”Dammit, why can I find it…? ” It had been three days since Hajime had killed the Claw

Bear, and he had spent every waking moment scouring the labyrinth for a staircase

leading upward.

At this point he had mapped over 80% of the floor. After killing the Claw Bear, Hajimes

stats had made another huge jump, so there was no longer anything on the floor that

posed even a mild threat to him. As such, even though the floor was vast, his search

progressed rapidly, and without incident. Despite that, he was unable to find any stairs

no matter how hard he looked

Actually, that wasn strictly true. While he had been unable to find any staircases

leading up, he had already discovered the staircase leading down two days ago. As the

labyrinth was strictly divided into floors, it stood to reason that there had to be a

staircase leading up as well, but no matter how he searched, Hajime couldn find it.

He had already tried transmuting his own staircase up to the floor above, ignoring the

rules of the dungeon. The only thing he had discovered as a result was that past a

certain point, whether he tried to climb up or down, the walls around him simply

stopped responding to his transmute skill. He could transmute as much as he liked

within the confines of the floor, but the layers that separated the floors seemed to have

some kind of magical protection cast on them. The Great Orcus Labyrinth had been

created during the Age of the Gods. So it wasn that odd for it to have some mysteries


Which was why Hajime had spent his time searching for the actual staircase, but he

was soon coming to realize that he would need to make a choice about what to do if

he couldn find it. That choice was whether or not to delve deeper instead.

”…Another dead end. At this point Ive investigated all the pathways. What on earth is

going on here? ” Hajime sighed tiredly, forced to accept that he wasn going to find a

staircase leading up. Resigned, he began heading back to the room where hed found

the staircase leading down.

The staircase hed discovered two days ago was very roughly carved. It was closer to

a bumpy slope than an actual staircase. Moreover, there was no green glowstone

lighting the way, and the descent was steeped in darkness, giving off an ominous

atmosphere. The darkness and shape of it made the entrance resemble the gaping

jaws of some humungous beast. It felt as if once he entered, he would never be able to

come back out.

”Hah! Bring it on! Ill devour anything you throw at me! ” Hajime ridiculed himself for

his trepidation, and smiled fearlessly. And without any further hesitation, he stepped

foot into the darkness.

Once he started down the staircase, the darkness enveloped him fully. While it

generally made sense for an underground labyrinth to be dark, every floor he had

passed so far had been lit with glowstone. Even if it hadn been bright, it had never

been so fully dark that Hajime couldn even see his hand in front of his face.

However, there was no glowstone lining the staircase. Hajime stopped for a while,

hoping his eyes might adjust, but no matter how long he waited, all that his eyes took

in was black.

Left with no choice, Hajime dug around in his makeshift rucksack, created from bear

leather and transmuted wire, and pulled out a green glowstone to light his


Carrying a light source in the darkness was tantamount to suicide, but Hajime

reasoned that he had no other means of moving forward. However, he decided to make

sure to at least keep his right hand free, so he tied the glowstone to the stump of his

left arm.

After a while of walking forward, Hajime saw something glint in the darkness, deeper

down the passageway. He strained his senses, suddenly vigilant.

Sticking to the shadows as much as possible while he advanced, he suddenly felt an

ominous feeling approach from his left side. He quickly jumped to the side, then

pointed his left stump at the source of the feeling. Illuminated in the ghastly green

light was a massive two meter long gray lizard, and its golden eyes were staring right

at Hajime.

The lizards golden eyes flashed brightly. An instant later…

”Huh!? ” With a strange cracking noise, Hajimes left stump began turning to stone. The

fossilization spread to the glowstone, and seconds later the petrified glowstone made

a cracking noise and crumbled away. Without his light source, Hajime was once more

surrounded by darkness. The petrification had continued, reaching all the way up to

his shoulder.

Hajime clicked his tongue, pulled out a vial of Ambrosia from the monster fur and

transmuted thread holster strapped to his breast, and downed it in one gulp. As he

had hoped, the petrification came to a stop, and slowly began reversing back down his

left arm.

Now youve done it! Hajime pulled a flash grenade out from the pouch at his waist and

flung it at where hed last seen the lizard. He saw another flash of golden light appear

from the darkness. Despite his inability to see clearly, Hajime quickly used Supersonic

Step to dash away.

When he glanced back, he saw the rock behind where hed been had changed color,

looking far more weathered than it once was. That literally petrifying gaze was going

to be quite troublesome. The lizard closely resembled the kind of basilisk Hajime saw

in RPG games.

Hajime pulled Donner out of its holster, and held it in front of his face while tightly

shutting his eyes. A second later, the flash grenade exploded in a riot of green light

with a quiet bang.

”Kraaaah!? ” The Basilisk probably hadn ever experienced light so bright before, and

writhed around in bewilderment. When he opened his eyes, Hajime could barely make

out its silhouette in the darkness.

He fired without delay. His bullet found its mark, tearing through the skull of the

basilisk, pulverizing the contents contained within. The bullet passed cleanly through

the back of the basilisks head and drilled deep into the rock wall behind it with a loud

hiss. Because his bullets were electrically accelerated, they came out at a very high

temperature and burned everything they passed through. It was only thanks to taurs

resistance to heat that he was able to fire such powerful rounds.

Wary of his surroundings, Hajime carefully approached the basilisk. Once he

confirmed it was dead, he quickly cut up its flesh and retreated to safety. He could

hardly eat it there, where he couldn even see what was around him. Hajime decided

to prioritize scouting the new floor first.

He continued walking through the darkness. He searched for dozens of hours, but was

unable to find a staircase leading down. He continued defeating enemies and picking

up the rocks he found on the way, and before long he found himself laden with more

things than he could easily carry. That was when he finally decided that it was time he

made a base for himself.

He put his hand on a nearby wall and transmuted it. The wall opened up easily enough,

and he walked into the passage he had made for himself. Hajime continued

transmuting the area around him until he had a space about six tatami mats wide.

Then, before he forgot, he took the basketball-sized pale blue crystal out of his

rucksack and placed it onto a cavity he had carved out for it. He had, of course, brought

the Divinity Stone with him. He had also brought along containers to hold the

Ambrosia that he set underneath the stone.

As Hajime was unaware of the stones real name, he had taken to calling it the ”potion

rock ” and the Ambrosia that spilled from it ”potions. ” While it was true that potions

were the standard healing items in most games, Ambrosias effects far surpassed that

of a measly potion. The insultingly basic moniker he had chosen just showed how little

thought Hajime had put into naming it.

”Now that Im all settled in, its time for a feast. ” Hajime took all the meat he had

collected out of a stone container he had fitted to his rucksack using transmutation.

Then he grilled it all with Lightning Field. The days menu consisted of roast basilisk

meat, roasted whole owl with half its feathers still sticking on, and roasted whole sixlegged cat thing. There were no seasonings.

”At least I have food. ” As he worked through his meal, he began feeling that familiar

pain in his body. The pain meant his body was being forcibly strengthened once more.

Which meant that the monsters here were at least as powerful as the Claw Bear had

been, if not more. That made sense, as the combination of their special magic and the

darkness had made each of them quite difficult foes to face. However, Donner was able

to pulverize anything it hit, so Hajime hadn really noticed that they were that much

stronger than their counterparts on the floor above.

