58: Celica's contribution and Lapisia Punch! (Dungeon 3rd to 7th floor)


It became morning and we continued the capturing of the dungeon.

Huge ants were inhabiting the third floor of the dungeon.
They were living in symbiosis with caterpillars. It was a cycle in which the caterpillars ate the remains of the ants and the ants got nectar from the caterpillars.
Both the ants and caterpillars were weak and we easily broke through. There weren't any treasure chests to speak of.
We got a [Material: Vitality Core Stone] from the stomach of the killed queen ant.


The fourth floor was a graveyard.
Skeletons and apparitions showed up. They were weak.
We easily broke through. We got [Material: Bones of Ancient Creature].
Tilt's "Flame Fist" was very useful.


The fifth floor was a dungeon filled with water.
All the passages that were leading out of the room with the stairs were submerged in water, forming deep waterways with fishes that looked like piranhas swimming around.
The water was streaming inside the canals.

Stepping stones were scattered about.
Celica wrinkles her well-shaped eyebrows.
"It seems dangerous if you miss your footing"
"And even though we have to step on the stones, some of them have traps"
"I'll swim... shall I go first?"
Minya shows her black bikini top by slightly shifting her white robe.

The faces of the piranha-like fishes are about as large as human ones and they are jumping up and down at the water surface.
"That's not good. Those fishes are very fast. It's too dangerous."


Dark speaks.
"Shall I boil them with my magic?"
"It'll be difficult afterwards. It's dangerous if we fall... but the idea itself isn't bad. We can use something else"
"Wh, what is it, Keika-sama?"

I looked at Celica and smiled.
"Isn't this the turn for the Frozen Rapier?"
"Ah! I see! As expected of you, Keika-sama. I'll give it a try."

She unsheathed the rapier with a sound you'd expect coming from a string instrument.
She dips the tip of the sword that was formed of white frost into the water.


Dark speaks.
"Pour magic power into the handle"
"--*ya!*"
A small yell gushes out of Celica's red lips.
The thin blade glows white.

*bakibakibaki!*
Accompanied by a fierce sound, the water in the canal froze.
The fishes in the water froze as well.


Leo nodded in admiration.
"Such a power... as expected of the work of a master craftsman. It's wonderful"
"Ugh~, amazing! Now I want it after all!"
"Tilt, the probability that you'd fail is 99%. Celica can use it precisely because it's her. Don't be mistaken here."
"Meh, I already knew that!"

"Now we can walk without having to worry about the traps or the fishes. Well done, Celica"
"Thank you, Keika-sama"
Celica sheathes the sword while she looks slightly embarrassed with her cheeks blushing red from being praised.


"Well then, let's go. Don't step on the stones, there are traps."
"""Yes"""

We walk over the ice. It's pleasant without any enemies around.

There was a big room along the way.
Originally that room was connected to the passage through the submerged water, but now the floor was frozen white.
And in the center of the room stood a huge treasure chest that was about 4.5 meters wide and 1.5 meters deep.

"What's this, this is amazing! Is it filled with treasures!?"
Tilt's eyes sparkled as he ran towards the treasure chest.


Minya, who follows after him, mutters.
"--it's dangerous"
However, Tilt, who had his eyes stolen by the treasure chest couldn't hear her.
As soon as he touched the treasure chest, an electric current ran through him with a *buzz buzz*.
"*gya!*"
He fell and writhed about.

Minya who approached him looked down at him with expressionless eyes.
"--Idiot"
"*Kuu...!* Shut up!"

"Tilt!"
Dark's long coat was waving as he quickly approached.
Then, he hit Tilt's head without holding back.
"--*kya!* What are you doing!"

Dark pushes up his glasses and makes them sparkle from anger.
"Tilt, ...now, do you know what you just did?"
"I only tried to open it a little--"
"If this room was still soaked, we all would've died from the electric current"
"Ah..."

Tilt was dumbfounded.
Lapisia approached with small steps and applied her hands.
"Cuuuuure"
Her bright voice seemed out-of-place.
Tilt recovered in an instant. However, his mouth remained half opened and he didn't seem to notice it in his state.

Then Tilt suddenly knelt down in Seiza on the floor.
"Everyone, I'm sorry!"
"This was really dangerous just now, so I'll apologize as well."
Dark lowered his head. His long hair was hanging down.


I urged them to stand.
"It's okay, please raise your heads. If it would've been really dangerous, either I or Minya would have stopped him. We had more than enough leeway. Now it should have become a good lesson to him."
"You already knew that, huh. As expected. Even so, we're really sorry."
Even Leo lowered his head.
--It's wonderful how they are earnestly apologizing for their companion.

