Chapter 22: The fat aristocrat gets a new friend

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Grace had informed Mitrof of the location of the inn where she was staying, but Mitrof had no reason to visit her and didn’t think it was appropriate for him to drop by casually. He would not have gone there himself unless there was a compelling reason.

However, at this moment, he had a reason that could be considered very compelling.

The inn, called the Silver Deer Inn, was old and gloomy despite its name. The first floor housed the reception desk and dining hall, which apparently also served as a bar at night. The backs of people drinking in the dim light could be seen, but there was no joyful chatter to be heard.

Mitrof asked the old woman who was paddling a boat (?) while sitting at the reception desk to call Grace for him.

When Grace came down the stairs, she was, of course, wearing casual clothing that was loose-fitting. Her hair, which was usually tied up in a labyrinth, was also loosely flowing, and the ends were tied up in a single ponytail.

In the labyrinth, she was a hunter with a strikingly brave appearance. But in the inn, the impression of her as a beautiful young girl was much stronger, and Mitrof had to make an effort to disguise his admiration for her.

“What’s wrong, Mitrof?—Did something happen?”

“Well, there’s someone who wants to become a porter—I couldn’t make a decision alone, so I brought her here.”

“Hmm, she wants to join our party?”

Her tangled hair cast delicate shadows as she tilted her head, and the lantern light illuminated her thin, white neck. Her deep blue eyes captured the small figure of Canule in a black coat standing behind Mitrof.

“Nice to meet you—my name is Canule—Mitrof-san here saved my life, and that’s how we became acquainted—I was hoping to ask for your help.”

“Well, fine—let’s talk about it in more detail over there.”

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Led by the presumptuous Grace, the three of them gathered around a table in a corner of the dining room.

Mitrof explained about the recent encounter, although he didn’t have much to say as he had come here without knowing the details.

However, Grace seemed to have a good idea just from Mitrof’s explanation.

“…Are you a branded child?”


Canule nodded and searched for the surrounding glances. After confirming that nobody was paying attention to them, she lifted her hood slightly. There was an unmistakable skull, with only a cavity in the eye socket.

“…I’ve heard that curses from relics come in various forms, but it’s hard to say.”

“I think just having survived was lucky enough.”

While listening to their conversation, Mitrof snorted through his nose.

The labyrinth has many relics. However, occasionally relics that have been cursed or retained magical influences from previous eras are found. Those affected by it are called the “branded children.”

In fairy tales, those who have been cursed sometimes exhibit abilities equivalent to those of non-human existences, but often they die or lose something from their bodies. This is because they almost always explode like a magic bomb.

Given this reality, Canule’s situation, where her appearance is just a skeleton, seems to be unique.

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“So, you want to become a porter to dive into the labyrinth?”

“Yes. I thought there might be a clue to lifting the curse somewhere in the labyrinth. Besides, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be approved as an adventurer in this state…”

“As for the porter, there is no guild assessment, which is left to the discretion of the party—it might be a good idea.”

“Hmm,” Grace said, crossing her arms.

“It would certainly be helpful to have a porter; however, in reality, we cannot afford to hire anyone with our current income; we have only just reached the fourth floor of the dungeon.”

“Payment is more of a formality—since turning like this, I no longer need to eat or drink,” Canule calmly stated, shocking Mitrof with her confession.

“Not needing to eat or drink?!—It’s like losing the joy of life!”


At Mitrof’s loud voice, Canule jumped in surprise.

“I’m sorry. I got a little too excited.”

“How obsessed are you with eating?”

“Don’t praise me like that—I’ve been living frugally lately, so my emotions have been running high.”

“I’m just astonished.”

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Anyway, Grace and Canule gaze at one another.

“You can delve into the labyrinth and search for clues to recover your form; we can increase our safety and rewards by hiring a porter; it might not be a bad deal; what do you think, Mitrof?”

“I agree—it’s not easy to find someone to join our party, so this is a great opportunity.”

“Then it’s decided—come back here tomorrow morning around the time of two bells.”

While Grace speaks, Canule remains silent.

“Is something the matter?”

“No, it’s nothing—I just didn’t expect to be accepted so easily… Do you two not feel any aversion toward the branded?”

“Come to think of it, you were chased after being called monsters.”

“When I bumped into someone in the crowd, my hood slipped off and my face was exposed—but I think that’s a normal reaction,” Canule lowered their head sadly.

“Certainly, there may be such prejudices among those who live in the city—If you don’t know about relics, you won’t be able to understand the difference between a curse and a monster.”

Grace nodded.

“I have been a hunter all my life, but I was brought up with the common sense of an adventurer—there is no reason to make a fuss over branded children—unless, of course, you’re a vicious person who’s plotting against us, that’s a different story, isn’t it?”

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“Not at all!”

Canule shook her hands vigorously. The movement expressed her emotions as if they were her own and even conveyed a sense of innocence.

Grace smiled wryly, thinking that it was quite an impossible hypothesis, despite saying it herself.

“I know. Mitrof, you weren’t concerned about Canule’s appearance from the beginning, were you?”

“The appearance is certainly unique, but trolls and fangs are scarier,” replied Mitrof.

“Indeed, compared to a troll, there may be nothing to fear.”

The two nodded at each other.

For adventurers, it was important to consider the level of danger posed by a monster rather than getting excited about whether it was a monster or not. Compared to a troll, Canule was nothing more than a young girl.

Looking at Canule’s skeletal head, only citizens would get excited about whether she was a monster or not. Underneath the thick cloth, there was a cold, hard feeling of bones. It made Canule feel as if she was no longer human and had become a monster.

She had become accustomed to being avoided by people, being called a monster, and being pursued by them.

Canule experienced an internal welling up as a result of these two, whom she had just met, accepting her calmly. It was a strange feeling of wanting to cry, not because of pain or sadness, but because of warmth and joy.

“——Thank you very much. I will do my best.”

Canule bowed so deeply that her forehead touched the table.

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