Chapter 9: The Infection
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Carringer walks to the wall and puts the elf down. “Mr. Hunter, you have to promise me one thing,” said Rime, touching the stone wall.
Carringer said, “Don’t call me that. Wouldn’t it be better to call me by my name?”
“I’m sorry… What’s your name?” Carringer repeats his name in tears and laughter. “Mr. Carringer, you have to promise me one thing. No matter what you see in the moon tower, please keep it a secret.”
“Of course. The bounty hunters are very strict,” Carringer said.
Rime nodded and said the same spell as before, and the gate of the Moon Tower appeared on the cliff.
This time, the atmosphere inside the tower seems to have changed a little. The air was darker and wetter than before, and the temperature dropped by a lot. In short, it was even more unsuitable for living creatures.
Rime took Carringer directly to the pontoon. “Do we have to go through the magic barrier to reach the bottom of the moon tower?” Carringer asks.
“There’s a magic barrier,” Rime said. “In fact, it’s very simple. If you don’t go down alone, you can go with me. Jingh’s spell barrier is only open to himself. If someone else wants to come in, it must be the guest that he is personally leading.”
Carringer had already seen the appearance of each floor several times before, but this time, as the float slowly descended, things around him became more blurred, and the boundaries between the floors were gradually swallowed up by darkness.
“I saw your lab before,” Carringer said. “You seem to have caught a lot of infected creatures. Are you testing them for the little pill?”
“Yes. It’s a pity that I’m slow. I’m too clumsy to be as skillful as teacher Jingh.”
After it’s completely dark, Rime and Carringer walk up a set of stone steps. The stone steps are disconnected from the other steps above and can only be reached by the floating saucers. They only went down two or three steps, and the environment changed again. It was no longer a stone step under their feet, but a ramp of hard soil.
They descended down the ramp, and after a while came to the huge crystal wall in the dark.
Carringer thinks he is well-informed, but he is deeply shocked by what he sees.
Rime sat down on his knees, dirt at the hem of his robe, and his long pale-gold hair fell to the ground. He places his forehead and palm against the crystal wall, and his lips murmurs a faint, inaudible sound.
At first, Carringer wanted to reach out and help, but he thought that maybe Rime was casting a spell, so he stood aside and didn’t touch him.
Inside the crystal, a light shadow gradually appeared in the deep darkness. The shadow and Rime are far away from each other, and waves of vibration come from within the crystal. The shadow almost spreads in front of him, about a person-wide distance away. As Rime’s palm moves, the shadow follows the path of the hand.
Sometimes the shadow retreats into the deep, sometimes to the surface, it hits the crystal surface again and again, just like a big fish unable to break free from the shackles of the water.
“What is this?” Carringer felt for the handle of his sword instinctively. However,intuitively, he also understood that this thing would not be afraid of ordinary swords.
“It’s the source of this infection,” Rime replied
“It’s like a living thing, not a demon skeleton or something…” Carringer walks in and looks at the shadows in the crystal. “It’s kind of like a ghostly creature, or some alien creature I’ve never seen. You say it’s the source of infection, but that doesn’t make sense.Living demons won’t cause infections, just like living people can’t spread Ghoul disease.”
Rime nodded, “You know a lot. Bounty hunters are not stupid.”
Carringer said with a smile, “It’s hard to hear your praises.”
“You’re right,” Rime continued. “Under normal circumstances, a living demon will not cause infection. But in the laboratories of the scholars of the dead, these common principles are often overturned. Although they will not let the living demon spread infection, they will transform the abyssal elements that can spread infection and make it possess the souls and minds of living creatures. “
“As you can see, Mr. Carringer, what is isolated in the crystal is a huge cluster of abyssal elements. This kind of thing is like fire or water, which is supposed to be just an unconscious element. However, this cluster of elements is self-conscious and aggressive. In a sense, it is equivalent to a living demon and can infect the surrounding soil, water and living things.”
“Let me guess. Is…Is it the result of your teacher’s research?”
“Yes, it’s the result of my teacher’s research,” Rime said softly, ” Teacher Jingh himself.”
