Using the kiosk system, I ended up returning to each safe room and looking over the mural one more time. It’d probably be best if I had been doing this from the beginning. I noticed a lot of details the second time through I might not have noticed before, and being able to order and tie all of the events together like that really helped. We had a mural on floors 1, 5, 9, 15, 19, 25, and 29. That’s seven parts of the story.
“Alright, so this is my best guess based on all of the parts. A long time ago, there was a young noblewoman and her best friend. They were one day attacked, but saved by a young Hero. Both women fell for the Hero, but he only had eyes for the common woman. Through various means, he was forced to marry the noblewoman instead of the one he truly loved.”
“That despicable woman! She should have just shared him!” Lydia growled.
“Eh? I would have poisoned her!” Shao said in surprise.
“Shao! What did I say about killing other potential love interests?”
“Only cut them down emotionally?”
“Good girl!” Shao closed her eyes and smiled happily as Lydia patted her head.
Although it was better, I still needed to have a talk with Lydia about what exactly she was teaching Shao. Lydia pretended to be the guru of love, but her only training was in prostitution, and her first was me, and we’ve only been together for less than half a year.
“Anyway… none of that happened. The Hero ended up with the noblewoman. However, the commoner couldn’t stop loving him, and through various means became a maid in his castle. She managed to woo him into bed. Of course, the noblewoman eventually found out the truth.”
“And then she killed the man?” Miki asked.
“Ah? Murder!” Faeyna gasped.
“Don’t spoil it for her, she hasn’t heard any of this before!”
“First, she tried to make him jealous. She cheated on him. However, something unexpected came from that event. She became pregnant.”
That was one of the details I had missed the first time through. The woman who was having an affair ended up pregnant from the affair. There were hints in the mural, but I didn’t really need them after seeing today’s mural. It showed a pregnant woman on horseback fleeing a castle, her hands covered in blood.
“So, the rest is as you said. She murdered the king, and then she fled.”
“Who is the Widow?” Lydia asked.
“Hmm? Wouldn’t it be the woman who murdered her husband?”
“Maybe…” Her hand touched the window of the castle in the mural, and I realized there was a very small blurry image that could be a woman watching her flee.
By the look of it, perhaps the woman who lamented was the commoner who had her lover killed so brutally. Sadly, I didn’t know, and I couldn’t even begin to guess how this lore was supposed to end. I didn’t know what it was that it wanted. It was a story about three people consumed by desire and temptation, resulting in the fall of a Hero. A lot of curses seemed to be caused by heroes. I wondered for not the first time if there was a connection.
“Let’s go. We’ll destroy this dungeon and find out the lore.”
I only wanted one DP. Wanting more was only falling into the temptation of this dungeon. Thankfully, the points shouldn’t be stolen away like in the last dungeon. I wasn’t ambitious; just one per person was more than adequate for now.
We had prepared in every way we could with armor, spells, and potions prior to heading down. I was confident if push came to shove, we should be able to escape. I also had some hope that the king would be able to help in some kind of fashion. Perhaps he was chained to the pillar, and I could just cut him down or something. At least, that’s what I imagined.
“Huh? Another door?”
We walked down the stairway only to find a door at the bottom of it. Thankfully, it was open. The problem was that it shouldn’t be there. Although I was only basing this off of what I had seen in a handful of dungeons, the last dungeon boss room was always sealed outside the safe room. It wasn’t perfectly clear why the last boss room differed from the others, but I always had a feeling it had to do with the difficulty. The bosses were tests to make sure you were worthy to attempt to challenge the source of the lore, and the final boss room was the actual attempt, once you were deemed worthy of trying.
After testing you so vigorously, it’d be foolish to then cause you to die without even being able to see the final challenge. Perhaps the battle was intended to be a multi-day battle involving rotating teams. I didn’t really know. Only the curses could understand their own existence. It was like trying to understand why a tornado went in one direction instead of another. I’m sure a smart person could eventually come up with an answer, but it would mostly be guesswork.
Taking a breath, the entire group stepped in. I gestured for Faeyna to come with us. I originally was planning on leaving her on the stairway, but the doors worried me. When they closed, she might not be able to get experience if she was beyond them. I knew that the boss room could interfere with Return. It might be able to interfere with Portal too. I had never really had the time to cast it to find out. Even though both abilities worked in dungeons, they didn’t work in boss rooms. It was like that strange artifact that Alysia had found. Even blessings were no more powerful than the dungeons they came from.
The door behind us slammed shut. My eyes scanned the room. It was what I expected—a massive room with a tall ceiling and a long row of pillars. Given the natural theme, vines grew up the walls and the pillars. However, it was basically a bigger version of the boss rooms seen on the twentieth level. Either way, it was a massive room that gave us plenty of room to fight. At least, that was what I thought.
Boom! The entire room shook like a large object had just hit the ground. A moment later, a form stepped out from behind a pillar. My eyes went up and then kept going. There standing in the room was a beautiful woman. However, her head nearly touched the ceiling, and the room looked somewhat small with her there. She… was a giant! No… a giantess!
“So… another came,” she spoke, looking down at our part like insects.
“Master! You can’t have her!” Lydia cried out.
“Are you kidding me? How can I even?!”
“You absolutely can’t take a giant woman home with you!” Celeste called out.
“Alysia’s definitely the maximum size! Master must stick to women his own size!” Terra added.
“I resent that!” Celeste cried.
“Ah! I didn’t mean Celeste! But Celeste is extra stretchy, right? I don’t think Master can grow big enough.”
“What kind of man do you girls think your Master is!”
The girls all looked away innocently. Seething a bit, I turned back to the giantess, who was watching us. She suddenly let out a loud, barking sound, and I realized she was laughing.
“Little human, you are funny. You remind me of the last party that came through. Two in such a short time, this dungeon must be popular.”
“You have sentience… does that mean you’re a first-generation boss?”
I had a running theory that the bosses’ first version were sentient and named, or maybe it was better to say that the longer a boss remained, the smarter they became. Once a new boss was summoned, they would be at a base type and personality. They would be like my Siren girl who couldn’t use words and acted more like a puppy. At some point, someone must have defeated her, but then she remained for a while because of the nature of her challenge.
In new dungeons, like the Mina’s Dungeon, the monsters were too young to gain sentience, but if the dungeon survived, it would continue to support them, and they would become more fleshed out. After a few decades, they might even be indistinguishable from the person they were supposed to represent. That was when the curse didn’t entrap the souls of the people themselves and turn them into abominations.
“First? Hmm… I’ve been here since the dungeon’s creation, so perhaps.”
“What about the King? Was he in the party? What happened to them? You didn’t destroy them, right?”
“Hehe… are you so confident I didn’t kill them all? Many have met their grave before me. Although, I see you aren’t afraid of me. Perhaps that means you’ll be entertaining.”
“Please, I need to know about the King. Where is he?”
“Alright, I’ll tell you what. I’m very powerful, and you will not be able to defeat me. I already see this as the truth. However, I tire easily, and battle bores me. If you can show me your strength and impress me, I will let you pass and tell you what I know. How does it sound?”
“Very well, but you better keep to it.”
“I keep my word.” She grinned. “So, know also that if you fail to impress, I will kill the lot of you, and allow her to consume your souls.”
“I’m confused…” Celeste frowned. “What are you two talking about? Let us move on?”
“You haven’t figured it out yet?” I responded, making a bitter face. “This isn’t the final boss room. This dungeon is larger than we were originally led to believe. It must have grown since the last assessment. This isn’t the final challenge!”