I doubted my ears at what Maki said.
—Mass suicide inside the dungeon.
An action that didn’t exist in the game.
But it is effective.
(I lacked a bit of thought there.) (Souma)
Having Maki attack the village was an action that wasn’t in the game.
Irregular actions bring about irregular reactions.
That’s the natural conclusion.
If I wanted to do it perfectly, I should have acted solely within the boundaries of the quest completion.
No, I had to deviate from the path in some way or there wouldn’t have been a chance to save Lipha in the first place.
I was spoken to by Maki who got closer to me and I finally came back to my senses.
Right, this isn’t the time to be thinking about that!
“We are stopping them! Lead the way!” (Souma)
Even if they are cultists, in this world, they are actual people.
I doubt we can persuade them, but if possible, I would want them to stop an action as foolish as suicide.
“G-Got it. Over here!” (Souma)
We dash through the dungeon with Maki leading the way this time.
Mitsuki ran by my side there and whispered to me.
“…You have an idea of what they are trying to revive, right?” (Souma)
“Yeah, it is probably ‘that’.” (Souma)
A normal demon resurrection would not require these many sacrifices, and it wouldn’t be Game Over just from it reviving.
Also, judging from the name of this place ‘Seal Dungeon’, I feel like there’s a connection with that place.
“Then, you understand, right? We must stop that resurrection at all cost.” (Mitsuki)
“Of course I know.” (Souma)
Resurrection = Game Over after all.
It wouldn’t even be an exaggeration to say that I am the one most aware of the danger.
Or more like…
“But that’s unexpected. I thought you would want to fight it.” (Souma)
I thought Mitsuki would welcome the resurrection with open arms.
But Mitsuki’s cat ears twisted as if saying ‘that’s horrible~’.
“What a terrible thing to say. My father has told me plenty about the threat of ‘that’. I do want to try fighting it personally, but if the result of not achieving that means that it will bring harm to innocent people, it must be avoided.” (Mitsuki)
It would be against the Hisame family’s policy of protecting the civilians after all.
Well, it certainly wouldn’t be nice to die from the selfish action of a battle junkie.
“More importantly, you should really be careful.” (Mitsuki)
“Eh? Me?” (Souma)
“Yes, you would do outrageous things at times, so please refrain from doing any rash actions as much as possible… So I say, but I am sure it will be falling in deaf ears anyways, so at least consult me or Ringo before doing anything.” (Mitsuki)
I am pretty untrusted here.
And I am being told this by a battle junkie of all people.
“I know. I will exercise restraint on this occasion. If I am going to do something, I will consult first.” (Souma)
“…Please do.” (Mitsuki)
At the time when an agreement was made between me and Mitsuki, Maki, who was leading the way, looked back and shouted.
“Geez, what have you been whispering to each other for a while now?! We will soon be—” (Maki)
“?! Front!” (Mitsuki)
Maki faced the front at the warning of Mitsuki, but it was an instant too late.
Maki, who is supposed to be a high level character, was easily sent flying to the back.
I confirmed that Mitsuki had caught her from the side of my vision and glared at ‘that guy’ that had sent Maki flying.
“…Good work, young lady. I knew that you would go to the ones that got in our way if I let you escape, and it was exactly as I thought.”
A voice I remember hearing in the game.
The voice of the Saiga Village’s chief which I have heard countless times in the explanation of the quest and before the Game Over.
But his appearance is already not that of a human.
A black and rugged physique with two twisted horns.
Two jet black wings at his back like those of a bat.
—The demon that was controlling the cultists, the Village Chief, has revealed his true form.
The first one to react was Maki, who had been blown away and had recovered from the impact.
“Why are you here?! What about the knights?!” (Maki)
The Village Chief simply created a smile with his true form.
“Aah, those weaklings? They must be lying down somewhere. If I knew knights were that weak, I wouldn’t have needed to waste my pawns.”
