'Meo~w', the first thing we heard on floor three was Chimera's.
White Fang party's alertness level turned up to eleven as they took a stance with their weapons and formed up at once.
Danku vanguard, Kidd next to him, Mary and Firuna behind them, and then Melgis guarding the rear.
"Aah, lower your weapons guys. Nevermind that. Nevermind."
I told them to relax. They did lower their weapons but their eyes were still darting all over the place.
Can't blame them. We stand before a mysterious sprawling forest here on this floor. There's even a blue sky above.
I was way more surprised by this place than Chimera's sudden cry.
"A being that can create such a vast area on floor three... This dungeon has a master that's for sure..."
Kidd muttered. I somehow got the meaning of 'master' there but not the principle behind this forest's existence.
Thus I asked.
"Why does a space that can't be further from the definition of 'underground' like this exist in dungeons?"
From their brief explanation, it's apparently due to the size of the dungeon core, the crystallized mana, and the 'master' producing it.
"Dungeon monsters are born from the core. In the same vein, reproducing 'information' contained within the core is within the realm of possibility~. The degree of this reproduction depends on the floor 'depths' and whether a master is around or not~. This dungeon must be super old if floor three is this huge, you know?"
Mary gave that explanation. Which means all of this is produced by mana.
However, the feelings of stepping on the soil, the sounds of branches swayed by the wind and the warmth of sunlight shining down the blue sky.
Every single one of those feels so real, I find it hard to believe it's all mana.
"So tell me. All of this is going to disappear once the core gets taken out? Like an illusion they are?"
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I took a deep breath. Shocked by how fresh the air felt.
"Indeed. Even this tranquil forest is composed of mana from the core. Therefore, as much as it is a shame..."
"Monsters lurk in this forest. There's a danger of them multiplying and overflowing out of the dungeon to the world outside, we hafta crush that chance from ever taking place."
Firuna and Melgis replied.
Danku asked me here with a reasonable question.
"What was that cry earlier anyway? You said 'Nevermind', you must know something, don't you?"
Their lines of sight gathered on me. All due to Chimera letting out that meow when we arrived on floor three.
Guess I'm obliged to explain. The Chimera in question is long gone though.
"Ah, that's well, how do I put it, a companion, or maybe more like a pet... I'm not gonna ask you to stop thinking about it, just don't attack the thing. It's not dangerous."
They looked like they didn't even get what I was trying to convey, but that's the best I could say to them right now.
Because Chimera had rushed headlong into the forest.
I was the only one who caught sight of Chimera undoing its optical camouflage for a moment when we got here.
It then meowed and ran off right after, leaving me no time to stop it.
(I was more shocked by the fact Chimera followed us all the way into this dungeon.)
I dunno what was in the forest that got it so excited. It ran off so fast and immediately reactivated its optical camouflage, it was too late by the time I noticed.
The White Fang members had a 'what was that about?' look on their faces before we resumed our march into the forest, still high on alert.