Chasing after the horned old man she just spotted, she stumbles upon a large structure.
It looks like a dome-shaped building.
There’s a grand gate at the front, seemingly tall enough to reach the roof.
Strong men are lined up in front of this gate, and amidst them, though fewer in number, there are also women.
Ah, some people are coming out.
They’re all in tatters, but they’re all smiling.
Looking closer, they are carrying large bags, and she can hear the sound of metal rubbing against each other from the bags.
「…What’s this line all about?」
Well, the line doesn’t matter.
The real issue here is the old man.
While watching adventurers gearing up to challenge Fafnir, she continues her search for the horned old man.
――――.There he is.
He’s just about to pass through the grand gate and enter inside.
The young girl chases after him, desperate.
Finally, a being she can communicate with, she has found.
Literally cutting through the line of adventurers, she plunges headlong into Fáfnir.
And then…she regrets it.
The young girl had no knowledge of what a dungeon was.
She had no one to teach her, so it couldn’t be helped.
Even if she heard people’s conversations on the streets, she didn’t understand the meaning of the words, so she couldn’t grasp what a dungeon truly was.
It’s full of monsters.
Left, right, ahead, all monsters.
She is going to die.
Even if she has the ability to create holes or stairs at will, this is impossible, she thinks.
The monsters in front of her are just that powerful.
Their magical power feels off the charts.
Wait, since when can she sense magical power?
Somehow, it feels like instructions on how to use it are naturally flowing into her head.
Well, that doesn’t matter now.
The issue is the monster in front of her, what is she going to do?
As she’s flustered, something unexpected happens.
The monster that appeared in front of her just walks right past her.
Just like the people she met in town, it walks past her, like she’s not even there, passing right in front of her.
「So the monsters here…can’t notice me either…」
Relieved, the girl restarts her search.
Every other monster she encounters after that also doesn’t notice her and simply walks past.
And then, after a while, she notices.
「Something about this cave…it’s hard to use my power…」
She tries to create passages, holes, and stairs, but they won’t form properly.
Even if they do, they’re not fully formed, or they vanish right away, the results are always unsatisfactory.
What does this mean?
She tilts her head, but of course, she doesn’t know the answer.
Anyway, she restarts her search, keeping her guard up.
While carefully observing, she realizes the dungeon is more stimulating than she could have imagined.
「Wow…what beautiful stones…」
She’s fascinated by the light magic stones and gems growing from the walls.
There are even things that look like gold coins and magic stones scattered here and there.
She can’t help but pick them up, drawn to their shimmer.
She, who can’t touch people or living beings, for some reason, can hold these minerals.
And she, for some inexplicable reason, is extremely interested in these minerals and magic stones.
Of course, it’s because of her origins, but she has no way of knowing that.
She continues her walk inside the dungeon, looking at various magic stones.
「Hmm…where could that old man be…?」
Despite moving forward, there’s no sign of him.
She hears a scream.
When she goes towards the direction of the sound, she sees a man and a woman struggling against a monster that looks like a werewolf.
Looking at the situation, they’re clearly at a disadvantage.
「This is… bad… what should I do?」
She looks around in a panic, but it seems like there are no other people around.
「Alright…here I go!」
In front of the wolf, the girl manifests a “wall”.
Well, given the situation where she can only exert her power to a limited extent, it’s more like a protrusion on the ground than a wall.
However, that protrusion trips up the monster, causing it to fall.
The adventurers wear expressions of surprise.
「This is our chance! Let’s run!」
The two adventurers take off running, heading her way.
The monster is trying to get up, but it’s wobbling, probably from the bad fall.
At this rate, they should be able to escape.
Watching the adventurers running toward her, the girl lets a relieved smile cross her face.
「…Um, are you alright?」
Then, as if to “pass right through” her, the adventurers took off.
“We’re saved”, “we’re lucky”, they say, but their voices quickly fade away.
The monster left behind also realizes it can’t catch up, and it turns on its heel, retreating into the depths of the dungeon.
Where there was noise just moments ago, now there’s silence.
「…Right, I see.」
The girl murmurs alone.
「They… can’t see me, can they…」
She needs to find that old man quickly.
She wants to talk. She wants to touch.
Thinking only of that, the girl resumes her search.
However, she doesn’t realize.
That there was something watching her.
And the girl didn’t know.
What kind of existence she was to the humans.
What kind of ill will would be directed towards her when the humans discovered her existence.
After a while, the girl finally found the old man she was looking for.
The old man, wielding a large sword, was fighting a wolf monster.
――――There he is, the old man.
Without thinking, the girl opens her mouth, captivated by the scene before her.
Even from the girl’s perspective, the demon old man was overwhelming.
A wolf monster, ten times the size of the old man, is being cornered one-sidedly.
And it’s not just one.
A horde of massive wolves, numbering in the tens, are being decimated without resistance.
Eventually, the last wolf is beheaded and falls.
「Hmm, so that’s all. But a Lesser Fenrir appearing on the first level… These creatures shouldn’t show up until twenty floors down or more…」
He mutters something, but the girl doesn’t care.
She simply approaches the old man innocently.
To the side of the old man who can see her.
「―――Hmm? Oh, you’re the child from the plaza, aren’t you? What are you doing here?」
The old man looks surprised as he looks her way.
「I came to see you!」
「Well, you came to see me… this is a dungeon, you know? It’s not a place for children to enter, let alone how you slipped through the “lid”―――」
The girl grips the hem of the old man’s clothes tightly.
Seeing this, the demon old man—Linwu sighs deeply.
