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118 Part 2
“But really, where did you come from?”
Haruki took the bird in his hand, but it replied with a “Pi?” and tilted its tiny head again.
It was as if it was asking him “What do you mean?”
The window was open but the mosquito screen was closed.
The door to the room was closed as well.
There was nowhere it could have entered from.
“Don’t tell me…”
Suddenly realizing, Haruki reached for the backpack he always took with him into the dungeon.
He searched for the mysterious egg-shaped stone that he had found in the secret room the day before, but couldn’t find it.
Instead, he found some thin stone shards under the jar that was packed with Potato Stones.
They were the same color as the egg-shaped stone he had found the previous day.
There was no mistaking it.
This tiny white bird had been born from that egg-shaped stone.
“But how can you be born from a stone…?”
While the stone looked like an egg, it had felt solid to the touch.
There was no way he could have expected a tiny bird to hatch from it.
Just as Haruki took one of those shards out of his backpack and looked at it, the little bird jumped up and landed on Haruki’s head.
After hearing a sweet chirp that seemed to be asking “Can’t I?”, Haruki’s face melted as if he had been enjoying the sweetest piece of candy.
— It’s soooo cuuuute…
At that moment, Haruki felt a chill run down his spine.
It was an intense kind of chill that he didn’t normally feel while inside a dungeon.
The source of this chill was the entrance to his own room.
As Haruki immediately turned around to see what it was…
He suddenly gasped.
The door to his room opened slightly, and leaves could be seen popping in from the other side.
Rhea was staring at Haruki as if she was some kind of housekeeper with a thing for peeping on others.
All while releasing a poisonous aura from her body…
Esta, who had been peeping into the room as well, quickly scurried away as if saying “Ah, I’m busy, busy, I have to keep an eye on the house”.
“Ah, wait, this isn’t what it looks like–”
Rhea turned her face (?) away and vanished from the door.
Haruki hurriedly went after Rhea.
Why was he in a hurry, and why was he so scared? What was he even scared of to begin with? Still, Haruki felt that he had to try to stop Rhea and explain himself.
Persuading Rhea took Haruki about 30 minutes in total.
It had consisted of a nerve-wracking series of tasks.
He had to be extra careful with his words. He couldn’t just say “You look beautiful today”, because that would spark a fit as Rhea would react as if saying “What do you mean, today? Am I not beautiful everyday?”
He hadn’t felt such stress ever since he had to deal with a customer that looked like a yakuza on his last job.
These had been the longest 30 minutes in Haruki’s entire life.
After a disheartened Haruki had finished his preparations and left for the dungeon, Karen, who had been waiting at the dungeon’s entrance, ran over to Haruki with a short trot.
“Good morning, Karaboshi… Huh?”
Karen looked at Haruki’s head and squinted.
Tilting her head, she was staring at the top of Haruki’s head from every angle.
“You’ve tamed a regular animal!”
That was something strange for Karen to be pointing out.
“What do you mean by ‘regular animal’?”
“Well, you’ve been taming nothing but special creatures so far, haven’t you?”
“What do you take me for!?”
It was as if she thought that Haruki had been going out of his way in order to tame only “special creatures”.
Haruki calmly stared back at Karen.
Obviously, Haruki wanted to be able to tame both regular animals and monsters alike.
It just hadn’t happened up until that point.
He hadn’t done anything wrong.
“Are you going to eat it?”
“What are you talking about!?”
— Guess I’ll just have to explain.
Haruki pressed his fingers against his temples.
“When I woke up, the egg had hatched.”
“Egg…? Are you talking about that stone we got yesterday?”
“Oooh. That’s so nice. I… want one too.”
While there were some things that Karen didn’t say, Haruki did see her taking a few fleeting glimpses towards her pocket.
Fully understanding what she was trying to say, Haruki nodded, knowing he couldn’t blame her for feeling that way.
The enthralled Karen, who wanted to experience the bird’s fluffiness, moved her hand towards Haruki’s head.
However, the tiny bird was scared by her sudden movement, and hid inside Haruki’s feather necklace.
“Don’t scare her like that”
“Hmph… By the way, what kind of bird is it?”
“Who knows? She was born out of a stone after all.”
Haruki shook his head.
He wasn’t very familiar with birds. The most he could do was tell pigeons and crows apart.
Moreover, this bird seemed to have been born from the egg-shaped stone.
Was she a regular animal that came from the forest, or was she a monster from the dungeon?
Haruki had no way to know what kind of bird she was.
“Maybe Akane would know?”
“Ah. Maybe she would, since she can appraise materials and such.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“You’re treating this bird as some kind of material?”
Karen intensely stared at Haruki.
“… I have no ulterior motives.”
“Are you sure?”
Haruki denied it, but Karen didn’t seem to trust him.
— Why, though?
He put his hand over his chest, unable to understand.
“Should we let Akane see her for the time being?”
Haruki opened the prefab and went inside.
Akane welcomed Haruki with a smile.
Her attitude was different than usual, which sparked suspicion in Haruki’s eyes.
“What’s with that look on your face?”
“Ah, you just seem a bit suspicious, that’s all.”
“W-What? I’m not doing anything suspicious at all!?”
She wasn’t doing anything “weird” or “impolite”, nothing suspicious at all.
But the way she spoke was suspicious enough. Haruki’s doubts only got worse.
“B-By the way, Air. Do you know what’s going on in Japan right now?”