“What the hell is that brat talking about now?”
The Sand Shamans looked at each other in bewilderment as Eugene’s cry rang through the air. Thieves? Strictly speaking, Eugene Lionheart was the one who had invaded their territory of his own volition. This meant that the one who should be called a thief was this fearless and ill-mannered little boy.
“My Lord…!” Laman said as he heard Eugene’s cry.
Just as he was sighing in relief, his body suddenly trembled.
He recalled what the Sand Shamans had said earlier. Wasn’t he now a hostage? Laman didn’t want to be a chain around Eugene’s ankle, pulling him down. As such, he tried to pull his limbs out of the restraints holding them in place, but the Sand Shamans weren’t blind.
“Don’t do anything foolish,” came the warning.
The sand from the ground completely wrapped around Laman’s body. Having made their threat clear to Laman, the Sand Shamans exchanged glances among themselves.
“What should we do?”
“We can’t let him reach here.”
“Of course, I know that… but should we report this?”
The question was asked cautiously, the speaker’s voice laden with an unquenchable fear. The other Sand Shamans hesitated, unsure what to say.
“...We can handle this ourselves,” someone eventually decided after an uncomfortable silence, and the other Sand Shamans nodded in approval.
They didn’t want to have to send a report about this problem to their superior.
Enough damage had already been caused that this incident couldn’t just be covered up, but….
‘’It’s not like they would even care about such losses.’
This was a thought shared by all the Sand Shamans here. Quite a few Assassins and Sand Shamans may have died within a short time span, but that person would definitely dismiss their deaths as trivial.
However, they couldn’t let this matter blow up any further. Even if everyone here died, they could not allow this intruder to progress past this point.
They needed to resolve this matter before that person returned. If they hadn’t managed to take care of it by then, and that person happened to see what was going on while they were forced to ask that person for help because they couldn’t resolve it, then….
‘Death would be preferable to that.’
They would definitely be left in a terrible state that couldn’t be considered either dead or alive. Not one of the Sand Shamans here wanted to imagine themselves suffering such a fate.
These screams were heard coming from afar, but they were gradually drawing closer. Since the Assassins wouldn’t let out even a single cry under any circumstances, the source of these guttural screams that were currently reaching them had to be the other Sand Shamans.
“Let me go!” Laman roared as he was dragged to the front of the crowd by the sand restraining him.
Laman panted as he tried to struggle free. However, the Sand Shamans didn’t pay any heed to Laman’s cries. Instead, by resonating their wills with their mana, the Sand Shamans conveyed their orders to the other Sand Shamans scattered throughout the labyrinth.
At the start, fifty Sand Shamans had been stationed within this maze. But, even though not that much time had passed, more than half of the Sand Shamans had died. And not to a disciplined army, but these dozens of Sand Shamans and Assassins had been slaughtered by a nineteen-year-old young man.
The surviving Sand Shamans were gathered at this one location.
Eugene was also aware of this fact. At some point, the frequency of magical attacks had drastically reduced. And the signs of someone approaching in his direction had faded into the distance.
A large amount of mana was showing activity ahead of him, and Eugene could feel a familiar presence in the center of it.
It was Laman Sculhov.
‘Why are you tied up there when I did my best to let you run away?’ Eugene thought in exasperation.
Eugene kicked an Assassin in this skull who had attempted a surprise attack from beneath his feet. Though all the Sand Shamans had gathered in one spot, a few Assassassins were still hiding here and there along the path.
“There are a lot of things that I want to ask them, but…,” Eugene muttered as he placed a hand inside his cloak.
A large amount of mana fluctuated just as Eugene took another step forward.
The sand within the tunnel swirled. As the path Eugene was currently on collapsed shut, the sand then reached out to swallow him. This was a spell known as the Sand Prison. Even for Eugune, it would be difficult to use his magic to free himself from a spell of this scale.
But was there really a need for him to do so? Eugene took out a box that had been placed in his cloak. It contained the fragment of the Moonlight Sword. The shard that had been used for his mana training during the past few years was now sitting silently within its luxurious box.
Without any hesitation, Eugene threw the box ahead of him. The sand, which was writhing like it had a life of its own, swallowed the box whole.
“Bang,” Eugene muttered as he flipped up the hood on his cloak.
A loud sound that was incomparable to the noise that Eugene had made rang out. The Sand Prison, which had been cast by dozens of Sand Shamans working together, could not withstand the power of the tiny fragment. Although the strength of the spell had been increased by using a large amount of mana, the spell’s cohesion was weak. The sand that had been freed from the mana’s control scattered and crumbled.
