Sword Labyrinth of the Sacred Sword Chapter 2

Sword Labyrinth of the Sacred Sword Chapter 2








mbb Chapter 2: Darkness-Splitting Flash

mbb Chapter 2: Darkness-Splitting Flash

I dashed into the cellar below the workshop as soon as I arrived home, without even sparing a thought to changing out of my wet clothes. It felt like exploring that place was the most logical thing to do, or rather, to put it in other words, I didn’t feel like I had any other option. I ran down the wooden stairs into the underground room. As my boots kept raising puffy clouds of dust whenever I made a step.

I dashed into the cellar below the workshop as soon as I arrived home, without even sparing a thought to changing out of my wet clothes. It felt like exploring that place was the most logical thing to do, or rather, to put it in other words, I didn’t feel like I had any other option. I ran down the wooden stairs into the underground room. As my boots kept raising puffy clouds of dust whenever I made a step.

“…*cough* *cough*”

“…*cough* *cough*”

This place was dilapidated. As far as I could recall, the last time I had been here was back when I had accidentally wandered down the stairs as a child.

This place was dilapidated. As far as I could recall, the last time I had been here was back when I had accidentally wandered down the stairs as a child.

“Alec, that’s enough! You'll get your clothes dirty with all the dust, don’t go down there again!”

“Alec, that’s enough! You'll get your clothes dirty with all the dust, don’t go down there again!”“Alec, that’s enough! You'll get your clothes dirty with all the dust, don’t go down there again!”

Ever since Mom had scolded me that time, I had never approached the cellar again. Who knows, maybe she had only done that to hide the existence of that ‘Queen of the Underground’.

Ever since Mom had scolded me that time, I had never approached the cellar again. Who knows, maybe she had only done that to hide the existence of that ‘Queen of the Underground’‘Queen of the Underground’.

“Though, even if that were to be true…”

“Though, even if that were to be true…”

…Just who could be that queen? From the moniker 'queen', it was obvious it had to be a woman. Probably someone wearing a royal attire, I guess. But more importantly, how come I never felt like there was someone living below my house for seventeen years?

…Just who could be that queen? …Just who could be that queen? From the moniker 'queen', it was obvious it had to be a woman. Probably someone wearing a royal attire, I guess. But more importantly, how come I never felt like there was someone living below my house for seventeen years?Probably someone wearing a royal attire, I guess. But more importantly, how come I never felt like there was someone living below my house for seventeen years?

I kept on walking when suddenly I heard a different sound from under my feet, the floor rang hollow. I kneeled down and removed some of the dust with my fingertips.

I kept on walking when suddenly I heard a different sound from under my feet, the floor rang hollow. I kneeled down and removed some of the dust with my fingertips.

“There’s silver here…”

“There’s silver here…”

There was a silver slab on the ground, a rather old one from the looks of it. I started to remove more of the grime and uncovered what looked to be letters and pictures etched into the silver. I hurried to expose the whole thing. That writing made up descriptions of various combat skills for a «Silver Smith». The first one being:

There was a silver slab on the ground, a rather old one from the looks of it. I started to remove more of the grime and uncovered what looked to be letters and pictures etched into the silver. I hurried to expose the whole thing. That writing made up descriptions of various combat skills for a «Silver Smith». The first one being:

“[Punish]…”

“[Punish]…”

A skill that used the properties of silver ‘To restrain and enslave a violent monster’. To put it simply, [Punish] was nothing but ‘Silver Chains’. The chains would restrain the target, and, if it tried to resist, they would bite into its body inflicting damage. If I used what I learned from [Lightning Craft], I should be able to master this skill in no time. Then I remembered what prompted me to inspect the floor and knocked on the silver slab again.

A skill that used the properties of silver ‘To restrain and enslave a violent monster’. To put it simply, [Punish] was nothing but ‘Silver Chains’. The chains would restrain the target, and, if it tried to resist, they would bite into its body inflicting damage. If I used what I learned from [Lightning Craft], I should be able to master this skill in no time. Then I remembered what prompted me to inspect the floor and knocked on the silver slab again.

“…Yeah…”

“…Yeah…”

There seemed to be an empty space below the layer of silver. There must have been some sort of hidden staircase somewhere around here. Without much hesitation, I used [Lightning Craft] to absorb the silver into my left hand and reshaped it into a long tube. But I didn't expect—

There seemed to be an empty space below the layer of silver. There must have been some sort of hidden staircase somewhere around here. Without much hesitation, I used [Lightning Craft] to absorb the silver into my left hand and reshaped it into a long tube. But I didn't expect—

“Huh…”

“Huh…”

—the floor to suddenly disappear from under me completely. I fell back-first into freshly exposed pitch-black space below me.

—the floor to suddenly disappear from under me completely. I fell back-first into freshly exposed pitch-black space below me.

“….Whhooooooooaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh---!”

“….Whhooooooooaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh---!”

Due to all the dust, I hadn't noticed that the silver slab covered a much wider area of the floor than I expected it to. Including the bit that I was standing on. For an instant, I could feel the Reaper of Souls prepare his scythe for a swing at me. Thankfully, in the end, the strike never came. Luckily, this pit wasn’t deep enough to endanger my life. I landed on a rock hard floor with a muffled thump. This was the second time I had fallen on my back today.

Due to all the dust, I hadn't noticed that the silver slab covered a much wider area of the floor than I expected it to. Including the bit that I was standing on. For an instant, I could feel the Reaper of Souls prepare his scythe for a swing at me. Thankfully, in the end, the strike never came. Luckily, this pit wasn’t deep enough to endanger my life. I landed on a rock hard floor with a muffled thump. This was the second time I had fallen on my back today.

“Ow, dammit, this hurts…”

“Ow, dammit, this hurts…”

Vincent wasn’t here, but I recalled him saying ‘This is what happens to someone who skips training’. I was undeniably in pain now because I had skipped training for three months now.

Vincent wasn’t here, but I recalled him saying ‘This is what happens to someone who skips training’. I was undeniably in pain now because I had skipped training for three months now.

I stood up, aching all over, and secured the silver rod inside the pocket of my jacket. In front of my eyes, there was… an underground room bathed in very faint light. It looked like I had fallen into the cellar of the cellar of the workshop. Though, considering this was underground, this place was quite broad and the ‘ceiling’ was pretty high too. Judging by the aged look of the stone that made up the floor and the walls, it must have been a couple of hundreds of years old and probably built by our antecessors. From the lack of dust, I guessed it had been completely isolated from the outside for a long time. It was also cold, the chill refusing to leave my skin. I came to the realization that this is how it must have felt inside a dungeon.

