But Carmen Baltas? The last name was unusual as Baltas was famous in this wild north.
Only because of one man, Black Wolf Ensis Baltas.
The best general in the north was known far and wide as the strongest protector of the queen and a strict man of principle.
As if he noticed my thoughts, Carmen wore a bright smile.
Ensis Baltas, the Black Wolf, is my father.
However, in case you misunderstood, let me tell you in advance that I am a bastard.”
Bastard? A bastard to that picky man of principle Black Wolf? As far as I knew, he’d been alone ever since he lost his wife.
I guess a person’s reality is usually different from the gossip.
However, it wasn’t polite to ask more here, so I gently changed the subject.
“Can you introduce me to the people behind you?”
Carmen’s clear and cheerful response was the kind that aroused friendliness from anyone.
“The name of the one wearing this hooded robe is our Wizard Tonisa.
She is the one who will lead us to the ancient ruins.”
Tonisa didn’t even look at me but only slightly bowed her head to say hello.
I didn’t need to get closer to her, so I just smiled and bowed my head back.
In the first place, most of the wizards were small-minded idiots.
The way to become a wizard in this world was simple: be born right away as a wizard.
Born with magical powers from the time they left the womb, there were slight differences between individuals.
Still, when they reached a certain age, they awakened.
Then, a huge amount of information about ancient magics flooded their head.
In this way, they were reborn as true wizards who used ancient spells and their innate magical powers to distort the world’s laws at no cost.
However, they were naturally hesitant to learn, perhaps because of the information about ancient languages in their heads.
As a result, most wizards were strong thugs lacking in culture.
Finding culture in a wizard was as difficult as finding a white rabbit crouching in the pure snow.
So, there was no need to worry about them.
Carmen watched the wizard and I exchange greetings and then introduced me to a heavily armed one-horned man.
“This is Succus.
He’s always been a reliable friend.”
The one-horned man named Succus stepped out and reached a hand out to me.
“Nice to meet you, Demon Slayer Marnak.”
I flashed an awkward smile and held out my hand.
“Just call me Marnak.
That nickname is embarrassing.”
“Your achievements are nothing to be embarrassed about.
His large hands held mine tighter and tighter.
Right, this man was like that priest Cornu.
He was a social fellow because he was a priest, but the members of his tribe typically enjoyed the combat.
When dealing with them, it was convenient to act a little tough.
Tightening my grasp, I pulled his hand closer.
Then Succus, who had a bigger body than mine, felt his weight shift.
Pushing out with one foot, I gently tripped him.
His large body fell to the ground with a heavy thud.
I reached out my hand to him again and smiled.
“Is this enough?”
Succus laughed from his spot on the ground.
“Hahahaha! This is great! Great! As expected from the Demon Slayer! His strength is a match for our one-horned tribe.
I really like this subtle but wild personality!”
Succus grabbed my hand and pulled himself up.
“I’m glad you like it.”
“After this is over, let’s have a drink together!”
“I’ll look forward to that day.”
To me, having lost my sense of taste, alcohol was nothing but water.
Still, there was no need to make the atmosphere awkward by refusing.
Carmen smiled cheerfully when he saw that I had finished greeting them.
“Now that we’ve all said hello, why don’t we get going? Let’s keep talking as we go.
We’ll have to walk two full days to the ruins anyway.”
Burning firewood, sparks popping.
In the dark night, the campfire was our only light.
Carmen pushed in a new piece of wood and glanced at me.
“Aren’t you going to sleep? Since your watch is over, you should rest until dawn.”
“I can’t sleep anymore.”
It had been two days since we left Guise.
Carmen and I, who were of similar age, could get to know each other quite well.
I also built a pretty good relationship with Succus.
The wizard Tonisa was a very reticent woman, so she didn’t talk much, but I didn’t really care.
I pulled out the fur cloak I bought before leaving Guise and wrapped it tight around myself.
“The more I look at it, the more I feel it, but it seems that Priest Marnak isn’t human.
Are you of mixed-horned ancestry? Is it that your father or mother was of the one-horned?”
