“What are you talking about?” (Rook)
“…you’re going to move on before you ‘realize’ what’s going on, so I’ll tell you something. …This dungeon will disappear once it is cleared.” (Hibos)
The moment I heard that my heart skipped a beat, and all sorts of information rushed through my drunken head.
Does the dungeon disappear when it is cleared, really? That’s news to me, but what does that mean? And what happens next?
If Mr. Hibos says, “don’t do it”, it must have something to do with that. If the dungeon disappears, there must be some kind of problem. But that problem should be so numerous that it is hard to imagine…
There are so many things that I can’t think of at a moment’s notice.
“The dungeon is an important source of funds for the Duke of Almeil. If the dungeon is cleared, we lose it all. You know the rest.” (Hibos)
“So, adventurers who realize this will have to be careful not to attract the attention of the Duke of Almeil.” (Hibos)
Saying this, Mr. Hibos twirled the cup of grape wine.
“No, wait a minute! I have a little too many questions, my mind can’t keep up!” (Rook)
This dungeon will disappear when it is cleared. I understand that. And I also understood that if that happened, the Dukes of Almeil would be in trouble. So clearing the dungeon would be a big problem. That’s a big problem, though it’s a rather tricky story. But if that is the case, then various questions come up.
So, I quickly sorted the thoughts in my head for a while and asked some questions.
“First of all, there was a group of adventurers I just talked to who had already conquered the eighth floor, and they were obviously trying to clear the dungeon, right? Are you saying they haven’t figured it out yet?” (Rook)
“No, they are a bit special.” (Hibos)
“They are the Sword of Granton, a clan based in Granton. They are under the patronage of the Duke of Grespo. Even the Duke of Almeil is reluctant to restrict their actions in public.” (Hibos)
I see. …The Duke of Almeil can’t touch them because they have the backing of the Duke of Grespo, one of the three dukes of this country? …No, that raises more questions.
“Are not the three dukes of this country on bad terms? What’s the point of having the Duke of Grespo’s backing in this land? I think he would rather be an enemy.” (Rook)
I took off my Golden Dragon Claw badge because I think it’s rather counterproductive, too.
“It is that way normally.” (Hibos)
“The way normally, really?” (Rook)
“The church says that dungeons were created by the Demon King. That’s why the church is actively trying to destroy it. No matter how strong of a duke he is, if he interferes with the dungeon invasion, he might be treated as one of the Demon King’s allies.” (Hibos)
“I see.” (Rook)
Let’s get this straight.
Duke Almeil wants to maintain this dungeon, which is their golden goose.
The Church wants to destroy the dungeon, which is said to have been made by the Demon King.
Duke Grespo wants to destroy this dungeon, which is a source of funds for Duke Almeil.
Adventurers cannot clear the dungeon without some backing. But clearing dungeons is a dream of adventurers.
The Adventurer’s Guild… I don’t know yet, but maybe they want to maintain the dungeons that are their source of income.
Dungeons stimulate the local economy. Items from dungeons are valuable, they make money, and they provide food. I felt that when I’ve seen the town of Elem. Especially in the case of this dungeon, it may be very important because the coins come directly from the dungeon.
In other words, this dungeon is like a gold mine that springs up endlessly. A real gold mine will run dry someday, but the money that gushes out of this place is probably infinite. …Well, I don’t know if that’s actually true, but I have a feeling that’s what they think.
And you can get potions here, which seem to be essential for the military. That should be a big part of it.
All those benefits disappear when the dungeon is cleared. The impact is immeasurable.
…Oh my god. I was thinking of getting fame for clearing the dungeon, but from the looks of it, I’m going to get more resentment from the Duke of Almeil than fame.
I don’t need that kind of bonus, do I?
But if so, the big question remains.
“Then why is the Duke’s fifth son here? Didn’t he declare, as I recall, that he would ‘clear this dungeon’?” (Rook)
Yes, he did. That fifth son of the duke’s family, Pauly, certainly declared that he would clear the dungeon here.
If the duke wants to maintain this dungeon, his words are the opposite of the duke’s. I don’t understand his intention.
To my question, Mr. Hibos exhaled heavily, sipped his wine, and then answered.
“…I don’t understand that part. That’s why I’m scared. Did the duke go crazy and start attacking the dungeon? Or is that fifth son working independently of the duke? He’s the bane of every adventurer here.” (Hibos)
I see. …So that’s it.
I remember that time. When Pauly announced that he was going to clear the dungeon, the adventurers around him looked surprised.
I didn’t think the duke would say, “I’m going to conquer this dungeon.”
But I don’t know what Pauly’s intentions are. I can’t ask him, nor can I be sure.
