The sound of trembling fills the air as a blonde-haired boy stands before Jibru.
He looks eerily similar to how Yamu looked when he was human.
Or rather, he looks like a miniaturized version of him… Wait, did he just call him “Papa”?
Papa? As in, P-A-P-A?
「Baal! Why the hell are you here?!」
Despite his battered state, his aura is overpoweringly intense.
The blonde boy visibly flinches at the outburst.
「Be-because Papa… Papa…」
Tears form as he stammers out his reply.
Ah, so he must be Yamu’s child.
Jibru did say something about killing the kid if he didn’t fight.
「Did he break the barrier? No, even if he’s Yamu’s son, he shouldn’t possess that level of power…」
Jibru seems taken aback, pausing in her actions.
Her attention isn’t on the Celestial Dragon parent-child pair but on the crack in the barrier.
It appears she’s more disturbed by the barrier’s breach than the boy’s arrival.
Looking where the boy came in, it appears like cracked window glass.
Beyond it, the original dungeon landscape sprawls.
…Oh, what a relieved. Some parts are still intact.
Due to Jibru’s “alchemy”, a substantial portion of the original dungeon have been rearranged and expanded upon.
…The magical corridors and other areas’ connections probably became quite chaotic.
I wonder if Fáfnir is okay?
If there’s a problem in the magical corridor, it could affect his lifespan.
Maybe I’ll check it out with Tsumugi after all this is over.
But how did this kid get in here?
Did he really break through a barrier that didn’t even flinch during the massive fight?
Does he have that kind of power?
It’s hard to believe…
「Phew… Finally got through…」
Lost in thought, Elibel suddenly appears through the barrier’s crack.
She looks like she did when she was alive, thanks to the vessel golem.
Her long silver hair flows as she approaches me.
「Oh, you’re okay, Earth. Sorry, analyzing Jibru’s barrier took longer than I thought.」
Jibru turns her attention to Elibel.
「…Was it you who broke my barrier? Pretty sure I had reinforced it considerably.」
「Oh, did you now? Interesting. A barrier that I analyzed in mere minutes must have been really strong, huh?」
Elibel wears a thin, sly smile.
「I see. I’ll keep that in mind.」
「Oh, please do.」
The two exchange electric glances.
Is this her way of getting back for how easily Jibru had breached before?
She seems oddly satisfied…
She must’ve been concerned about the barrier in the depths being broken.
Her gaze shifts between Jibru and the fallen Celestial Dragon.
「Suddenly teleporting Earth to the Celestial Dragon, and changing the dungeon like Tsumugin, you sure do a lot of outrageous things outside of common sense, huh. …Well, that’s fine. It seems everything’s settled now, and the timing is good. But, why has Jibru grown so much? Her magical power has skyrocketed too.」
Yamu glares at Elibel.
「Elibel… you say…? Are you… the sage? What’s with that weak magical power? It’s totally different from what I heard.」
Elibel flinches slightly at his words.
「Oh? Who told you about me? There shouldn’t be many who know that I’m alive.」
「Does that even matter?」
Yamu dismisses her with an indifferent tone, contrasting with Elibel’s cold voice.
「Tch… I was so excited to meet a sage, but you’ve become weak. And you’re with Jibru. This isn’t worth it.」
His voice carries a hint of resignation.
The blond boy clings to Yamu, looking somewhat cute.
「I’ve lost interest. I’m leaving.」
As he declares this, Yamu’s body is enveloped in light.
「Hold on, Yamu. We’re not done talking.」
Jibru interrupts, gesturing with her hand.
In an instant, the light surrounding Yamu fades away.
「Sorry, but we can’t just let you leave, especially after all the damage you’ve done to the dungeon.」
Yamu shoots them a fierce glare.
「Jibru is one thing, but why is a former sage like you speaking against me?」
Yamu directs a piercing glare at Elibel, his eyes radiating magical energy.
