If I’m not mistaken, it’s just as Eva said.
The place transformed from a labyrinth with concrete walls and floor into a location overgrown with trees and shrubs.
The labyrinth’s width has become far more spacious and tapestry-like arbor is thickly growing on the walls. Yellow trees that imitate big tigers are hanging around the ceiling. A smoke-like, pale fog is spit out from their big mouths with their conspicuous fangs and hangs in the air.
In reverse, it even feels as if the area has become more narrow, making one experience a feeling of oppression.
I guess it’s because of the fog and the glowing light sources being hindered by the trees covering the walls and ceiling, but the area is dim.
It gives the impression of a special forest cave.
Even the floor has an earthen color, or rather, there are parts that are completely soil.
There’s even an area that looks as if a tree-made, artistic rug had been spread out.
Once we advance through the forest labyrinth, it gets even wider and the scenery comes close to one you can find on the surface.
There are also soft areas since soil and grass is growing out of the floor, but as it seems that the trees’ roots have been gradually expanding deep into the underground, the mysterious geographical features are increasing with trees that have unnatural shapes rising from the ground and also trees that are rounded, similar to elliptical writing desks, appearing.
Given that it’s a rough path leading through such terrain, the rattling and shaking of Eva’s wheelchair increases all the more.
Among the trees piercing through the ground, there are also light-emitting trees with swollen flower bags hanging at the tips of their drooping branches, which are similar to willows, like paper lanterns.
As if wanting to get illuminated by the light of those paper lanterns, silver flowers, which had the shape of a temple bell like a campanula, are beautifully blooming in close vicinity.
Huge horsetails are growing in the corners and white flowers that resemble daisies are in full bloom, extending over an area with a vastness to the degree of covering the trees’ surfaces, where we are walking ahead.
It looks as if we have been greeted by Innocent Arms. (T/N: Reference to D-Grayman? Maybe, not sure)
Rollo happily thrusts her face into the flowers and sniffs their scent. Thereupon a large amount of a pollen-like powder clung to her nostrils.
She starts to sneeze in rapid succession.
“Hahaha, Rollo, come over here. I will remove it.” (Shuuya)
Rollo comes back in order to cling to me.
Eww, I’m completely hit by her sneeze.
Good grief… however, she’s cute, so I will forgive her.
I release water with life magic and clean her nose’s dirt with a leather cloth and wet fingers.
“Rollo-chan acting like a spoiled child, how adorable!” (Rebecca)
“Nn, Rollo-chan, purring.” (Eva)
While saying something like that, Rebecca shrewdly grasps the forelegs of Rollo who is clinging to me, and gently massages her paws.
Moreover, her hind legs are gently brushed by Eva’s slender hands.
I suppose Rollo isn’t as dissatisfied as she makes others believe either. She closes her eyes partly and starts to show an expression as though saying “Massage me more nya.”
Viine gazes at that situation while looking envious.
That’s no mood to have in a labyrinth, is it? I can’t really say that out loud though.
“Now then, the wiping of your nose is done, so please get off me.” (Shuuya)
“Aah, she went away.” (Rebecca)
Rollo, who separated from me, walks slightly ahead and shakes her body like a dog.
“Rollo-chan looks as if she wanted to be massaged by you, Shuuya.” (Eva)
“That’s because she would have been happy to not separate, right?”
We start advancing through the labyrinth in such manner.
There are strings extending in a spiral shape while entangling the huge horsetails on the right side. There are round shining spheres that had several decorative rivets at their tips, and sacks with a shape resembling big lips of humans are located at the underside of the light spheres.
The lips are gaping open to the left and right as if telling their prey to come closer.
There are such light sources as well?
Like a football fish, it seems to be an insectivore creature that lures bugs to it.
Strangely shaped butterflies are flying around nimbly.
There are also grasshoppers with weird forms. Insects similar to drone beetles are flying from the left to the right.
Rollo reacts to the drone beetles and chases after them.
“Don’t go too far in as it will result in something similar to just a few moments ago~” (Shuuya)
Even pearl oyster-like objects are squirming in the shadows of the trees.
