* * *
Zaa-the sound of running water. A cool breeze brushed against his cheeks and caused him to tremble. There was a solid sensation in contact with his face and a chill pierced his lower half of his body. Hajime raised a groan as he work up.
Absentmindedly, he put forth effort to sit upright while his whole body scowl as it throbbed with pain.
“Ow, This is…For sure I…”
Holding his unsteady head with one hand, he studied the vicinity whilst he recalled his memories. Even though the surrounding was dim, thanks to the emission from the green light stones, it was not like he was blinded by the darkness. In front of Hajime was a river about 5 m in width, and it was in this that his lower body was submerged in. Hajime’s upper body seems to have been caught and stranded by protruding rocks located at the side of the river.
“Yeah…I fell down the broken bridge…thereupon…”
His head that had a fog clouding his mind finally started to turns its gears again. Hajime must have survived the drop by sheer luck. In the middle of his fall he encountered area where the cliff had a puncture, from this leak water sprouted out like a flood. There were numberless waterfalls here, and these waterfalls blew away Hajime time after time until gradually he was thrust to the wall. At the very end he was pushed out of a tunnel that was like a waterslide. It was an unbelievable miracle. When he was flying out of the tunnel Hajime hit his head and lost consciousness. Personally, Hajime did not know how such a miracle took place.
“Anyway, I was saved…Achoo! I-It’s cold.”
He was submerged in the cold underground water this whole time, because of this his whole body was completely cold. At this rate there was a possibility that he could catch hypothermia, Hajime quickly picked himself up. Trembling and shivering he took off his clothes and wringed them.
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Using his transmutation he created a single sheet of paper. On the hard stone floor he started to engrave a transmutation circle.
“It’s too cold to concentrate…”
He wanted a “Spark” magic. This was a simple magic that even children could perform with a 10 cm magic formation. At this moment, there was no magic stones to increase the efficiency of the magic because Hajime needed it with his zero aptitude for magic. Hajime would have to make a complicated formula that would be 1 m in diameter to cast that “Spark”. After 10 minutes he was able to finished the magic formation and started his chanting to activate it.
“I seek fire,The power of light, Manifest, “Spark”…Why is there such an exaggerated chant just to create an ordinary flame? So embarrassing…Ha-a.”
The sighing seems to have become a habit recently. Still he invoked the fist-sized flame and bathed in its warmth. He set his clothes side by side near the flames to dry it.
“I wonder where this is…I think I fell a considerable height…can I return?”
Warming himself with the flame, he could feel himself calm. Gradually anxiety started to fill his heart. Hajime really wanted to cry, tears even started to accumulate in his eyes , but he bore with it because if he cried now he would fall apart. He wiped away the tears that had collected and slapped his own cheeks.
“Got no other choice, I have to find a way back. It’s fine, I’m sure it will be fine.”
Hajime’s face developed into a determined one after he muttered encouragements to himself, all while staring at the flames.
After about 20 minutes the clothes were dry and warm, so Hajime set off. Hajime was not sure which level he was in but for sure he was still in the Dungeon. It wouldn’t be strange to have monsters lurking. He carefully proceeded to walk down into a huge passage that lead into the depths.
The passage that Hajime continued on felt like a cave. Rather than a low-rise square passage, the passage had rocks and walls protruding in many places and it winds around complicatedly. It was similar to the last room on the 20th floor, the only difference was the size. The complicated passage full of obstacles was 20 m in diameter. Even the more narrow places was still 10 m in diameter. Although it was not an easy path to treat, there were a lot of places to hide and Hajime advanced stealthily from hiding area to hiding area.
He wondered how much he walked. Hajime started to feel tired, until he finally reached a fork for the first time. A huge crossroad was presented to him. Behind the boulder was Hajime hiding, he wondered which path he should take.
