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Once a Dungeon appeared, its entrance was typically fixed and did not move. However, there were several exceptions to this.
One category of exceptions was Dungeons controlled by gods. To elaborate, the entrances of such Dungeons themselves did not move. The gods controlling these Dungeons would make them so that only those they deemed worthy of challenging the Dungeons could find them, or create Teleportation Gates that would transport such worthy individuals to the Dungeon’s entrance.
The ‘Labyrinth of Trials,’ controlled by the God of Thunderclouds Fitun, had originally belonged to this category.
“Of course, as Fitun has been destroyed and the Dungeon is no longer controlled by a god, it seems to be abandoned without any individuals being chosen as worthy,” said Gufadgarn.
As they listened to her explanation, Vandalieu and his companions continued on through the ‘Labyrinth of Trials.’
“If the labyrinth itself is not moving as the ‘Trial of Zakkart’ did, then why did the Dungeon appear here, and why is it still here? I find it hard to imagine that Fitun moved the Dungeon’s entrance like I could with ‘Labyrinth Creation,’” said Vandalieu.
With his ‘Labyrinth Creation’ Skill, it was possible for him to move the entrances of Dungeons. However, the speed at which it moved was roughly equivalent to a person’s walking pace. Even though it was in a Devil’s Nest, adventurers had hunted in it every day, so the Dungeon would have been noticed if it and its entrance had been moved here at that speed.
“It is likely that the entrance was Teleported here via space-attribute magic, then fixed in place. Teleporting a Dungeon would be possible for an exceptionally skilled mage, provided that the Dungeon is one created by a god, and that god consents to and supports the process,” said Gufadgarn.
It was as she surmised. Fitun, as the controller of the Dungeon, had ordered one of his heroic spirit subordinates – a space-attribute mage – to fix the Dungeon’s entrance in this location.
The reason for that was that the monster horde necessary for his plan would take time to exit from the Dungeon, and simply connecting the Dungeon’s space to the Devil’s Nest for a short period of time would have been insufficient for his purposes.
If it were a choice between connecting the two points in space for the dozens of minutes it would take for the monster horde to leave the Dungeon and simply fixing the location there, the latter consumed less Mana.
He had likely never considered the possibility that he would be destroyed afterwards and his Dungeon would remain fixed in place near the city of Morksi. No, but given his personality, perhaps he had considered it but didn’t give it a second thought, not caring about what would happen after his own destruction.
“I see. By the way, there’s a Dungeon directly controlled by a god in the Vidal Demon Empire’s great marshlands, isn’t there?” asked Kanako. “The Dungeon created by that god named Fidirg. That seems like an ordinary Dungeon, though.”
“The ‘Lizardmen’s Nest’ in the great marshlands. I would not know the finer details, so I would have to ask Fidirg to find out, but perhaps he had not selected worthy challengers for the Dungeon,” said Gufadgarn.
A Dungeon controlled by a god was no different from an ordinary Dungeon if the god did not select worthy challengers and simply let anyone inside.
“And Fidirg was sealed away by Luvesfol, so I’m sure he couldn’t control the Dungeon anyway. And there’s also Luvesfol’s ‘Scaled King’s Nest,’ but Vandalieu and the others cleared it after he fled the Boundary Mountain Range, so he wasn’t there,” said Darcia, thinking back to the past.
However, her conclusion wasn’t quite entirely correct. Fidirg and Luvesfol had never given their Dungeons the ability to select worthy challengers in the first place.
They had needed Dungeons to serve as their Divine Realms and in order to create monsters that would become their followers, so such a function would have had no use… though in Fidirg’s case, the main reason was that there would not be much use in selecting challengers worthy of clearing a D-class Dungeon.
“I see. There are legends of heroes who happen to discover Dungeons that nobody knew about and received Artifacts and the divine protections of gods from clearing them. Are the Dungeons in those legends of the same type?” asked Simon.
