□ 【Paladin】 Ray Starling
If I were to consider the time in the real world, just yesterday my brother had told me about this ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞; however, inside the game, it had already been three entire days since then. It happened during the short break we did while shopping for my equipment.
『The biggest dungeon of the Kingdom is right inside this beary Capital.』
After informing about the hunting areas around the Royal Capital that were suitable for rookies, my brother had something more to add.
“Inside the Capital? What do you mean?”
『The underground of this city bears the so-called ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞ dungeon, the biggest one of the Alter Kingd——no, of the entire continent… and bear the way, its lower levels are filled to the brim with monsters so strong a 【Demi-Dragwurm】 would be considered small fry when compared to even one of them.』
When he said that, both Nemesis and I looked at the ground by our feet.
“This country… will it not get destroyed before going to war again with Driphe…?”
『The ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞ is a Divine Construct Dungeon, so it is impawsible fur the monsters inside it to leave.』
“A Divine Construct Dungeon?”
As I kept parroting the words I had heard for the first time to ask for their meaning, my brother immediately began his explanation.
…..He really liked to explain things, huh.
『Beary well, there are two kinds of dungeons in this game. The first is the Natural Dungeon. This is the one that “originally wasn’t a dungeon but bear-came one due to several circumstances.” The ＜Old Loew’s Orchard＞ where you fought the 【Demi-Dragwurm】 is a beary typical example.』
He then gave other examples of Natural Dungeons, such as nests made by monsters possessing high intellect and things like fortresses that were assaulted by monsters.
『The other kind is the Divine Construct Dungeon, or “something that, since the bear-ginning, was built in this world as a dungeon.” In other words, a dungeon made by the beary admins.』
『When compared with its natural counterpart, there are three grizzly differences. The beary first one is that monsters from the divine construct dungeons won’t escape to the outside world.』
Otherwise it would be simply too dangerous to live in the Royal Capital.
『Second, disregarding factors like the ecosystem, fur example, the monsters there will automatically respawn.』
Not only the personalities and life of the people in this world were realistic, but also the monsters’ ecosystem too. There were monsters with male and female counterparts, that would then breed and multiply—they wouldn’t simply pop out of nowhere. Just like the fact that dead tians wouldn’t revive, monsters could apparently be driven to extinction if they were over-hunted.
However, it was different for the monsters in a Divine Construct Dungeon: according to my brother, they would infinitely respawn there. It seemed like it was also a matter of fact that undead monsters would appear even without any dead bodies around.
『Third, there is a boss monster placed at every specific floor in the dungeon, and in addition to item drops, there is a reward fur defeating them.』
Similarly to how the supply of monsters wouldn’t ever end, treasures would also respawn infinitely, their grade growing higher the deeper the dungeon floor was; in the deepest parts of the ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞, it was a matter of course that items that could be sold for one million lirs dropped in massive amounts.
I guess you could say it was an infinite source of wealth.
『There are other Divine Construct Dungeons out there, but none of them are as easy to enter as this bearied dungeon is. It wouldn’t bear an understatement to affirm that, from a player’s perspective, this is the greatest advantage this Kingdom has: in order to gain access to the ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞, you only need to be an Alter affiliated ＜Master＞ and possess a 【Permit】 item.』
He then paused for a moment, and said…
『This is precisely one of the reasons why a country that has been similarly blessed with fertile lands—Driphe—is attacking the Kingdom of Alter. Because unless they capture this Kingdom, they will never be able to enter the ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞.』
Driphe probably thought of Alter as a country in possession of a limitless treasure trove, huh.
“Then, brother, even after finding a suitable costume to hide yourself, you’ve never left the Alter Kingdom for a nation of your liking because you wanted to explore this underground dungeon?”
『Well… I bearily visited that place.』
Now that was a surprise.
『…Baldr’s 5th form and above is so big I can’t really use it inside the dungeon.』
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this was a case of 『More is Less』, but it reminded me of that stuff about how everything had its strong and weak points.
Also, just what kind of ＜Embryo＞ did you have that was even bigger than a tank, bear brother…
Thus, right now, Nemesis and I were exploring said ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞. Although I had expected it to be pitch black—what with it being an underground labyrinth and all—the interior of the dungeon was, surprisingly, dimly lit. Apparently, the walls and ceiling of this place were all embedded with ores that naturally emitted light. Since they kept shining even while in complete darkness, they shouldn’t be fluorite… but well, this was a “fantasy setting”, so I guess there must have been a great variety of mysterious ores all over the world.
After walking down the stairs for about three minutes, I finally arrived at flat passageway made of stone; it was so wide it could probably allow ten or so people to walk side by side here. In contrast to this, though, the ceiling of this place wasn’t that high, and if someone as big as my bear brother were to try their chance here, they would certainly get stuck because of that. Since the walls and ceiling were made of stone too, I had believed that you could simply destroy them to advance, but when I tried to cut them up with Nemesis, I couldn’t leave even a single scratch on their surface.
Hmm, apparently this dungeon was indestructible.
『I was worried because the ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞ was such a ghastly name, but now that we are here, this dungeon looks pretty tidy.』
“Yeah, that’s right. Maybe some kind of effect cleans it every time.”
I guess the admins prioritized the direct management of this dungeon over the more realistic outside world.