Carringer looks at the crystallization. When the shadow is very close to the crystal surface, he could see the outline – it is a huge humanoid object.
It is several times larger than the common humanoid, but not as solid as a troll. It is long and winding, twisted in proportion, like a human shadow cast on a stone. Rime looks at the crystal and begins talking about Charlie Jingh.
Jingh came to this mountain hundreds of years ago. His purpose was to enter the mountain and find the battlefield sites and relic buildings recorded in the ancient books.
Local people say that a demon was hidden under the mountain. In fact, this statement is both right and wrong. ‘The dragon ate the demon and turned into a mountain’ is obviously ridiculous, but this area was indeed a battlefield in ancient times. There were remains buried deep underground, including a large number of creatures. In the earlier years, in order to commemorate and defend themselves, the people built a spiral underground temple that went deep into the mountain
Jingh transformed the ancient relics in the mountain into a research laboratory, and lived here all year round. He also romantically named the site ‘Falling Moon Tower.’
As for why he was so far away from his hometown, Rime never got a clear answer. He could only guess, sinceTeacher Jingh is an elf from Southwest Forest, they seldom get involved in exorcism and necromancy, as this kind of school is regarded as blasphemy and kept at a distance.
There is nothing more to say about the life of Mage Jingh. To the layman, it is nothing more than a pile of dry running accounts. In short, the ‘tower’ and the various mechanisms in the tower are the works of Jingh, including the huge crystal barrier in front of us, which was also developed by Jingh for the safe study of abyssal elements.
After many years, Charlie Jingh and the human villagers at the foot of the mountain had a non-existent friendship. But according to Rime, Jingh seldom laughed, but whenever he received a letter from the villagers, he would laugh several times.
Nevertheless, the elf was never close to the villagers. Jingh did not want to have deep friendship with human beings, and villagers were also a little afraid of the elf mage and the demon remains.
Rime doesn’t remember how many years he has been with Jingh; it has probably been around the lifespan of an average human being. In the past, he never contacted the outside world, let alone corresponded with the villagers. It was only in recent years that he’s had to contact the villagers…
Because teacher Jingh is no longer here.
In a failed magic experiment, Jingh himself extracted the abyssal element, but failed to control it, so he suffered from infection.
If there is no interference, Jingh’s body would have gradually changed, and his soul would gradually dissipate. After the original personality dies, he would become a real abyssal creature. This process can not be reversed, only delayed. However, Jingh was not depressed or afraid. On the contrary, he was a little excited.
He didn’t give up and not only restarted the experiment, but also regarded himself as the last experimental subject.
“So, this is what he achieved?” Hearing this, Carringer again carefully observes the shadow in the crystal, “this cluster of elements with autonomous consciousness? Is that what he wants to do? What’s the use of it?”
“I can’t answer that question,” said Rime with a sheepish smile. “I don’t have as much knowledge as my teacher. All I know is that a lot of arcane research doesn’t seem to work at the beginning, but in fact, if they continue to develop, they may change a lot of things. It’s like your sword, with a higher arcane enchantment on it, It would be called the Dragon Bite weapon. A long time ago, when mages were just studying enchantments, they could only make characters appear on the molten iron, but spells wouldn’t work. People didn’t understand what it meant.”
Carringer nodded, “That’s right. But your teacher has become like this. Can he continue his research? It is said that it has self-consciousness, but it is also just chaos in way. Its wisdom is not as good as that of demons in the abyss?”
“Yes. It’s less smart than a dog,” said Rime.
Carringer is silent for a few seconds, “Well… Is that how you evaluate your teacher?”
“It’s true. Although it is said to be Jingh, in reality… Jingh is long gone.”
“Did you really compare it to a dog?”
“I’ve done some basic interactions with it, comparing some of the indicators with various animals and humans.” Rime answered with great care that he didn’t seem to notice the subtle banter in Carringer’s speech.
When he wrote a letter, he couldn’t say it in a sincere and gentle way. Carringer tried to tease him to ease the tension, but instead he felt guilty. In addition, Carringer was more curious about something else: inside the crystal is the ‘thing’ transformed from Jingh, and outside the crystal are the remains left by him…
So who is ‘Rime?’ Or.. what is he?
