Chapter 91 – Conquer
Now that we had finished with preparations, it was decided that we would set off for the 80th floor.
And so we departed from the 75th floor’s base camp, and started our descent.
The lower floors of the dungeon were filled with surprises for someone like me, who had no experience of serious dungeon exploration like this.
There were numerous, malicious traps that would make it impossible for you to continue exploring if you got caught in them.
As for the monsters, many of them would be considered as Disaster-rank if they were on the surface.
However, the Adventurers here were still a step ahead of them.
With quick and precise decision making, they would deal with any obstacles in their path.
The result of overwhelming experience and repetition.
Every day, they descended into the underground, searching every passage until they knew all of the best routes.
Which places were safe and which were dangerous.
What traps to disarm first, which they could do later.
It was no wonder they were considered to be the most powerful team of Adventurers ever.
I was just in awe as I followed after them.
In the end, we reached the 80th floor’s entrance without doing much at all. I just cast a little support and healing magic.
“We will rest here. Everyone, make sure you are fully prepared to battle.”
We were in the deepest part of the 79th floor.
There was an open field, with traces of the vicious battles that had been fought here in the past.
For twenty years, countless Adventurers had been forced to retreat because of this boss.
There were several large holes that had been gouged out of the outer walls.
What could have done that to such a sturdy wall?
What monster awaited us?
I wondered about such things while chewing on some nuts.
Apparently, the energy you got from nuts was longer lasting than energy from grains.
They were popular among Adventurers, because you didn’t get sleepy after eating them, and it led to being able to concentrate for longer.
These nuts were rather plain in terms of taste, but as I was eating them, I suddenly realized a shocking truth.
It was supposedly an ordinary amount for Adventurers, but I happened to eat a little more than most people, and so my nut rations were greatly insufficient.
Eating was my greatest pleasure in life, so it felt quite horrible… This was inhumane…
As I sat there in despair, Luke sighed and took something out of his bag.
“Here. I have some extra food, if you want it.”
“You must be god!”
My eyes brightened up. However, I then paused.
“What is it?”
“Uh, I would feel bad if I ate your bread, Luke. Eating someone else’s food is one of the great sins, you know.”
“Well, it isn’t for me, so don’t worry. Besides, I mostly brought it because I expected you would be hungry.”
“From now on, I am going to offer three prayers a day in whatever direction you happen to be in, Luke.”
God Luke said with cold eyes as I stuffed the bread into my mouth.
Now that I thought about it, Luke was always the one to help me.
He was the one who invited me to the Royal Magicians Order, and helped me in the criminal organization’s base, and when I had to fight the Holy Blade…
He would always be the first to rush to me and offer his help.
He really was a kind friend who treated me well.
Even though I was a commoner and he was a nobleman.
And since he came from a particularly great house, there were probably a lot of complicated restrictions.
There must be people who frowned on our friendship.
Yes, I doubted that this would be a relationship that could last.
Eventually, we will have to go our separate ways.
Perhaps we could still be friends, but would have to keep a much greater distance from each other.
And so I would like to enjoy these moments while I can.
Alright. Since Luke had given me his bread, I have to impress him now.
It was with such feelings of excitement that I faced the 80th floor. However, this was apparently not my day at all.
“I…couldn’t do anything…”
With wide eyes, I stood in front of the door that led to the depths of the 80th floor.
The Adventurers of the Conquest Team had been too brilliant.
They had already been here several times before, and they would deal with traps and monsters with familiar efficiency. There really was nothing for me to do.
“Everyone has days like that. It’s fine.”
I nodded at Luke, who tried to encourage me.
Morale was high among the Adventurers, and there was a positive atmosphere.
I didn’t have to do anything, and things were going well. Clearly this was a great situation to be in.
There wasn’t a single thing that should make me worry.
If anything, the exploration felt like it was going too smoothly.
I felt that there was something waiting for us up ahead, and that I could not lower my guard.
