2 「Swords of Darkness」
Without warning he appeared, standing in the middle of the Courtyard. His sapphire hues locked onto the four adventurers who were smiling awkwardly at him. Why were they smiling?
The blond one who stepped forward known as Peter was scratching the back of his head, admiring the view of the place. The architecture was foreign to him, which made the group more excited than anything.
However Cipher was quick to notice Ninya, the female companion wasn't holding a more assertive stance. Even the ranger seemed dominant as he appeared relaxed, his hands resting behind his head. Dyne who was eying the herbs growing in the courtyard had this shine in his eyes.
Ninya appeared to have a hint of damage, fear and lack of self-confidence.
His eyes locked back onto Peter however as he spoke up. "My name is Peter, we are the Swords of Darkness... What is this place and how did it get here?"
Cipher was quick to take note of his nervous but friendly demeanor, but was it a ruse? He wasn't quite sure. What he could tell though was that he was trying to hide all that nervousness and anxiousness so appear more serious.
"Swords of Darkness..." Cipher raised his head slightly at the name, as if it was a surprise to him. "Interesting name." He didn't comment on the boy's first name, or any such thing. Not even asking the names of his companions. He already knew them, probably knew more than they did about themselves or than they wanted anyone else to know.
Peter sneezed slightly before wiping his nose, cautiously looking over the courtyard. He felt as if there were a thousand eyes on them, but he saw no one.
"My name is Cipher, Master of the Blue Citadel... There used to be a city surrounding this place, care to tell me where it went?"
"C-city?" Peter was confused and glanced behind them towards the open gate towards the outside world. There was no evidence of there ever being a city here. He returned his attention to Cipher with the same confused face, a brow raised and an eyelid partially closed.
Peter couldn't tell whether or not this person was mad or not.
"So it seems my 'experiment' teleported us to this place..." The way Cipher used his tone of voice, it was a clear indicator he had no idea where he was.
Ninya and Dyne however both locked their eyes on him, almost in a blatant stare, when they heard of a teleportation experiment.
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"W-wait... You teleported this entire castle from one pl-place to another?" Ninya spoke up, staring at him as if he was some sort of monster. "Wha-what are you!?"
Cipher stared at her for a few seconds, processing her reaction and the interests of the others in his answer. "I'm an Arch Mage..." He knew how people reacted to most of the undead in the other world, the game world. Heteromorphic creatures were often treated as evil due to their undead or relations to negative energies which often harmed the living. Though proclaiming to be an Arch Mage wasn't all the wrong either. With his neutral Karma and Chaotic nature, he had a similar perk to Dark Wisdom, the perk was called True Wisdom.
He walked a fine line between Good and Evil, never cherishing one more than the other and always centering his own ambitions on remaining free from the grasps of others.
"An Arch Mage?" Dyne questioned, he knew the meaning of Arch and Mage, but he never really met someone who proclaimed themselves as the pinocle of the Mage in such a manner.
With silent magic, Cipher casts the 「Fake Data: Status」spell, in order to remain undetected. If they were to try and use magic in order to determine what he was, they'd be quick to find he was just "human," but if they wanted to learn his strengths and if they were capable of doing so, it'd be very hard to process due to the height of it all.
"So where am I?" Cipher nudged the conversation into the direction he wanted.
"You are in the Re-Estize Kingdom, the closest city is E-Rantel. We're adventurers stationed there. We were sent to investigate the appearance of your Fortress, and now you." Peter looked over the walls again, the coral roofing and the grass which surrounded them. The refined granite path leading to the front doors made him raise a brow. The stairs had been solid, so why use a path such as this to a grand entrance of a fortress?
"Is that so...?"
"We'll be on our way to report bac--"
"You may leave, Peter. However, I'd like to ask that your companions remain here until you return."
Peter paused as this man said this. The tone Cipher used, it wasn't as friendly as it was before. The moment he showed his intentions of leaving, Cipher verbally took his people hostage.
"What's the point of this?"
"Peter, it's alright. We'll be fine, isn't that right Master Cipher," Dyne stopped Peter from speaking out against Cipher. It was clear that this proclaimed Arch Mage wasn't going to let them all leave and he had his reasons.
What would happen if Peter returned with an Army to take the castle? Or a raiding party? Taking the three hostage was a logical decision, at least in some capacity.
