Chapter 169 – The clearing of the Trial of Zakkart begins
The true entrance to the Trial of Zakkart was a dome-shaped room right past the entrance with the sign outside it.
Written words and the holy symbols of the eleven great gods of the world were etched on its walls.
Offer your prayers to the god who chose the true champion.
Vandalieu looked up at the words. “… No doubt the outside people offered their prayers to Alda who chose Bellwood, not Vida who chose Zakkart,” he muttered.
For the people inside the Boundary Mountain Range, who knew that this Dungeon had been built by Gufadgarn, the evil god of labyrinths who called himself Zakkart’s first disciple, this was an obvious trap.
But in the human societies outside the Boundary Mountain Range, Zakkart was considered a ‘fallen champion,’ one of the parents of the evil Vampire race. He deserved fear more than respect.
None would think of him when they saw the words ‘true champion.’
“In human societies, the first thing that should come to mind when hearing the words ‘true champion’ should be Bellwood and the others who defeated the Demon King,” said Iris. “And since this Dungeon is known to the outside world as a trial to select Bellwood’s successor, I think that most who face it offer their prayers to Alda even if they are not believers of Alda or Bellwood themselves.”
Indeed, most challengers from human societies chose Alda at this point. Just like Heinz and the Five-colored Blades.
“What about Zantark, who chose Farmaun?” Vandalieu asked.
Farmaun, a heroic god like Bellwood, was the founder of the Adventurers’ Guild. It occurred to Vandalieu that many of the challengers would be adventurers and choose to offer their prayers to him.
It was unlikely that Gufadgarn knew that Farmaun had left Alda’s faction, but he knew that Zantark was on Vida’s side. So then, wouldn’t he think better of those who offered their prayers to Zantark than those who offered prayers to Shizarion and Alda?
“Zantark is thought to be a fallen god who fused with evil gods, even to believers of Vida in the outside world, so…” Iris explained.
“I see,” said Vandalieu, nodding. “Well then, shall we offer our prayers to Vida?”
He prayed to Vida’s holy symbol. He simply put his hands together, no different from how he always did it.
“I am a believer of Vida now, I am a believer of Vida now,” said Iris.
“I have stopped believing in Hihiryushukaka. It’s true, it’s true,” said Eleanora.
“I am like a piece of Vandalieu-sama’s equipment, so please don’t mind me,” said Isla.
Iris was a former believer of Alda. Eleanora and Isla, who had emerged from within Vandalieu’s body, were Vampires who had belonged to a Vampire faction that worshipped Hihiryushukaka. The three of them put their hands together and prayed earnestly.
Isla had even gone as far as abandoning her right to be called a person.
Gufadgarn was likely to treat remnants of the Demon King’s army as enemies just like those of Alda’s faction, so it wasn’t difficult to understand her desperation.
“Well, I think it will be fine. Vida didn’t say anything bad about you when I went to her Divine Realm,” said Vandalieu, reassuring them that Vida and the other gods shouldn’t view Eleanora and Isla as problems.
“I hope that’s true, but…” Eleanora murmured.
“Boy, I have finished. Is it better to take a little more time?” asked Zadiris.
“Vandalieu, a door has appeared, so maybe that’s enough praying?” said Darcia.
Vandalieu and his companions stopped praying and proceeded further inside through the enormous door that had appeared.
Gufadgarn, the evil god of labyrinths, was dreaming inside the Trial of Zakkart that he had created.
He dreamed of days bygone, the brightest and happiest days.
That dream was interrupted by a new presence in the Dungeon.
The fact that they had offered prayers to Vida in the first selection chamber meant that they were likely those from the inside of the Boundary Mountain Range. For some reason, all challengers from the outside always prayed to the detestable Alda.
What had Alda, who fancied himself to be the leader of the gods, told his believers about this Dungeon? Had he sent Divine Messages to people who were incredibly incapable of interpreting them?
Of course, even members of Vida’s races from outside the Boundary Mountain Range prayed to Alda.
The particularly deplorable thing was that the sign that Gufadgarn had placed outside the Dungeon had no effect whatsoever. He had placed a simple question to separate challengers at the entrance, but perhaps this was the cause?
