After taking the mufflers, I’m forcefully taken by Lowen to the labyrinth.
The objective seems to be leveling up, but it looks like there’s also another reason.
By the way, Reaper wanted to keep playing on the surface so I entrusted her to Snow. Since looking after her would be easier than searching for the labyrinth, Snow easily agreed.
When we parted she happily took out knitting tools, it seems like she’s quite enthusiastic about it.
「―― With that out of the way, I’m now in the labyrinth with my close friend Kanami」
「Wh, when did we become close friends……」
Lowen and I talk as we walk along the twenty-first floor.
「Now that I think about it, this is my first friend who is close in age to me……. I’m counting on you to get rid of my regrets, Kanami」
「I know……. You don’t even need to ask, since I think of you as my friend Lowen」
Lowen said something very sad with a serious expression.
And drawn in by that sadness, I agreed.
「Day after day, I’ve always swung my sword. I couldn’t make any friends……」
Lowen mutter as he remembers his past. It feels like his eyes are gradually turning empty so I change the topic.
「Umm, are swords your speciality Lowen?」
「…… Aah, I think, that I’m the probably the best in the world」
「Eh, best in the world?」
「Aah, the best in the world」
The moment Lowen spoke of swords, he immediately puffed out his chest with pride.
He then breaks into a run and wanders around the labyrinth looking for monsters.
It doesn’t look like Lowen is using magic. However, he seems to be using a method different from mine to find them. A single Fury is discovered, and the sound of cracking joints echoes out.
「I’ll prove it. Hand me a weapon」
I take out a regular sword from 『Items』 and pass it to Lowen.
Lowen takes that sword, and with no hesitation he steps towards the Fury.
Naturally, the Fury raises a cry, and it then swings its arm with enough strength that it’s veins are sticking out.
The moment those four arms look like they touch Lowen ―― a crisp sound is made, and a thin line runs through the Fury’s arm.
The next moment, not even having touched Lowen, all four of the Fury’s arms fall to the earth.
Yes. Not even fluttering in the air, they simply fell.
It’s because I was able to grasp what that skill did through 《Dimension》, that that abnormal sword technique put me in awe. It could only be called a superhuman feat.
But even with my ability to grasp things through 《Dimension》, I was still unable to perceive Lowen’s preliminary movements. I’m sure that Lowen had no strength anywhere in his body right before he moved.
But the moment the monster attack was about to reach, Lowen swung his sword using the limits of the human body. That was all that happened.
When put into words it doesn’t sound like much, but actually seeing it caused me to go silent.
For example, if he were to be surrounded by all the works of art in the world, it’s possible that this attack would surpass them. Lowen’s sword is precisely something that surpasses art.
He swung his sword ―― and that was done with the utmost efficiency, without a single wasted movement.
In other words, within a billionth of a second, shifting his weight not a billionth of a gram, drawing a path a not a billionth of a centimeter, he swings his sword.
And that astronomically difficult slash, is something Lowen did with ease.
It’s because I understood its difficulty through 《Dimension》 that I was in awe. I couldn’t help but tremble.
At this point, it’s no longer a question about the way he uses his strength, or the way he swings his arm, or the way he moves his sword.
It is a technique that surpasses the theory of sword techniques and uses the absolute limits of the human body.
And then, the swords draws another thin line, and the Fury breaks into pieces.
As the Fury is turning to light, Lowen turns back to me.
Looking closely, not to mention any blood on him, there isn’t even any blood on the sword. That outrageously fast sword left behind all parts of the enemy.
「―― About thirty percent from my best」
With an unsatisfied look, Lowen returns to me.
Begin showed such a superhuman feat and then told it’s not even half his power, it’s unbelievable.
