|Author: Sasaki Ichiro||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2682 characters|
|Translator: Tanaka||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1207 words|
In the outskirts of Alra, the capital city of the Amitia Republic, lies a colossal dungeon known as the ‘Princess’ Snare.’ Spanning a staggering 70 floors, it harbors untold mysteries and dangers within its depths.
Within the 20th floor, renowned as a treacherous trial for novice adventurers, a young boy adorned in the garb of an adventurer finds himself surrounded by a pack of skeletal hounds. With a swift stroke of his sword, he effortlessly cuts them down, yet the onslaught seems unending.
“Curses! Will they ever stop?” The boy grumbles, his frustration apparent. Despite his irritation, he remains composed, skillfully maneuvering his blade to dispatch each foe with precision.
However, it becomes evident that the true power lies within the enchanted sword he wields. Emitting a radiant glow, it serves as a purifying force, its white mana-infused light banishing the unholy creatures.
Ordinarily, magic swords are the domain of knights, nobles with deep pockets, or seasoned adventurers. Yet, this young boy dons the attire of a typical adventurer, clad in leather armor reinforced with metal plates for protection.
While his equipment is exceptional for someone his age, the presence of the magic sword seems incongruous in his hands.
Finally, the boy manages to repel the skeletal horde and takes a moment to catch his breath. Wiping the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand, he surveys his surroundings, his gaze filled with a mixture of relief and concern.
“…What a stroke of misfortune. I got separated in the chaos of the ambush. Well, Fiore is with Johnson’s team, so she should be safe…” The boy murmurs.
As he contemplates the situation, he realizes that he had entrusted his belongings and provisions to the porter of Johnson’s team, leaving him now lost and uncertain of his whereabouts. The weight of his predicament bears down on him, and a sense of desolation washes over him.
“Hmm? Joey, what brings you to this place?” Suddenly, a familiar, melodic voice reminiscent of silver bells reaches his ears.
“—Delish, so delicious.”
As Hiyuki watched Joey voraciously devour the sandwiches she had brought out, his expression more ravenous than that of a starved goblin, she couldn’t help but be dumbfounded. She poured some tea from the pot into a cup she retrieved from her storage bag and handed it to him.
“You know, you might choke if you eat so recklessly. Here, have some black tea. Just be careful, it’s hot.”
“Oh, thank you! Mmm, this is delicious too. It feels like all my fatigue is melting away.”
It was unclear whether he was savoring the flavors or simply devouring the food to satiate his hunger, but Joey continued to munch on the stack of sandwiches and cream puffs with gusto.
“Well, it’s no wonder. Both the sandwiches and cream puffs have an HP restoration effect… By the way, what are you doing in this place?”
“Hmm? Well, it’s a bit of a long story. Basically, a group of my D-rank and C-rank friends suggested we challenge the boss on the 20th floor. But when we arrived here, we were ambushed by a swarm of skeleton dogs.”
“But man, you really saved me. Your food is unbelievably delicious!” Joey exclaimed before returning his attention to the food in front of him.
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“So, what happened next?” Hiyuki inquired.
“—Huh? Well, that’s pretty much the gist of it,” Joey replied with a shrug.
Hiyuki let out a sigh of exasperation. Joey’s story was not only brief, despite his claim otherwise, but he also seemed to have missed the point of how he ended up in such a state. She had to piece together the events in her own way.
“So basically, your group of newbie adventurers collaborated to challenge the boss room on the 20th floor, which has a teleportation magic circle. The plan was to defeat the 20th floor boss, unlock the teleportation magic circle, and use it as a bridge to explore the lower floors. However, before you could find the boss room, you were ambushed by a swarm of skeleton dogs. As the one wielding the most firepower, the light magic sword, you bravely fought to protect your friends but ended up being left alone and hungry… something like that, right?”
“….Were you watching?”
“You don’t need to tell me for me to figure it out. But seriously… Do you not understand the difference between chivalry and recklessness? If you keep living like this, you won’t even know when you’ll meet your end— ah, you’ve already experienced that, huh. Then I guess you’re beyond redemption…”
Hiyuki sighed as she watched Joey, as if observing a patient with an incurable disease.
Of course, Joey remained oblivious to Hiyuki’s gaze as he finished the last sandwich, expressing his gratitude and rubbing his now bulging stomach like a ball.
“As long as it fills you… Ah, you have some cream on your lips.”
‘Shouldn’t one eat enough to satisfy hunger without overdoing it on the battlefield?’ With that thought in mind, Hiyuki gently wiped the corner of Joey’s mouth with a lace handkerchief, treating him like a mischievous younger brother.
“H-Huh!?… Stop. Don’t use such an expensive handkerchief…”
“Don’t worry about it. Handkerchiefs are meant to be used.”
Trying to distract himself from the combined scents of perfume, the sweet fragrance of a girl, and the close proximity of a petite and soft body that made his face flush and his heart race, Joey’s eyes darted around until he noticed a heavy stone-built door ahead in the woods from where they were.
“Ah. — Could it be, the boss room on the 20th floor!?”
Following his gaze, Hiyuki adjusted her posture and turned in that direction.
“Let’s see. Ah, indeed it is. This is the boss room. But it’s dangerous, so don’t get too close.”
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Joey stood up and took shaky steps toward the door. But before he could reach it, his shoulder was grabbed from behind.
“Didn’t you hear what I said? It’s too dangerous to face the boss alone, so be careful not to get too close.”
“No, I finally found a spot nearby. You know, since I got separated from the team, I thought a conspicuous location would make it easier for them to find me. And the most conspicuous place here is the boss room. Ah, also, our original goal was to reach the boss room. So, wouldn’t it be better to wait nearby?”
He rambled on, coming up with excuses off the top of his head, but deep down, he was driven by simple curiosity. Still, from a logical standpoint, his plan made sense.
Well, Hiyuki didn’t have much to lose if she tagged along, but she didn’t intend to interfere any further in the affairs of adventurers. Besides, she herself was like a hidden boss in this dungeon, so it would be odd to show favoritism toward an acquaintance.
Reluctantly, Hiyuki nodded. “….Your idea seems reasonable. Just make sure not to enter the gate, understood?”
“Relax, have some faith in me.”
Watching Joey’s expression, which resembled that of a child who had just received a new toy, Hiyuki chased after his energetic footsteps, feeling a mix of overwhelming unease and curiosity.