Ex Strongest, Encountering a Nostalgic Face
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Although Soma knew this half of it at the time of its appearance, it took about one to two days to walk through this Demon King’s castle from one corner to another.
It was a big place, but the passageways were narrower than that. Strictly speaking, the width was enough for two or three people to pass side by side, and the height was so high that the head didn’t touch the ceiling. But it could be said that the passageway were narrow based on the scale of the castle.
To put it simply, he would need to move accordingly depending on the number of rooms and its size. This was because when he considered those wide passageways and narrow passageways in the same area, the number of narrow passageways was inevitably higher, and the distance that must be walked increases accordingly. Well, there was a possibility that the rooms of the passageways were enlarged, so he couldn’t assume in general. However, there would be no big difference unless the rooms were too large.
Besides, here was the Demon King’s castle. It wasn’t natural to make people go through the place easily, and it was more natural to think that this kind of passageway continued.
It had been about thirty minutes since Soma started walking, but the same passageway like this had been going on all the time. If so, it was highly likely that this matter would be the same in the future.
Of course, it would be another matter whether it was a normal passageway or not.
“To begin with, it’s not a normal passageway at the moment.” (Soma)
When Soma looked around while letting out a sigh, he found a stone corridor. It seemed to be made from the same material used in the room where Felicia and Sheila were, but there was clearly a difference here. That was the pattern drawn on the wall.
Rather than having a different pattern, there was no pattern in that room. So, the pattern itself was the difference. However, it would be different if the room was a murder scene. No, there was certainly the feeling of a murder scene, but this pattern didn’t exist to entertain the eyes.
Nonetheless, this might not have any effect. It wasn’t meaningless, but it was one of those things that didn’t exert its effect by itself.
If he were to come out with a conclusion, it was to confuse the sense of distance and direction. It was part of the mechanism that seemed to continue the monotonous scene. It slowed down the concentration and gradually deprived the normal judgment.
As this had been mentioned earlier, although it looked monotonous, it wasn’t monotonous. The passageways were slightly angled, and the distances were either getting shorter and longer, just not noticeable. By accumulating such things, people, who went through this, would gradually go crazy.
Speaking of soberness, yes, they were sober, but that was why it was hard to notice, and the effect was reasonably high. It was possible to go ahead, but in fact, people would just go around the same place.
“…Well, it seems to be a mechanism of the Demon King’s castle, but it’s a bit subtle.” (Soma)
However, when it came to solidity, it was solid, and Soma knew that it was a really nasty mechanism that couldn’t be completely ignored. Somehow, the patterns also includes a suggestive effect, he needed to make preparations around this area. He seemed to understand the personality of the person who made this mechanism.
Nonetheless, since this castle seemed to have been constructed almost in a similar way by the previous Demon King, this person might have nasty personalities.
“Anyhow, it was a correct decision to let Felicia and Sheila waiting.” (Soma)
Rather than being something interesting, this alone would have make Felicia tired. Well, in that sense, this may be like a Demon King’s castle. That was to eliminate those who didn’t have sufficient capabilities.
Speaking of a problem, did that mean that Soma was getting tired walking around here? Perhaps, there were monsters here originally and that would make the mechanism here more difficult to notice, but in the present situation, the passageways just kept on going. Soma had spare time since nothing had happened when he noticed the mechanism. As expected, Soma was getting bored.
“Hmm… should I forcibly create a shortcut… nah, that is a bad idea, isn’t it?” (Soma)
If it was a mere Demon King’s castle, he could just slice the passageways and create a shortcut, but this was also Aina’s house. That would be destroying the house rather than exploring it. This couldn’t be treated as a joke.
“…Well? If I insist to make it easier to live here, perhaps…” (Soma)
He was starting to think about that, but that was also inevitable. Anyway, Soma realized that he hadn’t searched for a third of the house yet. To put it briefly, in the worst case, he had to keep walking more than twice as long. There was no way he could do it straight.
