Chapter 478: The First Clue: The Cemetery, South of the City
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Northern City of Gladstone
This was where he had spent his first night in the world of Firuman, and also where he first met Celine.
Back then, the Bloody Butcher Lund of the Dark Elves had plotted to raze the whole city. Now, the Agatha Nagas had set their sights on this place and had begun spreading an epidemic here. This city was simply a magnet for all manner of calamities.
Link and the others had ridden on a one-foot-wide, 20-foot-long wooden log to the city.
Link saw nothing out of the ordinary from outside the city. There was no sign of the soldiers from the fortress up north, or even of an outbreak in the city. The only thing that struck him as odd were the passers-by walking down the streets hurriedly, a dark cloud hanging over each of their faces.
Link let out a sigh of relief.
"We seem to have made it in time," said Link. He found an empty clearing in the woods outside the city and began lowering the wooden log to the ground while regulating his Void Walk in the air.
The Warriors leaped down, a look of amazement on their faces, as it was their first time riding a wooden boat through the air.
It felt like a dream to have a mere wooden log fly them over 500 miles in one hour.
Without any delay, Link began assigning tasks to his entourage.
He said to Felina and the other two Red Dragon Warriors, "You three stand by at the main path 50 miles from here. Once the army from Orida Fortress makes an appearance, report back immediately. Also, keep yourself in the shadows. If you meet any Agatha Nagas, do not engage them."
Felina nodded. "Understood."
The three Red Dragon Warriors then headed for the North. They did not transform into their dragon forms, as it would stand out too much.
Link then turned to Skinorse. "So are you coming with me, or will you be going back to your friends?"
Skinorse thought for a moment, then said, "I'd better go back. They're still probably waiting for me."
When he finished, Skinorse fished a small pouch from his pocket and handed it to Link. "Here, the white stones that you wanted. I went digging in an ancient tomb and managed to find 23 of those stones. See if this is what you wanted."
Link scooped the stones out from the pouch, and much to his joy saw that the white, round stones were indeed Jogus. He put away the pouch. "Excellent, I'll keep that in mind. You still need 78 more pieces to receive your reward."
A pained expression came across Skinorse's face. "If only I had known to collect these stones from the start... I've been to a lot of tombs, and those kinds of places are just brimming with them."
Link was overjoyed to hear this. "It's not too late. Remember, the more stones you collect, the better your reward will be."
"I know. Then I'm off." Skinorse then scampered off into the depths of the dense forest.
Celine, King Leon, and the 19 marksmen were all that was left of his party.
Link said to King Leon, "Your Highness, we're about to enter the city. I don't think it would be a good idea to keep your royal robe and crown on you."
At first, King Leon had intended to put the soldiers in their place in the barracks with his royal garb. Right now, though, their main concern was to handle the epidemic in the city. Wearing something as gaudy as a crown into the city would bring more harm than good to their current objective.
"Alright." King Leon did not make a fuss about it. After all, danger abounded in the North, and his survival depended solely on Link.
When King Leon had put on his guise as a normal commoner, Link said, "Alright, let's go into the city."
Saying this, he activated Dimensional Jump.
Hum... A white light enveloped the whole party. In an instant, they were teleported beyond the city walls and now found themselves in an isolated alley in the old city district of Gladstone City.
An M13 branch was stationed in the old city district. If Link was to have the latest information on the epidemic, the M13 would be a good place to start.
However, their party consisted of 19 Warriors, and they were all wearing the same uniforms while being armed with powerful magical pistols. The follower responsible for the rampant spread of the epidemic would immediately be alerted of their presence in the city.
Their only advantage now was the element of surprise, as the Agatha Nagas still had no idea of their current whereabouts.
After much thought, Link pressed a hand on a stone wall in the alley. Dragon Power flowed out from his fingers into the stone. Three seconds later, he managed to grasp the layout of the room behind the stone wall.
It was probably a wood merchant's warehouse. Almost half of the space inside was left empty, while dry wooden logs were piled up in the other half.
Link then teleported the rest of his party into the warehouse.
Once inside, Link drew out a few spatial runes on the walls in order to set up a Folded Dimension. The area of the already spacious warehouse doubled instantaneously as a result.
"Your Highness, Celine and I will start looking for information outside. Everyone else, stay here."
Link gave a rune stone to King Leon. "If you find yourself in danger, just infuse your Battle Aura into this rune stone, and I'll be by your side in half a minute."
"I understand." King Leon nodded.
Link then said to his Warriors, "Protect the king at all costs."
"Yes, my lord!" shouted the Warriors in unison.
