Sunday, 30 June 2019

Ch 150 Tondemo Skill de Isekai Hourou Meshi

Chapter 150 -- Offerings, Delayed

Right then, now we had returned from the dungeon it was time for me to make offerings to the Gods and Goddesses. "Ehhh, can you hear me?" When I called out I received an immediate reply, or rather several overlapping complaints and demands which amounted to the same thing.

"Oh oh oh, I've been waiting ever so long you know."

"You've finally returned, have you?"

"C'mon, I'm dying of thirst here."

", quick"

"Ooooh, I'm tired of waiting."

"Where were you? Booze, booze, hurry hurry."

......Well, it looks like they were all eagerly waiting for me to return safely. Nice to be wanted, I suppose.

"You should hurry up and give me what I want, you know!" Ah, Deplorable Goddess-sama, how wonderful it is to hear your screeching voice once again. How I've missed it ringing in my ears these past ten days... "You, I saw you eating that 'Ice Cream' food in the dungeon! What is it?! Why did you hide such delicious sweetness from me! I want to eat it too you know!!" So Ninril-sama had been keeping a close eye on me, it seemed. Little Miss Nosey-Parker-sama can't resist snooping on me, can she?

"Yes yes, I understand." I agreed. The sooner I placated her and got her offering sorted the better. "Since Ninril-sama will want sweets as usual I'll add some ice cream to the offerings."

"That's right, you know." Ninril-sama agreed smugly. "Sweets as usual and don't forget the dorayaki, of course."

Yeah yeah, I got you. I opened Net Super and picked out some ice cream first. This one aaaaand... this one? A six-cup family pack with three different flavours of soft-serve ice cream and another family pack of six chocolate-coated ice cream bars. I bought dorayaki and other cakes and confectionery up to the limit of three silver coins and put them in the cart.

"Next please." I announced, thinking if I ever returned to my own world and needed to find a part-time job then I'd be a shoo-in for a konbini sales clerk position...

"That will be me." says Kishar-sama. "That expensive cream you offered last time was soooo good! Just as you said it had a rich variety of ingredients. Can you send me an expensive lotion just like it, please?"

Fuhaha, she was acting just like my elder sister, becoming addicted to more and more expensive cosmetics and on top of that I'm supposed to make recommendations about something I have no real information about? How would I really know how well these creams and lotions work, after all... Well, if it's got a big price tag then I suppose it's going to be better quality, like wagyu domestic beef costs more than discount meat in the supermarket chiller.

Lessee, I searched Net Super, looking up my purchase history to find the name of the beauty cream I had bought for Kishar-sama last time. Sure enough there was a matching lotion, three silver coins for a single small tube which I put in my shopping cart for her. I wondered if my sister would have settled for something that cost that little, I could see other items on the Net Super's "recommended" pages priced a lot higher. It would probably not be a good idea to let Kishar-sama know I was comparing her spending habits to my sister's, I decided. The Net Super's range of beauty products seemed to be a bit limited though compared to the range of items I had seen my sister purchase. A real cosmetics store would carry a wider range of more expensive items, I supposed but in this world I only had access to what the Net Super had on offer, of course.

"Next is...?"

"It's me." said Agni-sama, taking her usual place in the queue. "I want booze of course, different types like the last time. Whatever you choose is okay by me." Booze, of course. This time I chose a lot of foreign alcohol for her, beers as well as wine and a bottle of American whiskey to make it up to 3 silver coins worth.

"Next..." That would be Ruka-sama, of course.

"Food and sweets." came her oddly child-like voice. "Oh, and I want to eat ice cream too."

Ah Ruka-sama, I'm totally out of pre-cooked food so I'll have to get everything from the Net Super this time. I ordered up the same ice-cream selection as I had chosen for Deplorable-sama earlier then added beef croquettes and ham cutlet, fried chicken, stir-fried shrimp in chili sauce, macaroni au graitin and completed her offering with the usual bread and confectionery to make it up to three silver coins. Done. Next up would be the boozehound double-act...

"Hephaestus-sama and Vulcan-sama, you're next." I said somewhat brusquely, eyeing the soft futon on the bed where Sui-chan was fast asleep. Soon, soon...

"Yep, it's our turn." Hephaestus-sama said. The two Gods co-operated to get what they wanted from my offerings and shared their spoils amicably, unlike the four bickering Goddesses. "I want something like last time, other world guy. Whisky for my share. War God here says he wants vodka."

"Oh, that vodka booze is really good to drink." Vulcan-sama chimed in. "Really hits the spot, it does."

Oh, these two guy-samas really like to drink, they pour it down their throats like I would drink a cup of tea. I mostly drink beer myself but I sometimes have stronger drinks, vodka mixers usually. Drinking the stuff straight like these two did wasn't to my taste but we're all different, I supposed. I searched the Net Super's listings and found three reasonably-priced bottles of whisky from different places around the world and added them to the cart before looking through the vodkas on offer. There weren't that many though but I found two bottles of vodka, one from Russia and one from Sweden that fit the price limit and added them to the cart. Done. I pushed coins into the Net Super's interface until the bill was paid and a large clinking cardboard box materialised in front of me.

I arranged my usual set of cardboard altars (I had scribbled the name of a God or Goddess on the front of each altar using a marker, just in case using the wrong altars might annoy the Deplora- uh, deities in question) before sorting out the delivery and piling each set of offerings on the correct altar. "Oh yeah Ninril-sama and Ruka-sama, ice cream is like ice and will melt if it isn't kept cold." I added.

"I understand, you know."

"... (nodding vigorously)"

"That's okay then, Gods and Goddesses, please receive my offerings." I said tiredly, watching the items on the cardboard altars disappear to an accompaniment of loud cheers and girlish squeals (ah, Kishar-sama...?) The loudest voice was clearly Hephaestus-sama's.

"Yahoo! Booze, booze, booze at last! Been a long time since we got any, hey War God?"

"You said it, Heffy. Today's the day we drink plenty, you betcha." his companion replied.

You're going to party as soon as you get alcohol? That's... I shrugged as the voices died away. It would be better for them to take their time and not drink it all immediately but I didn't care, it was out of my hands and I doubted any of them would take my advice anyway. I yawned and stretched before putting the altars away in my Item Box for the next time I made offerings. I was worn-out and decided to just go to bed and leave everything else for tomorrow. The dungeon drops needed counting and listing for sale and that was going to be a pain, especially that sword... Bed, bed, bed. I moved Sui-chan over and I was asleep ten seconds after I lay down on the futon.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Ch 149 Tondemo Skill de Isekai Hourou Meshi

Chapter 149 -- Long-Time Best Seller

Because we had been trapped by Elland-san for so long as he dragged the details of our dungeon exploration out of me we had all missed lunch, and now it was time for dinner. We hurried back to the inn to eat while the Gluttonous Trio bitched and moaned about how they were starving to death and I should feed them right now, you hear and...

Something quick and easy to shut them up, I decided. I still had one meal's worth of cooked rice left in my Item Box so it was going to be a rice bowl with meat again, but I'd change the meats around and add some sauce and dressings for variety's sake.

I opened up Net Super and bought daikon radish sprouts and lots of ready-made yakiniku sauce, my personal favourite of the assorted grilled meat sauces you can buy. I've tried most of the others but this particular one, a long-time best seller hits the spot for me, sweet and rich with a taste I never get tired of.

I started with Bloody Horn Bull meat, cut somewhat thicker than usual for stir-fry so it would remain a bit rare in the middle after I cooked it quickly in oil in a very hot frying-pan. Once the meat was seared on all sides and properly sealed I added the yakiniku sauce and stirred it in to coat the meat pieces, and done, super-easy like I said. Half-fill three deep bowls with cooked rice, top them off with generous amounts of the sauce-coated meat and a garnish of raw diakon sprouts, put them down and step quickly back to avoid being trampled in the rush as Fer, Dora-chan and Sui-chan launched their simultaneous attack.

