…How did it come to this?
Above my head, for some reason, Jibru is humming in a cheerful tone.
「You and I are gonna fight… Don’t regret this, Jibru…」
With a murderous aura all around him, the restored form of the Celestial Dragon — more precisely, glaring at Jibru, who’s sitting atop my head — lets out a fierce yell.
His body, long and transparent like a snake’s, has two pairs of wings growing from his back that shine majestically even in the confines of the dungeon.
Every time he yells, the walls tremble, and I can feel a piercing pressure enveloping me.
“Haa,” Jibru sighs.
「Could you not use such vulgar words, Yamu? It’s beneath you. What if it negatively influences my dear Earth?」
「I DON’T CAREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!」
The Celestial Dragon roars.
Oh god… Oh god…
The shaking won’t stop.
I’m scared… So scared…
I quickly glance around.
The floor is in shambles.
Everywhere, there are cracks, walls have holes, the ceiling has collapsed, and the remnants of the golems that were once Ann and the others lie scattered in a pathetic display.
Oh no, my dungeon… my dungeon…
I feel like I’m on the verge of breaking.
The white powder… Where’s the white powder…?
Ah, I remember, I left it back at Elibel’s lab.
I want to go home.
I want to go home right now.
Go home, eat some magic stones, and take a nap.
In front of me, there’s an oppressive magical presence.
Cold sweat pours down my back.
The Celestial Dragon releases his breath along with his scream.
An overwhelming mass of magical power.
Everything before me is engulfed in light.
Ah, this is it.
I’m definitely going to die.
「Dear Earth, look closely. That’s the Celestial Dragon’s breath. The color of a dragon’s breath varies depending on its type. The Celestial Dragon’s is a pale blue. You’ve learned something new today.」
With an air of nonchalance, Jibru is revealing such irrelevant trivia.
All while atop my head.
She’s as calm as if she were observing deer in a tourist spot.
Ah, what is this situation…?
Let me reiterate.
How did it come to this?
The story goes back just a few minutes――――
Several minutes ago, at Elibel’s laboratory in the depths―――
「―――So, Earth, how about you go and have a little life-or-death battle with that Celestial Dragon?」
Jibru blurts out something that reminds me of a certain battle royale instructor.
Huh? I have no idea what she’s talking about.
It’s not just me struggling to keep up with the situation; everyone else looks just as stunned.
Jibru quickly walks over and jumps onto my head.
「Well then, off we go.」
The moment she says that, the ground beneath my feet starts glowing pale blue.
Is this… teleportation magic?!
―――Wait, hang on! What’s happening?
「Hold on a second! What do you think you’re doing?! Stop it now!」
Elibel, finally snapping out of her momentary freeze, shouts in protest.
At the same time, some kind of magic is activated, and the teleportation circle at my feet vanishes.
「What are you doing, sage?」
「That should be my line! I’ve set up barriers in the depths here to prevent people like you… I mean, to prevent any intrusions! So how did you get in?!」
「A barrier…? Oh, you mean that colorful, thin film? I thought it was just some curtain since I passed through it easily.」
The moment Jibru says this, I can see a vein popping on Elibel’s forehead.
「…I see. Noted.」
I swear I can almost see sparks flying between the two. It’s intense.
「In any case, I cannot allow you to take this fool to the Celestial Dragon. He’s a precious resource… I mean, even if he’s a bit of a dunce, he’s still one of us. We can’t put him in danger.」
Wait, did she just nonchalantly call me a resource?
I heard that.
「Danger? I’m with him. Could there be a safer place?」
Jibru says this as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world.
「And, sage, I thought you would have understood by now?」
For a split second, the flames in Elibel’s eye sockets seem to waver.
Reading her perfectly, Jibru continues.
「―――That, as you stand now, you can’t stop Yamu’s invasion.」
The moment Jibru says this, Elibel grinds her teeth as if she’s just bitten into something bitter.
「At present, no matter how you and that… dungeon core over there analyze Yamu’s magical power and take precautions, if the true Dragon King, Yamu, unleashes his power, he can break through it all with sheer force. Just like Harsha Lude and me.」
Jibru speaks calmly.
Elibel remains silent.
Could it be… did she hit the mark?
