After completing our preparations and rested our bodies, we began heading towards the Crimson Volcano. We had to arrive at the back door before the monsters respawned. There were also many adventurers who were aiming for the marble room at the front of the dungeon as everyone wanted the honor and rare items from defeating the boss. At the same time, there were also rare and important items that could be obtained from the boss. This is a boss that I want to defeat no matter what.
[Let’s speed up the pace. We have plenty of time but that doesn’t mean that we won’t run into any trouble.] (Yuuya)
[Uhn. Let’s do our best!] (Luna)
[Yuuya-niisan worries too much. We’ve been here so often but we hadn’t run into any trouble yet.] (TIl)
[Til is too carefree. Cautiousness is needed as an adventurer.] (Phil)
Since the monsters which appeared beyond the marble room were stronger than the monsters before that, I was hoping that we could avoid expending unnecessary energy before then. Hence we had already designated and cleared a path that we would be using later. We continued to walk through the volcano cautiously as we finally arrived at the marbled room. Then, I let out a sigh as a loud voice echoed throughout the dungeon.
[ORAA. The first attempt belongs to us Crimson Hounds!]
[We have already reserved this spot several days ago. Hurry up and scram!]
The two men who had camped in tents for the past few days were threatening the other adventurers present as more and more of their men begin to arrive. They had a total of seven parties of four, a total of 28 people. Among them were the familiar faces we had encountered before, but they decided to leave us be as our destination was further ahead. There was no need for us to enter a skirmish here.
[Take a good look guys. This pitiful old man plans to beat us to the boss before it respawns.]
[He’s probably just being a hyena. While us first-rate are preoccupied with the boss, he’ll be busy chasing after the monsters and chests which spawn in the dungeon.]
[Ahh so pathetic. Is pride even a word now?]
[Their just too weak for that. That doesn’t exist. Hey girls, dump that trash and come over here. Hey boss, those are the girls I’m talking about.]
A man who seems to be their party leader steps out as i tried to read their levels. However, I couldn’t read a single one of their levels. At the very least, none of them were level 35. As expected of the clan who has been monopolising the large amount of boss experience.
[Gahahahhahahahaa. Not bad. I thought that you were just being desperate for a woman. But they are some fine women. This is special… One is a noble with a distinctive elegance.. There are two elves and a demihuman.. Regardless, all of them are fine women. We’re sure to make them cry out loud in bed. Us Crimson Hounds will always be open to you, I’m sure the three of you aren’t satisfied with such a pathetic old man.]
The members of the Crimson Hound burst out laughing as our legs continued forward without stopping, until their voices could no longer be heard.
[Everyone, let’s show them not with our words but with our actions. We will definitely get the boss.] (Yuuya)
[Uhn. We’ll win,] (Luna)
[Uhn uhn. Otherwise I won’t have the patience not to shoot arrows through their heads.] (Til)
I’m glad that they think of us as mere hyenas. Let’s be sure to bite a huge chunk into the boss.
We finally arrived at the hidden back door. We hadn’t entered a battle even once due to our preparations in the days before. After confirming the time with my watch, it was fifteen minutes until the monsters respawn. Everyone began to sweat from the pressure as we listened to the ticking of the watch. And then, the respawn finally happened. The entire dungeon trembled as monsters began to roar, the terrain began to shift as new treasure chests began to form. The most visible change was happening in front of our eyes as the door with the face of a dragon, the dragon’s eyes began to glow red as the door opened.
[Let’s go! From now on it’s a race!] (Yuuya)
[Those kind of people, we will never lose to them! Let’s go all out from the get-go!] (Til)
[So this is the labyrinth which leads to the boss.] (Phil)
[This.. Is pretty dangerous. We’ll have to be cautious.] (Selene)
The labyrinth which led to the boss room appeared in front of us. Although it was a labyrinth, it wasn’t an enclosed area surrounded by monsters, but rather a wide room with magma as far as the eye can see. Above the magma surface was a narrow path capable of fitting two or three people max, spreading into different branches and continuing into the distance. If you were to fall off the path, you’ll be diving straight into the magma. Meanwhile, monsters can be seen wandering around the path.
