Chapter 117: Corpses of the disappeared monsters
Cathy, Kefin, and the former slaves returned about when the cooking was done.
When I received their offer of vegetables, I offered them spices in exchange and the dwarf aunties gave shrill cheers.
After that, I discussed cooking with them in full harmony but I found out that Estia completely could not cook so she was totally out of the loop.
I started listening to Cathy and group’s report on the situation of the cavern.
“How’s the inside like?”
“It proceeded in the direction of the monsters becoming stronger nyan.” (Cathy)
“However, because in addition to the large numbers, they do not disappear while leaving only magic stones like in labyrinths. Hence, it was quite hard to proceed with our search.” (Kefin)
If that’s the case, then we have no choice but to recover the corpses while proceeding?
Even if I assign magic bags to them … I can’t assign magic bags to the slaves.
In other words, there’s no other choice but for me to take up the role of recovering the monsters?
If we continue to remain here, the monsters might attack Rockford instead and it would also be disastrous … that line of thought is valid as well.
No, if we work the former slaves …
” … What about the former slaves?”
“Unfortunately, it might work if it is above ground but underground it would be suicide and can’t be done nya.”
“It’s not that wide inside. It would be hard to coordinate cooperation with large numbers and I believe it would inversely cause a difficult situation whereby it would be hard to move about.”
” … I see. Former slaves, after you get your rest, please defend this location to the last man.”
So it’s hopeless … my wish was severed.
Well, even though I could understand from the dark expressions that were on both of their faces.
“Will we return to being slaves?”
“Or will you make us suicide to the ant monster’s nest?”
I only demanded one thing from the frightened former slaves.
“As long as you all securely defend this location and the other 2 caves, I promise to not treat you badly.”
“We’ll absolutely defend this place and win our freedom!”
The former slaves were in high spirits but I didn’t have an ounce of intention to let the criminal slaves and war slaves loose.
After our meal and rest, we and King Rockwell had our nap.
I left instructions to substitute the dwarves at the respective caves and for them to take their meals.
Thus, after waking from a couple of hours of nap, we begin storming the cave.
“Then, shall we go? Before that, those with nose plugs?”
Lionel and group immediately raised their hands.
King Rockwell and Estia who were unaware of Object X tilted their heads.
“Oh well. This amount of stench can even transform clean air so plug your noses with these.”
I passed nose plugs to everyone.
“Is it really alright for me to not go in as well?”
“I’d be at ease with the defence if Grand-san remains here. Moreover, the Dwarf Kingdom residents feel that way as well. Former slaves, listen to Grand-san’s words! Alright, some nasty smell might float over but please don’t be alarmed.”
Thus, I stormed into the cavern that I had no intention of entering.
“It’s fine for me to just shine the light like this?” Estia asked me.
“Yeah. Please tell me immediately if you see any places to take note of or where the enemies might appear from when we’re advancing.”
I asked Estia to play the role of shining the light from the second row.
We advanced with King Rockwell who has great manoeuvrability at the lead, Kefin, Estia, and Cathy lined up in the second row and with me and Lionel at the rear.
“There are many corpses but looking closely, the monsters sure seem small.”
“It certainly seems that way. However, they will gradually increase in size after we enter the branching passage.”
“I think that now monsters will appear as well nya.”
“I leave it to you. We’ll proceed and place Object X at the branching passage.”
After I announced that to Cathy and Kefin, perhaps because their tension was transmitted, King Rockwell and Estia asked.
“Is that Object X bad to such an extent?”
“Furthermore, is it capable of weakening the monsters just by placing it there?”
“It’s just smelly. To the extent that monsters run away from it. It’s even possible to drink it after everything is over. Incidentally, if you waste it, you will receive penalties in accordance with the pledge to the Philosopher-sama.”
” … So it’s something like that huh.”
“If that’s the case, why isn’t it widespread?”
“Because one must definitely finish drinking it.”
” … That means you …”
“Of course, I can drink it without any issue.”
Their faces paled a little when I said that with a laugh.
To have that expression before they have a whiff of the smell … I could immediately tell that they were wondering about how to judge me. Moreover, it’s certainly not anything good.
As we advanced through the cavern, the corpses of monsters gradually increased.
I was storing the corpses in my magic bag but then, both Cathy and Kefin began to describe suspicious points in sync.
“Weird nya. There should be more monsters that I dealt the final blow to nya.”
“Certainly. Such a small number is certainly abnormal.”
Both of them said that there should have been more ant monsters that were defeated.
Since neither of them was the type to serve up strange stories, I considered if it was due to the case whereby the corpses disappear after being left for a certain amount of time like in a labyrinth or that the ants carried them back.
” … They might have been carried back by the ants. … Taking that into consideration, there’s a possibility that the monsters will become stronger from here onward. If that’s the case, I should have come along from the beginning to recover the corpses.”
“Nobody could have known about such a thing. Since Luciel-sama has currently entered such a dangerous cave, you don’t need to feel ashamed to anyone.”
Lionel said so and all the members nodded synchronously, causing my body to feel slightly lighter.
