Chapter 15: The Dungeon Core
“…A secret door? I’ve never heard of anything like this…”
Brandt mutters, his gaze fixed on the hole.
Regina and Hoyle both stare at the hole, stunned, but Anastasia recalls the events of her previous life and braces herself.
Anastasia deduced that it was a passageway to the dungeon’s core room, the dungeon’s heart.
Shin the Hero referred to it as [the boss room]. That’s probably because the dungeon’s core was guarded by a powerful demon.
Demons, unlike monsters, do not possess magic stones. Except for their black wings, they are a different race that looks similar to humans. Their magical power and fighting ability, however, were far greater than that of humans.
“… Perhaps there are stronger enemies ahead…”
Anastasia warns, keeping her guard up.
The strength of the demon guarding the dungeon core is proportional to the dungeon’s difficulty. They probably won’t be as strong in this dungeon, but they should be a lot stronger than the monsters they encountered.
—I used [search] and [trap detection] magic spells toward the passageway, but there was no particular reaction, but one must be on one’s guard.
“Well, I don’t sense anything from the passage; I don’t know what lies ahead—we have to proceed with caution.”
Brandt appears to have used the same magic spell as Anastasia.
They exchange nods before entering the hole.
“I-I get it…”
“That’s right… At the very least, I’ll be able to defend myself…”
Hoyle and Regina entered the hole with a nervous nod.
The corridors inside appeared to be similar to those in the previous corridors.
There was only one straight path ahead, and there were no monsters. They walked on in silence until they reached a large open space.
They finally arrived, and Anastasia is ready to deploy the magic formula at any moment.
“…Is anyone else here?”
However, not a single monster or demon can be found.
Anastasia looks around, wondering if this isn’t the boss’s room yet.
“The Dungeon Core…”
However, in the back, there was a pedestal with a faintly glowing yellow orb floating on it.
—I’ve seen it many times in my previous life; it’s unmistakably a dungeon core.
She approached the dungeon core with caution, but there was no sign of anyone there even when she arrived.
“The Dungeon core? The source of the dungeon? I’ve heard stories about it, but do you think this is it?”
Brandt approaches and expresses his doubts with astonishment.
Regina and Hoyle arrive later and look at the dungeon core.
“You can’t be serious… Dungeon cores are a fairy tale, even among hunters…”
“… I’ve heard stories about heroes destroying dungeon cores in order to seal monsters… Is this the dungeon core…?”
The dungeon core stands there as the four of them stare at it.
Every room with a dungeon core had a demon in it in Anastasia’s previous life, and there was always a battle. She’d defeat them, shatter the dungeon cores, and take the knowledge they held.
But no one is in this room.
Anastasia is perplexed for the first time, but then she recalls Shin the Hero’s words [half-dead dungeon].
This could explain why there are no longer any demons.
“But if this is a dungeon core…. what are we supposed to do now?”
Hoyle’s skepticism was probably shared by everyone.
In her past life, Anastasia also broke a lot of dungeon cores to stop a monster outbreak, but that is not the case now.
But, in the future, should we destroy the dungeon core while we still have the opportunity?
“…No more monsters will be created if the dungeon is destroyed—the dungeon will gradually lose its power as a dungeon and collapse.”
“Isn’t that a shame? It will be a major issue if the dungeons vanish.”
“Yes, this place is used as a beginner’s dungeon—if the monsters vanish, we won’t be able to obtain magic stones anymore, and this will have a significant impact on beginner hunters and magicians who require magic stones.”
As Anastasia explains, both Hoyle and Brandt are against the destruction.
It would be natural for the hunters not to do anything if there was no monster outbreak.
“… What do we get if we destroy the dungeon core?”
Regina joins in with a slightly different point of view.
“It is said that stored knowledge can be obtained when you shatter its core… I’m not sure that’s true.
Anastasia’s response is a little vague.
It was a ruse, but it was also true that she was unsure if it was true.
She was confident she could draw on her wealth of knowledge from her previous life, but that was in a dungeon with a demon. She was not sure if this [half-dead dungeon] would apply.
”Knowledge… Of course, you can’t put it back together after you’ve destroyed it. I think it’s safe to leave it alone…”
Regina appears to be disappointed, but the odds appear to be heavily in favor of not destroying it.
Anastasia has no reason to actively destroy it in its current state, either.
They all look at each other and nod in agreement that it should be left alone.
“…You’re an expert on these subjects. And you employ strange and wonderful magic spells—how did you know all this?”
Hoyle asks curiously.
Anastasia is perplexed for a moment.
But if she honestly answers that she knows because she experienced it in her previous life, she will appear crazy.
“Actually… I come from a rather unique family in the Holy Kingdom of Selestia…”
Anastasia responds with some hazy information.
That’s not why she knows about dungeon cores and magic spells, but the words themselves are true.
“It’s the hero’s birthplace, after all—what is the backstory?”
“The Celestial Selestia, legend has it, gave the Holy Kingdom its name and knowledge; she was said to be a heavenly messenger with silver wings who practiced a variety of magical spells.”
Hoyle and Regina seemed convinced.
Anastasia is relieved, but their interest has been piqued in a different direction. They both appear to want to ask her more questions.
Anastasia is perplexed. She is concerned that revealing more about her background will cause her close friends to distance themselves from her.
“Is there any connection between this unique family and heroes or celestial beings? By any chance…”
“Let’s leave it there—If you keep coming at Anastasia like this, you’ll get her in trouble. Instead, if you want to leave the dungeon core alone, you should return early before anyone else arrives.”
Hoyle’s attempt to ask a more detailed question was cut off by Brandt.
His voice was soft, but it had an unstoppable force.
“…Yeah, you’re right… It is dangerous to take things too lightly—we don’t want to lose the dungeon if someone arrives later and does something unusual.”
“Well… That’s right… let’s go back quickly.”
A bit startled, Hoyle and Regina agree.
The four of them then return the way they came, leaving the dungeon core behind.
Anastasia softly calls out as she approaches Brandt, who is walking in front of her.
Perhaps he had noticed Anastasia was in trouble and was helping her?
Anastasia’s thoughts are confirmed by Brandt’s soft smile.
“Everyone has their own circumstances… I only have one question for you.”
Brandt looks at Anastasia after a brief pause.
“Anastasia, you’re not a demon, are you?”
His face was still bright, but his voice was icy. His violet eyes were emotionless, as if they swallowed everything like a void.
Anastasia is so frightened that she almost comes to a halt.
Anastasia, who has even faced the Demon Lord before, is pressed down by the pressure. Surprised, Anastasia concentrates and tries to pull herself together.
“No, I’m human, and demons are my enemies.”
Anastasia regains her composure and responds truthfully.
Brandt’s tense atmosphere dissipates at that point, and he is as relaxed as ever.
“I understand. I’m sorry for asking you such a strange question.”
He was completely back to his normal self the next time he opened his mouth.
Still, a vague sense of unease remained with Anastasia at the unfathomable hatred Brandt had shown her.