Traps set in Dungeons generally targeted those who walked on the ground and those standing near walls. There were very few that targeted those flying through the air.
The reason for this was that for the Demon King Guduranis, the creator of the Dungeons, they were breeding grounds for the monsters that formed his army and traps for treasure-seeking humans.
It was said that Ricklent, the genie of time and magic, changed this so that Dungeons were a place to train and acquire resources and treasures.
But Ricklent had fallen into slumber before the end of the war, and, of course, the Demon King had been sealed.
Neither the Demon King nor Ricklent had imagined that people would be able to fly.
There were currently races created by Vida that could fly, such as pterosaur-type Drakonids and bat-type Beast-people, but before those races existed, no people could fly except for those with precious Magic Items, those with the ability to use advanced magic and those who had tamed flying monsters.
For the Demon King and Ricklent, it could be safely assumed that there were many more flying monsters than people with any method of proceeding through a Dungeon other than walking across its floors.
Even so, some B-class and A-class Dungeons contained traps targeting those who could fly, but such traps didn’t appear in C-class Dungeons and below.
However, there were some monsters in Dungeons resembling caverns and ruins that clung to the ceilings and looked to take adventurers by surprise.
A mucus-like monster called a Slime was clinging to the ceiling in this particular Dungeon.
This Slime, whose instincts as a monster generated by the Dungeon made it prioritize the repulsion of intruders over its own life, patiently waited for its prey to pass by beneath it.
But the Slime heard the rustling of something crawling along the ceiling. It ignored this sound, thinking that it was just some other monsters.
But the source of the sound drew closer to the Slime.
Monsters born in the same Dungeon didn’t share any feelings of companionship. Though they prioritized other monsters less than the repulsion of intruders, they were still just prey.
The Slime obeyed its instincts and decided that this approaching monster was prey.
But what approached it was not a monster. It was an intruder with spider legs protruding from its back and bee legs extending from its sides, crawling along the ceiling.
The Slime did not see things as people did, but the presence it sensed was so bizarre that even its instincts stopped functioning.
“Hmm? The reaction suddenly disappeared?”
Vandalieu, who had gone on ahead to use Danger Sense: Death in order to see whether there was any danger such as traps on the ceiling, was confused by the sudden disappearance of the reaction that he had sensed and his gaze began to wander around.
He had been certain that there had been a trap or a monster waiting for an ambush from the ceiling, but… there was no way that a trap would disappear on its own, and even if the monster fled, it was unnatural for it to do so without making a single noise.
He tried using Detect Life and found a response, but it wasn’t a very strong one. He hadn’t sensed a large danger to begin with, so it was likely a venomous insect or something.
Coming to this conclusion, Vandalieu decided to continue, but then he froze as he felt a wet sensation on his hand.
Vandalieu and his party had challenged the D-class Dungeon, the Lizardmen’s Nest, in order to power-level Tarea and to have the Lizardmen become absolutely loyal to him, and they had gained immediate results.
“I have tamed a Slime,” Vandalieu announced happily, having brought back a Slime with a washbasin’s worth of fluid volume and an internal core the size of a child’s fist.
“Oh, that’s definitely a Slime.”
“It really is! It’s my first time seeing one.”
“This is also my first time seeing a Slime.”
“It’s certainly a Slime.”
Kasim, Zeno, Fester, Tarea and Rita were all surrounding the Slime, impressed.
“It is true that it is rare, but why does Bocchan seem so happy?” Saria asked, and everyone looked at Vandalieu, suddenly wondering the same thing.
For him, Slimes were indeed rare. This enormous, amoeba-like Rank 2 monster was an enemy that would be dangerous for beginner adventurers if they were caught by surprise. Attacks with farming tools and improvised weapons were ineffective, as Slimes possessed great resistance to impacts.
But in the end, they were only Rank 2. They could be defeated by brute force using martial skills, and a thrusting weapon could be used to pierce the core to defeat them easily.