「So it works out perfectly. You all can deal with the annoying intruders. I can explain the terms of our contract in a real combat scenario with adorable Earth… I mean, alongside you all. See, no one loses.」
「…But why do you need to take Earth?」
Jibru firmly says.
「He has to be there. To show the “true power” of the Dragon King species that the Earth Dragon possesses, he has to be present.」
Because, Jibru continues,
「―――I want him to fight with me.」
The next moment, the light of the teleportation gate envelops me.
In the middle layer second area―――
Battered and exhausted, Ann finally drops to one knee.
But it’s not just Ann.
Tres, Robun, and even Othel are severely injured.
On the other hand, the Celestial Dragon stands there, calm and poised.
With a smirk that seems permanently plastered on his face, he looks down at Ann and the rest, clearly enjoying their suffering.
Even with the limitations of their vessels, the fact that the four of them are so outmatched by him makes Ann grind her teeth in frustration.
「Hmm… I must admit, I had a fair amount of fun. For mere ‘dolls’ and not scarecrows, you all did well」
The sound of footsteps is heard as Yamu approaches Ann.
「Obviously. Do you think I’m a fool?」
Yamu mutters with a mix of annoyance and amusement.
「Enough. You understand the difference in our power now, don’t you? Go back and bring me your master, the sage.」
『The sage… Could that be…?』
「Elibel Löwenherz. This dungeon was created by that sage, wasn’t it? While I couldn’t care less about lower beings like you, a sage who has mastered the four major elements up to the Soul King-class might be a worthy opponent. Hurry up and bring her here.」
Questions surge in Ann’s mind.
Does the Celestial Dragon mistakenly believe that the dungeon was created by Elibel, not Earth?
And where did he get the information that Elibel is still alive?
『…Why are you after Elibel, the sage?』
「Just killing time.」
「The real threat, that fool Ouro, will be resurrected soon. Until then, I need something to pass the time. Or more accurately, to warm up. Anyway, it’s none of your business, inferior beings.」
Water begins to form around Yamu, signaling his intention to deliver the final blow.
In response, Ann silently readies her sword.
Her role is to “fight,” not necessarily to “win.”
To send their battle data to Gijie and Elibel and analyze the Celestial Dragon’s power.
She has more than fulfilled that role.
Even in vessel golem form, she can feel pain.
The same pain she’d feel from a real wound is now attacking her body.
But surrendering isn’t an option.
This is sheer determination.
She wants to land at least one more blow on this Celestial Dragon
Her eyes convey that resolve.
Yamu stops his hand, sensing the unyielding spirit in her gaze.
「You’ve got quite the spirit for a lower being.」
He hasn’t seen someone with such determination in a long time.
Even among his followers, few have that kind of spirit.
His interest is piqued.
「Oi, black ant. What’s your name?」
『…It’s Ann. My name is Ann, the only name given to me by my master.』
「I see. Well, Ann, I admire your loyalty. Next time, come in your real body. We’ll have a real battle then.」
To the Celestial Dragon Yamu, this was the highest compliment.
He was here to fight the sage, but encountering Ann was an unexpected gain.
A sword made of water forms in his hand.
As Yamu swings his sword down,
―――Clang! It’s deflected.
「How tasteless. Who is it that dares to interrupt?」
Annoyed, Yamu shifts his gaze to the source of the disturbance.
His good mood ruined.
Who dares interfere?
His eyes land on the faint light of a teleportation gate.
He stares at the figure emerging from it—his expression hardens.
Not just Yamu, even Ann is shocked.
Emerging from the gate are two Earth Dragons:
The Divine Catastrophe Dragon King, Jibru, and the dungeon master, Earth.
To be precise, Earth has a teacup-sized Jibru riding on his forehead.
It’s a rather surreal sight.
「It’s been a while, Yamu.」
The sound of voices and the sensation of magic reach out.
And then, there’s that figure.
Yamu’s eyes widen in shock.
「You… Could it be, Jibru!? Why the hell are you here!? And there’s another Earth Dragon present…!? What’s going on!?」
Yamu’s distress is evident.
But, ignoring it, Jibru simply laughs.
「Yamu, fight me.」
「Just fight me.」
Her tone is uncompromising.
There’s no explanation given.
