After the battle ended, I spent some time gazing at the gaping hole that had opened in the dungeon.
It’s so huge…
By the way, how am I supposed to fix my transformed claw and arm?
Should I ask Elibel about it?
Ah, but it sounds troublesome… Maybe it’s fine as it is…
No, that won’t do.
Thinking like this indicates that the effects of the drug have worn off considerably.
…Should I take another dose? No, I’m afraid of the side effects.
Oh no, my thoughts are returning back to normal.
I should take it quickly.
With that in mind, I search for the mortar with white powder, but it’s nowhere to be found.
『Huh… Where did it go? If I don’t have that white powder, I… I…』
I see Elibel muttering to herself while holding the mortar filled with white powder.
There it is!
My white powder!
I hurriedly rush over to Elibel.
『Elibel! Give me that powder! The effects of the drug are about to wear off! Quickly, quickly, give me that white powder! I can’t do without it!』
I’m totally sounds like a junkie, but who cares?
However, Elibel looks at me with a composed expression.
「No. The spinal bone of the Earth Dragon is very valuable. This is an important research material. Moreover, you’ve already licked it unnecessarily, so there’s very little left. I can’t waste any more. And look what have you become now. You hopeless junkie Earth Dragon.」
Saying that, Elibel keeps her distance from me.
She must have thought I would forcibly take it from her.
…Tsk, she read my mind.
『Sigh… There’s no helping it. I’ll prepare myself and wait for the effects to wear off…』
While scratching my head roughly, I made up my mind.
At that moment.
A shiver ran through me.
My magic sense detected the presence of an extremely dense magical power.
…What is this magical power!? It’s an unbelievable density!
I quickly glance at Elibel.
She seems to have noticed it too.
Unlike earlier, she has a serious expression.
「Something… is coming towards us at an incredible speed…」
『Yeah, but this magical power…』
「Yes… It’s an immense amount of magical power… at the level of a King… no, perhaps a Disaster-class. This magical power… could it be―――above us!」
Elibel and I look up.
A figure appears above us, causing confusion.
At an astonishing speed.
“That thing”… is heading straight toward us through the hole.
『Hmph, where is Ann?』
Black feathers that seem to swallow everything. Sharp beak and claws.
A figure resembling an enlarged crow.
One of the two great monsters that roam the Eld Desert, Accurate Crow, appeared.
This is bad… I have no magical power remaining left to fight…
『This is bad, Elibel. What should we do…?』
I look towards Elibel.
…Huh, she’s not here?
「Well then, Jiryuu! It was a short time, but I had fun! Goodbye!」
The wise sage immediately attempts to escape.
Dashing with the form of a track and field athlete.
How that body made only of muscle-less bones can go that fast?
…Hey, are you kidding me?!
『Hey, wait, you bastard!』
「I won’t wait! You have better flesh, so you’re a better target for its prey! Serve as my meat shield until I escape! …After all, it’s the duty of superior to protect his subordinate! Do your best, Jiryuu! You were the best!」
『Stop messing around! Don’t treat it like it’s already in the past! You can be the decoy! It’s also the duty of the subordinate to protect their superior!』
「You’re wrooong! I am merely a dungeon advisor and a temporary subordinate! I haven’t officially become one yet! Bleh!」
『You damn sage! In what world does a subordinate abandon their superior and run away?』
「If you say that, then in what world does a superior abandon their subordinate? You be the decoy! Worthless dragon! Are those weaponized claws and arms just decorations?」
『Without magical power, they’re just decorations! I don’t know how to disarm them! But more importantly, you be the decoy! Figure something out with that genius Sage (lol) brain of yours!』
「Ah, you definitely added (lol) after the sage just now! I’ll tell you, there’s no brain in this world greater than mine! Even though I don’t have a brain! Sacrifice yourself for my sake! My death would be a significant loss to this world!」
『No! You be the decoy!』
Amidst the extremely ugly quarrel, they keep their distance from Accurate Crow.
The gallant figure of the two who displayed a splendid combination when they unleashed the Dungeon Destruction Breath earlier is nowhere to be seen.
However, the Accurate Crow doesn’t attack us, but instead stares at us.
『…Is this farce over now?』
An imposing voice resonates in my head.
Could it be… this voice? The voice of Accurate Crow Crow?
