“We’re still not at the final floor?”
Pulverizing a Wight Lancer coming her way with an ice pebble, Tamaki complained.
“Stop complaining and keep on doing your job, Shield.”
Which is why I decided to snap the whip and keep her going.
“Don’t call me that! How could you treat me like that back there… I only had three hundred stamina left!”
“It turned out fine. You can do a lot of things in three minutes yeah? Like defeating a monster like that Light Giant.”
“You could have told her to wait out those three minutes, too.”
“Shuri!? Wouldn’t I have died if he did that!?”
“Yui. I have told you before, but be more polite towards Daichi.”
Shuri had splendidly taken control of the topic like it was nothing.
“But… come on, think about it, Shuri. He’s that Katsuragi, right? The clumsy, fat, underhanded nerd. I keep trying to figure out what’s going on, but Shuri, you could definitely find someone way—”
Shuri interrupted Tamaki, her tone more serious than usually. The fact that it held an anger to it was obvious.
“You don’t know about Katsuragi’s kindness. You don’t know Katsuragi’s strength. You don’t know Katsuragi’s suffering. None of us, not even me, even attempted to get to know Katsuragi.”
“Even if Katsuragi returned to looking like how Katsuragi used to, I am confident that my feelings for him wouldn’t change. This is not me atoning for anything, no. It is how I honestly feel. I love Katsuragi.”
Shuri came over and locked arms with me. Her expression looked truly happy. Accordingly, Tamaki wasn’t able to say anything in return.
“Which is why I won’t forgive you if you continue to speak bad about him.”
Shuri’s sharp glare pierced through Tamaki.
“I absolutely will not forgive you.”
She repeated herself, this time more forcibly.
Tamaki kept her mouth closed. She kept quiet. She might’ve finally started to realize just how strong Shuri’s feelings were.
And that it was stronger than her feeling of friendship with Tamaki.
… I mean, it’s even making me feel embarrassed.
Everyone stayed silent and the mood grew awkward. It’d be great if this doesn’t end up influencing our teamwork in the upcoming fight against Fantra.
… Well, I guess I can just use Absolute Command on her if push comes to shove.
“… Sorry, Shuri. I still don’t get it.”
Saying that, Tamaki went back to exterminating monsters, restarting our dungeon conquer march.
For the first time since coming here, a dark cloud seemed to hang over us.
“Finally at the seventieth floor, huh.”
I muttered to myself, feeling mixed emotions. Rigal Den stopped at the sixtieth floor, so this was the first time I’d been so deep.
The stairway room for this floor was easy enough to find.
Fantra’s mana was pouring out of it, after all. His mana was strong enough that it wouldn’t lose to the crystals’ mana.
I could tell he was extraordinary from the density of the mana and Leadred seemed to be convinced.
With her leading the way, we came across a pair of doors with a very different style than the ones before. They really did look just like a set of modern doors.
There were even doorknobs on them.
I’d like to know what’s going on.
“… Hey, Leadred.”
“This Fantra dude, you said he’s a tactician right?”
“It’s as you say.”
“Then what’s up with these doors?”
Leadred sat down, her hands holding her head. Looks like she didn’t expect this either.
Giving your position away to your enemies was generally not a very good idea.
I even started thinking that it may be because of Fantra’s strategies that the demons lost the war.
“… Can we hurry up? I want to get back to the surface as soon as possible.”
“… Weren’t you supposed to be a hero?”
“Oh come on. There’s no way I would’ve expected us to do this all in one go. Besides, you could probably take him on yourself with that strength of yours right? You could even revive if you die.”
“I mean, wouldn’t it be better to have Shuri watch you do it all too, Katsuragi? That way, you could do whatever without needing to worry about her.”
“I didn’t ask for you to step in, Yui.”
“Shuri, your safety is all I care about. Getting you to give up Katsuragi would make me happy enough to jump around in glee.”
“I want to be beside Daichi forever. I won’t regret my decision, even if my weakness causes my death.”
