At my raised voice, all the conversations in the class disappeared… not to mention, everyone looked at me in an instant.
This is a lot of attention…
But I can’t be scared here.
I was nervous, but I had an experience receiving this much attention in the original world.
It was when I appeared on the big stage at a judo tournament.
There should be more of this in the future. How can you be so nervous just by the size of the class?! Get a grip!
After scolding myself, I took a deep breath.
“Everyone, thank you for the self-introductions last time. It took me a while, but I’ve finally read them all.”
For a moment, the classroom was noisy.
I could faintly hear “He really read it?” here and there, so it wasn’t a bad reaction.
“I understand how everyone feels. And so, I thought that I would like to know more about all of you… not just by sentence in the paper, but by words from the mouth. A direct conversation.”
I couldn’t continue from there. My voice was drowned out as the classroom roared with “Woooo!”.
Somehow it reminded me of an idol concert.
I tried to raise my voice again, but gave up when I saw the girls slowly coming, without stopping.
The other classmates, who were outside the classroom, wondered what happened and joined them. Thus, the classroom was in an uproar.
Let’s wait for them to calm down first.
When I looked around, I found Atsushi in the corner of the classroom.
My bad. Really.
Anyway, I brought this up for a reason.
Going out to the central station shortened the distance between me and my group members.
As the friendship deepened, it became possible to speak naturally in the classroom.
I was relieved to have someone I could talk to normally in high school. So, my opinion about this group system was a good one.
In the original world, there was a time when I went to a festival. There, I played the scooping fish game. When I tried to scoop the goldfish in the tank, I was fascinated by the goldfish swimming inside, and couldn’t use the scoop well.
At that time, my brother told me, “Don’t look at the whole tank.”
And that was the thought I had about this group system. It was to narrow down the boy’s focus so that he wouldn’t be lost.
However, this system also had its drawbacks. This was especially noticeable in this high school where there were only a few boys.
The girls outside the group had to keep their fingers in their mouths when a boy talked with his group members happily.
In long term, this would increase their stress level.
The more friendly I talked to the group members, the more I got along with them, and the more the frustration of the other girls piled up.
And that was not my intention.
Then what should I do? I just needed to make the opportunity to talk to them. That was the answer that came to my mind.
But, I realized something after I went out with my group to the central station.
If a boy created an opportunity to get to know them, they would take advantage of it. No matter what the reason.
However, as expected, doing so all at once could lead to a negative result.
And even I wouldn’t be able to handle a severe effect, and it might cause trouble for Atsushi, my only male friend.
So, I was thinking of taking the time and going step by step.
I had plenty of time after all. I was vaguely thinking that it would be nice if I could get to know everyone before the summer vacation.
However, given the current state of affairs, it wouldn’t be a problem to advance the plan a little. At least that was what I thought.
Because I felt that the longer that I put this matter off, the deeper the riff between my group members and the other girls.
Thus, I started the plan to deepen friendships with my classmates.
Specifically, from today onwards, I decided to talk with each group in the common room that the student could use. To be honest, this wasn’t my idea.
Personally, I thought it would be nice to have a few people talk in the classroom after school, but after a girl came to me and said, “How about doing by group?”, and before I answered, another girl said, “I’m going to reserve a common room”, before running out. Really fast.
It reminded me of a ninja I saw in a movie.
After that, a fierce rock-paper-scissors game was about to begin, so I intervened, saying “Let’s start from group 1” and calmed them down.
“Even if it’s by group, it’s not compulsory. I don’t want you to misunderstand that. If you have any urgent things to do on the day, or if you don’t want to talk to me, you don’t have to join.”
I told them so, but to be honest, I thought that even people with plans would cancel them and force themselves to join. Well, that would be their problem.
After school, I went to the reserved common room.
There were a few of them and anyone could use this place if they applied.
It was a plain room with only one table inside. Each person would need to take a folding chair. When they were done, they would need to clean it before returning the key.
In front of me, a group of five people was sitting side by side.
Why does it feel as if I’m gonna do a group interview?
“Hmm, can you sit more relaxed? Like, let’s form a circle.”
When I told them so, they sat down around the table. And I was made to sit in the birthday seat.
Guess it’s time to show my skill, “blowing the fire out in one breath”?…Anyway, who will be the first?
“…I’m the leader, Akemi Yoshimura. T-thank you fow…”
Hearing that, I thought that I should take the lead and make them relax. Actually, I was nervous too.
“Well… the reason I created this opportunity was that… I wanted to deepen my friendship with everyone as soon as possible.”
After much thought. I tried to speak as friendly as possible.
For some reason, I felt calmer when I knew that there were people who were more nervous than I was. I could even see their faces, even their eyes if I wanted to.
The five of them seemed very nervous, but from what I knew, they all lived in a Special Ward. So, it was quite unexpected.
“Since I went to an all-girls school up till now, I actually don’t have a lot of experience talking to boys…”
Yoshimura-san muttered embarrassedly.
…Right, not all girls living in the special ward can attend the co-ed school.
Elementary and middle schools decide the number of female students according to the number of male students enrolled, so those who fail are inevitably sent to all-girls schools.
“…Well. you can talk about anything freely… Even if I said so, I don’t think you know what to talk about, right…? Hmm… is there anything you find difficult? Life, studies, exercise, hobbies. It doesn’t matter even if it’s about a relationship, or if it’s just about clearing a game. If you have one, you can say it.”
Perhaps my suggestion was surprising, they all tilted their heads. But, one of them quickly raised her hand.
“So, do, you, mind, to explain, what this is, all about, right now.”
Kirishima said while glaring at Atsushi and Yuri with an expression as if possessed by a vengeful spirit. Her face was clearly sullen, or rather, her anger meter was broken through, to the point it didn’t show on her face.
Atsushi spoke plainly to her.
“Explanation? It is what it is.”
“Hah? Let me ask. If someone was sleeping, and that singing voice suddenly reverberate in their heads, what would happen? Honestly, they might die of shock…”
In a sense, that statement was, true.
Yuri’s sudden attack in the brain was directed at everyone inside the room, regardless of enemy or ally. Probably because she was in a state of anger that she couldn’t make fine adjustments such as, whom she should attack. In short, it was what they called “friendly fire”.
“Hmm, calm down, don’t get so angry. I mean, I understand your feeling, like really. But, it’s because of her that we’re saved from these people.”
While saying that, Atsushi pointed at the masked people who were tied up.
Yuri’s “brain recital” was as powerful as ever, knocking out all of them within a few seconds.
……Well, from the point of view of Kirishima, who was forced to listen while she was sound asleep, it was brutal. So, it couldn’t be helped that she wanted to let out her anger.
“Still… I mean, how can you be so calm after hearing that?”
“Calm? Not really. My vision was shaky until just now, and I honestly felt nauseous. I’m still dizzy even now. But, that’s all. There’s no other dangerous problem.”
“Seriously? You’ve got no problem?”
Rather, the fact that Atsushi still remained conscious, also his strong mental strength made Kirishima both surprised and dumbfounded.
After Atsushi’s dizziness was completely gone, he realized something.
Come to think of it, this is the first time I’ve heard Shirasawa’s singing.
Until today, Atsushi had been helped in many ways by Yuri’s brain recital, but he didn’t really know its power. And with this experience, he was able to affirm how dangerous Yuri’s attacks were.
“So? Why is the brave person who defeated them holding her knees in the corner of the room?”
“Ah, where to start huh… the shock of having her precious game device destroyed, and the guilt of getting us involved in her attack, are mixed together, and thus, she’s in that state.”
“I see… well, at the very least, she’s reflecting on it…”
Reflecting… wasn’t exactly the right word. Right now, Yuri seemed to have lost her soul rather than reflecting on her action.
After all, what Yuri sent with her telepathy to Atsushi was only
An eerie laugh. And Atsushi fully understood that no matter what he said to her, would be meaningless for now.
“Well, let’s leave her alone for now. And shall we get to the real problem?”
“Right. Let’s hear what they have to say.”
While saying that, the two turned their gazes to the masked people.
“….. You think, we’ll just give you information?”
“Yes, of course. Listen, even though I look like this, I’m good at making people open their mouths you know. And luckily, I’ve brought along various tools just in case. Also, I just made a new drug recently. What a good timing to experiment with that, ufufufu.”
The fearless smile on Kirishima’s face reminded Atsushi, that she was a little crazy in her head.
“Oi, what did you just say? New drug? Don’t overdo it. what if something unexpected happens? Also, I report this to the Chairman.”