『Ji- Jiryuu-sama! Is it possible that Heleb is… Accurate Crow is heading towards you!?』
Next, a signal is sent from Ann.
『Yeah, it’s right in front of me now. Ann… Do you know about this creature?』
Ann referred to it as Heleb.
Is it some kind of code, or simply its name?
Either way, Ann recognized this creature.
I look towards Accurate Crow, referred to as Heleb.
…It doesn’t seem like it intends to harm us.
『Ann, tell me what happened.』
I listened to Ann as she told me about the battle with Heleb, the agreement involving the White Wyvern, and how Heleb helped during the war.
『So, while I was half-asleep, some commotion happened, and an agreement was reached between Ann, Accurate Crow, and the White Wyvern…』
『Humu, something like that. Additionally, until just now, I was fighting against a spear-wielding adventurer—ah, her name is Beldi. But things got interrupted. She was taken by an old man from the Oni tribe. After that, I was circling around this area for a while when suddenly a vortex of light appeared. I thought something was happening, so I came to investigate.』
『An old man from the Oni tribe?』
『Yes, an aged Oni with two horns. But the magical power he possessed was no less than mine. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an Oni of that caliber. I would love to have a battle with him the next time we meet.』
As Heleb talks about it, his magical power crackles with intensity.
However, an old man of the Oni tribe…
Could it be the same old man who appeared in front of me with Wald and vanished without any warning?
『Well, the Oni tribe has many unique magics. After carrying Beldi, he disappeared in an instant, like a puff of smoke.』
『I see… Well, for now, I should express my gratitude. Thank you, Heleb, for helping Ann.』
I lowered my head to Heleb, but in that moment, an immense surge of magical power emanated from him.
『A leader should not bow so easily! It is a foolish act that tarnishes the dignity of the entire group!』
Despite expressing my gratitude, I was scolded.
『…However, I can appreciate the attitude of one who thinks of their subordinates and is willing to dirty themselves for their sake. I will overlook this matter. Now, raise your head quickly.』
…What’s up with this guy?
He’s such a pain.
『H-Heleb! How dare you yell at Jiryuu-sama… Even though you helped us, I cannot forgive such behavior!』
Oh, Ann and the others have arrived already.
Furthermore, I can sense my subordinates arriving one after another.
And this presence is…
「Father! Are you unharmed?」
It’s Una and Dos.
Both of them returned from the town.
『Are you both safe?』
Una and Doss told me what happened after our communication was cut off.
They encountered a woman on their way to the dungeon, then found a military force near the border and attacked them from behind.
They mentioned how the soldiers started fleeing along the way.
Finally, they found a tent that seemed to belong to someone important, but it was already abandoned.
『…I see. I’m sorry for making you both go through this.』
「No, there is nothing more important than your well-being, Father!」
The two of them responded to my words with exaggerated reactions.
Haha, they’re so adorable.
『By the way, Jiryuu-sama, I request permission to kill this crow. The crime of insulting Jiryuu-sama is severe, after all.』
It’s actually your words that are more severe…
Ann, since when did you start having such ominous thoughts?
『Hmph, don’t get so worked up. I was simply explaining to this fellow how a leader should behave.』
Heleb laughs dryly. You’re almost a dead man, you know that?
No, I mean, you were just yelling at me earlier about preaching the way things should be.
Like very angrily.
『That doesn’t mean you can insult Jiryuu-sama!』
『Hmm, your unwavering loyalty in always thinking of your master’s well-being is commendable. However, we can’t move forward until we address the main topic. For now, Jiryuu, tell me everything about the recent events and the cause behind them. I won’t tolerate any lies or deceit.』
Heleb speaks arrogantly, without hesitation.
『Well, fine then.』
I told Heleb everything about my conversation with Wald.
『I see… So that soul’s aura was that of a Dragon Slayer. No wonder I felt such immense magical power. And that skeleton, it was the renowned sage from the past… So, what do you all plan to do from here? Will you remain in this wasteland?』
Speaking in my place, Elibel spoke up.