I stood up, aching all over, and secured the silver rod inside the pocket of my jacket. In front of my eyes, there was… an underground room bathed in very faint light. It looked like I had fallen into the cellar of the cellarcellar of the cellar of the workshop. Though, considering this was underground, this place was quite broad and the ‘ceiling’ was pretty high too. Judging by the aged look of the stone that made up the floor and the walls, it must have been a couple of hundreds of years old and probably built by our antecessors. From the lack of dust, I guessed it had been completely isolated from the outside for a long time. It was also cold, the chill refusing to leave my skin. I came to the realization that this is how it must have felt inside a dungeon.

It was then when a ‘white object’ streaked through my field of view at a high speed.

It was then when a ‘white object’ streaked through my field of view at a high speed.

“---!”

“---!”

I instinctively moved out of the way and shoved my coat out of the way on my hip.

I instinctively moved out of the way and shoved my coat out of the way on my hip.

“…Ah.”

“…Ah.”

My preferred weapon---my ‘Silver Gun’ wasn’t present at my hip. I had left it back in the workshop. It made sense at the time, no one would carry weapons when visiting a grave. I calmed down pretty much instantly, however.

My preferred weapon---my ‘Silver Gun’ wasn’t present at my hip. I had left it back in the workshop. It made sense at the time, no one would carry weapons when visiting a grave. I calmed down pretty much instantly, however.

“…Sigh, so it was only a rat after all?”

“…Sigh, so it was only a rat after all?”

On a closer inspection, the white object was a rat and it was natural for it to run away from me after I had intruded in this place. Feeling safe again, I tried to get up from the floor, but a hard object knocked on the back my head as I tried to stand.

On a closer inspection, the white object was a rat and it was natural for it to run away from me after I had intruded in this place. Feeling safe again, I tried to get up from the floor, but a hard object knocked on the back my head as I tried to stand.

“---!”

“---!”

I took a deep breath and felt my heartbeat spiking. I looked up and I saw, towering above me, three times my height… a Black Giant looking down at me. I sprung away from it, trying to create a gap between us. Again, I instinctively reached to the holster on my hips, only, to my regret, to once again recall that I had forgotten to take my Silver Gun with me.

I took a deep breath and felt my heartbeat spiking. I looked up and I saw, towering above me, three times my height… a Black GiantBlack Giant looking down at me. I sprung away from it, trying to create a gap between us. Again, I instinctively reached to the holster on my hips, only, to my regret, to once again recall that I had forgotten to take my Silver Gun with me.

Who the hell is this---

Who the hell is this---Who the hell is this---

A drop of sweat trickled down my neck. I stood like that for a few minutes, but I noticed no movement from the giant. It didn’t even feel like an animate object. I squinted trying to get a better look through the gloom.

A drop of sweat trickled down my neck. I stood like that for a few minutes, but I noticed no movement from the giant. It didn’t even feel like an animate object. I squinted trying to get a better look through the gloom.

“No---it's only an armor…”

“No---it's only an armorarmor…”

It wasn’t a giant, only an armor. A big, ominous, pitch-black armor. Its helmet was merged with the torso, and there wasn’t a single part of the body that it wouldn't guard. The shape, and the fact I was rushing to get up, caused me to confuse it with a giant.

It wasn’t a giant, only an armor. A big, ominous, pitch-black armor. Its helmet was merged with the torso, and there wasn’t a single part of the body that it wouldn't guard. The shape, and the fact I was rushing to get up, caused me to confuse it with a giant.

…Well, even if it was an inanimate chunk of metal, it still had an ominous appearance to it. It was not weird for it to startle me.

…Well, even if it was an inanimate chunk of metal, it still had an ominous appearance to it. It was not weird for it to startle me.

“Hm? There’s a sword pierced right through it…”

“Hm? There’s a sword pierced right through it…”

After a closer look at its ‘neck’, I saw a silver greatsword stabbed through it. It looked like the thing was less 'standing upright', and more pinned to the wall. Judging from the design and the size, the weapon seemed to be a ‘Bastard Sword’. The gloss on the blade shouted 'sharp' at a first look.

After a closer look at its ‘neck’, I saw a silver greatswordsilver greatsword stabbed through it. It looked like the thing was less 'standing upright', and more pinned to the wall. Judging from the design and the size, the weapon seemed to be a ‘Bastard Sword’. The gloss on the blade shouted 'sharp' at a first look.

“Guess this is one of the works of my ancestors…”

“Guess this is one of the works of my ancestors…”

I could now see a Silver Lion inscribed into its pommel. It was the kind of old artifact that could normally only be seen in the museums of Sigurd. As for the armor, however…

I could now see a Silver Lion inscribed into its pommel. It was the kind of old artifact that could normally only be seen in the museums of Sigurd. As for the armor, however…

I couldn't tell where had that huge thing come from. It definitely wasn’t a creation of the Wolfgang family. That it wasn't made of silver was enough of a proof in itself, but there was also the ominous design and scary shape, a style that just didn't fit with my family's usual craft.

I couldn't tell where had that huge thing come from. It definitely wasn’t a creation of the Wolfgang family. That it wasn't made of silver was enough of a proof in itself, but there was also the ominous design and scary shape, a style that just didn't fit with my family's usual craft.

I wonder if people who would be willing to wear this kind of sinister equipment even exist…

I wonder if people who would be willing to wear this kind of sinister equipment even exist…I wonder if people who would be willing to wear this kind of sinister equipment even exist…

“Is it iron?… No, it isn’t… but it is made of some sort of metal…”

“Is it iron?… No, it isn’t… but it is made of some sort of metal…”

Even at times like these, my inner smith wouldn't stay quiet and before I noticed what I was doing I was already staring fixedly at the armor, studying the details.I approached closer and tested the surface by rapping it lightly with my knuckles. It was then that---

Even at times like these, my inner smith wouldn't stay quiet and before I noticed what I was doing I was already staring fixedly at the armor, studying the details.I approached closer and tested the surface by rapping it lightly with my knuckles. It was then that---

“Is someone here…?”

“Is someone here…?”

---a muffled voice came from inside the armor. I froze on the spot.

