In the deep layers of the dungeon―――
I’m visiting a training ground located in these deep layers.
As I pass through the teleportation gate to enter the training ground, I can already see Ann, Tres, and Pururu engaged in a mock battle.
There’s Rasetsu leaning against a wall, and although there seem to be others present, they’re so focused that they don’t even notice my arrival.
Tres is wielding a degraded version of the Leviathan―a weapon I recently remade. Pururu, on the other hand, is puffing up her body, preparing for a confrontation.
Ann stands silent and poised, her sword drawn.
A brief moment of stillness.
Tres and Pururu spring into action.
Around Tres, multiple orbs of light, each about a meter in diameter, start to form… wait, are they getting BIGGER?!
Before I can even comprehend what I’m seeing, thick flames shoot out from these orbs.
Tres shouts the name of her technique.
Ah, I see. It’s a new skill.
The spear-like flames have an intense heat and energy… sixteen of them, each packed with an immense amount of magical power.
Combined, their strength might rival that of a King-class magic, perhaps?
These flames are now headed straight for Ann.
I wonder how she’ll react. But then…
Incredibly, Ann dives straight into the flames without hesitation, slicing through every single one with her magic sword, Ridill.
Right! I recall now. Ridil has the ability to nullify magic, much like Ragin’s armor.
It’s still amazing that Ann would charge into that blazing vortex so fearlessly.
Impressive courage, that.
Well, Tres’s long-range attacks don’t reach their full potential unless there’s some distance between her and the target.
So, the strategy must be to close that gap and strike before Tres’s technique reaches its peak.
A smart move, even if I wouldn’t dare try it myself.
Through the fiery chaos, Ann stands there with her cloak billowing, looking majestic.
Damn, I must admit, she looks pretty cool.
Just as the flames get sliced apart, Pururu releases her tentacles, aiming to ensnare Ann.
Judging by how they absorb the flames, these tentacles seem designed to suck in magical power.
If Pururu can entangle Ann quickly, she’d drain Ann’s magic power, rendering her powerless.
That would mean Ann’s defeat.
『’Triple Acid Spear!’』
Ann spits out three spears made of acid, piercing through a section of the tentacles. Swiftly, she slashes with her sword at the weakened spot, easily breaking free.
『You’re underestimating me, Pururu. Checkmate. Piercing Strike!』
Ah, Pururu made a mistake there.
Knowing Ann could use acid, Pururu should’ve used her usual food-absorbing tentacles which can even absorb acid.
And her tentacles were too slow. She should have moved them simultaneously with Tres’s magic.
Had she done that, she would’ve limited Ann’s options.
Ann lands her Piercing Strike on the unprepared Pururu.
With a loud sounding strike, Pururu gets blown away.
Looks like she couldn’t absorb that impact in time.
She’s probably not dead, but that attack would’ve put her out of action for a while. Basically, she’s out of the game.
Wow, Ann’s dominating against both Tres and Pururu.
『You’re full of openings too, Tres!』
Distracted by Pururu’s defeat, Tres lets her guard down, allowing Ann to close in and deliver a precise chop to her head.
Stunned, Tres’s eyes roll back, and she falls unconscious.
Well, Tres is purely a long-range fighter.
Once you get close, it’s game over for her.
She should’ve had some countermeasures for close combat.
Even if not as powerful as Robun’s “Muspelheim”, some kind of protective magic would’ve been beneficial.
If it were me, once someone got close, I’d use alchemy to… Wait a minute.
What am I thinking?
Why am I simulating a fight with Ann?
That’s not like me. It’s weird.
…Is it really weird, though?
…Yeah, it’s weird.
I’d never actually want to fight her.
I shake my head and refocus on the training ground.
Suddenly, I spot a shadow sneaking up behind Ann.
「There’s an openinggggg!」
It’s the Holy Dragon, Elja.
Swinging an umbrella she’s holding in her humanoid form, she’s aiming straight for Ann’s head.
What a cheap shot. Just as expected from a so-called “holy” dragon.
「Ahahaha! Today! Right here! I’ll defeat you and erase the trauma of the past!」
She’s still holding a grudge for that time in the middle floors when Ann kicked her butt, isn’t she?
「And then… after that, I’ll confess to Master Earth and finally become his — wait… what?」
Ann effortlessly blocks the umbrella with her sword, using just one hand.
And as for that confession? I’ll definitely decline.
『…Hello, Elja. I’ve been aware of you lurking behind me for a while now. You sure chose a clumsy time to make your entrance, didn’t you?』
Ann greets her with a radiant smile.
In stark contrast, Elja goes pale.
“You knew!?” Her face seems to scream.
Well, yeah. She didn’t hide her presence or magical power at all.
It’s no surprise Ann noticed.
Even I realized the moment I stepped into the training grounds, seeing Elja sneakily skulking behind Ann.
There’s no way Ann wouldn’t notice, especially when Elja shouted during her attack.
Is she an idiot or something?
The two share a silent stare.
「――――’Let the light bless my body’――――」
Before Elja can complete her chant, Ann quickly chops her on the head.
Elja faints, a blissful expression on her face.
Guess she’s pretty powerless in her humanoid form.
I notice a bracelet on Elja’s wrist, one that limits her magical power.
It keeps her from transforming into her original Holy Dragon form.
Why she wears it? Because the close aides of Elja’s father, Harshalud, requested it.
