Genius Mage in a Cultivation World - Chapter 121: Nightshade (3/3)
“You better stop shitting me,” Irea snapped in an instant. She flung her hands forward only to grab Layn by his robe and pull him towards her. “If we are going to hide, you are going to hide with us!” she shouted, clearly unwilling to let the archmage go against the approaching horde of monsters all on his own.
“Dear, I know how it sounds, but I don’t have suicidal tendencies,” Layn refuted Irea’s protests, grabbing her hands into his own before taking them off his clothes. “We all worked so hard to get the kitchen done, so I can’t allow it to be devastated now. But, sadly, we won’t have the time to hide both of the places, so I will need to draw the attention of the monsters away from it instead.” Layn informed as calmly as if he was describing yesterday’s weather, not the plan to throw himself all alone against the horde of both evolved and enraged monsters.
“Do you really think I care for this damned kitchen right now?!” Irea snapped even further, refusing to let go of Layn’s clothes. “Layn, listen, we came here only because of you. We survived here so far only because of you. You are too important to risk your life for something as stupid as the kitchen!” her entire body started to tremble in agitation.
“Dear, didn’t I say it?” Layn shook his head. “I do not plan to go out and die. In fact, protecting the kitchen is just a side task for me,” he added, turning his head towards the shore to check whether the monsters were already visible.
Thankfully, they were still hidden behind the line of the horizon. And that meant the mercenaries frantically digging up the earth only to pile up at the shore-facing wall of the dorm still had some time to prepare for the invasion of the horde.
“Then what is the real purpose of you putting your neck on the line?” Irea asked with fury filling her eyes.
‘For her to get so agitated over my safety,’ Layn blushed a bit, even though he was in the middle of an argument. ‘It’s a weirdly pleasant feeling,’ he thought before lowering his head to hide his blush.
“That’s not something I can answer right now,” Layn answered Irea’s question after a short moment.
“What, are you holding secrets from me now?” she asked, prompted even into greater agitation.
“Huh? No, nothing like that!” Layn raised his hands to his chest as if he wanted to defend himself from those false accusations. “It’s just that….” his voice broke as he looked away, unable to face the girl at all.
“What. Is. It?” Irea spelled her words out one by one, accenting every single one of them. Her body leaned forward as she looked at Layn with fires in her eyes.
“I don’t really know,” Layn finally decided to give up. “I don’t know anything about what’s going on. AH, I know some things, but not anything that would allow me to understand the principle,” he explained a bit, even though his words still made little to no sense to anyone outside of the strict circle of his science friends from the past.
“And why the heck do you need to understand some kind of principle?!” Irea was reaching the limits of her mental stability. Her shouts proved that even though Layn’s words actually made sense, she was too agitated to notice it.
“Irea,” Layn called the girl out in a stern voice. But even when she looked at him with those agitated eyes of hers, the archmage refused to say anything.
“What do you want?” After a long moment of silence, she finally asked.
“Irea, I will repeat myself again. I need to understand the principle behind what’s happening right now.” There was no hint of doubt or hesitation in Layn’s voice. He wasn’t even asking for approval but informing the girl about the obvious instead.
“And what for?” The girl still refused to just trust in his words.
“Because if we don’t know what’s happening, we will keep being the victims of this event.” Layn shook his head. “If we don’t know what’s the reason behind that monster’s swarm, we won’t be able to stop it.”
Finally, Layn revealed the reasons behind his decision. He knew about the monster-producing site in the middle of the lake. He knew that most of the monsters created there were designed to be the feed of the monsters that already existed. He could even guess that for each produced monster, there was a small chance it could actually survive and join the ranks of the monsters roaming the area.
But he didn’t know where did this strange veil of darkness come from. He didn’t know how and why it influenced the monsters.
‘Is it making them evolve, or just attracting evolved monsters to gather around?’ Layn asked himself, using every spare moment to analyze the situation.
“So that’s the case,” Irea said as she finally started to calm down. Her entire body sunk in itself as if all the energy suddenly vanished from her system resulting in the inner pressure. “Are you really sure it is necessary, though?” Irea hung her head before asking.
“Dear, it’s really pleasing to see how you are worried about me,” Layn started, aiming to pat the girl’s head when his body twitched. His head instantly moved to the side, making the archmage cast his glance at the water nearby.
