We change locations.
Elibel, Ann and I are in the surveillance room.
Everyone else are on standby at the combat arena in the depths.
First, Elibel operates a terminal extending from a brilliantly colored sphere, making a pseudo-dungeon core appear in the surveillance room.
It has turned into an even deeper black sphere than when I last saw it.
It’s like a black hole that swallows everything.
And the size has also increased.
Has this thing grown?
Elibel happily strokes the black sphere.
「This one has also learned a lot and can now create more golems and weapons. Earth, Ann, pour your magical power into it.」
『Eh? Magical power?』
Wasn’t it that once you pour magical power into this pseudo-dungeon core, it grows on its own?
「Why the surprised face? To put it simply, it’s for performance improvement. We’ll let it learn Earth’s magical power and Ann’s combat experience. I really want to take more time, but this is all we can do for now. It’s better than not doing it at all, right?」
『That makes sense. Understood. I just need to touch this sphere, right?』
Without hesitation, Ann touches the pseudo-dungeon core.
How manly. Despite being an ant.
A faint light shines and the magical power is drawn from Ann’s body.
『Next is my turn.』
I also touch the pseudo-dungeon core.
Whoa! The magical power is drawn out with great intensity.
It took almost eighty percent at once.
Phew… Having your magic power drained all at once is quite tiring.
Looking over, Ann is also breathing heavily. She must be tired.
I hand Ann a magic stone, prepared as a tea-time snack.
『Ann, eat this to restore your magical power.』
『Ah, thank you.』
The sound of biting into the magic stone echoes.
「Good job both of you, now we can mass produce even better quality golems.」
Looking at the screen, new golems were being created one after another.
Golems that have accumulated my abundant magical power and Ann’s combat experience.
There are various types and numbers.
There are some that look like Senju, and some that are as big as Gonzo.
Furthermore, each one is equipped with some kind of weapon.
If humanoid, swords, bows, shields, if animal-type, full body armor and armed horseshoes.
Probably, the pseudo-dungeon core is learning and creating based on my Armamentization and drawing mannequin. Amazing.
Then, I suddenly wondered.
『Hey, Elibel. If we let everyone else touch this, wouldn’t the performance improve even more?』
Elibel scratches her head, as if she had anticipated the question.
「Ah, I’d love to, but it’s impossible in the current situation. If we pour everything in at once, the pseudo-dungeon core won’t be able to withstand the information pressure. Right now, it’s just enough for Ann and you.」
『I see, then it can’t be helped.』
It’s a pity.
「If we can safely get through this situation, I’ll get everybody to do it one at a time. It is quite delicate. It took a long time to stabilize it as it is.」
This sphere is that delicate?
It doesn’t look like that at all.
「Then, Ann, please take command. I will be in charge of computational processing and the traps.」
With that, the two take their positions.
Ann is in the center of the surveillance room. Elibel is on the side.
It’s like the command center of a secret organization.
Oh by the way, my position is in the corner of the room.
I’m just a side dish, but that’s probably just my imagination.
I want to believe it is.
Ann and Elibel begin to send thought transmissions to the golems on each floor and those who are waiting in the arena.
『Golems, start moving according to my instructions! 32 animal types and 40 drawing mannequin types to Area 1, the first floor of the middle layer, insect types, drawing mannequin types to Area 2―――』
「I will start moving the mobile traps. Make sure the golems don’t get involved. Berg, support them on the scene.」
『Una, you also go to the middle layer. Please spread the mist and the poison fog with wind.』
『Understood. Got it, Ann!』
『Dos, please monitor the forest area with the four chiefs.』
『Tres and Pururu, the two of you stay in the deep layer. Let’s have the crushing death by Pururu’s clones be the final touch.』
Ann gives instructions while Elibel is acting as a support.
Each of them is busy moving around, and the defense preparation is steadily getting in place.
I look at the images of Wald and his group.
They are still halfway through the surface dungeon.
At this pace, we have plenty of time for defense preparation.
Elibel looks at me.
「Earth, I’ve temporarily expanded the magical corridor to everyone. Please supply them with magical power.」
『Yes, I understand.』
I send my enormous magical power to them.
It’s temporary doping.
With this, everyone will surely become stronger.
The amount consumed is immediately replenished by eating magic stones.
Munch, munch… hmm, delicious.
But, I was quite drained by the pseudo-core earlier.
Now, there’s hardly ten percent of magical power left.
But, we made it in time for the preparations.
Now, all we have to do is wait for Wald and the others to reach the middle layer.
Looking at the footage, they’re currently on the fifteenth floor.
It’ll still take time for them to reach the middle layer.
Fufufu, I’ll pay back that damn dragon slayer for what he did.
I show a sinister smile.
The teleportation destination from the surface dungeon has been set as well.
The place you guys will teleport to isn’t the normal middle layer dungeon.
It’s a hellish dungeon where my and Elibel’s tastes have exploded!
Thousands of enhanced armored golems.
Special environmental areas that are even harsher than nature itself.
Countless traps like automatic homing magic and mobile mine spells.
Special floors that suck up magic power and physical strength just by walking and have the air removed, creating a vacuum.
Moreover, once you teleport in, the entrance closes and you can never leave again.
Frankly speaking, even with me powered up with white powder, it’s an absolutely impossible super dungeon to conquer.
HAHAHAHA! This is the end, Dragon Slayer!
You better hurry up and dive into the middle layer!
I’ll have you atone for the sin of wrecking my home!