“Since my father was certainly human, can I consider that now as a suspicion of my mother’s fidelity?”
Carmen giggled at my playful remark.
It’s a joke.
By the way, do you have any interesting stories to tell? Priest Marnak is good-looking, so you must have dated quite a few women.”
I grabbed a piece of firewood lying next to me and pushed it in.
“I am like a white snowfield that no one has stepped on.”
So, do you have a type?”
As Carmen asked, his eyes twinkling as if he was having fun, I felt a calm wriggling from my pocket.
I like a woman who stays with me.”
The wriggling in my pocket stopped.
Carmen nodded in agreement.
“Well, it’s worthwhile to wake up in the morning and see a woman sleeping next to you.”
“Now that I’ve talked about me, why don’t you talk about yourself?”
“You mean the type of woman I like?”
Carmen, scratching his cheek as if embarrassed, stared into the flames.
“To me, the heart is the most important thing.”
Mother lifted her finger as if she was very satisfied with those pure words.
But before she stopped moving, Carmen drew large breasts in the air with his hands.
“It’s obvious, but since their hearts are in their chests, to have a wide heart, you must have a bigger container to hold it.”
The Mother of Corruption was genuinely perplexed by the sudden, strange direction of the conversation.
Carmen turned to look into my eyes and gave a big smile.
“Priest Marnak, I like big breasts.”
With that dignified attitude, I felt a different sense of innocence from him.
Before I could say anything, Mother shouted loudly.
I chuckled as I patted Mother’s hand, who was wriggling to get me away from that lewd man immediately.
“It’s not a bad thing to have a strong taste.
It will be a flame to light the way for you in the future.
But, if I can give you a piece of careful advice, it’s better not to talk about it in front of the person you like.”
Carmen laughed loudly.
“Hahaha! I don’t go around talking about things like this often.
It’s all because I’m with you.
Besides, haven’t we gotten along quite well over the past few days? When I talk with you, I feel like you’re an old friend.”
In fact, I also really liked this cheerful man.
I replied with a grin.
“So do I.”
We greeted the morning with Mother yelling at me, telling me to choose my friends carefully.
But now it was time to enter the ancient ruins.
“I’ll open it.”
Tonisa mumbled an ancient language in a low voice and pushed the ‘key’ into the air.
The space distorted, and the black hole opened its mouth.
The way to enter the ruins of the ancient empire was very simple.
Obtain a key, the key item to enter the ruins.
Move to the coordinates written on the key and read the ancient language.
Finally, push the key into the air and turn it clockwise or counterclockwise as desired.
If you met these three conditions, you could enter the ruins of the ancient empire.
However, since only wizards could read the ancient language written on the key, a wizard’s presence was indispensable in exploring them.
The only exception to this was in the players of this game.
I could read the ancient languages.
I couldn’t use magic because I didn’t have magic powers.
I had tried many times to get the keys to the ruins before, but they were quite precious, and I had no connections to this world.
“Let’s go in!”
Carmen, shouting, stepped toward the opening.
Then, in turn, Succus, me, and finally Tonisa entered the ruins.
The black hole slowly disappeared as Tonisa entered with the key.
The only way to leave the ruins was to use the key or find an exit somewhere.
Carmen and I exclaimed together.
In fact, seeing the inside of the ruins that I had only ever seen before through screenshots on the Internet made my heart flutter.
It was a huge white building at the end of a tunnel made of white stone.
However, there was no sign of life to mar this neat beauty.
There was no chirping of tiny birds, no loud chirping of insects, no animals bounding.
There was no sound of life; only the years’ silence settled.
The lingering aftertaste of emotion faded, and Carmen smiled against the dreary stillness.
“Shall we go inside? It seems like a better-preserved ruin than I’ve ever been to, so there must be plenty of relics.”
Well preserved? I braced myself at Carmen’s words.
The fact that the ruins were well preserved meant that the rating was quite high.
That said, there was a high probability that a high-level guardian would appear.
Of course, there was the possibility that it could be a bonus ruin without a guardian.
There was nothing wrong with being nervous ahead of time, though.
I moved forward with pounding anticipation after Carmen’s lead.
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