I ran at full speed and arrived at Keika Village in about ten minutes.
The dragon was sitting near the rectangular pond and was drinking water.
--Or rather, wasn't the surrounding barrier broken? I guess I'll have to restore it again.
When thinking about it, maybe I should make it strong enough that even dragons wouldn't be able to pass.
But then there's a possibility that people won't be able to cross it as well.
"So. What the hell did you come here for?"
"Oh. It's been a while, Keika. Something troublesome came up."
"The treaty of non-aggression with the humans might crumble if you won't stay at the mountain."
"I know already, but it couldn't be helped!"
"Heh. What happened?"
The dragon frowned while looking serious.
"The truth is... I can't complete the dungeon."
"You came here just to consult with me about your hobby!?"
I was taken aback while I spoke, but the conversation turned back serious immediately.
"What's wrong with that? You're the one who captured the dungeon I had made at great pains!"
"I should be the one who's angry. ...So, what's the problem?"
"I can't get my hands on any eye-catching big monsters."
"Hm? Haven't you given up on big monsters?"
"Dungeons are all about floors after all. And floors need floor-bosses! There's no way to get a high rank in the contest without any rare and strong monsters."
"Didn't you have a Crystal Boa, a Sand Whale, a Dragon Zombie and a Magic Golem at that time?"
"And you have eliminated them all..."
She looked at me with with a reproachful look in her eyes.
--That's your own fault.
"Can't you just paint your body and appear on the fifth, tenth and fifteenth floor?"
"As if I could do such low budget play! That would be way too embarrassing."
"I don't have any ideas. And I don't care about your contest. The world is in a crisis, you know?"
The dragon's eyes went wide.
"In that case, I think there is a relation."
"You want to kill the Demon Lord but don't have the holy sword, right?"
"I'm surprised you know. I already have my sights set on the raw materials and the creating process. Than all I need are the gems from Edelstein."
"I see. Do you already have the 'Silver Iron', which doesn't exist in this world?"
"You have to mix it with the gems and the pulverized Holy Dragon Fang to forge the Heaven Calling Holy Sword, right?"
"Eh? Lilille didn't tell anything about that..."
The corners of the dragon's mouth distorted as if she had eaten something bad.
"I don't want to talk bad about that goddess, but... she's a little unmindful I guess..."
"Ah, as I thought. Does everyone think so?"
"Yeah. But please don't tell her that I've said that."
"I certainly did have some doubts that only some gems and bones would be sufficient to make the sword. --So, from the flow of the talk I guess that the Silver Iron is a prize in the contest?"
"Exactly. You want the Silver Iron and I want to win because of the prestige and because I'll then get five additional floors."
"Then you can make 20 floors?"
"Yeah. I want them by all means for the eggs. At present I put the rooms for the eggs on two floors. I don't have to worry about them being stolen if the floors aren't used."
"I see, that makes sense. I've actually found another egg since then. Lilille is holding onto it."
"I that so. I'm glad. I already can't bear it anymore to be separated from my eggs. I'll put my faith in the hands of the gods."
"You're thinking of a Deus Ex Machina?"
"Well, it basically means that everything is resolved by the direct intervention of the gods. Originally it was a technique used in theater where a god appeared for example by hanging on a mechanical system and then told the end of the story."
"That's interesting. A god hanging on a mechanical system..."
"*Hmmm*", the dragon bent her long neck while being in thoughts.
The wind blew, made my black hair sway and crossed the fields.
"I'd like to help since I want the Silver Iron, but you'd first have to tell me more about the dungeon. Otherwise there won't come any ideas to mind."
"That's certainly true. As a first outline, I'll make two dungeons with fifteen floors each. They are separated into beginner and advanced level."
"We broke through the advanced level. Is the first floor something like a community area? There were neither traps nor treasures."
"Stray monsters were permanently entering the dungeon, so I already gave up that floor. I plan to leave it as is."
I remember the first floor. It was a normal dungeon. The passage was a maze and there were lots of empty rooms.
"You're thinking about it the wrong way."
"That's too normal. There are no dreams behind it."
"Dreams...? But no matter what I put there, it's immediately taken, and when putting traps there..."
"It's fine even if there aren't any traps or treasures. Instead, you should make the interior like a royal tomb. Make a large room in the center and small, empty rooms around it. In the center could be a sarcophagus and at the wall a huge stone statue..."
