Chapter 31:

Journey Inside the Ancient Ruin


“Where are you guys planning to head to?”- The convoy guide asks.

“Our destination is Absol. I think it’s still a ways from here.”- Leo answers, looking down at a map.

“Absol huh? If you go down the main road, it should take you guys about 5 days to get there. Just in time for the Moonlight Festival! I see your intentions now.”- The convoy guide nods.

“Moonlight Festival? That’s the first time I’ve heard of it. We were heading there for a different reason.”- Leo looks confused.

“Oh really? Then you all should take the opportunity to attend the festival when you get there. I promise you, it will be a wonderful experience.”- The convoy guide said, putting his thumb up.

“I will make sure to keep that in mind, thank you for guiding us here.”- Leo shakes the man’s hand.

“No problem! I have to head off now so enjoy your journey.”- The man says, waving goodbye.

Leo then regroups with his party, who were all waiting for him further down the road. He points to the left, gesturing to the group to follow him. As they make their way North, Leo asks:

“Our convoy guide mentioned something about a Moonlight Festival that happens in Absol. Do you guys know anything about that?”

Natalie and Amber look at each other, both shrugging because they haven’t heard of it. It would be a given that Claudius doesn’t know so he just shakes his head.

“The Moonlight Festival? It’s something that those who live in or near The Great Mystical Forest celebrate every 5 or so years. I don’t blame you all for not knowing.”- Sophia explains.

“What are they celebrating in the festival? The moon?”- Leo asks.

“The name is somewhat misleading, the festival is meant for the locals to offer tribute to the Ancient Serpent God. Appeasing him so that he provides blessings and ward off disasters. It’s done on the night of the festival, when the moon is centered.”- Sophia elaborates.

“That sounds cool, I’ll be interested in seeing that.”- Amber nods her head.

“Alright, then we should try to get there as soon as possible!”- Claudius suggests.

Leo stops walking suddenly, thinking about something. The other 4 also had to stop in their tracks, looking back at Leo. Natalie sighs, knowing that he is thinking about something weird.

“What’s wrong Leo?”- She asks.

“Sophia, you have a map on you right?”- Leo looks over at her.

“Um… Yeah, I do. A map that my uncle gave me to travel with when I first set off. How do you know about that?”- Sophia looks at Leo suspiciously.

“Don’t worry about it. Your map is made by the elves, who should be great at navigating the continent. Cutting it close to the festival won’t do, we need a better time saver. Maybe the elves’ map will provide an alternative shortcut we don’t know about!”- Leo suggests.

“Or...or...OR… hear me out. We can just NOT TAKE A DIFFERENT ROUTE AND MAKE IT THERE ON TIME.”- Amber said.

“I hear you ok? You have to consider this though. What if we stumble upon Elqium members that have no knowledge of the battle and they wanted to capture you?”- Leo cheekily suggests.

“Fine, I have nothing to say.”- Amber facepalms, she knows that Leo is just bluffing but opted to let it slide.

After searching through her bag, Sophia pulled out the map and handed it to Leo. He couldn’t read the writing on it so Sophia had to help him in searching for Absol. To Sophia’s surprise, Absol is really on the map. After some orientation, they guessed the location of where they currently are and headed up the hill towards Absol. Two days quickly passed, with the group passing through many different areas. One full of water that only goes up to their knees, stretching for as far as the eyes can see. Another was a thick jungle, so thick in fact that they had to climb all the way to the top of the trees and walk across the canopy. They continued on with the belief that Leo and Sophia’s map reading skills aren't terrible. Unfortunately, it is quite terrible. Something soon stopped the party on their tracks. It was an old ruin of some sort. Old ruins aren’t something impossible to come by. They’re still just rare enough that only a portion of adventurers would stumble upon a few throughout their career. It seemed like whoever made the map also didn’t know about the ruin, marking the area on the map with a question mark. The group spent some time thinking about whether or not they should enter the ruin. Haha, just kidding, there’s no way these idiots would think about it. They all entered the ruin without a moment of hesitation.

“You think we’ll find something good in here?”- Claudius asks.

“I’m here to kill goblins.”- Leo jokes, imitating a certain character he knows from a show.

