Chapter 2 – The Phantom Forest and Kraken ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ (Part 1)
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My name is Henry Watson.
Walking on the way of the sword, I lived by the way of the sword……it’s like bragging saying it myself, but I’m what you call a Master Swordsman.
In addition, I joined the Brave Party, I’m the one who gave the first attack to the Demon King, and created the beginning of consecutive attacks.
Well, honestly, I’m the world’s strongest Sword Saint that is recognized by everyone.
And then……well, after the Demon King Subjugation, naturally, we returned to our country triumphantly.
It looks like the Demon King is born very often, and the peace that we made……looking from the long history, it is really only a brief period of relaxation though……well, enough of that.
We defeated the Demon King.
Peace had returned.
And, a party was organized when we returned to our country, and we can eat good food and good liquor. I was able to make a little bossy face to everyone, and everyone would cheer me with smiles.
It’s a common epilogue of a hero tale……if there’s that lifestyle, it was enough for me.
……un, it was supposed to be like that.
The venue of the triumphal party, was in the wide inner garden of the King’s castle.
Ranks would be put aside today, and free liquor and food were given to commoners and peasants.
Without distinction of high and low, without discrimination, all of the country’s citizen were allowed to enter the victory party.
In the end, all I did was to drink and get noisy, and after one to two hours after the party started, I was already groggy.
I heard this later on, but it looks like I fainted there while vomiting.
It was after midnight when I woke up.
Everyone, I think that they really cut their loose.
After all, there’re drunks that were collapsed here and there with vomit in them, well that’s really a horrible situation.
I stood up, and while holding my light head, even so, I laughed.
ーーit’s peaceful, I thought.
Released from the fear from the monsters, and had this commotion as a recoil.
It isn’t bad, un, this situation……isn’t bad at all.
And even so, it’s a terrible headache. I could only think that I drank too much.
「I should just feel the night breeze from somewhere high huh」
I spoke that to myself, and went towards the entrance that connects the inner garden to the castle with drunk steps.
I entered the castle.
I went up from the first floor to the fourth floor, continued to walk a little more, and reached the terrace.
The cold breeze tickled my cheeks, and it really feels good with a feverish body
I placed both of my hands to the handrails, and observed the town that spread beneath, and the distant mountain range.
This scenery, no, at a more distant place……thinking that we had protected all of this world, I felt very emotional.
「Un, it isn’t bad……it isn’t……really bad at all」
And when I was getting emotional like that, I suddenly heard a voice from my right side.
Even though I’m drunk……it’s not normal for me to not be able to feel its presence until I was called.
But, looking at the appearance where I glared at, I made a wry smile.
「That’s bad, Narwick. Who’d hide their presence in a place like this」
A silver-haired young man was there.
His pale face that is illuminated by the moonlit nightーーit’s very common, but it can be only called a beautiful androgynous thing.
The key player for the Demon King subjugationーーNarwick the Brave. (TL: Yuusha Narwick).
I can’t see any relaxation to the star of the party’s expression.
“If I’m correct, today’s the victory party right……”, I even doubted that.
Not only that, feeling the tightened atmosphere, I answered while overwhelmed.
「Do you know about the Interstice Labyrinth?」
「I had heard of it. From everywhere at all times, whatever hero it is, it’s the labyrinth that no one had returned from……well, it’s something like a horror story right?」
「……hey, Henry, what are you planning to do from now on?」
「n? Let me think……there’s already invitations to become sword technique instructor and military advisor coming from many countries. Well, that’s also good, but it might be also good to make a dojo in the holy capital using this time’s reward, and make my own sword school」
「Hey, are you content with that?」
Narwick said as if he was really uninterested tone while looking far away.
It’s like the expression of a child looking at the toy that he had played too much with.
「What do you mean by that……? The world’s already at peace, and……」
Together with a sigh, Narwick shrugged his shoulders.
「We are the strongest in this world. There is no longer anyone who can stand against us with individual strength. If it’s a small country, even if we picked a fight with our party head-on……we might even win」
「Aloof. That’s what we are. It’s too late, to return to the normal people, what will you do with that society? Whatever we do, it would only be a way of killing time until we die」
「We……no, a person who could understand me, is most probably……someone, or some kind of monster, that has even, or more strength than me」
I can’t understand what he’s saying at all. But, more than that, Narwick seems, to get strange from how he looks.
