[Arc 3] Chapter 14: A Demon’s Tactics
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Pseudo-Peace remaining: 22 hours.

"......Who ordered the Dungeon-wide barbecue?" - Garami

"Eh? Is this not the remains after an underground volcano exploded?" - Noire

"No, this got to be the aftermath of a meteor strike." - Alf

"A..., a campfire accident!" - Revi

"........." 

"D-don't look at me like that! I panicked..." - Revi

We had returned to the second Dungeon, but the sight that awaited us was something we would have never expected. Part of the rock floor around the entrance pointing toward the volcano Dungeon had melted due to some intense heat, to the point where parts of it had turned into glass. The water level of the Underground Lake had dropped to half of what it had been, and the remains are boiling like someone was preparing soup with it.

"Hey, what happened here?" - Garami

I grabbed one of the Lesser Fiends that were running around and asked him. Strange, he's not answering.

"Garami, he can't answer if you're chocking him like that." - Alf

Whoops, my mistake.

"*Cough, cough*, my lady! The dragon from the volcano attacked!" 

...Dragon? Did the opposing side's Subordinates-stat increase to C?

---

Psuedo-Peace remaining: 21 hours

"Damn, I forgot that they also had that option." - Garami

It wasn't a subordinate monster, but the real deal. The Dungeon Master of the volcano Dungeon is a freaking Fire Dragon!!

"...Dragons are greater stuff than I had expected." - Garami

I'm used to Glavras, his Bosses, and the undead dragons, but I guess the real deal's leagues above what I could even imagine.

"Hey, dragon-expert, give us a rundown about that stupid-strength already!" - Mira

"Who're you calling a dragon expert?" - Flint

"The guy who's a former inhabitant of the dragon kingdom." - Mira

We're currently in the meeting room on the first floor, but Iron, Lily, and Revi are not accounted for. The two latter ones are helping the monsters in trying to fix the mess on the floor. Iron... took the full brunt of the Fire Dragon's breath and is recuperating right now. Smoke was coming outta his body when I last saw him, and his shield had been melted to a clump of scrap metal. Poor guy.

Including Iron being out of commission, we lost monsters worth 4,325 CP, and that's only when counting their original costs. When you think about the mental strain of the monsters who had formed friendships with them, plus the sweat and tears and time it took to train them all the while... what a loss. Not even the Water Attribute Reinforcement effect that I spent so many points on helped.

The only bright side is that we didn't lose any "unique" subordinates like the Knockers, but that's just a drop in the ocean. Geez...

"Dragon kingdom... *cough*, Dragons start their life as the rank E species known as Dragon Eggs. They're capable of moving on their own, even if it's simple rolling, but even then, they'll automatically gain EXP through a special skill they all have called [Dragon Egg]. 

"They evolve, or rather, hatch into a species known as a Child Dragon. They lose the [Dragon Egg] skill, but gain the [Child Dragon] skill instead, which is an EXP-booster, to put it simply. When they gain enough EXP again, they will evolve into a dragon-species that is based around the twelve main attributes that represent the twelve Ultimate Gods, except Chaos and Order. 

"These 'Elemental Dragons' are what people consider 'True Dragons', as compared to those that developed themselves to the point where they can evolve into a dragon-species. I mean, those Elemental ones didn't need to do all that hard work, and they still are considered the strongest living species on the planet. To make an example: even those Dragon Eggs are powerful enough to run over those Cave Scorpions." - Flint

"Run them over!?" - Noire

"Yup. They'll turn them into mush. Fragments of dragon eggs are considered an Epic-rarity material." - Flint

"Th-that's the same as Adamantite..." - Alf

Okay, I'm convinced. Dragons are bad news.

"And finally: since they've never had any hardships from the start of their life, they're pretty much numb to the pain of others. There have often been individuals that attacked humanoids because they had something that dragon wanted due to this." - Flint

Okay, I get it! I don't wanna get involved more with that guy! However, the volcano Dungeon's not gonna move just cause I'm wishing for it to do so!

"...Anyone got any ideas?" - Garami

...Silence. So, no one, huh.

"W-what if we ignored the Dungeon Master and only attacked the Dungeon?" - Noire

"Did you forget about the Boss Room? And going by the flow, I bet a dragon's lurking behind that door as well." - Alf

No matter what path we take, we'll end up on the dragon route. And taking over the Dungeon won't help us with beating the Dungeon Master.

