Beim’s underground Labyrinth.
Having proceeded to its twentieth level, we secured a supply line with the surface as we spent our days battling monsters.
Using a vast room as our main base, we awaited messengers to come from the surrounding units, giving out orders.
General Blois sat as he spat out a sigh.
“In an environment with enemies coming from all directions, it’s quite a hassle to maintain a collective group. And the units venturing to the surface have it rough too. Collecting up monster materials and Magic Stones, bringing them all the way to the surface only to come back with supply replenishments. So all the adventurers were doing something like this?”
Our large scale was the reason for that, and generally a single party would be able to fulfill all roles. It truly was a hassle, but not the sort of hassle General Blois was thinking of.
“Our scale is just too large, and normally, a smaller group would be able to take care of everything. Well, it really depends on the party, though.”
Blois looked around.
“I’m also starting to lose my sense of time. And while we’re having the injured and post-Growth inflicted rest in a separate room… it really is a hassle. No wonder the adventurers go through so much trouble. They’re pretty much specialists for fighting efficiently in a limited space. If we knew, we would’ve been more wary.”
If they did that, I’d have been troubled, but it’s true the battlefield they fought on was much too different from the soldiers. To such a camp a messenger raced over.
“Message! The second company has found the floor boss! The passage is shaped like…”
General Blois and I confirmed the memo the messenger brought in. Once we handed it to Valkyrie Unit Two, she copied it down on the map.
I looked at the map.
“With this, our map of the twentieth floor is practically complete.”
Touching a hand to his chin, General Blois gazed at the layout.
“… But even if we’ve completed it, the passageways will change at fixed intervals. Give it a little, and this map will become useless. It feels like such a waste.”
I headed for Unit One.
“I’m going out. I’m sure they’ll be able to defeat it if they surround it, but that would be pushing them too far. Have them rest a little before we set out for the twenty first floor.”
I was pretty much just taking out the bosses for them, but unlike with adventurers, the knights and soldiers generally didn’t consider that to be stealing. More so, they felt I was decreasing their work load?
As I took my Katana in my left hand, Unit One in blue armor let her gold twin tails sway a bit as she nodded. Her appearance was similar to Monica, a large difference being the size of their chests… or rather lack thereof.
Professor Damien said it was wonderful.
“I’ll accompany you.”
General Blois stood from his seat.
“When possible, I’d prefer our leader take along some guards.”
I attached the metal fixtures to hang the scabbard from my hip.
“No need. And if it’s this floor, I’ll be able to manage alone.”
Those around looked tiredly at me, but I’d defeated floor bosses a number of times already, so no one said anything about it.
General Blois sat back down, hiding his face with a hand.
“Well I’m sure you can. But we have to maintain things, and it feels as if you’re calling us unreliable.”
I thought a bit, but for now, it was better off without people around me.
“… I’ll do that starting next time. Let’s go.”
As I took Unit One along out of the room, I touched the Jewel. The Third looked at the surrounding knights and soldiers.
『Well, I’m sure it’s no fun. But you should keep your trumpcards hidden to the end. You still don’t know who’s friend and foe around you after all.』
The Seventh held a similar opinion.
『There are some people whose tongues are prone to slip. For the current Lyle, this floor’s boss class monster won’t even be a test of power.』
I wanted to conceal the scope of my power as best as I could for now. Against my father who blocked my Skills as well. Thinking of what was to come, it depended on concealing my hand.
As I walked alongside Unit One, I took the shortest route to the room the Boss waited.
… Count Raebel Bagdia.
Within Rhuvenns castle, he approached all women who had announced their engagement to Lyle, or those with similar relations.
Even if the female camp outside were impossible, he was easily able to meet Shannon and Lianne working in the castle.
And for Monica working as a maid, if you scoured the corridors a bit, you could find her at once.
Lianne rarely ventured out of her own office. Shannon was put to work helping around the castle, and it was relatively easy to find where she was.
The one wary of Raebel as he approached the female camp was Baldoir. Finding Raebel still talking with other knights in the corridor, Baldoir approached.