 Wow, they're really hungry, I thought to myself as I started cooking the next serving. It was basically the same dish but this time I used Wyvern meat instead of Bloody Horn Bull. I had the freshly-loaded rice bowls ready just in time for the three-fold call of """Seconds""" to resound -- even little Dora-chan was not full up after his first helping, having missed lunch earlier. There wasn't quite the same rush to the feeding trough this time and they slowed down enough to notice details about what they were eating.

"Mm, this is a different kind of meat." Fer said telepathically, his muzzle deep in the dish before him.

"Yeah, the previous meat was Bloody Horn Bull, I made it using Wyvern meat this time round." I explained.

"This sauce doesn't go well with the Wyvern meat." Fer complained but I noticed he didn't stop eating it. "It was great with the other meat, the Bloody Horn Bull meat." I sighed, thinking that Fer had developed quite picky tastes in the few months I had known him considering he had spent the previous thousand years eating meat raw and bloody.

"Any kind of meat tastes superb when cooked with this sauce." I retorted, defending my choice of yakiniku sauce to go with the Wyvern meat, or any meat really, even lesser-quality meat...

"Well then, let's put that to the test." Fer said, pushing his empty bowl towards me with his muzzle. "I want Earth Dragon meat next." You're wanting what? We had only eaten the Earth Dragon meat as steaks, cooking it in sauce and serving it over rice was almost sacreligious...

"You're going to eat THAT meat?" Dora-chan interrupted. "I'll have some of that as well."

"Sui will eat too-"

They all knew how good the meat of the Earth Dragon tasted, but I was intrigued by the idea and suddenly wanted to try eating it myself with my favourite yakiniku sauce. Hmmm... So, I made Earth Dragon grilled meat rice bowls with long-time best seller yakiniku sauce for the Gluttonous Trio and myself (naturally). "Here it is." I said, putting down a rice bowl topped with Earth Dragon meat and sauce for all three (Dora-chan's bowl was smaller than the others).

We had already eaten substantial amounts of Bloody Horn Bull meat and Wyvern meat, I thought I was full up but just looking at my own dish caused me to salivate, the sauce-coated Dragon meat piled thickly on top of the glossy white rice, and the smell... I couldn't help myself and started to dig in, munch munch munch oh my...

I thought the Dragon steaks I had eaten before were the best things ever but the combination of the yakiniku sauce and the rice magnified the taste of the grilled Dragon meat. Before I could think to slow down and savour each mouthful my bowl was empty. What? Where did it go? I cast a suspicious eye at Fer and the others, had they used some sort of Teleportation magic spell while I wasn't looking but no, they were still eagerly eating from their own dishes of grilled Dragon meat over rice. I looked at the bottom of my empty bowl, finally admitting to myself...

"I ate it. I ate it all. It was delicious..." Honestly, it might have been the best meat dish I had ever eaten. The collaboration between the Earth Dragon's meat and the grilled meat sauce was just too too delicious. Another one? No, no, I shook my head. I might explode. It was tempting though, so very very tempting. Just then Fer and Sui finished their own bowls and, of course, demanded ""Seconds!""

 I refilled their bowls again and again before they admitted defeat and finished eating. After tidying up I did a quick inventory check and discovered only two-thirds of the Earth Dragon's meat remained. Had we really eaten a third of it already? We had eaten some Dragon steaks at Elland-san's house, more steaks in the dungeon once and again after we left and then the grilled Dragon meat just now, were those really the only times? I'd have to be more careful in the future, I decided, this rare and precious Earth Dragon meat was so tasty it could all be gone before we noticed and who knew when we'd get more.

Everyone's belly being full it was time for bed. Fer and Dora-chan settled down on their futons in the beast stables at the back of the inn while I took Sui-chan up to our room. I laid out a futon and put the sleeping Sui-chan down on the bed but I still had something to do before I could join her. It was a pain but I knew how bothersome THOSE guys got when they said I was late...

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Ch 148 Tondemo Skill de Isekai Hourou Meshi

Chapter 148 -- Dragged Off To The Adventurers Guild

The next day it was time to return to the surface. As a celebration for conquering the dungeon Fer insisted that breakfast would be Dragon steaks. I had my own Dragon steak with a bowl of rice since I still couldn't face steak on its own, not for breakfast anyway. It still tasted really delicious, of course. We took a short break after eating then it was finally time to leave the dungeon.

"Shall we return to the surface now?" I looked around, making sure we hadn't left anything or anyone behind. I didn't want to have to come back down here again to collect any lost property or missing children.

"Umu, let's go." Fer said, still licking his muzzle, chasing the last vestiges of gravy from his third Dragon steak. Dora-chan flew over and hugged my back while I held Sui firmly in both arms as I straddled Fer's back. Goodbye dungeon, I thought to myself as Fer poured magical power into the Teleportation spell drawn on the wall and everything went black. After a moment of falling in the darkness we were suddenly standing on a magic circle drawn on the floor of a small room, maybe 4 tatami mats in size and surrounded by stone walls.

I looked around, puzzled. "Where's the exit..." I said as I climbed down from Fer's back.

"Last time I did this," Fer said, "a door opened when I left the magic circle." Oh? As we stepped out of the complex pattern on the floor one of the stone walls moved aside with a grinding noise, letting bright daylight flood in. It had been ten days since we had seen real daylight and I blinked, it seemed too bright for a moment before my eyes adjusted.

"Right then, will we head back to the inn?" I said as we walked out of the small room. I had reserved our room back at the inn before we left for the dungeon, it should still be waiting for us was my thinking. However when we exited we discovered the doorway was right next to the dungeon's entrance where, of course, there were lots of people around, the guards at the gateway, Adventurers waiting to enter the dungeon, Merchants and stallholders and we were suddenly the centre of a lot of unwanted attention. Please don't stare like that, please don't point at us, please please please don't shout at us...

I hurriedly put Sui-chan in her bag. "Let's get out of here, quick." I said to Fer and Dora-chan as I started to push our way through the crowds forming around us but it was too late.

"H- Hey, wait a minute." One of the knights on guard at the dungeon entrance stopped us. "You lot, where did you come from? That doorway wasn't there before!" Ummm, you see... I was frantically thinking of an excuse that would let us get away when...

"It's the way out from the dungeon's final level." Fer announced in a loud voice to the whole crowd. "We defeated Behemoth." Oh Fer, why did you have to say that, I was going to talk our way out of here. Well, once I came up with a good excuse... Fer's announcement that we had defeated Behemoth spread through the crowd and the noise level increased even further.

"Q- Quick, call the Guild staff!"

"No, get the Guild Master here!"

"Yeah, go and fetch the Guild Master!!!"

"Hurry, hurry!!"

The entrance guards told us to stay where we were until the Guild Master came to speak to us. I thought of asking Fer to just push past them so we could leave, they weren't going to be able to stop him after all but I knew that would cause us more problems later if he did. I sighed as I resigned myself to the situation and we settled down to wait, trying to ignore the crowds around us and their shouted questions while the guards attempted to maintain some kind of order and prevent us from being mobbed. After a while, I heard a familiar voice ringing over the noise of the crowd.

"Mukouda-saaan!!!" Elland-san, don't shout my name so loudly, please? Everyone can hear you...

"Mukouda-saaan!!!" I could see the tall Elvish figure of Elland-san now, forcefully pushing his way through the crowd and waving his hand while continuing to call out my name loudly. The guards stepped back respectfully as Doran's Guild Master broke through the final ring of interested onlookers.

"Ha ha, Mukouda-san, I knew you could do it!" Elland-san said as he grabbed my hand excitedly and pumped it vigorously, nearly throwing me off my feet. Hey, Elland-san, that hurts.

