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Chapter 199

“C-can I ask, exactly what kind of healer are you?” I decided to alleviate my curiosity quickly.

She smiled sweetly and put her finger over her mouth. “That’s a secret!”

“Is that so…”

When she winked at me, I felt my heart beating faster. However, when I looked back at the other girls, my heart skipped a few beats. At this point, I’d definitely have a coronary!

I was honestly a little disappointed that she wouldn’t tell me. She could be a rogue Priest. I could imagine if that was the case, she wouldn’t want the church to know about her. Well, now that I was a Dark Priest, I didn’t want to be noticed by the church either.

“So, you are a Priest then?” She asked cautiously.

I shook my hands. “No, I’m not. Actually, I’m a magician that specializes in healing magic. White Mage.”

I wanted to be 100% clear that she didn’t need to hide it from me if she was worried. I did notice that there wasn’t even a tinge of recognition when I said white mage, so the chances of her being one were gone, regrettably. She did look slightly more relaxed when I revealed I wasn’t a Priest.

“What are you doing in the city of Penbrooke? We’re about as far into the country as you can get. This is no man’s land.”

“Is that so?” We… um… we’re just passing through on our way to the Capital.”

“Oh, is that so?”

I had never bothered to get the name of the city before. Penbrooke was about three days total travel from Old Chalm, and they considered themselves as a city out in the boonies. What did that make Chalm? Actually, I was pretty single-minded when it came to heading to the Capital to accomplish the things I wanted, but Penbrooke was indeed the closest city to Old Chalm, and it’d probably be a good idea to have some good relations to them. If we needed to flee a bad event, they’d likely be the city housing our citizens, and if we needed help, they’d be the first to be able to respond.

“What did the mayor mean when he was talking about the dungeon?” I asked curiously, trying to change the subject away from talking about us.

“Hmm? Oh, the entire reason this town was set up is that we sit on top of an ancient dungeon. However, it’s been sealed for years.”

“Isn’t that dangerous?” I asked.

I had heard that attempting to seal entire dungeons lead to build-ups. As the dungeon consumed more mana, it produced more monsters, and it became like a volcano ready to erupt at a moment’s notice. At least, that was how I came to understand the concept.

“No…” She shook her head. “You misunderstand. This isn’t an active dungeon. Rather, it’s a dead one.”

“Dead? Then… shouldn’t it collapse?”

“Ah?” She raised an eyebrow. “I mean, I’m not sure how much you know. Dungeons are supported by a curse, and that curse is created by the dungeon’s unfinished lore. One can defeat a dungeon two different ways. The first way is to simply destroy the lore, undoing the curse and leading to the dungeon’s collapse. The second way is to complete the lore, which is a near-impossible feat that only a True Dungeon Diver can accomplish. However, there is also a third method. That is to starve the dungeon. If you can block its ability to intake mana, it slowly shrivels up and dies. And I mean slowly. The mana flow was blocked on this dungeon a few hundred years ago.

“You’d find no monsters in the dungeon, and the dungeon itself wouldn’t be able to plant traps. Although, the awards would be nonexistent too. However, every year, a few nobles would show up planning to defeat the dungeon so that they could become official Dungeon Divers. However, they never come out. The place was eventually sealed.”

I leaned close, “Why is that?”

“They say… at the bottom of the labyrinth lives a guardian. It’s able to power itself apart from the labyrinth, and it defends what remains of the lore. There is a rumor… that if you can destroy the lore, you can also take control of the guardian. Imagine it… a weapon of unimaginable power!”

Chapter 200

“The guardian… it couldn’t be the legend you were discussing with the mayor, is it?” Something about the way she grew excited talking about the dungeon helped me put that together.

“Oh… you listened to that, did you?” She blushed. “If I must be honest, I came to this city specifically because of that guardian. I had heard of it and had some interest. With that guardian, I can have the um… protection I need… if we could mount an expedition and capture the guardian, wouldn’t it be strong enough to beat back this army of bandits?”

I supposed that made sense. She was a healer like me. Even right now, her beauty was causing her trouble. The city was her guardian today, but it had to hurt her to allow them to fight and die for her. Wouldn’t any woman be attracted to that kind of power? A guardian that could keep her safe and allow her to have her free will? Perhaps it might even be a guardian against the church.

“Ah… so you wanted to go down and see, but the mayor wouldn’t risk everything on a chance? He needs every man for the wall, I guess?”

“Yes…” she nodded. “and what of you? Why do you ask so many questions about dungeons? Are you just a healer?”

“Master is much more than a healer!” Miki said stubbornly, “He’s also a True Dungeon Diver.”

“Ah! Yes… she’s right.” I said, bonking her on the head. “I’ve been in a few dungeons. I guess you could call me a Dungeon Diver.”

