The seventh floor of Garan’s Valley.
The reason the Titan population had grown to over five thousand and prospered enough to build a city-nation was in this place.
「The rock salt! Mine the rock salt!」(Titan)
『There aren’t any monsters to hinder us, are there?!』(Titan)
「Searching for the enemy, all clear~!」(Titan)
Indeed, high-quality rock salt could be harvested from the cliffs on this floor.
Salt was an important product, a necessity. Talosheim had relied on this Dungeon as its salt supply.
In this land trapped inside a mountain range containing numerous Devil’s Nests, there was no trading with outside nations until the tunnel leading to the Orbaume Kingdom was discovered, reaching the sea would have required the Titans to journey through multiple Devil’s Nests.
Thus, the seventh floor of Garan’s Valley had been the only place that salt could be obtained.
If the Titans had never discovered this Dungeon, Talosheim wouldn’t have existed and the Titan population would have remained in the hundreds.
Of course, this was still a part of the Dungeon so monsters would still appear. And since the monsters appearing on this seventh floor were Rank 4, not 3, it was more dangerous than the sixth floor.
Monkeys that possessed rocky carapaces, Rock Monkeys.
Kobold Mages able to cast spells and Kobold Generals capable of using martial skills.
And Stone Golems that were even larger than the Titans.
All of these were monsters that would require at least middle-class adventurers to take them on.
The way the Titans had mined salt from such a dangerous place was to have the laborers become at least as proficient in battle as middle-class adventurers.
『I won’t let you interfere with our mining!』(Titan)
The armored, pickaxe-wielding laborers fighting heroically against monsters had been a sight to behold, and later when adventurers from the Orbaume Kingdom came to Talosheim for trading, they were told that the miners didn’t need escorts.
That hadn’t changed even after the Titans had become Undead.
『UOOOOH! MISO! THE SOURCE OF MISOOOOOO!』(Titan)
『I want fish sauce!』(Titan)
『If any monsters get in our way, we’ll fry them in miso and eat them!』(Titan)
No, perhaps they were even more ferocious than they had been in the past.
The idea that Undead do not eat is a misconception.
It is true that lowly Skeletons and Ghosts do not feel hunger or possess a sense of taste. However, Zombies and Undead of a certain Rank and above feel hunger and have a sense of taste.
Of course, as the biological processes of Undead have stopped, they do not need to eat. They have no problems continuing to function even if they do not eat for years at a time.
However, they cannot escape the restrictions of having once been living creatures entirely. They still retain some of their primitive needs.
Out of the three main needs*, the need for sleep is the one that disappears entirely. Undead do not tire, so they do not need sleep. If they try to sleep they can reach a state similar to being asleep, but this is in carried out in order to recover from mental fatigue rather than physical, and is done more for self-satisfaction.
Interestingly, the need to reproduce remains. As the body has already died, there is no desire to leave offspring behind, but the deed is still physically possible. It is carried out by some to absorb spirit from the living and by those that died with a strong liking for engaging in intercourse.
And the need that remains in its entirety is hunger. This desire that remains in the souls of the Undead drives Zombies to eat the flesh of the living and drink their blood to absorb the Mana contained within and gain experience.
Skeletons and Spirit-type Undead can also increase their Rank to become superior versions of Undead, gain the【Spirit Form】skill to gain a replacement for flesh and consume the flesh and blood of the living or even absorb their Vitality in a more direct way.
The Undead Titans of Talosheim were no exception; they ate as much as they liked. Most of the food they had been eating was the flesh and blood of monsters brought into the city, but from time to time they also ate the surrounding grass, tree branches and rock fragments.
But after Vandalieu and the Ghouls had arrived, they had been eating tasty foods such as spit-roasted meat, food baked in leaves and things covered in walnut-and-basil sauce.
And the things that had recently made an impact among them were the「fish sauce」,「walnut miso」and「acorn miso」that Vandalieu had created.