「…Well, it can’t be helped now. Let’s end our dungeon exploration here.」
「I’ll escort you back to town. I have to hand you over to your parents.」
「……I don’t have parents.」
From the beginning, the girl doesn’t even know where she was born.
When she became aware, she was in a dark cave.
However, it seems that Linwu misunderstood her words.
A remorseful expression crosses his face.
「I see… An orphan, huh? I’m sorry for you. Ah, I understand. I’ll take you to an orphanage. Luckily, I have a lot of connections in the royal capital. I’m sure I can arrange for someone to take care of a little one like you.」
She didn’t understand what an orphanage was, but she understood that the old man intended to take her somewhere.
That’s why she pleaded desperately.
「I don’t want to go to such a place! I want to be with you, sir! I want to talk with you!」
Hearing this, Linwu shows a troubled expression.
An expression that seemed to say, ‘I don’t know what you like about me.’
However, with the girl’s next words, Linwu’s expression changes.
「I can’t be seen by other people! Only you can see me! They can’t even hear me!」
「…What did you say?」
Upon saying this, Linwu realizes.
He notices that the girl in front of him appears somewhat transparent.
Upon closer inspection, feeling the magical power, it’s weak but different from a human’s.
「I see, so you were a monster…」
The white-haired girl tilts her head.
As if to ask, what is he talking about?
Seeing this, Linwu wears a sad expression.
Among low-level undead, there are some who are unaware of their own death, wander as if they were still alive.
Linwu thought that she might be a tragic type of Wraith.
In that case, he decided to offer her a funeral immediately.
Linwu has knowledge of purification magic for undead.
He gently places his hand on the white-haired girl’s head.
Reassuring her, comforting her.
「Fear not, little one. You are not alone. I will now return you to where you belong.」
Saying this, he imbues his hand with magic.
As gently as possible, so she won’t suffer.
With a resounding smack, the girl knocks his hand away.
She must have instinctively sensed that something was going to happen.
「I don’t want to be alone! I absolutely hate being alone! I… I…」
The next moment, her body glows.
As if to repel Linwu’s hand, a “wall” appears between them.
A physical wall, with mass.
「Wha…! This is―――!」
Surprised, Linwu exclaims.
Furthermore, it’s not just a wall.
Stairs emerge from the side walls, and a hole leading down appears from the floor, one after another.
「This phenomenon… could it be…」
With the sword in his hand, Linwu slashes through the wall that appeared in front of him.
On the other side, the white-haired girl stood in bewilderment.
「…Was that your doing?」
As if to confirm, Linwu asks.
「If, if I surprised you, I’m sorry. That just now, it wasn’t on purpose―――」
Before she could finish her words, a blade was pointed at her face.
「So that’s how it is, child. You’re not a ‘Wraith’. You’re a ‘Pathlessr’…」
Saying this, the old man raises his sword, a murderous intent accompanying his gesture.
His expression, somewhere in it, was filled with sorrow.
「Wha, what’s wrong, sir…」
Trembling, the girl shakes.
「I see… You don’t even know what kind of being you are. Let me enlighten you then. Little girl, you’re a monster known as a ‘Pathless’.」
Her eyes, hidden beneath her bangs, widen in response to the authoritative tone.
「’Pathless’ is a monster that interferes with dungeons, stealing their magic, altering their layout. They can be considered the nemesis of both the dungeons and adventurers alike. After all, they disrupt the very existence of a dungeon and ruin the efforts of the adventurers who aim to conquer it. I don’t know why you’re ‘invisible’ to others, but―――」
And then, Linwu delivers a harsh truth.
「…The unwritten rule among adventurers is to exterminate ‘Pathless’ on sight. You’re nothing more than a blight to us adventurers and the dungeons themselves.」
「What… what does… that mean?」
Bewildered, the girl looks to Linwu, her expression pleading for understanding, for hope.
「In simpler terms… I must end your existence―――I must kill you.」
With these words, Linwu raises his sword.
「It’s a joke, right? Sir…」
The one person who could see her, was now trying to kill her.
The girl couldn’t bear this reality.
「…If you bear a grudge, it should be against your fate for being born a monster.」
「No… no, please…」
The murderous intent glaring down on her forces the girl to confront this bitter reality.
She rejects it, despises it, despairs of it.
As she tears at her hair, the girl roars out.
The next instant, a bluish-white magic circle appears beneath Linwu’s feet.
「This is―――a teleportation circle!? You can even interfere with Fáfnir… Unbelievable…!」
Before his surprise has a chance to settle, a light envelops Linwu. .
In his luminescent state, Linwu turns his gaze back towards the girl.
「Remember this, Pathlessr! As long as you are a monster, we adventurers have a duty to hunt you! The Guild will soon learn of a Pathless appearing in Fáfnir! Skilled adventurers will come to this here to hunt you down!」
At his words, the girl trembles with a jolt.
「You are my――――」
Before he could finish, Linwu disappeared in a flash of light.
「Haa… haa… haha, haha.」
Alone, the girl slumps weakly onto the ground, a dry laughter emerging.
「Haha… hahahaha… hahahahahahahahahahaha!! AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!」
Like a broken alarm clock, the girl laughs for a while―――then continues crying.
What even is this world?
All I wished for was…
How long did she stay like that?
Suddenly, a rustling noise sounded from behind.
「Hmm, so it’s you. The small creature that has intruded into my dungeon.」
A voice directed at her.
She looks towards the voice.
There was a tiny, golden lizard small enough to fit in the palm of one’s hand.
「Nice to meet you, white-haired girl. I am known as ‘Fáfnir,’ the lord of this dungeon.」
And so, the girl meets a dragon.
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