We came to Damien’s research laboratory.
Today, we came with an unusual group of me, Novem, Aria, Miranda, Poyopoyo, and even Clara.
The reason we brought Clara along was because the Third was quite insistent.
At the lab, Damien looked at Porter, and watched it move around. Today’s objective was getting the opinion of Damien the Doll User.
Whether it was suitable for being baggage-carrier plus shield. We wanted his confirmation.
The fault of our party was that we didn’t have anyone to act as a shield in battle. At the same time, we weren’t able to move with a large amount of baggage.
When I thought of making a doll to compensate for our lack of manpower, the first question that came to mind was whether it had to be humanoid or not.
After looking over the golem, he came over to me.
For some reason, the three automata who were usually cleaning the room, 【No. 1】, 【No. 2】, and 【No. 3】 were on standby near him.
Their eyes occasionally pointed at Novem.
“Do you plan on altering it any further than this?”
“I tried running several trials in the labyrinth, but I think it would be best if I upped the size.”
Porter was still an incomplete product.
I took it into the labyrinth several times to see what had to be improved on. That was something Poyopoyo firmly requested, so I carried out such tests.
“I think this is good enough as a prototype. Bu it really has been made to specialize on Arumsaas’ labyrinth, I’m doubtful of whether it would be useful elsewhere.”
Labyrinths vary greatly based on the location. With its relatively flat flooring, Arumsaas’ one was a relatively rare type.
But for now, we held clearing the thirtieth floor of this labyrinth as our goal. I think Porter’s fine like that.
If the need arises, I’ll make more improvements.
“I think I’ll go with a specialized type for now. So, what are your thoughts having moved it around?”
As he maneuvered Porter around the wide laboratory, Damien pushed up his glasses with his index finger.
“There shouldn’t be a problem for me or Lyle. I also doubt there’ll be a problem controlling it for any support more skilled than the main body of adventurers, but… it heally is a handful to useDamien told me there was a problem with its size.”
If I was the one using it, then that was fine, or so I thought…
From within the Jewel, I heard a voice
The Fourth was regretful.
『Damn, we’ll have to alter our plans. If we had Porter, I thought we could increase the popularity and demand for the golem magic all at once… but it looks like there’s a problem.』
The Fourth was delightfully putting together a plan to rake in money.
For that sake, he tried asking me to make it so other adventurers could use it.
“If it’s that library girl over there, then…”
Damien looked at Clara.
“… No, I guess that’s no good. If you stick a shield onto it, then the load will increase even further. No, maybe just barely…”
Damien was lost in thought.
And Novem spoke.
“How about you try teaching Clara-san golem magic? She probably has an aptitude for it and all.”
Can he really just let other people learn his magic so easily?
That’s what I thought, but Damien followed her words.
“That’s right. It would be quicker just to test it. Library girl, I’ll teach you, so try using it.”
… He was that sort of guy.
Clara let out a sigh as she spoke.
“Hah… I never thought I would be being taught magic like this.”
Clara was taught golem magic, and after that, she tried utilizing Porter on the spot.
Seeing that, Poyopoyo…
“Ah, our Porter is… the fruit of me and that chicken’s love is…!”
Started putting on a play by herself, so I ignored her. Miranda-san looked on the scene, and gave her impression.
“Isn’t that nice? For it being your first time moving it around, I get the feeling it’s maneuvering nicely.”
“Yes, as that woman over there said, you have some talent.”
Hearing that, Aria spoke to him.
“That woman over there… Miranda-san was your student, wasn’t she?”
He turned back to Miranda-san, and…
“Was that so? Huh? I get the feeling I kinda know her, but kinda… I think a person like her would leave an impression in my memory, but how strange it is.”
He tilted his head in wonder, and Miranda-san started smiling.
“How cruel, professor. But how fitting of you. I’m relieved.”
I heard a voice from the Jewel.
It was the Fifth.
『It’s because the feeling she gave off changed all of a sudden. She’s started to draw wandering eyes. She’s quite reminiscent of Milleia, you know… her personality’s a little different, though.』
It seems her personality was slightly off, but these ancestors were equating her to Milleia-san more, and more.
Clara gave her thoughts.
“I can move it around, but feet, were they? When I try using those, it feels heavy. Normal useage isn’t a problem.”
“I remember your skill level. As a support, you’re about average, right? If it’s barely passable at that level, then you’ll have to make it smaller for a normal person to use. If you want to cut the Mana cost, then there are a few areas you should work on. But the wheels sure are nice.”
He praised it.
Poyopoyo grinned, as she took fleeting glances at the other three automatons.
They were making mortified expressions. I can’t say anything but that these guys really had some complicated craftsmanship put into them.
And Damien reached his conclusion.
“If you want it to be usable by standard adventurers, it has to be more compact. Stairs are… can you make the legs shorter, and have it move in more of a creeping fashion? If you do that, it won’t mover around too much.”
