Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon?, vol. 6

Advertising Download Read Online


PROLOGUEEVIL IN THE MOONLIT NIGHT

Weak moonlight filtered through the thin clouds that covered the night sky.

With the exception of a few stars twinkling here and there, the dark void overhead felt vast enough to draw earth-dwelling onlookers into its depths.

Most people were already asleep at this late hour.

Toward the middle of the city, the taverns were alive with the sounds of adventurers. However, in this dim residential area they sounded distant.

One girl kept to the shadows as she made her way into one of the buildings on her way to meet with a god.

“Please, Lord Soma. Allow Lilly to leave thisFamilia…” Her voice quivered as she pled.

Lilly’s body was hidden by a threadbare robe as she kneeled in front of him, her head bent low. Her round chestnut-colored eyes focused on one spot on the floor.

The deity she was talking to sat quietly in the corner of the room, holding his knees up against his chest.

A cloud shifted in the night sky, flooding the room with moonlight through the open window. The light illuminated a series of shelves lining one side of the room. They held numerous potted plants as well as several bottles of clear liquor. The two figures sat in the private quarters of the home ofSoma Familia’s god.

Lilly had come here to ask Soma directly for permission to leave theFamilia.

This was all so that she could be released from the curse ofSoma Familia—so that she could stand next to Bell and the others with pride. She had seen her chance and seized the opportunity for a personal audience with Soma himself.

Leaving aFamilia—which entailed the rewriting of the Falna that even then was carved upon her back—required the permission of her god, Soma.

“Lilly knows that this comes without warning, and she apologizes for that and for every other offense she has committed. But please, Lilly begs for your mercy…”

She did not make eye contact or even raise her head.

The girl’s small, quivering shoulders indicated just how much fear of her god still remained within her. Lilly couldn’t wipe away the memories of Soma’s wine, how it twisted her, overpowered her. The one who created it was sitting in the corner of the room.

But the deity did not respond.

He looked like a young man of average height. His body and limbs were slender and almost delicate in appearance. He wore a loose-fitting robe, the sleeves and hem dirty with soil.

Soma sat in the corner, looking at the wall and muttering to himself. “Operational regulation…Penalty…My passion, my reason…”

Soma’s long, unkempt hair partially hid his downtrodden face. He seemed to be shrouded in a miasma of depression and despair.

He did not stir, keeping his back to Lilly.

A new voice not belonging to Lilly or Soma filled the room. “Lord Soma is very busy right now. But I’ll listen to you, Erde.”

A human man appeared next to the deity sitting on the floor.

Glasses perched on the man’s chiseled features. His narrow black eyes had an air of intelligence, but the vulgar smile on his lips betrayed it. “I’m rather surprised to see you alive. I was informed that Kanu perished.”

Lilly desperately fought back the urge to respond.

Zanis Lustra—the commander ofSoma Familiaand an upper-class adventurer at Level 2.

He had been given the title of Gandharva, the Wine-Guardian. His mind was strong enough not to be manipulated by the Divine Wine; his will could overpower it.

With Soma’s notable lack of interest in his ownFamilia, it was not uncommon for Zanis to issue commands in his place. In fact, as the leader—and using the name of their deity for his own purposes—he could manipulate the other members for his own gain. Not unlike the man who’d thrown Lilly into a horde of killer ants, Zanis thought nothing of taking advantage of the weak.

After concealing her own death and making careful plans to sneak into Soma’s quarters, Lilly had been found by the one person she absolutely wanted to avoid.

“Come to think of it, haven’t seen any of Kanu’s buddies around, either…You have anything to do with that?”

The girl answered honestly to the man whose smirk hadn’t changed since he entered the room. “…Lilly doesn’t know.” Her response was curt and to the point. She fought hard to hold her tongue to prevent her own anger and annoyance from coming through. “Mr. Zanis…Lilly is here for a reason. She’s waiting for Lord Soma’s answer.”

“Oh yes, indeed. Let’s get back to that.” Zanis exaggerated his words and nodded his head much deeper than normal, almost as if he were acting in a play. He slowly and carefully enunciated each of his next words. “Of course, a large sum of money will be required to exit our group. That’s the only thing that can relieve Lord Soma’s pain—he’s spent so much time raising you. He’ll want at least ten million vals.”

Lilly sat motionless for several seconds.

Her spirit seemed to drain out of her body the moment that she understood Zanis’s words.

“What say you, Lord Soma?”

