With that, we decided to continue to the next floor. Without a method of communication should we separate we decided to stick together as a group this time. We won’t split to level again until we find a floor where it is more efficient to do so.
“So you’ve never been on this floor before?” I ask Kiel as we continue to descend down the staircase
“No, any one of the monsters on the last floor would have creamed me before. Making it past the boss Borka would have been completely impossible even if I was stupid enough to try back then.” Kiel says scratching his head with a happy look on his face
“In that case, we have no idea what to expect. Everybody be on your toes. It’s been easy so far, but I can’t shake this feeling that if we let our guard down it will mean disaster.” I say brushing my hand up against the handle of my sword
I’m not exaggerating. I really do have a gut feeling that things are just a little bit too easy. Humans are numerous, persistent, and creative. At some point they must have had the idea to try to send an army down here to clear it, and yet 20 floors is the record? Something just doesn’t quite seem right about that.
“Well, it was only that easy because of you I’m sure,” Kera says as she passes me in the stairs
The way she descends worries me. At first glance, it just looks like she is jumping down several steps at a time, but upon further inspection, you can notice that she is skipping down the steps. How she can do such a thing without falling is a mystery to me.
“Well, just because I haven’t gone down to these floors myself, doesn’t mean I’m completely in the dark about them. I’ve heard some rumors from passing adventurers. A couple years ago a myth about a magical item being on the 22nd floor popped up and Jin became a real tourist spot due to all the people coming by to try and claim it.” Kiel says smiling as he reminisces
He might not have had the best childhood here, but he really does seem to like this town nonetheless.
“Anything about the next floor that we should know?” I ask
“Well, there is one thing. On the next floor are some animated swords. I’ve not heard that they are particularly tough or anything, but apparently a lot of naive adventurers pick them up after defeating them hoping they will sell for a lot. The metal they are made of is such trash quality that it takes more money to purify than it’s worth.” Kiel explains
“They have a magical core on them though if you can manage to nick that I could find a use for it!” Kera chimes in
Despite how far ahead of us she is, she still seems to be able to hear our conversation. Is it that sound carries well in this staircase? Or is she just that good at getting into other people’s business? I must remember that the second time we met she discovered my secret because she was spying on us.
The light of the next floor grows closer while we speak. It’s far dimmer than the last floor, but it is still a bluish-green tint.
“So do adventurers have any reason to challenge the dungeons besides the possibility of getting a magical item?” I ask Kiel
“What do you mean?” He responds caught off guard by the sudden leap in conversation
“Well, earlier you said that magical items immediately make someone royalty. I can see why that would make some people want them… but I wouldn’t think that adventurers would strive for that kind of thing. If it’s so uncommon for someone to sell a magical item, then what’s the point of getting one if you’re not trying to become a political figure?” I continue as I think aloud
From what I’ve heard the only two things that are in a dungeon are extremely rare magical items, and monsters strong enough to protect them.
“I’ve heard a ton of people talk about that before, but I’m afraid I didn’t understand a lot of it. They would always talk about the adventurers’ role in politics, but it was always mostly politics so I could never follow the conversation. The only incentive I know is an age-old legend about the dungeons.” He says as his eyes become slightly fearful
That sounds like a flag to me. Legends are always smoke to the fire. They might not be completely accurate but they always have touches of truth to them.
“Do tell, I like legends.” I say with a grin
“…They say the power of a god lies at the bottom of a dungeon. It’s called the “Ultimate Irony” though. I mean, to get to the bottom of a dungeon you would have to be several times stronger than any Yuusha that has ever tried. You would need the power of a god, to obtain the power of a god.” He says with a smile that seems to imply that he is reassuring himself
“There… aren’t any gods right? I mean outside of religions. I’m not going to run into a god, or some kind of demi-god right?” I ask with a cold feeling running down my spine
I’m already being hunted by a complete cheat-like entity; I don’t want to get on the bad side of something far and beyond stronger.
sigh “I want to say no, but when I look at you I can’t help but think I’m just jinxing myself.” He responds as we reach the next floor
The layout is completely different from the last. Previously we were in a flat room that expanded out quite a far distance, with the only thing obstructing our vision being the weird stalagmites. This floor however resembles a cave. Right away there are three paths before us separated by cave walls; looking through each path carefully, they seem to stretch on much further. The Sol Crystals are implanted into the rocks on the ceiling of the cave, almost resembling modern lights.
