The sun was hanging in the night sky.
To his groggy head, that was what it appeared to be.
A black curtain had covered the entire world as far as his eye could see, and right in the centre of the blackness a large sun was shining brightly.
Raishin blinked several times, trying to jolt his fuzzy memories.
He clearly remembered he had fallen. Something about the earth giving way, and being caught up in the wake of Sigmund’s destruction.
Recalling that, he realised the light above him wasn’t the sun, but a hole that had been bored through the ground.
Which meant that he had fallen quite the distance. To find himself alive after all that was most strange.
He gingerly tried to move his fingers.
His skin turned cold at the thought he might have lost them— ah, they moved. And there was no pain too.
Raishin carefully checked himself over, before slowly rising to his feet.
His surroundings were pitch black. Light was streaming in from the hole above him, but for some strange reason it didn’t seem to reach where he was.
Fortunately, he had brought his equipment with him when he left. Removing a lamp from his harness, he struck a match and lit it. Raising it up to scan his surroundings, he saw nothing but sand.
Furthermore, the walls were steeply sloped. It was like he was at the base of a massive sand hill.
He tried calling for her, but all he could hear was the sound of his echo, albeit after some time had passed.
The space he was in was considerably big. Since when did the academy have such a large cavern underground, he wondered.
After calling out several more times, it became apparent that there was no response forthcoming from Yaya.
“No other choice then. I guess I’ll have to get out of here on my own—“
At that moment, his body was paralysed with fear.
Reflexively extinguishing the lamp, he threw himself to the ground and looked up at where the presence was coming from.
Countless stars were twinkling in the sky.
No, those weren’t stars— they were eyes!
He was being watched. By a large number of them!
There was incredible pressure coming off from the eyes; it felt like they were ripping off his clothes, stripping away the skin, tearing his body to pieces and seeing through each cell in his body.
All tens of thousands of them, if not hundreds.
In the next moment, they all blinked in unison—
After a few seconds had passed, he finally regained his composure. The eyes had also vanished.
His heart was beating violently. Cold sweat was pouring out from every pore in his body, leaving him soaked like he had just walked in the rain.
What the hell was that?
Was something there? Was this someone’s magic art? Or was it a fear-induced hallucination?
He couldn’t comprehend its true nature; neither could he even begin to imagine what it was. However, Raishin wasn’t a coward that would stop just because of an unknown fear.
Lighting the lamp again, he shone the light on his surroundings.
The slope of sand extended wide and far. There was no trace of the monster left.
Raishin cleared his mind, banishing his recent experience in favour of focusing on escaping.
The slope continued downwards. Instinct alone told him to climb upwards, but it didn’t look like the sand hill extended as far as the hole and climbing up sand would expend a lot of physical energy.
So the best option was to not make any false moves and calmly wait for help to arrive. However, upon inspecting his surroundings a little closer, Raishin could see rocks and debris shifting about. Most likely, they had fallen into the hole along with him when the ground gave way earlier. Plus, the ground above was most likely still fragile. If another collapse were to happen, there was a high risk that he would be crushed to death.
Discounting the fact that he was running away from the monster, the best choice he had right now was to move elsewhere.
Descending down the slope a little, the light from his lamp fell onto something strange.
“— Hey! Get a hold of yourself!”
He half ran and half slid over towards the soft object.
Bringing his ear close to her face, he checked for any signs of breathing. Thankfully there was.
“Wake up, Henri! Henriette!”
Shouting into her ear, Henri’s eyes flew open with a start.
“Are you ok? Does it hurt anywhere?”
“Nooo!! A man!!”
Gripping handfuls of sand, she started throwing them at Raishin, stirring up dust clouds in the process.
If she was this lively, then most likely she was fine.
“Stop that… I said stop it, Henri!”
“Quieten down. And stand up. We’re going to search for an exit.”
“Eh… an exit?’
“Did you knock your head on the way down? We fell in here together, remember?”
Pointing upwards, he gestured towards the “sun” hanging in the sky.
“The ground up there is on the verge of collapsing at any moment. If something were to fall now, we’d be crushed flatter than a biscuit on a frying pan. We can’t stay here any longer.”
“But still… is even an exit?”
“Sure there is. If there isn’t, we’re done for. Therefore, we have to bet on there being one.”
Henri took a long and hard stare at Raishin that had some vague admiration mixed in it.
However, she still remained stubbornly obstinate and dishonest with her true feelings.
“… Please leave me here. If you’re going on, do so without me.”
Raishin chuckled wryly. Yaya was generally a pain to deal with, but Henri was also a pain to deal with, albeit in a different sense.
“Such a spoilt lady. However, even if you say no I’m going to have to bring you with me. After all, we—“
Raishin’s face turned serious.
“—will die here if we don’t act smartly.”