We took a step into the darkness, heading straight into the large hole in the enormous tree.

The ground was a bit muddy, but not enough to make us slide and fall.

It was actually easier to walk in here than among all those trees outside.

The deeper we walked into this cave, the colder the air felt.

That may be because no sunlight ever gets in here.

Nothing but our steps could be heard in the silence that filled the cave.

“Puru! Where are you?”

She kept calling out while walking, but there was no answer.

I wasn’t sure how exactly this tiny animal would actually react to being called out like that, but it felt weird that a clever hamster like Puru wouldn’t answer to Cosette’s voice.

“Looks like we’re going to have to keep going forward.”

“…Yeah.”

The way ahead didn’t branch off as one would imagine, and instead was a single, straight path.

There was nothing that could be considered an obstacle to human hands.

I didn’t want to be careless, but I couldn’t find signs of any monsters being nearby.

That fact instead redoubled my vigilance.

There was too much nothingness inside the cave.

Then, before we could take another step,

“Puru!”

There was some kind of door made out of countless vine-like things.

But it didn’t seem to have a handle.

Puru was leaning against that door with his forepaws.

It was as if he was trying to tell us that something was on the other side of the door.

Cosette crouches next to Pull.

“Is there something in there?”

She asked, waiting for the hamster’s confirmation.

Puru nodded, hopped onto Cosette’s knees, and climbed all the way up to her shoulders.

Then he whispered something in her ear.

“A voice is coming out from the other side of the door?”

Then, Cosette closed her eyes.

She seemed to be focusing and sharpening her other senses.

Neither Cosette nor I can hear anything, but…

“…”

There was no sound to be heard at all.

The cave was as silent as a graveyard.

“I heard something…!”

The crouched half-elf got up in a hurry.

Then, she placed her hand on the door.

“Mars, there’s someone on the other side of this door!”

Cosette sounded very convinced.

“‘I’m not a bad child. Help me, help me…’ That’s what they’re saying… The voice is so weak I can barely hear it…”

Cosette couldn’t find the words to continue talking.

Perhaps not even she was sure of exactly what was waiting for us behind that door.

But still, she was looking straight at me, so I asked her:

“Do you want to help them?”

“Yes!”

Her eyes were filled with deep sympathy.

“Okay, let’s go then.”

I took out the magic stone and molded a weapon with magic.

“Stay back, Cosette.”

“Ah, sure.”

After making sure Cosette had backed away, I raised my black sword above my head and swung it down.

The sword didn’t even make a sound as it cut through the vine-like things that formed that door.

“All right, let’s go.”

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