Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「I Have A Bad Feeling」
The next morning, the shadow of the Wind Dragon Mountains blocked the sunlight from reaching us as we quickly finished our breakfast and headed towards the Dragon Valley.
We were now scaling down the cliff from yesterday on a path that was barely wide enough for one person to pass at a time.
The mist that had blanketed the forest floor was pouring into the valley like a river, and the forest that had been visible yesterday was now lost in a sea of mist. The literal mist-sea was constantly pulsing and shifting with its own unique currents and tides.
Every once in a while, a strong breeze would blow a wave of mist up the cliff face like a spray of water.
It wasn’t possible for me to walk straight along the path while wearing my armor, so I had to cling to the wall as I walked. Since it’d be bad if Ponta got caught in the wind currents, she was safely settled in Ariane’s cleavage, though I couldn’t see her because I was bringing up the rear.
The 『Overcoat of the Night Sky』 fluttered in the wind as I carefully traversed the path until we came upon the cavern’s entrance.
The cavern entrance was about fifty meters beneath the cliff and appeared to be a gaping hole that led into a dark abyss.
Since the pathway had widened in front of the cavern, we took a short break that gave me enough time to examine it.
The entrance itself was considerably large, about five meters in height, and was even wider than that. The ledge in front of the cavern was covered in moss leading into the abyss.
“Since a variety of monsters inhabit the cavern we need to proceed with caution.”
Ariane took out the crystal lamp from her knapsack after she said that and turning it on and shined light into the dark cavern.
Chiome and I followed suit and took out our own crystal lamps. The stronger light sources managed to illuminate some of the cavern.
However, darkness still remained in the depths of the cavern and seemed impenetrable from here.
It’d be impossible to cover any meaningful distance with 【Dimensional Step】 in this place.
With a crystal lamp in hand, Ariane led the way into the cavern, while I brought up the rear.
A chilly wind would blow up from deeper in the cavern and the only sounds that could be heard were the eerie sounds of our echoing footsteps.
The descending route into the cavern was rather extensive, several branching paths opened up along the way, yet Ariane remained steadfast in her advance and paid them no mind.
When I looked back I saw that the entrance was no longer visible.
“You said that this place was inhabited by monsters, but we haven’t seen any yet……”
I moved my lamp to peer into the darkness after I said that.
All of a sudden Ponta, who was sitting on Ariane’s shoulder, let out a cry just as Ariane drew her sword.
At Ariane’s shout, I looked ahead of her to find a one-meter tall, large bat hanging from the ceiling with its full two-meter long wingspan on display. The bat’s ears looked like fish gills and when it bared its fangs and let out a strange cry, dozens more of them attacked from the ceiling.
The bats flew in strange patterns and screeched above Ariane’s and Chiome’s heads with their fangs bared
The bats were completely focused on those two and paid me no mind.
“They’re really annoying in large numbers!”
Ariane expertly killed one of the bats as it tried to attack her from the side. Ponta was unusually motivated about this fight, even participating by creating a small whirlwind around Ariane that threw off the bats’ flight patterns.
The instant a bat faltered, Ariane would cut into it with her sword. Thanks to Ponta’s intervention, the threat of individual bats wasn’t all that high.
『Water ninjutsu: Water shuriken!!』
Behind Ariane, Chiome began shooting down the bats that had been hanging back with the water shuriken she was able to create.
I was completely left alone by the bats, so I was using my large sword to cut down any bat that tried to attack the two of them from behind.
Since they were flying around in irregular patterns I doubted I could hit them with a magic attack. Taking advantage of my incredible kinetic vision, I reduced the bats to corpses.
However, despite my sword’s size, it couldn’t reach the bats higher up in the air.
While glaring at the bats in the air, I remembered a technique I had used to kill a bandit before.
“【Flying Dragon Slash】!”
Some of the bats flying in the air were bisected and fell to the ground when they were struck by an invisible slash created by the technique.
While it was an excellent midrange technique, it was quite difficult to use since my allies couldn’t see the slash either. In other words, it was basically useless for supporting my friends.