"Why's one of those elite monsters here in the desert anyway?" - Mira

"Whazzat?" - Alf

"I mean, do a Fire Dragon with firepower that equals a meteorite even need a Dungeon? Or, place it out here where almost no people travel to? If we're talking about the defense of the Dungeon, then that guy alone is more than needed." - Mira

"Good point. That place wasn't here when I first arrived at this region, so the five floors are probably the result of that bastard hunting down some colonies of monsters. Just what you would expect from that guy." - Flint

Yeah. Dungeon Masters grants the Dungeon the same amount of EXP as if the Dungeon had killed someone with a trap, namely 100%, which is reduced to a tenth if they're outside the Dungeon. Subordinates of the Dungeon only grants half of that again...

"Hey, do you know the volcano Dungeon Master?" - Garami

"!? W-why do you say so?" - Flint (weak voice)

Ah! That's kinda suspicious!

"Speaking of, wasn't the reason Flint escaped from his home country because he hit some important person there, was it~?" - Mira

As expected of my right-hand woman!

"......*Sweat*." - Flint

"Flint, do not tell me the reason we are in this mess is due to-" - Noire

"FINE! It's my fault, it's all my fault!! Got a problem with that?!" - Flint

He snapped back! Noire jumped in fright and hid behind me.

"...Ehm, I'm not getting the story here. Flint did something before?" - Alf

Thinking back, we didn't get all the details back when I scouted Flint. All he mentioned was that he had hurt some guy working for the royal family of his home country, so he had to leave to save his own skin, was it?

"So, who was it that you punched the reason out of?" - Mira

"Hey, you already know about that!?" - Flint

"About what?" - Mira

"Well... I kind of stumbled when forging a special gauntlet in my free time back in those days... one that had increased the power of an attack depending on the target. The stronger the opponent, the heavier the blow. The trade back is that the recoil is five times the power of the punch. Seeing such a joke item, not to mention making it, blood flowed to my head and I kind of... threw it outside the window without looking, and the Dragon Princess herself had sneaked out of the castle at that unfortunate moment..." - Flint

No, don't say anymore. I get it.

"So, due to Flint's bad luck, we're in this position." - Garami

Mira started to pat the depressed lizard on his back. So did Alf. And Noire fetched some sweets for him. They've all got their share of bad luck, so some sort of camaraderie must have grown between them.

"The question is: can you reproduce that item?" - Garami

"No can do. I got some weird material in the mail one day, and I've got no clue who sent it or what it was. The gauntlet was only made because that item fell into the smelted metal while I wasn't looking." - Flint

Tch, there goes my super-cannonball idea. Isn't there any other ideas? Aren't there some dragon-slaying sword you can buy from Treasure Creation? 

......? Wait, what? These are... 

"Flint, can you tell me more about the traits of Fire Dragon again? Detailed." - Garami

"Sure, but why...?" - Flint

"...It is kinda risky, but I think I've got a plan to defeat that monstrosity." - Garami

Time to make full use of this "weapon" of mine!

---

Pseudo-Peace remaining: 0 hours.

Fire Dragon Runitos' PoV:

It's about time. That Dungeon-effect, "Peace" or whatever, that threw me out of that lake-cave should have expired by now.

I gave orders to the named monsters and had them gather the elite monsters in the mountain. No need to waste any more time in this no-mans-land. Flint Solrah, say your last prayers! 

I took off from the Dungeon, leading a small army of Ember Wyverns and Hell Dogs. Relatively, it was a short trip, but for me having to slow down my speed so the subordinates would be able to keep up with me... what a pain. Even so, we soon saw the... cave?

What is this? The Dungeon had disappeared, and instead, a big waterhole surrounded by plants and palms had appeared. And the area it covered is large! Extremely so! 

It is almost like a gigantic oasis... did they change the layout of the Dungeon? Just how many FP did they spend on this...?

*Sniff, sniff*, what is that smell. It smells... sweet? Are there some bees here? It wouldn't be strange, considering my own Dungeon is capable of spawning Volcanic Bees. 

Interested in the smell, I ordered the Hell Dogs to locate the source. What they found was something that surprised even me. A huge table, no, several of them, filled with various strange treats, enough to easily fill a good fifty humans or so.

