Chapter 27: Grinding Experiment
First, we went around to stores in town to get equipment for the both of us.
Naturally, I used the ‘Display’ to check if the goods we were buying were good or bad.
That being said, there weren’t many bargains to be found in stores that catered to the general public—they were just mass-produced goods lined up in a messy row.
I asked the shopkeeper where I could get the more expensive weapons, and he told me that such items were only available at auction houses or special stores related to Whoseyards.
However, since I was already using a high-quality sword, the Araith Household’s Treasured Sword, I didn’t want to go too far out of my way to get a more expensive weapon.
I only bought an easy-to-handle dagger and some light and sturdy protective gear for Maria, and that brought the end of our shopping trip.
“Umm, even this knife feels heavy on my hand, you know…”
“It’s okay; you’ll grow used to it soon.”
Maria was only dressed in leather armor and holding the dagger with both hands, and she was already wobbling around.
She would grow to it—or rather, her STR would increase as she leveled up.
Thus, having completed our preparation, we found ourselves standing in front of the Labyrinth, both of us in our top conditions.
I thought back to Maria’s level grinding plan that I had devised that morning, then put it into action.
I bent down and turned my back to her.
I held my sheathed sword with both hands behind me so she could sit on it.
Maria let out a dumbfounded voice.
I understood how she felt.
We were right about to risk our lives in the Labyrinth, and yet her master wanted to give her a piggyback ride—even I would question my sanity if I were in her shoes.
“I am serious.
Believe in me and get on my back.”
To show how serious I was, I asked her to ride on my back once again with a more regal tone of voice.
Maria, however, only responded curtly.
“I am thinking that we should skip all the way up to the 5th floor.
I want you to get on my back since it will be much faster if I’m the one who does all the running.
Also, it is easier for me to protect you with you on my back.”
“I… I see.
Understoo… no! No, no?! I’ve never heard of anyone challenging the Labyrinth on a piggyback!”
My aim for the day was the 5th floor, the floor where I judged Maira wouldn’t die out of the blue.
I wasn’t confident enough to bring her further since I was using my shallow combat experience as my guide.
Maria understood what I had said and almost nodded her head… before she promptly shook it.
So close! But that was one of the top entries on my ideas-to-try bucket list.
I wouldn’t back down so easily.
“I’ve never heard of it either, but I want to try it.
Just for a little while…In then out, nothing more.
If my calculations were correct, it should be possible.
The STR of a seasoned explorer—and a large male swordsman one at that, was around five.
The same went with VIT.
Compared to that, the parameters of my STR and VIT had reached six.
In other words, I had the same STR and VIT as a two-meter tall man who had trained hard all his life.
I wanted to do an experiment to see how much effort it would take to carry a girl weighing around 40kg(88lb) with those parameters.
I’d assumed that going all the way to the 5th floor would be easy enough.
“Y-you leave me no choice…”
Maria reluctantly and shyly got on my back.
When I felt Maria’s weight on my sword, I stood to my feet.
The weight on both hands felt unusually light.
That would have been impossible for me in my original world.
The lightness proved to me that my assumption was on the right track.
I’m going to run, so hold on tight.”
After making sure Maria had a firm grip on my shoulder, I deployed «Dimension» and began to run.
With Maria’s scream as my background music, I ran through the Main Road of the Labyrinth.
My AGI was 10.
I had no idea how fast I was in this world.
I didn’t have anyone to compare it with, after all.
“—W-wa-wait! Wait, please!”
Right away, Maria asked me to stop.
I dropped my speed and then spoke to her.
“…It’s too much, after all?”
Maria’s breath was ragged even though she wasn’t running.
It seemed like just hanging onto me had taken some of her stamina.
“N-no… I was just surprised by how much of a monstrosity you are, Master.
My posture was bad… I’ll be fine now.”
Maria then put her arms around my neck and clung to me with all earnesty.
I found myself blushing due to the close proximity my face was to hers.
“I’ll run again, okay?” I asked her again, not looking back so that she wouldn’t notice my blush.
“Yes, do your worst.”
I didn’t hesitate to resume my run.
The faster I ran, the tighter Maria clung to me.
We passed other explorers on our way down—they were startled by my speed, but they chose to willfully ignore us.
The speed I was going made it unlikely for them to easily recognize our faces.
However, we stood out without a doubt, and there was no guarantee they couldn’t identify us.