These were the seasonings that the champion Zakkart had tried and failed to reproduce, things that hadn’t existed in Lambda before. They had caused a culture shock on the Titans’ tongues and one by one, they had charmed those who tasted it.
『Miso miso miso MIIIIIIISOOOOOOO!』(Titan)
『My head hurts! I’m seeing things! Miso, give me misoooooo!』(Titan)
… Perhaps it was just an addiction.
「Van, could it be that those seasonings you made have addictive properties?」(Basdia)
「No… At least, they shouldn’t. Right?」(Vandalieu)
Vandalieu answered Basdia’s question with his eyes fixed on the Titans who were mining the salt in a bloodshot-eyed frenzy, but it was clear even with his expressionless face that he had no confidence in that answer.
「I think I made it with the same recipe as on Earth, and I never heard of the fermented foods I created with death-attribute magic in Origin having any addictive properties... No, maybe I just didn’t know about it? Or maybe the walnuts and acorns I used contained compounds that I don’t know about, and that’s what’s causing these strange effects…」(Vandalieu)
『Even Father was delighted with its taste. Isn’t it possible that it is just very delicious?』(Saria)
Sam had recently increased the level of his【Spirit Form】skill and had become able to taste food. Saria suggested a possibility based on Sam’s reaction when he had first tried the miso.
『It’s unfair for only Father to be eating it, isn’t it?』(Rita)
The dissatisfied Rita and Saria were indeed suits of Living Armor with no mouths. They were still unable to eat or taste food.
「I wonder if that’s true. Well, the one called Baridge who was saying that his head hurts apparently has hallucinations regularly so, it might be.」(Vandalieu)
「Van, I can’t really feel at ease about that. Is Baridge alright?」(Basdia)
「Who knows? Apparently while he was alive, his hands would start shaking if he ran out of alcohol, so I think there is nothing that can be done about it.」(Vandalieu)
『Even if you consume alcohol, do not allow it to consume you.』(Saria)
「Yeah, I’ll make sure not to drink too much alcohol.」(Vandalieu)
As Vandalieu said this, they passed by the Undead Titans who were spiritedly mining the rock salt and decided to set up camp for the night on the seventh floor.
What Vandalieu could really call a Dungeon clearing began from the eighth floor.
There was nobody training on this floor, nor were there any Undead Titans mining rocks and salt, so they could encounter monsters with normal frequency.
And in Garan’s Valley, where the floors had fundamentally simple layouts, it was impossible to hide from the monsters unless the entire party was made of scouting-type members like Thieves or someone was capable of using illusion magic.
『Bocchan! I thought these were those rock-like monkeys, but they are just Stone Golems!』(Saria)
「They’re so hard; can’t you do something about them with【Golem Transmutation?】」(Basdia)
「No, I can only manipulate Golems I created myself, so let’s have Bone Monkey and the others mow them down.」(Vandalieu)
From this floor onwards, multiple Rank 3 monsters could appear simultaneously. There was a difference between Golems that had only numbers with no coordination and groups of Kobold Knights or Kobold Archers that had excellent coordination, but the battle was definitely more difficult than any encounter on the seventh floor.
If an average adventurer were to face the Stone Golems that Bone Monkey had beaten down, they would find it to be a considerably difficult battle. D-class adventurers might think that it would be fine if they just used their weapons, but using weapons consumes Mana.
Many frontline-fighting adventurers do not possess an abundant amount of Mana.
In that regard, Vandalieu and his party possessed more than enough strength to clear Garan’s Valley. All of them were Rank 4 and above except for Vandalieu. And if he really needed to, Vandalieu would simply make use of his vast Mana pool to push his way through.
In fact, it could be said that there was no way that they would have difficulty in this Dungeon.
「Fuh… The feeling of gaining Experience Points for the first time in about two years is quite pleasant.」(Vandalieu)
Well, if he had to risk his life every time he wanted to gain Experience Points, no number of lives would be enough, so this was perfect.
