In the meantime, Maria touches my arms and legs in order to search for any injuries . Are you going to do that after every battle. Maria…….

「Maria, I’m not injured. You don’t have to worry that much」

「N, no, if you don’t care then……」

No matter how I see it, Maria’s worried about my safety to an abnormal degree. It’s probably because if I die then there’ll be no one to stop Lastiara

I stroker her head,「Don’t worry」and smile.

Maria glares at me with a reddened face. She might’ve gotten angry at the childlike treatment. I remove my hand, and once again head deeper into the labyrinth. And then, Lastiara who is walking in front begins talking.

「Hey, isn’t it about time were at the twentieth floor?」

「That’s right. It’s only a little longer」

Up until now Lastiara had been guiding us. That’s not simply because of her personality. From what I heard, Lastiara has experience with mankind’s limit — experience with the twenty third floor. Of course, she mainly moved on the『Correct Path』, but even then there are still monsters that intrude on the『Correct Path』. As we continue going deeper, it tends to happen more often.

It’s reassuring that she already experienced this dangerous journey alone.

Like this, we are pulled along by her unwavering steps and we arrive right before the twentieth floor.

We encountered many monsters, but the MP of Lastiara and me are more than fine.

In case of something happening I keep《Dimension 》on, and like that we easily descend to through the twentieth floor staircase.

What appears ahead is an old room made of stone.

Just like the tenth floor, it’s not a maze, but simply a wide open space. However, different from the tenth floor, there are no blazing flames wreaking havoc on the area. Just as Alty expected, there were no traces of magic left. From the experiments with《Connection》this is the most suitable environment for it.

But―― there is a single problem.

In the middle of this barren space stood two men.

I didn’t think I’d encounter other searchers at these depths.  (TL: translated as adventurer before, literal translation is searcher so I’ll be using that)

One is a good looking man with pure blonde hair. He appears to be older than me, a quiet looking knight.

The other is a man in the prime of his life with streaks of white hair. Above his ocher cloak, the black and white hair that lost it luster shows the difficulties he endured. A sword peeked out of a crevice from his cloak, this one is also a knight.

With caution, I immediately『Observe』.


【Status】

Name : Hein Helvelshine   HP321/333 MP34/102 Class : Knight

Level24

Strength10.21   Vitality8.94 Dexterity9.29   Agility11.88 Intelligence12.21   Magic7.77 Potential1.98 

Innate Skills : Optimal Movement1.21   Wind Magic1.77

Acquired Skills : Swordsmanship2.02   Holy Magic1.23

【Status】

Name : Hopes Joker   HP253/282 MP0/0 Class : Knight

Level20

Strength4.41   Vitality6.25 Dexterity11.72   Agility8.21 Intelligence13.41   Magic0.00 Potential1.12

Innate Skills : Weapon Combat1.89  Maneuvering1.45

Acquired Skills : Swordsmanship0.78   Holy Magic0.00


The golden hair is Hein, and the one with streaks of white is Hopes.

Either way both of their levels are high, and they hold first class ability.

I notice some time after observing. It feels like I’ve seen the blonde hair before. If I recall, it was the first day I came he was together with Lastiara. He only said a few words, but he did stand out.

I direct my gaze to Lastiara, and convey if the men are acquaintances.

「Hmm?」

Lastiara lets out a voice in surprise.

In response, the two in the center get closer and bow.

「We’ve kept you waiting, Mistress」

The first to raise their voice was the blonde haired man.

「Hmm, Hein-san?」

「Eeh, I’m Hein. I’ve come in accordance to my job」

As expected, it seems that they’re acquaintances of Lastiara.

But then Hein-san redirects his gaze from Lastiara to me.

「The boy from that time…… I see, so you are the Mistress’s loved one……」

A mutter. 『Mistress’s Loved One』―― in other words, the same as Radiant-san.

But Hein-san looked at me with a gentle expression. I was anticipating being glare at in the same way as Radiant-san. I can’t read his true intentions. For now, I should correct Hein-san’s misunderstanding.

「No, it’s not like, Lastiara and I are lo――」

「――Hein-san, sorry. I wanted to be together with Sieg no matter what. I want to live together. As you know, my time is short. In that case is it a crime to live together with my loved one for the remaining time?」

Lastiara piles her words onto of mine and stops me from explaining. Her way of speaking returns to it’s polite form from when we met, it was a theatrical tone filled with grief.

As expected, it seems like the situation’s going towards that direction. If possible, I wanted to avoid it.

After hearing those words, Hein-san lets out a large sigh slowly draws the sword on his waist.

「Fuu….. We can no longer see through your lies. But whether if it’s truly for love, or if it’s a lie, or if it’s playing around――What I have to do won’t change 」

「How sad, Hein-san. To think that I’m lying. To pretend to love, that type of embarrassing act, it is not something I can do」

With Lastiara’s realistic acting, tears came out of the corner of her eyes.

Uun, the one who’s in the wrong is this woman. Without a doubt.

I personally want to give Hein-san my full support.

However, I have to be calculating here. In terms of talent for searching the labyrinth, Hein-san is inferior to Lastiara. In addition, as he looks Hein-san is a professional, and Lastiara is a free spirit. When thinking of which one would be more helpful to me, it can only be Lastiara.

In contrast to her realistic performance, Hein-san responds while maintaining his calm.

「It’s because of that indulgence in love, that the ones at the top are in such chaos. We also can’t make big moves. If you negotiate with the council, then you should at least be able to get a month. Haa……, It’s also a problem for the Revan faith」

「I believed I was following the principles. Aah, what a sorrowful misunderstanding」

It’s not a sorrowful misunderstanding. Lastiara shamelessly act sad.

No, more importantly there are problems with the words『Ones At The Top』and 『Council』.Lastiara did say she had a high position herself, but after hearing it from Hein-san, it doesn’t feel like she’s just an ordinary Mistress.

「Thus in a knightly fashion, I’d like to challenge the Mistress to a duel in order to return to the cathedral. In accordance with these measures, it won’t go against the teachings. Then, Hopes-san. Please」

Hein-san calls out to the man with white streaks of hair who stood behind him.

The white haired Hopes-san steps forward with a faint smile. A man that gives a somewhat frivolous impression.

「You got it. But is it fine if Hein-kun doesn’t do it. I thought it was your duty」

「It’s not just any one’s duty, it’s the duty of the『Celestial Knights』. I must keep watch on the mistress. We can’t be negligent. She’s been missing for several days now, so it’s possible that she reached the level of the『Celestial Knights』」

「Well, it’s true that if it’s about watching the young miss then you’re suited for it. ―― Can’t be helped. That lady killer over there, duel with me」

The conversation has finally returned to me. I answer while taking out my sword.

「I’ve said it in the beginning. I have no relation to Lastiara’s loved one. But because we’re companions, I want to grant her dream.  ――That all it is」

I simply wanted to say this. When it’s about love affairs and so on, the hurdle raises for me. I can’t make a performance like Lastiara, so I had no confidence in matching her words.

Therefore, I took distance from the love affair.

「O, oou. I got it. How cool」

Hopes-san who heard my inexperienced words evaluates me as cool in an embarrassing way.

I also think it’s embarrassing so please stop.

In order to not be show my discomposure, I continue talking without wavering.

「Also, I didn’t want this to come to a duel」

「That can’t happen. If we don’t duel, then we’d only be a nuisance to your labyrinth search. We would follow you wherever you go. It may be embarrassing, but this is also part of the job. Sorry about that」

Hope-san answered while scratching his head.

That was no pretense, he truly was sorry, and also though it was troublesome. But even then, from within his eyes I could see a glimpse of a pro completing their job.

Since we were directly told that they’d be a nuisance to us, this isn’t such a simple thing. I wanted to avoid it, but if it’s like this then I’ll just have to think of it as『Practice』.

「It’s my job, so I don’t plan on criticising you. But if you are Latiara’s companion, then you should at least have some resolution……」

And so, he takes a step forward.

The start of the practice match. Even if I lose―― well, Lastiara would just return home. It’s not like I’m so enthusiastic about this. But, I don’t plan on losing either.

「Then, it’s a duel. A match with the young miss on the line. Well, I don’t plan on taking your life so don’t worry」

「I understand. I also wouldn’t want to have our lives on the line」

Hopes-san draws his sword, and we bow.

Since we’re still more or less on the『Correct Path』, this must also mean the duel is valid.

The mood between Hopes-san and me tenses up.

「――Magic《Dimension Gladiator》, Magic《Foam》」

In this match, I believe I’ll be the victor if I properly assess the situation. Hein-san is one thing, but from Hopes-san’s status he can’t keep up with my speed. But, he has a skill called『Maneuvering』. If it’s something that can see through me, then my victory would be uncertain.

At a steady pace, Hopes-san and I close the distance.

I take on the stance of an ameteaur. Hopes-san’s stance is also similar to it. Without even making use of half his body, he holds his sword in his right hand.

We reach a distance where our swords can reach―― the flash of two swords run out.

We moved at the same time. But in my eyes, it looked like Hopes-san was the one matching it.

The swords drew the same paths as they clashed. A sound similar to a bell fills the room made of stone.

And then, the second attack.

Once again Hopes-san responded by drawing the same path. The sound of bells rings out for the second time.

The same path for the third strike. And the next, and the next and next, the sound of a bell continues ringing.

