「I was surprised.」
At the spectacle spread before her, Elena’s voice echoed into the small, narrow room.
In the room with a treasure chest, they had suddenly been attack by a Skeleton Hound. After Rei, who blocked the surprise attack, the next moment, Set had jumped forward on his own and made a single attack with his tough forefeet. Elena could only admire the series of actions that literally broke the Skeleton Hound apart.
Understanding that he was being praised, Set swung his lion tail while giving a happy cry.
Although Elena leaked a smile for a moment, she quickly surveyed the room.
Fortunately, there didn’t seem to be any traps or hidden monsters other than the treasure chest.
「In other words, this room is designed completely for adventurers.」
「……But, I don’t think normal adventurers would fall for such an obvious trap.」
Vel muttered while looking at the treasure chest where the Skeleton Hound was hiding.
「Well, that is certainly so.」
「But hey, didn’t we fall for it?」
At Ara’s words, Vel unintentionally gave a bitter smile.
Kuust called out to the two of them with a wry smile.
「Even if you say that, we didn’t actually open the treasure chest. It’s probably a trap to make a surprise attack when someone goes near, even if they don’t open the treasure chest. ……No, Ara would have opened it normally and would have been caught by the ambush.」
While listening to such exchanges in the background, Rei checked the remains of the Skeleton Hound that was quite literally crushed by Set.
「Magic stone……impossible. As for the bones, they can’t be used as material since they’ve been shattered.」
Because it was crushed by Set’s power, not only the bones, but the magic stone protected by the bones had also been smashed.
To Set, who came over with an apologetic cry, Rei shook his head slightly.
「Don’t mind it, there was a possibility of me getting injured if you didn’t jump out.」
Standing up while scratching Set’s head, he shook his head at Elena, who was looking at him.
「There’s no use. For now, there’s nothing else in this room so I wonder if we should keep going.」
「I guess so. ……Right, time to resume the search. Vel, Ara, Kuust.」
At Elena’s call, the three people who were talking with smiling faces immediately gave a serious nod.
As they went back out into the passage after leaving the room, their formation was as when they entered the room, Rei and Set were at the vanguard, Elena and Vel were the middle guards with Ara and Kuust in the rear guard.
Rei noticed it after walking for about 20 minutes after leaving the small room.
Set also tilted his head, feeling that something was strange.
Elena felt puzzled at the person and animal and looked around as well. However, she didn’t notice anything in particular.
「Rei, did something happen?」
「Ah……No, it just feels like we’ve walked down this passage before……」
「What? But we haven’t seen any branching paths since then? Is it your imagination?」
「Well, I’m not sure……it might be better to leave a mark as a precaution for now. Set.」
Understanding what was asked of him, Set marked several scratches into the dungeon wall with his claws.
「This will be used as a marker for now. After this we’ll keep going……」
「If we see Set’s scratches on the wall, that means that we’ve been caught in some kind of trap.」
Nodding at Elena, the party began walking down the dungeon path again. Only the sounds of footsteps and equipment rustling could be heard when Rei asked behind him.
「……Vel, as a thief, what do you think?」
Vel opened his mouth before falling silent for a few seconds after remembering something.
「I certainly remember reading about a trap that caused space to loop in a book before I came to this dungeon. However, if that is true, it means the dungeon nucleus is of a very high level. ……No, or maybe there are undead that can use spatial magic.」
Spatial magic is a high level magic that is difficult to learn. The first thing that entered his head when an undead that had mastered spatial magic was mentioned was……
「We should consider that possibility. I honestly hope I’m wrong.」
Lich. They were mages reborn as undead. There were magicians that would conduct a ritual themselves to be reborn as a Lich, but rarely, mages with strong hatred and resentment might be revived as a Lich due to their strong regrets.
The degree of danger ranged widely depending on the level of the mage while they were still alive. There had been examples of G rank mages being revived as Liches.
Because of that, the monster rank of Liches wasn’t clearly defined. Following the previous example, there could be rank A Liches as well as rank G Liches. Though they commonly still had human consciousness, there were Liches that lacked awareness and rampaged on instinct alone.
「I guess so. A monster that can use magic, furthermore an undead one, is extremely troublesome. Let’s pray that it isn’t one.」
At Rei’s words, everyone, Kuust included, nodded. The proceeded while paying attention to the right wall, which was the side Set had scratched. After continuing for about 20 minutes, they eventually reached a place where the wall was marked with scratches.
「This determines it, it seems?」
Rei spoke those words with a sigh. However, his words were said as if questioning it rather than asserting it.
There was no mistake, the wall in front of them was the one Set had scratched 20 minutes ago. But……
「Rei, is this really the mark from before?」
Vel, who was behind Rei, asked him. A feeling of disbelief was mixed in his voice.
「Ah. There’s no mistake, this mark was made with Set’s attack. But it’s not……」
For an instant, Rei glanced at the wall.
Set’s scratch was certainly marked on the wall. However, the reason Vel didn’t confirm it was because the depth of the mark was different. Even though the mark made by Set’s claws went 5cm deep, the mark in front of Vel was only 1cm deep.
「Perhaps, maybe there’s some sort of magic in the wall that will make it naturally recover. In combination with an infinite loop, it’s a nasty match.」
「Uwa~, that certainly is the worst.」
The fastest way for them to check if they were stuck in an infinite loop was to put a mark somewhere. As most adventurers had weapons, most would leave a scratch as a mark. But if you left a mark on a naturally recovering wall like these walls, it would become very difficult. Although it was possible to leave some sort of tool to use as a marker instead of a scratch on the wall, it can’t be said that it would work for sure as they might be taken by monsters wandering in the dungeon.
