Dawn had just broke when they headed to the northern sector of the town, the border between the commercial zone and where farmers and the livestock-industry people lived. Near the northern gates, there was a Yagu shop where one could rent Yagus. There were many cases where a livestock farmer would rent out their Yagus as a side business.
“Excuse me, I would like to borrow a strong Yagu that can carry 2 people please~”
Entering the store, Mariela politely requested.
“I don’t think I recognize your face, but finding a Yagu strong enough to carry a young lady and such a thin man shouldn’t be a problem,” The shopkeeper’s kid said, bringing them to a fine male Yagu.
It cost one silver coin per day to rent the yagu for a day and it came with a complementary feed bag. Apart from that, the deposit was two large silver coins, which would be returned to them when they returned the Yagu.
They gave the Yagu some vegetables from the feed bag, and it immediately took to them, nuzzling their faces.
They practiced riding the Yagu on the premises. Mariela was capable enough, but Sieg was overwhelmingly better. Was this just due to their difference in motor skills? The Yagu happily ran, its pace light. Mariela could only borrow one because of the price of the deposit, but even if Mariela had borrowed two, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to ride one without falling off.
With Mariela in front and Sieg in the back, they headed for the North Gate.
Inside the Labyrinth city, there were eight gates in total. There were four small gates located to the East, West, South, and North that led outside the city. The gates were only the width of a Yagu. The residents of the Labyrinth City used these gates when they needed to go out and work in the field or to hunt. The gates were small enough that a large monster couldn’t enter the city and the smaller gates would be easier to defend against small monsters trying to enter. Although this may be inconvenient, these gates weren’t intended to be used for trade, so the inspection to enter and exit the city didn’t take long.
They were stopped because the guards didn’t recognize them. The guards asked to search their bags and when Mariela told them she was going out to gather herbs, one of the guards said, “Be careful out there. Even if you don’t go near the Demon Forest, there’s still a chance you may encounter a demon.”
They rode the Yagu slightly north-west out of the northern gate. The north side of the Labyrinth City had a few rivers and many shrubs suitable for grazing. On the northwestern side, many rivers flowed from the mountain ranges, and the agricultural zones were bountiful. North of the river was a forest. This was a sparsely populated, ordinary forest, but low-level demons would occasionally be seen in this area.
However, since Mariela used a demon repellant, they could definitely cross this kind of forest safely.
“Mariela-sama,” Sieg looked back in the direction they had traveled from.
“Ah… as I thought, he followed us.”
Mariela thought it was Lynx. The potions were due tomorrow, so she wasn’t surprised to see Vice-Captain Marlowe or the Captain had sent someone to monitor her.
(I don’t want people to know where I’m going today. Sorry.)
Stopping the Yagu, Mariela took out several pieces of paper from the pouch and let the Yagu eat out of the feed bag. She passed the paper to Sieg. These were something she drew yesterday after napping.
“There’s mana in this. Hold on to it until I say so.”
She let the Yagu run for a bit.
The Yagu with two people meandered in the forest. Just like the trees that melded together, the appearance of the two of them and the yagu gradually disappeared.
Swoosh~, the trees seemed to sway back-and-forth. No, it seemed like the trees were moving. Even someone with eyes as sharp as a hawk’s. Swoosh~. Any sign of them faded as they melded with the forest.
“Wow, I lost sight of them. Seriously? Sieg’s amazing. No, was that Mariela?”
Lynx’s shadow emerged from the forest. Being the scout of the Black Iron Transport Corps, his abilities were adequate for even the Devil’s Forest. He never thought of losing track of Mariela here. He scratched his head.
“I’ll get scolded by Vice-Captain Marlowe. Nevertheless, I guess I can only return if this is the case. Sheesh, if I had known this would happen, I wouldn’t have lent Sieg my knife.”
Lynx was supposed to escort Mariela, but there was no point since he had already lost sight of them. Lynx’s arms spread open. Mariela was a little worried that they only had a shovel and an axe for a weapon, but if they’re just going into these woods, they shouldn’t be in any danger.
Mariela was able to travel alone in the Demon Forest, so she should have no problem in these woods especially with Sieg as a companion.
Lynx’s shadow floating in the forest faded away and dashed back to the Labyrinth City.
After Lynx left the forest, they ran through the river for another hour or so.
Mariela followed the river and arrived near a waterfall.
“We should be fine now. He isn’t following us anymore?”
Mariela had little ability to sense her surroundings, so she was just guessing.
“Yeah, we’ve long since lost him by now, but what is this?”
Sieg opened the palm holding the reins and stretched out the crumpled papers.
Damp and moist with sweat, something like a figure was drawn on the piece of paper.
“Oh right, it’s a magic circle requesting trees to conceal us and to mislead followers.”
[Forest invitation] made it easy to move in the forest, and you can go without catching your legs on branches of bushes and trees. [Presence-deprivation] literally hid your aura and magical powers, and by using [Deception] for this, you could easily escape most pursuers and demons. These were all skills commonly used by skilled hunters.
No matter how much demon repellent you use, there were demons that were hard to repel. There were also evil people in the city who kidnapped young girls without families. To protect herself from such dangers, Mariela had sewn multiple magic circles into her cloak.
These magic circles were said to be the heritage of an ancient civilization, and most of them were from 200 years ago.The quality of the material used altered the effects. The simplest ones were made using any parchment and ink that a mana stone had been soaked in. However, if the figure was imperfect, it would not be activated. If the circle was distorted, it would not provide a decent effect.
