Chapter 40 – From the 20th Floor to the 23rd Floor
The next day, Lastiara and I, the two of us, were back in the Labyrinth to challenge the 21st floor again.
“—Well! Finally, we can start the real exploration, right Christ?”
Just so you know, though, my definition of real exploration and your definition of real exploration are wildly different.”
We took a shortcut to the 20th floor via the «Connection» that we set up in the house.
Being on the 20th floor so early in the morning was quite a fresh sensation.
Behind me, Lastiara was walking happily, her body relaxed.
Unlike the day before, I was the one leading the way.
I had returned to my original role as a scout, making the most of my ability.
I probed for enemies as we walked on the 21st floor, but Lastiara wouldn’t stop yapping so loudly behind me.
“Christ! Let’s aim for the 30th floor!”
“…No, I say we should go one layer at a time and see how things go.
First, we limber up on the 21st floor, then set up a camp somewhere at the end of—”
“Your story’s too long, Christ!”
As I was presenting her with my plan of action, Lastiara brushed it off in a sulky manner.
When it came to the course of actions within the Labyrinth, we weren’t on the same page.
We’d discussed it since early in the morning, but even after we entered the Labyrinth, we still couldn’t consolidate our plans.
—Which was pretty okay in itself, to be honest.
I knew from the start that it would be difficult to control Lastiara.
I had no choice but to adapt to her, but if I gave in to Lastiara and spoiled her from the start, she would get carried away.
Ideally, there should be a balance between Lastiara, who was the gas pedal, and me, who was the brake pedal.
Therefore, it was just right that neither of us should yield to the other.
“My story might be long, but I don’t think I said anything wrong since the context is the Labyrinth.”
“More like you said something boring, especially since the context is the Labyrinth.”
“Don’t similize being right with being boring.
Also, I’m not here to have fun to begin with.”
“But Christ, that’s a breach of contract, you know? I am helping you with your goal of conquering the Labyrinth, so you are obligated to help me with my goal of having fun in the Labyrinth.”
“Yes, you’re right.
—That is the contract.
That’s why we take the middle way.
You can have your fun, Lastiara.
But don’t forget that I have my own goal.
Also, I’m asking you, please try to refrain from taking things into your own hands.”
“Aah… So, you’ve been so pig-headed since morning to nail that warning, huh…”
I just couldn’t be at ease with someone like her around unless I firmly warned her like that.
She was a completely different type of person from Dia and Maria.
“Blame your own behavior.
Ever since we met, you’ve always… oops, no more time to chat.”
«Dimension» caught the presence of a monster while Lastiara and I chatted.
“Oh, we’ve got incoming already? God, your searching ability is convenient, Christ.”
“There is one enemy ahead.
It’s the same giant monkey as yesterday.
I’ll jump in first and kite it.
After that, you come in.
I’ll match with you on my part.”
“What, you think I’m a boar or something? Well, I’ll go along for now.”
We ran at the same time I made the call.
Despite the fact I pushed up to my speed limit, Lastiara was following right behind me.
Yep, I knew I was in good hands in terms of abilities.
As I rounded the corner, I found the strange-looking monster.
It was the same monster as before, a fury.
The fury noticed my approach and intercepted me with its four arms.
I dodged through the four powerful arms, passed under the fury’s legs, and got behind it.
To attack me further, the fury opted to twist its body around, but Lastiara wouldn’t let that happen.
The fury stopped Lastiara’s sword with two of its arms before it extended its remaining arms towards me.
I dodged the attack and moved my body to enter its blind spot once again.
Not wanting to lose sight of me, the fury turned its face but gave up due to Lastiara’s overwhelming presence.
It must have realized that turning away from Lastiara would mean receiving a fatal blow.
Its first priority was to crush Lastiara.
It left me alone and swung its open palm onto Lastiara.
And our victory was decided.
Just as its arm was about to reach Lastiara, my sword sliced through that arm’s shoulder, stopping it for a moment.
Lastiara didn’t miss that moment, she evaded the incoming attack and slashed through the fury’s torso.
The monkey bellowed in rage, intent on crushing Lastiara.
I swung my sword again in time with its breathing.
Naturally, that momentarily stopped the fury’s movement again.
End of line.
As long as I was behind it, the fury couldn’t make any proper attack.
It was a feat that could only be done because «Dimension» was constantly informing me of the movements of Lastiara and the enemy.
Lastiara slashed at the monkey, who repeatedly showed an opening.
At last, her sword sliced through its neck, and—in response—I stabbed its heart from the back.
The fury let out a roar of despair, spurting out blood and disappearing in a flash of light.
I picked up the fallen magic stone, then checked up with Lastiara.
“Are you injured?”
“The blood isn’t mine.
That was easy.
