Right now, Hajime and the rest of his class gathered in front of the entrance to the 【Orcus Great Dungeon】.
Hajime had imagined a dark gloomy entrance, but instead he found something that looked like museum. It even had a reception desk at the side of the entrance. A uniformed big sister with beautiful smile was inspecting the people who entered and left the dungeon. In brief, their work here was to inspect the Status Plate, and record the number of people who entered and left the dungeon to accurately pinpoint the death toll. With the war nearing, this was the method they adopted to avoid more casualties than necessary.
On the plaza near the entrance, there were many stalls lined up. All the shop owners were trying to promote their own goods. It was like a festival. This place was a popular area to earn money because people would naturally gather here. There were many foolish people who challenged the dungeon haughtily, which ended with them losing their life. The dungeon’s back alleys also seemed to attract criminal activities. However, with the war coming, they didn’t want to have any internal conflicts, so the Adventurer Guild and Kingdom worked together with a common goal in mind. The venue beside the entrance was a place where the materials were traded. The treasures obtained by the adventurers would be exchanged for money there.
While the class was looking around like country bumpkins, they followed behind Commander Meld like ducklings following their mother.
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The inside of the Dungeon was totally different to the bustling of the outside. There was no lamp at the five meter wide passage, yet it was emitting a dim light, it was possible to see to some extent even without any illumination magic or torches. It seemed like a lot of special green stones were buried in the walls, one could excavate a huge vein of these green stones from 【Orcus Great Dungeon】.
The party organized into ranks and pressed forward. For a while, nothing of interest happened until they advanced into a certain hall. This hall was dome shaped and the ceiling looked to be around 7-8 meter high. Then, in front of the party that seemed to be looking for treasures in the circular hall, gray fluffy balls gushed out from the crevices in the wall.
“Okay, Kouki’s group, step forward. Everyone else fall back! Follow the instructions you received before setting off! Get ready! These Magic Beasts are called Ratmen. Their movement is quick, but they are not very strong. Just stay calm.”
Just like he said, the Ratmen ran over with considerable speed. Their scarlet eyes shone eerily from their gray matted heads. Their name suited them. The Ratman was a very fitting name, their outward appearance looked very similar to a rat…… They were bipedal Magic Beasts and had a muscular upper body. As if to show off their six packs and chest muscle, those parts were not covered by hair.
The front-line was comprised of Kouki and his party. When Shizuku, who was in his party, saw the enemy, her face stiffened up. The Ratman gave off a creepy feeling. Kouki, Shizuku, and Ryutaro intercepted the charging Ratman. Meanwhile, two girls that were close to Kaori started to chant. The girls were Nakamura Eri, a glasses-wearing girl, and her friend Taniguchi Suzu the energetic loli. They were preparing to invoke their magic, staying in the formation like they were taught.
Kouki wielded his cross-shaped sword with unfathomable speed. He quickly made short work of the few enemies. His sword was one of the divine artifacts that was given to him by Hairihi Kingdom, the 【Holy Sword】. The sword had a light attribute. Any enemies caught in the light that the sword produced would be weakened, and it also automatically strengthened its wielder. Even if it was called a “Holy” sword, it certainly had some troublesome abilities.
Ryutaro’s class was a “Fist Fighter”, so he used gauntlets and shin guards as his equipment. These were also divine artifacts, they could produce shock-waves, and the power was definitely not lacking in any way. Ryutaro took an imposing stance and did not let any enemy get past him with beautiful kicks and punches. Though he was unarmed, he played the role of a heavy armored tank.
Shizuku, like the Samurai girl she was, her class was “Swordswoman”. She took a battojutsu ⌈1⌋ stance and drew her sword that looked like a Shamshir. ⌈2⌋ All the enemies were cut in an instant. That agile movement caused the knights to sighs in admiration.
While Hajime and other students were fascinated by the battle, a chant resounded.
”Swirling Dark Flames, Incinerate My Enemies, Return them to the Earth as Ashes, 【Spiral Flame】.”
Three people simultaneously launched the spiraling flames which engulfed the Ratmen. The Ratmen let out a death cry as the flames turned them to ashes.
By the time they noticed, all the Ratmen in the hall were wiped out. The other students didn’t get a turn. It seemed like the enemies on the first level were too weak for Kouki’s party.
“Ahhh~ good job! Next time you guys give it a try, but don’t lower your guard!”