[Luna, once the path splits I’ll need you to sound off which path leads to more monsters.] (Yuuya)
[Uhn. Understood. To avoid the monsters right?] (Luna)
[The opposite. We’ll be heading directly towards them. The correct path will lead to the monsters whereas the other leads to a dead end.] (Yuuya)
It was a labyrinth made to prey on the idea that it’ll be better to avoid monsters to save your energy before the boss battle. However, this made it much easier to break through the maze once you knew the answer.
[Yuuya, there is a monster on the right, a Lizardman.] (Luna)
[I understand. In order to save our resources, I’ll do a special way of battle. Everyone avoid doing anything and watch.] (Yuuya)
Our foothold was small making it easy to fall into the magma, however it was an effective weapon at the same time. I began running towards my target who had a similar height with a one handed sword and shield in each hand. Compared to the normal Lizardman we encountered in the dungeon, this was a Crimson Lizardman who had improved stats and battle sense. Looking at the situation, there could be a more effective way to preserve my strength, but we lack the time to worry about it.
The Lizardman swung down its blade to intercept the blow, however rather than recoiling from the attack I continued to rush into its stomach and placed my palm onto its side, pushing it off the walkway. The Lizardman continued to fall into the magma and turned into blue particles.
[Just like this, the battle ends in a heartbeat. For the lighter monsters, we do not have to waste any arrows, or mana using our skills.] (Yuuya)
After confirming our surroundings, we continued to proceed deeper into the labyrinth.
[It’s become so much easier. Yuuya is smart.] (Luna)
[Yuuya-niisan. We could had done this so much earlier so why didn’t we?] (Til)
Til had asked a sensible question as it was a method which saved us quite a bit of energy.
[We wouldn’t be able to retrieve and item drops like this. This is a method we only resorted to if necessary.] (Yuuya)
Item drops was a precious source of income and we couldn’t afford to leave our battles without any reward. However, this was an exception as time is of the essence. Phil who was supposed to be in the back ran up next to me.
[Although that only depends on what was dropped. There are items that we can retrieve this way too.] (Phil)
In Phil’s hands was the leather of the Crimson Lizardman tied by Phil’s homemade magic thread. At the same time, there was also a special arrow with a thread pulling mechanism rather than an arrowhead. She must had fired the arrow as the Lizardman turned to blue particles and collected the item before it came in contact with the magma.
[I’ve forgotten that Phil was capable of such a thing. That was my bad.] (Yuuya)
[We have to be sure to earn as much as we can in this dungeon, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to live luxuriously and enjoy the delicious meat. Especially when you said that you wanted us to enjoy our journey to the fullest.] (Phil)
As expected of Phil, she was truly reliable in every way. Like this, we can easily push anything we encounter right into the magma without hesitation.
A gigantic golem appeared as it blocked the narrow walkway. It was a Grand Golem. Unlike the Magma Golem, it’s movements were dull. However, it’s large body was a nuisance as we couldn’t just knock it into the magma. Phil and Til concentrated their arrows into its lower abdomen where its core was as per my instructions. After being pierced by numerous arrows, it was time for our heavy hitter to finish it.
[Selene, it’s up to you.] (Yuuya)
[I will end it.] (Selene)
Selene began running towards the golem. Currently she was told by me to avoid using her Fortress which consumed a large amount of mana. However even without her skills she was a foe to be reckoned with. She blocked the attack from the golem’s large arm with her skill and continued running towards its core.
[Shield Bash!] (Selene)
Twisting her hip, Selene stuck out her shield as she simultaneously released her spike, piercing through the core and shattering it. As the golem collapsed, we quickly picked up the item drop, the Crimson stone and continued ahead.
[Yuuya-ojisama. Just how much further do we have to go? I’m beginning to get tired.] (Selene)
Just based on her voice, I could tell that fatigue was starting to build up. However, it wasn’t just Selene. Luna and Til were the same as it has already been an hour and a half since we entered the labyrinth. Furthermore there were starting to be more demons which couldn’t be pushed just like the golem.
[We’re about two thirds of the way through. The end can already be seen.] (Yuuya)
[That’s a relief.] (Selene)
Although we only had a third of the way left, I didn’t mention that it would be tougher here on out as even more powerful monsters were about to appear. I’ll have to be more active in the battles to lighten the load on the girls.
