134. Chapter 134
The 36th floor of the Great Labyrinth of Belgana was a step down that even the dwarves wouldn’t enter easily. As if rejecting people, there was a solemn silence on this deep floor. Only soft breathing and the sound of footsteps stomping irregularly on the stone pavement reached Walm’s eardrums.
Walm let his gaze slide from the darkness spreading beyond the passage to his feet, the walls, and the ceiling. And then he finally glanced at Hari, who was walking ahead of him, to see if anything was out of the ordinary.
Behind Walm were the party members Yuna, Marianthe, and Merrill, who were in charge of his back. Walm’s role in the formation was to assist Hari, who was a little further forward. In short, his role was that of a link between the front and the back, so he had to act flexibly.
Compared to the passages up until now, the 36th floor was unnecessarily wide in both height and width. Even if the Cyclopes walked side by side, they could move comfortably. This meant that three-dimensional vigilance was needed more than ever before.
Hari raised his fist as they solemnly stepped further into the depths of the Labyrinth. At the warning hand signal, the others suddenly stopped and held their breath. Although it was faint, Walm’s ears heard the sound similar to when a Temari, a Japanese highly elastic handball, bounced around. Of course, there were no small children playing around in the Labyrinth.
The dull sound grew louder and louder, as if to indicate the direction it was going. Right, the sound was coming toward the party.
“We’ve been completely detected. Ready for battle, here they come.”
Judging that a battle was inevitable. Merrill, the leader of the party, issued a clear order.
Hearing it, everyone caught their breath and began to prepare. Walm prepared his magic, and Yuna attached an arrow to the string.
Seven monsters approached with a speed as if they were flying.
“Three Chimeras, four Cerberus.”
Hari reported the type of monsters that were approaching.
Walm, who had battle experience with Silver Wolves and Orthrus, compared them to Cerberus. Clearly, the three-headed wolf was clearly larger. The difference was like between a young and an adult wolf.
The Chimera was one size larger than the Cerberus. The head of a lion had the lower body of a goat, and a large snake grew from the tip of its tailbone. Such a horde of grotesques furiously charged at the party.
Walm shot the manifested fireball into the center of the flock. Although the seven had nimble legs, there wasn’t enough time to dodge the fire.
If some were injured, the fight would even end in the party’s favor. That was Walm’s intention, but the three chimeras puffed out their cheeks and spat out flames. Blue and crimson mixed like a pretty firework, although any normal human caught by it would be burned fast.
The passage, where darkness had reigned before, was lit up by flames, and the monsters’ appearance became clear.
“The fire has been offset! They’re coming from the left and right!!!”
Walm, whose fireball was stopped by flames, warned his companions.
Dodging the spreading wave of flames, the monsters split left and right.
“Walm, Yuna, that side is yours.”
Merrill joined Marianthe and Hari in the battle against a Chimera and four Cerberus. The wind-attribute magic Merrill shot made the fire dance even crazier.
The other two Chimeras were conspicuously given to Walm and Yuna. Merrill’s side had to deal with even more monsters. There was nothing to complain about.
Arrows sprung from the taut strings and passed through waves of fire to reach the Chimera’s body.
The Chimera shook its body, and the arrowhead that should have pierced its skin fell to the ground with a slight tremor.
Yuna leaked words in frustration. Distance might be a factor, but the density of heavy muscle and bone and the dense magical barrier that stretched around the body were the real culprits. Even the flame didn’t hurt it at all. Unfortunately, it seemed that the Chimera had a fire attribute, the same as Walm.
“HERE, YOU DEFECTIVE CREATURE!!”
In a loud voice from his belly, Walm challenged the monster. Perhaps because of his elegant choice of words, the Chimera lunged at Walm, who held a halberd in his hand.
Walm slammed the halberd down with the right timing, but the chimera’s rear leg muscles quickly tensed and let go. Right, the Chimera jumped to the side to avoid the halberd’s blow.
Walm followed the “synthetic beast” moving to the side with his eyes.
“Walm, it’s going over there.”
Another Chimera that was facing Yuna, had shifted its aim to Walm. Turning around, the fired arrows hit its thigh and hip joint, but it aimed its drooling jaws at Walm as if the arrows were a trifle, and tried to bite his windpipe.
” <Burst> !!”
After kicking the ground, Walm used wind attribute magic and accelerated his body with a punch. And the lion’s jaws bit nothing but air.
Walm escaped considering the distance that could be reached with its giant body, but the giant snake that grew from the tail read his course and thrust its poisonous fangs at him.
The body of the snake’s head, hit hard by the bottom of the halberd, writhed and sprayed venom into the void. But before Walm could catch his breath, the Chimera turned around Walm, trying to strike his head with its claws.
