With a spaced-out look, the young girl stares at the golden lizard.
Her eyes are vacant, hidden behind her long bangs.
And just like that, the girl takes off, running.
Caught off guard by her reaction, the golden lizard—Fáfnir—looks surprised.
「―――What!? Hey, wait a moment, you Pathless girl!」
She darts off in a dash.
Making a hole in the wall, and conjuring up a staircase on the ground, she runs away by any means necessary.
Fáfnir, with an air of desperation, chases after her.
「Wait! I do not intend to harm you!」
At his words, the girl abruptly stops.
She quickly hides in the shadow of a nearby stone.
Peeking out from behind the stone, she squints at the golden lizard.
「Ah, yes, it’s true! First off, this is my dungeon. If I wanted to kill you, I would have done it from the beginning.」
Still, the girl does not lower her guard.
And that’s to be expected.
Just a moment ago, someone who could see her was trying to kill her.
She isn’t naive enough to easily believe someone.
And so, Fáfnir decides to change his approach.
「Oh well, let’s try this then. Here, this is a magic stone—a sign of friendship. You like ores and magic stones, don’t you? I’ve been watching you since you entered my dungeon.」
As Fáfnir speaks, a small, round, white magic stone appears at the girl’s feet.
It’s almost like a kidnapper saying, “I’ll give you candy if you come with me.”
It’s suspicious, to say the least.
Who would ever fall for such an obvious trick…?
「…….I can have it?」
――――There is one.
The girl is now looking back and forth between the magic stone and the lizard.
「Yes. If a magic stone is not enough, I can give you as many jewels and gold as you want.」
With that, the girl’s face lights up.
「Thank you, Mr. Lizard!」
The caution she showed just a while ago is gone. Clasping the magic stone, she toddles over towards the lizard.
It’s incredibly easy.
It’s not hard to guess who she takes after.
Somewhere in a dungeon, an Earth Dragon indulging in a lazy nap is probably sneezing.
「Are you a good monster, Mr Lizard? You won’t kill me? You can see me, right? You can hear me, right?」
「I am not ‘Mr Lizard.’ I am Fáfnir. Of course, I have no intention to kill you.」
The pocket-sized golden lizard replies, lifting his face with a ‘hmph.’
Because of his size, he naturally ends up looking up.
From afar, the voices of adventurers can be heard.
「…..For now, we can’t have a peaceful conversation here. Pathless girl, open the teleportation gate from earlier. I will set the destination.」
「Eh, okay……? What’s a teleportation gate?」
With a tilt of her head, the girl asks in confusion.
「Ah, you don’t know that either. Earlier, it was the thing that drove off the demon old man. Make that magic circle appear.」
「O-okay…… I’ll try.」
Despite her confusion, the girl manages to bring up what was referred to as the teleportation gate, similar to earlier.
「――The settings are good. Let’s go in. Oh, and don’t be surprised, alright?」
With that, Fáfnir passes through the teleportation gate.
The girl follows suit, stepping through the gate as well.
After a few seconds of light, the girl finds herself in a completely different location.
「Phew, now we can talk peacefully… We should have some time left.」
And then, she’s astounded.
In front of her, there’s a massive golden dragon.
The girl is startled and drops to her knees.
If she were a normal human, she’d surely have wet herself.
「Hey, hey, I told you not to be surprised…」
In an annoyed manner, the golden dragon sighs.
「Huh, this voice…… are you the lizard from earlier?」
「Indeed. That was my travel form, and this is my original form. Ah, it’s more convenient to move around the dungeon in that form. As for the location, this is the bottommost layer of my dungeon, my dwelling floor.」
Fáfnir explains all this in one breath.
The girl’s mouth drops open in a yawn.
「You’re big…… and pretty……」
Even compared to her small self, his presence was overwhelming.
Golden scales shimmering, eyes like precious gems.
He was a dragon that would captivate anyone who laid eyes on him.
「Well, sit down somewhere.」
Doing as told, the girl plops down on the floor.
Looking around, she realizes that the construction of this floor is also incredible.
Decorations of gold and jewels adorn the walls, built of white stone. Gold and silver treasures, gems and magic stones lay scattered here and there.
In the deepest part, there is a large platform made of gold, where Fáfnir is lounging.
「First, let’s introduce ourselves properly, Pathless girl. My name is Fáfnir. I am a Mineral Dragon and the lord of this dungeon.」
「Uh, nice to meet you?」
The girl looks around restlessly.
「Don’t be so guarded. As I said before, I have no intention of harming you.」
「Now, where to begin? Oh, yes, you didn’t know you were a Pathless, did you?」
She nods slightly.
「If it’s okay with you, could you tell me about yourself first? Anything will do. Why did you come to this dungeon? Please, tell me.」
At his words, the girl looks lost.
She opens her mouth, her eyes covered by long hair stare intently at Fáfnir.
