If one was to think about it, it wasn’t like I could just wait there for Rēko the whole time. After all, the rejuvenating medicine able to shrink my body was with my other luggage, left inside the bandits’ hideout. If I were to spend the night here, my body would’ve suddenly returned to its previous size, and not able to fit inside the cave I’d have caused a cave in.
“I’m really glad it’s a safe cave. Err let’s see, I’ve to turn right here.”
I’ve always been reasonably confident in my memory. Still, just in case I’d have to retrace my steps, I was scraping off moss marking the ground. Bringing the book along would be the most certain way, but not moving it from the entrance had to be the tacit etiquette. If one day some other humans were to fall in, just how much relief would that guidebook being there bring them.
“So I turn this way here — and once I pass straight through the last room I’ll reach the robbers passage on the surface.”
Once I followed the path without any mistakes, I suddenly felt the muddy ground turn solid. It was just before the robbers’ passage. The only wide space on the map able to be called a room was built entirely with the same sized stone blocks, from floor to ceiling.
A so called stone chamber. I heard that the ancient royalty’s tombs were designed like this.
I felt inexpressible eeriness. Throughout the stone chamber were murals depicting men carrying bows and spears while rousing the beasts of the grasslands.
“Let’s leave quickly.”
This wasn’t a good place for me to be in. Instinctively feeling that, I hastened my steps to cross the room. If I’d clear one part of the destroyed by the robbers’ stone blocks, it’d immediately become an ascent towards the surface.
At that time, two incidents happened simultaneously. Firstly, the moss attached to my feet got crushed on the flat stone chamber floor. As a consequence, I slipped and fell down magnificently.
And the other one was that, as I’ve been falling, an arrow with a tremendous force passed right above my head, grazing it.
A black arrow was pierced deep into the stone chamber’s wall. If that were to hit me, I’d have no doubt followed the fate of the rolling around the entrance animal’s bones.
“A-a trap? That was way too close. Or rather, lucky me. Just one more step and I’d be dead.”
However, I had a bad feeling. In that guidebook, there certainly was written “used as a playground by children”. Traps with shooting arrows, was it really a place for children to play?
“… These adventurers’ children are amazing. They were already training this way from the young age.”
After forcibly interpreting it this way, smiling, I deliberately looked in the direction the arrow came from. It had to be a trap.
Because if that wasn’t a trap, it’d have to be something much more terrifying. Because if that wasn’t a trap, it’d have to mean that someone nearby shot that arrow, right?
Anxiety turned out to be true. There was something.
It was a strange existence formed into a human’s shape from the densely gathered black fog. That thing, while holding a bow and arrow composed similarly from the black fog, faced me promptly and drew his bow.
“Noooooooooo—————!! It came out———!!”
I started running away in a crazed manner. After I moved, an arrow pierced the floor with a whish sound right where I’ve just stood. Returning to the maze I began my flight, repeatedly turning right and left. Once I ran into a dead-end my shoulders moved up and down while trying to stifle my breath.
—— Now that I think about it, I’m a beast, aren’t I?
I messed up. Only at this point did I remember the guidebook’s warning. That had to be the enshrined here God of Hunt. He has mistaken me for a sacrificed animal and was trying to hunt me down, like prey.
What should I do? Dying in such a gloomy place… At least let me die somewhere better.
Even when I desperately exerted my ears I couldn’t hear that monster’s footsteps. However, just by imagining that eerie black fog figure appearing before me, I felt like my spirit was cut with a sharp blade.
Think. Even if I fought with that thing, there was no way I’d win. After all, it was a God. It was an existence which preyed even on the trained for combat adventurers’ familiars. That was why I’d just get quickly sacrificed and be done for——
Sacrifice? Rēko’s face briefly flashed in my mind.
(A God of Hunt, huh…)
For the argument’s sake, I thought what Rēko would’ve done in these circumstances. Well, most likely when it came this far she’d have as always used tough measures and kicked even that God’s ass, but what would happen if she was delivered here as a sacrifice, just like she was offered to me.
Would she have died? No way. I couldn’t imagine a picture of her being meekly sacrificed. Even if she wouldn’t have awoken her magic powers.
“I’ll die anyway. Might as well give it a try.”
After sighing and preparing myself for death, I ran out of the blind alley along with splashing sounds of water. Then, I raised a scream which reverberated throughout the cave.
“Oo—i, exalted God of Hunting! I’m nothing more than a stupid dragon offered to you as a sacrifice! Come and enjoy me as much as you like!”
I took a pose of absolute submission, lying belly-up on the ground with all my limbs stretched out. As soon as I did, an arrow shot from somewhere got stuck right next to my face.
Still, I didn’t move. Well, truth be told, even if I wanted to I was already unable to move, since my legs got paralyzed from fear.
Inside the cave echoed only the sound of bowstring being pulled.
“I won’t neither run nor hide. Being able to be pierced by the magnificent God of Hunting’s arrow brings one nothing but satisfaction. Now, please pierce my heart, if only your mercy may allow so.”
I simulated the lines Rēko would have said in a situation like this. Even I found it unpleasant how easily they came out of my mouth. Several seconds, which seemed like eternity, have passed like that. Before I realized, sound of the bowstring being pulled disappeared and was replaced with nearing steps on the wet ground.
“You, not run?”
I felt like fainting when the black fog monster suddenly peered in my face.
“I-I won’t run. Since my very life has already been offered to you.”
As expected, you also think so – I empathized with the grotesque God in my head.
The black fog God briskly went into the rear passage, and after a while came back. In his hands was amply soaked in water moss.
“Cool your head, a bit. You, tired.”
After being moved by the kindness for the first time in a while, I at last raised my voice and cried on the spot.