"That way, even if there are no treasures on the first level, it'll look like there are good items to get. Adventurers will then challenge it one after another."
"I-I see... first you'll have to create the mood, huh."
"That's right. Looking like there are lots of things to steal is also a trap. It's a psychological trap. And the small rooms are made for wild monsters to live in."
The dragon nods with sparkling eyes.
"That small change can be done with few DP as well. Let's try this!"
"Ah, that's the abbreviation for Dungeon Points. You receive them for repelled intruders or when the dungeon hasn't been conquered for some time and so on. They are consumed by traps, treasure chests, monsters and the like."
"I see. How many do you have?"
"At the moment about 45000 DP. A door costs 100 DP and a maze 1000 DP, so it quickly dwindles when tampering with all floors.
"What does it cost to summon a Goblin?"
"That are 10 DP. One DP equals one gold coin. But creatures will die if they don't create an ecosystem."
"I see--, speaking of which, on the second floor was the snake, rats and trees. On the third floor were ants and caterpillars."
"The rat population exploded after the snake was dead on the second floor. It was really bad. Even middle class snakes were devoured when put there..."
I ended up laughing without feeling bad for the dragon.
"*Ahaha*, so what became of it?"
"They began to devour each other, and at the end, the remaining one evolved into a golden King Rat."
"Isn't that a good thing? But to think that they are also evolving... It might be interesting to aim for that."
"Sure. But there isn't much time left. I completely neglected it because the dungeon was already complete, but the contest is in one month."
"That's really soon. Then, why don't you place the King Rat on the 15th floor and make it into a complex maze."
"That's troublesome. I made the 14th and 15th floor large enough for me to enter and put the eggs into hidden rooms there. Also, I don't want to place monsters on the same floors as the eggs."
"That's no good."
"Right? That's why I'd place the King Rat on the 13th floor at most..."
"No, that's not it. I meant that it's no good to hide the eggs in hidden rooms."
"Why? Won't they be taken if they're not hidden?"
"That's pretty much like saying that they are valuable if they are hidden. I for example would find them even if I had to break the walls down. Then I'd think that they are valuable and take them with me."
"*Gulp*... then, tell me what I should do!"
The dragon shouted with a sobbing face. It was the face of a mother this time.
"They'll only be snatched away if they are hidden. You should make them into key items instead."
"What do you mean?"
The dragon tilted her long neck.
"Let's see. How about locking the room with the stairs and put an egg on a pedestal? The door will open when the egg is picked up and the challengers can advance. And the walls and floor are covered with so many spear traps, that the egg has to be carried with both hands. You can just write it on a signboard somewhere."
"Then, the door to the room with the stairs to the next floor will open when the egg is placed on a pedestal in front of the last room. The door will close in an instant should the egg be removed. The adventurers have to leave the egg behind to go through the door. To avoid the traps and thinking that it is the key item that opens the door, they'll leave the floor without thinking about taking the egg."
"Also, having to carry the egg with both hands has another point to it. No matter whether it's carried by a swordsman or a priest, one member of the party won't be able to participate in battle. The war potential is greatly diminished. Additionally, all traps will be triggered simultaneously when the egg is let go off and everyone will be skewered and die."
"*Oooooh*! You're... a devil! So I'll be able to not only protect the egg but also repel the challengers! How wonderful!"
The green eyes of the dragon were sparkling while she smiled.
--Well. I am glad that she's happy with it up to this point.
"But isn't this all advanced level?"
"Just like with you at that time, the worst case could always occur. I'd like to be prepared for anything."
"You certainly should be thoroughly with respect to the eggs. There's also another option: To make the eggs a part of collectibles."
"Hm? What do you mean?"
"You'll scatter a triangular pyramid, a ball and a cube in the dungeon and they'll have to be placed in front of the final door in the correct order. Hints to the correct order will be written on signboards around the dungeon."
"I see. I also won't have to worry about it being taken away if it's part of collectibles, huh."
"And if the order is wrong, you could move the egg to a save place and then drop acid or cause explosions."
"That's dreadful! I could make the holes soft by using felt. --I see, they'll only be snatched away if they are hidden. And conversely, they won't be regarded as valuable when they're boldly in the open."
"Of course you'll have to apply some hardening magic to the eggs. Can you do that?"
"There's no problem. Even a holy sword wouldn't be able to scratch them. They can't be opened before they are born."
