As always, I sweated during physical labor, received an evaluation, and returned to the guild.
The verdict of 【B】was filled out on the form.
Perhaps because of the time of day, the second floor’s receptions were heavily crowded.
Even at Hawkins-san’s usually-vacant table, a line had formed. Looking closely, I couldn’t see the aunty who was previously processing work at an extraordinary pace.
At the desk, a clerk I hadn’t seen before was hurriedly doing work she didn’t seem used to.
I inclined my ears to the surrounding voices.
“Did you hear? It’s the third labyrinth.”
“If that’s true, it’ll be hell. The feudal lord’s troops were dispatched to clear a different one, right?”
“So that’s why the guild’s so busy. There’ve been quite a few lately.”
From what I gather from the adventurers around me, it looked like a new labyrinth manifested.
If they were left alone, labyrinths would continue to grow in size. They were nests that continued to spew out monsters.
Even though major problems wouldn’t arise from them spitting out a single, troublesome monster, if they were left alone for long enough, they would splurge up a large quantity, and the labyrinth itself would collapse.
There were also towns out there that existed solely due to the treasure obtained by defeating the monsters that managed the labyrinths.
But towns like that only have the know-how on how to manage them.
They cooperated with some organization like the guild and were made to exercise the greatest of caution.
Normally, though, labyrinths were subjugated the moment they were discovered.
If you cleared one, the guild and feudal lords paid out rewards, and your evaluation as an adventurer rises.
Adventurers that cleared labyrinths were the aspiration of children.
“They may just take applications and head straight to clearing it.”
“I’m curious about the treasure in the deepest parts of it.”
“I hope it doesn’t become a match of snatching and killing one another, though.”
While they talked about such ominous subjects, the adventurers were smiling.
But in truth, it wasn’t an uncommon story.
In the most inner room, there was a final guardian defending a treasure. They protected the item that could be considered the labyrinth’s core.
There was no doubt it was gold, or perhaps precious stones. There were cases where it was a rare metal as well.
But regardless of what it was, it contained the magic birthed by the labyrinth. A strange metal containing such magic… was a rare and expensive item.
They were precious ingredients to the production of Magic Items as well.
(If sold, it’s an instant path to luxury. Even in labyrinths that are easy to clear, if you sell the treasure, I heard you could do absolutely nothing but play around for two to three years.)
As I thought that, I heard the Second’s voice from the Jewel.
『In the past, they were places to train one’s self and experience 【Growth】, though. So they use groups to subjugate them these days…』
The Fifth popped up.
『When attempted individually, or in a party, the efficiency level was low. If played poorly, one would be defeated, surrounded, and used for the labyrinth’s growth. If you think about efficiency, it’s most secure to use a group, and take it out in one fell swoop.』
Hearing that, I wondered if that was really the case.
The thoughts on the presences called labyrinths were ones that changed by the times.
What I was taught… no, what I read in a book was that while labyrinths were able to give birth to valuable materials, they were also dangerous existences.
I never heard of the notion that they were places to train yourself.
『If the Fifth was still hunting monsters, then does that mean… the routine I left behind was still passed down?』
When the Second said that, the Fifth confirmed.
『So the Second decided it? Well, mobilizing people and going up against monsters proved to be a good experience.』
They both started into a talk about the difficulties of their first battles.
But what I was curious of was the 【Growth】 the two occasionally spoke of.
『The feeling varies by the person, but it’s a sort of, you know… the sensation of opening your eyes? The first time I experienced it was, as I thought, from when I started fighting monsters. When I experienced Growth, I often tried doing unreasonable things, and I often failed, though.』
It sounds like the Fifth had a similar experience.
『I’m pretty much the same. Well, it was around the time when I had just risen to being a viscount, so I was fighting criminals more often than monsters. But you can experience Growth against human opponents too…』
I get the feeling they’re talking about a definition apart from the growth I know of.
Is there something besides having your body become bigger or maturing mentally?
『Even at latest, you should have experienced it once or twice by your early teens. It feels quite different than usual. Seeing me, my family made a face like, ‘Ah, so he’s experiencing a growth…’ and it was quite irritating, you know.』
As the Second’s voice lowered, the Fifth laughed a little.
『It’s an intuitive thing. At minimum, a human experiences it at least twice in life, it seems.』
Hearing that, the Second was slightly shocked.
『It can be that low? At the very least, I felt it nine times. I get the feeling I wasn’t fighting every day, and the first was around when I was twelve, I guess.』
『That’s too high.』
I was listening to the ancestor’s conversations, but for some reason, I felt a little anxious.
(… Um, I haven’t experienced whatever it is you’re describing even once, though…)
As I thought that, I heard Hawkins-san’s delighted voice call out to us as always.
“Next in line, please. Oh, so it was Lyle-kun?”
“Y-yes, I’ll be in your care.”
We handed him the documents, and he happily processed them.
Perhaps being busier than usual was actually a joy to him.
Having finished lunch outside, Novem and I went to purchase equipment with the money we had on hand.