「Aah, it’s still too slow. But, there’s no helping it. Since I’m called the thirtieth floor’s Guardian, I’m probably limited to a strength appropriate for the thirtieth floor」
「Your strength is limited……? Something like that……?」
「Aah, if the thirtieth floor’s boss doesn’t have strength appropriate for the thirtieth floor, then won’t the humans be troubled?」
「…… That’s, quite kind」
「Aah, the labyrinth is kind to humans. A kind fellow did make it」
Lowen spoke of the labyrinth’s origins as if it were nothing.
This is probably information that no one on the surface knows.
「In other words, 『Someone』 made this labyrinth…… ?」
「Aah, but there’s a 『Rule』 that I can’t say who made it……. But 『Someone』 did make it」
Lowen makes a meaningful smile as he laughs.
It seems like there’s a restriction on the information that the Guardian’s can provide the searchers. He expressed that as a 『Rule』.
However, it’s important information. This isn’t something I can easily get.
「About this labyrinth, how much do you know?」
「Well, I’m not too well informed. What I do know is that in exchange of gaining the opportunity to lose my regrets, I have the mission of inviting humans to the hundredth floor」
After some thought, Lowen shook his head and answered.
Whether that’s a lie or not isn’t something I could tell. Maybe it’s because of that 『Rule』 that he has to answer like that.
I try searching if it’s the truth through Lowen’s face, but with a faint laugh he once again shakes his head.
「Honest. I swear as a friend that it isn’t a lie. …… My change to Guardian was the most sloppy, I didn’t get to well of an explanation. That day, as I was facing Reaper, I was suddenly swallowed. And that was done without any explanation」
「Swa, swallowed, by what?」
「I was swallowed by the continent. There are those types of magic ―― no, magic circles. And before I knew it, Reaper and I were thrown into the labyrinth」
「…… Alright. Then next is, can you tell me about 『That Day』? I want to know about the past of you and Reaper」
「Our past isn’t anything noteworthy. I was only a knight participating in a certain war, and Reaper was the product of a single person as a result of that war. That’s all it is. Aah, that really is all it is……」
Lowen smiles as he thinks of the past.
From that smile, I could tell that he’s remembering the encounter he had with Reaper in the past.
But I still want more information and cling on.
「That past, how long in the past was it? You were surprised in the morning when you saw the sky, was the world that different?」
「Uuumu. If I’m not mistaken there should’ve been something about being called in a thousand years …… so, it’s probably a thousand years ago. If a thousand years pass, then of course the world would change. The change in the color of the sky truly surprised me. …… Since the past was a boring age with nothing but wars. And I’m a knight who fell halfway on the path to spread my name」
Lowen spoke of his end as if it was nothing.
There were many feelings concealed in that. Not only regret and grief, but also nostalgia.
Not knowing how it’d feel to be a dead person, I couldn’t say anything, but Lowen laughs when he sees me like that.
「Haha, like I said you don’t have to worry. That’s what life is, the people who die without any regrets are the rare one」
「That might be so but……. Even then, I can’t laugh at a dead person……」
「How serious, Kanami. Take it easier」
As if urging me to relax, Lowen raises and then lowers his shoulders.
「Aah, you should enjoy yourself more. Enjoy this labyrinth」
「Enjoy, what…… ?」
「As long as you go through the labyrinth you will become stronger. Isn’t becoming stronger something enjoyable?」
The words of the labyrinth’s Guardian were profound.
As if, he’s saying that the labyrinth was made in a way for humans to get stronger. It wasn’t clearly stated, but the image Lowen has of the labyrinth was conveyed through those words.
「That’s true. Certainly, becoming stronger is enjoyable……」
There’s no doubt that the part of me that likes games finds this level up process enjoyable. If I’m being honest, I would say that it is enjoyable.
「Aah, become stronger. And for that, I brought you to the labyrinth」
「Umm, in other words…… ?」
「You want to become stronger in order to protect your everyday life. As a Guardian, I want the promising Kanami to become stronger. Our interests coincide. And, the labyrinth is the ideal training spot」
It looks like Lowen did have a decent reason to drag me to the labyrinth.
