When you find yourself making out with the bride to the wedding in the middle of a Demon King’s castle, there is only one option. You run. As soon as Bernard screamed my name, and the jig was up, I dropped a bunch of smoke bombs from my Inventory and ignited them. I grabbed Carmine, picked her up in my arms, and started running for the door.
Although I was much stronger than I used to be and could pick up a normal girl in my arms easily, Carmine was a large, muscular woman. Her large chest alone added many pounds, and so I found myself panting after carrying her only a few meters. I still high-tailed it to the door while the grounds exploded in confusion and surprise. I only just made it to the door when the smokescreen I had created disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.
The Demon King had managed to blow it all out a window in a matter of seconds. Just what kind of air control did that guy have to do something so easily? The elites who had been guarding us spun in embarrassment as they realized I had slipped passed them. They turned and started running toward us. Bernard was trying to give chase too, but the procession of people in the way made it impossible for him to get past.
Just as the guards finally got turned around and started sprinting toward me, there was an explosion shaking the entire room and creating even more panic. Alarms started to sound outside as an invasion of the capital began. They had arrived, and not a moment too soon.
“We’re ready!” I heard a voice suddenly break in through Slave Communication.
“About time!” I shouted out loud to no one in particular, and then I activated the device in my hand.
Since I had entered the castle, I had been dropping crystals all over the place at the orders of Xin. Once Xin got into the castle, she could activate them, and they’d each open a Portal. They functioned much like the transportation kiosk in the dungeon, and like that, hundreds of human soldiers were teleported all over the castle. The elites gave chase, but as I passed an intersection, a dozen human soldiers pounced on them, forcing the elites to stop and engage in combat. I could still hear Benard screaming from behind, but I had my mind locked on a specific location.
“My hero!” She gasped, looking at me with loving eyes. “I love you!”
“Hah… you’re going to be super embarrassed once you come back to your senses,” I responded. “Which will be happening in just a second!”
I stopped and then shoved through a door. We burst into safe room number fifty. It was the last one. I hadn’t completed it yet. Carmine in my arms suddenly went limp, causing me to kneel and put her down. When I checked her, her eyes were closed. The shock of having the miasma cleansed knocked her unconscious. This was something I hadn’t expected!
As the battle raged outside, I cast various spells on Carmine, but she didn’t wake up again. My brow furrowed. It looked like I would have to do this without her help. That was fine. It was always going to be Xin finishing this battle, anyway. Since the moment I saw the Demon King move a few days ago, I knew there was little I could do in a fight of that level.
Thankfully, we were safe in this room. Even Bernard probably couldn’t find this room, given how much he was under the dungeon’s control. As for Carmine, she never would have entered this room if I didn’t carry her directly into it. The result was that she had been rendered unconscious. Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait and see if she got back up.
I glanced around the room, looking at the final kiosk. According to Xin, there was no last trial in the 50th room. Once you had made it into the Demon King castle, you had already progressed far enough into the dungeon that it didn’t really make sense to delay you longer. I also took a look at the mural. It was as expected, depicting the prince battling his father. However, he did not have the Silvthril sword, since it had failed in the original story. This time would be different though.
I started to put on the armor, one piece at a time. It was a very strong armor, plus there was a synergy by having all the pieces. I also had a feeling that I would need it to survive. I guess I would end up being the knight in shining armor that Carmine had wanted all along. Looking down at her, I could only give a wry smile. There was another boom, and the castle shook again. This time, the castle continued to shake long after. I could hear battle occurring outside my door.
“Master… the Demon King has retreated to his sanctum in the throne room. He’s protected by a hundred knights.”
“What about Bernard? The Demon Prince?”
“He’s a no show! He took off! He seems to be looking for something!”
I couldn’t help but make an irritated noise. I had thought the dungeon would end up forcing Bernard to do what he did historically. It looked like I underestimated the young hero’s obsession with Carmine. He’d likely never find her as long as she remained in this room, but we needed him.
“Can Xin get the sword from him?”
“Maybe… he doesn’t have it on him.”
I made an irritated sound, although this was actually the best news. If he left it somewhere, then we might have a chance of getting it. This was definitely not the Demon Prince who had wanted to kill his father. This was Bernard who was obsessed with Carmine. He had planned to marry her and worry about defeating the Demon Lord after. Well, with the sword and Xin, we just needed to push into the King’s sanctum, defeat him, and then jump through the portal. Bernard could stay behind and rot in this collapsing world.
“Then what’s the problem?” I asked.
“That shaking you’re feeling? The castle isn’t under siege with explosives or catapults!” Garnet responded.
“That’s the dungeon. We only have a few hours before the clock resets and a new cycle begins.”
“I thought we had the entire day?”
“There isn’t enough mana left. Your presence has caused that to fall apart. The dungeon can’t reach the next cycle, so it’s starting to fall apart!”
“What are you saying?”
“The elites are holding us up. Xin can get through, but by the time we fight our way through and defeat him, it may be too late!”
“Garnet… as far as saving this dungeon…”
“I know… you’ve been planning to destroy the core, right?”
“Xin already explained enough to me. These friends of mine were only shadows of a life lived hundreds if not thousands of years ago. I was blessed for getting to meet them and become part of their lives, but this place… I understand it can’t be saved. Just do what we have to do.”
“Okay.” I closed my eyes and sighed.
“But we don’t have enough time! The dungeon is collapsing early!”
“Then, let’s speed things up, shall we?” I put on the last piece of armor, the helmet.
“What are you planning?
“Can I Portal into and out of the castle now?”
There was a brief silence. “Xin says with the dungeon collapsing as it is, you should no longer be restricted. But you still won’t be able to Portal into the throne room, if that’s what you’re suggesting.”
“It isn’t,” I responded. “Bring one of my tamed monsters right in front of the enemies. It’d be best if you stayed behind him.”
“Ah… if you say so.”
I walked up to the kiosk. I only had about 35% control of this dungeon. I hoped that’d be enough. I touched the kiosk and registered, then disappeared, leaving Carmine behind. Where I was going, I couldn’t bring her with me. Hopefully, she woke up and regained her senses in time. If not, I’d have to return for her.
Once appearing in a new safe room, I walked out of a dilapidated ruin and onto the beach of a beautiful, quaint lake. Except, the ground was shaking and it didn’t look particularly beautiful anymore. The sky had turned dark, and there looked to be strange tears across it. The ground was cracked in various places and the lake was sloshing back and forth. This world really was falling apart.
I opened up a Portal, and then jumped through. I ended up in the middle of the lake. I hit the water with a splash, and then immediately began sinking. With the weight of so much armor, I had no choice but to sink straight to the bottom. My ears popped as I went, but I concentrated on holding my breath. When my feet hit the ground, I looked around the murky depths.
That’s when the mermaid appeared next to me, a bright glowing pearl still in her hand. She touched me gently with familiarity. I didn’t have the means of communicating with her like Slave Communication. I might get a Monster Communication someday, but today I had to speak with my body. I reached out my hand and grabbed her. I held on tightly, and then I brought up my Map. I selected a monster that seemed to be fighting on his last legs as the elites continued to hold the hallway leading to the throne room.
I opened a Portal. There were a few seconds of waiting, and then suction began. Water started flowing through the Portal. Resisting the flow for a few seconds, I got sucked right through alongside the mermaid I was clinging to.