After meeting with Lowen and Reaper on the thirtieth floor, together we return to the office in 『Epic Seeker’s』 headquarters through 《Connection》.
Sure enough, Snow is dozing off by the window. The fact that she’s in her usual traditional clothing must mean that her business with the Sidrik house ended.
Once Snow notices us, she rubs her drowsy eyes and looks over.
「…… We, welcome backー ?」
Snow attached a question to the end of her words as she looked behind me.
I bring Lowen forward and introduce him.
「Umm, this is the thirtieth floor’s Guardian Lowen」
「Nice to meet you. I’m Lowen. Just as you’ve heard I am a labyrinth monster, so there’s no need for honorifics」
Lowen places his hand on his chest and makes an exaggerated bow.
Snow also bows on reflex.
「…… He, hello. I’m Snow. Ni, nice to meet you. …… Eh? But, umm, huh?」
It looks like she can’t accept the situation.
Of course that’s how it’d go. Guardian’s are a feared existence among searchers, and now a person naming himself a Guardian has suddenly appeared before her, anyone would panic in that situation.
「To put it simply, he’s not a bad person so I brought him back from the thirtieth floor」
For the time being, I assure her that there’s no danger.
The most important thing right now is to make her understand it’s safe.
「…… U, uwaa」
Snow gives me a look, it’s like she just witnessed something unbelievable.
「Since it looks like Lowen will die if he attains great success as a knight, I thought of cooperating with him. Apparently a Guardian will disappear if they don’t have any regrets. It’s a much safer method than fighting」
In response, I give a fitting reason for having brought Lowen.
「……Eh, you believe that?」
「I believe it. I decided that I can believe in it. ―― I’m planning on having Lowen stay at 『Epic Seeker』 as a guest, so please look after him」
And so, I tell Snow one of the arrangements of our trade.
A way to have Lowen strength by putting him here. After hearing Lowen’s wish, I talked about that pair that’s been troubling me and he volunteered to be my guard.
I finish telling Snow what is needed, and then I check how it is outside. The sun is setting, it won’t be long before it’s dark.
「Also I’m possessed by 『Reaper』 so there are a lot of things I have to look up. I’m gonna make a quick trip to the institution before it closes. Wait here with Lowen」
If I’m correct, there should be a place among the public institutions to borrow books. But it’s possible that they won’t be open once it becomes dark. In a hurry, I jump out of the office window.
「Eh, Re, 『Reaper』? What, what happened in the labyrinth?」
「Fumu, I’ll explain that. We have time while we wait」
In response to Snow seeking an explanation, Lowen answers in my place.
「…… Eh, ah, yes」
Snow became docile in front of the Guardian who politely offered to give an explanation. After confirming that with 《Dimension》, I head out into the town of Lauravia.
With the library as my target, I run at full speed.
「What is this! Amazing! Are these all books!? Onii-chan!」
Reaper has been quiet ever since we left the thirtieth floor, but she became lively the moment we entered the library. It looks like this is her first time seeing so many books together. And unable to contain her excitement, she left my body.
By the way, Reaper is no longer completely nude. As long as there’s a supply of magic power, it’s possible to make clothes. Right now she’s covered in a pitch black overcoat.
I hear the voice of the frolocking Reaper in a blind spot behind me so I quickly use 《Di Winter》to cut the magic power supply.
「――U, UaAh! Wh, why!?」
For the time being, I already told her to not float while outside of the labyrinth, so to others she must look like nothing but a noisy child. But even then, Reaper’s noisiness is still a problem.
I get closer to Reaper who has lost her substance and quietly speak to her.
「Be quiet in the library. Otherwise I’ll force you out」
「Library? Why, why do we have to be quiet in the library?」
Reaper followed my lead and answered in a quiet voice. Since she was able to guess the situation and lower her voice, it seems like she’s someone who can learn even if she doesn’t have common sense.
「Reaper, you don’t even know what a library is?」
「You shouldn’t expect much from me. Because, I don’t know anything other than killing Lowen」
She was somewhat boastful about it. It looks like she has pride in her mission to kill Lowen. However, on the other hand, it can also look like she’s bragging about a good older brother.
There’s no longer any doubt about those two getting along.
