The Panther jumps onto the Phantom Warrior.
It sprang forth with its elastic muscles, and its motion to bite off its throat was like a released arrow.
If it hadn’t been a phantom made from darkness, they would have died in one hit. What fearsome instantaneous force, what threatening speed.
If it were to aim for you at close range, even if you understand that it is coming straight in front of you, there’s no doubt you wouldn’t be able to avoid it. And if you get bitten by it, it is The End.
So that means the title of strongest monster of the 3rd Floor is deserved, huh.
If the Mantis that’s the strongest of the 2nd Floor is a 4th Floor level monster, this might be a 5th Floor level monster.
Just in case, I bring out a Lizardman Chaos Spirit Stone from the Shadow Storage.
At worst, I will need to use Create Undead.
It is clear that the Garden Panther is stronger than the Lizardman.
The Panther is solely showing caution to Rifreya who is getting closer to it, and the Phantom Warrior that’s showing motions to attack the whole time, and it is taking distance while growling at them.
Unfortunately, it looks like the Night Bugs are barely working.
So that means the attacks of small bugs are not that effective against a giant body like that, huh.
But it seems like the Phantom Warrior is working well in diverting its attention, so it looks like it hasn’t noticed me approaching it by hiding in the shadows.
I close the distance in one go, and spread the range of the darkness.
The surroundings get ruled by darkness in an instant.
The Panther that was swallowed into the darkness had its body twitch slightly, but it growled and regained its calm immediately, strengthening its caution of its surroundings.
…And then, it looked at me.
The eyes of the Panther shone fiercely, and were looking straight at me.
Its row of fangs were shining threateningly even inside the darkness.
It definitely can see me!
I see, cats are nocturnal. I completely forgot that.
Or more like, does that mean the cats here have the same traits as the ones in our world? Even though the totally catfolk Grapefull can’t see in the Darkness Fog at all!
The darkness of the fog is true darkness with no light in it.
Even if it is a cat beast, I don’t think it can see perfectly here.
But my presence has been discovered, so my advantage has technically been erased here.
“[Shadow Bind]!” (Hikaru)
Before the Panther jumps at me, I tie it up with Shadow Bind.
I control Darkness Fog at the same time, and take out the Panther from the range of the darkness.
In terms of timing, it is barely scraping it, but I don’t know if it is because I have casted an ability on it, the Panther’s attention was on me, so that served as a plus.
Rifreya ran and slammed the Panther from the side with a hit that packed all her might.
No matter if it is a giant wild beast, if an iron rod of around 150 cm were to hit their weak point with your weight put on it, they wouldn’t be able to endure it.
The Panther went on its knees and rolled in a way to take distance from Rifreya.
But it is still showing its fangs and its fighting spirit hasn’t diminished one bit.
“It isn’t dying with that?!” (Hikaru)
“Sorry! I missed the weak point by a bit!” (Rifreya)
Animal type monsters are actually rare.
The monsters that show up in the dungeon are ‘mixed ones’. In other words, there’s a lot of demi-human monsters.
The weak point spot of animals feels different from that of demi-humans, so it can’t be helped that she can’t hit it with pinpoint accuracy.
“It is coming! [Shade Shift]! [Darkness Fog]!” (Hikaru)
It must have seen that I am an easier opponent than Rifreya who has a giant weapon, it sprang back to adjust its distance from Rifreya.
It is still on guard of its surroundings, but it isn’t taking its gaze away from me. Looks like it intends to kill me first before fighting Rifreya. The Panther lowered its body, and took the posture to jump.
I steel myself.
In this critical juncture where I can lose my life, my brain turned its gears at astounding speeds.
I will die if I make a single wrong move here. This is a superior opponent that I normally wouldn’t be able to defeat.
But I already knew that from the very beginning. And this is the situation I was wishing for.
There’s no need to confirm my Status Board. This fight is definitely attracting the eyes of the viewers. They should be able to tell that I am in a perilous situation after all.
The Garden Panther sinks its body as if it were a bow being pulled.
I am on a straight line in its path. If that gets released, I would be turned into a stone in a few seconds without being able to say anything.
It is impossible to take on that lunge.
Even with both Darkness Fog and Shade Shift at play, I am simply increasing the evasion rate by a slight amount.