Rime looked exactly like Charlie Jingh, Carringer imagined two identical elves, but in fact they were not. Now Rime is in the body of Jingh, what form was he originally?
Rime has said so many secrets about the Moon Tower, but nothing about his identity. It’s certainly not because he forgot, obviously, he was deliberately avoiding or delaying the subject. The shock waves from the depths of the crystals became stronger and stronger, causing the ground to shake.
Once again, Rime lay his whole body on the crystal wall, muttering in a low voice, as if to pacify the cluster of elements inside.
After the shadow has retreated slightly and does not impact the crystal surface any more, Rime holds onto the crystal and gets up slowly, staggers back onto the ramp and sits at the right height. Carringer follows, holding the scabbard and standing in front of him.
“Jingh had expected this,” said Rime. “This cluster of elements was born directly in the laboratory. It is a very powerful trial subject and more dangerous than any exotic object. If not properly controlled, not only the animals in the mountains will be infected, but the infection may invade the whole of Black Tree Village and even more cities in the distance. Therefore, the teacher also designed a set of coping methods in advance, so that I could implement them slowly in the later days. As long as I follow teacher’s instructions step by step, the infection will end.”
“How will it end?” Carringer asked.
“Kill the infected body as you know it.”
“Kill the elements?”
“I understand your question,” said Rime. “The element is not a demon, so it can’t be ‘killed.’ It can only be driven away or homogenized by itself. But this element cluster is different. After the soul of Teacher Jingh integrated into it, it is now a living creature.”
“How? Do you need to break up the crystal and let it out?”
“It can’t be released easily. When my teacher refined the elements, he used demon remains from the entire ancient battlefield under the ruins, so now what we see is very powerful. Mr. Carringer, do you know the power system of abyssal creatures?”
Carringer is more direct, “I’ve killed demons. More than once. “
“The metaphor is a little more intuitive. The power of this element cluster is almost equivalent to that of a demon lord. If you know the creatures of the abyss, you must understand that this is not something that a few hunters or casters can handle.”
Carringer nodded slowly. Through the crystallization, he could not feel the power of that thing intuitively. He knows it is something like a demon. If what Rime said is true, to kill this demon lord-like abyssal creature, at least several Knights will be needed, and then a group of high-level arcane casters must be found… And even if you win, you’ll die.
“But we don’t have to worry too much,” said Rime with a smile. “It was made by my teacher, who certainly knew how to destroy it. Over the years, I have been carrying out teacher’s instructions and preparing little by little. I can weaken this cluster of elements, wait until the time is right, and finally make it ineffective. Now that the spell is almost ready, this disaster can be over.”
“What magic is it?” Carringer asked.
“I don’t know. I’m not really knowledgeable. I’m just able to carry out the teacher’s instructions.”
He didn’t like to look at people, and now he looked up into Carringer’s eyes and immediately avoided them.
“Don’t you believe it? If you know other mages, you can talk to them, and they will understand. It’s true that not every apprentice can understand the tutor’s research, but even if they don’t, they can carry out instructions.”
Carringer said, “Are these things written in the notes left by Jingh?”
“Yes,” said Rime. “It’s all in his notes. It’s all he intended to leave to the world. That’s why he didn’t mind destroying the first successful experiment. In the future, there will always be people who will continue to study these in a safer environment. His notes are all in his study. If you want to read them, you can.”
Carringer thought, your mage research results are recorded in arcane script, I can’t understand them anyways.
Rime said that he didn’t understand the magic left by Jingh. He didn’t know whether he had told the truth or was lied to. Anyway, other people couldn’t understand the notes.
“After sunset today, I’m going to start the final spell. I’m going to take care of the closing up before that. You always say you want to help, but I really have to ask you to do something, okay?”
Carringer said, “Of course. Tell me about it. “
“The first thing is about the other infectors in the mountains,” Rime said. “In order to concentrate on casting, I’m going to gradually remove all protection spells on the mountain, cut off all magic links from the statues, and keep only the minimum amount of lighting in the forest. But in this way, the remaining infected bodies in the mountain may go into the village. I’ve sent the statues to clean it up a few times before, but I’m afraid there are still infectious bodies that haven’t been found. I hope you can help me clean up the whole mountain and get rid of all the living infected bodies.”
