Metro Labyrinth Chapter 8.5: High Level

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 Fujiwara Hidesato, a.k.a. Tawara Touta.


 He was a super high-ranking aristocrat of the Heian period, famous for his stories of fighting Taira no Masakado, who was on a rampage in the Kanto region, and for his story of killing a centipede, a demon bigger than a mountain.


 I wonder what Mr. Tawara would have said if he had been there.



“Weird” “Squeak”



 Tamiko’s and my words overlap.



 Three giant centipedes undulate before our eyes. They are intertwined as if they were a single beast, like a multi-headed hydra.


 Their girth is probably about the same as that of Shuu, but their total length is easily over ten meters. It has a shiny black, glossy body and a pair of sharply pointed antennae. Its legs are symmetrical and wriggling, and its red scissors-like tail glistens.


 And above all, its face. It has a pale, demon-like face that resembles the mask of a Hannya. Their eyes are blood red, and sharp fangs close horizontally from the edges of their lips.



 Demon Centipede is one of the Metro Beasts that live on the 50th underground floor of the Outsuka Metro. Estimated level of around 45.


 Nearly an hour’s walk from our hideout is a dimly lit area with round tunnels bending to the right and left. This is where the Demon Centipedes have their stronghold.



“Tamiko, stay behind.” (Shuu)


“Abeshuu, be careful, squeak!” (Tamiko)



 Waiting for my partner to step away from my shoulder, I bring out my Hypha Swords in both hands.


 I’m nervous. I feel thirsty and hot.


 One-on-one, I could handle it.


 But when it comes to fighting all three at the same time, not a single mistake can pass.



(But—I can do it.) (Shuu)


(With myself, my present self.) (Shuu)



 The heat that runs through my body is shivering. The heat that runs through my body eases my shivers.



“…I wonder how I’m going to get rid of these centipedes.” (Shuu)


“Gigi! Gigi!” (Demon Centipedes)



 As if spiraling through the circular passageway, the centipedes attack all at once.


 They are everywhere, from top to bottom, from front to back.


 Their jaws are closing in to bite into my flesh.


 Their antennae reach out to tear at my body.


 Their scissors run to cut my torso in two.



 The rain of malice rains down on me, and I dodged it all with a single leap. I dodged and swings both swords.


 Torn legs and antennae scatter. Their murky bodily fluids are sprayed everywhere. “Gigigigi!” the centipedes’ dull screams reverberate in the cave.


 Their jaws strike from behind, and I caught them with my swords without turning around, using the momentum to somersault backward.



“–No hard feelings.”



 Muttering this in mid-air, I clipped one head with both swords cutting it off.


 Once the first one is killed, the density of the oncoming attacks will obviously decrease. Inevitably, there will be fewer opportunities where I need to evade and defend, and more opportunities to strike the opponent. Next, I slashed away the second scissors.



 The third one stops moving as if frightened, and just as you think – countless spines are spat out from its mouth. They are [Hypha Needles]—a Fungal Skills.



 At the same time that they land on the ground, I land about ten meters backward. He jumped back with one foot, not because of the muscles of my legs, but with the power of my mycelium.


 The second one swoops forward, spewing black smoke. This, too, was a Fungal Skill, a smokescreen made of black spores, I used it as a distraction.



“—That’s useless.” (Shuu)



 The position and movements of the two animals are captured by my mind.


 I concentrate all my strength on my legs and kicked the ground.



 Cutting through the cottony smoke, in a split second, my body is right in front of the third one. The blade of my sword catches the monster’s form from the front, slicing it in half.


 The wind that I caused dispersed the smoke. The last one is already trying to run away with its tail between its legs. After confirming that it is out of the range of my senses, I relaxed my shoulders.



“It’s over, Tamiko.” (Shuu)


“*cough* *cough*. You did squeaking good, Abeshuu!” (Tamiko)



 Somehow, I managed to make it through the night almost unscathed. The joy and relief of surviving unintentionally relaxed my expression.



“…I’m a bit gross huh?” (Shuu)


“…gross, squeak.” (Tamiko)



 My body is covered in bodily fluids and a sticky, unpleasant odor wafts from my entire body. The first thing to do is to go to the oasis and wash my body as soon as possible.



“Before that, it’s time to nibble on some sporangium.” (Shuu)


“Sure, squeak.” (Tamiko)



 The two of us join hands together and begin the dismantling process.


 Whether mammalian or arthropod, metro beasts are equipped with sporangia. The taste may vary slightly from species to species, they aren’t that bad.



“Woah, Woah!” (Shuu)



 Just as I finish eating the second sporangium, something strange happens to my body. The long-awaited moment of physical buzzing that accompanies an increase in level.



“—Here we go, Tamiko! Finally!” (Shuu)


“Congratulations, Abeshuu, squeak!” (Tamiko)



 The two of us exchange high fives. Then we shouted in unison,



“”—Level 50, reached (squeak)!”” (Shuu & Tamiko)


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