“…Hey you. Can’t you read the atmosphere? Why do you want to do it peacefully in this situation? Or rather, do you think you can do something about me if you tell the Chairman? I admit that I can’t stand against him in many ways, but that doesn’t mean I can’t go against him at all, you know?”
“Alright, I gotcha. Time to email him, “Kirishima made some new strange drug again, so please give her a sermon.”……”
“Stop. His sermon is long and tedious. Really, don’t do it. Stop.”
It was hard to believe that such a word came from someone who just threatened other. Although Kirishima tried to be strong, deep down, she knew that she would have a hard time dealing Hiiragi and that she wouldn’t want that to happen.
One of the masked people opened his mouth.
“Hah, as expected, she’s the daughter of that mad founder. Did she inherit her father’s method of making people talk?”
“… inherited from, my father?”
Kirishima approached the man who said that and removed the mask.
And, the moment she saw his face, she was convinced of something.
“……I see. It was you guys after all.”
“Do you know him?”
“Yes… Well, in short, he’s a family of a “Father’s Lake” believer… surely the others too.”
Indifferently, Kirishima muttered such a thing while narrowing her eyes.
TN : In Japan, from 29 April to 3 – 6 May (depending on the year), are national holidays, since it usually lasts about 1 week, it’s known as “Golden Week”
44. A visitor in the next Golden Week
Mom came home at night. As always.
I understood that she had a difficult job, but I would like her to come back a little earlier for her health.
“Aki-chan, Take-chan, could you both spare me time?”
Unusually, Mom called me.
Usually, unless there was something very special, we communicated with each other through messages.
This was because it took less time and putting words in messages was easier for both. So, it had been a long time since Mom called me like this.
“What is it, Mom?”
“It’s about the next GW. I got a message from your Grandma, that she would come over here.”
As I searched the memory, one person came to mind. In short, Grandma was an old lady with a pretty wild vibe.
“Oh, how rare. I wonder how long since I last saw her…”
“I’m sure it’s been five years. The last time she came was when Take-chan was ten years old.”
Mom and Sis were having fun.
On the other hand, I forcibly corrected my frowning face into a smile.
“Take-chan, you don’t have to be so cautious.”
Mom noticed my forced smile and said so.
Anyway, that wasn’t what bugged me.
What a wild person…
The image of Grandma in my memory was unlike any other woman I had seen in this world.
It seemed that I actually had met her in person when I was ten years old. And her appearance was firmly imprinted in my memory.
Then, Mom showed me some pictures of Grandma.
“Grandma… by any chance, is she doing a long-distance delivery?”
A tanned face with a gigantic truck in the background. The truck behind was the so-called “Decoration Truck”. [TN: Also called, “Dekotora”]
“That’s right. It looks like there will be a delivery nearby. Besides, the company is closed in Golden Week, so it looks like there won’t be any plans for a while. That’s why she contacted me saying that she would stop by. Well, it’s Golden Week after all.”
Mom said so carefreely.
This… what an ordeal…
I held my chest.
Memory… after all, could be said as a tricky thing.
This body had been planted with a sense of dislike towards Grandma, and naturally, my breathing became shallow and my heart beat faster.
Grandma, called “Satoko Souya”, lived in a rural area in Nagano Prefecture, and her job was truck driver, transporting goods all over Japan.
Mom started living in Special Ward Tokyo not long after she gave birth to me.
In short, only Sis had some memories of living in Nagano.
When a male baby was born, there would be a high risk of kidnapping. And if the child got taken abroad, it would be hard to track.
Therefore, the best option was to do everything to live in a Special Ward as soon as possible.
Also, rumors about the birth of a boy spread quickly in rural areas, so it would be hard to raise him secretly.
For safety reasons, I had never visited Grandma’s house in Nagano.
Sis went to visit there a few times during the summer vacation of elementary school, but I had always stayed at home during any holiday. Well, considering the rarity of boys, it just couldn’t be helped.
Then Mom brought her younger sister, Minayo Souya, to live together after she established a footing in the Special Ward Tokyo.
Since they would live together, it seemed that Mom and Aunt Minayo shared the rent of this house.
Yes, this mansion was still a rented house. This family would fall apart after I became an adult after all. There was no point in buying a house.
That aside, I was thinking about what to do…
“Mom, Take-kun is frightened… as expected.”
“I wonder if it’s a trauma from the last time.”
The owner of this body had an introverted personality. Even if this body had no problem with the motor nerves, it had no exercise experience.
On the other hand, Grandma was the type that put her hands before her mouth. Even her legs would move faster than her mouth. In short, the personalities just didn’t match.
Grandma began to train her ten-year-old grandson saying that it was a parent’s duty to make her child presentable in public.
So, while Grandma was training her grandson, the real “Taketo Souya”, while saying “This level should be easy for you”, he thought that “Hell is better than this!”, and thus it became a trauma.
According to my memory, even though Mom understood the situation, she didn’t say anything.
Did Mom do it on purpose?
Anyway, I was trying to come up with some excuses for now.
“Ah! That’s right! I’ve plans to go out with my friends for GW!”
“When Grandma arrives, let’s all go out somewhere together.”
Mom saw through my lies.
The next day, when I arrived at school, Toono-san and Hashigami-san were already in class.
Since there was still time, I stood by the window. As expected, both of them naturally came to my left and right.
Maybe the date last time was the reason, but in the past few days, their guard had also been refined.
“Souya-kun, have you done the homework?”
“The math…? Well, yeah, but I’m not all.”
I left the difficult question without an answer. So, I couldn’t say that I did all.
“Would you like me to show you mine?”
Hashigami-san suggested that, but I shook my head.
“No. Showing more than what your real ability is to the teacher, will only make your life difficult.”
I mean, I don’t want to be expected to be good at studying…
“Is that so? Anyway, if there’s anything you don’t understand, I don’t mind teaching you.”
“Thank you. I’ll be in your care when such a crisis comes.”
Yep, I’m glad that we went out together.
I can feel that we’re getting along pretty well since then.
“By the way, you can ask me too.”
I didn’t mean to be rude but Toono-san, who looked like a gyaru, was surprisingly good at studying.
“Then, what about studying together next time?”
“Good idea. Whose place will it be?”
When the two were excited, I heard something.
“…… What? Have a problem?”
Said Toono-san while raising her eyebrows.
Recently, even though the distance between me and the members of the group had narrowed, the atmosphere between them and the other girls in the class wasn’t good.
Especially the eyes of girls who came from Special Ward were painfully sharp. And Toono-san sensed it sensitively.
Well, I understood Toono-san’s feelings. Even if they didn’t say it was malicious, but the gaze was directed at her with negative emotions.
“Yeah, I know.”
Everyone in the class knew that we got along so well that we joked with each other.
Raising that many negative emotions at this time of year, wasn’t my intention.
In particular, I didn’t mean to create a rift between students living in the Special Ward and students living outside the Special Ward.
Well, I understood that some distance might be created, but for it to be this big already and happened at a fast pace, was unexpected.
I thought it would be better to do it after I get used to school a little more but, seems like it’s better to advance the plan…
126. Charging is needed almost everywhere in a modern society
『”Atsushi-san. It’s unbelievable but I can’t sleep, so let’s talk for a while.”』
『”Seriously… I thought you said you just said you were going to sleep? Did I mishear it?”』
It was midnight. The lights in the room were off and only pitch black in the field of vision.
So, getting telepathy from Yuri, Atsushi was surprised but replied back.
Sure enough, he didn’t speak out loud. After all, he didn’t want to disturb Kirishima.
『”…So? What do you want to talk?”』
『”About this case. What do you think of it, Atsushi-san?“』
『“What do I think huh… well, how should I put it, I think it’s full incomprehensible things…”』
『”I agree. After listening to Atsushi-san’s story, I can’t help but feel that it’s full of loopholes. I mean, in the first place, if you’re going to set something up, there’s no need to call your target to a place like this. The same goes for blowing up a trash can and injuring the Chairman. Regardless of how you wanted to do this, if you could do so precisely like that, shouldn’t it be better to lure your target to a better place?”』
What Yuri said wasn’t wrong.
Atsushi himself still didn’t understand the meaning of bringing him and Kirishima here. If the culprit had something to do with them, why were they brought here? Would be there a special reason for using such a place?
A secluded place like this? In that case, why not called them to some ruin somewhere?
That meant, there should be a reason why they were brought here. But then, why didn’t the culprit do anything right away?
Many things that Atsushi couldn’t make sense of. After all, he only had a little information. Perhaps too little.
『”So, about this situation that we’re in now, what do you think?”』
『”I don’t understand!”』
『”You… but, yeah, of course right…”』
Well, no one knew the answer to this situation.