The food was protected from the wind with a small magic barrier that prevented the wind and sand from ruining the food. *Sniff, sniff*, sweets, if I should judge them by the smell, but their appearance is nothing like what I've ever seen in my entire life. It's like they appeared from a different world.

"You guys! Search the whole area!" - Runitos

There's no way that this isn't a trap! Don't look down on me, demons!

The Hell Dogs spread out and used their noses to sniff out the demons... what do you mean you can't find anyone!? Wait, this place should be the Dungeon, shouldn't it? Then, where is the entrance?

"Grr, burn the grass away! They got to be hiding somewhere!" - Runitos

The monsters started to burn all the flora away... nothing!? No hidden entrance or anything!? 

...Did we make a wrong turn somewhere? No, that can't be. It's too impossible... but, there's nothing here at all, except for the sweets... ah! What are you doing, you stupid mutt! You're going to trip a... trap? Huh?

The Hell Dog, finally succumbing to the temptations of the sweets, helped himself to as much of it as its mouth could fit. ...He seems alright... did we really come to the wrong place?

The other monsters started to eat the sweets... *growl*. Save some for the boss!

*Snap*

Eh? Whooaa-!? A net!? It was hidden in the area guarded by the weak magic barrier! The net flew up into the sky and covered the whole sweets-area, along with all those hungry idiots! I included!

Tch, as if some thread-net can hold me! I'll... what? Something, or someone, dressed in form-fitting bodysuits, emerged from the lake. They've got some strange googles and mouthpieces, and they've got some strange metal tubes attached to their back. One of them, a female, removed her equipment on her face and talked to me.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you, o' gluttonous Fire Dragon." - Garami

---

Garami's PoV:

"Who're you to call this Runitos a glutton!? Say that to those guys!!" - Runitos

"'Cause I heard your stomach from underwater." - Garami

It could be my imagination, but the garnet-colored dragon turned slightly more red in the face when I pointed that out. 

It took a damn good amount of my savings, but I was able to create this Oasis-type floor just in time, including the bait that's the snacks and candies from Earth. When I looked through the (massive) amount of items that I could get from Treasure Creation, I discovered that some items from Earth were mixed along with the other stuff.

A result of obtaining [Treasure: D], or is it due to me technically being a Migrant? In any case, it allowed me to create this strategy. The diving gear is also part of the stuff I bought, as the Fire attributed monsters would instinctively try to stay clear of the lake in the oasis, making it a perfect hiding place, when combined with the Camouflage Clothes I weaved just for this opportunity. I even bought that Smell-Confusion Barrier Generator to trick those dogs so they wouldn't notice the web-trap placed underneath the snacks. The entrance to the next floor is also hidden, specifically, underneath the extra-large table in the middle of the buffet.

"Grr, don't think something like this-!" - Runitos

"I'm not thinking that, but you're not thinking clearly either." - Garami

"...Why so?" - Runitos

"If I may ask, your goal in this god-forsaken desert is to find Flint Solrah, am I right?" - Garami

"Yes, that damn bastard that dared to harm the princess!!" - Runitos

...You got a bingo, Flint. Not sure if you're happy with it.

"In that case, I've got good news for you. Flint is more than happy to make up to your precious princess, as long as it doesn't involve death or torture. Like, let's say, a present as an apology. Something as, I don't know, sweets from a different world, perhaps?" - Garami

"A different world? You got to be... hey, are you a Migrant?" - Runitos

"Glad you're quick on the uptake. That's right. And as a fellow Dungeon Master, you know that the stuff you can create with the Dungeon is limited to the knowledge of the Master." - Garami

"...And there are not many Migrants who get the chance to become Dungeon Masters..." - Runitos

"Right? I was damn lucky to become one. On a different note, we're not against a lengthy relationship with your country either." - Garami

"As in?" - Runitos

"Because sweets and food are consumables. You would like to be good friends with the producers~." I said, showing my best smile while talking. 

Even Marc, a Migrant Cook, said that there were difficulties in developing sweets due to various problems such as obtaining ingredients, even for him with [Dimensional Merchant].

"...I have nothing against that, but..." - Runitos

"That's too bad. If I were that princess, I would have rewarded the person who built such a great relationship with a unique supplier-" - Garami

"I'm in!!" - Runitos

...Do all dragons have a princess-fetish?

"...Then first, reimburse us for the mess you made yesterday." - Garami

"...Yes." - Runitos

---

DUNGEON MESSAGE:

Taking control over Runitos' Dungeon.