「…… You, how old are you?」
「Nn, a year didn’t pass?」
While letting out a sigh, I lead Reaper outside.
「Reaper. Right now I’m going to borrow books from the library. Until then, wait here」
「E, eeh!? I’m staying here!? Hey, tell me, tell me about the library!」
Reaper’s voice became loud as soon as we left the library.
Bringing her along in the library would make me nervous. Although she won’t raise her voice in the library, there are still other things that can happen.
「I’ll tell you about it later. I’m also borrowing these books for your sake. That’s why, obediently wait here. You are a good girl aren’t you」
「Good girl…… ? Un, I’m a good girl?」
Reaper calms down after considering the words 「Good girl」.
「…… Okay, I’ll wait」
She’s more obedient than I expected. Reaper sits at the end of the street and begins using her fingers to play with the sand on the ground. Normally, that’d look like nothing but killing time. However, it looks like Reaper finds even that entertaining. Maybe everything on the surface is something new to her.
Understanding that I now have some time, I rush into the library.
Once inside I call out to a librarian and ask for books on 『Fairy Tales』 and 『Curses』.
The 『Grim Rim Reaper’s』『Fairy Tale』, and the writings on 『Curses』 are quickly found. It looks like both of them are major topics and finding them is easy.
For the time being, I use 《Dimension Multiple》 to quickly read through the fairy tale.
Since this fairy tale was conveyed orally from ancient times, it may have been affected by many people. But of the fairy tales in this world, it seems like this one is the first one 『Grim Rim Reaper』 appeared in.
It’s not a story worth mentioning. One that warns to be careful in dark places, there are fairy tales like this in my world. There were a few dangerous expressions, but it wasn’t anything too strange.
In the end, the only thing I learned was that 『Grim Rim Reaper』 is a 『Death God that attacks when out of vision』. There were no weaknesses or solutions written.
With no other choice, I move onto the book on 『Curses』. It’s an old book covered in dust.
It’s written that long ago, many curse magics were used. However, after the person named Saint Taira laid the foundation of magic, they immediately became obsolete.
Unlike Saint Tiara’s magic, 『Curses』 require a price. Because of that, people naturally came to reject 『Curses』.
I only read a little but even then I was able to understand how bad using 『Curses』 was.
First, it requires not only MP but also HP, so it isn’t useful in live combat. There are also cases that using it can cause a bad condition, shorten one’s lifespan, or even cause an illness. Failing would result in the destruction of one’s body. And it’s also written that the curse itself can rebound.
If this explanation is correct, I’m 『Grim Rim Reaper’s』 practitioner, and Lowen is the target. In other words, not to mention Lowen, there’s also the possibility that 『Grim Rim Reaper』 will kill me.
I turn the page as I let out a sigh at having picked up something troublesome.
And then, I find a passage of the 『Reaper』 in the section on 『Curses』.
The 『Reaper’s』 『Curse』 was confirmed a thousand years ago. At the onset of a certain battle.
The way it opened alone causes me to have little expectations in its authenticity. Taking the level of civilization of this world into account, it isn’t likely that something from a thousand years ago was accurately recorded.
However, it’d be better to read it then to not, so I continue.
―― A thousand years ago, in the midst of a great war between humans and monsters, a 『Curse』 magic was confirmed. The 『Curse』 suddenly appeared in the heart of an advancing knight order, and many soldiers were killed. Even if pierced with a sword, even if hit with magic, that 『Curse』 did not die. And disappearing just like fog, it appears at the backs of others, many heads were harvested in that way. It truly is, a 『Reaper』.
…… The end came with the simultaneous strike of a certain unnamed knight against the 『Reaper』.
There is only one method to destroy the 『Reaper』. To swing your sword and match the attack that comes from a blind spot.
Afterwards, the 『Curse』 of the 『Reaper』 never appeared again ―― is what’s written.
There’s not enough information in this book.
To begin with, it could be that this 『Reaper』 story is only a 『Local Legend』. Why was it decided that this 『Reaper』 is a 『Curse』. Why did the 『Reaper』 only appear once. Who is that 『Reaper’s』 practitioner. Many important points are missing.
Once I know that there’s nothing more to learn here, I get up.
