Authors: Fujino Omori
Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy
I roll over the body, coming up clean and withdrawing my dagger from the first kill. The two kobolds I hit fall flat on their backs.
That one’s close! Dive, slash down! Through the throat! That’s two.
The last three are moving! Coming right for me!
Duck, roll back. The one above me, it’s wide open, but my dagger won’t get there in time! I do the next best thing: kick. I bury my boot in its mouth.
It crashes to the floor above me, its neck angled in a direction it’s not supposed to go. Third one gone.
I declare this battle mine.
The three left can’t surround me. Kobolds aren’t too bright. They won’t figure anything out. Especially now, since my dagger found the gut of the next jumper. Four down, two to go.
I see fear in the last two’s eyes. But I’m not stopping now. Two steps, two slashes, and the last two bodies hit the floor.
I sit down on the dungeon floor for a breather.
Did I just do that? I’ve never faced that many before, but somehow I did it.
Not even a scratch on me… Not bad at all!
There might have been a better way to face them. But I’m solo. There’s no one here to tell me how or give me orders.
Hell, I’m the only member of
. Without any veterans or allies to show me the ropes, I have to do things my own way. Do things “my own way”… Sounds nice, but I’m still just a newbie making things up as I go along. I’m not good for anything yet.
What if I asked someone from another
to train me up a bit? I mean, I don’t want to die doing things “my own way”… but wait. If I did that, I’d be a laughingstock. My goddess, too. What
would the god of the other
think if I did that? Things would get way too complicated.
Any way I look at it, I’ll be better off alone.
As long as I “don’t go on adventures,” I can fight and win.
Do whatever it takes to fight against one monster at a time.
Stay in the upper levels.
Use the surroundings to your advantage.
“… All right.”
Time to stand up and get to work on those bodies. One of the slain monsters’ tongues is hanging out, like the kobold’s still trying to breathe. I don’t feel sorry for it but can still help it along. I raise my dagger over its body.
Flesh tears apart as I plunge the blade deep into its chest. Its body flinches and blood squirts everywhere, but that doesn’t matter. I’m after the small, shiny, bluish-purple shard in its chest.
The magic stone.
It’s a crystal with magical power; all monsters in the dungeon have them. I know I’m always saying this, but I don’t know much more than that. Maybe I should break down and read a book like the goddess is always telling me to do.
Anyway, the Guild pays cash in exchange for these beauties because of their magical properties. This is how I make money, collecting magic stones to trade.
The magic stones are used for many things through human engineering, like the lamp back at my room. The stones can be used to power stoves for cooking or even to freeze foods to keep them fresh. They are a valuable resource. Orario sells the stones to other cities and countries for big money, or at least that’s what I’ve heard. I think the Guild should get the credit, though, not the city.
The stone that I took out of the kobold is actually just a shard.
Only about the size of my fingernail, it’s not worth that much money. So far, the monsters I’ve slain on lower Levels One to Four have all had this kind of shard. The Guild pays more for bigger shards and full stones.
The kobold’s body starts changing the moment I pull out the
shard. At first, it flattens out like strings had been cut, and color drains from its face. Then without warning, its entire body turns to ash and disappears without a trace.
All monsters disappear after their magic stone is removed.
Eina said that the magic stone is a monster’s core, its power source. The magical energy of the stone gives them life. Eina also said that a good strategy for taking them down in a pinch is to aim for the stones. If the stone gets damaged in battle, the Guild won’t buy it. But I don’t think anyone would complain about losing a little cash if they’re about to get slaughtered.
I watch the last of the body dissipate, but I can’t relax yet. I’ve got five more shards to collect here, and two back where I first ran into the group. I don’t have time to let them just lay around.
Cut, slash, grab, pull. Walk to the next, repeat, walk farther still, repeat.
I just pulled out the magic stone of one of the kobolds, but one of the claws on its right hand didn’t turn to ash. It hit the floor with a
and rocked a bit. The claw isn’t going anywhere.
Looks like this is a “drop item.”
Sometimes a piece of a monster’s body stays behind even after its stone has been removed. It just means that particular monster’s stone stored energy in a different part of the body. So that part of the monster has enough independent energy to stay behind even after the stone is removed. It also means this kobold had a very sharp claw…
I can sell this, too. The Guild will sell it to the blacksmiths, and they will make it into a weapon or something. If this is high enough quality, I might get more for it than the magic shards!
“Finally! A little luck!”
I put the shards into my pouch, but I put the kobold claw into my black backpack.
My backpack may look bland, but it has a few secrets. It was made with high-quality material and woven with magic. It can hold more
than your average sack. It’s not perfect, though. If it gets too full, the seams will tear. And of course, the weight. There really is no perfect item, is there…
Usually a “supporter” travels with adventurers and collects all the magic stones and drop items. But
doesn’t have any supporters, just me. I have to carry everything I pick up, and all that stuff gets pretty heavy. Ah, soloing in the Dungeon…
Maybe I should hire a free supporter, someone not in any
. Eina’s been disappointed with me recently, so a supporter might help.
Then again, we’re broke. How can I hire someone when it’s all I can do to buy food and items?
“… Round two?”
Come on! Give me a break!
The Dungeon is a weird place, even if you ignore the magic stones.
