Magi Craft Meister 532

16 The Demons’ Mastermind Arc

16-11 Infiltration

 

 

Capricorn 1 stopped right before the barrier.

 

“A barrier? Do you know what kind of barrier it is?”

 

“Yes. It’s a detection barrier. If we cross it, it will probably alert

 

Their destination was about 2 kilometers further to the north.

 

“We will arouse suspicion if we go any further.”

 

“What should we do?”

 

“We’re going to have to cross this barrier in a way that doesn’t trigger it.”

 

Once again, Ann spoke as if it wasn’t a big deal.

 

“But how in the world…”

 

“It’s easy, really. The barrier goes all the way down to the ground, but it won’t go through the ground. So all we have to do is dig a hole, go through it, and come out on the other side of the barrier.

 

“I… I see…”

 

That was part of a barrier’s common behavior. If an attack were to destroy part of the ground a barrier is touching, it would normally continue to expand to cover the missing space until it touches the ground again, but it would never go through the ground.

 

“But it’s not realistic to try to dig a hole big enough for Capricorn 1 to go through…”

 

As a strategic advisor, Ann presented a precise plan.

 

“Sister Reiko and I… And also, I’d like one of you demons to come with us.”

 

“Then I’ll go with you.”

 

Alectus quickly volunteered. He had been a direct victim of those ‘needles’, and was quite familiar with the situation. Istalis and the others had no complaints about it.

 

Jin (‘s Substute Doll) would remain in Capricorn 1 to offer logistical support.

 

 

About 30 minutes later, the underground tunnel that would take them to the other side of the barrier was finally completed.

 

It had taken them that long because they had been working as quietly as possible so as to not arouse suspicion with their noise and ground vibrations.

 

“Okay, let’s go.”

 

“Take care.”

 

“We’re going in”

 

“Be careful, Mr. Alectus.”

 

“May our turmoil be over soon.”

 

Then, the three of them disappeared into the hole before soon reappearing on the other side of the barrier. Reiko was holding her “Peach Blossom”, while Ann had a Vibration Sword in her hand.

 

All they had to do after that was to simply wait.

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

“Hmph, so that’s what happened?”

 

“Yes, My Lord. We don’t know what kind of technology the Origin clan has at its disposal. I thought we’d need to take every precaution we could, so I called you.”

 

As they advanced towards the “Land of Beginnings”, Laojun had called Jin –who had once again returned to his workshop– because of the anticipation he had felt due to the climax of their expedition being close at hand.

 

The irony of technology was that he had been able to gather more information from the distant Hourai Island than the party on the Capricorn 1, which was essentially on-site.

 

“So Reiko, Ann, and Alectus, huh?”

 

Right in front of Jin there was a “needle” which had been sent to Hourai Island via the Warp Gate.

 

“To think that something this tiny can be so evil…”

 

Most of the Mana it needed in order to function would be taken from its wearer… In other words, from its victim’s body.

 

Now that these “needles” had been extracted, their power supply had stopped, so from its point of view, their wearer might as well be considered to be dead.

 

All that remained was their connection with a feeble line of magic.

 

“I’m glad these ‘needles’ don’t send visual information to their master…”

 

Jin kept on looking at the visual information sent in via Reiko’s eyes while whispering those words to himself.

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

A frozen land stood before them. It was an area with an average temperature of 1 degree Celsius even during summer, and was covered in perpetual snow.

 

The accuracy of Reiko and Ann’s magic detection function was lower than that of Capricorn 1’s Magi Detector, so they were moving in a zigzag pattern, probing for the general location of their destination.

 

All while Alectus’ “Hide” enveloped the three of them.

 

But since “Hide” couldn’t conceal them completely, they had to cover themselves with a white poncho-like cloak.

 

“…Almost 500 meters left.”

 

There were no obstacles up ahead. The land was almost completely flat, save for a few undulations here and there.

 

“I wonder if it’s underground.”

