Section 5: Inside the Ruins
“Ugh……what’s with the air in here……”
Lapris fluttered forward through the air, retaking her usual place on top of Unicorn’s head, and was already groaning.
With barely any wind blowing through, the air inside the ruins had grown stagnant. 300 years have already passed since this was a working mine shaft. Nowadays nobody walks in here, making it a den for animals and monsters.
The passages are wide enough that three people could walk side by side with their arms outstretched next to them, and it was tall enough that Unicorn could easily pass through. Although the walls and ceilings were reinforced by wooden pillars at regular intervals, the possibility of a cave-in crossed my mind when I saw certain portions of the wall and ceiling crumbling.
“It’s convenient not needing a torch.”
Taking a position in front, Toslin let out a passing remark while remaining vigilant for any danger.
“Can you now appreciate the great me then? You’re welcome.”
And Lapris stuck out her chest and answered back. Because of the faint light her body is always giving off, she is able to successfully replace our need for a torch.
Of course Unicorn is the one doing most of the work. Her body naturally emits a white light just like Lapris that illuminates our surroundings. Her mane and tail give off an especially strong light several times brighter than what Lapris gives off which allows us to see things tens of meters away.
“Yeah, you really……..saved us.”
Toslin obediently thanked the proud Lapris. The fairy feather she received is inside her armor. Ever since she received it, Toslin has been the picture of politeness towards Lapris to the point where it felt like the two’s earlier bickering was just a dream.
“…….what is this? It’s good, but for some reason I can’t calm down like this.”
“What, do you want me to spit in your face again?”
“I’ll kill you next time.”
Taking a glance at Toslin and Lapris’s backs who had both grown a little closer (I think?), I quickly turned my eyes back to the confusing map spread out in front of me.
“The first fork should be soon.”
I continued checking the map several times over in order to find the shortest path to the hall with the altar in it.
“Huh? What…..is this sound?”
But a short moment later, I heard some kind of howl and jumped in my seat.
“Ah, there’s nothing to worry about.”
Toslin patted the nose of the alarmed Unicorn to calm her down.
“So you say, but isn’t that the howl of an animal? Isn’t it an enemy?”
“It’s not an enemy. That’s Goldmund.”
“Eh, Goldmund!? But…..it sounds like he’s fighting.”
According to Toslin, Goldmund is in a slightly more open area just up ahead. I guess he’s sticking around there waiting for backup to arrive………thinking about it, why didn’t he leave with Toslin?
“There were a few stragglers that needed to be dealt with.”
“Eh, so Goldmund stayed to fight some more? On his own?”
The idea had popped in my head that maybe he had gotten injured and couldn’t walk anymore, but Toslin told me I was wrong. Moreover the real reason was something far beyond what I had thought.
“Why didn’t you say so!? If I had known that I would have hurried more!!”
“It’s fine. That child is a tough one, a survivor of a fierce battle with a dragon just like the rest of us. He won’t die that easily.”
An extraordinary amount of trust was oozing from Toslin’s words. But my worries weren’t going away that easily. I picked up the pace and rushed forward to see if Goldmund was safe.
Illuminating a nearby space where a powerful roar originated from, Unicorn’s light revealed to me Goldmund who was just using his mighty horns to blow away a snow bear.
There were over a dozen snow wolves and several snow bears scattered around his feet. The snow bear he had just thrown made a sickly crack as it hit a nearby wall and stopped moving. Then a shadow spirit appeared from the corpse…….
and then a quick kick with both of Goldmund’s feet easily caused the shadow spirit to disperse and fade away.
“Isn’t this guy way more violent than the last time I saw him?”
Yes, I was thinking the same thing just now.
“I’d say gallant more than anything else.”
“He and I were fighting together right here until a short bit ago. All of the sudden though about half of the enemies we were fighting peeled off and ran somewhere else, so I left these guys to him and followed after the rest.”
After making sure all the enemies had been dealt with, Goldmund turned his face towards us. His huge body swayed back and forth as he walked over to us.
“Hey, long time no see Goldmund. Do you remember me?”
Lapris hopped on over from the top of Unicorn’s head over to Goldmund’s.
Apparently Goldmund did remember Lapris as he didn’t seem too concerned when she dived right into his hair.
“Ah, his hair is filthy again. We’ll have to be sure to wash it when we get back.”
According to Toslin, she would’ve frozen to death with Goldmund. Indeed, it certainly is colder inside this cave than it is outside. Cold air continues to rise up as if there were a blanket of ice and snow at our feet.
“Goldmund, I’m glad you’re okay…….”
I got down off of Unicorn and and stroked Goldmund’s head. It does feel as if his face has grown more masculine in the last couple of days. The fact that he’s able to beat all these snow bears on his own probably means he’s leveled up as well.
“Hey Iris, do you have something to tie with?”
“Something to tie? Let’s see…….I have a rope here.”
“Not like that. Something thinner.”
“In that case, use this.”
As I was fishing around through my satchel, Saluena untied a ribbon from around her neck and handed it over to Lapris.
“Oh, thanksies. So then Goldmund, hold still for a bit.”
Saying so, Lapris began wrapping the ribbon around Goldmund’s two horns. She then plucked out another one of her feathers and fitted it inside the knot.
“Yosh, now we don’t need to worry about him dropping it.”
Lapris happily nodded after observing her hard work. Mm Mm, this certainly does look like it would work. He kind of looks like a girl with the ribbon, but I’m afraid he’s just going to have to put up with it for the time being.
“Goldmund. We’re off to save your master. Do you want to help us save her too?”
Goldmund is a clever child who always listens to whatever Rose-san tells him. So even if he has a hard time understanding everything, I’m sure he can tell what Saluena is asking of him.
He released a low voice I’m not used to hearing, as if there was a quake at the pit of his stomach. Goldmund then bent his front knees and lowered his body.
“Yosh yosh, good boy. Now let’s go beat the boss.”
After Toslin had gotten on his back, Goldmund stood back up.
A silent flame burning in his eyes.