The Dungeon Core Assembly
When the light dimmed, Orange and Rokuko were in a large room.
It was luxuriously made, like one used for a ball. This year’s venue was likely a [Castle] setting.
However, this room was large enough to accommodate even something as large as a dragon flying freely through it. She’d never heard of a castle being that large.
The lineup of attendees was as chaotic as every. To point out the noticeable ones, there was a dragon, a pegasus, and a unicorn. There were also ogres, frogs, slugs… as well as various cores that had humanized.
Even so, Core No. 5, the Dragon King, stood out. His size was in a class of his own, but what stood out the most was the sheer size of the meat he was eating. What sort of animal did that [Manga Meat] come from? It was practically as big as him…
For the time being, Rokuko decided to rush over to the side so as to not stand out. The venue was held indoors as opposed to last time, which meant there were walls.
The wall would help settle her mind. Recesses were supreme.
“Let’s go to the wall, No. 629.”
“Nah, I’m going to go say hi to my friends and make the rounds~”
In contrast to Rokuko, who wanted nothing more than to get out of the way, Orange started to go say hi to his friends… but he froze on the spot and turned around.
“… Wait, now that I think about it… I changed factions… nkyuu…”
Orange shook himself.
He’d changed to Haku’s faction, the faction of the one known as the [Betrayer]. With that, the cores that had been his friends up till then would likely distance themselves from him. He stamped his foot on the ground.
“Theeen, Rokuko, please introduce me to the cores in Haku-sama’s faction!”
“… Sorry, I don’t know them either.”
“We’ve been keeping me being Haku Ane-sama’s sister a secret from everyone, so… Orange, why don’t you go meet with your friends as usual? We’ll keep it a secret.”
In that case, he could go greet his friends, but still—
“Nyuu want me to spy?”
—Hiding your identity as being inside another faction. An informer.
I see, Haku is called the [Betrayer], after all…
Orange was convinced of his own assumption.
“I couldn’t do that to my friends… but still, no one knowing who’s in Haku-sama’s faction is troubling.”
“Now that you mention it, yeah. As expected of Haku Ane-sama!”
Rokuko nodded to herself.
By the way, Rokuko actually just stood out way more than the other cores, making it easier for them to hide.
Even if she couldn’t hide Rokuko, making such a cute little sister be her [Pawn]… is her heartlessness her secret to her ranking in the top ten…?
Orange thought to himself.
“So, Orange, no one knows you’re in Haku Ane-sama’s faction now either, right? You can go meet your friends, you don’t have to spy on them.”
“Ooh. Rokuko, you’ve got a good head on you, but you know? My friendship with them collapsed the moment I changed factions! … Probably.”
“… They’re going to hate me, please cheer me up.”
“If you don’t have any confidence in yourself, why not just not?”
“Uuu… I’m just being anxious…”
In truth, Orange’s friends were mostly timid cores and would very likely run away in surprise upon hearing he’d joined the [Betrayer].
Of course, his friends were basically all part of the Beast King Faction… Which meant that Orange had become their [Enemy]. That being the case, she could see how it would be hard to stay friends.
“M-Maybe! If I explained the situation… they’d understand… nkyuu… maybe!”
“What will you do if they understand the situation and still not want to talk to you?”
“Nkyuaaaaw… R-Rokuko is mean! Nyuu are breaking my little heart!”
“Well alright then. I’ll be heading to the wall, you just go play with your friends.”
Orange hopped away, leaving Rokuko.
… Core No. 112, Ontentoo, came up as Rokuko saw him off.
“Yo, Rokuko. Long time no see… what’re ye staring at?”
“Oh, No. 112. Oh, well, him.”
“Nnn…? The rabbit? You know him?”
Orange was talking to one of his friends… a giant squirrel around the size of a child, as well as a chat about the same height. Soon after, his friends looked at him with difficult-to-read faces—well, more difficult than usual, seeing as how they were animals—before silently walking away from him.
Carrying an air of dejection, Orange returned.
“They left me…”
“Oh, did something happen? Cheer up.”
“Yeah… wait, Core No. 112-sama!? U-Um, I’ll try!?”
“No. 629, you’re talking strangely.”
“Kukakaka! Well, I dunno what’s going on, but as long as you got the will left, you can keep moving on!”
Saying that, Ontentoo patted Orange’s head with his tail.
It was a bit heavy, but Orange received his pat gladly.
“N-Nkyuu! Thank kyuu very much”
“Yeah. I’m going to go say hey to No. 5-sama. Cya, Rokuko.”
“Yeah, see you.”
Rokuko saw him off with a wave, the ground shaking as he took every step.
Meanwhile, Orange still hadn’t managed to get a hold of himself and mechanically turned to face Rokuko.
“Wh-Why did Core No. 112-sama come here!? And he talked to you!?”
“Why? … This is the core assembly, of course?”
“THAT-EXPLAINS-NOTHING! Why were kyuu talking with him like it was normal!? Didn’t kyuu say kyuu had a Dungeon Battle against him!?”
We just talked though… and what’s the Dungeon Battle have to do with it?
Rokuko tilted her head to the side.
“I’m friends with No. 112’s master. And Kehma’s No. 112’s buddy, yep. We’re friends with No. 112.”
“Uaaah. How can I put it? Kyuu are his friend even after doing a Dungeon Battle?”
“Oh, that’s irrelevant.”
Rokuko responded, thinking back to the three-way dungeon battle. That was another Dungeon Battle, but she wasn’t friends with any of them.
Heck, Core No. 666—Aidi—even declared herself as her best friend… for some reason.
“Nkyuuu, I’m going to go meet a friend that’s not part of the Beast King Faction. Core No. 112-sama’s words encouraged me!”
“See you soon. I’ll be at the wall for sure this time.”
With that, Rokuko once again watched Orange hop away.
This time, the friend was a rope… tentacle… thing? A thing. Rokuko had no choice but to be concerned over the extent of Orange’s group of friends.
Still though, this time it just pulled away a little before their friendship that had already crossed faction lines took control and led to them embracing each other.
It still just looked like he was being predated, but it was a beautiful, ish, kind of… friendship. Maybe.
“Yup, good for you, No. 629…”
Watching up till she figured it was probably safe, Rokuko began to walk to her recess that she would definitely actually make it to this time.
Just then, she heard the sound of footsteps, but when she turned to look who it was, she saw a core that walked gracefully without hiding her true self at all.
An exemplary core amongst the 600 series cores, she had already managed to humanize. The person in question had long red hair, telling greatly of her temperament. With a bold smile on her face, she was putting off a feeling that seemed like she’d use the magic sword that was her own doppelganger to cut you down if you let your mind wander.
“Rokuko. It’s been a while, doing well?”
“Oh, Aidi! Yep, I’m doing great. You?”
“Yeah, of course.”
It was Core No. 666. The Demon King Faction’s star child—the one who calls herself Aidi, as well as one of Rokuko’s few [Friends].