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Completed ― Abandoned Lady Awakened in the Dungeon – Sacred Mark? A True Saint? No I Am Just a Monster Foodie!

Chapter 1: Sending to Dungeon

Sinner Lysette, you’ve been sentenced to holy duties in Dungeon territory.”

The saint’s clear voice falls over to Lysette, with her shackled hands.

Lysette, who was once the next duke’s betrothed, has been stripped of all honors, status, and assets, as well as her family name. She only has her clothes and the shackles that bind her hands.

Lysette looks ahead, her pale blonde hair blowing in the breeze.

Her blue eyes notice a small new town appearing in the mountains.

It is surrounded by walls and has only one entrance and one exit gate.

Since the birth of the dungeon, it has grown from a small village called Norun to a city of adventurers, merchants, and craftsmen from all over the world. The place is now managed by the Church of the Goddess.

The belief in a goddess who brings order and peace to the world is the most powerful religion in the world.

“If you pay the church 50 million gold, you will be cleansed of your sins—Do you have any last words?”

Lysette smiles as she turns around.

A beautiful green-haired girl dressed in white Saint’s clothing stands there.

—Saint Meldiana,

Lysette’s half-sister, the most precious treasure of the Church of the Goddess, with the Sacrament of the Goddess in her body

The Saint gives Lysette a loving smile.

“Thank you for your kindness and for seeing me off, Saint-sama.”

In the Church of the Goddess, there is no death penalty. The harshest punishment is to be sent to the dungeon territory, where a sinner is not permitted to leave until he or she has earned and paid the church for the gold earned.

Lysette was the Marquise of Claudis’ official heiress, but she was imprisoned for the mortal sin of insulting the saint.

It makes no difference whether this is true or not. When those suspicions surfaced, Lysette’s life was over. No one, not even Lysette’s family, assisted her.

Her grandfather, grandmother, and mother had all died, and her father, who had taken over the Claudis family after her mother’s death, was caring for his illegitimate daughter, Meldiana.

The father loved the daughter, who wasn’t descended from the Marquis line.

When the saint’s sign appeared in Lysette, he transferred the saint’s sign to Meldiana using an illegal technique because Meldiana wanted to become the saint.

And Lysette was dispatched as Sinner, as if to obliterate the evidence.

“Good day, everyone.”

They can take away her honor, status, and assets, but they can never take away her knowledge and pride. Lysette walked inside the gate.

without looking back once.

The sound of air rushing past Lysette’s ears the moment she stepped inside the gate.

Lysette raises her eyebrows briefly before continuing on her way. And a priest stands in the middle of the wide, deserted street.

“Welcome to Norun—Here is your identification card.”

Lysette’s shackles are first removed by the young priest, who is also her handler.

Then he takes a metal card from his pocket, small enough to fit in his palm, and hands it to Lysette.

The card is thin and gleams like it’s made of platinum.

It bears Lysette’s name, race, age, and the word 【Sinner】 inscribed on it. It even mentions 50 million gold pieces for atonement.

—Fifty million dollars in gold is enough money for the average citizen to live for two lifetimes. It might be possible if I were a marquess, but now that I’m on my own, it’s not an amount of money I can earn with a decent job.

And she can’t leave the Dungeon Realm as long as the word Sinner doesn’t vanish.

—This ID card controls the gates, which are surrounded by a magical wall. According to the carriage driver on the way here from the royal capital, criminals are not permitted to leave this realm.

Lysette can either spend the rest of her life in this dungeon, earn gold through menial labor, or seek redemption through death.

This is Lysette’s only option.

Lysette examines the back of the card, which lists her previous skills.

【Noble-Bloodline】

【Fire-magic (Beginner)】

【Manipulation-Magic】

—Magic… I was hoping for a vanguard, but… I think I can handle this one.

If you look closely, you can see a list of current skill points and skills that can be obtained.

Lysette secretly smiled when she saw 【Preemptive-Action】—a skill that allows you to take preemptive action when confronted with a monster.

“There is a way to collect holy coins without having to enter the perilous dungeon—Don’t give up (me)…”

“Thank you very much, Priest. Then I’ll go to the dungeon right away, so please be cautious when you return.”

“What? I’m not finished yet, hey!”

Lysette dashed past the priest who was attempting to keep her there and made her way to the dungeon’s entrance.

Outside the gate, the group that escorted Lysette here are still visible behind her, and she can feel Saint Meldiana’s gaze on her.

—I want to leave this place as soon as possible and go to the Dungeon.

Lysette kicks the ground and runs toward the city’s north end.

—To the Dungeon!

Chapter 2: The First Monster

The dungeon realm houses more than just criminals.

Rather, the proportion of criminals is very small.

Here live the original villagers, the merchants and craftsmen who keep the dungeon’s wealth, their families, and the adventurers who hope to make a fortune.

Lysette makes her way to the Dungeon, passing by these people.

From the earth rises a silvery-white, rocky mountain. A deep, dark pit in the ground. This is the dungeon’s entrance.

The entryway is well-kept and surrounded by cobblestones. The stairs are used by adventurers to enter and exit the dungeon.

The business was thriving.

“How wonderful! I’m madly in love…”

Lysette’s heart is pounding with excitement.

—It’s so lively that it appears to be like a tourist attraction in the royal capital, but the romance element is missing, but it’s minor.

“All right, then let’s…”

“Excuse me—Hey, could you come over here for a moment?”

Lysette is about to take a bold step forward when she hears a high, slow voice.

She turns to face the voice and sees a dark-haired, green-eyed elf in a black robe standing apart from the crowd, beckoning to Lysette.

She has a lovely face, as is typical of elves, but her demeanor is somewhat laid-back.

—Did I do something wrong? like not having manners before entering the dungeon?

“Hello. Can I help you?”

“You’re a rookie, aren’t you?”

As she looks at Lysette, her green eyes dart around. She looks to be completely human with the exception of her long, pointed ears.

However, the elf race lives ten times longer than humans. She may look like a girl, but she’s at least three times Lysette’s age.

“Yes—My name is Lysette. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“You’re a polite one—My name is Lanial Mador, and I am an alchemist.”

—Alchemist…one of those extraordinary individuals who create wondrous tools from the Dungeon Realm.

“Are you sure you’re going straight into the Dungeon, Lysette?”

“Yes, I am… I intend to, but am I breaking any etiquette rules?”

Despite having brought very little from home, Lysette’s clothes are comfortable and durable, and they are the only tangible possessions she could have brought with her.

It costs the same as a gown, but these aren’t just clothes. It’s also a memento from her grandmother, who has since passed away.

“You’re dressed nicely, but you’re not wearing any armor and don’t have a staff or a sword, do you? I can’t find anything on you, not even an item bag…”

Lysette is examined from head to toe by the alchemist, as if she were being evaluated.

“The Dungeon has no dress code, but it’s not a place where you can walk around casually, is it? You should first work outside to earn some money, purchase some equipment, and organize a party with your friends.”

She speaks slowly, but she says it all at once, leaving no room for jeers.

“That’s very kind of you, but I think I’ll be fine.”

“That’s insane. Do you have any evidence?”

“No, not at all.”

The alchemist is taken aback.

“Sigh, It can’t be helped. Here.”

A heart-shaped amulet is pressed against Lysette’s hand.

“This is a service for risk-taking newcomers. An item that will allow you to return after death

【Heart-Substitution】

“… No way. How could you have given me such a valuable item?”

“Ahaha, it’s not that valuable—If you wear it, you will teleport out of the dungeon and your life will be saved, but if you die, you may lose your items.”

However, it will still save your life.

Even if you lose items, you can still bring back experience and knowledge.

“As quests progress, 【Return Gate】 becomes increasingly important—so, once you’ve died and realized the dungeon is dangerous, come to my shop 【Black Cat’s Alchemy Pot】.”

“I certainly will.”

“Yes, good answer. And this is an item bag for storing your luggage as a gift.”

The alchemist girl hands her a worn leather bag she’s been carrying on her shoulder.

“It has the ability to completely fill any item. I believe it is around twenty.”

“T-Thank you very much! What are you doing for me? I don’t have anything to offer right now.”

“Hmm, I’m sure you’ll become a big customer over time, and you seem like a nice girl—Perhaps a small investment?”

She slants her head and smiles mischievously.

“Thank you kindly—I will unquestionably return the favor.”

“All right, then, have a good Dungeon life.”

—○█○—

She follows the crowd and descends the stairs that lead into the dungeon. A pale light illuminates the stairs.

The further she walks, the fewer people she encounters. There used to be so many people, but she was alone before she knew it.

—What happened to the people in front and behind? They must have gone elsewhere.

Lysette is unaffected and continues walking.

The cold air eventually transforms into something moist and warm.

Stones feel rough on the bottoms of her shoes at first, but they change over time to feel like packed earth.

Then light shines through the darkness and the walls and ceilings vanish.

Before she knew it, Lysette found herself alone in the deep forest.

“It’s fantastic…”

She heaved a sigh of admiration.

“It truly is another world within the dungeon. The outside world appears to be influenced by it as well… I’m not sure who or how they made this. The church claims it’s the goddess’ grace. “

As she walks and looks up. A sliver of light from the sky shines through the trees.

She can hear birds singing in the distance. The forest resembles the forests of her previous home territory. Dense, quiet, and vibrant.

She takes a leisurely stroll through the forest. Her steps are quick. Only herself and the dungeon are present here.

There are no ties or burdens from the outside world.

—Even the air tasted good, hm?

She suddenly had a bad feeling and took a step back instinctively. Three masses of green liquid fall on the spot where she was only a moment ago.

The splashing sounds are made as a liquid green mass bounces on the ground.

—Slime.

She would have been choked with slime on her head if she hadn’t pulled back.

She takes some distance from them as they bounce around like jelly.

—Calm down

Skill activation【Preemptive-Action】—Fire-magic activated.

Flame Arrow!”

In front of Lysette, a red flame splits into three parts, each of which becomes an arrow that pierces the slime.

The Flame Arrow erupted in flames, burning the slime to the ground.

Chapter 3: I’ll Try It!

“Did I win…?”

Lysette wonders as she stares at the charred, motionless slimes.

—I won!

There’s no denying it.

There is no trace of the monsters left.

“Thank goodness…”

She feels relieved.

—I’m glad I used all of my initial skill points to get 【Preemptive-Action】

—I won my first battle. I should be able to fight the lower-tier monsters if I can make a full-scale magic attack with my first move. I was fortunate to have acquired a spell that could perform an entire attack upon its initial acquisition.

“Well, this seems to work. Let’s proceed with caution.”

She then continues to explore the Dungeon Forest, using her flame arrows to kill slimes, giant insects, insectivorous flowers, and giant toads.

On the way, she picked up a dagger that had fallen on the road.

—It must have been dropped.

It appears to be a common dagger, but Lysette, who lacks the ability to appraise, has no idea how good it is.Nonetheless, it is a useful weapon. She puts the dagger through her belt.

“However, what a pleasant aroma…”

Lysette’s appetite is piqued by the indescribable spicy smell of roasting monsters.

—I’m curious if monsters can be eaten…

Her hunger grows as she considers this.

—Actually, I haven’t eaten anything in the last half-day.

—Even before that, I didn’t eat much because I’m a “sinner”…

“…”

She examined a freshly roasted toad.

It was browned and almost completely cooked through.

“B-But there’s no seasoning or sauce. There is no knife, fork, or plate…”

It isn’t pretty.

But, in this life-or-death situation, being petty is not an option.

Hunger and hunger make us rewrite our thoughts.

—In addition, when I was a child, my grandmother taught me how to live a survival life. The feeling of that time rushes back to me.

—It could be poisonous… My body may suffer negative consequences. But…

She looked around. There didn’t appear to be any other adventurers in the area besides Lysette.

Lysette returns to the small dagger (Unidentified) she had earlier picked up. She squeezes a large leaf from a nearby tree around the frog’s ankle to keep it in place.

The dagger blade is placed at the joint at the base of the leg and repeatedly inserted to cut it off.

“How bulky—It’s also very hot.”

The well-developed muscles weigh a lot. And the inside is scorching.

The skin is scraped away to reveal the flesh. The flesh was slightly pinkish-white, similar to chicken.

—I’ve eaten frogs before. Of course, they weren’t as large as these.

That’s why she didn’t feel much resistance.

Her heart was pounding with excitement.

The thrill, fear, or romance of the unknown.

“Thank you for the food…”

She bites into the meat as the steam rises.

There are no manners in this place. Etiquette teachers would be horrified if they saw her. However, that is most likely the best way to consume this meat.

Hot juices ooze from the meat when you bite into it. The light but flavorful juices soak into your hungry stomach.

—Delicious…

She’s about to burst into tears.

—There’s no odor… and there’s plenty of juice… I can’t seem to stop eating!

Suddenly…

A high-pitched sound like a violent ringing in her ears rang through the forest a moment after she was absorbed in her meal.

The atmosphere drastically changes, as if the idyllic spring forest has given way to winter.

Lysette looks up, meat in hand, and notices a black sphere floating nearby.

To defend oneself or attack the enemy, the surface is covered in thin, sharp spines.

It appears to be…

—A giant flying sea urchin!

She braces herself for an attack, fearing that the sting of the spines will be painful. The strange appearance is unlike anything Lysette has ever seen. It’s difficult to believe it’s a living thing.

A cold sweat runs down her back.

—Should I flee and try to get out of the dungeon?

Fighting a life-threatening opponent without a strategy is reckless. She can probably escape if she uses the 【Preemptive Strike】 skill.

—No…

Lysette recalled the alchemist’s gift,【Heart-Substitution】—You will be thrown out of the Dungeon even if you die here. In this dungeon, death is not the end.

Dying is terrifying. But fleeing is even scarier. If you flee here, you will never be able to return. Your mind will be enslaved by fear.

—I will forge my own path!

Lysette now has nothing to lose.

Her spirit is more liberated than any other. Power rises from the deepest part of her body.

【Preemptive-Action】

Lysette is determined to fight rather than flee.

—A flame more powerful than the Flame Arrow…

【Fire-magic (Beginner)】

Lysette is protected by a flame.

It’s a fierce flame, one that feels sacred.

Lysette made a thrusting stance.

【Manipulation-Magic】

Instead of concentrating the flame, it is concentrated into one. Yes, like a spear that slaughters its enemies.

“Flame-Lance!”

The magical flame strikes the giant sea urchin head-on. The center and surrounding spines are burned, and the giant sea urchin falls to the ground in a plume of white smoke.

The giant sea urchin’s body split in two as the flames died down.

And a large, gleaming amber stone lay in the center of the charred body.

Lysette is taken aback by the jewel-like glow.

“Did I win…?”

She thinks to herself. Nothing, however, can deny the proof of victory.

“Did I succeed? I won! I did it! —Aren’t I pretty amazing?”

The sea urchin’s black shell vanishes like mist before Lysette’s eyes. Only an amber-colored stone remains.

A gleaming gemstone-sized stone that can be lifted with both hands.

Then a blue ball of light floats directly above it.

She understood it as a matter of course when she saw the blue light. She should be able to return to the outside of the dungeon if she touches it.

And before she knew it, a stairway to the bottom appeared in the thicket of the forest.

—Should I go back like this or go further?

Lysette decided.

Chapter 4:Encounter in the Adventurer’s Guild

“Welcome to the Adventurers’ Guild! Please take out your ID card.”

Lysette is greeted by the receptionist’s cheerful voice.

The Adventurers’ Guild is a large and magnificent structure just outside the Dungeon.

This is the first time Lysette has set foot in the place where adventurers come and go as they explore the dungeon. The structure is large, clean, and busy.

The receptionist in a blue uniform who took her identification card over the counter smiled as she switched between the card and Lysette’s face.

“You must be new here, Lysette-san, and welcome to Norun.”

“Yes. Everything is new to me, so I’d appreciate it if you could show me around.”

“So you want to be an adventurer? Please place your hand on the board and wait a moment while we assess your current status and abilities.”

She complied by placing her hand on the silver metal plate on the reception desk. She can feel the cold metal on her skin.

—I wonder what this will tell me.

The receptionist, who is looking for something behind the counter, becomes serious in front of the excited Lysette.

“….Hmm? Huh?” What?! Have you already entered the Dungeon?”

—How did they find out?

She wonders if placing one’s hand on this board will reveal the status of the Dungeon.

—Interesting.

Lysette thought for a moment, but she was sure that common knowledge inside the dungeon was very different from common knowledge outside, so she answered the question.

“Yes—it was a fantastic experience.”

“Didn’t you go to a party right away?”

“No, I’m alone.”

The receptionist’s face turns pale.

“That’s… I’ve never heard of a beginner entering a dungeon by themselves and escaping safely. And at this level…”

She mumbles something and raises her head.

“Perhaps Lysette is gifted!”

“Thank you very much.”

She gratefully accepted the compliment.

“You should still organize a party first. There will be a recruitment fee, but you will have a much better chance of survival.”

The alchemist expressed the same sentiment.

They help each other by complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. If we can accomplish this, the efficiency of our search will skyrocket. A veteran may be able to teach you a lot if you hire one.

But there is one major issue.

—I have nothing to begin with, and gold.

“I would be happy to introduce you to some of our members if you wish.”

“Thank you very much. But I’d like to do some more exploring on my own.”

—I lack the gold to hire someone, and I lack the track record to persuade another party to hire me.

Only a good or bad guy would hire an inexperienced Lysette.

“Hehe, then you’re welcome to join our party.”

And when they approach you in this manner, it is usually not a good sign.

She turns to face the source of the voice and sees a man in his mid-twenties, who appears to be an adventurer, approach Lysette and place his arm on the counter, smiling broadly.

He must have spent a long time as an adventurer. He exudes a sense of familiarity. However, his equipment is in poor condition. His shoulder pads’ leather belt is badly damaged.

And it’s clear in his eyes. Whether he’s trying to exploit you or not.

—I’ve seen those eyes before, back when I was a nobleman.

“Thank you for your inquiry. But I don’t believe I can help your party, so I’ll have to decline.”

Life revolves around eating or being eaten.

You will be preyed upon if you accept kindness without knowing the difference between good and bad intentions.

“No, no, I can assist you.” I can assist you in repaying your debts.”

“:..How did you find out about my situation?”

“Hehe, everyone is aware.”

He gave a vulgar smile. His party members, three men on the other side of the room, looked at Lysette with similar eyes.

—There is no doubt that rumors of disgrace circulated. It was a dreadful baptism.

“Don’t be shy, come on.”

She was terrified when she felt a familiar hand reach out to touch her.

She was about to slap him away when

“Stop.”

A hand reaches out from the side and grabs the man’s arm.

He had a chiseled, well-shaped face and light-colored blond hair. He possessed fearless emerald green eyes, a well-trained, well-proportioned body, and immaculate armor. He carries a fine sword and a shield around his waist.

“This is not something you want to do. You shouldn’t force me.”

His tone is calm, but that is exactly what makes him so intimidating. The adventurer contorts his face and shakes off his arm.

“Chi, I’ll keep this in mind.”

He clicks his tongue and says a few words before leaving the guild. Following him were a group of men who appeared to be his party members.

“Thank you very much.”

“Be wary of people like that. You don’t want to provoke them.”

He leaves Lysette’s presence with a much calmer tone than before.

They appeared to be aware that Lysette was about to slap her hands to get rid of them, further complicating matters.

“Of course, there are people like him… What is his name?”

She inquired with the receptionist. She regains her composure and responds quietly.

“I’m not supposed to mention other adventurers, but… That’s Leonhardt-san. He is the leader of the group that is currently on the verge of conquering the dungeon.”

“Well, he’s a person who lives above the clouds.”

Leonhardt meets the members of his party.

A vanguard warrior, a knight, a pretty woman dressed as a healer, a beautiful woman with red hair who appears to be a mage, and a small man who appears to be a locksmith

It was a perfect party, and almost everyone had a well-bred atmosphere.

—Most likely aristocrats… And the locksmith was most likely a hired adventurer. What exactly are they doing in Dungeon?

—It’s all fascinating, but it’s not worth pondering.

Lysette returns her attention to the receptionist behind the counter.

—However, the fact that strange rumors are spreading is a serious matter. With this, it might be difficult to have a party.

Her gaze meets the receptionist’s.

The receptionist seems to have come to the same conclusion as Lysette.

“Well, I guess we’ll have to discuss party members another time.”

“Please do so.”

“How about we start with a simple quest?”

“Quest?”

“Yes. Quests from both inside and outside the area are posted on the bulletin board. Please notify the receptionists if you discover something you believe you can do. If you complete the quest, you will be rewarded with gold.”

A large wooden bulletin board covering the cream-yellow colored wall is covered with a large number of papers with the details of the quests. Adventurers who came to the guild scrutinized and examined them thoroughly.

The papers listed the items to be queried, as well as the deadlines and rewards. Some of them are for finding people, and some of them have portraits drawn on them.

“Yes, I see—Is this a gathering quest? I’m not sure if this is the correct item.”

She pulls an item from her item bag that resembles the one she found in the dungeon. It is a material that Lysette describes as a “blue puffy sphere” that was dropped when she killed the monster.

“Y-Yes. The delivery has been confirmed. Here is your 2,000 gold reward.”

Two thousand gold coins.

Lysette was taken aback by how quickly she had been paid. She had no idea it would be so simple to obtain gold.

—It’s a good thing I got them just in case.

“As well as this one, this one, this one, and this one.”

“Eh? Oh my God.”

She pulls out a number of items that appear to be relevant to the quests and places them on the counter.

“I-I have confirmed deliveries! These are worth 16,000 gold pieces!”

Chapter 5: Black Cat’s Alchemy Pot

Lysette leaves the Adventurer’s Guild for the Alchemist’s Shop, 【Black Cat Alchemy Pot】. She checks the map she got from the receptionist.

She has earned a decent amount of money by delivering the requested goods—not quite 50 million gold, but enough to set aside for dungeoneering.

“…”

Lysette raises an eyebrow as she walks down the main street, which is lined with adventure stores.

—I’m being followed…

She feels a strange presence behind her.

She can feel the presence of others, no matter how many people pass by. When she comes to a halt, they come to a halt as well, and when she turns a corner, they walk faster.

—Does it have anything to do with rumors about me? Is this a church official?

—In any case, it appears impossible to find a place to stay and eat and sleep carelessly.

As she walks around thinking about it, she comes across a small building with the sign【Black Cat’s Alchemy Pot】

Lysette enters the building after knocking on the heavy chocolate-colored door. The front door is unlocked.

The dimly lit shop is quiet and deserted. On the contrary, neither the owner nor any of the employees were present.

It was a small establishment. There were shelves, but only a few items that appeared to be products were displayed.

“Um, excuse me, is there anyone here?”

She calls out to the back of the store, but no one answers.

—Maybe they went out and left the door unlocked. If that’s the case, they’re far too careless.

—But what is that odor?

A sweet and spicy aroma wafts from the back of the store.

Boom!

Then, in the back of the store, there was a small explosion.

“F-Fire?!”

As a whitish cloud of smoke wafted in, Lysette immediately opened the door. If there was a fire, she needed to get out quickly to prevent the smoke from filling the room.

However, the smoke quickly dissipated, leaving only a burning odor.

“Wahaha, failed, failed, failed.”

A nervous laugh escapes the store, and a dark-haired elf emerges from the back. She wipes the soot from her face with a towel.

“We’ve had a visitor? Ah! It’s Lysette! It’s great to see you!”

A bright, tanned smile shines in the dimly lit shop.

Lanial Mador, the alchemist, leans forward on the chair behind the counter, her knees on the seat. Her green eyes glisten.

“Um, it appears that something just exploded…”

“As always, as always! So how was the dungeon? “

“As always, huh… Ah yes, the dungeon was a fantastic experience.

“I see… I see—Will you please close the door?”

Lysette obeys, closing the door behind her and returning to the counter.

“Whoa!”

The moment her green eyes meet the alchemist’s, the alchemist’s eyes widen and she falls out of her chair.

“Um, are you okay…?”

“Hey, hey, hey… How did you get so strong?!”

“Eh?”

“It’s unusual for a beginner to dive solo once and return safely!”

She recognizes Lysette’s status for some reason.

The alchemist sat down on the floor in front of Lysette, who was confused, and clapped her hands.

“Ah, I see. The 【Noble-Bloodline】 skill. That’s how you get your skill points to triple. This Lanial Mador’s eyes are sharp, you know.”

“Eh?! Does this skill have such an effect? No, more importantly, how did you…”

“B-Because I used my “appraisal skill” on you.”

“Appraisal skill?”

“I can appraise both people and items. If there is anything else I can help you with, I will do an appraisal for a fee~”

—Appraisal skill? I believe it was on the list of available skills… Should I get it right away? No, I can get an appraisal here, so I’ll put it on hold for the time being. But… it appears to be extremely useful!

While Lysette is pondering, the alchemist sits back in her chair and rests her elbows on the counter.

“So you are a nobleman after all—why would a nobleman be in the Dungeon?”

“The Goddess’s Church sent me to the Dungeon.”

“As one would expect.”

“Yes, life is full of unexpected twists and turns.”

“The people who sent you to the dungeon probably didn’t think you’d honestly dive into the dungeon—They probably wanted you to work with adventurers.”

Of course, Lysette had anticipated this. That’s why she ran as fast as she could away from the church officials before they offered her a job she didn’t want.

However, it appears that they were one step ahead. There are now slanderous rumors going around.

—If I don’t do something about it, it will be difficult to move from now on.

Nonetheless, she finds it frustrating that she has no control over the situation.

“For the time being, Lanial-san, I’d like to pay for the items.”

“No, no, it’s all right. It’s a service.”

“But…”

“Well, can you sell me the magic stone that appears when you defeat the bosses in the levels? They are very valuable, and I asked the Adventurer’s Guild for them, but they didn’t come.

“Are you referring to these magical stones?”

She brings out the amber stone dropped by a giant flying sea urchin monster from the item bag and places it on the counter.

The alchemist falls back into her chair again.

“Um, are you okay?”

She peered behind the counter and noticed the alchemist laughing as she collapsed on the floor.

“Wahaha, you’re so awesome! You have a talent for conquering dungeons! “

“Thank you very much—entering a dungeon has been my dream since I was a child.”

“No, no, it’s not a place for young ladies, is it?!”

“When I was younger, my grandmother was an adventurer. I, too, had hoped to visit the dungeon someday. I’ve been training in the forest with my grandmother since I was a child.”

Her heart is filled with nostalgia. Those were the happiest days of her life. Perhaps it was because of those days that she was able to act fearlessly in Dungeon.

“But training and fighting are not the same thing. I knew common sense didn’t apply in the dungeon, but I didn’t expect it to be this bad.”

—However, this is also an advantage.

“I have a question for Lanial-san: is there any medicine that can help you recover your magical power?”

“Yes, an Aether potion that restores the body’s magical power.”

“Then please give me as much as this will allow me to buy.”

She handed out all the gold she got for the quests.

“No, no, no! It’s way out of balance!”

The alchemist exclaims, holding her head.

“However, how long do you intend to stay in the dungeon? It’s customary to keep recovery potion, aether potion if you’re a magic user, anti-poison grass, return-gate, heart-substitution, and food in the item bag! Aside from that, sleeping bags are required!”

“Ah, I see. Along with the ether potion, I’ll need a knife, a frying pan, dishes, salt, and spices. Do you have a sleeping bag?”

“Are you camping inside?! No way! Were you paying attention to others?!”

“Yes, but I don’t want to go back to the ground as much as possible because of a minor problem, so I decided to stay in the dungeon for a while.”

Strange rumors are circulating on the ground. On top of that, she had been followed earlier.

For Lysette, the outside world is now more dangerous than the inside of the dungeon. She intended to remain in the dungeon until things calmed down.

“Ha~a… I understand. Then this cookware set is for you. It’s simple to pack because everything is in one place.”

The alchemist brought knives and cooking utensils in a deep frying pan with a lid.

Other items include aether potions, salt, sugar, and spices, as well as a fluffy sleeping bag.

With the alchemist’s recommended equipment, Lysette headed back to the dungeon, regardless of whether she was being followed.

Chapter 6: The Pleasure of Saint Meldiana【Side:Meldiana】

Time rewinds a little.

Saint Meldiana is in a good mood as she returns from sending the sinner Lysette to the Dungeon Realm.

The carriage is as luxurious as royalty, with thick cushions to absorb all of the road’s shock and fatigue.

The carriage is now on its way to the capital, where a ceremony will be held to repair the barrier.

—Ah, Onee-sama is finally gone! How refreshing!

She is overjoyed but does not express it.

—Poor Onee-sama has to live in such a deplorable environment.

Meldiana and the church were “kind” to her and did not force her to enter the dungeon.

However, they are considering selling her body to unscrupulous adventurers. And let her body and soul be shattered.

Because Lysette has committed a heinous crime.

—Onee-sama had everything I was looking for… Onee-sama is the one who is being unjust. This is the punishment she deserves. Punishment for being the only person who lived in luxury without me until I returned. She deserved it.

Meldiana’s mother worked as a maid in the Claudis household. She had a child with the head of the family’s son-in-law, ran away, and raised Meldiana alone while working in a tavern.

When the head of the household died, Meldiana’s father, who was now acting as marquess, came to the slum to pick her up.

Her mother, however, had died not long before.

Her mother had faith in her father until the end, but he did not arrive on time.

The Marquise took Meldiana in, but the reception of Meldiana, who did not have a drop of the Marquise’s blood in her veins, was not flattering.

But, Meldiana was treated well by her father, the acting head of the family, and her sister Lysette.

…Meldiana, on the other hand, was unable to accept this.

Her father and sister gave her everything she wanted.

Because they recognize Meldiana as a weak being, they can love her as if she were a pet.

She holds a grudge against Lysette in particular.

—How could Onee-sama have everything while I was left with nothing, despite the fact that we shared a father?

That’s how she made her decision.

She desired to take everything she possessed.

Her father assisted her in this endeavor. He was an ordinary man, but he had a deep love for Meldiana. Perhaps he was atoning for her mother’s death.

“Hahaha.”

Meldiana burst out laughing.

This was the pinnacle of Meldiana’s happiness.

The saint’s group stops at a church between Norun and the capital to perform a blessing ceremony and break.

The blessing ceremony is a holy ritual that can only be done by Saint Meldiana.

Meldiana mulls over this as she and her attendants make their way to the guest room.

—It’s a rural church… I wish we could just leave this place.

Meldiana thinks that the pilgrimage would be easier if they only had to protect the area around the royal city and the rich lands.

“You must be exhausted from your long journey—please rest here to recover from your exhaustion.”

“Thank you very much.”

She walked into the guest room and smiled at one of the Saint’s guards, a church knight with slightly flushed cheeks.

Meldiana was well aware of her beauty. She was also aware of the impact that her facial expressions and gestures could have.

But that didn’t mean she’d try to please everyone. Only the strong and beautiful, and this church knight is a sight to behold.

“Even so, I can’t believe Saint-sama accompanied the Sinner personally.”

“…Yes, it was terrifying, but… But she was a member of my family. It was my responsibility to accompany her until the end.

“How generous… to show mercy even to the great sinner who harmed the Saint.”

Meldiana smiles briefly.

“Don’t worry. Anyone who harms Saint-sama will never come out of the Dungeon Realm again.”

“Yes… but… I’m scared—I’m afraid Onee-sama is plotting vengeance against me…”

“That’s…”

“I know that Onee-sama will never come out of that place again… But Onee-sama is more terrifying than the Killing Bear. She might use terrible magic or people to kill me…”

“Saint-sama…”

“I’m sorry…”

She shakes her head and wipes her eyes, enraging not only the knight but also her attendants. The saints are the most noble and vulnerable beings on the planet.

“Rest assured, Saint-sama. Leave everything to me. I, Douglas, will protect you.”

Meldiana smiled when she heard of his firm determination. Lysette would now be actively pursued by the Church Knight.

If Meldiana wants to, everything will go her way because the Saint is at the top of the world.

—You got what you deserved, Onee-sama. You took the mark that should have appeared to me. It was just returned to me.

The holy mark, the proof of the saint, appeared to Lysette rather than Meldiana.

Meldiana was enraged that Lysette, not Meldiana, had been chosen as the saint.

And, before it became public, she had a dark elf black magician implant the holy mark.

—I was simply correcting a mistake. It is an act of justice. I’ve corrected the Goddess’s mistake.

This world is riddled with curses.

This world exists because the Goddess’ Barrier holds back the curse that comes from the earth.

However, the barrier can be damaged and broken, which weakens it. And the saint is tasked with restoring the barrier.

Without the Saint, all lands and countries are cursed to perish.

The Saint is more valuable and precious than royalty.

The original purpose of Meldiana’s journey was to restore the barrier.

It is a miraculous power that only a saint can perform, bringing the power of the Goddess down to the host body and blessing the earth with that power.

The next day, Meldiana attempted to use the power of the saints in front of the Goddess statue in the cathedral the day after her arrival.

She tried to bring down the power of the Goddess, but no matter how much she prayed, there was no sign of the Goddess’s power coming down.

Meldiana is skeptical.

Normally, the sacrament provides power, but nothing happens. The people around her become restless when nothing happens. even if they don’t express it explicitly.

“I don’t think I’m feeling well today.”

Meldiana walks away from the statue.

The cathedral’s priests and knights are stunned and dismayed by her words, and their uncanny appearance incites Meldiana’s rage.

“What’s the matter with your face?! disrespectful! Your lack of prayer is the cause of the lack of blessing!”

Meldiana exclaimed in exasperation.

—How vexing! Everyone except me is incompetent, as if I’m to blame!

Meldiana angrily left the cathedral.

—I hope this place is destroyed!

She thinks strongly.

She didn’t dwell on why the goddess’s power hadn’t been bestowed upon her.

All she could think about was how the goddess had abandoned this land because the people who lived there were faithless.

Chapter 7: Dungeon Life Is Pleasant

The dungeon is alive.

It is alive and changing all the time.

Even if you enter through the same entrance as before, you exit at a different location. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the overall impression of the landscape.

Lysette is once again looking out at a forest. The forest was shallower this time around, and there was more light coming in.

Lysette moves in a circular motion through the first layer. She walks on the soft ground and uses preemptive attack magic to burn giant insects, slime, and frogs.

She gradually comes to understand what the dungeon is.

Perhaps there is no such thing as a day in the dungeon. The sky is always blue, and it never gets dark because she has never seen the night.

She found it inconvenient that the time seemed to be off.

“I think it’s time to eat.”

She mumbles, clearly hungry.

and looking at the frog monster with a burning head.

Although a pond is close by, Lysette decides to cook in a sunny spot on the border between the forest and the pond, fearful of the monsters emerging from the pond.

The ingredients are the same as before, but this time she decides to cook them thoroughly using the new cooking utensils she bought.

Her intended target is the thigh. The legs are cut up after being removed with a knife.

—Yes. Lovely pink color.

She seasoned the thighs with salt and spices before frying them. Start a fire on the ground with flame magic and place the frying pan on it.

When the pan is hot, she carefully places the brown thighs in it, followed by a lid on top. She then lowers the heat to slowly cook the thighs until they are fully cooked.

“I wonder if it’s almost done.”

As she lifts the lid, the steam and aroma fill the air.

“It does look delicious. Itadakimasu!”

Taking care not to burn herself, she uses a knife and fork to cut the meat. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and place them in her mouth.

—It’s delicious, as expected~

Her cheeks sag as the juices from the meat overflow.

The salt and spices are also working well.

She can’t stop eating.

“It’s light and has no bad smell. Perhaps it’s the water. And it appears to have rejuvenating properties…”

It felt like her magic power that had been reduced was being restored at a faster rate by her body. and vitality as well.

—Come to think of it, I had a similar energy surge when I defeated the giant flying sea urchin in the previous exploration.

“Could monster dishes have the ability to heal and strengthen the body and magic?”

In that case, Monster Cuisine is also extremely useful for dungeon exploration.

“Gochisōsamadeshita. This is something I need to experiment with and look into further!”

Lysette is having a good time. Like a child, she was excited because of a world of unknowns and possibilities unfolding before her eyes.

Lysette was now drawn to the dungeon rather than the surface. There is freedom here, though bound by a 50 million gold fine.

The dungeon was quieter, safer, and cleaner than the outside world. So much so that she never wants to go back.

The entity that pursued Lysette is also a source of concern.

—Maybe church people…

or those who had heard the rumors

Lysette sighs.

—I wonder if Meldiana isn’t content with simply sending me to the dungeon… Isn’t it enough that she received the Sacred Mark and was dubbed a Saint?

The illegitimate child of a father who took her into her family home—a girl who was innocent and lovely at first, but gradually revealed her true nature while still looking lovely.

“You’re not treating me fairly, Onee-sama!”

She begged Lysette for everything she had.

It all started with clothes. Then there are the room accessories. Her own personal maid, furniture for her room

Her father would be furious if she refused.

And before long, all that remained in Lysette’s room were the bare necessities of life.

Meldiana then desired Lysette’s fiancé, a legitimate son of a duke. He was a handsome man who was eager to consolidate his power.

However, since Meldiana did not have Marquise blood in her, she was not fit to be the next duke’s fiancée.

On the other hand, Meldiana was clearly in love with the next duke.

The next duke secretly met Meldiana and presented her with gifts. It was a little too friendly for a future sister-in-law.

The next is that she wanted the sacred mark of the saint that had appeared on Lysette’s body.

They summoned a “black magician dark elf” and took Lysette’s sacred mark and implanted it in Meldiana’s body.

Meldiana thus became the Saint.

Lysette’s fiancée also ended their engagement and became engaged to Meldiana.

Nobody remembers when the sacred mark of the saint first appeared on Lysette’s body and the black magician vanished.

Lysette was then imprisoned for insulting the saint and breaking her heart, and this is where she is today.

—Everything has been done in accordance with Meldiana’s wishes.

Meldiana is the world’s queen.