After leaving enough food and water to last for a month for his men, Link drew another rune on the stone wall. With a soft tap on the rune, a spatial door appeared on the wall. Link and Celine both strode out through the door, leaving the warehouse behind them.
Once outside of the warehouse, worried that Celine had not yet fully recovered, Link asked, "How are you feeling?"
Celine twirled a pistol in her hand and smiled at him. "Never felt better. For some reason, my recovery rate has improved tremendously."
The spirit of the sword spoke to Link in his mind, "Celine's blood has awakened considerably. Take a look at her hair and eyes."
Link did as he was told, and noticed that Celine's hair had become even more lustrous, with a layer of purple dreamlike haze shrouding it. Her eyes had undergone an even more astonishing transformation; her pupils were now a pair of purple, seemingly bottomless whirlpools.
The spirit of the sword added, "She's starting to look more and more like the Soul Dominator."
Link was happy to hear this. He beamed at Celine and patted her head gently, "Good to hear. Let's go, then!"
The fountain square in the old city district was the same as the last time he was in the city two years ago. The only difference was that the wooden buildings that were burned down by Link had been replaced by even more fireproof stone architecture.
As they approached the iron fences of the M13 building, Link cast a Traceless Invisibility Spell on both of them.
Gladstone was a small city, and the strongest scout under the employ of the M13 branch here was no more than Level-5. None of the people inside even noticed them when Link and Celine entered the building.
They made their way to the commander's office on the second floor. Link then knocked on the door.
Save for the sound of someone knocking on the office door, no other sound could be heard from outside the office. The clerks outside continued sifting through the piles of paperwork in front of them, too busy to notice anything strange.
"Who's there?" A gravelly voice came from within the office.
Link pushed open the door and walked straight in, followed by Celine from behind. Once inside the room, Link removed the invisibility spell from both of them, revealing themselves instantly.
"I never said you could come in!" The gravelly voice spoke again, this time with a hint of anger.
Link searched for the source of the voice and saw a middle-aged man sitting at the end of a long table, a long scar running across one side of his face, his eyes cold and piercing. He was busy writing a letter with a quill gripped tightly in one hand.
With a sweep of his keen eyes at the table, Link was able to read what the man was writing. It was a written report to the M13 headquarters concerning the state of the epidemic.
Due to the fact that King Leon had been residing in Ferde all this time, the M13 headquarters had been moved to Scorched City of Ferde.
This meant that the letter would ultimately reach Scorched City.
"Who are you?" The middle-aged man had drawn out his dagger, his face alert and furious.
Link did not want to disclose his identity immediately. He seated himself opposite the man. Gazing at him, he pushed at the air gently in front of him. "Be calm!" said Link assertively.
It was a psychological spell called the Koan of Kund. It was named after a Magician known as Kund. Under the effect of this spell, all manner of emotion, be it fear, happiness, excitement or anger, would be quelled in the target.
Kund the Magician was said to have invented this spell as a prank. However, as a result of a joke taken too far, one of his friends ended up being sexually dysfunctional.
Under the spell, the M13 commander's eyes widened. All agitation in him had been flushed out, and his voice was now level and calm. "How may I help you?"
Link asked, "There's an epidemic in the city. I need to know the current state of the situation."
Hearing this, he could feel a violent tremble from the man's spirit. His face betrayed a look of horror. "There's nothing good to speak about the situation. You'd best not hear about any of this, trust me."
Link and Celine glanced at each other, sensing that the man was hiding something.
Link said even more firmly, "Tell me."
The man hesitated for a while. Unable to resist the spell's effect, he said, "We've found the altar of an unnamed deity in the city. We believe that it may have something to do with the epidemic. This was our only lead. Our scouts have tried to delve deeper into the matter, but all of them have disappeared without a trace. The ones we've sent as a follow-up have also met the same fate as the others. This is just terrifying. This epidemic must be an act of judgment from the gods!"
"All gone... Are there any survivors?"
"None. We only managed to find one of our Warriors' corpse. His entire body was covered in deep wounds, and his arm had been shoved into his throat when we discovered it. This is beyond my jurisdiction. I need backup, I need stronger Warriors. I need to be quick. News of this should not spread out of the city walls, or else that bloodthirsty butcher in Orida Fortress will have all our heads!" The middle-aged man began rambling, but he had already given all the relevant pieces of information to his interrogator.
Link said, "I'll need the coordinates of this altar."
"The cemetery, at the south of the city. Every night, strange noises are reportedly heard from its depths. The guards and even their dogs were too afraid to venture any deeper into the place. A couple of kids had gone in there, though, and they came out infected by the disease. They were among the first batch of the infected."
Link now knew everything he needed to know.
Link said to Celine, "Alright, to the cemetery!"
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