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"Grey, here's another one." [Amelia]

 

"Oh, there's some here too." [Julius]

 

Voices echoed one after another with the sound of footsteps as people wandered around the dungeon hallways. All three of them were calm as an undisturbed lake as they counted the drops they've gathered in just a short amount of time.

 

It has been a few minutes since Yuna dashed her way through the dungeon and now, the three who were left behind were at the end of the 3rd floor, having gathered hundreds upon hundreds of things already as they chatted along the way.

 

"I gotta say... Your storage ring really is amazing, Grey... I mean, just how much space does it have? I'm sure we've already used more than what a Superior-Grade item would allow. Is it Legendary-Grade?" [Julius]

 

"Hmm... Let's just say it's something special. Yeah, let's leave it at that..." [Grey]

 

"Oi, what's with that answer?! Just tell us already!" [Julius]

 

Julius whining in the background, the item collection continued, and so, every single drop there is to be seen was stored in Grey's ring. It was now time to head down the stairs and take a look at the 4th floor.

 

As they went down the stairs, Julius continued pestering Grey to tell him what grade of storage ring he possessed, but all his efforts were to no avail. Grey just decided to ignore him, chatting with Amelia as if there wasn't another person with them. Such a scene continued as they spiraled down.

 

"Haah... Really, what a mess..." [Grey]

 

They haven't even stepped foot on the floor yet and what already greeted them was a massive pain in the ass. Hundreds of items lay down on the ground all the while as D-rank monsters roamed about freely at the entrance. If it wasn't a mess, then there's nothing else that can describe it.

 

"Haah... Just wait a little bit. I'll just clean up the trash." [Grey]

 

Said Grey as he stepped foot on the floor. The very moment he did, all the monsters' eyes were on him. They all charged without any regard for their lives, soughing only death and destruction for those who entered their domain.

 

Unfortunately for them, Grey wasn't just any normal intruderー no, rather, he couldn't be called normal as a person at all. Even amongst the standards of High-Rankers, both him and Yuna are in the realm of irregularities, achieving such a high rank at such a young age.

 

《Wind Cutter》 [Grey]

 

There wasn't a little bit of excitement to be felt in Grey's voice. As soon as he chanted his words, a blade of wind flew out of his palms and towards his enemies. In the very next moment, the area totally became silent as the dead. It was a graveyard.

 

The blade, without much effort, cut off everything in sight. Be it golems, ogres, and elemental monsters, they were all cut down and blasted without mercy. Not even the dungeon walls were spared from the brunt of the attack.

 

Soon, everything vanished into thin air, only leaving behind a number of drop items, varying from hides, horns, ores, and even equipment. Just by a rough total, the items could earn them dozens of thousands of kiels, maybe even reaching the hundreds.

 

"Haah... No matter how many times I see it, it's just plain ridiculous... Just how is someone like him our age?" [Julius]

 

"Fufufu, I don't think we'll ever get to find the answer to that question, Your Highness. They are Grey and Yuna, after all. Fufufu!" [Amelia]

 

"Yeah, you're right... Let's just leave it at that..." [Julius]

 

It wasn't even a real answer. Julius and Amelia just decided to not think too much about it, they won't get an answer out of it anyway. They just decided to leave it to a fact that they are who they are.

 

"Oi, Julius, stop whining and help me out already. The drops aren't going to collect themselves, you know? And Amelia, too." [Grey]

 

"Yeah, yeah, be there in a minute." [Julius]

 

"Yes, coming~!" [Amelia]

 

The item collection continued once more, and they were able to get a lot more items than they did in the previous floors. As they progressed, Grey also shot out a number of spells, defeating a lot of enemies in a single strike and dropping more items for them to collect. It was an endless cycle.

 

Ghieekkk Kuruuukkkk Blub Blub Blub

 

Countless noises echoed as they traversed the dungeon halls with such calm and composed demeanors, unfazed by the enemies' looks and numbers. The monsters charged yet again, raising their weapons and preparing their attacks simultaneously.

