With his mouth covered by his hands, Myong Myong was trying very hard to hide his laughter.
His face was turning red. It seems he was having very hard time holding his laughter.
“Is my name that funny?”
I was just curious as to why he thought my name was funny.
However, it seems that Myong Myong didn’t take it that way.
It seems he thought I must be angry. He visibly flinched.
He raised his hands to cover his eyes. He lowered his body and crunched down on the ground.
“I… I’m sorry…”
… This is complicating my heart.
Myong Myong curled up his body in a ball. He was lightly trembling.
Is he trembling because he is afraid of me possibly being mad at him or is he still desperately trying to hold down the laughter and quivering in the process?
I think it is both.
He finally calmed down after about ten minutes later.
I had him sit in front of the bonfire and asked him again.
Earlier, he said his name had the meaning of “salvation”.
“Myong Myong, is there a word in your language that sounds similar to my name?”
I tried to be as kind and calm as possible as I asked.
However, it didn’t work.
As soon as Myong Myong heard what I said, he covered his face and suddenly got up.
Like that, he turned around and scurried away. He hid behind the tree and started to laugh while trying to suppress the sound. Looking at him, I sighed.
It seems the word Ho-jae in his language is no ordinary word.
I don’t think I’ll be able to hear from him about what it could mean.
I should ask again later when I get the chance.
I got up and went to Myong Myong who was crunching behind the tree.
“I… I’m sorry…”
Myong Myong was frightened. He apologized.
I looked at his round, large, sparkly eyes and his drooped ears. I felt the urge to tell him not to be afraid and then hug him.
However, instead of giving into my urge to hug the kid, my brain was rolling in a cold and logical manner.
I should use the opportunity that I could use.
I strained my eyes and crumpled my looks. I said,
“Since you did wrong, you should pay the price.”
“I’m sorry. I was bad. Please forgive me…”
Myong Myong repeatedly apologized. There was a tear flowing down from his eye. At that moment, I felt like a piece of human garbage.
No, I am indeed a piece of trash.
“Um… If you grant me one wish, then I’ll forgive you.”
“I’ll grant you any wish, so do not be angry with me…”
I am a piece of trash. I am a piece of trash.
Self-hatred was surging up from inside. I suppressed it and said,
“Myong Myong, by any chance, do you know a way out of this forest?”
Myong Myong nodded.
“I actually lost my way in the forest. If you were on your way to leave the forest, I was wondering if you could take me there too.”
Myong Myong had a crying face, but finally, the light returned on his face.
“Yes. I’ll help you.”
With this, I’ll be able to lead him to the outside of the forest.
The fox child would have panicked if some random person showed up and told the kid that he must take the kid to the outside.
He might have become even more wary of me, suspicious that I might be trying to kidnap him.
Becoming a tag-along guy like this while asking him to lead the way is far less suspicious.
It seems Myong Myong was feeling good now. He hid his mouth behind his hands and smiled like a shy child.
“What’s so great?”
“I’m glad that there’s something I can do to help you.”
He is seriously selfless and kindhearted.
“I’ll be… uncle’s…?”
Did you just call me uncle, as in like an old man?
That’s too much.
“Call me Ho.”
If I asked him to call me Ho-jae, I’m certain that he won’t be able to stop laughing.
“I’ll lead the way for you, Ho.”
Looking at Myong Myong who was smiling in joy, I also smiled.
* * *
[Round 19, Day 3, 08:15]
It’s been three days since I met Myong Myong.
I judged that Myong Myong’s health had improved significantly. So, I put away the tent.
While I was putting away the tent, Myong Myong decided to prepare the meal.
For breakfast, Myong Myong prepared meat stew, simple sandwiches and warmed milk.
The ingredients all came from the dimensional bag, but the preparation was done by Myong Myong alone.
After I put the tent away, I watched Myong Myong walk around with his short legs while wearing the t-shirt that came all down the way to his ankle. He was preparing the meal.
Watching him made me feel hearty and delightful.
With such skinny hands, he picked up the ladle and tasted the stew. Watching him, I thought about taking a picture of this moment and have it with me at all times.
Like that, I quietly watched Myong Myong work.
