Chapter 20: Let’s Step into the Dungeon of Instant Death, Part 6[Ugh, I swear to God, this Dungeon is so annoying!] [Personally I find it to be more on the fun side.]
Zana voiced her displeasure, but Aur disagreed with her with a slight smile on his face.
What was so fun about a place where most of their magic was practically useless and the passageways were so narrow that only one of them could fight at any given moment? Not to mention that the guards just threw themselves at them without any fear of death, continuing their battle even when their heads were being crushed and hearts destroyed.
The ones who were especially poorly attuned to such a place where Hoseli and Mari. The first one was skilled in finishing enemies off as fast as possible by striking their vital spots while the second one fought mainly using Laws and her magic-imbued swords. The only saving grace here was the fact that she could still use her swords’ abilities because they were imbued to the weapons themselves, but without the magic to operate all four of them at once her effective fighting power was cut by more than fifty percent.
As for the pure magicians like Aur or Eldav, they were barely able to do anything. Zana was trying to slow anyone who attacked them as much as possible, but she already had her hands full with maintaining the ice that made Aur’s Dungeon.
Their only reliable methods of attack were Rames’ flame magic and Aur’s call for Hoderi from inside the leather bag. Initially Zana thought that it would be better to call Hoderi himself, but then she realized that his longsword would also be ill-suited for fighting in such narrow spaces and that’s why Aur opted for summoning just the sword. She understood that, but it was still creepy to see a bandaged upper half of Hoderi’s body pop out of the small leather bag from time to time just so he could swing his weapon around or throw it at the enemies. This, however, was the best way to ensure that their current Dungeon-securing formation of Hoseli, Zana, Eldav and Aur won’t be broken. It was absolutely necessary for Zana to be the second in line after the vanguard to ensure that even with reduced effectiveness of magic she’ll still be able to expand her ice further.[Okay, I know that it is impossible for my brother to cut any of us by mistake, but I have to admit that all that time he spend in the medical ward must have rubbed off on him the wrong way.]
Immediately after Hoseli said that, her brother’s blade passed right next to her neck, to the point where she could clearly feel the steel’s coldness against her skin. If she herself was saying that, then his skills really must have declined, Zana thought.
[What is the principle for that technique of yours anyway? Even if it looks like your blade is going to cut through us, it always misses us by a hair’s width. I don’t mean to doubt your skills, but not knowing exactly how it works is more than a little scary to be honest.] [The future itself needs to be split in two.] [And how does that even work.] [It’s going to be a little hard to explain, but I shall do my best. You see….]
They were going around the pyramid for a few hours now, until they reached a crossroad where the path ahead was blocked off by a giant stone block.[How do we get past it?]
Aur asked Rames when their march came to a halt.[The path ahead will unlock when the devices on the left and right passage will be pressed at the same time.] [Really? Was such a device here last time I was here?]
The passage itself looked kinda familiar, but the last time Mari was here was many months ago, so she was unable to say for sure.[Last time you were her it was already opened when I was chasing after you, but now since I am also treated like an intruder, the path won’t open even for me. That’s why we’ll have to open it manually. [I see.]
Aur thinks for a while and then selects the people who will go for the other devices.[Zana, Eldav and Hoseli, the three of you will go to the path on the left and we will go for the right device. We will coordinate our timing through the curse since it doesn’t seem to be affected by this place.] [Understood!]
Eldav was the only one to express her agreement. Zana and Hoseli looked at Aur disapprovingly.[Zana, only you and I and Mari can manipulate the ice to create a Dungeon. Only I and Eldav can maintain it. Only Hoseli and Mari can be our vanguard when it comes to combat, so I have to stay with Rames. Or perhaps you want to propose some other way for us to divide?] [Okay, all right, I understand.]
Zana sighed, took Hoseli’s arm and made her way into the left passage.[Lord Aur, please take care.]
Hoseli looked back and said that to Aur before they disappeared into the left passage.[Now, shall we go as well?]
However, there was no enemies on the path they were walking, but Rames just continued forward without stopping. Aur and Mari exchanged glances and followed after him.[What is the meaning of this device if there are no soldiers to protect it?]
On the way, Aur asked Rames about that.[What do you mean?] [This trap is really effective for dividing the intruders to dwindle their effective strength. But it’s meaningless if there are no troops to attack the potential intruders.] Rames thinks for a while and answers. [Intruders don’t know such a mechanism exists in the first place. It is a device that is designed sorely not to allow the intruders to go further into the pyramid.] [Do you know its exact place?]
