The group of us returned to the 29th floor. The door closed behind us to rejuvenate the next boss after the giantess. I didn’t think she had lied to us, but even if she did, I had peeked past the doors on this side, and if push came to shove it should be enough for me to Portal to the other side of the boss room. Therefore, we had nothing to lose.
We took a break and ate something. Faeyna insisted on cooking, but she found herself slightly disappointed that she hadn’t had a chance to gain levels yet. The last few levels had been surprisingly light on enemies, and while taming gave my Monster Tamer a ton of experience, it hadn’t affected any of my other jobs, let alone the girls’ jobs.
Finally, we touched the Kiosk and set to go to the 34th floor. I was only a little surprised when it actually worked. The group of us disappeared from the room into a similar-looking one. In this one, the door was shut permanently and could not be opened again until the boss was dealt with. Furthermore, down below, there was no door, but a light flickering beyond. It was time to take on the final boss.
We had already been prepared to fight the final boss today, so nothing had really changed. We had met the giantess, and although we hadn’t managed to defeat her in a typical way, I wouldn’t say that it was so bad that we were dispirited. In a serious fight, there was no saying whether we could have eventually dropped her or not. It might have taken a lot of time and all of our most powerful skills, but we might have been able to do it.
Knowing that the boss after her ought to be even more powerful than that left me feeling a bit worried, but I tried to remain optimistic. If push came to shove, I would heal the girls, and we’d all flee back up and Portal away. Even if we did fail, the mission would be complete. After walking into that boss room, I’d know the fate of the King. If we could help him escape, we would.
Thus, defeating the final boss was not truly our goal here, and that took a lot of pressure and worry off of us. The me who had charged into the final boss rooms of Mina’s and Karr’s dungeons had truly been too naïve, and if it wasn’t for various special circumstances, I absolutely would have died in both situations.
While the girls started checking their supplies and making sure they were ready for the fight, I went to check the mural. This was the final piece of the puzzle, and thus the most important part to me. There were eight murals in all depicting what happened in the dungeon. That was eight chances to unwrap its secrets. Furthermore, the bosses themselves usually held some key. As the giantess herself said, every boss was created with the feelings and thoughts of the people involved in the curse. In that respect, understanding the bosses was another part of understanding the dungeon. It was a siren, a copycat, and a giant. What would the final room show me?
As my eyes looked upon the mural, I saw the image of a woman in a room with a man. The woman who was a maid was standing by his bedside, and he looked like he was dead. This must be the point where he had been poisoned by his wife, except… this woman looked to be his wife as well! She was glowing with power, and then, in the next image, it showed her in his place as he wept at her feet. The final image showed him on a throne, with a crown on his head.
“Oh… no…” I gasped.
“What? What is it?” Celeste asked excitedly, looking at the mural absently.
“Do you see?” A voice came from the stairway, causing all of us to glance over. “Do you understand it now?”
Standing there was a man who looked to be in his 50s with a grey beard. He had a straight back, strong features, but seemed to be wearing a pair of loose-fitting pajamas, which took away a bit of his regal air.
“Hello, King Aberis,” I responded simply.
“K-k-king!” Lydia cried out, falling to her knees.
The other girls followed suit, with only me remaining standing as I glanced at the King suspiciously. He did look a bit like his son. He was an attractive man with a sort of vigorous air about him. Although he looked old, he also appeared like the kind of guy who could lead an army and fight in a battle. He had a certain awe-inspiring air about him.
“It’s time you come home,” I said in the gentlest voice I could.
He snorted loudly. “Who is telling me that? Some stranger like you?”
“Your son sent me. He requested that I bring you out of here.”
He raised an eyebrow, not out of curiosity but derision. “Oh, he did, did he? Well, go back to Junior and tell him to quit bugging old men!”
With that, he spun around and started walking down the stairway. I followed behind him, and the startled girls all got up and joined behind.
“Your daughter is also worried!”
“Haha… now that I don’t believe!”
“It’s true! She said that she was scared you were hurt and that she missed you!”
He stopped for a second, looking back. “R-really?”
I nodded and lied. “She did!”
“Bah!” He shook his head. “She’ll be fine without me. She just needs to find a good man and settle down. Not someone like you, though. I won’t have my daughter marrying some Dungeon Diver for hire!”
“I’m a Viscount, my lord. Viscount Deek Deekson.”
“Is that so? Never heard of you. I take it you’re a new noble, huh? So, my son sent you down here because he’s too scared to come himself? Hmmm… what a child!”
“I don’t understand…” Lydia whispered to Miki, “I thought he was trapped down here? Isn’t this the final bosses’ room?”
