Chapter 19: Reluctantly Challenging the Labyrinth
The Labyrinth. In an area inhabited by insectoid monsters, I ran through the humid green corridor all by myself.
I dodged the scythes that came at me from all directions, sometimes deflecting them with my sword when I had to.
In front of me was a giant butterfly boss monster, and many other monsters—all in the shape of a praying mantis—were surrounding me.
I sorted the information provided by «Dimension» in my mind and determined the shortest route to break through the situation. I left the swarm of scythes behind me and charged toward the giant butterfly—the Queen of Forest—without looking aside.
In response, the Queen of Forest shook her wings, generating wind scythes that glided through the air towards me. Not much of a threat, to be honest. The wind scythes were each only a few meters wide, effectively no different from any normal slash. I had no problem dodging them, getting closer to the boss monster as I did, until I finally brought my sword to the heart of my foe.
The Queen of Forest shielded her chest with her shell-covered arms. However, I changed the path of my sword the moment she did so.
My sword cleanly decapitated her head, and with the same movement, I also slashed the limbs that had lost their power. The clickity-clack noise of the surrounding mob monsters grew louder. They attacked me in their rage.
But it was no use. Their vanguards were no match for me, especially after they lost the support of the Queen of Forest’s long-range attacks.
I slashed at the incoming mantises, one by one.
That was how the battle ended in less than a minute since it started. The Queen of Forest and her underlings disappeared in a flash of light.
I let a sigh escape me.
Conclusively speaking, it was a fight with too much leeway. And rightly so. My level was different from before. However, the accomplishment of defeating a boss all by myself that previously required two people to defeat felt undoubtedly rewarding.
Immediately, I checked my ‘Status’.
Name: Kanami Aikawa
HP: 302/322, MP: 506/512
STR: 6.19, VIT: 6.28, DEX: 7.21, AGI: 9.44, WIS: 9.33, MAG: 21.66, APT: 7.00
Araith Household’s Treasured Sword
Defeating Tida had earned me tens of thousands of EXP, pushing me up to level 10. My ability values had skyrocketed compared to when I was level 6, and I’d bet I could keep up with Tida’s movements with those numbers.
However, my Confusion modifier had also increased dramatically.
By the way, I’d saved up my Skill points, while my Bonus points were allocated to HP. STR and MAG hadn’t failed me just yet, so I dumped those points into HP for the time being since I’d discovered that HP could make up for MP in times of need.
Once raised to that level, the EXP the Queen of Forest provided became unsatisfactory. However, I felt like something in me that the ‘Display’ couldn’t show had grown significantly.
I stopped deploying «Dimension».
I judged that there was no need to consume MP in the early stages. I knew the monsters and the trap layouts in the early floors, and there was little risk of dying because of them in terms of level difference. Above all else, ordinary explorers didn’t have such a godly radar, namely «Dimension», at their disposal. I planned to refrain from relying on it too much so that I could cultivate my natural observation and attentive abilities. If I could conserve my mana with it, my capability to fight consecutive battles would improve too.
I put the Drop Items into my ‘Item list’ and put the ‘Map’ on the ‘Display’.
The paths I had taken were mapped out, and the shortest distance to the next floor was marked.
I proceeded along the path and probed around, not by magic but by using my five senses.
“Aah… It’s actually scary…”
I muttered to myself for the first time in a long while.
However, that was not the same sad monologue as my first day in this world. It was a monologue to tell myself that everything would be all right.
I walked down the corridor, trying not to miss anything, and talked to myself from time to time to keep my nerves steady.
That day’s goal was twofold.
The first goal was to advance through the Labyrinth alone.
However, there would be no point in proceeding only on the Main Road, so I set myself to defeat one boss monster on each floor. That was also to prevent ignoring too many enemies, as I might end up on a floor with monsters way above my capabilities… Although, none of the boss monsters in the early floors were any match for me after I hit level 10.
I passed the 2nd floor, 3rd floor, and 4th floor with no problem.
And as I proceeded through the 5th floor, my feet brought me to a certain room.
The last room separating the 5th floor from the 6th floor… That was the space where we had fought Tida. That was also where I would look for Dia’s severed arm, which was the second goal for the day’s excursion.