He looked around distractedly for a moment. "Ah, where's Dora-chan?" The Pixie Dragon had carefully tucked himself out of sight behind Fer's wide back, having been warned by the sound of the Guild Master's voice that it was time to hide. "Anyway, I tried to follow you into the dungeon several times..." Eh, were you actually trying to follow us? I shuddered to think of how much trouble that could have caused us...

"However the Deputy Guild Master always stopped me and I eventually gave up trying to get away from him." Elland-san said with a sad look on his face. Ah, Doran's Deputy Guild Master, was that the overweight bald man I had seen once in passing at the Guild's offices, that time Elland-san had dragged me off to his house to cook Dragon steaks for him? Good job, Deputy Guild Master, good job.

"Anyway, that's all in the past." Elland-san clapped me on the shoulder. Ouch. "I want to hear all about it from you so let's go to the Adventurers Guild straight away. Come on, let's hurry." We weren't going to make it back to the inn right away, it seemed as we were led off towards the main offices of the Adventurers Guild by Elland-san.

* * * * *

Soon after we were seated in Elland-san's room at the Adventurers Guild. "So, what was the dungeon like?" Elland-san asked eagerly, paper and pen to hand.

"What was it like?" I echoed, thinking hard. There was a lot to describe, but... "You also went to the last level and saw Behemoth, right?" Elland-san had been a member of the only party of Adventurers before us to reach the thirtieth level of Doran's dungeon, surely he knew what the dungeon was like from personal experience?

"Yes, I reached the thirtieth level," Elland-san said, "but the drop items and goods from treasure chests you collected will be different from our time exploring the dungeon." He leaned forward eagerly. "So what did you get?"

Ah, drops and treasures, yes but we had collected so many of them. I hadn't sorted through our haul and I had no idea how much in total we had collected never mind the quantities of each type.

"Oh I see, the drops and such would change over time." I said. "But there's so much..." Should I ask Elland-san if I could unload everything from my Item Box onto his office floor so he could count them himself? Would there be enough space for everything? Some of the boss drops like the skins were huge...

"Yes, that's true. I'm only interested in getting an idea of the sorts of drops and such, especially in the last levels." Elland-san looked at a sheet of paper on the table. "From my own records and from the reports of other Adventurers the dungeon drops are mostly skins up to the twenty-first level and skins are still commonly dropped up to the twenty-sixth level at least." As Elland-san said we had collected a lot of skins, thinking back. I nodded in agreement.

"You see, I would like to buy all those skins for the Adventurers Guild." he went on. "This is a Dungeon City and there's a great demand for monster skins locally as material to make armour with. In addition skins from dungeon drops are especially prized as they're stronger than skins taken from monsters subjugated on the surface." Oh, I see. Well, we had plenty of Ogre, Orc, Troll and Minotaur skins and if the Guild wanted to buy them all I'd be happy to sell them.

Elland-san looked at another paper. "Treasure chests can be expected to appear from, let me see, the 20th level onwards but was that your experience? Then if you defeat Spriggans sometimes you could expect a few chests to contain gemstones and magic items. I'd like to buy them too."

Elland-san, you've faced Behemoth, you know a lot about this dungeon. I sometimes forgot that the over-enthusiastic Dragon-obsessed Elf sitting across the table from me had been an S-ranked Adventurer in his time and now he was the Guild Master of this Dungeon City. I gathered my thoughts. Let's see...

"There were a few treasure chests and we got the contents of all of them. There were also some Mimics," Elland-san nodded to indicate he knew what a Mimic was, "and one of them dropped a jewel box." There were a lot of gems in the treasure chests and since I'm not female they don't hold any real interest for me. If the Guild wants to buy them then I'll gladly sell them all to you. Magic items, well I was going to hold on to the Ring of Magic Recovery I was currently wearing but I'd have to think carefully about the other items before offering them up for sale.

"Treasure chests were more common on the 26th level and afterwards." I told him. "Although we didn't really explore a lot of the forest areas in the 26th and 27th levels. Let's see, the 28th level was the swamp and we didn't stop to collect any drops other than from the boss at the end. The 29th level was a desert, of course and the widest and most difficult level for us to deal with." The forest levels were a lot better than the marsh and desert levels but they had still been a pain to get through. Field levels in a dungeon are not fair.

"Huh? Wait a minute, what did you say now?" Elland-san blurted out, obviously surprised by something I had said.

What had I said? "Ummm, I told you treasure chests turned up more from the 26th level onwards?"

"No, not that!"

No? "I said we didn't explore the forests in the 26th and 27th levels too thoroughly, is that it?"

"No, no no! After that!" Elland-san was getting more and more excited for some reason.

Was it this part? "I mentioned the 28th swamp level and how difficult it was to get through the 29th level desert?"

"Yes, yes, there! That part!" Elland-san frantically scanned one piece of paper, snatched up another from the table and then another. "Swamp?! Desert?! There's no-" He dropped the papers and stood up, starting to mutter to himself as he paced back and forth. What was wrong? After a few seconds Elland-san returned and dropped into his chair, sighing heavily before explaining what had caused his confusion. It turned out, when Elland-san and his party of Adventurers had reached the final level they hadn't encountered a swamp or desert level in their travels through the dungeon. Every level between the 26th and the 29th had been forested areas. It had taken them more than a month to get through those four forest levels. The very few high-ranking Adventurer parties that had made it beyond the 25th level in the past had only encountered forest levels too, according to the Guild's records.

"What happened to you after arriving at the 26th level? Tell me about it, tell me everything." he demanded, taking up his pen again. I looked at Elland-san's serious expression and sat up straight as I answered his questions in as much detail as I could remember about the levels, the monsters and the bosses we had encountered while he made copious notes. We spent quite a long time doing this and the shadows outside his office windows were starting to darken before he was satisfied. Finally he put down his pen and shuffled the bundles of papers on the table into some sort of order.

"That's enough for today, Mukouda-san." Elland-san said. "I'd like to thank you on behalf of the Guild for this information. Knowing what Doran's dungeon is really like, how it's changing is important to us, especially in the deeper levels where very few have ever been." He bowed his head to me. "What you have told us today could save the lives of Guild members in the future." I felt embarrassed at his words and humble too in some way. I was only a member of the Adventurers Guild because it was the best place to get monsters disassembled to feed my contracted beasts, why was the head of the local Guild bowing his head to me, a mere C-ranked Adventurer? I coughed.

 "Oh, we haven't decided yet what dungeon drops we're going sell to the Guild and it's getting late." I changed the subject. "I'll come back again soon and we can sort that out then."

Elland-san nodded, his eyes still fixed on the piles of paper on the table before him. "Please do. I'm going to be busy for a while with the information you have provided us with today, Mukouda-san. I look forward to you coming back soon."

An Guild assistant came to collect us when Elland-san called and they led us to the front door. Thus we were finally able to leave the Adventurer's Guild and return to our inn.

Later, I found out, an announcement was made by the Guild that Doran's dungeon had been reclassified as a high-difficulty dungeon due to the newly-discovered fact that the last few levels were known to have changed over time and might change again in the future.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Ch 147 Tondemo Skill de Isekai Hourou Meshi

Chapter 147 -- S- Something Amazing Appeared

After teleporting to the 30th level we found ourselves in an immense domed room maybe 300 metres in diameter. On the other side of the room from where we arrived was a gigantic monster, a rhinoceros-like dark-skinned creature about the size of a trailer-truck with a gleaming horn on its nose.

"Gruo-o-o-o-o" It instantly let out a cry, we had been spotted.

 That creature, what was it? It seemed to be alone but every other level had several monsters for us to defeat. However this monster was on a different scale to anything we had encountered before, could it be...