『“Ah, but, I think it’s certain that Kirishima-san is involved in this.”』
『”Yeah, yeah. Also, I might have something to do with this too. Otherwise, I don’t understand the point of asking me to come here with her. Besides, I’m curious about those words that were in the game.”』
The word “Father’s Lake” was in the VR game. It couldn’t be just a coincidence, at least, Atsushi was sure it had something to do with this case.
『”When I heard that ‘Father Lake’ might be involved, I thought that the remnants of the believer came to take revenge on Kirishima or me, but… it still doesn’t make sense to me, for luring us here…”』
『”What do you mean?”』
『”If they were aiming for Kirishima to take revenge on the founder who deceived them, why they would want me to come along? On the other hand, if they still believe the founder and have a grudge against my parents who crushed their religious organization and so set their sights on me, they don’t need to call Kirishima.”』
『”Aーh, that’s true”』
As Atsushi said, it would have been easier to guess the reason if only one of them was asked to come here. Asking them both, only complicated things after all.
『“Well, it can’t be helped. Rather, it’s better to be positive. Physics, ghosts, whatever you are, bring it on!! Let’s take it easy like that.”』
『”Stop. Stop raising a bad flag, can’t you? No matter how, that phrase sounds very dangerous.”』
Atsushi commented on Yuri’s explosive remarks, even though he himself made some incomprehensible remarks.
『”Ah, hear me, I just thought about one thing… isn’t this the pattern of when the target lets their guard down and you would catch them? That’s what the situation we’re in right now, right…?”』
『”Oi, oi, oi, stop it. Don’t raise the flag even higher. But wait… you might be right.”』
The next moment after Atsushi responded.
The door of the room suddenly opened, and countless figures entered the room.
Atsushi jumped out of the futon involuntarily and stood there.
Looked around in the dark with vigilance. Fortunately, thanks to the moonlight illuminating the room, he was able to catch the other person’s appearance in his field of vision.
Several people wearing black clothes and masks, huh…?
Atsushi couldn’t tell the gender because of the mask, but considering the posture, probably all of them were male.
Having a general grasp of the surrounding situation, Atsushi then said a few words to Yuri for the time being.
『”… Oi, look, it’s because you didn’t stop saying things like that. What should we do now?”』
『”Eh!? It’s my fault!? I mean, it’s true that I might have raised a flag, but I don’t think anyone would really expect to collect it with such haste!!”』
Yuri insisted on her innocence with all her might.
But, that aside, Atsushi opened his mouth and threw a question to the shadow.
“…Oi, who are you?”
“I have no obligation to answer. Be a good child and follow us.”
“Do you think I’ll just say, “yes”?”
“Don’t you think it’s better for you to do that?”
“Well? I wonder…”
“I see…… then it can’t be helped.”
After saying that, the masked men slowly started walking toward the three.
Just a few steps, and there was the sound of something breaking.
Involuntarily, Atsushi let out a voice.
It was the sound of one of the masked people stepping on “something”.
That “something” was the game device that Yuri brought. Yuri put it in on charge before going into the futon. And it was left on the floor instead of in the bag.
Naturally, Yuri, who was awake, witnessed the cruel spectacle without a blink.
Speechless. Yuri was frozen on the spot, feeling as if her soul just left her body.
But, as if to tell that the soul went back to the body in a rush, telepathy was sent to Atsushi.
A dark, dull glossy door was pressed by Walm’s palm. At the same moment, the coldness peculiar to metal was pleasantly transmitted to the hot fingertips. Moving his feet, which were hot due to non-stop movement, Walm entered the familiar safe room.
After leaving the golem and gargoyle exhibition floors behind, not that he even wanted to see them in the first place, Walm finally reached the safe room on the 25th floor. The journey from the 21st to the 25th floor was anything but smooth. Although he still had reserves of strength, he was forced to lift the restriction he imposed on himself of not using any skills or magic, which he had done well up to the 20th floor in this dive.
With a listless look, Walm gazed around the room. The parties that were resting in the safe room were incomparably fewer than before, as befits a floor called the breaking point of the mid-rank. Including Walm, there were only four parties. Adding in the people he passed along the way, and those resting on the ground, the total number would surely jump, but even then, there was a sort of dividing line, a boundary between the mid-rank and high-rank, in the safe room.
Three days had passed since he dived into the labyrinth. Despite Walm regaining his sharp senses, fatigue couldn’t be stopped from accumulating. So he distanced himself from the temporary occupants, and slumped on the cold ground. His stomach screamed with hungry, while his half-open eyelids protested for abandoning his screaming stomach.
Walm weighed the problems, trying to figure out which of them should be prioritized. It was him exaggerating the problems, but really, the content was silly. After all, the only difference in solving it was either to eat after sleeping or to sleep after eating.
Walm was forced to make a decision alone, but his train of thought was forced to stop due to the approach of an outsider. Using his knees for support, he stood up quietly. Before entering the safe room, he put the new lover, the mace that had completed the hard work, into the magic bag, and the old lover, the halberd, was once again in Walm’s hands.
Letting the halberd touch the ground to assert itself, Walm kept his eyes on the visitors without opening his mouth. The approaching adventurer didn’t stop. The development of muscles and bones cultivated through actual battles could be seen even above the equipment. Without looking at the face and paying attention only to the demeanor, the adventurer was probably about in his twenties. Of course, the deeply carved wrinkles and gray hair and beard spoke eloquently of his age.
The equipment was well polished, but countless fine scratches were visible, even if that wasn’t intentional. From the degree of rubbing on the joints, the history of battles, especially the length of experience diving the labyrinth, was conveyed. His arm was naturally placed far from the sword at his waist, tacitly indicating no hostility.
“You really are diving alone, huh? Even an average party that can reach here may get swallowed up by the labyrinth if they ever mess up.”
Flattery first. Not a bad choice to begin a conversation, but Walm couldn’t remember the adventurer’s face. And unfortunately, the sleep-deprived Walm didn’t have enough patience to engage in useless probing.
“Have we met somewhere before?”
“Ah, how rude of me. It’s the first time we’ve met. Recently, there’s a man who keeps diving the labyrinth alone, which is rare, and it’s become a hot topic in the tavern. This rumor crossed my mind when I saw you. And, I couldn’t help myself from giving my greeting.”
“Adventurers sure love rumors.”
“Well, it’s an unreliable business after all. Interacting and exchanging information is essential for adventurers. It can’t be helped, you know.”
Walm sensed that he was being treated with great caution, but at the same time, he also felt that the adventurer was more sincere than other adventurers who only looked at him from a distance.
The adventurer’s way of speaking was soft, perhaps because of his age. In any case, it made Walm reluctant to drive the adventurer away in a rude way, and decided to do it carefully.
“As you can see, no good information will come out of me.”
“How cold. Well, it may not be worth anything, but I’m rooting for you. I mean, as a labyrinth explorer, I want to see how far you can dive alone.”
The middle-aged man who sensed the intention of Walm’s words, obediently beat a retreat. Even if he was an adventurer, Walm wouldn’t simply hate him, as long as he was a good person.
“I’m not a big deal, not worthy enough to receive such words, but… well, thank you. I pray for your endeavor too.”
Walm, finished with his formalities, saw off the man who was about to leave, but the man suddenly stopped.
The adventurer turned back around and made a face as if he had forgotten something, he said,
“Oh, right. I forgot to ask you your name. Let me give mine first, my name is Fausto.”
“Walm, is it? Although my memory has been getting worse with age, I’ll do my best to remember your name. Hopefully, we’ll meet again in the labyrinth.”
Looked satisfied this time, Faust retreated to his companions. Only he approached Walm, the other four of his parties only watched from a distance. How considerate of them.
It was an unexpected event before the break, but Walm didn’t feel uncomfortable. Resting his back against the wall, he began to enjoy the coldness of the ground again. The demon mask on his waist vibrated slightly. The meaning of the vibration wasn’t alerting Walm. Apparently, the mask had taken a liking to the middle-aged adventurer.
“Seriously… Do you tremble at anyone you like?”
As Walm jokingly scolded the flirtatious mask, it began to vibrate at high speed in anger. His lower back itched as if a cicada had just crawled out of the ground and clung to his waist.
“I’m just joking. Stop it. My bad. Sorry.”
After repeated apologies, the demon mask’s anger finally subsided. Although the event happened inside the cloak, if the exchange was witnessed, surely, Walm would look like someone who had challenged the labyrinth for too long, so that he was suffering from a mental disorder.
