The Departing Subjugatory Force
The preparations to depart over with, we gathered at Beim’s eastern gate. Our scale was that of a few hundreds.
It didn’t reach a thousand, but it was still a considerable number.
(I heard the difficulty level was low, but…)
The largest individual party was Alette Baillet’s knights. They had a bit over thirty fighters, and only around the same number of support.
But perhaps they hadn’t had enough supporters to begin with, as a few of them were temporary hires.
Among the other parties, even the bigger ones had around six fighters, and ten support. My party was not the smallest one.
If you want to pick out the absolute smallest party, then it was the lightly armored party led by that 【Albano】 the narrow eyed man had spoken of. While they borrowed a horse-drawn wagon all the same, they only had six in all.
【Creit Benini】 who’d stirred up that duel mess, headed a group of six armored men organized by the books, and a greater number to support them.
They had four wagons, and while their equipment was mismatched, they looked like an army on a march. No, I participated in an army’s march back in centrally, and ability-wise, these men were greater.
Looking around, I saw some irrelevant parties gathering as well.
“What, so you can just join in if you want to?”
When I thought that, the receptionist dispatched by the Guild walked up to this time’s commander- Alette-san.
It was Tanya-san.
I had finished checking over the goods packed into Porter, so I somewhat paid mind to their exchange.
We had come quite early in the morning, so our group was somewhere around the center of the mass. For that sake, Porter was one thing, but the gathering of women also stood out.
Among the other adventurers, one even remarked, ‘thinking of opening shop once we arrive there?’ of something as he held up his head indecently.
It seems it takes a variety of sorts to make a Labyrinth subjugation in Beim.
(I think I’m getting something wrong here, but… oh, they started talking.)
The voices I heard were cut off by the surrounding noise, so it’s not like I could pick up everything. But what I did catch was…
“Well then, those are all the regulars who’ll be participating this time.”
“… That was a big help, Tanya.”
“You don’t look so good. Something the matter, Alette-san? Ah, right! The truth is, there’s a party I recommended among them, so once you get back, can you tell me how they fared?”
“… I don’t really mind? What name should I look out for?”
“His party stands out, so you’ll pick them out quite easily. That boy with the blue hair watching from over there, Lyle-kun’s party.”
It does appear she noticed my eavesdropping.
And when Alette-san looked in my direction, her face turned pale. I waved, and Tanya-san reciprocated the motion with a smile.
Alette-san hung her head, and put her hands over it.
Once the paperwork had finished, Tanya-san came over to me.
Watching Alette-san escape into the crowd to intentionally disappear from my field of vision, I was overcome with some indescribably sentiment.
(Right. It’s hard because you remember every little bit of it… I totally get it. I totally get where you’re coming from, Alette-san.)
From within the Jewel, the Third’s voices sounded like he was desperately holding back laughter.
『Hey, Lyle… make sure you properly ask whether she carries those papers around regularily. How about asking her outright if she’s found any takers yet!?』
(… The Third somehow feels the darkest here.)
I offered my greetings to Tanya-san who approached.
“Good morning. So you noticed me?”
“You do possess quite a conspicuous means of transportation. And wait, not a carriage, but a Porter, was it? I never thought you would be in possession of a model of the item so talked about of Arumsaas.”
As everyone directed their glances at Porter, Monica stuck out her chest in pride.
While doubting whether anyone was actually praising her, I continued talking to Tanya-san.
“Come to think of it, what’s this about regular members?”
“Eh? Oh, that? Right, you wouldn’t be knowledgeable about something like that. It’s your first subjugation, so perhaps it would be best to familiarize yourself with the way things go.”
What Tanya-san explained…
Apart from the Parties specifically selected to join, those Parties could hire other ones or soloes as temporary assistance.
For those that scraped by with the bare minimum numbers, it was common to hire some more adventurers for added support.
Of course, there were other cases around, and it was no good unless you could trust the temps you were hiring.
But even if we knew that fact beforehand, it would be quite difficult for us to hire anyone in only a week’s timespan.
“Besides adventurers, there are merchants who make the trip a well. People going the same general direction will accompany partway as well, and there are even some performing troupes. See, just look over there.”
Looking closely, I saw a gathering of elves confirming their instruments.
They were quite a distance away, so I hadn’t noticed.
(They have weapons as well, so I thought they were Adventurers.)
I observed around, and saw some merchants leading several cart’s-worth of merchandise. Dressed-up women were sociably looking around from them.
So among them, some would open up shops, and cater to the adventurers.