The audacity of the situation makes even Yamu seem endearing.
Ann and Tres gaze in stunned silence at the scene before them. No one seems to understand what’s happening.
Everyone’s expression is blank.
Regaining some composure, Yamu speaks.
「…I see no reason to fight you. Why are you even here? Did the Sage summon you too? Or… is that Earth Dragon beneath you related? Wait, is it your child?」
Yamu says with a look of disbelief.
In response, Jibru tilts his head.
「Do we need a reason to fight? Sounds tedious.」
「Hey, answer me.」
Jibru ignores Yamu’s questions.
Veins bulge in frustration on Yamu’s forehead.
「Ah, I got it. How about this?」
Jibru speaks with an expression suggesting she’s come up with a brilliant idea.
「If you won’t fight me, Yamu, I’ll kill your son. How about that?」
The voices of Earth, Celestial Dragon, and Ann harmonize in shared disbelief.
What is she sayinh?
「You had a child recently, right? Baal was his name, if I remember correctly? Such a cute boy. Oh, I sense a presence similar to yours on the surface. Did you bring him along?」
Yamu doesn’t respond.
Undeterred, Jibru continues.
「At this distance, I can get to Baal faster than you. He hasn’t inherited your powers yet. It’d be easier to kill him than break a magic stone. So, what will it be? If you don’t fight me, your son dies.」
Yamu emits a killing aura.
The dungeon walls crack from the intensity.
Earth is shaken.
Ann is at a loss for words.
Jibru just lets it slide with an indifferent look.
「So, what will you do? Fight me if you don’t want your son killed.」
「Fine… Let’s do it. You’ll regret this, Jibru…」
With that declaration, Yamu undergoes a transformation.
Gurgling and bubbling noises emanate from him.
Water spills from his body, forming a long, snake-like physique. From there, icy, beautiful wings, two pairs of them, emerge.
It’s Yamu’s true form.
He morphs into the majestic appearance of the Celestial Dragon.
Watching the scene unfold before me, I tremble uncontrollably.
As the Celestial Dragon returns to its true form, Ann and the others are forcibly disconnected from their spirits by Elibel and Gijie’s remote manipulation. The vessel golem reverts to a mere puppet.
Once returned to its drawing mannequin form, the golem is bathed in the Celestial Dragon’s magical power and shatters in an instant.
But that’s not all.
The very dungeon itself quakes under the might of the Celestial Dragon’s power.
Hey, hey, at this rate, the entire dungeon won’t last…
Just as that thought crosses my mind, Gijie’s announcement rings out.
『―――Activating the barrier due to the sudden increase of the Celestial Dragon’s magic―――』
「―――There’s no need.」
Jibru interrupts sharply.
「A barrier as weak as the one from a dungeon core can’t counteract the power of the dragon king species. I’ll cast the barrier.」
As she speaks, a gentle light emits from Jibru’s body, enveloping the dungeon.
Did she just set up a barrier?
Wait, can earth dragons even create barriers?
「Yes, and while I’m at it, I might as well expand the space. It’s way too cramped right now.」
Jibru dismounts from me.
『Hold on a second, Jibru. What are you…?』
Before I can even question her further, Jibru’s magic activates.
Intricate magic circles emerge at her feet, and simultaneously, the dungeon crumbles with a thunderous noise.
No, it’s being reshaped.
The room we’re in seems to expand exponentially.
Wait, what the…?!
MY DUNGEON IS CHANGING!
「Well, I suppose this should do.」
…What just happened?
In a matter of seconds, what used to be a 50-meter radius floor has transformed into a space far larger than Tokyo Dome.
How does this affect the surrounding environment? And the magic circuits?
I’m too terrified to even ask.
I’ve been trying to signal Elibel and Gijie since a while back, but there’s no response.
It seems Jibru’s barrier has blocked all communication.
「Well, this should suffice. It looks like everything on the other end is ready too.」
With that, Jibru climbs back onto my head.
Before me stands the Celestial Dragon, having returned to its majestic dragon form, radiating an almost visible aura of murderous intent.
「Watch closely, dear Earth, witness the battle that’s about to unfold. And realize the true power you possess.」
All I want is to go home…
And so, the story returns to its opening scene.
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