After some time, two stone gates appeared.
There were a lot of metaphysical patterns, numbers, and symbols engraved on the gates, and the guard approached the gates and pressed patterns and symbols.
When the thick-as-hell stone gate opened, the dungeon began to unfold in front of everyone’s eyes.
They weren’t aware, but the dungeon was created by the Baroque Imperial using the structure of the Abaron Empire.
“Count Ferrero is in the third room on the left.”
“But, what is that stone gate over there?”
When Luke pointed at the stone gate on the right side, the jailer seemed flustered.
“Even I don’t know. I am only asked to work here, so His Majesty spoke nothing about it.”
The reason why the jailer was able to work there was because he was related to the Baroque Imperial family.
He was a noble but had no ability. However, Rudolf viewed it as an advantage.
The guys with swords didn’t like cramped places, and wizards and scholars are more interested in admission rather than punishing.
In addition to the possibility of an intruder getting into the dungeon being very low, there was no need for the Emperor to put a skilled man there.
All it had to be was a human who could torture the prisoners and give them meals occasionally.
“I honestly wanted to do something, so I came up here, but I never dreamt that I had skills to do this work here. And whenever I get close to that gate, I feel like I am losing power…”
At the words of the jailer, Luke recalled the time when he was trapped by Nanas.
At that time, he had gone to the Dark Forest where the trap was installed. He was unable to breathe, and it was uncomfortable as the black circle on his heart was moving slow.
It was because of the trap installed by Nanas… Well, it was mainly because of the place where it was located.
The Aether Vortex could drain one’s power regardless if it was an aura, divine, mana, or magi.
Could such thing be behind the iron gate?
Was it made so that everyone would be prevented from entering it?
When Luke was in doubt, Philip rushed into the dungeon to look for Count Ferrero.
“Vice-captain! Are you okay?”
When he heard his old title, Ferrero, who was leaning on the wall, lifted his head.
“Philip, is that you?”
“Yes, it is me. I am here to see you, Vice-captain.”
Ferrero smiled at Philip’s words and saw him break the prison door.
“What are you talking about? I am your enemy.”
Ferrero had ears everywhere, and he knew how well Philip had turned out.
He knew that Philip was a Sword Master and was the commander of the 1st squadron of the Symphonia Kingdom.
When he heard all of that, Ferrero was delighted.
It seemed like Philip had met a very good master that made him a free bird. Ferrero wasn’t wrong when he recognized Philip as a talented kid.
It was a pity that he would have to clash swords with Philip on the battlefield someday, but even then, it was the fate of a knight.
But that same Philip was in front of him now.
“I have no intention of betraying the Empire. I don’t know how you managed to get here, but you need to go back.”
“Then you did think about betraying the Emperor, right?” Luke asked.
“You are surely…!”
Ferrero’s eyes went wide.
The leader of the enemy, the enemy of Emperor Rudolf, the man called the traitor, Ferrero never thought that such a man would appear here.
Regardless of Ferrero’s reaction, Luke continued, “The Emperor doesn’t know, but you didn’t want to abandon the people I guess. Is that why you are saying you won’t betray the Empire?”
When Luke went straight to the point, Ferrero’s eyes watered.
He knew that the distance between the Emperor and him had grown too much to fill.
Nevertheless, it was he who failed to think of the people.
If he ran away or lost the battle there, there would be no one left to protect the powerless people from the Emperor.
“Well, your decision is an important one. But, for now, why don’t we make a bet?”
As Ferrero asked, Luke nodded.
“In the past, you always asked for a battle against me, right? Once you get out and recover to an extent, we will do that.”
“There must be something else, right? Should I become your servant if I lose?”
“Exactly. Instead, if you win, take my neck to Rudolf. The Emperor will be fond of you and will clear away your sins.”
Upon hearing the ridiculous offer of Luke, Philip and his agents shouted.
Even if he was the Majesty, saying something like that was stupid.
However, Luke stopped them and asked Ferrero, “How is that? Will you agree, or will you refuse?”
“Huh, I agree. I always wanted to fight you.”
Ferrero had always wanted to compete with Luke since the first time he met him in the Imperial palace.
It was because he felt a tremendous amount of strength from the man who claimed to be just an Intermediate Expert.
But currently, the kid seemed to have developed a lot. He was now a Rune Knight and could use magic, so he wanted to fight Luke now more than ever compared to the past.
Luke, who smiled, immediately slashed through the magic seal that was holding Count Ferrero in place.
“Let’s get out of this depressing place. Sir Philip, help Count Ferrero move.”
“There is no need. I have the strength to walk on my own two feet.”
Ferrero staggered while getting up.
Philip, who saw that, couldn’t help but feel anxious. However, fortunately, Ferrero began to walk steadily.
