◆ Inside the Giant Carriage ◆
The carriage had private rooms and a bed. There was a kitchen, food storage, and other necessities, so I could understand why they said it was for expeditions. There also seemed to be a common bathroom, though it was shared.
And even though it was pulled by such a big horse, it hardly shook.
According to Balm, there is a mechanism in the wheels of this carriage, which he explained to me, but I couldn’t understand it.
It seems that the technology of Metalica is used for this. I recently learned that most of the useful things we use in our daily lives are made in Metalica.
There are many strange things about that country, such as iron ships that can wipe out demons in the sea in an instant. And when I hear the name Metalica, the annoying faces of Zienia and Pratyu come to my mind and I get bothered. They said to come anytime, but I don’t want to be in their care.
「 This promotion exam makes us do all kinds of reckless things every year. I’ve seen a lot of people lose their lives, and it’s not uncommon for people to pass the exam and get an A grade, only to be called up to heaven the next year. This is the year to pass, if not, I’ll quit. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made up my mind to do that… hahaha. 」
Balm often talks to us. Apparently, he lost his wife and child, and he can’t help looking out for kids around our age. In fact, just now, he told us about his past A-rank promotion exams and other things, even though we hadn’t asked. That’s why I felt guilty about stealing his answers.
「 You’re so poison resistant that you can drink up that dragon slayer, it’s so deadly that it can poison even Poison Salamander. It shouldn’t be something you can train yourself to do… 」
Resistance to abnormalities is almost always innate, and it also depends on a person’s personality. For example, a child like Roel, who gets flustered easily, tends to be vulnerable to confusion. I’ve also heard that angry people are prone to berserk.
Some mental abnormalities, such as confusion and berserk, can be managed with a certain amount of training, but almost no one is resistant to poison. It’s certainly strange that a human being could be immune to poison that strong, and I understand this point.
But I’m different. I suffered from poison at the beginning, but now I’m okay with it. I got used to the confusion and berserk after being tormented by it many times. At the time, I thought it was normal, but after listening to Balm and watching others, I started to realize that it wasn’t really normal.
「 Adapting to abnormal conditions, huh… I won’t bore you with the details, although you are an interesting gem as an Alchemist. I don’t want to pry, but it’s hard to imagine that someone like you could be left alone for any length of time. It’s hard to imagine that someone like you will be left alone forever. It’s better to be cautious. 」
For a moment, the two from Metalica crossed my mind. I didn’t think it was possible, but on the other hand, I could see that it might be. Maybe I shouldn’t trust those two after all. But even though Pratyu is a little weird, I don’t think she’s a bad kid.
「 We’ll be arriving at the next exam site soon, right? Before that, let me just brief you on the content. 」
Shinbu started to explain in a high-pitched voice in front of the remaining 300+ people, Fancy Kill, I didn’t really understand the street name but after listening to the rumors of everyone in B Rank, I finally understood how awe-inspiring the guy was.
He has assassinated key figures in criminal organizations, assassinated the commander of a squad of several thousand troops without being detected, and nearly wiped out Floor Monsters all over the continent, all without being harmed. It seems that his flashy outfit is an act of provocation to deliberately show us where he is.
Some people complained about Yuyu because she seems to be kind, but so far, no one has done that to Shinbu. No matter how many unreasonable tests are explained to me from now on, I don’t think it will change.
That’s why no one has mentioned the strange gesture of wriggling her hips. I really wondered what was wrong with her. Is there something wrong with my head?
「 Now that the windows are covered, we can’t see where we’re going, can we? The next test is to escape safely from a certain place, that’s one of the conditions for passing. The other is that I’ll be judging whether you’re strong enough to be A Rank when you try to escape. You should be able to figure out how to prove it by thinking about it. 」
「 So you’re saying that just barely escaping unscathed is a sure-fire way to fail? 」
「 That’s for me to decide. 」
Someone asked a question, but there was no clear answer. It was a little too lax to even explain where we were going or what the place was like. I didn’t expect much from Shinbu, though.
It’s also possible that there are some loopholes in the system that we don’t expect, like Yuyu’s test. On the other hand, there may be pitfalls.
