Currently, Hajime and party is gathered around the square just in front of the Orcus Dungeon entrance.
For Hajime, he imagined a dark gloomy entrance, but the entrance looked like the entrance to a museum, heck it even had a reception desk for the entrance. There was a smiling Onee-san in uniform that was checking people who entered and left the dungeon. Apparently, this was the place people checked in with their Status Plate. Using those figures, they could record who perished in the dungeon. With the war nearing, they did not want too many casualties.
In the square near the entrance, there were many stalls there lined up. The shops were competing against each other. It was like a festival. This place was a popular area to earn a good income because people naturally gathered here. The superficial levels of the Dungeon was popular. There were many people who wanted to challenge the Dungeon, some took it seriously while others just fooled around with their lives. There seemed to be a lot of criminal activity in the back alley near the Dungeon. The country, with help from the adventurer guild, have establish operations and facilities to limit the crimes because of the pending war. This was very useful because you can buy and sell material here, and it was close to the Dungeon.
While the class was looking around like some bumpkins, they followed the duck-like mount behind Meld.
* * *
The inside of the Dungeon was totally different to the bustling of the outside. There is not much ambient light, but in front was a passage that emitted light. The passage was about 5 m high and wide, it was possible to see to some extent even without any magical light or torches. Special green stones, that were buried in the walls, emitted light to brighten the dungeon. Orcus Dungeon seemed like it had a huge vein of these green stones.
The party organized into rank and progressed forward. For a while, nothing of interest happened till they advanced into a hall. The hall was dome shaped and the ceiling looked to be around 7-8 m high. Gray fluffy balls gushed out from the cervices of the wall.
“Okay, Kouki and group step forward. Anyone else fall back! We will take shifts for the front-line. Get ready! These monsters are called Ratmen. They are that strong or dangerous, but they are quick. Take it steadily.”
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Just like he said, the Ratmen jumped at them with speedily. Their scarlet eyes shined eerily between their gray hair. Their name suited them. Ratmen were bipedal and had a muscular upper body, and they had mouse-like features. Only their chest and abdomen, which had an 8 pack, was not covered in hair. It was like they were showing off their abs.
The front-line was comprised of Kouki and his party. When Shizuku, who was at the front, saw the enemy her face stiffen up. The Ratmen gave off a creepy feeling. Kouki, Shizuku, and Ryutaro intercepted the charging Ratmen. Meanwhile, two girls that were close to Kaori started to chant. The girls were Nakamura Eri the meganekko, and Taniguchi Suzu the energetic loli. They prepare to invoke their magic. They stayed in the formation they were taught.
Kouki wielded his white shining bastard sword so quickly that it was hard to see the motions, he quickly made short work of a few enemies. His sword was one of the artifacts that the Kingdom gave to him, the “Holy Sword”. The sword had a light attribute. Any enemies caught in the light, that the sword produces, weakens and it also automatically strengthens its wielder. Even if it is “Holy”, it has such “dirty” abilities.
Ryutaro’s class was a “Fist Fighter”, so he used gauntlets and shin guards as his equipment. These were also artifacts, and they could cause shock-waves. They were also believed to be unbreakable. Ryutaro takes a imposing stance and does not let any enemy pass by him with carefully placed kicks and punches. Though he had no shield, he acted like a heavy armored tank.
Shizuku, who was like a Samurai girl, with her “Swordswoman” class and sword that was like the mixture of a Shamshir and a Katana. Took a battojutsu stance and drew her sword. All the enemies were cut in an instant. The draw was so refined, that the knights were dazzled by it.
While the other students were fascinated by Kouki’s party’s battle, a chant resounded.
“””Swirling Dark Flames, Incinerate My Enemies, Return them to the Earth as Ashes, “Spiral Flame”.”””
Three people simultaneously casted it, and three spiraling flames engulfed the Ratmen. The Ratmen gave out a death cry as the flames turned them to ashes.
They noticed that all the Ratmen were wiped out. The other students didn’t get a turn. It seemed like that the enemies on the first level were too weak for Kouki’s party.
