(043) Monster-less Labyrinth
Haru and I climbed up the wall using a rope ladder lowered at a place not obstructed by any of the threads and leaped off the wall at once into the town.
Then, we ran until we reached the labyrinth.
“Haru, how is it!?”
“Just as Master had deduced, Carol-san’s smell continues into the labyrinth. Also, there’s no scent indicating that she had left so the possibility is high that she is still within!”
“Guh, why? She should know that this would happen if she enters the labyrinth.”
She releases a pheromone that attracts monsters at night or whenever she steps underground where light can’t reach.
The interior of a labyrinth is no exception.
However, how exactly did she enter the labyrinth?
The Carol’s condition should be quite well known in this town. I can’t imagine that the soldiers on the lookout at the labyrinth would overlook her.
“Hey … you, how long have you been on the lookout here?”
“Who are you?”
“Did Carol pass by here?”
“That brat isn’t in the labyrinth.”
The man was feigning ignorance.
The fact that he instinctively thought that the girl named Carol I was referring to was a child (even though she is 16 years old) is one suspicious point.
In addition, even though I asked “Did she pass by here?”, the fact that he declared that “She’s not in the labyrinth” is another suspicious point.
Keeping Carol’s unique ability in mind, she should not be inside the labyrinth so, normally, the person should have assumed that I was asking if she passed by the thoroughfare in front.
So suspicious, or rather, this guy definitely knew very well that Carol is a Temptress and how disastrous it would be if she entered the labyrinth but still let her pass. But, why did he do so?
“It must have been because she was together with Oregeru-sama.”
” ……. !?”
At Haru’s remark, the male gatekeeper’s complexion instantly paled. That’s definitely an act of confirmation.
An easily understood man on par with Haru’s tail.
“Yeah, that’s right. It was an order from noble-sama, I don’t want to imagine what would happen if I refused him. Noble-sama said that he would dive deep underground in an instant and there wouldn’t be any problems but I was thinking that it was bad when I heard that a herd of wool worms was attacking from the east. He dived into the labyrinth with the butler-like man Sebastan and Carol about an hour ago.”
” … I see.”
It was about after I had finished cashing out the gambling parlour’s medals to raise my Commoner experience points and we were in the midst of having our meal. They were most likely making preparations for entering the labyrinth before then.
If that’s the case, there a chance that they have already advanced considerably deep … no, they are together with Carol who attracts monsters so it should be easy to catch up to them.
“Haru, Oregeru is inside so it’s better if you stay here …”
“No, master. You won’t be able to trace Carol-san’s scent without me around.”
“It’s fine if I don’t track them, I can rendezvous with them at the underground 3rd floor. If I forcibly use wind magic to produce upwind at the labyrinth entrance when Carol comes out, the pheromones should not leak out right?”
” … This labyrinth has multiple stairs that lead downward so there’s a chance you might pass them by.”
The soldier guarding the labyrinth told me.
I was told that the Beginner’s Labyrinth in Florence only had stairs at a single location so I was certain that it was the case here as well.
“Master, I’ll be alright so we should hurry.”
” … Very well, we’ll go together until we’re close to Carol and then I can make a guess on Carol’s whereabouts using the movements of the monsters … hopefully, that will work.”
Then, we entered into the labyrinth.
Within the labyrinth, the walls were earth-coloured and the ceiling glowed faintly … the labyrinth in Florence appeared around the same but the number of forked paths was greater than that in the Beginner’s Labyrinth. It seemed like a place that would be easy to get lost in without Haru around.
However, she advanced forward without hesitation … it wasn’t the shortest route but she surely picked the path that Carol had chosen to thread.
Without even reaching the 5-minute mark, we found the stairs leading to the 2nd floor.
It was a 25 floors-deep labyrinth so, at this pace, we would probably take at most 2 hours to be able to catch up to them.
There was another condition as to why this pace was possible.
“There aren’t any monsters at all huh.”