The reason it was mainly my equipment was because my sabres were ruined in my bandit fight.
In the weapon shop Zelphy-san introduced us to, we looked at sabres.
“There’s less selection than for the other items.”
As I said that, the shopkeeper told me there was no helping it.
The male dwarf shopkeeper had a large, reddened nose and a scraggly beard on top of his characteristic short build and muscular body.
“The sabre doesn’t have much popularity here in Dalien. It’s more or less popular with the nobles, but here, people go out fighting often and move their weapons around a lot. When it comes down to that, sturdier swords hold up better. Oh, but the knights say that spears and blunt weapons, or perhaps axes, are more effective, you know.”
Hearing his words and looking over the store, I definitely saw more of those sorts of weapons.
As I thought, it was natural for the preferred weapon selection to differ from place to place.
I had come to buy a sabre, but perhaps I should really change my weapon preferences.
“What place deals more in sabres? I don’t care if it’s not within the city.”
As Novem asked the shopkeeper, he put his hand to his chin and looked up.
“I think the capital Centralle has a selection, but… perhaps the store that have ones fit for actual battle are few to be found. I do have an acquaintance who set up shop there, but he’s specialized in armor.”
Excelling at handling metal, the dwarves often achieved success in fields like blacksmithing.
Naturally, even if you weren’t a dwarf, it wasn’t like there was anything preventing you from becoming a skilled smith.
“I can research and pin it down, but I think that looking it up for ourselves would be most to your benefit. If you’re going, I can even write you up a letter of recommendation.”
Being told by the storekeeper, I thought for a bit.
The sabres in the store were all crude, mass produced ones.
If I wanted the best, there would be no end to it. Since they were, at least, of better quality than the ones I had on me before, reserve included, I ended up buying two of them.
(I mean, I’ve come here using sabres all the way, and it’s alright for me to be a little obstinate in something like this.)
The first weapon I ever received was a sabre.
Both Father and Mother were happily waiting for the day where I held up my blade and fought as a man of the Walt House… there was a time like that as well.
“What are you going to do with your previous ones? They’re in quite a bad state, so if you want me to buy them, I can only pay you for the cost of the metal, though.”
I left the sabres I had wielded before to the dwarf and said that it didn’t matter as I accepted his money.
“Still, these are in a horrendous state.”
Looking at the sabres I used, he said as such, so I apologized.
I mean, even if they were mass produced, they still had a maker.
“No, I’m not saying you’re at fault or anything. It’s just that I haven’t seen a swordsman to use them like this anywhere around these parts… for better or worse, this is a town kind on beginners. I could count the amount of skilled ones on my hands. If they grow up, they immediately flow out to somewhere better.”
He handed out the change, so I accepted it.
I turned to Novem.
“Are you sure you don’t need a replacement, Novem?”
Hearing that, she smiled and shook her head.
“Mine’s still usable. I already bought a knife as well. Even for protective gear, any more than this has been deemed unnecessary for now by Zelphy-san.”
“I see… that’s right.”
And to combat a slime, I doubt wearing metal armor would do anything to change the pain.
A shield and spear of wood were more than enough to defeat them.
Accepting the sabres from the storekeeper, Novem and I left the store.
On the way back.
I suggested we go down a road with less pedestrian traffic.
“Hey… well… it’s about money, but I doubt this is enough to buy back your dowry… still, I want to return it to you.”
What I had on hand was around sixty gold coins.
It was the money left from the aid the lord gave us during our bandit subjugation.
Of course, after hiring people, getting food, and other expenses, it was mostly gone. What I have right now was mostly from liquidating the treasure the bandits had piled up.
When you thought of how our original funds were two hundred gold, we were clearly at a loss.
On my proposal, Novem, who was previously wondering what to cook for dinner, made a serious expression.
She shook her head and refused to accept the money.
“I am happy for your feelings, Lyle-sama. But that money is something that will be necessary to you from here on. I cannot accept it.’
“If there is no helping it… let’s see, it doesn’t really matter when you do it, so please return it once you’ve become a first rate adventurer, Lyle-sama.”
I was hesitant over how to answer her.
I mean, my will to actually succeed as an adventurer was relatively low.
“G-got it… someday, just like when you bought them, no… I’ll become able to buy things even more extravagant. It’s a promise.”
As I said that, Novem smiled a little.
“Then I’ll be waiting.”
Hearing that conversation, the First spoke.
『… What a good girl.』
Following that, the Second onwards also added in their comments, but I elected to ignore them.
『It makes Lyle’s hopelessness stand out.』
『And wait, isn’t Lyle on the winning side by the very fact he has Novem-chan.』
『She’s different than the women I knew.』
『You(The Fourth Generation) just pampered mama way too much. Because of that, I got around to calling her nothing but mama.』
『Lyle, you have to keep your verbal promises. If you break it, you’ll lose something valuable as a person.』
『The Forxuz House sure is succeeding in raising their kids. Despite that, the Walt house is…』
As I let the ancestors’ opinions slide, the house came into sight.
To ask what had been bothering me, I ended up using the Jewel’s conference room.
