116. Chapter 116
Wedged between the armored sole and the ground, the skull creaked under the pressure and threatened to crack. As Walm shifted his weight, it finally hit its limit and shattered, scattering dirty-white fragments across the floor. Without paying attention to his feet, he squinted as he saw something crawling in the darkness. It was a skeleton that had lost its lower body and one of its arms. With its only remaining arm, it tried to walk toward Walm.
The skeleton wasn’t originally crawling on the ground. It was roaming with three others of the same kind. Those four skeletons met Walm and launched an assault on him, only to meet his anger. Three were destroyed and the last one was now approaching in such a pathetic state.
The bare phalanges caught the half-boots, but at the same time, the bottom part of the halberd pierced the skull and finished it completely.
“This floor sure takes a lot of time.”
According to the information Walm had received from the receptionist, there were only undead monsters on the 11th to 15th floors, creatures that had often been made enemies on the battlefield. After all, on battlefields, where life and death coexist, there was no shortage of corpses, and every time they were mishandled, they would always appear not long after.
The skeletons that Walm had smashed until just now would still be able to move, even if the cervical spine was severed, as long as the skull was safe. And even if part of the skull was damaged, in many cases, that wasn’t enough to forcibly stop them from moving.
Walm’s solution was simple. He’d crush the skull with the axe blade of the halberd, or incapacitate the limbs before delivering a final blow. Sure, it was a lot of work, but it didn’t take that long. Really, the problem wasn’t that.
“As expected, they all were drawn to me…”
Walm had experienced the fact that once a battle began in the labyrinth, monsters would gather around him, to the point that he was sick of them.
Up to the 10th floor, the population of labyrinth challengers was large, and so, monsters scattered for them, but after the 10th floor, the ratio was reversed. It wasn’t that there was nothing sweet to bring back, but it was simply because of the increasing degree of danger, so citizens, who only wanted to get their daily meals and only had a certain amount of confidence in their fighting skills, wouldn’t risk themselves, leaving only adventurers and labyrinth explorers from other countries.
Anyway, not long after the breaking of the bones, a strong putrid smell irritated the nostrils, and perhaps the sound of the broken bones was the reason that “they” emerged from the darkness one by one.
Ghoul… was a corpse whose skin was partially melted and decayed, and under which a dark brown color slowly appeared. And up to the middle of the face was rotten.
Such monsters with hollow eyeholes without eyelids faced Walm. As they stained the labyrinth with putrid juice, three of them ran toward Walm, stretching out their swollen arms as if thirsting for the living. Normally one would expect an undead to move slowly, but they were more agile than they looked.
The temporal region of the ghoul, which was literally jumping into Walm, was cut in half by a quick horizontal slash using a halberd. And just like that, it crashed into the wall of the labyrinth as it spun wildly.
Without hesitation, Walm thrust the halberd into the next approaching ghoul with a slight delay. A simple thrust without much power put in.
The ghoul’s throat was skewered, still, it didn’t stop moving forward. However, now all Walm had to do was hold the halberd on his waist and take a stance, then, it would naturally and irrevocably go into the axe blade, cutting itself.
The ghoul was letting out grunts and spitting out a foul stench. But, as expected it didn’t stop. Even its crooked teeth were still carving for Walm’s blood, trying to shred his flesh.
“You want me so bad huh?”
Walm twisted the handle of the halberd, rotating the axe blade that had penetrated the ghoul’s neck, twisting off its head.
Pulling back the outstretched halberd, he briefly repositioned it and took aim at the last ghoul.
The tip that entered from under the jaw violently closed the open, filthy mouth, breaking off the upper and lower teeth. It pierced the hard palate and reached the brain, just as Walm had intended.
Now, only an entire weight of the lifeless ghoul hung on the spearhead of the halberd. And when Walm knocked over the halberd, it slipped out of the blade that had bitten into it and quietly fell silently to the ground.
Fortunately, Walm wasn’t bathed in putrid liquid, no, it didn’t even reach his body at all, but there was nothing he could do to stop the smell from spreading.
But unfortunately, the halberd he had been using to fight had some of that filthy liquid on it, and it felt like it had been thoroughly contaminated. Every time Walm swung the halberd back and forth a few times, reddish-brown liquid flew around.
The undead floors were unpopular, perhaps because of their danger, as well as the stench and creepiness of the monsters.
Walm was alone, and he only used the halberd to kill the ghoul. If he was in a party and some members used blunt weapons or magic to fight, he would inevitably be bathed in smelly blood, and ghouls defeated by the allies might also spread foul fluids to him.
Good or bad, Walm’s sense of smell was dulling down. If he didn’t keep his alertness, he might get distracted by the smell. It might be fine here, but by the time he reached the safe room on the end of the 15th floor or was back to the surface, he would have a hard time completely avoiding the silent frustration that the labyrinth challengers would give him.
The deeper Walm advanced, the more corpses piled up. Occasionally, traces of battle remained, and although adventurers and Walm passed each other, there was no interference. They merely glanced at each other before moving away from each other as a matter of course. After all, that was supposed to be the etiquette in the labyrinth.
Through the same unchanging passageway, Walm entered a large room, of which there should be only a few in the labyrinth. By Walm’s rule of thumb, this was usually a gathering place for monsters, with coins and old weapons scattered about, but this time was different.
“Is this all of them for today’s welcome party?”
Two ghouls and two undead wolves, even though their blood shouldn’t be circulating properly anymore, stood there with a foul stench and a voice leaking out.