It was not that I was feeling lazy and trying to get the kid to do all the work.
Myong Myong wanted to handle all of the cooking.
According to Myong Myong, his tribe had been very skilled in housework for generations.
His tribe members innately liked taking care of others and helping others. So, they usually took on the caring professions such as cooks, gardeners, cleaners, maids or butlers.
I had been wondering why this frightened child who was unable to come out from behind the tree was also strangely selfless. It seemed that his selflessness was a special characteristic of his tribe.
Also, he said his tribe members do not like having someone joining in at the task.
Their labors were usually helping others. So, having someone joining in at the task is taken as themselves not being as helpful.
So, I didn’t help him in the breakfast preparation. Instead, I watched him do the work.
As I watched Myong Myong, I remembered the scars on his body.
Just who, what kind of twisted, cruel mind…
On such a kind and frail child, who could anyone leave such scars?
If I ever ran into the one responsible for his wounds, I’ll definitely destroy this bastard. I firmed my resolve on my matter.
The meal was prepared. Myong Myong not only brought the utensils in front of me, but he also brought the cup, poured milk in it and even brought the chair for me to sit.
The array of dishes and foods were as diversified as if I was sitting at a restaurant table.
It looked like I’ll never have to touch water for housework if I lived with Myong Myong.
Myong Myong was that detailed and considerate.
As if these were not enough, when I sat down, Myong Myong picked up the spoon full of stew, blew it to cool it a little and brought it toward my mouth.
You didn’t need to go this far, you rascal.
I stopped Myong Myong who was trying to spoon-feed me the meal. I picked up the utensils.
The dishes he prepared were all delicious.
To be honest, they were even more delicious than the foods that Idy made.
Also, Myong Myong was more adorable than Idy.
[Day 3, 09:00]
With his tiny, bracken-like fingers, he neatly organized the dishes he cleaned and brought them to me. I said to Myong Myong,
“Well done, Myong Myong. You are really good at this.”
Just like earlier when I told him that the foods were delicious, Myong Myong covered his mouth and laughed.
It looked like he was trying to pretend that this was nothing, but his eyes were like crescent moons. He could not hide the smile in his eyes.
I put the dishes away and waited for Myong Myong to put on the washed raincoat.
“Now, shall we get going?”
After confirming that Myong Myong was ready, I asked if he was ready to head out.
“Yes! I’ll led the way for you to get out of the forest, Ho.”
Myong Myong responded energetically and held one of my fingers.
After that, he started to march forward with grit.
Due to the height difference between me and Myong Myong, he had to raise his arm all the way up to hold my finger.
At this rate, this will eventually exhaust Myong Myong and myself.
So, I asked to walk without holding the hands. However, Myong Myong looked noticeably sadder.
Having noticed this, I changed my mind and asked to hold hands again.
Again, Myong Myong started to walk with brightened look on his face.
It was very uncomfortable to walk at a pace that matched Myong Myong’s short steps.
However, I could get used to it quickly when I decided to think of this as training.
However, I didn’t like that I could not have Myong Myong within my field of view easily.
He was walking besides my legs. Even when I looked down toward him, all I could see were the top of his head and his fox ears.
Actually, they are adorable on their own.
I was watching Myong Myong perking up his ears, and I almost tripped over a tree root and fell.
* * *
The heaven always gives opportunities to those who wait.
With his eyes closed, Myong Myong was held in my arm. Looking at him, I thought that.
It’s already been two hours since I followed Myong Myong’s short steps.
Myong Myong was slowly getting exhausted. As for me, I slightly displeased with the slow pace caused by having have to match his short steps.
So, I tried to hold him in my arms or give him a piggy back ride. However, he refused, saying that he could walk on his own two feet.
It seemed he was thinking that his task was leading me to the outside of the forest and he wanted to do it without getting any help.
It was more of an insistence on a task he was given rather than being a stubborn child.
At that moment, a pack of wolves appeared in front of us.
With detection skill, I already knew about the wolves approaching us, but I pretended to not know so I could hold Myong Myong in my arms and carry him.
As soon as Myong Myong found the wolf pack, he was about to plummet to the ground. I picked him up and held him in my arms.
