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Shin briskly walked forward, unaware of what was happening between them. As they entered the hall, they noticed that, just like the corridor, part of the floor, ceiling, and walls had melted. Shin cooled down these parts with a water skill and secured a path to walk on. “OK, the real thing starts now. Are you ready?” Before the heavy door signaling the entrance to the boss’ chamber, Shin stopped and asked this question to Suzune. Beyond the door awaited Kotone and Onimaru. “I can go anytime.”
Suzune once again evoked the spirits she had returned to the charms and nodded. She now had summoned a floating straw doll type, a wolf type, and a warrior type wielding two katana. “I’m opening the door.” Shin placed his hands on the door and pushed. After moving it a bit towards the interior of the room, the door opened the rest of the way by itself. The room beyond was a very large hall. Swords, katana, spears, and other weapons were stabbed on the floor, walls, and ceiling, to the point that it was almost difficult to find somewhere to walk on. In the back of the hall, only one place was not stabbed with weapons, a kind of stage marked with tatami mats. There stood a single silhouette: the boss. ——-【Rindou Kotone Level 255 War Priestess】 ——- Affected by 【Miasma Corruption – Large】 Shin’s 【Analyze】 revealed the silhouette’s identity. As expected of the boss: even if the dungeon had changed, its location had not. “….Sister.” Suzune mumbled under her breath. Sitting on the tatami, with katana in hand, her eyes staring into the void, this was how they found Suzune’s sister, Kotone. She did not appear to have transformed, unlike the Ogre boss in “Depths of Hellfire”. Her priestess robes were torn and tattered, revealing her still white skin; her arms and legs did not appear to have changed shape either. If it wasn’t for the aura emanating from her body, she would appear to have been just wounded in battle. “Pull yourself together!! She’s heavily corrupted by miasma. There’s no time to space out.” “I know. I won’t hold back.” As Suzune renewed her focus, the color of the magic power enveloping her spirits became more accentuated. The spirits had been reinforced by the additional magic power poured into them. “………..” Maybe because she had detected the increased magic power, Kotone’s eyes went from staring into nothingness to looking at Suzune. At the same time, the atmosphere in the whole room felt as if it was rumbling. “Her aura changed.” “Yes, looks like she’s ready to throw down too.” Shin replied to Schnee and readied his 『Moonless』. The aura emanating from Kotone clearly expressed hostility. Probably in response to this change, the weapons stabbed into the ground, walls, and ceiling one by one floated in midair, gathering before Kotone with sounds of clashing metal. In a few seconds, a cracked skull-like creature of steel was formed. ——-【Mad Sword Legion Level 811】 Mad Sword is a monster formed by swords possessed by hateful emotions. When many of them gather in one place, Mad Sword Legion is born. The highest risk it represents is that its level depends on the number and quality of the weapons that form it. The higher the quality of the weapons forming it is, the higher its level is. “Wasn’t a Skullface Bushido supposed to come out here?” “The boss changed, so the monsters changed too, I guess. This one looks stronger.” As Mitsuyo stated, Mad Sword Legion was far stronger than the unique samurai-like monster Skullface Bushido. As they had not received any information about the Mad Sword Legion, Shin thought that it was probably born after the scouts’ inspection. “It’s coming!!” A few seconds after Schnee’s warning, Mad Sword Legion shot the floating weapons like bullets. Shin, Schnee, and Mitsuyo repelled them with their own weapons, while Tiera dodged riding on Kagerou. Suzune had the warrior spirit counter the attack. Both the parried weapons and the dodged weapons, after stabbing the ground, returned to Mad Sword Legion. “There’s a fair number of Mythology-grade weapons in it. There could be even some Ancient-grade ones too.” Shin’s assessment was based on the weapons thrown at them. As proof, the katana of Suzune’s warrior spirit, the weakest member among them, was very close to breaking. “It’s alright! I just need to pour some more