This is the only one in the world. Like I said earlier, it’s been here since before the gods arrived on Gekai.
There are legends about the bottom of the Dungeon. They say it’s connected to Hell or some magical world. You’d think the gods would be able to tell us what’s down there, but they never give us a straight answer.
“The Dungeon is a dungeon. What else can you find there other than a dungeon?”
Words of the wise for sure. The gods really must like this place.
I was shocked the first time I heard that the Dungeon itself is “alive.”
It’s not like the walls are made of muscle and chase you around; they don’t move at all. In fact, adventurers have mapped out many of the floors. The maps are for sale at the Guild. I heard that the farther down you go, the floors get mind-numbingly huge. So the maps are less and less complete the lower the floor.
When I say alive, I mean it heals itself. If a wall is damaged or destroyed one day, it’s back to normal the next.
The magic stones may not be that impressive, but the dungeon itself is made from something really special. Even our best scientists can’t explain how or why these things happen. All they can do is watch and marvel at it.
The walls have to be made of something a lot like magic stones. Sunlight never reaches inside, and yet it’s always bright enough to see. The ceiling of the first floor is speckled with tiny lights like sparks all over the place. No matter what time of day it is outside, it’s bright in here.
Let’s not forget the monsters. They’re born in the Dungeon.
Literally, in the Dungeon. They hatch from the walls. I’m not kidding. Many adventurers have seen it firsthand. That’s why no matter how many monsters are slain, their numbers never go down.
But they don’t hatch just anywhere. Each floor bears different monsters. Sure, some irregulars might go up or down a floor or two, but most stay on their birth floor. On a side note, the deeper the floor, the stronger the monsters.
The floors themselves are connected by stairs, slopes, what have you. If I make a mistake and get lost, I can’t warp to the Dungeon entrance. No one can. We’re not gods, you know? Adventurers and monsters can only rely on their feet when in the Dungeon.
Monsters are only born in the Dungeon.
So if the Dungeon is contained and managed, there is no threat living above it.
That’s how the first guild was formed. Now the benefits of the Dungeon and the Guild go hand in hand.
A goblin nearly killed me several years ago when I was a kid. Most likely it descended from goblins that escaped from the Dungeon before the Guild was here. Monsters live far and wide across the world as well.
So yeah, they can breed just fine.
A place that spawns prosperity and danger, very mysterious…
It’s kind of scary to think about, but I think that the Dungeon isn’t
originally part of this world, just like the gods and goddesses weren’t. There is no way humans and demi-humans built it.
Of course, there’s no way to confirm that, it’s just my gut feeling.
How did I not see that goblin in the middle of the hallway?!?
Direct hit to my stomach, his foot got inside my ribs!
I catch a glimpse of his bulging eyes as my body folds under the force of his kick. I roll backward.
Those eyes… I can still remember them from when I was attacked. Add in the pasty green skin, and you’ve got a good idea what haunted my dreams for years. But now that I received a blessing, I can kill them in a heartbeat, just like this. What a difference…
I remember when I first saw one in this Dungeon my first time here. I was so scared I couldn’t move. Feels like ages ago now.
“Oh! Another drop item!”
This time it’s a goblin fang.
I put it into my backpack, but the extra weight is really getting to me. Feels like I’m carrying bricks in that thing. My spine itself is talking to me—that’s not a good sign.
There’s still plenty of room in the bag, though… If I’m fighting goblins like that one, I can still move like normal. I think…
—Correction. I should call it a day.
Sure, it was a sneak attack, but I should have been able to dodge that attack completely.
Another goblin was hiding in the shadow of the wall; now he’s standing in front of me and baring his fangs. We lock eyes as I unhook my backpack and set it on the floor.
I can’t take any chances. Even if I’m not going on adventures, danger lurks around every corner in here. Didn’t Eina say that the most dangerous thing an adventurer can think is, “Ah, whatever”?
I should head back. Exchange what I collected today and just head home. It’s not that big a deal.
I wonder if Ms. Wallenstein will ever be interested in me. I have no damn clue how to get her to notice me, but as I am now… I don’t have a chance!
Just thinking about the face of my savior lights my soul on fire.
I have dinner plans tonight. Better make sure I get enough money to eat something at Syr’s bar. I promised her I’d be there. Gotta get more shards than usual to cover it. I’ve already spent half a day prowling around down here.
Time to kick some ass!
“Hey, goblin! Right back at ya!”
Now he’s in pieces.
Strength: I-82 → H-120 Defense: I-13 → I-42
Utility: I-96 -> H-139 Agility: H-172 → G-225 Magic: I-0
It’s early evening.
After coming home to the hidden room under the church after a hard day’s work, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
The status paper the goddess gave me… These numbers can’t be right.
“Um… Goddess? Are you sure these numbers are right?”
“… What? Do you think I’m too stupid to copy down numbers?!?”
“N-no! It’s not that, it’s just…”
I don’t understand how my status could have gone up this much.
The goddess sounds like she has a thorn in her side or something,
but she’s sure about this. Maybe I should look one more time, just to be safe.
I tried really hard today. I’d say I did damn well.
But this… There is no way I improved 160 points in just one day!
What the hell were the past two weeks then? I barely went up a few points a day until yesterday.