Polymath Redux Annex
Chapter 36 – Mission: Obtain the Crystal Flower from the Manatite Forest (6)
[Manatite Forest: Final Floor (Underground Forest)]
“Strange… is it not?” Mordred asked. He glanced around to the gentle, yet mysterious underground ecosystem. This picturesque scene was one that he could never have even dreamt of seeing in that busy world of dull greys. A forest carefully sustained within a gigantic underground dome. The same magenta crystals kept lit the underground with its magical essence. The sounds of small insects creaked in the distant background, stopping only when the two drew close. Small animals could be heard rustling through the forest in fright. A sudden breeze brushed by them, delivering the smell of this wondrous place.
As tranquil and peaceful as this place was, that had precisely been the problem. “Yeah, we haven’t encountered a single monster yet,” replied the short, Elvish girl. Her eyes vigilantly scanned the area, yet even with all her experienced as a skill tracker, monsters in this place could not be found. Or more accurately, there were no monsters in this place to be detected in the first place. “Dire Wolves on the first floor… undetectable traps on the second… and now this. Just what’s going on?” she wondered to herself quizzically.
“So then, something like this has never happened before?” Mordred questioned. Even if it wasn’t the same phenomenon as it was now, surely there must be times when things would be changed up. After all, this was supposed to be reality and not a static system like in games where events are all scripted.
Cecilia shook her head. Puzzled just as much as he was. She continued to lead the way to the heart of the Labyrinth, though it was unlikely that more monsters would show up to impede them. “No, something strange is definitely going on here…”
“Perhaps the answers would be there?” Mordred pointed to the distance. At the centre of this domed, forest ecosystem was what appeared to be a manmade architecture. At first glance, it was a small fort. A decorated structure, but upon closer inspection it had been severely dilapidated. Walls crumbled to the side, pillars knocked over, some of the entrances permanently closed over by rubble. Greenery and vines overgrew atop the deceased monument of civilization. There were only minute hints of what were most likely a sturdy looking outpost, but now signs of disuse counted over to centuries. “I’m guessing that’s the place we want to be to complete our mission?”
“Yeah, that’s the boss room all right. The ‘Crystal Flower’ that we’re after is usually found at the centre of that fort,” Cecilia nodded and pointed. She studied the infrastructure carefully, “no signs of it being tampered with. Whatever strange phenomenon is happening outside doesn’t seem to be affecting that place, at least not on surface. Now that the situation has come to this, I don’t know what kind of monsters or traps will be waiting for us in there so keep your guard up.”
“I understand. Then, what’s our plan?”
“We’ll procure our original objective for this mission- I didn’t spend all that time getting here just to turn back. As for the boss itself, we don’t know if that has been changed in some way either. We’ll try to avoid direct confrontation if possible, if not then we’ll go with ‘Plan B’.”
“And ‘Plan B’ is?”
“You’ll have to run distraction. Don’t worry, while Golem types are known for their immense, destructive strength, their speed is a bit lacking. If you can taunt it and have it chase you around for a few minutes, then I can use that time to obtain the Crystal Flower.”
“That sounds a little… dangerous, doesn’t it?”
“Heh, what? Are you going to piss yourself? Don’t worry greenhorn, I’ll come support you if you’re really in danger.”
“If you say so.”
[Manatite Forest: Boss Room (Overgrown Fort)]
A fort of unknown origin. At some point this place had most likely served as a forward garrison to some objective. However, now it had fallen to obscurity. It’s mission, soldiers and purpose lost to history, it now stands only as a testament to the will of nature that it would slowly reclaim everything. Dulcet sounds came musically as the winds brushed passed the exposed walls and halls. If eyes were closed, one might be able to hear sounds of wind chimes jingling in the distance. The chirping of birds and skittering of small animals gave off a serene atmosphere.
Mordred stepped forward, the soles of his greaves stepping onto rubble and grass. As though the air was congealed, he could feel the thick heat of the magic in this place crawling up his back.
Perhaps in the past there were many different areas. The only thing that remained now was an open field possibly used for the soldier’s training. It served as a large, open arena for the boss of this Labyrinth to fight against the intruders. Mordred and Cecilia walked towards the arena. At the centre was a stoned statue covered with moss and other overgrowth. It was a being entirely cast in pale stone, rubble and mossy overgrowth. A small, white flower grew atop of its small head attached to a larger, bulky upper torso. Its upper half and lower half divided by a spherical purple gem that faintly pulsed periodically.
“Is that the boss?” Mordred asked and pointed. As if on cue, the pile of stone came ‘online’. At the centre of its small head was a small circle. Once dull, it began to flicker the same purple light until it maintained luminosity. It produced a synthetic sound; a quiet mechanical humming, not unlike a computer fan. It moved its head to observe the two invaders.
“Yeah. Well, it won’t start attacking us until we get closer to it.” Cecilia let out a sigh, “unfortunately, we have to get close to it to find that Crystal Flower. It should be somewhere around this fort since the mana here is so damned thick.”
“Afraid so. Don’t worry greenhorn, I got your back so go rush at that thing! Oh, but be sure not to be actually hit because it’d probably kill you. It’s also impervious to physical damage and low-level magical attacks won’t even tickle it.”
“What? Then how do people defeat it normally?”
“They usually don’t, but on the occasions that they have to, they bring specialized siege tools. We don’t have anything like that so we’re going with the distraction plan.”
“Hah~ So, it really comes to this then…” Mordred let out an unenthusiastic sigh as he stepped forward. “I only have to run around and distract it for a bit, right?”
“Yeah, just go…”
As Mordred stepped forward, the Forest Golem responded by picking itself up. It stood at around four or so metres tall. A singular purple eye locked onto his comparatively miniscule proportions. Its chunky stone arms moved forward, ready to intercept. Whatever movements were made, it imitated.
Mordred moved one step closer and in turn the Forest Golem also crept closer. The ground quaked with its step. It stretched out its hand.
Mordred took another step.
The Forest Golem also took another step… or so that’s how it was supposed to be. At that moment, an unknown forced slid down from above. A humanoid shadow. Its darkened blade slid through the Forest Golem’s head and straight through its purple ‘core’ like butter. The Golem’s core flickered for a moment before losing its brightness. Like a computer shutting down, it made a powering down sound as its huge frame fell to the floor with a loud ‘thud’. Dust clouds flew and the grounds trembled as though whimpering before a giant.
When the dust settled Cecilia looked up at the culprit, “what the…?!”