Chapter 9 – They Came Back
『Is this really… the dungeon from that time?』
『There shouldn’t be any mistaking the location, but…』
『I’d heard the rumours, but it really is shocking, huh?』
『It really was a dangerous place, ey?』
Through the Intelligence Perusal screen, I saw the party of four sidestepping the touters with noncommittal replies, before looking up at the temple.
An ikemen swordsman with short blonde hair, a bishoujo nun, a voluptuous mage oneesan, and a swordsman with a good body.
Indeed. The slab thieves came back.
…Sorry, I meant, the Hero Party.
Back when I was still a human, they invaded the dungeon, and reaching as far as the No Life King’s boss room, they challenge… nobody, because they turned tail and went home; the muscle-brained Hero Party. Even though I had wondered when they would come challenge the place again, in the end they went off somewhere, but it seems that right now they were planning on tackling the dungeon a second time.
“These guys are your representatives?”
“Yes. Aside from the relevation to all of the Human Race, I also gave them a mission through the Sacred Sword.”
I asked Light God Sophia who was sitting next to me and looking at the screen as well, and she replied with a smile. I could see how much she trusted them through her expression. Certainly, they are the most talented amongst the people she has to move. I don’t know if he’s the only hero, or if there are more of them, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that they’re the pinnacle of the Human Race.
Considering that all the other challengers have collapsed before the 10th floor, I can agree that there isn’t much point if the challengers aren’t at least their level of strength.
But having said that, as somebody who knows how the last time went down, I just can’t understand how she can be so confident in them.
“They didn’t come even though all sorts of crazy stuff happened, so I thought they went on a journey somewhere, but?”
“Yes, they entered the Demon Territory and made it close to the Demon King Castle.”
“Yeah, basically to the front door after all, yanno?”
Even though they were about to challenge the last boss, you called them back here? How ruthless.
As somebody who became a hero through the “Sacred Goddess-sama’s” divine protection, he probably couldn’t refuse a direct request from her.
『But still, to think that you got a direct request from Sacred Goddess-sama, ey?』
『Yeah, she told me that this was even higher priority than then Demon King Subjugation, so it’s probably pretty important.』
『More important than the Demon King Subjugation… it’s pretty hard to even imagine, huh?』
『It was Sacred Goddess-sama’s esteemed words, so I think it must be a deep and thoughtful plan that we can’t even imagine.』
It’s true that it’s important, but somehow I’m really starting to sympathise for these guys.
Race: Human Race
Title: Hero of the Holy Sword
Race: Human Race
Race: Human Race
Race: Human Race
I decided to try having a look at their statuses. As you’d expect, I don’t remember the details from last time, but I do recall that Arc’s level was in the 30s, so there’s no doubt that they’ve levelled up.
That was just how many fierce battles they had overcome to reach the Demon King, and just as they were about to challenge him… they were called back. When I imagined their hardships, it felt like tears were going to fall.
The Hero Party didn’t overlook last time’s failure, and came completely prepared for camping, smoothly advancing as far as the 10th floor. But they’ve already reached the 10th floor once before, so this much was within my expectations. The issue is what happens from now on.
Will they finally overcome the puzzle that defeated them last time? Holding my breath in anticipation, I watched them reach the pedestal.
“What is that pedestal?”
“It’s a puzzle used to open the path to the 10th floor boss room, and unless you collect the stone slabs and put them in, the door won’t open.”
“Ahh, I see…”
When I answered Light God Sophia’s question, Leonora who was sitting beside me, face-palmed. Speaking of which, she spent a whole hour on this too, huh.
Incidentally, Dark God Anbaal wasn’t here today.
『…? Hasn’t the inscription changed from last time?』
『You’re right, Frey. Although the latter half is the same as previously, the first half has changed, hasn’t it.』
『Yeah but more important than that is how we’re gunna get it open, right? How’s the Holy Sword, Arc?』
『Give me a moment… I see. Apparently we just need to collect the stone slabs hidden on this floor and fit them in.』
Hearing the unexpected conversation from beyond the screen, I let out a gasp, and turned towards Light God Sophia. And when I did, she averted her eyes. From what I saw, I immediately understood.