They could be exterminated even more easily using offensive magic spells.
Superior Slime races such as Metal Slimes and Poison Slimes were enemies that one would need to stay vigilant against, but ordinary Slimes were nothing but small fry as long as they weren’t handled carelessly.
In fact, even in Devil’s Nests, they often concealed themselves in hidden places and scavenged corpses rather than actively hunting other monsters.
That was why they were simply rare monsters that were seldom encountered.
It was difficult to imagine that anyone would be happy about taming them. Especially Vandalieu, who had already tamed numerous high-Rank monsters.
“It’s because it’s a Slime,” said Vandalieu.
For him, Slimes were a great example of monsters that appeared in fantasy works, just like Goblins.
Unlike the Slimes that appeared in an extremely popular international game on Earth, the jiggling, quivering Slime in Vandalieu’s arms wasn’t comical or cute in appearance. In fact, it was dark-colored, viscous and odd.
But it was still a Slime.
“It’s weak now, but I’m sure it will become strong,” said Vandalieu. “Just like Bone Man, the other Undead, Pete and Pain.”
Bone Man, who now rode Demon Horses and Leo (formerly the Scaled King), and the calamity-designated Bone Fort Knochen, had originally been Rank 1 Living Bones. Though the Slime was currently Rank 2, there was more than enough of a chance it could become a calamity-designated race surpassing Dragons in the future.
Pete and Pain, a former Pain Worm, emerged from Vandalieu to agree.
Pete had become a Rank 5 Lightning Centipede that emitted electricity from the horns on his head, while Pain had become a Rank 4 Fur Worm with a lot of fluffy hair covering his body.
“That’s true…” everyone said simultaneously. Given Vandalieu’s track record, they had no choice but to agree.
“Then we’ll have to be careful to make sure that the Slime doesn’t catch up to us,” said Kasim.
“If I recall, Bone-Man-san took eight years to… Won’t it be difficult?” asked Zeno.
“I do not mind in the slightest if he catches up to me,” said Tarea.
“Bocchan, please raise us properly too!” said Rita.
Kasim and the others hadn’t been opposed to the idea. They were satisfied by Vandalieu’s explanation and seemed certain now that this Slime would one day become a big figure.
Normally, those of Rank 5 or 6 would already be considered big figures.
“Incidentally, your Majesty, what will you name it?” asked Princess Levia, who was floating a short distance away as the Slime seemed to be frightened of her.
Vandalieu thought for a moment before answering. “Let’s name him Kühl.”
It was the name of a military nation in Origin, sounding like a German word that meant “cold.” It seemed that Slimes were genderless, so this name was probably fine.
“I see. Nice to meet you, Kühl,” said Kasim. “By the way, are we going to walk on and have it follow us? Or are you going to have someone carry it?”
“Ah, it’s alright,” said Vandalieu. “I can equip him with Insect Binding Technique.” The moment he finished saying these words, the Slime Kühl was absorbed into his arms.
“… Were Slimes always insects?” asked Zeno.
“That’s the biggest surprise of the day,” said Rita.
“The Insect Binding Technique probably includes all creatures that move around by crawling, not just insects,” said Vandalieu.
If Slimes counted as insects in this regard, it was possible that Vandalieu would be able to equip snakes and lizards as well. Dragons would likely be impossible, however.
There were no historical records of the D-class Dungeon called the Lizardmen’s Nest, but it was likely to be quite old.
According to the information passed by mouth to the wise Lizardmen like Shashuja, the Lizardmen produced by this Dungeon were their ancestors.
In Talosheim, directly north of the marshlands, it had been recorded on stone tablets that Lizardmen had existed nearby for tens of thousands of years, so this Dungeon had likely appeared before then.
The Lizardmen, who had emerged from the Lizardmen’s Nests in a monster rampage, had won the battle for survival in the marshlands and settled there. And then they had conquered the Lizardmen’s Nest in order to gain a reliable source of food and experience in battle.
