Chapter 43. Event Dungeon (6)
As we walked further forward, the forest became more and more like a vast plain. How could a forest become a plain?
It was simple. You just had to put a bunch of spiders in the forest along with Mastiford. With that, you'll be able to see the forest become a plain with your very eyes. More precisely, the forest would become a field of ash.
"Mastiford-ssi, are you fine on mana?"
"Yea, light flames like these don't use up much mana. Impressive, right?"
"Yeah, it's impressive."
"H-Hmph! Even if you honestly praise my ability now, I have no intention of letting you enter my organization!"
"No, I'm telling you, I don't want to."
"I wonder why." I mumbled.
Why were all girls around me so strange? There was Yua, who was strange as her cuteness went beyond the realm of humans, Palludia, who after seeing me only once 4 years ago, shamelessly asked me to climb to the 25th floor in just three months, Su Ye-Eun, who had a bigger monsterphobia than ordinary people even with her cheaty stealth ability, and Mastiford, who I couldn't tell if she wanted to fight me or draw me into her organization... and Loretta too.
Loretta was too complicated a person, no, elf, to describe in just one sentence.
Mastiford who was excitedly setting the forest ablaze suddenly frowned.
"It won't burn."
It was true. In contrast to the barren surroundings, there was one area of black trees where her flames could not invade. She tried once again using her sun-yellow flame, but it was only enough to burn a few branches of the trees. The black trees were clearly special.
Suddenly, black smoke began to rise amongst the trees. It was as if the trees were calling us.
"Mastiford-ssi, we should go in. It doesn't look like we can burn them."
"B-But! What if a spider falls from above!?"
"Then just burn the spider to your heart's content."
"Eeek! You think I won't!?"
She became angry at my words and produced a white flame this time. I was curious what rank her different colored flames were classified as, but I decided to just watch for now.
The white flame she shot out flew like an arrow and seemed to envelope the entire forest, but before we noticed, it suddenly disappeared. It was almost like...
"I don't think your flames are the problem. Doesn't it look like the trees are absorbing the mana?"
"You're right. The trees got bigger too."
With that, Mastiford bit on her lips, drawing blood. She then used the blood to draw something on her palm.
"Tsk. I'm forced to use a skill. Hmph, I don't like it. Go, Flame Beast!"
I doubted my eyes. Blue flames erupted from her palm and took the form of a tiger as big as the giant spider from before.
"If you had a skill like that, why didn't you use it before?"
"I have to concentrate to use it, so I couldn't use it staring at the spiders."
"Don't say that so proudly!"
The giant blue flame tiger wagged its tail once, then ran toward the black tree forest. Meanwhile, we dealt with the spiders appearing from the flat earth. As they did not appear from hard-to-see trees, but from an open field, we didn't even break a sweat dealing with them.
When the tiger reached the forest, it swiped at the tree with its huge front paw. This time, there was a reaction! As the attack wasn't purely made of mana, containing some of the tiger's physical strength, the tree broke and fell. The tiger seemed excited as it set its fire ablaze and rampaged. Suddenly, however, something swooped down and pounced on the tiger.
"It has a name!?"
I wanted to ask just what part of that 4 meter tall tiger was cute, but now was not the time. A spider leg that suddenly popped out from the black trees had pierced the tiger's body. The huge spider leg, which looked sharper than blades, then dealt a second and third blow without giving the tiger any chance to escape. In the end, the tiger disappeared into flames. Mastiford's eyes were set aflame.
"You dare kill my Cutie, I won't forgive you! I shall transform a piece of my soul into an undefeatable army! Army of Flames!"
Mastiford chanted in rage. Although I thought the chant was cringy, father thought it was cool. Soon, the temperature around us shot up, and flame incarnations like the tiger Cutie began to appear around us. Tiger, lion, bear, wolf, leopard, elephant, eagle, hawk, owl... the entire animal kingdom was here.
"Oh, it's the animal kingdom."
To my dismay, father had thought the exact same thing. Mastiford quickly turned around and glared at father, then ordered the animal king... the Army of Flames.
"Burn up all the spiders in that forest!"
The animal army answered with their own cries and charged at the forest. Seeing the army, I understood why she was an SS-rank ability user. Who could possibly fight an army of intelligent flame incarnations? If they were my enemies, the result would be tragic.
Just like that, the rampage of the animal army began. Their goal, to destroy the forest. If this was a movie, it would undoubtedly be a blockbuster. An army of animals destroying the environment and the flame witch commanding them.
