In the first area of the middle layer, on the first floor, three entrances are swarming with an incredible number of undead creatures.
Needless to say, these are the demons of the demon king’s army that had been invading the dungeon until just recently.
「Undeath is happening too quickly. It’s reasonable to think that they were rigged with spells in advance.」
Yeah, that’s likely.
Watching their fighting style, it’s clear the scouts probably didn’t know about this.
Such sneaky tactics. It’s just the kind of thing Vohu would like.
Looking around, it’s apparent that others who died in the surface dungeons are also turning into undead.
Their steps are unsteady, but they seem to know their mission, beginning to move deeper into the dungeon.
Soldiers that don’t fear death—well, they’re already dead.
Their heads can be crushed, arms torn off, but unless their core is destroyed, they’ll keep moving forward.
What a troublesome and terrifying army.
「―――But, these makeshift undead are no match for us.」
Indeed, they’d be a formidable force—well, normally.
Just because they’ve turned into undead suddenly doesn’t mean their combat strength has dramatically improved.
They’ve simply gone from living to dead.
There are plenty of ways to deal with them.
And we have an ace up our sleeve for dealing with the undead.
A dazzling light fills the screen.
「Looks like she’s arrived.」
As the light fades, the screen reveals a single girl holding a parasol.
Not a single undead is left; they’ve all crumbled away.
It’s the Holy Dragon, Elja.
She’s grinning at the visual magic stone recording device, flashing a peace sign.
…Hey, focus on the battle, not the camera.
But maybe that just means she’s that confident.
Holy Dragon Elja’s unique spell, “Purification,” is immensely effective against the unclean undead and curses and other such afflictions.
There’s no more advantageous ability against the undead.
It seems the other two entrances are also being handled by other Holy and Luminous Dragons.
Originally, they were in charge of the third area of the middle layer, but they’ve moved to the entrances using the teleportation gates.
『Shouldn’t Elja have stayed in her assigned area to wait?』
Elja is, after all, the top of the Holy Dragons.
It seems a bit off for her to leave her post. That’s concerning her standing among the Holy Dragons, right?
As I’m thinking this, Elibel gives me a look that says, “What are you talking about?”
「…She obviously wants to impress you.」
『Ah, yeah… I see.』
I’m convinced now.
「You don’t seem happy. Isn’t it nice to be liked by such a cute girl? Even if she’s a bit difficult…」
『…Honestly, I don’t really get it.』
Elibel looks somewhat troubled. Why is that?
Oh, right. I need to focus on the battle.
There’s no need to worry, though.
In every area, Elja and the other Holy Dragons are one-sidedly purifying the undead.
There are many of them, but at this rate, it’s only a matter of time.
As long as Elja and the other Holy Dragons are here, creating undead within the dungeon is futile.
「―――If you think that’s all it takes, you’re naive… Hoo-hoo…」
Through the eyes of the undead, Vohu, the second division leader of demon’s army, surveys the battlefield.
A troublesome opponent has shown up indeed.
Holy Dragon Elja, and her entourage as well.
So they were dispatched from the holy land, after all.
Certainly, Elja’s “Purification” is an ultimate “poison” against us, the undead.
On top of that, the Holy Dragons’ base abilities are astoundingly high.
If they were to attack in full force, his second division would be decimated within minutes. They are that terrifying.
But that’s only if they were in their true form.
Holy Dragons can only unleash their full power above ground or in the sky.
In the depths of a dungeon, their massive bodies force them to take a humanoid form to avoid collapsing the structure. If they were to force their true form, it could even cause the dungeon to crumble.
Yet, even with their powers suppressed, they’re still too strong for ordinary undead to even touch…
「In that case, we just do this… Hoo.」
As Vohu mutters to himself, the remaining undead begin to converge in one spot.
They start to cannibalize each other.
A ghastly sight of cannibalism.
And from it, a new undead is born.
Dark, twisted, and grotesque, as if monsters were forcibly molded into a humanoid shape.
「The Cannibal Ghoul. Its strength is that of King-class… Now, let’s see how they handle this… Hoo-hoo.」
A dry smirk emerges from beneath his hood.
Through the eyes of the newly born Cannibal Ghoul, he gazes intently at the girl with the parasol.
「Hoo… and one of the ‘candidates’ has shown up. This is a fortunate turn… Hoo…」
He quickly issues an order to the Cannibal Ghoul.
On the first floor of the middle layer, Elja is all smiles.
