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Chapter 1: Let's Tame the Restive Horse-Girl, Part 2
「 Hmm, as I thought, it's no good.」
Separating himself from Lilu, Aur was walking around the labyrinth.
The walls were damaged in a few places so he had to fix them with the materials at hand, but other than that, there was no serious damage done to the place.
「 But their ability to absorb magic is beyond what I antic.i.p.ated.」
This just goes to show how lively and rich in magic this place was. There was not that much magical power stored in
the Dungeon Seed beforehand, and yet not only didn't its supply ran out, but it managed to absorb so much more of it.
「 It seems like we have quite a restive horse in here.」
The roots of the trees were coming through the roof and the walls like spears. Some of them were so long and twisted as if they were reaching towards Aur's body.
「 Its signal seems to be coming from somewhere around here.」
If it was a dungeon made by Aur himself, there would be no need for something as trivial as finding the core. But this was a dungeon made automatically by the Dungeon Seed. Its purpose was to prioritize defense with minimum magical energy cost, but so far, there wasn't any traps on any of the corridors that he pa.s.sed through. He'll have to install some later.
The path ahead of him was complicated, but he didn't even bothered to draw a map of the place. Pretty much every adventurer with a good sense of direction could make a map, but in Aur's case, there was no need for that. He was the Dungeon Master, so it would be unthinkable for him to get lost in his own creation. Besides, he was taking the shortest route possible.
The labyrinth was created at the edge of the forest, and was spreading towards its center, swallowing it along the way, so maybe the Dungeon Seed was also at the forest's center, Aur thought.
And then he heard the sound of footsteps.
「 So you're following me after all.」
He muttered silently.
As soon as they entered the labyrinth, he sensed some sort of presence within it.
It surely wasn't Lilu. He hadn't seen her since they parted ways sometime earlier.
He didn't want to believe it, but someone must've entered the dungeon before them. But that would mean that they've attracted someone's attention even before the dungeon was created.
If they managed to avoid detection, that must've mean that they had some skill at hiding their presence. But in this place concealing oneself from Aur's gaze was impossible.
Whether you're standing of moving, the vibrations and sounds can always be detected.
As he went around the corner, he took a small stone cube from his pocket. When he muttered a spell it changed it's form from solid to liquid. It spilled on the floor and crept on the walls, taking their appearance in the process. It was a contraption based on a mimic, a magical creature that could take whatever shape it wanted to hunt its prey. Now thanks to it, where there was a corridor earlier, was now a new wall.
Vibrations of the intruder's movements moved quickly as he turned into the hallway where Aur was just seconds ago, and then they stopped altogether. Because that pa.s.sage was now a dead end.
Next set of vibrations seemed to be puzzled, as if the intruder didn't know what to do.
And at the moment when he was about to return to the previous corridor, Aur filled his fingertip with magical power. And when he did that, countless serpents rushed from inside the box, straight at the intruder. He took a step back and swung his sword, aiming at the serpent's head. But that was just a decoy. Before he could react, parts of the stone wall that was actually a mimic came at the intruder, and enclosed him in a stone prison.
「 Now then…」
Capturing the enemy without any problems, Aur breathed a sigh of relief. Originally he wanted to make the wall a bit thicker to restrict the intruder's movements, but it seems it won't be necessary.
「 There are a lot of things that I want to hear from you, Mr. intruder…」
But then he stopped and made an extremely irritated expression as he put his hand on his face,fFacepalming. It wasn't because the intruder who was captured within the wall turned out to be a human girl, still too young to be actually called a young woman, oh no. The reason for his reaction was much simpler.
「 What in the h.e.l.l are you doing here, Mari?」
The intruder, who was now smiling apologetically while trying to set herself free was an all too familiar face.
「 So you were hiding in the s.h.i.+p this entire time?」
Said the restrained girl, while Aur touched his forehead, feeling the intense headache that was about to occur.
「 But why would you do such a…?」
「 Cause you wouldn't let me go with you, even when I said I wanted to!」
「 What else did you expect?」
「 See? That's what I'm talking about!」
Mari pouted her cheeks in a magnificent display of displeasure.
「 I'm not a child anymore, you know?」
Aur just sighted again and closed his eyes. Coming from her, in her current predicament, such words were utterly unconvincing.
But it was true that she was not a little kid anymore, or at the very least, she wasn't the same little girl who Aur met so long ago. In terms of fighting prowess and abilities, she was nearing Aur's and Lilu's level.
「 I want you to put a little more trust in me, Lord Aur. I can take care of myself.」
But Aur still didn't care about that.
「 I still don't believe you, you know?」
「 And I still think you're not taking proper care of yourself and those around you.」
As Mary shouted that, Aur finally understood.
Basically, Mari was being overprotective since she knew them since she was very young. And there was also a matter of them being s.e.xually acquainted.
However, it wasn't just because of that that Aur was hesitant to take her with them.
「 Eh, fine. I'll let you go with us, but on one condition: do you promise to always do what you're told and never, ever, under any circ.u.mstances leave my sight?」
「 Yes, and I'll be sure to protect both Lord Aur and Lilu!」
She declared while raising her hand.
That overly enthusiastic att.i.tude of hers was one of her greatest charms, but also her biggest flaw.
But that was the most efficient way of keeping an eye on her while protecting her from the dangers of this unknown land.
「 But if you ever break our promise, I'll send you right back home, are we clear?」
「 Yup! I'll protect you properly, you just wait and see!」
Aur sighted, exhausted by this whole conversation. It really might not be such a bad idea to keep her within arm's reach at all times.
「 Hey, Lord Aur?」
Now that he thought about it, she did called him by his name quite often.
「 When will you finally let me go?」
Aur manipulated the box, and the walls that Mari was caught in changed shape. Now she was bound in such a way that only her b.u.t.t was protruding out of it.
「 Wh-what's going on?!」
「 Nothing much, I just need to discipline some restive horse-girl first!」
Aur proclaimed haughtily as he recited the pimp's prayer in his mind and prepared his pimping hand to show Mari where her place was.