60 Part 2

What exactly does it taste like?

While imagining its taste, Haruki lifted the spoon worm high up and turned it inside out.

“Ugh—”

As Karen groaned, Haruki quickly decided to put the spoon worm away in his backpack.

Karen looked as if she was ready to throw it away as garbage, though.

After receiving the magic bag from Karen, he stored the spoon worm inside.

In the end, the 10th floor was a “food floor”, where food monsters appeared.

Knowing that, Haruki rubbed his chest in relief and hunted more spoon worms to his heart’s content.

* * * * * * * * *

“So… can you really eat these?”

“That’s right…”

Having previously obtained hot stones, Haruki decided to use them to grill the spoon worms in a brazier.

The only reason Akane was nearby was so that she could learn how to use those magical heating tools.

It was by no means to share in Haruki’s meal.

However, she had her personal chopsticks in her hand, which she had brought with her from who knows where.

She might have been planning to eat at some point.

“You don’t have to eat if you don’t want to, it’s fine.”

“Never mind me, there’s so much of it already that I ought to try a bit at least.”

“Don’t you know the saying ‘Those who do not work, do not eat’?”

The only ones who hunted the spoon worms were Haruki and Karen.

Akane hadn’t killed a single spoon worm.

It wasn’t because she hadn’t been able to fight.

Even if she fought, she wouldn’t have been able to defeat the spoon worms.

That is not to say that Akane was weak.

Rather, despite being startled and crying during the fight, her movements were swift and strong. Haruki had been watching her the whole time.

However, when Akane was busy fighting with a spoon worm, another spoon worm would appear from behind her.

That second spoon worm would then gulp her up from her head.

That happened several times during the fight.

According to Karen, Akane had been swallowed by the spoon worms “one too many times for a day’s worth”.

So in short, Akane hadn’t been able to defeat a single spoon worm.

–Or had she?

To Haruki, Akane seemed to be letting herself get swallowed by the spoon worms on purpose.

It was certainly a strange way to attract the monsters’ attention.

He was about to ask her about it, but Akane seemed to notice his intention and put her index finger in front of her mouth as if asking him to shut up.

Her eyes were filled with a strong light like he had never seen before.

(… Got it.)

There must have been some point to her doing that.

Having guessed as much, Haruki simply decided to leave it to Akane.

That had surely been necessary in order to help Karen grow stronger.

Haruki couldn’t understand why it had been necessary to do it like that, though…

“Hey, it’s getting burned there.”

“Hey!”

“Come on, turn it over!”

This girl…

Disappointed, Haruki turned the spoon worms over so they wouldn’t burn.

When exposed to heat in a brazier, the spoon worms bent backwards.

The scent of the grilled spoon worms crawled into Haruki’s nostrils, causing his mouth to overflow with saliva.

It was a wonderful smell reminiscent of a beach.

Haruki’s stomach began to growl as if urging the worms to be ready.

“Hey, Karen. These are already done, so you can have them first.”

“Ah, thank you very much.”

“Hey, those are mine, aren’t they?”

“…”

Was someone who wasn’t a team member and didn’t help with the harvesting entitled to enjoy the meal afterwards?

“If you want to eat, then hunt spoon worms. Then you can eat as many as you want.”

“Eeeh!? Come on! Don’t say that! Aw, come oooon!”

Haruki kept on roasting spoon worms while ignoring Akane.

Since they were eating, Haruki took off his mask and put it aside.
Akane then pointed at the mask and began to talk.

“Well, look at you! It seems you have an unexpectedly impressive presence, Air… I mean, Haruki!”

“Cut it out, you.”

That was enough.

That wasn’t Haruki. It was just a mask!

Haruki began to ignore Akane even more.

“Well, here goes nothing…”

Karen takes a bite of her serving of grilled spoon worms.

Her face was a bit stiff at first, but after taking that first bite, her face loosened up instantly.

“Mhmmm…”

Even after having gulped down the spoon worm, her face was in a state of daze.

It seemed as if it had been the tastiest thing she had ever eaten in her life.

When someone eats something really tasty, they often say something like “It’s delicious!”, or “This is great!” while overcome with surprise.

As he watched Karen’s blissful facial expression, Haruki took his first bite.

“…”

The words wouldn’t come out.

Haruki was unable to say a single word.

It was crunchy, and its taste spread through his entire mouth every time he chewed.

It tasted like milk mussels.

But its texture was different.

That texture greatly enhanced the spoon worms’ taste.

To think that the people of Hamamasu had this kind of food all to themselves!

How inexcusable of them!

Haruki and Karen keep digging into their servings.

Even if they wanted to stop eating, their chopsticks wouldn’t stop bringing food to their mouths.

But they didn’t even want to stop.

All they wanted to do was to keep tasting that delicious flavor for another second before taking another bite.

But there was no use wishing for that.

The stars started to appear in the sky, and the air became chilly as the sun started to recede.

And that whole time…

“My serving… Where’s my serving… Wahahaahhh!”

The only sound that could be heard across the rural field was the wailing of  the one person who could not enjoy a single serving of spoon worms.

* * * * * * * * *

“Muscle is power!”

『I’m back safely ★』

Hey everyone, long time no see!

It’s me, your favorite muscle, Bacon!

With Masatsugu’s help, I was able to escape the maze in Shinjuku Station! ★

I appreciate everyone’s concern.

Since I’ve been in a constantly pumped-up state, I ended up losing some body fat.

Thanks to that, my muscles look sharper now!

Are you all exercising properly?

If you do, your muscles will never betray you when you need them most!

Well then.

I have been able to deal with a lot of monsters until now.

I’m ready to go back to my usual self!

So hold your fists tight!

Hold them up in the air!

Doesn’t it make you feel pumped up?

Time to flex!

That’s right!

Let’s get pumped up and take Shinjuku back!

Hustle muscle!

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