---a muffled voice came from inside the armor. I froze on the spot.

“Hmmm, there really seems to be someone here---”

“Hmmm, there really seems to be someone here---”

“T-t-t-the armor…s-s-SPOKEEEEEEE---?!”

“T-t-t-the armor…s-s-SPOKEEEEEEE---?!”

“Fool! How can an armor possibly speak? Try using your ears, kid.”

“Fool! How can an armor possibly speak? Try using your ears, kid.”

…It was true, it wasn’t exactly the armor itself that was speaking. The voice came from inside the plates. It was definitely a person’s voice. It sounded female. But the reverberation from being enclosed inside the metal made it impossible to discern her age.

…It was true, it wasn’t exactly the armor itself that was speaking. The voice came from inside the platesinside the plates. It was definitely a person’s voice. It sounded female. But the reverberation from being enclosed inside the metal made it impossible to discern her age.

“…Hmm, since you found your way into this underground room… you must be a «Silver Smith», no?”

“…Hmm, since you found your way into this underground room… you must be a «Silver Smith», no?”

The stranger, certainly a woman, spoke with a somewhat outdated accent. It didn’t take long for the sobriquet ‘Underground Queen’ to surface in my mind.

The stranger, certainly a woman, spoke with a somewhat outdated accent. It didn’t take long for the sobriquet ‘Underground Queen’ to surface in my mind.

Could it be that the person talking right now is…? But wait, the armor will only suit a person with a big build… Someone even bigger than my father is…

Could it be that the person talking right now is…? But wait, the armor will only suit a person with a big build… Someone even bigger than my father is…Could it be that the person talking right now is…? But wait, the armor will only suit a person with a big build… Someone even bigger than my father is…

“You must be one of Wolfgang's kids.”

“You must be one of Wolfgang's kids.”

“…Yes, I’m part of the Wolfgang family.”

“…Yes, I’m part of the Wolfgang family.”

I answered after a moment of hesitation looking up at the armor.

I answered after a moment of hesitation looking up at the armor.

“Now that I think about it, I don’t seem to recall hearing your voice before. What happened to

“Now that I think about it, I don’t seem to recall hearing your voice before. What happened to

‘Gilbert’?”

‘Gilbert’?”

“D-do you know my father!?”

“D-do you know my father!?”

“Father you say… So you are his son? Ohohoh… To think that that socially awkward Gilbert would… become someone’s father. How hilarious.”

“Father you say… So you are his son? Ohohoh… To think that that socially awkward Gilbert would… become someone’s father. How hilarious.”

She was clearly laughing now. The way she spoke about my father made her sound like she was some sort of ‘old acquaintance’…

She was clearly laughing now. The way she spoke about my father made her sound like she was some sort of ‘old acquaintance’…

“…Could it be that…you are the ‘Queen’?”

“…Could it be that…you are the ‘Queen’?”

My mental picture of a queen was that of an elegant and graceful person and what I had in front of me now — a huge, ominous armor — couldn’t be further away from what I expected. However, that seemed to be the most likely scenario in this situation.

My mental picture of a queen was that of an elegant and graceful person and what I had in front of me now — a huge, ominous armor — couldn’t be further away from what I expected. However, that seemed to be the most likely scenario in this situation.

“Yes, that is correct. I am a queen.”

“Yes, that is correct. I am a queen.”

The reply was immediate. In other words, the correct way to describe what I saw was that the queen was inside the armor.

The reply was immediate. In other words, the correct way to describe what I saw was that the queen was insideinside the armor.

“Then…Why is a queen inside an armor?”

“Then…Why is a queen inside an armor?”

Obviously, that was what had been intriguing me the most. No matter how I thought about it, it made no sense. The queen replied sounding displeased.

Obviously, that was what had been intriguing me the most. No matter how I thought about it, it made no sense. The queen replied sounding displeased.

“Do I look like I’m in this thing because I want to?”

“Do I look like I’m in this thing because I want to?”

“What do you mean by 'Do I look…'? All I see is this stupidly large armor…”

“What do you mean by 'Do I look…'? All I see is this stupidly large armor…”

“Tell me, kid, do you want to get to know me?”

“Tell me, kid, do you want to get to know me?”

“Well, that’s…”

“Well, that’s…”

If I told her I wasn’t interested, I’d be lying. She seemed to be an old acquaintance of my father, after all, maybe she knew something about him that I did not. She roared with an overbearing tone.

If I told her I wasn’t interested, I’d be lying. She seemed to be an old acquaintance of my father, after all, maybe she knew something about him that I did not. She roared with an overbearing tone.

“Then take the sword! Everything shall become clear to you once you do!”

“Then take the sword! Everything shall become clear to you once you do!”

Her voice resounded throughout the room, and I… just kept standing still silently, scratching my head.

Her voice resounded throughout the room, and I… just kept standing still silently, scratching my head.

“That must be a joke…”

“That must be a joke…”

No matter how I looked at it, the sword didn't seem easy to remove. Moreover, it gave an impression of being there to seal something away…

No matter how I looked at it, the sword didn't seem easy to remove. Moreover, it gave an impression of being there to sealseal something away…

True, according to the stories I had heard in the past, only demons or witches were treated in such a manner. I had never heard of someone sealing a queen.

True, according to the stories I had heard in the past, only demons or witches were treated in such a manner. I had never heard of someone sealing a queen.

“…I’ll ask you one more time. Why are you inside that armor?”

“…I’ll ask you one more time. Why are you inside that armor?”

“I don’t know.”

“I don’t know.”

Once again, her reply was immediate.

Once again, her reply was immediate.

“To tell you the truth, I would like to learn that myself.”

“To tell you the truth, I would like to learn that myself.”

“That doesn’t tell me anything and you know it.”

“That doesn’t tell me anything and you know it.”

“I can’t seem to recall. All I remember is waking up in here. Some sort of memory loss from

“I can’t seem to recall. All I remember is waking up in here. Some sort of memory loss from

the shock of entrapment, perhaps.”

the shock of entrapment, perhaps.”

“Whoah, that sounds soooo shady…”

“Whoah, that sounds soooo shady…”

“Y-You uncultured swine! Are you implying that I would dare to lie!?”

“Y-You uncultured swine! Are you implying that I would dare to lie!?”

She was clearly demanding a privileged treatment, her voice rising as she spoke.

