I lightly parried the fists of the golem and ordered it to wait in a soft voice, then blew it away to make it look like it was defeated.
It was fine to destroy the low-AI golems on the lower floors. They neither recognized me nor obeyed my orders. They were broken machines that relentlessly attack whatever was in front of them. It was the correct decision to destroy them.
However, the golems on the middle floors and above had higher levels and could understand simple commands. I did not want to destroy them since they could recognize me and Aries to the point of stopping their attacks. Therefore, I pretended to defeat the golems from the middle floors, leaving them unscathed.
“Wow. Saphur is amazing. Another golem was sent flying.”
“Is she really a ranger…?”
Jean and Nick were getting suspicious, but it should be fine as long as my wings remained hidden. It had been some time since we entered the tomb. Currently, we arrived on the 106th floor. Since the tomb had one hundred and eight floors, we would reach the top after another two floors. It took the previous investigation team one month to reach here.
After hearing the news, I felt respect and pity for them. Considering their levels, even one golem would be an enormous threat. Truly, they were excellent explorers to have come so far despite their low levels. Such a pity. It was a heavy blow for the humanoids to lose these people.
“Everyone, back off.”
I warned as I saw the entity at the stairs leading to the 107th floor.
What? Something like this was left behind?
At twice the size of the previous golems, it was an enormous metallic guardian of ten meters (tall). By using the expensive material mithril, the most powerful that I could create by myself without using cash items was Level 600.
Before the decisive battle back then, I used the best materials available to create several golems for the defense of strategic bases. Although they were not as good as Libra who was created by Mizar, they were the highest level golems that I could create by myself.
Even so, it would probably lose to Levia, who was created out of the water in the entire lake. It wasn’t strange for it to be used for national defense. In the current era, it should be the strongest golem.
Well, well. The investigation team actually broke through this thing.
Most likely…they left some comrades as decoys and ran past it.
Race: Artificial Life-form
HP: 105 / 45,000
STR (Strength): ????
DEX (Dexterity): ????
VIT (Vitality): ????
INT (Intelligence): ??
AGI (Agility): ???
MND (Mind): ???
LUK (Luck): ???
…Tsk. I couldn’t see the full status. This implied that it did not belong to me.
Unless the creature was an ally or the checker had twice as many levels, the status would only display name, level, HP, SP, and attribute.
I supposed its AI level should be 3 or 4, and yet it couldn’t recognize me? Should I try? There was no reason for it to be missing something other golems possessed.
“…Do you know me, gatekeeper?”
I walked towards the gatekeeper casually. Jean shouted, “Danger!” and was ignored.
So, how was it? Could it recognize me?
I dodged its extended fist. I knew for sure now. I had a bad feeling the moment I saw its reduced HP. It seemed I was spot on. This one was already broken. Although it was still functional, it could no longer recognize me. Sorry, there was no other choice but to destroy it.
Since the other golems could still move, its current state was not merely due to deterioration over time. An enemy that could reduce its HP to this degree…hmm, there could be none other than the demons. One or two raids probably wouldn’t be enough, given the strength of the Seven Luminaries. However, its HP would be reduced if raided repeatedly ten to twenty times.
Considering this, I was surprised that it was moving at all.
“Don’t worry. It can’t do anything to me in its current state.”
I responded to Jean’s concerned voice and stepped forward. Side-stepping the gatekeeper’s attack, I went straight into its bosom.
I penetrated it with a knifehand strike, reducing its remaining HP to zero. Purple electrical sparks flew as the metallic parts that composed its body scattered across the ground. Light flashed in one of its eyes before it collapsed on the floor.
It was so humorous and pitiful as it repeated the same words like a broken record. I shook off the metallic fragments on my hand and passed through the side of the gatekeeper. With this, there was no more obstacle. All that was left was to stop Libra. As I was about to go on to the next floor, a voice mixed with noise was heard from behind.
I could barely hear the whisper. But I heard it, definitely heard it.
I stopped and glanced at the fallen gatekeeper. As if blessing my return, its broken form reached out a hand…to me, who just destroyed it.
“…You’ve worked hard. Good job until now… Enough. Rest well.”
Finally, the voice stopped. A sound leaked out as if it was relieved, and the gatekeeper ceased functioning.
…This was somewhat unbearable.
I knew there was no alternative but to destroy it. Still, I just couldn’t take it.
Strange. My heart was aching as if I had committed a terrible mistake. I should not have interacted with it before. Wasn’t this the first time we met?
It was a golem, a tool that moved only as ordered. So why was I feeling so terrible?
“…Only the 107th floor and the top floor remain. Stay here.”
There was no doubt Libra was ahead. The party was temporarily disbanded for now. I must go alone.
Jean, however, shouted in opposition.
“Wa—Wait! You are going alone!? That’s absurd!”
“No. It’s for the best. Nobody other than me can withstand Libra’s first shot. Her Brachium skill will erase you thirty times over if you come.”
Jean took a deep breath and looked at me suspiciously. His eyes did not doubt my words. They questioned my very existence.
“You… What exactly are you?”
“I’m a fool, but I’m smart enough to notice your exceptional strength. Around midway, you crushed the golems so we did not have to fight them… You were unfazed even when facing the previous golem’s fist… You talked as though you know Libra personally… You, exactly…”
“…There is no need for me to answer you.”