「It’s certainly troublesome, but we able to figure it out much faster thanks to Set.」
Elena spoke to the two of them and said that.
Set was a Griffon and had extraordinary strength compared to a human, at the same time, his strength was also boosted because he had equipped the magic item, Bracelet of Herculean Strength. If they had walked around the place over and over again, it would consume their mental as well as physical strength. It could be said that they were lucky that didn’t happen.
「But Elena-sama, how do we get out of this infinite loop?」
「I can’t think of one at the moment. I’m sorry, but let me think for a bit. As for everyone else, it would be better to conserve your stamina instead of moving around since we are in an infinite loop. Also, tell me if you think of any ideas.」
「But, I don’t think we could think of anything that Elena-sama wouldn’t think of……」
「Ara, I am not omniscient. You may think of things I don’t think of, don’t deprecate yourself.」
「……I understand. I’ll think about it.」
With that said, everyone saw Ara close her eyes to think and startedd to think of a way out of this situation themselves.
Elena crossed her arms and observed the passage ahead of her. Vel slowly examined the wall where the scratches that Set made were slowly repairing themselves. Kuust looked at the surroundings while placing his hand on his chin. Rei became absorbed in his thoughts while stroking Set’s back. Set decided not to disturb anyone and lay down on the floor, alert of any undead that might try a surprise attack.
(Spatial loop. In other words, it started when we entered the trap somewhere. If that’s so, we should know where then? ……No, that’s no good. The easiest way is to defeat the monster that set up this trap……in the first place, this may not be a trap set up by a monster. Also, even if it was a monster, it may not be in this place.)
Rei thought for a way out while looking at the wall. However, the scratches made by Set on the wall had almost been restored. He could only see traces of it.
(It can’t be helped, should I draw on Zepairu’s knowledge after so long? ……Considering the time that has passed since Zepairu has died, it’s a little difficult to say if his knowledge can be trusted 100%.)
While muttering secretly, he looked at the Zepairu’s knowledge on spatial magic……no, he drew out information on spatial magic.
(How to get out of a looped space……defeating the opponent is rejected. Use magic with magic power greater than the allowable amount in the looped space. ……Although that is possible, the consumption on my reserves would be too intense. Destroy the space itself with spatial magic……that’s rejected since I can’t use spatial magic myself. The most certain method is to destroy the place where the space starts to loop, it seems. I know that’s the easiest, but how to find that starting point. ……Hmm, I see. In this case my consumption isn’t that great, so it’s worth a try?)
Exploring Zepairu’s knowledge, Rei judged that it was possible for him to manage somehow and turned his eyes to Elena.
「Elena-sama, I came up with an idea that might possibly work.」
「Hou~, interesting. Please tell me.」
「Although this space has been looped, now that we were moved here, there should be a place somewhere connecting back to the original space. If you destroy that starting place, the looping space will be broken and we can return to the original space.」
「But now, how would you search for the starting point? Are you going to destroy the passage bit by bit? No way, that is too troublesome. How long would it take to destroy a wall that naturally recovers.」
Rei shook his head slightly at Vel’s words.
「The method itself isn’t too difficult. I can set the entire passage on fire with my magic to locate the starting point.」
That was a solution that could only be called brute force, Elena frowned her eyebrows slightly.
「Can you do it? I think that that will require a considerable amount of magic power.」
「That’s probably not a problem. I have a bracelet equipped that can take away magic power from enemies.」
While saying so, he held out his left wrist so that everyone could see, not the right wrist with the Misty Ring.
There certainly was a bracelet there, which seemed to be some sort of magic item.
「This magic item is called Bracelet of Magic Absorption. When the equipped person attacks an enemy, it is an excellent item that can absorb magic power proportional to the damage dealt to the enemy.」
「……Never mind. Indeed it’s a coveted item for those that use magic. Was it also given to you by your master?」
「That is so. Well, as Elena-sama knows, I have a large amount of magic power so I rarely have to depend on it. And basically, mages don’t have any techniques to directly attack enemies to hurt them. ……Then, is it okay to try the method I suggested?」
「It’s probably best to try Rei’s method unless you can think of anything else. Try it.」
Nodding at Elena’s words, he made sure everyone was gathered in one place so as to not be caught in the spreading flames and cast the spell.
『Fire, burn while spreading red flames. Turn into a carpet of fire that follows my will.』
While chanting the incantation, a flame the size of his fist appeared at the Death Scythe’s handle……he then stabbed the handle into the floor!
The magic was activated at that moment. The flame at the tip of the Death Scythe exploded out and spread across the ground, ceiling and walls as Rei slammed it against the ground. The flames range spread rapidly and after a few seconds, covered everything Rei saw.
「……It isn’t hot?」
While listening to Ara’s strange voice, Rei poured more magic power into his magic to spread the range of the flames. Although the flames were at the abnormally low temperature of 20℃, Rei’s magic power was being rapidly consumed due to it’s large spread. And after a few minutes, in the opposite direction Rei was looking at, flames appeared from behind them, showing where the space was looped.
「……I’ve found it!」
Rei, who had been concentrating on maintaining the flames, gave a shout and dispelled the flames as he ran down the passage, brandishing the Death Scythe.
Set instantly followed while Elena was lost for a moment before she followed.
By the time Elena caught up, Rei had already swung the Death Scythe towards one side of the wall.
The blade of the Death Scythe swung down. The blade ripped part of the wall……and the next moment, a sound like breaking glass reverberated. In front of them was the small room where they had fought the Skeleton Hound earlier.