The Giant’s Last Moments
The ground shook underneath, accompanied by a rumbling that echoed throughout the place. The giant was on a rampage, trying to climb out of the ditch, gouging out the earth to create footholds. It didn’t seem like it received much damage from the fall. Hikaru took out the Holy Mana Ball wrapped in velvet from his bag.
Hikaru winced at the ear-piercing roar.
「I knew it. It’s after this.」
The key to the technology from the ancient dynasty of Poelnsinia was the holy mana. Hikaru guessed holy mana to be similar to electricity. After seeing the revolver, it was not hard to surmise that someone from Earth was trying to recreate modern science in this world.
What was the Holy Mana Ball, then? His best guess was a “battery” with stored holy mana i.e. electricity. No, it was more than that. After all, it was this small device that gave power to the whole castle.
The treasure room was bright a while ago. But after the giant attacked – after they left the room, it turned dark. If the light’s power supply was cut off, it was natural to assume that it was because Hikaru removed the ball. It was still bright when he took the revolver, though. That only meant that after he shoved the ball into his bag, there was still some leftover power running.
Then there was the giant. Hikaru thought it attacked them, who were under the effects of Stealth, but if it was after the Holy Mana Ball, then everything made sense. The treasure room itself must’ve concealed the presence of everything inside. The moment he opened the door, the giant immediately knew where the ball was. At the same time, it noticed someone – Hikaru – closing in on the device, so it approached carefully.
After that, his Group Obfuscation wasn’t as effective because of the Holy Mana Ball he was carrying. The giant was chasing something even brighter than a magic lamp.
「You’re after this, right?」
The Holy Mana Ball was a mass of energy. Hikaru didn’t know why the giant wanted it. He only knew that if he parted with it, the giant wouldn’t follow them anymore. Or it still would. But it didn’t matter. If he let go of it, he could use his Stealth once more.
「Lavia, step aside.」
She moved twenty meters away from Hikaru. After seeing her took distance, he unwrapped the velvet and showed it to the rampaging giant. In it was a square object, sparks darting about inside it. Even though “Ball” was in its name, it was actually shaped like a square.
Something that gives power… Please don’t tell me it’s a nuclear generator.
Carrying it around would do more than just expose him to radiation. Hikaru threw the device at the giant, velvet and all. Slowly, it made a parabolic trajectory.
The giant’s head moved. It was looking at the Holy Mana Ball.
「I didn’t say anything about returning it, though!」
Hikaru aimed his revolver at the Holy Mana Ball and pulled the trigger.
The Root Hubbard Adventurers Guild was quieter than usual. Rather, a chilly atmosphere permeated the room.
「There’s many adventurers here! Is there anyone who wants to accompany me to the Underground City of the Ancient Gods?! I said I’ll give a hefty reward!」Gafrasti said, raising his leather pouch filled with coins.
But the adventurers’ reaction was worse than he expected. They had heard his conversation with the C-ranked adventurers he was with.
「We can’t really throw away our lives for money…」
「Those rank C adventurers really hated the job.」
「There’s a new monster, right? Even rank C adventurers couldn’t react in time. What did it do again? Steal a map?」
「I’m concerned about how it disappeared afterwards, leaving the map behind. It’s hard to deal with intelligent monsters.」
People thought that the young adventurer who sneaked close to Gafrasti and stole his file was a new kind of monster, for some reason. That was part of the reason why the rank C adventurers didn’t want to go further. Gafrasti was displeased with the cowardly adventurers.
「Is it the money? If it’s not enough, I can…」
Aglaia, who was standing behind Gafrasti like a shadow, tapped his arms lightly.
「Let’s go outside. I sense something strange.」
Gafrasti trusted Aglaia’s hunch. As soon as he heard what she had to say, they stalked out of the guild. The only thing that mattered to him was the Underground City of the Ancient Gods. He glanced at the direction of the dungeon.
There was still plenty of daylight left. In other words, the sky was bright. And yet he could see a dragon-shaped lightning soaring towards the heavens.
Something happened. That much he was certain.
「Let’s go, Aglaia!」
They headed to the dungeon entrance without any adventurers with them.
「Ugh… Damn it… What the hell was that?」Covered in dust, Hikaru slowly stood up.
「I’m over here, Lavia. Are you okay?」
「What about you?」
Clouds of dust still whirled around them, but Lavia rushed to his side. Hikaru checked his body in the meantime. It hurt in places, but his bones weren’t broken. Soon the dust settled.
They were both dumbfounded at the scene before their eyes. The ditch was half-destroyed. The outer walls, just like the castle itself, had pretty much collapsed as well.
Hikaru recalled what happened earlier. From his revolver, he shot a light so pure that it almost felt divine. He had expected that, in a sense. So far, he’d fired ice (water), rock (earth), fire, and lightning (air). There were six bullets. The last two would then be “holy” and “evil”.
