Vol. 11 Chapter 4 – Part 1

The following day, Shin’s party was once again standing before the gate to the Castle of the Depths.

“I’d sure love to be done with this place today.”

“That’s right. Let’s proceed while keeping time loss to a minimum.”

Probably because of what happened the day before, Schnee looked less concerned and more eager.

All party members agreed with her; Filma and Shibaid looked in better shape than usual too.

“….hey, Shin. Are you really sure that nothing happened yesterday, before I arrived?”

“I explained already, didn’t I? That we might find something related to me.”

“But despite that, aren’t master and Filma acting kind of weird?”

“No, I don’t think so. Really.”

“….very suspicious…”

Under Tiera’s inquisitive stare, Shin was in a cold sweat, trying his best to control his facial expressions.

He had already told Tiera about what Schnee had felt. He couldn’t tell her, however, that he had also hugged Schnee and made her cry. Shin also wanted to forget about the fact that Filma and Shibaid had been watching.

“Well, I’m not going to ask anymore…but don’t hide really important things from me, okay? I told you about my biggest secret after all.”

“I know, and I told you about the most important part. There’s something that Schnee seems to feel, but the others don’t. I don’t either. Can you feel something peculiar other than the miasma, Tiera?”

“With all the miasma, I feel that my other senses are dulled, but…well, now that you mention it, other than feeling worried, I feel like…there’s something pulling me? Something like that, but just vaguely…”

Tiera spoke while looking at the miasma lightly swaying beyond the gate.

Shin trusted Tiera’s sharp senses, so he found her mention of feeling something pulling at her a bit strange.

“Schnee feels like I might disappear, but you feel something pulling at you. Hmm…”

If Shin was the one being pulled, Schnee’s sensation would become more realistic, but Tiera said that she felt like she was the one being pulled.

Shin couldn’t make anything of it yet.

“It’s pointless to simply worry about it here. We’ll know if we go.”

“Indeed, that is the only way.”

Shin was deep in thought, his head cocked to one side, but Filma and Shibaid prodded him. Thinking about it wouldn’t lead to any answers.

“Right, we’ll just go and see what happens.”

Just like the day before, the group used the『Miracle Drug of Holy Skies』and entered the castle.

Using the map, they proceeded quickly up to a certain point: then Shin and Schnee split up to explore and fill the remaining blank portions of the map, all the while maintaining communication via Mind Chat.

During the exploration of the dungeon, Schnee was the first one to notice something unusual.

“There aren’t any Chimeras.”

“Right…we’re already pretty far into the dungeon, this doesn’t feel right.”

“I can’t find any miasma-infected monsters either. With this much miasma filling the dungeon, it’s  strange that the monsters are unaffected.”

The group was already past the midpoint of the dungeon, but had not yet encountered any monsters possessed or infected by miasma: Shin couldn’t rule it out as just their imagination anymore.

Except for the miasma hanging heavily throughout, the dungeon seemed absolutely normal.

“I guess this is different than all the dungeons we’ve explored before. Could that also be the reason why Schnee and Tiera feel something out of the ordinary?”

“It could be. Trypophobia’s bizarre display too could have been the product of something other than miasma.”

Even if affected by miasma, the 【Analyse】display had never looked bugged before.

Shin thought that the transformation from a game into reality might be a reason for the strange behavior.

Judging from the condition of the dungeon’s monsters however, there was a considerable chance that something other than miasma lay in wait.

“Did something like this happen before?”

“No, I cannot recall anything of the sort.”

Shibaid shook his head in response to Filma’s question.

Schnee, Tiera, and of course, Shin shook their heads as well.

“I thought something had happened while I was sleeping, but it looks like that’s not the case. Anyway, we can just go on and see, huh. It’s starting to feel like going to face a boss we’ve never fought before.”

“Yeah, now that you mention it, that’s it.”

Filma shrugged and Shin agreed with her assessment. The current situation wasn’t completely the same, but prior to facing a boss for the first time he would also think about how it would act or what type of enemy it would be. The only way to know was to fight.

Filma’s conclusion was not far from the truth.

“Let’s go, we have to find the route to the boss chamber today.”  

The party advanced deeper in the dungeon. Now well past the middle point, they descended to what they supposed was the lower area of the dungeon — if Shin’s memory was correct.  They could not detect any changes in the monsters they encountered though.

Just like the upper and middle areas, miasma leaked from the walls and floor.

Shin and Schnee led, followed by the rest of the party. Progress was time consuming, but they were not hindered by obstacles like the Trypophobia.

After descending the stairs to yet another floor, Shin’s group faced a large, 5 mels tall, 4 mels wide door, intricately adorned with gorgeous, pompous decorations.

“This is…ice?”

The door, probably leading to Ishkar’s throne room, was covered by transparent crystal. Shin touched it warily and felt a cool sensation.

“Should we try to melt it?”

“No, it already took plenty of time to arrive here. Let’s go inside tomorrow.”

Considering who they were going to face, Shin prioritized keeping everyone’s condition in top form.

The group teleported to the dungeon’s entrance with a crystal and rested in the magic-powered vessel. The next day, after making sure that no one was feeling unwell, they quickly navigated to the majestic door they had stopped at the day before.

 

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