He drank some more Ambrosia and ignored the pain as he continued eating. He had

suffered so much since losing his arm that such a measly level of pain didn even faze


”Mmmf, haah, thanks for the meal. Now then, lets see how my stats changed… ”Hajime

took out his status plate as he said that. His current stats were as follows…

Hajime Nagumo Age: 17 Male Level: 23

Job: Synergist

Strength: 450

Vitality: 550

Defense: 350

Agility: 550

Magic: 500

Magic Defense: 500

Skills: Transmute [+Ore Appraisal] [+Precision Transmutation] [+Ore Perception]

[+Ore Desynthesis] [+Ore Synthesis] — Mana Manipulation — Iron Stomach —

Lightning Field — Air Dance [+Aerodynamic] [+Supersonic Step] — Gale Claw —

Night Vision — Sense Presence — Petrification Resistance — Language


As he had expected, his stats had risen dramatically. And he had learned three new

skills. As he looked around, he realized he could indeed see a little better in the


Must have been the effect of Night Vision. It might not have been a very useful skill for

the rest of the monsters in this hell, but for the floor he was on at least, it was a

godsend. His other new skills did as their names suggested. Though Hajime was

somewhat disappointed that he had gotten Petrification Resistance, and not the

basilisks actual petrification skill. He wondered why that was.

”Man, it would have been so cool to get Basilisks Eye or something… ” Hajime

lamented dejectedly.

Once he finished his meal, Hajime began transmuting new supplies for himself.

Crafting even a single bullet took a great deal of concentration. His bullets needed to

be extremely precise. In order to make use of Donners rifling, he had to get the size

and shape exactly right. And he couldn make a single mistake in compressing the

blastrock packed within them. Each bullet took about thirty minutes to make, but

Hajime was still proud of his skill with the craft. Humans really are creatures that

display a terrifying amount of strength when they
e desperate, Hajime thought,

impressed with himself.

Besides, though it took time, his bullets were powerful enough that he had no reason

to complain, and each one he made trained his transmuting ability to new heights, so

it really wasn a waste.

Thanks to his training, he was now able to purify any mineral or ore of impurities, and

he could even decompose an alloy into its composite parts. He also had the power to

fuse ore together to create new alloys. Hajimes current transmutation skill was on par

with the kingdoms best blacksmith.

He silently continued his work. So far, he had only descended a single level from his

starting point, and he had no way of knowing how much further this abyss continued

for. He planned on returning to his search the moment he finished transmuting. If he

wanted to get home, he couldn afford to waste time lounging around.

Once he resumed his search, Hajime stopped only when he needed to return to base

and replenish his supplies. He had no way of knowing how long his search would take

if he let himself rest while searching. Thanks to his Night Vision, he no longer had any

problem seeing in the dark, and Sense Presence let him know when there were any

monsters within a ten meter radius. His scouting of the floor progressed swiftly.

Finally, he discovered the stairs leading down to the next floor. He stepped forward

without hesitation.

The ground of the floor below was sticky, like tar. In fact, the entire floor resembled a

huge swamp. His legs easily got stuck in the ground, and Hajime had a hard time

moving. He frowned as he saw how difficult it was to move, then proceeded to climb

up a protruding boulder. From there he used Aerodynamic to advance through the sky.

As he continued moving forward he constantly used Ore Perception to look for new

minerals. Among the ones he discovered on this floor, one was of particular note.

Flamrock: A glossy black mineral. When heated, it melts into tar. It melts at 50 degrees

Celsius, and catches fire at 100 degrees Celsius. When it burns, it can reach

temperatures of up to 3000 degrees Celsius. The length it burns depends on the

quantity of tar.

”…Seriously? ” Hajime grimaced and raised one of his legs. As he did so, the tar he had

stepped in numerous times since setting foot onto this floor squelched loudly as it

dripped off his shoe.

”N-No fire, got it… ” He doubted it would ignite that easily since 100 degrees wasn so

easily reached, but on the off chance it did, it would set off a chain reaction that would

literally have this floor engulfed in fires hotter than hell. Even the Ambrosia wouldn

be able to save him from that.

”That means I can use my railgun or Lightning Field, either… ” Donner was one of his

most powerful weapons. Even without Lightning Field to accelerate his bullets, the

combustive power of blastrock alone was still quite formidable.

However, that was only as far as normal monsters were concerned. For example,

Traum Soldiers would easily be pulverized with just the power of blastrock. Even the

Behemoth would have taken a considerable amount of damage from it. However, the

monsters that inhabited this deep abyss were different. They were of a completely

different caliber than the monsters on the floors above. Which was why Hajime wasn

sure blastrock alone would be enough to kill them. Despite this predicament, Hajime

still grinned eagerly.

”So what if I can use Donner? What I need to do hasn changed. I just have to kill and

devour my enemies. ” He pressed on, even with his Lightning Field and railgun sealed.

Eventually, Hajime found himself at a three-way fork. He marked the wall and began

walking down the left-hand path.

But just as he moved forward… Fwoosh!

”Wha—!? ” A shark-like monster suddenly leaped out of the tar, countless rows of

razor-sharp teeth visible in its mouth. It snapped down, aiming to take Hajimes head

in one huge bite. He managed to duck in time, but a shiver of fear still ran down his

spine as that horrifying mouth closed inches from his head.

Sense Presence wasn able to pick up on it! Ever since he had acquired it, Hajime had

been using Sense Presence constantly. And the skill was supposed to be able to sense

anything within 10 meters of him without fail. Despite that, he had been unable to

sense that shark until just before it had attacked.

Having failed to take out Hajime with its first bite, the shark plopped back into the sea

of tar with a splash.

Shit, I can tell where it is at all! He ground his teeth at his lack of information.

However, he realized standing still would get him killed, so he quickly used

Aerodynamic to keep himself moving.

As if it had predicted his actions, the shark leaped high this time, reaching all the way

up to him.

”Don underestimate me! ” Hajime somersaulted in the air and while hanging

suspended upside-down, he fired directly at the shark. The bullet fired from Donners

muzzle rushed forward, eager for blood. And with perfect aim, hit the shark square in

its back. However…

”Tch! It doesn have enough power to penetrate! ” The bullet created a small dent in

the sharks skin, and then, as if it had encountered a wall of rubber, it bounced off. It

appeared the sharks skin was resistant to physical attacks.

”Guh! ” It nimbly leaped past and dived back into the sea of tar. Then, with that same

agility, the shark aimed for Hajimes landing point, jumping at him once more after he

finished his somersault.

He managed to twist his body at the last minute, avoiding being torn in half, but the

shark still managed to gouge a tiny chunk of flesh from his side. The impact caused

Hajime to fall into the sea of tar. His entire body was covered in black goo, but he

quickly leaped back to his feet and jumped into the air. A second later, the sharks jaws

opened up where Hajime had just been lying, then closed down with a snap.

Cold sweat ran down Hajimes back as he kept himself in the air with consecutive uses

of Aerodynamic. But his fearless smile never left his face, despite how easily he was

getting cornered.

”Bring it! ” He kept himself aloft with Aerodynamic, always moving from place to place,

while he waited for the shark to attack once more.

His powers of concentration, which he had honed through weeks of relentless

transmutation, served him well here. As he focused, his surroundings slowly came into

clearer view, and he could even make out colors.

So what if I can find it with Sense Presence? To begin with, I handled myself just fine

even when I didn have it. Even if I can see where it is, it has to show itself when it

attacks. Focused, Hajime moved to leap into the air once more, but as he did so, his

footing grew unstable and he lost his balance as he jumped. The shark wasn one to

let that opportunity go past. It leaped out from behind Hajime, right where his blind

spot was.

”Well, Im glad you
e so simpleminded! ” His supposedly failing balance suddenly

recovered, and he jumped to the side, avoiding the sharks attack. At the same time, he

swung his right hand, with Donner still held tightly in it, at the shark.

