Helen’s Strengthening, Start
The next day. We came to the Dungeon that Gassur and Ellis-san had told us about.
We dropped by the HQ to inform them we were going to challenge the Dungeon, but the Guild was, as usual, rowdy with perverts such as that flasher and the destruction idiot and many more, so Gassur only sent us off with a smile.
The Dungeon was located in the mountains near Terveil, a place not likely to be visited by the general public.
Perhaps due to its remote position, there was no special inspection point or receptionist at the opening of the Dungeon, which was basically just a gaping hole on a huge earth mound.
In front of such a Dungeon, I gave a shout to everyone present cheerfully.
「Well, let’s go and capture this dungeon——」(Seiichi)
Saria was the only one to return my cheer, while Helen had her head clasped in her hands.
「I’m about to enter a crazy dangerous Dungeon, aren’t I? And yet, what’s with this lax atmosphere? Isn’t it weird?!」(Helen)
Weird? This is normal, though.
Putting that aside, not everyone could join the Dungeon exploration this time around.
Lutia went to meet up with the Demon Army along with Lucius-san once again, while Lulune, Olga-chan, and Zola went with her as her bodyguards.
…Rurune actually insisted on following me at first, but after Olga-chan allured her with food, she easily agreed to attend the guarding duty. She’s actually loyal to the food and not me, isn’t she?
Thus, there were only me, Saria, and Al as the veteran adventurer who accompanied Helen.
「Ideally, we’d have two more members……a healer and a tanker for our party, but……」(Al)
Al mumbled, her eyes were on me.
「Why are you sighing?!」(Seiichi)
Al’s blatant sigh invited a retort from me. I can’t believe she actually sighed in my face!
「How can’t I? Adventurers all around the world form parties to delve into dungeons, and here you are filling every single role by yourself.」(Al)
「That’s not true though?!」(Seiichi)
Putting aside whether I really could fill the role of a single party by myself or not, in general, Dungeons were supposed to be conquered by a party of six, it seemed.
By no means at all was anyone meant to clear it by blowing the whole Dungeon away like what I did. Yeaah.
「Well, whatevs. Let’s just go in. We’ll talk on our way down.」(Al)
Still can’t completely accept it, I immediately headed to the Dungeon, but I saw just how tense Helen’s face was.
「Why are you so nervous?」(Seiichi)
「Of course I am nervous!」(Helen)
Weird. No matter how much I look back, I can’t remember being as nervous as she is now. Even when I was wandering through the 【Forest of Endless Love and Sorrow】, I don’t think I was this nervous. Well, I was so high on adrenaline and desperate for my own survival back then, so being nervous wasn’t exactly on the menu.
「And so, what? What should I do from here? Should I just go around and fight and raise my level then call it a day?」(Helen)
「What, is that not what you have in mind?」(Seiichi)
「Well, my stats will raise if my level goes up, and being a 『Transcendent』 in itself is already a threat, but……At times, battle experiences and polished techniques can surpass even that difference in status, you know? Obviously, I want to level up too, but I want to gain something more. Who’s to say what I need to do to fight against the Kaizer Empire……」(Helen)
Ooh, really…… I personally thought that leveling up alone would be enough, but apparently it’s not for Helen.
「Then, then, why don’t you do it like this?」(Saria)
While I was pondering what to do, Saria smiled as though she just found a good idea.
「Seiichi, can you walk up to that point?」(Saria)
As soon as I walked up to the position she pointed, numerous spears came at me from the ceilings, poisonous arrows flew at me from the walls, and then the ground opened into a huge pitfall.
I dodged all of them with body stances so unnatural even I winced just thinking about it.
「Just like that, you just jump straight to the traps!」(Saria)
「What are you, an idiot?」(Helen)
Spoke Helen, her face dead serious. Sorry, Saria. I also don’t think this will work.
「Rather, you can’t just throw yourself to traps, you know?! What do you think traps are for?!」(Al)
「Eh? For training?」(Saria)
「Now I pity the Dungeon……!」(Al)
When Al, the one voice of reason amongst us, immediately retorted Saria’s action, Saria answered with a quizzical look on her face. No, I mean, yeah, I can see how good they’ll be for training, but think about the feeling of the Dungeon who prepared these traps! It’s just pitiful!
「Mu……I thought it was a pretty good idea. I mean, Seiichi pretty much triggered all the traps by himself in the Dungeon Zola-chan was held, so I thought that was how you use them to train……」(Saria)
「……At the very least, now I know that Seiichi-sensei is just too far out of normal no matter where he is. Also, you know what, I think I’ll stick to raising my level after all. I don’t want to be an irregularity like him.」(Helen)
「That hurt much more than it should!」(Seiichi)
Weird. Even though none of what I did, even if it was something I couldn’t control, I just keep getting treated like an irregularity. I’ll cry at this point.
