Deep within the dungeon―――
Ann leans against the dungeon wall, sighing.
『…The power is certainly strong, but the backlash is just as intense…』
She’s hit by an immense sense of fatigue, a feeling of powerlessness, and a severe pain that consumes her entire body.
The backlash comes from using the Magic Sword Ridill and Ragin’s armor.
It was her first real battle, and she had pushed her powers beyond their limits.
The recoil is so fierce she can’t even move a finger.
She had managed to suppress it with her strong will until she got back to the dungeon, but—frankly, showing weakness to that female adventurer irritates her—once she returned home, the tension released, and all the built-up strain hit her at once.
The pain was so overwhelming that she nearly passed out.
Instantly, a nearby antling offers her a magic stone.
The antlings crowd around, rustling as they hand her the stone, urging her to eat—it’s rather endearing.
Ann thanks them and pops the magic stone into her mouth.
Magical power courses through her body.
It’s a ultra-high purity magic stone stone mined by Earth from the deepest layers.
The physical exhaustion doesn’t fade, but the pain lessens slightly, and she feels a bit more mobile.
But this also means that even eating such a powerful magic stone, the backlash remains.
The greater the power, the more careful she must be with its use, or the backlash could put her at a disadvantage.
Ragin was right, this power is indeed a wild horse.
Ann recalls the recent battle.
The Death Dragon Ouronus, the Dream Mist Joker, the aberrations—it was a parade of irregulars.
But what occupied her mind more was something else.
『…What was ‘that voice’?』
She mutters to herself.
The divine disaster monster—the “Dream Mist” Joker.
During the battle, Ann was trapped in a nightmare and found herself in a dire situation.
It was then that a mysterious voice saved her.
A voice similar to hers—but not hers.
A voice that felt incredibly familiar yet belonged to someone she couldn’t remember.
Who could that voice belong to?
After hearing that voice, power overflowed within her, and she escaped the nightmare.
―――Please, stop them. Save those I couldn’t… those still lost and wandering…
The voice echoes in her mind.
She stares at her own hand.
She doesn’t know who it belongs to.
『Whoever you are, I thank you. You saved me…』
Ann expresses her gratitude to the unknown savior in her heart.
She’ll have Elibel check her for any abnormalities later.
With her thoughts returning, Ann suddenly remembers.
『…By the way, where is Elja? She should have teleported with us…』
She looks around, but there’s no sign of her.
The destination of the teleportation gate can be changed at will. Did Elja teleport to another part of the dungeon?
In the current situation, her healing magic is extremely important.
Fortunately, she’s less injured than Ann or anyone else.
There are some among the golems and the monsters of the Yuguru Great Forest, including the Four Chiefs, who are in dire straits.
She needs Elja to start healing them as soon as possible…
『———Elja, where are you? Elja?』
She tries to reach out with thought transmission, but there’s no response.
What could have happened?
A terrible premonition crosses Ann’s mind.
She quickly grabs the Magic Sword Ridill from the wall and stands up.
The antlings’ worried voices ring out.
They’re probably saying something like, “Queen, you’re pushing yourself too hard!” or “You shouldn’t move in that condition!”
『Don’t worry, the magic stone you gave me has helped me enough to move.』
Of course, she’s bluffing.
Her body still hurts, but she starts to move immediately.
The surrounding antlings, looking concerned, follow Ann.
At that moment, one of the antlings tilts its head.
For a split second, when Ann grabs the magic sword, it sees something like black mist around her hand.
What could it be?
It rubs its eyes, and when it looks again, the black something is gone.
Was it a trick of the eyes?
With its head cocked to one side, the antling follows behind Ann.
Meanwhile, somewhere else―――
Rasetsu is in high spirits, unusually noisy with his armor clashing and clanking as he walks.
A sure sign he’s in a good mood.
Indeed, Rasetsu is feeling fantastic, all thanks to the bizarre monsters he fought earlier.
Those creatures were satisfying to cut down———no, they were worthy adversaries.
No matter how much I slashed, they regenerated, becoming tougher and stronger.
For Rasetsu, who craves strong enemies, they were the perfect opponents.
I couldn’t stop smiling, it was so so so much fun.
