The next day I dove alone, we met in the morning, and we are going to be exploring the dungeon again.
“Rifreya, what do you think about the 4th Floor? Do you think we could manage?” (Hikaru)
I try asking on the way.
I somehow managed when it was in the vicinity of the 4th Floor’s entrance.
We have been able to hunt in the 3rd Floor with almost no problems.
“Eh, the 4th Floor? It is not like we can’t, but…is there that much of a need to hurry? You did say you had your circumstances, and it is true that your Spirit Abilities are strong, but getting too ahead of yourselves in the dungeon can cost you your life, you know?” (Rifreya)
“I haven’t gone to the 4th Floor either, so I wouldn’t be of much use-nyan.” (Grapefull)
The 2 were apprehensive about the idea of going to the 4th Floor, but that can’t be helped.
Me wanting to go to even lower floors is because of my own circumstances.
Thinking that the viewers wouldn’t want to see the same hunting the whole time, I wanted to bring them fresh content…
Of course, I understand that this is dangerous.
But at this rate, there’s no way I can become 1st place in the Total Ranking.
I also have to put in the work in order to make up for the late start in the first half.
6 days remaining. More than half is gone.
I am currently in 4th place.
Thinking about the fact that I was originally distancing myself from my viewers, you could say I am putting up a good fight here, but it would be better for me to think that I need something more powerful in order to take 1st place which is my objective.
If I am too optimistic and it ends up as ‘too bad, you got 2nd place’ there would be no point. I want some wiggle room by reaching 1st place in 3 days.
“Well, if you want to go to the 4th Floor, I will tag along though.” (Rifreya)
“Me too. If you are going to bring me to the 4th Floor, I would welcome it greatly-nya… I don’t think I will be able to help out much, but if I get a feel of the terrain, I will be able to act as a scout there-nya.” (Grapefull)
So the two went for the conservative okay. But it is true that going down to the 4th Floor is dangerous.
We won’t be hit by Slimes with my Dark Sense, but there’s no doubt Crabs and Lizardmen are powerful foes. If we go deeper, we would need to fight even more dangerous foes.
If only we had one more strong warrior like Rifreya with us, we would be able to fight with a pretty safe margin, but it really would be reckless to do so with this group, huh.
The battle power will be higher than me going down alone, but in terms of risks, there’s different dangers.
And the dangers are not only on the level of ‘I got wounded’. There’s the chance we have to pay with losing them for eternity.
It would be one thing if I were to take the risk by myself, but there’s no way I can push these members along my ride.
“…No, you are right. Let’s leave the 4th Floor for some other time. It is not like we have finished exploring the 3rd Floor after all.” (Hikaru)
We haven’t met the Garden Panther either.
I want 1st place, but I can’t go betting the lives of these two, too.
…No, we are already putting our lives on the line in the 3rd Floor.
It is simply that the exploration is going well, so that feeling isn’t that pronounced. One mistake can still wipe us out.
The reality is that I should get better at fighting too. Even if training doesn’t increase viewers much.
“Then, we will be going to the 3rd Floor today too. You will be training your Spirit Ability while at it.” (Hikaru)
“Hm? What’s the matter? I said just now that we wouldn’t be going to the 4th Floor though?” (Hikaru)
Was she not listening?
“Aah, no, uhm…I was just thinking about not training my Spirit Abilities for a while~…” (Rifreya)
Rifreya says while scratching her cheek.
It has only been a few days since she started training.
“…Is there a reason why?” (Hikaru)
“It is not like that. That’s, uhm…right! I am simply tired! Using abilities over and over is taxing! That’s why I am fine with not training, so let’s concentrate on exploring! Okay?!” (Rifreya)
Saying this, Rifreya pulls my arm persistently.
What a bad lie.
The day before, she said that she would be going to the Great Spirit in order to check if she had new abilities. She said she would be checking if her Tier had increased too.
In that case, it probably didn’t work at all.
Even so, she must have thought I would be hurt if she were to tell it straight to me…that’s probably what’s happening here.
However, it has only been a few days. The effects should be showing up from here on…is what I think, but the person herself is going as far as lying in order to stop it, so there’s no need to force her to.
It is not like I don’t feel as if my proposal was a pain for her, but it can’t be helped.
“Then, no Spirit Ability training. I would like to fight a Garden Panther at least once already. It would be nice if Shadow Bind works on it.” (Hikaru)
“It is not a monster with that much physical strength, so I think it would work. It can even immobilize a Troll after all.” (Rifreya)
“Is that so?” (Hikaru)
While we were having that talk, we arrived at the Straying Big Mist Garden.
