Inside the open space in the back of the first level of the Fool’s Wunderkammer. The three who finished the short lecture on Salamander, moved into the passage leading even deeper.
When they progressed over a dozen meters, they arrived at a metallic door. It had no decorations or anything like that, it only partitioned levels. Cleos put a hand on the handle and pulled it, in response to which it opened with a sobbing sound.
After passing through the door, they arrived at the next level. There, unlike in the cave from before, was a circular spacious hall.
Thanks to Cleos’ special ability this place lit better than usual, was been filled with countless shelves showing no signs of degrading. The shelves surrounded the outer walls, and if one looked from a bird’s view, they could see rings of shelves sliced up by lanes that extended from the center to the outer walls.
The three passed by shelves filled with things they could not understand and headed straight forward.
In the middle of the hall there was a circular space. Inside this space, there was a hole open which had about five meters in diameter and when they looked inside, they saw a spiral staircase that seemed to invite them deep underground.
This was the second level of the Fool’s Wunderkammer. Structured just like the Silver Towers, this place had multiple doughnut-shaped floors and each of them overflowed with shelves and pedestals.
Hinata looked at those with interest as she followed the two walking down the spiral staircase.
This shaft which had total of fifteen floors was originally very dark, and that coupled with the fact it was filled with incomprehensible things would normally make it very creepy. But now, thanks to Cleos’, everything was brightly lit and it appeared like a museum that did not have any theme. Moreover, the range of view was good and they were able to confirm the monsters’ position.
By the walls there were Huge Slimes and hiding between the shelves were Shadow Panthers, living by the ceiling were Strigo Bats; Armored Pythons patrolled outer part walls. All these monsters were splendidly lit by Cleos.
“It’s a good opportunity, Cleos, how about you show her your Salamander as a model case?”
Seeing the monsters from above the spiral staircase, Mira thought it was a good opportunity and gave Cleos a proposal.
“A model case, is it.”
From Cleos’ perspective, he would prefer to see Mira’s model case. He thought that would be more meaningful, which is why he was reluctant.
“I’m also interested in how much you improved, you see.”
When Cleos spoke with a slight disapproval in his voice, Mira said so and smiled provocatively. That moment, Cleos expression changed completely, he was filled with motivation just like Hinata.
“Understood. Please leave it to me!”
He nodded strongly and took a big step forward.
Focusing his consciousness at a point below the stairs, Cleos activated his Summoning.
A magic circle shone and burned up. And from inside burning up sparks, Cleos’ Salamander showed itself. It was about two sizes bigger than Hinata’s Salamander, its limbs looked very strong and its tail was unexpectedly long.
It was the appearance of a Salamander that was very firmly raised with focus on mobility.
“It’s... completely different…"
Although there was no charm to it, seeing this Salamander’s overwhelmingly gallant appearance, Hinata fell into a slump as she compared it with her own Salamander.
“Depending on the training from here on, anything can happen. Make sure to work diligently.”
When Mira extended her hand and pat Hinata’s shoulder as she encouraged her, Hinata answered “Yup, I’ll do my best!" and raising her tail she motivated herself.
“Then, I’ll be going.”
Hearing the two’s exchange a little enviously, Cleos said so and gave instructions to his Salamander for starting combat.
Immediately after, the Salamander disappeared. No, it only looked like it disappeared. That was just how great its instantaneous power was when it leaped.
Hinata hurriedly chased after its figure with her eyes.
And unconsciously leaked a voice. What was reflected in her eyes, was the appearance of the Salamander who was gnawing and burning down the monsters on the level.
About five monsters were exterminated in a blink of an eye. This speed, and above all - the impact of the ferociousness with which the Salamander defeated the enemy - had left Hinata fascinated.
“Well then, let’s head to the lower levels.”
When Cleos said so, the Salamander returned to his master’s side, then moving ahead of them it went down the stairs. Once the three caught up to it, Salamander’s entire body was clad in 《Flame Armor》 and monsters assaulted it. The Salamander that leaped all around and dragged a trail of flames which burned monsters, was a hunter who scattered both beautiful and terrifying blaze.
The Huge Slime that released digestive fluids was boiled by Salamander’s single blow.
The Shadow Panthers that used everything in the surroundings for their scaffold couldn’t do anything against mobility that was above theirs and were burned down.
The Strigo Bats that attacked from a blind spot when other monsters engaged the enemy, were struck down by Salamander’s whip-like tail.
And the Armored Pythons had their pride, their armor, easily pulverized before being burned to ashes.
It was a truly overwhelming sight.
“Ho-hooh. That’s a so-so growth.”
Seeing that scene, Mira looked a little impressed and spoke words of praise.
So-so. While Hinata was confused wondering what about this was “so-so”, Cleos said “thank you very much” in good mood.
There was no opponent that could face Cleos’ Salamander and without anyone who could stop them from moving, the result was that the three reached the lowest level without taking much time.
With exterminating the monsters that were there, Salamander’s role was over and it was dismissed. Hinata saw it off while praying that her son would become like that as well.
On this level there were no shelves nor pedestals, only a large stone desk situated in the middle of the room.
“Hm, so it’s this.”
In the middle of the desk there was a small hollow. It was the mechanism for opening the passage to the deepest level that Mira heard of from Solomon.
After confirming it, in there Mira put the Firefly-Blazing Lightstone brought back by Galet.
And then, for some reason the faint shine released by Firefly-Blazing Lightstone slowly spread on the stone table. Furthermore, it had also extended to the floor and turning into multiple lines it climbed surrounding walls. And this spreading light eventually gathered to draw a square on the wall.
