Chapter 121: Countermeasures
Tennoji and the others went up to the sixty-second level through the cave entrance and hurried to the waiting Seekers.
The ‘red dungeon’ with unobstructed daylight.
The explorers who were waiting for us had set up simple eaves and tents to protect themselves from the direct sunlight.
In the sweltering heat, they notice the returning members of the Thunder Beast’s Roar. But there are ten of them. They’re the same as when they left.
What happened to the Aqua Blade? the Seekers raise their eyebrows.
“What’s wrong, Tennoji? What’s wrong?
The one who approached me was Osaka, the leader of Rosario, the explorer clan of the Farmer Corporation.
Tennoji and the other explorers who went to the sixty-third level are all looking down and pale as if they’ve lost their vitality.
Osaka wondered what was going on.
“… They’ve all been killed.”
What? The Aqua Blade?
Osaka’s eyes widen in surprise at Tennoji’s words.
What’s going on? Tennoji?
“There were mutant demons. One of them was really strong… And there were more Hellgalms and goblins than reported. No… Maybe there are more!
The other explorer clans begin to gather, and a circle of people forms around Tennoji.
What are you gonna do? We’re just gonna sit here and wait for them to come at us?
Tennoji shakes his head at Osaka’s question.
“No… Let’s go back to the 50th level and regroup.
Tennoji and the others all return to their lodgings on the 50th level. They put the material carriers into the iron door storage room and had a talk with the leaders of the Clan of Explorers who were standing by.
“You mean there’s going to be a fight here?”
We can’t take on Hell Garm and the Ogre by ourselves!
Seeker-seekers from mid-sized companies have naturally voiced their dissatisfaction.
“Of course we’ll deal with the demons of the depths. And whether or not we’re going to fight them here is still up in the air.
Tennoji had stationed several Seekers with radios as liaison between the sixty and fifty levels.
We don’t know if they’ll come up the levels or not… and even if they do we don’t know how many they’ll bring. If only a few of them come up, we’ll smite them in the last fifty levels.
That was Tennoji’s idea, but–
“… All the demons are coming up…”
Tennoji’s shoulders slump at the mention of the Seeker who came to report. I had expected this, but this is the worst situation imaginable.
“Yes, and their numbers are growing. There are ten Hell-garms and over a hundred goblins, including some orcs.
Tennoji frowns. They aren’t deep level demons, but they are pig-headed humanoid demons in a very deep level. If there are enough of them, it might be tough for a B-rank Seeker.
“And… I heard that the Red Ogre is also at the center of the group.”
I knew you’d come.
An ogre mutant. A demon that defeated the Aqua Blade, a clan of top explorers.
Tennoji didn’t think he would lose. But considering the other demons, there would be many Seeker-Seekers who would lose their lives.
Tennoji looks up and looks around at the others gathered.
Let’s go up. I don’t know how far up they’ll go. The higher we go the less mana we’ll have… and the worse it’ll be for the demons. We should consider fighting them on the ground if the worst comes to the worst.
“Wait a minute, Tennoji! This dungeon’s leaking mana right now! There’s a chance it won’t make much difference if we go up there.
It was Ishikawa who objected. Many people agreed with his opinion and rejected Tennoji’s idea.
“Of course I know that. But that doesn’t change the fact that we have the advantage.”
What do you mean?
Rosario Osaka asks unconvincingly.
“Above this dungeon is the city of seekers. There are many Seeker Seekers waiting for you. Most of them are low-ranked, but with the help of a few mid-level Seeker Seekers they should be able to take on the goblins and orcs. Meanwhile, we, the higher-ranked Seeker Clan, will take down Hell-Garm and the Ogre!”
“But what if we go above ground and they escape? Remember all the trouble we caused when we let one Hel-Garm escape?
Ishikawa yells at him… but Tennoji says “I won’t let you go…” Tennoji smiles confidently.
Honda-san’s up there. He’s the one who’s going to take the perfect countermeasure. He’s already sent one of the Seeker Seekers running upstairs so we can focus on defeating the [Demon of the Deep].”
Ishikawa and Osaka are silent when Tennoji speaks. But now Kurashiki, the leader of Kagurazaka Pharmaceutical’s clan ‘Ashura’ opens up.
“On the other hand, if the mana on the ground is thin, won’t it make it harder for us to use magic and put us at a disadvantage? In fact, I heard that the last time we let Hell Garm escape, the Seeker Seekers who were on the defensive couldn’t show off their abilities!”
Kurashiki glances at Ishikawa.
“In that case, wouldn’t a demon with a higher physical ability have an advantage?”
That’s a fair point, but Tennoji denies it.
“That’s all right too. If magic is difficult to use in this environment… the demons’ power will weaken. Then the SDF’s firearms will be more powerful. They seem to have more powerful weapons than last time. Our advantage is still unshakable.
Everyone falls silent. Tennoji takes that as agreement.
Let’s get started. We’ll proceed upstairs as the demons progress!”
Five hours later, when the sun had set, Honda received an unexpected report.
“What? An ogre mutant? You’re telling me that this thing killed all of Aqua Blade?
Honda’s face clouded in disbelief when he heard the story in his office in the Chuo Center Building.
Leaning back in chair, eyelids closed, fingers crossed.
After a few moments of silent contemplation, he opens his eyelids and looks at the Seeker who has come to report to him with a serious expression.
So… What about Tennoji?
“Yes. He said he’ll leave the materials at the 50th level and ascend the levels while checking the movement of the demons.”
–You want me to get ready while you buy yourself some time. Good God, you’re still a hard man to please.
“Okay. We’ll take care of the rest. You get some rest.
As the explorer who had come to report left the room, Honda let out a deep sigh.
–A mutant ogre… No… No.