“But in order to find my master, I cannot deny even the smallest possibility. And it would not be good for my true intentions to be revealed.”
There was a miniscule, but non-negligible, chance that Gufadgarn’s master would turn out to be a believer of Alda due to some kind of mistake. It would be problematic if Gufadgarn’s true intentions were to become widely-known and people began facing the trial not to clear it, but to exterminate Gufadgarn.
Leaving that aside, Gufadgarn focused his consciousness on the new challengers. He could not carelessly allow Vampires that were the holy children of Zakkart – his noble master – to die, and the same went for the others who offered their prayers to Vida.
And among those that Gufadgarn could now ‘see,’ there was one individual that stood out.
“… These thoughts! I feel the presence of my master, Zakkart… and I feel the divine protection of Vida.”
Astonished, Gufadgarn stared at an image of Vandalieu, who opened a door and proceeded deeper into the Dungeon.
As far as Gufadgarn could see, Vandalieu didn’t resemble his master, the champion Zakkart, in the slightest. But his appearance wasn’t the important thing.
The problem was whether this Dhampir boy was really the one in Ricklent’s Divine Message, the one who had been reborn from the remains of Zakkart and the other champions that had shared his will.
That was not yet certain. But Gufadgarn could not stop his heart from pounding in his chest.
“Ah, the empty time that I thought would be an eternity will come to an end. Boy… I pray that you can fill this void within me.”
Vandalieu and his companions passed through the door into a dim space that stretched on and on. As far as they could see, there were no walls or even a ceiling.
As they thought about what a strangely simple Dungeon it was, the door closed with a thud and vanished.
“Be careful! From what I’ve heard, a large number of monsters appear now!” Darcia warned them.
At that moment, a countless number of monsters appeared on this floor where there had been absolutely nothing a moment ago.
Enormous, human-shaped Iron Golems; Mad Salamanders that were spirits of flame that had been driven insane by corrupted Mana; Prism Stalkers that were gas-like clouds of light that used artificial light-attribute magic.
And there were dozens of monsters of other kinds, the weakest of which were Rank 6, attacking simultaneously.
This was the reason that sending large numbers of people into the Trial of Zakkart was futile. On the first floor, challengers were forced to fight a countless number of monsters with no exit available. Those who were not powerful enough to clear B-class Dungeons with ease would be killed immediately.
“Indeed, it is just as I heard from Father and the others,” said Iris.
Nobody was shaken by this, as they had heard stories from those who had experienced the trial before.
“This means I can finally test my new equipment. Transform!” said Zadiris, raising her transformation staff, casting aside her robe and reciting the command words.
The Dark Copper decorations on her transformation staff turned into liquid, fell onto her body and crawled across her limbs.
Within seconds, the Dark Copper had fused with Zadiris’s clothes and the main part of her transformation staff, the Death Iron handle was left behind.
“Fierce Shining Blades: Chaotic Dance!”
Zadiris’s skirt-shaped clothes spun as her advanced light-attribute spell fired a barrage of projectiles that cut down the monsters that were flooding in.
And then she struck down the Iron Golems and other monsters that were still standing with an advanced wind-attribute spell.
“Take this! Thunderbolt!”
Zadiris unleashed spells in quick succession with the Chant Revocation Skill. Her attacks slaughtered almost all of the monsters that had appeared.
“Hmm! It feels wonderful to use. The assistance with casting spells and bonuses to the spells’ power is greater than I expected, and the clothes are so light and easy to move in!” Zadiris remarked.
“Don’t be in such high spirits… well, that’s good, isn’t it?” said Legion.
“Y-yeah, that’s amazing,” said Iris.
Legion and Iris buried the few remaining monsters with ease.
The moment they entered the Dungeon, the path of retreat had been cut off and in the next moment, a swarm of monsters that were Rank 6 or higher had attacked them. Adventurers of D-class and below, as well as ordinary knights and soldiers, would have been killed immediately. Even C-class adventurers wouldn’t have survived if they were few in number to begin with. This onslaught would have killed groups that were not worthy of at least B-class.
But Vandalieu’s minimum conditions had been to be able to clear B-class Dungeons with ease. This challenge was nothing for him and his party.