『I was wondering about what could happen in the underground of a cemetery, but if it is just this then I have nothing to worry. Let us chop down every single monster here!』
“Didn’t you know? Apparently, the only monsters that spawn in this floor are undead ones.”
I pointed at the inner portions of the passageway.
Speaking of the devil… in the direction I was pointing at, there was someone in rags… or rather, there was a monster made of just a person’s bones wearing rags. As a proof that it was indeed a monster, the name 【Civil Skeleton】 was displayed right above those bones.
Without holding any weapons, the monster simply drew towards me with its arms outstretched, clattering noises accompanying it as it moved. The “Civil” part of its name indicated that, instead of coming from the corpse of a soldier or a knight, those bones belonged to a simple citizen’s corpse.
Okay, I might have said that, but since this was a Divine Construct Dungeon, the monsters here spawned naturally, so that thing wasn’t really the corpse of someone who had died. “An undead citizen” was simply the game’s lore for this kind of monster. Well, things were most probably different when talking about 【Skeletons】 that appeared outside of the dungeon, with them really originating from dead people’s bodies.
And, hm… I might have never minded about it in manga and in other games, but now I was curious about how the bones were separated and floated around the corpse’s supposed joints. There was nothing that kept them connected—like muscles—so it was a mystery how they were able to work and move together, even with literally nothing in the spaces for the joints; moreover, it would be just too scary to see one of those 【Skeletons】 in the “real life” graphics that ＜Infinite Dendrogram＞ boasted to have. I mean, seeing white bones slightly covered in the red and yellow of dried bodily fluids? NOPE, too real for me.
Just for now, I was really glad that I had chosen the anime viewing style of this game.
She didn’t respond.
It seemed like she had emptied her mind, shutting out any distracting thoughts.
Well, I was going to use her to slash and fight against that kind of enemy, so…
“Then, let’s do it!”
I slashed at the 【Skeleton】 with the long sword Nemesis. The monster merely stretched out its thin, bone fingers towards us—and had its entire arm smashed away. Then, with the momentum of the strike, I continued and used Nemesis’ flat side to deliver a full swing against the 【Skeleton’s】 cranium. As though it had been hit by a blunt weapon, the monster’s head was pulverized.
Apparently, that single strike was enough to defeat it, considering I received EXP a second later. The amount was less than yesterday’s wolves, but from the resistance I had felt through my attack, I already expected that. Even then, the information was spot-on, and the monsters from the upper floors were indeed on the same level of strength as the ones from the rookie’s hunting grounds. With this, I would be able to level up here.
『….I wonder if we could do it with a little less physical contact against those things…』
“At our current state, can we even do anything other than cutting and striking them?”
I still hadn’t acquired any kind of magical attack and Nemesis only had two skills: 《Counter Absorption》, a defensive one, and 《Vengeance is Mine》, a counter that required contact. Well, I had bought some consumable magical items, but they were limited in number. There was no other way but to proceed through close quarters combat.
『Indeed, you are right… and yet, this is mentally draining.』
“The 【Skeletons】 here are still somewhat fine, right?”
Of course, because they weren’t the remains of someone turned into a monster. Since that was the case, even if they were creepy, I guess the monsters were surprisingly “clean”. They were pretty much dry and fresh.
『Hmm… if you put it that way, then this feels somewhat better.』
“Exactly. Ah, there’s another monster over ther…”
Nemesis and I stood speechless at the appearance of a certain monster from the corner of the passageway. Like the 【Skeleton】, it clearly was an undead one. However, that monster was “thicker” than the good old 【Skeleton】. Why I would say that? Because sticking to its bones was some putrid flesh infested with maggots.
All over the monster’s body, there were spots without that decaying flesh; moreover, oozing from those gaps were its body fluids, sometimes yellow, sometimes darkish red. ＜Infinite Dendrogram＞ boasted to have the perfect simulation of all five senses, and true to that fact, the putrid odor emitted by the monster was simply too strong—it was beyond description. Finally, displayed above its head was the name 【Wound Zombie】.
After laying eyes upon such an otherworldly aberration, the investigator did an 1/1d6 SAN check for…
“….Hah! There’s so much horror there my mind trailed off to another game!”
Oops, that monster was simply too much and I couldn’t help it…
Anyway, I should’ve expected that in a den of undead, along with 【Skeletons】, 【Zombies】 could also appear. And differently from the 【Skeleton】, the 【Zombie】 groaned as it drew towards us, body fluids dripping everywhere.
“Alright, let’s do it.”
『Wha-!? W-Wait a moment! Surely you must not be planning on using me to cut that thing, right!?』
“……It isn’t a real corpse, it’s just a monster created by the dungeon.”
『Oh nononono! I don’t even care about where it came from! I just don’t wanna cut that horrifying thing!』
To the Nemesis that was dead-serious on not doing it, I…
“I’ll clean you when we return, so please endure it.”
I raised the screaming Nemesis and charged against the 【Zombie】.
1↑神造 – Shinzou, 神 (God/Divine/or even Divinely) 造 (Creation/Structure/Construct). Same wording seen in the Fate series, so I went with it.
2↑過ぎたるは及ばざるが如し – “Let what is past flow away downstream”, a proverb pointing that too much of something good can actually be bad.
3↑このダンジョンに関してはリアルな世界よりも、運営の手による管理が優先されているのかもしれない – This line could use some work but I think the meaning is already conveyed.