His eyes were bloodshot, and he’s spattering his saliva from his mouth.
I knew in an instant’s glance, that it was not from being drunk from alcohol.
「Hey, Henry? Can you listen to my selfishness?」
There was insanity dwelling in his bloodshot violet eyes.
ーーhe isn’t normal.
It wouldn’t be good dealing with him right now. The sixth sense that I gained from placing myself on the battlefield was ringing its loudest alarm inside my head.
I want to leave this place right away, I thought of that, but my feet wouldn’t listen for some reason.
Within the situation that is near paralysation, Narwick continued his words.
「Cecilia and Gato have already agreed. You’re the only one left…….can you enter the Interstice Labyrinth with me」
Silence for a while.
Andーーmy mouth opened.
The completely opposite words that my brain had come up to. I had replied that for some reason.
「But, you, why so sudden? We had just defeated the Demon King you know?」
「I had heard it」
「The calling voice……from the rising dragon dwelling in the deep floors」
After that, I can’t remember it properly.
As if I had walked inside a pinkish fog, as if I was not myself, a light feeling.
And, it’s decided that I would go with him to the labyrinth.
It’s been a while huh! It’s me! It’s Ossan!
Well〜, but, how can I say this, this……”Hyaha〜” tension, I think it’s weird recently.
After all, my real age is 35 years old you know?
I’m starting to think that the tension of a mohican that’s randomly shooting using a flamethrower while shouting “Filth will be cleansed!!” is starting to be bad right.
From what I heard from the rumors, my classmates in high school had married or even had a child, and there’s also ones that were going to be managers……
Compared to that, I’m an S-Rank adventurer in a different world, what the heck am I doing……
ーー”no, isn’t an S-Rank adventurer more amazing than subsection chief or section chief?!”, I don’t need you to point that out.
How can I say this, it isn’t like that you know.
Can you imagine this?
In the stand bar selling pig innards in the underpass of Shinbashi……with a cup of alcohol in my hand, a subordinate and I, was drinking in the third follow up party of the year-end party.
My subordinate is already drunk as fuck. But, I’m a manager so I’m not drunk that much.
And then, I treated him all the bill, took a taxi, and give the driver-chan a ten thousand yen bill.
I told the driver-chan to go until our company’s dorm, and on the other hand, I’ll return to my own house with 30 years of loan using the last train
And then, my waifu will prepare me bath and a simple mealーー
「Didn’t I tell you to mail give me a text if you’re going to be late that much……」
「I’m sorry every time. Thank you. I love you」
My waifu’s cheeks would blush with those wordsーー
Or something like that, and, I’ll be going to the kid’s room.
In the bunk bed, there’s my three-year-old son and six-year-old daughter.
I kissed both of them with my lips with alcohol smell, entered the bath, wake up six thirty in the morning in the next day, and leave the house with my lunch box.
How can I say this, components like that overwhelmingly lacks in this different world. That’s what I’m asking for not something like an S-Rank adventurer alright? Understand?
Lake side in the afternoon.
The lake’s size is about a fifty-meter square. Rather than a lake, it has an impression as a pond.
The forest of chestnut trees spread across the opposite shore, and a beach behind Junpei. That was the safety area.
While sitting on the ground, Junpei who had read the Ossan’s not up until that, let out a light sigh.
「First……I can’t imagine a pig innards store in Shinbashi. I’d never gone there」
It’s true that it’s too reckless telling a high school student to imagine a stand bar selling pig innards.
ーーin the first place, Ossan. What are you planning to do if the ones that reached this floor and read your letter, is someone from this different world, or even though reincarnated from Earth, they’re from America?
While having a headache to the Ossan that was once a neet, Junpei read the next sentences.
But, this labyrinth, I wonder until where it continues.
And, I had thought about something.
We are thinking that the clearance of the labyrinth, is equal to being able to get out in the end……but is that really true?
I know you know this, but my special skill is【Past Peek】.
With that skill, I have seen various kinds of deaths of adventurers, and the conversations that were done there, I could read it using【Lip Reading】, but……this labyrinth really is suspicious.
Recently, I had noticed that there’re three patterns for the guys that are entering this labyrinth.
First is skill test for S-Rank adventurers including me. Well, those guys are mostly selected coming to this floor.