A huge gash appeared in the sharks side, and blood sprayed everywhere as it fell back

into the tar. It floundered around in the tar, flailing in pain.

Hajime had purposely pretended to lose his balance, in order to lure the shark into

attacking from his blind spot. Then he had wrapped the Claw Bears special magic,

Gale Claw, around Donner as he had swung it.

Hajime swooped onto the flailing shark and swung Donner down at its head. The Gale

Claw split its head cleanly in two. Though he had only one claw instead of three, its

sharpness was unmatched. It was the perfect skill for close combat.

”Now then, time to find out why I wasn able to sense your presence. ” Hajime licked

his lips in a predatory fashion as he said that.

He stored the shark meat in his bag, then continued searching. He found the exit to the

next floor before long, and descended to the level below.

Hajime Nagumo Age: 17 Male Level: 24

Job: Synergist

Strength: 450

Vitality: 550

Defense: 400

Agility: 550

Magic: 500

Magic Defense: 500

Skills: Transmute [+Ore Appraisal] [+Precision Transmutation] [+Ore Perception]

[+Ore Desynthesis] [+Ore Synthesis] — Mana Manipulation — Iron Stomach —

Lightning Field — Air Dance [+Aerodynamic] [+Supersonic Step] — Gale Claw —

Night Vision — Sense Presence — Hide Presence — Petrification Resistance —

Language Comprehension

Hajime continued conquering the labyrinth.

He descended down floor after floor, until he had gone another 50 floors past the one

that had the Tar Shark. He had lost all sense of time down in the dungeon, and had no

way of guessing how many days had passed. Though it still took time, it was clear he

was progressing through the labyrinth at a ridiculously fast pace.

While progressing, he had countless brushes with death and had to fight all sorts of

unbelievably powerful monsters.

Among them were a huge rainbow colored frog that could spit poison and a giant moth

that, oddly enough, looked a lot like Butterfree. The frog he had encountered on a floor

that had a faint poisonous mist spread throughout it, and the moth had the ability to

spread its scales through the air. Scales that paralyzed anything they touched. Had it

not been for the Ambrosia he was constantly drinking, Hajime would have died

countless times searching through the labyrinth.

The poison spit by the frog had assaulted his nervous system and hurt almost as bad

as the first time he had eaten monster meat. It was only the tiny Ambrosia vial he kept

attached to his back teeth that had saved him. The vial he had attached there was

crafted from a weak rock that would easily break with a single bite. He was eternally

thankful that he had prepared that as a last resort for emergency situations.

He had, of course, eaten both the moth and the frog. There had been some reservation

to eating the moth, but he reminded himself it was to make him stronger, which helped

him power through that meal. Hajime had remembered feeling somewhat vexed when

hed discovered that the frog had actually tasted better than all the other monsters so


And though he was deep underground, he had even gone through a floor that

resembled the Amazon Jungle. It had been incredibly humid and the air hung thick

around him. That had been by far the worst floor he had traversed. The monsters he

had faced on that floor had been giant centipedes and living trees.

Hardened as he was to most things, even Hajime had been completely creeped out

when a giant centipede had come crashing down from a high up tree branch. It was

the most disgusting sight hed ever laid his eyes on. And the centipede had split itself

into various segments to attack him, too. What he had thought was just one enemy

suddenly split into thirty, like an army of cockroaches coming out of a particularly

disgusting kitchen.

Hajime had fired Donner as fast he could to destroy them, but sadly there had been

too many. As reloading would have taken far too long, he resigned himself to

butchering them with his Gale Claw. But even that wasn enough to take them all out,

so he had to resort to kicking, which was not his forte at all. When that battle had

finally finished, Hajime had sworn to himself that he would work on improving his

reload times and kicking skills. He was tired of being bathed in the centipedes purple,

disgusting blood.

The tree monsters of that floor were basically the Treants he had seen in RPGs. They

used their roots to attack from underground, while also flinging their branches around

like whips.

Though the real strength of those fake Treants didn lie in such simple skills. When

they were in trouble, they would start shaking their heads wildly, flinging crimson

fruit at their enemies. The fruit they threw didn hurt, and just to test it, Hajime had

tried eating one. When he had, he had stood rooted to the spot for almost an hour. The

fruit had contained no poison. In fact, it had tasted delicious. It was sweet and

refreshing, like watermelon. Despite expectations, it was nothing like an apple.

The fact that the floor was the most unpleasant one he had encountered yet

completely flew out of Hajimes head. Even his resolve to conquer the labyrinth

temporarily left his mind. It was the first time he had eaten anything aside from

monster meat in months. His eyes became that of a hunter, and he spent a great deal

of time hunting down the fake Treants. By the time his craving for their fruit had finally

been sated, the Treants had been hunted to near extinction.

And so, he continued progressing through the floors until he had passed 50 of them

before he knew it. And still the labyrinth continued endlessly downward. For the

record, Hajimes current stats looked like this.

Hajime Nagumo Age: 17 Male Level: 24

Job: Synergist

Strength: 880

Vitality: 970

Defense: 860

Agility: 1040

Magic: 760

Magic Defense: 760

Skills: Transmute [+Ore Appraisal] [+Precision Transmutation] [+Ore Perception]

[+Ore Desynthesis] [+Ore Synthesis] [+Duplicate Transmutation] — Mana

Manipulation — Iron Stomach — Lightning Field — Air Dance [+Aerodynamic]

[+Supersonic Step] [+Steel Legs] — Gale Claw — Night Vision — Farsight — Sense

Presence — Detect Magic — Hide Presence — Poison Resistance — Paralysis

Resistance — Petrification Resistance — Language Comprehension

He spent some time in the base he had created for this floor, the fiftieth since the Tar

Shark, training his shooting, kicking, and transmutation skills. He had already

discovered the stairs leading to the next floor, but there was a location on this floor

that seemed distinctly different to him. An ominous atmosphere seemed to pervade

the space around it.

At the very end of one of the side passages was a room which contained a set of

majestic double doors, each three meters tall. On each side of the door was a statue of

a cyclops sunk deep into the recesses of the wall.

When he had tried to step into the room, Hajime had felt chills run down his spine,

and had beat a hasty retreat, deciding that room was dangerous. Of course, the retreat

was only temporary. He was going back to prepare, and had no intention of skipping

past that room. After all, it was the first thing he had run into these past 50 floors that

was ”different. ” There was no way he wasn going to check it out.

He was filled with both expectation and trepidation as he thought about the door.

However, once he opened it, he knew some kind of disaster awaited. Still, it was also

an opportunity to call forth the winds of change in this never-ending hell.

”Its just like Pandoras Box… Now then, I wonder what kind of hope awaits me when

I open it? ” He mentally ran through his abilities, his weapons, and his skills. He

checked over each one of them, making sure he was in peak condition.

When all his preparations were complete, Hajime slowly pulled Donner out of its

holster, then slowly pressed it against his forehead as he closed his eyes. He had

already steeled his resolve long ago, but there was no harm in spending a few minutes

to steel it some more. Hajime searched deep within himself, giving voice to his dearest

desire once more.

”I want to survive and make it back home. Back home… to Japan. Anything getting in

the way of that goal is my enemy. And enemies are to be… killed! ” He opened his eyes,

and with his ever-present fearless smile, set off toward the unknown.

Hajimes footsteps grew steadily more wary as he attempted to enter the room with

the double doors. He made it all the way to the door without encountering anyone.

Upon taking a closer look at it, Hajime realized the craftsmanship of the doors was

even more impressive than he had initially thought. And that there was a magic circle

carved into a tiny hollow on each of the two.