A moment was taken to think over it. He thought he saw something at the edge of his vision and he quickly hid behind a rock. Quietly he stuck his head out and waited to see. From the passage straight ahead, a white fur ball hopped into view. It had long ears, and it looked like a rabbit. However, it was about the size of a mid-sized dog and its hind legs were heavily muscled. The “rabbit” also had several dark red lines running along its body like blood vessels, the lines also pulsated like a heart. That was very creepy.
Clearly, it was a dangerous demon. Hajime decided to avoid by going left or right instead of going straight. It looked like he wouldn’t be able to proceed to the right because the “rabbit” was near it. Hajime held his breath and waited for the time to move. At that moment, the rabbit turned around and started to sniff the ground. Right now! He tried to move at that.
The rabbit seemed to react to that and it quickly straighten its back to stand up. It’s vigilant ears rustled.
(Crap! D-Did it find me? I-I’m fine?)
He clung his body to the boulder to hide himself, and he tried to gain control of his thumping heart. Those keen ear felt like they could pick up his throbbing heart, he broke out into a cold sweat at that thought.
Luckily, it was a different reason the rabbit was alert.
A wolf-like demon with white hair jumped out and growled at the rabbit. The white wolf had two tails and was about the size of a large dog. Just like the rabbit, the wolf had the same palpitating dark red lines all over its body. After that wolf jump out, two more wolves jumped out from behind different stones to join it.
Hajime peeked his head out and observed the situation. No matter how you look at it, the wolves were going to prey on the rabbit-chan (though it wasn’t cute enough to attach chan). With the cover of confusion Hajime half rose his feet. However…
A cute cry leaked from it and jumped into the air with a rotation. The rabbit gave a roundhouse kick with its massive legs and smacked the first wolf.
The kick generated a sound that wasn’t thought possible. Rabbit-chan’s got a clean kick to the wolf’s head.
There was a resounding echo and Hajime could see that the wolf’s neck had been bent into the wrong direction.
Hajime went rigid at that display. Using the centrifugal force from the roundhouse kick, the rabbit rotated in the air until it was in an upside-down state. The rabbit stomped the air and fell towards the ground like a meteor. Just before landing, it rotated itself perpendicular to it and gave a powerful heel drop to the wolf close to the landing point.
Without even getting the chance to give off a death throe, both the wolves heads were pulverized. Another two wolves appeared to jump at the rabbit when it landed. Hajime thought it was this moment that the rabbit would lose. The rabbit was able to do a handstand while rotating his legs, just like a break dancer. Both of the wolves were flung towards and slammed against it because of the tornado like rotating kicks. Blood splashed against the walls and their corpse trailed down.
The last wolf ruffled its tail as it growled. Soon the tails started to discharge electricity. It was trying to cast a Special Magic.
Lightning fly at the rabbit with a howl. As the high-speed lightning approached, the rabbit avoided it splendidly by performing zigzagging steps. When the lightning dissipated the rabbit drove a somersault kick into the wolf’s jaw in one go. The kick blew the wolf away and it landed on the ground backwards and bent. It seemed like its neck broke from the force.
A victory cry? The rabbit raised its forelimbs and brushed off its ears.
“Mommy, tell me it’s a lie.”
Hajime who was still stiff can only give a dry smile. Isn’t this dangerous? The Traum Soldier that the students had trouble with looked like toys compared to this bunny. This rabbit may be stronger than the Behemoth, who could only do simple monotonous attacks.
He knew that if he was caught it would be certain death, this fretting caused him to unconsciously step back. That was an error.
That noise echoed throughout the whole cave. Hajime had kicked a pebble near his feet that fell and created that racket. Such a cliché grave mistake. A large amount of cold sweat streamed down his face. The rabbit turns its head like a machine that wasn’t oiled to the sound.
Hajime was definitely seen.
It’s ruby red eyes narrow as it caught sight of Hajime. He froze like a frog hypnotized by a snake. Alarms bells started to go off in his head and his soul told him to run for his life, but his body did not listen to him.
