After finally arriving at the lowest level of the dungeon, Rei and the others had reached their destination, the Altar of Inheritance. Because of that, Elena explained the ceremony that would be performed at the Altar of Inheritance. The information that it would allow a person to absorb a magic stone’s power was unexpected for Rei.
「……You will absorb the power of magic stones?」
Hearing those words, Rei quickly withdrew information from Zepairu’s knowledge. At the very least, he had not heard of such a ceremony. But……
(It’s not in Zepairu’s knowledge, it seems. Then it should be ceremony devised in the thousands of years after Zepairu disappeared. It seems similar in result to the Magic Beast Art in terms of absorbing the power of a magic stone.)
「Umu~. Monster’s have overwhelmingly stronger physical abilities, magic power and special abilities compared to us humans. Attempts to absorb the power of magic stones, which could be called the core of the monster, into humans have been made before. However, in our kingdom, the success rate is still extremely low as the technique to do so is under research. About 90% of people who have tried were unable to endure the rejection reaction of the large amount magic power and died. Even in the rare case that it was successful, their body would change into a figure influenced by the monster.」
At the information explained by Elena, Rei was at a loss for words. But he immediately gathered himself and grasped Elena’s delicate looking shoulders.
「Did you come here to perform such a dangerous ceremony!?」
At that frantic action, Elena gave a smile that was between a smile and a wry smile.
「Don’t worry. What I just explained was there case where only mages and researchers were conducting the ceremony. As I said earlier, this technology is still undeveloped in our kingdom. It hasn’t reached the level that it could be performed easily on people. Only one place has reached that level.」
「The Altar of Inheritance. There are some occasions where such a place, named by mages and researchers, will appear rarely in a dungeon. ……like here. The ceremony done at the Altar of Inheritance is a different existence compared with what the researchers do. No, to be exact, it should be said that researchers analysed the ceremony of the Altar of Inheritance and were unable to replicate it perfectly.」
Elena glanced at the Altar at the center of the magic formation for an instant.
「As I said, the Inheritance Ceremony carried out using this Altar can be considered a completely different thing from the ceremonies performed by the mages and researchers. For example, you could consider the difference to be like the difference between a pebble and a meteorite hitting the road, a spark and hellfire, a water drop and the ocean or a breeze and a tornado.」
「……Instead of example, please tell me the specifics. What exactly will happen when you perform the ceremony at this Altar of Succession.」
「Well, there will be no change in appearance due to the the influence of the magic stone. According to one theory, the change in appearance is due to the procedure used when the subject absorbs the power of the magic stone. If you perform it on the original, the Altar of Inheritance, such things can’t happen. In addition, it allows the subject to absorb the pure magic power of the magic stone. ……Well, to put it briefly, would it be easier to understand if I said that people who perform this ceremony at the Altar of Inheritance will become an existence one step higher than humans?」
Elena explained while watching Kuust and Vel, who were investigating the ceremonial altar to prepare the ceremony.
「If it’s such a great ceremony, why hasn’t it spread around?」
「Although it is spreading, it’s still limited to kingdoms who have actually completed the technique. Unfortunately, in the Mireana Kingdom, it is still under study. The mortality rate is too high and the best we can do is experiment on death row criminals. In addition, they are promised a pardon and will be permitted to enter into the army if they survive. However, the story is different with the Altar of Inheritance. Once the ceremony is completed, the altar will collapse, so only one person can undergo the Inheritance Ceremony. As far as has been confirmed so far, its success rate is 100%.」
「Even so, why do you, the representative of the Nobles Faction, have to do it? No, if you were just a representative that would be fine. But you are the successor of Duke Kerebel, a central figure in the Nobles Faction.」
「……It’s because of that.」
「Although it is a large group of nobles, a lot of them have only joined to learn about the inner circumstances. If something happens, there’s a high possibility that they will go over to the Royalist Faction, there are also other with connections to other countries. ……Fortunately, I should say that the number of traitors are few. Still, there is the possibility of betrayal, we cannot recklessly give an individual such vast power from the Inheritance Ceremony. That is why, I, who could be called the representative of the Nobles Faction, challenged this dungeon with so few people.」
「Still, did Duke Kerebel himself realise that this would make his daughter an existence beyond a human?」
「That is so. I will not dispute that. I don’t know what he thought, but at the very least, I challenged the dungeon knowing all this. As as I said earlier, if this ceremony succeeds, I will become an existence biologically above humans. I am the representative of the Nobles Faction. When considering the advantages and disadvantages obtained by doing this, it is impossible for my father to hesitate……if he had hesitated, I would have despised him for it.」
As Elena said that, a strong will could be felt from her eyes. However, her eyes suddenly softened and smile appeared on her face.
