3 days passed.
It seems like those 3 have stopped lying in wait for us. We haven’t seen them once since then.
They might have left the city already.
In these 3 days, we have explored around half of the 4th Floor.
Lizardmen, Sahagins, Mantises, Crabs.
The monsters weren’t dangerous to the point of feeling they were strong, but they weren’t easy to deal with like the 3rd Floor monsters either. This is most likely the floor that suits our level.
We haven’t encountered a Lamia or Scylla, but I don’t think we will be cornered into a despairing situation.
…Well, we have the cheat item that is the Barrier Stone, so it is also because our safety margin is a lot bigger than that of native explorers.
“At this pace, we will reach the Lamia nest by tomorrow. The Scylla is there too, right?” (Hikaru)
“Right. There’s apparently times when she is there and times when she is not.” (Rifreya)
“Even if the Scylla is in the nest, it would be impossible to fight them all at once. We should be able to manage somehow if we hook Lamias one by one and reduce their numbers like that though.” (Jeanne)
“Hook, you say… They are not fishes.” (Hikaru)
We opened up the handmade map and began our strategy meeting.
Even within the tough monsters of the 4th Floor, the Lamias and Scyllas are especially strong monsters.
Especially the Scylla. It is several times stronger, is big, and there’s quite a high risk in a small party like ours to face it.
Even so, we have decided to fight.
“If we defeat the Scylla, we get to Gold Rank, huh. We are still Ebony Rank though. Can you jump ranks?” (Hikaru)
“You can. It is impossible to subjugate a Scylla if you are half-baked after all. There’s also no means to cheat.” (Rifreya)
“So there really are people who try to cheat the system?” (Hikaru)
“There apparently are until the Silver Rank. The guild isn’t supervising that part too strictly it seems.” (Rifreya)
By cheating, it refers to selling Spirit Stones only to raise your contribution despite not actually contributing as an explorer.
The reality is that you can buy Spirit Stones from other explorers for higher than market price as long as you have the coin. If you do that, you can increase your contribution in the guild.
The guild can’t moderate this. If they make the exchange in the dungeon, it is difficult to find the perpetrator after all.
“That’s why the ones in Gold and higher are special. In order to become Gnome Rank, you have to apply for the subjugation of a Scylla, and a guild staff member will follow you partway, and will be evaluating the party.” (Rifreya)
“There’s even something like that? I thought the guild didn’t do jobs like that.” (Hikaru)
“The guild almost never does…jobs where they have to enter the dungeon. It is technically just to make the Gold Rank assessment.” (Rifreya)
“I see. In that case, it would be only a few times or none every year.” (Hikaru)
Anyways, Gnome Rank… In order to obtain the gold rank tag, you have to subjugate the strongest monster of the 4th Floor, the Scylla.
By the way, the one higher than that is Undine Rank; the mithril rank tag.
In order to become that one, you have to reach the 6th Floor. The 6th Floor is a floor that hasn’t been cleared for several decades already. The monsters are apparently super strong.
At the time when the master of Rifreya was an explorer, reaching the 5th Floor was the condition to become mithril. It seems like the difficulty increases as time passes.
It might be natural that advancing through untrodden spaces makes you a ‘real explorer’, so being a high rank is just on par with the job.
“Master got to Salamandor Rank by defeating the strongest monster in the 5th Floor, the Pit Fiend. Master’s party was apparently the first one of them all.” (Rifreya)
“It is not like that now?” (Hikaru)
“The information of a monster that has been defeated once will spread around after all. It makes defeating it a bit easier. In order to become Salamandor, you have to defeat the strongest monster of the current lowest floor. The Crimson Vials are challenging the 6th Floor, but the monsters deep in are crazy strong, and they apparently can’t defeat them yet. If they manage to defeat it, they will become Salamandors.” (Rifreya)
“A monster that even they can’t defeat, huh.” (Hikaru)
I have only seen how the Crimson Vials fight in the 3rd Floor for 1 day. Even when comparing them to Rifreya, they held strength on a whole other dimension.
