I think I’ll changing the utterances of dungeon to labyrinth. The word used is 迷宮 Meikyuu, which means labyrinth or maze, but it is used in a similar fashion to the term dungeon you would find in a game. As Labyrinth is a more direct translation, I’ll be using it for accuracy’s sake.
Humans and Demons are Accepted Equally
Having arrived at the designated spot indicated by the request, we dismounted the cart, and looked around the area.
In Dalien’s remote regions, most areas turned into dense forests.
Apparently, someone tried to raise a village here and there in the past, but because of monster attacks, these plans ended in failure.
Mysteriously, it was impossible to burn down the monster infested woods.
If you tried cutting them down, more vegetation would immediately grow to replace it.
For that reason, the speed of the forest’s spread was also something amazing.
A large amount of researchers speculate that the reason for this lay with the monsters.
When monsters built up homes, their magic was sucked into the trees, and this led to rapid growth…
From those managing it, it truly was a troublesome phenomenon.
But the opinions of the First and Second Generation were different.
According to the First…
『If you made a village here, you’d be able to sell all the lumber you could dream of!』
The Second also…
『You could make a killing off the deforestation business. What a waste… back in my day, I lived after a certain someone had already cut down the monster-infested forest, so I wasn’t able to do that.』
The views of a truly powerful generation.
The troublesome expanding forest problem was resolved within a single lifetime. Well, because of that, the Second lamented his loss of a source of income.
Unloading our luggage, we ended up going out on a survey of the area.
We left managing our baggage to the single coachman, and we divided into our party of four and Rondo-san’s of three to rotate between protecting our belongings and scouting.
Zelphy-san issued orders to us.
“You don’t know what sort of monster you’ll find. No matter what happens, run, and head to the location I told you of before. Also, there are also some survivors, make sure you can issue treatment and food rations at a moment’s notice.”
Perhaps the coachman was used to this sort of thing, as he readily nodded.
Capable people to support parties like these weren’t too popular of an occupational choice, but they were essential positions.
Usually, a party of six would have at least one of those sorts.
It was desirable to have two, if possible.
If you took on mercenary work, then supporters… logistic support, increased in numbers.
It was said that rather than the mercenaries fighting on the front lines, the ones providing support in the back were more numerous.
“Should we also get a supporter on us?”
As Rondo-san said that, Rahu-san shook his head.
“You’re hiring a supporter for a party of three? Our profits’ll drop. At least get four or five of us before you get one for the party, right?”
Zelphy-san offered the two a warning.
“Don’t lose focus. First, confirm the surroundings. Make sure you frequently rotate your lookout. If an unforeseen event happens, then think and act for yourselves. Got it?”
If you couldn’t protect your own life, it was unthinkable to be able to save another’s.
I got the feeling Zelphy-san said something like that at the beginning.
I turned to Novem and Aria.
“Are either of you tired?”
Novem shook her head, but Aria’s face looked pale.
Perhaps she was worn out from the swaying of the cart.
The Second gave me some advice.
『Have Aria rest. She’ll probably hate it, but persuade her to take up lookout after resting a while. If you just randomly throw something out like ‘if you don’t rest now, there won’t be a second chance,’ she’ll likely consent』
So eager that she was making a pointless effort. That was the current Aria.
After gripping the Jewel once, I tried persuading Aria.
But before that, the Third threw out his opinion.
『Oh, make sure you seek the leader’s orders first. Lyle, right now, Zelphy-san’s acting as this party’s leader.』
He has a point.
I looked at Zelphy-san. She was sending a worried glance at Aria.
(If you were that worried, then you should have taken custody of her yourself.)
I offered a suggestion.
“Zelphy-san, can we put Aria on break? At this rate, it will be a long time before we’ll be able to rest.”
Aria raised an unsatisfied voice and drew closer to me, but Novem raised her staff to stop her.
“The one who will decide is Zelphy-san.”
To a vexed Aria, Zelphy-san spoke.