“…It’s up to you.”

Soma didn’t turn or look up when he responded. The deity was little more than a rock in the corner of the room, not budging a celch.

“T-ten million…” Lilly uttered as her face turned pale.

Her own god didn’t know her, nor did he respond to her voice. Zanis chuckled darkly to himself as he stared down at Lilly, knowing that any further discussion was useless.

Lilly collapsed to the floor like a puppet whose strings had been cut. Her thin arms managed to break her fall. Slowly but surely, the girl climbed back to her feet.

Her face void of any emotion, Lilly stumbled her way out of the room on shaky legs.

The moment she disappeared from sight, a large figure stood in the doorway in her place.

“Hey, Apollo’s guys’re out front,” said a very unfriendly looking dwarf wearing a large calabash gourd strapped behind his lower back.

“Very good, Chandra. Show them into the small room down the hall.”

“Not my job. Do it yourself.”

The dwarf named Chandra spoke in a gruff monotone as he turned his back on Zanis, then disappeared down the hall as if to avoid a pointless conversation. The man shrugged his shoulders, more amused than annoyed.

 He turned back to face the god in the corner and spoke. “Lord Soma, I will go conduct negotiations. What is your desire?”

“…It’s up to you.”

Soma was completely uninterested. Zanis smirked, chuckling quietly through his nose.

His eyes seemed to hide a sneer as he walked toward the doorway.

Silence fell as soon as Zanis closed the door behind him.

“…”

The god stopped muttering to himself now that he was left alone in his room.

Bluish gray moonlight illuminated the plants and bottles on his shelf. Soma reached out, grabbed a bottle, and flipped open the lid.

He raised it to his lips and drank the bottle dry in a few quick gulps.

CHAPTER 1THE FURIOUS RABBIT

The stone roads are warmed by the sun overhead on this mild afternoon.

The weather’s been nice for several days now; everyone seems to be in a good mood. The city center overflows with happy voices. The wide main street is filled with horse-drawn carts, demi-humans, and travelers in their traveling gear going about their business.

Past these waves of humanity and in the center of the road straight ahead stands a white tower so tall it pierces the blue sky.

“But still, I’m so glad that you and the others made it back safe and sound.”

“Sorry to make you worry…And thank you.”

I’m outside of one of the bars on West Main, The Benevolent Mistress. I don’t know how many times I’ve apologized and thanked Syr, but I do it once again. I’ll never forget the look on her face when I first came to tell her that I’d returned from the eighteenth floor. That smile, the look in her eyes, how her silver hair swished back and forth—everything.

I still can’t believe that it’s already been three days since we defeated the Goliath and returned to the surface.

It was a week ago today that we couldn’t get out of the middle levels and had to go all the way down to the eighteenth. Apparently a lot of people above ground were worried about us. Syr was definitely one of them. While she couldn’t come into the Dungeon herself like the goddess did, she sent her coworker Lyu in after us.

I will be forever grateful to the elf who saved my life so many times.

Of course, I’ll never forget how happy I was that she would do that for me.

I grimace to hide my embarrassment from the girl smiling right in front of me.

“Has your body fully recovered?”

“Yes. Lord Miach…I received treatment from a friendlyFamilia, and I’m doing fine now.”

Thanks to Lord Miach and Nahza’s strongest medicine and potions, I was able to recover all the strength and mental power I’d lost over the past three days.

We returned to the surface the day after fighting the floor boss. I’ve spent the past two days recovering as well as contacting everyone I know to make sure they know I’m okay. I meet them in person, see their relief, endure their anger, and share a few laughs. Actually, Syr was the first person I’d gone to see, so this is the second time I’ve seen that smile of relief on her face.

The warmth of the sun on my skin and the bright skies are proof that I really did make it out alive. Thanks to that, I can experience the joy of reuniting with people I thought I would never see again. I suppose that the more fear and danger you experience, the happier you are to make it home safe.

I really am back.

Even with all the commotion around me, I can feel my cheeks pulling back into a smile.

“Syr, Mama Mia has asked us to open…Oh, Mr. Cranell. I did not know you were here.”

“Lyu.”

Lyu emerges from the doors of the bar to call Syr back inside. She says a quick good morning and I answer with a morning greeting of my own.

The hooded cape and battle cloth she wore in the Dungeon are gone, replaced with her bar-waitress uniform. Seeing her dressed like this after fighting alongside the strong and beautiful hooded adventurer feels very weird…There’s a big difference between this cute waitress and the warrior I know.

