【Orcus Great Dungeon】
This was a huge labyrinth that consisted of hundred floors. As one of the Seven Great Dungeons, the lower you go, the stronger the Magic Beasts become. Even so, this dungeon was a very popular place for mercenaries and adventurers. It was also a great training ground for new recruits; That was because it was easy to judge the strength of the Magic Beasts in accordance to the dungeon floor. Moreover, the Magic Beasts in the dungeons also possessed higher quality Magic Stone in their body compared to the Magic Beasts in the wilderness.
The Magic Stone is the core that provides power to the Magic Beast. The stronger the Magic Beast, the higher quality the core is. These Magic Stones are used as raw materials to make the magic circles. The magic circle could be activated as long as it was completed, but the effect was only one-third when comparing the magic circle drawn by oneself to the magic circle drawn by using Magic Stone Powder.
In brief, using Magic Stones could effectively improve the efficiency of magic. In addition, the magic tools used in everyday life were also powered by Magic Stones. There was a very high demand for these Magic Stones; It was essential for both the armies and everyday life.
By the way, powerful Magic Beasts with high quality Magic Stone can use inherent magic. Inherent Magic does not require incantation and magic circles. It is the only spell the Magic Beast can use, the same species of Magic Beast will not be able to use all sort of spells even if they possesses magic power. But in place of that, the Magic Beast doesn’t require incantation and magic circles to perform the spell. This is the biggest reason one cannot be negligent when confronting the Magic Beast.
Commander Meld led a group of knights, and brought the students to their temporary lodging at small town of 【Holward】. The adventurers who wished to challenge 【Orcus Great Dungeon】 would stay here. Tonight, they were going to stay at an inn managed by the Kingdom, which was exclusive for the new recruits.
Hajime, who had not seen a normal room in a long time, lie down on the bed and let out a breath, “Whew~”. All the rooms were designed for two people, but only Hajime got a room to himself. “Well, at least I can relax this way.” Hajime did not let that bother him and muttered as such. He wasn’t lonely and what not, not at all……
Tomorrow is the day they will challenge the dungeon. It seems like they will only challenge up to the twentieth floors. This way, even someone as weak as Hajime will be useful. This is what the commander said with his own mouth.
As for Hajime, other than feeling sorry for being a burden, he really had nothing else to say. Rather, it was definitely the better choice to just leave him at the capital city…… The timid Hajime also did not say anything after reading the atmosphere around him.
Hajime took a moment to read the Magic Beasts illustrated handbook he borrowed. However, in order to let his tired body rest for a while, he decided to sleep earlier. The sleeping skill he perfected in his school life displayed its full potential in another world.
However, when Hajime was about to doze off, he heard someone knock on his door. For Hajime who frequently pulled all nighters in Japan, it was still early, but it was already very late for Tortus. The dubious person that would pay visit at this time of the night, could it be Hiyama?! Hajime was a little worried when he thought about it.
However, he eased up after hearing the voice.
“Nagumo-kun, are you still awake? It’s me, Shirasaki. Can I bother you for a moment?”
Seriously? Hajime froze for a moment and hastily proceeded towards the door. After fetching the key and opening the door, Kaori stood there with a snow-white negligee on. She was wearing an unbuttoned sweater over the negligee.
“……Why is this happening?”
When presented with such a scene, Hajime unexpectedly switched to Kansai dialect and performed a Tsukkomi. ⌈1⌋ Kaori was puzzled since she couldn’t understand. Hajime quickly pulled himself together, he tried not to stare at Kaori too much, and only hear what she had to say. Although he didn’t have too much interest in the 3D world, he was still an adolescent boy. The current appearance of Kaori was slightly too stimulating.
“Ah~ No, it’s nothing. En, what’s the matter? Did you have something to tell me?”
“No. I just…… wanted to talk with Hajime-kun. Am I bothering you after all?”
He anticipated the most probable question, but it was quickly shot down by Kaori’s provocative nature. Moreover, Kaori’s upturned eyes was so explosive. It’s super effective! By the time he noticed, he already opened the door and invited her into the room.
