|Author: Ryuusen Hirotsugu||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 6234 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 2603 words|
Zef wordlessly moved away from the mirror and closed his eyes, probably donning a face worse than Takuto’s. He may not even be able to answer if anyone called him.
Exchanging glances of understanding, everyone chose to let him be the time he needed.
「Well, the mirror does work.」
Mira returns to the original topic as they’ve just proven the Dark Aid’s Mirror shows the deceased to the caller.
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「In that case, why didn’t it work for Takuto?」
Emera, having in mind how it didn’t work the first time with Takuto, voiced out her concerns.
It was made clear that Takuto’s parents didn’t appear as they were all able to see Lyrica when Zef called her while there was nothing at all on the mirror with Takuto.
「Could it be that it didn’t work because he called them both together?」
Starting to build a hypothesis, Fricca suggested that the Dark Aid’s Mirror may only be able to summon one deceased person at a time and because Takuto called both of his parents, nothing happened.
「It’s not entirely impossible.」
In consideration of that possibility, Asbar looked at Mira and she nodded, gently bringing Takuto back in front of the mirror.
「Now try to call only one of them, either dad or mom.」
Takuto nodded and filled his mind with the image of his mother.
Takuto put all his feelings into this call.
Yet the Dark Aid’s Mirror continued to remain unchanged.
「Dad… Ashley …… father ……」
Takuto’s eyes started overflowing with tears as no matter how much he called, nobody appeared. With the thoughts of his parents not wanting to meet him filling his mind, he was overcome with great sorrow.
Takuto’s reflection in the mirror, albeit gloomy, still presented a sliver of hope. He thought they’d be able to meet again after his parents left on a journey when he was younger.
He kept on living with his grandfather fearing that his memories would fade, especially when the report came saying they died and sank him in despair.
When he heard the rumor about there being a mirror that’d allow someone to meet with the deceased, he hoped to see them again but it was all in vain as he spent all this time to get to the mirror and his parents were never reflected.
「Looks like they won’t come out…」
The moment Takuto heard those words from Asbar, he started to cry.
Asbar was flustered when he thought he made him cry while Mira, in panic and unsure of what to do, tried to calm Takuto by embracing him.
Takuto managed to calm down thanks to her warmth although tears were still flowing and he couldn’t speak yet.
「I wonder why it didn’t work now.」
Emera inspected the mirror circling all around it, hoping to find anything explaining what was happening but there were no traces or hints about what would cause that.
「Doesn’t seem to be because of the one-at-a-time limitation.」
「And it’s not broken.」
Fricca looked at the mirror, touching it while Asbar joined her after recovering from his fluster before. They kept thinking to the fullest, looking at the scratchless smooth surface.
Mira was also thinking about it.
The Dark Aid’s Mirror was a quest item that allowed one to meet with the deceased, but because the game was now real, it wasn’t bound to the system as it was shown with Lyrica.
Then why didn’t Takuto’s parents appear?
Is it possible they don’t actually want to meet him?
Mira rejected that possibility though, there aren’t any parents who’d do this to their children who want to meet them so much.
Mira came to the simplest and most believable conclusion about it.
「Aren’t they still alive?」
Everyone could only freeze over and slowly look at Mira and Takuto after hearing that possibility.
In the first place, they came to the hall in order to have Takuto meet his parents, or so did the members of Écarlate Carillon believed.
However, Mira’s guess meant the end of their mission, with that answer resounding deeply in their thoughts.
「Ah, that’s right. Didn’t it all start when they were thought dead after five years passed? They may be still alive.」
Fully convinced with that answer, Emera pushed away all her worries and merrily ran up to Takuto.
「Been missing for five years according to the Union’s rules, that’d indeed explain it all.」
「There were such rules? Then it’s not like anyone has found and confirmed their bodies.」
It was the first time Fricca and Asbar, and even Zef heard anything about that. Emera told them there was a boy who wants to meet his deceased parents, and a newbie rank C girl is going to take him along, so she was worried about them and asked for help. That was all she said.
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Mira released Takuto from her embrace and looked straight in his eyes. Perhaps sensing her seriousness, he looked back at her.