She was clearly demanding a privileged treatment, her voice rising as she spoke.

For her to get this worked up, she might not be exactly lying…Though I still don't have enough information about her to really trust her.

For her to get this worked up, she might not be exactly lying…Though I still don't have enough information about her to really trust her.For her to get this worked up, she might not be exactly lying…Though I still don't have enough information about her to really trust her.

I settled on continuing the interrogation:

I settled on continuing the interrogation:

“By the way, when was it that you met my father? And what did you two talk about back then?”

“By the way, when was it that you met my father? And what did you two talk about back then?”

“Hold your horses kid. Now it’s my turn to ask a question.”

“Hold your horses kid. Now it’s my turn to ask a question.”

Apparently, she also had some questions.

Apparently, she also had some questions.

“…What do you want to know?”

“…What do you want to know?”

“Hmm---It’s about the «Sword Labyrinth».”

“Hmm---It’s about the «Sword Labyrinth».”

“Huh…”

“Huh…”

I couldn’t help getting startled, I wasn’t expecting the queen to mention that place at all.

I couldn’t help getting startled, I wasn’t expecting the queen to mention that place at all.

“Is there anyone who managed to arrive at the lowest floor?”

“Is there anyone who managed to arrive at the lowest floor?”

“Ah, no. Not yet…”

“Ah, no. Not yet…”

As far as I knew, there hadn't been anyone who had managed to get further down than the «Imperial Exploration Squad».

As far as I knew, there hadn't been anyone who had managed to get further down than the «Imperial Exploration Squad».

“Hmm, I see. That’s a relief.”

“Hmm, I see. That’s a relief.”

She seemed to be in a better mood now.

She seemed to be in a better mood now.

Maybe there’s some connection between the queen and the «Sword Labyrinth»…

Maybe there’s some connection between the queen and the «Sword Labyrinth»…Maybe there’s some connection between the queen and the «Sword Labyrinth»…

“So, what has become of Gilbert?”

“So, what has become of Gilbert?”

“Hey, now it should be my turn to ask---”

“Hey, now it should be my turn to ask---”

“---Did he pass away?”

“---Did he pass away?”

“H-he’s not dead, not yet!”

“H-he’s not dead, not yet!”

“What do you mean by ‘not yet’?”

“What do you mean by ‘not yet’?”

“Well…”

“Well…”

“It seems that something has happened. Tell me. You are lucky, I have so much free time I don’t know what to do with it.”

“It seems that something has happened. Tell me. You are lucky, I have so much free time I don’t know what to do with it.”

I had answered by reflex, but now I was unsure how much I should tell her…

I had answered by reflex, but now I was unsure how much I should tell her…

“No need to worry about leaking any secrets. I can’t leave this armor after all.”

“No need to worry about leaking any secrets. I can’t leave this armor after all.”

That helped me take one step forward, and who knew, maybe the fact I couldn’t see her face also played a part in reassuring me.

That helped me take one step forward, and who knew, maybe the fact I couldn’t see her face also played a part in reassuring me.

“My father… disappeared ten years ago inside of the «Sword Labyrinth»---”

“My father… disappeared ten years ago inside of the «Sword Labyrinth»---”

I proceeded to summarize the events of ten years ago. That my father had been chosen for the «Imperial Exploration Squad», that he had betrayed his companions. I spoke of the slow, painful like the jabs of a needle days I had gone through with was left of our family. And, finally, of the passing away of my mother three months ago. Narrating all that felt almost like confessing in a church.

I proceeded to summarize the events of ten years ago. That my father had been chosen for the «Imperial Exploration Squad», that he had betrayed his companions. I spoke of the slow, painful like the jabs of a needle days I had gone through with was left of our family. And, finally, of the passing away of my mother three months ago. Narrating all that felt almost like confessing in a church.

“…He betrayed them? Someone like Gilbert betrayed them?”

“…He betrayed them? Someone like Gilbert betrayed them?”

It must have been a very strange concept for her. This was the only even she had commented on while I had been narrating the story. Honestly, I was surprised with myself. Once I started talking, the rest of the story followed like a torrent. Maybe, since the very start, I always had wanted to talk about those ten years with someone else…

It must have been a very strange concept for her. This was the only even she had commented on while I had been narrating the story. Honestly, I was surprised with myself. Once I started talking, the rest of the story followed like a torrent. Maybe, since the very start, I always had wanted to talk about those ten years with someone else…

When I was finally done, the queen again said the same thing in a resolute voice:

When I was finally done, the queen again said the same thing in a resolute voice:

“Take the sword! Once you do, everything shall become clear to you!”

“Take the sword! Once you do, everything shall become clear to you!”

“We already went over that, why even say it again…”

“We already went over that, why even say it again…”

“It’s obvious, kid. For the truth.”

“It’s obvious, kid. For the truth.”

“Why should I pull out that sword for you?”

“Why should I pull out that sword for you?”

“You dolt. It’s not for me, you will do that for your own sake.”

“You dolt. It’s not for me, you will do that for your own sake.”

“…Mine?”

“…Mine?”

“Don’t you wish to know?”

“Don’t you wish to know?”

“What?”

“What?”

“What happened in the «Sword Labyrinth» ten years ago.”

“What happened in the «Sword Labyrinth» ten years ago.”

“So it’s come to that…”

“So it’s come to that…”

I finally understood. She was telling me to challenge the «Sword Labyrinth» myself.

I finally understood. She was telling me to challenge the «Sword Labyrinth» myself.

I started to feel a sort of dull pain creeping in from the back of my head and clouding my thoughts. I found it hard to think straight.

I started to feel a sort of dull pain creeping in from the back of my head and clouding my thoughts. I found it hard to think straight.

“Answer me, kid! Are you satisfied with the way things are now? Do you enjoy living like this, having everyone trample over you without knowing what caused things to develop like this?”

“Answer me, kid! Are you satisfied with the way things are now? Do you enjoy living like this, having everyone trample over you without knowing what caused things to develop like this?”

“Well…”

“Well…”

I didn’t know what to say anymore. It was true, I had already resigned myself to being called ‘son of a traitor’ for the rest of my life. I saw no conceivable way of changing that fate. After all, I lacked the means my father’s name in the first place. Being the kid I was, I would never stand a chance challenging the «Sword Labyrinth».

