They decided to sneak in during a time when Kellston wasn’t there. Mathius discovered that Kellston didn’t oversee the ruins on the nights he worked with us. Besides the first days they worked in the ruins, Kellston and Korn switched between who worked nights. Mathius thought it had something to do with more and more guild members freaking out at night. Mathius assured her it was tied to superstitions about ghosts and a few people going missing. That didn’t really sit well with Nova but if she wanted to sneak in, night was the best option since Oren wasn’t around during that time.
The other issue was Korn. Nova would have liked to convince Korn to look the other way but it was too risky. Though she thought Korn wanted to help her, in the end, he answered to Oren and she couldn’t chance it. Luckily, Korn got bored with watching the guild members and often went into the dungeon to kill monsters. No one said anything to him about it, not even Oren, so she supposed they were just happy that someone was whittling down the monster population.
Honestly, Nova was sort of glad of that herself. She had no desire to meet up with a monster down in the ruins. She hadn’t replaced the staff that was broken but she was given another knife by Helena. Fortunately, Helena hadn’t been too upset about the knife that was destroyed during Nova’s fight with the flesh sether. She was more pissed at Oren for the attack and happy that Nova managed to fight the monster off.
Helena had been a great support. Nova wished she could bring her with her but she didn’t want to endanger Helena’s job by getting her involved in a theft. Nova wasn’t fooling herself. It was theft since Mathius had agreed to give Kellston pick of the first two artifacts. Nova only managed to excuse it because she had never agreed to the terms and she was the one who found it.
“Are you nervous?”
Nova looked over at Mathius. He had a map in his hand and was staring at her with a worried expression on his face. They both stood in the tunnel that they had used when they first arrived. Nova had been worried someone might have found out about it by now but if Oren’s people had discovered it, they had decided it wasn’t worth guarding.
“Aren’t you?” she asked.
Nova nodded to the map. “You ready?”
Mathius rolled up the map and nodded. “Ready. Are you sure about your plan?”
Nova looked down at her wrists. Several bits of stones were wrapped around her wrist, embedded into a twine bracelet made by Erissa. The seamstress had jumped at the request. Nova suspected she thought it was a new fashion idea but the request was purely one of utility. Two more of the bracelets were wrapped around her ankles and a large one wrapped around her waist. Mathius wore the same thing. They both had crystals to go with them, threaded with a complex wind and nature weaving.
It took her a week to figure out the weaving and even then, it was incomplete. She had spent whatever spare second she had studying the weavings in the floating paths in the marketplace as well as the one in the ruins for the floor. It was that, combined with talking to Tinle about ward networks every spare minute she could.
Honestly, she felt like she rushed it but she thought she had a grasp on it. Of course, if she was wrong, getting caught would be the least of her worries.
She turned to Mathius and grinned. “Maybe?”
“Maybe?” Mathius said with a frown. “There’s a lot riding on a maybe.”
Nova nodded her head. “Yeah.” She paused and then shrugged. “You could back out.”
“Not a chance,” Mathius said with a grin.
Nova couldn’t help grinning back. Unlike before, she didn’t feel afraid. It wasn’t completely gone, the fear of the ruins, but it rested in the back of her mind. Right now, she felt excited. The past week had been filled with weaving and now she was going to get her hands on an artifact. She was fortunate that Tinle had allowed her to pay for empty crystals in exchange for making several wind, water, nature, and fire crystals.
Mathius nodded and they began making their way through the tunnels. The journey there was the normal route they used, but when they came up from the tunnel they didn’t go towards the door. Instead, they took a different path. Mathius suspected it was the route Korn had used to follow her and Mathius the day she almost died in the ruins.
“It’s cramped and remember to not enter until I say,” Mathius said.
Nova nodded. A wave of nerves made her jittery.
Mathius crept across the rubble, going the opposite way of the secret door they used. He led them to a spot several meters down from their tunnel. The entrance was covered in debris and they had to crawl into the tunnel.
“This place has a lot of hidden spots,” Nova mumbled as they crawled deeper into the tunnel. She stayed behind Mathius as he crawled.
“I don’t think they were hidden,” Mathius said. “They were doors and windows that were destroyed or caved in due to the attack.”
“What actually happened here?” Nova asked. “Ava also said there was an attack.”
“Hayeln was invaded by a rival kingdom. Some people who weren’t satisfied with the King snuck them in for a surprise attack. They had strange weapons that no one could fight against, not even the Knights.”
“What sort of strange weapons?”
“Don’t know,” Mathius said. “All I know is that after the attack, King Hayeln put up the wall. Back then, everyone was grateful. It stopped people from being slaughtered. I don’t think anyone expected the wall wouldn’t come down.”
Nova didn’t say anything to that. Protection that became a prison. She had heard of many things like that happening in history so it wasn’t too much of a surprise.
“Stop,” Mathius said in a hushed voice. “Give me a second.”
Nova nodded but she tried to lean to the side to catch a glimpse of what Mathius was doing. Mathius had been reluctant but, in an attempt to help earn her trust, he had admitted he had been practicing summoning. He had to do small summonings because anything big would draw the attention of the guards and possibly the Knights.
Too bad she couldn’t see from this angle.
There was a soft grunt and then the whisper of cloth as Mathius began to move his hand. She knew one of the big drawbacks of Mathius’s summoning skill was the time it took. It wasn’t something he could instant cast. It took time and precision.