"That monster over there is Behemoth." Fer said with both satisfaction and excitement in his voice. "Be careful everybody."

So it WAS Behemoth. But why were we being thrown straight into a fight with the level boss, the dungeon boss in fact? I thought it was going to be the same as all the other levels, we'd arrive at the start of a level and fight lesser monsters on the way to where the boss would be waiting for us. Facing Behemoth right away like this, it's way too early! Damn, I had planned to feed everyone lots of food from the Net Super to gain status bonuses before we fought the dungeon boss but now that was impossible, the battle was imminent.

The huge figure of Behemoth across the room pawed at the floor with a forefoot like the beginning of a bullfight, preparing to charge at us.

"It's coming." Fer said. Yes, I can see that Fer...

"Gruo-o-o-o-o" Behemoth roared again and then it rushed towards us, its hooves crashing like thunder on the stone floor of the room. It wasn't fast but its rush looked unstoppable.

"Dora, Sui, listen to me!" Fer said quickly, never taking his eyes off the charging monstrosity. "Physical attacks like ramming and magic attacks are not very effective against Behemoth. They work a little bit but it's a very tough monster and can regenerate so you have to keep your attacks going, don't stop until it's defeated. Its own attacks are powerful but it can't defend itself well or dodge easily. Don't get trapped against the sides of the room, fight it in the centre so you can manoeuvre around it and dodge any of its attacks." Fer tensed as Behemoth approached the middle of the room, then sprang forward to meet it. "Let's go!"

"So just attack it and then attack it some more?" Dora-chan said, lifting off my back and flying after Fer. "Sounds good to me!"

Sui-chan popped out of her bag and pyonged after the other two battle maniacs. "Sui will buzz buzz and and use Water magic on it too!-"

Fast-flying Dora-chan was first to reach the approaching monster, bombarding it with Lightning magic, Crash! Flash! but with no perceivable effect as the magic bolts seemed to bounce off Behemoth's shiny skin.

"Uwaah!" Dora-chan cried as he swerved away from the monster. "This guy's skin is way too hard!"

 Just how difficult was it going to be to penetrate that skin, I wondered. Fer had made a point of warning my other two companion monsters about it but his own Lightning magic had dealt a one-hit kill to a Mithril-skinned Metal Lizard. Did he think even his ultra-strong attacks couldn't easily defeat this monster? Behemoth was going to be the toughest foe we had ever encountered by far, it seemed.

Next to attack was Sui-chan, firing Acid Bullets from a distance, Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! All the Bullets hit Behemoth which didn't even try to evade them but as it got closer it was clear to see Sui's incredibly strong acid had little or no effect on Behemoth's shiny hide. What was it made of?

"Ah? It didn't melt-" Sui-chan complained, pyonging off to one side out of the line of Behemoth's charge as Fer finally got in range, firing off his super-powered Wind and Lightning magic in continuous bursts -- Whoosh! Crash! Whoosh! Crash!

"Gruuuh, Gruoo" Behemoth came to a stop and shook its immense body, obviously hurt by Fer's attack but it still didn't seem to have taken much physical damage.

"Dora, Sui, don't stop attacking!" Fer commanded as he launched another series of his own Lightning and Wind magic attacks at the monster's giant head.


"Got it-"

Dora-chan unleashed a flurry of Ice Spears at Behemoth but they shattered ineffectually on Behemoth's hard skin while Sui-chan fired off more Acid Bullets, Pyu Pyu Pyu! trying to concentrate her aim on a smaller area of the monster's hide. This time there was some effect as smoke rose from where the cluster of Acid Bullets had hit but it was still not enough, I could see, it was barely a scorch. Sui-chan changed to Water Cutter, precisely hitting the smouldering section of Behemoth skin with her Water magic and YES! I could see a slice appear in the beast's thick acid-scarred skin.

"Gurruuuh!" Behemoth was hurt now, bellowing and pawing the ground in anger as it tossed its head, looking around for its attacker, then it opened its mouth wide.

"Its breath!" Fer shouted. "Watch out for its breath!" I saw a red glow develop in Behemoth's open mouth and we all dodged away from its direct line of fire, guessing what was coming next.

"Gruaaarrr-" Behemoth spat out a terrifically hot flame from its open mouth. I could feel the heat even at a distance from where the scorching flame hit the floor and wall of the room. If it had caught me even my bones would have been cremated. As the fire petered out and before Behemoth could launch another such attack I spoke quickly to Fer.

"Behemoth skin that's been damaged by acid can be cut more easily!" I pointed to the area on Behemoth's side where Sui-chan's Water Cutter had sliced through the creature's hide. It was healing up as I watched but it had been cut at least slightly. Fer turned his head to look then issued orders to his subordinates.

"Sui, fire Acid Bullets at Behemoth, a lot of them at the same spot! Dora, attack that area with your Wind magic and cut into it!"

"Yoh!" Dora-chan swung round to the same side of the monster Fer and Sui-chan were positioned, to concentrate their efforts.

"Sui, fire lots of Acid Bullets now!" Fer ordered.

 Sui-chan trembled for a moment as she used her Growth skill to suddenly become a Big Slime before she fired off dozens, hundreds of Acid Bullets at Behemoth which stood frozen in the middle of the room, obviously surprised at the appearance of the new form of one of its opponents. Pyu, Pyu, Pyu- Behemoth roared in pain as an area of its side was coated thickly by Big Slime Sui-chan's machine-gun delivery of Acid Bullets, its skin steaming and bubbling from the assault.

"Yes! Now, Dora, hit it right there with your Wind Cutter!" Fer ordered as he launched his own magical assault at Behemoth's weakened side.

Slash! Whoosh! Slash! Whoosh! Dora-chan launched Wind Cutter attacks at the smoking side of Behemoth as Fer unleashed his Claw Slash, chopping into the acid-weakened skin and dealing significant damage to the monster at last.

"Gruaah, Gurwaaaaa" Behemoth cried in pain, shaking and stamping its feet but neither Dora-chan or Fer relented in their attacks.

"Sui, shoot more Acid Bullets! Now!" Fer commanded. Big Slime Sui-chan complied, spraying Behemoth's side with a storm of Acid Bullets again, Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! Pyu! Pyu!

"Groooo-o-o-o-o-o-o" Behemoth groaned, it was weakening! Yes! I suddenly understood Fer's plan-- Sui-chan's Acid Bullets were driving deeply into Behemoth's body through the gaping wounds in its skin caused by the continuous Claw Slash and Wind Cutter attacks of Fer and Dora-chan. Behemoth trembled, its head dropping and Fer stopped his Claw Slash attacks, bracing himself before he unleashed a mighty Lightning magic attack that hurt my eyes and ears, directed straight into the wounded side of Behemoth.

CRASH!!! Flash flash flash flash--- the lightning bolts left a purple afterimage in my abused eyeballs as Fer's maximum effort knifed into the giant monster's body and then Behemoth, the mighty near-invulnerable final boss of Doran's famous dungeon... collapsed to one side, dead. I let out a breath I didn't realise I had been holding.

"Yatta-! We beat it!!!" Sui-chan, still a Big Slime was pyonging in triumph around the fallen Behemoth, an amazing sight given their comparative sizes.

"Hyaho! We beat Behemoth!!" Dora-chan was delightedly spinning and tumbling in the air above the dead Behemoth.

"Quiet down, you two. It's no big deal, of course we beat it." Fer admonished but there was a gleam in his eye and a satisfied expression on his face that belied his cool words.

"Oh, everyone was amazing." I congratulated the three of them. "Defeating a monster that strong, well not everyone could have done it."

It really was an amazing feat, to subjugate such a monster but given the powers of my three companion monsters the outcome wasn't really a surprise once we figured out how to combine their efforts to best effectiveness. After that, well, it was no contest. Behemoth only got off one real counter-attack with its fiery breath and we all dodged that easily.

