Claude had never imagined that there would be a tower built on such a large scale on a coastal mountain like that. According to Welikro, the ruin site was more or less as huge as his red-bricked mansion, roughly 40 to 50 meters in diameter. But when he actually saw it for real, he came to understand how huge the difference between the two was.
“This is definitely a castle,” mused Borkal with awe.
“No, I think it might even be larger than Restoration Plaza,” said Eriksson.
Restoration Plaza was a memorial built at the campsite where Stellin IX fired the first shot that kickstarted the revolution. Before the four of them came to Egret, in other words, yesterday noon, they had celebrated participated in the celebration of Restoration Day there. A plaza that could hold up to three thousand people was indeed huge in the eyes of Eriksson and the rest.
Welikro walked along the broken walls and knocked on the stone with the stick in his hand. “Claude, come look. Was I right? These stones are identical to the ones on the rocky path.”
Indeed, he was. Claude found that the material of the walls was identical to those gigantic stones used for the path. Even though the walls had crumbled and were covered with vines, their one-meter thickness as was apparent from a huge crack showed that it was a whole piece, the same material. The only difference was that those stones on the path were rather jagged, but these were completely flat and smooth inside and out.
The tallest of the ruin walls were around two to three meters in height. Even the shortest one was half a meter high. The breeze of the sea fostered lots of moss on the lower portions of the walls, on top of which white crystals formed.
Welikro said, “This is salt carried here from the sea breeze. Even though it’s edible, it tastes slightly bitter and can be hard to stomach.”
The floor within the ruins was not flat. Instead, there was a huge pile of rubble covering a third of the space within and stretching out to the hilltop outside. However, time had erased much of the traces. On top of those rubbles were a few short trees and shrubs, making their original form almost unrecognizable.
“I really don’t get why this tower collapsed. Look at these thick stone walls. Don’t tell me the sea breeze blew it down. That’s a joke if I’ve ever heard one,” said Borkal as he patted a broken wall in thought.
Eriksson stroked his chin as he gazed at the stone wall, looking like he was inspecting it with great detail. “There’s no way the sea breeze could’ve eroded the walls. Perhaps it would be possible for a huge tidal wave. However, if there were a tidal wave that could reach the top of this hill to destroy the tower, Whitestag would’ve no longer existed. In the past few centuries, there had been no records in town about some huge natural disaster like a tidal wave, only some huge storms that came occasionally during the 8th or 9th months.
“Apart from a tidal wave, the only thing that can pose a threat to this tower is an earthquake. But the same reasoning still stands. Whitestag has been here since a thousand years ago, yet there hasn’t been any mention of earthquakes so far. Oh, my father mentioned that there’s also another magic tower ruin on the island of Baryama. Baryama is some thousand kilometers away from Whitestag, and there couldn’t have been such a coincidental earthquake that toppled these two towers that are split apart by such a distance.”
Welikro laughed. “Hey, come over here and carry your stuff. Don’t slack off! What’s the point in guessing? My father told me that these magic towers had been destroyed by gunpowder.”
Borkal responded with dissatisfaction, “How does your father know that? This tower had collapsed centuries ago, so how can he be sure that gunpowder was involved? What kind of gunpowder can be so powerful to topple such a firmly built magic tower?”
Your father was correct, though, thought Claude. The diary stated that Magus Landes had created a kind of fusion gunpowder with traces of magic crystals within it that could reduce a hill into a crater. That kind of firepower was more than enough to take out a magic tower.
Welikro shrugged. “I don’t know either. I asked him the same question myself. He knocked me in the head and called me dumb. Even though centuries had past, the traces left behind by gunpowder usage won’t vanish. Look at the crumbled wall over there and the rubble. It’s obvious that the magic tower had received some kind of huge shock near the bottom and snapped, causing the top part to crash down on one side.
“You all know that my father used to serve as a guard at the national firearms research institute for two years. He said that he had seen more than his fair share of explosions in the institute, hence why he could tell with a mere look whether there was any explosion there. You think that gunpowder can’t possibly be this powerful, but that’s only because you haven’t seen the real thing. My father told me that there was an explosion at the gunpowder stores once and walls thicker than this had been shattered, leaving only a huge crater in the ground.”
“That’s enough, let’s stop arguing about why the tower fell,” Claude said as he tapped the ground with the stick in his hand, “Are we camping here tonight?”
“Uhh… No.” Welikro pointed inside the ruins and said, “We’ll go further ahead. That’s where my father and I camped the last time. The top of the hill gets really breezy at night, so the walls all around us can shield us from it. We’ll be camping inside there.”
Borkal and Eriksson picked up the luggage they tossed on the ground just now and headed into the ruins.
The camping spot Welikro picked was rather decent. It was within the rightmost room of the ruins. The walls of the room still stood more than two meters in height. It was probably a room that stretched out from the bottom of a tower and looked to be around 20 square meters large. The ground was also made of the same flat, grey stone and it was probably used as a storehouse of some sort.
