Verse: IX •

The Reviving Method •

Aki Kurogami—

"I mean something like…reviving the dead."

I was speechless. And I could only stare at her in shock.

Reviving the dead? Two realizations came into my mind. First was that Alice knew what happened using some unknown method, and that she might have actually guessed what I was looking I wanted the most in this moment.

My throat swallowing nothing was awfully loud.

"….Is…it possible?"

Alice flashed a smile at me as if she finally caught me into her trap.

"It's possible. It could be done with an ancient ritual," she said flatly as she started to walk towards me. "You want to bring that green-haired girl back to life, am I right?"

A freezing wind blew and swept my bangs and probably caused Alice to clearly see my eyes for a second. "…Yes."

She stared at me silently as several seconds passed. Her eyes were focused on mine as if she was seeing the depths of my mind. It really was an ominous gaze…

And then, she blinked.

"Very well, I'll grant your wish. However, you mustn't tell anyone about this revival method nor the fact that you are going to revive someone, since it would lead to me, got it? " Alice asked and I agreed with her condition without a second thought. She then approached me and stood with just a meter between us before she showed a smirk. "Reviving a person is easier said than done. You will need several things need to be done."

"Tell me about them," I said.

"Hmmm… I'll have to explain first to do that." Alice lifted one hand in to the air as she, herself looked upward. Taking her lead, I lifted my head too and there I saw a simple drawing of a single girl slowly forming. "This girl is Nina, okay?"

I nodded as I kept staring at the image at the image.

"Now, she died and her soul went into afterworld." In the image, something white with an unclear shape separated from the body of the girl. It went near to a turning circle. "The souls would eventually join the samsara, the cycle of birth and death, and be rebirthed again into a new different person. If that happened, resurrecting a person would be virtually impossible."

The soul merged with the cycling circle. "That would practically a game over." Alice said as she tilted her head while she clapped her hand loudly.

I stared silently at her eyes.

"…Give me some reaction, will you?" she said, expecting something from me.

"…Please continue."

She looked irritated as she returned again in her explaining tone. "Well, the souls will not immediately go there. So you still have some time." The image above Alice turned back to the point before the soul joined samsara.

"How long?"

"Calling the soul of the dead would be harder to do, if they left their body for long. I guess you have few days."

"…Few days," I muttered. "I'll get it done by then."

"Alright, back to the point. Resurrecting would mean calling soul from the after world and then bind them again to their body. That girl, her body had been melted into liquid." Alice explained as she smirked at me. Meanwhile, the physical body of the girl in the image melted and then it disappeared completely. "Which means that her soul will have no place to return."

"That…what am I gonna do now?"

"Tch. Thought you would freak out already." Alice seemed disappointed and once again irritated. "Anyway, you just have to create a new vessel. I guess you would prefer her to have a biological body, right?"

"…Yes, if it is possible," I answered uncertainly.

"It's possible. Creating a homunculus takes time so I don't recommend it. By the time you have completed a vessel, Nina's soul would be out of your reach." Alice smiled. "However, there is another and better option to create an appropriate vessel for that girl"

As if urging me, I asked, "…And what would that be?"

"Actually it would very convenient for her too. If it succeeds, the new vessel will be an exact replica of her original body." In the air, a new image of a girl appeared exactly like the first one she made as a representative for Nina. "It is simple actually. I will just need you to collect mud."

What she said surprised me. Making an exact replica of the original body was absolutely something remarkable. But I was confused with the material needed.

"…Mud, like dirt?"

"Of course not, are you an idiot?" She eyed at me mockingly. "It is a special mud—Mhm, I guess it can be called the primordial mud."

I just shrugged her ridicule and proceeded with the conversation. "So…this mud is all I need to create a new body?"

"That's most of it. But there is one more other thing you will need." She paused. Then with a heavy tone, she uttered, "Human Life."

I stood silent for a moment. "…A sacrifice, is that what you mean?"

Alice simply stayed silent as she smirked.

Looking at her various thoughts entered my mind immediately.

The sacrifice was going to be a living human. I'm going to kill a human to revive Nina… I could just kill bandits again. A sacrifice would not be a problem. However… sacrificing to save Nina. I could handle that thought but what about Nina? The kind of girl like her, lively, friendly, and caring for others.

I glanced at the sight of the simple drawing in mid-air.