“Thank you. Let’s do what we can for now.”
Leaving the monsters that come out to the 3 people vanguard, I earnestly concentrated on collecting the corpses and applying purification magic.
When we reached the fork, just as we were about to proceed onward after placing the barrel of Object X to repel the monsters, I stopped temporarily.
“Please wait a moment.”
I prayed to the Gods for which direction to proceed down and let the Illusionary Cane fall on its own, pointing to the opposite direction of where Cathy and the others were heading toward. (TL: Lol)
“You may think that it’s childish but this time, please use this route.”
Cathy and Kefin looked at each other and laughed as they agreed.
“It doesn’t matter to me which way we take nya.”
“I am Luciel-sama’s retainer after all.”
I told them that with a smile and had thus decided on the direction we would proceed in.
King Rockwell and Estia gave strange looks for that but I ignored it and advanced.
“The number of monsters has increased.”
Just like what King Rockford announced, weak but numerous monsters appeared the way ahead of the right fork we took.
I steadily collected the corpses but the ants reacted to the disappearing corpses.
“Their movements are slightly different from before nya.”
” … That’s certainly true.”
As evidence to that (the ants reacting to the missing corpses), Cathy and Kefin seemed like they felt something was out of place.
“Due to the numbers of these ant monsters, they might not have enough food to go around. If monsters eat as well, then with cannibalism, it would not be strange if they are individuals who become even stronger by doing so.” (Lionel)
” … It doesn’t look like this is a place where the corpses disappear like in a labyrinth.” (Luciel)
Lionel looked like he recalled some discomfort from the words I said.
“Perhaps the monsters will become stronger from here on out so advance while maintaining vigilance.”
While saying so, they discovered that there was another fork in the passage once again and I, in the same way, placed Object X and used the Illusionary Cane to decide on the path to proceed on.
“The passage is gradually widening.”
Estia suddenly said so. It certainly feels like the width of the passage has widened.
“It seems like the enemy numbers have increased as well.”
King Rockwell announced and the 3 vanguards rushed forward.
“It doesn’t look like there will be an attack from behind but monsters may gradually head toward here from the different passages.” Lionel informed me.
“Why do you think so?”
“For an organization that protects the king and queen, it’s the norm. The monsters in labyrinths don’t seem to be related between floors but I’ve heard that ordinary monsters have a pecking order.”
“Your source of information?”
“The Jasuan-Jais brothers.”
I couldn’t imagine when he collected the information without me realizing.
While feeling relieved that Lionel did not waste his time in the town of Ienith, I was once again impressed by Lionel’s greatness to be recognized by the Dragonewt race.
“Well then, I’ll continue retrieving.”
When I began collecting the corpses, the ants aimed for me and attacked.
However, the 3 vanguards suppressed the majority of them and the number of monsters that headed my way was not many.
“Even I can take on one or two without a problem.”
I transformed the Illusionary Cane into a sword and cleaved through them.
I pulverised the monster that was attacking from my blind spot with a spear thrust backward.
“Didn’t Whirlwind teach you that it’s taboo to be conceited?” (TL: Whirlwind = Instructor Broad)
“It’s because I trust that Lionel would not overlook any danger. But it was slightly scary though …”
I admit that I do have some complacency that even if I’m injured, as long as I do not die from a single hit, it would somewhat be alright, indeed, it’s true that I was too careless this time but I believed that Lionel would come in to assist if anything happens.
… I was keenly aware that I truly rely on and trust Lionel.
“You plan to die of old age right?” (Lionel)
“Yeah. So please protect me.” (Luciel)
“I’ll do my best.” (Lionel)
When Lionel and I laughed as we head to the front, Estia was trembling.
“Estia, if you’re afraid, shine the light from the back line.
” …… ”
As I defeated the ants attacking me, Estia spoke before I could speak.
“The friendship among men sure is great. Ah, this time, it’s a master-slave relationship huh! It looks great.” (Estia)
She wasn’t scared at all.
“Please let me know if you’re tired. I will be your shield or sword anytime.” (Estia)
She illuminated the place with the flashlight while looking pleased.
I acted as if she wasn’t present and was determined to conquer the cavern.
Just like that, we proceeded through another 2 forks in the passage and came out to an open location but, the figures of large bipedal ant monsters eating the dead ants could be seen everywhere.
“Is it a higher species?”
“The number is a little large nya.”
“We have no way of reading the opponent’s ability so it might become a tough battle if they all strike at once.”
The bipedal ants were certainly different from the other ant monsters, about the size of goblins, but I didn’t feel any pressure from them.
I passed him his flame greatsword and gave out orders.
“If Lionel can send the monsters flying, Cathy will support Lionel, Kefin will defend me as I collect the corpses and Estia will protect King Rockwell here.”
“I can fight as well?” (Rockwell)
“I know, but for some reason, I totally don’t feel that this will be such a tough battle. Leave it to us.”
King Rockwell reluctantly compromised.
Thus, our battle with the higher monster species began.
Thank you for reading.