Depths of the Otherworldly Labyrinth
[Translator – Mab ]
[Proofreader – ilafy ]
Chapter 45 - To the 24th Floor
“—And that’s that. Using magic that doesn’t fit your stature will only make you run out of MP sooner. In short, you lack the ability to continue fighting, Maria-chan.”
Lastiara laid out the reflection points to Maria, who was sitting in W position, out of breath. The place was on the 20th floor, right in front of the «Connection» magic.
“Haa, haa… Y-you’re right… This doesn’t work…”
Maria agreed, hanging her head.
She was acutely aware of what Lastiara was saying. There was no way she could argue back.
With a smile, Maria slowly stood up, and then spoke.
“I suppose it doesn’t work just yet, so I should return. I’ve held you back today… I’m sorry.”
Her face was smiling. However, not only was it pallid, the smile was eerie. What kind of emotion she went through when she made that smile, I could never know…
As I was trying to find the correct words to reply, Lastiara replied in my stead.
“Yup, see you later…. Maria-chan, I’m thinking of meat dishes for today. Like a folksy, tasty, hearty one, please?”
“Fufu. Understood. I’ll cook something delicious and wait.”
They both laughed as they decided what to have for dinner.
After that conversation, Maria went home through «Connection».
Lastiara and I were left on the 20th floor. She stretched her body lightly and threw me a question.
“Whew. That was pretty amusing, wasn’t it?”
“…It gave me a fright.”
“With that sword-like fire magic, Maria-chan should be okay if even a monster from the 21st floor comes close to her, so isn’t that more reassuring than before?”
“Her having a half-assed means of defense is much more frightening. I felt more reassured when she couldn’t do anything…”
Despite having access to powerful magic, Maria’s ‘Status’ wasn’t suitable for the 21st floor. Maria couldn’t keep up with the furies’ speed, she couldn’t tank their attacks, and of course, one misstep could lead to death. There was no way I could watch that with any peace of mind.
I took a breath and strode towards the stairway to the 21st floor. Lastiara followed me, and she reaffirmed our goal from thereon.
“So, are we still going to the 24th floor today?”
“No… I’d like to hunt monsters on the 21st floor the whole day.”
“Oh, are the monsters so strong that we need to level up?”
“Well, not really.”
I didn’t feel anything wrong with the monsters’ strength. Just, for some reason, I had never received a clean hit the whole time I was in this world, so I wanted to prepare, just in case.
“If you want to level, then let’s do it after we go a bit deeper. It’s easier to level up after we know the approximate level of our next target enemy, right?”
“That’s true, but… There are better ways to say it, you know…”
Lastiara only wanted to go deeper, I’d bet. I could tell she was trying to make excuses so that we would advance to the deeper floor.
Even so, I folded to her enthusiasm. There was no enemy that could endanger me around there, and that was a fact.
“…Fine. We’re going further.”
Lastiara and I descended to the 21st floor and proceeded deeper into the Labyrinth.
We met nothing unusual on our trip from the 20th floor to the 23rd floor. Since there were only a few types of monsters on these floors, we didn’t encounter any new monsters, thus allowing us to proceed along the Main Road without problems.
We avoided enemies as much as possible so that we would have enough energy to explore the 23rd floor.
With plenty of extra energy, we began to explore the 23rd floor but were still unable to find the staircase leading to the 24th floor.
“Yups… Aargh, this is vexing…”
Since that was our second exploration, I thought we would find the staircase pretty soon, but things didn’t go as well as we had hoped. It had been two hours since we started walking around, but there was no sign of any staircase.
Lastiara’ s frustration was mounting. Impatient, she shouted.
“Christ! Widen your detection magic!”
That was a method I’d rather avoid if possible, so I snarled. My «Dimension» magic only extended a few meters around me as of then. I even cut it off in some cases. I used the wide-area detection only to check on the monsters all around at regular intervals.
Saving up on MP was part of the reason but also because being lost like that wasn’t exactly a bad thing.
While I did say lost, the ‘Map’ was filling up nicely, and I still could fight reasonably well. Going nowhere like that was eating up our time, but in exchange, I gained EXP and funds, so it was nothing to complain about.
But not so with Lastiara. The heat and humidity of the 23rd floor had boiled her frustration over her head.