Could she handle the thought that she was revived by the cost of a human life?

It's possible that she would hate me for it too. She, my only friend here, would hate me—it was an unbearable thought. I would lost the one who cared for me and I would be alone again…

"You're awfully quiet, what's the matter?"

I bit my lip. "…Is there other—"

"You know—I don't like indecisiveness." She glared at me.

"..."

"I already presented the way to revive her. If you are going to be like that, there wouldn't be any guarantee that you wouldn't quit halfway," Alice stated in heavy tone. "If you really would run away, that would make me quite an idiot helping you, right? And I utterly hate that."

"I…"

"I'll kill you immediately if you quit halfway."

She was correct. I should not hesitate. Nina might hate me for it, I might lose her, and I might be alone again. It might be unbearable. However, saving her was more important.

"I will save Nina. Even if I have to kill someone. Even if I end up alone."

A broad smile crept up to Alice's mouth. "That's the way. I like that."

"Any human…would work, right?"

"Oh? Seems like you misunderstood. I was referring to you all along," Alice simply stated. "Not just anyone, it has to be you."

"…"

I was petrified, shocked by what I heard. She said I that I would need to kill myself as a sacrifice. Myself as the sacrifice?

Unintentionally, I felt my mouth curling up.

"Don't tell you got a cold feet all of a sudden?" Alice taunted.

Looking down, I shook my head. "…No, this is perfect."

"Hmmm?" She tilted her head.

"To save Nina," I said in a heavy, serious tone as words full of conviction came from my mouth. "I will once again kill myself."

Alice stared at me blankly.

Dying would mean, I wouldn't suffer anymore. I can finally end my journey. It's fine to use my life to revive a person, right? That would serve as my purpose for coming in this world. And… I don't really want Nina to hate me. She can't blame me anymore when I'm dead. Isn't this the perfect solution…?

...Death. A phenomenon I experienced once. Dying again would not be hard, I thought.

"Haha!" Alice snapped as she laughed madly. "Hahahhahahahahahahahahahaha!"

I could only watched for a while before she regained her composure. "That was a good laugh. All right, I'll believe that you won't quit halfway. I'll tell you the other conditions and things that you would need."

"…Thank you."

"Don't thank me yet. This a test for you. The result would be decided by how great your desire to save her," Alice stated as she smiled sweetly. "Of course, I will take my payment before you drop dead."

"That's fine."

] ] ] [] [ [ [

I arrived at the location of my battle with Rock-eating Worm.

It was 4:41 in the morning and the sun hasn't risen yet. I left the wagon in the outskirts of the town to avoid alerting of any villagers. Alice's wolf did not follow me to guard the wagon so I just hoped that it would not be attacked by any monsters. Also, that wolf was actually the same wolf that attacked me on my first day in this world.

I walked around the place, pointing my flashlight to different spots and saw the worm's corpse and the filled holes that it made to the ground. I guessed that since its digestion was continuous, it excreted the soil on the path it made to fill it again although with a soft soils.

Few moments passed, I found the severed arm of Nina that the monster bit through. It was in a bad condition but Alice said that I just needed her flesh so the state didn't matter. However, seeing the hand of my friend severed reminded me that she had been digested again. I must really revive her as soon as possible.

Alice said few items that I need gather for the ritual. One, any part of the dead's body. Two, an Esspir Gemthat would be used as a medium to call the soul. Three, a possession of the one needed to be revived, which they had strong attachment to. And four, the primordial mud.

The rest of the ritual would need me to be follow instructions from Alice while she would help me in the vital parts of the spell.

There were sounds of wild beast around the place and it might be dangerous to stay here for long. I wasted no time to stay after I got my objective and I immediately rode the wagon and drove towards Urtis, leaving the arm with Alice along the way.

By the time I arrived, it was already morning and sun has risen in a considerable height in the blue sky above. I headed for the south district where the market and various shops could be found. This district was where Oliver and Lilian's shop, "Armory Nol," could be found as well. I would go there later. For now, I would need to prepare the things that I would be needing to get the second material for the resurrection.

I headed into an alchemist's shop and I made the clerk prepare healing potions, antidotes, stamina potions, painkillers, and mana potions just in case it would be used to some kind of unforeseen events.

