Side Story 5: Paldi’s Exciting Nightmarish Dungeon Exploration Journal! Part 3
Did I mistype the title?
The dungeon was more complex than they expected.
The passage has a lot of forks with a bumpy and mushy path.
Which is similar to an ant nest.
However, it’s large enough for several people to walk side by side.
With plenty of space to walk.
The dungeon was relatively bright.
There are light gemstones everywhere.
They were probably used by Killer Ants in place of light source.
「We’re pretty deep inside but the ants aren’t coming out.」
Whispered Basak at the very front.
She can sense the Killer Ant nearby.
Probably lurking somewhere.
「……… This place gives me the creep.」
「We went quite far but the Killer Ants haven’t attacked us yet. What’s going on in here?」
Killer Ant is a species that relies on numbers.
It’s a monster that’ll never fight alone.
Usually, the nest will be full of Killer Ants.
In fact, all the Killer Ant nests they have defeated so far have been flooded with Killer Ants from the entrance to the deep queen’s dwelling.
Despite that, not even a single Killer Ant came after them.
They become rather vigilant because of it.
After that, they continued to explore the dungeon while watching the surroundings.
However, the Killer Ant did not come out at all.
Only the suspicious black wall shone under the light gemstones.
And after a while, they arrived at a large room.
「This room is very large.」
「And the brightness here is completely different. It’s like daytime.」
A black tiled room the size of 10 melds.
In the center, a stone statue resembling a lion was placed on a black pedestal.
「Paldi, any idea what that might be?」
Rail asks before entering the spacious room.
「I think it’s a golem.」
「You’re right. I can feel the magical power coming from that statue.」
Lele seems to agree.
「So you’re saying it will move the moment we enter the room? That’s a dungeon trap for you.」
「You can say that again.」
Both Basak and Baldroy agreed.
「Hmm, based on its magical power, I think it’s a lower-class golem. To be honest, this is my first time seeing a golem inside a Killer Ant nest. 」
Rail’s nod is slightly delayed upon hearing Lele’s view.
「What we’re waiting for. Let’s go.」
With that said, the Silver Crow tried to enter the floor.
Paldi then follows suits.
At that moment,
Their body suddenly shakes in fear.
Paldi can’t help but tremble.
She broke out in a cold sweat.
This is bad! Something is coming!
「Wind, become wings! Release us from the chain of gravity!」
It was an instant reflex.
Paldi instinctively used Fly on everyone.
And it was the right decision.
There was a crunching sound.
Right before they floated, there was a strange sound coming from Basak’s feet.
Like something was bitten off.
Basak looks at his feet.
One of them was not there anymore.
There was nothing left below his left ankle.
Slowly, they float higher.
And the blood dripped from his ankle.
Finally, Basak realized what’s just happened to him.
His scream reverberates inside the dungeon.
Rail tries to understand the situation while stabilizing himself in midair.
Then, he saw it.
It was an ant.
There’s an ant head where Basak’s foot was.
Its sharp fang is holding his foot.
And then, more Killer Ant appeared one after another.
From the wall, ground and ceiling.
Cling, their fangs rings.
Paldi finally realized.
「Impossible, they erased their presence of magical power!!」
Yes, the Killer Ants were there from the beginning.
They just couldn’t see them.
That’s right, the walls, the ceiling, the floor, all of them were Killer Ants.
「You gotta be kidding… Right?」
It was Baldroy who muttered so.
Killer Ants flowed into the room.
The walls, the floor, and the ceiling were all filled with Killer Ants.
Not only the room, but the passage they took before also turned into Killer Ants. They’re surrounded by a hundred Killer Ants at once.
The golem placed on the pedestal also begins to move.
The most unexpected situation.
Neither the number of Killer Ant nor the golem is the problem.
It was the thing right before that. It was never heard of monsters hiding their presence of magical power.
Especially when it’s done by the lowest class of monster, Killer Ants.
But the Silver Crow is an A-rank party.
They adapt quickly to it.
By flying, they stay close together and move to the center of the room.
「Incinerate all, Great Flame! 」
Lele chants, burning off the Killer Ants falling from above.
Intermediate magic Great Flame. It’s impossible for the falling Killer Ants to avoid it.
Nearly ten Killer Ants turned into ash.
But more are still alive.
「Wind, become a sword! Cut through my enemies!」
Then, Paldi attacks.
It’s a wide-range skill called Blade Dance.
An intermediate skill that generates countless wind blades over a wide area.
Its damage is low but its attack range is much higher than Great Flame.
Killer Ants are being cut one after another.
Paldi wind skill is much better when it comes to dealing with a great number of enemies.
The lion golem and the ants then tried to bite them by climbing on top of each other.
But Baldroy repels them.
While Rail slashes them.
The approaching ant then was cut into two.
Then, Rail quickly gave them instructions.
