“A-are you okay?”
Fidelis carefully approached the child and stroked its head. When the child lifted its head, she could see tears streaming down from its big eyes.
“Who-who are you…….”
It’s a real child. Fidelis was shocked as she wiped the child’s tears. She knew from the first screen that this mansion was cursed and that people had come in to lift the curse, but why a child……. As she lifted the child lying down and dusted off the dirt on its body, a small semi-transparent window popped up on the side.
The window with only the name quickly disappeared. Fidelis asked, looking at Russel who was sobbing.
“Why are you here? Are you lost?”
“…I-I don’t know. When I woke up, Ahh! Mom!”
Feeling the warm body temperature coming from the hug, Fidelis almost burst into tears. It hadn’t been long, but it was a human warmth she hadn’t felt in a very long time. Unconsciously, Fidelis hugged Russel tightly.
A sense of relief washed over her at the sight of this small child, enough to make her nose tingle. She sniffled softly and tried to lift Russel up, comforting him, but she paused when she saw his ankle. Russel’s ankle was torn as if someone had gnawed on it. Could it be that the sound earlier was…. She felt a chill run down her spine. The moment she realized it, intermittent sounds started again from behind.
*Crunch, crunch, crunch.*
She didn’t want to look back, but she had to. There might be another victim. Honestly, the best way to survive right now was to run away with Russel, but what if the one being eaten right now was another child?
Fidelis, holding Russel tightly in her arms, stood up and turned to look behind her. A strange creature crawling on the floor was slowly approaching Fidelis, scratching its arm with its mouth. Fidelis, who had turned pale, tightened her grip on the child in her arms. Russel, perhaps having seen it too, had stopped crying and was holding his breath.
Her palms were already damp with sweat, and the cold sweat that had stopped began to drench her body. She suppressed her breath as much as possible. Without taking her eyes off the strange creature, she slowly began to step back. Fortunately, it didn’t seem to be interested in its surroundings.
Just as she was about to turn her face to look back, the crunching sound suddenly stopped. Fidelis and Russel’s bodies stiffened. The strange creature stood up with a thud, making a sound of bones being dislocated. The silence was so thick it felt like their blood would dry up, and the heavy air felt suffocating.
Fidelis bit her lip so hard it felt like it would bleed. As if that was a signal, the strange creature rushed towards Fidelis at an abnormal speed. Startled, Fidelis screamed as if her throat was being torn apart.
When Fidelis’s loud scream was heard, the strange creature that was rushing towards her let out a strange scream and soon collapsed.
“…Huff, huff… What, what is it?”
Breathing heavily, Fidelis and Russel looked at each other and then at the strange creature that seemed to have already lost its life. Then, a familiar voice once again rang in their ears.
<You have acquired the skill, ‘Lion’s Roar’.>
…Huh? Fidelis, with a surprised look on her face, was just looking down at the lifeless creature, breathing heavily.
“How, how did you do that, sis?”
“Uh… well, I used the Lion’s Roar…….”
When Russel tilted his head, Fidelis just gave a faint smile and patted the child’s back, intending to leave the cold spot. There was no way to explain it. How could she say that she had obtained a skill called ‘Lion’s Roar’ just by screaming once? The window introducing the mansion of the dead clearly stated that the skills only apply to me. It seemed better not to say anything that he wouldn’t understand even if she explained.
But it’s such a random skill. While thinking that, she suddenly remembered her younger sibling who had explained the game to her.
‘Especially the skills, they’re really funny! There’s a skill called ‘Iron Foot’ that someone got just by kicking a can, you know?’
And then her younger brother laughed out loud. This skill seemed to be one of those ridiculous skills he was talking about. Fidelis took Russel and hid under the stairs that were in sight. It would be a big problem if ghosts gathered because of the loud scream. That was the only place she thought was relatively safe. She put down the lantern and Russel on the floor and tried to tear her pajama pants, but it wasn’t as easy as she thought.
When she struggled because the clothes didn’t tear as easily as they did on television, the child quietly handed her a sharp wooden plank.
“Ah, thank you.”
She made a hole in the pants and tore it straight down the center. Fidelis wrapped the torn piece of pants around the child’s ankle wound. One side of her pants became asymmetrical and didn’t look good, but she didn’t care. Fidelis, who let out a faint breath, looked at Russel who was sobbing.
The child, who didn’t even know how he got here, was very anxious about the current situation, but he was more mature than expected. Fidelis decided to take Russel with her after patting his small head once. She couldn’t leave a young child alone and go around by herself. Above all, Fidelis desperately wanted someone, even a small child, to be by her side right now.
Feeling strange, Fidelis looked at Russel. Wasn’t the ‘protection’ in the event game referring to Russel? She thought it was about protecting the child, but was there something else? Fidelis was puzzled because she still hadn’t heard the machine voice saying the event was completed.
‘Is it a different kind of protection than what I know?’
Fidelis frowned slightly because she couldn’t go down to the lower floor without clearing the event. What if the person to protect is someone else? Fidelis suppressed a sigh that was about to come out. There was nothing good about sighing in front of a child. Pressing her narrowing brow, Fidelis gave a faint smile.
“Do you want to get a piggyback ride from me for now?”
She couldn’t just let the injured child walk.
Russel looked at Fidelis’ narrow back and hesitated. Although she was much older than him, the sister in front of him looked so frail that she seemed to need more help than him.
“I’m stronger than I look. I carried you earlier, didn’t I?”
Despite that, when Russel hesitated, Fidelis outright lifted the child up in her arms.
“This is probably better. You watch the back, and I’ll watch the front.”
“Let’s go!” Fidelis, who had gathered her energy, held the child in her arms and a lantern in one hand. It wasn’t that it wasn’t hard. It’s just that this made her feel more at ease.
‘And I have the Lion’s Roar.’
It was a strange skill that she had obtained unexpectedly, but thinking about the monster that was scared off by the sound, Fidelis tried to find peace of mind. She was completely defenseless before, but now that she had the Lion’s Roar skill to protect herself, she felt a little bit more at ease. And Russel was with her, too.
Since she couldn’t go down to the lower floor, she decided to look around the current floor. Thinking it would be nice to have some shoes, she grabbed the door handle, and this time it opened easily.
Creak… As she carefully opened the door, something reflected the moonlight and shot a beam of light into Fidelis’ eyes. When she squinted and opened her eyes again, she saw countless knives hanging from the ceiling, swinging threateningly. Without hesitation, Fidelis closed the door.
“That’s too much.”
Yes, it’s too much. Fidelis nodded and turned her body pretending to be calm, but she couldn’t help the tears welling up in her eyes. There was no ordinary room in any of the doors she opened.
“Uh, sister, wait a moment!”
When she stopped walking, Russel pointed at Fidelis’s blackened feet.
“Are your feet okay?”
“Um… I think there were shoes in the room you opened earlier….”
When Russel mumbled and spoke softly, Fidelis nodded. She had seen it too. But she chose not to go in.
‘It’s better to have just my feet cut than my whole body.’
No matter how you looked at it, the latter was much better. Thinking so, Fidelis gave a slight smile.
“It’s too dangerous to go there just to get a pair of shoes. Thanks for letting me know.”
When she spoke looking at Russel as if praising him, the child bowed his head and nodded slightly. The tips of Russel’s ears were slightly red.
As Fidelis stopped to listen to the sound of someone running with a dull thud that shook the floor, Russel cried out urgently.