(Late) extra chapter for Growth Cheat as promised for my Patreons 🙂 Enjoy!
(155) Girl from the artificial labyrinth
It was as if a security room, no, like a control room.
Countless monitors were displaying images from within the labyrinth. A black haze-like mass transformed into the figure of a large centipede. After that centipede moved a certain distance, she pressed a button. When she did that, a stone wall fell from above the centipede and crushed it.
When the stone wall returned to its original position, the centipede no longer existed.
She performed that task indifferently.
She ─ was a girl.
The girl with white hair that seemed like it was about to touch the floor removed her hand from the button, spun her chair round and round and that was when our eyes met.
She looked like a girl of about 14 years of age.
“ …… “
Her expression froze. Or rather, she was expressionless in the first place. And that expression didn’t change even after seeing us.
For now, I greeted her first.
“Sorry to bother you, my name’s Ichinojo.”
“ … How?”
Now then, how shall I explain this?
Immediately after I thought we would be crushed by the wall, I used my Hikkikomori skill to escape to My World with Carol and closed the gate directly before the walls slammed shut.
And when I immediately opened the gate again, it led to this place.
In the event that the exit location was blocked by something, the exit gate would be opened at the closest possible location.
I figured that place would probably be the undiscovered area in the map.
“Leaving that aside, I didn’t think there would be such machinery here … Are these magic tools?”
“Please answer. I will not recognize you as master unless you give the correct answer.”
She said with a monotonous voice.
It looked like I had to give a number corresponding to those numbers but naturally, I didn’t know the answer.
“In the event that people apart from master enters this room, they will be treated as guests. Do you have any questions?”
“ … So we won’t be treated as enemies. Were you the one who tried to kill us using the walls?”
“Yes. It is my task to deal with individuals who enter the labyrinth but it is also my task to welcome those who reach here.”
So it was like that. I considered the possibility that it was a trap but hmm, yeah it probably won’t be a problem.
“ … Are you human?”
“No, I am Work Doll number 417. I have no name.”
She looked like she was actually living. But I do know of an existence like her.
She was probably a similar existence as Pionia.
“Erm, I’ll bring my companion but you won’t attack right?”
“People who have entered this room before or those who accompany them are not targets for my attack.”
“Okay. Please wait for a moment.”
I opened the door to My World and called Carol out.
“978-4-7753. Please answer. I will not recognize you as master unless you give the correct answer.”
The same numbers came out just like before but naturally, Carol couldn’t answer it.
And then Carol was also recognized as a guest.
“What is this facility? Though it looks like a labyrinth?”
“This is an artificial labyrinth created by Demon Lord Famiris‧Raritei.”
“A labyrinth created by the Demon Lord? Aren’t labyrinths constructs made by the Church?”
“The Demon Lord creates artificial labyrinths in places outside the influence of the Church like here.”
“Then, is your master the Demon Lord?”
She shook her head.
“It changed 96512 hours ago.”
“Er, how many years ago was that?”
“About 11 years ago.”
So it was slightly before the Demon Lord’s death.
That means somebody came to take over this labyrinth before the Demon Lord’s death?
“Who is your master?”
“I cannot give that answer to guests.”
She replied. It looked like there was something like a confidentiality protocol.
“Why did that person become the master of this place?”
“I cannot give that answer to guests.”
“Is your master a man? Or a woman?”
“I cannot give that answer to guests.”
417 showed her intent that she could not answer any of Carol’s questions.
It looked like information disclosure on the current master was highly regulated.
I tried to change the angle.
“What is your favorite food?”
That was a joke but apparently, she likes grapes.
I took out grapes from my item bag.
It was grapes meant for winemaking so Japanese people like me don’t really like it due to its milder sweetness but it was grapes that can’t be eaten normally in this world.
“Could you answer the question if I give this to you?”
“Sorry but no.”
“ … I see … haa, you can have it.”
I placed the grapes in front of 417.
417 looked at the grapes slightly before she plucked a single one and placed it in her mouth.
It should have seeds inside it but she chewed it whole and swallowed.
“Hey, it’s tough calling you 417 so can I call you by another name? It’s a strange feeling to call a person using numbers.”
“That command is only executable by my master.”
“Master … so I can do so if I answer the numbers you gave out just now?”
Haa, so I have to solve the code.
There are usually hints to answering such ciphers and the answers can only be derived from there but I had not gotten my hands on any hints on the way here.
Perhaps Haru who was close to the Demon Lord might have known something.
“I wonder what exactly is the answer.”
I murmured to nobody in particular.
“It is 1417-3.”
“ … Eh? 1417-3?”
“Password verified. From now, ownership shall be set as Ichinojo. Setting complete.”
“ … I’ve become your master?”
“Yes, master. Please order me to do anything.”
417 answered monotonously.
… This girl is way too broken.
“As expected of Ichino-sama. To be able to discover such a trick.”
“No, rather than a trick, I think it’s more like a bug … erm, your current … or rather, who was your previous master?
“Daijiro-san!? Seriously? Daijiro-san was your previous master?”
I was astonished to hear the name of my benefactor here.
That person is seriously amazing. He was the companion of the hero who defeated the Demon Lord, he created doujinshi and he was the former master of 417, in other words, he conquered this artificial labyrinth.
“What did Daijiro-san instruct you to do?”
“To raise the temperature of the hot spring and set it as 55 degrees 96500 hours ago.”
“ … Did Daijiro-san not want anybody to enter?”
“Also, he entrusted this to me.”
She pressed a button and a part of the floor opened.
Then, the item that appeared was ─ a beautiful crystal ball.
“Daijiro-sama left a message so I shall convey it now. 『This jewel is meant to seal a certain someone so it must be sealed here. If you chance upon seeing this jewel, I beg of you. Please re-seal it. 』 … That is all.”
I couldn’t not comply after hearing such a request.
After I requested 417 to re-seal it, the jewel was once again sucked into the floor.
Winding a few minutes back in time.
Miri and the others were having a small victory celebration at a diner located in Korat.
“No way, I didn’t expect that Prince-sama to be the mastermind.”
“It seemed to me that there was quite an obvious hint though.”
“ … We’re in the middle of our meal so could you please quiet down?”
Norn who was slightly excited, Kanon who was calm and Miri who was slightly in a bad mood.
They had just resolved a large incident in the country of Korat that might have shaken the world but it was a long story so we will talk about it some other day.
It happened when Miri was feeling bored of the cooking that consisted solely of vegetables.
She sensed it. A slight fluctuation in the flow of magical power to the south ─ her sealed power was being released.
However, after about three minutes, Miri’s power was sealed once again.
Those three minutes were sufficient. She was able to confirm the location of the seal.
“ … Norn, Kanon, I’ll give you 1 week of free time. A place that I must go to suddenly came up … also.”
Miri created keys of darkness and pierced their chests.
Norn raised a voice of surprise but Kanon obediently accepted it as if she understood what it was for.
“I’ve sealed your hearts such that you can’t talk to others about me. Just in case, to make sure. If that fellow comes by, Kanon, deal with him properly.”
“Yes. Have a safe trip, master.”
“Don’t be too wasteful with the money.”
Miri reminded them as she placed down money for their current meal and meal expenses for a while before leaving the diner.
Then, she summoned Fenrir and ran towards the south.
“It’s been a long time, Norn-san, Kanon-san.”
Haurvatat entered the diner just 30 minutes later.