This is her moment to shine, a stage befitting her.
Here, she’ll show off her competence and catch both Earth’s heart and his purity.
Elja is brimming with motivation and, well, lust.
「Purification! Purification! Purification for everyone!!」
She unleashes her Purification spell left and right, turning every target in sight to dust.
Against advanced-class undead like Robun or Rias, it might be a different story, but against these lower undead, they’re no match for the power of a Holy Dragon.
In no time at all, she purifies hundreds of undead.
「I’m sure to stand out with this performance. And then, Earth’s purity will be… Ooh, ooh-ho-ho.」
Elja lets out a creepy laugh.
Apparently, while she can purify undead, she can’t purify her own desires.
And, probably, that wish of hers won’t come true. Pity.
Lost in her thoughts, she notices something at the edge of the battlefield: undead devouring each other.
And before her eyes, their bodies melt and merge into one.
The Cannibal Ghoul lets out its birth cry.
Its many eyes lock onto Elja.
「Oh my. A somewhat troublesome one has appeared…」
Her smirk fades, replaced by a serious expression.
She senses its magical power—it’s at the lower end of King-class.
So it seems, even if they’re weak individually, in numbers, they can become quite strong.
The Cannibal Ghoul charges towards Elja.
Faster than expected!
It closes the gap in an instant, swinging its arm at Elja.
She narrowly dodges and counters with a Purification spell.
But Elja’s expression changes.
「―――! It’s not purifying completely…!?」
The density of the Cannibal Ghoul’s magical power is higher than anticipated.
Elja’s Purification only manages to scorch the enemy’s arm.
The arm swings again.
This time, it grazes Elja’s cheek.
「It seems this isn’t the time to be showing off, is it?」
She backsteps to gain distance and pulls out a communication magic crystal from her bosom.
「Miss Elibel. The threat level has exceeded our expectations. I request permission to activate ‘that’.」
Elja has a trump card prepared just for this battle.
But it’s prohibited to use without the permission of Elibel or Earth.
Now would be the perfect time to use it.
However, the response she gets is,
Elja can hardly believe her ears.
『The battle is still in its early stages. It’s too soon to show our hand. Deal with that thing as you are now.』
Even Elja knows that, with her powers restricted as they are now, it’s tough to face that thing.
Elibel is aware of this as well.
『I understand that. So, lure it to the designated point. Similar enemies have appeared at the other two entrances. We’ll handle them all together.』
「I- I understand.」
Darn it. There goes my chance to impress Earth…
Biting her lip, Elja turns her back on the Cannibal Ghoul and runs.
「…Did she run away? The same reaction is happening elsewhere… A trap, is it… Hoo-hoo.」
While repeating short breaths, Vohu thinks.
Did they consider a frontal assault disadvantageous?
Lure the Cannibal Ghouls to a spot rigged with traps, then strike them all at once.
A reasonable tactic.
It’s an all-too-transparent bait.
If the enemy were mindless undead, they might fall for it, but the Cannibal Ghouls are under his control.
Such provocations won’t work.
「…Let’s take the bait… Hoo…」
Vohu decides to accept the provocation.
After all, whatever trap they have won’t mean anything to the Cannibal Ghouls.
『Turn left at the next corner.』
Elja dashes through the dungeon, chased by the Cannibal Ghoul.
Maintaining a safe distance from the pursuing ghoul while navigating the dungeon is quite challenging.
Eventually, she and the ghoul arrive at a large hall located nearly at the center of the first floor.
There are three entrances to the hall.
Almost simultaneously, other Holy Dragons and Cannibal Ghouls enter the hall from the other doorways.
Relieved that everyone else is safe, they prepare to resolve the situation.
Once all three Cannibal Ghouls are completely inside the room, Elja gives the command.
A red magic circle appears underfoot.
Its light envelops the Cannibal Ghouls.
One of the ghouls lets out a puzzled cry.
The others follow suit.
Then, the effect becomes apparent.
The Cannibal Ghouls wail in agony.
Their voices gradually fade, and their bodies start to crumble apart.
―――A Magic-Blocking Barrier.
The very same terrifying spell that Elibel used as punishment when Earth once used her storage materials without permission for gardening.
It’s a remarkable barrier that not only traps specific wavelengths of thought communication within but also blocks long-distance support spells.
Here’s the key point: it blocks long-distance support spells.
It’s very likely that the one controlling them is outside the dungeon.