It was quite ironic that a Dungeon would be conquered by monsters that had emerged from it in a monster rampage.
And the Lizardman who had cleared this Dungeon on his own was a being acknowledged by the god who had created him (whose name was not known), so there was apparently a custom among the Lizardmen of these marshlands where they paid their respects to this exemplary member of their race.
This Lizardman had been the chief of the group who had formed the non-aggression pact with Talosheim in the past.
“Then isn’t it likely that you won’t be recognized as an exemplary individual if you clear the Dungeon with us?” asked Kasim.
“That’s not a problem,” said Vandalieu. “I’ll be soloing when I clear the B-class Dungeon that Leo (the Scaled King) came from, anyway.”
The above-mentioned honorary custom had fallen out of use when the B-class Dungeon that had given birth to Leo appeared.
“Though you say you will solo, we will be with you,” Princess Levia reminded him.
And so they cleared the Dungeon up to the twelfth floor with ease. Befitting of the birthplace of the Lizardmen, most of the monsters in this Dungeon were Lizardmen, so Kasim and the others would have found it difficult on their own, but the Rank 5 Levia, the Rank 6 Living Armor sisters and Vandalieu himself were with them.
There was no chance that a D-class Dungeon would give them problems. And the Labyrinth Construction skill informed Vandalieu of each floor’s layout as he stepped into them, so they never even lost their way.
If they wanted to, they could have even done a complete run through the Dungeon in just a few hours.
Their objectives were the leveling of Tarea, Kühl, Kasim and his friends and to check the value of the resources in the Dungeon. Tarea’s Night Vision skill had transformed to the Dark Vision skill under the effect of the Eclipse King Title along the way, and Kasim and his friends had acquired the Night Vision skill thanks to the Title’s effect as well, so they spent two days in the Dungeon for them to get used to their new vision as well.
As a result, their levels increased significantly. Most importantly, Kasim had become able to actually use Shield Bash rather than just screaming the skill’s name in pretense.
“Did you see my Shield Bash?! I shattered the Lizardman General boss’s greatsword!” he exclaimed.
“Yes, I saw it!” Tarea shouted. “I saw you take the Lizardman General’s attack directly from the front and your shield shatter along with its sword! How can you have your defensive equipment broken as a shield-bearer, even if your opponent is the Dungeon boss?!”
“Eh, I mean, I couldn’t help it?”
“You could! If you wish to boast proudly, make sure you become able to repel the boss and his martial technique without breaking your shield!”
Though Kasim had made great efforts, those efforts had resulted in his shield breaking, so Tarea scolded him.
Vandalieu had wanted to warn Kasim as well, but he hesitated, seeing that he was too late. Seeing Kasim feeling depressed after Tarea’s nagging, he thought that lecturing him further would be a bad idea, so he ended up comforting him instead. “… Well, that shield was full of scratches, anyway. It has been holding out against similarly powerful opponents since you came to Talosheim, so I’m sure it was nearing the end of its lifespan.”
“Van-sama, how can you be so soft on him?” Tarea asked. “I am saying these things to him for his sake –”
“I’m sure Kasim already understands,” said Vandalieu. “Isn’t that right, Kasim?”
“Y-yeah. I’ll be careful from now on, Tarea-san,” said Kasim.
Seeing Tarea and Vandalieu’s conversation reminded him of the times he was scolded by his parents. Back then, his mother had been angry as well, while his father calmed her down.
Tarea looked to be only a few years older than Kasim in appearance, and Vandalieu was less than half his age, so it felt significantly out of place, however.
Of course, Tarea’s real age was over two hundred and seventy and the number of years that Vandalieu had lived in total was over forty years.
“Well, let’s replace our equipment when we get back to Talosheim. My sword has started to fall apart, too,” said Fester as he looked at the chipped blade of his longsword. He and Zeno had been talking to each other about how they should clear the Dungeon without Vandalieu’s supervision next time.
“Will you be upgrading to Death Iron equipment?” Vandalieu asked.