“Come to think of it, there are indeed quite a few legends like that. Veld-dono himself was said to have come across such a Dungeon, received instruction from Vida, and acquired his trusted sword inside,” said Sam.
“The legends about Veld-sensei are apparently fictional stories created by his descendants, actually. He has a principle of not becoming attached to weapons, after all,” said Darcia.
“I know little about legends of heroes who worship Alda’s forces. However, any given god can only control a single Dungeon or perhaps two, or a third if they really stretched themselves thin. If they had more, they could ‘control’ them in the sense that they could observe what is happening inside, but they would have to limit themselves to those numbers if they wished to do things such as selecting worthy challengers and manipulating the contents of the Dungeons,” said Gufadgarn. “Therefore, I would believe that the majority of such legends were fabricated by the generations that came after the heroes.”
The gods were not able to control an indefinite number of Dungeons while also maintaining the world’s existence. And to begin with, controlling a large number of Dungeons was not necessarily a good thing.
There weren’t always dozens of heroes to challenge Dungeons.
“I get that, but… it’s hard to imagine that this was a Dungeon controlled by a god. There aren’t any enemies,” said Natania.
Indeed, Vandalieu and his companions were yet to encounter a single monster since entering the Dungeon.
They were already on the fifth floor underground, but Vandalieu already knew the Dungeon’s layout due to the ‘Labyrinth Creation’ Skill, and with his directions, the party was simply proceeding smoothly through empty fields, wastelands and deserts.
The Dungeon was so peaceful that it was difficult to imagine that it was a trial created by a god.
“That’s because the monster rampage just took place. Most of the monsters that were in the Dungeon exited to the surface,” said Vandalieu.
“There were quite a lot of them, after all. Legion had to send them to the Dungeon in the basement, and Juliana-chan, Kasim-san and the others did a good job, after all,” said Darcia.
Indeed, the reason for the Dungeon’s peacefulness was the monster rampage caused by Fitun.
The previous owner of Hof, who was now one of the two horses pulling Sam’s carriage, had been right about the fact that there would be a drastic decrease in monsters after a monster rampage… though he had been wrong about where that drastic decrease would occur.
“Still, you’d think there would be at least a few monsters. Dungeons have more monsters than Devil’s Nests, right?” said Natania.
“That is correct, Natania, but in terms of numbers, B-class Dungeons have less monsters than C-class Dungeons,” said Vandalieu.
“Huh, really?” Natania said in surprise.
Vandalieu nodded and began explaining.
Difficult Dungeons tended to have less monsters and take more time to generate new monsters.
This was because higher-difficulty Dungeons needed more time and Mana to generate new monsters, and those monsters needed more time to multiply naturally.
Even if monsters reproduced and developed more quickly in Dungeons, there was a limit to that. Weak monsters like Goblins, which already had great reproductive capabilities, would be replenished endlessly no matter how many were defeated.
But this was not the case for monsters that required far more time to reproduce than humans, such as Thunder Dragons and Mountain Giants.
And if high-Rank monsters appeared in endless swarms like Goblins, the Dungeon’s difficulty would jump up drastically. There were few adventurers who could defeat high-Rank monsters, so these Dungeons would be impossible to deal with. Monster numbers wouldn’t be culled, resulting in frequent monster rampages.
“Well, F-class Dungeons only contain a single Rank 1 monster, but the Dungeons with the most monsters per floor are E-class Dungeons,” said Vandalieu.
“Huh, I see. I’ve only ever been on the first floor of a D-class Dungeon, so I had no idea,” said Natania, who had been a D-class adventurer with slightly above-average qualities before meeting Vandalieu and his companions.
“As expected of someone who’s used to Dungeons,” said Kanako, sounding impressed.
“That’s new information to me, too,” said Melissa with a nod.
“… Kanako, Melissa, you guys didn’t know either?” Vandalieu asked in surprise. “I thought you’ve been in quite a few Dungeons.”