I smiled and clapped my hands to change the mood.
"Well, he made a mistake and apologized, it should be over with that! --Then, let's open the treasure chest. This time Leo's party has the priority."
"As expected of you, Nii-chan! I'll be careful from now on!"
"Thank you very much, Keika-san"


We approach the treasure chest.
Minya stands up after she had already crouched down and deactivated the trap.
"Lock, opened"
"Very well. ...Now then"

The heavy lid opened under the echo of a squeaking sound.
Tilt excitedly looked inside.

However, once it was fully opened, his eyes looked dead.


...Inside was a boat large enough for about ten people-- it was a gondola.
The hull was magnificently decorated. When I looked at it with "Truth Sight", I saw that it had an effect attached to it that made it unable to topple over.

"... I see. The proper way to clear this floor should have been to ride this."
"I guess we can't take this with us"
Leo smiled bitterly as he brushed up his blue hair.

Tilt sinks down on the floor.
"Somehow, now I'm really disappointed"
"You reap what you sow."

I nodded.
"In other words, it seems that the dangerous floors have means to clear them prepared. The proper way to clear the floor with the Frozen Rapier probably would've been to lower the temperature of the passage to dull the snake's movement."
"I see. Normally, it can't be defeated after all"


Lapisia came beside me with small steps while holding the egg.
She looks at me with her golden eyes in expectation.
"Ah, that. Thank you for healing Tilt."
"Yup! Work harder!"
When I stroke her head, she pleasantly turns her head. Her twin tails are swaying.

"Ah, sorry. Thank you for healing me."
Tilt thanked her as he stood up.
"Yup! Heal more!"
Lapisia sweetly smiled.
She seems to be happy to heal people. It's a good thing.

"Then, shall we clear this before the ice melts?"
"""Yes"""


To everyone's voices, we went back into the passage.
Even the boss-like demon seemed to be frozen and we could safely move ahead.

Then we arrived at the stairs and went up to the next floor.


Plants grew on the sixth floor of the dungeon.
The walls and ceiling were covered with twigs of plants and climbing plants.
At first I taught the others about the attacking flowers and plants but before long we simply eradicated them before I came to that.
We got our hands on a heap of medicinal herbs and detoxifying weeds and we also got some raw materials for holy water called "Holy Healing Grass".
We split them equally with Leo's party.


The seventh floor was a dungeon with armored knights.
When we left the room with the stairs, there was a large passage with a red carpet.
The passage is seven meters wide and the ceiling is high as well.
Knights of whole body armor are lined up on one side in regular intervals. The armors are hollow inside.

Additionally, barriers that separated the knights from each other were set up.
"These barriers are linked with the knights. It looks like we have to defeat them before we can advance further."
We approached the barrier with the foremost knight.
What's happening?

The knight moved and came closer step by step. When he arrived in the middle of the passage, he draws his sword and holds it in front of his face.
He stayed in that pose on the other side of the barrier.


Celica speaks.
"This is, the gesture a knight makes when he requests a one-to-one duel."
"I see. --So this means that we can't go forward unless we win against them in duels."

I looked at the knight with "Truth Sight"
--------------------
[Status]
Name: Soul Armor
Job: Knight
Attributes: "Wind"

Attack strength: 350
Defense strength: 500
Vitality: 2
Mental strength: 400

[Skills]
Slash: A horizontal slash
Double Stings: Two stabbing attacks
Ray Slash: Horizontal line attack.
--------------------

"It looks like those armors contain the souls of knights. They use knight skills."
"--They seem to be quite formidable in one-to-one fights."
Leo had a stern look on his face as he said this.

I tilt my head.
"They only have a vitality of two, but..."
"Might they be weak?"
To Celica 's question, I carefully looked at the armor.
There are small lights at the head and the chest. According to their status, they are 'Soul Core Stones'.

"I see. It looks like you have to destroy the 'Soul Core Stones' that are embedded in the armor. They are at the head and the chest. -- Celica, please show us how a proper knight responds to the request."
"Understood, Keika-sama"

Celica gallantly swings her blond hair and steps forward.
She unsheathes the rapier and holds it with both hands in front of her face.
It's a refined beauty you'd find in a picture.

The barrier reshapes and confines Celica and the armored knight.


Each of them are taking a stance-- then the knight moves.
He slashes diagonally from above.

Celica lightly thrusts the rapier with an enormous speed.
The point of the sword is blurred. She executes a double thrust.

The armored knight receives one of the thrusts with his sword but the other one pierces his shoulder.
Immediately, ice is spreading from the pierced location.
The knight's movements only stopped for two or three seconds.

But in a battle, two or three seconds of paralysis mean death.


"Ha!"
Celica steps in with a yell and unleashes a pair of thrusts.
She simultaneously penetrates the 'Soul Core Stones' at the knight's chest and head.

