Early in the morning, regardless the fact I was on break, I found myself dealing with a guest.
It’s a good thing it was a break day, but what was he planning to do if I intended to challenge the Labyrinth?
Before my eyes, across the table, Creit-san sat with a smile as he continued his consultation.
“Carrying luggage to the fifth floor? We will?”
Creit-san had his back-swept hair cleanly set so early in the morning as he sipped the tea Monica put out.
“That’s right. The truth is, they’re using up materials faster than expected, so they’ve put up an additional request to get some more sent down. And so, I heard you were on friendly terms with Alette-dono, and I came to ask your assistance. Ah, by the way, this is an official request through the guild. Oh my, this tea is good.”
When Creit-san complimented her tea, Monica didn’t reply in her normal tone. She silently gave a light curtsy.
(It would be nice if she was regularly that quiet. No, on the contrary, that would be scary.)
While consenting she was best as she was, I felt a little uneasy over whether I could fulfill the request for assistance.
“Can you not fulfill the request with your party alone, Creit-san? Your reward will drop otherwise.”
Crossing his arms, he made a complicated expression.
“The truth is, I’ve heard Marina-dono has been rampaging around the sixth and seventh floors. Albano’s just surfaced himself, and he won’t be entering the Labyrinth for the next few days. Using the money he worked so hard for to play around, he’s ignoring his important duty, that man!”
Creit slammed his fist down on the table, but if you’d let me have my say in it…
“No, break days are important, I believe. So what’s this all got to do with transporting luggage? My party is…”
Besides Monica, Miranda was on standby in the tent to confirm the contents of this time’s request. She was sitting quietly in her chair and smiling, but I had no idea what she was thinking under that.
Creit-san showed the guild paperwork to me.
“Tomorrow, we’ll have to bring this great an amount of cargo. There’s also guarding on the way to take care of, but more so than anything, Lyle-kun, your party has Porter, so it’ll all work out!”
He smiled and told us it would work out, but even if you called it a Porter, it was the downgraded Mini Porter.
It’s been improved upon, but it’s not like it could carry that much baggage.
(Carrying cargo to the fifth floor, and then the trip back. What’s more, with this request… if we do help out, we’ll face a deficit.)
The reward was definitely a monetary sum I could be satisfied with.
For carrying supplies to the fifth floor, I wouldn’t mind doing it for that amount. But it wasn’t the sort of request we could accept.
Too much to carry, and too little support made us unsuited to the task.
“Guard duty aside, this one is impossible for us. If it’s guarding you’re asking for, that’s another story.”
When I said that, Creit-san stood.
“What are you talking about. The party led by I, Creit needs no guarding! Just carry the cargo with some peace of mind.”
No really, we aren’t suited to the task…
I put together the information I knew about sweltering Creit-san, who wouldn’t listen to people when they were trying to speak.
If I had to think of why he’d bring this request to us, of all people…
“… Meaning you won’t recognize any party that wasn’t officially permitted to enter the Labyrinth. No, there are plenty of parties out there who’d take up a request like this one, I tell you. And wait, why did you even bring the pinned up request flyer with you?”
From the Jewel, I heard the Sixth’s voice. Along with enervation, his voice held some irritation.
『Oy, this guy’s that. The no-good type.』
Rather than no-good, it looked as if he was going around in circles.
(Come to think of it, Alette-san did say he was one of the peculiar ones.)
I get the feeling the narrow-eyed man said something similar, that he was s troublesome one in a different sense than Albano-san’s party.
The Third let his voice.
『If he gets a definite place to work, he looks like he’d carry out his job earnestly, but… honestly, what’s this about him bringing the request flyer along with him?』
But there, the Seventh.
『… Lyle, why not take this request with small numbers? Isn’t it perfect for you? You’ll get to see how another party makes its way around the Labyrinth up close. What’s more, his is a party recognized by the guild. Watching him will surely be a learning experience. If he’s no good, just learn from bad example.』
I felt like sighing, but it’s true it was just luggage carrying with guads already included.
It shouldn’t be a problem if we go in small numbers.
(If it’s carrying supplies, that would be Clara. But I want to let her rest, so that’s a no go. Both Eva and May have had nothing but playing around on their minds since they got back… If I’m taking anyone, it’ll have to be Aria and Miranda, I guess.)
The next time I went into the Labyrinth, I planned to start earning on the seventh floor for real. There were some necessary preparations for that sake, so I had taken an extended break.
(We have to go fully ready to get wet, so we won’t be getting anywhere without the proper gear.)
We’d have to wear water-resistant suits, or I felt we’d end up catching colds from the breeze.
(But I’m free until those arrive, so it would be most productive to see how other parties manage.)
I ended up accepting his request.
“Understood. But we have our own plans, so having everyone participate isn’t possible. We’ll send in three, me included, to carry your cargo.”
Hearing that, Creit-san made a difficult face.
“T0three? Could you at least make it six? It’s quite a bit of a load we’re talking about here.”
I said I wanted to have my comrades rest, to ward off his proposal.