“It’s true that if you don’t get in some rest now, rotating the watch shift will be hard, I guess… Aria, go take a break. Don’t think I’m giving you the easy way out here. When the time comes, I’m putting you on lookout. Until then, make sure you rest up so you can carry out your job properly.”
The look in Zelphy-san’s eyes seemed to say that objections were not permitted.
Aria reluctantly consented.
(She surely thinks she was removed from the party because of her ineptitude.)
The cold was cold to her.
『At times like these, consoling her has no meaning. She arbitrarily locked herself into a mindset she built up for herself. Truly troublesome.』
On that opinion, the First shot back with a weaker attitude than usual.
『She’s still young, so there’s no helping it! Consider the long term here!』
The First was frankly in favor of the girl, but if I had my say in it…
(… I’m a year younger than Aria, you know…)
There were some things I was dissatisfied with.
For an adventurer to fight monsters, the place with the highest efficiency was generally the forest.
Even if they go to the forest, it wasn’t like they really enter it. They stay in wait somewhere around the entrance.
They prepared someone like me to lure them out and fought them as a group when they emerged.
They kept themselves fighting on unobstructed land and ambushed monsters that were lured out. Quite an efficient style of battle.
But as long as the bait wasn’t proficient, then they may end up with casualties.
After heading to the forest, we started to search for the footsteps of the missing adventurers.
Nearby, there were traces that a cart had paid the area a visit recently.
There were the traces of a campfire, and we discovered an abandoned cart missing only its horses.
I used Skills to confirm the surrounding situation.
(… There aren’t any monsters, or anyone else at that matter.)
As I confirmed the insides of the carriage from afar, I found traces that it was broken into.
“There don’t seem to be any monsters.”
Zelphy-san took a hard look at my face.
“What is it?”
“No, I was just thinking about possibilities here, but could it be that you possess a Skill? Support Class at that?”
During the bandit subjugation, I acted separately from her.
This was the first time I showed her my use of a Skill. What was more, I never declared I could do anything like that.
According to the Second:
『You’re making it quite blatantly obvious. Well, it’s not like you’ll be hurt or anything if it gets out. Just affirm it here. Oh, make sure you make its effect out to be vague.』
Hearing that, I nodded.
“Yep, it sure is a Support Class Skill. It’s quite convenient.”
I wondered what was on Novem’s mind when she heard that, but when I turned my eyes to her, she was remaining vigilant of the surroundings.
Zelphy-san simply whispered something like, ‘That so?’
“Anyways, on to the cart investigations. And wait, there are traces of blood on the ground.”
The three of us approached it, and there, a bloodstain remained.
“Could it be bandits? They were raided here or something?”
Zelphy approached and squatted down, before shaking her head.
“No, there really is nothing in this area. There’s an especially high density of monsters here, so settling here would be hard. Some time has passed since the blood was spilled, so I can’t really say anything about it, but… it looks like the horses were attacked here.”
There were bones lying around nearby.
The report from the guild said only the adviser had perished.
There was no saying no one died while we were on the way here, but perhaps they fled.
Zelphy-san simply looked around the area.
“There’s no traces of a fight. What’s more, the inside of the cart… has been laid to waste quite terribly.”
Something had happened, and the barrels and wooden crates had been smashed. The contents were taken away.
Since they didn’t use a pick or pry and had to destroy them to this extent, the possibility of it being by human hands was low.
What was more, the monster materials were left alone.
If it were bandits, they would take and sell them off somewhere.
Rather than killing the horses, taking possession of them was more convenient, and they’d probably actually take the cart in its entirety.
“If it wasn’t infighting, then monsters seem to be the greatest possibility.”
We circled around to see if anything was left behind.
But we didn’t find anything.
“It seems they stayed put around here and repeated battles by approaching the forest. But if that’s the case, then rather than there having been a battle here, it looks like only the cart was assaulted.”
With her experience as the base, Zelphy-san assessed the scene.
But all of that was but a prediction.
We couldn’t deny the possibility of bandits being remarkably stupid.
Novem confirmed our plans hereafter.
“What are we going to do now? Should we return, or perhaps set foot into the forest?”
