Metro Labyrinth Chapter 84: Let’s Be Strong II

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“It looks like everyone has finally fallen asleep.” (Shuu)



 In a corner of the fort, I am alone with Giran. In fact, Tamiko is there, too, but she is sleeping and her eyes are fluttering.


 I think it’s a weird thing to have a secret meeting with another man late at night. I use [Sensory Spores] to confirm that Kure is not nearby.



“The main subject is about what I will report to the guild when we return to the surface. I think you and I will decide on a general direction and share it with others.” (Giran)



 The emergence and defeat of the demons. The fact that the appearance and subjugation of the demon is a national crisis cannot be hidden from the governemnt.


 Even I thought that it would be fine as long as they avoid exposing me. Giran is willing to have you bear the brunt, by becoming the hero. I’d rather give up the honor of discovering the 31st floor.



“But first, you have a lot of questions you want to ask me, don’t you?” (Giran)


“Well… since when did you notice?” (Shuu)


“When we met again, there was a hole in the back of your jersey, wasn’t there? I knew at that point that you had [Asura].” (Giran)


“Oh.” (Shuu)



 Right after the battle with Knight? It’s too elementary of a mistake.



“However, you say that you are a [Light Blade] user. It is a combination that is not normal. Well, the same goes for the breed of dog that Lord Oyama knew, the ‘Chihuahua’, and your own presence is different. I was vaguely convinced that you were similar to a [Master Threadweaver]…” (Giran)


“I see.” (Shuu)



 Although it was partly an irresistible force, it seems that I had been exposed to a lot of minor things. It’s something to reflect on.



“…I understand your desire to hide it… I’m not going to throw sand on the face of my benefactor.” (Giran)


“You have a persuasive power unique to canines.” (Shuu)


“I use it from time to time, though I’m a hominin. I promise to keep your secret, as a comrade-in-arms.” (Giran)



 I feel a little embarrassed but I don’t feel bad.



“Ah, erm… about the boss, or maybe the chieftain of Ikebukuro?” (Shuu)



 Giran scratches his head in embarrassment.



“If our chief knew about it… he would probably try to recruit you at any cost. He loves talented people more than three meals a day. But if that were to happen, there would inevitably be a mess, both inside and outside the tribe. I am sure I will be so busy that I won’t have time to pick up any women. I definitely don’t want that.” (Giran)


“So it’s personal.” (Shuu)



 Well, whatever your intentions are, I’d appreciate it if you’d keep your silence.



“Thank you. I’m fine with that. So… I’m going to change the subject. What’s a demon?” (Shuu)



 Gillan takes out a small bottle from his pocket. Inside is the finely shattered golden stone, a “Fungus Stone”.


 For those of us from a generation poisoned by manga and anime, this is a “what if it comes back!? What do we do?” But Giran says there is no problem because the stone is completely dead. He will submit them to the guild as research material.



“The incarnation of the [Super Fungus], a negative legacy that condemns the misdeeds of mankind. …Various speculations are still being made, but to put it simply, this [Fungus Stone] is the very essence of demons. The [Fungus Stone] is the demon herself.” (Giran)



 He shakes the vial. The fact that such a beautiful little pieces of gold is the very essence of that horrifying monster still doesn’t sink in.



“They parasitize the bodies of other creatures out of nowhere, reading their memories and experiences, and they grow while changing hosts. Eventually, they completely take over their host and become monsters that demonstrate greater power than the host. We call them Demons.” (Giran)


“Parasitize……” (Shuu)



 Oddly enough, I think they are an overlap between golems and zombies.



“The origin, nature, and purpose of the Demons… are still unknown to us. They are alien creatures… but one thing is clear—most of them have obvious malicious and harmful intentions toward humanity.” (Giran)


“Mostly? You mean there were demons who were not hostile?” (Shuu)


“Ah… I heard that there were demons who took a neutral position during the war. I don’t know much more than that. It’s been more than fifty years since they were recognized as the archenemy of mankind, but the demons are still full of mysteries. The church is the organization that is most enthusiastic about demon research, but my knowledge may be just the tip of the iceberg.” (Giran)



 Tamiko can’t join this conversation. Her nose twitching on on my thigh. I guess it can’t be helped because I’m also tired, but it’s an important conversation, so I share it later.



