Dungeon Sherpa: Chapter 20

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 Pale emerald luminescent moss covered the 48th Floor. 

 While being watchful of the surroundings, Rowe used a tool known as the “Sherpa’s Wand” to confirm their coordinates, and drew special symbols on fine grid paper. 

 Because of this, their progression speed was slowed, but it was important to not end up losing track of their way back. 

 Even Berii didn’t complain or interfere with Rowe’s work. 

“Black Princess.
Right in front — a strong presence.
Likely, three.”

 At Nuuk’s warning, Yuika’s mouth broadened widely, probably because he had just used the term “strong”. 

“In these deep depths, no weaklings will come out.
Crush them with all our might.”

 They moved from the passageway into the room, but no monsters appeared. 

 Nuuk’s Gift, [Enemy Search] would not be mistaken. 

 From the case of the Prince Slime in the previous exploration, they were suspicious of the possibility, but there were none of those shadows on the ceiling or the floor.

 The party members’ tension rose. 

“Darling.
Until the 47th Floor, are there any monsters that can hide, or even deceive our sight?”

 Rowe shook his head to Yuika’s question.

“There are none.
If we’re considering possibilities, [Illusion] or [Mimicry] Gift wielding monsters — perhaps.”

 However, it is unlikely for all 5 of them to be afflicted with [Illusion] without anyone realising.
Above all, Yuika has the passive Gift of [Abnormal Condition Resistance].

 And in the case of [Mimicry], the enemy should be stuck to the walls or floors, waiting for Adventurers to approach. 

 Rowe got down on all fours and put his ear to the luminescent moss covering the ground. 

“…It’s here.”

 The sound of something thrashing about and something like creaking was conveyed to his ear.
When he observed the surrounding surface closely, there were some parts where the colour of the light was different.
It looked like a faint blotchy pattern. 

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“The monsters appear to be moving underground.”

 Slightly after Yuika stopped the movement of her controlled monsters, the sounds from underground also stopped. 

 With this, the chance of it being [Mimicry] was also ruled out.

 Perhaps it was a monster yet to be met in Tyros Labyrinth.

“In the Monster Book, there is a record of a monster known as the Blind Serpent Ophion, what do you think?” 

“…Fumu.
I have not seen it with my own eyes but, an Adventurer that I encountered, I have heard a story from.
Lurking underground, a log-like enormous snake suddenly devoured his leg.
That fellow had a prosthetic limb.”

“–Geh.”

 Berii groaned at the conversation between Rowe and Magikan, she slowly and quietly lifted one leg. 

 Blind Serpent Ophion, Yuika and Nuuk also seemed to know about it, and they entered into deep thought with complicated expressions on their faces.  

“If I’m not wrong, I’ve heard that fire-type magic is effective, but what a pain.
We have no means to attack underground.”

“…Decoy, we might have no choice but to use one.”

 Currently, Yuika controlled 18 monsters, 5 Bone Soldiers, 6 Salamanders, 5 Orcs, and 2 Imps. 

 According to Nuuk’s proposal, the fast-moving Salamanders were to be used as decoys. 

 Following Yuika’s orders, like a dog excited to see snow, “Salad 6” lightly ran around. 

 However, this wasn’t that kind of heartwarming atmosphere.
The sacrificial Salamander was watched nervously by the members, unable to swallow their saliva, as they awaited the timing of an attack. 

 Eventually, the luminous moss rolled up, and a black lump popped out of the ground.

 Shiny and slimy.
Its entire body was striped in various shades of black.

 It was thick enough that an adult wouldn’t be able to wrap their arms around it, and its total length was unclear.
At the front was a huge mouth full of sharp fangs. 

 The features match.
Undoubtedly — Blind Serpent Ophion. 

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“Kui!”

 ”Salad 6″ screamed, but fortunately it was agile and had a small physique.
As its name suggested, the Blind Serpent Ophion was not very accurate in its aim, and the Salamander was able to narrowly escape with its life, only having a small scratch to its tail. 

 Like a big tree growing from the ground, the Ophion stood straight as a pole, and was attempting to attack the monsters around it. 

 Their movements had probably already been detected. 

 An Orc brandishing an axe was swallowed by another Ophion. 

 Berii, who was nearby, fell down on her back and was about to get back up before Yuika commanded. 

“Don’t move!”

 There were supposed to be 3 Ophions. 

 The last one hadn’t appeared yet. 

“Pri, Princess~”

 Berry asked for help in a soft hoarse voice. 

