Thursday, 11 August 2016

Death March 1-5 w/o TLN

Chapter 5: 【Dungeon】

-Translator: MiaoMix
-Editor: Options

>> Satou here. As a child, I was extremely  fascinated by a dungeon game in my father’s collection, which was probably the reason I went into the game industry. I’ll never forget the triumph I felt when I obtained a super-rare sword in that game. <<


 I check the 「Map」, which merely displays 「Demon’s Dungeon: Lowest Floor」, but does not reveal the paths.
 ...Knew it wouldn’t be that easy.
 Anyway, for City Adventure to suddenly turn into Dungeon Attack, if this were a tabletop RPG, I should be worrying about the Game Master’s state of mind.
 Ah, enough about that, the beastgirls are looking uneasy.
 I should take care of this first, at least.
 Let’s start with introducing myself.
 “I’m Satou, traveling merchant.”
 “Cat~”
 “Dog, nano desu.”
 “I’m Lizard.”
 Are those names?
 Other than Urs, seems like their previous owner also referred to them this way.
 The Dog Ear and the Cat Ear girls have been slaves since infancy while the Reptilian only became one after coming of age. She does have a proper name, but it is long and full of fricatives.
 In the end, since they asked to be named something simple, I decide to call them 「Pochi」, 「Tama」, and 「Liza」. Some of you might scream: “Don’t treat them as pets!” But if I name them normally, I will surely mix them up, so please bear with them while we’re in the dungeon!
 Liza’s name doesn’t come from 「Lizard」, but from the first two syllables of her real name.
 Right, before getting out of here, let’s treat their injuries.
 I take out some towels and the waterskin from my bag, as well as the medicinal ointment. It was meant to be a gift for Martha-chan and the others, but I can just buy more later.
 “Wash and disinfect your wounds with water and this cloth. After that, apply the ointment and wrap them up. Don’t reuse the same cloth you used for washing, okay?”
 The three look confused after being given brand new towels.
 Right, right. I’m getting the vibe that, in the beginning, if I don’t order them around whenever I talk, they’ll only make blank faces in response. This reminds me of when I took care of a relative’s children.
 “What is it? I’ll turn around when you treat your wounds, don’t worry!”
 Turns out they’re not embarrassed, but rather surprised about being given quality cloth and ointment as slaves.
 “Thank you, nano desu. It’s okay if you don’t turn around, nano desu.”
 “Pretty cloth. So happy~”
 “Um… Young Master, you didn’t have to give us medicine and water… um… it would be better if...”
 Pochi and Tama undo the linen bands tied at the waist of their shirts, undress without a care, and start the treatment.
 Other than their ears and tails, these two are no different from human children.
 Pochi sports a brown bob-cut, while Tama has short white hair. Liza has her waist-length red hair tied up behind her back.
 Apparently the more cautious type, Liza is hesitant, but when I 「Order」 her to use them without worry, she starts treating her wounds like the other two.
 If you don’t look at her beautiful tail and the orange scales covering parts of her body, Liza is no different from a human woman.
 From what I can see, her orange scales cover the area near the root her tail, from her neck to her shoulders, from her elbows to her fingertips, and from her knees to her toes. Also, judging from her clothing, her breast size is quite disappointing.
 As the three finish their treatment, I give them some pastries. I call them pastries, but they are the size of your palm and each girl got three. This should stave off hunger for now. These pastries were bought as gifts when Zena-san and I went on the tasting tour.
 Pochi stares at them drooling, but no one makes a move.
 “Don’t be reserved, just eat.”
 Can’t they eat without permission? Like I thought, these slaves were mistreated.
 “Tasty~”
 “So-, so sweet, and tasty!”
 Pochi chokes, and I pass her the waterskin.
 “I won’t take it away, so take your time.”
 I kinda feel like a babysitter.
 “So there were pastries made with honey...”
 Liza seems to be stunned, quite an overreaction for pastries.


 I check the 「Map」 again. Still, outside of this chamber, nothing is displayed.
 Does it not work here? Or is the function blocked?
 I open the 「Menu」 and cast 「Full Map Exploration」. If this doesn’t work, do I have to explore the paths myself?
 Such concerns instantly vanish as the entirety of 「Demon’s Dungeon」 comes into view. This magic is so convenient combined with the 「Map」. This is Easy Mode.
 Now then, despite showing every last path of the dungeon, a flat map is hard to understand, so I switch to 3D mode. In strategy games like WW, elevation is an essential element to victory, so a 3D map is necessary.
 It is not only in 3D, but also rotatable, so I can view it from every angle.
 Looking at the Map’s three-dimensional display, I feel that this place looks less like a dungeon, and more like the inside of an anthill. Branching, tree-like paths leading to chambers, which themselves lead to even more branching paths.
 Criss-crossing paths, randomly connected chambers, and countless branches, it really has the air of a dungeon.

 Taking a rough survey, I find that there are a hundred fifty-nine people in the dungeon, of which there are seven demi-humans and a hundred fifty-two humans; a quarter of the total are slaves. The riot suppression squadron had about fifty members, now separated in three places.
 Zena-san is with one of those groups. Looking at the 「Map」, I don’t think we will cross paths for now, but she should be fine as long as she stays with her fellow soldiers.
 I do wish they would come here actually.
 The young priest of 「Garlion Temple」 is some place far from Zena.We would only meet up near the exit. Personally, I wouldn’t want such a talented person to die here, but even if I leave him alone, he looks like he can survive. It would be great if I do run into him though
 Were there some way to communicate, I could guide everyone to the surface. However convenient this 「Menu」 is, it doesn’t come with a function to chat with others.

 Anyway, the Eyeball Demon can’t be found by searching. There’s a conspicuous chamber at the deepest part of the dungeon, which makes me wonder if it is there…
 But it wouldn’t be funny if the dungeon collapses when that guy is hastily defeated, so I’ll leave it alone for now.
 The main enemies are insect-type monsters from Level 10 to 20.
 There were only about twenty of them on the first search, but the number increases every time I refresh, now totaling more than a hundred. Frog- and snake-type monsters have also appeared. Without exception, these monsters hold the same title 「Primitive Monster」. Does that apply to monsters born immediately after the dungeon’s creation? The wyvern I saw before didn’t have such a title.
 There seems to only be one path out of this chamber, so it would be bad if we find ourselves cornered on the way out! Should I give these girls weapons too?
 Okay, let’s pretend I found something in the shadows and pull out some spears and swords from 「Storage」!
 Having made the decision, I walk towards the path, but the three of them quickly catch up in a panic.
 “Don’t abandon us! We’ll do anything no desu!”
 “Don’t leave us!”
 “Young Master, you can use us as tools, so please bring us along. I beg of you.”
 I am being desperately begged to stay. Even so, none of them pull on my clothing. Is it due to their experience or training as slaves?
 “I have made you worry. I was just checking out the path ahead. You won’t be abandoned, so relax.”
 I do my best to comfort them. Though I feel like they wouldn’t be reassured even if I say that, it’s better than nothing.
 While waiting for the three girls to finish their food, I take out a short sword and a magic gun from my bag and equip them.
 The magic gun is about the size of a handgun and uses mana as bullets rather than lead. The cost-performance is excellent, as the power can be adjusted as I like, with the lowest requiring only one point of mana per shot.
 In my case, I recover about three points of mana every second, so I can actually continue to fire it indefinitely. It’s comparable to the convenient default weapon in an FPS, including the annoying tenth-of-a-second lag after pulling the trigger.
 Liza is the only one among the three with a combative skill.
 She has the skill 「Spear」. Yet it would be too strange to pull one out from my bag, so I give Liza the short sword I had taken out. Perhaps not expecting me to let a slave hold a weapon, she is somewhat conflicted, but I insist on it.
 I will serve as the vanguard, and ask Liza to watch for surprise attacks behind us. Liza herself wishes to be at the front, but I still make her stay back.
 The 「Radar」 ensures that I would never be taken by surprise, but if I give them something to do, they might forget their uneasiness a little.
 The lineup is me, Tama, Pochi, then Liza. 「Ordering」 them preemptively with a serious tone, I forbid them from taking part in combat without my consent. Since they are only Level 2 or 3, if they got too careless and were attacked by a monster, they would die in one hit.
 Basically, this is an escort mission.

 Both the footpath and the stone walls of the corridor are made of the same material.
 It’s quite dim without a glowing stone floor. Fortunately, there are stone pillars that light up every few meters, making the shadowy cavern look creepy, but at least traversable.
 The stone pillars are about waist-height, and annoyingly, their light only reaches up to the chest, so the ceiling appears pitch-black.
 I’m guessing it is designed to cause uneasiness. How considerate in the worst way.
 If the path is too dark, we wouldn’t be able to get out of this chamber, but there might be a remedy for that.
 “Tama, if you can see something ahead, say it quietly. Pochi, tell me if there is any strange smell or noise. Liza, I’ll let you guard the back. But don’t focus on it too much and lag behind.”
 “Aye!”
 “Yes nano desu!”
 “Yes!”
 They still look uneasy, but their answers are firm.

   >>> Obtained skill 「Commanding」
   >>> Obtained skill 「Organizing」

 Hmm, probably skills related to organizing parties. They look useful, so I try adding skill points to them.
 Knowledge about how to delegate party members go through my mind. Also, I can better grasp each person’s position.

 Upon entering the corridor, I see signs of an enemy on the 「Radar」. It’s still some distance ahead.
 “The smell of blood is coming is ahead, nano desu.”
 After poking out her head in the dark and sniffing with her nose, Pochi reports.
 From what I can tell, the direct distance is short, but it is still five hundred meters ahead on the path.
 I commend Pochi by petting her head. Though I am treating her like a pet, her tail is wagging like crazy, so I think she’s happy.
 As we approach, I check out the enemy on the 「Map」. Level 20 without any special abilities. It attacks by tackling and biting. Only one in the chamber ahead.
 Suddenly having thought of something, I take note of the girls’ statuses. I am a little shocked there’s an entry for experience. Really...this is a game! The experience is shown as a percentage, so I don’t know the exact numbers, but I can conveniently estimate how much they need until the next level.
 The experience of everyone else on the Map is not visible. Is this only limited to my party? Or is there some other condition?

 I can see light leaking from the chamber ahead.
 Keeping the three of them back, I peek inside the chamber. Without paying me any mind, the large insect enemy is focused on eating ‘something’. Well… you already know I can’t stand gore.
 If I lose too, maybe I would also be eaten like that. Even if it seems impossible to lose considering the level difference, I don’t feel prepared.
 I wonder how the protagonists in stories can fight so courageously.
 The smell of blood, coming from upwind, has crushed my weak heart. It would probably be fine to camp in the first room, waiting for help to come.
 “Sir, pardon my insolence, but  I’m thinking while the monster is busy eating its victim, we can go around it or attack it from behind.”
 Liza suggests wearily. Even Liza feels afraid. Right now, her limbs are trembling slightly.
 Even a girl with a single-digit level is thinking about what to do, maybe I am being too pessimistic. In a place like this, rescue would never come anyway.