And then, it finally appeared. The converging point for the two entrances as two paths were meeting, forming a single long and wide line. The front entrance began on the southeast side of the labyrinth while the back door was on the south west. From here on, there is the possibility of meeting up with the Crimson Hounds.
[Luna, are there any enemies up ahead?] (Yuuya)
[Uhn. There is a target barely in range up ahead.] (Luna)
Depending on the monsters up ahead, it is unknown whether our lead in this race could be maintained. As we progress further ahead of the path, this wide road will once again return back to the narrow path once again.
[Yuuya. An enemy. Above us.] (Luna)
[Everyone be on your guard. It’s flame breath is dangerous.] (Yuuya)
Finally, the most dangerous monster in the labyrinth appeared, the Flame Wyvern. It was a small dragon which flew in the sky, however it was irritating to deal with as it often fired powerful fireballs from the sky.
Selene jumped in front of us, blocking a fireball with her shield. However, the wyvern immediately flew away as it fired a fireball. This was its main attack pattern making it difficult for an average magician or archer to land their attacks. Unfortunately for it, my party’s archers weren’t exactly average as Phil and Til shot their arrow sthrough its wings.
Against it’s will, the wyvern began falling towards us as a shadow interrupted its descend towards us.
Luna’s dagger, Bazerator pierced through its soft abdomen as the critical indicator rang through out the dungeon. The monster turned into blue particles as we immediately picked up its scale which dropped as an item. Although we managed to defeat it, it cost us some time.
Running ahead, we ran into a trio of Crimson Lizardmen which were difficult to deal with. Without missing a beat, I immediately ran into battle as I pushed one of them into the magma However, I felt a strong bloodlust as I felt a dull impact.
[Damn.. My~bad. I was trying to help you but wound up injuring you instead. Forgive me.]
[If that’s how you feel, then leave.] (Yuuya)
Turning back, it was the leader of the Crimson Hounds as they had managed to catch up while we were caught up in the battle.
[Gahahahaha. My bad. Now then, answer me. How did you get ahead of us when we should had blocked off the path here.]
[There isn’t a single adventurer who would give away his food for free.] (Yuuya)
[You’re mistaken. Even if you refuse, I will make you say it… You’re outmatched here however I won’t afford any troublesome things before the boss battle. You’re the ones that will be playing with them.]
The other members of the Crimson Hound began to lure the remaining two Lizardman towards us.
[You may have tried your best, however you were just a little short. At the end of the day, it was all for naught.]
Then, they continued forward as there were three parties, twelve of them travelling deeper into the dungeon. The remaining four pairs must have remained at the door, obstructing the other adventurers.
Phil and TIl fired their arrows towards the Lizardmens’ hearts as Luna rushed over.
[Yuuya, let’s hurry up and catch up!] (Luna)
[It’ll all be for naught if we were to catch up to them. The difference in numbers is too high. Furthermore, the other two party will just interfere with us once we arrive at the boss room. And if we overtake them, we’ll just be held up by the monsters again.] (Yuuya)
[What are you saying! Yuuya-niisan are you giving up?] (Til)
I began to smile as I whispered.
[You already know the answer to that. It’s impossible to overtake them at this point. However, at the end of the path there is a small chance to overtake them. Until them, let’s stay slightly further back away from there. Wouldn’t it be nice to have them deal with the monsters for us?] (Yuuya)
Being overtaken at this point is not necessarily a bad thing as there was only one clear answer to clearing this labyrinth safely. And that was by letting other people clear the path ahead. We continued to travel slightly behind them. For their battle movements, they had an effective plan as the two parties accompanying them cleared the monsters while the main party preserved their strength. Furthermore, the main party was equipped with the strongest possible equipment of the Water (Ice) element, raising their flame resistance to the maximum possible with money. That was likely the reason why they could defeat the boss as that many equipment isn’t readily available for anyone, not even an advanced level party. Although they were wary of us, it seems that they hadn’t noticed us yet.
And at the end of the day, when they are least expecting it, we will definitely overtake them and rush ahead of them. And from that point on, we will challenge the boss. Now, continue to fight for the boss as much as you wish however foolish it is. At the end of the day, we will emerge as the victor.