Chapter 26: Traces of the Hero’s Party’s Annihilation, Part 1
(TL: Sorry, I must’ve spaced out really badly when I posted this chapter. The title said Hazure Potion and I forgot to put in a Read More.)
The hero’s party, who went to explore the A-ranked dungeon 『Hade’s Millenium Corridor』, had four members left after forcibly removing Luke of White Wolf Forest from their party.
First was the hero Falcon, a warrior blessed by many gods with skills.
Then, there was Julia, a swordswoman from the same hometown as Falcon. The two had been comrades for the longest time.
Finally, there were the twin sister magicians. The younger sister was the white magician, Blanc.
The older sister was the black magician Noire, who was also the only one of the four that managed to escape back to the surface.
This is what she told the guild house and the Silver Wings: the story of how the hero’s party ended up being annihilated.
Due to Falcon’s mistake, the party lost a huge portion of their food supply. In order to save on food, they cast away the adventurer Luke, who had been hired to do odd jobs. A few days after that, the party reached the deepest part of the labyrinth.
There was a stone door adorned with the designs of ancient times that prevented intruders from going any further.
「We just need to say the password here, right? Here we go… 『Epanes Esom』!」
The hero chanted, causing the door to open. The party proceeded further.
There was a massive underground space that stretched out far, making it hard to believe that they were at the bottom of the dungeon.
The ceiling was higher than a mountain, and so wide that the horizon looked hazy.
The shape of the underground space was not a simple circle or square.
It was difficult to explain the shape in one sentence, but Blanc described it as 『a ring-shaped donut cut into fours』.
It could also be described as 『a rectangle that was very bent』.
「Okay, Noire, I’ll leave the checking to you.」
Following the hero’s orders, Noire tried gathering information in the underground space by using a familiar.
Although they called it a familiar, it was not a living animal.
Rather, Noire uses magic to control a doll designed to look like a crow. She links her vision to the glass eyes on the doll to gather information.
Noire gathered information without an issue.
The underground space was covered with rocky mountains and wasteland, with a river separating the space.
The hero’s party was near the top of the mountainous area, at the edge of the underground space.
The terrain was lower on the opposite end, and on the right side of the space was the city inhabited by the demon race.
As Blanc described it, the 『ring donut split into four』was the outer circumference, where mining mountains were being developed. The ruler-like dark-skinned elves subjected a smaller-looking demon race to do hard labor there.
The inner circumference was not being developed, and it became the dragon’s domain as well.
「It’s decided then. We’ll go through the inner part. Our top priority is to not be discovered by the dark elves.」
Nobody objected to that.
Julia always agreed with what the hero said, while Noire believed that it was the correct decision from an objective point of view.
Blanc didn’t know who to agree with, but either way, it was decided that they were going to cross into the dragon’s domain.
「Hm? What’s this?」
As they proceeded smoothly past the rocky mountains using various skills, they found another giant door on the wall of the underground space.
The size suggested it wasn’t for humans to use, but the design on the door was the exact same as the one the party had passed through earlier.
「Maybe this door uses the same password.」
「Want me to try? 『Epanes Esom』!」
Falcon jokingly took Julia’s nonchalant suggestion and said the password, but nothing happened.
「Well, nothing happened as expected. Let’s hurry on.」
Afterwards, the hero’s party spent the entire day traveling, and finally they reached the only city in the area.
Humans don’t live here, so they hid themselves with magic and continued towards their destination.
「Looks like what we heard was true. Only dwarves live in this city.」
Dwarves: a group that was part of the demon race. They are smaller than the average human, and excels at blacksmithing and mining skills.
Dwarves are commonly viewed as a stubborn and passionate race, but the ones living here had a gloomy atmosphere around them.
Noire didn’t know if it was because of the area they were living in, or if it was because they were being forced to do slave-like labor.
The buildings were made to suit their sizes, and the doorways were low enough for the hero’s party to hit their head on if they weren’t being careful.
Also, the buildings were not made of wood, but instead were made mostly out of stone, which was another characteristic of dwarves.
「…If the information we got was correct, then this is the place.」
There was a building bigger than the ones around it.
This building was the dwarves’ assembly hall, and that was where the elder of the dwarves had promised the hero’s party to meet at.
「Welcome, hero from the surface… I cannot thank you enough for listening to our pleas for help…」
At the center of the meeting hall, which was considerably cramped for humans, the elder of the dwarves stood there and bowed politely.
「We just need to subjugate the king of the dark elves, who is ruling over this underground city, right? That’s easy.」
「They suddenly came here one day from a further region, and treated us as slaves. They’re strong, so I thought that the only way our race could be saved was if we asked those from the surface to help. 」
–About two months prior, the dwarves used some sort of magic to contact the kingdom and asked for help. They also gave the kingdom the password to open the door inside『Hade’s Millenium Corridor』.
According to the dwarves, the dark elves forced them to mine for resources and to craft weapons from them.
Once the palace received that information, they assumed that the demon king must’ve been aiming to『use the weapons made by the dwarves to invade the surface』.
So, the palace ordered Falcon, the hero with enough power to clear the labyrinth, to scout the sphere of influence that the demon king had, but…
「Leave it to me. I can take them down easily.」
That’s right, the hero’s party was ordered to『scout』.
The palace considered the possibility that the request was a trap, and recommended that the hero first checked on the situation in the dungeon.
The cabinet minister had recommended Falcon said to『subjugate them if possible』. However, Falcon misinterpreted what the cabinet minister said, and only decided to challenge the dungeon because he planned to subjugate the demon king from the very start and gain honor from it.
At the time, Noire remembered the anxious look that Luke had on his face every time the hero did something conceited.
Thanks to the numerous skills the hero was blessed with, he could deal with most dilemmas on his own.
However, wouldn’t this conceitedness, or rather, him acting on his own due to his overconfidence, ruin him in the end?
「Alright! Let’s take a good, long rest and prepare for tomorrow!」
In the end, Noire couldn’t tell anybody about her concerns, so the hero’s party spent the night in the guestrooms designed for humans.
— This was not mentioned to the guild and the knights, but on that night, the hero Falcon and the swordswoman Julia left their rooms to do 『what men and women do together at night』.
It seemed like they had that sort of relationship with each other before the party was made.
Since those two were childhood friends, perhaps their relationship was formed before the hero was granted his status.
Due to Falcon’s flirtatious personality, he would always try to flirt with Noire and Blanc, but Julia, who strongly wanted to monopolize him, would not allow it… Those interactions happened over and over.
However, the two of them were not at their own homes at the time, but rather, were inside enemy territory, right before the enemy.
Noire didn’t understand why the two would waste the time for sleeping to do that, even though they were going to raid the demon king’s castle tomorrow.
Falcon instructed everyone to have a good, long rest. What happened to that?
Did the feeling of being in love really hamper with a human’s decision-making that much?
For Noire, who never had an experience like that in her life, she couldn’t understand the reasoning behind the hero’s and Julia’s actions.