The Fear Mongering Dungeon
Nell nervously cast her gaze to and fro as she moved through the castle. In examining her surroundings, she found herself face to face with many a gloomy corridor. They were dim and somber, but she felt that they were majestic nonetheless. The light coming off the brilliant chandeliers refracted off the magnificent pillars lining the corridors to create a series of dark, intimidating shadows. Though she felt threatened by her surroundings, the hero thought them to be elegant, sophisticated, and refined. The ambiance couldn’t be described any other way.
Her enemy search skill had failed to produce any sort of reaction whatsoever, but Nell remained cautious nonetheless. She knew that she couldn’t let her guard down so deep in enemy territory, regardless of what her skill was telling her. But that was only half the truth. The hero’s education was only one of the two reasons she remained vigilant. To be frank, Nell was only as on guard as she was because the castle had her spooked. There were a countless number of armoured statues placed throughout the hall at even intervals. The stone monuments were so well crafted and lifelike that she was worried they might awaken and assault her at any given moment. And though they too were made of sculpted stone, the realistic blades the suits of armour were holding really didn’t help.
No matter how hard she tried, the hero could not help but be creeped out by the eerie decorations. She felt as if they were staring at her, that something lay within the dark slits of their helmets.
Nell really didn’t want to keep pushing forward. She was frightened. She wanted to turn around and head home, but she couldn’t. The hero was already far too deep in the enemy’s territory for her to turn tail and run. Reluctantly, she continued to advance. But before she did, she first spun around to inspect her surroundings.
“H-Huh…?” She blinked in surprise. “Did they just…?”
Nell was struck with a sudden sense of foreboding as she realized that the statues behind her seemed to be looking right at her. It was as if they’d turned their helmets towards her the moment she took her eyes off them.
“I’m probably just imagining things. That has to be it.” She gulped as she tried to reassure herself. “There aren’t any monsters around, so there’s no way they weren’t like that before, right…?”
After once again attempting to convince herself that nothing was wrong, Nell turned back around—only to see one of the suits of armour right behind her.
She swung her blade as she screamed. The instincts that’d been beaten into her body allowed her to deliver a splendid diagonal slash despite being caught off guard. Her blade smoothly glided through the statue’s torso, bisecting it without even the slightest bit of resistance. The top half of the stone sculpture glided off the bottom; a heavy thud resounded through the corridor as it crashed into the floor.
“G-Geez… How the heck did that get there…?”
Nell nervously stole a peek inside the armoured shell and confirmed that it was empty, completely devoid of life or force. A shiver ran up her spine. The lack of a perpetrator rendered the hero confused and terrified.
The uncanny scenario left her wanting to flee, so she sped up her steps in an attempt to get out the corridor as soon as possible. She moved through the long hall, passing armoured statue after armoured statue. It took awhile, but she eventually managed to reach a bend, a route of escape.
But as she turned the corner, she once again realized that something was amiss. The new corridor she entered, like the last, was lined with stone statues. A single bisected one was standing in the middle of the hall. It didn’t take more than a moment for her to realize what had happened. She’d failed to escape. She’d only gone full circle despite advancing in what had seemed to be a straight line.
“Aieee!” A high pitched shriek forced its way out from the hero’s throat as she recoiled in fear.
As if using her scream as their impetus, the hall’s doors began slamming open one after another. Bizarre sounding groans leaked out from within.
Nell’s heart pounded. She was so terrified that her breaths ran both ragged and shallow. She took a step backwards in order to get away from whatever was about to come out of the doors. But to no avail; the step she took ran her into something. Once again, there was something right behind her.
The hero’s entire body stiffened.
A part of her was screaming at her and urging her not to look, but she ignored it and fearfully reared her head. The first thing that entered her line of sight as she turned around was a large tooth.
It took her a second to understand what she was looking at. It was a woman. Or rather, least a woman’s face, many times larger than life and floating right behind her. The sides of the woman’s cheeks were torn open. And visible through the skin was an abnormally large jaw. The “woman’s” massive mouth was gaping open, as if to readily swallow the hero whole.
Nell screamed. A shrill cry echoed throughout the entire castle, reaching every last nook and cranny despite its massive size.
“Ahahaha!” Watching the dungeon’s video feed caused me to slap my knee as I laughed. “Oh man, I can’t believe she actually fell for that.”
As the person responsible for setting all the dungeon’s traps, I was glad to see them prove their worth. All the time and energy I spent placing them hadn’t been put to waste.