In fact, it had been just perfect for Zadiris to test the effectiveness of her new clothes and transformation staff.
“It seems that I made the transformation staff well… It’s dangerous to recite long command words and take poses during battle, so it was a good idea to make that part shorter,” said Vandalieu.
The transformation staff had been modeled after an item from an anime targeted at girls on Earth, but it would have been a bad idea to use it exactly like that. It would have been counter-productive to expose the user to danger for the sake of being faithful to the original.
Thus, Vandalieu had made it so that the Dark Copper of the staff’s decorative parts changed shape and became a part of the user’s clothes.
“Boy, this is quite the product! If you make these for everyone, there is no doubt that we will become remarkably stronger!” Zadiris exclaimed, her eyes shining with happiness at how comfortable her new equipment was to use.
But voices immediately shouted, “Impossible!” from behind her.
“I think it is impossible for me… though I think it suits Zadiris,” said Iris.
“You’re right. I’ll pass,” said Vigaro as he shook his head, dumbfounded by Zadiris’s transformation.
Legion’s different personalities seemed to have different opinions.
“… Even if I could gain the same form that I had when I was alive in Origin one day, I wouldn’t want to wear that.”
“Same goes for me. Please, I’ll do anything, so just spare me from that.”
“Really? I think it would suit Baba Yaga and Enma, though. Valkyrie seems to hate frills.”
“I’m not as good at magic as Mother. If I was, I wouldn’t mind trying it, but… how about trying it with Zandia and Privel first?” said Basdia. It seemed that the only problem she had with it was her own skill with magic.
Zadiris, who had been in high spirits, calmed down and checked her own appearance. “Projection… Muh, mumumuh!” she groaned as she looked at the image of herself created by her light-attribute spell.
With the bikini-type clothes she had been wearing beneath her robe as a base, the Dark Copper had turned into extremely fine threads and formed frills and ribbons. Her arms and legs were covered in long-sleeve gloves and knee socks. And to top it all off, there was a cape fluttering at her back.
The color scheme was focused on the white color of the light attribute.
At a glance, it looked as if she were wearing a white dress. But looking closer, she was wearing a highly-revealing leotard with dress-like decorations.
Having realized this, Zadiris glared at Vandalieu. “Boy, I asked you to make it adult-like! There are too many ribbons and frills! This is something a child would wear!”
“No, I think it would be problematic even for children to wear,” Iris pointed out calmly. But then she realized that her sense of what was ordinary had changed greatly lately. “… Perhaps not,” she said, falling into silence.
“There is a technical reason for those clothes,” Vandalieu protested. “Small inscriptions have been made in the Dark Copper body suit to improve physical and magical defenses, and they even provide all kinds of enchantments. A certain amount of surface area is required for that.”
“S-surface area?” Zadiris repeated.
“Yes, because there’s a limit on how small I can make the writing.”
The ribbons, frills and skirt-like decorations were not just for cuteness and looks. When the super-fine liquid metal fibers took the form of clothes and a staff, they also formed inscriptions that contained several beneficial effects like a complex program.
“If I reduce those to a minimum, there would be a lot less decorations, but that would make it a lot less reliable; even the slightest damage would turn them into nothing more than Dark Copper clothes. That’s why I ended up using the current design,” Vandalieu explained, insisting that he hadn’t chosen the current cute design to tease Zadiris and make it look like a magic girl costume.
He wouldn’t deny that making the clothes look too adult-like wouldn’t suit Zadiris, however.
Zadiris let out a groan as she listened to Vandalieu’s explanation with her arms crossed. “If that is the case, then it cannot be helped. With the prototype that clung to my body below my neck, it was strangely difficult to move, after all,” she said, accepting Vandalieu’s reasons.
“You’re fine with it?!” Iris and Vigaro exclaimed in surprise.
“Anyway, I don’t think it’s that childish,” said Hitomi, the reincarnated individual who had become one of Legion’s personalities.
“Really, Hitomi-chan?” asked Jack.
“That’s right, Jack. There were even crazier ones on Earth and in Origin,” she said, remembering the magic girl costumes from other worlds.