『Jyuh, my lord, how is your level?』(Bone Man)
「Hmm… I still haven’t even reached level 10.」(Vandalieu)
However, the amount of crucial Experience Points that he could gain was only this much.
Vandalieu currently possessed the【Death-Attribute Mage】Job, but it seemed that leveling up this Job was difficult. He still hadn’t reached level 10 yet.
「How about you, Basdia?」(Vandalieu)
「I underwent a Job-change from【Apprentice Warrior】to【Warrior】, and now I’m level 14.」(Basdia)
「Hmm, let’s ask Borkus and the others when we return to Talosheim.」(Vandalieu)
Borkus would likely know whether different Jobs required different amounts of Experience Points to level up. He was an A-class adventurer who had been praised as the【Sword King.】
He had lost his Job after becoming an Undead, but there was no doubt that he had mastered several Jobs beginning from an Apprentice Job.
Since that was something that happened about two hundred years ago, it was possible that he had lost his memories regarding that, however.
「My Attribute Values are increasing, though only little by little, so let’s proceed without being too impatient.」(Vandalieu)
『How much have they increased by?』(Saria)
「Each of my Attribute Values have increased by one to ten points. My mana has increased by about two percent.」(Vandalieu)
『I see. There is still a long way to go, isn’t there?』(Saria)
「… If we’re talking about your Mana, it’s increased by two million? It never fails to amaze me.」(Basdia)
Vandalieu continued fighting the monsters that appeared with everyone else, holding back so that he didn’t deal the killing blow. The【Unable to gain Experience Points independently】curse was truly inconvenient.
Incidentally, this curse still allowed him to gain around a tenth of the Experience Points earned by his allies and servants, and he had gained a general understanding of the conditions for this.
It seemed that the fundamental requirement was that Vandalieu’s allies or servants gained experience within his field of vision. Borrowing Bone Bird’s vision to watch Bone Man defeating monsters in a faraway location did not gain Vandalieu Experience Points.
It seemed the condition wasn’t met if Vandalieu didn’t witness it with his own eyes. Apparently there were no binoculars or telescopes in Lambda; would using those to see further perhaps not count? What if he was wearing vision-correcting glasses?
There were apparently Magic Items that acted as glasses for farsightedness, so Vandalieu had decided to test them out if he ever obtained such an item.
Depending on the results of such a test, Vandalieu’s eyes might become an important lifeline for him, so this needed to be verified as soon as possible.
… He didn’t know how to create binoculars or a telescope, so he couldn’t test those, however.
「Ah, but if I made Golems out of glass, maybe I could at least create lenses? If their magnification is low, then perhaps…」(Vandalieu)
「Van! It’s dangerous to contemplate things in the middle of battle!」(Basdia)
「It’s alright; I’m finished now.」(Vandalieu)
Even finishing off the occasional enemy himself to increase his【Unarmed Fighting】skill, Vandalieu finally reached the tenth floor. This was the deepest floor in Garan’s Valley.
A Rock Gorilla even larger than a Titan let out a roar, baring its fangs. It made loud, crashing sounds by drumming its thick chest with its fists as an intimidation tactic.
It was Rank 4, but it was one of the more powerful Rank 4 monsters. It had no special abilities, but it was as hard and strong as it appeared, and was actually more intelligent than its appearance suggested. It was capable of casting multiple earth-element spells.
「It’s weak for the big boss of a D-class Dungeon, isn’t it?」(Vandalieu)
「So it seems. It’s probably a mid-boss.」(Basdia)
As if aware that Vandalieu and Basdia were insulting it, the Rock Gorilla let out a short roar and ran towards them on all fours at a speed that they hadn’t expected considering its appearance.
Bone Monkey stood in its way to prevent it from reaching them. A monkey of bone and a monkey of rock collided with a crash.