Ignoring me, Helen and the other two headed deeper into the Dungeon.
「…………Eh, wait, you’re just gonna leave me here like this?」
Being left behind with my body still twisting ridiculously, I went to follow the three of them from behind, crying all by myself.
At the end of the day, our goal was still to level Helen up. Therefore, even if she was fighting monsters above her own level, unless it really posed a danger to her, we wouldn’t help her at all. On the other hand, so that Helen could really fight a monster in one-to-one manner, Saria, Al, and I would take care of other monsters while she fought.
While I know I let her fight mano-a-monstro, I had no idea how far I should let her be. However, when it came down to it, Helen used what seemed to be some kind of martial arts she mastered to toss monsters around and defeat them thoroughly without fail.
Even now, she was using her twin daggers to fight against a giant, metal-colored mantis with the name 『Armor Mantis Lv: 201』.
And finally, after she parried the mantis’ scythe and sliced its head off, the Armor Mantis disappeared into motes of light.
「Phew……I levelled up again, it seems.」
I congregated her as I grabbed the leg of 『Killer Hopper Lv: 411』, the giant grasshopper that came attacking us while Helen was fighting, and lifted it upside down.
And yet, for some reason, Helen only gave me a cold look.
「……I know you’re just killing time, but can’t you stop being such an aberration at least during the time I’m not fighting?」
「Who did you call an aberration?!」
Isn’t that unreasonable? I only caught it because the grasshopper is so big it tickled my childish fancy, you know? Didn’t you get excited when you found huge bugs when you were a kid? Well I did.
———As we were steadily progressing deeper into the Dungeon, Al suddenly stopped in her tracks.
「Oi, stop for a sec.」(Al)
「Nn? What’s wrong?」(Seiichi)
Al crouched and inspected the ground closer.
I took a look as well, but I couldn’t identify these footprints that Al said.
「Ah, you’re right!」(Saria)
「Indeed. And not of a monster, but a human……」(Helen)
Uh-oh?Am I the only one who doesn’t get it? Or rather, how can all of you tell? That’s just a soil grond, right?
Al, then, noticed me and questioned with an exasperated look.
「……Seiichi. You don’t understand shit, do ya?」(Al)
「Th-th-th-that’s not true?! It’s this one, right?!」(Seiichi)
In desperation, I touched what random place on the ground so that she didn’t realize my obliviousness. But then, an unpleasant sound was heard and my footings disappeared all of a sudden.
Yet again I twisted my body in the most nasty posture and used the air as a foothold to avoid the pitfall trap
「Phew……That saved my hide.」(Seiichi)
「No, how can you evade that kind of certain-death trap even though you can’t even tell footprints?」(Al)
「I should be the one asking how you can tell footprints and whatnot?」(Seiichi)
Not just the footprints, the traps as well. They all looked like plain ground.
「Sigh……Should I be relieved to know that there are things you can’t do, or should I lament the fact that you can’t even do something so basic for an adventurer……」(Al)
「You know what, I think Seiichi-sensei is just too inconsistent……」(Helen)
「As for me, I used to use footprints and such as a reference when looking for prey, so I’m just used to it!」(Saria)
Saria’s familiarity, of course, must have something to do with her instincts and wisdom as a wild animal, so it was a bit different thant what was being talked about. But still, apparently, trap-sensing and finding footprints were essential skills for an adventurer.
Well, there were some adventurers who specialized in traps and they had better detection skills in that line, but of course, most still needed the minimum level of knowledge regarding traps and whatnot.
……Now that I think about it, I’ve never learned any proper knowledge for being an adventurer, haven’t I. I can’t even tell what footprint is what.
My body is off-the-roof in various aspects, and yet I lack any real experience and technique that should’ve come with them, huh.
Now that I learned yet another issue with myself, I once again asked Al.
「And so, why does it matter if there are footprints? Gassur and other guild members has been here before, so leaving footprints behind should be normal, right?」(Seiichi)
「Well, for one, the footprints are relatively new. Not to mention, like you said, the Guild has investigated this Dungeon once and deemed it as dangerous. While there’s no guard on the entrance, Terveil’s adventurers should have all been informed about this, so it’s unlikely for them to come here by choice.」(Al)
「Eh? But……what about the guy who keeps yelling “DESTRUCTION!!”? wouldn’t he come here?」(Seiichi)
「Well……Yeah, taking account of his personality, but didn’t we see him in the HQ before we came here?」(Al)
「Come to think of it……」(Seiichi)
I’m pretty sure I saw him smiling high-and-mighty as he destroyed a desk into splinters when we stopped by the Guild HQ.