If anything, I felt sorry for the monster.
It couldn’t do anything at all…”
“That’s what happens if we give our best together.
A tedious work with a certain outcome is what I like.”
“Hmmm… but it’s not interesting if we’re too overwhelming…”
We’re only starting with the 21st floor.
I expanded my magical senses.
What made the 21st floor unique was that monsters with immense power sprung forth in great numbers.
The roar the fury unleashed must be a part of this mechanism.
I grasped every monster within the area the roar I assumed had reached.
As I had expected, all those monsters were coming at us.
“Exactly as predicted.
It seems like if we defeat one monster, the monsters around us will hear it and come after us.”
I didn’t have the leeway to take the time for a wide-area search before, but it was different with just Lastiara.
I had time to grasp their movements.
The more we defeat them, the more they’ll crowd us, right~?”
“But this kind of team play is useless against me.
With my magic, we won’t be surrounded.
Are we gonna isolate and defeat them two-on-one like before?’
“That’s our main tactic, but if it’s becoming a pain, we can strike all of them at once.
If it’s us, we’ll be alright, even if they surround us.”
Lastiara followed me, smiling as she answered.
In truth, both Lastiara and I were typically solo fighters.
Our true strength truly shone in a one-against-many.
As proven before, we were definitely strong when we cooperated, but that was because we were pretty close to each other in terms of strength and fighting style.
By all rights, there was nobody who could match Lastiara’s movement.
And she knew that painfully well, which was why she wanted to become my companion.
“We’ll reach one shortly.
We can attack from its back this time.”
“Got that… Ah, hunting monsters is good and all, but we are going to the 22nd floor, okay?”
“If we have the leeway to.”
As a matter of fact, we had a lot of leeway.
With our speed, we would never be surrounded unless something really bad happened.
That was why we could chat.
The furies had given us a hard time the day before, but to be honest, they really posed no threat.
No wonder, since one of their strongest characteristics was attacking in groups, and that had no effect on me.
We repeatedly slew furies individually as we made it through the 21st floor.
Although we had to leave the Main Road and take detours to avoid being surrounded, we managed to reach the stairs to the 22nd level without any problems.
All in all, it took about an hour.
We vanquished 10 furies in that time.
* * *
Translator – Mab
Proofreader – ilafy
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* * *
After reaching the stairs to the 22nd floor, we kept a wary eye on our surroundings as we were recovering.
While I did say we had a lot of leeway, mistakes were bound to happen if we were outnumbered.
We were caught surrounded several times, so we weren’t completely unharmed traversing the 21st floor.
The injury wasn’t serious, but it required recovery magic.
“‘A world of Immaculate Purity’ ‘Let the Pale Sun shine on you’.
Lastiara chanted, gathered magic power, and casted recovery magic.
I stared at her and asked my question.
“The… chanting you do before casting the magic, is there a meaning to it?”
Hmm, it just helps me imagine the magic, it doesn’t have to be chanted.
You can say it’s kind of a habit.”
It seemed like different people had different habits, even with the same magic.
With different methods to bring up the image in mind, different chants were bound to exist as well.
Since the magic formation was within the magician’s body, I’d guess it shouldn’t be a surprise.
You’re all good now.”
While we both checked our MP, we also checked our EXP.
Since I hadn’t had any proper hunt since my fight with Tida, traversing the 21st floor alone had caused me to accumulate a lot of EXP.
As expected, the EXP per monster ratio for deeper floors was very different.
That and the fact that I was hunting on a floor deeper than the floor appropriate for my level was probably a huge factor.
Both Lastiara and I could fight at a deeper floor than what we were supposed to due to our extraordinary APT.
Even that battle-freak Tida had told me that I had the strength of a level 20 for someone at level 10.
I fought high-level monsters as someone with a low level, so it was obvious that my EXP would accumulate faster than usual.
“Let’s raise our levels while we’re at it.
Christ, stay alert.”
Lastiara must have seen my EXP.
She decided we could level up and casted a level-up magic.
Name: Kanami Aikawa
HP: 321/372, MP: 334/623-200
STR: 7.12, VIT: 7.45, DEX: 8.55, AGI: 10.92, WIS: 10.88, MAG: 26.91, APT: 7.00
Name: Lastiara Whoseyards
HP: 670/709, MP: 283/325
STR: 11.71, VIT: 11.11, DEX: 7.12, AGI: 8.39, WIS: 12.97, MAG: 9.12, APT: 4.00
I allocated the generated bonus points into MP.
The reason for that was because keeping up «Connection» had made the MP available to me decrease.
I still had some skill points left over.
“I still have enough MP.
Although, Christ, how come you’ve so little MP?”
“Those magic gates are cutting on my maximum MP by 200.
