In contrast to the “Swords of Faith” who avoided narrow passages, the “Iron Warmaidens” proactively sought to move in the small streets. Then, like the “Swords of Faith”, they found treasure in several of the rooms.
Diamond-encrusted metal mirrors, fist-sized emeralds, puppy statues made of obsidian and so on, all of them were expensive items so of course everyone’s faces broke into smiles.
“Just how much treasure is there!”
Yslaine yelled out with a happy voice, everyone else nodded in agreement.
While thanking the powers that be for their good luck on finding a heretofore unexplored place with such wealth and becoming the first explorers, the “Iron Warmaidens” resumed their exploration.
The place they were in now was a straight path with four small rooms on the right and five on the left.
The passage can fit three people side by side, but it’s a small one for this labyrinth. Regarding the small rooms, each and every one of them were about the size of a room in the cheap inn the girls usually use.
The small rooms were probably used as storage rooms, they already searched three and found shovels and brooms, wooden chairs, wooden tables, vases, dressers, wooden boxes and so on, but on the rare occasion there are jewel boxes containing beautiful gems. Otherwise, there were things like leather bags containing gold coins, old dolls with gemstones inlaid as eyes, just one of the rooms contained a fortune.
“But I wonder who could’ve made these ruins~”
The slightly dull voice belonged to the short magician Eto.
Eto, who had the skill “Science : Archaeology” still couldn’t figure out what these ruins are.
It was vaguely Imperial.
There were places with Altimur Empire decorations, but the interior itself is old. It felt like at least a hundred years had passed.
The one who said that with a smile overflowing with wildness was the muscular female warrior Jen.
Jen was only wearing underwear-like pieces of cloth as if showing off her muscles but the pouches on her waist and the bag on her back was packed full of booty.
“But at least I wanted to know the name.”
As if answering Jen, the priestess covering her face with a thin cloth, Vena, uttered.
While searching through the small rooms, she found potions in the rooms. Vena who smiled as she used her skill “Item Identification” discovered that they were the equivalents of “Medium Restoration Potions”.
“It has this much treasure, so it must belong to some great person.”
While making clanging sounds with her armor, the female knight Corias gazed at the ceiling.
Over the passages and small rooms there was a sky-high ceiling that gave no feeling of crampedness despite being underground, when she looked up she saw beautiful patterns painted on it. From the viewpoint of Corias who had no knowledge about fine arts, they were simply beautiful pictures.
“Everyone, let’s stop the chatter there. Keep your guard up and let’s get out of here!”
Yslaine clapped her hands and got the team who had become a little slack to pull themselves together.
Until they came here they hadn’t met a single monster, but the goblins definitely came here, it is perfectly conceivable they might be hiding behind pillars, corners, or in small rooms with doors shut closed.
“Lorna, how’s the surroundings?”
“I sense nothing.”
Lorna who had been on guard since earlier replied to the warrior leader curtly.
Yslaine who trusted her said simply, “stay on your guard,” and went to give instructions to the members who were doing the exploration.
“Everyone, we’ve made sure there were no enemies in the room, but we don’t know where enemies might come from. Continue your search while keeping guard!”
“Leave it to me.”
They each answered in their style and continued the search.
As Yslaine watched over them, she picked out something in the yet-unexplored room. She found an old wooden box and as she examined it, there was a metal ring inside. There were some words carved onto the box.
“F-o-r-b-i-g-b-r-o-t-h-e-r…, this is a child’s writing?”
Yslaine was at a loss for a while but thought that a ring is sellable and tucked it in her coat pocket.
She shut the wooden box and went back.
“Big brother, huh…”
Yslaine had lots of brothers.
Five older brothers, and two younger. That may seem a bit much but it wasn’t strange for a farming family in this world. When Yslaine was 10, three of her older brothers and both her younger ones died. They died in epidemics, famines, and goblin and bandit attacks.
The remaining two brothers were picked out for war and died.
Losing all working hands, her parents also died to sickness and she, with the sword one of her older brothers held at to his last moment, became an adventurer. Because the only other alternatives were either to become a prostitute or a bandit, she believed this was the right choice.
