t eye.

Life quickly faded from the one remaining left eye.

Mitrof watched it.
His sword slipped out from the weight of the crumpling body.

The encounter was brief.

But he might have died.

He realized that he was alive.
Burning with life, he desperately clung to it.


Like molten iron flowing into his mind, Mitrof clenched his teeth tightly.
A sudden numbness ran through his entire body, making him shudder with heat.

Looking around, the elf girl also curled up, with a pained expression on her face as if she was enduring something.

“…So, this is sublimation, I suppose.
It’s quite something,” she said.

Sublimation is a phenomenon that occurs only in the labyrinth.
Mitrof only knew it through books.

“Does this mean we have ascended to a higher level as organisms? I don’t feel it,” he said, clenching his fists.
He didn’t feel any stronger than before.

“It takes time to get used to the body after sublimation.
For a kobold, a night’s sleep is enough.”

“So we’ll feel it tomorrow.
I’m looking forward to it,” Mitrof said as he sheathed his sword.

The passion and tension, the feeling of risking his life, they had all faded away.
The square was silent.

The only memory of the battle lay before them as the kobold lay motionless on the ground.

“I’d like to thank you again.
Thanks to you, I was saved.”

The elf girl approaches Mitrof.
Her blue eyes are soft and narrow.

“It’s okay.
You helped defeat the kobold too.”

“Did you know what I was aiming for when you opened fire so quickly?”

“Somehow I had a feeling.”

Why did he know? Mitrof also wonders himself.

Could it be eye contact?

Since childhood, Mitrof had been aware of other people’s gazes.
How his father looked at him, what he thought.
Or his brother, or the maids.


Gazes have a unique presence.
He learned that he could tell where they were directed.

During the fight with the kobold, Mitrof felt the elf girl’s gaze on his back.
It was sharp and piercing.

“Maybe we have good compatibility,” the elf girl murmured.
“Are you exploring alone?”

“I’m alone and inexperienced.
I just entered the labyrinth for the first time today.”

“That’s a bold move.
It took me four days to finally get used to it.”

“Are you alone too?” 

“Indeed.
I can’t bring myself to find a trustworthy partner through taverns or introductions from strangers.
But I have found one now,” the girl said, looking directly at Mitrof.

“I am Grace.Switz, a huntress who resides in the forest.
I desperately want to delve deep into the fifth floor of this labyrinth.
If you are also seeking a reliable companion, how about teaming up with me? You can trust me.”

Mitrof read her blue eyes’ gaze, which shone with a straight and beautiful light.

Strangely, Mitrof could agree with what she said.

“…I’m Mitrof.
I am a former third son of a noble family  who was disowned as of yesterday.
I also feel like I can trust you.”

“Then, does that mean you accept my proposal?” Grace asked, tilting her head slightly with a hint of unease.
Her platinum hair slid off her shoulders.

Mitrof nodded.

“Please take care of me.
I was afraid to explore the labyrinth alone.
It’s reassuring to have Grace with me.”

“Glad to be of help.”

Grace replied with a sweet smile.

 

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