Having arrived in a wide room on the fifth level, I gathered everyone to discuss our next plans.
Up to now, the adventurers that rushed in from Damien’s request had defeated all the monsters, so we were able to press on without battle.
But after the fifth floor, the amount of adventurers took a sharp drop.
Because of that, we would be drawn into battles henceforth, so I thought I would talk about that.
“Well then, I’ll relay our objective from here on.”
I was the party’s leader, and Damien was our target to protect.
The guy himself said he could protect his own body, but when asked if he could take up command, he was completely useless.
It was because his interest in others was faint.
Dalien had made one of his dolls lean over, and he was currently sitting on its arms.
It was as if an adult had perched a child’s doll on top of his arm.
“Objective? Yes, there don’t seem to be any monsters or other adventurers around. And wait, I’m surprised we were able to make it so far this easily. The paths in the labyrinth periodically remake themselves.”
Labyrinths leisurely change their own structures.
Because of that, it’s often the case where you feel relieved knowing the way, only to get lost.
(It’s because of the Skills, though.)
“You don’t need to worry about that point. For challenging this maze, I’ve brought a number of useful Skills with me.”
Saying that, I showed off the Jewel hanging at my neck.,
Damien and Clara looked at it, and nodded.
Only Miranda-san observed it was a slight perplexed expression.
“A Magic Tool? But a Magic Tool with those sorts of Skills carved into it would be expensive, right?”
The one who answered her query was Clara.
“It’s no Magic Tool. It’s a Skill recording【Gem】. They were the trend before Magic Tools were invented. So you have multiple Skills in that… blue was Support Class, right?”
Clara nodded, and I continued on.
“I can avoid battle to a greater extent, but some may prove unavoidable. There’s also cases where it would be better off for us if we defeated an enemy. We’re generally going to be aiming for the fortieth lower level, so if we can collect treasure chests on the way, we will, but if it’ll take too much time, we’ll ignore them.”
“Nice. Nice! It was right for me to have requested for you. You don’t get lost in the labyrinth, and I’m nothing but thankful that you even have a Skill to sense enemies. What’s more, it seems you even know the locations of chests. It’s really a lifesaver. All the treasures you can get up to the thirtieth floor are things I can pick up at the academy, so I have no interest.”
It seems Damien wasn’t interested, but from the point of view of us adventurers, that would be ignoring items we could turn into money.
Aria muttered it was a bit of a waste, but she accepted it.
Novem nodded without any objections.
Miranda-san didn’t seem to be interested, so she didn’t oppose.
But only Clara…
“I understand that we’ll be avoiding battle as much as possible, but what will we do about the luggage? I want to avoid keeping Damien-san’s dolls in a state unfit for battle.”
Clara looked towards the two dolls carrying Damien’s stuff, and our wooden crate. I also agreed with her.
… So I snapped my fingers, and manifested a magic circle on the spot.
Looking at that, everyone was slightly surprised.
I had shown it to Aria and Novem before, but perhaps they weren’t used to the sight as of yet, as they backed off.
“It’s one of the Jew… gem’s Skills. If you stuff items into this treasure chest, you won’t have to carry it along. WE can move with a lightened load, but I can’t take it out too many times. Please keep whatever you’ll need to use frequently on hand. Taking stuff out twice a day is my limit.”
Hearing that, Damien nodded.
“It looks like you can put a considerable amount in there. Put mine in to. Even so, for there to be usage restrictions, does it have a large Mana consumption?”
I nodded, without trying to hide it.
I had to explain that I couldn’t do the impossible.
“Using Skills puts my Mana at its limit. In battle, I’ll try my utmost not to use magic. In exchange…”
I extended my hand into the large treasure chest, and took out the weapons I had stored in it.
It was a set of bow and arrows.
But the heads were a little special.
“Those are those arrows that can explode, right? I remember some students making and selling them.”
“To be more specific, they’re a type of Magic Tool with Magic imbued into them. Magic stones and the like have been stuffed into them, so if the arrow sticks into something, or impacts, the magic will activate. It will be useful against the monsters in these parts.”
A while ago, I asked the adventurer who reached the fiftieth basement floor what equipment would be necessary.
Arrows were expendable, but having them or not made a world of difference, he said.
Purchasing them up was quite an expense.
(If we don’t collect monster parts on the way… our money…)
Each individual one really was expensive.
Clara seemed a little relieved. Perhaps she found we weren’t negligent in our preparations.
“It’s because Arumsaas’ labyrinth has monsters cloaked in metals. I think these sorts of weapons will prove effective. But do you have enough arrows?”
