The man selling pork skewers on the eighth floor repeated his question to a thin, but muscular, man who had just ascended back up from the floor beneath.
“Yeah, it looks like that’s what the folks who camped at the stairs leading down from the ninth floor after missing their chance to return to the eighth floor, have heard.”
“What’s up with that? Some moron going haywire?”
The thin man gnawed on his skewer while smiling bitterly.
“They were apparently trying to get back to the eight floor, but couldn’t make it before evening, and so they hunkered down at the stairs to the tenth floor as a last resort.”
The chance to encounter colonial worms rises at night on the ninth floor, but as the area around the stairs is relatively safe, it’s possible to run away to the stairs if you end up encountering the worms.
“It appears that the sun was set to go down soon around the time they arrived at the stairs, but I hear the area was in kind of an uproar.”
“Uproar? At night? There shouldn’t have been any people in that area, though.”
“You see, they say these folks, that seemed to belong to the militaries of various countries, pitched several camps while keeping their distance from each other.”
“No clue. The JSDF isn’t so bad, but when it comes to the armies of other countries, you never know what might happen. People wouldn’t want to get involved with that, right? Having said that, it’s dangerous to stay too far from the stairs area, too. It seems those guys reluctantly camped halfway down the stairs to the tenth floor.”
“Doing it like that sounds like it’d get them dragged into troubles all the more, though.”
After all, they’d have no place to run away.
“If you separate from the stairs on the ninth floor, you won’t know when you might encounter colonial worms, correct? Especially after the sun has set. Besides, if you pitch your tents close to military folks, you gotta stay on guard, no matter what. That would really suck, no? In the first place, I can’t believe that there’s anyone who’d try to come or go to or from the tenth floor at night.”
Well, I can understand their feelings, I suppose, the pork skewer seller assessed. It’s questionable whether you can take a proper rest there, though.
“So, according to those guys, the guys on watch faintly heard bells tolling just when the date was rolling over, I hear.” Saying so, he put the second piece of hot meat into his mouth. “It seems to have come from the tenth floor, so the guys apparently went down the stairs, having their interest piqued as to what might have happened.”
“It’s the perfect example of curiosity killing the cat.”
The man swallowed down the meat, and laughed while saying, “No kidding.”
“So, when they timidly sneaked a look at the tenth floor, bells like you’d find on church spires were loudly ringing from the opposite direction of the stairs to the 11th floor.”
“There was something like a church on the tenth floor? I thought it was full of gravesites…”
“I’ve never heard of it either. Anyway, the guys apparently thought that some special event might be going on, but…”
“Hmm, I can understand their feelings.”
Anyone walking through the tenth floor after sunset, even if they’ve got the adaption potion, is crazy. I think that’s the commonly shared opinion among all explorers.
“Meanwhile, the bell sounds vanished as if they had suddenly stopped.”
“Didn’t they simply finish ringing?”
“It looks like there were no lingering reverberations.”
“Hmm. It’d be great if some treasure came out of it as well.”
“It was just a sound, wasn’t it?”
The man said with a laugh, tossed the skewer into a bucket serving as a replacement for a trash can, and left.
“Military folks that put up their camps at the ninth floor’s exit, eh…?”
It’s probably the result of the various scout teams chasing the targets in question, but in that case, just where did the missing targets go? Don’t tell me, the tenth floor at night?
While thinking about the relation between the tolling church bells and <Different World Language Comprehension>, the man, who worked for the guard division, took out a new pork skewer, and started to roast it.
On that day, after finishing our breakfast, we summon the remaining hellhounds in front of our base van. Each time Miyoshi yells out, “Summon! Aethlem”, “Summon! Glessic!”, and “Summon! Drudwyn!”, a large magic crest appears, and hellhounds, which are no different from Cavall in regards to their huge bodies, are summoned out of it.
She also tries summoning a fifth hound, but as expected, nothing happens.