Eugene waded through the pouring sand. Although tens of thousands of grains of dust and sand were obscuring his vision, Eugene’s senses could accurately detect what was going on around him, even when he wasn’t able to see ahead of him.
From above and below, the Assassins who had approached together with the sand launched their surprise attacks. Their sword-lights were ignited in an instant. Without releasing even a trace of killing intent, even their flow of mana had been held back until it was their moment to strike.
“I’ve seen this too many times already,” Eugene commented as his feet hit the ground.
Bam bam bam!
The flowing sand transformed into awls that pierced up into the Assassins.
The Moonlight Sword’s fragment had collapsed the spell and scattered its mana. During the past two years, Eugene had trained the cohesion of his mana by using the fragment as his opponent. The mana refined through this method was stronger and faster than the mana Eugene had started out with.
‘What did he do?’ the Sand Shamans wondered, more surprised at the method he had used to destroy the Sand Prison than they were at the death of the two Assassins.
Was that a Dispel? No, it was different. A Dispel was a method of artificially interfering with the mana that made up a spell. Just now, Eugene hadn’t appeared to meddle with the Sand Prison at all.
The Sand Prison had just… it just seemed to run out of mana. Even Aroth, famously known as the Magic Kingdom, didn’t possess such a Dispel. Could it be a trump card of the Lionheart clan?
One of the Sand Shamans reminded the others, “He’s coming!”
They couldn’t afford to continue panicking. The Sand Shamans licked their lips and started chanting a spell, their hands clasped together in front of their chests to make a seal.
“My Lord!” Laman let out a shout from where he was bound in the sand at the very forefront of the group. “D-don’t come here! Run away!”
Eugene snorted, “Who do you think you are to tell me what to do?”
Laman ignored Eugene’s question, “There’s no need to risk yourself to save me!”
“Why would I be here to save you? It seems like you have a strange misunderstanding,” Eugene muttered as he picked up the fragment of the Moonlight Sword that had fallen to the floor.
He felt mana gathering once more to shape another spell.
Eugene clicked his tongue, ‘I really don’t want to waste any more time.’
The location he had confirmed on the map was right in front of him. Behind the Sand Shamans, he could see a path continuing onward. Eugene’s eyes grew cold. He examined the fragment of the Moonlight Sword that he was holding in his hand.
“Hm,” Eugene hummed to himself.
The sand in front of him rose to form a giant wave. The ground beneath Eugene’s feet was pulled forward like water being drawn towards a wave. Eugene followed the path of minimal resistance and moved forward by following the flow of the sand. The bodies that were first dragged away by the sand were swallowed by the wave and crushed, dying the yellowish-white sand with a crimson shade.
Eugene raised his arm above his head. He leaned his upper body back, drawing power from his body for a throw.
When the wave was about to hit him, Eugene threw the Moonlight Sword’s fragment forward. Collapsing the spell wasn’t his only purpose behind this move. Even after the fragment of the Moonlight Sword had pierced right through the wave, it hadn’t lost any of the force from his throw.
The shard pierced the throat of the Sand Shaman who was standing beside Laman. The mana shield he had raised could not resist the power of the Moonlight Sword. Without even checking the results of his throw, Eugene lowered his body into a runner’s crouch.
Then he activated the Ring Flame Formula. He had already started up the chain of explosions earlier, so Eugene’s body was immediately engulfed in a blue blaze.
As Eugene kicked off the ground, the blue flame left a trail of fire in the air.
Charging forward, Eugene instantly leaped into the air, flying over the heads of the Sand Shamans. Even as they panicked, the Sand Shamans tried to respond. The sand in all directions began crawling over, gathering to the Sand Shamans.
But the Sand Shamans were reacting to what they saw as his obvious next move, when the actual attack would come from above their heads, from the ceiling.
Eugene pulled out the hand that he had inserted into his cloak.
A black whip unraveled across the ceiling and swept Eugene’s surroundings. Although he didn’t really enjoy using it, Eugene was also good at using a whip.
The flexible whip wrapped around a Sand Shaman’s neck. As Eugene pulled sharply on the whip, the Sand Shaman’s head was sent flying into the air as Eugene’s body was pulled to the ground.
Laman tried to raise his fallen body, but he was immediately left with no choice but to lie back down.
