༺ The Descendant of Pluto (10) ༻
My head was filled with nothing but terror.
I should have just stayed inside the cabin. Why did I choose to come out and get caught up in a terrible situation like this?
Rattle— Rattle— Rattle—
Anyone who saw this black armored man walking next to me would be sure that he was a cult member. Yet, such a man had mistaken me for his comrade.
Just what in hell caused this situation?
The reason that immediately came to my mind was that one of this man’s comrades might have been a Samaritan, who looked more or less like me.
If that was not the reason, then, just like Paranoy – the nymph in the underground prison – maybe he misunderstood me for a cult member because of the ominous magical power or whatever it was that my necklace contained.
Fuck! I only carried it around because it was an expensive and interesting-looking necklace, but, as expected, people should carry things that fit their means. This necklace would be the end of me! I should’ve realized it when everyone else said that it was horrible!
“Uh, look, I have something important to do, so I have to go—”
The giant black armored man made a loud rattling noise after hearing my words. Soon, he sternly put forth his opinion in a sharp tone.
“Nothing is more important than our big project.”
“But, I am just an ordinary citizen—”
“Are you trying to come all the way here and take your foot out? If that’s the case—”
There was a strange kind of pressure that suddenly emanated from the man’s body. Although he stopped talking halfway, I could clearly understand what he was trying to say next.
That massive, broad iron plate on his back could easily split my torso into two pieces at any moment.
What the fuck? Since this man had been listening to me intently for a while, I couldn’t just weasel my way out of here and return to Luna.
“T-There’s something I left behind—”
“There’s no time.”
No matter what kind of excuse I gave, it felt like I was talking to a wall.
However, that massive sword would fly toward my back if I tried to escape.
Damn it, did he really believe that I was his comrade? Paranoy and these cultists seemed to have a few loose screws in their heads.
Therefore, I was now stuck with a strange giant in black armor and had no choice but to follow him to the place he was taking me. That place in question was the most remote and isolated part of the western slums of Sodomora. It was practically a dumpster with all the rats, birds, and tramps scattered all over the dirty ground.
There were constant groans of sick patients coming from everywhere, and the loud and sharp screams of a woman could be heard, followed by the sounds of something breaking and shattering in the distance.
“What do your eyes see, comrade?”
At that time, the man who had kept his mouth shut unless I spoke up to him decided to speak to me first.
“That’s true. I can hear the sound of rats. Also, the sounds of people suffering. I can smell death all over this place. We’ve almost arrived at our destination.”
I became very nervous when I heard that we were almost there. Soon, the man turned around the corner and we found ourselves in front of a dilapidated cabin with a shabby door. The giant of a man then firmly knocked on the door of someone else’s house.
It was an ordinary house in the slums. There were holes all over the walls and a broken roof above. Trashes were also scattered everywhere around the run-down shack.
Was this the place where those cultists gathered?
“Who is it?”
The door opened with a thud and a face stuck out from behind. He looked pretty tired, but his face was full of scars, and his eyes were sharp, just like a bandit’s.
“My house doesn’t have anything precious to rob, not even a stove. Also, why are you holding that pot?”
“I’m going in.”
“W-What, what the hell are you doing? Who gave you permission to enter?”
The homeowner looked perplexed by the giant man’s behavior. Yet, he didn’t seem to be able to stop the black-armored man from doing whatever he wanted.
In all seriousness of the word, the cultist barged into the household like a tank trying to conquer a territory. Soon, he kneeled on the floor and started tapping on the ground with his hands.
Knock— Knock— Knock— Knock—
“What the fuck are you doing!?”
The homeowner asked with a snarl, anger surging in his voice. I also wanted to know just what the hell he was doing after entering someone else’s home like that. But the cultist man didn’t say anything and just kept on knocking on different places on the floor.
Knock— Knock— Tung—
Then, all of a sudden, a strange sound was heard on one part of the floorboards he had been knocking on.
“It seems to be here.”
Having said that, the cultist clenched his fist covered in iron plates and hit the floor section where the strange sound had come from.
