Depths of the Otherworldly Labyrinth
[Translator – Mab]
[Proofreader – ilafy]
Chapter 42 - The Nightfest Four Days Before The D-Day
After seeing off Ragne-chan and Radiant-san, we headed home.
Maria, who was cleaning and doing the laundry, noticed our return and looked troubled.
“Welcome home, Master, Lastiara-san. The both of you sure are early. I haven’t prepared a meal yet…”
Apparently, our return was too early. With that much spare time, I planned to go shopping and visit Dia on the way, but Lastiara caught me in my tracks.
“Why don’t we go to the festival, then?”
Lastiara seated herself in the living room when she invited me to join.
“Yup. Whoseyards is in the middle of the festival week. We will celebrate the annual Holy Birthday in four days… So, the whole country will be celebrating for the whole week until the D-day.”
“Aah, I’ve heard that before.”
From Dia, if I recalled correctly. I had promised to hang around with him that day, as that would be the day of his hospital discharge as well.
“I’ve never gone to the festivals themselves, so I’m very interested.”
“Well, it’s not like they don’t interest me either.”
I did have an interest in a festival of a different culture. I didn’t go to festivals much in my previous life—I couldn’t go even if I wanted to; that was why festivals sounded really attractive to me.
“Which means we’re going. Let’s go.”
“Yeah. We need to buy more water anyway.”
I agreed with that notion. It might turn out to be a meaningless event, but it would be a nice fill-in for the spare time. We only needed to refill our water canteens, anyway.
Maria stopped her cooking prep when she heard me casually agree to Lastiara’s invitation.
“W-wait. Doesn’t that mean… you two are going to have a d—”
But then she stopped mid-sentence. I turned to Maria and, for a moment, I saw her face looked vexed, but that expression disappeared as soon as it showed.
Was she thinking that we would leave her behind? Lastiara stifled a laugh and didn't try to say anything to her.
Leaving me the only one to say anything.
“Come with us, Maria. Get ready.”
“Eh, can I?”
“Of course you can.”
I wouldn’t be able to call her my friend or companion if I didn’t invite her.
“But I need to cook—”
“Let’s eat out today. All three of us.”
I insisted. I even pulled her by the hand all the way past the front door.
“Let’s go. Show us the way, Lastiara.”
“Fufu. Sure thing.”
Lastiara stood to her feet, grinning all the while. It’s good that she was having fun, but she couldn’t be much more annoying. I knew she wanted to invite Maria too, and she decided not to say a word about it. She even bothered to make me invite Maria for her own enjoyment.
“Less snickering and more guiding.”
I hand-chopped Lastiara on the head, and we left the house behind.
My house wasn’t that far from Whoseyards. Being close to the Labyrinth that was at the center of the four Allied Nations meant that it was also close to the other countries.
The festive atmosphere was immediately noticeable after an hour’s walk. There seemed to be no doubt that Whoseyards was holding a country-wide festival. Its enthusiasm was tremendous, even at the edge of the country.
As we entered the main streets of the city, we found many stalls lined up in a row. The shopkeepers were shouting and trying to attack customers. Some of them were selling food, some were selling trinkets, and many various genres of attraction.
The food culture in this world intrigued me, thus, naturally, my eyes fell on the lined-up food stalls. There were some easy pastries similar to what I’d see in my world, but there were also many dishes I had never seen before. There were also some cooking utensils I didn’t recognize. When I noticed that the stalls used magic stones as a heat source and knives that seemed likely to have some magical effects, it seeped into me that I really was in a whole different world.
Baked goods I’d never seen… Assorted weird nuts… Grilled unique meat skewers… Loaves of bread so huge no one should be able to walk around carrying them… Naturally, all of those foods were new to me.
With all those foods which I couldn’t begin to imagine the taste of, my excitement got the better of me.
“Master, we’re only at the food stalls…”
I had been scurrying around restless like a country bumpkin, and Maria warned me for it.
“W-well, it’s kind of a rare sight, so…”
“Holy Birthday festivals happen everywhere annually. The food stalls are the standard, you know…”
It was, apparently, a familiar sight for Maria. She seemed to be unfazed by the marvelous sight.
For me, however, it was not the case. Maria didn’t know about my situation, so she didn’t understand why I found the sight so fascinating.
“Well, we didn’t have festivals like this in my hometown, so it’s very new to me.”
“Eh, but you’re from Fania, aren’t you Master?”
“Y-yeah. I lived on the edge of Fania, where the festivals didn’t reach, so this is my first at a festival.”
