At dawn, we advanced through the flower garden labyrinth.
At last we have arrived.
In the past, Kaede gave me the opportunity to touch the core of the labyrinth we once explored.
This time, I want to let her do it.
After going through an intricate maze of hedges, we came out into a wide open space and found the core surrounded by an iron fence.
A glowing blue crystal.
If we touched it, we would be safe.
I gently opened the gate and nodded toward Kaede.
"Is it okay if I touch it?"
"It's fine with me."
"Frau will touch it next time."
Smiling softly, Kaede approached the stone and touched it gently with her fingertips.
《Congratulations for breaking through the Flower Garden Labyrinth. You shall now receive the clearing reward》
《Reward: a memory box will be awarded as a clear privilege》.
A ball of light appeared and landed on Kaede's hand.
When the glow disappeared, there was a white, square box.
In the center of the box was a round glass inlay, which had a look that could only be described as strange.
"What is this?"
"What does appraisal say?"
"It says it's a tool that allows you to photograph the landscape beyond the lens by pressing the shutter button."
We exchanged words with our eyes.
The thought running through all our minds was; 'what does that mean?'
Meanwhile, Kaede pressed the button towards the sky.
"Wow, a piece of paper came out."
A sheet of thick paper came out from the bottom of the box.
An elaborate drawing of a blue sky appeared on the paper.
Could it be that this thing could draw the landscape before it in an instant?
Quite some time ago, I had heard of such a relic.
If this is it, it's a national treasure.
"Hey, can you draw us with it?"
An odd sound resounded and out came the paper.
I hurried over to Kaede, and waited for the image to become clear.
"Oh, it's me!"
"It's so real. You look just like you, Master."
"That's because it's me! Now I want a drawing with Kaede."
Now it was Ultina who pointed the box at us and pressed the button.
She was next to Kaede, and suddenly Frau and Panda came in with us.
The paper came out.
What an impressive tool.
With this, I can preserve the landscapes I see on my journeys.
I've been waiting for something like this.
Thank you, Kaede
I stopped moving for a second.
That sound again?
When I returned to the city, I went to the item store to get more information about the 'memory box'.
From what I heard there, this tool is commonly known as a "camera," and similar ones are circulating on the mainland, albeit in small numbers.
However, as expected, the shopkeeper told me that they are so expensive that the general public cannot obtain them.
"It's amazing! I can see the scenery as many times as I want." he said.
"I'm glad you like it, Master."
"Yes, I'll take more pictures with Kaede."
Take a picture from below.
Another around her buttocks.
And one more photo of her breasts.
"Oh, Master's strong gaze is...... so exciting ♡"
"No no no no, show me a bolder face."
"What do you mean, like this?"
"What are you two doing? We have to get ready to leave, otherwise Ultina will be very angry with us."
We should have left town by now.
"Sorry to keep you waiting."
"I just arrived too."
I met Ultina at the entrance to the city, she had a pillow and an eye mask on her forehead.
It was as if she was about to go to bed.
She turned her attention to Panda.
"By the way, can you sleep on that fluffy thing while it floats?"
"Uhm, I guess..."
"I've always wanted to sleep on something like that, just once. If you want, I can pay you to let me sleep in it."
"You want to do what with Panda?"
"Just for a little while..."
She pounced on Panda and stretched out.
"Fufufufu, what a fluffy thing."
"He says not to use him as a bed."
"It's alright. This little guy could be a dark elf killer."
What could she mean by that?
Still, Panda seemed to have liked hearing that. His eye sparkled with intensity.
"So, you're leaving town as well?"
"I've finished what I wanted to do here, and I find myself interested to see how strong you are. So I want to hire you for one more job."
"That's very kind of you."
"And I'd like to ask you some questions regarding your abilities."
"What did you want to ask- Hey... Don't fall asleep..."
Suddenly, Ultina had dozed off.
We walked along a steep cliff.
There was a large city below us.
The city was said to be called "Port of the Dark Passage".
Since it was located in the suburbs, we could see the dark elves living here too.
"Oh Panda, you are the best beast ever."
"Get away, Panda is Frau's!"
"I wish you were my summoned beast."
Frau struggles to pull Panda away from Ultina.
Panda, who is in the center, looks happy.
But in reality, Panda is my Beast, he doesn't belong to Frau.
Kaede smiled as she walked beside me.
"I see you're in a good mood,"
"Yes! I'm happy to be with my master!"
"How beautiful you are."
"By the way, Master, I wanted to ask you something..."
Kaede, looking embarrassed and uneasy, looks at my left hand.
Is something wrong with my left hand?
"Could I... Take your hand?"
"My hand? Sure, that's fine."
I grabbed her small, slender hand.
At that moment, a memory of when Kaede was little came to me and I took her hand.
Now she is a grown woman.
I wondered how she felt.
"Ma-Ma... Master... Master is holding my hand."
Kaede's face turns bright red and she faints.
How did this even happen!?
I just held her hand!
A scream echoed behind me and I turned around to survey the scene.
Frau and Panda were fine, but... That voice was from.... Ultina!
Frau, who looked confused, pointed at the cliff.
"Frau didn't do anything! She fell off by herself."
"Ultina, did you slip? Are you okay?!"
A sobbing voice could be heard from the bottom of the cliff.
"According to a famous fortune teller, my feet have extremely bad luck."
"I see, that's why you always fall down. Is that the reason for your nickname, 'The Fallen Princess'?"
"Yes, it's very unpleasant."
Ultina's level is 380.
Even if she fell off a 50-foot cliff, she wouldn't have scratch on her.
On the other hand, the mental damage seems to be huge.
"Ultina-San, cheer up, here you go."
After taking the canteen, Ultina opened the cap and drank the water.
We are currently sitting on the edge of the fountain just after entering the city.
It seems to be a bustling city, with two or three times the population of the city we were in a while ago.
Occasionally you can see a human or beastkin with a collar.
Apparently, the humans in this place don't get much respect.
On the other hand, I can also see humans walking freely, so they are treated better here than in Petardaus.
Someone called out to her from somewhere we couldn't see, so she hurriedly looked around.
A middle-aged man was standing some distance away.
Perhaps he was a knight, as he wore an ornate armor, his blue cloak billowing in the wind.
He had a thin one-handed sword cinched around his waist and was pointing at us with a razor-sharp gaze.
He didn't appear to be a low ranked knight.
Ultina quickly stood up and knelt in front of him.
"It's been a long time, my lord."
"It's good to see you in good health. You've finally decided to accept my request."
She was at a loss for words, but the man responded with a nod.
"Careful preparation is necessary. I'll leave the timing of the challenge in your hands."
The man turned and walked away from the spot.
Ultina stood up and looked back with a bitter smile. Apparently he wasn't just an adventurer.
"Toru, do you remember what I said a while ago?"
"Hmm? You wanted me to do something for you?"
"Yes. If you help me, I'll pay you back handsomely."
So it's a personal request.
I'll have to ask Kaede and Frau if they'll accept it.
In the meantime, I made eye contact with Kaede and Frau, but their response was, 'We will do as you command'.
"In this city, there is an underground ruin called the 'Dark Passage'. It is a dark space that absorbs any light and cannot be fully mapped. I have to find out where the ruins lead to."
Ruins that absorb light?