“This reminds me of the one cave we entered, searching for the old man.”- Natalie reminisces.

The group make their way deeper into the moss filled tunnel. Everything here is made out of some kind of stone, making the surface brighter than usual. Runes can be seen engraved into walls. Most are worn down through time, making them unreadable. To their surprise, the group reaches the end of the ruins fairly quickly, yet to spot anything of interest.

“Maybe someone got here before us and looted the place already.”- Sophia said.

“Yeah, it doesn’t look like this place has anything left.”- Amber said while checking the walls.

Sophia’s guess was indeed correct, this ruin has been rummaged through before by a different group of adventurers. Leo was disappointed by the result and decided that they should head out. Natalie agrees with him, getting ready to turn around when suddenly Amber said:

“Guys… This part of the rune over here is still intact, I’m trying to decipher its meaning.”

The curious party members all head over to Amber’s location, near the edge of the wall. They stand behind Amber and look at the rune.

“...Antiquorum...Exponentia...Pugna…”- Amber reads the texts.

The rune glows a bright blue, its lights emit through the whole tunnel. Leo and everyone braces themselves for what’s to come.

“Do you know what that spell does?”- Leo asks, putting one of his hands up in front of himself to block the bright light.

“I don’t know. All I did was just read the words on the runes.”- Amber replies, her hand still touching the wall.

“Guys… What’s going on?”- Claudius asks.

Everyone looks over to him, seeing that mana is leaking out of his body. It’s being extracted by the rune to power itself. Before they have any time to react, the same thing occurs to everyone, all have mana leaking out of their body.

“WE NEED TO STOP THIS THING RIGHT NOW!!!”- Leo shouts, running towards the rune.

Sophia also rushes towards the rune as she feels a dark presence surging through her body again. Before the two can make it there a loud sound can be heard as the five were teleported away.

“Are you kidding me?!? Is this the Academy exam all over again???”- Leo complains, standing up from his spot.

It seems like he was teleported somewhere inside the ruin as it has a very similar aesthetic as the place they were in. Leo looks around, finding Sophia nearby grunting. She seems to be doing fine, standing up from her spot. Behind them is a wall, stretching all the way up to some sort of entrance hole. Rumbling sounds can be heard as Leo turns around and looks forward. A giant golem breaks open from the wall, awakened from some kind of magic.

“That’s not good. Sophia, it looks like we have to take this thing on.”- Leo said, concentrating.

“Sophia?”- He looks to his right, confused from the lack of response.

“Not… good right now… I lost too much mana, I think I’m losing control of the body again.”- Sophia struggled to say.

“Do you have a way…”- Leo said before being interrupted by the golem’s attack.

It charges at Leo quickly, slamming its fists towards him. He jumps out of the way in reaction, barely managing to dodge the attack. Leo casts Great Typhoon, pushing the golem into the wall in order to buy time for Sophia.

“Sorry Leo, do your best.”- Sophia said.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN SORRY?!? HEY, ARE YOU JOKING RIGHT NOW?!? PLEASE SAY IT’S A JOKE!!!”- Leo screams as he looks at Sophia.

The moment that Leo’s spell ends, the golem propels itself towards Leo using some kind of magic. “BOOM” The sound can be heard as a shockwave emits from Sophia, pushing Leo into the wall and the Golem back.

“Looks like I’m back. Muahahaha!”- Dark Elf Sophia laughs.

She is interrupted when a beam of energy flies towards her. A barrier appears in the air, blocking the attack. She looks around, seeming to be aware of the situation.

“This is really bad.”- Leo thought to himself, struggling to regain his footing.

Natalie and Claudius appeared into a different part of the ruin, both confused about what just happened.

“Where is everyone else?”- Claudius asks.

“I’m assuming that they were also teleported like us, probably into a different part of the ruin.”- Natalie said, searching around the area they are in.

“It’s kind of chilly in here.”- Her body shakes from the sudden cold.

“Really? My body is special, so I can’t feel the temperature. We should try to get out of here as soon as possible then.”- Claudius suggests.

“Yeah we should, this area… my breath, I can see it from the cold.”- Natalie interrupts herself, smoke coming from her mouth.

The two hurried through the area, with Natalie slowly feeling colder with every step. They spot a gate, locked by some kind of magic circle.