Maria parroted my word. She didn’t sound convinced, but the longer I continued to talk about my hometown, the more my lies crumbled. Pretending to be taken in by the festivities, I steered away from Maria.
As I observed my surroundings, I passed a group of people in costume. They were wearing animal pelts and headgears, probably dressing up as wolves or bears. There might be some meaning in dressing up like that in the festival.
I turned to Lastiara, who seemed to know a lot about Whoseyards, and asked her about it.
“Hey, Lastiara. What is the meaning of dressing up in a costume like that?”
Lastiara, who had been leading the way, turned to me and answered excitedly.
“Eh, you don’t know?”
“Yup. I told you this is my first time.”
Lastiara was looking around just as much as I did, her voice all over the place. Maria looked startled when she heard it as if she just saw a ghost.
“Is this really your first?”
“Shamefully, yeah. I had things holding me up, so this is actually the first time I’ve gone to the festival downtown. Which means Maria-chan’s the most experienced between the three of us.”
“U-unbelievable… Not one, but two…”
“That costume also piqued my interest. Tell us what it means, Maria-chan!”
Lastiara fell back and moved next to Maria. As the three of us began to walk side by side, Maria began her explanation.
“The costume you just saw is a costume to pray for good health. The origin is a myth common in the continent—by dressing up as one of the companions of the legendary saintess Tiara Whoseyards, we are hoping for her blessings. It is said that the closer we are to the date of her birth, the more of the saintess’s power will return to the continent, so many people spend the time during this festival in costume.”
“Aah~ Yup, yup, I recall even hearing that.”
Hearing the explanation, Lastiara clasped her hands together as though to recall it.
“Come to think of it, you have a similar name to the saintess, Lastiara-san. Did your parents give it to you hoping for the blessings of the saintess?”
“Oh, that’s Maria-chan for you! Yup, you got it right.”
“It’s an auspicious name.”
Like it was nothing, Lastiara lightly affirmed it, and Maria smiled at it.
That was, however, not a smiling moment for me. Maria didn’t know, but Lastiara’s surname was Whoseyards. Thus, I couldn’t help but have a sneaking suspicion that there might be some circumstances at play surrounding her.
We walked through the streets of Whoseyards while listening to Maria’s explanation. The festival was most active in the center of the city, so our feet naturally went in that direction. If I were to say which street, it would be street number 50.
“All right. Maria-chan, let’s buy and snack all we can!”
“Eh, I’d rather not. Food at festivals is expensive and wasteful.”
“—?! But then, what’s the point of coming here if we don’t eat?”
“I’m fine just watching.”
Maria certainly had a point. Even I, terribly unfamiliar with market prices in this world that I was, could tell that the items in the stalls were overpriced. Maria was used to the festivals, so for her, the things there were just expensive for no added value.
I’d pity Lastiara if that continued, so I threw her a lifeboat.
“Give it up, Lastiara. I’ll accompany you.”
“No choice then… I gotta make do with Christ.”
Lastiara seemed to want to play with Maria more than me. She looked dejected and reluctantly agreed.
Either way, we decided to head to the heart of the festival, eating and shopping as we went, but along the way, it turned into a game of getting Maria to buy and snack, which she was reluctant to do.
“—Oi! Lastiara! Look, they’ve got something weird here!”
“Uwah, that’s awesome! What is this?!!”
And within an hour, between Lastiara and I, our excitement peaked.
At first, I was trying to play it cool, but there were just so many novel and unusual things that I couldn’t contain my elation. Lastiara reacted to the festival in the same way I did, so we couldn’t help but get excited together.
“That’s a child’s game, you know?”
Behind, the unfazed Maria was looking at us like we were some poor thing. I, however, had grown accustomed to Maria looking at me coldly, so I floated along without caring.
We continued on our way, buying and snacking on anything piquing our interest until we arrived at the main square in the center of the town. There, we found not only stalls, but also something like amusement park attractions.
That said, they weren’t the modern, luxurious ones, but simple ones such as target shooting and cookie cutting.
But they were enough to excite me. I had never experienced those kinds of games even back in my previous world. And since they also had games that couldn’t possibly exist in the modern world, my interest was only growing and wouldn’t stop growing.
At the moment, I was intrigued by the target shooting this otherworld offered me. It seemed to be a game where you shot animals inside a fence with an arrow wrapped in cloth instead of an arrowhead. The cloth was coated with paint, so you could decidedly judge whether you’d killed the animal or not by the paint. That kind of game wouldn’t be possible in my world due to safety issues and animal rights concerns.
The animals flock around nimbly. Their agility almost made me think that they were more monster than an animal, but my lack of knowledge made it impossible for me to judge.
