Depths of the Otherworldly Labyrinth
[Translator – Mab ]
[Proofreader – ilafy ]
Chapter 33 - Bargain
“As expected of you, Kanami. Oh no, you go by the name Christ now, don’t you?”
A voice came from above my head. Just like with Tida’s case, my attention to places above me was lacking. That bad habit was quite pronounced, especially after I put all of my focus on a battle.
I was on high alert, my eyes glaring at her, when Lastiara jumped down from the roof of the tavern.
“It’s been a while. Have I kept you waiting?”
She approached me, her long golden hair flowing. She wore the same outfit as the night she had assaulted me—a light outfit made of fine cloth.
—With only one stark difference: a silver sword at her waist.
My eyes meet Lastiara’s.
“Not really… I can’t say I waited for you at all.”
I retorted dauntlessly, continuing to look directly into her deep, golden eyes.
I was a different man than I was on my first day there. I had grown accustomed to how the world worked and acquired the abilities to fight it. I didn’t feel as much pressure from her as I did before.
I focused on her, fully prepared for all hell to come loose.
Name: Lastiara Whoseyards
HP: 670/689, MP: 312/315
STR: 11.01, VIT: 10.56, DEX: 6.78, AGI: 7.89, WIS: 12.38, MAG: 8.78, APT: 4.00
Armed Combat: 2.12
Magic Combat: 2.27
Blood Arts: 5.00
Pseudo God’s Eye: 1.00
Holy Magic: 1.03
Body Principles: 1.00
【Celestial Sword Noah】
Consumption Rate: -99%
Details about Lastiara that were unknown to me before flowed into my mind.
Her level, her ‘Skills’, her weapon—they were all first-class.
However, it was still within the tolerable limits. Indeed, Lastiara had been ten times stronger than me when I was at level 1. However, with the way I had grown, I would be able to fight her pretty well.
“How cold of you. I have always waited for this day, you know?”
“Cold, you say… Are you not aware you just threw me into trouble…”
“But that much of hiccup was nothing to you, was it, Kanami?”
Lastiara likened a sword duel with one of the strongest of humanity to a hiccup.
“More importantly, your tone. Let’s not be strangers. We’re supposed to be lovers, after all.”
Lastiara smiled, saying that there was no need to have a distance between us. “That’s what’s been established,” she added, her smile brazen and imposing.
I grew warier—that self-centered demeanor of hers had gotten me thrashed around one too many times.
“Sure. I never wanted to be courteous to someone like you either.”
“Fufufu. Look how confident you’ve become after your level has risen… Ah, I suppose I should shift my tone as well. Such ostentatious mannerisms aren’t appropriate when I’m talking to you, is that right, Kanami?”
“I’ll make it clear: I will not play by your book. I’ll no longer lose, even if you attack me.”
“I won’t attack you, no. I always treat others with virtue and goodwill, you know?”
“And that’s how you got Radiant-san attached to you?”
“Quite useful, isn’t she?”
Lastiara spoke as if there really was nothing wrong.
There wasn’t the slightest sign of distress in her. She seemed to genuinely believe that the duel was no more than a hiccup.
My position in the tavern, the fundamental danger of dueling with swords, the impression the knights would have of me… She thought nothing of it, nothing.
“Hell, if she is—”
“If you truly perceive this as me falsely accusing you of a crime you didn’t commit, then you would have chosen to patiently explain your innocence, no? And yet, Kanami, you chose to accept the duel. ‘This Celestial Knights lot is no more than a hiccup, not a threat for me. At most, they’re convenient to test powers on,’ is what you thought, or am I wrong?”
Those golden pupils. That Pseudo God Eye or whatever ‘Skill’ must have seen through all of me. At the very least, I was sure it read my thoughts to some extent. I felt like I had been dealing with people with eye-related ‘Skills’ a lot lately.
It was hard to do anything with them. I missed Dia—he was so pure and innocent.
Seeing that I didn’t deny what she said, Lastiara continued to talk.
“Exactly. You and Serra-chan are completely different. The density of the soul dwelling in her body is different from yours. A gap between levels is nothing to you. I wanted to teach you that, and I wanted to share this feeling with you. I, too, feel that she is someone convenient.”
Lastiara spoke with her cheeks taut and her nostrils flaring. While her eyes, they were brilliant with madness.
Her tone became more and more theatrical, revealing that she was intoxicated with herself.
