After getting traumatized by the cute snow rabbits’ wide maw.
Hajime and co skipped the first passage, watched the past replay of the battle versus frost turtle, and currently they arrived at a high ground where they could look over the immense labyrinth.
They skipped the first passage because there were a lot of corpses sleeping inside the ice wall in a very graphic way. There was no need for the parents to be surrounded by the corpses of many races from various periods when their purpose of coming her was for sightseeing.
For the parents who had the sensitivity of ordinary people……no, Yaegashi family was (non)ordinary, so perhaps such sight would make them start getting various idea instead, but anyway, it would definitely make Shuu and others to feel sick so that place was skipped as consideration for them.
Because of that, Hajime and co were standing before a vast labyrinth right now. It had the width of four km and even just the visible depth reached until one km. The sight further ahead was blocked by spray of snow. It was truly a grand sight.
However, nobody was watching that grand sight right now. Or rather, it wasn’t the time for it.
The cause of it was one.
It was the tragedy that befell a single youth lying on the ground below everyone.
──H-hiii. Ryuutarou-kun is danger!
Perhaps Suzu-chan meant to say that he was “in danger!”, or perhaps she meant the person was dangerous in “that” way. Either way, Suzu-chan’s face was bright red and needed to cover her face with both hands due to the horrible sight before her.
The youth Ryuutarou was there in a shocking semi-nude appearance due to his battered outfit. His crotch was in an especially exposed state.
This sight was the result from a past arbitrary decision right after the person in question saw the labyrinth. Said person got carried away and went “I can run in the air, so I can just run above the labyrinth damn I’m a genius!”.
And then he easily got caught in a teleportation trap. He got imprisoned inside a block of ice at the ceiling where if he didn’t immediately escape, he would keep getting bombarded by the ice pillars from all directions. Kaori tried to save him using disintegration magic but then her focus got slightly distracted due to Yue and her messing around. Because of that Ryuutarou got done in together with the ice cage.
「I can’t help but feel sympathy to him as a fellow man-」
「Although it was his own fault that he got caught……the cost he paid for it was simply too high.」
「Hajime! You……there wasn’t any need to speak honestly like that wasn’t it!? You demon! This son from hell!」
「It’s troubling if you call me like that like I’m a subtype of a wife from hell.」
Tomoichi shouted 「I can’t watch this!」 and covered his face with both hands just like the past Suzu beside her. Koichi and Shuuzou looked up to the sky with a pained expression. Shuu was punching the present Hajime’s shoulder seeing the past Hajime heartlessly exposing the truth that everyone was trying to hide in front of Ryuutarou who was uncomprehending of what was going on.
As a fellow man, there was no way he didn’t understand the pitch black pain that was engraved into Ryuutaro’s history. After all around him was a collection of beautiful girls, every single one of them. And all those girls were keeping a fixed distance from him while they wouldn’t meet his gaze no matter what, and not only that, they were even turning away their body to any direction that wasn’t facing him.
Just watching it huuurts.
「Kaori-, how could you do such thing to Ryuutarou-kun! Did you apologize to him properly!?」
「Uu, Okaa-san……that’s, umm……」
Kaori had at least apologized when Ryuutarou was getting slightly disintegrated along with the ice and screamed, but after that she wouldn’t even approach him after he got told about the shocking truth and his eyes became like the eyes of the dead.
Kaori guiltily averted her gaze from Kaoruko-okaasan’s scolding.
「Now now, Kaoruko-san. Don’t scold her too much okay?」
「It was partly the fault of our Yue-chan too for messing around. We’re really sorry that she loves Kaori-chan so much like that.」
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「Okaa-sama!? It’s not like I’m toward Kaori──」
「Yes yes, I already heard all that before. By the way, Yue-chan. I don’t want to accuse you like this but, you aren’t playing this scene intentionally aren’t you?」
Sumire-okaasan sloo~wly turned around. She was smiling. However, it was a smile with a gaze that was unnaturally dark. You aren’t exposing Ryuu boy’s dark history intentionally aren’t you? She asked her wordlessly.
Yue straightened her back in a snap and she shook her head with all her strength.
「I-it’s a misunderstanding! I simply forgot because it was something that I immediately erased from my memory! Okaa-sama, please believe me!!」
「Yep yep, of course that’s the case. I’m sorry for suspecting you like that. There is no way you have the intention of shaming Sakagami-kun. You also properly put up a mosaic right before iot.」
Yue-chan kept nodding with all her strength. I won’t deceive Sumire-okaasama or rather I can’t! In fact, I really forgot this ever happened. I don’t want to use up my brain’s processing capacity for something like this.
