In Front of the Dungeon
While they felt a strong sense of unease, they still had to move forward. The mountains that separated them from the Shadow World were getting closer.
“I can see it!”
Zynis said. Maki and Chiharu looked down from out of the window. There was a carved out mountain, much like the one they had seen in the dwarf lands, and in front of it was a wide open space where many people had gathered.
“What are they doing standing there? Why aren’t they going inside!?”
“Ah, it’s mother.”
It was rare to see Zynis this annoyed.
“Leia? What is she doing?”
Zynis’s eyes were boring down into the ground as the box slowly descended towards it. Sauro and Saikania probably wanted to get down as soon as possible, but they were considerate of Maki and Chiharu, which the two were very grateful for.
However, Maki and Chiharu’s wish to descend in the corner so that they wouldn’t draw too much attention was not granted. And the box descended in the middle of the crowd of people.
There was a light clunk as the box touched the ground. Zynis seemed to have calmed down considerably by this point, and he looked at Maki and Chiharu with a serious expression.
“It seems like they are arguing about something. The dogfolk and white birdfolk are on the left, and the brown birdfolk are on the right. I don’t know what they are talking about, but there is no point in staying here. Let’s go. Are you fine with that?”
Well, it was not as if they had a choice. They could see all the people outside, but Sauro and Saikania were standing close to the box. And on Zynis’s signal, Sauro opened the door from the outside. First, Zynis and Ortha got out and looked around. Then they offered their hands to Maki and then Chiharu, and pulled them out.
That’s when the talking, that had not stopped with Zynis’s appearance, suddenly became quiet.
“Are they the current Saintesses?”
“They do have dark hair.”
“And they are small.”
Chiharu was annoyed by the number of comments about their height. She wasn’t that much smaller than the catfolk.
However, this was no time to be affected by such comments. They were so close to the dungeon’s entrance, and yet the beastfolk were not even looking at it.
“Leia. I brought the Saintesses. But what is happening here?”
Zynis addressed a golden-haired dog person who was standing to the left side.
So this was Zynis’s wife. Maki and Chiharu looked at her happily.
“Zynis. Isn’t it obvious?”
Leia had a rather low voice that was somehow calming to listen to, even though she was clearly irritated.
“Ever since this morning, the birdfolk will not listen to us. It would be fine if they were merely refusing to work. However, they are even getting in the way of our monster hunting. What do they think will happen when the dungeon starts to overflow?”
“Leia, don’t bunch us up altogether.”
Said a white bird person.
Maki shouted. He looked like an older version of Sauro, with longer hair and a more gentle personality. It was the current chief of the birds.
“Oh, Maki. And Chiharu. It’s good to see you here.”
Miragaia seemed incredibly pleased to see them.
“Tsk. The chief is biased towards the Saintesses!”
Someone said from the right side.
“It’s not biased. It’s only natural to show respect to the Saintesses who purify this world.”
Miragaia said in reply. But when Chiharu looked, she saw a brown-feathered bird person who seemed to be the same age as Miragaia. He was folding his arms and glaring. Up until the incident at the hot spring, she had a very good impression of them. And even though she knew that it was wrong to judge people by appearances, she couldn’t help but feel dislike towards him.
Then the brown-feathered bird person turned around. The usually large and beautiful irises were dark and cloudy. Chiharu felt herself take a step back.
She had never heard someone talk so viciously.
“So this is the reason that my sons were disciplined.”
He was the father of those rude birdfolk! As usual, Maki tried to move in front of Chiharu, but this time Chiharu held her back and stepped forward.
“The reason that your sons were disciplined was because they stubbornly tried to watch us at the hot spring. And they wouldn’t leave when we asked them. It’s not our fault. It’s theirs.”
Perhaps he had not expected them to argue back. The bird person became speechless.
Chiharu was generally a forgiving person, but she disliked people who acted wrongly as if it was nothing.
And so she could overlook a lot of the behaviour of the birdfolk, but not the ones from yesterday. On top of that, this one was trying to put the blame on them. Chiharu held Maki’s hand then, and Maki squeezed back. It will be fine.
“We came here because we heard that the situation was dangerous. But I guess you have things under control. If you don’t need us here, we will leave. What will you do!”
Maki’s cool voice echoed. The tension between the two groups seemed to relax, and they all looked at each other hesitantly. Then Leia let out a deep sigh.
“We are the ones to invite you, and now this happens. I’m terribly sorry. I know that it’s only an excuse, but we don’t usually fight like this.”
She shook her head as if to get rid of invisible cobwebs. It was no wonder. The miasma was even thicker down here. It wafted around and seemed to envelope them.
“A while ago, the dungeon monsters became more aggressive. And they keep trying to go upwards. And so we have no choice but to wait outside of the dungeon and hunt them when they come out.”
Leia said as she looked towards the dungeon.
“As you can see, the entrance is very big. And so the gazers that come out from the top need to be taken down by the birdfolk. And yet the birdfolk have been fighting since this morning. Unfortunately, some monsters have already gotten away.”
Chiharu followed Leia’s gaze away from the dungeon and to the opposite direction. Then she touched her chest and closed her eyes. The beastfolk watched this and started to mutter to each other.
Maki gently put a hand on Chiharu’s shoulder.
“They’re still close by.”
“Yes. But more importantly, the monsters in the dungeon are getting restless.”
“It’s fine. I told the monsters in the dungeon to wait a little longer.”
Maki also closed her eyes next to her and sensed the feelings of the monsters.
“Yes, they’re saying that they waited all this time. And that they can wait a little longer.”
“Alright, then let’s go to the monsters who are outside. Zynis!”
Zynis had been watching over them, but he responded immediately as he turned to Leia.
“Leia. Give the order. The Saintesses will call the monsters now. Tell the others to move away from them.”
“Zynis. There’s no need for this. It’s an emergency, and our rank doesn’t matter.”
“I know that, but…”
It was an emergency, but the two were acting like they were in their own world together.
“Fine. It’s my job, after all. Now, the Saintesses will start to purify the monsters! All of you! Give them some room! Stand back!”
Leia’s voice echoed around them. Now, it was time to work.