Even a party like that can’t defeat the boss of the 6th Floor…
“But if they have reached the boss, haven’t they already found the stairs to the lower floor? They can just go check out the 7th Floor first.” (Jeanne)
“Jeanne-san, about that…that monster is apparently protecting the stairs to the lower floor.” (Rifreya)
“Hooh, sounds like a game.” (Jeanne)
Game, she says.
Well, I do get her. It does sound like the scenario of a game.
“There’s no need to bother about the lower floors right now. The problem is the Scylla. What do we do? Are we really going to defeat them?” (Hikaru)
“Of course, we will. Or more like, I want to quickly clear the 4th Floor and head to the 5th Floor.” (Jeanne)
“The 4th Floor is damp, cold, and dark after all… I also agree with Jeanne.” (Rifreya)
“Then, the next one will be the Scylla subjugation.” (Hikaru)
“A blood boiling adventure! I will massacre them!” (Jeanne)
“Jeanne-san is pretty dangerous, isn’t she?” (Hikaru)
She even made the party name Battle Junkies after all.
It is clear that Jeanne is enjoying battles, and I think we are pretty active even when compared to other parties. Because of that, our Tiers are increasing and we are getting stronger…apparently, but I can’t really tell well.
I am fighting normally even in the 4th Floor, so I do think I am stronger than before though.
We are currently having this talk at the living room with a map spread on the table. Today is a day off.
Our schedule is diving into the dungeon for several consecutive days, and resting for 1 day.
That’s why the Scylla subjugation will be from tomorrow on.
From here on, it is free time.
“Then, I will go check the state of Worigami-san for a bit.” (Hikaru)
“I will do the cooking today, okay? You are always the one cooking for us after all, Hikaru.” (Rifreya)
“Then, I will go take a bath.” (Jeanne)
And so, I left the house.
I showed up at the guild and registered to enter the dungeon. I won’t be stopped at the entrance even if I don’t do this, but it is customary. If you properly register here when you go missing, it will be judged that you died inside the dungeon.
I enter the 1st Floor and search for Worigami-san.
“Oh, there he is. He is fighting an armed one now, huh… Will he be okay?” (Hikaru)
The danger level between an armed Skeleton and an unarmed one is totally different. Worigami-san was holding the iron rod firmly in his hands. He avoided the attack of the skeleton and immediately moved on the offensive. It is not a fighting style that aims for the weak spot, but one where he hits wherever he can hit.
Having its wrist hit, the Skeleton drops its weapon, and Worigami-san immediately attacks the head.
The cranium disconnects and it disappears just like that.
The skeleton changed into a small black Spirit Stone. Complete victory.
“Worigami-san, good work. Looks like even an armed one is no match for you!” (Hikaru)
“Ooh, Hikaru-kun! Man, I am finally getting the hang of this. I am still not used to the animal shaped ones though.” (Worigami)
Worigami-san waves his arm energetically while being modest.
By animal shaped ones, he is referring to the horse and dog skeletons. I have only fought them a few times myself, but it is true that they are difficult to defeat if you are not used to it.
By the way, the 1st Floor monsters are Skeletons, and the types of those Skeletons are: humanoid, humanoid (armed), dog, and horse. They are all weak, and they are perfect training partners for Bronze Rank explorers and their clubs.
“Then, still haven’t fought a soldier?” (Hikaru)
“I would get killed! I have to get a whole ton of insurance first before I go to the next step. Staying power is what’s at after all!” (Worigami)
Advancing a bit further, Skeleton Soldiers with swords and armor show up.
There’s also rare chances of a ghost monster coming out called Wight, but it is a weakling that has no physical attacks and only uses Dark Mist.
Jeanne defeated countless Bone Knights before, and those Bone Knights apparently don’t show up unless you go to the castle deep inside, so he won’t be having an unsavory encounter.
“Ah, right. There’s people who want me to introduce you to them. Is that okay?” (Worigami)
Worigami-san said that with a bright smile, so I couldn’t understand what he was saying for a moment there.
“O~i, Mister Worigami, I have defeated the ones over here.”
While I was troubled about how to answer, a different young male explorer showed up at the other side of the building a bit further away.
A blonde nobleman-like man, and a brown hair masked man.
