On the top floor of the dungeon――――
The sound of slashing echoes.
Ann used her sword to parry the attack.
From time to time, Ann distance herself and use Acid Spear, of which Beldi easily dodges.
The woman adventurer, as if her anger had receded, repeated the long-distance bombardment of stabbing and wind magic.
―――――Where are you aiming at?
Suddenly, her opponent stopped attacking.
The female adventurer looks pissed after she missed her attack.
「Tsk, what is the meaning of this, Eclair…？ Why did you let the soldiers and adventurers inside when the mapping hasn’t finished yet…… What the hell were you thinking?!」
When she said that, Ann also noticed something odd.
The number of souls.
The number of intruders is increasing.
They probably used Fly or some other magic to enter through the fissure to invade the lower floors.
This is bad.
Because of the constant moving and fighting, Ann was now quite a distance away from the fissure’s opening.
That’s why I am late to notice.
I can’t believe they’re adding more forces to this situation…..
The top and middle floors can still be dealt with.
Ann’s antlings, golems made by Jiryuu, led by Senju and various animal-shaped golem homunculus.
It’s true that we’ve been hit hard by this unforeseen situation, but there is still a lot of us who can fight.
I can leave it to them to protect the top and middle floors.
But there’s only Jiryuu-sama at the bottom.
A mere adventurer could never defeat him.
But all he wants is peace.
Nothing in the dungeon should prevent this, least of all the handiwork of Jiryuu-sama himself.
That is to say, their existence as his subordinates will be meaningless.
That is why Ann had to go to him as soon as possible.
『I need to go there immediately!!』
She pours magical power into her sword and cloak.
And slash the enemy right in front of her.
Beldi shoots her spear.
Meanwhile, adventurer Beldi, too, was inwardly upset.
When Beldi and Wald jumped into the dungeon, they scattered dozens of familiar spirits entrusted to them by Eclair to map the dungeon.
Which are in the shape of a bat that can use ultrasound.
Apparently, according to him, it was completed only recently, just like the earlier super large-scale teleportation.
When he handed it to her, Beldi thought the timing was too perfect. But she said nothing because it was convenient.
It was unexpected that it was such a big dungeon, but after “Dungeon Destruction”, it was expected that the mapping would only take a few hours.
After all, each floor can be mapped, ignoring any restriction.
We’ll crush the bosses and let the knights sweep up the rest.
That’s the way it was supposed to be.
It has not even been an hour, let alone ten minutes, since the dungeon was destroyed.
It’s unsettling how calm the soldiers and adventurers are even before we arrived. But now that we’re here, that feeling grew stronger.
Something doesn’t feel right…….
This is not the plan Wald made.
Something felt strange to Beldi, as if one important piece had been left out.
「But let’s save that for later! 」
That’s right. Your sister’s murderer is right in front of you.
Don’t get lost in your thought now.
Just focus on what’s in front of you.
Defeat the enemy.
Only on that one point did Ann and Beldi’s thoughts coincide.
The red magical power surges from Beldi’s spear, Gungnir.
Ann takes a stance.
It’s that attack she fired at me earlier.
A thrust of high-density magical power released from the tip of the javelin.
The next moment, a red flash is fired from Beldi’s spear.
I can dodge it.
It is certainly fast and powerful.
Still, it does not feel as intimidating as Heleb’s 『Flame Armor』.
A flash of light passed by Ann and went straight through several walls.
Immediately after she used her skill, there’s a large opening.
Ann tried to give “instructions”.
But — Beldi’s face changed.
「I see what you’re trying to do. O Wind, be the arrows of the storm and pierce my enemies! 」
Countless wind blades appeared suddenly.
Wind attribute advanced-class magic 『Wind Slash』
It is not as powerful as Heleb’s wind blades.
Still, it was powerful enough to cut “the walls”.
Ann grinds her teeth.
From within the shattered walls, sticky, dead Killer Ants tumble out from the ceiling.