I looked all around the room, but I couldn’t find it. I gave up on it at the time because it wouldn’t enter my ‘Item list’, and we didn’t exactly have any spare time, but from the looks of it, it didn’t seem like I would ever find it again. Maybe someone took it away, or maybe the Labyrinth had some sort of mechanism to cleanse itself. There might even have been monsters roaming around that fed on filth and trash, for example.
I couldn’t ask for what wasn’t there, so I continued down the stairs to the next floor. When I reached the 6th floor, I spread out my «Dimension» to scout out the nearest boss based on the information I had obtained at the tavern, but…
I was interrupted by a high-pitched scream.
That was an ordinary thing down there in the Labyrinth. Everyone faced adversaries at their own risks, so I usually kept a cold heart and ignored them. That time, however, the scream was of a different kind.
It was a high-pitched scream. In short, a kid’s.
* * *
* * *
Had that been the voice of an adult, I would have been able to willfully pass it by. But because it was a kid’s, my conscience began to overcome me.
I knew it was all hypocritical, but to continue to fight against my conscience was painful. Sleeping at night was already difficult as is. Intentionally letting them die there would make every night a sleepless one.
I ran chasing after the scream, hating my own nature.
—I’ll just pop in quick and leave just as quickly.
I spread out «Dimension» and acquired information before arriving at the destination. A few hundred meters away, there was a party of four engaging monsters in a particularly wide corridor.
There was a huge monster with countless tentacles rampaging in the center, and there were about ten octopus-shaped monsters, which appeared to be its underlings, surrounding it.
One member of the party, a boy, was captured by the monsters. A girl with twin-tailed hair was trying to force her way in to save the boy. The other two were dealing with the octopus-shaped monsters that kept them engaged, so they seemed to be unable to support the former two.
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—It was the worst.
It was a party of explorers not too far below my age. They were women and children. If I left them to die, the stress would be too much.
I kept running as fast as I could—eventually, I could feel the humidity rise. Finally, when it felt like I was running in shallow water, I reached the battlefield.
“I’m not an enemy! I’m here to help!!”
The first thing I did was declare that I had no intention of being hostile. I didn’t want them to attack me in the case that they thought I was there to kill-steal.
I approached the enemy as I made my declaration.
Things were getting worse. The captured boy was being brought near the monster’s huge mouth. Taking a closer look, the girl who was trying to defend the boy was also captured in the short time it took me to get there.
“—Magic, «Dimension Gladiator».”
The moment my magic was cast, the underling monsters noticed my intrusion and reached out to grab me.
I dodged them with minimal movement, cutting down anything that stood in my way, and pushed forward towards the giant monster.
First, I went to the girl who was caught by a tentacle and was about to be thrown into the air, and I slashed at the tentacle with my sword. I quickly resheathed the sword and caught the falling girl in my arms.
The girl seemed to have no idea what had happened. After a small shriek, she let out a small questioning yelp.
Then, after a few moments, she realized that she was in my embrace, and her face turned beet red.
I immediately set her down and broke into a run. The biggest problem was the boy. I couldn’t keep attending to the girl forever.
I arrived there right in time, just before the boy was thrown into the monster’s gaping mouth. I quickly sliced open the tangled tentacles, held the boy in my arms, and protected him from falling into the monster’s gigantic mouth.
The boy seemed too frightened to speak properly. He was probably just a little younger than me. His face was pale, and his body was shaking. I’d bet he wouldn’t be able to move well.
Seeing that, I patted him on the head.
“It’s all right now. Don’t worry. Just stay a bit farther away.”
“O-okay, I will…”
I showed him the most gentle smile I could produce. Seeing that smile, the boy nodded, then retreated.
After that, I turned my heel and faced the monster.
Its underlings were octopi, but the main monster itself was something else altogether. Its countless tentacles were oddly similar to that of an octopus, but its main body reminded me more of a crustacean, making it look like an amalgamation of a shrimp-octopus. It made a weird clacking sound as it wriggled what looked like crustacean legs around its huge maw.
It was probably about five meters in size. It was a monstrosity with most of its body consisting of a single mouth.