Before I exit, I call the librarian and borrow a children’s book under 『Epic Seeker’s』 name.
Once I’m out I hear the voices of two girls enjoying themselves.
What I see is Reaper playing with an unfamiliar girl.
She plays with the girl by making a black fog appear and disappear.
「Uwaa, amazing. There’s a lot of black fluffy You really are a mage, Onee-chan!」
With sparkling eyes the girl gets closer to the black fog.
But Reaper notices me and erases the fog.
「Ah, my Onii-chan came……. Sorry, I can’t play any more……」
「Eehー, Onee-chan, let’s play more」
Unsatisfied, the girl approaches Reaper. And then, to stop her from leaving, the girl grabs at her hand, In surprise, Reaper avoids it.
「I, I’m really sorry. I can’t. Since that’s my rule. …… It’s already late, you should go home」
「…… Un, okay」
The girl accepts it once she sees how Reaper is acting.
And so, the two wave their hands and say their goodbyes.
After confirming that the girl is no longer in view, I speak to Reaper.
「Without the 『Practitioner that is me』 and the 『Target that is Lowen』, you’re like a normal girl, Reaper. Sorry, it looks like I interrupted」
「Uun. That’s not it」
Reaper gently shakes her head, and then I say what I’m thinking.
「So you can easily communicate with kids like that. It’s surprising」
「Aah, about you playing together」
「Playing together? But I play with Lowen?」
「No, that’s different. That’s not playing」
「You might be having fun, but Lowen isn’t. Playing is when both sides are having fun」
Reaper listened to what I said and nodded her head.
That was unexpected. Maybe it’s because our first meeting was bad, but I didn’t think she was someone who’d understand things, but it seems like that was my misunderstanding.
「…… You’re more obedient than I expected」
「Why is that. For some reason, Onii-chan’s words are really easy to understand. And it’s hard to understand a thing of what Lowen is saying」
「No, I’m pretty sure that Lowen talks like a normal person……」
「For some reason, Onii-chan’s words sink into me. Maybe it’s because you have the same magic power as that person. It really, reverberates in my heart」
「Same magic power……. I see…… That may be so……」
The reason she can understand my words and not Lowen’s. It may be the way Reaper was made.
If it’s that she can listen to the words of the practitioner but not the target, then it’d make sense. After all, it is an attack magic with a will so adding something like that wouldn’t be strange.
―― But, that’s something extremely unpleasant.
A surprising amount of anger rises up in me, and before I knew it, blood flowed down from my gripped fist.
「What wrong, Onii-chan?」
「No, it’s nothing……」
I put my bloody fist to my back and force a smile.
In order to distract Reaper, I begin searching for an appropriate topic in my head.
「…… Now that I think about it, why do you call me Onii-chan? Didn’t you hear me introduce myself? I’m called Aikawa Kanami」
「Nnn, why is that. I feel like Onii-chan is Onii-chan. Am I not allowed to say it?」
「No, it’s fine……」
There’s no reason to refuse. Reaper is at a fitting age to call me Onii-chan, and I’m at a fitting age to be called Onii-chan. There shouldn’t be a problem.
「Then, let’s go back. I borrowed a picture book, you can even have Lowen read it」
「Picture book!? That picture bookー! Thank you! Ah, but make sure to tell me about the library. I won’t be tricked!」
Leading Reaper by the hand, I return to 『Epic Seeker』.
「Yes yes, I’ll explain it on the way」
「Fufuu, there’s lots of interesting things in this world. I’m having fun」
We talk as we walk back on the dark road.
If looking from a distance, we’d probably look like siblings.
Although I feel some unease, I also feel some comfort.
I feel like I returned to the past, and it’s only a little, but my mood has gotten better…….
When Reaper and I return to the office, we’re met with the energetic voice of Lowen.
「Kanami, I heard something good from Snow!」
「There’ll soon be a tournament to compete for strength in this country. If I enter and win, then my wish should surely be granted. And also, it doesn’t look like it’d cause any trouble for you」
「Now that you mention it, there was something like that……. If I remember, the 『Fighting Tournament』? Certainly, it is a good opportunity. It perfectly fits Lowen’s wish」
「Aah, then, let’s hurry and register!」
「No, no no. It’s already late. Let’s do it tomorrow」
I chide Lowen for wanting to go out right now.
