Magi Craft Meister 540
16 The Demons’ Mastermind Arc
16-19 The Return
“…So that No. 700672 has been sleeping for the last 300 years, huh?”
Vivian started muttering.
“That’s about how long ago the Great Magic War took place… I’m pretty sure the initial discord between humans and demons was put in motion by this ‘Nega-Doll’.”
“Yeah, you could say that.”
Stearleana agreed, saying that No. 700672 had said something to that effect as well.
“So, does that mean that the strife between humans and demons will end if that ‘Nega-Doll’ is defeated?”
Reinhardt was the one to answer that question.
“As long as we can get proof of what No. 700672 said, or even fully believe his words to be true, that is.”
Then, he finished by adding that the intense feeling of hatred that has been ingrained for over 300 years would be considerably difficult to get rid of.
“…I’m not sure whether his ambiguity was intentional or involuntary, though.”
Elsa voiced her concern.
“I have no idea who this ‘master’ he spoke of could have been.”
No. 700672 had been very unclear in some of his words, sometimes speaking of ‘masters’ and sometimes referring to a single entity.
“Let’s ask him that then.”
After announcing that, Laojun asked that through Ann.
＊ ＊ ＊
“…So you want to know about my master…”
No. 700672 closed his eyes as if letting himself be overcome by nostalgia, but this was only for a brief moment, as he soon opened his eyes again and started talking.
“My master and we descended upon this planet about 5,000 years ago, according to its calendar… At that time, there were probably about 1,000 masters.”
Apparently, each of these ‘masters’ used to keep one or two servants.
“Therefore, when I say ‘master’, I’m referring to my own master. And when I say ‘masters’, I’m referring to all of my own master’s companions.”
Jin and everyone else on Hourai Island were convinced by this answer.
“In other words, the ‘Nega-Dolls’ were made by my ‘masters’, while the ‘Aguja’ was created by my own ‘master’.”
“Understood. Can you tell us the name of your master?”
“I… No, none of us Servants are at liberty to speak of our masters’ names. It would seem that they held up their own names to a certain degree of sanctity.”
Once again, No. 700762 closed his eyes as if he was completely exhausted.
Neige silently covered him with a blanket.
Reiko, Ann, and Alectus moved away from the bed.
“Well, I’d say we’ve learned a lot about what we wanted to know.”
Ann nodded at Reiko’s statement.
“Yes. I’m sure there’s a lot more Master would like to know about, but I think this ‘Nega-Doll’ is our biggest concern at this moment.”
“Yeah. I think we only need to know how to disable those needles… ah, ‘Agujas’, then we can leave.”
“That would be nice to know.”
After a brief moment, Alectus slowly approached the bed. Neige raised her face to meet him.
“I’m sorry. There’s one more thing we’d like to know…”
“…I know. You want to learn how to disable the ‘Agujas’. I heard you.”
“That makes this quicker then. Could you please tell us?”
“Certainly. At the very least, I can help you with the controlling portion that I made. It’s in the room next to this one. Neige can take you there. But… I don’t know if the ‘failures’ have made any changes to it.”
That meant that the ‘failures’, in other words, the ‘Nega-Dolls’ had the ability to create their own ‘Agujas’.
“Don’t worry about it. We’ll release my clan from their grasp, and then we’ll set all other clans free as well.”
“Hmm, I see. …Neige, please show them. No. *?$&D#.”
There were some unintelligible words at the end, but still Neige walked ahead without hesitation. Then she silently pointed at a Magi Device. It was slightly different to the one Reiko and the others had disabled earlier.
“Is this it?”
It had three large windows, and eight smaller ones.
“Then I do this here.”
Neige then operated two small levers and four small buttons, and the three large windows went dim. The device seemed to have ceased functioning.
“This should do it.”
After saying that, Neige trotted back to the small room so that she could stay close to No. 700672.
“You have my thanks, No. 700672 of the Origin clan.”
Alectus offered him a bow from his slightly distant position.
“No, none of this would have happened if only we hadn’t been so careless. …So you ought to be careful, and don’t underestimate the ‘failures’. That’s all I can say. If possible, I’d like you to destroy the ‘failures’… though that might prove to be impossible.”
No. 700672’s voce had gone feeble.
“I would like to tell you where the ‘failures’ have set up their base of operations… But that’s outside of what I’m aware of. I’m sorry I can’t help you in that regard.”
“I see, that’s too bad. …Ah, that’s right.”
The thought of having to go back to the surface soon brought another question to Ann’s mind.
“There were a lot of traps on the way here. Do you think you can disable them?”