Zelphy-san thought for a little and checked the height of the sun.
“Let’s go check out the area close to the forest. And return to camp.”
To observe the forest from afar, we left the area.
But in the end, even if observed from here, there were no changes in the forest.
Zelphy-san apparently had come here in the past to hunt often, but according to her, nothing had really changed.
Just that it had expanded a little more than before.
I used a Skill to check its contents, and I sensed something dreadful.
『Lyle, tell them quickly… a labrinth has manifested.』
I returned to the camp site, finished eating, and rested until my shift for watch was to come around.
Around me, Rondo-san and Rachel-san were lying asleep.
Generally, you didn’t hear of too much of a separation of genders among adventurers.
And wait, there weren’t too many parties out there who could prepare two separate tents to facilitate that.
If they had money, perhaps they would do something like that, but beginners and poor adventurers slept in the same tent regardless of male and female.
(It’s my first time camping.)
Up until now, I had never ventured that far out to fight monsters.
Of course, that was probably because I was still thought of as lacking in the necessary abilities.
There, I heard the First’s voice.
『Lyle, stay how you are, and listen. The ones sleeping beside you are adventurers. If you let out a sound, they’ll likely wake up.』
The Third offered an explanation to me on the current situation.
『It’s not strange for a labyrinth to manifest in a forest. More so, that’s the standard. Forests and caves, and also abandoned mansions and forts, they store up mana and become labyrinths.』
In this case, the cause was probably that the entrance to the forest had become a labyrinth.
Using my Skills to peek further in, I was able to confirm passageway-like formations.
Perhaps because not too much time had passed since its birth, the labyrinth wasn’t all too deep.
At a relatively close point, a treasure-filled place labelled 『Deepest Chamber』 appeared.
It was the biggest room, so my ancestors told me there was no doubt about it.
Zelphy-san seemed to be of the same opinion, and she was under the opinion that some trouble emerged after they had accidentally drifted into the labyrinth.
『My Skill has no meaning if you’re not close enough. With your current level, Lyle, from the outside of the labyrinth, you probably won’t be able to distinguish friend from foe.』
I did check it from the outside, but I could only get a vague understanding of the insides.
It was as if a haze had been cast over it, and I couldn’t get a clear grasp of it.
The Fifth also…
『My Skill’s the same. From outside, that’s the limit. Of course, for you, that is. Now it’s about our opinion on the matter.』
In the end, the Fourth came forth as usual.
『According to the First, there’s no doubt there’s something ‘bad’ in there, it seems. Also, great enough to defeat a veteran adventurer… We’re fine it if you want to enter, but I don’t recommend you go all the way to the Deepest Chamber.』
Hearing that, I grasped the Jewel.
Thinking the labyrinth was clearly suspicious, we left the guard of the cart to Rahu-san.
We ended up with a party of me, Zelphy-san, Novem, Aria, Rondo-san, and Rachel-san to enter the labyrinth.
If we were left on guard duty, we wouldn’t be able to rescue the adventurers who had become immobilized by something within.
What was more, there was an absolute necessity to take Novem, who specialized in healing.
In cases where we were immobilized by injury, we could count on her.
As a result, the skilled Rahu-san ended up house-sitting.
He seemed reluctant, but there wasn’t another way. If we didn’t return in the set time, Zelphy-san forced the idea onto him to return to Dalien immediately.
When we set foot into the labyrinth, it was different from a normal forest.
With passages made of lined up trees, it really became a maze.
The unnaturally lined up trunks, and the breadth of the walkway…
More than anything, the air felt heavy, and it became harder to breath. We could still breath normally, but it was stressful.
Rondo-san looked at me and tapped my shoulder.
“Get your breathing in order. If you take in that much air, you’ll wear yourself out. This is my second time in one, but you get used to it soon enough. Don’t worry.”
I nodded and steadied myself.
And I used my Skills.
I used the First’s, Fifth’s, and Sixth’s simultaneously.
My raised power from Full Over let me forcibly make use of the other two.