With a small smile on his face, Walm decided to surrender to his fatigue. After all, what he could eat now were only cold black bread and dried meat. Something that the taste wouldn’t change even after some time had passed.
Walm’s magic bag had only the capacity of one and a half to two large backpacks and that sometimes troubled him. What a luxurious problem.
In addition to the necessary supplies and goods that had accumulated since the Highserk era, the consumables and food in the labyrinth took up more than half of the space. If the things collected in the labyrinth were added to it, even after subtracting the consumables, it would be hard to say that the remaining capacity would be enough.
Therefore, Walm decided to return to the surface to replenish the consumables and sell the goods from the labyrinth.
After jumping into the black hole in the transfer room, Walm went to the room that was on the way to the waiting area. It was a cleaning room where orc meat was usually processed. After washing the goods of dirt, he entered the waiting area.
Perhaps because he had dived all the way to the breaking point of the mid-rank, the crowd felt really lively. Apart from that, Walm went to the reception, as usual, avoiding the people as much as he could.
“Welcome back. You’ve been diving for a long time this time. How deep did you dive?”
Lisi, who was going about her daily duties at the reception, interrupted her work to greet Walm.
Walm returned the tally he had taken out, and replied,
“That’s, indeed quite deep. Then, next is the 26th floor. On this floor, only monsters that are difficult to attack with slashing and slamming attacks will appear. Walm-san, can you use magic?”
Fortunately, Walm possessed a high affinity for two attributes, fire and wind, and in many battles, it had proven to be effective.
“I can use wind and fire magic”
“With these two types of attacks, it can’t be said that there’s a lack of countermeasures. If you can’t use any, I would’ve done my best to stop you from going deeper on your own. But, it seems, you can still go alone.”
Lisi said this with a face that said, “Even if I tell you to stop, you won’t listen.”. That might be the case, but it wasn’t enough to completely stop Lisi from giving Walm advice to increase his survival rate.
After hearing some information from Lisi about the next floor, Walm said honestly,
“I’m sorry. Seems I’ve increased your work again.”
“Well, it’s the first time that someone from this ordinary reception has been able to dive to the 25th floor alone. As long as when it’s in my working time, I’ll do my best to support such a person. Well, to be honest, I hope you’ll register as an adventurer in the guild. In this case, you’ll contribute to the evaluation of the guild and also to me too. This is the most desirable scenario, but I can’t force it on you.”
Lisi jokingly muttered such displeasure.
Grateful and embarrassed at the same time, Walm’s thoughts wandered and found the existence of the bracelet he’d picked up in the labyrinth.
“I can’t give such a contribution, but last time, you said you wanted a tribute, right?”
Walm fumbled around in his waist bag and took out a silver bracelet.
“Tribute? Can’t you say it bette… umm, what’s that?”
“I got it from the labyrinth. Even though the design is the crimson grass flower that only blooms in the labyrinth, it’s too cute to be worn by a man. Even if I sell it, I’m sure it’ll only be worth a few silver coins. I’d be happy if Lisi, who’s taken care of me on more than a few occasions, received it.”
Walm quietly placed the bracelet on the reception table and motioned for Lisi to take it.
Lisi, who was holding her head in confusion, quickly changed her expression and uttered,
“Fufu, fu, I’ve never thought that the first person to actually bring me a tribute would be Walm-san….. even if you give me a tribute, I can only support you from here when I’m working, you know?”
“I know, but that’s fine. That alone helps me enough.”
“If that’s the case, I’ll gladly receive it. Even if you ask me to return it later, I won’t give it back, okay?”
“I’ll try my best not to.”
Lisi grabbed the bracelet and lowered her gaze to it, stroking it before putting it away.
With that, one task was completed. Deftly, Walm left the reception. It wasn’t a bar counter after all. Lingering here for long wouldn’t only get in the other people’s way but also disturb their business. In the worst case, being labeled as a person under surveillance after getting kicked out would be the result… That wouldn’t be funny. Really, it wouldn’t.
The next task for today would be to visit an equipment shop. Walm must use the earned coins to buy the necessary items to challenge the 26th floor, which was known for being a mid-rank killer.
After crossing the stone-paved passage, the bright sky gave its warm greeting. Walm narrowed his eyes at the glare. As he was embraced by the hot sun, he remembered that the last time he was on the surface, it was the twin moons that hugged him goodbye.
“Seems, my body has got too used to the labyrinth.”
Somehow, Walm could sympathize with the mole that had crawled out of the dark earth. Like them, surely all the people who returned from the labyrinth during the day had to frown because of the difference in light intensity. Of course, this was no exception for Walm.
After hearing the story of the Goddess, I was convinced.
That, after all, there were fights over men in the past.
Well, it was something in the past. Stealing from someone else might be common at that time.
But as expected, if the male fertility rate were to drop sharply, any communities would easily be wiped out if they kept that way of life.
So… what about these modern times?
Suppose someone writes on SNS, “It seems that more men will not be born.”
Gradually, various speculations will fly around, and there’ll always be those who say, “The country won’t do anything.”
And usually, their voices are the ones that get louder. Then, their words would change like, “I can’t let these guys run the country.”
If that happens, men may get treated like trophies again.
Women with extreme desires may rush to get, or even kidnap men with all their might, saying, “Why do I need to follow what the country says? F*ck them.”
In short, the presence of men can be a factor in regime change.
What should you do to prevent it? Easy. That’s, to educate the people so that they do not, and wouldn’t think like that.
By tightening the punishment for doing something to a man.
By not letting your desires show and forcing yourself to hold them up.
They were taught to restrain themselves in many aspects.
Parents must have educated their children like that for decades.
Without realizing that it has distorted the society…
『”Well, the women can vent their desires, albeit moderately.”』
…Visiting the special ward is free, and MSA (Male Service Activity) is also being implemented as a national policy. They definitely can vent some of their desires, to some extent…
Only I, who came from another world, feel that there’s something strange with this society. Most of them must have thought of the current society as the correct one…
“There are few men, so it can’t be helped huh…?”
『”I think that’s the identity of the discomfort you are feeling.”』
“…. I see. I guess, I can somehow understand it now.”
The unreasonably severe measures that they get if they do something bad to man, might be to protect their own power structure rather than to protect the man…
I looked up at the sky.
So, what should I do…?
The light radiating from the sun felt so dazzling to my eyes.
On the way home, I happened to see Moe-chan, so we walked side by side to home.
“How is it? Do you have a problem with your study?”
I chose a non-intrusive conversation.
Or rather, that was all that came to my mind.
Really, not having a common topic was really painful.
“It’s a little… hard.”
To my surprise, I got such an answer.
I thought she would answer that she was fine.
“Is that so? Shall I teach you?”
As expected, even I should be able to understand elementary school studies… I should be… right?
I got no reply from Moe-chan.
Rather than giving me a hating look, it seemed to me that she was refraining, as if she was having trouble choosing what to say.
“Well, it’s important to try doing it yourself, but when you’re having trouble in understanding something, it’s better to ask someone. You may discover something new that’ll help you.”
I might have talked like I was someone great, but I didn’t say something wrong. I just stated facts based on my experiences.
My life had always been full of things I didn’t understand, so I kept asking people.
On the contrary, when I tried to interpret it myself, in most cases, it led to a bad result. After all, humans had their own good points.
Some people might be good at moving their bodies, and some might be good at using their heads.
“Yes… T-then, may I ask your help?”
I thought that it would be nice if we could have a little common topic with this, but I was───
“Taketo Onii-chan, you don’t have to force yourself.”
“Yeah, you’re right. This is so frustrating…”
Why I couldn’t understand the content of elementary school students?
Elementary school students these days are so difficult huh… I mean───
“──what is “Area Diagram”?”
“It’s to explain a calculation of something in a way of calculating an area of square or rectangle, or similar. In this case, it’s better to use a square. The height is the number of people, and the width is the price of things. Then, the area is the total amount of things you bought.”
What’s this? Is this important?
Also, it’s me who is supposed to teach her. Why am I the one being taught by Moe-chan, an elementary school student?
Ugh… my dignity… f*ck it, let’s ask Sis.
“Wait here, I’ll go to Sis’ room.”
After saying that, I went to my sister’s room with the prints.
“Take-kun? Is this… Moe-chan’s?”
“Yes. I just don’t understand it very well.”
“Hm? Sis, do you not understand it either?”
“No, I understand. But, that’s not the problem. This, is what you are supposed to learn at the co-ed school.”
“… I don’t think I’ve learned it though?”
