136. Zerais’ Ambition
We immediately started investigating the Alchemist’s Guild after defeating the Magic Stone Soldiers that emerged from within it. I was honestly left blown aback by the fact that it was basically completely devoid of human life. In fact, the only living things we ever came across were the occasional mouse or roach.
It looked most of the alchemists had either been turned into Demonic Beings or killed in experiments’ processes. This was further evidenced by the document Zerais had left in the facility’s basement. The observation logs there within described the results of administering different dosages and the like. Even a quick glance at the report’s contents left me filled with a sense of disgust.
I’d been hoping for him to have left a few magic stones sitting around or something, but much to my disappointment, he hadn’t. There wasn’t really anything of interest, least not for us, so we quickly grabbed all of Zerais’ data before turning heel. We planned to hand it over to Gamud or Eugene a bit later on.
『Hey Urushi, are there any like escape routes or hidden passages around here or anything?』
『Oh well, too bad…』
「Might I ask how things are progressing on your end, Fran?」
Eugene called out to us and requested a quick update.
「I see. The same goes for myself.」
The Adventurer’s Guild’s alchemist continued to look around with a grim look on his face. My guess was that he was probably feeling the weight of his disciple’s sins.
「Can use them to figure something out?」
「To an extent. However, I do believe that it’s possible for Zerais to have intentionally left these documents behind as they’d provide only a miniscule amount of knowledge.」
「Precisely. None of the documents I came across contained any sort of key information regarding his processes. Hence, they left me unable to reproduce the results he’s managed to derive. The only useful information his files contain are pertinent to the conclusions drawn. There’s also just enough data left in order to evidence his conclusions’ validity.」
Ahhh, I get it now. Zerais wanted his name to be known across the land. Hence, his personality probably led him to leave just enough data behind to show off his efforts.
「This document on Magic Stone Soldiers is a prime example of what I mean to say. It states that employing the use of evil energies can allow one to engrave a single spell upon the magic stone that serves as the soldier’s core. It makes no further mention of the processes involved and hence does not provide one with enough information to recreate his work. That said though, the information presented is not required for his documents to prove his point, seeing as how the end result, the Magic Stone Soldiers, had only recently engaged us in combat.」
Eugene quickly glanced at another one of the documents he grabbed, and found it to be rather similar. It described that different humans being would require magic stones imbedded in different locations, a fact that our experience with them had solidified. That, however, was basically all the document said. It didn’t tell us how to actually figure out where to put the magic stone, nor did it describe the embedding process.
「That one… seems to describe a weapon constructed of magic stones… Hmm….」
Fran handed the document we found over and had Eugene quickly look over it. Apparently, it contained information about something that was kind of just a little bit dangerous.
The weapons described in the document were unlike the usual in the sense that they didn’t simply use the magic stones embedded in them as a source of fuel. Instead, they allowed the wielder to use the spells sealed inside of them. Moreover was the fact that they were expendable as opposed to long lasting. The most intimidating part of it all was that they could even store extra skills and unique skills, and hence, were hella useful even if only usable once.
「Zerais was… ever so talented. If only he could have used his abilities to better the world and the lives of its people…」
Eugene’s face was distorted with a look of lament.
「Magic stone weapon. Seems amazing.」
「I agree. It’s applicabilities are boundless.」
We suddenly felt a presence appear behind us immediately after Eugene finished speaking.
「Thief God’s Grace.」
『Who the hell!?』
Seriously, what!? There hadn’t been anything there just a second ago.
Fran immediately reacted by swinging me to her rear, but she wasn’t the only one to act. The person behind her also started to give off an incredible amount of magical energy.
I immediately deployed my Magic Barrier at full power as Fran turned around and faced our foe.
The person that’d been standing behind us was none other than the guy whose looks pissed me off to no end.
How the hell? Wait, I recalled him saying “Thief God’s Grace,” so he’d probably used a skill. Its name gave way to the fact that it was most likely derived from being the recipient of Divine Protection.
「Ooookay. I’ll be taking this back now, thanks.」
Zerais was smiling a prince-like smile despite the fact that I’d chopped off one of his arms. He raised his remaining hand and dangled a bottle as if to show it off to Fran.
『What? That’s impossible! That should’ve been inside my dimensional storage!』
The thing Zerais was holding was the bottle that contained the Root of Arcane Souls.
「Ahahahha, oh come on, no need for you to be looking at me like that.」
「Mmph, can’t cut.」
「That would be because he’s already turned into an illusion.」
「Woah, that was close. I probably would’ve been split in half if I teleported even just a moment later.」
I ended up passing through nothing but thin air. Zerais himself had already disappeared. He’d instead been replaced by a hologram without any physical substance identical to the one we saw in front of the guild.