This place is a jungle, isn’t it?
The suspicious forest path continues.
Following it, there are several magic source responses from ahead.
I will scout them out.
“I will go have a look slightly ahead.” (Shuuya)
After joining up with Rollo, we run together towards the place where the responses are.
Oh? I can hear the sounds of somebody fighting.
Although it has the same size as the wide forest path, we come out at a place with few trees.
It’s a plains-like area.
Over there treants, which are wooden monsters, and monsters, which seemed to have turned into big pill-bugs with a shell, are fighting against a party of adventurers.
I guess those are the shelled worms?
“Rollo, we will only observe, okay?” (Shuuya)
Rollo returns on my shoulder.
She faces in the same direction as me while sitting there.
I watch the battle in the open forest area.
“Hey, get working, dog-ear and elf! Attack that fake tree monster and the shelled worms!”
A seedy-looking, shabby beastman and a still young looking elf oppose the monsters from the front after getting ordered by an adventurer.
What the hell is this?
They are forced to fight with such an equipment?
The beastman, who reveals an exhausted expression since before the battle, falls down after having their feet caught and entangled by the branches growing out of the monster that seems to be a treant. The beastman dies after having their head crushed by a shelled worm.
Being late, the elf cuts the branches with the longsword in their hands, but a shelled worm, that popped out with a rotation, drills into their flank and the elf ends up collapsing after fainting in agony.
In that situation another shelled worm swarms towards the fallen young elf, runs across the elf’s head and crushes it.
That shelled worm is rotating vertically as if having an independent motor attached to its yoyo-like body.
Its tough shell intensely scrapes against the surface of a tree, even causing smoke to rise up…
I don’t want to experience a hit-and-run by that.
“Tsk, looks like cheap ones aren’t worth shit—”
While saying that over his shoulder, the adventurer who wears a banded armor, crushes the shelled worm that jumps at him while rotating with a hammer from the side and easily brings it down.
“Are you using and killing slaves again?”
An adventurer, who’s next to him while wearing a metal armor, starts a conversation with the adventurer wearing the leather armor. Wielding a long-handled polearm, he mows down a shelled worm. Moreover he strikes a treant with the polearm as if smashing it from its roots, causing it to be blown away.
“We won’t be able to even sell them, so it’s fine. There’s still many others left after all, aight?”
At that point a robed party member starts to chant a spell.
Making a fireball appear, the caster releases it towards the blown-away treant.
The treant, who received that magic attack, bursts into flames and stops moving after raising a scream in death agony.
Light warriors holding bows, who seem to be their other party members, fire one arrow after the other to attack the other treants.
I gaze at that spectacle while being stumped.
Come to think of it, even the slaves, which I saw for the first time at 【Fortress City Hekatrail】, were treated like trash by their owners, weren’t they?
I wait for Eva and the others to get here.
Eva and the others arrive from behind, and Rebecca asks, “Mmh? What’s wrong?” after seeing my expression.
“Look over there. Is it normal for slaves to be used in such way?”
I quickly shift my face and guide them with my look.
I point a finger alongside my gaze towards the slaves who have died after collapsing.
The adventurer party, which treated the slaves like trash and abandoned them, moves towards collecting the loot as soon as they defeated all the treants and shelled worms.
As it seems like there are also other slaves in their party, the ordered slaves hurry to start on collecting the materials.
“Nn, it’s common in case of cheap slaves.” (Eva)
Eva’s expression looks as if saying that it’s very natural.
She’s calmly watching the slaves who are toiling on the collection.
Arriving belatedly, Rebecca nods at Eva’s comment while coming next to me together with Viine.
“Shuuya, it looks like you are pitying them, but it’s less objectionable as even the cheap slaves, who receive such treatment, have a chance to survive, don’t you think?” (Rebecca)
“… Really?” (Shuuya)
I consider it once more after hearing Rebecca’s words.
This world doesn’t possess something like respect towards basic human rights, meaning it’s a world where the fittest survive.
However, is it somewhat better since any race’s slaves can become stronger and survive as long as they are capable?