“We need to find the magic source now!”- Natalie said, her voice weakening.

“This isn’t good at all.”- Claudius frantically searches around for the source.

Both spot a mini golem up on the ceiling. Its shape is quite peculiar, designed to be agile and hard to catch.

“Are you kidding me?”- Natalie said.

Without discussing a plan, the two start flinging spells at it. Claudius uses his typical Abyssal Blast and Sophia tries to use Fireball. Since her elemental affinity doesn't have fire, her attack seems quite weak. That doesn't seem to matter as the golem dashes and dodges the attacks in an easy manner.

“I need to do something about this freezing temperature. Gentle Warmth!”- Natalie casts the spell.

A glowing orb appears in front of Natalie, but to her shock, the cold doesn't seem to be yielding.

“Are you good now?”- Claudius asks, still trying to hit the golem with his spells.

“No… This doesn’t make sense. This cold isn’t natural, it’s some kind of magic.”- Natalie shivers, struggling to cast more spells.

“Do you have any plans?”- Claudius asks.

“Natalie?”- He looks to his right, seeing that Natalie has collapsed.

“OH NO!!!”- He shouts as he runs over to Natalie.

She looks really pale, her breathing labored. Even though Claudius can’t feel temperature, he could tell that something is very wrong.

“DAMN IT!!!”- Claudius gets frustrated, casting more spells towards the golem.

To his despair, it maneuvered out of the way, dodging every single attack. The situation is very dire for both him and Natalie.

“I messed up big time. Someone tell me what’s going on right now!”- Amber said, searching her way around in a dark tunnel

Just like the others, Amber was also teleported by the spell to an unknown location, presumably deeper into the ruin.

“When was the last time I was alone like this? I have been hanging around with them for what seems like ages now. Never a dull moment.”- Thoughts travel through Amber’s head.

“What if we never meet again? I don’t want to be alone anymore.”- She felt scared of the prospect.

“What’s wrong with me? Everything will be fine, I’m sure. You’ll be able to see them again soon.”- She reassures herself.

A light soon comes into view, getting brighter as Amber gets closer. Eventually, she enters a different chamber made of stone. Skeletons can be seen nearby, along with runes all over the ground. This is some sort of ancient magic facility that dates back to a long time ago. Amber wanders around, looking for some kind of clue as to why they are here. Suddenly, a human size golem gets activated, leaping from its location and landing close to Amber. One of the nearby runes starts to glow, activating some spell.

“What the hell?!?”- Amber looks over in complete shock at the golem.

The golem has taken on Amber’s appearance using some kind of disguising spell, looking right back at her with a creepy grin.

“FIREBALL!”- Amber casts.

One of the nearby runes starts glowing again, with the golem also casting Fireball. The two fireballs collide mid air, both dissipating. Amber was taken off by what had just occurred, and proceeded to cast another Fireball. Just like last time, a nearby rune glows and the golem summons another fireball. Unexpectedly, Amber’s attack misses, the golem’s fireball is now heading directly at Amber.

“Are you kidding me?”- Amber said, dodging out of the way.

The attack misses, she immediately stands back up and runs towards one end of the room. The golem copies her movement, running parallel to her. Amber stops, the golem also stops.

“What am I? Doppel all of a sudden now?”- Amber thought to herself.

She guesses that destroying the golem is her way out of this cave, but with its ability to copy her magic, it doesn’t seem like Amber can get out. She sat down in frustration, with the golem mirroring her action.

“I have no time to waste! I have to figure out a way to beat this thing.”- Amber thought, looking at the golem that had taken on her appearance.

Spending time alone, stuck in a location is enough to frustrate Amber. What’s worse is that she’s stuck here with the person she hates the most, herself. Amber ponders her options, occasionally throwing spells towards the golem. Icicle, waterfall, flamethrower, all countered by the golem’s attack. Amber finally accepts that she can’t defeat the golem, laying down, hoping that her teammates will come and rescue her once they escape. Laying still for a few minutes, images and thoughts flow through Amber’s head.

“The other guys will be fine, they are strong and can make it out.”

“It’s only me that has such a hard challenge, I’m sure Leo will figure something out.”