Moreover, considering the height of the ceiling, there seemed to be a certain number of floors. Soma assumed that it would take a few days to explore from one corner to another, but… he didn’t have the confidence to suppress the desire to make shortcuts.
Well, it was also another matter if he could do it when he started exploring without permission…
Then, when he tried to walk through the unchanging passageways as he had before…
He suddenly stopped his feet because he felt something out of place. It wasn’t because of the pattern on the wall or the inclination of the passageway. He only felt it right now.
Surely, he felt something out of place, but when he noticed the mechanism here… what he noticed now was a different feeling.
“Hmm, is this… a wall?” (Soma)
He looked around to see what was going on. It was slightly difficult to notice, but…
“As I expected… this is…” (Soma)
When he pushed the wall that he felt uncomfortable, only that part shifted slightly backward. He immediately stopped as if it was stuck in something, but he somehow could imagine what would happen once he reached this point. When he tried to move the wall to the left and right as it was, it seemed that it moved to the right side.
When he actually did so, the wall before him slid to the right. Eventually, there was a hole that was large enough for a person to go through.
“Is this… a hidden room instead of hidden passageway?” (Soma)
Perhaps, this wasn’t the main passageway. The reason why he thought so was because he was in a position way too early to reach the staircase leading to the upper floors. Although it was quite confusing, the fact that Soma found this hidden passageway meant that it was something that could be found.
If so, more than half of the mechanism became meaningless. On the other hand, there was no possibility of making a way to the upper floors in such a place. After all, it was quite unlikely.
In short, this was unlikely to be an irrelevant place to go.
“Well, it’s worth going in.” (Soma)
Rather, there was no reason not to go in this situation. He was getting tired, and above all, there was a possibility that something was hidden ahead of him. He couldn’t afford not to go.
And when he excitedly went ahead…
“Hmm… this is…” (Soma)
Soma immediately knew that this place was different from the previous one. It was obvious from its appearance.
The first color that jumped into his field of view was green, then brown. It was a tree.
Moreover, it was a huge tree. When he looked up, he had to tilt his head to the point where his neck hurt. Apparently, the height of the ceiling was different here, and it could be understood that it wasn’t just the tree.
However, Soma quickly turned away from it. Just below the tree… he found a figure leaning on the trunk.
The person seemed to be asleep, but at the moment, his eyes were opened and he woke up in a hurry.
“Dang it, I’ve been found out… not really. Who are you?” (???)
The face that tilted his head was that of a young man.
Was he a young man? The color of the hair and the eyes was the same jet black as Soma, but the interior of the eyes made him feel that the man had aged. He was a boy whose age wasn’t clear at first glance. He could be either a boy, or a young man or even more than that.
However, that wasn’t the reason why Soma didn’t say anything. That was…
“Yeah, I don’t feel like killing an invader, so… did you get lost? It’s likely for someone to come here, but… oh well, listen. If you leave this place, you’ll be able to manage it. Sorry. I’m not going to guide you. It’s just a hassle. I’m still lazy here, so work hard and get back on your own.” (???)
When the man said so, he really leaned his body on the tree trunk again, and he began to close his eyes. Soma sighed. Well, there might be such a thing, and when Soma thought about it for a bit…
“Goodness… I’m totally surprised. You may have changed a bit, but not too much. Aren’t you doing it as always… Iori Kanzaki?” (Soma)
“…What did you say?” (Iori)
Immediately after that, the man reopened his eyes and directed a suspicious gaze at Soma, but he only exhaled a sigh of being amazed. Really… no matter how much, he probably didn’t changed… in many ways.
“Why do you know my name… no, wait a sec? With that strange tone of yours, do you know me…?” (Iori)
“The one with strange tone is you. Plus, it would be rude to complain about how people talk.” (Soma)
“That way of talking… I see. You are… Soma… the night fog Soma!?” (Iori)
“It can be said that you are right, but you also got it wrong. Strictly speaking, that man has already died.” (Soma)
When a nostalgic friend called Soma by a nostalgic name, he shrugged his shoulders with a wry smile on his face to the man who was surprised.
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