「Listen carefully, you know that the Dark Aid’s Mirror shows deceased people, right? In other words, it doesn’t show anybody who is alive. Have you got it, Takuto? It means your parents may be alive.」
Takuto had already given up all hope to see his parents again, but hearing that they may actually be alive brought back the light in his darkness filled heart, the words resounding deep within.
「But… Grandpa says they are dead, that I should give up.」
Despite hope shining again in his heart, he remembered his grandfather and the five years he’s been raising him for. He had never seen him make that kind of face before when he said that to Takuto and he started sinking once more.
「But people in the Union say they’re missing, right?」
「Then couldn’t it be possible? I mean, nobody actually saw the death of your parents and the mirror doesn’t reflect them either. Don’t you think they’re most likely alive?」
Mira followed up with a gentle smile.
「If they’re alive, you’ll meet them for sure.」
「So, Lyne and Ashley is it? If I happen to meet them, I’ll tell them about you.」
「They are alive for sure, the mirror proved it. Isn’t it great,Takuto?」
It looked like Asbar was unexpectedly easily moved to tears as he was holding the corners of his eyes. While Fricca wrote on her notepad ‘To look for Takuto’s parents’.
Lastly, leaning over to match Takuto’s height, Emera took out a towel and gently wiped his remaining tears.
「That’s right, boy. You should hope they’re alive. Kids shouldn’t show such a face, smile more. Your dad and mom would prefer it.」
Zef glanced at his face while speaking. His eyes were still red, but Takuto was already calming down and tried his best to smile. Zef gently brushed his head.
「Sure, thank… you」
Takuto managed to answer with the best smile they have seen from him, even though he was still sobbing. He was sincerely grateful that everyone chose to accompany someone they didn’t know through his selfish desire and take him to such a dangerous place.
Everyone else nodded and brushed his head, accepting his gratitude.
When the atmosphere calmed a little bit, Mira looked at Zef, remembering something. Whether affected by the current situation or not, he seemed to get over his past trauma.
The scene where Zef cried so much flashed back in her mind, completely different to the first impression she had of him.
「By the way, Zef. Are you alright now?」
Everyone turned to Zef as she asked him.
Suddenly being turned into the center of attention, Zef nimbly winked and lifted his index finger.
「I’m back!」 He loudly declared.
There were some shadows still on his expression but it was coming back to his usual. Knowing about his situation, Asbar was worried about him, but was relieved seeing how he currently was. Zef, voicing out the feelings he kept bottled inside of him managed to regain his usual demeanor.
That’s why, with a serene face, he gently bid farewell to his sister, floating in his mind.
Mira approached him and tiptoed to reach his head with her right hand.
「What’s wrong, Mira?」
Her hand touched Zef’s head amidst his confusion.
「I’m glad for you too. I have no idea what exactly happened, but it seems your heart is now clear.」
Zef’s mask broke due to her actions and feeling sincerely relieved, he muttered a 「thank you」 quiet enough that only Mira heard it.
For a while, Zef let Mira spoil him. She obviously looked younger than him, yet he felt some motherliness hidden in her.
「Well, the task is over, how about returning?」
Emera found the right moment to say that after they ate lunch in the hall since monsters do not appear here.
「Ah, the outcome was unexpected, isn’t it a happy end?」
「For Takuto it’s just the beginning I guess.」
「Yes, I will work hard to become an adventurer like you all, and then I will look for dad and mom myself!」
Zef became his usual self and Fricca gently grinned while Takuto happily proclaimed his future plans.
「Speaking of unexpected, so was your case, lolicon. I wondered what to do about you, but I’m relieved you’re past that now.」
「What? I think I just heard a super unexpected word come at me. Was I just hearing things?!」
「Asbar, it looks like you already knew about Zef. I had no idea! I am the vice-captain yet I don’t understand the worries of the members!」
From the impression of Mira cheering Zef up, Asbar used an appropriate word to make a new nickname for him. Zef tried to argue but inwardly shrugging it off, his protest quickly came to an end.
On the other hand, Emera was really worried about her lacking skills as the vice-leader. Nobody cared about that though, nobody ever thought a vice-leader should have a grasp of the sorrows of the party members.
「What an amusing bunch…”
The commotion made her put on a wry face, yet it felt somewhat pleasant.
