Invited by Miranda, I went over to the place Alette-san’s party’s tent was stationed.
I had been confirming Mini-Porter with Clara, but no matter what we did, there were still things we had to look over, so I decided to come here, but…
“As I thought, I’m really not interested.”
There, Miranda spoke with a fed-up expression.
“You can’t say that after coming all the way here. Normally, you should have taken care of these matters when you gave the initial greetings.”
Miranda’s words were correct, and I surely did go and give greetings to Alette-san. But I ended up witnessing something outrageous.
Even I have some mercy in me.
“… I can’t harden my heart that much.”
“What are you talking about? See, let’s just go already!”
Miranda approached the person on lookout, and stated our business. After looking at my face, the guard made a blank expression, then a complicated one before heading into the tent.
Miranda looked at me.
“What did you do?”
“… I haven’t done a thing.”
That’s all I could say. But within the Jewel, the ancestors laughed…
『Yep, it’s true; you haven’t done a thing. No lies there. But… you’re finally coming face to face with Alette-chan! I wonder what’s become of the dreaming maiden!』
『In order to achieve favorable grounds to negotiate on, I am starting to believe the Third’s, ‘found any takers yet’ line might be necessary. Lyle, it’s all in the smile, the smile! Make sure you smile to shake up your opponent!』
『Hey, that’s only after you determine what sort of person she is. She may have a delinquent side to her. Tease her too much, and she may turn out like a certain someone’s wife. That one was scary.』
『… Fifth, could you possibly be talking about me? And wait, I really do think you should follow the Fourth’s words, and shake her up to acquire some favorable terms…』
『The Sixth sure did a lot of that in his time, Lyle, make sure you don’t learn from his example.』
I let their opinions slide by as per usual, as I watched the guard from before come out with a dubous expression, and grant us entry.
“… It seems she is willing to meet you.”
Sensing the surrounding atmosphere, Miranda to me.
“Hey, why is the air so tense? You really didn’t do anything, right? Or could it be you were the one getting things done to?”
To her worry, I spoke.
“You’ll understand when you meet her.”
And saying that, we set foot into the tent’s interior.
Within it, were Alette-san, and the tall knight who’d dealt with me the first time.
“U-um… it’s been a while.”
When I said that, the knight cut off the conversation with, ‘it sure has.’ Miranda also gave a, ‘pleasure to meet you~’ as a greeting, but…
Alette-san was sitting in front of a desk with her eyes cast down.
The air surrounding the stage turned strange. She suddenly requested someone to kill her.
Not only that, she began holding her head in both hands, and banging her forehead against the desk.
“Just kill me already! What fun do you find in torturing me so!? That’s right, I’m just a woman who let her marrying years slip by! I mean, there was no helping it! I never thought I’d be promoted there! I never thought work would take up what semblance of free time I had left! There was no helping it… it’s all work’s fault…”
Miranda was smiling, but her expression was cramping up.
The male knight who looked to be her adjutant silently held a hand to his face.
“No, I’m here for a separate matter today–”
“—A separate matter? What? So you’re saying that I’m not even worth it to tease!? If you haven’t come to laugh… then just what purpose could you have come here, dammit!”
The knight couldn’t remain silent any longer, lowering a chop over Alette-san’s head.
“Captain, just get over it already. If you’re like that during the subjugation, then it wouldn’t be strange if some lives were thrown down.”
Alette-san corrected her breathing that had gone into a mess, and cleared her throat.
“S-sorry. It was just too embarrassing for me… now then, what business do you have, Lyle-kun?”
Having calmed down with some deep breathes, she looked like a totally different person that before.
With a swiftly-formed business-like expression, she motioned for us to sit. If that was how she treated me when we first met, I would have unquestioningly held a favorable impression of her.
But the sentiment the current me has towards this woman…
(Just what could it be, these restless feelings.)
… I’m sure it was sympathy.
She was my compatriot who had gone through the same drastic after-Growth symptoms. I decided not to tease her over it.
I sat across the table from her, and as she’s calm down, I got the leisure to take in some of my surroundings.
『Huh! You’re not going to say anything about it? Even when it’s sure to be interesting?』
He put out a disappointed voice, but I ignored it.
