Depths of the Otherworldly Labyrinth - Chapter 18
Depths of the Otherworldly Labyrinth
Chapter 18: The Poisoned Two
After escaping the Labyrinth, I made a beeline to the hospital.
Without hesitation, I chose to enter the largest hospital in Varte. I went in to have Dia’s body examined; he had a massive loss of blood, had used magic on the verge of death, and had aggressively mended his wounds.
The doctor informed me that he needed to be hospitalized. I agreed to the hospitalization option, but I panicked when I saw the large sum of money needed for the treatment. I managed to pay the advance, but for the final sum, I didn’t have that much on hand.
I promptly went and sold the things I had in my ‘Item List’ to make money.
—and the money problem was quickly solved.
The magic stone that Tida had dropped turned out to be one of exceptional value.
Apparently, that magic stone was much purer than the highest recorded magic stone, basically unprecedented. Even government officials came and attended the final negotiation at the time of exchange—and despite the painful length it took to process the whole ordeal, Tida’s magic stone was safely exchanged for a large amount of money. I immediately returned to the hospital and paid the whole bill.
Thus, Dia was prevented from being kicked out, which was a relief. After paying, the receptionist took me straight to his room.
Being the largest hospital of the country, the rooms were naturally of the finest quality. While indeed it was a wooden building, it was thoroughly cleaned; hence, I couldn’t complain in terms of sanitation. Although there was still a world of difference compared to the hygiene standard of my original world, it was quite good by the standards of this world.
Inside the room, I spotted some simple equipment for nursing care and magical devices I had never seen before. Techniques to heal magically were quite well-developed in this world, so those devices must be for the purpose of supporting those techniques.
Beige curtains swayed in the wind, and a bed was placed beneath them. On that bed, Dia was lying asleep. His perplexion looked much better, all thanks to the doctor’s treatment.
Beside the bed, there was an elderly doctor sitting in a wooden chair. The doctor noticed me and then called out.
“Ah, you must be Dia-san’s associate. I hope the payment is all sorted out, yes?”
“I’m sorry to have caused you concern. I’ve cashed in my belongings, so all is good now.”
“Excellent. Now, I would like to describe Dia-san’s condition in detail, if that is alright with you.”
The doctor brought in another wooden chair, urging me to sit down. I sat in it and listened quietly.
“I will start from the beginning… First, the missing right arm cannot be put back together. Even with the best magic in the most optimal environment, fully reattaching a lost limb would be too difficult. Too much time has passed since the dismemberment, and the wound has been mangled by the forceful magical healing. I know you are really concerned about Dia-san’s right arm, but I am afraid that you have to give up…”
I bit my lip.
I had no clue about the level of medical care in this world, but seeing it was a world with magic and all that, I couldn’t help but hold out for a ray of hope. However, even that seemed to be a pipe dream. If it were that easy to heal a missing limb, there wouldn’t be adventurers who had lost an arm or a leg walking around the town.
“Next, there is a slash wound on the torso, extending from the shoulder to the waist. This one will leave a huge scar. The cause of the scar is the recovery magic that Dia-san herself performed. The magic that she constructed on the verge of death couldn’t repair all the damage.”
“…A scar, is it? That’s okay.”
“Hm? Well, if you say so… Next point, then. The next thing that we worry about is the deficiency of magic power purification due to blood loss. This can be treated with a special diet, and in the worst-case scenario, we can manage the treatment with the proper magical equipment. It will take about a week for Dia-san to fully recover, give or take.”
Magic power purification deficiency? Maybe he means a slow recovery of MP?
I read in the library that blood and magic power are closely related and that symptoms like this exist in similar cases. Seeing as I have little knowledge in the area, there is nothing I can do but believe in what the doctor says.
“Dia is in your care.”
“I understand. And last but not least, there is a concern that the loss of the right arm may cause an imbalance between the body and mind. This will undoubtedly be quite a shock for Dia-san as an explorer, seeing that it will interfere with her ability to use the sword and build up magical power internally.”
“I’m sure it would…”
“I think the two of you should think it over and decide what to do from now on—that is all I can say. For now, we will assume that Dia-san will be hospitalized for one week. If you consider undertaking rehabilitation, please ask the receptionist, as you will need to go through a separate procedure.”
My heart grew heavier the more I was confronted with the results that I, to be honest, had expected.
“—Oh, one last thing. Are you sure you are all right, Christ-san? I understand that your wounds are already mended with recovery magic, but you look like you are in a lot of pain.”
“…I am swell. I’m just feeling down because of a separate reason.”
I didn’t lie. Both my HP and MP were already recovering naturally, and there was nothing wrong with me physically, either.
But whether it was simply because my body was built strong or whether it was because something the System thingie had tampered with in my body—I couldn’t determine.