“The self-proclaimed Demon Arato this time transformed into what is called an Awakened Body, a form that exhibits the true power of a demon, but she was clearly inexperienced in handling it. If she had been on the same level as the demons who were active during the war, we wouldn’t be tending to our injuries right now.” (Giran)



 If she were still immature at that level of strength, how strong would a mature demon be? It is hard to imagine.



“On the other hand, there is a theory, not yet officially accepted, that the manifestation of the awakening of an immature demon is identical to the symptoms of what we call the [Demonic Disease]… There are too few cases and too few witnesses to speculate, but I believe it to be a reasonable theory.” (Giran)


“…Demonic Disease…” (Shuu)



 I remember the morephed appearance of the bandits’ boss. That face, the atmosphere, the black bodily fluids overlap with Arato in many areas.


 The chieftain’s eerie lines overlap with Noa’s words. My hero, my sparkle—


 If the hypothesis that Demons are something that changes the host, and is of the same nature as Demonic Disease, is true—



“If that’s true, it would mean that patients of the Demonic Disease are a breeding ground for future demons. They could be the worst bomb of all for mankind. …We can’t leave them alone.” (Shuu)



 Giran clutches his palms tightly.


 After the battle, I confided in Giran about Noa’s strange condition. I did not tell the others who had fainted, but only Giran.


 I did not even tell them that I had fought a man with Demonic Disease. But Giran now seems to have come to the same conclusion as me.



“…your decision on the origin at that moment. What kind of being it becomes. Will it become a disaster for the Country of Threadweavers and you, or will it change history?” (Giran)



 About the silvery-white hypha ball that Noa had created at that time… that something inside Noa had created. Giran guessed that it was a [Spirit Ball] similar in color to the mithril ore we had seen in the hidden warehouse.


 That is a very famous Fungal Skill that brought about a healing effect greater than that of [Holy Healing] and improved various abilities simultaneously. Thus, leading to mankind’s victory in the Demon War. It is said that only one person in the history of mankind, the founder of the church, has used it



 Without it, “that thing” I would not have been able to defeat Arato.


 What was their intention? What did they want?


 What is their true nature? What do they intend to do with Noa?


 —I have to find out. With my own eyes.



“I’ll do what I can. First of all, we need to gather information from the beginning. The church seems to be a crooked bunch, though, so I can’t be too careful.” (Shuu)


“Thank you… I suppose, for the sake of the princess.” (Giran)



 Gillan’s ears twitch.



“When Noa was shot by Arato, that’s what you called her, wasn’t it?” (Shuu)


“…maybe you heard me wrong?” (Giran)


“Do you have any personal connection with that girl?” (Shuu)



 So I wonder if he’s trying to push it deep down in his chest. About what he might know about her.


 Giran stands up and turns his back, shaking his head slightly.




“…You can hear it from her own lips… It’s uncouth for a man to uncover a woman’s past. And…… if possible, I wish to have her keep it in the dark, for her sake.” (Giran)



 He waved his hand lightly without looking back. And then the sound of footsteps moving away. When his back is out of sight, his footsteps hurry back.



“…I almost forgot. We didn’t get to the main topic yet.” (Giran)


“Right?” (Shuu)





 When I go back to the tent to lie down, Noa, who was sleeping next to me, wakes up.



“I’m sorry, did I wake you up?” (Shuu)


“…No, I’ve been asleep for a long time.” (Noa)



 After the battle ended, she woke up several times, but she slept most of the time.


 However, she still looks sleepy. Her eyes flutter sleepily.



“…just checking, but do you remember anything?” (Shuu)



 The [Spirit Ball]—-directly with her mouth–woahwoahwoah.



“…Yes. That Demon shot me. By the time I noticed, it is all over. Well, did something else happened? (Noa)


“No, umm… you didn’t see my awesome heroic form. The time when I kill the Demon using the Red Shiitake?” (Shuu)


“I’m sorry, I don’t… but I wished I could’ve seen it. I wasn’t of any help… I’m sorry…” (Noa)



 Gently I pat Noa’s head. She shakes her head.



“…sparkle?” (Shuu)


“Huh?” (Noa)


“No, nothing.” (Shuu)



 Are they asleep deep inside her? Or are they pretending not to hear me?


