The Final Floor
No one knew who that sound came from. It could have been anyone.
The tenth floor. It was an open cave with a smooth stone floor.
Pale light emanated from the stone. The area was around ten meters wide, with a staircase that lead downward in the corner.
And there was a mirror at the end of the staircase.
It seemed they could return to the ninth floor right now. Judging from their previous exploration, it wouldn’t be difficult to go further back up either.
“This is… a resting place?”
Though Ria muttered in doubt, she went along with it.
It was hard to take a break in a place like the ninth floor’s jungle. The enemies weren’t obviously visible. It probably wasn’t a trap either.
“There’s no signs of magical power. This is an ordinary place.”
Maal’s words proved it.
“Before the final boss, I guess we’re meant to get ready to go here?”
Thinking about it as though playing a game, Serge thought that given the nature of this labyrinth, it was probably like that.
“For now, let’s rest.”
Ria judged so. Though they had decided to advance, they originally planned to return right after, but it seemed they could sleep here.
Unfortunately, the stone floor was abnormally hard, so she was unable to dig a bath. They wiped down their equipment and bodies with water.
Laying out blankets, they laid down. The first to stand as lookouts were Maal and Ria. These two were best for the role because they were the least exhausted.
“I’m useless, aren’t I?”
Maal whispered in a weak voice.
Ria hugged Maal’s shoulder, slowly caressing her ear.
“It’s not like that.”
There were no lies in Ria’s words. If Maal weren’t there, the amount of time it took to explore the labyrinth would have been several times more. But, she knew that without it being said.
“Maal does things like cook and make camp, don’t you care for everyone? Only being able to fight isn’t a talent.”
Towards Maal, Ria was always gentle. A gentleness that one wouldn’t associate with Ria-chan the Merciless.
“But, I also want to be useful in fights.”
It’s not that she didn’t understand that feeling.
“I’m also one of your comrades right?”
Before, she was just a tool. Locate traps, release them, and pick the locks on treasure chests.
But here, under Ria, everyone thought of her as a comrade. She understood that even without it being said.
Here, she wasn’t a tool. She wanted to become a comrade that could fight together with them.
“Then, special training when we return.”
“Shh. Be quiet.”
Maal held her mouth shut in a hurry.
“Alright, let’s go!”
After sleeping, they didn’t feel mentally fatigued even though it didn’t appear in a numerical value. The group stepped onto the staircase leading down.
Rather than a labyrinth, this was like a passage.
It was at most three meters wide. The ceiling was low, too. Though they thought it was a straight line at first, it bent very slightly to the left.
“A spiral staircase~? It feels somewhat like DNA, doesn’t it…”
Only Ria understood the word that Serge used. Though Ria wasn’t much a person interested in science, she still sometimes watched national broadcasted programs.
“Isn’t that a double helix? I think this is entirely different though.”
“Yeah, I was just saying that. But going down a spiral staircase into the ground, it’s somewhat like it’s heading to hell. I have a bad feeling.”
He was likely being talkative due to being anxious. Not that she didn’t understand how he was feeling.
This labyrinth gave a feeling of being enclosed. Unlike the previous floors, it had the atmosphere of being impossible to return from.
“Ah, wait a second.”
Along the way, Serge stopped the group. After a moment of concentration, he checked it out using magic.
“It’s alright, the path behind us wasn’t closed off.”
“Incidentally, could you see what’s ahead of us?”
Serge’s magic was space-time magic. Even if he couldn’t see it, he could understand what was in a space as long as it wasn’t shielded.
“The depth is… about five castle gates worth. There’s probably something like a door at the end. If there’s a room on the other side of the wall, wouldn’t it be the size of five town blocks?”
There was probably a guardian in such a large place.
“I wonder if it’s a Dragon?”
Ria muttered. The group all looked reluctant.
What’s a Dragon? The strongest living creature in the world. It’s stronger than most demons.
After all, two thousand years ago and again a thousand years ago, there were large floods of demons. With the help of Darkness Dragon Valis’ strength, mankind finally won.