The world above has become a place Lysette no longer wishes to return to.

“Yes—I don’t have to leave!”

If you don’t want to return to the ground, don’t.

In Dungeon, nothing is impossible.

Lysette quickly acquires skills by using her extra skill points.

【Appraisal】【Purification-Magic】【Barrier-Magic】

“All right, this should keep me going for a while—things will calm down if I don’t go out for a while.”

She won’t have to cry over bad hygiene with the skill 【Purification-Magic】. She can sleep peacefully now that she has 【Barrier】. If she is unsure about something, she can obtain information by using【Appraisal】.

In other words, these are the necessary skills for surviving in the Dungeon.

“Ara? It looks like I’ve acquired a new magic as well. 【Water-Magic (Beginner)】I’m curious if I got it when I leveled up. It appears to be more manageable than flames…”

Then,

She glances at a dead frog and casts her magic.

“Freeze.”

The remains of the frog are magically encased in a block of ice. The cool air gently touches Lysette’s skin.

“Ah, I see. Ice, in general, is water.”

She throws the block of ice into the pond. As the ice melts, it will become food for the underwater monsters.

“Next is 【Purification-Magic】”

When she tried 【Purification-Magic】 on her dirty hands, she found her dirty hands became shiny and clean, as if they had just been washed. When she applied it to her body and clothes, they appeared as clean as if she had just washed them after a bath.

“A-Amazing!”

That was possibly the best impression she’d ever made.

She then used 【Barrier-Magic】, which caused a transparent wall to appear around Lysette. When she lightly tapped it, it felt firm but elastic.

When she considers releasing it, the wall vanishes.

“Yes, I believe I can sleep soundly.”

Her fears disappear for the time being, and life in the dungeon becomes a reality. She lived a life of freedom that she did not have as an aristocrat. especially the freedom she couldn’t have in her teens.

—Freedom.

—How lovely it sounds.

—If I had been a saint, I might not have had this much freedom.

—I’m curious how Meldiana is doing.

Such a thought suddenly occurred to her, along with joy.

Even after all this, family is still family. She is still her younger sister.

—I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned.

The saint is a vessel for the goddess’s power.

People respect her, as do kings and popes, but saints are not treated as human beings.

And it is not the saint herself who is significant. It is the Goddess’s power that comes to her.

As a result, the saint is disposable when she abuses her powers or when her miraculous abilities wane.

When a saint dies, a new saint is born somewhere else, and some saints are buried in obscurity because they are deemed insufficient.

—I believe she’ll be fine.

It is rare for a saint to lose her power. Meldiana is also well-mannered and well-known.

Lysette is now enjoying her life in Dungeon without any worries.

Chapter 8: Unicorn likes purity

“I slept well, as expected from this recommended sleeping bag!”

Although the dungeon lacks morning and night, humans require sleep. Lysette falls asleep in her sleeping bag inside the 【Barrier-Magic】 and awakens feeling revitalized.

The view before her eyes is the same as it was before she fell asleep. Located between the pond and the woods. And the sky is as blue as it has always been.

“I will now enjoy the Dungeon’s blessings, but meat alone is not nutritious… Fruits and vegetables are still required…”

She packs her sleeping bag and prepares to leave while thinking.

—My grandmother had lectured me on edible plants, but this is a dungeon, and I shouldn’t expect the outside world’s common sense to prevail.

—If you see fruits, consider them a trap for plant-based monsters.

“First and foremost, let us act. Let’s go deep into the woods.”

With her luggage on her back, she set out to explore the depths of the forest. It was like going for a walk. It was peaceful.

—It’s far too quiet.

Lysette was walking through the forest when she realized she hadn’t seen a single monster today. There’s no slime, jumping frogs, or flying insects.

—Perhaps the monsters are avoiding me because my level has increased?

If this is the case, it is a serious issue. If she can’t get food, her time in the dungeon will be up.

She has resolved to eliminate all signs of the monsters. If this continues, she may have to resort to traps.

As she walks quietly through the forest, she hears sounds other than her own.

She hides behind a tree and quietly peers out, spotting a figure deep in the forest.

—An adventurer or a monster?

She investigates further to determine whether it is an adventurer or a monster. She then realizes it isn’t human. It was humanoid in shape, but its surface was covered in brown mushrooms.

—I believe it’s Mai… Mai…

She frantically searched for her memories.

Then she recalls her grandmother telling her about these things.

—Yes, maitake mushrooms! According to my grandmother, the brown maitake is so delicious that it makes you want to dance!

The correct term is Myconid, but Lysette has no time to second-guess herself. Therefore, she didn’t use【Appraisal】

【Preemptive-Action】【Fire-magic(Intermediate)】【Manipulation-Magic】

“Flame-Lance!”

She throws a flaming spear at the myconid as soon as she steps out. The large spear pierces Myconid’s center, knocking him out.

“A-a~h… What a delectable aroma.”

She dashes to the myconid and gathers mushrooms from the surface, placing them in a burlap sack. She examines the myconid more closely, and it appears to be a humanoid old log that has turned into a mushroom patch. She is relieved that it’s not a living organism being used as mycorrhizal beds.

“I can’t eat this much… oh, I know! Let’s lightly dry them for preservation.”

She continued her search after collecting the mushrooms and came upon another pond.

The water was clear and transparent, and it appeared to be safe to drink.

As Lysette walks around the spring, she finds a strange big rock with a lot of scratches and white powder around it. It looks like it was used to sharpen something.

—I’m curious if the monster is sharpening its horns or claws.

The boulder’s scratches are still fresh. It’s possible that the monster is nearby.

She continued her search with caution, wary of the monster, and discovered an area covered in the same type of grass.

The leaves are deep green, with slightly reddish stems, and the grass appears to be familiar.

—Could this be a patch of anti-poison grass?!

【Appraisal】 anti-poison grass.

It should not be harmful to the human body if it is anti-poison grass. So she picked one, cast a purification magic spell on it, and ate it.

The leaves are paper thin. They become crispy when chewed, and the crunchy texture is enjoyable. They’re a little bitter, but they’re tasty.

“Nom, the freshness—I could use them in salads and soups…”

She then harvested the ones that appeared to be tasty. Taking care not to include any other grasses and being cautious not to take too much.

She’d like to turn the area into a cultivation field, but she’s not sure if she’ll be able to return, and she tries not to take too much, in consideration of the adventurers coming next and the dungeon ecosystem.

She was eagerly harvesting when she felt a gaze and looked up.

And a lovely white horse stands by the spring.

—What a lovely horse…

She can’t help but be taken in by its beauty.

Its pure white fur glistened in the light, lending it a divine beauty.

However, regardless of how beautiful they are, the majority of the animals in the dungeon are monsters.

A long horn that sprouts from the monster’s brows is razor-sharp and viciously pointed. It looks like a spear that has killed many people. Perhaps the boulder has sharpened it. An armored person would be pierced through by such a thrust by these horn.

Besides, it’ll be no laughing matter if kicked with a fine hoof and thick legs.

【Appraisal】 Unicorn. A horse monster with a single horn protruding from its brow. A fearless and ferocious horse monster who only sleeps on the lap of a pure maiden.

—What exactly is that?!

The last sentence makes her scream in her heart. What exactly is a pure maiden? What is its meaning? In any case, if the unicorn does not like you, you will be kicked or horned to death.

—Neither of these appeal to me!

Lysette is terrified, but she slowly leaves so that Unicorn does not notice.

But her gaze meets the unicorn’s, and they exchange a silent stare.

The Unicorn approaches Lysette slowly and calmly, showing no signs of ferocity.

Their hearts seem to be in sync, and…

“Freeze-Lance!”

(Lol)

From above, a sharp ice spear pierced the unicorn’s head.

The Dungeon is the jungle’s law. It will kill you if you give it a chance.

“Sigh, It’s a lovely horse. And those horns are really beautiful.”

She breathes a sigh of admiration as she continues with the appraisal.

【Appraisal】 Unicorn’s horn. It can purify poison and water.

“Wonderful! It could be used for madler or cooking.”

Her main worry is food poisoning. It will make cooking safer if it can purify water and remove monster poisons.

“It could also be used in areas prone to drought. How many people would be saved if they could drink clean water… We need to take care of this.”

She decides to turn it into a walking stick and keep it on her person at all times.

“While we’re on the subject of horses… horse oil. That’s right… You get the fat out from under the mane…Hm… Is it safe to make soap? or as a hair oil? Perhaps even cooking oil?!”

She then cut off the fat and wrapped a large leaf around it for storage.

She then cut the meat off, which was a lot for a whole horse. It was not a quantity that could be consumed by a single person.

—I’m curious how much I could fit in my item bag.

Except for those that will be consumed and those that will be preserved. But she was forced to return the rest to the dungeon. Other creatures will undoubtedly consume it.

After the meat has been roughly chopped, it is time to prepare the dish.

The meat is thinly sliced with a knife and cut into bite-sized pieces.

She starts a fire and places a frying pan on top of it, and the horse fat melts in no time.

She seasoned the meat with salt and spices before sautéing it with mushrooms and anti-poison grass.

The unicorn meat stir-fry with vegetables is now complete.

“Let’s eat!”

As she took a bite, Lysette’s cheeks flushed and her eyes relaxed.

“It melted in my mouth… delicious!”

The unicorn’s meat is so soft that it melts in your mouth, and the anti-poison grass hides the smell of the meat.

The mushrooms soak up the oil from the meat well, but they still retain their aroma and texture.

“Excellent! It’s fantastic!”

Lysette ate the entire dish. with a few tears in her eyes. Even as a noblewoman, she had never tasted anything so delectable.

And it wasn’t just tasty. It warms you from the inside out and gives you a lot of energy.

“Phew… Thank you for the food.”

After Lysette ate all of the stir-fried unicorn meat and vegetables, she thanked the dungeon very much.

Chapter 9: The second layer is the water area

“…I think it’s time to raise the stakes…”

That’s what Lysette thinks after spending a long time in the dungeon.

Her sense of time was a little hazy, but she’d been in the dungeon for quite some time. Approximately 20 days.

She is hopeful that she will be considered dead on the surface because she has not left the dungeon for so long.

And she had a lot of things that could be sold for money.

At this point, she decides to go back to the surface to get some gold, gather information, and buy the things she needs.

“All right, let’s take one last look at the second layer before we go.”

She decided to do so and set out in search of the stairs that led down, which she soon discovered. It’s as if they were there because Lysette wanted them to be.

She was a little disappointed this time because there were no giant flying sea urchins nearby.

—Come to think of it, I never met another adventurer.

She’s curious if she’ll see anyone on the next layer.

Lysette went down the stairs, more nervous than usual but also more excited about the unknown dungeon.

The dungeon’s first level was a forest, but the second level had a different environment. The ground was stone rather than earth, there was no sky above but a ceiling, and the majority of the area was covered in water.

It felt like she was in an underground aqueduct.

Fortunately, she didn’t need a lamp because there was so much light coming through the moss growing everywhere.

“It’s amazing how quickly things can change. I’m curious about what’s going on here.”

She looked down at the water.

The water is absolutely clear. She can see fish swimming in the water but not the bottom. Maybe it’s deeper than she thought. There was also a distinct salty odor.

【Appraisal】 Seawater. Salt, trace metals, and aether are present.

“Seawater…? How could there be seawater here?”

The Dungeon is located in the mountains. The ocean is a long way away. This far out, there is no way to get seawater. That means the seawater is created within the dungeon.

“The dungeon is truly another world.”

Lysette shakes her head. She’s taken aback.

She was supposed to take a quick look around and then return, but she was convinced it was better to take a closer look and continue down the aisle.

“The footholds aren’t great… It’s extremely slippery due to the seaweed and other debris. Monsters may appear from behind… Hmm, that’s right!”

【Water-Magic(Beginner)】【Manipulation-Magic】

“Freeze!”

The entire surface of the water freezes over as far as the eye can see. The ice is thick, and she tested it by putting her foot on it, then standing on it with both feet, but it showed no signs of cracking.

“Yes, a huge success!”

She is now free to go anywhere.

Lysette’s quick stride takes her onto the ice, where a frozen fish is stuck to her feet.

It was her first encounter with a fish. It had a toad-like face and gills that were extremely well developed. similar to wings

【Appraisal】 Water Reaper. A type of fish with blade-shaped gills. It swims like it’s flying across the water’s surface. Fierce and lethal.

And she spotted three large fish heads protruding from the ice nearby. And these fish are wielding spears.

【Appraisal】 Merman. Fish that have evolved into humanoids. They are both dexterous and vicious. They hunt in packs, armed with weapons.

—They’re vicious, vicious monsters.

They’re now paralyzed from the neck down, but you can never be too cautious.

“Frame Arrow!”

She casts fire magic from a safe distance.

Since her opponent was a monster that lived in the water, the fire magic worked very well. When the fire arrow hit the mermen, it let out a lot of steam and roasted them whole.

“…”

Lysette felt conflicted when she saw the mermen roasted to a golden brown.

She couldn’t stomach eating a humanoid monster.

But she doesn’t consider the mermen to be human in the least. She only sees them as fish monsters.

—Because they make me think of humans?

The way they appear, the manner in which they employ tools

—Does my heart reject it because it feels like a human?

—However, if I’m starving to death, I’ll eat to be alive.

That is how voracious her appetite is.

When the icy ground is about to melt, Lysette uses her magic to repeatedly freeze it and move deeper and deeper.

Her level increases slightly with each monster she freezes, possibly because she freezes them in groups.

Water, stone walls, and stone paths are the only things that can be found everywhere, and there is no diversity like in a forest.

—I wonder if there is some kind of magic that allows me to go into the water and see things differently. But I’m sure I’ll be outmatched by fish monsters.

The water reaper, too.It’ll most likely kill her in an instant.

As she progresses, she remains vigilant and keeps an eye on her footing. She knows it’s reckless, but she keeps going because the elven alchemist gave her the 【Heart-Substitution】, which says it’s okay to die.

Even though she is aware that it is a dangerous lifeline, her inquisitive mind will not be deterred.

Lysette discovered a strange door as she went deeper. A door that appears to float on the water and is unrelated to the passage.

—A secluded room…I don’t understand. Could it be a secret area?

Patterns of ancient characters were carved into the door. Lysette moves her gaze to the front door. But, Lysette is unable to read ancient characters.

And appraisal reveals nothing.

Lysette then puts both hands on the door.

—This type of mechanism should be activated by pressing a switch or by pouring magic power into it.

【Manipulation-Magic】

As she poured magic power into them, the ancient characters began to glow pale green.

Lysette poured more magic power into the characters and was relieved when they all lit up and the door shook slightly.

She then pushed open the door, which opened inward.

“I did it!”

She opened the door slowly, keeping the danger of traps in mind, and then went inside.

There is a room inside. She doesn’t have to worry about lighting because glowing moss grows here as well.

—Is this, after all, a secret area? Perhaps there are still some hidden treasures?

Her excitement reaches new heights. She could pay off her debts immediately if she could get her hands on the precious treasures. She will then be liberated.

Lysette notices something as she walks along in a good mood.

There are several footprints on the floor, which she notices. Not the old ones, but the more recent ones.

And her excitement is gradually fading.

And Lysette witnessed something incredible. But she understands that this is normal in the dungeon.

A human body that has collapsed and is motionless.

—Dead?!

—A corpse?!

For a brief moment, she mistook it for a monster impersonating such a thing. She wanted to believe it.

She approached it with caution and fear.

When she got a better look, she noticed it was a young man in armor with golden hair.

And she recognized the figure, as well as the sword and shield.

He had approached her at the Adventurers’ Guild.

His name was…

“Leonhardt-san?!”

Chapter 10: Light Soup

When Lysette first joined the Adventurers’ Guild, she got in trouble with another adventurer and Leonhardt helped her out.

The guild receptionist informed her that Leonhardt was the leader of the party that was on the verge of conquering the dungeon.

—Why was he alone?

The footprints that surrounded him belonged to more than one person. The other members may have escaped, leaving him alone and trapped.

She dashed over to him, sat next to him, and placed her hand over his mouth to check his breathing.

She also placed her hand on his neck and felt his pulse just to be sure.

—He’s breathing.

“Thank you, God…”

She feels relieved, and her tense body relaxes.

However, he is still in danger.

—I must save him… but I am unable to use Recovery Magic… It’s not even on my skill list.

For the time being, he must be treated. There is a great deal of work to be done.

A closer look shows that he is very weak, but he doesn’t have any serious wounds or bleeding.

【Appraisal】Dying. Hungry. lack of magic power.

—Hunger and lack of magic power… You can die of starvation no matter how strong you are.

—I will not let you die.

Lysette is determined not to let Leonhardt die and begins to treat him.

【Purification-Magic】

【Water-Magic (Beginner)】

First and foremost, she needed to improve the sanitary conditions.

Then there’s water. The water in this area is salt water because it is seawater. What she needs now is fresh water.

She takes out a cup and fills it with fresh water using water magic.

—If I force an unconscious person to drink it, it may enter his windpipe.

She paused for a moment before casting a new spell.

【Manipulation-Magic】

A small ball of water is formed next to Leonhardt’s mouth, allowing one drop at a time to enter. The water ball is filled with recovery potion and sweet nectar from the first layer. She then added some of the aether potion into the sphere.

She tastes the water and finds that it has a light floral aroma.

This should quench his thirst and provide him with magical power. At the very least, he won’t get any worse.

“Let’s cook something now… Something warming and easily digestible… Okay, let’s make soup!”

The food should satisfy his hunger. Lysette started cooking right away.

Lysette chopped up some anti-poison grass and maitake mushrooms and put them in the pan. She also put some chopped unicorn meat that she had kept in her bag. After frying it lightly, she added water and lye and let it simmer on low heat.

When the ingredients and the broth are well mixed, she seasons it with salt and tastes it.

“It is delicious.”

“Ugh…”

Leonhardt regains consciousness and goes to check on him.

His closed eyelids open and he sees emerald eyes.

“Are you all right?”

She continues to converse with Leonhardt, who is still dazed.

“Can you tell me your name? —My name is Lysette, by the way.”

“Le…. Leon…”

His voice is hoarse, and he is unable to move his body as freely as he would like. He is, however, conscious.

“Leon-san, you’re all right now. I made some soup for you. Do you think you’ll be able to eat it?”

She assists him in getting up and sits him down, leaning him against the wall.

She spoons the freshly made soup into a large bowl and holds it to his mouth.

“Please take your time eating.”

She slowly feeds him, one mouthful at a time.

By the time the plate is half empty, there is a slight blush on his cheeks and his color has improved.

“It’s delicious…”

“I’m delighted to hear that.”

“…It’s incredible that you can eat food like this in the dungeon.”

“…I’m glad you liked my unicorn meat and dried maitake soup.”

“Guho!”

He was on the verge of choking.

“Are you all right?!”

Leonhardt covers his mouth with his hand and stares at the soup with his eyes wide open, as if it were burning a hole in it.

“U-Unicorn meat?”

“Y-Yes… From the dungeon’s horse-like monsters. And the vegetables in it are anti-poison grass from Dungeon. “

“Unicorn…”

Leonhardt stares vacantly at the shreds of meat floating in the soup.

Perhaps he is one of those people who does not consume horse meat. It is said that, except in an emergency, knights and other people who have a close relationship with horses do not eat horse meat.

Leonhardt shakes his head, as if trying to persuade himself.

“What exactly is Maitake?”

“It’s a humanoid mushroom monster from the forest.”

“… “

His face became pale once more.

“M-Most mushrooms are poisonous, but the ones that grow on brown maitake are delicious. I used dried ones, which are even better. I also keep anti-poison grass on hand just in case, so you don’t have to worry.”

“… “

“E-Eat some more.”

She spoons a spoonful of soup into Leonhardt’s mouth.

Leonhardt looked at it with a puzzled, hesitant, and loathsome expression.

He was eating it with gusto until recently.

“Perhaps it wasn’t to your liking?”

“Oh no! T-Thank you very much. I can finish it by myself.”

He accepts the bowl from Lysette and eats it by himself with a spoon.

Lysette was relieved that he was finally eating on his own.

Lysette also eats some of the soup. The flavor of the meat and mushrooms is delicious and comforting.

“Thanks for the soup.”

“I’ve got some more…”

“…Thank you very much. Please give me some more.”

“I’m glad you liked it, Fufu.”

Chapter 11: If You Don’t Mind Me

Lysette exhaled a warm breath after finishing the soup. Her stomach is feeling warmer. It seems that the exploration on the ice appears to have used up more of her body heat than she had anticipated.

“I feel bad saying this after all of your help… I had no idea I’d end up eating monsters.”

“Fufu, Didn’t it open a new door?”

Lysette laughed as she cleaned up, and Leonhardt laughed softly.

But what do they eat in the dungeon if not monsters? It was a straightforward question.

Food brought in from outside would be insufficient to sustain them, and the amount of food they could bring in would be limited. They are unlikely to be able to explore for an extended period of time.

“Did you get separated from the party as well?”

“No, I’m not in a party with anyone.”

“You’re not—Are you going to the dungeon by yourself?”

Leonhardt is taken aback.

Lysette wondered if it was that unusual.

“Aside from me, Leon-san must have lost his friends. I can help you find them if you like.”

Lysette is grateful to Leonhardt for his assistance in the Adventurer’s Guild, though he doesn’t seem to recall it.

She wanted to help Leonhardt until she knew he was safe.

” No, I…”

Leonhardt’s expression begins to fade.

He doesn’t appear to want to talk about it.

“If you don’t want to answer it, you don’t have to talk about it.”

Lysette was curious, but that was just curiosity. She has no desire to coerce people into disclosing their secrets.

“What are your plans for the future? Are you going to look for them, return, or continue on? You don’t seem to be feeling well right now, so think about it until you do. I’m also going to rest here for a while.”

She increased the heat to stay warm.

On the ground, the magical fire flickered. It was a lovely red flame.

A few moments of silence pass.

“…It’s a stupid story.”

“Yes…”

“… My friends left because they said they couldn’t handle my case.”

“Well…”

“I appreciate you. My body would have rotted away if you hadn’t found me. I apologize for being in this layer.”

“No, it’s each other’s business.”

“…”

Leonhardt is deafeningly silent, staring into the flames.

Lysette has no idea what he is thinking behind his emotionless expression.

“May I ask what Leon-san’s purpose is?”

“…It’s dragon slaying—You’re not considered a full-fledged member of my family until you’ve killed a dragon.”

“Isn’t it a militaristic family?”

The coming of age to slay a dragon is a significant event for that “family.” They are one of the most powerful families in some faraway land.

Is the party he was with his subordinates at the Adventurers’ Guild?

There appears to be a complicated reason why a person of such high status is dying alone in this layer’s hidden area.

Was he truly on a daring adventure, or was he in some sort of trouble? It is also possible that all of the members have concluded that Leonhardt is not to be the group’s leader and have abandoned him.

—This is most likely a plot.

Lysette is unaware of the details and has no plans to learn more; her interests lie elsewhere.

“Dragon…”

—A monster, no, the pinnacle of all monsters.

“I suppose… Dragon-Steak is the best option.”

“What are you talking about?”

“N-No, don’t worry about it.”

“…I’ve seen many adventurers seeking dragon fangs, scales, and bones, but I’ve never seen anyone attempting to eat the meat…”

Leonhardt appears surprised, but slightly amused.

“…The surface dragon is on the verge of extinction, that’s why I came here in search of a dungeon where dragons will appear.”

—Militaristic clan, indeed.

“Why don’t you first just go back to the surface and organize your party if you want to slay a dragon? —Leon-san will soon have all of the members.”

“I doubt it—”They” took almost everything except my equipment, so making a comeback will take some time.”

She didn’t think they’d go so far.

The treatment in the dungeon is inhumane. Didn’t anyone in his party have a conscience?

Betrayed by his friends, stripped of everything, starving alone, on the verge of death.

How much despair did he feel, and how much pain did he feel?

Lysette has no idea how to mend a broken heart.

She is at a loss for words and simply stares at the flickering flames in front of her.

“Then why don’t you just abandon the dragon slaying?”

Those were her first words out of her mouth.

Leonhardt takes a deep breath and laughs dryly in his throat.

“It’s simple for you to say…”

“…Because I’m an outsider, I’ll take the liberty of saying it. I believe it is acceptable to leave a house that will not even acknowledge you for doing so.”

Lysette also left her home. Or, to be more precise, she was the one who was abandoned.

But she realized when she was abandoned. She knew she was crazy to stay in that house. From a distance, it appears to be a gem that is bright and shiny, but upon closer inspection, it is just a piece of rock.

“…I never considered that.”

“You have a lot of options—don’t be concerned. People can do anything if they eat and sleep properly.”

—That’s what living in the Dungeon taught me.

“When you feel better, Leon-san, let’s go to the surface—We can form a party after.”

“With you?”

“I’ve never been to a party before, so I’d like to get some practice.”

Leonhardt responded to Lysette’s suggestion with some confusion.

“…if you don’t mind me.”

Chapter 12: Reunion and Death with a Former Party

“With my remaining magical power, I could open this door.”

To return to the surface, they must first return to the exit door from the secret area.

Lysette touches the door and pours magic into it, just as she did when she first entered. The door easily opens, letting in the scent of seawater.

“Ah…”

There is still some ice on the water’s surface, but most of it has melted and become part of the sea.

They also encountered a party of two, a male warrior and a healer woman, who were walking toward them on the water’s surface.

—They’re walking on the water’s surface!

Lysette is taken aback.

—What kind of magic is it? Is it a skill? Perhaps it’s a good thing you don’t have to walk on slick ice. But the ice would keep monsters at bay…

Curiosity smolders.

She’s about to ask them questions about magic when she notices the air is unusually tense.

“Hilde, Gunter…”

In the tense atmosphere, Leonhardt’s voice echoes softly.

—Does Leon-san know them?

—Ah, yes, I remember!

Two members of Leonhardt’s party who were with him at the Adventurers’ Guild. In other words, two of the people who deserted Leonhardt.

“Did you come here to look over the body? Or are you here to kill me?”

Leonhardt’s expression is a mix of disgust and resignation.

When asked, neither of them responds.

Only the sword and the staff, held with sadness and determination, provided an answer.

“I see.”

Leonhardt raised his sword and shield as if accepting everything.

“Hey…Hey, everyone, please calm down!”

Lysette dashed over to intervene. They weren’t beasts. They were people who could communicate with one another.

She can’t believe they’d settle it with violence, despite the fact that they were once friends.

However, neither of them laid down their weapons.

Point of contact.

The atmosphere is tense.

“Seriously! Flame-Burst!”

Under the water, fire-magic explodes.

A massive column of water rises and descends on the warrior and healer.

Water forms a veil over the area, obscuring vision.

“Freeze!”

Then she carved an ice path and grabbed Leon’s arm.

“Leon-san. This way!”

She escapes by pulling Leonhardt’s arm as the moisture in the air cools and a deep fog rolls in.

The ice behind them melts as they approach the stone passageway, and the path vanishes. They are listening intently, but there is no sign of a chase.

—I wish they would just quit.

“Lysette, who are you… and how do you have this much magical power?”

“It doesn’t matter. I understand your reasoning, but humans should not be fighting in the dungeon.”

“…I understand it’s against the rules.”

“Eh? Is there a rule like this? It’s not about the rule; it’s about the danger. This is a monster’s lair.”

Leonhardt should know better than Lysette.

“Those two are definitely going to kill me. If I don’t kill them, they will kill me.”

“That’s… There could be a reason for that.’ Yes, for example, if a family member or a friend is kidnapped.”

“…”

“However, that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable…”

Then, from behind them, a woman screams.

Lysette and Leonhardt exchanged glances.

“Freeze!”

Lysette made a straight line of ice in a screaming direction.

They dashed off to discover a frozen sea of reddish blood.

and see two floating human corpses, as well as four frozen mermen who attempted to retrieve them.

Leonhardt’s sword slashes the heads of four mermen in an instant.

“This wound—It must have been attacked by the water reaper during a surprise attack…”

Leonhardt muttered to himself as he stared at the two dead bodies after the monsters in the area had vanished.

Both of them have had their carotid arteries in their necks severed. Their hearts have been ripped open.

They were probably decapitated by the Reaper’s fin blades, and before they could heal, their hearts were pierced by the mermen’s spear, and they died.

Lysette was shocked.

They are both experienced.

Even seasoned warriors can be killed in the blink of an eye. It is a reminder of the terror of monsters.

“…Leon-san?”

Leonhardt, who is motionless and staring at the two dead bodies, responds.

“…How come they don’t have anything to resurrect or return…”

“… “

Lysette is only aware of [Heart-Substitution], which states that the body returns after death, but surely if they had such an item, it would have been activated. But the body is still dead. There’s no sign of them returning.

They are too unprepared to finish him off if they came here. Either they didn’t think about the retaliation or…

—Did they intend to kill Leon-san and then die themselves? No way.

If this is the case, they were prepared in the wrong direction.

Lysette moves the healer’s body from the ice to the floor. If left unattended, the ice would melt. They will be completely submerged once the surface-walking magic has worn off.

“Lysette, what are you…”

“I’m unable to use revive magic. But if we do this, someone might find them.

She came across a corpse collector in the city. Requests for corpse collection have been made to the Adventurer’s Guild. In other words, there is an entire industry dedicated to collecting and reviving corpses.

If bodies fall into the water, it becomes marine debris or an easy meal for underwater monsters.

If they’re lucky, someone will find and revive them as long as there’s a body left.

“…”

Leonhardt also was about to move the male warrior and place it next to the healer, when….

A disturbing presence stirred deep beneath his feet.

Crack, crack, crack… The sound of cracking ice became increasingly loud. Then, as if a great crack were forming all over the surface, it is broken open by a force from the depths, revealing ice and seawater as well as a piece of a giant creature.

Lysette initially mistook it for a massive snake.

Its surface is covered in round and flat warts. There were several of them writhing and wriggling at the same time, coiling around and sinking the mermen’s corpses.

“Kraken?!”

Leonhardt exclaims in surprise, and a large amount of black liquid spurts forth.

Then Leonhardt raises his shield in front of Lysette.

【Holy-Shield】

The shield creates a light wall.

The magically charged wall of light catches and repels the pouring black liquid.

【Appraisal】Kraken. A giant mollusk that lives in the sea. It uses its eight legs and two arms to catch and submerge its prey.

—A giant squid!

“How did such a large creature end up in such shallow water?! Lysette, I’ll hold it off—Get the hell out of here!”

“No way! I’m not going to abandon my friend and flee!”

Even if it’s a makeshift party, a friend is a friend.

Besides…

—Squid! Squid! It must be delicious!

The soup wasn’t enough to fill Lysette’s stomach.

Chapter 13: Kraken, King of the Sea

Despite its massive size, the Kraken seemed to be the boss of the saltwater area. If you were caught by its thick, free-moving tentacles, you would be dragged into the water.

If it did, you’d drown or be eaten to death in no time.

And because the Kraken spits black liquid—squid ink—on a regular basis, the area is already pitch black and slippery because the ink sticks to the ice, which serves as a scaffold.

Lysette strengthens the ice flatform. If the ice cracks or collapses, the only destination is water, the Kraken’s domain.

The Kraken’s tentacle and ink attacks are all temporarily repulsed by Leonhardt’s magical barrier, 【Holy-Shield】.

“Run away quickly!”

Kraken’s rage is now solely directed at Leonhardt.

Leonhardt draws his sword and attempts to sever the Kraken’s tentacles, but the sword is bounced off the Kraken’s strong body surface and falls to the ice.

Lysette carries the unicorn’s horned staff on her back.

—First and foremost, we need to stop it from moving!

A single total attack magic shot is insufficient against this massive foe.

She points the staff’s tip at Kraken.

【Water-Magic(Intermediate)】【Manipulation-Magic】

“Freeze!”

The freeze attack concentrated only on the Kraken’s body.

The Kraken transforms into an ice block and ceases to move. But it is not yet dead. Only the surface has been frozen. It will eventually break through the ice again.

And before all of that…

Fire-magic (Intermediate)】【Manipulation-Magic】

“Flame-Lance!”

She made a flame spear that pierced the Kraken’s eyes as well as the ice on its body’s surface.

As the magical flames enter the Kraken’s body, you can feel the flame reaction.

She poured more magic into the magical flaming lance, and it transformed into a different type of magic.

“Flame-Burst!”

An explosion occurred behind the Kraken’s eyes, which appears to have been successful. All movement came to a halt, and its previously clear body turned white in an instant.

“Did we win?”

Leonhardt muttered in shock.

Meanwhile, Lysette picked up the sword that had fallen on the ice field’s edge and returned to Leonhardt.

She returns the sword to its rightful owner.

“Thank you for defending me—I was able to calm myself down as a result of your help.”

“…You’re…”

Leonhardt stares at Lysette, gulps, and takes the sword.

“Shall we eat then?”

“…what?”

“Of course, there’s the Kraken!”

“You should not. According to the fisherman, giant squids, which resemble the kraken, stink and are inedible.”

“Well, It’s incredible that such a massive squid exists on Earth. I’d love to see it someday.

“…”

“…Or does Leon-san want a merman cousine?””

“Kraken! I like Kraken!”

—○█○—

She fills a bowl with sea water and touches it with the unicorn staff’s tip, and the water that had previously been contaminated by squid ink, algae, and other substances becomes clear.

The water is then used to wash the kraken meat.

Then, using a knife, she cut the kraken into bite-size pieces and covered them in powder (batter) made from the first layer. And deep fry them in a deep frying pan filled with melted unicorn oil.

She created a small barrier around the pan to keep the oil from splashing.

Once they turn golden brown, she removes them and places them on a plate.

“It’s done! Kraken’s fritter! Itadakimasu!”

“Itadakimasu…”

The light and crispy batter holds chunks of pure white Kraken meat. The texture, oil, saltiness, and sweetness all melt in your mouth and make you happy.

“Delicious~ I could eat all of it.”

Leonhardt, who had been looking like he was at the end of the world the whole time Lysette was cooking, ate the Kraken as if he had made up his mind after seeing Lysette’s melt-in-your-mouth expression.

His tense face relaxes as he chews.

“There is no odor—Perhaps because it isn’t from the open sea?”

He takes another bite after looking curiously at the Kraken’s fritter.

“I haven’t eaten anything this delicious in a long time.”

“Fufu, it’s such a relief to eat something so delicious.”

“Oh, really… And what’s this?”

“That’s a deep-fried water reaper.”

“No…yeah…alright…”

He’s a little hesitant, but he eats it.

“It tastes like white fish.”

The Water Reaper tastes like fine white fish. It’s slightly fibrous, but it dissolves quickly in the mouth.

—It tastes like frog meat.

Lysette thought.

“By the way, Leon-san, how is your stomach injured?”

“Thank you…I’ve used Recovery-Magic and should be fine.”

“Can you use Recovery-Magic as well?! That is incredible!”

Lysette was truly impressed.

“You are also very powerful; that shield barrier is incredible, and you can use Recovery-Magic. You truly are a Dragon challenger.”

“…It’s not great.”

Leonhardt says as he looks at Kraken floating on the water.

“My abilities are defensive in nature—I doubt I could defeat the dragon, let alone the Kraken, on my own—I only came here because I had friends…”

He falls silent.

He sighs deeply and holds his head in his hands.

After a few moments, he sets his plate down and stands up. Then he walks over to the two corpses lined up against the wall.

He kneeled beside the healer and placed his hand on her wound on her neck.

Leonhardt mutters something, and the blood that had been flowing out of the wound magically returns to her body, closing the wound and turning the blue skin red.

Her doll-like face begins to move slightly, and her tightly closed eyelids open.

Except in the dungeon realm, it is impossible for a dead person to be revived.

—This is revival magic.

Lysette was taken aback by this miraculous sight.

—I’m wondering if the goddess’s rule is eroding within the dungeon.

Her eyes, which had regained their light, relaxed with relief, but when she saw Leonhardt’s face, it stiffened again.

“Please revive Gunter.”

“…Y-Yes.”

The healer rushes to his feet and casts a revive spell. Soon, the warrior comes back to life.

“That water reaper… ugh… Where is that son-of…?

The warrior revives, about to swear, and collapses on his face when he sees Leonhardt.

There is awkwardness and tension between the three of them.

“Good morning. In the meantime, why don’t you join us for dinner?”

Lysette’s carefree suggestion echoed throughout the dungeon.

Chapter 14: Leonhardt

“We have a lot of fritters, so don’t be shy about asking. And these are deep-fried water reapers.”

The two did not touch the fritters, possibly because they were nervous or afraid of eating the monster. But, seeing Leonhardt eating, the warrior took the initiative.”

“…Uh!”

“…U,uu~u.”

Lysette panics as the healer sobs while eating.

“Was it a little too much for you?”

She asks, shaking her head slightly, as she hands over her water.

“No, it’s that…”

“Oh! It’s so good! very…”

“delicious—It just makes me think of that meal…”

“Eh? You’ve never had Kraken?”

“None.”

Leonhardt vehemently denies it.

“Unfortunately, they are just regular squid and octopus that we once had in a seaside town and had a feast while drinking ale and wine.”

“That sounds like a lot of fun.”

Leonhardt’s green eyes look back into the past.

“Yeah, it was fun. I believed we could accomplish anything with our team.”

Leonhardt picks up his sword and stares at the sheathed blade.

“I haven’t changed my mind since then. I will defeat the dragon. “

His firm determination was evident in his strong words. There was no second thought.

Even though his friends betrayed him, even though he knew the choice was to give up, Leonhardt chose to fulfill his goal.”

“Leonhardt-sama…”

“Leonhardt, we are…”

“I still haven’t forgiven you.”

Leonhardt’s truthful words cause both of them to nod like children. They are well aware of what they have done.

“It’s not that I don’t understand your point of view.”

Lysette blinked while eating a crispy fried water reaper.

—Oh my

It’s understandable that Leonhardt can’t forgive them given his circumstances. On the other hand, he expressed deep sympathy for both of them and their situation.