「I, I had also completely erased this incident from my memory. Thank god Yue put up a mosaic over it……」
「It’s true desuuu. Even though I remembered about the trap……」
「W-well, I don’t even want to see a man’s nakedness other than Goshujin-sama’s. It couldst not be helped.」
It seemed that the reason Shizuku and others didn’t put a stop to the scene playing was also the same like Yue. It was great for Ryuutarou seeing how all of them had completely forgotten about his dark history, or perhaps it was something to cry about seeing how far they went to avoid thinking about it.
The way Ryuutarou looked dead in his eyes while looking like he was going to fall on his knees anytime soon from the oppressive atmosphere on his shoulders was truly pitiful.
「Ryuutarou-oniichan……Myuu will treat him kindly the next time we meet nano.」
「L-look here Myuu. In its own way doing that is……listen okay? Saying what you saw here today is absolutely forbidden you know? Just treat him normally, perhaps a bit kinder, okay?」
「If a small girl like Myuu-chan spoke about this incident and then looked at him with a gentle gaze at the end……perhaps he will leave to a journey after that.」
「Okaa-san, don’t say something strange like that……after all Sakagami-kun, he was even hesitating whether to accompany Amanogawa-kun or not when he dropped out from school.」
Akiko was smiling bitterly. In respond Aiko shook her head with the look of someone trying to endure a headache.
In any case, everyone present was in agreement. They should keep quiet about how they had seen this past scene, how some people other than those actually present there had learned about it.
Shia and Tio changed the topic in order to shake off the lingering atmosphere from seeing this past scene.
「Hajime-san, what are we going to do with the labyrinth? I think the sightseeing will go smoothly if the teleportation trap can be removed with the proof of conquest.」
「This place also art nullifying our effort in teleportation. It wouldst take half a day if we pass it using the compass to guide us through the correct route.」
The proof of conquest should at least be able to stop the monsters from appearing, so they would be able to progress through the labyrinth faster than before, but it didn’t change that it would still be somewhat troublesome.
「Hm~……looks like it’s possible.」
Hajime took out the proof of conquest and meddled with the labyrinth’s mechanism. There was a respond. When he tested it by sending an image from his mind, the ice walls at the labyrinth’s entrance melted and froze repeatedly top reconstruct a direct path.
He also glanced at Yue. She replied to him 「……Nn. Space magic is also not hindered. We can teleport」.
The frost type monsters like the frost turtle had also been stopped from appearing, just as shown when they were on their way here, so there was no need to worry. The corner of Hajime’s lips relaxed seeing how well things progressed.
「Well, there isn’t also anything particularly interesting to see here. We won’t get lost thanks to the compass, and even the gimmick to progress straight ahead has been activated using cheat code.」
Hajime suggested that they walked straight ahead while looking around here and there on the way. Shuu and others didn’t really have any objection to that and agreed.
In fact, Hajime and co in the past simply advanced through the labyrinth without any hesitation while defeating the enemies like the Frost Ogre that suddenly appeared from inside the ice wall. While Kouki and others couldn’t detect the monsters before they appeared and got attacked intermittently for half a day which mentally drove them to the wall, but there wasn’t any scene where Hajime’s group got particularly troubled by this place.
But, there was only one scene that was worth seeing……
──Too slow-, fragile-, your guts is lacking! Desuu!
It was the scene of the super rabbit steadily charging through the path to be the bugged rabbit.
It was already amazing enough to watch when she rampaged unrivalled against the great swarm of deformed U-☆chan (Medium sized human cockroach) in the great dungeon of the great tree, but here……
Yes, here Shia’s aura was in different level.
「It’s not like her technique and physical ability increased remarkably but……this is caused completely by her mental growth.」
「Yes. She’s brimming with self-confidence. It’s not just confidence in her strength, but in her whole self, so the sharpness in all her movements increased dramatically.」
「Heart, technique, and body. None of those aspects in her are particularly inferior compared to the other or unbalanced. Her heart was simply above the rest. Perhaps this is the stage where her technique and body is starting to grow rapidly in order to catch up.」
Koichi, Kirino, and Shuuzou, the Yaegashi family members were commenting in admiration.