—Definitely one of the most disgusting monsters my eyes had ever laid upon.
I held my breath and leaped, using my sword to chip away at its offending mouth first. Its tentacles then gathered towards me, sensing that the main body was in danger.
From the looks of it, the main body was dull, making the tentacles the sinew of the monster. I could see from its features that it was aquatic. However, it didn’t seem to use any special aquatic ability.
I slit the tentacles one after another before I finally sliced the mouth horizontally. Then I found what I believed to be its sensory organs, namely its eyes and respiratory organs, and crushed them. Then, when the monster shrieked and stopped moving around, I jumped on top of its huge body and stabbed my sword through its brain.
The monster let out a screeching sound. I redoubled the strength I applied to my sword and sliced its brain vertically open. Sensing that it must be the killing blow, I quickly moved away from the monstrosity.
The monster’s bodily fluids erupted out of it like a fountain, and its massive body collapsed to the ground. The countless tentacles followed suit, and soon after, all of them disappeared in a flash of light.
【You have earned the title 『The Darkness of Ocean Depths』】
Your Dexterity has been adjusted by +0.01
After witnessing the ‘Display’ give out its announcement, I turned my attention to the underling monsters. Those monsters didn’t disappear even after their master had fallen. On the contrary, they would be enraged and attack the one who had killed their master, aka me.
—Which was welcome. Those monsters stopped fighting the party of four and headed my way, so I doubted there would be any risk of death on those kids’ part.
I started to cut down the monsters that were drawing closer to me. Their attacks made the best use of their elastic bodies, but their movements were just that slow. With «Dimension Gladiator» up and running, they would never best me.
The moment they were close enough to touch me, they were already slashed, crumbled, and disappeared as light. It didn’t take long to exterminate them all.
“—Haa, haa, haa!”
Nevertheless, while I didn’t take any damage, my breath was still ragged.
As I regulated my breathing, I checked around by way of magic to make sure all the monsters were gone. All that remained in the area was the party of kids and a magic stone that had fallen into the shallow water.
Somehow, I have a feeling I will be able to sleep peacefully tonight…
As I was feeling at ease with the outcome, one of the party members called out to me.
It was the first girl I had saved. She had long, golden hair in twin tails—her fashion sense seemed quite outstanding. She was wearing an expensive-looking garment that looked too out of place to be seen in the Labyrinth. If anything, it looked like a school uniform. It was a fine, indigo-colored outfit designed for cleanliness and practicality.
“…Err. It looked like you were in danger, so I brought myself to save you. Was I a bother?”
I had no idea what I was supposed to do after I saved them. Hence why the words that came out of my mouth were so strange.
Hearing that, the girl shook her head, a bit panicky.
“N-never! It is preposterous to even think so!”
Even combining both this world and before, that was the first time ever I heard someone speaking like that. Well, no, I had heard it in stories and games, but seeing a real live person speaking in that manner was a surprise.
“…I see. That’s good, then.”
“I am thoroughly grateful to you for saving us from such a grave situation. It still eludes me how you took down that ferocious monster in but an instant… If you don’t mind, would you please enlighten me with your name?”
The girl’s eyes sparkled as she asked for my name. Her cheeks were red, and her nostrils seemed to be slightly puffed up for some time. Simply put, she seemed to be in a state of excitement. Her neat and shapely profile, like that of a well-raised young lady, had been spoiled.
“E-err, I’m not a man worthy—”
I decided that I probably shouldn’t give out my name to avoid getting into trouble, but then I would have to use the phrase, “I’m not a man worthy of being remembered.” It was a phrase quite common in stories, but when it came time for me to use it, for some reason, it became really embarrassing to even say it, and so I was at a loss for words right in the middle of speaking.
“Please, I am begging you… Just give me your name…!!”
“Ah, yes. It’s Christ.”
The girl’s swarthiness pushed me to spit my name out.
“Oh dear, Christ-sama it is then. How beautiful it sounds.”
The girl ruminated on my name, her expression ecstatic.
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—Ah, this girl’s a bad egg.
That was my first impression of the girl summed up neatly. And then, soon, I would regret that I didn’t just walk away without a word, as my impression of her hit the nail perfectly.