His obstinate heart had melted before he realized it.

And this change of heart was what brought them back to life.

“Answer me. Why did you come back?”

“… I couldn’t bear leaving Leonhardt alone here.”

“You’re a fool to involve Hilde in this.”

“I-I’m the one who suggested it.”

Leonhardt exhaled a small, irritated sigh.

“How about Erene?”

“Erene-sama has returned to the country with Klaus-sama—Sai has gone missing.”

“Ah, I see.”

Leonhardt’s profile appeared lonely, but he also appeared clear.

“Return to the country. Pretend I’m dead.”

Leonhardt smiled at the tearful couple.

“Thank you so much for everything.”

After eating, they cast the return spell and leave the dungeon, giving Leonhardt the sleeping bag, supplies, and other items he requires.

Leonhardt’s expression as he watched them vanish was as clear as if he had been set free.

He looks much better now than he did before. Lysette is also pleased to have assisted him.

Leonhardt’s emerald gaze at Lysette

“Thank you so much for everything. I wish there was something I could do for you.”

“You’re very welcome. That is all I need to hear. Should we go?”

“…Where?”

“Of course, to kill the dragon!”

Lysette smiles and responds.

“I thought you were going back like Gunter and the others—Why do you want to do that?”

“Of course, I’m interested in dragon steak!”

“I knew it…”

He says this with a dazed expression and a heavy sigh.

“…Have you ever killed a dragon before?”

“Not at all.”

“The dragon is on the sixth layer—Have you been anywhere close to there?”

“I’m embarrassed to admit that this is my first visit to the second layer.”

“After all, I can’t get you involved.”

She was flatly rejected.

On the other hand, Lysette is not one to back down.

—I’d like to try the Dragon Steak! I’m intrigued by the Dragon Steak! The pinnacle of monsters!

“Has Leon-san ever encountered a dragon?”

“Ah, yes. But I was exhausted and had no choice but to flee. I was fully prepared to take on the challenge, and then this happened.”

“So, you want to get back to the surface and reassemble your party?”

“…That’s…”

“It may cause trouble for “them” if the “person” who is supposed to be dead comes out right away. But I’m sure I can keep you company here.”

Lysette beams.

—It’s a bargain.

“Two is more efficient than one. It’s all about helping each other in the dungeon. Besides…”

“Besides?”

“Besides… I have a feeling that with Leon-san, I will be able to encounter new dungeon blessings!”

It was a sense of assurance.

Leonhardt had gotten as far as the sixth layer. He was familiar with places, monsters, and ingredients that Lysette was not.

Lysette is overjoyed, but Leonhardt’s face remains expressionless. He looks like he’s trying to figure out how to refuse.

“Could you please check my status, Leon-san?”

“… Status is not something that should be displayed to others casually.”

“Knowing what I am capable of before thinking about the future would be more constructive.”

She hands over her ID card with a big smile.

Lysette

【Noble-Bloodline】

【Preemptive-Action】

【Fire-magic(Intermediate)】

【Water-Magic(Intermediate)】

【Purification-Magic】

【Barrier-Magic】

【Manipulation-Magic】

【Appraisal-Magic】

Leonhardt looks at the cards and ponders.

—I should be rejected immediately if it is not acceptable.

He does not do so because there is room for consideration.

Leonhardt has just been betrayed to death by his companions, with whom he had shared a hardship, and he might be hesitant to trust Lysette so soon after meeting her in the dungeon.

“…I’m in need of money, and I believe I can repay some of it if you give me a piece of the Dragon material. Please allow me to join you.”

Unpaid kindness cannot be relied upon.

Only by revealing one’s unavoidable circumstances can you gain their trust.

Of course, Lysette had her own calculations.

Lysette is curious about this dungeon.

But if she continues to explore the dungeon alone, she will eventually reach a limit. There will be more traps and more difficult enemies.

And Lysette is unlikely to be able to make friends on the surface.

Leonhardt appeared trustworthy in that regard… There will be no betrayal as long as both is sincere.

“…If I believe it is dangerous, we will withdraw immediately.”

“Certainly!”

Her ID is returned, and Leonhardt’s ID is given to her.

Leonhardt Wilfried

【Dragon-Blood】

【Increased-Physical-Strength(Large)】

【Intuition】

【Knight’s-Sword(Advanced)】

【Holy-Shield】

【Recovery-Magic(Intermediate)】

You can tell he’s strong just by looking at his status. It’s a real tank to the party.

In addition, a Recovery Magic user.

Only the 【Dragon-Blood】 skill’s details were not visible in Appraisal. It must be something truly unique.

“You are, as expected, powerful—Leon-san, I’m looking forward to working with you.”

“Likewise.”

She returns the ID to Leonhardt and thanks him for displaying it to her.

“By the way, this was discovered in Kraken. What am I supposed to do with it?”

She displays an amber-colored magic stone that she discovered while dismantling Kraken.

“Oh… This is the area boss’s proof. You are now eligible to advance to the next layer. I already took it, so you can have it.”

Chapter 15:Miscalculation of Saint Meldiana 【Side:Meldiana】

Time goes a little back.

Meldiana locks herself in a church room after a failed ritual. No one is allowed inside, and she throws everything in the room against the wall in a fit of rage.

—Why? Why? What went wrong? Why is my power weakening?!

Meldiana bit her lower lip. She will not be able to bless the land or restore the barrier if this continues.

If this goes on, she may be unable to continue as the Saint.

—The goddess is dismayed by the people of this land’s lack of faith! It’s not my fault; they deserve it!

Meldiana is not at fault. The people of this country are to blame. everyone but herself. Yes, even the goddess who humiliated Meldiana is now beyond redemption.

“How can I be the only one… That can’t be!”

“Poor thing.”

A man’s voice gently echoes in the room, which should be empty except for Meldiana.

Meldiana quickly turns around.

Meldiana notices a tall figure in a black robe standing beneath her disheveled green hair.

Meldiana’s face, which was previously red with rage, turns pale.

“You… What are you doing here? Get out of here before anyone notices!”

Meldiana gives the order, but the dark elf makes no move to leave, laughing as he removes his hood. His brown skin, silver hair, and silver eyes radiated enchantment.

His well-defined face looked as if it were fake. His long, pointed ears are typical of an elf, and his brown skin is typical of a Dark elf.

“You know, we’re accomplices.”

“Don’t talk nonsense. Get the hell out of here! If it was discovered that I was linked to an unholy being like yourself, then…”

The dark elves’ brown skin is said to be the result of being burned by the goddess’s fire. It is an abomination for a saint to have a personal relationship with such a thing.

“Don’t look at me that way. I’m here to help Mel.”

“…Can you help me?”

“Do you know why your saint’s power failed?”

“If you know, then do something about it!”

In the back of his throat, the dark elf laughs gleefully.

“Hehehe. Listen. The reason you couldn’t use the goddess’s power was because her power source was underground.

“…What exactly do you mean?”

“It’s your Onee-sama’s fault.”

“T-That’s!”

When Meldiana shows that she is willing to listen, the dark elf smiles in satisfaction and walks over to her.

“The only thing I transferred to you was the outlet for her power.”

He speaks softly into her ear.

“Your Onee-sama is still the source of your power.”

“W-What do you mean, you didn’t give me the saint’s power?!”

“I’m sorry. The saint is an innate form of the soul that cannot be recreated completely. That’s why I only gave Mel access to the power outlet. So far, that hasn’t been a problem, has it?”

His silvery eyes shone suspiciously.

“But now that your Onee-sama has entered the Dungeon, Saint-sama is in trouble because she can no longer bestow her blessing. It’s a completely different world down there.”

The dark elf smiles smugly.

“Saint-sama is now struggling to get water from an empty dry well.”

“I didn’t hear anything…”

“I’m sorry. This surprised me as well. I wasn’t expecting you to keep your Onee-sama alive in the Dungeon.”

Meldiana clenched her back teeth.

“Onee-sama… How much longer can you put me down?!”

“But, don’t worry. When she dies, all of the saint’s power will be transferred to Mel via the sacred mark. You will be a true Saint!”

“Then hurry. We must kill Onee-sama!”

There was no other option.

Because there was no death penalty, the church was too lenient with punishment.

She, in particular, did not want the prolonged agony to be used as a form of punishment.

—She should have been tortured to death!

“I will direct the Church and the Royal Guards to assassinate Onee-sama! They will move if I tell them that if they do not act, the earth will be filled with curses.”

“Mel, I don’t think you should do that.”

Meldiana’s cheeks puffed out in irritation.

“Why? Are you on my side, or what?!”

“Of course, I support Mel, but did you know? A saint who loses her power is exterminated in this land—because the goddess’s power is more important than the saint’s”

“T-That’s not true. The Goddess would never let anything happen to the Saint.”

“No, the Goddess would—I wish that were true.”

The dark elf smiles subtly. Meldiana is bothered by this attitude.

“This is my recommendation. If you’re going to kill your sister, you should make sure no one knows your power has weakened.”

The dark elf had a valid point.

Meldiana couldn’t let anyone know that she was no longer perfect, even if it was only for a moment.

“Then, in secret, I’ll have a church knight eliminate her… that one will obey my commands without question if I, the Saint, tell him.”

Meldiana has a church knight who is loyal to her. If she can easily rouse that knight, he will come and kill Lysette.

“That’s great. We must now address our issue—bring out the sacred mark, please.”

Meldiana reluctantly opens her bosom to reveal her shoulders at the urging of the dark elf. On the lower part of the nape of the neck, there is a bruise-like red pattern.

The sacred mark

The dark elf’s fingertips make contact with the mark. A finger brushes against a sacred mark that no one is permitted to touch.

“Agh!”

She yelps as something hot hits her.

“That’s it, that’s all.”

“W-Wait, what did you do?”

“I’ve made it possible for anyone nearby to channel their life force into the power of the Saint. You can now bless them.”

“Ara, that’s very clever!”

“Hehehe, my dear Saint, are you willing to sacrifice someone? Is that okay with you?”

“Ufufu, It will be their honor to serve me.”

Chapter 16: Third Layer Treasure Chest

Lysette and Leonhardt descend the stairs.

They proceed to the third layer from the water area on the second layer.

The water’s odor has faded, and the landscape has transformed into a stone labyrinth. Fortunately, the glowing moss remained, and no additional lighting was required.

They made their way through the square corridors, searching and fighting their way.

Lysette sighs as she uses her flame arrow to burn down the zombie she encounters along the way.

This was the third time she’d run into a monster since reaching the third layer. It was, once again, not a monster that could be eaten.

“It’s been nothing but wraiths, zombies, and stone golems for quite some time.”

Wraiths are ghost monsters that don’t have a physical form. Wraiths, as you might expect, cannot be eaten.

Zombies are human corpses that have rotted. She’d refuse to eat them.

The stone golem is an automaton made of stone. Stone is out of the question.

“Yes, the third layer is. There are numerous inorganic and undead monsters. I’m sorry your preemptive magic made everything so much easier for me, and I’m ashamed of it…”

“That’s perfectly fine. This is something I’ve been doing for a long time.”

When she comes into contact with an enemy, her magic attack is activated before the enemy can do anything. She’s been doing it since she first entered the dungeon. What Lysette does remains the same.

“But there is one issue that bothers me. I feel like my 【Preemptive-Action】 doesn’t always work… like the Kraken.”

“Because… perhaps the opponent has a skill that can negate the preemptive action.”

“Do monsters have abilities?”

“Of course they do.”

He said it as if it were normal. It appears that it is not just a privilege for adventurers.

“Also, it may not be activated if the other party spots us first and ambushes us.”

“Ah, I see…”

—Monsters and dungeons are not easy to deal with…

“Don’t worry. If you’re caught off guard, I’ll protect you.”

“Thank you very much.”

Leonhardt’s defense is formidable. His abilities are impressive.

She was not too worried about the fighting. There are other things to worry about.

“It’s the food that has me concerned. We currently have a supply, but if things continue as they are, we will be malnourished…”

All they come across are monsters that they can’t seem to eat. Even if you bite into a rock, it will not provide you with any nourishment.

Lysette was about to despair when she remembered Leonhardt’s ability to use revival magic.

“Leon-san, is it possible to resurrect someone who has died of starvation?”

Leonhardt appeared distressed.

“Don’t put too much faith in my revival magic, I’m telling you. It could fail.”

“What happens if it doesn’t work?”

“If you fail too many times, you will be reduced to ashes and will not be resurrected.”

“Ashes…”

The state in which the body has been burned, to put it another way, total death.

In that case, [Heart-Substitution], in which you resurrect at the moment of death and are transferred to the outside world, is far safer and more secure.

“I see. So you think you can revive starvation?”

“I haven’t attempted it, but it would most likely be difficult for me—starvation is a state in which the body’s energy is depleted, necessitating the use of other, magical or otherwise, sources of energy.”

Leonhardt spoke as if it were obvious, but it was beyond Lysette’s comprehension—If you die from starvation, you can resurrect by drawing energy from other sources.

—By what logic does this [Heart-Substitution] resurrect?

—Is it a goddess’s miracle?

As they were walking and thinking, they hit a dead end.

“It can’t be helped. Let’s go back the way we came.”

Leonhardt scribbles something on the handwritten map in his hand and attempts to return the way they came.

“Wait a minute, Leon-san, there’s a treasure chest here.”

A treasure chest with a very typical appearance sat at the end of the corridor, in a corner.

“There is, in fact, a treasure chest in the dungeon. Now I’m really impressed.”

“It’s a mimic, a monster that looks like a treasure chest.”

“Mimic? Is that some kind of monster? Obviously, it’s just a treasure chest.”

“When you see a treasure chest, think of a mimic; that’s the dungeon’s common sense.”

Lysette stares at the wooden and iron treasure chest that sits in the corridor.

It’s just a treasure chest, no matter how you look at it: the aged appearance, the slight immobility, or the massive size.

“…From a common sense standpoint, it is certainly strange for a treasure chest to be in the dungeon…”

Even though it’s pointless to discuss common sense in the dungeon, the question is who put it there and why.

The typical response would be some kind of trap. A trap of the worst kind, in which a life-destroying trap is placed in a treasure chest to kill the adventurers who fall for it.

Who in the world would bother putting something like that there, and for what purpose? Whether they are real or not, it is best to avoid them.

“Mimics are fairly powerful monsters, but they won’t attack you if you don’t approach them, so it’s best to ignore them.”

“So the dungeon has no pure treasure chests?”

She asks Leonhardt, who seems to have been an adventurer for a lot longer than Lysette.

A dungeon devoid of treasure chests is unromantic.

“Rarely. But the treasure has already been taken. But… Mimic is essentially a treasure.”

“How does that work? —Yes, I see! The trapped adventurer’s belongings?!”

Leonhardt’s face suddenly turns a horrifying shade of blue.

“They deliberately leave the adventurer’s jewels, gold coins, and weapons uneaten, right?!”

“No, it’s just that they have a habit of incorporating glittering objects into their bodies in order to entice humans—No, it could just be leftovers…”

He shakes his head, as if trying to calm down.

“…That’s why countless adventurers are killed while attempting to take the treasure, even if they know it’s a mimic. As a result, it’s not worth it. Even if you win the hard way, the prize is usually insignificant.”

“Why don’t we just kill them with long-range attacks instead of approaching them?”

“You risk destroying the treasure inside if you do so—that would be a complete 180-degree turn, wouldn’t it? If it is the treasure we seek, we must approach it and force its mouth to open.”

You have no choice if you want the treasure hidden within.

However, mimics, according to Leonhardt, are vicious monsters. It’s not worth it to fight. But only if you’re looking for the treasure hidden within the Mimic.

“…”

“…Are you thinking of something strange?”

“No, I’m not—I’m only thinking about whether mimics are edible or not.”

“That’s having strange thoughts…”

The most valuable commodity in the dungeon is food.

If Mimic is a tasty monster, then Mimic itself is the most valuable treasure.

—There it is, right in front of us!

“Okay. I’m not interested in the treasure inside, so I’ll simply use magic to bring it down from afar. Flame-Lance!”

“Seriously, why are you so adamant…”

A powerful blow is required for a powerful monster.

She pierces the treasure chest, which appears to be a mimic, with the full force of her fire magic.

The magical flames were so precise in piercing the still-standing treasure chest that the prey was completely obliterated.

Only a molten metal, presumably the Mimic’s treasure was carrying, and the smell of burning and black charcoal remain in the passage’s corner.

“…”

“…I’ll be more cautious next time.”

Chapter 17: Dungeon Merchant

Lysette searches for Mimics—or the treasure chest—while magically burning or freezing the monsters she encounters during her search, but she doesn’t find it.

“There aren’t a lot of treasure chests or mimics around.”

Leonhardt, who is moving forward, says dismissively without looking back.

“I wonder if it has anything to do with territory.”

At that moment, something appears in front of them in the corridor.

A shadow, like a small, squat mountain with legs, is coming toward them.

There is no indication of hostility.

It appears to have noticed them and it comes to a halt for a brief moment. Then he lifted his right hand into the air.

“Oh, that’s Leonhardt!”

His thick voice echoed through the stone corridor, cheerful.

“It’s been a long time, Kanatsuchi.”

Kanatsuchi was a small, stout, well-bearded dwarf with a large bag on his back that seemed to cast a mountain shadow.

“I assumed you were dead because I hadn’t seen you in a long time!”

“Hahaha—Nice to see you again.”

“Can you tell me who that young lady over there is? —Is she a new acquaintance of yours?”

“Something along those lines. Her name is Lysette. Lysette, his name is Kanatsuchi, a merchant in the dungeon.

—A merchant?!

That explains why he has so much luggage on his back. Lysette was taken aback by the fact that he was walking around the dungeon by himself, doing his business.

—How in the world does he avoid monster attacks? How does he spend his time in the dungeon? I can’t stop wondering.

“Hello, my name is Lysette. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Oh, thank you very much. So, while you’re here, why don’t you take a look at my merchandise?”

“Food ingredients!” Do you have any cooking supplies?!”

“Huh? Have you run out of food? I have some, but it’s pricey.”

A circle is formed by the merchant’s fingers.

“Uh… I don’t have any gold at the moment…”

She spent the gold she earned from the Adventurer’s Guild on the alchemist’s workshop.

She raises her gaze to Leonhardt.

“I don’t have much in my hand right now. All my money is in the bank.”

“I only take cash.”

“Well…”

Lysette ponders, and then an idea occurs to her.

“If you’re a merchant, do you also buy? I’d like you to look over these items.”

She takes an item from her bag and pulls out a unicorn hoof. She got it from a unicorn she encountered in the first layer.”

“A unicorn’s hoof? That’s a good one. I’ll pay 20,000 for each.”

Before he can even describe the item, Lysette has already figured it out and set the price.

“You have to be kidding me.”

Lysette took a bold step forward.

“Aren’t you going to turn them into coasters and sell them to the nobility and the church for 100,000 gold and up? —You can make ten coasters out of them, which is worth at least a million gold. I require at least 200,000 gold.”

When a poisoned glass is placed on top of a unicorn’s hooves, it is said to emit smoke. They are the preferred choice of powerful people who are afraid of being poisoned, and they are a sure-sale commodity despite their high price.

Knowing this, she kept it. to either sell it for cash or process it herself. She can’t just sit back and watch them be sold cheaply.”

“Kah! This is why I don’t like amateurs who only consider the price! Processing, distribution, and labor costs all add up to a loss of 200,000 gold! 50,000!

“150,000.”

“80,000! I can’t go any higher!”

“100,000! I have other ways to get money.”

She’s not bluffing. She should be able to get a good price for it if she gives it to the alchemist.

Lysette’s sincerity may have been communicated, but the peddler groans bitterly.

“Damn… Okay, 100,000.”

“We’ve struck a deal!”

Lysette nods satisfactorily and pulls out the remaining three.

—Fufu, unicorns have four legs. Four hooves in all.

“What the hell… I lost! I’ll take them all for 500,000.”

The peddler’s luggage was full of hopes and dreams.

“Wheat bread, sugar, butter, even eggs!”

“Those are harpy eggs.”

“That is unusual… I’ll have some of that as well.”

“You have a sharp eye.”

The pleasant business negotiations came to an end quickly, and Lysette purchased nearly all of the merchant’s produce for 200,000 gold.

“It was a great deal.” Thank you very much.”

“Hahaha, it’s my pleasure, but I had no idea you were so knowledgeable about Unicorn coasters… were you a real aristocrat…”

“Does Kanatsuchi-san go through the dungeon by himself?”

“…Yes. This place is like my garden.”

As he spoke, the peddler’s eyes were filled with pride, familiarity, and kindness.

Even a dangerous dungeon like this must be a vital place for Dwarf merchants.

“Great! I’d appreciate it if you could give me some survival advice.”

“That’s a story for another time. Now I must depart. Don’t die.”

The merchant repacks his belongings, exchanges good wishes, and continues up the path Lysette and the others have taken. Perhaps to the surface.

“At long last, we can eat something delicious! Leon-san, let’s make some food right away.”

“…You’re a tough cookie, aren’t you?”

Lysette smiled brightly. That is the highest praise.

Chapter 18: Harpy French Toast

They decided to set up a barrier at the end of the corridor for their meal because there was no large space nearby where they could rest.

“Let us begin with the bread. I haven’t had one in a long time.”

Because it is a preserved food, the bread is hard. It must be cooked for it to taste good.

It would be softer and more aromatic if baked in a frying pan with butter, but Lysette adds a little more.

—Harpy eggs!

Harpy eggs are slightly larger in size than chicken eggs.

The eggs were cracked in water before being mixed with sugar to make a runny egg. The bread is then soaked in the egg mixture.

After the bread had soaked and turned yellow, she slowly baked it in a frying pan with butter. The aroma of melting butter enticed one’s appetite as soon as the preparation began.

“The French toast is finished!”

“A harpy french toast…”

Leonhardt’s expression doesn’t clear up, possibly because he is familiar with monsters named Harpys.

—It lays eggs; it must be a bird monster.

“Therefore, Itadakimasu.”

Lysette ate her portion quickly. The warm, moist, golden brown bread had a hint of sugar and butter.

Her mouth was filled with the aroma of butter and the sweetness of sugar.

“Yes, it’s good. It’s just like a regular egg. However, the yolk is a little too thick.”

She hadn’t had sugar in a long time, and it was intriguing. The outside was crispy and savory, but the inside was moist and sticky.

“It’s good.”

Leonhardt, too, was taken aback as he took a bite.

“How does Lysette manage to cook so well? She must have been born into a noble family.”

“My grandmother was an adventurer who taught me survival cooking.”

—You never know what life has in store for you. And this French toast is absolutely delicious!

“Leon-san is the one who knows a lot about monsters, and I admire him. I had no idea stone golems made ice in their joints to expand and break them.”

“In my case, I was born knowing that I was going to go on a dragon hunt. My knowledge of monsters is part of my preparation…”

His words are cut off completely by a sigh.

“Leon-san?”

“No, my entire life has been dedicated to slaying dragons.”

Lysette shook her head at his mockery of himself.

“It’s been useful, hasn’t it?”

Leonhardt has extensive knowledge of monsters.

It was probably due to his knowledge and ability that they were the party most likely to conquer the dungeon.

No matter how powerful you are, if you don’t have knowledge, you will be destroyed by enemy traps or unexpected moves. Knowledge is both a weapon and a valuable asset.

“Leon-san’s knowledge, experience, and courage are invaluable to me. I am confident that Leon-san will continue to be of assistance.”

She believed it from the bottom of her heart, and Lysette wanted to expand her knowledge, beginning with edible monsters.

—The eggs of Harpy… If I can eat the eggs, I’m sure I can eat the meat. I’d love to meet one someday, and I’m sure to cook a mimic next time… I’ll use Water Magic instead of Fire Magic next time to freeze them.

Her ambitions are growing.

“… Leon is all right.”

“Eh?”

Her thoughts and reaction are both delayed.

She looks up and looks into his green eyes, which are swimming.

“The way you addressed me I couldn’t say my name properly because I couldn’t speak well at the time.”

Lysette knew his full name but didn’t think much of it and called him by his given name.

When their gazes met, Leonhardt averted his gaze and laughed wryly.

“Haha, well, there’s nothing wrong with having a short name.”

Lysette’s heart bursts open with a sensation she has never felt before.

Lysette doesn’t know what it is, but it feels like a warm, tiny little fire.

Lysette felt a pang of relief, a pang of joy, and a pang of pain, and she knew she didn’t want this person to die.

“…Leon.”

“Yes.”

“Leon, please hold this.”

Lysette pulls her heart-shaped amulet—[Heart-Substitution]—from her bag of belongings and hands it to Leonhardt.

“I’ve been considering it. I thought that since Leon could use revival magic, he should have it instead of me.”

She actually asked the merchant about it, but he didn’t have any revival items like Lysette got from the alchemist.

“If I die by accident, Leon can revive me, but if Leon dies, there is nothing I can do.”

There was no [Recovery Magic] skill Lysette could learn.

Even if they both died at the same time or if only Leonhardt escaped, she knew Leonhardt would come to her aid.

—I wouldn’t blame him if he deserted me.

“I can’t take this.”

Leonhardt said, handing it back to Lysette.

“I don’t want to survive at your expense.”

“…Okay. When I get another one, I’ll give it to you.”

“Hahaha. I’m looking forward to it.”

Leonhardt laughs, and Lysette reciprocates.

—That’s right. All I have to do is make sure he doesn’t die.

And if Leonhardt is left alone in the dungeon, she’ll make sure to come and get him.

—I swear it.

Chapter 19: Church Knight Douglas

They resume their search after a brief break, aided by Leonhardt’s hand-drawn map.

“Is that a mimic over there, Leon?!”

Lysette notices a silhouette that resembles a treasure chest and points excitedly as she moves through the unchanged corridor.

There it was, a half-opened treasure chest with a human body’s lower half stretched out from inside the box and the upper half inside.

The person doesn’t seem to be alive.

When the Mimic finds himself eating, it spits it out and pounces on them with a great leaping leap. He exposes his razor-sharp fangs and extends his long tongue.

“Freeze Lance!”

The Mimic, now covered in ice and resembling an object, rolls to the stone floor.

“Is it dead?”

“Yes, it’s dead.”

“Does that look like a knight? I’m curious if he’s with anyone else.”

“Maybe he’s diving alone or got separated from the group. He’s not badly injured… he doesn’t resemble a zombie or a ghoul… let’s revive him…”

Leonhardt revives the corpse, which has teeth marks and blood on its upper body.

The revival is successful; the previously flowing blood returns to the body, the wounds are sealed, and the body begins to twitch and move.

“This… This is…”

“Welcome to the Norun Dungeon! Could you please tell me your name?”

“…Douglas. I am a Knight of the Church of the Goddess. Thank you so much for saving my life.”

The church knight bows deeply, perhaps because he has calmed down after drinking the water Lysette has given him. His armor had been damaged, but his sword and the cargo he was carrying were unharmed.

“We’re all on the same side in Dungeon. Don’t worry about it.”

“No, I will repay your generosity someday.”

Leonhardt smiled and remained silent.

“You would have been in the Mimic’s belly by now if we hadn’t met you. Your friends are probably worried about you.”

“No…I’m acting on my own.”

“So you came all the way here by yourself?”

Lysette was both surprised and impressed by him.

“But why is a church knight alone in the dungeon?”

“I was actually looking for someone.”

“In the Dungeon? Is it an adventurer?”

Finding someone in the dungeon must be difficult.

“She’s not an adventurer, but a criminal… a vicious criminal named Lysette. Do you know who she is?”

“Yes—My name is Lysette.”

“H-hahaha.”

“Fufufu.”

The sound of happy laughter reverberates throughout the labyrinth.

“Seriously, I’m looking for a sinner with the heart of a demon, as strong and ferocious as a Giant-Killing-Bear before hibernation. Not a dainty one like you.”

“Ara, am I comparable to a Giant Killing Bear?”

“That’s not the part to be happy about, Lysette.”

—It was a privilege to be compared to such a powerful and beautiful ground monster.

Despite the fact that Leonhardt is stunned.

“But it’s not a mistake. I am Lysette, the sinner. How can I help you?”

“Huh? Really? Are you certain it’s you?!”

“I suppose so.”

The church knight’s expression darkens, and the air becomes heavy and dark.

“… I’m sorry. I need a moment.”

He says this weakly as he walks away with the dazed gait of a zombie.

“I’m not sure what’s going on here… Should we start preparing dinner now, Leon?”

“Lysette—You stay here.”

“Eh? That’s…”

Leonhardt pursues the church knight before Lysette can stop him.

“What impatience.”

Lysette lets out a small sigh when she is left alone.

—Well, I suppose I should start preparing the meal.

—We should eat whenever possible.

—The church knight, too, must be hungry. I’d like to offer him something warm to eat.

She looks around for a good place to cook.

“Hmm… T-This is…?”

Then she discovers several plant roots growing between the broken stone walls.

【Appraisal】Yam Roots. The vines wrap themselves around living things, strangling them and using them as fertilizer for themselves.

—I don’t need to be concerned; it’s just the roots.

This is the same plant monster she saw in the first layer.

She pulls out a knife that she found while searching and cuts the roots into chunks. The roots’ shivering from time to time is a sign of freshness.

It’s the same thickness as Lysette’s wrist. The cross section is as white as snow, with a fine and smooth texture.

“It does look delicious. What kind of food should I prepare now?”

She wants to use the mimic she caught for the main course.

To do so, she must first conduct research on the Mimic.

She returns to the Mimic, which is frozen, and thaws it out. From the outside, it looks like a completely cracked treasure chest.

Lysette made an important discovery while studying the structure of the mimic.

She was about to inform his companions when she noticed the two were gone and pursued them.

She soon found them.

However, the atmosphere was not conducive to casual conversation.

The tense atmosphere made her cower. They appeared to be about to draw their swords.

—Eh? Why?

Lysette should be the church knight’s target. Why is he so eager to confront Leonhardt? It’s incomprehensible.

“Do church knights in this country brandish their swords at their benefactors? What a dedication to duty. I’m not sure whether it’s piety or blind faith.”

Leonhardt says this provocatively.

“You dare to point a sword at the Goddess Church?”

A low voice quietly echoes.

Insults to the Church and its faith will not be tolerated by the Church Knights.

“Are you going to use the church’s authority as a shield? —Unfortunately, I am not a member of the Church of the Goddess.”

Leonhardt maintains his cool while sharpening his blade.

Blood will be spilled at this rate.

Lysette does not want to see people fighting in the dungeon.

Leonhardt also stated that fighting among adventurers is prohibited.

—First, we need to talk about what’s more important…

Lysette can’t take it any longer and speaks up.

“Um, sir knight, Leon. Please assist me with the cooking.”

“…I’ve got other things to do.”

—other things to do?!

Leonhardt’s words made Lysette tremble with anger.

She was enraged by Leonhardt’s words, as if he was ignoring her food, despite the fact that the most important things in the dungeon are food, sleep, and hygiene.

You can only perform well if both your body and mind are in good working order.

Her stomach is churning with rage.

“Freeze!”

“”Hu—””

Instantly, she magically freezes their swords, sheaths, and feet, preventing them from drawing their swords and moving.

She looks at the two men who are frozen and immobilized.

“Sir Knight, we can fight later—I’m not going to run or hide—If you have anything to say to me, please do so after dinner—Please assist me right away!”

“Y-Yes!”

Chapter 20: Mimic Gnocchi With White Sauce

“I just found out something amazing. The part of the Mimic that resembles a treasure chest is its exoskeleton!

Leonhardt and the church knight look at Lysette blankly as she shows them the mimic’s belly, which is spread out on the floor.

The Mimic had a black belly, a large mouth filled with sharp fangs, and a long red tongue lolling out.

“The toes have the structure of a crab or shrimp and are filled with meat inside! But I don’t have the strength, so could you two cut Mimic’s toes make a cut in the shell?”

With a puzzled expression on his face, the church knight raises his hand.

“What are you doing?”

“Because I intend to cook it?”

Lysette tilts her head when asked the obvious.

“Are you planning on eating monsters?! You might die!”

“Don’t worry, Fufu. I can disable the poison and thoroughly cook it.”

“…Are you that desperate?!” To the point where you’re forced to eat a monster?!”

“There was definitely that aspect at first, but now it’s just fun!”

“Fun…?!”

Lysette gave a nod.

“Yes. It’s fun to eat the monsters and live off the dungeon’s blessings.”

There is the sound of cracking shells and joints.

Lysette starts the Mimic toes in salted water and boils them. When the toes are boiled, they turn bright red, making it easy to see how well they are cooked.

Lysette peels the yam roots between boiling the mimic, then boils them, purees them after, mixes them with flour and eggs, rolls them into bite-sized pieces, and boils them again.

She makes the white sauce next. She melted the butter, sautéed chopped onions and dried maitake mushrooms in it, then seasoned with flour.

When the sauce has been thoroughly cooked, she adds the water and brings it to a simmer.

Finally, she adds shelled mimic toes slices and quickly cooks them over the boiled gnocchi.

“Mimic gnocchi with white sauce is ready!”

Lysette devoured the gnocchi that had been divided into three portions.

first bite. Another bite.

The butter and onion flavors, mushroom flavor, and Mimic flavor combine.

The mimic is still shelled, but it is easy to remove and eat. With each bite, you can feel the white fibrous meat.

“It tastes like shrimp.”

“It’s a shrimp. Delicious.”

Leonhardt, who began eating at the same time as her, agrees.

—Mimics have a shrimp flavor. Another new discovery!

“This gnocchi is smooth and chewy as well—how delectable.”

“You’re eating a monster, Oh my Goddess.”

The Church Knight stared at the Lysettes’ food, as if he couldn’t believe his eyes. His brow furrowed, and tears streamed down his cheeks.

Then he smelled the food on the plate in his hand and his stomach growled.

The church knight takes a bite as if he had made up his mind.

As he chews, his tense face gradually relaxes.

“It’s delicious…”

With a stunned expression, he muttered.

“I’ve never eaten anything like… I can’t remember the last time I ate such delicious food…”

“You’ve had a difficult time—please, go ahead, keep eating.”

As she eats, Lysette simply boils the rest of the mimic meat in salted water.

She never gets tired of eating and is filled with joy no matter how much she eats.

“Mimics are fascinating. It’s a phony treasure chest that deceives people, but it also has a delicious side!”

“…You really enjoy it, don’t you?”

The church knight exclaims

“…Lysette-san—How do you feel about Saint-sama?”

Lysette is taken aback. After all this time, she hadn’t expected to be asked about Meldiana again.

The church knight’s expression was solemn.

“Hmm, I’m trying to live my life, and I don’t think about her much…”

She speaks the truth honestly.

She used to think about Meldiana occasionally, but now that she’s enjoying life in the dungeon, she doesn’t have time to do so.

“Do you never hold grudges?”

“… I’m not sure. I just hope she’s happy.”

That is the unvarnished truth.

She no longer wishes to be distracted by Meldiana. All that matters is that she is in a stable environment and is focused on her work at Saint. And forget about Lysette; she doesn’t want any more drama.

“…You can’t see everything about a person by looking at one side… That is undeniably true.”

—Is he referring to the mimic, or monsters in general?

Lysette just nods as she silently extracts the meat from the shell.

—Anyways, what a delectable mimic meat is! If this delicacy becomes popular, the Mimics will be driven out of the Dungeon.

Lysette then suddenly remembered something she discovered while investigating the Mimic.

“Sir Knight.” Doesn’t this belong to a knight of the church?”

Lysette presents the medal she discovered in the Mimic. It was most likely removed when the mimic devoured him.

The medal is given to a knight when he is appointed as a knight of the church.

“Y-Yes, it is mine.”

He accepts the medal with trembling fingers, clutching it tightly and staring down.

A knight of the church is a man who has given the goddess his life, heart, and fortune.

The depth and sincerity of their devotion is well known, and Lysette is well aware of it.

Lysette was relieved that the medal had been returned to its rightful owner.

“That’s right. I’d give my life only to the goddess…”

The church knight looks up a few moments later. There it was. His eyes were clear, as if he had overcome his doubts.

“I apologize for causing you so much trouble. I’m returning to the surface.”

“Did you not want me?”

“It’s…no longer required.”

With a sigh of resignation on his face, the church knight said this.

A ball of light then appears when the Church Knight uses the Return Gate. The Church Knight returns his gaze to Lysette and Leonhardt in front of the mysterious soft light.

“I’ve been wondering what the right thing to do is since I arrived at the Dungeon. But, because of you, I am no longer lost. Everything I am is dedicated to the Goddess, not the Saint.”

“Ara? I’m glad I could help you.”

“You returned it to me. Here, this is the least I can do.”

“Well, thank you very much!”

The Church Knight gave her his precious food that the Mimic had been unable to consume.

Lysette embraces it as she watches the church knight vanish into the light of the Return Gate.

As the mysterious light fades, the church knight vanishes, and the dungeon returns to silence.

“He was a decent man. But what exactly is he doing here?”

“I’m not sure. I’m just saying it’s alright. It’s pointless to be concerned.”

“That’s right.”

Lysette turns to face Leonhardt.

Leonhardt’s feelings for Lysette remain unchanged, despite hearing the church knights refer to her as a sinner. He does not request any additional information.

Lysette appreciates it.

Chapter 21: Ghoul’s Trap

In the dungeon, there is no such thing as day and night.

As the concept of time blurs, the timing of meals and breaks follows instinct.

“Should we take a break today?”

Leonhardt says to her in a place that is a room where they can sleep and rest.

“Yes, I think so. I’m a little tired.”

“We’ll take turns watching. You can take a break now.”

“Can’t I just put up a barrier?”

Lysette has a habit of putting a barrier around herself when she eats or rests. If a monster attacks you while you’re doing something else, you have no chance of getting away scot-free.

“That would be great. But it’s better if someone is awake, just in case.”