The air was filled with screams and blood. A blade of wind sliced through everything above waist height, both sand and flesh. Bullets of mana wove in between the crowd. And blue flames scattered everywhere. As the Sand Shamans’ attempted incantations were cut off in screams, the sand spells cast by the remaining dozen shamans were scattered by a single gust of wind.
As Eugene danced among them, he almost looked like a ghost. Whenever he was about to be caught by a spell, he would escape with a Blink. Then he would flare his cloak to swallow up the spell and spit it back out in a completely different direction.
Eugene’s weapons were constantly changing, and when they focused on defending against his weapons, Eugene would use his magic instead, and he didn’t hesitate to swing his fists or legs either.
Laman wasn’t even aware that it was possible to fight like that.
When even a warrior like Laman felt amazement, there was no way that the Sand Shamans could react flexibly enough to deal with this assault.
The Sand Shamans couldn’t help but panic, ‘What kind of spells are these…?’
Eugene didn’t even use any incantations. He didn’t even use any casting techniques, and the process by which his spells were formed was so fast that they couldn’t even be seen. The spells were cast instantly. Not just on their own, but in groups or consecutively. The power of the spells cast in this manner was also absurd. As for how many Circles they were cast with? It was impossible to tell.
The Circles of the spells that had been cast weren’t that high, but their power and speed were far beyond the Sand Shamans’ understanding.
Right until the end, the Sand Shamans couldn’t comprehend the enigma called Eugene.
After a short time had passed, blood had stopped spurting everywhere, and there weren’t any screams either.
Though, there was a smell of urine in the air.
“What were you all doing here?” Eugene interrogated the survivor.
Of the dozens of Sand Shamans who had started this fight, only a single one was left alive. His teeth were chattering in fear as he looked up at Eugene. The situation was far beyond the survivor’s comprehension. The undeniable reality of what had happened filled him with great horror. The Sand Shaman trembled as he pinned together his thighs which were damp with urine.
The Sand Shaman stammered, “You… just what on earth… are you…?”
“I asked you what you all were doing here?” Eugene repeated with a frown and waved his hand.
A swiftly thrown dagger was now lodged in the Sand Shaman’s thigh.
The Sand Shaman groaned, “Gah…!”
“The military force here is too small for this to be a garrison stationed by the sultan. So what were you doing here without orders from the sultan?” Eugene questioned him.
The Sand Shaman tried to pretend ignorance, “H-hold on, just what on earth are you talking about…?”
“I don’t really want to bother with interrogating someone like you. So listen up. Will you die, or will you tell me what I want to know?” Eugene threatened him.
“Wh-what’s happening here isn’t under the sultan’s command,” the Sand Shaman eventually admitted.
“Then whose is it? Could it really be the Emir of Kajitan? What kind of nonsense is that motherfucker thinking of playing at this deep underground?”
“It’s… it’s not him. We may have received his cooperation, but….”
Eugene threw another dagger.
The dagger pinned the Sand Shaman’s other thigh.
“A-Amelia Merwin,” the Sand Shaman finally answered as his face contorted in pain. “This is Amelia Merwin’s dungeon.”
“...Don’t lie to me. Amelia Merwin’s dungeon is in the Yuras desert,” Eugene stated.
“Sh-she’s been staying here since six years ago.”
Eugene’s eyes narrowed. He shook his head as he tried to ignore the ominous thoughts running through his head.
Once he had composed himself, Eugene asked, “...Why did Amelia Merwin come all the way here?”
The Sand Shaman fell silent, “....”
“Are you afraid of Amelia Merwin? If that’s the case, then I will ease your concerns. I might kill you, but you can be assured that that is all I’ll do. I’ll allow you to die an extremely comfortable and simple death,” Eugene offered the man.
The Sand Shaman’s eyes fluttered. He took a deep breath and then clasped his hands to his chest.
“...This… this labyrinth was created to accelerate the desertification. There are many other labyrinths apart from this one in the Kazani Desert, but this labyrinth… it was created ten years ago,” the Sand Shaman explained.
“So what?” asked Eugene.
“...Six years ago, the labyrinth expanded. We had believed that an unstable portion of the earth had collapsed, but then a large gate was found deep within the earth.”
“Yes… we tried to open the gate ourselves, but we couldn’t do it no matter what we tried… so we… requested the assistance of Amelia Merwin.”
Eugene nodded as he pulled out another dagger. Seeing this, the Sand Shaman felt relief instead of fear.
Eugene’s thrown dagger pierced the Sand Shaman’s head. The Sand Shaman collapsed backward, dead. As Eugene had said beforehand, he had given the Sand Shaman a painless death.