「Mu, it’s night? True……, then there’s no helping it……」
Lowen stops moving in regret.
After confirming that he’s calmed down, I call out to the tired looking Snow.
「Hmm? Snow, are you tired……?」
「…… U, un. There were a lot of questions」
「Thanks for the hard work. But do you at least have an idea of how Lowen is now?」
「He certainly doesn’t look like a bad person. But there’s no guarantee that a bad person would look like a bad person」
「That’s too twisted」
「And what Kanami thinks is a bad person, and what I think is a bad person, they’re definitely different」
「Well of course they are. Hey, do you really dislike the idea of welcoming Lowen that much?」
「…… No, he’s not a problem. But, I’m worried about something else」
「It’s fine. Not a problem. But, I’m tired. Anyways, I’m tired. I’m going back」
While swaying, Snow leaves through the window.
Recently, I feel like the office’s window has become an entrance…….
After seeing Snow leave, I talk to Lowen and Reaper.
「Well then, we should also go to bed……. For the time being, let’s go to my little sister’s room」
「…… Wait, Kanami. It can’t be, do you plan to let us stay in your sister’s room?」
「Eh, is that bad?」
「Of course it is. Kanami, you don’t have to worry about us. It doesn‘t matter where we sleep since we aren’t humans」
「Doesn’t matter……. What do you mean?」
「This works out……. I’ll show you something monstrous……」
Together with that line, Lowen shows me both his hands.
And then, with a sound as if stones are hitting each other, both his arms turn to crystal.
「You turned to crystal……?」
「I am mixed with stone type monsters. Something like this is easy」
「Since I can become a stone statue, I can sleep anywhere even while standing. It also helps since this lets me rest without needing to be cautious of the surroundings. It’d should even work as a charm against monsters」
「Eh, you can rest like that…… ?」
「It’s more than enough. To begin with, monsters don’t have to sleep as much as humans. Also, I am serving as your guard. Allow me to have this much」
I stare into Lowen’s eyes to verify if it’s true.
At least, from what I can see it doesn’t seem to be a lie.
「Okay. If you’re fine with it. But what about Reaper?」
「Can’t she just sleep while floating in the air. She probably can」
「No, that’d be bad……」
It’s enough having a statue of a man appear in the night. I don’t want any more phenomenons occurring in 『Epic Seeker』. I can still make some sort of excuse for a stone statue, but there won’t be any excuse for a girl floating in the air.
「No, I don’t want to! I finally have a chance to sleep on a bed!」
Of course Reaper objects.
「Reaper, we’re free loaders. Have some more modesty. And use that modesty to sleep in the air」
「No, I’d be in trouble if she sleeps in the air…..」
I cut into Lowen’s words.
「It’s fine, I’ll sleep together with Onii-chan!」
「For now I’ll have Reaper come to my little sister’s room. I can’t have a girl like Reaper sleeping in the open」
「As expected of Onii-chan!!」
I beckon Reaper over. Lowen watches that in a terribly surprised state.
Lowen’s expression immediately returns, and shrugging his shoulders, he walks in the opposite direction.
「I see…… Then, I’ll be outside. Reaper, make sure you listen」
Lowen gives a warning to Reaper, and with quick movements he leaves through the window and moves to the roof.
There was no time to stop him. I didn’t think he’d leave through the window. However, if I think back to it, Snow and I also leave from the window. Could it be that Lowen saw that, and now he thinks that the window is an entrance.
In my heart, I decide to fix that misunderstanding tomorrow, and with Reaper in tow, I move to Maria’s room.
As I’m chiding the restless Reaper we arrive at Maria’s room.
After a knock, we enter.
Inside of the room is Maria sitting on top of the bed. Maria notices me and her face brightened up. However, that bright expression hardens once she senses Reaper behind me.
She can’t see it, but she could understand from the footsteps.
「Maria, I’m back」
「We, welcome back. Nii-san……」
Still maintaining her stiff expression, Maria returns the greeting. However, she kept her guard up against Reaper.
「Umm, this is a kid that 『Epic Seeker』 was entrusted with. Her name is Reaper. Get along with her」
「Re, Reaper? Just who is ――」
Without waiting for the end of Maria’s words, Reaper cuts in.