Bone Monkey’s bones creaked. They were even in physical strength, but the Rock Gorilla who had flesh covered in a carapace had an advantage over Bone Monkey who was made of only bones and a little spirit-form.
Confident in its victory, the Rock Gorilla let out a strangely human-like sneer.
As it sneered, it took Bone Monkey’s poisonous breath directly in the face.
With its eyes and nose that weren’t protected by its carapace struck by the poison, the Rock Gorilla let go of Bone Monkey and clutched its face.
The resulting events were very one-sided. The Rock Gorilla was certainly a powerful monster, even for a Rank 4. However, looking at it another way, its strength could not even match a Rank 5 monster.
But it was facing eight Rank 4 monsters. Basdia didn’t step into the fight, but even so, it was more of a lynching than a battle.
If the Rock Gorilla had kept its distance without charging in and used its earth-attribute magic as its primary way of attacking, it could have at least put up a proper fight. However, perhaps because of the Dungeon’s influence, it had become more ferocious and aggressive.
After defeating the Rock Gorilla, Vandalieu cast【Disinfect】to remove the poison. Its Magic Stone was collected, its meat that had a strong, peculiar taste but made a good soup when boiled with herbs was collected,【Sterilization】and【Bug Killer】were cast on its organs and these became ingredients for today’s lunch.
Also, the carapace could be used as a catalyst to create armor that granted increased resistance to earth-attribute magic, so they took that with them as well.
After casting【Preservation】on these harvested materials, Vandalieu turned them into a Flesh Golem and had them move on their own. With this, Vandalieu’s party could maintain their mobility while proceeding through this dangerous Dungeon.
More effort was needed to guard the mass of materials that had been turned into a Flesh Golem and preventing it from eaten by monsters, but since the party had many members, it was not really a problem.
「Now then, shall we go down?」(Vandalieu)
Garan’s Valley had originally been a shallow, D-class Dungeon with ten floors. However, perhaps because it had been abandoned for over two hundred years, there were three more floors.
That was why a mid-boss had appeared here.
Dungeons with eleven or more floors spawn mid-bosses. They appear roughly every ten floors, and they are known as mid-bosses because they are stronger than regular monsters but not as powerful as bosses.
For example, a Dungeon with twenty-seven floors would have a mid-boss appearing on the tenth and twentieth floors, and then a boss on the twenty-seventh floor.
It is common for an adventurer party in the midst of clearing a Dungeon that has never been cleared yet defeating a powerful enemy and thinking,「This was definitely the boss of this Dungeon」, only to discover a staircase leading further down instead of a treasure storage chamber, revealing that the powerful enemy they defeated was merely a mid-boss.
「I heard from Borkus and the others that once you defeat a mid-boss, the difficulty of the Dungeon increases. Let’s proceed with caution, everyone.」(Basdia)
With renewed enthusiasm, Vandalieu’s party descended to the eleventh floor.
From the eleventh floor onwards, Rank 4 monsters leading Rank 3 monsters appeared.
They were all groups of monsters that coordinated well with their allies, such as Kobold Knights led by a Kobold Mage and Rock Monkeys under the command of a Rock Gorilla.
And on the thirteenth floor, multiple Rank 4 monsters began to appear simultaneously. Even Vandalieu’s party began having some difficulty dealing with these.
When they encountered a group of Hell Hounds that kept their distance and spat flaming breath attacks at them, Vandalieu fired several【Mana Bullets】at them, turning some of them into lumps of meat, knowing that some of the Experience Points and materials would go to waste.
When multiple Rock Golems appeared at once, everyone had to go all-out with the use of their martial skills and then recovered their Mana through Vandalieu’s【Mana Transfer】afterwards.
And there was the occasional trap laid out starting from the eleventh floor. A triggered trap had caused a boulder to fall down on them, but Vandalieu held nothing back as he used his Mana to crush it. The boulder wouldn’t have given them Experience Points either way.