Luckily, because she possessed the skill “Weapon Mastery” forged by her work in the farm, she was able to become something of a warrior. Her first party consists only of men, she immediately became disgusted and left. The next one was a mixed male-female party but due to love troubles the party disbanded. Then, she decided to make her current female party the “Iron Warmaidens.”
Having one of the members of her previous party Lorna as the first, her companions unexpectedly increased to include Eto, Vena, Jen, and Corias.
Three years had already passed since then.
There were trivial fights but they held strong feelings of companionship due to entrusting their lives to each other.
She thought that at the very least, it was beyond compare to the “Swords of Faith” they came to the underground labyrinth together with.
“Not good…, this isn’t the time to be thinking of the past.”
She might have unwittingly relaxed herself because she had come across a huge amount of treasure.
For a leader to become like this after warning everyone, it’s inexcusable.
“Yosh, once again…”
“Everyone, enem……!! AAaaaaAAAaaaah!!”
Interrupting Yslaine’s who was about to say ‘let’s continue searching’, Lorna’s scream was heard coming in as a warning.
“All, to me!!”
The leader Yslaine went out of the room and called everyone to her.
The warrior Jen and knight Corias came out of the room with their weapons in hand, and the mage Eto and priestess Vena prepared to fire off magic at any moment.
Then, Lorna was…
The hunter Lorna was bleeding from her shoulders, and collapsed.
Beside her, there was a knight wielding a longsword.
He was clad in deep blue armor and his face was hidden behind a helmet so his expression cannot be read.
The knight turned towards Yslaine, and at the same time the chains hanging from his belt made a rattling sound.
“Jen, Corias, pin him down!”
At the leader’s instructions, the warrior and the knight jumped at the knight from the right and left.
Jen used the skill [Frenzy] and Corias used [Fierce Attack] and pulled the knight away from Lorna. Using that gap Yslaine came over to Lorna and poured liquid from a small bottle she took out from a pouch over her open wound.
It was “Medium Restore Potion”, normal wounds would heal immediately.
However, the wound didn’t close.
No, it seems like the bleeding subsided a little.
“—Strengthen, Attacking Sword”
“—Defend, Protecting Shield”
Eto and Vena’s support magic was cast on the warriors.
“Vena, take care of Lorna.”
“Didn’t work well! Anyway….”
She was about to say, “take care of her,” but her voice was drowned by the screams of her companions.
The knight easily pierced Corias’ full body armor, gouging her flank, and Jen rained down attacks on him as she yelled angry roars. Still using her “Frenzy” that dulls pain and increases her strength to the limit, she used the “Fierce Attack” Corias was using earlier to increase her attack speed.
It was the violent attack of the warrior who boasted herself the party’s firepower.
However, the knight calmly received the attacks.
“Jen! Calm down!!”
She made a large swing, as if she wanted to finish the fight in one go.
The knight shifted his body and easily evaded.
… or so it seems.
The large swing was a feint.
The real thing comes with the next attack.
The “Frenzy” skill has the beneficial effect of raising one’s strength to its limits, but on the other hand it has the downside of dulling one’s clear judgement. However, Jen came from from a tribe composed entirely of women who call themselves the Amazons, the Amazons possessed the skill known as “Frenzy Penalty Annulment”.
In other words, even as she wielded superhuman strength, she was still able to calmly attack.
A sharp metallic sound was heard.
However, it was not the sound of the knight’s blue armor breaking, but the sound of the destruction of Jen’s sword.
Then, an attack came swinging.
As she hemorrhaged and fell down, Jen muttered a “dammit” as she collapsed.
“Eto! Vena! Run away, I’ll buy some time!”
Instead of apologizing to the two for not being able to come in and help, Yslaine did her duty as the leader and took out her magic longsword.
“—Strengthen, Speed Increase”
“—Protection, Angelic Halo”
A white light wrapped Yslaine, giving power to her body.
“That’s no good~. I don’t think I can run away.”
“There’s no other way to stay alive than to have you win.”
Without taking her eyes off of the knight, Yslaine shed tears.