I shift my look towards Viine who I bought just a while ago and stare at her beautiful face.
“… Yes, it’s rare for an owner to go out in front to fight instead of the slave like you, master.” (Viine)
She has a quick-witted thought process.
Analysing the meaning of me staring at her, Viine apparently guessed it and and answers while bowing slightly.
Her tone is filled with a respectful servility.
It’s just out of courtesy, but I will follow up on her words.
“… It’s because you won’t be put to use and killed, right?” (Shuuya)
“Yes! It’s a welcome blessing.” (Viine)
Viine glances at me and bows her head once more.
Somehow her words resemble that of a warring states military commander.
“Your philanthropism of valuing your slave is nice, but shouldn’t we go ahead?” (Rebecca)
Rebecca stares ahead while tapping the palm of her hand with her gem-embedded wand.
“Aye. So which way are we going?” (Shuuya)
There are paths on the left and right side leading away from this open area.
“Nn, right.” (Eva)
Eva moves her wheelchair and heads towards the right pathway.
“The right side it is then.” (Shuuya)
We go on.
Right after entering the right pathway, there are moving magic sources responses.
There are wriggling trees at the front.
There’s five treants in total. 1 Oh well, either way’s fine. There’s five treants, that‘s all that matters.
They greet us by attacking right in the middle of the pathway.
These guys are different in their size and magic source quality compared to the tree race Torrent, the talking wood monster I encountered in the 【Great Forest of Demonic Haunts】, which eats demons.
The treants extend their branch-like, wooden tentacles.
I easily handle those with my Magic Halberd, but branch tentacles stretch out toward me in succession.
Rollo fights back as well.
Keeping her stance low, she moves as if crawling alongside the ground.
Acting as vanguard while advancing, she knocks down the branch tentacles unleashed by the treants with her six tentacles.
Eva releases violet mana from her entire body right behind Rollo.
Rotating the wheelchair that was wrapped up by the violet mana, countless blades fly into the sky from the wheels located on both sides. While the blades, which were deployed in a fan shape, transform into disks, they lop off the crowd of branch tentacles heading our way as if cleaving them apart.
In the end all the branch tentacles approaching from the front had been cut off.
That violet mana and the fan shaped blades that possess consciousness as they fly in mid air, huh?
I head out towards the left front while spontaneously muttering,
“Good going— they resemble funne○.” (Shuuya) 2
While muttering my impression about the ranged weapons released by Eva’s wheelchair, I stab my Magic Halberd towards the trunk of a treant on the left.
I unleash a chain of stabs with the red spear, creating many smoldering holes in the tree’s trunk.
The treant collapses after raising short scream of death agony.
That’s the first one.
“Master—, those funne○, what are they?” (Viine)
At once Viine jumps while attacking a treant with her two swords, and asks about that as she delivers flowing slashes at the treant that is swinging its branches left and right.
Shit, if I say something like that, it will trigger such reaction.
Even if I explain something like a New Type weapon to her, it’s very unlikely for her to understand it.
“No— it’s nothing. — Don’t worry about it.” (Shuuya)
I answered while releasing the skill <Thrust> — and then, while taking one and then two steps towards the left, I head in the direction of an ocher treant.
“Nn, Shuuya, it’s different from that funn-or-whatever. They are objects manipulated by my skill.” (Eva)
I hear Eva’s denial from behind.
“Wait a moment, you guys, something like chatting while fighting… geeze, I can’t shoot my magic!” (Rebecca)
Certainly because Rollo, Viine and me have gone in front, Rebecca can’t chant her spell.
“Sorry, we will finish it up in a minute. Rollo, Viine, let’s kill the remaining treants.” (Shuuya)
The treants are wood monsters.
As if it’s natural, these guys are weak to fire just like the mushrooms, but they have a higher stamina than the mushrooms.
As result of that; once I mow them down and stab them with the Magic Halberd many times, the treants naturally end up catching fire from the cross-sections hollowed out by the red axe blade.
I mean, these guy’s raw materials seem to be impossible to carry around.