In the market, I asked the vendor of a stall as well to prepare things. These are the items; dried meat, water, bread, oil, torch, and holy water blessed by priests. The last three items were recommendations form the stall owner after I asked him about necessary things. He also told me to buy map for the place but unfortunately, he didn't possess it.

I did not bought the items yet and just made the vendors prepare it so that I could take it whenever I want. They agreed to my request after I told them I would drop off somewhere first.

After that, I carefully traversed the way towards the backyard of Nina's house, deliberately taking a detour so that I could avoid the parents of Nina seeing me before I arrived at their backyard where I eventually reached. I placed the wagon in the stables. Soon after, Lilian came out from the house's backdoor.

"Welcome back, Aki-san." She smiled at me gently as she walked toward me. "You're quite early. By the way, where's Nina?"

I also walked to meet her as I answered her question. "…Nina is still in the stables, attending to the horses." I lied to her as casually as I could and I needed her to leave me alone so I made another lie. "Actually, she has been feeling down this morning and she said that she feels dizzy."

"Oh is that so, that's terrible," she said as she looked at my eyes s if expecting something.

"I-I think I have a medicine inside my bag. I'll go get it immediately." I said in a nervous-like way, still she looked at me disappointed as she went to the stables herself.

I quickly entered the door and ran through the hallway inside. Immediately after entering the room where I stayed. As I took my military bag and slung it on my back, I thought, what was Lilian-san expecting me to do…?

As I left the room, I soon heard the familiar high-pitched sound of metal beating against metal. Oliver must be in the workshop and this was perfect, I could escape now using the front entrance. Silently walking through the hallway, I turned the knob of the reception room and inside was…Oliver.

"Oh kid, you were back already?" he said behind the counter, noticing me. "By the way, why are you with all your stuffs?"

"…Oliver-san, aren't you in the smithy?" I asked.

"That was one of my apprentice. The sound is pretty awful right? He is still a novice." He smiled at me, referring to the still continuing beating of hammer

"..."

Damn. So it was just an apprentice. I should leave at this insta—

"Aki-san, Nina isn't at the stables." Lilian's voice was heard coming from the hallway that I just went through. "I can't find her there, where is she?"

Soon after I heard that.

—A heavy pressure started rising from the man who have the words of his wife.

"Kid, where's Nina?" A deep voice that carried seriousness came out from Oliver's mouth, who was taking a sword from the merchandises. He must have realized that something happened to Nina, given that she was not with me, and that was I was preparing to escape with all my possessions. He approached menacingly as his eyes dilated and his face contorted in hostility. "I repeat. Where's Nina?!"

I drew the Damascus blade on my back, immediately swinging it in a slanting arc and met the blow of Oliver who slashed his blade against me.

A clash of swords rang out inside the shop.

"Answer me!" He shouted as he put more strength on his arms, pressuring my defense.

I was holding my sword with both hands but it was not enough to fend off his force. He would surely soon pushed through my defense. In my peripheral, I could see Lilian watching in shock in the doorway. I clenched my teeth and stared at his eyes fervently as I responded to his question, gasping for air in between my words.

"I will…absolutely…save…Ninaaaaaaaa!" I shouted so hard that my throat felt dry.

My left hand released its grip at my sword's hilt, leaving one arm strength to defend even for just a second. I reached out for a blade displayed at the wall using my free hand and slashed it immediately at Oliver, who have evaded by stepping back. However, I threw the sword at him, who had a shocked expression, right away and jump out of the shop quickly while he parried the projectile.

I ran towards the crowd so that I could lost Oliver, even though I felt that he didn't pursue after me. After that, I returned to the alchemist's shop and the stall and bought the things that I made them prepare beforehand using the gold coins that Alice gave me in my first day.

Walking with my burning resolve swirling within me, I headed to the south gate where beyond would be my destination. It was a dungeon called the "Great Truis Labyrinth." This would be where I would get an Esspir Gem, the second material.

Alice priorly said that an "Esspir Gem"was an item used to attract ghost type monsters if crushed. In short it was used as a lure. In the Truis Dungeon, these kind of gems were rare but on the contrary, it was a place blessed with Erid Stone explaining that most people in this city has a lantern lighted by this stone.

The gem I was after was rare and moreover, the needed type was a high quality Esspir Gem that was even rarer. If used as lure, it could make all the ghost type monsters in a certain to gather in one place.