Then I notice. Hope-san’s sword is one sidedly『Receiving』. While he does have talent, it wouldn’t be right to compare it to Radiant-san’s. He doesn’t have a natural swordsmanship of his own.

What he does is match up to his opponent using the experience he’s gained thus far. And so, he carefully awaits for an opportunity to counter. That’s all it is.

Without rushing I raise my speed. Since he’s waiting for a chance to counterattack, I can’t afford to hesitate. With no impatience, with no weaknesses, my speed continues increasing. That alone is fine.

The lines our swords draw continues increasing in speed. Hopes-san somehow manages to keep up. But, he’ll soon reach his limit. Even though it’s the same action, it’s over once the difference in our speeds appear.

Not long after, the sword that Hopes-san could no longer receive was now thrusts at his throat.

The song of clashing swords comes to an end, and only an echo was left in the room.

I declare my victory to end this.

「It’s my win」

「Seriously, I lost. …… Ah, sorry, Hein-kun」

Hopes-san made a pose of surrender and at the same time apologized to Hein-san.

After seeing that, I sheathe my sword.

「You did it, Seig. As expected of the person I had my eyes on. How is it, Hein-san. My knight Seigfried has obtained victory for me」

Lastiara gracefully gives her blessings to my victory. Un, this feels disgusting.

Hein-san responds with no signs of agitation.

「It certainly is so. If it’s like that, then I have no choice but to back down for today」

「Looks like it, sorry sorry. I feel like I don’t stand a chance in a headon fight」

Hein-san moves from his position in the center and beckons to Hopes-san.

They’re no longer planning to block our path.

「He seems to have the minimal strength needed」

「Oioi, Hein-kun. Minimum, this uncle’s hurt」

「With this, we can temporarily entrust Sieg-kun with the Mistress」

Hein-san ignores Hopes-san’s words and looks at me.

He still has the same gentle look as before. Lastiara was suspicious of this.

「Hein-san. Will you not challenge my knight?」

「There’s no need. Hopes-san is different, but I have to strictly follow the『Principles』. Even if it is an unrequited love, it is still a splendid love. As your instructor, I’ll support it from the bottom of my heart」

「Aah, as long as my passion was conveyed to Hein-san. You have my sincere thanks」

Sparks fly from the confrontation of Hein-san and Lastiara. Both of their words were polite, but there was no carelessness in them.

But, Hopes-san who is next to the two「to forget about me, how horrible」mutters in discouragement. I feel like I was able to understand this person’s position. Although he’s supposed to be the elder, he’s a pitiful person.

「If Sieg-kun holds strength comparable to the『Celestial Knights』, then the situation changes. Once they learn of this, the ones at the top should feel more relieved. It’s not as if the Mistress is trying to break the ceremony, right?」

「Eeh, of course. I’ll return at once on Christmas. No matter what happens」

In comparison to Lastiara’s unwavering answer, Hein-san’s response was delayed.

「…… Is that so. In that case, Seigfried Visitor shall be treated as the hero whom Lastiara fell in love at first sight. I’ll return at once in order to make my report」

「I have been saying that for a long time in the cathedral. Please hurry back」

While Lastiara says that, she moves her hand as if shooing him away.

With a bitter smile, the two knights slowly walk to the nineteenth floor.

And then, as they passed by me, Hein-san mutters.

「――I entrusts the mistress to you」

It was a gentle voice. Not like the rigid tone from before, but a voice of affection that had welled up from the depths of his heart. The gentle tone surprised me, and I looked at Hein-san.

He was smiling.

Like a handsome appearance of a prince from a fairytale, the smile was even more prominent.

A smile that was enough to even charm a man like me, I nod in response.

After confirming that, Hein-san also returns a nod, and they leave to the staircase of the nineteenth floor.

When the two were no longer in sight, Lastiara lets out a sigh as if relieved of her burdens.

「Fuuu. Who’d of thought they’d be waiting here. It surprised me」

The performance from before was erased, and she returns to the usual Lastiara.

Having taken a step back after being swallowed in the situation, Maria comes close.

「I, is it fine. Master」

「Aah, it’s all right. It was like playing around」

「What were they, those people. And, wh, who’s a loved one……」

「Those people are from Lastiara’s house. The thing about being a loved one and so on were lies, so there’s no need to worry」

「A, lie……?」

While Maria think over my words, she stares into my eyes. She tried to find any hidden truth behind those words, but there really was nothing else to it.

「Aah, it’s a lie. When those knights appear, it’d be fine if Maria just looked on as if a small drama is being played out」

「Haa, I understand」

I’m not sure if she really agreed, but Maria nods.

「More importantly is《Connection》. I’ll try that magic out」

I walk to the corner of the room in order to accomplish my original goal of setting the magic.

After hearing that Lastiara approached with great interest.

「Oh, the thing from before」

Having gone through an explanation while coming here. She seems to be anticipating the high ranking dimensional magic《Connection》.

「It’s quiet here, and there’s little magic in the air. The best location for it. ――Magic《Connection》」

By expanding my magic I try to create a magic door.

It immediately disappeared on the tenth floor, but constructing the magic on the twentieth floor went smoothly.

Since I’ve also grown accustomed to constructing magic, it didn’t take long before I finished it.

A magic door stood by the wall of the room.

「All right, it’s a success」

I push open the magic door, and on the other side I can see the living room of my house.

Wonderful, the spaces have connected.

「Hee, so this is a magic gate. Let me go through. ――Oooh, amazing」

Lastiara amuses herself by entering the door several times.

The movements of her hands were rough, and since I’m the one maintaining the door, it’s wearing down my magic.

「Don’t be rough with it, that door’s fragile――, Ah」

After opening and closing it a number of times, the door in front of me disappeared like fog. 

As it was right when Lastiara went to the other side, Lastiara remained on that side.

「Ehh, isn’t this bad. Master」

「――Magic《Connection》!」

It can’t be helped, I once again chant the magic.

Hoping the door on the other side hasn’t disappeared, I would reform the door on this side.

I could feel my remaining MP heavily decrease.

And so, I slowly open the door, and on the other side was Lastiara who was heavily sweating.

「Ah, Sieg. I suddenly couldn’t open it, it was shocking……」

「It’s because you broke it……」

「S, so that’s what it was? Umm, …… Sorry」

「Don’t panic. And there’s no problem, so come back already」

I take the hand of the apologizing Lastiara and bring her back to this side.

「But, why didn’t the door in the house disappear……」

「I spent magic and time making that one this morning. It’s natural when considering the effort put into it」

「Aah, I see」

「Haa……, my MP is close to half now……」

「No, I’m really sorry. I’ll reflect on it」

In a strange occurrence, Lastiara’s tension was low, and she was acting meek.

It’s then that Maria opens her mouth.

「If you have that much MP left, then wouldn’t it be better to go back and rest? And you already managed to succeed with《Connection》…… 」

True, it’s as Maria says. If we were to head straight back on the『Correct Path』, it’d still take some time to get back from the twentieth floor. Our stamina as well, it might be better to end here. 

But, Lastiara probably wouldn’t agree. What she’s looking forward to are the floors from here on.

「Ehh, eeh, that might trouble meー」

Lastiara resisted with muddied words. Maria opposes that.

「No matter how much experience is gained, we have to go to church. If Master’s level does not raise then you won’t be useful for him」

「Ah, in that case, it’s fine because I’m here. Even though I’m like this, I can act like a priest」

「Eh, Lastiara-san can…… ? B, but, even then if it isn’t your profession then I won’t be able to  settle down……」

「No, it’s fine it’s fine! I also did Seig’s level up once before!」

Forcefully. A bitter smile appears as I think of that level up.

After seeing my expression, Maria looks over with worry.

「Master――」

Although she was about to speak, she decided to leave the choice with me. I consider it a bit before answering.

「It’s true that Lastiara can do it, so we can leave the level up to her. My MP is also still fine. It isn’t completely used up. And there’s still time before my work at the bar, so we can go on for a little longer」

「I see……, If that’s what Master says……」

Maria muttered in regret, it seems she wanted to go back immediately.

Lastiara who sees this calls out to Maria with as light a voice as she could.

「There won’t be any nuisances here, so it’s just right to level up. Come hereー」

After confirming Maria’s experience, she had accumulated enough to level up.

Lastiara also has a skill similar to my『Display』, so I understood that.

With a bit of a pout, Maria walks up to Lastiara.

「D, don’t be angry. Maria-chan」

「I’m not angry」

「You’re angry……」

I can’t see Maria’s face from position, but it seems that Maria’s in a bad mood. The person herself said she isn’t angry, but I understood that she is angry from Lastiara’s expression.

Shortly after, a whilte light envelops Lastiara and Maria.

「All right, my level went up. With this――」


【Status】

Name : Maria   HP102/102 MP112/122   Class : Slave

Level8

Strength3.42   Vitality3.52 Dexterity2.66   Agility2.01 Intelligence3.55   Magic5.71 Potential1.52

Conditions : None

Experience : 512/10000


Maria’s level went up, and she shows her motivation. ――But, that isn’t enough.

It’s all too clear when I look at my own status.

Our levels are only 3 apart, but there is an absolute difference in the values of our attribute.


【Status】

Name : Aikawa Kanami   HP350/352 MP221/553 Class : None

Level11

Strength6.69   Vitality6.78 Dexterity7.74   Agility10.12 Intelligence10.01   Magic24.07 Potential7.00


Maria doesn’t want to lose her place in the labyrinth. But, reality is cruel.