magic power and…” It can go back the way it was. That is what Suzune meant to say, but her words died in her mouth. She had not lowered her guard. She had not neglected to be wary. Her focus, however, swayed for an instant. In that opening, less than one second long, Kotone -who was supposed to be standing behind Mad Sword Legion- was in front of Suzune. She had moved instantly thanks to the Movement-type martial skill 【Ground Shrink】. Her stats as a Chosen One, the bonuses granted by equipping 『Onimaru』, and the stat upgrades caused by the miasma, Kotone was much faster than Suzune remembered. In the blink of an eye. There was no more fitting expression for Kotone’s movements. When Suzune realized what was going on, 『Onimaru Kunitsuna』 had already been drawn from its sheath, its blade closing in on Suzune’s neck. “!?” I’m going to die—- The moment Suzune instinctively closed her eyes, the sound of clashing metal reached her ears. “I’m impressed that the scouts managed to flee.” When Suzune opened her eyes, a black coat was fluttering in front of her. “Don’t just stand there!! Call to her!!” Shin shouted while blocking 『Onimaru』 with 『Moonless』. Kotone’s equipment appeared to be only the close combat weapon 『Onimaru』. Thus, Shin was wary of her, thinking that she wouldn’t just stay behind Mad Sword Legion. Shin, who had reinforced the Supreme Blades Munechika and Mitsuyo, knew that his 『Moonless』 was superior as a weapon. However, the miasma-possessed 『Onimaru』 did not seem to be losing durability, even if locked in a clash against 『Moonless』. ——–【Rindou Kotone level 904】 Shin’s 【Analyze】 showed information different from before. A player’s maximum level was 255; barring special exceptions, only monsters could exceed it. Apparently Kotone now possessed properties both human and monster-like. “Shah!” Mitsuyo attacked Kotone, who was trying to push Shin down, from behind. She had also promised to do whatever she could to save Kotone, and swung 『Oodenta Mitsuyo – Shinuchi』 after activating the skill 【Nonfatal Blade】. The clash of blades resounded again; it was the sound of Mitsuyo’s katana being repelled. Kotone, who had been wielding 『Onimaru』 with both hands, switched the grip to her right hand, picked up another sword with her left hand and parried Mitsuyo’s strike with it. “Shin!” “I’m on it!” Having switched to a one hand grip, Kotone’s strength wielding 『Onimaru』 weakened. Shin had continued locking swords with Kotone to give Mitsuyo the chance to attack her by surprise; but as now it was not necessary anymore, Shin activated a skill. “Let’s get rid of your weapon first.” A powerful shock burst between the clashing 『Moonless』 and 『Onimaru』. Shin had activated the Katana-type Martial skill 【Empty Strike】. This skill had the effect of blowing away the opponent’s weapon, rendering it temporarily unusable. The force of the impact generated between the two katana blew away Kotone’s 『Onimaru』. As a secondary effect, the movements of the arm Kotone used to wield 『Onimaru』became more sluggish too. “You’re mi—what?” Shin had rapidly closed in on Kotone, but detected a wave of hostility approaching and swung 『Moonless』 down on the spot. The hostility had come from part of the weapons forming Mad Sword Legion. Apparently the monster could control its weapons separately too, so it had sent some weapons to assist Kotone. “And it was so close! These things are so irritating!” Mitsuyo too, like Shin, was sweeping away the weapons attacking her. “It’s attacking us while dealing with Schnee and the others at the same time, huh. I wonder if having good weapons increased its intellect too?” The monster carefully separated its weapons to avoid Schnee’s magic, deftly moving its large body. As it was not one large unit, but something made of many small ones, its attack patterns were infinitely varied. Schnee and the others’ attacks were destroying its weapons, so the monster was less than half the size it was in the beginning, but it would still take some time before it could be defeated. “Sister…” Suzune didn’t seem to know what to say to her sister, who was controlling the multitude of weapons in midair. If Shin hadn’t come between them, she could very well be dead by now. Kotone might have been affected by miasma, but seeing her beloved sister almost murder her had shaken Suzune deeply. “I told you