Never Lock Eyes with a Wild Creature
They looked at the lights that shone softly on the tunnel walls through the window. While it was called a train, there were no rails, and the cars were pulled by horses. And the tunnels were not always the same width, as they spread out or became narrower as they continued.
“So, Grudo helped make this…”
“Oh? You two know Grudo?”
“Uh, no. Well, he is famous.”
Maki had mumbled without thinking, and so the young dwarf had asked her quizzically. She lied frantically.
“He is famous. He spent so much effort on opening these tunnel and creating these trains. He’s developed many other things too, truly a hero for us dwarves.”
Maki felt proud for some reason.
“Look, the tunnels widening. We are coming out to the first great hall. The train will slow down a little here, so you can take in the view.”
Said the kindly dwarf who sat with them.
“I’m Kaider. That one is Nyran.”
“Oh, I’m Norfe. My sister’s name is Chouze.”
Maki chuckled awkwardly. When they had discussed which names they would use:
“It should be the names of people that we don’t care about, just in case we are caught and they are implicated.”
Chiharu suggested, which led to this. Their new friends had even assumed that they were inland people because of it. Chiharu was still holding a grudge.
They looked back out the window as Kaider suggested, and saw that the train was now moving at a slower pace.
It was a limestone cavern. Lanterns lit the chamber, and milky-white stalagmites covered the walls and floor. Past the field of stalagmites, they could see a great lake that glowed with a green hue. The ceiling was so high that they could not even see it. It was all shadow.
“The lake looks quite shallow, but it can become very deep. There are rumors that it connects to the sea. However, only the merpeople know the truth of this. And they like to keep their secrets.”
“Ah, you inlanders don’t see much, do you? Just as the birdfolk are in the sky, the merpeople love to play in the sea, and are a curious race of people.”
“I don’t remember hearing about the merpeople when we studied about the beast lands.”
“They are too free to be able to manage. The sea is its own independent realm, unconnected to anywhere else. They will be selling souvenirs on the next island, so you can look forward to that.”
He said. The free merpeople of the sea also came out and sold souvenirs on dry land, huh. It was hard to imagine. Just as they were passing the lake, Chiharu felt something watching her. She looked up.
Kaider and Nyran said in unison.
“Eye, I locked eyes with something. Oh? It’s coming closer.”
Nyran stood up, just then, a large eye peered into the train window from outside.
“A Gazer! Why is it here!”
The two men immediately tried to grab their swords, but their weapons were with their baggage. The train conductor must have noticed the monster, because the speed suddenly increased, and the Gazer drifted away from the train.
Maki and Chiharu froze, the other passengers were all talking at once, Kaider and Nyran wiped at the sweat on their brows.
“We let our guard down…”
“No, this isn’t a dungeon. There should be no monsters here. And the window was closed. There was nothing that we could do.”
“Ohh, you two must have had quite the fright. Most people would never see such a monster in their whole lives, unless they are adventurers, you know?”
“Eye, our eyes locked…but it was just an eye…”