The face of Maria who was joyously looking towards the labyrinth search crosses my mind, and I don’t say a thing.

 ――I already know the outcome. But I can’t stop it.

Lastiara made a light laugh as she saw the two of us.

「Then let’s go, Master. I also should’ve become stronger, so this time――!」

Lastiara and I understood since we could see it.

But because she couldn’t see it, Maria was in high spirits.

I calm Maria and tell her to not force herself. Until I can permit it, I make Maria promise that she won’t fight, and we progress to the twenty first floor.

With Maria and me like that, Lastiara concealed her mouth with her hand.



◆◆◆◆◆



And then, the twenty first floor.

My first time in the floors after twenty. The meaning in this is big.

For labyrinth searchers, it’s common sense that the difficulty of the floors from the twenty first are much harder.

In the past, it didn’t take more than one year for the allied nation to capture the first twenty floors. And yet, from the twenty first to the twenty third floor, they took more than ten years. The many lives lost in the fight against Teeda was one reason, but the main reason is that the labyrinth completely transforms from that floor.

Large monsters don’t usually come up, but from the twentieth floor onward large monster gush out. It’s for that reason that making the『Correct Path』is difficult. 

The world after the twentieth floor. That world can be summed up in a single remake.

 ――It’s not worth it.

The ones who challenge it are either idiots with great curiosity, or those loved by the heavens.

The allied nations also recognize this. Thus――

「Ahahahaa, strong, this is bad. ――Ahh, it went over there, Seig! hahaa!」

In that twenty first floor, there was a single girl dancing around with happy voice.

With great curiosity, an idiot, and loved by heavens, the girl Lastiara.

Having unexpectedly lost to two monsters, Lastiara comes over here.

Both are large type monsters. Before, she met unexpected difficulties with a minotaur, but this time there are two that are bigger and stronger.

「Maria, don’t separate from my back! There are a lot of enemies, it’ll be dangerous if you get too far!」

「Y, yes!」

The large type monster, it is covered in black fur and has four arms and four legs, a grotesque type of money, Fury.

It’s movements are slow, but as its appearance suggests the movements of it’s limbs are troublesome.

I intercept the approaching arm of the monster with my sword.

The Fury then launches an arm from the side with it’s full force, at that time I fall back while carrying Maria.

I’m not able to use all of my mobility in this battle. This floor is one with a high monster appearance rate, so I can’t leave Maria far away. Inevitably, I fight while protecting Maria.

 ――「It’s not my problem if Maria-chan dies」

The words that Lastiara said before entering the labyrinth cross my head.

True, if it stays like this than Maria will die. I have to get out of this right away.

「――Magic《Dimension Gladiator》,《Multiple》,《Foam》,《Ice》,《Freeze》!!」

I unleash all my magics.

A wave of magic that’s stronger than my level rushes out.

A large amount of magic bubbles are fired, and I grasp everything in the room. Of course, the bubbles are mixed with the freezing magic. If there’s a gap then the enemy will be frozen. At the same time the temperature in the room lowers, this helps the formulation of the freezing magic. At the same time I conduct《Ice Arrow》and《Di Snow》. (TL: Di Snow stands for Dimension Snow)

I brush away the four limbs of the fury with my sword.

I haven’t swung my sword this recklessly since the fight with Teeda. Fights where I use my magic and all my strength are few But if I still fight with everything I have, then that’s proof that I don’t have any leeway.

If I don’t have any leeway, then I’ll run using Maria as a decoy―― that is the correct mindset of a searcher.

But it can’t be helped that it makes my heart noisy. Even if I die I still can’t think of that. Just a while ago, I was calculating the gains and losses with a cool mind and acted on it. But something’s different now. The me from before and the me now, something is different.

Since when was it?

Before I knew it, a large discomfort stuck to my mind.

Why, do I have that discomfort?

I don’t know.

At wits end, a new question that irritates me pops up.

That irritation caused my movements to dull, and my shoulder is grazed by the fury.

「Kuuu!」

Even thought I was grazed, my cloak was torn, my skin is bare, and blood flies out.

At this rate it’s dangerous. It’s rough on both my mind and body.

If I feel any more danger than this, then that skill『???』will probably activate.

The confusion used to restore me will once again increase.

Recently I’ve been able to prevent the activation of『???』, I don’t want it to activate at a place like this. My thoughts now mixed with impatience and indecision had dulled my judgement.

「Master―― !」

Maria’s quivering voice, reaches me.

That voice shakes my mind. If I lose focus then the skill『???』will activate.

「It’s fine, Maria. Just a bit more and Lastiara will do something!」

That’s right. This battle, is one where buying time grants victory. There’s no need for the skill『???』to dispel my hesitation.

It’s fine as long as I wait for Lastiara who’s able to freely move to exterminate them. Lastiara continued decrease the amount of Fury’s by herself. As long as I buy time, Lastiara will end this crisis.

That’s why I have to endure, endure, and draw this out.

While I only focus on intercepting, two Fury’s move to pincer me. However, my position is good. When the enemy comes closer I deploy multiple《Di Snow》. The Fury’s posture collapses at suddenly getting its body frozen, and with their force the two collide.

Using that gap I carry Maria and separate myself.

「Not yet, Lastiara!」

「Yes yes! I’ve kept you waiting!」

Lastiara finally finished, and with all the other Fury’s turning to light she comes running.

From then it was only an instant. Having their movements inhibited through my freezing magic, and their openings in full display, they recieve a strike from Lastiara.

Lastiara’s sword pierces the Furys vital spot.

With her enemy screaming in pain, Lastiara continued pursuing it with no mercy.

At a speed the Furys couldn’t keep up with, vital spot after vital spot of the Furys are slashed by the sword. Not long after, massive amounts of blood flowed out of the two as they collapse on the floor.

And so, I confirm all the Fury’s have become light and give my orders.

「Retreat, we’re retreating! We’re returning to the twentieth floor!」

「Yes, Master!」

We return to the path we came on without even caring about the magic stones. To my side「Ehh」a complaint came out of Lastiara but I ignore it.

I use《Dimention》in order to avoid enemies, and we run to the twentieth floor.

With heavy breaths we at a safe area, and it’s there that Lastiara lets out her complaints.

「……. Hey, why did we retreat?」

「I didn’t hear the enemies would be this strong……」

「Eh, I said it. There a bit stronger so be careful」

I was stupid for believing in those words and still bringing Maria along. This person’s sense of values is off, I should’ve taken those words more to heart.

「That isn’t a bit. It’s considerably, considerably stronger」

「Is that so?」

「Anyways, the battles on the twenty first floor are something else, so that’s it for today. If it’s like this than Maria can’t participate」

「Nnn. Then, as expected, Maria should wait at the house shouldn’t she?」

「Maria is our companion. I won’t do that」

「――You won’t do it? Really?」

Lastiara emphasizes her question.

If Maria wasn’t here, then I’d be fine with that sort of enemy, that’s probably what Lastiara’s thinking. Certainly, if I’m aiming on capturing the labyrinth, then the correct thing to do would be to challenge the twenty first floor together with Lastiara. I know that.

That’s why, I couldn’t answer.

It’s because I understand the logic in her words that I can’t say anything.

Maria is behind with vexation on her face. It’s a small voice, but I clearly hear it.

「My level even went up……. Even though I’m almost Master’s level I couldn’t do anything…….」

Maria grew at a pace that’d normally be unthinkable. But, that’s for an ordinary person.

In just a few days she reached the level of the highest class of explorers, but that still within common sense. 

It’s still far for her to reach the abnormalness of Lastiara and me. ――It can’t be reached.

In that case, I have to be clear about it.

We’re almost the same level, but she can’t participate in battles.

This is the difference in talent. The ones who were blessed and the ones who weren’t―― the difference in『Potential』.

While looking at that Maria, I speak before Lastiara.

「Maria, don’t worry about it. If Maria’s level goes up then even you can fight」

「Th, that’s right. If my level, if my level goes up―― !」

「It’s the opposite」

Lastiara cuts into my conversation with Maria.

She continues talking as if she couldn’t handle watching us.

「Even if your level goes up, Maria-chan still wouldn’t be able to keep up. No matter how long, Maria-chan won’t catch up to us」

Lastiara declared.

I’ve vaguely sensed it, and my silence conveys the truth to Maria.

「―― Eh?」

Maria couldn’t swallow those words.

「There’s an overwhelming difference in the growth of Maria-chan and us……. That’s why, even if your level goes up, the difference would only grow further. Maria-chan helping Sieg, is something that will never happen. If anything, holding us back and putting Sieg’s life in danger is more likely」

In the midst of Maria’s confusion, Lastiara kept pushing forward. Unable to handle it I open my mouth

「Lastiara, wait」

「I won’t wait」

「It’s slow but Maria is getting stronger, and there’s also a thing as the right person in the right place!」

「While looking at Sieg deceiving himself, I thought of seeing Maria-chan’s tragic scene but not anymore. It looks like I like Maria-chan more than I thought」

I’m deceiving myself? Th, that can’t……..

I don’t want to acknowledge it. But Lastiara’s earnest gaze won’t allow it.

「Your wrong…… That isn’t, right……」

「Seig too, can’t you see Maria-chan’s『Potential』. It’s low, and nothing can be done. No matter what happens, the rate it increases is different. And yet, you thought it was sane to bring Maria-chan along in the labyrinth. Why did you do that, do you yourself understand?」

「That is…….」

……. Aah, I know.