 

"How annoying... 《Windー Huh...?" [Grey]

 

There wasn't a blade of wind to be seen. Grey was about to destroy them mercilessly like usual, suddenly, something strange happened to the monsters charging towards them. Without fail, every single one of them suddenly froze in place.

 

Grey hasn't even casted any curse magic or anything of the sort, yet the monsters all froze on their tracks, looking like statues in a wax museum. Even when their positions were unstable, they still stopped. It was quite an interesting sight to behold.

 

Soon, the monsters in front of them turned into blobs of light before breaking into fragments and vanishing into thin air. They weren't defeated, they just suddenly vanished as if some sort of mechanism was in play.

 

"Huh? What's happening?" [Julius]

 

"Hm? Did you cast a spell, Grey?" [Amelia]

 

Both Julius and Amelia were confused by such a sight, looking left and right as they tried to observe the strange phenomenon. Meanwhile, Grey only smiled gently, fully knowing what just happened. He was the only one who did.

 

"Julius, Amelia, let's hurry up and collect the drops and mana crystals. We won't be here for too long." [Grey]

 

"Huh? What do you mean?" [Julius]

 

"Nothing much, it's just that Yuna has cleared the dungeon already." [Grey]

 

A smile appeared on Grey's face as he ended his statement, one full of pride and satisfaction. He may not be the one to clear the dungeon, but he was still happy that Yuna got to do it. That was already enough for him.

 

Meanwhile, just like the monsters from before, Julius and Amelia were now frozen in place, their mouths hanging wide open in agape and their eyes filled with shock as they tried to process what kind of insanity Grey had just dropped on them.

 

"Wait, what do you mean by cleared?! It hasn't even been 15 minutes, you know?! Not even a quarter of an hour!" [Julius]

 

"Th-That's right! Maybe you're mistaken, Grey. Maybe the dungeon is only 4 floors! A D-rank dungeon!" [Amelia]

 

"Yeah. No matter how strong Yuna is, it should still be impossible!" [Julius]

 

Both Julius and Amelia were in disbelief. Well, who wouldn't be? It wasn't that they didn't trust Yuna, Grey's words were just too absurd for them to believe in. Every other person would react in such a way.

 

After all, there isn't just one path in a dungeon, there are multiple. No matter how quick one is, they would still have to search around for the entrance. Such an act would warrant more time for people before they could clear the dungeon.

 

Unfortunately for Julius and Amelia, Such a logic doesn't apply to Yuna. Whenever she meets a dead end, she simply uses "Phaseless" and passes through walls. It saves her time as she doesn't need to travel the same long, winding paths anymore and just head straight back to the fork road.

 

Well, there was no need to reveal Yuna's abilities willy-nilly. Even if they're friends, hiding them would still prove more beneficial. Grey just decided to let them speculate as he continued collecting the monster drops by himself.

 

"Oh? Looks like time's up," [Grey]

 

And just as he finished collecting all the drops there was, the dungeon floor, the walls, and even the ceiling, everything started to grow dimly, getting brighter and brighter with the passing of time.

 

"Wh-What's happening?!" [Amelia]

 

"Oi, Grey! Why's the ground glowing?!" [Julius]

 

"Didn't I tell you? Yuna already cleared the dungeon. We're just simply being transported back to the entrance." [Grey]

 

Nonchalantly, Grey answered Julius and Amelia's worries. There wasn't even a speck of concern on his face. There was only a gentle smile as he hummed to himself, thinking of all the things they gained from such an unexpected find.

 

The light grew even brighter after several seconds had passed. Soon, a feeling of dizziness struck everyone as if their minds were being warped constantly. It wasn't anything harmful, just the side effect of being teleported the first time.

 

RUMBBLLLEEEEE

 

The ground started to shake and cracks started to appear in the walls. A few more seconds later, there was the gushing of water as the dungeon was flooded, returning to its original state. Even the dungeon's collapse looked so beautiful. Then, there was darkness.

 

Flutter Trickle Chirp Chirp

 

In the pitch black darkness, such calming sounds echoed in everyone's ears. The scent of water, trees, and flowers caressed their noses and the gentle sensation of the dancing wind touched their skin.