I felt as if I was starting to understand why demon lords had the tendency to greet their foes while pumped full of magnanimity. It was clearly because watching their carefully placed traps succeed brought them glee. It was only natural for a demon lord to be in a good mood by the time the heroes finally reached them. That said, my case was a bit different in the sense that I wasn’t actually using traps. All the events that had played out on my display had been orchestrated by the dungeon’s monsters. Specifically, it was the work of my three newest hires. The reason the pranks so greatly resembled the actions of a poltergeist was because that was exactly what they were.
All three of the creatures I’d summoned were ghosts. Or more specifically, wraiths. Wraiths were monsters that had no true physical form. They were translucent; you could almost see right through them. I named the three ghost-like monsters I’d recently summoned Rei, Rui, and Lowe. For some odd reason, all three of them were girls, and ones that looked to be between 3 and 4 years old at that. Just to be clear, I hadn’t planned on them being young girls. In fact, I would’ve preferred that they weren’t. I was a bit concerned that Lefi would start with her accusations again, and as I was by no means a pedophile, I really didn’t like to be referred to as one.
Appearances aside, all three wraiths were everything I’d hoped they’d be. Each had a skill they specialized in. Rei was good at telekinesis. She was responsible for slamming the doors and moving all the armour.
Lowe was good at mind magic; her spells were specialized to alter the target’s perception of reality by manipulating their senses. Although it was powerful, mind magic was also extremely limited in its use. It was more or less incapable of affecting individuals whose mental states were undisturbed. Fortunately, the hero had been totally spooked and on edge, so she made for an easy target. Lowe had managed to make a rectangular set of corridors appear like a single straight hallway. In other words, she had made the hero walk a full circle without realizing it.
Last but not least was Rui. Her illusion magic allowed her to create both the creepy sounding groans and the woman with the needlessly large mouth. The most amazing part about Rui’s magic was that it had substance. You could feel the apparitions she created even though they didn’t actually exist.
Wraiths were classified as undead monsters. Most wraiths were thought of as creatures that hated the living, but neither Rei, Rui, or Lowe had any homicidal impulses. Unlike most other wraiths, they hadn’t become wraiths after basking in some sort of grudge. Their forms weren’t composed of the pure malice left behind by a poor soul’s remorse-filled dying wish. They were much more pure. They did desire to prank the living, but that was it.
And that was why the hero was unable to detect them. Her enemy search skill functioned by seeking out those that wished to harm her. The three wraiths had no such intent. All they wanted to do was play with her. As far as the skill was concerned, the three wraith girls were not her enemies. If I was her, I would’ve been able to cope with the situation by opening up my map and inspecting the area around me. But unlike me, the hero wasn’t a demon lord. She couldn’t access the dungeon’s features. She had no way of finding the creatures tormenting her.
The three wraiths cost a pretty penny. I had to go out of my way to not only save up the DP I passively gained, but also go hunting with Rir just to stock up enough to summon them. The verdict? They were well worth the expense. I decided to name the current non-lethal setup the dungeon’s “haunted house mode.” I’d already thought up several other defensive configurations as well, but I’d yet to iron out the details of the “surekill mode.” That part was still on the drawing board.
Heh. This is getting pretty fun. Man, I do love me some good old tower defense.
I grinned as I continued observing the hero. Apparently, my sentiments weren’t shared, as Lefi, who was sitting nearby, turned towards me with an exasperated look on her face.
“What a hopeless deviant you are… It appalls me to find that you are not only a pedophile, but also a sadist.”
“Oh come on, stop that. You’re making me sound like some sort of twisted pervert.”
“That is exactly the point.”
I wanted to refute Lefi’s claim, but Illuna, who was sitting between the two of us, joined in on the conversation and cut me off before I could respond.
“I feel kinda bad for her. You’re being really mean and bullying her lots…” The young vampire’s gaze was painful. She was clearly finding fault with my actions.
“W-Well I mean, I get what you’re saying, but she’s kind of our enemy, you know…?” I raised a finger and pointed it towards the screen the hero was displayed on, only to find that the situation had changed since I last looked. The three wraiths had left the poor girl traumatized; she had clearly already lost the will to continue. In fact, she was huddled off in a corner, cradling her knees and sobbing.
“Uhh…” I wanted to keep talking, but I couldn’t. My point had already been proven moot.
“Yuki…” said Lefi.
“I think you should really stop bullying her…” added Illuna.
Both their gazes were reproachful. Neither believed that I was in the right.
“Alright, alright, I get it, so stop looking at me like that already.” I sighed.
Unable to stand their stares, I hurriedly escaped from the true throne room and started heading towards the hero’s location. She had already lost the will to fight, so I doubted that she would attack me even if I met her face to face.
Man, what a bummer. I guess all that planning the wraiths and I went through is just going to end up going to waste…