Slashing, killing, bathing in blood, and then doing it all over again.
Oh, what delightful times those were.
If he had to nitpick, the only disappointment was that the enemies’ evolution was “too slow.”
Rasetsu’s sword and armor, made from the fully armored Earth’s materials, increase in combat ability the more magical power is infused.
He noticed early on that the aberrations were developing resistances and evolving to match his strength.
So, he adapted, gradually altering the “quality of his magical power” and his “soul.”
But it seems the aberrations couldn’t keep up.
Their evolution visibly slowed down after a point.
What a pity.
I thought I was going to be able to fully demonstrate the power given to me by my great father.
In the end, after being cut down time and again, those monsters vanished.
But it was a fulfilling and enjoyable time.
Come to think of it, there were also that adventurer I met in Fafnir and an old demon at the scene.
Honestly, they weren’t worthy of my attention.
They might have been strong enough to entertain me before, but now they were far from satisfying.
Feeling a bit unfulfilled, he decides to practice his swordplay to soothe his boredom.
He swings his great sword casually, and the mere act splits the ground dozens of meters away.
『―――Warning. Follower-caused dungeon destruction confirmed. Please refrain from such actions immediately, it is very serious.』
Gijie sends an immediate warning notification.
Too bad, let’s go to the training ground.
Even after such intense battles, he is still full of vigor.
「…I wish to fight stronger opponents… ah, indeed.」
―――Rasetsu is yet to realize.
That he is growing at an impossible rate.
He’s unaware that he has awakened to a very rare unique technique that changes his soul and magical power, and he’s mastering it unconsciously.
That his power has already become one of the most formidable across the entire dungeon—or rather, the whole continent.
After the battle with the aberrations, his power has grown even more.
With tremendous growth, the armored warrior continues his training.
And to prepare for the fight against yet-unmet formidable opponents.
「Hmm-hmm-hmm~ I mean, indeed.」
However, it seems mastering the consistency of his catchphrase will still take some time.
Shifting scenes to the imperial castle’s courtyard above ground―――
Una and Dos are at a loss.
The cause is the blind sister standing before them.
「So, as I have repeatedly requested, please let me see him once more—Lord Robun!」
Sister Orion Karla clasps her hands before her ample bosom, imploring with fervor. She’s been on this track for a while now.
In the recent battle against the aberrations, Una and Robun’s relationship had been exposed.
Luckily, no one else had caught on, and by getting rid of her, they could conceal the truth. But the risk was too high to act on that.
Meanwhile, Robun, along with Berg, had returned to the dungeon.
They had planned to sort everything out while Orion was unconscious, but that backfired.
「I understand you both have your circumstances… I get that you don’t fully trust me and that you’re confused by my sudden request. But even so―――I need to see him.」
Initially, Una and Dos planned to feign ignorance, but her statement, “You two aren’t human, are you?” changed everything.
It turns out, Orion had long realized they were not humans but golem homunculi.
When Dos asked why she hadn’t acted on her knowledge, her answer was simple:
―――Because I thought I could trust you.
Without hesitation, Orion said this, and even Dos was taken aback.
Orion is blind.
But because of that, she “sees” more than others.
Without sight, voices, scents, presences, and touches tell her about people.
And she had decided Una and Dos were trustworthy.
For her, the difference between humans, demons, and monsters was trivial.
「I owe my life to him twice over, and yet I haven’t had the chance to thank him. Please, can’t you let me meet him?」
Orion bows her head in a plea.
What to do?
Dos is conflicted, pondering.
「…alright, I’ll let you meet Robun.」
Orion’s face lights up.
『Dos… are you sure?』
Una’s thought transmission comes immediately.
Is it really okay to talk about dungeon matters with an outsider?
Could it harm Earth?
『…it’s fine, I think. Besides, it might be more beneficial to bring her into our fold than to keep secrets.』
Orion is a Sister of the Holy God Church, and not just any sister.
She’s one of the few titled “Saint.”
Her social influence is immeasurable.
Additionally, her church and the Holy Kingdom have deep ties with the “Holy Dragon”.
The very same sweet-toothed, dungeon-dwelling Holy Dragon they know all too well.
