9

After moving away from the Dark Aid’s Mirror wordlessly, Zeff turned his face to the side and closed his eyes. If he turned around, he would expose a worse look on his face than Takuto’s, and he had no confidence he would be able spin any proper words.

Realizing that, others exchanged glances among each other and agreed on leaving Zeff be for the time being.

“Looks like it can be used without any problems.”

Mira said and looked at the mirror. The Dark Aid’s Mirror certainly did show the dead. It was proven thanks to Zeff.

“Then why is it?”

Emera asked, wondering why did it not respond to Takuto’s call.

Takuto’s parents did not appear in front of him. They were able to grasp this thanks to Lilika appearing in front of everyone. When Takuto did it, no one was reflected in the mirror.

“Maybe it’s because he tried calling both at once?”

Fricca hypothesized that the Dark Aid’s Mirro could only show one person at a time. That it did not show his parents because he called them both.

“That is possible.”

Asbar said and with his gaze he prompted Mira. Nodding to that, Mira gently made Takuto stand in front of the mirror again.

“Takuto, this time try calling either your mother or father, just one of them.”

Takuto nodded, and inside his head he put up the image of his mother.

“Mom, Mom Riine.”

With strong emotions in his voice, Takuto called his mother’s name.

…………

And yet, the Dark Aid’s Mirror still did not respond, so he continued after a short silence.

“Ashley...Dad…"

Once again, tears pooled inside Takuto’s eyes. But no matter how much he called out, they wouldn’t come to meet him. Surely, they don’t want to meet me - he thought, and as such feelings spread inside his chest, his feelings were dyed with sorrow.

“Ue...ueeehh…"

Even as his face turned crumpled with tears, he continued to cling to the sliver of hope and looked into the mirror.

However, his feelings were only answered with emptiness and as the time passed, his parents did not appear in the mirror.

“They ain’t coming out…"

Asbar spilled such words, and with that as the start, Takuto finally raised his voice and cried loudly. Timing-wise Asbar thought it was his fault and once again panicked.

While the large man was in panic not knowing what to do, Mira pulled Takuto to herself.

In her warmth, Takuto had started to calm down a little. Still, his flowing tears did not stop and he was in a state unable to say anything.

“Still, I wonder what does this mean.”

Emera walked around the mirror while staring at it. She wondered if she could find if there was some reason for that, but there was no traces of such thing.

“So trying one by one did not help, right.”

“And it doesn’t look broken, either.”

Fricca peeked inside the mirror and touched the surface. Asbar who recovered his calm had stared at the mirror together with Fricca and after confirming there wasn’t even a scratch on it, they made troubled expression.

Mira started to think what did this mean.

The Dark AId’s Mirror was an object that had an effect allowing people to meet with the dead. Now that the world turned into reality, it was proven that it worked regardless of the quest thanks to Lilika’s happening earlier.

Then why did Takuto’s parents not appear? Do they really not want to meet Takuto?

However, Mira rejected such possibility. There was no parent who would not want to meet their child who thinks of them so strongly.

In such case, why was it? Mira had arrived at a very simple theory.

“Can it be, that Takuto’s parents are still alive?”

Hearing these words, Emera stopped moving. The objective they came to the Dark Aid’s Hall was to allow Takuto meet his dead parents. At the very least that is how Écarlate Carillon members understood it.

However, what Mira said had overturned the very basis of this case, making everyone’s waves of thoughts suddenly stop.

“I see, them being treated as dead due to the fact they haven’t showed signs of life for five years after they went missing, was the start of all this. Which means that it is possible that they are alive.”

That must be the truth, Emera was convinced and her expression changed and she ran up happily to Takuto’s side.

“Five years of being missing. There was something like that among rules of the union. I see, so that was the reason.”

“Hoo, so there was a rule like that. In other words, it’s not like a corpse was found or anything.”

Fricca and Asbar, as well as Zeff appeared to hear about this for the first time. There is a boy who wants to meet his dead parents, and a newcomer C-rank girl who intends to bring him together with her, I’m worried so I want you to help. That’s how Emera had requested their help.

“Takuto.”

Mira had let go of Takuto whom she was hugging and looked straight into his eyes. He realized that she was being serious and while sniffling, he looked straight back in her eyes.

“Listen well. Dark Aid’s Mirror is a mirror that reflects dead. In other words, it does not reflect people who are alive. You understand, Takuto? In other words, this means your parents are still alive.”

Still alive. These words strongly sounded inside Takuto’s heart filled with the lowest of feelings and the single ray of light closed in the darkness had peeked out.

“But...Grandpa said they died. That’s why “give up" he said.”

He had recalled how his grandfather, who raised him for five years already, said this with an expression never seen on him before. Then losing the hope that floated up for a moment, Takuto’s heart sank once again.

“However, the people from the union said they are missing, right?”

“Yes.”