By doing that, I was able to get a clearer picture than when I tried it outside.
As a detailed map of the labyrinth floated up in my mind, I tried to perceive where monsters were waiting and where the adventurers were.
(I’m starting to think this, but combining the Fifth and Sixth’s Skills is almost a cowardly move.)
The staff-wielding Rachel-san chanted a spell
And the surroundings became brighter.
“Sorry, but if I’m doing it alone, I’ll need a rest in about two hours. Novem-chan, can I ask you to rotate with me along the way? It can just be for ten minutes.”
The two magicians confirmed how they would be lighting the area.
Novem had a need to perform healing, but if Rachel-san didn’t get some rest in, her Mana wouldn’t last.
I told Zelphy-san.
“Go straight here and turn left before the dead end.”
Hearing that, she put her hand to her chin.
“Is that also the power of Skills?”
I answered with confidence, so she nodded and proceeded forward.
“Rondo will take the front with me. Lyle, you give orders from the very back. Also, the two mages are to protect Lyle.”
It looks like I won’t be fighting on the front lines.
Hearing that, the Second seemed to accept it.
『It’s because using Skills drains Mana. She probably plans on conserving your energy. And wait, here, you’re giving orders to people you’re used to, so there shouldn’t be a problem. Lyle, make sure you use the Skills periodically to keep a good idea of your surroundings. We’ll keep ourselves as quiet as we can.』
In that case, the ancestors will probably only speak up if the situation turns drastic.
Like that, I gave directions and made sure to avoid areas where monsters were loitering.
The fact that we could sense their positions put us at quite an advantage.
And we proceeded deeper, aiming for the room the adventurers were in.
(The fact that I’m getting a response from them means they’re still alive, it seems.)
We avoided attacks from behind and kept ourselves on favorable conditions whenever went into a fight.
And what I noticed in all that was the skill level of Zelphy-san and Rondo-san.
Zelphy-san used magic as she fought, bashed with her shield, and stabbed with her sword. She even sent enemies flying with magic, quite a versatile fighting style.
“Fly away! 【Fire Shot】!”
She pushed back with her Shield, and from there, small orbs of fire were fired off simultaneously.
The output of each shot was small, but it seems they weren’t to damage a point, but to damage the whole.
(Is it a strengthened form of Fire Bullet? If it’s an original, it may even be a Skill.)
Within Rearguard Skills, there were some that acted as magic.
I heard the mana consumption and output were different, but I never thought Zelphy-san would be able to use something like that.
“Amazing, Zelphy-san. Is that an original magic?”
Zelphy-san answered, a little embarrassed.
“I just casted what came to my head. It’s just a Fire Bullet with a little change in shape. Terrible, right? But it’s quite user friendly.”
It seems it wasn’t a Skill.
“So you can use magic. You acted like it was something beyond you before.”
As I said that, she sheathed her sword.
“All I can use is that one back there and Fire Bullet. Even if that’s all I can do, it’s embarrassing to say that I can use magic.”
So if you could only use one or two spells, could you not name yourself as a magician?
Aria looked surprised.
“Could you use it back at the mansion? Then even a governmental position would be…”
Zelphy gave a bitter smile.
“It was after I became an adventurer. More importantly, I can’t recommend loiterin’ in a place like this for too long. That goes for people’s pasts as well.”
Similarily, he was also amazing.
He only had a sword on him, but his sword skills were quite something.
Aria was looking at his blade.
“Is that a Magic Tool?”
Hearing that, Rondo-san nodded. After battle, he remained vigilant of his surroundings and got his breath in order. We were taking a slight rest.
We also had conversations like these.
Though in exchange, Novem or I had to keep watch. Right now, Novem was lighting the area in Rachel-san’s place.
“It’s an heirloom and my partner. It has three Skills in it, so even if I’m the one holding it, this is what you get. However, don’t be spreading this information around outside.”
Rondo-san said that as he winked in Aria’s direction, before he received a prompt staff to the shin from Rachel-san.