Dos figures leveraging this situation could benefit the dungeon and, by extension, their father, Earth.
It’s better to recruit and utilize than to kill.
The meeting with Robun would be outside the dungeon, surrounded by layers of defense, of course.
And yet, Dos wonders,
「Thank you so much, Dos. I’ll never forget this kindness.」
Orion repeats her thanks, gripping his hand.
Dos stares at her face.
It’s a strange feeling.
Dos has always acted purely for the dungeon’s benefit, weighing pros and cons.
Indeed, the promise to let her meet Robun was made because it seemed more advantageous.
But why then?
There’s this faint feeling that he doesn’t want to see Orion sad. Oddly, seeing her smile when he agreed to let her meet Robun was a relief.
What does this mean?
Has he developed feelings?
He, a golem homunculus, for a mere human woman who’s not even a part of the dungeon?
Ridiculous. That’s impossible.
Dos immediately dismisses the thought.
「…but not now, it’s impossible at the moment. Another time.」
「Yes, of course!」
Puzzled by the inexplicable change stirring within him, Dos, along with Una and Orion, starts moving toward the refuge area where the other representatives have gathered.
It’s a subtle shift.
But what this change will bring to him, no one yet knows.
Meanwhile, Tres and Pururu have returned to their private room deep within the dungeon.
「Phew, I’m beat, Pururu」
Lying on the wooden bed that Earth had made, Tres cuddles Pururu like a body pillow.
It’s a sight that oozes comfort.
「Looks like everyone else has made it back too. The battle is finally over, huh?」
「Hm? Are you asking if it was okay not to deal with those pigs and adventurers? Well, I don’t think it matters. We weren’t ordered to kill them, and that pig seemed kinda nice anyway.」
Although they ended up saving those they fought, Tres is indifferent about it.
After all, that pig seemed to be connected to Una and Dos’s surface world, and the adventurers didn’t seem to matter much in the grand scheme of things. And just to be clear, that pig is a human.
For Tres, the safe return of her family is what matters most.
When Gijie reported that Gonzo, the other golems, and the forest monsters had all returned safely, she was genuinely relieved.
「But really, Pururu, you’re amazing. You ‘ate’ that powerful monster.」
In the recent battle with the aberrations, Pururu astonishingly devoured them all.
Pururu’s unique slime ability “Bizarre Eater” is said to surpass even the Earth Dragon’s “Gluttony” when it comes to digestive power.
In a way, Pururu could be considered the only one who “properly killed” the aberrations on the battlefield.
「Huh? You said it tasted familiar? Well, that’s interesting. Are you full now?」
「Ehehe, that’s great then.」
Pururu lets out a tiny belch.
Watching the sated Pururu, Tres’s smile deepens with satisfaction.
With the threat to the dungeon gone, she can relax.
She can play with Earth and the golems again.
「Munch munch… Oh, by the way, I wonder what Elja was doing in such a place?」
As Tres nibbles on some sweets, she reminisces about earlier events.
After the battle, when they returned to the dungeon, they immediately headed to Earth’s place.
But on the way, they bumped into Elja.
At that moment,
『Both of you, Master Earth is tired, and it would be best to let him be. Here, take these sweets and go back to your room, okay?』
Indeed, Tres thought, maybe it’s best to leave father alone since he’s tired, and so she agreed, and returned to her room with Pururu.
Getting sweets made me happy. They’re delicious. Munch munch.
「Speaking of which, Elja was muttering something about ‘virginity’ and ‘making baby,’ what was that about?」
Lying back and snacking on the sweets she got, Tres lazes about.
Despite the intensity of the recent battle, the two of them seem utterly carefree.
Their way of life remains unchanged.
Before and after, all they wish for is to lead a leisurely life in the dungeon, with their family.
At the same time, Elja is walking down a dungeon corridor.
She skips along, light on her feet.
Because this is the moment she’s been eagerly awaiting—a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
「Fufu… Ufufu. How long I have waited for this moment…!」
The place I’m aiming for is Earth’s bedroom.
The fierce battle has ended, and everyone is utterly exhausted.
Well, except for Tres and Pururu, who were exceptionally energetic and running around, but I managed to distance them.
No one will get in the way now.
