Section 20: Sky Enclave
After finishing our break, Mippo and Moppo guided us over to an ordinary-looking wall.
A stone wall no different from anywhere else in this cave that you would be guaranteed to walk past without a second thought. However if the gnome sisters are to be believed, it was made to look that way through magic.
Mippo told us this was actually a shortcut that would give us a direct route down to the lowest level.
[Carol]: “Oh c’mon. I was wondering why is was darker only in this hallway. I noticed none of us had any shadows, but I never noticed this.”
Carol pressed her face into her hands, groaning out her regrets as the party scout.
[Iris]: “Was this possibly here the first time we came through the dungeon as well?”
Mippo popped her head out from the illusory wall after passing through earlier.
Imitating her older sister, Moppo popped her head out from the wall as well.
It’s cute, but if I hadn’t known they were back there ahead of time, I probably would have screamed. Because right now it looks like there are a pair of heads floating in the air.
[Carol]: “You can’t be serious. Which means I’ve overlooked all of them. Haa, that’s a confidence killer. If I had magic power, I would’ve noticed these somehow, but…….”
As I’ve said before, Carol has zero sense for anything magical. In exchange, she says she has a perfect record when it comes to locating pitfalls or physical triggers for traps.
[Toslin]: “……it’s not like any of us are going to hold it against you, and you found all the other traps.”
Toslin stepped next to Carol and looked up at the wall as Carol’s shoulders drooped down. She slowly raised up her hand, and sure enough, it easily passed through the wall.
It’s a hidden passageway that is relatively common in adventure novels, but considering the present circumstances, I watched on with a more serious expression than I would normally.
[Carol]: “……it doesn’t matter if you care or not. What if it was a trap that could have killed us?”
Carol is usually our moodmaker, but this time she was having a hard time putting on a smile.
She frowned at Toslin, brushing away her attempt to cheer her up, and walked through the wall.
[Toslin]: “……Oi, hold on. Don’t go off on your own.”
Toslin disappeared through the wall herself while chasing after Carol.
[Lapris]: “Those two were horsing around a minute ago, and now they’re fighting all of the sudden?”
[Carol]: “We aren’t fighting. Hey, it’s safe to enter. You can follow us in.”
I could hear Carol’s voice coming out from the other side of the wall. It’s kind of weird.
[Ashel]: “Then let us follow. Iris, are you all right? If you are feeling scared, I could hold your hand.”
Glancing over the wall and growing worried over my shock over the illusion, Ashel-sama held out her hand for me.
[Iris]: “Ah, no…….”
……I stopped myself before I said anything else. It might be considered rude for me to turn down a prince, so I obediently held out my hand.
[Iris]: “I’ve seen something like this before, so I was more surprised than scared really…….but I would be happy to accept your offer.”
[Ashel]: “Surprised you say? To tell you the truth, I’ve mostly grown used to such things. I have seen them many times across my travels.”
Ashel-sama pulled on my hand and passed through the wall. As I was about to head in after her though, a voice called my name from behind.
[Litzreich]: “W-Wait……Iris. M-Me too…..hands……”
A weak, hoarse voice. I could tell from the tone that it belonged to Litzreich, but it was much weaker than what I had grown accustomed to.
[Rose]: “I will support Litzreich-san, so please feel free to go ahead.”
[Saluena]: “What, it’s just a swollen butt. No reason to fret.”
Looking back, there was Litzreich whose arms were being firmly held onto by Rose-san and Saluena.
Without my noticing, the gnome sisters had moved past me and were now standing on top of Litzreich’s shoulders. Their signboards…….stone boards, marked the scene for what it was.
Earlier, Rose-san had given Litzreich a good spanking as punishment for flipping up my skirt. Toslin and Carol’s smiles grew with each successive spank, and even though Litzreich was only spanked five times in total, the two of them had looked oddly satisfied afterwards.
Ever since, Litzreich has been moving with Rose-san and Saluena at her sides, being practically drug through the dungeon to this point. …….With that being said, we’re more than likely about to head into battle here, so……can’t we let her off already?
To be honest, I’m a little jealous of her for getting to be carried by Rose-san and Saluena together. Obviously I absolutely don’t want to get spanked by Rose-san though.
[Lapris]: “Honestly, careless fool.”
