Chapter 4-40 : Looking For An Exit Ⅳ
Twenty days had passed since Iris, Kate, and Nord were trapped in the cave.
The number of times they ended up in a dead end had decreased greatly thanks to Kurumi and the alley detector tool Sarasa made. Moreover, the temperature had dropped since the tenth day, making it easier for them to explore.
However, it was hard to say that their situation had improved because monsters started to appear recently.
Fortunately, the monsters they had encountered along the way were weak. Iris and Kate were able to deal with them easily.
Still, they couldn’t let their guard down because there were monsters with powerful venom like Black Vipers among the monsters they encountered. However, their fangs couldn’t penetrate the sturdy Heat Proof Coats Sarasa made, and thanks to that, they didn’t have to use the expensive medicines and anti-venom in the emergency box.
They hadn’t found any difficulties yet but about half a day ago, the situation began to change.
「Guys, somehow I feel like the temperature is rising again.」(Nord)
「Is that so? I don’t notice it thanks to this Heat Proof Coat but I can tell that it’s getting humid here.」(Iris)
Iris and Kate couldn’t feel the temperature change thanks to their high-quality Heat Proof Coats but they could feel with their faces that the air was getting humid.
Iris and Kate looked at each other and noticed that their faces looked somewhat wet because of the damp air.
「Perhaps we have been descending and getting close to the underground water… The passage is getting wider and wider, so I hope it’s a good sign.」(Iris)
Just as Iris said, the passageway they had been walking for the past few days was gradually getting wider the further they walked.
Now the three of them were even able to walk side by side.
「Oh? Does it mean we’re close to an exit? That would be great!」(Kate)
「Kate-kun, I don’t think so. I barely feel any airflow here, so I doubt that we’re close to an exit.」(Nord)
Kate sighed after listening to Nord’s explanation.
「Hahh… I know. I’m just trying to be positive, you know?」(Kate)
「Certainly, we need to be positive, but researchers like me make realistic predictions based on the facts they observe. I doubt we’re close to an exit but I feel like there’s something ahead.」(Nord)
Nord, who noticed something, made the illumination artifact he was holding brighter and stretched his hand forward to see the dark passageway ahead more clearly.
There was a vast space a few meters ahead. It was so wide that they couldn’t see its end even with the artifact at maximum brightness.
When they approached the space, they noticed there was a large amount of water on the floor, reflecting the light.
「Water…? Is it an underground lake?」(Iris)
「Neither of you can feel it but the temperature here is quite high. It’s more like an underground hot spring than an underground lake.」(Nord)
After Nord pointed that out, Iris and Kate noticed that white steam was rising from the water, indicating that it was clearly different from a normal underground lake.
「Hee… So it’s all hot water, huh? Perhaps this is the reason why the air is getting hot and humid.」(Kate)
「Yeah, it must be so. But… A hot spring in a cave, huh? I wonder if the water sprung up from a deeper place. This is fascinating…」(Nord)
「More importantly, Nord-san, can you find out whether we can use this water or not?」(Iris)
After Iris asked that, Nord tilted his head wonderingly.
「I can, but we can produce water with the Spring Water Bottles, right?」(Nord)
「No, I mean… It’s not for drinking, but…」(Iris)
「Hm? …Aah, I see. You’re both women after all. I understand that your bad body odor bothers you.」(Nord)
After Nord said that calmly, Iris and Kate sent cold gazes at Nord for some reason.
「Hey, we know that we stink. You don’t have to say it. It’s rude to say something like that to ladies, you know!」(Kate)
「Ahaha… I’m sorry, I’m sorry. But, look. I smell worse than you, so you don’t have to worry about that.」(Nord)
「That’s not what I mean!」(Kate)
「Nord-san, I think you should learn how to be more considerate toward women or you will never get a girlfriend. Honestly, your face is not bad in my opinion but no woman will want to get close to you if you don’t change.」(Iris)
「You think so? Women, huh…? To be honest, I don’t really care about romantic relations or anything like that.」(Nord)
Nord had a good-looking face that most women would like. The scar on his face and his muscular body made him look even more manly.
However, he never thought of using his good looks to attract women.
The reason was obvious.
「For me, my research is more important than looking for a woman to be my future wife. No, you can say that my research IS my wife!」(Nord)
Nord folded his arms and smirked as he said that, looking proud of himself.
On the other hand, Iris and Kate face-palmed and sighed.
「Seems like there’s no point in telling him to learn about women’s feelings…」(Kate)
「Well, I might not understand women’s feelings but I understand that both of you want to bathe quite badly. Don’t worry, I’ll examine this hot spring water for you. Fortunately, I still have the artifact for this. I thought it would be useful, so I didn’t sacrifice it.」(Nord)
Nord was not wearing a high-quality Heat Proof Coat like Iris and Kate, so he was sweating more than Iris and Kate were. However, he is a man who was able to keep doing research without bathing for months, so it didn’t bother him at all.
Iris and Kate were sweating less than Nord and were not as smelly as him. Moreover, they always wiped their bodies using a towel and water they produced with the Spring Water Bottle before going to sleep in their Floating Tent.
However, they are women. They want to take a bath so badly.
They usually take a bath in Sarasa’s house when they return from work, but it has been more than twenty days since the last time they bathed. It was extremely hard for them to endure it any longer.
Seeing Iris and Kate’s impatient faces, Nord quickly put down his bag, took out the artifact, approached the lake, and started examining the water.