I took yet another weapon out of the box.
It was a blunt weapon.
A weapon called a mace, and one to hit against an enemy.
“If the danger level is low, I’ll be using this. They’re just surrounded with metal, and blunt force trauma will probably be more effective on their contents.”
Hearing that, Clara seemed satisfied.
“Clara, I’ll have you light the surroundings. After that, there’s just baggage carrying, but I’d like for one of Damien-san’s dolls to take care of that.”
“I don’t mind.”
“For the front lines, we’ll have me, Aria, and one of the other dolls. I’m sorry, but we’ll be using it in place of a shield.”
“Right. That’s the proper way to use them.”
Even here, Damien accepted everything lightheartedly. His high spirits made me a little curious.
“Behind them will be Damien-san, Novem, and Clara. The remaining dolls will be stationed behind. I think we’ll be able to proceed with this formation through the twentieth level.”
If the twentieth basement floor’s boss hasn’t been subjugated yet, there was a need for us to defeat it to move onwards. I think it will be difficult with our forces, but I have the Second’s Skill on me.
(But I doubt it would work on a doll.)
Even if I used it on the dolls, I question whether or not it will actually have an effect. I’ll have to test it.
“Lyle-sama, as planned, up to the Thirtieth floor is…”
Novem spoke up, so I answered without hesitation.
“There are other adventurers moving around, but we generally won’t come into contact with them. If they’re seeking our help, we’ll decide on the spot, but act with fulfilling the request in mind.”
Damien looked a little bored.
“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t waste time getting involved with others. Well, you seem capable, so I’ll follow. As long as I get what I requested for, that’s enough.”
He didn’t seem to be interested in others.
But Aria snapped at him.
“Oy, you, don’t you have anything you could call feelings!?”
“Hah! Feelings? The moment they decided to challenge this place, they became responsible for themselves. I don’t mind if you save them because their lives are in danger, but please don’t go about forgetting my request. If you like playing hero, then just do whatever you want when this is over. Of course, I doubt you of all people would be able to do anything. You… among the members here, I’ll bet you’re the weakest.”
Having been called weak, Aria clenched her spear.
Seeing the situation, Clara wandered over to her side.
“It’s just as Damien says. I won’t deny the worth of saving people, but we have taken up a request. The one who has mistaken their priorities is you.”
If you don’t save the lives you were capable of protecting, you may earn some bad reputation as an adventurer.
But only get involved if you’re sure you can do something.
Otherwise, having them pull you down and losing their lives in the labyrinth wouldn’t be for your sake.
“I’m not sure whether they made a mistake in judgement, or their luck was bad, but don’t get in the way of my research for those sorts of people. Now that you get it, should we end the break?”
Damien brought it to a close there, and I started stuffing things into the treasure chest.
The sabre I usually used would be useless here, so I put it in as well. Novem called over to Aria.
“I get it already. A weak person can’t save anyone… so I have to get stronger.”
It was something Zelphy-san taught us in Dalien.
If we wanted to save people, we had to get stronger ourselves.
(Enough strength to save others, is it…)
I put all but the necessary items in the box, before snapping my fingers again to make it disappear.
There was no actual need to snap, but after seeing the Seventh do it, I just began to imitate him.
“Well then, we’ll put a quota of at least five floors per day. I think the first twenty will be fast, but don’t let your guards down.”
As I started walking forward, everyone followed.
Aria looked regretful, but Novem continued to call out to calm her down.
However, the fact that the one who usually would have called out to her, Miranda-san, was quietly casting her eyes down left quite an impression.
I just noticed it now, but…
“Next, turn right, and await further direction.”
The ancestor’s Skills are…
“The enemy hasn’t noticed us, so we’re launching a surprise attack. I’ll be using the bow, so once the explosion rings out, cut at is, Aria.”
“Leave it to me!”
In labyrinths, no, in most situations…
“There’s a treasure chest, but it’s got some sort of trap attached to it. What should we do, Clara?”
“I don’t have the technique to undo it. If you’re worried about it, we’re better off avoiding it, but… I’m surprised you can tell.”
Considerably, or show should I put it, they’re efficient enough that you could call it cowardly…
“Let’s rest around here today. If we defeat the monsters in the area, we’ll have some peace of mind.”
“Truly splendid. In just one day, we’re at the eighteenth underground level. What’s more, while we’ve launched attacks, we’ve not had one launched on us even once. Yep, you truly are competent.”
“… Thank you?”