Separated Formation Complete.

A-ha-ha-ha!! Another Dungeon, down for the count! Are there any better ways to conquer a five-floors Dungeon?

"Then, I'll be in your care later~." - Runitos

Probably, considering most of the Sol I got from the Civil War has been used just for candies today... and all that work creating the Oasis and the Camouflage Robes... my hands are still feeling a little numb...

I looked at the Fire Dragon who was covered from head to toe with packages filled with chocolate, fudges, and so many more Earth-candies that I would get diabetes just by looking at it. I even splurged on Ice Crystals to keep the goods fresh during the trip.

"Remember to say they're a gift of apology from Flint, and that we will gladly continue business with the Royal Family." - Garami

"Gwa-ha-ha! Leave it to me! I can smell that promotion already! And then... gwe-he-he-he..." - Runitos

Yeah yeah, don't overdo it and shoot yourself in the foot, princess-fetish.

"Hmm? You said something." - Runitos

"No." - Garami

Damn, that was close!! What is this guy's sixth sense made of!?

"Then, see you later!" - Runitos

The disappointing dragon took off with his cargo and flew towards the skies in the north. With this, our name should be well received with the royals in the dragon kingdom... and more importantly, Flint will be able to rest easy now that no dragons are gonna come after him again... They won't right?

Then, a little while later, Lily came outta the Dungeon, riding on the back of a Hell Dog... or, she's transported on the dog's back.

"T-too hoooot..." - Lily

"Good work, Sub-Master." - Garami

I looked at the Dungeon Menu, but the Dungeon seems to be good enough without needing any extra additions. The Treasure-stat must have been low, as there are no Springs of Recovery at all here, meaning I can improve the FP of the place. Perhaps set up some traps... hmm? 

There's a lot of free FP here... ah! The Dungeon Boss! It got turned into a normal Dungeon Monster, so the FP needed to keep the boss was returned! That's a free C-rank monster... [Volcano Wyvern]!? Not a dragon!?

"I don't wanna be a Sub-Master of that hot place~. Not without ice cream~." - Lily

"Huh? Yeah, yeah, there's a lot of it at the party, so relax... but we're going back after buying a [Fire Resistance] skill." - Garami

"Noooo~." - Lily

Hey, I'm gonna suffer as well, so take it like a man... like a chimera! And you've yet to finish the Sphinx corpse! Get to it! I want my cheat-level chimera ready by the end of the weak, capiche?

Also, connections to the dragon kingdom, obtained?

Kigal-Note/Monsters/Dragons: Fire Dragon

Name: Fire Dragon
Rank: C+
Type: Dragon 
Lifespan: 5.000 Years
Attribute: Fire
Traits: Fire Dragon

Description:

Fire Dragons are one of the ten "Elemental Dragons" that walks on the earth of Terra Sol. As their name suggests, the Fire Dragon is a creature of Fire, and have complete control over the attribute.

These dragons are both prideful and true to their desires, which can make them equally an enemy of humanity, or a trustworthy ally. The Fire Dragons are considered the most iconic of dragons and are often pictured in storybooks for children.

Appearance:

Fire Dragons have large, reptilian bodies clad in garnet-colored scales, with mouths large enough to bite a whole cow with ease. They have two sets of horns, vicious claws, a tail with a sharp, blade-like end, and large wings that allow them to fly freely in the sky.

Abilities:

Average HP: C Average MP: C- Average SP: C
Average STR: C+ Average VIT: C Average MAG: D+
Average RES: C Average SPD: C- Average DEX: C-
Average INT: C Rarity: C- Danger Rank: B+

Fire Dragons are extremely vicious in battle, using the Fire attribute to scorch the ground to rob the enemy of their options while they keep themselves in the air with their trustworthy wings. When the enemy is weakened, they swoop down for the kill, through the use of their huge and powerful bodies. 

Including this, Fire Dragons also possess the strongest type of Dragon Breath among all ten Elemental Dragons. People often compare the aftermath to a crater made by a meteorite, and the heat is strong enough to create glass out of the ground. 

Fire Dragons have no specific weaknesses except for general dragon-related ones, but they do have a distaste for large bodies of water, as with other creatures of the Fire attribute.

Mira's comment: Hah, to think I would meet the creature my dad always told me stories of when I was going to bed...

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