༺ Cultish Nymph and Pluto’s Underground Labyrinth (2) ༻
Inside the prison, the cultist nymph, Paranoy, slowly spread her thighs open.
Was there anything else out there that could stimulate someone’s most primal senses than this action of hers? Any healthy man would inevitably have his gaze fixed on that arousing sight.
“What did you just say…?”
“Y-You have done me a great favor by saving my life. You even risked your own life by sucking out the spider venom with your mouth… S-So, I will give you, my comrade, what I have been guarding dearly like my own life.”
I couldn’t understand what the tied-up cultist, Paranoy, was trying to say to me. There was never a spider venom or anything of that sort, to begin with.
What did she plan to give to me?
I glanced down between her legs, wondering if a treasure might be hidden there, but I could see nothing in that place.
“Uh, a-are you trying to give me your virginity?”
Paranoy only swallowed her dry saliva, not answering anything back.
This silence…. Can I take it as an affirmation?
Holy shit! What the hell was this? Was this some kind of wicked honey trap that was mainstream in the cultist community or something?
“I’ve been treasuring and protecting this to one day offer it to the son of the Lord of Death… b-but this is all I have to offer you now.”
At Paranoy’s words, my face heated up, and blood rushed to my lower body; so much so that I thought my little brother was about to burst out of my pants at any moment.
What man could ever refuse a meal set up in front of him like this?
Of course, there was one type of man— the man who already had a lover.
For me, I already had Luna, who I treasured and cherished with all my heart.
Moreover, Paranoy had been imprisoned for so long that the state of her hygiene was extremely questionable. I was afraid I would catch some strange disease if I had sex with such a woman.
If only Paranoy’s hygienic condition had been a bit better, I might have seriously considered her offer. Despite being a foolish and idiotic cultist, she was pretty cute and befitted her identity as a member of the “Nymph” race.
So, after considering various factors, I had no choice but to refuse Paranoy’s kind offer.
“Paranoy, there’s no need for that.”
“R-Really? Phew… t-that’s a relief. You’re a big-hearted person, my comrade. I was short-sighted—”
Paranoy also breathed a sigh of relief, perhaps secretly fearing the idea of giving her purity to a stranger like me.
“Someday, if I can get out of here, I will repay the favor, dear comrade. You can count on it.”
It seemed like Paranoy still held onto the hope of escaping this underground prison. It was strange how she didn’t lose hope even in such a despair-inducing situation.
Wondering if there was some other trickery or scheme that the cultists were planning, I secretly glanced around, carefully observing the surroundings.
“So, is there any way to escape from here?”
“Huft, it’s not completely impossible. Those idiotic dogs of Mars offered me a proposal. If I’m willing to convert to a new faith, then they will set me free… or so they said.”
If she was willing to convert, they will set her free?
From my standpoint, I wondered if it was really okay to release a cultist like that…
“Did they really say that?”
“Yes, a man who looked quite important and high up the hierarchy personally told that to me, so it must be true. It’s mainly because pureblooded nymphs like me are desired almost everywhere; they want to make me one of their comrades. I-It’s ridiculous for them to think that I would betray Lord Pluto, but…”
“B-But still, if I just pretend to convert, I might probably be forgiven by Lord Pluto, right? It’s not like I’m actually converting, just pretending, so it might be okay—”
What a stupid and clumsy cultist…
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
After spending one week buried in the smell of books and elixirs—
Just as I began to feel bored, wondering if anything interesting would happen.
Are you there, Hassan of Samaria and Luna Knoxdotty?
We received an urgent message from the Mars guild. They came looking for Luna and me.
“Hassan, what’s going on?”
“I don’t know either.”
Was the guild works about to resume once again? Or was there perhaps a chance to hit some punks with my trusty club and earn some money on the sides? I secretly became excited at that thought.
I must have become addicted to the sensation of hitting something with the club without even realizing it. I went to the guild building, hoping I could at least smash some goblin heads or something of the sort.
Among the ruins of the broken guild building, some adventurers were gathered together while others could be seen arriving at the gathering like us.
Among the unfamiliar faces, the only person I knew in that bunch, Hippolyte, came up to us when she spotted us among the crowd.
“Oh, you’ve come.”
“What’s going on, Hippolyte? Why did you call all of us here like this?”
“Oh, well, um, ahem.”
Hippolyte seemed greatly flustered by Luna’s question, and after a small sigh, as if nothing had happened just now, she spoke.
“Oh, it’s you, Knoxdotty. Uhm, it’s nothing big. We just called you to witness the conversion ceremony.”
“We’re going to participate in the conversion ceremony? Really? Wow!”
Luna was very surprised as though this news was hard to believe for her.
Seeing her excitement, I couldn’t help but ask after lightly tapping her on the flank with my finger.
“Luna, what’s the conversion ceremony?”
“I don’t know either! But it must be something good and exciting! Holy shh!”
Seeing this scene, Hippolyte kindly explained after groaning to herself for a few moments.
