「Rei! I’ll leave the mushrooms at the back to you!」
Elena’s voice echoed into the surroundings. Rei shouted out as he swept the Death Scythe from the side, cutting the body of a mushroom.
「Same with you Set, I still have strength to spare so I’m okay!」
Answering Rei, Set destroyed the body of a mushroom with a strike from his forefeet.
It was about an hour after they encountered the party that had spent the night in the dungeon. Though Elena and the others had steadily made their way towards the stairs to the fourth floor, as soon as they got near, they were attacked by mushrooms in the nearby area.
The smallest were about 1m tall. The largest were about 3m tall. For some reason, tree like roots grew from the huge mushrooms, which allowed them to move. Fortunately, its only attack was to throw its body towards them. Though spores were spread out every time they were cut, they didn’t seem to be toxic and didn’t hurt them.
TLN: Uhhh……so they are basically Treants but mushrooms, that’s the best way I can put it.
「Tch, these mushrooms that grow on this third floor down are strange things……but even if they’re good at disguising themselves!」
Rei attacked again with the Death Scythe and cut the body of a 2m tall mushroom. As the upper part of the mushroom fell towards Rei, he struck it with the handle of the Death Scythe.
Rei glanced to the front for an instant and saw Elena surrounded by an overwhelming majority of the mushrooms.
(It’s troublesome right now. ……Rather, Elena will tire out before Set and me. Shit, those people from before should have told us about such a monster back then. Could it be that they didn’t know? ……Wait. They didn’t know? In other words, they weren’t attacked by these guys?)
While he was thinking about that, the mushrooms continued to attack without stopping. Rei shouted out to Set as he grouped up three mushrooms and cut them with a side sweep of the Death Scythe.
「Aye, they’re persistent-! Set, buy me some time!」
Set gave a sharp cry to acknowledge Rei’s words. Rei heard the cry and jumped back, he started saying an incantation as he poured magic power into the words.
『Thou art a being made of flame. Gather with the flame. Flap your great wings of flame!』
The flames gathered around the blade of the Death Scythe as he cast the spell. Before long, the flames changed to the figure of a bird.
As its size gradually increased, its spread out wings soon reached 3m in length.
『Phoenix conquer the sky!』
Completing the spell, the moment the phoenix flapped its flaming wings, Set kicked a mushroom over with his hind feet as a parting gift and used the force to land next to Rei.
At the same time that Set landed next to Rei, the mushroom was thrust inside the phoenix. As for the phoenix shaped flames, made with Rei’s magic, true to its name, it flapped its wings like a bird as it burnt through the entire mushroom as it touched it. As for how hot the flames were, you could understand after seeing the flames spread and a mushroom turn to charcoal just several seconds after touching the phoenix. The phoenix flew among the mushrooms without holding back, burning one mushroom after another. Not even several minutes were required before all the mushrooms that had sneaked around the back had been burnt by Rei. And……
「Elena-sama, I’ll clear away the mushrooms! Please move back immediately.」
Hearing his voice and turning around for an instant to check, Elean made her decision after seeing that the mushrooms at the back had been wiped out.
「Kuust, Ara. You heard it? Fall back!」
While swinging her sword whip, Elena called out to the two people fighting at the front.
The sword whip extended out like a whip and cut through the body of a mushroom that tried to jump at Ara from the side. When Elena flicked her wrist, the body of the mushroom sliced through the inside, splitting it in two.
(These mushrooms, do they not feel pain? Though I’ve heard that monsters that don’t feel pain aren’t rare……)
Inwardly muttering, she flicked her wrist again, cutting through the body of another mushroom that was beside the one she had just cut.
In the first place, the weapon known as the sword whip could take form as a sword or a whip with blades. Though its attack range was reasonably wide, the power of its attacks was not as great as Kuust’s magic spear or Rei’s Death Scythe. Because it can just return to sword form when a strong blow is needed, usually there aren’t any problems. However, a problem arises when it has to be used from the position of the middle and rear guard. ……Moreover, though there would be no problems if they felt pain, these mushrooms had no sense of pain.For ordinary monsters, if they are wounded, they would naturally feel pain. That could be used as a form of restraint.
While thinking about that, she saw Ara cut down mushroom as Kuust stabbed it with his magic spear at the same time……piercing the mushroom, a large number of Water Balls were created at the tip of the spear inside the mushroom, bursting its body the next moment.
And although the two of them tried to immediately move back according to Elena’s instructions, two more mushrooms blocked their way.
「I won’t let you!」
Elena cut the body of one mushroom with her sword whip as they tried to move towards the two people.
「I won’t leave things like that!」
Vel continuously bombarded the other with arrows.
Though it was shot by an arrow, the mushroom continued to advance while taking damage. But although arrows couldn’t knock it down, it was sufficient to slow its movement. One after the other, 2 arrows, 3 arrows, 4 arrows. With arrows being shot in quick succession, it bought enough time for the two people to fall back.
「That is, Rei-dono’s magic……」
As the phoenix shaped flames passed over Ara’s head as she retreated, she muttered in blank surprise.
Even though she had no talent for magic, with her intuition as a warrior, she could feel how much magic power was placed into the phoenix. There was also its beauty.
As for Kuust, who had retreated next to Ara, he looked at the phoenix with unusual admiration.
「Oh, have you finally accepted Rei, Kuust?」
「Hmph, I have already recognised his ability. I just haven’t accepted his character.」
At that reply. Vel gave a snort and laughed to tease Kuust.
As the figure of the phoenix disappeared, only a few mushrooms were left.