“We’re wasting time here!!”
“And I’m wasting my MP away. What’s wrong with walking around? It’s filling up my ‘Map’, and we’ll reach the staircase eventually.”
“Well, to begin with, are you really, really memorizing the path we take, Christ?!”
“Yeah, no doubt about it.”
I hadn’t explained to Lastiara my ‘Map’ system in detail. I had only told her that I would never forget a path I’d taken once, so it seemed that Lastiara had her doubts about my mapping abilities.
We had several fierce battles along the way, and yet, she might find it hard to believe me if I told her I could remember exactly what happened chronologically.
While I was sure she would be convinced if I told her more about the ‘Map’ system, I was not going to tell her all of my cards. Even if she didn’t believe me, she would be convinced of the accuracy of my mapping ability after we went through the area repeatedly over a few days.
“No doubt about it? Really? Really, really?”
Lastiara, however, was skeptical and repeatedly asked me for confirmation. Her desire to quickly reach the next floor utilizing my «Dimension» magic was apparent.
“Will we really, really, reaally eventually reach the staircase, no doubt?”
I assured her. I looked straight into her doubt.
“Haah… If you say it that far, then I’ll believe you… Water, please.”
I took water out of my ‘Item List’ and handed it to Lastiara.
While the temperature on the 23rd floor was high, the water in my ‘Item List’ was cold. Not as cold as a refrigerator by modern standards, though it was cold enough to be helpful. Thank goodness outside temperature didn’t affect the temperature inside my ‘Item List’.
Then, I suddenly thought about the ‘Item List’. I had been using the system without thinking much about it, but now that I had started applying it to combat, there was a need for me to understand it better.
First, the temperature inside the ‘Item List’ was not affected by the temperature outside, and that indicated that it was an isolated space.
Second, there was no need for me to grope around to take something out from that space. It naturally let me grab what I imaged in my mind. It was different from trying to reach for a specific object in a large space. Every tool had its own space, and when I thought of that particular tool, I was connected to its particular space.
That showed that the ‘Item List’ was not a single large room, but rather, a system of countless smaller rooms.
The laws within the Item space had also become clearer. I thought it would ignore the laws of physics since it was a subspace, but that wasn’t the case. Time also flowed within the space—for example, a bloodied sword would rust if left unattended. Likewise, water could spoil.
Not almighty, but convenient—that was my impression thus far. I could use it for more than just storage, depending on how it was used.
As we walked through the 23rd floor, I proceeded to check how to put things in and out from the ‘Item List’.
As I did so, I sensed a herd of monsters. Red elementals, an irregularly shaped monster that appeared on the 23rd floor, were gathering in one place in large numbers. Red elementals were basically Hang Shadows with flame attributes—a monster that was resistant to physical attacks.
They were troublesome opponents for the two of us, as we had to either slice and dice them to crush their nuclei or use magic attacks.
I opted to avoid the herd, and as I observed the movements of the red elementals, I spotted a large red elemental in the center of the herd.
“Ah, there’s a boss.”
Just in case, I reported it to Lastiara. Personally, I would have preferred hunting the boss rather than going any deeper. Although the risk was higher than hunting non-boss monsters, it wasn’t as risky as going deeper, and for that part, it had a definite return.
“Eh, boss?! Really?”
When I announced it, Lastiara’s ennui was instantly lifted and her eyes lit up.
“Those flickering fire monsters, red elementals, their boss is here. It seems like we entered the red elementals’ territory before we knew it. No wonder it’s getting hotter.”
It seemed like we had wandered into the area controlled by a boss because we were walking through the Labyrinth without any idea where to go. That kind of situation was likely to increase from that floor on since there was no Main Road.
“All right. Let’s take it down.”
“I think it’s going to get hotter the more we get closer, you know?”
“Which means it’ll get cooler if it’s slain, right?”
It seemed that Lastiara prioritized fun over heat.
* * *
Translator - Mab
Proofreader - ilafy
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* * *
Once we decided to defeat the boss, we began to strategize how to fight it. The strategy, however, was a simple one. Fighting hand-in-hand wouldn’t boost power for us, so we would simply spread out and attack the boss at the same time. Considering our enemies’ traits, we would be using magic attacks as our main offense.