 

As they opened their eyes, a field of colors greeted them along with the shining, crystal-clear waters. The light from the sun welcomed them after a few days of staying inside the dungeon. Not only was it a beautiful sight, it was satisfying to the heart as well. It was perfectー or so it should have been.

 

But in such beautiful scenery, there was a certain silver-haired elf, squatting in the ground, running her finger along the ground as an atmosphere of depression and gloom surrounded her. The complete opposite of the scenery around her.

 

"Uh... Umm... Yuna...?" [Grey]

 

"Ah... Grey...." [Yuna]

 

When the moping young lady turned around, it was even worse. Her eyes were as lifeless as one can be as she looked at Grey. The excited Yuna from before was no more. All that was left was a sad and depressed young lady. Even her pointy elven ears looked down.

 

It was a sight one couldn't help but look at worry. Knowing Yuna, there was only one reason Grey could think of why she was acting that way. The three years he lived with her wasn't just for show.

 

"Umm... Julius, Amelia, why don't you two look around and relax for a little bit. We'll be joining you afterwards." [Grey]

 

"You sure?" [Julius]

 

"Yeah, I can take care of this myself." [Grey]

 

Prompted by Grey, Julius and Amelia left the two alone as they enjoyed their own time together. It has been some time since they were free and so, they made sure to enjoy everything to the fullest.

 

With him alone with Yuna, Grey then calmly sat beside her and poked at her cheeks without any apparent reason. Yet no matter how much he did so there wasn't much of a response from Yuna. She only looked at the waterfall with empty eyes.

 

"Yuna, what's wrong?" [Grey]

 

"The treasure chest..." [Yuna]

 

"Yeah, what about it?" [Grey]

 

"There wasn't a single potion ingredient in there..." [Yuna]

 

It was just like Grey had suspected. She had the same disappointed look when she also found out the same thing when they opened treasure chests in the Labyrinth. It was the look of someone who received the same coffee mug every year in christmas. Oh, the disappointment.

 

The only difference from then and now was that she was much more depressed. Since there were a lot of treasure chests in Labyrinths, she didn't mind it too much and just looked forward to the next treasure chest.

 

But in a dungeon where there was only one, all of her excitement was drained of her heart the moment she opened the chest. Not only was she not able to fight the boss monster, the rewards were also disappointing. Who wouldn't be disappointed?

 

"Alright, then how about this... All the materials we get in the Labyrinth of Flames, you can choose any and all materials you want. Is that alright with you?" [Grey]

 

"Really?! No takesy-backsies?" [Yuna]

 

The very moment Grey suggested those words, Yuna's eyes lit up with an unknown flame. Her passion was quickly moved as she thought of all the materials she could get her hands on. She was excitedー no, super excited!

 

"Yeah. And since I'll be training on the 10th floor, I'll also give you every material I find down there." [Grey]

 

"Waah~! Grey, I love you! I really, really love you!" [Yuna]

 

The usual Yuna was back, and now, her eyes were sparkling very brightly as she gave Grey her tightest and warmest embrace. Thankfully, Julius and Amelia weren't there. Well, it was actually because Grey knew what would happen that he sent them away. It wasn't the first time Yuna had done such things.

 

'Haah... Really... What a bothersome girlfriend I have...' [Grey]

 

Grey sighed deep inside his mind, but his face only showed a gentle and warm smile as he patted Yuna's head. No matter how troublesome and clingy she may be, she was still the girl he fell in love with and he doesn't regret doing so.

 

Julius and Amelia soon returned and now, it was the time to fulfill their promise. With the end of the dungeon, it was time to cook up a feast for everyone's efforts. It wasn't easy deciding what dishes to cook, but after days of debating, they finally got themselves a perfect course.

 

An open kitchen has once again appeared in the beautiful meadows. Along with it was a plethora of ingredients consisting meat, dairy, poultry, seafoods, vegetables, and fruit products. Of course, there were also a multitude of spices and seasonings. Everything was ready.