And next is guys that were sent as a sacrifice by their neighbors……placing those guys who had just accidentally entered here in that group, well, anyways, those guys are annihilated in the first floor.
……and, the last group.
It’s not like I’ve seen everything with【Past Peek】. It means that I’m just able to see things that happened there in the past randomly. And there’s also limits on use.
That’s why the lower the floor, it’s 99% that what I would see are massacres.
Even so, I was still luckily to see the 1% success that made me able to reach up until here, but……after coming here, the situation got different.
Although I was only able to see annihilation videos up until now, but recently, videos, where monsters were being massacred instead, are being played often.
That’s not the level of something like S-Rank adventurers, behind its overwhelming battle strength, as if they had known the weaknesses and how to kill those monsters from the start, they had killed the monsters.
Within them, there’s even someone who was repeatedly the floors of this labyrinth that shouldn’t be able to turn back, it looks like something that ridiculous exists. (Well, it seems like its an irregular though).
【Past Peek】is a special skill coming from the Clairvoyance skill tree, so of course, I can only look with it. And there comes【Lip Reading】.
Even though it’s called【Lip Reading】, well, I’m a treasure hunter and it’s not like I’m an assassin or spy so you can guess its accuracy.
And, after gathering information, it looks like the third group that is clearing this labyrinth are aiming for something.
First is to contact something that dwells in the depths.
And the other one is to pass through the depths, and in the deepest partーーafter clearing the labyrinth, they want something unimaginable that is further that.
Their reason for going deep is not to escape.
Knowing all the difficulty, they’re going to this labyrinth in their own will to get that “something”.
……well, that’s something that really doesn’t matter……and, it’s about this floor.
For the meantime, don’t get near that lake or pond. This floor would be decent if you just don’t go near the forest or the pond.
The pond, well……there’s a terrible aquatic being in there. It’s the giant squid monster called Kraken. It’s a very dangerous thing, but it’s nothing if you don’t touch it. However, you can think that you’re out if you got soaked up to your waist.
Move to the waters very very carefully, would be safe.
And, about the forest……for the meantime, absolutely don’t enter it okay? I think that the guys that have【Appraisal Eyes】would probably no how dangerous that forest is.
Of course, I won’t get near that too.
The worst cancer in this floor, it isn’t the pond but the forest you know……
It’s really terrible. After all, the whole forest isーー
And there, Junpei left that note there and stood up.
Looking behind, the slimes that have evolved by making them adapt to the desert environment earlier was lined up.
When he raised his arm a little, the slime entered his item box with very organized movements.
「Well, it’s really terrible huh……even not minding the Phantom Forest」
While going around the pond, Junpei walked towards the forest across the shore.
「If you don’t have【Appraisal Eyes】, you wouldn’t know that this forest is ■■, and you’re going to be forced to work after being trapped inside right? Really……it’s really a hopeless thing」
And he advanced to the forest without hesitation.
The dark dim forest was enveloped by a cold atmosphere.
After walking for a while, the surroundings were wrapped by a dense mist.
「This is……the Phantom Forest huh. I can’t even see a few meters ahead」
Even his feet on the ground were blurry.
And, at the same time when the mist had envelopedーーhis face crinkled with the dense smell of the chestnut flowers.
It is often said that the smell of the chestnut flowers during the rainy season as the smell of a male’s semen, but it was really that smell.
In the situation where your sight isn’t functioning, it would be a very difficult if he was attacked by monsters.
However, Junpei, he didn’t care about the possibility that there would be monsters existing and advanced straight forward.
And then, after walking for a hundred meters, the mist had suddenly cleared.
A trail in front of him, and ahead of that in a small opened space, he could see a log house and a field.
「There was really someone……!」
He approached the log house, and when he was only about ten meters away, he called out with a loud voice.
「O〜i! Is anybody here〜?」
And then, *Gii*, the log house’s door opened, and a man who had a few white hairs that seemed to be in his forties peeked out dubiously.
「Well isn’t this unusual……」
The man who saw Junpei thought about something, and made a wry smile while brushing his beard.
「Welcome, to the Phantom Forest……is it better that I’d say that?」
To Junpei’s silence, the man once again made a wry smile.
「……well, enter inside. I’ll let you drink a herb tea at least」
While being in his full caution, Junpei entered inside the log house. And while being recommended by the man, he took a seat in a rough chair made out of a cut out log.
