Chapter 21: Fat aristocrat meets bone girl
From the public bath, Mitrof walked for a while to the cheap inn he was staying in. The inn was located in a dilapidated area near the edge of the city, while the public bath was in the center of the city. When Mitrof returned, he had to cross the main street.
The night had already fallen over the city. The main street was filled with a different kind of liveliness than during the day. The bars and cafes, closed during the day, were now lit up, and tables and chairs were spread out onto the sidewalks. Most of them were occupied by people holding glasses of alcohol.
Mitrof, who had passed the age of 15, was legally allowed to drink, but he didn’t yet understand the pleasure of drinking alcohol. He drank wine regularly with his meals, but it was like a substitute for water, rather than something to enjoy getting drunk on.
Looking at the drinks on the tables of those drinking in the bar, it seemed that recently, the popular drinks were strong, distilled liquor and black beer. Mitrof couldn’t find anyone drinking wine.
Mitrof was still not used to the crowds of people passing by. He almost collided with some, and his shoulders were bumped as he was passed.
Tired of the constant crowds, Mitrof turned off the main road. The cobblestone path was now downhill. Although there were few streetlights and it was dimly lit, he was used to the bottomless darkness of the labyrinth, so it didn’t seem like the night sky with stars and moon was bad for visibility.
He leaned against a wall a little further along the way and took a breath.
As if everyone on the main street had gathered, no one was seen on the side streets. The calmness was soothing.
This city was always noisy.
There was always someone on the street. Even when he returned to the inn, someone was always moving around, coming and going, making noise, and shouting.
Mitrof did not know that the city was so noisy.
In the noble district, there was only silence. It was impossible to tell whether anyone was there or not. Even at parties, everyone was talking in whispers, just enough to hear the music played by the orchestra. Even the sound of dishes clattering against each other was enough to make the people clamor.
In just one month, Mitrof’s life had completely changed. It was still difficult to adapt to everything—the food, the clothes, the city, the people, and even the labyrinth.
Here he is, shaken in every way possible.
Suddenly, a voice was heard. It was from the main street. Someone was shouting.
Mitrof leaned out from the side road. At that moment, a small black figure slipped quickly into the side street.
The figure was so swift that it collided with Mitrof’s unexpectedly large frame as the figure stuck out his face, causing him to lose his balance and tumble into the pathway still in motion.
“Sorry, are you okay…?”
Mitrof, as a noble, offered his hand to the fallen figure, but was astonished when he saw who it was.
The small body was covered in a black cloak, right down to the feet. Due to the fall, only the hood that had covered the head had been thrown off.
The skull of a human was visible inside.
“There was a monster! A monster was here!”
A voice was heard from behind.
Mitrof instinctively reached for his sword hilt.
“N-No! I’m not a monster!”
The skull rattled its jaw, making a sound like ringing a bell as a girlish voice spoke.
“A monster that manipulates human hearts!”
“I’m not manipulating anyone! I’m a human!”
“You look like nothing but bone!”
“I’m a human who turned into bones! I’m not a monster! There are circumstances, um… it’s a misunderstanding…!”
The figure was frantically explaining, gesturing with his hands.
The old Mitrof wouldn’t have believed such a thing. There was no such thing as a human with only a skull, and its appearance was clearly that of a monster. Such a dangerous existence must not be left alone.
However, the current Mitrof is an adventurer. He dived into the labyrinth, saw and fought against real monsters.
He did not feel the strong hostility from those monsters and the unpleasant air that made the back of his neck tingle when he saw this figure.
Hasty footsteps approached.
Mitrof reflexively turned around and went out of the corridor.
“Whoa! Hey, kid! A black-cloaked monster came this way!”
“…Oh, it ran in that direction.”
“It infiltrated the city! Be careful!”
Several men ran together, their eyes bloodshot and foam at the corners of their mouths. What would happen if they caught up to him?
When he faced those men, the back of his neck tingled.
After confirming that there were no more pursuers, Mitrof returned to the passageway.
He thought the girl would have already left, but she was waiting obediently.
“…Why are you sitting like that?”
“I just wanted to thank you… for saving me. I owe you my life.”
She straightened her black leather gloves and bowed her head. Her face was covered in a hood, and now she looked small and delicate.
“No, it’s okay.”
He wondered why he had protected her, even though she was a suspicious and unknown skeletal person. There was no benefit to protecting her. It seemed as though his body had moved on instinct or some sort of primal urge rather than rational thought.
The girl sat on the cobblestone, looking up at Mitrof without moving. Her skull face was not visible due to the darkness under the hood.
“Excuse me, are you an adventurer?”
“Yeah, so what?”
“In that case, I have a request.”
The girl lowered her head deeply as she spoke.
“Could you take me to the labyrinth as a porter, please?”
“…It’s going to be a hassle.”
Mitrof’s shoulders slumped.