“Okay.”

She obeys, makes a magical campfire, casts the barrier, and spreads the sleeping bag on the ground.

“Good night, Leon.”

“Well, good night.”

She climbed into her sleeping bag and promptly fell asleep, probably more tired than she expected. Then she had a strange dream…

A strange dream where everything seems to be too quiet, like red, loud, or extreme colors.

Leonhardt and she switched watches and went to bed twice that night until they got rid of their fatigue.

After the last shift, she washed her face and made breakfast. The last unicorn meat, a soup with dried antidote grass, harpy eggs and some butter.

Then she lightly baked the bread.

“Good morning, Lysette…”

She considers waking Leonhardt, but he rises before she can say anything.

“Good morning. Dinner is prepared.”

Warm soup and crusty bread nourish both the body and the spirit.

“…By the way, Leon, do you know any monsters that make you dream?”

Lysette heaved a sigh of relief as she took a sip of her drink and asked a question during a conversation.

“Hmm… Did you have an unusual dream?”

“I can’t remember exactly—I think I had a dream where a woman was talking to me… I’m not sure how to put it, but it was a very colorful, strange feeling…”

“I take it it’s not a succubus…”

“What’s a succubus?”

Leonhardt paused for a moment before answering.

“… No, let’s not talk about it anymore.”

“No way! You have aroused my intellectual curiosity!”

According to Leonhardt, it is most likely a monster that appears in or manipulates a dream. It is a dangerous monster that appears while you are asleep and unprotected. However, if it only appears in a dream, it can’t do too much damage.

—Anyway, I am curious.

Leonhardt hesitantly opened his mouth.

“… It’s a monster that steals your life force in your dreams—it appears as your ideal opposite sex in your dreams—naked and bare-bottomed.”

“P-Pervert?!!”

Lysette instinctively cried out.

Perverted monsters, ruthless and shameless.

“Isn’t that just perverted?! No matter how ideal your partner is, it’s just scary when you come out like that!”

“It can’t be helped because it’s true.”

” …Seriously, who would fall for such a monster?!”

Leonhardt quickly averts his eyes.

“…I’m not sure because I’ve never met one before.”

“…”

This seems suspicious to her. But she’s not interested in finding out. There are things in this world you don’t need to know.

Lysette extinguishes the magic fire and releases the barrier as the meal is finished and they are ready to leave.

Just as they are about to continue their exploration, Leonhardt’s expression changes. She follows his gaze and notices an unsteady figure approaching.

Lysette notices the details of a dazed gait as she prepares to cast her spell.

It was a beautiful woman.

She had long black hair and morbid white skin. Her clothes were dirty and she had no shoes on. She seems to have been held captive for a long time and managed to escape.

The woman looks at them with tired eyes and says in a trembling voice.

“Please help me…. Please help me…”

“Are you okay!!?”

Lysette, who was about to run to her, is calmly stopped by Leonhardt, who stands in front of her.

The woman’s moist eyes look up at Leonhardt as if appealing to him.

“Please help me—my friends are…”

“…All right. We will go. Please show me the way.”

“Yes, thank you—this way…”

The woman leads them through the corridors of the labyrinth.

The woman is uncertain, but she seems physically strong and walks without stopping. She must be eager to help her friends as quickly as possible.

Lysette tenses up; she can’t shake an uneasy feeling that has been plaguing her for a few minutes. It’s as if an unknown insect is coiling around her feet.

Then…

Before the deep darkness, the woman’s footsteps come to a halt.

Behind the darkness lies a room. In the back of the room some black shadows were moving.

They were walking corpses. A swarm of moving corpses with blue-black skin and yellow fangs and claws stared at them.

—Zombies? No, that’s!

“It’s a group of ghouls! Lysette!”

“I got it! Fire arrows!”

Flaming arrows are fired from behind Leonhardt’s 【Holy-Shield】.

【Appraisal】Ghoul. A being whose corpse is haunted by a ghost.

The flaming arrows from the front pierce the ghouls who have rushed to the narrow exit.

The flames consume the corpse from within. Leonhardt’s 【Holy-Shield】 kept the ghouls at bay as they burned until they were reduced to ash before Lysette’s eyes.

“Zombies and ghouls are two different monsters. Both have human corpses and try to eat humans, but the ghouls are smarter.”

Leonhardt says this after the enemy is completely gone.

“The female form of the ghoul is particularly intelligent and attractive and tries to seduce living humans.”

“How did Leon find out…?”

The beautiful ghoul lady. The flames consumed her, as they did all the other ghouls.

“Yes, her face was made up, but the rest of her skin was pale and she smelled like a corpse.”

“Ah, I see…”

Lysette realized how inexperienced she was.

This is a dungeon, the lair of a monster. Monsters have intelligence and appetites and will devour you if you’re not careful.

“In the dungeon, it’s eat or be eaten…”

Lysette took this fact to heart once again and continued her way through the darkness of the dungeon.

“… No, they don’t usually eat you.”

Chapter 22: The Thief Wants to Join the Party

After leaving Ghoul’s room, they take two food breaks before continuing their exploration.

They’ve already done a lot of exploring, but there’s still no way out of the third layer.

“This is a safe zone. It’s a good thing, too. Let’s take a break here.” says Leonhardt

Exploring the third layer, they discovered a room with three walls on three sides, where there were no signs of monsters.

On the right wall was a well pit from which clean water flowed at a rapid pace. The water collected in a basin below and flowed into a drain before disappearing.

There was also a fire pit and three large wooden platforms on which to sit or spread out a sleeping bag.

“What exactly is this room? It’s very well equipped.”

“It’s one of the safe zones of the dungeon—you can be sure there are no monsters here.”

Lysette wondered who on earth could have designed such a room.

Lysette had a strange feeling, but she thought it was okay for Leonhardt to say so.

“The dungeon is a strange place—I’m curious to know what this slab is…. [No Obstacles on the Path of Truth]?”

She read the words written on the sign on the front wall.

“Is it some kind of riddle?”

“There are many traps on the third layer, so it might have something to do with that.

“According to the text, the right way is the one without traps.”

“Most of the traps in the dungeon are cruel and nasty, and many of them are deadly. You should be careful.”

Leonhardt splashes water on his face.

“What kind of traps are there?”

“The tucking trap is a common type of trap—you are suspended with a rope tied around your legs or neck.”

Lysette was shocked. A leg or even a neck can kill you in an instant or slowly.

“Traps, spears and arrows often emerge from the floor, ceiling and walls. I was once trapped in a room when the ceiling collapsed and water poured in, nearly drowning me.”

“I’m surprised you’re still alive after all those deadly traps.”

“No, I died a few times… Not all traps and gimmicks can be disarmed, even by a thief or a locksmith.”

Leonhardt beams brightly. He looks like he’s talking about a good memory.

“However, if a thief is present, the traps can be disarmed more quickly. They are essential for exploring dungeons…”

“Hmm… I wish there was a thief somewhere.”

“…I wonder if we have no choice but to negotiate with another group and let them accompany us.”

“Negotiate…”

—Do we have any leverage in the negotiations? I hope the 300,000 gold I have is enough, but I don’t know what the market rate is for adventurers.

—The only other things I can offer are ingredients.

Leftover mimic and Kraken meat as well as potatoes, onions, flour, butter and cheese from the Church Knight frozen are stored.

“All right, this time we’ll make a stew.”

—Let’s have a meal first and then negotiate later if there is one.

“Could you peel and dice the potatoes, Leon?”

“Sure.”

Lysette fries the onions until they are soft before mixing them with the oxtail potatoes and barley. Once the onions are cooked, she kneads them with butter and flour before stretching them with water to make a white sauce.

When the vegetables are cooked, she adds the thawed mimic and Kraken fillets, seasons them with spices and cheese shavings, and grills the top lightly with fire magic.

“It’s ready! Mimic and barley stew are served here.”

The slightly burnt cheese on the top looks nice and stimulates the appetite.

“Itadakimasu!”

They sit down next to each other at the wooden table and are about to eat when the door to the safe zone opens.

A skinny brown-haired adventurer rushes in, pursued by a horde of zombies, and slams the door firmly shut.

“… Thank God… Hey, don’t open the door for a while, because there are zombies out there!”

With those words, he breathed on his shoulder and walked over to the watering hole to get a drink.

He was a young adventurer about Lysette’s age, about sixteen.

After he finished his drink, he turns his head, and their eyes met.

“…Do you have any room left in your party?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“I am Dee, a thief. Please allow me to join your party!”

【Appraisal】Human. The most prosperous race on the planet.

—Surely not a ghoul or a monster.

She looked at the young thief.

One appeared out of nowhere, and it was so convenient that Lysette suspected a trap and immediately used Appraisal against him.

Leonhardt stood up and confronted the thief, who went by the name Dee.

“We appreciate your offer, but why are you alone? Was someone from your group killed?”

“They are…”

He hesitates.

Lysette is also curious if there are any circumstances that make it difficult to say…. but right now she’s more interested in the stew.

“Let’s have dinner first. Dee-san is welcome to join us.

“You don’t mind?”

“Of course!”

She spoons the stew into a bowl and hands it to Dee.

With a twinkle in his eye, Dee looks at the stew.

“Wow. You can eat so well in the dungeon?! What kind of meat is this?”

“Mimic meat.”

“Mimic? You’re eating a mimic monster?!”

He is dumbfounded, but swallows it anyway.

“Ha~a. I ate it, damn mimic!”

“Do you hold a grudge against Mimics?”

“No one who works as a thief likes Mimics! Nom, It definitely tastes good…”

He eats it like he’s shoveling it down his throat with gusto.

The mimic and Kraken meat are delicious and the oatmeal has a nice crunchy texture. The sweet potato was soft and its rustic flavor harmonized well with the flavors of the stew.

“W-Wow, I really ate it—huh? Did I really eat mimick meat?!”

Dee, who was holding his stomach as if he was full, suddenly came to his senses and covered his mouth in shock.

His face turned all blue, having previously turned red.

“That’s not all! There’s a Krake— mmm mm.”

Leonhardt covered Lysette’s mouth as she tried to tell him that there was also Kraken meat in the stew.

“Are you diving while eating monsters?!”

“Yes! of course.”

She answers, tearing Leonhardt’s hand away.

“…This is crazy…”

The look he gives Lysette and Leonhardt is of a different sort.

Dee jumped up.

“My mistake. I don’t want to bring up the subject of monsters—none of these monsters appeal to me.”

“But didn’t you eat mimic meat?”

“I was cracking up earlier because I was so hungry! Those monsters have hurt me way too many times! I just got back at them!”

Lysette thought that was a strange logic.

It’s just an emotional debate.

“You know, a lot of monsters taste better than mimics.”

“No, I don’t want to know about that world!”

In a full-body rejection, Dee covered his ears and covered his head.

Lysette, as expected, will not impose herself on anyone who does not want to belong.

Just as Lysette is about to give up on the idea of celebrating, the door opens again from outside.

A group of four adventurers rush in after defeating the zombie hordes outside.

“Oh, there’s someone here—Oh! It’s Dee! You parasite! I see you found your next host!”

Chapter 23: Companions

Four men entered the safe zone. A balanced group of two warriors, a mage, and a healer gives an adventuring party a familiar feeling.

The warrior, the leader of the group, chuckled.

“You better not invite that shitty thief to join you.”

“I don’t think you should talk like that.”

—I wonder if he meant that as a warning. The words chosen and the way they are spoken are not pleasant to hear.

“A shitty thief is a shitty thief! He’s useless in combat, he doesn’t notice the presence of the enemy, he constantly fails to disarm traps, he’s useless in everything!”

“Because you don’t pay attention to me…”

“Good thing the other members learned the unlocking spell, otherwise we would have been wiped out long ago!”

“…”

Unlocking Magic. Lysette was amazed that such a thing existed.

Still, it’s not a pleasant way to listen to the words.

“He was a senseless waste of time and money. I invited him to the party because he is an old friend of mine. But I see this parasite is still looking for a host to attach to!”

Dee frowns and remains silent.

“Even if there is a problem with his abilities, it is against humanity to fire him in the dungeon.”

Leonhardt was angry. Silent, deep and angry.

“What the hell is humanity? Can you eat it?!”

He smiles, but the muscles in his face are tense. He is clearly angry.

“Have you ever thought about how inhumane it is to abandon someone in the dungeon?”

“… I’ll give you some friendly advice. Join him and be destroyed!”

In a fit of rage, he stormed out of the room, followed by his companions.

“… Don’t they need to rest first?”

“You’re an amazingly good-natured fellow, aren’t you?”

Dee sighed heavily and muttered. His expression was solemn.

“They’re right. I’m useless as a thief. I apologize for interrupting you.”

“Wait a second!”

Dee turns and walks away.

“I still welcome you, Dee-san. For us mimic-eaters, there are no bad people!”

“I don’t think that’s a valid assumption.”

Leonhardt murmurs quietly, but his voice is lost on Lysette.

Dee shakes her head and looks at Lysette, slightly surprised.

“…No, didn’t you hear what they said about me?”

“Why don’t you come with us for a while, if you have no other options? It will be difficult to explore the dungeon alone. So we thought it would be nice to have a thief join us.”

Leonhardt tried to talk Dee out of it, but he hesitated.

“And if you find another group along the way that wants to hire you, you can join them.”

“What’s wrong with you guys…? I refuse to eat monsters! I refuse to give up my dignity!”

That seems to be the main reason why he refuses to join them.

Lysette nodded her head.

—The monster cuisine is delicious and nutritious, and while it can go wrong, so can normal food. I don’t think it’s something to be avoided.

“You don’t lose your dignity by what you eat—but if you don’t eat it, you will die.”

Leonhardt’s words were powerful and convincing.

Dee seemed to grow more optimistic. His gaze was no longer on the door, but in their direction.

“Then we’ll skip Dee-san’s monster meal, why don’t you come with us?”

“W-Why are you going this far?”

“Because we need your help.”

Dee’s resolve seems to have been shaken by Lysette’s suggestion. His face becomes hesitant and his body turns alternately toward the exit and toward them.

“…Are the other members of the group out exploring?”

“There are no other members—there are only two of us.”

“You two have made it this far?! You guys are pretty strong.”

Dee was taken aback.

Lysette doesn’t like the term “powerful”. The church knight she met recently had ascended to the third level all by himself, so she still had a long way to go.

“That reminds me, I haven’t even introduced myself yet—my name is Lysette.”

“My name is Leonhardt. But you can call me Leon.”

“Lysette and Leonhardt?”

He gets a strange look on his face as soon as he hears their names, as if he is recalling something unsettling.

“You should get out of here—the party leader has a grudge against you. If you sleep quietly, he might attack you in your sleep.

“Did we do something to him that he has a grudge against?”

“I can’t remember.”

Leonhardt sighs and shakes his head.

“Didn’t you have a fight in the guild?!”

“Well, if there was one, it was a long time ago. We haven’t been on the surface for a long time.”

There was some trouble in the guild, but they don’t remember who was involved.

“…so Is it one-sided? It’s rather pathetic…”

Dee makes a sympathetic expression.

“Thank you for informing us, but are you sure? We may have to fight them.”

Lysette is against human-to-human conflict.

—But if they attack us, of course we’ll fight back.

“… If we have to. I’m not on their side anymore…”

“…”

Leonhardt quietly approaches the door and looks outside while keeping it closed.

He looked for a sign and looked back out of breath.

“Let’s go, Lysette, Dee.”

“Wait a minute—I’m going to stow my luggage.”

They packed their belongings and put out the fire.

They prepared to go outside, with Leonhardt leading the way.

They kept an eye out for the group of adventurers they had seen earlier, not the monsters.

And were surprised to see them so soon, but with their swords drawn.

“Die!”

Leonhardt lunges with his shield to block the sword, which is then quickly and decisively deflected.

Leonhardt then steps on the warrior’s stomach and hurls him in front of the other warrior. The two collide in a tangled heap on the ground.

“I hope you’re ready for this, now that you’re pointing your sword at me!”

Leonhardt utters his final warning in a cold, stern voice.

But the answer was fire magic from the sky.

The mage’s fireball flies toward Leonhardt.

—Danger!

【Manipulation Magic】【Water Magic(Intermediate)】

Lysette casts a spell slightly stronger than her opponent’s fire magic and hits the fireball with the opposite attribute’s magic.

The fire and water magic cancel each other out, and the last of the water magic rained down on the area.

Then,

“Freeze!”

The water magic froze the area around the ground, immobilizing the opponents.

And Leonhardt quickly knocked out all his opponents who were immobilized. There was no bloodshed. It was a brilliant decision.

When Dee looked at his unconscious former comrades, his eyes were cold.

“I had no idea they were so depraved.”

Lysette checks her surroundings after hearing Dee’s anger and disappointment in his voice, and from the depths of the dark corridor comes the roar of monsters.

“Leon, Dee-san… Let’s take them to the safe zone!”

“What?! Are you serious?!”

Lysette’s suggestion seemed to catch them both off guard, especially Dee.

“If they die in the process, they’ll ‘wake up’ in a bad way.”

—This is a dungeon… Monsters can attack at any time… And you could turn into a zombie…

“They have a return item, so I should be fine. Tsk… Okay, you’re a real softie, aren’t you?!”

“That’s not the case—I just don’t want them to “wake up”. Sleep is important!”

“…You’re such a softie.”

They melted the ice that bound them and moved them to safety.

“I’ll take care of it.”

Leonhardt drags the men, who are unconscious, into the room.

And Dee quietly assists him.

Lysette also helps, and once everyone is safely inside, the room fills.

They will no longer be attacked by the monster and be killed.

Dee awkwardly opened his mouth as they entered.

“… Hey. I’d like to ask you again if I can join you…”

“Sure thing! You’re more than welcome.”

Lysette was happy to hear the offer. She accepts it with a big smile on her face.

“I will prepare Dee-san’s meals without using monster ingredients.”

“Thank you very much. But I don’t need any special treatment.”

Dee turns away and smiles with reddened cheeks.

“I’m going to have dinner with you. I aspire to be one of you.”

“Dee-san…”

“Dee is fine.”

“I’m glad you appreciate the monster cuisine!”

“I honestly have no idea what it is!”

Chapter 24: No obstacles on the true path

“Can I borrow the map, Leon? Oh, it’s actually pretty rough.”

“As long as you can read it.”

Dee compared his map to the one Leonhardt had created during the exploration.

Lysette glanced around the corner at the work.

Dee’s map was meticulous. It looked like the actual passages had been written down. There were numerous notes about trap locations and so on.

Leonhardt’s map, on the other hand, is a crude map with lines and forks, spaces, and dead ends representing roads. The map is rough compared to Dee’s map, but there is no excess or deficiency.

“You two are amazing.”

“If you’re going diving, you should know how to map a labyrinth—let’s see, the only other area we haven’t explored is this one.”

They compare the two maps and determine which areas have not yet been explored.

And they make their way to an unexplored area, but the paths are still the same and unchanged. They would get lost if they didn’t have a map.

Lysette and the others come to a stop just before a fork in the road.

There were two choices in front of them. Above them is a sign.

“There it is again, that signboard. [No Obstacles on the Path of Truth]”

“There must be numerous traps—can you take the lead, Dee?”

“…Alright, but if you leave it to me, please follow my instructions.”

“Yes, of course.”

“Never go wandering.”

Dee says firmly, looking around and leaning against the wall. He picks up a throwing knife and begins tapping the handle here and there against the wall.

—Does he listen to the sound?

“…Maybe this way.”

Dee points down the path.

“Be careful, don’t put your hands on the wall, because there’s a trap there—spears and arrows will be thrown at you.”

“Y-Yes.”

Another fork in the road then appears. Again they follow Dee’s instructions.

“Stop! There’s an Arachne thread at your feet. If you are caught, you will be hanged.”

Although Dee points, Lysette doesn’t notice the thread.

But if she concentrates and looks closely, she can see a thread glinting in the light and rising slightly off the ground.

—If I hadn’t been told, I never would have noticed it.

“…My last group got lost here for a long time. We followed the board, but turned back when we hit a trap.”

Dee chuckles as they proceed.

“I think this is the right way to go, though. It’s just a guess. More traps will come up. Do you want to go back?”

“Why? I’ll leave it up to Dee so you can go your own way. Leon doesn’t seem to mind, does he?”

Dee looks at Leonhardt with slightly worried eyes.

“Experience and intuition are the sources of knowledge. And intuition backed by experience is very accurate. It pays to have faith.”

“You’re exaggerating—you can tell me when we’re safely through this.”

At that exact moment, a spear falls from the sky, which Leonhardt shoots with his 【Holy-Shield】 to save the day.

“…I’m sorry.”

“Likewise.”

As they walked on, they came to a wide, bright passageway.

“There are no traps here—this is the only place we can rest.”

“Right. Let’s take a short break here.

“I’ll set up a barrier.”

Lysette prepared for the rest by setting up a barrier to keep monsters and others out.

They laid their belongings on the ground, built a fire in the corner, and spread out their sleeping bags.

“How does Dee know about the traps?”

Lysette inquires as she prepares to sleep.

When it comes to finding traps in the middle of nowhere, Dee is a magician.

“Traps usually have clues.”

“Clues?

“Yes. The floor might be a slightly different color, or the walls might be hollow. Otherwise, the builders would have been caught by now, right? So you have to look at what’s there to look at and listen to what’s there to hear, like the sound of a mechanism moving. You can tell by listening for things like that.”

“I see…”

“But that’s a very subtle difference, so don’t judge it yourself, but leave it to a qualified professional.”

Lysette was surprised there were any qualifications at all.

—The world is really huge.

“I also have a simple question: why does Dee think  the road with the traps is the right way?”

Dee seems to have taken the opposite path from the plate.

—I don’t want to comment on Dee’s decision, but I’m curious why.

“That is, traps are placed near treasures you’re not supposed to take, or in special places you’re not supposed to go. If they say that the way without traps is the right way, I think they are lying.”

“I understand. [No obstacles on the path of truth] —isn’t that the trap?

“If you understand that, then go to sleep now.”

“Yes, Leon, Dee, good night.”

Having only one other friend in the group eases the burden of sleepless nights quite a bit. Lysette fell asleep quickly, grateful for the company.

—○█○—

After waking up.

She baked the leftover bread for breakfast. She sliced the bread thinly, spread butter on it to make it soft, topped it with cheese, and baked it up.

Lysette couldn’t wait to get to the next layer because the ingredients were running low. She was excited when Leonhardt told her that the next layer would be full of monsters that could be eaten.

Then Lysette and the gang move on, where they find themselves in an unprecedentedly large room.

There is only one straight corridor with deep holes on both sides.

The walls are far away, and the ceiling is much higher. The hole is so deep that there seems to be no floor.

“I see a trail over there.”

There is a straight passage that looks exactly like the one Lysette and the others are in, but it is lower.

And in that hallway are the members of Dee’s former party.

“Oh.”

“Oh, they’re all right. Thank goodness.”

They didn’t seem to have noticed them yet. That’s when it started.

The path the party was walking on below them began to lean sideways.

The group that had been walking down the slope fell down without resistance, like a ball rolling down a slope.

Below is a deep hole with no visible bottom.

“”””HAAAAaaaaa””””

It swallows all cries and hopes.

“Oh my goodness…”

“They have the returned death items; they’ll be fine.”

Dee murmurs, and at that moment four lights appear in the darkness. The lights rose vertically and disappeared from view as they passed through the ceiling.

A returned death item had transported them to the surface.

“All right, let’s move on.”

“Yes.”

A large door blocked their path as they continued down the corridor.

Dee peered through the keyhole, retrieved his picking tool, and inserted a bent piece of metal into the hole.

“All right, I think we’re good to go.”

Click

And the lock is loosened.

“Let’s see if there’s any treasure or monsters waiting for us. Are you guys ready?”

“Yes.”

“Ah.”

Then Dee pushed open the door.

Chapter 25: Dee

The door opened into a large, high-ceilinged room that resembled the great hall of a castle.

There was no sign of life in the room, which was unusually quiet. It looked like there could have been a boss monster or some sort of large-scale mechanics, but all that was present was a single massive stone statue.

A stone statue standing alone, with a human face, a lion-like body, and powerful wings.

They were on the lookout for traps or surprise attacks, but there was no movement.

There was no way to get to the back. It’s a dead end.

—Is there a secret passage somewhere?

A moment later, the stone statue’s eyes light up gold.

“D-Did it just move?”

“That’s a sphinx.”

【Appraisal】Stone Golem. A stone-based magical life form.

—Stone golem?

That’s exactly the kind of stone golem they’ve encountered in the passage so far.

Aside from the size and possible power, it’s probably a stone golem in the form of the Sphinx monster.

—Anyway, I know how to defeat the stone golem. Make ice on the joints, blow it up, and then break it…eh?

[Maggots in the morning, rocks during the day, and fire at night. What exactly is it?]

A deep voice echoes through the hallways.

“…What?”

[Maggots in the morning, rocks during the day, and fire at night. What exactly is it?]

(Awebstories.com) Other interpretations: four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs at night.

Lysette doesn’t understand what the stone golem said, so she asks again, and it politely repeats it. But she has no idea what it means.

“It’s a riddle—if you can solve it, you will be able to pass without difficulty. It will try to eat you alive if you get it wrong or don’t answer.”

—The stone golem is? How can a stone golem eat people?

Lysette’s head is buzzing with questions.

—If a stone golem can eat, that means it’s alive. It means it has internal organs… Does that mean the stone golem can be eaten?!

Lysette’s anticipation grows.

—But It looks like a stone, but has the same exoskeleton as the Mimic? I wonder what it tastes like!!!

“You must know the answer to the riddle if you know so much.”

Leonhardt gave a thoughtful look in response to Dee’s explanation.

“…No, it’s not the Sphinx’s riddle that I’m aware of…”

“Does Leon understand the riddle?”

“…Four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs at night…. Maybe a human being?”

“What?”

Leonhardt continued towards the unconvincing Dee.

“As babies we crawl around on all fours, and as adults we walk on two legs. As we get older, we use a cane, so we have three legs.”

“Ah, I see… Four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs at night—what in the world is that? I don’t get it.”

Dee scratches his head.

Leonhardt is also pondering and has a worried look on his face.

Lysette ponders and comes to a decision. Her face tightens and she lifts her head.

“I got it, this question must be related to the original question.”

“Did you figure something out, Lysette?”

“Yes, knowing the Sphinx riddle, the answer is clearly humanoid. That is…”

People come in many different races, such as humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, lilliputians, ogres, and so on.

Lysette raises her eyes to the Sphinx’s head.

“Dwarf is the answer!”

[Explain.]

“It is said that dwarves came into being when the goddess transformed maggots that gathered around giants. Dwarves were born and lived underground or in caves and rose as blacksmiths who could manipulate fire and iron at will!”

She looked at Sphinx and made a motion with her finger.

“That’s the answer, dwarf, the great blacksmith!”

[Excellent answer! ☆★☆]

A powerful voice full of cheers shakes the hall.

Then the body of the Sphinx is split in half and an amber colored magic stone glows in the middle.

The sphinx comes to a stop as if propelled by the magic stone.

Leonhardt and Dee, who were preparing to fight, lowered their arms.

“I’m pretty sure it was built by dwarves.”

“I think so, too.”

A low murmur echoed through the corridor.

A stairway to the bottom appears at the far end of the Sphinx and the Return Gate.

“The staircase leads to the fourth layer. That was kind of a bummer…”

“That’s because we were all working together—it’s nice to have company. We wouldn’t have gotten this far on our own.”

—I understand why the elven alchemist and guild staff suggested forming a group first.

—What you can’t do alone, you can accomplish with the help of others if you band together.

Lysette is moved to appreciate the value of companionship.

“Okay, let’s go home.”

Dee starts to walk toward the exit to the surface.

Lysette looked lonely as she watched Dee walk straight to the Gate of Return.

—I discovered how wonderful a companion is, and now I understand the loneliness of being alone.

When Dee returns his gaze, he notices Leonhardt and Lysette standing still and smiling at him.

“What’s the problem? You’re not going any further, are you?”

“Yes, we are going on.”

“No, don’t you have to go back and resupply?! That would be dangerous…”

“Thank you, Dee. We wouldn’t have gotten this far without your help. It’s been a pleasure spending time with you.”

They make a deep bow.

Although their relationship was brief, Lysette enjoyed her time with Dee.

—I am relieved to see him leave the Dungeon safely and joyfully.

“Please accept my thanks as well—your help has saved me many times, and I couldn’t have made it through this level without Dee’s help.”

“Really…”

Dee murmured in dismay, letting his gaze wander back and forth between the return gate and Lysette and Leonhardt.

He sighed deeply and turned away from the return gate.

“It’s unavoidable! For once, I’ll accompany you as far as I can.

“Is that alright with you?!”

“Don’t say another word.”

He gives a thumbs up.

Lysette was relieved and encouraged to see him.

“So, what are you guys up to?”

“…Dragon slaying.”

“I didn’t hear anything!”

“And dragon steak, too!”

“Wait, seriously?!”

Dee’s face turns pale and he runs towards the return gate.

“One second though, you can go without me…! Ahhhhh! The return gate is already closed!”

Dee fell to his knees as the glowing return gate disappeared.

“Hahaha. It’s too late.”

“Don’t be so silly! It’s almost impossible to defeat a dragon!”

“Well~ everything is a learning experience. Don’t worry about it. I’m still a beginner too!”

“This is nothing but stress!!!”

Chapter 26: the Disappearance of Saint Meldiana [Side: Meldiana]

Upon her return to the royal capital, Saint Meldiana forced her way back to her family residence, the Marquise of Claudis, as she was not feeling well.

She locked herself in her room, allowing only a few of her servants to enter and not revealing herself to anyone.

Church officials visited Meldiana several times and urged her to stay in the church to recover, but she never complied and never showed herself. Even the next duke, her fiancé.

“Meldiana, Meldiana, my sweet Meldiana.”

Her father, the Acting Marquis, called out to Meldiana once more today, in front of his daughter’s room.

“What’s the problem? You’ve spent the entire day in your room. Everyone is concerned. The priests are expecting you. Prove to them the miracle.”

“…Oto-sama.”

The Acting Marquis was glad to hear his beloved daughter’s voice coming from inside the room.

The Acting Marquis entered joyfully, slowly opening the door from the inside.

“What gives, Meldiana, in such a dark room… and the way you look…”

The room is dark with no curtains.

Meldiana stood at the center, her entire body shrouded in a veil.

Her hair was barely visible through the veil, and her skin and face were completely hidden.

“…Is Oto-sama on my side?”

“Of course. I’ll always be on your side. Meldiana, my dear.”

“…Really?”

“Yes, I will protect you.”

“…Even if I look like this?!”

Meldiana carefully removes the veil. With thin, gloved fingers.

“Ugh… Oh, my God!”

The acting Marquise collapses to the floor, as if he has seen the devil.

“That figure… Me-Me-Meldiana…”

“… It’s Oneesama’s fault!”

“Is it because of Lysette?”

“Yes! Absolutely everything! It’s all on Oneesama! And that damn Dark Elf!”

Meldiana snarls at the trembling Marquess, who is shaking from the waist down.

The dark elf said to Meldiana.

[I’ve made it possible for the life force of nearby humans to be converted into Saint power. You can now bless them…]

Meldiana interpreted this as utilizing the life force of another human being nearby. Everyone would be delighted to devote their lives to Saint Meldiana.

Keeping this in mind, she continued to fortify the barrier.

All the way back to the capital.

Meldiana had no doubt that the ceremony would go off without a hitch, that the suspicion against her would be lifted, and that she would be a saint for many years to come.

The future looked bright, and there was nothing but joy.

—And yet!

Meldiana finally realized her mistake when she noticed the changes in her body.

Instead of depriving the lifeforce of humans near Meldiana, the Dark Elf deprived the lifeforce of those closest to the sacred mark. In other words, Meldiana herself, the host of the sacred mark.

When Meldiana got back to the Royal Capital, she quickly covered herself and ran back to the Marquis’ house.

Nobody else could possibly be aware of these physical changes. She was unable to use her power any longer.

She regretted using her power to strengthen the barrier.

—I’d go back in time if I could!

“Unforgivable… Unforgivable… That Dark Elf. Lysette… I’m not going to forgive them; I’ll never forgive them!”

She bit the veil. Meldiana’s rage will not subside until she has slashed the Dark Elf in half, murdered Lysette, and reverted to her original form.

“Oto-sama, take out the carriage!”

“W-What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to Norun! I’ll be the perfect Saint if I kill Oneesama! I’ll place a bounty on her head and ensure that those filthy adventurers kill her! I’m not going to stop until I see it with my own eyes!”

If a large bounty is placed on Lysette’s head in Norun Dungeon territory.

Adventurers will flock in droves to Lysette’s head.

Lysette has no way out, either inside or outside the dungeon.

Meldiana is dead set on seeing her die.

“Oto-sama—you won’t leave me—right? If you do, I’m sure I’ll bring up Oto-sama and Dark Elf as well.”

“…”

Black magic is prohibited. The Church punishes anyone who is involved in it.

If it is discovered that the forbidden art was used to rip the sacred mark from the original saint, Lysette, and transfer it to another person, the perpetrator, the Acting Marquise, and Meldiana will be held accountable.

There is only one way out of this situation for the Acting Marquise.

Lysette’s existence should be erased from the world.

To make Meldiana into the perfect Saint.

“For both the house and Oto-sama. Oneesama will undoubtedly understand… Fufufu, let’s go kill her, Oto-sama.”

On that day, the church messengers were on their way to the Marquise’s house when they came across a black carriage driving in the opposite direction at high speed.

And the saint vanished from the royal capital that day.

Chapter 27: The Fourth Layer, Wind and Sky

The blue sky, the golden light, the breeze. as well as lush green meadows.

As Lysette and the others went down to the fourth layer, they were met by blinding light and wind.

White clouds floated through the sky, and birds were flying.

The atmosphere was similar to that of the forest in the first layer, but there was less discomfort in the sky here.

and vastly different from the third layer’s narrow, dark labyrinth.

“It’s fantastic… I can’t believe there’s another world beneath the earth…”

“In the dungeon, anything is possible.”

In contrast to Lysette and Dee, who were enthralled, Leonhardt was composed.

“You two, we’ve made it to the middle layer. The monsters are becoming more powerful. You should brace yourself.”

“”Yes.””

Leonhardt was correct. No matter how unbelievable the underground dungeon appears, it is unmistakably a dungeon.

The thing flying in the sky is not a bird, but a bird-shaped monster. It is a harpy, with the head of a human woman.

Common sense does not apply in this situation.

“In any case, we need to get some food as soon as possible—there isn’t much time left.”

“Isn’t that good.”

Dee points to a hill where a gray-haired rabbit stands with its ears up, warily looking at them.

“Even if it’s a monster, you can eat it if it’s a rabbit.”

“That’s an exploding rabbit—it explodes and scatters when hurt.”

“It appears cute but is actually quite fierce.”

“I’m not going to scrape up mincemeat…”

—As expected, raking up food on the ground is difficult. If possible, I’d like to cook something that has been kept in shape.

“The sound of exploding rabbits is said to warn their friends of impending danger—it’s best to kill them from afar, preferably by severing their ignition organs.”

“You’re a cool-headed guy, aren’t you?”

Dee shrugs his shoulders.

“I don’t have a bow and arrow, and my knife has limited range.”

“They’re also extremely suspicious. Lysette’s magic can finish them off when they emerge from their burrows.”

Lysette nodded and took up the unicorn’s horned staff.

“I’ll handle it—let’s go rabbit hunting!”

—My grandmother had taught me how to go rabbit hunting. I’ve even touched and eaten them.

Perhaps because of the disturbing atmosphere, the rabbit escapes up the hill.

“How will we get them out of the burrow?”

“Yes! Throwing snakes into the burrow will bring the rabbits out.”

“If it’s from the place where you can catch a snake, there’s one out in the bushes over there.”

At that moment, a green snake crawls out of the tall grass nearby like a moving thick rope.

It appeared to be a little large to throw down the rabbit hole, but a snake is a snake.

“Whoa, just in time…”

Dee had noticed it as well and was about to catch it when the grass behind it shook violently.

And a massive rooster with a magnificent cock crown slithered out from behind the grass. A bird of prey’s razor-sharp eyes locked on them.

“A big chicken has come out, carrying a snake on its back!”

“No! That’s a Cockatrice!”

【Appraisal】Cockatrice. A cockatrice is a cross between a rooster and a poisonous snake. It has a rooster’s body and a venomous snake as a tail. It has a potent venom.

The Cockatrice takes flight in their direction. Its sharp, hooked claws are aimed at the approaching Dee’s neck.

—Fire ball!

Lysette fired a small magical fireball, striking the head of a Cockatrice rooster, startling him and blinding him.

As soon as the cockatrice wobbles in the air, Leonhardt pushes Dee out of the way, preparing his stance, and cuts off the head of the cockatrice with his sword.

The snake’s head is also severed with his sword.

Leonhardt draws his sword just as the cockatrice collapses, having lost two heads.

“I need you to clean the sword, Lysette—the cockatrice’s venom has seeped into the sword.”

“Yes!”

The black blood attached to the sword is attempting to envelop the entire weapon, producing gray smoke.

Lysette casts purification magic, and it instantly vanishes.

Leonhardt takes up the purified sword and sheathes it before returning his gaze to Dee, who is still lying on the ground.

“I thought I was going to die…”

“I’m sorry for pushing you—are you hurt?”

“Thanks, That’s a lot better than getting kicked in the head.

Dee grabs Leonhardt’s extended hand and stands up.

“Since it’s here, let’s have some cockatrice dishes!”

“Doesn’t it contain poison?”

“The poison is only found in the snake’s body—the rooster is not poisonous and will not harm you.”

“There’s also Purification Magic, and I see anti-poison grass everywhere!”

She picked up some anti-poison grass that had sprouted right at her feet. It had a pleasant aroma. fresh and high-quality. Lysette planned to pack some and make—herb-roasted cockatrice.