“We have our own situation, and we’ll properly transport the requested items. Could we meet tomorrow morning at the entrance to the Labyrinth?”
“Understood. We’re the ones asking a favor here. We’ll put up with it.”
Hearing that, the Fourth was considerable irritated.
『Put up with it? Oy, what’s this one saying? We’re the ones putting up with you! Lyle, decline the request at once!』
But here is where the ancestors’ oppinions diverged.
The Sixth too.
『Denied it is. There’s no point in helping a guy like this.』
But the Fifth was different.
『No, go for it. Up to the fifth floor has already been cleared, so the monsters are few in number. No matter what happens, Lyle will be able to cut his way through it. That knight called Alette said there was a bit of a problem with him, so it’s not a bad idea to confirm what that is while you’re at it.』
The Third agreed with him.
『Right. You’ll be affiliated with the same guild from now on, so it’s not bad to learn what’s wrong and what’s right. It’s just, I’m also curious as to why the guild recognized them in the first place.』
For once, it was the Seventh to bring everything together.
『Well then, let us go with majority vote.』
The Fourth and Sixth both let out vexed voices.
『… Seriously, just don’t get involved with it.』
『There’s definitely going to be a problem…』
I paid little mind to the voices of the Jewel as I went into the finer details with Creit-san.
After Creit-san had left the tent.
I called over to Miranda and Aria.
I told them there was a sudden request, that there was a reward for it, and that I wanted them to participate.
Of course, if they declined, I was prepared to take it on alone.
Aria put on a blatant display of reluctance, but she seemed a little happy for some reason.
“Eh~ I really don’t want to… but, if you’re asking like that, then I guess there’s no helping it.”
Miranda had been listening to the discussion with Creit, so she just shrugged her shoulders as if she’d given up.
“I don’t really mind. This vacation’s been so long, my body’s getting dull after all.”
Within all that.
Monica produced some tools from within her skirt, and began putting together another Mini Porter unit.
Complaining all the way.
“… For me not to join in on the fun… And I’ve only gone in a single time… I can’t even try out the repertoire I thought up for the Labyrinth… goddamn it, slicked back bastard…”
Seeing her precisely piece together the second Mini Porter within her rage, I…
“We’ll be back within the day. Could you prepare the modded parts for new Mini Porter by then? I’m counting on you, Monica.”
When I intentionally offered some forced praise, Monica looked at me as if she were being made fun of.
“Hah, as if I’d be taken in by such obvious compliments. Super high-spec Monica isn’t that cheap. Can’t you at least offer an incentive to it? Like, ‘you can climb into my bed on occasion’?”
Saying that, Monica started working at a pace even faster than before.
Seeing that, Aria quietly mumbles.
“… No, you were taken in hook line and sinker. What a cheap woman.”
But Miranda pointed at her, and smiled.
“When’s the last time you looked in a mirror, Aria?”
She said and laughed.
Leaving Mini Porter’s additions and modifications to Monica, I walked through the town.
The town that developed considerable was divided neatly into districts, with a large street running right through its center.
Seeing that, the ancestors.
『It would be a better use of your time to see the technology that did this up close. Just forget about that Crepe.』
For a while now, the Fourth’s grumblings had been quite terrible.
(It’s not Crepe, but Creit… well, that doesn’t really matter.)
And as I was walking, I noticed a group I’d never seen before working around the town’s entrance.
(Who are they?)
When I approached, I recognized them as a number of magicians, and a receptionist of the guild. They were discussing something with a man who looked to be a craftsman.
The guild receptionist.
“Well then, build the facility here. We’ll also build up a watch tower, so please work with that in mind.”
One of the magicians.
“We’ll do an extent on our own. The finer details, and the finishing touches can be left to your slaves.”
Hearing the word slaves, I looked back at the people working.
The craftsman-esque man spoke.
“Leave it to me. I’ve brought plenty of lively ones along.”
The slaver I imagined were thin folk wearing ragged clothing, and being forcibly worked to the bone.
When I heard slaves were sold in Beim, I was sure that would be the reality…
The Third spoke from the Jewel.
『Well, that’s about what you’d expect.』
Feeling a little let down, I listened to his murmur, and wentand asked the guild receptionist who had come off in my direction.
“Um, those people are slaves, right?”
There, the receptionist put his hand to his chin and looked at me, before… smiling.
“Ah~, so that’s what this’s about. No, my apologies. There aren’t too many people in beim who’d ask such a thing. Yes, sure enough, they’re slaves.”
The receptionist looked at the slaves.
I also directed my eyes at them.
“Hey, what do you think they’ll put out for lunch?”
“Well it’s winter, but we’ve been having a good harvest, so there’s that.”
“I want to go play, but money is…”
They mumbled complaints as they carried out their work, only to be shouted at by the craftsman-ish man.
“Oy, you guys! Hurry up and do your jobs already! Even I want to play around! I’ll treat the hardest worker at the bar. So do your work properly!”
But the slaves…
“Ale, is it…”
“I’d prefer women.”
“This time’s foreman is a bit petty.”
I looked at them.
(What’s all this about?)