And it was already full of ripples, indicating that the source of the disturbance was coming in fast.
Layn raised his eyes a bit. And there they were. An unending front of monsters, using whatever means they had at their disposal to push forward.
Some were clearly drowning. Others could barely hold themselves above the water. Only a small number of the monsters was actually fit to travel through the water. As a result, Layn could spot only a few land-faring monsters at the front, given how it was occupied almost exclusively by the sea-faring monsters instead.
“I guess the ones at the front will die on the land rather quickly,” Tom said, straining his eyes in hopes of seeing more details in the picture. Sadly, as great as his eyes were when compared to an average mortal, they couldn’t match the sight of people like Yelna or Kasher of the former(future?) hero party.
“And what does that matter? Isn’t this a good thing?” Irea asked after a moment when she also noticed the front of the approaching monsters.
“Good thing, bad thing, it all depends how you look at it,” Layn replied while shaking his head. “From one side, if most of them die as soon as they come ashore, then it means fewer monsters to worry about. But on the other hand….” Layn stopped his words in the middle, unwilling to just give the answer to the girl.
‘I wonder if she will figure how problematic it could be, all by herself,’ he thought, casting a meaningful glance at the girl.
“You want me to figure out the downside of them dying?” Irea asked, perfectly reading the intent of Layn’s actions. “Any hints?” she asked, raising her eyes at the man.
‘At least she calmed down a bit,’ Layn thought with his lips forming a gentle smile. “The monsters incapable of traversing or even living on the land will all die once they come ashore.” That was the greatest help Layn was willing to offer.
The knowledge that sea-faring monsters, in most of the situations, couldn’t remain alive on the dry land was something that Irea could lack. As such, Layn had no intent of expecting her to figure it out all on her own. But now that he gave her this important piece of information, she should be able to figure out why it was problematic for them.
“Well, I think I know what you wanted to say, but this veil of darkness… Wait, this is a pretty depressing name, isn’t it?” Irea suddenly changed the topic. “How about we call it night-shade? You know,” she suddenly smiled, “because it’s night, and yet it still throws the shade on the things that would otherwise shine!” she said while raising her hand to the sky above, where all the stars were absent.
“That’s a good name,” Layn acknowledged Irea’s invention before squinting his eyes a bit. “What about my question, though?” he asked, leaning his head to the side.
“Don’t worry, I’m getting there,” Irea cast a quick glance at the progress of the work of the mercenaries before smiling at Layn. “We don’t know how this nightshade influences the monsters. If it’s only empowering their instincts, then we really might have a problem here.”
“And what kind of problem?” Layn couldn’t help but pry deeper into the topic. ‘It feels like she is on the right track,’ he thought. Ultimately though, he decided to stay silent.
“Because if those sea-faring monsters you saw will all die on the shore, then all the other monsters will stay here for as long as it will take them to eat all the corpses out, am I right?” Irea put her guess forward before moving her eyes towards the surface of the water.
The monsters were already pretty close. By judging the distance that they still had to travel and the speed at which they were doing so, roughly five minutes remained before the attack would ensue.
“Sir, we have finished the slope!” before Layn could confirm Irea’s guess, one of the mercenaries reported. Taking a look at the building, Layn smiled. Thanks to the hard work of his people, the shore-facing side of the dorm now turned into a slope, as if the entire thing was just another hill.
“Great. I need everyone to go and hide inside,” Layn ordered before moving his eyes back on Irea’s face. “That also includes you. As for your question….” Layn stopped in the middle of the sentence before taking a few steps towards the shore.
But rather than putting himself at the front against the monsters, he just wanted to distance himself from the girl.
“I have no idea. And that’s one of the reasons why I have to remain outside,” Layn stated before turning his head to the mercenary that came with the report.
“I need you guys to stay vigilant for as long as necessary. We don’t know if our trick will work, so if the building will show any signs of breaking apart, be ready to flee for your life,” Layn instructed before his face took on a sour expression.
“One more thing,” he said just as the mercenary was about to leave. “I need you to make sure Irea will be inside the dorm with you all. This one time, I will allow you to use force to keep her inside if she will decide to go out all on her own.”