there’s no time to space out!!” “Aah!!” While still pointing 『Moonless』 towards Kotone, Shin landed a chop on Suzune’s head. The sudden blow caught her by surprise. “I won’t tell you not to be shaken, but focus on the battle while there’s still hope.” “W-what are you…” “Just look at her face.” Shin’s blade pointed at Kotone, who was wielding 『Onimaru』 and another sword she picked up; more precisely, at her left eye. Transparent tears were flowing from it. “She wasn’t crying or anything when we came in here. She might still be fighting against the miasma. Don’t give up.” Shin then readied 『Moonless』 once again and charged against Kotone. Possibly taking advantage of Shin leaving her side, the weapons in midair flew toward Suzune, but were knocked down by Mitsuyo, who had come closer to her. “Leave this to me!” Reassured by Mitsuyo’s words, Shin attacked Kotone. Kotone used her right hand’s 『Onimaru』 and the katana in her left hand to block Shin’s slashes. Probably because of the difference in weapon level, however, the left hand’s katana snapped after the second clash. “—-!!” Kotone stepped back and flung the broken katana at Shin, then grabbed one of the other ones dancing in midair. The new weapon exuded an aura clearly different from the others around it; it was the Ancient-grade katana 『Mudou Kanemitsu』. “As I thought, there were Ancient grades too.” Shin swept away Kotone’s incoming slash and thrust his left arm forward. At the same time, he activated the Barehanded-type Martial skill 【Water Mirror Impact】, aiming at Kotone’s chest. Not even the greatest Chosen One could move quickly if they had trouble breathing. Such a thought prompted Shin’s attack, but Kotone managed to parry at the last second, using 『Onimaru』. “What?” Weapons with thin blades like katana couldn’t avoid suffering damage after blocking attacks with the body of the blade. Unless the katana was especially sturdy, it was a defense method to avoid at all costs. For 『Onimaru』 it was possible, but even so it couldn’t be safe to block one of Shin’s attacks like this. Shin was wondering the meaning of this when he saw Kotone’s expression warped in pain. The miasma surrounding 『Onimaru』 grew thicker, and despite Shin not doing anything, a fragment of the katana was broken off. “Damn, it did it on purpose!?” When he first saw 『Onimaru』, Shin was bothered by the fact that it looked pristine and unaffected by miasma. In “Depths of Hellfire”, the boss’ 『Dojigiri Yasutsuna』 was in awful condition. Kotone’s actions just now suggested that Shin’s theory, according to which 『Onimaru』’s good condition was an obstacle for the miasma, could very well be true. Ancient-grade weapons are originally resistant to miasma. It would not be strange for the Five Supreme Blades gathered around Kagutsuchi to be even more resistant. “What happens if we purify the miasma without damaging the katana?” Shin attacked Kotone again. While swinging his 『Moonless』, he activated a Katana-type Martial skill. “How about this!” 『Moonless』unleashes a powerful flash of silver light; the miasma wrapped around 『Onimaru』 was blown away and, at the same time, Kotone’s body visibly lost its strength. The silver flash, caused by the Katana-type Martial skill 【Cleave Omen】, had the same effect as 【Dispel Omen】. Once it clashed with 『Moonless』 as it was shrouded in the skill, the miasma enveloping 『Onimaru』 would temporarily lose its effects. Shin once again knocked 『Onimaru』 away from Kotone’s hands, then parried her left hand’s 『Mudou Kanemitsu』 with 『Moonless』’ hilt. Before 『Mudou Kanemitsu』, now flying through the air, returned to Kotone, Shin struck it twice. Katana-type Martial skill 【Fang Cry】. The V-shaped slashes struck 『Mudou Kanemitsu』 cleanly, and the katana’s body broke in three fragments. Shin had no time to be surprised by the katana’s unexpected frailty, because the broken 『Mudou Kanemitsu』 instantly turned into sand and disappeared. Becoming part of a monster’s body had likely consumed most of its sturdiness as a weapon. “——-!?” Immediately after Shin’s destruction of 『Mudou Kanemitsu』, an unnatural sound of clashing metal came from Schnee’s direction. Shin glanced in that direction and saw that part of the weapons composing Mad Sword Legion’s body was behaving erratically, as if it had lost control. The 『Mudou Kanemitsu』 Shin had destroyed was probably