” … Probably, Carol’s skill attracted all monsters in the vicinity and Sebastan-san defeated them all.”
“Oregeru’s aim is leveling up huh … I wonder what kind of job is Noble.”
“I heard that it is a job that is capable of changing into the highest-grade jobs like Paladin and Holy Sorcerer. However, the condition is that a person needs to be a Noble and be a Lv50 Knight to become a Paladin or a Lv50 Sorcerer to become a Holy Sorcerer.”
That’s quite a strict requirement for a job. In addition, it seems like Nobles are able to change job into Apprentice Swordsman and Apprentice Magician right upon birth.
That’s quite a privilege to be able to change job without leveling up their Commoner level.
However, in my heart, the higher job above Noble are not those but,
“Is it possible to change job into Royalty?”
I thought. It’s an amateurish thinking but Nobles should be able to rank up into Royalty.
Elaborating on that thought, I imagined that the Noble job would rise through Baron, Viscount, Earl, Marquis and Duke before becoming Royalty, converting into jobs like King or Emperor. Though, as a Baron’s son, Oregeru’s job is 【Noble】, so most likely the difference between Baron and Viscount isn’t related to jobs. When I murmured that, Haru frowned.
“Master, other than those recognized by Goddess-sama, Royalty are born to the royal family and Nobles are not capable of changing job into Royalty. If somebody overheard you saying that outside, you could be punished for blasphemy.”
” … Is that so.”
That’s scary … blasphemy just by talking about it.
This is a society whereby the Nobles are born among the nobility and the gap between the poor and the rich and the difference in standing can’t be overcome.
Furthermore, the existence of law and administrative jobs solely available to nobles to change job into like the Senior Judge or Senior Political Advisor further informed me of the superiority of the nobles in this world.
… But, something’s strange. I would be convinced if this setup that overly favoured the nobles was a rule made by the nobles, but the ones who constructed the jobs are not humans but a higher being … probably the Goddesses?
I don’t understand why they would support the nobles to such an extent.
To be honest, looking at Oregeru, I feel that nobles put on an air of importance but they don’t appear distinguished to me.
I don’t feel like their character is particularly outstanding nor is their strength particularly notable.
If he had the strength, he could have just challenged Haru to a duel and win to redeem her.
I unintentionally thought of a question.
“Come to think of it, Oregeru wanted to buy Haru right?”
” … Yes, that’s right.”
“Then, why didn’t Oregeru set up a proxy? He could have had the proxy fight with Haru and after the proxy wins against Haru, have the proxy transfer the right of ownership to him so that he can be Haru’s master? I believe a noble should be capable of something like that.”
Haru is certainly strong but it’s not like she possesses inhuman strength.
I don’t see a reason why a noble wouldn’t do so with his amount of influence.
Well, it’s a different story if the power of a Baron is lower that what I have in mind. The peerage of a Baron is the lowest among nobility after all.
” … That … sorry, I’ve never considered that.”
“I see … maybe … Oregeru himself didn’t think of it.”
But, even if it didn’t cross his mind, I feel that his attendant Sebastan would have thought of it.
Or was it that he wasn’t really that interested in Haru.
If that’s the case, maybe he has already forgotten about Haru’s appearance? Maybe he happened to want to purchase Haru on a whim and have already forgotten about it but the people around him are the ones kicking up a fuss?”
“If that’s the case then there’s no need for us to worry but … Haru, is the scent still ahead?”
We descended the 10th-floor steps and arrived at the 11th floor.
However, a single monster has yet to appear.
“Yes, it’s still ahead … it’s alright as long as they have not delved until the 24th floor.”
“What’s there at the 24th floor?”
“According to what I’ve heard, the 24th-floor monsters is the minotaur. In exchange for a wider area, the interval in which monsters appear is very short and the monsters have high HP so it takes time to defeat them even if you are capable of defeating them.”
