106th day after I became a Demon King.
Just as they had declared, Kanezawa’s officially recognized hero party appeared in my Domain. The heroes began their invasion from the entrance of the First Domain.
At present, my Domain is composed of four floors. However, given that the fourth floor (underground floor 4) is set as an outside type terrain and residential area, it’s only possible to repel invaders until the third floor.
I have specifically transformed my Domain into a special anti-hero party dungeon to welcome them.
The concept of the first floor is ― exhaustion of the mind.
The deployed subordinates are just giant bats and rats, whose numbers have been increased excessively. Half-baked combat forces will be no more than a waste of CP. Furthermore, it’s quite possible that it would instead boost the hero party’s confidence.
Giant bats that actively unleash ultrasonic waves from the sky. Swiftly moving rats that focus on running around meaninglessly on the ground.
And, traps that were set up in great numbers at surprisingly low costs while freely spending DP and CP ― 【Wooden Arrows】 that don’t have the aim of causing injuries or casualties, but only exist as harassment. And I believe that the 【Poison Arrows】traps that have been laid out with a rate of 5% will wear down their mental durability at an even better pace.
Well then, I guess it’s about time to observe the hero party which is in the middle of working their way through the first floor.
– PoV Sayama Rina –
We started the second invasion of the domain I had challenged in the past as my first dungeon raid.
One hour after the beginning of the invasion.
“Tsk! The hell! This shitty dungeeeeooon!” (Yuuya)
Walking in front of us in his role as the shield bearer while capitalizing on his large frame and dignified equipment, Yuuya angrily shouts out of irritation.
“Yuuya, please calm down.” (Hideya)
The always-calm Andou-senpai rebukes Yuuya.
“Hideya! Ain’t the information completely wrong!? It’s not ghouls that appear! The only things appearing since a while ago are large noisy fuckin’ bats, and rats that squirm around our feet, right!?” (Yuuya)
“Yay lol, Yuuya, calm down. At least that’s what I want to say as well, but you’re certainly right, this is quite unpleasant.” (Masakado)
Irritation flickers across Masakado’s face, who only messes around in an aloof manner most of the time.
“Domains are always changing… that’s common knowledge nowadays.” (Hideya)
Andou-senpai cautions while pressing a finger against the frames of his glasses.
“That’s surely true, but…Andou-senpai, the crying of those bats is really nasty… Somehow, my mood is getting worse and worse.” (Saori)
Even Saori, who walks in the back, protests.
As a matter of fact, the crying of those large bats induces a light headache. It’s an extremely annoying attack.
“Yay lol, look! It’s a treasure chest! If I remember correctly, one can look forward to the treasure chest’s contents in this Domain, ya know? I obtained my Silver Spear-chan in this Domain, too!” (Masakado)
A treasure chest was set up in the direction where Masakado pointed his finger.
The weapon which became the main reason for me being called 『Jet Black Hero』― the 『Black Iron Sword』, was also a weapon obtained in this Domain.
Everyone’s expectations rise, and they focus their eyes on Masakado, who’s about to open the treasure chest.
Masakado opens it with careful hand movements.
Masakado yelled angrily all of a sudden and threw the object in his hand on the ground.
“What’s wrong?” (Hideya)
Andou-senpai rushes over to the object Masakado had thrown and picked it up.
“I see… Certainly, what a troublesome Domain this is.” (Hideya)
What Andou-senpai was holding in his hand while smiling bitterly was a wooden sword.
On the way we took two breaks at rest areas. The large bats continued to cry as if harassing us, and the rats scurried about without any apparent value to their existence. And then, 12 hours after starting the invasion of the Domain despite all the stress caused by the frequent 【Wood Arrow】 traps and the occasional 【Poison Arrow】 traps, the stairs leading to the second floor finally appeared in front of us.
12 hours. Or to reword it, we cleared the floor in a mere 12 hours. Even for us selection members, this was a speed record we hadn’t experienced so far.
