I properly went through most of Japan’s schooling system, I don’t remember exactly how we absorb nutrients.
Even though I remember how the respiratory system works.
But that, so that’s it, huh?
Ragnall produces mana like all humans and demi-humans do, but it’s blocked from getting absorbed into his blood. Instead, his stomach is supposed to absorb the mana from digesting mana-rich food, like raw monster meat, but his stomach is shielded from being able to do so, like all humans and demi-humans’ stomachs are.
It’s … the demon part of his genetic makeup?
I can’t think of any other reason than for that to be the problem.
Ragnall’s body works just like a human, except for the absorption of mana.
I can assume that to be true.
Then I should just change it so it works normally.
Ha. Again, a thought that I’m not so certain originated from my own thoughts crosses my mind.
But … it’s not a bad idea.
Or should I say, somehow, I feel like the thought originated from me. But the confidence that I really can change it … that is not from me.
Though it’s absorbed in the heart, mana is produced in the hara.
The hara, huh?
The stomach well, the third dantian where qi is produced, the manipura chakra, whatever you call it, this is the hearth of the body where you produce Aether is also where you produce mana.
Hm? Is mana a byproduct of Aether, or is Aether a byproduct of mana?
This is something that I don’t think I’ll understand no matter how long I peruse it.
Hm? How do I know this?
I don’t think that’s something I’ll understand just by thinking about it either.
The problem is the connection of the mana from the hara, the metaphysical, to the heart, the physical.
The pathway doesn’t exist.
Then I should just make one. That is what one who can manipulate the Aether, Light Magic, can do.
But the compensation for making something organic, something living …
Is my own magic power. The price is not so severe for something without a physical incarnation.
Forbidden magic is forbidden because of the price required, but not all Light Magic is forbidden, after all.
So it should be no problem. Even so, it won’t be perfect. He will still need supplements.
But to not be able to improve it at all… this isn’t like making a sword where I have to aim for perfection right from the beginning.
Even though it didn’t cure her, I wouldn’t have deprived Grandma of the medication that eased her suffering up until the end.
This is no different.
I sense that Ragnall’s medication is working, that it’s breaking down the barrier in the stomach and absorbing into his system, and that the levels of mana in his bloodstream are to the point he’s beginning to become lucid again, but I ignore him and concentrate.
“Light Magic, do what I picture. Create the pathways that are required.”
Mm? A chant? I guess you can call it a chant. Or maybe you should call it what chants once were, a long time ago, when they were just descriptions of what you wanted to do.
I, who have almost never used a chant up until now, am using the hypnotic words to keep my magic on track.
That’s how hard this is.
I feel sweat bead up and slide down my temple.
“Quiet. I’m basically doing surgery here.”
It’s like surgery, because only bad things will happen if I leave it only half done-!
“Surger – ? …”
Although ‘surgery’ apparently didn’t translate over well, Ragnall obediently keeps his mouth shut.
I don’t know how long it took, but soon I sink down onto my heels with a sigh.
“So … why didn’t you go on ahead?”
“… Right, so next time I’m wondering whether you’re dead or not, I should just leave you.”
Tsk. He sounds a lot better.
“I’m not sure what you were doing, but thanks?”
“You’ll thank me later when you reduce your drug bills. I just made it possible for you to absorb your own mana a little.”
“What?! That’s –“
“That was dirty, Ragnall. Telling her to run like that to get my guard down. Shit, this hurts.”
A voice cuts into Ragnalls surprise.
Ah, I forgot about moody eye-patch man over there.
Good, good. The immobilizing blade is working great … I think.
I’m not sure if that’s the reason he can’t move, or if he hasn’t given up because I broke a few … bones everywhere.
I have dim hopes about the blade’s condition after I pull it out. Not only will it lose its paralyzing properties, but even if it doesn’t snap from being pulled out, all I will be left with is a brittle blade.
A stake might be better next time. Maybe with a steel core – ah, this isn’t the time for that.
Ragnall laughs at the eye-patch bishounen.
“Hahaha, if you all hadn’t tried to kill me just then, maybe you would have heard me warning YOU to run away a bit clearer. You aren’t a match for this girl by yourself, Dankor. By the way, the ruckus on the surface? There are 4 of this girl’s kinsmen up there, and they’re all stronger than her.”
“Ah… shit. This job is going bust. If it were just you and her we could manage somehow, but 4 more of her? If this lady wanted to kill me, I’m pretty sure I’d be in pieces all over the place.”
“Pieces you say…”
Ugh. The thought is revolting so I want to refute him, but as I’m going to, a brief memory of how the Dark Wyverns’ layout looked after I had gone through it flashed into my head.
Just the thought of it is making me sick, so I decide to just keep quiet.
“Ah, I’m just talking to myself, but, that’s right, I’m pretty sure Urol and Granwit are supposed to be out in town supporting the other small fries, along with that Dark Magic merc, Trevout… But the others are gonna be up ahead at the altar, huh … wonder if they’ll get what they need before they get stopped.”
“Hm… While you’re still talking to yourself, mind thinking over what your goals are, here?”
“Pfft… forget it. Be satisfied my lips are this loose.”
“Right, right, I thought as much.”
I don’t think I’ll understand the feelings of people who could easily try to kill each other despite having worked together before, and then have a perfectly civil conversation afterwards.
I had that kind of thought as I followed Ragnall through the wooden cellar-door.
Through the door, it really was a cellar. A really large cellar.
They had tunneled directly through the wall of the cellar of this building into the open vein.
All four walls. There are 13 tunnels.
