Section 18: Remnants of a Curse
While we were filling up our tummies with tea and cookies, Toslin and Carol eventually came back with a large, leather bag filled to bursting. That was five minutes ago already.
[Toslin]: “Haha~, another profitable venture.”
Toslin had dragged over the broken remains of one of the bold loires and used it as a chair. She has been longingly stealing glances towards the leather bag she hitched on Goldmund’s back ever since as if she were afraid it would get up and run away.
[Carol]: “Combine all that with what we got before and won’t we be able to build a nice house in the capital?”
Carol was sitting next to her, kicking her feet back and forth while sipping the cup of tea Rose-san had passed over to her.
[Toslin]: “Why would an adventurer have any need for a house like that?”
Toslin glanced towards Carol while clearly not understanding what she was talking about.
[Carol]: “Well……to settle down and live in obviously.”
[Toslin]: “Live in…….you? By yourself?”
[Carol]: “Eh……oh, um……a-all of us?”
Carol spoke softly as her face turned a bright shade of red.
[Toslin]: “Hah? What are you talking about? You realize we’re adventurers right? Traveling around the world is our job, so having a house like that is only going to be a burden.”
Toslin waved her hand while biting into one of Saluena’s cookies. A small, “Delicious,” murmur continued on a second later.
[Carol]: “Eh, oh……yeah, you’re right……”
Carol’s face sank down into her tea cup, and her tail drooped further down than it had been a second before.
I had noticed it, so there was no way Toslin hadn’t as well. She sat there and frowned, wiping away a spatter of crumbs clinging to her lips. Then after a moment, she finally opened her mouth.
[Toslin]: “…..Hey, Carol…..”
[Carol]: “Oh shoot, I almost forgot! I had something important I needed to report! From this point forward……”
Just as Toslin was about to say something, Carol cut her off and changed the subject. She then jumped from her seat on top of the broken bold loire and hurriedly began explaining what she had discovered.
It was as if she hadn’t wanted to hear what Toslin was going to say next.
According to Carol, this was the 35th floor, the same floor we had managed to reach the last time we were here. This dome-like room is apparently the same room we had fought Mippo and Moppo in before as well. In other words, Carol won’t be able to advance through the dungeon using just her scent from this point forward.
The dungeon beneath Oshunel city is supposed to have fifty floors total. That was before the dungeon went under major structural changes however. So in summation, we have at least fifteen more floors to go with no map to help us through.
≪Know the way≫
≪Lead the way≫
[Carol]: “What, really? That’d be a huge help.”
Just when I was wondering how long this next leg of our journey would take, Mippo and Moppo offered to act as guides.
Toslin reacted to Carol’s jubilant reaction with a stern look.
But whether Carol was aware of that fact or just pretending not to be, she kept her eyes locked on the gnomes and didn’t turn away.
According to Mippo and Moppo, this dungeon was littered with shortcuts that only the sisters knew about.
Considering we were determined to head to the dungeon’s depths no matter what, this revelation was a saving grace, a gift straight from the Goddess.
[Rose]: “Um, Sally-oneesama. Could I have a word with you?”
Just when I thought we had a game plan set up, Rose-san looked really seriously towards Saluena who was standing on the other side of me.
[Saluena]: “What is it Rosa?”
Rose-san was a bit restless, stroking her hand against my back while hesitating for a second.
[Rose]: “I was thinking these children may be the same as you.”
On our way to Oshunel, Rose-san and Saluena would sometimes talk amongst themselves quietly enough that I couldn’t heart them.
I waited for Saluena’s answer, my heart racing in a way different from the norm.
The ‘children’ Rose-san mentioned were most certainly the gnome sisters, and now that she’s bringing it up, I suddenly recalled Saluena’s story.
She fought Oshunel once before but was defeated. She was then exposed to the negative aura of the evil dragon, brainwashed, and forced to become the enemy of all humankind.
Rose-san was comparing that story to the gnomes’ current circumstances and came to the conclusion that they were the same.
[Saluena]: “Yes actually, I was thinking the same thing. These sisters were most likely taken over by Oshunel’s negative aura, putting them under his control after being transformed into primordial spirits. Their situations are most probably the same as mine. That’s why after a thousand years, that negative energy has naturally dissipated from their bodies.”
[Litzreich]: “Yet the oldest sister’s brainwashing hasn’t been relieved yet……?”
Litzreich muttered her thoughts aloud while working on her previously cracked gauntlet using some strange tool I’d never seen before.
[Litzreich]: “Then, hypothetically speaking…….no, I suppose this is me asking in advance since it is certainly possible, but……”
She then turned her focus away from her gauntlet and set it squarely on me.
[Litzreich]: “What will we do if her brainwashing doesn’t come off?”
Mippo and Moppo’s eyes fell on me as well after Litzreich asked her question. I wonder, do they really understand what she means by that question?
[Saluena]: “Iris’s goal is to help the gnomes.”
Saluena answered in my stead, but Litzreich simply shook her head.
[Litzreich]: “Oh I understand that quite well. And I am aware of how cruel this is to ask in front of her sisters, but it is something that must be asked all the same. It is a knight’s duty to listen to their princess’s wishes, but it is not their ultimate mission. Keeping the princess safe should come before all else……”
Litzreich was staring directly into my eyes.
[Litzreich]: “…….So, I will ask you again.”
She was serious. Completely different from her usual joke self.
[Litzreich]: “……..What then?”
There was a weight hanging on my shoulders as if the end of a sword was being pointed directly at my chest.
And it felt as if my heart were doing its best to leap out of the way.