A large hole quickly formed on the old flooring as if it was about to break into pieces. Below that hole was a strange staircase going down.
“W-What the hell is that? How could I have something like this in my house!? Who the hell are you?”
I was incredibly bewildered at the scene of the homeowner pulling out a dagger from his waist in anger. I thought I would get stabbed at this rate.
But the cultist didn’t even pay attention to the man and just spoke to me in a blunt voice.
“I’m going down.”
* * * * * * * * * *
I once dived quite deep into the sea when I was very young. I had to dig up the crabs, clams, and seaweed living on the sea floor and squeeze out their innards.
Being under the deeper levels of the sea was quite burdensome for me as a child. Due to the pressure of the water pressing down on my whole body, and the movements of my limbs being restricted by the constant pressure, it honestly felt suffocating. Even my ears had become numb due to the pressure at one point.
It was a sense that I had forgotten for a very long time, and I felt that way again at this moment.
“It seems like you are not used to invisible barriers. It will get better soon.”
I walked down the stairs behind the man and went down the strange hallway. Cold bricks surrounded the hallway on all sides, and only the candles hanging on the walls were dimly lit as the only illumination source in this dark hallway.
It was a perfect place to be called an ancient passageway. But what was interesting was that the process of walking in this hallway itself was quite challenging.
It was suffocating and restricting me in a manner that made me feel like I was walking deep inside the sea.
According to the man’s explanation, it seemed that it was because of this thing called the invisible barrier.
Damn it, what do you mean by an invisible barrier? Was there something like that in this world?
It felt like I was going to a place I shouldn’t be going to. I didn’t know how I was going to survive here. I just wanted to go and see Luna.
Was she worried that I hadn’t come back yet? Perhaps, she would be out looking for me by now? No, Luna shouldn’t get caught up in something troublesome because of me.
I was extremely worried about her.
After walking for a long time, a small door appeared at the end of the long hallway.
It was a thick iron gate embossed with daffodils.
I knew that flower was a daffodil because it was a mark I often saw when I entered Pluto’s underground labyrinths with Elfriede and her crew.
The iron gate engraved with daffodil flowers looked like an entrance to the dungeon. Maybe it was really a dungeon entrance?
Whatever it was, what was certain was that if I went in there, I would walk on a completely irreversible path.
However, the man pushed the tightly closed iron door without caring about my thoughts.
The door was pushed open toward the inside with a heavy sound. What lay beyond the door was surprisingly simple and shabby.
There was a round table with five or six chairs inside a cramped room. The candles were burning all over the place of the room.
However, the guys sitting in the chair looked anything but simple. They were actually quite extraordinary, to say the least.
There were a total of three people sitting in this strange secret room.
Each person was wearing a strange attire, such as a mask, helmet, or robe so deeply hooded that their identities were hard to determine. However, it was evident that these individuals were also crazy cultists like the other black armored man I came here with.
“Schizo, you are quite late. If you came a little later, I would have started the meeting without you.”
The first person to talk to us was a man in a black robe sitting neatly at the table. His voice was relatively young and soft. He also spoke in a humble manner.
I couldn’t see his face because he had pulled his robe so low that it covered his whole face, but I assumed that he was pretty handsome just by listening to his voice. Damn, he was another one of those annoying bastards.
The long stick he was holding, which wouldn’t seem strange even if carried by mages, made me wonder if he was some sort of a mage. If he was a mage from the cult, he was definitely not a normal guy.
At that time, the woman seated beside me replied to his words instead of the big man accompanying me.
“Schizo has no eyes. I’m sure he has been wandering around to find this place, so he is late. He was late because he had mistaken the place a few days ago too. That’s why we also failed the temple raid. Stupid. Idiot. Asshole. Moron.”
A sharp, high-pitched voice came from under the strange mask that resembled the face of a Korean Totem Pole.
She was sitting with her legs propped up on the table, swaying them back and forth. It made it seem like she wielded a relatively relaxed personality.
However, why was she sitting in such a provocative position while just wearing a thin piece of cloth covering only the important parts of her lower body?