Normally, we would repeatedly map out the area…and clear a floor by repeatedly going back and forth many times over.
However, nothing that could even remotely be called a battle has taken place in this Domain. As result of the attacks being limited to only harassing actions, we conquered the floor in no more than a half day.
Conquered the floor ― it might be a bit too early to use those words.
That’s because a single monster that ought to be called guardian stood in front of the stairs.
“Hey…say, that’s…” (Yuuya)
Yuuya readies his shield while staying cautious.
“Be on your guard… 《Analyze》 has identified it as slime, but…it’s very likely to be a trap.” (Hideya)
Andou-senpai tells us to focus our attention on the monster ― the slime in front of our eyes with a nervous voice.
The monster blocking the way in front of us was a huge, muddy pool of water ― a slime that wobbles around.
“All members, please get into formation. Saitou-san, please launch a preemptive magic attack!” (Hideya)
“Got it!” (Saitou)
The magician manipulating crimson flames ― Saitou Ruriko, concentrates on the wand in her hands. All members including me grip the weapons in our hands and prepare for a combat against a formidable enemy.
The fire spear ― 【Fire Lance】 that was released without any prior chanting pierces the slime and magnificently scatters its flames.
Nothing remains at the place which was stabbed by the fire spear. I’m confused by the scenery in front of me, but grasp the situation quickly.
“No way…it was really just a simple slime?” (Hideya)
Andou-senpai says with a befuddled voice.
The monster, which we had arbitrarily believed to be a strong enemy, was not even worth mentioning. It was a plain slime. Andou-senpai’s 《Analyze》 identifies them as Rank F. A monster that’s commonly called small fry.
“Yay lol, what a messed up Domain.” (Masakado)
“Bah, what’s with this place!?” (Yuuya)
Masakado, who feels disappointed, and Yuuya, who trembles in anger.
The domain, which I had supposedly declared as my main liberation target according to society, doesn’t appear to be a 『Farm』 as it’s called by the public, but an idiosyncratic Domain.
– PoV Shion –
“Oh!? They are finally charging into the second floor?” (Shion)
While watching the live stream on my smartphone, I think back on the hero party’s invasion.
“The highlight was definitely Yay lol throwing away the wooden sword.” (Shion)
“As I hate that man, I felt very refreshed.” (Kanon)
We were able to enjoy Yay lol’s expression quite a bit as he opened the treasure chest with eyes full of expectation and immediately became angry after feeling heartbroken. The runner up is the hero party being wrapped in tension in front of the slime.
“Whoa! Don’t be so cruel. Yay lol is an important source of information, okay?” (Shion)
“I know that, but…it’s just physically impossible.” (Kanon)
Having had the experience of almost being killed by Yay lol, Kanon reveals a content smile.
“Do you think they were irritated successfully?” (Shion)
“As far as visible through the screen, it’s a success, I believe?” (Kanon)
Kanon and I look at each other with an evil smirk.
“Next, the second floor’s concept is――” (Shion)
The losses on the first floor were light. I, who had preserved more than enough combat forces, am having a good time watching the hero party with its grim prospects.
The concept of the second floor is ― exhaustion of stamina.
Once they step onto the second floor, a huge room of 2 km² size will be visible in front of the invaders’ eyes.
The subordinates I had deployed in that huge space are swarms of ghouls with the best cost performance value, boasting of a tenacious durability and overwhelming power that lacks intelligence, a wolf pack led by a black wolf, which will toy with their enemies while relying on their superb teamwork and their swift movements, and goblin archers, who readied their bows in the back.
A huge torch brightly illuminating the rear of my subordinates shone upon the stairs continuing to the third floor.
This setup was a message from me to the invaders.
―― “Something like mapping is unnecessary. Don’t hold back and come at me.”
Repeatedly invading a Domain many times over while mapping out the area has turned into a standard approach for humans when liberating Domains.