Even when Damien praised me, I felt quite doubtful for some reason.
It wasn’t by my power, but by the ancestors’ Skills.
I’m still not clear on the extent of my own Skill, so there are some things I can’t help but wonder about.
Taking down the surrounding monsters, we arrived in a slightly wider room, and lowered our bags.
The surrounding walls had an irresponsible number of metal sheets stuck over them, and near the room’s entrance was a rectangular signboard that let off an emerald light.
Is that a depiction of a human? Something like that was drawn on it.
“Even so, this sure is a mysterious labyrinth. Perhaps it’s a bit too unique, but I can’t drop this ominous feeling I get from it.”
As I said that, Damien began going into an explanation on the place.
“Of course it is. I mean, it’s not that this labyrinth emerged in the place we call the city of scholars. It’s precisely because this labyrinth was here that the city was built over it.”
He used a curious phrasing, so I asked.
“It’s because this labyrinth was here that the city of scholars was built?”
“That’s right. Unlike the other ones, an ancient ruin became a labyrinth. And when that happened, they kept pouring out one after another… Even the popular Magic Tools nowadays got hints from the treasure and materials that came from this labyrinth. The equipment is one thing, but to the city of scholars, this is truly a mountain of treasure. Right… for example, it’s about the metal that makes the form of this maze, but it’s actually possible to take it back with you. In really small quantities, though.”
Damien moved his doll, and had it start peeling at the walls.
However, the labyrinth suddenly offered a response, and it tried to restore them.
“What are you trying to do?”
Clara seemed amazed as she looked at us, but a sheet of metal had been peeled away.
No, the labyrinth itself discarded it.
It was a small and pretty slab, gripped in the doll’s hands.
“I’m giving this kid a lesson. You’re that library girl, right? You should watch too.”
Damien called Clara【Library Girl】 as the rest of us observed the piece of metal.
“In the past, refining or manufacturing this metal was impossible for us. But the city of scholars revolutionized it. That technology is even used in producing Magic Tools. A while ago, even this small amount of metal had some value. The adventurers were scraping at the walls with all their might, it seems. Now, we can do nothing but look back, and laugh at them.”
The labyrinth itself a major grace given unto the world.
That was Arumsaas’ Labyrinth.
“They have to manage it, but if it disappeared, would there be problems greater than the labyrinth itself being lost?”
As I asked that, Damien pushed his glasses up, and they caught the light.
“That’s right. Though there are quite a few out there who don’t understand that.”
Damien cast aside the scrap of metal the doll had stripped.
And that scrap, as if it were melting into the floor, vanished.
Seeing my surprised face, he explained.
“It’s a part of the labyrinth, so it can easily be taken back in by it. If you take it outside, it won’t recognize it as a part of itself again. There were some guys researching that, but… I’m not interested. All I’m interested in is the crystallization of ancient technology, the【Automaton】s. I will make a doll that surpasses the crystallization of all their efforts. For that purpose, I need to reproduce an automaton no matter what.”
The Seventh, who had kept quiet up to now, thought up a question.
I heard his voice from the Jewel.
『Wait, could it be this man… doesn’t actually like that automata themselves?』
I was surprised.
From Miranda-san, I heard he was going to reproduce one in order to create his ideal woman, or something like that, so I thought that using the dolls of ancient technology was his objective in itself.
“Could it be you don’t have much interest in the automata themselves?”
As I said that, Damien started prattling on in high spirits.
“A little more than in other things. They’re my target, and of all else, those higher up old farts are overly interested in recreating them. But from my point of view, as long as that gets me my research budgets, it’s fine. Restoring them is a side thing. I’m going to make the woman of my ideals. With modest breast, and graceful… Ahn~ that cold expression you have only makes it all the more wonderful!!”
As I saw the man go into a trance of ecstasy, my face cramped.
It’s not like it was his problem alone.
Hearing his story, the ancestors in the Jewel started speaking up.
According to the Second…
『Flat chest you say? Isn’t it in the volume that a woman’s charm lies!?』
The Third was…
『It’s good to have some moderation. What’s important is the balance. More so, it’s the bottom that’s the important…』
『What’s wrong with small breasts!? Isn’t it fine!? It’s not like size is everything! That stuff is nothing but a lump of fat!』
The Fifth didn’t seem to be interested.
『As long as they produce milk, there is no problem. Even if they don’t, just hire a wet nurse for the child.』
The Sixth laughed, as he…
『Hahaha, it’s the shape of the bust, you know. The shape! It’s important, is it not?』
It seems the Seventh was on the larger faction.