When dolls and golems were concerned, Damien gave knowledgeable opinions.
“In that case, for now, you’ll continue to stay in the storeroom working on porter?”
I nodded, but before that, I had a few things planned.
“I’ll make some improvements, but we’ll be challenging the labyrinth in the near future. If I don’t move around with a party soon, I feel that I’m going to forget that I’m an adventurer.”
Recently, I’d been earning small change in the labyrinth.
If there were adventurers wanting to take heavy baggage in order to dive deep into it, I would load it onto Porter, and take it up to the fifth floor for them.
I took silver coins as thanks, and on the return back up, I would pick up other returning adventurers. I earned even more silver there.
The Fourth skillfully calculated the sum that the adventurers we met could pay, and we ran a business like that.
It wasn’t just once or twice that I was asked to seriously tag along as support for gold.
And hearing those requests, the Fourth started considering changing our stock.
Damien looked at Porter.
“You’ve given me some new creative stimulus here. As I thought, you sure are interesting, Lyle. Oh, right… it’s about that boss’s armor, but there’s a whole piece that’s been left here. You’ll buy it, right? It’s in the way, so if you’ll take it off our hands, the academy will make it cheap.”
As long as there was enough left to study, they didn’t need any more, or so he said.
The materials they gained in large quantities from the boss was sold to me with Damien as an intermediary.
“Recently, Lyle-sama’s been earning a stable income, so we should be fine to an extent.”
Seeing her laughing to herself, I wanted to make an excuse, but I stopped myself.
A demon of small change was shouting out orders at me, so I didn’t have a choice. From my stance, it was fine as long as I could test out Porter.
The Fourth spoke.
『There’s still much, much more to come, but if you’re going to be working on Porter for a while, we’ll be on break for a while… even when we finally gained a stream of customers.』
While I was surprised at his abilities, I was an adventurer. I had some doubts about this method of making money, and I hadn’t even thought of putting Porter out on the market.
(I’ll have to talk to him later.)
While I thought that, I continued my talk with Damien.
Miranda and Aria had started talking about recent times.
“Aria, your atmosphere sure has changed as of late.”
“R-really? As I thought, I’m looking like more of an adventurer…”
“You’ve become quite manly, my dear.”
As Miranda said that with a smile, Aria returned.
“… You sure have a nice personality there. I never noticed.”
A smiling Miranda-san, and an angry Aria exchanged glares, and within that, Novem, Poyopoyo, and the other three automatons…
“Is something the matter?”
Looking at the four maids, Novem tilted her head. It was quite a cute gesture in my eyes.
“This vixen… that pose…”
No. 1 through three!
“She’s planned it all out! She must have planned everything!”
“What could this be? Why does my heart feel such animosity towards this woman!? You, just what are you!?”
“She’s definitely an insurmountable enemy for that piece of junk, Poyopoyo. So be it. We’ll be your opponent here!”
The three machines assumed predetermined poses, and Poyopoyo screamed out.
“Who’s a piece of junk!? The only one who’s allowed to call me that is my chicken dickwad! It’s time to scrap you all!”
I’m not sure where she took it out of, but she entered a battle stance with a drill in her hand.
Come to think of it, when were were making Porter, she said something like, ‘Drills and robots are a man’s romance.’
(It sure is lively here.)
Within the noisy laboratory, that’s all I could think.
“Um… could this mean that I’m being enlisted into the party? Recently, I’ve been invited along as if it’s natural, but I’m more of a solo temporary party member, you know… is anyone listening to me?”
Late at night.
Having stopped by the room inside the Jewel, I asked what had been bothering me for a while.
It was about the answer I had reached.
In order to clear Arumsaas’ labyrinth, I was using a golem to make up for our party’s lack of members, and inadequacy in defense… I pretty much prepared a moving shield.
I heard in the past it was something different from the answers they were expecting.
For that sake, I wanted to ask the ancestors of their intentions.
“So it’s that, right… there were countless ways from the start, right? You intentionally kept quiet about it, right?”
As I said that, the Second nodded, and explained.
『That’s right. Personally, I was going for the ‘earnestly use time to build up strength, and find dependable comrades’ option. That Clara girl was in my aim. Keeping quiet about it was… I thought you would notice, but you didn’t.』
The Third was interested in Clara as well.
『She sure has it nice, Clara-chan. She’s a walking library, you know. She’s definitely got a lot of wisdom on her. Ah, my plan was for you to just accompany another party, and beat up the boss alone. Getting to know a party that’s relatively trustworthy, was the problem, but you could have just asked Clara-chan for that one.』
The Fourth’s opinion was a bit out there.
『You could have just used money to hire manpower. Get guards, and have them escort you to the thirtieth floor. From my position, if you got to see other skilled adventurers up close like that, and learned from them, I was fine with permitting my Skill’s use and all.』
What I was lacking.
