Chapter 14.2: The Bloodline Continuation Ceremony (4)
When encountering monsters in a labyrinth, fighting them head-on and defeating them in order to get past wasn’t always the correct answer.
The trolls in this labyrinth were one such example.
With their huge bodies that made it inconvenient for them to move quickly and their slow reactions — rather than an unskippable fight, they should instead be seen as a ‘trap’ that required you to look for an opening to slip past.
The only two who had dared to fight the troll were Gargith and Eugene.
“Uwoooh!” Gargith let out a fierce roar.
Although he hadn’t made it out of the fight intact, the courageous Gargith had finally defeated the evil troll.
Gargith pulled out his greatsword that was lodged in the troll’s chest and released another yell.
With these roars, he celebrated his victory and his continued survival.
But then he lost all of his remaining strength and had to slump down on top of the troll.
‘…It looks like I took too many hits….’
Although Gargith might be proud of his muscles, the troll’s attacks were just that powerful.
He thought that a few of his bones might even be broken.
“It hurts…!” Gargith spat out from between gritted teeth.
It hurt even more than when he had been struck by arrows or when he had collided with that rolling iron ball.
Although he knew that all these pain signals were a trick of magic… painful things were still painful….
Holding back the stinging tears, Gargith rolled off the troll’s body and onto his feet.
Then, while holding on to the wall for support, he started staggering forward.
‘Since I’ve received such injuries… the others might also be….’
He knew that Dezra was strong and that Eugene was even stronger than her.
However, they shouldn’t be stronger than a troll.
How could their fragile bodies contend against such a massive troll…?
In contrast to all his worries, Dezra was completely fine.
Without facing the troll head-on, she had instead found a gap in its attacks and had successfully slipped past the troll.
That went for Cyan and Ciel as well.
Cyan and Ciel had actually met up along the way.
Since then, Ciel had refused to take the lead and had instead secretly persuaded Cyan to open up the way.
It had actually been very easy for her to do so.
“Brother, which path should we take?” Ciel had asked.
“Can’t you even tell that?” Cyan said with a disdainful look.
“I’m not really sure.”
“This idiot, we both read the same book, so how could you not know? Just watch me.”
Cyan had never once felt inferior to his younger sibling, Ciel, who was born a few seconds later than he was.
Instead, while believing that he should be a role model to his sister, he never missed a chance to show off in front of her.
That applied to the current situation as well.
From the moment that the words ‘not sure’ had passed his sister’s lips, Cyan had decided that it was an opportunity to put on a superior act in front of his younger sister.
Since he had just been humiliated a few days ago right in front of her eyes, he thought that now was the time to restore his tarnished image.
“Don’t fall behind and follow me closely.
This is a labyrinth created by the Head Wizard of the Red Tower after all,” Cyan ordered.
“Why does that matter?” Ciel asked naively.
“That means we can never know what might happen.
A monster might even suddenly appear in front of us.
Or else something strange might fall down from the ceiling.”
“Something like a ghost?”
“Idiot, at a time like this, you should be wondering about the undead, not ghosts.
Do you know what the undead are?”
“They’re things like zombies and ghouls, right?”
It was mentioned in the book that we read together about the labyrinth made by the evil black wizard.
It became the grave of any foolish adventurers blinded by the treasure! It’s said that the black wizards of the olden days would make undead minions and chimeras from the adventurers who died in their labyrinths.”
“But the Head Wizard of the Red Tower isn’t a black wizard.”
“That might be the case, but you never know.
The undead might show up as some form of illusion.”
“I hate ghosts since they’re scary,” Ciel confessed.
“I’m not afraid of anything,” Cyan boasted.
To tell the truth, Cyan was also scared of ghosts.
When he was very young, back when the twins shared the same room, they were looked after by a nanny who read them all sorts of stories every night.
Sometimes, when their nanny would read them a scary story, Cyan wouldn’t be able to fall asleep all throughout the night as he vainly tried to keep an eye on the space beneath his bed and inside his closet.
However, he could not expose such a shameful fear in front of his younger sister.
‘Why did she have to start talking about ghosts all of a sudden?’ Cyan thought to himself as he suppressed the tremors in his body and kept glancing up at the ceiling.