While facing the outstanding students, Commander Meld smiled bitterly as he warned the group not to let up. However, after successfully subduing Magic Beasts for the first time, it was unavoidable for them to feel excited. The student’s faces broke out into smiles. Commander Meld just shrugged his shoulders and said, “It can’t be helped.”
“Anyway, good job on your performance this time, don’t forget to retrieve the Magic Stone. But still, wasn’t that a bit overkill just now?”
Commander Meld was clearly admonishing the rear-support, the girls in Kaori’s group knew they overdid it and began to blush.
There were no particular problems from there onwards, they took turns in battles, and made their way to the lower levels smoothly. Eventually, they arrived at the 20th floor, which is the mark of a first-class adventurer. The highest level explored was the 65th floor, but this achievement was accomplished by adventurers over 100 years ago. Getting to the 40th level now is considered the work of an Elite Adventurer. Any who passed the 20th level were considered first-class. Since all the students were cheats, they easily broke through to the 20th level, even if they did not have much battle experience.
However, traps were the scariest feature of a dungeon. In some instances, the traps were lethal. Fair Scope was the best countermeasure against traps. This is a gadget that detected traps by perceiving the flow of magic. As most traps in the dungeons use magic, the Fair Scope can detect more than 80% of the traps. However, the detecting range was somewhat narrow, so in order to progress smoothly, experience or information was needed.
As they quickly breezed through the floors, the Knights could only focus on guiding them. However, Commander Meld strongly admonished them; They were not to move about randomly in places that haven’t been confirmed for traps.
“Alright, you guys. From this point on, not only will there be other types of Magic Beasts, but they will work together to attack us. Do not get careless just because it had been easy so far! The training for today will end after we clear the 20th floor! Get fired up!”
Commander Meld’s voice was very low but it resounded clearly. Up to this point, Hajime had not done anything in particular. Once, he practiced on a Magic Beast that the knights had weakened. He created a pitfall on the ground, and skewered the dog-like Magic Beast that fell into the trap. That was all he did. Basically, there was no chance for him to get involved in the group battle, he just stood behind the cover provided by the knights. It was pretty pathetic. Even so, his magic power still improved by repeatedly using his “Synergy” skill in combat, therefore it was not meaningless. His magic power was raised by two points, so actual combat was still very beneficial.
(But still, I’m totally a parasite player, sigh……)
Again, a weakened Magic Beast was thrown to Hajime by the Knights. When it approached, Hajime transmuted the ground and let out a sigh. Its abdomen was skewered by the sharp sword in the pothole, it doesn’t seem like it will be able anymore.
(Well, it seems like my precision with transmutation has gone up…… Let’s do it one step at a time……)
Hajime consumed a magic replenishing pill as he wiped the sweat off his brow. Hajime had not noticed, but there were several knights that were impressed with him.
To be honest, the knights did not expect anything from him in the beginning. However, since the battle was well-off, they paid a little attention to Hajime who had nothing to do at the back, and pushed a few Magic Beasts to him. Of course, the Magic Beasts were weakened beforehand.
The knights had assumed Hajime would fight with his sword, despite not knowing how to swing a sword. Instead, Hajime effectively sealed off the opponent’s movements with transmutation, and stabbed them to death in the end. He brought down the Magic Beasts with a strategy that the Knights had never seen before. “Synergist” was considered a crafting class, that was a common knowledge. Therefore, they had never thought of using the transmutation skill like that in combat.
Since he did not have anything else, Hajime’s only weapon was his transmutation skill. He figured that if he could manipulate minerals, why couldn’t he manipulate the ground too? He came up with this strategy while thinking about such a thing. Since he was surrounded by so many strong people, he felt his all-out effort was useless. This was the first public exhibition of his tactic. After making a fool of himself in the combat training at the outskirts of the capital, he came up with this tactic.
They stopped for a short rest. Hajime who looked forward occasionally and made eye contact with Kaori. She looked towards Hajime and smiled at him. Kaori seemed to be keeping an eye on him after last night’s declaration to “protect” him. This caused Hajime to be embarrassed and broke the eye contact. Her expression sulked slightly at that. Shizuku who had been observing what was going on wore a wry smile on her face, then she asked in a quiet voice.
“Kaori, why are you two constantly looking at each other? Thinking about a romantic comedy in the dungeon, are you?”
Kaori blushed at the teasing and refuted Shizuku angrily.