But more important than that is… This means that the dungeon capture is now closed.
There is no way I can clear this dungeon.
“I have no choice but to give up, huh…” (Rook)
I couldn’t help but let the words escape my mouth.
Clearing the dungeon was one of my goals, but now I have no choice but to give up. It’s frustrating, but this is the limit for me right now.
However, this dungeon is still very good for me, and I think it’s the right thing to do for the time being. Unfortunately, like any other adventurer, I’ll have to keep a low profile and keep my eye on the duke as I work my way up through the floors.
“Old man, another drink.” (Hibos)
“Me too.” (Rook)
“Got it.” (Old Man)
I down the wine quickly.
I can’t make do without a drink on a day like this!
“Well, you’re right to give up. Clearing a dungeon is a dream of every adventurer, but it’s not something everyone can do. Most adventurers give up on their dreams at some point.” (Hibos)
“……Mr. Hibos too?” (Rook)
I somehow asked such a horrible question.
Maybe I was a little ticked off that he told me to give up on my dream.
The Mr. Hibos said, “Yes, I guess so…” and downed his cup of wine.
“There was once a party called ‘The Glory of Aluppo’. They moved through this dungeon at breakneck speed and finally reached the ninth floor. They could clear this dungeon. That’s what everyone thought.” (Hibos)
“But that was before. Immediately after reaching the ninth floor, they went somewhere at the request of the duke… and never came back. The duke is the one who protects this dungeon. The duke would go to any lengths to protect this dungeon.” (Hibos)
“…Do you think the Duke of Almeil is involved in the disappearance of these adventurers?” (Rook)
“Some of them left their families behind in this town, you know? They all disappeared that day.” (Hibos)
In other words, the adventurers in this town suspect that the duke will erase any adventurers who might clear this dungeon if they appear. …I can’t say for sure, since no proof exists, but circumstantial evidence suggests that it’s probably true.
“Anyway, if you witness something like that, you’re going to give up. Right?” (Hibos)
I think I’m completely done. I’m not sure I want to do this.
I don’t see any good reason for me to try to clear the dungeon anymore.
I don’t think I can compete with the dukes now. If the dukes have the power to handle a party that can go to the ninth floor, there is no way I can do anything about it.
Ridiculous… Unattainable… Impossible.
I felt somewhat unmotivated and plopped down on the counter table.
“…But they went that far to protect the dungeon, and now the Duke’s fifth son is trying to clear it, right?” (Rook)
The more I listen to the story, the less I understand it.
“…maybe there’s an artifact… probably… Well, I don’t think so.” (Hibos)
“Hmm? An artifact?” (Rook)
I got up and looked at Mr. Hibos, who looked a little thoughtful before continuing.
“No… I heard that if you clear the dungeon, you can get an artifact… They said. But I don’t know what kind of artifact you’ll get. If you win, that’s a big deal, but if you lose, the loss will be too big. It is not possible to just do it. Right?” (Hibos)
An artifact huh… I would like to get one too.
The artifact Eye of Truth obtained in the Golden Dragon’s Nest was forcibly sold to Duke Schumer, and after all, it’s difficult for individuals to obtain artifacts with no ties.
Well, it’s okay, because I had no use for that artifact even if I had it.
…Anyway, my dream is over at this moment. That’s for sure.
A few days later. I returned to the Fifth Floor Village after hunting on the sixth floor as usual.
My life has not changed in spite of everything. This dungeon is still a delicious place for me, and I’m still having a good time with the undead.
I no longer have the dreams, motivation, and adventurous spirit of those days, but here I am, a highly paid, elite corporate salaryman. I don’t have dreams anymore, but I have high efficiency and high experience, so that’s fine! That’s the way it is. It’s a happy thing, yes.
I paid a gold coin to the gatekeeper, who was not Mr. Hibos, to enter the village, and as I was heading to the inn as usual, I noticed the wall of the Duke’s Squire’s.
On a piece of paper posted there was a note that read, “Buying lower-grade magic potions from the dungeon 8 gold a piece, Squire of Duke Almeil.
“Eight… gold coins?” (Rook)
It must have been cheaper when I saw it before… right? Why has the price gone up so much?
Wondering, I headed to the inn, got a room, and entered the bar.
Then the atmosphere seemed different from usual. It was kind of like there was a tense atmosphere…
“What happened?” (Rook)
I asked, spotting a familiar adventurer.
“No, nothing happened, but… the purchase price of potions has gone up, right? That’s what’s making people think something smells fishy.” (Adventurer)
“…smells fishy, huh?” (Rook)
The adventurer looked around a little, and then whispered, “Oh, it’s probably for war.”
“Oh, a war?” (Rook)