That was what the Sand Shaman had desired. Now that things had turned out this way, Amelia Merwin’s rage was inevitable. That vicious black wizard didn’t just kill her enemies; she enslaved them. It was better to just die comfortably than to live as an undead, neither dead nor alive, wishing for death for the rest of his existence.
Eugene muttered to himself, “No wonder. I thought the military force stationed here was a bit too weak.”
Among all the black wizards to have signed a contract with the Demon King of Incarceration, Amelia Merwin was a special existence. Both Balzac Ludbeth, the master of Aroth’s Black Tower of Magic, and Helmuth’s Count Edmond Codreth, had become black wizards by signing a contract with the Demon King.
However, Amelia Merwin had already made a name for herself as a powerful black wizard even before signing a contract with a demonfolk or a Demon King.
Those who did so were able to claim great benefits when signing contracts with the demonfolk. Of course, Amelia Merwin had indeed conceded her ‘freedom’ to the Demon King of Incarceration. Still, it was a clear fact that she enjoyed much greater freedom than other black wizards.
‘If there’s a black wizard of that level here, there’s no need to garrison this labyrinth with troops.’
The reason for Sand Shamans and Assassins to still be here? They were here to act as Amelia Merwin’s caretakers and punish any travelers who approached. From what the dead Sand Shaman had said, Amelia Merwin’s ‘real’ dungeon was still in the Ashur Desert… so Amelia Merwin must not spend much time in this dungeon.
“M-my lord,” Laman spoke up in a trembling voice. “We need to get out of here. I-If this place truly is Amelia Merwin’s… the ‘Black Thorn’s’ dungeon….”
“When we’ve already come this far?” Eugene snorted and began walking forward. “Fortunately, Amelia Merwin isn’t in today.”
“C-can’t we just turn back now…!” Laman pleaded.
“And what if we do leave? Do you really believe that Amelia Merwin won’t pursue us? She’ll probably do so anyway. Although I don’t know her, that’s what I would do in her situation. I would definitely want to hunt down the person who intruded into my villa and caused such a mess,” Eugene reasoned.
“...,” Laman couldn’t think up any arguments.
“That means we are left with a bad situation no matter what we do.”
Eugene wasn’t confident about the results of a conflict with Amelia Merwin. If at all possible, he had wanted to avoid her. However, now it seemed inevitable. If that was the case, they might as well confirm what they were here for before trying to escape.
Or at least that’s what Eugene had decided. Without looking back at Laman, Eugene walked past the corpses.
When Laman followed him, Eugene asked, “Why are you following me instead of running away?”
“That’s… we don’t know what might happen from now on,” Laman feebly explained.
Eugene impatiently asked him, “That might be the case, but I asked you why aren't you running away?”
“Lord Eugene has granted me his lifesaving grace twice now. If… if Amelia Merwin returns and tries to kill you, lord, then I… I will give my life to open a path for you,” Laman swore.
“You? For me? Huh…,” Eugene turned to look back at Laman in confusion. “With what ability?”
“...Even without ability, I can still buy time with my life,” Laman protested.
“Instead of doing something pointless, why don't you just run away?”
“There’s no way I can abandon you, lord, and leave on my own.”
“What do you mean, abandon? I’m the one telling you to go…,” with a click of his tongue, Eugene raised his hand.
Then Laman suddenly lost consciousness. Eugene had no need for Laman's death. That said, he also couldn’t just drag Laman along with him, so Eugene just stunned him and threw him into a corner.
Eugene’s thoughts turned away from Laman to what lay ahead, ‘...A gate?’
Six years ago….
Six years wasn’t all that long ago.
That was back when Eugene was thirteen.
‘Back during the Bloodline Continuation Ceremony.’
After it was over, he had entered the Lionheart clan’s treasure vault.
Inside there, he had discovered Hamel’s keepsake.
Eugene tightly gripped the necklace that he was wearing around his neck.
‘This labyrinth has been around for ten years, but this part of the labyrinth only collapsed six years ago.’
What if the magic sealing his ‘grave’ disappeared when Eugene picked up this necklace?
If that was how that ‘gate’ had appeared….
“There was another graverobber.”
Since he’d been reincarnated, this was the first time Eugene had such a cold and clear desire to murder someone.
Eugene looked down at the deep hole leading further into the earth. This current location was already quite deep underground, but the end of the pit in front of him led to an even more unfathomable depth.
“They sure buried it deep,” Eugene grinned, then he threw himself into the hole.