“I mean, when you are a student in a girls’ elementary school and want to go co-ed middle school, you must take a POS (Proficiency of Skill) test. And from what I’ve heard, something like this will come out in that test.”
“Wait, Moe-chan is attending a girls’ elementary school right now, right?”
“Yeah, normally she should go straight to a girls’ middle school, and shouldn’t have to study for something that may come out in a POS test.”
“Then, is she perhaps aiming for co-ed middle school?”
“No matter how much she tries, it’ll be still hard, way too hard for her to get in. I was able to go to the same co-ed elementary school as you, because Take-kun was there. Generally, they’ll decide based on the child’s background, such as the parent’s job. Anyway, once you enrolled in a girls’ elementary school, mostly you would continue to girls’ middle school.”
In another way, according to Sis, even if a girl enrolled in a co-ed elementary school, it didn’t mean that the girl would continue to a co-ed middle school.
Because the middle school had a higher standard in selecting the girls than the elementary school.
Up to now, very few cases of girls’ elementary school students were able to get into a co-ed middle school.
“If there is a reason for you to continue in a co-ed middle school, it’s because your parent’s work and the surrounding circumstances have changed a lot.”
“What do you mean?”
“The parent got promoted, or gave birth to a boy, or something like that. Only such a great reason that will make it possible.”
“Mmm, I see. Then, perhaps, Minayo-san will soon get promoted?”
“I wonder if that’s true… Even if that’s the case, is it a great promotion? That’s enough to make her daughter be sent to a co-ed middle school? I mean, in this day and age, will that even happen?”
It must be quite difficult for girls to get into a co-ed middle school. If not, why did she need to start making such preparations at this time of this year? Is there any other reason…?
“Well, that aside, can you teach me this?”
“Okay, first, you draw a rectangle……”
The way Sis taught me… to be honest. It was hard to understand.
In the end, while teaching Moe-chan, I asked Yuuko to teach me.
The evening after finishing Moe-chan’s homework. To express my gratitude, I called Yuuko.
Then, I asked about acceleration, which I didn’t understand in today’s class.
『”Acceleration, is it? First of all, it is difficult to think of it in the same way as Velocity… Trying to make sense of it, you need to understand differential… Ah, that’s right. Think about the relationship between instantaneous velocity and the force applied to it……”』
Even though the ESY (Extremely Smart Yuuko) did her best in breaking down the difficult explanation so that I could understand it, I was still having a hard time understanding it.
『’……now you’re more interested in why that’s the case, right? Well, I think it’s more important than memorizing formulas. But, you’ll trouble yourself, if you think about the meaning of every single thing during the test, so I think it’s better to separate your mind in trying to understand it and trying to solve it as schoolwork.”』
“If I do that, I’ll be fine… right?”
The problem is, I’ve always had trouble separating something with a mindset of “this is this, that is that”, my mind always tried to make sense of everything…
『”Hmm… if you’re okay with it, I can teach you as much as you want. Just that it’s impossible during class.”』
I mean, I can’t just rely on you every time I got stuck in studying, especially when I’m in class, right?
“Well, in that case, I’ve to do it myself….. Ah, come to think of it, I’m having a problem dividing fractions. How should I think about that?”
『”Dividing fractions… First, the meaning of division is how many parts of the number you divide by. I wonder if drawing a tape diagram will help you understand it better. Actually, It’ll be better to make you understand the concept of integers first, but the idea of the tape diagram isn’t that difficult.”』
“Hmmm, is that so…?”
When I asked about 2÷1/3 as an example, I was sent a picture of a long rectangle divided into six equal parts.
In each block, it was written 1/3.
Hmmm. Right. I can’t use this in every calculation. It’ll be taking too much time…
“I see… I’ll take classes while trying to not get stuck in strange places for too long as much as I can.”
That should be better for my mental stability, right?
『”Well, if there’s anything you don’t understand, you can always ask me.”』
“Thank you. I’ll try to do it myself first, but if that still won’t do, then I’ll be your care. Again, thank you for today. See you. Bye.”
Saying so, I hung up the phone.
Then, I tried to draw a tape diagram of 1/2 ÷ 1/3 by myself, but I couldn’t do it well.
Walm was modestly engaged in slaughtering monsters with his halberd, only up to the 20th floor. From the 21st floor, his fighting style clearly changed significantly. The wall was scorched by the flames, which manifested by mana, and the remains, called the claw marks of agony, could be seen on the floor. The halberd, which could be called an extension of the hand, was pushed into the now had been reduced in the capacity magic bag.
If it was like the monster up to now, the blade would have scattered pieces of flesh into the surroundings like a slaughterhouse, and the fresh blood that spurted out would have stained the wall artistically. Now there were only rocks and sand remained. That, of course, should be the case. The monsters that Walm dealt with had no flesh and blood. They were monsters that in some cases, would be created by humans to serve as walking shields on the battlefield. Golem, that was the name. It was a strong monster with a core, a magic stone that was present in its body and could store natural mana. On the battlefield, its uses were very diverse, depending on the types.
“Really? I’m too old to play with sand you know…”
The type of golem Walm faced was extremely simple. It had no armor on its back and was thick only on its front and arms. On a battlefield, such a weak golem would either be bypassed or destroyed by attacking its weak point. This time, however, the dance floor was a confined space in a labyrinth. A place where a golem could show off its dance moves.
If three friendly golems approached in a row when in a passage, it was equivalent to facing a moving wall. Sure Walm could 《Strike》 to cut off a thick strong arm, but a half-hearted offense would only lead to a painful counterattack. After all, the Golem, which put resources only for its front armor, was light despite its large size. The healthy Walm wouldn’t like to be beaten by thorny arms, nor that he liked to be hugged and rubbed down by them either.
In this case, retreat would be the only option, but at that moment Walm, who was in a passageway, had already been surrounded once from the front and back with walls of golems and was about to be trapped. So far he had dived more than 20 floors without using magic, but he concluded that it was a good time to use it.
Walm shot a fireball at the row of golems in front of him, their shoulders scraping each other as well as the inner wall but didn’t stop walking.
The fireball, accompanied by writhing heat, shook the air as it struck the target, the golem in the center, demonstrating the power of the mana it contained. Flames danced from the passage from which there was no escape, and hot air and flames raged there. Fortunately, for Walm, who had an excellent aptitude for fire attribute, a flame of this magnitude was no different than a light summer breeze.
The head of the golem that received a direct hit scattered, losing the core magic stone. Like a building that had lost its pillars, the collapse spread down throughout the body.
Walm expected the aftermath to spread to the left and right golems, only to realize that it was nothing but a dream. Some parts were scorched with flames sticking to them, but they didn’t seem to lose any of their functionality and kept moving without extinguishing it first.
On the contrary, the golem crossed its arms to protect its head while closing the distance. At this point, Walm had given up on destroying the head together with the thick arm. He fired his next pitch at the giant leg stomping on the floor. Although the golem had legs like pillars that support its giant body, not all joints were covered with a thick layer of sand.
The fireball that hit near the heel fully demonstrated its effectiveness. Like an exploding landmine, one of the golem’s legs was enveloped in a fierce flame.
Leaning forward, the golem dug its claws into the wall, trying to resist the fall. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a definitive solution. After all, it had been ripped apart from its knees down. That much wouldn’t be enough to support its weight.
If they were human, others would probably try to protect a comrade with such injuries or even retreat, but unfortunately, they were nothing more than artificial monsters who only accepted simple orders.
The golem which was in a state of madness, couldn’t keep up with its comrade and was left behind. This time, Walm opted for a physical solution to deal with it. As expected, he wasn’t crazy enough to have a wrestling match with an opponent who weighed more than him.
Gripping hard the handle of the mace, its weight was conveyed. Walm began to run while pulling it to the back. Unlike the halberd, it was a weapon with a short range of one or two steps. So, he needed to close the distance.
In order to catch Walm, the fingers that were clenched were opened. Other than the claws, he could be scratched by the thorns on its arm. And if it took full advantage of its physical strength, Walm might become ground meat instead of chopped meat.
Rapidly tilted the stance without hesitating and kicked off the ground. While going around to the left side, Walm handled the protruding arm, an unprotected right arm stretched out toward him.
As expected, ‘there weren’t many people who couldn’t cut the Sahuagin on the cutting board’.
Walm 《Strike》the elbow with the mace. In addition to being clad in mana, the mace was good for striking. Really, a suitable combination to destroy the elbow.
“Better stop resisting”
The golem didn’t listen to Walm’s advice and swung its broken right arm around as if to ward off bugs. The cracked and shattered elbow couldn’t keep up with that sudden extreme movement, and the arm shot far into the ceiling as if it was released by a jet propeller. If this flew towards Walm, he would have been stunned. Fortunately, the pathetic arm only wanted to leave a brand-new scratch on the ceiling.
