Live Dungeon!

Chapter 232: Going On Ahead
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Chapter 232: Going On Ahead

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“Minimize the destruction of buildings! Avoid using magic skills as much as possible!”

“This ain’t no time to worry about that! The people’s lives should come first!”

“Even if lives are saved, they’ll die in poverty if their property and assets are gone! Are you going to help them with that!?”

The monsters that appeared within the Royal Capital seemed to be densely packed against Brooklyn’s Shield, driving the people southward with their sheer numbers. Meanwhile, Ealdred Crow and the Labyrinth Conquerors had commenced their monster purge within the city.

However, the Explorers, unaccustomed to urban warfare, struggled to avoid causing damage around them while fighting. Although they could handle the monsters themselves, collateral damage became a significant concern.

“Ugh…”

In the midst of this chaos, Hannah, who had rushed out without waiting for Christia or Tsutomu’s instructions, wore a pained expression. Seeing Hannah now regretting her impulsive action, Diniel shot her a weary glance.

“If you regret it that much, you should have refrained from doing it in the first place.”

“…My body moved on its own, so I couldn’t help it.”

“Is that brain in your head just for decoration?”

“Ugh… shut up, shut up, shut up! I couldn’t help myself!”

“Now, now, calm down.”

Daryl, soothing Hannah as they headed towards the center of the Royal Capital, occasionally shot out <<Combat Cry>> and checked for any lurking monsters. Hannah, after taking a deep breath to compose herself, glanced ahead with determination in her eyes.

“But you know… If I said I was coming to the Royal Capital, Teach probably wouldn’t have let me.”

“Probably.” 𝖋𝔯𝔢𝔢𝔴𝖊𝔟𝔫𝖔𝖛𝖊𝖑.𝔠𝔬𝔪

“…Diniel, don’t you think Teach has been acting strange? He’s… too cold to others. No, it’s not just that. He’s… kind of… hard to understand, you know? In all my life, I’ve never met anyone like him before.”

“You’d be better off not understanding him.”

“I guess I was stupid to expect a proper answer from you…”

“Oh, so you KNOW that you’re stupid.”

As Hannah gnawed on her lip at Diniel’s blunt response, she turned to Daryl and Garm as if seeking help.

“Daryl, Sir Garm — has that thought ever crossed your minds before? Something’s off about him. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but…”

“…I DO think he’s at least a little bit peculiar, yes,” Daryl, answering while minding how Garm would react, proceeded to continue speaking once he noticed there was not a stern gaze directed at him.

“He seems to be ignoring everything as much as possible if it’s not related to the God’s Dungeon. I believe he’s doing the same here — getting rid of those unrelated to his sole interest. Conversely, for better or worse, those that have something to do with the God’s Dungeon get a positive reaction from him.”

“That’s it! That’s what I wanted to say!”

“But I don’t think he’s doing it because he enjoys it. After the Stampede last time, he looked genuinely sad seeing all those dead people…”

Daryl had joined Absolute Helix as a founding member through a recommendation by Garm, and during the Stampede, he had observed Tsutomu closely as the latter was his Clan leader. Thus, Daryl had definitely observed Tsutomu’s expression upon seeing the casualties.

“I saw him too!” Korinna spoke up in agreement, having been present at the scene then to nurse the injured. “A truly cold-hearted person wouldn’t react like that.”

“…You’re not wrong, Miss Hannah — Sir Tsutomu does seem a bit different and aloof to others. But he’s a kind soul, even if he doesn’t show it openly. That’s why Sir Garm remains loyal to him — or at least that’s what I think — and I want to follow him, too.”

“W-Well, yeah, I think you’re right. But…” Hannah seemed receptive to Daryl’s argument, but then her expression twisted in discomfort. After some grumbling as if struggling to find the right words, she suddenly lifted her head.

“…B-But… maybe he’s been dealing with me just out of obligation! I’m dumb, and I’ve caused a lot of trouble… If he finds someone smarter who can be a better evasion-based Tank, I know he’ll get rid of me!”

Hannah, prompted by Daryl’s words, finally articulated her deeply held concerns.

Living together in the Clan House, she had an idea of what Tsutomu’s true character was like. In her view, he was someone who would coldly discard those who were deemed unnecessary for conquering the God’s Dungeon. Sensing this instinctively, Hannah had started practicing the difficult art of Magic Fist to prove her worth beyond just being an evasion-based Tank.

But even after receiving praise from Melchor for mastering Magic Fist to some extent, Tsutomu’s reaction was lukewarm. Unlike Hannah, Tsutomu did not show his emotions openly and advised her to act as she pleased. His distant attitude only fueled Hannah’s anxiety further. Then Leleia’s words became the final straw, fueling her insecurity and opposition toward Tsutomu.

While she resented Tsutomu for his uncaring attitude toward civilian life, that was but one of many triggers. Her anxiety had gone over the line and exploded, and as a result, she felt inspired to go out of her way to help others with reckless abandon.

Garm and Daryl, however, only exchanged puzzled glances in reaction to Hannah’s outburst. Daryl, tilting his head slightly to catch every word Hannah said, listened intently, he wore a curious expression.

“Uh, no, he wouldn’t do that. Right, Sir Garm?”

