Mariela didn’t know why the low-grade potions or the demon repellant were selling for 200 times the price, but this may be better. Not only is she getting more than what she expected, she also no longer has to go through the trouble of finding a buyer.
As she thought about it, she realized she’d be making more money than she ever has by only selling nine potions. From her pouch, she handed them three demon repellants and five low-grade potions. They set the potions in a magic box that was designed for storing potions for an extended period of time.
That chest is something used to store much higher quality potions. It’s designed to preserve the effects of potions for years with no degradation in their quality. Mariela was an alchemist and she didn’t have something so rare. It’s expensive because it uses devil stones to preserve the potions.
When a potion leaves the area it was made, or more specifically, when a potion leaves the area with the vein in which the drop of life was taken from, the drop of life will quickly evaporate and all that will be left is just medicinal water. If you put the potion in a storage box like this, even if you leave the area of the vein, the deterioration of the potion will be suppressed. So it isn’t that strange that the Black Iron Transportation Corps who are travelling throughout many different areas would own such a storage box. However, considering how expensive the devil stone is, it seems strange to use such an expensive material to store low-grade potions. Although, if the potion is actually worth one large silver coin, it may be worth using this storage box.
The man that earlier was whispering to Captain Dierk handed the money to Mariela.
This man was rather slender and elegant compared to the stern appearance of Captain Dierk. He had loose, wavy blonde hair tied back behind his head and emerald green eyes. There’s something different about the way he acted as well. The way he carries himself reminded her of a nobleman. It appears this man’s name is Marlowe. By the way, Itome-kun’s name was actually Lynx-kun.
Mariela realized she never actually introduced herself, and so, she made sure to properly greet them.
“Mariela-san? Do you have any plans to sell more potions?”
He asked her this with a smile, but his eyes were definitely not smiling. She took this question to mean that if Mariela is planning on selling any more, then she must sell the potions to them.
(I’m terrible when it comes to finding out people’s true intentions.)
“If I have the required components, then I will be glad to sell them.”
She gave an obscure answer. It was difficult for her to read the situation and this caused her to feel slightly guilty.
The Black Iron Transport Corps had agreed to take her to the labyrinth city.
She was offered a seat in the carriage but was afraid of sitting in the iron box with almost no windows. Plus, she also wanted to see what the stampede had done to the world. She told them, “It’s not that far to town,” and was given a spot on the back of the carriage.
By the way, her herb skirt had been removed and was now hanging off the side of the carriage.
“Ha~, I’ll sit here too.”
Lynx sat down next to Mariela. The seat on the back of the carriage was wide, but it was still cramped with two people.
Mariela felt that they may be trying to keep a close eye on her.
Mariela didn’t feel uncomfortable as Lynx casually shortened the distance between them.
The iron carriage continued on down the road. Although the carriage was moving rather slowly, the ride wasn’t very smooth. This is the first time Mariela had ever been on a carriage. If the journey was longer she was afraid her butt would start to hurt due to the bouncing carriage. They moved slowly through the forest, yet the carriage was shaking so much. Mariela wondered how bad it would be if they were to go much faster. She was afraid she’d get dizzy from the bouncing and may even fall off the back of the carriage.
When she voiced her concerns to Lynx, he reassured her it was unlikely for them to encounter any demons this close to town. On top of that, the sun was still high in the sky. This is why they could continue on without much worry. The forest wolves from earlier had been chasing them from some far off place. Lynx explained that they would chase the wolves away once they got to this area. This would prevent any of the demons from reaching the city.
“Anyway, where do you live, Mariela?”
“I used to live in the forest, but for one reason or another it’s become unlivable….”
She casually looked at her surroundings while trying to avoid answering Lynx’s question.
They should be reaching the defensive city soon.
As they grew closer to the defensive city, Mariela began to feel anxious. Lynx must have noticed this and tried to reassure her.
“It’s okay. It’s still daytime. You don’t have to worry about any zombies or wraiths coming out. Well, no matter how many times I pass through this place, I never get used to it. It’s not a pleasant place to visit.”
The carriage arrived where the defensive city….should have been.
Mariela had her suspicions. They kept calling this place the, “Labyrinth City.”
But, to her, the Stampede felt like it only happened yesterday.
All of the buildings were neatly lined up in the city,
The shops overflowed with various goods,
The food vendors lined the streets with their delicious smells attracting anyone nearby,
The noise from the lively adventurers,
She could remember it all so clearly.
There was no trace of the buildings that reminded her of ant hills from the many improvements they had gone through,
Even the massive stores which carried many different items were reduced to nothing but rubble.
The smell of the sweets and foreign cuisines being sold by the food vendors was gone. All that remained now was the smell of trees and grass.
Not a single sound came from this now destroyed city.
“This town could even rival the Imperial City, yet it was destroyed overnight. It’s dreadful to even think about it. Are you okay? You look really pale.”
