108 Part 2

“So, Karaboshi… What on earth did you do?”

“Ugh!”

Karen, who emerged from out of the fissure, stared at Haruki.

“Ah, Karen! I’m impressed you could climb through this fissure so quickly! You’ve definitely improved a lot!”

“Are you trying to change the topic?”

“Ugh!”

He was like an open book.

Haruki slowly retreated.

A smile started to appear on Karen’s face.

At the same time, a tremendous amount of energy starts emanating from her body.

Haruki shivered.

Now that he was able to see Karen’s energy, it made Karen’s smile even more dreadful.

Intimidated by Karen, Haruki got on his knees on the spot.

He then explained how he had split Kamui Rock in half.

“See, I knew it. It was you after all, Karaboshi…”

Yes, it had been his doing.

But of course, Haruki didn’t expect this to happen.

Still, Karen seemed to be aware of that as well.

With a bitter smile and a “Please consider your own strength when doing things”, no further chase was made regarding the incident in Kamui Rock.

Haruki let out a sigh of relief after being released from Karen’s questioning.

— But why did we end up here of all places?

If the idea of the stairs was just to take them out of the dungeon, it would have made more sense that they led to the entrance.

It made no sense that the stairs led to the top of Kamui Rock instead.

It was also weird that the stairs took them to the inside of the fissure Haruki made earlier.

If the fissure hadn’t been there, Haruki and the others wouldn’t have been able to go out on the other side of the stairs.

A fissure and stairs leading to the top of Kamui Rock, connected to each other.

What did this all mean…?

— Did the fissure I made create those stairs? Or were there already there and the fissure caused them to only reach that far?

An alarm bell rang inside the pondering Haruki’s brain.

He felt as if he was missing something important…

Haruki looked at the landscape from Kamui Rock in order to find out what was wrong.

There was no difference in the sky or in the forest.

The only thing that was different than before was the river.

The river looked as if it had been under a heavy rainfall.

It had a dark ocher tint, and its flow seemed violent.

Had it rained while they were exploring the dungeon?

Whatever happened, Haruki had a bad feeling about that muddy stream.

* * * * * * * * *

The spirits that were created by the will of the dungeon were the ones who would find qualified people and guide them to the trials as challengers.

These spirits would at times drive unqualified people away from the dungeons, and at other times appear outside the dungeons to guide the qualified ones to the right path.

Spirits were created and extinguished depending on whether they were needed or not.

When they disappear, they float in the air like bubbles.

She, too, was a spirit created by the dungeon’s will.

Born as a spirit, she, like all other spirits, were supposed to have no will of their own.

However, she had an ego.

Did the dungeon make a mistake, or was it one of Samaikuru’s pranks?

When she was created by the dungeon’s will, noise from this ground mixed with her.

That noise gave rise to an ego which wasn’t supposed to be there.

However, she had done her job perfectly without being fooled by her own ego.

The challengers that the dungeon found here had been perfectly guided to the land of trials without delay.

There had been no problem with her guidance.

If there had been a single problem with it, that would be…

— Ah, Lady Rhea. Even after I’m gone, please lead a pure, proper, and beautiful life…

She was supposed to guide the challenger to the ground and then disappear.

A soul had been born in this spirit who was supposed to be discarded after its role had been fulfilled.

— This masked man and that plain young lady… And that mischievous little brother of hers… I wonder if they will be able to properly protect Lady Rhea…

She was a bit afraid of disappearing.

She was worried about not being just a spirit meant to disappear after having fulfilled its role.

— I guess I just wanted to be with you all a little longer…

She hated the idea of disappearing like bubbles in the air.

She, Chep, had a wish.

A wish for the best future.

All while knowing that wish wouldn’t come true.

Chep had no other choice but to hope.

If there was a god in this world…

If this wish of hers could be granted…

The time for her disappearance was at hand.

She knew this because her consciousness was steadily leaving her body.

Until that moment when she went completely unconscious, Chep prayed to the heavens over and over, refraining from losing those precious memories she had gained in her short life.

* * * * * * * * *

— Help.

Haruki’s shoulders shivered after hearing that voice so close to his ears all of a sudden.

He wondered if anyone had whispered into his ears, but there was no one around.

It was a woman’s voice.

But Karen was walking a bit apart from Haruki.

Did he hallucinate it?

Haruki tilted his head to the side.

At that moment, Haruki noticed a slight feeling of discomfort.

Chep, who had been in Karen’s pocket, had suddenly moved to the center of Kamui Rock.

But when?

The more he thought about it, the worse his uncomfortable feeling would get.

Chep’s eyes were devoid of light.

It was as if she was sleeping with her eyes wide open.

Haruki had only seen Chep like that once so far.

That was when she was about to boil herself to death in the mixed bath.

Perhaps she had gotten sick?

“Hey, are you o–!?”

As he was about to ask if Chep was okay, his words got stuck in his throat.

A monster had suddenly appeared in front of Haruki.

It appeared without any warning, no preamble, and no indication.

It was a monster completely made out of armor.

He was piercing the ground with a greatsword, holding its handle with both hands.

Haruki’s spine shivered at the sight of that jet black knight.

That jet black knight’s appearance had been very unusual.

Haruki always kept his Detection skill active.

And still, he hadn’t realized the monster was there until it showed itself.

It hadn’t been hiding anywhere.

It was as if it had just spawned there out of nowhere.

The identity of the jet black knight was unknown.

Haruki had no way to assume how strong it was.

That in itself was very strange.

Haruki couldn’t take that out of his head even for a moment.

Cold sweat ran down Haruki’s back.

Furthermore, the black knight was covered with a thick layer of energy, just like Karen was.

It was overwhelmingly thicker than Haruki’s.

That difference in energy made Haruki feel that there was an overwhelming difference in ability between himself and the enemy.

The primal fear he had forgotten about so long ago made him look into himself.

His instinct shouted at him to run away.

However, Haruki didn’t move.

No, he couldn’t move.

Overwhelmed by this black knight’s presence, Haruki was unable to move a finger.

The black knight calmly stood there with his hands on the greatsword that was stuck into the ground.

There was no weak spot in his posture.

Haruki could easily imagine a future in which even if he slashed at it with all his might, the black knight would make short work of him.

— Then, what should I do…?

Karen’s voice echoed inside the ears of Haruki, whose forehead was dripping with cold sweat.

“At your feet, Karaboshi!”

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