”Huh? Thats odd. I studied quite a bit back at the castle… but I still don recognize

this inscription. ” Back when he had still been ridiculed as worthless, Hajime had spent

all his time studying to compensate for his lack of combat ability. Of course, he hadn

had enough time to learn everything there was to know about this world, but it was

still unsettling that he couldn recognize a single symbol on the circles.

”Does that just mean this spells really old? ” Hajime pondered over the magic circles

as he investigated the doors, but he was unable to discover anything of note. The

conspicuous placement of the circles just screamed ”trap ” to Hajime, but he didn

have enough knowledge to derive any hints from his investigation.

”Guess my only option is to transmute it like always. ” He had already tried pushing and

pulling on the doors, but they hadn budged. And so, he had turned to his trusty

transmutation skill. He placed his right hand on the doors surface and began


But the moment he started pouring mana into his hand… Zap!

”Uwaah!? ” A bolt of red lightning ran down the door, blasting Hajimes hand away.

Tendrils of smoke rose up from his hand. Cursing, he drank some Ambrosia to heal

himself. A second later, he heard a deep roar.

”Uoooooooooooooooh!!! ” It reverberated throughout the entire room.

Hajime backpedaled away from the door and lowered himself into a crouch with his

hand on his holster, ready to draw at a moments notice. While waiting he heard the

sounds of something moving mixed in with the roar.

”Wow, this is a cliched as it gets. ” Hajime smiled sardonically as he watched the two

cyclops statues suddenly spring to life and start destroying the wall that held them.

Their petrified skin rapidly regained its color, going from gray to dark green.

The cyclopes fit the fantasy description for them to a T. They each wielded swords

nearly four meters long that they had pulled from god knows where. Currently, they

were struggling to free their still–entombed lower halves, determined to eliminate the

unwelcome intruder.

Hajime fired Donner directly at the right cyclops glaring eye. With a ferocious bang,

the electrically accelerated taur bullet pierced through its eye, made mincemeat out

of its brains, and pulverized the wall behind it as it exited the back of its head.

The cyclops on the left stared blankly at its now deceased companion. On the other

hand, the dead one twitched for a few seconds before collapsing forward, which made

the entire room shake as its huge frame crashed into the ground, raising a massive

cloud of dust.

”Sorry, but Im not a nice enough guy to wait for you to break free. ” The dead cyclops

hadn seen that coming, in more ways than one. For Hajime, who had survived

through countless life and death struggles, it was merely a natural course of action to

take. Yet… he still felt a twinge of pity for the cyclops.

It probably wasn anything more than a humble guardian that had been sealed and

tasked with protecting the doors. It must have spent an eternity waiting for someone,

anyone, to pass by.

Then finally, someone capable enough of surviving so long in the pits of hell and

looking to delve even deeper had appeared before it. Its quite possible he(?) had been

overjoyed to finally have a purpose. But then, before he could even begin to fight, his

opponent crushed his prized eye and killed him instantly. If thats not pitiful, then I

don know what is.

The remaining cyclops had a bloodcurdling expression on its face as it turned to look

at Hajime. Though it didn speak, its face was clearly screaming, ”How dare you, you

bastard! ”

Hajime stared at the remaining cyclops, completely unmoving as he met its gaze. It

was acting cautious due to his unfamiliar weapon and crouched low to the ground,

ready to dodge in any direction, as it glared at him. Ten seconds passed, then twenty…

Eventually, it grew tired of the staring contest and with a deafening roar, the remaining

cyclops charged Hajime.

But before it even made five paces, it faceplanted into the ground.

The moment it had rushed forward, all the strength had drained from its limbs, and it

careened to the ground. Confused, the cyclops tried to struggle back to its feet, but it

was able to do little more than flail helplessly on the ground.

It roared, unable to comprehend what had just happened, while Hajime slowly walked

over to it. His echoing footsteps were like a countdown to the cyclops demise. He

stopped inches from its face, and put his gun to its head. Then, without any hesitation,

he pulled the trigger.

Bang! The sound of a gunshot echoed throughout the room for a second time.

However, something unexpected happened just then. The cyclops body glowed

briefly, after which its skin repelled the bullet that should have killed it.

”Hmm? ” Hajime guessed that it was because of its special magic. From what he could

tell, it temporarily gave the cyclops a massive defense boost. Though it was still facedown on the ground, the cyclops smirked contemptuously at him.

Unfazed, he retracted his gun and aimed a kick at the cyclops head. Thanks to his Steel

Legs skill, Hajimes kicks were as powerful as the Kickmaster Rabbits had been. His

foot traced a neat arc through the air before slamming into the cyclops and turning it

over on its stomach. He then pressed Donner to its eye.

Though he couldn be sure, it looked as if the cyclops was panicking. Still, he paid it

no mind and mercilessly pulled the trigger. As he expected, the body hardening didn

extend to its eye, and the second cyclops had its brains blown out just like the first.

”Hmm, it took around twenty seconds this time. Thats slower than usual… Is it

because it has a larger body? ” Hajime mumbled to himself, analyzing the results of his


Why had that cyclops suddenly collapsed earlier? That had been thanks to the power

of his stun grenade. He had made it using the scales hed harvested from the Butterfree

lookalikes. By utilizing a small, controlled blast, he could spread the scales throughout

a room, paralyzing everything in it. The instant the cyclops on the left had been

distracted by the death of its companion, Hajime had thrown it into the air.

”Well, whatever. Guess Ill harvest the meat later… ” As he glanced back to the door, an

idea sprouted in his mind.

He used Gale Claw to cut open the cyclopes and extracted their mana crystals. Ignoring

the fact that they were dripping with blood, he carried the two fist-sized mana crystals

over to the double doors and placed them in the two indents.

They fit perfectly. After a brief delay, they began pouring gouts of dark red mana into

the magic circles. The sound of something snapping echoed in the distance and the

light began to fade. Mana started diffusing through the room at the same time, making

the surrounding walls glow with a bright light. The room was suddenly filled with

more light than Hajime had seen in ages.

He blinked at the sudden brightness, then pushed open the door, clearly on the lookout

for any traps.

The room on the other side of the door was pitch black, with not a single light source

to be found. However, a combination of his Night Vision and the light spilling in from

the room outside was enough for him to dimly make out his surroundings.

The interior of the room was composed of the same marble-like substance that Hajime

had first seen in the church cathedral. Two rows of thick pillars, spaced out at regular

intervals, extended all the way to the end of the room. In the very center of the room

stood a huge cubical slab of rock. Its surface was glossy, and it shone from the reflected

light coming in from the room behind.

Hajime took a closer look at the cube, noticing there was something that glowed faintly

jutting out from the center of its front face. It looked almost as if it was sprouting out

of the rock.

Intent on getting a closer look, he threw the doors open wide, and looked for

something to hold them in place. He didn want to make the classic horror movie

mistake and enter only to find the door shut behind him.

However, before he could fix them in place, whatever was in the center of the cube


”…Who goes there? ” He heard a faint, hoarse, female voice. Startled, Hajime looked

over to the center of the room again. The ”something ” he had seen earlier was

squirming slightly. The light pouring in from the other room revealed that somethings

true form.

”A… person? ” The something sprouting from the rock was indeed a person.

The girl was buried in the rock from the neck down, and her golden-blonde hair

dangled limply in front of her face, much like the ghost from a certain famous horror

movie. Eyes as red as the blood moon peeked out from between gaps in her hair. She

looked to be rather young. Still, despite her haggard appearance and her hair covering

the better part of her face, it was still clear she was quite beautiful.