There wasn’t much in the way of prizes, but my body tingled at the sight of a target that wouldn’t be an easy shot.
But Maria was right, the grown-ups were not trying to play the game. However, I spied there were kids around my age who do it with no problem.
In short, the problem was that since Lastiara and I were taller than average, it made us look like adults playing a kid’s game.
I recommended that Maria do it first, so I wouldn’t look bad if I participated after her.
“You’re still a kid, Maria. Why don’t you play this first? That way, the both of us can also play it much more naturally.”
“I-I am not a kid! I’m already thirteen!”
I thought Maria might have a word about my pathetic idea, but she objected more to her age than the idea. She seemed upset that I was treating her like a child.
Still, it was surprising to hear that Maria was thirteen years old. She was older than I thought she would be.
To me, though, 13 was well within the range of being a child. I didn’t consider myself to be an adult, and it was natural that I didn’t consider children younger than me to be adults either.
—But that was an extension of the values I brought with me.
So, I confirmed it with Lastiara.
“Lastiara, is 13 considred an adult?”
“Mn, here, that’s past the coming-of-age.”
After confirming that the age of adulthood was lower in this world, I apologized lightly to Maria. Then, Maria asked us a question like it just occurred to her.
“Come to think of it, how old are you two?”
How old was I, huh. There should be no significant difference between the two worlds in terms of the calendar, depending on the accuracy of the translation I had, that is. It should be safe to answer with the age counted in my previous world.
“I’m 16. Maybe.”
Maria was surprised to hear my age. I was tall, but I had a childish face appropriate for my age, so that was the first time she had been so surprised.
* * *
Translator - Mab
Proofreader - ilafy
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* * *
“Is it that strange?”
“No, I thought you were around twenty. You’re tall, and besides, you have a gentle demeanor, so…”
It seemed that Maria thought I was much older. However, of all things, I didn’t expect it was because of my demeanor. Lastiara, then, also answered.
“I’m sixteen too, supposedly.”
Maria was once again surprised. Although she wasn’t as tall as me, she was also on the taller side. She was also proportioned like an adult, making her look older than average. Maria probably thought Lastiara was much older.
“Eh, Is it so surprising?”
Lastiara looked at me, curious. I smiled thinly and shook my head. I, for one, wasn’t surprised.
Maria, however, couldn’t contain her shock.
“Just a three years gap, but, so much difference… The height… the breasts…”
Her body trembling, Maria compared her own body shape to Lastiara’s. It was hard to believe that they were three years apart—there was that much difference in the degree of growth.
As I looked at Maria with pity, she noticed my gaze and regained her wit back, calling out a warning to us.
“P-putting ages aside! You two look like adults, you’ll be laughed at if you play it!”
In the end, it came down to looks. If you looked old, your actual age meant nothing.
“You don’t need to worry about it that much…”
“Why can’t you feel those lukewarm gazes?! It’s embarrassing!!”
Certainly, there were eyes that looked at us and smiled as we made a ruckus, but those were the eyes that were directed at people excited at a festival, not at people deserving pity. And if anything, most of those gazes were in admiration of Lastiara’s beauty.
Lastiara attracted people’s eyes just by being there. Her appearance didn’t allow her to be buried in the crowd. That was probably why there was a lot of jealousy towards me for accompanying her. At first, I tried to be inconspicuous, but I gave up early because of it.
“Fufu. It gets me much more excited if you’re that embarrassed, Maria-chan. Do you think just because some people see me would stop me from doing what I wanted?”
Relishing in Maria’s embarrassment, Lastiara enthusiastically walked to the reception desk for the target shooting game.
Maria tried to stop her but finally gave up when Lastiara got even happier the more she tried to stop her.
Soon after, Lastiara received a bow and arrows from the person manning the reception desk, and the game began.
The game was to see how many animals in the field could be killed from a fixed position. Prizes were given according to the number of animals killed in a given time.
Lastiara put an arrow to the bow and carefully fired one shot at a time. Everything she did was fluid and precise, perfectly the image of an archer from heroic tales.
If the person doing it was as beautiful as Lastiara, it was inevitable that she would attract attention. At first, it was the children who were amazed and curious as the archer methodically shot through the animals one after another, before long, the adults around them were caught up by her presence and were riveted to the scene.
By the time the last grain of sand in the hourglass had fallen, most of the birds and beasts released into the field had been killed.
“Phew… This is actually fun.”
Lastiara murmured in satisfaction. She twirled her bow with the grace of a dancer and struck a pose to excite the gallery.