Apparently, Elja relied solely on her innate magic and physical prowess, neglecting any real combat training or studies.
The main reason probably was her father’s pampering.
So now, her magic usage, the way she conceals her presence, her fighting style, everything is sloppy.
Gijie ensnaring her with barriers and debilitating spells in the middle floor dungeon proves it.
The other dragons around her wanted to help her, and with her moving here, they approached Elibel.
The hard part was keeping it a secret from Harshalud.
But looking at the results now?
She hasn’t improved much.
Elja, relying so much on her inherent dragon abilities and immense magical power without proper training, sounds all too familiar.
Nah, must be my imagination.
Yeah, it must be.
Just for reference, when she transforms into her Holy Dragon form, she’s a top-tier Disaster-class being, on par or even stronger than Fafnir.
While lost in these thoughts, another person steps forward.
「Ms Ann, let me be your opponent next… I mean, this humble one, if you please.」
『Rasetsu, is it?… Very well, come at me from wherever you like.』
Rasetsu draws his blade swiftly, launching at Ann.
The wind whistles as he closes the gap.
The moment they clash, an intense shockwave erupts, starting a fierce close combat.
By the way, the force sends Elja, who was lying close by, crashing into a wall.
Skeletons nearby rush to help.
Everyone’s having a hard time.
Both of them are so focused; it’s hard to call out to them.
I understand that everyone is doing their best, so maybe that’s enough.
Alright, it’d be rude to disturb them, so I should head back before they notice.
I place some magic stones, snacks really, and a note saying “Good work” (written on a shed skin) near the entrance and decide to leave.
Since I’m here, maybe I’ll visit the middle floors.
Gijie mentioned that an idea I proposed is almost implemented. It’d be interesting to check it out.
I move through the teleportation gate and head to the middle floor dungeon.
Though, even if I hid my presence, it’s a bit sad no one noticed me.
―――Later, Ann is the first to find the note Earth left behind. She quickly hides it, hugging it to her chest and rolling around her room in sheer delight. But that’s a story for another time.
Then, the next generation of Queen witness this scene, looking at Ann with amused eyes. Ann desperately tries to explain herself. But that, too, is a story for another time.
In the third floor of the surface dungeon―――
Standing in the corridor of the dungeon, illuminated by the light magic stone, is a lone man.
He’s a blond man, seemingly in his late twenties.
With a sharp face and an even sharper gaze, as if he’s looking down on everything, he’s dressed casually. He doesn’t wear much armor or weapons.
He hardly looks like someone preparing to challenge a dungeon.
His name is Yamu.
He’s the leader of the Celestial Dragons.
「From what I’ve heard, this area is supposed to have about twenty floors」
Yamu recalls the information about the dungeon he got from Léna-Lloyd.
According to her, this dungeon has twenty floors from the entrance, and at the bottom, there’s a teleportation gate that leads to the main dungeon.
She had said that this main dungeon is probably the real defense line.
Which means, he first needs to get to that main dungeon.
「Hmm… Let’s see what we got here first―――」
The quickest way would be to destroy the dungeon, but that’d be too straightforward, too dull.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in the dungeon created by the sage.
So, what is the best way to approach this?
A sinister smile creeps onto Yamu’s face.
His signature method of conquering dungeons.
The dungeon strategy he’s most confident in.
Suddenly, something, accompanied by magical power, starts to ooze out of him.
It rapidly begins to corrode the dungeon.
In the tenth floor of the surface dungeon―――
The dungeon is bustling with adventurers today.
They’re battling the golems set up around and collecting magic stones and weapons from various treasure chests as they challenge the dungeon.
At first glance, it might seem like Earth are in the negative. But the magic stones and weapons available on the surface aren’t particularly important to him, so it’s no significant loss.
In fact, with the diverse adventurers visiting daily, the golems and Gijie accumulate experience points. The bodies of the fallen can be turned into undead, strengthening the dungeon’s forces or transformed into meatballs to feed the monsters. Overall, the balance sheet looks positive.
A true XP goldmine.
Moreover, Gijie records the magical power information of every adventurer. So if the same adventurer comes back, they adjust the difficulty level to ensure they won’t progress too far.
Whenever they do, they never forget to add some colors to the weapons and magic stones in the treasure chests.
It’s a cunning system, designed to stimulate the adventurers, much like a slot machine.
「Alright, let’s call it a day.」
「Agree, the magic stone in the chest was top-tier. We can exchange it for good money.」
「Let’s quickly exchange it for gold at the entrance, man. It’s been a while since I’ve had woman in my arms.」
「Ha! Let’s go!」
Laughing and bragging about their earnings, the adventurers head up the staircase.
But today is different from usual.
「Huh? What’s that sound?」
「Yeah, sounds like… flowing water?」
「Are you sure? We’re in a dungeon—Wait, wha-!?」
「What the hell is that?!」
The adventurers halt in their tracks.
All of them wear an expression of sheer disbelief.
They can’t fathom what’s rapidly approaching.
It’s――――a massive flood of water.
It looks like a huge muddy torrent, and it’s rushing at them at terrifying speed.
「What is thiiiiiiiis?!」「H-Help MEE―――」「NOOOOOOO!!」「This can’t be happening!!」「UWAAARGGHHH!!」
With no escape in the confines of the dungeon, they had no way to resist.
The adventurers are quickly engulfed by the flood.
The invasion of the dungeon by the Celestial Dragon has begun.
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