Chapter 13: Entering the Dungeon
Anastasia and the others set off for the nearest dungeon, escorted by Brandt.
After leaving the city, they followed the road into the mountains. They came across a gaping hole in a steep hillside after walking for a while. It appears to be a cave dungeon.
“That is unusual—you’re not by yourself.”
There was a gatekeeper at the dungeon’s entrance, but he seemed to know Brandt and was very friendly to him.
“Yeah—today I’m on escort duty; they’re first-year students, but they can’t enter the dungeon alone, so I’m accompanying them.”
“Well… I see you’ve begun to look after the juniors… Best wishes—have a safe journey.”
The gatekeeper allows them through with a smile.
A dim, bluish-white light illuminates the dungeon’s ceiling and walls.
Anastasia had never visited this dungeon before.
She expected it to be dark inside because it is a cave, but the ceiling and walls are illuminated by a faint, blue-white light. It’s surprisingly bright and appears to be bright enough for a full moon night.
Shin the Hero had avoided a number of dungeons because he felt [there was no point in entering a dungeon that was half dead].
Anastasia didn’t have time to worry about such things back then. But now that she thinks about it, she’s not sure what he meant by [half dead].
It’s been a long time since Anastasia has been in a dungeon. In terms of this life, it’s also the first time.
Brandt seems used to it and goes in without hesitation.
Hoyle was most likely no stranger to dungeons. He was somewhat nervous but did not seem afraid.
Regina, on the other hand, seems uneasy and nervous as she enters the dungeon for the first time.
“Do you happen to have any friends, Senpai? It’s unusual for him to not be alone.”
Hoyle opens his mouth, either to release the tension or to be sarcastic.
“That’s right—the first class of third-year students are all from the Magic Kingdom’s aristocracy, and many of them look down on hunters.”
“…Isn’t it against the law to bring up your identity?”
Regina, perhaps a little less tense now, asks a question.
“It’s against the law to reveal your identity, but that doesn’t mean you can hide your past—many nobles from the same country knew each other even before they came to the academy, so they’ll be able to tell others what’s going on—it’s difficult not to know what they’re thinking on the inside after three years, but they try to keep up appearances.”
Brandt replies lazily.
“Well, you have to develop your identity when you’re just starting out—because I’m on scholarship, it’s easy to label me as a commoner, and I was once a target.”
“Huh…? Is Senpai a commoner?”
Hoyle asks in astonishment.
“Yes, I’m a commoner with no surname.”
“I-I thought you were from the nobility… I’m sorry for poking you.”
When Brandt confirmed, Hoyle’s demeanor shifted, and he apologized.
“…You appear to have a negative perception of the nobility. I can’t say I blame you. Nobles, on the other hand, come in all shapes and sizes. You should be careful not to make assumptions that will catch you off guard.”
With a wry smile, Brandt tries to warn calmly.
“…So, where do you intend to work, senpai?”
“…I’ve received a few inquiries from court magicians—at the moment, my first choice is the Zigwald Empire.”
To Hoyle, who didn’t seem to get the message, Brandt responded with a single loud exhale, but without saying anything specific.
“The Zigwald Empire isn’t just the continent’s most powerful—It is said to have formed by slowly absorbing smaller nations.”
Regina muttered in a slightly muffled voice.
“Yes. I’ve heard that this developing country is moving toward meritocracy. I did some research and discovered that, unlike his warmongering predecessor, the current emperor is a pacifist. But, he does appear to be obsessed with the Holy Kingdom of Selestia, which is concerning.”
“Well, the hero was born in the Holy Kingdom of Selestia. I believe the first hero appeared over 300 years ago. The royal family is said to be descended from a hero. Because the Zigwald Empire is a new country, there’s a possibility that it wants to be associated with such a history.”
Anastasia shudders at the mention of her homeland, the Holy Kingdom of Selestia, which the Zigwald Empire once fought against.
Despite losing some territory, the Holy Kingdom of Selestia has never fully surrendered.
In an attempt to capture it somehow, the Zigwald Empire has sent its princess to the Holy Kingdom of Selestia as a queen.
However, the princess dies too soon, leaving no heir to the throne, and the consequences are disastrous.
“Speaking of the empire…”
Anastasia makes a soft sound.
Anastasia remembers that in her past life, the Zigwald Empire set up the Third Prince to be engaged to the First Princess of the Holy Kingdom of Selestia, but a monster outbreak killed the Third Prince in battle.
It was the first time a member of the royal family or royal house had been killed in battle, and his death sparked a sense of crisis in many countries.
The Third Prince, whom Anastasia had only seen in portraits, is an indelible stain on her memory.
“Zigwald’s Empire… A court magician is quite a career for a commoner—well, I’d rather be a carefree hunter than a court magician .”
“It takes dignity to be a court magician—don’t worry; you won’t be a part of it.”
The conversation between Hoyle and Regina draws Anastasia back from her thoughts.
Regina seems to be completely relaxed as she pokes Hoyle as usual.
“Well, now that you’re a little more at ease, I believe it’s time for them to come out.”
Brandt’s voice instantly makes the air tense.
Regina and Hoyle remain silent, and Anastasia braces herself for the monsters to appear.
From the depths of the dungeon, the low roar of a beast can be heard.