This floor has a fountain with drinkable water, and there are explorers who rest there. It is a floor that has a more relaxed atmosphere than the 2nd Floor.
This place is rough for beginners, but it is true that this is quite a lot easier than the 4th Floor.
This difference in difficulties must be what sets it apart from a game.
The 1st Floor has mostly Skeletons walking separately so it is easy, but the 2nd and 3rd Floor are plain hard.
And then the 4th Floor suddenly comes for your throat. That’s the kind of balancing there is here.
The 2nd Floor is especially dark, so it isn’t suitable for exploration, so it ends up with the mid experienced explorers aiming for the 3rd Floor.
With things like that…things like this can happen.
“Ooh, isn’t that Rifreya-chan?! I heard your party disbanded recently, but you were diving into the dungeon, huh!”
“Yeah, I have obtained a new party member after all.” (Rifreya)
The one who came to talk to us all familiarly was the scary-looking explorer that spoke to us at the guild before. Looks like they are exploring the 3rd Floor with a party of 6.
I don’t know what their rank is, but they have proper gear, and it is a party that gives me the impression of being a cautious party. The scary-looking man wields a battle axe, and looks like a lumberjack that would welcome a fight with a Treant.
I honestly thought this was troublesome, but even if I were to use Darkness Fog to hide here, it would just stand out.
“Wait, oi! Isn’t that your little brother there?! Bringing him to the 3rd Floor is reckless! Are you using him as a porter?!”
So I really did get dragged into it too.
But this is an opportunity. The viewers have stopped increasing, so troubles like this are welcomed seasoning. It doesn’t really threaten my life, so I wouldn’t mind getting hit once or something…
I was computing that, but Rifreya did something unexpected.
With lightning speed, she took out her greatsword, and placed it right on the throat of the scary-looking explorer.
“Uo! Oi, Rifreya-chan, what joke is this?”
“I will not forgive any further insults. I warned you before, right?” (Rifreya)
“Insults, you say? He is your little brother, right? Also, he is still only bronze rank. The 3rd Floor is still too soon for him. Is there anything wrong with what I said?”
“He is not my little brother. Also, we have defeated all monsters in the 3rd Floor aside from the Garden Panther.” (Rifreya)
“That’s thanks to your strength, Rifreya-chan.”
“No, that was mostly him—” (Rifreya)
“Wait, stop stop. Rifreya, lower your weapon.” (Hikaru)
Rifreya was objecting to the scary-looking explorer with a blank expression, but no matter how you look at it, she isn’t calm here.
Maybe she is an unexpectedly short-tempered person?
She didn’t look like that type in the time I was hanging out with her though.
- Chapter 078: Garden Panther and Inside the Mist
“I am sorry for my party member. Come on, Rifreya, you apologize too.” (Hikaru)
“Don’t wanna. Insulting Hikaru… I can’t forgive that.” (Rifreya)
“He wasn’t insulting me or anything.” (Hikaru)
If we were to talk down every single one that came to mess with us, there would be no end to it. More so when she is even using her sword for it. What an unbelievable mad dog.
The world of explorers is technically the yakuza world. They may have a view of it being the end if you get looked down on, so Rifreya might have acted upon those sets of values though…
“Rifreya, I don’t mind you getting pissed when you yourself get mocked, but please don’t do that on my behalf. I don’t think much about it, and I have said this before, but being bronze and being an explorer beginner is true.” (Hikaru)
“If you say so, Hikaru, that’s fine then.” (Rifreya)
“What, you guys were going out?!”
The scary-looking explorer made a shocked expression.
Even his party members began to gather after seeing our exchange.
“E-Eeh~? So it really looks like that, huh? It does, huh?” (Rifreya)
“With how touchy you are with each other, of course it would look that way… But that Rifreya-chan that was rumored to have no interest in men…to think her type was flimsy guys like this.”
“That’s a misunderstanding. It is nothing like that. I am simply having Rifreya-san help me out in exploring for a limited time.” (Hikaru)
“Misunderstanding, you say… Hikaru, you are pretty terrible.” (Rifreya)
Rifreya wraps her arms around mine.
Well, she did say she liked me, and even if it was in the heat of the moment, those feelings of hers must be real.
I am using her while fully aware of this…
“But Rifreya-chan, I understand you wanting to explore together with your boyfriend, but isn’t the 3rd Floor too dangerous for that? One mistake and you can die, you know?”
Looks like he still can’t get away from the idea that Rifreya brought me here.
Well, I don’t mind him keeping that misunderstanding, but it is slowly turning into a pain.