Heading for Earth’s bedroom, Elja licks her lips with anticipation.
It’s the kind of lick a predator gives before a feast.
Yes———tonight, Elja intends to savor Earth’s virginity!
You might think she’s out of her mind to consider such a thing right after a fierce battle has left everyone exhausted.
After all, we’re engaged—or at least, in Elja’s mind they are—and it’s absurd we haven’t even kissed, let alone mated.
A bit more of a delicious situation—ahem, I mean a reward… or rather, isn’t it fine to cultivate love?
And just as I was thinking that, this opportunity arises.
There’s no way I can let this chance slip by.
Just as she’s reveling in this perfect chance, she thanks the Death Dragon that set up this splendid situation.
「Oh, how I long to be held by Master Earth…」
Though Earth may be a young dragon, he’s surely reached maturity by now.
That means he’s capable of siring children.
Which in turn means that it wouldn’t be wrong for her to… well, nurture love with him.
There’s a whole lot wrong with that line of thought, and many might say she should consider Earth’s feelings, or question the timing right after battle. But such human morals don’t apply to the proud Dragon King.
They act on their own values.
Elja checks her appearance.
Scales polished, fangs and claws sharpened, and mane flowing beautifully—she doesn’t look like she’s been in a fight at all.
She had little magical power left but replenished it by eating a high-purity magic stone she had stashed away.
Now she’s ready, love brimming from her lower half.
I considered relieving myself of this excitement, but that would be a waste.
This fervor should be quelled by a vigorous male spear—figuratively speaking.
Elja feels light as air.
I’m not afraid of anything anymore.
Now is the time to—ahem—nurture love!!
Let’s fully gear up for the night, let’s call it “Dragon Fang”, or rather, “Dragon F*ck!”
Her face is that of a dragoness in heat—a virgin.
Human clothes are cumbersome.
As she walks, she strips off all her clothes, now stark naked.
But she doesn’t shift into her dragon form—not yet.
Modesty demands that she wait to reveal her true self in the presence of her beloved.
She reaches Earth’s bedroom.
「My beloved Earth!! Let’s nurture our love! Let’s make love!」
She flings open the door with a bang.
But no one is there.
The room is empty.
「What does this mean? I thought for sure Master Earth would be resting here after using so much magic?」
Elja stands there, naked, a question mark almost visible above her head as her ample bosom quivers.
『———If you’re looking for Lord Earth, he’s not here. He went to Elibel’s laboratory a while ago.』
What a shock.
I had been certain he would be resting after returning.
「Goodness, Master Earth should rest a bit.」
Who is she to say that?
『Indeed. But he probably needs thorough medical examinations after expending so much magic. And he had taken that white powder too.』
「That was the case, huh… Well, I suppose it can’t be helped. I’ll wait for another chance… Wait, what?」
Caught mid-sentence, Elja suddenly realizes something.
Wait, who has she been talking to all this while?
『How delightful to find out what ‘opportunity’ you’ve been waiting for.』
Her limbs shake, and cold sweat pours down like a waterfall.
This is bad, really bad.
She shouldn’t turn around.
『―――I had a strange feeling and came rushing over. It seems I was right to do so.』
A hand lands on her shoulder—Elja’s death sentence.
She turns to face the source as though she’s a rusted machine creaking to life.
「Aha-ha… ha… what a coincidence to meet you here, Lady Ann.」
Ann stands there with a beaming smile.
『Yes, such a coincidence, Elja.』
Their smiles match.
A sudden dash!
She’s outmaneuvered and put in a joint lock!
She can’t escape!
She won’t let her go!
『Now then… Elja, there’s a lot I want to say, but first, let’s confirm something. What business did you have at Lord Earth’s bedroom in such a state? Especially at a time when the battle has just ended and everyone is resting』
Ann’s question implies she already knows the answer.
The judge asks the accused to confess their sins.
The convicted can only darken their expression.
「Uh, well… you see…」
『Apparently, my earlier lecture wasn’t enough. Shall we have a thorough talk on the middle floors―――?』
The sentence is passed.
It’s a death sentence.
Elja’s screams echo through the dungeon depths.
She scratches at the ground in a desperate attempt to resist, but Ann is unyielding.