How the hell is this building still standing? – Although I had that kind of thought, It really is a large cellar. Stone pillars stand in rows, and the tunnels with the makeshift wooden doors are all spaced at intervals that don’t compromise the structure. I guess.
My other assumption was magic, but either way, the building is still standing.
It would have been an empty cellar if it weren’t for the cages and cages of slaves.
As far as I can see, they’re all female.
Lifeless eyes stare blankly, unseeingly out of cages.
An unpleasant feeling trickles up my spine.
Ah, this feeling is … it’s horror.
So far, I haven’t seen many slaves in this city.
I don’t know if its because I usually only work with bachelor artisans and adventurers, or whether its because the people in this city just don’t commonly use slaves, but the ones I do see always seem to be treated well.
People packed shoulder to shoulder in tiny cages, chained down, sitting in their own messes; I don’t even think I’ve seen animals treated so horrifically.
As we walk down the rows of cages, looking for either the way up or enemies, I feel a retching feeling in the back of my throat, and it’s not entirely because of the stench.
I suddenly understood how very, very sheltered of a life I lived in Japan.
“I wouldn’t, if I were you. They’re considered testimonial evidence like this. If they’re not slaves, their statements won’t mean a damn thing.”
Did Ragnall read my mind? Even though I hadn’t come to a decision about releasing them.
“If some of them are stolen from other owners, it would be illegal to release them, too.”
I make a kind sour face.
“… For a territory without laws, there are a lot of things you can and can’t do.”
“It’s inevitable. This might be a territory without laws, but we’re surrounded by militaristic countries who won’t hesitate to enforce their own laws. Without living under a government, each individual is in charge off fighting of a country by himself. Well, the Guild was made to combat that, but in the end even the Guild’s influence is limited.”
“Well, the main reason I wouldn’t recommend it is because they’re currently safer like this. Because like this, they’re still the bad guys’ possessions, and you would usually hesitate to kill off a possession unless you were absolutely forced to, right?”
“Even though there was a guy right before who was willing to waste 30 million ecrue just to kill off a mercenary…”
“… We can only hope that he is an abnormal in the group.”
Well, in the end, it’s impossible to think of releasing this entire group of slaves with just me and Ragnall here as the only combat-oriented forces.
And anyways, although I don’t like to think about it, they really would just be baggage for us to ‘storm the castle’.
I suddenly stop in the middle of the cellar. This might actually be the absolute center of the cellar area, but of that, it’s hard to make an estimate.
“I see. The 13 surges are artificial spirit trees, and directly below here is the Water Corridor.”
I just know it, somehow.
I scramble up onto a cage.
Crystals and craeftite silver, mithril, all in ornate formations, though embedded deep into the stone and dirt walls, are glowing over the doorways as I look around with Magic Sensory.
As I … thought? … Magic is being channeled upwards.
“Jun, if there are guards – ”
“There aren’t any, in this entire cellar. That means they don’t care about these slaves or this place anymore, right?”
“… That might be likely. You’ve figured something out?”
“Yeah. It might be bad after all.”
“That was the general consensus before too, right?”
“This is just speculation. Before, this city was a civilization built up around Light Magic. This area practically overflowed with Light Magic – no, Aether as you can also call it. The ruins on the 4th floor correspond to the flow of Light Magic on the surface.”
While I’m speaking, I’m analyzing the magic formations on the walls.
Ragnall climbs up onto the next cage over to get a better look around the cellar.
“So that’s the past. What about now? Ah, I see a ramp leading up. That’s the main way up, is there an alternate…”
“The people here are trying to replicate that, but there isn’t an overflowing amount of Aether anymore. But they’re still forcibly trying to produce the same result. They’re leeching the land of Aether, and sacrificing people to stimulate their fake spirit trees.”
Ragnall jumped down, beckoning me over to a hole in the upper wall, left of the ramp.
“Um … a big spell of some sort? I don’t know for sure, but the price is basically the death of this city and all the Aether … vitality? Of many, many slaves.”
“Okay, yeah, that sounds pretty bad. Anyway, this is our way up.”
“… A garbage chute?”
“Niera said you have a lot of rope?”
With his ridiculous strength, Ragnall bent a dagger into a hook, attached the end of my rope, and tossed it up.
He uses daggers like they’re disposable… It kind of hurts me a little inside.
After a few times, there was a slight clink, and the rope was firm.
“I was wondering what we should do if it didn’t have anything to catch on …”
A hook or spike that would eat or meld into whatever surface you threw it at … ah!
I quickly shake the thought from my head.
Ragnall hesitates before we begin to climb.
“I think we should focus on disrupting whatever’s going on above first, getting out alive second, and forget about taking anyone out along the way.”
“… Are they going to be that tough?”
Ragnall scratched the back of his head.
“I don’t know about the others who are hired, but the two biggest pains in the asses from a merc group I ran with a while back are out making a mess in the city. With Dankor pinned to the ground downstairs, there’s two more to worry about. And just let me say, they aren’t pushovers like Dankor is.”
“And there are probably other people who are at least difficult to fight off easily?”
“Yeah. Get in quick, figure out what’s going on, make a mess, and get out quick. You okay with that?”
I feel a kind of sinister grin cross my face.
“I don’t think you need to worry about making a mess.”
I’ve already deciphered the magic circuits feeding this pending catastrophe, so to turn it into a mess, I can make that happen.
But as for everything else, I can only leave it up to luck.
<T/n: I have seriously underestimated this build up. OMG why aren’t we at the fighting yet?! >