Well, of course a monster in a dungeon can always be defeated if the party facing it are strong enough and Fer, Sui-chan and Dora-chan were easily that strong... Oh, Behemoth just disappeared. What are the drops? Lessee... a truly immense magic stone and a correspondingly immense shiny dark-coloured skin and oh! a large treasure chest richly decorated with gold and jewels. Yosh!

Appraisal first of course, I wasn't going anywhere near a treasure chest as tempting as that in THIS dungeon without checking it out from a safe distance...

[ Treasure Chest of Dungeon Boss ]
A rare-drop treasure chest which appears after the dungeon boss is defeated. There are no traps. Honest.

So that's why it only appeared after we defeated Behemoth, the last boss. My Appraisal said it didn't have any traps either although I was still a little bit suspicious, I must admit. However that wouldn't stop me opening it, which I did. The only item inside was a double-edged sword. When I tried to lift it out of the chest though...

"Wow, this sword is heavy..." I muttered. What was it made of? Time to Appraise it.

[ Demon Sword Caladbolg ]
A cursed sword with Lightning magic attribute. Made of Adamantite.

A WHAT?! And it's made of WHAT?!!! What the... Wow. A cursed magic sword with a name, like Excalibur, and it's made of a metal even rarer than Mithril. If I showed this around anywhere it was going to cause trouble, I was sure of it. Could I not just leave it behind for the next party of Adventurers who defeated Behemoth to deal with? What was I going to do with it?

I stared at the cursed sword for some time then swallowed and resolutely put it away in my Item Box. I'd think about it later, after we got out of the dungeon and back to Doran. Elland-san, he was a swordsman, wasn't he? Maybe he'd be able to give me some advice about it but right now it would be safe in my Item Box. Say hello to Orthros-san and Chimaera-san, Caladbolg-san... What? The treasure chest hadn't disappeared after I removed the contents as all the other treasure chests I had looted had. That must mean it was also a drop item and looking at it again the gold metalwork and jewels on it meant it had to be worth a lot, I supposed. I tucked the chest away in my Item Box as well. But that sword...

"Hey, I'm getting really hungry." Fer's voice interrupted my thoughts, letting me know about something more important at least as far as he was concerned. A sword was just a sword but his belly was empty and that needed filling right now.

"What the big guy said." Dora-chan added.

"Sui is also hungry-" Of course she would be, after shooting all those Acid Bullets. Sui-chan had returned to her original size while I was trying to work out what to do with the sword. I quickly added the other drops from Behemoth to my Item Box.

"I know you're hungry, Fer but shouldn't we get out of here before Behemoth comes back?" This was a dungeon and its monsters would naturally respawn after they were defeated. Any time we had finished a level by defeating the boss we had left that level immediately afterwards. We had nowhere to go now other than back out of the dungeon since this was the final level. If we waited to eat dinner here...

"Dungeon bosses don't respawn quickly after they are defeated." Fer said authoritatively. "From my experience each dungeon is different but it'll take at least a week before the next dungeon boss appears." Was that so? I supposed if I had lived for a thousand years as Fer had then I'd know that sort of thing too.

 "Of course," Fer added, "the new boss might not be Behemoth since we defeated it already, it could be something harder to beat than that overgrown cow." Fer regarded Behemoth as an 'overgrown cow'? And what would be harder to beat than the sort of monster we had just defeated? I stopped myself from asking him since I didn't want to hear what he might say.

Still, how were we going to get out of here, the thirtieth and final level? How would we get back to the surface, would we really have to retrace our steps back up through all the previous levels? I'd have to buy a lot of food from the Net Super as we went in that case.

"Hey Fer, how do we get back to the surface from here anyway?" I asked.

"We can return to the ground by using the same sort of Teleportation spell as before." Fer indicated the other side of the room, the place where Behemoth had been standing when we arrived. "The pattern for the spell is on the wall over there." Ah, so the final level's Teleportation spell would take us back to the surface. That was good to hear since I wasn't in the mood to fight our way back through the previous twenty-nine levels in reverse.

"Hey, never mind that." Fer grumbled. "Hurry up and cook dinner, you." My other two contracted monsters added their own encouragement. It looked like everyone was hungrier than usual which wasn't that surprising after their battle with the 'overgrown cow' Behemoth.

Something quick then, I've got cooked rice in my Item Box and, let's see, what else is ready to eat... Oh, just shredded cabbage? That's all? Hmmm, how about a pork and cabbage rice bowl with a ready-made salty sauce? That would do...

I opened up Net Super and bought the salty sauce then oiled up a heated frying pan and fried slices of ​​Orc General meat. When the pork was nicely seared I added the sauce and fried it together for a few minutes more before topping large bowls of rice with shredded cabbage and the cooked pork. Done! A little dash of white sesame seeds to taste and it was ready.

"Here you are." I put out the bowls and stood well back. My three contracted monsters dived in and ate with more gusto than usual, was it perhaps because of the magical efforts they had put into fighting Behemoth-san? It had been the hardest fight they had ever faced together after all. I hadn't fought the 'overgrown cow' myself but seeing Fer, Sui-chan and Dora-chan gobbling the pork and rice I started to feel hungry myself so I helped myself to a bowl too, before Fer and Sui-chan demanded ""Seconds"". I seasoned my own salty-sauce pork over rice with ground black pepper since I wanted a sharper taste than white sesame seeds would provide. Yup, it was delicious.

Normally I'd make that sort of sauce from basic ingredients but if I was in a hurry or had run out of salt and lemon juice and the other necessities I'd use a commercially-made sauce. It wasn't a big deal, it was just my preference.

"Puhah, I'm stuffed." said Dora-chan finally, his bowl empty. He collapsed on his back, his little round belly bulging and then fell instantly asleep. He had fought the Giant Sand Golem and then Behemoth in quick succession, no wonder he was tired. Sui-chan and Fer were probably the same, I realised, it had been an exhausting day for all of them.

""Seconds"" Yeah, yeah. I dished up more bowls of salty-sauce pork over rice to Fer and Sui-chan until they were satisfied.

"Well you had a good appetite, you two." I commented as I put away the dishes and cooking utensils.

"Because we fought Behemoth." Fer said, blinking tiredly.

"I was hungry because I pew pewed a lot-" Sui-chan added. Indeed, she had pew pewed Behemoth a lot today.

Thinking back it had been an incredibly busy day for all of us -- we had spent many hours in the desert running through the intense heat towards the 29th level boss while fighting assorted monsters on the way, faced off against the Giant Sand Golem and then dropped immediately into an exhausting battle with Behemoth, the dungeon's final boss. It had been a long time since we woke up this morning.

"Do you want to go back to the surface after a little rest?" I suggested.

"Umu, that's right." Fer agreed tiredly. I glanced over at Dora-chan who was snoring loudly now, obviously fast asleep. Sui-chan had crawled into her bag and would be sleeping like she usually did after eating a big meal. I was tired myself and it was late in the 'day' so I decided on a change of plans.

"Dora-chan's tired out and fast asleep, so is Sui-chan." I told Fer. "You look pretty worn out yourself. I think we should sleep here tonight and go back tomorrow. This is the last level, you said another dungeon boss won't spawn for at least a week and there aren't any other monsters around. It's like a safe area now."