Facing a Frost Ogre, Shia held her head high, laughed fearlessly, and swung her war hammer freely like it was the extension of her own body. She carried out the term one hit kill in actual practice with confidence overflowing from every single inch of herself.
It wasn’t that she was simply overwhelming in her combat strength. The impression they got was that the charm of the girl called Shia Hauria was blooming in full force at this point.
The Shia that they had seen in the past scenes until now had the flaky atmosphere of a teenage girl with unstable foundation. But that had gone completely in this scene. Even though her speech and action weren’t any different than usual, she was clearly different at the inside. She was shining as a grown up woman with a presence that brought the image of a large tree in their mind. It naturally stolen the sight of all the viewers.
Everyone’s gaze automatically turned toward Hajime.
Because the internal change, the cause of it was already clearly shown.
Myuu walked toward Hajime with her small adorable steps. She pulled lightly at his sleeve and asked an innocent question.
「Papa, papa. What was “that” thing that you did to Shia-oneechaaan?」
「M-Myuu, you caught that-. As I thought, I was a bit late in covering your ears……」
Hajime cleared his throat coarsely. Remia-san pulled away Myuu with a slightly reddening face.
The parents looked very awkward to be present here. They were averting their gaze.
This was caused by what was projected in the past replay. The scene of a conversation with the topic of Shia and Hajime becoming together at the night before they left the sea of trees. There was also the conversation of the two doing something that broke Shia’s waist there.
This was that. This situation was similar when a family was watching movie without worry because it was in television and it had the appropriate PG rating, but then a bedroom scene got played and the adults in the room became awkward.
Even for Shuu and Sumire, this situation where the behind the scene situation of their son and his girlfriend got unexpectedly broadcasted at the open, furthermore in a place where there were a lot of other people was a bit……that was how it felt.
Remia had hurriedly covered Myuu’s ears when the topic came up but, this time she was apparently a bit late in doing that.
Even though everyone else somehow understood the implication of the conversation, she was the only one who was entirely uncomprehending of what “that” could possibly mean. And so Myuu-chan was feeling greatly displeased right now.
In any case, the reason for Shia’s rapid growth mentally was because she was overflowing with absolute confidence, both in herself as a combatant and also as a woman after realizing her dearest wish.
「Hahaa, this is really embarrassing, hehe-. Hajime-san accepted me both in body and heart……yep, at this time I was truly in perfect for desu!」
「……Nn. Shia really felt unrivalled here. After all she even beat me up severely after this in a relatively serious fight.」
Shocked voices overlapped. The voices came from the parents, Myuu, Remia, and then Aiko.
Yue would turn a little bit childish when she was near mother-in-law or Kaori. She liked to screw around at such time and also made some slightly off blunder then.
But, as expected everyone’s foremost impression about her was still that of the strongest first wife. It was a bit unbelievable that someone like her could possibly get beaten up black and blue.
「No, what are you saying Yue-san. You’re exaggerating desu. It was more of an even fight. After all I also gotten beaten up until I couldn’t stand anymore.」
「……Breaking through with nothing more than spirit……power is justice……the unstoppable bugged rabbit……uu, my head-」
It seemed that this great dungeon contained a lot of memories that even the strongest first wife-sama wanted to erase. The expressions of Shuu and others spasmed as they realized that.
They also thought this at the same time. What’s that, I wanna see!
「What’s that, Myuu really want to watch nano!」
Myuu expressed the voice in everyone’s heart. She wondered which was stronger between Yue-oneechan and Shia-oneechan when they fought for real.
The clash between the strongest in magic and the strongest in physical. Such draw card existed? Shuu and Sumire turned their gaze that was full of expectation toward their son.
「Yeah, I also want to watch that. And so, let’s end the sightseeing her and go ahead.」
There wasn’t any objection.
Like that Hajime and co teleported to the last stop of the labyrinth’s first half part.
The parents ooh-ed and aah-ed in admiration seeing the artistically grand door there. They also sighed in exasperation seeing the past Hajime taking out kotatsu and relaxed while collecting the key items using remote control.
They were exasperated. However, in the presence of the self-cleaning function (for both the kotatsu and the user) + automatic fatigue recovery function equipped kotatsu, all the moms and dads fell on their knee before such captivating furniture. Please provide one of that for our house too! They begged.