Lapris was lying back on Litzreich’s head, sending a resentful glare downwards this whole time.
But when my skirt was rolled up, didn’t you take the opportunity to get a good look? If my memory is right, you were the one who noticed I was wearing two pairs of wool panties.
[Iris]: “Um, Litzreich. Hang in there?”
With that being said, my feelings really only go that far, so after wishing her well, I made up my mind and jumped through the wall.
Even if I know it’s an illusion, it still looks like I’m jumping towards a solid stone wall. I unintentionally closed my eyes, and when my feet touched ground again, my body leaned forward.
Now that I think about it, I really didn’t have to jump through did I? Just as I began regretting my shortsighted move, Ashel-sama hugged me.
[Ashel]: “Careful. Are you all right Iris?”
[Iris]: “Ah, yes……sorry. I closed my eyes…….”
[Ashel]: “Ah, I understand. It is only natural you would shut your eyes with a wall accelerating towards your…….f-, S-S-Sorry!!”
Ashel-sama jumped back when she noticed she was still hugging me.
[Iris]: “Eh, oh……right. It’s okay. Rather, thank you for saving me from falling.”
I wasn’t sure exactly why Ashel-sama was so flustered at first, but after thinking about it for a minute, I finally remembered that Ashel-sama is supposed to be acting as a man. So from that point of view, ‘he’ was hugging a young woman and should’ve immediately let go.
How could I forget something like that? That should always be at the center of my mind whenever I’m with her.
(Ashel-sama is a man. Ashel-sama is a man.)
It’d be one thing if she looked more masculine, but Ashel-sama is so slender I cannot see her as anything other than a woman. This is really hard.
[Litzreich]: “W-Woah…..there was a place like this here……”
Rose-san and Saluena dragged Litzreich in a second later with the gnome sisters still resting on her shoulders.
On the other side of the hidden door was a wide open room with a large magic circle inscribed across the center of the floor. It looked very similar to the transfer circle traps Carol released as we advanced through the dungeon.
Similar circles were drawn on the ceiling and each of the walls as well.
[Carol]: “These are a little different from the usual transfer magic circles.”
Having been the first person to enter the room, Carol was on her hands and knees when the rest of us came in, carefully inspecting the area around the magic circle.
Her butt was shoved into the air, and her tail swayed slowly from outside her spats. Her tail always gets like this whenever she’s happy or if something’s caught her interest.
[Iris]: “I see. So only the gnomes who made the dungeon to begin with can use them.”
[Litzreich]: “It makes sense. Otherwise you might have an enemy discover one of these entrances, and they would have a direct path straight to the heart of your territory.”
Interested in the magic circle as well, Litzreich tried staggering over to get a better look.
≪To Big Sister≫
≪Ready to go?≫
[Toslin]: “Just to make sure, you’re older sister isn’t going to be on the other side of this thing waiting for us right?”
Toslin pulled Goldmund’s reins and brought him to the center of the magic circle.
We all gathered close around him, but the magic circle was so big we could have a fully transformed Unicorn here with us and still have some elbow room.
≪Front of castle≫
The gnome sisters climbed off Litzreich’s shoulders and held each other’s hands inside the magic circle.
They then began performing a small dance.
It was so sweet and magical that it easily drew the gaze.
[Iris]: “Hmm? Castle?”
But something they said clung to the corner of my mind.
By the time I noticed though, the magic circle had already activated……
The scene before my eyes changed completely.
[Toslin]: “……W-What is this……”
Toslin’s grip on Goldmund’s reins tightened as her voice leaked from her agape mouth.
[Carol]: “We’re still underground, aren’t we?”
Carol’s feet mechanically stepped out from the magic circle.
And her boots…..trampled on the fresh, green grass.
[Iris]: “Sky, enclave?”
There was an endless blue sky all around us.
The blue light was so strong, my eyes winced in pain after having grown accustomed to the darkness of the dungeon.
The ground was carpeted in lush green grass……and clouds? In a sea of green, wisps of white cloud were floating just above.
And standing at the center of my gaze.
[Rose]: “…….everyone, there…..”
Rose-san pointed and drew our focus there.
To a castle as white as chalk.
[Iris]: “……Oshunel castle?”
The same castle as what stood at the center of the capital that we visit every day.