Chapter 110. Requirements of a Dimensional Mercenary (3)
“What… What about you?”
[D-Dungeon. I ran away to the dungeon. Most of the explorers in the battlefield died, and only Shuna and I managed to escape to the dungeon. I’m scared, I can’t go back. E-Even though I’m the crown princess. Even though I have to be at the battlefield…!]
“… And the Demon Lord?”
[He got heavily injured from fighting the Hero before squeezing out the last of his strength and turning everyone into stone. Shina was there. I ran away… while watching everything happen.]
“So Shina isn’t the only one that got captured.”
[Yeah… S-Shin… I, I’m scared. I can’t go back to my world…]
Even over the dungeon’s messages, her trembling voice reached me perfectly. I bit my lips, not knowing what to do. After a bit of pondering, I thought that I needed to see her.
“Where are you?”
[In my house at the Residential Area…]
“Let’s meet first.”
I wouldn’t be able to focus on breaking through the dungeon in this situation anyways. I immediately headed to the Residential Area and received her invitation to go to her house.
The moment I arrived, Ludia bumped into my chest. No, she had run into my embrace. Thankfully, I wasn’t wearing my armor.
Without bursting out into tears, she eked out whimpers as she stayed in my embrace. I could feel my shirt getting wet from her tears. Flustered, I didn’t know what to do and could only pat her back as she cried. Ludia stayed like that for a few minutes before she calmed down and got off.
Ludia’s eyes were bloodshot from crying. She then sat on the chair without any strength. Her usual self resembled a cat ready to fight with its hair raised, but she currently looked completely powerless. ‘She must have had no one to turn to if she contacted me…’ For an instant, the absurd thought crossed my mind, but I erased it immediately. I shook my head as if to shake away my delusion and asked her,
“What about Miss Shuna? Is she also in her house?”
“Shuna’s the princess of a small kingdom… she doesn’t have the money. She’s sleeping here for now, but… because she isn’t a family member, I can’t register her. If her vitality hits zero in the dungeon…”
“She’ll go back to the Luka continent.”
When I said that, Ludia bit her lips. She then covered her face with her hands, and a hot sigh came out between them.
“The Hero died… W-What do I do? The continent’s hope has disappeared. Although the Demon Lord got weakened, it won’t stay weak forever. What about Shina? What about father and mother? Our empire’s people…? They’re only looking at me…!”
“What about the other explorers?”
“Anyone who survived ran away. The Hero was the strongest, but he died. The Demon Lord’s army will finish getting ready soon and attack. Now is the only time to save Shina… but I can’t do it…!”
“Ludia, calm down a little…! Just because the Hero died, it doesn’t mean your world is ending.”
“It’s ending, Shin… If you die, your world will end too.”
At her words, I became unable to breathe for an instant.
“What… do you mean?”
“I don’t know the exact reason, but that’s what everyone says… That if the Hero dies, his world will fall to ruin without doubt… The Hero is the world itself. He is its center and core. As long as the Hero is alive, the world can continue to endure, but it’s over when he dies. There’s no chance of survival. My continent will no longer…!”
I couldn’t hear Ludia’s words very well. The world will end if the hero dies? It sounded like a cruel joke. Can’t there be another Hero? Can’t someone else accept his legacy? Is that why the monsters targeted the Hero? To destroy the world?
Then if I die, Earth will end?
“That’s why Heroes bear such heavy weights… That’s why they’re strong… That’s why you’re so charming…! Because you need to attract others to you in order to protect yourself… in order to protect the world…”
I finally understood why my charm stat increased on its own. I didn’t want to know, but it was already too late.
I felt like something heavy was pressing down on my shoulders. Was I possessed by a ghost? I tried to make a joke, but it wasn’t funny at all.
I began to realize. The daily life Loretta wanted was getting farther away. I was taken aback by the absurdity, and the strength in my body disappeared. I wanted to flop down onto the ground, but I couldn’t because of Ludia, who seemed to lack even more energy. I gritted my teeth and put strength into my body. Ludia was looking at me. She was asking me.
“Should I go back? Shin, tell me.”
“I… can’t be the one to tell you. What do you want to do, Ludia?”
“I don’t know. Don’t ask me such a cruel question. I really don’t know… No, in truth, I want to run away…!”
There wasn’t much I could do to calm down Ludia in her state of panic. However, because the appearance of lifeless dungeon explorers I’ve been seeing overlapped with the current Ludia, it was hard for me to leave her alone.
“Ludia, I can’t give you an answer… but I don’t want to see you die.”
Ludia looked at me with a surprised expression. I nodded my head seriously.
“Right. You’re a precious friend, so it’s only normal that I’d worry.”
Ludia’s face turned red. Because of the state of her emotions, I wasn’t sure how much it changed.
“But I know words can’t match actions. Ludia, think carefully. Take the entire day if you need to, and act on it.”
“Are you leaving?”
“Do you want me to stay?”
She seemed to be deep in thought, then mumbled with her mouth closed.
“Stay for one night… no, two hours.”
When I approached her, Ludia grabbed onto my sleeve without a word. I pulled a chair and sat down next to her. I was also confused. I needed time to organize my thoughts.