After I continued to fire off 【Flying Dragon Slash】 towards the ceiling for a bit, the bats scattered once their numbers had dwindled enough.
“Hmm〜, were those monsters? For some reason, they didn’t seem to notice me……”
I sheathed my sword and took a look around before picking my knapsack back up. The bat corpses were littering the area in small mounds.
“They weren’t monsters, just common animals. Since they suck the blood of their prey, someone like you wouldn’t be considered food, Arc.”
After wiping the blood from her sword, Ariane turned to me and gave me the explanation about the giant bats’ behavior.
My whole body was completely covered in metal body armor and there wasn’t any moisture in my bones, so it was understandable that they wouldn’t consider me prey.
I guess they could have determined that much with their echolocation.
When I looked back at Chiome, I saw that she had picked up one of the fallen giant bats and was examining its wing.
“Chiome-dono, is everything alright?”
“Everything is fine. By the way, are these things edible? I have eaten a smaller version of these before, so I’m curious……”
I was left in a daze when Chiome asked me that question while holding up a headless giant bat.
If I wasn’t mistaken, there were a couple of places on earth where eating bats was a common occurrence, and she had eaten them before.
Since the People of the Plains and Mountains were a persecuted race, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if large-scale agriculture or cattle raising were impossible and eating anything edible was an acceptable practice.
However, the giant bat’s pig-and-mouse chimera face, gill-like ears and large fangs made it look anything but appetizing.
When I turned to Ariane, she nodded her head in sympathy before answering.
“We don’t usually eat them. Given their appearance and all……”
Ariane agreed with my opinion.
“Anyway, if we don’t hurry we won’t be able to leave this place tonight.”
After her brief statement, Ariane held up her lamp and resumed her trek into the cavern.
“You’re right, sorry.”
Chiome nodded as she quietly tossed the giant bat she’d been holding aside before following Ariane with a slightly depressed expression.
As we continued or trek into the dark cavern, we came across one-meter long ghost millipedes crawling along the walls, a gathering of the game’s small fries monster slimes and avoided monsters hidden deeper in the shadows that caused chills to run up our spines.
I also began to hear strange voices that originated from somewhere from just beyond the light’s range. This skeleton body might’ve been be the only reason I was able to maintain my cool
Then an unknown monster drifted into my line of sight.
“Ariane-dono, what is that creature?”
It drifted in the air like a balloon, it’s spherical and seemingly soft body was covered in eyes, and several tentacles hung from its body.
The monster looked like a flying jellyfish, honestly.
More and more of them became visible as we advanced. Ariane managed to catch my hand before I drew my sword and attacked one that came too close to me.
“That is a ‘Spoil’, it will just float by if you don’t bother it. When you attack them, they will release poison instead of fighting back.”
She said that they just floated around and when I took a close look at the tentacles of the Spoils I saw that they would occasionally catch a flying beetle to eat.
Several of the creatures’ eyes surveyed the environment at all times, but the scene of the creature preying on insects was rather chilling to watch.
While doing our best to avoid the Spoils as we moved beyond them, Chiome called out a warning.
“Ariane-dono, there’s an unpleasant smell up ahead. It’s most likely an undead.”
At her warning, Ariane stopped walking and held out her crystal lamp deeper into the depths.
Unfortunately, the light wasn’t able to reach that far back, but a gust of wind carried along the sound of something limping. A humanoid shape soon crawled out of the darkness.
The body that crawled towards us on its hand and feet had discolored, dark brown skin and vacant eyes. Also, there were strange worms squirming around in its limbs and body.
When It managed to stand up, I could see that a large worm was resting in a cavity that had been opened in its chest. It moved like a sea anemone that had just found it’s prey.
“That!? It’s not a Zombie, it’s a Ghoul Worm!!”
Ariane’s panicked voice echoed throughout the cavern as more ghoul worms appeared from the shadows and launched themselves at us.
