After this and that, the 11 hour exploration ended.
In the end, Rifreya and I just followed behind without fighting.
Depending on the viewer count, I was thinking about stealthily withdrawing, but the fighting visage of a high ranked explorer is not something you see often. The viewers are not only not decreasing, they are continuously going up, so I decided to stay put in the end.
The expert teamwork of the Crimson Vials; the heavy equipment of the Sneeze of the Goddess that pushed the monsters and wiped them out had quite the visual impact. This was probably interesting for the viewers too.
…My battle style revolves around hiding in the darkness, so in terms of visuals, it is super plain.
It is a shame that the Demon Lord didn’t show up, but thinking about the remaining days, you could say that we managed to shift the climax closer to the last day.
It is not a bad situation.
The team for the rotation had come, and they took over the exploration of the 3rd Floor.
All the 40 people of the first half pulled out, and we will be diving again tomorrow after properly resting. Finally the 4th Floor tomorrow.
The second half team isn’t going down the floor and continuing the exploration of the 3rd Floor.
According to Gloria-san, it is the rules, so they explore the 3rd Floor as well, but the Demon Lord is probably still on the 5th Floor or beginning to go up to the 4th Floor.
It would be bad to have it go up, so wouldn’t it be risky to have it go up? Is the heavy question I tried asking, but rather than defeating the Demon Lord in the 5th Floor that even regular monsters are strong, having it go up to the 4th Floor would have less dangers.
It is true that, even if the objective is to defeat the Demon Lord, there will be normal monsters around too, so this might be the natural option to take.
The second half team will continue the exploration of the 3rd Floor, but their main objective is to make sure the Demon Lord hasn’t gone up to the 3rd Floor, and most are silver rank.
The duty of defeating the Demon Lord is taken by the first half team.
And in reality, compared to the mithril rank and gold rank comprising half of the first half team, the second half team’s equipment is normal and feels unreliable.
“What do they do if the second half team finds the Demon Lord?” (Hikaru)
“They call the first half team while holding it off in the stairs of the floor. Today we will also be staying in the inn that the guild prepared.” (Rifreya)
“In that case, the second half team is undertaking a bigger risk. I don’t think holding it back is so easy.” (Hikaru)
“Well, that’s true, but there’s barely any past cases where the second half team has encountered the Demon Lord. Garnet-san and the others have also gotten a preview of the 4th Floor. There rarely is a chance for it to come up as long as there’s no extraordinary circumstances.” (Rifreya)
“I see.” (Hikaru)
In other words, the ecology of Demon Lords has been mostly clarified, and the second half team is mostly there for insurance.
There’s apparently Demon Lords who are in forms that are difficult to find, so a 24 hour system was taken, but before that, it was all done in 12 hours of exploration.
Whichever the case, what I will be doing has been settled since the beginning.
“…Sorry, Rifreya, I will be staying.” (Hikaru)
I stopped in front of the stairs to the 2nd Floor and told her that.
“Eh? But…” (Rifreya)
“I don’t plan on leaving the dungeon until the Demon Lord shows up. I will be mixing in with the 2nd group, so you can go back, Rifreya.” (Hikaru)
There’s 3 days left. I can’t get indolent here in order to get 1st place. There’s time zones, so no matter the timing, it is golden time somewhere on Earth.
If at the time when the Demon Lord appears I am absent, I wouldn’t be able to regret it enough.
It has been around 40 days since the isekai transfer.
According to Alex, there has been no Chosen who has encountered a Demon Lord.
No, there simply might not have been a subjugation record of it, but there could have been someone who has encountered one…
Whichever the case, viewers will definitely increase. I still haven’t gotten 1st place in the Total Rankings. I don’t have any leisure time. It is for this that I took my sweet time sleeping yesterday.
I am participating solely as the porter of Rifreya, so there’s the chance I will trouble her if I act so selfishly, but even with that, I can’t pull back here.
If I exchange Crystals for stamina potions, there will be no issues with me acting without sleeping for a certain degree. Fortunately, I have a decent amount of saved up Crystals from the time I was shut-in.
“Then, I will stay here too. I am still your party member after all.” (Rifreya)
“No buts. We are still a party…right? Also…it is actually normal to camp when in the dungeon. It is just that you are abnormal, Hikaru.” (Rifreya)
Rifreya said this after a bit of deliberation.