Rei’s face reddened unconsciously and he turned his eyes to the side, incidentally seeing Vel hand over a water bottle to Kuust.
「You can relax, there have been several people who have conducted the Inheritance Ceremony so far. ……However, the magic stones that they inherited were only from B rank monster.」
「……What magic stone are you going to absorb?」
「Do you want to know? ……This is it.」
With the soft smile that she had before changed into a mischievous smile as she took out a single magic stone from her waist pouch.
It was a golden magic stone, about the size of a person’s face. Even just looking from the side, you could feel a powerful magic power from it.
It should be noted that Elena’s waist pouch had it’s capacity increased with spatial magic. However, it’s capacity wasn’t infinite like the Misty Ring, about the size of a small room, 2 Tatami in Rei’s measurements. Even so, it was a very expensive magic item that was difficult for ordinary nobles to obtain.
TLN: 2 Tatami is about 3.3 m^2
「This is……a golden magic stone? It’s huge.」
「It’s an heirloom passed down our house, the magic stone of an Ancient Dragon.」
Rei unexpectedly cried out at the words Ancient Dragon. In any case, most intelligent dragons were S rank monster, but only an intelligent dragon that had lived for a thousand years was called an Ancient Dragon. Their rank was about the same or even greater than Grimm, the Lich Lord that Rei become acquainted with on the fifth floor.
「It was a magic stone taken from an Ancient Dragon that a Duke Kerebel from dozens of generations ago had led a team of knights to subdue. It became an heirloom passed down as a family treasure of our house. I will inherit the power of this magic stone from an Ancient Dragon with this Inheritance Ceremony.」
「……Is it really okay?」
「Fu~. Rei is quite the worrying person. Didn’t I say that there had been no failures so far with the ceremony used at the Altar of Inheritance?」
「But weren’t those from B rank monsters?」
「……Certainly there might be some danger. However, it is best to do this sooner. A war with the Bestir Empire will occur in the near future and an overwhelming power is needed. In addition, as you know, I am the representative of the Nobles Faction. If a situation occurs that I lose to an enemy……you probably understand what would happen?」
The military renown of the General Princess was heralded in neighbouring countries. Right now, Elena was probably the most famous person in the Nobles Faction……or rather in the entire Mireana Kingdom. If she was defeated in the battlefield by an enemy, it was easy for Rei to guess that the Mireana Kingdom’s morale would drop to irrecoverable levels.
「And above all……as I said earlier, we only have a simplifed Inheritance Ceremony. The Bestir Empire has the technology. However, they haven’t been able to make it easy enough to perform the ceremony on a large scale……still, they seem to have enough people to use them as soldiers. Originally, the Mireana Kingdom’s national power was weaker than the Bestir Empire’s. If we are defeated in military power as well, we will lose for sure. According to the information my father obtained about the approaching war, the next group of people to complete the Inheritance Ceremony will be participating in the war. Our magic technology is inferior to theirs, it is difficult to increase our numbers using a simplified Inheritance Ceremony. Our only hope in competing is if a high quality warrior or a knight can successfully absorb the magic power from the magic stone of the Ancient Dragon using the Altar of Inheritance……in other words, me.」
Looking into her eyes, Rei tried to speak out, but stopped.
He instinctively understood that Elena’s determination wouldn’t waver no matter what he said.