“What if… What if their challenges are greater than mine? What if they need my assistance?”


“I need to overcome this and go help my party members. They also rely on me too!”- She said out loud.

Amber turns her head over, looking at the golem that is doing the exact same thing. She finally smiles, almost in a mocking manner towards it.

“You might try to copy my looks and spells, but there is one thing you don’t understand. You will never be able to be me.”- Amber confidently declares.

With her newly gained determination, she runs right at the golem. The moment they both are right up at each other, Amber raises her right arm and punches the golem.

“EAT THIS!!!”- She shouts.

The golem mirrors her action, also punching her. Amber’s punch did nothing as the golem’s punch sent her flying. Amber wiggles around in pain on the ground, hugging her face.

“Ok...ok... I have to admit... you are a lot stronger than me physically.”- Amber said, trying to hold back her tears.

She still isn’t done yet, running around in circles and chasing the golem. The golem would match her speed, making it impossible for her to catch up. Amber suddenly realizes something and laughs, stopping in her spot again.

“Here goes nothing.”- Amber said, taking a deep breath.

She proceeds to cast her bread and butter spell, Fireball, a crazy amount of time. Runes from all over the room glow in response, the golem also casts the same amount of Fireballs.

“Why did it take me so long to realize this? Here goes nothing.”- Amber said out loud.

All of her fireballs fly towards the golem from many different angles. The same would apply for the golem as its fireballs are also heading from the opposite angles towards Amber. Surprisingly, Amber is standing completely still, not trying to dodge the attacks at all. With her terrible accuracy, many of her fireballs start to swerve, flying in different directions. The golem’s fireballs, on the other hand, are still very accurate on its trajectory, flying directly at Amber.

“YOU LOSE!!!”- Amber shouts, jumping to her left to dodge the fireball.

The golem mirrors the same thing, jumping to its left. What it didn’t know is that Amber had calculated this move, using her terrible accuracy to her advantage. The golem is jumping right into one of her fireballs that misses, something that the original inventor probably didn’t account for. “BOOM” an explosion sound can be heard as the golem breaks into pieces.

“WOOHOO!!! SUCK IT YOU PEASANT!!!”- Amber celebrates as she finally manages to defeat the golem.

A door opens up at the end of the chamber, revealing something hidden away.


“Stop complaining, you insect. I couldn’t care less about that golem.”- Dark Elf Sophia chases, shooting beams at Leo.

The giant golem is not far behind them, propelling itself using some kind of magic. It’s shooting magical missiles towards Leo and Dark Elf Sophia, mostly aiming for Leo. Frustrated, Leo quickly turns around and casts Hail Storm. Large ice shards start to rain down from the sky. Dark Elf Sophia had no problem blocking in using her barriers. The golem, on the other hand, gets hit and seems to be somewhat flinched by the attack.

“You fool, there’s no way that will work against me.”- Dark Elf Sophia said.

“You idiot! Not every attack is meant for you.”- Leo said, continue running.

Unfortunately for him, the area they are in is a closed space, so even if it’s big, Leo can’t get out. He has no choice but to look for an alternative way out. The giant golem resumes its attacks, stronger than before as there are even more magic missiles coming out of it. Dark Elf Sophia finally got annoyed from its constant attack, as she sent out some kind of dark energy ball. It travels very slowly in the air, but the moment it comes into contact with the golem, a massive explosion follows suit.

“So that’s the explosion attack she talked about back then.”- Leo looks over at the smoke filled area.

From inside the smoke, he can see glimpses of something flying towards his way. With no time to waste, he casts Barrier. A barrier appears right in front of him, blocking the dark energy beam coming from inside the smoke.

“Tch, why don’t you just die already?”- Dark Elf Sophia said.

She was the source of the attack, now walking towards Leo in a menacing manner.

“I didn’t want to have to do this, but you leave me no choice.”- Leo said, standing up.

“BLINDING LIGHT!”- Leo casts, raising his staff up.