No way, is he planning to attack in this situation?
As this thought crosses my mind, Elibel swiftly raises her hand.
A sound resembling something being crushed resonates within the barrier.
Yamu’s eyes widen.
Shock is evident on his face.
Elibel remains unharmed.
「―――’Sanctuary Interference’. I’ve finally analyzed you. In your current weakened state, it seems I can interfere with you. By the way, did you just call me a former sage? Do you want to die?」
「How dare you!」
「Fufufu, right now, Gijie and I are controlling your magical corridor. If we want, we can turn your body into muddy water. Are you sure about this?」
Elibel says, chuckling.
Yamu glares back, filled with hatred.
It seems to be true.
Baal, who was clinging to Yamu, speaks up.
「E-Elibel! Don’t… don’t be mean to Papa!」
「Oh, it’s okay, Baal dear~. I was just warning him that if he moves any more, he might get hurt~… Guhehehe.」
Elibel’s face morphs into a creepy grin.
「Yes, believe in me. Look, does this face look like it’s lying? Guhehehe.」
「Don’t look at me with such suspicious eyes… Ah, but even with that look, you’re still adorable, aren’t you? Guhehehe, I want to lick you…」
Her cheeks are flushed, her breaths are rapid, and drool drips from her mouth.
What should I do? This is rather unsettling.
Really, it’s unbearably so.
The dignified face that once invoked ‘Sanctuary Interference’ is completely gone.
Just look, even Baal is terrified.
I apologize, one of my subordinates is rather… eccentric.
『Speaking of which, Elibel. Why are you with that… um, Baal? The Celestial Dragon’s kid?』
Seeing that Elibel’s excited hand was reaching towards her lower abdomen, I asked a question to interrupt her.
「I’d like to know that myself.」
Jibru glances over at Elibel too.
At this, Elibel pauses and turns our way.
「Ah, right. Let’s start with that. The truth is―――」
Here’s a quick summary of what Elibel shared:
Soon after I arrived at the middle layer, Jibru set up a massive barrier that even involved the Celestial Dragon.
It seems this barrier was so powerful that it cut off all external contact, including my own communications.
Elibel and Gijie analyzed it, and that’s how they intervened here.
It might sound simple, but the complexity of the task was beyond imagination.
I was shown just a glimpse of the barrier’s design through a memory transmission, and it was so intricate that it felt like my brain might fry just looking at it.
It’s hard to imagine from the sight of her blushing cheeks at the sight of a little kid, but it was probably only possible for Elibel, given her capabilities, to break through this barrier in such a short time.
I have to say, she truly lives up to the title of ‘sage’.
I steal a quick glance at Elibel.
While looking at Baal, she was rubbing her thighs together with a heavy, distressed breath.
If she were left unattended, there’s no telling what she’d do.
…Truly, a “sage” in her own right.
And so, locked in the gaze of a certain pervert―――the boy named Baal (frightened) apparently was found right after I teleport to the middle layer.
Gijie spotted a blond child aimlessly wandering the first area of the middle layer and relayed this to Elibel. Elibel, ecstatic, immediately attempted to kidnap Baal. However, Berg steps in to halt her.
Elja, familiar with Baal, approached to mediate. It seemed Baal also recognized Elja, accepting our side of the story with ease.
As this unfolded, Elibel broke free, attempting to violate Baal, but Berg, unleashing his full giant form, stopped her, sustaining severe injuries in the process.
Thanks to Elja’s efforts, Baal simply apologized, “Sorry for the troubles my father caused,” and vowed to assist us.
Yet again, Elibel tried to abduct Baal, but this time Robun, utilizing his Muspelheim powers, stopped her at the cost of serious injuries.
Right as they were preparing to approach Yamu, signals from me and the dungeon ceased. Given the circumstances, the focus shifted to decoding the barrier.