“Unfortunately, we’ve only ever been in Dungeons that are C-class and below, and the one that you and Gufadgarn made in the basement. Before we joined you, we avoided them so that we wouldn’t run into Murakami and Asagi,” Doug explained. “If they checked our locations with Rodcorte while we were inside a Dungeon and kept a lookout at the entrance, we’d have been rats in a trap.”
Dungeons were more efficient for earning money and Experience Points. However, a Dungeon only had a single entrance. Kanako, Melissa and Doug had betrayed Asagi’s group in their previous life and Murakami in this life, so they had avoided entering such places.
“Even if there aren’t any enemies, the mid-boss and the Dungeon boss should have spawned. Even if the Dungeon’s controller has been destroyed, the inside of the Dungeon is alive. Its functions shouldn’t have stopped,” said Gufadgarn.
“Yes, the fresh breeze, blue sky and bright sun makes it hard to imagine that we’re in a Dungeon,” said Simon, looking up at the sun that looked just like the real one.
This scenery, which made it difficult to believe that it was inside a Dungeon, was proof that the Dungeon was functioning normally.
“Well, let’s relax and take our time. It would raise suspicion if we were to return too quickly, after all. And I can use the time to continue making Artifacts,” said Vandalieu.
But as he said that, the very next floor – the sixth floor – resembled a fortress, filled with countless Undead. Past that, there were more Undead, as well as insect-type and plant-type monsters appearing one after another, making it impossible for the party to relax.
The Undead were charmed by Vandalieu’s ‘Dark Dream Demon Creation Path Enticement,’ which included ‘Death-Attribute Charm,’ placing them under his guidance. The same was true for many of the insect-type monsters, but many of the plant-type monsters were not charmed.
Thus, Doug and the others were grumbling, shouting and complaining as they fought against the high-Rank plant-type monsters attacking them one after another – the type that would appear in B-class Dungeons.
Doug let out a frustrated scream. “This tree monster is such a pain in the ass!”
“It’s hard to use ‘Venus’ when I don’t know how many sensory organs they have and where they are!” said Kanako.
“I suppose if the flaming trees on the Demon Continent were to move on their own, they would become monsters like these,” said Melissa.
“Fang and Maroru’s attacks won’t work on these monsters?! Master! Could you give us a hand, perhaps?!” Simon shouted at Vandalieu.
Fang barked loudly in agreement.
Incidentally, they were currently fighting against Rank 7 Burning Treants, whose branches were filled with bright flames where leaves would be growing… Naturally, they possessed the ‘Flame Resistance’ Skill at a high Level.
“I believe in your abilities. This is a Dungeon, so you can transform, use ‘Chaos’ and ‘Familiar Spirit Demonfall.’ Do your best,” Vandalieu told his companions, declining their requests for help.
“It seems that Fitun made sure that there were no Undead, insect-type monsters and plant-type monsters in the monster horde as a countermeasure to Vandalieu’s guidance. Those monsters were left behind, so the Dungeon is filled with them as a result,” said Darcia.
“Where did he get the information that Bocchan can charm plant and insect monsters as well as Undead, I wonder? He cannot even guide all plant-type monsters,” said Sam.
Darcia’s observation was correct; Fitun had avoided using these monsters so that they would not turn to Vandalieu’s side. The result was the current situation, where the group was being attacked only by the plant-type monsters that would not fall under Vandalieu’s guidance.
Many plant-type monsters had no perception of pain, and weak instincts as living creatures. They had no vital parts such as brains, hearts and spinal cords. They were even more troublesome to deal with than Undead, which could generally be defeated by crushing the head.
“It makes no sense that plants are even more immortal than Zombies!” Doug complained.
Burning Treants were far, far harder than Rank 3 Ents, and even getting near one meant exposing oneself to the heat of its flames. That was why Doug was using ‘Hecatoncheir’ to manipulate Vandalieu’s arm that he had received after the battle against Hajime Fitun, and he was the only one in the group to have an advantage over the monsters. However, since the arm that he was using as his weapon was limited in range, it was taking some time for him to defeat them.