“Mou-! Shizuku-chan! Don’t say strange things! I was just wondering if Nagumo-kun was alright. That’s all!”
The romantic comedy was already in full swing with that remark, because Kaori began to sulk for real. Shizuku kept her mouth shut, but the laughter in her eyes indicated that it was a fact. After seeing that, Kaori puffed her cheeks and muttered in a low voice, “Seriously!”
Hajime kept casting sidelong glances at them, but he suddenly felt a gaze that made him straighten his backbone. The unpleasant gaze was filled with negative emotions. To date, Hajime had felt similar stares in the classroom, but this feeling he get from this gaze was incomparably deep and heavy.
It was not the first time today that he felt that gaze. Since the morning he had felt someone staring. When he tried to locate the stare, this feeling would disappear. This had happened repeatedly since the morning, Hajime was already getting tired of it.
(I wonder what it is…… did I do something? ……I was trying hard despite being an incompetence…… Could that be the reason? Don’t joke around! Who’s the scoundrel? ……Sigh~)
Hajime let out a deep sigh. He started getting the bad premonition Kaori had mentioned.
The party continued to explore the 20th floor. Each level of the dungeon was several kilometer square. It would normally take dozens of people up to one month to map out all the unknown areas. Currently, up to forty seven levels have been mapped properly, so it was not that easy to get lost. There was also little concern that they would get caught in traps.
The innermost room of the 20th level had a very complicated geographical feature. The walls were protruding like a stalactite cave and icicle-like rocks formed around the room. The stairs to the 21st floor were just ahead of this room. If they reached that point, the training would be done for the day. In ancient times, they were able to wield teleportation magic, but in this current age, such means were impossible. They had to head back the old fashion way. The party relaxed slightly, since the walls were protruding they couldn’t spread out and had to advance in a column.
At this time, Kouki’s party and Commander Meld whom were at the front stopped. The surprised classmates also got into their fighting stance with confused look. Clearly, they encountered some Magic Beasts.
“They’re camouflaged! Make sure to pay attention to your surroundings!”
Commander Meld advised them. After that, the wall suddenly rose and discolored. The body that was camouflaged was now dark brown, and the creature that appeared stood on two legs. It raised its chest and started to pound on it like a drum. It seemed like a Gorilla-type Magic Beast with chameleon’s camouflage ability.
“They’re Rockmounts! Be careful of their arms, they are strong!”
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Commander Meld’s voice reverberated in the cave-like room. The Rockmount beside Kouki’s party threw itself at them. Ryutaro’s fist was able to reflect the powerful arm of the Rockmount. Kouki and Shizuku tried to surround the beast, but they could not get into position due to the influence of the terrain.
When the Rockmount felt that it could not get past Ryutaro, it bent its body downward and inhaled a deep breath. After that…
It let out an intense roar like this, which caused the whole room to shake.
A shock ran through their bodies, it did not damage them, but paralyzed them instead. This was the Rockmount’s unique magic【Intimidating Roar】. The roar carried a magic that caused temporary paralysis.
Kouki and vanguards took the roar almost point-blank, causing them to freeze momentarily. The Rockmount took this chance to slip to the side. It lifted a boulder and threw it at the rear guards with a beautiful shot-put throw! The rock flew over the vanguards, towards Kaori and the rest.
Kaori and her teammates readied the magic staves in their hands to intercept the boulder. There was not enough room to dodge. However, the moment they were going to activate their magic, they froze when they noticed what was thrown them.
The boulder that was thrown at them was in fact another Rockmount. As it neared Kaori’s group, it did a stunning rotation and spread its arms out. It almost seemed to be calling out to Kaori as it performed a Lupin Dive. ⌈³⌋ Strangely, its eyes were bloodshot and its breathing was rough. Kaori, Eri, and Suzu unintentionally screamed and stopped their magic.
“Hey! What are you doing? This is a battle!”
In a hurry, Commander Meld leapt out to intercept the Rockmount that was swooping down fast. “S-sorry.” The girls apologized like this, but the negative feeling was still there. Their face had turned pale.
There was a youngster who got mad at such a situation. It was our hero, Amanogawa Kouki.
“*******…… You dare treat them like that…… I won’t forgive you!”
Kouki seemed to have misunderstood the girls’ disgust as fear for their impending death. ‘You dare to frighten the girls like that!’ Kouki got a little angry due to his misunderstanding. His Holy Sword seemed to shine in response to his feelings.