In the middle of them stood a monster that seemed to be the leader of this group.
“?? What kind of monster is that?”
The unidentified monster was also undead, and there was no doubt that it belonged to the species of skeletons, but its shape was alien to Walm’s eyes. It had horns wrapped around its human head. And its left arm was a rib-like shield with a wolf’s skull at the tip. Its right hand was shaped like a lance made by three intertwined spines. The lower half of its body was also unfathomably thick for a skeleton that couldn’t be said a weak point anymore. Above all, the color of the bones was strongly reminiscent of the bone weapons he’d seen in the equipment shop, and also of the Greenhorn’s weapon.
As he looked at it, Walm searched his memory, and the explanation of the undead floors he received from the female receptionist came to mind.
He remembered she had said that sometimes a rare species might appear. Sure it had a low appearance rate, but the rare monster was strong enough to make a party that should have no problem reaching the 15th floor, rather choose to escape than fight it.
” ‘Bone Collector’ huh?”
Walm, who mentioned the name of a rare species that was a mixture of multiple skeletons and dark slimes, tried to turn back the way he had come, but he was too late. Without any warning, the five charged toward Walm at the same time, as if they had colluded beforehand. Even the four which were supposed to be normal species were remarkably faster than usual.
Abandoning the option of routing, the gears of his brain were switched to fight mode. Walm didn’t have the guts to save his cards against an unknown opponent. In order to overturn the numerical disadvantage, the first move was more important than anything else, and more firepower than just a normal attack would be a better move. So he shot the mana that he had kneaded in an instant and sent the manifested fireball toward the undead.
The flame, which fully demonstrated its effectiveness, shook the air and scorched the surroundings.
Not only that, but the two ghouls, unable to dodge, scattered their entire bodies in explosive flames, turning them into torches that lit up the room. Still, it wasn’t what Walm wanted.
The two undead wolves and the Bone Collector managed to slip through the explosive flames with their leg strength.
Unlike the bone collector who was positioned in front, the two undead wolves changed their position from side to back, as if they wanted to check the blind spot and disperse the concentration. It was amazing that so much intelligence came from a head that had been reduced to bone and hollowed out. Really, how could they think of such movements?
In any case, Walm wasn’t so stupid as to just sit and wait in front of the approaching crisis.
Looking at the development on the left and right, the chance of easily defeating each one of them had increased. Of course, it would be the Bone Collector’s job to prevent it, but still, Walm possessed the ability to do it.
The speed of the undead wolf on one side, which hind legs should have been scorched as it passed through the explosive flames, was slowing down.
As Walm kicked the ground sideways and gained acceleration from wind attribute magic, he closed the gap in one fell swoop. The undead wolf seemed to have sensed that it might be the end for them and quickly turned around on the spot, but the axe blade of the halberd crushed the skull faster before it could dodge.
Without even having time to get drunk with a sense of accomplishment, Walm drew a half-turn with his body using his left foot as the pivoting.
At the same time, the Bone Collector had already thrust the black lance toward him.
Reading the trajectory approaching his chest, Walm pushed the handle of the halberd up and deflected the trajectory upward.
Just like that, the bone lance passed through the side of his head.
Quickly Walm bent down and tried to get past the Bone Collector’s left flank. But, its shield-like left arm was thrust out trying to block. Even so, it wasn’t fast enough to catch him. It should be the case.
However, the wolf’s skull, which Walm thought to be nothing more than just a bad shield ornament, opened its jaws and tried to bite off his shoulder.
Trying to get some distance, Walm jumped backward, but was pursued by a lance. Quickly thrusting the halberd as if to oppose it, the hardened bone spear and the halberd clashed and continued to repel each other.
But it didn’t last long.
While continuing the exchange of offense and defense, the undead wolf aimed at Walm’s ankle.
“You’re in the way.”
Walm pushed back the Bone Collector along with the lance, and immediately pulled his halberd back, prepared the halberd around his torso, pouring mana and swinging it up. The undead wolf that was scooped up by his 《Strike》 was cut from the tip of the nose, and the corpse slid vigorously on the floor. The unstoppable 《Strike》 also slashed the lance that Bone Collector slammed overhead.
Quickly, Walm flipped his wrists back and slammed his halberd as if chopping wood.
The Bone Collector tried to defend with the rib-like shield, but the shield was cut through. The axe blade of the halberd bit into the right shoulder and came out from the left hip. The upper body slid down, and the lower body fell after a short delay.
Walm checked the body of the Bone Collector with his numb fingers. What he felt wasn’t that of bone, but something as hard as iron armor. If it wasn’t for 《Strike》, he wouldn’t have been able to cut the Bone Collector so cleanly.
In fact, the Bone Collector attempted a final resistance with the rib-like shield, but Walm knocked down his halberd with a skill. That was why he won the match. Otherwise, a different ending might have happened there.
“I was forced to use magic, and even skill…”
Although the Bone Collector was clearly a monster on a different level compared to the rest of those on this floor, the consumption of mana on the 13th floor was a miscalculation even for Walm. Truly, a painful reality that he must accept.
Walm, who shifted from unnecessary thought, crouched down to rummage around and found a faint glow reflecting the light of the luminous moss in the soot-black bone fragments. He then moved the fragments away with a dagger.
“A large gold coin? At the very least, I’m able to avoid a complete loss.”
Sure, Walm had enough gold coins to feed a few people for a year, still, he couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief for getting something out of killing the troublesome Bone Collector.
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