I thought she would say that. It is not like I proposed this in hopes she would say that, but she is kind, and I know from our short time together that she is a person with a caring personality.
“You don’t really have to keep me company, you know? This is just me being selfish here.” (Hikaru)
“There will be an evaluation in the Demon Lord subjugation, and there’s quite the reward for meritorious deeds. There’s a special reward for the ones that find it.” (Rifreya)
Rifreya answers like that, most likely to be considerate.
“I see… Thanks, Rifreya. You are a great help.” (Hikaru)
After that, Rifreya told Garnet-san the circumstances, and got permission to stay behind.
Explorers are -in the end- just a haphazard mix of people like yakuzas.
We are not corporate employees, and it is not like we are tied up by rules that much.
Not participating isn’t forgiven, but aside from that, they are pretty tolerant.
“Want to mix into the group of the second half and hunt in the 3rd Floor?” (Rifreya)
“No, Full’s not here, so let’s rest at the stairs.” (Hikaru)
I probably can’t expect much increase in viewership from fighting anymore. Even so, if it had just been me going down to the 4th Floor or fighting in the 3rd, it would have been fine, but with Rifreya, I can’t push it.
Let’s act with the battle against the Demon Lord as the highest priority.
“Then, let’s go back. We are resting in the stairs connecting the 3rd and 2nd Floor, right?” (Rifreya)
“No, let’s go for the one connecting to the 4th Floor. If it is there, we will be the first ones to notice if the Demon Lord goes up… No, I am ‘that’, so maybe I would attract the Demon Lord?” (Hikaru)
“Even a Great Spirit-sama needs a decent distance in order to detect a Loved One, so I think it will be okay.” (Rifreya)
Great Spirits detect Loved Ones within 100 meters.
It is not like I confirmed by actually doing a cat-and-mouse with them, but Rifreya asked a priest of the church, so it should be correct.
By the way, the stairs from the 3rd to the 4th Floor easily go over 100 meters. The chances are low that the Demon Lord would come up for me if it is far down in the floors.
…No, that development is right up my alley.
I am here to fight the Demon Lord.
- Chapter 094: Thunder Fang and the Two Alone at the Stairs
Rifreya and I had moved to the stairs leading to the 4th Floor.
Even if there’s a lot of parties exploring the Straying Big Mist Garden, we rarely bump into any other explorers.
There’s the simple reason of the dungeon being vast, but most of the reason why is because of the dense mist. According to one theory, this mist makes explorers not meet with other explorers by unconsciously leading them to other directions. Well, there’s barely any backing to this, but we are talking about a mysterious space like a dungeon, so there might be stuff like that.
The reality is that we didn’t encounter any party on our way to the stairs.
They apparently have one party as lookouts in front of the stairs, and in the off-chance that the Demon Lord comes up, that party would blow the hunting horn.
Well, whichever the case, there’s almost no chance the Demon Lord will be showing up today though.
“Ah, we will be serving as lookouts here as well. Pleasure to work with you.” (Hikaru)
There’s always a party in charge of watching the stairs to the 4th Floor.
I say lookouts, but it is not like there’s anything to do until the Demon Lord shows up.
There’s almost no monsters around the stairs, and it is not like there’s smartphones to kill time here.
And in reality, the explorer party of 3 were playing a card game.
“Yeah, pleased to work wi—wait, ain’t that Hikaru!”
One of the explorers turned here, and it was the Canadian handsome man, Alex.
“Eh? You didn’t go back, Alex?” (Hikaru)
“Right back at you. But…I get ya. There’s no way we can miss an interesting event like a Demon Lord subjugation, right?” (Alex)
Mine is to get 1st place in the Viewer Count Race, but it seems Alex stayed here simply because it is amusing. I even feel jealous that he is actually enjoying the isekai life.
“Hikaru, you had acquaintances amongst the explorers?” (Rifreya)
Rifreya showed her face from my back, and Alex and his party all went ‘a’ ‘i’ ‘u’ and froze.
“I am in a party with Hikaru, my name is Rifreya Ashbird. Nice to meet you.” (Rifreya)
Rifreya introduces herself in a polite manner.