“In which case, there is a possibility. In other words, there is no one who saw your parents die. In addition to that, they aren’t being reflected in the Dark Aid’s Mirror which reflects the dead, don’t you think this makes the possibility they are alive quite high?”

After speaking slowly to him, Mira smiled gently.

“If they are alive, you will definitely be able to meet them.”

“Riine-san and Ashley-san, right. If we meet them somewhere, we will make sure to tell them about you, Takuto-kun.”

It looked like Asbar was unexpectedly easily moved to tears as he was holding the corners of his eyes. Fricca took out her notepad and there, she wrote “Find Takuto-kun’s Riine mom, Ashley dad".

“They are surely alive. The fact they weren’t reflected in the mirror is the proof. It’s good that we came, right? Takuto-kun.”

Leaning forward to match the height of his line of sight, Emera used the towel she pulled out to wipe the remaining tears in Takuto’s eyes.

“That’s right, boy. If they are alive, there’s hope. Such a despair-filled face doesn’t fit a kid. Smile, your pops and mom surely would be happier that way.”

While speaking to him, Zeff peeked into Takuto’s face. His own eyes were slightly red, but his expression had calmed down and he did his best to smile towards Takuto.

“Yes, thank you...very muchh.”

Although sniffing, Takuto made the best smile so far as he answered. And he then thanked from the bottom of his heart the people who listened to his selfish wish and brought him to such a dangerous place.

Everyone looked like they were more than enough satisfied with that as they nodded and pat his head.

While the atmosphere had turned slightly peaceful, suddenly Mira recalled something and pulled out Holy Water again, then stood in front of the mirror.

“Howard, come ooout. Look, I’ve got Holy Wateeeer.”

She said and shook the bin to make the Holy Water splash around inside. However, the Dark Aid’s Mirror did not respond to her call.

(“I knew it, it’s not enough.”)

The self-proclaimed devil researcher Howard. To Mira, he was not someone as close as to allow her call him out, and the Holy Water she used to talk with him was not something Howard himself had especially strong feelings towards.

With that said, Mira did not expect to meet him either. It was enough if she reported to Solomon that it was just as they predicted it would be. Giving up right away, Mira turned around on her heel with the back to the mirror.

That moment, the figure of Zeff standing a little distance away had entered the edge of Mira’s sight.

Although it had passed a little unnoticed because of Takuto, this incident seemed to have helped to deal with Zeff’s trauma from the past. Such appearance his was very different from the first impression he gave off and appeared in Mira’s head as a flashback.

“By the way, Zeff. Are you all right now?”

Hearing Mira’s words, everyone turned their gaze towards Zeff as if they recalled it.

Suddenly being exposed to the brunt of everyone’s stares, Zeff flinched, but after blinking lightly he raised his index finger upwards and,

“I’M BACK!”

he declared loudly.

Although there was a small cloud remaining in his expression, it was the usual friendly Zeff. Asbar who knew his circumstances saw the anxiousness deep inside him, but seeing Zeff like that he was finally relieved.

Zeff himself was able to spit out the feelings that squirmed deep inside his heart for a long time already, and felt very calm now.

Mira had approached him and stretching herself she extended her right hand towards his head.

“What is it, Mira-chan?”

While Zeff asked puzzled, Mira had touched his head.

“Good for you, I don’t know the details but it looks like your heart cleared up.”

Although her appearance was completely different, as the relief had spread inside his chest he felt as if he was consoled by his little sister. At the same time, the mask of appearances he put up crumbled and he smiled naturally before muttering “thanks", quietly enough for just Mira to hear it.

Mira might have looked younger, but he saw some kind of adult and motherly presence from her, so he allowed himself to indulge a little in her kindness. Then, with a smile, he saw off his little sister that appeared in the back of his mind.

“Well then, our business here is done, let’s go back.”

Seeing a good moment, Emera clapped. That moment Zeff had leaped away with a strong momentum all the way towards the entrance.

“The results were unexpected, but I guess it’s a happy end, right?”

It appeared like Zeff had completely returned to himself, he turned around and smiled like a young boy.

“From Takuto-kun’s perspective everything starts from here, I guess.”

“Yes. I will become an adventurer like everyone here and go find Dad and Mom!”

His parents were surely alive out there somewhere. Rather than achieve his original objective, this result was far more lucky.

“Speaking of unexpected, so was your case, lolicon. I wondered what to do about you, I’m relieved you’re past that now.”

“Huh? I think I just heard a super unexpected word come at me. Was I just hearing things?!”

“So you knew about it, Asbar-san. I didn’t know! I’m a sub-leader and yet, I didn’t notice that our member was so troubled!”

Seeing Mira cheer Zeff up, Asbar took the impression he got then and then randomly switching words around he made a new nickname for him. Of course, Zeff opposed against it, but he himself happened to think “It’s not too bad” and had become unable to resist to the bitter end.

In contrast to this, Emera was in anguish over her own inability as the sub-leader. However, naturally, no one expected such a thing of Emera. Rather, not even the leader himself did have a grasp on all members’ troubles.