 No way I can fight it up close, so let’s snipe it with the magic gun from afar! With the magic gun that can shatter rocks at full power, surely I can defeat that large monster.
 Under the cover of chewing sounds, I fire the magic gun. Of course, it is set at maximum power.
 The first shot missed, but the monster insect hasn’t noticed the attempt on its life. Just like when I was firing at rocks, I didn’t obtain a shooting skill.
 The bullet of the magic gun glows a little, so it’s possible to see the track in the darkness. The second shot still doesn’t hit, but I am able to adjust my aim for the third, hitting the monster as it turns around.
 With the power set to maximum, the hind leg that was struck explodes at the joint. Without letting it get closer, I keep firing and take down the enormous monster 「Camelback Cricket」.
 The concerns I had seem laughable now, in the face of overwhelming victory.

  >>> Obtained skill 「Shooting」
  >>> Obtained skill 「Sniping」
  >>> Obtained skill 「Aiming」
  >>> Obtained title 「Insect Slayer」

 Sheesh, it’s a large camelback cricket, but it’s showing up outside a desert…
 “Super awesome, no desu.”
 “Strong~”
 Thanks to the magic gun, I am being showered with praise.
 Pochi and Tama are just excited while Liza seems to think it’s strange.
 “With that strange wand, did you use magic, Young Master?”
 “It’s a magic weapon. Don’t tell anyone!”
 Well, just to prevent tattling. Though Liza nods with a strange expression, Pochi and Tama joyfully reply “Aye!”, so I should remind them again when we get out of the dungeon.
 The severed leg of the Camelback Cricket looks more like a spear on one end rather than a normal leg. It is nothing like a normal insect, and gives the impression of being entirely artificial.
 Oh, could this become a makeshift spear?
 With the magic gun, I first break off the leg where it starts to become a rod.
 If I leave it at that, the claw at the tip would swivel around, so I take out a plank and a leather belt to secure it. The cut-off end is leaking green fluid, so I recycle a cloth used to wash wounds to tie it up.

  >>> Obtained skill 「Dissection」
  >>> Obtained skill 「Entomology」
  >>> Obtained skill 「Teratology」
  >>> Obtained skill 「Weapon Crafting」
  >>> Obtained skill 「Leathercraft」
  >>> Obtained skill 「Woodwork」

 Like always, they are easily obtained.
 The spear I just made looks like it will break after stabbing an enemy once, so I maximize the 「Weapon Crafting」 skill, then remake the spear.
 Using knowledge given by the 「Entomology」, 「Teratology」, and 「Weapon Crafting」 skills, I make a cut on the remaining half of the Camelback Cricket leg and forcefully snap it.
 Eww, that felt disgusting.
 I shave down the spear-like part of the leg with a short sword. This sword is also a magic item and is sharper than the weapons used by the county troopers.
 The tip was bound by leather and wood, but now I will secure it with another part of the cricket.
 By putting together the freshly exposed surfaces of live tissue when binding, they will fuse thanks to the monster’s ability to regenerate. I really wonder how this works even when the monster is dead, but when I do so as directed by my skills, they really fused together.
 Just in case, I use the leather belt to reinforce it.
 It feels like I’m fooling around, but since the result is a spear loads better than the first attempt, let’s go with it!

 As I turn around to give the finished 「Camelback Cricket Spear」 to Liza, I see her wedging her short sword into the gap between the Camelback Cricket’s head and back, trying to do something.
 ...Is she hungry?
 “Liza, you’ll get a stomachache from eating that!”
 “Tha-, that’s not it. The monster has a 「Core」, and I’m trying to remove it...”
 「Core」?
 “What is a 「Core」?”
 “「Cores」 are like money. There’s one in every monster, and we can exchange them for a lot of things with traveling merchants.”
 Liza’s answer is a little different from what I wanted to hear, but maybe I wrong to expect a Wikipedia-level answer.
 Liza removes a sphere dirtied by green blood from the carcass. It is a fist-sized, reddish ball. With a murky red color, it probably can’t be used as jewelry, even if I’m being optimistic.
 I take out a linen pouch  from my bag and give it to Liza on her way back. I also give her a piece of cloth, so she can wipe the blood off of herself.
 “Put the core into this bag, and take this spear.”
 I let Pochi hold the bag, and pass the 「Camelback Cricket Spear」 to Liza. The short sword she has been holding is given to Tama. Exchanging equipment, huh? An RPG staple.
 Despite getting a short sword, Tama can’t quite use it with her arms chained. The chain connected to her collar is too restrictive.
 Right, why not use this to break it?
 I call Liza over, and pulling to the chain on her collar to the side, then shoot it with the magic gun at the lowest setting.
 I’ll break Pochi and Tama’s chains the same way...Their ears are drooping like they are scared, so I comfort them by saying “Sorry” and pet their heads.
 I put the broken chains into a bag and give it to Pochi to keep with the bag for cores.
 “Liza, starting with the next enemy, I will let Pochi and Tama take turns removing the 「Core」, so tell them the location and the method.”
 “Yes, I understand.”
 “Understood~, nano desu.”
 “Aye~”
 Being motivated is better than anything.
 Also, something’s been bothering me, so I ask Pochi about it.
 “Oh, and Pochi.”
 “Yes, nano desu.”
 “You don’t have to force yourself to say ‘nano desu’, you know?”
 “If I don’t add ‘nano desu’ I’ll be punished, nano desu.”
 I see, is she saying it because she thinks it’s proper? I’m only their temporary master, so it’s fine if I don’t correct it right?
 “I understand, but I won’t be angry if you don’t add it, so just talk how you like.”
 “Yes… nano desu.”
 After putting my hands together in front of the victim of the 「Camelback Cricket」 and praying “Namo...” for them to rest in peace, I leave the chamber. I note the name of the deceased, though.
 Comparing their statuses from before the battle and now, I can only see a slight decrease in their 「Stamina」 and no difference in any other stat.
 So they won’t gain experience just standing next to me? The percentage of their experience shows no change.
 Then how do people from supply units and priests gain levels?
 If the level of these three can increase somewhat when running into others on the way out, I can hide my own strength, but it doesn’t seem to be that easy.
 If this works like a game, why not play it like one?
 “Tama, if there are rocks about the size of a 「Core」, pick one up.”
 “Aye!”
 The road ahead has a fork. Although they lead to the same place, one side has a chamber in the middle. There are monsters either way we go, but the one that has the chamber has two Level 10 「Caterpillars」. Also, that path has a survivor further ahead.
 ...Do we save him?
 “The road split~, meow.”
 Just as the fork enters her view, Tama immediately reports. She didn’t have to emphasize with a strange ending though.
 I praise Tama and caress her head. She seems quite pleased.
 Pochi look a little envious of her, so I also pat her head.
 Their heads come up to my chest level, which makes them easy to pet. About 110 cm tall? Liza is taller than I am— 165 cm or so.
 “Let’s go right!”
 We advance into the path. Judging from the 「Radar」, those things should be visible now, right?
 “Bugs up there~ nano desu.”
 Tama warns. Imitating Pochi this time?
 Alright, how should I attack enemies I can’t see.
 ...Oh, I have an idea. Not sure if it will work, but let’s try.
 Getting their rough location on the 「Radar」, I look into that direction.
 Next, the names and levels of the monsters pop up on the AR.
 Awesome! I repeatedly fire indiscriminately into the area around near the text. The magic gun is set at minimum.
 One shot connects, and a 「Caterpillar」 falls down with a *splat*.
 “Tama, throw rocks at it.”
 Tama makes three throws. Two bounce off after landing on the Caterpillar. Only one does damage.
 The Caterpillar slowly inches closer.
 “Pochi, Tama, get back. Liza, up front. Just once, attack that thing from behind me!”
 Kicking as light as I could, I deflect the Caterpillar’s tackle and make an opening. I must say, it feels like kicking a dodgeball.
 As I did that, Liza swings at it with the butt of the spear. I had ordered her to use that end for now because the tip isn’t fully secure yet. Even so, the Caterpillar’s health drops a little.
 Having confirmed that, I fire the magic gun several times, putting down the Caterpillar.
 I just noticed, unlike back at the 「Dragon’s Canyon」, the remains of defeated monsters aren’t automatically collected in 「Storage」. Back then, the logs for loot came after the defeat of the last enemy, so maybe it only works when I defeat everything in an area.
 “Liza, Tama, I’ll let you recover the 「Core」. Pochi, follow me, there’s one more ahead.”
 Tama passes Pochi a rock from a mountain of them. Tama...how many did she pick up?

 Inside the chamber, there is the same kind of Caterpillar monster as before.
 There are also the bodies of a young woman and a slave-looking young boy. Unlike the Camelback Cricket’s victim, they have not been munched on.
 “Pochi, go inside then throw rocks at its side. Once you run out of rocks, go back to Liza and Tama.”
 I casually stroll into the chamber and start shooting with the magic gun.
 Pochi throws two rocks at it as directed. Both hit their mark, but after being attacked, the Caterpillar turns towards Pochi and spits out venom.
 My blood freezing over Pochi’s predicament, I quickly lunge forward, kicking the Caterpillar’s head on the side and deflecting the shot. I used more force than intended, so the kick crushed the Caterpillar’s head, and it stops moving. The sensation on my foot felt a bit disgusting.
 I managed to prevent the venom from hitting Pochi, but startled by it, she runs out into the corridor.
 Specifically, the path opposite the one we came from.
 She probably mixed them up in confusion.
 “Pochi, stop!”
 I immediately go after her. Having to go around the Caterpillar, I was one step late.
 “Wah~ get away, get away~!”
 Huh? Who’s that? It’s not Pochi’s voice. It’s the man on the path ahead!
 I check the 「Radar」. He’s in danger.
 “Pochi, stop!”
 I catch up to her, picking her up by the nape.
 I thought I saw the man’s figure at the corner ahead, but before I can catch up, the dot representing the man on the 「Radar」 vanishes.
 Why did that man run from here?
 Did he mistake Pochi for a monster?
 Maybe he felt guilty about the Caterpillar’s two victims in that chamber…
 Regardless, this dungeon is more dangerous than I thought. If I’m not more careful about the safety of these kids, it’s no good.
 “Young Master! Are you alright!”
 “Alright~?”
 Liza and Tama run up hurriedly.
 “Yeah, I’m fine. You can go back to the chamber and recover the core.”
 “I’m sorry, nano desu.”
 Pochi apologizes with drooping ears. Her tail is tucked between her legs. I’m not mad at Pochi’s mistake, but she might be in danger if she panics again, so is it better to scold her a little?
 “Pochi, when it becomes dangerous like that, it’s fine to run. But you can’t panic, got that?”
 “...Yes, nano desu.”
 I comfort her by patting her head which is hanging down despondently.

  >>> Title obtained 「Tamer」

 How rude, calling it taming. This is education.

 Going back to the chamber, I am greeted by the sight of Liza and Tama cutting apart a giant caterpillar. It feels a little surreal.
  I take note of the name of the three deceased people while feeling conflicted about whether to check the bodies for anything useful. I don’t have the resolve to touch the bodies no matter what, and as I am hesitating, Liza notices and directs Pochi to do so.
 “Strip the clothing too?”
 “Take the shoes. Leave the clothing.”
 Pochi asks, but I don’t think we need the clothes. I ordered her to take the shoes only because I now realize the beastgirls aren’t wearing any.
 Pochi gives me the recovered items. The young boy slave had nothing on him, but the woman had a purse, a ring, a necklace, and such accessories.
 I create a folder for things victims had on them in Storage, and one with the woman’s name under that, then place those items inside. If she has a family, I’ll give those to them. Suddenly thinking of it, I also cut a lock of hair from those two and add them to the folder.
 I let Pochi and Tama put on the recovered shoes.
 The more resilient Liza will have to wait. Since in the chamber with a giant snake ahead, there should be shoes left behind by the young man, so she shouldn’t wait long.