「Lele, stay alert of enemies coming from above and protect Basak!」
「Basak, how long will it take to stop the bleeding?」
「One minute, no, thirty seconds!」
「Understood. Paldi, how much longer do we have?」
「Three minutes left. But I need one minute to use Fly again after that! 」
「Understood. We’ll secure a foothold within these three minutes! We were caught by surprise but that won’t change anything! Let’s do it!」
For a while after that, it was a fierce battle with Killer Ant.
Paldi and members of the Silver Crow worked hard to attack the Killer Ant and gradually secured the ground.
Three minutes passed, and the effect of Fly expired.
The five of them landed on the ground after making sure it’s not a Killer Ant.
And they found themselves surrounded by them.
「There are still more. What do we do?」
Hearing that, Basak equipped himself with two daggers after he stopped the bleeding.
He created an emergency prosthetic using the earth magic, Alchemy.
Apparently, he had no problem fighting.
Rail looks at both of them.
「We’re going to make a path using both of your magic. Fire and Wind goes well together. Think you can do it? 」
「Of course. 」
「No problem here.」
It’s their first time using the skill after six months but not a hint of difficulty shows on their face.
Alright, Rail tightly grip his sword.
「Don’t worry, everyone will protect you while you’re chanting!」
And Rail cuts down the lion golem.
The lion made out of stone then split in half.
「As expected, it’s not strong at all! Okay, who’s next!」
The moment he said so, something strange happened.
Killer Ants began to retreat.
As if what happened a moment ago is a lie.
But something much worse struck them.
Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!
It’s the sound of Killer Ants chewing on something.
It sounded quite clear despite the sound of retreating Killer Ants.
The moment they thought so.
There was a rumble.
It’s the ceiling.
The ceiling is falling.
And even more surprising, the floor as well.
The ground they’re standing slowly starts to collapse.
It’s collapsing, they felt.
「I’m going to make a barrier! Everyone, stay close!」
Paldi gathered everyone and quickly built a wind barrier.
The rock that hits the barrier quickly loses its momentum.
They managed to protect themselves from falling rocks but not from the collapsing floor.
「Ouch. Where are we?」
They fell into a room which was twice larger than the room they were in before.
They were slightly injured from the fall, but they can still move.
After confirming that everyone’s safe, Paldi checked herself.
All her equipment is safe. Barely enough.
「The bracelet and magic stone Mr Eclair gave me are still safe.」
Paldi touched the bracelet she wore on her left wrist.
「Now that you mention it, what’s with that bracelet?」
「I got this with the magic stone from Mr Eclair. He told me it will be useful in my journey.」
「Hm, it looks like a normal bracelet to me.」
「But it has magical power in it. I think it’s a some kind of magic item.」
「What, you didn’t ask what effect it has?」
「You two, this is not the time to flirt, we need to grasp our situation first.」
Paldi immediately denied his claims.
They scanned the floor again.
There are fewer light gemstones than before.
However, the light gemstone which had fallen together at the same time as the floor collapse lit up here and there.
「This room… Is it made out of ants too?」
Basak looks at the floor as if remembering the fear from before.
「No, this floor seems to be real. But, what is this place? What just happened?」
No matter how much they think about it, the floor collapsing just now isn’t a coincidence.
Furthermore, the sound they heard just before that is the sound of someone trying to break something.
「No way, did the Killer Ants did this?」
Impossible, muttered Paldi.
But the timing is too good.
It’s as if they were waiting for Paldi skill Fly to end.
「But that’s impossible.」
In the first place, it was never heard of monsters destroying their own dungeon just because they want to kill the intruders.
There’s no way for the Killer Ant, the lowest class of monster, to show such a degree of intelligence.
Furthermore, they are able to erase their own presence and mimic the floor, ceiling and wall that can even deceive a party of high rank adventurers.
Except that, it’s now happening to them.
Everything about this dungeon is strange.
Out of the ordinary.
Rail calls out to Paldi, who mumbles and mutters to herself.
「Paldi, sorry if you’re in the middle of something but it looks like the enemy is here.」
Paldi then snapped out.
Rail is pointing in a direction.
It was not a Killer Ant.
But something much worse.
「What is that thing?」
Paldi can’t believe her eyes.
What she saw was a huge humanoid golem with more than a hundred arms.
The reappearance of Senju Kanon golem. Next chapter will be the conclusion.
Ann: Jiryuu-sama! Jiryuu-sama, the intruders are coming!
Jiryuu-sama: Hmm… Mackerel miso… Mackerel miso… (Zzzz)
Ann: Everyone! Jiryuu-sama is saving his power for us! We need to destroy the intruders for him!
Una, golems, antlings: Oooo!!!
Ann: That’s what you wish for, right? Jiryuu-sama.
Jiryuu-sama: Mmm… Mackerel miso… Miso-flavored fishnet tights…. Nooo… Don’t do it…. Zzzz…