However, they were able to gather a considerable harvest from the treasure chests that had begun to appear.
「Even though the Dungeon is close to Talosheim, the weapons inside the treasure chests are human-sized, huh.」(Vandalieu)
Looking at the handle of a steel sword, it was clearly a human-sized broadsword rather than a Titan-sized short sword.
This was a Dungeon in a land inhabited by no people other than Titans for the past hundred thousand years; why did the treasure chests contain weapons for human use? As Vandalieu wondered this, Basdia, who had been into multiple Dungeons, explained why.
「This is the first time I’ve gone this deep into a Dungeon, but I’ve heard that this isn’t that uncommon.」(Basdia)
Adventurers had discovered that the contents of treasure chests in Dungeons change depending on the person who opened it and that person’s allies.
Of course, it isn’t as if Dungeons understand what the adventurers want and prepare it for them inside the chests. They simply change the size and specifications of the item.
For example, a party made entirely of Titans would find Titan-sized weapons and armor. Conversely, if a party was made entirely of Dwarves whose height only reaches a human’s chest, they would find Dwarf-sized equipment.
A Dwarf party wouldn’t find Titan-sized armor inside a treasure chest, or vice-versa.
There is a theory that evil gods had created the Dungeons and made it like this to tempt adventurers more easily. There is another explanation that the genie Ricklent, who created the Dungeons for people to use as places to train, made it this way to provide more motivation for those who used them.
「… It’s true that nobody would be tempted or have any motivation to get treasures that didn’t meet their needs. Well, it’s convenient, so either explanation is fine for me.」(Vandalieu)
Vandalieu shared the thoughts of many adventurers in regard to the debates that happened between scholars as he made the Flesh Golem hold the steel sword.
And the monsters that appeared in the boss chamber of the thirteenth floor were an Orc General and four Orc Knights.
「I thought it would definitely be some kind of rocky monster.」(Vandalieu)
『What will we do, Bocchan?』(Saria)
「What will we do, you say… There’s no way we will leave without defeating them, right?」(Vandalieu)
None of them could hide their disappointment, as they had killed plenty of Orcs during the winter of this year. Unaware of this, the Orc General became enraged with the pride of a Dungeon boss, but it was an easy victory for Vandalieu and his party.
「Well, it is Rank 5 so I did get a lot of Experience Points, their meat tastes good and I was thinking of getting some lard, so it’s perfect, I suppose.」(Vandalieu)
「But even the pack of Hell Hounds was more of a tough battle.」(Basdia)
The party was in strangely low spirits as they harvested the treasure from the treasure storage chamber. The Undead Titans and Ghouls had been forming parties together and clearing this Dungeon over and over recently, so it was nothing outstanding.
Furthermore, the Adventurers’ Guild of two hundred years ago had installed items that allowed teleportation in each of Talosheim’s Dungeons.
These items allowed them to return from the treasure storage room to the surface in an instant.
Depending on the Dungeon, they apparently allowed one to return to the surface from any floor or teleport from the surface to any previously-visited floor.
What a convenient world this was.
【Basdia has become a Rank 5 Ghoul Amazoness!】
「How was the Dungeon-clearing, boy?」(Zadiris)
Vandalieu had returned to Talosheim and was taking a bath in the royal castle when Zadiris came in.
「It was alright, Mother. Van is currently able to defeat a Kobold Knight without using his magic.」(Basdia)
Basdia, who was in the bath with him, answered for him.
If one were to ask why this had become a mixed bath, the reason was because Vigaro had revealed that he had discovered Vandalieu with his head completely submerged in the water.
The idea that allowing Vandalieu to bathe on his own would be dangerous was shared by everyone, so it had been decided that someone should be in the bath with him at all times.
It was often Vigaro or Borkus accompanying him, but this time, the two of them were busy clearing a different Dungeon.
