'Hoshimono no ma (The Drying Room)'…
True to its name, the vast space was filled with rows of shelves.
On these shelves, various items were preserved as dried goods.
The nameplates on each shelf bore names like 'herring,' 'cod,' 'mackerel,' representing dried fish.
There were also dried crops such as 'shiitake mushrooms,' 'dried gourds,' 'sweet potatoes.' 'Boar,' 'bear,' 'beef' represented dried meats…
all within the realm of common sense.

 When you consider that things like “earthworms,” “centipedes,” “lizards,” “cinnamon,” “turmeric,” “saffron,” and “dried tangerine peel” are also stored on the same shelves, it becomes somewhat forgivable.
In the Continental Pharmacopoeia, even bizarre creatures are used in concoctions.
The Onitsuki family's medicine cabinet is filled with various items, and I have no idea what kind of pills are prepared to suppress my transformation into a youkai.

 But understandably, one would be taken aback if they saw labels on the shelves like 'youkai liver,' 'youkai eyes,' or even 'human hearts' and 'human souls.' 'Despair,' 'secrets,' 'homeland,' 'family' were words that no longer made any sense.
Some labels were in languages that couldn't even be identified.
Certain shelves emitted a blatantly ominous aura, warning not to approach them.
They were jinxed.
It seemed more like Pandora's shelf than Pandora's box.
Sometimes, it's better not to touch what shouldn't be touched out of curiosity.

 ”On the other hand, it also clearly indicates danger.”

 Considering the countless traps and mechanisms in the various rooms of 'Mayoiga,' this room was quite reasonable.
As long as one avoided the obviously dangerous shelves, there were no youkai or other traps to worry about, guaranteeing safety.
In fact, it could even be called a “helpful room” when considering the supply of food, medicine, and other items.

 (If we've come this far, we can see the path to escape…!!)

 As the cost of the abilities in 'Mayoiga' and based on the regulations and the authors' preferences, each room had, to some extent, a designated strategy for those items with established settings.
And the method to escape from 'Mayoiga' itself…
Considering the characteristics of each room players had gone through and past records, the information was reliable enough.

 ”All right, this place is safe.
Let's rest for a while and then—Hide behind something!!”

 'w(゚Д゚)w Whoa!?'

 In the instant I was about to give the kids the instruction to rest, I tensed up at a presence from the back of the room.
Shortly after, two kunais flew towards us!!

 ”D*mn it!?”

 I used my short spear to knock the thrown kunais aside.
I could have dodged, but since the kids were behind me, I chose to intercept.

 (Is this a joke!? At this point, the original story and the situation are mismatched…!?)


 Momentarily caught off guard by the unexpected turn of events, I stole a glance at the back.
Izayoi and the others had already hidden behind the shadows of the shelves.
Good kids…!!?

 ”Flash ball!?”

 Understanding what the ball flying towards us from the depths of the dim darkness was, I deflected it.
At the same time, I leaped into the gap between two adjacent shelves.


 '(>Д<) It's bright!?'

 With a burst of sound, the flash ball exploded, illuminating the room with a dazzling light resulting from the chemical reaction of its contents.
Squinting my eyes, I endured the flash, realizing what it was…!!

 ”This is getting a bit troublesome…!! Izayoi! Tell everyone not to move!”

 To avoid friendly fire, I issued the command, simultaneously moving around to the back of the shelves and running stealthily, muffling my footsteps.

 ”!? No good! He is coming from behind!”

 ”Intercept him! Quickly!! Hurry!!”

 As the enemy noticed my movements, they shouted in response.
Immediately, someone moved within the dim darkness.
Shortly after, a shot is fired…!!

 '(゚ロ゚)!! What's happening!?'

 ”Crossbow!! Uwoah!”

 A spider's scream echoed in my mind.
Just in time, I evaded the arrow aimed at my head.
Following that, several individuals armed with swords and daggers lunged at me.