Hajime stiffened in surprise; he hadn expected to see another person so deep in the

labyrinth. It seemed the girl was just as surprised to see him too, as she was staring at

him in dumbfounded shock. After a moment of silence, he took some deep breaths to

steady himself, and then resolutely said…

”Sorry. Ill just leave now. ” He went to go and close the doors again. But before he could,

the blonde-haired red-eyed girl hurriedly called out to him once more. Her voice was

hoarse and weak, most likely from years of disuse, but the desperation in it was clear.

”W-Wait…! Please…! Help me… ”

”Don wanna. ” Hajime replied curtly, then returned his attention to the doors. A truly

heartless reply.

”Wh-Why… Please… Ill do anything, so… ” She really was desperate. Though she could

barely move her neck, she still raised her face up to look at Hajime.

But even then, Hajime only gave an irritated reply.

”You know, I really doubt itd be a good idea to free someone thats clearly been sealed

all the way down here in the deepest pits of hell. That just spells trouble. As far as I

can tell theres nothing but the seal in here… and it doesn look like thatll help my

escape at all, so… ” It was a fair argument.

However, there were few people so devoid of sympathy that they could so easily ignore

a girls pleas for help. It was clear that the old, kind Hajime had long since perished.

Though he had refused her so bluntly, the girl continued hopelessly calling out for


”No! Cough… I-Im not anyone bad…! Please wait! I… ” He continued pulling the double

doors closed, but just before he shut them completely, he ground his teeth. Had he

been a bit faster he wouldn have had to hear those last words of hers.

”I was betrayed! ” He heard, through the tiny crack of the still open door.

The creaking doors ground to a halt. A miniscule sliver of light was all that illuminated

the darkness within. Ten seconds passed, then twenty. Finally, the doors began

opening once more. Standing behind them was Hajime, scowling unhappily at the

situation at hand.

No matter what she had said, he hadn planned on helping her. He figured there must

have been a very good reason someone was sealed all the way down here, far below

the light of the sun. And there was no proof that she wasn dangerous, either. In fact,

it was likely that she was just some evil creature that was trying to deceive him into

releasing her. He should have just left her.

Seriously, what the hell am I doing? Hajime sighed to himself as that thought passed

through his mind.

”I was betrayed! ” —To think those words would stir his heart, the heart he thought

hed long since buried. He thought he had already forgotten about the classmate who

had flung that fireball at him. He thought he had already thrown away paltry feelings

like hatred and sympathy. In order to survive in this cruel world, he had to.

But the fact that the girls words had shaken him so deeply meant that he hadn

completely buried his old self. Enough of the old, kind Hajime still lived that he could

sympathize with this girls circumstances, which were so very similar to his own.

He scratched his head uncomfortably and walked up to the girl. Of course, he still

remained vigilant.

”You said you were betrayed? But that still doesn explain why you
e trapped here. If

you really were betrayed, how come they sealed you in this rock? ” The girl seemed

shocked that Hajime had actually come back.

She stared fixedly at Hajime through her dirty golden locks, crimson eyes gleaming in

the darkness. He began growing impatient at her continued silence.

”Hey, are you listening? If you don want to talk, then Ill just head back now, ” he said

brusquely and turned on his heel. The girl came back to her senses with a start and

quickly began speaking.

”I am one of the original, atavistic vampires… because of the extraordinary power I

was gifted with… I worked hard for the sake of my country and my people. But then…

one day… my retainers all… said I wasn needed anymore… My uncle… said that he

would be king in my place… I… was fine with that… but because I had so much power

everyone was afraid of me, they thought I was dangerous… They couldn kill me… so

they decided to seal me here instead… Thats why… ”

She spoke haltingly but desperately, her parched throat making speech difficult.

Hajime sighed as he heard her tale. She had certainly suffered a cruel fate. However,

during the course of her tale he heard some things that nagged at him. He felt an

inexplicable, complicated feeling well up within him, so he asked the following:

”So does that mean you were some kind of royalty? ” She nodded furiously at his words.

”What do you mean they couldn kill you? ”

”…I heal automatically. No matter what kind of injury it is, itll just heal by itself. Even

if you cut my head off Ill regenerate eventually. ”

”Th-Thats quite the ability… So thats the power everyone was afraid of? ”

”That too, but… the main thing was that I could control mana… directly, without a

magic circle. ”

Hajime nodded and replied with a simple, ”I see. ”

After consuming monster flesh he had become capable of freely manipulating his

mana as well. He needed no chants or magic circles to enhance his body, or use the

special magic he had acquired. Same with his transmutation skill.

However, Hajime had zero affinity for magic, so even if he could manipulate his mana

directly he still needed a huge magic circle to actually cast anything, meaning he

effectively couldn use it for much.

But with this girls magical affinity, being able to directly manipulate mana turned into

an insanely powerful asset. Because while everyone else had to waste time preparing

circles and chanting their spells, she could just blast off magic like nobodys business.

Frankly, it wouldn be much of a fight if she chose to take someone on. And to top it

off, she was immortal. It probably wasn perfect, and there was most likely some way

to actually overcome it, but even then it was a cheat level skill far surpassing that of

any heros.

”…Please, save me… ” She begged softly as she watched Hajime sink deep into thought.

”Hmm… ” He stared unblinkingly at her. She stared right back. They spent what felt like

an eternity gazing into each others eyes. Finally, Hajime scratched his head

awkwardly and breathed a long sigh. He then placed his hand on the cube holding the


”Ah. ” Her eyes opened wide as she realized what he was doing. He ignored her and

began transmuting.

His mana, which had turned a dark red, or rather more of a deep crimson since

ingesting the wolves, began flowing down his arm.

However, the cube he was trying to transmute remained unchanged, as if it was

resisting the force of his mana. Just like the bedrock that lay between each floor of the

labyrinth. However, unlike those it wasn as if his magic was being completely

nullified. Little by little, Hajimes power began seeping into the cube.

”Guh, this things tough… but Im not so weak anymore! ” He poured yet more mana

into his spell. It was enough mana that it would have taken six verses to chant out,

were he not able to manipulate it freely. Finally, he felt his magic start taking effect.

The tremendous volume of mana dazzled bright crimson, illuminating the entire room

in a fiery red.

And yet Hajime continued pouring mana into his arm. Seven verses worth, then eight.

The part of the rock encasing the girl began to tremble at that point.

”Im not done yet! ” He pushed even harder, pouring a ninth verses worth of mana into

the stone. At that point he had burned enough mana to cast some of the most advanced

spells in existence and still have some left over. The girl stared at him fixedly as his

mana grew brighter and brighter, determined not to miss a single moment.

Cold sweat poured down his back as he kept going. This was the first time Hajime had

tried to cast such a large-scale spell. If he lost focus for even an instant, the massive

amount of mana he was wielding would go berserk. But even after all that, the cube

refused to budge. Desperate, he threw all the mana he had into the spell.

Hajime wasn sure why he was going so far for a girl he had just met.

But for some reason, he just couldn leave her alone. Even though he had sworn to

himself to eliminate all obstacles in his path and to live only for the sake of his goal, he

still continued transmuting. Seriously, why the hell am I doing this? He mentally

admonished his actions, but then he reasoned that everyone makes exceptions

sometimes and stubbornly thought, I decided to do this, so theres no way in hell Im

quitting halfway!

He was burning so much mana that his entire body glowed crimson. He was using up

every last drop of mana just to free her. With a doggedness that surprised even himself,

he kept resolutely transmuting with every ounce of spirit he had. Finally, the portion

of the cube entrapping the girl began to melt like hot butter and dribbled to the

ground, slowly releasing her from her stone prison.