Meanwhile, Natania and Simon were poorly matched and having a tough time against these enemies, as Natania was an unarmed fighter and Simon was a swordsman.
“Damn it, there’s no end to them when I’m only using ‘Flying Sword.’ I’m going to run out of Mana first,” Simon groaned.
He and Natania were able to use their spirit forms to manipulate their artificial limbs, as well as the ‘Long-range Control’ Skill. They were using these abilities to attack the Burning Treants from afar. However, although Natania had claws and fists that rotated through the air, Simon’s sword could not deal significant damage to the monsters.
“‘Rocket Punch!’” Natania shouted, sending both of her fists flying into the battle. “Simon, I think punching them with your artificial arm will be more effective than your sword! The sword is just made of iron, right?!”
“Ah, now that you mention it, you’re right,” Simon agreed.
With this advice, Simon began fighting using his artificial hand dealing chopping blows. The hand dug deep into the trunk of the first Burning Treant he attacked with it, seeming to deal effective damage.
The artificial limb, made of Death Iron, was a more powerful weapon than his sword that was made of ordinary iron.
“This is no good. I need to learn ‘Unarmed Fighting Technique’ or earn the money to buy a better sword,” Simon muttered, wearing a complicated expression.
Although he was not a particularly renowned individual, he was a swordsman, and yet he was stronger when he was not using his sword.
Maroru and Fang were nearby. They had given up attacking with their flaming Breath and fur attacks, which were ineffective on the Burning Treants, and were now working together to engage in close-quarters battle.
Fang growled as he confused a Burning Treant with his ‘Aura of Darkness,’ then Maroru let out a fierce squeak as she used her tail as a whip to strike in the opening that Fang had created, slamming the Burning Treant’s trunk and sending pieces of bark flying.
As the Burning Treant staggered, Fang and Maroru roared and squeaked in unison as they rushed in and took the monster down with a powerful tackle.
The battle was even simpler for Urumi and Suruga. Suruga stood at the front in a defensive role to slow the Burning Treants down, while Suruga froze and extinguished their flames with her cold air.
“There isn’t anyone here to see us. Transform!” said Kanako, raising her arm into the air.
With dull, metallic noises, her arm changed shape, becoming covered in scales and growing claws.
“‘Iron Rend!’ Lethal idol claw!” she shouted, swinging her claws.
With the effects of the ‘Superhuman Strength’ Skill that she had acquired after becoming a Chaos Elf, her blow crushed the trunk of the nearest Burning Treant.
“More like dragon, not idol, right? Wait, aren’t you going to use water-attribute magic?” asked Melissa.
Meanwhile, she had grown transparent, dragonfly-like wings on her back, and was showering the Burning Treants with shockwaves created by their vibrations.
“We wouldn’t be able to see anything if the air got filled with steam. You’re not using magic either, are you, Melissa?” said Kanako as she returned her arm to normal.
“Offensive space-attribute spells use up a lot of Mana,” said Melissa, just as the last Burning Treant fell.
The Dungeon clearing continued smoothly, with most of the enemies being plant-type monsters due to Vandalieu’s guidance and Fitun’s countermeasure against it.
It wasn’t just the battles that were going well, but the food and shelter were perfect, too. Sam’s carriage was larger than its appearance would suggest, and he even had the ‘Comfort Maintenance’ Skill, so the space under his canopy was as if it were fully equipped with air conditioning.
As Vandalieu hadn’t joined the battle, he was now busy distributing food prepared with ingredients that had been kept fresh with the ‘Preservation’ Skill.
And although this was unimaginable in the midst of a Dungeon clear, it was even possible to bathe. Vandalieu had manipulated minerals in the Dungeon using ‘Golem Creation’ and ‘Labyrinth Creation’ to build bathtubs. Water was provided by his god spirit magic as well as Darcia and Kanako’s water-attribute magic, and he had turned that into bathwater.