Dragged along, they disappear into the light of the teleportation gate.
What follows is an intense reprimand.
Despite having been through such a battle, this is the situation they find themselves in.
Yet, the dungeon seems to return to its usual daily life.
It’s a heartwarming scene, or at least it feels like it could be.
『―――What is this? A strange chill…』
Back in the dungeon, I quickly moved to Elibel’s laboratory for a physical check-up.
I had a bad feeling, a chill, and thought it best to go straight to the lab after teleporting. Was it the right decision?
Well, it doesn’t matter now.
I’ve had to replenish the magical power of the Earth Dragon golem and help Elibel and the Dungeon Core, Gijie, so I’ve used up a lot of magic. I’m also worried about the aftereffects of the powder, so I’m getting checked to see what impact it’s had on my body.
And the results?
『—looks like there’s no problem.』
Through Gijie, I’ve had a full analysis, and the drug seems to be stabilizing, with my body slowly returning to its normal state.
It’s a good thing it’s not like before when I’d suddenly pass out.
By the way, it’s just me, Elibel, and Gijie the Dungeon Core, in the room.
Berg is being treated in the next room.
It seems the damage from being run over by me was worse than the injuries from the enemy.
I’ll treat you to some delicious magic stones when you’re better.
「It seems you’re developing quite a ‘resistance’ to the white powder. Your mental values are stable, and your magic power is recovering rapidly. You’re truly a monster.」
Elibel sits in her chair, analyzing the situation.
She’s still in her human form, which feels strange after getting used to her skeletal appearance.
And she’s still in her ‘naked robe,’ with glimpses of thigh and cleavage peeking out.
I wish she would change back already; interacting with her like this is somewhat awkward.
I guess appearances do matter, after all.
「…What’s with you? Staring at me like that. Are you in heat or something?」
Elibel catches my gaze and looks at me with suspicion.
『Ah, no… just wondering how long you’ll stay human. And no, I’m not in heat!』
I instantly regret saying it, bracing for her anger.
But surprisingly, Elibel doesn’t scold me.
Instead, she sighs and puts a hand to her forehead, not the reaction I was expecting.
「Ah… about that…」
She begins, scratching her now-silvery hair.
「…I can’t change back.」
I can’t quite grasp what she’s saying at first.
「I can’t change back. For a while, I’ll have to live like this, so bear with me.」
『HA?! What the heck does that mean?』
A non-skeletal Elibel is as odd as a chicken that barks or a frog that meows.
「…You’re thinking something incredibly rude right now, aren’t you?」
But I decide to feign ignorance.
『Not thinking anything. But why can’t you change back?』
When I press her for answers, Elibel sighs deeply before speaking.
「It’s the backlash from the ‘Sanctuary Breach.’ I used that spell, and now I can’t use magic for a while, and my form is stuck like this. A flesh and blood undead… more like a zombie, I suppose.」
Her voice carries a weight of sadness.
I knew there had to be some risk to such a powerful spell, but this is beyond what I expected.
『So, how long can’t you use magic?』
「Well, I’d estimate about a thousand years.」
『You’re joking, right!?』
「It’s no joke. Why would I lie? ‘Sanctuary Breach’ is akin to a prototype of ‘Dungeon Destruction’ magic. Naturally, the backlash is massive.」
She continues to work on her terminal, her chin resting on her hand.
‘Dungeon Destruction’—a spell to lay waste to a dungeon at will, but once used, it’s off-limits for a century.
Thinking about it, ‘Sanctuary Breach’ and ‘Dungeon Destruction’ do seem similar, with the latter likely being an improved version of the former.
「I won’t be like this forever, though. I’ll work with Gijie to modify my magical circuits and rebuild a new body. If we succeed, I should be able to use magic again… though it’ll take a few years.」
『Okay, that’s good to hear…』
A wave of relief washes over me.
Elibel watches me closely as I let out a deep breath.
「…Are you okay with this?」
「I can’t use magic right now, right? My physical abilities are almost like any human’s. I won’t be able to create magical tools or strengthen the dungeon without Gijie or you. Is that okay?」
『Yeah, I guess so.』
What is she trying to get at?