Bright, multi-colored frills, flared skirts with multiple layers, ribbons that were so large that they would clearly get in the way, shoes that looked painful to walk in.
Compared to those, Zadiris’s current appearance was quite reserved.
“I see, I see. Well, even if I wore adult-like clothes, my face and figure will not change. And although I have been fussy lately, it is not that I dislike frills and ribbons altogether,” said Zadiris, seeming to calm down. “I am sorry, boy. It seems that I behaved selfishly, quite unlike my age.”
She patted Vandalieu’s head. The two of them had become quite close recently.
“But if my Rank increases and I become more adult-like, I shall have you remake my clothes to be more adult-like. That is a promise,” she said with glassy eyes. It seemed that she wasn’t fully over it.
Vandalieu agreed to her promise. The fact was that he would need to remake her transformation staff if her appearance changed too drastically, so he couldn’t say anything against it.
“But I think it’s cute as it is,” he said.
“Boy, do not make fun of the elderly. You should speak words like those to girls your own age or younger than yourself,” said Zadiris.
“… Mother, I think that would limit the people Van could say those words to too much. Though I’d be more than happy if he were to be affectionate towards Jadal,” said Basdia. “By the way, Van, I understand why a lot of decorations are needed in Mother’s case, but what about people like me who have large bodies?”
Legion got excited as they began chatting among themselves.
“… Basdia seems like she would look like a female executive.”
“Our memories are the same, so we know what you’re calmly thinking, Hitomi-chan.”
“By the way, there’s something I want to check. Could we count on you, Jack?”
Legion faded away… but then immediately returned.
“It’s no good. We can’t Teleport outside,” said Jack.
It seemed that he had tried to teleport outside from within the Trial of Zakkart, but it had failed.
“What about you, Vandalieu? Can you go in and out of the Dungeon or create walls and rooms with Labyrinth Construction?”
“Hmm… It seems that I can’t go outside either,” said Vandalieu.
It seemed that he couldn’t exit the Dungeon with the Labyrinth Construction Skill’s Teleportation, either.
Among those who faced the Trial of Zakkart, there had previously been those trying to teleport in and out of the Dungeon or between its floors with the space-attribute spell, Teleportation. But all of these attempts had failed.
If they could enter and exit the Dungeon at will, they would be able to replace damaged equipment and restock on materials like food and Potions. If they had knowledgeable people and other party members that could be substituted in waiting outside, it would be easier to proceed through the Dungeon and solve its riddles.
Even if this wasn’t the case, it was only natural for the challengers to test whether their spells were effective or not. But nobody had been able to enter and exit the Trial of Zakkart with space-attribute magic.
This was thought to be because the Dungeon had been created by Gufadgarn, an evil god who was categorized as having the properties of the space attribute. It was likely that he prevented the Dungeon from being cleared in a way that went against its purpose.
Vandalieu had thought that Legion’s limited death-attribute magic and his Labyrinth Construction Skill’s Teleportation might work, but it seemed to be impossible.
“But I can make changes to the internal layout like this,” said Vandalieu, extending a fingertip. “It uses more Mana than usual, though.”
It seemed that Gufadgarn wasn’t able to prevent everything. A rectangular wall silently grew from the ground where Vandalieu was pointing and extended upwards. He didn’t know whether he would be able to create stairs in the same way, however, as they had only just cleared the first floor.
“It seems that I should be able to Teleport between floors that have already been cleared,” Vandalieu concluded. “How are the Goblin communication devices?” he asked Iris, who had been testing the shrunken-Goblin-head communication devices.
Iris shook her head. “This is unfortunate,” she said.
“… So, these don’t work, either. Just like every other challenger who has tried this, we’re blocked from communicating with the people on the outside,” said Vandalieu.
“If they worked, I would have been able to talk to Jadal and the others,” said Basdia. “There’s no helping it. Let’s clear the Dungeon and go home as quickly as we can.”
“Yes,” Vandalieu agreed.
Vandalieu’s party had thought that it would be convenient if they could communicate with the outside world and Teleport in and out of the Dungeon, but also that it would probably be impossible. Thus, their spirits were not dampened as they began their clearing of the Dungeon once more.