“Don’t push yourself too hard. Excuse me, then.”
“Thank you very much.”
The doctor finished up and left the room.
I watched him leave in my chair. The room instantly became quiet, with only the sound of the wind coming through the window.
“—Holy Magic, «Cure Full».”
A voice was heard from behind me, and a warm light filled the entire room.
“Hah. That old man is exaggerating. Sure, I got my balance off, but it’s not a problem.”
Dia, having raised his body on the bed, used magic right away. I pointed to the light motes, then asked, “Is this—”
“I’m sorry, Christ. I’ve been hiding this magic from you this whole time…”
Dia bowed his head.
I felt like running away from seeing him. I knew about it, and I let him hide it. However, for Dia, he must have felt he had been concealing the magic that could determine the life or death of his companion on his own accord. It didn’t seem he would raise his head readily.
“N-no…it’s okay, Dia! I mean, yeah, I was surprised, but that’s all. There must be a reason for you to hide it, after all.”
“Reason… reason, eh. It’s just a stupid reason…”
Saying so, Dia raised his head slightly and juggled around the magic light like it was some kind of beanbag.
“I was saved thanks to your magic. I’m not in a position to complain. I just wish you will use it again whenever needed from now on.”
“No, I’ll keep using it. From here on, I will always use it. I’ve decided so.”
Dia declared it strongly and crushed the light in his hand.
—He will keep using the magic he refused to use till now.
* * *
* * *
Magic that he refused to use up until he was one foot in his grave… What’s the reason for him to make that decision?
I might know. My eyes fell to Dia’s missing right arm before I knew it. Dia noticed it, then spoke to me calmly.
“…This isn’t the reason, Christ. I was prepared to lose a limb or two since we are delving into the Labyrinth, after all. So, don’t look so sad because of this arm. I can’t stand it if you’re in pain because of me.”
“But it’s your dominant arm…! Without it, you can’t hold a…!”
He spoke as if it was nothing. If anything, it was me that cared more. I, however, couldn’t be as detached. I spoke up, but Dia himself interrupted my words.
“—I’m done with the sword.”
“I have the ‘Holy Magic’, after all. It will take some time before I can catch up with my old skills, but… Well, as you can see, I’ve no problem using it.”
Dia continued to speak, disregarding me.
“If anything, this serves as a good opportunity for me to focus on my magic. It’s perfect, since I need to rework my fighting style and my mindset. Right… Pondering about all these things while I rest sounds like a good idea.”
“H-hold on, what?”
It was an answer that seemed to have been a complete 180-degree turn from his previous statement—an exact opposite of the mindset from before.
As if he was hit by a spell… Like how I changed after the use of the ‘???’ Skill…
It was bizarre to see him give it up so easily, with how adamant he had been about the sword. If it was the result of a change of mind after calmly considering it, then it was good and all. However, I doubted Dia was the kind of person to think realistically. It was disconcerting to see Dia being so calm about it.
Dia’s eyes were full of despair and emptiness as he gazed at his severed arm at the time. And yet, I couldn’t see any of those emotions in his eyes.
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I don’t think it was a lack of observation on my part. I am not a good judge of people, but Dia is still one of those people who is just that easy to understand.
Sure enough—Dia really seemed to have given up on the sword.
Would it be apt to say that a life-threatening situation had changed his way of thinking?
That was quite a common story in books and stories. However, actually witnessing it in real life made me a little ill at ease, as if I had misplaced a button on my shirt.
“What’s wrong, Christ?”
“…No, if you’re okay with it, Dia, then I’m with it too. For now, you need to take a good rest… Don’t concern yourself with the bill; stay as many days as you need. Ah, that’s right! You know what, Dia?! When I sold off that Tida guy’s magic stone, I made a massive amount of money, you know!”
I reported to him on the result. Since one of Dia’s goals for delving into the Labyrinth was money, I was sure he would be pleased by that great achievement.
“Huh, I see. But you should take care of it all, Christ. I’m still bedridden, and I don’t need it right away. If anything, you should use my share if you need it.”
“…Eh, but didn’t you need the money, Dia?”
“Someday, I will. But not right now.”
The firm will that I had previously seen in his eyes was absent. I couldn’t feel his unwavering persistence in his words.
Just what kind of emotional transition did Dia go through? The most likely explanation was that he gave up something important when he lost his arm.
“What I need now is rest, you see… But just you wait, Christ. I’ll be up and running soon. Although, it pains me that I can’t help you until then…”
Dia’s expression really showed how broken-hearted he was. That was the Dia I knew: the Dia who trusted me for nothing and looked apologetic for not being able to help me.
“No, without you available, I’m thinking of taking a break from exploring the Labyrinth. I mean, it would be too much for me…”
“…That’s not true.”
