In the Sixth Area―――
Elja had received contact from Elibel.
「I see… Yes, I understand. We will maintain our defense here,」
she said, cutting off the communication magic stone.
「What’s going on?」
Next to her, Pororo asked.
「It seems the fighting has ended in the other areas. The Second Area, Fourth Area, and Fifth Area were also successfully defended, I’m told.」
「The Second Area is… Oh, that was Ann, right?」
Elja immediately corrected him.
Her voice was shaking. Ann must be very frightening.
「Ah… Yes, Lady Ann, of course.」
「According to the report, the opponent was Spenta, First Division Leader of the Demon King’s Army. Together with the Black Ants, Lady Ann annihilated the enemy forces completely,」
Elja said. Hearing the report, Pororo couldn’t help but widen his eyes.
「She beat Spenta? Then… I’ll admit she has earned your respect,」
Spenta the “Sword Saint Beast”.
Even Pororo, a relatively young dragon, knew of the famous demon.
During the Great Human-Demon War five hundred years ago, he was one of the most active demons, rising to become a commanding officer of the Demon King’s Army with his sword alone. It’s said he once fought a whole country by himself. Without a doubt, he possessed the might of a Calamity-class. Pororo sent his sincere praises to Ann for defeating such a ferocious enemy.
「Of course. Like Lord Earth, Lady Ann is someone I deeply respect. And though Lady Ann is frightening, she is even more outstanding―――」
From there, Elja’s Ann lecture began. By the way, “sasu Ann” means “As expected of Lady Ann!”.
She spoke passionately about how much she respected Ann, the great deeds Ann had accomplished, how although she is terribly scary when angry, she is unexpectedly kind and reliable, and so on.
「Ah, yeah… Incredible,」
Though honestly, Pororo was only half-listening…
Rather, his interest lay more in the master behind Ann―Earth.
（But I think that Earth guy is even more amazing）
After all, that Earth Dragon had predicted almost the entire situation up to this point.
Things neither Pororo nor the other Holy Dragons has even imagined, like the dungeon intervention and simultaneous attacks on the middle floors.
Yet that Earth Dragon had casually predicted and handled it all.
Pororo had never met a dragon like him before.
A being unlike any other in the world of dragons where strength is everything.
The fact that he had gained such power in the mere years since his birth, that he had created such an enormous dungeon, that he had such powerful followers like Ann and Rasetsu… All of it seemed to completely overturn the common sense of dragons up until now.
（I heard he’s the son of that Divine Catastrophe Dragon King, but still… He’s off the charts）
Although he hadn’t seen it directly, it’s said that dragon fought on par with even Death Dragon Ouronus, the fiercest dragon. He’s far beyond amazing – you can only call him “anomaly”.
And that’s why not just Pororo, but all the Holy Dragons living in the holy land and their followers deeply respected that dragon.
（I’m so jealous…）
He naturally attracted others, charming even Elja who wasn’t his beloved but his beloved dragon.
He accomplished with ease things Pororo couldn’t achieve in tens of years.
It made him feel envious. And resentful.
But still, he had no intention of losing to him.
One day, he would surely make Elja look his way instead.
「―――Hey, are you listening!」
He saw Elja puffing her cheeks and looking his way.
「Hm? Ah, sorry Elja, I was lost in thought for a bit…」
I can’t tell her I was thinking about her.
Angered at his negligence, Elja restarted her explanation of each area.
「―――Finally, regarding the Fifth Area which Fáfnir’s followers are guarding. The enemy commander there was also quite skilled, but in the end, they barely claimed victory with Robun, Othel, and Ljung’s ultimate three-man technique, Eternal Flame of Darkness, Shadow, and Fusion Metal.」
「What kind of ultimate move is that…」
It gave him the feeling of something like “My super special mysterious technique!”.
But since it defeated the Demon King Army’s commander, it was surely a fearsome skill. At least Pororo wanted to think that.
「So that means the only places left to report are our area, and…」
「The Eighth Area, guarded by Rasetsu and the Skeletons.」
Saying that, Elja turned her gaze to the visual magic stone.
「Though at this pace, our area might end up being the last to finish…」
Projected there was the sight of the Demon King’s Army still loitering on the first floor.
『E-Everyone! Please gather around! Thanks to you all, we’ve finally finished mapping this area. Now then, I’d like for us to advance ahead.』
It seems they had finally finished mapping the first floor.
Their pace left much to be desired.
The spectacles of Mulder, the apparent demon captain, were askew as he wiped his sweat with a handkerchief. He looked anything but reliable for a commander.
『It was tough going, everyone. I’m sorry for working you all so hard, but please hang in there a little longer!』
Bowing repeatedly to his subordinates, not a shred killing intent could be sensed from him.
Seeing her opponent be this guy, Elja laughed through her nose.
The other dragons had the same reaction.
『Now then, let me first explain what’s ahead.』
After fixing his skewed glasses, Mulder spoke.
