Chapter 627: Gathering (Part 1)
"Our defenses You were there" Lith asked.
"Of course, I was.
That's my turf and the Kingdom spends big money to protect something like a crystal mine.
They are more valuable than even platinum.
Their production can't be stopped even during winter because magical research would be affected.
"Thanks to their weapons and arrays, the guards managed to hold on until my arrival, but there wasn't much even I could do.
You know goblins, right Well, they were a frigging army, each one capable of using normal magic and those black rays as well.
"Once I realized we had no chance against such an assault, I detonated the arrays to buy us some time and lead the survivors inside the crystal mines.
We went to its deepest tunnels and then I used earth magic to bring us even deeper.
"Usually doing such a thing is idiotic, raw crystals are unstable and earth magic could make them detonate.
That's why you need specialized personnel and Crystalsmiths to work in the mines.
Yet between a likely death and certain death, the choice was obvious.
"We walked for days, with only my rations to feed dozens of people, constantly on the run.
Somehow, the goblins would always find us, and to make matters worse, they seemed to become better at magic over time.
"Long story short, we found the ruins by sheer luck.
While escaping, we crossed an underground network of tunnels we weren't even aware of.
At that point, our luck turned.
The goblins stopped following us and I finally had the time to wait for reinforcements.
You can easily guess the rest." Morok said.
'Fuck me sideways! This means that the Abomination inside the goblins had enough time to completely reform and is waiting around the area, or that even such a powerful creature is scared of those ruins.
Either way, this is bad.' Lith thought.
Solus opened all of her senses at once.
Lith's dirty mind wasn't the only thing that had rubbed off on her over time.
Her paranoia was now fully developed too.
"Is that the moment when you consumed monster flesh" Lith asked.
"Yeah, but not the goblins'.
There was something off with them.
Their smell, how they moved, heck, they could even talk."
When they landed, Lith casually sniffed his partner.
He trusted Solus, but after the experience with the Awakened assassin, he had started to consider that her senses could be fooled.
Morok kept talking like a magical beast.
A normal human wouldn't have the time to perceive the goblins' smell in the middle of a crisis.
Yet all of his enhanced senses told him the odd Ranger was human.
The entrance to the mines resembled a military fort.
A tall, round wall made of stone one meter (3.3 feet) thick surrounded an area the size of a village.
Four guard towers stood 10 meters (33 feet) tall, allowing the guards to spot incoming enemies from afar.
Life Vision showed Lith a series of arrays surrounding the fort.
All the buildings within the walls were made of stone and in mint condition.
At the fort's very center, there was an arch made of stone and huge wooden beams that lead to an underground passage.
"Are you sure this is the place It's in perfect condition.
I don't see any traces of the attack." Lith said,
The Kingdom spares no expenses for a crystal mine.
Winter or not, they rebuilt it in less than a month."
"Then why not put in a Warp Gate It would allow moving reinforcements and crystals way faster than any other common means of transportation." Lith asked.
"Crystals are unstable.
Even the number of arrays in place here is fine-tuned so that it won't trigger a chain reaction.
A Warp Gate would be a liability since bending space for such long distances creates ripples that might make the crystals explode.
"That even if there was no array, and defense takes precedence." Morok took several rectangular wooden rods out of one of his dimensional amulets.
The rods were about 2 meters (6.5 feet) long and 3 centimeters (1.8 inches) thick.
Each of their four sides was covered with bright red runes, pulsing with power.
Lith immediately recognized the rods.
They were the same as the late Captain Velagros used to build a temporary waypoint near Kandria.
Back then Lith knew nothing about runes and advanced Forgemastery, so neither Solus nor him paid the enchanted item any attention.
Now that they had discovered the importance of the runes, it took them quite an effort to not stare dumbly at them.
'By my maker, each of these things holds only part of the pseudo core.
The runes are even more amazing than we thought! They can even allow a magical item to be disassembled and assembled at will.' Solus thought.
'Also, why red runes Are they different from the blue ones or what' Lith wondered.
"First time seeing one of these" Morok asked after noticing Lith's surprise.
"Second time, actually.
Do you have any idea why these things have runes on them Aside from communication amulets, I've never seen them on an enchanted item and I'm a Forgemaster."
"Lucky you! I spend a fortune every time I need to upgrade my equipment.
Honestly, I have no clue.
Maybe just like the runes on an amulet mark their owner, these runes are related to the coordinates they are locked on." Morok shrugged and started to move away from the mines.
"I wish these things weren't so delicate.
It's hard to assemble them when you are under siege, but the worst part is that they can be used only once and are linked to a specific location.
"Even if I had one back then, I couldn't have used it to escape because, without a proper structure, the dimensional ripples a Gate generates would have blown up the mines and killed us all." He sighed.
Lith helped Morok assemble the beams, using them to form a circle on the ground.
Solus could see that each time a beam was correctly positioned, the pseudo core fragments would assemble.
The slightest mistake would make them clash, and the beams would disconnect releasing sparks.
When they were done, the Rangers had to inject mana into it.
It took them time and effort, but after several minutes a Warp Gate materialized above the circle.
"What did I tell you Spoiled rich kids are the worst.
We had to fly here and do all the hard work so that they don't break a sweat.
Lazy bastards." Morok said.
Lith was more interested in sharing Solus's mana sense and studying how the runes interacted with the Gate rather than listening to Morok's ramblings.
Normal enchanted items couldn't hold spells like flight, healing, or Warp Steps because they required their caster's will to work properly.
A mage could only infuse such spells inside his own magical rings, which was one of the reasons that made even tier three rings expensive and tier four rings prohibitive for most mages.
The pathway, instead, was able to overcome such limitations thanks to the runes.
They enveloped the pseudo core, bearing the will of its creator and channeling all the accumulated energy into the beams to connect to a Warp Gate.
The dimensional corridor was big enough to allow several people to cross it together.
Those walking through the Gate were all members of research teams from all the six great academies, each one wearing their distinctive uniform.
The clearing was quickly filled with a rainbow-colored mass of people.