Unexpectedly, Dia disapproved of what I said. There was a firm will in the way he looked. However, I couldn’t discern what lay behind that will.
“I believe you can navigate the Labyrinth on your own, Christ. I know how you were terrified on the first day. But you’re okay now, Christ. You are all right.”
Dia said that I would be fine alone. I was puzzled by how confident he was with his statement.
“I’m by myself…?”
“You can slay monsters on your own, Christ, and you provide mostly everything by yourself. Actually, let me ask you instead: why did you take me as your companion, even though you’re already so strong…? It always bugged me out, but I didn’t dare to ask you. After all, I needed you, Christ…”
Why did I use Dia?
Well, it’s because… he has the talent…
That is true. But now I can say for sure that it is not the only reason. The main reason was that I didn’t want to go into the Labyrinth alone.
“I’m a… coward, Dia… I don’t feel safe all by myself…”
“Listen to my words, Christ. You are strong. This is a good time for it, Christ. I want you to reassess your own strength. And then, I want you to make up your mind, whether you really need me or not. Otherwise, I… I’m…”
I could tell that Dia had his own doubts and distress, and he was laying them bare to me.
Being exposed to his straightforward feelings, I decided to accept him sincerely.
“…I got it. I will try going alone. I can’t say for sure how far I can go, though.”
“Yeah, I’m relieved to hear that. I’d hate to bog you down, Christ. You have your own dreams, after all.”
When I promised him so, Dia smiled. It was a heartfelt smile with no hint of hidden meaning.
I could tell that he was earnestly thinking about me and was pleased with my growth. Dia then continued talking.
“Right. Please use this. I have no use for it any longer.”
Saying so, Dia snatched his propped-up sword and threw it to me. I panicked and grabbed it from the air, then checked the sword’s name on the ‘Display’.
—Araith Household’s Treasured Sword.
The sword was supposed to be a sentimental item for Dia.
“I’ll be happy to, but are you sure? Are you really giving—”
This was nothing as simple as handing over a weapon; I knew that for sure.
“It’s fine. If that sword can protect you in my stead, I will be happy.”
Dia didn’t seem to hesitate. If anything, his will was as firm as a rock.
“…Thanks. I will keep this for now.”
Obviously, it would serve more purpose for it to be lent to me than having it in a bedridden patient’s possession. There was no reason for me to refuse.
I looked at the sword carefully. It was a well-worn, old-fashioned sword. It was engraved with silverwork that prioritized practicality but did not interfere with it. It was a simple yet beautiful one-handed sword.
【Araith Household’s Treasured Sword】
Attack Power: 5
Add attack power equivalent to 20% of the user’s Dexterity.
“—I* will definitely protect Christ and Christ’s dream. Definitely.”
While my eyes were glued to the sword, I heard Dia mumble—it seemed to be more of a self-monologue than him speaking to me.
Rather than what he meant to say, I was more intrigued by how feminine the tone he talked in was.
“Welp, I need to catch some Zs… I hope I can spring back up quickly, though…”
Dia, however, acted like nothing just happened and laid down in the bed.
I must have misheard it…
I would have liked to talk some more, but Dia himself said he needs the sleep to heal, which means we can’t talk again for today. Even if I wanted to bring the subject up, doing it the day after sounds like a better idea.
“Got it. You rest as much as you need, Dia. While you do, I’ll see how far I can go by myself. I’ll report back to you in a few days.”
Leaving those words, I left the hospital room.
Then, as I walked down the hospital corridors, I began to calculate the plan for my solo Labyrinth challenge.
I didn’t devise it out of half-hearted measures and excuses that time, as I really calculated the means I could use with my true abilities. We needed to show each other that an injury of this degree wouldn’t change anything between us, Dia and me.
I believed that is what Dia wanted from me.
—The morning of the next day.
I was standing alone in front of the Labyrinth.
My physical condition was green. I thought I would suffer some side effects from having my Max HP reduced, but that was not the case. I was on top of my shape. Both my HP and my MP had recovered to their maximum by that morning. After all, I didn’t bear any fatal wounds, for what it was worth.
I was ready to go.
My aim was to quickly return to my original world. Not to mention, I had a promise with Dia. There was no way I would die.
I hadn’t been alone ever since the first day I came to this world. I could still vividly recall the events of that day, but I was confident that this would not be a repeat of it.
I could no longer afford to cower down like a child when I had to think about my future.
Up until that moment, I had challenged the overleveled adversaries like I was in some vidya, but there really was no necessity for it.
‘Parameters outside of parameters.’ I strengthened my heart with those words and stepped forward.
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I dived into the entrance of the Labyrinth.
『Sixth Day Starts』