one of the weapons near Mad Sword Legion’s core. “Sorry, but I can’t let you go.” Kotone had attempted to flee, taking advantage of the small opening born from Shin’s destruction of 『Mudou Kanemitsu』, but Shin pinned her down to the ground. Tears were still flowing from her eyes. “You’re going to stay still here for a while. Just a little patience is all I need.” As Shin spoke these words, a seven-colored globe of light appeared over his head. The red of flame skills, the blue of water skills, the brown of earth skills, the green of wind skills, the yellow of lightning skills, the white of light skills, the black of darkness skills. The globe’s colors expressed the elements of all magic spells. “【Elemental Bind】” Beams of all the colors of the globe extended towards Kotone and 『Onimaru』. The beams, moving as to avoid Shin, wrapped themselves around the possessed priestess and her katana. In this condition, they would temporarily be unaffected by outside attacks, but could not move in any way. This did not change even if the target was tainted by miasma. Depending on the caster, the target could break free right away, but if Shin was the caster, even the over-level 900 Kotone could not move. Divine-type magic was not included, but maybe because the skill included 7 magic elements, it managed to suppress miasma as well. “If only it was faster, though…” Shin stopped pinning down Kotone and stood up while mumbling to himself. 【Elemental Bind】 was an extremely useful skill, but the beams of light it released were much too slow; they would definitely miss if used by themselves. Because of that, in the game era the quick 【Shadow Bind】 and 【Arc Bind】, which combined both speed and strength, were both used more often. Shin made sure that Kotone couldn’t move and asked Mitsuyo to recover 『Onimaru』, which was lying on the ground at a small distance. Thanks to 【Elemental Bind】 sealing the miasma and the effects of “Miracle Drug of Holy Skies”, nothing happened even if Mitsuyo touched 『Onimaru』. Turning towards Kotone, Shin saw that Suzune was desperately calling to her. “OK, the last nuisance is that guy then.” Shin looked towards Mad Sword Legion, which had become much smaller due to Schnee and the others’ attacks. Shin didn’t know how much of a will the main Mad Sword Legion had, but it looked like it was frantically trying to avoid Schnee, Tiera and Kagerou’s combined attacks. If Schnee and the others used their full power, they would have defeated it long ago. It was still alive thanks to its particular multi-unit structure and because they were fighting in a closed space, so Schnee and the others didn’t use wide-range attacks, out of concern of hitting their allies too. Now that they had captured Kotone, though, Shin wanted to start the purification immediately, so he did not feel like shaving off the monster’s body little by little. “Schnee! Protect everyone but me!” Schnee nodded to Shin, and he picked the skills he wanted to use. “【Continuous Casting】, 【Gun Fire】!!” The skill he used first allowed to cast the skill used after it as long as MP allowed; this time, Shin chose the Flame-type Magic skill 【Gun Fire】. A great number of fireballs formed around Shin, then shot one after the other towards Mad Sword Legion. The size of each fireball was about 15 cemels; as they were not very fast, the weapons floating in midair could easily avoid their trajectory. Just as it looked like they passed by without doing anything, the fireballs suddenly burst, scattering small 5-cemels fireballs all around. The fireballs exploded all together, filling the space with smaller fireballs and turning the weapons forming Mad Sword Legion into ashes and dust. It was an attack that targeted friend and foe indiscriminately, but the ice barrier Schnee created prevented their allies from taking damage. The Mad Sword Legion, the number of its weapons already reduced by Schnee and the others’ attacks, now saw all its weapons destroyed; like 『Mudou Kanemitsu』 before, they turned into dust. All that was left were the bound Kotone and 『Onimaru』. 