The Rebirth of the Hero’s Party’s Archmage chapter 47

Episode 47

As dawn lightened the sky, the watchtowers of the city came into view. The thief Brien reached the low hills ahead of the rest and looked down upon the city.

. You’ve arrived quickly.”

“It’s smaller than I thought. Is that really where the empire’s largest black market is held?”

Chuckles came from Willis, the spearman, as he spoke with a sense of wonder, prompting Brien to snort dismissively.

“The city above ground is small. The true face of is revealed in the underground city, you know?”

“Underground city?”

“There’s a city down there twice the size of the one above ground, controlled by the thieves’ guild.”

“Does the noble lord not know of such things?”

“He knows. He takes tribute from the thieves’ guild. The income from that must be so considerable to leave it be.”

The empire’s largest black market…

Rain too surveyed the cityscape with interested eyes. Yet, the city exposed above ground lacked any distinct features.

“What business could a noble house possibly have in a place that looks so nefarious?”

In Rain’s mind, those with strange collecting habits were always sinister old men. And yet, Hirpien was young and lively.

Willis, the spear-wielding guard, laughed softly.

“You’re naive because you’re young. Rich ladies adore collecting above all else. It allows them to boast to the daughters of other families.”

“Most of the time that would be correct, but it’s not so simple for that lady.”

Brien gestured lightly towards the carriage. Hirpien had been taking extra classes and learning to play the harp from Yanar since just yesterday.

Since she had been around music from a young age, she learned it quickly and with envy-inducing ease, unlike Rain.

“The Diarle family grew through trade. Interesting rumors circulate about their succession rites.”

“What kind of rumors?”

“When the head of the Diarle ages, the children are scattered across the world to bring back precious treasures. The story goes that whoever returns with the most valuable treasure inherits the family.”

Hmm… A merchant family’s meritocracy.

It seemed like a decent practice. To procure treasures, one would need considerable skill—whether that be in negotiation, connections, or wealth.

While Rain nodded in understanding, Willis yawned as if it were all rather boring to him.

“What’s the use of knowing that? It’s not complicated. We just protect the lady, return, and collect our money.”

When they reached the southern gate (南門) of the city, a long line awaited.

With nearly every group came guards who were veterans of many battles; mercenaries clad in chainmail if not adventurers were escorting the carriages.

They presented invitations to the gatekeeper, and simultaneously, a few coins exchanged hands. Rain looked on in confusion, prompting Captain Bardwell to explain.

“To buy and sell goods at the black market, you must pay a fee to the lord. It’s no surprise.”

“The lord is in on it too, huh?”

“What a revelation. Now, everyone gather round.”

Bardwell’s confidant approached with a bundle of parchments, handing one to each adventurer and family guard.

“We must acquire this item.”

Drawn on the parchment with fine craftsmanship was… an ornate music box. Descriptions of its color and features were recorded, with the most distinctive feature being the phrase ‘For my beloved Brenna’ engraved at the bottom of the music box.

Indeed, it had to be a noble family. Music boxes, which emerged with the invention of timepieces, were considered rare luxury items and coveted by collectors.

“The soldiers will move in pairs. If discovered, one is to haggle continuously to prevent others from buying, while the other will go to inform the lady.”

Hirpien finished with a beaming smile.

“If the item is confirmed, I do not care about its condition or the price—just find it.”

Adventurers had their respective missions, befitting their role as guards.

“Brien, you will roam the surroundings and look out for strange presences or those with malice.”

“Got it.”

“Yanar, as it will be difficult for you to respond to a sudden fight, find a position where you can watch the paths of our party and standby for emergencies.”

“Understood.”

“Willis and Rain, you will join me in directly protecting the lady. No matter what happens, she must be safe.”

No matter what happens… At the time, Rain had taken these words lightly, simply as a trite saying. How could anyone have anticipated what was to come?

* * *

The underground city of was nicknamed ‘ant hill’ because it could be accessed via a dozen holes dotting the surface.

However, VIPs like Hirpien, who received invitations, could descend using an elevator at the thieves’ guild headquarters in the city center.

Kiki-kiki-clang.

Amid the unique stench of sewage and decay, the group dispersed by district.