「Not to mention, none of these footprints are heading out. Which only means that their owner still remains in this dungeon.」(Al)
「That means……a civilian might have wandered in, or another adventurer might be challenging it?」(Seiichi)
「We can rule out civilians. It’s impossible to come this far without encountering a single monster, and any civilians will be finished if they meet even a single one of these monsters. The only adventurers who would challenge this Dungeon would be those S rank lots, but……」(Al)
Al stared at the footprints on the ground with a difficult face.
「……Well, mulling it over does nothing. As I said, there’s no footprints that head back out, so maybe we’ll meet ‘em deep in the Dungeon.」(Al)
「Hmm……But, is it common to see other people in the same Dungeon?」(Seiichi)
The concept of Dungeon is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Earth’s games, so I have this idea of it being difficult to see another person within a Dungeon, but……
「Well, if you go to some popular Dungeon, you can even witness people fighting over preys and shit. There are unspoken rules and regulations, of course, so it’s not exactly a lawless place……」(Al)
「Then, we gotta greet them when we meet them!」(Saria)
Saria said that innocently, but Al’s gaze was a bit skeptical.
「Well, let’s just see if the guy down there is a good guy or not……」(Al)
「……Nothing. Well, we’re in a Dungeon. Don’t just help Helen level up, why don’t we hunt some good items in treasure chests too?」(Al)
「Come to think of it! Level is not everything, equipment is just as important. I’ve been so focused on pure strength that such a simple fact slipped my mind……」(Helen)
「Well, a tool is only as good as the artist. Then, keep your eyes peeled for items while raising your level, Helen.」(Al)
Helen nodded happily at Al’s words and went straight after her.
「……Her homeroom teacher was me, right?」(Seiichi)
I couldn’t stop my tears from Saria’s kindness.
Whilst Seiichi and his party steadily conquering the Dungeon, one of the 『Divine Apostles』 of the 【Demon God Cult】 with the name «Absolute Death», Destra, was walking down the depth of the Dungeon aloofly.
The man didn’t look like a person who was challenging a Dungeon at all, and despite the fact that super-powerful monsters were lurking around, he was defenseless to his every fibre.
「Ah, found a chest~」
Even with the good-chance that it was riddled with a trap, Destra opened the treasure chest with no hesitation whatsoever.
And then, a puff of purple smoke erupted from the chest, spoofing on his face squarely.
「Uwah, cough, cough」
However, Destra only frowned lightly, no further change happened to him whatsoever.
「Aw, damn it. You didn’t need to put a lethal poison smoke in there, did you~?」
As he had said, the trap in the treasure chest was a poisonous smoke so lethal a short whiff could kill a person, and it even capable of entering through the pores should you close your nose.
「Man, you’re so cheeky for a Dungeon——should I kill you?」
When Destra, who was rendered as little as a small cough, spoke thus with his eyes narrowed, the entire Dungeon began to shake.
However, his deathly atmosphere vanished like a lie when he sensed something inside the treasure chest and opened it with an air of excitement.
「Oh, talk about luck! Not some trash, but a real weapon this time~」
What was inside was a Legendary Class weapon with the name 『Blood River Sword』.
The red streaks on its jet-black body were like veins, pulsating eerily.
「Let’s see? ……Heeh, the wound it slashes open will never close, huh. And it can change shape as its owner wills, is it……」
After reading the weapon’s abilities with his 『Appraisal』 Skill, Destra smiled wickedly.
「Yup, yup yup! Sounds good, great even! It’s really my vibe! What, you do have something good after all!」
With Destra in a good mood, the trembling of the entire Dungeon subsided.
And then, the 『Assassin Spider Lv:789』 that had been hovering over Destra who was appreciating his new weapon, silently descended upon him and went to attack——-
「Gi, ghik?! G-, gii……」
———And the monster lost its life.
Seemingly finally noticed the Assassin Spider, Destra turned around to look behind him.
「Oo, you were targeting me, huh. Well, that’s the end of the line for you」
He said matter-of-factly, as if he knew that everything and anything that attacked him would obviously die.
Leaving the Assassin Spider that died oblivious of its own death, Destra stood up to delve even deeper, but then suddenly stopped.
Then, he looked at the path behind him and noticed something.
「……Heeh. I didn’t think people would come here. It’ll be a pain if they see me, but Eutice would be on my case if I end the excursion this early. Which means, I only need to~」
After saying so, Destra held up his palm towards the depth of the road and tried to do something, but then———
「———Naah. I don’t mind killing them from here, but I’d like to see their dying faces myself𝅘𝅥𝅮」
Leaving those words behind, he began to move on again.
「Now, what kind of person is coming? Man, I can’t wait.」
———Thus, the encounter between Destra and Seiichi and his party was steadily approaching.
And the fact that he didn’t do what he meant to do and left here was…. the end of the line for Destra.