Rollo heads towards a different treant, and thrusts all her six tentacle bone swords at it. She drags the treant’s trunk as if pulling it out alongside its roots and makes it fall over.
Viine leaps on the trunk of that fallen treant while scraping its wooden surface and straddles it. She unleashes a chain of thrusts with a bright expression while maintaining her mounting position, and finishes it off in such manner.
She gives me the images of a scornfully-laughing hit-man.
She’s a bit scary.
Rebecca releases fire magic towards a treant located in the open area where we have gathered.
It’s engulfed by flames in an instant.
The fire spreads to the remaining treants, and even burns the surrounding trees that are a part of the labyrinth.
However, the fires of the trees enclosing the labyrinth immediately settle down and become smaller.
They end up extinguished in very little time.
What’s that about?
I touch a tree growing out of the labyrinth’s wall while considering it strange, but it doesn’t feel like it changed overly much.
Each and every single of them is a small tree, but after looking through the slight gaps, I can see that the wall is like a compilation of many thousand trees overlapping with each other in a grid pattern.
It’s a mysterious construction of the labyrinth.
Since light leaks through the holes that exist here and there in the wall, there must be a structure that illuminates from inside.
“Shuuya, what are you doing over there?” (Rebecca)
“Aah, it’s just because the trees growing out of this labyrinth endured the flames.” (Shuuya)
“That’s owed to them having a resistance to fire, right?” (Rebecca)
Rebecca looks at me with an expression that says “That’s only natural, no?”
“Well, nevermind, how about collecting the magic stones. All of them are medium-sized magic stones.” (Rebecca)
“You’re right, sorry. I will collect them right away.” (Shuuya)
“I will help.”
I receive Viine’s help and we finish collecting them swiftly.
Just as Rebecca said, all of the magic stones are medium-sized.
I thank her while simply bowing my head to Viine who passed me the last stone she picked up.
“Mmh? What’s up?” (Shuuya)
“No, it doesn’t matter.” (Viine)
Viine shows a slightly troubled expression.
“Nn, Shuuya, it’s because you gave your thanks to a slave.” (Eva)
“True. It’s the first time for me to see that happening, too. Thanking and lowering your head to a purchased slave, that is.” (Rebecca)
Eva and Rebecca point out.
But you know, I guess it’s an automatic reaction for me.
Well, I will be seen as oddball, but it can’t be helped. I guess, what will be will be.
“… Isn’t that fine? She’s my slave after all. Rather than that, let’s advance forward.” (Shuuya)
I say while acting a little tough.
Shouldering the Magic Halberd, I look ahead of the passage.
Viine comes to my side without saying anything.
“Fufu, you’re soft hearted, Shuuya. You even averted your face, didn’t ya?” (Rebecca)
I don’t turn around despite hearing Rebecca’s cheerful voice from behind.
Rollo comes next to me while releasing a throaty purr.
“So you won’t laugh at me or anything like that, Rollo?” (Shuuya)
Rollo tilts her head to the side and shows an expression as if saying “What are you talking about nya?”
Like that, she swings her long tail at me, separates from me and walks up to the front.
“It looks like Rollo-chan wants to hunt, doesn’t it?” (Rebecca)
Well, that might be right.
Rebecca looks at me with an triumphant expression.
At that moment I feel the responses of magic sources closing in on us.
The ones appearing are more than 5 sets of shelled-worms and treants. There are many of them.
“The number of enemies is high. I’m going to use magic!” (Rebecca)
“Master, I will also release wind magic.” (Viine)
Rebecca and Viine fall back a bit while preparing their spells.
“Rollo, come back!” (Shuuya)
Hearing my instruction, Rollo, who went ahead, seemingly decides right away to dash. She fills her paws with strength and returns next to me.
“Viine, Rebecca, you are good to go.” (Shuuya)
“Yes! Oh Wind Spirit Lord Ob Wind, devour my mana and make the wind hammer Ryuuku, the essential principle surpassing your existence as spirit of wind, appear—” (Viine)
Since I’m nearby, the words of Viine’s chant reach my ears.
The quality of her voice makes me experience a peacefulness.