However, no matter how good its eyes are in the dark, if it jumps from a bright place into a dark place, it should take some time for its eyes to get used to it.
I thought for a second about bringing out the Lizardman Undead, but I don’t have the time to do that anymore.
“[Shadow Bind]! [Phantom Warrior]!” (Hikaru)
Before the attack of the Panther came, I cast several abilities at once. I could feel my body getting slightly hotter.
No matter if I have the Affection of Spirits, it is not like I can use abilities without any limitations. Especially Phantom Warrior and Dark Sense which are higher Tier abilities, the consumed Spirit Energy is high.
The Phantom Warrior disappeared just now, so I could bring out a new one, but using many abilities consecutively can invite my Spirit Energy to be exhausted.
The noise the Warrior made took the attention of the Panther for an instant, and in that very opening, the dark tentacles wrap around it.
The Bind managed to immobilize it for a few seconds, but being able to buy that slight time is big.
I ran while using the darkness, but the Panther was still targeting me, its gaze still set on me.
Maybe it has something close to night vision or a resistance towards Dark Spirit Abilities.
Normally, it should be more wary about Rifreya who has higher attack, but the Panther was targeting me consistently. Does it have the trait of attacking the Spirit Users with higher Tier?
The Bind ran out, and the Garden Panther that had accumulated its strength sprang out.
I jump to the side with my life on my sleeve.
Maybe because I have defeated countless numbers of monsters in the dungeon already, my body moved faster than I thought, and I managed to barely evade this charge.
Me using several Spirit Abilities to impair its movements must have saved my life here.
But I can only do this once. If it jumps at me multiple times, it will be impossible to evade them.
The Panther that failed to finish its prey spun its body immediately, and searched for my presence.
Everything happened within the darkness.
The Garden Panther is inside the darkness, and it is fighting me while being distracted by the Phantom Warrior, Bind, and Night Bugs.
Of course…it doesn’t see Rifreya who is outside the darkness.
I control the range of the Darkness Fog and shout.
“Rifreya! Now!” (Hikaru)
“Okay! [Light]!” (Rifreya)
I regained my posture, and the moment it looked at me, Light was casted.
The Light that we have practiced countless times as an attack.
The violent light source that appeared in that instant made the movements of the Panther stop.
It was inside the Darkness Fog until now, so it was trying to open its eyes wide to look at me. It must have been super effective.
“This is…the end!” (Rifreya)
The greatsword was swung down with enough momentum to cut off the head of the Panther.
Just when its neck was about half cut, the Garden Panther’s giant body changed into a Spirit Stone.
At that moment, the mist filling the surroundings dispersed, and returned close to the normal field of vision of the 3rd Floor.
“Haah…Haah…Haah… We did it! This is my first time defeating a Garden Panther.” (Rifreya)
“T-That was strong… It ain’t fair to bring out a feline beast in a place filled with demi-humans…” (Hikaru)
It is like that giant monkey.
A demi-human is skillful and can use weapons, but their base is that of a human, so it resembles a battle between humans. In other words, you can directly apply your training between humans into battle.
But what of battles against wild beasts? My shortsword or the thin sword of Grapefull probably wouldn’t even be able to deal damage to it.
The sword of Rifreya that managed to slay it with only 2 swings is truly a beast slayer.
“Is that sword specialized for monster hunting?” (Hikaru)
I somehow ask Rifreya who was heaving while retrieving the Spirit Stone.
“That’s right. My master was an explorer, so I was told that I should learn to use a weapon like this in order to dive into dungeons.” (Rifreya)
“Your master was quite the high ranked explorer, right?” (Hikaru)
“Yeah, the Dazzling Canopus. A former Salamander Rank explorer.” (Rifreya)
“Oh! Salamander Rank is the highest rank.” (Hikaru)
For someone like me who is in the lowest rank, the Spiritus Rank, it is like an unreachable existence.
“It is normally a person that would be impossible to ask for their teachings though.” (Rifreya)
“So you have your circumstances?” (Hikaru)
“Master is for some reason working at the cafeteria of the Light Great Church. When I was training on the sword alone, they probably couldn’t endure watching me, and taught me in their break time. Ah, my house is right by the side of the Great Church.” (Rifreya)
She then continued by saying that the greatsword she has was made through a connection from her master.
