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“Calypso! Why have you betrayed us?” The Bandit Hero turned around in shock as she revealed the plan.
“Hmph! Didn’t he already flee with the sword? Who am I betraying? He is a Hero too! He now has it hidden in his Inventory. Neither of us will be able to access it, even if we tortured or killed him. So, we have to force him to take it out of his own volition. That was always your problem, Roxford, so weak and trusting!”
Roxford gave a look of surprise, but he still looked uncertain as he glanced at me. I remained silent, shooting Calypso a scowl that she ignored.
“Father sent me to destroy the sword.” Bernard shrugged. “Once I complete this task, he will accept my marriage to the princess, even at the risk of war. I could just as easily kill Deek here and achieve my goal.”
It was true that all he needed to do was kill me to destroy the sword. It was inaccessible in my Inventory, but if I died it’d become permanently unavailable. I didn’t know if that space collapsed, or if that space just remained inaccessible. I wondered how much equipment in the world had been lost by the death of heroes. It was probably a ridiculous amount.
“Aberon is the Demon King, do you think he will just accept anything? He fears you, and resents you!” Calypso laughed.
Bernard tilted his head thoughtfully while still holding the struggling and kicking Garnet in his hand. As long as he had her, I couldn’t make my move. The sword was the only thing I had, but Bernard didn’t care to take it. I had to let Calypso continue to run her mouth. I already had a feeling about what she was going to say.
“What does this have to do with my father? If he betrays me, then I will kill him.”
“Your father? The Demon King? Do you think he is so easy to kill?” Calypso let out a laugh. “Not at all. If you wish to kill him, you’ll need that sword. Why do you think he sent you to destroy it? The sword holds the power to kill him. It’s his greatest weakness. It’s a sword that has unnatural strength toward demons and other creations of a dungeon. It is the ultimate sword of a Hero. If you had it, you would have untold power.”
“Calypso… what are you doing?” hissed the uncertain Bandit Hero.
I had to agree. She needed to get him to agree to the trade, but if he valued the sword too highly, it might make things messy again. Bernard was considering her words, and after a moment he lowered Garnet back to the ground, but he brought a blade to her neck, causing her struggling to cease.
“Very well. Give me the sword, and I will free the girl.”
I nodded, bringing out the sword. Just as I was going to take a step toward him, working on a plan that would allow me to leave with Garnet at the sword, I felt a sudden violent pull. No one was around me, so I hadn’t been holding the sword with full force. I hadn’t expected it to suddenly yank from my hands. However, it didn’t fly to the Demon Prince, but instead directly into Calypso’s hands! She gave a triumphant smile as she held the sword.
“Give me the sword or I’ll kill the dwarf!” Bernard threatened.
“Be my guest.” She chuckled, “I don’t care about her one bit.”
“Calypso!” It was my turn to curse at her.
As for Bernard, he was a bit surprised, but not particularly worried. He was acting like the situation was still entirely in his control. As for Calypso, I distinctly notice that she didn’t hand the sword to Roxford and kept it next to her. I also noticed she had put some distance between her and Roxford.
“Don’t get me wrong, you can get the sword from me, but I’ll need… a different kind of trade.”
“What are you saying?” Roxford finally started to look uneasy.
“What kind of trade?” Bernard asked cautiously.
“I want out.”
He blinked. “Out?”
“I want to escape this dungeon.”
Bernard and my expressions both turned to shock while Roxford gave a confused look. “Calypso, what are you talking about? What dungeon?”
He looked all around, all but gesturing to the sky as if to show what he meant. What she said must have sounded extremely ridiculous to someone like him. This was just the world. They weren’t underground or anything. However, she had spoken in front of two people who understood immediately. Dungeons could be left. Astria and Elaya were clear examples of that, not to mention the siren and the giant. They still needed a steady supply of miasma, but demons as a species were dungeon monsters who had managed to free themselves from the curse.
Calypso was a Dark Priest. She could only manipulate miasma. That must have been why she became self-aware. It was the same thing as Elaya. Although, while it took Elaya years as the dungeon master to become aware she was in a dungeon, Calypso’s story was reset over and over again. Or… was it? Maybe, Calypso avoided being reset and this was the same Calypso for the last 20 years. Did the bandits always raid the metal during each cycle, or was it Calypso’s influence that had them do it this cycle. There was no telling what she was capable of. She was truly a wild card that I didn’t think even Demon Lord Aberis had thought about.
“You heard what I said. I’ve been searching for an exit for nearly a decade. I began to think it didn’t exist… but then I found a Dungeon Diver and he told me everything I needed to know before he died. The Demon Lord is holding open the exit for the next month and a half. If you help me leave, the sword is yours.
“I will even help you defeat your father. He is the Dungeon Master. Even with your sword, his connection to this dungeon makes him much too powerful. As a Dark Priest, I can interfere with his connection to the miasma, making him vulnerable. You kill the dungeon boss, and I’m allowed to exit this place.”
He licked his lips. “Can you make me the new Dungeon Master?”
She grinned. “If you help me leave, I can make you a Dungeon God! This world will be yours. I will even supply it with miasma so that it can continue to exist another thousand years!”