「Seriously though, just who are you? You came out of nowhere, completely messed up my plans, and even managed to completely obliterate all my Magic Stone Soldiers with ease. You know how frustrated all that’s been making me? I mean, I may not look it, but I sure am.」
「Just black cat clan, D ranked adventurer. Fran.」
「Ahahaha! Nice one, nice one. You know I made it so that those magic stone soldiers were supposed to have the evil energies inside of them swell up and explode if you hit them the wrong way, right? There’s no way for a D ranked adventurer to be able to completely wipe out all that evil energy in an instant, you know?」
「I started following you around the moment you started fighting them so I could steal this little thing back from you, but you defeated them right away and didn’t show even the slightest opening. Course, I followed you after too, but you still never showed any openings at all no matter what. I ended up having to trade you one of my arms for it, but I did manage to get what I needed, so it’s fine I guess.」
「Oh you know, I decided to use a Magic Stone Weapon. It let me use the Thief God’s Grace, which is a skill that’ll let you steal anything from anyone so long as they’re within the skill’s area of effect. All the data I’ve got on you seemed to be pointing to the fact that you could use space/time magic, so I assumed you had a dimensional storage. Man, you know, I really would’ve had to give up if I didn’t have the Thief God’s Grace with me. Oh yeah, and the reason I could follow you without you noticing me is cause I was using a Magic Stone Weapon with the Perfect Invisibility skill sealed inside of it, yup.」
The pendant that’d been resting on top of Zerais’ severed arm cracked and shattered into several pieces. So that’s a Magic Stone Weapon? Okay yeah, it’s just as I suspected. Those things are ridiculous as hell, even if limited to being one time use.
「Aw man, now it and the one with the Thief God’s Grace are both all busted up. They cost a hundred million gold in total, you know? They were supposed to be my trump cards.」
「Wanted item that badly?」
「Yeah, I guess you could say that. You know, I actually really want to thank you. I probably never would’ve been able to get my hands on it if you hadn’t taken it from those god damned pirates. Man, I went through soooo much trouble for all this stuff. Thank you so much! I won’t have to write off any of my plans anymore after all.」
「And just what precisely is that supposed to be, Zerais?」
Eugene finally joined in on the conversation after staying silent throughout. It seemed that he was genuinely curious as to the identity the soul contained within the bottle.
「Oh man, not even you knew, Master? Hehehe, it’s a Chimera’s Arcane Soul. Surprised? I bet you are.」
「T-That’s preposterous. D-Did you just say a Chimera?」
「The word rare doesn’t even begin to describe it. There are rumoured to be less than five Chimeras throughout the world. They’re so dangerous that they’re all supposed to have been sealed away.」
「Ahahaha! See, I knew you’d be surprised. Isn’t this thing just great? I requested it from the Reidosian Alchemy Lab by using the Barbra Guild’s name and all that. It ended up costing me a whole billion! Man, you know much money a billion is? Actually, it wasn’t even my money, so I don’t really care. But man, it was one hell of a snag!」
「Just what are you trying to accomplish?」
「Oh you know, I’m just going to be making the strongest magic beast ever. The final product should hopefully be strong enough to destroy the entire world!」
Holy crap. That item was way more than I’d thought it was.
「Anyway, I’ve met all my goals, so I’ll actually be bidding you farewell for real this time. Buh bye!」
「Wait, hold on! Zerais!」
Eugene yelled his disciple’s name at the top of his lungs, but the other man was long gone.
「Chimera is what?」
「Ah, right. Chimeras are the most powerful artificial magic beasts known to man.」
Apparently, they were something made in an experiment involving mixing many different kinds of magic beasts together.
Chimeras were considered biological weapons ranked A or higher. The researchers that made the first hadn’t expected it to be as powerful as it was, and thus, they ended up losing control of it. The escaped subject had ultimately ended up completely ravaging several cities.
The researchers continued to churn them out in while also attempting to actually take control of them, but it turned out to be an impossible task. Several countries ultimately ended up falling to the experiment’s products, and thus, all the world’s governments ended up coming to conclusion that further research on the topic should be banned, and that all existing Chimeras should be sealed away. The researchers’ data was destroyed, and they themselves executed.
Creating a Chimera took ridiculously pricey materials, some of which came from creatures that had long gone extinct. It should’ve theoretically been impossible for anyone to get their hands on a Chimera given the current circumstances, but apparently it seemed that wasn’t the case…
「As of right now, the Kingdom of Reidos is a mess. Someone may have used the country’s state of turmoil in order to steal the Chimera whilst not knowing the danger posed by their actions.」
That’s the first time I’ve heard that. Then again, I didn’t really know much about Reidosians. The only thing I did know was that I’d already started thinking of all Reidosians as my enemies.
「The Reidosian King died a sudden death approximately ten years ago. Four of the country’s archdukes have been wrestling for control through military means ever since. The country has almost fallen into one in a state of civil war. I’m honestly quite surprised to say that it hasn’t.」
Hmmm, could that mean that Salrut and the Lich were both products of one of those archduke’s ploys? Or were they potentially products of them all scheming against one another? I wanted more information, but it seemed that Eugene had already told us everything he knew.
「I’m going to go report everything that has happened to both the Lord and the Adventurer’s Guild. Any matter involving a Chimera is of utmost importance, after all.」
It seemed like Zerais was going to have his name plastered on wanted posters all around the world. Chances were that he was probably actually going to be pretty happy about that, but it couldn’t really be helped. I agreed that dealing with him was indeed a matter of utmost importance.
We couldn’t find any additional clues, so we decided to give up and regroup with Amanda for the time being.