Splash splash splash splash
As we kept running, the water under our feet splashed.
We ran down the dimly lit passageway, out of breath.
"Where's the exit? I don't want to keep doing this☆ Why do I have to run around in this kind of place?"
"Shut up! If you wanna complain, complain to them. I don't want to stay here either!"
"....Both of you calm down."
We flanked through the thick, high walls of this huge underground labyrinth.
I managed to escape from the Red Mouse family and was searching for the demon tribe, but in doing so, I entered the territory of some dangerous people.
They were the eleven monkeys.
They are the most dangerous family in the ruins.
"Don't worry, we won't hurt you, just come here!"
"Huhuhu! Come now, we just want to play with you!"
Even those guys are still chasing us. They were all very dangerous. They had sharp weapons and red and black sickles in their hands.
Fear starts to take hold of me.
We only faced them once, but we couldn't defeat them because they had slightly higher levels than us.
Besides, they were so good at irregular attacks that they almost killed us.
What the heck is this place?
"Are they gone?"
"Looks like it☆"
I peeked out from the back of the hallway from the wall to make sure no one was following us.
We were finally able to get away from those creepy beasts.
It was a very bad idea to come here.
Also, I've had a string of bad luck lately.
It all started ever since I met the Manyu Brigade.
They're like the god of pestilence.
If I had defeated the evil dragon, I would be living like a king in the capital by now. I never wanted this. I just wanted to live in luxury and be someone who was worshipped.
Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn!
I feel like I'm going crazy just thinking about it.
"Cheer up, Zig☆ you're the hero after all☆"
"Shut up, I've had enough of your good mood! I'm not interested in you, you're only here because I can use you!"
I slapped Celtina's hand hard.
I just saved her once in the past and she's wanted to follow me ever since.
I never asked her to come with me, I never asked her to be here. She is here because she wants to be here.
If I allow her to always touch me and cuddle with me, then she'll try to monopolize me like some kind of mistress.
It's too annoying. She needs to learn her place.
"I'm sorry... Zig☆"
She's not as good as Monica, but she's still a good woman.
I was annoyed with myself for getting worked up and saying something unnecessary.
"...So what are we going to do now?"
"For now, let's forget about the demons. What's more important now is finding a way to get back to the surface."
We don't have a map, we don't know where we are and we don't even remember exactly where we came from.
I hate to admit it, but we were lost.
Fortunately, we have plenty of food and water, so we should be able to make it.
With that, I started walking.
"Zig, where are you going?☆"
"To find the stairs."
I need to get back to the surface as soon as possible.
I'm not going to let a Manyu Brigade defeat Rudra.
This journey, my glorious future depends on it.
A creepy face peered around a corner of the walls.
How long will this nightmare go on!!!!???
We frantically started running again, trying to escape death.
I don't know how many days have passed.
But finally we could bask in the sunlight.
"'Yeeeesssss! We're out!"
"I'm so happy!☆ I never imagined I would be so happy to see the sun again!☆"
The sun is at its highest point
I rubbed my cheek on the ground without being seen.
"Mom~, that weird guy is rubbing his face on the ground~"
"Don't look at me, just get the hell out of here."
"B-But... You're putting your face in horse poop～"
When I looked at the ground, there was dried poop stuck to the cobblestones.
A fierce nausea began to overtake me.
"Gross☆ Get away from me☆"
"...Go wash your face over there."
Aide tapped me on the shoulder and pointed nearby.
"I don't want to go underground for a while."
As I sit on the bench, eating some baked goods, I think about the events of the past.
After being chased by the Eleven Monkeys, we had completely lost our way back to the surface and were wandering around.
We finally found a stairway leading to the top, but they found us again, and we started a game of chase while climbing the stairs!
Still, we managed to escape and climb to one of the upper floors and this time we ran into the Red Mouse family.
We kept desperately running through the trash strewn alleys and finally made it back to the surface.
"We couldn't fulfill the request☆"
"....It can't be helped. But at least we were still able to get some important items."
"Ugh, I don't care about relics. I thought I could make a name for myself and my country by doing this."
Because we went deep underground, we were able to get some valuable relics. I think it will be enough to continue funding our trip.
I wasn't able to get what I really wanted, though.
What's more discouraging is having to report this to the king. Since I've taken on the task, I am obligated to report to him even though we failed.
"Is that a silver scroll?☆"
Aide opened a silver scroll to check its contents.
Celtina is also looking at it from the side.
Come to think of it, it was one of the relics we picked up.
"....Can I keep this instead of my share of the reward?"
"It's something that will surely be useless to you."
I grabbed it and looked at the contents. It was an [Transformation] scroll.
[Transformation]: Anyone who uses this ability is free to transform into anything they wish. However, this ability is limited to humans only. It is also not possible to copy someone's stats, as it simply works as a way to change one's physical appearance.
It is a scroll often used by swindlers and thieves.
Why would Aide want something like this?
Besides, it's something that only works once.
"The truth is, my face was badly burned in the past, and I've developed a complex about it for a long time. With this scroll, that problem would be in the past."
"Do you want to get rid of your original face?"
"You don't know the pain I suffer daily from not being able to take off this helmet."
"Okay, do it, I won't judge you."
Aide was about to tell me a long story that I honestly didn't want to hear, so I handed the scroll back to him.
"You can have it. In return, you'll contribute more than ever to the party. okay?"
"Good for you, Aide☆"
Aide nodded and Celtina seemed a little happier.
The sound of laughter echoed throughout the place.
The King of Garbaran was laughing loudly in front of us.
"Buhahahahahaha, you're killing me with laughter!"
"It's not... My intention..."
He was flailing his legs and smacking the armrest.
The servants and knights around us were also laughing.
Damn it, how long is this going to go on?
My face was red with embarrassment, and I felt humiliated to be here.
I'm a complete laughing stock. I feel like a clown.
"I can't believe the criminal organizations down in the ruins have been chasing you for a whole month."
"I don't think it's funny."
"Well, I must admit that was a disaster, but you don't have to worry about the demons anymore. The Red Mouse family you claimed to have chased after you took care of everything.
"They took care of it?!"
But they were supposed to be allied with the demon tribe. I saw them scheming with my own eyes.
That's why we were almost killed by that tiger man.
This is ridiculous.
Then why was he frantically chasing me back and forth?!
He made me look like a clown in front of the king! That bastard!
"Your Majesty, regarding your participation in the large-scale operation..."
"Oh, you still haven't heard?"
The king raises an eyebrow as he picks at his nose with his little finger
"One of Rudra's bases was destroyed by a group of adventurers called the Manyu Brigade. I heard that they're a very talented bunch. They can sing, dance, and they even killed two demon generals in the blink of an eye. It's a pity we couldn't make them heroes of our country."
I froze when I heard their names.
It is heartbreaking that after crawling underground for a month, I end up learning of their exploits as I just did.
I am a noble and proud elven hero. I cannot be inferior to a mere human.
Something is wrong. They must be cheating.
"If it's Rudra you seek, head west. Rumor has it that he has taken over a country and is amassing his army for the next attack.
"You turned out to be a great disappointment, but you are still a hero after all. And a hero's duty is to finish off the Demon King. Go and fulfill your destiny."
The king clapped his hands and a woman came up and handed me a bulging leather pouch."
"It's a hundred gold coins. Take it."
"Thank you for your generosity."
He's clearly doing it out of compassion, not respect.
My eyes filled with tears.
"Are you crying!?"
"Don't look at me..."
“Look everyone, the elf hero is crying! Buahahahaha!”
I grabbed the leather bag and ran out of the palace.
Manyu Brigade, I'm going to kill you all!!!