 

"Yuna, I'll leave the main dishes to you. I'll be making the side dishes and the desserts. Good luck." [Grey]

 

"Un! Leave it to me!" [Yuna]

 

Their spirits through the roof, the kitchen's symphony once again blended with the melody of nature. Like dancers on a stage, Grey and Yuna moved gracefully in the kitchen as they moved about, preparing dish after dish.

 

Even though they still haven't eaten, Julius and Amelia found their hearts full as they looked at the two's performance. Their eyes and hearts were both mesmerized by the grace of the two, performing like delicate pieces of art which could soothe the soul.

 

Glazed roast turkey, lobster thermidor, braised beef stew, special spicy curry, creamy carbonara, tuna salad, steamed fried rice, cheesy meat tarts, and a lot more dishes appeared one after another, all of which, a special dish which tastes like heaven,

 

Even though they have seen similar dishes in their own abodes, Julius and Amelia were still in awe. Not only did they show how they were prepared so beautifully, they also looked even more refined than anything they've ever had. Not even the meals in the royal banquet could compare.

 

"Oh, Grey, what are you making?" [Yuna]

 

"They're lava cakes. You've never had one, right?" [Grey]

 

"Of course I haven't, you haven't made one for me, after all... Grey, as I thought... you don't love me as much as I do, do you?" [Yuna]

 

"Hahaha. Where did that come from?" [Grey]

 

"I mean, you should be letting me have a taste of everything first, right? I'm your girlfriend, after all! It's only natural, right?" [Yuna]

 

Grey could only chuckle playfully at Yuna's silly speculations and conclusions. Well, who wouldn't? Even though she was saying those words, she was constantly moving about, looking at what Grey was doing with curious eyes, not even showing any signs of pouting. She was just trying to poke fun at him.

 

Yuna, wearing such excitement in her face, Grey continued moving his hands as he did the latter steps of the procedure. He was done greasing and preheating the ramekins, making the matter, and preparing the toppings. All that was left was to bake and everything would be done.

 

And it wasn't just a single flavor of lava cake. Not only was there chocolate, there was also cheese, white chocolate, raspberry, and salted caramel, a grand total of five delicious cakes were to be introduced to the world of Merusia's cuisine.

 

Click

 

The moment the cakes were placed inside the oven, all that there was left to do was wait for the cakes to bake at high temperature, making sure the sides are baked while the insides are still molten.

 

"Oh right, Yuna. How did the fight with the dungeon boss go?" [Grey]

 

The very moment Grey said those words, Yuna's body quickly flinched. She thought Grey had completely forgotten about it, but oh how wrong she was. Now, her face was sweating as she tried to find an excuse, something she isn't very good at.

 

It was then that Grey realized that something definitely went wrong. Yuna's reaction was so obvious, there wasn't a way he wouldn't notice. The only problem was that he doesn't know how she could have messed up. Only then did he realize that he had completely forgotten to teach Yuna one important thing.

 

"Yuna... Don't tell me, you... You just straight up blasted the boss room's doors, didn't you?" [Grey]

 

"N-No... I didn't do that..." [Yuna]

 

It was a lie. A total lie. Not only did her eyes immediately start swimming, her body also started to fidget around and her voice getting smaller. There was no need to ask more. Grey had already figured out what happened in the dungeon.

 

"Haah... What spell did you use?" [Grey]

 

"Umm... Winter Gale's Parade...?" [Yuna]

 

She was very honest. Now knowing she was busted, Yuna just simply said the truth with a depressed voice. Meanwhile, Grey could only feel pity for the dungeon boss, dying even before the fight started. A silent atmosphere was about them.

 

A sweet scent soon filled the air and it was time for the finale. Grey hastily headed to the oven and swift has movements, he quickly inverted the ramekins into the serving plates, putting ice cream and a variety of toppings on top of the kava cakes.

 

With a little drizzle of chocolate and their respective syrups, five beautiful and mouth-watering masterpieces were given life. A selection of lava cakes were served atop the dining table, completing the whole course. It was a feast.

