Chapter 150 - Through The Gate
Cecile watched as Aled and Richard began their preparations. She was somewhat concerned about why Aled seemed to be in a rush to look for Estian. The spirit hadn’t mentioned its reasons, but it sure seemed urgent.
“Then I’m opening it.” As soon as Aled gave the warning, a line appeared in midair that expanded into a circle, which then began to rapidly spin.
“Wow!” Cecile exclaimed. She inched closer, surveying it with curiosity, since it was her first-time seeing magic in person. Even though they were standing in the palace’s storage room, the landscape inside the circle morphed into a different scenery. ‘So, this is gate magic!’ She’d read about the spell, which was mentioned in many books—magic that connected two spaces. “Is this magic difficult?” she asked, turning to Richard.
Uncharacteristically for him, Richard replied in a serious manner, “It’s not difficult to cast, but it’s hard to set up a proper link, which makes it dangerous. The greater the distance, the harder it is to establish the connection. More importantly, if it’s unstable and something were to happen, you might not be able to reach the other side.”
“What does that mean?”
“Exactly as I said. It looks like it’s an instant connection, but it takes more time than you’d think to get to the other side. If the gate closes while you’re crossing, you’ll end up trapped between space.”
“I don’t really understand, but it does sound dangerous.”
“It’s not an issue for someone like me or Aled, but…” Richard chuckled, as he cast a look at Cecile, “a powerless human like you wouldn’t be able to escape for their entire life. The spell compresses space. If you drop between that, you’ll end up somewhere unfamiliar and you’ll die wandering in some strange place.”
“Why are we opening something so dangerous here?! Tania, you heard him, right? Don’t get close! Girgantia, you too!”
Richard’s words had caused a chill to run down Cecile’s spine, and she quickly grabbed Tania and Girgantia, who had moved closer to gape at the expanding circle, as if they were about to leap into it at any moment. The two started to whine that they wanted to see more, but she forced them to move back.
Once satisfied they were a safe distance away, Cecile approached the gate cautiously. ‘I’ll get to see His Majesty when it opens, right?’ She didn’t have any thoughts of crossing the gate since it was dangerous, but she hoped to get a glimpse of Estian’s face when the connection stabilized. She thought it would be nice to have a little chat while Aled was crossing.
Suddenly, the instant the scenery beyond the gate came into focus, an ear-splitting roar was heard—“Kraaaaar!”
“Wh-what the?” Cecile gasped, stumbling back.
Richard looked across the gate, and muttered bewilderedly, “I’m sure it connected to the dukedom of Etia… What is that?”
“Is this really Etia? What is that?” Cecile stammered, staring blankly at the scene. Beyond the gate was a wriggling, unidentifiable black mud-like mass, which was in the middle of engulfing a city she was seeing for the first time. She’d expected to see Estian when the gate connected. Instead, she was greeted with the sight of something strange and scary.
‘What about His Majesty?’ No matter how Cecile searched with her eyes, she couldn’t find him anywhere, or anyone else for that matter. Suddenly, a bright flash of light exploded from behind her, and she tripped—something had pushed her. Unable to even flail her arms, Cecile tumbled straight into the open gate while screaming. Glancing back, she saw four surprised faces in the distance, and something floating above their heads.
‘A hand?’ There was a white glowing disembodied human hand. Despite the oddity, none of the four paid it any attention, as if they hadn’t noticed it. Meanwhile, the circle connected to the empress’s palace disappeared and the surrounding landscape shifted.
When she fell through the circle, Cecile had been certain that the sky was above, while the dukedom of Etia was below. However, different sceneries soon flickered past her in succession—a forest filled with trees, an endless ocean, a desert, and then another unfamiliar city. Watching the rapidly changing landscape, Cecile recalled Richard’s earlier explanation, including his warning, “…a powerless human like you wouldn’t be able to escape for their entire life.”
As she steadily fell in an unknown direction, Cecile flipped the out-of-view archmage the bird. ‘Had he known that I’d fall? Was he a prophet and not a mage?’ The space continued to change wildly, and the empress could no longer tell up from down, left from right. As the situation grew progressively worse, Cecile felt her heart drop. In the end, all she could do was close her eyes, while she clutched the scepter tightly. Before long, Cecile was out cold.