No matter how good you drew, the human hand was still not perfect, and the original full-effect impossible. Most would consider achieving a result half as effective as the original to be a success. In fact, it wouldn’t be uncommon for magic circles drawn by hand to not activate at all. Because there are no better means of copying magic circles, items known as [Manuscripts] were widely sold. These were magic circles that had been copied by hand with the assistance of magic to remove any inaccuracies. Only those with the proper training couldn’t produce [Manuscripts] of decent quality.
The perfect original magic circle was only recorded in the memory of the world’s Akashic Records.
Even the few widely used magic circles now were handed down from past generations. The engraving inside potion bottles to prevent deterioration and the magical circles used to forge Sieg’s slave contract. And because these magic circles were passed down over many generations, they were far from perfect. The degradation prevention on the potion only delayed it and the slave contract was only effective when used in conjunction with the contract skill.
Studies of magic circles engraved on figures have been conducted since ancient times. People called magical engineers made various magic tools from their analysis of the magic circles. Humans advancement would never stop; if there is something lost, there would be something created as well.
“Magic circle…. I think I heard that wrong.”
Mariela hitched the Yagu to an open spot near the waterfall and ate breakfast, which she had packed. It was a yummy ham and vegetable baguette.
“My teacher was a high-level appraiser. He burned it into my head.”
Mariela’s master was an incredible person. In addition to the high level of appraisal skill that could draw out information from the memory of the world Akashic Record, he could also use magic. Of course, he also had alchemy skills.
Her master was such a genius that he was almost superhuman. However, his common sense, personality, and behaviour were all warped. Mariela was a lot more foolish than she looked because of that (referring to the memories of her teacher). Even though Mariela did not have any combat skills, her master did.
Taking in and teaching alchemy to an ordinary child like Mariela in his hut in Devil Forest could also be one of her Master’s crazy actions.
Her teacher had also made her memorise magic circles.
He had said, “I’m going to die because I’m overworked, so I’ll just teach you what is useful.”
Mariela would often let her mind wander instead of studying. After her Master reached his limit, he called her over to him and placed his hand on her head before shouting, “<<<Transcription!>>>” and burned the knowledge directly into her brain. It lasted only a short amount of time, but it was very painful.
After that, Mariela became wary of her teacher’s head pats. He would often praise her with a, “Ah~, you were able to do it, Mariela. I’m so proud~” and the next moment he would grab her by the head and yell, “A chance! <<<Transcription>>>!” A large number of magic circles would come flowing into her mind as her Master laughed so hard he began to cry witnessing Mariela’s misery.
The most painful formation to memorise was the ‘Magic Circle of Suspended Animation.’ Mariela wondered whether her head could burn any more than that as the figure was so complex. Unusually, for the first time, her master actually warned her before beginning transcription.
“You’ve been able to withstand the other formations, but the pain you’ll experience this time is like no other.”
Would it not be possible to use a more traditional method of learning magic circles? No, all the magic circles which had been transferred so far were precious. If she were to want to learn any magic circle, she just had to answer “Yes, sir.”
Mariela didn’t want to recall the severe pain she felt when transcribing the ‘Magic Circle of Suspended Animation.’ It seemed that she had lain in bed for about three days. She thought she may die. Her master told her, ‘You’re laying around in bed too much,’ but considering he had bags under his eyes, she knew he had stayed up all night nursing her. He wasn’t the type of person to show affection, but they were close.
The magic circle cannot be used just by simply remembering. It would not activate unless drawn perfectly, so hard work was needed. Mariela had no special talent, but she was good at working hard. Still, the ‘Magic Circle of Suspended Animation’ was very hard. Besides high material costs, it was complicated and large. Mariela had spent whatever free time she had drawing it out. Finally, she had finished two separate magic circles as part of her graduation task.
When Master had examined the magic circle of the assignment, he had praised her, “You graduated; you worked hard.”
Mariela was moved and cried unexpectedly, “How do you like it eh~?”
While Mariela as a small child cried, her master stroked her hair, “Yoshi, yoshi~”
Yoshi yoshi~, pat pat~, rub rub~.
“Carelessness is your greatest enemy! <Transcription>!”
While thinking about memories of her teacher, she got somewhat angry. She nibbled away at the baguette as she cursed her Master’s name.
The last [transcription] had also been intense, Mariela had lost consciousness for about a day or so, but when she woke up, she had no master.
Her teacher had disappeared, leaving only a letter. Mariela would get to keep one of the “Magic Circle of Suspended Animation,” while her Master would be taking the other in exchange for some cash. This hut is your graduation gift, so live with a good person. Do not forget to put the “Magic Circle of Suspended Animation” in the basement.
All that he had left was a few dirty letters scrawled on a note.
“I survived the stampede thanks to my teacher. All my knowledge up till now was thanks to my teacher. But somehow, I still feel angry.”
He was a messy person, but all her memories of her teacher were very enjoyable, and Mariela tremendously appreciated memories that would not be forgotten.
“It has surely been transmitted.” (Her thanks)
Sieg said with a gentle gaze.
“I see, yeah. That was my master.”
She had wanted to tell him all this time that she was thankful. She could not tell him in words, but there’s no way her master was unaware of it because he was a wonderful person.
“Mariela, you were the alchemist who survived the stampede.”
“Yup, it’s a secret though.”
Due to the lantern fire, Mariela had slept for 200 years due to lack of oxygen.
It was embarrassing, so she wanted to keep it a secret.