─Rare potions, unseen above ground! Touched by black magic…

─Have a look here. A rare breed of snake…

─A cursed spear from Trident Point, ancient and accursed…

Throughout the ‘ant hill,’ odd-looking traders were energetically hawking, each displaying a blanket of goods.

Certainly, there were items you couldn’t see on the surface—rare goods that even promised thrilling ‘dates’ with the Golden Children.

Beyond the hustle, one could also feel unfriendly gazes scrutinizing them.

‘The thieves’ guild manages the ant hill but does not intervene in conflicts outside…’

That is, even if one were followed and attacked in the night for having a lot of money or for purchasing a coveted item, the guild would not get involved.

However, it was a different story inside the ant hill; any attempt to start conflict would be promptly handled by the guild, who would put an end to it.

Willis, the spearman, walked at the front with his weapon draped over his shoulder. Hirpien and Bardwell were secure in the middle, and Rain brought up the rear.

“Can I ask you something?”

As Rain lightly skimmed the stalls, searching for a book on Tureina, Hirpien, hands behind her back, addressed him.

“Why did you accept this black market escort job?”

“Does it matter to you?”

“You don’t seem to be here just for the money, unlike the adventurers. Your skin is exceptionally smooth, hardly like a commoner. It’s pretty clear you’re of noble descent.”

She was right.

That was not something Rain could disguise—the life of comfort he had lived in the estate. Perhaps Lynn could, but not him.

“If I’m right, you are that Rain Ludwik, the top freshman from , aren’t you?”

“…!”

“So why are you on such a mission? There must be something you want from the black market, right?”

Since there seemed no need to keep that a secret, Rain nodded in acknowledgment.

“Oh, what is it? What are you looking for? I’m curious.”

“A book on Tureina.”

“Tureina… Ah, the famous shamaness? Why?”

Why, indeed… To answer that question honestly might require staying up all night.

That I’m the grand mage Lynn from 300 years ago and Tureina was my first disciple…

However, there was no obligation to respond truthfully to such a deeply personal matter. There was a moment of silence before Rain nonchalantly changed the subject.

“Well, I’m a mage. I’m naturally interested in someone as notable as Tureina. But these days, it’s hard to find any books on her.”

“There’s no need.”

“Hmm.”

“So, why did you come here? Because of your family’s succession ceremony?”

Hirpien’s pupils dilated in surprise, then he smiled brightly and shook his head.

“No, it’s unrelated to the succession ceremony.”

“Then what is that item?”

“It’s something my grandfather lost when he was captured by pirates. Turns out, it was actually a relic from my great-grandmother who passed away when I was young.”

A relic…

Then I wondered, what happened to Rin’s belongings? I got her diary, but what about the rest? Are they still lying with her remains?

“Grandfather spent his whole life trying to reclaim it, but never succeeded. In the spring, he would play the melody of that music box on whistles, gazing into the distance with tears in his eyes.”

“…”

“Now grandfather doesn’t have much time left. I wanted to make him smile at least once before the end. Does that answer your question?”

As I looked at Hirpien’s cheerful smile, a sad realization suddenly hit me.

I didn’t know anything.

I didn’t know what Lysta liked the most, or what Freide and Kies liked… not even what kind of food Tureina preferred.

‘I never tried to find out.’

I spent five years traveling with them but never made the effort to truly know them. Why? Because I didn’t expect to part ways so suddenly?

“What’s this, was the story moving enough to make you cry?”

I hadn’t thought I was crying, but hot tears were streaming down my cheeks. I shook my head as I wiped them away.

“No, it’s just really dusty down here.”

“Ah, don’t be embarrassed… Oh? Look over there, they’re selling books. Could it be over there?!”

Hirpien pointed to a stall unlike the others that was equipped with a stand and had mountains of books piled up.

A tremor of anticipation went through my heart.

As I approached cautiously, the stocky-faced, bearded owner looked up.

“Hello there. What might you be looking for, young mage?”

“Do you have a book about Tureina?”

“Tureina, ahh, of course! You’re in luck! I brought three copies and two have already sold. The one left is in the best condition!”

Compared to the other poorly handled books, the owner brought out a respectfully kept book from the corner.

“The Life and Achievements of Tureina, Acolyte of Rin and Freide, the Ashen Priestess.”