Nevertheless, I didn’t stop.
I had been avoiding being conspicuous until the day prior.
However, I had given up on that ever since I sold Tida’s magic stone to Varte.
One of the reasons was that I had become too strong to hide myself, but another reason was that I could escape from most problems with my strength.
“Wow! So fast! It’s like riding an Araunah!”
Maria was getting used to the speed and seemed to be enjoying herself.
This Araunah, was it some kind of animal? Perhaps she had an experience riding the animal.
Maria was comfortable even at that speed.
As I recalled, Maria had the Hunting Skill.
She might have been a hunter riding some kind of horse-like animal before she became a slave.
“Don’t speak too much.
You don’t want to bite your tongue.”
I warned Maria and sped up even more.
And then we reached the 5th floor.
It took us about 30 minutes.
“W-wow, we’re really here! Master, we’re here!!”
“Wheeze, wheeze…! Hark, haa, haa…!!”
The price was significant, however.
My plan didn’t have ‘Suffering for 30 Minutes Straight’ in it.
It seemed like, even with six VIT, I shouldn’t have maintained a 30-minute sprint.
Perhaps the vitality for VIT in this world wasn’t directly linked to my endurance like how I understood it in my previous world.
The nuance of the two words was close, but they were definitely not the same.
“Oh, are you okay…?” Maria timidly asked, looking concerned when she saw me on my knees with ragged breath.
I nodded back at her with vigor.
“Haa, haa… Yeah, I will be in a sec…”
Some of the results were as predicted, but some I hadn’t expected at all.
It was a good thing to know that I could run with Maria in my arms.
It gave me the assurance that I could evacuate with Maria in tow in case of an emergency.
I caught my breath and set Maria down; then, with my arms free of her, I drew my sword before I walked away from the Main Road.
“We’re moving already? Why don’t you rest a little bit more?”
“No, I don’t want to waste time.
Even if I’m out of breath, I’m not out of my depth against monsters on the 5th floor.”
As far as I know, the 5th floor is the place where even mid-level explorers are prone to losing their lives, you know…”
“I know, somewhat, but I’ll be fine.”
“No, I’m saying that I’m the one who’s in danger…”
Maria’s voice trembled.
She had been thrilled when she was riding on my back like it was some sort of roller-coaster, but it seemed like she recalled where she was in the Labyrinth.
* * *
Translator – Mab
Proofreader – ilafy
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* * *
I knew well about my capabilities and my ability to detect enemies through the use of the «Dimension», so I was confident that Maria wouldn’t get hurt down there.
For Maria, who didn’t know me as well, however, she would be in a situation where she could die at any time.
I wouldn’t have brought you with me unless I was sure of your safety.
I will definitely protect you.”
“…Mh, is that so? But you seem like the type who fumbles at the most crucial time, Master, so I’m worried.”
Maria clammed up when she was faced with my confident statement, but she quickly regained her composure and admonished me.
Perhaps due to her «Insight» Skill, what Maria had told me seemed to pierce straight to the heart of the matter.
I nodded my head at Maria, keeping her words in my mind.
I’ll be extra careful.”
I deployed «Dimension» over a wider area.
I wasn’t worried about my MP.
After all, at level 10, my MP was almost double what it was when Dia and I had explored the 5th floor before.
Not to mention, I memorized the ‘Areas where Monsters were Likely to be Concentrated’ and ‘Areas which Boss Monsters Gave the Most EXPs’—in other words, ‘Areas to Grind Effectively’.
Northeast, a few hundred meters ahead, was an area dense with monsters.
That area was the closest one that fit all the criteria, so I prompted Maria to move.
“All right, let’s go this way.”
We moved a few dozen meters before we settled into a space with an open view.
Next, I rechecked the monsters I sensed within a few hundred meters radius.
That was also to make sure that Maria wouldn’t be attacked by monsters while I was away hunting them.
We were ready.
Finally, onto the experiment.
“Maria, you wait here.
I’m going to go and hunt some monsters.”
“Huh?? No, no, no, no, hold onto that thought.
What, you want to leave me all alone here?”
“It’s all right.
I have a ‘Skill’ to detect the location of the monsters, so if I see you’re about to be in danger, I’ll be right back.
Just run in the opposite direction if you run into a monster.”
“I mean, obviously, I’ll run, but… I’ll die if I get caught between two monsters.”
“Well, if you got flanked… then just give up.”