“Don’t flirt right in front of your girlfriend. Look, your break’s over. Novem, let’s rotate. Thanks for all this.”
Rachel-san glared at the swordsman before thanking Novem for letting her rest with a smile.
Novem also had a wry smile on her face.
Zelphy-san posed a question.
“Now then, about how much further?”
I confirmed the locations of the room.
If we defeated the troublesome monsters on the way there, it looked like we would be able to avoid any battles when we were making our escape.
In the deepest chamber, a large presence remained immobile.
And it seemed to be guarding whatever treasure laid in the room.
“If we turn there, we should already be at our destination.”
I pointed to the entranceway we could see from the passage, as I confirmed that five presences were indeed beyond it.
“Okay, let’s go.”
Zelphy-san hurried off towards it.
Having reached the room, we checked the five that had collapsed there.
They were all covered in blood, but they still had breath.
However, they looked to be in quite a weakened state.
“They’re alive! They’re still alive!”
Rachel-san raised a delighted voice, as she immediately ran over to them with the light.
Of the five, a single one of them noticed our approach and opened his eyes.
“Oy, what happened?”
Rondo-san ran over, took out his water flask, and slowly let the man who opened his eyes drink from it.
I also approached them and assessed their injuries.
“It’s mainly blunt force trauma. There are some broken bones.”
As I said that, Novem began her healing magic.
While their wounds would heal, it didn’t seem that the weakened five would rise.
After he calmed down from the water, the beaten down adventurer opened his mouth.
“B-because of us, our adviser was…”
Hearing that, Zelphy-san came closer. She appeared to be making sure she didn’t let any information slip by.
“We were able to handle the monsters around here, and… when we said we wanted to go further in, he refused. We wanted to become first class as soon as possible, so…”
Looking over the crying man, Zelphy-san clicked her tongue.
“That idiot… oy, what sort of enemy was it?”
She made a regretful face as she asked for the particulars on the culprit.
“An orc. It was emerald… It had a large cudgel on it.”
While it sounded a little hard for a beginner, it wasn’t an enemy that couldn’t be beaten with the right numbers.
For the boss of a small labyrinth like this, it was surprisingly standard.
But Zelphy-san didn’t seem satisfied with that answer.
“You’re telling me that bastard was done in by a nothing but a Orc!? You guys wanted the treasure to yourself so you…”
“Y-you’re wrong. It was just an orc, but we couldn’t even lay a hand on it… by the time he came to save us, we were already worn out… and he told us to run ahead.”
The adventure shed tears as he spoke, but those tears were few.
It seems he was trying his hardest to hold onto his consciousness.
Novem informed Zelphy-san that the treatment had finished.
“Everyone has been treated. But I’m not sure about their stamina.”
Zelphy-san stood and ordered us to shoulder them. But we noticed a change in our surroundings.
“Do you not hear something? I also feel some vibrations.”
Rondo-san pulled his sword.
“… It seems that it’s noticed us.”
I also heard a loud voice from the First within the Jewel.
『Lyle! Check your surroundings immediately! Also… a big one’s coming.』
I hurriedly activated the Skills and opened my eyes wide.
Novem noticed my attitude and called out. At the same time, perhaps sensing something, she held out her staff.
I swallowed my spit and drew my sabre.
“… It’s coming. The innermost boss is coming all the way here.”
There wasn’t a single response from the deepest chamber. And the boss’s signal was gradually approaching us.
What was more…
As I muttered that, Zelphy-san unsheathed her sword and took a stance.
“I’ve never heard of a boss leaving its room before! Wai, everyone stand down! Even if it’s a boss, it’s just an Orc.”
As if to cut off Zelphy-san, the worn out adventurer screamed.
“There’s no way that thing’s normal! None of our attacks had the slightest effect on it! Because of that, that man as well… that’s definitely no normal orc!”
The adventurer’s cry shocked us all.
Attacks didn’t work.
Or so he said.
“Just what’s that supposed to mean!?”
Right as Rachel-san shouted out, the entrance to the room was blown away, and a single monster showed itself.
Looking at it, I muttered.