Thinking this in my mind, I watch their movements.
But then, Wald and his team take an unexpected action.
『――――Well, we’ve come quite deep, maybe we should head back for now.』
『You’re right. We’ve been diving for almost a whole day. It’s probably time to turn around. I’m worried about Master too, let’s return to the surface for now.』
Wait, hold on! Eh?
『Well, even so, this dungeon is quite profitable, isn’t it? Look at all the magic stones we’ve acquired. We’ve also found some good weapons.』
『Indeed, the enemies that appear are weak golems, and the magic stones and weapons found in the treasure chests are of high quality. This might unexpectedly be a good money-making dungeon.』
『It might not compare to ‘Fáfnir’, but a dungeon where you can earn this much isn’t common. Once the matter with Master is resolved, shall we stay here for a while?』
『Well, we can think about that later. Have the mapping finished already?』
『It’s done. Alright then, Beldi. Assist me with magic.』
『O’ Wind, give us the speed of a gust.』
『Okay, let’s hurry back. If we push hard, can we make it in half a day?』
『We’ll make it in three hours.』
『Haha, you said it. Well, let’s head back!』
Saying so, they literally return at the speed of wind.
Even the golems they encounter on the way are completely ignored, and they race to the upper layer with full force.
The dungeon becomes silent.
The three of us stare at the scene blankly.
An indescribable atmosphere hangs in the air.
Why are they leaving already?
We were so prepared, you know?
To kill you guys.
『They… went back, didn’t they?』
Ann’s sentence ends in a question.
Well, yeah. I understand how you feel?
We’ve prepared so much and given such a buildup, so it’s natural to think that way when they just leave.
『Uh, any changes in the orders for the pursuit or the golems on the surface?』
Ann looks at Elibel.
Elibel shakes her head.
「It’s impossible… In the first place, because the surface dungeon was made for the general public, the golems that can be produced are all weak. Changing the settings now would take a week.」
『So… we just let them go?』
「That seems to be the case… In the end, we didn’t have to deploy excessive force, so perhaps we should consider that a good thing. We’re still unclear about their purpose for coming here, so in a way, we could say it’s all right… maybe?」
Elibel’s sentence ends in a question too.
We’ve been completely ignored.
I guess it can’t be helped.
『Hmm… Well, anyway, if they have gone back, that’s good enough…』
I let out a sigh of relief.
What a letdown, but I’m fine with that as long as they leave.
The weapons and magic stones left on the surface are not a significant loss to us.
「Earth, don’t let your guard down, alright? We still don’t know their clear intention. There’s a high possibility they will come again. Well, from their behavior, it didn’t seem like they were after you or Ann. We’ll have Una investigate later.」
『Well, that’s certainly true.』
It felt as if they were simply adventurers, earnestly challenging the dungeon.
We couldn’t confirm the presence of a dungeon-destroying weapon like Leviathan, and neither my name nor Ann’s was mentioned in their conversations.
There’s no solid proof, but I don’t think their target was Ann or me.
Knowing that alone is a relief.
Now that I’ve relaxed, I feel hungry.
I guess I’ll eat some magic stones.
「Ann, sorry but can you head to the middle layer? I’ll explain the situation, please take charge of the scene… for the cleanup.」
Ann and Elibel seem somewhat dissatisfied.
Ann dives into the teleportation gate and head towards the middle layer.
I munch on the magic stones as I watch the footage.
『Sigh, anyway, it’s good that we didn’t suffer any damage.』
『Of course, those guys are like a trauma to me, it’s really helpful that they went back.』
―――――――Hehe, you’re an intriguing dragon. It’s fun watching you.
『Well, I get told that often.』
「…Earth, who are you talking to?」
Her words bring me back to reality.
I look around.
In the surveillance room, there’s only Elibel and me.
Huh? Who was I talking to just now?
『…That voice just now, it wasn’t you… Elibel?』
「Voice? What are you talking about? You suddenly started talking to yourself.」
Elibel sends a dubious gaze my way.
Hmm, that’s odd?
I thought I heard a voice just now…?
As I thought this, I turn my eyes back to the footage.
Then, something peculiar was reflected there.
――――It’s a girl.
A white, semi-transparent girl is standing in the place where Wald and the others had left.
She’s smiling, and for some reason, it feels as if her gaze is directed here.
An eerie chill ran down my spine.
―――――See you again, Mr Lizard.
Suddenly, I thought I heard such a voice.
Just like before, that voice.
『Elibel, who’s this? She’s kind of transparent, one of your wraiths?』
As I point to the footage, I look at Elibel.
「Who? Where? There’s no one in the footage!」
Hearing her words, I look back at the screen.
Indeed, there was nobody reflected there, only the inorganic walls of the dungeon were projected.
『Huh? That’s strange』
I rewind and watch it again, but the footage is the same.
The white girl is not there.
…Did I see it wrong?
「…Earth, what’s really going on with you?」
Perhaps thinking it was really strange, Elibel turns to me.
『Well… Maybe I’m just tired? My magical power was suddenly drained earlier. I’m gonna take a nap.』
「…If that’s the case, then that’s fine. If anything happens, let me know right away.」
『Ah, I understand.』
Saying so, I leave the surveillance room.
Suddenly, I felt like I heard that laughter again.
『Hmm… Hallucinations, am I that tired…?』
Listening to the lingering sound of that voice that strangely remained in my ear, I head towards the bedroom.
Looking back later, this was probably the first contact.
Between me and the girl known as the “Pathless”.
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