“Ara?”

When she looked up, she noticed three harpies flying around, watching them.

They’re chirping at each other in high-pitched voices, possibly talking about something.

“They’re scary, aren’t they?”

“But they don’t seem to be attacking us. They’re most likely just being cautious.”

Leonhardt grabs the cockatrice’s ankle and begins walking. He makes his way towards the nearest forest.

“Let’s switch places—the harpies are most likely going to interrupt our meal.”

“Interrupt? In what sense?”

Leonhardt opens his heavy mouth after a brief pause.

“…Fi…”

“Fi?”

“They’ll spray filth from the sky…”

“Dear Goddess.”

“That’s how they plan to steal our food.”

He appeared depressed, as if he remembered an unpleasant scene.

“Isn’t it true that they’re birds? Then I’ll construct a thicker barrier.”

Chapter 28: Roasted Cockatrice and Harpy Pudding

They travel to the forest and hang the cockatrice on a thick enough branch to drain its blood. The snake’s tail is tied at the base to prevent blood from spilling out and then severed.

Leonhardt and Dee went off to look around while Lysette stayed in the barrier and watched the cockatrice’s blood drain.

Alone with the cockatrice, Lysette is thinking.

To pluck its feathers, she would need to gently boil it in a pot to open its pores. However, Lysette’s frying pan will not accommodate a cockatrice of this size.

Lysette ponders.

—How about digging a hole and boiling water in it? But, given the labor and sanitation implications, I’m not convinced. even if the purification magic is capable of cleaning it up.

Leonhardt and Dee return while she is thinking about this.

“Welcome back—how did it turn out?”

“Only cannibalistic plants exist nearby—we got rid of them.”

“The only edible items are some strange berries and an egg.”

“All right, that’s fine. Thank you very much.”

Lysette was overjoyed when she received two large green berries and one large egg.

The berries’ skin was thick, and the insides were dense and heavy.

She places it on a clean spot on the floor and eagerly awaits its opening.

“What kind of egg is it? A cockatrice egg?”

“Cockatrices are only supposed to be male.”

“How do they breed…? nevermind I’m not interested in knowing.”

Leonhardt sighs in response to Dee’s words.

“Oh yeah…! It appears to be a rooster, but it could be a female!”

“Don’t take this seriously. I don’t really care…”

Lysette’s face lit up as she accepted the egg from Dee.

“Ara? This egg appears to be a Harpy’s egg.”

It was the same Harpy’s egg she had purchased from the Dwarf merchant in the second layer and eaten for French toast. They were most likely nested in the forest.

“I’m hoping Kanatsuchi-san is doing well…”

—I’m curious if he’s still selling his wares… I wonder if his unicorn hooves sold well.

Dee was secretly talking to Leonhardt next to Lysette, who was reminiscing.

“Harpy… Is that one? Did you eat it?”

“…”

“Seriously?! Do you eat those eggs?!”

Leonhardt stares in the opposite direction and does not respond.

The Harpy, a bird-like monster with the head of a female human, has been a common sight since they arrived in this layer. Only the face appears human, but the rest of the body is animal.

“A bird monster, the harpy. This is due to the fact that it lays eggs. They taste like regular eggs, so don’t be concerned if you eat them.”

“O-Oh…”

Meanwhile, the blood draining has been completed.

Lysette decides to use a combination of fire and water magic to open the pores for plucking the feathers.

【Manipulation-Magic】【Fire-magic(Intermediate)】【Water-Magic(Intermediate)】

She converts the heat of the fire magic into water, forming a ball of warm water in the air. It gradually envelops and holds the cockatrice.

“Amazing. It’s a dual-attribute magic with such fine magic control… That is not something that just anyone can do.”

“What a waste of talent…”

“It served a useful purpose!”

The hot water surrounding the surface of the hanging cockatrice is dissolved when its pores open. The cockatrice is now producing a cloud of steam.

“Let’s pluck its feathers now.”

They plucked the feathers and used fire magic to burn the remaining feathers. The meat is then cut into pieces after the belly is cut open. As a precaution, the guts are removed.

Wings, chicken breast, or chicken thigh The meat grows in proportion to the size of the base.

Once the meat is done, the rest is refrigerated and placed in the item bags, except for the portion to be cooked.

She rubs salt and spices on the meat before frying it in a frying pan.

Once the skin is well browned, she lowers the heat and steams the meat with the anti-poison grass

The aroma of cooking meat wafts in. When the lid is lifted, the enticing aroma is immediately apparent.

“It’s finished! Cockatrice with anti-poison grass!”

Lysette was satisfied with the result, so she took a plate for everyone.

“Itadakimasu!”

The meat bursts with flavor when she bites into the crispy skin. The meat is firm and light, which lets the flavor of the skin and the anti-poison grass stand out.

“This is delectable. The flavor is intense, and the anti-poison grass adds to the aroma.”

“Oh, I think I can eat all I want! I really need some sake!”

“Ha~a, I ate it!”

After two second helpings, Dee’s satisfied voice echoes. Lysette is pleased to see Dee, who used to despise monster cousins, changing.

“That’s right. Can I crack open those berries?”

She’s interested in seeing what’s inside. If they were filled with tasty pulp, they’d make a nice dessert.

“Help yourself.”

Because the skins are extremely hard, she first makes a hole in them with a sharp stone.

—I wish I had a stake made of iron, but all we have is a sword and a knife. We will break it if we are not careful.

“It appears to be liquid on the inside.”

“Well, then…”

The thick skin cracked open, allowing the white liquid to pour out from within. She then poured it all into the pan and stirred it with the Unicorn’s horn.

“What’s that stick?”

“This is a unicorn’s horn—it can purify the liquid.”

“Unicorn?! You’re becoming increasingly ridiculous.”

Lysette then takes a sip of the liquid and pours it into the cup.

“The thick texture and sweetness… this is most emphatically milk! Oh… how I missed it…!”

“Seriously crying over that…”

Lysette wipes away her tears of joy and pours juice into Leonhardt and Dee’s cups as well.

“Yeah, it’s better than a cow or goat’s.”

“But…It’s so green…”

Leonhardt seemed to enjoy it as much as Lysette did, but Dee’s palate did not. It’s no surprise that it smells greener than real milk because it’s plant based.

Lysette was still excited about Harpy’s eggs, the enigmatic milk berries, and the sugar she was saving.

“Milk, eggs, and sugar—I can make pudding with this much!”

In the frying pan, she boiled water and sugar to make caramel, which she then spooned into each cup.

Then, without washing the pan, she adds milk and sugar, boils the sugar, and then pours the egg mixture into the pan to make the liquid pudding.

She then strains the pudding solution with a coarse cloth and pours it into a cup of caramel, covers it in a watered pan, and slowly steams it with high heat at first, then low heat, and finally carefully chills the temperature with the Water Magic.

“The pudding is done!”

The cold, sweet pudding and the bitterness of the caramel combine and permeate her body as she eats the pudding with a spoon.

“Oh, the joy!”

“Oh my goodness… genius!”

“Lysette is truly incredible.”

“Thank you, Ufufu. It’s all because of you two.”

Lysette laughed as she savored her sweet happiness.

Chapter 29: Explosive-Rabbit Hunting

Following the meal, they rest in the barrier before heading out to hunt for small snakes to hunt for exploding rabbits.

The sky began to change color as they approached the hill. The blue sky was gradually fading and turning red.

“Sunset…? So night is approaching this layer.”

In the first layer, there was no morning or night.

And the sky was invisible in the second and third layers.

Only on the fourth level does the night of the dungeon dawn. The sky is the same in this layer as it is on the ground. The sun is the only thing missing.

“We’d better get moving.”

—Before the sun sets.

Leonhardt accelerates ahead of her. A hill approaches, and they notice a rabbit.

The rabbit has keen ears and is wary. When it runs, it always runs uphill.

Ideally, they should split up and form up and down, but they are up against an exploding monster. So, splitting up is risky.

They’re looking for burrows dug into the slope and attempting to catch them as they emerge from their holes.

A hole is quickly discovered.

A dark chasm in the hillside.

Leonhardt detects a presence within and tosses the snake into the den.

Lysette prepares her magic and awaits its release.

The next thing you know, a gray rabbit, an exploding rabbit, bursts out of the burrow.

The exploding rabbit is startled by their presence and tries to return to the hole, but stiffens as if recalling the snake in the den.

“Freeze Arrow!”

An ice arrow catches the exploding rabbit, or so it was thought.

The exploding rabbit moves quickly and easily avoids the ice arrow. The magic arrow has a tracking function, but it is ineffective when it becomes stuck in the ground. Only the area around the arrow is temporarily frozen before the ice bursts.

Meanwhile, the exploding rabbit flees toward the top of the hill. at a rate that humans can not match.

“It’s escaping! Don’t get your hopes up, damn it!”

Dee’s throwing knife hits the fleeing exploding rabbit in the back.

And

Boom!

It blows up.

Fortunately, Leonhardt’s【Holy-Shield】blocks the heat, dirt, and everything else that comes flying in their way.

When the smell of soot and smoke dissipated, all that was left was a black circle on the ground.

“I’ve done it…”

“It’s not so simple after all. There’s also the risk of an explosion while cooking… why don’t we give up?”

As the smokescreen cleared, they found themselves surrounded by exploding rabbits.

“We can’t escape!”

They were fifteen in number, with dull eyes staring at them. They’re completely surrounded, and there’s no way for them to get away fast.

Even though you can’t see any emotion in their eyes, they appear to be upset because their friend was killed.

If anything, it was Lysette and the others who were about to be hunted for their lives.

“If they explode with that much force, we’re in big trouble.”

Leonhardt raises his shield. Although 【Holy-Shield】 is a powerful ability, it is unclear whether the shield can withstand so many explosions in a row.

Lysette tightens her grip on her unicorn’s horned staff.

—Because they’re so close together, it’s very easy to freeze them.

This is not the time to discuss food.

She fights to keep her friends safe.

She used her skill points to improve her magic, advancing her water magic from intermediate to advanced.

“Leon,【Holy-Shield】.”

【Water-Magic(Advanced)】【Manipulation-Magic】

“Freeze-Storm!”

A cold wind blows.

A white storm blows around her staff, freezing everything in sight.

The exploding rabbits immediately freeze and are knocked down by the wind. When the spell expires, the area transforms into a silver world. The ground is completely covered in ice, which glows red in the setting sun.

The 【Holy-Shield】 protected Lysette and her friends from the cold.

“Is it all over?”

There were no more exploding rabbits in the area. Only ice is left.

The 【Holy-Shield】 was finally removed.

“Amazing… What a magical ability. This is truly…”

“Damn freezing!”

Dee shivers in the rapidly cooling air, rubbing his entire body and stomping his feet on the ground, exclaiming. It’s as if they’re on a snowy mountain.

“Are these guys really edible? We’ll be minced if they explode while cooking!”

He had reason to be concerned.

The blast is far too powerful. They must be carrying gunpowder or something similar in their bodies.

“I agree…”

They were on the verge of giving up when…

“It’s deplorable. What a way to hunt!”

A voice filled with grief and rage rises from the hilltop, carried by the wind.

They look up to see a strong figure standing against the setting sun. The silhouette resembles a small giant because it is short and has a lower center of gravity.

A tingling feeling of intimidation.

Leonhardt takes a protective step forward.

“Take only what you can eat—that’s how you show the dungeon respect!”

—A Dwarf!

When Lysette saw him with a large black beard and a large load on his back, she felt a sense of familiarity.

“Kanatsuchi-san?!”

When she called out to him, his intimidation suddenly eased.

“So you’ve met my brother—I am Kanatoko, Kanatsuchi’s brother.

“They’re siblings…”

Lysette finds out for the first time how hard it is to tell apart siblings of different races.

Kanatoko trudged across the icy field, knelt in front of the frozen exploding rabbit, and stared at it.

“However, this could be a good way to keep it. Cooling the meat all at once makes sense. We just need to figure out how to defrost it… Hmm…”

He’s muttering something as he stares at the frozen rabbit. The intimidation factor had vanished before you knew it.

“Would you mind sharing a little with me? Of course, I’ll be grateful.”

Lysette’s face was filled with curiosity and inquisitiveness.

“Oh, yes, of course!”

Kanatoko stuffed the frozen exploding rabbit into a bag made of woven plant fibers after Lysette agreed.

“Hey, old man! If you’d just stop talking and listen… They nearly killed me! It’s pointless to complain about killing monsters!”

Kanatko opens another bag and stuffs the remaining frozen exploding rabbits in the same manner, ties the mouth tightly, and hands it to Dee, who accepts it while being pushed.

“There is a method to dealing with the exploding rabbit. So follow me and I’ll show you how to keep it from exploding.”

—Should we go with him?

As Leonhardt nodded his head with a strange look on his face, Dee shook his head hard in alarm.

“Let’s go, you two.”

Lysette was motivated by curiosity.

—I might learn more about this dungeon if I follow him.

That piqued her interest.

“Are you guys serious?!”

“He doesn’t sound all that bad.”

“That’s right. And if we follow him, he’ll teach us how to deal with exploding rabbits safely. You do not want to miss out on this!”

Chapter 30: Welcome to Dwarf’s Inn

They walked over the hill to the other side, behind Kanatoko the Dwarf.

There was a house at the bottom of the hill. It was a lovely wooden house surrounded by manicured fields. There were two barns as well.

“This is my residence.”

“Are you living in the Dungeon?!”

“Yes. I also own and operate an inn. Do you want to stay? It costs 3,000 gold per person, including meals.”

“Please, yes!”

Lysette nods vigorously and moves forward when her arm is yanked from behind.

“Hey there, wild boar. Don’t make a decision on your own!”

“Because I’m curious!”

In hushed tones, Lysette exclaims.

“I’m interested in learning how the dwarfs live here and what kind of food they serve.”

Lysette had been living in the dungeon’s first layer for a while, but it had been a survivalist lifestyle, and it was shocking to see Kanatoko living inside the dungeon, building a house and cultivating a farm. She can’t help but be curious about that life.

“What are your thoughts, Leon?”

“Well, he doesn’t seem too bad, so I think it’s all right.”

“Damn softy.”

Lysette doesn’t think of Kanatoko as a bad dwarf. Instead, she thinks of him as a nice dwarf, like Kanatsuchi the Dungeon merchant.

“I’m not sure how long we haven’t had humans in these parts. My arms are twitching.”

Dee shudders at Kanatoko’s mutterings.

“Doesn’t that imply we’re the meal?!”

“It’s like something out of a mountain Ogre legend.”

Leonhardt gives a bitter smile.

“Dee, you think too much. There are plenty of tasty monsters around. He won’t bother eating us.”

Kanatoko, who is walking ahead of them, returns their gaze.

“We’ve got a bath and sake.”

“Sake?! They’ve got sake? Hey, let’s hurry up and go!”

The two-story log house is old, but it is in good condition. It had been well taken care of.

The field next to the house was overgrown with plants, and birds chirped from the shed.

“Kanatoko-san, why do you live in the Dungeon?”

“Dwarfs prefer to be on the ground—besides, everything here is self-sufficient—and my brother occasionally goes out and brings me items from the outside.”

It is almost self-sufficient to live in a dungeon. Lysette envies Kanatoko for having such a comfortable living environment. And she had respect for Kanatoko.

“Do you get attacked by monsters?”

Leonhardt inquires, and Kanatoko responds in the affirmative.

“Well, most monsters avoid this area. There are a few miscreants here and there, but no harm is done.”

“Well…”

It could mean that this house is a safe zone in the dungeon, or it could just be a part of the dungeon itself.

Kanatoko enters the house through the kitchen door rather than the front door. There is a spacious kitchen. He carefully places the bag of rabbits on the well-used work table.

“Now, let’s deal with the exploding rabbit first.”

The exploding rabbit remains as solid as ice. The knife will not go in at this rate.

“I’m going to defrost it.”

He slowly expelled the cold air. While remaining cold, the frozen body softens.

“Mm. Exploding rabbits have an ignition organ in their throats as well as an explosive reservoir near their stomachs. When its body is injured, it emits a special sound and is likely to explode to warn its peers of the danger.”

Kanatoko took out a thick, sharpened knife.

“As a result, when you kill them, you must crush their heads in one blow.”

The knife is dropped with a thud.

“…Drain the blood while in this state—after that, remove the entire guts and proceed as if it were a normal rabbit.”

Lysette keeps a close eye on the masterful knife work.

“You may be tempted to eat it right away, but rabbit meat must be cured. I’ll serve you the rabbit I caught earlier today.”

“Can I assist you?”

“I can’t do that to my guests. I’ll take you to your room and leave you to rest.”

—○█○—

“I’m surprised… He looks right at home in the dungeon.”

Leonhardt was impressed while sitting on the bed in the guest room.

Lysette nods as she organizes her belongings beneath her bed.

“I think it’s wonderful.”

“Me, I’m horrified—this layer may appear to be above ground, but it is, after all, underground—under the earth! I don’t want to live among the monsters!”

As he lies on his bed, looking up at the ceiling, Dee’s viewpoint is probably the most common.

Nonetheless, this Dungeon inn will soothe the adventurers like an oasis in the desert or a cabin in the snowy mountains. Lysette admires Kanatoko, the proprietor of this inn. In her mind, she is now his master.

“So, what brings us all together in this room?

“It’s a four-person room, isn’t it?”

Lysette tilts her head in response to Dee’s question.

There was one room for four and two rooms for two, and they were told they could use any of them, but Lysette and the others were in the only room for four.

It was a nice room.

The room was serene, with wood floors, walls, and ceilings. The beds are comfortable and clean.

“It seems safe here, but it’s not a good idea to leave. We should stick together.”

“Hehehe, if you want, I’ll leave.”

“—Dee! Lysette and I are not like that!”

Leonhardt is flushed and irritable.

“I can’t believe I’m getting in the way~ I’m afraid I’ll cause you problems, but please allow me to accompany you both.”

“Ugh, yes, yes…”

Dee appears to be pleased with what he sees.

The men’s cryptic exchanges are beyond Lysette’s comprehension. So she doesn’t bother.

“While the food is cooking, I’m going to take a bath.”

“Wait a second! Moving away from each other is not a good idea.”

The perplexed Lysette was stopped by the blushing Leonhardt.

“I don’t think we’ll fit in the bath together though?”

“No, no, no! I didn’t mean it that way…”

“Hehehe. And here I thought you were a bit reserved, but it turns out you’re quite bold.”

” No!!”

Chapter 31: Stars, Sea, and Happy Hours

“What a luxury…”

Lysette exclaimed as she immersed herself in the bathtub.

The bathhouse at the Kanatoko inn could accommodate about six people. The washing area and the bathtub were made of stone, and the heat of the water warmed the angular stones of the bathtub, making it comfortable to rest one’s back on them.

The convenience of having the entire bathtub to yourself.

The skylight allows you to see the stars. The luxury of a breathtaking view.

—Although the Purification Magic always gets me clean, there was something special about bathing in warm water.

She warmed up and emerged from the bath feeling both physically and mentally relaxed.

Leonhardt and Dee tended to their weapons at the rest area outside.

“That was a relaxing bath. Who will come next?”

“I’ll come after you.”

Dee takes Lysette’s place in the bathhouse.

Lysette approaches Leonhardt as he cleans his sword. She enjoyed observing him clean his weapons and armor. She saw how he carefully wiped away the dirt and applied first aid to the damaged areas.

“This sword is also deteriorating…”

Leonhardt muttered, his face tense as he examined the freshly cleaned sword.

“Why don’t you have Kanatoko-san look at it? I believe he has a forge here.”

“Right. I’ll talk to him about it.

“Leon’s sword and shield are excellent. They’ve been well cared for.

“Thank you. They were forged by a dwarven blacksmith.”

Leonhardt beams with pride.

Dwarfs are masters of fire and iron, and their dexterity has earned them this title. Dwarves create the majority of the legendary weapons and armor.

Lysette also considered having a Dwarf-made knife made for her one day.

“Do you notice anything about this starry sky, Lysette?”

Leonhardt draws back his sword and gazes out the window.

Lysette raises her head and follows Leonhardt’s gaze. The window in the quiet room is large and provides a good view of the outside world.

She can see countless stars from there.

“It’s a beautiful sky, isn’t it? Is something wrong?”

“It’s not a big deal. I discussed it with Dee, but the stars are in slightly different positions.”

“The position of the stars?”

Lysette raises her gaze to the night sky once more. However, it appears to be a starry sky. She recognizes some of the stars but can’t recall their exact positions, so it doesn’t feel particularly strange.

“Perhaps it’s another world’s or another time’s sky.”

“What an odd story…”

“There are so many things we don’t know about the dungeon. That is why so many people flock to it.”

“I completely understand how you feel.”

The longer you stay in the dungeon, the more enigmatic it becomes.

“But how did you find out? I’m not sure where the star’s position is.”

“Because I used to gaze at the night sky while traveling by ship.”

“Isn’t Leon a long way from home?”

Leonhardt turns, and their gazes lock.

“I’ve heard a lot about the sea. I’ve eaten seafood, but I’ve never been to the sea.”

—The sea.

After defeating the primordial giants, the goddess flooded the land with a sea of death. She sealed it shut to keep the giants from rising again.

Even the sea of death. Lysette is drawn to the mystery and power of life—the life that can still be found in the sea of death.

“What is the sea really like?”

“I believe Lysette will enjoy it. I can take you there if you want. I can take you on a sea voyage and show you how to see the stars as much as you want.”

The sea, a distant dream in Lysette’s mind, becomes a reality that will one day be within reach thanks to Leonhardt’s words. For a brief moment, she thought she heard the sound of an unknown tide.

“Thank you so much! I’m really looking forward to it!”

After everyone had bathed, they were summoned to the dining room after dinner had been prepared. There was a lot of food on the dining room table.

“Oh, wow! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many dishes.”

For the main course, there was roast rabbit, a vegetable rabbit quiche with eggs, a stew soup with lots of vegetables, fresh salads, and fresh, fluffy bread. There was also sake.

“Itadakimasu!”

They join our hands to thank Kanatoko for the food, life, and creation, and then they begin to eat.

“It’s so tasty…!”

They are quickly drawn in by the bold yet delicate cooking and seasoning.

“Damn, that’s good! This sake is also very good!”

“Yes, everything is wonderful. I could eat as much of this meat as I wanted!”

“Haha! There’s plenty more where that came from. You are free to eat as much as you want!”

—○█○—

Dee falls asleep quickly when they return to our room after dinner.

Lysette sets up the barrier and sits on the bed just in case.

“That was delicious, wasn’t it?”

“It was, indeed.”

“I wish I could stay here forever.”

—When I think about the food, my heart skips a beat. Despite the monster ingredients, the lack of mess and the richness of flavor indicate the work of a professional. If I could, I’d stay here forever.

“It was definitely enjoyable. But I believe Lysette’s cooking is better; the one that has saved my life.”

Leonhardt takes a deep breath and shakes his head.

“I-It’s not just the food; I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to share adventures with you.”

” Leon…”

“…W-What I’m trying to say is… Anyway, I’m always grateful to you—goodnight! “

“Yes, good night.”

Lysette, too, says good night and falls asleep on the bed, pulling the sheets and blankets over her.

Leonhardt’s words have made her chest fluffy. She is overjoyed that her cooking abilities are assisting her friends.

Chapter 32: Rabbit Meat Pasta

Lysette had a dream that night.

She had a dream about a woman looking at her. A dream in which the sky and the earth were spinning in polar colors.

—Ugh, my head is spinning…

Lysette was distraught when she awoke the next morning.

She tried to get out of bed, but her body refused to cooperate. Her entire body was heavy and weak, and she couldn’t get out of bed.

“Get some rest today. I’m sure you’re sick.

Leonhardt squeezes Lysette’s hand and looks into her eyes.

with a shaky head,

“P-Please do not abandon me…”

Leonhardt laughed softly at the flimsy words she uttered.

“I’d never abandon Lysette.”

Leonhardt’s emerald green eyes looked into Lysette’s.

“Let’s take a break today. We’ll be in or near the house; just make a call if anything happens.”

“…Yes.”

He gently pulls his hand away, and Lysette’s eyelids lower. She falls asleep right away, perhaps because she is relieved or because she is tired.

She didn’t have any strange dreams this time.

She slept for several hours. She wakes up and drinks some water.

The fever has subsided after a restful night, but she still feels feverish. She decides to go back to sleep and lies down on her bed.

She is not hungry, most likely because she ate a lot last night. Her body gradually absorbs the nutrients it contains. It alleviates her body’s fatigue.

Then she idly wondered how long it had been since she had entered the dungeon. She had long since lost track of the precise time.

—When I first entered the dungeon, I was brimming with energy, magic, and stamina. I’ve never had such a high fever before.

She wakes up to the sound of people coming into the room and a nice smell that stimulates her appetite.

Leonhardt brings her a food tray.

“Do you think you can eat these noodles with rabbit meat?”

“Thank you very much. I’m hungry… I’ll eat it.”

Short noodles with rabbit meat and milk soup are served on a tray.

She started with the mushroom milk soup. light in the throat, slightly thickened.

The pasta comes next. The sauce was a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness from the meat fat, and the short pasta was easy to eat.

“Delicious.”

“That’s great—Kanatoko demonstrated how to make it, and Dee and I worked together to complete it.”

“The two of you? It’s really great!”

“I’m glad.”

His dazzling smiles make the food taste even better, and at the same time, her heart fills with joy.

Leonhardt even cleans up the mess after she finishes eating.

—I’m not sure if I should be so spoiled and well cared for in every way.

Dee arrives to replace Leonhardt just as she is feeling sorry for herself.

“Yo, how are you feeling?”

“I feel a lot better. What were you up to while I was sleeping?”

“I’ve been taking care of the fields and livestock—do you know? Harpies can be found here!

“What?”

“In the shed, there were three small harpies. I’m not sure what kind of bravery it takes to domesticate monsters.”

—Domesticating… monsters!

Lysette was astounded as well. She thought it was incredible.

“By the way, Leon was assigned to repair the roof and clean the forge. We also process the rabbits into ground meat before being boiled down for canning. I have a jar of it, so we’ll eat it again. And I baked some bread.”

“Thank you. I’m really looking forward to it. I apologize for sleeping all the time.”

She looks down, embarrassed.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m glad you’re in a place where you can rest after being sick. And the food here was delicious. I’m going to work now, so rest up.”

Dee walks out of the room laughing, apparently just to check on Lysette.

Lysette reclines on the bed once more. It is now her responsibility to get in shape.

She gets another good night’s sleep and is no longer feverish when she wakes up.

She hears voices in the dining room when she gets up, leaves the room, and goes down the stairs.

“You’ve done more than I expected.”

“Thank you very much.”

“Well, it’s a service, after all. I’ll look after your weapons.”

“Is it OK?”

“Mine is fine. I don’t fight often.”

When she looks into the dining room, she notices Leonhardt walking out to get his armor.

“My god…”

“Yeah.”

“This is terrible.”

Kanatoko looks at Leonhardt’s sword and shield with a stunned expression.

You put too much pressure on it. There are spills and distortions. The hilt is almost ruined. The scabbard, too… Well, I’ll sharpen it, remove the distortion, repair the handle, and make a new scabbard. I’ll cost you.”

“Yo, fatso!”

“I never said free—not when it comes to such large-scale repairs—but I know you don’t have any money. You’ll have to pay me with your bodies.”

“You still want me to work…”

“That is the cost of the second night.”

“You smart@ss!”

Lysette realized after the exchange that they had worked and paid with their bodies because she had become ill.

“Okay. So, what exactly do you want us to do?”

“Mm. I need you guys to get rid of the Chimera.”

“A Chimera?”

—I’d never heard of that monster before.

Leonhardt appears to know, his demeanor darkening.

“A monster that has recently appeared is stealing my crops and livestock… He’s coming.”

In the window, a beast is seen running down from the top of the hill, as if on cue.

It resembled a lion. red fur and a beautiful mane. And next to its head, a goat’s head.

It had a thick, green tail. The head of a dragon was at the end of the green tail.

It, too, had dragon wings on its back, but they were so small that they made it appear incapable of flying.

A snarling, jumbled monster.

【Appraisal】

Chimera. A massive, powerful beast with three heads: a lion, a goat, and a dragon. It breathes fire.

It lands easily in the fields and watches from inside the house as it munches on vegetables.

“You want us to fight that?”

Dee mutters.

Despite his enormous size, Chimera is light and agile, and he breathes fire.

It also has a head on its back, which eliminates blind spots.

Even from afar, it’s clear that this is a formidable foe.

“Let’s go!”

“Huh? Lysette?! Aren’t you sick?!”

“I’m alright. I can go. I’m brimming with motivation!”

Leonhardt pauses for a moment before turning to Kanatoko.

“OK, fine. I only need you to prepare one thing.”

Chapter 33: Chimera extermination

Lysette sat on the dirt floor in front of the door, holding the unicorn’s horned staff and allowing her magic and energy to flow through her. She was not in the mood to lose now, no matter who her opponent was.

The Chimera is still eating vegetables in the field, which she sees through the small window. It’s odd that he resembles a simple feline monster.

“Ha~a.”

Dee comes in with a bow slung over his shoulder and an arrow barrel on his back, sighing loudly.

“Does Dee use a bow?”

“No, I borrowed it—I know how to use it—I misplaced one of my knives, and I’d rather avoid that thing. I’m a wimp.”

Despite these words, Dee does not appear to be fleeing or refusing to fight. She believed Dee was strong enough not to flee from something he was not good at.

Then Leonhardt returns from the forge, fully prepared for battle.

“Let us have a quick meeting.”

Leonhardt starts drawing on the ground with a stick.

“As you can see, the chimera has three heads. So it has three brains but only one body.”

With a stick, he drew a picture of Chimera. It was a nice drawing with a lot of charm. He is accustomed to drawing.

“The lion’s head, the goat’s head, and the dragon’s tail—It is the goat’s head that spits fire.”

“What is the purpose of the dragon’s head?”

“…Perhaps it’s a rear guard. There’s no need to be concerned about the dragon’s head as long as you don’t get too close. The wings are mostly for show and cannot fly.”

He embellished the Chimera’s drawing with wings. The wings are tiny in comparison to the body. They appear to be mere decoration, but in comparison to the size of the dragon’s head, they appear to be the correct size.

It’s a distorted monster, rather than a mixed and refined one.

“The flame-spitting goat’s head is the most dangerous—I’ll look after it here—I need you to distract the dragon head from behind, Dee.”

Behind the Chimera is a stick figure holding a bow.

“The Chimera will be distracted back and forth, preventing him from moving freely.”

“Got it.”

“I want Lysette to use the magic she used to freeze the exploding rabbit when I give the signal.”

—Freeze-Storm.

The explosive rabbits were frozen by a snowstorm.

“All right. Leave it to me!”

Dee heads for the kitchen door after an overview of the operation, leaving Leonhardt alone with her.

The Chimera is still visible through the small window and appears relaxed, as if about to nap.

“Shall we go then?”

“What do you have on you, Leon?”

Leonhardt carries not only a sword and a shield, but also a large sack on his hip.

Leonhardt gives a wry smile in response to Lysette’s question.

“It’s only iron.”

They walk slowly out the front door and around the field, taking care not to draw Chimera’s attention.

Dee also emerges from the kitchen and approaches quietly. He takes cover behind a tree and draws his bow and arrow.

And then he fires.

Dee’s arrow strikes the dragon’s head, but it bounces off the scales, attracting the dragon-head-tail’s attention.

The Chimera raises the goat’s head and opens his mount’s mouth to aim in the direction of the arrow’s origin.

As the Chimera’s goat’s head attempts to fire at Dee…

“Flame-Burst!”

The Chimera’s body is blown away slightly, but not enough to knock him down. The strike was ineffective.

The lion and goat’s attention is now focused on Lysette.

Now, the dragon’s head prefers to move backward, while the two heads on the front prefer to move forward.

They’re stuck, as if dragged back and forth by a rope, and can’t move in either direction.

The different heads’ orders contradict each other, which makes the body confused and stops it from doing anything.

Leonhardt begins to run.

The mouth of the goat opens again.

【Holy-Shield】

The goat head’s flame breaths are so powerful that they threaten to consume the entire area, but the magical barrier keeps this from happening.

For a short time, the flame breath is exhaled, but it does not last forever.

Leonhardt closes the gap even further by thrusting his arm into the mouth of the goat that expelled the flames—he shoves it in and quickly pulls it out.

Meanwhile, the lion’s mouth opens wide to bite Leonhardt. But Leonhardt brushed it away with his sword and thrust it deep into the lion’s throat in order to shut its mouth.

The goat opens its mouth once more. With a sign of fire.

However, no fire was spewed out.

Only a small burst of red fire comes from the corner of his mouth.

It keeps struggling and looking down, as if in pain.

“Lysette!”

It’s the Freeze-Storm signal. But if she does, Leonhardt will be caught in the middle as well.

Fearing for his safety, Lysette quickly learns new skills.

【Manipulation-Magic】【Water-Magic(Advanced)】【Friend-or-Foe-Identification】

“Freeze-Storm!”

On the spot, an ice storm is brewing.

Leonhardt, fortunately, was not affected by the ice storm. This is most likely the result of the skill 【Friend-or-Foe-Identification】.

The Chimera and the iron in his throat are quickly chilled by the icy wind. The iron clogs the Chimera’s airway, causing him to suffocate.

Although the monster has multiple heads, it only has one internal organ (throat).

Unable to breathe, the chimera finally collapses.

The dragon-tail-head was the last to die as death spread throughout its body.

“Are you okay, Leon?!”

She dashes over to Leonhardt’s aid. Dee, who had been hiding, notices that the danger has passed and approaches them.

“I’m okay. I’m a little hurt, but I’m fine now.”

“I’m glad to hear that, but don’t overdo it. So, what exactly did you do?”

“I shoved an iron lump into its mouth.”

—Iron.

The heavy sack around his waist is now empty.

“The flames melted the iron, causing it to cool, harden, and choke him.”

“You did well!”

Dee says, in amazement.

The Chimera’s body, which was lying on the field at the time, began to melt into sludge. It splits into three bodies in an instant: the head of a goat; the head and wings of a dragon; and the head and body of a lion.

An amber-colored magic stone, melted hardened black iron, and a crushed sword remain in the body’s center.

After that, the stairs to the next layer and the Return Gate appear in Kanatoko’s garden.

Chapter 34: The Dwarven Blacksmith

“You did an excellent job—now I can grow vegetables with peace of mind. But the cost was high…”

Kanatoko looks at the battle-torn fields with a melancholy look on his face and holds Leonhardt’s sword in both hands.

The heat has not only tattered but also melted the sword. The chimera’s flames melted it, and Lysette’s magic froze it, destroying its original shape and strength.

“Hey, will you fix the sword as promised?”

“Don’t be silly. I have no choice but to cast this again.”

When he is rudely rebuffed, Dee’s mouth twitches.

“Hey, Leon, you should speak up as well—you’ve been the most diligent worker—If you don’t act, we’ll be working for free.”

“No, I don’t believe it can be fixed any longer. I don’t want to be unreasonable…”

“What’s unreasonable about that?! These days’ youth…”

Kanatoko appeared to be offended by Leonhardt’s words, and sheathed the sword angrily.

“…and where do you think you’re going in the first place?”

“Of course, to kill the dragon!”

Lysette triumphantly responded. Her initial goal of defeating a dragon was the “Dragon Steak”, which remains unchanged.

“The dragon in the sixth layer?”

Kanatoko tilts his head slightly, thinking about something.

“Hmm. If you’ve come here, it must be the goddess’ will.”

He mutters something and raises his head. with a determined expression.

“OK, fine. I’ll craft you a new sword fit for slaying a dragon. But you will have to assist me.”

—○█○—

“It’s a privilege to witness a dwarf’s blacksmithing work up close and personal! What should I do?”

Lysette, who has been summoned to the forge, inquires eagerly.

“Well, I’d like you to adjust the fire magically. The temperature of the fire is critical.”

adjusting the fire in the forge.

While watching the color of the glowing coals in the furnace, Kanatoko gives Lysette heating instructions, and Lysette does as she is told, increasing or decreasing the heat.

“What a delicate adjustment of firepower…”

“Thank you for the compliment.”

The compliments make Lysette happy.

“How about it, human girl? Do you want to be a blacksmith?”

“Eh?”

—living a self-sufficient life in the dungeon and working as a blacksmith?

Lysette’s ideal way of life seemed to be growing vegetables, herding monsters, hunting, and living in the dungeon.

“That’s a tempting offer…”

“Lysette…”

“What are you trying to convince her of?!”

“Kya! How long have you been here?!”

Leonhardt and Dee, who had found their way to the blacksmith’s shop, were staring at Lysette.

“Of course, I’ll continue my adventure—sure, of course!”

Lysette’s cheeks flush, and she covers her mouth. She was embarrassed for some reason.

“You’ve arrived at the right time. With my brother gone, I’m going to need your assistance.”

To remove impurities, the metal is heated in the furnace and hammered.

When the three men lower their hammers, there is a high-pitched sound and a spark, and the metal gradually stretches into the shape of a sword.

When the metal’s temperature falls, it is returned to the furnace to be heated and hammered again. The procedure is then repeated.

“Hmm. It’s quite good.”

“Not good for me! It’s too much for me! I can’t do it anymore! You got this, Leon.”

Dee leaves, gasping for air. He was sweating all over.

“Thank you, Dee; leave the rest to me.”

Leonhardt and Kanatoko then worked on the metal for a while.

When they swung the hammer, a high-pitched sound echoed, and red flames erupted.

It was a lovely sight. Lysette kept an eye on it while adjusting the flame.

“All right, this is about right. I believe it is time to take a break. The roasted Chimera should be finished.”

“Can we eat the chimera meat now?!”

