24 hours passed.
Karan woke up. Her aching body was screaming in pain, but she couldn’t stay lying down forever.
“Where am I…?”
She looked around, but all she could see was the corpse of the pot snake. No, not even the corpse, materials like the fangs and skin had been removed, and all that was left was its sad remains.
“It wasn’t… a dream…”
Karan was extremely disappointed.
The sadness of being betrayed by her partners was much bigger than the happiness of surviving. She thought it would’ve been better to faint and die without knowing what was real and what was false.
But she was saved.
“…Could it be…”
Karan touched her chest and took something out.
“The amulet really is broken…”
When Karan left her village, the chief gave her things that could only be described as hidden treasures.
First, the dragon bone sword.
It wasn’t just a big sword, it was forged using a combination of iron and something called ‘dragon iron’, which is a mineral composed of dragon claws and bones.
Not only was it very sturdy, but it was blessed with the divine protection of the dragon people.
Karan used her special technique ‘fire dragon slash’ for the first time after receiving this sword.
The second, the anti-poison amulet.
It was a disposable item that, if kept close, would cast powerful “detox” and “healing” magic when the holder was close to death.
There were powerful poisons that could break this amulet, but it could withstand most poisons found in nature. There was no doubt that this was a magic item of unrivaled power, and it was thanks to it that Karan survived.
“I never thought I would have to use it in my first year of traveling…”
She felt like she let her parents down, and her face became pale as she remembered the most important treasure.
Its name was ‘Dragon king orb’, and it was both a gem and a magic item.
Dragon people have a tradition to serve heroes. According to tradition, this orb was offered to the human the dragon person recognized as being worthy. This powerful magic item then granted the human the same divine protection as dragon people and let them wield the same strength, while staying in the same human body.
It also served as a dowry for when girls wanted to get married., in fact, there hadn’t been any ‘heroes’ for the past several hundred years, so the concept of ‘serving heroes’ was antiquated and the marriage part was much more important.
Incidentally, any gem would do. It could be a diamond or a polished stone, but Karan was the daughter of the chief, so offering a polished stone or a little gem to her marriage partner would be a disgrace to all dragon people.
The chief of the dragon people spent a year infusing the biggest, shiniest ruby the dragon people had, with magic power. It was without a doubt the highest quality dragon orb in existence.
That orb was in the safe on the inn they were staying in.
“T-This is bad…!”
Karan left her luggage with her trusted partners… Former partners.
She didn’t tell anyone about the dragon orb. But they could very well have known about them.
Dragon people were not numerous, but they did many great deeds during the war, and it would have made sense for adventurers like them to have heard about dragon orbs.
“I-I have to hurry…!”
Karan stood up while scolding her breaking heart, and bore the loneliness of walking through a dungeon alone.
It took Karan three days to escape the dungeon and seven to make it back to Labyrinth city, ten days in total.
It took her three times longer to come back than it did to go, but it was to be expected, for she had to avoid monsters and proceed carefully all by herself.
“Ah!? Karios’s partner!?”
Karan made her way back to the inn where ‘White Helan’ was staying, much to the surprise of its owner, who was told she was dead.
Their leader, Karios, was crushed and in tears when he told the owner about Karan’s death, but the owner now realized it was all an act. It was an old trick, so when Karan told him he had been tricked, he was quick to understand what had happened.
“W-Where are my things!? That…!!!”
“Karios took everything. He told me he was taking it back to your hometown.”
Karan understood before the owner could even finish his sentence. There was no way people that betray their partners would do something noble.
“You should report this to the adventurer guild but… He’s a very good scammer, I doubt he’ll get caught so easily… M-Miss! Wait!”
Karan got up before the owner could finish talking.
Helping her when she was troubled. Adventuring through labyrinths together, putting his hand on her shoulder as he said he was counting on her.
“Was it all a lie… Karios…”
It began to rain in Labyrinth City.
The weather was fickle just before the summer, you never knew when it might start raining heavily.
Today was one of those unlucky days with an unexpected heavy rain.
There were a lot of street stalls around the inn, and their owners rushed to close them and escape the rain, along with the passerby.
But that was lucky for Karan, because no one could see her crying like a little girl.
Karan looked for Karios in the places he frequented, and fell into despair once again.
No one knew much about him, or where he went.
It didn’t seem like anyone could help her.
Everyone she talked to looked at her with sympathy, as if to say ‘Ah… So he tricked you’ but they didn’t want any trouble and drove her away.
She had no idea where her partners went.
Thinking about it from a rational perspective, the dragon orb is more valuable than a party, so he probably left Labyrinth City.
Plus, this was a big city with over a hundred thousand inhabitants. The odds of someone like Karan, who didn’t know much about the world outside her village, finding him were horribly small.
This is where her heart broke.
She became honest about her appetite and empty stomach.
Labyrinth City was dirty and noisy, unlike her village. There were many things that Karan couldn’t bring herself to like, but there was one thing she did.
“Maybe I’ll just go eat…”
It was possible to eat food from many different countries and races.
All this time, it was Karios that picked the inn and the meals. So, Karan never got to pick what she wanted to eat.
She had a few silver and copper coins in her purse and, although she wasn’t good at counting, she figured she would be alright for about a week, and decided she might as well eat what she wanted.
But there was a problem. She could buy what the carts and stalls were selling, but it was hard for her to go to a restaurant by herself.
Karan was surprisingly conscious of how people viewed her, and she was worried that if a dragon person like her entered a restaurant dressed like an adventurer, people would laugh.
But she wanted to eat.
There was a very nice smell coming from the place in front of her.
The sun hadn’t set yet and there weren’t a lot of customers so now was the time.
But even if she went in, were they going to take her order?
Suddenly, Karan realized that she let her former partners handle a lot of things in her life, so from that day forward, Karan was going to be the one deciding what to eat and what inn to stay.
That was when someone called her from behind.
“Excuse me, can you let me pass?”
It was a middle-aged man that looked like an adventurer.
He had short black hair and a firm physique, and had no problem entering by himself.
“One pork ginger set meal.”
He enjoyed his meal by himself, not caring what anyone thought.
Karan thought he was strange, but liked his unashamed attitude.
In addition, people around him seemed a little restless.
“Hey, is that man…”
“No doubt about it, that’s the S rank adventurer ‘Single meal Fifth!’”
Single meal Fifth was a warrior that wielded a weapon from the south called katana, and was also proficient in using magic.
He traveled to a lot of countries, was very knowledgeable, and defied conventional wisdom by adventuring alone instead of forming a party.
Even if you were a little strong it was still reckless, so the Labyrinth City guild did not recommend working alone.
Only experienced adventurers higher than B rank were allowed to do it, so only the most prestigious adventurers could work alone.
One of those prestigious adventurers, the famous Fifth, walked inside the restaurant by himself in front of Karan.
The flame of hope reignited slightly inside Karan.
If she was like that, she could eat alone without anyone thinking badly of her.
Karan opened the restaurant’s door, and unashamedly sat at the counter, just like Fifth, who was sitting by the window.
The employee handed her a menu, no questions asked.
Karan couldn’t read, but just like Fifth…
“One pork ginger set meal.”
That pork ginger reached the very core of Karan’s exhausted body.