A/N: 11/1 – The scene of Kukulkan hatching and other scenes were added.
T/N: I am editing my translating style and removing the “-sama, -san, -kun, -chan, etc.” and replacing it with more western words. I’ll edit the previous chapters.
In the fortress of the Xolotl tribe, a bonfire is being built as a ritual. A flame is burning in the center with firewood arranged in a well in front of Tamiko and me.
They say that when difficulties occur, such as a war, which involves many casualties, they hold a mourning ceremony by burning together some of the victims’ belongings and fur. The faint crackling sound of flames dyes the fur of the solemnly watching Xolotl a bright orange.
“…The lives of our people lost over the past three years have been as heavy and significant to us in our world, the metro.” (Nai)
Chief Nai, who watches the fire next to me, has tears welling up in the corners of his eyes.
“Yet we made it to this day alive… We made it through this ordeal. We were able to overcome this ordeal thanks to the guidance of another ‘Master Threadweaver’.” (Nai)
Nai turns around and bows deeply.
“Thank you very much. Lord Abe and Lady Tamiko.” (Nai)
“Everything went well, but it is the result of everyone’s desperate efforts.” (Shuu)
“We were great, squeak.” (Tamiko)
“You’re getting a big head.” (Shuu)
The body of Arato, the demon after receiving the final blow, melted into a black puddle and vanished without a scream of despair or a lingering curse. Only golden pebbles that had been shattered into small pieces, the “Fungus Stone”, remained.
After that, the wounded were treated mainly by those with [Healer]-sytem Fungal Skills. Immediately after the battle, I ran out of gas again, but Rook’s black sporangium helped me my strength. On top of that, my level had increased by one more level, and I finally reached the 70 mark, which was the cherry on top.
At any rate, the final battle ended in victory for the Xolotl tribe, with not a single casualty. Another objective, the retrieval of Kukulkan’s egg, was also accomplished. It was a tough egg because it remained safe under the rubble even though it should have been crushed.
And as for the Kukulkan egg itself—actually, it has already hatched.
It was not long after we brought the egg here that they hatched. It was a day earlier than Nai had expected, but whether that was just an error, or whether it was because I had startled it with all the slamming around, no one but the snake hatchling could tell.
At any rate, the moment was a mysterious sight beyond description.
As if to signal the completion, a black crack appeared in the robust shell that no one had been able to break. With a faint cracking sound, it slowly disintegrated, having completed its task.
Eventually, a pure white snake peeked out through the cracks.
The snake’s soft skin glistened wet with its own fluids, its eyes were sleepy, and it seemed to be writhing helplessly. Tamiko had called it a “squeaking cute,” but I thought it was god-like.
I could understand why people in ancient times sought for gods and religions in the white snake. The Xolotls, too, I think the adults were crying. They had fought through many sacrifices for this day.
As I turned my eyes toward the snake, I saw a snake hatchling curled up in the center of the straw bundle. It has just finished eating all the food laid out in front of it, gulped down a bowl water, and now seems to be sleeping contentedly. The Xolotls will take care of the snake in place of the parent snake until a certain point (when it dies and becomes nourishment for the child), and eventually return it to the 31st floor.
“Well, what are you going to do now?” (Giran)
“I don’t think we can avoid interacting with the people on the surface. I will have to rely on Mr. Giran for that.” (Nai)
I was very surprised to hear that Giran was talking to Nai in secret. It’s like political and concession negotiations unique to village chiefs.
The hunters who have learned about the existence of the 31st floor will probably advance to the 32nd and 33rd floors through this village. Nai must have been preparing for this when he asked for help for the Xolotls. It would be a turbulent time for the Xolotl tribe.
And it takes several years for Kukulkan to grow up and become the guardian deity of the 31st floor. When that happens, will the hunters become their second invaders?
