Part 2: Chapter 10 – The Dungeon Crawl Begins
The wind blast turned opaque as it picked up the sand from the hills, and shot towards the Adventurers.
The small particles hit their faces, and as they had not prepared for this, it went into their eyes, robbing them of vision.
The monsters that lurked in the desert would not let such an opportunity pass them by, and their forked tongues hissed towards the Adventurers.
“…You’re in my way.”
In the next instant, numerous tongues flew into the air.
Within the blink of an eye, the chained battle rings had whipped through the sandy air and cut through the hissing creatures.
Some of the monsters frantically tried to escape back into the ground, but it was too late.
The rings severed the monsters in the sand, and blood began to seep out.
Then the rings were pulled back to the Adventurer’s hands. Tor rubbed at his eyes as he sighed.
“My hair feels shaggy. Let’s head to the 10th floor at once. I’ll get a look from the sky.”
He flung the battle ring, which was then enveloped by red electricity. And in the next instant, it shot up as if propelled by some kind of spring contraption, launching Tor high into the air. The leap employed the repulsive force of magnetic power, allowing him to leap to heights that a normal person could not reach. Tor then looked at his surroundings as he began to fall.
He threw the ring towards the sand and adjusted the magnetic force in order to soften his landing. Then he told the other party members where they must go.
“I saw a slope. Over there.”
As they walked, he threw his battle rings at the four-legged monsters, killing them as they rushed down the dunes towards them.
The twins were right behind Tor.
“I heard that dungeon monsters were stronger than the ones outside…”
Even as Mailey spoke, Tor buried his battle rings in the sand, turning the monsters into corpses before they even had a chance to ambush the party.
Upon hearing Mailey’s words, Fudo answered with an expression that suggested he was not as confident as before.
“They have more magic energy, and are large. And since they are constantly fighting and eating each other in dungeons, most of them have a lot of experience in battle. And so they are especially strong in dungeons that have been left alone for a long time. As for the bosses that are at the deepest parts of the dungeon, the strongest monsters with the most magic energy gain that spot after fighting each other. …It is not normal to be able to kill such monsters while passing them by. But it seems that we live in different worlds.”
A monster that had been hiding behind a dune now swung its thorned tail at Tor.
He answered with his thundering chain chakrams, blowing off the monster’s tail. Without being able to kill the momentum, the monster too was dragged into the air as if being pulled by the tail.
Tor saw it from the top of the hill, and then he severed the monster that was in the air.
And a stream of red flowed down the sand.
After fulfilling its role, the ring returned to Tor’s hand. It clinked against his chain mail gloves.
Bastora smiled tensely.
“Everyone thinks they are strong once they are able to defeat magitec beasts. But even I think that there is something wrong with Red Lightning. What is that weapon?”
Up until the ninth layer of the dungeon, they had been able to advance through the quickest route, thanks to Boulder’s guidance. It was now the third day. While they had now encountered hundreds of monsters, no one had wielded their weapons outside of Tor.
Even when just standing there, his range exceeded five meters. But it was extended farther when he used body strengthening to quicken his step.
He was able to kill enemies in a single hit before they could even get close to them.
“His range is too wide, his reactions too swift, and his attacks too fast. It’s no wonder he ranks so high in the hierarchy.”
“But so is your party, Sheath Bane. And you are B-Rank.”
“Yes, and we were quite proud of it, you know? But after seeing this…”
Bastora scratched her cheek.
Eventually, they reached the edge of the 9th floor.
A semi-transparent, black slope was moving like a mirage. It was so vague that it made you feel anxious about stepping into it, but as they had gone through others on their way to the 9th floor, they did not hesitate this time.
The 10th floor, and then the 11th. Things went smoothly and uneventfully. It was not until they reached the 12th floor that they reached a roadblock.
“…So, what should we do?”
They had just gone down the slope to the 12th floor. Tor questioned the others, who had all sat down on the ground.
The 12th floor was a strange-looking place indeed, with its great tree-like stones standing tall. And in the distance, they could see giant birds that were at least three times the size of a human.
“We do not have the equipment for climbing. I suppose we will have to make our way through the roots of these strange rocks. However, I am worried about the birds, which seem to be carrying boulders to the top of the stone trees.”
Mailey said as she observed the movements of the monsters. Indeed, they were carrying boulders. And if they were dropped from such a height, even an Adventurer would die in an instant.
If there was a right way to get through, it would be to get on top of those strange boulders and attack the giant birds, and then move on to the next one.
However, even the smaller ones were dozens of meters high. And you would need special equipment to climb something that was the equivalent of a five-story building.
“If we didn’t have to worry about the safety from above, we could deal with the ones on the ground.”
Bastora said as she looked at the ground that could be seen from between the rock trees.
Tor turned to Fudo.
“How much supplies do we have left?”
“Enough for ten days at the very least.”
“Since it will take four to five days to return, that gives us two days to advance.”
Tor opened his waist pouch and took out some caltraps.
“I’ll deal with the ones above. And if we don’t reach the end after this floor, we will go back for now.”
Just in case, they assigned roles so that they would know what was happening above their heads, and someone would be able to guard them with magic if any stones fell from above. And then they departed.
The monsters here were like rabbits, and had great leaping ability, but Bastora killed them with her sheathed longsword.
