I drank the sweet, smooth sake in one gulp.
The honey sake specially brewed by the fairy tribe tasted even better than I expected.
"I didn't expect it to be so sweet."
"Yes. It feels good on the palate."
"Yes! This is the pride of the fairies! My lord, drink more! Drink until our cellar is empty - come on, come on!"
"I'm not going to drink that much, but thank you."
Amber-colored sake poured into a glass is also a visual treat in itself.
Nearby, the fairies were chatting and enjoying food and sake.
This is the largest tavern in the village.
On a nearby stage, the fairies performed a welcoming dance.
There are many rare dishes on the table.
A slightly spicy vegetable and veal soup, thin skins wrapped with ingredients and fried, and fried cakes drizzled with honey.
"This is the dish Frau likes. It's really good."
After chewing the cake, Kaede exhales happily: "Haaaaah."
That much? Ummm, I'm curious.
I'll try one.
"Hahaha, the Lord doesn't like sweets."
Frau looks me in the face and laughs.
It is ten times sweeter than I imagined.
It is still rich and sweet in my mouth.
"Toru-Sama, may I pour you a drink?"
"Oh, yes, please."
Frau's father, Papau, was giving me a drink.
He is much nicer now than when we first met.
He must feel very remorseful.
"What do you think of my daughter, Lord?"
"She is still a recent member of our party, so I can't give her a proper rating. But she's good at exploration and I'm sure I'll be able to count on her for battles once she levels up, so I have high hopes for her."
"Ooh-ooh! You have high hopes for Frau!"
"By the way... You, as a father, don't you feel angry that your daughter is my slave?"
I'm asking if I should release Frau from slavery.
Frau herself refused that proposal. Her father, however, might have a different idea.
If her father flatly refuses, we will properly discuss canceling the contract.
"What are you talking about!? We fairies are servants of the great race, and we only show our true worth to those we serve! You are free to use my daughter to satisfy your every desire!"
"Father, do not shame me before the Lord!"
Frau became angry at the same time as her face turned red.
This situation makes me a little uncomfortable.
I decided to go for a walk.
"I like to drink while looking at the stars."
The night sky is beautiful tonight.
And I have the most delicious honey wine in my hand.
I feel very satisfied.
Karde comes to my side.
"It looks like you're uncomfortable."
"Once again, you notice everything."
"I'm always watching you."
Kaede seems to have seen through me.
In fact, I was getting uncomfortable, but not necessarily because of the things the fairies were saying or doing.
"When I look at Frau's family, I remember my dead father and mother."
"...May I know why they died?"
"When I was fifteen, I left home in the morning. I don't remember exactly what I did that day, but when I came back, I found the two of them lying on the floor, dead, with their bodies bled out ... That's all I know."
Kaede was silent.
Everyone in town said it was a thief who killed them.
I thought so too.
My family was one of the wealthiest people in town, so that's probably why they were attacked.
I had no one else besides my parents, and from that day on I had to live alone.
Of course, even though I was alone, the townspeople took care of me in many ways.
We had fields and lots of cattle, so I managed to survive somehow.
"Lisa was so supportive that I decided to live for her, and I wanted to support her always."
"She's the woman who abandoned the Master?"
"Yes, but it doesn't matter now. She's happy with Sain now. I can't deny that it was a shock for me that she broke up with me like that... Maybe I wasn't good enough for her... Ugh..."
Tears spilled from my eyes and slid down my cheek.
Kaede hugged me without saying anything.
There is still a big hole in my heart.
The next day, we decided to investigate the golem we had defeated.
"The inside of the golem is a mess. It's like a living thing but fake."
The cross section of the golem cut in half is covered by a cord-like structure resembling blood vessels.
In addition, there are multiple mysterious spheres of various sizes, which are biological and really grotesque.
I have heard that the alchemists modeled their golems after the originals, but this way I can understand that it is only the front part that resembles the original.
Once again, the great race seems to have built an unimaginably advanced civilization.
"Where are the ruins this big boy was located in?"
"Frau will guide you. Follow me."
Frau, who was sitting on top of Panda, moves forward.
A few meters beyond the forest you can see the structures of some ruins.
All that remained of them were walls and a pile of rubble.
There are several golems moving about.
I see, so there are more of them that woke up.
"Kaede, assess the area and look for any artifacts that might be controlling them."
"My lord, what would you have Frau do?"
"Hmm... How about raising your level some more?"
"I was waiting for you to say that!"
Frau flew off and got lost in the forest.
Her current level is 45.
This forest is home to monsters with very high levels, so she should reach level 100 faster than expected.
I called Rosuke from the seal.
"Rosuke, go and support Frau."
Rosuke flew off at high speed behind Frau.
Well, let's go explore the ruins.
I will be very lucky if I find treasure. Although if we don't find any, it will still be a good experience to explore this place.
Well, the "Grand Thief" skill didn't detect anything, so it looks like there's no treasure.
"Master! Here's a door!"
When I ran to Kaede, I saw what looked like a square door on the floor.
There were multiple golems stacked on top of each other to hide it.
We pushed the golems aside and I opened the door.
The door opened effortlessly.
There were stairs leading down to the back of the place.
"What are we going to do?"
"We go down, of course."
I went down the stairs first, Kaede and Panda trailing behind.
Kaede created an orb of light and we carefully descended the stairs.
The walls are made of rock, which gives the impression that they were built in a hurry.
We reached the bottom of the stairs and stepped onto the ground.
From there, a long passage continued to the back.
"How far does it go?"
"There appears to be no sign of living creatures."
A blue light filtered in from down the hall.
We continued on and came upon an open space.
There, a large, complex magic circle glowed blue.
"Maybe this is..."
"Do you know what this is?"
"Maybe it's a magic transfer circle. I've seen something like it before."
I don't understand it at all.
The magic circle is full of unfamiliar letters and symbols, and though I try to recognize them, my mind refuses and my eyes slip.
I've always been bad at things related to magic, but seeing something like this makes me feel even worse.
"Why is this magic circle in operation? Normally it wouldn't work without magic power."
"I think it's in the magic vein. In other words, it's a big stream of magical power underground."
I had never heard of magic veins.
I think Lisa had explained it to me a long time ago....
Well, I've heard a lot of things related to magic, but I usually forget them soon after hearing them.
Anyway, I would like to know Kaede's conclusion.
"So, if I get on top of this thing, will it take me to the other end where the other magic circle is?"
"I don't know exactly. But considering that it is working, its counterpart, the other magic circle, must also be working. Maybe there is a possibility that it is as you say."
Destination and function unknown.
But it can be used.
It is a bad idea to use this magic circle.
But then again, my adventurous spirit begs me to do so.
Maybe it will take me to a place where there are tons of treasures.
Maybe it will take me to a place where no one has ever been.
But it may also lead me to a place that I might regret going to.
I started this journey because I wanted to explore the world and find new things.
"Wouldn't you like to see where this magic circle leads?"
"Hmm, I'll go wherever my master goes."
I have decided.
My next destination is the other end of this magic circle.