――Two girls were facing each other in a dark corridor.
The corridor was wide enough for three adults to walk side-by-side, and even though there was a little light from a candle, it was too dark to see what was ahead, which alone gave away the fact that it was a huge building.
The wooden floor, which must have been very old and unkempt, creaked and made a screeching sound whenever someone walked by. The walls, which must have originally been a beautiful white, were now faded, the wallpaper was peeling off and cracks were visible in many places.
The two girls facing each other in such a place were like twins.
One has long black hair and blood-red eyes, and stares at the other girl with furrowed brows, as if she’s trying to impose her strong will on her opponent.
The other is a girl with long black hair of exactly the same length and eyes as gold as the moon.
Unlike the girl with the red eyes, this one had a somewhat relaxed expression on her face, and she was able to take on the intense gaze of the girl with the red eyes.
「 Betty, you can go for it 」
The red-eyed girl opened her mouth, somehow her pronunciation was like that of a young child, but her voice was serious and slightly shaky.
The girl with golden eyes hesitantly turned over and stopped with her fist on her chin, but eventually caught the girl with the red eyes with just her gaze and smiled viciously, as if her mouth had been ripped open.
「 Are you sure? Kuku, fine then. Yes, this is the whole reason I pretended to accompany you. That body belongs to me now, and you can be locked in a mental cage in my place for all eternity, kukuku, hahahaha, hahahaha!! 」
「 Ugh, that’s a lie, don’t do it Betty!」
「 No, stop it! Stop!!」
「Toto-dono, what’s wrong!!」
The door opened with a resounding bang as I was left sprawled out, unable to comprehend the situation, with the familiar ceiling in my sights, and then my eyes met with Luttie’s as she entered the room.
「 Eh, eh, Luttie?」
「 Are you all right? I heard a scream, which is unusual for Toto-dono to do so……」
I’m sure I’m in my room. I feel like I’ve been having a horrible dream, but I can’t remember what it was like, just a vague picture of the scene.
「……? I’m fine, probably just had a bad dream 」
「 A nightmare, if Toto-dono is so afraid of it, it must be really terrifying. 」
「 Mou, I can’t remember much about it. I’m sorry for making you come over so late in the night. 」
「 No, I was already awake because it was almost time for me to leave for the Order. 」
「 Ah, is that so 」
Looking out the window, I can already see the sun shining and the dust glittering in the air. I usually get up much earlier, but I guess I overslept.
It’s been six days since Helvetia stopped showing up, and in my half-asleep mind I think that I might be more mentally disturbed than I thought.
For some reason, Helvetia, who had made disturbing comments that day, hadn’t shown up. She had been gone for long periods of time before, but none of them had caused any problems, and I hadn’t called for her.
If I had talked in my sleep like I did today, she would have shown up complaining, 『 What’s with all the noise in the morning 』.
「 Now then, I’ll be going. 」
「 Un, have a good day 」
As I rubbed my eyes and got out of bed, Luttie returned to her room to put on her armor before heading out, so I continued to lightly unwind and headed for the washroom.
I woke up late and didn’t want to bother with making breakfast, so I went to the Adventurer’s Guild to have breakfast there, and was beckoned by the receptionist, just like six days ago.
「 Toto-san, Toto-san 」
「 Umm, I’m still going to breakfast!」
「 Eh……okay 」
No matter how excited she looked, I told her, 「 I want to eat breakfast.」 first and walked toward the table to order a sandwich or bread at the counter.
After eating my sandwich, I left my seat and went to the reception desk, tilting my head to the side because the lady at the reception desk looked troubled.
「 Virgilio-san hasn’t come back.」
「 Eh? 」
When I put my hand on the counter to show my face, the lady at the reception desk said something like that, and I could only tilt my head in reaction.
I don’t know much about Virgilio-san, but he’s been an A Rank adventurer for a long time, and I don’t think he’s the kind of person who would go missing that easily around here.
「 Isn’t he supposed to be here by now already? 」
「 No, not yet, the deadline was close, so we were expecting to receive his report by the end of yesterday. 」
「 Can’t you wait for a bit more, should I look for him? 」
「 Are you sure? He was supposed to investigate the haunted house that I showed you earlier. 」
「 But now the high ranking people are out, and there’s no one but Toto-san I can rely on. 」
Hmmm, I wonder if the Knights only work on urgent matters, or matters that might harm the residents, or on time when even high rank adventurers can’t do anything about it.
It says that this request is an investigation, so it doesn’t seem urgent, and I don’t think Virgilio-san’s disappearance will be enough for them to act. That is likely the reason why they have other adventurers to assist.
But it’s a haunted house. If things look bad, all I could do is run away as fast as you can. I’d like to think that Virgilio-san might be on his way in the first place, but I’m not sure whether that’s just me being too optimistic.
「 I’ll try. Tell me what the request is like.」
「 Okay, now for the details on the request form, there is an overnight lodging for carriages halfway between Aries and Cainesteria, right? 」
「 There’s a place, something like a house?」
「 It is said that the area used to be a small village, though the residents have moved to Aries and Cainesteria due to various reasons. 」
「 Is that rest area safe?」
「 Apparently, they’ve been operating there for a long time and haven’t had any problems. 」
Hmm, then why did she suddenly ask me to investigate the haunted house in the first place.
「 Why was I selected first?」
「 Apparently, there was an argument with a party of adventurers at that inn, and the adventurer said, 『 I’m free so checking out a haunted house is good 』 and then disappeared. He didn’t come back to the carriage the next day, and didn’t even return to get his belongings even though he left them at the inn overnight. 」
「 I see, that’s why when that party returned, you came to ask me 」
「 That’s right, and I also asked Virgilio-san the same question as I asked Toto-san that day, and he was interested in it, so he said, 『 It won’t take long, just wait and see.』 and so he went to investigate it, but never came back 」
So, although it is called a 《 Haunted House 》 there is a chance that even if it’s called that, ghosts might not appear in the place.
However, if there are monsters around the place that are strong enough to defeat Virgilio-san, I don’t understand why the inn is safe even at night.
Anyway, I guess I’ll have to go check it out.
「 Okay, I’ll go check it out. 」
「 Yes, take care. 」
I jumped off the counter and headed to the tool shop. I don’t want to do any in-depth research, but I need a spare tool bag and I should prepare a lot of things since I don’t know what to expect.
I don’t use the tools I bought very often, so I have some left over in my tool bag though.
After buying more food and putting it in my tool bag, I greeted the gatekeeper and walked out of the city, stretching once while looking at the meadow spreading as far as I could see.
Now then, if I run as fast as I can, it won’t take me more than two hours, and since it’s called a haunted house, I definitely want to finish before it becomes dark.
I take out the pocket watch from my pocket and look at it. The time is still ten o’clock, so there’s still a lot of time left.
「 Alright, then let’s go 」
I put my pocket watch back in my pocket and started to run with all the strength in my legs.