When the kerosene lamp fuse was changed once more, Kieran stopped.
"Its just over there!" he said.
However, Duke Wayne did not seem to get excited. He made a "please, after you" gesture at Kieran and John, and let them continue to lead the way.
The cunning duke would never let his guard down or do anything reckless before he saw the treasure with his own eyes.
"Give me the lamp!" Kieran said.
One of the men handed him the lamp that had just been refilled with kerosene.
The light source in his hand allowed Kieran to clearly map the path before his eyes.
Although he had seen the map and other pictures before, and Guntherson had explained everything to him in detail, it was totally different from what he had imagined.
There was a flight of stone stairs covered in dried mud. Any stairs that were not covered in mud were coated in layers of thick dust.
This path was different from the previous one, which had been wet and filled with a foul stench. From there onwards, the path was dry and dusty, and the smell was much easier on the nose.
Looking at the stairs covered in dust, Duke Wayne laughed lightly. It was just as he had expected. Those two idiots, Swarko and Lushan, had not reached this place. Theyd gotten lost in the process.
There were a lot intersections and crossroads on the route they had taken. Without a guide that really knew the place, getting lost was more than just a possibility.
"Detective Kieran, please continue!" Duke Wayne asked.
"Watch your step!" Kieran reminded John as he helped him up the stairs. Then he moved his hand slightly and placed his finger on Johns palm.
He started to write something on it as they climbed up the stairs. Troot, who was right behind them, did not notice anything, and neither did Duke Wayne.
At the top of the stairs, there was a corridor less than twenty meters long, but long enough for Kieran to inform John of something important. John did not show any visible sign of getting the message, but then again he had to lay low.
The two of them led the group to the end of the corridor, where there was a big, square hall.
Right across the corridor there was a wall, and on the right and left side of the hall there were pillars supporting the structure and five small stairs leading down. Down the stairs was the wide central hall.
The floor was laid with square brick tiles and on top of the tiles there was some kind of carved pattern, covered by a thick layer of dust.
Everyone was looking at the wall on the other side, though.
Time had caused the color on the wall to fade, but everyone could still clearly see that there was a painting there.
The ring of a rising sun.
The emblem of the Church of Dawn!
Carved on the wall beside the emblem, were two rows of small words.
Guntherson had already explained the meaning of those words to Kieran, so he did not bother reading them. Duke Wayne, on the other hand seemed captivated by them, and so did John.
"This was the Council Hall of the Church of Dawn! So all this time, the treasure has been hidden here! Right under my nose!" Duke Wayne mumbled to himself as he looked at the words.
The secret that had been passed down for generations all around the city had led Duke Wayne right into Kieran and Gunthersons trap.
The Council Hall of the Church of Dawn before them was the real deal. It have been built 500 years ago by the last Son of God Pope recorded in the books. It was a known secret among the high ranks of the Church of Dawn, and by high ranks, one usually meant the Pope, the Saintess and the Chief Knight of Dawn.
Guntherson was not the Chief Knight of Dawn, but following the Church of Dawns demise, Sister Mony, who had been the last Saintess of Dawn, had not minded revealing the information to him.
Similarly, when Kieran had mentioned his plan of luring the suspects to an ambush point and taking them all out at the same time, Guntherson had thought of this place and told Kieran about it.
Kieran had been extremely overwhelmed by the suggestion. What place would be more fitting to hide the millennium treasure than the original Council Hall of the Church of Dawn?
Guntherson was not worried about desecrating the once sacred Council Hall. According to the Last Knight, all that was left there was a bunch of rocks that would eventually be buried in time. However, although Guntherson had agreed to the plan, his face had still looked very dark.
As for Sister Mony?
Since Guntherson had taken over as liaison, Sister Mony had started dedicating all her time to schoolwork and teaching, and would only occasionally join them for meals. To her, the school and her students were everything she had.
Plus, she trusted Guntherson fully. She knew for a fact that he was a trustworthy Knight that would carry out any task successfully.
Just like hed been told, as soon as hed set foot into the hall, Kieran spotted the marks Guntherson had made in the corner, signaling that everything was ready. All Kieran had to do was act.
Kieran scanned their surroundings carefully, noticing that the duke was captivated by the painting on the wall and the men of sacrifice were scattered around, protecting their master.
Troot the Giant was still tailing Kieran and John, though.