"Yeah, Peter, we'll be fine! Just go have a great time on your way back," Lukrut nudged his leader and friend with an elbow. "If he tries anything, we'll take'm down. Just believe in us would you?" His tone was playful and gitty.
Ninya remained quiet however, her humble self being apparent. She wasn't going to assert herself in this, but she only smiled at her friend and nodded, agreeing with her friends.
Cipher's eyes pierced through Ninya, he wanted to learn more about this Magic Aptitude which was in her talents information. There was talents like it back in the old world, that allowed one to learn magic spells faster than the normal paces. Just how many spells did she know?
His eyes then traveled over to Dyne who seemed to be the voice of the group. He wasn't the leader, and he wasn't the strategist, but appeared to be a people person. He might be a key member to have around during diplomacy maybe, or just as a personal advisor for lively matters.
Then he rested his sights on the man known as Lukrut and just made this distinguishably unimpressed face, his lips moving to one side.
"Hey! What's with that face?" Lukrut looked like he was about to cry as if he was being looked down on, which he was very much so.
Ninya silently laughed, a hand hovering over her lips while the other remained grasping at her staff which was firmly planted on the ground.
With Peter now gone and heading down the stairs, his eyes traveled over the three that were there. "Ninya, Dyne and Lukrut."
The moment their names left his lips, they were all wide eyed. He knew their names already? Did he probe their minds or something?
"Your identities were revealed to me by a spell I cast the moment you entered the courtyard. So don't panic." His eyes were resting on Ninya when he was telling them not to panic. According to her status, she was hiding her physical gender.
"So... tell me about your group name? The Swords of Darkness has a nice ring to it."
Slowly nodding, Ninya smiled a bit awkwardly.
"Ninya here came up with the name!" Without warning an elbow was rested on Ninya's head, it was Lukrut, being blatant as usual.
"H-hey! It was an embarrassing milestone in my life!" She attempted to defend herself against the blabbering male who was using this opportunity to start poking fun at her.
"How Rude," Cipher narrowed his eyes on the blonde male, he was trying not to laugh, biting his lip in turn to stop himself.
"...I know right..." Ninya muttered quietly as she squatted down, bringing her arms around her knees, pressing her staff against her wrists. She was smiling faintly, but her flushed face definitely showed how embarrassed she was.
"I think its a great name," both Dyne and Cipher said out loud, almost in complete sync.
Dyne and Cipher both looked at one another, then back towards Ninya.
The Druid was beginning to believe he was having his mind read, but he didn't sense any magic pertaining to that effect. Maybe they were just on the same wavelength?
"Well, The Swords of Darkness are our main goal," she said as she looked up at Cipher, before averting her gaze from him the moment their eyes locked. "One of the thirteen heroes was known as The Black Knight, he wielded four swords. They were dubbed the Swords of Darkness."
Cipher listened to her as she stepped over her own words a few times, but he got the jist of what she was talking about. If anything, he knew of this being known as the Black Knight and about his weapons. He had a chance encounter with only one of the thirteen heroes, which he found was rather interesting. This meant there had once been more players here. It wasn't just Ainz and him, unless they were all dead...
Seeing the familiarity and hope with the name of the Black Knight, Dyne seemed to delve into his own thoughts. He wasn't understanding what he was reading off of this man.
"Would you like to come inside?" Cipher asked abruptly, mostly because he wanted to get something to drink. Even though he was undead, he was parched.
Blinking at this question, the three looked at one another. They were debating whether or not it would be safer to stay out here, or to go inside. Empathically they were quick to come to the conclusion it would be safer to follow his whim.
They didn't know the man. He might strike them down for not following through with his desires, or he just might lead them inside to be slaughtered. Or perhaps he would offer them something to drink?
They all nodded to him awkwardly, which caused Cipher to raise a brow only to slowly turn away from them and walk towards the front doors of the foyer.
"My Lord!" The sudden shout from Sir Gallifrey caused the trio to jump moments before they could enter.
Slowly, the adventurers entered the foyer behind Cipher and let their mouths drop open seeing the soldiers-like fellas in various forms of full scale armor and military tunics.
"Sir Gallifrey, I see you gathered everyone. Prepare some tea for the guests," he gestured towards the Adventurers just as the doors slammed closed behind them.
A satisfying click of a lock followed soon after. Before they could even take a step back, they were trapped in the citadel with abnormally charming and organized looking people.