「Umm, Guardian’s have the duty to invite humans to the hundredth floor, and for that you make humans stronger?」
「Aah. That’s what I heard」
It’s something hard to believe. I heard that the hundredth floor will be able to grant any wish. In that case, it’d be normal to think that they were placed in order to prevent others from reaching there.
「The hundredth floor has an amazing treasure…… or some power like that doesn’t it? Then, that means the Guardian’s are here to give that power to humans? Really?」
「Nnn, who knows? I’m not too sure about that part」
I asked a natural question. However, Lowen’s response was expected.
「Who knows, is it……」
「There’s no question that an abnormal 『Power』 is gathered on the hundredth floor. But, when it comes to guarding or handing it over, I didn’t hear about that. The only thing I was told, was to invite」
「The Guardian’s role, it’s quite sloppy……」
「I agree with that. Many things were done losely. ―― It’s unlike that person」
Lowen agrees with my words and sinks into silence. He must be referring to that 『Someone』 who made the labyrinth.
Lowen probably won’t talk about that 『Someone』. Since that is the rule.
So instead of talking about something Lowen can’t say, I change the topic.
「Becoming stronger is more than welcomed, but are you fine with that Lowen? If I become stronger, it’d probably become harder to grant your wish of gaining overall victory in the 『Fighting Tournament』?」
「You don’t have to worry about that. As long as the opponent is formidable, the glory I’ll gain would still be great, it isn’t something bad for me. And it isn’t as if the glory relies only on the 『Fighting Tournament』. If it doesn’t work out we can simply think of the next method」
To me, either way works out.
Lowen’s goal has many difficult requirements to fulfill, but mine is different.
Because I can fulfil my goal as long as I become stronger.
If I become stronger, nobody would be able to threaten me. If I become stronger, I will be able to erase Lowen in a one on one battle at any moment. If I become stronger, whether it’s Palinchlon or those girls from before, I’ll be able to force them all to answer me. My opportunities in everything would increase.
「Alright, for now let’s aim to get stronger. Lowen, let’s go」
「Aah, then let’s go to the area around the thirtieth floor」
In the end it went the same as alway
Becoming stronger through searching the labyrinth and earning money.
There won’t be any drastic change in our situation, but this is the best option possible.
Together with Lowen, I progress deeper into the labyrinth.
Unlike Snow, Lowen is a very cooperative partner.
Not trying to skip out, not complaining. That alone is a big help. Above all, instead of the very rough fighting style Snow has, his is a wonderful one that considers even the smallest details.
Coordination is important, and the better it is the better the results in combat.
If I’m being honest, it’s a hundred times easier than fighting with Snow.
As his sword is a regular one, he isn’t able to attack the Crystal Golem, but even then his ability to be a distraction at the front is astounding.
Continually deflecting the enemy attacks, and at times even destroying the enemies posture with a martial art similar to aikido. Being such an amazing decoy raised our efficiency, and the time it usually takes to get there was cut by about half.
In about half the time it took me yesterday, we managed to reach the thirtieth floor.
On the thirtieth floor we sit on a rainbow colored rock and take a break.
「Still, your magic is really good Kanami」
As if he sees my deployed 《Dimension》, Lowen pointed at the magic power in the surroundings and praised my magic.
「Do you mean the dimension magic I have up right now?」
「Aah. The fact that you can see my movements, is because of this magic isn’t it?」
「That’s right. There’s lots of things I can do thanks to dimension magic」
If, if I didn’t have this dimension magic, then I might have still been around the tenth floor.
That’s just how much of my strength comes for it.
「Your own sense isn’t anything to scoff at either. This will be fun」
「Fun? What do you mean fun?」
「With your 『Dexterity』 and 『Potential』, it looks like I’ll be able to teach you my own sword techniques」
With his usual expression, Lowen said something outrageous.
「Eh, teach me that sword……?」
I recalled that godly slash of Lowen’s that I saw on the twenty-first floor and couldn’t believe those words.