“Count! What is the meaning of this? At such a busy time, you take part not in training, instead haunting all the castle’s women… why don’t you try avoiding actions that would make some question your fidelity?”
From Baldoir’s point of view, before a leader, Lyle was his lord, and a reliable successor. At present, with the will of his House, he revered the lad as his lord. While Lyle was away, having Raebel make rounds to the women was quite unpleasant.
There, taking two knights along, Raebel shrugged his shoulders.
“Fancy meeting you here, Baldoir-dono. Is that what you thought of me? It saddens me. Even like this, I’m a knight of Bahnseim. What’s more, from a Count House, direct follower of the royal line. It’s unthinkable for my fidelity to be at doubt. And don’t your misgiving imply you trust not our leader’s betrothed as well?”
Baldoir could sense an implicit, ‘when you’re just a retainer of the Walt House,’ embedded into the direct follower part.
“But should we not refrain from misleading conduct? And what reason have you for not taking part in training?”
The reason this scraped-together gather’s fragility stood out was because it was simply too large in scale.
Now that Lyle and Blois were absent from Rhuvenns Castle, they were beginning to slacken. From the start, Blois was a general of Bahnseim with his subordinates in order, and Lyle had painfully drilled how detestable he was on the battlefield into the heads of Bahnseim.
The two of them had achievements, so the soldiers they took in could only keep silent. But with Baldoir, the other soldiers would grow lax.
Rather than a lack of achievements, he hid in Lyle and the others’ shadows, so his merits didn’t really stand out. At the same time, his standing was as retainer to the Walt House, so the surrounding nobles saw him as beneath them.
One of Raebel’s tag-along knights clicked his tongue.
“Che, when you’re just a retainer of the Walt House.”
As he said that, a dangerous atmosphere began to build on the spot. Baldoir had his backbone.
“… And you’re just the remnants of a fallen army, is what I’d like to say. When you were only let live by Lyle-sama’s compassion.”
The air only worsened, and the first to reach for his sword was Raebel’s follower knight.
But then Monica made her appearance.
“Baldoir-sama, Lianne-sama is calling for you. Make for her office in a timely manner.”
When in front of other people, Monica stuck a –sama onto Lianne as well. On her appearance, the four unhanded their hilts.
Raebel spoke in regards to Baldoir.
“We can’t be shedding blood before a lady.”
His attitude was as if Baldoir was the one trying to cut them down, but Baldoir knew he was at a disadvantage three on one. He thought.
(The blood’s gone to my head a bit. I have to keep level-headed.)
As he repented that the hectic days and provocations had chipped away his composure, Monica watched the backs of the parting three. Baldoir looked at her.
“My apologies. I’ll head to Lianne-sama at…”
But Monica spoke.
“No, ‘twas a lie, so pay it no mind. Though I was told to do so. It does not matter if you leave those men to their devices.”
To her words, Baldoir made a serious expression.
“That will cause our discipline to slacken. In truth, their conduct cannot be overlooked, and if things stay this way, by the time Lyle comes back…”
Monica turned her face to Baldoir, expressionless as she spoke.
“There is no problem. It will all be resolved by the time the damn chicken comes back. There will be no problem as long as you carry out your normal duties, Baldoir-dono. And don’t do anything too thoughtless. If anything happens, the chicken dickwad will be saddened.”
Baldoir could only watch over Monica as she walked off…
“There won’t be a problem if we leave them be… it couldn’t be…”
A wide room.
Wider than any of the passages we had walked through, with a high ceiling. The stones embedded in the walls, ceiling and floor glimmered, but they were insufficient, so Valkyrie Unit One had to hold up a lantern.
Against the boss of this large room… the Minotauros, I held my Katana in my right hand as I rushed around.
On top of its body around twice the size of a humans, it was quick on its feet, and it gave of the impression of a solid running wall.
“This one would’ve given us some deaths. Even if I sent them at it, if they don’t solidify their vanguards, the casualties would become something terrible…!”
Catching up to me, the Minotauros lowered its giant raised bludgeon towards the floor. Even crashing into the ground, the club didn’t break, the floor gouged out instead.
