61-Lonely Tunnel

 While the festival was going on on the fifth floor, we were descending to a new floor.

 The ninth basement floor was a place where we could feel the artificial atmosphere.
 Unlike the eighth floor, which was filled with a variety of colors including green, the color palette was mainly subdued browns and grays.

 At the bottom of the stairs was a small open space, and the walls and floor were all covered with square-cut stones.
 The walls and floor are all covered with square-cut stones, which, despite their age, are sturdy enough to hold one's fingers.

 However, there are several passages extending from it.
 The entire surface of these passages is bare of dirt and rocks.

 A wooden frame supports the ceiling in some places, but the degree of discoloration of the pillars does not inspire much confidence.
 The light source is a white illuminated stone, but the amount of light is so low that even the outline of a few steps ahead is dim.

"Wow, what a weird place again!
This looks like the remains of a mine. ......

 I think those wooden supports are called mine timbers.
 The air was cool and chilly, and there was an inexplicable smell in the air.
 I touched the wall of the passage, which was surprisingly hard, and it didn't seem to come off easily even if I put all my strength into my fingers.

Hmm, it doesn't look like it's going to collapse. Paula, Mr. Etan, is there anything you need to take care of?
No, I don't. ......
Yes, I do. I think it would be safer if we let our eyes get used to the darkness.

 Following Mr. Etan's advice, I covered the white light stone lantern and asked the fairies to hide under their clothes for a while.
 While everyone was still, only Yoru and Kuu, who had good night vision, were running around energetically.

 They seemed to find it amusing that we couldn't move much, jumping on Mia and Paula's backs and hugging my legs.
 And when I catch them and tickle them, they let out a little laugh and run away.
 When they had had their fill of playing and everyone's eyes had grown darker, we started down the pathway to the northeast.

 Surprisingly, it wasn't too winding and the visibility wasn't too bad.
 But the moment we came to what seemed to be a crossroad, an incident occurred.

 Something black jumped out from a side passage of the intersection and attacked the person who was holding the white illuminated stone lantern.
 The sound of the collision rang out loudly, and the curvy shadow passed on by.

 All that was left was the lantern tumbling to the floor and the dismembered bones of the wolf.
 Well, thank you for martyring yourself, bone-child.

 We were about ten paces behind, whispering to each other about the current situation.

"Did you see that?
"Yes, there's something very strange here. Yeah, this place is interesting.
What about you two? Are you two ready?
I'm sorry. ....... I'm afraid my whip won't do the trick.
I could just about see it, but it was too fast for me!

 His specialty, the fireball, was as fast as a lightly thrown ball.
 Since Etan said he was fine, I decided to recreate the situation I had just described.

 I rang the doorbell of the underworld and replayed the skeleton.
 At the moment when the crouched skeleton reached for the light of the white illumination stone, a black shadow popped out from the side passage again.
 At that moment, the arrow, which had already left the bow, reached the center of the crossroad.

 The sound of bones shattering and the hard sound of metal hitting metal echoed in combination.
 And then the round mass that had so easily repelled the arrow disappeared across the aisle again.

Oh no! I was right on target!
"No, it's okay. Mia.

 She smiled softly and turned her gaze to the arrow that had fallen.
 If you look closely, you can see that the tip of the arrow is missing.

 He nodded confidently, and I rang the bell again to summon the bone servant.
 I let him lift the lantern, but it did not seem to be broken.
 I waited for a minute or so, but nothing happened, and when I was sure it was safe, I quietly looked into the passage.

 Both of the passages beside the crossroads dead-ended after a few steps.
 On the far wall of one of them, I could see a huddled black shadow.

 The overall shape is rounded.
 However, sprouting all over its exposed lower abdomen were countless short legs.
 Well, to put it bluntly, what was lying there was an upturned bug the size of a basketball.

 The view was so physiologically repulsive that Mia took a small breath and screamed.

Oh my God! It's disgusting!
I'm pretty sure it's an iron beetle, ....... To tell you the truth, it's a very hard beetle.

 It has a habit of eating stones that contain iron, so its shell is also covered in iron, making it a very tough monster.
 Its special skill is the familiar .
 It usually moves slowly, but when it rolls its body, its speed and physical defense are increased.

What do you want? You.
Hmm, I don't think I need it with the blue slime.

 I don't think it's necessary.
 As soon as I responded, Etan randomly snapped his bowstring.
 The bug, which had been shot in the abdomen by three arrows in quick succession, stopped moving its creepy legs.

 Surprised by the swiftness of the response, the hunter quickly approaches and retrieves the arrows in a flash.
 With an even more careful hand, he pulls out the arrowhead of the forest crow's claw that was stuck in his side.
 It seems that at the moment when the iron beetle crossed the pathway earlier, he had successfully shot through the part of the beetle that was not covered by the shell.
 Hmmm...tremendous eyesight and accuracy with the bow.


 The two animals seemed to have recognized the beauty of it, and they approached and tapped Mr. Etan's foot.
 The arboreal youth squinted gently at the adorable gesture.
 It's a problem that both of them are cute. .......

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 It seems that they tend to appear in places where the passages overlap, and once you get the pattern, they are not so scary.
 Sometimes there were more than one of them, but since they were weak against magic, the and worked well, and we didn't have any difficulties.

 We reached the end of the road in about fifteen minutes, and turned west.
 Maybe it's not a very wide level.

 As soon as we changed places, the bugs disappeared for a while.
 We walk silently through the dark tunnel.

 About five minutes have passed.
 Suddenly, a shadow appeared in the light of the lantern held up by Koko-chan.

 It was standing upright on two legs, just like us, and its silhouette resembled that of a human being.
 Its bare, hairless skin was about the size of a ten-year-old child.

 In many ways, it was similar to us.
 However, there was one major difference.
 Its head.

 It had the face of a large rat.

"Ugh, ......, what is that? Isn't that too bad?