130 Part 2
(What should I do? They’re saying that Karaboshi makes no sense… And I can’t say anything back at them because, well, they’re right!)
Even Karen, who wanted to protect Haruki, couldn’t argue with them.
What’s more, they were Hokkaido’s top team. She would be no match for them.
For Karen, who was an avid reader of the “Let’s Become” blog, they were adventurers she looked up to.
It was the same when Kagemitsu made an appearance in the Garage Dungeon. She was so nervous to even talk to him.
“The only one who makes any sense from Air’s team is that girl over there.”
“…Do you really think so?”
The topic of the conversation had suddenly shifted to Karen.
Panicked, Karen nervously shook her hands.
“Ah, no, I’m just a regular–”
Just as she tried to say that she wasn’t anything special, Chep leapt out of her pocket.
She seemed to have leapt out with a force that exceeded Karen’s power to send her back into her bracelet.
Chep’s energetic voice echoed throughout the room several times.
The entirety of Team Aerial was rendered completely speechless.
Karen curled up into a ball in order to try to escape from their gaze.
“–Huh? Where’s Lady Rhea?”
They must have thought “It speaks!”
Their eyes were opened wide, and their jaws had dropped.
“Karen. Karen. Did you hear me?”
“Yes, loud and clear…”
The gaze from each of the members of Team Aerial felt like a body blow…
They looked at Chep, then turned to Karen, and then looked at each other as if saying “Look” and “I knew it”.
“I guess you only see girls like her in Air’s team after all.”
Kagemitsu’s muttering caused Karen to crack a “Pshh” with a smile that looked as if she was close to bursting into tears.
“I-I’m– I’m not like Air, I’m normal!”
“Huuh? Normal, like, I-keep-a-talking-salmon-in-my-pocket normal?”
Kagemitsu had this wide grin on his face, as if he had gotten himself a good prey to play with.
Since she had thought this could happen, Karen had been trying her best to keep Chep inside her bracelet.
But to think that she would escape from it right at that moment… It was the worst possible timing.
Picking herself up from the ground, she racked her brains looking for a good excuse.
Would she be able to get herself out of this misunderstanding?
The decisive battle for Karen’s honor had just started.
＊ ＊ ＊ ＊ ＊ ＊ ＊ ＊ ＊
There are two types of dungeon capture methods depending on the adventurer.
One could either move forward regardless of the gaps in a floor’s map, or fill every gap in a floor’s map before proceeding instead.
Haruki’s method of choice was the latter.
Normally, he’d feel the need to completely explore every corner of a floor before proceeding to the next one.
However, time was of the essence this time around.
Haruki moved forward at full speed, finding his way around by recalling the map of Mt. Hakodate Dungeon that Kagemitsu had shown him on his tablet.
The unique thing about Mt. Hakodate Dungeon is that it went upwards instead of downwards.
Mt. Fuji Dungeon, which was Japan’s second most difficult dungeon, and Kurobe Dam Dungeon, where water flowed constantly, were famous for going upwards instead of downwards. But that kind of dungeon was quite rare.
This was the first time Haruki had ventured into one of that kind of dungeons.
Haruki climbed up the stairs, feeling a bit weird about it.
Since they had already defeated the Dungeon Lord before, the Self-Defense Force would be using the gate to quickly go back to the boss room.
Haruki quickly dashed through the dungeon so as to not miss their battle.
This time, Haruki had brought both Rhea and Esta along.
Maat had vehemently tried to get Haruki to allow her to go with him, but Haruki couldn’t see Maat doing much in battle.
How are you going to defeat monsters with those little wings and that tiny beak of yours?
Just by looking at the Skill Board, he understood that Maat was strong.
She could have been powerful enough to turn the tides in the battle against the Dungeon Lord’s unique-species, but still, Haruki chose to not bring Maat along.
That was because he was more worried about Karen than about his own battle.
She was currently unable to use any sort of magic whatsoever.
She had been confined inside the Self-Defense Force’s Headquarters, stuck in a situation where she couldn’t utilize even half of her fighting ability.
In case of emergency, the members of Team Aerial will certainly help her. However, Haruki was worried about that being enough.
“Maybe I’m being a little bit too overprotective…”
The leader, Yoshioka, is not present for this operation.
Haruki didn’t know what he would try to do while he was waiting at the Self-Defense Force’s Headquarters.
Then, rather than thinking in a simple manner and neglecting countermeasures, he believed he should think about the worst possible scenario, and prepare accordingly.
Haruki continued through the dungeon without leveling or mapping at all.
He avoided every monster he could, and for those who couldn’t be avoided, he swiftly hacked his way past them without looting them afterwards.
Wharf Roaches, Pill Bugs, and Killer Rabbits were some of the monsters that tried to get in Haruki’s way, but none of them actually managed to slow him.
Whenever Haruki found an enemy, it would end up chopped down on the floor the very next moment.
Rhea would then shoot a potato bullet at far away monsters so as not to lose to Haruki.
The monsters died shortly after realizing they were even there.
After dashing through the 3rd and 4th floors, Haruki had finally reached the stairs leading to the 5th floor.
He could already hear the noises of battle coming from that floor.
Haruki quickly ran up the stairs.
“Right flank, retreat! Left flank, engage!”
He heard something that sounded like the armor the Self-Defense Force members were wearing being rubbed against something. Then, the sound of an attack hitting rubber.
Screams, angry roars, cheering, scolding, and… Broken laughter.
Various sounds and emotions filled the floor, mixing with each other as they swirled about.
Since he had raised their skills, Haruki had thought that they wouldn’t be easily annihilated.
But contrary to Haruki’s expectations, the situation was indeed looking very badly.
About 20 of them had already been injured and had retreated to the back of the room.
Half of those 20 would be able to return to the fray after using their medicine.
However, the remaining 10 were out for the count.
They were all bleeding heavily and groaning while lying on the ground.
How did they take this much damage?
Haruki’s question was quickly answered as soon as he saw the Dungeon Lord.
It was really huge.
It was about 30 meters long, and 20 meters wide.
A plump body with a large mouth.
The black and white striped pattern on its body stood out from the rest.
Its body swelled up every time it attacked, as if to represent its anger.
It had a sucker under its belly that looked like an alien’s mouth.
The unique-species was…
It was a lumpfish, a winter specialty of Southern Hokkaido.
The lumpfish is a type of fish that lives in the deep sea. It looks like a blowfish and has a white body. A thick gelatin layer wraps its white flesh.
In Japan, they are called “Hoteiwo”, since their faces seen from the front resemble a Hotei, a deity that was depicted as a pot-bellied monk that carries a large cloth bag on his back.
It is very similar to blowfish, but the most notable difference between a lumpfish and a blowfish is the presence or absence of a suction cup under its belly.
Lumpfish stick to the sea floor using their suction cups. When winter comes, they lay their eggs and rise to the rocky shores.
In short, lumpfish were a winter delicacy.
Drooling, Haruki put on his mask, which he had stashed away in his bag.
“Fresh collagen, roe, white and fatty meat… Just you wait… lumpfish broth!!”
Pulling out his short sword dagger while harboring the flames of a farmer’s spirit, Haruki jumped out with all his might.