But what happened afterwards was totally unexpected. The bullet shattered the Holy Mana Ball. The next moment, a thick electric current – how that fit inside such a small device was a mystery – burst out, gushing incessantly like some kind of a waterfall. It coiled itself around the giant’s body and killed it. Hikaru felt his soul rank go up, but he didn’t care about it at that point. The current swelled. He ran with all he got and Lavia followed his example.
An explosion of light. Everything was too bright, it was difficult to keep their eyes open. The shockwave sent Hikaru flying and rolling on the ground. Surrounded by white light, he saw what he thought was a dragon soaring towards the heavens.
…You broke the seal. Well done, puny human from another world…
Hikaru thought he heard those exact words.
「Lavia, did you hear that dragon say something?」
Lavia cocked her head, clearly oblivious to what he meant.
「Uh, it’s fine. It must’ve been my imagination.」
It wasn’t. But it was still not time to tell her that he was not from this world.
Lavia’s voice was shaking. Hikaru glanced around and saw the undead that had been hiding until now coming out in droves.
「Turn off the lamp!」
It turned dark all of a sudden. Lavia moved closer to Hikaru. He embraced her and activated Group Obfuscation. But the monsters didn’t actually have their eyes on them – they just walked on forward.
Wait, I can see them with my naked eye?
Hikaru realized he could see the buildings even though it was dark. He looked up at the dungeon’s ceiling – at the skies. The dragon earlier had torn a hole above. It was high enough that there wasn’t a lot of light, but still better than complete darkness.
Undead streamed from the city and the collapsed castle. They all gathered in one spot, by the edge of the crater. Standing still, the monsters looked down at the Holy Mana Ball… No.
They were looking down at the giant that turned them into undead.
That thing’s decay attack was something else. We managed to somehow dodge it by hiding. But these people weren’t so lucky and were all turned into undead. Although there’s no evidence the giant marched directly to town…
Hikaru had a guess.
Perhaps… the giant had enough power to turn everyone into undead without fail. But it could only use it once? Or maybe there’s someone else up there controlling it?
He shook his head slightly.
There’s no point thinking about it. This all happened six centuries ago.
They watched the undead without saying a word. The countless undead gathered around the crater just watched in silence as well. Did they resent the giant even after death? Or did they have something to say to the giant, or to the one who created it?
Light shone on one area of the crater, and from there, it looked as if believers were offering their condolences towards a fallen saint who had passed away, unable to fulfill his ambitions.
「Let’s go, Lavia.」
Turning their backs on the ruins of the castle, they walked away. They passed by undead in town making their way towards the crater. With Group Obfuscation on, they didn’t notice the two of them. Green slimes, monsters that weren’t humans, hid themselves. Mana detection couldn’t even see them.
After about two hours of walking, Hikaru finally spoke. They had not met another undead for a while.
「…This is bad.」
The air seemed to warp. A rumbling sound echoed in the distance.
「This place might collapse.」
It might’ve been the dragon tearing up a hole above, or Hikaru taking the Holy Mana Ball and destroying it. Either way, the sound of something collapsing came from afar. It didn’t stop. The whole ceiling was collapsing.
Spurring on their exhausted bodies, they broke into a run. Lavia looked like she was having a really hard time keeping up, so Hikaru secretly added one point on her Stamina. She had more energy now.
By the time they made it back to the entrance – one of the private houses – the sounds of crumbling became clearer. Fortunately, it came from the direction of the castle.
Hikaru used his Mana Detection to survey the surrounding, but no one – not one adventurer – was around. There should have been adventurers besides them who were exploring the dungeon. They must’ve realized something was wrong and escaped.
Lavia entered the narrow passage that led to the mausoleum, and Hikaru followed. He looked back one last time.
「I thought I’d learn a lot of things if I explored the dungeon. Mysteries would be unraveled and I’d obtain vast treasures. I thought that was the best part of dungeon clearing.」
The rumbling was getting closer. He could feel the vibration on the wall through his hand.
「But that was not that case at all. I had no idea what that giant was. We found this holy mana thing, an unknown technology. And in the end, the dungeon’s collapsing.」
「…Yeah. It was really different from the novels I’ve read.」
Hikaru turned his back to the dungeon and started on the path back to the surface. A few levels up, they met each other’s gaze.
「What is it?」
「I want to take a bath.」
「It’s been a while. I want to soak in some hot water in a bathtub. I’m all dirty.」
Lavia smiled softly.「You sure like to indulge yourself once in a while, huh?」she said.
「Would you like to join me?」
Lavia quickly turned around and started walking.
「Are you mad? Sorry.」Hikaru apologized.
「Let’s pick up the pace. This passage might collapse as well.」
「…We can’t take a bath if we’re caved in.」
「Uh, what did you say?」
「Wait… Wait for me!」
Right after after they arrived at the mausoleum, a strong wind blew through the passage. The entrance must’ve been blocked then.
Hikaru’s first dungeon exploration finally came to an end.