Miki rubbed her head and lowered it in repentance. She slipped up because of Carmine’s tone when she spoke about me. It had just a bit of condescension in it. I didn’t want anyone to know I was a Dungeon Diver, let alone a true one unless I absolutely had to. I still kept my tattoos hidden, even though the Guild Master thought that no one would be able to recognize them for what they are even if they were exposed.

However, once Carmine heard what Miki said, her eyes brightened considerably and she put her hands on mine. “Oh! You’re really a Dungeon Diver? Then, please, go with me. Take me down into the dungeon. I know if I have you by my side, I definitely will be able to bring the guardian back and protect this city!”

“You want to abandon the city? We don’t know how long this would take. In my experience, even small dungeons take months to explore.

She grabbed my hands tighter, and I was stuck between the heat on my cheeks and the cold looks in the back of my skull.

“It shouldn’t take long at all! The dungeon has withered significantly. The levels shouldn’t be very many or very deep. I think we could reach the bottom within a single day.”

“Ah… but what about healing? The bandit is upon us now!”

A quick twitch of irritation flashed on her face. “You shouldn’t worry about that brute! The Bandit King is a coward and won’t attack the city after marching to get here. He also won’t attack during the day! That means, if we go now, we have a full day and night to reach the guardian. This could be the key to saving everything, don’t you see?”

She was getting really close to my personal space. Her nose was right up to mine. The other girls were slaves, so they wouldn’t normally interrupt when their Master is having a discussion. They were quite docile like that, although Miki slipped a little bit. However, when it came to this woman, they seemed to not like her at all. I knew she was a bit touchy, but they didn’t need to keep shooting me cold stares.

“You seem to know the Bandit King well…” I said haphazardly.

She pulled away, blushing slightly. “Please… I believe we can make it, and if we make it, we can save this city.”

I admitted I was interested in this guardian as well as this withered dungeon. I looked at my girls, hoping they’d give me an answer.

“We do as Master commands,” Lydia responded.

I sighed. “Fine… we’ll help.”

Chapter 201

She was very excited. I only just managed to keep her from hugging me and giving me a kiss.

“Thank you… Thank you so much!” She said. “Then, we should go immediately, but we must sneak there. If anyone in town knows where we are going; they’re going to stop us immediately.”

“Celeste can muffle our movements, right?” I looked over at my girls.

She crossed her arms, “As Master commands, Celeste obeys!”

Did I do something to make the girls angry at me? I really wasn’t doing this because Carmine was just another pretty face. I honestly agreed with her. And, if I could destroy that withered lore and get a few dungeon points, that would be good too. However, I went through it in my head a few times just to be sure, and I wasn’t doing this because she was a pretty girl who needed my help. Right?

“Come,” she grabbed my hand. “We go out the back way.”

I was pulled out the door before I could say anything to the girls. Now was a bad time anyway. It was night now, and I could hear the distant beating of some drums. It seemed to be what Carmine had said. They were setting up and surrounding the city tonight, and wouldn’t attack until after that was done.

Carmine lead the way, literally holding my hand the entire time. I wasn’t blushing! It was just hot outside! My heart wasn’t beating crazily because an innocent girl in trouble with an ability like mine was now depending on me and holding my hand. That’s crazy talk!

Carmine really seemed to know her way too. She ducked smoothly, avoiding the patrols as if she had already paced this route before and was now just doing the timing she had already perfected in her head. Within five minutes, we were standing in front of a locked room. It appeared to be the mayor’s office. Without missing a beat, Carmine pulled out a key and unlocked it. She ushered us inside. After we were out of the public eye, I gave her a look.

“I had copies of the mayor’s keys made.” She said, “Just in case…”

I was starting to suspect that she had wanted an excuse to get the guardian for a while now, and the Bandit King was just one in a long line of excuses she had used.

We ended up heading down a flight of stairs, and it was in the basement that we finally saw the massive doors to the dungeon. These were chained up with large thick chains, but it looked like Carmine had acquired the keys to this as well. The chains noisily fell to the floor. She opened the door, and a wave of stagnant air washed over us. The dungeon was really like the maw of a mouth waiting to eat you. If we entered, I’d be back in a dungeon again. Of course, we were packed for a long journey and she had assured us this wouldn’t even take that long, but it still left me feeling a bit anxious.

“Come on…” She didn’t hesitate to light a candle and then dive right into the room.

I turned back to my three women. In the dark, I couldn’t see their expressions.

“I want you to know… if you don’t want to do this… we can turn away.”

I suddenly felt myself being hugged by three women.

“We know, Master…”

“This is just Master’s way.”

“Master doesn’t need to say it…”

I felt three kisses on my cheeks, and then the girls pushed me back through the door.

{You have entered Terra’s Dungeon.}

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