The ‘something strange’ he had imagined falling from the ceiling was, at most, a spider or some other kind of monster.
He hadn’t even considered ghosts.
Naturally, Ciel had brought up the topic of ghosts deliberately.
She knew very well that her brother had been scared of ghosts ever since they were young, and she wanted to tease her brother, who kept strutting arrogantly as he forged ahead.
‘It would be fun if something showed up to startle my brother,’ Ciel thought mischievously as she trailed behind Cyan.
At some point, forks had stopped appearing on the road.
However, that didn’t mean the road just kept heading straight.
Instead, it began to bend this way and that as the different paths started to join together.
Each time this happened, Cyan was filled with caution at the thought that something might come popping out from around the corner.
Since her brother didn’t end up screaming soon, like she had hoped, Ciel slowly began to grow bored.
She wondered if she should just poke him in the back.
If she did, Ciel thought that her brother might make quite an amusing sound of surprise.
When would be the best time for that? Since her brother had his guard up, for now, she needed to wait until he was almost fully relaxed.
“Brother, do you think that Eugene is still in the labyrinth?” Ciel asked.
“…The son of a bitch is someone who defeated me.
There’s no way he’ll be taken down by monsters or traps,” Cyan reluctantly admitted.
“But there’s a possibility that he might have gotten caught in a trap.
Among all the traps that I saw, there was one that was almost a bottomless hole.
If he got caught in that, wouldn’t he be unable to get out?”
“It’s possible,” Cyan nodded his head with a solemn expression on his face.
“Thanks to our mother, we learned a lot about labyrinths before we entered, but the others probably weren’t able to do that.
Especially Eugene, since he’s such a country bumpkin, he probably didn’t even know what a labyrinth was.”
“But it would be fun if we could all meet up in the center.”
“Hey, what would be fun about that? Those guys are our competition.”
“But didn’t father say that there was no real need to fight and compete against each other?”
At these words, Cyan pursed his lips.
Finally, he said, “…He might have said that, but he also didn’t say that we weren’t allowed to fight.
So if I end up meeting with a certain someone, then I’m going to fight them.”
“Do you think you’ll win?”
“I lost back then because I got cocky.
If we fight again, then I will definitely win!”
Although that was what he said, Cyan couldn’t be certain of his victory.
He remembered how much it had hurt when Eugene had struck him, as well as the cold look in his eyes.
His body almost started trembling uncontrollably.
It might have been because of the earlier talk of ghosts alread yputting him on edge, but he needed to focus even more to keep himself from trembling.
“Don’t say anything unnecessary, Ciel,” Cyan spat out as he turned to look at Ciel.
Ciel stuck out her tongue at him and just smiled.
With one final look at his sister, Cyan turned towards the front and said, “I need to focu—Aaaaargh!”
Just as they rounded a corner, a woman covered in bloodstains suddenly appeared out of a side-tunnel! Cyan’s eyes widened, and his pupils shrank as he cut off his words in a scream.
“Kyaaah!” came a returning cry.
From inside the side-tunnel, Dezra had been listening to the sound of approaching conversation.
She had realized that it was Cyan and Ciel! Two of her competitors in the Bloodline Continuation Ceremony.
She was thinking of surprising them with an ambush if they had negligently let their guards down, but… Dezra was the one who ended up startled by Cyan’s loud cry, and she had let loose with her own scream in return.
As their two cries mixed with each other, Ciel grabbed her stomach and burst out laughing at this sight.
After screaming like this for some time, Cyan finally returned to his senses and instead drew his sword.
“Dezra! You dare attempt to startle me?!” Cyan demanded.
“I-I’m the one who was startled!” Dezra defended herself.
Dezra was younger than Cyan.
On top of that, since she came from a collateral line, she just couldn’t feel confident speaking with Cyan.
So instead, she jumped slightly and took a few steps back.
Her ambush was a total failure.
“Why would I startle you! And you, what’s with your look? You’re dressed like that because you wanted to jump out and scare me!” Cyan said angrily.
“This is because I got hurt!”
“Don’t lie to me!”
Dezra felt like she was about to burst something from the injustice of his accusation.