The creatures leaped outside of the light that the crystal lamp gave off and carried enough momentum to reach me.
I took a step back in order to dodge and proceeded to put down my lamp before drawing my sword.
In this dark area, the range in which I could fight was limited to the area illuminated by the light. Ariane and Chiome both possessed nightvision, so they were fine fighting in the dark, but my light-dependent self was left as an easy target.
I dodged several of the ghoul worms that leaped at me from the shadows and was about to cut them down when a nearby Spoil caused me to halt my swing.
While wielding a greatsword was advantageous when fighting multiple enemies, it was a hindrance in narrow spaces. If you added something that you weren’t supposed to touch into the mix, then the weapon was rendered nearly useless.
Even though Ariane wielded a longsword, I doubted I could replicate her ability to avoid the Spoils and safely cut into the ghoul worms.
“【Sword of Judgment】!”
Shortly after the Ghoul Worms had landed, I invoked the Paladin skill I had once used to kill a Giant Basilisk.
My sword shined a radiant light as I swung it down in front of me. Instantly, a magic circle formed under a Ghoul Worm’s feet before a sword of light fell from the ceiling. However, the Ghoul Worm managed to jump out of the way before the sword could hit.
It was quite difficult to aim at a human body with the ability to leap about like a giant grasshopper. My target wasn’t the size of a Giant Basilisk and it was agile enough to easily dodge 【Sword of Judgment】.
I immediately gave up on using my sword in this fight and sheathed it before picking up my lamp and pointing it at Ariane.
“I’m going to gather these pests together! 【Whirlwind】!!”
Ariane shouting my name in surprise as I invoked a wind attribute magic spell of the magician class.
With me at it’s center, a fierce gale began blowing throughout the cavern and traveled in the direction of my outstretched hand.
The Spoils that had been floating in the air were blown deeper into the cavern. The Ghoul Worms, on the other hand, were blown off balance by the strong gale.
Without giving them time to recover, I invoked another spell.
Rock spikes formed from hard bedrock burst from the ground and skewered the cluster of Ghoul Worms before they had any chance to leap out of the way.
The skewered Ghoul Worms’ movement had clearly been dulled, but they still struggled to get free.
It seemed like this wasn’t enough to kill them, when I turned to Ariane and Chiome to tell them that, Ariane raised her voice again.
“Wait a second, Arc! You’re not supposed to use earth magic in caves because it affect──!!”
I heard a bit of anxiety in Ariane’s voice, but she was soon cut off by a sudden loud thud.
The ground beneath my feet suddenly collapsed into a large fissure that swallowed me whole.
My view radically changed as I continued to fall. When I noticed a small hole on my left as I fell down this endless roller coaster I somehow managed to roll into it.
Now I knew how Indiana Jones felt when he fell into traps.
“Because earth magic affects the ground, it’s a bad idea to recklessly use it in caves!”
When I looked back up at where I fell from, I saw Ariane and Chiome climbing down the wall towards me.
The two of them seemed to have been caught in the collapse as well. Ponta was even clinging to Ariane’s chest for safety.
It was my fault for not accounting for the effect earth magic would have on the topography, so I sincerely apologized.
“Sorry! Let’s find a place to stand and then use transfer magic to get out of here!”
I had managed to maintain my grasp on my crystal lamp and it still emitted light, so I began searching around for it.
There were a couple of rocks sticking out here and there but there weren’t enough to hinder us as we slid down the tunnel.
After a while, the dark, narrow hole gave way to an open area.
The slope we’d been sliding down evened out, allowing us to slow down and take a look around the room.
Despite this place being located deep underground in a cavern, a dim, bluish light illuminated the area and revealed a location befitting of a fantasy world.
“There’s a subterranean lake here. And that’s……!?”
When I heard Chiome speak up, I focused a bit more on our surrounding and found that most of the ground was covered by clear water. The things that illuminated this underground lake and created this mysterious scenery were pale lights that could be seen all around us.
But most shocking of all was the huge ship that was anchored near the lakefront despite this being an underground lake.