Rasetsu returned to the dungeon.
It seems he was able to dispose of the enemy without incident.
「It was easy…yes, it was, indeed.」
However, it seems Rasetsu found it all rather boring due to the lack of challenge for him.
I mean, the opponent was supposedly a Disaster-class threat…
The second division leader of the Demon King’s army, the “Undead Beast” Vohu.
An Elder Lich. His power as an undead was on par with Robun who is a Death Lord.
There’s no way he could have been weak.
Rasetsu was just abnormally strong.
Nepotism aside, Rasetsu is powerful, exceptionally so.
There seems to be no limit to his potential growth. And the ending in his speech, is he not used to it? Sorry Rasetsu, I apologize, the usual me said something thoughtless…
「Good work, Rasetsu. Now then, please return to your original area.」
With a nod, Rasetsu returned to the middle layer area.
「Alright, shall we analyze this then.」
Saying that, Elibel took out the spoils of war that Rasetsu brought back.
A teleportation ring that Vohu had equipped. And a corpse.
We don’t know where this ring transports you, but gaining any information would be a godsend.
We have to take the initiative here too.
This fight won’t end if we just defend.
Plus, Tsumugi and Gonzo will soon be ready.
When they are, it’ll be our turn.
Meanwhile at that time.
Spenta, the first division leader of the Demon King’s army, was waiting for Vohu’s return.
「He’s late…too late. The scheduled time has long passed…」
Just what on earth happened?
Did some unexpected situation occur?
As if in response to his unease, the ring on his right hand cracked.
「Could this mean…Vohu has fallen!?」
The cracked ring was linked to the teleportation ring Vohu had equipped.
And if anything happened to Vohu himself, the other ring would crack to signify it.
The ring cracking could only mean Vohu’s defeat.
Spenta was stunned in disbelief.
Vohu was a veteran demon next to Spenta and Zahak. There could be no doubting his strength.
To think he could fall in a place like this…
「While we had anticipated this possibility…just what should I report to Lord Agil…」
Bowing his head slightly, he mourned Vohu’s death.
Then he swiftly steeled himself.
The operation was still underway.
Using a communication magic stone, he contacted the other commanders.
「―――Is everyone in position?」
Replies came immediately.
『Third Division, in position』
『Fourth Division, ready』
『――Seventh Division, preparations complete』
『Um, Eighth Division also ready to go. Yes.』
Including Spenta, there are currently six commander-level demons participating in this invasion.
No, with Vohu dead, there are five left.
First Division Leader Spenta.
Third Division Leader Harlot.
Fourth Division Leader Asha.
Seventh Division Leader Almaty.
Eighth Division Leader Mulder.
The above five are currently on the frontlines.
The other two commanders are waiting in their dungeons.
In other words, this is their strongest fighting force right now.
「Good, everyone is ready. We will now commence the operation.」
Not one of them questioned what happened to Vohu.
Because when Spenta said “everyone” earlier, they understood the unspoken implication that Vohu had fallen.
「Alright, let’s begin…」
Muttering while looking at the sandy plains stretching before him.
Spenta was currently in the Ford Desert south of the Hà Giang Empire.
And next to him was a white-haired girl about the size of a primary schooler.
In her hand she clutched a fist-sized magic stone.
「According to reports, it should be around here. Well, how is it?」
Spenta asked the girl.
The girl placed her hand on the sand, sensing its properties.
「No doubt about it…but the scale and concentration of magical power is beyond expectations. We likely only have enough for one activation at most.」
Just one time…
Should they conserve their strength for the battles ahead?
No, they would not win like that.
「…No matter. Do it.」
Bowing her head slightly, the white-haired girl consumed the magic stone in her hand.
Crunching and chewing it, the moment she swallowed an explosive surge of magical power erupted from within her.
The torrential force made her clutch her chest and cry out in pain.
「Urgh…t-temporary increase to abilities…confirmed…I can do it…」
The girl buried both hands in the sand, unleashing that which was the bane of all dungeons.
Yes, “that” ability.
In the next moment, accompanied by a roar, a massive crater opened up in the desert.
At the same time, similar phenomena occurred in other middle layer areas with entrances to the surface.
Gaping holes leading from the surface down into the dungeon opened up, magic circles for teleportation gates appearing overhead.
These were pre-prepared one-way teleportation gates.
Pouring out from them were the main forces of the Demon King’s army, composed entirely of advanced and higher class demons.
Yes, they never had any intention of foolishly attacking the dungeon head-on from the start.
The frontal attacks through the entrances were merely a distraction, to draw the enemy’s attention away. And if possible, to analyze the enemy’s forces and whittle them down. Though they largely failed, that was then and this is now.
The real plan was to forcibly breach into the middle layers through the Pathless’s dungeon manipulation.
They would take an uncompromising shortcut straight to the dungeon’s depths.
