The opponent was weakened. That behavior of raising screams and seeking help from the dead Arachne wasn’t an act to lure us into lowering our guards……is something I can’t say for sure, but judging from our exchange of words up until now, the possibility of that is low. Besides, even if it were a trap, if we let her go now, there most likely won’t be another chance after this.
The assassins, maybe because they had already given up, stopped moving about. In addition, with Lamia, who had dominated them, being in a visibly weakened state, they probably didn’t possess the loyalty to dare to fight against us. Domination through fear is overruled through the possibility of an even larger fear. That is something unchanging no matter where you go.
Raising a war cry, the Orc Leader swung down his mace. A *gokiri* sound was made, and one of Lamia’s arms twisted in an unpleasant direction.
Raising a scream, Lamia performed a desperate counterattack.
「Damn you, so you bastards are telling me to grovel to Humans! In that case, die, just die!」
Her coiled up tail was thrust out like a spear, and pierced through the Orc Leader’s side. The Orc Leader went into an even bigger frenzy and recklessly swung his mace at her, but having increased the distance through her tail, that blow only hit her trunk. It’s not like it didn’t have any effect, but an extreme effect like crushing an arm couldn’t be expected. As for Sara, I was having her chant spells consecutively, but it would take a bit more time before her next attack could be fired.
「It was said, wasn’t it. That I was the Dungeon Master. You are the one that let their guard down.」
In order to avert her caution, I called out to her and instigated her. I don’t know how much of an effect it would have, but it was better than doing nothing. After all, this is all that I can pretty much do in the middle of a battle.
Although all of the Orcs mobilized to strike at Lamia, it was pretty difficult for them to approach the frenzied Lamia. Since she was most likely not taking the consumption of stamina into account, she probably won’t maintain that frenzy for too long. ……At that moment, Lamia started to slowly retreat. She intended to escape. No, by some chance, she might not even be aware of the idea of escaping, and might simply be frightened. Right now, what surfaced on Lamia’s face was anger and pain, and then fear.
Considering our remaining fighting power and the distance between Lamia and the hole, preventing her escape would be difficult. In that case, we could only give her as much damage as we could before she falls.
「Sara, can you do it?」
I called out to her without turning my head. In place of a response, I heard the last portion of the spell aria.
Flames flew like an arrow, and hit Lamia’s trunk. At that instant, Lamia finally turned her back to us and commenced her escape. If we land the final blow now, we would probably be able to give her a large injury in her defenseless state. However, the risk of her falling into the hole was also high……
「Pursue her! Don’t let her get away!」
Putting a strong will into it, I gave the Orcs an order. The Skeletons threw themselves at Lamia without any sort of hesitation, and fell together with her. The Orcs hesitated a bit due to their own injuries and understanding the danger, but they couldn’t oppose my coercion. ……Actually, this was the first time I coerced them into doing something other than making them stop fighting. The Orcs each performed at least one attack on her in their pursuit, and stopped at the edge of the hole. However, there was only one of them that went over it.
The Orc Leader, while spilling a large amount of blood from his side, threw himself at Lamia, and after making a severe blow to Lamia’s back, he fell together with Lamia just like that.
「……It looks like Lamia succeeded in running away into the waterways just as predicted.」
Diana indifferently explained. The Assassin’s Guild survivors prostrated themselves around us and looked at us. After I fired the command word for the underground waterway mechanism using the voice transmitting magic tool, I finally turned around towards them.
「I will leave the full story for later. After we somehow deal with the Snake Princess that reigned above you all, I would like to once again talk with you all. ……I don’t really have any intentions of being hostile towards you all. If there is something that you would like to know while I am not here, please ask Chana. She consented to becoming my subordinate just yesterday.」
In Lamia’s burrow, a quasi-stairway for the sake of managers to enter was prepared. Going down the stairway, I surveyed the surroundings after having descended about five meters. As expected, there was a hidden door that connected to the underground waterways, and it had been opened. Close to the door, the body of the Orc Leader was fallen over……His neck was snapped from the impact of when he fell.
Sara muttered the former name of the man who was the Orc Leader.
「From the moment his side was pierced through, it might have been a wound that we probably couldn’t save him from. However, if he had stopped there, he might have still lived. The one that gave the order despite that was me……Do you resent me for it?」
The idea of looking over my shoulder and seeing the face of Sara who was following behind me scared me a bit. Just what kind of person that Legda of the Red Crows was, I only knew about that one side of him. After ending that Human life of his and turning him into a demon, I went even further and even ended his life as a demon.
Olivia had once said this.
「As a commander, there will occasionally be times where I must challenge things without fearing the consumption of soldiers.」
That is exactly true. And then, I even understood the reason why Olivia feared that.