… They had already brought a mountain of materials and people with them.
Incidentally, Zadiris recovered the robe that she had taken off.
From the second floor of the Trial of Zakkart, there were no monster encounters, but it was a complicated labyrinth.
“This labyrinth doesn’t contain any monsters at first, but if you don’t cover a certain distance every hour… what happens again?” Darcia asked.
“Walls appear to shut you in, and dozens of monsters appear!” said Pauvina.
“If I recall, you cannot go anywhere until you defeat those monsters. And the layout of the labyrinth apparently changes every time the Trial of Zakkart changes locations,” added Zadiris.
In other words, this labyrinth could be safely cleared as long as the party continued moving, not stopping even if they lost their way. They couldn’t stop to take rests, but that was the extent of it.
It was thought that it was based on the stories of the champion Zakkart’s philosophy of “Always act, always think” and making immediate decisions that caused a great deal of trouble for Vida.
… Incidentally, it was said that the champion Bellwood had left behind the words, “It is important to stop from time to time and talk to your companions.” Leaving aside the question of whether Bellwood had actually acted on those words, it was likely that this floor had caused a great deal of trouble for challengers from human societies who had followed his wisdom.
“Well, thanks to my Labyrinth Construction Skill, I know the floor’s layout right away. It’s this way,” said Vandalieu.
The labyrinth was meaningless in front of Vandalieu. There weren’t even any pitfalls or traps, so this floor was cleared swiftly.
“Couldn’t we clear it even faster if you moved the walls and made a straight path to the goal?” said Enma.
“Gufadgarn might get angry if we cheat too much, so let’s try to clear things normally as long as it’s safe for us, Enma,” said Vandalieu.
“I see. It wouldn’t be good if he got the wrong impression of us.”
Even if they cleared the trial, there would be no point unless Gufadgarn acknowledged them. Thus, Vandalieu took care as he proceeded through the labyrinth floor.
The riddles on the floors of the Trial of Zakkart created by Gufadgarn were filled with praise for Zakkart and the other creation-oriented champions, and malice and cynicism towards Bellwood and the other battle-oriented champions.
For example, on the fifth floor, the walls were made not of stone, but Undead Bone Walls.
At first, the only monsters on this bone labyrinth floor were the Bone Walls. Challengers would simply need to proceed through the labyrinth, find hidden doors that were simple to find with a little attention and then proceed to the stairs to the next floor. That was all.
But if the challengers were to apply any damage to the Bone Walls, all of the Bone Walls of the entire labyrinth would turn into Skeleton-type monsters that were between Rank 6 and 8, then flood in towards the challengers.
Believers of Alda treated Undead as enemies that should be eliminated unconditionally; this was especially true for those who wished to become the successor of Bellwood, who had defeated the Undead Zakkart. Thus, most of them attacked the Bone Walls or tried to purify them, and then they were forced to fight a swarm of several hundred or even up to a thousand high-Rank Skeletons.
If they continued defeating the Skeletons, the labyrinth would disappear so they would be able to clear the floor this way, but the difficulty of this task was equivalent to an A-class Dungeon.
But with Vandalieu present, the Bone Walls courteously moved aside for him and his party to proceed easily.
“Ah, thank you, thank you,” Vandalieu said, thanking them.
“Ooooohn.” Knochen was happy that there were other Undead like it.
By the time the party reached the stairs, Knochen had grown slightly larger. It seemed that the Bone Walls had given it parts of themselves.
After the bone labyrinth floor, the sixth floor and the next couple of floors after were filled with beautiful natural scenery, like bright, verdant forests, refreshing lakes and clear plateaus.
A short while after challengers entered these floors, this nature would be destroyed by Huge Gluttony Worms that devoured the trees of the forest, enormous Ugly Venom Frogs that contaminated the water with the venom they secreted from their entire bodies and Asher Big Moths that polluted the air with their venomous scales.
If the challengers followed the example of the champion Bellwood who had been obsessed with protecting nature and Nineroad who had agreed with his views at first, they would encounter monsters with venom and spores that would afflict status effects on them one after another. And then the stairs to the next floor would appear in the center of the forests and plateaus after they were laid to waste by the fighting.