Actually, a certain Southcloud Company was already distributing this product in Tortus through Yunker Company. It became one of their best sellers. And so the so called Southcloud-san had some of that products in stock and there was no problem in supplying it to the parents.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be long before kotatsu became a tradition at winter even in Tortus. What was truly terrifying was the magic power of kotatsu that encroached even into fantasy world.
By the way, inside the scene where everyone was fortifying their stomach with hotpot cooking, the figure of Shizuku getting fed up seeing Hajime being fed aa~n and the way she was doing her best to cover it up even though objectively speaking she was being completely obvious about it made the present Shizuku to be embarrassed. It went without saying that everyone was smirking and grinning at her in the real world.
Getting back to the topic.
Behind the grand door was the latter half of the labyrinth. Seeing it, the parents, Myuu, Remia, and Aiko raised their voice in admiration.
Shuuzou looked back at his reflection on the wall with deep interest while speaking.
「There is the term “himo kagami” to represent a frozen water surface that is like a mirror, but even that term is insufficient to describe this.」
「It’s a mirror house nano! Myuu had seen it in TV and wanted to try going to one!」
It was just as they said. The degree of reflection couldn’t be described as mere “like”. Such ice surfaces made up this labyrinth. Everything other than their above that was covered by snow spray was at the level of mirror. All these mirrors became opposite mirrors against each other and the figures of the group were projected over and over till far and far forward.
The place was also dimly lid and filled with cold air. Perhaps that was why, this became an eerie place where they naturally felt a faint chill that made their back trembled.
Impressiveness and a little bit of scariness. Shuu and others felt those emotions while sightseeing to their heart’s content. Hajime gave them explanation.
「The true essence of this great dungeon is finally put on display from here on. No, perhaps I should call it as the actual trial……」
「The actual trial? Hajime, what do you mean?」
「Everything from before wasn’t actually a trial?」
This was a land of extreme cold where freezing to death couldn’t be avoided just by wearing winter clothes. Numerous enemies would attack while getting lost in the middle of a gigantic labyrinth. Shuu and Sumire considered such thing as a very brutal trial already, and they certainly weren’t wrong to think so.
「All of those were merely to filter the unworthy. The concept of this place in the end art to “fight against one’s own negative part”.」
「True. The Frost Turtle at the beginning must be the strongest monster here. Even that is inferior compared to the last guardians of the other great dungeons. After all, even us who had just starting to use the new artifacts’ functions could win against it although Hajime and others had to draw away the other monsters from us.」
Shizuku smiled wryly and shrugged. And then she recalled her own final trial and her gaze became somewhat distant.
「Overcoming your own weakness……is something really difficult isn’t it.」
Those words were accompanied with actual feeling. Those who had experienced it smiled wryly in respond. The parents once more turned their focus toward how terrifying this great dungeon was and to their son/daughter who had overcome such thing.
Aiko urged Hajime to continue inside such slightly tense atmosphere.
「And, Hajime-kun. What happened specifically?」
「You will start hearing whispers as you advanced through the labyrinth. It’s the voice of your own heart. Things that you usually kept deep at the bottom of your heart and averted your gaze from will get whispered to your ears over and over.」
「Then before long your reflection inside the mirror will also move on its own.」
「It really drove your mind to the corner steadily……」
「Eh, isn’t that simply a horror-? Uu, I’m not good with that kind of thing……」
Kaori and Shizuku’s additional comment made Aiko slowly took distance from the wall and she also averted her gaze to above. But, she got the feeling that the gaze of herself inside the ice mirror was following her the whole time. She started trembling in fear from the imagination.
Akiko and Remia must also be feeling the same with that eeriness. They were similarly taking distance from the wall.
「That……sounds really tiring to experience. Hajime-kun, are we going to be alright?」
「That function is currently being disactivated right?」
They asked him anxiously like that, so Hajime nodded strongly to them.
Myuu was making the pose of a raging eagle at the edge of his sight. She was staring at her reflection inside the wall with great interest, no, with a gaze of expectation. But, she became visibly dejected when hearing that Hajime had disactivated the trial. What a will of steel that she had.
Although, she must understood that many people wouldn’t want to experience this kind of trial. She didn’t ask for anything selfish, and perhaps in exchange she asked her papa timidly instead.
「The whisper that papa heard here, could it be……」
Concern could be seen in her eyes that were looking up to him. Her small hand slowly held Hajime’s hand. Hajime smiled wryly while caressing Myuu’s head gently.