“D-don’t give up on me!!”
“Jokes aside, you’ll be alright.
I really do know the location of all living beings in this Labyrinth.”
Maria objected with her shouts, but I imposed my viewpoint onto her and forcefully convinced her.
Although, rather than saying I had convinced her, evident with how she kept spilling her frustration on me and said, “Haa… In the end, I’m kicking the bucket either way, aren’t I? Eaten by a monster at that.
All thanks to being picked up by such a stupid master.
That’s the second most disgusting way to die, after being burned to death.” Perhaps calling it something like ‘she gave up’ was more apt.
“I’ll be off, then.”
“Yeah, yeah, have a safe trip abandoning me.”
Maria waved her hand dismissively as she sent me off.
I hurriedly ran to the area where monsters were likely to be concentrated.
Even though Maria wasn’t that far away from the Main Road, there was still a chance she’d get flanked between monsters and that I wouldn’t be able to arrive in time to save her.
I set my mind to slaying the monsters as fast as I could.
I slashed at my enemies with the sword Dia had entrusted me with.
The monsters in that area were basically all beasts and insects.
Sometimes there were special monsters such as Hang Shadows that were immune to physical attacks, but I could use Freezing Magic to solidify them and smash them to pieces like what I did to Tida.
All of them were defeated in practically a single blow.
My ATK, reinforced by Araith Household’s Treasured Sword, had reached a level that was beyond the norm for the 5th floor.
Monsters were shredded to pieces like I was cutting butter with a red hot knife.
Incidentally, it was my policy not to pick up any drops other than magic stones from boss monsters.
I still had nearly ten gold coins saved, and I prioritized time on saving and EXP grinding over picking up magic stones that, at best, were worth a few copper coins.
All in all, the hunt was more of an experiment and less a practice.
The first question to tackle: how easy would it be to raise Maria’s level?
Depending on the result, I might decide to concentrate on leveling others instead of exploring the Labyrinth solo.
It wouldn’t be out of the question to delegate more and more people whose levels I had raised into the Labyrinth.
Another important thing to tackle was to measure the distance at which the Party system functioned.
If it reached far enough, then I could just have Maria wait on the Main Road the whole time.
It was impossible for it to be as far as reaching the surface, for sure, as that would mean that Dia, who was being hospitalized, should gain the EXP as well.
After a few minutes of hunting, I decided it was good enough time to return to Maria.
I walked my way there, trying to catch my breath.
Seeing my carefree return, Maria shouted.
“Please, just run here! Can’t you just run here already?!”
Maria, looking worse for wear, complained to me desperately.
She seemed to have lost a lot of her composure in the past few minutes.
Which, now that I think about it, when I was level 1, I too had lost my mind just by walking through the Labyrinth.
It wasn’t that long ago, but somehow it felt like an old memory.
“Haa haa, haa… Despite how I look, I am, to be honest, very scared right now…”
“Hmm, it seems like you are.
And here I thought you’d be cool with it, Maria.”
“H-how could I be… I’m just a frail little girl.
What else do you think I am…?”
After presenting me an earful, Maria grew dejected and feeble.
Despite feeling bad about what I did to her, I still wouldn’t want to stop the experiment.
I immediately checked Maria’s Status to see if her EXP had gone up.
Even though the battle was about 100 meters away, her EXP was increasing.
“Then let’s have you wait on the Main Road next.”
“H-huh, Main Road? Well, that’s better than here.
Is there even a point in me coming with you?”
You’ve saved me a lot.”
“I fail to see how I’ve saved you and from what.”
Maria complained but still followed my instruction.
I guessed that she knew that the Main Road had barriers that warded monsters away.
She seemed somewhat relieved and started to walk along.
Maria and I stayed close to the Main Road as I searched for more monsters.
What was important was the distance from the Main Road to the monster’s territory.
I’d try a 300 meters distance next.
If she gained EXP even at that far away, that meant I could leave my companions at the Main Road whilst I was away grinding for them.
—The morning hours of the day were thus consumed by the experiment alone.
Maria was that close to bursting into tears after I left her all alone in various places, but I was confident in her security due to «Dimension», so I didn’t lend her complaints an ear.
And thus the result of several hours of the experiment:
EXP was distributed equally regardless of the difference in level.
The distance limit for the EXP distribution was around 100 meters.
Under special conditions, such distance varied in places where there were barriers, such as the Main Road.
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