Also, my MP is actively being used when I search for enemies, and I’m using supporting magic during the battle, so it’s going down even more.”
“Wow, your consumption rate is bad… Save up some.”
I don’t want to die out of carelessness.”
Right, if you die, I will be troubled as well…”
Discussing magic with Lastiara reminded me of something that had been bothering me for some time.
Seeing that as a good opportunity, I asked her the question.
“Come to think of it, what’s with the «Foreigner» skill you spoke about? It’s been bothering me.”
“Nn? From my perspective, Christ, you have five skills; «Swordsmanship», «Freezing Magic», «Dimensional Magic», «Foreigner», and «???», you know?”
“That «Foreigner» Skill is «???» in my eyes.
Are your eyes on a higher level than mine, Lastiara? This «Foreigner» Skill, is it helping me right now?”
“Even if you ask me, I don’t know anything about it.
Isn’t it just some kind of title given for someone who isn’t from this world?”
“Is that how it is?”
We descended to the 22nd floor as we talked.
We could have looked for a boss monster on the 21st floor, but since there was no detailed information for a floor that deep, we gave up the idea.
Not many of the explorers who came to the tavern had ever made it to the 20th floor.
The stairs to the 22nd were a long way down.
That was to say, the ceiling of the 22nd floor was high.
“Well, we reached the 22nd floor.
I almost died the last time I was here, but it’ll be a cinch for the two of us.”
“You almost died? I knew you were alone, but it’s hard to believe you were driven into a corner by a normal monster.”
“I was at level 10 when I reached down here.
I thought I had gotten too strong to be rivaled, you see.
Oh man, that was a lot of fun.”
“I’m more scared of you, trying to clear this floor at such a low level.
Are you suicidal or something?”
Lastiara had no qualms with such a huge level handicap, even though it was her own life on the line.
“No, I don’t want to die either.
Despite what I said, I understand the value of life.
I don’t like seeing someone losing their life.”
“For that part, you looked ecstatic when Maria and I were about to die.”
“What can I say, I like seeing someone fighting for their life.
It’s okay, I’ll definitely save you before you die.”
Lastiara wasn’t afraid to talk about things that I’d bet Maria would stop talking to me for if she heard me saying it.
I proceeded through the 22nd floor, astonished by Lastiara’s unusual values.
Unlike the 21st floor, the 22nd floor had narrower corridors and higher ceilings.
It was several meters wide and several tens of meters high.
While each floor had its own characteristics, that was the first time such a large change had occurred.
The deeper the floor, the more distinctive the characteristics might become.
As I was musing about the corridors and such, I found an enemy with «Dimension».
It was a bird-shaped monster.
Flying monsters in the Labyrinth tended to have small bodies, but that monster was different.
It was several meters tall, with hawk-like wings and talons.
It had three compound eyes on its head.
I could spot its ferocious eyeteeth, so we had to watch out for both claws and fangs.
【Monster】 Leagle: Rank 20
“Lastiara, I found a monster that looks like a bird.”
“Aah, that guy.
It’ll skedaddle once it gets hurt, so it’s best if we kill it in one shot.
Just ignore the ones that don’t come down, counter only the ones that do.”
“Monsters that run away, huh? That sounds like trouble.
But from your phrasing, I guess this is also a swarming type of monster?”
“It’s like the monkeys on the 21st floor have turned into birds.
Although, fighting them is a completely different experience… Well, I’m sure you’ll be okay, Christ.”
“What’s with your uselessly high trust in me…”
“Well, it’s because you are the Protagonist to me, after all…”
Lastiara answered meaningfully.
I was about to respond off-handedly, but then I noticed the leagle gliding onto us, so I shifted my attention from her to the enemy.
“—! Here it comes!”
“It’s dark up there, I’m surprised you can tell.”
I readied my sword and intercepted the descending leagle.
Lastiara followed suit, offering her carefree comment.
The leagle aimed at my throat with its claws at a speed incomparable to the furies.
I caught the attack with the flat of my sword and tried to slice through the monster’s body in retaliation.
However, I was hit by the inertia of the descent, pushing my body back.
When I regained my stance, the leagle was already out of my range.
Unable to stop the leagle from gaining altitude after harassing me once, I could only see it off—before a flying sword pierced its side.
It was the sword that Lastiara had thrown.
The leagle disappeared as light, and Lastiara picked up the magic stone and her sword that were dropped and then smiled.
“They’re a real hassle to fight one on one, but with the two of us, not so much.
The moment one of us gets hit, the other can deliver a blow.”
“Seems like it.
But it won’t be that easy if we’re dealing with multiple enemies at once.”
She handed me the magic stone.
I put it in my ‘Item List’ and asked her what her plans were.
“So, what do we do? Do you want to fight them?”
“Nope, they’re a huge pain to deal with.