Kaori entered the room happily without any precaution.
She sat on the chair near the window. Hajime unconsciously prepared the tea while still being slightly confused. Though it was really just putting something like a tea bag into the cup. Something similar to black tea was made using this kind of stuff. He prepared enough for both of them and handed a cup to Kaori. After that, Hajime sat on the chair directly in front of her.
Kaori happily accepted the black tea imitation and took a sip. The moonlight that shone through the window illuminated her. It seemed like there was a halo around her glossy black hair, she looked like an angel. Without any lustful desires, Hajime was fascinated by Kaori’s purity. He recovered himself when he heard Kaori place down her cup. Hajime drank the black tea imitation in one breath. He choked a little as he drank too fast. How embarrassing…
Seeing Hajime like that, Kaori giggled. Hajime quickly struck a conversation to hide his embarrassment.
“So, are you here to discuss about the plan for tomorrow?”
To Hajime’s question, Kaori nodded her head. Her smile earlier was like a lie as it changed into a heavy expression.
“About the trip to the dungeon tomorrow…… I wish Nagumo-kun can stay in the town. I will persuade the instructors and classmates. So, please!”
She leaned over as she pleaded Hajime. Hajime was perplexed. Even if Hajime was a burden, wasn’t this a little too much?
“En…… You are right, I know I am a burden…… I should really stay here. Even if you don’t say it, I……”
“You’re wrong! It’s not because you’re a burden!”
Kaori tried to clear up the misunderstanding. Maybe she was being too hasty. She put her hand on her chest and took a deep breath. After she calmed down, “It was too sudden, I’m sorry” she apologized like this.
“I just had a very bad feeling. When I fell asleep earlier…… I had a dream…… it was about Nagumo-kun…… When I called out to you, you didn’t even notice…… Even when I run, I couldn’t catch up…… In the end……”
She seemed afraid to speak the rest. Wanting to hear the rest, Hajime urged her to continue.
“What happened in the end?”
Kaori bit her lips, she had a teary expression on her face.
They sat in silence for a while. Hajime looked at Kaori, who was still hanging her head. It was a really ominous dream, but it was just a dream. With just that, they wouldn’t permit him to stay. If such a thing was allowed, the criticism he received from the classmates will surely intensify. If such a thing happened, he really would not be welcomed anymore. He had no choice but to go.
To reassure Kaori, Hajime started to speak as gently as possible.
“A dream is just a dream, Shirasaki-san. This time, we have Commander Meld and his veteran knights accompanying us. There are also a lot of strong people like Kouki coming with us. Rather, our whole class is amazing. I actually feel sorry for our enemies. I am very weak, in more ways than one, isn’t that why you have such a dream?”
While listening to Hajime, Kaori looked at him with an anxious expression.
“I-if you’re still worried, then……”
Hajime was a little embarrassed, but he still stood perfectly straight and looked into Kaori’s eyes.
“Will you protect me?”
As a man, saying something as embarrassing as this still affected his pride. His face already became red due to shame. The room was illuminated by the moonlight, he could see Kaori’s appearance very clearly.
“Shirasaki-san is a healer right? Healer was a class that had an innate talent for healing magic. No matter what happened…… As long as Shirasaki-san is around, you can heal me even if I get heavily wounded. Will you protect me with this power? If so, I believe I’ll be fine.”
He fixed his gaze on Kaori and said these, the current situation does not permit him to break eye contact. Hajime desperately endured the shame and prevented his body from writhing.
The biggest cause of a person’s insecurity was the unknown, Hajime had heard of these kind of thing before. Kaori was probably worried about what could possibly attack Hajime. In that case, perhaps he could ease her mind by convincing her that they could handle all the unknown dangers that were thrown at them.
“You never change, Najumo-kun.”
Hajime made a doubtful expression as Kaori said that. Kaori giggled after seeing that expression.
“Nagumo-kun, you probably thought we first met in high school right? But, I knew you since the second year of middle school.”