 Even if it didn’t do much damage, the experiment to have them try attacking seems to be a success. Tama and Liza went up by one level, and Pochi by two.
 It seems like whenever they gain a level, they automatically learn skills. Pochi obtained 「Throwing」, Tama obtained 「Collecting」, and Liza obtained 「Dissecting」.
 Uh, Liza’s skills look odd.
 The 「Spear」 skill is shown in white, but 「Dissecting」 is in gray. Pochi and Tama’s skills are also gray.
 If these skills are displayed the same way as mine, they probably have not been activated. Once they are, the combat potential would increase a lot. Unfortunately, I can only see my party members’ skills but not adjust them, like I can in some console game.
 There are still more than a hundred rooms before the exit anyway, so one step at a time.
 I lead the beastgirls to the next chamber.

  ◆

 We passed six rooms after that but didn’t see anyone alive. There were many corpses, though.
 “Goshujin-sama, the 「Cores」 have been recovered.”
 “Alright, then take a break.”
 I take a drink from the waterskin and pass it to Liza.
 At some point, she started to address me as “Goshujin-sama” instead of “Young Master”. Seems like she is more comfortable with it, so I’ll let it slide.
 Liza tries to pull out the stopper on the waterskin but drops it instead, and water pours out from it, forming a puddle.
 “Ple-, please forgive me! Goshujin-sama!!!”
 Liza desperately tries to pick up the waterskin. Her movements appear dull.
 That reminds me, in the last battle, the accuracy of Pochi and Tama’s throws were pretty low!
 “Tired?”
 “Please forgive me! I spilled precious water. I will accept any punishment.”
 What an overreaction— no, Liza really seems to think it was a grave error.
 Did I not say it is a bottomless waterskin? Even if I didn’t, I would think she had noticed by now.
 Enough about that, I should really check on their health.
 “Liza, water can just be collected again later. More importantly, how are you feeling?”
 “Please forgive me. My body has been feeling heavy, and I can’t move with accuracy.”
 Seemingly without even the strength to take a drink, Pochi and Tama fall to the ground.
 When I check on them, I find no status afflictions. They have little 「Stamina」 left, so they’re merely exhausted.
 “Then not just a break, let’s rest for a while.”
 I pick up Pochi and Tama and let them drink water.
 There are no more pastries left, so I take out some slices of jerky from 「Storage」.
 I picked this out because it looks the most palatable out of all the non-perishable foodstuff in the loot I have. It’s made from the meat of 「Sky Deer」, which I have never heard of but I know it is, at least, some sort of deer.
 I'm losing these three to their fatigue but, perhaps because they're famished, once I put the jerky in front of them, they start wolfing it down like they might accidentally bite their fingers.
 “So tasty~?”
 “Delicious!”
 “Ahh, jerky. The sweet taste is spreading in my mouth when I bite down. So satisfying.”
 Um, I don’t think it’s that delicious.
 “Jerky? Delicious~”
 “Delicious no desu! Meat is the best nano desu!”
 Liza is still slowly enjoying her first bite. She sure likes her meat.
 There are dozens of kilograms of jerky, so I give them all good portions.
 “When you finish, sleep for three hours.”
 With seemingly satisfied expressions, Pochi and Tama scrunch up next to me and fall asleep. Liza sits down where she can watch over the two.
 “Allow me to keep watch.”
 Liza proposes, but she is totally dozing off. I again order her to sleep, and she finally relaxes and lies down to take a nap.
 I observe their statuses as they slept.
 An hour and a half after they began resting, the originally gray skills turn white.
 I suppose their level ups only apply when sleeping.
 The process is almost exactly like a certain classic dungeon game. Fatigue always increases outside of the barn like a ticking timer.
 Anyways, how come these three gained skills only by leveling up? Gaining skills immediately based on some action like me, is such a thing unusual?

 We have advanced through several more chambers. When we rested last time, it was at the point of exhaustion after gaining three levels, so we should take another break after two more chambers.
 “Stop!”
 How rare for Tama not to drag out her words when she warns us.
 But there aren’t any enemies?
 “What is it?”
 “The ground~ is weird?”
 The answer is a question. Something is weird, but I don’t know what that something is, though? I stare intently, and the ground does seem to hold some secret.
 Before I can figure out the oddity with my eyes, the AR display reveals it to be 「Trap: Life Absorption」.
 It’s a dungeon, after all, so traps should be a given. Since we haven’t encountered one so far, I nearly forgot about them.
 “Well done, Tama— There’s a trap there. Be careful!”
 “Aye!”
 As I caress Tama’s head and cat ears. I warn Pochi and Liza with the latter half of my sentence.
 With those three behind me, I throw a rock at the trap, but it doesn’t activate. Judging from the name, the trap probably only reacts to living things.
 Since the active area isn’t shown, so I’m not sure whether it’s safe to go around. Letting one of the beastgirls test it is out of the question.
 Even by consulting the 「Map」, I can’t tell if there is a safe zone.
 It reacts to life signs, so could I bait it with monsters?
 Luckily, there are some rat monsters in the chamber this path leads to. Let’s try to lure some out by throwing rocks.
 Taking some rocks from Tama, I toss three of them in succession.
 “Rats, coming~”
 Hearing Tama’s report, I make the three stand back. These rats are only Level 10 and fairly weak, but they act in groups of two to four. There could be a few that make it through the trap, so I put some distance between us.
 Rather than being caught by some mechanism, these rats are trapped by black sparks. In the end, all three rats fell for the trap. Seems like there were at least three traps in this path.

   >>> Obtained skill 「Trap Disarming」
   >>> Obtained skill 「Trap Abuse」
   >>> Obtained skill 「Trap Discovery」

 There are various trap-related skills and they all look useful, so I quickly add skill points and activate them.

  ◆

 Liza thrusts at the giant frog with all of her strength.
 Pochi distracts it by attacking with a stick from one side while Tama deals the finishing strike from the other by stabbing her short sword into the frog’s eye.
 “Great! Good job!”
 “Yes!”
 “Aye~”
 “Nano desu!”
 I praise the three for defeating the first monster by themselves.
 The opponent was only Level 10, and only had 「Tongue Binding」 as its only special attack, so I let them confront it themselves, and the fight went smoothly. Like I expected, beast people have better combat potential than humans of the same level!
 In terms of height and width, the hall here is three times the size of all other chambers so far. Though it’s large enough to be hiding more enemies, no dots are showing on the 「Radar」.
 There is a house at the end of this hall. More accurately, a house split into two even halves. It was probably sucked in when the dungeon was created! Unfortunately, no sign of people on the 「Radar」.
 Liza is cutting the frog apart while Pochi and Tama are keeping watch at the exit.
 Is it Liza’s turn this time? Since it’s a matter of skill proficiency, I have been letting them take turns with their roles.
 “Pochi, Tama, we’ll check out that house. Follow me.”
 I made sure on the 「Map」 that there aren’t any enemies nearby, so no need to stand guard! I bring the two of them to the house.

 There is no one dead or alive inside, but there are various items. Looks like the secret stash house of some wealthy person.
 Upon entering, the lighting automatically turns on. Is it magic? Seems like I can remove them, so I take one bulb down, which soon extinguishes. It’s probably meant for indoor use only.
 What I first lay my eyes on are two ornamental short swords hanging on the wall. When I check the AR display, these turn out to have unexpectedly good quality, so they’re also practical. Their size is appropriate, so Pochi and Tama can use them.
 In some cliché development, I find a hidden safe behind a painting on the wall, which I open after destroying the lock with the magic gun. Other than jewels and bags of gold coins, there is also an amount of a magical ingredient called 「Dragon Powder」 loaded into vials.
 Was the owner an alchemist?
 Confirming my hypothesis, we find several bottle of magical potions somewhere else, so there’s no doubt.
 Furthermore, there are some spellbooks and a magic scroll on the shelves.
 I don’t know how to use the scroll, but there seems to be an explanation in one of the books next to it. When the beastgirls take their rest, I’ll peruse them and search for the method!
 I take all the sizable jewelry, but leave behind the large items like art pieces. Though the 「Storage」 does have infinite capacity, it would be a hassle to organize if I mindlessly grab everything.
 Only the stands remain of two preserved specimens on display.
 Though it’s none of my business, they’re in maintenance right? I would really like to see specimens of fantastic creatures.

  >>> Skill obtained 「Excavation」
  >>> Skill obtained 「Treasure Discovery」
  >>> Skill obtained 「Treasure Chest Unlocking」

 I find a 「Tinder Rod」 in the kitchen. It’s the only magic item here, but I also take a pan, a pot, and utensils for four loaded into a linen bag.
 Since there is a large jar of water, to prepare for meeting others, I take out a regular waterskin from 「Storage」 and fill it.
 As for numerous beer-bottle sized clay pots, I pour in oil into them for makeshift Molotov cocktails, and keep them in 「Storage」.
 “Here, it smells like jerky! Nano desu~!”
 Pochi announces in a sing-song voice, so I go to her. I see a closet full of food beyond a pile of toppled furniture while Pochi and Tama are peeking their heads between the gaps.
 It looks dangerous, so I pull them back, then remove the furniture one by one to make a path.
 Inside the food closet, we uncover three loaves of rye bread, cheese, and smoked meat. There are also barrels of what seems to be high quality wine, which I stash away in 「Storage」 while the two are distracted by the meat.
 “Pochi, Tama, do you want a taste?”
 “Aye~”
 “I do no desu!”
 Having confirmed that those things have not spoiled with the AR, I cut slices of cheese and smoked meat then pass them to Pochi and Tama.
 “Yummy yummy~”
 “Nom~ Deliciously satisfying nano desu!”
 Perhaps thinking just wagging their tails is insufficient, Pochi and Tama are waving their hands clutching food to express their joy.
 I also try a slice of cheese. It’s good, with a nice cheddar-like sharpness.
 “Share the rest with Liza!”
 “Liza will be happy~”
 “That’s right nano desu! Liza should eat it too no desu!”
 With Tama holding the bag of food, Pochi the one with weapons and other things, and I the water jar and a tub, we return to the hall where Liza is waiting.
 When we come out, the core recovery has been finished, and Liza was planning on joining us.
 “Goshujin-sama, I have a request... Is it fine for me to build a fire?”
 “A fire underground? What for?”
 Liza is proactively making the request, so I ask for a reason.
 “I want to grill that frog’s meat...Sorry.”
 “No need to apologize, but is it really edible?”
 “Yes, definitely. In the past, I had similar large frogs for food. The entrails are poisonous, but those parts can be avoided. If it’s not cooked first, there’s a bigger chance of poison, so...”
 After squirming for a bit, Liza answers.
 Despite being underground, air is flowing, and we’re much closer to the surface now, so no need to worry about running out of air.
 “Alright, I will allow it.”
 Liza directs Pochi and Tama to cut up the frog leg while she takes out pieces of wood and starts laying them down. I see, did she collect all the wood she found on the way for this purpose?
 I stop Liza from using the flint to start the fire and take out the 「Tinder Rod」 to do so instead.
 With this magical lighter, there’s no way to investigate the mechanism, but it seems to be designed to be used by anyone.
 I give Liza the kitchen tools and utensils to Liza.

