Depths of the Otherworldly Labyrinth
[Translator – Mab ]
[Proofreader – ilafy]
Chapter 41- the Heat of the Labyrinth, the Heat of the Battle
We walked down the Main Road of the 23rd floor while trying to catch our breath.
However, the more we walked, the more we lost strength. The breath we wanted to take wasn’t being regulated well, as the temperature on the 23rd floor was abnormally high compared to the 22nd floor we had just walked through.
Lastiara was flapping the front collar of her dress, her face scrunched. Even from a distance, I could see that she was sweating several times more than I was. Apparently, she was a profuse sweater.
“Hot, hot, hot, hot… Christ, water.”
I used my back to take a leather canteen out of my ‘Item List’ and handed it to her. Lastiara gave it to me that morning, and it was quite solidly built.
Without a moment of hesitation, she gulped down the water. As I mused about how the way she drank mirrored her personality, I brought up my question about the 23rd floor.
“Hey. Why is the 23rd floor so hot?”
“Nn. It’s because there’s magma on the 24th floor.”
“M-magma? You’ve seen it?”
“No, I heard it from the explorer who came and visited me. I only know as far as the 23rd floor.”
“You’re acquainted with an explorer who had gone to the 24th floor?”
“His name is Glenn Walker. The guy who’s called the strongest explorer.”
Glenn Walker… As I recalled, that was the name of the person who held the record of the deepest Labyrinth conquest. However, according to what I heard, he only explored the Labyrinth up to the 23rd floor.
“I heard he only went as far as to the 23rd floor, though?”
“To be precise, the Main Road only goes as far as the 23rd floor.”
In other words, the rumor on the street actually addressed the Main Road. It seemed like Glenn-san, the strongest explorer, could go deeper if he didn’t have to construct the Main Road.
“I see. That’s why you’re so knowledgeable. You’ve heard a lot from the world’s number one explorer.”
“Nn, well, it’s true that what I know is mostly from what he told me.”
“So, what kind of person is he?”
I got excited and asked her about Glenn-san. It seemed like the Strongest title was my weak spot. As a person who loved games and romance, that Glenn-san really struck my interest as a character.
“If you ask me…I can only describe him as the kind of pitiful guy that fits my taste. He has such an interesting life, one where he can never find the one thing he wants no matter how far he goes… If he had any talent at all, he’d fare much better…”
To Lastiara, Glenn Walker was one of the less fortunate. I had thought that he was someone overflowing with talent, loved by the world, and had everything go the way he wanted. It was the complete opposite of what I’d assume the Strongest would be.
“Huh, I didn’t know that…”
“He’s timid, bad at giving up, and a huge masochist. He’s helpless as a person, but…well, he’s strong.”
“No, that doesn’t sound like someone strong.”
“In fact, he’s not that strong, you know…”
I could hear the image of the Strongest in me crumble. It seemed that the strongest person in the world wasn’t going to live up to my expectations.
While I was crushed by reality, «Dimension» found the end of the Main Road. Our trip across the 23rd floor went smoothly since no enemies came close to the Main Road, and Lastiara and I reached the end of it without encountering a single enemy.
“So this is the goal. I guess we’ve achieved our goal for the day.”
That made me feel some kind of achievement. I was on par with the limit of mankind.
“Alright. Next, let’s aim for the 30th floor—”
“That’s a no from me.”
I stopped Lastiara in her tracks.
Although the time passed from the 20th floor to that point was short, I was getting exhausted from the many battles I had encountered for the first time. I was physically averse to going deeper into a world that had never been seen before.
I informed Lastiara of that, but obviously, she didn’t buy it.
“Eeh, we can still go deeper! Look how energetic I am!”
“I knew you would say that. Then…”
In the end, we decided to take the middle way and focus on exploring the 23rd floor. When I told Lastiara that, from that point on, we had to map out the area ourselves since the Main Road could no longer be used as a guide, she reluctantly agreed.
With that, Lastiara and I walked on.
I filled in the map of the 23rd floor relying on the ‘Map’ system. Fortunately, none of the monsters on the 23rd floor posed a threat. Perhaps the huge monsters that appeared on the 21st and 22nd floors couldn’t live on that hot floor. The monsters there were all specialized to withstand high temperatures, so they weren’t really a trouble.
Above all, Lastiara’s high offensive power gave the exploration an advantage. That was because, no matter how sturdy the enemy was, it was meaningless in the face of Lastiara’s stupidly high ATK.
After putting two and two together, I judged that the main aim of the floor was to wear out explorers with high heat. Stalling explorers with enemies that focused on durability, depriving them of moisture with high temperatures, and ultimately draining their strength. Depending on how one thought about it, that floor might be more problematic than the 21st and 22nd floors.
“A-aah… Christ, water…”
Lastiara consumed a lot of water every few minutes. I was also thirsty and hydrated every now and then, but not as often as her. Her bad stamina consumption had made the 23rd floor her worst enemy.
“H-hold on, Lastiara… Do you really, rea~lly need to drink? At this rate, we’re going to run out of water.”
“I rea~lly, rea~~lly need to drink so badly.”
