“I’m told to search for meaning in life~ but what’s a life without you supposed to mean?~” The voice continues
I stop and close my eyes to further focus on the song.
“I’ve searched and searched for so very long~ Will you never return until I find it?~”
The singing sounds as if it’s coming from a young girl, but it’s so well sung that you can’t help but think someone spent their entire life to perfect it.
“A puppet’s strings attach it to its maker~ Oh how I envy them~ Tell me what I must do to see-! Who are you?!”
As the singing suddenly stops and is replaced with the panicked questioning of a young girl, I snap back into reality.
“Have you come here to steal Mana?!” The girl questions in a slightly fearful tone
Although I look around, I cannot find the origin of the voice.
“No, I entered the dungeon out of curiosity. I don’t intend to harm anyone that doesn’t try to hurt me or my friends.” I say as I continue to scan around the corridor
My eyes eventually focus on a small discrepancy around one of the corners. Whereas shades of light green, brown, and black had made up most of the wall and lighting, a small sliver of white is poking out from a connecting corridor far ahead.
“I don’t trust you. Lots of people want Mana. You’re just a bad person lying to Mana” She says in a pouting voice
When she does, she pokes her head out a bit more to look at me. Although she is quite far away, she looks like a cute young girl with stark white hair and crimson red eyes. She keeps saying “Mana” is that her name?
“Are you Mana? I’m sorry if I scared you, I didn’t know you were down here. My name is Mano.” I say trying to appeal to her
I honestly don’t know why I am trying to convince her I’m a good person, especially since I’m the Maou. She just kind of feels like a scared cat or puppy. It just kind of hurts to think that she doesn’t trust me.
“…Does Mano like candy?” She asks, poking her head out slightly more
Candy? I remember that candy is supposed to be sweet or sour, but for some reason, I can’t remember the taste of any. Would this world’s candy even be anything like the candy from my world?
“I don’t know. I don’t think I have ever had any.” I say nervously back
“Mano’s never had candy before?!” The young girl yells in surprise before running out from around the corner
She runs up to me without fear and presents a colorfully wrapped hard candy. The look on her face is one of insistence and pride.
“Um, thank you,” I say as I pick it out of her hand and put it in my mouth
I become instantly nervous that this child is yet another trap created by the dungeon and that I am consuming poison. Every time I get close to spitting it out though, I look back at the girl with her expectant eyes. I just can’t do it!
“Well?” The girl asks, cocking her head a bit
“Oh, uh, it’s good,” I say with a half genuine smile as I realize that I wasn’t paying attention to the flavor
“Yay!… Wah!” She yells running back to the corner she was hiding behind before
“You are a smart one! Mana won’t be tricked so easily though!” She yells
Huh? She seems to be a bit of an airhead?
“Well, thanks for the candy anyways. Are you lost down here?” I ask
“No, Mana knows where she is. If you aren’t here for Mana, does that mean that you are lost?” She asks
This kid managed to make her way this far into the dungeon? She seems super relaxed as well, just how strong must she be?
“Kind of, I am looking for the staircase and my friends. If you know your way around here, could I ask you to show me the way?” I ask after thinking about it for a bit
She must be some kind of strong adventurer to able to act so casually this deep. She might be willing to help us out.
“…You’re sure you’re not after Mana?” She asks, leaning a bit further out from around the corner
“I promise that I’m not after you. My friends and I will leave as soon as we find each other.” I say giving a small bow
“Okay then! Mana will show you the way!” She cheers out as she runs up to me and grabs my hand
For an adventurer, she is quite odd, though I suppose I don’t have any room to speak. Sure enough, as we briskly walk she walks with the intent of one who knows where they are going.
“So what did you come into the dungeon for?” I ask trying to make conversation
“Huh? Mana lives here, Mana loves her home!” She says looking back at me with a large smile
“Wait! You live in here?!” I let out in surprise
How is that possible? Just how strong is she to be able to live in such a place?
“Yup! Mana’s home gives her tons of candy! Teko is super nice too!” She continues almost skipping with joy as she does
It’s odd to see a child so attached to such a place… but seeing her so happy I can’t help but share her feelings… Wait.
“Did you just say the dungeon gives you candy?” I ask in disbelief
“Ya! Teko gives me candy when I get lonely or bored! He hasn’t talked to me for a while though… I wonder if I did something wrong.” She says looking a bit worried and sad
“Tell me, what’s Teko like? Describe him for me.” I say as I begin to have a suspicion
“Teko is super nice! He’s always happy and he treats me super well! He gets angry at big people though, and others always call him ‘annoying’. They don’t know what they’re talking about though, Teko is super nice!” She says coming to a full stop and turning to look at me with a determined look
That confirms it, Teko is the name of that annoying clown. Damn that lolicon! He’s gone as far as kidnapping a girl! Next time I’m smashing that clown statue! Wait, maybe he has a real body somewhere…
“How long have you known him? Have you ever seen him before” I ask to see if I can find him
“Hmm, Mana’s known Teko all Mana’s life, cause Teko was made before Mana. Teko doesn’t really have a body, but Mana’s seen his funny dolls!” She says with a giggle
“Wait, ‘made’ before you?” I ask no longer following her
“Ya! Mana and Teko were both made by daddy! Daddy is the one who made Mana’s house!” She continues with a smile
『Authors note: Mana’s name is pronounced (Mah-Nah)』