『Onimaru』 was tended to by Mitsuyo. “Tiera! The purification, please!” Tiera hurried to 『Onimaru』’s side after hearing Shin’s shout. “….you should hold her hands.” Tiera whispered this piece of advice to Suzune as she passed next to her and Kotone, then started 『Onimaru』’s purification. Differently from the “Depths of Hellfire” boss, this time Kotone had to be purified too: thus this time Shin would use 【Dispel Omen】 on 『Onimaru』, while Schnee did the same to Kotone. “—————–” The miasma shrouding 『Onimaru』 gradually disappeared. At the same time, a strained voice leaked from Kotone’s lips. “Sister! Kotone!” Kotone winced in pain, and Suzune kept calling her name desperately. She was trying to break free, but Shin’s 【Elemental Bind】 completely sealed her movements. “Phew, it’s over.” After some time, Tiera announced she had finished, while wiping sweat from her brow. She was steady on her feet this time: the purification had been less taxing than the previous one. “The rest is up to you, Shin. Please.” “Leave it to me.” Tiera passed『Onimaru』to Shin, who gave it a long, careful look. Its durability had decreased by about 20%, but compared to Dojigiri it had suffered surprisingly little damage. Shin concluded that the situation wasn’t as critical as last time. Shin related 『Onimaru』’s state to Mitsuyo, and her expression softened with relief. “Okay then, you’re next.” Shin entrusted 『Onimaru』 to Mitsuyo and turned towards Kotone. He didn’t know how the miasma had affected her, so she was still bound. Shin asked Suzune to step back just in case and checked Kotone’s condition.【Analyze】 didn’t display her as boss anymore. The miasma’s corruption seemed to be no more as well. Possibly because she had lost consciousness, her eyes were now closed. “At first glance, it doesn’t look like there are problems.” “I can’t feel any miasma anymore, so I think you can release her now.” Tiera, the most sensitive member to miasma, gave her approval too, so Shin followed her proposal. 【Elemental Bind】 caused Kotone to float in midair, so Shin prepared to support her as not to let her fall to the ground. “Hn…” Kotone mumbled, maybe the impact of falling into Shin’s arms had woken her up. “Are you alright?” “Uuh….I…am…?” “Sister!! Koto!!” Having heard her sister’s voice, Suzune rushed to her side, opposite to Shin’s. No one felt it was appropriate to comment about how Suzune changed the way she called her sister. “It’s me!! Suzune!! Do you recognize me!?” “Yes…I do.” She appeared to have fully regained her senses as she talked with Suzune: a kind smile appeared on Kotone’s lips, to Suzune’s relief. “Can you stand?” “I’m sorry, my body is sti…” “Sti?” Kotone was hiding her face out of embarrassment, and she stopped talking mid-sentence. Shin inquired what was wrong, and Kotone’s body started shaking. “W-w-why am I dressed so shamefully!?” She apparently had not yet noticed the state her clothes were in. While she was bound the beams of light hid it, but now that they had disappeared, it was clear that her priestess robe was so torn and tattered that it could hardly be called clothes. Her current state was thus even more seductive than being naked, prompting Kotone to try desperately to twist her body to hide it. “Ah…” “Eh…w-why!?!” Maybe it happened because temporarily, she was classified as monster. Or maybe twisting her body gave the coup the grace. Kotone’s robe turned into sand and vanished, just like Mad Sword Legion did. What was left was just Kotone herself, in her most natural state, still held by Shin. Shin quickly looked away, but he couldn’t avoid to see Kotone’s ample bosom and curves, which occupied his field of view before he looked elsewhere. “Use this!” Schnee rapidly pulled out new clothes and covered Kotone with them. “Anyone, please, switch with me!” Shin had turned his neck all the way away in reaction to the sudden situation, but was close to his limits, so he asked for help. Thanks to Schnee, the front side of Kotone’s body was covered, but her back was still bare. He didn’t notice it when she was still clothed, but now that she was naked the sensation of touching her skin was transmitted vividly to his hands. Shin let Suzune, who was in front of him, support her sister and immediately backed away. “Shin, we have to talk later.” “….I’d prefer to solve this peacefully.” Schnee’s smile was scarier than the miasma right now. Despite their mission being accomplished, Shin somehow didn’t feel relieved at all. The group had succeeded in saving Kotone and recovering 『Onimaru』, so they headed to the exit of Cadaver Realm. Kotone still couldn’t move well, so she was