Authors: Fujino Omori
Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy
People who make a living in the Dungeon are all called “adventurers,” like me.
I grew up in a small town not far from here. Looking back, I was a really sheltered kid. My grandfather brought me up, but he died about a year ago. There was nothing left for me there, so I packed up what money was left and moved to the city.
I don’t think I have to say it at this point, but I came to Orario to meet girls in the Dungeon.
“—Real men try to make a harem!”
How many times did Gramps say that? I can still remember his smile, so full of life.
Gramps read tales of adventure to me for as long as I can remember. I loved the heroes of those stories. They slew the monsters, saved people from certain death, rescued the princess from anything, and looked awesome while doing it. Every time I heard Gramps tell me those stories, I saw myself as the hero. My head was filled with dreams of being one of them.
Gramps let me in on the best part about being the hero.
“The hero’s greatest taste of glory is not from slaying the monsters; it’s meeting the girls.”
It didn’t take long for visions of cute girls by my side after a dangerous adventure to saturate my brain. Gramps taught me about being “a man’s man.” I was well on my way.
As I got older, part of me accepted the fact that I would never become the hero from the tales, but on the other hand, Gramps built me up so much that the girls became my new goal.
The book that he swore by, his bible if you will, was
. It’s filled with stories about various heroes and their adventures. I think I bought into his enthusiasm.
If I can be in a place where heroes’ stories are made… If I can get to Orario… If I can get into the Dungeon…
If I could just do that, then the girl of my dreams would show up any day.
Gramps passed on, but the determination he left behind pushed me out the door, all the way to Orario and the Dungeon.
I admit that I was winging it when I first got here. But now, after a brush with death, I feel really stupid for going into the Dungeon just for the ladies. I’m probably the only idiot who went in like that. Well,
I’m pretty sure that the adventurers seeking money and fame are basically the same as me, maybe.
Today made me realize just living is hard.
I will never take the Dungeon lightly again.
But now I have completely different reasons for going into the Dungeon—including Ms. Wallenstein.
I slip into the multiracial crowd on Main Street.
Dwarves, gnomes, animal people, prums… Some look like normal townsfolk, and some look a lot more dangerous. A human country boy like me is so out of place here. Even in this crowd, everything looks so new and interesting. The constant noise of the city is so invigorating, even though others complain it’s too loud. I’ll never get tired of this city!
I work my way through the crowd, catching a few glimpses of some really cute and dignified elves along the way.
There’s the street I’m looking for. I make my way out of the crowd, off of Main Street, and into a smaller back road. There are so many twists and turns back here I’m surprised I don’t get lost more often.
As the noise of Main Street fades, I arrive at a dead end.
I crane my neck back to look up at an old, rundown church in this cul-de-sac. I don’t think anyone has been here in years.
To think, this two-story building was built to be a place to worship the gods. Now it’s not much more than ruin. There are pieces of walls missing. Well, actually, they’re in piles on the ground where they fell. There’s a hint of sadness about this place, left over from the people who stopped coming here who knows how many years ago.
A statue of a goddess smiles down on me from above the main door of the church. She’s seen better days. Half of her face is missing, and chunks of rock from her body are gone. I’ve seen more complete Swiss cheese.
There really was no need to check, but I wanted to make sure I was alone before going into the church. There are no doors in the main entrance, not much for security. Then again, the inside isn’t much better than the outside.
In fact, the inside looks half destroyed. As I step inside, my foot lands on a weed growing out of the broken tile floor. Pieces of the ceiling are either gone or about to fall. On the bright side, this lets in a bit of sunlight. The sunbeams light up what’s left of an altar at the back of the church.
I weave through the wreckage on my usual path, heading toward a small room behind the altar. It was once a storage room and is still lined with empty shelves. But the shelf at the very back corner is actually a door to a stairwell. I pull it back and climb down.
The stairway isn’t that long, and there’s still some light sneaking in from outside. I had no trouble opening the door.
“Goddess! I’m home!”
As my voice echoes off the basement walls, the smell of home wafts into my nose. The room is small, but big enough to live in comfortably.
The person I called is sprawled out on a purple sofa just inside the door. She looks up from her book and jumps to her feet.
Just by looking at her, you would probably think she was a young girl about to hit puberty. Being that she is just a little bit shorter than me, many people would mistake us for brother and sister only a year or so apart.
Her feet thump quickly on the floor as she runs up to me with a big smile on her kiddie face.
“Hey, hey, welcome back! Aren’t you a bit early?”
“Well, I almost died in the Dungeon today…”
“What, what? You okay? It’d be a real shock to me if you died. I’d be lonely and possibly really sad, too.”
Her tiny hands dance up and down my body, looking for injuries.
I can’t help but blush a little. Her kind tone and words always cheer me up.
“Don’t worry. I won’t leave my goddess high and dry.”
“Oh? I’m glad you’ve made up your mind because I need a lot of water.”
“That’s an interesting way to put it…”
Both of us crack smiles and walk into the back of the room.
The space we share has one square part and one long part; it’s the shape of a
underground. The entrance is in the square, the door in the middle of the front wall, and two sofas face each other against the other two opposite walls. We sit down on our own sofas.
The girl sitting across from me is, without a doubt, pretty. Her shiny jet-black hair falls down on the sides of her head to cover her ears but is also long enough to be tied into two extensive ponytails that reach down to her waist. Two ribbons with silver bells hold them together. Her round face and cheeks make her look very young, which is why I can’t believe how much her boobs push up her clothes. I try not to look, honest! It’s hard not to…
Add in her clear blue, orb-like eyes, and she has an aura like a fairy-tale character come to life.
