After loading aquatic Porter and one of the other Porter with the necessary supplies, I used the Skill 【Box】 to shut them away.
At just a glance, it looked like we were only equipped to venture to the fifth floor, and defeat the monsters around there.
With me maneuvering the remaining Mini Porter at the center, we planned to use the machine’s lantern all the way through.
Until we breached the fifth floor, we decided to ignore monster materials. Even if we were to collect something, it would only be the magic stones.
The preparations done, I turned and reconfirmed this mission’s participants.
Miranda borrowing a spear from Aria.
Of the five of us challenging it, Monica was in especially high spirits.
The night before, I even saw her happily polishing a hammer larger than the one she made back in Arumsaas.
Everyone was wearing clothing easy to move around in, and we had removed as much metal armor as possible. Taking the seventh floor onwards into consideration, we wrapped our body in leather-based armor.
The fact that such armor had low feasibility past that point was something we’d confirmed ourselves.
When we woke up early in the morning, and got all our preparations in order, Shannon stood around sleepily.
May lay flat over Porter’s roof, looking over us.
Eva was confirming the details of their meals with Monica.
“Make sure to properly preserve the food left behind. The Chicken Dickwad even went out of his way to produce ice for you. And eat starting with the things that go bad easily. If you somehow end up running out, make it yourself, or go out and buy something.”
“I know all that already, but you know about May’s food expenditure, don’t you? Will this really be enough?”
Eva worriedly looked between a bag of gold coins, and May atop Porter.
“It’s alright. If I don’t have lunch, I’ll scavenge the area. I’ll just throw this out there, but I’ve lived a much longer life than the lot of you.”
Her youthful appearance was deceiving, but she was at least over eighty years old. Of all else, she was a personal acquaintance of the Fifth Generation Head in the Jewel.
Novem spoke to Eva.
“Well then, I’ll leave the rest to you. And please don’t concentrate too much on the songs.”
Eva raised some troubled laughter, as she retreated a little.
(So Novem hit the hammer on the head.)
Finally coming out of the tent, Clara spoke to us.
“Don’t worry; once you return, I’ll report everything that’s happened. You guys should be careful too. Also, here’s the requested item.”
I accepted a book from her, and gave my thanks.
“Thank you. Well, we’ll work hard to let you hear a good report from us.”
I nodded, and started walking in the direction of the Labyrinth.
I pulled Mini Porter behind.
Miranda and Aria called out to Shannon before going off, while Novem to May and Eva.
It should have been a pleasant scene, but I felt a large wall erected somewhere.
The Fourth in the Jewel let out a bit of a troubled voice.
『Yeah~, at this rate, the atmosphere of the party is going to finalize itself like that. If there was some sort of trigger, it may end up differently, though.』
I also wanted to do something to resolve the present situation, but I didn’t know the means, so I’d yet to act.
(I really do want to do something, though.)
Is the fact there haven’t been any frontal confrontations yet a good sign, or would it resolve if they went at one another… I just didn’t know.
Entering the Labyrinth, I used 【Map】 and 【Search】 on top of the movement speed elevation Skill 【Speed】 to avoid battle as much as possible, while moving along the shortest possible route.
Differing from when we’d tread through with Creit-san’s party, it was a speed that both Miranda and Aria were satisfied with.
“As I thought, it’s a good feeling to be going at this pace.”
The one to agree with Miranda was Aria.
“Last time was so slow, that it makes this one feel much faster than usual.”
In my head.
(No, I think that’s also partly because I’m using a Skill.)
“Was Creit-san’s party really that slow?”
After a brief silence.
Aria sent a troubled glance to Miranda, and Miranda forcedly pushed back the hair hanging past her ear.
Saying only that word.
The Sixth, perhaps recalling something unpleasant, spoke in a quivering voice.
『Stop it… put a stop to this atmosphere.』
He said something like that.
When I was about to explain it to Novem, Monica jumped into the conversation.
“What a f***ing pain this is. More so, you’re making the Chicken Dickhead shake, so I’d appreciate you don’t scare him so. How about you girls try thinking in the godforsaken bastard’s shoes for a moment? His flimsy mentality isn’t strong enough to endure the grating tensions between women!”
I won’t say she’s wrong, but for some reason, I felt like objecting.
When I was about to reply, the Fifth stopped me.
『Do not enter this conversation. It’ll bring nothing but trouble.』
I touched the Jewel to see if any of the ancestors had an idea to break through the situation, but…
The Third spoke.
『Among our numbers, the ones with a harem were the Fifth and Sixth. When the two of them can’t give any helpful advice, asking us for an opinion on the matter is… well, it’s fun to be on the observing side here, so have at it.』
It doesn’t seem he had any intentions of giving advice.
(What, so the wisdom of my forefathers runs short when it comes to women!)
When I became a little irritated, the Fifth tiredly:
『… Once is enough, but you have to make an environment where they can talk it out for real. Where you yourself aren’t there, or where you can’t have a say in it, that is.』
There, the Fourth.
『… Why not just use Connection?』
To show my refusal, I tapped the Jewel with my fingertip, and rolled it. The reason being Connection… had a need to form a link, and to form that Mana Line, required a contact of mucous membranes.