「Elena-sama, it’s about time for the ceremony.」
Hearing Kuust call out, Elena nodded. Holding the magic stone of the Ancient Dragon in her hand, she gently placed it on the altar at the center of the magic formation.
「Rei and Set. I basically won’t be able to move during the ceremony. Because of that, if any trouble occurs and monsters stray here, I’ll leave them to you. The other three, Ara, Vel and Kuust won’t be able to move either in order to perform the Inheritance Ceremony.」
「I understand. If a monster comes, no matter what may come, I will protect you by all means. You can start the ceremony with peace of mind.」
Rei nodded and Set gave a cry to show his determination.
「……Sorry. I leave our lives in your hands.」
Elena said that and stood in at the center of the magic formation surrounding the altar. Watching her, Ara, Vel and Kuust nodded at each other as they sat down at each of the three magic formations that were located around the magic formation the altar was at.
「Rei, I’m sorry but could you step away from the magic formations so that the ceremony doesn’t fail by accident. Although I think I’ve mentioned it, there is only one opportunity. Whether the ceremony fails or succeeds, the Altar of Inheritance will still crumble away without a doubt.」
「I understand. I will watch out ofr monsters near the entrance.」
Rei nodded at Vel’s words and went with Set to the entrance of the room.
While grasping the Death Scythe, he leaned against the door to the room as he watched the outside. The ceremony seemed to have began as an intense light was emitted from behind him.
(The ceremony has started it seems. As I told them earlier, I should do what I can to stop monster from entering this room.)
The moment Rei thought that, Rei felt an intense pressure in addition to the light coming from behind him. Interested, he turned around to take a look. The three magic formations around the altar were emitting a green light. Magic power was transferred to the magic formation at the center, where Elena was standing with her eyes closed. As the magical light grew brighter every few seconds, the magic stone of the Ancient Dragon, which had been placed on the altar started emitting a golden light that did not lose out in brightness……and the next moment, the green light was absorbed by the magic stone.
It was no exaggeration to say that the ceremony taking place before Rei’s eyes was a fantastical sight. Originally, Rei should have been wary of monsters, but now his gaze was pinned towards the Altar of Inheritance.
Set was also attracted to the ceremony and watched as the golden magic stone absorbed the green light.
The absorption was completed several minutes after the golden magic stone had started to absorb the green light from the magic formations. The only light that was now being emitted was from the magic stone of the Ancient Dragon, which released an overwhelming presence into its surroundings.
And Elena, who had her eyes closed as she was bathed in the light, seemed to lose consciousness.
Soon, the light being emitted from the Ancient Dragon’s magic stone grew even stronger……the magic stone started to break apart as it emitted the light.
It was probably because Rei was fascinated by the ceremony that he noticed the movement. Yes, three magic formations surrounded the Altar of Inheritance. Originally, none of them should have moved from their magic formation until the ceremony was finished, but for some reason, one of them had casually stepped out. After that, they turned towards Elena and took out a dagger from their chest pocket and held it in their hand……
「What are you doing Vel!?」
At first Rei had thought that it was part of the ceremony. However, when he saw Ara standing on the magic formation with a startled expression, he noticed that it was abnormal and shouted out loudly.
Even though Ara noticed Vel’s movements, if Ara moved from her magic formation as well, the Inheritance Ceremony would no longer be able to be maintained. What would happen to Elena’s body, she did not know. Because of that, she swung the only weapon she had and threw the Power Axe towards Vel. But……
「Such an attack, did you think I wouldn’t be able to avoid it?」
Vel shifted a little to avoid the axe that flew at him and approached the Altar of Inheritance.
「Originally, I wanted to kill Elena first, but it would probably be best to destroy this since she has already inherited the power of the magic stone to some extent.」
Muttering, he swung his dagger down at the magic stone……
「Do you think you can do that!」
At that moment, Rei used his physical strength to close the gap to Vel……
Vel’s short command sounded and a magic spear struck Rei from the side as he was swinging down the Death Scythe.