When she becomes aware, she is simply there.
The first thing she experiences is a peculiar sensation.
It’s as if two immense entities that should never mix have suddenly merged. That’s the kind of feeling.
That sensation mingles, melds, and gradually forms an entity, a shape known as “she.”
At first, she has no idea where she is.
She struggles to her feet.
She looks around in confusion.
Nobody is there.
Walking a bit, she finds a magic stone of light.
Her reflection is seen in the light magic stone.
She uses the magic stone like a mirror to look at herself.
What she sees is a girl, white as snow.
She thinks to herself, I am white.
Her skin, her hair, the clothes she wears, everything is purely white.
However, the one exception is the color of her eyes.
They are a plain, brown color.
A modest hue that doesn’t seem to fit her appearance.
But she doesn’t dislike it.
In fact, she could even say she finds the modest brown color appealing.
「…Where… am I?」
It appears to be a cave, a dimly lit and chilly place.
No one is around as she looks around.
An indescribable unease assails her.
It’s scary. It’s lonely.
So, the girl walks.
With uncertain steps, she ventures deeper into the cave.
For some reason, being in this cave frightens her. But there’s also an odd sense of security.
It’s a mysterious feeling, a mix of reassurance and unease.
「Where am I…?」
No, more importantly, what am I?
Why am I in a place like this?
Her mind is filled with question marks.
There’s a rustling sound.
「…Who’s there? Is anyone there?」
What could it be? She thinks, and when she looks in the direction of the sound, she finds a swarm of ants.
She almost lets out a scream, but she holds it in desperately.
If she makes a noise, the ants will definitely notice her.
If she’s found, she’ll be attacked.
That’s what she thinks.
Then, she hears another voice.
『――――—Wah! What’s going on here?! Why are ants increasing so much?! 』
The voice sounds like a man’s, kind of careless.
Who could it be?
『Why don’t you come here for a moment?! Wait, where’s Ann?』
―――What is this?
It’s too dark to see.
But the voice is clear.
It sounds like it’s echoing directly into her mind.
『Hmm? What is this? This girl. Is she sleeping while wearing my molted skin? You- WAAHH! OhMyGosh! The ants are swarming at my feet! 』
―――Somehow, the voice is reassuring.
Strangely, that voice brings comfort to the girl’s heart.
There’s no logic to it.
Just by instinct, she feels comfort from this voice.
『Sigh… I came here because I found a strange ruin in the back, and there’s a strange increase in antlings… What’s going on…? Well, whatever. I’ll go back to the lower layers.』
The voice gradually recedes.
―――Wait, don’t go.
She instinctively leans forward.
But at that moment, one of the antlings turns towards her.
Danger, she thinks and reflexively tries to hide.
As she tries to hide and presses her body against the wall―――she passes through the wall.
She effortlessly slips through the wall and ends up in another unfamiliar corridor.
She looks around in confusion.
Where did the man with the voice go?
Where did the ants go?
「Where did… the man with the voice go」
Without understanding why, the girl began to walk again.
The corridor was straight and simple.
She kept walking, all the while fearing another encounter with those ants.
She found herself at a dead-end.
Patting the wall before her, she pondered if she should turn back.
Just as she decided to retrace her steps, the wall she touched morphed into a staircase.
「Eh… Huh? What… is this?」
Why a staircase suddenly appeared, she didn’t understand.
Yet, she figured that it might allow her to continue without having to backtrack.
And with that thought, she raced up the stairs.
And then――― she emerged outside.
The blue sky, the two suns, and the dust-filled wind enveloped her.
Gazing up at the sky, she voiced her admiration.
Looking back, the stairs she climbed had vanished.
「Where should I go, I wonder…」
Whose voice was that?
Where was that place?
「I want to meet the person with that voice again…」
Despite the multitude of unanswered questions, her aimless journey outside as a Pathless had begun.
From then on, the girl simply kept walking.
She didn’t know where she was going or how she was getting there.
Through forests and deserts, she just kept moving.