The rate at which her『Potential』increase, I noticed by the time she was Level 7. When compared to growth of Dia and me, the difference in Maria’s growth was evident. Maria’s『Potential』will never be enough. In the future, she’ll definitely hit a wall. And I knew that, but I still brough Maria along――

「It’s, fine…… there’s no need for any more……」

Before I can say anything, Maria puts a stop to it.

Her expression was pale. An expression that knew what I was going to say before I said it.

I knew this. The fact that Maria also understood, I pretended to not notice. It’s like Lastiara said, I’ve been deceiving myself.

Having seen Lastiara’s battles, having seen my battles―― Maria understood that she herself was useless.

Disheartened, Maria’s face darkens. From there, an emptiness were visible.

Empty. Like vacant eyes I’ve seen before―― Aah, I hate it. That is a trauma.

Maria is too similar to『Her』, I don’t want to see her like this.

That’s why, I favored Maria.

Aah, I’ll acknowledge it. Bringing her along―― it was all favoritism.

「Fufuu. Funfun, I see. Aah, how nice. How nice of you two, I’m jealous」

With Maria and I in grief after arriving at our conclusions, Lastiara gets excited and begins envying us.

When was it, innocent but merciless, and unable to understand an ordinary person, those inhuman eyes.

Those eyes look at Maria and me, with envy―― and love.

「…… You really are a person with bad taste, Lastiara」

「You two are the bad ones. That life full of interesting things is the bad one」

「Well sorry about that」

「But that’s fine. You two are skilled at deceiving yourselves, so there’s still a lot to look forward to. But, don’t worry. So you don’t die, so you don’t break down, I’ll be watching from the side」

With a gaze mixed with madness, Lastiara smiles at us.

I thought I was finally understanding how Lastiara thinks, but there’s still a long way to go. Still, I’ve been getting used to that madness, so I let out a sigh and answer.

「There’s no that’d make us feel better…」

「…….Lasiara-san, please have more self respect」

Maria who’s next to me also answers in the same way.

Even after receiving the shock of the truth that was thrust at her, it seems she still had the energy to respond to Lastiara’s outrageous behavior.

「Un un, how good how good. If you two can abuse me, then you’re still fine. If it stayed like that, then it’d become something even worse later on. I’m well versed with parties thanks to all the adventure stories I’ve thoroughly read, it’s fine to praise me more?」

Not minding our words a bit, Lastiara puffs out her chest and laughs.

「As if I’d thank you……」

「As expected a thank would be too much……」

Maria and I reply at the same time.

What was there wasn’t disappointment, but a bitter smile that had passed even amazement.

That merciless but innocent brightness, had managed to drag these thin smiles out of us.

It’s Lastiara’s fault that we fell into despair, but it’s thanks to Lastiara that we were able to recover.

With a bitter smile, I continue so that this faint brightness won’t disappear.

「Haa, really…… You’re as scary a person as ever」

「Eh, I’m scary?」

「You have no common sense, you go at your own tempo, and you have no restraint, looking from here you’re super scary. Right, Maria」

With a small laugh, I direct the conversation to Maria.

「Eh, eeh….. I have no idea what Lastiara-san is doing, I’m always on edge」

「Ehh, Maria-chan too!?」

Somehow, Maria was able to match my tone.

We were able to banter while putting on brave faces, gradually the atmosphere between the three of us brightens up. There are still many problems, so I wanted to keep this mood up.

After that, Lastiara continued joking around, and we were somehow able to recover our course.

Like this, even if we were just keeping smiles up, we reached the《Connection》on the twentieth floor, and somehow managed to make it back home.

Along with all the twisted questions that each of us carried, we were somehow able to avoid the worst conclusion.

Yes. At least avoid the worst conclusion――……



◆◆◆◆◆



After returning from the twenty first floor, each of take a rest. However, Lastiara said she had some business and soon left, and now it was only Maria and me in the living room.

That woman…… She wrecks havoc on whatever she can, and the follow up was left completely to me.

「Maria, are you fine…… ?」

「Eeh, I’m fine. With my level raising, I got a bit carried away. I disregarded my standing, and it ended with me aiming to high……」

In a calm manner, Maria lowers her head.

From what I can see, it doesn’t look like the things Lastiara said are bothering her anymore.

「No, it was a mistake in my judgement. I trusted in my plan too much and missed the chance to quit. I even brought Maria to a dangerous place that I shouldn’t have」

「Fufu, so that’s what Master believes. Thank you very much」

Maria giver her thanks with a small laugh.

「Why are you thanking me? It’s because of my mistake that Maria could’ve died?」

「But, that mistake, it’s because you thought of me isn’t it?」

While smiling, Maria continued speaking.

You’re wrong. It’s not something that nice……

「You’re thinking too much of yourself, Maria. Right now I don’t have time to be considerate of other people」

「No, that’s wrong. It’s because Master didn’t want to make me sad, that you didn’t decide to quit right? You hesitated when it came to breaking my dream didn’t you?」

Maria spoke as if I was a good person. But, that’s wrong.

The reason I brought Maria along, all of it was for my sake.

「I already said you’re wrong……」

「Fufuu. As expected, Master is kind…..」

Maria kept smiling even though I continued denying it.

And then, after smiling for sometime, Maria’s expression suddenly darkens and she continues her words.

「―― But, it’s certain that I can no longer be useful in the labyrinth. I know I’d only trouble Master, what should I do……」

Thus, the words that she’s been brooding over spill out.

The contrast in that surprised me. As if the smiling Maria from before was a lie, that expression is dark.

As I thought, it wasn’t like she didn’t worry about it. It shouldn’t have been possible to sort out her feelings in that small amount of time.

「Calm down, Maria. It’s not like there’s nothing you can’t do. It’s fine if you take your time while searching for what you can do here」

「……Is it fine for me to stay here?」

After hearing「Here」from me, Maria asked in a strange manner.

In amazement, I return the question.

「Could it be, you planned on leaving here?」

「Of course, I’ll make sure to repay my debt. But, there’s no longer a reason for me to continue being a bother to this house…….」

「Where’s that confidence from before. You’re way too discouraged. Are you an idiot」

It was just the other day that she was overflowing with confidence, but now there’s not even a trace of it left. The difference in her state caused me to panic.

「That confidence, it was fake……」

Maria answers in self-mockery.

What caused Maria to become this timid, I have no idea.

But, I don’t want to see Maria in this miserable state. That state, it reminds me of the first time I met Maria.

That’ll trouble me―― If Maria doesn’t have a resolution, then I’ll be troubled.

If she had that same confidence from before, then I wouldn’t mind if she left. However, if she leaves with this kind of face, then I’ll only be left with worry and regret.

「There are many things to do. It’d be fine if you can cook here. I’ll entrust the house to Maria」

That’s why, I try to give any reason I can to Maria. The thing that first came to my mind was『Cooking』.With her skill, then leaving the housework to her wouldn’t be a problem.

「But, but you said I didn’t have to cook before…..」

「That was, because Maria was going to accompany me in the labyrinth. At that time I wanted you to come to the labyrinth no matter what, it might’ve come across bad」

It isn’t a lie. At that time instead of cooking I honestly wanted her help in the labyrinth.

「Is that how it is……」

「That’s why, I’ll be the one relying on you from now on. Please make food for this house everyday」

I tell her with a serious look, with a troubled face Maria answers in confusion.

「E, everyday…… Haa, you’re the same as ever Master, with those stuipid words. That’s, a very embarrassing line. And you don’t show any signs of it」

「Aah. It was really embarrassing, after saying it……」

Maria showed her usual amazed expression. But, as long as she’s back to normal, then I don’t care what kind of face she shows me.

「Then, I’ll gratefully accept this job. Thank you very much, Master」

「Aah, I’ll be relying on you」

Maria smiles, and gives her thanks.

The gloom she had until now had disappeared. With my insight I can’t tell if Maria is acting or not, so I still can’t relax.

「Then, since we have a chance how about cooking together」

「Together?」

Since I can’t relax, I decided to watch over her while cooking.

「I want to see Maria’s ability. I also have confidence in myself, but, I don’t think it’s as much as Maria」

「No way, I can’t rival Master」

「No, Maria has an ability for cooking. I said before that I could see abilities didn’t I?」

「I have an ability for cooking?」

「Aah, there’s no doubt. You should have some confidence」

「Cooking ability……」

Somewhere in Maria’s expression, it looked like she was happy.

If this gives her a firm reason for being then it’ll end up helping me.

I begin teaching Maria the dishes that I’m fond of. I was also taught by Maria about the cooking in this world, the cooking conversation was more exciting than I thought it’d be.

In that way the two of us stood in the kitchen and began the preparation for dinner.

At the time we were cooking Maria’s expression was bright. I felt relieved seeing that my choice wasn’t a mistake, and Maria continues enjoyably making the meal.

Like this, we temporarily forget about the labyrinth, and immerse ourselves in cooking.

When the preparations for dinner ended, Lastiara returned.

「I’m Homeー. Hmm, I smell something goodー」

Like a child who always comes back at dinner time.

However, it’s because of her that I learned that it had already become dark. I end the cooking, and being heading to my job at the bar.

「Maria, I’ll be heading to the bar soon」

「Yes, Master. Take care」

I felt that Maria’s expression changed a bit. But she sees me off with a smile.