「Yeah. It’s embarrassing but, the voice asked whether Tou-san and Kaa-san will be able to accept──」
「To accept Southcloud the First that papa hid inside your heart nano?」
The demon king was unexpectedly stabbed by his daughter and fell on his knees.
「「Myuu-chan suddenly came stabbing!?」」
「H-hey! Really Myuu, just what are you saying so suddenly!」
Shuu and Sumire looked at Myuu with real fear in their eyes. Remia pulled Myuu toward her in panic. For Myuu, what came to mind when talking about the voice inside the heart must be Abyssgate-san.
In other words, she interpreted that the trial here woke up the Abyssgate in everyone’s heart. So terrifying. In various senses.
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「Myuu-chan, you misunderstand. It’s not a fight against yourself in that kind of meaning! You mustn’t group this together with Abyssgate!」
「Certainly, Endou-kun gives the impression that he’s always fighting against himself though! But that was simply Endou-kun being slightly strange!」
「……Nn. Myuu, Endou’s that isn’t a weakness of the heart right? It’s simply something embarrassing.」
「Umu. He simply self-destructed from the action of his cool self. It’s painful to look, correct?」
And then Kousuke-kun who was far away from here also got stabbed so many times mercilessly.
Also, the person in question was currently in the middle of studying seriously in his home, but he suddenly showed an emotionally unstable reaction 「Eh? The inside of my chest feel hurt for some reason? Eh? Why are tears……」. Her little sister Manami-chan who witnessed that persuaded him to go to hospital. (A part of it was also because several hours before this he was rolling around on the floor in shame from remembering his serious battle against Hajime with Rana on the line).
「I-is that so nano?」
「Y-yeah, that’s right Myuu. You see, papa got this anxiety about whether Tou-san and Kaa-san would accept me even if I go home, seeing that I had completely changed like this.」
In order to resolve his daughter’s misunderstanding, Hajime honestly spoke of his weak part, that there wasn’t any Southcloud the First or whoever inside his heart! Absolutely not! He had to make her understood that no matter what!
Kaori and others also exposed their own weakness at that time. They were slightly embarrassed doing that, but there wasn’t really any hesitation in them doing that, because they had already surpassed that weakness.
「As for me it was my sense of inferiority. Especially toward Yue.」
「……Nn~, for me it was my anxiety toward the future. A part of me couldn’t believe, that I can have a future where I’m together with everyone just like now.」
「For me it was my feeling of guilt. Because no matter what everyone said, it was a fact that I was the cause that my clan met horrible experience.」
「For me it was mine desire for revenge. The voice said that it’s not an appropriate feeling for the noble dragon race. There was also this thing about mine ulterior motive of trying to make use of Goshujin-sama for that.」
「For me……well, it was my feeling for Hajime and my sense of inferiority. There was also how I was suppressing myself.」
Tomoichi and Kaoruko spontaneously patted Kaori’s head together. Shuuzou closed his eyes. Koichi and Kirino each placed their hand on Shizuku’s shoulders reassuringly. Shuu and Sumire were showing a slight surprise at Tio’s confession.
「For you, it surely will be about how you lay your hand on a student despite being a teacher──」
「Okaa-san? I know that already so don’t mention it!」
Akiko made a teasing prediction, perhaps in order to lighten the atmosphere, or perhaps because she was feeling slightly left out. Aiko responded to that with a glare that was telling her to not finish her sentence.
Actually, Hajime predicted that in Aiko’s case, the whisper would mention about how she allowed her students to die and also about her powerlessness. He smiled wryly imagining that while also,
「Well, you will get it after seeing the final trial ahead of here so……is there anyone who doesn’t want to show their past scene here?」
It also wasn’t something to be shown off intentionally. In a sense this trial was where one asked and answered themselves. It would be simply embarrassing. And so Hajime asked once more just in case.
「I want to see Kaori when she did her best. Please show it to me no matter what.」
「Ah, me too. It can’t be helped if Kaori don’t want to but……」
「No, it’s fine. It’s something that I already overcame after all. Though it’ll be a bit embarrassing. Also……no, it became totally messed up at the end of it, so I want everyone to also watch the terrible deed of the causes! Definitely!」
Kaori’s gaze rolled creepily toward Shia and Yue. The two averted their gaze. They were also whistling *pyuu~ pyupyu~* unnaturally.
