Metro Labyrinth Chapter 160: The Culprit

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~3rd Person Perspective~



 It was the night that Noah and the others joined up with the “Dignified Fungal Balls” and the others.



“It’s not all about winning wars when surviving, you know. Humans are a pain in the ass in many ways.” (Balls)



 For Giran, it was a battle he was prepared to give up his position and his life.



 Despite this, he was defeated without knowing what had been done to him, and he was left unscathed and humiliated as a prisoner of war. It is no wonder that his proud fur has lost its elasticity and luster and has become limp.



“Beasts are nothing more than tools, or weapons at best. As long as the quality is not questioned, the ‘dependent’ beasts can be mass-produced in any number of ways, but this is not the case with human pawns. For an organization like ours, the more human companions we have, the more welcome we are.” (Tsuruhashi)



 A few days ago, Giran found himself in this room. Surrounded on all sides by windowless rock walls, the room was dimly lit by the bluish glow of firefly moss. Judging from the spores and the distinctive smell of dampness, it must be a metro somewhere.




“… do you think I’ll be under your thumb?” (Giran)


“You’re still a stubborn dog. A Shiba Inu who stopped walking in the middle of a walk.” (Tsuruhashi)


“I have no reason to support you. If you don’t like it, kill me.” (Giran)


“Well, that’s what I expected, it’s just very stereotypical.” (Tsuruhashi)



 The self-proclaimed Tsuruhashi Minato was lying on the floor with his chin resting on his hands. He looks slovenly and defenseless, but Giran knew he wasn’t the kind of opponent to be caught off guard.



“But, Taichi. Someday you’ll wag your tail at me on your own accord… I think that’s a flag like in a manga, hyahyahya.” (Tsuruhashi)



 Giran moved away from the wall and sat down in front of the man.



“I’m tired of hearing speculations. If you’re going to persuade someone, why don’t you give something?” (Giran)


“Oh, good. What do you want?” (Tsuruhashi)


“Why do you call yourself the ‘Cross Border Brigade’? Even if you say you need fighting force, these ones are still children.” (Giran)


“I don’t have a hobby of raising kids and drunks. They’re my trump cards.” (Tsuruhashi)


“Trump cards?” (Giran)


“The reason why I was particular about the ‘Cross Border Brigade” wasn’t just because the cover was suitable for customizing. The important thing is those kids. By the way, Kawataro is not really a member of the group, but he is just a guardian.” (Tsuruhashi)



 The girl named Toroko, who has even cornered Abe Shuu, is certainly a threat. But the other children, as far as Giran can tell, are beginner level by hunter standards. He doesn’t think they have the ability to be called trump cards.



“You’ve heard about ‘Calamity Tail’ haven’t you? It’s a ‘cursed knife’ that seals out all kinds of Fungal Skills. It’s a super-cheap weapon that can even hit a ‘Master Threadweaver, but on the other hand, there are some restrictions that make it a bit of a pain in the ass.” (Tsuruhashi)


“Restrictions?” (Giran)


“Only people from the village of Hikifune can use it. The actual principle is not really clear, but it’s not possible for other people to use that knife to trigger the curse. Even I, a ‘Master Threadweaver’, can’t activate the curse. There are various factors that can be verified, such as bloodline, genes, upbringing, age, and so on, but the answer has yet to be found. In other words, they are valuable trump cards with limited remaining ammunition, since there are no more survivors in the village.” (Tsuruhashi)



 The Commander gets up and scratches his legs.



“The babysitter, Kawataro-kun, is well-loved by the kids, so he’s perfect for that, but he’s not particularly good at it. He’s not particularly weak, but the inflation is terrible these days. I’m sure they’ll be happy with you too, kids like dogs, right?” (Tsuruhashi)



 Grrr, Giran’s throat rumbled unconsciously with anger.



“So, you want me to draw a bow against Ikebukuro and the Metropolitan Government?” (Giran)


“Yes, the only time you were a traitorous wolf was during that coup d’etat. But you’re wrong about one thing. My target is neither the Tokyo Metropolitan Government nor the Church.” (Tsuruhashi)


“Don’t be ridiculous! Whether it’s Ikebukuro or Sugamo, what are you planning on doing now–” (Giran)



 The moment Giran was about to attack, the commander’s palm reached up to Giran’s mouth and interrupted his words. The person himself did not move from the spot, literally only his arms stretched out like snakes.



“I was also planning to mess up this country for both pleasure and my gains. But I can’t say that anymore if it’s true that an ‘Apostle’ has been born.” (Tsuruhashi)


“…‘Apostle’?” (Giran)


“The bald old man’s idle talk from more than half a century ago has become a reality. The reality of ‘Izanami’ and ‘Izanagi’ is also true. This is no time for humans to be fighting each other, and if you get in my way, I’ll kill you.” (Tsuruhashi)



 The hand returned to its original position, and this time his fingers extended toward the ceiling.



“…what the hell are you talking about–” (Giran)



 The fingers branch out. From one branch, another branch is born, drawing a pattern in the space like a silhouette of a tree.