“It seems if we explore too much we are going to get lost on this floor, so let’s head straight for the exit,” I say as I try to choose a path
“I never heard about this. I wish we had a map or something” Kiel says scratching his head
I suppose no matter how long you listen to stories about the dungeon, without going in yourself there are going to be chunks of info missing.
“Let’s just start moving. We won’t find the exit standing around talking about it.” Kera says as she starts down the left path
We attempt to follow, but we are stopped by a trap. As she walks ahead of us, a wall suddenly rises behind her.
“Hey!” Kiel yells as he sprints forward and begins to bang on the wall
“Kera! Hold on! Fal-Kei-Tera Earth Manipulation!” I yell as a try to free her
A spark jumps out of the wall that I attempt to use the spell on and shocks me.
“Wha-? Fal-Kei-Tera Earth Manipulation!” I say as I attempt it again
Again the spell fails and I’m shocked.
Is this a power of the dungeon? I’ve not run into this problem yet, even during the trial. Is it due to us being on a harder floor? That clown statue on the first floor seemed to be able to use the same spell. I suppose the person who made this dungeon must have known to take countermeasures. Are all my tricks going to stop working as we go lower and lower?
Fal-Kei-Tera Earth Manipulation, Tei-Meta-Tera Golem Form.” I say placing my hand on the floor
As before stone begins to rise from the ground and take the shape of a small golem.
“What are you doing?” Kiel ask giving me an odd look
“The dungeon is stopping me from moving this stone. I’m testing to see if the same applied to the walls and floor.” I say as I point towards the right path
“And now I’m going to make sure that no more of us get separated.” I continue as the golem moves to my will and walks down the path
A moment passes before yet another wall slams down behind him. I think I’ve also figured out the trigger conditions as well. The golem was about as far into the path he went down as Kera was when the wall rose up behind him. Golems move significantly slower, so at the very least I can rule out it being on a timer.
Sigh “Seems this floor is going to be a complete pain. Everybody stick together! If you get separated just try to find the exit. We will all meet there. “
“What about Kera?” Kiel asked giving a somewhat worried look to the wall that separated her from us
“She knows where we are headed. Hopefully, she can handle herself and meet us there.” I say as I stop before the last cave
This is the only path left. I don’t know if the walls behind us will lower again after a certain amount of time, or if they will stay up until we leave entirely. It could be a disaster if this door separated anybody else in the group. Those left on this side would have to try to wait out the door or leave and start over completely.
The imps jump on Kurobe and everybody huddles together as we pass through the threshold. We all make it through and after some distance, the wall raises behind us.
You know thinking about that the other way around, we just lost our only escape route as well didn’t we?
“Gah!” Kurobe suddenly yells out as he falls to the ground and covers his nose
“What is it?! Another trap?” I say as I look around frantically
“No! Something ahead smells absolutely horrid!” He says and he hides his nose with everything he has
It is obviously having no effect.
“Wait, seriously? You’re cowering over a bad smell?” I ask in an unintentionally snarky voice
“I am not cowering! For a while now I’ve been getting the feeling that my nose has become more sensitive. It’s like smearing salt in a wound, painful and difficult to bear.” He says rising proudly, before once again falling to cover is nose
Mak and Kay both fall off, but Bik barely manages to keep his balance.
His nose has become more sensitive? What could have caused that? If it was being caused by the dungeon wouldn’t it have affected all of us?
“Gero, do you know of anything that could be causing Kurobe’s sudden nose sensitivity?” I ask
I suppose since our anatomy is different it could be caused by some kind of drug or something he ate. If that’s the case then I should start looking for an antidote quickly
gero “As he is a member of Mano-sama’s empire, he will become stronger at a significantly higher pace. The Ina, as well as all of their subspecies, gain stronger perceptive abilities as their body’s capabilities rise.” Gero says with a bow
“So this is just his nose becoming more powerful?” I ask as I look over at Kurobe
The proud wolf that nearly took my arm off has been reduced to a sniveling puppy. I suppose getting stronger isn’t always a good thing
“Why did the smell only just hit you? Shouldn’t you have smelled it from far away if it is so potent?” I ask as I walk over to him
I kind of feel for him honestly. I wish there was something I could do.
“I heard the sound of stone moving up ahead and to the left. A door must have opened when one shut behind us.” He says as he rises to his feet
He is attempting to look proud again, but there is still and faint look of disgust and pain on his face.