“Kanami and I, we both are at a higher stage in this world, much closer to the spotlight of this story. We are loved, we are gifted, and we are blessed by the world. We are chosen beings. Soon we will be alone, and we will only have each other by our side—So, let us join hands. That’s all I am saying.”
Lastiara finished her speech and extended her hand to me. I spun my words carefully and resolutely so I wouldn’t be swallowed by her madness.
“…Maybe you have a point, but that’s some narrow-minded narrative you just said. …So, in the end, what do you want?”
“H-huh? That’s a flat reaction. I’m pretty sure my invitation was pretty thought-provoking.”
When I gave my response without being carried away by her momentum, Lastiara displayed her confusion.
“See? You’re doing this half for the fun of it, after all. That’s why I only listened to half of what you said.”
“Nn~, right, I admit that half of the words I said I picked for my own taste… But I want you to believe that the other half is fully serious. With all honesty, I am looking for someone to party up with. To sum it up, I want you to add me to your Labyrinth exploration… Will you please let me be your companion?”
I didn’t even give it a thought; my mouth moved on its own.
“That’s quick. Eeh, give it more thought. You replied too quickly.”
Lastiara waved her hands in panic. On the other hand, I was calm when I dealt with her.
“Isn’t it obvious? You’re too big of a mystery for me.”
“Being a mystery from the start is much more interesting, right? Like, the more time we spend together, the more you reveal who I am, isn’t that what you’d call interesting?”
“No, I’m not really chasing after what is interesting, you know…”
“Eh? Then why do you delve into the Labyrinth?”
“Well… it’s to go home.”
There was nobody in the vicinity. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if even the ground had ears, so I didn’t specify where I would go home to. Lastiara, however, should have known that there were two worlds, so the meaning behind my words should have gotten through to her.
“Eh, you want to go home?”
Her response implied she didn’t expect my answer.
“Obviously, I do. That’s all I’ve ever thought about, this whole time, ever since that day.”
“Huh… Hmm. Then all the more the reason you are going to need me.”
I understood what she meant.
Indeed, the exploration would be much easier if I had Lastiara’s help. On top of her talent which was on par with Dia’s, she had the abilities suited to be a vanguard. To be frank, I wanted to have her strength so badly that it was unreal.
After recognizing her value, my words to her naturally softened.
“You’re right. Having you as a companion would be reassuring, but… you’re too much of an enigma. I cannot accept you unless I know that your interest is aligned with mine.”
“Interest, huh… I think our interests are aligned, you know?”
“Tell me yours then. What is your aim?”
* * *
Translator - Mab
Proofreader - ilafy
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* * *
Lastiara’s aim… On my first day, she had healed my body, and then she had gone through the trouble of assailing me in the middle of the night to forcibly level me up. Then the Celestial Knights hunted me because of her, and she had even made me duel a knight named Radiant, basically selling me off to her.
Unless I knew the reason behind her actions, I would forever perceive Lastiara as an enemy.
Perhaps she could sense my determination not to back down; Lastiara's expression changed drastically before she dropped a few words.
“My aim is only one thing: I want to have it… an Adventure.”
Her eyes were, as ever, straightforward and mad. However, unlike before, there was human longing dwelling in them.
“You want to have an adventure?”
“Yep, a heart-throbbing adventure. If possible, one where I can have fun exploring the Labyrinth with these things called companions. Ah, while I do say companions, I won’t accept anyone who treats me like I am special, okay? Also, I can’t accept anyone who can’t get up to my standard either. Those two points are important.”
“Right, and I fit both criteria…”
“I’ve always been bored, you see… I had always been in my cage since I was born. No stimulation, nothing. It was a prison where I had to be given everything by hand, so I envied those heroic tales, those adventure stories, and most importantly, the people in them. I was jealous of the lives that could be lost or gained depending on the strength of one’s will—I wanted this so bad it hurt me.”
Lastiara spoke with unstoppable emotion. Her words were clear and straightforward. Her voice sounded like a cry from the heart—a cry of childish and naive envy.
It was no more different than a child throwing a tantrum, and I couldn’t help but feel that there was nothing false about her sentiment, and she also sounded pretty similar to a certain someone.
“…I understand what you meant, more or less.”
“If you do, then I want you to take responsibility. I used to be able to curb this feeling before I met a delightful fellow like you, you know? And yet, not only do you have the Skill ‘Foreigner,’ you were riddled in wounds, you were one foot in the grave, you were all alone in the Labyrinth, and you were at just level 1—My envy of you made me lose control of myself. Just… what protagonist of what kind of story are you? What kind of adventure will unfold before you…? All these questions haunted me. So please, I want you to include me in your story. I’m begging you, please…”
What started as a request ended up being a plea. It was as if her standing was never consistent. It was obvious that Lastiara’s emotions shifted with every second that passed.