Holding a mace, Walm wrapped around the golem’s torso and hit its right knee from the side. It tried to support itself with its right arm, only to stretch out nothing. The golem, which had reached the limit of its posture control, fell to the floor.
It tried to stand back with its remaining arm, but the mace was quicker to smash its head off. Without even having time to check the whereabouts of the ejected head as well as its arm, a shadow covered Walm.
The last golem, which had lost one leg due to the fireball, caught up and tried to attack. Walm, who left the position quickly, escaped the heavy press. From far away, it would be nothing different from debris on the ground, but it could still move and had not yet malfunctioned. Without giving time, Walm jumped on its back and slammed down his mace like slamming a stake to the ground.
The back of the golem’s head squashed greatly. Even so, it didn’t start collapsing and tried to stroke its head with unnatural movements like a rusty machine. Twisting the mace while it was still biting into the head was enough to stop the resistance. And so, the golem’s body turned into soil.
Walm began to descend listlessly on the foothold that had turned into a small sandbox, but the trekking pole (mace) caught something.
“What is it?”
Digging the greyish-yellow sandbox with the tip of the mace, Walm found something with a luster. When he picked it up, the sand that had covered it fell down, revealing the item.
It wasn’t something special. Just a silver bracelet with a crimson grass motif. It wasn’t impossible to wear it, but it was too cute for his style. If he saw a male comrade-in-arms with such a bracelet, he would be worried about something unwanted trying to get open his backdoor.
Even if I bring it to a pawn shop, probably it’ll get me a drink… ah…
“…Isn’t it just right for a tribute?”
Too expensive will only confuse her after all…
Walm touched it a few times and checked the quality, before putting it in the magic bag. He would have liked to appreciate it for a little while longer, but it wasn’t possible. After all, the monsters in the labyrinth were really enthusiastic about their work. Fit for being a soldier, if only they were humans.
Looking at the approaching monsters, Walm said,
“Dog-shaped gargoyle, and mud golem? After playing with the sand, guess next is time to play with rocks and mud.”
With faint hopes for having a fun time, Walm gazed at the rocks and mud he would be playing with. As expected, no one answered the soliloquy. Despite having gotten used to such a lonely fact, Walm welcomed the new guests.
The chilly cold air and the stagnation typical of enclosed spaces could be felt in the room. And in such a dim room, Giesel, one of the rulers of the underworld, received reports from his underlings.
“Combining the information of the target, he seems to have no fixed place to sleep and moves from one cheap hotel to another. And mostly sleeps in the labyrinth. He also doesn’t seem to have a particular favorite restaurant either. Lastly, no report of him entering a bar or red-light district.”
Giesel tapped his fingers on the desk. There were many eyes hidden that he had sent throughout the city. He included people that no one would notice as someone who would collect information, ranging from someone inside brothels, bars, inns, shops, and even inside the guild. Even so, the information he received wasn’t enough for him to grasp the actions of a single wanderer.
“In other words, most of the time, he cages himself in the labyrinth, and his movements on the surface are unsteady, is that it?”
Hearing Giesel’s flabbergasted voice, the underling hurried to fill in the loopholes.
“I’m very sorry. He mostly stays in the labyrinth overnight, and we can’t continue the monitoring while he’s there.”
Kicking an underling out should be easy, but Giesel had to admit that there was a point in his underling’s words, albeit reluctantly. Unlike on the surface, people didn’t like crowding inside the labyrinth. Even if personnel to monitor was arranged, the deeper the target dived in, the more necessary it was for the personnel to fight monsters, and the more likely it was to be noticed by the target.
“How deep he had dived now?”
“Up to the 25th floor, alone.”
“Disgusting… Really, what a freak… So, he’s an extremely socially unsociable person and the kind of person who can get by on their own, is he?… If he can sleep safely in a labyrinth, means, he’s also an extremely cautious person. It’s already difficult to identify his behavioral patterns, and he’s that type huh? Aiming for scratching his neck in an inn or poisoning him at a bar will also be hard too.”
Giesel knew that no matter how strong a person was, when it was time to satisfy the three main needs, vigilance would drop and a vulnerable moment would come. He had dealt with countless targets to come to this conclusion. And from his experience, someone who didn’t get caught up in such essential needs was, troublesome.
Even if Giesel couldn’t fully grasp the man’s identity, based on the armor alone, there was no doubt that he was a soldier of a ruined country, the Highserk Empire. From the information he got, although the Highserk Empire was destroyed at the end of the war, there were still local communities that survived. Those who escaped from it or those who were wandering alone, were mostly criminals, hated people, and greedy people who wanted wealth and fame. However, Giesel’s target, the Highserk soldier, didn’t seem to be the case.
“In the first place, there’s no need for him to throw himself into the labyrinth alone… He’s either extremely uncooperative or inflexible and obstinate. And he has no interest in women or alcohol, which are common traits of soldiers. On the other hand, even though he’s a disciplined person, he recklessly keeps challenging the labyrinth alone. But, he doesn’t seem to be a stupid fellow either…… Perhaps, is he searching for a suitable place to kill himself?”
Connecting the few pieces of information, Giesel tried to guess the exact type of person the target might be. In fact, there were a few cases of people visiting the labyrinth in search of a place to die. It tended to be common among aristocrats who lost their homes and territories, broken knights, and soldiers in despair.
Giesel was lost in thought for a moment, but his consciousness returned to reality when he heard a voice from the darkness.
“Either he’s a “seeker”, or a “pessimist”. Whatever he is, there’s no doubt that the destruction of his homeland has influenced the principles of his action. A hasty attack on that kind of person is a bad move. Use my force.” [TN: Seeker in here is a seeker after one’s way]
“Are you sure, old man?”
“I’m about done collecting bodies. My force isn’t busy now. Besides, not getting that good body in this situation, would be a shame… Even though the “pointy” and “blockhead” are cowards, it’s fact that they’re difficult opponents.”
Gathering materials that would be a delicate seasoning to finish the revenge, was important after all.
The old man, who raised Giesel, was also a dedicated revenger. Although, the depth of it and the tenacity for it were incomparable to Giesel’s.
Giesel, who wasn’t so picky about how to take revenge, ordered his subordinates to deliver information. In short, the man should die. No matter how, as long as the man’s heart was put to stop and let rot away. That much should be more than enough loyalty to show to his foolish younger brother.
It would be nice if I was only having a good time for the whole three weeks… but the reality was, one problem occurred.
“…I really can’t understand the class.”
The specs of this body seem to be extremely high, and the knowledge up to middle school is firmly in my head.
In other words, I shouldn’t fall behind in my studies…
“…No matter how good a car is, if you’re not good at driving it, it’s useless huh?”
“Souya-kun, what’s wrong?”
Said Atsushi, whose seat was beside me.
Anyway, what the teacher was saying, I couldn’t understand it.
I stumbled at the beginning and thought it would get better as time passed, but now, zero, nothing. Not a single thing had stuck in my brain.
“Hey, Atsushi. What’s the difference between velocity and acceleration?”
It was a physics class, but I had been struggling with the fundamentals.
“Distance divided by time is velocity, and distance divided by time squared is acceleration.”
In whispering voices, Atsushi told me in a simple way.
“I see, thank you.”
“You’re welcome. If there’s anything you don’t understand, you can always ask me.”
In the last three weeks, I had grown quite attached to Atsushi.
… So, what’s the difference between velocity and acceleration? I still don’t understand even after his explanation.
For some reason, this reminds me of when I was in elementary school and got stuck in dividing fractions.
I mean, why is 2 divided by 1/3 equaling 6?
Why does dividing by 1/3 make a number larger than the original? In the end, I didn’t understand even after the class.
It was like I suddenly opened the hell gate. Scary.
Even when I asked the teacher afterward, he said, “Inverse it and then multiply,” but that wasn’t what I wanted to know at that time.
“Ah, perhaps, this is the time when the famous phrase ‘You work your brain, you lose’ applies. I see…”
In the end, the class ended without me understanding any of the essential parts of velocity and acceleration.
『“…So you came here to complain about class? Ah, this strawberry daifuku is delicious.”』 [TN: Daifuku is a small round mochi (glutinous rice cake) stuffed with sweet things, in this case, it’s strawberry and red bean paste]
“Of course. I saw it at the convenience store, and it was 220 yen including tax. Just saying. So, which one, Oi Ocha (strong green tea) or collagen matcha?”