「I see. I guess this is why you were distracting me single-handedly. Most likely intending to have all these ants spray me with an acid solution at the same time, the moment you caught me off guard. 」
With a slash, Beldi put a stop to the ants that were still breathing.
With a gurgling and unpleasant sound, the antlings died.
「Unfortunately, I’m not stupid enough to be fooled by such childish tricks. 」
Beldi laughs fearlessly.
Damn it, it works before against Heleb…！
As expected of humans. They are more intelligent than birds.
The surprise attack failed.
But there’s still Plan B.
Crack, there was a cracking sound.
「…… What was that? 」
Beldi wondered if it was brittle from the cracks in the ground earlier.
However, she was wrong.
The next moment, the ceiling above Beldi collapsed.
Including the floor.
「…… A pitfall? It’s too late for something like this…」
That’s right, a pitfall is not very useful for an opponent who can use Fly.
While Ann was fighting, she had her antlings to search for living beings in the dungeon traps.
She led Beldi to one of the designated locations.
It’s a trap designed to distract the enemy.
We’re just getting started.
『GOLEM SQUAD, FIRE!!!』
Aside from the falling rubbles, countless arrows made of stone were shot at Beldi.
「―――Where are these arrows coming from?!」
With only one eye, Beldi saw it.
There was another wall further in from the ants she just killed with magic.
「A double layer structure…… I see. 」
Golems were lurking inside of them.
Just like the Killer Ant, they can also hide their presence.
They are blocks of stones powered by magical power.
Hence, if the magical power is extinguished, its existence is completely reduced to a mere stone.
The golems, under Ann’s command, turned into stones, waiting for the right moment.
And the moment the time is ripe, the moment you think you have seen through your opponent’s tricks, is the moment you let your guard down the most.
Stone arrows rain down on Beldi.
『This is the end――――』
「You called this a surprise attack? 」
Suddenly, Beldi’s spear, Gungnir, stretches.
Literally growing long.
The spear, extending in a flash, came precisely toward Ann in a hail of arrows.
It changes its trajectory towards me like a snake.
The counterattack was unexpected.
―――――――I can’t avoid it!
The spear pierces Ann’s abdomen.
However, even after it pierced her, the spear does not stop expanding and contracting.
Ann was pushed upward through layers of floor.
Finally, the spear struck her body against a sheer rock above ground, where it finally stopped.
She tries to pull out the spear stuck in her abdomen, but it was useless.
A trickle of fluid oozes from the penetrated abdomen.
Her appearance is like that of pinned insect specimens.
「 It would be impossible for you to pull it out. It was said that this spear even once pinned a Calamity-class monster to the ground. It specializes in piercing the enemy and blocking its movement. 」
Looking down, she saw Beldi.
She has several stone arrows stuck on her body.
Which doesn’t hinder her movement at all.
Meaning that the arrows hit none of her vital organs.
Her single functional eye looks at Ann with hatred.
「You’re telling me this was the monster who killed my little sister, Paldi?」
「That’s right. She was the adventurer you killed a month ago. That earth dragon sword in your hand is the same sword I gave to her.」
That what’s the murderous intent directed at me was about?
Then it clicked.
『Pant……Pant……So you came here for revenge…… is that it? 』
「Indeed I am.」
The hand that grips the spear is full of strength.
She pushes the spear forward.
Which causes Ann to groan in agony.
「She was not supposed to die in a place like this. Especially not by the like of you! 」
Unfulfilled anger and hatred can be seen in her eye.
Beldi still thinks about it.
If I had been there for her, she would not have died.
I could have protected them.
To begin with, Beldi was against Paldi’s decision to become an adventurer.
To her, Paldi was her only hope.
I was happy when she said she wanted to become an adventurer, just like me.
I was dazzled by the way she knew the reality and still foolishly tried to be strong.
She hates adventurers, but not the smile of her sister.
I envied my sister, who had irreplaceable friends from the Silver Crow.
I smiled when my sister rose to prominence after a half-hearted fight with one of her party members.
