The communication with the dungeon is restored right after they finish their lunch.
Just after finishing lunch, and right as they were about to give orders to the bird-type and Wraiths, a message from Elibel reached the two of them.
But the reason for the loss of communication was shocking enough to astonish both Una and Dos.
It was due to a single monster that appeared inside the dungeon.
Jibru, the “Divine Catastrophe Dragon King.”
An overwhelmingly powerful entity that’s said to be untouchable, reigning at the apex of this world.
A monster so well-known that even adventurers like Una and Dos would inevitably hear of it if they were active above ground.
This monster’s immense magical power not only interfered with the communication, but temporarily disabled every function within the dungeon.
The mere fact that such a creature appeared in the dungeon is shocking. But what’s even more astonishing is that Jibru claims to be Earth’s mother.
That’s a shocker.
Even Dos, ever the stoic, was taken aback.
Usually expressionless and motionless, his eyebrows twitched.
As for Una, she muttered incoherently, “Hawawawa… if he’s Father’s mother, then is she my grandmother… awawawa…”
She must be shaken.
It took a real effort to calm Una down without Orion noticing.
Such… an effort.
『…but are you okay over there?』
『Y-Yes. Is Father safe?!』
『We can’t say he’s 100% fine, but he’s alright for now. However, we’re prepared for the worst-case scenario.』
After lunch, while guarding Orion, Una and Dos were communicating with Elibel via the restored communication magic stone.
『Anyway, we’ll handle things on this end. So, you two focus on what you have to do.』
Though they both wanted to return to the dungeon immediately, after being lectured extensively by Elibel about the importance of them being outside the dungeon, they reluctantly agreed.
『For now, continue to broadcast the Continental Congress. If there are any instructions, we’ll send them through Gijie.』
『Oh, and there’s someone I want you to make contact with there—Hm? Oh, you already declined that idiot? Well, that’s very like him.』
Elibel’s voice had a hint of amusement.
『…what do you mean?』
『Nothing, just a thing on our end. Just focus on what you can do. It’s for the sake of the dungeon, and for that idiot—ahem, I mean Earth.』
With that, the communication from Elibel cut off.
『…what we can only do.』
Dos looks at Una.
『…let’s give it our all.』
The two nodded and bumped their fists together.
The afternoon went by calmly, since communication with the dungeon was restored.
Fortunately, matters regarding Earth’s dungeon, such as tariffs and security, had too many details to discuss, so they’d be addressed the next day or later.
Apparently, a representative from a country had asked the chairperson not to tackle such significant matters on the first day, which was a relief.
As a result, the afternoon discussions focused on the economic conditions of each nation and exchanged opinions on them.
For Dos, it was a chance to learn about human governance, which he found intriguing. But Una, perhaps due to the relief of earlier tensions, was clearly sleeping at one point, her soft snoring evident.
Of course, she’s capable of guarding even while asleep (inexplicably skilled at it), so there isn’t technically a problem. Still, Dos couldn’t help but be irked by it.
And so, the first day of the Continental Congress came to an end.
Afterward, Una and Dos chatted briefly with Orion and then left the venue.
「…what is it, Orion?」
「Well, it’s nothing significant… But…」
Orion tilts her head as she speaks.
「I can’t find Sir Schwein. I thought we could have dinner together…」
Orion looks around.
However, using her other senses and magical perception, she can understand her surroundings better than most.
And she must’ve noticed that Sir Schwein’s presence was no longer in the hall.
「That pig… I mean, Sir Schwein probably went to the town below the castle.」
Una is the one who answers.
「Huh? Is that true」
「Yes. I heard it when we crossed paths at lunch. Apparently, he had some business at the Pig Merchant Association in the town below the castle. After the meeting, he immediately left the castle in a carriage with his guards.」
「Is that… so?」
Orion’s shoulders slump in disappointment, but in the next moment, she suddenly perks up as if struck with a new idea.
「In that case, why don’t we head to the town below the castle too?」
Una and Dos’s voices blend in surprise.
What’s she talking about?
「…Orion, you’re under guard. It’s not a good idea to leave the castle recklessly.」
「That’s right. The town’s atmosphere is tense as it is.」
「That’s… too bad.」
Orion looks downcast.
「I… I just thought we could taste the food from the town below the castle.」
「It can’t be helped. Let’s go.」
Una surprisingly gives in easily.
Dos exclaims in shock, “What is she saying?”
In contrast, Orion’s face lights up with a smile.
「Is that really okay, Una?」
「Of course. It’s good to take a break once in a while. Plus, if we go to the town, we might run into that pig… I mean, Sir Schwein. And… I’ve heard the food in the town is delicious.」
Dos thinks to himself that the last part probably revealed her true feelings.
「Yes, that’s right. Let’s go right away.」
「…wait! Una! Orion, didn’t we say it’s not a good idea?」
「What are you fussing about, Dos? Come on, let’s go.」
「We’re leaving without you, Dos~」
Orion and Una have already started walking.