During her aimless journey, she realized a few things.
Firstly, there were those who could see her and those who couldn’t.
Mostly, monsters recognized her.
And they attacked her.
She desperately escaped.
In the process, she discovered a power she held.
She could create “holes” and “stairs.”
She realized this ability when she was attacked by an earthworm in the Fall Desert.
The terror she felt from the earthworm was even greater than from the ants, and she curled herself up, strongly wishing it would disappear.
The next moment, the earthworm vanished.
Looking around, she found a large hole before her.
Shocked at the disappearance of the worm, and next at the hole before her, she cautiously peered into it to find an endless darkness.
Then, after a while, a squelching noise echoed.
She was certain that the earthworm had fallen into this hole.
Curious, the girl again wished for a hole to appear.
And it did.
An immeasurably deep hole was created.
And when she wished for it to close, it did.
Next, she tried to see if she could create something other than a hole.
As a result, she found out she could create stairs and steps, passages, and more. It was a quite versatile power.
She could create these things as many times as she wanted.
After creating, she would feel out of breath, but oddly enough, after a while, she could use the power again.
It was as if she was receiving energy from somewhere.
What was this power?
It scared her.
She used this power to escape when attacked by monsters.
When flying monsters attacked, she entered a hole she created to avoid danger.
However, for some reason, humans could not recognize her.
People she occasionally passed didn’t notice her.
They behaved as if she wasn’t there.
Even if she tried to talk to them, they couldn’t hear her voice.
Even if she tried to touch them, her hand would simply pass through.
However, the holes and stairs she created could be recognized, even if she herself couldn’t be.
And rarely, there were monsters who couldn’t recognize her either.
She didn’t understand why.
And her questions remained unanswered.
“Because no one can answer,” she muttered to herself.
No one can hear her voice.
No one can touch her.
The girl was alone.
「What am I…?」
But there was no one to answer her questions.
Only the sound of the wind howling seemed to echo her words back to her.
For many months, the girl kept walking.
At first, she tried to find the cave she’d originally inhabited, but it was futile.
She had lost track of her path, didn’t even know where or how she had journeyed.
Despite being a creature known as a “Pathless,” she had no clue what she was, or where she was located.
And then, before she knew it, the girl found herself in the Hà Giang Empire.
She had headed towards the crowded places to alleviate her loneliness, even if just a bit.
Of course, no one noticed her.
They passed right through her, treating her as if she didn’t exist.
It was lonely.
She wanted to talk to anyone. She didn’t care who.
One day, she stood in the middle of the street.
Even if unnoticed, listening to the voices around her, watching the passing crowd, she eased her loneliness. Then, before her, someone halted.
「Wha? What are you doing standing in the middle of the road? It’s dangerous, lass.」
A raspy voice of an old man rang out.
Looking up, she saw an elderly man with horns growing out of his silver-haired forehead.
At first, she didn’t realize that he was speaking to her, so she ignored him.
「Oioi, ignoring me isn’t nice, lass. You, the white youngling, standing in the middle of the road like that, it’s dangerous.」
And so, for the first time, she realized someone was addressing her.
「――――Eh? You…can see me?」
Desperately, the girl raised her voice.
As if clinging on to him, she approached the elderly man.
And then―――her hand touched the man’s clothes.
She could touch.
She could be seen, heard, and touched.
「Can you see me? Can you? Can you hear my voice!?」
「Well, of course I can see you. Now, you better hurry home. This place is close to the ‘lid’ of Fáfnir. There are plenty of ruffians around. If you keep standing around absent-mindedly, they might take you away.」
Saying so, the old man walked away.
In an instant, he blended into the crowd and disappeared.
Don’t leave me alone.
「Ah… wait… please wait!」
Crying out, the girl desperately chased after the old man.
And so, she arrived at a place that would serve as a turning point for her.
One of the Eight Great Dungeons 『Fáfnir』
It is here, in this imposing place, that the girl is destined to meet a dragon.
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