Chapter 137: Motive of the Darkness Spirit
After finishing our dinner, I applied purification magic on myself and Estia and instructed her to take a nap.
Estia obediently followed my instructions and laid down.
Since Estia had not shown any act of betraying me at all until now, my trust in her … was still not there.
The reason why was because Estia only showed normal human expression when talking but during combat, she was always expressionless.
It was as if she doesn’t have any feelings or maybe her usual feelings were actually all made up? It was because I felt that way.
“After our nap, we’ll have a meal and then proceed with conquering the labyrinth. Do you have anything you want to ask?”
” … Nothing in particular. Well then, I’ll sleep over at that side.”
While maintaining the smiling mask pasted on her face, Estia took her nap around the center of the room.
I napped while leaning my back against the wall beside the door leading to the 41st floor.
As one might expect, I don’t have the nerves to use my Angel’s Pillow to have a deep sleep in a defenseless state near a party that I do not trust.
Around the time I was beginning to doze off slightly.
Estia suddenly stood up and I felt her draw closer to me so I pretended to be asleep while being on guard.
“I know you are awake. Luciel.”
The one who spoke was the Darkness Spirit who was gradually releasing her pressure.
” … You’ve changed?”
“So you’re awake after all. Estia just fell asleep so I possessed her.”
Why did she possess her after Estia fell asleep this time?
It gave rise to more questions but I questioned her for the reason why she didn’t possess Estia and show herself until now.
“And so? To go through the trouble of getting Estia to challenge the labyrinth and to possess her on this floor, what’s your aim?”
“I only wanted Estia to understand that there are humans who are not driven away by hearing the words ‘Darkness Spirit’. My aim is only that.”
The Darkness Spirit gave a sad look.
From that expression, I felt that instead of the Darkness Spirit, Estia herself was being avoided.
” … Instead of rarely showing her feelings, it’s more like she lacks feelings? Or perhaps there’s an invisible wedge that controls her own feelings to the limit? Such that she always wears a mask on her face … that’s what I’ve felt this time?”
” … Greater than expected deductive ability. Estia’s darkness is definitely more deeply rooted than what Luciel imagines.”
After hearing my words, the Darkness Spirit’s expression gradually changed from the sad look to an astonished one and now it was a smile.
However, until now I still don’t know the Darkness Spirit’s real intention.
Well, it didn’t look like she’ll obediently tell me anyway …
Leaving that aside, I had a question.
“Well, that doesn’t matter to me at the moment. Leaving that aside, for Spirit Magic Swordsman, are they able to form overlapping contracts with spirits holding other attributes? For example, even if there’s no aptitude for the attribute?”
“It’s possible. Well, of course, there’s a trial but it’s not like it’s impossible.”
If that’s the case then Estia is capable of obtaining more strength than she has now.
If it wasn’t a double-edged sword then I would have welcomed it with open arms but …
“I see. Could I ask one more question?”
” … I’m just curious but why did you go through the trouble of becoming a slave and moving to the Dwarf Kingdom?”
The Darkness Spirit’s calm expression hardened in an instant.
” … What do you mean?”
“Don’t play dumb. With a constitution to not fall into status abnormality, drinking poison or sleep pills won’t have any effect. Furthermore, in the event of an illegal slave contract, with you, the Darkness Spirit, around, the kidnapping itself won’t be able to happen in the first place.”
” … Even though you look like you’re bumbling around, you’re actually thinking shrewdly.”
” … Mind your own business. So?”
Although she’s completely treating me as an idiot, for now, I’ll just endure and … give a single word of complaint to the words she said.
” … She was looking for a means to escape the Empire. I granted her wish. I can’t tell you the reason but that’s the truth. I swear that I will not oppose the church headquarters where Ane-sama and the Pope are, as well as Luciel.”
If that was a lie as well, I would lose all trust in spirits … I felt that level of persuasiveness.
“Alright. I’ll trust you, the Darkness Spirit, on that … I can’t give any sound advice but Estia doesn’t trust or rely on people right? No matter how hard it is to believe in people, only Estia herself can resolve the problem.”
“Are you saying to leave it be even if it’s painful?”
“Estia is not the only side laying the bridge when it comes to human relations. If you, the Darkness Spirit, interferes, won’t everyone forget about Estia like she was just an illusion?”
” … I wasn’t aware … I understand.”
The Darkness Spirit nodded and walked back to the center where she was sleeping previously.
“Was I slightly too conceited? Leaving that aside, I wonder what was the reason why Estia wanted to escape from the Empire?”
Since I won’t be able to know without asking her even if I think about it, for the time being, I slept while sitting … but, because I always sleep with Angel’s Pillow, I could not fall asleep while in a sitting position.
” …To think that it would have such an adverse effect.”
With no other choice, I decided to meditate but ended up thinking about things after we conquer the labyrinth and could not focus at all due to my idle thoughts.
By the time I realized, quite some time had passed and I sensed the indication that Estia had woken up so I opened my eyes.
“Have you had enough sleep?”
Perhaps because she did not expect any sound from me, Estia gave a reaction that seemed like a ‘バッ’ sound effect would not be out of place, causing me to laugh out.
“Were you awake the whole time?”
“Yeah. I ended up thinking about things after we conquer the labyrinth so I couldn’t sleep.”
