Wednesday, April 3, 2024 @

Volume 1 Chapter 97 Passing Through The Corridor

Volume 1 Chapter 97 Passing Through The Corridor

 The corridor led to a wide path with a steep slope of black rocks.

 The sky was still hidden from view.

 In the middle of the path, the rocks had been moved to allow people to pass through. It seemed like there was a way to go even further from here.

 According to what I heard from Mel earlier, there should be a sacred altar of the goddess ahead, where the guardian with the "Key of Inferno" resides, and where the three keys can be destroyed.

 Well, at least if the altar is still intact.

 But still, a sacred altar of the goddess.

 The goddess...


 Wait a minute.

 Didn't Ragius say something about the goddess earlier?

 Something about the goddess.

 It was such an absurd statement that I casually brushed it off, but he definitely said it.

 Don't mess with me.

 What do you mean, "I know nothing about that"?

 Remembering his words, I feel a strange frustration.

 "Are you okay, Fatina-san?"

 I hear a voice and snap back to reality.

 Right behind me, Mel is looking worried as she calls out to Fatina.

 Ahaha... I'm fine, really. But more importantly, we need to move forward."

 Fatina's pained smile was the opposite of what she said.

 The reason is probably what Ragius was talking about earlier, the Homunculus matter.

 It seems more serious than I thought.

 In this condition, I don't feel like we can fight monsters properly.

 If we return to Metis from here, we'll have to go down the corridor.

 We haven't defeated the monsters along the way, and this dungeon is not a place where adventurers can easily enter, so there may still be ancient traps left.

 Whether we advance or retreat, there's danger involved.

 I wonder if it backfired on us to have Ragius teleport us here.

 "Hey, Fatina-san... I don't care who you are. That's never changed before, and it won't change in the future."

 Mel spoke in a gentle tone while holding Fatina's hand in both of her own.

 She noticed.

 "For example, just because I'm a princess and live a luxurious life, would you start to dislike me?"

 "No way! That's definitely not true!"

 "I feel the same way. Just because you're a beastman, stronger and scarier than the average adventurer, doesn't mean I could dislike you. Fatina-san, regardless of status or race, has become incredibly important and irreplaceable to me."


 "So, please continue to be my friend from now on, okay?"

 Fatina teared up and hugged Mel tightly. Her tail was wagging so vigorously that it seemed like it might break off.

 It reminded me of a similar incident in the past.

 It was in Trasverum, perhaps inside Chester's mansion.

 That time, Mel was the one being comforted.

 After the long embrace, Mel turned to me and said,

 "Ark-san, you feel the same way, right?"

 "What do you mean 'feel the same way'? I've already expressed that a long time ago."

 "Huh? When did you..."

 "On the way here, riding the carriage. Have you already forgotten?"

 "...Now that you mention it, you're right."

 So, the two of them laughed together.

 There were many things that happened, but it was fortunate that Fatina's condition improved. Now we didn't need to turn back to Metis.

 ...But still, a Homunculus.

 Even if I assume Ragius's story is true, it would mean that there is an unbelievable technique in this world to create artificial life.

 Whether it's a skill I don't know about or something completely different, I have no information about it.

 Well, there's no point in thinking about it.

 At the very least, I don't believe it.

 "That's right. Let's give this as a token of trust to Fatina-san."

 Mel took something out of the bag and handed it to Fatina.

 It was a short sword enclosed in a beautifully decorated sheath.

 The navy blue sheath had gold patterns and was adorned with red gemstones.

 It was clear at first glance that it was a valuable item.

 "Wow, it's really beautiful!"

 "These are the items I brought when leaving the castle. They don't have any special effects, but please use them if necessary."

 Fatina seemed quite bewildered by the sudden events, but still accepted without refusing.

 "Understood. I will accept them along with Mel-san's feelings."

 Fatina attached a short sword to her belt with a leather strap.

 "Thank you. It looks beautiful, so please use it whenever you need."

 After a short rest, we started walking again for our original purpose.

 The slope was not too steep, so it wasn't physically demanding. However, there was constantly flowing lava on both sides of the road. There was no time to relax.

 I wonder where this path leads to.

 Because of Ragius's magic-like technique, we were sent to the end of the corridor.

 If that's the case, we should reach our destination soon.

 Maybe, were we deceived by Ragius?

 For a moment, that thought flashed through my mind.

 No, that's not it.

 If we were moved onto the lava with the magic from earlier, we would have turned into black ashes in an instant.

 So, the fact that he didn't do that means Ragius doesn't intend to kill or stop us.

 What on earth is the reason that guy cooperated with us?

 I recall the words he told us right before transferring us.


 Yes, it was advice.

 "Mel. What do you think about Ragius' advice from earlier?"

 "Is it about what Ragius said was 'nonsense'?"

 "Yeah, I couldn't make any sense of it."

 "Well... he said something to Ark-san like 'keep sticking until the end in becoming the strongest.' To Fatina-san like 'think carefully about what I just said,' and to me like 'don't do anything from now on.'"

 It's still too vague

 "Hmm... In my case, it's about the Homunculus. I mean, why should I think about it any further?"

 "As for me, it's 'don't do anything.' But it's a little strange, isn't it?"


 "My goal is to collect the three keys before my father and stop this commotion. But isn't that a story that now applies to all three of us, rather than just me?"

 "Now that you mention it, that's true..."

 "In other words, it means that 'I'm useless, but if it's Ark-san and Fatina-san, it's fine to collect the keys.' That's why I thought it was strange."

 "Ugh, my head is starting to get confused..."