“You’re going to consume that…”

Lysette was excited, but Leonhardt’s expression was hazy.

“I’ve never eaten chimera meat. For the first time in my life, it makes my heart skip a beat!”

The defeated Chimera has been placed on the table.

Eating monsters this is the privilege of the victor.

The roasted chimera made from lion parts was first. It was beautifully presented, slowly cooked in hot water, then pan-fried and cut into thin strips.

It was rosy in color and lovely to look at.

“This isn’t good.”

Dee gives the impression of being overly truthful.

“The meat is too tough… and the gammy odor…”

Leonhardt raises his eyebrows in agreement.

Even if she doesn’t say it, Lysette agrees. She is unable to speak because she is unable to swallow, no matter how hard she chews.

“The Chimera lion’s meat is bad. This is yet another new find.”

Kanatoko arrives just as they are about to finish the roasted Chimera.

What appears on the plate is a blackened and roasted goat’s head.

Kanatoko cuts it up right away with a knife and fork.

“The Chimera goat head is roasted whole—the brain has been extracted—here’s the cheek meat and tongue.

“This is delicious!”

Leonhardt got rave reviews.

“It’s tender and delicious.”

“It’s fatty and tasty. It’s too bad there’s only enough for the four of us.”

The goat dish is quickly consumed, and the next dish arrives.

“Here we go, goat brain casserole.”

A large pot is filled with vegetables and goat brains that are stewing in a red broth.

“It’s also delicious!” It’s creamy and complements the sweet and spicy broth.”

“Tastes similar to albacore tuna…”

“Sake! Give me some sake!”

After five days of assisting Kanatoko in the creation of the sword…

“Finally, it’s completed! This is my best work!”

The longsword has been hammered and sharpened from ore for several days, and the forge is filled with applause.

Kanatoko hands Leonhardt the longsword, and his eyes light up when he sees the new weapon.

“Could this deep glow be… Adamant alloy?”

“You bet! “

Adamant alloy is a metal made by fusing Adamant, a legendary metal with a very high hardness, with a few other metals to improve its performance.

“Are you certain about this?”

“Of course, I’m certain. This is the most rewarding work I’ve done in a long time.”

“Thank you… Thank you so much.”

They are now ready to depart after receiving the sword.

They made a lot of preserves during their visit, so their luggage is overflowing with food. For the time being, they should have no trouble finding food.

Kanatoko approaches Lysette just as she is about to leave.

“This is a service—don’t die.”

With these words, she received a [Heart-Substitution] item that will allow her to escape the dungeon if she dies.

“Thank you!”

She grasps the heart-shaped amulet.

That makes two, along with Lysette’s.

“The lodgings will cost 9,000 gold—you’ve been a great help to me since the second day, so consider it a service.”

“Yes, thank you. And… I’d like to ask you why Kanatoko-san is running an inn here.”

She asks what has been bothering her for a long time while paying for the accommodation.

Kanatoko gives a gentle smile.

“It’s a nice and peaceful location… And I hope to meet other interesting adventurers like yourselves from time to time.”

“I see…”

“And this one’s life will soon… No, it’s nothing… Just don’t die, alright?!”

Potato-tan: I was kind of hoping they would be served harpy meat.

Chapter 35: Bounty Hunters on the Fifth Layer

To reach the fifth layer, they descended a deep, long, and dark staircase.

The staircase was so long that one wondered if there was another layer beneath it.

They naturally exhaled a sigh of relief when they saw the light of the exit.

“A town…”

The fifth layer was a deserted town.

A deserted castle town with nothing but sand. The dust obscures the distant towering castle.

The streets, with their ochre tiles and red roofs, harken back to the town’s glory days.

However, numerous locations have been destroyed.

There are both old and new traces of destruction. The more recent ones could have been damaged in battles between adventurers and monsters.

The sky is a yellowish earth color.

There are currently no signs of monsters or other creatures.

However, there is still a sense that people have come and gone in the last few days.

“This layer is teeming with medium-sized monsters. Let us proceed with caution.”

As they carefully follow the thick paths between the buildings, Dee draws a map.

“Hmm… I’d like to see it from a higher perspective—let’s go up there.”

Dee pointed to the tallest structure in the area. A tower rises above it, providing a good vantage point.

They walk into the building and up the stairs.

The inside of the building was undamaged and did not appear to be in danger of collapsing anytime soon. There were traces of human habitation scattered about, such as rotting furniture and fabrics.

Perhaps there were people who lived in the dungeon.

If that was the case, they were either adventurers who had lost their way home or criminals who couldn’t go out into the sun.

“It’s a little creepy—it’s as if monsters and ghosts could burst through the door at any moment…”

However, contrary to popular belief, no monsters appear. They make it to the top of the tower without incident.

They could clearly see the terrain from the square rooftop.

Dee quickly sketches a map.

“What is that?”

Lysette notices a group of humanoids moving in the distance while on the lookout for them.

They might be humanoid monsters, but from what she can tell, they’re just regular adventurers.

Except there are quite a few of them.

“That’s quite a big party. The party is supposed to be for up to only six people…”

“There are 18 of them to be seen. Is that why there are no monsters? Because they killed them?”

“That is a possibility—monsters tend to gather in large groups.”

A large number of people seem to be right or wrong.

—The more people there are, the more stable the quest, but is that why there is a limit?

“Perhaps it’s some sort of guild survey team or something?”

“Or maybe they’re working together because they share a common interest within the Dungeon…”

Leonhardt frowned.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Let’s not get involved.”

Then Leonhardt, who was about to leave the rooftop before they could find him, gasped.

“Lysette!”

A sharp pull on her arm sends Lysette tumbling backward, and a blade like a throwing knife pierces the spot where Lysette had been.

She feels a chill and looks up to see a small, black-clad Lilliput on the roof opposite.

“She’s there! It’s the lady with the ten million gold gold bounty!”

He screams loudly at Lysette.

“What?”

In the next moment, several spells fly from below. fire arrows, ice arrows, and thunderbolts.

【Holy-Shield】

These spells are blocked by Leonhardt’s magical barrier.

The Lilliput closes the gap immediately, but Leonhardt uses his shield to push him back and bring him down.

“Run as fast as you can! That way!”

Dee leads the way out of the scene. They leap from a first-floor window, run across the roof into another house, exit, and wind their way through a narrow alley to a private residence.

Lysette immediately puts up a barrier when they enter a room with a clear exit.

This prevents anyone except her friends from entering or leaving the house and silences the sounds. Outside sounds are permitted to pass through.

—I never imagined that the barrier meant to protect us from monsters would be useful in this way.

“For the time being, we’ve shaken them off… It’s a good thing there are so many hiding places.”

Leonhardt lets out a sigh.

Now that she’s safe for the moment, Lysette takes a deep breath to catch her breath.

“This is the first time I’ve had a bounty placed on my head…”

“You know, it’s not normal…”

“I don’t think it’s that much…”

“Aren’t you arrogant?! How much money do you think you’ve been spending? “

Dee sat stupefiedly on the doorstep.

Lysette was sitting on the wall step as well.

Leonhardt stood there, warily looking at the other side of the wall and inside the room.

“What are you going to do now? Maybe you’re on the guild’s official bounty list, or maybe some rich guy has a bounty on your head.”

There are a lot of people who want Lysette’s head.

They are not monsters, but rather human beings. They use magic and flying weapons. They might set traps. They will collaborate to bring you down.

“Did you break any damn rules in the dungeon territory, like murder or assault?”

“No…”

“A 10 million gold bounty on a single person is unusual… Are you sure you have no idea?”

“No idea…”

Lysette thinks again, but she still has no idea.

“Perhaps you fed monster food to someone who you didn’t like…”

“Eh?! That’s not true! You were happy to eat it. Right, Leon?”

“At least, as far as I know.”

Leonhardt is taken aback, but he responds positively.

“The first person I served monster food to was Leon. And since then, I’ve been with Leon.”

Lysette has been living the Dungeon life since her second visit to the Dungeon.

She has been living in the peace and quiet of the first level before going back out to check on the second level, where she met Leonhardt and came down here with the shared goal of defeating a dragon.

“Is that right? So you can say with certainty that Lysette has never forced anyone to eat anything they didn’t want to and has never harmed anyone?”

“…”

Dee had an indescribable appearance.

Lysette thinks with her hand over her mouth. She considers who might have placed a bounty on her head.

“Perhaps the church thought I was rebellious because I didn’t pay the sacred coins I was supposed to pay to the church?”

“How come you didn’t pay?”

“I’ve spent almost all of my time in Norun in the Dungeon… In the first place, I wasn’t even told how much I had to pay…

The first priest she met could have explained when Lysette arrived in Norun, but she went straight to the dungeon without hearing much of what was said. As a result, the truth is unknown.

Leonhardt thinks, a mysterious expression on his face.

“… If it wasn’t intentional, I’d think it would go away if I turned myself in and paid the bounty, but it’s strange to put a bounty on someone’s head simply because they’re late paying.”

Dee simply nodded.

“I, too, had never heard of it. When sinners are thrown into dungeon territory, it’s already like a death sentence. The church isn’t even interested in collecting the fine. That is a massive shortfall.”

If that’s the case, Lysette’s guess is almost certainly incorrect.

So, who placed the bounty on Lysette’s head, and why?

—Perhaps Meldiana?

Her sister.

Meldiana became a saint when she stole Lysette’s sacred mark. Is she now trying to take something else from her?

That’s all she could come up with.

—But that’s impossible.

Meldiana seemed satisfied with sending Lysette to the dungeon. It’s difficult to believe she’d then try to kill her again with a bounty on her head.

“Hey, how much is the fine?”

“Fifty million gold coins.”

“F-Fifty million gold coins?! What the hell!”

Dee, who had been sitting, gets up.

Leonhardt is also surprised, and for the first time, Lysette realizes how bizarre the amount is.

Chapter 36: Rabbit Grilled Sandwich

“What kind of heinous crime did you commit with 50 million gold coins fine? It usually doesn’t get that high!”

“Well… That’s…”

Lysette paused. Lysette’s crime is disrespecting the Saint. And disrespecting a Saint is a capital offense.

Lysette has no idea, but Saint’s word is absolute. If Saint says she was disrespected, so be it.

In addition, insulting the Saint is equivalent to insulting the Goddess.

How would they react if they were devout Goddess worshipers and learned of the crime?

The thought frightens her, and she is speechless.

Lysette noticed her hands trembling and clenched them tightly.

“Dee, even Lysette has issues she doesn’t want to discuss.”

Leonhardt soothes Dee, and silence falls.

In the silence, there is a thumping sound of the heart beating.

Lysette rises, her eyes tightly shut.

“I-I’m going to leave the party.’”

“Lysette?”

Lysette turns her gaze away from the startled Leonhardt.

“I can’t bother you both.”

“You should not make this decision on your own. Leader.”

An angry voice echoes softly in the abandoned house.

Lysette was taken aback by Leonhardt’s expression.

“What? Isn’t Leon the leader?!”

“Because you invited me, Lysette must be the leader, right?”

“Eeeeeh?! Was I the leader?”

Lysette was taken aback by this shocking revelation. She also had assumed Leonhardt was the leader all along.

But then…

“T-Then we’ll disband the party here.”

“I refuse.”

“I’m against it as well.”

“Eh? Is it a unanimous decision?”

Lysette is surprised to learn that both of them are opposed to it.

What is a leader if she lacks the authority to dissolve a party?

“First and foremost, it is impossible to dissolve a party in Dungeon.”

“…Y-Yes, that’s right… I’m sorry…”

Lysette sat down under calm admonition.

It’s true that you can’t split up a party in the Dungeon. Leonhardt and Dee were the victims of that, and she was surprised to realized that she had done the same.

—What should I do…

She was confident that if she were alone, she could do it. Eating monsters in the dungeon, resting in the barrier, and evading the bounty hunters

Yes. The same as in the first layer.

And if she could somehow return to the fourth layer above this one, she might be able to live like Kanatoko, which would be a much easier life than on this one.

But they are opposed to that idea.

Should she then try to flee with a forced breakthrough?

Despite the fact that it is a very wrong thing to do.

—However, I may not be able to outrun Leon and Dee.

Physical ability varies significantly.

Leonhardt is physically strong and intuitive, and Dee is quick.

“Are you thinking something strange, Lysette?”

“N-No, nothing.

“I certainly hope so. Let’s go eat for now.”

Dee says with one hand raised.

“Y-Yes. Now?”

“I believe we should eat while we think.”

—○█○—

She cut the meat, chopped the vegetables, and whisked the eggs together.

After lightly baking the bread, she sandwiched the grilled rabbit meat, fresh leafy vegetables, and omelet with the sauce that Kanatoko taught her to make.

Rabbit Grilled Sandwich.

Even when she is depressed, her cold body warms up a little when she touches the heat of the fire while cooking.

“Itadakimasu.”

Wrapped in a slightly sweet bread, tenderized rabbit meat, vegetables, and a fried egg exploded with flavors in the mouth.

The sauce was a little spicy at first, but it softened when combined with the egg omelet.

—Delicious…

It’s amazing how good food tastes good at any time of day, and how it gives you a little energy when you eat it.

—Perhaps it’s because my body is trying to survive.

“Hey, listen to me while you eat.”

Dee said about a third of the way through the meal.

Both Lysette and Leonhardt were staring at Dee as they ate.

“I grew up in the ghetto.”

“Puh!”

Lysette almost chokes up when she hears this sudden personal statement.

When she managed to swallow and look at Dee’s face, he maintained a slightly annoyed but relieved expression.

“I have no idea who my parents are. I’ve been a pickpocket and thief since I was a child. It’s ironic that I was apprehended and thrown into this dungeon, but I was able to put my experiences to good use here.”

Dee eats his sandwich with a wide open mouth.

“This is excellent. If I make it out of here alive, maybe I’ll become a legitimate locksmith and eat this delicious food every day…”

He laughs.

His carefree smile was as bright as the sun.

“How about you, Leon? What are you doing here?”

“I…”

When asked, Leonhardt put down his food.

After pondering something for a moment, he looks up as if he has made up his mind.

“I’m a member of royalty from a distant land…”

“Goho!”

Dee coughed loudly.

To some extent, Lysette had expected this, but she had not expected him to reveal his identity so easily.

Leonhardt goes on,

“I came here to defeat the Dragon in preparation for my coming-of-age ceremony. But my companions from my country betrayed me, and Lysette saved me when I was dying in the Dungeon.”

Lysette meets Leonhardt’s emerald green eyes.

“I haven’t decided what I’ll do and I have no plans to return to my country yet.”

His expression is cheerful, with no trace of regret or remorse.

Leonhardt is looking ahead. Not dwelling on the past, but looking forward.

“What the hell…I thought you were just well-mannered and polite, but it turns out you’re actually…”

Dee, who has shrunk into a small ball and is clutching his head, grumbles bitterly.

“You asked me yourself…”

“Huh… Oh well. I’ll pretend I didn’t hear anything about the royalty part.”

He looks up, finishes his sandwich, and swallows.

“Anyone who dives in the Dungeon is a stranger anyways. I’m not going to drag you out for whatever reason.”

“…”

Dee talks about himself so Lysette, like Leonhardt, can tell them why she came to Dungeon.

It takes bravery to reveal your past.

They demonstrated their bravery to her.

Lysette wanted to react to that emotion.

She might be mocked. She might be disappointed. But that’s fine.

Even if they became enemies…

—If that happens, let’s flee as quickly as we can.

Food can make you feel a little better. Is this the reason Leonhardt suggested eating first?

She was grateful for their generosity.

She wishes to live up to that impression.

After finishing the last piece of bread and exhaling,

Lysette opened her mouth slowly.

“…I was originally a noblewoman of this country, and I once bore the sacred mark that was a testament to Sainthood on my body.”

Chapter 37: Confession

She never imagined the day would come when she would tell anyone about the sacred mark on her body that was a testament to Sainthood.

Lysette continues her story in front of the stunned duo.

“The Black Magician transferred the sacred mark to my sister Meldiana, who is now the Saint of this country.”

Lysette puts her hand gently on her chest. The location where the sacred mark first appeared.

Meldiana’s mark is now on the back of her neck.

“…I was fined 50 million gold coins and imprisoned for insulting the Saint, and now I’m here.”

A painful silence awaited her after the brief conversation.

She couldn’t look up because she was afraid of how they would react.

“Lysette.”

She looked up, terrified, into Leonhardt’s emerald eyes.

“I knew you’d come to the dungeon for a specific reason—your story now makes sense—thank you for telling us.”

Leonhardt’s demeanor was the same as it had always been: calm and peaceful.

“Fortunately, I made it out.”

Dee crouched with his hands scratching over his ears.

“I thought I only had a lot of problems! But a saint and a royal… hmm… You guys must have been having difficulties as well.”

He leans on his elbows in sympathy as he alternates between Leonhardt and Lysette.

After hearing Lysette’s confession, neither of them changed their minds.

Lysette was almost in tears with relief.

“So, why did your sister go to such lengths to become a saint?”

“…”

Meldiana’s reproachful eyes come to mind.

[Oneesama is not fair!]

“She has always wanted everything that was mine, and now she wants to be a saint as well.”

“Does that explain why you…?”

“Well, you can only be envious of what those closest to you have.”

The position of Saint is an honorable one, but Lysette herself was not attached to it. She was well aware of the importance of blessing the earth, but she had no freedom if she was the Saint.

So when the sacred mark was taken from her, she felt both pain and joy.

She was thinking at the time.

[Oh, I’m truly not a saint anymore. And I’m glad Meldiana is a Saint.]

“…If you use black magic to obtain the sacred mark, the Church of the Goddess will capture everyone involved.”

“Eh. Is it truly so bad?”

“The ancient species of the last age used black magic to harness the power of the earth giants. It is said to strengthen Earth’s curse and hasten the weakening of the barrier.

Leonhardt’s explanation makes Dee look fed up.

“It’s a tough story, man.”

“Well, it’s prohibited magic.”

If there is a problem with the fake saint, Meldiana, it must be due to the use of black magic.

From where did her father and sister learn the subject of how to transfer the sacred mark?

And where did they find the Black Magician?

Why did they break the taboo in the first place, just to deprive Lysette of her sainthood?

Lysette has no idea.

She can only recall the black magician’s eyes.

Silver eyes that seemed to despise everything.

“What do you want to do, Lysette?”

“…Me?”

Leonhardt kneels in front of Lysette.

His emerald eyes are fixed on Lysette.

“Do you want everything back? Do you want to be a Saint again? Do you want revenge, or do you want something else?”

“…”

“I’d like you to tell me how you’re feeling.”

“I…”

Lysette was confused about her true feelings and what she wanted to do.

First and foremost, she had never considered such a possibility.

What she longs to do is…

She has decided how she wants to live her life.

Is she longing for her old life?

Is she out for vengeance?

—Neither, I’m not interested in anything to do with them. What I want is…

“I-I want dragon steak…”

The room becomes silent.

“…Are you kidding me?”

“I’m not kidding when I say I want to kill the dragon and eat dragon steak!”

“Are you sure? Come on!”

As a noble lady, it’s disgraceful to be upset.

You must maintain your poise at all times.

That’s what she’s been taught, but she now can’t stop the feeling swelling in her heart.

When you break the dam and allow the emotions to flow, they don’t stop flowing.

“… I was sick of everything! The outside world, my sister, and my father! So I want to stay in the dungeon! I wanted to flee! I wanted to flee to a place where there was no one!”

She’ll get in trouble if she stays on the ground. There was a chance she’d be forced to do unsavory work in order to earn gold.

That is why she fled to the dungeon at the first opportunity.

to the Dungeon, which was also her ideal place.

“But…but while I was enjoying the blessings of Dungeon, I met Leon and heard his dragon story…”

The tears that had been welling up in her eyes began to fall.

“So I wanted to eat the dragon steak!”

” …”

She desired to defeat the most powerful monster in the dungeon, the dragon, and then feast on dragon steak with everyone.

“That’s exactly what I want to do!”

She discovered meaning in the dungeon.

It began as a passing fancy. But then it became a motivator to keep going, and it evolved into a goal.

Perhaps it’s childish selfishness. Perhaps it’s a bad desire.

—However, this is how I truly feel.

“…It’s settled.”

Leonhardt, who had been kneeling in front of Lysette, rises.

“Lysette’s wish will be granted—Dee, how about you?”

Dee sat down and fixed his gaze on Leonhardt.

“Kill the dragon, eat dragon steak, so what next?”

“If we sell the dragon material, we should be able to make a good profit—at the very least, we can use it to get rid of the bounty.”

“Reckless, reckless. You guys are tough, but I’m not! We have no healers. It’s a fool’s errand for two people to take on a Dragon.”

“I have the ability to heal and revive.”

“Leon is supposed to be the tank, you understand!”

He sighs deeply, bending his back, resting his elbows on his knees, and turning away.

“…We’re going to die—we’re really going to die if we die somewhere no one can reach us.”

Even if you die in the dungeon, you can be revived with revival magic.

However, if you become bones and ash, you cannot be revived and become a part of the dungeon.

That is real death.

“I advise you to flee and turn yourself in as soon as possible—the bounty hunters will take you for far more than your worth.”

“Perhaps the Goddess Church or the Saint is the one who placed the prize money—I doubt they’ll assist us if we come out in the open.”

Dee is unable to dismiss the thought and remains silent.

“However, deep within the dungeon, there might be something that can upset the status quo.”

“Trying to get rich quick by conquering the dungeon?”

Leonhardt smiles wryly at Dee, who laughs back.

“First and foremost, isn’t that the reason for challenging the dungeon?”

Chapter 38: Move Towards the Future

The dungeon is not only visited by criminals.

People flock to dangerous dungeons and venture into the depths of the unknown.

Unknown treasures, fame, miracles, secrets. In other words, dreams.

People are drawn to dreams.

Leonhardt is looking for Lysette’s hope in something at the bottom. Something that deviates from the norm.

“It’s probably the same as the first goal. It strikes me as reckless.”

“You can’t be certain.”

Leonhardt says firmly, gripping his sword’s hilt. The Adamant Sword.

“I’m stronger now than I’ve ever been. Perhaps it’s due to Lysette’s cooking.”

“My monster cuisine?”

“Yes. I’m sure it has a strong energizing effect. Now I can protect everyone while also healing.”

Lysette was aware of the energizing effect as well.

She suspected it was due to the monster cuisine that she never ran out of magic, no matter how much she used.

The Dungeon’s blessings were truly a blessing, which touched her heart.

The splendor of the monster cuisine moved her.

Lysette’s strength is derived from the monsters she encountered, fought, cooked, and ate.

“…You know, even if you could conquer the dungeon and pay Lysette’s fine, I wouldn’t live in this country with a Saint for a sister.”

Dee is cool as a cucumber. The point is most likely correct.

“I guess so.”

“Is that your guess?”

For a brief moment, Lysette stammers.

—There is nothing like that.

“If I had the freedom…”

“You have the ability to cross the sea.”

She looks up at the sound of Leonhardt’s voice.

The moment their eyes met, she saw a sea that she knew only in pictures. Sparkling and golden.

“I’m familiar with sea routes. Let me handle it.”

“Leon…”

Beyond the sea, the unknown.

A place where no one knows Lysette. She saw the future there. Lysette’s heart bursts open, and she leaps to her feet.

“Thank you very much. I want to go!”

“Oh…”

“…Well, I promised to accompany you once. Dragon huh. But! Even if I can’t help in the battle, I still get my fair share of rewards. Understand?!”

“Both of you—thanks a lot!”

Her eyes became warm, so she wiped them with her fingers.

“I’m glad I met both of you. Right. Please hold this.”

She hands over the item [Heart-Substitution] to Dee and Leonhardt, allowing them to escape the dungeon and revive themselves in the event of death.

“Kanatoko-san gave it to me. We should all have it on hand just in case.”

Kanatoko gave one to her.

And one from the elven alchemist.

Lysette has two in total, but she no longer has one for herself. She’s acting as if she had.

—I don’t want you two to perish.

“Thanks, I suppose that’s how you stay connected after death.”

Dee slips a heart-shaped amulet into his pocket.

She’s relieved that Leonhardt accepts it, too.

If they are all killed, it will save them both.

It was the bare minimum that Lysette could do.

“However, I don’t want to fight with the bounty hunters. They’re used to dealing with both monsters and humans. They’ll almost certainly have guards at the resurrection site, so they won’t hesitate to kill us.”

“Even if we run to the next layer, they’ll probably chase us, so we have to make them leave voluntarily.”

“Maybe they will run out of food?”

A large number of people will consume a large amount of food. They will most likely retreat if they hide for a while to buy time. Fortunately, they have plenty of food on their side.

But…

“They might be able to cook monsters…”

“Believe me, we don’t get freaks like that every day.”

“Eh? What’s the problem with that?! It’s simple to obtain, tastes good, and has a strengthening effect!”

“I’m not sure—humans dislike it for whatever reason.”

“For whatever reason…”

—Do you mean you dislike it physiologically? It’s true that you might feel rejected at first. But if you have the courage to take the first step, you may discover a whole new world!

—Maybe… It is my responsibility to enlighten them!

“I’ll spread the monster cuisine all over the world someday!”

“Y-Yeah. Goodluck… Leon, do you have any suggestions for how we can get out of this?”

Leonhardt has been deliberating for some time. Dee speaks to him, and he nods slightly.

“I’m wondering if they’re actually friends…”

He says this solemnly.

Lysette tilted her head.

They collaborate in a group to achieve a common goal. What are they if they aren’t friends?

“There are almost 20 of them—divide the prize money by ten million and you get 500,000 for each person—your share will be reduced even further if you have friends on the ground.”

“That sounds like a bad deal to me. Not worth the trouble.”

“That’s for sure…”

“I’m not sure what sort of distribution system they have… Some of them, I’m sure, want to make as much money as possible in order to outbid each other. It’s better to incite a fight within their ranks before annihilating them all…”

He stops speaking when he notices Lysette and Dee’s eyes on him.

“…Did I say something odd?”

“No, I just thought Leon was seeing things from a higher perspective.”

“As one would expect from a royalty. He has a black belly!”

“Uh…”

Leonhardt slowly walks over and takes a seat in the far corner of the room, facing the wall.

“…Was I the same kind as them?”

He was completely stunned. He mumbled something.

“Hey, hey, don’t be so annoyingly depressed. Aren’t you going to be king one day?”

“No. I’m not going home, and my brother will be king.”

“You’re going to defeat the dragon, aren’t you? Then there’s a chance.”

“I don’t believe it is anyone else’s concern…”

Leonhardt suffered from severe depression.

It is very serious.

“I-I think Leon’s thoughtfulness is admirable!”

Lysette follows frantically.

Dee approaches her from behind and says,

“Please tell him more. He’s trustworthy and nice…!”

“….”

Dee incites her from behind the scenes. This is the best Lysette can do for the time being.

Her heart is pounding, her breath comes in short bursts, and her chest is so full she can’t seem to say anything else.

Leonhardt then takes a deep breath and stands tall.

“The big monsters are on their way—and plenty of them!”

Chapter 39: Manticore

Sounds from outside can be heard if you listen carefully through the Barrier.

Screams from afar, sounds of magical destruction.

The earth was shaken by heavy footsteps.

They gradually get louder and closer.

“Isn’t this terrible? What should we do?”

“Let’s get out of here as soon as possible—they’re probably distracted right now by the monsters—we don’t want to end up in the middle of a fight.”

“Yes.”

When they went outside after the barrier was released, they discovered the ruined town to be a complete battlefield.

Black smoke rose from every direction, and giant monsters walked among them.

【Appraisal】Cyclopes. A man-eating monocular giant extremely strong and powerful

The gang dashed through crumbling roofs until they reached a clear path.

Ahead are bounty hunters fighting black dog monsters.

【Appraisal】Garm. The best dog is a huge, fierce dog.”

“Lysette, let’s go.”

Leonhardt grabs Lysette’s hand and begins running.

The monsters ignore Lysette and the others and head straight for the bounty hunters. The bounty hunters were also distracted by the monsters and did not attack Lysette.

“How come the monsters aren’t coming this way?”

“Monsters are more likely to be drawn to those who have more people—It’s not surprising given their sheer numbers.”

“But if they all die, won’t they come to us next?”

“The bounty hunters have progressed this far—they will not be defeated anytime soon…”

Meanwhile, balls of light can be seen here and there.

The lights indicate either the death or escape of the bounty hunters.

“I think they’re losing badly!”

“There’s no coordination at all.”

Leonhardt, perhaps not expecting this, mutters in dismay in a low voice.

“They must have gotten this far by relying on their individual strengths. They can’t handle a situation with so many enemies.”

A group of people who do not have a leader.

They were not friends, as Leonhardt stated.

“Then let’s take them out quickly.”

Lysette made a quick decision and stopped running.

“Come on, we can’t afford to be concerned about other people!”

“Now that they’re dispersed, it’s easier to fight them—everything is fine. I’m bursting with energy right now!”

Lysette turns her heel and looks at the pack of Garm.

The bounty hunters in the area have been decimated, and they are closing in on her.

【Preemptive-Action】【Fire-magic(Advanced)】【Magical-Coordinate-Correction】

She acquired the skill to increase the magic hit rate.

“Lava Flame!”

The magic activation words are meaningless. They only serve to reinforce the notion of magic.

Lysette imagines burning lava spreading across the area, and with her magical power, she makes it happen.

The ground melts, and molten red lava envelops, swallows, and wipes out the Garms.

However, there are more monsters.

Next comes a huge, muscular, humanoid monster, the Cyclops, a green-skinned, one-eyed giant.

He is much taller than the houses around him, and when he walks, the ground shakes.

From a great height, the dark eyes look down on Lysette.

【Preemptive-Action】【Manipulation-Magic】【Water-Magic(Advanced)】

“Ice Wall!”

Lysette creates a massive ice block between the passageways, impeding the Cyclopes’ progress.

The ice wall extends just below the Cyclopes’ head, but he overcomes it by putting both hands on the ice.

【Manipulation-Magic】【Fire-magic(Advanced)】【Magical-Coordinate-Correction】

“Flame Burst!”

The magic attack erupts at the head’s prominent eye.

A massive explosion of compressed force.

“Flame-Burst!”

An additional explosion in one’s head.

“Flame-Burst!”

Finally, the cyclops’ head is completely destroyed after the third explosion.

The cyclopes collapse and are rendered completely silent.

Shortly after, another cyclops approaches and is similarly destroyed. The body’s lower half is encased in ice, and the head is destroyed by a flame burst.

Her magical power never runs out, no matter how much she uses it.

—I don’t feel like losing!

Suddenly, a black-clad Lilliput falls from the sky.

“Are you serious? These two are formidable!”

The Lilliput has already died.

His neck is bent at an unnatural angle.

Soon after, his body glows and then vanishes. Like so many escape lights.

“Over there!”

Leonhardt’s voice spurs Lysette to look up at the rooftop.

Up there was a golden-haired lion with a human head.

“This is a Manticore!”

【Appraisal】Manticore. with a human head and the body of a lion. with a scorpion’s tail. Its skin is impervious to magic. It is a monster that is extremely intelligent and fluent in human languages.

Leonhardt draws his sword quickly.

The Manticore’s scorpion tail shakes and lifts up.

“Devil’s puppeteer…”

“Did he just say something?!”

The vindictive voice that seems to echo from the depths of the earth startles Lysette from the bottom of her heart.

She had no idea it was possible to communicate with a monster.

“Go get lost!””

Despite the fact that the path to mutual understanding appears to be difficult.

The Manticore leaps from the roof.

A lion’s flexible leap!

No human, let alone a monster, could ever defeat a lion.

However, adventurers are not ordinary people.

The Manticore’s claws are blocked by Leonhardt’s physical body and shield, rather than by a magical barrier.

The Manticore’s claws would normally blow him away due to the disparity in strength.

Leonhardt has the same strength as Manticore but a different build in terms of size and weight.

He is unfazed when a claw digs into his armor because he quickly heals it.

He is armed with the Adamant sword.

The sword slashes through Manticore’s torso skin.

The skin has been ripped open, and red blood is seeping through the golden fur. However, the wound is only superficial.

Lysette decides to pursue it.

“Freeze Arrow!”

The ice arrow enters the Manticore’s body through the wound, and Lysette uses it as a starting point to pour as much magic as she can into the wound.

The skin may be impervious to magic, but the inside is…

“Flame Burst!

Finally, the Manticore was shattered by a massive explosion from within.

Chapter 40: White Grapes of Trent

The half-dead Manticore spews an amber-colored magical stone.

There is a brief moment of silence following the victory.

But the monsters, the Cyclopes and the Garms, remain.

“All right, Leon, Dee!”

They flee in an obscure direction, taking out the approaching monsters.

The bounty hunters did not pursue them. They are not going to take the risk with so much damage and the monsters are still out there. The survivors will come back empty-handed.

“…I’m starving.”

“Does everything you eat turn into magic? I’m not sure if it’s fuel-efficient. “

Lysette’s strength dwindles as she stares at the Cyclopes she has just defeated.

“Hey! Humanoids are out of the question! And I absolutely hate the talking ones! You’ll get some kind of disease!”

“Then what about the Garm…”

“It reminds me of a dog I used to have…”

Leonhardt’s face contorts in sorrow.

—These two are extremely delicate…

Fortunately, there is still plenty of food available. She doesn’t want to force them, so she gives up.

The psychological consequences are also a concern. If it has an impact on the battle, it will be fatal.

“It would be nice if there were bird monsters or plant monsters…”

“…Wait a minute, something smells sweet…”

Dee mutters and sniffs the wind to determine the source of the smell .

“It’s this way.”

They arrive in a green garden.

Lysette is captivated by the sight while being carried on Leonhardt’s back.

It could have been a nobleman’s mansion. The gardens were large and full of plants and flowers, and there was a massive fallen tree that seemed out of place in the gardens.

There’s no sign of a monster.

“This… is a Trent—It’s no longer alive.”

Leonhardt examines the fallen tree monster, only the bark of which remains.

【Appraisal】Trent. A tree spirit. It’s slow and laidback, but when he gets angry, nothing can stop him.

The trent appears to have died a long time ago.

And white grapes were growing on the dead Trent’s shelf.

The fruits are abundantly ripe.

“That’s what that sweet smell is—are they edible?”

Lysette steps off Leonhardt’s back, beside Dee, who is wary.

She grabs the closest grape, plucks it off, and eats a piece.

“Seriously, without a doubt…”

The sour-sweet juice flows out of the fresh berries as the thin skin breaks in her mouth.

“Sweet… Delectable…”

She eats them one after another. Her throat and body are moistened by the fruity water.

“It’s very tasty, you two.”

They all sit on the grass and eat grapes together. It’s like going on a picnic.

“They’re fantastic… I’m curious who planted these grapes.”

“Someone must have discarded the seeds.”

“I can’t believe they grew so well… I’m blown away…”

—I can eat as many as you want. I could soak them in syrup or make sorbet out of them.

Just when she thought that, Lysette magically freezes the grapes and eats them.

“Hmm?”

She shook her head.

—It’s not sweet enough. They taste better as they are.

She concluded and ate the grapes with a carefree expression.

Some grapes improve with modifications, while others are better as they are.

“Perhaps these grapes grew up drinking Trent water as well.”

Leonhardt observes the abundance of grapes and the fallen Trent.

“What is that?”

“It is the water that flows from the Trent that encourages the growth of living things—Trents are said to be so large because of this water.”

“Wow. Perhaps this is why there are so many large monsters in this level.”

“That is entirely possible.”

Leonhardt puts down the grapes.

As he stares at the grapes, his profile is solemn.

“…When I was here before, the big monsters weren’t as numerous. The Dungeon is expanding.”

“Expanding? Is the dungeon expanding?”

—It is as if the dungeon itself has a life of its own!

Leonhardt nods in response to Lysette’s surprise and excitement.

The monsters multiply and become more vicious as the dungeon expands. And they climb to higher layers in search of food, and… when adventurers are no longer able to contain the monsters, they crawl out on the ground.”

“That’s…”

It would be a disaster if the monsters overflowed onto the ground.

There is, however, a barrier in the dungeon territory.

The barrier that keeps Sinner from escaping should also keep the monsters out, but there is no guarantee that it will be as effective.

“It is said that the wild monsters on the ground are descended from dungeon monsters. Because of the different environmental conditions, most monsters are killed and cannot survive, but some species occasionally interbreed with animals and survive.”

Monsters exist on Earth as well. However, the majority of them are small and timid. just like regular beasts.

However, some are enormous and ferocious, such as the Giant-Killing-Bear, which is omnivorous, loves meat, and attacks humans.

“Isn’t it a horrible sensation? Aren’t the monsters within becoming more powerful?”

“The dragon on the sixth layer could have evolved with two heads.”

Dee mumbles uncomfortably.

“No—From the start, the dragon I saw had two heads.”

“Oh my goodness…”

A dragon with two heads

“Perhaps it’s a triple or a power head or something.”

“You’re being too casual about this! It’s more complicated than that! Firepower, fortitude, I’m getting the impression that things are becoming increasingly hopeless. “

“Well, we can’t just sit here and discuss it. We have to see it for ourselves!”

“I’m getting a bad feeling about this…”

Leonhardt gets to his feet.

“Let’s get started. We’ve defeated the area boss, the Manticore, so Lysette should have no trouble finding the stairs.”

“If I so desire…”

The stairs could be found in the hollow of the fallen Trent.

“We’ll meet the dragon soon!”

Lysette began to descend the staircase, her excitement growing.

Chapter 41: The Dragon of The Sixth Layer

There was a hidden staircase inside the fallen Trent, in a cavity deep in the crumbling bark.

There was a cave with a bare rock surface at the bottom of the stairs.

This is the sixth layer. The depths.

The glowing moss on the rock surface makes the cave so bright that no lamp is required.

“So this is the location of the dragon…”

A murmur reverberates through the cave.

It was unnervingly quiet. There is no evidence of monsters.