「Aah, you’re more talented than you think. If it’s with that 『Dexterity』 and 『Potential』, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to acquire it. You should be able to learn any normal skills」
Lowen repeated the words 『Dexterity』 and 『Potential』. That is, he is probably talking about the status.
「Do the values of 『Dexterity』 and 『Potential』 have a connection to skills…… ?」
「Aah, they do. But although I say that, I’m also not too well informed so I can’t explain it. Since the conversation of status and skill didn’t happen until right before I died……」
It seems like the concept of status and skills were born a thousand years ago.
「Anyways, if it’s you then you should be able to learn all the skills available in this world no questions asked. And, very easily at that」
「All……? Something so ridiculous……」
That’s not something I can believe all of a sudden.
Certainly, I am confident when it comes to my status. When Palinchlon introduced me to a Lauravian priest, that priest was dumbfounded when he went to check my level and status. But even then, I don’t think I’ll be able to easily learn that sword.
「I’m not lying. If it’s the dimension attribute specialized mage Kanami, then it’s definitely possible」
「Th, then, isn’t it weird that I don’t have more skills? Right now, the skills I have are 『Dimension Magic』, 『Freezing Magic』, and 『Swordsmanship』, only those three. If I’m able to learn them so easily, then wouldn’t I have more skills?」
「That’s because you haven’t tried to learn them. Subconsciously, you probably thought that you wouldn’t be able to learn skills so easily didn’t you?」
「That’s, I did……」
The common opinion is that throughout one’s life only one or two skills can be learned. That is the common sense that this world acquired, as well as the common sense that I acquired.
「Listen up. It’s easy as long as the conditions are met. Generally, dimension attribute mages excel at observing. Dimension magic can clearly see the movements of a person with a skill, and remember it. With that alone the skill can be obtained. Most likely, you’re able to take in a terrifying quantity of information, perceive it all, and memorize it. And, you also have the talent to accurately imitate it all. You can definitely replicate my sword」
As Lowen declared that, he moved his sword to his eye.
This is the first time today that he took a stace.
And then, as if modeling that stance, he lightly swings his sword down.
It was a light, but beautiful swing.
That was like a perfected sword technique. Those polished movements let me feel the history in it.
「Was that sword technique just now from some sort of school…… ?」
「…… As expected. …… The fact that you called that swing a 『Sword Technique』 is abnormal. Normally, it’d look like nothing but a normal swing. But Kanami, you saw the twitches of the flesh, the center of gravity, the position of the gaze, the place where power was poured, the swing of the arms, the entire body’s movements, and you were able to judge that it was a 『Sword Technique』. It’d be better for you to realize just how terrifying that is」
I couldn’t answer back to what Lowen pointed out.
Recently I’ve been spreading dimension as much as I can. And understanding what happened within its range became a bad habit.
It was something like getting worldly wisdoms to familiarize myself with this unfamiliar different world.
But, doing that raised dimension’s level, and it now became something else.
Certainly, if it’s about the movements of a human, then it might be that there’s nothing I can’t understand.
If I were to compare it with my world then ―― no matter a magician’s illusion, I’d be able to figure it out before I even see it ―― no matter a pro baseball player throw, I’d be able to understand the type of throw and speed before the ball is thrown ―― no matter how many thousands of years of history a kung fu master has, I’d be able to understand their movements before they move ―― and all of that, can probably be done on the first time I ever see it.
With examples of events I’m familiar with, I was able to understand just how bizarre this really is.
「For the time being, I’ll have you copy all of my skills. And, the skill I’m most confident in is 『Swordsmanship』. First I’ll give instructions on my 『Sword』」
Once again, Lowen elegantly swings his sword.
From the top, diagonally, horizontally, with all sorts of angles, with all sorts of stances, a slash is launched, and his eyes were always on me.
Supposedly I can imitate it just by watching.
「If I’m being taught, then I’ll learn as much as I can without reserve……. ―― Magic 《Dimension Gladiate》」
I grasp the movement of that beautiful sword with my dimension magic.