It was as if the party were traveling in a camper-van on Earth.
“There is a Job-changing room, so please feel free to use it,” said Sam, reminding the party that it was even possible to change Jobs with the Job-changing room in his carriage.
Monsters of Rank 7 and above were considerably powerful enemies for Simon and Natania; battles such as the one against the Burning Treants were ones that they wouldn’t have been able to win without the help of Doug and the others. Thus, both of them had acquired large quantities of Experience Points.
But the two of them were not the only ones to earn large quantities of Experience Points.
Hof had become a Demon Horse, and he and Mähne were whinnying and neighing as they continuously stomped on monsters that had been beaten into a pitiful state with their hooves.
“Some of the insect-type monsters aren’t getting guided by Vandalieu, are they?” said Darcia.
“These are Lightning Locusts, apparently, so perhaps they were somehow significantly influenced by Fitun. It can’t be just the influence of the wind attribute, since they’re similar to Pete,” said Vandalieu.
These locusts, which flew at lightning-fast speeds and emitted electricity from their bodies, did not fall under Vandalieu’s guidance and attacked his companions.
There were simply too many of them, so Vandalieu joined the battle as well… cutting the wings and legs off two locusts among the swarm, then leaving them for Mähne and Hof to stomp with their hooves.
Naturally, this was for earning them Experience Points.
However, they were having difficulty in delivering lethal blows to the near-dead Lightning Locusts. Inflicting significant damage to a Rank 7 monster seemed to be just about impossible with the hooves of a Rank 2 Lesser Demon Horse.
“First of all, it’s been a while, but let’s use ‘Strengthen Bloodshed,’” said Vandalieu.
“Well then, I’ll give you my enchantments as well,” said Darcia.
With their support, the two horses managed to defeat the Lightning Locusts after a few minutes, and their Ranks increased.
Small events like this occurred during their journey through the Dungeon, but it went smoothly nonetheless. In fact, there were even complaints because it was going too smoothly.
“I know these are mid-bosses, but come on. The Burning Treants and Lightning Locusts were tougher than that,” Doug grumbled.
The mid-boss on the tenth floor was a single Ogre High Mage. It was Rank 7, and it was a formidable foe that possessed both exceptional physical strength and skill in magic. However, without any allies standing in front of it, it had been defeated without managing to recite a single incantation.
The mid-boss on the twentieth floor was a Mountain Giant Barbarian. It was one Rank above a Mountain Giant, and it possessed even greater strength, but… it stood no chance against Vandalieu and his companions, who had already faced several of them during the battle against Hajime Fitun. In fact, it was a monster that they were sick of fighting.
This was why Doug, who was something of a battle fanatic, was dissatisfied.
“Both of them were enemies that I have to fight for my life against, though,” said Simon.
“Any stronger, and I’d have to use ‘Surpass Limits’ and throw out multiple martial skills in a row, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to fight for the rest of the day,” said Natania.
Fang barked in agreement.
These enemies were tough opponents for these three. They had fought with everything they had, struggling to defeat the Ogre High Mage on the tenth floor before it could finish reciting an incantation, and keeping the Mountain Giant Barbarian on the twentieth floor in check by attacking it from outside its range.
“You’re right. The tenth floor wasn’t so difficult, but if the mid-boss of the twentieth floor was a little tougher or had other monsters accompanying it, I would have helped out as well,” said Vandalieu, having seen his companions struggle during the battles.
It seemed that Simon, Natania and Fang were barely making it through these battles.
“It is likely that there would normally have been highly difficult battles like the ones that Doug desires. The battles would have been harsh, with monsters on the frontline to protect the mid-boss of the tenth floor, and monsters supporting the Mountain Giant Barbarian on the twentieth floor. However, the Dungeon has lost its master and a monster rampage occurred not long ago. The monsters supporting the mid-bosses seem to have not been replenished,” said Gufadgarn.
