Chapter 9 – Boundary City
It was about time for it to come into view, huh.
We had been travelling along a narrow valley between the mountains for a while.
Rocking back and forth in the carriage, we passed through a dull rocky area, when suddenly, one side of the mountain abruptly cut off and opened up our view. What came into sight and caught our eyes was Termuilles and the vast, expanding sea behind it.
Shouts of joy could be heard from the Forest Bird members outside of the carriage. The corners of my mouth curved upward as I instinctively understood their reaction.
“Theo-kun! Grace-san! It’s amazing!”
Lucian informed us excitedly from the driver’s seat.
Grace, who sat beside me, looked out from the carriage window at the superb sight.
“This certainly…is amazing…”
Grace’s voice escaped in admiration of the view. I can understand her high spirits from looking at this view. To be honest, I think the best view of Termuilles is from a high place like this.
Like in Japan, if one chose to take a day to visit this world, a published sightseeing magazine would have photos of Termuilles on its front cover.
Termuilles was a city adorned with outer walls in a near perfect circle. The first thing that people would notice was probably the Ceorem Palace that oversees the heart of the city. One could see the silhouette of the setting sun and the sea from there.
The Ceorem was a giant high-rise building, unlikely to be found anywhere else. The majestic appearance of its tall towers, that seemed to soar into the heavens, was overwhelming to all who saw it. The Ceorem was made with white stone and was impressive enough to leave one speechless.
A shrine was nestled within the Ceorem and acted as an entrance to the labyrinth.
Although it was originally a relatively quiet building with a different structure than the absurd Ceorem…it had been modified to complement the Palace later on.
Surrounding the Palace and its shrine were streets that spread out between houses and shops.
Within the heart of the city, the buildings closer to the center were old, stone buildings, while the ones built further away were ordinary.
It was rumoured that the castle and the streets within the heart of the city were originally part of the labyrinth…but there was no credible basis for this. They seemed to be using the ruins as they were, but even if it were true, if you ignored the extraordinary things like the scale of the interior and adornments, the structures themselves seemed reasonable. Speaking of reasonable things, since it wasn’t actually part of the labyrinth, there was nothing more to it.
“Although I’ve heard about it from stories, it’s pretty amazing.”
It looked like Forest Bird had also longed to come to the Boundary City, but, for now, they seemed to be considering how to improve their abilities here. That being said, in reality, this was the first time any of them had visited the Boundary City.
“The expansive labyrinth is underneath that city, right?”
“That seems likely for this place, as well.”
After supplementing Monica’s words with an explanation, all of them turned their eyes towards me.
“No, well, it’s fine to think of the expansive labyrinth and the small mountain we’re walking on as one and the same. You can see it from here, and from the mountains over there as well.”
“Well, although there was originally a mine that ran through the interior of the mountain, its internal structure has changed as it eroded into a part of the labyrinth.”
There was a reason it was called a large, living labyrinth. It wasn’t just that its structure changed, its environment was like an underground forest, thickly covered in vegetation. Though, one of the areas within the forest, The Twilight Forest, had a completely different ecosystem than normal forests. Even though there were also areas connected to the sea…the lower levels weren’t submerged in water at all, so it was completely abnormal.
There were also many transfer spots that allowed one to move from area to area. I had no clue what happened to the labyrinth’s structure as a whole, though. Thanks to this, it seemed that students and researchers were at their wits’ end, studying the labyrinth day after day. There were even quests for on-site investigations where researchers had slight nervous breakdowns.
When they sorted out the rough sketches in order to create a full map, they thought about things like the area’s length, relative positions, the structural interior, and the increase and decrease of new areas that, more than likely, weren’t there in the beginning…This confusion was what normally came out of these investigations. It was completely a ghost story.
These were also reasons why it was called something like ‘Boundary City’ and ‘Passage to the spirit world.’ Although places like the 「Old Mine Path」that ran directly under this mountain were ordinary labyrinths with comparatively low danger rates, if someone dove deep down, the abnormalities and dangerous Demons would gradually increase. The exploration of the deeper levels should progress slowly.
“I’m sorry…I might’ve made light of Termuilles.”
“I’ll only warn you that you’ll be unable to return to your original spot if you go to a different area or level in the large labyrinth, though I think you already knew about that.”
“Wasn’t it…a door with a one-way passage?”
“Speaking of that.. From the stairs on the 1〇th floor onwards, its structure will be like that, completely. You will come to understand about the one-way doors that connect to another area.”
Although I spoke like it was from hearsay, this came from personal experience. There were passages related to this amongst the books I read in dad’s study but, well, it was all within the range of common sense.
“Well, how will we return once we go inside the labyrinth?”
Grace asked. This was the most frequently-asked question, though it seemed like all of Forest Bird knew about it.
“Stones called Dimension Stones are scattered within…if you use it when a stele, which are also scattered around, is in front of you, you will be able to return to the entrance. Red Dimension Stones will let you return immediately from wherever you are, but you won’t be able to bring it back with you if you use it up inside of the labyrinth.”