The more we talked, the more it was revealed how unstable Lastiara’s character was. So terribly unstable. She was no more steady than a card tower that could collapse at any moment.
A very immature mind unbalanced to her ripe body and grown level… Should I guess it from her story, it was probably the typical girl locked in a box syndrome. The gap between her mentality and her actual strength gave the impression of a child crushing ants under her boots for fun.
“…Haah, at least now I know very well how childish you are.”
“I am serious, Kanami. I will help you in your aim to go home, so I want you to help me achieve my dream too. Please.”
Hearing my frank opinion of her, Lastiara was indignant and continued to bargain with a serious look on her face. Appearance-wise, I could confirm that she was also of age.
It was clear that Lastiara remained a danger to me. However, as mysterious as she was, I had many uses for her in my mind. The bargain itself wasn’t bad. If I could control Lastiara’s childishness, then there was no one better than her, and that was a fact.
On the contrary, the disadvantages of letting her go would be much greater. If I let her to her own devices, there was always the possibility of her leaking information about me—which meant it was only appropriate to keep her where my eye could see her.
In that small window of time, I quickly weighed the pros and the cons before I slowly chose my words.
“…You’re right. A collaborator is always welcome. I can put you in my party on a probation—”
“Yay, thank you!”
Before I could finish my words, Lastiara joyfully shook my hand. While I let her do whatever she pleased with it, I laid out the conditions for her to follow my party.
“But no funny business, or else you will talk to my fist. I will make you unable to move and kick you out of the party right away.”
The moment I judged I couldn’t control her, I would silence her. That was the one thing I had to make up my mind to do. However, I wasn’t sure how much I could do to keep her mouth shut.
“That’s fine, that’s fine. All I want is to play in the Labyrinth with you, Kanami. I won’t do anything funny.”
“Also, clear up the misunderstanding you made with Radiant-san and the other knights.”
“Eh? Hmm, let’s keep that one brewing. I think if we establish our relationship as lovers, they'll be less likely to send pursuers after us. Those people deify the concept of love, after all, so it’s more convenient this way.”
Deify the concept of love? True, I also thought that love was precious and noble. However, I also thought that such a way of thinking simply didn’t suit this world.
…thinking brings me nowhere. That was not what was important. The pursuers… that was what was important.
“Hold on, so you and the pursuers are already a set?”
“But it’s me get, and it comes with sparring partners too! Wait, Kanami, I’m not some discount sales, you know?!”
They were going to keep coming, it seemed. She was right; at my level, opponents at the caliber of Celestial Knights could only be regarded as sparring partners.
I felt like I was being taken for a ride by Lastiara, but… well, I had to exhaust all options. If push came to shove, I wouldn’t mind throwing everything behind me.
Above all else, it was already proven that dueling with a knight was a real learning experience. They were neither far too weak nor far too strong and yet they possessed a lot of expertise. We would be protected by rules, so there would be no killing. I had chosen to have a short duel in my fight against Radiant-san, but perhaps I could take my time observing my opponent’s arts when the time came.
“There! You nodded! You definitely nodded! Don’t say you didn’t later, okay!!”
Seeing that I vaguely accepted her, Lastiara took the opportunity to grasp my hand tightly and wave it around.
【Lastiara Whoseyards has Joined Your Party】
Party Leader is Kanami Aikawa
And there came the ‘Display’ indicating that Lastiara had joined my party. I had been using the party system for a while, but it seemed like the conversation we just had fulfilled the conditions for her to join my party.
I wouldn’t know the detailed conditions until I tried it out, but for the moment, it seemed like it was enough if both of us vocally agreed that she would join.
—There were then four people in my party.
I gained two more members in just two. Perhaps having more wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, so that was okay… Maybe…
“Now, let us go to your base of operation, Kanami. Oh man, I can’t wait to start the adventure tomorrow.”
“Wait, hold on, you want to go to my house right now?”
“I do… why?”
Lastiara responded as if it was the most obvious thing, with a smile to boot. That was one damned feminine smile if I ever saw one. It wasn’t androgynous like Dia’s, nor was it childishly innocent like Maria’s. It was of a girl of my own age, about the same height as me, no less. I couldn’t possibly be conscious of it.
“W-wait a second…! Let me think…!”
