Chapter 28: Four Peoples’ Lunch
HP: 92/92, MP: 102/102
STR: 2.92, VIT: 3.12, DEX: 2.25, AGI: 1.75, WIS: 3.07, MAG: 4.91, APT: 1.52
Light Leather Armor
“They told me I was level seven…”
After doing a lot of experiments, we returned to the surface and did the level-up first and foremost.
Upon learning the result, Maria stared at her palms, wincing.
I sipped the soup, which tasted a bit bland to my liking, and gave her my blessing offhandedly.
We were seated in a corner of the tavern, eating a light meal.
It was lunchtime right after we were done stopping by the church.
“But I… didn’t do anything…?”
“That’s the kind of ‘Skill’ I have.
It’s a ‘Skill’ that raises the level of my companions that I bring with me.
That’s why I brought you to the Labyrinth, Maria.”
Maria was mortified with my choice of action before, but now she would understand the justification of it.
“This is weird! Even adults back at my village are at most level five, you know?! But I got to level 7 so easily in just one day, it’s wrong—!”
Even after confirming that her level had actually gone up, Maria seemed to have a hard time believing the fact.
She raised her voice and slammed the table.
It’d be troublesome if people knew.”
I held my index finger to my lips.
To be honest, I’d rather not have had anyone know about that power.
For example, if the ability to grind people’s level were to be known by the higher-ups of the country, I was certain that a detaining order would come my way.
Even if that were to happen, I wouldn't get caught so easily anymore—my level had steadily increased since day one, and I was literally an order of magnitude stronger.
“F-forgive me, Master.
I lost control…”
Maria looked at me and immediately grew meek from guilt.
“I told you, don’t call me master… At any rate, I’m sure you now know that you can explore the Labyrinth with me, Maria.
Due to my ability, you’ve become much stronger in the last few hours than most adults out there.”
“That ‘Skill’ of yours is a foul play…”
Maria, by then more composed, made her remark as she began to eat.
Maria’s «Insight» judged it to be a foul.
I’m with you on that.”
I agreed and continued to eat.
With that ‘Party’ system at play, I calculated that I could produce one skilled explorer per day.
And assuming my level continued to rise in the future, I should even be able to produce several above-standard explorers in a single day someday.
I would say that the experiment was a success.
Understanding how the System worked had exponentially increased the number of options I had.
I reaffirmed the importance of comprehending the ‘Display’ and the System.
By repeating those kinds of detailed experiments, I wanted to dissect and exceed the intentions of the Guy who had prepared all those things for me.
If I did so, I should be able to reach the Deepest Depth of the Labyrinth in no time.
While Maria and I were quietly eating our meal, I heard Lynn-san’s cheerful greeting.
The tavern was supposed to be deserted during the day, but it seemed to get some odd customers that day.
I peeked to see the faces of the customers who’d gone for drinks while the sun was still up, but the moment I recognized them, my face pulled into a tight line.
“—!! Maria, cover your face without looking suspicious.”
“Eh? Ah, yes.”
I quietly instructed Maria.
She was surprised at my sudden instruction but quickly turned her face down.
I held my breath and let the customers pass by us.
Maria looked at me curiously but still sipped at her soup without saying anything.
Then her eyes moved, catching something.
Her gaze stopped behind me.
What a coincidence.”
My pleas were in vain when I heard the voice calling my name from behind me.
“She’s calling you.”
Maria shook the spoon in her hand, urging me to respond.
I really wanted to pretend I hadn’t noticed them, but because Maria had reacted, I couldn’t possibly keep pretending.
I had no choice but to turn around.
“What do you want, Alty?”
Aren’t we partners in cooperation? —Aah, forgive us, pretty, but you’ll have to share a seat with us.”
I turned around to see Alty wearing an Eltheaulieux Academy uniform (just how did she get it…).
Furthermore, there was one more girl accompanying her.
“Eh, eh? Is that Christ-sama I see?! It really is!”
It was Franrühle.
“L-long time no see, Franrühle-san…”
“I am overwhelmed! Alty said she’d take me to a wonderful place, and guess what?! I never thought I would meet you so soon, Christ-sama!!”
Neither did I.
Really, why is it this soon? She’s supposed to be at the Eltheaulieux Academy in the northwestern part of the Allied Nations.
Move it, Christ.”
Alty motioned me to move so she could sit with us as if it was obvious.
Reluctantly, I moved next to Maria, making room for the two.