“The conversion ceremony is an event to change the god or goddess one has sworn allegiance to. In the case of cultists, who believe in the false gods, five or more silver-tier adventurers should gather together to witness the ceremony.”
Silver-tier adventurers, huh?
At Hippolyte’s words, I looked around and saw several people wearing silver necklaces, including Lord Destroyer who was standing there with his twin great hammers on his waist and Hippolyte herself.
They all looked like seasoned adventurers. Holy fuck! I guess I’ll have to compete with these guys someday if I ever grew strong enough to get a chance to become a gold-tier adventurer.
Although I’ve grown rapidly recently, I still felt that I was unimaginably far behind compared to these silver-tier adventurers.
But looking at their flashing weapons, firm and bulging muscles, and cool-looking staffs, I felt a little intimidated in my mind.
I turned my gaze away from them and asked Hippolyte in a calm tone.
“But why did you call us to this conversion ceremony though?”
“Because you played a big role in subduing the cultists; I called you here as a special spectator. It’s not a big deal, to be honest. You don’t have to worry about it. You can just sit there and watch everything quietly.”
“I see. So, who exactly is converting here?”
“They’re coming as we speak.”
Just then, I turned my head slightly and saw them approaching from afar.
Thump— Thump— Creak— Creak— Creak— Creak—
A small wooden cage with wheels beneath it appeared among the adventurers.
There, tied up inside of it, was none other than Paranoy, the nymph cultist, in tattered clothes!
What the hell?
I was surprised to see her trapped inside like a monkey which was kept inside a small wooden cage in a cruel zoo.
A conversion ceremony? No way. Did that nymph really decide to convert? After being imprisoned for so long, did she also break down mentally?
Then Baltma, the one-eyed bald man sitting in a chair with a frown on his face, stood before us like a zookeeper.
“Well, here stands Demetra’s daughter, Paranoy, before all the gods and goddesses, and the witnesses gathered here. Today, Paranoy has renounced her faith in Pluto and pledged to live as a faithful servant of Vesta, the goddess of hearth.”
As Baltma finished speaking, the adventurers and eyewitnesses who had filled the space looked at each other and murmured with surprise in their eyes and voices.
Luna also quietly spoke to me, as if she had come to a realization of some sort.
“Someone said that it’s the cultist we met and captured at the lumberjack’s. But Hassan, why are you sweating so much? Are you feeling hot?”
Luna fanned me with her hand, as sweat started trickling down my head like an outpour of rain. She even breathed out with her mouth and blew a cool breeze toward me in an attempt to cool me down.
Although it was hot, the reason for me sweating like this was probably not just because of the hot weather.
“Paranoy, do you swear to live as a faithful servant of Lady Vesta from now on?”
Baltma asked Paranoy, who was trapped inside the cage. Paranoy started fidgeting as though she was unsure about what to do.
“If you don’t reply quickly, you will also have to be sent to the prison city. Do you know what will happen to a soft, weak nymph like you in that place?”
“W-What will happen?”
“Hehe, I don’t know either. You can tell us when you go there. Of course, only if you have the luxury of writing a letter or something, that is.”
Did Baltma’s threat work? Paranoy trembled as though she was a frightened mouse among giant feral cats and didn’t know what to do in such a situation.
Who could imagine that she was a sinister cultist while seeing that appearance of hers? Damn it! By now, I no longer knew who the bad guy was in this situation.
“Paranoy, do you swear? This is your last chance.”
Baltma asked again, directing his voice toward the cage. Soon, Paranoy answered with determination in her voice, as if she had made a big decision that could change everything for her, while closing her eyes tightly.
“Y-Yes, I swear! I swear!”
“Good, then try saying, ‘Pluto, you bastard’ out loud right now.”
“W-What? Y-You didn’t say that I had to say something like that!”
“If you really want to convert to a new faith, this is something you must say.”
Paranoy’s eyes moved uneasily as if wondering what to do in this situation. Her amber-colored eyes scanned through the faces of the crowd and soon met mine.
She screamed in a way that made me feel like she had finally made up her mind…
“P-Pluto, you bastard!”
I didn’t know what changed her mind after our eyes had met just now, but her shout was like a thunderous roar almost akin to a lightning strike that shot from the sky.
Who would have thought that the small body of a nymph like her could make such a loud noise? Anyway, after hearing her clear oath, everyone around her was satisfied and laughed out loud.
“Okay, then there’s one final hurdle left.”
“W-What? Mars’ bas— No, Baltma! It’s too different from what you’ve promised to me! I’ve done everything you asked for! Hurry up and let me go already!”
Paranoy growled as if she couldn’t understand anything at all. Hippolyte, who had been listening quietly with her arms folded in one corner of the crowd, stepped forward at that moment.
“Paranoy, the proselyte. You will join the labyrinth exploration team that is departing tomorrow and excavate Pluto’s ruins with them. Show us evidence of your conversion to your new faith and apostasy with that.”
“Y-You are telling me to excavate the ruins of Lord Pluto?”
“Yes, Pluto’s labyrinths are like temples for worshiping Pluto. If you steal the artifacts there and present them to us, we will recognize you as a free person.”