All I had to do was notice that, or so the Fourth said. No, to be more specific, there were just some things I had to learn in an environment where I couldn’t use Skills.
The Fifth’s answer was close to mine.
『I was thinking of using golems to make up for your lack of people. Defense… prepare nothing but a shield, and deploy it in battle to increase safety. A plan to instantly set up a defensive encampment within the labyrinth. Quite simple, quite certain.』
That did sound right. I ended up nodding.
It didn’t sound like the opinion of an adventurer, but it was wise. I’ll keep that in mind.
The sixth had a similar one.
『My thoughts on the matter were the same, but I thought of making golems with simple designs, and simply using them to up your numbers. There’s also doing that with money and people.』
Finally, the Seventh…
『I was watching just how you were to approach your objective, and once you realized the problems, how you planned to go about resolving them… I’m serious, you know? By the way, my answer was just putting out a request to subjugate the floor boss. I did think of Golems too, though.』
Hearing that, I ended up shouting.
“No, in the first place, what about communication with my comrades, and those other important points!”
I thought that, but the ancestors were grinning.
The Second spoke.
『In regards to our challenge, we wanted to see how you would go about clearing it. Seeing you earnestly tackling the problem isn’t a bad sight.』
『Lyle, expand your field of vision more. While we were leading you to think the way you did, the problem we presented was, ‘Return after defeating the thirtieth floor boss without Skills.’ If you just want to look at the extremes… you could do absolutely nothing but defeat the boss, and have left all of the rest to hired adventurers, you know.』
The Third laughed.
Then what the hell did they mean that it would be terrible at this rate when they put the restrictions on my Skills? As I made a dissatisfied face, the Fourth spoke.
『Hey, don’t be so mad. It’s true that we wanted to see how you planned on approaching the problem, and you ended up noticing more problems than we anticipated you would. Also, you even thought of a new way to use a golem, right? If you did nothing but listen to our words, Porter would never have been born.』
It seems they wanted to see how I would think and act on it. As a result, I ended up giving an answer they were satisfied with.
Not that I’m satisfied with that.
Looking like he was having more fun than usual, the Fifth spoke to me.
『The concept is good. It’s also nice that you’ve realized the necessity of a shield. With this, if you can safely clear the thirtieth floor, it’s a pass.』
If I could do it, that is.
That doesn’t mean I’ve passed anything yet.
The Sixth answered to my discontent.
『Lyle, there’s never a single way to approach a problem. In truth, even using up years to steadily build up all your abilities was a single correct answer. But similarly, hiring people was but another correct one. Well, we did lead you to misunderstand.』
The Seventh apologized.
『I think you understand, but there are plenty of loopholes in this world. There will come a time when a frontal attack won’t get you anywhere. Also…』
The Second took over the explanation.
『Noticing your current problems, and working to better them has already made you achieve our aim. If you continued on oblivious, we would have presented a different challenge.』
Seeing me unsatisfied with that, the ancestors smiled.
The Fifth spoke.
『You realized your faults, and bettered them. Even for problems we didn’t notice, you relied on Clara to reach an answer. I have a few complaint over how you’re too reliant, but that isn’t a mistake.』
I tried asking everyone.
“Um, so you’re saying any method would have been fine? Even if I didn’t notice a single problem, and ignored them, yet still managed to clear the task?”
The Third nodded.
『Right. If you go to extremes, that would have worked too. Of course, that’s only if you had enough power on you to get through it without paying mind to such glaring flaws.』
But the Sixth spoke.
『It’s just that if you lost your footing there, we would never have permitted the use of Skills again. Lyle, you seriously grappled with the challenge we presented, and presented a response we’re satisfied with, is all it means. Now go put it to practice, and show your worth.』
There were some parts I could nod at, and some parts I found iffy.
“You never thought I would push myself too far, and fail?”
The Second informed me with a serious expression on his face.
『If you were to die from something of this level, then that means that’s just your level. Your talent, comrades, environment… if you were hopeless with all those backing you, then you’d just become hopeless further down the line, and get annihilated.』
The force of his words shut me up, and the Third followed up.
『Don’t worry. Everyone here is waiting, and looking forward to how you’ll fare, Lyle. We presented the task thinking you could do it. If we thought it was hopeless, I doubt we would have placed so much expectations on you in the first place.』
No, that didn’t help anything.
These guys are being quite overbearing today.
Just what do they want me to do?
In the end, the Fifth scratched his head as he spoke.
『Each and every one of them… Lyle, it’s your life. Obviously, there’s no one who’s going to present an answer but you. How you take things in, and how that leads to an answer. That’s for you to decide.』
On his words, I remembered what the First had told me.
【Lyle… have you decided on your goal yet?】
I remembered a prickling painful sensation in my heart.