“Then, we have a deal.” He nodded.
“Calypso, I don’t get what you’re saying!” Roxford walked over to her. “We will not work to overthrow the King just to replace him with his son who has just as little concern for life!”
Calypso unhesitantly struck at him with her blade. He was skilled though and managed to lift his sword and block it. What he didn’t expect was for the blade to slice through his like it was butter, and then strike across his chest. He let out a cry and stumbled back. Only now, the other bandits raised their weapons, but Calypso held the lightly glowing blade as she backed away from them and me toward Bernard. The men were extremely wary of her blade.
Where it had struck Roxford, there was no blood. Instead, the sharp cut was dripping miasma. The Bandit Hero stared at it with a confused expression. He immediately grabbed a potion and downed it, but the wound didn’t start healing at all. It seemed to spread, cracks forming across his skin like he was starting to shatter. This caused his men to not just be wary of her, but to back away from him in fear.
“You will never understand, Roxford, but you are just a dungeon mob, nothing more.” Calypso snorted. “Something this weapon is very adept at hurting. No heal will save you now. With that strike, you are cut from this dungeon. In the next cycle, it will be like you were never here.”
Calypso continued to back away until she stood right next to Bernard, who still had his blade against Garnet’s neck.
“We may go.” Calypso gave a curtsey as she put the sword at her side, not handing it to him yet. “Kill the girl. She has no use.”
“I wanted to finish him off though.” Bernard glanced at me. “She keeps mentioning him. It’s irritating.”
“He’s a nobody.” Calypso shrugged. “Kill him, if you must.”
Bernard looked at the Bandits. All of his knights had seemingly been defeated, and although Calypso acted confident, it would be one on fifty if he fought him.
“If I take the girl, it’ll give you more reason to follow me.”
“Deek!” Garnet finally let out a cry after being manhandled for the last few minutes without any strength of her own to fight back.
“Then take her!” Calypso snorted. “We should get out of here soon.”
“Why?” Bernard asked, also seemingly unperturbed by the Bandits surrounding him.
“She’s worried I might show up.”
Bernard had to shove Garnet away to be able to jump away just as a large staff flew where his head would have been. Calypso let out a shout and jumped away as well. It was at that point that I got a view of Xin, who had suddenly appeared. Her appearance shocked the Bandits, who had the two all but surrounded while not seeing how she had gotten past them. She had also caused Calypso and Bernard to scramble like they had their heads cut off.
“We must leave immediately!” Calypso cried out.
Bernard nodded and grabbed her shoulder. Xin attacked again, but just as he had once done with Carmine, he disappeared, using Return to go to another part of the dungeon. Either he didn’t have the restriction of having to be out of combat, or by dodging her blows and not engaging, he had managed to technically not be in combat with her, allowing the Return to work. Xin stopped as soon as he disappeared, putting her staff to the side calmly like she wasn’t standing in a burning village surrounded by bandits.
“This village had never been destroyed before like this,” Xin muttered under her breath as she looked around. “Too much has changed. Too hard to predict.”
“Hero Xin… it’s you… maybe… we have… a chance?” The Bandit Hero’s cracks had spread to the majority of his body, and he looked on death’s door.
“Roxford the Bandit Hero? What are you doing here? I came to check the Magic Blacksmith’s progress, but I came to see the village burning.”
“We had it…” He gasped. “We had the blade… they… took it.”
She looked Roxford up and down. Seeing his state, she quickly understood what he had meant.
“How? I have seen the Blacksmith fail a thousand times. I had given up on it, although given how much has changed…”
“It was… the Deep Dwarf… she made it.” Bernard’s eyes turned to Garnet, and for the first time, Xin had noticed her.
I started to get a sinking feeling. I ran over to grab Garnet, but Xin suddenly moved, appearing directly in front of the girl.
“A Deep Dwarf Blacksmith?” she looked Garnet up and down.
“M-my name is Garnet!” She said, then she shot me a worried look.
“I have some of that material remaining that I had gathered in previous cycles. You will make me a dagger using what is left.”
“We can do that,” I spoke up, causing Xin to glance over at me.
“You? Oh… you’re still alive.” She didn’t sound unhappy or relieved, just disinterested.
“Why do people keeping saying that? Never mind, if you have some material, then there is still a chance. We make a dagger and then lay an assault. Bernard is going to attack the Dungeon Boss. He’ll be distracted.”
“He always attacks, and he’s always distracted. It happens in 6 weeks, on the day of his wedding.” Xin said.
“He always… well, this time he has the blade!”
Xin shook her head. “Either way, even if I can’t escape this cycle. If I can get that knife, it’ll be easier.”
“Then, we’re allies?” She looked back at me.
“Whoever said you were needed?”
She grabbed Garnet, and before I could say a word, a circle of wind whipped around them. It was violent enough that I had to cover my face. When I finally could look again, both of them were gone. I could feel the slave connection to Garnet. Rather than an instantaneous transport, she was being carried away at a rapid pace. It was far faster than I could walk, and in only a minute, she was already too distant to tell.
Like that, I had lost the sword and Garnet. I was all alone again.