「Yay, it isn’t an adult! Ununn, you’ve got a nice little sister, Onii-chan!」
Reaper cheerfully approaches Maria.
It seems like she always wanted a partner close to her age.
However, the one with the problem was Maria. Her expression cramps.
「What is it, Maria?」
「Nii-san, what relationship do you have with that kid?」
「Eh, ummm, she was lost in the labyrinth so we took her in. Reaper received a large shock in the labyrinth, and it looks like her memories are in disorder, so it’d help if you treat her kindly……」
This excuse is something I decided with Lowen on the thirtieth floor.
By the way, Lowen is a wandering swordsman in training.
「Hee……. In other words, Nii-san picked up a weak girl, and you made her call you Onii-chan. That is, quite the splendid taste……」
「No, she just called me that on her own, I didn’t force her to say that…..」
For some reason, it feels like it suddenly became dangerous. Before I knew it, Maria’s expression came apart, and turned into a perfect smile. However, I sense a bottomless pressure from that smile, and I begin sweating.
「Didn’t force her? But, you aren’t stopping her are you? 」
「We, well, that’s true but……」
「In other words, you chose to let her call you Onii-chan. That’s a serious crime」
「Eh, I’m being accused!?」
The pressure Maria’s emitting strengthens.
This is bad. I don’t know why, but my instincts are ringing an alarm.
As I’m thinking as best as I could for way to escape this, Reaper innocently raises her voice.
「Mu, mumu, umm, Onee-chan? You shouldn’t bully Onii-chan too much?」
The rage that was building up inside of Maria disappears.
「O, Onee-chan? Do you mean me?」
「Un, since I’m smaller. So I thought I should call Onee-chan 『Onee-chan』, is it no good?」
The moment Maria hears Onee-chan, her face loosens.
「I, I don’t mind. You can call me whatever you like……」
「Yay! Thank you, Onee-chan!」
Together with her thanks she hugs Maria, and Maria’s expression hardens. More precisely, it looks like she’s making a pout in order to stop her cheeks from loosening .
I’ve had 《Dimension Gladiate》 active so there’s no doubt. Right now, Maria is desperately trying to hide her emotions from Reaper.
「…… Eeh. Onee-chan is fine. However, stop calling Nii-san Onii-chan」
「Th, that’s…… ―― Because Nii-san already has a little sister in me, people will be confused if we both call him brother」
「No one will be confused! Because, it’ll be okay if I’m Onee-chan’s little sister. And then, Onee-chan’s Onii-chan will be my Onii-chan!」
「My little sister――!?」
I undo 《Dimension Gladiate》.
At this point, I can just leave the rest to Reaper.
When Reaper’s involved with Lowen she becomes a mad Reaper, but outside of that she acts like a pure girl. Rather than me giving some lousy excuse, entrusting it to Reaper is better.
「Hey, Onee-chan! Can I also get on the bed? It’s my first time on a bed!」
「Eh, eh? The bed……? I don’t mind that much……」
「Hihihi, thank youー」
Reaper gets onto the bed and spreads open the borrowed picture book.
It’s then that Maria’s cheeks dye red.
Maria’s weak to little sisters…… !
She’s often in the position of youngest, and since her appearance looks younger than her age, it’s easy to confuse her for a child. With such situations accumulating inside of her, having been called Onee-chan made her very happy.
「Nn, what’s that…… ?」
「A picture book. Onii-chan borrowed it at the library」
「A picture book is it. It’s useless for me because of my artificial eyes.」
「Eyes……? Then, I will read it!」
And so, through the flow of events Maria begins taking care of Reaper.
After making sure of that, I borrow a blanket and sit at a corner of the room.
Leaving the two alone shouldn’t be a problem.
「―― Ah, Nii-san, I’ll talk with you later」
However, the moment I closed my eyes, I heard Maria’s cold voice. In a cold sweat, I couldn’t do anything but nod.
I thought I managed to deceive her with Reaper, but that was just an illusion.
However, Reaper somehow managed to make her way in. Tonight I’ll be able to sleep in peace.
With Maria and Reapers cheerful voices as a lullaby, I depart into the world of dreams.