And finally, the man brought out a herb tea that has a kind smell.
「It’s red rose. It has an effect of calming down the mind. I can see it at a glance you know? You……you’ve had it bad right? Rest first」
After Junpei activated【Appraisal Eyes】 and confirmed if there’s no poison or the kind, he honestly bowed his head and said his gratitude.
「Ah, you can eat the snacks alright. So……in exchange for that, I don’t need to say this, but……uh, I’ve been living by myself for a long time you know?」
「For a whileーーcan you listen to my story?」
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My name is Sword Saint Henry. It looks like, I was caught up in some kind of a terrible thing.
I’m on a floor in the Interstice Labyrinth.
And……ahh……in this floor, it is filled with the sweet smoke coming out from the burnt Mandragora.
It’s the highest level of materials that are usually used by alchemists, it’s a very famous monster that is gathered by adventurers for some change.
It’s a carrot-like plant that has a root shaped like a human, and it’s also a famous story that it would let out a scream when they are picked up. And, it is also very famous, that those animals that hear its scream would die.
As an old way of picking it up, tie a string to a dog’s head, and wrap the other part of the string to the Mandragora’s root.
And when a human calls out the dog from far away, the Mandragora is pulled out, and it would be gathered in exchange for the dog’s death.
It’s an easy way to earn small money for rookie adventurers, so there’s plenty of Mandragora that is circulating.
Actually, I also had gathered them.
And, their amount of circulation, it clearly, exceeds the amount needed for the research materials for alchemy……and it’s circulating in the market, you know.
No, it might be not that correct to say that it’s circulating in the market huh.
Specifically, they are being traded on the black market for a high price.
ーーClass 1 Hallucinogenic Narcotic Drug : Mandragora
A very popular way of using it for beginners is to boil it and making the crystallized components into powder, and sniff it through your nose.
It is said that regulars use intravenous injection to put it inside their body, but if you reach that point, you basically are out already. You can never return to normal life.
Other than that, there’s also the way of smoking the dried leaves as a cigarette.
Its effects are, you will feel an intense pleasure for a few hours, saying it as a man, thousands of times the pleasure of ejaculating semen, and you will feel euphoria.
In recent years, from the effects of Demons appearing, there’s an occurrence of countries itself would ruin even though there are no wars, so the Holy Church had strictly prohibited its use other than for research.
But, that is only what is told in the surface, but the reality’s different.
That’s why, there’s no end for the gathering request for research in alchemy to the adventurers guild.
ーーand, well, the smoke that terrible plant is filling up the air, on top of that……
「Higi! Gii! Gii!!」
A harsh coquettish voice was echoing in the surrounding from earlier.
According to Narwick, next to this would be the floor where the Kraken dominates, and it’s a floor made by the guy currently clearing the labyrinth in the deep floors.
He said, it’s the facility used to send homunculi as meat bags of experience points to the front lines.
There’s the smell of Mandragora, but it looks like I really won’t get a liking to the smell of high purified distilled liquor that envelopes this floor.
This facility is composed of corridors and wall made up of ash-colored materials and with windows that I have never seen before, and partitioned with perfectly straight lines and right angles.
The windows had integrated with the walls with no nails or seams, and I really don’t know how it’s placed there.
「But, what is it really, Narwick, there’s homunculi that are lined up across the window though……」
Embracing in her waist a girl who is in her early teens that he got from the cannibal village, said Sage Gato who had a white-haired head while poking him from behind.
Ahh, now that I think of it, Jii-san is currently on a trip with the Mandragora. That’s why even when Narwick explained about this floor too, he probably didn’t understand at all.
「I won’t explain……the……same…………thing…………twice」
Inhaling a breath from his cigarette, Narwick exhaled a violet smoke while turning his eyes white.
He also started drooling, even if he’s handsome if he’s like that, there’s nothing that can be done.
Sage Gato’s waist had started to have strength in its stroke. It looks like he’s near ejaculation.
He’s so, even though he’s near seventy.
「Higii! Gii! Gii!」
The girl’s voice that can be taken as a coquettish voice or a scream echoed through the corridor.
On the other hand, Narwick, he sat while placing his back to the wall without looking at that scene.
The red win and deer’s dried meat that was inside his stomach was greatly scattered in the ash colored floor.
It looks like the alcohol components and the Mandragora components had repulsed and entered somewhere bad.