Both Basdia and Zadiris were aware that Vandalieu possessed the memories of his previous life and the one before that, having lived for forty years in total, but perhaps the concept of shyness was different in Ghoul culture. They showed no signs of embarrassment at all.
『Well, my appearance is that of a three-year-old and my physical body is actually that of a three-year-old, so I suppose they don’t feel anything.』(Vandalieu)
He was sharing a bath with a tall, outstandingly beautiful woman and a beautiful young girl. The Vandalieu who had lived on Earth would have been staring at them with bloodshot eyes, suffered from a nosebleed from the excitement or perhaps he might have curled into a ball and averted his eyes instead.
After Basdia left the Dungeon, her Rank had suddenly increased and she had become a Ghoul Amazoness. It was a race that had never been reached by anyone in her village, but Vandalieu thought that the word “Amazoness” suited her.
In fact, her increased Attribute Values were apparently suited for a Warrior. Her Rank had likely increased because she had reached level 100 and met the requirements of leveling up multiple martial-type skills.
Though Basdia’s appearance hadn’t changed much, red tattoo-like patterns that looked as if they might have magical properties had appeared on her body.
As tattoos, they looked cool. Though they made her look more impressive, they also seemed to highlight her abundant curves.
Zadiris looked like a young girl, but she had a charming appearance… probably. With his three-year-old eyes, Vandalieu didn’t have the confidence to say for sure.
Even so, he knew that she was lovely and pretty.
But perhaps his mind was affected by the age of his body; he thought nothing other than,「Ah, they’re naked.」His heart didn’t begin throbbing, nor did he feel any arousal.
He was still at an age where most children would be unaware of things happening around them, and even his first love was still at least two or three years away, so this was how things were for now.
Could it be that ten years from now, he would regret not taking a better look?
「Hooh, that is quite impressive.」(Zadiris)
「Yeah. His skill is still level 1, but that’s probably because he receives no bonuses to the skill from his Job. His magic looked as if it had become stronger than before as well.」(Basdia)
「Come to think of it, it seems that your Rank has increased as well. These patterns that look as if they may be related to magic have appeared on your body; have you finally decided to learn magic?」(Zadiris)
「It seems that this is how Ghoul Amazonesses are. Maybe because of these patterns, I’ve gained resistance to magic. I don’t know if they have any other effect, but magic, huh… I’ll think about it after I have a child.」(Basdia)
「Ah, that reminds me, how is the Magic Item? It should increase the chance of a successful pregnancy when worn.」(Vandalieu)
The three-year-old boy casually changed the topic of conversation to baby-making. It seemed that the problem of Ghoul fertility would be solved with the distribution of these Magic Items, but it was true that they couldn’t become careless yet… If things went too well and too many children were born, they might face problems as there were no nurseries here, unlike on Earth.
Vandalieu asked the question with this in mind, but Basdia turned pale.
「It isn’t going well. Both my partner and I have been wearing the Magic Items, but…」(Basdia)
It seemed that they were simply not having an effect.
The Magic Items only made the egg cells and sperm survive about as long as those of humans, giving Ghouls the same chance of becoming pregnant as humans, but that didn’t mean that they guaranteed pregnancy.
Considering that, it wasn’t strange for her to still not be pregnant yet. Even healthy human couples sometimes took some time to conceive.
「Well then, I’ll use【Spirit Form】to have a look just in case, shall I?」(Vandalieu)
However, it was possible that there was some kind of problem. It was probably best to investigate it when there was time.
「Thanks, I’m counting on you.」(Basdia)
「It’s fine. I promised that I would spend a week in the city after I came back from the Dungeon, and I’ve also promised that I’ll be making some more Reversi sets later today.」(Vandalieu)
「Hmm, it seems that you have not forgotten about your promises with us. That is good, in more than one way.」(Zadiris)
Rules had been decided to prevent Vandalieu from becoming a black worker again.