「 Does that mean we’re going to be taken to a Dungeon somewhere? 」
「 Come to think of it, we haven’t been in many dungeons, have we? We went to the Mithril Mines when we were training soldiers, but that was just the entrance. 」
「 I hope it’s not a weird place… 」
I definitely think it’s a weird place. It’s not normal to be keeping us in the dark until we get there, no matter what how you think about it. And according to the current explanation, this giant carriage is heading deep into the Dungeon. So it can’t be a cave.
After two hours of riding in this carriage, it became clear. However, we could not see anything outside the window. No, to be precise, it was covered in white. Visible, but white, that is.
◆ Foggy Dungeon, Mist Village ◆
It was in this fog that the giant carriage was pushing forward. I can see some trees in the distance, so maybe it’s a forest. And what’s interesting is this muddy sludge. It looked like it had just rained. I wondered what this place was, surrounded by fog and white on the right, left and above.
「 We’ve arrived. 」
「 Shinbu-san, are you out of your mind? 」
「 You guys are going to be A Rank, right? If that’s the case, you need to be able to get past this Mist Village. 」
Everyone in B Rank was buzzing and upset. Mist Village, that’s the name of this place.
「 Well, well, this is Mist Village, as you know. It used to be a big village until more than 50 years ago, when it was suddenly destroyed by floods. None of the inhabitants survived, and it’s been recorded as an unprecedented disaster on this continent. It’s been more than fifty years, and the scaffolding still hasn’t erased the traces of the disaster, which is strange, even at this point. 」
Shinbu looked around and then resumed his explanation. Even at a time like this, he never stopped making that wiggling motion with his hips.
「 The problem is this fog, including the strength of the monsters within. The reason why the survival rate in this dungeon is so low is because of this fog, right? In addition, the footholds are like this, and in some places it’s a bottomless swamp, so be careful. 」
「 Mist Village…Danger Level is 44, and even A Rank adventurers don’t come back here sometimes… 」
「 Man-eating mist… I’ve heard rumors about it, but is it true? 」
At this point, almost half the people were already getting scared. It’s amazing that those gigantic horses and giant carriages were able to step into a place like this without a care in the world. That means, at least, that the demons in the Dungeon here are weaker than the Gigahorse.
It’s a great atmosphere, but this level of environment is nothing compared to the Cave of the Abyss. Fog, bottomless swamps, and demons. Maybe there are ghostly demons too, and that’s Roel’s specialty. Looking at the motivated Roel clutching the Fire Rod, it’s easy to see that it’s not as scary as it seems, even from her.
「 Of course, you can withdraw here, and in that case, I’ll take you back to the exit in the carriage, so don’t worry. Protecting your life when you feel threatened is a strength and a choice, nothing to be ashamed of. 」
I don’t know why he would say such a thing after arriving there. But there were people who were actually shaken by what they saw, and that might be more effective in strengthening their resolve to decline.
I glanced over at Balm, and of course Kank and Marilyn showed no signs of declining. Seeing that they’re yawning widely again here, I wonder if they’re capable of surpassing this level of Dungeon with ease.
「 It’s a bit of a challenge there, but you Bobs, I’m not going to back down. 」
「 If you get stuck in a swamp with that big figure, you might never be able to crawl out again. If you want, I can get Master Josh to lead the way. 」
「 Shut up! You’re selling a fight again! 」
After that, Bobs and Josh were conspicuously unfazed. Bobs, in particular, snapped his fingers, eagerly awaiting the start of the exam. The merchant who gave him that money to get through the first test is checking his money, and the Knight is standing quietly.
「 Whoever runs away should run away as soon as possible. Hey Shinbu-san, let’s get started already. We’re getting tired of waiting. 」
「 Thirty-one decliners here… Oh, I’m going to head to the exit with this carriage, but there’s no point in you following me. 」
As soon as he finished saying that, Shinbu disappeared from the scene. Soon after, the huge carriage itself disappeared. It seemed to have disappeared from the scene, as if blending into the background. When the surprised people rushed to the spot where the carriage had been, it was really disappeared.
I don’t know what kind of skill it is, but I think it was Shinbu. It’s not that he’s really gone, but that he’s invisible. The evidence of this is the faint sound of Gigarthorse’s raspy snorting. I don’t know why I can’t hear the earth shaking when Gigarthorse walks, but it must be Shinbu’s skill. This must be Shinbu’s skill. I’m jealous of your surprisingly versatile skills.
