Metro Labyrinth Chapter 7: Eat My Balls
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It’s a kind of phantom monster familiar to some fantasy novels. A good kanji for it would be “Wraith”? [T/N: 幽鬼 or yuuki meaning ghost, revenant, the spirit of the dead, or wraith.]
Of course, what we see before us is not a glowing spirit. It is a living beast. The name is probably derived from its pure white-robed-like appearance.
A Wraith. Aside from the Unicorn, it is on of existence on the highest level on the 50th underground floor of the Outsuka Metro, along with the Ogre and the Orthrus.
According to Tamiko, they are at least level 50. That’s three times as high as me.
“…A mantohihi… like creature…?” (Shuu) [T/N: Mantohihi or hamadryas baboon (Papio hamadryas) or sacred baboon.]
Maybe it’s because I can’t sense any strong killing intent from my opponent. I have the time to calmly observe the other party.
Its long straight hair is like a white robe draping its whole body. It covers snuggly from its head to wrists and ankles and hangs down limply.
The face peeking out from the long hair is that of a skinny ape, reminiscent of a skull. Its round eyes look as if only the black ones are visible, or as if they are black holes.
It looks to be nearly two meters tall. Its physique is hidden by its body hair, but it is probably quite slender. It has unusually long arms. At the ends of its bare limbs are five knobby fingers.
“…I couldn’t hear its footsteps…” (Shuu)
If it were a real ghost, but this guy is a Metro Beast, a living creature. Even though the Goblin’s attention was focused on it, neither I nor Tamiko was aware of its approach until we saw it.
–It has a Fungal Ability. Similar to the unicorn, it has the ability to muffle the sound of its movements.
How does it work? I have a feeling that muffling sounds have nothing to do with mycelium.
The Wraith does not move even a single muscle like a cormorant as they stare at me with their hollow eyes. Not even the rise and fall of breathing. It’s almost as if it is really a ghost.
―No, it’s not. This monster’s presence is not an illusion or a trick.
It is different from the violent intimidation of a strong beast, there’s an unfathomable eeriness lurking in its stillness.
Its presence is drenching my skin with cold sweat.
I’ve never seen anything like this before.
(–I don’t like it. I can’t do it.) (Shuu)
(I definitely don’t want to fight, but…) (Shuu)
I don’t think it will let me get away that easily.
“…Tamiko, you should escape first. I’ll buy us some time…” (Shuu)
I kept my eye on the Wraith as I step back
“…Abeshuu, but…” (Tamiko)
Tamiko sounds like she’s about to cry.
The Wraith opens its mouth slightly. Its voice is muffled, like air through an iron pipe.
Slowly, its long arms rise and its huge body swells.
――No, it did not. It just closed the distance in an instant. Without changing its stance, it moved with such speed that I would have thought it was teleporting.
The long arm swings down at an angle. I quickly raised my shield to catch it, but the impact passes through my shoulder and I am slammed head first into the ground. Bouncing and rolling on the ground, I fell flat on my back.
The light from the [Firefly Moss] on the ceiling seems as far away like the ends of the universe.
—This is where I’ll die.
Realize it in my mind and my whole body.
My breath is stuck in my throat as I coughed up blood. But my lungs won’t take in air.
My shield is shattered. My left forearm is bent like a piece of wire, my bones are poking through my skin. Several ribs on my chest are crushed. I can no longer feel anything but pain.
Even though I heard Tamiko’s voice calling out to me, I could not muster the will to get up.
It grabbed my head and lifted me up. My legs dangle, and my body is suspended in midair.
Wraith pulls back its right hand. Its hollow eyes are staring at me.
My cries are choked with fear.
Slowly, like a vise, the power is put into your right hand.
My skull was creaking. As if it was looking for a reaction, the wraith cranes its neck and stares deeper.
With my trembling hands, I grab at the Wraith’s wrist. I squeezed with all my might, but the arm won’t budge.
“Ah, ah–!” (Shuu)
My field of vision is dyed crimson. There is another ominous sound, and blood spurts from my temple.
“Ah, ah–!” (Shuu)
With a high-pitched cry, Tamiko jumps on the wraith’s right arm.
“Squeaking Ape! Get your squeaking mitts of Abeshuu!” (Tamiko)
Her head is buried in white fur. She seems to be biting it.
With a thud, the Wraith’s palm strikes its arm.
Slowly, it raises its hand to reveal a red blotch on its right arm. It was as if it had squashed a mosquito that had sucked its blood.
A lump falls to the ground from there. Tamiko’s bloodied body curled up.
Something suddenly snaps inside me.
I punched the Wraith’s right arm with a strength I thought I never had. I hit it. But its restraints will not loosen.
I stopped my fists and summoned a red cocoon-like ball on my fingertips.
“Take this!” (Shuu)
I threw it directly against the wraith’s right arm.
It’s a Burning Ball. It explodes, with triple the firepower.
The grip strength that grabs the head loosens, and in that gap, Shuu unleashes with all his might.
As I try to scoop up Tamiko’s body, I notice that my hand is blown off starting from my right wrist. As I noticed, severe pain pierced my brain and I staggered uncontrollably.
I look up and my eyes meet the Wraith’s gaze. The hollow gaze is still there, but wrinkles that look like blood vessels are raised at the corners of its eyes, between its eyebrows, or rather all over its face. The fur near its right wrist, which was exposed to the triad of [Burning Balls], is burnt, but there seems to be little damage.
It opens its mouth wide and lets out an inorganic howl that sounds like a siren. It is clearly angry. It is emitting a killing intent that can be clearly felt.
Then, it locks the fingers of its left hand together and shoots it straight out like a lance.
Shuu evades it but his torso is still gouged out as it stretched and followed him like a big snake. The next moment, however, the impact comes from his back.