 Soon enough, Pochi and Tama return with the leg meat raised above their heads.
 “Meat~”
 “Nano desu~”
 They look more thrilled about this than the smoked meat. Are their feral instincts at work?
 Liza slices the meat and line them up on the pan to fry.
 First she uses the fatty parts to grease the pan, then after removing the fat, she fries the meat. A fragrance like chicken grilling pervades, which smells appetizing if I didn’t know anything.
 Perhaps getting impatient, Pochi and Tama squint their eyes and starts sniffing.
 Soon, the frog meat is ready, and Liza stabs a slice on a stick and extends it to me.
 Knew it, I have to eat this? I have to~
 “Thank you, Liza.”
 I steel myself and bite down— It tastes light like chicken, well, too light, actually. Man, should I sprinkle some salt? It’s too much trouble to go back to the house to look for spices, so I try searching the 「Storage」, but there isn’t even pepper.
 The three are staring at me eat.
 Right, waiting for my permission?
 “Stop looking and eat. If you don’t eat well and rest, you won’t last long enough to get out of the dungeon!”
 Having gotten permission, Pochi and Tama start eating slices from the pan. Liza is also eating while she cooks. Are there slices with bone mixed in? They’re making scary crunching sounds, but everyone seems to be enjoying it.
 As I watch them, I quietly eat some rye bread, cheese, and smoked meat.
 No, even if it tastes okay, frog meat is a little…

 For the next thirty minutes, the cycle of cutting, frying and eating repeats thrice more, and when the fire burns out, the feast is over.
 Following Liza’s suggestion, I wrap a piece of meat up in a cloth to go as a precaution.
 According to previous experience, they won’t last even a couple of fights, so I order them to rest for the third time while they are still full.
 I let the three wash up in the tub I brought, and have them change into clean clothes found in the house before sleeping.
 They’ll get dirty as soon as they fight, but isn’t it more comfortable to sleep all clean?
 They seem to have gotten used to me now, as Pochi and Tama are using my knees as pillows to sleep, and while Liza probably wouldn’t be willing to use me as support, she is huddled up next to me.
 Oh yeah, while they sleep, why not go through the spellbooks I found?
 Immediately when I view the spellbooks in 「Storage」, a new option called 「Browse」 appears, and I select it. Just like in a game, I can browse the contents of a book that’s still kept inside 「Storage」.
 There’s something I haven’t thought about. The 「Menu」’s displays are clearly visible even in dim lighting. I wonder if it’s a projection on my retina or a construct in my mind.
 What if— I do a search in a flash of inspiration, and just like in a game, it turns out that the text of a book I open can be searched. So convenient! I don’t even need OCR!
 On the matter of scrolls, only one of the spellbooks has a few relevant lines.
 According to it, I can use a scroll just by unraveling it and announcing the name of the spell.
 The scroll I found before seems to be a fire-attribute attack magic called 「Fire Shot」. It is 「Fire Magic」, but merely the most basic spell in offensive magic.
 Thanks to the discovery, while everyone slept, I can kill time while reading.

  ◆

 After resting once more, we were able to traverse eighty percent of the way to the dungeon exit.
 Pochi and Tama’s equipment have been changed to the ornamental short swords and bucklers found in the stash house.
 Those are the only changes in equipment, but all three of them have gotten to Level 13. Pochi gained the skills 「One-Handed Sword」, 「Throwing」, 「Enemy Detection」 and 「Dissection」; Tama gained 「One-Handed Sword」, 「Throwing”, 「Collecting」 and 「Dissection」; and Liza gained 「Spear」, 「Spear Thrust」, 「Cooking」 and 「Dissection」.
 Extraordinary improvement in combat potential compared to the start.
 Outside of enemies with status affliction attacks, these three can even defeat enemies five levels higher by working together. Since they have no one to serve as the tank, it would be dangerous to go up against multiple enemies that aren’t about the same level, but that shouldn’t happen much.

 We discover a slime in the path ahead. It’s not the raindrop-shaped kind from some national RPG, but rather a sticky, amoeba-like classical slime.
 Since I have the chance, I try out the 「Fire Magic」 scroll.
 I use the 「Fire Shot」 scroll according to the directions written in the spellbook. A tiny fireball the size of a fingertip appears, then shoots toward the slime at the speed of a child tossing a ball.
 Striking the slime, the fireball merely burns away a bit of goo at the surface before vanishing. Checking the slime’s health bar, I only see a slight drop. Against a Level 10 slime, this is of no use.
 Since I also gained the skill 「Fire Magic」 when casting 「Fire Shot」, it wasn’t a total loss.
 In addition, 「Fireball」 has been added to the list of usable spells.
 Well, in terms of efficiency, the magic gun has a longer range and is more convenient, so let’s give up on 「Fireball」! It might be helpful when I don’t have the magical lighter though.
 Perhaps thinking that I am upset, Liza makes a suggestion.
 “Goshujin-sama, pardon my insolence, but when attacking a slime, you have to aim for its nucleus.”
 “What do you mean?”
 “The nucleus is where the color is slightly different.”
 Is it different from a core? Speaking of which, despite being translucent, no red core is visible, so is it not a monster?
 Anyway, I look carefully at the spot Liza is pointing toward, and there really is a darker spot about half the size of my fist.
 “By attacking a slime’s nucleus—”
 As we are casually talking, Liza, with just one stab of her spear, defeats the slime that was slowly wiggling closer.
 “—it can be defeated easily like this.”
 “Didn’t get my turn~”
 “It shrunk and melted nano desu.”
 Pochi and Tama were eager to fight the slime, so they are disappointed about not getting a chance. Actually, Pochi just seems to be sad that the slime turned into water. She’s poking at the puddle with her short sword.

 By the way, ever since the second-to-last break, we never found any more bodies, not to mention survivors. The larger groups are still there, but some smaller groups are gone, probably done in by monsters.
 “That wall~ is weird?”
 Tama finds an odd-looking part of the wall.
 It’s a trapdoor. Checking the 「Map」, I indeed find a hidden path behind it.
 Wait, there’s more. I rotate the 「Map」, trying to get a bird’s eye view.
 That path starts at a chamber fifteen meters above and goes straight down for about three hundred, so rather than some sort of vertical cave, with a width of only three meters, isn’t it a pitfall trap?
 If this were a game, it would be a shortcut elevator that leads to deeper down.
 It’s dangerous to haphazardly get close, so I have Tama mark it with charcoal.
 There’s a four-way intersection after this chamber, and the path directly ahead leads to a chamber with three survivors. Since they were there since our break an hour ago, they’re probably hiding out in a safe zone.
 There are only five more rooms to the exit, but they wouldn’t know without a map, so they probably thought they were stuck.

 “Everyone stop!”
 Displayed as a red dot on the 「Radar」, an enemy approaches with alarming speed. There’s only one, so let’s confront it in the previous chamber!
 We retreat as I check the enemy’s status.
 「Undead Beast」, an undead-type monster. 『Weakness: Holy attribute』. Its skills are 「Vertical Movement」 and 「Charge」.
 I am surprised after continuing to read its data.
 “It’s...Level 40?”
 It’s stronger than any enemy seen so far. Is it the dungeon’s sweeper?!
 This is just like a classic game! When the time is up, an impossibly strong enemy shows up to kill the players.
 With me rushing the three, we manage to arrive at the room before confronting the enemy. I make them hide in the corner. This thing is no joke. They would be destroyed in a second if I let them fight.
 That thing emerges from the path. A five meters long, two meters tall huge jaguar-like monster with a ruby red horn on its forehead.
 —The Undead Beast vanishes from my sight.
 I check the 「Radar」 in a panic, but it doesn’t seem to have moved.
 From above! By bouncing off the ceiling after jumping, it’s going to tackle me?!
 My shoulders take the impact of that thing’s forepaws, and my back hits the ground, making a loud crash, which wouldn’t be funny if I didn’t have 「Pain Resistance」 enabled when I entered the dungeon.
 Also, despite being an undead monster, it’s way too fast! If I allow it to bounce around as it like, I wouldn’t be able to protect the beastgirls. I dig my hands into its legs to hold it down.
 —Perhaps due to the effects of a certain skill, I recall the trapdoor earlier.
 Perhaps unable to feel pain, the Undead Beast ignores the fact that I am crushing its legs and tries to bite me.
 I don’t want to be bitten by those enormous fangs.
 I dig my foot into its abdomen, then with a ‘tomoe nage’, I throw it at the wall.
 When it lands on the wall— stomping in an attempt to retaliate— it breaks through and falls in just like that.
 The 「Trap Abuse」 skill saves the day.