I told Lastiara the boss’s position and said, “Charge in one minute. I will attack from a different direction,” and went to find a different position for the assault.
After finding one, I quickly constructed my magic.
“—Magic, «Dimension Gladiator».”
My dimensional magic was shifted into one suited for combat, and then I prepared offensive magic.
“—Magic, «Ice», magic, «Foam». —Magic, «Ice Flamberge».”
I used the composite magic I had newly developed and applied it to my sword. The treasured sword I held was then filled with cold air and coated with ice.
It was an imitation of Maria’s new magic, «Flame Flamberge». Creating a sword made of magic purely out of magic power was difficult, but I managed to create a similar magic by using the sword I already had.
Since the image of the magic already existed, it didn’t take long for me to create. With that, I could attack with cold air.
At the same time as I completed my «Ice Flamberge», I magically sensed that Lastiara had broken into a run, and so I started running toward the boss myself.
The closer we got, the hotter it got, and the corridor transformed into scorched rocks.
Both Lastiara and I charged blindingly fast. At least not a single monster on the 23rd floor could keep up with us.
The red elementals were unable to process the sudden onrush, allowing both of us to pass by.
We then confronted the boss.
The size of that one enemy was five times the size of the red elementals, and the heat its body packed was magnitudes hotter. Its external features were the same, only, it was much bigger.
【Monster】 Flame Squall: Rank 26
Its name was Flame Squall.
Lastiara and I ignored its underlings and rushed to slash at the boss monster.
Our swords both caught the Flame Squall and sliced through its flickering flames, and yet, we felt no response.
We lost our balance at how little resistance we felt from it.
Both Lastiara and I had added our own magic to the swords we wielded. I had expected to feel at least a slight twitch when I slashed at it, but it seemed my expectations were betrayed.
I guess it meant that a sword with that much cold air was not good enough for a boss-rated monster.
The Flame Squall didn’t miss the chance to counterattack us when we fell down—it formed two arms made of flame and swept away its immediate surroundings.
We evaded a direct hit from it by taking a large leap back. However, while we weren’t directly hit, the residual heat scorched our clothes and burned the air. I felt a sharp pain in my throat just from breathing.
Realizing that it was in a different league than red elements, I singed my burnt throat and screamed.
“Lastiara! Do we retreat?!”
I proposed a retreat. For both of us, our mobility was our best strength. Our greatest advantage was that we could always retreat if we wanted to.
Lastiara, however, refused to back down.
“No, I have an idea! Back me up!”
With that said, Lastiara began to distance herself, constructing some kind of magic.
With no other choice, I held my sword up against the Flame Squall to get its attention.
“I’m here! —Magic, «Freeze»!”
I cast the magic to lower the ambient temperature and shouted to make my presence known. I thought it would be unpleasant for the flame monster to have the temperature lowered, so I cheaply harassed it.
Seeing that, the Flame Squall put its arms together, formed a huge hammer made of flame, and swung it down at me.
I leapt to the side, dodging it. As long as I could see the flames and I had my agility, a direct hit would be out of question.
The red elementals all around also shot their fires at me, but the flames of non-boss monsters didn’t pose a threat.
When I thought I could just evade the flames forever, the Flame Squall drastically changed its shape.
It inhaled the air around it and expanded its body. That gave me the bad feeling, and thus, I moved away. And then, thinking that a wide-area flame attack might come based on the experiences I had of vidya games, I produced water and cloth from my «Item List» and made a soaking wet robe.
As I had expected, flames erupted from the Flame Squall’s massive body. It was a wide-area attack that engulfed the entire corridor like a tidal wave of flames. A bit happy that my prediction hit the bull’s eye, I spread the soaking wet robe in front of me.
There was no way to evade that kind of attack, regardless of my speed. I focused my «Freeze» magic on an area a few centimeters around me and used my wet robe as a shield against the flames.
I managed to hold off the flames, as the wide area of effect meant the firepower had been compromised. I took a breath and looked anxiously at Lastiara, who was probably focused on chanting her magic.
There she was, unharmed, with a glowing magical wall deployed around her. Lastiara rarely used magic, but she had a great deal of Holy Magic in her arsenal. She probably had plenty of magic to prevent flames of that level. She kept on chanting without any problem.