In terms of kissing, it needed a deep adult one.
To create a space for all of them to talk, I’d have to go around kissing them all… wouldn’t that just fan it further?
So within that grating atmosphere, we arrived at the stairs to descend down to the third floor.
Another group was ascending, so we opened up the road for them.
The other party was Alette-san’s.
(What’s this feeling? In this strained atmosphere, Alette-san looked simply dazzling. But she’s quite worn out… did something happen?)
She was making a bit of a fatigued expression, and her men’s movements looked more weighed down than usual.
“Alette-san, what happened?”
When I raised a questioning voice, she looked at me, and smiled.
“Oh, Lyle-kun. Perfect timing. We’re on the way back here, so could I ask the way up? Simple directions are fine. The truth is, we’re exhausted.”
Hearing that, I took out a memo pad, and drew up a simple map.
While I was doing that, Alette-san’s party took a rest. They sat around, and seemed pained.
With a bitter smile on her face, Alette-san explained.
“The truth is, we defeated the seventh floor’s boss. But that’s where it became troublesome, you see.”
“Was it strong?”
She shook her head.
“Not an enemy we couldn’t beat. But we caught a glimpse of the eighth floor, and going on would require a boat. Albano’s party determined it impossible, and they’re currently taking on monsters in the seventh floor.”
Water above the hips.
There were places where water even rose further than the chest, and it seems they had quite a share of trouble reaching the boss’s room, and defeating it.
“We’ll have to make preparations after surfacing. Gathering up some timber, and making boats or rafts. Anyways, this is a troublesome Labyrinth. It really will be a saving grace if it ends at ten floors.”
The tenth BF was something the guild could tell from what they’d gathered. It could be a measurement error, and there was even a possibility it was shallower than that.
But if it kept going down, that would be quite a trial.
Finishing up the map, I handed the memo to Alette-san.
“Here you go.”
“Thanks. Unfamiliar battles sure are tiring. Saying we had to reach the surface in all due haste, we pushed ourselves a bit… we’ll be on rest for a while.”
Rather than the strength of the monsters, it was the troublesome elements of the Labyrinth that had her party so hard-pressed.
But watching them start up movement again, Miranda approached me.
“Well isn’t that nice? The eighth floor is untouched. I’ll bet there’ll be mountains of treasure.”
When she said that in a joking tone, I.
“That’s what I’d hope for… we’ll take a night’s rest on the sixth floor. Let’s challenge the eighth tomorrow.”
Seeing everyone nod, I descended the stairs.
After staying a night on the sixth as planned. On the second day, we stood in the room the seventh floor’s boss had been before us.
With water up to my lap, I pulled my sabre, and issued orders to my comrades.
“Miranda, Aria, stand back. Don’t move either, Monica. Novem!”
Around us were frogs that looked like they had taken up human shape- Frogmen- and they stood with shield and spear up high.
With the water level so high, everyone’s movements were slower than usual.
I could use the Fourth’s 【Up n’ Down】 to gain favorable battle conditions. But in order to see just how strong the enemies were, we fought in our initial states.
Novem held up her staff.
When she used magic, sharpened edges of wind came down on the monsters.
A strong breeze blew over the cave, and the water was hoisted up as well.
The enemy shields and weapons, and even their bodies were torn up, spreading blood around the area. The lantern rocked, and the lighting became unstable, but I confirmed the enemies had perished, and sheathed my sabre.
Aria kept watch, end Miranda put on gloves to recover magic stones from the Frogmen.
Within that, Monica was grumbling off complaints.
“I’m fine even when wet. Having me wear these boots and overalls… yes, you told me to make them, so I went and did it, but for you to have I, Monica, wear one as well… Chicken Dickwad, you don’t understand a thing, do you.”
The reason for Monica’s complaints lay in everyone’s attire.
To make it so we would be fine when wet, I had everyone wear rain gear.
I thought it would make it a little easier to move, but Monica rained me with jeers of, ‘damn pervert,’ when I tried to get her to wear one as well.
She was still quite bitter over it.
“God dammit… I can’t even pull tools from my skirt now, can I. Just what were you trying to accomplish by getting a maid to where something like this?”
I let out a sigh as I walked through the water.
Novem used her hand to stop the shaking of the lantern.
“Look here, getting those fluttery garments of yours wet will bring trouble to others as well! Just think about it.”
“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that one. Waterproofing is a standard feature. And it’ll dry in no time.”
While she swiftly assumed a decisive pose, Miranda spoke up.
“Done. Now next is the boss room. Not that it’s there anymore. From what I’ve heard, this place is like an underground lake.”
That sounded about right.
It was about time to get the supplies out.
Perhaps Albano-san had already drawn out, but there was no one on this floor but Marina and us.
(And what could Marina-san be thinking? There’s no difference between the monsters on this floor, and one above. Is she really just a battle maniac?)
Recalling my encounter with her on the fifth floor, I told everyone to keep their distance.
“Well then, I’ll take out Boat-Form Mini Porter. And wait, should we just call it MkIII at this point? It’s the third unit after all.”