“I’m glad to see you are well. You looked little better than a corpse on our way back from the Dungeon. I was worried about your health.”

“S-sorry about that…”

I’d pushed myself way too hard and was half carried back to the surface. The elf shakes her head softly from side to side and finally says, “It’s nothing.” Her thin, defined lips loosen slightly.

…It’s only a bit, but I feel like the distance between Lyu and me has shrunk. Her tone seems slightly more friendly, her expression softer than usual. It’s extremely slight, but enough to notice.

It wasn’t very long, but the time we spent together in the Dungeon allowed me to become a little closer to her.

“…Bell, you’ve become friends with Lyu, haven’t you?”

“Wh-wha?”

“But it’s never all right to sneak a peek, okay?”

“A-all right…!”

She stares me down for a moment, her finger right in front of my nose.

Her stern warning is so intense I can only yelp in response.

When I first came to see her, Syr had already known about the peeking incident…I kind of saw Lyu naked. She fiercely scolded me, but it felt more like a punishment.

I had never seen Syr so angry before. A stern lecture from an older girl was more than enough to make me flinch. It’s true that I reaped what I’d sown, but still…

I cringe as a new wave of embarrassment and repentance floods through my body, my face turning red.

“Syr, that was an accident. Please do not blame Mr. Cranell.”

“Lyu, how can you be so sure it was an accident?”

“If I had sensed any impure emotion, I would have cut him down on the spot.”

—My spirit ices over. I need to do everything possible to avoid repeating past mistakes.

“I heard this from Lyu, but you fought an extremely powerful monster, didn’t you, Bell?”

She hits me with that question the moment I get my head back on my shoulders.

“Oh, yes.” I manage to get a response out of my mouth as soon as I realize she was talking about the Goliath on the eighteenth floor.

“I also heard you took it down. Is that true?”

“Eh, um, about that…”

I start to deny it, but Lyu suddenly catches my eye.No need for modesty.Her gaze overpowers me and my voice shrinks into silence. I still remember her scolding me for looking down on myself at the pond where she was bathing…I stand there for a moment before Syr nods to pass the awkward moment.

“Wow, that’s amazing! Bell, you’ve become such a strong adventurer!”

“Well, I, um…”

Syr excitedly brings her hands together with a clap. All I can do is force a smile.

Receiving all these compliments and praise feels good, and it makes me really happy to see that look of respect in her eyes, but I can’t take all the credit.

I truly believe that if someone, anyone hadn’t been on the battlefield that day, I wouldn’t be standing here right now. I’d happily bet on that.

It’s true that I delivered the final blow with my Skill, Argonaut. But if it hadn’t been for Lyu and everyone else protecting me, I would’ve never had a chance to use it. Not only could the floor boss have taken me out, but there were hundreds of other monsters swarming around the battlefield. I had a lot of help, and I’d needed it.

We were only able to seize victory because every adventurer set aside theirFamiliaaffiliations and worked together.

It was much more accurate to say that we’dalltaken down that monster.

“One of our regulars has become a famous adventurer! I’m so proud to work here!” She’s beaming with joy, like it was her own accomplishment and I’m just some other guy. Her eyes narrow and mouth widens in a smile that makes me feel ticklish, and she continues. “How would you like to throw another party to celebrate? It’s not every day that you return from a near-death experience, right? How about this evening?”

She suggests we do something like when I leveled up to Level 2.

I’m really happy to see her so excited but…the shadow of a daunting figure pops into my head. It might be a good idea to turn her down.

“I couldn’t ask you to do that, not after all the trouble I’ve caused…I don’t think I’d be able to look Ms. Mia in the face…”

Mia owns and operates The Benevolent Mistress. Apparently she was extremely angry that Lyu left her post to join my search party. She snapped, saying that someone who needed to rely on the help of people outside of their ownFamiliashould “quit needing people to rescue ’im.”

Just the image of her seething face in the back of my mind makes me recoil in fright.

“Heh-heh, she’ll cheer right up if you tell her stories about what happened, you know.”

Syr’s cheeks flush red as she leans in toward me, a strange smile on her face. Meanwhile, Lyu adds her own opinion in her usual matter-of-fact tone. “Agreed. Mama Mia enjoys tales of bravery.”

“What do you say?” Syr asks in a friendly voice. It makes me happy that she feels this way, but unfortunately it can’t happen tonight. I shake my head no.

