SSS-Class Suicide Hunter – Chapter 158: The Great Snail Empire. (1)

The Great Snail Empire (1)

Chapter 158. < The Great Snail Empire. (1) >

Translator: Seven Editor: Yahiko PR: LightBrin

1.

Immediately after clearing the stage.

I was forcibly dragged to the 32nd floor where I found my fellow hunters together with [The Lady Who Walks Through the Mirage]. Seated among them, the Lady hugged a strange looking pillow.

“No. Is that…?”

Upon closer inspection, I realized that it wasn’t a pillow but a snail plushie.

I couldn’t believe it.

Since there was a snail plushie, I wondered if there were goblin plushies as well….

“I have a goblin plushie too.”

“Huh?”

“Here.”

The Lady pulled a goblin plushie seemingly out of nowhere. The plushie had long ears, a fat nose, and prominent cheekbones.

“Uh, where did you get this…?”

“I made it.”

“Can you show it to….”

Just as I was about to make a completely legitimate request as the Goblin God, someone interrupted me.

“What are you doing?”

The Black Dragon Master looked at me with an exasperated expression.

“If you have the time to mess around with the constellation, then we should move on to the next stage. It took us 24 days just to clear the 31st floor… No, is it my sense of time that has become weird? After all, it took years to clear the 10th floor. Maybe…”

“Can you really say that while holding that in your hands…”

“Th-, this is just for research.”

The Black Dragon Master quickly hid the miniature bat plushie behind her back.

The Count and the Crusader also fiddled with an elf and a mermaid plushie respectively.

“I’m just inspecting this item. Isn’t it rare to find something that was made directly by a Constellation?”

“The item description is pretty interesting.”

These humans…

“Death King, here.”

“Ah. Thank you.”

I took the goblin plushie and held it tightly in my arms as I glanced around.

We were in a completely white space. It was as though it was white drawing paper that stretched endlessly. And we were standing in the center of it.

Mm

“…Is this the 32nd floor?”

I asked this even though I didn’t think it was. And as I expected, the Lady shook her head while she hugged the snail plushie.

“It would be better to think of this place as a waiting room of sorts. In order to initiate the 32nd floor, all of you must first declare ‘stage clear.’ Ah. In the case of Venomous Snake, he has already been waiting here for 15 days.”

“I thought I would die of boredom!”

The Venomous Snake, who was sitting on the ground, grimaced.

“Why did you all take so long? I took care of my little guys and then left as quickly as I could. I couldn’t even watch what you guys were doing, so I had to meditate all day.”

“With the sprite plushie.”

“It helps with meditation. I used the most practical and pragmatic strategy I could think of, but what about you guys? I didn’t expect you to be so immersed in it. It’s like…”

“No. You were too insensitive.”

The Crusader sighed.

“The Lady said it when we first entered the 31st floor. [From the 31st to the 40th floor, it will be a race war]. In other words, there was always the possibility that the 31st to 40th floors would be connected. We might have to continue ruling over the races we picked on the 31st floor.”

“Huh?”

“If it’s just clearing the 31st floor, then you’d be right, Chen Mu-Mun Guild Leader. But if we have to rule all the way up to the 40th floor, it’s an entirely different story altogether. Even if we are absent, we would still have to prepare for their development in advance.”

The Venomous Snake paled slightly.

“W-, wait. Where did you hear that?”

“It’s obvious to anyone who paid attention.”

The Crusader sighed heavily.

“Just think about it, Liao Fan. You have a tendency to not pay attention to things not related to martial arts…”

“Se-, seriously? Is that why you all stayed on the 31st floor for that long?”

The Venomous Snake looked around with desperate eyes, hoping that someone would deny it.

Unfortunately, there were no hunters there who would care about his wishes.

“Don’t worry about it, Venomous Snake.”

Trying to comfort him, I patted his shoulder and smiled kindly.

“De-, Death King… is it true? The Crusader must have made a mistake, right? I can’t be the only one who didn’t realize…?”

“Even if your tribe is destroyed, we’ll still have six left.”

“Dammit!”

The Venomous Snake buried his face in his hands.

The Lady had a playful smile as she watched our little play.

“You don’t have to worry too much. All seven tribes will survive until the next era… In other words, they will all reach the 32nd floor. Thanks to all of your hard work, the prehistoric era ended quite quickly. And now, it’ll be the ancient era.”

Ancient.

From the 31st to the 32nd floors, there was a gap in eras.

‘At least a thousand years will have passed.’