「Do not think of this as underhanded.」
Looking down at the gaping hole, Spenta speaks.
Next to him lies the collapsed Pathless girl, drained of strength, the light gone from her eyes after exceeding her limits.
I’m sorry, he mutters as he rests a hand on the girl’s corpse.
Needing to sacrifice girls like her…how despicable our methods have become.
But there would have been no chance of conquering this sprawling dungeon otherwise.
Especially not with Jibru’s revival drawing ever nearer.
Forced into seeking quick victory, they could not afford to quibble over methods.
「…We simply cannot lose this.」
Raising his weapon, Spenta gives the order.
「Advance! The full-scale invasion begins now!」
The trampling of the dungeon by the Demon King’s army was about to commence——.
「―――Well, we expected them to come, of course.」
―――Or so it seemed.
In the next moment, something erupted from the massive hole opened in Middle Layer 2.
A black geyser.
Wondering what was happening, upon closer look it was not water bursting forth.
―――It was a swarm of black ants.
Tens, hundreds of thousands of killer ants came spewing out of the very hole they had opened seconds earlier.
「W-What is this…!?」
In an instant, as far as the eye could see, ants ants ants spreading everywhere.
As if to plug up the gaping holes, massive numbers of ants surged forth.
Killer ants. And all of them intermediate-class variants with considerable might.
Spenta’s eyes went wide at the sight.
「It can’t be…」
The ants immediately set upon the nearby demons.
Catching the demons off-guard with their sudden attack.
But their confusion lasted only a moment.
Quickly the demons launched their counterattack to quell the tide of insects.
Yet their numbers were beyond comparison.
Before they could even form up ranks the hordes converged on them from all sides.
Not only the opened tunnels but even bursting up from beneath the sands around them.
Soon it seemed the entirety of the Ford Desert would be swallowed up by their endless legions.
And their movements were disciplined to a fault.
As if they had trained extensively specifically to deal with this very situation “from the start”.
An awful premonition flashed in Spenta’s mind.
「Don’t tell me…they predicted this!? Read all our moves in advance…!? That if we breached the dungeon walls…!? Preposterous!」
But the neverending armies of ants rising before him told him his words rang true.
So that’s how they came.
Watching the unfolding scenes, I realized as much.
『Which areas were directly breached?』
「Looks like a total of five. Intrusions to Areas 2, 4, 5, 6 and 8.」
Five places huh…
The middle layer has nine areas total.
So over half were compromised.
…Fewer than I expected.
Were they unable to spare the forces? Or did they simply fail to identify all our middle layer areas?
Either way, it’s within predicted parameters.
We’ve dealt with tactics like that countless times before.
Destroying dungeon walls, altering dungeon, flooding—at this point that kind of hellish scenery has become tiresome. Honestly it’s just harassment. Predicting this much should be a given.
However, breaching directly into the middle layers through multiple Pathless manipulating the terrain…
So that’s how they came.
Fortunately our worst case scenario didn’t come to pass.
『Elibel, what’s the current division placement in each area?』
We had deployed units throughout the middle layers in anticipation of this kind of situation.
「It’s like this,」
Saying that, Elibel operates the terminal, displaying the footage.
Ann, four Ant Queens, and antlings.
Tres, Pururu, and the Four Chiefs of the forest.
Fáfnir’s forces: Robun, Othel, Ljung.
Elja, Holy Dragon, Luminous Dragon.
Rasetsu, Lizard-type, Skeleton and death corps.
And the golems stationed in each area would bolster their numbers too.
The commander class demons showing themselves means this operation is critical for the enemy as well.
An all-out war.
They’d throw everything they had our way.
While the commanders were the biggest threat among the invaders, so long as my subordinates made use of their equipment and the dungeon’s traps and barriers, defending should still be possible.
However, we had no intention to end it there.
Gijie’s announcement resounded.
「It seems the preparations are complete, Earth.」
It was the report I had been waiting for.
『―――Tsumugi and Gonzo have completed their ‘Evolution’.』
That’s right. For our defense preparations, I had asked Elibel for a certain item.
——The ‘Evolution Magic Stone’.
Their effects were just as named, forcefully evolving a monster to a higher variant.
Unparalleled items for bolstering our forces.
Seems Elibel had taken an interest as well, already working on redeveloping them.
Two completed ‘Evolution Magic Stones’ had been produced.
And I had Tsumugi and Gonzo consume them.
Why those two specifically?
Gijie’s report would explain.
『Report. Golem homunculus, individual designation [Gonzo].
Has completed evolution to Calamity-class variant [Calamity Behemoth]』
『Additionally. Pathless-type individual designation [Tsumugi]. As evolved species is unknown, common designation adopted. Evolution to Evil God-class variant [Dream Mist] complete.』
Excellent, that bolstered our war potential plenty.
It was our turn to attack next.
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