『The worth of small breast… just where are you trying to tell me it lies? I cannot comprehend it.』
The Seventh said that with some disappointment, but from my point of view…
(Why exactly do I have to hear what the ancestors think about breasts…)
Even if I covered my ears, I would hear it. The ancestors’ sense of values in relation to a female’s chest.
And their competing opinions, even if I plugged me eardrums, they came to me.
As I made a dark expression, Novem approached.
“Lyle-sama, about lookout shifts… are you alright?”
I slowly turned to Novem’s chest.
“Yes, bigger is better.”
Novem didn’t seem to notice it, but Damien spoke in his continued high spirits.
“Oh, I see. So you’re a heretic. Library girl, you must also understand the worth of small… damn, what’s with your size. I think I hate you.”
Damien said that to Clara.
But without drawing back, Clara disinterestedly…
“Is that so? They do nothing but cause stiff shoulders, so I have a preference towards small ones, I think.”
There, Damien broke out into a smile.
“I apologize. Despite those large lumps on your chest, I see you were my comrade in the admiration of the little things in life. Yet despite that, just what sort of thing did I say… Want me to cut them?”
Damien produced a scalpel from somewhere.
As I saw Damien make a regretful face, I thought.
(Clara’s a bit of a strange one herself.)
The second day.
With the same formation as before, we passed through the twentieth floor.
The floor with the boss on it was constructed as nothing but a straight road leading to a large room in the very center of the labyrinth.
As I checked the map, the center room was connected to a narrow entrance and exit way in a straight line.
It was completely different from the labyrinth in Dalien, so I was curious.
(As I thought, it changes based on location. In that case, we won’t be chased around.)
After passing through the chamber devoid of its boss, we proceeded onto the twenty first floor.
We wanted to put in some breaks, but it seems that a party of adventurers was approaching this area from above.
“There are some people of our trade coming from behind. Their numbers are… Twelve.”
Even with twelve, I get the feeling they’re lacking in adequate force to proceed further than here.
They likely came to confirm whether the boss was here, or maybe to combat the monsters past it.
“Your Skills sure are convenient. Support Class generally doesn’t stand out much, and it doesn’t have that impact, so it doesn’t seem to useful to others, I think.”
As Aria looked at me and said that, the Second…
『And this is why I hate those guys with Vanguard Skills. They friggin’ look down on us… regardless of the Skill or weapon, the guys who can use it well are strong!』
In the Second’s time, it was a misfortune to get a Support Skill.
Perhaps he was told something by someone who had a Vanguard Class Skill like Aria.
On mine, and Aria’s conversation, Novem joined in.
“It’s not that the Skills are amazing. It’s that Lyle-sama, who can pull them all off, is amazing. It’s a sort of talent to be able to use a wide number of Skills.”
Hearing Novem tell Aria I was amazing, I began to feel a little embarrassed.
I do remember the ancestors praising me for using their Skills skillfully.
(Could it be that I’m actually a little amazing?)
I was sure I was completely useless when compared to Celes, but I’ve often come to realize that wasn’t the case since I went out.
There, the Second spoke.
『Lyle, you just thought something like, ‘am I amazing?’ or something, right?』
(This man, he read my mind! … it’s as if he’s the First.)
As I recalled the First, I began to wonder what he would say in a time like this.
(Unexpectedly, he might have gotten angry at me again.)
I began to feel a little sad.
As we had such conversations, we pressed on in the labyrinth.
However, even after coming this far, Miranda-san didn’t join in.
If you called out to her, she responded, and she even smiled.
(As I thought, she’s become a little distanced. Just how should I persuade her to become our ally here?)
Rather than battle, I was worried about Miranda-san.
Around the twenty first floor, the battles had instantly become more intense.
The orcs that had cut at us in straight lines with metal sheets changed to ones holding items forcefully shaped into weapons and shields.
There were even some that were wearing things to protect their heads.
Within the passageway.
I had Clara extinguish her light, and we held our breaths.
Having discovered a squad of five orcs wandering around, I told everyone to stop, as I notched an arrow.
“Clara, when you hear the explosion, turn on the light.”
“Novem and Miranda-san, prepare yourselves as well. Fire attribute is fine. When I call out your names, release whatever you’re casting at the orc upfront.”
“Damien-san… act of your own volition.”
As I heard the stretching sound of the bow drawn to its limit, I activated the Second’s Skill.
And I measured the distance with the Fifth and Sixth’s.
The Second’s 【All】.
The Fifth’s 【Dimension】.