  ◆

 Alright, time to meet some survivors, huh.
 As soon as we pass the intersection, the ground becomes covered with sticky white thread.
 “Sticky sticky~”
 “My foot is stuck nano desu.”
 “Is it spider thread?”
 The spider thread becomes denser the closer we get to the chamber, so I have Pochi and Tama help clear it with their short swords
 Seven cocoon-like objects are in the chamber. The three survivors are probably inside. Shall we rescue them before the spider comes back?
 As we approach the cocoons, the people inside start struggling, having noticed us.
 Let’s check who’s inside before rescuing them!
 Nidoren. Slave trader, forty years old, Level 10, with the skills 「Negotiation」, 「Training」, and 「Calculation」.
 Viscount Jin Belton. Nobleman, thirty-three years old, Level 15, with the skills 「Fire Magic」, 「Flame Magic」, and 「Etiquette」. Seems like he’s serving as the army’s magician consultant.
 Lastly, a young man with no job, Level 3, no skills. A NEET?
 The viscount looks like he can fight, but what was a noble doing in that plaza?
 Anyway, I decide to split up the work to free them. I’ll save the viscount, Liza the merchant, and Pochi and Tama the young man.
 When we are halfway done peeling the cocoon off their victims, the radar catches the sign of the spider approaching from below. There seems to be chutes like the one that swallowed the Undead Beast earlier.
 “Enemy’s here! Pochi, Tama, Liza, pause the rescue, get ready to fight!”
 The beast girls quickly take out their weapons and get in formation. Thanks to surviving fight after fight, they have gotten used to working together.
 Good thing the people awaiting rescue still have their face covered, They won’t make noise like this.
 The spider crawls out of a hole in the ground.
 First, I throw a rock at it to get its attention. Then Liza stabs at its head to to stop its movements while Pochi and Tama go for the gaps between its legs and abdomen with their short swords.
 If it would die after the first rush, that would be great. But it’s still alive even after having its head pierced, as expected of a monster.
 Liza holds her spear horizontally to defend against the spider’s raised leg, while Pochi and Tama take the chance to attack with their short swords, shaving down the spider’s health.
 Seems like this will take a while, so I quietly flick a coin through its heart for the finishing blow. Since I timed it with Liza’s strike, no one notices.
 Tama goes to recover the 「Core」, and the rest of us go back to rescuing.
 “You were a huge help. I am Viscount Jim Belton, head of the Belton House that has been established since the time of Our Founder Yamato. If we can escape from here, I won’t hold back on your reward!”
 “Thank you, Viscount-sama. I am Satou, a traveling merchant.”
 As we finished our introductions, I have also completed the Viscount’s rescue. I give the waterskin to the viscount, then go help the others.
 “Thank you for saving me. I am Nidoren, a merchant. The ladies might hold some opinion against me as I am in the slave trade.”
 “I am Satou, a traveling merchant from far away.”
 “A traveling merchant? I thought for sure you were an adventurer.”
 While giving Nidoren some water, I ask.
 “This is the first time I’ve heard of the adventurer profession, what do they do?”
 “Well...ahh! Don’t they call them 「Explorers」 in the 「Shiga Kingdom」? They fight monsters in dungeons, collecting the 「Cores」 and whatever treasure there is, quite a profitable yet deadly career!”
 I see, so it is that kind of game-like profession, huh.
 “Tch, don’t touch me, beastwoman! Give me that short sword, I’ll do it myself!”
 “Y-, you can’t nano desu. This short sword belongs to goshujin-sama nano desu.”
 “What! You mere beastwoman dare defy me!”
 Pochi is being harassed by the young man she’s trying to save, and I go over to help.
 Still, what a conceited guy. I remember that blond hair. He’s the guy who kicked the lumber-carrying Pochi on eastside before.
 “Pochi, come here.”
 “Yes, nano desu.”
 I give the teary-eyed Pochi a hug and caress her head. She is nuzzling my stomach, which feels ticklish, but I’ll let her be!
 “Hey! Get me out quick!”
 “Sorry, don’t feel like it. You can just stay there and get eaten by a monster. You already have a free hand, so just get out yourself!”
 Of course, I am not serious. Just scaring him a little
 You made Pochi cry, so I’ll have you try being scared shitless.
 “Hey, cut it out! Get me out quick!”
 “Silence, commoner. If your blabbering attracts any monsters, I’ll turn you into charcoal, and even your bones will be cinder when I’m done.”
 Viscount Belton further admonishes the arrogant young man who doesn’t know his place.
 Despite not being too old, he has quite the strong will. I knew someone who has always had servants would have a different attitude.
 The task of cutting loose the now-silenced young man falls to Nidoren. He nimbly uses his own thin short sword to cut the threads. In the process, he whispers something in the young man’s ear, who then tones down his mumbling.
 Maybe he’s more experienced with this?
 As I admire him, I receive the recovered red 「Core」 from Tama.
 “The 「Cores」 here have high quality! Ones as red as these don’t show up on the market often.”
 According to Nidoren, cores are used in the construction of magic tools. The better the core, the more efficiently it converts mana, and high quality magic tools can be made with it.
 I ask the beastgirls to get the deceased’s effects from the remaining cocoons, while I give the survivors some food. Not the frog meat of course. Though the Viscount complains about the simple food, he eats it all, perhaps too hungry to resist.
 Some cheap weapons and equipment were found inside the victims’ cocoons, which I give to Nidoren and the Viscount. The young man has piped down after Nidoren’s words, so I let him have a weapon just in case. This way, our combat potential has raised a little.

 In the end, I must admit, I was being too optimistic.
 “I can’t waste my magic on a small-fry like this. My magic is reserved for strong enemies.”
 “I can defend myself, at least, but don’t count on me for actual combat.”
 With the Viscount refusing to use magic, and Nidoren declaring himself a non-combatant, both of them found excuses to not participate in fighting.
 No offense to Nidoren, but I was anticipating the Viscount’s magic!
 What’s more frustrating is the young man’s behavior. After receiving the bronze short sword and buckler, he became too excited—
 “Hey! If the beast kids can fight, I’ll be even better! Something like that spider, I’ll beat them till they beg for mercy!”
 —And so he declared as he attacks a monster, only to be nearly cut down by the enemy.
 The opponent is only a Level 10 Skeleton Soldier, and before it can deal a death blow, Pochi blocks the Skeleton Soldier’s baton with her buckler, saving the young man.
 “Liza, if you would.”
 “Yes.”
 Acknowledging my order, Liza brandishes her spear. The first strike breaks the Skeleton Soldier’s stance, the second shatters it’s sword arm, and the third destroys its skull.
 Despite not having had eyes, the now-headless Skeleton Soldier flails wildly as if suddenly blinded. Pochi and Tama join in at this time, and the beastgirls’ Skeleton subjugation ends with a one-sided victory.
 Anyway, it’s the first time I see skeleton monsters, so I wonder how they can move. Is the core their source of power?

 I ask Nidoren to look after the young man groaning on the ground.
 “You alright?”
 “Tch, I didn’t think the skeleton monster was such a tough opponent.”
 “Looks like your ribs might be broken.”
 Ignoring the young man’s curses, I get the prognosis from the slave trader. If his ribs are broken, it’s best not to move him, but what do we do then?
 “Ow! Will I die like this?”
 “If Pochi didn’t help, you would have died on the spot with your head bashed in.”
 Toward his savior Pochi, he hasn’t said a word of gratitude, not to mention apology for before. I don’t plan on tolerating his cowardice.
 “Damn! Damn! Damn! I will survive. How can I die here?”
 While spitting out blood, the young man spitefully complains.
 “Hmph, abandon him if he can’t walk himself! We must meet up with the riot suppression squad as quick as possible. Commoner, the consequence of foolishness is death. He did this to himself, leave him!”
 Whoa, the Viscount is cruel! Unlike me, he’s being serious.
 Pochi and Tama are looking up at me with “Let’s help him” faces, so I have no choice but to do something.
 “Use this medicine.”
 “This is?”
 “A potion.”
 “A potion?!”
 I don’t understand why he’s so shocked at the mention of potions. This was found at the supposed alchemist’s secret stash house, so I can’t guarantee the effectiveness.
 Thank Pochi and Tama’s kindness if you must. If it weren’t for their begging, I definitely wouldn’t have brought out the potion.
 The young man carefully swallows the potion, and the result is surprisingly dramatic.
 Still groaning just a moment ago, the young man stands up not even a minute after drinking the potion and says “I’m healed!” It works as fast as it would in a game. A bit disturbing.
 “A mid-class potion is a luxury good that costs three 「Gold」 each, no? To give one to a young man you don’t even know, hmm, you’re a strange one.”
 The slave trader announces a price slightly higher than market, and the color drains from the face of the young man who had just gotten it back.
 I didn’t plan on asking for repayment, but I won’t say anything to keep him worried.

  ◆

 The commotion up ahead reaches my ears enhanced by the 「Hearing」 skill.
 The group Zena-san is following is in the middle of fighting slimes. However, they haven’t defeated any, and find themselves trapped in a hall full of slimes? How careless.
 “There’s fighting~”
 “I can hear the sound of fighting from there, nano desu!”
 Pochi and Tama also seem to have heard it, pointing in that direction to alert me.
 I nod in response and tell the Viscount and others that we will go ahead.
 “Someone is fighting up ahead. We will take care of the front, and the rest of you please watch the rear as you follow.”
 The Viscount looks like he wants to say something, but I ignore him and run out.
 Even if Zena-san hasn’t been hurt, she doesn’t have much mana left, so I’m quite worried!

 From the doorway of the hall, Zena-san and the others are in, men wearing tunics stumble out.
 “Wah! Get away!”
 “It burns, I’m burning, ahh, I don’t wanna die!”
 The last man is slowly being swallowed by a slime. He is desperately begging for help, but those around him only back away frightened, none attempting to help.
 “Pochi, Tama, get out torches from your bags.”
 “Aye~”
 “Yes nano desu!”
 I light the torches they take out with the 「Tinder Rod」. I also take one out myself.
 “Use these to stop the slime’s movements, and peel it off that man. Liza, aim for the slime’s nucleus to kill it, leave the rest to them, and catch up to me.”
 I wait for the three to reply, then rush into the hall.
 It’s a little worrisome to leave the beastgirls by themselves, but they have Liza who knows how to defeat slimes, so it should be easy right? They have the torches too.
 Tracking the label for Zena-san on the radar, I wade through the crowd still struggling with the slimes.
 There! I see Zena-san bravely fighting off a slime with her staff, protecting two priestesses guarding the Oracle. Using her staff to fight might mean she has already run out of mana.
 I wanted to snipe the slime’s nucleus from afar, but the angle is too awkward. If I make a mistake I’ll hit the priestess behind it.
 The slime is trying to wrap around Zena’s staff, and her along with it.
 Zena-san makes a distressed cry!
 Now, let’s go!
 I run her way as I take off my jacket, cover the slime wrapped around Zena-san with it, and pull off the slime through the jacket.
 After Zena’s brief cry and the sound of cloth ripping, I successfully pull the slime off. While scaring it the torch, I throw a dagger that hasn’t gotten a chance to shine, defeating the slime by destroying the nucleus.
 “You alright?”
 I turn around to confirm her wellbeing— and barely manage to reveal my surprise.
 As a result of the slime’s rudeness, Zena’s blouse has been ripped wide open. Even her tank top has been partly dissolved.
 Yeah, in other words, everything that has been hiding Zena’s slightest hint of a mature figure is now gone.
 Having just escaped from a dire situation, she herself hasn’t noticed though.
 It’s rude to keep staring, so I take out a clean towel from 「Storage」  through my bag, covering up Zena’s front.
 “Eek! Thank you very much— Satou-san?!”
 Zena-san shields her chest with the towel then, finally noticing my presence, exclaims and wraps her arms around me.
 The towel I gave you is falling off, you know?
 “Satou-san! Thank goodness, you’re alright!”
 I didn’t think we were that close, but since a cute girl is hugging me, I won’t complain. I’m glad to be reunited too, after all.
 I was going to enjoy the soft sensations while Zena-san hasn’t noticed, but it’s hell all around us, so I’ll control myself considering the TPO!


 The Oracle who Zena-san was protecting comes over.
 Huh? Wait, how come the 「Parion Temple」’s Oracle is here? Did she get caught up in the dungeon incident on the way back from the westside house call?
 “Zena, the reunion celebration can wait. Repelling those monsters is more urgent right now.”
 “Ah, so-, sorry. I was lost in the moment.”
 “Not at all, I’m happy that you are so glad about seeing me again.”
 A priestess picks up the fallen towel as directed by the Oracle.
 After admiring the abashed Zena-san panickingly holding her blouse together when receiving the towel, I turn to face the Oracle.
 “Judging from your movement earlier, you know the monster’s weak point correct?”
 “Yes, there is a nucleus on the slime, and striking that spot will defeat it.”
 “As expected of Satou-san, not only nimble as a bird but also knowledgeable!”
 “No, Liza told me about this!”
 “A-, a woman’s name?”
 Zena-san draws closer hearing Liza’s name. Well, she was named in this dungeon, so of course, Zena-san doesn’t know.
 “Interrogating about affairs can wait. Is there a trick to identifying a slime’s nucleus?”
 Oracle, how rude. There’s no evidence, and I’ll get a bad name from this.
 Oh well, I’ll clear up that misunderstanding later.
 “Yes, the color is different, and if you hold a torch close, it would move its nucleus away out of fear, so it should be easy to find once people know that.”
 “Zena, can you use 「Wind Whisper」?”
 “Regrettably, my mana has run dry, so not for a while.”
 Since I’m brimming with mana and have no use for it, it would be great if I could give it out. Perhaps since people recover mana at different speeds, these girls are still out of mana, with no sign of recovery.
 Ahh, I’ll think about it later. If I make a large sound, could I get a skill that can help me reach everyone?
 I take a deep, deep breath, and yell at the top of my lungs.
 “Aim for the slime’s nucleus!”