“Yeah, Good Job! Next time you guys try it, don’t lower your guard though.”
Meld warned not to let up, but he smiled at the prowess the students showed. However, the tension from their first experience at encountering monsters in a dungeon could not be stopped. The students faces broke out into smiles. Meld just shrugged his shoulders at their reactions.
“Although this is a training exercise, don’t forget to keep in mind about Magic Stones. Since it’s obviously overkill.”
At Meld’s words the people in Kaori’s group that casted the spell blushed.
There were no particular problems from there, they repeated battles in the same manner. Everything was going well in the lower levels. Eventually, they arrived at the 20th floor, which is the mark of a first-class adventurer. The highest level explored was the 65th floor for Orcus Dungeon. This achievement was done by adventurers over 100 years ago. Getting to the 40th level is considered Elite first-class. Those who passed the 20th level was considered first-class. Since all the students were cheats, they easily broke through to the 20th level, even if they did not have much experience.
Traps were the scariest feature of a Dungeon. In some instances, the traps were lethal. There was something called Fair Scope for the lower levels. This is a gadget that detected traps by feeling flow of magic. Because most traps in a dungeon use magic, the Fair Scope can detect more than 80% of traps. The detecting range is somewhat narrow, so experience or information was needed to progress smoothly.
Therefore, they were able to quickly breeze through the floors. This was mainly because of how earnestly the Knights guided them. Meld especially mentioned to them that if they did not know the layout, check for the traps. If they were not sure if traps were around, move with caution.
“All right, you guys. From this point on, not only will there be other types of demons but they will work together to attack us. Do not get careless just because it had been easy so far! After we clear the 20th level, it will be it for today! Get fired up!”
Meld’s undertone in his message resounds with everyone. Up to this point, Hajime had not done anything in particular. Once, he practiced on a monster that the knights had weakened. He created a pitfall for the monster to fall into, and stabbed it with a sword. Until now, he had only defeated one dog-like monster.
No one wanted him in their party. Basically, he just stood behind the cover provided by the knights. It was pretty pathetic. However, by repeatedly using his “Synergy” skill in combat he could improve his magical power. His magical power raised by 2 points, it seemed actual combat was useful.
(Still, I’m totally a parasite player…)
Again, a weakened monster was thrown to Hajime by the Knight that weakened it. When it approached, Hajime transmuted the ground and breathed out a sigh. With it restrained, Hajime swung his sword to strike down the monster.
(Well, it seems like my precision with transmutation has gone up. Let’s do our best step-by-step.)
He consumed a magic replenishing pill, as he wiped the sweat of his brow. Hajime had not noticed, but there were some knights that were impressed with him.
The knight did not expect anything from him in the beginning. In battle however he dared to fight against the demons and do not just stand around. Of course, weakened monsters.
For the knights, they thought Hajime would fight using his barely used sword. Hajime choose to use his transmutation to seal their movements. He brought down decisive blows on the monsters with a reliably strategy that the Knights had never seen before. “Synergist” was considered as a crafting class. They had never thought of using the transmutation skill like that in combat.
Since he did not have anything else, Hajime thought about transmuting his weapon. He thought that if he could manipulate minerals, why can’t he manipulate the ground? Since he was surrounded by so many strong people, and him just defeating a few, he felt useless. This was his first public exhibition of his tactic. When his impotence was shown in the combat training in the capital, he came up with this tactic.
They stopped for a short rest. He looked forward and met eyes with Kaori. She looked towards Hajime and smiled at him. Kaori seemed to be keeping an eye on him after last night’s declaration to “protect” him. This caused Hajime to be embarrassed and he broke eye contact. Her expression sulked slightly at that. Shizuku who had been observing what was going on with a wry smile on her face, she asked in a small voice.
“Kaori, why are you two constantly looking at each other? You can’t be considering a romantic comedy in the Dungeon, no time for that.”
Kaori blushed at the teasing. She refuted Shizuku angrily.
