The hole was deep enough. The water was not that deep, so it was quite a shock.
Kimishima, who had jumped in through the other hole, was approaching. I was glad to see that we were connected after all. I was happy to join Kimishima, but when I looked up, I saw the monsters pressing their nostrils against the hole and groaning. I struggled to stand up, my aching buttocks straining to hold on.
“Let’s get away from here for now.”
I thought I might have hurt my leg a little, too. I limped away from the place.
It seemed that the monsters couldn’t get in through the holes. After a while, the sound of the monsters faded away and we could no longer hear them. We finally caught our breath and settled down in a slightly elevated, dry spot.
“What is this place?”
Kimishima asked as she looked around. I see that Kimishima hasn’t noticed.
“Probably a sewer.”
“Huh? Sewer. Is it?”
Kimishima panicked and tried to stand up.
“Don’t worry, I don’t think it’s that dirty, no one has done business in this city for 50 years, it must be clean.”
“Is that so…?”
“In 50 years, Kimishima’s the only…”
I must have said something unnecessary. The ice-cold voice of Kimishima inserted a wedge into my words.
“Ah, ah… I’m sorry…. Ho, look.”
“What is it?”
“Look, Look at the size of this cavity. If there is a rainy season like the rainy season, the water probably rises quite a bit. If it had been like that for 50 years, it would have all been washed away.”
“…Yes,… but you understood it very well…”
“Yeah, Kimishima, you peeked inside when you were looking for the toilet, didn’t you? There was churning water down there.”
“Ah… come to think of it.”
“And as I walked around, I looked at the other buildings, and I noticed that they all had toilets in the same position.”
“Along this waterway?”
“Yeah, look up there, see these holes along the canal where the light is leaking out?”
“Yes, they’re all … toilets.”
Instead of building toilets like the ones in Japan, the city plan was to create a waterway through which the waste would flow, and to build the city by arranging the buildings according to their positions. Considering this, it was a tremendous scale of urban planning.
And as far as I could see, there were no toilet holes that had collapsed and were wide open. There was a crater like the one at the explosion site that somehow opened a hole for us to enter, but otherwise we would not have found such a lucky escape route.
“Sensei, let me see your leg.”
“Huh? No, no, I’m fine.”
“No, it’s not. You were limping just now.”
Kimishima told me to show her my twisted leg.
“It’s getting a little swollen…”
Kimishima said that, and then gently touched my ankle with both hands, wrapping it.
“It’s an application of plant magic that can enhance a person’s ability to heal. I was taught by a priest instructor who told me that I should learn it if I could use it for healing…”
“Healing? That’s amazing…”
“When it comes to life magic, Nishina was reasonably stronger, but I think it will only heal a little faster compared to that…”
“No, this is enough to help. It’s kind of warm.”
“A little more… Sensei, you won’t be able to run away.”
“Oh … that’s right. Thank you.”
Then, for a while, I had a healing spell performed on me like this. I am a teacher, but I was skeptical about being touched on my ankle by such a beautiful high school girl. I glanced toward Kimishima, who was healing my ankle, and I could see the slender nape of her neck, which was made slender by her tied-up hair.
Damn. This is tough.
I desperately averted my eyes. It was a little bit darker, too… The amount of light coming in was also decreasing.
“Hey, it’s much better now. It’s about time.”
“Yes…, how about you stand up for a moment?”
“Oh, which …? Oh, it’s good. Thank you.”
It was a big deal. It felt radically different from the treatment magic done to me for the burns done by Kohinata, but I guess it was true that this enhanced the healing process. Even with a light jump, the pain from earlier was no longer there. Certainly, a sound foot would be essential to the escape now.
By this time, the light coming in from the toilets, originally a dimly lit underground water system, was almost gone.
“I can’t see any more. Let’s just go to sleep for the night.”
But we still had to fill our bellies a little, or we would not be able to sleep. I had a magic tool in my backpack, like a flashlight. I rummaged through the bag, pulled it out, and lit it up. Under the light, I opened a set of portable meals.
“I guess the leftover from the half we ate earlier is okay…”
I ate half of the seven-piece set at lunchtime. Kimishima did the same, so we decided to eat the rest of it for today. Although I really wanted to eat a little more because we were running and consuming a lot of calories, I didn’t know when we would reach human habitation. It was better to eat with care.
“Well, it’s not that good. It’s a bit on the lumpy side.”
“If this is giving you food fatigue, though, you may need to eat a little more.”
Well, “food fatigue” may not be a commonly used term. I had experienced this when I was in college, when I was invited by a friend of mine in the mountaineering club to go hiking in the Northern Alps. I was told that it was a mountaineering term for a condition in which one was unable to move due to a drop in blood sugar caused by not eating enough food.
“Food fatigue, huh? But what is this? I don’t care what it tastes like, but I want to eat a lot.”
“Huh? Hahaha. Maybe it is like a basement movie.”
“Fufufu. But … thank you so much. If Sensei hadn’t come here, right now I’d be …”
“Well, that’s… having a backbone, too. I came into this world as an advisor. That doesn’t mean I’m off the hook for being an advisor…”
“…I haven’t talked much with Sensei about it…all of us… Sorry.”
“Hmm? Don’t worry about it. I’ve decided that being a teacher is such a job, so go ahead and sleep before that. I feel one of us should stay awake. I’ll wake you up if something happens.”
“Yes, Sensei, if you get sleepy, please wake me up.”
“Oh, I’ll count on you then.”
Sleeping on the cold stone, with your back against the wall. It was not a good night’s sleep, but it was still much more comfortable than in the city above. Kimishima must have been tired, too, because after a while I could hear her soft breathing while she slept. Maybe she was afraid to leave me alone, but she was still holding on to my right arm tightly.
We didn’t even have a detailed map. Would I be able to deliver this girl safely? In the pitch-dark darkness, I was desperately trying to hold back the anxiety that was threatening to overwhelm me.
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