 ”D*mn it!? Take this!”

 ”Uwoah!? Guwah!!?”


 As the leader swung a club toward my head, I sidestepped and stepped on the club, preventing their counterattack.
I delivered a blow to their jaw, rendering them unconscious.
Another attacker approached from the side, but I deflected their strike with my drawn dagger and slammed the handle of my short spear against their neck, sending them flying.
Both sides lacked finesse in their movements.
In other words, these guys were the opening act, a diversion…!!


 ”The reaction is quick!?”

 A figure in black attire, who had circled behind me using stealth, thrust their dagger toward my spine.
I clashed my own dagger against theirs, deflecting the attack.
Realizing the immediate disadvantage, the opponent quickly retreated backward.

 ”They're coming from this side too!”

 A dual ambush.
It seemed they planned to strike at me while I was focused on the diversion caused by the hidden group.
An old man's mask, who had been waiting among the shelves, slashed at me with his sword.
However, dealing with this level of threat…!!

 ”I've experienced this countless times!”


 The old man's mask displayed astonishment.
After all, it's an unexpected situation when someone grabs your sword with their bare hand.
The gloves woven with spider silk were indeed convenient.
'( •̀ ω •́ )✧) Ehehe, they're useful for Papa, and there's nothing he can't do.' Yes, don't worry, I'm not expecting that.
But more importantly…

 ”Those are my lines, aren't they? I didn't expect to be attacked with the weapons I provided as assistance…
Not asking for a favor, but please don't repay me with revenge, Sakuama's servant.”

 ”Huh? Could it be…!? Stop, everyone! Cease fire!!”

 Upon hearing my words, the lingering hostility in the room finally dispersed…



 In the safe room known as the 'Drying Room,' there were a total of six individuals stationed.
Among them, four were members of the current extermination team.
The breakdown was as follows: one servant from the Sakuama family, one member of the Hidden Group from the Naio family, and two hired laborers for the extermination team.
Only the members of the Hidden Group had fallen into this room from the beginning, while the rest had reached it after passing through several other rooms.
Moreover, for some individuals, it took quite some 'time.'

 ”Within the belly of this monster, time becomes chaotic.
I felt like I spent seven days, while the Naio family member there claims it was a whole day, and those laborers wandered for over two months.
Since we don't have watches, the exact number of days is unknown.”

 The servant from the Sakuama family explained, and the members of the Hidden Group and the laborers nodded in agreement.
Then, I looked at the two remaining members of the Hidden Group, and they continued to explain.

 ”According to what I've heard, this servant had participated in a previous extermination operation, and this man here was apparently a bandit around this area.”

 ”I'm a servant from the Asakuma family, and my name is Yashima.”

 ”…I'm Gonzo.”

 Yashima, the self-proclaimed servant, had a rather outdated attire.
As for Gonzo, he resembled a vagabond.
The former wielded a spear, while the latter held a crossbow.

 ”I am Tomobe, a Yun-shoku servant of the Onitsuki family—'(゚∀゚;) And I'm everyone's idol'—Although it's impolite of me to ask, do you know the current emperor's name or the era?”

 I spoke to dispel the playful thoughts swirling in my mind.
Yeah, so shut up for a second.


 ”What's the matter? Don't know the answer?”

It's the third year of the Shuyou Emperor's reign.”

 For a moment, I widened my eyes upon hearing the era name uttered by the self-proclaimed servant, Yashima.
I briefly responded with a short “I see” and fell silent.
I had assumed as much from the name of the family serving here…
It wasn't an impossible story, I suppose.

 ”Very well…
And how about you?”

 ”Don't know…
Can you read this?”

 Gonzo, with a slightly exasperated attitude, took out a copper coin from his pocket and showed it to me.
The coin, which appeared relatively new, had the inscription of 'Gyokurou Copper Coin' (玉楼銅銭).

 ”I see.”

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