Rifreya having survived for 1 year in the dungeon must have been thanks to her following the teachings of her master.
“Master often said: ‘If you are going to explore the dungeon, select your party members carefully. Especially the Spirit Users that have a high cast limit, make sure to bring them to your side’. I myself am not good with Spirit Abilities, so I had complicated feelings about that, but…you really are amazing, Hikaru. There haven’t been records of people defeating a Panther in these few months.” (Rifreya)
“…It apparently rarely appears after all.” (Hikaru)
I understand that the ones with high cast limits are strong.
Spirit Abilities are by no means certain-kill techniques. At the very least, all my abilities only serve to support in battle. The ones dealing the killing blow are the people.
In that case, there’s the need to have a high number of uses.
If it were a certain-kill technique, it is fine to only have a few uses for the decisive moments, but Spirit Abilities don’t fall in that category.
“That’s why, Hikaru…the 2 weeks are going to be passing already, but I would like to—” (Rifreya)
“Oooi! Rifreya-chan! What a relief! You were alive!”
“Waah, I have been searching for you-nyan!” (Grapefull)
Rifreya was about to say something, but the voice of Grapefull and the scary-looking explorers that were looking for us cut her off.
I think the place where we were attacked at first and the place we were fighting at wasn’t even 100 meters apart, but they probably couldn’t find us. This mist might have the effect of muffling sounds.
“O-Oi, what happened to the Garden Panther?”
“Hikaru and I defeated it.” (Rifreya)
“No way! There’s no way a Panther can be defeated with only 2 people!”
“There’s no way I would lie about that, right?” (Rifreya)
Rifreya showed the giant Spirit Stone to the scary-looking guy.
It is not a Chaotic Spirit Stone but a Water Spirit Stone, but it is pretty big. It isn’t as big as the one of the giant monkey, but I would say it is pretty close to it.
“Seriously…? I am sorry for doubting you… To think you were that strong, Rifreya-chan…”
“I am telling you over and over that it is not me that’s strong but Hikaru, right?” (Rifreya)
“Right… You did your best too, brat.”
They are looking at me with lukewarm gazes, but well, it looks like they have acknowledged me at least.
They didn’t see the actual fight, so they are probably still finding it hard to believe. Well, I am glad it ended without my abilities being seen though.
“R-Right! What happened to Ash?!”
“It pains me to say that…his stone is over there.” (Hikaru)
Ash must refer to the explorer that was first bitten by the Panther.
The scary-looking guy trudged his way to the Spirit Stone, picking up the ID tag and the stone. It isn’t a transparent stone, but a colored one…a Fire Spirit Stone. He must have been a renowned explorer.
“Rifreya, Grapefull, let’s go.” (Hikaru)
“Let’s go-nya.” (Grapefull)
It is a shame that an explorer died, but that’s the kind of place this is.
And if we continue this line of work, we will one day end up like this too. Seeing how the explorer has ended up turning into a Spirit Stone without a say in it, my brain just begins to imagine that future by itself.
(Even so, there’s 6 days counting today.) (Hikaru)
My viewers have suddenly increased to 1 billion all of a sudden with the attack of the Garden Panther.
A decisive battle against a giant and beautiful wild beast.
The life that was lost from this attack…
For the viewers wishing for my death, their hands must have been sweating in a different meaning at this development.
They must have been disappointed at me surviving.
(I don’t mind dying if it is after reviving Nanami.) (Hikaru)
For some reason, I managed to honestly think like that.
Maybe it is because I have gotten way too used to this place called a dungeon that’s filled with death?
My body had grown accustomed to death.
I even felt as if I would gain respite from dying.
6 days left.
As I thought, the viewers increase when there’s a chance for me to die.
I will try dying while avoiding death.
That’s the only thing I can do.
“Rifreya, Grapefull, I think…there will be dangerous happenings like this in the future, but…only 6 days… Please tag along with me for only 6 days more.” (Hikaru)
Grapefull said: “I have been hired. Rather, I would like you to hire me forever-nyan”.
Rifreya laughed vaguely.
That day, I also participated proactively in attacking, and we hunted close to a hundred monsters.