In reality, this hero party that had liberated four Domains also used the same method.
This method was indeed logical. In the eyes of a Demon King, though, you might as well call it the worst move.
While securing a safety margin by repeatedly invading over and over again, the intruders level up by defeating monsters.
Securing a safety margin equals to no experience points for the Demon King. The intruders defeating monsters equals to the demon king’s CP being wasted pointlessly. It’s truly the worst downward spiral.
That’s why I showed them the way, basically telling them, “Don’t hold back and come at me.”
In case this time’s intruders ― the hero party didn’t follow my invitation, in other words, in case they were to pull back, I would shift my countermeasures to Plan B.
Plan B. To put it shortly: a mudslinging war of attrition.
The enemy would deplete my CP by repeatedly invading and defeating my subordinates. In opposition, I would whittle down the enemy’s combat assets by reliably crushing their members separately.
The battle would lengthen, and the obtainable experience points would drop sharply in contrast to the consumed CP. In order to match the enemy’s growth speed with a growth of my own, it would produce the necessity to deploy my bloodkin through the Second Domain to earn as many experience points as possible.
“Well, there’s also the possibility that I could repel them at no cost if I myself fought on the front line like a certain 【Body】 specialized Oni from someplace, but…the risks would be too big.” (Shion)
I sigh while watching the hero party that’s taking a rest in front of the stairs continuing to the second floor.
“But, Shion-san, if it’s you, you could gain strength at the same level as a specialized build by allotting BP into 【Body】 or 【Mana】, couldn’t you?” (Kanon)
Kanon asks me.
“Yeah, but if possible, I’d like to keep saving my BP to raise Creation to Rank B, you know?” (Shion)
I have saved up the BP I gained when I reached level 4. The reason is to raise Creation from C to B.
“Well, depending on the situation, I guess I might have to raise 【Body】…” (Shion)
Stopping the idle chat, I return my focus to the live stream of the hero party reflected on the smartphone.
The path Kanezawa’s officially recognized hero party chose is――
– PoV Sayama Rina –
After we took a short break, we descended the stairs leading to the second floor.
An silly voice escaped the lips of Yuuya who walked in front and stepped onto the second floor before us.
I was the next to enter the second floor.
I was overwhelmed by the scene unfolding in front of me.
A ridiculously wide room. I wonder, what’s its width? Once I look to the left, I can faintly see the wall in the distance. I think it easily surpasses 1 km in distance. Even when looking to the right, it’s the same. The length is even bigger…2 km? No, it’s probably a little bit more?
Countless monsters wandered around within this overwhelmingly vast space that lacks any obstacles or passages.
The first floor has a maze-like structure with frequent crossroads and dead ends, along with swarms of rats and large bats which apparently serve no use other than to irritate us. And, a huge number of planted, childish traps. It was a labyrinth-like setup which made me think that its sole goal was to make our minds go insane.
According to the words of a perished Demon King, 『Domains are created by Demon Kings』. This isn’t a theory, but rather, a fact we heard from a dying Demon King himself.
In that case, it means that the maze-like first floor that made fools out of us, and this second floor spreading in front of us, which makes one think that we are expected to break through with brute force, were created by the same Demon King.
A Domain that’s composed of floors with completely opposite concepts. I wonder, what kind of being is the Demon King that rules this Domain.
“Yay lol, what’s this? A monster house!?” (Masakado)
Masakado, who stands next to me, raises a stumped voice.
“So, Hideya, what are we going to do?” (Yuuya)
Yuuya asks Andou-senpai.
It has become common knowledge to capture a Domain while mapping and noting the features of the floor and the composition of the appearing monsters down. Usually, one lightly investigates the next floor after clearing the previous one, and then returns.
“Yay lol, Megane-kun? You see that as well, right?” (Masakado)
Ahead of where Masakado is pointing at, you can see the stairs leading to the third floor ― indicated by the light of a huge, brightly burning torch.