I didn’t know what to say anymore. It was true, I had already resigned myself to being called ‘son of a traitor’ for the rest of my life. I saw no conceivable way of changing that fate. After all, I lacked the means my father’s name in the first place. Being the kid I was, I would never stand a chance challenging the «Sword Labyrinth».

“I could guide you to Gilbert if you wished for that. The Labyrinth is pretty much my playground.”

“I could guide you to Gilbert if you wished for that. The Labyrinth is pretty much my playground.”

…For her to call the «Sword Labyrinth», that no one had even managed to explore more than half of, her garden…

…For her to call the «Sword Labyrinth», that no one had even managed to explore more than half of, her garden…

She seemed really confident. Or she might just be full of bluster to convince me to remove the sword. It didn't have to be a lie, though. And if it wasn't… then this must be some sort of destiny…

She seemed really confident. Or she might just be full of bluster to convince me to remove the sword. It didn't have to be a lie, though. And if it wasn't… then this must be some sort of destiny…

“If you want to know the truth, take the sword out! This is the time for us to set off!”

“If you want to know the truth, take the sword out! This is the time for us to set off!”

Do I continue to bear the sullied mantle of the son of a traitor… Or do I risk my life in the «Sword Labyrinth» to cleanse the taint…

Do I continue to bear the sullied mantle of the son of a traitor… Or do I risk my life in the «Sword Labyrinth» to cleanse the taint…Do I continue to bear the sullied mantle of the son of a traitor… Or do I risk my life in the «Sword Labyrinth» to cleanse the taint…

Both choices came with plenty of hard to assess risk, but choosing between them was easy.

Both choices came with plenty of hard to assess risk, but choosing between them was easy.

“---Okay, I’ll pull the sword out.”

“---Okay, I’ll pull the sword out.”

I finally felt like I could understand Vincent’s feelings, if only a bit. He had lived through a hellish nightmare in there, and even lost one arm, but he still found the determination to walk inside again…

I finally felt like I could understand Vincent’s feelings, if only a bit. He had lived through a hellish nightmare in there, and even lost one arm, but he still found the determination to walk inside again…

If continuing to live meant having to carry so much suffering, I’d rather lose my life as quickly as possible. So, why not dedicate whatever time I had left to exploring the dungeon?

If continuing to live meant having to carry so much suffering, I’d rather lose my life as quickly as possible. So, why not dedicate whatever time I had left to exploring the dungeon?

“Hmm. You made a good decision kid.”

“Hmm. You made a good decision kid.”

She also seemed to be satisfied.

She also seemed to be satisfied.

“So…I just have to pull this…Bastard Sword out of the armor, right?”

“So…I just have to pull this…Bastard Sword out of the armor, right?”

“Indeed. And as you surely realize, pulling it out must be easier than sticking it in, no?”

“Indeed. And as you surely realize, pulling it out must be easier than sticking it in, no?”

“Alright, here goes nothing…”

“Alright, here goes nothing…”

I took hold of the long hilt with my two hands and slowly put force applied force to the grip—

I took hold of the long hilt with my two hands and slowly put force applied force to the grip—

“Don’t forget your promise of guiding me into the «Sword Labyrinth»!”

“Don’t forget your promise of guiding me into the «Sword Labyrinth»!”

—and I shouted while pulling the thing out in one forceful movement. Immediately after the armor shone a faint red light throughout the dark room. Throbbing like an exposed vein, the crimson, pulsing aura illuminated even the farthest corners of the cellar. Soon after, I could hear a high-pitched noise like that of a shattering glass, and the big armor fell apart into small pieces.

—and I shouted while pulling the thing out in one forceful movement. Immediately after the armor shone a faint red light throughout the dark room. Throbbing like an exposed vein, the crimson, pulsing aura illuminated even the farthest corners of the cellar. Soon after, I could hear a high-pitched noise like that of a shattering glass, and the big armor fell apart into small pieces.

“…Huh, what happened?”

“…Huh, what happened?”

The shock from witnessing the scene paralyzed my body. All I had done was pulling the sword out and somehow that had made the big lump of metal practically explode sending fragments everywhere. It was a rather bad time for stunned confusion though, so I restored my bearings and started searching for the contents of the armor. When I found what I was looking for, I was left speechless. What I saw was like an ‘Angel’ of the kind I always dreamed about when I read picture books as a kid, fluttering in my direction. A really mesmerizing scene. The apparition floating in front of me had platinum-blonde hair so bright that they almost shone in the dark, and clear, almost transparent skin. I watched her land on the ground and curl like a chick that barely hatched from its egg. Her figure was one of a young girl, small and fragile. She was undoubtedly human though, or at the very least not an angel, for there were no pure-white wings to be found on her back. A second later she laughed a deep, guttural laughter.

The shock from witnessing the scene paralyzed my body. All I had done was pulling the sword out and somehow that had made the big lump of metal practically explode sending fragments everywhere. It was a rather bad time for stunned confusion though, so I restored my bearings and started searching for the contentscontents of the armor. When I found what I was looking for, I was left speechless. What I saw was like an ‘Angel’ of the kind I always dreamed about when I read picture books as a kid, fluttering in my direction. A really mesmerizing scene. The apparition floating in front of me had platinum-blonde hair so bright that they almost shone in the dark, and clear, almost transparent skin. I watched her land on the ground and curl like a chick that barely hatched from its egg. Her figure was one of a young girl, small and fragile. She was undoubtedly humanhuman though, or at the very least not an angel, for there were no pure-white wings to be found on her back. A second later she laughed a deep, guttural laughter.

“I’m free….After a hundred years, I’m free…”

“I’m free….After a hundred years, I’m free…”

She said in an exaggerated tone that totally didn't match her appearance and stood up.

She said in an exaggerated tone that totally didn't match her appearance and stood up.

“---I’m FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!”

“---I’m FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!”

She raised her arms upwards like wings as she shouted, her loud voice echoing inside the underground room. When I saw her standing like that, so small yet confident in herself—

She raised her arms upwards like wings as she shouted, her loud voice echoing inside the underground room. When I saw her standing like that, so small yet confident in herself—

“W-w-w-what kind of exhibition are you trying to stage?!”

“W-w-w-what kind of exhibitionexhibition are you trying to stage?!”

—I immediately averted my view.

—I immediately averted my view.

“What happened, kid? Are you blushing? Is my noble and magnificent appearance too overwhelming for you?”

“What happened, kid? Are you blushing? Is my noble and magnificent appearance too overwhelming for you?”