She proceeded through the applause to receive her prize from the receptionist guy, whose face was drawn back. However, Lastiara was aware that she was an outlier, so instead of choosing a pricey prize, she picked a pretty necklace that she could get with even with a low score.
It was mostly made of wood, but it had a single magic stone in the center, so it didn’t look too cheap or too luxurious.
After receiving the necklace, Lastiara walked closer and put it around Maria’s neck.
“This is my present for you, Maria-chan.”
“A-aah. Thank you very much…”
Maria gave a stifled thank-you, and the people around us looked at her smilingly.
I see. Since, seemingly, she turned it to be a gift for a child aka Maria, she was able to counteract her adult image. She didn’t have to feel embarrassed for playing a child’s game.
It would be conspicuous to challenge her in that situation, but because Lastiara had stood out so much, we couldn’t not be conspicuous, so I decided I’d do what I wanted to do too.
“All right, I won’t lose. I’ll have to put my skills to the test to get a present for Maria.”
Really, I just wanted to do it for my own amusement, but to excuse myself to the people all around, I said it loud enough for them to hear.
“Ah, no. You don’t have to—”
“Well, let’s get it started!”
Without letting Maria finish her refusal, I walked to the reception desk. After Lastiara’s handiwork, I just had to do it too. The reception area was empty because it would take a lot of courage to play after the divine work she had just done.
I received my bow and arrows, and after the paint on the animals had been washed, the game began.
“—Magic, «Dimension Gladiator»”
Inconspicuously, I deployed my magic. It took a lot of skill to notice the magic being deployed, but Lastiara, ungodly skilled that she was, noticed it and burst out laughing.
Since I couldn’t do it as beautifully as Lastiara, I focused more on surpassing her score. However, my lack of experience with the bow caused me to miss my first few shots. Even with the benefit of magic and a ‘Skill’, I couldn’t seem to do as well as Lastiara.
After a few adjustments, though, I got used to it. My sensory organs and ‘Skills’ allowed me to aim true. I shot continuously, letting my parameters dictate my aim.
Perhaps because I poured a wasteful amount of MP and gave it my all, I succeeded in slightly surpassing Lastiara’s score. The people watching around me applaud, and the heat of the place grew more intense.
When I went to pick up the prize, I was torn between the available choices. Maria would have been happy with anything I gave, but when it came to accessories, there weren’t that many to choose from. I had no choice but to accept a bracelet similar to the necklace Lastiara had just given her.
I walked toward Maria and handed it to her.
“Here you go, Maria.”
With a dumbfounded look on her face, Maria took it and immediately turned her back to leave the place. Perhaps she didn’t want to stand out any more than she already was, or perhaps she simply wasn’t comfortable with all the noise.
“H-hold on, Maria-chan. I want to surpass Christ’s score, let me do it one more time!!”
Behind, Lastiara was shouting out her competitive spirit. Maria, however, didn’t give it a thought and strode away. I had a feeling it would turn into a mudslinging contest if we continued, so I gave Lastiara my own words.
“Come on, Lastiara. Let’s go.”
“Eh, you dare to leave when you’re ahead…”
Lastiara was reluctant to leave the scene. We followed, trying not to lose sight of Maria, who herself was trying to blend in with the crowd, and we ran past the curious eyes of the people around us.
By the time we caught up to Maria, there was no one paying attention to us anymore. We had attracted a lot of eyes, but it was just one of the many attractions the festival offered. Once we were in the crowd, there was no one looking at us except those who were gazing at Lastiara.
Maria had been walking ahead of us, and Lastiara called out to her.
“You’re not playing, Maria-chan? I can pay for it. I’m the one who suggested it, after all.”
“…Haah. As if I can play it after you two. I’m fine, I did it a lot when I was little.”
“Ah, so you’ve done it. Well, okay then.”
Saying so, Lastiara walked ahead of Maria. Her eyes were busy searching for something interesting as she made her way through the festive crowd.
After a certain amount of walking, the riverside came into view. There was a large crowd there, and it seemed that some kind of event was being held.
“They have something going on by the river!”
“It seems like they’re doing something that needs the water.”
I followed Lastiara with great anticipation, remembering the goldfish scooping game from my previous world.
I grabbed Maria’s hand, the one that Lastiara wasn’t holding, so that we wouldn’t get separated. Then, the three of us walked together to the riverside stalls.
The river was netted upstream and downstream, and a large number of fish were released in between.
“I guess it’s the kind of game where you can eat as much fish as you can catch…?”
I had seen that kind of game back in my previous world, so it was kind of a letdown. Lastiara, however, had her eyes sparkling and was up for the challenge.