“As I said, I am the one who asked her to bring me here. Of course, I am fully aware that this is life threatening.” (Hikaru)
“Even if that’s the case, the silver ranks have to be an example for the ones below. You may have your circumstances, but bringing a bronze rank to the 3rd Floor shouldn’t be done.”
I was surprised by what a reasonable thing the scary-looking guy was saying despite being that scary-looking.
It is true that you would want to say a word or two about a beginner brat like me sticking to the back of a princess.
“Geez, this is a pain. How about showing him a bit, Hikaru? To this blockhead.” (Rifreya)
“Huh? What do you mean by that?”
“That he is far stronger than me. If he is baggage, then there’s no way I would be able to come to the 3rd Floor alone.” (Rifreya)
“You are joking, right? Only a few handful of explorers can climb up to silver rank. You achieved that in just 1 year, Rifreya-chan, so saying this brat is stronger than you? That’s one ill sense of humour you got there.”
While I was listening to that exchange of theirs, something else bothered me.
We are in the 3rd Floor. It is not like we are in a safe haven or anything.
Even though they are speaking in a loud voice at a place like this, no monsters are approaching us.
It is not like the dungeon is crowded with monsters, but there’s enough monsters that you get into a battle every 1 minute of walking.
More so when there’s 2 parties here.
—It is coming.
The Spirits were making noise.
I could certainly hear faint voices that were warning me.
“Rifreya! Something’s strange. Be careful of your surroundings. Full, come to my side! Quick!” (Hikaru)
Just like the name of Straying Big Mist Garden states, the whole floor is covered in deep mist, and you can only see 100 meters ahead of you.
One mistake and you could end up allowing a monster to approach you really close.
And the mist is denser than usual today.
The distance of our vision is lower than usual… No, can’t even call it half of it…
I hide Grapefull at my back, and try to get as close to the wall as possible.
“Oi! You all as well, don’t lower your guards! Something is coming!” (Hikaru)
“Huh?! What is a newbie brat saying all of a sudden?! We are veterans here, you know?! There’s only Ghouls showing up this close to the entrance!”
… It would be nice if that’s the case.
“…Hikaru? What’s the matter? Just like he said, there shouldn’t be any strong monsters showing up around here.” (Rifreya)
“The Spirits are raising a ruckus. It might be better to return to the 2nd Floor.” (Hikaru)
“…Hm? Wait-nya, wait-nyan. I hear footsteps-nya.” (Grapefull)
Grapefull’s ears twitched and she muttered this.
And then, her eyes opened wide.
“Garden Panther! It has come really close-nyan!” (Grapefull)
The next instant Grapefull shouted this…
A giant snow white something suddenly jumped out from the white mist, and it bit onto one of the members of the scary-looking explorer party.
“You idiots! Rifreya, let’s go!” (Hikaru)
The Garden Panther is a giant feline wild beast, and it is bigger than the lion or tiger I saw at the zoo. It is most likely 4 meters in overall length.
The color is pure white, and it is expelling faint white steam from its back.
It must be hiding itself with that steam.
Contrary to its beautiful appearance, its face is fierce, and it has a mouth packed with fangs that could swallow a person whole.
The scary-looking explorer’s party member that got hit by the surprise attack still had the upper half of their body into its jaws, and was taken away in an instant. I can’t even begin to infer where the Garden Panther is after it has disappeared into the mist.
“[Dark Sense]! Over there!” (Hikaru)
Fortunately, Dark Sense still worked inside this mist.
The Garden Panther had already moved close to the outside of the effective range of the Dark Sense, but it was scraping it. Judging from the effective range of Dark Sense and the actual denseness of the mist, there’s only around 40 meters of vision in today’s 3rd Floor. Is this the mist that the Garden Panther made, or was today just coincidentally dense? I don’t know, but if we let it get away, we won’t be able to find it.
Unfortunately, the explorer that got bitten first has perished with that one attack, but I don’t plan on letting go of a monster that showed itself once.
I ran together with Rifreya.
It seems the Garden Panther has also noticed us. I can tell that it is lowering its posture in order to gather strength to jump.
“[Phantom Warrior]!” (Hikaru)
“[Summon: Night Bug]!” (Hikaru)
The Phantom Warrior noisily hits its shield with its sword as it approaches the Garden Panther.
The Night Bugs rush at it while making noise with their wings.
The panther increases its caution after the sudden increase in enemies.
After confirming that its attention was diverted from me, I hide in the darkness and approach it from a different direction.
That’s right, no matter how strong the enemy, what I do won’t change.
“Let’s do this, Rifreya!” (Hikaru)