Surprisingly enough, she even felt comfortable enough to take a deep breath.

Surprisingly enough, she even felt comfortable enough to take a deep breath.

Could it be that she hasn’t… realized?

Could it be that she hasn’t… realized?Could it be that she hasn’t… realized?

I gulped once and, trying very hard to not look at her, tried to tell her the truth.

I gulped once and, trying very hard to not look at her, tried to tell her the truth.

“Y-you are… err… nude you know!”

“Y-you are… err… nudenude you know!”

“Who are you calling nud--- Wha-! Y-you are right! I am nude!”

“Who are you calling nud--- Wha-! Y-you are right! I am nude!”

Apparently, she was so happy about being released from the armor that she didn’t realize she didn’t have any clothes on.

Apparently, she was so happy about being released from the armor that she didn’t realize she didn’t have any clothes on.

“Explain this, kid!”

“Explain this, kid!”

“L-Like, how?!”

“L-Like, how?!”

Truth be told, I had noticed that her skin stood out the most in those initial moments when I still hadn't been able to see her clearly, but I hadn’t imagined that was because she didn’t have a single piece of cloth on her…

Truth be told, I had noticed that her skin stood out the most in those initial moments when I still hadn't been able to see her clearly, but I hadn’t imagined that was because she didn’t have a single piece of cloth on her…

Somehow, I ended up seeing the entire body of a girl from only a couple steps away…

Somehow, I ended up seeing the entire body of a girl from only a couple steps away…

I immediately took my coat off and, trying to keep my eyes averted, I attempted to hand it over to her.

I immediately took my coat off and, trying to keep my eyes averted, I attempted to hand it over to her.

“….Wear this”.

“….Wear this”.

However, she wouldn't have any of that.

However, she wouldn't have any of that.

“S-So what if I’m nude, you don’t have to make such a big fuss!”

“S-So what if I’m nude, you don’t have to make such a big fuss!”

Her voice was trembling when she refused.

Her voice was trembling when she refused.

“…Did I… In the hundred years that I spent inside the armor… Did my body shrink…?”

“…Did I… In the hundred years that I spent inside the armor… Did my body shrink…?”

Then, completely defenseless, she walked towards me. I could hear the quiet sound of her feet on the stone floor as she got closer. And then, without even trying to hide her body, she grabbed onto me.

Then, completely defenseless, she walked towards me. I could hear the quiet sound of her feet on the stone floor as she got closer. And then, without even trying to hide her body, she grabbed onto me.

“Kid! What does this mean?! Why do I have this decrepit chest?!”

“Kid! What does this mean?! Why do I have this decrepitdecrepit chest?!”

She forcefully shook my body to make me look.

She forcefully shook my body to make me look.

“I-I just told you I don’t know!!”

“I-I just told you I don’t know!!”

“I’m a queen! Who would give this poor body to a queen?!”

“I’m a queen! Who would give this poor body to a queen?!”

“Girl, cover yourself first for crying out loud!”

“Girl, cover yourself first for crying out loud!”

I was really worried there would be no salvation for my eyes if this continued, so I forced my coat over her head. But her hands stopped mine almost instantly.

I was really worried there would be no salvation for my eyes if this continued, so I forced my coat over her head. But her hands stopped mine almost instantly.

“You uncouth scum! Are you implying I should wear such tattered and smelly clothes?!”

“You uncouth scum! Are you implying I should wear such tattered and smelly clothes?!”

“Who cares their state, just wear something!”

“Who cares their state, just wear something!”

“A queen like me would never wear such cheap clothes even if my life depended on it!”

“A queen like me would never wear such cheap clothes even if my life depended on it!”

“No, no, no. Your decency is more important here!”

“No, no, no. Your decency is more important here!”

We continued to childishly brawl over the coat. And then, after few minutes of that, she suddenly stood still.

We continued to childishly brawl over the coat. And then, after few minutes of that, she suddenly stood still.

“…That’s one annoying sound.”

“…That’s one annoying sound.”

Only when she said that I noticed a displeasing sound coming from behind me, like that of many rusty blades scratching stone. A chill ran down my spine and I turned around---

Only when she said that I noticed a displeasing sound coming from behind me, like that of many rusty blades scratching stone. A chill ran down my spine and I turned around---

—to see the dark fragments of the armor scattered around crawling along the floor the ground, slowly converging at a single point.

—to see the dark fragments of the armor scattered around crawling along the floor the ground, slowly converging at a single point.

“…Wh-what…is that---?!”

“…Wh-what…is that---?!”

While I stood there frozen in shock, the fragments started to merge into a Dark Giant. No matter how I looked at it… the ominous shape only seemed to spell bad news for me. Only now did I finally understand why there was ‘a skill to restrain and enslave a violent monster’ recorded on the silver slate above.

While I stood there frozen in shock, the fragments started to merge into a Dark GiantDark Giant. No matter how I looked at it… the ominous shape only seemed to spell bad news for me. Only now did I finally understand why there was ‘a skill to restrain and enslave a violent monster’ recorded on the silver slate above.

“…Dammit, so this was already expected to happen!”

“…Dammit, so this was already expected to happen!”

But unexpectedly—

But unexpectedly—

“Hmm, this thing is going to be good to warm up a bit.”

“Hmm, this thing is going to be good to warm up a bit.”

—The girl was watching the unfolding scene calmly, a smile on her pink lips.

—The girl was watching the unfolding scene calmly, a smile on her pink lips.

“Hey kid, give me the sword.”

“Hey kid, give me the sword.”

“Don’t be stupid! A girl should step back in this situation!”

“Don’t be stupid! A girl should step back in this situation!”

I pushed her behind me as quickly as I could and got ready to face the giant.

I pushed her behind me as quickly as I could and got ready to face the giant.

“…Are you… trying to protect me, perhaps?”

“…Are you… trying to protect me, perhaps?”

“Of course! I can’t let a girl with no weapon on her get into danger, can I?”

“Of course! I can’t let a girl with no weapon on her get into danger, can I?”

Well, to be precise, she didn't just lack a weapon, she had nothing on her at all. While we talked, the giant had started to move towards me with a screeching sound worthy of a rusty hinge. There were two ghastly, blue lights in the slits of its helm, and they were very much focused on me.