「Shizuku, is it alright with you? I……want to know. I have to know. It’s already too late but, I wish to know what did we make you feel.」
「……Geez, Ojii-chan really. Don’t look that grave. I don’t really mind. It will show a lot of my pathetic side but……it’s just as Kaori said, I already overcame it. I thought of this trial as something important, yes, it was an indispensable trial for me.」
It wasn’t just for obtaining the age of god magic. It was something necessary for Yaegashi Shizuku to live while facing ahead from there on. Shizuku said so with a pretty smile while taking the hand of her grandfather.
「I’m feeling proud for having overcoming myself, for being a daughter of Yaegashi. It’s embarrassing to let others watch myself being so indecisive and hesitating but……it won’t be shameful.」
That’s why, please don’t blame yourself even after watching the happening of the trial, his granddaughter asked with a straightforward gaze. Shuuzou’s eyes slightly widened seeing that before he let out a sigh with a smile.
「……It looks like the immature one is actually me. How hopeless of me. I acted considerate as I pleased and made my granddaughter to be considerate for me instead.」
Isn’t that right? Shuuzou asked as he turned around. There Koichi and Kirino were making the same expression. It seemed that the two were actually feeling very guilty too.
「Are Yue-chan and everyone else also fine with it?」
「……Yes, Okaa-sama. Although, having said that, my trial was something questionable. It’ll be more accurate to say I got the push to pass the trial instead of overcoming it on my own.」
「There is also nothing really interesting to see in mine desu. I simply brute forced the trial.」
In Shia’s case alone, she even made her fake to say that 「She had passed the trial even before receiving it」. Although the trials were what would lead to the quarrel between the two, so it was decided that the group would watch their trial.
Tio too, despite the shocking revelation that she casually spoke of, there wouldn’t be any particular problem in watching her scene.
「Let me asketh just in case, there art no objection in skipping the scenes of the people who art not here, correct? As expected, it’s simply not right to peek at the past trial that involved someone’s hidden thought before first asking for the permission from the person involved.」
「Already Sakagami’s sad incident had become exposed to everyone here. Let’s take care to prevent any more of such happening.」
Hajime asked with his gaze There’s no objection right? Toward everyone around him. Naturally nobody here wanted to see any more of such──
For an instant, the doubt of 「We had also already seen a lot of Abyssgate-san’s scenes though, is that alright?」 flashed inside everyone’s head but, somehow everyone there implicitly agreed to the answer of 「Well, it should be fine」 unanimously.
At earth, Kousuke-kun who was forcefully brought to the hospital using the taxi that his little sister called for him was feeling wetness in his eyes 「Eh? The tears are coming out again……」. Manami-chan and the taxi driver uncle were creeped out by it but, that would be a story for another time.
There, Shuuzou raised his hand with a troubled face. Hajime understood what he wanted to say and nodded.
「It’s about Amanogawa isn’t it? Is it alright if we show it to you in private later? During that time Tou-san and the others will take a rest at Vandre Schnee’s mansion.」
「Yeah, I don’t mind. Thank you, Hajime-kun.」
「Sorry but, allow Kirino and I to be present for that too.」
「Hajime-kun, can you do that us?」
「Yes, if it’s Yaegashi family then it’s fine.」
Shuu and others were looking slightly confused. Shuuzou lowered his eyebrows a little and opened his mouth to at least give the minimum explanation.
「Kouki too……was a disciple of Yaegashi style. Just like Shizuku, we considered ourselves to also hold the responsibility to watch over him. ……Though it’s really already too late to do so at this point.」
Shuu and others nodded in understanding. Shizuku stepped forward and stated that she would also come with her family if that was the case.
「Then, let’s skip through here until the final trial in one go.」
「Myu? So this place only has the whispering voice nano?」
「No, there is a mental incitement waiting at the end that will make people attack each other. It’s a fight in the middle of pseudo sun and diamond dust firing and reflecting lasers everywhere.」
「Myuu wanna see nano! Why is papa going to skip that nano?」
「The snow spray will come down and separate everyone. The visibility became really bad, so even if we peeked at the past we won’t be able to see anything at all.」
Of course, it would become possible to watch somehow if the compass was used to locate everyone’s position at that time and they went until very close to each person one by one, but to be blunt, the fight wasn’t really worth the effort to go that far. Considering the schedule of the travel too, Hajime judged that they shouldn’t waste time for that.
I see, Myuu said with nod of acceptance.
Like that, Yue was about to open the “gate” that connected to the area where Hajime’s final trial took place for the time being──it was then.