 I must exchange words with them again sooner or later. I will have to find out. Someday—



“…If Noa is well tomorrow, let’s leave this place. So, for now, rest easy and have a good night.” (Shuu)


“…Okay, good night…” (Noa)



 As soon as Noa closes her eyes, I heard peaceful breathing. Confirming that, I also sat down next to her.


 I let Tamiko, who was in my pocket, lie next to me, and I also lie down.



“… Abeshuu…” (Tamiko)


“Hmm? Did I wake you up?” (Shuu)



 Tamiko turns over and turns her back to me. Her tail swished.



“…I couldn’t do anything, squeak…” (Tamiko)


“You saved me.” (Shuu)


“The only thing that I could do was to watch, squeak… even though everyone was squeaked…” (Tamiko)



 I hear her sniffle.



“…I want to be stronger, squeak…” (Tamiko)



 I nodded and gently stroked her back.



“Me too.” (Shuu)



 I lie on my back and close my eyes.



“I have to become stronger, to the point where I can protect everyone even against demons. So I need to know more about this world So… starting tomorrow let’s work together again. Let’s work hard.” (Shuu)


“…I will. I will follow you, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“That’s how it should be, sir.” (Shuu)



 I felt something soft on my cheek. Tamiko is rubbing against my cheek. It’s a little hot and it’s harder to sleep, but that’s okay.



“Good night, Tamiko.” (Shuu)


“Good night, Abeshuu.” (Tamiko)





 The next morning, after sleeping like the dead with a sense of accomplishment and exhaustion, we were again awakened by the howling of that werewolf, which only annoyed everyone.


 Noa is feeling better now, and it is time to return to the surface.



 The fortress of the Xolotl tribe where we stayed for a week. The Xolotl cubs and I finally get to know each other. I can’t say that I lived a civilized human’s life, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t regret it. I want to hug everyone goodbye for about an hour each.


 Makko’s face with tears in her eyes saying “Longer, Abe!” what a cutie!



 But before we leave, there is something to do. It was time to split up the quest rewards. So us seven hunters set out for the treasure warehouse of the Xolotl tribe.



“Gems! Give us the jewelry!” (Midori)


“Sis, I found an emerald! It’s a massive haul!” (Aoi)



 The two sisters, with their eyes bloodshot, claw their way through the warehouse, leaving the stunned chief in their wake.



“How ugly, so ugly… so this is what heroes look like…” (Giran)


“”The pervert wolf should suck a snake’s egg!”” (Midori & Aoi)



 Giran has come here in search of gold ore (he wants to make a ring and send it to a girl, which sounds like a motive he has heard somewhere), and he is looking for something that looks like one.



 Kure doesn’t seem to want anything in particular, so he’s randomly looking for treasure. My group were also promised to receive treasures from the request.



 And then there’s me. Mithril, my goal. At any rate, I got my hands on some Ore Fungus that were randomly lying around. How much can we make from this? Basically, I heard it is processed into an alloy, but it would be nice if I could make various kinds of things with it. Hehehe.



 With Giran’s warning, “Consider the future economic exchange with humans, we should be moderate,” we decided to keep to what caught Noa and Tamiko’s eyes. Tamiko is rummaging around for a shiny stone anyway.



 —And Noa is stiff in the corner of the room.


 She starts flipping through her grandfather’s notes while trembling.



“Noa, what’s wrong?”


“…M-M-Mr. Shu, here, let’s take this…” (Noa)



 The pupils are dilated and breathing heavily, and Noa presented a beautiful reddish-orange ore. It was a large Ore Fungus the size of a ball, shimmering like the sun. It is heavier than it looks.



 Everyone gathered around to see what it was.



“We’ve never seen this stone before.” (Midori)


“Looks like it’s worth a lot.” (Aoi)


“Chief Nai, what is this?” (Shuu)


“It’s a stone that our old warriors found on the floor much lower than here.” (Nai)


“…hihi, hihi…” (Noa)


“Calm yourself Noa.” (Shuu)


“Noa broke, squeak.” (Tamiko)



 Looking around at everyone who was shocked (only Giran seemed to notice something and opened his mouth), Noa squeezed out her words with a serious face.



“…I think this is Hihiirokane… it surpasses mithril… it is a great material for making a Parasite Weapon… The strongest metal on the surface…” (Noa)


“…Are you serious?” (Shuu)


“Abeshuu, Noa has the nose of a squirrel, squeak.” (Tamiko)



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