And with that posture, he started to whisper something close to a scream as if nothing happened.
「Higii! Gii! Gii!!」
As the Sage’s waist move faster, the girl’s anguish voice gets stronger.
And finally, Gato asked Narwick while placing his hands on the girl’s neck.
「Hey, is it……alright?」
Did Narwick entered a completely bad trip, he was crouching and continuing to vomit while trembling in an abnormal pace.
When I looked at him, he fainted while shedding his tears.
Of course, there’s no reply from Gato.
「Well then, is it alright?」
Gato who didn’t receive a proper reply, got convinced by himself and puts strength to his hands placed in the cannibal girl’s neck.
「Higii! Gii! Gii! Gii!……Gya!?」
Even though he’s a magician class, it’s strangling from Gato who had subjugated the Demon King.
There was no way for a normal human to endure that, the girl’s face colors immediately turned to blue, and changed to violet.
To the girl’s gradually weakening voice, Gato’s waist strokes got stronger.
The girl’s face congests and swelled, and already didn’t have the same shape.
And, he thrust his waist greatly as if to finish.
Gato who had scattered white fluids inside the girl all that he want, nodded very satisfied.
And *Dosari*, the cannibal girl who had turned into a corpse collapsed in her place.
「Not minding Narwick……you had smoked too much you know」
Gato looked at the girl magician that was smoking too much by the wall since earlierーーhe looked at Cecilia, and told her with a sigh.
「Kusukusu……ufufu……kusukusu……un, un, that’s right huh. I can also hear it. Gaia’s voice, the universe’s truthーーahh, the light overflowsーー」
Blond long her in her early thirtiesーーGreat Magician Cecilia is also, had become greatly addicted to the Mandragora Narwick taught her since entering this labyrinth.
Rather than strangling to death the girl he caught, Cecilia who is only escaping from reality without giving trouble to anyone else, is a little bit better……I think.
Anyways, I had lost all hope looking around.
Brave who’s in the middle of a bad trip full of vomit.
Girl Great Magician who’s talking in delirium in ecstasy.
Hustle Jii-san who’s in his sixties.
Everyone other than me is addicted to Mandragora……what a ridiculous Brave Party this is.
On top of that, in this chaotic condition, we have to clear the labyrinth with a ridiculous difficulty.
I was attacked by the feeling of throwing everything away, and got on my wit’s end.
Consecutive fights after consecutive fights, losing all hope after losing all hope. In reality, There’s also monsters that made me think that Demon King was a cute one……no, there’s almost only those kinds of monsters.
And we’ve come here being able to defeat them somehow……hey, a-re? Monsters stronger than Demon King……how did we defeat it again?
Since entering this labyrinth, I feel like there’s a blur in my consciousness, and my memories aren’t clear.
Sage Gato who should’ve continued a lifestyle with the principle of abstinence and closing himself in the mountains eating haze, even if there’s the effect of Mandragora, I can’t remember how he became like this.
When I was thinking of that, Narwick who should’ve been in the middle of a bad trip was standing on my side.
「……isn’t it fine not caring about the details? Without holding back, how about one?」
What he reaches out to me is a Mandragora cigarette. I shook my head sidewards.
「Unaffected and sincere, and fearless. Kind to everyone without discrimination, and strict to one’s self……why did someone like you is addicted to drugs…….on top of that, raping children together with Gato……」
I know, I remembered.
In the first place, this Mandragora, it’s something that we got from Narwick after fighting the boss of the first floor, the No Life King. Taking a glance at the No Life King, with Narwick’s suggestion, we were able to get through that floor. At that time, Narwick gave that to us, who had felt fear to the abnormal battle strength of the monsters, saying that it’s a drug that makes one’s mind calm.
「Ahh, it’s true that I changed. After all, I’m being called」
*Nikkori*, he made a smile as if it was an innocent boy.
「The promised holy land. The depths of the labyrinthーーthe abyss’s……I had received the invitation to the area that is even equal to God」
Narwick who looked at me who’s making a dubious face very troublesomely, took the Mandragora in his hand to his mouth, and light it on fire.
And he took a puff, and he reached out the remaining to my mouth.
「Don’t might the details, right? Henry?」
I can’t remember clearly after that, but when I noticed it, we were started walking to the next floor.
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*Sponsored by Sean Emanuel-sama.