“I’m really sorry, but I’ll have to take a pass on that, today. I’ve already got plans tonight…”

“Oh, you do?”

“Mr. Cranell. Do these plans involve your battle party members?”

My lips spread into a smile as I enthusiastically nod.

It’s just as Lyu said, I’m going to celebrate with my friends tonight.

The sun sinks out of sight behind the high city wall, covering the streets in a blue shadow.

Orario grows even livelier as night falls.

Jubilant songs echo from the taverns, and street performers put on shows in the parks and open spaces around the city. Many people have gathered to greet adventurers as they emerge from the Dungeon. Magic-stone lamps light up the night.

One particular block adjacent to South Main is really living it up.

Magic-stone lamps of various colors illuminate the wide road. The lamps themselves are bright enough to rival the stars in the sky. Looking down the street, all of the buildings are tall and each has a unique flair to it. There are bars, casinos, and theaters all over the place, along with other establishments not seen elsewhere in the city. South Main Street is every bit as crowded as its reputation for an entertainment district would suggest.

But I leave all of that behind and go one block over.

I meet Lilly and Welf inside a bar that’s lined with all kinds of animal masks, from birds to lions. The three of us sit around the table and clink our mugs together.

“Cheers!”

Smiles overflow around the table like the bubbly foam on the top of our mugs of ale. We aren’t the only ones having a good time.Clink, clink!Other groups of adventurers at tables around us are starting to enjoy a drink after a hard day’s work.

There’s a big red sign that looks a lot like aFamilia’s emblem on the wall that has some kind of insect design. It’s the symbol of this bar: Hibachitei, the Flaming Wasp.

Located in a back alley of the business district, this tavern is popular among different groups of adventurers and smiths, Welf being one of them. The bar’s claim to fame is a deep red mead. It’s apparently good enough that people commute here just to drink it.

Compared to The Benevolent Mistress, this place is rather cramped. I suppose that’s because it’s on a back street instead of the main road. There are enough tables, chairs, and other obstacles in here to make it difficult to get around. The inside is a little bit dirty and filled with dwarves and men laughing together in loud voices. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something different about the atmosphere in here. Syr’s place is bright and modern, but the Flaming Wasp feels more like an adventurer’s bar.

Some prum girls work their way past us as I share a laugh with Lilly and Welf.

“Congrats on leveling up, Welf!”

“Mr. Welf is now officially a High Smith, yes?”

“That I am…Thanks.”

He bobs his head, looking a bit more bashful than usual. But that smile on his lips is all the proof I need to know that he’s attained both his goal as well as the pride that goes with it.

Welf had gained enough excelia through our journey into the middle levels and the many battles on the eighteenth floor to level up—going from Level 1 to Level 2. At the same time he acquired the “Forge” Advanced Ability.

Lady Hephaistos updated his status, and the announcement of his rank-up was made this morning. He came straight to my goddess’s home to tell us as soon as he found out, a massive grin on his face. From there he went to tell Lilly, and now the three of us are here celebrating it.

Welf is now a High Smith—we can’t let this special day pass by without commemorating it.

“Mr. Welf, are you now free to mark your work with yourFamilia’s brand whenever you want?”

“Whenever I want might be pushing it. I’ll need Lady Hephaistos’s approval along with several of the other leaders before I can use that brand. A weak-ass weapon getting stamped would just sully her name.”

Now that Welf has joined the ranks of the High Smiths, he’s allowed to engrave theἭφαιστοςinsignia on his weapons and armor.

It sounds like he can’t do it every time but I bet…no, I’msurethat Welf’s work will start selling really well. TheἭφαιστοςmark has that much influence.

Add in the fact that equipment made by a High Smith is always in high demand, and Welf’s reputation as a blacksmith should spread like wildfire. While I’m extremely happy for my friend, I’m also a little sad. “But this means…you’re leaving the battle party, doesn’t it?”

The main reason that Welf had wanted to join us in the first place was so that he could gain the Forge ability. He’s met his goal, so there’s no reason for him to stick around. Refusing to let him pursue his dreams would be selfish on my part.

This could be the last time I see him. Lilly is looking a little heavyhearted, too.

Other books
the truth about mary rose by marilyn sachs
deadly by julie chibbaro
mending the bear by vanessa devereaux
whisper privileges by dianne venetta
franklin affair by jim lehrer
harp's song by shine, cassie
vegas surrender by sasha peterson
matty doolin by catherine cookson
reaction by jessica roberts