Any resistance was futile.
Hardening his resolve, Walm fixed the bottom of the halberd to the ground and hardened his stance. The shock came immediately. He continued to hold the handle against the force that made his arm creak. The blade, digging into the Chimera’s forearm bone, severed the bone and tore the flesh.
Walm kicked up the bottom part of the halberd with his heel to the side. Then he twisted it with all the strength his whole body could muster.
The Chimera’s half-cut arm couldn’t stand it, and its muscle fibers cracked. At the same time as the torn arm fell on the cobblestones, the chimera let out an unpleasant scream.
It hurts a lot, doesn’t it?
Walm found satisfaction in that scream. Shamefully, considering the other Chimera, he couldn’t just give his attention to one for that long.
Walm slashed the remaining arm with a claw-shaped blade of the halberd. It wasn’t enough to sever the arm, but it was certainly effective enough to slow the Chimera’s movement.
Walm then quickly moved away from the writhing chimera and focused on the other synthetic beast.
Even in a weakened state, Chimeras strangely still had enough combat power. Whether a claw, an irregular fang, or the snake’s poisonous fang. There were still many possibilities for an attack. If one were to take it straight, the situation would tip in one fell swoop. Since Walm had experienced this firsthand, he prepared himself for dealing with another one.
The onrushing Chimera inflated its throat and spat out flames as if it were vomiting. Walm pulled up the corners of his mouth and thought how brave it was to challenge him with fire. The demon mask in his waist bag frolicked like an impatient toddler waiting for an attraction. Unusually, Walm agreed to give a performance and jumped into the flames without hesitation.
From the side, it was a moderately strong fire, but for Walm, who had been wrapped in 《Demon Fire》 before, it was still lukewarm.
The Chimera with its mouth wide open sensed something unusual, but it was already too late.
The spearhead tore open the soft palate and reached the brain. Walm quickly moved the halberd he carried on his hip left, right, back, and forth to gently agitated the brain.
Sensing the torn magical barrier, Walm pulled out the halberd, which had done its job, as he bathed in the soothing flames that slowly died.
Strangely but as expected, the Chimera still hadn’t completely stopped moving. Although the lion’s eyes had lost their vitality, the giant snake that grew from its tail straightened up and stared at Walm.
“Snakehead, you too?”
Walm deflected his upper body and dodged the horizontally extended claw while thinking that he had to get rid of the snake’s head as well.
The Chimera kept charging, taking advantage of the difference in physique, but its movements were slower than before.
Given the sluggish movement, Walm was convinced that the giant snake was taking the role of an auxiliary brain and was apparently not used to taking the initiative in the body.
The Chimera didn’t move as precisely as when controlled by the lion head, but still, its physical strength wasn’t to be underestimated.
Walm hesitated whether to take care of the half-dead synthetic beast in front of him first or the remaining Chimera, but Yuna’s words helped him make a quick decision.
“Finish it, I’ll buy you time.”
Yuna shot arrow after arrow as she ran toward the Chimera without a functioning arm. The aim was exactly what she said it was. To buy time. The joints of the Chimera’s limbs were like a standing target in her eyes. Of course, Yuna’s chances of hitting them were high. Walm trusted her and turned back to unfinished business.
The synthetic beast swung its limbs like crazy because it couldn’t catch Walm. As he followed the erratic dance pattern, he timed his halberd. Its shoulders were stripped of flesh, the axe-blade of the halberd dug into its knees, and the spearhead scraped some of its flanks. Feeling unbearable, the claws were swung down, but Walm anticipated the trajectory and slashed his halberd up.
Without much effort, Walm sliced off the wrist. Well, the opportunity was created by the synthetic beast itself. Lacking a forearm, the chimera swung under its own weight. With the unfamiliar three legs, it was impossible to stop Walm. And seeing the good timing, Walm approached the snake head.
The snake spat out venom desperately with its mouth wide open, but the flames that were created in an instant protected Walm. The poison that was to touch him evaporated.
No more blockage.
Like a Shinigami (Reaper) wielding a scythe, Walm cut off the snake’s head with the claw-shaped blade of the halberd.
The synthetic beast’s gigantic body trembled, stopped moving, and crashed to the ground. The severed head of the snake emitted an ominous noise that sounded like a squeak, but was silenced by Walm.
Immediately Walm went to Yuna’s side.
Yuna was holding the bow with one hand and slashing her short sword with the other hand.
Surprisingly, the snake that grew from the tail was cut off and carefully stabbed to end its life.
When Walm saw this scene, he remembered that Yuna boasted of being strong in close combat. In other parties, she could even serve as a vanguard.
