“D-did you just say we’ll die…?”
Henri glanced over at Raishin, fear flashing across her eyes.
“It’s just a possibility, mind you. Think about it. No one’s ever been told that such a large cavern like this exists underground. So it’s most likely a secret. And obviously, you could probably count the number of people who do know on one hand.”
“… It’s fine. I’m ok with that. If we were to die here, it will save a lot of hassle.”
“Stop being unreasonable. You’re exactly as hard-headed as she is.”
Henri’s shoulder twitched at that. Growing even more stubborn, she turned her back on Raishin.
Hugging her knees, she made herself smaller and ceased all movement, not moving even a single muscle.
“In any case, help will come. I will definitely not die.”
“You have quite the nerve to say you want to die. If help doesn’t come, what will you do?”
“Perfect. If help doesn’t come, then I will die here.”
At that moment, a large chunk of debris collapsed with perfecting timing. The impact sent vibrations through the ground and scattered sand from the slope all around.
Passing not even five metres from Henri, the debris disappeared down into the darkness.
If she had been hit directly by it, she would have died for sure. Even if she had been grazed by it, the result would surely have been the same.
Taking a closer look, he could see Henri’s face had turned pale, and she was trembling slightly.
Raishin continued to observe her, all the while formulating a plan in his head. Eventually, he opened his mouth to speak.
“I just remembered something. A long time ago, there were several thousand people buried alive in this cave.”
“This site is a large facility for magic arts. This cave itself is a colossal magic device. In order to protect this secret, the workers who worked on this were buried alive upon completion to seal their lips. Incidentally…”
“The people left down here resorted to cannibalism to survive. They tore apart each other’s flesh, pulled out intestines, drank the blood and crunched the bones.”
Henri grabbed on to her knees even tighter as unnatural strength flowed through her fingers.
“Because they threw away their humanity, eventually the world rejected them— they became monsters. Eventually, after a long period of time, there was only one monster left…”
“… W-what happened then?”
“Even now, he still roams this labyrinth. Searching for his next prey…”
The fire in Raishin’s lamp flickered unsteadily. Because of his earlier story, even Raishin himself got goosebumps and felt the hair on his neck stand on end.
“Tha… that’s just a clichéd horror story. You made it up.”
“Oh really? Then you should try to strain your ears a little. If you listen carefully enough, you can hear the sound of the monster crawling about. There, from down below—“
Abruptly cutting his sentence short, Raishin whipped around faster than a bullet.
“… W-what’s wrong?”
“Shh… Can’t you hear something?”
Henri gulped, drawing her thighs close as she shrank her body even further.
“There… it’s faint, but…”
“Eh… wai—… I don’t like this… Stop that….”
Henri screamed, covering her head with her hands.
“I’msorry I’msorry I’msorry I’msorry I’msorry—“
Henri was crying in a half-crazed state. Raishin was surprised by how effective his plan had been, succeeding far beyond his expectation.
“… No, I mean, I’m sorry. That was a joke. You don’t have to be that scared.”
“It’s just an altered version of an old horror story told in my hometown. I’m just a transfer student with bad grades. Because of that, I didn’t know this place existed. Or rather, I couldn’t have known about a place like this.
“T-that’s so cruel! It’s inexcusable! I thought I was going to piss myself!”
“A young lady from a noble household should say something like ‘piss’.”
As he thought, Henri was scared of death. She wanted to push pain and fear far away.
In that case, perhaps it was possible for him to get her to open up about why she was so intent of committing suicide.
In this world, there were people who were denied the chance at life even if they wanted to live on—
But he didn’t intent to preach to her along those lines.
Raishin himself had harboured thoughts of following after his family immediately after losing them. Living on was tough, all he wanted to do was to give up on everything and just end it all. Once someone had steeled themselves to that extent, no amount of preaching would be able to undermine their resolve. The person that had changed Raishin’s mind— given him a renewed purpose for living was his brother, who ironically was the same person who gave him the idea of entertaining suicide.
Revenge had become the reason for Raishin to go on living.
Therefore, in place of preaching to her, Raishin decided to take the soft approach.
“I don’t know what will happen once you pass into the next world, neither am I even sure that there’s a next world. But if there is, it’s probably as dark as it is in here, gloomy, and full of dead people.”
“Someone as scared of ghosts as you are shouldn’t pass on to the next world by your own volition.”
“I… Even I…. am scared… of dying…”
As he thought, Henri wasn’t someone who ‘wanted to die’.
So there should be another reason for her continued attempts at suicide; maybe it was more like she had to die…?
“In any case, don’t fret. I’m here with you now. Even if it’s just me, at the very least you’re not alone anymore. We’ll look for the exit together, and I promise I won’t let you die so easily.”
Henri uneasily raised her head.
For an instant, the look on her face triggered the image of his sister’s face inside Raishin’s memories.
“My partner is the extremely jealous type. Once she finds out I’m in all alone in here with another woman by ourselves, she’ll move heaven and earth to chase us down. That’s why it’s going to be fine. Help will definitely arrive.”
Henri looked downwards, before finally nodding her head.
It was finally the first honest gesture she had made since Raishin first met her.
“Alright then. Let’s go.”
He extended his hand to pull her up.
Henri hesitated. However, while she was fearful of men, it looked like the fear of her current predicament won out. Gingerly extending her hand, like she was stretching it out towards a mad dog, she grabbed onto Raishin’s.