No. 700672 was visibly confused. Ann explained to him the obstacles they had to overcome before meeting him.
“I see. As far as you’ve told me, most of them had been set up by the ‘failures’. They can come and go as they please using their Transporters, so having this place full of traps doesn’t really affect them in any way.”
“Ah, I see…”
The complexity of the traps had varied from simple pitfall traps to the complex and otherworldly chlorine gas room, with golems and everything in between.
The party couldn’t shake off the feeling of inconsistency in the selection of traps, but there was a clear reason behind that.
“Were some of those traps added by the ‘failures’ after taking into account that they didn’t need to use the hallways?”
“Perhaps. Moreover, most of them were set up while I was sleeping. Originally, it was just barriers and similar things.”
Reiko, Ann, Laojun and Jin were all convinced by his explanation.
“Ah, there’s more.”
No. 700672 continued, as he had just remembered something.
“When you want to go outside, look for the ceiling of the aisle just outside of this window room. There should be a vertical shaft that connects directly to the surface. With a Fallen One amongst you, you should be able to use it to return to the surface safely.”
And then, after his words of advice…
“I wish all the best for the future of the Fallen Ones.”
No. 700672 said those words, and then once again closed his eyes.
“We’ll come back here one day for sure.”
After a gentle stroke on Neige’s head, Reiko finally left the room. Neige was probably older than Reiko, but neither of them seemed to care about that.
Once the party left the white room, the door behind them quietly closed itself.
“So I guess homunculi don’t need food in order to survive.”
Reiko muttered her observation.
“That’s right, sister. It’s possible that they only need Ether to sustain their bodies.”
“If so, the Ether Stampede might have had a huge impact on homunculi. Maybe that’s why No. 700672 has been asleep for so long…”
While having that conversation, and going back the way they came, Ann suddenly stopped.
“…’Nega-Doll 001’ may come back here as well. No. 700672 said that he didn’t know about what other base of operations he may have, but we should take preventive measures in case he decides to come back here.”
“You’re right. But what should we do?”
Then, a message came from Laojun.
“…Ah, I see. …Yes. …Understood.”
Laojun then sent 10 Land Units and 10 Mini Smiths to their location via transfer machine.
The role of the Mini Smiths was, of course, to analyze the Magic Tools and Magi Devices in the area.
Alectus had a doubtful expression on his face since he didn’t know that Reiko and Ann had such means to communicate, but it was still too soon for him to share these details with him, so the party left the window room in silence.
“A vertical shaft… ‘Sonar’ …Got it, it’s this way.”
Instead of simply trying to guess where the shaft was, Reiko used her “Sonar” and searched for openings and hollow sections around the corridor, and quickly found a cavity that extended upwards 5 meters ahead of their position.
The walls of this cavity seemed to have handrails and indentations that could be used as steps.
A quick check with “Trace” revealed an influx of magical power, but there didn’t seem to be any traps in the vicinity.
“Should we give this a go?”
Alectus started climbing up the vertical shaft all the way up until he found a ceiling of sorts. There was a hatch there, and when he placed his hand over it, it opened just like the door leading to the white room.
“So is this something only the ‘Fallen Ones’… no, the ones that had inherited the blood of the ‘masters’, can open?”
Past the hatch, there was a spiral staircase attached to the walls of the 1-meter-wide vertical shaft. Its steps were only 50 centimeters wide, but it was possible to climb them easily by walking sideways.
After climbing for 20 meters, they arrived at a small room of about 3 square meters. As soon as the three of them had entered this room, the hatch to the vertical shaft connecting to this room closed itself behind them.
Following the knowledge passed down to them by Jin, Reiko and Ann concluded that this room could be some kind of air-lock.
“Perhaps this door here would already lead us outside.”
Alectus looked behind his shoulder, seemingly wondering when would they be able to come visit this place again after crossing that door.
The room itself was completely empty, but for some reason, he felt somewhat reluctant to part from it.
“Mr. Alectus, if you will.”
Ann’s voice successfully brought Alectus back to reality, and he promptly placed his hand on that door as well.
And just like the others before it, this door opened without making a sound.
The cold air from the outside flowed in, and Alectus quickly fastened the collar of his coat. His breath came out completely white. The temperature seemed to be below freezing.
Night seemed to have already fallen, as it was pitch dark outside.
“Let’s go back to Capricorn 1.”
Reiko, who could see clearly even in this total darkness, pointed the party in the right direction.
The three of them then started walking that way.
The barriers that had stood in their way before were now gone, and so the party of three was able to safely return to Capricorn 1.