Other than that, there were some young adventurers who’d likely pleaded with another party to take them along.
“It’s a limited time thing, and a small town forms around it for a period of time. I’m sure entertainment is a must. While we’re moving, the temporary hires will carry out the guard duties after all. The regular members can challenge the Labyrinth with all they’ve got.”
“But the temps aren’t permitted to enter it?”
Tanya-san spoke with a wry smile.
“I’m not sure if a receptionist such as myself should be the one to say it, but I’ve no idea what’s happening where I’m not watching. There are a few guild personnel who will tag along, but I myself will return to the East Branch once I’ve confirmed the participants. It’s best you see how those matters go on your own.”
As I accepted that it was just something like that, Tanya-san went on.
“Normally, doing temp work like this is an important task to get connections with competent people. And remember, your party is a competent one.”
“… Just now, you told Alette-san, that you’re the one that recommended us.”
When I said that, she nodded.
“Yes, so make sure you don’t betray my expectations.”
She said that with a smile, before walking off to confirm the members of the other parties.
… The group that departed arrived at their destination with Alette’s Party at the head.
Miranda began to understand the meaning of Tanya’s words as she walked around the base.
(It truly is a small town here. I can’t believe it.)
At the start, it was just a group of under a thousand, but given the time, people continued to gather, and its population easily crossed that line.
After a while of moving, those with separate destinations separated off.
And in the end, the number to reach their destination point after six days of travel was just around six hundred.
The difficulty level wasn’t high. But with a scale surpassing ten floors, and a boss every floor, it was thought it would take quite some time.
The parties actively doing the clearing contained around one hundred and fifty members.
A force carrying around numbers several times that was based on a different methodology that the usual subjugatory forces of knights and soldiers.
After arriving, the guild personnel immediately began to confirm that everyone was present.
And the magicians brought along began to build the base.
They leveled the earth, built up walls, and formed the roads.
Just as Tanya had said, a town was really formed.
And as soon as they arrived, the merchants unloaded their cargo, they split up into those to stay, and those to return, many heading back with adventurer guards.
There was more cargo on the way, but when she asked, she heard another merchant party was on their way. They would arrive a few days later.
Miranda was curious as to what the merchants were thinking in planning it like that, but her information source gave a vague smile, and dodged the topic.
The goods on sale leaned most towards armor, wine, and food. Items made to last a long time.
Some had brought ingredients to cook in stone furnaces built up with magic.
After distributing luggage to the important member, the guild receptionists went off to their prepared tent, and began handling paperwork.
They had horses prepared, and it was clear they would be getting in contact with the guild regularly.
While Miranda walked her way back to the place her party had been afforded, a number of adventurers immediately made their way to the tents of the harlots.
“Hey, ain’t five silver too steep? How’s three sound?”
To the haggling adventurer, the man taking around the girls smiled.
“Sir, we’ve also risked our lives to come to these distant lands to do business. There’s no harm in making it a little expensive. And we’ve only brought around the best of the best.”
The adventurer did not back down.
“Quit lying! Coming this far with an army to guard you, and you can’t be going there, buddy!”
But the man.
“Then so be it. We’ll merely tend to other customers. And as we’ve just arrived, we haven’t even finished setting up shop. If you help out, I won’t mind making it just a little lighter on your wallet.”
A few fleeting glances from the man, and the adventurers voiced their willingness to help with construction and other work.
When she turned her eyes to a different place, a troupe of performers were singing their songs, and playing their tunes.
“It sure is lively here.”
When she said that, a voice called over.
“Well of course it is. When an adventurer’s earning money, then so are the merchants and craftsmen and harlots. We’re not earnest enough to fight days on end without any entertainment.”
When she turned around, she say a blond-haired man with slackened eyes. At his waist hung a one-handed sword with a conspicuously long hilt.
Lightly armored, and giving off the aura of a womanizer at but a glance. Miranda dealt with him with a smile.
“What business do you have with me?”
He also greeted her smiling. He put a hand to his waist, clenched his right, protruded his thumb, and pointed it at himself.
“I’m Albano. I was just in the mood to get to know a pretty woman. Well, while I’m at it, I also have something to talk about with your leader.”
When Miranda slackened her arms, and took a stance as if to draw her weapon, her conversation partner frantically persisted it was a joke.
“Don’t get so angry! I really do want to meet your leader! It’s your first Labyrinth mission, right? I don’t want things to get into a mess, so I wanted to take the initiative, and talk things out.”