“The correct answer is to either leave the monsters alone or assist in destroying nature, isn’t it… I get the feeling that Zakkart didn’t really like destroying nature, though,” said Privel.
“I think so too, but I think this floor is a trap for those who want to become Bellwood’s successor,” said Gizania.
The two of them looked a little sad as they watched the trees of the forests being cut down, pulled apart and broken.
“Now’s the time for my Deforestation Skill to shine!” Vigaro declared, hacking away at the trees with his axe.
Legion was rolling around the forests, having used Size Alteration to become larger. “FUHAHAHAHA! The trees are like bowling pins!”
“OOOOOOHN!” Knochen groaned, having taken a form resembling a bulldozer to dig out large chunks of earth.
“… Can everyone not calm down a little?” said Bellmond, who was making round slices out of the trees with her threads.
At this rate, the forests would become bare within minutes. Watching nature being destroyed like this was somehow a little sad.
The Huge Gluttony Worms, whose work had been stolen from them, looked lonely as they ate the leaves of the fallen trees.
“It is a waste of lumber, but it’s impossible for Sam to carry all of it,” said Vandalieu. “Ah, Privel and Gizania, would you like some mammoth soup?”
He had been using mammoth meat to create a dish similar to pork miso soup. Monsters didn’t appear on this floor even if they took a rest, so it was the perfect point to take a breather and have a meal.
Vandalieu had equipped a large number of companions this time and needed to take in enough nutrients for all of them, so he couldn’t let this chance to eat slip by.
“The miso cooking is superb!” said Myuze, beckoning Privel and Gizania over.
“Let’s eat,” said Privel.
“Indeed,” said Gizania.
The two of them went over to join in and eat the mammoth soup.
The lake and plateau floors were cleared in the same way afterwards.
On top of that, the Huge Gluttony Worms and other monsters that were supposed to be in charge of destroying the natural scenery were tamed by Vandalieu.
There was a puzzle consisting of statues of the seven champions and stone tablets with their achievements illustrated on them. The task was to correctly match the tablets to the statues. A labyrinth floor modeled after the human body, one that Zakkart would likely have easily passed through as he had once wanted to become a forensic scientist. There was also a complicated labyrinth filled with dangerous monsters and traps, with instructions on how to pass through it written on the walls in languages resembling English and German.
Challengers of the trial from human societies that didn’t have any accurate knowledge of the champions’ achievements wouldn’t be able to solve the puzzle correctly. As medical knowledge was still undeveloped, they wouldn’t be able to reach the correct exit to the human-body-shaped labyrinth. And although the alphabet was known, foreign languages themselves weren’t, so such challengers would need to clear the dangerous labyrinth on their own.
Vandalieu and his companions had already seen the champions’ achievements in Vida’s Resting Grounds and looked through the documents left behind by Zakkart and Ark. As for the human-body-shaped labyrinth, it was too simple for Vandalieu and Legion, who possessed the Surgery Skill.
Vandalieu and Legion had both learned several languages in Origin. In Vandalieu’s case, they were the two languages spoken in the military nation’s research laboratory. As for Legion, they spoke the numerous languages they had learned from when they worked all over the world as the Eighth Guidance.
Of course, Earth’s languages and Origin’s languages were similar, but they had their differences as well. However, the instructions written on the walls of the labyrinth were simple, short sentences, so the differences between the worlds’ languages weren’t enough to misunderstand them.
“This Gufadgarn has good taste,” said Isla, sounding impressed.
“Indeed, it’s built to be very tough on believers of Alda and Bellwood,” Vandalieu agreed. There was a clinking sound coming from his hands.
“That isn’t all,” said Isla. “Vandalieu-sama, this Dungeon is not only harsh to challengers that misunderstand its purpose, but also causes them to believe that they are making the correct choices.”
“… What is the meaning of this?” asked Eleanora.
“Do you not understand, little girl?” Isla said, her superiority complex clear in her tone. “Up until now, the riddles place challengers in danger when they answer incorrectly. But if they overcome that danger, the stairs appear and they can continue. That’s why Alda and Bellwood’s followers that face this Dungeon have no doubt that this is a trial to become Bellwood’s successor and repeatedly choose the wrong answers to future riddles… and then they eventually die.”