So, just cut off that connection.
What happens to a puppet when the strings from the puppeteer are cut?
The Cannibal Ghouls drop to their knees, powerless.
They seem unable to move their bodies properly anymore.
「…Pitiful, isn’t it? To have one’s life and death both exploited for war…」
With a touch of pity in her heart, Elja activates her spell.
This time, the Cannibal Ghouls are utterly turned to dust, leaving no trace behind.
「Hoo-hoo… The Cannibal Ghouls lost, huh…」
On a hill a little away from the dungeon, Vohu sits concealed behind a rock.
The moment the trap in that room was activated, the magical power supply to the Cannibal Ghouls was severed.
In some way, the thread between them and him had been cut.
A frighteningly sophisticated spell.
「As expected from the dungeon of that Divine Catastrophe Dragon King’s offspring… Hoo-hoo.」
It’s tougher than the rumors had suggested.
The scout unit was originally formed with the expectation of undead transformation, Cannibal Ghoul creation, and even defeat—all taken into account. Yet to be overwhelmed to this extent…
It’s frustrating, but I must revise my assessment.
「However… couldn’t they have held on a bit longer… Hoo-hoo…」
Even though they were a sacrificial unit expected to be wiped out, I had wished they could have persisted a bit longer before dying. The information they provided was nothing new. What a useless bunch.
「Well, can’t be too greedy, I guess… Hoo-hoo…」
Besides, they have died honorably, as pawns of the glorious second division leader.
There should be no room for regret, only pride in their service.
「Now, maybe it’s time to join up with Spenta… Hoo-hoo…」
There’s no point in staying here any longer.
Time to regroup with the main forces.
Just as he thinks this and is about to stand up―――
『Where might you be headed? …Indeed』
He’s been addressed.
Reflexively, he swings his arm.
But his magically hardened arm is easily sliced through.
His right arm dances in the air.
What just happened!?
Vohu turns his gaze.
There stands an armored warrior wielding an Odachi.
A shiver runs down Vohu’s entire body.
Danger, danger, danger.
An emotion he hasn’t felt in a long time races through him.
「Who- who are you…? And what’s with that… that impossible amount of magical power…?」
Forgetting even his regular breathing, Vohu locks his eyes on the enemy before him.
This is bad.
This armored warrior is trouble.
Clearly on a different level.
With a clank, the warrior takes a step forward.
Who is he?
Did such a monster happen to be around here by chance?
No, that’s impossible.
「It cannot be. In that short time, did they traced my magic back to me… Hoo…」
The faint trace of magical power connected to the undead and the Cannibal Ghouls.
If traced back, it could indeed reveal his location.
But that’s like finding one specific spring in a vast river system that leads to the ocean, without taking a single step from the sea.
What kind of detection ability is that?
Yet, the reality is right in front of him.
A monster capable of doing just that is on the other side.
For now, he has to move before he can think.
「Hoo-Wait! I surrender! I won’t resist! So―――」
While panting shallowly, Vohu raises his hands.
This warrior is an abnormal being. Not someone I can fight and expect to win against.
「Please! I’ll tell you anything you want to know! Just spare my life―――」
He desperately pleads, watching for the warrior’s reaction.
How about it? Please lower your weapon.
The warrior silently lowers the odachi.
Vohu sighs with relief.
「Hoo-hoo… that was close.」
Then, he smirks slyly.
In the next instant, Vohu moves.
He steps back quickly, channeling magical power into the ring on his finger.
―――A ring of teleportation.
A one-time-use emergency item, but perfect for getting out of this situation. Good thing I had it on. Activation is instant. I’ve got enough distance. I can escape.
As the ring’s effect is about to activate―――
「Hoo-Hoo! What a pity! Now I―――…huh?」
―――It seemed to work.
But something’s wrong.
The teleportation isn’t activating.
Then he realizes.
His finger… is gone.
The finger with the ring of teleportation is missing, cleanly cut off from the base.
Where is it?
He looks around frantically.
―――There it is.
The warrior is holding up his severed finger, showing it to him.
In that instant. Closed the distance. His finger. With an imperceptible speed.
But, more urgently, I have to prepare a counter spell.
「Guh, dammit! Take this―」
「Just die already, indeed.」
As he mutters to the rolling head, Rasetsu pierces through the remaining magical core in his body.
The face of Vohu, the second division leader, remained puzzled until the end, never understanding what had happened.
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