The Great Tomb
The place that was beyond the water prison, looked much like a graveyard.
“Where are we?”
I asked. And the old man in the fox mask answered.
“The catacombs. The great tombs.
“Yes. A dungeon that lies deep underneath Ismalia castle. It is said that a great demon was once buried here. And so it’s the holy place of an evil god.”
That was an interesting description. But I didn’t point it out.
“And why are you in a place like this? Who are you?”
I asked. And then the old man pointed to Toshizou, who stood next to me.
“I came to see the face of this man, who wishes to die.”
“You’re acquaintances then?”
Toshizou had an awkward expression.
“It seems that we met in the previous world, but I have no memory of it. Was it in the Shinsengumi, old man?”
Asked Toshizou. But the old man just laughed, ‘Fohohoho.’ It seemed that he had no intention of answering.
“Well, you’ll learn my identity eventually. However, why not search for a way back to the surface first?”
“An alliance, then.”
I held my chin and considered it. Well, it wasn’t as if we really had an option.
“Old man. You did help us escape the water prison. And so it seems only right that we travel back to the surface together.”
“You truly are a reasonable Demon King.”
The old man smiled and offered his hand. He wanted me to shake it. And so I shook his hand. It was stronger than I thought. A warrior’s hand.
I was very curious to find out who he was, but did not ask further. And like that, we started to search the tombs.
“I never would have thought that there would be such a great labyrinth underneath Ismalia castle.”
“It might be better to say that Ismalia castle was built on top of such a great labyrinth.”
“Are you related to both?”
The old man said ‘No’ flatly.
“I suppose you could say that this was an important route since ancient times. And so a city was built over the ruins.”
“I see. However, why are you here?”
“A preliminary survey. The person who I serve has a strong interest in this place.”
“Is there hidden treasure somewhere?”
“Who knows? It’s a secret. But right now, I want to know the route back to the surface. Sometimes information is more valuable than treasure.”
I said. And then I saw something moving up ahead.
A group of skeletons were looking in our direction.
“This is a graveyard, after all. And there seem to be a lot of skeletons.”
“Not ‘seem.’ There are a lot of them.”
Toshizou corrected. And then we saw something else coming from the back.
It was a Ghoul that looked like it was made of rotting flesh.
“Damn it, what a troublesome lot we’ve bumped into. I hate undead because you can’t negotiate with them.”
“I feel the same. I hate them because they make my sword sticky.”
“Now that I think of it, that isn’t your usual sword. Will you be alright?”
“I would have preferred to have my katana, but now is no time to be picky.”
Toshizou muttered. But then the old man threw the katana he had on his belt to Toshizou.
“There is no name on it, but it’s a good blade.”
He said. But Toshizou understood everything and smiled.
“If you have such high expectations for me, then I’ll have to cut down most of them.”
“It would help if you did.”
I said, and then Toshizou moved like the wind as he charged into the group of undead.
Without a second’s delay, he cut through the skeletons, shield and all. It really was a strong sword.
The old man joined after a short delay, but his sword was more gentle. He did not move in broad strokes, but worked with precision as he chipped away at their numbers. Skeletons could move even after their heads were destroyed, but they could not hold their weapons if they lost their hands. Nor could they walk without legs. And so he targeted those parts.
It was a very logical way to fight. However, they both fought so that they disabled the enemy with one attack.
I had heard that the Shinsengumi were practiced swordsmen, so perhaps this old man really was related to them. As I thought of such things, the Ghoul in the back began to roar.
It dragged a great axe as it moved forward.
“This is a special Ghoul.”
“I’ve read about them. They are immortal weapons that are made from modified corpses. But some were made by special means. And this is one of them.”
Just then, the Ghoul swung its giant battleaxe down at Toshizou. He quickly dodged it and a great hole opened up near his feet.
“It is indeed special. What ridiculous strength.”
“They must have made it by gathering ancient criminals. It has an evil power.”
“That’s why its parts seem to be of varying sizes.”
Its legs were of different length, and the right arm was twice as thick as the left.
“Aye. It’s a dangerous creature. Can you kill it?”
“Not if I’m alone.”
I glanced over to the old man in the fox mask. He chuckled and answered.
“Oh, you should not rely on some old man. As you saw earlier, my sword is gentle.”
“You were clearly holding back. Judging by the way you fight, you can likely wield the sword just like I do.”
“You are very perceptive. However, I will not show my true strength so easily. After all, it will give away my identity.”
Besides, I am still an old man. He laughed.
Damn it. He was a stubborn old man. Toshizou and I laughed and then turned to each other.