『”Hmm, I’ll have Oi Ocha.”』
“Oi, Ocha here it is.”
Saying so, I handed over a plastic bottle.
Last time, the Goddess asked for fruit, but the convenience store didn’t sell fresh fruit.
Therefore, I searched for some sweets that had something like fruit inside and found strawberry daifuku. So I bought it.
“It’s not really a complain but, I feel like I can’t fully demonstrate the specs of this body.”
Even though I’ve a good brain now, I feel like I’m just wasting such a treasure.
『”I thought you had a laid-back personality, but I see, you’re the type that is surprisingly concerned about such a thing. Well, I don’t think you should worry about it too much.”』
“Including me, everyone who isn’t good at studying, is just like that. Thinking mundane things more than necessary.”
Those who are good at it won’t have many doubts, right?
『”If you knew, you shouldn’t care.”』
“Well, that’s true… Anyway, I’ll talk about why I came here today.”
『”Hm? Didn’t you come here to complain? 』
“Of course not!… Well, it’s not only that.”
『“So, you have a problem. Sure. I will help you hit it away from your mind.”』
For some reason, the Goddess started imitating shadowboxing.
“The other day, I went out with a member of my high school group. At that time, something unexpected happened… But, that’s not the point, what concerned me the most was, I felt that women held themselves in front of men too much.“
『”I see. Well, considering the situation of the world, it can’t be helped. Also, I think that everyone, in general, has considerable mental strength since they’ve been forced to endure every time.”』
“Hmm… At least I want the women involved with me to be happy. And I’m going to make an effort to do that.”
『”I think it’s a good thing.”』
“But, a thought came to my mind. What if perhaps I don’t even understand the fundamental of this world good enough?”
After taking science classes several times, such a thought came to my mind.
Anyone who was convinced that “this society is like this” and accepted it, could live in it without questioning.
But anyone who kept questioning every small thing, would have trouble living in it.
At this moment, I didn’t even know what I was stumbling over in this society.
『”The fundamental, is it?”』
“The common sense I have isn’t the common sense of this world. That’s why I feel uncomfortable and convinced that this society is distorted. I don’t think it’s good for women to hold themselves. But, I don’t know how this society came to be, how it was in the past, and how it changed. That’s why I’ve come to think that I haven’t fundamentally understood the general way of thinking in this world.”
I mean, what kind of history has women and men in this world carved in the first place? I feel like I need to know such important things to understand better…
『”…If the place changes, common sense will also change… But well, let’s talk about the history of men and women in this country that I know. It’s just a simple and short story.”』
“That’s just what I wanted to hear!”
『”When I was born, it was a terrible famine. I think I said that before. At that time, men were forced to live a much more miserable life than they are now. It was an era in which armed women reign over. It wasn’t a war over men, but men were one of the important war trophies.”』
“Well, I can imagine that there was such a time.”
『“What is taken by force is usually going to be taken by a stronger force. So anytime they made men’s emancipation as the reason, gathering soldiers wasn’t that hard. It can be said that it was an era of repetitive exploitation and liberation of men. Under such circumstances, there was a power that held power for a relatively long time. In Japan, the nobility reigned at that time. Well, even now, it still exists. Even after successfully manipulating the people and seizing power for a long time. It can be said that the house was able to survive by distributing ‘wealth’ to the people.”』
“And men were included in that ‘wealth’?”
『”Of course. But, as time passed, it slowly changed. Now, in this modern era, it gets well governed. Well, the natural disaster is also the reason.”』
The Goddess pointed to the sun.
“Suddenly, male babies were no longer born…”
If there were one in a dozen or one in a hundred, society would have been doing well, but if it were one in several hundred or one in a thousand like it is now, a war over men will only lead the world to end for real…
The Goddess nodded and continued the story.
『“Then the nobles gave up their power. So upright, isn’t it? They gave up control of the country and switched to joint rule with the government. After about 40 years, the male birth rate began to return, but by that time, a new ruling system had already been well established.”』
“Could it be, it’s the society of today?”
『”That’s right. That’s why those who rule Japan now fear that the government will be overthrown.”』
So, even here, Japan’s history has been carved by war. The only big difference would be the abdication of power by the nobility.
Well, the nobility gave up power because the male fertility rate plummeted…
“… I see…”
『”This is the answer to the first question. The country has done everything to educate women to be humble and to force men to be patient. So that such a day wouldn’t come.”』
All so that there won’t be a chance of the current government getting overthrown.
So, common sense now has been implanted over many years for that purpose huh…
Walking through the stone pavement passages, which had deteriorated through time and battles, the stone materials flanked off the walls and ceilings clearly impeded walking. Walm carefully avoided debris and looked for a place to put his feet, but there was no way to avoid small pieces like pebbles. The pebbles cracked with a sound that came from the half-boots. No one would even notice it if it were in the hustle and bustle of the surface. Here, in the labyrinth, it was different, especially from the 16th floor, which was considered by many as the beginning of the mid-rank floors.
If some party was engaged in a battle or busily dismantling monsters, one could detect it by hearing and smelling. Nevertheless, it was extremely quiet here. This was because the challengers were thoroughly silent, so as not to give away their existence by making noise. After all, they wanted to avoid surprise attacks and make a preemptive strike whenever possible. So, it was important to know how to detect the opponent’s movements and quickly move to attack.
“To keep moving here, so brave huh?”
The answer Walm received was, the sound of crushed pebbles and air leaking out of the gap.
A long, slender tongue reminiscent of a reptile was extended from the mouth, which was adorned with sharp “fangs”. Despite walking on two legs and having the same number of limbs as a human, its shape didn’t resemble a human’s. Tus alone was enough for Walm to grasp the identity of the brave attacker.
It was a group of lizardmen, a monster with the intelligence to manipulate weapons skillfully enough to not be underestimated. Its eyes, which looked emotionless, stared at Walm.
Grabbing the handle, Walm raised his halberd and welcomed the guest.
Without a whistle to announce the start, the battle began abruptly. Three lizardmen charged toward Walm. The vanguard lizardman was carrying an old round shield and a dirty saber, followed by one with a spear and another with a mace.
Walm shook his body left and right so that his aim couldn’t be read. With his halberd raised on the upper left, he leaped toward the lizard, which approached in a straight line without being unconcerned. The lizardman tried to defend itself with a round shield against the halberd approaching from above, but the shield with insufficient durability was shattered without being able to prevent the attack.
The broken pieces of wood and the leaking blood from the cut elbow were coloring the air. Despite the injuries, its cold eyes still locked on Walm. Clearly, its fighting spirit hadn’t yet weakened. On the contrary, it had prepared the saber for a counterattack.
Seeing the saber being raised with the left hand, Walm pulled back while turning the handle with his palm. When the claw-shaped branch blade of the halberd caught the raised hand, he slid it along the blade. In this way, he cut off half of the lizardman’s remaining wrist.
The lizardman, having lost both hands, opened its mouth and tried to pierce Walm with the remaining weapon, the fang. Unfortunately, Walm had foreseen this futile struggle and so he quickly slashed the halberd from the bottom up, slashing the head from the lower jaw.
The exchange of blows with the lizardman who had taken the lead ended, and the two remaining lizardmen went to attack Walm.
Walm avoided the spear thrust by moving his upper body. And did the same with the following thrust. Then, he kicked the ground and escaped the mace that was about to bore into his torso.
The spear-wielding lizardman tried to catch Walm, but it was blocked by the body of a compatriot mace-wielding lizardman, who had stepped in due to the short distance of the mace, and thus failed to reach him.
To prevent Walm from going around as he pleased, the lizardman with mace tried to hit him with its tails, which were thicker than its arms, but he had already experienced this in the defense line around Danndurg Castle.
“All is the same, when in trouble, it’ll wag its tail or bite.”
Walm saw off the tail that would have hit the side of the head in front of him.
On the other hand, having to move its tail made the lizardman’s movements even easier to read. The lizardman, which hesitatingly exposed its back to the Walm, dropped its head to the ground without long.
The last lizardman, having lost an obstacle and a brethren at the same time, dared not hesitate to thrust the spear. Walm accepted the invitation and thrust with his halberd. After the halberd and the spear passed, he turned the handle, so that the lizardman’s head got in between the spearhead and the axe blade. Just like that, the head was severed.
When the rolling head came to rest, silence fell again in the labyrinth.
Walm immediately looked at the surroundings, but the only change was that the floor was artistically dyed with fresh blood and three lizards.
After seeing the art, Walm picked up the saber and checked the quality.
“It’s not bad… At least it’s made from iron.”