“Hmm… It’s tempting, but I still think it would be a waste for us to use it,” said Fester.
If they were to indulge in exceptional equipment, they would become negligent in the training of their techniques. It seemed that they planned to do their best with iron and steel equipment for a while longer.
“So, was there anything that seemed useful in this Dungeon?” Zeno asked.
“There weren’t any minerals, but there were fish like catfish, swamp prawns and swamp crabs that can also be found in the marshlands, and mud,” said Vandalieu.
“Mud?” Princess Levia repeated.
“Yes. The grey mud that can be found in a part of this Dungeon has fine dirt, so I think it will be good for beauty products.”
The mud-packs that had been available on Earth. Of course, Vandalieu had no experience with mud packs or beauty salons that had used mud products, but wouldn’t he be able to do the same thing with this mud?
“Oh my, is that true?!” Tarea exclaimed.
“That’s good for you, isn’t it, Tarea-san?” said Princess Levia.
“I see,” said Saria.
“More importantly, Bocchan, you said that catfish are delicious when cooked with the kaba* method, but how are you supposed to cook them with the kaba method?” asked Rita.
“Come to think of it, I heard from Hannah-san that there are Lava Hippopotamuses that live in boiling lava, but… I wonder if you use those to cook them?” Princess Levia wondered.
The only one interested in skin beauty among the women present now was Tarea.
After all, the other four didn’t have skin. What appeared to be skin was actually spirit form.
“Kabayaki takes time, so I’ll try it when we return. It will be my first time doing it myself, too,” said Vandalieu. “Incidentally, I won’t be using hippopotamuses.”
Meanwhile, Tarea and Kühl had both increased in Rank.
Tarea had become a Rank 4 Ghoul Artisan first, and now a Rank 5 Ghoul High Artisan. There hadn’t been any large changes to her appearance, but tattoo-like patterns had appeared on her skin, centered around her arms.
And as expected of the Artisan in her race name, it seemed that there were bonuses to her crafting skills.
Kühl had become a Rank 4 Venom Slime. The volume of its body had increased and its color had become a poisonous-looking purple, but Vandalieu was expecting it to develop even further.
“Fufufufu, once we get back, we must have the working Ghouls level up in turn and have their Ranks increase,” said Tarea, spellbound by her arms that moved more nimbly and powerfully than before. It seemed that her memory of how opposed she had been to leveling around half a month ago had vanished into the distance.
“Please be careful when leveling them,” said Vandalieu. “Have them wear the armor of the Red Wolf Knights’ Order, and don’t forget to post requests at the trading post to recruit people to support them.”
“Of course,” said Tarea. “You should do your best in clearing the B-class Dungeon as well, Van-sama.”
“Once we get back, we need to get new equipment and find new party members,” said Kasim.
“Things went well this time because Vandalieu and everyone else were with us, but things will be tough with just the three of us,” said Zeno.
“Yeah, do your best,” said Fester. “I’m sure you two can find nice girls like my Lina as well.”
“That’s not what we meant!” Kasim and Zeno shouted together.
The Dungeon that had given birth to Leo, named the Scaled King’s Nest, was in the depths of the cavern that Leo had been using as his burrow.
“Well then, here I go,” said Vandalieu as he entered without any particular signs of enthusiasm, being watched by a large number of Lizardmen.
The Lizardmen who had served the Scaled King seemed skeptical that he would really be alright on his own as they watched him go. They were intelligent and had an advanced society for monsters, but they were still monsters.
They would not recognize those who were not strong as superior beings, as rulers. With that absolute instinct in mind, Vandalieu hadn’t fought the Scaled King directly, so some of the Lizardmen had their doubts whether he had the qualities of a ruler.
He had fired the projectile that had killed the Familiar Spirit (actually the Spirit Clone) of the evil god that had given the Scaled King his divine protection by smashing its heart, but it wasn’t as if the Familiar Spirit’s (Spirit Clone’s) corpse could be found lying around, so naturally, some had begun to doubt Vandalieu’s abilities after some time passed.