I panicked and tried to keep my emotions under control.
Lastiara wanted to make my house our base of operations. I had no idea how other people of the same party stayed with each other in this world. Was it common for all members to share the same roof to sleep under? It made sense if it was some novice explorer with no money to spare. Saving money was essential. With companions, helping each other was pretty self-explanatory—but if she could afford it, wouldn’t it be natural for her to stay in other places instead?
I mean, I did say that I would make her my companion, but I wanted to keep her away as much as possible in my downtime. She wasn’t someone weak like Maria was.
“Not yet, Kanami?”
“I was just taken aback a bit… But can you not stay at my house? I don’t know how relationships work in this world, but in my world, it’s embarrassing for boys and girls of age to sleep under the same roof. Why don’t we sleep in different places? You have the money, don’t you?”
“Well, I don’t know how this world and your world works, Kanami, but… in the books I read, companions always sleep under the same roof, you know? I think it’s more fun that way, and it’s not like my money is infinite. A copper saved is a copper earned—that’s what I think.”
Lastiara didn’t seem to know the common sense of an adventurer either. However, she seemed to have learned some things from the books she read. If that was how adventurers do it in the tales of this world, then that was probably how the adventurers of this time did it too.
A copper saved is a copper earned. The very same monetary sense I had.
“Is… is that so… That’s how it works, then…?”
She had assailed me in my sleep before, but she hadn’t taken my life. I wouldn’t have to worry about being killed by her in my sleep then, probably.
If that was the case, then it should be okay to lend her a place to sleep.
The rest was a matter of my embarrassment. The main problem was I would be in the proximity of a beautiful girl named Lastiara for many hours a day. As a man, sure, that brought me joy, but it was also the truth that such feelings were useless for me right then.
“Is it really something to worry about…? Can’t you just take it more casually…?”
Lastiara interjected, unable to understand why I kept agonizing over it.
“…fine. Just follow me. I’ve got a lot of empty rooms.”
“Eh, rooms? It’s not an inn?”
“No, it’s a house. I just bought it yesterday.”
“Huh, that’s lucky for me. Although, I was looking forward to some rundown inn like in those adventure tales. Like the one I found you in before, Kanami.”
“By before, you mean my first day? That’s the most expensive inn around, you know?”
“Hou. You mean there are even more cramped and rundown places than that one? That sounds fun.”
Lastiara seemed to have a yearning for a life of poverty. If people who were truly suffering from poverty heard what she said, they would surely be outraged. That kind of insensitivity must have been one of her shortcomings.
We concluded our conversation and started our walk to go home.
“Aah, and lastly, stop calling me by the name Kanami. I go by the name Christ Eurasia in this world.”
“Hmm. I got it, Christ. …By the way, what’s the meaning of that name?”
“It’s the name of the most famous teaching and the name of a continent in my world. It will surely trigger anyone who recognizes it.”
“I see, so it’s a convenient name to look for someone from your hometown. Fufu, coincidences can be funny. My name is also the same.”
“Now that you say it, your surname is the name of the country of Whoseyards. Does that mean you have the blood of royalty? I’d rather not be with you if you do.”
“Hmm. While that’s true, having the name of one’s country isn’t that rare for people of the Allied Nations. After all, there are over a hundred powerful people and nobles who adopted the name of King. The Allied Nations have a lot of kings who run the government. It’s a bit of a remnant of the past when the Allied Nations took in a heck of a lot of small countries like crazy.”
“Huh… I don’t really know about this world, so it sounds interesting to me.”
“The bellwether of the Great Nation Whoseyards at the time was a fool beyond help—it’s amusing. His story was one of my favorite epic tales. After stealing the whole country, he didn’t kill the king; he extolled him instead. Because of that, he kept failing time and time again, but this fool never gave up. He fought on for decades on end, hoping only to make the people smile. And then…”
Lastiara seemed to be enjoying herself a lot when she began to talk about heroic tales. We walked home as I listened to her storytelling.
She wasn’t tired of talking, even on her feet. Learning more about the history of this world didn’t sound like a bad idea, so I continued to listen to her story for a long time.
And then, I thought about what to do once we reached home. After all, Maria was waiting back at home.
While indeed, the party became a party of four; Dia, Maria, and Lastiara—they all thought that they were in a party of two with me. It got a little too complicated, so I immediately halted all thoughts about how to explain it to each of them.
They would probably end up lightly introducing themselves to each other anyway. It was no big deal. Thus, without any hesitation, I walked to the house where Maria was waiting for me.
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