“Let’s do it! You won’t beat me this time, Christ!”
She even wanted to compete with me. Her earlier defeat had annoyed her, it seemed.
“Can’t be helped. It won’t be much of a challenge for you if I didn’t join, after all.”
While I had indeed seen it before, I had never actually participated in one. I really had no reason to back down.
We got in line to wait our turn and started chatting about some trivial things. Maria and I taught each other about fish dishes that we knew, and we asked Lastiara what kind of fish dish she’d want to eat before someone called out to us.
“Huh? Is that Christ and Maria I spy?”
A girl with a beast mask nesting diagonally on her head spotted us and came over. It was Alty, the Labyrinth guardian, wearing several layers of clothes.
I looked around a little more vigilantly. When I was sure that Alty was alone, I waved my hand in response with a sigh of relief. Maria also responded curtly.
“Alty. Why are you here?”
“Why? Is it bad for me to come out and play?’
“I’m not saying it is.”
Not that it was catastrophic or anything, but seeing a Labyrinth boss wandering around so openly was just not good for the health of my heart.
“I was just hanging around with my friends from Eltheaulieux Academy. Rest assured, your tough-to-deal Fran-chan isn’t here right now.”
“Well, that’s a relief.”
As Alty and I were talking, Lastiara, who was positioned behind me, started laughing. With an uppity attitude, she scooted over.
“Boy, was I surprised. Just when I thought I saw someone so capable with such a cute face, I used my Fake God’s Eye, and boy, what a surprise—fufufufufu.”
The cheerful mood had vanished from Lastiara, replaced with clinging wariness.
Perhaps she had seen through that Alty wasn’t a human but rather a very powerful boss monster.
I put myself between Alty and Lastiara, offering my explanation.
“Hold on, Lastiara. She is my collaborator, don’t—”
“It’s all right. I can see that there is no tension between you two. Hm, Alty-chan, right? My name is Lastiara. Nice to meet you”
Lastiara interrupted me and greeted Alty on her own terms.
“Hoo. So you’re the rumored—I see. I can see the two of us getting along. However, being called chan by you makes me feel a bit embarrassed, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t. I’d rather have the two of us call each other on a first name basis.”
“Of course, Alty.”
“Very well. I’m glad to know you, Lastiara.”
They shook hands and offered each other smiles.
I watched them with trepidation. To be very honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if they started killing each other right there and then. In which case, I would scoop Maria and retreat home using «Connection».
Perhaps noticing that I was looking at her that way, Alty snickered and turned to talk to me.
“Someone’s being nervous.”
“I’m being normal. So what’s your plan, Alty?”
“Right. Why don’t I hang around with you for a while? Not that I can play around for long.”
“Well, just playing around wouldn’t hurt…”
I really, really would rather have her go the hell away, but it would be too cold-hearted of me as a collaborator to treat her so callously like that. I allowed her to accompany us, albeit reluctantly.
Hearing this, Lastiara became even more joyful.
“I like the sound of it. Let’s have a competition between the three of us. I want to see how much you amount to, Alty-chan.”
She was looking forward to competing with Alty, a Labyrinth guardian. Alty, however, refused with a bitter smile.
“I’ll have to pass. I’m bad with water, so I’ll just cheer from the side with Maria-chan.”
With those words, Alty declined to participate. Theoretically speaking, as a fire monster, Alty would be bad with water. She fell back and started talking with Maria.
Our turn came up after that, so it was time for Lastiara and me to compete. I planned to do my best to beat Lastiara since I knew that it was what she expected me to do. After all, what Lastiara always wanted was to be able to play with her all. She knew she could let loose with me, and that was why she had come to my side.
I was obligated to entertain Lastiara—that was the kind of contract I had made with her. Perhaps playing around like that was one of her dreams of enjoying adventures. I could somehow tell it from how she looked.
However, it wasn’t all from a sense of obligation. Somewhere in the depth of my heart, I also wanted to enjoy the adventure this otherworld could offer. Playing along with Lastiara wasn’t so painful.
As long as I could enjoy myself and secure Lastiara’s strength, then I wouldn’t complain.
‘I shall use my ‘Dimensional Magic’ to the extreme to win this game.’
In the end, the degree of the competition between us drew in the customers more and more and made the owner pale, and Alty had to stop us by force, and we ended up eating up Maria’s sermon for a long time.
Even so, Lastiara seemed like she had a good time. I, too, had my fun. I also realized that we clicked with each other so perfectly even without the element of the Labyrinth, and I thought was a bit of a waste that, in the end, that was all our relationship added up to.
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