“C-Could it be…!” (Maki)
Maki went pale at the response of the demon, but…
“No, we haven’t killed them. I had a single ‘piece’ take off their equipment. If I ended up killing them, I would be offering a coarse thing to the Great One as the last one after all.”
The demon denied that.
The problem is this ‘last offering’.
I hurriedly looked at the wall and the number had at some point in time gone to 1.
That village has more than 20 villagers.
Even if a number of them are demons who can’t be used as sacrifice, they should have been able to manage the 17 sacrifices with only the remaining villagers.
(This is bad…!) (Souma)
If this goes exactly as the quest, Lipha will be teleported to the altar.
The reason why there aren’t any signs of that happening just yet must be because it is advancing in an irregular manner.
But that isn’t the only strange thing here.
(Was this guy that strong?) (Souma)
The demon in front of us.
I have fought him before at the Saiga Village, but it is in the end a low level quest boss.
It is honestly not an enemy that the Knight Order should be losing against.
It is also strange that Maki would get sent flying when she has outstanding stats even if she had her guard down.
“You look as if something doesn’t make sense here. Seems like, even though you saw through our plan, you didn’t know about this stone.”
“That necklace is…the one that Lipha-san was wearing…” (Mitsuki)
As Mitsuki said at the back, the thing that the demon held was a pendant releasing bright red light.
It is the exact same as the cursed equipment that Lipha had.
“Do you people know what this stone is?”
“Isn’t it…a gem you can obtain in this dungeon?” (Mitsuki)
“Close. You have really come pretty close. You do have the truth in your grasp by being aware that it only exists in this place.”
The demon laughs at the response of Mitsuki.
“You must have an inkling already, right? The fact that this is the place where the fragment of our only God is sealed in.”
“So it really is the Evil God, Dis Aster.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki mutters with a grim tone.
When speaking of a being that can force a Game Over, that’s the only one that comes to mind.
It is true that the Fragment of the Evil God deep in the Hidden Dungeon, the Sealed Magic Dungeon, was crazy strong.
If something like that were to be released and it can move around without any restrictions, it is possible for the world to perish.
“The fragment here of Dis Aster-sama isn’t that big, but even so, it was still sealed tightly. At the other side of the door in the middle of the dungeon. That place is the Seal Space. The fragment of Dis Aster-sama is sealed there.”
“So that place wasn’t the Sacrifice Altar…” (Souma)
The demon picked up my question with his sharp ears and answered.
“No, in a sense, it is also a Sacrifice Altar as well. We took a long time to gather the overflowing power in the dungeon in order to take advantage of the annoying power that seals Dis Aster-sama and make it into power that revives Dis Aster-sama.”
“So you diverted the power for the seal into your own convenience…” (Souma)
I don’t know if that’s a setting that existed in its game days or it is one that was created after this world became reality, but after hearing that, I can understand a bit why deaths connect to the resurrection of the Evil God in this place.
“But in order to send that power to Dis Aster-sama, there was the need to touch the fragment of Dis Aster-sama directly to create a pathway. But the door standing before the Seal Altar was sturdy and we couldn’t reach Dis Aster-sama’s fragment no matter what. Our plan was on the verge of failing there.”
I was thinking about why this demon was talking for so long while listening to him.
Does he have some sort of plan?
I have to at least be vigilant here.
“But at that moment, I found it in this dungeon. A small small fragment that was repelled at the moment of the sealing.”
“Small…fragment…? Could it be…!!” (Mitsuki)
It seems like Mitsuki has understood what the demon said.
And it also connected one instant later for me too.
(Oi oi oi! That’s bad!) (Souma)
I realized that I have messed up greatly here and blood drained from my face.
I unconsciously tighten my left hand.
“Yes, that’s right. What we found were 3 small fragments that are the size of a nail. We attached them to gems and made them into accessories.”
The demon looked gleefully at us panicking and said this.