Indeed, Fitun’s ‘Labyrinth of Trials’ had consisted of consecutive difficult battles, and only those who were able to overcome them could receive Fitun’s divine protection and high-quality Magic Items.
However, since Fitun had forcibly created a monster rampage, the mid-bosses of his Dungeon had decreased in difficulty, to around somewhere just below the difficulty of an ordinary B-class Dungeon.
“Then the Dungeon boss…” Doug muttered.
“And we won’t be able to expect much from the treasure room beyond it. I’m feeling kind of unmotivated now,” said Kanako.
“Don’t say that. Do your best! We’ll be joining the battle as well,” said Darcia.
The party went on to fight against the Dungeon Boss, a Rank 9 Storm Giant, with Darcia joining in… and as expected, they defeated it with ease and carried the meager contents of the treasure chamber back to the surface.
Earl Morksi and the Adventurers’ Guild, the ones who had made the request to investigate the possible appearance of a Dungeon, received word that there was indeed a Dungeon. Due to this information, Earl Morksi made extremely few errors in taking preemptive measures to prevent another monster rampage.
A Dungeon had suddenly appeared and almost immediately caused a monster rampage. Preventing such a rampage would have been impossible.
Even so, Earl Morksi would likely receive some criticism, but that would only be a formal procedure, and would not come with any real punishment.
As for Fitun’s ‘Labyrinth of Trials,’ Vandalieu decided to have Gufadgarn take steps to ensure that the gods of Alda’s forces could not make use of it, then leave it be. In the future, it would likely become a B-class Dungeon that many adventurers in Earl Morksi’s domain ventured into.
Incidentally, the Dungeon was renamed from the ‘Labyrinth of Trials’ to ‘Garess’s Ancient Battleground.’
To the Adventurers’ Guild, Fitun’s ‘Labyrinth of Trials’ had been an uncleared Dungeon that appeared spontaneously, so Vandalieu and his companions received the right to name it, as they were the first ones to clear it.
Naming it after Vandalieu had been firmly opposed by Vandalieu himself, as well as Gufadgarn.
Gufadgarn’s reason had been: “We cannot allow a Dungeon of this quality to bear the name of the great Vandalieu.”
Vandalieu had considered naming it after Kanako, Doug, Simon and Natania, the ones who had officially received the request from the earl, but all of them had declined.
“Then how about the ‘Nameless Heroes?’ They’re pretty popular now, aren’t they?” Doug had suggested.
“Stop, just please stop,” Legion had begged him.
That had ruled out naming the Dungeon after the ‘Nameless Heroes.’
And so, it was decided that the name of Garess, the God of Warriors, would be used. Garess was a subordinate god of Zantark, the War-god of Fire and Destruction, and he was on Vida’s side. His name and existence were almost completely unknown to human society.
“The inside of the Dungeon has fortresses and other things that make you imagine a battlefield, after all. And it wouldn’t be strange for believers of Vida like me and Mom to name it that,” said Vandalieu. “There are even fire-attribute monsters, like Burning Treants.”
“The Dungeon Boss was a Storm Giant, but I suppose that doesn’t really matter,” said Darcia.
And so, the name of Fitun’s ‘Labyrinth of Trials’ remained only in legends. But of course, Alda’s forces didn’t need it, and it was far better for them than there being proof that one of their gods planned to kill tens of thousands of innocent people in their attempt to slay the Demon King.
- Name: Mähne and Hof
- Rank: 4
- Race: Shadow Horse
- Level: 98
- Passive skills:
- Superhuman Strength: Level 2
- Dark Vision
- Mental Resistance: Level 3
- Disease and Poison Resistance: Level 1
- Strengthened Body Part (Hooves): Level 4
- Self-Strengthening: Guidance: Level 2
- Shadow Assimilation
- Active skills:
- High-speed Travel: Level 1
- Surpass Limits: Level 4
- Charge: Level 2
- Aura of Darkness: Level 1
- Unique skills:
- ヴ■■■■■’s Divine Protection [V]