“Myriad of Soaring Wings, Reach the Heavens, 【Soaring Flash】!”
“Ah, you idiot, stop it now!”
Ignoring Commander Meld’s voice, Kouki brandished his sword over his head and swung it down in one motion. His chant had made the sword emit an intense light, and the slash released a blade of light. Drawing a curve, the light bisected the Rockmount without encountering any resistance. The blade of light continued on until it destroyed the wall beyond.
Debris lightly fell from the damaged wall. Kouki exhaled and gave the girls a sparkling smile. He had defeated the monster that scared them. It’s alright now! Commander Meld approached him with a smile and smacked him.
“You fool. I understand how you feel, but you shouldn’t use a skill like that in such a narrow place! If the tunnel collapsed, what are you going to do?”
Facing Commander Meld’s vehement rebuke, Kouki could only lower his head. The girls approached him with a wry smile and tried to comfort him. At that moment, the collapsed wall caught Kaori’s attention.
“……Eh? What is that? It’s sparkling……?”
Hearing this, everyone looked at the wall Kaori was pointing at. Blooming on the wall were minerals that radiated pale light. It was like a crystal covered in indicolite. The girls were enchanted by the beautiful sight of the crystals.
“Hoh~ That’s Grantz Crystal. One this big in size is rare.”
When talking about Grantz Crystal, it was an ore that looked like a jewel. The crystal did not have any special effects, but its gorgeous and sparkling appearance was popular among the ladyship. Rings, earrings, pendants, and other jewelries processed from these crystal are very well received. It was one of the top three choices as proposal rings.
Hearing Commander Meld’s simple explanation, Kaori’s cheeks blushed. She took a glance at Hajime without anyone noticing. However, Shizuku was the only ones who noticed this.
“If that’s the case, we should retrieve it!”
The one who said that and abruptly moved toward it was Hiyama. He approached the wall that was embedded with Grantz Crystal, and climbed up with sounds of tiny rocks falling. Commander Meld shouted in panic.
“Hey-! Don’t just do what you want! We haven’t confirmed if it’s safe!”
However, Hiyama pretended not to hear and finally arrived in front of the crystal. Commander Meld chased after Hiyama to stop him. At that moment, one of the knight finished his analysis with the Fair Scope. And then his face turned pale.
“Commander! It’s a trap!”
However their warnings came a little too late. The moment Hiyama touched the Grantz Crystal, magic circle started to spread from the crystal. The trap was set for people who became so fascinated with the crystal that they would touch it carelessly. Beautiful mushroom tend to be poisonous. It’s the way of the world.
In a blink of an eye, the magic circle spread throughout the whole room, and it gradually became brighter. It was like a replication of the magic that summoned them.
“Withdraw! Get out of the room this instant!”
At Commander Meld’s command, everyone started to run towards the exit…… but they weren’t fast enough. When the light filled the room, everyone momentary felt a floating sensation. Following that, they were slammed onto the ground with a thud.
Everyone let out a groan due to their sore butt, Hajime looked at the surrounding, most of his classmates were stroking their butt like him. Commander Meld, the knights, Kouki, and the vanguards quickly stood up and observed their surroundings. Seems like the magic earlier was a teleportation magic. A magic that the modern day mage couldn’t even use was casted with ease, the magic from the Age of God was truly worthy to be called a cheat.
They were all transferred onto a huge bridge made of stone. It was about hundred meter in length. The ceiling looked to be about twenty meter tall. There was no river underneath the bridge, there was only a bottomless abyss. If they fell, it would probably feel like falling into hell.
The width of the bridge was about ten meter, but let’s not say the handrails, even the edge was rounded. If you slipped there would be nothing to grab on to, and you would fall head-first. The group was right in the middle of the bridge. On both sides of the bridge, they could see a stairway that led to the upper level. After confirming it, Commander Meld issued the orders with a grim expression.
“You guys, get up immediately! Go towards the stairs. Hurry!”
Hearing the thunderous orders from Commander Meld, the students who were on the ground got up immediately. However, the dungeon’s trap was not only at this level, it wouldn’t let them escape so easily. Magic Beasts emerged from the magic circles that appeared on both sides of the bridge. A huge Magic Beast appeared on one side of the passage. The other passage had a large amount of monsters.
At this time, Commander Meld stared at the huge Magic Beast with blank expression, his mumbles was transmitted loud and clear.
“This couldn’t be…… a Behemoth……?”