 When I actually talked to the two of them, I realized the most important thing.

 "I'm sorry for bringing up the topic, but thinking about it is just a waste. Ragius was just talking nonsense."

 "Why is that?"

 "I only told Ragius that I came to search for the keys. I didn't explain anything about the king collecting the keys or Mel trying to stop the king."

 "Oh... now that you mention it, that's true."

 "In other words, the advice is completely unreliable. Unless he can read Mel's mind..."

 "But we still don't know about Ragius and his relationship with the keys. In the end..."

 Mel was right.

 Instead of resolving my doubts, they only increased.

 In addition to giving advice, Ragius said something else.

 He told us to "do what needs to be done" and Mel asked, "Are you the one who will say that?"

 Maybe all of those were just hints, I wonder?

 We all reached the top of the hill together and took a breath.

 What we see ahead is a square-shaped plaza made of dark brown soil. There are large rocks sticking out here and there, about two or three times the height of a person, making the visibility not so good.

 Below is a cliff, and if you fall, it's certain death.

 I could see the sky.

 The dark red sky is covered with thick flowing clouds.

 The feeling of being oppressed disappeared when the ceiling disappeared, but it's a little suffocating.

 Based on my previous experiences, I feel like this is the destination, the place where the guardian of the key resides.


 "...There's nothing here?"

 There's not even a guardian, let alone a single monster.

 I could only tilt my head at that sight.

 "Something is wrong──"

 Just as I spoke, it happened.

 "Something" was approaching right in front of me.

 I quickly drew my sword and deflected it.


 Sparks flew from the blade.

 It might have been an arrow or something.

 But that strike was too heavy.

 Not only that, the object that flew towards me was aiming directly for my head.

 The impact was so strong that my hand gripping the sword went numb.

 Its power is far greater than the iron arrows Iria shoots.

 The deflected object collided with a nearby rock. The rock shattered into pieces with a loud noise. It's more fitting to say it exploded.

 If I had noticed even a little later, there's no doubt I would have died.

 Its power is completely abnormal.

 If this attack was done by a person, they are not an ordinary opponent.

 When I glanced at my sword, it was faintly glowing.

 ...Is Ragius nearby?


 Fatina, who seemed to have noticed something strange, shouted in a panic while drawing her sword.

 "...It's an enemy. We're under attack."

 "But... I can't hear anything with my ears..."

 "For now, that doesn't matter! Just don't come out from behind me!"


 There's no longer enough room for us to fight while protecting each other.

 Should we hide behind the rocks?

 No, that won't work either. The rocks will be pierced through.

 I look ahead, but there's no one. Not only that, I don't sense any living creatures.

 I hold my sword ready and wait for a while, but no attacks come flying.

 Maybe it's taking time for them to launch the next strike.

 Perhaps this guardian is different from the ones we've encountered so far.

 "The attacks have stopped. Stay close to me and don't let your guard down."


 "Understood. Be careful..."

 I can't leave just the two of them while the identity of the enemy remains unknown.

 If they're launching long-distance attacks, we'll have to close the distance even a little bit.

 As I cautiously moved forward, I came across an unexpected figure.

 "Whoa! I never thought someone would dodge my arrow. I'm surprised to see who it is!"

 A lively voice came from the top of a nearby rocky outcrop.

 It was a girl in leather armor, with a black longbow in her hand.

 She had a fluffy bob haircut, and animal-like ears on top of her head.

 Suddenly, my fuzzy memory became clear.

 ...She was part of the cat people tribe at Balzark's party.

 I had a really bad feeling.

 I got ready with my sword, prepared to react to any attack.

 "Wait a minute. I didn't recognize who you were earlier, so I just shot at you!"

 I didn't let my guard down.

 The earlier attack was definitely meant to kill. It was a ruthless strike, without any sign of panic or hesitation.

 If it meant achieving her goal, she wouldn't hesitate to kill── just like Allen and the others I fought before.

 "Hey, who's this guy? Do you know him, Io?"

 A rough man appeared and said in a rude tone.

 He wears with what seems like dragon scales all over his armor and a huge red spear on his shoulder appeared from behind a rock.

 There's also another person, a magician-like man in a red cloak and came forward from the opposite side of the warrior.

 The magician stares at us in silence. His mouth is covered with a cloth, so you can't see his expression.

 "Oh, I remember now! It's that guy who trembled in fear when he bumped into Balzark at the Voltana adventurer's guild, Lyle. You're really forgetful!"

 "...Oh! I remember. It was that weakest guy with Level Cap 1 and a terrible skill, [Instant Death Magic]. But why is he here?"

 "Ark-sama, who is this person?"

 Fatina asked with a hint of annoyance.

 "Balzark's party. But he's not here."

 "These people..."

 Here, there are only Io, a cat-like creature called a "cat person," Lyle, a warrior with a spear, and a magician in a red cloak.

 Balzark is not here.

 Io gracefully jumps down from a rock and approaches here.

 "Hey, hey. You're the one who deflected my arrow, right? That's impossible at Level Cap 1, isn't it~"

 While constantly moving her animal ears, Io stares with great interest.

 "By the way, you have it, right?"

 "...What are you talking about?"

 "Don't play dumb. You came to get the [Key of Inferno], right? Even if you have just one, with this, Everything will be complete!"

 Now, what did Io say?

 "Everything will be complete"──did she say that?

 "No way... Did you defeat the guardian of the key?"

 Mel asked hesitantly, and Io responded with a smile.

 "About that huge dragon? 'I totally defeated it!'"

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