This was especially true for those that had served the Scaled King.
Vandalieu could always have Bone Man and the Black Bull Knights’ Order use physical force to convince them if they caused problems, but it would be troublesome to have to repeat this over and over, so Vandalieu had decided to solo the Dungeon, leveling himself and his monsters in the process.
Though he had told them that he would be soloing, the Lizardmen would not be able to see him once he entered the Dungeon, so he would be letting everyone out once inside.
“As expected of a Dungeon where Dragons appear; it is quite large, isn’t it?” Princess Levia remarked as she appeared.
Pete gave a hiss as he emerged from Vandalieu’s body.
“It’s quite different from Barigen’s Fall Life-Mountain, even though they’re both B-class Dungeons,” said Rita. “Barigen’s Fall Life-Mountain’s internal structure was all mountains.”
“Well, it is a mountain,” said Saria.
The two sisters had simply been stored in Vandalieu’s luggage. The suits of armor that were their actual bodies actually had very little volume, so once they erased their spirit forms, the armors folded up and were easily carried.
Bone Man had insisted that his bones could be taken apart and absorbed by a large worm, but there was a chance that they would be digested, so he had been stationed in the marshlands.
“Is everyone alright?” Vandalieu asked.
“Ugh… We are alright, but… This is something that I cannot get used to,” said Zadiris.
“It’s quite harsh on us,” said Vigaro.
The two of them had emerged from Vandalieu’s body after Pete, and Basdia was with them as well.
“Being infested by the parasite is alright, but… being equipped inside you with your Insect Binding Technique, Van, is a little…” Basdia muttered.
“Now that you mention it, what is it like inside me?” Vandalieu asked.
“… It’s dark and we can’t see anything. While we’re equipped, we can’t move, but the other creatures can, so we can feel them crawling around on top of our bodies… we can hear the sounds of the insects’ wings in our ears, too.”
It wasn’t just that they found insects unpleasant; it seemed that the inside of his body was an extremely unpleasant place for people to be.
“Well, it is called the Insect Binding Technique,” said Zadiris. “The insects are the main part. Also, we could not hear the sounds made by the Ents and Monster Plants, so the ones equipped by the Plant Binding Technique are likely in a different place.”
“It’s amazing that Eleanora and Luciliano were always willing to be equipped,” said Vigaro.
“That’s true,” Vandalieu agreed. “Well, Luciliano’s unlikely to care about a little discomfort once his ambition for research is fired up.”
“Hmm, was it really that unpleasant to have insects crawl around on you?” Rita wondered.
“I wonder? I do recall that it is unpleasant, though,” said Saria.
“The normal sense of touch… I lost my body two hundred years ago, so I cannot remember,” said Princess Levia.
“It was certainly unpleasant,” said Darcia.
As the four of them didn’t have skin to speak of, they only felt confusion during this discussion.
As if the monsters had heard the noise, the ground suddenly rumbled.
“It seems that the first monster has appeared, so let’s leave the talk for later… and let’s begin our leveling,” said Vandalieu.
And so the power-leveling on the stage of the B-class Dungeon that nobody had cleared in over a hundred years began.
A name acquired by those feared by numerous influential beings.
But those with this Title are not simply feared; the Title cannot be obtained unless a strange, ominous aura surrounds them.
Those who acquire this Title are often monsters whose true identities are not known to the higher-ranking individuals and bosses in societal organizations, including the Adventurers’ Guild, so those with this Title are treated with caution once they are known to possess it. However, they might simply draw attention in the underworld. When monsters possess this Title, it becomes easier for them to acquire subordinates.
Those who have acquired this Title attract the attention of those who fear them more easily, and more individuals in the underworld take notice of them and draw closer.
In the past, there have been numerous cases where statesmen deliberately gave the Monstrosity Title to bosses of criminal organizations that had become so tremendous that gaining more subordinates made no difference to them in order to watch out for their movements.