One of the hardest dungeons of the western continent. The Viceroza Grand Dungeon.
The depths of the 80th floor.
The Undead King’s Throne Room.
It felt like something from an abandoned castle. And in the far back, standing there like a mountain, was the boss of the 80th floor.
According to previous investigations, it was the Conquest Team’s opinion that this was an Undead of the greatest level that had been witnessed.
It could summon armies of dead that moved in waves, trampling over everything. And it unleashed magic that could evaporate mithril armor.
If it was on the surface, it would at least get a threat level of 12 or higher.
This overwhelming strength exceeded even that of dragons, which were considered to be the strongest creatures on the continent.
However, even when facing this monster that defied the living, the Adventurers had an effective way of dealing with it.
Careful research and analysis of its attack patterns.
They had studied the best countermeasures and battle formations to use for each attack.
And so the monster who had seemed so hopelessly powerful at first, seemed quite possible to defeat now.
While they fought the first form, which did not wield any weapons, they would fall into formation and cast support magic, creating a situation where they could make the most of their power.
It was during its second form that it summoned a host of undead. And so they would use the layout of the hall in order to avoid the disadvantage of numbers while they fought back.
As for the third form… It used its golden staff and magic energy that surpassed that of any human. These attacks had such destructive force that you would die immediately if hit by them.
However, if you knew the timing, then you could deal with them with magic barriers and dungeon artifacts.
At first, the battle went smoothly and according to plan.
It seemed like the Undead King had little energy left.
In just a few more minutes, we would be writing a new page in the history of this dungeon.
There was nothing that even suggested that it could go wrong.
And yet, there was something in the corner of my mind that nagged at me.
The wild intuition I had sharpened during my days of running around in the mountains.
Everything seemed too perfect.
As if the evil lord of this dungeon was luring us in…
“Don’t let your guard down. There must be something else.”
Said the captain, who was leading the battle in the front.
There must have been something that had raised their suspicions.
Upon hearing the captain’s words, everyone there immediately became alert.
And so it was not as if we were taken by surprise.
If anything, we were lucky when it came to timing.
The Undead King unsheathed its treasured sword.
A ray of black light.
There was so much magic energy that the air began to distort.
The forth form…
And then came the area attack that would later be talked about as the ‘80th Floor Hell.’
The light of destruction swallowed up everything.
I quickly cast a magic barrier, but I could not bear it.
In the moment that I lost consciousness, I thought I heard his voice right next to me.
I didn’t know how long I had been out.
But it could not have been for very long.
A few seconds. Half a minute at the most.
I opened my eyes and saw the scene of despair that sprawled out before me.
Adventurers were strewn all over the ground.
Even those who had not been wounded badly were shaking with emotionless eyes, staring into the void.
It was as if they had realized that their story had come to an end.
I tried to sit up, but then noticed that something heavy and limp was on top of me.
Like a lifeless doll… But it was my good friend.
“…! Luke! Luke, get up!”
I shouted at him, but he would not wake up.
The damage was so great that he could not continue to fight.
The words went around and around in my mind.
Yes, it had been an incredibly powerful attack, but surely it was not so bad that Luke could not withstand it.
If he had focused on protecting himself and cast a magic barrier…
That was where I stopped and realized it.
What my friend had been doing while I was casting the magic barrier.
He hadn’t protected himself, but cast it so that his barrier would protect me instead.
“Why… Why did you…”
My voice quivered.
I couldn’t forgive myself then. For being someone who had to be protected.
It always happened at the most important times.
I kept thinking about ways I could repay him, but before I knew it, he was helping me again.
I cannot bear it.
I gently laid Luke’s body to the side.
And then a silent anger began to burn within me.
We were rivals, weren’t we?
In that case, it is now my turn to protect Luke.
It didn’t matter how strong this enemy was.
But I would find a way, no matter how reckless.
If I couldn’t do it, then I would become someone who could.
I would not let things end like this.
With this determination in my chest, I faced the monster.