As the rock slowly fell away, her modest breasts were fully visible. Next came her

waist, then her hands, her thighs, and finally the cube melted away entirely and she

was free. Her completely naked body was clearly emaciated, but it still had an alluring

charm to it. She slumped to the ground in an exhausted heap as soon as her body was

fully free. It seemed she wasn strong enough to stand.

Hajime sat down in front of her. He was panting heavily. Using up his entire reservoir

of mana had clearly exhausted him greatly.

With a trembling hand he tried to pull out a vial of Ambrosia, but before he could the

girl put her hand over his and grabbed it. Her small, slender, and frail hand trembled

as it entwined with his own. He gave her a sidelong glance, and realized she was

looking right at him. Though her face was expressionless, a wealth of emotions

dwelled within her crimson eyes.

In a small and trembling, but powerful voice, the girl conveyed her feelings.

”Thank you. ” Hajime wasn sure he could ever express the emotion he felt at those

words. He just knew that the heart he thought hed discarded began glowing with a

faint, but resolute light.

He sat there quietly, his hand in hers. He wondered how long she must have been

trapped there, suffering. As far as Hajime knew, the vampires had gone extinct

hundreds of years ago. At the very least, that was what had been written in the history

books he had read in the royal library.

Even when she had been talking to him earlier, her face had remained expressionless.

Which meant that she had at least spent a long enough time in this solitary dark cell

to forget how to speak, and even how to show emotions.

According to her tale, she had been betrayed by someone she trusted too. It was a

wonder she hadn gone insane. Perhaps that had been due to her healing factor? But

if that really were the case, that meant she had been tortured for centuries by her own

abilities. Unable to even sink into the release of madness.

Guess drinking the potion can wait, Hajime smiled wryly as he thought to himself,

squeezing the girls hand back as he did. Startled, she jumped slightly, and then

strengthened her own grip.

”…Whats your name? ” she whispered to Hajime. His smile grew awkward as he

realized they hadn told each other their names yet. He replied quickly, without a hint

of hesitation in his tone.

”Hajime. Hajime Nagumo. Whats yours? ” She muttered ”Hajime ” to herself over and

over, as if carving it into her memories. After she finished repeating it she opened her

mouth to answer his question, before hesitating for a moment and thinking better of


”…Give me one. ”

”Huh? You want me to name you? Don tell me you forgot your actual one? ”

Considering how long she had been imprisoned here it wasn impossible, but the girl

shook her head slowly.

”I don need a name from the past… Im fine with whatever name you give me,

Hajime. ”

”…Haah, Its not so easy to just think up a name… ” The reason she wanted a new name

was probably similar to the reason Hajime had reforged his heart. She wanted to

throw away her old self and be reborn. Hajime had practically been forced to change

by the pain and starvation, but it seemed she wanted to be reborn of her own free will.

And the first step toward that transformation was getting a new moniker.

She looked expectantly up at Hajime. Hajime scratched his cheek as he thought, before

finally christening the girl with her new name.

”What do you think of Yue? Im not really good at the whole naming thing, so I can try

thinking up a different one if you don like it. ”

”Yue…? Yue… Yue… ”

”Yeah. Where I come from, it means moon. When I first came into this room your

golden hair and red eyes reminded me of the moon, so I just… Well, what do you

think? ” She blinked in surprise at his words. It seemed she hadn expected him to

have a reason behind picking the name. And though her face remained as

expressionless as always, her eyes were sparkling with happiness.

”…Hmm. Then from today onwards, I will be Yue. Thank you. ”

”Glad you like it. Anyway… ”

”Huh? ” As the girl, now Yue, expressed her thanks, Hajime untangled his hand from

hers and took off his coat. She watched him in mild confusion.

”Here, wear this. Can have you running around naked forever. ”

”Oh… ” Yue reflexively took the coat offered to her, and looked down at her own body.

As Hajime had said, she was stark naked. Every bit of her was completely exposed. She

blushed and pressed the coat against her body before looking up at Hajime and saying,

”Hajime, you pervert. ”

”Uh… ” He realized anything he said would only make things worse, so he wisely chose

to remain silent. Yue happily donned the coat he gave her. As she was a mere 140

centimeters tall, it was a bit too big for her. Hajime smiled as he watched her try and

fold the right sleeve back enough for her hands to poke through.

While she was wrestling with his coat, he drank some Ambrosia. He felt strength

return to his body, and his mind began working again. He used Sense Presence to

check his surroundings… and instantly froze. There was one hell of a powerful

monster in the room with them.

And it was… right above them. The same time he noticed its presence, it chose to drop

down from the ceiling.

He quickly got to his feet, scooped up Yue with one arm, and used Supersonic Step to

dash away as fast as possible. He looked back just in time to see the monster crash into

the ground right where theyd been sitting a second ago.

The monster was nearly five meters long, and possessed four arms that all ended in

razor-sharp scissors. It had a further eight legs that clacked noisily as it scuttled

around. It also had two tails, each of which ended in stingers. The closest thing it

resembled was a scorpion. Hajime assumed the two stingers contained poison. It was

clearly far more powerful than the monsters he had faced so far. Cold sweat began

running down his forehead.

His initial Sense Presences when he first entered the room hadn discovered anything,

but the one he had used mere moments ago had. Which meant that the scorpion thing

must have entered the room after he had released Yue from her seal.

In other words, this was the one last trap her captors had placed to keep her from

escaping her cell. If it was a trap designed for Yue, Hajime could escape if he left her


He spared a quick glance at the girl he held in his arms. She was ignoring the scorpion

thing entirely and looking only at Hajime. Her eyes were a sea of calm, showing

nothing but the resolve to accept her fate. They spoke volumes more than words ever

could. Yue had decided to place her life in Hajimes hands.

When he saw those eyes, Hajimes lips naturally curled up into his usual fearless grin.

Though he had told himself he would never care about other people again, he had

ended up sympathizing with Yue anyway. She had lit the fire in his heart, a heart he

thought he had long since abandoned. And despite the terrible betrayal she had

suffered, she chose once more to place her trust in someone. If he didn help her, then

he didn deserve to be called a man.

”Bring it, you bastard. Kill me if you think you can. ” Hajime slung Yue over his shoulder,

pulled another vial of Ambrosia out of his bag, and thrust it into her mouth.

”Mmmgh!? ” The rejuvenating fluid spread throughout her body. Tears formed in the

corner of her eyes at the sudden intrusion of something hard into her mouth, but her

eyes opened wide as she felt the Ambrosia heal her emaciated body.

He then skillfully swung Yue around, situating her on his back. Weakened as she was,

Yue was nothing more than dead weight, but Hajime knew if he just put her down

somewhere the scorpion thing would probably go for her first. Still, fighting a monster

that strong while protecting someone was going to be tough.

”Hang on tight, Yue! ” Though she was far from fully healed, she had enough strength

in her body that she was able to cling tightly to his back.

The scorpions legs clacked on the ground as it scuttled over to them. He felt Yues

slender arms clutching tightly to his back, and with the fearless grin still on his face,

Hajime boldly proclaimed his intent.

”If you try and get in my way… Ill kill you and eat you! ” As if responding to his

challenge, the scorpion thing attacked first. One of its tails swelled up and shot a

stream of purple liquid at him. The stream traveled surprisingly fast, and Hajime

quickly leaped away. The purple liquid sizzled as it hit the ground, melting the area

around it. Hajime suspected it was some form of acid.

He spared the liquid a brief glance before drawing Donner from its holster and firing


Bang! He fired at full power. A bullet traveling at three kilometers per second slammed

into the scorpion things skull.