Finally, the rabbit that had only been looking back at Hajime with his head, orientated its whole body towards him. It started to pour energy into its legs.
He instinctively knew that. Rabbit demon exploded towards him, it dashed at him at an absurd speed that left afterimages behind it.
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When he noticed it, he jumped aside with all his might.
The place where he was just at exploded like a cannonball had just struck it. It gouged out the ground as it detonated. Hajime rolled while the earth rumbled, and stopped with his backside on the floor. He retreated from the epicenter with a pale face.
Slowly the rabbit stood up with a slack attitude, after it continued its assault. Hajime quickly constructed a stone wall with his transmutation. Stone wall met the rabbit’s kick and easily the kick pierced through it. By pure reflex he brought up his left arm to block. Good thing his face was not crushed, but the impact launched him to the ground. Pain coursed through his left arm when he gathered himself.
When he looked at his left forearm, it was broken and bent in a funny angle. Looks like it was totally crushed. Crouching in pain, he desperately sought out the rabbit. What he found was the rabbit walking in a relaxed manner, a total inverse of its earlier attitude. It must have been his imagination, but its eyes were staring at him in a condescending. Looks like it was having fun messing with him.
Since he was on his backside, he couldn’t even retreat that well. There standing in front of Hajime was the rabbit. It looked down on him, like he was some worm crawling on the earth. The rabbit brandished its foot to show it off.
(…I wonder if this is the end…)
Despair assailed Hajime. He adopted a dazed looked and gave up as he stared at the rabbit’s feet. Eventually the kick of instant death was swung.
Hajime shut his eyes, horrified at the impending doom.
No matter how much time passed, the expected blow never came. He fearfully opened his eyes and in front of his face was the rabbit’s foot. The kick was stopped just before it made impact. It can’t be, was it still playing with him and trying to instill even more anguish in him? Hajime noticed something though, when he looked closely the rabbit was trembling.
(W-What? Why is it trembling…it seems scared…)
No, not “seem”, it really was afraid. Hajime tried to run for the right passage, but he caught sight of a new demon.
Huge, was a word that could describe it. The beast was 2 m tall and its whole frame covered in white fur. Like all the other monsters he met here, this beast also had pulsating dark red lines wrapping its body. If he could compare it to another animal then a bear came to mind. One differences were that its arm extended all the way down to its feet, and these arms had 3 claws protruding out almost 30 cm.
Before he knew it that bear was nearby, while it glared at its prey. Silence surrounded the area. Both Hajime and the rabbit was frozen and could not move. No, would not move. Just like how Hajime was earlier. The bear’s stare had stopped them.
Tired of the situation, the bear started to growl.
This caused the rabbit to return to reality. It quickly turned tail and instantly retreated at top speed. All that speed it used to crush its enemies was now being used to escape. Too bad it was all for naught.
Using speed that didn’t suit its size, the bear aimed it’s sharp claws at the rabbit. The rabbit used its agility to twist his body to dodge the blow. Hajime was certain the bear’s claws had missed their target, and he saw the rabbit finish dodging.
When it landed, blood started to gush from its body as multiple cut wounds emerged on its body. More and more blood poured out of its wound until Hajime noticed that its body wasn’t whole anymore. Piece by piece sections of the rabbit slipped off in different direction and a fountain of blood sprayed when the largest section was set free.
The gore show disgusted Hajime. A rabbit demon that powerful was taken down so easily without it being able to do anything. Now he knew why it was so scared. That bear demon was extraordinary. This guy would destroy any person Hajime knew of.
Lumbering its huge body, the bear approached the fresh corpse. Sounds of gorging could be heard from the bear.
Hajime could not move. Still consumed by fear, the beast eyes pin down Hajime with its eyes.
Nothing was left of the rabbit after the bear took 3 mouthful of it. It turned around and growled at Hajime. The beast’s eyes said it all, “You are next.”
Presented with the eyes of a predator all he could do was despair.