“Mou, Shizuku-chan. Don’t say strange things. I was just wondering if Nagumo-kun was alright. That’s it!”
Shizuku knew it wasn’t like that, but she kept her mouth shut. She didn’t want to say anything that might upset her more. Though she couldn’t hide the laughter in her eyes. Kaori saw that and just sulked at it.
Hajime just side glance at their state, suddenly he felt a gaze. The unpleasant gaze was full with negative emotions and seemed to be glued to him. Hajime was not unfamiliar with such stares in the classroom, but this was feeling could not compare, it was so grave.
It was not the first time today that he felt that gaze. Since the morning he had felt this stare. When he tried to locate the stare, it would disappear. Hajime was tired of it, after having it repeated so many times.
(I wonder what it is…did I do something? I thought I was doing my best even if I was incompetent. I wonder if that’s the cause? I’m not getting arrogant! Target?)
Hajime breathed out a deep sigh. He started to feel the bad feelings Kaori mentioned.
The party searches the 20th level. Each level of the Dungeon was several kilometers in each direction. It would take dozens of people several months to map out an unknown level. 47 levels have been mapped properly, so it was not that easy to get lost. There was not a big worry of getting caught in a trap.
The innermost room of the 20th level had a very complicated geographical feature. The walls were protruding like a stalactite cave and icicles formed around the room. The stairs to the 21st floor was just ahead of this room. If they reached that point, the training would be done for the day. In ancient times they were able to wield transportation type magic, but at the current age such means was impossible. They must head back the old fashion way. The party relaxed slightly, since the walls were protruding they had to advance in a column.
After a bit, Kouki’s party and Meld that was in the front stopped. The classmates who were keen, got into their fighting stance.
“They’re camouflage!. Make sure to pay attention to your surroundings!”
Meld advised them. The wall suddenly rose and discolored a bit. The body that was camouflaged was now dark brown, and they stood on 2 legs. It raised its chest and started to pound on it like a drum. When they took a good look at it, it was a gorilla-like demon with a camouflage ability.
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“Rockmounts! Be careful of their arms, they are strong!”
Meld yelled echoed in the cave-like room. Kouki’s party went to engage them. Ryutaro was able to reflect the blow that came from a Rockmount. Kouki and Shizuku try to surround the beast. They could not position themselves because the terrain layout was too obstructive.
When the Rockmount felt that he could not pass by Ryutaro, it withdraw a bit and inhaled a deep breath.
The intense roar vibrated the whole room.
A shock ran through their bodies, it did not damage them, but it froze them. This was Rockmount’s Special Magic “Intimidating Roar”. The roar carried the magic that caused the temporary paralysis.
Kouki’s vanguard took the roar almost point-blank, this caused them to freeze momentarily. The Rockmount took this gap in defense to attack, it lifted a boulder and threw it at Kaori’s rear guard. A stunning shot-put form was executed by it. The rock flew towards Kaori, and the frozen vanguard could not move to stop it.
Kaori and her partners ready the magic wands they had, to intercept the boulder. There was not enough room to dodge it. However, the moment they were going to activate their magic, all of them involuntarily were stunned at the sight before them.
The boulder that was thrown was another Rockmount. Nearing Kaori’s group, it did a stunning rotation and expanded its arms. It’s appearance was like a Rune Diver. A voice saying “Ka-o-ri-chan~!” could almost be heard. Strangely, its eyes were bloodshot and its breathing was rough. Kaori, Eri, and Susu unintentionally screamed and stopped their magic.
“Hey! What are you doing in a battle”
In a hurry, Meld went to slay the Rockmount that was still in the dive. The girls apologized, but the bad feeling was still there. Their face had paled.
There a person that got mad at such a situation. Our very own mass of justice, Amanokawa Kouki.
“Bastard…You dare treat them like that…I won’t forgive you!”
Kouki seemed to have misunderstood why the girls were pale and feeling bad, he thought they were afraid of their impending death. To frighten girls like that! Indescribably, small signs of anger surfaced on Kouki. His “Holy Sword” seemed to shine in response to his feelings.