Hajime felt Yue stiffen on his back. She was surprised to see such an unfamiliar

weapon, and surprised even more when she saw it fire off an attack that hit instantly.

On top of all that, though, she hadn sensed Hajime use magic. However, there was a

small amount of electricity running down his right arm; he had created it without

chanting a spell or using a magic circle. In other words, Yue realized that he had the

same kind of mana manipulation ability she did.

He was the same as her, and for some reason he, too, was stuck in the depths of hell.

Though she knew now was no time to be distracted, she couldn help but pay more

attention to Hajime than the scorpion.

Meanwhile, Hajime continued leaping through the air with Aerodynamic, making sure

to constantly stay on the move. For once, his expression was actually grim. The reason

being that Detect Magic and Sense Presence had told him that his bullet hadn fazed

the scorpion thing in the least.

As proof, its other tail was swelling up as it took aim at him. Then, once it had built up

sufficient pressure, it shot its stinger out at him. He tried to dodge, but the needle burst

in midair, splintering into numerous sharp shards that sped toward him.

”Gah! ” He screamed in pain, but continued shooting down the jets of liquid with

Donner, kicking them away with Steel Legs, and blowing them off with Gale Claw. He

somehow managed to survive the onslaught and returned fire with Donner. He then

threw Donner into the air, pulled out a grenade from his pouch, and threw it at the

scorpion thing.

It withstood Donners second shot, preparing to fire another buckshot of needles and

set of acid spray in return. But before it could, the eight-centimeter-long grenade that

had rolled next to it exploded. And as it exploded it sprayed burning black pitch all

over the scorpion.

This was his incendiary grenade. He had made it out of the flamrock he discovered on

the tar floor. Right now the scorpion was being engulfed in 3000-degrees flames.

It looked like even the scorpion thing couldn withstand flames that hot, as it began

flailing around, trying to scrape the tar off it somehow. Hajime used this time to land

back on the ground and reload Donner, which he had already caught in the air.

By the time he finished reloading the effects of the incendiary grenade had died down,

and the flamrock had mostly burnt out. However, the flames had definitely succeeded

in doing some damage, and the scorpion thing screeched in rage.

”Kshaaaaaaaaa!!! ” It charged Hajime, all eight legs scuttling rapidly across the ground.

The four scissors attached to its front legs suddenly extended forward as if they had

been shot out of a cannon and sped toward Hajime.

He dodged the first with Supersonic Step, then jumped over the second with

Aerodynamic. He managed to kick the third one away with his Steel Legs, but that

threw him off balance as the fourth one headed for him.

However, an instant before it collided with him, he fired Donner and used the recoil

from the shot to propel himself backward. By twisting his body, he just barely dodged

the fourth scissor claw. Yue was groaning uncomfortably at his violent movements,

but she just had to bear it, since Hajime was at his limits just dodging.

He leaped through the air again, this time landing on the scorpion things back. He

somehow managed to keep his balance on the rampaging beasts back, and fired

Donner into its shell at point blank range.

Bam! With a deafening explosion, the bullet forced the scorpion to the ground.

However, even a direct hit at point blank range wasn enough to pierce its shell, so the

bullet had merely scratched it. Hajime ground his teeth in frustration, then swung

down with a Gale Claw. However, it bounced off with a metallic clang, not even

scratching the shell.

Fed up with the human on its back, the scorpion thing fired a round of needle buckshot

at its own back.

Hajime swiftly jumped back up into the air, firing another bullet at the joint where the

tail connected with the stinger while he was in motion. The high speed bullet hit with

perfect accuracy and flung the tail back… but even the tip of the tail was protected by

the same thick shell, so the bullet did no lasting damage. Hajime just didn have

enough power to damage it.

As he fled into the sky, the four scissor arms attacked him once more. He flung another

incendiary grenade in desperation and jumped away to safety. The scorpion was

engulfed in flaming tar for a second time, but Hajime knew he was just buying himself


He put some distance between him and the scorpion thing and tried to think of a plan.

But before he could even begin, he heard another piercing scream come from its


”Kiiiiiiiiiiiii! ” Chills ran down his spine as he heard that, and he tried to use Supersonic

Step to put even more distance between him and the scorpion… but it was already too


As the scream echoed throughout the room, the ground around him began to warp,

and with a thundering roar, spiked cones flew out one after another.

”Dammit! ” This was a completely unexpected attack.

He desperately took to the sky once more, only to discover that there were spikes

closing on him from behind too. In order to protect Yue, he twisted his body around,

but that completely destroyed his balance. He still managed to repel the remaining

spikes with Donner and his Steel Legs, but he was forced to stop moving, giving the

scorpion thing time to aim another buckshot.

His face stiffened in horror.

An instant later, a barrage of acid and spiked needles came hurtling toward him. He

made a snap decision. He realized dodging both in his current situation would be


Using Aerodynamic, he jumped out of range of the acid spray and covered his vitals

with his right arm and left stump. His face he protected with Donners barrel. Then,

using his mana manipulation ability, he strengthened his body to the limit and

clenched his muscles.

Moments later, dozens of needles pierced through Hajimes body.

”Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! ” He screamed in pain once more, but he managed to

avoid taking a hit in any vital areas. Because Yue was clinging to his back he made sure

to stop the needles with his body and keep them from piercing her as well.

The force of the impact flung Hajime backward. Assailed by pain, he slammed into the

ground and rolled over and over. The impact threw Yue off his back too.

Ignoring the pain of the countless needles that pierced his body, Hajime clenched his

teeth and pulled out a flash grenade that he threw at the scorpion thing. It flew in a

neat arc through the air before exploding right in front of its eyes.

”Kshaaaaaaaaaaa!!! ” It screamed in pain as the light seared its retinas, and took an

involuntary step back. Considering it had followed Hajime with its eyes this whole

time, he had guessed, correctly, that it mainly used sight to track its prey.

Hajime bit down on the vial of Ambrosia he kept in his molar and pulled all the needles

out at once.

”Guuuuuh! ” He bit down on his lips from the searing pain, and a moan escaped his lips.

But he withstood the pain. He had suffered so much already that he was used to it.

Something of that level was nowhere near enough to break his spirit anymore.

As he continued to pull needles from his body, he looked around, searching for Yue.

But before he could find her, she found him.

”Hajime! ” She ran over to him, worry etched on her face. Her usually expressionless

mask had crumbled and she looked like she was about to burst into tears.

”Don worry, Im fine. More importantly, that thing is way too damn hard. I can think

of any way to beat it. If I try to go for its eyes or mouth, those stupid scissor thingsll

get in my way… Do I have no choice but to try for a suicide rush and just accept that

Ill take some damage? ” He put Yues worried face out of his mind for the moment and

concentrated on finding a way to defeat it. But he became distracted when he heard

Yues murmured words.

”…Why? ”

”Huh? ”

”Why don you run? ” Yues words implied that Hajime should already have realized

he could leave her and escape by himself. He looked at her, evidently dumbfounded.

”Don be ridiculous. I haven fallen so low that Id leave you behind to die just cause

the enemy we ran intos a little stronger than usual. ”

In order to survive, Hajime would use anything at his disposal, whether it was

ambushes, tricks, traps, lies, bluffs, and all sorts of other cowardly tactics. Aside from

the one fight he had with the Claw Bear, he honestly thought fighting head-on was just

moronic. Hell wasn so nice a place that you could survive with a code of honor. Nor

did he feel guilty about his chosen fighting style. That was just how much hed

transformed over the course of his time here.

