It’s been a month since the chaos caused by the Death Dragon in the Hà Giang Empire.
Well, I’ve mostly been healing my wounds and sleeping, so it flew by.
Things on the surface are still a bit messy, but inside the dungeon, things have relatively calmed down.
Today, as usual, I’m in the surveillance room all day long, observing the dungeon.
The top floors of the dungeon are still crowded with adventurers and merchants using the teleportation gates.
It’s bustling, to say the least. Well, maybe that’s not quite right.
But it’s amazing, despite all the commotion, how resilient everyone is.
Or maybe it’s precisely because of what happened that everyone’s doing their best at what they can do.
For now, let’s talk about what happened during this past month.
First, about the situation on the surface and the Continental Congresse.
According to reports from Una and Dos, the Continental Congress has been temporarily suspended.
Well, that’s to be expected.
The imperial capital, where the congress was to be held, is almost in ruins. No way a congress could happen.
Delegates from various countries have returned to their nations, supporting the reconstruction of the Hà Giang Empire.
After all, the Hà Giang Empire suffered the most from the Death Dragon incident.
The imperial capital is almost completely destroyed.
Thousands have died, and search operations are still ongoing.
Of course, rescue teams have been formed, but the empire’s knights alone are nowhere near enough. Adventurers are constantly being called in for reconstruction work.
Citizens are volunteering too, but it’s still not enough.
It’s almost like the country isn’t functioning at all.
But now, a month later, some functions have somewhat recovered.
Support is coming in through the teleportation gates from other countries.
Still, it’ll take years to fully return to its former state.
Well, to be honest, as someone who lives in a dungeon, none of this really affects me.
If anything, I’d be happy if the reconstruction efforts reduced the number of adventurers coming into the dungeon.
I later checked out the state of the imperial capital. The emperor and an elderly demon were there.
I also saw Beldi and that jerk Wald.
They seem to be drafted for reconstruction support too.
I’d rather they stay there and volunteer.
Ideally, I’d rather have them die in a secondary disaster. Especially Wald.
Now, about Fafnir.
Repair work is also underway in Fafnir’s dungeon.
Humans are handling the repairs to the entrance lid, but the damage inside the dungeon – caused by Joker and Tsumugi’s alteration abilities – is expected to be fixed in about a month, according to Gijie.
Apparently, the more challenging part was not the destruction, but the depletion of traps due to Tsumugi’s “Dungeon Alteration.”
Nearly a tenth of the dungeon’s traps were used, including those in our middle layer dungeon.
That’s terribly inefficient…
Well, Tsumugi did her best, so I can’t be too hard on her. But next time, I hope she’s a bit more resourceful.
Dungeon traps are finite.
If used limitlessly, the dungeon won’t last.
And Tsumugi herself overexerted quite a bit.
She was bedridden for a while after the fight.
Fafnir himself has returned to sleep due to the ordeal of manifesting a physical form.
Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to have affected his lifespan too much.
He should wake up in a few days.
Tsumugi is nursing him tirelessly.
When you wake up, you better thank her properly, Fafnir.
Ann and everyone else are almost fully healed.
Ann and Berg were the worst off, but both are back in shape now.
…Well, most of Berg’s injuries were my fault.
Ann was bedridden for a while due to the backlash from her armor, but Elja’s healing magic and high-purity magic stones have helped her recover smoothly.
The four forest leaders and other monsters are healing their wounds as well.
Everyone took significant damage in the fight against the aberrations.
I rewarded them with lots of magic stones for their efforts.
They seemed a bit apprehensive about accepting them, but they were probably happy.
I’ll bring more when I can afford it.
By the way, the earth dragon golem I used in the fight are currently being repaired in Elibel’s lab.
It’s almost reduced to mere stumps.
It’s unclear if it can be fully repaired, but I’ll help out later.
I built it, after all.
I’ve got some new gimmicks and modifications I want to try.
If there’s another battle, I might use it again.
…Though I’d prefer not to. For my own sake.
I’d just end up being a total battery…
Well, I guess that’s the current situation.
I start digging into the ground.
Dig, dig, dig, and out pops a magic stone.
Nibble, nibble, gulp.
Yeah, that’s tasty.
Ah, I’m feeling pretty good right now. It feels like things are back to normal.
Just lazing around eating magic stones, spending the day watching the monitors, chilling out. Can there be a greater luxury? No, there can’t be.
『Munch, munch… No adventurers trying the middle layers today, huh… gulp.』
While snacking on magic stones, I glance at the monitor.
Lately, adventurers have made progress mapping the surface dungeon, and the methods for overcoming the golems and traps have become widespread.
Because of that, the number of adventurers attempting the middle layers has increased. Probably two or three parties a month.
No solo adventurers; almost all of them are in parties.
The number of challengers is up, but still, no one has managed to break through the first area of the middle layer.
Most die before getting through, or wisely retreat when they find a good stopping point.
From what I see, most of the adventurers are B or C-Rank.
At this level, it’s still okay to leave them be.
I’m more worried about monsters like the Celestial Dragon or Holy Dragon attempting the dungeon.
They are really off the charts.
By the way, so far, the only one who has broken through the first area is the Celestial Dragon Yamu.
Compared to them, human adventurers seem pretty harmless.
Yes… unless they’re exceptionally strong, it’s impossible for them to break through the middle layers.
Yes, unless they’re S-Rank or a national hero, that is.
There it is again.
Lately, I’ve been getting headaches.