This revelation caused Hajime to widen his eyes in shock. He quickly searched through his memories, but he couldn’t recall the meeting. Hajime groaned as he thought of this, and it caused Kaori to giggle again.
“It was a one-sided meeting. The first time I saw you, you were prostrating. I didn’t dare believe what I saw.”
To be seen in such an embarrassing state! His body writhed again but for a different reason this time. Where and when did she see him in such a position? Just where? He frantically searched his memories. Facing Hajime who was making all kind of expressions, Kaori continued to speak.
“En, you were surrounded by shady-looking people. Even when they spit at you, poured their drinks on you, or stepped on you… you did not stop kneeling. Before long, they left appalled.”
“T-that is, I showed such an unsightly sight……”
Hajime felt like dying a little. She saw a scene that was just as bad as his dark history of Chuunibyou. ⌈2⌋ Only a humorless smile emerged. It was the same humorless smile that emerged when he discovered his mother had found the hidden stash of Ero Doujinshi ⌈3⌋ and placed them neatly on his bookshelf.
However, Kaori just gave him a gentle look. One that was free from contempt and ridicule.
“No, it wasn’t unsightly. Rather, when I saw you like that, I thought you were a very strong and kind person.”
Hajime couldn’t believe what he heard.
(That’s not the kind of impression someone would get. Could it be, Shirasaki had a special fetish for that?!)
Hajime thought of something very rude.
“I mean, Nagumo-kun, you did it for the sake of a granny and her grandson.”
When she said that, Hajime finally remembered something. Indeed, there was such an incident during his middle school years.
It started when the little boy accidently bumped into the delinquents and dirtied their clothes with his Takoyaki. ⌈4⌋ The little boy started to cry while the delinquents angrily shouted at the granny. The granny cowered in fear. They were in a very difficult situation.
Originally, Hajime who was just passing through by chance wanted to ignore it. He saw the granny took out a few notes —— perhaps it was the price to quell the quarrel. After receiving those, the delinquent demanded for more in a threatening manner. In the end, Hajime’s body moved on its own after they took the purse by force.
He had never fought in his life before. The Chuunibyou’s certain kill techniques could only be used at home. It couldn’t be helped, his only choice was to use the eye-catching prostration technique. Prostrating in the public, it was very embarrassing for both parties involved. It would be better to say just staying around them would be unbearable. It went just as planned, the delinquents had left.
“Strong people would have solved it easily with violence. If Kouki was involved, he would surely knock down the opponent…… But I don’t think there are many people who would help others even when they were not strong; Especially someone that would prostrate themselves for the sake of others…… In fact, I was really scared at that time…… I just used the excuse that I was not as strong as Shizuku. I didn’t do anything and hoped someone would stand up for them.”
“Therefore, Hajime-kun is the strongest person in my heart. After entering high school, I was really so happy to see you…… I wanted to become like you, and get to know many things about you. But Hajime-kun was always sleeping……”
“Ahaha, Sorry about that.”
He finally figured out the reason why Kaori cared about him so much, Hajime was a little embarrassed to be evaluated so highly by Kaori. He just bashfully forced a somewhat awkward smile.
“Therefore, to ease my worries, I’ll make sure Hajime-kun don’t do anything crazy in the dungeon like when you faced the delinquents……But, en”
Kaori looked at Hajime with determination.
“I will protect you, Nagumo-kun.”
Hajime accepted her determination. He looked straight at her, and nodded.
Immediately after, Hajime smiled wryly. The role of the man and woman was totally reversed. Without a doubt, Kaori was playing the hero while Hajime was playing the damsel in distress. As a man, he found it hard to accept, but he could only force a smile.
They chatted for a while, then Kaori returned to her room. While Hajime was laying on the bed, he thought over many things. No matter what, he must find a way to clear his bad reputation. It did not sit so well with him to be protected by the female lead. Hajime fell asleep with renewed determination.
Very late at night, when Kaori left Hajime’s room and headed back to her room, nobody noticed someone was silently staring at Kaori’s back. That person had a really twisted expression, nobody knew of this matter either.