「Well, since you are already going to return, can’t you bring Takuto along? I still have some business on the 6th floor.」
Mira thought at first to come back the next day after bringing Takuto back. However, with so many party members with her and the monsters all dealt with, there shouldn’t be any danger so she could leave Takuto in their care and wrap up everything today.
「Speaking of that, your pass to the Ancient Temple started everything.」
Emera recalled the order of events. Takuto begged Mira to take him along into the Ancient Temple because she herself started mumbling about the pass. It meant that bringing Takuto to the Dark Aid’s hall wasn’t her goal, and she had another reason to come here.
「What, missy, you had business to do on the 6th floor?」
「The 6th floor? I heard that only a castle stands there, and that even monsters don’t appear. There is nothing there.」
「I heard that too. Thousands of people came here, but nobody found anything on the 6th floor.」
As Fricca and Zef said, the 6th floor was a bit special in this dungeon. Instead of the usual scenery there was till the 5th floor, the stairs ran along the walls and led to a vast underground space where there stood a large castle surrounded by a lake.
But, that wasn’t the most peculiar about the 6th floor. The problem was its reason for existence.
There was none, however. The only thing that seemed like it would have a meaning, the castle, lacked any interior designs nor did it have any furnishings. Far from that, rooms did not even have doors and all places that looked like they could have treasure were all open and empty.
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No treasures, no monsters, no events.
A self-proclaimed archaeologist player examined every corner of the castle just to come to the conclusion its existence was meaningless.
However, Mira had business in such a place. Zef had no idea what she could want in that empty place.
「It seems interesting so I’m going with you.」
Expressing his wish to tag along, everyone’s gazes quickly pierced him.
「I knew it, you’re a loli…」
「I don’t remember him being like that.」
「I won’t give Mira to you.」
「I’m telling you I’m not!」
Zef nearly screamed, but his voice did not reach anyone’s heart.
「You all saw it, right. Mira’s ability. I’m just curious about the business that she has, I was thinking there might be something there, that’s all. I have absolutely no feelings I need to be guilty of.」
After making such excuses for about 10 minutes, Zef managed to make them half-believe him and it was true that they were curious about Mira themselves. Since Mira wanted to go to the 6th floor, something might be there, such an expectation was born in their hearts.
「So, Mira, how do you feel about us going together?」
Emera sought Mira’s agreement while she was busy drinking and eating in a corner of the room with Takuto.
「Fine then. I don’t exactly know what is ahead and want you all to return, but… Well, it shouldn’t be an issue.」
She was going to meet one of the nine Wisemen, Soul Howl of The Great Wall. Considering his nature, his hobbies weren’t exactly good and at the worst, it could cause them trauma, but after thinking about it once, she concluded that in case any problems arose, she could just have them on stand-by.
Mira herself came to enjoy being with them and thought that it wasn’t that bad to stay together with them for a little bit longer. Although Soul Howl had terrible hobbies, he definitely wouldn’t go as far as assaulting people. The difference here is that when someone would make a haunted house with various gimmicks in it, he would make one where real corpses are hanging from above.
Mira opened the door to the 6th floor. From this point on, monsters no longer appeared and after walking past the passage, they would arrive at the 6th floor.
A while after they walked through the passage, they reached the upper part of the underground cave. Most of the cave’s floor was raw bedrock, and by the shore on the right there were stairs carved from the rock itself. However, these stairs did not look too reliable despite being quite wide.
「Woohyoo! So that’s how it looks like.」
Zef timidly peeked inside. The 6th floor was illuminated by countless crystals shining on the dome-shaped walls.
Mira ceased her spell light and the rest of the party extinguished the fire in their lanterns.
「Well, well, I wonder how he’s doing.」
Muttering to herself, Mira took Takuto’s left hand and proceeded downstairs.
「It certainly is high.」
「The leader would probably faint in here.」
After Emera took a little peek down, she followed Mira, sticking to the wall. Asbar already put on a wry smile but quickly regained his composure and started descending the stairs. Fricca knew a concept magic that reduced falling speed so instead of faltering, she had spare time to worry for the leader of the Écarlate Carillon.
Zef was fine with the height and was primarily busy teasing Emera.