Carringer said, “It’s my job. Even if you don’t ask me to do it, I’ll have to do it sooner or later. But you said to clean the whole mountain? The whole mountain? Do you know how big the mountain is? “
Rime nodded clearly, took a small flannel bag from the inside of the burqa and handed it to Carringer.
There was a handful of white pills in the flannel bag, just like the ones Rime had given him before. This time, the properties of the medicine granules are slightly different, not as uniform as last time. Some of them are large and small, some are delicate, some are rough and irregular. It seems that they were made in a hurry.
“You take this to the forest, drop blood on it, dissolve it gently, smear it on your body or on your weapon, just like when you cheated my shield. For the infected body, this thing sends out an attractive smell. If you walk around in the mountains and forests, the infected within the range will come to you.”
He thought about it for a while, and added, “Although it says to use blood to open the medicine granules, it is not necessary to use your own blood. You can use any animal you like. Or when you go to the lab later, there are white labels on the shelves, and the bottles are filled with usable blood. And, before you go out, get a light stick. The lights will dim, and you have to use it to light up the road.”
“That’s very considerate of you.” Carringer nodded and took the flannel bag.
Rime pondered for a while and raised his head. Now, somehow, he suddenly had the courage to look at people. He said to Carringer, “Also, I want to ask you to do something else.”
“Don’t worry. Go ahead.”
“I’d like to entrust you to the Austrian FA Federation. I don’t know where it is because I haven’t been. Anyway, if you find them, tell them about the moon tower, and bring their people here. After cleaning up, you should not come back to the moon tower, you should go down the mountain immediately and set off, because I would like you to do it soon.”
This is a bit of an unexpected commission. Carringer asked, “Why go to the Austrian FA Federation?”
“It’s for the teacher’s notes, of course,” Rime said. “Everything about Jingh is in the Moon Tower. There are not only experimental details in these books, but also many other valuable achievements left by him. The teacher once told me to protect his books and notes. There are so many mages in the world, some people should come here and bring these research results to those who can understand them. I can’t take so many books by myself, and I’m just an apprentice. I need experienced casters to help me distinguish them.”
Carringer did not immediately answer. He frowned at Rime, who was uncomfortable and looked down.
Seeing that Carringer still didn’t speak, Rime whispered, “You… Can you do me a favor?”
“Yes, but…” Carringer touched his chin. “My job is to kill monsters. The Lord will pay me, but it’s not my job to help people. I’m a bounty hunter. You have to give me a reward.”
“How much do you want? As long as I can afford it.”
“It’s cheap,” Carringer said. “I want to know what you are. I want you not to shy away, not to cover up, to be frank and let me know who Rime is and what you are.”
After listening to Carringer’s words, not only did Rime not feel nervous, but he showed a look of reliefed. “I can’t tell you now,” he said with a smile, “when you come back with the mages, I’ll let you know. Is that okay?”
Carringer asked, “Can I know then?”
“You will know.”
“Okay,” Carringer approached him, “I’ll trust you, and I’ll get your answer later.”
“Then let’s go. I’ll take you outside the tower…” Before Rime could finish speaking, Carringer suddenly reached over. Rime was startled and then he was picked up by the hunter.
Indeed, Rime was staggering, so he accepted the offer in silence. They went to the lab to get the blood bottle and the light wand, and then Carringer set out to clean up the forest.
The gate of the falling moon tower opened again, and the sunlight fell on their feet. Carringer put Rime down, and he leaned against the door.
“This time, I’ll leave the tower door open for a while, so that you can come back and rest at any time during the hunt. At sunset, I will activate the spell and close the tower gate completely. By then, if you are in the tower, you should leave in time; if you are outside the tower, don’t come back. Irrelevant personnel in the tower will interfere with the casting process and cause the spell to fail. It’s not a joke. You have to take it seriously.”
Carringer said, “I understand, and then I’ll do your second commission.”
“Good.” Rime smiles and nods.