Feeling that degree of safety between us was unfair, I thought about just leaving her behind and fleeing on my own. Feeling my gaze on her, Lastiara gave me a thumbs up with a smile that basically said, “That’s Christ for you! Hang in there a little longer!”
I sighed and turned to Flame Squall.
The monster, after deciding that the AoE attack would not be decisive, extended both of its flaming arms to me.
I kept on dodging. Dodging was easy because I didn’t have to think about counterattacks.
However, what was painful was the aftermath of the attack—the residual heat.
It scorched my skin, and the air I inhaled turned into a deadly weapon. Gradually, my breathing became labored, and just when I thought it was time to retreat, help finally arrived.
“—Holy Magic, «Zion»!”
Lights of magic invaded the corridor filled with flames. It was Lastiara’s Holy Magic.
I realized that it was the same kind of magic Dia had used some time ago.
Just like that time, spheres of magic flooded the Labyrinth, solidifying the Flame Squall’s magic power.
—would our attack reach now?
I fixed my sword’s position and turned from evading to attacking.
My sword easily sliced through the giant flame arm. The Flame Squall, not knowing what had happened, let out a muffled cry and trembled.
Having lost the advantage of its flaming body, the Flame Squall no longer had a chance to win. Unable to cope with the high-speed slashes Lastiara and I delivered, the monster was diced.
A few moments later, the Flame Squall was completely dismantled and then disappeared as light.
【You have earned the title 『Flickering Flame』】
‘Fire Magic’ is adjusted by +0.01
I received a title. However, since I had no ‘Fire Magic’ Skill, there was no change when I displayed my ‘Status’. The same would probably be true for Lastiara.
I picked up the magic stone dropped by the Flame Squall and shifted my attention to the surrounding monsters.
Lastiara was already sweeping them up with her sword added with ‘Holy Magic’. I could have joined in, but then I would use ‘Ice Magic’, which I was not accustomed to, so I restrained myself to conserve MP.
Within a few minutes, the sweep was over. Exhausted, Lastiara handed me the magic stones she picked up with a smile.
Perhaps thanks to the boss battle, she seemed to be in a good mood.
“Phew. That was pretty fun.”
“I was this close to being grilled whole, you know?”
I took off my burnt coat and cloak and threw them away. The clothes I wore from my original world were exposed underneath, so I quickly took out a new cloak from my ‘Item List’ to hide them.
When Lastiara saw my clothes, she looked at them with interest.
“Huh. Are those clothes from the otherworld? They’re quite exotic and nice. I wish I could wear them.”
“What are you saying? It’s one of the few things I have from my hometown. No.”
“Maybe I’ll look good in them. I am beautiful, as you know.”
“These are men’s. Give it up.”
I put on my cloak to hide my hometown clothes from Lastiara’s curious gaze. Then, to change the topic, I brought up the battle we just had.
“More importantly, that Holy Magic you used… «Zion», right? You could’ve told me you could use something like that. It would have been a lot easier if I had included that in my calculations from the beginning.
I was hiding a lot of different cards in my hand from Lastiara, but… probably, Lastiara had more cards hidden than I did.
“Mn~ I didn’t really want to use it, you see. This magic just gobbles MP like crazy.”
Lastiara spoke before she urged me to check her ‘Status’. I focused on her and did as asked.
HP: 621/709, MP: 121/325
“Uwah… that’s really a lot…”
“It is pretty advanced, even amongst Holy Magic, you see. I’m not a big fan of using magic to begin with, so it’s exhausting.”
Lastiara’s breathing was a little disordered as she explained. That might’ve be the first time I had ever seen her breathing so disrupted.
“You mean you don’t want me to depend on that magic?”
“Exactly. We’ll never get to the depths if we rely on this.”
Lastiara was great at giving plausible reasons. I had a feeling she was trying to cover up the fact that she just wanted to fight with a sword. However, what she said was reasonable, so I had to nod my head.
“Sure you do. My magic is a last resort.”
The conversation came to an end, and we started walking in search of the 24th floor.
Looking at how the ‘Map’ was filling up, it was about time we find the stairs to the 24th floor. When I told her that, she became more excited and quickened her pace.
We found the stairs a few minutes after defeating Flame Squall.
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