…This woman leaked the information she heard from me through her revelation.
“I am hurt. Giving advice through revelations was never forbidden.”
Certainly, it is within the rules. Using 『Authorities』 is forbidden, but we never forbade the use of relevations. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was unfair.
But still, this might be bad. I underestimated them because I thought that these muscleheads wouldn’t make it past the mid-floor puzzles, but if Light God Sophia supports them then it’s a different story.
With an Administrator’s Intelligence Perusal, they can look at all the information in the world, so with her help, the Hero Party will break through the puzzles in an instant.
Wait, hang on?
Then why did she go out of her way to ask me? If she knew how to solve the puzzle, then she wouldn’t have asked a question like that. In other words, even if she could see the puzzle itself, she didn’t know how to solve it.
In that case, as long as I don’t tell her the solution, the usefulness of her advice will become limited too.
“I’m not giving you any more hints.”
“That is a shame.”
Light God Sophia replied with an expression that didn’t seem to think it was that much of a shame at all. But well, she probably wasn’t so optimistic to think that my tongue would slip over and over after all, so I guess she was just trying to make a gain at the beginning.
It’s also a fact that even without clear answers, just having a third party’s advice should lower the puzzles’ difficult a lot.
I had thought that the middle layer’s puzzle floors would hold out for a year, but now the lower floors might have their turn too.
After an hour of touring the 10th floor to collect the slabs, the Hero Party returned to the pedestal. The four members had a slab each, and were lined up in front of the pedestal.
Mn? Four slabs?
Why are there four? I should have only placed three of them.
Ah-, could it be that they continued to take care of that one slab that they ran away with last time? I’ve already changed the marks and replaced the slabs as well, so the slab from last time isn’t any use through.
『Now then, shall we put the slabs in already?』
『Yeah, in these three holes… Huh?』
『We have four slabs, but… Where does everyone else think the last one should be placed?』
『There doesn’t seem to be any other place to put it, huh.』
Apparently the Hero Party also noticed the odd number of slabs, because just as they were about to put the slabs into the pedestal, they began looking for another place to put a slab in instead.
Of course, there isn’t any such place.
Seeing them search every corner of the pedestal without finding anything, and even beginning to search the inside of the room made me want to hold my head. And then, as though it were natural, Arc began to hold the pommel of the sword to his forehead. Probably looking for Sacred Goddess Sophia’s advice.
Looking at this, once they go to the middle floors, won’t she be stuck guiding them the entire time? It feels like I can see a large sweat drop forming at the back of her head.
“Sophia, tell them to exclude the slab from last time.”
“…Are you fine with that?”
Hearing my suggestion, both Leonora and Light God Sophia raised voices of surprised. It’s true that I was taking back what I just said, but they were just so slow that I couldn’t bear to watch any longer. And what’s more, the fact that another slab was mixed in was unexpected, so there wasn’t any hint either, which is why I think just this much follow-up is fine.
Also, it isn’t as though I don’t gain anything from having them advance forward. Seeing whether or not they’ll be able to defeat the 10th floor boss should serve as a reference for how our match will go from now on. Or rather, I really don’t want to let them get away a second time.
It definitely wasn’t because I felt sorry for her when I saw her flustered at how to answer.
“Understood. Then I shall take you up on your words, Anri.”
After Light God Sophia advised Arc through a revelation, he explained the situation to his companions before throwing away last time’s slab and placing the remaining three into the pedestal.
Hey-, just because you don’t need it now, doesn’t mean you should just throw it away there. Won’t that just confuse other people?
The Hero Party unknowingly left a confusing gift for the future latecomers, before stepping through the newly opened doors to the throne room. I’d better take that slab back later, or else…