Walm crept up from his blind spot and struck with the halberd he had positioned above his head. The 《Strike》 severed its shoulder from its spine in one fell swoop. The Chimera’s posture was disturbed as it lost control of its lower body. Still, it hadn’t died. Walm couldn’t help but be impressed by its tenacity.
However, the resistance lasted only a short time as Yuna plunged her short sword into the lion’s eye socket. The blade penetrating the roots became the deciding factor, and eventually, the Chimera was completely obliterated.
Not many words were needed. Both made their way to the next target, where lively attacks and defenses were still underway.
Cerberus, which had been pierced by an icicle and passed out midair, jumped into Walm’s field of vision. It was like an avant-garde work of art that was difficult for ordinary people to understand.
Another Cerberus, with its head crushed as if it had been hit like a mole in whack-a-mole, stood in the corridor that had been turned into an exhibition hall.
Another Cerberus bared the cross section of the neck, as if it didn’t want to lose in the appreciation battle. It conveyed in detail the methods and tools used by the master to create this art.
Only two materials hadn’t yet been fully processed. Both had already gone through the preparation. At least Yuna and Walm managed to arrive at the right time to complete the work.
When Walm, who had rushed over, raised his head, Marianthe signaled him with her gaze.
Marianthe, who had correctly understood the intention, raised the mace and restricted Cerberus’ course. Thus Walm was able to hit Cerberus safely. One of its heads was missing, and part of its forearm had been twisted like a dead tree. With the remaining two heads, the Cerberus noticed Walm’s approach and barked.
Using his stepped leg as an axis, Walm slashed his halberd at the Cerberus. The horizontally slashed axe blade sliced under both jaws. Just with that, the heads rolled to the ground and the body stopped moving.
The last remaining Chimera had already fallen silent. There was no way to withstand the onslaught of Merrill, Hari, and Yuna. The three of them knew each other’s methods well. Of course, their teamwork was better than if one of them formed a duo with Walm. Even though no one said anything or signaled with their eyes, their bodies moved naturally, choosing the best move that got the most out of each other.
The feast that suddenly began ended with the departure of the organizer. The party members gathered under Walm, who explored the surroundings.
“No more monsters?”
“Seems no. It’s very quiet.”
With the approval of Merrill, who was sensitive to signs, Walm finally exhaled in relief.
“Is anyone hurt?”
Walm examined the appearance of the three. There was some dirt on the skin, but there were no injuries. Still, optimism was a no-no, so he asked. After all, Walm, who wasn’t a healing magician, couldn’t judge whether there was internal bleeding.
“Nope, nothing, in particular.”
“Me too… Only, if I’m to say something about the fight, I think the most dangerous moment was when Walm jumped into the flames.”
“Did you see it?”
Embarrassment hit Walm. He felt as if he had been seen playing a prank.
“Since Yuna screamed, she definitely saw it.”
“Seriously, if you are planning on doing acrobatics, could you tell us in advance? It’s bad for our hearts, you know.”
Walm, who was scolded by Merrill and Marianthe, honestly admitted his fault.
“That’s… my bad. I didn’t think that you all, don’t like fire diving performances.”
“Who hates to see an exciting performance? No one. So don’t worry, next time, I’d like you to properly show it to us.”
Walm, who had lost his escape, shrugged. After all, he was in this party. He might have to do it for real.
Marianthe ended the talk as everyone seemed to want to continue having a leisurely conversation.
“Alright, let’s stop it here for now.”
“Even though the number of monsters appearing was said to be less after the 36th floor, you’re right, seems we’ve talked too much.”
“You got that information from drunken dwarves with alcohol, didn’t you?”
Marianthe shook her head with a suspicious look. Sure, eliciting information from the dwarves with alcohol might have been cheap. It was quite easy to make them say, “Ah…”, after they got sober. However, even if they didn’t look like a bunch of liars, to what extent could a drunken dwarf’s story be believed? That would depend on the person.
“Even if the number of monsters appearing is really less than on previous floors, it’s still an exciting place.”
The Chimera, which possessed both nimbleness and toughness, didn’t die easily and also could spit out flames and poison. Such monsters wandered around in groups. Considering this, Walm could understand that the number of adventurers who wanted to conquer the Labyrinth wasn’t that many.
“Are you scared? Want to turn back?”
Walm defied providence, said he wanted to heal his rotting eyes, and acted for it. If he raised the white flag at this level, there was no way he would ever reach the place where the so-called crimson grass, one of the Three Hidden Treasures of Healing, was supposed to bloom. Fortunately, there were five strange people who were striving down with him.
Walm looked each of them in the eye, one by one, and said,
“Finally, we’re starting to see the bottom. It’s too late to go back now that the five of us have come this far.”
Merrill nodded in satisfaction at Walm’s words.
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