「I’ll try to come back as soon as possible, so wa――」

「Ah, Sieg. If it’s about the bar then it’s fine to not go anymore. Since you’re on a break」

「――it…… , eh? What do you mean?」

As I was heading for my workplace Lastiara stops me.

「Like I said. An indefinite break, gotten from the manager」

She said it as if it was nothing, but it was something inexcusable to me.

「Wait, what does that mean. It can’t be, did you just go to the bar?」

「That’s rightー. And, I asked the manager. That until things calm down, Sieg wants a break. When I said how other knights like Sera-chan might come by, he instantly gave his OK」

「D, did the manager really agree?」

「It was an easy victory with tears in my eyes. The manager, is weak to womenー」

In other words, she feigned innocence, and coaxed my manager.

One way or another, my manager’s sweet to beautiful women. It makes sense if I consider yesterday’s incident with Radiant-san and about his treatment towards Rean-san. The people close to manager probably know about that.

Being moved by the beautiful Lastiara, then there’s no doubt that he’d hear her out.

It’s probably true that I have a break from my job.

「Oi, Lastiara. Go sit at the table right now. There’s a ton of things I have to say」

Since I was heading to the bar I stopped the preparations for dinner, so I sit at the table in the living room.

「W, well, wait wait. Please listen to what I have to say first」

Latiara immediately begins spotting excuses.

「It’s not like I didn’t think before getting Sieg a break. Money and time, it’s the result of thinking of many things. It’s not like the work would increase much if their missing a person right, that’s what I thought, so I did it for you. Look, it’s cause Sieg’s indecisive with the strangest things」

「…… Aah. That’s true, the efficiency there isn’t that great of a thing. But you know, I’ve been gathering information in that bar, and there are still a lot of things I need. And the bar itself should also have its own circumstances. If the number of people suddenly decrease then they won’t function as well」

「I also made sure to think about that. I more or less have information until the twenty third floor, and if you don’t want to hurt the store then it’d be fine to send Maria-chan」

She tries slipping out by emphasizing she has information. Since she does have information I can’t say anything to strongly. But, as for the shop, that’s different.

「It’s fine to disregard the information gathering. But it isn’t easy finding a replacement for work. And it’s not like it’s decided that Maria’s going」

「Eehー. What Sieg’s been doing is washing dishes and putting them away. Anyone can do that. And when it comes to helping with the foord, then Maria-chan with a cooking skill should be fitting. Above all, isn’t it better for the store to have a cute girl. As for whether Maria-chan will do it or not……, hey, Maria-chan. Will you do it?」

Lastiara calls out to Maria who was cooking.

「If it’s for Master’s sake, then I’ll definitely do it」

Maria answers in pointlessly energetic voice. Lastiara who saw this, made a you see expression.

「With this, if you need information then you can rely on Maria-chan. You see, I managed to nicely divide the jobs. Even Sieg shouldn’t be overprotective enough to reject it right?」

「Guu……」

If possible I didn’t want Maria in the bar. Since there are a lot of ruffians as customers, but Maria should be able to settle problems at her level.

Even without us, Maria’s true ability is not inferior to skilled searchers. If I reject this, I wouldn’t be able to avoid being called overprotective.

「But, we’re still not done talking. To begin with, the fact that you did as you liked won’t change, Maria is also of the same mind. We can’t permit that selfishness」

「…… a, all right, what’s today’s dinnerー?」

Lastiara sensed that it wasn’t going well and tried to change the topic.

But I won’t permit that.

「I don’t mind if we eat. Lecturing makes the rice taste good」

「No, it’d make the rice bad……」

Lastiara who tried to run is forcefully sat at the table.

After that, the food that Maria cooked is lined up, and the three of us begin our dinner. Of course, it was done while lecturing about Lastiara’s selfishness.

Nevertheless, the lecture soon ended. No matter the method, I understood that Lastiara had good intentions.

This person’s a selfish good for nothing, but all of that began from good intentions.

The level up on the first day, the times with the『Celestial Knights』, participating in the party, warning Maria―― and, this times matter as well, all of that is her own kind of goodwill.

In the end, Lastiara hung her head and gave a small apology. Afterwards the three of us had a delightful meal while talking about the labyrinth search for tomorrow.

From the conversation, Maria will be in charge of all things other than the labyrinth, and Lastiara and me will focus on the labyrinth.

And so, the first day comes to an end. A lot happened because of Lastiara, but it’s also thanks to her that we were able to get over it. It was such a day.

For the time being, after we finish eating I’ll go to the bar and apologize to the manger.

That night, I felt like I was able to sleep easier than usual.



◆◆◆◆◆



The next day, Lastiara and I rechallenge the twenty first floor. Maria is left housesitting.

「Now we can really search the labyrinth right. Seig 」

「There’s a big difference between your really and my really」

We took a shortcut to the twentieth floor using the《Connection》at the house. It was a strange feeling going from early morning straight to the twentieth floor.

Lastiara loosens her body and walks behind me with high expectations.

Different from yesterday, I’m the one leading today. In order to make full use of my abilities I take back my original position.

「Now then, we aim for the thirtieth floor!」

「……No, floor by floor, look at your surroundings while moving. First we have to get accustomed to the twenty first floor, our current objective is the twenty third floor where the 『Correct Path』ends, after that――」

「You talk too much Seig!!」

I tried to propose a plan, but Lastiara rejected it with a pout.

In regards to our plan towards the labyrinth, the two of us are completely different. From early morning, up to when we entered the labyrinth, we still couldn’t agree on a plan.

But, I think this is fine.

I knew from the beginning that controlling Lastiara would be difficult. I have no choice but to match her, but if I spoil her from the beginning then it’ll have repercussions down the road.

If I carefully think about it, it’d be ideal if we could strike a balance between Lastiara’s positiveness and my negativeness. It’d be just right if neither is able to take the lead.

「I may be saying a lot, but it isn’t wrong when it comes to progressing through the labyrinth」

「Even if it’s about moving through the labyrinth, it’s still something boring」

「Correctness and dullness are proportional. It’s not like I enjoy it myself」

「Is that the contract? I cooperate in Seig’s goal of capturing the labyrinth, and Sieg will cooperate with me to let me enjoy the labyrinth」

「Aah, that’s right. ――this is a contract. That’s why, we should take some time to organize. Lastiara, of course it’s fine for you to enjoy yourself. But, don’t forget my goal. Please refrain from doing whatever you want」

「Aah…… You’ve been warning me since morning……」

I can’t be relieved with only that amount of warnings.

She’s a completely different type of person from Maria and Dia.

「What you normally do is bad―― and, the talking ends here」

While talking with Lastiara,《Dimension》sensed a monster approaching.

「Ou, they came quickly. Reallyー, how convenient. Sieg’s searching magic」

「There’s an enemy ahead. It’s a giant monkey like yesterday. I’ll go in first and attract it’s attention, you come after that. I’ll match up with you」

「Do you think I’m a wild boar or something? Well, I’ll listen to you for now」

「Let’s go!」

With a shout I start running.

Even thought I was seriously running, Lastiara kept up right behind me. As expected, she’s at least someone I can rely on when it comes to ability.

I turn the corner and a grotesque monster comes into view. The same monster as yesterday, Fury. The Fury notices an enemy approaching and uses its four arms to intercept.

I slip through the four arms of the Fury and go under its legs to come out on the other side. The Fury twists it’s body to attack me. But, Lastiara who was following me doesn’t permit that.

The Fury uses two of its arms to intercept Lastiara’s sword. And so, the remaining arms go in my direction. However, I knew that, and I slipped into the Fury’s blindspot. Losing sight of me, the Fury begins to turn its direction―― but it gives up because of Lastiara in the front. It must’ve known that if it removed it’s gaze from her, then that would be the end.

At that moment, I was convinced of our victory.

At the instant it’s arms moved towards Lastiara, my sword tore into the Fury’s back. When it’s back ripped apart, the arms that were boxing in Lastiara stop. Lastiara doesn’t miss that  opening, she slips through the Fury’s arms, and slashes it’s stomach.

The fury let’s out an angry voice and tries to crush Lastiara. Matching with the opponents breathing, I once again swing my sword. Naturally, once again, the Fury’s movements stop for an instant.

As long as I’m at it’s back, the Fury can’t properly attack.

This is possible because《Dimension》let’s me grasp the opponent’s and Lastiara’s movements.

And so, the Fury who continued showing openings was sliced by Latiara. In the end, that sword tore through its neck, to land the final blow I pierce its heart.

The Fury lets out a death cry as it’s blood spills out, not long after, it became light and disappeared. I check with Lastiara while picking up the magic stone

「Are you injured?」

「Didn’t get any blood on me. Too easy. Actually, that monster just now was too pitiful. It couldn’t do anything……」

「That’s what’ll happen if we use our full strength. It’s like harvesting wheat and I like that」

「Uuun, it’s not so fun when it’s so one sided……」

「Don’t worry about that, the twenty first floor starts from here. ――Magic《Dimension》」

I spread my sensations with magic.

The peculiar feature of this floor is it large quantities of monster with overflowing power. With the way the floor is structured, that death cry from before should’ve had some effect.

If the voice reached then all the monsters in the area would gather. And as expected, it’s companions that hear the death cry are coming over.

「So?」

「Aah, as expected. We beat one, and the other monsters in the surroundings gather」

Yesterday I didn’t have time to search for far away monster, but today is different. Now I can grasp the movements of the monsters in the labyrinth.

