The art of walking with no sound was, of course, mastered by Jack, a thief and Nim, a hunter. Loren and Ritz, despite being swordsmen, also learned how to do it to some extent. But it really was to some extent only.
The threads that constructed the spiderweb were all over the ground and the wall, but it would be alright as long as the ones they stepped on didn’t vibrate. The problem was, no matter how hard Loren and Ritz tried, they still rocked some of the looser threads. And, of course, it was impossible for Quartz and Dig to do what Loren and Ritz couldn’t manage, so the four of them walked nervously while trying desperately to check if the thread under their feet was loose or not.
In contrast, the thief – hunter pair and the priest – Evil G.o.d duo proceeded recklessly yet skillfully. They didn’t seem to care much about what was under their feet, and walked briskly without stopping. They had walked through a considerable distance.
“Hey Loren, go faster. We’ll leave you behind.”
Gula tried to motivate Loren, but whenever he thought about how just a single wrong step would rock the web and alert the spiders within, he just couldn’t pick up his speed.
“Gula, it’s better to not rush. The spiders here are used to hunt in the dark, so they’re sensitive to vibration and sound.”
Lapis added that huge spiders’ eyes weren’t very good. Instead, their sound receptors and vibration receptors were very well developed. They could determine the location and number of their prey thanks to sounds and the vibration of their webs.
“Once in battle, they’ll gather one after another.”
“I don’t like that. Let’s leave this place quickly.”
Gula said. Just then, a portion of the wall near her waist moved slightly. The wall was covered in thick spider threads, and beneath the threads should be stones… which shouldn’t be able to move.
That was what Dig and Quartz thought while staring at the place. The two of them had somehow gotten ahead of Loren and Ritz, and the movements had caught their attention.
“Hey, don’t stop…”
Ritz chided them, but he was interrupted as the wall beneath the thread split into two. The thing that made an appearance was probably a victim of the spiders, and was being kept between the threads and the wall as a form of storage. The body had already half dried up, and spider nymphs as big as fingertips spilled out from hollowed eye sockets and dropped to the ground.
Being in such a state, the victim shouldn’t be alive anymore. Yet that should-be-dead victim had somehow ripped the threads and extended a hand out as if asking for help towards Quartz, who was unfortunate enough to be looking at the wall that moment.
Quartz was surprised at the sudden appearance. Dig had managed to stay unmoved, but Quartz retreated several steps as if to run away from that extending hand. He tripped on a sticky thread and fell back-first onto Ritz, who was walking behind him.
By all rights, Ritz should have been able to catch him, but he was slow to react to Quartz’ unexpected movements. They got entangled and both fell into the web.
“Hey, are you alright?!”
Loren slashed at the neck of the spider’s victim, whose hand was still extending towards Quartz. The head fell with a dry sound, and countless small spiders burst out from the cross-section and the eye sockets.
“What the h.e.l.l is this?!”
“The eggs that were implanted inside have consumed the victim and turned him into an undead.”
Even without its head, the victim’s body was still moving. Loren sent it flying with a kick and trampled the small spiders that were trying to climb up his legs.
But the situation continued to get worse.
From the opening the first one had come out from, dried-up corpses came slithering out one after another. Moreover, the fall of Quartz and Ritz had violently rocked the web, and the adult spiders now knew that there were preys here. They appeared all over the web, and were certainly incomparably bigger than any spiders they had seen so far.
“What a ha.s.sle.”
Loren cursed while smas.h.i.+ng another headless corpse that was trying to get up. There should be blood splas.h.i.+ng out, yet all of it was already consumed by the spiderlings – there were only a wave small spiders pouring out.
“Don’t cut the corpses! It’ll only increase the number of young spiders!”
“But how do we deal with them?”
Ritz helped Quartz get up while striking an approaching corpse with his s.h.i.+eld. The corpse was already in a ramshackle state and was unable to withstand such a blow. The impact made a big dent on its body, and a large amount of spiderlings gushed out from its mouth. The spiderlings rushed to climb up their bodies, while they were trying to crush them under their feet, splattering body fluids about.
“There are too many of them!”
If they couldn’t be cut or hit, then it was impossible to deal with them. Using magic to burn the young spiders was also an option, but they were already in a close proximity, not to mention the corpses, which would also be affected if the magic was poorly executed.
“The adult spiders are also a problem.”
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Nim muttered while shooting an arrow. The arrow cut through the air and pierced a spider right in the head. Unable to cling to the web anymore, the dead spider fell to the ground.
“Bear with it! It’s better than getting bitten by those behind!”
Lapis’ face twitched at the prospect. She continued to run at full power while half-crying because of the sensation she felt through the sole of her shoes. Ritz’ party and Dig didn’t seem to mind at all. They just calmly ran through them. Loren, who was at the end of the line, glanced back and secretly clicked his tongue.
The adult spiders were surely faster than them and they still hadn’t reached the exit yet. The occasionally-appearing victims’ corpses were turned into dust under Lapis’ <>, releasing small spiders onto the floor. So they ran, stepping over those spiders. If this continued, the adult spiders would surely catch up to them.
Shayna spoke in Loren’s mind:
[‘Can I do something about them?’]
In response, Loren asked her to exercise Energy Drain on the adult spiders, but to not kill them. Shayna found the ‘not killing them’ a bit questionable, but she thought he might have something in mind and began using Energy Drain on the spiders as he had asked.
“They’re getting slower! They must have started to become tired!”
Ritz noticed a change in the spiders’ speed and said in a tone full of joy. Of course, the spiders’ stamina wouldn’t run out just because of some chasing like this. It was just Shayna’s Energy Drain taking effect. Being sucked of their vitality, the spiders had started to weaken.
[‘Is it alright to not kill them?’]
No matter how big they were, they were just spiders. They couldn’t fight against the King of Death’s Energy Drain, and sucking their vitality dry to kill them was just a piece of cake to Shayna. But there was a reason for Loren to not ask her to do so.
It would be very strange if the spiders that were chasing them suddenly dropped dead, and Ritz’ group would surely question it. That was the problem. Ritz’ party probably wouldn’t suddenly a.s.sociate them with such a strange phenomenon, but Loren believed it was best to not raise unnecessary doubts.
Another reason was, those who were killed by the King of Death’s Energy Drain might become undead. Whether spiders could become undead or not was still a question, yet it would be creepy if they could.
[‘But they’ll be under my control in that case, won’t they? I think we won’t need to worry about that?’]
It would also be strange if the spiders just become undead all of a sudden. To make it worse, if they suddenly ceased attacking after becoming undead, everyone would notice that something had happened.
Loren sent Shayna a heartfelt thank you while watching the unmoving spiders, and she told him with a smile:
[‘What a ha.s.sle… But it’s fine as long as I can help you, onii-san.’]
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