There was only a thin, translucent veil over her waist, but if I looked closely, I could still see what was behind that veil.
As I scrutinized her legs, which appeared to be quite strong and sturdy, the man in the black robe spoke once again.
“Who is the person next to you? I’ve never seen him before. How could you bring a nobody just as you wish?”
Even if there was a deep shade of black under the robe, veiling his face from my eyes, I could practically see the hostility that was directed toward me by the man.
So, there was some normal bastard who didn’t consider me their comrade here, after all. Of course, that was how it was originally supposed to be, but at this point, it was a rather tricky situation for me.
Damn it, I will really be screwed if I stayed here any longer.
Then the man in black armor called Schizo dragged his body to sit down in a chair and said lightly.
“He is our comrade.”
“A comrade? But I’ve never seen him before. Are you sure he’s safe to bring here on such an important day like today—?”
I could see the man’s hand, holding the wand, tense as he spoke those words.
The roughly 1.5-meter-long stick, with a large pumpkin-colored gemstone attached to the end, started to emit a peculiar light with that action of his.
What the fuck? Will he attack me just like that? I’m really screwed.
“Anxious, you worry too much. Hey, you loser, are you telling me that there was a flaw in my sorcery barrier? Do you think just about anyone can come inside just because they want to?”
“To be honest, yes. Unlike the magic I have studied in the Ivory Tower, don’t your voodoo skills rely too much on mere superstition, Somnia?”
“Are you underestimating this Ideope’s daughter now, punk? Do you want to be cursed?”
I wasn’t sure what happened, but the atmosphere was getting very hostile in here. These cultists were starting an internal strife among themselves. Maybe this was my chance to run away?
How could I turn this situation in my favor? My head became overwhelmed by these thoughts.
The last person who sat in the corner and seemed to show no interest in me opened his mouth. Just that alone had already dismissed the buzzing atmosphere of the room.
I was able to realize it in a heartbeat.
That man was the head of this group.
In the darkest corner of the room, where he was hiding, he wasn’t even visible enough to be seen, but his pressure, intimidation, and ambiance were considerably heavy. What was that exactly? Was it something like mana or something?
Nonetheless, the man who made the hall quiet for a moment closed his mouth once again after speaking that word. Some moments of awkward silence passed like that for a while.
The masked woman, who said she was the daughter of Ideope, brought up the story again after clearing her throat a few times.
“Hmph, anyway, my spell is perfect. If you don’t have Lord Pluto’s blessing, you’ll be devastated just by entering the hallway. Since he has endured the corridor, it means he is on our side.”
“Although I still don’t trust him, I certainly can feel Lord Pluto’s magical power from him. Well, it would be quicker to ask in person. Who are you?”
The black robed mage, probably named Anxious, asked me a question. My legs almost trembled for a moment after hearing his voice.
“I-I’m— the spy who infiltrated the city.”
I racked my brains, trying to use the information I got from Paranoy, the cultist nymph. I heard a spy was hiding in the city that was not even known to the cult members.
I had no choice but to act as that spy right now.
I felt like I should at least try to do something since I would die either way, no matter which path I choose.
“Oh, I see. If that’s the case, I understand why you didn’t know our faces. Captain, you said you knew the spy, right? Is that him?”
Anxious, the black mage, spoke to the man in the corner again. Damn it, there was someone who knew the spy’s face? Though, I should have guessed that there was at least one among them who recognized the spy…
Dammit, am I screwed now?
When I was about to give up on any hopes of survival—
There was no voice from the man sitting in the corner.
I was nervous, thinking that he might sentence me to death. My heart was pounding hard against my chest since I felt like I would get caught by these sick bastards at any moment now.
“Captain hasn’t said anything.”
“Doesn’t he always act like a fool, staying in that pose and doing nothing? Anyway, I’m glad you came. But what the hell is up with that stupid pot in your hands?”
Somnia, the masked woman – perhaps a shaman – rose from her seat and looked at the pot of medicine that I was holding.
“Wow, damn! This is an elixir. Fucking hell! I can’t believe you brought such a precious thing with you!”
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