Always when I think of “a certain thing.”
What is it?
Yes, that adventurer Elibel told me about after the battle.
The mysterious man with the same name and face as my previous life and the nickname “Thunder Slash.”
After all, his true identity is still a mystery.
I’ve managed to gather quite a bit of superficial information and rumors.
But the essential part, the core of who he is, remains unknown.
Why does he have the same name and face as me?
So far, I have absolutely no clue.
It’s as if all information about him is being deliberately blocked.
What the heck is going on, really…
I sit down, clutching my head. The cool ground feels nice…
That’s a bit better.
「Oh, what’s this? Is the pathetic dragon pondering life’s mysteries?」
That was a seriously rude voice.
『No, I mean… even I have things to worry about…』
I turn around, and as expected, it’s her.
But she’s not in her skeletal form. She’s in her living form—her “human” form.
After the battle with the Death Dragon, Elibel repeatedly used the forbidden magic “Sanctuary Breach,” which has rendered her unable to use magic and, it seems, fixed her in her current physical form.
Well, technically, this is probably her true form, but I’ve gotten used to thinking of Elibel as a skeleton. Well, it’s been a month, and I’m pretty used to it by now.
Everyone else accepted her new look without any fuss.
“Regardless of her form, Elibel is still Elibel,” said Ann.
They really are kind…
And as I’m thinking this, Elibel stares intently into my eyes.
「Shall I guess what’s troubling you?」
「Let me guess… it’s about ‘Thunder Slash,’ right?」
「You’re too easy to read, you know. Aren’t you a little bit silly?」
Elibel plops down beside me, saying ‘heave-ho.’
Wait a minute. Isn’t she a bit too close?
Is it just me, or has she been making my side her usual spot lately?
Is it all in my head? Am I overthinking it?
Don’t lean against me and sit cross-legged. I can’t move, you know.
Well, it’s fine, I guess.
By the way, Elibel is properly dressed under her robe now.
After some convincing by Tres and Tsumugi, about the inappropriateness of just a robe without clothes, we managed to get her to wear something.
She was quite stubborn, but we finally succeeded.
「By the way, you still haven’t told Ann and the others, have you?」
「I’ve said it before, but I don’t see why you need to keep it a secret. Whatever your past is, I’m sure Ann and the others will accept you.」
Elibel asserts confidently.
Yeah, that’s really reassuring.
But that’s not it.
『Hmm… I just feel like it’s better to explain things once they’re clearer. Just a hunch.』
「Whatever. I don’t really care either way.」
I still haven’t told anyone about anything related to my past life as Kirishima Aoba.
Only Elibel knows.
It’s partly because I missed the right moment, but also, I just feel like it’s better not to talk about it yet.
『So, got any new info?』
Even though Elibel can’t use magic anymore, she’s been gathering information using various magical tools and her skeleton and specter legions.
Thanks to that, we’ve been able to collect relatively easy information about Aoba’s reputation as an adventurer.
「No, nothing new.」
Elibel shakes her head.
No new leads. That’s disappointing.
「To be honest, it’s tough to find more than this… Well, it’s not like there’s no other way.」
Elibel murmurs while running her fingers through her silver hair.
『You have an idea?』
「Well, that… There’s someone who might know something.」
I tilt my head at Elibel’s unusually hesitant response.
『Who is it?』
「…You know her well too.」
Elibel makes a face like she’s truly loathe to say it.
Ah, I get it.
Just from that, I have a hunch.
There’s only one person who comes to mind who would have more information than Elibel and would make her pull such a disgusted face.
But indeed, ‘she’ might know something.
Meanwhile, in the Borhelic Kingdom―――
「Well, everything’s been taken care of, so let’s get going.」
「Is it really alright? To renounce all your rights and interests in the Borhelic Kingdom…」
「It’s fine. I have no attachments to this country, and I’ve kept the remnants of the Nored and Reynolds families alive for this very reason. They’ll manage from here, won’t they?」
「Really? I think I’ve done my duty by them. After all, the Borhelic Kingdom doesn’t produce magic stones anymore. That means I’m free to do as I please.」
「…With all due respect, haven’t you always done exactly as you pleased?」
「Ha ha! What are you talking about, Rugios? If I had truly done as I pleased, Borhelic Kingdom would’ve been history long ago. The only reason it’s not is that I felt bad for Jibru and Eli. Especially Jibru, after all the time she spent enriching the soil. I have to repay her hard work. I’m a witch who’s strict about debts of gratitude.」
「Are you making a joke? Because I’m not laughing.」
「Eh, really? …Well, whatever. Anyway, this means we’re finally free. Let’s head over to Eli’s place. Eld Desert is the closest from here, right?」
「That’s correct. By the way, what’s with all this baggage? Don’t tell me you’re planning to rely on Miss Elibel for support?」
「Eh? Yeah, so?」
「Please don’t look at me as if that’s the most natural thing in the world! Are you serious?!」
「Dead serious. If it’s Eli, I’m sure she’ll welcome me with open arms. After all, I am her fr… frie… friend, yeah! A friend! Actually, best friend! She even called me by my name, after all!」
「Ah, I see. …I’m sure she’ll refuse (muttering under breath).」
「Did you say something, Rugios?」
「Alright then. Let’s set off for Eli’s dungeon!」
——A few minutes later.
「Oh no, I forgot the map! We have to go back to the mansion, Rugios!」
「(…I can only worry about what lies ahead…)」
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