Thousands of years. I was a bit worried about the goblins, but I was glad that the Lady announced that they were still alive.

But the Lady then made a completely unexpected remark.

“Now then! Since everyone is here, I’ll open up the next stage.”

The snail plushie the Lady was holding rose into the air, and she crawled onto it. Then, like a cavalryman on horseback, she raised her arm and let out a cry.

“The setting of the 32nd floor is 200 years after the 31st floor’s!”

“……”

My companions all stared at her silently. My reaction was no different.

“Huh?”

The Lady had just said 200 years, not 2000.

In other words, this meant that the prehistoric era ended in 200 years and the ancient era began after.

“Two hundred years? My Lady, did you perhaps mean two thousand years?”

I had a puzzled expression on my face. It was unbelievable.

In the past, even when the Flame Emperor used all of the points to raise the elves, the gap between the 31st and 32nd floors was more than a thousand years. And even if my memory was inaccurate, it wouldn’t have been less than 500 years.

But 200 years?

Did we really raise those kids that well?

“You heard correctly.”

The Lady smiled gently.

“I was also surprised. I knew you would be fast, but I didn’t think it would be this fast. No. In this case, I suppose I should say it was [slow], not [fast]… Huh. It seems that sometimes, taking the long way can also be considered a shortcut.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ll find out when you get to the 32nd floor. Hehe.”

The Lady placed the goblin plushie on the white ground. Then, she spread her arms wide. (TL: Didn’t she give the goblin to Gongja?)

“ I’ll now open up the second floor!”

“Wait a minute.”

The Black Dragon Master spoke up. She was also shocked by the fact that only 200 years had passed.

“Not all of us have arrived yet. The Heretic Questioner isn’t here.”

The Black Dragon Master was right. There were only six of us in the ‘waiting room’ at the moment. One of our group members, the Heretic Questioner, hadn’t shown up yet.

“We’ll only be able to go to the 32nd floor after he declares clear…”

“Ah. You don’t have to worry about that. It’s fine.”

The Lady waved her hand nonchalantly.

“Like I said before, [everyone who should be here is here]. If it’s the 4th-ranked, Heretic Questioner you’re worried about, he was the first one to reach the 32nd floor and is waiting for you.”

“…What?”

“Like I said.”

The Lady smiled brightly.

“You’ll find out when you get there.”

Paaaht!

A bright light enveloped us.

2.

When we opened our eyes, we found ourselves floating in the air. The world unfolded beneath our feet.

Last time, what we saw was a large forest. This time, however, it was different. There was no forest, no streams, and no sunlight shining through the leaves.

There wasn’t even a sky.

“Oh, my God.”

The Black Dragon Master muttered in shock.

“What is this place…?!”

The world beneath our feet.

The scene that the Black Dragon Master referred to as ‘this place’ was an ‘underground city.’ A city that we’d never heard of or seen before.

-It’s hard because the way home is so far, rime.

A shrill but easily understood voice suddenly echoed.

-I heard there’s a new tavern near the great cavity…

-I wish I could postpone my compulsory service this year, rime.

Small beings crawled through the city. That’s right. They didn’t walk; they crawled.

They were snails.

These translucent creatures slithered about. With large snail shells on their backs.

“What the hell…?”

This underground city. No, this underground world was very different from the cities we were used to. This was natural. After all, when the snails reached the end of the roads they were crawling on, they could simply began to clamber up the walls.

-Don’t crawl up the walls randomly, rime!

-Don’t be ridiculous. Every wall is a good road for us to use, rime. God decides where we have to go, but I can decide how I get there, rime.

The snails moved freely and comfortably from left to right, top to bottom.

It was an enormous underground world.

There were numerous large buildings that seemed to be over 20 stories high, but none of them seemed to have stairs. The snails simply climbed up the walls and slipped into the windows.

-Monthly rent has gone up too much these past few days, rime…

-It’s a pity, but I think I’ll have to stay in my ‘old shell’ this winter…

There were even some without shells.

These shell-less snails huddled together in small caves where they nested. They also transported bright blue gems back and forth. Whenever a snail swallowed these gems, their translucent body glowed blue. It was as though their bodies had actually become blue.

-Rime… I endured a lot for this bite today, rime…

-From how bright they are, it seems that those bastards saved us some good stuff this time, rime.

-We got lucky. Nowadays, traders have no ethics or morals. How can they even play tricks with stone cigarettes? That’s not something normal people would do. Rime.