Such challengers would continue mistaking the penalties imposed on them by their incorrect answers to the riddles as part of the trial. The fact that they were fundamentally mistaken was not put before them in the form of an obstacle that had no other solution.
The stronger their belief and respect for Alda and Bellwood were, the more difficult it would be for them to realize that this wasn’t a part of the trial but mere penalties.
Of course, there were many who thought something was strange as they progressed, but even then, they wouldn’t be able to make a 180 degree turn on their way of thinking.
Even if they could, the correct information regarding Zakkart and the other creation-oriented champions wouldn’t just suddenly appear in their minds.
And although this wasn’t relevant for Vandalieu’s party, monsters would appear and stop those who tried to give up on the Trial of Zakkart and leave.
This was how the challengers from the outside of the Boundary Mountain Range had fallen – by giving up out of fatigue.
“That’s how it is. Do you understand?” Isla concluded.
But Eleanora didn’t look convinced. “That’s not what I wanted you to explain. I’m asking why Vandalieu is holding your chain!”
She pointed at Vandalieu, who was floating in the air with Flight with Isla’s chain in both hands, doing something with it.
“I don’t know why you are questioning this. As a servant, it is only natural for my master, Vandalieu-sama, to command me! If you are dissatisfied, perhaps you should ask him to hold your chain or leash, too. Ah, excuse me, you don’t have a collar or chain, do you? Then it can’t be helped. What a pity,” said Isla with her chest puffed out as she showed off her collar and chain.
“Kuh!” Eleanora bit her finger in frustration.
“No, I’m just making alchemical changes to the chain. I’m not taking Isla for a walk. Also, the thing on Eleanora’s neck is a choker,” Vandalieu calmly pointed out as he made changes to the Death Iron chain.
Isla’s chain was strangely short, which was why Vandalieu was flying next to her.
“You look like a balloon,” Darcia remarked as she looked at him.
This was apparently a pleasant scene for her.
“I do not think that Isla’s interpretation of this Dungeon is entirely wrong. However, it does raise some questions,” said Zadiris in a serious tone, behind where sparks were flying between Isla and Eleanora.
“Questions?” repeated Iris.
“Yes. Among the riddles we have faced so far, there were some that would have been difficult to answer correctly even if one possessed the correct information regarding Zakkart and the others. I wonder how the first challengers from within the Boundary Mountain Range cleared them.”
Vandalieu and his companions had information from those who had faced the trial previously, but the first ones to face it wouldn’t have had any information at all. Even if they knew the purpose for which Gufadgarn had created the Dungeon, wouldn’t it have been impossible for them to answer every riddle correctly?
“The first challengers were the Dark Elf king Gizan-dono and other knowledgeable individuals such as the Noble-born Vampires who are secluded in Vida’s Resting Grounds,” said Iris, remembering the words of her second father Godwin and the other Majin who had faced the trial before. “Thus, they were able to clear most of the riddles… Father boasted that when they were wrong, he and some others made their way through with their physical strength alone.”
“I see. It was a golden team made of the Boundary Mountain Range’s intelligent people, such as the specialists regarding the champions, and the most powerful fighters. That makes sense,” said Zadiris.
As Isla said, even if the riddles were answered incorrectly, it was possible to proceed as long as the challengers could overcome the monsters and traps that appeared. Godwin and his companions would have gleefully slaughtered the monsters and destroyed the traps calmly.
And then they had passed on their information and experiences to the challengers who came after them.
“I am more interested in the Five-colored Blades, the ones who are said to be the only challengers from the outside to return from the trial alive,” said Basdia, joining in on the conversation.
But even Iris didn’t know anything about that. “It seemed that they did not release any details regarding the Trial of Zakkart, so… the only thing that I have heard is that they told everyone that those weaker than them would only die meaningless deaths in the trial,” she said.
“I see,” said Basdia. “Well, Van should be able to ask Gufadgarn or the spirits of those who have died in the Dungeon.”
As she said that, the stairs leading to the next floor came into sight.
And so, the party cleared about thirty floors in ten days.