Considering that she had been running at an incredible speed, it was a natural result. Fidelis moved her face slightly to look around. In the open space she saw for the first time, Fidelis quickly rolled her eyes to find a place to hide.
Right now, she was as good as standing blankly in the middle of enemy territory. She saw large pillars standing, and Fidelis decided to hide there. Unable to move a finger, Fidelis had no choice but to wait for her health bar to fill up even a little bit.
Although they said that finding peace of mind would restore energy, lying alone on the cold floor only made her heart pound more with anxiety, not peace. Alone in the open space, and in this situation where she couldn’t even move a finger, Fidelis bit her lip hard to keep from crying out of fear and injustice. There was no way to stop the tears flowing despite her efforts.
With all her senses on high alert, Fidelis stared at the health bar with tear-soaked eyes. The red color was gradually rising. When it reached 10 percent, Fidelis, holding the lantern, staggered on her shaky legs and quickly hid her body behind a large pillar.
Sweat dripped down her chin. Fidelis wiped the sweat running down her chin once and leaned her head against the pillar and closed her eyes. She breathed in and out, trying not to think about anything. Then….
[…I heard something.]
Her closed eyes snapped open. Fidelis hunched her body as much as she could and covered her mouth with her hand to prevent even her breathing from leaking out.
[I’m sure, I heard something… Here…]
The child’s voice cut off abruptly. Thud, thud, thud. Were footsteps this chilling? Fidelis’s entire body was soaked in sweat.
[There was a human.]
Her heart dropped. Her heart started to pound so hard that it seemed like the sound would leak out. The child’s voice came straight to her. It was so close that if Fidelis moved her body even a little, she would be caught by the ghost in an instant.
There was never a time when the shining lantern light was as hateful as it was now. Fidelis racked her brain about what to do with the light that seemed to be visible through the gap in the pillar. To turn off the light, she had to open the glass of the lantern, but the sound would definitely leak out.
[Where is it, where is it, where is it, where is it.]
The sound of running around the empty space, spitting out words repeatedly, could be heard. Fidelis quickly turned off the lantern’s light, using the noisy sound as a cover.
[Where are you, where are you? Where? Where? Where? Where? Where?]
The child’s frantic footsteps suddenly stopped. Her heart felt like it would stop from anxiety. Please, please go away. Go somewhere else. Someone, please…! No, no.
‘No one is going to save me.’
It’s going to be the same here. When the strength in her hand that had been covering her mouth loosened, she heard something breaking in the distance. The sharp sound of shattering echoed through the empty corridor and reached the child’s ears.
[There you are. There! Over there!]
The child who immediately responded ran away from Fidelis at a terrifying speed. Around the time when the footsteps could no longer be heard, Fidelis’s body collapsed as if it was crumbling.
“This crazy game….”
It was a situation where she couldn’t help but curse. Even though she didn’t want to cry, tears kept flowing. But Fidelis got up. With her staggering body, she grabbed the pillar once and quickly moved in the opposite direction of where the child had gone. Whether it was due to the tension that made her body stiff, her stamina was not filled up that much.
She had to fill up the rest somewhere. She was anxious to go into the room, and if she hid hastily, she felt like she would be found out soon. She was able to escape earlier because she was really lucky, but it was hard to expect such a windfall twice. She lit the wick again and put it in the lantern and held it out in front of her.
She saw a descending staircase. It was distinctly different from the short staircase earlier. This time, it was definitely a place leading down. She was too out of it earlier, but the outside she saw from the room where the burned ghost appeared was not that high. At most, it was about 3 floors high? This was an opportunity. Fidelis went down the stairs without hesitation.
On the stairs, there were vivid bloodstains as if someone had been forcibly dragged up. Seeing the tangled and hardened hair, it was clear that a lot of blood had been shed. Fidelis moved to the side as much as possible to avoid touching it, but on the wall next to her, there were numerous bloody handprints clustered together.
The hand holding the lantern tightened. Fidelis’s gaze was directed straight ahead, trying her best not to look. When she safely descended the stairs, Fidelis scanned left and right with her lantern. As expected, the long corridor was deserted and eerily quiet.
Fidelis carefully moved to find another staircase leading down. She felt her strength gradually recovering, and sure enough, more than half of her stamina was restored when she looked at the screen. By the time she found the stairs leading down, her strength was fully recovered.
Fidelis paused at the sound of a child’s voice as she was about to go down the stairs. She turned her face and shone the lantern in the direction where the child’s crying was coming from, but all she could see was darkness. Fidelis, who was hesitating whether to go or not, shook her head. It could be a ghost pretending to be a child, just like before.
She was going down the stairs at a slightly fast pace when her forehead hit an invisible wall and she fell backwards onto her buttocks. Fidelis rubbed her forehead and made a crying face.
“What, what’s going on? Why is this happening…….?”
Wasn’t it possible to wander anywhere? But I’m sure I used the stairs to go down…. Fidelis groped the invisible barrier. Unlike the stairs she had descended earlier, this time her path was completely blocked by a transparent barrier. As she lowered her hand that was groping the invisible wall and stared anxiously behind her, a familiar voice came to her ears.
<Event game has been initiated. The theme is ‘Protection’.>
“What? I’m not going to do the event game!”
When she exclaimed in surprise, the voice came again.
<You cannot move to the lower floor until the event game is cleared.>
“I want to refuse the quest!”
There was no voice following Fidelis’ desperate plea, as if it wasn’t even heard.
Why are they doing this to me! Fidelis picked up the dropped lantern and got up from her spot. Even while climbing the stairs with trembling legs due to the fear that once again showed on her face, she almost stumbled several times, but she had to clear that event game or whatever it was. Only then would she have the chance to go down to the first floor and open the door.
I don’t want to do it…. Holding back her tears as much as possible, she climbed up the stairs, stuck to the wall, and peeked out to scan left and right. The sound of the child’s crying that she heard earlier had abruptly stopped, as if it was a lie.
Instead, a creepy chewing sound was heard. Fidelis muttered in despair.
Take care of me. How can I protect anyone in this state…. She sat down on the stairs, mulling over the theme of the quest earlier, holding her head and groaning. She didn’t want to go out. The ghosts she had seen since starting the game were all beings who didn’t understand words. Fidelis felt suffocated, as if someone was strangling her with a leather strap. She wanted to go back quickly.
At that moment…….
The sound of a child’s crying was heard again. Fidelis jumped up from the stairs. She had ignored it, thinking it was a ghost imitating a child’s cry, but somehow the theme of the event game stuck with her. ‘Protection’ might mean to protect someone who definitely needs help.
Without hesitation, Fidelis stepped up to the last stair and headed straight to where the child’s crying was heard. No matter how scary it was, Fidelis was not so cold-hearted as to ignore a real child. As she hurriedly ran towards where the voice was coming from, holding her lantern, she saw a child lying on the floor crying.