The dragon answered with a serious look on her face.
I further told her another idea.
"Next, there's also the option to hide something in between many of the same item."
"I thought about that as well, but won't that have the opposite effect? Isn't that like telling that there is something of value?"
"That's why that'll also be a key item. For example you can make it so that many similar items are inside a large room and the door will only open if the real egg is placed in the arms of a goddess's statue."
"Moreover, if a fake egg is placed there, you could drop acid and make it explode."
"Yo-You're a devil, Keika. How can you think about that again and again..."
"I learned it after I've gone through it once. The important thing is to attack the psyche."
"Attack the psyche... can you give an example?"
"Let's see. When speaking of your dungeon, there was the huge room with the boat inside on the floor with the waterways, right?"
"Yes. I placed it there because I thought it might definitely be surprising."
The dragon looked a little proud while she said that.
However, I completely crush her confidence.
"It certainly was surprising, but that's all. That's no good. There should be a waterfall that lets everyone die who boarded the boat. The real exit should then be under a treasure chest, which has to be moved aside."
"So I should make the boat itself a trap?"
"Anybody would think that the boat is the correct way to clear the floor if it's placed there. And you had traps on the stepping stones, but you should remove them. You should invite the challengers instead."
"Th-That's dreadful... I'm glad that you're not a dungeon master!"
I frowned with my arms crossed.
"The Demon Lord is even more dreadful... I still remember how I had to kill and dissect my own companion to clear it. I still have a heavy trauma from it even now."
The feeling of killing my important Celica with my own hands.
The more I cherish her, the more I recall that bad sensation.
That's really the most evil. I'll never be able to forgive Vanus just for this alone.
"The Demon Lord's dungeon? Did you capture the castle in the north?"
"No, I mean the Tower of Trials. Haven't I told you? There are only five levels, but they are--"
The dragon's face distorted from digust while I explained it to her.
"To think that there is something like that... that dungeon is... I feel sick just by hearing about it."
"Yeah, that's true. Vanus certainly has the right personality to be the Demon Lord."
"Vanus!? Does that mean that the god Vanus is the Demon Lord!?"
"Hmm, didn't you know?"
The dragon cast her serious looking eyes downward.
"Not really. It's not like I'm constantly watching the gods' movements. But this is troublesome..."
"This time, a dungeon made by Vanus is participating as well."
"Eh? He shouldn't be able to move currently..."
"Well, representatives of the Vanus church are participating. It's probably their first time."
"Heh... that sounds tough. But, why suddenly... hmm, might they participate to prevent the holy sword from being created?"
--Just how far do they intend to get in the way? I'll have to weaken them somehow.
The dragon stretched her neck and spoke.
"At any rate, thank you for the good ideas. As expected of the man who became a hero. I'll implement the ideas as quickly as possible."
"Do your best."
"Well then, I'll come again."
"Coming again, huh... can't you take the shape of a human? That appearance is quite problematic..."
The dragon frowned disagreeably.
"Why should I, the mightiest dragon, mimic a human?"
"Then, at least make yourself smaller. I'll be troubled if the barrier is broken again."
"I'm sorry about that. I'll make myself smaller when I visit the next time."
"Yeah. Well then--"
--Then. People came running from the village.
The one in front has green hair and large breasts, that are bouncing up and down. The girl behind her is wearing a white dress and has blue twin tails.
They were Fioria the elf and Lapisia.
"Keika-sama, Keika-sama! It's terrible!"
"What's wrong, Fioria?"
"I was just contacted by my elf companions through the fairies-- It seems that World Tree-sama is dying!"
"What did you say!?"
-- Speaking of which, Lilille had said that the World Tree was weak.
"Somehow, please! Please save World Tree-sama!"
I looked at the dragon.
"It's an emergency. Please take us to the World Tree."
"It can't be helped. Get on."
The dragon bent her neck for us to easily get on.
"Lapisia, you'll come with me!"
The dragon spread her wings once I and Lapisia were on her back.
"Keika, hold on tight!"
"It's alright. Fly as fast as possible!"
"You don't have to tell me!"
"*Hmph*", the dragon smiled and took off.
Fioria shouted from below while she held her hair down.
"Somehow, somehow, please--!"
Leaving her earnest wish behind us, the dragon we had mounted flew westward.
Yuusha no furi
87: Dragon Consultation