「They have suffered significant damage as well. At the very least, we should be able to buy some time until we create a new dungeon. During that time, I will search for a location suitable for the next dungeon and we can move there.」
『Hmm, and how do you plan to move? I assume you won’t suggest traveling on foot with such a large group?』
「Of course not. I will use the ‘Teleportation Gates’ that lead to my dungeon. Two hundred years ago, when I created my own teleportation dungeon, I marked various locations around the world. Among them are caves and underground spaces that were not used for dungeons… I’ll have to investigate first whether they’re still exist. In the worst case, until the new dungeon is ready, we can temporarily live in my dungeon.」
『Can’t we just stay there forever?』
I voiced a half-hearted opinion.
「…Honestly, I can’t recommend it. Coexisting with the dungeon’s monsters would be difficult, and each floor isn’t spacious enough to accommodate this many people. It would require extensive remodeling. If that happens, abnormalities may occur in the Teleportation Gates, and the dungeon itself may become non-functional.」
Indeed, that would be a problem.
Well, Elibel’s dungeon doesn’t have a clear goal beyond the point we just cleared anyway.
「Anyway, from now on, I will connect to the magical corridors and archives of my dungeon to search for usable locations.」
『Understood. I’m counting on you.』
「Leave it to me.」
『Hmph, if the discussion is settled, then I shall take my leave. Ann, make sure to reach even greater heights by the time we meet next. Our agreement will not be dissolved even beyond the Eld Desert.』
『Yes, I understand.』
I can see sparks flying between the two.
Oh no, it’s getting heated.
Heleb spreads his wings and prepares to take off.
Before taking off, he looks at Ann one more time.
『…However, Ann. If you ever decide to give up on that master of yours, feel free to visit me. I could accept you into my clan as a servant. Are you tempted?』
『What did you say?!』
『Hmph, well then, farewell.』
Saying that, Heleb takes off at an incredible speed.
To the very end, he worries about the opponent he fought against…
Heleb… truly an incredible creature.
He gives off a boss-like vibe, just like the leader of a group.
I look at Ann.
She is bowing down and trembling.
『…I would never.』
Ann suddenly raises her face.
『I-I would never leave Jiryuu-sama. Please don’t take what that crow said seriously! It’ll never happen!』
『Huh…? Uh, yeah.』
Why is she so desperate?
And Una is looking at Ann with sparkling eyes, while Elibel is grinning and looking at me.
What’s going on?
『Oh… by the way, Elibel. What was it, the thing you said you’re gonna tell me after the operation?』
Feeling unable to bear the tension, I change the subject.
Which reminded me of the conversation Elibel had with Ann and Tres earlier.
Elibel said she would talk when everyone is here.
This is a good opportunity.
「Oh, about that.」
Saying that, Elibel scratches her bald head.
「…Actually, we all came up with a ‘name’ for you.」
「Yes, it would be inconvenient to keep calling you ‘Earth Dragon’ or ‘You’ from now on, right?」
No, it’s fine as it is.
As if understanding my thoughts, Elibel explained to me.
「Well, that’s just a pretext. The real purpose is to strengthen the connection between your magic corridor and ours. Remember when I mentioned that giving you a name would be a formal ceremony to become your subordinate?」
「This time, it’s the opposite. Using my power, I modified that ceremony so that we, your subordinate, can give you a name and officially make you our superior. It’s not about recognition but rather about strengthening the connection of our magic corridors.」
『I see, I understand now.』
So there’s a way to do it like that.
I guess it’s fitting for someone called a sage.
『…So, if that’s the case, the name has already been decided, right?』
「Yes, well, it was decided just a little while ago, actually. While you were relaxing after using the breath attack. We had several candidates, but in the end, we adopted the one suggested by Ann.」
「The one I suggested wasn’t chosen—」
Tres and Pururu say disappointedly.
『So, it’s the name Ann came up with… I see.』
So it was Ann’s idea….
I look at Ann.
The moment our eyes meet, Ann visibly panics.
『Um, well… But, you see, it would be presumptuous to use the name I came up with for Jiryuu-sama… It’s too audacious, so maybe—』
『No, that’s fine.』
I interject as Ann speaks.
Ann gets a “huh?” look on her face.
『Think about it, Ann. You were my first subordinate, and I gave you a name. So if I’m going to give myself a name, I think it’s only fitting that I choose the name you suggested, as you were my first.』
Ann trembles, overwhelmed with emotion.
Ah, it’s strange how words that I wouldn’t normally think of just come out naturally.
『Oh, by the way, is it okay with Una and Dos? They weren’t present when we discussed the names, right?』
「I’m fine with the name suggested by Ann,」 Una responds.