Ludia seemed to have relaxed after holding onto my sleeve, as she fell asleep with her head down. Her sleeping appearance was extremely lovely, but it didn’t enter my eyes.
I contemplated. About me, about the Hero, and about Earth. Starting from how I became the Hero to if the world would really end when the Hero died. I really pondered until my head felt like it would explode. After two hours, I barely managed to arrive at a conclusion. The answer was quite simple.
I wouldn’t care.
I never asked anyone to let me be the Hero. I’d just been called Hero before I noticed. People might say, ‘you’re only strong because you’re the Hero!’ But to me, it was a load of bull. Plus, just because I was told that my world would end on the event of my death, it didn’t mean that I needed to act any differently.
The world will end if I die? What, should I go hide somewhere? Should I just climb the dungeon without risking myself in Event Raids or Field Dungeons? No, not even over my dead body.
I will do what I want, and no one will stop me. I won’t let them. I decided how to live my life. I won’t waver because of some nonsense like the world ending if I die. Even if that were true, the world was over for me once I died anyway. Ah, but I still needed to ensure Yua and mother’s safety. As for father, he would be fine on his own!
I had worried for nothing. Now that I thought about it, it was simple. In fact, I felt much better now that I had organized my thoughts, and I felt like I knew what to do from now.
First, break through the 48th floor! Then, find out if there’s anything I can do for Shina. I had a strong feeling that there was something I could do. Was this also the Hero’s ability? Shit, no, I needed to stop thinking about Heroes!
When I got up, Ludia opened her eyes, still half-closed.
She looked at me and slowly asked, “Are you leaving? Don’t… leave me alone… Stay with me.”
“You have Miss Shuna, Ludia. You’re not alone. If you call me later, I’ll come running for you. But for now, there’s something I need to do.”
I imbued mana into my bracelet and equipped my armor. In front of Ludia, whose eyes opened wide, I closed the visor of my helmet and grinned. Though, she wouldn’t be able to see it.
“There has to be a way I can help.”
“… Don’t. You can’t. You need to protect your own world. Don’t involve yourself with other worlds, stupid!”
“Don’t misunderstand. It’s not just to help you. Shina’s also my friend, and I don’t like seeing you the way you are. I hate seeing people so helpless. So I’ll find a way to help you.”
“I’m not doing this to get you to help me! What I want is something else! It was just your warmth! I don’t want to drag you to hell because of me!”
“I know. I also know… that people that aren’t seeking help from others are the ones who want help most desperately.”
“No! You’re wrong!”
Because she thought it was a hopeless situation, she couldn’t so unashamedly reach out for help. However, no matter how hopeless the situation seemed, it might actually be solved easily and simply with the help of others.
That had to be why they existed. I ignored Ludia’s shouts and left her house. I thought to myself…
To look into Dimensional Mercenaries.
After breaking through the 48th floor, I arrived at the Floor Shop. Was she surprised that I arrived earlier than she expected? While Loretta was frozen for a moment, I asked what I need to. It was about Dimensional Mercenaries.
Loretta became silent at my question. Then, she asked me with a quiet voice.
“Shin-nim now somewhat knows what kind of an existence the Hero is, right?”
“Yes, to a certain extent.”
“Even so, you’re trying to become a Dimensional Mercenary, whose lives can’t be guaranteed.”
“The possibility that you’ll die in a dimension other than your own… you’ve considered it, right?”
“No. I won’t die, Loretta. So I haven’t considered it.”
“Really… Nobody can stop you.”
Loretta smiled at my words, then pinched my cheek with a sulking expression.
“I won’t forgive you if you die. I’ll follow you to the ends of hell and bother you, okay?”
“Like I said, I won’t die. So hurry up and tell me about Dimensional Mercenaries.”
“There are many requirements to become a Dimensional Mercenary. First, level. Explorers that aren’t Gold ranked, or level 51, do not have the qualification to become a Dimensional Mercenary. Second, magic. You need the ‘Dimensional Travel’ magic, which serves as the basis of a Dimensional Mercenary, and the ‘Return’ magic, which acts as the safety device to let Dimensional Mercenaries return to their home in any situation. Without any of these magic, you cannot become a Dimensional Mercenary. Third, league. Without having made at least 10 achievements and being at least the incarnation of a god, you cannot become a Dimensional Mercenary. However, Shin-nim has Hermes’ true name and have made many achievements, so you already passed this requirement.
“I’ll become Gold ranked soon, so all I need is the Dimensional Travel magic.”
She grinned and shook her head.
“There are a few ways you can obtain the Dimensional Travel magic… but there is one simplest, yet most difficult, method. It’s to defeat the 50th Floor Master alone.”
“Why is that the most difficult? That seems to be the easiest.”
“Shin-nim is the only one who would think that.”
At Loretta’s brusque words, I replied with a vague smile. However, my heart was burning. Dimensional Mercenary! I was only a step away from becoming one! Feeling like fate was guiding me… I felt dirty. However, there was no choice for now. I’d make use of anything I could!
First would the 50th floor. The day I would become First Dungeon’s Gold rank explorer was approaching.
Whew, we’re going back to battles. Look forward to the 50th Floor Master next chapter!