The summoned hounds gleefully hunt the approaching undead in the vicinity. Since it doesn’t seem like they’d lose that easily, going by their appearance, we decide that we’ll let them do it for the time being.
Only Cavall remains sitting next to Miyoshi, small and quiet.
“What, you’re acting as the guard?”
Hearing that reply, Miyoshi happily taps Cavall.
“Senpai, you won’t get a summon?”
“The cooldown time for the barghest’s <Darkness Magic (VI)> is three days. It’d be troublesome to wait that long. In the first place, I suck at taking care of living beings. I can boast a bit about having dried out a cactus.”
Cactuses are fairly sturdy plants that’ll grow properly even if you neglect them for quite some time. However, even though I didn’t do anything during the dormant season, it lost its vitality without me noticing, and became limp. Quite the riddle.
“What’s there to boast about? Anyway, speaking of care-taking, what are these children going to eat?”
Yesterday Cavall ate food catered towards humans, but it’s impossible to acquire something like that inside a dungeon on a daily basis. If we start pondering here whether it’s based on protein structures or disassembly of enzymes, it’ll be endless. I mean, they can eat dungeon-native meat. So I guess it’s not all that weird for them to be able to eat our food as well. At times people get eaten by them as well. *shiver*
“If we simply let them free in the dungeon once in a while, we won’t need to prepare any fodder or such for them, right?”
When I say this, as someone who’s a failure as caretaker of living beings, Cavall, who has been listening, briskly walks up to in front of me, and shakes his head.
“Eh? Is there something you guys eat?”
“Come to think of it, you looked like you had enjoyed eating the sandwich yesterday, didn’t you?”
“Eh? Is that something you gotta do to take in the nutrients necessary for living?”
In response, Cavall stares into the far distance with a vacant look.
“So you’re saying you want to eat it every now and then just because it’s delicious? Isn’t that kinda more like indulging in the taste rather than taking in necessary nourishment?”
To me it looks like I can see illusionary sweat gather on Cavall’s forehead as he keeps averting his eyes more and more.
“Sheesh, give it a rest, senpai. Isn’t it okay? Even Cavall and the others want to eat something delicious every now and then!”
Cavall swiftly moves next to Miyoshi, sits down there, and bobs his head up and down with his golden eyes sparkling.
“No, I was simply curious. It’s not like I mind in particular. You guys, work properly as Miyoshi’s guards.”
However, summoned monsters, huh? I had expected that they might exist, but now that we actually ended up obtaining some, there’s a lot we don’t know…such as whether we must register them with the JDA, whether we need a license for them, or what to do about immunization. The things we must ask Ms. Naruse about have increased once again. Besides, what’s going to happen once they die? Will the individual be revived upon a resummon? Or is it going to be a new individual? My curiosity is truly overflowing, but if I were to intentionally test it out, I’d probably piss off Miyoshi. Well, I’ll find out sooner or later anyway.
At that moment, several explorer-like presences pop up on my <Detect Life>.
“We’ve got guests.”
This place stands out as it’s atop a hill. Our guests take the way around the hill on the other side. Before they reach a place where they can confirm this place by sight, we clear the area in a hurry, put away Dolly, and make towards the graveyard, while making sure to go around the hill so that the view of us remains blocked.
“The surveillance people, eh? They sure work hard at this. I wonder, how did they know that we were over here?”
“Who knows. My guess is that the group which kicked up a fuss last night, managed to return alive.”
The tenth floor at daytime is dull, as almost only zombies and skeletons are roaming around as opponents. Having said that, their large numbers are likely tough for normal explorers.
“It’s really no wonder that it’s called the tenth floor of Hell.” Miyoshi says as she gazes at the continuously approaching undead, while ordering her hellhounds to finish off a monster that I failed to destroy with magic.
On top of the undead being unpleasant to look at, and swarming on like surging waves, their drops are nothing of interest either. Coupled with the fact that this floor is full of graveyards as well, the explorers refer to it as hell.