And in that instant, the air changed.
『First, regarding the next floor, the second floor. It’s much the same as the first floor. There are fifty-eight golems that appear, of them forty-two humanoid types equipped with swords and shields, the remaining sixteen wielding spears. There are four traps that activate based on perceived gender, eight traps that temporarily lower magic power, twenty-one pitfalls, and four chest traps mimicking treasure chests set up.』
Elja unintentionally let out a stupid voice.
What did this guy just say?
『Next is the third floor. There’s almost no forks here, it’s a straight path. Because of that, rolling boulder traps trigger twenty-two times, with thirty-four separate pitfall traps. So there are no golems on this floor.』
Hang on a minute.
What is this guy talking about right now?
What kind of explanation is he giving?
『Next is the fourth floor. Here, environment zone-type floors first appear. Looks to be a volcano type. There are forty-four lava golems deployed―――』
『The fifth floor is where―――』
Why was this man explaining floors they hadn’t even seen yet with such composure?
Mulder continued accurately detailing the structure, traps, and everything about floors he couldn’t have possibly seen yet.
『Now, regarding the twelfth floor…』
There, Morda slowly looked upwards.
It felt like their eyes had met through the projection…
『There seem to be five Holy Dragons and eight Luminous Dragons stationed here. It’s the greatest obstacle in this area. However, we should be able to overcome it.』
A cold shiver ran down Elja’s spine.
『They’re probably “watching” this projection too. So Holy Dragons, Luminous Dragons gathered there.』
At that point, Mulder paused his words, placing a hand on his chest and bowing deeply.
『―――We will be visiting you shortly, so please wait just a while longer!』
Grinning with his slightly askew glasses and unreliable look.
Elja reevaluated her impression of him.
This man was without doubt, a powerful enemy.
Meanwhile, in the Eighth Area―――
Rasetsu waited deep within the dungeon,.
On the upper floors, the Skeleton Corps and golems fought bravely.
So he quietly built up his strength until the time he would have to move.
「They’ve come, indeed…」
Sensing that presence, he immediately began to shift locations.
An enormous magical power.
It seems the enemy commander had also started moving.
Using the teleportation gates for followers installed on each floor, he swiftly ascended upwards.
The skeletons and golems were locked in battle with the Demon King’s Army ahead.
Beyond them was a demon who was clearly on a different level than the rest.
His bare upper body was honed like steel.
Unarmed, he stood with his arms crossed just watching his subordinates fight from the rear.
Their eyes met.
「So you’ve come, it seems.」
Despite the distance, his voice rang clearly in his ears.
He must be using some kind of spell.
「Pleased to meet you, little armored one. I am the 7th Division Lea―――」
Rasetsu moved before his opponent could finish speaking.
In a flash, taking his head in one slash.
His stepping in without any preliminary motions closed the gap in an instant, seizing Almaty’s neck.
There, his blade stopped.
Halted by Almaty’s arm held out before him.
「Do you not understand the concept of style? Isn’t it normal in these situations for both sides to first announce themselves?」
Without a thought for such a thing, Rasetsu pours his strength in.
But the blade won’t budge further.
His tachi and Almaty’s arm were deadlocked in a hair’s breadth from intersecting.
「Nice… A sharp, deep sword with soul… Gets my blood pumping!」
The man cracked an eerie grin, reintroducing himself.
「Once again, I am the 7th Division Leader, the “Crust Beast” Almaty. I’ve got plenty of confidence in my toughness and endurance!」
「…This is the first defense to stop me, indeed.」
「Fufu… So I’m the first opponent to make you say that, huh?」
For some reason, a chill ran through Rasetsu’s body.
What was with that strange icy feeling just now?
「Well then, it’s my turn!」
Saying that, Almaty lashed out with his fist at Rasetsu.
The armor Rasetsu wore forged from Earth’s ultra hard materials was extremely sturdy. The more magic power poured in, the harder it became.
Attacks at the General-class or magic shouldn’t be able to put a scratch on it.
What Rasetsu felt was pain.
An intense agony like his internal organs were being churned, piercing through his whole body.
「How’s that, my punch? Pretty awesome right?」
Enduring the pain, Rasetsu looked to Almaty’s hand.
His fist had become as hard as steel.
「The stronger my opponent is, the more my body burns and hardens in response. Ever since I heard you defeated Vohu, I’ve been thinking about you. I wanted to fight you!」
Hearing those words shocked Rasetsu, even under his helmet.
He thought no one had seen that battle.
「That reaction… I knew it. I could smell Vohu’s scent on your weapon.」
It seems he had taken his bait completely.
He had been totally duped.
For his harmless looks, he was surprisingly formidable.
「It’s true I was interested in who defeated Vohu. And… you’re even more than I imagined! With you, I’m certain my burning body will find satisfaction!」
His scorching, clinging gaze now held Rasetsu in place.
「Such a wonderful figure…」
Again with the strange icy feeling.