“Ah, you don’t know what I am talking about, but even I don’t know what I am talking about. According to what I’ve heard, they’re the ones who caused the ‘Tokyo Judgement’. Or maybe it’s the god who created this World of Threadweavers.” (Tsuruhashi)



 A fire flared at the base of his finger.



 The fire gradually rises, following the branches and spreading everywhere. At the end, it flashes like fireworks and turns into ashes and falls down.



“Our goal is to break down that damn wall and get out of this box of shit. No one is going to stand in our way, not the people of the thread, not the demons, not the gods.” (Tsuruhashi)



 The leader bared his teeth like a raging beast and squeezed his hand, which had somehow been restored to its original state.



“…why are you telling me such an outrageous story…” (Giran)


“I’ll tell you one more thing to make you want to cooperate with me, and wait for it, it is my background.” (Tsuruhashi)



 The man smiled and hid half of his disfigured face with his hand.



“It wasn’t that I was prudish. I just didn’t want to tell you because I was embarrassed. It’s just that I’m so embarrassed that I’m showing you my butthole. I’m only going to say it once, but if you tell someone else…” (Tsuruhashi)





“–It seems that the conversation was quite lively.” (Kawataro)



 Kawataro called out to the commander who came out humming.



“Well, how do you feel?” (Kawataro)



 Before the door closed, Kawataro caught a glimpse of Giran through the gap. He was slumped over and looked devastated.



“I don’t know. I even showed him the hairs of my butthole.” (Tsuruhashi)


“Hairs…?” (Kawataro)


“It’s a metaphor. Well, I tickled his loyalty to me and his guilt for killing me. He’s a house dog after all, and I don’t expect him to leave Ikebukuro completely. It’s good to have an insurance policy in case of emergency, and it’s even better if it gives me a chance to connect with Ikibukuro behind the scenes.” (Tsuruhashi)



 There are still many “sympathizers of the Tsuruhashi family from the old Ikebukuro days” in Ikebukuro. They are former conservatives and fallen members who have developed a grudge against the current Ikebukuro.



 The Commander himself is not planning to return to the Tribe. Their presence can be both an aid and a spark for the brigade, and with the “King Slayer Silver Wolf” in the mix—Kawataro can’t even imagine what will happen next.



“Well… it’s been three days since we came here, what are we going to do now?” (Kawataro)



 This is an unnamed metro in the southeastern part of the Nakano Forest area, a little closer to Shinjyuku. The shallow area where Kawataro and the others are stationed is free of metro beasts, and has been renovated to provide a water source and living space for those who can’t walk under the sun.



“It’s been years since I’ve been home, but I think it’s time for me to leave it at that.” (Tsuruhashi)


“…are those two coming?” (Kawataro)



 “Holy Silver Puppeteer” and “Dignified Fungal Ball”. They are a monsterous combination that stands shoulder to shoulder with the commander.



“It depends on how motivated they are to get the doggie back, but if they’re still after him, they’re probably close by now. Or the Nakano village guards. If they sense us, it’s Queen Spider who will come out.” (Commander)


“That’s scary.” (Kawataro)



 She was a top-ranked player when Kawataro was active. Kawataro had never imagined that she would be in such a remote area until the commander told him.



“Then what are we going to do?” (Kawataro)


“Don’t worry about it, we’ll meet them here. If we’re in the metro, I can fight with all my might.” (Tsuruhashi)



 The smirk on his face was so wicked that it was hard to believe he was also human.



“They’re all good pawns, and I’d love to have them. But I don’t know their personalities, and I don’t think they can be bought.” (Tsuruhashi)


“…The pawn that the commander wanted the most, was that ‘Master Threadweaver’ brother.” (Kawataro)


“Hmm? Ah. I think I will get along well with him. If my predictions are correct, he’s the same as me.” (Tsuruhashi)


“I don’t think it’s possible for that brother to join us.” (Kawataro)



 The metro was remodeled and turned into a base of operations by the commander and some of his subordinates at the time. The mass disappearance of carbuncles triggered a major strengthening of security measures in the village of Nakano, and this man is the mastermind behind it.



“After hurting his comrades at the festival the other day, and talking about the bad things you did here… both are the worst landmines for him.” (Kawataro)


“That’s right. Extreme pet lovers are there in any era…” (Tsuruhashi)



 The commander, who was about to say that, stood still and suddenly looked up at the ceiling.



“…I don’t know who that is, but someone entered the metro.” (Tsuruhashi)



 Kawataro, too, looked up, but this is the fifth underground floor of the labyrinth. If someone is trying to pass through the entrance, there is no way they would know it. If it were a normal human being.



“It’s a little stronger than I expected, but it can’t be helped. You should tell the other guys…” (Tsuruhashi)



 Again, his words stop in the middle.



“…commander?” (Kawataro)



 His expression at this moment was something Kawataro had never seen before.


 Surprise, vigilance, and—fear?



“…what is this presence?” (Tsuruhashi)



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