They sat down with gusto and then began to say their order to Lynn-san.
The four of us were restless and cramped over that one table.
I looked at their faces and began to devise ways to get out of the situation.
As I looked into her face, I noticed that Alty was paying attention to Maria.
She didn’t know her name, so I wondered if she was looking for a good time to introduce herself.
As for Franrühle… yeah, it wasn’t Maria that occupied her mind.
‘I should probably do the introductions for now.’
This is Maria.
She’s just become my exploration companion.”
“Hello, I’m Maria.”
Without backing down from the two in uniforms and their peculiar presence, Maria decisively curtsied.
Nice to meet you.”
“I am the seventh daughter of the House of Hellvilleshine, Franrühle.”
Alty curtsied lightly while Franrühle puffed her chest up and declared her name with arrogance.
“So what do you want, Alty? I’m busy.”
“Fufu, I just met you here by coincidence.”
“I’m not buying that.
It’s just not possible we happened to run into each other while I was having lunch here, and I never told you about this tavern to begin with.
You must have some ability of your own to locate me.”
Alty shouldn’t have known that I was a waiter at that tavern.
Even if she did, it would be strange for her to go there at that time of the day to look for me.
In other words, it was highly likely that Alty had the skill to find my whereabouts.
From how she spoke previously, I’d say that she could expand her hearings in the presence of flames.
“You guessed it.
I can increase my range of perception with fire.,but it really was just luck that I was able to figure out what you were up to today.
Yes, this is fate.
And that fate, more precisely, is business with you.
You know what I mean, Christ.”
Fate was her business.
In other words, she brought Franrühle to me for the love-fulfilling business.
I dealt with Alty as coldly as possible.
I wouldn’t give her even a stretch of hope in that case.
“You said yourself that this fate has no hope of budding.
Give up and look for another girl.”
“Fufu, one still needs to try all they can.”
We used abstract expressions to talk about her love request.
Franrühle and Maria looked like they had no idea what we were talking about.
“Come on, Alty, just be good and wait.
I have my own business to deal with.
Don’t rush me.”
“There’s no helping it then.
It’s against my intention to disturb you.
Then I’ll keep it to myself from now on.”
With that said, Alty went quiet.
When she did, it was then Franrühle’s turn.
She had been waiting for an opportunity.
She immediately leaned forward and bombarded me with questions.
“Christ-sama!! I have some questions of my own!! Ermm, first…”
With staggering zeal, she tried to pry out every little detail about me: where I lived, where I ate, where my favorite places were, etc.
“Aah, I always sleep wherever is nearby.
I also usually eat whatever at hand—”
I, on the other hand, told her a big lie about not having a fixed place to stay.
I answered her questions, making sure not to give Franrühle any information about me.
As I chatted with Franrühle, the topic of conversation naturally turned to the Labyrinth.
Partly because I was only interested in the Labyrinth, but also because Franrühle didn’t seem averse to talking about the topic either.
To make the occasion as meaningful as possible, I gathered information from what she said while we were eating our meal.
Suddenly, Alty interjected as if something was bothering her.
“—Eh, you ran with Maria-chan on your back all the way to the 5th floor?”
Alty inquired curiously about my exploration method.
Should I not have?”
Alty, who had been trying to stay out of Franrühle’s conversation as much as possible, interrupted and was even curious enough to ask.
“No, I’m just surprised.
You’re a dimensional-attribute magician, right? Why didn’t you just use teleportation magic?”
How did you know that I’m a dimensional-attribute magician?”
While there were other words of concern, that was the first thing that mattered.
I had never said anything that hinted at it, and I had never actively used «Dimension» in front of Alty either.
“Aah, you’re keeping it a secret? Then I’m really sorry.
I’m quite familiar with the way you fight, you see.
It’s exactly like an old acquaintance of mine.
I recalled that he made a spatial transition… I think he did… supposedly.”
Alty let her words fall flat.
She looked like she couldn’t believe the words she said herself.
“What? Make it clear.”
“No, I just suddenly remembered the past.
Why did I… Either way, ‘Dimensional Magic’ can allow you to shorten the travel time in the Labyrinth—Isn’t that right? Our top-ranked student, Fran-chan?”
Alty then turned the conversation over to Franrühle.
She might have meant to have Franrühle take the credit, but the girl seemed troubled.
D-dimensional magic…? Indeed, I recall that there might be a minor attribute as such… However, even I don’t memorize every single attribute of magic that doesn’t show up in the test…”
“Eh? ‘Dimension Magic’ is a minor attribute in this age?”