「If  we keep on defeating them then  we’ll only end up surrounded」

「That’s meaningless to me. Since I have《Dimension》we won’t be surrounded. Follow me」

「Roger. Two against one, should we keep on defeating them?」

「Usually that’d be what we do……, but it’ll be more trouble than it’s worth. But even if we’re surrounded, we’ll probably still be fine」

「Of course」

Lastiara answers with a smile and follows after me.

In fact, Lastiara and I are the typical solo player type. If we’re surrounded by ourselves, then that’s when we can show our true worth.

Just like before, when we cooperate we’re strong, but that’s only because our abilities and way of fighting are similar. Generally, there shouldn’t be any human that can match Lastiara’s movements. 

「Just a little more, and we’ll see another Fury. This time we might be able to get a surprise attack from it’s back」

「Okay. Ah, monster hunting is fine, but make sure to head for the twenty second floor?」

「If we have any leeway then I’ll do so」

In reality, we have nothing but leeway. If Lastiara and I run, then unless it’s something special we won’t be surrounded.

That’s why, we can also have friendly chats like this. Yesterday’s battle with the Fury was rough, but it’s no longer a threat.

At any rate, as long as it’s characteristic companions are sealed off than it’s no problem.

We continue traveling through the twenty first floor while crushing them.

In order to not get surrounded we separated from the『Correct Path』and took a detour, and with no problems we made it to the staircase of the twenty second floor.

It didn’t even take an hour, and the amount of Fury’s that were crushed have passed ten.

It was exactly like harvesting wheat.

Before climbing the stairs, we take caution while preparing to recover.

Because of our successive battles, the clothes we’re wearing are quite worn-out. Although I said we had leeway, as the number continue piling the number of chances to make mistakes also rises.

「『Pure World Free Of Filth』『Hit By The Fleeting Sunlight』――《Cure Full》」

But thanks to Lastiara there were no problems.

Lastiara gather her magic, and recites a chant for healing magic. While having my injuries cured, I ask a question.

「Hey, Lastiara. Is there any meaning to that poem before the magic?」

「Poem? Aah, the aria. Uuun, it’s just to help with the image, it’s fine without it. Something like a habit」

It’s the same magic but it looks like the habit differs for the person. If the image of the person is different, then the poem could be different. Since the technique itself comes from the body, it makes sense.

「There, with this we should be completely healed」

「Aah, thanks」

While we check our MP, I also check my experience.

Ever since the battle with Teeda, I wasn’t able to properly go hunting, so my experience piled up in a burst. As I thought, when it comes to the monsters on the deeper floors, the amount of experience gained is on a different level.

And the higher the level the deeper we can go hunting.

It’s thanks to Lastiara and my outrageous『Potential』, were able to fight in a deeper floor then we should because of this. Also, since we’re fighting higher level monster with a lower level, the experience we gain comes faster.

「Since we’re at it, might as well level up. Sieg, be on guard」

「Leave it to me」

It looks like Lastiara also saw her experience. Judging it was possible to level up, she begins chanting the magic.


【Status】

Name : Aikawa Kanamai   HP321/372 MP334/623-200   Class : None

Level12

Strength7.12   Vitality7.45 Dexterity8.55   Agility10.92 Intelligence10.88   Magic26.91 Potential7.00

【Status】

Name : Lastiara Whoseyards   HP670/709 MP 283/325 Class : Hero

Level16

Strength11.71  Vitality11.11 Dexterity7.12   Agility8.39 Intelligence12.97   Magic9.12 Potential4.00


I use the overflowing bonus points on MP. I’m uneasy about the amount of MP needed to maintain《Connection》. And I leave the skill points alone.

「I still have a lot of MP. Actually, Sieg. Why did your MP decrease that much?」

「I left 200 MP for maintaining the gate. And my MP is always decreasing when searching for enemies. I also use support magic in battle, so it lowers even more」

「Uwaa, bad consumption…… You got to be more economical」

「No. I don’t want to die from the unlikely chance of being economical」

「Uuun. True, if you die then I’ll also be troubeld……」

I talk with Lastiara about magic, and then I remember something that interested me from before. It was a good opportunity so I ask.

「It’s always been on my mind, but what was that skill 『Foreigner』you said before」

「Nn? What I see when I look at Sieg’s skills are『Swordsmanship』『Freezing Magic』『Dimension Magic』『Foreigner』『???』, those five?」

「Instead of『Foreigner』, all I see is『???』. Is it because Lastiara’s level is higher? Hey, that『Foreigner』, does it have some use?」

「Even if you ask me, I also don’t know the details. Not something from this world, isn’t it just a title or something?」

「So that’s all it is」

We descend to the twenty second floor while chatting.

It’d be fine to search for the boss monster on the twenty first floor, but since we don’t know much about the floors this deep we gave up on it. There weren’t many searchers at the bar who managed to reach the twentieth floor either.

The stairs from the twenty first floor to the twenty second are strangely long.

So that means, the ceiling on the twenty second floor is abnormally high.

「We made it to the twenty second floor. The last time I went to her I was close to dying, but it’s easy with the two of us」

「Close to dying? Even if it was by yourself, you were still cornered by normal monsters?」

「Last time I wasn’t even level 10 and I still made it up to here. I felt like there’d be no response if I was too strong. Reallyー, that was really fun」

「The fact that you tried to clear it at a low level scares me. Are you trying to kill yourself?」

Even with her life on the line, Lastiara calmly challenged herself.

「No, I’d hate dying. Even though it’s me, I still know the importance of life. I might be bad with seeing people die」

「You say your bad with it, but you looked like you were enjoying seeing Maria and me close to dying」

「It can’t be helped since I love seeing the limits right before death. It’s fine, before you die I’ll definitely save you」

Maria would be at a loss of words if she heard Lastiara’s calm words. While amazed at her sense of values, we begin progressing through the twenty second floor.

Different from the twenty first floor, the corridors of the twenty second are narrow, but the ceiling is high. It’s width is only a few meters, and its height is several dozens of meters. All the floors we passed had special characteristics, but none were as different as this one.

It may be that the deeper we go, the stronger the characteristics of the floors become.

While thinking of many things about the corridor, I spot an enemy on the twenty second floor with《Dimension》. 

A bird type monster. Aviation type monsters in the labyrinth tend to have smaller bodies, but this monster is different. A giant length of several meters, along with wings and claws like that of an eagle. And also, three compound eyes on it’s head. Noticing the ferocious fangs as well, there’s a need to be careful of them.


【Monster】Rio Eagle  : Rank20


「Lastiara, a bird like monster is here」

「Aah, that one. It runs if it gets injured so please kill it in onehit. We should ignore the ones that don’t come down, and counter the ones that do」

「A monster that runs away? That seems annoying. But, the ones that don’t come down, so these are also in a flock?」

「It’s like if the monkey on the twenty first floor became a bird. The method of fighting is different no doubt, well, if it’s Sieg then it should be fine」

「Why do you have such needless trust in me……」

「Well of course, because to me Sieg is the『Protagonist』……」

Lastiara answered with a hidden meaning. As I was going to answer, a Rio Eagle notices us and I move my focus from Lastiara to the enemy.

「It’s coming」

「It’s dark up there so I can’t really see」

I ready my sword, and meet with the Rio Eagle. Lastiara speaks worry free as she follows me.

The Rio Eagle descended in a speed that couldn’t be compared to the Fury on the twenty second floor, and using its nails, it aimed for my throat. I try to intercept it with my sword and strike its body. However, my body receives the full energy of it’s descent and bends backwards. After taking the attack with my sword, the Rio Eagle retreated to a distance my sword couldn’t reach.

Unable to stop that hit and run, I could only see it off―― as the Rio Eagle began it’s ascent, a sword pierced in from it’s flank.

It’s the sword Lastiara threw.

The Rio Eagle became light and disappeared, Lastiara smiles while picking up the leftover sword and magic stone.

「One on one, it’s a super dangerous guy, but with two it isn’t much. One side receives, and the other attacks, and it’s an easy victory」

「It looks like it. But, if there are multiple enemies then that won’t be the case」

「Pretty much」

Lasitara throws the magic stone to me. I put the magic stone in my『Items』, and ask for the plans for here.

「So, what do we do. Do we fight these guys?」

「No, these ones, are super annoying. That’s why the twenty second floor is generally passed」

It definitely is annoying. They move fast and their tactics are intelligent. Taking these as our enemy would be quiet nerve wracking.

If it was a normal human, then they wouldn’t notice a raid from the darkness above. Even if they noticed, they wouldn’t be able to respond to that overwhelming speed. Even if they received it, they wouldn’t be able to counter from the energy of their descent. And so, when their attack fails they retreat, and that’s repeated. Lastiara said that it runs if they’re hurt, and from all the monsters so far, this one is top ranked in being a bother.

「I also don’t like them. It isn’t worth it if we don’t have a way to attack from a long distance」

「Since, we specialize at mid range don’t we」

「That’s right」

As swordsman the only ranged attacks Lastiara and I can do is pretty much only throwing our swords. Throwing your loved sword would cause it to be lost, but at the same time bringing another sword specifically to throw would slow your movements. To put it simply, we aren’t cut out to deal with distant enemies.

If I use the system『Items』to its limits then I can probably deal with it, but this monster isn’t worth the effort.