Although by usual standards she would become an absolute bombshell in a few years, I don’t think her appearance will ever change that much.
She is, after all, a goddess. I call her that for a reason.
She’s different from us humans, demi-humans, or the monsters that appear in the Dungeon. She came from another plane, Deusdia. She won’t age or change much at all like we do. Far above humans, she’s even more influential than any of the heroes I idolized back in the day.
“I bet you didn’t get much money at all today, did you?”
“No, not as much as usual. How about you, Goddess?”
“Hee-hee! Take a look at this! Ta-da!”
“Yep! I did so well at the shop today that I got these potato snacks for free! Party night!! Bell, I won’t let you sleep tonight, at all.”
“Wow! Great job, Goddess!”
This influential goddess is working part-time at a human-owned shop in Orario. If she didn’t, of course, we wouldn’t be able to survive.
A long time ago, gods and goddesses came down to our world. They call it Gekai, or “lower world.” There are many myths and legends that explain the why and how, but according to the goddess I know, the gods were just bored up there.
They were in their upper world, Tenkai, not doing much at all for eternity. The gods had all the time in the world but nothing to do. Then they started watching us waste so much, but also make so many interesting things like culture and business. The “children”—us, basically—became the best entertainment available.
“We shall be among the children as they are, with the same abilities. They shall see us.”
They may be perfect beings, yet they have their flaws. They would have to, because they were interested enough in our world to come here.
The excitement of a new world with the children lured many gods to Gekai. They wanted to experience things like phenomena they couldn’t foresee, a desire for food, hobbies, fine arts, and the indefinable bonds of friendship like the children had every day.
They laughed, or so I’ve been told.
The gods and goddesses feel like they are playing a game and are fully enjoying it because it is impossible to predict what will happen.
It wasn’t long before gods were living in Gekai. Quite a few of them decided to live here permanently.
As for our ancestors who lived here first, they didn’t reject the gods when they arrived. Why would they? They revered the gods because they could receive blessings. To put it another way: you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours. That relationship is still clearly going on today.
They live among us now. We live and work side by side, helping one another out.
These gods abandoned their separate and constrained lifestyles to live in our inconvenient world.
“A ton of people walk around the city looking like mascots. They’re cute and all, but I can never find one I’d want in my
. The good ones all go after the money! If only more people knew the name Hestia…”
“I’m not so sure. All the ‘blessings’ start out the same, no matter what god or goddess gave it…”
I live with the goddess Hestia. I guess gods and goddesses have names just like us.
is basically a group formed by a god. For example,
is the group put together by the goddess Loki, and
by Hestia. Some people call it Team Loki or Team Hestia.
Personally, I think that being in a
is like being part of that god’s family.
While gods are in Gekai, they can’t use their godly powers, called Arkanam. It’s a rule that they set themselves shortly after arriving. Without Arkanam, they need our food and money to survive.
While I have heard of a few gods who like working, most gods came here to have fun. So, they rely on us “children” to make money for them while they do whatever.
A person gets a “blessing” when they join a
In exchange, they use the power from the blessing to make money.
To be frank, members of a
provide for their god.
But we can’t argue with the benefits of receiving a blessing. Anyone with a blessing can get strong enough to take down even the fiercest monsters.
Hestia, the goddess sitting across from me, calls it “give and take.”
“Bell, I really feel bad making you work by yourself to provide for me.”
“Hey, I’m fine. And you’re working, too, aren’t you?”
are very large with hundreds of members, and some are very small, like ours.
In these circumstances, even the gods or goddesses themselves must find work… like Hestia. They can’t do what they love; they have to make money first.
Sure, they can do anything they want to earn money. But it makes me happy knowing that the gods living in our society have the same problems I do. I feel, I don’t know, closer to them somehow.
Well, there are some gods who turn their
into a monarchy with themselves at the top. They call it “Kingdom Game” or something like that.
But even that is built and managed by people. Therefore, the gods have to follow our rules. There are some who say the gods are manipulating our society by behaving this way, but the fact that a god was able to create a “kingdom” is only because a group of people wanted him to.
While the gods do watch over what we create, in the end, they have no way to give anyone an advantage over the competition.
“… I’m sorry I made you join the
of such a pitiful god…”
I watch her withdraw into the sofa. My voice sounded pathetic even to my own ears.
I met Hestia while circling Orario trying to join a
. I had just arrived, and I needed a blessing before I could become an adventurer.
always have people trying to join their already full ranks. So people with skills that would benefit the group get first priority. Country-boy newbies like me get passed over. I wasn’t just shown the door, I had it slammed in my face a few times.
I think that Hestia could see that in my eyes when we crossed paths. Sort of like I was a lost puppy, and she brought me home.
Hestia came to Gekai relatively recently and was staying with a friend, also a goddess, and her
before she met me. She told me that she spent all day every day doing what she loved, reading our books. Her friend eventually got angry and kicked her out.
But she wasn’t heartless; Hestia’s friend found this room under the church for her.
But really, all blessings are equal. That’s a fact.
Everyone who receives a blessing starts from the same point. As for how they grow, well, that depends completely on them.
In the end,
are judged by the abilities of their members, just like any shop or any country. A
is not strong because of its god, and neither is it weak.
“It’s okay, Goddess! Our
just got started. Better yet, it’s on the rise! Sure, it might be difficult now, but as soon as we get past this first part, we’ll be sitting pretty! Once we get some money saved up, people will be lining up to join us!
“Bell… You are just so…!”