The inside of the tent had what seemed to be Alette-san’s belongings, her bed, her armor, and other things of the like. The desk in the very center was large, and it had various writing tools scattered around.
A form of Magic Tool, a lantern gave a steady stream of light to the dark interior.
And equipment-wise, she had assembled some reliable ones.
The one to stand out most among them was probably her large two-handed sword. There’s almost no doubt it’s a an master artisan’s work.
『Rather than an adventurer, it seems she’s a bonifide knight. Just what are these guys? For what sake are they out adventuring?』
All I knew was that they were a knight brigade from somewhere or another. That they were carrying out adventurer work to train up the next generation, and that as long as they were making some sort of profit, they didn’t really care about the rewards.
Miranda explained the situation to her.
“An adventurer named Albano said I’d understand some things if I came to you. Something about not getting in the way of other peoples’ work.”
Alette-san listened and nodded.
“I thought I’d say it tomorrow, but I see. Albano… He must have learned a lesson from that fight with Creit. It’s a good medicine now and again.”
Her tone was a little rough, but she gave off a kind impression.
And she began explaining the situation to us.
“We are adventurers, but one we return home, we’ll be knights. It may be strange to call it a knight’s errantry, but we’ve merely come to Beim to build up experience. Well, it’s something of a tradition. Train your ability in real combat, and go get your own meal ticket.”
She said that in a joking manner, but the Fourth in the Jewel reacted.
『How nice~ That’s a nice one~.』
After explaining her own situation, she began going into Albano-san’s situation.
“There are various reasons, but I think we have a favorable relationship with Albano’s party. In truth, they’re quite reliable in reconnaissance, enemy detection, trap removal and trap placement. It’s not something we wouldn’t be able to take up on our own, but we’ve gotten to leave it to them.”
It seems Albano-san was telling the truth when he said he had permission.
Miranda was a little dissatisfied.
“Meaning you give the front line to them, and leave them alone? You simply let them take all the good parts?”
Alette-san gave a bitter smile.
“Please don’t say it. And I want to quickly clear up the first five floors to let the temporary parties in. After that, you can take responsibility of yourselves, and do whatever you want.”
Hearing that, Miranda narrowed her eyes.
“… The unpermitted parties into the Labyrinth?”
Alette-san smiled at her glare. If I didn’t have that unfortunate image of her in my mind, I’m sure I would be genuinely astounded by how reliable she looked.
And that’s how I wished I was thinking.
“Up to the fifth floor, that is. They went as far as to guard us, so they’d be unsatisfied returning without any profit. Also, the fact that they’re here means that they’re indirectly adventurers we’ve recognized. There will be little chance of them failing miserably and pulling us down.”
But she won’t say there’s no chance at all.
“So should we generally be following behind Albano-san’s party?”
Alette-san shook her head.
“The first three floor have been cleared already, apparently. The apparently is because it’s yet to be determined whether this is one where the bosses revive, or where they won’t appear again. We’ll be having Albano’s group investigate that. And it’s quite a dangerous job. Even if they have the juicy parts, I don’t think it unfair.”
They were proceeding far ahead, and informing the rest of the danger. Their aptitude to dive into such a dangerous place was something Alette-san must recognize.
With this being my first Labyrinth mission, where I’m more just learning the way things go in Beim, there would be no point in me refuting anything here.
“Understood. We’ll try our best to avoid any actions that may hinder or cause trouble to your parties. Well, we’re the newcomers, so there are quite a few things I’d hope you’d teach us, so we’ll follow your words.”
Alette-san smiled as well, and praised me.
“Make sure you treasure those feelings. Being too earnest is a problem in itself. Well, if you’re looking for peculiar ones, among us, it would have to be Albano, Creit, and Marina, perhaps?”
She threw out three names.
(I’ve heard all of them before. And wait, peculiar? More so than Alette-san?)
Miranda pressed further for information on the three.
“So are those three a danger? If they’re to be enemies, I’d appreciate some information on them.”
Alette-san with a smile.
“Unfortunately, adventurers, what’s more acquaintances aren’t on my list of people to sell out. Let’s just leave it at peculiar; there’s not much danger to be found. It’s something to confirm with your own eyes.”