It’d be easy if Dia was here, for the two of us currently here ignoring them would be better.

In a rare occurance I agree with Lastiara, and I take a path to avoid them as much as possible. However, After walking for several minutes, I knew things wouldn’t work out that well.

「Che……」

「What’s the matter?」

I analyzed the information from《Dimension》and clicked my tongue.

I knew that because of that Rio Eagle we defeated before, the one in the surrounding were heading here. I took a path in order to not be surrounded, but they’re trying to surround us and stop us from leaving by making use of it’s speed.

Through a gap in my《Dimesnion》two of them approached.

「Sorry, Lastiara. Two are coming from the front and back」

「It can’t be helped. If it’s front and back, then let’s put our back together」

「Got it. But if we spend too much time on this then we’ll be surrounded, I’d like to end this as soon as possible. Magic《Di Snow》《Foam》」

The《Foam》encases my sword, and the《Di Snow》floats in the surroundings

「Those cold bubbles…… I never saw a magic like that before, did you invent it?」

「Rather than invent, it’s more like combining magic. It’s trap magic, so don’t touch it. If you touch it then your movements will slow, use it well」

「Rooger 」

After finishing my preparations, the two Rio Eagles begin gliding over.

With our backs together, we each take one. I grasp the movement of the Rio Eagle with《Dimension Gladiator》.

And so, I see through its attack and successfully stop it. But, because of the shock, my counterattack was late. Regrettably, my sword once again hit empty space. It was the same for Lastriara behind me.

But, the Rio Eagles successfully hit the bubbles of《Foam》.

My ability to grasp what’s happening has dramatically improved, I had absolute confidence that they’d be taken down the next time they descend. But as if to mock me, the Rio Eagles who received the《Foam》run away.

「Eh, eh? They run just from bubbles?」

「They really are cowardly monsters. If there’s even a bit of abnormality they run」

Furthermore, the Rio Eagles that let out a loud cry from far away. No matter how I see it, it looks like it’s a call for help.

I expand the scope of《Dimension》, it looks like  the monster that are far away noticed us. In the middle of that, there were also other monsters similar to the Rio Eagles. At this rate we’ll be forced to fight against a variety of monsters.

「And the ones that ran, called more of their companions……」

「As expected, it’s come to that. Last time I ran with all my strength, what about you Sieg?」

「I’ll probably do the same」

「Agreed. They’re tough opponents, but they’re underhanded, so it isn’t that fun」

Lastiara and I meet our gazes, nod, and at the same time, we run.

We run at full force to the twenty third floor with the Rio Eagles in tow.

As《Dimension》was used to choose our path, there weren’t many enemies on the way. Since many of the monsters on the twenty second floor are the cautious type, they run away before we can take them down.

In the end, MP was uselessly wasted without gaining experience, and we traveled a far distance.

「Haa, haa, haa…..」

While gasping for air, we managed to make it to the point right before the twenty third floor.

Lastiara freely lets out her complaints.

「HaaaHaaa. It’sー annoyingー, the twenty second floorー」

It seems like she also lost quite a lot of stamina.

With shaking shoulders, she follows after me.

We begin descending, and the monsters that were following pull back. Looks like the monsters can’t step out of their own floor.

With a sigh of relief we move to the twenty third floor.

And so, after regaining our breath we return to the『Correct Path』.

However, our bodies continue losing stamina as we walk. And our orderly breathing, wasn’t so orderly.

The reason is simple. It’s because the labyrinths temperature is abnormally high when compared to above.

The twenty second floors characteristic is『Height』, and the twenty third floors characteristic is『Heat』.

Lastiara pulls on the collar of her clothes, and she made a fed up expression. Even from a distance I can see she’s sweating several times more than me. It looks like Lastiara is someone who sweats a lot.

「It’s hot, it’s hot it’s hot it’s hot!…… Seig, water!」

「Yeah yeah」

From my bag, I take out a water canteen from『Items』and hand it over. In the morning, I was being looked after by Lastiara, so I thought she was pretty well organized.

But noLastiara is now gulping down the water with no hesitation.

Her way of drinking suits her personality, while thinking of that, I ask about the twenty third floor.

「Hey, why is the twenty third floor this hot?」

「Nnn. Because magma is flowing on the twenty fourth floor」

「Ma, magma? Did you see it?」

「No, I’ve heard it from the searchers who visited me. I only know up to the twenty third floor」

「You have acquaintances who made it to the twenty fourth floor?」

「The famous Glen Walker. The one called the strongest searcher」

Glen Walker. Certainly, he’s the holder of the title of having the best record in the labyrinth.

「I heard that person only made it to the twenty third floor」

「More accurately, he couldn’t bring the『Correct Path』past the twenty third floor」

The rumors on the streets that he made it to the twenty third floor, are probably because of the『Correct Path』. If he didn’t have the condition of the『Correct Path』, then the strongest Glen-san has probably gone further. 

「So that’s the reason Lastiara is so knowledgeable. You heard if from the top searchers all over the world」

「It’s true that most of my information is from them」

「So, that person, what kind of person is he?」

In a cheerful mood I ask about Glen-san.

It seems like I’m weak to the title of『Strongest』. For people who like games or romance, they’d of course have an interest in Glen-san

「What kind, hm…… I can’t express it other than a pitiful person who’s to my liking. An interesting person that no matter where he goes, he’s unable to obtain what he wants……And with his talent, it’s even more so……」

To Lastiara, Glen Walker is the type of human that is unblessed. I thought that he was the type that’s overflowing with talent, loved by the world, and everything goes his way no matter what he does. That’s the image I have when I think of『Strongest』.

「Hee, is that so」

「A weak spirit, doesn’t know when to give up, a masochist. A good for nothing human, but quite strong」

「Well, he doesn’t really sound that strong anymore……」

「In reality, it’s not like he’s actually super strong…….」

The『Strongest』inside of me was crushed. The strongest person of this world didn’t live up to my expectations.

Feeling depressed by the reality, I use《Dimension》and look for the end of the《Correct Path》. On the twenty third floor the enemies don’t get close to the『Correct Path』, so we were able to smoothly progress.

But, the『Signpost』inside the labyrinth breaks of in the middle, so we come to a stop.

「So this is the goal. For the time being, we were able to achieve our goal」

I gain some sense of accomplishment, now I can finally stand with the other at the top.

「All right, then, next is the thirtieth floor right. I also don’t know much from here on, so make sure to keep using that《Dimension》Sieg, and we’ll keep going deepersー」

「I don’t want to」

I stop Lastiara who wanted to go even deeper.

It didn’t take much time to get here from the twentieth floor, but because there were many fights I’ve never experienced before, my fatigue built up. In this condition, going any further into the unknown would wear my stamina.

I convey that to Lastiara, and of course, she can’t agree.

After our quarrel ends, we decided to take our time exploring the twenty third floor.

Since we no longer have the singpost that is the『Correct Path』, Lastiara said we had to make a map, and I reluctantly accept.

With that as our guide, we continue walking.

Using a parchment I begin the handmade map, and the twenty third floor fills it up.

Fortunately, there weren’t any monsters on the twenty third floor that were a threat. It’s probably because those giant monsters from the twenty first and second floor can’t live in this temperature. There are a number of monsters on the twenty third floor that have stamina, but they weren’t troublesome.

Above all, Lastiara’s high offensive ability ended up helping. No matter how hard the enemies defence, it was all meaningless in front of Lastiara’s ridiculous strength.

Putting it all together, the strong point of this floor is wearing down the stamina of searchers through the high temperature.

The enemies who’s forte is stamina will act as nuisances, while the high temperature steals your moisture, and in the end  you’ll be left completely exhausted. If I think about it then it might be more of a problem than the twenty first and second floors.

「A, aah……, Sieg, waterー……」

Every few minutes Lastiara consumes large quantities of water.

I’m also drinking lots of water, but it isn’t to Lastiara’s degree. With her bad consumption rate, the twenty third floor is her worst enemy.

「Wa, wait, Lastiara. Are you reallyー thirsty? If you drink that much, then you might die?」

「I really am, my throat is really dry it’s bad」

A few hours passed since we started walking, unable to endure it I asked Lastiara. But in no joking manner, Lastiara wished for the water with a serious expression.

「If you drink any more water than this, then we’ll turn back at once」

「Eh, did I drink that much?」

「Aah, you kept on drinking with a cloudy face」

There’s a need to reconsider our searching plan when taking the speed of that drinking into account.

When thinking about the twenty fourth floor ahead, the water I’m carrying isn’t enough.

「Maybe, it’s because I’m sweating?」

「It looks like it. Without more water we can’t continue the search」

In my case, I want to return as soon as possible.

Even more so with the blunder of this unexpected situation, I failed to predict the shape we’d be in.

「Uuun, are we going back?」

「There’ll be no water」

「U, unnn, it can’t be helped……」

Lastiara was dissatisfied, but with her dry throat in bad condition, and the thought of continuing without water crossed her mind, her face clouded.

「But, I more or less understood the twenty third floor. So we got results」

「I left the mapping to Sieg, but, can we really return with this?」

「Don’t worry about that」

As long as I have dimension magic, then there’s no chance of being lost.

I also have confidence in my memorization. And just in case, I noted the path were the『Correct Path』ended. There is no problem at all.

Lastiara is probably worried about the way home because she’s been walking around with a hazy conscience. In order to not worry her, I take firm steps on the way back.