There are no bats, slime, or any of the lower-class monsters that are common in caves. It was as if the monsters were avoiding this place.

And there was just a sense of oppressive menace in the air.

Leonhardt and Dee were tense and didn’t say much.

They continued down the straight road.

At the end of the road, a large door appeared. It’s a simple yet majestic stone door, like a buried temple.

The door is decorated with carvings. The carvings are curved and circular, like water flowing.

“This is the type of mechanic that will open if you inject magic.”

“Then I’ll do it.”

Lysette placed her hands on the door and poured magic power into it based on Dee’s judgment.

Clack clank

There was a reaction to the door mechanism opening.

After that, Lysette pushed the door slowly, and even with her meager strength, the massive door opened easily.

When the door was opened, a large stone temple appeared.

and also greeted them at the center of the temple…

A massive body covered in tough-looking green scales greeted them in the center, with two long necks and two red-and-white heads staring at them.

“Shut the door!”

“There it is right in front of us!”

She screams with teary eyes while clutching her pulsating chest.

—My heart is racing as a result of the sudden appearance.

“First, let’s just relax. Let’s go over the strategy again.”

Lysette agrees with Leonhardt’s idea and calls a meeting outside the door to talk about how to deal with the dragon.

“First comes the fire breath, and next is the blizzard breath,” he says.

“It’s a dangerous greeting…”

“It takes time for the next charge after he breathes—I can tell when it’s time to breathe again. When the time comes, I’ll block its breath; just don’t get too far away from me.”

Leonhardt has already faced this dragon. He said he retreated because he realized he wasn’t prepared enough at the time, but he has proven that the breath can be avoided with the [Holy-Shield] skill.

“Also, the tail’s attacks are strong, so stay out of its range.”

Dee and Lysette both nod.

“Because of the dragon’s massive body, its movements are rather slow, so if you’re careful, it won’t follow you. It is a formidable foe, with both physical and magical attacks. It has a lot of energy, and once weakened to a certain point, it starts to heal itself. Lysette, this is the time to unleash your full firepower.

“Yes.”

“I want you to take a look at the situation and focus on one of the heads.I’m confident your magic will work.”

“All right. Leave it to me. I’ll do my best!”

Lysette was confident in her abilities.

—If he believes in me that much, then all I have to do is give it my all against the Dragon!

“Dee, wait and see and use the items I gave you.”

“All right.”

Dee looks pale as he answers.

“Hey… Are you sure we can beat that guy?”

The dragon is the most powerful of all monsters.

Intelligent, powerful, and physically strong.

No single human being can match its power.

Only the chosen one, the hero, is capable of defeating the Dragon.

“No party has ever defeated the Dungeon’s Dragon.”

“So we’re the first ones, huh?”

“That’s how it is.”

—We may not be able to win this fight individually, but if we band together, we have a chance.

Leonhardt and Lysette both laughed.

Dee sighed in frustration.

“Well, we’ve come this far, so let’s get going!”

Lysette opens the door again and walks into the room where Dragon is waiting.

The Dragon

In a room that looks like the temple from the abyss, a two-headed dragon that was lying on the floor and looking like it was guarding something gets up.

It stomps its four feet on the floor to support its massive body, spreads its wings as if it could fly at any moment, and roars.

The cries of the two heads shake the dungeon, and the ground trembles as its thick tails slap menacingly against it.

After that, the two long necks shake, and two mouths exhale fire and ice breaths at the same time.

Leonhardt’s magical barrier【Holy-Shield】finally activated.

Despite their diametrically opposed properties, the two breaths—fire and ice—did not cancel each other out, but rather amplified the power of both and fell upon the 【Holy-Shield】.

However, the breaths break through the magical barrier that has been preventing all attacks thus far.

—It’s breaking!

Lysette immediately constructs a defense barrier and attempts to fortify their defense.

However, the extreme attack is still causing cracks in the barrier and the 【Holy-Shield】.

The sea of flames and an ice storm are colliding like a raging tide, attacking the defense that is about to be destroyed at any moment.

Lysette attempts to use her magic once more.

She’s about to use fire and water magic to neutralize and cancel each other out.

But it’s too late for her.

For the first time, Lysette faced death.

Leonhardt’s body is on fire.

Dee’s body freezes solid.

The [Heart-Substitution.] reacts to the death of its owner by enveloping their bodies in a light of escape.

A bright light bursts into the sky. It shines brightly, like a shooting star flying upward.

Having seen off the two lights of escape, Lysette comes to her senses. She sits up, leaning against the wall of the room.

—I’ll make it!

Lysette will not accept the inevitable.

In a spur of the moment decision, she strengthens her barrier with skill points and protects herself with a narrow but powerful barrier. Just for herself.

She didn’t want to die; she just wanted to live.

She gives a bitter smile.

She gets up while the sea of flames and ice continues to burn.

—Can I stop the next breath attack? What about a tail attack?

She was alone with the dragon.

One versus one.

The situation is dire.

However, Lysette realizes that the dragon has lost sight of her because the barrier has obscured the monster’s vision and presence beneath the blanket of the sea of fire and ice.

The dragon isn’t paying attention anymore and wants to go back to sleep, thinking that the intruders are gone.

From the Dragon’s point of view, there is no one here anymore.

There are two choices for Lysette.

Make an attempt to flee.

Or fight.

“…”

Lysette raises her head.

She smiles as she looks up at the high ceiling.

She lowers her gaze and turns to face the dragon.

She extends her hand to the lovely, exquisite creature.

“Will you dance with me until morning, Dragon-san?”

In the earth’s depths, where neither morning nor afternoon can be found,

Lysette prepared for battle by reaching for the unicorn’s horned staff.

Chapter 42: Dungeon Return Location【Side:Leonhardt】

When Leonhardt regained consciousness, he found himself in a dark stone room. The smell of dry stone, the coldness of the floor, and the priests’ prayer echoed through the round ceiling.

Then someone calls him.

“Hey, Leon.”

Dee’s impatient tone brings him back to reality.

He gets to his feet and looks around.

The priests continue to recite psalms of prayer at the altar in the back of the room, and several people are lying on the floor. Adventurers appear in random locations throughout the room, one by one.

Leonhardt already knew.

This was a part of the dungeon, but it was, on the surface, a place of return for those who had escaped or died.

“So I died…”

“We died, yeah.”

He’s having trouble wrapping his head around it.

He is trying to remember, but the strange tiredness of death has taken over his body and mind, making it hard for him to do so.

—Yes… the Dragon’s breath…

He remembered the last scene. The【Holy-Shield】cracked, and the sensation of being burned by the breath of fire returned vividly to him.

—Lysette?

Leonhardt noticed that Dee was there but Lysette was not.

No matter how much he looked around, he could not find her anywhere in the room.

He is shocked, and blood rushes from his body.

Dee silently shakes his head as Leonhardt looks at his face.

Leonhardt’s feet fall off the floor, but he manages to get back up.

“…I’m sorry…Let’s get out of here.”

As he steps out of the return station…

He felt his feet swayed by the height of the sky and the vastness of the world, blinded by the light.

He hadn’t been on the surface for a long time.

But everything appears hazy and faded, including the place he had missed while in the Dungeon.

Many adventurers gather around the return station, and they see Leonhardt’s face emerge from inside.

—Are they bounty hunters? Was Lysette taken first? No, it doesn’t appear to be.

The adventurers’ gazes are fixed. The eyes of beasts looking for prey. They’d be long gone if their prey had already been captured.

—What happened to her? Is she still trapped in the dungeon? Is she fighting the dragon by herself? Is she still dead in that location because she lacks the revive item?

“Hey, Leon.”

When he finally gets away from the crowd at the return station, his lower body wobbles and he falls to the ground.

His strength and magic have been greatly diminished since being resurrected from the dead. His body pays no attention to him.

—No way, is Lysette still…

Lysette gives Leonhardt and Dee the [Heart-Substitution] items. But he seemed unable to recall that Lysette had one on her.

“…Damn it!”

He slams his fist on the ground, carrying his misplaced emotions.

—I’m pathetic. that my big mouth couldn’t protect her. That I died so carelessly!

Lysette was abandoned.

Everything irritates him. It’s infuriating. It’s pitiful.

Leonhardt stood up and looked at the dungeon’s entrance.

A silver-white rocky mountain with a dark hole in it

“I need to go help her.”

“Wait, wait, wait, why do you have gold eyes?!”

“It’s in my constitution.”

When he gets emotional, his eyes apparently turn gold, which Dee had never seen before.

“It has nothing to do with the constitution… wait! We can’t do it by ourselves!”

Leonhardt’s arm was yanked hard, such a force that didn’t stop him, but he couldn’t shake it off either.

“If we keep doing this, it will be the same as before! I doubt we’ll be able to get there on our own… Let’s get some help.”

“…It’s…impossible. Our faces were seen by the bounty hunters in the dungeon.”

—Even if we form a new party, we’ll be tracked down by the bounty hunters. We won’t be able to go deep with them.”

“…Damn it, I understand…”

“You don’t have to do this. I can do it alone…”

Dee had said from the beginning that he would only join them once. Leonhardt had no plans to involve Dee any further now that he was back on the surface.

Punch!

Leonhardt felt a dull thud on his cheek the next moment.

“You’re an as*hole!”

An angry voice echoes through his aching head.

“You’re staggering even with my fists; if you dive now, you’ll surely die!”

It wasn’t until he was told that he finally realized that he had been hit.

Dee grabbed Leonhardt’s chest roughly.

“I know you care about her. So do I! And I don’t want either of you to die! If you want to save her, you should think about it first!”

“Dee…”

—He was right. At this rate, I’ll be dead before I reach the Dragon. I won’t be able to help Lysette if I die. But should I take a chance and hire someone?

Leonhardt has some dungeon magic stones. When he was packing, Lysette gave them to him. He can get a lot of money if he exchanges them for cash and hires additional members.

—But I’m not sure if I can find a reliable companion…

“…”

As Leonhardt mulls over this, a knight approaches.

“It’s been a while.”

“W-Who are you?!”

Dee asks in alarm.

“Please forgive me. My name is Douglas, and I’m a church knight.”

“A knight of the church?!”

“Yes, I was previously saved by Leonhardt-san and Lysette-san in the Dungeon.”

The Church Knight, Douglas.

He came to the dungeon to find Lysette, the church knight who was almost killed and eaten by Mimic in the third level.

“Where has Lysette-san gone? Is she still in Dungeon, by any chance?”

“…”

Leonhardt did not respond.

But the Church Knight seemed to have a good instinct.

“Are you going to pick her up right now? Please let me accompany you. I can be of some help!”

“But, aren’t you a church knight?”

“It’s understandable that you don’t trust me, but I no longer trust the Saint.”

“But wasn’t it the church who put the bounty on her?!”

Douglas sighs and shakes his head.

“No, we have no idea who put the bounty on Lysette-san. I’m sure it’s not something the church is known for.”

Douglas’ words did not appear to be false; he appeared to have his own thoughts on the subject. He continued.

“A high ranking nobleman came to Norun just before the bounty was placed on the table—this nobleman appears to be suspicious.”

“A nobleman?”

“I can’t be certain because he’s hiding his identity, but I believe he’s related to the Marquis of Claudis, the Saint and Lysette-san’s family.”

If this is true, the Saint must have placed a bounty on Lysette’s head.

The saint’s power is limitless. Her power is so great that she can have an impact not only on her own country, but also on other countries.

If the Saint intends to kill Lysette, things are looking bleak.

“Please. I want to repay the kindness she has shown me. To her for bringing me back to my original path!”

Douglas had a strong will. His face and voice were brimming with zeal.

But Leonhardt didn’t nod right away because he was debating whether or not to accept.

—But, then again, he is a church knight…

“Because of the previous failure, I’ve amassed a large collection of revival items!”

“You’re hired!!!”

Chapter 43: Entrance – Third Layer【Side:Leonhardt】

“Really, you?! Don’t get caught by an item!”

“He’s right, Dee.”

“What?”

“We can’t fail. Let’s use whatever that’s available. The revival items are important.”

—We don’t have much time to save Lysette.

The longer it takes, the worse the situation gets. They must get to Lysette as quickly as possible.

If they fall dead on certain layers, then, the revive item is very important.

And Douglas is strong. He has been down to the third layer by himself. He is also valuable as a vanguard force.

And with his infatuation with Lysette, Leonhardt is sure he will not betray them.

“Thank you. I will fight for you with my life.”

Leonhardt squeezed his offered hand back.

“Lysette is in the Dragon’s place on the sixth layer.”

“The sixth layer—that’s as far as you can reach.”

“We’ll leave as soon as we’ve replenished our supplies—we’re running out of time anyway.”

Leonhardt was about to go and gather items, cooking utensils, seasonings, and ingredients for use in the dungeon when Dee interrupted him.

“Hey, of course I’m coming with you! I don’t think you can solve the traps and tricks with just you guys.”

“Dee, thank you. That’s reassuring.”

“Hmm…”

Dee looks away.

As they turn to head toward the main street, two figures come running toward them from the other side.

“Leonhardt!”

“Leonhardt-sama!”

It was voices he heard so many times he could no longer confuse them.

“Gunter, Hilde…”

Leonhardt’s former companions, the warrior Gunter and the healer Hilde, ran up to Leonhardt and burst into tears when they saw him.

“Thank God… you are safe…”

Inside the dungeon, Leonhardt told them to go back to their home country.

—Why are they still in Norun?

But that sort of thing doesn’t matter now.

What matters is…

Leonhardt bowed to them.

“Please! Help us!”

“What?”

“My friend is alone with the dragon.” We need your help…!”

It’s the first time he ever bowed to anyone outside his family.

That’s how desperate he was.

Gunter is a bit of a daredevil but a skilled fighter.

Hilde’s healing skills were among the best in the country—she could revive corpses more efficiently than Leonhardt.”

“Leonhardt, please don’t lower your head.”

“You mean Lysette-san? We’ve seen her wanted list. Please let me go with you!”

“I’m sorry… Thank you so much.”

“We’re the ones who should be thanking you. We couldn’t leave here because we were worried about you. I can’t believe you invited us back…”

“Gunter… You’re still a tear-jerker as ever.”

A party of five is formed, three in the vanguard and two in the rear. It is a well-balanced, almost ideal party.

The lack of magic in a physical group is a bit daunting, but Douglas seems to be able to use magic, and Hilde can also use auxiliary magic.

They have prepared as many supplies as they can and are now entering the dungeon, aiming for the 6th layer as fast as possible.

—Lysette… I’ll help you this time.

It was Lysette who saved Leonhardt, who was dying of despair.

It was Lysette who guided Leonhardt, who was about to lose his way.

—I won’t leave Lysette in the deep darkness; I’ll be sure to rescue her.

Leonhardt was determined to do so, so he strengthened his 【Holy-Shield】with all his remaining skill points and headed back to the dungeon. Together with his friends.

The first layer, the forest area, was the fastest.

In the water area of the second layer, they used Hilde’s levitation magic to move around while they rested and ate roasted water reapers.

Eat and rest properly. That was the ironclad rule.

Time was running out, but they couldn’t allow failure.

Even if Lysette was dead, Hilde’s revival magic can resuscitate her even in bone conditions, but if it leaves too much time, the body will assimilate to Dungeon, which is impossible to revive.

Failing once is not an option.

—I met Lysette at this layer…

Leonhardt looks nostalgic at the seawater-filled area while eating water reapers.

At first, for the first moment after he opened his eyes, he thought Lysette was a messenger of the goddess.

Until he found out that the soup he ate contained unicorn meat.

―Unicorn

Leonhardt has a strong connection with horses, so he was very reluctant to eat the unicorn meat, a horsey monster, but hunger got the better of him.

—And it tasted so good…

If she had not helped mediate relations with Gunter and Hilde, whom they met again in the Dungeon with a vengeance, Leonhardt would not be diving in the Dungeon with them again now.

—It’s all thanks to Lysette… I don’t know how much she has changed me and my destiny.

The change was an irreplaceable joy for Leonhardt.

—○█○—

passing through the second layer and the third layer. The structure had changed again, so they drew a map to navigate the labyrinth. The mimics they found were physically defeated and cooked.

No matter how strong the monsters are, they are easily crushed by the three vanguards.

“This is the first time I’ve ever felt sympathy for Mimic…”

Dee mutters as he dismantles Mimic.

“Leonhardt-sama…Do you happen to eat dungeon monsters while diving?”

Hilde asks with a tearful look on her face.

“Yeah. I’m getting used to cooking. Mimics are about ready. Let’s eat now.”

He sees the mimic turning red from the boiling and calls in his companions.

Tonight is a Mimic hot pot.

Chapter 44: Third Layer To Sixth Layer【Side:Leonhardt】

“…Leon.”

Leonhardt looks up as a clear, soft voice calls.

Lysette dashes toward him, her long, light-blond hair swaying.

“Lysette?”

Lysette’s blue eyes welled up with tears, and she leapt into Leonhardt’s arms, happily.

“Leon, thank God. I missed you so much.”

“Lysette! I’m glad you’re safe…”

Leonhardt wraps his arms around her frail frame.

Lysette, in Leonhardt’s arms, looked exactly like she did when he last saw her, unharmed. That made him extremely happy.

“I fled from the dragon. I’m glad I ran into Leon… Please don’t abandon me again.”

“… I will always protect you.

“I’m glad…”

She looks up at Leonhardt with blue eyes, as if she is yearning for a star that is unreachable.

A gentle hand reaches out and touches his cheek.

“Take me to a place where no one knows who we are—please keep me safe.”

“Lysette… you… are… this is completely surreal!”

Sensing danger, he pushes Lysette away, and she vanishes like a mist.

“Succubus… No, a dream demon… Curse your cowardly mental attack!.”

He directs his rage at the blank white space.

Leonhardt becomes aware that he is dreaming. He also recalls having to take turns sleeping on the third shift.

He is relieved that he has recovered. He would have been trapped in the dream and would not have woken up for a long time if he hadn’t.

Leonhardt tries to force himself awake, but he does not. He is still under the spell of the dream demon.

But there’s nothing else to be concerned about.

Dreams are just dreams. Even if the other party is a dream demon, once he realizes it is a dream, he has the initiative.

As he was on guard, he felt a presence appear behind him.

She turned around to see a woman with rich red hair standing there with a grim expression.

“Erene…”

A gifted mage and his former fiancée, as well as a party member.

“Are you still going to stay here, Leonhardt-sama?”

Her languorous expression, the bright red lips, her lovely voice. Everything is exactly as he recalls.

She lets out a sigh.

“Don’t be too hard on yourself; why don’t you just buy a dragon child and bathe in its blood? You went to such lengths to defeat a true dragon, and you didn’t give up after one failed attempt…”

Erene shakes her head and frowns at Leonhardt.

“Are you trying to kill me? Don’t go out with your self-satisfaction.”

“…”

Even though Leonhardt is aware that he is in a dream, the words pierce him mercilessly.

They were words that had been said to him before.

Dream demons are known for their ability to create such illusions.

It’s the best kind of harassment.

“Leonhardt-sama, that’s enough. Forget about the Dragon and the coming-of-age ritual. Let us forget everything and return to our country to live peacefully as subjects, okay?”

“…She said the same thing to me.”

On the verge of party separation, Leonhardt turned down the offer, and as a result, he found himself alone in the dungeon, dying.

Even if he could go back to that moment again, he would not take her hand.

Unarmed, he imagined his sword was here and suddenly materialized in his hand.

He drew his sword.

“Begone!”

A swing of his sword jolts him awake.

“Leon? hey Leon! Are you okay?!”

He saw Dee’s face when he opened his eyes again.

“Dee…?”

“Phew~, you’re awake now—you looked like you were having a nightmare.”

The others are sound asleep. Leonhardt appears to have been awoken by Dee, the watchman.

“…I forgot about it. I think it was a dream demon…”

“Oh, sh*t. What a waste to forget. Maybe it’s a good dream.”

“It wasn’t my fault… I believe it is person-related… take the rest, I’ll take it from here.

“Oh, thanks—good night.”

Dee quickly slips into his sleeping bag and falls asleep.

Leonhardt stood alone by the candlelight, watching the dungeon’s darkness and reflecting on his dream. He thought he had dreamt about Lysette, but he couldn’t recall anything.

He wishes to meet the genuine Lysette as soon as possible.

He’d like to hear her voice.

He wants her to be safe.

He didn’t require a break.

He didn’t need much to eat.

He simply desired to go deeper.

His body and mind are impatient, but he must control them with logic.

—I can’t afford to fail due to impatience.

Leonhardt was well aware that a healthy diet and a good night’s sleep were required to conquer the dungeon.

—○█○—

The fourth layer.

The area of thick greenery where the wind blows.

The monsters were becoming more powerful, but Gunter and Douglas were both excellent physical attackers, so the party did not receive damage in battle, and the search went on smoothly.

They didn’t see Kanatoko this time. They ate Cockatrice and Harpy eggs while hoping Kanatoko was doing well.

Harpy eggs, in particular, were an important source of nutrition. They cooked them with edible grass in a pot before proceeding to the next layer.

—○█○—

The fifth layer.

The bounty hunters had already disappeared from the fifth layer’s ruined town. The majority of the large monsters had also vanished.

They found the garden with a fallen Trent tree after killing a Minotaur and roasting its meat, and ate some grapes to fill their stomachs and save some for Lysette before going down.

—○█○—

The sixth layer.

Leonhardt’s party finally reaches the sixth layer, and he feels an excitement he has never felt before.

They’ve finally made it this far.

It’s only been four days, but he feels like he’s been wandering around the dungeon for a long time, almost to the point of fainting.

He could not have gotten this far on his own.

Thanks to his companions, he is finally in front of the door to the room where the dragon is.

He’s standing in front of this door for the third time.

—Lysette is probably on the other side. Whatever happens, whatever she looks like, I will save her.

Leonhardt pushes open the door with this determination.

Chapter 45: Reunion

—I think I’ve reached my limit.

Lysette ponders this as she observes the dragon from behind the barrier, a small space where she is completely cut off from the dragon’s presence.

She has been fighting the Dragon with a hit-and-run strategy, but she is reaching the end of her limit.

Almost all of the food she brought with her has been consumed, and she has depleted her supply of ether potions.

The dragon, on the other hand, is still alive.

Although her magic has destroyed the head that breathes fire breath, the head that breathes ice breath is still alive and well.

Furthermore, it has entered a self-healing mode and heals itself whether or not it is attacked. As a result, she was completely out of options.

Lysette’s firepower was insufficient to bring it down.

—I’m curious about what Dragon-san is eating…

While drinking water, she looks at the sleeping dragon.

After all, she’s never even seen the dragon eat.

—He either eats less or does not require food in the first place. If that’s the case, where does that boundless energy come from?

Is it from the dungeon or that magical stone in the monster’s body? The amber stone that the area bosses always carried with them.

She lowered her gaze to the soil on the floor.

Her sown seeds are producing lovely twin leaves. They are the seeds of Mandragora, the magical plant Kanatoko gave her.

She stands up and gently waters the twin leaves.

“I’m leaving now, Dragon-san. I’ll be back soon, so please take care of them.”

She heads for the door, hoping to find a colony of mandragoras the next time she returns.

She placed her hand on the door and let the magic in.

“Nn~… It’s difficult…”

It won’t open no matter how much magic she pours into it.

—Perhaps it isn’t possible to open it from the inside.

She begins to feel hopeless, and as she walks away, the door begins to open from the outside.

—Is there someone outside?!”

“—Lysette!”

Her heart beats faster as she hears her name called.

Outside the door, a hand reaches out, grabs Lysette’s arm, and pulls her through an open gap.

“Wha!…eh? Leon?”

She discovered Leonhardt staring her down.

His emerald eyes pierce Lysette, as if to ensure her safety.

“Thank God…”

Leonhardt’s nerves calm down when he sees she is unharmed. He sounded as if he was about to cry.

And Leonhardt wasn’t the only one standing outside.

“Leon, Dee, huh? You’re… the church knight?! Hilde-san and Gunter-san?! What brings you all here?!”

“We’re here to help!”

Dee’s scream reverberates throughout the cave.

“Help…”

Douglas, the church knight, Gunter, the warrior, and Hilde, the healer, who had been Leonhardt’s companions, all smiled at Lysette.

Lysette’s tension suddenly breaks and tears stream down her cheeks.

“Sniffle, thank you very much, everyone!”

Her head bowed deeply, and her feet shook unsteadily. Leonhardt immediately backed her up.

“I’m sorry, I’m really hungry…”

“Of course, let’s have dinner.”

Leonhardt started cooking the ingredients he had on hand one by one in a two-handed pot.

There was meat, what appeared to be Mimic’s crab-like feet, anti-poison grass, and seaweed.

“Well, it’s a hotpot, isn’t it?

“It’s mostly been a hotpot so far—he only knows how to bake or boil, yet he still wants to cook.”

Dee says this helplessly.

“You never mentioned my cooking before…”

“What’s the point of saying anything?! Please, Lysette, teach Leon how to cook.”

“Yes! I’d be delighted to.”

While the pot cooks, they talk and eat grapes.

They ate these white grapes grown in Trent water on the fifth level.

Dee observes Lysette as she consumes the grapes.

“What have you been up to all this time?”

“Ah, yes. I kept fighting Dragon-san while staying in the Barrier.”

“Huh? Did you go up against the dragon by yourself?”

Hilde inquired, and Lysette nodded.

“Yes. I was fighting it while eating and sleeping. I even grew plants in the barrier field in the room’s corner.”

“That sounds like Lysette would do…”

Leonhardt was impressed.

Lysette continued, her face flushed.

“I was pleased with how well I was fighting, but Dragon-san went into self-healing mode, and we were at a standstill… I was running out of food, so I thought about going back to the upper layers to get more.”

“…You’re not tense, are you? That’s just like you.”

Douglas, Gunter, and Hilde all looked at Lysette with respect, as Dee said, with admiration.

Lysette turned away, embarrassed, and looked at the hotpot.

“Oh, isn’t it about time?”

The pot was fully cooked and looked delectable.

Everyone eats together after dividing the food amongst themselves.

“Itadakimasu! It’s… It’s very tasty.”

The flavors of the various ingredients are combined to create a complex flavor. She hasn’t had such a lavish dinner in a long time. She could have eaten whatever she wanted.

Lysette then remembered. The meals she had eaten by herself were bland. A big pot of hotpot with many people is unbelievably tasty, warm, and filling.

“Let’s go back to the surface when we’re done eating. Hilde, can you prepare the return spell?”

“Wait a second! I’m almost done with Dragon-san!”

Lysette stood up and insisted emphatically.

—It would be a pity to leave.

“I don’t have enough firepower to win this fight on my own, but I’m confident we can win if we all work together!”

Lysette had to retreat due to a lack of firepower, but she was nearly there. Her magical power has been restored by the food. She wants to try it as many times as she can. Of course, only with everyone’s permission.

“…It is true that returning to the surface will not solve the primary issue.”

“That’s right, but not only that… it’s the adventurer’s desire for conquest.”

To defeat the dragon

To venture deep into the dungeon where no one knows about and reap the benefits of it.

Lysette turns to face Leonhardt.

Leonhardt is the party’s leader. He will make the final decision.

Above all, her encounter with Leonhardt prompted her to confront Dragon.

But even if he refuses, Lysette has no intention of returning to the surface.

She would try once more to gather enough strength to face the dragon.

“…I’d like to take on the Dragon.”

His emerald eyes shone with determination.

“However, the goal of this party was to save Lysette. We can’t afford to push ourselves any further now that we’ve done that.”

Leonhardt examines each member separately.

“So, from now on, each of you must make your own decision.”

“…If you want to challenge the mystery of the dungeon, I will be with you.”

This was stated by Douglas, the church knight.

“The mystery of the dungeon has not been solved, even in the Church of the Goddess. It is one of the knight’s sacred duties to get to the bottom of it.”

“I agree. We’ve already progressed this far.

“I concur with Gunter. I’ll make sure that you all recover.”

Gunter and Hilde were in agreement.

“Me too. Just don’t expect me to fight directly.”

Dee was not as forthright as usual.

None of his comrades disagreed with him.

He returned his gaze to Leonhardt and nodded vigorously.

“OK, fine. Let’s go! This time, I’ll protect you!”

“Yes! Let’s win and eat Dragon Steak together!”

“Ooh!”

“O-Ooh…

“Yes!”

“Ooh!”

They raise their arms high in the air with a shout.

“It’s all over the place.”

“No. We’re all on the same page!”

Chapter 46: Dragon Steak

Lysette considered herself fortunate.

She had friends who would come to her aid even if she was trapped in the earth’s depths.

Even if you die once, people will come to your aid.

Lysette stands in front of the door.

She fought the dragon alone behind that door and hid in a corner of the room with the barrier, eating and sleeping.

—I’m not alone anymore. We will defeat the dragon as a team.

Roar!

The Twin-Headed Dragon’s final head roars in preparation for battle.

Its head that breathes fiery breath has already been crushed and hangs limply.

Only the white head remains as it launches his icy breath.

The temperature drops instantly, and an ice storm strikes, freezing the body to the core.

【Holy-Shield】

Leonhardt’s solid magical barrier completely blocks the ice breath.

It was thicker and stronger than anything Lysette had ever seen.

Nothing could get past the most powerful shield.

Lysette then raises the temperature with weak fire magic, and a white mist forms between the dragon and the ground.

Douglas and Gunter then quickly closed the distance with their weapons.

They attack the feet physically while hiding behind the fog.

Roar!

As his front legs are struck, the dragon screams in agony.

In the icy fog, the dragon attacks them with his massive tail.

But it was Leonhardt’s 【Holy-Shield】 who received the tail blow that could destroy even a castle wall.

The tail is deflected by the shield.

From then on, it was a battle of projectiles.

Hilde’s healing comes into play when someone is injured. She instantly heals the warriors’ wounds.

Abd Dee’s arrow struck the dragon in the right eye.

However, the dragon did not succumb.

The temperature drops even more with the creaking sound of ice breath that is about to launch.

—Those Icy breaths…

Lysette begins to form an image.

Power that pervades everything.

—A brilliant white flame.

【Fire-magic(Advanced)】【Friend-or-Foe-Identification】【Magical-Coordinate-Correction】

“Blaze Lance!”

A spear of white flame was formed and pierced the dragon’s neck.

Roar!

Despite this, the dragon did not die. Even in his burned state, he uses his last ounce of strength to expel an icy breath.

At that moment, Leonhardt’s black sword slashes the dragon’s throat.

Gruuu?!

The dragon’s body slowly tilts back as blood spurts out.

The floor and ceiling shake with earthquakes, and pieces of stone fall from the high ceiling as the Titan body finally collapses.

“We won…?”

Leonhardt, holding his blood-splattered sword, mutters in disbelief.

For a brief moment, the dragon moved, but then stopped.

“We won…? S-Seriously?”

Dee’s stunned voice echoed.

“We won? We won! We did! You guys are incredible!”

Lysette sprints up to Leonhardt, jumping up and down.

Victory.

With only six people, they defeated the boss of the sixth layer of the Norun Dungeon.

“I’m so glad everyone came!”

Lysette smiled as she looked at the fallen dragon.

Dragons are a treasure trove. Fangs, claws, scales, bones, and every other body part.

There are only six of them, and they can bring back a lot of spoils.

—But first, there’s the Dragon Steak!

She’d always wanted a dragon steak.

“Come on, let’s make some steak!”

—○█○—

They immediately begin cutting the dragon’s meat. Leonhardt uses his adamantine sword to sever the belly’s hard, scaly hide.

The flesh is cold, most likely because they killed it just as it was about to spit out an ice breath.

“The skin is quite thick… Let’s get some meat from the back.”

A piece of lean meat is taken out.

Lysette takes it and cuts it into steak-sized pieces.

“There’s not a lot of fat.”

Dee looks in with curiosity.

“There’s a fat lump here—I’m not sure if this is enough.”

“I appreciate it.”

Leonhardt gave Lysette a white lump of dragon fat.

“Huh?”

“Gunter? What’s the matter?”

“There’s a lump of fire coming out of the Dragon.”

When they turned around, they noticed a bright flame burning on the floor.

“Could it be the flames of the Dragon? Yes, that is it! Let’s use it to fry the steak… Using the dragon flame, fry the dragon meat. How romantic!”

Lysette does not hesitate to put the pan on the fire and the two-handled pot she got from Leonhardt.

[Ugh? What on earth…]

“Ara?”

Lysette believes she hears a strange voice and looks around but sees no one. Lysette continued to cook without hesitation.

Lysette cuts the meat into chunks and tenderizes it with the back of a knife. Season the meat with salt and spices, then melt the Dragon’s fat on a hot griddle and grill it.

[It can’t be… Hey!]

While grilling the meat, she takes care not to overcook it.

“It’s finished! Dragon Steak!”

Red Dragon Steak.

It still looks tough, so she cut it with a knife and put it in a bowl.

“I’m going to cook more so you can eat it before it gets cold.”

“Leon, let’s start with you.”

“You don’t mind?”

“It’s your coming-of-age present.”

Awebstories: Coming-of-age is 21Y/O, I think

“Hahaha… Thank you very much. Itadakimasu.”

Lysette continues to serve while looking at Leonhardt.

She hadn’t expected him to come to her aid so quickly, let alone with his former companions.

She couldn’t think of another way to express her gratitude.

—I’m happy that Leonhardt’s coming-of-age ceremony went well.

“It’s like Minotaur meat. It’s a little more tough.”

“Minotaur?”

“It’s a cow monster. It was good.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever eat it again.” Dee said.

Their expressions are diametrically opposed.

—I’m curious about what it tastes like.

“Minotaur… I wish I could have some as well…”

“I think there was a little bit of it in the pot.”

“There is no longer.”

“I wish I could have tasted it…”

Lysette swears she’ll one day eat a minotaur.

“Of course, the dragon’s meat is delicious. It’s just… flesh and blood pulsing through my veins.”

“It’s kind of chewy… I like it.”

Dee’s face was relaxed as he spoke.

Dee had told them many times that this was a one-time-only relationship, but he had come this far. She can’t help but be grateful.

“What about Hilde-san?”

“I-I’m sorry—It’s quite difficult.”

Hilde is chewing with her mouth closed. She appears to be having difficulty swallowing.

“Don’t push yourself too hard.”

Next to her, Gunter is munching vigorously.

“This is delicious! The best part is the blood dripping down!”

Lysette is delighted to see two of Leonhardt’s former companions back on the trail of Leonhardt.

“This dragon meat is crude yet noble. It has the flavor of iron…”

Douglas, a church knight, took a keen interest in the Dragon.

Lysette is both happy and worried that he, a knight of the church, has come to help her, a sinner.

“Come on, Lysette, finish your dragon meat. You’ve been craving it.”

Lysette bites into the Dragon Steak at Dee’s urging.

The juices spread slowly and had a firm texture.

It’s a taste she could never have had on her own.

Lysette laughs, savoring and swallowing.

“It tastes like victory!”

Boom!

At that moment, the flame that had been cooking the meat suddenly exploded into scattered flames, blowing out the frying pan and the two-handed pot.

[Do not grill meat with the goddess’s relics!]

Chapter 47: Goddess of Fire Luludu

A girl with burning flames appeared.

Her red eyes and red hair were both brightly burning, and fire shimmered from her entire body.

[I am Luludu, the fire goddess. And I thank you for saving me from the dragon’s belly.]

“W-What a waste of words!”

Douglas, a church knight, falls to the ground and rubs his head.

—Goddess?

Lysette was eating Dragon Steak when she overheard someone claiming to be a goddess.

The figure was engulfed in flames and appeared divine.

The figure looked like it was hollow, or maybe its skin was thin and see-through.

She was nothing but a goddess.

[I have summoned thee many times in my dreams.]

— in my dream… Was it a goddess?

A vividly colored fantasy.

[The meat! Do not consume it!]

Nevertheless, Lysette swallows the meat and wipes her mouth before asking,

“How may I help you?”

[I request that you accept my relic, a goddess’s body… and return it to the surface.]

“The Goddess’s body?”

[This fire. This is a piece of my hair and was originally on the surface.]

The flames that had been used to cook steaks earlier came out of the dragon’s belly at the feet of Luludu, the goddess of fire.

If you look closely, you will notice that it is a strand of hair.

“So, all we have to do is to bring this to the surface.”

[It’s not just bringing it.]

Luludu suggests something.

Lysette becomes alarmed and moves away from the flames.

[Allow me to explain why my hair is here in the first place.]

“No, thank you.”

Lysette refused, but Luludu began to speak quietly.

[There are relics of our bodies all over the world.]

The goddess’s sacred relics.

The majority of them are kept in a safe place by the Church of the Goddess.

[It is a stake used to seal the Titans’ deaths. However, the relics are sometimes buried deep underground. Either the sealed Titan’s force is too great and the flesh melts underground, or it is the work of someone else…]

Luludu sighs contentedly.

[The Titans—attempt to restore the world to its former glory by utilizing the relics that have entered its body as a nucleus—that is the Dungeon.]

“This place is…”

Lysette has always been curious about the dungeon, wondering who built it.

She had no idea the Titans had constructed it from the bodies of goddesses.

[What you’ve seen of Dungeon is a scene from the past. It is the ancient creatures who have fought.]

“…”

In Dungeon, Lysette has seen the world of the past, before the reign of the goddess.

On the fifth level, she saw a ruined town.

The plains, the forests, a labyrinth, the caverns

And the people who once lived in the world are now known as monsters.

[If the dungeon continues to grow, the earth will be flooded by the old times. If this trend continues, the Titans will awaken. That cannot happen.]

If the Titans of the Earth awaken and rise, heaven and earth will be turned upside down. The world will naturally come to an end.

What was once on the earth will be washed away in the sea.

All life ends in death.

[As a result, I give thee my body. I give thee a piece of the fire goddess Luludu.]

“…I mean, what do you mean exactly?”