“I-I can’t do such a thing. Lord Pluto will curse me!”
“That’s not my concern. And it’s best not to have any other thoughts in the midst of your exploration. A cruel guard will be following you closely.”
Paranoy groaned and gritted her teeth as if she was indignant for being unjustly treated. But Hippolyte only loudly recounted her words, as if she didn’t care about what the little nymph was feeling right now.
“Departure is at dawn tomorrow. And the destination is the bronze-ranked labyrinth that has risen in the swamps of Acheron. I will now name the personnel assigned for the exploration mission.”
Hippolyte took out a scroll from her pocket and unfolded it from both sides. She scanned the words written on it and opened her mouth to announce the names.
“For the upcoming exploration of the bronze-ranked labyrinth, we have selected promising newcomers from within the guild. The chosen adventurers will receive the seal from me! At the forefront, we have Eilen’s little beast, Didier!”
“Haha, what an honor. I knew I would be chosen.”
As Hippolyte made her announcement, a short man stepped forward from within the bustling crowd.
He held a large double-edged axe in his hands while a steel plate was wrapped around his small body, giving him the impression of a great warrior.
He seemed quite skilled, but judging by the necklace around his neck, he was probably only in the bronze tier.
“I’ll give those monsters of the labyrinth a taste of my axe! Those bastards will pay for biting my leg off!”
I wondered why he was so angry, but then I saw that that dwarf’s left leg was actually a wooden prosthetic.
Even a guy with only one leg could become a good adventurer, huh? While I thought that to myself—
“Is that dwarf the one-legged Didier? The adventurer who single-handedly defeated a basilisk?”
“He’s more competent than I thought.”
“Maybe the one who will be promoted to the silver tier this year will be him…”
People around me murmured their evaluations of Didier, the one-legged dwarf. I didn’t know what was so impressive about him, but he must be quite remarkable if they were praising him so much.
“Ahem, quiet, please. Next, we have Velmina, the Witch of Frost from the lands of Corinthe!”
Velmina, a woman adorning a blue robe, stood up and accepted a small seal from Hippolyte’s hand just like Didier. Her long sky-blue hair looked refreshing and cute, but she seemed to be a bit haughty and arrogant. Since she was holding a small staff-esque stick in her hand, could she be a mage?
Compared to my club, it wouldn’t be appropriate to call what she was holding in her hands a stick. It was thin and flimsy and looked more like a magic wand than anything.
“I heard she graduated from the Ivory Tower as a top student?”
“And she’s able to use ice magic freely.”
“Wow, ice magic. Even if it’s not as strong as fire magic, it’s still high-level attack magic, isn’t it? And yet it’s hard to believe that she’s still a bronze-tier adventurer.”
“She’s probably still working her way up from the bottom.”
But despite my low evaluation of their kind, the blue-haired female mage seemed to be quite impressive in her own right. After all, mages were almost always considered to be highly skilled individuals, so this did not come as too much of a surprise to me.
It is said that someone who took magic as their profession and learned it from a place like the Ivory Tower, an institute of magical studies, was instantly considered to be on the same level as a silver-tier adventurer or even higher.
“And for the third member, we have… Luna, the d-daughter of Ideope— the shaman of superstition and violence.”
Luna jumped up in the air as if surprised that her name was being called. Of course, I was equally as confused as her and wondered what the hell was going on here.
Weren’t they just forming an Avengers team with human weapons for the Labyrinth conquest here? But why the hell was Luna being included there then? It felt like a Pomeranian was getting thrown in between a horde of muscular Pit Bulls. Wouldn’t she just get crushed?
“I-Is it really me—?”
Luna hesitated as if she couldn’t understand what was happening here, but eventually stood up and took the seal from Hippolyte’s hand like the others.
“Is she the young lady who’s been leveling up quite fiercely lately?”
“I heard that her karma points have gone up by three or four points in just a few months.”
“She looks much prettier than the rumors have painted her to be. I thought she was just some wild barbaric woman. She can be compared to the Young Lady.”
“Well, even so, the Count’s daughter is more—”
It seemed that various rumors about Luna were spreading without her knowledge. The day had come for Luna, who used to be beaten by goblins and wriggle around in the dirt, to be recognized by people.
I felt proud like a father who had raised his daughter well.
At that moment when I felt a sense of pride swelling up inside—
“Well then, for the last announcement… We’ll announce the leader of the labyrinth exploration party. Yes, there probably isn’t much I need to explain about this man…”
As soon as she said that she would announce the leader of this expedition, the excited murmurs of the people came to an abrupt halt.
“This man single-handedly subdued the great warriors of Pluto and even subdued the witch’s lion and the wild crocodiles of Acheron using only his bare hands.”
Amidst a tense atmosphere and a silent stillness, that seemed to float around the surroundings, Hippolyte spoke up in a powerful voice.
Zagreus? Damn it! Who was that again?
“Also known as Hassan of Samaria! Young warrior, you are in charge of this expedition!!”
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