Magi Craft Meister 526

16 The Demons’ Mastermind Arc

16-05 Inland Area

 

 

Capricorn 1 started its slow advance north.

 

Although it was slow, Land 1, Reiko, and Anne didn’t need to rest, so they could go on without stopping for the night. Thanks to that, they were able to travel several hundred kilometers in a single day.

 

But they hadn’t spent the entire day just traveling. They also used “Amnesia” on Belials.

 

Now that he no longer knew why Jin and the others had captured him, there was little concern about him leaking any information in the event that he managed to escape somehow.

 

Istalis and Shion had plenty of rest, so they had recovered completely.

 

 

And now, after crossing a shallow but wide river and going over the 55th parallel north, the party found itself in front of an ice-covered mountain.

 

 

“I know they’re said to live at the base of this mountain…”

 

There didn’t seem to be much confidence in Istalis’ words.

 

“They don’t get too involved with other clans, after all…”

 

“Hmm, we’re going nowhere fast. …Land 1, what does the Magi Detector say?”

 

“Let’s see. …There’s a reaction coming from about 2 kilometers to the left.”

 

“Okay, let’s try heading there.”

 

Capricorn 1 changed its course to the left.

 

The road ahead was covered with snow here and there. The temperature outside was 2 degrees Celsius.

 

“I’m glad I managed to make a good air conditioner for this vehicle.”

 

Jin (‘s Substitute Doll) wasn’t affected by hot or cold temperatures, but Istalis, Shion, Netros, and Lucas would have had to bear with the sudden change in temperature of the northern latitudes.

 

Eventually, they reached their destination.

 

“There’s quite a big magical reaction around this area.”

 

However, there was nothing but an ice-covered mountain scattered with rocks and snowy patches.

 

“Hmm, how strange…”

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

At that moment, the real Jin back in Hourai Island suddenly realized something.

 

“Phantom Barrier…”

 

Jin was reminded of the phantom barrier, which could deceive not only humans but also the eyes of the golems made by Jin. It was the same kind of barrier that covered the old Lenard Kingdom.

 

“Laojun, did you learn anything from that other Phantom Barrier?”

 

The Quinta dispatched to the old Lenard Kingdom were supposed to be investigating that day and night.

 

“Yes, My Lord. I do not know who set it up in the first place, or for what purpose, but I’ve come to understand its effect a little.”

 

“I see, and?”

 

“First of all, it should be noted that the Phantom Barrier deceives not only any optical input received from the infrared to the ultraviolet spectrums, but also any sound waves from 1Hz to 30,000Hz.”

 

“So it affects the sense of hearing as well…”

 

The Phantom Barrier also had the effect of bouncing sound waves back to give the impression that there’s a solid object where there actually isn’t.

 

It made sense to affect hearing as well, as hearing is the second most useful human sense after vision. Hearing is simply a little less directional than vision, and there is no way to naturally “close” one’s ears to block incoming stimuli (one can plug their ears, though).

 

Even when asleep, the sense of hearing can pick up hints of danger, the sense of touch can detect vibrations on the floor, and the sense of smell can pick up the smell of smoke in case of a fire.

 

 

“So it’s like an illusion, but with a substance?”

 

“No, I wouldn’t go that far. It cannot deceive the sense of touch.”

 

“And how is it created?”

 

“Both its generation method and principles are still unknown.”

 

“I see…”

 

If it were merely an optical illusion, even Jin would be able to replicate it, but he still didn’t know how to trick the sense of hearing like that.

 

It seemed to be a fairly intricate and advanced illusion technique.

 

“There is something we could try, though. If its generation method is magic-based, we should be able to use an Ether Jammer to dispel it. I believe it’s worth at least a try.”

 

“I see.”

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

“Alright, Land 1, activate the Ether Jammer.”

 

“Roger.”

 

The Ether Jammer was then activated for the first time.

 

At first, nothing seemed to have changed. But a minute later…

 

“Oh?”

 

A part of the ice-covered rocky mountain vanished, revealing a huge cave in its place.

 

“This looks like an entrance.”

 

“J-Jin! What did you do?”

 

Shion couldn’t hide her surprise as she watched that happen through the window.

 

“It seems that there was some kind of barrier. All I did was try to break it.”

 

“‘All you did’, you say? …Haha, that’s so you, Jin.”

 

However, though it was quite large, the cave was only about 4 meters wide by 4 meters high. It wasn’t wide enough for Capricorn 1 to pass through.

 

“Try cutting off the Jammer.”

 

“Roger.”

 

Though the Ether Jammer had been stopped, the Phantom Barrier didn’t reappear. The cave was still there. Jin thought there might have been some special conditions for it to be generated in the first place, but either way.

 

“It would be ideal if someone were to come out now that the barrier is gone.”

 

However, even after waiting for about half an hour, no one seemed to have come to check on the missing barrier.

 

“I guess we’ll have to check how things are looking down there ourselves…”

 

“In that case, I’ll go.”

 

Netros quickly offered himself as a candidate.

 

“I can handle myself quite well in combat. And I’m well aware of the situation.”

 

“…I see… Take care down there, okay?”

 

It wouldn’t be a good idea to have anyone from Jin’s side going there first, so there was no better option for the job than Netros. Lucas was still too green to go by himself.

 

“Yes, Lady Istalis. I’ll be back safely soon.”

 

Netros opened the door and jumped to the ground, then started walking slowly into the cave.

 

Jin and the others saw him off from the safety of Capricorn 1.

 

 

Five minutes passed since Netros vanished into the cave. Then, ten minutes.

 

Jin and the others were starting to grow impatient.

 

Then, fifteen minutes.

 

“What’s that?”

 

Two figures moved toward the cave’s entrance.

 

“Netros… And who’s that with him?”

 

One of them was definitely Netros. The other one was a thin, middle-aged man with pure-white hair. His face wasn’t that clear from that distance.

 

The man stayed at the cave’s entrance while Netros alone continued towards Capricorn 1.

 

Netros waved from the ground to indicate that everything was fine. Jin then lowered Capricorn 1 to ground level.

 

After carefully opening the door, Netros boarded the vehicle again.

 

“I’ve returned. Just like you assumed, the Gospel clan lives in this cave.

 

Netros began his report as soon as he got back in.

 

“I briefly explained what’s happened so far and they seem to be willing to receive us with open arms. They appear to have an idea of what’s the reason for the chaos we’ve seen, and want to share their thoughts about it with us. They also want to hear what we have to say.”

 

“Is that  so? That’s great…!”

 

“Ah, what a relief!”

 

Istalis and Shion seemed to be relieved. Reiko initially suspected Netros could have been brainwashed, but he showed no signs of such a thing.

 

“Alright, then Land 1 shall remain here while the rest of us go to speak with the Gospel clan… Ah, that’s right, we should take Belials with us as well. Though they seem friendly now, they might be planning something, so be on your toes.”

 

No one objected to Jin’s instructions.

 

“Okay, let’s take some food with us. Ann, bring 100kg of flour.”

 

“Yes, Master.”

 

“Reiko, make sure to take your ‘Peach Blossom’ with you.”

 

“Yes, Father.”

 

Jin (‘s Substitute Doll) would carry some medicines and Pelshika Juice.

 

And Belials would be going with them as their prisoner, under Netros’ custody.

 

“Okay, let’s go. Land 1, retreat for 200 meters after we leave, and set up a barrier.”

 

“Roger that.

 

Thus Jin and his friends were finally headed for the place of residence of a clan that was actually willing to talk to them for a change.

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