Fer blinked again then nodded. "Sounds like a good idea. Put out the futons, will you?" I dug out some cardboard and futons from my Item Box and laid them out on the stone floor, lifting the sleeping Dora-chan into place as Fer collapsed heavily onto the bedding. He was asleep a few seconds later. I joined them willingly and, comforted by Fer's assurance there was no longer any danger I slept deeply in the dungeon's lowest level for a long time.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Ch 146 Tondemo Skill de Isekai Hourou Meshi

Chapter 146 -- Giant Sand Golem

The desert level's freezing cold night finally came to an end as the "horizon" glowed with the rising "sun". I cooked Bloody Horn Bull steaks for my companions for breakfast but I settled for onigiri rice balls with wakame seaweed and sardines I made for myself. After filling everyone up with more isotonic sports drink we headed off into the hot desert again, to where Fer said the level boss should be waiting for us.

Like the day before we encountered Giant Sand Scorpions and their lesser scorpion mobs as well as Sand Worms but they were easily defeated by Fer and Dora-chan. I collected the drops quickly and we pressed on. We stopped briefly for lunch, tonkatsu rice bowl using the Orc meat I had collected from drops earlier in the dungeon, topped with a light shoyu steak sauce dressing and grated veggies. I bought some high-quality ice cream from the Net Super to finish off the meal.

"Oh, this cold food is delicious." Fer said, "I was getting tired in this heat but this is really helping."

"So cooooool~" Dora-chan announced. "I can feel myself reviving, yay!"

"It's cold and sweet and delicious!~ I want to eat more!" Sui-chan demanded. Yeah yeah, I opened up Net Super and bought more ice cream for the three monsters, and myself of course. The desert heat was intense now even through Fer's Barrier and the cold ice cream really hit the spot.

After taking a short break and topping up with more isotonic sports drinks we pushed on through the seemingly endless desert. As usual Dora-chan was flying ahead of us, scouting out any dangers.

"Hey, a big snake monster's coming!" Dora-chan reported telepathically. We looked ahead where Dora-chan was flying and spotted the threat he had warned us about. Sure enough a really big snake, maybe three metres in diameter and impossibly long was slithering towards us in an odd wriggling manner. What was it?

[ Death Sidewinder ]
A-rank monster.

So how would we fight this A-rank monster? I thought to myself. Maybe Fer could-

"I'll get it! " Dora-chan suddenly announced, diving towards the giant snake. Zash! Dora-chan's Wind magic sliced off the Death Sidewinder's head in a single strike and that was that.

"Amazing, Dora-chan." I congratulated him as he performed his usual celebratory aerobatics. The Death Sidewinder's drop was a magic stone, a Poison Sac and its skin which I put away in my Item Box before we started off again. We ran into more Death Sidewinders as well as Sand Worms and Giant Sand Scorpions as we progressed. The monster fights only really slowed us down because I insisted on waiting for the dead monsters to disappear so I could collect all the drops. The fights themselves only took a second or two.

As Fer had predicted the "sun" started to disappear below the "horizon" before we got to the level's boss so we spent another cold night huddled together in the darkness waiting for the "sun" to rise again over the sandy desert landscape. After breakfast and more isotonic sports drinks we headed off again, collecting more monster drops on the way. As we crested a rise in the sand dunes Fer slowed to a stop.

"There's something up ahead, I can detect..." Fer wrinkled his nose. "It's got to be the level boss. We arrived here quicker than I thought. There's still plenty of time till nightfall so we should just fight him now." As Fer finished speaking the level boss rose from the sand in front of us.

"Gruuahh!" came an ear-shattering roar from the monster, an enormous humanoid figure made of... sand? What-- it had to be twenty metres tall, what was it?

[ Giant Sand Golem ]
S-rank monster.

This level's boss is S-rank just like the bosses of the last few levels? I wasn't surprised but it would have been nice to face a lesser opponent, just once.

"Dora, Sui, let's go-" Fer commanded, bounding towards the Giant Sand Golem as I leapt off his back. Safety first, and I'd just get in the way after all. Even my Mithril sword would have little or no effect on such a monster, I decided.

Dora-chan wrapped his body in powerful Fire magic, eye-blindingly intense even in the desert sunlight as Sui-chan leapt out of her leather bag and pyonged across the sand towards the level boss, following Fer and Dora-chan.

"Hyaah, chaaaarge!" Dora-chan shouted, flying like an incendiary bullet into the Giant Sand Golem's torso. He punched his way through the monster's body, leaving a gaping hole that I could see all the way through... which immediately filled with sand again leaving the Giant Sand Golem intact and undamaged.

"What?" Dora-chan looped back and blasted his way through the Giant Sand Golem's head this time but to no avail as the destroyed area filled up with sand again.

"Dora, don't bother. Its entire body is made of sand. Any holes will be repaired as soon as you make them." Fer said, circling around the monster. The Giant Sand Golem was standing on an endless desert of dry sand, it could probably suck up as much material as it would ever need to repair itself no matter how much physical damage Dora-chan and Fer could inflict on it. It was dry sand, though...

"Water-! Dora-chan, Sui, soak the Giant Sand Golem in water!" I shouted. If it's wet then maybe it can't regenerate itself properly from the dry sand all around.

"Oh yeah, water!" Dora-chan said, his Fire magic disappearing as he hovered above the Giant Sand Golem.

"Sui understands, aruji-" Sui-chan added. Dora-chan and Sui launched Water magic attacks on the Giant Sand Golem, Dora-chan's Water Bullets and Sui-chan's Water Balls punching into the immense figure and solidifying the sand it was made from. When it had absorbed as much water as I thought we would need I shouted to Fer.

"Fer, use your Lightning magic now!" The monster's body was sodden and damp, that should-

"I'm on it." Fer answered tersely.

Crash! Crackle crackle crackle crackle crackle... Fer blasted the Giant Sand Golem's water-soaked head with repeated strikes of Lightning magic, aiming for where, presumably, the monster's brain was located. Did it have a brain? I wondered as the monster staggered around, smoke and dust obscuring its figure. If this didn't work, what should we try next? Did the Net Super sell cement maybe, how many bags would I need to petrify the Giant Sand Golem, how could we get it to stand still while we mixed the wet sand of its body up with the cement? Fer continued to deliver more intense Lightning magic strikes to the immense figure and then...

Crunch! The Giant Sand Golem fell to the sandy ground, breaking apart as it hit the desert floor, its damp body smoking and steaming from the energy of Fer's magic blasts. The impact raised a cloud of desert sand and dust that obscured everything, leaving me coughing and my sight obscured.

"Cough cough cough." I wiped grit and sand from my eyes, looking around worriedly. "Fer, Dora-chan, Sui, are you all right ?!" I called.

"Huh, of course I'm all right, like always." Fer answered peevishly. Yeah, well it wasn't like I was really worried about you after all, Fer. Baka.

"Me too, I'm fine as well-" came Dora-chan's answer.

"Aruji, Sui is okay-" Sui-chan said.

The cloud of dust and smoke around the fallen monster dissipated and I could see everyone was okay even though they were all covered with a whitish coating of sand and grit. I looked down, that included me even though I had been keeping well back from the fight.

"Hahaha, everyone is covered with sand." Dora-chan laughed loudly as he flew triumpantly around the broken remains of the Giant Sand Golem.

"Nuh, you're covered in sand yourself." Fer responded, shaking himself to clear his coat of as much dust and grit as he could. I jumped up and down and beat at my clothes with my hands to try and remove as much of the sand from myself only for more sand to drop on me from the spinning and tumbling flying form of Dora-chan overhead. Sui-chan vibrated her body vigorously and the sand covering her just fell off leaving her gleaming Slime skin spotless in an instant. That was cheating, I though to myself, spitting out some sand that had made it into my mouth.

As we tried to clean ourselves up as best we could the Giant Sand Golem's remains disappeared, leaving a magic stone like a giant eyeball and five diamonds as drops, befitting its S ranking as a boss monster. Yosh!

"There's something else here-" Sui had found something, it seemed. I went over to where Sui-chan was happily pyonging and sure enough, there was a treasure chest half buried in the sand.

"Well spotted, Sui." I praised her.