  >>> Skill obtained 「Sound Broadcasting」

 Is it because as a programmer, I rarely have a chance to yell? There’s quite a bit of echo, but I do successfully obtain the skill. After distributing skill points, I yell once more: to aim for the slime’s nucleus, along with an explanation.
 It was only a brief explanation, but the soldiers understood it completely, and they start to fight back against the slimes. It could be that they’re well-trained, but maybe the 「Commanding」 and 「Sound Broadcasting」 skills made it more effective.
 There are slimes that were hiding nearby approaching, but they are soon defeated by Liza and the others after catching up.
 The soldiers are holding up, but a group of civilians is getting into a bind, so I take Liza and the others to rescue them. Before going, I leave my torch with the priestesses. There are no slimes nearby, but just to be safe.
 Pochi and Tama push them back with torches, while Liza attacks with her spear, and in this manner they effortlessly finish the slimes one by one.
 My role is reduced to getting the attention of those startled by the appearance of the beastgirls, and calm them down.
 Woo! Easy peasy.

 As the retaliation against the slimes largely come to an end, I head towards Zena-san and company.
 At some point, Nidoren, Viscount Belton, and the young man entered the hall too. They each find their acquaintances and celebrate their reunion.
 “Master Satou, thank you for your help earlier.”
 “Don’t mind it, glad I was on time.”

 As I returned to Zena-san, the priestess standing guard thanks me.
 Zena-san and the Oracle are sitting with their eyes closed.
 Are they meditating?
 My guess is, that’s a way to recover mana faster right? Compared to before, their mana is clearly recovering.
 After admiring the silently meditating Zena-san and the Oracle from the side, I look around.
 Among the fifty soldiers trapped in this dungeon, seven-tenths of them are here. About seven had died, and the remaining five are with another group.
 Other than the soldiers, about twenty civilians including the ones who stumbled out of the hall earlier are here.
 The other priestess has gathered the wounded near the Oracle, probably to have her use a wide-area healing magic, so we back away a little.
 Having recovered some mana, the Oracle begins chanting a long spell.
 It’s a chant that lasts several minutes, so the seemingly bored Pochi and Tama make big yawns.
 Are they tired?

 “...■■■ 「Area Heal」”

 As she completes her spell, a soft glow soon covers the Oracle and the people around her in a cone of light. Where’s the light source? I got curious, so I tried touching the light.

   >>> Skill obtained 「Holy Magic: Parion Religion」

 Whoa, I got the skill just by touching, feels really simple.
 Almost everyone has been healed by the magic.
 As the Oracle has exhausted her mana with the 「Area Heal」 spell, the priestesses accompanying her are now busy running around using additional recovery magic on those who need it.
 Having finished meditating, Zena-san talks to me while brushing her hair.

 “Well, it was great that you’re alright.”
 “Yeah, thanks to the help of these kids!”

 In response to Zena-san rejoicing about my safety, I introduce the beastgirls to her again.

 “Ah, so you are the demi-human children from before.”
 “I’m Pochi nano desu.”
 “I’m Tama~”
 “My name is Liza.”

 Pochi and Tama are being shy, so after making the minimal introductions, they hide behind me.

 “For protecting us from stoning back on the surface, Miss has my deep gratitude, because, without Miss’s magic, these kids and I would not have survived.”

 Having recalled her protection during the riot, Liza bows to Zena-san to express her sincere appreciation.

 “Thanks~”
 “Thankee.”
 “Heheh, you’re welcome.”

 Were they reminded by Liza’s words? The way Pochi and Tama came out from behind me, bowed down, then immediately went back to hiding is so cute.

 “Right, Satou-san, this path might be connected to the exit.”
 “Is that so? Did you find out with magic?”
 “Yes, I know the spell 「Path of Wind」 that can detect the flow of air.”

 Zena-san tells me in a hushed voice.

 “The thing is, it only detects the flow of air, so I don’t know if there is actually a path. We had sent someone to scout ahead, so we’ll know soon.”
 “Alright, hope it’s good news.”

 Soon after the scout had departed, the slimes start dropping from the ceiling, and the rest is history.
 While waiting, I look around. The civilians are huddled in the corner to rest.
 The Viscount looks like he’s telling the captain of the suppression squad captain something. Hope he can put his 「Flame Magic」 to use the next time.
 After leaving this hall, there is only a long lobby that leads straight to the exist, but there’s a problem with that place.
 As if designed half-heartedly by a mediocre GM, that chamber is an unavoidable danger zone.
 There are thirty Skeleton Soldiers around Level 10 to 15, which should be manageable for the soldiers with the Viscount’s magic, but there are three, even more troublesome enemies.
 The three are a Skeleton Knight, Skeleton Warrior, and Reaper Skeleton, all Level 30.
 The Skeleton Reaper with its instant death skill is especially dangerous, so we can’t be careless. If we have magic that can purify the dead like in a game this should be simple.
 The plan is to wait for the Oracle and fellow priestesses who might be able to use it to recover their mana.
 The scout sent to investigate the lobby returns, and he informs the captain of the same things I had seen from the 「Map」. The captain gathers the squadron’s leaders, the Oracle, and the Viscount to discuss a strategy.
 Pochi and Tama, having gotten tired of waiting, are nodding off, so I let them nap on my knees, and also have Liza take a rest next to me.
 Then, the captain explains his plan, and the battle begins. We have been excluded.
 They plan on using the Viscount’s magic to weaken the Skeleton Soldiers and Zena’s magic to cut them off, then baiting them to this hall to defeat them individually.
 They will take advantage of the bottleneck to even the numbers.
 The Oracle and the two priestesses stay behind the soldiers and support them with purification magic.
 The civilians are placed in a previous chamber while those who can fight— hunters and merchant’s bodyguards protect them from the monsters roaming around.
 We were moved to the same chamber to hide with everyone, but now we are leaving.
 The reason is the guys talking to the young man from before, they’re verbally abusing the beastgirls with slurs against demi-humans.
 The slave trader Nidoren and his friends are trying to talk some sense into those guys, but instead of staying in this tense atmosphere, I rather move closer to the battlefield.
 Perhaps because they saved his life, that young man himself hasn’t been slandering the beastgirls. Well, he seems to be trying to change the topic, but to no avail.
 We leave the chamber after thanking Nidoren and his friends, and decide to go stand by near the entrance of the hall that has become a battlefield.
 From here, I can clearly see inside.
 It just so happens to line up with the Skeleton Room, so I can barely see a fiery red light dancing inside.

 “They’re here! Spear team get ready!”

 In response to the officer’s order, the soldiers form a line with their spears.
 Zena-san and the Viscount who dealt the first blow with magic run into the hall, and following them, a lightly armored knight comes in, with a horde of Skeleton Soldiers in tow.
 Two heavily armored knights from a wall near the pathway, pushing back the Skeleton Soldiers’ advance.

 “Spearmen! Don’t stab, swing!”

 With the officer’s order, the spears swing down on the Skeleton Soldiers, taking out a chunk of their health.
 The priestesses’ 「Purification Magic」 come in at this moment, landing the final blows.
 I think when the opponent’s health is low, the chance of resistance is decreased.

 “Two of the big ones are here! Captain Chigori, go ahead!”
 “Yeah! Baza, take on one of them.”
 “Leave it to me, captain! I’m pumped!”

 The highest-level captain with a broadsword and the second highest heavily armored warrior with his battle axe raised high, confront the Skeleton Knight and the Skeleton Warrior.
 They cut off the two larger Skeletons that broke through the lines and begin their battle a little far from the frontline.
 The Skeleton Knight parries the Captain’s broadsword with its shield while the Skeleton Warrior wielding its baton is fiercely exchanging blows with the hot-blooded fierce heavily armored warrior holding his battle axe.

 “...■■■ 「Wind Bind」.”

 To support the slightly disadvantaged, hot-blooded fierce heavily armored warrior, Zena-san casts a spell that restricts the Skeleton Warrior’s movements.
 The Viscount has his arm crossed looking dissatisfied but doesn’t move a finger.

 “...■■ 「Purify」!”

 Then the Oracle’s Purification Magic is released, and the smaller skeletons collapse into piles of bones, but the large skeletons resist it.
 Still, this move has successfully frightened them, turning the tide of battle.

 “Agh, watch the black one! That guy’s scythe can cut through shields!”

 Confusion spreads as blood sprays in the front line.
 The Reaper Skeleton is as tall as the common skeletons, but its bones are pitch black. Its weapon is like the grim reaper’s scythe, with a shape seemingly unsuited for combat, but still cut through a knight’s shield, and ripped through his armor like paper.
 The knights at the front are at least ten levels lower than the Reaper Skeleton. If nothing is done, the front line will eventually break down.
 I take out a small 「Micro Coin」 from my pocket, fiddling it in hand.
 When the Reaper Skeleton steps back from the spear soldiers to swing its scythe, I throw the 「Micro Coin」. The target is the Reaper Skeleton’s ankle bone. Thanks to the effect of the 「Sniping」 and 「Throwing」 skills, I accurately hit the minuscule target twenty meters away.
 Since I chose to strike the exact  moment it swings down the scythe, the Reaper Skeleton falls over just like that, and the soldiers fighting probably thinks that it fell from its own momentum.
 The knight and the soldiers see the opportunity, and with repeated swings of the blunt ends of their polearm and spears, successfully destroy the arm holding the scythe.
 At the same time, the Oracle’s 「Purification Magic」 decisively shatters the Reaper Skeleton into broken bones that flies everywhere.
 It was a difficult battle, but no one has died, and the Skeletons are defeated.
 We enter the Skeleton Room after the other civilians.
 This place is several times larger than the previous hall, about the size of two basketball courts.
 With bedrock visible everywhere, the ground is a natural rock surface, uneven and difficult to walk on.
 The ceiling is hard to see in the dark, but it’s about fifteen meters high.
 The path to the surface is blocked by a heavy metal door, but it is locked, and no one can open it.
 A couple of knights try to destroy it with their baton and polearm, but only cause noise to echo through the place.
 Pochi and Tama cover their ears, shrinking back while grimacing.
 They make noise for a while, but eventually give up, deciding to rely on magic.

 “Could Viscount Belton or Zena’s magic break it?”
 “My flame can do it easily, but I’ll leave the opportunity to shine to the young woman!”
 “My-, my magic?”

 Not wanting to use his magic, Viscount Belton passes the ball to Zena.
 Zena’s 「Air Hammer」 merely blows around dirt near the door, without doing anything. Since air is extremely light, 「Wind Magic」 can’t impart a large force on objects right?
 Let’s comfort her later!
 Next the Viscount casts his flames, but it merely chars the door.
 Unlike the frustrated group of people in front of the door, Tama with her own pace pulls on my sleeve and reports.

 “Goshujin-sama— that wall is weird.”

 Looking at where Tama is pointing, I discover on oddity.
 I find a trapdoor after checking the 「Map」. This should be the same chute directly above where I had fought the Undead Beast right before the spider’s room.

 “Nice job finding it!”