「Hm? Just now, it felt like I heard something……」
Suddenly Shuu started looking around. Was it just my imagination? He wondered with a titled head, then right after that,
「My? Was that my voice just now?」
「Ah, I can also hear something!」
Sumire and Tomoichi also looked around with wide eyes.
「Goshujin-sama, haven’t thee stopped the trial?」
「I should have. I can’t hear anything though……」
Hajime asked everyone else with his gaze. In respond the girls and also the other parents shook their head.
What’s going on? Hajime and others narrowed their eyes with wariness. Then right after that.
「Wha-, y-you’re wrong! I had no other choice!!」
「Tou-san!? What’s the matter-, are you alright!?」
Shuu was visibly flustered. He was holding his head while shaking his head tearfully in denial of something. The trial was clearly activating on him. Although, it was strange that his reaction was so dramatic. The role of this labyrinth should be to gradually make the target aware of their failing.
There was something bad. An unexpected situation was occurring. Hajime made that judgment and sent his gaze toward Yue. He told her that they should leave the great dungeon right away for now. Yue responded to him instantly in the same beat and opened a “gate” to the outside.
But, before they could leave, Shuu finally couldn’t endure anymore and yelled.
「FORGIVE MEE! The mob uncle and the heroine getting switched at the ending, was certainly because of my BLUNDERRRRRRR!!」
「STOPPPPPPP!! DON’T MAKE ME RECALL THAT HELLLL! THAT ALSO HURTS MEEEEE」
Hajime crumbled beside Shuu who also crumbled on his knees at the same time. Both father and son were shaking their head in denial.
It was the worst bug that only got discovered when the new game product had already entered the production phase. It seemed the two recalled the extension death match for three days where they had to program the revision patch.
The situation seemed to “remind the target of hell” rather than “whispering negative emotion”. It caused Yue and others to be confused. They ran toward the two in panic asking 「What’s going on!?」 but, next it was Sumire and Tomoichi who went mad.
「Why-, why is blank manuscript coming out just right before the DEADLINEEEEEE!?」
「Nnn-!? Okaa-sama!? Please get a hold of yourself!」
In Sumire, her “despair” changed to “negative part”.
「Kaorukooo, I’m begging you, stop installing a lock that can only be opened from outsideee!!」
「Otou-san!? No way, Okaa-san!?」
「T-that’s a misunderstanding! It was just a joke! ──Ah? Right now, I also feel like I can hear something……」
When Kaori turned a complicated expression toward her mother after seeing the “terror” that Tomoichi remembered, Kaoruko started putting her hands over her ears. No, it wasn’t just Kaoruko. This time even Myuu and Remia were also reacting.
「Muu, Goshujin-sama, get a hold of thyself! It looks like those who hath not conquered this dungeon are gradually getting affected. This might be some kind of warning!」
「Tsu, why at this point? Anyway put the “Soul Shell” on them!」
Hajime’s “treasure warehouse” shined and threw the necklaces of the artifact “Soul Shell” to defend against abnormal status toward Tio.
This artifact could even defend against the god’s word of power. Tio quickly handed some to Shia, Kaori, and Shizuku too and they split up to put the necklaces on the members who hadn’t conquered the dungeon.
Hajime also hurriedly put the necklace on Shuu and Sumire, then immediately the whisper──or rather the recollection stopped coming and the two of them calmed down.
「W-what a horrifying image……」
「How can it showed me such despairing image……」
Shuu and Sumire stood up while wiping their sweat with their sleeve. Right after that, a small whirling snow spray that was like a thin string came down from above.
Hajime and others were on their guard. Before them, the snow spray whirled and started drawing letters.
The expression of Hajime and co twitched seeing the letters in the air.
『It might be fine for those who had passed, but don’t loiter around in a great dungeon when you haven’t even managed that! Are you here for sightseeing? Stupid idiots! This is a place for going through trial. Not a place to play around!!』
It seemed that Vandre-san had been prepared for this kind of situation. He gave a scolding that someone who wasn’t a challenger shouldn’t casually come here.
The detail was unknown how this mechanism worked, but there must be some kind of detection function. After that using the same mechanism like the annoying comment in Great Dungeon Raisen after Miledy was gone, these letters would come out in case the condition was fulfilled.
According to Oscar’s diary, 『The man called Van is an artist who is fastidious, haughty, and don’t understand the wonder of glasses at all』, so certainly it wouldn’t be strange for him to prepare something like this. The part about glasses didn’t matter at all though.