Still, he hadn sunk so far that hed abandon someone. Even now, after all this time,

he still had some semblance of morality. No, rather it was more accurate to say that he

had regained some semblance of morality. And the one who had reminded him of that,

of who he really was, was none other than Yue.

Hence why abandoning her was not an option. When she had given him that look, a

look that told him she had placed her life in his hands, he had made his decision. At

the critical turning point that decided whether or not he became as terrible as the

monsters he consumed, he had chosen to remain human.

Yue saw in his expression the words he didn say and nodded in understanding before

suddenly hugging him.

”H-Huh? Whats up? ” Hajime stuttered, confused. Considering the circumstances, her

actions seemed oddly timed. The effects of the flash grenade would wear off any

minute. Plus, Hajimes wounds had finished healing. He needed to return to the fray

as soon as possible.

Yet in spite of all that, Yue wrapped a hand around his neck.

”Hajime… trust in me. ” As she said that, Yue kissed the nape of his neck.

”Wha—!? ” No, not kissed. Bit.

Hajime felt a tiny pinprick of pain. Following that, it felt as if the energy was being

sucked out of his body. He was about to shake her off, when he remembered Yue had

said she was a vampire, and realized she must have been sucking his blood.

When she had said ”trust in me ” she meant she wanted him to put aside his initial fear

and revulsion at having his blood sucked.

Smiling wryly, Hajime wrapped his arms around Yue and supported her tiny body as

she drank his blood. She twitched in surprise, but after a moment she hugged him

even tighter and buried her face into his neck. It might just have been his imagination,

but it looked as if Yue was happy he did that.

”Kshaaaaaaaaaaaaa! ” The scorpion things roar echoed throughout the chamber. It

appeared the time hed bought with the flash grenade had run out. It must have found

them already, as the ground shook once more and began to warp. This must have been

its special magic. It could freely control the earth around it.

”Unfortunately for you, thats my specialty too. ” Hajime placed his right hand on the

ground and began transmuting. The ground stopped warping in a three meter radius

around him, and instead rose up to form walls that protected him and Yue.

Myriad spiked cones slammed into the walls, aiming for Hajime, but his barriers kept

them at bay. Each wall was only able to withstand a single attack, but he transmuted a

new one after each broke.

The scope, strength, and offensive power of the scorpions earth manipulation were

far above Hajimes, but his transmutation speed was far faster. The range of his

transmutation ability had stopped growing at three meters, so he assumed it had

reached its peak. Also, he still couldn fling spikes or do anything purely offensive with

the skill, but when it came to defense, there was none better.

Hajime focused his all on defense, keeping the monsters attacks at bay until Yue finally

removed her fangs from his neck.

Her face was flushed as she licked the last few drops of blood off her lips. Despite how

young she appeared, the gesture, combined with her flushed face, looked rather

seductive. In the span of a few moments, her emaciated body had become healthy, and

her porcelain-white skin glowed with new vitality. Her cheeks, once gaunt, were now

a rosy pink. A warm, gentle light dwelled within her crimson eyes, and she caressed

Hajimes cheek with a slender hand.

”…Thanks for the meal. ” Suddenly, Yue got to her feet and brandished a hand at the

scorpion thing. As she did so, a tremendous amount of mana, golden in color, poured

out of her tiny body, chasing away the darkness.

Then, clad in a wondrous golden light, with her golden hair fluttering around her, she

muttered a single phrase.

”Azure Blaze. ” A massive blue-white fireball, at least six or seven meters in diameter,

appeared directly above the scorpions head.

Though it didn score a direct hit, the fireball must have still caused quite a bit of

damage, as the beast backed away, screeching in pain.

However, the vampire princess of the abyss did not allow it to escape. She stuck an

elegant finger out, waving it around like a conductors baton. The fireball then

followed her finger faithfully, chasing after the fleeing scorpion… and slammed into it.

”Gagyaaaaaa!? ” It screeched in pain, letting out a noise Hajime had not heard before.

It was clearly suffering. As the fireball smashed into its target, the entire room was

filled with a blinding white light, temporarily robbing everyone of their sight. Hajime

covered his eyes with his arm, and gazed dumbfounded at the grand display of magic.

Eventually the magic wore off and the pale blue fireball vanished. Once the flames

disappeared, Hajime could see the scorpion writhing around in pain, its shell pulsing

an angry red, and noted that parts of it had fused together from the heat.

Hajime wasn sure what was more praiseworthy: Yues magic, which had harmed the

shell neither his 3000 degrees Celsius incendiary grenade nor a point blank railgun

shot from Donner could even scratch, or the monsters shell, which had somehow

managed to withstand the blast.

He heard a soft thump and tore his eyes away from the wondrous spectacle to look

back at Yue. She was slumped on the ground, breathing heavily. It seemed she had used

up all her mana.

”Yue, you alright? ”

”Mm… Just very… tired… ”

”Haha. But man, you really did it. Thanks for the save. Ill handle the rest, so you just

rest. ”

”Mm, good luck… ” Hajime waved at Yue, and then used Supersonic Step to close the

distance between him and the scorpion in one bound. It was still in surprisingly good

shape. Though it was howling in pain and rage at having its shell fused together, and

when it saw Hajime approach it instantly fired its needle buckshot.

For his part, Hajime swiftly pulled another flash grenade from his pouch and flung it

at the scorpion. He then blew away the buckshot with Donner before it had a chance

to separate. After that, he fired a non-railgun powered shot at the falling flash grenade.

Having gotten used to this move already, the scorpion wasn fazed this time. It

screeched in annoyance at its temporary blindness, but it still continued seeking out


But no matter where it looked, it couldn find him. As it glanced about in confusion,

Hajime fell from the sky and landed on its back.

”Kshaa!? ” It let out a surprised hiss. That was no surprise. After all, its prey had

escaped its senses and suddenly showed up behind it.

Hajime had used Hide Presence and the flash from his grenade to escape the

scorpions senses.

The red hot scorpions shell burned Hajimes skin. However, he ignored the pain,

placed Donner directly above one of the damaged sections, and emptied the guns

entire chamber. Having already lost some of its hardness from Yues earlier fireball,

the scorpions shell was unable to withstand a barrage of point blank rail gun

enhanced bullets, so it finally shattered.

Heedless of the damage it might cause itself, the scorpion thrust at Hajime with both

its tails, but he was faster.

”Take this, you bastard. ” He pulled another grenade from his pouch, then thrust it deep

into the hole he had made with Donner. He ignored his burning flesh as he dug his

”present ” in as deep as he could. Then, before the scorpion could attack him with its

tails, he fled to safety using Supersonic Step. As he fled, it turned around to chase him

down with a projectile attack.

However, the moment it finished turning—

Boom! A muffled explosion resounded throughout the room, which made the scorpion

thing twitch. The frozen scorpion and Hajime stared at each other as silence reigned.

Finally, the scorpion crumpled to the ground with a resounding crash.

Hajime finished reloading Donner and slowly walked up to the unmoving scorpion.

Just to make sure it was dead, he fired three bullets into his mouth before nodding in

satisfaction. It had become his policy in recent times to make sure he thoroughly

finished any foe off.

As he turned around, he found Yue sitting on the ground staring at him, expressionless

as always. Despite her poker face, it seemed to him that she was happy. He had no idea

when hed finally escape the wretched labyrinth he was currently trapped in, but at

least hed found a reliable partner to travel with.

According to myth, Pandoras Box had contained all of the worlds evil, but also a tiny

bit of hope. Though he had jokingly referred to the room as Pandoras Box before, it

had turned into a more accurate analogy than he had ever expected. Thinking happily

to himself, Hajime slowly walked over to Yue.

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