 

It was quite possible, considering the weather conditions.

 

“Let’s be extra careful as we proceed.”

 

400 meters, 300 meters, 200 meters…

 

“Please wait.”

 

About 150 meters to go, Reiko asked everyone to stop.

 

“There seems to be another barrier up ahead.”

 

She threw a piece of ice that had fallen at her feet up ahead, and it bounced off in mid-air as if it had hit an invisible wall.

 

“A physical barrier, huh.”

 

It was just like a “Solid Barrier”. Had it been a “Magic Barrier” instead, the thing that wouldn’t have been able to go through it would have been magical power instead of solid matter.

 

“How are we going to go through it? Should we burrow underground again?”

 

“Yes. And it shouldn’t take us too long, since it’s all show and ice around here.”

 

At Anne’s suggestion, they began digging the snow at their feet. That said, Ann had already done most of it by that time. Her enhanced physical ability was not for show.

 

After digging a hole of about 10 meters under the snow, the party was finally getting closer to their goal.

 

“Only about 100 meters left.”

 

A loosely raised snowy field came to view. It made them wonder what was underneath all that snow and ice.

 

“Metal?”

 

The feeling under Reiko’s shoes wasn’t that of rock.

 

She crouched and cleared away some of the snow, revealing a silver-gray metal underneath.

 

“Mithril? …No, it’s an unknown metal.”

 

At first, Reiko felt the urge to use magic to investigate this new metal, but she then realized it could alert the Origin clan of their presence, so she changed her mind.

 

“We’re definitely close.”

 

Ann’s words caused Alectus’ body to become tense.

 

“If this truly is the ‘Land of Beginnings’, and the Origin clan truly lives here, there has to be a doorway somewhere around here.”

 

After saying that, Ann started looking around everywhere.

 

“But Mrs. Ann, this place is so vast… How are we going to find a doorway?”

 

Ann met Alectus’ uneasiness with a nonchalant reply.

 

“Sister, please search the surroundings with your ‘Temperature Sensor’. Anywhere with an unusually high temperature would be suspicious enough for us to take a look.”

 

“Understood.”

 

Reiko’s eyes had been given various functions. One of them was a “Temperature Sensor”, which was essentially a built-in thermograph. It allowed her to see the distribution of ambient temperature in different colors.

 

After a minute of surveying, Reiko concluded that there was no difference in temperature in the area.

 

“Let’s keep moving for a bit longer then.”

 

Reiko repeated this procedure closer to 50 meters to the apparent destination of their search.

 

“…There are two places with an unusually high temperature.”

 

“Let’s take a look.”

 

They would investigate those places from up close.

 

“…Ah, there are some plants growing here, that’s all.”

 

The first place they checked was an area where cold-resistant, lichen-like plants flourished.

 

“Let’s check the other place.”

 

A flat snowy field was there. However, it seemed a bit unnatural.

 

“What a beautiful circular shape it has, don’t you think, sister?”

 

“Yeah. And the temperature in this circle is slightly higher than everything around it. About 2 degrees higher, I’d say.”

 

The conversation was solely between Ann and Reiko. Alectus couldn’t keep up with them.

 

“Do you think there could be a hatch here somewhere?”

 

“That’s very likely. Let’s try clearing away some of this snow.”

 

Reiko and Ann worked together to clear the snow away. The confused Alectus hurriedly tried to help them, but…

 

“You’re getting in the way. Please step aside.”

 

He was seen as nothing but a hindrance by Reiko.

 

Then, three minutes later…

 

“…This is definitely a hatch.”

 

There was a round metal hatch about 2 meters in diameter right in front of them.

 

“Do you see how we can go about opening this?”

 

“Maybe.”

 

There was a square section beside the hatch. It had a lid which opened the moment she slid her finger in it. And there was a lever past that lid.

 

“This lever should open the hatch.”

 

“Yeah. But before we do that… Let’s go over what we’re going to do after this once again.”

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