They were tears of fear of the death coming her way, tears of regret for having come to this place, and tears of gratitude to her companions for encouraging her even in this situation.
*chirrr*, There was the sound of chains.
As if taking that as a signal, the knight closed in at a tremendous speed.
He was stopped at the first step.
His blow was heavy.
“—Strengthen, Strength Increase”
“—Protection, Divine Orb”
Taking the knight’s blow, Yslaine, wrapped in Vena’s magic, the priest’s miraculous ball of light, broke the knight’s posture for an instant.
She used all her muscles and launched an attack at the knight.
She aimed at the gap between his armor and his helmet.
It was an attack Yslaine made with all her might, using her skill “Weapon Mastery” making her sword an extension of her body.
The sword splendidly came between the armor and the helmet.
Though she felt the sword strike, there was no blood, the knight didn’t collapse, and carried out an intense counter towards her chest.
She was about to say something but instead, blood came out from her mouth.
I don’t want to die, she thought as tears flew out of her eyes and her consciousness faded.
The remaining Eto and Vena no longer had the power to resist, but the knight ignored them and picked Yslaine up by her head. Incidentally, the sword that she pierced through him was still there, looking right out of a nightmare.
With a rattling sound, his chains slowly rose up, as if being moved by magic. There were collars attached to the ends of the chains, made out of leather with several sharp things on it.
[You look like you were about to die unless I do this…]
With a sarcastic smile, the knight said this in his low, coarse voice.
The moment the collar locked onto Yslaine, the blood flowing from her chest until just now was healed. It’s almost as if a high-ranked healing magic was cast upon her.
[Rejoice. For you will serve me as my hound.]
The knight pulled out another three chains.
With a rattle, the chains with collars attached to them snaked their way towards the collapsed Lorna, Jen, and Corias. Then they latched onto them with a clink.
[Now then, choose. Will you put the collar on yourselves, or shall I force it upon you. I must tell you though, the choice of death shall not be allowed to you. For my master has permitted me to do with you as I please.]
As he was saying that, the knight looked down on Eto and Vena.
Even though they couldn’t see his face, the priestess and the mage knew that his face was trembling with dark desires.
Then, they too understood their fate.
But whether it was out of fear that went past its limits or their obstinacy as adventurers, the two exchanged glances and turned their magic against the knight.
“—Strengthen, Fortify Magic.”
“—Destruction, Explosive Flame!”
With her magic strengthened by Vena’s, Eto fired her strongest magic.
A ball of fire assaulted the knight.
The fireball would explode upon impact and burn everything within a large area to ash, and for that reason there was a possibility that Eto and Vena themselves, who were in the immediate vicinity, could get rolled up in it and die.
But even so, they fired the attack, thinking of it as an act of revenge.
“—Interference, Extinguish Magic”
By the power of the counter magic, the fireball disappeared like a shining ball of trash without exploding.
The one who cast the magic was not the blue armored knight.
It was someone they knew well.
The one who cast the counter magic was the “Iron Warmaidens'” female knight Corias.
Ignoring the surprised, questioning voices of her companions, Corias crawled like a dog and went towards the blue knight.
No, it was not only Corias.
Yslaine, Jen, and Lorna, too, crawled like dogs and approached the blue knight.
The chains made a rattling sound.
Immediately, they all made barking sounds like loyal dogs being commanded by their owner.
The two were shaken by feer at the sight of their companions acting like dogs, deprived of their humanity.
Not the fear of death.
It’s the fear from understanding why the blue knight put collars on them, and at the same time breaking their selves, turning them into dogs.
[Ha, hahahaha, ahahahahaha]
At the unbearably funny sight of them following his orders, the blue knight laughed.
Then Eto and Vena stopped up their ears and closed their eyes to run from the reality.
As if ending the two’s nightmare, the blue knights took out two collars for them.
＊ ＊ ＊
The mopping up of the intruders is over.
The blue knight took his six “hounds” and returned to the place where the ones that were to be his masters were.
TN: Just to make this perfectly clear. I’m just posting these chapters because I happen to have them at hand. I have no plans on TLing any further so don’t bug me for updates.