A large number of blood spills from his mouth. The Wraith’s finger protrudes from the side of his navel. The arm, he realized, was bent at a right angle, ignoring the structure of its joints, and penetrated Shuu from behind.
“Buhbuh! Buhbuh!” (Wraith)
The Wraith’s mouth twists into a grin as if it is proud of its victory. Its eyes turn from perfect circles to sharp crescents.
It pulled Shuu’s slack body up to its face. Then, it opens its mouth. As it plans to swallow Shuu’s whole head in a single bite, it was so wide its ears looked like they are going to be torn apart.
“—Are you an idiot?” (Shuu)
Shuu spits it out with blood and shoves his left hand, still broken, into the wraith’s mouth.
And now Shuu laughs. This time, he laughs with rage that threatens to tear his body apart.
“Eat my balls!” (Shuu)
Before the Wraith can bite off his arm, Shuu crushed the three Hypha Balls that he made.
From the Wraith’s mouth, nose, and from its hollow eyes.
Light and flames spurt out with a roaring howl, and the giant Wraith collapsed.
“Gnbuuuh! Gnbuuuh!” (Wraith)
Surprisingly, Wraith is still alive.
Its face is torn from the inside out, tears of blood streaming from its eyes, but it is still flailing and writhing, flailing and flailing wildly. At the same moment, the finger that pierces through Shuu’s body slips out, and he is thrown to the ground.
“…Tamiko, Tamiko…” (Shuu)
She remains down close by. She does not answer. Her eyes are closed and her tiny body is still in a crumpled ball.
Shuu somehow lifts her up with his already regenerating right hand and gently puts her in his pocket.
Where she had fallen, the remnants of a mycelium structure are broken and scattered.
Tamiko’s second Fungal Skills, [Hypha Shell].
She creates a hard mycelial shell on her torso, an ability we call [Hypha Shell] because it looks like a turtle’s shell. It seems that just before she was crushed by the Wraith, she activated her Fungal Skills.
As one would expect from his teacher. She had immediately taken at least some amount of precautionary measures.
Still, her injuries were deep.
(She’ll be okay, Tamiko will not die.) (Shuu)
(She can’t die, she won’t.) (Shuu)
Telling himself this, he begins to stagger along. Just before turning a corner, he looks back and sees that the Wraith is still thrashing about a vortex of destruction.
Frantically, he dived into the hole in the hiding place and moved the stone cover with his foot to block it.
Once in the small room, Shuu kneels down, collapsing to his knees.
“Hah, hah…” (Shuu)
I made it back here alive.
I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I escaped from that monster.
Once again, my body trembles. But relief, fear, and excitement can wait. Now is not the time to dwell on those.
With my regenerated hand, I pull Tamiko out of my pocket. I am horrified to see that her back is red and wet, but I realize that it is my blood when I was stabbed through the belly. I lay her down on a fur blanket.
Her limbs are bent in an unnatural direction. Her tail is slackly thrown out, and her white, shiny belly is smeared with blood. It is obvious that she is seriously injured.
I called out to her, but she did not respond. When I gently touched her neck, I could still feel her pulse. Her abdomen is moving up and down faintly. She is alive, for now.
“Tamiko, hey!” (Shuu)
I raise my voice even more. Still, she doesn’t wake up. She can barely continue to take short, thin, weak breaths.
“You’re a magic beast! Don’t you f*cking act like a weakling with just that f*cking ape’s fly swatter!” (Shuu)
What should I do?
I’ve never treated an animal before. I can’t even diagnose their injuries.
Anyway, I need all the medicine I can get. I gathered all the medicinal herbs I had collected so far under Tamiko’s direction.
I grind herbs for abrasions, cuts, and bruises, and apply them to Tamiko’s body.
The juice of the herbs, which is said to speed up the healing of wounds, is put in Tamiko’s mouth. A little goes down her throat, but most of it leaks out the edge of her mouth.
“Tamiko… Just hang in there… I’ll take care of you…!” (Shuu)
I cover her with my palms to warm her up. My hands were trembling.
“For trying to help me…” (Shuu)
You are weak, and you are more cowardly than most people I knew.
“But because of me… Because I was weak…” (Shuu)
My spirit was completely broken at that moment.
I was so scared that I stopped thinking and accepted that I was going to die.
In fact, I would have been. If Tamiko had not been there to protect me.
“F*ck it… We’re going to the surface together, Tamiko!” (Shuu)
Is there anything else I can do?
Even if my hand is blown off or my stomach is pierced, it will heal on its own.
Is there nothing I can do to save my partner who is suffering from her injury?
Is there nothing else? If I could heal her, I would do anything.
Wraiths or Ogres, I’ll hunt them down. That’s why—
“Hey, what should I do? Without you, I’d be …… Tamiko!”
What are my abilities for?
Why did I wake up in this world?
In this incomprehensible world.
What is the purpose of this power if I can’t even save my partner?
I found myself with a sphere growing in my palm.
My fifth Fungal Skill is the milky white sweet Hypha Ball.
I did not intend to produce it myself. It was unconsciously made.
And while still doubtful, I squeezed it.
The whitish liquid spills out and falls all over Tamiko’s body.
The liquid is absorbed into Tamiko’s body like a sponge.
Tamiko’s blood-soaked belly is cleansed.
Her bent limbs gradually return to their proper shape.
A glob of blood is spat out from her mouth, and then…
“…Abe… Shuu…?” (Tamiko)
Tamiko’s eyes flutter open.
I slumped down and clenched my fists. I bit my lips hard.
“…Why… you crying, squeak…?” (Tamiko)
“…I’m not crying. I just have some juice in my eyes.” (Shuu)
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