Each person in the room seemed armed with powerful weapons, armor and enchanted equipment overall. It was clear that this was his intention, to truly make them hostages.
"What tea shall we prepare, My Lord?"
"Platinum++ Asgard Pekoe, I'm sure our guests will enjoy some energy."
Gallifrey took a gander at the three lesser beings and nodded, he dare not judge those his Master considered a guest, nor those whom seem beneath him. "Understood," turning on his heel, he rushed off towards the kitchen down a neighboring corridor.
"You don't mind black tea, do you folks?" Cipher asked as he turned towards the group once more with an oddly charming smile across his lips.
Guests, the three were tasting that word on their lips and in their minds.
"Are we not hostages?" Dyne quickly spoke up, taking a step forward.
Though the step forward was hardly considered a threat, most of the room all shifted its attention to the druid the moment he did so.
Cipher raised a hand to calm everyone.
"No, you're not hostages. Even though you won't be able to open any doors in the citadel without breaking them down... But you're not high enough levels to even scratch them." Cipher was confident of this which was why he invited them in. "I invited you inside so we can sit and talk more about this place. I believe I came from the same place as your Idols."
"Same place...?" Ninya raised a brow looking at him, hesitantly speaking. "I was under the impression he was from the Karnassus City-State Alliance."
"The what...?" Cipher blinked a few times, not recognizing the name of the State she had just given him. Before he knew it, she was taking a map out of her pouch and spreading it out in front of her. She kept her staff under her elbow.
Looking over the map, Cipher would dedicate all his faculties to memorizing it. 「Memory Mind」allowed him to instantly make a copy of the data in his mind and activated 「Mini-Map」.
Holding out his hand, a holographic third dimensional map derived from the map she had shown him appeared.
"How did you do that...?" Ninya asked, clearly interested in the magic used to replicate the map in such a fashion.
"It's a combination of Memory and Light based Magic. Photons and all that."
Her head lulled to the side. "Photons?"
"Fancy word for particles of light." Cipher was quick to dismiss the fact that she wasn't scientifically inclined. She may be able to use magic, but that didn't mean she knew all scientific lingo.
"Huh... Interesting. I uh... Think you could teach me something like that, please?"
For a split second he was pretty quiet before slowly nodding. "Tell me more about yourself and I may oblige your request."
It had been a few minutes since Gallifrey had gone off to do as he was told. So as he came walking back with a green plastic tray, and a set of authentic Japanese looking tea cups, he held them out for the three strangers to take.
Ninya blinked a few times at Cipher as he wanted to know more as she put away the map and then took a cup as it was offered into both hands. She stared at the black liquid and took a whiff. It was bitter, but it was sweetened with honey and sugar, two very "high" tier ingredients wasted on them.
Looking up from the liquid and to their host, she kept a faint smile on her lips. Her sky blue eyes weren't as fearful as before. If anything more of her femininity was showing through her boyish superficial exterior. She seemed squishy like a marshmellow.
"My name is Ninya, as you know. I came from a village... I have an older sister. She's the reason why I became an Adventurer."
"Really? Was she an Adventurer?" Cipher asked the most simple of question, which may have been obvious until she shook her head at the question. So this wasn't because her sister was her mentor?
"My sister was taken by a despicable nobleman. So I became an adventurer to rescue her." This wasn't necessarily a complete secret. Her entire group knew and so did most of her friends, or people she saw as friends.
Cipher slowly nodded in understanding, "But isn't your main goal as a member of the Swords of Darkness is obtain a Sword of Darkness? Like you said before, it's your groups main goal."
She froze for a moment before taking a slow sip of the tea. She immediately felt warm inside, calming, as a brief surge of energy shot through her almost immediately. "You seem like a good person," Ninya said, "and I'm sure there are good and honorable nobles out there."
Her eyes seemed to be floating on a surface of water, "Do you have magic that you can use to find her?" She was quick to ask such a thing.
"What will you do when you find her? If you can save her?" Cipher answered her question with another set of questions. "What if you can't save her?"
Ninya didn't understand why she was suddenly being barraged with all these questions. "I don't..."
Dyne planted a supportive hand on Ninya's shoulder, giving Cipher the stink eye.
"Tell me more about Re-Estize, and I'll think about helping you learn more magic and get stronger. Tell me more about the surrounding countries and I'll consider helping you with finding your older sister. Think of information as your currency."
He glanced over at the other members of the Swords of Darkness sipping the tea given to them.