Nova waited and waited. After a while, she started to get bored. All she could hear was mumbling. She looked off in the distance, wondering if there were monsters ahead. It was one of the reasons Mathius had never used this route, besides it being cramped. Mathius said more than likely, Korn had cleared the monsters out when he entered through here but there wasn’t a guarantee there weren’t more.
A purple glow caught Nova’s eye. She quickly turned and as she did she saw the glow grow around Mathius. Nova quickly switched to mana sight. She could see the threads floating in the air.
Nova watched the mana threads gather. The mana was complex and when she tried to focus on it, it was like her vision would shift. She switched to mana touch and tried to reach out. As she did, she felt the mana slip through her fingers as she tried to grasp it.
She started to try again but then pulled back, realizing she really didn’t want to mess up Mathius’s summoning. She turned off her mana sense, though she found herself curious. Trying to touch the Royalty mana had been strange. She wondered if that meant her mana transfer didn’t work with Royalty mana. She knew royalty mana attunement was different from others, maybe it meant she couldn’t use it like she could with others.
If that was the case then why do I have Royalty mana?
“It’s done,” Mathius said and as he spoke she heard the movement of several little legs, and then a small creature, about five inches tall, ducked under Mathius’s arm and scurried towards her. Nova reared back and smacked her head against the tunnel ceiling.
“Ow,” she muttered.
Mathius chuckled. “It’s okay. They won’t hurt you. I told them not to attack.”
Nova stared down at the creature. It was skinny but muscular with long pointed ears. The face was large and round with a wide mouth filled with pointed teeth. It looked like a gremlin.
“Go ahead. Make sure the way is clear,” Mathius ordered the creatures.
She couldn’t see past Mathius to see how many of the creatures he had summoned. But from the noise, she knew it was more than two or three. The gremlin that had come to look at her squinted its bulbous eyes at her before turning and scrambling off with the others.
“Wow. That’s sort of freaky,” Nova said, looking in the direction she assumed Mathius’s miniature army went. “Are they the only things you can summon?”
Mathius shook his head. “I can summon another group of creatures and of course, I summoned you and Trixie.”
“Yeah…” Nova said.
Things got quiet after that and they waited. It was twenty minutes before Mathius stated they could move again. They continued crawling through the tunnel until they reached the exit. Mathius had them pause before exiting the crawlspace. Silently waiting for some sort of signal before finally stating they could exit. When they did, Nova was surprised to see two flesh sethers outside the entrance. They were dead, covered in claw and teeth marks. At least eight gremlins stood over the corpses, looking up at Mathius with varying expressions of hunger, impatience, and awe.
“Master, can we eat it?” One of the gremlins squeaked out.
Mathius looked surprised at the request. He paused and then nodded. “Bring it with you into the tunnel. Stay there until I call for you again.”
The gremlin bowed. “Yes, master.”
The gremlins split into two groups and then dragged the corpses into the tunnel with excitement. Nova felt a little queasy at the thought of the gremlins chowing down on the flesh sethers. She shook her head. It was time for her to do her part.
[Welcome back, Soul Traveler.]
Thanks. We’re trying to get into the Explorer’s Guild without anyone seeing or sensing us. Do you have a route?
There was a pause.
[I can guide you to the courtyard but once there I cannot guarantee people won’t notice your arrival.]
Nova expected that but that was what the rocks were for.
That’s fine. Notify me once we get to a spot where people will notice us.
Before they started moving, Mathius pulled out a black crystal. It was a void crystal, one Mathius had gotten from Oren during the short time he had worked for the Sanitation Guild, making maps for them. It muffled sound and was why Helena hadn’t been able to eavesdrop on their conversation. The crystal had a range large enough to muffle sound in a little less than a 1.5-meter radius from the person holding it. It meant they would have to stick close.
They moved swiftly with Ava notifying Nova where to go. Honestly, everything was going smoothly. They almost ran into a patrol but they ducked out of the way quick enough with Ava’s warning. Eventually, they reached the opening to the explorer’s guild and Nova took a breath. It was time to see if her plan would work.
She pulled out a yellow crystal. Despite it being a wind crystal, there were subtle threads of green weaved into it. The nature weaving intertwined with the wind weaving. It was the key to how the floating floor worked for the market and in the ruins.
“Remember,” she whispered to Mathius. “Don’t drop the crystal. I’ll go first.”
This would make or break her plan. Nova took a deep breath. Gripping the crystal in her palm, she pressed it against the nearest wall. She then activated it. There was a soft hum that seemed loud to her ears, making her grateful that they had the void crystal to muffle sound. Then she felt a pull against the stones in her bracelets and belt.
Suddenly, she was slammed into the wall as she was pulled forward. Her head bounced against the wall and pain rushed through her.
“Nova,” Mathius hissed. “Are you alright?”
“Yes,” Nova said. “Just stronger than I expected. Still, this is good.”
She moved her hand with the crystal up. At first, the attraction seemed too strong but she pushed against it and moved it up. She then pulled the rest of her body up. She did it two more times and soon found herself climbing up the wall.
“It worked,” she whispered excitedly.
“It did. This is amazing,” Mathius said.
Then they were both climbing up the wall until they had reached the ceiling, clinging onto it. Nova felt a wave of accomplishment but she knew this was the easy part. They had to make it through the entrance and climb across the ceiling before anyone noticed them.
Alright, Peter, let’s see if the comics hold up.
Nova took a deep breath and started to move.
I hope you’re enjoying my fantasy LitRPG webnovel. Check out my patreon to read ahead.