The remaining mushrooms were unceremoniously dispatched by Elena.
After originally struggling in a hard fight against the number of mushrooms because of the strangeness of ignoring any damage they suffered, their work was coming to an end.
「……What? Rei, Vel. Say that again.」
Elena’s voice echoed into the surroundings. Next to her, Kuust raised his eyebrows while Ara gave a puzzled look at Rei and Vel.
Though they looked at him like that, Vel repeated what he had said.
「I tried to collect the magic stones from the mushrooms, but I couldn’t find them in their bodies. Plainly speaking, that means that the mushrooms weren’t monsters.」
「But, factually, we were attacked by the mushrooms?」
Kuust also nodded at Elena’s words.
「It’s as you said Elena-sama. Well, considering they surrounded us and attacked from the front and back, it wouldn’t be wrong to consider them as monsters.」
「I understand what Kuust wants to say. But Rei and I examined every section of the mushroom, there’s no helping it. Would Kuust like to examine the mushrooms as well to find their magic stone?」
To Kuust, who didn’t quite believe the results of the investigation, Vel retorted dissatisfied.
Even Kuust didn’t think that Vel would have done a shoddy job and skimped on the check. After all, although he usually had a light tone and attitude, he took his work seriously. But even if Kuust knew it, the words still came out involuntarily.
「Hmm, we might have been wrapped up in some strange trouble this time. First was the Mantis in the middle of he journey, then these mushrooms.」
Elena casually muttered those words. Because of those words, Rei unintentionally turned to look back at the mushrooms that hadn’t been turned into charcoal and noticed something.
Though Elena had an expression of surprise at Rei’s sudden movement, Rei went towards the bodies of the mushrooms without noticing it.
「Hey, what’s wrong? The mushrooms don’t seem to have any magic stones or materials that can be used. Didn’t you check it just earlier?」
Ignoring the puzzled voice of Vel from behind, he examined the body again. However, this time he looked at the part that had grown tree like roots rather than the mushroom itself.
Grabbing part of it with his hand, he cut off part of it with the Mithril Knife before returning to Elena.
「So, did you learn anything?」
Though Elena called out to Rei, he only shook his head slightly.
「No. However, I was thinking about the words Elena-sama said earlier.」
「Yes. About the Mantis. As I said then, there is a possibility that the Mantis was a monster made from alchemy. And from examining them, the mushrooms that attacked us are the same as the mushrooms that grow on this level. Either way, cutting it up, it didn’t have any internal organs that a monster would have, it didn’t even have a magic stone which it should have. If you were to say what was the only difference between these and the other mushrooms, it would be the tree root like things it used to move.」
With just that, Elena understood what Rei wanted to say. Her beautiful eyebrows frowned slightly as she spoke up.
「In other words, the things like tree roots were created with alchemy?」
「In the end, it’s only a guess.」
「Certainly, Rei’s thought might be correct since there’s no magic stone……do you get it? If we had only encountered the Mantis on the highway to the dungeon, it could have possibly just been the experiment of a heretic alchemy master. But what about the case that we haven’t finished going through the dungeon and were attacked by an alchemist’s creations again?」
What Elena wanted to say could be understood. Kuust, Ara and Vel frowned their eyebrows while Rei nodded.
「Yes. If my thinking is correct.……」
「The Mantis and tree roots were aimed at us.」
「But Elena-sama, the fact that you’ve come to the dungeon is only known by a fraction of the Nobles Faction.」
To Ara’s words, Vel gave a shrug and spoke up in his usual lighthearted voice
「In other words, there is someone in the Nobles Faction who wants to cause us trouble.」
「Vel! Such a thing, Elena-sama is part of the Nobles Faction!」
「That’s right. But does that mean that there is no one that wants to cause trouble to Elena-sama, the symbol of the Nobles Faction?」
「……There is a traitor, is it?」
「Well, there is only circumstantial evidence. In the first place, I don’t know if these tree roots were actually made with alchemy.」
Vel said that while looking at the tree roots Rei held in his hand before turning to Elena and speaking again.
「The mantis melted away as soon as it was defeated as if to erase any evidence. Yet these roots are still here even after we defeated the mushrooms. ……Specifically, what do you think, Elena-sama?」
「If you think about it, the Mantis was probably unique and made by concentrating the best advancements into a single monster. On the other hand, if you assume these tree roots are made with alchemy, maybe the technology itself isn’t important and whoever made them wouldn’t be troubled if the technology used was found out.」
「In other words, are you saying that even if the monster with the tree roots was really created with alchemy, the technology being used is ordinary compared to what an alchemist would have used to make the Mantis?」
「That’s right. If you look at the circumstantial evidence, you probably won’t be wrong if you said it was the work of the same person. But in the end, circumstantial evidence is only circumstantial evidence. If it was said to be a coincidence, there is no evidence to refute that. ……Because of that, it is quite regrettable that we weren’t able to secure any of the Mantis’ material.」
Elena muttered while spitting out a sigh.
She had already established the matter that an alchemist was involved in this case for whatever reason.
「Anyhow, even if an alchemist sets things up, if we are vigilant, there will be no problems. We will reach the stairs to the fourth floor soon, focus your minds.」
All members nodded at those instructions. Rei stored the tree roots into the Misty Ring just in case before they continued to advance through the dungeon.
About an hour later, they discovered the stairs down to the fourth floor and cautiously went down.
The Alter of Inheritance was on the seventh floor, the lowest level. Though they finally gone through half the dungeon……the map that Elena had was only up to the third floor. Without a map from hereon, they would have to literally fumble their way through the floors.