Particularly around his rear this time.
For whatever reason, he felt an intense need to protect his buttocks.
Shaking off that sensation, Rasetsu imbued his armor and odachi with magical energy.
This time for sure, he would lop this guy’s head off!
「Fufu, nice magical power… Alright, let’s go!!」
The fierce battle between Rasetsu and 7th Division Leader Almaty began.
At that time,
In that other dungeon―――
「Ahh… I’m so booored…」
Looking into the face reflected in the teacup she cradled, Léna-Lloyd let out a small groan.
She had nothing to do.
Though technically only under house arrest rather than trapped, having little to do left her languishing in boredom. At first she entertained herself with board games and card games alone, but she soon tired of them.
『Fufufu, I wonder which card will cut it?』
『Hmm, which should I pick?』(Léna voice A)
『That one, that one! The right is better!』(Léna voice B)
『Hey, you just want me to pick cards that are good for you! You can’t do that!』(Léna voice C)
It was pretty fun at first, but at some point she started feeling sad and the tears flowed freely.
When the demon servant who brought her dinner saw the spectacle, for some reason she felt like committing suicide from embarrassment.
It’s not like she was actually sad or lonely or anything.
But the tears just came out since she’s a girl and all.
「I wonder if Agil and the rest are attacking Eli’s dungeon right about now… I wonder how Argios is doing too. He can be pretty hopeless so I gotta keep an eye on him and stuff…」
When humans spend a lot of time alone, their internal monologues tend to increase naturally.
It tricks the senses against the loneliness and preserves mental balance.
「Geez I’m soo booored… There’s nothing to dooo! Oh I know, maybe I should try to escape! Make a break for it outta here and head over to Eli’s dungeon!」
And these solo conversations tend to escalate in volume, as if wanting someone, anyone to hear them.
Craving some kind of reaction and attention from others, some kind of proof of one’s own existence here.
Such spirals of isolation plummet deeper into darkness endlessly, until some poor fish takes the lonely bait.
And Léna-Lloyd’s line happened to catch one.
「P-Please stop, no talk of escaping!」
The one entering with a slam of the door was a young demon girl with black hair, garbed in an ash gray robe.
Her looks were plain as Léna-Lloyd’s.
「Oh, it’s Anri! Yo!」
Léna-Lloyd welcomed the new arrival with a smile.
The 5th Division Leader, Anri Ayyu.
One of the few demons Léna-Lloyd could have a proper conversation with.
Ah, thank goodness. What would she have done if it was some demon she didn’t know?
And so, she busily prepared the board game.
The one they would play is that game where you can experience all kinds of lives.
「Eh? Huh? Miss Léna? Weren’t you planning to escape?」
Poor Anri couldn’t comprehend the situation at all.
「No way! I just shouted all that stuff out loud hoping that would make Anri come see me!」
And then the witch so casually said such a thing.
She was obviously a troublemaker.
「Y-You tricked me! Don’t pull this kind of lame joke! I’ll be going now―」
Anri tried to leave but naturally wasn’t allowed to escape.
「It’s fine, it’s fine. Agil will just laugh it off, ya know. Here’s your money. Right, you can go first.」
「I’m not playing along with this!」
「Then how about I kill Anri here, escape by myself? That fine with you?」
「W-What kind of threat is that!? You’re j-joking…right?」
But Léna-Lloyd simply smiled broadly.
In the end, teary eyed, Anri had no choice but to play games with Léna-Lloyd.
Humming a tune as if having someone to play with made her incredibly happy.
However, she was thinking something entirely different in her head.
（Let’s see, Eli and the rest must be nearing the final stages of their dungeon defense about now. The enemy commanders will probably get wiped out completely. In that case, Agil should start making his move soon too… Bringing Yamu and Aoba with him.）
While dealing out cards, Léna-Lloyd organized the situation in her mind.
Despite not being given any information whatsoever, she had grasped the current state of the battle with near total accuracy.
（If that’s the case―the situation should be transitioning to the next phase soon. Escaping then would be best. I said I’ll leave it to Agil and Zahak but… I’m gonna invite myself along too. I’m worried about Eli after all.）
「What’s wrong? You suddenly went quiet…」
Whoops, she had let herself get absorbed in her thoughts.
「Sorry, sorry, it’s nothing! Come on, let’s play, let’s playyy!」
Brushing it off casually, Léna-Lloyd tossed the dice.
She got soundly crushed but as expected, playing together with someone else was more fun than playing alone.
And then, an hour later―Léna-Lloyd escaped.
Seeing the empty room left behind, Anri broke down crying.
A quick note
The 4th Division Leader Asha of the Demon King’s Army.
A powerful warrior excelling in wide range annihilation attacks through fire magi
Possessing power on the Calamity-class, respected by all the other captains, but had all her scenes cut as she falls before Robun, Othel, and Ljung’s ultimate three-man technique, Eternal Flame of Darkness, Shadow, and Fusion Metal.
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