I swallowed hard. It was the same book Librarian Karen had once brought to me from the library, in equally good condition. The problem was the price of the book.

“Seven gold coins.”

“Seven gold coins? Are you joking? That price might make sense for a first edition!”

“Haha! I’ve given you a bargain, young man!”

“A bargain at seven gold coins?”

“Yes! Recently, ‘Children of Gold’ have been fervently searching for anything related to Tureina. Just being known to sell this on the black market might have me executed!”

Was it really that serious? The more I heard, the more confusing it became. What on earth did Tureina do to cause such a commotion now…?

“So, I’m basically risking my life selling this. If you’re not buying, then off with you! Shoo! Plenty of others will buy it.”

This was a letdown.

The bounty from the Rat-Spider Queen was five coins, and the reward from the Alliance, two…

If I had brought everything, it would have been enough, but spending one coin on the lordship was an issue. Three coins seemed like it should have been more than enough.

Just then, a flash of gold caught my eye from the corner of my vision. The merchant’s smile widened as he saw the reflection in my pupils.

“Here’s seven coins. Please give me that book.”

It was… Hirpien. Even though it meant spending an immense sum, he simply grinned.

“Of course, right away! Here it is!”

After receiving the book from the owner, Hirpien flipped through it to check its condition and nodded.

“No problems here. Is this the book you were looking for?”

It seemed as though he would readily pass it to me, but I hesitated to reach out, feeling an odd wariness.

“Why would you…?”

“Grandfather said I have good fortunes with people. It’s been like that for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was a child, I could smell the scent of luck when meeting someone.”

“The scent of luck?”

“It’s more of an intuition, I guess… Hard to explain.”

Murmuring to himself, Hirpien placed the book in my hands with a wink.

“Consider it an investment in connections. For some reason, I feel that building a good relationship with you will bring in tremendous luck.”

I clutched ‘The Life of a Disciple’ given to me by Hirpien, feeling an unexpected joy.

A vague intuition… Hirpien had no way of knowing.

That he had just given a gift to the reincarnation of the grand mage from the hero party 300 years ago. That he had indebted himself to such a person.

“…Your intuition seems pretty accurate.”

* * *

Ant Nest, Chamber 11.

A guild member of the thieves, conducting inspections and leaning against the damp sewer wall, furrowed his brows.

“What is this now?”

A tall man and a shorter woman, both clad in dark blue robes, approached. The man looked impassive while the woman seemed fidgety, continuously trembling her feet.

“Are they out of their minds with such outfits? What, are they black magic practitioners? This is ridiculous.”

If the thief had any understanding of magic, he would have noticed the wildly surging power within her and backed off…

Not sensing the killing intent of the magic, the thief reached out and pushed her shoulder… And from that touch, her hand, arm, torso, face, and legs grotesquely swelled and exploded in a spray of blood.

The splattering blood acted as a contagion, and nearby thieves, who merely got splashed, also suffered the same fate, scattering into pieces of bone, brain matter, blood, and flesh.

In the midst of the bloodbath, the woman, drenched in scarlet, let out a cackling laugh.

“Wow, how did you know?! Am I a witch?”

“Livieni, your permission has not yet been granted.”

“Why? It was self-defense. He discovered our identity, didn’t he? It’s only natural to strip flesh from bone, right?”

“Oh dear, there you go being unreasonable again.”

A guild member, stunned by the spectacle, fled in panic, followed by passing travelers screaming and running away.

Suddenly, a crow appeared. This crow was not alive; it was a concentration of magic in the shape of a crow, similar to Rin’s Ludiyan.

The crow landed on the man’s shoulder, and the fluttering feathers transformed into dark blue characters before his eyes.

“It’s a message from Tureina.”

“From Mother?! What is it? What does it say?!”

“Do as you wish.”

A chilling, blood-curdling smile crept onto Livieni’s lips.

And in the palm of her hand, dark blue liquid bubbled forth, quickly shaping into a large scythe.

With a swing of that massive scythe, which ignored all physical barriers, those fleeing met the same fate as the thieves.

“Ahahaha! The smell of blood really makes it seem like everything is coming to life! Today, I’ll kill just five thousand people! Ehehe!”



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