It was when Luke’s party had left the cell that urgent screams were heard outside the dungeon’s stone gate and among them were the jailers.
“What are those?”
“It is a monster! Be careful!”
The screams were troublesome, but Luke, who could sense the mana, ran out.
The guards, who were outside the stone gate, were confronting the stone statues.
The dolls in the shape of fairies, elves, and dwarves that they passed by to reach the cell began to move.
Well, when he saw the empty pieces on the wall, Luke had already figured it out.
‘Golems? No, in here, they must be the dungeon guardians.’
The Golems moved under the control of a wizard. However, it was different for the dungeon guardians. They acted on their own will.
‘But how can they move?’
Dungeon guardians came in a number of varieties.
Some were living creatures like monsters and chimeras, and the others were made of stone and iron such as Moving Armour or Gargoyle.
However, they all had one thing in common.
Their mana was charged, so they could move.
It was a form in which the mana get charged while waiting and detecting the intruder.
However, on his way there, Luke couldn’t feel any mana from the stone dolls.
So he just simply passed by them without thinking twice.
‘Is someone secretly injecting mana in those? We will have to deal with her.’
Produced to protect the lands and dungeons during the ancient Mado era, such stones dolls had unprecedented combat power and couldn’t be dealt with unless one was a Sword Expert class knight.
Luke, who had gone through several dungeons as Saymon, knew the powers and weaknesses of the dolls.
So he immediately asked the flustered knights.
“There is no need to be so shocked! Stab their heads or hearts with your swords! Break the magic stone and they will stop!”
Luke tried to stab a gargoyle to demonstrate what he was telling them.
However, something unexpected happened.
His sword simply bounced off.
‘What? How did this happen?’
It was alright if the sword was just deflected, but the aura disappeared from the sword as well. It just got absorbed into the stone.
The screams of his men entered Luke’s ears.
“Your Majesty, our swords aren’t working!”
“It isn’t just that. The aura is being absorbed!”
Just throwing back the sword was annoying enough, but those stones were absorbing their aura too.
It was observed when a knight showed it to Luke.
In any case, Luke used Fire Bolt toward a doll.
The magic flames that flew toward a lycan and dwarf stone twisted in the middle and flew toward the fairy.
And just like what happened to his aura earlier, the magic got absorbed and then was fired back to Luke.
“Tch, this only brings back unpleasant memories.”
An unpleasant memory of something sucking one’s power.
Luke could remember his feeling of despair when he fell into Nanas’ trap while avoiding the Fire Bolt.
While Luke managed to avoid the dolls’ attacks, one of his men couldn’t avoid it and got killed on the spot.
However, everybody stopped moving, including Luke.
‘How are we supposed to smash them?’
If he used stronger magic or demon abilities then they could be smashed.
However, that would make Luke extremely exhausted.
Moreover, the way the dolls moved and attacked seemed very violent and cumbersome.
The dwarf and lycan wielded an ax and a mace, and the elf had stone arrows. Also, what looked like a fairy doll seemed to use fire and ice magic.
The combination was very difficult to deal with, and Luke and Philip were the only ones who could attack them.
They couldn’t hide in the prison.
The moment they stepped anywhere else, they would become rats waiting to be killed.
“Your Majesty, what should we do?”
The stone dolls grew in number, and the men who were dealing with them were collapsing.
In such a situation, everyone looked at Luke.
They expected their master with exceptional abilities to overcome this.
‘I can’t help it. I have no choice but to push through.’
Thinking so, Luke ordered Philip.
“Push through! Do your best!”
“Yes, Your Majesty!”
Luke and Philip attacked the stones in front of them with Impact Aura.
Count Ferrero, who was behind them, borrowed a sword as he knew that the situation was turning against him.
And Luke’s thoughts were right. There was a limit to the power that could be absorbed. When hit with Impact Aura, the stone dolls crumbled.
“Once a path opens up, follow me…!”
While saying the word ‘follow me’, Luke’s eyes went wide.
The stones, which were smashed, began to piece back together.
‘What the hell is this?!’
Luke frowned at the unseen things happening in front of him and made a shield to block the arrows and magic attacks coming at him.
The stone dolls were all aiming for Luke as they considered him to be the most dangerous among all of them.
Preventing the attacks, Luke began to curse under his breath.
‘Those Abaron bastards! Why did they have to make such annoying things?!’
If it wasn’t for the situation, Luke would have been impressed with the powers of the ancient fairies who created such skilled dungeon guardians.
But he couldn’t do it then as he had to get out of that place safely.
‘I need to find a way! There must be some way out of here!’
Not wanting to have the dungeon be his grave, Luke thought desperately.