Well, to be precise, she didn't just lack a weapon, she had nothing on her at all. While we talked, the giant had started to move towards me with a screeching sound worthy of a rusty hinge. There were two ghastly, blue lights in the slits of its helm, and they were very much focused on me.

---Time seemed to freeze for an instant…

---Time seemed to freeze for an instant…

Then I saw the giant swinging its fist down, straight at me. I leaped sideways immediately. The fist raised orange sparks where it made contact with the floor at the exact spot I occupied a moment ago. I might have been skipping training for three months, but my body didn't seem to have lost all its instinct.

Then I saw the giant swinging its fist down, straight at me. I leaped sideways immediately. The fist raised orange sparks where it made contact with the floor at the exact spot I occupied a moment ago. I might have been skipping training for three months, but my body didn't seem to have lost all its instinct.

“Oomph!”

“Oomph!”

Without losing a moment, I forcefully swung the sword towards the armor's vacant torso without even caring to stand up properly. A strong metallic sound rang when the blade made contact. I managed to land a blow. Silver cleansed magic, and this sword was a relic from one of my once noble ancestors. Not even a monster like this one should be able to stand a chance. However…

Without losing a moment, I forcefully swung the sword towards the armor's vacant torso without even caring to stand up properly. A strong metallic sound rang when the blade made contact. I managed to land a blow. Silver cleansed magic, and this sword was a relic from one of my once noble ancestors. Not even a monster like this one should be able to stand a chance. However…

“…kuh!”

“…kuh!”

My hand turned numb. The backlash from the hit had been really strong. Yet there was not even a scratch on the pitch-black body. The thing answered with a violent backswing that I could only attempt to block with the flat of my sword, but the blow was strong and only kept increasing in power. An instant later, my entire body was sent flying back across the room.

My hand turned numb. The backlash from the hit had been really strong. Yet there was not even a scratch on the pitch-black body. The thing answered with a violent backswing that I could only attempt to block with the flat of my sword, but the blow was strong and only kept increasing in power. An instant later, my entire body was sent flying back across the room.

“------Ghah!?”

“------Ghah!?”

Once again, I hit my back against something, a stone wall this time, I didn’t bother to count how many times did that make today. This time, the impact was more noticeable, though.

Once again, I hit my back against something, a stone wall this time, I didn’t bother to count how many times did that make today. This time, the impact was more noticeable, though.

All the air was forced out of my lungs and all my joints creaked in protest. I felt like a fruit that fell from a tree and was squashed by the contact with the ground. The giant approached me with long, creaking strides. I used the wall as a support to stand up and brandished the Bastard Sword again. But, compared to the first time, I had close to no strength left in my body. When my blade struck the armor again, the recoil of the hit sent me staggering back hopelessly. The giant treated me to another sideblow for my troubles, and this time I wasn’t able to recover my posture in time. The fist hit me head-on with the force of a wrecking ball, sending me hopping and rolling across the floor like a stone. This blow I couldn't endure and I ended up dropping the sword.

All the air was forced out of my lungs and all my joints creaked in protest. I felt like a fruit that fell from a tree and was squashed by the contact with the ground. The giant approached me with long, creaking strides. I used the wall as a support to stand up and brandished the Bastard Sword again. But, compared to the first time, I had close to no strength left in my body. When my blade struck the armor again, the recoil of the hit sent me staggering back hopelessly. The giant treated me to another sideblow for my troubles, and this time I wasn’t able to recover my posture in time. The fist hit me head-on with the force of a wrecking ball, sending me hopping and rolling across the floor like a stone. This blow I couldn't endure and I ended up dropping the sword.

“…Guh, ghah---”

“…Guh, ghah---”

My body was gripped by such an unbearable pain that even making a sound hurt. This time it didn’t seem probable that I’d be able to stand up anytime soon.

My body was gripped by such an unbearable pain that even making a sound hurt. This time it didn’t seem probable that I’d be able to stand up anytime soon.

…This is bad, this thing is… strong. And even more… sturdy. Seems like I won’t be able to take care of it no matter what I do. Not with my wannabe sword skills.

…This is bad, this thing is… strong. And even more… sturdy. Seems like I won’t be able to take care of it no matter what I do. Not with my wannabe sword skills.…This is bad, this thing is… strong. And even more… sturdy. Seems like I won’t be able to take care of it no matter what I do. Not with my wannabe sword skills.

Even so, I couldn’t possibly try to run away. Just thinking about what would happen if the giant broke out of the basement and went outside, into the city…

Even so, I couldn’t possibly try to run away. Just thinking about what would happen if the giant broke out of the basement and went outside, into the city…

And that defenseless girl wouldn’t go through this without a scratch either…

And that defenseless girl wouldn’t go through this without a scratch either…

“…*huff*, *huff*, *huff*…”

“…*huff*, *huff*, *huff*…”

I clenched my teeth, forced my aching body to stand up and sluggishly head towards the fallen sword. It was then that---

I clenched my teeth, forced my aching body to stand up and sluggishly head towards the fallen sword. It was then that---

“---How weak.”

“---How weak.”

A sighing voice came from between me and my destination.

A sighing voice came from between me and my destination.

…When did she get here?

…When did she get here?…When did she get here?

The girl was crouched in front of me, not even trying to conceal her soft skin and resting her chin in her hands.

The girl was crouched in front of me, not even trying to conceal her soft skin and resting her chin in her hands.

“All the strength you boasted ends at your words I see.”

“All the strength you boasted ends at your words I see.”

She seemed visibly bored, her pink lips a thin line as she looked me. I didn't know why she even thought it was a good moment to act like that, but she certainly should be leaving this place right about now.

She seemed visibly bored, her pink lips a thin line as she looked me. I didn't know why she even thought it was a good moment to act like that, but she certainly should be leaving this place right about now.

“Shut up…Listen, no matter what, just run away, now! Go and ask for help from the people in the street or something!”

“Shut up…Listen, no matter what, just run away, now! Go and ask for help from the people in the street or something!”

Even as we spoke, the giant was closing in on us. I didn’t want to even think about what would happen if a girl like her, nude to top it off, were to receive one of its blows.

Even as we spoke, the giant was closing in on us. I didn’t want to even think about what would happen if a girl like her, nude to top it off, were to receive one of its blows.

“H-Hurry!”

“H-Hurry!”

“Moron, you should be the one hurrying up.”

“Moron, you should be the one hurrying up.”