Even during the analysis, Elibel relentlessly targets Baal’s chastity. Skeleton troops constantly fend her off. They suffer massive losses, but Baal’s chastity remains intact.
Yeah, there’s a lot I want to question about all this, but it seems everyone on that side had their hands full.
…Predominantly of the lewd kind.
Hold on, how does the Celestial Dragon fit into these other incidents?!
I apologize for my associate’s… inappropriate behavior.
After finishing her explanation, Elibel once again tries to make inappropriate advances on Baal. However, Yamu intervenes, overcoming the force of Sanctuary Interference.
Elibel’s face distorts in frustration.
Both Jibru and Yamu, having listened to the entire recount, appear as though a heavy burden has been lifted from their shoulders.
The earlier palpable tension feels like a distant memory now.
Just as I’m pondering this,
Ann, Elja, Tres, Pururu, Tsumugi and Rasetsu rush in through the crack.
The moment they spot me, they rush toward me, concern evident in their eyes.
They briefly hesitate, wary of Yamu and the enlarged Jibru, but their worry for me seems to override that.
『Lord Earth… I’m so relieved… so relieved you’re okay…』
Ann’s voice trembles with emotion.
Ah, she had been abruptly cut off from the vessel golem.
She must’ve been really worried.
I’m sorry for putting you through that.
「Is that you, Elja?」
Yamu looks surprised at Elja, who clings to me.
Can she let go now?
It’s getting uncomfortable.
「…It’s been a while, my esteemed uncle Yamu.」
「Why are you here?」
Elja steps back, placing a hand over her heart.
「I might not have mentioned it to you, esteemed uncle! I’m here because I’m Master Earth’s fiancée! Well, not officially, but now I get to mold the young Master Earth into my ideal man――GUHAA!」
『Elja, enough with the nonsense.』
「Elja dear, could you quiet down a bit?」
Ann, Elibel, and Pururu promptly silence the rambling Elja.
What on earth…?
Yamu observes the scene, not uttering a word.
「Oi, Jibru’s son, is this your dungeon, not that former sage’s?」
『Eh? Ah… Yes.』
I realize my mistake.
I inadvertently confirmed his suspicion.
「So, that Imperial Ant… Ann, and the former sage, they’re your followers?」
『…Yes, that’s right.』
I paused for a bit, then decided to be upfront.
I think there’s no point in lying.
Yamu stares intensely at me.
His gaze doesn’t seem hostile.
Wait, is he… surprised?
His attention shifts, glancing over my companions one by one, settling on Jibru, and finally returning to me.
A smirk tugs at Yamu’s lips.
「Kuha… KuHaHaHaHaHaHa! KuHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa!!」
He bursts into uncontrollable laughter, as if a dam has broken.
What… what just happened?
Everyone’s taken aback by Yamu’s sudden display.
Even with his battered body, with scales falling off and mud sticking to his wounds, Yamu keeps laughing, shaking all over.
「Yamu, what’s so funny?」
Jibru asks, puzzled.
「Huh? Why am I laughing? How can I not laugh at this, Jibru!」
Yamu looks at Jibru as if he finds the situation absolutely hilarious.
「Look! Your brat! He accomplished what you couldn’t in a thousand years! Get it? The pinnacle you stand on! You, who could stand against all the world and still triumph! He did what you never could! He has what you could never obtain! How can I not laugh? If Mýrus saw this, she’d probably cry tears of joy! KuHaHaHaHaHa!」
Jibru’s expression turns sour, as if she’s bitten into something bitter.
In contrast, Yamu seems genuinely delighted as he looks at me, all previous prickliness gone.
It’s as if a weight has been lifted from him.
「Oi, Jibru’s son. You’re Earth, right?」
『Uh? Ah, yeah?』
Yamu tosses something at me.
On reflex, I catch it. It’s a clear blue magic stone about the size of a baseball.
What is this?
Just holding it, I can feel its immense magical power.