The Sixth’s 【Spec】.
The three Skills let us sense the information of enemies that had yet to perceive us.
Using the Second’s Skill that made it feel as if my senses had expanded, I took aim in the dark passageway.
(The troublesome one is the one with a shield.)
As I locked my aim, the Second spoke.
『Steady your breathing more. Don’t think you’ll take them down in a single strike. If you hit, and make them flinch, then you can win with these numbers.』
Heeding his words, I let the arrow fly.
At the same time, I returned the bow to the quiver on my back, and took the mace hung at my waist in my right hand.
The moment the explosion rung out, Clara lit the surroundings with magic.
In the center of the orc squadron, the shield-bearing orc had collapsed.
As if it had taken a blow to the head, it showed no signs of rising.
The two who had prepared magic activated their spells.
Novem was the faster one.
A surge of fire came from behind me, and assailed the orcs.
The ones that used their comrades as shields were able to block it, but the ones in the front had been charred black.
(As expected of Novem’s magic output.)
The problem was Miranda-san.
A sphere of flame was shot out, and it headed for the orc who had picked up and readied the Shield.
Her aim was slightly off, and it was easily blocked.
But the impact destroyed the monster’s stance.
It wasn’t able to defend all the ones behind it either, and they suffered burns over their bodies.
Seeing that we had finished our magic, they started running at us with their weapons.
But before I could call out to Aria…
“Hey, attack already, No. 1! No. 2!”
As Damien said that, the armor dolls started running down the corridor with large lances in hand.
Without a sense of pain, the dolls thrust their weapons forward fearlessly.
The orcs swung their weapons, however, they were easily rebounded off the bodies.
Perhaps the dolls were made with high quality metal, but even after taking attacks, they weren’t dented.
Two of the orcs let themselves be impaled to stop the lances’ movements, and in that space, the orc with a shield raised a war cry as it came at us.
Correcting the location of his glasses with a finger, Damien spoke.
“That’s where it should have retreated. We’re quite busy here, so if it ran, we wouldn’t have given chase… how unfortunate.”
When he finished his dramatic line, I shouted.
As Aria ran out, it looked as if she had disappeared for an instant.
But in the next instant, she was behind the orc that was coming at us with its shield.
She likely used a Skill to circle around.
“So she used the walls and ceiling.”
As I looked around the space that had taken the shape of a passageway, Aria stabbed her spear deeply into the monster’s vitals.
It fell forward onto the ground.
A metallic sond rang out as the shield dropped to the ground.
It was quite a shrill noise.
It was a bit of an unpleasant feeling I couldn’t say anything to.
She had dealt a finishing blow on an orc, so Aria was overjoyed.
As she pulled out her lance, blood gushed out, and splashed onto her body.
“She really is lacking in elegance. She took it out with an attack relying on brute strength. What’s more, in a barbaric fashion.”
It seems that Aria and Damien’s compatibility was low.
“Aren’t your dolls the same!? They just attack straight up by stabbing with their lances, don’t they!?”
“Why not just call it a simple attack without any wasted movement?”
I ignored their childish quarrel, and thanked the other party member.
“Sorry, Clara. For having you use magic all the way.”
“This is also my job. Also, I’m used to it, so it’s fine. Though it’s my first experience having to turn the light on and off so many times.”
Magic was shining on the end of her largish staff.
As lights were part of the specialization of a support, it shone brighter than Novem’s.
“Novem, did your magic output rise? You took out an orc in one hit.”
“Thank you. But this was a narrow space, so they had nowhere to escape. IT was because of your decisions, Lyle-sama.”
I left what magic she used to her own decision.
But I’m thankful for her judgement to use a magic with a wide effective area.
“Nice work, Miranda-san. I’m sorry for dragging you into this when you’re not used to it.”
“… Eh? Y-yeah, it’s fine, Lyle-kun.”
She looked spaced out for a moment, but she immediately directed a smile at me.
“If it gets hard for you, just say it.”
“Right. Yep… I’ll do just that.”
As she said that, I turned back to look at the two who were still argueing, Damien and Aria.
I let out a sigh, as I inclined my ears to a voice from the Jewel.
It was the sad voice of the Sixth.
(I know, Sixth…)
When I used the Skills…
In the middle of battle, Miranda-san’s response flashed red for a brief moment.
Red indicated a target that held hostility towards me.
(As I thought, Shannon is dangerous.)
It seems like it will become difficult to reform her.
A recalled the red flash of Miranda-san’s signal.
And even now, she was shining an uninterested yellow.