The sensation of floating in dark water.
『The dream ends.』
I understand that I’m in a threshold somewhere between consciousness and unconsciousness.
If I look down, I see an endless darkness, and if I look up, there’s a bright, wavering water surface.
Suddenly, a flickering shadow appears before me.
The voice that calls my name sounds incredibly distant and hazy.
The person that has appeared before me has beautiful hair of a deep, blood-like color that could be described not as red, but as crimson. Her black pupils shine just as powerfully as her hair.
The clothing that covers her body, which is too small to be called that of an adult, is the black dress of the Demon Lord. It’s exactly the same as when I saw her for the final time.
This is the 47th Demon Lord, Leticia Lew Harstone.
「Kaito, come and... see me...」(Leticia)
「! Haah, I’m desperate enough to make you say something like that in my dreams?」(Kaito)
I let out words of self-derision without thinking.
How pathetic, to be like this just after seeing some dream reminding me of the past. Just how much am I planning to rely on someone I once killed with my own hands?
「Ah, but you’re right. Just once, I’ll come and see you just once.」(Kaito)
I’ll go and see her properly.
In this second time, she knows nothing about me.
So this is nothing but sentimentality.
I just want to selfishly get my own emotions in order; it’s an act of atonement to satisfy myself.
Even so, I want her to at least forgive me once. After saying one thing to her, I never intend to appear before her again.
So in the words I say to her, I need to convey,『I’m sorry for everything back then』, and『Goodbye, I hope you find happiness.』
「This time, I’ll definitely come to you and say it. I’ll say,『Ah, Demon Lord, I’ll give you half the world, so take revenge with me.』」(Kaito)
In this second time, she won’t even know what we need revenge for. I don’t intend to tell her. I’ll put an end to everything myself.
So it’s obvious that my words will be rejected.
And so they will be my unsightly words of repentance to punish myself.
Even if my words won’t be understood; even if she will reject me.
Because back then, she said those words to me knowing the same.
I’ll definitely come and say these words to you.
Because if I do that, I should definitely be able to give up on you.
Because even if you’re not by my side, I should be able to live on without relying on you.
Ah, but –
「It’s a little bit of a shame that I can’t be by your side after I die in this world a second time, I suppose.」(Kaito)
「... -sama, ...to-sama.」
「Mmm, ah... Minnalis?」(Kaito)
My body is being shaken gently, and as I open my eyes, I see Minnalis’s slightly-red face.
I realize that I fell asleep. When I succumbed to the drowsiness, I had my back against the wall with one of my knees in my arms, but now I’m lying down horizontally. And actually, whatever is behind my head is dangerously soft.
「Good morning, Goshujin-sama*. You were having something of a nightmare, you know?」(Minnalis)
「Hmm? Ah, I had a little dream about the past... More importantly, this is...」(Kaito)
「This is, you know, the『Guardians’ Chamber』was larger than I thought, so I used my『Poison Demon of Phantom Flames』too much and the mana intoxication...」(Minnalis)
Hmm, since I fell asleep from mana intoxication myself, I guess I failed to suppress it.
When nothing is happening, Minnalis doesn’t get carried away; she maintains her position as a slave and keeps her stability.
Perhaps embarrassed by letting me sleep on her lap, she tries and fails to maintain a poker face and her voice wavers.
... I wonder if it would be bad for me to make fun of her. As a human being, would it be bad for me to do that?
The temptation to tease her is poking its face out in front of me, but I suppress it with my self-control as an adult.
I won’t make fun of someone suffering from mana intoxication, nor alcohol intoxication. Messing with someone’s behavior while they’re drunk is inexcusable. Who knows where or when it could happen to me next.
As I get up and shake my head, the remainders of my sleepiness and mana intoxication disappear.
「How long was I asleep?」(Kaito)
「I believe it was about one hour.」(Minnalis)
「I see, is the Guardian dead?」(Kaito)
「No, since I do not see that I have gained any experience on my Status, I believe it has not died yet.」(Minnalis)
The hole I opened in the door has been plugged by the Garm furs that we ripped off the dead bodies on our way here. On the other side of the door, I can hear the faint sounds of the Guardian suffering and thrashing around, so the poison is having an effect.
But as a requirement of using this method, I had to be able to open a hole in the door so strong that it’s almost impossible to destroy. Guardians like this『Goblin King』generally have a high resistance to status effects, so the poison used needed to be strong enough to break through its resistance and somehow manage to deal some damage.
And I already foresaw that with this level of poison, the weapons, equipment and materials that we could gain from the Guardian would be severely damaged. To claim them, we would need a way to make sure that the poison doesn’t degrade, but we would also need a way to safely enter the poison-filled room right after the Guardian is defeated (If we leave it, the Dungeon will absorb its dead body and everything else, leaving no materials or anything for us to recover).