(I rarely talked with any of the people here, but they were all kind to me.)
“Were there any survivors…..I mean, did anyone escape……”
It was clearly a strange thing to ask, but Mariela needed to know.
“Huh? Oh, you mean in the labyrinth city? There are survivors, well, I mean their descendants anyway.”
(That’s good. At least some people survived.)
Mariela was about to let out a sigh of relief when she heard Lynx’s words.
“Well, that was over 200 years ago. It’s almost like a fairy tale now.”
She was asleep for that long.
I was left speechless at this inordinate amount of time.
Lynx continued talking, but his words did not reach Mariela.
She was still overwhelmed after hearing the defensive city had been destroyed and she had been sleeping for 200 years. After Lynx tapped her on the shoulder, she finally came to her senses.
“I-I’m sorry. I guess I’m a little tired.”
“Well, you were out on your own in the Demon Forest. It makes sense that you’d be tired, but we’ve arrived at the labyrinth city.”
At some point, the armoured carriage had come to a stop. Vice-Captain Marlowe seems to be requesting entry through the gates.
She climbed down from the carriage and saw a familiar wall in front of her.
The former Kingdom of Endalgia, now the labyrinth city.
The familiar white walls that once surrounded the city of Endalgia.
The walls must have been destroyed during the stampede.
One side of the outer wall was white and Mariela could see there had been countless repairs made to the wall. There were daisy vines (which hide your presence from demons by absorbing the magical power in the atmosphere) covering one side of the wall.
There was also a large gap between the outer walls and the forest. In this space she could see Boromintella, the medicinal herb used to repel demons, growing.
Both of these herbs were planted around her hut in the forest as well. These plants are a necessity for people living in an area with demons. But these plants created a frightening site when combined with the contrasting white walls of Endalgia. The vines from the Daisy plant crept along the walls like a blood vein and the field of Boromintella looked like a sea of red due to the plant’s purple and red leaves.
After 200 years, the glory of the Kingdom of Endalgia was now nothing but a fairy tale.
The main gate on the outer walls, which was always open except in emergency situations, now sat closed. There was now a small side entrance that only one person could pass through at a time. This door also had several guards blocking the entrance. Captain Dierk seemed to know the guard at the side entrance and, after exchanging a few words with each other, Mariela could hear the sound of the large gate beginning to open. She sat on the armoured carriage as it passed through the gate and entered the city.
The scene beyond the gate was unrecognizable.
Unlike the outer defensive city, the capital of Endalgia had many large buildings made of stone. Some of these stone buildings still remained standing while the outer defensive city had been completely overtaken by the forest.
Nevertheless, more than half of the large mansions in the capital were now nothing but rubble. The remaining buildings were rundown and had been repaired with random pieces of stone and wood. The people that repaired these buildings obviously had functionality, rather than aesthetics, in mind. The beautiful buildings of Endalgia patched here and there with discoloured rocks and wood. It gives the viewer a sense of unease, similar to seeing a beautiful work of art smeared with mud.
The main street was made of cobblestone and had seasonal flowers on either side. Now, you could see patches of dirt in the road where the stones had been removed to be used for repairs. The remaining cobblestone had fine cracks all around it. Instead of the flowers lining the road, you could now see the occasional makeshift stall of a trader.
Every person that passed by was either a guard or an experienced adventurer. In a small side alley, Mariela could see an injured labourer crouched down. she wondered if he was unable to find work.
If a person that had seen the capital at its peak were to see the condition it is in now, they would likely shed a tear or two. However, Mariela was more affected by the site of the outer defensive city.
The capital was a place for the citizens of Endalgia. It was no place for refugees like Mariela.
The grand gate leading to the capital was left open to show off the magnificence of the city, but it was not welcoming to refugees. Mariela was only able to pass through the grand gate on one occasion; when she needed to attend the ceremony to become an alchemist.
The transformation within the city gates didn’t bother her and gave her time to regain her composure.
“Hey, Mariela. Since you haven’t decided where you’ll be staying tonight, how about staying with us? This area isn’t exactly the safest place. There are all sorts of shady people around here. We need to unload the carriage first, but that won’t take long. So how about coming with us?”
(It seems they won’t be releasing me even though we’ve reached the city.)
Since they first met, it’s been fairly obvious they only want Mariela for her potions. Their intentions were pretty clear.
(I’m a little worried if I’ll be able to negotiate properly.)
But, they did appear genuinely worried about her….
(They paid for the potions and never tried to intimidate or restrain me. We were alone in the forest for at least an hour, if they wanted to do anything that would have been the time. I don’t know if I can trust them yet, but staying with them seems better than going out on my own when I know nothing of this new world.)
“Thank you, it would be a great help.”
She conveyed her honest feelings and Lynx just smiled in reply.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.