「That… Are you sure it’s okay? I mean, I might be weaker now… maybe even a burden. Is that alright with you.」
『Huh? Why wouldn’t it be? If anything, I’m just relieved it’s only that. I was worried this fight might be my end.』
Despite my best efforts not to dwell on it, Elibel really was quite intimidating back then.
But this current situation, not being able to use magic, seems trivial in comparison.
It’s infinitely better than losing someone for good.
Elibel is just sitting there, gaping at my casual response.
What’s with that reaction?
『What’s the matter? You’re not thinking you’ll be kicked out of the dungeon just because you can’t use magic anymore, are you? Because if you are, I’d be seriously upset.』
「No, it’s not that… just… argh!」
She’s scratching her head in frustration, as if she’s trying to scrape away her own thoughts.
Hey, you’re going to get bald if you keep scratching your head like that.
「Seriously, you’re such an idiot. You make me feel like an idiot for worrying so much… Really, you’re a fool.」
That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it?
「Sigh… But perhaps it’s better to think of it that way. I guess I should just say this then―――」
Elibel reaches out her hand to me.
「―――Earth, I hate to say it, but ‘I’ll be relying on you from now on.’」
She says it with clear intent.
I can’t help but smile at her words.
The answer is obvious.
I grin back at her, answering without any hesitation.
That seems to resolve everything.
With that, the long and arduous battle finally concludes.
―――Later, all other tests and checks are finished.
Ann and everyone else have been confirmed to have returned.
I thought I spotted something odd on the middle floors screens, but, let’s just ignore it.
「Well then, we’re about to get busy. We’ve got dungeon repairs, and a heap of information to get from that old hag.」
『Oh yeah, she mentioned she would be coming over soon, didn’t she?』
「Yes, much as I dread it, it’s inevitable.」
Elibel makes a clear face of disdain.
Come on, don’t be that way.
She did play a key role in this whole affair, after all.
「We also need information on Rias’ group. ‘Thunder Slash’ and his companions could be a real headache if we let them be.」
『Hm? Who’s ‘Thunder Slash’?』
I remember hearing the name during the battle but didn’t have a chance to ask further.
「Oh, I haven’t told you, have I? He’s a comrade of that big guy Lau you flattened in the capital. An adventurer from Wano Country, quite strong and well-known. His name is… Aoba Kirishima, I believe. Old hag referred to him as Kirishima Aoba.」
I pause, wondering if I’ve misheard.
「What? Didn’t you hear me? ‘Thunder Slash’ Kirishima Aoba. He’s got a few skilled friends, and for all we know, they might target our dungeon―――」
『What did he look like!?』
I cut Elibel off before she can finish.
My voice is filled with urgency, surprising even myself.
『Just tell me, what did that guy, that Aoba guy, look like!』
I had to be sure right away.
「What’s wrong? Well… Ah, right, I can’t use magic anymore. It’s such a hassle not being able to do a memory transmission. Gijie, show him my memories.」
Gijie’s terminal reaches out and attaches to Elibel’s head.
『―――Analyzing. Initiating playback of visuals.』
A brilliantly colored sphere materializes a three-dimensional image before us.
It’s the moment Elibel, along with Berg and others, breaks through the mist barrier and infiltrates the capital.
And there—there he is.
A nondescript young man with dull black hair.
An average face, an ordinary build, but his eyes are sharp, unnervingly so.
He has the kind of piercing gaze that might make him be mistaken for a delinquent.
There’s no mistake—it’s him.
「You can see from the image, after this old hag dealt with him, we were———」
Elibel’s explanations are just noise; I can’t take in a word of it.
What does this mean?
Because… because… that’s not possible.
A sickly sweat runs down my back.
My breathing’s all over the place.
My thoughts are racing out of control.
That “name”—the person with “that appearance”—shouldn’t be in this world.
Kirishima Aoba is―――
―――me in my past life.
The figure wearing traditional Japanese clothes on the screen is me from my previous life.
How can someone with my old name, my old face, be here in this world?
My head is spinning, a whirlpool of anxiety and questions that have no answers.
Sub29: I’ve not been feeling well recently and need a bit more time to recuperate. So the chapter released may not be on schedule. I appreciate your understanding if there’s a delay.
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