“We, the Xolotls, the “Thredweavers” and Kukulkan will be able to spin a new bond… We, too, must be prepared. We must also educate ourselves in the New Tokyo language while we are at it.” (Nai)
“It’s important to show off your cuteness.” (Shuu)
“Abe! Tamiko!” (Xolotl Cubs)
Xolotl cubs come running. And we were surrounded by them.
During the mission, I had no chance to talk to the non-combatants, including the children, but now that I have become the hero of the village, the children are more than willing to not leave me alone. Fluffy dogs rush toward us. They come and romp around. I’m ascending heaven in the middle of the day.
“Hey, hey stop that.” (Shuu)
Yes, this is it. I was looking for this.
Yes, this is it. This is what I was looking for.
Harassment from petting is not a crime if they come from the other side. My whole body is drowned by the fluffy stampede, and the innocent hugs, endless barking. In other words, I am happy. I want to live here. Tamiko could only say, “Oh… I’m being squeaked…… so squeak……!” as she is pounced by the Xolotl cubs.
“Hey Abe! Let’s go drinking, Mr. Virgin!” (Midori)
“Virgin [Master Threadweaver]! Master Virgin for short!” (Aoi)
The Xolotl cubs run away like scattering spiders. Oh, no.
The Shishikaba sisters hug me from both sides. One minute a peaceful Fluff Heaven, next I am sandwiched between bouncing sacred mountains ready to suffocate me. I can’t help but think this is my end.
In their hands is a bottle of whiskey. The Xolotls are not in the habit of drinking. In other words, it is their private stash.
“Um… Seriously, please keep it a secret.” (Shuu)
“The urban legend that the [Master Threadweavers] are monsters is true, isn’t it?” (Midori)
“They’re better than us. They’re truly the cheat of the cheats.” (Aoi)
“Is it okay for an injured person to drink?”
Older sister Midori’s right arm and younger sister Aoi’s left arm are missing starting from the elbow. My [Holy Healing] was unable to regenerate their missing limbs, because too much time had passed, they were in a state where they could not be reattached. Their arms are now tightly wrapped in bandages to keep her wounds from opening.
“Well, this will keep us out for a while.” (Midori)
“As for the drinks we’ll be having in the Metro.” (Aoi)
The two women lightly waved their lost arms.
“It is said that it will take time to get [Divine Healing].” (Midori)
“We’re going to take a break from hunting for a while.” (Aoi)
[Divine Healing] is the highest level of the Healer-system, such as [Healing] and [Holy Healing]. It’s a super rare ability limited to the high-rank class of [Healer], [Sage], but only 3 people are known to use it. And all three of them were related to the Metro Church—or rather, they said they were the Founder a [Master Threadweaver] and two high-ranking clergy. In other words, it is practically a Fungal Skill monopoly.
It is said that it is possible to regenerate missing limbs, but the healing requires an exorbitant amount of money in offerings and admission to the Metro Church. The two women initially suggested giving up on the treatment (mainly for the latter reason) and retiring, but Giran, who is well known to the leaders of the church, offered to take care of the matter. He said that they would be able to avoid joining the church, despite the offerings.
“I hope the medical bills don’t blow our earnings this time.” (Midori)
“Let me add a little extra to your cup, Abe.” (Aoi)
So, I had no choice but to join them for a drink. The amber liquid burns my throat. Tamiko and the little Xolotl look at us blankly as we, the three adults shout in unison.
Leaving the bonfire ring to visit the man who was most seriously injured this time around almost upto life and death.
“Oh, Little Shuu. Little Tamiko.” (Kure)
Kure, who has recovered well thanks to [Self-Renewal] and [Holy Healing], is out of his bed and drawing on the ground with the Xolotl cubs.
“I’m not in perfect physical condition yet, and I want to swallow [holy healing]—no my Little Shuu’s balls.” (Kure)
“Don’t say it that way.” (Shuu)
“I need a snack. If you want it, feed me first, squeak.” (Tamiko)
Kure quickly presents an acorn. Our superior put it in her cheek pouch and gave a nod with her chin. I reluctantly created [Holy Healing] and smacked it between kure’s eyebrows.