「Wha- What’s wrong? If you don’t want to talk, you don’t have―――」
She clenches her fists in front of her chest and opens her mouth.
「I-Is that so…?」
Her forcefulness catches Fáfnir off guard.
What follows is overwhelming.
The girl speaks nonstop like a machine gun, until even Fáfnir, the listener, is at a loss.
It’s hard to tell the time in the dungeon, but surely more than half a day has passed.
However, he understands why she spoke so much.
He comprehends just how starved she was for conversation, just how lonely she had been.
Every now and then, he nods, uttering “I see” or “That makes sense” as he listens to her story.
How long did she keep talking?
「Yawn~… It’s like a dream to be able to talk this much.」
The room is filled with a girl who wears a satisfied expression, and a golden dragon with his head slightly in his hands.
Her initial caution has disappeared.
The girl has completely opened her heart to Fáfnir.
She’s too trusting.
It’s not hard to guess who she takes after.
「The more I hear, the more you seem like a mysterious creature…」
From her story, Fáfnir guesses that she was probably born in a dungeon in the Eld Desert
He had never heard of a dungeon there, but maybe a monster had built one without his knowledge.
However, he had never heard of a Pathless, a dungeon’s natural enemy, being born from a dungeon.
「Most likely, the master of the dungeon that gave birth to you was an extraordinary being.」
「The one who created me… You mean, my father?」
「Yes, you’re not wrong in thinking that. Not only that, but the faint magical power I can sense from you and your presence. I don’t know what your master is, but they’re surely a ‘monster’ greater than I am.」
「Yes, I apologize. I didn’t mean it in a bad way. Rather, you should be proud to have been born from someone with such power.」
By the way, one of the reasons why the Pathless girl was born is because Earth had drilled a side hole in Elibel’s dungeon, at the goal point of the ruins.
As a result of this irregularity and the mixing of magic from two dungeons that should never intersect, an “anomaly” was born in the form of a Pathless. However, Fáfnir has no way of knowing this.
「Now, I’ve heard your story, and it’s my turn.」
「Mr Lizard’s story?」
「I am not a lizard, I’m Fáfnir. Call me Fáfnir. If that’s too long, you can call me Fal. That’s what my followers call me.」
She nods slightly.
At last, Fáfnir opens his mouth.
「Let me start by saying, I noticed you the moment you entered my dungeon.」
「Yes, because in my dungeon, I can sense everything within it, even from here. Well, any dungeon master can do this. Among the countless presences in the dungeon, your magical power was clearly ‘alien’. That’s why I noticed right away. It felt like something unknown was writhing inside me.」
She tilts her head in confusion.
「I didn’t expect it to be a Pathless, though. Anyway, it’s good that I’m still in my “sane” state. If not, I wouldn’t be able to have a conversation like this. Besides, the fact that you’re here now is a stroke of luck for me.」
With that, Fáfnir begins.
「Let’s get to the point, Pathless girl. I have a request for you. That’s why I called you here.」
「I want you to bring the master of the dungeon who created you here.」
「The person who created me? Do you mean my father, like you mentioned before?」
「That’s right. If I believe your story, your master possesses great power. I want you to ask him to come here. My followers and I cannot leave this dungeon. With your ability, you should be able to connect dungeons and shorten the long travel distance.」
Fáfnir looks puzzled at the suddenly silent girl.
「Does that mean… you want me to leave?」
「It’s not that, but originally, you’re a monster from a different dungeon, so――」
「What do you mean?」
「I want to stay here! I want to talk more with Fal!」
It appears that I, Fáfnir, have become quite endeared to this young girl.
Perhaps she had been quite lonely until now. Well, if one listens to her story, it’s unavoidable, I suppose.
But this is problematic.
I am already pressed for time.
Somehow, I must convince her to bring the master of another dungeon here.
And not just any master. They need to be powerful, even stronger than I am.
However, the girl simply stares at me.
She grits her teeth, her long white hair veiling her eyes. Although I can’t see them, I’m sure they’re welled up with tears, on the verge of spilling.
Reluctantly, I, Fáfnir, propose a compromise.
「Sigh… fine. You can stay here for a while. Stabilizing your power, providing you with knowledge, all this will take time anyway.」
At my suggestion, the girl’s face lights up in a smile as radiant as a blooming flower.
She laughs, her voice resonating with joy as she darts around me.
Contrarily, I heave a large sigh.
What am I doing?
Being one of the Eight Great Dungeons and its master, relying on such a young girl…
「I will rest for a while. You should find a suitable place to sleep as well.」
…But it can’t be helped.
She is my hope.
My long-awaited Pathless.
If I train her from now on, she might be able to use her abilities more powerfully.
So powerful, in fact, that she might even be able to connect dungeons.
And the one she will bring here in the future.
A powerful dungeon master is my true hope.
Hurry and come.
Hurry… and kill me.
Waiting for the one who can kill me, I slowly drift off to sleep.
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