“To me it looks like the other party is fine, though.”
I can’t sense the group walking along the road on the other side of the hill being engaged in battle. However, their travel speed appears to be quite slow. It might mean that they’re proceeding while being cautious of their surroundings.
“The adaption potion is more effective than expected, huh?”
“As long as you walk along the road during the day, that is.”
Not to mention that the nights are off-limit, it seems that you’ll be attacked during daytime as well, if you stray off the road. That’s why I think that they won’t leave the road and cross the hill as a shortcut even if they were to notice something but, just in case, we get away from this area with more than twice the other party’s speed.
As always, the zombies drop nothing, but skeletons seem to drop potion (1) at a rate of around one per 25 kills.
“Speaking of items, all the monsters that dropped something have given more than 0.04 SP.”
Now that she mentions it, despite having killed so many goblins, wolves, kobold, slimes and so on, they haven’t dropped anything. That’s the reason why the floors on the way down to Yoyogi’s fourth floor are labeled as beginner floors or amusement floors.
Without drops, it’s impossible to be active as a professional. I doubt that there’s any way to only aim for GTB either.
“Is there some kind of wall at 0.04 SP?”
“In that case I’ll leave the skeletons to you, senpai, since I’m going to focus on zombies.”
“I’ll also ask Arthur’s to focus on zombies.”
Upon hearing Miyoshi’s words, I can hear small answering barks from within Miyoshi’s shadow and the surroundings. It looks like the hellhounds pay attention to what’s going on around them, so far as it goes.
“What do you mean by Arthur’s?”
“It means these children.”
It looks like she uses Arthur’s when referring to all four summoned hounds together. I asked why it’s not Arthurs, but she said something about King Arthur being a relative of Culhwch or whatsoever. Since I didn’t really get it either way, I just accepted it the way it is. 1
She probably just feels that Arthur’s is slightly cooler than Arthurs. 2
After proceeding for a little while, the group on the other side of the hill leaves the range of <Detect Life>.
“Playing tag inside a dungeon is quite thrilling!”
“No, labeling it as thrill… Sure, we’ve taken refuge inside the dungeon to avoid the troubles related to the auction, but leaving Russia aside, I don’t think it’ll develop into a battle just because we have met them inside the dungeon.”
“I mean, we won’t know what team it is with just your <Detect Life>, will we? Russia might have secretly given orders to send out a Zaslon 3 unit.” Miyoshi says happily.
The Zaslon corps are special forces attached to Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service. Even among Russia’s special forces, they seem to be a corps with the highest level of confidentiality.
“You’re watching too many movies.”
“Oh, it’s orb time.”
Still, the number of enemies on the tenth floor is high. As we do our routine work even while chatting about trivial stuff, the time to choose an orb arrives soon. This time the last mob is a skeleton.
Skill Orb – Detect Life 1/20,000,000
Skill Orb – Magic Resistance (1) 1/700,000,000
Skill Orb – Immortality 1/1,200,000,000
I quickly jot down the contents of the list, and pass them to Miyoshi.
“<Magic Resistance> is a well-known skill.”
Since Arabic numbers attached to skill orbs and items reflect the level, while Roman numerals reflect the type, this one is probably the weakest among all magic resistances. I suppose this is the reason why the effectiveness of my Water Lances is slightly worse than usual.
“<Detect Life> kinda fits undead, doesn’t it? Is this why they’re heading towards the living as if drawn to them?”
“Does that mean that the adaption potion is actually a medicine to slip past <Detect Life> then?”
“I wonder about that. I mean, the folks on the other side of the hill were spotted by your skill, weren’t they?”
Come to think of it, that sounds right. Is there something else to it then? Although undead are displayed as exceedingly small responses, it’s not like the skill doesn’t work on them at all.
Putting that aside…<Immortality>? What the heck!?
“If he had this, even Xu Fu could have brazenly returned to his country, I think.” Miyoshi mentions a name appearing in Chinese classical literature without translating it into Japanese.