But given the time, that floor would restore itself to normal. Even so…
“It looks like it can’t be anything but wood. Is that really a club?”
When I voiced my question, the Minotauros swung its bull head to the side, opening its large mouth. Its saliva was flung as its red eyes looked as if they were glowing.
There were a number of wounds over its body. Wounds I had inflicted.
From the Jewel, I heard the Third’s voice.
『Good thing it’s a tough one. Makes the perfect practice dummy. Now then, Lyle.』
Hearing that, I concentrated myself. Concentrating, I activated a Skill.
Unable to avoid its horizontally swung club, I used the Seventh’s Skill to teleport and position myself behind the beast. I saw sparks scatter as the cudgel grazed the floor, but aiming at the Minotauros’ head, I lowered my blade.
“Still too shallow.”
An attack right after teleportation. It looked easy, but it was ridiculously hard in practice. The Seventh offered me some advice.
『That was better than before. Keep at it to get the knack. Well, it’ll probably still be hard to use it consecutively.』
It was originally the Seventh’s Skill. From its owner’s eyes, it couldn’t be helped that I looked shoddy. For if someone besides its original owner used a Skill, the Mana consumption and even the burden to use it greatly increased.
It already consumed a large quantity of Mana, and it held a large burden. It was originally the exclusive Skill of a single human. It would be stranger if there wasn’t a problem with someone else forcibly using it.
From the Minotauros’ nape down his back, I was able to cut in a few centimeters, drawing a slightly-diagonal line a meter in length, but my foe showed no signs of falling.
Raising a roar, it spun around, swinging the back of its left hand at me.
I carefully caught it in midair, using my opponent’s force to take a large amount of distance.
In the place I was set to land, Unit One circled around to arrive beforehand. She had spread out the wing-like binder on her back, and she would likely protect me if I was rendered immobile.
To her, I…
“Number three doesn’t feel right in my hands. I already tested number four, so get me number five.”
Opening her binder a little wider, there were a number of Katanas tucked away in it. Among the swords bundled together, she picked out number five and handed it to me.
I handed the one in my hand over, I instantly started moving, drawing the Minotauros’ attention, and restarting our game of chase.
The Third paid some mind to my Katana.
『You prepared a few subtly different ones, but is it number five after all? Just looking from here, it looks like its attacks are the sharpest.』
Among the ones I’d used, it’s true number five felt right. I had tried testing the others, but there was no doubt five was the best. The sensation when I held it, and the feel when I cut… they all came to me nicely.
“When I get back, I’ll have another forged with number five as the base. But before that…”
Turning towards the Minotauros chasing me, I waited for him to attack… and used the Skill Warp to move instantaneously.
As I’d repeated the same thing a number of times, the monster was learning, and it immediately swung its cudgel around backwards.
“Sorry to say, I’ve already grasped the trick to it.”
The encroaching club swiped through empty air. Having moved to a slightly higher point, I fell as I used the sword to draw a line across the Minotauros with its eyes open wide…
Its head twirled through the air.
Landing, when I tried returning the Katana to its sheath…
“Ah, this is the wrong scabbard.”
It didn’t fit. I called Unit One over, and left the Katana with her. Blood pouring from its neck, the Minotauros’ body fell backwards, as the stairs to the next floor manifested at a dead end.
Unit One retrieved the sword from me, carefully wiping the blood off its blade before returning it to its correct scabbard.
“Splendid work, master.”
I looked at her face.
“Calling me ‘master’ with the same face as Monica… it feels really off.”
The same face as Monica. But as she wasn’t yet capable of expression, she always looked unimpressed. However, a Monica that didn’t call me a chicken dickwad… yeah, something was off here.
There, Unit One spoke.
“It would be troublesome if you lumped me together with that pile of junk. If you hate that scrap metal, you could keep me by your side, you know.”
While she couldn’t show expression, she was still an automaton. The same sort as Monica. I’m sure that whether automatons were broken or not, they’d have this sort of personality.
“Just what were the ancients who made you all thinking when they gave you that personality…”
The mysteries of the ancients only deepened. Well, not that it was relevant to the me of today.