“Is he forcing you to say that? Shuri, you’re really acting weird.”
“I know I am, but I don’t care anymore. I’m not going to let anyone hold me back. I’m going to do what I want. Besides, didn’t I tell you?”
Shuri pointed her dagger at Tamaki.
“I said I wouldn’t forgive you if you insulted Daichi again.”
They stared at each other, their emotions refusing one another… This is bad.
“Let it go.”
I grabbed Shuri’s hand and Leadred placed the tip of her war sword against Tamaki’s nape to de-escalate the situation.
“Now’s not the time to be infighting like this. Don’t worry about what she says about me. Besides, I don’t want you to dirty your hands over something so trivial.”
Saying that, Shuri reluctantly withdrew.
I’m no longer interested in Tamaki. If she dies during the fight, good. If she lives, good.
If I can make use of her, good.
I used Absolute Command on Tamaki. Forcing her to shut up, I had her grasp the door knob.
“Tamaki. You’ll be spearheading our attack. Sound good?”
She shook her head back and forth frantically.
She’d prepared a Freezing Lance in her right hand. Leadred was on standby to her left. Shuri and I would jump in the moment she opens the door, followed by Tamaki launching her Freezing Lance. That was the plan.
“At worst, are you ready to die?”
The three nodded. Seeing that, I began the countdown.
“Three, two, one—let’s go!”
Pushing on both doors, they opened internally. Seeing that, we all jumped in.
However, inside, there was a problem with the floor.
That is, it wasn’t there.
“””” Uaaaaah!? “”””
With no place to land, we all screamed as we well. We couldn’t see the bottom because of how dark it was.
The light illuminated the area, but the hole seemed to continue on forever.
“Everyone, join hands!”
We all grabbed the hand of whoever we were next to so that we could form into a circle and avoid scattering.
We continued falling for a while, but we could eventually see the end.
—The ground was filled with needles made of the same crystals and ice we’d seen so far.
We’d definitely all be wiped out by that if we hit. However, fortunately, they were made of ice.
And it just so happened that one of my slaves was an expert at fire-type magic.
Letting go of mine and Shuri’s hands, she kicked off the wall to get far enough away from us that we wouldn’t take damage from what she was about to do.
She began to recite the incantation of a magic that would solve our predicament.
“O’ emperor of fire. Burn down everything that blocks my way. Leave nothing standing, reduce all to ash.”
A red glow swirled around Leadred’s right arm before turning into a spiral of fire that would burn everything.
“Pillar of Prominence!”
The blaze ravenously devoured the ice. In just a moment’s time, the ice needles all vanished.
I used Berserk Tempest, a magic one rank higher than the one Leadred used, to put out the burning flames.
With that danger taken care of, Leadred put her arms up to somersault forward and absorb the blow.
“Shield! Soften Shuri’s fall!”
I imitated Leadred and managed to succeed in landing. As a result of Tamaki giving it her all to protect Shuri, she was unharmed.
Shield was probably happy about finally being able to help Shuri, too.
“Sh-Shuri. Are you hurt? Are you alright?”
“Y-Yeah. Somehow. How about you, Yui?”
“I killed our momentum by layering layers of ice under us before hitting the ground, so I’m alright. I’m just happy you’re not hurt.”
Tamaki’s smile was one from her heart.
She was lying, though. She didn’t manage to negate the fall’s impact with her ice by much. I saw the look of pain on her face when she landed.
Shuri should’ve been aware of that as well.
Which was why she was extending her hand to Tamaki to help her up.
Even I was aware that I was getting envious over seeing them like that.
Maybe I might’ve kept Tamaki instead of throwing her away because I wanted to see interactions like that?
I’d like to have a same-sex friend like that some day. Though of course, Samejima or any of my classmates would be impossible.
Leadred’s Leadred, but she’s still a woman.
“If you’re safe, that’s good. Now come on, the person behind that trap is making his appearance.”