“This is the first I’ve seen an orc, but… it’s much bigger than I thought, and is it not red?”
I think there was no helping me saying that.
Emerald skin and thick limbs. It had the image of an orc, equipped with nothing but a loincloth, but the orc standing before me was definitely red.
It wasn’t just the loincloth. Bristle grew from its arms and wrapped around its body like a pelt.
The hair on its head had grown long enough to cover its back.
The tusks protruding from its jaw were sharp, and its breathing was rough.
“Oy, oy, that looks nothing like a normal orc to me.”
Rondo offered a light quip, but his tone was definitely nervous.
Aria couldn’t raise a word, it seems.
Zelphy-san immediately rushed to the front.
I looked at the weapon in the red orc’s hand.
It looked like it was simply wielding a sword, but if a human were holding it, it would definitely be one of the largest variety.
Zelphy-san glared at the enemy.
“So you stole the bastard’s weapon? Some courage you got there… I had a debt to him, and a drink to reclaim. I’ll be defeating you to make it even.”
I gripped the Jewel once.
If that monster’s strength only went as far as its appearance, then I didn’t think it would be impossible to defeat.
But I felt something ominous from it.
It wasn’t on Celes’ level, but it was a bizarre sensation, as if it had something special on it.
My answer came from the Second.
『It defeated an adventurer and experienced a 『Growth』. What’s more, it looks like it’s a 『Skill Carrier』. Good grief… the old man’s (First Generation) intuition is ominously accurate about these sorts of things.』
The Seventh gave me a warning.
『Lyle, consider retreat as well. If it comes to it, don’t hesitate to cut off those immobile five and prioritize the other surviving members.』
He was quite correct.
I turned my eyes to the collapsed five adventurers behind me.
(If I leave them, they’ll definitely all be killed. Also, will we even be able to get away?)
If I used a Skill, I’m certain that I alone could escape.
I knew. I knew, but I didn’t want to have to choose that option.
The Seventh spoke.
『Lyle, there are times when you must become heartless. Otherwise, you’ll end up losing much, much more.』
He saw through my worries.
As I hung my head, the First burst into laughter.
『Gahahaha, you all are underestimating the boy.』
As I was struck with wonder, the First issued orders.
『This is your(the Second Generation) Skill’s turn, is it not?』
As the First said that to the Second, I heard the click of a tongue.
I’ve heard that the Second’s Skill only held meaning in conjunction with others’.
『… It’s too fast, isn’t it? I wanted to wait a little longer for Lyle’s Growth.』
While I was being confused, the Fifth bursted in.
『That’s all fine and dandy, but confirm the surroundings. There’s such an irregular existence right here. I wonder how the rest will move.』
As I checked with Map, I saw red, luminous points coming towards us.
“Zelphy-san, Monsters are starting to gather.”
Everyone reacted to my words.
They were probably certain that my Skill was a Support Class that let me pick up detailed information on the surroundings.
“Well you’re quite the bringer of bad news today. How about a little pleasant notifications sometimes?”
I wasn’t exactly sure about how to react to Zelphy-san’s tired voice.
The Second seemed laid back.
『Well then, it’s about time I taught you mine.』
From my point of view, I never thought I would be being taught a Skill the moment before I had to use it where it counted.
I never thought I would be told to just go use it without the slightest bit of practice.
The First spoke to the Seventh.
『Looks like he can’t run anymore.』
『Ku, Lyle, do whatever you need to survive this. With the Second’s Skill, that may be possible.』
(No, even if you tell me something like that…)
As I thought that, the information on the Skill started flowing forth from the Jewel.
(This Skill is…)
I casted my eyes down in a daze, and Zelphy-san shouted towards me.
“Lyle, get a grip! If you don’t show some drive here, then when!? You’re the one who said you’d participate!”
The orc before me raised a roar.
After hanging my head, I raised it.
The one to notice my change was Novem.
“… I guess it really doesn’t have any meaning when used alone. Still, I wish you had just told me about it earlier.”
I leisurely pointed my sabre at the orc.