As for the wolves, I used the Overwhelm skill and chased them away.
As the wolves moved away to the distance, Myong Myong tried to go back down to the ground.
However, I did not let him.
“Wolves might be still nearby. You are leading the way, so it would be a problem if you got hurt. That’s why I’m going to continue walking while carrying you in my arms. Just like how you are leading the way, my task is to protect you.”
Ku… That was a perfect line that resonates with Myong Myong’s perspective.
Fortunately, Myong Myong was also convinced by my words. He said he understood.
“It would be heavy if we continued on line this…”
No, you are not heavy at all.
In fact, hugging you is healing me.
Like that, while holding Myong Myong in my arms, I continued to move again.
While being held in my arm, Myong Myong directed me to the end of the forest.
The forest was full of huge trees. So, it was like a natural maze. It was difficult to get a sense of direction without Myong Myong’s detailed instructions on how to navigate through the forest.
It might be a different story if I used the Talaria's Wings and just flew up.
I really thought about flying up with Myong Myong and getting out of the forest. However, I was concerned that Myong Myong might be scared of it, so I gave up on the idea.
Like that, I walked a little further, and we ran into another group that ambushed us.
This time, instead of a pack of wolves, it was a pack of ghosts.
In this forest, the packs of ghosts regularly appear several times a day.
Like the usual ghosts, they did not attack us, but they were bothersome and uncomfortable to be around.
There were just two. However, I was supporting Myong Myong with one of my arms, so that posed a problem when I thought about destroying the ghosts.
“Should I go down?”
Myong Myong whispered at my ear.
I shook my head and said it was all right. I brought out a stone from the inventory and held it in my hand.
I focused for a moment and wrapped the stone with Aura.
As my understanding and mastery of mana circuit and aura improved, I became capable of layering Aura on not just weapons but even ordinary objects.
In addition to this, my throwing ability had rose to mid-rank, so I could maintain the Aura on the object even after it was thrown.
I threw the rocks and single handedly destroyed the ghosts.
As I defeated them repeatedly, I found something that could be said was weak point.
Each ghost entity was different, but they all had a spot where the mana was focused.
When I attacked that spot with an attack that had Aura applied, the ghost was destroyed instantly.
I defeated the ghosts and asked Myong Myong if he was all right.
“I’m all right.”
He really did look okay.
How he looked now was completely different to how he was earlier when we faced the wolves.
“You are not all that scared of the ghosts?”
Myong Myong nodded and said,
“I had seen them many times, so I’m used to them…”
Used to them, huh…
Could it be that he had seen the ghosts many times while wondering around the forest?
The ghosts were annoying to the ears and eyes, but they did not cause physical harm to the body. So, it seems even Myong Myong was not all that scared of the ghosts.
After confirming that Myong Myong was all right, I put him down on the ground.
“Let’s rest here for a bit and eat lunch. We can get going again afterwards.”
I put the floor mat on the ground and brought out kitchenware and food ingredients from the dimensional bag. I handed them to Myong Myong.
I put him in charge of preparing the meal and looked at the status window.
As I thought, although I leveled up just now, none of my stats improved.
There was no new skill. There wasn’t any skill that went up in the skill level.
The level up reward didn’t come in this time.
This is the first time where this happened.
I feel uneasy.
The situation was that the stage clear rewards had been decreasing and decreasing already.
During the last stage, God of Death gifted me a power skill, but I didn’t get anything in particular from 17th and 16th Floors.
Even at 14th and 15th Floor, I only got points and random items as rewards. I didn’t obtain skills as rewards.
When things were like this, now the level-up reward was also gone.
First, I should ask Kiri Kiri after I clear the 19th Floor.
I have quite a large amount of information allowance that I had been saving up, so I should be able to get a detailed answer for this along with a proper solution and advice.
I organized my thoughts and directed my gaze at Myong Myong.
Before he prepared the food, he used the flint stone to make a small fire.
He tossed in firewood into the fire and started to pour in water into the pot. Watching him made me think that he was like a fairy from movies that lived in someone’s house.
Of course, Myong Myong was way cuter.
“Myong Myong, what do you think of the name, Dobi?”
“It’s odd, although it is not as odd as your name.”