Dos realizes he can’t stop the pair now.
What about the mission?
What about the dungeon?
You’re my protection detail, please behave!
With a feeling of resignation, Dos follows the two.
At that time, in a corner of the town below the castle―――
Sir Schwein is inside a carriage, a cheeky grin spreading across his face.
「Nuufufu, I hope the deal goes well…」
In his hands, he holds a parchment detailing the contract he’s about to finalize at the trading company they’re heading to.
「With this, another trading company will support my activities… Nuufufu, I can’t stop laughing.」
「…What exactly is in the contract?」
One of the knight escorts asks, seemingly quite curious about the dark smirk on Sir Schwein’s face.
「Nufufu, you want to know? It’s about how to handle my precious children… Nufufu.」
“The content is honorable and above board, right?” The escort knight starts to ask but then holds back.
Despite Sir Schwein’s grotesque appearance, the knight knows that deep down, he’s a man of exceptional character.
Still, there are times when Sir Schwein’s smiles send a shiver down his spine.
「But, is it really safe? We might be escorting you, but leaving the castle recklessly…」
The knight tries to steer the conversation in another direction, but Sir Schwein answers calmly,
「Don’t worry. I have you excellent knights as my guards. And the Pig Merchant Association we’re heading to has a skilled bodyguard… Nufufu.」
「The Pig Merchant Association… You mean the ‘Ice Flame’ Hwan Lott?」
Sir Schwein nods
The knight has heard rumors.
A powerful bodyguard known for his ice and fire magic.
He’s like a freelance mercenary, but his skills are said to rival S-Rank adventurers.
Undoubtedly, he’s one of the top fighters in the Hà Giang Empire.
「He’s agreed to escort our carriage on the return journey, so there’s no issue. Nufufu.」
Indeed, with a bodyguard like that, they should be safe.
Just as this thought crosses their minds, the carriage stops.
「Here we are.」
While they were chatting, they’ve reached their destination, the trading company.
The escort knight looks around cautiously as he and Sir Schwein step out of the carriage.
「Hmm? Odd. Usually, someone is waiting at the entrance.」
Sir Schwein observes, scanning the area in front of the trading company.
No one is there, in fact, the area seems eerily deserted.
「Maybe they’re already inside?」
The knights take the lead as they step into the trading company.
As Sir Schwein enters, there’s a soft snapping sound.
「Hmm? Did you hear that odd noise just now?」
「No, I didn’t hear anything.」
Sir Schwein nods and continues into the building.
Inside, an eerie silence fills the space.
Then――――they’re met with a scene that could only be described as a tragedy.
Both Sir Schwein and his escorts are shocked.
「What…? What is this?」
Furniture is scattered everywhere, all of it destroyed, frozen, and scorched.
The strong smell of blood lingers in the air.
Clearly, a battle took place here.
「What… what happened here?!」
Just as Sir Schwein murmurs this, a man crashes through the ceiling.
One of the knights shouts, rushing to shield Sir Schwein.
As the dust clears, the face of the fallen man becomes visible.
「It… it can’t be!」
Everyone there is in disbelief.
The man, already lifeless, is none other than Hwan Lott, the “Ice Flame” bodyguard they were just discussing.
Known as one of the empire’s top fighters, seeing him bloodied and lifeless was unimaginable.
「Who could have…?」
As the escort knight mutters, another figure descends from the opening in the ceiling.
A man dressed like a priest, half his face covered by a white mask, and in his hand, he grips a massive sword.
「…Hmm, why is the barrier broken?」
The masked man murmurs.
「Who are you?! What’s the meaning of this? Did you do this?!」
The escort knight demands, drawing his sword.
But the masked man, seemingly not hearing, simply says,
「…It can’t be helped.」
In the next instant―――the knight’s head is severed.
The masked man has made his move.
Another of the guards, a knight, lets out a dumbfounded cry.
And it turns out to be his last.
The masked man, with the same blade that felled the first, cuts down the other knight as well.
The head of the first knight who was struck whirls in the air before hitting the ground.
All of this happens in a mere few seconds.
In that short span, both of Sir Schwein’s guards have been killed.
Seeing the severed head rolling on the ground, Sir Schwein finally realizes the terrifying fact that his two guards have been killed in an instant.
「What… Wh-what… Nu–NUHIIIIIIII!」
Sir Schwein, trying to contain his fear, scrambles back in desperation.
In just a blink, both his guards, who were by no means weak but rather renowned knights in his country, have been slain.
His mind is a mess.
Confusion reigns in Sir Schwein’s head.
But one thing becomes very clear.
The man in front of him intends to kill him.
Slowly, the masked man approaches.
The sound of his footsteps on the floor sounds to Schwein like a countdown to death.