That was my frank impression. The stories all had them receiving terrible treatment, and being rescued by the gallant protagonist.
But the scene before me was different.
Normal men were wearing normal clothing, and doing work quite normally.
The guild receptionist smiled as he explained.
“Well, in a sense, they’re the same as adventurers. Though what they’re offering is time and toil. Around this time of year, there’s little to be earned in agriculture, so there are some people who become slaves in order to work. They go back to their lives before spring comes around.”
The Third spoke.
『Isn’t that just temporary indentured labor?』
“Then what makes them slaves?”
When I said that, the receptionist scratched his face with the tip of his finger.
“Well, there’s harsh examination given to those dealing in slaves. Rather than haphazardly going off to work for someone looking for labor, going through a person dealing with slaves more definitely secures the necessities of life. The fact that the pay is properly given beforehand is the greatest reason. There are times when one goes bankrupt and become a slave, but they’re bought off for quite a high price if there’s work to be found. There’s a mountain of work you can do if you know how to read write, and calculate after all.”
Meaning rather than normally working for someone out recruiting, it was a safer bet to go with a slave trader who’d undergone a harsh examination.
(… Well, if you think about it, it’s natural they offer the necessities of life. They’re going to put you to work after all… but there’s something off here…)
When I was thinking over it, the receptionist laughed and spoke.
“Ah, could it be you were imagining a cute slave? If you want me to put it bluntly, the cute ones are a cheap buy. As expected, it’s men that are sought out for manual labor. And if you spot a beauty on the market, you’d best watch yourself. Employing a woman who’d fallen to slave-hood, there are men who’d found they’d lost everything they’d owned, apparently.”
If I was looking for a normal woman, then commuting to the brothel was the best option, the man said as he walked off.
For some reason, I got the feeling I heard something about slave circumstances I didn’t want to hear.
(So there are no protagonists in these lands to save a pitiful slave. I didn’t want to know that…)
The next day.
Having received a shock from reality, I took the two Mini Porter Units, and loaded the cargo onto them.
They were forcibly crammed into the golems, but even that wasn’t enough, and I had to carry the excess.
What we were transporting was mostly pertaining to medicine.
And we moved with Creit-san’s party protecting us on all sides, but…
“Isn’t this slow? And wait, it is, isn’t it?”
Both Aria and Miranda were shocked at the movement speed much lower than imagined.
Miranda stroked her hair and spoke.
“They’re definitely strong, and reliable, but… metal plate armor, and a full set on everyone. Their movement speed is ridiculously slow. Lyle, why not use a Skill?”
Being told that, I shook my head.
“No matter how you look at it, letting Creit-san’s party know I have a Skill to compensate for their weakness serves no purpose. No rather than that, it would become a hell of a pain.”
It’s just, while their mobility was low, their equipment was in order, and if you looked at party balance, they were quite proficient.
The front lines members had a large shield a spear and an axe on their main arms, and some had maces as reserves. The members supporting from the rear were set to rotate with the ones up front, and were just as armed.
And of the remaining ones, one held a bow, while the other carried around a staff. Perhaps in a lack of clear judgement, the archer stood out in his metal-based armor, and the mage also carried heavy-looking equipment.
Surrounding their support, they proceeded with three protecting the front, and three protecting the back.
The Fifth looked at them.
『In a sense, aren’t they right? While metal armor has a lot of demerits, you’ll rarely ever get injured.』
And in truth, whenever the party came in contact with monsters, they easily crished them while ignoring their attacks.
Putting an explosive sum into equipment, it was a party that specialized in nothing but attack and defense.
Aria looked at Creit-san’s party’s equipment.
“Those’re mostly Magic Tools, aren’t they? What’s more, I really get the feeling it’s all offense and defense Skills.”
Aria put a hand to her hip, and looked at her own short spear tiredly.
Miranda, on the other hand, looked at their support.
“They’re faithful to the fundamentals. But…”
There, I heard Creit-san’s voice.
We were on the second lower level.
A little further, and the vast room surrounding the entrance to the third one would be before our eyes…
“Okay, it’s time! Find a nearby room to take a rest!”
He lifted the face plate of his helmet, and smiled as he gave those orders to his comrades.
The Sixth was fed up.
『No, there’s quite a nice and wide room you could use, you know? Just bear with it a little longer, and you’ll be there in no time, you know?』
The Seventh uninterestedly.
『There really should be a limit to a lack of flexibility.』
『… Lyle, I don’t recommend you learn from example here.』
I felt their fatigue as I looked to Aria and Miranda.
“We’ll follow the leader’s orders. And wait, we’re just baggage carriers here, so… yeah, sorry for taking you along.”
Aria let out a sigh.
“It’s fine. Today’s that, you know. It’s the first time I’ve been glad that you’re our leader, Lyle.”
Did she just inadvertently say something quite cruel? While I was thinking that, Miranda smiled.
“Ah, I have to agree with that one.”
I looked at the two girls laughing to one another.
(Eh? Am I really that bad?)
I thought I was at least more decent that Creit-san, but I was starting to get quite anxious over that one.