「……What are you saying, that isn’t like you at all.」
Sara’s voice sounded confident, but it trembled a bit.
「That guy was a good-for-nothing, and everyone knew that he would someday die in a worthless way. Besides, the Red Crows were annihilated in the cave of that mining village. Even me, as a Human, I was killed by you. ……Concerning the result, although I was no longer Human, it’s a fact I was saved by you. Blaming you for that, is something I don’t want to believe. As for that good-for-nothing, surely, it was a blessed manner of death.」
Those words, all of them might not be her true feelings. Even so, it lightened my heart just a little.
「You’ve got me beat. As I thought, you guys are able to be more resolute than me.」
Turning around, I made a small smile.
Shiro, who had gone ahead and did reconnaissance of the underground waterways, returned, jumped at me, and made her report.
「It’s amazinggg! Just as Goshujin-sama said, she was at that place!」
Yosh, it went just as planned.
「Aah, thank you, Shiro. ……It’s because everyone shaved off Lamia’s judgment that it succeeded. Something like my strength, it’s nothing significant……I’m sure.」
Sara quietly told Shiro who was making a puzzled face.
「Legda died. Well, for that good-for-nothing, it was a blessed ending, wasn’t it.」
There was no mistake that Shiro held complex feelings towards Legda. Turning into a demon, both the things that she worried about and the things that she feared disappeared, but I don’t know what she felt at heart.
「……That, can’t be helped. If he died for Goshujin-sama’s sake, then surely Legda was also happy. I mean, if Shiro were to let Goshujin-sama die before she did……Then Shiro wouldn’t go anywhere else after all.」
You accepted that unexpectedly quickly, is what Sara replied with. ……That isn’t it.
Swallowing the words “that isn’t it”, I made a small smile. Sara. Shiro isn’t as strong as you are. There is no way that Shiro wouldn’t receive some kind of shock from hearing that Legda died. When the heavy warrior Legda, the leader of the Red Crows that raped Shiro when she was a Human……when she was the female bandit Charlotte and destroyed her personality, had been defeated by me and turned into the Orc Leader, certainly, the relationship between Shiro and Legda changed. Nonetheless, there was no way she would forget the past completely. Whether it was joy or sadness, there was no way she wouldn’t be feeling something. But even so, Shiro saying that 「it couldn’t be helped if it was for my sake」 despite that, it meant that she had a dependence on me.
The reason why I was able to make Sara work at Olivia’s place and why I didn’t let Shiro do it was precisely because of that. It is the same for Dahlia, but a greater part of Shiro’s personality was dependent on me. If I were to use an old-fashioned way of saying it, it probably wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that she 「sold her soul」 to me. Although I was able to forcibly dominate Sara, I was also able to make her do it freely. If she were to have contact with me be cut off and be left alone for a year, Sara would probably think about life on her own, and would be able to resume as an independant demon. This was probably the same for Diana and Chana. And although I didn’t turn her into a demon, Olivia and I are linked in a secret agreement as equal beings. Although we consider each other to be important existences, we recognize each other as individual beings. Astarte is trying to utilize me, and I am going along with that. This could also be called an agreement. Those girls, their lives might be thrown off kilter because of me, or they might bet their lives on me, but at worst, even if I were to disappear, they would be able to take the helm of their own lives. However, for Dahlia and Shiro, they would certainly not be able to do that. To the two of them, the existence known as me is a part of them……Or maybe, I take up a greater part of their existence. That’s why, for these two girls, if I’m gone, they most likely won’t be able to discover a reason to live.
Those girls have made my existence the highest position in their decision criteria, and they would neglect everything else. The reason why Shiro didn’t have any strong feelings in regards to Legda’s death is probably because I was interposed as the cause of it. Shiro feeling sad in regards to Legda’s death might mean that she would have to deny me, as well as her own existence. ……In regards to that, there is no way I could do anything about it. I couldn’t think of it as sad, nor could I regret it. For the sake of survival, I chose that of my own will. It’s just, the things that I’ve done are exactly that, the things that I’ve done. That alone, is something I must never forget, that is what I was thinking.
……That being said, there’s no point in worrying about it. Lightly shaking my head, I shook off the thoughts that followed me. After waiting for Diana and Astarte, who had finished the preparations, to come down, we continued into the underground waterways. It is said that the underground aqueducts, which had gathered enough water that it went above our knees, led to an underground reservoir that was built in order to prevent river overflow when a heavy rain comes falling. I wonder just how much skill and funds are needed to create this sort of thing. While having that sort of feeling, we headed towards the place where the trap was laid. From the surrounding passages, the sound of water splashing was being made even now.
……Aah, that’s right.