Hajime ran the opposite direction of the bear while screaming madly and forgetting about his broken arm.
If something like that rabbit couldn’t escape then it did not look good for Hajime. The wind howl and from his left he felt pain explode in his body as he was flung against the wall.
The blow had knocked all the air out of his lungs. He trailed down the wall as he collapsed into a fit of coughs. Hajime was swaying from the impact but he kept his eyes on the bear. Then he noticed the bear was chewing on something.
What the hell was it chewing on? The rabbit was already consumed. Somehow the arm it was eating was very familiar. Hajime was confused at the event, because he felt lighter on his left side. To be precise, his left arm…
Hajime’s face stiffened. Why is there no arm? Why was blood spurting out? He tilt his head. Hajime could not make sense of what happened. The reality of the situation finally hit him. Pain was the reminder that this was no dream.
His shriek echoed in the passage. Everything below his left elbow had disappeared.
The beast still had its Special Magic. His three claws were able to create blades of wind that could extend up to 30 cm. If you thought about it losing just one arm was fortunate. The bear was playing with Hajime and it begged the question if Hajime was lucky. Considering that the rabbit earlier had been dealt with so quickly.
After he was finished with his meal, the bear advanced towards Hajime. His eyes was not condescending like the rabbit’s. The beast just looked at Hajime as food.
The beast extended its forelimbs toward Hajime. It looked like it was going to eat Hajime alive.
“A, A, Guu, Re “Rensei”!” [Transmute]
While tears and mucus flowed, drool escaped from his mouth, he transmuted the wall with his only arm. It was an unconscious action. The only power that was available to the Hajime that had such low specs. Using magic that is usually only used to process weapons. This class was without a doubt a crafting class. Thought of as useless in combat, but another worlder showed the knights a new application for its skill. A skill that saved the lives of his classmate. On the brink of death, he choose to rely on that skill, and it answered him with a means of escape.
A hole 50 cm in height, 120 c in width, and 2m in depth formed in the wall. Hajime rolled into the hole and narrowly escaped the bears paws reaching towards him.
It was overwhelmed with anger from losing a prey.
The beast casted its Special Magic while it roared. It aimed its magic towards the hole Hajime made. A terrible destruction followed as the wall was shaved off my the powerful claws.
“Ahhhh-! “Rensei”! “Rensei”! “Rensei”!”
Pancing from the monster that was gradually getting closer, Hajime started to continuously cast his transmuting and delved deeper into the wall. He did not even bother to look back. Recklessly he repeated the magic, and advanced with a crawl. All his pains or any other thoughts were put in the backseat. Mana was consumed over and over again as his survival instinct had control over him.
How much did he progress? Hajime did not know, but he couldn’t hear the terrible sounds. In reality, he did not progress that much. Each cast of his “Rensei” allowed him to advance 2 m (This was twice as strong as his earlier days). The main problem was his bleeding, he would not be able to move soon.
His awareness was already gone from the excessive bleeding. Still his body pushed forward.
“”Rensei”… “Rensei”… “Rensei”… “Rensei”…”
No matter how many times he chanted, the wall did not change. His magic ran out before his body gave out. Exhausted, his hands fell from the wall.
Hajime fell on his back and his last strand of consciousness was going out. He just aimlessly started to the heavens, but all he saw was darkness.
Hajime at this time recalled some past memories. It was like a Revolving Lantern(*). His life flashed before his eyes. His nursery and elementary school, middle school, and high school days. Various memories flooded his mind until his last memory. In that bedroom illuminated by the moonlight. The chat he had with a goddess and the promise they made. Her smiling face.
[* Revolving Lantern is a show where a lantern has some cutouts done in them and in the center a candle or light source is placed. The shadow casted by the light and cutouts could provide a show. Usually the light is directed to one direction so a story could be told.]
After remembering that beautiful sight, the darkness engulfed him. Just before sleep claimed him, he felt a drop of water on his cheek. Like someone had shed a tear for him.
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