Within that room was a stack of firewood that stood a meter tall. Welikro said that he had left that behind when he came camping with his father during winter the last time. He took out one from the pile and nodded with satisfaction. It was dry enough. He was worried that it would be moist because the snow that piled up on them when he left would melt. The three months of being exposed to the elements for three whole months. But it seemed that the sea breeze had dried it sufficiently before their trip here.
“Looks like we don’t need to gather anymore firewood,” Welikro said, “This saves us lots of time. Alright, let’s put down our stuff here. We’ll be sleeping here tonight.
Claude and the rest were quite satisfied. The stone ground within the room was relatively clean. The breeze blew away most of the dust and there wasn’t a single crack on the walls for insects to crawl in.
“Will we be laying the tent here?” asked Borkal. He pointed in the corner of the wall opposite the pile of firewood where there were traces of a tent being set up before.
“Yes. My father and I also set ours up there the last time,” Welikro said with a nod, “Wait, don’t lay it like last night. My tent is modular and we can take out the separators in between and lay it out as one big tent. The four of us can sleep inside it.”
Eriksson was dumbstruck. “Then why did I even bother to bring this heavy tent of mine all the way here? If you had said that earlier, I would’ve left it on the boat…”
Welikro scratched his head with some embarrassment. “Well, I was worried that you all would find it hard to sleep. After all, you believe in all the scary legends about this ruins. So, I thought it would be better for there to be a smaller tent where you can be in during night duty.”
Eriksson turned to look at the crumbled walls. “But the room’s walls are two meters long. How can we keep watch when we see nothing? Stuff the tent at the entrance?”
Welikro pointed at the pile of firewood and said, “I was going to have your tent set up on top of the pile. That way, you can still keep watch on the surroundings inside the tent. Oh, and we’ll only need to lay half your tent out, just enough to block the wind. That way, it’d be easier for you to act if something happens.”
Since Welikro had already planned it all, they did as he said. They had to pay a little more attention when they took firewood, however, careful not to draw them from the center of the pile and topple the tent.
Welikro took a few long sticks from the ground beside the pile. “Good, they’re still here. The dryer they are, the tougher they become. Here, these are what my father used to set up the tents. Help me out and get it set up first.”
The tent Welikro brought was quite simple to set up. Ropes were tied around some rocks from all four corners and each rope was thrown over each of the walls. Quickly, a roof was formed over three of the four walls of the room. It was quite flat thanks to the stones that weighed the ropes down from outside. As for the part facing the entrance, those wooden sticks were propped on the crumbled walls to support the tent, making for a rather simple shack.
Welikro tested the hardness of the wooden sticks and looked satisfied with them. Now, the sea breeze wouldn’t blow on them. Even if it got bigger, the roof won’t easily be blown away.
Borkal analyzed it curiously for a good while and said, “Wero, you said that your father and you camped here during winter, right? Wouldn’t a tent like this collapse from the weight of the snow?”
Welikro laughed and replied, “Yeah, you guessed right. The first time we were here, the tent crashed down on us because of a snow and we had to get up in the middle of the night to clear the snow out. On the second time, we learned from our lesson and didn’t set it up like we did now, opting for a more normal setup that can only hold the two of us. But it’s not winter now and there are four of us. It also doesn’t seem like it’ll rain during the night based on how the sky looks, so don’t worry. This method will work. We’re leaving tomorrow anyway.”
Claude had started to prepare to make a meal. “Wero, where’s the water?”
Welikro pointed downwards and said, “Go down 50 meters there. There’s a spring there with really clean water. It even lets out hot vapor like a hot spring during winter. We bathe and get our water from there.”
Welikro then accompanied Borkal and Eriksson down to get water. Claude on the other hand stayed back to start the fire for cooking a meal.
After having a simple meal, the four of them discussed how they would proceed with the hunt.
“I won’t be going. Let Eyke have the hunting bow and Boa, the arbalest. Wero, you take your own gun. The three of you can go without me. I’ll clean this place up first and take a stroll around here. I’m really curious about the ruins and I want to give it a proper look. Maybe I’ll even find something amazing.”
He couldn’t wait for the moment his three friends set out on their hunt so that he could go search for the things Landes left behind in the tower. Even though close to six centuries had passed since then and the things might be long gone already, he still had to check to be sure. Otherwise, he would never leave satisfied. That was especially the case given how coincidental it all turned out. Claude felt a glimmer of hope of finding something. If his transmigration and him getting the magical cookbook had been ordained by fate, then it was almost certain that Landes’s belongings were still there.
“Are you really not coming on the hunt with us?” The three didn’t care about Claude’s desire to find something amazing seriously. However, he had been rather studious and an avid reader of books on history during the past half year and they were aware of that. It was all too normal for him to be intrigued by the ruins of a magic tower that was built centuries ago.
“Yeah. Feel free to go on without me. I’ll be fine here alone. If possible, try to get a few turkeys. I’ll show you another method of cooking chicken, satisfaction guaranteed.”
“Well, Eyke, leave your short-barreled matchlock with Claude just in case. If anything happens, fire a shot to the sky. We’ll rush back if we hear a gunshot,” decided Welikro.