There isn’t a single academy student that has that attribute.”
I feel a generational gap from that.”
* * *
Translator – Mab
Proofreader – ilafy
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* * *
Alty looked genuinely surprised, but for my part, I was more concerned that she had been using expressions that an old boomer would use without reserve.
From the way she talked, she seemed to have informed Franrühle she wasn’t the age her looks assumed.
I was curious about what kind of relationship Alty had with her, but I didn’t want to get too involved with them, so I decided to keep quiet.
Alty realized that Franrühle didn’t know about the matter and began the explanation herself.
“Since Fran-chan doesn’t know, it is my part to explain.
You see, the characteristic of ‘Dimensional Magic’ is that you dominate space; that means comprehending, manipulating, and connecting space.
Eventually, it can even create space and destroy it.
Amongst all of its functions, it has the magic to connect two points of space.
If I recall correctly, it’s called «Connection».
If you can use it, you won’t have to run around carrying Maria-chan.”
“Is that even possible…?”
The phrase ‘destroying space’ took me by surprise.
I knew that my magic would grow more and more extraordinary as I raised my level, but when I heard it could even destroy space itself, my body shook.
“It sure is.
Why don’t you try imagining it? Imagine a door that connects between two points of space and construct «Connection».
If it’s you, Christ, I’m sure you’ll be able to do it—if it’s you.”
Looking excited, Alty told me to construct magic.
Skeptical that I was, I created the vision in my mind as Alty instructed.
But then, Franrühle and Maria shouted.
“Wait, Alty! You can’t simply construct magic!”
“Th-that’s right! Creating magic is something straight out of fairy tales!”
Their voices startled me and fogged up the image I had.
Alty and I then looked at each other.
“Eh, Christ, people can’t construct magic in this time and age?”
Alty backed away from the two’s glare and tossed the hot potato to me.
“Don’t ask me.
All I know is that magic is something that naturally comes to you when you level up.”
“The same goes for me.
What I know of magic is that it is the norm for it to be invented through talent and ideas.”
Unexpectedly, we shared a common ground.
Hearing both of our opinions, Maria quickly refuted us.
“That’s not true.
It’s basic knowledge that you can’t learn to use magic on your own.
The only exception to that is children of a family of magicians, who may recall and use the magic of their ancestors, but that is far cry from constructing magic.
Magic can only be obtained by imprinting the wisdom of our ancestors in our blood.
Magic cannot come from nothing.”
Following Maria, Franrühle continued.
“More precisely, it is by swallowing the magic formula engraved on a magic stone that one’s blood can memorize magic.
Since it is memorized in the blood, a family of magicians will have children who can use magic from the time they are born.
However, this is also based on the assumption that their ancestral parents swallowed magic stones.
In other words, there is no other way to become able to use magic except by swallowing magic stones.
The kind of magic the two of you are thinking of simply of does not exist.”
Franrühle supplemented Maria’s explanation with terms she learned at the academy.
That was information that I hadn’t heard being discussed by the explorers.
It seemed that Maria and Franrühle had a deep knowledge of magic.
Trying not to provoke the two any further, I worked out a reply.
“I-I get it… Thanks for telling me about magic.
Erm, so, swallowing a magic stone with a magic formula on it… is the right way to learn magic?”
“That is correct.”
Maria and Franrühle nodded at the same time.
I had answered correctly, it seemed.
Seeing it as the perfect cue, I proceeded with the topic of magic stones.
“Well, why don’t we go and buy this magic stone thing…?”
After confirming that both Maria and I had finished our meal, I made up an excuse for us to get out of there.
Maria agreed, not wanting to prolong her meal with strangers.
“That sounds great.
Now that our bellies are full, we should go.”
Maria and I got up from our seats to go shopping.
“I-if so! Let me show you around, Christ-sama! I happen to know a store that stocks the finest magic stones—”
“Hey, hey, Fran-chan.
We have business today, remember? We’re already shaving it close by going to this tavern.
I’d suggest you give up.”
You’re correct… I’ll have to give up for today…”
As it turned out, the two of them didn’t have that much time to spare.
Franrühle was about to follow us, but Alty stopped her.
“We’ll take our leave first then.
You two can take your time enjoying your meal.”
I paid Lynn-san so I could leave the tavern behind me ASAP.
Maria also thanked them and left just as quickly.