It was hard to say that it was of good quality, but if it was resharpened it could be used as a weapon, or it could be melted and made into another weapon. If he were to complain to the predecessor owner, the lizardman, it would be that the saber didn’t have a scabbard.
Walm put his wrist into the magic bag and pulled out a cloth, getting goosebumps from the sensation that he couldn’t get used to even after using it many times. Anyway, he always carried extra cloth material, because there were many uses for it. Then he turned the saber over, wrapped it in the cloth, tied it up, and put it in the magic bag.
Next, he picked up the mace. The handle was about the length of the shoulder to the wrist, and the shape of the mace head had five radial flanges. Its destructive power was one step less than that of the round-headed mace, but it was distinguished by greater striking power and lighter weight.
“This one is… quite good.”
While carrying the halberd on his shoulder, Walm tested how comfortable it was to swing the mace with his free hand. A hit with such a mace could reach the abdomen even through armor, which meant it could make the opponent spit out stomach acid and oxygen, and also slowed down its actions momentarily. It was a familiar weapon used on the battlefield. If poor swords collided head-on, the blade would flake off and could result in the death of the wilder.
After checking out the feel and quality of the mace, Walm held the halberd with his arm and wrapped it in a cloth.
At that moment, he faintly heard pebbles on the ground being rubbed.
As expected, Walm reacted very sharply. He jumped away and prepared his stance
A blade and long tail filled the rapidly expanding field of vision.
The creature that surprised Walm was a lamia, a monster whose upper body looked like a female human and the lower body was that of a snake. It must’ve been waiting in the rubble for an opportunity. And when it saw an opening, it threw away its camouflage and screeched as if it wanted to shatter glass.
Deftly, the lamia tried to slit Walm’s throat with the short swords in both hands.
Walm had let go of the halberd and the lamia was already close enough. If he used one of his cards, he would have been in control. But he decided to use the mace.
The blow with the mace on the right wrist was remarkably effective. Like a broken onion, the fingers were cracked, and the short sword flew away as it lost its grip.
The remaining short sword aimed horizontally at Walm’s neck.
Walm quickly rolled up and slid forward to avoid the blow, colliding with the lamia without losing momentum. Although it was a female, by human standards it corresponded to a large, muscular woman. In addition, the center of gravity of the body was on the lower body. Therefore, the upper body was only slightly bent backwards after the impact.
The right arm, which had lost its function, stretched to catch Walm. Even if he wanted a handshake, he didn’t. So he rejected it with a palm strike. At the same time, the tail came at him from the side, but he avoided it by dodging to the other side
The lamia tried to slash Walm with a twist of the torso, but he was faster in slamming his mace.
The mace, which took most of its weight in a lump of metal called a flanged head, brought the destruction to the level Walm wanted. The blow struck between the nose and eyebrows, crushing the nasal bones and eye sockets. While shaking the brain, the blow took away two of the five senses. Among the persistent monsters, the lamia was said to have the life force of a snake. And such a monster had temporarily revealed its defenseless appearance.
Unfortunately, Walm, who survived the war and had long since lost the soul of benevolence and animal welfare, was merciless.
The mace arced and picked up the head of the collapsing Lamia. A reddish-brown bloom of viscous liquid and bone splinters was in the air. It happened in an instant before it turned into brand new stains on walls and ceilings.
“Right, it’s not bad after all”
Walm rotated the mace around his wrist, hitting the air. Even with this rough handling, there was no chipping or deformation.
Walm, who usually used a halberd, was by no means cheating. In a labyrinth where violence was supreme, who could object to simple and quick problem-solving with a mace? At least Walm didn’t.
Walm, pushing aside the door of the safe room on 20th floor, which was considered the entrance to the middle-rank floors, was fed up with the curious looks directed at him every time someone saw him.
With the exception of Walm, most parties here consisted of five members, and even parties of four were rare. In such a situation, it was inevitable that Walm, who continued to dive alone, would look like an oddball. Still, it wasn’t pleasant to be regarded as a weirdo.
It would be even stranger, however, if a mind plagued by fatigue, lack of sleep, and tension felt comfortable in such a situation. The “critique session”, with every single gaze directed at Walm, finally came to an end when he moved his muddy eyes.
Walm sat down and leaned his back against the wall. The cold floors and walls cooled his heated body.
Then, Walm took the food out of the magic bag in his cloak and began to eat while hiding it. In any case, it was bad manners, but it was a relief that this wasn’t a restaurant that cared about etiquette.
Bit cheaply salted orc meat and the hard-baked black bread, and chewed them repeatedly before swallowing it down, so that it lasted a long time. Drank water in between, but the overwrought caused by diving the labyrinth for a long time didn’t recover.
Walm once again glanced around the room with only his eyes. Five or six parties were resting at a distance, and among them were those who were relatively relaxed, busily exchanging information and carrying on conversations. Armor covered their bodies without any gaps, and their weapons were also varied. They couldn’t be compared with the inferior equipment of those who dived mainly on the low-rank floors. Considering the number of people and the equipment they wore, it reminded Walm of the pre-battle he had experienced in the past.
Kneeling down on one knee and holding a weapon in his hand, Walm kept falling asleep for a short moment repeatedly. Even if he couldn’t sleep well, at least he let his body rest. It was a habit he had picked up in his military life. Several parties repeatedly entered and exited, but fortunately, no one approached Walm.
When the door opened for the fifth or sixth time and a party entered the safe room, the demon mask that was put in the waist bag started to move. Walm wasn’t happy with it, but he was able to vaguely understand what the mask meant from the frequency and sound of the vibration.
The way the mask vibrated meant that it was showing interest. How rare.
Walm slightly opened his heavy eyelids and saw a four-person party. In the labyrinth, adventurers weren’t that rare, but the adventurer at the lead of this party was, well, colorful. To put it badly, the color of the equipment wasn’t gentle to the eyes. The armor had a peculiar sheen of mithril, and the longsword that hung at the hip was set with a tricolor gemstone and silver works. The hair was bright green, and the eyes were red and blue. In short, very greedy.
If all the party members who followed were like that, it would be like a circus troupe running around providing free entertainment and Walm would have laughed. One of the adventurers following from behind, however, had a robust appearance that thoroughly blanked out anything unnecessary. It reminded Walm of minimalism, but perhaps it was a warrior monk in training. The other two appeared to be an archer and a rod-wielder. Given their demeanor and equipment, Walm pondered their formation.
…I guess, two front guards and two rear guards.
Then, the eyes of the colorful adventurer and Walm met. Even in a labyrinth that could hardly be called bright, the light in the eyes of the adventurer didn’t disappear and possessed a depth that would captivate anyone.
What a complete opposite to Walm’s dark and muddy eyes.
Such a gaze encounter was broken off by the adventurer. The party continued their way, walking to the next floor
There, Walm suddenly noticed. The party members showed no signs of fatigue, and they didn’t even have dirt on them. To reach this point, Walm who had dived in, was well aware of how many monsters they had to face, and how much flesh and blood flew around. Even the word “extraordinary abilities.”, would be too cliché to give to them.
“No break huh?”
In the end, the four-person party stepped into the next floor without resting, as if they were going for another walk.
After a brief silence, the adventurers began to speak in a voice that was half amazed, half envious.
“Yeah, right, the “Trimagitack” doesn’t need a break.”
“It’s like they’re going to another low-rank floor, isn’t it? Well, no wonder, they’re expected to be the next conquerors.”
“Their party is still four people, right? I don’t mind being a porter. Just invite me to the party, please…”
“Haha, you’re kidding. You won’t even be able to properly play the role of a porter for a party like that. Besides, that party has a magic bag. Why do they need to go out of their way to get a porter?”
“Even if they need one, I’m sure only those who had managed to dive into the 30th floor and above will be selected. But well, those guys have strong combat habits and need to be fixed if join a party.”
Even Walm, who had only recently visited the Labyrinth City, knew the name of the party. The one they said to be closest to becoming the conqueror, and originated from the Belgana, the Labyrinth City. For them, it would be difficult to look as if they were struggling to reach here. Still, even those people who were carrying the expectations of the Labyrinth City hadn’t yet reached the deepest floor.
The miraculous treasure lay deep in the labyrinth. Even Walm’s fingertips hadn’t yet been within the reach. If he wanted to get this miracle, the corpses he piled up so far wouldn’t suffice. Since they weren’t enough, there was no choice but to pile up more. As quickly as possible.
Walm naturally put strength into his hand that held the halberd. And after repeating slow breathing and calming his rising heartbeat and frustration, he fell into a light sleep again.