Either way, it’s time for the exam.
“Well then, let me explain the details of the exam that’s going to take place from now on!” One of the examiners began to explain.
――In short: Head to the dungeon, go to the boss room, defeat the boss, pick up the token placed further inside the dungeon beyond the boss room, and come back.
Further inside, beyond the boss room…? At the place where you can find the Dungeon Core? Then I must be extra careful to not break it by accident!
I suppose that’s all I need to pay attention to.
“Ryoku, follow me while evading everything. Got it?”
Yep, he’s so cute.
I gently stroked him.
“Tsk! She was even given such a monster-like golem!? Sure makes me jealous how everything goes for S-Rank’s pet!”
…or something like that reached my ears, but…why would they describe a darling like Ryoku as a monster?
“Okay, start the exam.”
Upon that announcement…
“I ain’t gonna lose to some cheatin’ bitch!”
“Let’s go! We definitely won’t lose to someone like her!”
I felt like I heard such voices, but they sounded faint and distant.
“Gyahaha, what a moron. How far ya think ya’ll get while rushin’ ahead like that?”
“No clue how to tackle dungeons as you got through everythin’ by connections, eh!?”
I had a hunch that I heard some buzzing in the far distance, but I actually think that I’m probably going to finish this exam before the day is over at this rate.
At the dungeon’s entrance area a man, who seemed to be an examiner, yelped after getting startled, and inside the dungeon people cried out after getting surprised as well, but I ignored all of it.
I’m in the middle of my challenge with the restriction of not being allowed to stop.
After running through the fairly spacious dungeon, I arrived at the boss room. I opened the door, and killed the boss in the next instant. Leaving the boss room, I headed deeper inside…
Ah, I found a person.
“What is it!?”
“I’m an examinee, so please give me the token.”
“Eh? Examinee, you say…? When did it start?”
“Quite a while ago, I think? …I’ve challenged myself to clear it without stopping, but now I’ve ended up coming to a halt.”
I had to stop since I’m talking to him. Oh well, no helping it. I simply hadn’t expected that I’d receive the token from someone else.
“Eh? Ah, are you possibly the pupil of the S-Rank adventurer, Mr. Sword?”
“I’m not his pupil, but his partner. I haven’t learned anything from that guy. Everything is self-taught. Leaving that aside, I’ve been told to return as the fastest, so I’d like to head back any time now. Please give me the token.”
“Oh, sorry. …No doubt, you’re the fastest. You’ve arrived here first.”
He passed me a token.
“I see. Thanks.”
“Be careful on your way back!”
“Okay. Please give my regards to Mr. Dungeon Core!” I bid my farewell to the laughing, examiner-like man with a wave of my hand, and started to dash again.
On my way back I ran into one of the parties who didn’t get involved with me, but I passed them by leaping above.
“Just now, was that possibly…?”
“Do your best~ You’re on the right track~” I told them in passing.
When I exited the dungeon…
“Huh!? Don’t tell me, you already cleared it!?”
In response I waved the token at them.
Sword looked at me without a care whereas the examiner stared at me blankly.
“Which reminds me, I didn’t hear what to do after bringing back the token, did I?”
The examiner opened his mouth, but no sound came out of it. Sword spoke up in his stead.
“A bit late, aren’t you?”
“I stopped on the way to talk with the examiner person to give me the token. Sorry.” I apologized.
So I’ve been slow after all.
“Just kiddin’. Or rather, a time like that despite chattin’ with someone in the middle of it, eh? Didn’t you run throughout almost the whole course then?”
“That’s the kind of challenge it was. It was a bit of fun, you know? I liked it since it felt like an adventure.”
“I see, I see, that’s great to hear.”
Yep, how irresponsible of him.
When the examiner came back to his senses at long last, he held out his hand.
“…I’ll hold onto…the token.”
I passed it to him.
Isn’t there some more?
I profusely tilted my head to the side in confusion.
“…Please wait for the results of the exam.”
“When are you going to announce them?”
The examiner has frozen up, but I wonder why?
“…… Once everyone finishes, all examiners will assemble, and then we’ll go back to the guild. Afterwards I think you’ll be told the result after around an hour.”
I see. So it’s a system where they choose from among everyone, instead of marking everyone individually.
After stretching himself, Sword carried our luggage over.
“No choice, huh? Guess we gotta wait. The campin’ will last for a while.”
“That’s what I actually prefer, but is it going to take that long?”
“Don’t judge folks by your and my standards. Normally it takes ’round two to three days, really. Moreover, you don’t often encounter crazy folk who’d break through enemies and traps at your speed. …Around now everyone should have entered the dungeon, I think. Let’s wait for ’em at the entrance area.”
We moved over, joining up with the examiner at the dungeon’s entrance.
“Oh! You’re the one from earlier!” He pointed at me. “So I didn’t mistake you for someone else after all, huh…? You seemed like you were being chased by a monster, and yet you didn’t ask for help. I didn’t hear that a tamer would take part in this exam, but…you’re a tamer, aren’t you…?”
“Ryoku is a golem. Ryoku, greet the examiner.”
“Nice to meet you! I am Ryoku!”
