|Author: Ryuusen Hirotsugu
|Original Source: Syosetu
|Word Count: 3254 characters
|English Source: Re:Library
|Word Count: 1515 words
Mira crossed the barrier with her pass, then continued walking at a leisure pace through the very long tunnel, at the end of which she reached an enormous city.
It was not too dark, but also not bright by any means. The first floor of the Ancient Underground City looked like an enormous cavern entirely repurposed into a city.
There were natural stone columns supporting the ceiling, while some rocky mounts had been dug into to become dwellings. Other than the rocky mounts, there were also bigger structures like castles, everything connected by various roads and bridges.
There were lamps and torches dotted around, which even while half rotten and falling apart, still managed to bring some light to the dungeon.
The ceiling was not too tall, with the biggest buildings reaching up to it. Because of that, the complex network of bridges and passages was constantly hidden behind the structures, making it hard to see very far ahead.
No one was left inhabiting those buildings, or walking along the long streets and corridors. It had all been turned into monster dens, and that continued throughout the entire first floor, which was many tens of kilometers wide.
(This place is as breathtaking as ever. It truly feels like I’m in a dungeon.)
Mira took the scenery in again, the sheer scale of everything reminding her of the nickname given to this place in the past. It was the title of one of the fundamental dungeon crawling RPGs.
The Ancient Underground City could be considered the ideal and perfect dungeon, large enough that it alone could be a full game by itself.
Mira slowly delved deeper into said dungeon.
She crossed a large bridge, easily wiping out the monsters that stopped her in the middle, and she reached a crossroads with multiple paths heading out.
There was a corridor leading to a large building that looked like a fort, stairs leading up to a different bridge, half of another bridge that had collapsed, ahead of which was the passage leading one floor down. The Ancient Underground City had countless crossroads like that, which combined with its size made it easy to get lost in.
But to Mira it was just a walk in the park.
「First straight ahead, then right, and the first key, right?」
Mira muttered to herself, retracing her memories as she walked over the collapsed bridge, then activating Sky Stride to walk in mid-air reaching the other side.
Each of the Ancient Underground City’s floors had a different rank requirement, meaning there was a great variety of monsters that spawned there, so it was a popular hunting ground even in the game. Mira had also used it as her training grounds for a long time, so she remembered enough to navigate her way around. That was how she could take the path with least effort to the lowest floor.
「That’s the first one.」
When Mira reached the end of the bridge, she headed to a nearby tower, and after clearing all the monsters inside with one hit, she touched a crystal ball on the top of the tower. A small glyph appeared on Mira’s palm after that.
It was necessary to gather five such glyphs before heading into a large temple, inside of which they would serve as key to a door leading to the second floor.
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Mira descended the tower and headed to the next location with a crystal ball. She went through a corridor, up a set of stairs, out a building, and casually jumped from one path to another. Sometimes she would encounter monsters, which she defeated in an instant, and moving through the most efficient route, she gathered all five glyphs in under one hour.
It could have been done faster if she flew on Pegasus everywhere, but Mira did not do that because she knew of the particular rule of the first floor.
It was something like an antique measure against crime, which stopped anyone who was in the air for more than a given time from entering the temple for twenty four hours.
There was a time when as Danbulf, she used Sky Stride liberally, but it was all for naught as she was stopped from proceeding to the second floor.
The next day, Mira learned that the effect was calculated by how long someone spent without their feet touching the ground. The details were all written in The Temple’s Guide, a book in the reference room of the tower with the crystal ball.
Once she learned about that effect, first she used Sky Stride as much as she could to measure how long the time limit was, and then planned out a fast route that required the least airtime to complete. While the floor was vast, the five keys were gathered in roughly the same area, making it easy for Mira to remember the route even now.
「Huh, I wonder if they’re meeting someone.」
Mira went to an area paved in worn stone bricks. The large temple was in front of her. She noticed a group of men and women sitting a distance away from there.
They only wore light equipment, so they looked a bit like a group of adventurers, but also not quite. She looked at them, wondering what they were doing, when they began waving at her.
She could hardly understand what that meant, so she just waved back at them, and continued walking toward the temple, looking down at the five glyphs on her palm.
「This place brings back memories too.」
For Mira, it had been a bit more than a year since she was last there. She grimaced, recalling how much she had to rely on her companions back then, and she placed her hand on the temple’s door. A moment later one of the glyphs started glowing and the large door creaked open. As soon as she entered the temple, the door closed behind her.
Mira was now inside the enormous cathedral-like temple.
There had to be some history to that place, as the windows were adorned with ancient stained glass, and multiple statues lay broken on the floor.
She skillfully avoided the debris on the floor, until she reached the doors on the other side. When she struck her hand forward, another glyph began to glow.
A path opened into a long corridor paved with white rock. There did not seem to be any monsters in the vicinity, just white lights dotted around.
She continued through the corridor, encountering three more doors she had to open with the glyphs. After crossing the last one, all the glyphs glowed for a bit before vanishing.
A short distance ahead she encountered the next barrier. She passed through it with the pass she obtained in the Union and came out to a large hall surrounded by stone walls.
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A group of monsters that spawned on the second floor were waiting there. It was essentially a warning, telling anyone who made it there to turn back if they struggled against those monsters. But they were no match against Mira, a single Dark Knight being enough to defeat all of them.
She had safely arrived at the second floor.
The Ancient Underground City’s second floor looked quite similar to the first floor, but it was only half the size. Each floor was more difficult than the last, but their area became smaller as well. The first floor was still incredibly vast however, making the final floor still as large as the capital of a large country, it was a rather unusual dungeon.
The biggest difference was that the restrictions on air-time were lifted on the second floor. Instead, combat actions near the temple were restricted, and if one broke them, the temple would not open for an entire day.
「I’m counting on you then, Pegasus.」
Since there was no restriction on air-time, summoning Pegasus felt like the ideal option for Mira, which she did very willingly, flying forth to gather the keys needed to enter the third floor.
Thanks to Pegasus, Mira could move around much faster than on the first floor. But on the other hand, the keys on the second floor had to be gathered in a specific order, and the towers where she obtained them were spread evenly around the entire floor, drawing a pentagram, unlike the five towers near each other on the first floor.
Still, Pegasus was a great help there. She skillfully flew through the corridors and bridges, circling around the towers to reach their top. Things were much easier compared to when she could not fly.
「Just one left now. Still, this is quite an annoying gimmick…」
Once she got the fourth glyph, she muttered that as she jumped up on Pegasus’ back.
Six hours had passed since she arrived at the second floor. She had taken a break to rest and eat, but most of the time had been spent traveling.