There were several branching, winding paths. The cave was like a labyrinth. Basically, I would get lost in it even if I used Nighteyes.
“It’s up ahead.”
However, we had a reliable companion. The nice ogre who lived in the neighborhood. Miss Yunagi was our guide. So we would not get lost.
Once we turned the last corner, we reached a wooden door that looked quite out of place in the stone cave.
Yunagi knocked on it lightly and then waited. After a few seconds, the door opened with a creak.
“…Who are they?”
A male ogre was standing on the other side. But he wasn’t super muscular and wielding a club. If anything, he was quite slender and good looking. And he glared at us both.
“Comrades. They found the vajra and returned it.”
Yunagi said as she showed it to him. His eyes widened for a moment in surprise. However, he shook his head and quickly regained his composure.
“…Still, that doesn’t mean you can bring them into our home.”
“But they are going to fight the Nova. They are comrades. I want them to meet my father. Won’t you let them in?”
Father? She had said ‘chief’ earlier. Was she the daughter of the chief then?
I watched their exchange a little absent-mindedly until Daniela jabbed me in the ribs.
“You look stupid.”
“What? I thought I always looked smart?”
But maybe she was right. Still, there was something about Yunagi’s big strong back that put you at ease.
In any case, the gatekeeper eventually agreed, and we were let through. Though he ran ahead to tell the chief.
“Welcome to the ogre village. It was named after an old elvish town. Yakshashtat. In spite of the name, it is a nice place.”
Yes…it was a bit difficult to say… But perhaps it meant something important.
“Now, there’s no need to rush. The others will be very surprised, and so we should give them some time.”
And so we decided to take a leisurely tour while we headed to the chief’s house.
Everything past the door was so brightly lit that it was hard to believe we were underground. But when we saw the structures, both Daniela and I were at a loss for words.
“What do you think? Quite impressive, no?”
“Hehe. You are really speechless then?”
Indeed, she was right. But maybe not for the reasons that she believed.
After all, the reason that Daniela and I were stunned into silence, was because we had seen a town that looked much like this one before.
“It looks like…”
Estarosta. The underground city that had been overflowing with goblins. The place that had been made by ancient elves. It was identical.
The square buildings made of stone and even the large towers. While the positions weren’t the same, the overall elements were there.
“Estarosta? Is that some town in the outside world?”
“It’s an underground city, much like this place. An abandoned ruin where ancient elves once lived.”
“I see. So that’s what you mean. Well, it is no surprise. After all, this place used to be inhabited by elves as well.”
I see…well, it made sense. So the ancient elves had also created a town underneath this island. They were supposed to live near the dragon vein, after all. It was quite natural then.
This island was close to the dragon vein. That’s why the second facility was built here. It would have been quite convenient then, to create this town close by.
“It is because we had this place to live, that we didn’t go extinct in spite of what was happening in the outside world.”
“Aye. When the elves attracted the wrath of the gods and were remade or destroyed. It was a terrible time… Well, not that I was even born.”
It was something that I’d like to hear in detail. But some other time. We were quite busy now. Not in a rush, necessarily. It was complicated.
“My mother sometimes tells me about it. Of course, she heard it all from someone else too. But they suddenly lost all of their power. There was much chaos and elves started to fight each other. That contributed to the fall of our numbers.”
“I see. And you’ve all been living here quietly ever since.”
“It must have been hard…”
All of their power, huh? Just how much power did these ancient elves have? The current world was the result of the gods punishing them. I didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
We followed Yunagi as she walked. The place was so bright, likely because of the magic lamps the elves had left. It was just as bright as it was outside.
The light that shone down from the ceiling looked a lot like sunlight. Yunagi said that it was purposely made this way. And while I couldn’t stare at it directly, it apparently moved like the sun as well.
Perhaps Estarosta had had a similar system once.
“We’re near the chief’s house now. Well, it’s my house as well.”
“…There seems to be a crowd gathered.”
“Of course there is, they were told that we were coming. They would want to know about this. So you’ll have to explain it to them.”
Yunagi said as she held the vajra. Then she looked towards the ogre men and women, all brawny in appearance, and greeted them.
□ □ □ □
“I hear that you found the vajra.”
The voice echoed, as if they were in the mountain. It was very low. Hell, the person who spoke even looked like a mountain.
“Yes, it was in the elven ruin on this island.”
It had been lying there, and we were given permission to take it.
“I see… In that case, yall are our friends!”
There was something about the way he talked that sounded nostalgic to me.
“Now, there’s no reason to be lettin’ out queer sounds like that. Come over here! It’s time we eat! Yunagi, go and help your mother!’
“Father. I told you to stop talking like that! It’s undignified!!”
“See if I care! Who in their right mind acts formal when we’re around friends!”
Daniela and I were frozen. Things seemed to be happening very quickly. Could someone explain?
“Ah… Uh, Asagi. You must dine with us.”
Yunagi said with a cough and a serious expression as she folded her arms.
“Uh, it’s a bit later for that…”
“Ugh. And I wanted to make a good impression… Damn it!”
Yunagi said as she held her head and squatted angrily on the ground. She didn’t look so reliable now.
“Ogres just talk like that… Of course, we’re careful around others, because people will mock us as country bumpkins when we go out into town and pretend to be humans.”
“I don’t mind it.”
“As long as we understand each other.”
“Truly? You’re lying, I know it. Oh, how sweet, though…so thank you.”
She said a little tearfully. Apparently, she had been talking a little differently because she didn’t want to be underestimated. And while I didn’t care, given the kind of Adventurers who were in that town, it made sense.
“What the hell are yall doing! I said it’s time to eat!”
“I’m coming! Now, let’s go, you two.”
Yunagi stood up and led us by the hands. I nearly tripped on the stairs on the way to the house. I could tell from her grip, that she was happy to be bringing friends home.
Yes, we were friends now.
Daniela and I looked at each other and smiled.