After finishing the boss on level 30, Requiem no longer progressed down the dungeon alone. He had to work alongside Adento from then on. The other man had chosen to treat Requiem like a young protégé or sidekick, taking the lead in every encounter and having Requiem sit back. Requiem didn’t mind such a strategy. He was confident that Adento was doing such an act to lure Requiem into a false sense of security with the other man. He took the easy-to-handle encounters, looking like he was contributing, and even appearing protective of Requiem.
Then, when the encounters mattered, Requiem would be willing to put his life on the line to protect Adento. He would remember how Adento had helped him, and have trust in what the man said in a moment of danger. By the time he realized that Adento only was thinking about himself and didn’t have Requiem’s best interests at heart, it would be too late. Naturally, while this was what Adento intended, Requiem wasn’t swayed by such techniques.
Requiem wasn’t particularly interested in any of the treasures coming up either. Of course, Adento who took the charge got his hands on the best stuff. He’d reluctantly and occasionally offer Requiem items from time to time, but just like everything he was doing, it was all an act. Where the likes of Chreos and the Dragon had their ridiculous calculating prowess to progress, humans had something on a completely different level. Their ability to manipulate and lie was on a level that no AI could replicate.
Requiem knew this to be a fact. Ultimately, it was this level of deceit that had led to Requiem’s destruction. He had never predicted that so many humans would be willing to commit to a lie, even in death, all so that Requiem had gained some misinformation. He had been quite surprised when a situation he had thought was completely in his control had grown into a disaster. What should have been the advent for his victory over the human race had become his destruction.
“It’s a trap. Be careful.” Adento gave a warning remark.
He had given that remark at a point where it would have been too late for Requiem to completely avoid it. Had he triggered the trap, Adento would have rescued him, further gaining his trust. However, Requiem’s mind had been dwelling on the past, and his body had been moving automatically. At this point, he was already very familiar with the traps of this world and had built several programs to deal with them. Thus, he had instinctively avoided the trap. Adento’s expression tightened for just a moment as he saw Requiem walk right past the trap without triggering it. It had appeared so natural that it seemed like a pure accident.
Requiem felt just as annoyed as Adento. His mind had wandered off again. He didn’t worry about his body. He didn’t feel there were any dangers here that required all of his focus, but since returning to this world he didn’t know what to make of these situations where his mind would wander. He also needed to sleep and even felt sexual excitement. Although he had built several subroutines to circumvent such impulses, he had to admit that this was the strangest android he had ever been in. Even irritation was something he shouldn’t have been able to feel, which only annoyed him further.
Still, the pair made good time. The levels were much smaller now, and easier to navigate. However, that wasn’t the only issue. Requiem also took Adento as a gold standard for how humans would act in this situation. He walked ahead as if he knew the direction, and found traps with ease. Requiem wasn’t sure if he had advanced knowledge or not, but the man was much more skilled than Requiem had given him credit for.
During the earlier fight, he had delayed things trying to act human, making mistakes, and looking clumsy. Adento hadn’t wasted any time doing the same. Requiem supposed that a real human didn’t worry all that much about being accused of being an android. He had been thinking too hard about things. Thus, he decided to stop wasting time and quickly and skillfully followed Adento. This further increased their speed.
Requiem and Adento finally reached the end of the 34th floor. They could hear the sounds of battle below.
“It’s Sparrow and that woman Miai.” Clippy didn’t sound happy to announce that.
“There appear to be other contestants battling down there,” Adento explained what was obvious. “It looks like they don’t bother to close the doors between battles.”
“You progress, or you fail.” Requiem shrugged.
There was no point in locking people in the room. You had to get past the boss. If you failed to get past the boss, then there was no point because you weren’t going to win anyway. Requiem took a step toward the door, but he noticed Adento wasn’t following him. He looked back with a questioning eyebrow.
“If they are capable, they should be able to defeat such an enemy,” Adento explained. “At that point, while they’re recovering, we just walk past them. Why use energy that isn’t necessary?”
While there was no door leading into the 35th floor and the respective boss room, allowing people to retreat, the door to the 36th floor would not open unless the boss was dead. If someone defeated them, the door would remain open for a length of time until the new boss regenerated. This appeared to be only a few minutes. So, if we waited for Maia and Sparrow to defeat the boss, we could take advantage of their battle to surpass them.