The reason we chose this method is because with the『cheat that is the【Fire Spider Soul Sword】』,『【Poison Demon of Phantom Flames】non-diffusing property』and the fact that『we don’t need anything other than the experience points』, all of the right conditions have been met.
It’s also problematic for the special abilities of my powerful Soul Swords being seen by others, there’s no need to worry about that in this case.
「For now, I guess I’ll think about how to assign my experience points while we wait for the Guardian to die.」(Kaito)
Since I haven’t dealt any damage to the Dungeon boss myself, I won’t receive any experience points. In other words, the experience that I’ve obtained in the Dungeon up to this point is all I’m going to get.
At present, I have 15,231 experience points remaining.
Along the way, I put 3,000 experience points in the【Round Squirrel’s Pouch Sword】, 3,000 in the【Water Fairy’s Droplet Blade】and 31,000 in the【Herb Insect’s Wing Blade】, which means the total amount I earned is around 50,000. If I was in a state with no experience debt and could simply spend all of it on leveling up, I would have almost reached level 60.
And there’s something that I realized thanks to the【Water Fairy’s Droplet Blade】and【Herb Insect’s Wing Blade.】I realized that my abilities are sealed in tiers, and I have to unlock them in these tiers.
Just like how the【Water Fairy’s Droplet Blade】has the ability to provide the fire-venom of the【Fire Spider’s Leg Sword】with an overwhelming bonus in its ability to melt metal, it also has the ability to allow me to control the temperature of the liquid at will. But it seems that this ability isn’t unlocked unless I put more experience points into it.
The same thing applies for the【Herb Insect’s Wing Blade】; it was a sword that could increase my resistance to each different status effect and cure them as well, but the ability to cure each status effect requires separate experience points to unlock.
I spent 3,000 on unlocking the Soul Sword and on unlocking the resistance to poison, then 2,000 on each of paralysis, sleep, petrification and charm, and 20,000 to unlock the special ability that allows me to share these effects with people that I want to, so 31,000 in total. The ability to share the effects with others used to work on up to ten people, but with the amount that I’ve unlocked now, it seems that the limit is three people.
Well, I don’t have a shred of intention of gathering a large number of random followers like I did the first time, so there’s no problem.
For now, I think about how I’m going to allocate the remaining 15,000 experience points that I have.
I consider doing something about my level debt, but if my basic level increases, the amount of experience points I gain will decrease. In that case, it makes the most sense to unlock a Soul Sword that can make up for my level deficit with its special ability and keep unlocking more Soul Swords for now.
Speaking in RPG terms, my first run was a righteous playthrough, but this second time, I’ll be doing an evil playthrough with some restrictions.
So with that in mind, I suppose my choices are something like this.
【Kidnapping Blade of Adversity】
The higher the enemy’s stats are relative to the wielder, the more powerful this sword is.
However, conversely, if the enemy’s stats are lower than the wielder’s, this sword’s power decreases.
【Needle Sword of Poison Benefit】
This sword strengthens any poison effect on the enemy by increasing the poison damage depending on the number of times the enemy is damaged by the sword, regardless of the actual damage of each attack.
However, the sword itself does not possess a poisonous effect, so it cannot be used unless through methods such as asking Minnalis to help with applying the poison.
This sword consumes a small amount of mana poured into it to convert the power of long-ranged enemy attacks into power for itself.
However, it does not possess any attack power to begin with, so the above method is the only way to defeat an enemy with it.
Considering my status and MP, my choice is to unlock one of these three.
As I think about this decision, the pocket of my clothing that is supposed to hold an emergency-use potion begins to let out a golden-colored light.
「Ah, it’s fine, don’t worry.」(Kaito)
Calming down the panicking Minnalis with a wave of my hand, I pull out the small bottle that I received from Duphein from the potion pocket.
This bottle contains a golden, metallic-looking liquid. As I open the lid and set it on the ground, it sparkles as it crawls out of the bottle like a slime and begins to creep up a nearby wall.
「It took longer than I thought, huh. It would be meaningless if the princess’s burns haven’t healed yet, though. Now let’s see, I wonder what’s going to happen?」(Kaito)
I’ve altered this magic that I showed such unsightly behavior to get my hands on. I took utmost care to make sure its camouflage wouldn’t be seen through with one glance.
Either way, like the very first thing I did to the knights and the princess, this is just harassment. But there would be nothing better than for it to succeed.
It’s just a pity that even though I can confirm that it’s working, I won’t be able to directly see the princess suffering as a result. Because of the effect it has, there’s nothing I can do about it, though.
While I was thinking about this, the mysterious slime has climbed up the wall to the height of my chest and spread to become thin and flat against its surface, turning into something like a TV screen.
An image of a certain place is projected on it.
「It’s the royal capital’s audience hall, you saw it when you became my accomplice, didn’t you?」(Kaito)
The image displayed on the screen is that of the king, queen, their knights and the princess.