When I said the command word to the magic tool that transmits voices, the sounds of water that could be heard from passages here and there stopped. When we looked around the corner of a passage we were passing by, Skeletons that wore boots and had several boards and branches wrapped around their bodies were standing upright and on standby. Just as planned. This was a trick in order to not let Lamia escape.
「Hey, hey, Goshujin-samaaa, I was wondering about this when we were setting them up too but, these Skeletons, why did you make them wear something like bootsss?」
Shiro asked her question out loud. Did I not tell them the secret of the trick?
「These guys, they’re beaters. Everyone thought about how Lamia would escape into the waterways, and we were troubled over how we would block up her escape route, right?」
We were racking our brains just this afternoon.
「Although there was something that looked useful in a trap among the plants that Chana had, there was a need to lure her into a narrow passage in order to use it. However, after escaping into the waterways from the Guild, there are several possible division points in the waterways, and there is no telling which way she would go. There weren’t enough plants to place traps in all of the waterways. How would we lure her into a decided route, how would we close up the path. And what should be done so that she wouldn’t notice that there is a trap, that is what we thought about.」
I didn’t know if Lamia would be able to hear sounds underwater. But, at the very least, I understood that she was able to understand others while on the ground from what I heard from Diana, and I thought that she would either be able to recognize sounds and vibrations while moving underwater, or that she would occasionally come out from the water to check the surroundings. We were lacking in numbers. Therefore, we couldn’t fill up the waterways with troops.
It might have been possible to temporarily block up the waterways with walls or something. However, if we did that, the flow of the water would stop, and it would instead create the risk of her noticing the abnormal event. And so, I made the Skeletons wear long boots, bundled branches and boards on them, made them stamp about in the water, and had them hit the water with the boards……In other words, I had them make a disturbance with sound. To be honest, it wasn’t a very detailed strategy. If the opponent was calm and attentively listened to the sounds again, it would probably be exposed in no time that these were artificial sounds.
I honestly didn’t know how deep of a cooperative relationship the Assassin’s Guild and the Lanvelt House had. From what I heard from Diana, the house had an impression of being a tall talking patron that gave funding support, but she wasn’t able to confirm how the upper echelon were connected to them. If by some chance she is able to take refuge in the Lanvelt House, we would probably be attacked by soldiers and wouldn’t stand a chance. That is why we snatched calmness away from our opponent. Wounding her enough that she couldn’t remain calm, her being impatient was an essential condition for this time’s surprise attack. As for why, the trap that was set up in the final passage is……
Stopping at the passage corner, I checked for sounds. There weren’t any large sounds being made. At times, a muffled voice that indistinctly sounded like either crying or screams could be heard. It would seem that Lamia was securely caught in the trap.
Going past the corner, I inquired about the situation. Right in the middle of the passage, in a place that looked like it was in midair, Lamia was fixated and had her movements restricted. Practically, there was no way she was in midair. There is a proper cause and trick to this.
「These are……Gelatinous Cubes?」
Sara raised an astonished sounding voice. That’s right, this was one of the more eccentric ones among the hyphae variety that Chana was raising. These guys were completely stuffed inside of that transparent glass container. A Gelatinous Cube is a monster that possessed an eccentric property even among the Slime species……Or rather, it’s a plant. It often settled down in stone passages like that of dungeons, and would fill up the passage with itself. Because of its high transparency, its existence is hard to notice to begin with, then it would paralyze anyone that carelessly steps into it, and would slowly digest them. These guys were that sort of living trap.
Of course, there was no way an amount large enough to encompass Lamia entirely was stored away. I was able to make them grow rapidly with my magical power, but even with that, there was a limit. In this passage, Gelatin Cubes were planted vertically and horizontally, and then, so as to fill up the entire passage, some other ones were installed in several places to create as minute a grid shape as possible. Expecting that Lamia would be plunging in here, although the density became a bit thin, I created a net with Gelatin Cubes that went for a length of about three meters. It seems that she plunged in more violently than I expected, as her head reached a wall of a Gelatin Cube with a thickness of about 5 centimeters that was at the far back of the trap. Thanks to that, her whole body was completely rolled up in the net, and it looked like she was floating in midair.
When it turned out like this, Lamia, who was unable to prop herself on something, would probably be unable to make her escape. ……It would seem that, we obtained victory for the time being.
Taking a detour, we went around to where Lamia’s head was. Taking this many injuries, Lamia was still in a state far from being called fatally wounded. Most likely, if her broken arm were to recover, she would probably be able to fight.
「It hurts……It really hurts……Kagome, help……Save me……」
However, at this point in time, there was one fact that I realized. Lamia’s mind was completely broken, and she continued saying words that sought help from Arachne who was no longer in this world. Crying her eyes out, and being so afraid that she paid no attention to her body nor the world, Lamia was clearly very young when compared to Arachne. The Snake Princess, was still just a child.