『What magnificent chanting speed and mana manipulation. The gathering of spirits is quick as well. I can derive from the chant that it’s an intermediate spell.』 (Helme)
Precisely because she’s a spirit, Helme appears in my visionary field and gives me a quick explanation.
“Wind Hammer.” (Viine)
Viine holds her arms in front and recites the spell’s name. In that moment a lump of dry wind is created ahead of where she extended her arms.
Alongside a sudden gust, the wind mass plunges forward and clashes with the treants and shelled worms.
A treant has its trunk smashed apart alongside a weird scream of death agony and is blown away. The shelled worms also have their carapaces dent-in and crushed, as they scatter blackish blood.
Exactly as its name suggests, it’s a hammer made out of wind with a huge mass.
I won’t ask something dumb such as from where that mass originates.
Next Rebecca begins to chant.
“… Oh Fire Spirit Ilness, devour my mana and make a fireball that represents the power of your existence as spirit of fire appear—.” (Rebecca)
She has a nice voice, womanly and like that of a bell.
『Her calling of the fire spirits is faster than before. I can sense that she also raised her mana and the power of her magic source.』 (Helme)
Just like before, Helme gives me an explanation.
The fireball fired by Rebecca directly hits a treant.
A wave of flames spreads in a fan form.
The treant that was directly hit by the fireball explodes.
It instantly goes up in a blaze.
The fire also spreads to the treants, who appeared next to it, burning the majority of them.
As the damage propagates, the screams of death agony increase.
The aftermath of the fire also extended to the shelled worms in the vicinity.
However, the shelled worms apparently didn’t receive much damage after they curl up to cover their bodies with the carapace like dumplings.
Their damage is limited to a few of them having several of their legs burned off. The shelled worms transform into balls in an instant, start to rotate and come attacking.
They vigorously roll on the rugged surface of the floor.
I kick the surface of a tree with Magic Combat Steps and quickly leap to the front.
I pass Rollo, who puts herself on guard, and Rebecca as well as Viine, who fired their spells, and greet the approaching enemy with a kick while standing in the lead.
Seizing the dead centre of a hard-looking shelled worm with an instep of my feet scale armor— I kick it up.
Alongside the sound of metal being crushed, the shelled worm flies towards the wall on the other side.
If a goalkeeper had caught that, their gloves and clothes should have been torn off due to the impact, and they should have been blown away after becoming fully naked.
The armored boots I’m wearing aren’t plain armored boots after all.
They are hard foot scale armor, greaves made out of the Evil Dragon King.
I think their toughness is abnormal.
Though I have already thought about it before, I will selfishly assume that their Mohs’ hardness is at the level of tungsten.
Even as I’m in the middle of doing something like that, the other shelled worms have decided to aim for us (especially me).
While making smoke rise as they scrape along the ground, they come assailing one after the other while rotating.
Since there’s no need to play around with them, as expected, I mow them down from the right to the left with my Magic Halberd, raise it overhead and then swing it down, and defeat the shelled worms by crushing them with the red axe blade.
In the end I didn’t allow a single one to get past me.
The corpses of the smashed shelled worms are scattered in a fan form in front of me.
“As usual, an amazing mastery of spearmanship.” (Rebecca)
Since Rebecca has seen my spear handling several times already, she shows me a smile while saying that lightheartedly.
“— A kick making boom, and then buzz-buzz, I couldn’t follow the halberd’s rotation.” (Eva)
Just like the first time when she saw my battle, Eva imitates my kick and busily moving her hands, she shows the assumed movements of the spear in her own way.
Moreover, she speaks with excitement filling her voice.
“— Nn, nyao. *lick*.”
Rollo shrinks, climbs on my shoulder and licks my cheek.
She didn’t transmit her feelings with her tentacles, but it looks like she’s praising me.
When I arrive at Viine, she only stares at me dumbfoundedly with her mouth open.
It’s a face as if she has eaten a peashooter.
In the middle of it, she snaps out of it, and starts picking up the magic stones and corpses scattered about while her cheeks blush.