Her sister’s way of life was dazzling to Beldi.
Unlike me, who can only kill monster and bathe in blood as an adventurer.
That is why Beldi distanced herself from her sister.
I never contact her. I kept trying to keep her away from me.
And she died.
Killed by this monster. In the middle of nowhere. In a place, she doesn’t belong.
Wald had said this to her.
『Stop thinking pointless things. 』
As long as you are an adventurer, death will always haunt you.
You’re responsible for your own death.
You could say it’s a way of life no different from that of a monster living in the wild.
Still, Beldi was not convinced.
All that remains is regret.
I couldn’t help but be angry.
I couldn’t help but hate it.
I had to take these feelings out on someone to keep my sanity.
「That’s why……I cannot forgive you, who took my sister away from me!」
She puts all her strength into her spear.
Fluid spills from Ann’s mouth.
More cracks appear on the pierced flank.
Her consciousness gradually fades.
「I will kill you, and that is the only way I can make amends to my sister…」
Hearing those words, Ann becomes conscious again.
「What did you say? 」
Eye filled with hatred turned to Ann.
Ann doesn’t look away.
『So, you were……her family… Do you think……by killing me……it will correct your mistakes? 』
「It will. 」
But Ann snickered at her.
『All I can say is……that is stupid…. Above all, what you are saying is an…”insult” to your sister…』
Ann puts her hand covered with blood on the spear.
『If you had been there…… will your sister still be alive? Pant……Pant…… Isn’t that more proof than anything that you didn’t believe in her……?』
「……How dare you! 」
『You didn’t make the effort to face it…. Someone like you……will never be able to protect anything.』
That is why, Ann continues.
『I believe……that surely, one day, he will see me……not just as…GAHAA…！』
A large amount of bodily fluid is gushing out from her mouth.
『Not just……Pant……Pant..…As someone who defend the dungeon……But as…“Ann”……That is why I still and will continue to offer him my undying respect and affection, because that is the only “bond” I have with him, the one that saved me.』
「What are you trying to say? 」
Ann looks straight at Beldi.
『Avenging your sister? You simply want to relieve your sorrow. It was never for her; it was for yourself――――！』
I get it now.
Finally, Ann realized why she could dodge her spear since the beginning of the fight.
The reason she has surpassed it until now, despite its tremendous performance as a sacred weapon.
Her spear is light.
Her blade does not carry the same weight as Heleb flame.
There is no pride; there is no desire to recognize and overthrow its opponent.
Just a light, single, self-satisfied spear.
That’s all there’s to it.
『……In a sense, I am the same. Self-satisfaction…to satisfy my desire to see him. And I can’t afford to lose to you now. 』
Ann grips the sword with all her strength.
『I will do what I must. I won’t let myself be done by a blade without a weight of pride! 』
That’s right, I can’t lose here.
I must live.
To protect and live together with him.
I want him to see me as Ann.
BUSHUOOOO! A large amount of fluid gushes out from Ann’s side.
Ann uses her sword to cut the body part that stuck in place.
Released herself from the spear which had bound her.
As she hit the ground, she rolls out the impact.
I’m losing consciousness again.
I’ve lost too much blood.
Beldi watched her in silence.
She doesn’t even move a finger while Ann is escaping.
「……I never thought I’d hear a monster-like person talk about pride…….I feel like I’m talking to “that” guy. 」
Beldi holds up her spear.
「But this is the end for you.」
Once more, Gungnir glows red.
I can’t avoid it this time.
I must attack her.
Ann holds up her sword.
I will live, and I will win.
And just as the flash was about to be released from Gungnir.
GUOOO! Roaring winds rolled in.
It must have been unexpected for Beldi.
Gusty winds blew in.
What just happened?
A voice echoed inside her head.
『Hmph, what a shameful display, Ann! You don’t deserve to be head of the black ant if you act like this!』
I looked up.
There he was――――a lone giant crow clads in flames.
Heleb, the leader of the Accurate Crow, was there.