[You are now the goddess’s vessel. Accept the goddess and return to the surface. The mother goddess originally created the saint for this purpose.]

Lysette sighs and shakes her head.

“I am no saint. My sacred mark has vanished.

[The sacred mark is the soul’s form. Even if the testimony is removed, the soul is a saint from birth. Accept now.]

“I will not.”

Lysette flatly refused.

[What?!]

Luludu, the fire goddess, became enraged because she had no idea she would be rejected.

“I refuse to be a part of the goddess—If a part of the goddess is going to be mine, I’ll think about it.”

If she took on the role of the goddess vessel without question, it would give her a lot of power.

However, you are unlikely to be safe. Lysette, at the very least, will never be the same.

Even if it is to save the world, she does not want to kill herself and become a goddess’s instrument.

Lysette wants neither revenge, nor fame, nor the grace of the Goddess.

“But, I’ll take you back to the surface.”

For a brief moment, Luludu remained silent.

[Arrogance…How dare you treat the goddess in this manner?!]

Her red eyes are red with rage.

She is touched by the Goddess’s wrath.

“H-Hey. Shouldn’t you apologize right away?”

Dee alternately looks anxiously at Luludu and Lysette.

Luludu laughs as he stares at Lysette with burning eyes.

[I like it; you have to be that kind of person to do the job…].

Luludu snorted, smiled contentedly, and extended her right hand to Lysette.

[It has been decided. You are now the wielder of the goddess’s relic, and you must protect the world’s balance.]

“Don’t give me orders.”

[This is the Mother Goddess’ will.]

When these words echoed in her heart, a new skill, 【Sacred-Relics-User】, appeared on its own.

And the figure of Luludu, the fire goddess, vanishes.

Only her burning hair remained at her feet.

—Be careful.

Lysette sighs and grabs her burning hair.

It used to be hot, but this divine fire is no longer hot or painful.

She raised it. The flame touches her clothes but does not burn them.

“H-Hey, isn’t that hot?”

“Certainly not.”

“Let’s see… It’s hot!”

Dee runs away after touching the flames.

Lysette appears to be the only one who is not affected by the heat.

—I’m curious if this is the result of the skill 【Sacred-Relics-User】

“I wonder how much this will sell for.”

“A-Are you planning on selling it?”

Leonhardt exclaims in surprise.

“Yes. All I’ve been told is to bring it back to the surface. Even if I was told to, I wouldn’t know how to use it.”

Lysette’s gaze is drawn to the smoldering hair strand on her hand.

—What will happen if it is returned to the surface? Will the dungeon ever stop expanding? Or will it disintegrate over time? We won’t know unless we try.

She was concerned, but she knew that if she left it in the dungeon, it would grow and expand to the surface. If that’s the case, she’s out of options.

“Even better, we might be able to pay the fine if we sell it to the Church of the Goddess. I’m sure they’d pay a lot for it if it were a Goddess relic.”

“You’re a tough cookie.”

Lysette beams.

“In any case, let’s get out of here. Nobody will be able to harm you now that you have been ordained by the Goddess, are an apostle, and have the relic.”

“No, it’s too early. We still have a lot of work to do to get the Dragon material!”

Lysette gestures to the dragon’s body.

The dragon’s body is a gold mine.

“Let’s gather as much Dragon material as we can and sell it—then we’ll divide it!”

Chapter 48: Return to the surface

In the sixth layer, there were no stairs to descend.

Everyone walked through the Return-Gate with as much dragon material as they could carry in their item bags, went through the Return-Gate, and found themselves in front of the entrance to the Dungeon.

The light and air were very familiar to Lysette.

But the surface world she saw was nothing like the one she knew before entering the dungeon.

She was experiencing discomfort rather than nostalgia.

—It’s the Barrier.

The goddess’ barrier that covered the world became thinner and tattered as a fraying tapestry.

The sheer devastation made Lysette dizzy.

—What are you doing, Meldiana?

Saint is in charge of repairing the barrier.

The fact that the barrier is on the verge of collapse means that Saint Meldiana is not doing her job.

And what is Saint Meldiana doing when the barrier is about to fall?

“Lysette.”

Leonhardt wraps a cloth around her head. So they don’t see her face.

“Thank you.”

—I’d completely forgotten I was on the bounty.

Under the suspicious eyes of the adventurers, Lysette and her friends go to the church as planned.

They entered the Church of the Goddess on Norun territory. Accompanying them was Douglas, a church knight.

They are led into the church’s cathedral.

The church knights stand in front of the doors and by the windows on the walls, surrounding Lysette and the others.

The atmosphere is not welcoming. The church appears to have a negative opinion of the Lysettes.

As they wait and look at the goddesses depicted in the stained glass windows, three priests walk into the sanctuary.

Leading them is a young priest whom Lysette first met when she arrived in Norun.

She vaguely recalls fleeing his explanation and making her way to the dungeon.

Lysette removed the cloth she was wearing and proceeded to the point without saying any greetings.

“I have something I want you to buy for the Church of the Goddess, a Goddess relic found in the dungeon’s lowest level.”

“A relic?”

The eyes of the audience were filled with suspicion.

Lysette understands that this is not an easy story to believe.

Lysette takes a burning flame from her item-bag.

“This is the goddess of fire’s hair.”

It appears to be nothing more than a flame.

However, if you look closely, you will notice that it is a strand of burning hair.

The cathedral is now filled with sounds.

“How about a hundred million dollars in gold?”

“If it’s 100 million…”

“It’s a goddess’ relic. I believe it is reasonably priced. If you can’t, there are other options for converting it, so…”

“Please wait. I’ll call an appraiser.”

As the priest said this without losing his composure, a new person came into the hall.

“It was an elf.”

A black robed, black-haired, green-eyed elf—Lanial Mador, the alchemist of the [Black Cat’s Alchemy Pot] store.

“Yes, I always appreciate your patronage! Lanial Mador, alchemist and appraiser, here. I’m glad I came to church to see if something like this could happen!”

The priest in charge was taken aback by her unexpected appearance, but he did not dismiss the alchemist, Lanial. Maybe because she is an appraiser regularly hired by the church.

Lanial, the alchemist, bounces toward Lysette and immediately appraises her relic.

“This is the goddess’s hair…”

It doesn’t take long for the sanctuary to fill up.

Perhaps the story of the relic has spread throughout the church, as church workers and laity training to become priests gather inside the cathedral to watch.

“… Yes, this is real! It’s unmistakably the hair of Luludu, the fire goddess!

The cathedral was filled with a buzz of agitation and excitement.

“What?! Is this worth only a hundred million? What a steal! If the church refuses to purchase it, I will!

“P-Please wait a moment!”

The priest in charge of Lysette is trying to remain calm, but he can’t hide his agitation.

Perhaps there is no one above him in this local church who can make such a serious decision.

In the midst of the uproar, a man entered the church with pride, despite the fact that the church was full of agitation.

The older aristocrat approaches Lysette with an unfriendly expression on his face.

“Ara? I greet the acting Marquis of Claudis.”

Lysette bows politely to her father, the Acting Marquess of Claudis, who is thought to have put a price on her head.

Douglas had told her that she had a relative here, but she hadn’t expected him to be here, let alone travel for her sake.

A woman in a full-length veil stood behind the Acting Marquis.

She appeared frail and weak, like a twig on the verge of snapping.

“Give it to me, my daughter. You can’t handle it.”

Lysette shakes her head.

“I’m not sure what you mean. I don’t think there is any link between me and the acting marquis.”

“How dare you address your father in such a manner!”

“With all due respect, Marquis Claudis—You said you were going to break off the relationship between parents and children. Have you forgotten?”

When Lysette was arrested for insulting Saint, he certainly said so.

—And now to go back to being father and daughter only when it suits you?

And then

As she was appalled, the door in the back of the room, which was different from the one the Acting Marquis of Claudis came in through, violently opened.

“I’ve heard the story!

A young man appeared dashingly in the cathedral. A nobleman with cropped blue-silver hair and a luxurious coat entered, with his bodyguard proudly coming in.

“And now the Duke of Bern’s heir—One after the other… What exactly is going on here?

Lysette is taken aback by her former fiancé, Duke-heir Bernard Bern’s entrance.

After breaking up with Lysette because he thought she wasn’t good enough to be his wife, he claimed to have discovered true love shortly after the sacred mark was transferred to Meldiana.

“I have heard all this in letters from Saint Meldiana. If it really is a relic of the goddess, then it belongs to Saint Meldiana!”

Lysette shifted her gaze from the Acting Marquis to the Duke-heir.

“So, which of you is willing to pay 100 million gold for it?”

“Lysette. Can’t you hear what I’m saying? For a long time we—

“Don’t switch topics. Or… Are you planning on stealing for free?”

“What…”

Bern’s next Duke pauses; it appears that he was planning to do so.

“If you don’t want to buy it, I’m done talking. Please leave so that we can continue our discussion with the church.

“…The church will pay 100 million gold for it.”

It was not a priest who said it, but a woman with a long veil over her head who stood behind the Acting Marquis.

Lysette recognized her even before she heard her voice, despite the fact that she showed no skin and had no visible face.

The voice, however, sounded slightly different through the veil.

—Meldiana…

Chapter 49: The Saint

“Saint Meldiana-sama…”

Douglas, the church knight, calls the saint’s name.

Meldiana, without removing her veil, addresses the priests.

“What are you waiting for? The adventurers own the rights to what they obtain from the dungeon. And if they are the goddess’s relics, they belong to the Church. Prepare it now.”

Other than the priest in charge of Lysette, the two priests step back at her command.

—Are they really going to pay 100 million gold for it?

Before they left the dungeon, her friends agreed to sell the relic and dragon materials, pay Lysette and Dee’s fines, and split the rest.

Lysette argued that her share was excessive, but the majority vote prevailed.

She had planned to sell it at a higher price in order to increase distribution to everyone, but she never expected it to go through without a price negotiation.

She figures it doesn’t matter because it’s church gold, not Meldiana’s or the Marquise’s gold.

“Congratulations, Onee-sama. You are now a free woman. I had faith in you.”

Meldiana’s true motivations are unknown.

Not just because of the veil.

“Onee-sama, may I examine the relic more closely?”

“Yes, of course.”

Lysette hands Meldiana the strand of burning hair.

And when Meldiana’s gloved fingers come into contact with the flames.

“Hot, it’s hot!”

The flames ignite the glove, quickly spreading through the veil and engulfing Meldiana in flames.

“Water!”

Meldiana screams and rolls on the floor as Lysette casts Water Magic on her.

Meldiana is immediately doused in water, and the flames are extinguished.

“I’m going to use recovery—.”

Hilde rushes over to help Meldiana with her burns.

“No! Don’t look!”

A shrill cry reverberates through the air.

The veil has burned away, and the figure she sees is not the one Lysette is used to seeing.

Her lovely green hair had faded and lost its luster, her body was as slender as a dead branch, and her skin was deeply wrinkled.

It was the appearance of an elderly lady.

“Meldiana, what the hell happened?!”

Duke Bern, who arrives with a drawn face but is trying to calm down, expresses concern for Meldiana, who has assumed the form of an elderly woman.

Hilde’s healing abilities quickly healed Meldiana’s burns.

Meldiana hid her face with a jacket that her father, the Marquis of Claudis, had given her.

“… Onee-sama, how could you have done this to me…”

In a weak voice, she said.

“What?! Was this done by Lysette?”

Lysette has no idea. Meldiana looks like that, and she doesn’t know why.

Meldiana remained silent and sobbed softly.

Bern, the Duke-heir, glared angrily at Lysette.

“What a fool you are, Lysette—the Goddess will punish you for making your sister look like this!”

“I really have no idea.”

“Don’t lie, Meldiana is crying!”

He makes obnoxious gestures and denounces Lysette.

Even if Lysette denies everything, he will not believe her.

“…What the hell is the matter with him?”

In hushed tones, Dee inquires.

“My sister’s current fiancée is the duke’s heir, and he’s my ex-fiancée.”

She responded quietly.

“The relic, too, is most likely a fake! How can it be a goddess relic if it harms Meldiana, the Saint?”

He screams.

The other side will not listen to Lysette.

Lysette sighs slightly.

—After all, on the surface, there is nothing but trouble.

She’s beginning to miss the simple life of Dungeon, where power is everything.

Leonhardt takes a step forward at that point.

“The goddess recognizes Lysette and bestows a portion of her body on her—we are the witnesses—let us refrain from making false statements.”

“I don’t need some random adventurer telling me what to do!”

“…My name is Leonhardt Wilfried, and I am the second Prince of Ville.”

—Leon?

The Duke-heir Bern opens his mouth with a gasp when Leonhardt’s name is mentioned.

Meldiana, who had sat down, looks up and the acting Marquess of Claudis swallows.

“Ah, yes… a hero’s descendant bathed in Dragon Blood. You also have the skill 【Dragon-Blood(Awakening)】, which is proof of royalty, indicating that you are a prince with the right to the throne.

The Elven alchemist, Lanial, announces the appraisal results with a smile.

“If our testimony isn’t enough, a church knight is a witness as well.”

“Yes. I swear by the Goddess, Church Knight Douglas, that I speak the truth.”

Douglas salutes Lysette, who is holding the goddess’ relic.

“The Fire Goddess appointed Lysette-sama as her messenger and entrusted her with the relic. We witnessed the entire exchange on the sixth layer of the dungeon.”

“But…But, if that’s the case, why did you harm Meldiana, the goddess’s daughter?”

“Because she is a fake Saint.”

Leonhardt stated the doubts that many of the audience members had been harboring.

As expected, Lysette panicked, and Dee was drenched in cold sweat.

“H-Hey.. Don’t argue with the church…”

“It is evil when a wrong is done by force.”

Evil

—Leon is fighting for my sake. On the other hand, I…

Leonhardt is trying to fight what he cannot stand.

Something Lysette has given up on and never confronted.

“Insulting the Saint is unforgivable, even for foreign royalty! Seize these infidels!”

But no one followed the Duke-heir Bern’s orders.

In the first place, he has no authority to give orders within the Church.

Leonhardt takes a step forward.

“Meldiana…you stole the Holy Mark from Lysette, the true Saint, and pretended to be a Saint…you imprisoned Lysette for a crime she did not commit…you even placed a bounty on her life…”

“N-No.”

“Then, if you say otherwise, show us proof that you are the Saint.”

He has a calm voice and expression when he speaks. His demeanor is solemn.

Meldiana looked down in silence under the quiet pressure.

The answer is nothing but silence.

A long silence, as if time had stood still.

All eyes were fixed on Meldiana. It was a look of suspicion.

—Meldiana, you are…

Looking at the broken barrier on the surface, and the curse of the earth that was about to overflow, Meldiana had clearly failed in her role as the Saint.

Is she truly not? Or is it simply impossible?

This may have increased their mistrust of Meldiana.

Lysette took a step forward.

—I won’t run away any more.

Lysette made up her mind as she looked at Meldiana, who was still in a slumped position.

Then she looks up at the cathedral’s stained glass windows and sees the goddess’s image there.

If Lysette is still Saint, as Luludu, the fire goddess, stated, then—

Lysette raises her gaze to the ceiling and beyond the sky.

A light shines in the depths of Lysette’s chest, as if in response to her gaze where the saint’s Sacred Mark once appeared.

Then a light falls through the church’s roof and envelops Lysette.

A sacred power manifests itself as a light pillar.

“The Blessing.”

Blessing from the Goddess of Salvation and World Protection

—Bless this earth, bless it, and bless it with peace.

Lysette closes her eyes and, guided by the power, casts a large-scale barrier spell.

She mends the broken barrier that encircles the entire Norun dungeon territory.

As she opens her eyelids again, she sees a sparkling light floating up from the ground around this place, like a drop of water on the surface of the water.

Lysette’s barrier repair was successful, and the curse will not erupt around this location for the time being.

“Saint-sama…”

“…The true saint is…”

Priests and church knights cast reverent glances at Lysette.

They christened Lysette the Saint.

Chapter 50: Present Dungeon

“What the hell…”

A low, resentful voice echoes in the hall.

Meldiana, who had been sitting on the floor, staggers to her feet and slams her jacket to the ground.

“…You used to worship me… How dare you take advantage of me?!”

Meldiana clenches her teeth and glares at Lysette.

“How come you’re the only one…”

“…”

“It’s always, always, always you! Why do I have to look this way? It’s not fair! It’s not fair! It’s not fair!”

She throws tantrums like a child.

“You’ve always been happy! I should be happier from now on. This isn’t fair! Give it back! Give me back my power, my beauty, my happiness! Ugh… Aaaaahhh!”

She wails from the depths of her being.

No one approaches.

But only in response to Meldiana’s cry comes deep darkness from the back of her neck.

It’s the location where the holy mark was transferred.

Suddenly, a figure emerges from the shadows behind Meldiana.

A young man with brown skin and silver hair embraces Meldiana lovingly from behind.

“It’s beautiful… How greedy you are, Mel. That was what I was hoping to see.”

His voice is as sweet as honey.

Meldiana’s holy mark is being scrutinized by his silver eyes.

—Silver eyes and pointed ears?

Lysette recognized him.

He was there and was responsible for transferring the holy mark from Lysette to Meldiana.

“It’s the Black Magician!”

【Appraisal】Dark elf, an ancient species who had not sworn allegiance to the goddess of salvation.

The dark elf rapturously runs his hands over Meldiana’s chin.

“I know you want it—the power of our forefathers, the Titans. Power, youth, beauty, and love will all be yours.”

“A,ah…Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

A sudden gust of wind.

Despite the closed door, a strong wind is blowing toward Meldiana.

And what follows are screams that can be heard outside. Not just one, but many.

Soon after, the stained glass behind the altar shatters.

Leonhardt’s magical barrier blocks the multicolored shards of glass that pour down to them.

From behind the shattered glass, two harpies emerge, laughing and in good spirits.

A massive bird with the head of a woman.

The sudden attack of the monsters causes a commotion in the cathedral.

“Freeze Arrow!”

Lysette quickly dispatches the Harpies with her magic.

The dead monster collides with the Acting Marquis of Claudis and faints, and the Duke-heir Bern flees.

The wind finally died down, and Meldiana and the black magician vanished.

“How on earth…”

“More than that! What the hell are these monsters doing here?!”

While screams and clamor echoed from outside, Dee shouted the same question everyone was asking.

Their question is soon answered by the priests, who rush to the cathedral and yells.

“Goddess Mother! Monsters are bursting out of the dungeon one after another, Aagh!”

Then a green slime appears and attacks the priest from behind.

People who are unfamiliar with the monsters scream and flee for safety.

Leonhardt then collides with Slime and slashes the monster with his sword.

“We’re going to fight the monsters outside! Those who are unable to fight should enter the church for protection. And the church knights will protect the interior.”

Leonhardt gives instructions in a familiar voice as he knocks down another slime and a big frog coming into the church from outside.

“Freeze Arrow!”

Lysette fires several ice arrows at Leonhardt while reducing the number of monsters pouring into the cathedral.

Although the skill 【Friend-or-Foe-Identification】 prevents magic from hitting anyone other than monsters, there are many restrictions on the use of magic outside, namely buildings.

It will start a fire if it burns too hot.

Then a hateful voice echoes from the Fire Goddess’s hair.

[It’s the Dark Elf! He exploited your sister’s desires and dragged the dungeon to the surface. At this rate, the monsters in the dungeon will overflow inexhaustibly.]

They emerged from the church to find monsters like stone golems and cockatrices roaming the streets.

Monsters are being fought by adventurers and those who can fight, but there are far too many of them.

Harpies flew through the sky, and several small winged dragon-like monsters perched on the roofs of the adventurers’ guild building.

Weak and strong monsters alike were attacking towns and people as if they were ordered by someone.

Then a massive tower came into view in the direction of where the dungeon had been.

It was a white tower made of bones, and monsters poured from it.

The unmistakable tower is the Norun Dungeon, which has risen from the ground.

“The Dungeon has surfaced…”

Just as Luludu, the goddess of fire, predicted.

The dungeon Lysette saw, on the other hand, was much larger. It contained numerous worlds.

The vastness of the world is not adequately represented by the tower of bones.

—I guess the dungeon’s interior is truly another world.

[This is the true size of the dungeon—your only hope is to become a Sacred Relic User.]

She stares at the monsters pouring out of the dungeon with conflicting thoughts.

“Are you sure you want to deal with this many monsters?! It’s pointless, you idiot!”

Dee swears.

True, the odds are stacked against them against this many monsters. They are completely outnumbered, and the monsters will cause damage elsewhere while they fight them in one place.

“Luludu—please do me a favor.”

Lysette calls out to the hair of the fire goddess in her hand.

[Tell me.]

“Please don’t make me a saint, so that a new saint with the Goddess’s blessing will be born in this land—this is my condition.”

Saints are obligated to the land, the state, and the Church.

Lysette is not interested in such constraints.

She wishes she could spread her wings more freely, even if it means dying in the dungeon’s depths.

Saints’ power is best left to those with a heart for people and country. Someone who can do it with pride and a sense of purpose.

[Don’t be concerned—the Mother Goddess is always keeping an eye on us.]

“Thank you very much.”

It was an uncertain answer, but she took her word for it.

When Lysette finally agrees to take the relic, it starts to burn very fast and changes into a scared flame.

Lysette is engulfed by warm flames that disappear into her body.

Immediately, her magical power grows stronger. Her fire magic, in particular, was strengthened.

The goddess’s powers are coursing through her entire body.

Lysette’s eyes are on fire, and her hair is a fiery red.

Lysette was firm.

—Do not allow yourself to be ruled by force. This power is under my control!

【Fire-magic(Divine-Class)】【Friend-or-Foe-Identification】【Magical-Coordinate-Correction】

“Ultimate Blaze!

Invoking the Goddess’s flame, where the Mother Goddess is seated in the heavens, The Goddess who came down to earth let her flames burn.

Let the flame of the Goddess descend to the earth.

A split second later, the heavens open and white flame rains down on the earth.

The countless white flames pierce all of the monsters on the ground and instantly burn their bodies.

Chapter 51: Everything in Dungeon

The monsters that appeared on the ground vanished without a trace.

“What power…”

Lysette examines her hair after hearing Leonhardt’s voice.

A tuft of it is red-hot.

“Are you okay, Lysette?”

“I’m fine. Thank you very much.”

Her hair is on fire, but it is not hot.

The flames did not spread.

Except this part resembled Luludu’s hair.

However, it is Lysette’s hair.

She remains herself.

“Come on, people. We must do something about the dungeon or the monsters will come out again.”

“All right, let’s go.”

They went to the dungeon that had appeared on the surface and fought off the oncoming monsters.

On the surface, the dungeon is a tower of white bones.

As they approach the tower, they notice Meldiana crucified in the center. Together with the Dark Elf.

The Dark elf’s arms, which had become one with the dungeon, held Meldiana tightly, determined not to let her go.

【Fire-magic(Divine-Class)】【Friend-or-Foe-Identification】【Magical-Coordinate-Correction】

“Ultimate Blaze!”

The goddess fires her shooting flames once more.

The white flame burned through the dungeon. The fire is so hot that even a piece of bone is burned away.

The dungeon is crumbling, scattering into ashes like snow.

Adventurers who appear to have been left behind in the dungeon emerge from the ashes. Meldiana is among the ashes.

Only the Dark Elf rose to his feet. The others were all motionless and unconscious.

“Damn…”

The dark elf spits out what is in his mouth. A mixture of blood and ash.

He screams, his chest heaving and his shoulders hunching. He smiles, a contented smile nonetheless.

“It’s a total defeat, Lysette. I had no idea you were so talented—I thought you were just another tool.”

He sends dark admiration with hatred in his silver eyes.

“That is why I am unable to let you live—you’ve already used up your magic, haven’t you?”

“…”

That’s correct.

Her magic is nearing exhaustion after two large spells.

“Who are you?”

“Elkd Domel—The faithful servant of the Lord of all the Dungeons.”

The Dark Elf beams with pride.

He appears to be confident in his victory over Lysette.

Lysette takes a deep breath and exhales.

“Why did you come before us?”

“I’m here to help Mel. I was attempting to pique her greed and bring the dungeon to the surface. Everything was going so well…”

The Dark elf’s appearance changes.

He floats as black flames rise from his body.

“You’re the devil’s puppet…”

The black flame erupted, transforming the Dark Elf into a dragon figure.

The black dragon is surrounded by a black magic circle. A mass of black, fiery magic that looks like a snake’s teeth is moving toward Lysette.

The black magic tries to devour Lysette.

That day.

This dark magic was responsible for Lysette’s loss of the Sacred Mark.

The same dark magic is now attempting to devour all of Lysette.

【Holy-Shield】

Fortunately, Lysette is shielded by a powerful magical barrier.

The shield that has been protecting Lysette for a long time.

She takes a step forward.

She takes a look at the black dragon.

Her magic power has been depleted by the two large magic spells.

But

for her friends.

The Fire Goddess

Dragon’s Steak

All of the encounters and blessings in the dungeon have strengthened Lysette.

Everything in the dungeon. Blood, flesh, and magic.

—I can still fight!

Power comes to her.

【Manipulation-Magic】【Fire-magic(Divine-Class)】【Magical-Coordinate-Correction】

“Blaze Lance!”

She gathers all of her magical power and uses the spear of divine flame to pierce only one point. The black dragon’s body.

Roar!!

The divine flame immediately consumes the black dragon’s body, turning it to ash.

The ashes fly into the sky, blending with the ashes of the dungeon and blending into the sky’s blue.

The amber-colored magical stone that was deep within the black dragon’s body falls from the sky to the ground. As if to indicate the end of it all.

Hilde immediately casts recovery magic over a large area, and the fainted adventurers gradually rise to their feet.

Lysette walks over to Meldiana, who is still on the ground.

“She is still alive. But she’ll never look the same. However, her body is young on the inside, and her bodily functions are normal.”

“Thank you very much, Hilde-san.”

Lysette gently touches Meldiana’s face.

—She is still alive.

Relieved by the warm body she feels, she checks the back of her neck. The mark of the saint had disappeared.

The body of Meldiana is carried to the church after that.

The adventurers who have regained consciousness and those who have escaped the disaster are standing in front of the ashes of the vanishing Dungeon.

The dungeon has vanished.

Whoosh~

When the ashes are blown away by the wind, all that remains is a hole in the ground.

The Norun’s Dungeon has vanished.

“Lysette…”

“Leon… What should I do? Now that I’ve become one with the relic, I can’t sell it…”

Her hair, which had burned red when she took the relic, has already been restored, but the relic can no longer be recovered. Its power was fully integrated with Lysette’s.

Because it could not be sold, the fine would have to be paid in another way.

“I’m not sure how I’m going to make money without the Dungeon territory…”

“No, but there is the Dragon materials.”

Dee nodded in response to Leonhardt’s words.

“T-That’s right. We’ve brought it all over. We’ve all got the dragon materials in our item bags. I’m confident we can scrape 50 million with the dragon materials.”

“But then everyone’s shares…”

Leonhardt sighs and shakes his head.

“Don’t be concerned. We didn’t go into the dungeon with that goal in mind. It’s for you, Lysette. So use it for your freedom.”

Douglas, Gunter, and Hilde all nodded.

Their expressions are gentle.

“Everyone…”

Lysette’s heart was pounding.

It filled her with warmth to the point that tears were on the verge of welling up.

Chapter 52: Payment

“Hello there, and congratulations on completing the dungeon! It was resolved quickly, as expected.”

The alchemist, Lanial Mador, arrives at the site of the dungeon and turns her pointed ears once in the direction of the ashes where the Dungeon once stood.

“Really, you idiot…”

She mutters to herself, somewhat sadly.

Lysette assumed it was directed at the dark elf.

“Do you recognize him?”

“Elves have a long life. The majority of us are acquainted. “

Elves are a species that live for a very long time.

Many of them existed before the world as we know it today. They are so old that it is impossible to determine their exact age.

Lanial may appear to be a girl, but one has no idea how long she has been alive.

“It seems that the mission of the lord of the dungeon is to raise the dungeon, release the monsters to the world, and let the monsters loose on the earth, but I guess he failed. He did his best.”

Lanial gives a light chuckle.

“By the way, I heard you… do you have Dragon materials? I’ll pay 60 million gold for it!”

The alchemist’s offer is accepted, and the dragon materials brought from the dungeon are sold right away.

She was given 60 million gold coins and went to the church to pay for the holy coins.

“No, I can’t accept it.”

Lysette goes to see the priest in charge of the church on her own, and he flatly refuses her.

“Please don’t say such a thing.”

“First and foremost, we owe you an apology for the heinous treatment and disrespect we have shown you, Saint-sama…”

“No, you didn’t have a choice.”

Meldiana was naturally recognized as a saint by the Church because she had solid proof of the Sacred Mark.

“But…”

The priest is stubborn.

Lysette decided to give in.

“Then let’s call it quits—let us consider the future, rather than the past.”

She looks at the corner of the cathedral.

Meldiana and the Acting Marquis of Claudis were both unconscious.

Meldiana’s appearance wasn’t back to normal, but she wasn’t dead, and damage or aging hadn’t changed most of how her body worked.

—I would like to leave this to the Pope.

They would both be executed if they were left alone without further explanation. Although the Church does not have the death penalty, they will certainly be severely punished, particularly Meldiana.

On the other hand, if they express their gratitude to her, Meldiana may act arrogantly as a relative of Lysette, the Goddess’s Sacred Relics User, or she may be taken advantage of by the powers that be. This should not be overlooked either.

Lysette is no longer concerned with the past. She didn’t care what her father, Meldiana, or her ex-fiancé had done to her before.

Rather, she has gained more than she has lost in this dungeon realm.

However, she’d like to retain the name of the house where she was born and raised. She wants to pay tribute to her mother, grandparents, ancestors, her family.

“If you will obey my command, I want you to take away their status and make them work in the church as servants.”

“Do you mean? I see. I’ll do everything you say.”

“Yes. Make certain that they work hard.”

The Church wields greater power than the King.

They will now be safe under the watchful eye of the Church.

The acting marquis will lose his title and authority over the house, but the rest will be taken care of by Lysette’s relatives.

The two, who have lived in luxury as saints and nobles, may have a difficult time ahead of them.

—Human beings can cope as long as they live.

“Ugh…”

Lysette looks at Meldiana as she hears a faint moan.

“Why do you always have to…”

She didn’t regain consciousness; instead, she mumbled.

“…”

And Lysette finally gets it.

Her sister has been trapped for a very long time.

“Because she only sees me in that light.”

probably since their first meeting.

She wasn’t seeing Lysette, but an illusion.

She both envied and despised the vision of her wealthy sister having everything.

“Look at yourself from now on.”

Look at what you hold in your heart.

Take a look at yourself.

She has no idea if these words will reach Meldiana, who has fainted yet again.

Even if she had heard them, she would not have accepted them.

She still hoped that one day she would be free of her delusions.

A monastery within a church would be an ideal setting for this.

“How much damage has been done to the church?”

“Don’t worry, thanks to Saint-sama’s miracle and the valiant efforts of adventurers and church knights, there isn’t much damage in town. The treatment of the injured appears to be moving forward.”

“Sigh, that’s good to hear.”

She realized how strong this town and its adventurers were when almost no damage was done to the town even though so many monsters showed up.

The loss of the dungeon may be the town’s undoing, but they may soon find another way of life and another industry.

Humans are powerful.

They have the power to change.

“I am no longer a Saint, but don’t worry, this country has a new Saint. Now, if you’ll excuse me.”

“Saint-sama!”

Lysette smiles and shakes her head.

“I’m not a saint anymore—I’m just an adventurer. And a fan of monster cuisine!”

“Monster cuisine?”

“If you get the chance, give it a shot; it will change the world!”

Lysette bowed and exited the church, returning to her friends.

Outside, the light was blindingly bright.

Lysette is now free.

Chapter 53: Norun Dungeon Territory All Clear!

The 60 million gold coins that were made from dragon parts were split up among the members of the party.

Douglas returns to the church as a church knight and will donate his share.

“It was a pleasure to meet all of you. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. I’ll be present. Don’t worry; I’ll keep an eye on them both.”

Gunter and Hilde will not be returning to their homeland. Lysette was delighted to see their cheerful expressions.

They were hesitant to accept the distribution, but Lysette forced them to by saying, “It’s a promise.”

“We constantly pray for your safety.”

“Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.”

They were back with the group of three in the blink of an eye.

“Dee, what are you going to do now?”

“I’m not sure. My fines have been paid, and I now have some money. I think I’ll take a break and get a regular job.”

“That’s wonderful.”

“Right? You know where to go if you need a locksmith or a mercenary. So long, it’s been fun.”

With those words, Dee also departs, leaving only Lysette and Leonhardt.

They walked side by side through the busy streets without saying anything to each other.

With the dungeon gone, the town’s adventurers, as well as the merchants and craftsmen who had received the dungeon’s blessings, are fleeing.

The Adventurer’s Guild will close early if the adventurer leaves.

Sinners sentenced to the dungeon may be granted amnesty and assigned to another service.

That is how the world and times evolve.

Lysette must decide where she wants to go from here.

—How should I proceed? I can’t keep quiet any longer.

But if Lysette asks Leonhardt what he’s going to do from now on, he’ll just tell her where he’s going and they’ll part ways after.

—Then I’ll be alone once more. It’s a little lonely out here.

“Lysette. What are your plans for the future?”

When Lysette does not speak, Leonhardt interrupts her thoughts.

—In the end, we can’t keep quiet forever.

The desire to cross the ocean no longer appeals to her.

Lysette is speechless and looks up at the sky.

The blue sky is serene.

—When you have freedom, it makes you dizzy.

“Actually, I haven’t made up my mind yet.”

“How about Leon?”

“I…”

She expected an answer soon, but Leonhardt muddles as well.

Leonhardt finished his coming-of-age ceremony to defeat Dragon.

He claims he has no plans to return to his homeland, but opinions can change.

Lysette can only wish him well wherever he goes.

—Perhaps not. Perhaps you should reconsider. But I’d like to ask him if he wants to accompany me. If he refuses, that’s fine.

In any case, they’ll be safer together than alone. That is the reason.

“I’m going with—”

“Wait! Lysette!”

A familiar voice calling interrupted him as he was about to finish his response.

The Duke-heir, Bernart Bern, is there, covered in dust. Maybe he was hiding somewhere during the monster stampede.

“How come you’re still here?”

“I was wrong.”

“…What exactly are you on about?”

“You’re the only one I care about. Please come back to me!”

—Did he fall and hit his head?

He called off Lysette’s engagement because he claimed he had fostered true love with Meldiana, and now he’s changed his mind once more.

The intention is obvious. He thinks that Lysette, with whom he broke off an engagement, has become a true saint, and he wants to marry her to strengthen his position.

But Lysette isn’t interested in that future.

“I already have someone I love.”

Lysette reaches out and grabs Leonhardt’s arm, who is standing next to her.

“L-Lysette?”

Lysette smiles at Leonhardt, who is surprised.

“Let’s go, Leon.”

“Lysette, please! I’d be ruined without you…”

Bern, the Duke-heir, gets down on his hands and knees on the ground and begs Lysette. His future was at stake, so he was desperate.

“You were the first to call it quits.”

“W-Well, that was unavoidable…”

“I love Lysette—I won’t give her to anyone. If you want to fight, I’ll fight.”

even though she knows it’s just a makeshift performance. Lysette’s cheeks heat up.

Leonhardt takes her hand in his and walks away.

If it is discovered that he broke off her engagement to the true Saint and attempted to marry the wrong Saint, he may not be the next Duke.

Lysette didn’t look around.

“Leon, thank you for pretending to be my lover.”

“? Y-Yes…”

Lysette comes to a halt just outside Norun.

“I’ve made a decision. I’m leaving the country for now. I’ll enjoy my freedom while thinking about the rest. So could you tell me what Leon is going to do now?”

She looked up into Leonhardt’s face, meeting his emerald-green eyes with her own. This showed how determined she was.

His eyes appeared to glisten with gold.

Lysette was smitten by the mysteriously beautiful glow.

“I, Lysette…”

“Yes.”

Lysette’s heartbeat quickens for some reason as she is stared at with a serious expression on his face.

“I…”

” …”

“I want… I want to live with you.”

“Leon…”

Lysette’s chest trembles with delight as she hears his response, and her cheeks flush.

Lysette tightly grips Leonhardt’s hand in both of hers.

“I’m so happy! I had the same thought!”

“Lysette rele—”

“I can’t believe you like my monster cuisine so much!”

“…Cuisine? Y-Yeah. That appeals to me as well, but…”

“With Leon, I think I’m going to be even better at it. If you like, will you keep eating my food?”

“O-Of course!”

Then there’s a sound in the shadows of something falling down.

Dee, who was supposed to be leaving, is now lying on the ground.

“What happened to you, Dee? You slipped down there.”

“No, no, it’s fine if you want to talk about slipping…”

“What are you talking about?”

“Nothing. Seriously, though…”

He got up angrily, brushed off the dust, and sighed loudly for some reason.

As he does so, two dwarfs come rattling out of town with a cart in tow.

“Kanatsuchi-san, Kanatoko-san! I’m relieved you’re both safe!”

“I’m not sure what you mean by safe! My goddess, we have to start from scratch…”

“Sigh.”

The dwarf brothers are both wearing the same expression.

Lysette has no idea which is which.

“Where are you going?”

“Hmm. I’ve heard there’s a new dungeon west of here. We’ll go there.”

“Another Dungeon…”

Lysette’s heart flutters at those words.

“A new dungeon, new monsters, new cuisine…”

“I have a bad feeling about this… Hey Leon, stop her.”

“I’ll do whatever Lysette wants.”

“This guy…”

Lysette vigorously pointed to the western sky.

“Let’s go, Leon, Dee.., on a new adventure!”

Advanced Chapters

KOFI-PATREON

𝐇𝐎𝐌𝐄


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