「Take it. Use it as you wish.」
Uh, I’m kinda lost. What am I supposed to do with this?
What is this anyway?
「That thing is a magic stone infused with my power. If you pour your magical power into it, you can wield powers of mine like ‘Heaven Claw’ and ‘Heavenly Demon Moonlight’. There’s a limit to the number of times you can use it, though.」
Isn’t that a hell of a performance?
「Let me see that, Earth.」
Elibel takes the magic stone from me.
「…It’s real. Why are you giving him this?」
「There’s no need for thanks, this is my apology for this time. Even as a former sage, you should understand how valuable it is, I’m sure. Let’s consider it settled with this.」
Saying this, Yamu reverts back to his human form.
But he still looks beaten up.
Even in his human form, we remain cautious.
Elibel and the others watch him suspiciously.
Someone we were fighting to the death with suddenly says this? Hard to believe.
「Heh, if you don’t trust me, I’ll even forge an ‘agreement’ or whatever with you. I’m in an extremely good mood for the first time in centuries. Hell, I’d even help strengthen your dungeon.」
Yamu says, genuinely looking happy.
There’s no malice or hostility in his words.
My subordinates seem to sense it too, and they slightly lower their guard.
But Jibru snaps.
「What are you talking about? You wrecked Earth’s precious dungeon. For that———」
「You don’t have any right to say that, Jibru. I’m talking to your son right now.」
Yamu abruptly points at me.
「So let me ask you this. The damage from the flooding I caused, and the damage from that ‘alchemy’ stuff you did to the dungeon… which was worse, huh?」
「Well, to be honest, if we’re talking about scale, what Jibru did was far worse…」
Elibel speaks with a hint of restraint, but at her words, Jibru visibly deflates, looking completely dejected.
「Hold on a second! I did it all for my adorable little Earth… I can use ‘alchemy’ to fix everything right now! That’d be okay, right?」
「No, if you use that again, the surface might face catastrophic consequences. If that happens, an investigation team might be dispatched. It’s best to ask Tsumugin and Gijie to fix it carefully.」
「No…. This can’t be….」
Jibru droops even further.
Her earlier grandeur seems like a distant memory.
「Oi, Jibru’s son, Earth. I’ll send a messenger later. Tell them the detailed contents of the ‘agreement.’ As long as your demands aren’t too unreasonable, I’ll accept them.」
He’s so different from just moments ago.
What on earth has caused this change of heart in Yamu?
Just by seeing me and my subordinates?
『…You really won’t harm the dungeon?』
I ask Yamu again.
「Ah, I’ve completely lost interest. …Actually, it’s the opposite. I’ve grown curious. How your dungeon… No, how you will proceed from now on with those followers of yours… I’d like to see a little bit of that.」
Although he’s looking at me, his words seem directed at someone else entirely.
His voice has a hint of loneliness and nostalgia.
Yamu then turns to Elibel.
「Oh, right. Former sage, there’s a message from the one who told me about you.」
「Former? I want you to know, I still consider myself a sage!」
Ignoring Elibel’s protest, Yamu continues.
「’Don’t snack while reading’… 」
Upon hearing this, Elibel’s eyes widen in shock.
「I see… So that’s what it’s about…」
Her voice is astonishingly flat, devoid of emotion.
Does she know something about it?
「Hah, now that I think about it, maybe that witch anticipated this situation. Otherwise, why give a message to someone she intended to kill?」
Without another word, Yamu takes Baal’s hand.
As he raises it, they’re both enveloped in a brilliant light – the light of teleportation.
Elibel doesn’t attempt to interfere this time.
「We’re leaving now.」
「Uh… s-sorry for the trouble…」
With a faint glow, the Celestial Dragon and his child disappear.
Baal, having tripped over his words at the last moment, had a slightly embarrassed blush on his cheeks.
Should I ask Elibel about that message from earlier?
