Magi Craft Meister 522
16 The Demons’ Mastermind Arc
The land in the north, the Gondoa Continent where the demons live.
A great sea separated it from the human continent of Lauren almost completely, only being connected to each other by a single narrow ravine called the Great Isthmus of Pazdext.
Ferocious sea dragons lived in this vast sea, which made it extremely difficult to navigate by ship.
Therefore, the only way to cross to the Gondoa Continent so far was through the Great Isthmus of Pazdext.
And now, Jin (‘s Substitute Doll), Reiko, Ann, and Land 1, along with the demons Istalis and Shion and their retainers Netros and Lucas…
The eight of them were on their way to cross over to the Gondoa Continent on the Capricorn 1, a four-legged vehicle made by Jin.
“Looks like there’s nothing past those Stone Giants standing in our way.”
Ten Stone Giants, a type of giant stone golem controlled by the Kanrou clan of demons, had attacked Jin and the others as they tried to cross over. It was natural for Jin to think that there could still be other traps waiting ahead.
However, Falcon 2 and 3, who were conducting surveillance from the sky, reported that there was no further danger ahead, at least on the side of the Lauren Continent.
There didn’t seem to be any members of the Kanrou clan around either.
“The narrowest part of the isthmus is about 5 kilometers wide. If I were to set a trap, it would be there.”
“Yeah, I agree with you there, Shion.”
Istalis and Jin nodded in agreement with Shion’s theory.
“In that case, we should make sure we go through the isthmus during the day.”
The blue-haired Automata, Ann, made that suggestion.
“Our presence here has already been revealed. So we should move during the day, when visibility is at its best.”
With that, the party decided to spend the night on the continent of Lauren. It was the first time after leaving Nido Castle for Capricorn 1 to stop moving for an extended period of time.
“All right, time for a full check.”
Though he said that, Jin’s Substitute Doll didn’t have the Magi Engineering skills of Jin himself. Therefore, Reiko would offer her support as well.
“No abnormalities on the vehicle’s legs.”
“No dissipation found in the power unit.”
Actually, the one operating the Substitute Doll at this time was Laojun, not Jin.
This was because it was impossible for Jin to be controlling it all the time.
Moreover, Jin was currently in the process of preparing a Summer Festival in Kaina Village.
“My Lord is indeed very skilled. Thanks to the durability of this material being raised to the limit, there are no signs of wear anywhere in the vehicle.”
Jin could be careless sometimes, but when it comes to making things, he was a thorough perfectionist. Laojun was unable to see any problems with Capricorn 1’s performance.
“Let’s set up camp here.”
Capricorn 1 had a high level of liveability. It even had a simple shower room.
Shion and Istalis took a shower. Jin (‘s Substitute Doll) pretended to shower afterwards, and finally Netros and Lucas had their shower last.
“Ah, that was so refreshing!”
“Yes, that shower has renewed me completely.”
As the Ether concentration in the air had increased as they moved north, Istalis seemed to be in good shape.
Assuming that the standard Ether concentration at the latitude of Hourai Island (which was equivalent to Earth’s Tropic of Cancer) was 1, the concentration in this area was about 1.7. And once they reached demon territory, it could go up to 2 or even 2.5.
Of course, Hourai Island was just a reference.
Capricorn 1 would carry on walking while collecting such data.
＊ ＊ ＊
Then came the morning of August 14th.
It was another morning of breakfast consisting of dried bread, dried fruit, and instant soup.
“It doesn’t taste bad, but I see us getting bored of it quickly.”
“Shion, we can’t afford to expect great luxuries. Our villages are starving right now.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry.”
Shion had spoken her mind with honesty, but was quickly reprimanded by her sister.
One could use the built-in Warp Gate to bring a freshly prepared meal from somewhere else, but Jin had no intention to go that far.
“Okay then, let’s get moving. Land 1, please.”
“Starting up Capricorn 1.”
Capricorn began its slow advance, using its four legs to step steadily on the ground and proceed to a land unknown to Jin and his friends.
At first, the land was slightly overgrown with grass and shrubs, but gradually turned gray the further ahead they went.
“…The rocks are different here?”
The question escaped Jin’s mouth.
“Yes, it’s probably limestone here.”
Limestone is a rock whose main component is calcium carbonate, and is said to have been formed by accumulated deposits of corals, sea lilies, foraminifera, and shellfish.
It is relatively difficult to weather and often creates unique terrain.
“…Karst terrain, huh?”
Karst terrain is a terrain formed by erosion of the land made of limestone by rainwater, surface water, and underground water. It often features underground limestone caves.
The Akiyoshido Cave in the Yamaguchi Prefecture of Japan is a famous example of this kind of terrain.
The group continued to move north for about two hours while enjoying the terrain scattered with strange rocks.
“My Lord, something’s coming from underground.”
Land 1 noticed such a thing as he approached a point about 10 kilometers away from the narrowest point of the Great Isthmus.
“According to the Magi Detector, there’s about thirty of them.”
“Capricorn 1, stop. Deploy the barrier, and prepare the Paralyzer, Magi Cannon, and Laser.”
At that time, a monster appeared from a rift in the ground.
“Isn’t that… A Grand Worm!?”
＊ ＊ ＊
Laojun was still in control of the Substitute Doll. He informed these latest findings to Jin, who was working in his workshop at the time.
“Got it, I’ll be right there.”
Laojun would remain in control until Jin’s arrival at the wheel, at which point he would hand control over to him and act as a co-pilot.
“Miss Shion has referred to it as a ‘Grand Worm’.”
They were omnivorous organisms that lived underground and were basically quite docile, but since they were easy to enslave, they were often kept inside those caves to be used as sentries.
“…The ‘Kugutsu’ clan, perhaps?”
“Yes, that is quite possible.”
“If we know where the one controlling them is, could we incapacitate those worms?”
“It is quite possible, but we may not have enough time to try to do that at this point.”
The Magic Screen showed the image of a Grand Worm bouncing off Capricorn 1’s Barrier.
“I guess we don’t have a choice. We’ll try using the paralyzer first.”
＊ ＊ ＊
“Let’s begin by incapacitating those Grand Worms.”
Jin gave his instructions through the Substitute Doll’s mouth. Land 1 then lifted the upper portion of the barrier covering the Capricorn 1.
The barrier of Capricorn 1 could be split in halves, allowing its operator to lift either half while leaving the other half still active.
“Paralyzer, fire at maximum output.”
Capricorn 1’s large caliber Paralyzer successfully incapacitated the three Grand Worms that were attacking it in one go.
“Alright, looks like it works well against Ground Worms as well.”
Since the Paralyzer affected its target’s nervous system, it wouldn’t be very effective against inferior organisms. But the Grand Worms seemed to have a nervous system complex enough for the Paralyzer to work on them.
In this way, the Paralyzer swept away the surroundings, quickly neutralizing all 30 Grand Worms.
“So this is the power of the Magi Craft Meister…?”
Both Shion and Istalis were looking out the window as if their jaws had dropped.
“Okay, find the one controlling those worms.”
Land 1 checked the Magi Detector. There were several dots on the radar that weren’t moving, which were probably the incapacitated Grand Worms.
Among all those motionless dots, there was a single dot that was still moving little by little.
“That must be the one that controlled them.”
Reiko took a step forward with her “Peach Blossom” in hand.