Section 7: Search Resumed, To the Depths
The next morning. It was just before the rest of the city would be rising from their beds.
I once again stepped into the castle’s basement.
Stone floors and walls. The ceiling was high and wide, giving me almost no sense of claustrophobia at all. I once again took another look around, but just like before, it was a beautiful room that wouldn’t make you feel that it had been around for a thousand years. It’s weird that no moss is growing down here.
It was colder down this far. Every breath I took came out a little white however I learned from my previous experience and took appropriate measures to combat the cold.
I am wearing an extra layer compared to before, and this time, I’m equipped with the strongest armor I own: Sarah’s handmade wool panties.
It would be no exaggeration to say that the current Iris-san has become an iron fortress that boasts an unrivaled strength against the cold.
[Saluena]: “Carol and Toslin will take the front. Ashel and Litzreich will be next. Finally Rosa and I will pull up the rear while protecting Iris.”
[Carol]: “Ready and roger~”
[Toslin]: “It’s almost the same formation we used last time. Oh~, I hope some monsters pop out soon enough. I’ve been itching to try out this sword since I got it back yesterday.”
[Lapris]: “Uwa, a fitting remark from a meathead elf.”
[Toslin]: “I could always test it out on you instead.”
Toslin was now giddily holding her favorite sword after Litzreich had fixed it. I got a glimpse of it yesterday, but getting a second look at it now, the blade was so beautifully pieced back together after being broken in two that you couldn’t even tell where it had cracked. A jewel had been fitted into the handle’s pommel which Litzreich claimed was the cornerstone of her remodeling efforts. She refused to tell me what it was used for though.
[Ashel]: “I know it is my first time teaming up with everyone however I will do my best not to slow you down, so thank you for your patience.”
Ashel sounded a bit nervous as she spoke.
She was wearing a full breast plate like the one Rose-san is wearing over her normal men’s clothing. She also had two slender swords hanging from her waist. One on each side.
[Litzreich]: “I fought together with everyone several times before we reached the capital.”
Litzreich was no different from the usual. If a battle ever ensues, she will end up crushing the enemy with her magic shell while still looking like a prim, young lady.
[Lapris]: “You look like a kid who left for a picnic and accidentally got lost in a dungeon.”
Lapris was hanging on top of Goldmund’s head. This was to keep her in a high place for maximum use of her body’s natural illumination.
Goldmund’s back is loaded up with enough food and water for seven people as well as different tools needed for exploration. It was an amount of equipment that would crush me into paste. However even with all that weight, Goldmund moved with a light gait.
Walking next to him was Plushie Unicorn.
If Lapris’s light was supposed to illuminate overhead, Plushie Unicorn’s light was meant to illuminate our feet.
Since we are able to move without needing any torches or lanterns, the amount of luggage we needed to bring was reduced by that much. And most importantly, this meant Carol’s nose wouldn’t be inhibited by the use of any oil.
And pulling up the rear was Rose-san and Saluena who were walking side by side.
It felt like there was an amaaaaaaaaaaaazingly heavy air hanging between them, but that was definitely just my imagination. So I kept proceeding forward without worrying about it.
[Carol]: “……huh? Hold on.”
Had only five minutes passed since we walked through the entrance? Carol raised her hand from her position at the front and brought the rest of us to a stop.
[Carol]: “Phoeniko. Can you run ahead and light up the hallway for a bit?”
Phoeniko, Phoenix in her tiny bird-like form, was circling over our heads, and after receiving Carol’s orders, she gave a few chirps before flying on ahead.
[Carol]: “Hey Rose. The last time we came through, did the road turn to the right first?”
[Rose]: “Hmm, yes. It does.”
Rose-san nodded after double checking our map.
[Iris]: “…….huh? But there wasn’t anywhere for us to turn right before was there?”
Phoeniko melted away the darkness as she continued to press forward, and our field of vision expanded.
[Carol]: “Hmm~? Weird. I don’t think we encountered any teleport traps anywhere, and I can still see the entrance behind us.”
Carol’s eyes are capable of seeing long distances far beyond what any of the rest of us are capable of whether we have light or not. I can’t see even an outline of the entrance at this point, but if Carol says it’s there, I believe her.
[Saluena]: “It couldn’t be a different entrance from before.”
[Ashel]: “Right. There is only one entrance that leads from the castle to the dungeon. I wonder if we made some kind of mistake…….”
Ashel nodded with a thoughtful expression at Saluena’s comment.
[Rose]: “Then what does all this mean?”
[Lapris]: “Beats me.”
[Toslin]: “I’ve never heard of something like this happening before either.”
Rose-san continued pouring over the map time and time again to the point that she started to look irritated.
Lapris gave up on thinking about it early on with Toslin joining her soon after.
[Litzreich]: “What does our expert, Carotayle, think about this then?”
[Carol]: “Hmm~. I’m not sure.”
When asked by Litzreich, Carol readily shrugged her shoulders.
[Carol]: “But, possibly……”
However she continued on nonetheless.
[Carol]: “The entrance is there, the map is real, and we never encountered any traps. And yet, what we’re seeing now is completely different from our map. So I can only think of one answer.”
Carol lowered her hand and once again began walking forward.
[Carol]: “Rose, you can put the map away. It’s useless to us now.”
She raised her nose up into the air, more intensely sniffing the hallway as she moved.
[Rose]: “Eh, what do you mean Carol-san?”
We quickly followed after Carol. When Rose-san asked what the rest of us were thinking, she replied without turning her eyes away from the front.
[Carol]: “Parts of the dungeon have changed since we were last here. Possibly everything.”
It took all of us a few seconds to understand what she said.