It seemed like he was Duke Waynes most trusted subordinate, Duke Wayne did not have to worry about any sudden moves from Kieran or John.
Just the size of the man said it all. Even John looked small in comparison to him, Kieran even more so.
Thats why Kieran kicked him hard on the side to startle him. Troot smiled viciously and threw himself at Kieran without bothering to dodge his kick.
From Troots perspective, such a weak kick could not have harmed him.
He shouldnt have underestimated Kieran, though.
Kieran kicked his shoulder swiftly with his left leg at an air-breaking speed. The heavy striking sound sounded like a hammer nailing down something.
Using the special effect [Hand-to-hand Combat, Master of Kicks], Kieran, who had already reached E Rank Strength, momentarily increased it to E+ Rank Strength.
E+ Rank Strength equaled a Weightlifting World Champion level, far exceeding the power of ordinary men. Although Troot was as tall as a giant and had lots of fighting experience, he was still a normal person, at best just slightly stronger than the ordinary John Doe.
As a strong kick landed on him, Troot felt a long stabbing pain, the impact making him wobble and almost fall down.
The second kick followed the first one closely, landing only mere fractions of a second later and aiming for Troots chest.
Troot had just tasted the power of Kierans kicks and he instinctively tried to evade the second one, only to realized it was a lot faster and more powerful than the first one.
It was the [Barsical Kick].
Kieran landed his second kick on Troots chest without holding back. Troot was already staggering after the first kick, so when the second kick landed, he was thrown to the ground, blood coming out of his mouth.
The [Hand-to-hand Combat, Master of Kicks] effect plus the [Barsical Kick] had bestowed Kieran with E+ Rank Strength and Agility, the skill triggering the second kick.
After Kieran had disposed of their only obstacle, he did not try to assault the others. He just grabbed John and run.
Duke Wayne was stunned. He had not expected his best man to fall.
"Fire!" he ordered the rest of his men right away.
All the revolvers were fired together, the smoke from the fire powder quickly filling the hall.
However, Duke Wayne could still spot them under the light of the kerosene lamp.
Before his men had fired, Kieran and John had already gotten out of harms way and headed towards the pillars inside the hall.
"Get rid of them!" Duke Wayne shouted.
The continuous mistakes of his men had made him angry. A source of light suddenly appeared behind him and he instinctively turned around. He saw a huge old man with a torch in his hand holding a box and standing by the entrance.
Beside the old man was a strange young man, who was looking at Kieran and Chief John anxiously.
"Guntherson! Youre still alive?"
Duke Wayne had noticed the old man and frowned. He knew all about the legend of the Last Knight of Dawn, but what was more intriguing to him was the box on Gunthersons shoulder.
"What is that?" Duke Wayne asked himself.
"How could I die when you scoundrels are still alive?" Guntherson said with a smirk before he moved the torch near the fuse attached to the box and lit it up. "Here, have your toys back!"
Guntherson threw the box as hard as he could, like a catapult launching a boulder strike. The box flew towards Duke Wayne like a rocket.
The men of sacrifice dashed to Duke Waynes side, using their bodies to block the incoming attack, but Duke Waynes expression had turned dark. He knew what was inside the box.
After all, he had provided Swarko and Lushan with a ton of homemade explosives.
If he still had not realized that Swarko and Lushan were long dead, the moment he fell into the trap, he knew that he had been an idiot.
Duke Wayne ran like mad towards one of the pillars. He knew taking cover was the only way he might be able to survive the blast. At the same time, he also shouted to his men to take cover. The men of sacrifice were his most precious pawns. It was not the time for them to die there.
It was already too late, though.
The huge explosion shook the underground hall hard. Troot and eleven men of sacrifice spilled their blood on the ground as they were blasted to pieces. They all perished in the flames of the explosion.
The hall shook even harder as the seconds went by, and a tremor began to snowball, making the hall start to collapse.
Kieran and John, who had been hiding behind the pillar with Duke Wayne, had survived the blast and began running towards the entrance like crazy.
"QUICK!" Guntherson shouted.
"Chief! Sir Kieran! Quickly!" the young man running alongside them urged them as well.
The five of them had not noticed that the wall opposite the entrance had began cracking, the cracks spreading through it like a spider web. As the tremor kept shaking the hall, the cracks only got wider and wider, until the wall exploded.
The entire painting was blown to bits, and countless gold came gushing out of the wall like a tsunami.