Casalia’s founder, Leyte Anaia, became Valis’ wife, giving birth to the second generation’s king. Ria’s ancestor.
“Well, though I said a Dragon that doesn’t mean it’s one of the Five God Dragons.”
Carlos knew of legends with knights battling dragons, so she continued.
“If a Five God Dragon came out, even I would escape.”
Even if Ria was entirely confident, she didn’t think she could compete with a God Dragon. It’s like telling a human to fight against a nuclear warhead.
“It’ll be fine if it’s an Earth Dragon though.”
“Yeah, they’re just big monitor lizards.”
Towards Lulu’s question, Ria threw her chest out and answered proudly this time.
“I could even beat around fifty of them now. If I have a weapon.”
Though Ria said such a terrifying thing as though it were normal, compared to the Ogre King, a large monitor lizard was nothing to be afraid of.
Just one of them could overrun a standard village though.
“Nee-chan, have you fought a true dragon?”
Among Ria-chan the Merciless’ previous battles, there were none against dragons.
“Nope. But it should be stronger than a Hydra.”
“Record has it that they can destroy huge cities.”
It’s because they experienced a Dragon’s wrath.
While talking about such things, the group arrived at the bottom.
In front of them were large metallic dual doors.
“That’s… it’s made of mithril.”
Lulu reported in surprise. To use valuable mithril in such a way…
Grinning broadly, Ria took out her axe and destroyed the door hinged. Naturally, the door fell inwards.
“Serge, collect the mithril.”
“Roger that, Nee-chan.”
Shrewdly, he collected the masses of metal that used to be doors.
The party walked into the room.
Their vision plunged into darkness.
“I can’t see farther inside.”
Even Maal, whose eyes were good in the dark, couldn’t see.
“Huge rocks are scattered around.”
Serge was able to understand what was inside.
It was time for a strategy meeting then.
“First of all, in case of an emergency, Maal will withdraw to defend Serge.”
Maal raised her voice in protest.
“All of the loot is kept in his storage space, so it’s fine even if I die.”
In their battles so far, they knew their opponent. So they were able to figure out about when they should retreat.
But this time, it’s a Dragon.
“The weapons and armor we’ve collected at great pains, all of it would be lost. That is why, excluding the minimum required goods, everything was given to Serge.”
The magic bag normally had insufficient capacity, but it didn’t have many things in it since her currency and things like that were given to him as well.
“He has my things for the time being as well.”
Besides currency, Ria also gave him her jewels and precious metals taken from castle, including the dagger with the seal on it.
“When push comes to shove, Maal, we’re relying on you.”
If Serge went by himself, he probably wouldn’t be able to make it out of the labyrinth. But if Maal were there helping him avoid danger, they could escape.
Maal nodded with a resolute expression. It was a face that had realized the responsibility of the work left to her.
Lulu cast defensive magic on everyone. In addition to protection for physical and magical, she used magic that would prevent things from influencing their minds as well. That a Dragon’s roar could inflict panic in people was well known.
Serge used acceleration magic on everyone. Though he could use it from far away, the magical power consumed was lower when they were in contact.
“Well then, let’s go.”
A ball of light emitted from Lulu’s cane, ripping apart the darkness as it traveled forward, then exploded.
At that moment, the huge room was illuminated.
Looking in, there was a huge chunk of rock.
No, not a rock, it looked more like a hill.
With a maul in its hand, the giant stood up.
It was larger than Gig’s huge figure, easily twenty times larger.
It had just one eye. Horns sprouted from his head.
An existence that rivaled a dragon.
A descendant of the fallen gods.
With a savage appearance having just a loincloth and the maul, it evoked more than fear.
The giant inhaled, then bellowed.
The atmosphere was numbing.
If it weren’t for the defensive magic, it would have been impossible for some people to move with just that.
Ria also bellowed. She began to run towards the giant, nodachi in hand.
Then, the battle began.