『Hey, Elibel, about that message———』
「This is bad… With just that footage of Baal now, I won’t be lacking material for masturbating for three days…. Baal is soooo cute… pant… pant…」
…Maybe I’ll ask later.
Can she show a little restraint?
After a while, Jibru seems to recover from her emotional turmoil.
「…I’ll take my leave now.」
As she says this, Jibru shrinks down to her usual ten centimeters size mini earth dragon.
It appears she can adjust her size at will.
That’s quietly impressive.
「Alright, dear Earth. Let’s confirm our agreement. You must become strong enough to be acknowledged by me within a hundred years — specifically, you must ‘awaken as a true Dragon King.’ This is the condition for you to live alone. Okay?」
「Good. Then, I’ll see you later, my dear Earth.」
And with that, Jibru vanishes as abruptly as she appeared.
Now, it’s just me and my subordinates left.
「Well, shall we head back to the depths?」
『Sounds like a plan.』
After that, we returned to the depths.
The dungeon’s repairs seem to be done by Gijie and the drawing mannequins.
After a brief discussion, we all went our separate ways.
『Phew… I’m exhausted.』
I really am.
I just want to sleep now.
Gijie says he’ll contact Una and Dos for me.
It seems there’s been no word from them, so the Continental Congress is probably going well.
I’ll rest a bit and then contact Una and the others.
They probably had a tough time too…
With those thoughts, I practically fall onto my bed.
In just a few seconds, my consciousness sinks into darkness.
Meanwhile, that night―――
Elibel is outside the dungeon alone.
With her long silver hair flowing, she looks like a beauty from her previous life.
This is her vessel form.
The surroundings are dark, and the starry sky is clearly visible.
Pushing aside the dense vegetation, Elibel walks straight into the ruins.
Zeroth Magic Research Institute.
That’s the magic lab she visited before with Earth and Pururu.
Soon, Elibel arrives at her intended room.
In the past, she had borrowed books from a certain person’s collection.
While nibbling on the sweets that Berg had brought, she immersed herself in research and reading in this laboratory.
She often got scolded by the book’s owner.
“Don’t snack while reading,” she’d tell her.
That person even took the trouble to visit this laboratory to warn her.
Elibel would retort, asking if she was mad about the stolen books, but she’d just laugh.
Walking through the dilapidated corridor, she finds an equally dilapidated lab.
Walls have crumbled, the ceiling is open, and the chirps of field mice echo everywhere.
As expected, someone else is already there.
This person is lounging on a broken table, looking at Elibel.
Waving lightly, she says,
「I knew you’d come, Eli.」
Elibel’s expression contorts with annoyance upon being addressed as “Eli.”
Only two people ever called her that.
One was her sister, who’s no longer in this world.
And the other is―――
「So, you’re the one behind all of this…」
「Come on, don’t put it like that. I thought I was doing you a favor by sending Yamu to your dungeon.」
She feigns innocence, shrugging exaggeratedly.
「Sending the leader of the Celestial Dragons? I want to hear your reason, you old hag.」
With hostility evident, Elibel points her staff at the person.
「Really, that’s quite harsh. I’d prefer if you called me by my nickname, ‘Léna’. But please, just ‘Léna’.」
「You’re nothing more than an old hag to me.」
Moonlight shines down from the open ceiling, illuminating the woman.
She’s a plain-looking woman with glasses, nothing particularly distinctive about her.
Dressed in common clothes with a neither long nor short, ordinary hairstyle.
She’s the type you’d lose in a crowd in seconds – utterly unremarkable.
「Well, every woman wants to remain young forever, Eli. …Well, that’s beside the point. First things first,」
She is one of the Three Great Noble Families of the Borhelic Kingdom, the current head.
「―――It’s been two hundred years, hasn’t it, Eli?」
『The Witch of Reynolds』Léna-Lloyd Reynolds.
Under the moonlight, this ordinary woman flashes a forgettable, mundane smile.
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