“Myriad of Soaring Wings, Reach the Heavens, “Soaring Flash””
“Ah, this fool!”
Ignoring Meld’s voice, Kouki brandished his sword over his head and swung down in one motion. His chant had made the sword emit an intense light, the slash released the light. Drawing a curve, the light bisected the Rockmount without encountering any resistance. The blade of light continued on until it destroyed the back wall.
Debris lightly fell from the damaged wall. Kouki exhaled and gave the girls a sparkling smile. He had defeated the monster that scared them. It’s alright now! About to give credit to his voice, he was approached by a smiling Meld who smack him.
“You fool. I understand how you feel, but you shouldn’t use such a technique in such a narrow place. If it collapse, what are you going to do?”
At Meld’s rebuke, he choked. Kouki tried to apologize. The girls approached him and gave him a strained smile to try to comfort him.
At that moment, the collapsed wall caught Kaori’s attention.
“What is that? It’s sparkling.”
Everyone looked at the wall Kaori was mentioning. There blooming on the wall were minerals that radiated pale light. It was like a crystal covered in indicolite. The girls were enchanted by the beautiful sight of the crystals.
“Oh, that’s Grantz Crystal. A one this big in size is rare.”
When talking about Grantz Crystal, it was like an ore that was like a jewel. The crystal did not have any special effects, but it’s cool and sparkling appearance is popular among the ladyship. Rings, earrings, pendants, and other jewelry have it set into them and it’s very well received. The jewel is one of the top 3 chooses for proposal rings.
Enchanted, Kaori’s cheeks blushed. Hajime and Shizuku were the only ones who noticed this.
“If that’s the case, I’ll retrieve it!”
The one who announced that and abruptly moved toward it was Hiyama. He approached the wall and quickly reached towards the crystal. Meld panicked at that.
“Kora! Don’t just do what you want! We haven’t confirmed if it’s safe!”
Hiyama pretended not to hear and finally arrived in front of the crystal. Meld chased after Hiyama to stop him. At that moment, one of the knight finished his analysis with the Fair Scope. He paled at the result.
“Commander! It’s a trap!”
However their warnings came too late. The moment Hiyama touched the Grantz Crystal, magic started to spread from the crystal. The trap was set for people who became so fascinated with the crystal that they would touch it carelessly. There’s a good story about this. It’s the way of the world.
In a blink of an eye, the magic circle spread throughout the whole room, and it gradually shined brighter. It was like a replication of the magic that summoned them.
“Withdraw! Get out of this room this instant!”
At Meld’s insistence, everyone started to clear the room in a hurry, but they weren’t fast enough. When the light filled the room, everyone momentary felt a floating sensation. The students felt the change in atmosphere. They were slammed onto the ground with a thud.
With the increasing pain on his butt caused by the fall, Hajime looked at the surrounding. Same as Hajime, his classmates fell on their backside. Meld, the knights, and Kouki’s party quickly stood up and observed their surroundings. Seems like the earlier magic was a transportation type magic. Since such magic was not possible with current magic, it was most likely an ancient magic.
They were all transferred onto a huge bridge made of stone. Approximately it was 100m in length. The ceiling looked to be about 20 m. There was no river passing by underneath the bridge, because of the darkness nothing else could be seen. It felt like there were in an abyss.
The width of the bridge was about 10m, but there were not even handrails. If you slipped there would be nothing to grab onto, and you would fall head-first. The group was right in the middle of the bridge. On both sides of the bridge, they could see a passage that led to a stairway that ascended to the upper level.
When he confirmed it, Meld issued out orders with a grim expression.
“You guys, get up there immediately, go towards the stairs. Hurry!”
Quickly the students moved. However, a trap in a dungeon was not going to be so easy, the retreat wasn’t that easy. Monsters emerged from the magic circles that appeared on both sides of the bridge. On one side was a huge monster. The other had a large amount of monsters.
Meld started at the huge demon and just whispered…
“No way…a Behemoth.”
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