Seems like they’re fine with it too.
『Understood. In that case, I shall take on the name…』
Saying that, Ann looks at me.
Everyone turn their gaze toward me as well.
『Jiryuu-sama… No, Lord ‘Earth.’ From now on, please continue to guide me. It is an honor to be in your service.』
Ann bows deeply.
『Earth, huh… That sounds good. Alright, from today onwards, I am Earth. I would appreciate it if all of you would address me as such.』
Cheers and applause erupt from everyone.
The next moment,
an enormous surge of magical power flows into my body.
This is… the magical power of Ann and everyone.
The overwhelming flow of magical power rages within me.
It’s incredible… This must be the power of “naming.”
「Earth… It means ‘the one who reaches for the stars,’ ‘the great one.’ It’s a word that carries significance. Normally, you would be completely overshadowed by your own name, but considering the current circumstances… Well, I think it’s fitting.」
Elibel remarks, nodding in agreement.
「In that case, Earth, please communicate our future plans to everyone.」
『Sure, got it.』
I respond, turning my gaze back to everyone.
『Um… Listen, everyone. The dungeon we have built so far has been destroyed. Starting from today we’re going to build a new dungeon. I know it will be challenging, and it may cause inconvenience to all of you, but I’m asking for your help. Please lend me your strength.』
I say, bowing my head to them.
『Please raise your head, Lord Earth.』
Ann immediately speaks up.
『I have said it before. Our existence is solely for your sake. The place where you belong is our place. Therefore, instead of saying ‘please,’ please give us your ‘command.’ For we are your servants.』
The other ants and golems nod in agreement.
However, I slowly shake my head.
『It may be true in a sense. But you are still my family. That’s why, even though you ask me to ‘command,’ I prefer to ask properly. I believe that’s the connection, the bond, I have with all of you,』
As Ann and the others show deeply moved expressions, Elibel rests her chin on her hand, seemingly lost in thought.
I wonder what she’s thinking about, and then she speaks up.
「Sigh… Can things really change to this extent?… Let’s try researching if there’s a way to make the effect of the spine permanent.」
『Oh, seriously, I’m counting on you for that,』 I respond.
The recoil is frightening.
I look at everyone, my subordinate, once again.
『Well then, shall we do it? Let’s create our new dungeon!』
Ooooooooooh!! A resounding cheer erupts.
Starting from scratch once again.
Nevertheless, I believe we can make it work.
Because now, I have my subordinate by my side.
With them, I can overcome any situation that comes our way.
So let’s give it our all. For the sake of everyone who gave me a name.
As the Earth Dragon, as Earth.
To live leisurely.
I decide to keep doing my best in this world.
And thus, I take the first step forward.
And at that moment, the effect of the powder wore off.
I shouted, overwhelmed by mental exhaustion, before losing consciousness.
「Puru?!」(Which translated into (Darling?!’)
「Hey, hey, Earth.」
「Well, this is quite troublesome, isn’t it?」
…Afterwards, I remained in a state of complete exhaustion for several days. However, thanks to Elibel’s magical hypnotic treatment and the devoted care of Ann and the others, I managed to recover.
By the way, due to the side effects of taking a large quantity of the drug, I am apparently in a semi-awakened state at all times. But oddly enough, this may have turned out for the best in the end.
Regardless, in this way, I… no, we took another step forward.
I must say, our inability to do things properly somehow feels very much like me.
Our dungeon creation is just beginning!
Next time, we will have the epilogue from the Prime Minister’s side, marking the end of Chapter 3.
By the way, here is a description of the aftermath and the scene of care by Ann and the others:
Earth: 『Aah… daww…』
Ann: 『Yes, yes, let’s eat the magic stones for your meal, Lord Earth.』
Earth『Auu…munch munch… Ahya! Ahya hahaha! Hahaha!』
Elibel「Tsk! His emotions are running wild again! Berg, restrain him!」
Berg「Leave it to me!」
Earth『Aah… mackerel miso… fishnet… Fuhii! Fuhyahyahya! Fwoo~ Hyahohoho!』
Elibel「No good… Let’s proceed with the hypnotic treatment! Ann, Berg, help me!」
Ann & Berg「『Roger!』」
It seems there was such an exchange, or maybe not.