-Let me have a taste too…

It didn’t end there.

-Quickly move the cargo, rime!

A snail swung its tentacle. Pak! And a fleshy sound rang out. The being that was hit with the tentacle groaned as it put heavy stones onto a wagon.

The Noble Race.

The beings who Venomous Snake ruled over.

-Seriously, the Noble Race is so lazy! Rime!

The snail, who seemed to be a supervisor, grumbled.

-Even though we paid so much for them, the second we take our eyes off them, they try to do something. We saved them, fed them, clothed them, and let them sleep. I don’t know why they’re still so ungrateful.

-Right. It’s only because slaves can climb a bit better and are strong. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be anything good about this shell-less race.

-Hey, slave. Say ‘rime’ once, rime. If you can pronounce it properly, I’ll let you go.

The snails were much smaller than the Noble Race. The Noble Race had bodies the size of orcs with a single horn in the middle of their foreheads. Nevertheless, they seemed afraid of these snails who only reached their waists.(1)

-Ri-, Rimi.

-See that?! The slave can’t even say ‘rime’ properly, rime! They are of such low birth that they can’t even say the sacred word. Useless things. Just move the stones!

-Woo.

Oh, my God.

Had the snails enslaved the sprites?

“No… What the hell… is this…”

Venomous Snake’s mouth fell open.

All of a sudden, his race had become slaves.

“T-, this doesn’t make any sense. I- I did what I could before I left the 31st floor! I taught them how to make swords and spears, and I taught them how to fight… So what is this? Why did my race become slaves?!”

“Ara.”

It was at this moment that we heard a familiar voice..

“I can finally see the faces I missed!”

It was the Heretic Questioner.

“Ahaha. So it finally recognized that we entered a new era. Hmm. It’s slow when it wants to be slow and fast when it wants to be fast. No. If I were to look at it from an objective standpoint, I suppose it recognized it quite quickly!”

The Heretic Questioner was the same as usual. He was wearing the same black priestly robes and had the usual smile on his face. That’s why Venomous Snake didn’t feel anything strange when he rushed to the Heretic Questioner.

“Hey! You psychopath bastard!”

“Ah, yeah?”

“How did this happen? Why did my race become your race’s slaves?!”

The Venomous Snake grabbed the Heretic Questioner’s collar and shook it violently. Nevertheless, the Heretic Questioner’s smile remained the same despite the shaking.

“I’ll do my best to explain it briefly! The current snail civilization I created needed a large workforce. Slavery is a pretty useful system for the provision of a labor force. It just so happened that the Noble Race invaded 112 years ago, and the snails defeated and captured them!”

“Wh-, what are you…?”

“Ah. Not to worry. They were hard to tame because they are such a proud race, and while it’s still hard, we have at least managed to lower their spirits to some extent. Maybe in another three generations, we will be able to change the nature of the race.”

“……”

The Venomous Snake’s mouth fell open. It seemed that he was unable to keep up with what the Heretic Questioner was saying. On the other hand, the other hunters, who were beginning to have an idea of what was going on, stared at each other in silence.

“…Mr. Heretic Questioner.”

I opened my mouth, deciding to take the lead.

“There’s something I’d like to ask you.”

“Ahh, Death King! Yes! You can ask me anything.”

The Heretic Questioner smiled. If he had a tail, it probably would have started wagging at that moment. His smile was just as bright as always.

“We all went to the waiting room after clearing the 31st floor, but you didn’t go there. The Lady also said that you were the first person to enter the 32nd floor… What does that mean?”

“Mm? Ah. I see. Haha.”

The Heretic Questioner tilted his head back and forth a few times before nodding.

“Strictly speaking, that expression isn’t exactly correct. I didn’t arrive on the 32nd floor first. Instead, I never left the 31st floor!”

“……”

Silence.

“…Huh?”

“It’s just as I said, Death King! I know that you all declared stage clears one by one. The Tower told me. However, I had a thought! If the 31st floor is connected to the next floor, was it necessary to declare a stage clear?”

“……”

“I know a bit about how human history developed. And I believed that this knowledge would certainly be of great help to my snail civilization’s development. Therefore, I told the Tower that I wouldn’t declare a stage clear.”

“Then…”

“Yes! I stayed with the Snail Race and continued to take care of them!”

The Heretic Questioner smiled.

“Welcome back, everyone! Aha. It’s been 200 years, 6 months, and 21 days since we met! It’s nice to see you all after such a long time!”

This psycho.

~~~


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