I refused to reply and turned my back to them. If the question was directed at Aries and Dina, Dina should be able to come up with a better lie than me. I could not reveal my identity. At least, not now.
Even though it was just one golem, I was unnecessarily shaken. I did not know why I would lack calmness so much. I really could not understand…If it was the real Ruphas, perhaps so. But I was different. I had no reason to feel sorrow, right…?
Ah. What was this? What was wrong with me?
I climbed the stairs and arrived on the 107th floor. In that instant, everything before my eyes collapsed, revealing a cracked, wide, inorganic space.
In the center was a girl with a maid dress—No, a golem that imitated a girl.
The clothes I gave her had signs of patching in some places. However, it wasn’t enough, so some parts remained torn. The joint was exposed along with her arm. If examined closely, fine cracks could be seen running through her body.
An artificial life-form created by Mizar, using the materials that I (Ruphas) collected two hundred years ago. She creaked as she turned her face towards me.
“—Intruder confirmed…Warning…Leave this place in ten seconds. Non-compliance or hostile behavior will be met with elimination by force.”
She must have repeated this many times. A warning that seemed to be derived from a template.
I did not respond. Without advancing, I let down my hair.
I took off the spectacles and reached behind my back to remove the bandage given by Megrez, gradually revealing my wings.
The countdown stopped.
Without caring, I completely removed the bandage and unleashed my wings.
Despite being expressionless, Libra was motionless as if shocked to her core. The countdown did not continue. I found this a little funny and spoke to her with a smile.
“It has been a while, Libra. What’s up? You have a face like a pigeon struck by a peashooter. Have you forgotten my face?”
I silently watched Libra as she stood there motionlessly.
Firstly, I should wait for her conclusion. If she recognized me and interrupted her attack, that would be fine. If she fired Brachium, I needed to overcome it and stop her movements. Her damage did not seem as severe as the previous gatekeeper. It should not be too late for repairs.
“Matching…biometric data, found…Probability of being the real Ruphas Mafahl, 99.99989965%… Inferring from situation…Survival rate from the battle, less than 1%… Overall probability…conclusion, impossible…impossible…con—conclusion…con—clu—sion, con…impossible, impossible…”
“Hey, no need to over-think this.”
This was bad.
She was getting confused by the unprecedented scenario of a dead person showing up. I wondered if this would happen normally, but she must be getting faulty like the gatekeeper. Even if that wasn’t the case, she had been left to guard this place without rest for one hundred ninety years. Well, it couldn’t be helped if her judgment was faulty.
“I will come over and repair you now. You need to rest.”
“—! Warning! If you continue to approach, the elimination condition will be met!”
“I don’t mind.”
I ignored Libra’s warning and stepped forward steadily.
One step, two steps!
Libra couldn’t decide to attack or not. Meanwhile, I was getting closer.
“There, I have moved. Aren’t you going to stop me?”
“…… Program selection!”
Libra’s eyes shone and her entire body glowed. Firstly, there was a film of light that covered the surroundings. It was an isolated space for Brachium skill to prevent the enemy from escaping and avoid unnecessary destruction. In the center, the white glow converged on Libra and shone like a star. A vivid brightness expanded and pulsated.
Now then, this would be the first massive damage I received since coming to this world.
Honestly, I wasn’t confident of withstanding the damage, but…why? At this moment, I very much wanted to be attacked. I didn’t really understand it myself.
And the star exploded.
The entire room was filled with intense white light. An impact that I never felt before struck my entire body. The light was raging like a storm, while colorful particles danced and scattered in the space. Everything inside was severed, trampled, and destroyed.
It ignored defenses. It ignored resistances. Ignoring even skills and divine magic, it forcefully penetrated the body to deal the maximum fixed damage.
Crap. It hurt.
And it was hot.
It felt as if my whole body was scorched by the stinging heat…or rather, it was actually charred. I knew my HP was decreasing at a rapid rate.
A muffled sound escaped from my clenched teeth. But I insisted on forcing my way forward in this light. Honestly, I wanted to roll down the stairs and escaped to a safe place right now, but I couldn’t afford to do that. It was too uncool. Or rather, I couldn’t do it at all. Once Brachium activated, it would be better to think that escape was impossible until it finished.
One step, two steps, three steps.
I advanced through the glow and shortened the distance with Libra. Meanwhile, the light stabbed into me without mercy, continuously draining my HP. This was really tough. However, it wasn’t unbearable to me.
“Good grief. I finally arrived.”
Libra moved as I came before her. The weapon that was stored in her left arm—a bluish white blade of light—appeared. I dodged the blade by a paper-thin margin and grabbed her left arm to stop her movement.
And I activated the alchemist’s skill, All Repair.
It was a skill that would fully restore HP, provided the target was a golem. This skill was really inefficient, and not all golems could be repaired. Only the ones owned by the user could be affected.
Unlike the gatekeeper, Libra should be a golem still owned by me when I fell in battle. I decided to test if my hypothesis was true. It seemed to have passed without incident. The cracks along Libra’s body vanished and her HP was restored.
“I’m sorry I kept you waiting for a long time. I have come to pick you up, Libra.”
“…Situational evaluation…Probability of being Ruphas-sama herself, 100%…Ruphas-sama’s identity, confirmed… Terminating the task of defending the royal tomb.”
Libra said and closed her eyes as if relieved.
I gently embraced the girl who could finally rest after her task was finished.