transported by one of Suzune’s spirits. “Anyway, good thing the contents of the item box were safe.” Kotone’s clothes had crumbled to dust, but now she had changed to clothes she had in her own item box. A rare occurrence for an inhabitant of this world, Kotone possessed one too. “I’m sorry for…showing you…something so shameful…” Kotone’s face was fiercely red as she answered. She would sometimes peek at Shin, then hide her face out of shame. “Ah, er….I think it’s better to just forg…whoops!” He meant to say “forget it”, but was interrupted by the sudden attack of a flying spirit. After dodging it, Shin noticed that Suzune was glaring at him with a certain amount of killing intent in her eyes. She was walking next to Kotone, hidden from Shin’s view, but moved between them with frightening speed. “If you even whisper the fact that you saw my sister naked, I’ll come for your head.” “I’m not saying a word…hey, I couldn’t even if I wanted to…” Shin answered with a small sigh. The reason why Suzune was so belligerent was that Kotone, after realizing she had been seen naked by a man, lamented that “I can’t marry anymore now…” and asked Shin, the cause behind it all, “won’t you take me as your bride?”. Maybe because she had seen the exchange between Shin and Schnee, while still being embarrassed Kotone showed what appeared to be a teasing side. Suzune, however, didn’t take it as a joke and became extremely wary of them. The two priestesses were orphans and were each other’s only blood relative. Even if she felt gratitude towards Shin, she wouldn’t accept that her sister married him just because he had seen her naked. “I’m never letting you marry my sister!!” “Wait!! I told you that I don’t have the least intention of doing that from the beginning, didn’t I!? I’m getting scary looks already, so don’t say that!!” Even if Kotone had been serious, Shin wouldn’t have accepted. He was instead worried that Suzune would cause an even bigger commotion. “You truly are very nice people.” Kotone looked at Shin and Suzune’s exchange with a peaceful expression on her face. “If you think so, then please do not trouble Shin too much.” “I’m sorry. I was just happy that he reacted like that even to someone like me.” Kotone honestly lowered her head in response to Schnee’s rebuke. Kotone was aware that, having been corrupted by miasma, she would be shunned. Her expression was somewhat shadowed too. “Well…in small doses, it’s okay.” “You will forgive me?” When Shin saw Kotone naked, Schnee was the one to exude the most frightening aura. Kotone had noticed it, so Schnee’s reaction surprised her. “I’m going to have him spoil me too a bit in return.” Kotone was perplexed for a moment by Schnee’s reply, said with a very serious tone, then laughed softly. “Hehe, then I think I’ll tease him a little more.” Afterward, Kotone faintly said “You would touch even a body as tainted as mine?”, so Shin’s position became even more difficult. “No, well, it’s not tainted or anything, isn’t it? The miasma has been fully purified, you are totally pure, Kotone. That was something like force majeure…or so I’d like you to think.” Shin looked distressed, as Kotone was looking at him with imploring eyes, transparent teardrops glistening from their edges. Looking at her expression, Shin even ended up thinking that she could be serious. “What, my sister isn’t enough for you!?” “Wait, are you in favor or against it?!” Shin couldn’t help pointing out the inconsistency in Suzune’s angry words. “I see you get along well with Suzune.” “He does!? Sister, are you sure you aren’t still sick somewhere?” “I hadn’t seen you express your emotions so openly in a long time.” Saying this, Kotone laughed softly. “Kh, my back feels targeted…” Throughout this conversation, an extremely annoyed aura emanated from Tiera and Mitsuyo, in the rear of the group. Even if it happened coincidentally, it was a fact that Shin saw Kotone naked, so he took her teasing in stride. Mitsuyo and Tiera’s annoyed mood was, however, clearly visible on their faces, and Schnee’s smile, completely lacking any intimidation, was the scariest one. (Why isn’t there a teleportation point in the boss room, just like the game…?) Shin ended up wishing that feature remained. Shin knew it would just postpone the problem, but he wanted to escape the current situation as soon as possible.