 2 Ophions disappeared into the ground, Yuika clenched her teeth. 

“Magikan, how’s magic?”

 With the [Floating] Gift, Magikan could inflict damage to the enemies without causing the ground the vibrate. 

 However, the Sage didn’t seem inclined to do so. 

“Not only would magic take a long time to activate, I too lack fire-type magic.
To defeat them in one cast would not be possible.”

 This is the weakness of magic Gifts.

 To use magic, you must draw a magic formation with a magic tool or fingers, but the more powerful the magic, the more complicated the formation, so the time until activation requires more time.
You can’t draw the formation in advance and let it standby, and if you panic and make a mistake with the formation drawing, the spell will Collapse. 

“…Other ideas?”

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 In the midst of the members’ silence, it was Rowe who gingerly raised his hand. 

 The idea he suggested was to make use of the Salamanders – their fast activating active Gift, [Artillery].

 However, even if the Salamanders are made to stop moving the immediate moment after they used their Gifts, they would still need to direct their bodies towards the enemies, and brace their legs against the ground while firing.

  The Ophions might not overlook those vibrations. 

“However, if we become turrets and mount the Salamanders on us, they might not notice.”

 Yuika made an immediate decision.

“Let’s try.”

 First, they threw the pebbles that Nuuk used as finger bullets at the far side to gain distance from the Ophions. 

 They didn’t seem to be too intelligent monsters.
At the location where the pebbles rolled, 3 Ophions revealed themselves, Berii got up, and Yuika recalled the Salamander. 

 The 5 of them each carried a single Salamander.

 Following which, “Salad 6” became a decoy, and the other 5 Salamanders rained fire on them. 

 This operation was effective.

 At the moment that the recoil from firing [Artillery] came, if the humans carrying the Salamanders could proficiently dampen and kill that recoil, the Ophions would be ended without even being able to notice. 

 The information in the Monster Book — the weakness of the Blind Serpent Ophion was not wrong. 

 Apparently, the slime that covered its body was partly composed of oil, and it had the effect of reducing friction when it travelled on the ground.
The monsters were immolated by the rain of [Artillery], and let out ear-splitting shrieks. 

 During this, “Salad 6” was sacrificed to a giant mouth and fangs, and in its place, an Orc took up the decoy role to weaken the Ophions, even if only slightly. 

 After more than 20 attacks, the 3 Orphions let out jarring death throes, and they laid on the ground. 

“Nuuk, any nearby enemies?”

“……None.”

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 With that, Yuika finally relaxed her shoulders. 

 Around them was black smoke and the faint smell of burning. 

 The sacrifices were, 1 Salamander, 5 Orcs, and 3 Skeleton Soldiers.
It was a big loss, but fortunately they were workers that could be replenished. 

“Luck was, on our side.”

 Without Nuuk’s [Enemy Search] and the Salamanders’ [Artillery], this would likely have been a bitter battle.
They were difficult enemies that could be nearly considered as a deathly encounter.

 Other Adventurers might possess the Gift of [Enemy Search], but the monster manipulating [Phantasmagoric Needle] was a Gift currently only usable by Yuika.

“If it were a normal Adventurer party, I wonder how they would go about attacking this situation?”

 It was Rowe who answered the question that had been casually asked.

“With none other than fire arrows, I’m sure.”

 However, the bow is an unpopular weapon.
Since they require arrows as consumables, the luggage becomes bulkier, and the number of attacks is limited.
Moreover, it is not possible to apply Gifts on the fired arrows, so it also lacks attack power.
It is well known that from after the middle layers, the bow starts to become ineffective against deep layer monsters that boast enormous physical strength. 

 Because of the above, among the advanced Adventurers, there are almost no archers. 

“From here on, parties that challenge the deep layers of Tyros Labyrinth will carry along bows and arrows even if they might not know whether they will need to use them.
Moreover, in the case where they lack [Enemy Search], they will have to constantly check the sounds of the ground while exploring.”

 Yuika couldn’t take her eyes off Rowe. 

 In untrodden floors, you cannot know what kinds of monsters might appear. 

 More than a monster with a powerful Gift, a monster like the Ophion that resided in a unique environment with special adaptations can be far more dangerous. 

 In such an event, the thing that saves the party is not Adventurer levels, but knowledge about monsters, as well as flexible and creative thinking ability. 

 It was easy to have your eyes stolen by the special Gift of [Stamina Recovery], but Yuika had noticed that Rowe’s value was far beyond only just that. 

 A bargain as good as this won’t come rolling again that easily. 

 No doubt.
I have good eyes for men.

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