“That red gem necklace provided us with a wonderful blessing. First of all, if a demon like me were to wear it, my power would greatly increase in this space where the mana of Dis Aster-sama overflows. To the point that it can overwhelm the Knight Order.”
“That’s why everyone…!!” (Maki)
The secret to the demon’s strength was the red stone necklace and…the miasma of this dungeon.
It is true that I have only fought the Village Chief above-ground.
So that means he would have had far more power if I had fought him in the dungeon, huh.
“And if you put it on a human, the mana of Dis Aster-sama will slowly seep into their body, and will become a sacrifice of good quality.
If you wear that necklace for 2 years, you would become a top quality sacrifice.”
“That’s why you raised Lipha?!!” (Souma)
I now understand the one other mystery as to why this demon was so adamant in leaving Lipha as the last sacrifice.
He had Lipha put on the necklace that has the fragment of the Evil God, and has ‘raised’ her as a sacrifice.
But the demon continues smiling.
“And the last effect.
Even when the power of Dis Aster-sama’s fragment has been sealed, they attract each other; trying to become bigger fragments in order to achieve resurrection. To be more specific, the small fragments are attracted to the bigger ones and try to be absorbed. Do you know what you can achieve by utilizing that trait to its maximum effect?”
I have seen that answer countless times in the quest.
The red shining necklace and Lipha who disappear into the altar.
“They will be teleported to where the Fragment of the Evil God is at…” (Souma)
“That’s right. When used once, the small fragment will be absorbed by the big fragment, so it is a one-time use. Moreover, there’s no way to return from the Seal Space -a one-way trip. But thanks to that, the preparations for the revival of Dis Aster-sama have been set. At that time, we lost one ‘piece’ and one small fragment, but that was a small sacrifice.”
I was on the verge of raging from how he saw people as just disposable tools, but the demon wasn’t fazed.
“…Do you still not know why I can stay this calm? The seal of the Seal Space was problematic, but once you enter, it will change into the toughest of defenses. No matter what happens there, no one will be able to do anything.”
He said that while holding the necklace and…
Mitsuki was about to shoot out towards the demon, but…
“Stop! If you do that…!” (Souma)
I raised my voice desperately too.
I know better than anyone just what will happen when he uses that necklace.
That must be stopped at all costs.
The necklace shone mercilessly.
“Now, Lipha, it is time to fulfill your role!”
Faster than Mitsuki jumping out and me raising my voice…
“No one can break that door aside from that Great One’s resurrection! —It is our win!!”
The necklace of the demon released a ghastly light and the demon disappeared.
—The face of the Village Chief transformed as a demon suddenly appeared at close distance.
It looks pretty nasty when seeing it from up-close.
I hurriedly carried off Lipha who was by my side and hid behind Mitsuki despite being aware that that’s pathetic.
—But I wasn’t the only one who was flustered here.
Lipha was within my arms and…
“E-Eh? Onii-chan? Where’s Ringo-oneechan…?” (Lipha)
Lipha had her eyes wide open while Mitsuki doesn’t seem to understand what’s going on with her cat ears going up and down restlessly.
As for the demon, he seemed to not be able to say anything while looking spaced-out at the broken red necklace.
But Mitsuki and the demon, who had a lot of prior information, noticed pretty soon after.
They ended up noticing.
“C-Could it be…!”
“Could it be…!”
The two of them raised their voices and looked at me at the same time.
The demon had a terrified expression as if saying ‘I can’t believe this’ and Mitsuki’s usual expressionless face was showing a shocked expression as if saying ‘is this guy serious?’.
Their gazes had fearsome pressure.
Having lost to the pressure of the two, I scratched my head as if playing the fool.
“…Maybe it really was a bad idea to have taken this~. Just kidding.” (Souma)
I say this with a dry laugh, and within my left hand…there was the bright red stone beginning to pulsate creepily.
The bright red stone that I had found…on top of the altar when I separated from Mitsuki and the others before.