After several hours of walking around, I dared myself to ask Lastiara, but she wasn’t fooling around, she pleaded with me for water with a dead serious look on her face.
“If you drink any more than this, we’ll need to go back home.”
“Did I drink that much?”
“Yeah. Your face looks dazed when you gobble all that water.”
The speed at which water was being consumed was such that we needed to rethink our exploration plans. The 24th floor, where we would be heading, was a magma zone, so the water we had on hand was far from enough.
I’d rather not get fatally wounded because my head was cloudy from dehydration.
“Nn. Is it because I sweat a lot?”
“It seems like it. We need more water than we had planned if we want to continue the exploration.”
I, personally, really wanted to go home. I didn’t want to fail due to some unforeseen circumstances, but failing due to a predicted physical condition was no worse.
“…we’re going home already?”
“We’ll have no water.”
“…Can’t be helped then.”
Lastiara wasn’t very happy about it, but she really couldn’t handle the thirst, and her face clouded at the thought of exploring without water.
“But I’ve got the general layout of the 23rd floor. We gained something from this.”
“I left the mapping to you, Christ, but are you sure we can make it back?”
“Don’t worry about that.”
It would be too long to explain the whole ‘Map’ system, so I just told Lastiara that I could memorize the path. Lastiara was walking around in a daze and seemed to be anxious because she wasn’t sure how to get back home.
My gait was sure as we retraced our steps, as if to counteract Lastiara’s anxiety.
* * *
Translator - Mab
Proofreader - ilafy
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* * *
After we concluded our exploration, we headed for the «Connection» on the 20th floor.
We encountered a lot of monsters on our way back, but we could deal with them all, so there was no problem. The problem was that there was supposed to be nothing on the 20th floor.
There was one young girl knight and one wolf with bluish fur.
A knight who could reach the 20th floor—probably one of the Celestial Knights. I extended my magical senses from the 21st floor and focused on the duo.
Name: Ragne Kikuora
HP: 152/153, MP: 34/34
STR: 3.22, VIT: 3.91, DEX: 11.23, AGI: 5.22, WIS: 7.12, MAG: 1.52, APT: 1.12
Magic Power Manipulation: 2.11
Holy Magic: 1.02
Name: Serra Radiant
HP: 252/256. MP: 43/101
STR: 6.23, VIT: 7.92, DEX: 8.89, AGI: 10.02, WIS: 5.60, MAG: 7.77, APT: 1.57
Holy Magic: 0.89
The girl knight was named Ragne and the wolf was named Serra.
“Eh? That wolf is Radiant-san?”
It surprised me so much that I blurted it out.
“Why are you stopping, Christ?”
“No… There’s a wolf who’s like Radiant-san on the 20th floor. Also, a girl named Ragne.”
“That’s two of our girls. Break a leg out there, Christ.”
“Well, it’s not like I want to lose…”
Lastiara probably thought it was no big deal. In fact, so did I. We ascended to the 20th floor with light feet.
We entered the 20th floor, and the knight who was stationed in the center of the room bowed. The same as the day before.
“Are you all right, Ojou?”
The knight, a girl with a bob cut, lightly curtsied and expressed her concern for Lastiara’s safety. She was a lively-looking girl, a little shorter than me. I wouldn’t call her a peerless beauty, but she had a tidy face and was pretty for her age. She was wearing a short-sleeved high-quality shirt on top and an unusually long skirt underneath. The skirt was wrapped with several layers of loincloth, so her lower half looked very heavy.
“Long time no see, Ragne-chan.”
Lastiara called the girl with the name Ragne-chan. Since she looked younger than me, I probably should call her Ragne-chan too.
Both girls then continued their conversation.
“Ragne-chan, what brings you here?”
“I heard it from old pops Haups. The boy in question is an explorer and can be found on the 20th floor.”
“Aah, so that’s what.”
I didn’t miss Lastiara mumbling in a small voice “that old fart, saying unnecessary things…”
“Maan, I’d rather laze around in the cathedral, though…”
Ragne-chan looked at the wolf next to her and smiled bitterly. Feeling her eyes, the wolf looked back and barked.
“Eh? Ah, fine. I’ll do, I’ll do. Right away.”
Having been barked at, Ragne-chan sensed the intention and quickly drew her sword. Out of curiosity, I asked Lastiara in whispers.
“That wolf is Radiant-san, right?”
“Yup. Radiant is a thick-blooded beastfolk. She speaks to Ragne-chan using magic. I have my eye, so I know for a fact it’s her, but it’s amusing, so I’m pretending that I don’t.”
“…I’ll do the same.”
I’d rather not have her bark at me if I pointed it out. I guessed that’s what she meant by not showing up in person. I’d just leave her be.
I drew my sword and stood in front of Lastiara. When I did, Ragne-chan, right in front of me, pulled out something resembling a memo from her pocket and began to read it out loud.
“Eh, ermm, I am Ragne Kaikuora the knight. Christ Eurasia, I challenge you to a duel on our lady. The rules are the same as the ones you’ve had with Serra Radiant. Now, let us duel——yups.”