「 Damn, this place is creepy as hell. 」
Bobs walked off into the fog and disappeared. The test takers left here were varied. Those who had withdrawn, and now those who were confused. There are at least 200 people here, but I wonder how many of them will make it through.
「 Ryua-chan, we should just get out of here, right? Which way should we head? 」
「 I don’t know, either. Do you want to follow that Bobs guy? 」
「 Hee hee, sweet. That’s not good, you know. That guy will die for sure. Actually, I have a relatively safe route… though of course, I can’t give it to you for free. 」
Before I knew it, a merchant came up to us and told us something. I politely refused because the price was 4,000 gold, and with a wry smile, the merchant also disappeared into the mist.
By the time I was ready to follow him, he was nowhere to be seen. I noticed that the other test takers were slowly disappearing as well. I wondered if they had made up their minds and started walking. Balm was also gone.
「 An, anyway, shall we start walking? 」
「 Yes, let’s. If we get lost, I can carry Roel on my back and run. 」
「 Oh, like when we did that thing in Avangard Castle Town? That’s a little embarrassing… 」
「 No one’s going to see us anyway. The scaffolding is bad, so we can use trees all over the place. 」
Shinbu was right, the footholds were so bad that I was sometimes sinking up to my ankles. It was terrible that Shinbu hadn’t told us that we were coming here beforehand. If some people are going to lose their lives in such a dangerous place, they should at least be prepared.
【 Poison Zombie has appeared! HP 644】
【 Marsh Snake appears! HP 503】
A snake appeared from under the mud at your feet and suddenly tried to bite me. It’s not a bad way to surprise me, but I’ll give it 50 points because the moment it comes out, the mud itself momentarily surges. I grabbed it by the side and pulled it out. I was even surprised at how long it was when I pulled it out from under the mud.
I wondered if the other zombie was a former villager. No, judging from the rusty armor, it was a former adventurer. Was it lost here and died? All of his hair had fallen out, and I couldn’t even tell his gender. It was a wonder why his eyeballs were still there. I felt sorry for him, but he was just a monster now, and I had no choice but to defeat him.
【 Marsh Snake defeated! HP0/503】
【 Roel has used Fire Rod, dealing 1866 damage to Poison Zombie!
【 Poison Zombie has been defeated!】
The Fire Rod is not a very powerful wand. I’m not sure how I feel about that effect. It was more like evaporating than burning up.
「 Wow, I’m getting stronger! Hey, Ryua, how are you doing? 」
Roel seemed happy, which made me happy, too. She’s a bit of a klutz when she spins around and almost missed her foothold, but it’s cute.
◆ In front of the abandoned village of Dungeon Mist Village ◆
Decayed wooden houses stand everywhere. The roofs have long since rotted away, and most of the houses have only walls. There is a well in the center. There was a wooden bucket for drawing water, and we could see the traces of the lives of the people who used to live here. It was hard to find a foothold, as the area was completely submerged. For some reason, the fog was a little thinner here, so the whole view was relatively, easily visible.
「 People used to live here, didn’t they? 」
I said to myself, and I suddenly felt sad. I wondered if the village I lived in, Ikana, would look like this. It’s a creepy abandoned village, but before it became like this, there might have been women laughing in front of the well, and children playing in front of the houses. The atmosphere was so similar to my village that I almost cried a little.
「 Hey Roel…Roel? 」
Roel, who was supposed to be next to me, was gone. There was no way she could have gone anywhere on her own, and when I hurriedly looked around, there was no sign of her.
「 Roel, where did you go? 」
「 …Ah… 」
I heard a faint voice coming from somewhere. As I listened intently in the silent, foggy town, a light came on in a house at the back. That’s ridiculous, there’s no way anyone lives here.
「 Who’s there? 」
「 …Ryua. 」
「 Who is it? How did you know my name? 」
The house was the one I used to live in. The house had been in shambles, but now it was clean, and smoke was coming out of the chimney on the roof. The fog had completely lifted, and I could see everything.
「 Ryua, welcome back. 」
I heard his voice for the first time in ten years. My mother was waiting for my father to come home from working in the fields and cooking me a warm meal. The image of her standing in front of the door was blurred by tears.