Light emits from the staff, its brightness temporarily blinds Dark Elf Sophia. Leo follows up the attack with Holy Smite, sending a beam of light from the ceiling down to where she is standing. Dark Elf Sophia screams in pain as Leo keeps the attack going. As Holy Smite comes to the end of its duration, Dark Elf Sophia is partially stunned from the attack. Leo takes that chance to find the exit, looking at the hole he spotted from earlier when they first entered. He starts running towards it as the smoke slowly dissipates. The giant golem can be seen standing back up, its other shell cracked but still seems functional. It seems to be targeting the stunned Dark Elf Sophia, flying towards her.

“Why does it have to be me?”- Leo complains, turning around and sprints towards her.

Leo doesn’t have any time to waste so he casts Great Typhoon, propelling himself forward at crazy speed towards Dark Elf Sophia.

“COME ON!!! LET ME MAKE IT!!!”- Leo shouts.

He barely made it in time, pushing Dark Elf Sophia out of the giant golem’s charge attack, saving her. Leo still needs to break the momentum before they both crash into the wall so he casts another Great Typhoon, pushing them the opposite direction. Leo prepares himself and casts Barrier. The barrier breaks their momentum back, with Leo using his body as a cushion.

“ARGHHH MY BACK AGAIN”- Leo screams in pain as his back slams into the barrier and both fall down to the ground.

“Not...bad...her...boobs...still...feel...nice…”- Leo puts a thumbs up.

As he uses his body to block Dark Elf Sophia from the barrier, he gets to feel the whole soft bahonker in his face. Leo passes out with a smile on his face.

“What just happened? I got stunned and...”- Dark Elf Sophia stands back up, confused from the situation.

She looks around to see the giant golem heading their way. Dark Elf Sophia looks down and sees a passed out Leo, she is trying to recall fragments of her memories to figure out what’s going on?

“He… saved me. His enemy?!? Why?!?”- Dark Elf Sophia recalls the situation.

“That doesn't matter, I can just leave him here and get out.”- She said, searching for an exit.

Dark Elf Sophia looked back at Leo, his action just seems to linger in her head. She is feeling a strange emotion similar to back then that she can’t seem to figure out. With the giant golem now charging at them again, Dark Elf Sophia sighs.

“What’s wrong with me right now? This isn’t how I should feel.”- She closes her eyes.

“WHATEVER, THIS GOLEM IS BEING ANNOYING!!”- She suddenly shouts, turning her attention towards it.

Leo fades in and out of consciousness, seeing glimpses of the battle between Dark Elf Sophia and the giant golem. Blue lights appear near her, shooting at the golem. Next thing Leo knows when he opens his eyes again is a giant tree shows up, piercing through the golem. He closes his eyes again.

“This idiot is… heavy…”- Leo hears fragments from a voice next to him.

He is being carried by Dark Elf Sophia, with one of his arms over her shoulder, she is pulling him along. Leo can’t hold on any longer, completely losing his consciousness and passes out for real this time. An exit opens up after the giant golem has been defeated. Dark Elf Sophia carries Leo through it, entering into a different room. She is also losing control too, feeling weaker and weaker as the original Sophia seems to be gaining ground.

“I had the wrong impression of you. Thank you for saving him.”- Sophia’s voice echoes through Dark Elf Sophia’s head.

Sophia finally regains control of the body and finishes pulling Leo into the room and laying him down.

“As much as I always complain about you, you seem to always make the right decision.”- Sophia smiles, looking at Leo.

Back at a different part of the ruin, Claudius is in a hurry to destroy the small golem. All of his spells seem ineffective as the golem is too dexterous, dodging all of the attacks.

“What should I do? I’m not smart enough to deal with this. If it had been Natalie instead of me, she would be able to come up with a plan.”- Claudius said, frustrated from his shortcomings.

“Haha, I was just messing with you. It’s a prank, let’s take this thing down quickly so we can move on.”- Natalie suddenly sits up.

“...You know… I can still see the smoke coming out of your mouth right? You’re obviously not ok right now.”- Claudius looks at Natalie.

“Yeah, sorry.”- Natalie lays back down.

“Is someone going to suffer because of my inability again?”- Claudius thought to himself, remembering the past.

“No...NO Claudius. You are beyond that, you have moved on from it.”- He punches himself unexpectedly.

“Unless?!?”- Claudius remembers something.

He very much remembers the sensation when he jumped off the bridge, the suffocating feeling of the water, drowned out by the emotions he had.