Filling Lowen’s surroundings with magic power, I gather all the information on his actions.
It isn’t only the movement of his body. The small movements of Lowen’s magic power, his heartbeat, blood pressure, sweat, eye movement, every small detail is gathered.
A technique isn’t something that can be done simply with the body. The movements of the heart are strongly connected to it. And in order to imitate that mental state, I search for that information.
A state attained after steady repetitive practice ―― the way it’s swung down, swung diagonally, thrust, I memorize it all.
Now that I think about it, I never gazed at something as long as I am right now.
Since in battle, what’s important is getting the least amount of information required in the fastest time possible. Because of that I never considered the idea of stealing another’s technique by using 《Dimension》.
Lowen’s splendid performance comes to an end, and I begin swinging my sword in the way I saw.
With my abnormal observation and memorization ability, I do that splendid performance. Of course, my movements couldn’t be compared to Lowen’s. However, I’m confident that they are the very same movements.
「Ohー, amazing. You really managed the same movements with a single look. If any knight who diligently trained saw this then they’d go crazy」
After seeing my makeshift performance, Lowen praises it while applauding.
「No, with my magic attribute, imitating it should be easy」
「No no, imitating it like that would usually takes years……」
With a bitter smile, Lowen once again shows various other sword forms.
While watching that, I scold myself for my thoughtless remark. Although Lowen easily performs that superhuman feat, there should still be a time in the past where he trained. And my remark just now made light of that.
「Umm, uh…… sorry, Lowen」
「There’s no need to apologize to me. The ones you should apologize to are the swordsman of the world. As for me, right now a promising disciple appeared before me, I’m in a great mood」
「Eh, di, disciple? Me?」
That statement caused my body to stiffen.
「Aah, I’ll have you master the Araith style swordsmanship before the 『Fighting Tournament』」
In an excited state Lowen went and named me his disciple on his own.
Including the fact that Lowen named me as a close friend before I knew it, it’s possible that Lowen has a tendency to go wild with things.
However, the Araith house…… If I remember, it should be a noble house that this ages sword saint comes from. Lowen might be their ancestor.
Lowen then continues his delusions while still excited.
「And then, there will be a showdown between disciple and master at the finals of the 『Fighting Tournament』―― ! Through the graceful dance of the Araith style sword, the people will be captivated by the performance. Like that, even if I were to lose, with my disciple Kanami as the victor I will attain my promised glory. ―― I can then say a line like 『Fuu, my greatest disciple, Kanami……. You’ve done well to surpass your master……. As I watched over your growth, I felt happiness, sadness……. And now, I can declare, that I have properly passed the Araith style swordsmanship…… 』. As the master who conveyed a legendary sword technique, I should gain the attention of the masses」
「Un, well, if that’s what’ll satisfy you then I don’t mind being your disciple…..」
If I take out the unnecessary things, this isn’t something so bad. No one will lose anything in this way.
No matter who the victor is, Lowen will attain his honour. And I’ll also be able to learn Lowen’s sword technique.
「Alright! This will stand out. Not bad at all」
Like a child, Lowen thinks of the glory in the 『Fighting Tournament』.
「Calm down, Master. Calm down, take a deep breath, and teach me the next technique」
After the imitated sword dance ends, I urge my Master Lowen for the next one.
When I called Lowen Master, his loose expression became even looser.
And so, turning the sword in his hand like a baton, as the sword dances, he declares.
「Fuu, fine then. The third generation lord of the Araith house, Lowen Araith, swears here. I will make Aikawa Kanami the Araith House’s 『Sword Successor』!」
A great smile appears. From the bottom of his heart, he’s having fun.
As close friends, that also makes me happy.
Having fun is a good thing, and that alone helps brush away most of my distress.
With a bitter smile, I burn Lowen’s figure into my eyes.
Even if an unavoidable death awaits him, Lowen Araith laughs from the bottom of his heart. In that case, I won’t stop him ――