After that, she turned around, her hair waving as she moved, and with a swift hop, like a rabbit, she picked up the Bastard Sword.

After that, she turned around, her hair waving as she moved, and with a swift hop, like a rabbit, she picked up the Bastard Sword.

“H-Hey, give that back to me! You can’t possibly handle that sword!”

“H-Hey, give that back to me! You can’t possibly handle that sword!”

Weapons and tools made from silver were much less heavy than those made from iron. It wasn’t weird for females to carry silver short swords. However, a Bastard Sword was simply too big in every dimension. It was nearly as large as the girl. Even if she forced herself to wield it, her thin arms would be unable to exert enough force to do anything to a being even I had been unable to damage. However…

Weapons and tools made from silver were much less heavy than those made from iron. It wasn’t weird for females to carry silver short swords. However, a Bastard Sword was simply too big in every dimension. It was nearly as large as the girl. Even if she forced herself to wield it, her thin arms would be unable to exert enough force to do anything to a being even I had been unable to damage. However…

That rabbit-like girl was only holding the sword straight up above her head when she asked with a teasing smile:

That rabbit-like girl was only holding the sword straight up above her head when she asked with a teasing smile:

“Why would I want to handle a sword?”

“Why would I want to handlehandle a sword?”

“…Huh------?!”

“…Huh------?!”

For a second, I wasn’t able to say anything. I was left completely speechless because that small girl just opened her mouth, moved the blade that was as big as her to it, and, with a trance-like expression—

For a second, I wasn’t able to say anything. I was left completely speechless because that small girl just opened her mouth, moved the blade that was as big as her to it, and, with a trance-like expression—

---ate the thing.

---ate the thing.

It accentuated her resemblance to a rabbit even more, the process looked just like when a rabbit was eating a carrot that was held out to it. She finished with an innocent gulp, having ignored the dumbfounded me all through the process.

It accentuated her resemblance to a rabbit even more, the process looked just like when a rabbit was eating a carrot that was held out to it. She finished with an innocent gulp, having ignored the dumbfounded me all through the process.

“Hmm, I will acknowledge your strong spirit, that even though you are so weak, you tried to protect me. In exchange, I shall show you the ‘ultimate flash’---”

“Hmm, I will acknowledge your strong spirit, that even though you are so weak, you tried to protect me. In exchange, I shall show you the ‘ultimate flash’---”

[Sword Rebellion]

[Sword Rebellion]

------Streaks of light shot out from her body after that, and it shone with an exploding force. In the time it took me to blink, the dazzling light illuminated the entire room in pure white. It was hard for me to even keep my eyes open.

------Streaks of light shot out from her body after that, and it shone with an exploding force. In the time it took me to blink, the dazzling light illuminated the entire room in pure white. It was hard for me to even keep my eyes open.

“…W-what is this---”

“…W-what is this---”

When I managed to see again, I was greeted by something that looked like a glittering blade.

When I managed to see again, I was greeted by something that looked like a glittering bladeglittering blade.

I felt that now, I finally understood why she was called a queen…

I felt that now, I finally understood why she was called a queen…

In her frail white arms, she held a blade of light that seemed to even pierce the ceiling. Her body, naked until just seconds ago, was now covered in an elegant and beautiful, pure-white dress. That elegance and beauty alone were fitting for somebody titled queen. The animated armor monster seemed to be unable to understand what was happening though, as it fearlessly swung its fist against the head of the girl. She didn’t seem to hesitate either, she just squinted her eyes a little and—

In her frail white arms, she held a blade of light that seemed to even pierce the ceiling. Her body, naked until just seconds ago, was now covered in an elegant and beautiful, pure-white dress. That elegance and beauty alone were fitting for somebody titled queen. The animated armor monster seemed to be unable to understand what was happening though, as it fearlessly swung its fist against the head of the girl. She didn’t seem to hesitate either, she just squinted her eyes a little and—

“------Begone.”

“------Begone.”

—simply swung the shining blade down with a swift motion of her arm. Her movements were as carefree as if she was simply wiping away some dust from her clothes…

—simply swung the shining blade down with a swift motion of her arm. Her movements were as carefree as if she was simply wiping away some dust from her clothes…

A single flash of light streaked silently through the dim room.

A single flash of light streaked silently through the dim room.

Afterwards, a thin line of light spread down from the tip of the helmet, straight through the middle of the giant, literally cutting it into two halves that tumbled to each side---

Afterwards, a thin line of light spread down from the tip of the helmet, straight through the middle of the giant, literally cutting it into two halves that tumbled to each side---

It was a single, decisive strike. It cut through that sturdy armor as if it was paper.

It was a single, decisive strike. It cut through that sturdy armor as if it was paper.

“…Hmm, to think that my first prey after a hundred years would be a weakling like this one… How disappointing.”

“…Hmm, to think that my first prey after a hundred years would be a weakling like this one… How disappointing.”

She was looking down on what was left of the armor as if it was but a pebble on the roadside.

She was looking down on what was left of the armor as if it was but a pebble on the roadside.

“Still, a curious thing… Is this a «Cursed Chainmail»…?”

“Still, a curious thing… Is this a «Cursed Chainmail»…?”

Amused with her own words, she poked the remains with the tip of her shining sword.

Amused with her own words, she poked the remains with the tip of her shining sword.

That made the remains of the armor disappear as if it was a sand castle in the wind.

That made the remains of the armor disappear as if it was a sand castle in the wind.

“Oh, so it was a «Cursed Chainmail» after all.”

“Oh, so it was a «Cursed Chainmail» after all.”

---Am I dreaming?

---Am I dreaming?---Am I dreaming?

Everything, the shining blade, the dazzling dress she wore for an instant, her ridiculous strength, the armor that disappeared like some sort of mirage… Everything seemed too out of this world.

Everything, the shining blade, the dazzling dress she wore for an instant, her ridiculous strength, the armor that disappeared like some sort of mirage… Everything seemed too out of this world.

“Y-You…”

“Y-You…”

My head was filled with questions. But all I could say at this moment was:

My head was filled with questions. But all I could say at this moment was:

“Just who… Are you…?”

“Just who… Are you…?”

When I asked, she turned to me, sticking her flat chest out proudly as she spoke.

When I asked, she turned to me, sticking her flat chest out proudly as she spoke.

“My name is Celestia. I am the «Sword Queen»---”

“My name is Celestia. I am the «Sword Queen»---”