Not far from the city in Troll Canyon was the hastily made rescue group of Elia. A tall cliff was before them, and in one corner could be seen a giant rock as tall and as wide as several adults put together.
“Is this the place?” [Rheinbach]
“Yep, no doubt about it. That’s the cave that leads to the underground passage. The entrance should be at the end of this opening here...” [Shiva]
Shiva’s gaze was upon a crack in the cliff beside the giant boulder that was barely big enough for a person to pass through.
“According to the letter this opening here should lead to a passage after opening it with earth magic. Rheinbach, Sebasu...” [Shiva]
Rheinbach and Sebasu went through the narrow crack with Rheinbach’s Assassin Snake, while the others kept watch for any bandit that might attack the moment the path opened.
” ‘Break Rock’ ” [Rheinbach]
As Rheinbach signaled with his hands, he invoked his earth magic, causing the deepest part of the crack to collapse and opening a path big enough for people to pass through one at a time. There were no signs of enemy even after the path was opened, so Rheinbach checked his surroundings for a bit, and after confirming that the coast was clear, he called out.
“It’s clear!” [Rheinbach]
“Good! Let’s go!” [Shiva]
The first to follow were Oslo’s group, followed by the four girls and Remiri, and then, Shiva.
“It’s... huge.” [Oslo’s party member]
Just as one of Oslo’s friends said, the interiors of the cave were huge. The Dark Guild had removed almost everything unnecessary to create a path big enough to fit several carriages side by side. If not for the untouched ceiling and the narrow stones extending from it, it would be almost impossible to tell that the place was a limestone cave.
“Wind is blowing from the other side.” [Oslo]
The direction Oslo pointed to was none other than the direction toward the deeper parts of the cave, a path made from clearing the stalactites in the cave.
“Wait, let me get our transport ready.” [Rheinbach]
Rheinbach summoned two magical beasts with a body 10-meters long and the shape of a crescent moon, upon which were ruffled thorns, and a tail at the back.
“Spike Armor Armadillo, huh.” [Oslo]
“They don’t look good and aren’t very comfortable to ride on, but they’re much faster than horses. Just sit yourselves in between the scales and lean your back onto them.” [Rheinbach]
Everyone took on Rheinbach’s suggestion and rode on the back of the spike armor armadillos except for Oslo, who could fly. Like that they rode through the passage as fast as they could, tearing through the humid air as they did.
After a few minutes of following the path, the interiors changed from the natural look of a cave to something man-made. The width and height of the road remained unchanged, but the ground and the walls were now clearly man-made, magic jewels faintly lighting the path from the walls just enough to see through the dimly-lit tunnel without needing extra light. The road slanted downwards and air could sometimes be felt through the holes in the walls to the sides.
No enemies came, not even undead, despite the whole place being seemingly built for an attack. They followed the crooked tunnel like that until Kanan suddenly said out loud.
“This smell...! I smell explosives up ahead!!” [Kanan]
“Kanan-chan, are you sure?” [Remiri]
“Yes. It’s the same smell I smelled when I was brought to observe Drilling and Blasting as part of my magic tool artisan training.” [Kanan]
“Ryouma did mention the enemy being in possession of gunpowder... Can you tell where the explosives are?” [Shiva]
“The smell is strong, but...” [Kanan]
“I see... We’ll just have to keep an eye out for it. Rheinbach!” [Shiva]
“I’ll slow down a bit.” [Rheinbach]
After Rheinbach ordered his magical beasts to slow down, and then proceeding down the tunnel for a good minute or two, the smell of explosives became apparent not just to the dog-tribe member, Kanan, but also to everyone else.
“....It seems to be up ahead.” [Sebasu]
Just as Sebasu said, after continuing down the path, they reached a dead-end. The lights were gone, and the tunnel was collapsed, leaving behind only the strong scent of explosives.
It takes a great deal of specialized knowledge to handle explosives. The slightest mistakes could lead to an unfortunate accident. Moreover, with fire and earth magic being much easier to use, not to mention cheaper and safer, explosives were really only used in mining and in the army.
But right now that very explosive was used to collapse the tunnel, forcing Elia’s rescuers to a standstill.
“I don’t hear anything and the dust hasn’t been stirred up. It’s safe to say that the tunnel was collapsed long before we got here. I don’t know how much of the tunnel’s been collapsed, but we don’t have any other lead other than this. We’ll have to clear out the rubble.
But just to safe, let’s first dig out another path to ensure we have a way out. Be careful not to cause a cave-in.” [Shiva]
As Shiva gave orders with a stern face, the group started to dig. But it was then that the girls did something they didn’t expect.
” ‘Dig Tornado’ !” [Michelle]
The spell Michelle casted was essentially ‘Break Rock’ mixed with a tornado. With a single cast she immediately managed to cut open a path 7 to 10 meters ahead. Having lost their support, the rocks started to collapse, but it was a good distance away, so they didn’t get caught up in Michelle’s tornado.
Some rocks still blocked the path, so Michelle casted another spell.
” ‘Crack’, Miyabi!” [Michelle]
“Leave it to me! ‘Flame Bomb’!” [Miyabi]
After Michelle created a crack inside the rocks, Miyabi blew them up. Rheinbach and Oslo’s group ensured that the road would hold up, and because they were working together, they were able to spread out the consumption of magic power among them.
While all of this was happening, Kanan and Riera were digging out another path outside just to be safe. When they managed to dig out a path leading outside, some undead appeared, which they quickly subjugated to keep the others from wasting their strength.
” ‘Dig Tornado’ ...We did it!” [Michelle]
After casting the spell ceaselessly, a hole could finally be seen in the rubble leading to the rest of the tunnel. Barrack and Shiva went ahead to check for enemies, and when they were sure that the coast was clear, they called out to the others.
“Good job! We wasted a good 20 minutes or so because of this, but if it weren’t for you, I’m sure we would have spent longer here. Block the alternate route we made, and bring everyone here. We’re continuing our chase!” [Shiva]
“Yes!” [Michelle & Miyabi]
After gathering everyone and passing through the rubble, they all drank some potions to recover their strength, and then they continued through the rest of the tunnel in pursuit of Elia.
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