After Yue translated the letters with a small voice, the parents and Myuu became half exasperated and also half awkward while looking at each other.
『Also, even if you’re actually this dungeon’s conquerer, get out right away if you wear glasses. Anyone with name that sound like “glasses” even if just in part too, begone.』
The glasses part was seriously inconsequential! The twitching of everyone’s expression increased. Just how bad is your relationship with Oscar was huh, they wanted to give such retort.
『But anyone who can understand the goodness of muffler is fine. You can take your time here.』
「What the hell」
The snow letters puffed into nothing. Really, what the hell……even Hajime was made to feel tired.
In any case, it seemed that Vandre-san didn’t welcome anyone other than dungeon conqueror loitering around this place just for sightseeing. What happened just now must also be mechanism to drive away anyone other than conqueror. It wasn’t a trial, so it wasn’t a whisper about their “negative emotion”, but something that quickly woke up their trauma instead. It didn’t happen to everyone all at once must be because just like what Tio said, because it was just for warning.
「Tou-san, Kaa-san. Are you feeling alright now?」
「No, it completely stopped right after wearing this necklace.」
「Yes, we’re fine now.」
Tomoichi was also alright──no, he was trembling slightly so it looked like there was still a problem. His wife was snuggling close on his so he would be fine. There was no way he was trembling exactly because of that cuddling. Perhaps.
Myuu and others who were starting to get affected had also gotten completely freed from the whispering voice.
「What now, Hajime. As expected, perhaps we better get out from here?」
「No, there’s no need to care about it now that we have the countermeasure.」
As expected, rather than an actual prohibition, what happened just now was more like a “scolding”. Perhaps there wouldn’t even be a problem even without wearing the “Soul Shell” as long as they were wearing muffler. That was all there was to it.
But, Hajime and co forgot.
That in this place, there was one more person whose existence had become almost completely forgotten.
That there was someone inconspicuously coming along with them right at the very back without making any sound.
「Hm? What’s that? Just now, it felt like I heard a groan……」
「Eh, are you getting affected Shia? But you had conquered this place already.」
Kaori was surprised, but even while that was going on, Shia’s rabbit ears were twitching and located the source of the sound.
Her gaze moved. Everyone’s gaze also followed along to where she was looking.
The next moment.
「Stop! Please-, don’t go!!」
Yes, it was Liliana who was put inside a coffin even though she was a princess and who had been sleeping like a corpse this whole time. Ah, I just remembered that she is here! Everyone’s eyes widened with that kind of thought.
She seemed to have a nightmare. Her hands were desperately reaching toward empty air.
「Why! Please don’t leave me alone-」
It looked like she was trying to hold back someone. She was clinging to someone so that the person wouldn’t leave her behind. Her voice was like a scream that made the listener’s chest tightening.
She must be seeing a very bad dream. For the current her, someone who she didn’t want to see leave so much like that must be──
Everyone’s gaze turned toward Hajime.
Hajime nodded and hurriedly took out the artifact “Soul Shell” to drive away the nightmare from Liliana──
Before that could happen, a yell from the heart, or perhaps even from the soul, an earnest yell echoed through the area.
「DON’T RESIGN IN MASSSS────!!!」
Like a mummy who was revived with cursed magic, her highness the princess got up in a flash from the coffin. Her hands reached out while her eyes that still had dark circles around them snapped open to display bloodshot eyes. Next she was yelling 「I’LL ESTABLISH THE LABOR STANDARDS ACT SO PLEASEEEEEE-」. What a nightmare. No, really, it was a nightmare in various senses.
Liliana was breathing hard haa haa. Hajime quietly put the necklace on her.
「E-eh? Where is this place? I’m the princess?」
Why was she questioning that point……pity enveloped everyone’s heart.
And so, Hajime smiled kindly,
「It’s fine, go to sleep for a bit more okay?」
“Lightning Clad” crackled.
It invited her highness back to a gentle sleep once more.
By the way, the people of the kingdom loved and respected Princes Liliana from the bottom of their heart, so they would never resign in mass. Even if they were asked 「Can you work together with me for twenty four hours?」 with a serious face, they male or female wouldn’t run away. In other words, it was just her needless worry.
But if that was the case, the effect was slightly off from Vandre-san’s set up……
It seemed that this princess was always harboring the fear.
Of her subjects resigning in mass.
It went without saying that the realization also made the expression of Hajime and co to be very complicated.
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