As it swung horizontally, the impact caused the creature to reverse and crash into the monsters behind it. Then she stabbed the sword into the ground and used it to vault up into the air.
Furthermore, she used earth magic to create a platform beneath her feet, which she kicked off of, charging head first into the monster in front of her. When she landed in the center of the rabbit herd, she swung her long sword in a circle.
The monsters flew in every direction, and Bastora’s comrades put them down quickly.
“Since it’s difficult enough to walk here, it would be best to not shed any blood. Because we might slip.”
They shouted to each other, and as she ordered, they kept the bloodshed to a minimum as they made their way through the monsters. And above them, Tor flew between the stone trees.
His chain rings cut into the rock, and he used the magnetic force to propel himself forward. It looked like an action scene with wires as he moved. And every time he was in range of a giant bird, he launched the caltraps with magnetic force.
As they spread out like a shotgun, the giant birds could not dodge them. And the caltraps dug deep into their flesh.
Still, they were not lethal wounds, and they would counter attack. But then Tor would lightly swing his battle rings, the caltraps would be pulled by the magnetic force, and turn violently within the bodies of the giant birds, tearing their flesh until they returned to Tor.
He ignored the large birds that fell to the ground after being torn apart. He knocked down the collected boulders before his friends would pass below, and then he moved to the next.
“…Mr. Tor. We’re going to rest.”
Euphie said, and Tor raised a hand in reply.
After confirming that the surrounding area was safe, he jammed the battle ring into the rock and slowly descended to the ground.
“Here are carbonated magic recovery potions.”
Mailey passed the potions out to everyone.
Tor tasted the citrusy drink.
It was like a lemon soda, he mused as he drained it. Then they rested so that their magic energy would recover.
“This potion is delicious!”
Bastora laughed as she raised her cup into the air.
“Usually, they are just sour. It hurts your throat and makes chanting difficult.”
Fudo and the others nodded in agreement.
Mailey then put the potions away as she said,
“The alchemists we were working with made adjustments to the taste.”
“Impressive. I thought they were just a lot of fools who submitted to pressure.”
Said Bastora. It was hard to tell if she meant it as a compliment.
Then Fudo turned to Mailey.
“What do you think will happen to Flaretalia after the dungeon is captured?”
“It will remain even after it’s sealed, won’t it?”
“The space will remain, it’s just the number of monsters that will not increase. Some people try to turn them into tourist attractions, but it rarely goes well.”
“The more usual use for them is to make them pasture lands. As they have been exporting goods to the hot spring lands up until now, they will likely continue in that direction. I suppose they will switch to the leather and yarn industries. Many inns targeting Adventurers will close, and those who lose their jobs might find work at the mills. Did you see the fur of the rabbits we defeated earlier?”
Fudo and the others looked at each other. None of them had seen the monsters as sources of fabric, and not targets to destroy.
Tor thought about the rabbit and something came to his mind.
Mailey said as she clapped her hands.
It was a long-haired rabbit, and they were rather similar in outward appearance.
However, the rabbits we were talking about were monsters. They were quite aggressive and could leap great distances. And so they would be a lot harder to catch.
“It won’t be easy to manage, but depending on their breeding rate, it might be worth trying to keep them as livestock.”
“Additionally, they can bring in livestock from other territories and breed them here as well. That being said, there is no escaping a few years of recession.”
Fudo had a grim expression.
While there was no doubt that the dungeon had to be sealed, they did not feel good about having to pull the trigger that would put Flaretalia into a recession.
As their morale started to decline, Bastora opened her mouth.
“I don’t like to say things like this, as it shows my age, but judging from my experiences, in a few years, a peaceful future will come to this place.”
“What do you mean?”
Euphie asked. Bastora glanced over to Tor.
“Including that solo B over there. You would know if you are B-Rank. When a dungeon is sealed, the density of the mana in the area is lowered. This is the same everywhere, except in different situations called magic energy abnormality.”
Bastora slid her hands to the side to demonstrate the slope of magic energy density, and then continued.
“And the magictec beasts detect this abnormality and come charging.”
“So you are saying that if the dungeon is sealing, magitec beasts will be attracted to it?”
“Yes. On top of that, there is the issue of hunting what remains in the dungeon. After all, just because the dungeon is sealed, it doesn’t mean the monsters will disappear. The drying up of monster resources that the merchant guilds fear will not happen in an instant. Besides, this is the 12th floor. And since we’ve been moving straight towards the deepest floor, most of the monsters between here and the 9th floor are untouched.”
And then she came to her conclusion.
“Those of the Merchants Guild, they must be very shocked now, as the Adventurers Guild explains to them what will happen. Because if they earn the wrath of Adventurers now, no one will bring back what they have gathered. They know this much through experience, which is why that solo B-ranker was able to do something like this without hesitation. If there was any chance that the twins would be hated and targeted after this, they would have just ignored Flaretalia and gone elsewhere.”
“Old people talk too much.”
“Hey, you want to fight, Red Lightning! I’ll fight you verbally! I will!”
Tor ignored Bastora, who he wasn’t sure was actually trying to fight, and he got to his feet.
“We should be going soon. I think the end is near.”
That night, Tor and the others discovered the slope that led to the 13th floor.