 I pet Tama’s head and scratch her cat ears, and because Pochi looking a little lonely, I pet her with the other hand. Of course, I also scratch her dog ears.
 While I did this, the radar reveals the presence of a new enemy.
 But, the soldiers and merchants investigating where the enemy is aren’t screaming out of fear, but delight.
 What’s going on? I look that way in surprise, and try to find out the enemy’s true form on the map.

 “Hey, there’s a treasure chest!”
 “Ooh! I’ve heard people say that treasure chests sometimes appear in dungeons. ”
 “It’s me, I found it!”

 The leisurely chatter quickly turns to sounds of fright.

 « Hohohohoho, what a welcome party, me grateful! »

 What appears is the Eyeball Demon that dragged us into this dungeon. I thought he wasn’t here, but he probably used some skill to hide himself!

 “Everyone get in position, don’t make a circular formation, but a triangular one! That thing can use magic! Viscount Belton and Zena, cast defensive magic on the vanguard!”
 
 The captain immediately directs the squadron into formation while Zena-san casts 「Wind Defence」 and 「Air Wall」. Did the Oracle and company run out of mana? They quickly retreat to a corner.

 “Finally here? You demon! Unfortunately, 「Fire Magic」 has no protective spells. I’m going to cast 「Flame Pillar」, buy some time!”

 Oh, I thought he just didn’t want to use his magic, but was he saving his strength for fighting the demon? I apologize in my mind, with my impression of him improved.
 With a bellow, the eyeball demon is surrounded by black spheres. Those spheres circle around the demon, repelling the knights who attack.

 « Human magic is slow, me bored. »

 It blinks its enormous eye.
 Huh? What was that? There was a strange feeling.

  >>> Skill obtained 「Demon Eye Resistance」

 My sight moves to the log, and such a record appears. Looking around, those facing the eyes have become 「Charmed」.
 The beastgirls also could not resist it, and they are also charmed.

 “Goshujin-sama! Not good nano desu! So much meat nano desu.”
 “Meat, eat it whole~?”
 “Pochi, Tama! For Goshujin-sama, hunt as many as you can!”

 They must be hallucinating the soldiers as barbecued chicken and beef I think?
 I feel bad doing this while they look so happy, but I quickly knock them out and bring them to a corner of the room to hide. This place is behind a solid rock, so it should be safe even if the demon casts anything dangerous.
 Charmed soldiers start attacking the others. Since they are by far the minority, it doesn’t develop into disastrous infighting.
 Now, the only people fighting the eyeball demon in close quarters are the captain and the hot-blooded heavily armored warrior, but their respective broadsword and battle axe are blocked by the black spheres without touching the demon at all.
 Zena-san is casting support magic some distance away, but she doesn’t have much mana left.

 « Foolish mortals, fight amongst yourselves! Me pleased. »

 Perhaps the commotion appears amusing to it, the eyeball demon ridicules them. The ridicule leads to another below, and the eyeball demon starts glowing crimson.
 Then, Viscount Belton’s spell is finally complete, and the ground near the eyeball demon starts burning.

 “Demon! Don’t think Humans will stay beneath you forever!”

 He hold out his staff saying a clichéd line, but as if in mockery, the eyeball demon flies away from the flame like nothing happened. The AR pops up with the message 「Fire Magic Damage Reduced 75%」, so did it just use defensive magic?
 Just as that thing implied before, even if the Viscount had already begun chanting, it can still cancel it in time, how cunning.

 « Hot! Hot! It’s nice and hot! Me in summer all year ’round. »
 “Bu-, but how? 「Mid Rank Magic」 had no effect!”
 « Effect? It’s effective, human. Me kind. »

 Indeed, the eyeball demon’s health is decreasing, if only a little.

 « Ahh, despair hits the spot! Me too satisfied. »

 If this keeps going, casualties are inevitable.
 Zena-san did say a 「Low Rank Demon」 is as strong as a wyvern, and this thing does feel quite strong.
 So even if I reveal myself, it’s time to fight.
 Even if I might be banished for showing unreasonable strength, I can’t leave Zena-san to her demise here.
 But screams come from people hiding in the next chamber, brushing away my determination.
 Looking toward the path, I see Nidoren and others suddenly appear with the bloodied Undead Beast behind them.
 Shit! I was too focused on the scene in front of me and neglected the 「Radar」.
 Feeling dejected, I pick up a rock and throw it at the Undead Beast.
 I didn’t finish it in one hit because I want to take advantage of its presence.
 Staring at me with empty eye sockets and ignoring the middle aged man attacking it, that thing runs in my direction.
 I catch Zena’s shocked face with the corner of my eye.

 “Satou-san!”

 I stop the Undead Beast’s charge with my arms and let him slam into the wall hiding the chute.
 The wall collapses, and both the Undead Beast and I are swallowed by darkness.

 “Zena! Stay in position!”
 “No, let me go! Satou-san is, Satou-san is—!”

 With Zena-san calling my name behind me, I sink into the abyss.
 Sorry, Zena. You can scold me later.


 I’m in the chute behind the trap door. It’s too troublesome to return to the battlefield after falling three hundred meters, so I swing myself into a small chamber fifteen meters down.
 Normally this is a stunt that would never succeed and only break arms, but I easily accomplish it with my high level body.
 I take out the rarely used 「Sacred Sword」 and cut down the Unread Beast that tumbled in with me.
 There is, of course, no blue glow, but in a display of amazing sharpness, it splits the Undead Beast in two. Whenever I use the 「Sacred sword」, I would be hurt a little, so I sheath it again.
 Let’s transform in here!
 I change my robe for a flashy outfit, and add a vividly colored jacket on top. This jacket has a hood, which might hide my face, but I won’t count on it.
 I search the 「Storage」 and found something perfect.
 It’s the 「Dragon Mask」 I bought shopping with Martha. Since this silver mask was popular last year, it wouldn’t identify me right?
 I also put on the blond wig I bought.
 Alright, now I’m prepared.
 I run out the path, toward the battlefield like the wind.
 In the hall before the Skeleton Room, some monsters that might have been summoned by the demon are approaching, while the hunters and guards are desperately keeping them at bay.
 Making sure no one had gone out into the pathway, I throw a boulder I had in 「Storage」.
 Overwhelming mass spares no monster.
 
  >>> Title obtained 「Ruthless One」

 Making sure I got every monster on the 「Radar」, I dash between the dumbfounded hunters and guards, and go to the Skeleton Room.
 In the Skeleton Room, the battle against the demon continues.
 In the few minutes that passed, several soldiers have been seriously injured, but Zena-san is safe and sound. The beastgirls I hid in the corner are still passed out, but otherwise fine.
 Probably due to the viscount’s magic, fire is raging all around the demon, without any space for combat. Therefore, I take out a rock from「Storage」 and aim for the center of the giant eye.

 « Whoa? What was that? Me surprised. »
 “Knights, leave the demon to me!”
 “You’re kidding me! We don’t need help from some creepy silver mask!”

 Oh my, I was rejected?
 The silver festival mask meant to hide my identity, made me look suspicious.
 The eyeball demon bellows, then a translucent black wall appears in front of it.
 I try to hit it with a rock, but it loses momentum in front of the black wall, falling short. A magic that defends against projectiles, I assume.

 « What are you? Hurting demons with only a rock, me confused. »

 He bellows again, and a black javelin appears.
 Do demons chant spells with that bellowing?
 I easily evade the black javelin flying at me. Though it moved with alarming speed, my 「Evasion」 skill gave me the exact timing, allowing me to do so successfully.
 Did I distract its attention? The viscount’s magic 「Flame Javelin」 and the Oracle’s magic 「Sacred Javelin」 pierces the demon’s head, taking out a large chunk of the demon’s health.
 Then, on the other side, the captain’s broadsword and the hot-blooded heavily armored warrior’s axe deliver heavy blows.
 The axe doesn’t do any damage, but the captain’s broadsword is a magic weapon and cuts down the demon’s health.

 « Agh, defeated by humans? Defeated! Me spiteful. »

 A magic formation appears at the eyeball demon’s feet.

 “It’s going to cast something, everyone take cover!”

 At the captain’s warning, the soldiers hide behind nearby rocks.
 In a game, this would be the chance to attack with the intention to face it head on, but in reality, damage control is more important. Trying to launch a full-on assault on the demon right now, it’s akin to trying to snuff out the fuse of dynamite that’s about to blow.
 Even then, I feel like I need to take the chance to deal a deadly blow, so I take out the 「Sacred Sword」 tied on my belt and rush in. But, something lands on top of me and stopped my advance, pinning me to the ground.

  >>> Skill obtained 「Dark Magic: Demon」
  >>> Skill obtained 「Dark Magic Resistance」

 Damn! Was it the black sphere that stopped the soldiers’ attacks before?
 Gaining the skill is good, but nevermind that, this magic formation looks like bad news. I dropped the 「Sacred Sword」 when I fell, so I am blown away by the black sphere with empty hands.
 With the demon at the center, the black magic formation extends towards the sky—

 « Ahh, my master! Me yearning. »

 — And a pitch black giant emerges from the formation.

  ◆

 That really is a creature I can only call a demon.
 Horns of a goat, eyes shining crimson-black, skin with a pitch-black luster. On two pairs of arms, there are sharp silvery claws. Bat wings with glowing red veins sprout from his back, as well as split tails with sharp needles on the end. The seven-meter-tall ginormous torso is floating in mid air.
 This guy is a Level 62 「High Rank Demon」, with 「Wind」, 「Lightning」, and 「Dark Magic」 skills in addition to combat skills. It also has five skills inherent to its species: 「Flying」, 「Petrifying Breath」, 「Poison」, 「Regeneration」, 「Brethren Creation」.

 “Impossible! It summoned a 「Mid Rank Demon」!”
 « Wrong, mortals, I’m displeased. »
 « Master is a Demon King’s right hand! A god-like lord of demons! Me refuting.»
 “Unbelievable. A 「High Rank Demon」?”

 Awestruck by the appearance of a new demon, the Viscount and the captain fall to the ground with despair after hearing that it’s a 「High Rank Demon」. The only ones who held on are the heavily armored warrior and the Oracle.

 « Establishing the dungeon and summoning me was excellent work, I’m rewarding. »

 The High Rank Demon grabs the eyeball demon—

 « Ahh, to become part of master again! Me ecstatic. »

 — and bites down like that, devouring it.
 As the sudden travesty comes to an end, that guy grows another face with only an eyeball.
 Is it a fusion? At least it didn’t evolve or gain levels, so it’s not all bad.

 « Weaklings, fear me! Strong ones, fight me! I’m filtering. »

 I hear that thing’s voice overlapped with a bellowing. The new face seems to be chanting a spell.
 A storm surpassing the worst typhoon rages in this hall, and the soldiers are blown against the walls.
 I run against the wind, and before Zena-san and the priestesses hit the wall, I catch them one by one.
 The men can fend for themselves. Can’t save everyone, after all.

  >>> Skill obtained 「Wind Magic: Demon」
  >>> Skill obtained 「Wind Magic Resistance」

 When I endured the High Rank Demon’s magic, I obtained two skills, and I add skill points to the resistance skill.
 I remove the 「Sacred Sword」 from the rock it is stuck on, and confront the High Rank Demon.
 That thing looks down on me with a smirk, then after noticing the Sacred Sword in my hand, his expression of ridicule changes.