Let’s pass the 22nd floor.”
Indeed, they were fast and clever with tactics.
Dealing with them had to be extremely nerve-wrecking.
Ordinary people wouldn’t be able to notice the raid from the air because of how dark the ceilings were.
Even if they did, the leagles’ overwhelming speed would make it impossible for them to defend themselves.
And even if they managed to defend, they couldn’t fight back easily due to the inertia of the descent.
And if the leagles failed to attack, those monsters would disengage to repeat the process.
They even opted to run away in case of being wounded, definitely making them one of the most troublesome monsters I had encountered so far.
“Yeah, I don’t like these guys either… They’re not worth fighting unless we have a long-range means of attack…”
“We both specialize in short to medium range, after all.”
As swordsmen, the only long-range attack that Lastiara and I could make was throwing our swords.
If we missed, our beloved swords would be far outside our reach, and even if we prepared throwing swords for that, they would only slow us down.
Simply put, we were not suited to take on enemies at a distance.
If I made use of the ‘Item’ system to the fullest, I would be able to handle monsters like that, but I was not willing to reveal such a strong card against that monster.
It would be much easier if we had Dia, but with just the two of us, it would be better to ignore them.
Quite unusually, Lastiara and I agreed with each other, and we decided to move on, avoiding the leagles as much as possible.
But after walking around for a few minutes, I learned that it wouldn’t be that easy.
“What’s wrong, Christ?”
I analyzed the information «Dimension» presented for me and clicked my tongue.
I knew the surrounding creatures were heading our way after we defeated the leagle earlier.
I had chosen a path so as not to be surrounded, but they were trying to block our escape and surrounded us with a speed of movements incomparable to those of the furies on the 21st floor.
Two of them slipped through and were coming close.
We’ve got one from the front and one from the back.”
“Don’t blame yourself.
If we’re pinched, then let’s watch each other’s backs.”
But we’ll get crowded if it gets too long.
Let’s finish this up as fast as possible.
—Magic, «Daytime Snow», «Foam».”
I refined five «Daytime Snow» spells and let them scatter.
As for «Foam», some of them clung to my sword.
“Those bubbles with cold air within… I’ve never seen or heard magic like that before.
Did you invent it?”
“Rather than invent, it’s more like I combined two magics as one.
They’re traps, so don’t touch them.
They should slow down anything that touches them, so use them to your advantage.”
As we finished our preparations, the two leagles above us began to glide towards us.
Lastiara and I were back to back, each taking on one monster.
I used my «Dimension Gladiator» to grasp the leagle’s movements.
I successfully spotted its attack and parried it.
However, my counterattack was inevitably delayed by one step, and my sword only met air.
The same seemed to be true for Lastiara behind me.
However, I succeeded in adhering «Foam» to the leagle.
My grasp of that one monster had improved dramatically, and I was confident that the next time it swooped down, I would be able to slay it.
But then, as though to mock me, the leagle that received the «Foam» fled far away.
“Eh? It fled just because of the magic bubble?”
“They’re really such cowardly monsters, aren’t they? Just a slight of oddity and they’re up in the wind.”
The leagle that had fled further away then cawed at a distance.
No matter how I thought of it, it had to be calling for reinforcements.
As I expanded the range of «Dimension», I could perceive that the monsters in the distance had taken notice of us.
Amongst them were monsters other than the leagles.
At that rate, we’d have to deal with all kinds of monsters.
And it’s even calling his friends…”
“I knew it.
The last time I was here, I ran as fast as my legs could bring me.
What about you, Christ?”
“I think I’ll do the same.”
They’re tough, but they’re smart, so it’s not that much fun fighting them.”
Lastiara and I looked at each other, nodded, and started running at the same time.
The leagle that Lastiara had missed attacking was about to pounce on our backs, but my magic had no blind spot.
I pointed my sword backwards as if to insist I could see behind me.
Just by doing so, the leagle backed away.
Leaving the leagles behind, Lastiara and I skedaddled as fast as we could towards the 23rd floor.
Since we chose the path with the help of «Dimension», there were few enemies along the way.
However, as the monsters on the 22nd floor were all cautious, we repeatedly had them flee on us just before we could finish them off.
As a result, I wasted a lot of MP and gained no EXP.
“Haa, haa, haa…”
“Haa, haa, haa…”
With our breath ragged, panting for air, we reached the 23rd floor.
Lastiara didn’t reserve herself in grumbling.
“Haa, the 22nd floor is such a pain.”
She seemed to have lost a lot of stamina.
She followed me, her shoulders rocking.
As we descended the stairs, the monsters that had been chasing us pulled back.
Apparently, monsters couldn’t cross floors.
After putting that useful information in my head, we descended to the 23rd floor.
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