“What an amusing bunch…"

Faced with such a noisy bunch, Mira smiled wryly and felt the invisible bond between them, which made her think it was a very pleasant sight.

“Now then, since you’re going back, could you take Takuto and bring him back together with you? I have things to do on the sixth level, you see.”

Now that Takuto’s business here was over, there was no need to drag him around the dungeon any longer. Deciding so, Mira thought she could leave him to these members and said so.

“What, missy, you had business to do at the sixth level?”

“The sixth level? I heard that there’s just a castle there but no monsters. A place with nothing there.”

“I heard that too. There’s been thousands of people who came here already, but I have yet to hear about anyone finding anything on the sixth floor.”

Just as Fricca and Zeff said, the sixth level was a little special place for a dungeon. Up until the fifth floor, the dungeon did look solemn like a temple.

However, the sixth level suddenly turned completely different, inside it, there was an enormous cave and in which there stood a castle and in the corner, there was a large underground lake.

But, what was the most characteristic about the sixth level was not that. The problem was its reason for existence.

There was none. The only thing that seemed like it would have a meaning, the castle, was raw inside with materials that made it still exposed, and there was not a single piece of furnishing. Far from that, rooms did not even have doors and all places that looked like they could have treasure were all open and empty.

No treasure, no monsters appearing, no events happening.

There was a certain player who called himself an archeologist, but even though he checked every corner of the castle, the result was only a proof of sixth level’s meaninglessness.

However, Mira had business in such a place.

“Speaking of which, you had the permit to enter the ancient temple right from the start. I see, so your objective was the sixth level.”

Emera had recalled what happened in front of the union and muttered. The reason Takuto had begged Mira was because there was a permit to enter the ancient temple inside Mira’s card case. In other words, Mira had business in here even before she decided to bring Takuto to the Dark Aid’s Hall.

“Sounds interesting, so we’ll go too.”

Mira had a business to do in a place that had already become common sense to have nothing in it. Growing interested in that, Zeff announced he wants to go too. However, at the same time everyone’s stares pierced through him.

“I knew it, you’re a loli…"

“He wasn’t like this before, though.”

“I won’t give Mira-chan to you!”

“I told you it’s not like thaatt!”

Zeff’s nearly screamed, but his voice did not reach anyone’s heart.

“You all saw it, right. Mira-chan’s strength. I’m just curious about the business that Mira-chan has, I was thinking there might be something there, that’s all. I have absolutely no feelings I need to be guilty of.”

He said, lining up excuses. With that said, Emera and others were also quite interested in it.

They did hear there was nothing on the sixth level, but it was not like they confirmed it with their own eyes.

Although they were still half-in-doubt over Zeff’s motivations, they were curious about Mira herself. And Mira wanted to go there. There might be something there, such an expectation was born in their hearts.

“And so, Mira-chan, do you mind if we went with you?”

After a noisy moment, Emera had asked as the representative of Écarlate Carillon members here.

“I don’t know if there’s anything there myself, so I would prefer if you went back… But well, fine.”

The person Mira was going to meet was one of the Nine Sages, Soul Howl the Great Wall. His hobbies were quite distorted so Mira frowned and was reluctant about it, but life is accompanied by lessons and thus, she agreed.

Soul Howl’s hobbies were bad, but since his hobbies did not go in a direction where he would seriously harm other people, in that aspect Mira was not worried. The only difference is that when someone would make a haunted house with various gimmicks in it, he would make one where real corpses are hanging from above.

Also, Mira herself also thought of wanting to stay with these members a little longer, which was one of the reasons.

After they left the Dark Aid’s Hall, Mira opened the door leading to the sixth level. From that point on, no monsters appeared and after walking past the passage, they could arrive at the sixth level.

A while after they walked through the passage, they reached the upper part of the underground cave. Most of the cave’s floor was raw bedrock, and by the shore on the right there were stairs carved from the rock itself. However, these stairs did not look too reliable despite being quite wide.

“Woohyoo! So that’s how it looks like.”

Zeff fearfully peeked inside. There was light in the sixth level, inside the large and wide dome’s walls there were multiple shining crystals which lit up the entire wide space.

“Now then, I wonder what’s he doing.”

Mira muttered to herself and removed the Abstract Magic’s light, then holding Takuto’s hand started descending down the stairs.

“S-...so hiiigh〜〜...”

“Certainly, it’s high. Inside this last location it finally feels like we’re completing the dungeon.”

“Leader would faint in here.”

After removing her lanterns’ lights, and peeking inside, Emera followed after Mira while clinging to the wall. Asbar smiled a little bitterly, but took a deep breath and laughed it off, then with heavy steps he started walking down. Fricca who was capable of using Abstract Magic that decreased the speed of falling was unfazed, instead she recalled Écarlate Carillon’s leader who had fear of heights.

And Zeff who was used to high places was focused on teasing Emera.