“Why are you apologizing? Shall we eat?”
I’ll try helping her by improving her passive attitude to everything little by little.
“Have some independence. I’ll leave the meal times to Estia. Whichever time you say you want to eat, I’ll follow that timing.”
“I feel that Estia should have slightly more of your own feelings. I’m thinking that this might act as a trigger for that. Either way, we’ll be clearing the labyrinth in half a day so I’ll try testing Estia’s judgement.”
I gave a naggy look and decided to act meddlesome.
” … Will we be having our meal in this room?”
“We can have it in the labyrinth passage as well. Of course, we can only have it leisurely in this room.”
” … Is Luciel-sama feeling hungry?”
“That’s great. If that’s the case, shall we have a simple meal before proceeding?”
I don’t know if this approach will work but I want her to build the bridge in human relations on her own from scratch.
While having that thought, I took out a table and 2 chairs as well as bread, soup, and salad that would make up a light meal from my item bag and set them up.
“Is this alright?”
“That magic bag is amazing.”
“I can’t give this to you. It would be great if we find one somewhere someday.”
” … I agree.”
I tried saying it in a slightly mean way to test her but her reaction was weak.
Or perhaps she just splendidly let it slide. While feeling slightly embarrassed at myself for doing that, I apologized in my heart for causing the resulting delicate atmosphere.
After we finished having our breakfast, we proceeded into the labyrinth.
“From here on out, I no longer have maps that show the shortest distance. However, the location of the traps are clearly listed so please be careful as to not get led into a trap.”
I set off after Estia gave her reply.
Although it’s a labyrinth, since I’ve walked through it once, I found the stairs without getting lost.
Although there are monsters that are at the level that can threaten us, contrary to my expectation, it was still slightly too early for them to appear so it was quite reassuring.
“It doesn’t look like there will be a problem if this is the case.”
“Yeah. In the past, I had to hug this barrel of Object X and run.”
“Object X? That smelly thing? … Why?”
“I was trapped for half a year so my food rations were reaching the end. Even if I wanted to turn back, I could not turn back so it was the only option I could think of when I thought of the shortest method to escape. It was a method that didn’t involve fighting but took the shortest time and the shortest route.”
” … If that’s what happened then you don’t know what appears on this floor?”
“Yeah. Or do you want to carry Object X and walk?”
” … It’s alright. Let’s hurry ahead.”
She weighed the strength of the enemies against Object X in an instant.
She definitely did, since I noticed Estia’s right eyebrow twitch the moment I mentioned Object X.
I don’t know if it’s fine for me to observe her so well but for some reason, I thought that I’d like (her?) to enjoy living. (TL: It’s ambiguous if the author meant that Luciel himself wanted to enjoy living or Luciel wanted Estia to enjoy living.)
We arrived at the 50th floor without any incidents as we talked but when we advanced further, a mass of monsters appeared before our eyes.
” … Can we win against that? Or wouldn’t it be better if we detoured around them?”
What appeared in front of our eyes was a mass of Specter Knight Kings, Wights, and King Wraiths.
“Put on your nasal plug.”
I pulled out Object X without hesitation and opened the lid.
“It stinks and makes me feel nauseous.”
Estia received damage because she hesitated to put on the nasal plug but as a result, the swarm of monsters dispersed.
“Hurry up and put on your nasal plug. We’ll advance this way.”
I hugged the barrel of Object X and began walking.
“But Luciel-sama is capable of defeating the crowd of monsters just now right?”
Estia, who was holding her nose, asked about my actions but I taught her about the reality.
“It’s impossible. The Specter Knight Kings are especially impossible. We’ll be avoiding combat. If you hate wearing the nose plug then let’s quickly clear the labyrinth.”
Under my instructions, Estia advanced while staying in front of me and we advanced through the labyrinth.
She might have a reason why she doesn’t use the nasal plug even though I passed her one but there shouldn’t be a problem since I used purification magic.
Furthermore, I took into consideration that it was for a girl so while it is a nose plug after all, it’s shaped like a nose mask so it doesn’t look as if it’s there when the person is wearing it.
In a way, I also did not clearly state my reason for avoiding the battle.
Remembering the dreadfulness of the Specter Knight King when I applied Extra Heal on it caused my body to tremble. (TL: Reference to Ch33)
Even though I know that the Red Dragon is stronger and has more presence than the Specter Knight King, no matter how strong I become in this world, I swore to myself that I will only never apply healing magic on the Specter Knight King.
Given that I don’t know if it would be defeated even if I deployed 「Sanctuary Circle」 just now, I chose the option to not fight since it could be resolved without fighting.
The 2 of us arrived at the end of the labyrinth, the 50th-floor boss room, while in silence.
I told Estia to prepare to plunge into the boss room as I shut the barrel of Object X but since she looked like she was feeling way too unwell, I applied purification magic and 「Recover」 and observed her condition.
” … Will that monsters swarm return if we wait here?”
“Yeah. The undead fancy the living after all. I’ll follow Estia’s timing to step into the boss room.”
After I said that, Estia took a few deep breaths, looked at my direction, nodded and replied.
I applied 「Area Barrier」 on myself and Estia, pushed the door to the 50th-floor boss room and entered.
Thank you for reading.