Aria spoke fed-up.
“It doesn’t really matter, just hurry it up. Can we disembark already?”
I shook my head, and snapped my fingers. It wasn’t actually necessary, but it was just something I picked up from watching the Seventh use the 【Box】 Skill.
A magic circle appeared atop the water, and a large box appeared. After it opened its lid, it faded away.
The appearance of the boat brought about some waves, and water splashed up to my stomach.
“We’ll need to ride it past this point. But I’d like to practice some in the next room.”
It was the first time I’d be maneuvering something of this shape, so I wanted to confirm how the 【Golem】 magic would work on it.
Monica took the rubber float that had come out in the box as well, and began equipping it onto the other Mini Porter.
(Can we just connect them with a rope?)
Just pull them along, and drive them when such a need arose.
I tried moving the relatively large boat. When I turned the waterwheel-esque fins on both sides, it began to lurch forward.
I was a bit perplexed with the unfamiliar controls, but I think I could manage.
“Okay, let’s go.”
It looked like Monica had finished her work, so I set foot into the boss’s room.
The eighth floor.
Atop our boat, we proceeded down the Labyrinth that had practically become a canal.
I tried testing out the feel of moving the boat around the vast boss room, and there wasn’t a problem.
I sat at the bow, and surveyed the surroundings.
Behind me say Monica and Novem, while Aria and Miranda were stationed around the center.
“Don’t push it too much, alright? It’ll sink.”
There, Aria turned around.
“Wait, doesn’t that make it defective merchandise? Make it properly, alright!”
Fed up, Monica refuted Aria’s statement.
“Could you not take me for a fool? The fact I made it this far in such a short timeframe is enough to make me want to praise myself. Though I’d rather a Chicken praise me for my efforts.”
I ignored Monica’s fleeting glances, as I used a Skill.
I tried the Fifth’s 【Map】, but…
(This is no good. It will be a bit rough here.)
I switched to its Second Stage 【Dimension】, and the map of the surroundings gained an extra dimension. Suspended in the water, the Skill let me understand our location in three dimensions.
Miranda put her hand on an irritated Aria’s shoulder to prevent her from standing up, and looked around.
“Even so, I thought it would be a pain, but it’s surprisingly easy. We don’t have to walk, and battle is…”
Miranda was still talking, but I raised myself, and stepped onto the floating rectangular boat porters.
The boat rocked, but that wasn’t enough to sink it. It was quite hard to balance yourself on top, though.
I gripped the Jewel in my left hand, and changed its shape to the Bow. When it settled into short bow form, I took a pose as if to draw it back.
There, the string less bow manifested a string and arrow of light, eventually settling at five arrows notched.
Using the Skill 【Select】, I prepared myself for the approaching monsters.
The ones moving freely around the water was a 【Sahuagin】 leading around the Frogmen.
I pulled the bow further, and once I set my aim, I released the arrows.
Each of the five arrows came down on their respective marks, and the moment it had jumped out of the water, the Sahuagin was pierced through the head.
The remaining four arrows changed course, and stuck into the water.
And the Frogmen began to float to the surface.
I returned the Jewel to its original form, and put it back around my neck.
Monica sarcastically clapped her hands.
“Oh~ how splendid.”
Aria looked at me a little dissatisfied.
“Are we really needed here? Past this point, it’s all Lyle, and support would be more than enough.”
I took the oars in hand, and brought the boat towards the floating monster corpses. Taking the nearby book in hand, I confirmed how to strip the Sauhagin’s materials as I got to work.
“That’s not possible. The Mana expenditure is something awful… It sure is hard to strip materials on a boat. Should we just take the magic stones?”
What I received from Clara was a book pertaining to a similar Labyrinth of the past. What sort of monsters were there, and their anatomies were recorded down in it.
It had information about Sauhagin in it, but making precise cuts on a boat was difficult. Even if we pushed ourselves to recover them, the materials themselves didn’t hold enough value.
Novem looked at the monster.
“… It looks like a monster that would appear at sea. Perhaps if we go further, we’ll encounter a greater number of sea monsters.”
It was inside a cave.
Its make was starting to resemble an underground lake, but it was also quite peculiar.
“In that case, will we be hard-pressed with this book alone? But this one should have some info on sea monsters as well…”
Monica looked over the Sauhagin and spoke.
“For lifeforms that live in sea water to be able to survive in fresh water… Well, they’re humanoid, and as long as they can manage to breathe, then perhaps it wouldn’t be a problem. Still, they’re full of errors. Mysterious, or how should I put it. I get the feeling there’s something wrong with them as living beings.”
“I think there’s something wrong with you as an automaton. You’d be perfect if you fixed that tone of yours, though. How about learning from the automatons at Damien’s place?”
“Hmm, learn from those bitches? I’ll just say it, but while they don’t put it to mouth, they’re grumbling and complaining just as much inside. Because they have no interest in any but their master. They’ll insult the hell out of anyone else! With that in mind, Monica, who speaks her mind without hiding a thing must be the greatest maid there is! I’m sure of it!”
She was making a definite facial expression when she said that, but I ended up scoffing.
“No, how about keeping a bit to yourself?”