Aur continued to shower Rames with further questions.
Rames looked back at Aur and grinned unpleasantly.[Yes, every Dungeon can be said to contain the will of the one who designed it, be it to harm the enemies or protect your allies. It is the most intimate form of passing the ancestor’s thoughts and knowledge to future generations. Not that the vile Demon Lord could ever comprehend such familial relations.]
Indeed, Aur was unable to understand why anyone would abandon progress in creating one’s Dungeon in favor of stubbornly keeping it in the past.[Who were your ancestors, ra-chan? They must have been pretty amazing if they were the ones who build this pyramid in the first place.] [They were all kings, and they were said to be rulers of this earth.]
Rames answers Mari’s simple question.[But they were ultimately unable to claim the ends of the earth for themselves.] [Fumufumu.] Mari thought that he’s being surprisingly humble. As for Aur, Mari did not know what was going on in his head, but world conquest was certainly not entirely out of the question. After all, they were literally on their way to kick a God’s butt now. Also…
… If someone dares to hurt anyone who Aur considers to be his family, he will never forgive them.[This is it, this wall over here.]
After a while, Rames points at a mural at the corridor’s dead end.[There should be four buttons there. We need to press the one with the sun’s emblem on it.]
Exactly as he said, four buttons were incorporated into the mural. They were the buttons with eyes, the sun, the beetle and the moon engraved on them.[Zana, are you in position?] [Yes. We’re ready whenever you are.]
Aur manipulates Zana through the curse, speaks through her mouth, and pushes the sun button.
…As soon as he did that the wall emerged behind him and he heard Mari’s scream.[Aur!] [Oops. Don’t move an inch, Marie-chan. Unless you want to be turned into charcoal.]
Rames warns Mari who drew her sword to save Aur who was trapped and creates a fireball in the palm of his hand.[Ra-chan, why …] [Why, you ask? Are you serious, or are you really that dumb? Did you honestly thought that after all I’ve been through I’m just going to stay silent!?]
Rames yelled. His face got distorted with anger and he bared his fangs like a furious beast.[Now, Demon Lord. Submit to me and swear that you will become my servant and give to me everything that you possess!] [What if I refuse?]
Aur answers from behind the wall.[I’ll burn you alive in there.]
Rames raised his flames and said hatefully.[Now, Mari-chan. Put a curse like that on Aur. A curse of that will force him to be loyal to the oath he’s going to swear to me.] [But I can’t use magic here …] [Now now, magic is such a needlessly big word, don’t you think? It’s going to be something more fundamental than that. A pledge. Yes, that should be enough.]
Mari was at a total loss. She couldn’t believe something like that was really happening.[… I understand. I swear I will give you everything that I have.]
That also includes the sacred treasures in his possession.
Rames remembers that the blessing of the Goddess of Fortune was not removed from the leather bag. If he gets his hands on it, he will literally become the ruler of all things if he will control Aur and have the ability to take things out across time and space. At least that’s what he thought.[… All right.] [Sweet. By the way, let’s call me the noble Rames from now on.] [… I understand. Oh Noble Rames.]
Rames laughs at Aur who hangs his head.[Finished placing the curse?] [Yes, I have casted it.]
Mari confirmed with a pained expression.[All right. I’ll set him free now, but be careful Mari-chan. If you try to do anything funny, I’ll burn you to a crisp immediately.]
While flickering the flame in his hand, Rames melted only a part of the ice covering the wall and pressed the switch hidden there. A wall roared and revealed Aur at the other side.[Your holy treasure.]
As soon as the wall opened, Aur threw the thing that was in his hand.[What!?]
Rames clumsily caught the things with both his hands. It was a bowl-like object that radiated a white light.[What is this …?!]
Mari fell back while Aur pressed the button on the wall again and quickly left as well.[What did you do?!] [Exactly what you wanted me to do, stupid and noble Rames.]
Behind the closed wall, Aur said in an ironic tone.[The vessel that the saint used to eat her meals in. It’s a holy treasure for short. I gave you everything you had in my hands.]
The leather bag was dropped at his feet. When he pledged, he had only Melizand’s used bowl in his hands.[But you vowed to obey me!] [I didn’t swear on that exact part.]
Rames was stunned by Aur who just flexed on him.[It’s reckless for an amateur like you to be fighting Aur with contracts, Ra-chan.]
Mari called out to him with a mixture of ridicule and sympathy.
The demons always look for loopholes in the contracts in order not to be fully bound to humans.
And as the Demon Lord, Aur was the greatest of them all in that regard.