He stopped again and spun back so quickly I almost jumped. He took Lydia’s hand and without missing a beat, kissed the top of it.
“I’m sorry, my sweet dear, I didn’t introduce myself properly. I am King Edward Aberis the first. Well, I would be if that loser of a son of mine didn’t become second!”
“What do you mean?” I demanded. “You’re still alive! Why would he become second?”
“I quit! I stopped being King a long time ago. Go tell him that. Tell him I quit.”
“You can’t quit! You’re the King!”
“What’s the point of being a dictator if you can’t even dictate when you’re done doing it?”
I blinked at his words, and he made a face and waved his hand disgustedly. “Ah… whatever.”
“I still don’t understand what’s going on!” Shao spoke up for the rest of the girls who all had confused expressions.
About the only one following along with the conversation was me. That’s because I had already worked out some of what was happening. It was a guess really, but as we entered the boss room, I got my answer immediately.
The room was large, just like any boss room, but it was also filled with treasures. It looked like someone ransacked the treasure room and brought stuff out here like they were setting up to live. There was a large four-canopy bed, dressers, clothing, jewelry and food strewn about the room. There was movement on the bed, and a beautiful woman seemed to rise from the sheets.
“Hmmm… oh? You’ve brought guests?” she asked in a beautifully angelic voice that made even Celeste feel slightly jealous.
“They were just leaving!” He snorted before a big smile formed on his face, and he ran over to her lovingly.
“Deek, do you get what is going on?” the girls asked.
“Girls… meet the Widow of Widow’s dungeon. She gave her life so King Aberis could live. She would be his wife, Queen Aberis!”
“If you know this much,” the King sighed as he sat in a chair next to the bed that contained his wife, “Then you understand why I stayed and why haven’t left.”
“So, that story was about you? You’re the Hero?”
“I’m no Hero…” the King shook his head. “Rather, it is my beautiful wife here who is the Hero. They used to call her the Maid Hero. She used to travel the world with that other woman. I was just a young, dumb man with a sword.”
“So… it was the maid who became queen and the other woman who became jealous?” I realized I had the story mixed up a bit.
“You’re not going to stop asking questions until I answer everything, are you?” The King sighed.
“I’m sorry, I’m just trying to understand. For example, how can this dungeon form from your wife’s death if it’s already thirty-five years old?”
“Is that not simple? My wife died thirty-five years ago.”
“What? But Edward and Eliana?”
“Edward is thirty-six years old. As for Eliana… she is actually the daughter of a slave-girl I took a fancy to. Ahem… let’s not talk about that now.”
The woman on the bed had given him a tight-lipped look, and he blushed. This news was a bit surprising.
“Edward is 36?”
“Hmph… he looks and acts young, doesn’t he? However, you can see he is clearly old enough to rule. There is no reason for him to refuse the crown. He should have taken it a decade ago, but he’s been afraid he won’t be able to do the job well. If you think I left the kingdom just for myself, you’re too naïve. I was also giving him a chance to finally take the throne. After six months of disappearance, he should have already claimed it.”
“He hasn’t! Plus, Ost republic is causing issues, and so is the Imperial Cloud. He needs your help, he really does.”
“I can’t help him forever,” the King responded, looking away sadly. “At some point, a man has got to become a real man. I just don’t know how to get him to see it.”
“Then… come back with me! Maybe we can convince him together!”
“I’m sorry… Deekson, was it? I won’t be returning. I heard a rumor that my wife was resurrected in this dungeon. I took the chance. Now, here I am. I’m not willing to lose her again, so I will remain here by her side, even if I can never touch her.”
He shot her a questioning expression, but the woman herself raised her hands and spoke. “It’s alright. You must understand that I’m only a fragment of the real queen’s soul and memories, corrupted by this curse. I’m a cursed being and by all accounts a monster. That’s what happened to everyone he came with; they all died fighting me. I consumed their souls. Husband managed to contain me and erect this barrier. While I am on this bed, my mind is kept in control, and I will not attack, but it is no existence for my husband to remain as my bodyguard.”
“Elaya, what are you saying?”
She smiled sadly at him before turning to me. “Since I have my mind now, I recognized that I am nothing but a broken existence, a monster that feasts on the souls of the living! Husband won’t listen. He has abandoned life to sit vigil over my grave, but it hurts my heart every day to see him like this.”
“Elaya! Enough!” His face turned angry.
“So… I ask you, please, while my soul is contained, kill me, and allow Husband to finally leave and return to his responsibilities.”
“Don’t listen to her!” King Aberis spun to me. “If you take a step near us, I will cut you all down where you stand! I will protect this dungeon with my life!”
Through various circumstances, it turned out that the final boss is none other than the King himself!