Either paralyzed by fear or unable to stand, he drags himself backward.
「BU-BUHIII!!! P-please… I’ll pay any amount! I promise I won’t tell anyone I saw you! I can’t die here, not now!」
Schwein pleads desperately, his excess flesh jiggling.
I cannot die in a place like this yet.
The rights for the Orcs and other demi-human races have just started to get on track.
I had planned to leverage this Continental Congress to advocate for an end to discrimination against demi-humans and slaves, to raise funds and collaborate to create a safe nation for them.
Above all, the children from my orphanage are waiting for me.
They look forward to my stories about the Hà Giang Empire’s sights, its delicious food, and the gifts I would bring them.
I must live until they grow up and leave my orphanage.
I have to build a nation where they can live happily and safely.
So, I cannot die.
「P-please… spare me… Buhihi… p-please..」
Tears and snot stream down his face as he begs.
But the masked man speaks in a monotone voice.
「…It’s unfortunate, but I can’t let you go after you’ve seen me.」
The large sword, wielded by Rugios, is swung down, targeting Sir Schwein’s head.
But the expected crunching sound doesn’t come.
The sword stops midway.
Or to be precise, it’s stopped.
Suddenly, a glowing white cross appears in front of Sir Schwein, blocking the sword.
Schwein recognizes the cross.
It’s the signature protective spell of a certain blind saint he knows well.
「Huff… Huff… Are you okay, Sir Schwein?!」
A woman’s voice sounds.
From the entrance.
Schwein looks towards the voice.
As expected, there stands a woman in a nun’s habit.
「O-Orion! What are you doing here?」
Drenched in various fluids, Schwein asks.
「We were also in the town below the castle. We felt an odd presence and came here.」
To be accurate, it was Dos who noticed, Orion adds, standing protectively in front of Schwein.
「The ‘Holy Ark’, Orion Karla…」
The man mutters.
「Yes, that’s me. And who might you be? Why are you attacking my dear friend? What is happening here?」
「…You too, are on my master’s list to be killed.」
Without answering Orion’s question, Rugios positions his large sword vertically.
「O-Orion! R-run! He’s no ordinary man! He killed my guards in an instant!」
Schwein shouts out.
Even in a situation like this, Orion can’t help but give a wry smile, seeing how Schwein is more concerned about others than himself.
But Orion shakes her head.
「Sir Schwein, I apologize, but I have no intention of fleeing when my friend’s in danger. I’m neither a coward nor heartless,」
Orion gives a reassuring grin.
「Don’t worry. This will be over soon.」
As Orion says this, a man in a mask gets ready to fight.
In an instant…
「…full of openings. Wind Palm!」
A shockwave runs through the masked man’s left side.
For a brief moment, he sees a fist buried deep into his flank.
With a thudding sound, Rugios spirals and slams into the wall.
A deafening crash follows as the wall crumbles.
And where Rugios once stood, another man now stands.
「…sigh, Orion. Don’t rush in ahead」
「That’s right; otherwise, there’s no point in us being your guards.」
Dos and Una rush to the scene.
「I’m sorry, both of you…」
As she apologize, Una and Dos approach Sir Schwein.
「…Una, take Sir Schwein to safety」
In this situation, this pig would only be in the way.
Una immediately understands.
「Understood. And what will you do, Dos?」
「Nufuu! Hey, I’m actually quite heavy, you know!?」
While effortlessly carrying the hefty Sir Schwein, who’s almost twice her weight, Una asks.
「…I’ll hold ‘him’ off.」
Following Dos’s gaze, Rugios stands there unscathed, wielding a greatsword.
Rugios says, brushing off the dust.
「I didn’t plan to make a big scene…」
Yet, a surge of magical power radiates from Rugios.
It seems he has no intention of letting them go.
「…Orion, you should escape with Una… I’ll buy time.」
Dos urges Orion to flee, but she shakes her head.
「I’m sorry, Dos. I can’t accept that request.」
The next moment, an intense magical power emits from her.
「―――That’s because I’m pretty mad right now.」
Her unopened eyes focus solely on the enemy before her.
「How can I possibly keep calm after he tried to kill my dear friend?」
Dos had expected this response.
So, he nods.
「…alright. Let’s fight together.」
Standing beside Orion, Dos glances at Una, who nods back.
「Dos, once I get this pig to safety, I’ll be right back!」
With those words, Una dashes out of the mansion at an incredible speed.
The pig she’s carrying is loud, but she’ll endure.
Once she’s out of sight, Dos faces forward again.
（…as I thought.）
This wave of magical aura… this man is undoubtedly the one who fought the Dragon Slayer yesterday.
He couldn’t see it properly yesterday, but today, he can observe the target with his own “eyes”.
He knows neither the man’s objective nor his identity.
But for now…
With a powerful kick-off, Dos, Orion, and Rugios clash head-on.
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