“…Tsutomu has always held you in high regard, Hannah. What are you so anxious about?”

“Huh!?”

Seeing Hannah frozen in shock, Garm let out a sigh.

“He’s not the kind of man to say it out loud, that’s all. But if you grow complacent and stop putting in effort, well… it might affect his progress down God’s Dungeon.”

“…Does he really think about nothing but that Dungeon?”

“I wouldn’t say I don’t understand how you feel, Hannah. I’ve known Tsutomu the longest, but he can be secretive sometimes. He does things I don’t always understand, and that can cause some unease. But his actions are decisive; if you follow him, things won’t go wrong…” Midway through his words, Garm seemed to realize something, his expression tinged with guilt. “…Of course, I do know that Tsutomu is ultimately a kind soul, as Daryl does. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be following him.”

“Sounds pretty sus to me,” Diniel suddenly said.

“…I’m speaking the truth.”

“Now you’re getting defensive.”

“I’m speaking the truth!”

As Garm and Diniel began to argue, Hannah watched them with eyes open wide. Daryl then gently patted Hannah’s shoulder and offered her a reassuring smile.

“Just apologize to him for coming here without permission. I’m sure he’ll forgive you — and you have my support, too. He’s not the way he is because he likes to be, and if he was going to get rid of you, he wouldn’t have let us come along. It’s going to be alright.”

“…Yeah.”

“It’ll be fine! I’ll apologize too! Maybe he’s still feeling guilty for that time he forgot to consider me a Healer — well, if we push him there, you’ll get through the talk just fine! So don’t worry about that for now, and focus on rescuing everyone!”

“Hahaha….”

With Korinna proposing to manipulate the situation with rather dubious intentions, Daryl chuckled wryly and encouraged the nearly tearful Hannah. Then, after calming down Garm and Diniel, who were still arguing as they moved, they continued searching for remaining monsters and aiding the injured within the Royal Capital.

▽▽

“Now this is a problem…” Weiss, carrying Meena, whose limbs were crushed, muttered as he observed the gathering crowd near the Shield.

He had been aware, thanks to Christia’s report, that monsters had appeared within the Royal Capital, but he had not anticipated such a large gathering of civilians.

As Meena appeared to be a young human girl at a glance, it would be troublesome if the civilians were to spot her. However, either House Kantjelucia or Babenberg’s Shield magic was essential to actually restrain Meena, and as such, Weiss had no choice but to go toward where the civilians were.

Weiss temporarily concealed Meena with his black robe and headed towards Christia, who was giving instructions from the air.

“Weiss, is that…”

“Someone from Orbis Church — the smaller one. I captured her alive. The idea is to keep her restrained, but… it wouldn’t be a good look if the public saw her. Would we be better off killing her now?”

“…No, the information she holds is valuable. You did well to capture her. I’ll call Babenberg over here. Weiss, wait here until she’s properly restrained.”

“All right.”

Weiss, being fairly famous even before the emergence of the God’s Dungeon, was known by many in the Royal Capital. Despite the slight commotion among the civilians as they looked at him from a distance, Weiss remained expressionless.

Before long, the head of House Babenberg emerged from within the city’s Shield and began erecting multiple layers of Shield magic around Meena, who was kept shrouded in the black robe. Master Babenberg’s Shields, despite the drawback of them being connected to his sensory perception, could be imbued with various functions. Hence, coloring the Shield to conceal Meena was easily accomplished.

“You’ll need someone to keep her in check. I’ll stay here and make sure she behaves.”

“Sorry. I appreciate that…”

“It’s fine. But if things get dicey outside, I’ll kill her and come out to help. Surely you wouldn’t mind that, Christia.”

“Right. I’m counting on you.”

Considering Master Babenberg’s Shields had already been breached once by Meena, merely confining her inside was no longer an option. However, with Weiss’ abilities being advantageous against Meena, he could easily restrain her even if she woke up and became unruly. Thus, Weiss also decided to keep himself within the Shield’s perimeter to keep watch.

“And If the situation INSIDE gets dicey, don’t hesitate to kill her.”

“All right.”

With that order by Christia, Weiss entered the Shield’s perimeter with Meena. Within the dark isolated space, wide enough for close quarters combat, the sounds from outside seemed muffled. Just before the Shield closed completely, Weiss lit up the darkness with a Lightning Magic Stone-fueled magic tool.

As soon as the Shield closed, plunging them into darkness akin to night, Meena, shrouded in a black robe, began to squirm.

“Stop it. Don’t hit me. I’m not moving anymore,” Meena promptly said as Weiss grabbed his war hammer and stood up, managing to get him to sit back down.

“……”

Meena proceeded to stick out just her face from the black robe as if to take in some air.

“Can’t believe I got caught like this.”

“……”

“What’s gonna happen to me now?”

“……”

“Everyone ignores me. I hate it.”

Weiss, returning to his usual demeanor, placed his war hammer back on the ground, and Meena buried her face in the black robe. Without uttering a word in reaction to Meena’s cries, Weiss remained seated.

The only sounds echoing within the Shield’s perimeter were Weiss’ inspections of his weapons, mainly his longsword and crossbow. Then, after a while, a deafening roar resounded from outside the Shield.

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