She had to get past all kinds of traps, monsters, and a giant troll just to get this far.
No matter how precocious Dezra was for her age, slight wounds were unavoidable.
The reason for her bloodstained face was that she had grazed her forehead on the way here.
“I can’t forgive you…! You dare to startle me?! You, did you really think I wouldn’t know what you were planning? You were planning on ambushing us after you surprised us, right!” Cyan barked.
“No, I wasn’t!”
He had actually hit upon the truth, but Dezra hadn’t even gotten a chance to attempt her plan before it was already ruined.
Dezra groaned in frustration and turned around.
Then she started running away at full speed.
“Brother, she’s running away!”
Cyan was genuinely angry.
He had been made to scream in an unsightly manner in front of his younger sister! Dezra was truly mean-spirited to have leaped out at him while pretending to be a ghost.
It was even more hateful than Eugene’s surprise attack.
That was why he definitely couldn’t forgive her.
Cyan started chasing after Dezra.
Ciel also followed behind Cyan, still giggling.
No matter how long and agile Dezra’s limbs were, she couldn’t be faster than the twins, who had already started training their mana.
The distance between them gradually narrowed.
Dezra desperately wondered, ‘Where’s that son of a bitch, Gargith, gone to?’
“Gargith!” Dezra screeched loudly.
However, at that moment, Gargith was in the middle of roaring out his victory on top of the downed troll, so he couldn’t hear Dezra’s call.
“Don’t run away!” Cyan demanded.
“I haven’t done anything wrong!” Dezra protested.
“Then why are you running away?!”
“Because you want to bully me!”
I do!” Cyan exclaimed.
At this reply, Dezra squeezed out even more strength.
Could she have tried fighting back instead? If Cyan was on his own, that might have been a possibility, but he had Ciel with him as well.
Besides, with her body covered in wounds, she definitely couldn’t win.
‘But Eugene might be able to,’ Dezra recalled.
But where was that bastard? While running headlong, Dezra accidentally stepped on the trigger to a trap.
The floor ahead completely collapsed downwards.
With a scream of surprise, Dezra leaped off the ground.
Dezra just barely managed to jump over the hole and landed on her ass on the other side.
While holding onto her sore tailbone, Dezra sobbed in pain.
“That’s why I told you not to run!” Cyan immediately halted in front of the sudden trap and shouted across to her.
Dezra panted, as she tried to catch her breath, before eventually taking off running once more.
“Brother!” Ciel cried as she caught up.
Cyan looked down into the trap for a moment.
It was so deep that he couldn’t even see the bottom.
On top of that, the other side of the trap was really far away.
Cyan dithered for a moment out of hesitation.
Should he go back and find another path instead?
Just as he was about to turn back, he saw the look of expectation in his sister’s eyes.
Cyan bit down on his lip firmly.
He could no longer show her such an embarrassing side of himself.
“Iyaaaah!” Cyan vaulted over the trap with a scream.
The mana flowing through his body easily allowed him to leap over that great distance.
“Ciel! You should jump too! I’ll catch you!”
With reassuring eyes, Cyan spread his arms wide.
However, Ciel simply leaped over the trap and landed beside him on the other side without needing Cyan’s help at all.
The twins had had the same lessons ever since they were young.
If Cyan could do it, then of course, Ciel was able to do it as well.
“…As expected from my little sister.”
After awkwardly lowering his outstretched arms, Cyan resumed his pursuit of the escaping Dezra.
But the twins were stopped before they got too far.
Ahead of them, Dezra had stopped as well.
“…It’s the boss monster,” one of them whispered.
At the conclusion of their fierce race, the three had actually managed to reach the center of the labyrinth.
At the end of their path lay a huge underground cave with walls on all sides.
In the center of the cave sat a monster, which was even larger than a troll.
“Why are the three of you together?” Sitting with his back against the wall, Eugene tilted his head to the side and asked the new arrivals.
“…What are you doing here?” Cyan asked, snapping out of his astonishment.
“What am I doing? Can’t you see that I’m just sitting?”
“But why here?”
“I was interested to see who’d be arriving first,” Eugene laughed as he gave this reply.
His round, wide eyes were overflowing with mischievous playfulness.
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