The passages of the labyrinth’s third floor are surrounded by trees starting from midway, and we advance through passages that can be called jungle caves.
We move forward through that area in a loose formation.
Basically it’s a triangle-like formation.
The vanguard is Rollo.
The middle guards are Viine, Eva and me.
And Rebecca is in the rear.
At times Rollo, Eva, Viine and me go to the front and take over being the vanguard in turns.
With us moving on while communicating a lot with each other, it has naturally developed into this irregular formation.
While maintaining that setup, a large number of medium-sized goblins appears in addition to the treants and shelled worms, but we head deeper into the labyrinth as we defeat all of those and collect their materials and magic stones.
I was able to obtain a huge amount of medium-sized magic stones, and easily exceeded my goal of one hundred.
The guild’s request requires two hundred stones.
After I store one hundred stones in my item box, we have only 50 more medium-sized magic stones left to gather.
“Very soon we will be at the rare monster room. It’s ahead around the corner of that L-shape.” (Eva)
Eva’s voice resounds when I was thinking about the magic stones.
She points a tonfa at the corner, where the passage’s bend.
I agree while looking at the L shape.
“So we already got here? It feels slightly fast. Being able to swiftly eradicate the monsters and nicely advance forward is the best.” (Rebecca)
Rebecca, who’s next to me, says while having an expression that makes her being deeply moved apparent.
“The extermination was fast? I’m capturing the labyrinth together with a party consisting of several people for the first time today, so I don’t know the standard, you know?” (Shuuya)
“Certainly, I think Rebecca is right there. However, I also never experienced long battles with a party of several people.” (Eva)
Eva shares Rebecca’s opinion.
Besides, it seems like she doesn’t have overly much experience in party combat.
“Before I was given a nasty nickname, I had a few party battles, but I believe that this time we are definitely fast.” (Rebecca)
Seeing Rebecca say that with confidence, I guess she might be right.
“How about you, Viine?” (Shuuya)
“… I went down to the fourth floor with a party of eight people. Just as Rebecca-sama and Eva-sama say, the killing speed in your party is definitely superior, master. It’s not worthy of comparison. … To be honest, it’s a chain of surprises for me.” (Viine)
Four people and a cat are better than a party of eight people, huh?
No wonder that she’s surprised.
“I see. Well, from now on we will associate with each other for a long time. So, please treat me favorably.” (Shuuya)
“Yes! Certainly!” (Viine)
We go around the acutely angled L-corner and proceed forward.
The forest passage with its big width continues.
“In the middle of this path, you will find the rare monster room on the right side. The adventurers should also be lining up in the vicinity.” (Eva)
Eva explains and moves her wheelchair forward.
“Got it. Let’s go. — And, even if we hunt in the rare monster room, there are still requests we have left to do. The collection of slime materials and the collection of Jigua. Make sure to not forget that, okay?” (Shuuya)
After saying that in order to confirm the requests with the cat and the two in the back, I advance forward chasing after Eva.
“Yeah, I know.” (Rebecca)
There are many magic source responses ahead of the dungeon passage that was covered by trees.
Going by the feel of those magic sources, these aren’t monsters.
It seems like the number of other adventurer parties is high after all.
Once we proceed through the passage, the left side being caved in becomes visible.
Or rather than caved in, it’s a branching passage.
Over there, huh?
When we proceed to the place where it’s caved in and turn to the left, a plaza-like terrain spreads out in front of us.
There’s a huge stone door with big black snakes carved in and a big stone gate that looks as if it’s clinging to the cave at the inner wall.
I immediately grasp that this place is special.
All the walls and the ceiling in the plaza area are not covered by trees.
It’s neither trees nor concrete.
The surface is made out of a material consisting of blackened tiles and snake inlays have been added all over the place.
The big stone door located inside stands out excessively because of the almost-grey-colored lanterns that are dangling in the air just like signs.
- Cut out a bit here. Original would be “There are five treant animals in total, no, in this case it’s no animals, but bodies, huh?” It’s basically an issue of how to categorize treants in the Japanese language that has separate counters for different things.
- Funnels – the things Gundams often have, the independently moving shooting devices