The blonde man is most likely a bit on the older side. He is wearing expensive-looking clothes, and he is visibly a prideful man.
I can’t tell much about the masked man.
The 2 were looking here as if their eyes were nailed at me.
“The blonde handsome guy is Ferdinand-kun and the masked boy is Mister Phantom.” (Worigami)
“Mister Phantom…?” (Hikaru)
“He apparently took the Memory Loss when he transferred and has no memories. Phantom is apparently the new name he got when coming here.” (Worigami)
Memory Loss? He chose something like that when he transferred?
No, more importantly…
“Transfer, you say… In other words, those 2 are Chosen?” (Hikaru)
“That’s right. They are from the 2nd group. It seems like they have been watching me and you, Hikaru-kun.” (Worigami)
The 2 young men approach us.
I could feel cold sweat gushing out from my back.
It is different from the time when Jeanne and Rifreya were by my side.
I am currently alone.
Who are they? Why did they say they want Worigami-san to introduce me to them?
There’s not a single sign of bad intention from the side profile of Worigami-san.
Those Chosen aren’t really bad people…is probably what he means with that.
There’s no way I can tell who they are. They are active in the 1st Floor, so they probably haven’t gotten battle oriented Gifts, meaning that there isn’t much worry in them bringing harm directly…I think. Of course, there’s the chance that they are battle oriented but they are training in the 1st Floor just like Jeanne. There’s the chance they have brought guns…
The 2 approached us at the same pace and arrived in front of me.
I honestly wanted to run away, but I can’t do that in front of Worigami-san, so…I have no choice but to greet them at least.
The blonde man smiles.
“Nice to meet you. Kurose Hikaru-san, right? I am Ferdinand de Smet. I am from Belgia. I have been watching your streams the whole time. You’ve had it rough.” (Ferdinand)
“Eh, y-yeah…” (Hikaru)
He asked for a handshake and I was confused.
Watching my streams.
Being told that so clearly, I felt like my heart was grabbed.
My feet were not responding.
What kind of face am I making?
I am not in a mental state where I can do a normal exchange of words.
But I have to at least feign a normal face on the surface.
My eyes swam unconsciously, and I noticed that the masked man called Phantom was looking over here with burning eyes.
His mask is the type that covers his whole face, so I can’t tell what kind of expression he is making.
I don’t know why he is looking at me like that.
“This guy is Phantom. He lost his memories, you see. I have been taking care of him. Chosen should help each other out after all. Isn’t that right, Phantom?” (Ferdinand)
“Sorry, he is not a man of words.” (Ferdinand)
The amnesiac man apparently doesn’t talk. No, maybe he can’t talk?
Anyways, he is looking over here with unbelievable eyes, but if he has no memories, he shouldn’t know about me either. Maybe he was told something about me by this Ferdinand guy?
“Me and Phantom just came here, so we don’t know our way around. Allow us to do our greetings at a later time again…since it seems like you are not feeling well today.” (Ferdinand)
“…Well, you did your best yet something like that happened, so of course you would feel that way…” (Ferdinand)
Ferdinand furrowed his brows and made a pitying look as he added that.
Something like that…?
“Well then, we will be excusing ourselves here. Oi, Phantom, let’s go.” (Ferdinand)
The man called Ferdinand and the mysterious masked man said only that and left.
That expression at the end…
What is it? I have no idea what he said.
The stir in my heart spread, and even when those two left, my heart was drumming and I was feeling bad.
“It really does look like you are not feeling well. Are you okay?” (Worigami)
“Y-Yeah. I was just a bit surprised there… I am okay. I am okay…” (Hikaru)
“I see. Sorry for the sudden introduction.” (Worigami)
“Don’t worry…” (Hikaru)
I even made Worigami-san worry.
I myself didn’t understand, but it seems like I am more scared of the 2nd group than I thought.
They said they will be coming again, so I have to prepare my heart…
I would also like to confirm what he meant by ‘something like that’.
No…we decided not to get involved with them, so maybe I should push that stance?
In the end, I am still weak. I get bewildered immediately like this.
Even though we are going to be subjugating the Scylla tomorrow, I am not feeling well.