While the armor intensely shook, it held the sword in front of its face with both hands-- and collapsed.
Celica responded with the same gesture and bowed to the armor.
"It was a good duel."
Together with her words of sympathy, the barrier was lifted with a *buunn*.


"Just a s expected of Celica. She safely won. And the effect of the Frozen Rapier is truly terrifying."
"She really is strong. Even I might lose if we fought."
Leo spoke in admiration.

Celica bows and smiles.
"Keika-sama, Leo-san. Thank you very much for your words of praise. Please let me fight a little more to practice as a knight."
"Sure. I'll leave it to you"


Then she won five times in a row.
The opponents gradually grew stronger and the skills they used also increased, but Celica elegantly defeated them under the waving of her red skirt.

--Even so.
I noticed something strange.
"...Isn't the passage getting longer?
"Eh, really?"
"...The probability that it is getting longer is 99%"

At first we could see seven knights in the passage, but even though we advanced about 50 meters after defeating five of them, we couldn't see the end.
The armored knights are lined up in intervals of ten meters. There are six.


"There might be another condition... 7 knights... can it be"
"Did you notice something, Keika-sama?"
"It might be that each one of us has to beat one."
"That's certainly a possibility."

"Well, we won't know unless we try"
Tilt clutches his fists and steps forward.

"No, wait. Next is Dark."
"Why?"
"The opponents are getting stronger the further we advance. With that assumption in mind, those with close-quarter attacks should go last."

Dark pushes up his glasses and holds his book.
"I see. That makes sense. If a high level knight makes a head start, there is a possibility that my invocation might not make it in time"


Dark steps forward in front of the armored knight and holds his book with both hands.
The barrier reshapes and the duel starts.

Before the armored knight moved, Dark straightened up his back and opened his book.
"Aria magic circle activate... 3 6 15-- 'Dark explode'!"

*zuzunn!*
A pitch black darkness rose like a flame from below the knight's feet.
The armor corroded the moment it was touched by the flame.

*gigii!*... The armor collapses with a dull sound.

When Dark closed his book and put it in front of his face with both hands, the barrier disappeared and we could advance.


"There are five remaining. So it was like that after all-- I guess you should go next, Lapisia"
"Understood!"
"Give me the egg. You know what to do?"
"I'm fine!"

Lapisia gives me the egg and walks forward with small steps.
She clumsily clutches her fists and holds them in front of her face.
It's feels like a child who imitates an adult.


Traces of worry are written on Leo's face.
"Will she be okay?"
"Isn't it impossible for this small girl-- shouldn't we find a better way?"

"No, it's okay. She's the strongest among the people here directly after me."
"This is... she is stronger than Tilt and even I...? No matter who I look at it, the probability for that is 0%--"
"Well, it doesn't matter whether you believe it or not-- Lapisia, give your best. Break the glowing stones on the armor!"
When I called into the barrier, Lapisia nodded with a smiling face.
"Yup, understood!"


Then the battle starts.

Lapisia stretches out her hands and dashes forward. Her blue twin tails are fluttering behind her.
She only approached casually, but the speed was abnormal.
The knight can't keep up with her.

"*Eh!*"
She swung her small fists and punched the armor. Just the way you'd expect of a simple-minded child.
The armor is blown off with a roaring sound of *dogoo!*.

*sudooonn!*

It crashed into the wall behind.
The armor was completely crushed flat.

Lapisia takes a small step back and bows while putting her hands together.

The barrier disappears with a *buun*, leaving only four remaining.


Lapisia runs up to me.
"Keika! Won!"
"Well done, Lapisia~"
I stroked her head after I passed the egg to her and she smiled with her whole face in delight.

Leo marvels with his eyes open from amazement.
"Hey Dark, what was that? What kind of magic...?"
"... With a probability of 99%, it was a purely physical attack. The probability that she isn't human is also at 99%"
"Why do I even try to defeat the Demon Lord..."
Tilt was dumbfounded with his mouth wide open when he spoke.

All I could do was to smile bitterly to the exposed secret.
Celica beside me had a troubled look on her face.
"Well, don't mind it, because Lapisia is exceptional in her own league. --Then, the next one should go quickly"
""Yes""


We also won the remaining fights with a surplus.
Tilt punches the armor with his "Iron Fist".
Minya danced lightly and cut the stones with her kitchen knives.
Leo breaks the stones with a wonderful sword fighting skill.
I easily chopped them along with the armor.


Then we arrived at the end of the passage.
There is a heavy double door.

Minya investigated it before she spoke.
"There are no traps and no locks"
"Is that so... then let's enter"

Even though we knew that it should be safe, we stayed on guard when we went inside.