(“Hoh, this looks like a professional display.”)
Mira whose eyes chased after the light and stared at the square, her heart fluttering.
The square gradually shone stronger and when it reached the peak of shine, the entire second level started to shake. Then a blunt sound sounded and finally the hidden door opened.
“Mira-sama, Hinata-sensei. Behind us.”
As Mira and Hinata stared at the square light together, Cleos spoke somewhat apologetically with a wry smile.
When they turned around, on a wall there was nothing on there was now an open hole. The light square that felt like it was saying “it will open here” seemed to be a mere performance.
Hinata went “I got cheateed!" and laughed, but Mira sulkily passed by Cleos and entered the hidden entrance.
After progressing a narrow corridor for over a dozen meters and descending down the stairs that were ahead of that, the three suddenly entered an open space.
Surrounding them were walls of large unrefined stone blocks and the ceiling was that of raw rock. On the flat floor there were countless scars.
The wide space was about twice as large as a school’s PE hall and in the back there was a metallic gate, beside which stood ostentatious statues of knights.
“They clearly look like they could move any time, mm.”
While staring at the two statues Mira put her fingertips on her chin.
“Just as you have guessed. First the knight holding sword and shield moves, then after a while the warrior with the halberd moves.”
“Hm, so they DO move after all. An enemy I see for the first time, this makes me thrilled, mm.”
Mira muttered so and smiling daringly, she took one, two steps forward.
“Might as well do it myself. There is no need to intrude.”
In the middle Mira turned around and declared so, to which Cleos answered “I am aware” and moved back.
Back when she was Danbulf, Mira fought alone to grasp the actions and characteristics of the enemies met for the first time. Recalling such a thing from those days, Cleos answered as if it was natural. Then a little nostalgically, he strained his eyes not to miss a single move of hers as he stared at Mira’s back.
“Hinata-sensei. Please look well at Mira-sama’s movements, you should see a glimpse of the peak of Summoning.”
When he called out to Hinata who moved back together with him, Cleos’ eyes were more serious than ever and his face was oozing of curiosity anyone could notice.
Bewildered by this expression of his she was not used to see, Hinata nodded with all she had and focused her gaze on Mira’s back.
(“Now then, the enemy seems to be golems.”)
Golems had resistance towards fire. However, there was no way she could summon anything other than Salamander after Hinata and Cleos summoned theirs.
Once she decided so, the rest happened very quickly. Knight statues who responded to Mira - who did not stop walking - broke the silence. At the same time, a magic circle appeared and a Salamander leaped from inside crimson flames.
Like this, combat of both sides started suddenly.
Before the magic circle even finished burning up, the Salamander’s thick tail smacked a knight and sent him flying.
While rolling on the ground, the knight statue scattered its pieces around. In contrast to that, the Salamander’s dark red skin burned like magma and a scorching heat converged in its mouth. In addition to that, its four limbs were long and thick. At a glance its face looked like that of a wild beast and the overwhelming appearance felt less like a big lizard and more like a wingless dragon.
Hinata who was shocked just earlier, was now astonished by a sight even greater than that and unconsciously let out a strange voice. The difference between their Salamanders was so big that her understanding could not keep up.
But ignoring such attitude of Hinata’s, Salamander’s and statues’ combat progressed.
The knight statue that corrected its posture moved more swiftly than it could be imagined from its large build, breaking into a run. Each of its steps shook the ground fiercely and further increased its momentum. The rough sword strike released by this large body was fierce and extremely powerful, pulverizing part of the floor.
Although the sword of the knight statue approached quickly, it still did not reach the Salamander. No wonder, it wasn’t only the large statue that could move in a way unexpected of its stature.
Jumping high with its strong legs and flying in the air even without wings, scattering flames all over, Salamander’s appearance looked like some kind of nightmarish monster.
The statue swung its sword as not to lose to that. However, Salamander nimbly adjusted the distance between them and leaped in seeing an instant of chance, then crumbled the statue’s arm with a bite.
Despite losing one arm, the knight’s statue still swung its remaining arm holding a shield to fight back. However, the match was already decided.
Flames burst from the crumbled arm. Those flames increased in momentum before eventually, a thundering sound rang out and the giant statue’s shoulder burst.
The knight statue shook largely and fell over. However, flames did not stop. As if eroding the knight, they spread making the arm and torso burst.
Then eventually even both of itslegs turned into rubble, the only thing remaining behind the knight statue was the sword and the shield.
In the middle of the aftermath of the explosion, the point of the halberd pierced in. The warrior statue with the halberd had moved.
Even as their vision fogged up, the halberd precisely aimed for the Salamander. However, its point did not catch the prey and only pierced into the ground, then losing the owner it fell to the ground.
When the dust started to thin out, in the place where the warrior statue was supposed to be there were six pieces of flaming rubble.
“Hmm, very good work.”
The Salamander adjusted its trajectory in mid-air and landed heavily right in front of Mira. She stroked the nose of the Salamander and spoke a praise. In response, it growled in good mood as it rejoiced.
“As expected of Mira-sama. I have learned much from this.”
After seeing off the Salamander who was dismissed, Cleos said so with an expression happier than ever.
As for Hinata who was watching together with him, in contrast to Cleos she realized there was a problem to overcome before she could even learn from that. However, the scene she just saw this time certainly left a clear image inside her. It was the figure to chase after for the rest of her life, an absolute admiration that would become her indicator.