“No, no, no, wait, wait, wait. It’d be something else if an Elder Lich or a No-Life King had dropped this, but skeletons? This gotta be a trap. It’s written as immortality but reads as undeath or something like that…”
As might be expected, <Immortality> is an unregistered skill. But, there’s nothing to fear! After all we’ve got <Appraisal> now! We obtain <Immortality> being cautious while still acting on our desires.
“Here, Miyoshi. It’s in your hands.”
Arthur’s kill the surrounding undead, which keep attacking us in considerable numbers, skilfully and efficiently. I’d expect nothing less of hellhounds. Even looking at the experience points, it’s no wonder that they’re close to twice as much as skeletons…hmm, wait a sec. As soon as they clash against a skeleton, it’s smashed apart, and with one swing of their paws, zombies are split in two. Were hellhounds actually that strong?
“Ueehh…” Miyoshi reflexively groans after using <Appraisal>.
Skill Orb – Immortality
You gain a body that endures for eternity. Turning undead (skeleton).
One might say that those who violate the principles of life suffer a just punishment.
“In short, it means you become immortal, but you end up becoming an undead ─ a skeleton in this case ─ in return, huh?”
“That requires giving people a heads-up, right?”
“But, you will be asked how you found out, won’t you?”
Even if we leave it alone, this orb will hardly ever drop. I mean, the drop rate is one every 1.2 billion skeletons. But, something that has a possibility to occur will always occur sooner or later.
“It’s just like with <Premature Birth>. There’s no other way but to try it on a pig, right?”
I don’t know what’ll happen if you actually do that, but since the drop rate is very low, and it’d be complicated to run tests on it, it might be fine to just ignore it.
“I guess this one will rot away in <Safe> for the time being.” With those words, I store away <Immortality>.
“Captain Mimasaka～ This is nuts.” Noro of the scout unit threw in the towel due to the large number of undead loitering around in the vicinity.
“Keep your cool, Noro. You sense anything?”
“Nah. The only human-like responses are us and the folks behind us.”
Noro owned <Detect Life>. Even with the same <Detect Life>, its nature differed depending on the individual’s practice and attributes. Probably because he had trained to extend the range of his detection towards the direction he concentrated on, the passive range in all directions was shorter than that of Yoshimura. What served as a blessing for D-Powers was the fact this was the tenth floor, and the general wisdom was that people were unlikely to leave the road now that the adaption potion had spread. Because of that, Noro focused his detection along the road.
“The folks who went down at the same time as us, huh?”
“They’re very likely from Great Britain. The US group apparently went towards the 11th floor.”
The effect of the adaption potion lasted around four hours. However, this seemed to be quite unstable. If they were to consider the way back, they had two hours to search for their targets at most. It appeared possible to use multiple potions in succession, but its efficiency would apparently keep dropping.
“Weren’t the guys from China just duped?”
‘We’re going in this direction by following the battle traces left behind by the guys from China who chased after them last night. DBP87 shells are laying around here and there. Traces brought in from outside will vanish eventually, but it’s not like they will be completely gone in one night or anything.
“Either way, it’s a fact that some kind of battle took place over here.”
It was a half day since the scout teams of all nations lost sight of their observation targets. At present there was at least no report that their targets had passed an area monitored by the JSDF or the guard division.
For the present, their unit had no other choice than searching the tenth floor.
- Culhwch is a cousin of Arthur. If you want to know more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culhwch
- This is a spelling thing between アーサーズ and アルスルズ. Both are read as Arthur+s. But the first one is how you’d officially spell Arthurs. The second is more or less a creation by the author with a definition on his website.
- A Spetznaz group belonging to the Special Operations Department of Directorate Z, I think. I liked the title of this article: “Russia’s ‘Zaslon’ Military Operators Are So Shadowy They Make Ninjas Look Like Amateurs”. Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/russian-zaslon-special-operations-2013-5