The stairs’ existence was pointed out ― as if inviting us.
“With this, there’s no need to map the area. Is this really the same Domain as before? If you consider it logically, we should go back once and review our strategy, but…” (Hideya)
“Yay lol, Megane-kun? You’re kidding, right? I don’t want to pass through that first floor over and over again, okay?” (Masakado)
“Hideya, I also think that we should advance for now. Fortunately, no one is injured right now, although we got quite irritated on the first floor. In regards to our conditions, it shouldn’t be any problem.” (Yuuya)
“Andou-senpai… I would also hate passing through the first floor many times over.” (Saori)
Masakado, Yuuya, and Saori suggest to continue advancing. Andou-senpai shrugs his shoulders as if troubled in return.
“Certainly… Given that we will have finished the mapping when we start over next time, resulting in a shorter time to break through the first floor, we might recover our fatigue more than now. However, even now, we still have enough stamina left to continue the capture. Above all ― many people wish for a quick liberation, anticipating our great exploits, thus, let’s continue onwards!” (Hideya)
“Yay lol.” (Masakado)
Hearing Andou-senpai’s words, all of the selection members approved of his proposal in succession. I also go with the flow, and agree with a continuation of the capture.
3 hours after we started clearing the second floor.
Ghouls that are powerful and tough despite their dull movements. Wolves that excel at group combat and swift movements albeit them being simpler to defeat should an attack land on them. And, countless arrows fired from the rear. We steadily accumulated fatigue while suffering more and more injuries.
I think about 1 km is left until the stairs leading to the third floor. It will be a long way.
6 hours after we started clearing the second floor.
One of our supporters lost his life along the way. I wonder, do the monsters follow some kind of goal? As if aiming for our comrades and supporters in the back, they went around to our rear from the left and right.
Right now we are at the halfway point to the third floor stairs, I think. It feels as if the distances to the stairs leading to the second floor, from where we came, and the stairs continuing to the third floor, which are illuminated by the big torch, are the same.
At this rate proceeding is dangerous, but once we look back at the path we have passed, even the way back to the second floor stairs is filled with monsters. Advancing is hell, and the same applies to returning. We might have misjudged the point where we should have retreated.
“Hideya! What should we do? Go back?” (Yuuya)
“Let’s see…in this situation…” (Hideya)
“Yay lol, spare me from having wasted all the effort in having come all the way here! Let’s aim for a rest area!” (Masakado)
Yuuya, who seeks a decision. Andou-senpai who hesitates to reply. In the end, we headed for the third floor stairs in accordance with Masakado’s words.
10 hours after we started clearing the second floor.
Two more supporters lost their lives.
“That’s why I said that we should turn around back then!” (Yuuya)
“Ha? You never even once mentioned something like that, you know!?” (Masakado)
Yuuya and Masakado argue with each other even as they are fighting off the ghouls. His usual composure had already left Masakado by now.
“Kya!? Hey, Rina! Protect me a bit better, okay!?” (Saori)
Saori, who was bitten by a wolf, vents her anger at me.
“I said it! I’m sure I did!” (Yuuya)
“Haa? In the first place, do you think that we can retreat in this situation!? Look around you!” (Masakado)
“Both of you, please calm down!” (Hideya)
“”Hah? To begin with, Hideya (Megane-kun), it’s your damn fault for being so wishy-washy, don’t you think!?”” (Yuuya & Masakado)
The quarreling Yuuya and Masakado vent their frustration on Andou-senpai, who tried to restrain them.
Our fatigue has reached its peak. The number of serious situations, where we trash-talked each other, increased.
It’s the worst… We were highly praised as 『Heroes』 and 『Braves』 by our surroundings, but…in reality, we are just children who got carried away as we wallowed in the dream of being called heroes.
There’s 500 meter or so left until the stairs to the third floor. Is it hope that awaits us after reaching that point, or――