Yep, she’s got zero motivation. It was kind of like the atmosphere in athletic clubs where the juniors were forced to do things by their seniors.
“Yeah, let’s go with that. But there’s one change I want to make. Can you add the reward for me that you don’t bring any more knights with you?”
“Ah, yea, sure. Also, let’s end it with a single injury. Ion wanna get badly injured from this.”
Ragne-chan readily nodded and added her own rule. She really wasn’t getting on board. In response, the wolf growled. You’d frighten Ragne-chan, so please stop that.
“Then, we start now?”
“—Please hold on.”
Ragne-chan had just pulled her ill-fitting, sumptuous, one-handed sword when Lastiara interrupted.
I looked at Lastiara, questioning her action. She whispered to me.
“Christ. Did you just accept the rule to end with a single injury? That’s a huge disadvantage. That’s her specialty, you know?”
“Eh? But her parameters are low?”
Ragne’s parameters were lower than any of the Celestial Knights I had faced before. I couldn’t even sense anything that would make Lastiara’s expression grim like that.
“She’s an irregular who can do things outside of what her parameters allow her… I’ll give you too much leverage if I say more, but just don’t lose on the first attack.”
Lastiara’s eyes were serious. She had always looked optimistic in the previous two battles, but it seemed she couldn’t be as optimistic after I received the rule that whoever who got hurt first lost.
First attack… Ragne-chan was an irregular, and her first attack seemed like it would exceed what her ‘Status’ had made me assume.
That’s a huge amount of leverage… I couldn’t lose after being told so much. I focused on fortifying «Dimension Gladiator».
“Can we start now?”
“Yeah, it’s okay now.”
We confirmed with each other, drew our swords, and bowed. And thus, the battle began.
Immediately, I opted to deploy my auxiliary magic, but—
A mysterious blade reached for my throat. I had sensed it when it started rapidly growing with «Dimension Gladiator», so I managed to evade it by raising the sword in my hand, deflecting it.
Then, I confirmed the identity of the blade. The magnificent one-handed sword in her hand didn’t even waver. It was from her other, free hand that a blade made of solidified magic power was extending out. I hadn’t used my eyes when I evaded it; I had noticed it because I had a bird’s eye view of Ragne-chan through the use of my magic.
If I had fought normally, my eyes would have been focused on her sword since she was a knight. However, thanks to my magical senses and Lastiara’s advice, I was able to avoid being wounded.
Ragne-chan immediately retracted her magic power blade, panicking.
“Keh. That got evaded cleanly.”
Without a moment’s time to catch a breath, Ragne-chan’s second and third blows struck.
I deflected them with the tip of my sword, parrying them away. She was about 10 meters away from me, and yet it felt as if she was fighting right under my nose.
It was like dealing with a laser gun that was constantly discharging. However, Lastiara was right, it was only her first attack that I had to watch out for. As long as I could tell the origin of her attack, she was no match for me.
Ragne’s swordsmanship technique itself wasn’t as refined as it came. Simply put, she had no tact. She didn’t have the sense of aiming.
As I began to get used to her blade, I started to close the distance between us as I repelled her attacks before she immediately raised both hands.
“Aah, I can’t. I lost. I think this is the first time I’ve lost after having such an advantage.”
It seemed like she decided that she had no chance of winning if the duel continued. Ragne-chan crudely tossed her luxurious sword to the ground, indicating her resignation.
“Yeah, it was an interesting match. Thank you.”
“Nah, it’s all yours.”
We then walked up to each other and shook hands with good smiles on each other’s faces, it somehow felt like after a sports tournament.
Further back though, Radiant-san, Ragne-chan’s senior, was barking at us, but I paid it no mind.
The wolf kept on complaining to Ragne-chan, so she answered with a half-smile.
“Eeh, what can I do? Onii-san’s strong and kind and cool, what’s the problem anyway? If the lady wasn’t with him first, I’d be the one snatching him for myself, you know?”
But the wolf continued to bark. Ragne-chan interpreted it out loud.
“Eh, ermm? —”The lovely, beautiful, pure, innocent young lady who’s really like a flower made of the virgin, unsullied first snowfall should not fall to such a man’s spells” you said? Eeh, but the lady’s can be quite black-hearted, y’know.”
Hearing that, Lastiara replied.
“Ah, Ragne-chan, you’re terrible. I always speak honest and true, and yet you call me black-hearted… you’re going to make me cry…”
Lastiara pretended to be hurt by Ragne-chan’s words and faked breaking down crying. Seeing that, the wolf bit Ragne-chan.
“O-ow! Stop that, senior! See?! This is what I meant when I said that the lady’s black-hearted!”
After some play-biting between the wolf and Ragne-chan, Lastiara made sure Ragne-chan would keep her oath. She swore that, as a knight, she wouldn’t break her oath.
Then, as she was calming the agitated wolf, Ragne-chan turned to leave.
“—Welp, Ojou, laters. You too, cool Onii-san. Laters.”
She walked straight to the 19th floor, looking all refreshed.
Since we had another means to leave the Labyrinth, we didn’t follow her and only waved our hands until she was out of sight.
Thus, I cleared the third Celestial Knights event.
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