She lowered her head, and her silky platinum blonde hair flowed down. There was a mysterious charm to it.
“I-I-I am Jack Alexander Fox! Please call me Alex, or Jack, or whatever you wish!” (Alex)
“I-I am Crabbell! Silver Rank explorer!” (Crabbell)
“S-Same here! Name’s Jo-Jordan!” (Jordan)
Alex and his party begin introducing themselves while stammering to the point that it made me wonder if they would bite their tongues. Was the last one Jordan, or Jojordan?
By the way, Crabbell has red curly hair and a two-handed sword.
Jojordan has blue hair with his face being like that of a young nobleman, and he is fat. His equipment is lightweight, so he must be a Spirit User.
“I-If you would like, want to play c-cards with us?! It is the cards that Alex made, and it is pretty fun…!”
Judging from the lining of the cards, they seem to be playing poker.
Or more like, that Alex, to even declare that he was the one who created them. Those are some nerves. Well, for stuff like this, the faster one wins though.
I look at the face of Rifreya.
It is not like I am against playing cards with them. It is better to do something than nothing when it comes to getting viewers.
But it doesn’t look like Rifreya is into this at all.
“Sorry. I want to be alone with him.” (Rifreya)
Rifreya took my hand gently, and pulled me immediately down to the stairs.
When I look back, I could see the 3 standing there dumbfounded, and it was a strangely distinctive sight.
“I guess it should be fine around here.” (Rifreya)
After going down the stairs for a while, Rifreya stopped in place.
“What’s the matter? Those guys were dumbfounded, you know?” (Hikaru)
“Cause you know, those people look at me with weird eyes.” (Rifreya)
“Hm, well, that might be true.” (Hikaru)
“It is true.” (Rifreya)
My little sisters would often be seen with ‘weird eyes’, so I can somewhat understand.
Gazes of interest. Even if the person themself has no ill-intent, it just feels uncomfortable.
Rifreya is beautiful, so it is not like I don’t understand why they can’t help getting that kind of reaction.
“Well, men just can’t help it. It is not like they are bad guys.” (Hikaru)
“I understand that. Also…it is true that I wanted to be alone with you.” (Rifreya)
Saying this, she prompts me to sit.
The 3rd Floor stairs are the same as the garden ones, made from chamfered stone, so it didn’t feel bad sitting on them.
But the cold wind of the 4th Floor reached all the way here. My skin was somewhat cold.
“Rifreya, if you get sleepy, it is okay to go to sleep. I will keep watch.” (Hikaru)
“No way I would feel sleepy yet.” (Rifreya)
Normal monsters don’t get close to the stairs that much.
But being careless can be our downfall, and it seems like it is 100% certain. There are rare instances where monsters would go up or down.
And so, having both of us sleeping would be suicidal.
Of course, there’s also the chance that the Demon Lord would come up.
A space where silence reigns.
The sound of the waterfall in the 4th Floor and the voices of Alex right above us don’t reach here.
“Aah, but here, if the Demon Lord is in the 3rd Floor, we might not notice.” (Rifreya)
“No, I don’t think it is in the 3rd Floor yet. I can feel a dangerous presence from below after all.” (Hikaru)
“You can feel it…? The presence of the Demon Lord?” (Rifreya)
“Just a feeling. The feel of the Spirits is, how to say it…different.” (Hikaru)
“Loved Ones are impressive…” (Rifreya)
This is a feeling that I acquired after arriving in this world and running the whole way in the forest with my life right in my throat.
Beings that have dense spirit energy…be it a living being or a monster, I can somewhat tell they are there.
Of course, it is in most part because of the Affection of Spirits, but this is one of the few special skills that I have obtained.
“Then, even if the Demon Lord comes up, we would be able to tell.” (Rifreya)
“Not for certain, but I think I would be able to tell if it is a strong one.” (Hikaru)
“I will be counting on you then~.” (Rifreya)
It is true that the stronger the being is -like Demon Lords- the easier it is for me to sense them.
I had that baseless confidence.
Even so, the Demon Lord doesn’t seem to be near.
It would be better to rest our bodies in preparation for the battle ahead.
However…there’s something I have to tell her.