But there was one animal who did not join in on the environmental destruction, but was instead wagging its tail on Mastiford's shoulder. The other animals were white or red, but this one was made of blue flames. Mastiford seemed to have noticed my gaze as she said, "Isn't my Cutie cute?"
"Is it the same one?"
"Yeah. It's smaller now because it was reverse-summoned once."
When it was big, it looked like a tiger. Now that it was small, it was more like a cat. Flame Witch and her pet flame cat. It was the perfect picture.
Kuk, for someone who looked like an evil witch commanding her demon soldiers, how could she look so lovely now...? I shook my head and looked away to prevent myself from being sucked in by her charming appearance. My body then stiffened.
Rather than shrinking, the black forest was expanding!
The barren ground became dyed in black. Seeds sprouted up and grew to black trees in an instant. The black earth continued to expand and approached where we were. Although the animal army roared and set the trees on fire, spider webs that endlessly shot out from the trees restrained them as sharp spider legs cut them in half. Every time the army went down in number, the black forest's rate of expansion was increasing.
A deafening shriek rang out from the forest. At the same time, a killing intent sharper than razor blades shot out toward us. There was no doubt. The owner of the forest had locked onto us.
"Mastiford-ssi, cancel your skill! They're only fertilizer for the forest at this point!"
"Kuuuk... Sorry, guys! Big Bang!"
Our shouts and Mastiford's judgement were both swift. The moment she yelled Big Bang, an explosive boom rang out. It was undoubtedly a self-destruction skill. All the animals besides Cutie, who was standing on Mastiford's shoulder, had exploded!
The result was enough to instantly shrink the expanding forest. At the same time, a sharp shriek flew out.
"Everyone prepare for battle! Minami-ssi, protect Mastiford-ssi!"
"G-Got it! Haap, Guardian!"
Minami shouted something and she began to shine with a golden light. I was curious as to what skill she used, but I decided not to look her way as the light was almost blinding.
Father and I stood on guard on the left and right side respectfully when suddenly something flew toward us.
[It's poisonous! The spider web is poisonous!]
"It's poisonous, be careful everyone!"
Thanking Peika for warning me, I punched at the spider web and burned it up with Peika's lightning. Not one or two streams of spider webs, but hundreds flew toward us consecutively. Damn, if collected, there were enough to make several shirts!
Mastiford also created a few balls of flames in mid air, and was freely controlling them to burn up incoming spider webs. Father consecutively shot out light shockwaves and exploded spider webs mid flight. Watching it, I realized people's abilities could be used in various ways. I thought to develop new ways to use my ability as an Elementalist.
By the time all the spider webs had been leisurely taken care of, someone's voice flowed out.
[Ah, humans. I finally meet you.]
Because the voice was so sweet, I stopped moving for an instant. Where was this voice coming from? Who's was it? I was shaking just by hearing the voice.
[Come, come to my embrace.]
I raised my head. Everyone else did so as well. That's where the owner of the voice was.
From beyond the burnt up trees, the abdomen of a spider appeared. It was slightly bigger than the giant spider from before at about 5 meters, but on the place where the spider's thorax should be, there was something one would not expect to see on a spider.
[Spider Den's boss monster, Arachne, appeared! Defeating Arachne and clearing the dungeon will grant special rewards!]
[Come, hurry. I will give you everything you desire.]
"A girl...?" Father quietly whispered.
Yes, it was a human. An extremely beautiful one at that. She had flowing black hair and a pair of big eyes. The irises which carried a web shape left a deep impression.
It was a beauty that could not exist in reality. A mystical, illusionary beauty.
She had the power to grasp people's attention and not let go. Without wearing any clothes, her seductive figure was hard to describe with words...!
[Master, snap out of it!]
The moment Peika's shout rang out in my head, I bit down on my cheek. Although it bled, it roused me completely. Thinking that I was about to run into its embrace, I couldn't help but get goosebumps all over me. Not to mention, the temptation had not ended yet!
However, with my years of experience as an explorer, I knew what I had to do now. It was something that never let me down once!
"Ut!? Who'd fall for it!? A mere monster, you're a hundred years too early to try and seduce me!"
[You used Orc Lord's Warcry! All party members are cleansed of negative status effects. All party members' attack power increases by 50 percent for the duration. All party members become super-armored, unfazed by enemy attacks.]
In that instant, my somewhat hazy mind became clear. The girl on the spider's abdomen was certainly beautiful, but it was still a monster. How could anyone be mesmerized by a girl with a spider body and spider legs!?
"W-What!? I, just what happened?"
"M-Monster! It's a monster!"
"... Huk! W-Wife! I'm sorry!"
Father, we're going to need to have a deep conversation about this later!