"Ehehe~" Sui-chan pyonged even more at my words.

Okay, it was a treasure chest. That meant it was time to use Appraisal, a necessity in this sneaky and devious dungeon.

[ Treasure Chest ]
It releases poison gas when opened followed by Wind magic attacks.

Ho hum, yet another poison gas trap? I wondered why all the treasure chests in this dungeon were loaded with poison gas. What was going on? Had Dungeon-san got a special limited-time deal on poison gas traps from its supplier? Would it really hurt to provide treasure chests that can be opened without the risk of me being killed, Dungeon-san? Just once would be nice, that's all I'm saying.

I sighed, so this treasure chest is set to release Wind magic as well. Will that just spread the poison gas, or will it be like a blade, a Wind Cutter spell? Or both? In this dungeon probably both, I decided. Well, okay, I had Perfect Defence and status change invalidation and the traps shouldn't affect me so I should just open it anyway.

Clack went the lock, creak went the hinges as I lifted the lid, Boosh! went the cloud of dark red poison gas. Instant death poison, I presumed, I had no way of truly knowing what sort it was but, well, Dungeon-san was predictable in that regard. All it did was make me cough and obscure my vision. After a couple of seconds, sure enough, chunk! chunk! chunk! chunk! chunk! I felt five blows like light taps on my body, five Wind Cutter blades from the treasure chest's second-stage trap but my Perfect Defence skill prevented any damage. The Wind Cutters dissipated the cloud of poison gas around the area so it was both effects as I had thought. Thank you Dungeon-san...

 Never mind, I thought gleefully, that's the traps out of the way, now what was in the treasure chest? I looked in to see a necklace and a cloth sack as well as a gemstone. I Appraised them one by one as I took them out of the chest.

[ Detoxification Necklace ]
A magic item that invalidates the effects of any and all poisons.

[ Magic Bag (medium) ]
A magic hemp bag that can hold twenty times its size.

[ Yellow Diamond ]
A large teardrop-shaped yellow diamond.

...well, it's not a disappointing haul as such but I already had total status change invalidation so the detoxification necklace wasn't of any direct use to me. For the same reason I had an Item Box skill which seemed to have no capacity limit so the magic bag was no real help either. I'd probably just sell them, I decided, along with the diamond and most of the other drops we had collected once we were back out of the dungeon. I wasn't in any great hurry after all, I could decide what to do with them later.

"Hey are you ready?" Fer interrupted my thoughts. "We're finished here, let's hurry up and get going." He already had his paw on a rock with the magic circle engraved on top. I checked first that Sui-chan was in her bag again, I didn't want to leave her behind by accident as I climbed onto Fer's back. Dora-chan clamped himself onto my back, Fer poured magic energy into the teleport spell and we all descended to the 30th and (presumably) lowest level of this dungeon. Behemoth, here we come.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Ch 145 Tondemo Skill de Isekai Hourou Meshi

Chapter 145 -- Desert Level

"So this is what comes after the swamp level..." I said, looking over the immense sandy desert that spread away in all directions from the starting point of the 29th level.

"This dungeon is getting to be really interesting." Fer mused. No, Fer, 'interesting' isn't the word I would use. We've fought our way through forest levels and a swamp level and now we're faced with a desert level. The differences are coming too fast for me, never mind the high-ranking monsters which attack us all the time.

...anyway it was really hot, the sun hammering down on us from a cloudless sky. Okay, I understood this was a desert level and deserts are supposed to be hot but we were in a dungeon underground somewhere, not in a real desert. It didn't seem fair somehow, that sun up there was really hot. After all it wasn't the real sun, was it?

"This is hot..." Fer said, starting to pant. Dogs couldn't sweat, I remembered, and his heavy fur coat must be trapping the heat.

"Achi..." Dora-chan added telepathically, his mouth wide like a lizard on a hot rock. Dragons were kind of like lizards and lizards liked hot environments, didn't they? but the Pixie Dragon was obviously distressed by the high temperatures in this level.

"It's hot, Aruji..." Sui-chan, how would she cope with this heat? She was a Slime, would she shrivel up and dry out? Sui-chan...

"I'll set up my Barrier for everyone." Fer said. "It'll shield us from some of the heat."

"Eh, will it?" I knew Barrier could stop physical attacks-

"Umu." Fer explained. "It won't block the sunlight directly but Barrier can control the temperature inside itself to some extent." Oh, that's super convenient, I thought to myself. "But this amount of heat..." Fer added. "It's still going to be uncomfortable even with the Barrier, I can't help that but it'll be better than nothing."

Well, Fer's warning that we're going to get hot even with his Barrier in the way meant I should take some precautions against dehydration and sunstroke so I opened up Net Super and bought lots of isotonic drinks and bottled water. As an afterthought I looked for something to block the sunlight, a hat or hooded jacket of some kind. I quickly found a UV-blocking hoodie which I immediately purchased.

"Fer's barrier will deal with some of the heat but we're going to lose a lot of moisture. We need to drink a lot to replenish ourselves and not get dehydrated." I poured a 2-litre bottle of isotonic sports drink into deep dishes and put them down for everyone while I put on the UV hoodie. I had to refill the dishes with more sports drink a couple of times as the heat had already taken a toll on my companions.

"We should head straight for the level boss." Fer said. "It's a big level and it's all sand as far as I can tell, no safe places to stop." I nodded, exploring this level was pointless, it was best to just do what Fer suggested.

"By the way this sort of desert level gets really cold at night." Fer added as I put away the dishes. Ah, so it was like a real desert in that regard too? "I'll run fast without stopping like I did on the last level. Climb on."

I straddled Fer's back with Sui-chan tucked away safely in her leather bag. Dora-chan flew off ahead of us, again acting as a scout to warn us of any danger that might appear as Fer set off across the sands at his usual furious pace.

"Hey, something's coming towards us." Dora-chan reported telepathically after a few minutes. I looked ahead where Dora-chan was flying. What was it? It looked like a lot of red and black dots in the distance.

"What are they..." I couldn't make out any details but the dots were definitely getting closer, obviously aiming to intercept us. When I could finally make out what they were, I was amazed.

"...S, scorpions!" A group of nearly a hundred scorpions, each about a metre or more in length was approaching us.

"Nuu, those are Sand Scorpions." Fer slowed down for some reason. "That means..."

The sand in front of us suddenly erupted and a huge scorpion leapt out in front of us. It was the size of a car, much larger than any of the mob of Sand Scorpions in the distance.

"Uwaaah!" I shouted in surprise.

"As I expected." Fer said, "But this guy's in our way so-"

Dokkon--. Fer's Lightning magic blasted the giant scorpion and it fell dead before us, its carapace smoking. What was it? I quickly Appraised the dead monster.

[ Giant Sand Scorpion ]

An A-rank monster.

An A-ranked monster defeated by Fer's one-hit Lightning magic. Okay, that was good but what about the army of scorpions ahead of us? There had to be at least a hundred of them- I looked up to see the mob of smaller scorpions turning and running away as as fast as they had been approaching us.

"They won't attack us since I just defeated the Giant Sand Scorpion who was controlling them." Fer explained. "I knew there had to be a Giant Sand Scorpion around when I saw the mob of regular Sand Scorpions charging towards us, they do it to distract anyone they encounter and then the Giant Sand Scorpion jumps out and ambushes them in a surprise attack."

Ah, that's how it works? After the Giant Sand Scorpion disappeared, I picked up the magic stone and Poison Stinger that were the drops and deposited them in my Item Box before we headed off again in the direction of the level boss. Shortly thereafter though Fer came to an abrupt stop without warning.

"Hey Fer, why'd you-" I started to ask as Dora-chan came buzzing back towards us but I was interrupted as- "Guuuh!" A giant earthworm-like monster about 10 metres long jumped out of the sand just in front of where Fer had stopped. What was it? I quickly Appraised the monster...