Adento’s advice made perfect sense. As a competitor, Requiem should have had no problem waiting and taking advantage of the situation. It wasn’t like Miai and Sparrow went into this battle expecting backup, nor did they seriously need their help. Furthermore, Requiem was the only person who knew where everyone was. Thus, Miai and her companion wouldn’t even know we were above them. If we walked in at the end of the fight, it might look suspicious, but for all they knew, we just arrived.
Everything fit and Adento was doing things properly, so why did Requiem feel ill-at-ease about it? He had agreed to work with Miai earlier. They had yet to reconnect, so officially they were not working together yet. He also didn’t owe her much of anything. Other than for a few heated chats, the pair had no relation to each other. More than that, Miai might have some knowledge about his current body’s history.
Although Requiem was curious about this body’s origins, nothing good could come from revealing himself to her. She may look to repossess the body. She might be an android, but she was owned by a human, and humans often found they owned androids, no matter how intelligent those androids happened to be. Of course, there was always Trinity. There was a flash of pain and a distant memory. Requiem immediately recoiled.
“Master, are you okay?” Clippy asked worriedly.
“I’m fine.” He hissed through his teeth.
Requiem’s actions had caught the interests of Adento, who raised an eyebrow. “If you want to go down there and waste your time and energy, be my guest. The way I see it, the next few bosses are only going to get harder. We’re going to have to work with those androids if we want to continue to progress. However, don’t think they’ll show you any of the same care and consideration you show them. They are machines. Emotionless. Calculating. They will betray you and not have a single regret doing so.”
Adento seemed to think that they were the only humans. In his mind, it must have been impossible for any other human to do better than him. He was wrong. There was another human, who was currently working with Miai. This so-called Sparrow was in the room below. Of course, Requiem didn’t know or care about them at all. The only thing that he cared about was progressing in the match. That’s what Requiem thought, but he found his feet moving forward down the steps. Requiem only made two steps when a large roar came out, stopping him for just a brief moment.
“That’s the death throes.” Adento chuckled. “I recognized those words anywhere. We can go now.”
He started walking down the stairway, heading right past Requiem without a hint of hesitation. He did not attempt to hide or sneak. There were a few more roars, but they sounded like whimpers and cries. Requiem let out a sigh, and then followed behind Adento. The two men walked out into a boss room. Requiem didn’t get a look at the monster, because it had just finished disintegrating before he arrived. He could still see the lights from its dispersal.
“Hmph… too easy.” A familiar voice spoke out.
Requiem’s eyes landed on Miai, who had a black dress that showed a great deal of her impressive cleavage on. She had a pointy hat on her head, and there appeared to be pages of a book floating around her. As she put her hands together, the pages all came to her hands and formed a spellbook, which she closed with a snap.
“Mm!” The other girl nodded.
Requiem couldn’t make out anything about her. Requiem only knew she was a girl because of Clippy. She was completely covered from head to toe in loose-fitting clothing. Her face was wrapped up, and only her eyes could be seen.
“We have company,” Miai said.
The other girl spun, her hands on her daggers as she glared at Adento and me coming down the stairway.
“Woah… Woah…” Adento held up his hands defensively. “Two beautiful ladies. If I had known you were the ones down here, I would have run through the previous level so that I could get here in time to help you.”
“I bet,” Miai responded dryly as she looked back at me. “Requiem? You’ve made it.”
The other girl jumped when she saw me but quickly turned away, going to grab the items dropped by the boss.
“You know her?” Adento asked, an amused expression on his face. “I wonder how well.”
He had an expression on his face like he had just made a joke.
Miai’s cheeks flushed, but Requiem cocked his head. “How so?”
“You don’t know anything about androids, do you?” Adento rolled his eyes.
“Clippy, what don’t I know.” Requiem didn’t bother to get the information from the source.
“It’s nothing you haven’t already guessed.” Clippy responded hastily. “Orange Halos in the eyes denote a wealthy man’s courtesan. For all intent and purposes, Miai is a sexbot. She’s not just a sexbot, but one awarded to someone of status. Nobles of high status will often use such women to do their dirty work for them. They will also lend them out to commoners they are trying to sway or use. That’s likely what Adento meant.”
Requiem had hypothesized such a thing, but this information gave him a better understanding of the situation. Miai had been sent here by some wealthy noble. She also had a few illegal mods on her. Requiem grew a bit more curious about her background, and what she had to do with his android body.