(… If she’s usually this level-headed, it only makes the pitifulness of her post-Growths more prominent. If only I hadn’t seen it, she would’ve look so much cooler…)
I thought it a little unfortunate as I ended the conversation.
The next day, I had brought me feet early in the morning to where a troupe of performers were unveiling their act.
I had come alongside Miranda, but…
“Don’t be fooled, Lyle-kun! That guy’s an outrageous man!”
Black hair tightly swept to the back, with a well-kept appearance, 【Creit Benini】 stuck his finger out at the man I was meeting: Albano.
But I was only really here to discuss not getting in the way of others’ work.
Albano-san had an unpleased expression on his face as well.
The party led by the overly serious Creit-san was the polar opposite of Albano-san’s.
Their equipment consisted of full metal breastplate, gauntlet and sabaton. The weapons they carried included not only spears and swords, but axes and maces as well.
Albano-san was wearing a robe, and the protectors he had attached were all only leather at best. Rather than armor, perhaps he possessed more tools of the trade? That was the sort of impression his attire gave off.
“Creit, won’t you put an end to it already? I’m here talking about business. The boss even told us to clear up to the fifth floor fast as we can!”
To Albano-san’s irritated face, Creit-san directed some vexation.
“Did that person really… a splendid knight as she is, for her not to protect the Guild’s basic rules…”
Miranda spoke to me in a quiet voice.
“Hey, it seems that man looks up to knights.”
The Sixth was a little fed-up.
『Ah, yeah, you find these sorts here and there. At times, it’s ridiculously enervating dealing with one too serious. It’s not a bad mindset, but that’s not what it takes for the world to turn.』
As I thought, he was a troublesome individual.
“… No, what do you expect me to do about it?”
Today was the day we would genuinely begin the conquest of the Labyrinth, and around the town were adventurers walking around with all their equipment equipped.
The performers were looking over us thrilled expressions.
(These ones are the same as Eva. So it’s not like she was an abnormality.)
When I held such an impression, Creit-san cautioned here.
“Get this, Lyle-kun! Those guys are former bandits! What’s more, they’re the sort where breaking the rules is only natural. You must watch your back in the Labyrinth.”
Saying that, Creit-san walked off taking his party along.
Albano-san on the other hand.
“Tsk, I had to meet that man on such a sweltering morning. Even when my tensions were up from having a beauty to talk to talk to… We’re leaving, men.”
“But that damn Creit, he’s still holdin’ a grudge over it.”
“Hahaha, next time, let’s sick a monster on ‘im from behind.”
Unlike Albano-san, his comrades had clearer ill-intent.
Lowering his voice a little, Albano-san.
“… Yeah, yeh, just get a move on. If you’re looking for money to play around, then it all depends on how fast you lot can finish this bloody job.”
While he seemed detached, he had an air threatening enough to lead such a strong-willed group around.
(I’m a little jealous.)
So I decided to return to Porter’s station with Miranda.
“We should get going soon. Though today, we’ll only be getting a feel of what sort of Labyrinth it is.”
Walking beside me, Miranda was…
“With that, all that’s left is the solo Marina-san. What sort of person do you think she is?”
That being said, I shook my head.
I could only pray she wasn’t any more peculiar than the other two.
After we returned to Porter, Eva immediately turned sour when she learned there was a ruckus.
“Why!? Why didn’t you take me along!? How mortifying… it must have been quite an interesting show!”
She was to keep house today, and by the dishevelment of her hair, it appears she truly was mortified.
“No, there wasn’t any fighting or anything.”
When I gave an excuse, she glared at me.
“There’s a trigger in everything! It’s the buildup of these small events that will give birth to meaning somewhere down the road! Ah~ how could this be. Perhaps I should let off a song to relieve stress~.”
The fleeting glances she sent at me looked to be pleading for me to negotiate to let her have the stage.
While I was talking with Eva, Novem cleared her throat.
A warm smile directed at her, Eva reluctantly began to back down.
On the first day, I, Clara, Aria and Miranda would be going in to test the waters.
Novem, Eva, May, Shannon, and Monica would stay here.
Novem directed a smile at me.
“Well then, Lyle-sama… please take care.”
“I’ll do my best not to get injured. Novem, I leave the others to you.”
Saying that, I took Aria and co. to the entrance of the Labyrinth.