“Natalie, I know it’s difficult. I need you to fill this room with water.”- Claudius requests.

Natalie doesn't have much strength left, just nodding her head in agreement. Claudius uses two of his arms to pick her up, holding her up against his back.

“Waterfall.”- Natalie whispers, casting the spell.

Water appears out of thin air, pouring onto the ground. Claudius carefully mimics what Natalie does, attempting to replicate the spell. To his surprise, what he casted was indeed a waterfall, but it wasn’t made out of water. The waterfall is made out of dark abyss material that doesn’t mix with normal water. The water seems to soak through the ground, but the dark matter isn’t. Soon, the room filled up with the dark matter. The small golem can’t escape no matter what it does, it’s now sinking into the dark matter. Claudius had no trouble grabbing onto it and quickly dispelling his magic. The room is now empty again, with Claudius actually catching the tiny golem. He smacks it onto the ground without hesitation, using his two arms to slam into it and breaking it into pieces. The flow of mana suddenly ends, the magic circle in front of the door disappears. Natalie regains her warmth, breathing normally again.

“Thank you so much Claudius! I know you could do it.”- Natalie compliments him.

Claudius only smiles, breathing a sigh of relief.

“Don’t make me do that ever again, I’m not good under pressure.”- Claudius complains.

“We need to get out of here before something else happens.”- Natalie suggests.

The two turn around, looking into the newly opened door. After some caution, Claudius enters first, checking inside the room. Natalie follows suit after he confirms that there’s no threat inside.

“It’s another magic circle.”- Claudius said.

The mysterious small room has nothing but a magic circle right at its center. As the two hesitate to step further in, one of the nearby runes glows and a message can be heard.

“Welcome, unknown traveler. You might hear this message 1 year? 10 years? 50 years? Maybe even a few hundred years after this is made. This building here is my attempt at finding suitable individuals. I’m sure you would have succeeded given that you are listening to this message. Congratulations, and don’t worry, there will be rewards.”

Right as the message comes to an end, the magic circle activates, pulling Claudius and Natalie into it. The same occurred in the other rooms, with Sophia hearing the message and was pulled in along with a passed out Leo. Of course, Amber also got the same treatment as everyone was pulled into the circle.

“Huh? Where am I?”- Leo asks, waking up.

“About time you wake up.”- Sophia said, surprising Leo.

He looks around to see that everyone else is in the same room. Leo screams in joy, finally reunited with everyone.

“Come on, let’s do a group hug. I thought I was going to die! I’m so glad to see you all again.”- Leo said, tearing up.

“I don’t want hugs from you.”- Amber said, smiling and showing a little bit of her tsundere side.

Natalie sighs as they all come in for a group hug. They caught each other up on what happened, explaining the things they saw. One thing that everyone can agree on, they all heard a strange voice before they were teleported. Everyone was granted the “rewards”, well except for our unlucky friends Leo and Claudius. Natalie has gained the knowledge of some kind of ancient wind magic right as she was teleported here. Amber has also gained some form of ancient fire magic too. Finally, Sophia has gained an ancient earth magic. There seems to be an exit from the room in the form of a staircase. Before leaving, they scavenged the place, coming to a conclusion that this was a base of operation of some mage hundreds of years ago, hence the unknown magic. Leo has also found magic scrolls, items that are incredibly rare in the world of Ataxia. To summarize, magic scrolls contain certain magic spells inside of it for a one time quick use. Empty scrolls can be used to inscribe spells, sealing it into the scroll for usage. They were lucky as Leo found 4 inscribed scrolls and 4 empty scrolls. With one last look, the group take their leave, walking up the stairway. Minutes later, they have successfully escaped the ruin, returning to the outside world. The ground below them begins rumbling right as they leave, as some kind of earthquake can be felt. The ruin has self-destructed with magic, leaving nothing behind.

“That was crazy!”- Leo said.

“Everything we do is crazy, just don’t split up next time guys.”- Amber sighs.

“Well, at least everyone made it out.”- Sophia smiles.

Everyone looks at her in surprise, no one expects her to say that kind of thing because she usually doesn't care about Leo or Claudius. Nevertheless, they have to take their leave soon in order to make it on time to their next destination. Their journey continues as they make their way to Absol.