 « To think there is a 「Hero」 here. Were you notified by some god? I’m furious. »

 While talking to me, that thing is also quietly casting magic. What a dirty trick.
 That thing’s body is surrounded by a thin black fog, probably some type of support magic.
 Well, playing dirty is my strong point too. Checking the AR display for the effect of the spell, I find out it is some sort of buff, with a ridiculous 「Physical Damage Reduced 90%」 effect.

 « Carelessness will bring you death! I’m serious. »

 The High Rank Demon bellows once more, and his claws, horns, and tail are covered by black fog this time, which the AR display reveals to be 「Physical Attack Increased 300%」.
 Oi, stop buffing yourself.
 It will only get worse if I just watch, so I start my offense.
 I can only reach that guy’s feet with a sword, so I strike with the magic gun at max setting instead.
 It should be a nigh invisible bullet, but that guy twists to evade, and rushes me with a speed unfit for that huge form.
 That thing swings down its right claw, which leaves a red glowing trail. I lean back as far as I can, dodging the ripping attack, then use my impossibly unreasonable strength to slash upwards.
 However, this merely scratches that thing’s skin, leaving a shallow wound. I thought I was used to fighting from facing monsters, but it seems like I’m not quite prepared.

 « What is it Hero? Can’t use a 「Sacred Sword」? I’m disappointed. »

 Whatever minor injuries I had received, they were healed in an instant.
 Is it as the Oracle said, that without the title of 「Hero」, I can’t uncover the full potential of a 「Sacred Sword」?
 I dodge that guy’s attack while retaliating, but the bullets from my magical gun are evaded, and the 「Sacred Sword」 only leaves a shallow wound, so I’m unable to injure it at all.
 Perhaps unable to take anymore, that thing begins to throw lightning, mixed into close combat.
 I am struck by lightning without any chance to dodge.

  >>> Skill obtained 「Lightning Magic: Demon Tribe」
  >>> Skill obtained 「Lightning Resistance」
  >>> Skill obtained 「Paralysis Resistance」

 “Ouch, my limbs feel prickly.”

 If I had to describe the sensation, it would feel like the numbness after sitting seiza plus the shock from static electricity. I verify my health bar and see about five points of damage.
 I try to avoid that thing’s claw attack, but because the paralysis is still there, my backstep was a moment too slow. I parried with the 「Sacred Sword」, but the claw still scratches my shoulder.

  >>> Skill obtained 「Poison Resistance」
  >>> Skill obtained 「Disease Resistance」
  >>> Skill obtained 「Decay Resistance」

 How many kinds of status afflictions are there? Well, did I successfully resist it? There’s nothing wrong with my body.
 I put some distance between us while adding points to the resistance skills.

 « Tough fellow! I’m awed. »

 Unfortunately, since I had easily resisted all magic and status afflictions, I start to get careless.
 That thing breathes out a grayish gas, covering my left side.
 The surface of my body begins to petrify, and I take out a cape to protect against further damage from the petrifying gas.
  >>> Skill obtained 「Petrification Resistance」

 I am quite worried, but only my clothing and the surface of my body turn out to be petrified. I open and close my palm a few times, and the thin layer of cast-like petrification falls off, showing flawless skin underneath.
 That was scary, good thing there’s a level gap.
 That thing is really surprised that the petrification didn’t work on me but still keeps firing 「Dark Bullets」 and 「Wind Cutters」 at me, then swings his claws at me as I try to escape into the air.
 Damn, jumping into the air is a faux pas in a fighting game.
 My robe, brittle from petrification, rips apart, exposing my shoulder.
 I do take the damage, but the skill 「Self Healing」 cures me every time I am injured. Thanks to that, though my robe is all bloody, I am otherwise healthy.
 Even so, it might not be safe to lose too much blood, so I should not rely on 「Self Healing」 overmuch.
 When the thoughtlessly extended arm tries to grab me, I take the opportunity to blow it away with the 「Sacred Sword」.
 Huh? Isn’t physical damage reduced 90%?
 Well, that thing quickly regrows the lost arm. The severed arm contorts like clay and transforms into a Low Rank Demon.

 « Quite a sharp 「Sacred Sword」, but my brethren will increase if you cut me, you know? I’m advising. »

 The arm demon attacks the captain and others, but since it doesn’t have any magical skills, they should be able to fight it. To make things a little easier, I snow its legs with the magic gun.

 « However good you are as a swordsman, without the power of a 「Sacred Sword」, you cannot defeat me. I’m derisive. »

 It’s what the Oracle mentioned, “Only the 「Sacred Sword」 wielded by a Hero can defeat a 「Demon King」.” Seriously, High Rank Demons follow the same rule as Demon Kings?
 And, I only have two kinds of magic.
 Zena-san said 「Low Rank Magic」 has no effect, so 「Fireball」 won’t do right?
 「Meteor Shower」 is too powerful, so it’s out of the question. It might defeat that thing, but it would put Zena-san and the beastgirls in danger. The people of 「Seiryuu City」 and myself wouldn’t be able to escape unscathed either.
 Distracted by such thoughts, while I am dodging the High Rank Demon’s class, I am instead struck to the ground by its tail, slamming me into the corner.
 Shaking my head nauseous from impact, I stand up.
 If this continues, it will only get worse.
 The 「Sacred Sword」 can cut it, but it regenerates quickly, and enemies will only increase.
 I only have magic that’s either too strong or too weak.
 The magic gun will only be dodged.
 Hmm? Would it?

 « I’m assaulting. »

 Then, the High Rank Demon does a flying kick.
 I am struck with that multiple-ton inertia, and I fly across the ground, slamming into the wall of the dungeon.
 Ouch. If I didn’t have 「Pain Resistance」, I could have passed out from the pain.

 “...■■■ 「Air Hammer」.”
 “...■■■■ 「Flame Javelin」.”
 “...■■ 「Sacred Javelin」.”

 Suddenly, Zena-san, the Viscount, and the Oracle cast their magic at the High Rank Demon.
 The demon resists the magic, receiving not the tiniest scratch, but it is enough of an opening for me. I had dropped both the 「Sacred Sword」 and the magic gun, but there is a back up magic gun in 「Storage」.
 
 « You dare interrupt my pleasure with weak magic! I’m outraged. »
 
 With its foot on my stomach, that thing picks up a nearby boulder to launch at Zena-san and company.
 I won’t let you do that, okay?
 I bring out the backup magic gun from 「Storage」 and fire at point blank range. The setting is at maximum, of course.

 « Grr, I’m careless. »

 The first shot connects, but that guy quickly gives up on the boulder, so all subsequent shots are evaded. I hate how the magic gun has a tenth-of-a-second delay after pulling the trigger.
 However, the damage caused is not even one percent of that guy’s health. Yet since the damage caused by the gun regenerate slower compared to sword cuts, if my shots could continue to hit, I might be able to do this.
 Let’s use 「Fireball」 to distract him, then attack with the magic gun from up close! I recover mana fairly  quickly, so as long as I’m not using 「Meteor Shower」, I don’t have to worry about exhausting it.
 To increase the power as much as I can, I put away the 「Sacred Sword」 I just recovered, and take out a staff. The Viscount and Zena-san both use staffs, so they must increase the power somewhat.

 « Abandoning the unusable 「Sacred Sword」? I’m curious. »

 That thing gets away from me, and preparing to dodge in any direction, it arches its back.
 I choose 「Fireball」 from the 「Magic」 tab.
 Eat this!

 BOOM!

 My field of view becomes white, and a thundering boom echoes.
 When my sight returns, I see the half-charred, smoking High Rank Demon, and the dungeon wall behind him with a half-spherical crater burned into it. The wall is still red-hot and melting like magma.
 What happened?

 — Right, I forgot.

 When I used 「Meteor Shower」, casting it from the 「Magic」 tab was several magnitudes stronger than selecting the icon. Then, other spells are probably the same.
 The pressure from the hot air blows, and I would burn myself if I breathe that, so I hold my breath.

 « Unexpectedly, someone with such good combat skills is a magician! I’m incredulous. »

 The viscount says something like “That must be the 「High Rank Spell」 「Crimson Spear」!” from behind the rock.
 Nope, it was a super-basic 「Fireball」.
 But, powerful as it may be, it is difficult to use. Though I can win after three more shots, that guy has seen through me, and to prevent me from attacking, is preparing to hide behind Zena-san and the others.
 Sorry, Wagahai guy.
 Checkmate!
 I put away the staff and take up the sacred sword again.
 Yes, when I recalled the thing about magic, I also remembered something else.
 I dash across the room, closing in on that thing by bouncing off boulders.

 —To defeat a Demon King, you need a 「Hero」 wielding a 「Sacred Sword」.

 I take out a tent from 「Storage」 to defend against the petrifying gas that guy desperately releases, and slide between that guy’s legs.

 — High Rank Demons are a Demon King’s right hand, a god-like lord of demons.

 The petrified tent did its thing.
 I throw a 「Fireball」 at the ceiling from the back, to attract everyone’s attention.

 — However, I have a 「Sacred Sword」 yet no 「Hero」 title.

 Relying on the 「Radar」, I jump from the ground and kick the still burning-hot ceiling to change directions. It felt a little warm.

 — So I can’t damage one effectively.

 From a wall jump, I shoot toward that guy from a blind spot and cut down its wings, preventing it from flying.

 — Is that really true?

 Let’s finish this before it regenerates.

 — Remember your titles. What are you?

 I change my title and sword, then from above the High Rank Demon who is standing still for a single moment to regenerate its wings, I swing straight down.
 The pitch-black blade that is absorbing all light splits the dark demon apart. The edge of the cut begins turning to dust, and the High Rank Demon slowly breaks down.

 
 « What, that sword! ...I’m...de-...-feated. »

 After the demon says that the black dust vanishes like fog clearing up.
 It felt like cutting down an illusion, and everything worked so smoothly I feel uneasy, but according to the log it really was defeated.
 As the people around me stare dumbfounded, I sheath the sword and leave here.
 How I was able to defeat that guy, seems unbelievably simple now.
 If, with the title of a 「Hero」 and a 「Sacred Sword」, one could defeat something god-like, then a 「God Slayer」 with a 「Divine Sword」 who can kill a god, can definitely do it too.
 Yup, that was it.
 Getting back to the small chamber before, I change back and climb up the chute. The wall of this dungeon is harder than normal rock, so it took some time to dig holes I can use to climb up.

 “Goshujin-sama—”

 When I’m five meters from the exit, Tama descends wearing a rope harness. Was it to recue me? Liza and Pochi are peeking down the hole.

 “Thanks for coming after me, you’ve worked hard.”
 “Yea!”

 I let Tama sit on my shoulder, and climb up this way.

 “Thank you too, Pochi and Liza.”
 “As long as you’re...”
 “Alright nano desu!”

 Since Liza seems to be overjoyed and crying, I take out a new handkerchief from my bag for her. And were the tears contagious? Pochi and Tama are crying too, hugging me tightly.
 There, there. If it’s tears of happiness from seeing me safe, you can cry all you want.
 I wave to Zena-san who is running my way. It hasn’t been two days since we were trapped inside, but I feel like I spent an eternity in this dungeon.
 At some point, my titles have increased.

  >>> Obtained title 「Dungeon Conqueror」
  >>> Obtained title 「Dances with Demons」
  >>> Obtained title 「Demon Slayer (High Rank)」
  >>> Obtained title 「Hero」

 I wish I had the last title earlier!

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