[ Sand Worm ]

An A-rank monster.

The Sand Worm lifted its head, its wide-open round mouth lined with sharp teeth plunging forward as if intending to swallow us whole, it seemed.

"I'll deal with it!" Dora-chan declared as he flew back towards us. Fer dodged the Sand Worm's strike, skipping lithely to one side as the monster's fang-filled mouth hit the sand where we had been standing. While it was distracted Dora-chan's body lit up with Fire magic and he dived straight through the monster's body, erupting out the other side in a spray of blood and guts. The Sand Worm writhed for a few seconds then fell limply to the ground, obviously dead.

"Hehehe, job done." Dora-chan declared, flying around madly, spinning and rolling in celebration and spraying us with assorted bits of Sand Worm gore in the process.

Job done, Dora-chan, as you said. I waited for the Sand Worm's body to disappear so I could collect the drops which this time were a magic stone and some sharp teeth and then we headed off again. Along the way we encountered more Giant Sand Scorpions accompanied by their scorpion mobs and we were attacked by Sand Worms a few times as well but Fer and Dora-chan subjugated them all without problems. Darling battle maniac Sui-chan slept through all this action, I should add. It seemed she didn't cope with the heat very well.

"The sun's going down." Fer said some time later as he slowed to a stop. "Travelling in the desert in the dark is not a good idea. Let's stop here for the night." I agreed and got off his back to set up camp. As the dungeon level's fake sun disappeared below the false horizon the temperature fell rapidly, as Fer had predicted. This level was like a real desert, I thought, the temperature differences between day and night were quite severe.

"My Barrier will keep some heat in the same way it kept some of the heat out during the day," Fer explained, "but it's really cold out there now. It's going to get colder for all of us in here." Thanks for the warning, Fer. I decided to take some precautions in that case. I opened Net Super and started searching for thick duvets, comforters, blankets and the like as well as winter-type clothing and pocket hand-warmers and heat pads. I looked fruitlessly for a heavy quilted down jacket but apparently they weren't on sale yet. Was it still summer back in my own world?

Never mind, I laid down several sheets of cardboard from delivery boxes on the sand and covered them with thick duvets before spreading out the various futons we had accumulated over the past few weeks. A layer of blankets and a comforter over the top of the futons and our sleeping arrangements were complete. I still had to prepare dinner though.

"While you're cooking dinner we'll wait in the futons since it's cold." Fer said, his breath already white. The temperature was really plummeting now. I pulled a thick sweater over my UV hoodie, not very stylish but it would keep me warm while I worked. Well, warm-ish, I could see my own breath was white as well.

Never mind, what should I cook? Something quick and easy... Ah, how about a green pepper beef bowl? I could use a ready-made sauce to save time and effort and rice bowl dishes are always filling and satisfying. I'd still need to cook a lot of rice though. We (well, Fer the Unfillable and Sui-chan the Insatiable mostly) had eaten our way through the mountain of cooked rice I had prepared back at the inn in Doran so I'd have to cook more rice to start with. I'd make enough for breakfast tomorrow as well while I was at it, I decided. I bought lots more rice from the Net Super and after washing it I got out four earthenware rice pots from my Item Box and set them up on the burners of the Black Magic Cooking Stove.

Once they were cooking away I returned to the Net Super to buy ingredients for the green pepper stir-fry to go over the rice. Lessee, green peppers (of course) and boiled bamboo shoots and a ready-made sauce. Hmmm, since it's cold right now maybe I should get some soup too as a side-dish, something warming. A quick search through the Net Super's instant soups and, yosh, freeze-dried egg soup, that will do fine.

Time to get cooking the meat though, the rice would be ready soon. I started by slicing Bloody Horn Bull meat into stir-fry strips then chopped up the green peppers and the boiled bamboo shoots. When the rice was ready I paused to tuck the four steaming pots away in my Item Box where they would stay warm while I started another set of pots of rice on the now-vacant burners of the Black Magic Cooking Stove, leaving one burner free for the stir-fry.

I heated an oiled frying pan and dumped in the Bloody Horn Bull meat. When it seared and changed colour I added in the peppers and bamboo shoots and stirred them vigorously over a strong flame. Once the ingredients cooked through I covered them in the commercially-made spicy sauce, a bit more stirring and that was it done. Quick and easy, like I said.

I filled deep dishes with rice from the Item Box and topped them with generous helpings of the green pepper stir-fry, added some green onions as a dressing and put them out for the Gluttonous Trio.

"It's ready." I said, redundantly as usual as they dived into the hot dishes I put down, their heads disappearing into the clouds of steam rising from the hot food. I started making up some egg soup from the freeze-dried packets as an extra dish for the meal. It was getting even colder, despite Fer's Barrier -- not quite down to zero but not far off, I guesstimated, one or two degrees?

When it was ready I slurped at the egg soup, relishing the warmth and the taste of the oyster sauce and bonito flakes it contained. MMMmm, just the right sort of soup for a cold night like this. I dished out the inevitable ""Seconds"" of green pepper stir-fry over rice for Sui-chan and Fer while I made more egg soup for Dora-chan who was, as usual, satisfied with one large helping of the main dish. When Fer and Sui-chan slowed down I offered them some of the egg soup too.

"Hot food tastes even more delicious when it's this cold." Fer said as he vacuumed up his bowl of egg soup.

"Ah, I can feel this soup warming my entire body." Dora-chan agreed.

"Delicious-" Sui-chan chimed in.

I had to agree, the cold was really biting now but the soup was doing its job. It was the sort of food I would usually only eat during winter at home though, and as I looked out over the dark desert surrounding us it seemed incongruous remembering just how hot it had been only a few hours ago.

I finished my own meal with an after-dinner coffee while talking with Fer about what we should do next.

"How long will it be until we get to the level boss?" I asked. The desert seemed endless, we had travelled a long way earlier in the day but there was no way to see what was ahead of us. Fer wrinkled his nose as if sniffing out the boss off in the distance then shook his head.

"This level is really wide, a lot wider than the last ones. My guess, if I hurry all day tomorrow we'd be at the boss and ready to fight him late on, around nightfall probably." Fer looked around our campsite then out at the desert through his Barrier. "It'll be cold when we start off in the morning and I'll be tired out from running through the heat all day. If we want to face the boss tomorrow night after doing that? Umu, not good." He shook his head again. "Best to get close then stop for the night, eat and sleep and fight the boss the morning after."

Thinking what Fer said I had to agree with him. This level was too cold at night and too hot in the day, the drastic changes in temperature were really intense and took a lot out of us. We were facing S-class monsters as level bosses now this deep into the dungeon and we really needed to be at the top of our abilities when we got to the end of this level. Starting a fight late on in the day, already tired out and then the temperature falling too as it gets dark... I shuddered, not just from the cold. Things could go wrong. Yup, waiting until the next day to face the boss would be best, after a meal and a sleep.

"Right then," I announced, "we'll see what happens tomorrow once we get close to the level boss. We can make better plans then."

"Umu." Fer agreed. For once he wasn't in a hurry to get into a fight. "Let's sleep."

The desert night's cold forced us to cuddle up together. Fer settled down on the futons I had laid out under a blanket and comforter. I got in beside him, pressing up against his thick fur which, I decided, definitely needed a wash. Sui-chan, instead of sleeping in her bag as usual squeezed herself in between us. Dora-chan got one of the hand-warmers and applied it to his stomach before rolling up into a tight scaly ball around it, tucked under the comforter too. I followed Dora-chan's example, applying another larger heat pad to my back as I laid my head on Fer's belly, using the terrifying Fenrir-monster's stomach as a furry pillow. In this manner we slept through the cold desert night.