“Is that also part of its basic functions?”
He’s so adorable.
“A talking golem…”
“The voice actually belongs to her, though.” Sword pointed at me.
“I’ve recorded my own voice to use it for broadcasting. …Oh, now is the perfect time. I’d love you guys to teach Ryoku a bit. Examiner, please explain the C-Rank exam to Ryoku.”
“C-RanK eXaM iS D-RaNk adVENturErS wHO aRe taKInG iT DIvE iNtO dunGeOn aND fEtCH toKEn.”
Oh, he listened?
“There, there, well done, Ryoku. So you heard the earlier explanation, huh?”
“Me wElL dONe?”
“Yes, you did well.”
“Yaaay, I got praised~”
Sword watched Ryoku jumping in joy and me caressing him with an ultra scary look.
“Nothin’ to admire there. This is part of his 『Education』. She made the golem so he’d act like that from the very start.”
When he explained this to the examiners, they praised, “Isn’t that in itself really amazing then!?”
Seemingly having their interest piqued, they closely examined Ryoku all over.
“Where did you get your hands on this? Probably in a dungeon, right?”
“I made him.”
“I made him.”
“You see, there was this multi-legged battle golem which appeared in a story I loved dearly. I wanted to make one for myself, at any cost. I’ve promised myself that I’d have him sing a song with me someday when a soul dwells within.”
I repeatedly nuzzled and stroked Ryoku, causing the examiners to draw back from me.
“Sorry. You gotta know, this girl got a screw loose. All the folk making magic tools are like that.”
Five days later.
The examiners put forth a request to rescue the parties which hadn’t returned yet.
“Alright, I guess we’ll head out then.”
“Sending out an examinee on a rescue request is kind of like putting the cart before the horse, but…”
“She’s passed anyway. If you say she’s failed, you might as well reconsider my rank.” Sword said over his shoulder before rushing into the dungeon together with me.
“Thinking about it now, that was pretty much a flag, wasn’t it?”
Two parties haven’t come back so far. It’s the parties who picked a fight with me. The two parties, who had absolutely nothing to do with me, and especially the party I passed on my run, managed to come back within two days.
“Because they messed with you? Rather, thinkin’ that any kind of favoritism or riggin’ would work on adventurers is already weird as fuck. In the first place, what’s the point in worryin’ ’bout others? Us adventurers complete requests while usin’ our own abilities as capital, no? It’s bullshit to believe that they wouldn’t be able to reach C-Rank just because your bein’ favored. Adventurer ain’t such a half-assed occupation that you can survive on such a naive way of thinkin’.”
Huh? It’s such a hard mode?
Well, he’s right in this being physical work. I highly doubt that raising your levels by leeching like in some hunting games will be of any use for something as trivial as clearing a village quest if you don’t have the ability to go with it.
We arrived at the halfway point.
“Now then, I think it’d be more efficient for us to split up, but I sure can’t help feelin’ worried when bein’ apart from you…”
Sword looked super hesitant.
“Don’t worry, it’ll be no problem.”
“Obviously it’ll be only problems! If your agitation skill explodes, it’s highly likely for it to develop into a battle with your rescue targets!”
“I’ll make them faint in such a case. Take Ryoku with you, I’ll go by myself.”
“Hey, you got it backwards, don’t you!?”
“Ryoku and I can talk even when apart. I’ll inform you about the situation through Ryoku. Also, Ryoku and I can grasp each other’s location. It’s more efficient for you to take him with you.”
“…… Gotcha. Keep me updated, minutely.” Sword gave in with a bitter expression.
“What are you talking about? This dungeon isn’t that difficult, is it? Rather, it’s extremely boring if you clear it while looking on a map, you know? A game you know how to clear lacks any kind of appeal.”
A fist exploded on my head.
“It’s no game, but a rescue operation.”
“I know that… I’m just telling you to not worry. Everything is 『visible』 to me.”
Sword sighed, “…Make sure to not have the rug pulled under you because of that conceit, ‘kay?”
“You’re too much of a worrywart. I’m just enjoying my life.” I caressed Sword’s cheek. “I worry about you too. The things I can do are limited, and so are the things you can do. And it’s my freedom what to think and how to act. That’s what I meant with 『I know that』. How about you?”
Suddenly I got hugged.
“Watch out to not get injured out of carelessness, ‘kay?”
“You too. You’re more important than the rescue targets.”
“…Now you suddenly come around the corner with such corny lines, eh? Are you hittin’ on me, a grown-up?”
“Why would you interpret it like that?”
How did the topic switch from me being worried about him to me hitting on him?
With a sigh, I separated from him.
“Kids don’t need to worry ’bout adults.”
“My body is that of a child, but my insides are those of an adult.”
“Come to think of it, you mentioned bein’ a middle-aged man, didn’t you?”
Why does he take me for a guy?
Sword headed down one of the paths while laughing.
I let out a deep sigh…they’re pretty deep in, aren’t they? Three of them, huh…? Unless they’re dead, it’s the three girls party. I suppose I picked the winner here. I’ll leave the foul-mouthed middle-aged idiots to the guy around their age.