Novem and Aria had both fallen asleep, and as I laid down, as if my conscious was being sucked into the Jewel, I passed out.
A round table occupied the center of the room, and the room itself was similarly circular.
Behind the splendid chairs around it, the doors to the ancestors’ rooms were visible.
All over the place, crystals like the blue jewel were embedded around in varying sizes.
… That was the space we called our conference room.
The facilitator, the Fourth Generation, asked for the reason I had gathered everyone.
『We’ve opened a conference by our proposal, but it looks like you have a few things you want to ask. What do you want to start with?』
The glass-wearing Fourth Generation corrected the position of his spectacles with finger as he looked at me, and immediately ventured into the topic of discussion.
And so, I…
“No, well, there are a few of the finer details I was wondering about, but before that, there was one thing that caught my interest.”
Being told that by the Fourth, I remembered the conversation of the Second and Fifth as I asked.
“Well… it’s about 『Growth』, but…”
As I said that, faces full of curiosity were directed at me.
The First started talking as if to cut me off.
『Ah, right, Growths! Lyle, how many has it been for you? I mean, your Mana and your Stamina’s a bit questionable. The other parts of you barely get a passing mark, but physically… how should I put this?』
The First threw the conversation off to the Second, who was close by. The Second clicked his tongue before answering.
『Your basic physical specs are low. From what I see by your magical competency, and sword skills, you’re the type that lives solely by technique.』
I was being called a technical type, but I didn’t think of myself as such.
The Third continued on.
『I thought about it when you pulled out both sabres, but could it be that your Growth is one that specializes in skill? Look, like that type that only focuses on a single point. They aren’t rare.』
The Sixth nodded.
『Yep, they exist. People of that type increase their strength in their fields of expertise and become quite amazing, so if Lyle kept heading in that direction…』
The conversation started going towards what sort of type I was, so I raised my voice.
“Please listen to what I have to say! In the first place, what are Growths, anyway? Even if you call it a sensation, I can’t understand that. Is it really any different from bodily and psychological growth?”
Hearing that, everyone stared at me in mute amazement.
My grandfather, the Seventh, grabbed both of my shoulders and confirmed it.
『You’re fifteen, right? Your Skill has yet to mature, but it definitely manifested. So let me confirm this, but… up until now, you’ve never once experienced Growth? Like when you woke up, your intuition was different, or the sharpness of your movements was clearly better, or… try remembering! Like being reborn, that sort or peculiar sensation!』
Being told that, I did try to remember, but up until now, I’d never felt anything like being reborn anew.
The First also confirmed it with me.
『No, like… even when you’re just carrying out life like usual, that sort of… bang! That sort of feeling comes up, right? I mean, it felt like that for my third and fourth time.』
All of them had expressions as if they were observing something unbelievable.
But I never had such an experience.
The Seventh opened and closed his mouth.
The Fifth asked in a level-headed tone.
『Lyle, I heard that you were ignored at age ten and onwards, but to what level was that? You still received a proper scholarly education, right?』
I gave an honest answer.
“Yes. I made sure to read through all the books they gave me.”
Hearing my response, everyone in the area flew into a panic.
『Wait a gawd daaaamn second!!』
『Eh, what? … Lyle, you used magic like that!? And wait, you can even use magic!?』
『How exactly should I assess this!?』
『N-not happening… an education of just handing him books definitely ain’t happening…』
『We were naïve. Everyone here was. Lyle included. I guess this means we never got a proper grasp on the situation.』
『Until I could use magic at Lyle’s level, I went through at least two growths.』
『… If only my son was here to send flying a few times…』
As I looked around at everyone, I inferred that I was in quite a bad situation.
All ancestors concerned sat back down on their seats and asked for a more precise explanation of what I had been through up until now.
The Fourth took lead once more.
『Lyle, how about you tell us… just how did you live?』
I spoke of whatever I could remember.
From around the time I was ten, I was generally alone.
My meals were generally brought to my room.
I generally had no conversations, and the teacher only handed me books…
After I had spoken to that stage, I held both of my hands to my head.
“W-what? Wait, that’s supposed to be strange… isn’t it?”
『Quite. If you lived normally up until that point, it was something you should have noticed, though…』
As the Fifth began to think aloud, the First spoke.
『Is it the monster’s handiwork? Does a monster that can change the atmosphere and state of affairs of its surroundings mean it’s something like this? Still, isn’t it still strange for Lyle to have never undergone a Growth before? Even if you’re just living life normally, once or twice is…』
Once or twice.
Apparently, in the time I’d been alive, it was a normal amount.
The Fourth Generation sighed.
『Lyle… let me append my statement on you having low Mana. More importantly, you had some other things you wanted to know, right? Let’s get those out of the way first.』
Hearing the Fourth’s words, for now, I decided to talk.
The Second was wary as he watched me.
A sort of face, as if to say, ‘Is he going to be dropping a bomb again?’
『W-what is it this time.』
“Just what is it that I should aim for?”
All the expressions around me seemed relatively amazed.