When she moved her hands away from her weapons, her opponent seemed relieved.
(He looks like he takes things slow, but he sure reacts fast. And he might be quite strong.)
Miranda gave that judgement, and he began to explain the situation.
“Boss Alette is fundamentally here to train up her men. Money-wise, she’ll be fine as long as she doesn’t go into the red. I’ll follow her orders, with her being boss, but any more is uncalled for. To us, she’s a commander to rejoice over.”
After watching the man give his explanation, Miranda spoke.
“And what exactly is It you want from us? If you’re here to cut our profit, I really don’t want to refer you.”
Albano dismissively waved his hand.
“I’m telling you, that’s not it. Boss Alette’s seriously battle-oriented. We’re mobility, or how should I put it, recon-specialized. Well, Well, I’m sure you can tell, you give off the same feeling and all.”
Looking over him, Miranda could tell he was the same sort of unit. Plenty of tools on him, skilled in removing and setting traps. And lightweight garments easy to move around in…
(Come to think of it, all his men were extremely lightly armored. So his entire party is specialized for something like that?)
“So I don’t want you guys to go too far ahead, and stir up trouble. There are some traps and plenty of things I have to leave to you guys, and you don’t want to make an enemy of me or Alette. There’s profit in it for all. You can even confirm it if you want. I’m fine with meeting him when all’s said and done.”
Thinking he was a diligent man unbefitting his appearance, Miranda confirmed something.
“You’ll do that much? If you want us to confirm it, I can send Lyle over to your place.”
Albano made a reluctant expression.
“Now that would be troublesome. They’re not all as mannered as me. Even if they don’t have ill-intent, there are some things that riles them up. Because of that, we’ve gotten into quite a fight with that Creit. And the Boss’ mood’s taken a turn for the worse.”
It seems he did have his reasons when he came over himself.
(Not that I can call you too well-mannered either. But any worse than that really will be a problem. Perhaps he’s decent if he’s at least mindful of that.)
Miranda didn’t feel he had said any lies, but she decided to check anyways.
“I’ll go to Alette-san’s place to confirm it. After that, we’ll meet again. I’m sure I can find you in this base if I look hard enough.”
It wasn’t a large town.
It was merely a small space that held the functionality of one. Not that there were any other villages around to compare it with.
“Fine by me. Then let’s make it tomorrow morning. I’ll be watching the entertainers tomorrow. We’ll have work right after that, and I want to enter the Labyrinth after I’ve explained it out with him. By the way, what was your name?”
“It’s Miranda. Well then, if everything you said was true, then we’ll meet tomorrow. I’ll bring Lyle along.”
After his business was finished, Albano walked off.
While he looked ill-natured, it seemed he at least had enough ability for the guild to recognize him.
(It’ll be different from that Gryphon Subjugation at Centralle. This time, those around us are already used to it, and we’ll be the ones learning a thing or two. Even so…)
Miranda walked towards where Porter was stationed.
The tent prepared there was the place Lyle’s party was to sleep. This time, Porter wouldn’t be able to enter the Labyrinth itself, so it was going to be used as housing.
When she got closer, she found the other members inspecting the supplies received from the guild.
They were food rations, bread, dried meat, and the like.
Monica was seriously thinking over how she was going to cook them.
Lyle was helping Clara check over the Mini-Porter Porter mimic.
May was lying down over Porter’s roof, and letting out a yawn.
Eva displayed interest to the songs drifting through the air, and Novem was cautioning her as she fidgeted restlessly.
Tired from the trip alone, Shannon was limply hanging her legs out of Porter’s loading tray.
Novem was going over their luggage with Eva.
And Miranda looked at Novem’s staff.
(Purchased in Beim, she says? Why was there a need for her to lie about something like that?)
The metallic silver staff boasted quite a simple make. The area to hold it was carved of black-stained wood.
Silver extended from the wood on both ends, and the upper portion of it also had quite a simple design as far as magicians’ staffs go.
She remembered Lyle’s reaction shen he first saw it.
『Ah, that one looks like Novem’s old staff.』
What part of it? Miranda didn’t ask such a question to confirm it, but she knew from the information dealer that she had accepted something staff-like from her family.
(There’s a possibility it’s something different, but the timing matches up too well.)
Miranda couldn’t help but be wary of Novem.
And Novem calmly turned to face her.
It was as if she had noticed her from the start.
(… Someday, I’ll peel off that human skin of yours, monster.)
As she returned to her comrades with a smile on her face, Miranda had such a thing on her mind…