Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama
There were five monsters in total, all of them in cages.
I can clean this mess up easily.
「Hold on, human. Learning more about Warwick takes priority.」
「You can go ahead.」
「Hmph. Do what you like. Let’s go look for Warwick, Candice.」
「We’ll split up」, said Dee. 「I’ll help Roland-sama, and you can search for clues on your own.」
「You perverted vampire…!」
『If only I was there in person…』
Dee summoned her blood-sucking spear.
「Let’s do this, Dee.」
We divided the monsters between us.
First to go was a diseased-looking lion-like monster that had curled up into a ball. Channeling ‘Magic Regus’, I ended its suffering with a single blow and did the same for another sleeping monster that vaguely resembled a frog.
「Ufufu. Killing defenceless creatures without mercy… it feels great for some reason ♪」
With a whoosh, she whirled her spear around and stabbed in the direction of another cage. The monster inside let out a blood-curdling shriek, then died.
「Any clues, Rodje Sandsong?」
「I’m looking, I’m looking! Don’t talk to me or I’ll get distracted!」
Leaving us to clean up the cages, the elf poked around the rest of the room. She quickly spotted a few desks arranged end-to-end, on which potion-like concoctions were held in glassware of various designs.
『Well, if we haven’t stumbled right into Warwick’s lab.』
「How can you tell, Lylael-sama?」
『If you look at the documents on that table, they’re written in the same script as the inscription on my collar.』
『Can you grab those documents? I want to take a look later.』
Now that the caged creatures were dead, I could examine them at leisure. It turned out that not only did they have those curious letters inscribed on their bodies, but they were also collared. This also applied to the monsters that we had spotted in the woods.
「Over here too, Roland-sama. More collars and cryptic text.」
I bust the cage open, but remembered something as I was about to take a closer look at the collar.
Where did the Spiky Saurian go?
We heard a monster shrieking behind us as if it was sounding an alarm. Could it be?
『Rodje! There’s someone or something near you, and their magicka is exponentiating! Run! Now!』
True to Lyla’s warning, an overwhelming magical force ballooned next to the elf. It had the Spiky Saurian’s magical signature, but was several orders of magnitude stronger than what we had seen earlier. The area lit up brilliantly, threatening to blow Rodje away.
「Waaaaah!?」, she screamed. 「Gueh!」
Caught off guard, she was launched off her feet and into the wall. She slid down and landed on all fours, her mouth stuck to the wall like a pleco in an aquarium.
She’ll be fine, I thought, watching the ‘Shadow’ run over to the crash site. It tapped Rodje’s butt, which was sticking out, but the elf appeared to be still conscious.
The wind abated and the light dimmed to reveal a massive dragon at the back.
Its tail was covered in human-sized spikes. Roaring loudly, it thumped it on the ground, causing a tremor comparable to a real earthquake. Its shape was roughly unchanged from its previous form, but its size was a different story. It’s plausible that the Armored Tortoise had also been normal-sized before undergoing gigantification, I thought.
「Millions of years of evolution in the blink of an eye.」
So it increases in size when in combat mode? Hmm.
The four legs supporting its weight resembled miniature baobab tree trunks. It had small wings on its back, but I doubted that they were anything more than decorative. If it could fly, it probably levitated with some sort of magic.
Its large eyeballs with disproportionately tiny irises swivelled around to stare at us.
「…Here it comes.」
「Just our luck」, said Dee. 「A dragon, of all things.」
The dragon lifted its front legs and stomped downwards. Dee and I dodged in different directions. When its legs landed, the ground shook again with a deafening rumble and it was temporarily unable to move.
It was still able to swing its tail around, however, and it did just that. It’s really a shame that despite all its power, its attacks were still too slow.
「An attack that can’t land is meaningless.」
I dodged the attack easily, while Dee stabbed at its front leg with her trusty spear.
Her not-so-trusty spear was unable to penetrate the dragon’s skin and broke in two instead.
「Oh, for goodness’ sake…」
Tossing it aside, she began to summon another spear. If it can stop Dee’s spear, then it must be really tough, I thought. My ‘Magic Regus’ probably won’t go deep enough either. Our attacks must seem like ant bites to this freak of nature.
But due to the confines of this underground cavern, its mobility suffers too…
「I’ll bait it, Roland-sama!」, said Dee, trying to enter the Spiky Sauropod’s field of vision.
[T/N Note: He now refers to the monster as a 棘竜 (toge-ryuu), a combination of 棘 (toge), meaning ‘spikes’, and 竜 (ryuu), meaning ‘dragon’.]
She succeeded, and it attacked by coordinating its fangs, claws and tail. As it moved, I was able to spot the faint glow of the incantation on its underbelly.
I snuck up to the dragon silently so Dee could continue acting as a decoy. Activating ‘Faint Shadow’, I snuck even closer, so close that I was right under it. The numerous spikes on its back are no doubt there to fend off attackers, so it’s natural that it can block things like bloodsucking spears and ‘Magic Regus’.
…But what about the belly, where there are no spikes?
The incantation hovered below the layers of scales that covered the dragon’s belly.
「How about this?」, I said calmly, activating ‘Magic Regus’ once again.
I stabbed upwards with my left arm, and it went all the way through the comparatively brittle scales.
I did it again. And again. And again, until the light faded from the incantation.
With another flash of blinding light, the dragon shrunk and continued shrinking until it had returned to its original size. It was clear that the incantation served to trigger the gigantification process.
『Hey, look at the collars on those caged animals! They’re almost exactly like mine!』
I raised my hand to indicate to the waving ‘Shadow’ that I understood. The collars must have been attached to prevent the inflation incantations from going rogue while the creatures were in their cages.
『But they’re all broken…』
I peeked into the cage that Lyla’s ‘Shadow’ was in and saw it for myself.
「Not even an idiot would attach a faulty collar like that. Maybe the incantation makes it self-destruct upon its wearer’s death.」
Dee had despawned her bloodsucking spear by then.
「That’s the most likely explanation」, she agreed.
The Spiky Saurian had disappeared somewhere when we started killing the other monsters. That must have been when it transformed into the Spiky Sauropod.
「Just what could Warwick be planning, doing experiments in a place like this?」, wondered Dee.
It was a rhetorical question, but she nevertheless received a reply.
「A pure-blood lover serving the Demon King has nothing to learn from me」, said the pale man who had come from another passage.