“I see, so it’s fine if 1 or 2 appear but it would be troublesome if all the minotaurs on the floor head toward them.”
“Yes, let’s hurry!”
… To me, it doesn’t matter at all whether Oregeru lives or dies.
However, it’s definitely not right for Carol to have to go through the feeling of regret if he dies.
Recalling her eyes that wished for her own death, I hastened my steps.
” … Good morning Elise. It’s a great morning.”
” … Good morning Jofre. It’s a great morning.”
One in the afternoon. At a time that is by no means morning, the 2 people woke up.
“At any rate, we sure slept well.”
“I had a great rest … I immediately became sleepy after eating that mushroom.”
The 2 of them, within the undiscovered labyrinth, found 2 mushrooms that grew there and ate them along with grass together with Centaur.
The 2 were unaware that the mushroom was a highly poisonous mushroom but the 2 was also unaware that the grass they ate along with it was an antidote as well.
As a result, they were miraculously not poisoned and successfully replenished their stomachs with nutrients.
However, the antidote was only incapable of neutralising the sleep-inducing component of the highly poisonous mushroom which was why they ended up falling asleep.
Incidentally, no antidote grass remained. Centaur had eaten it all.
“Hey Elise, I’ve been curious about it since yesterday, this sword … there are words written on the back.”
“Ah, there really are. There are words written in white.”
【This sword functions as a seal for a wicked person, one must never touch it. One must never attempt to pull it out.】
That was what was written.
By no means is the literacy rate in this world high, but the 2 of them seemed like they could properly read the words and were lost in thought.
“I wonder what does the ‘wicked person’ mean?”
“Hmm, maybe a devil?”
“A sealed devil huh … to be sealed means to be trapped within right?”
“There’s a devil within the sword?”
“It sure seems cramped. In the past, I was confined in a storeroom but I definitely do not want to experience that again.”
“I feel sorry for the devil.”
… The 2 people nodded.
The thought going on in their minds, was to rescue the poor devil.
“Well then, I’ll pull it out …”
“Be careful Jofre.”
“Leave it to me! I can even properly greet it if the devil comes out!”
“My, my dress is slightly dirty but that won’t offend the devil right?”
“Don’t worry, Elise is a beauty no matter what you wear.”
“Jofre is handsome no matter what he wears too.”
The 2 of them were acting affectionate towards one another as usual but they prioritised helping the poor devil in front of them.
Dust had built up on the sword but Jofre gripped the handle and attempted to pull.
But, the dust on the surface scattered up when he grasped it, irritating his nose.
“Ah … ah … achoo!”
At the same time as his sneezed, he shoved the sword into the pedestal.
It happened then.
The wall with characters written on it cracked in two and a small room appeared in the back.
Jofre released the sword and moved toward the open wall, catching sight of 2 items placed there.
One of the items was a bag.
“Jofre, that’s an item bag.”
“Serious! Isn’t it a super rare item! Furthermore, it looks like an unused item, see, the beads can go in.”
“Eh? Ah, my item can’t enter.”
Jofre was delighted when the marbles placed beside the item bag could enter it while Elise was looking disappointed when her whip was repelled by the item bag. They didn’t even spare a smidgen of thought that they could have made a killing by selling the item bag while it was still unused.
“Elise, it doesn’t matter. What belongs to me belongs to you. We can just both use it together.”
“That’s right Jofre. I was wrong.”
Then, the 2 of them said “Leaving this aside” and looked at the sword.
They had to save the poor devil.
Having that thought, Jofre once again grasped the handle.
“Well then, here I go Elise!”
The moment Jofre pulled the sword out … the floor disappeared.
The next instant, Jofre, Elise and Centaur, 2 people and a donkey fell towards the depths of the abyss.
Jofre had unconsciously chosen the correct choice but then ultimately made the wrong decision.
10 seconds later, only the pedestal and the sword remained in the labyrinth.
However, the role of this labyrinth had already ended. The seal of the wicked had already unravelled.