 

"Amazing... It's like we're having our very own banquet." [Amelia]

 

"Oi, Grey, Yuna, are we really eating all of these?!" [Julius]

 

"Of coursen Do you think we just made all of these for decorations?" [Grey]

 

"Un! Food is meant to be eaten, after all!" [Yuna]

 

One after another, everyone took their seat under the shade of the trees. Surrounded by such beautiful flowers and the sound of the streaming river filling their ears, is there even a more picturesque scene? They were basically a painting.

 

""""Thank you for the meal!!""""

 

As their voices echoed towards the eternal blue sky, everyone dug their spoons and forks on the dishes before them with such joy and vigor painted on their faces, feeling the taste of heaven as soon as they took their first bites,

 

Ironically, the most unruly one within them was the prince himself. Despite being royalty, Julius looked like he was the one with the least table manners. Without any prying eyes around, he could finally let loose and enjoy the meal to the fullest. Well, I say most unruly, but he was still eating properly, just too energetically.

 

"Dammit! Why is this so good?!" [Julius]

 

"Hey, was that an insult or a compliment?" [Grey]

 

"It's a complement, of course. I'm just envious that you get to eat such delicious meals! Grey, Yuna, why don't you become royal chefs?" [Julius]

 

"Nah, no thanks." [Grey]

 

"Un. I'm also good." [Yuna]

 

There wasn't even a speck of hope for Julius. Grey and Yuna straight up rejected his invitation without a second thought. It wasn't the first time they've received such an offer and they don't think they'll be accepting any requests anytime soon.

 

Wallowing in regret and happiness at the same time, Julius continued enjoying his meal. The others also enjoyed theirs, chatting and laughing merrily until it was time for the desserts to be served.

 

There was pudding, parfaits, cold milk teas, smoothies, fruit salads, cakes, and a lot more. But the one which caught everyone's attention were the lava cakes Grey had just finished baking recently.

 

There was no caution in everyone's faces as they took a serving of their liking. Yuna took the white chocolate, Amelia the raspberry, Julius the chocolate, and Grey had the cheese one. The molten fillings flowed out as soon as they cut their cakes.

 

"Waah~! So delicious! As expected of Grey!" [Yuna]

 

"Mmn! How fruity! I can still taste the raspberries!" [Amelia]

 

"Haha, I'm glad you liked it." [Grey]

 

The flavors may have been different, but the feedback was one and the same, all positive as they savored their own servings with such happy faces. The only one who didn't say anything was Julous who was looking at his plate so intently.

 

Abrupt as one can be, Julius then placed his plate back on the dining table, standing up soon after. Not uttering a single word, he approached Grey, grabbed his shoulders tightly, and looked at with a certain color in his eyes.

 

"Grey, become the chef for my wedding!" [Julius]

 

"Eh?! Your Highness, what are you saying?!" [Amelia]

 

It was all so sudden. Not one of them expected such words to come out of Julius' mouth. Amelia was the most shocked of all of them. After all, it wouldn't just be Julius' wedding, it was their wedding he was talking about. Her red was now as red as the raspberry cake she was just eating.

 

"Please, Grey! I beg of you! I want you to cook for our wedding! That's the only way it will be the best wedding of all time! And Yuna, too!" [Julius]

 

"Oi, you bastard, stop clinging on me!" [Grey]

 

"Grey, I'm begging you! I'm willing to pay however much it would cost!" [Julius]

 

"Hey, Amelia, get this crazy fiancé of yours away from me!" [Grey]

 

Rowdy, chaotic, disorderly. There are many words which could be used to describe the scene unfolding in such a wonderful meadow. The scene which was very warm just recently has now descended to the deepest depths of pandemonium.

 

Julius was clinging onto Grey's arms, the latter pushing him away, Amelia blushing evers o intensely, and Yuna looking at the scene confused as one can be. In a way, it was amazing how such a scene unfolded. Just a bunch of friends doing their thing.

 

CHAPTER 175 END

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RealGris

Bio: I love writing.

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