“What are you doing?” (Shuu)
“Hmm… *lick**lick*…” (Kure)
Kure desperately tried to lap the juice dripping from between his eyebrows. As expected, the little Xolotls are also creeped out.
“Shuu, you were also someone from the world before the collapse, right? Like the other [Master Threadweavers].” (Kure)
“Well, to put it plainly, yes.” (Shuu)
I only gave him a rough explanation about it.
“The Tokyo dialect in this country is based entirely on the Japanese of Little Shuu’s time. The letter structure is the same, kanji, katakana, and hiragana.” (Kure)
“On the other hand, the Roman alphabet and other ‘foreign characters’ have also been inherited to some extent. Literacy rates were low until a few decades ago, but in recent years there has been a Renaissance, especially among young people and middle-class workers, because they think to do this ’emo’. It’s almost more of a fashion statement than something practical, though.” (Kure)
Of course, some of those who survived as “Threadweavers” were foreigners. Giran, too, was blonde-haired and blue-eyed boy before he developed his demi-human characteristics.
“So… about the golem.” (Kure)
“Don’t suddenly change topics.” (Shuu)
“As you know, golems have a pattern on the surface near the vital spot. In the guidebook I read, it says, ‘The less experienced the golem is, the more often it shows up. When a golem gets a chance to be targeted in the vital spot in a battle with a hunter, it learns that the cause of the attack is the pattern it made appear, and it hides it. Makes sense, right?” (Kure)
Knights and Sages couldn’t confirm the vital points due to their complex shapes, but strong individuals such as scorpion golems didn’t have a vital point.
“Isn’t it fine if I don’t put out such a thing from the beginning?” (Shuu)
“I guess that’s true. They may have their own reasons for doing so. So here’s the thing… Rook, who showed up twice today, had a vital point pattern on its left chest. I notice.” (Kure)
“Really? I didn’t notice.” (Shuu)
“I barely noticed it with the [Telephoto]. There is a theory that the vital point pattern ‘looks uniform’, but it was never officially determined what it is. It could be blurred, broken, or too small to see! You, can’t see it! But Rook was so big that I could see it rather clearly.” (Kure)
As one would expect from a man of his talents, Kure remembers what things even if he sees it only once. His hand scrapes the ground.
“It looked like this, but this looks like the Roman alphabet, doesn’t it? I thought Little Shuu would know what it meant.” (Kure)
—When I saw the string of letters, I fell flat on my back. A dry laugh escaped.
“…Are you serious…” (Shuu)
Indeed, it is both a letter and a picture.
To be more precise, it is a corporate logo.
In those days, I saw it almost daily in TV commercials. TAIRA, one of Japan’s leading corporate groups. One of its subsidiaries was also a client of the advertising company where I worked.
Taira Technics was one of the core companies in charge of development for the group’s products. I remember reading in a Nikkei newspaper that “in recent years, the company has been focusing on the development of drones for work in special environments and on-board AI.” As I recall, it was something about “drones for research and exploration of undersea and subterranean resources” or something.
—AI. Oh yeah.
The words from that demon Arato came back in my mind. Metro Beast evolved from AI.
(The golem… is it a product developed by Taira Technics?) (Shuu)
(It has the habit of roaming the underground… Can store minerals…) (Shuu)
(A drone for exploring subterranean resources… is it an organism that evolved from that?) (Shuu)
(Due to the influence of “Super Fungi”? No, no, it’s impossible, right?) (Shuu)
When I looked up, Kure, Tamiko, and the Xolotl cubs were looking at my face curiously.
“…Sho what is it? I thought Little Shuu would know something.” (Kure)
I could only smile wryly and shake my head weakly.
“…I found out that… I don’t understand what I found out.” (Shuu)
A/N: The next chapter will be the final chapter of the Ouji Metro Depths Arc.
T/N: Kure is reliable, strong and smart. He’s also a good-looking beast of a man. He just has a flaw that’s dangerous to our MC (his booty).