It was a little incomplete, but today we managed to make it up to the twenty third floor.

Considering my objective of one a day, then it’s a great success.

Having ended our exploration for today, we head to the《Connection 》on the twentieth floor.

On the way back we encountered many monsters, but they were all monsters that we could handle. But, if there was a problem, it’d be on the twentieth floor were nothing was supposed to be.

Catching it with《Dimension》, I use magic to check before entering the twentieth floor.

There was a single knight girl. And also, a single wolf with blue tinted fur.

A knight who can make it to the twentieth floor―― Most likely, it’s a『Celestial Knight』.

I extend my magic from the twenty first floor and『Observe』the knight girl.


【Status】

Name : Ragne Kaikuwora   HP152/153 MP34/45 Class : Knight

Level16

Strength3.22   Vitality3.91 Dexterity11.23   Agility5.22 Intelligence7.12 Magic1.12   Potetial1.12

Innate Skills : Magic Operation2.11

Acquired Skills : Swordsmanship0.52   Holy Magic1.02

【Status】

Name : Sera Radiant   HP252/256 MP43/101 Class : Knight

Level21

Strength6.23   Vitality7.92 Dexterity8.89   Agility10.02 Intelligence5.60   Magic7.77 Potential1.57

The knight girl is Ragne, and the wolf is Sera.

「Eh, that wolf, it’s Radiant-san?」

That truth caused my mouth to open.

「Sieg, why’d you stop?」

「No, well a Radiant-san like wolf is on the twentieth floor. Also a kid called Ragne」

「That’s, two of my girls. Do your best, Sieg」

「Well, I don’t feel like losing……」

Lastiara didn’t think much of it. In fact, I was the same.

In a light mood we move up to the twentieth floor.

When we enter the twentieth floor, the knight who set up in the middle gives her greeting. It’s the same as yesterday.

「Miss, are you all right?」

The short haired girl gives her greetings and worries about Lastiara’s well being.

A lively girls whos a bt smaller than me. She’s no peerless beauty, but her face is good and she has a cuteness fitting for her age. On top she wore a fine quality short sleeved shirt, and on the bottom she had a strangely long skirt. On top of that long skirt she had something like a loin cloth wrapping over it, the bottom half looks really heavy.

「Ragne-chan, it’s been awhile」

Lastiara calls the girl Ragne-chan. As she looks younger than me, I also think of calling her Ragne-chan. The two continue their conversation.

「And so Ragne-chan, why are you here?」

「I heard from old man Hopes. That the boy is a labyrinth explorer who made it to the twentieth floor」(TL: Ragne adds ssu to the end of her words a lot)

「Aah, so that’s what it is」

Lastiara speaks in a small voice「Old man, please……」but it doesn’t escape my ears.

「Well, I really wanted to rest in the temple though……」

Ragne-chan makes a bitter smile while looking at the wolf to her side.

Feeling that gaze, the wolf lets out a Wan.

「Eh? Aah, yeah, I’ll do it I’ll do it. I’ll do it right away」

Sensing what the wolf that barked at her meant, Ragne-chan draws her sword.

Being curious, I ask Lastiara in a small voice.

「Isn’t that wolf Radiant-san?」

「Un. Since Sera-chan’s blood is deeply mixed with beast people. It looks like she can talk with Ragne-chan through magic. It’s because of my『Eye』that I can understand this, but it looks interesting so I’m pretending not to know」

「……then I’ll also do that」

If I carelessly point it out, it’ll probably get annoying and I’d hate that. To her it must be fulfilling the『Don’t show your face』. I’ll leave it be.

I draw my sword, and step in front of Lastiara.

And then, Ragne-chan takes something like a memo from her pocket, and begins reading it.

「Eh, uuum, my name is the knight Ragne Kaikuwora. Siegfried Visitor, I request a duel with the Mistress on the line. The rules are as before, the same as with Sera Radiant. Now, let us have a fair fight――ssu」

Un, no motivation.

How do I put it, if it’s in a sports club, it’d be the mood when a senior forces their junior to do a task.

「Un, that’s fine. But, there’s something I’d like to change. As a reward, would it be fine to add that the other knights can’t come along?」

「Ah, that’s fine. Also, if possible I’d like it to end with a single hit. I don’t want to get a big injury in a place like this」

「Of course, that’s fine」

Ragne-chan easily nods, and more rules were added. It seems, this kid isn’t as eager as Radiant-san. In comparison, the wolf next to her was raising a groan. Ragne-chan is getting scared, so I’d like it if you stop.

「Then, is it fine to begin?」

「Aah, that’s fine――」

「Wait, please wait」

When Ragne-chan readied that unfitting, regal one handed sword, Lastiara opened her mouth. Not knowing the reason,  I look at Lastiara, and she talks in a voice only I could hear.

「Sieg. Just now, you easily agreed to the『Single Hit Loss Rule』――That’s quite the disadvantage. Since, Range-chan specializes in that」

「Heh? But, that child, her status is low?」

Compared to the other『Celestial Knights』up till now, her status is low. But I felt something in Lastiara’s grim expression.

「She’s one of the irregular kids whose『Value Is Not Reflected By Numbers』. I don’t want to favor you any more than this so I’ll stop here, but don’t lose from the『Start』」

Lastiara’s eyes were serious.

She was always optimistic when it came to the fights with the knights, but she couldn’t be optimistic with the『Single Hit Loss Rule』that Ragne-chan added.

『Start』. Irregular, exceeding status, an unpredictable attack from the『Start』, Ragne-chan will begin with that.

I was heavily favored…… 

I can’t afford to lose after being given this much. I strengthen《Dimension Gladiator》.

「Then, is it fine now?」

「Aah, it’s fine」

We confirm with each other, draw our swords, and give a bow. And then, the duel starts.

I immediately try to deploy my support magic――

「Magic《Fo――!?」

――an unidentifiable blade extends to my neck.

As it was being extended my《Dimension Gladiator》sensed it, and I managed to swing my sword upward, I succeed in diverting the blades path.

And then, I confirm the blades true identity.

The regal one handed sword in Ragne-chan’s hand hasn’t moved at all. Instead, from her other open hand, magic that had taken the shape of a sword comes out. I didn’t notice because I saw it, I noticed because I was able to see the magic on Ragne-chan’s body from above.

If I fought normally, then I certainly would’ve gotten an injury. I was somehow able to defend against it because of my special magic and Lastiara’s advice.

Having missed the starting attack, Ragne-chan immediately pulls the magic blade back, and panic appears on her face.

「Gee. You managed to cleanly doge it」

And then, with no time to take a breath, Range-chan’s second and third hit rush forward.

I parry the swords and avoid it.

The space between us was about ten meters, but it felt like she was battling right in front of me.

It felt like I was continuously being shot with a laser gun.

But, as Lastiara said, what I had to be careful of was only the『Start』.

If I know its origin, then it’s no longer an enemy to me. Ragne-chan’s ability, it felt like it wasn’t polished at all. To put it simply she had no sense. That most important『Feeling』wasn’t there

I’ve already gotten used to that extending sword, I repel her attacks and close the distance, and Ragne-chan immediately raises both hands.

「Aah, it’s impossible. Having lost with these advantageous conditions, it’s my first time」

It seems, she decided that she can no longer win if it continues.

Ragne-chan violently throws the regal sword on the ground, and conveys her will to surrender.

「Un, it was an interesting match. Thank you」

「No no, it was my pleasure」

I close the distance, and with good smiles the two of us shake hands.

One way or another, it really was like an athletics club.

Further in Ragne-chan’s senior, Radiant-san begins barking but I don’t worry about it. With a half smile Ragne-chan answers the wolf.

「Eeeh, it can’t be helped. This onii-san, he’s strong kind and cool, is there some kind of problem? If the Miss wasn’t first, then I would’ve fallen for him?」

But, in regards to that the wolf kept barking in a higher pitch.

Ragne-chan translates and puts the words in her mouth.

「U, ummmm? 『The sweet pure and beautiful, like a flower clean of corruption that blooms on the first snow, that Mistress, I won’t let her be taken by this kind of man』? Eehh, the Miss is quite the malicious person thoughー」

Lastiara responds after hearing that.

「Aah, how mean Ragne-chan. I’ve always been honest with you, and yet, malicous…… it looks like my tears are spilling out」

Lastiara acts as if she’s hurt by Ragne-chan’s words, and she pretends to cry. And then, the barking wolf begins biting on Ragne-chan.

「U, uwa, please stop it senpai! Look, that’s what I mean when the Miss is malicious!」

After Ragne-chan and the wolf played for some time, I confirm the adherence of the promise with Ragne-chan. As a knight, it was an oath that Range-chan couldn’t break.

And so, after the excited wolf calms down, they begin to depart.

「Ah, see you later Miss, good bye. See you later to cool onii-chan」

In a relaxed state, they begin walking up to the nineteenth floor in order to get to the ground above.

Since we were moving with magic we didn’t follow along, and we saw them off until they could no longer be seen.

Like this, I managed to clear my third fight against the 『Celestial Knights』.


This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Thank you very much for the looooong chapter!! 😀
    OMG, how much I’ve missed them all……….OMG!!

  2. Thanks. This brings me back.

  3. Thanks dude

  4. Wow! Looking forward to reading this! Heading back to Ridwan to re-read his translations before I do.

    Thank you for your excellent work! Can’t wait to read the end of this volume. 🙂

  5. Thanks for the chapter

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