“Let’s meet again, Christ, Maria-chan.”
Should the opportunity appear, we shall meet again!”
After saying our goodbyes for the last time, Maria and I left the tavern.
I reviewed the location of the stores related to magic and strode there.
Maria followed me as I started to walk, calling out to me.
“Huh, we’re really going to buy it?”
She seemed to think that buying the magic stone was merely an excuse to escape.
“Just in case.
I’m getting interested.”
“It’s fine if you’re just interested in it, but magic stones with the formula for magic engraved in it are expensive.
They might be just an afternoon purchase for those who go to the academy, but their prices are merciless for the average person.”
I have the money.”
Apparently, learning magic costed you a lot of money.
I, however, still had my money left over.
I had spent 10 gold coins for the new house and 4 gold coins for Maria, but I still had 7 gold coins left.
I had no intention of touching them, but I was also holding Dia’s share of 20 gold coins, so I shouldn’t worry about money shortage.
A single gold coin would be enough to get by for the foreseeable future, so that would leave us with a budget of about six gold coins for learning magic.
“Let’s go and see for now.
If possible, I want you to learn magic, Maria.”
Maria’s priorities were higher than mine.
I had more ATK using my sword, and I could wield it easily… not to mention, even if I were to learn new magic, most of my MP would be used for my ‘Dimensional Magic’.
It was hard to imagine any run-of-the-mill magic could overwhelm the applied strengths of «Dimension».
That was why I said Maria should learn Magic.
“Me? Magic?” Maria replied with a look of incredulity.
“I’m going to have you explore the Labyrinth with me.
This is a necessary investment.”
Because she was at level seven, I was going to have her help me with some simple combat.
As far as her ‘Status’ was concerned, Maria’s MAG was outstanding.
Once she learned magic, no ordinary explorer would be able to catch up to her.
“Did it occur to you that I might just run away after I learn magic?”
That being said, you don’t have anywhere to run to, do you?”
Maria didn’t seem to be keen on the idea; on the contrary, she suggested to me that she might run away once she learned magic.
I lightly denied her words.
“That is the case when I was powerless.
I have a high level now, and if you add magic on top of that, then it’s different.
If I were to run away and sell information about your abilities, Master, and then use the money to get on my own feet… what would you do?!”
In response to my lighthearted attitude, Maria raised her voice.
Her point was certainly valid, but even if that were the case, I wouldn’t mind.
“I don’t mind if you run from me, but I’d hate to have my intel leaked out… In that case, can you please keep it to yourself? Please?”
“…O-once I’m free of you, you’re nobody to me, Master!”
“I have a feeling you won’t do it to me, Maria… just a feeling, though.”
Maria was speechless at how casual I had been.
It was a difference in point of view.
Personally, I was fine either way.
No matter how the dice rolled, it was still a problem I could handle.
That was why I was casual and off-handed in my handling of her.
Maria, on the other hand, thought that it was a mortal sin for a slave to disobey his or her master.
She believed that it was natural for her to serve her master with all her being—that was why she was serious about the matter.
Even in her silence, Maria continued to reproach me.
I could go on at length about her freedom again, but that would be a repeat of the day before.
Maria, with her «Insight», would be able to derive what I would have said in that silence.
That was why I found no reason for me to say anything.
“Haa… honestly… You should’ve said it with more confidence, Master…”
It was Maria who broke the silence first.
As I had expected, she seemed to have guessed what I would have said with her «Insight», so she attacked me for my lack of confidence when I contradicted myself.
She seemed to have decided that it was useless to pursue the differences in our points of view, just like I had.
“I don’t know you well enough to be confident about it, Maria, but people who warn others about the harm they would do are the people who won’t actually do it… I think.”
“What kind of logic is that? That’s just naive.”
It was knowledge that I had gained from movies and comics I had enjoyed in my previous world.
It was what a lot of storytelling theories were about.
“I know I’m being naive.
I won’t change my policy, though.
I am going to buy magic for you, Maria.”
“You’re naive… really naive…”
Maria kept on muttering as she walked along.
She complained a lot but seemed to follow my policy for the time being.
I deduced that it wouldn't be a problem.
But to be honest, my deduction meant nothing.
I didn't have what it took to judge people, after all.
For me, who could see others’ ‘Status’ through the use of ‘Display’ and valued them based merely on their numerical values, perhaps I would never be able to.
As I was resenting my own history, I showed Maria my laugh and walked to the store with her.
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