After exiting the south gate and walking for several distance in the main road. Soon, I treaded into a branching path and finally reached the dungeon. It was a surprising scenery for me who have seen it for the first time.

I stared at it when I was finally before the entrance of the great labyrinth.

It was a towering structure about the height of a three story building and that was just the ceiling since this was an underground dungeon. The walls were made of bricks and stones that were decorated in an ancient writings. Various symbols and drawings could be seen as well beside the thick pillars of it.

I had learned about Dungeons when I registered as an adventurer however, this would be the first time that I would enter one. Beside the entrance were a lot of stalls of merchants that sells various things needed for adventurers. Needless to say, the place was filled with adventurers of different kin like Elves, Dwarves, and many kinds of beast kin along with their own respective parties.

I turned to a nearby stall and asked about maps and the salesman proudly claimed that he even possessed latest mapped floors of the dungeon. I told him to give me maps until the 30th floor and I also bought a guide book about the dungeon from him and asked him about several things as well about the place.

After that, I went to a food stall to get food and drinks to eat as I skimmed through the book since it was practically a thin book consisting of not-too-many pages. Soon, I sorted and put my stuffs inside the military bag. I then headed towards the entrance, following the several parties that were going to dive in the labyrinth as well.

The target was 20th floor, where the ghost type boss resides. According to Alice, I would need to defeat it to get the high quality Esspir Gem. But to do that, I need to climb my way down the labyrinth and defeat as many monsters as I could to make myself stronger.

"Leveling System," I muttered silently. This world apparently had this system too. By killing living beings, their life force would transfer to the one who defeated them. When it reached certain amount of gathered life force, their physical abilities would be enhanced.

It was Alice who made me aware that it existed here when we talked about the 20th floor boss.

—You can't defeat the boss at your current strength so I suggest you kill as many monsters you encounter on your way to the target floor.

I simply said, "I understand" back then, I doubt she knew that it was my first time hearing about it.

When I heard her words, leveling system entered my mind immediately. When I arrived at Urtis earlier, I asked about it to the clerk in the alchemist shop.

Sure, the answer was positive. In this world and it was just a simple and common sense for the people here. The stronger the monster, the more life force you could get. It was basically the same of the usual leveling system in games. The only main differences was that the requirement was life force, not experience points. And that there was no way to see the number of levels and stats, or at least this was what I heard.

Going by this, I thought that I might had leveled up once since I had killed bandits and a Rock-eating worm already. This wasn't guaranteed though, since I still didn't know how fast or how slow one level up in this wolrd.

"Okay, let's go in the right path," someone in the party ahead of me said.

Since I didn't want to bother them, I then went to the left path and proceeded alone from that point. The walls inside the labyrinth were glowing enough to illuminate the entire passage. It was like what I had read in some Isekai Novels. I might be able to use my knowledge from this books inside this labyrinth.

It was in a few minutes when I saw a lone figure not far from me. It was small like the size of around a six years old child. The most notable trait was the green-colored skin. It was the monster that I was supposed to subjugate for my first quest: goblin.

I pulled my sword at my back, with my bag still with me. The goblin faced me as it lifted its club, preparing for an attack.

The stuffs I was carrying might hinder my movements but I need to get used to it. I could not just drop my bag every time I encounter an enemy after all.

With my Damascus sword positioned in front of me, I carefully took three steps forward and then I dashed and slashed the sword at the goblin but it managed to dodge by jumping back. My accuracy and speed fell with just carrying a bag. This would not be easy to do until the floor 20, I thought.

The goblin snickered at my attack and then rushed immediately, underestimating me. When it was in range, it raised its club and then—I kicked the chin upward and launched it mid-air followed with a single slash in its torso.

The blood splattered on the floor and I stared at the corpse before shifting my gaze towards my front where three new goblins appeared.

Moving my feet forward, I gradually sped up to a run.


Author's Note: It's unbelievable how this story is this slow to update. It's all my fault sorry for that.

I had implemented the new changes that I was talking about in the last A/N. I will say it once again. These doesn't contain any major plot change. I'm even doubting if I really did change a plot after all.

Really, the system and materials for the reviving took me a lot of time. If something like this will appear in the future again, I guess I might take a lot of time again. Haha…

So anyway, things really did got dark.

Well then, next time again.