“The reds are for emergency evacuation, is it?”
“That’s correct. By the way, you won’t be able to bring back the usual Dimension Stones. The Red Dimension Stones are a separate matter, and you can take them outside of the labyrinth. They are valuable and are worth quite a bit. After all, there are a lot of guys who misjudge the situation and end up dying because they wanted to take the Reds back with them, instead of using them. Speaking of when you could use the Reds, it’s fine to assume that various situations will happen, so discuss what to do if they happen and decide from there.”
When one entered the labyrinth, they were able to transfer from the stele of the labyrinth’s entrance to a level they had previously gone to at least once. If one took a normal Dimensional Stone outside of the labyrinth, it would break apart. It was also said that there was a high risk in transferring to a deeper level.
That’s why Dimension Stones could only function within the large labyrinth, and it was important to procure them locally.
Even if one found a stele, they could only wait for their death by demons, since it was impossible to escape without a Dimension Stone. You could also get lost while searching for Dimension Stones. It was different from BFO, where you would be returned to the entrance on death.
“Yeah. Well, why don’t we discuss this later. I’m sorry for boring you to death with such a topic.”
Robin nodded his head on everyone’s behalf when I said that. I wonder if Forest Bird is fine with this much.
“About the Dimension Stones, you’re able to transfer goods out of the labyrinth, right?”
Lucian asked while tilting her head, so I nodded to her.
“Yeah. You draw a circle with something that looks like blackboard chalk…that allows you to make a simple Transfer Gate to transfer goods out of the labyrinth. I think that there are probably short courses on that if you go to the guild to get permission to go down into the labyrinth.”
“I’m just bad at remembering fine details like that.”
“I don’t think it’s that difficult though. As long as you learn it from a book, that is.”
One could send goods out of the labyrinth as long as a transfer magic formation was drawn outside of the labyrinth ahead of time.
If the layout of this magic formation was correct, it wouldn’t matter if it was ordinary ink that was used. However, the person who drew it had to be the one to transfer the goods, or else it wouldn’t function. It was desirable to have the whole party draw one.
At Boundary City, there were businesses that lent out something similar to warehouses. These loan warehouses were established at inns and were said to be for Adventurers. They were included in the inn fees…and it was strictly forbidden to draw transfer magic formations inside of one’s inn room.
Although you couldn’t transfer living things out of the labyrinth with the usual Dimension Stones, the possibility of dangers like fires and other such things had to be considered.
“Theo-kun is well informed.”
“I’ve studied books after all.”
“…Are there other things we should be careful about?”
“Before you descend down into the labyrinth via a transfer from the entrance, you should check the phase of the moon. It’s fine to go when it’s a new moon…but it is better to avoid going at all costs when it’s a full moon. Though, I think that the personnel at the entrance will warn you about that.”
“On the day of a new moon, only the suggested routes will change as the walls of the labyrinth close, open, and move around, but during a full moon, the transfer zones become dangerous.”
Rather than seeming to happen, it definitely would happen.
It was called the Reverse Labyrinth amongst the BFO players…Well, the income it gave was quite delicious.
“Though it’s quite scary if the walls open and close.”
“It’s dangerous because it will change when no one is looking at it. If you know the timing from the start, you won’t get lost from your assumptions and its structure won’t change to where it’s impossible to escape. New treasure appears immediately after a new moon and a full moon, so that should be your target.”
Since I hadn’t heard stories of parties being split apart or disrupted by the structure change, this place might be user friendly…Maps were fundamentally worthless on the night of a new moon, and even if they could be put to practical use, they had to be rewritten periodically.
It was natural for elements of the same affinities to gather in similar areas, though it was possible to take measures against their tendencies to head to certain areas.
“Even though I’ve said various things, it only applies up to the 2〇th Level. When the time comes for you to think about how to proceed from there, it will be good to leave some leeway by having some Dimension Stones.”
“As for what Theo-kun says, you can’t be relieved, since it’s not that good there.”
“For what purpose would someone want to make such a place?”
Grace asked, concerned with the foundation of the labyrinth.
“It’s like a testing ground or place that protects ancient treasure…various things were said about it. I don’t understand the story behind this place very well. There is no record of what is in its depths, since there hasn’t been any humans who have seen it.”
The labyrinth was used simply because it was here, and a city had been created around it, since it was quite sturdy for humans.
As we proceeded forward while talking about this and that on the topic of the labyrinth’s interior, we gradually got close to Termuilles.
After passing through a hilly area and descending from a slightly elevated mountain, a grassland spread out before us. We continued on the smooth road to Termuilles.
Even though the day would soon be over…we were able to reach the gate and enter the queue to enter the city. It was evening, but regardless of it being day or night, you were able to enter this large city…It seemed that it would take us a while to wait for our turn in this line.