Chapter 47 – Guardian
“Now then, I wonder if things will go smoothly this time?”
After infusing Mana into the Staff, I attacked the Monster that yelled and rushed at me.
I blocked an Orc hammer that was swung down at me with Ouroboros. After a light impact, a large sound that didn’t correspond with the impact resounded. It sounded as if something was exploding, and the Orc’s hammer crumbled soon after.
As the grip of the hammer fell to the ground, I jumped at the Orc, which was staring dumbfoundedly at its numb hands.
I gripped Ouroboros, which was giving off a pale shine, and unleashed an attack, blowing the collapsed Orc away. It then rolled into the other Orcs.
“Hmm, it’s difficult to adjust it.”
Regarding the quality of the Magic Staff, I had decided to test it out. How much would the loss of converting Mana into techniques be reduced, how fast would I be able to deploy these techniques, and how much would it strengthen the user’s Spells?
In my case, I would be using it during close combat, so I had to take its length, weight, and durability into consideration as well.
As for Ouroboros, all of them were satisfactory. Although it was impossible to suddenly use my full power with it, for now, there weren’t any indications that the Staff would break.
This time, I brandished my staff and headed towards the remaining Orcs while making sufficient adjustments.
I engulfed them, cut them up, and sent them flying into the ceiling.
Even when I didn’t care about the technique, the Staff seemed to understand me, to some extent, and changed the quality and form of the Mana.
After I subjugated all of the Orcs attacking me, the Dragon on the Staff waved the tip of its tail, which was held in its mouth, around in a seemingly satisfied manner.
As a test, I stroked the area around its throat…and it closed its eyes, as though it was feeling good.
A Magic Creature similar to a Gargoyle was integrated into the Staff, huh? Such characteristics would clearly be shown if I were to experience real battles.
Dragon Staff Ouroboros was a Magic Staff that incorporated Mana Circulation.
The Magic Creature that was included with the Staff seemed to support Mana Circulation and amplify it.
“That new Staff is really incredible.”
“I have to adjust it accordingly, in a different sense from before.”
The surprised Ashley looked at the Staff as I answered her. Regardless of whether Ouroboros had a heart, it wore a proud expression. Rather than calling it a Dragon, I felt like it was more of a dog.
As expected, the problem was strengthening it too much? If I were to get its adjustments wrong, then maybe it would cause our loot to decrease?
The Dragon Staff was certainly able to endure my Mana, and it had been giving me results so far. Well, maybe I should say that the results were too good. Whether it was from Spells or strikes, if I got just a bit of the adjustments wrong, the parts of the Monsters that we could strip would disappear.
It was better to be too big than to be too small, and it would be a bit troublesome until I got used to handling it… Should I think of it as good training for Mana control?
(TN: The greater embraces the less = JP proverb: 大は小を兼ねる)
(ED: Modified proverb to “better to be too big than to be too small” based on something a proofer found: Proverb 25.)
“Is it fine if I take the front like this today? I want to get used to the Staff quickly.”
“Understood. Please leave the enemies that come from behind to me.”
Grace said. We proceeded into the Labyrinth with me in the lead, followed by Sheila and Ashley, and Grace covering the rear.
However, the area we were at right now was the 19th Floor. The Labyrinth’s difficulty would surely rise after reaching the 20th Floor, and there were quite a lot of Adventurer groups searching the floors around here.
The term ‘Volume Zone’ detailed the long and short term market interests for resources, and although Monsters, treasure chests, and harvests weren’t too great for that, it could be said that it was safe with the large number of people around here.
I could still hope to adjust the Staff, even if it was during an unfavorable situation when I was fighting with Monsters.
“There’s a group of five people around the corner.”
Sheila cautioned me to be careful. I held my Staff on the ground, acting as if I wasn’t excessively keeping my guard up, and then waited for the Adventurer’s group to arrive.
The Adventurers who appeared opened their eyes wide in astonishment.
“Hey. You are…the rumored Demon Killer? You’ve been working hard.”
“Yes. May you be blessed with good luck in battles.”
“Same goes for you guys.”
After the Adventurer group gave us vague and forced smiles, they vanished into the cave’s depths.
I would rarely meet Adventurer groups in cave areas by chance, and there wasn’t any trouble in particular. Rather than calling it trouble, it appeared that those guys were more nervous than us. It seemed that I had been completely exposed to the public.
If they became afraid of me, to an extent, and this allowed me avoid any trouble that arose, then it wasn’t an issue.
Now then. The Adventurer group from earlier walked up to the right-hand wall and placed their hands on it…so there was a high chance of finding the stairs if we walked along the wall on the opposite side.
As expected, or perhaps I should say shortly afterwards, we found the stairs. After descending to the 20th Floor, the area took the shape of a giant dome. This floor was completely made out of stone, and my impression of it was that it was similar to the heart of Boundary City.
“What is that building over there?”
“That is a small shrine. It seems…that the road splits there.”
At the opposite end of the dome, there were large pillars standing in rows, along with a man-made building that resembled a shrine. A section of its entrance seemed to be lit by a fire. Several groups of Adventurers could be seen walking around the small shrine with torches in their hands, wishing to enter.
The 20th Floor stone stele and gates that led to other areas were inside of the shrine.
In addition to that, even the diverging points in the road were fixed on this floor. In other words, after one chose their path, there wouldn’t be any stone stele to take them back to the first floor.
After we entered the shrine, we saw a few Adventurer groups gathered together. They looked serious, for some reason.
Even the receptionist, Heather, was amongst them.
Heather spotted me and approached in a hurried manner. There was a Red Dimension Stone in her hand.
“…What’s wrong? For you to be in such a place.”
“About that, it seems that a Guardian appeared beyond the diverging point.”
“It’s…on such a high floor?”
Heather nodded at me seriously.
Guardians. They were strong Monsters that had a chance of appearing anywhere after the diverging point on the 20th Floor of the Labyrinth. That didn’t mean that their appearance rate was high there…but one had to take the appearance of a Guardian into their calculations if one searched beyond the 20th Floor.
Out of all of the floors it could appear on, it was this one, and it probably wasn’t common for there to be Adventurer groups who had the means to oppose it. However, it was certain that every floor beyond the 20th Floor would become more diverse and increase in difficulty.
“There are Adventurer Groups who fled from the Guardian and came back here with the Red Dimension Stone…and after meeting with those guys to talk about it, they said that they saw other Adventurer groups in the same area. The people outside are recruiting Adventurers who have the ability to take part in the rescue. I was called out to watch over this place, and I expected Theodore-san’s group to appear, since you guys were close to the Caves.”
“In other words, this is a rescue request?”
“That’s right. The opponent is a Sword Boar located in the Twilight Forest. It’s not unreasonably strong, but I promise the rewards will be great, since you will be taking part in the subjugation and the rescue.”
The amount Heather presented to us for taking on this request was 1500 Kilig. The rewards for success would be calculated separately.
She said that it was in the Twilight Forest. One way or another, we had to subjugate it. Otherwise, we couldn’t proceed.
It seemed that other Adventurer Groups had not come here as reinforcements. Perhaps they were in the city or currently somewhere inside the Labyrinth? I didn’t know the reason, but surely we could bring more of them along if we could capture the Twilight Forest.
In other words, it appeared that we were the only ones who could oppose this Guardian. Unless the Adventurer groups who were left behind had the means to escape, they would probably be treated harshly when we formed subjugation units.
“That’s fine. I’ll go do it.”
I didn’t need to think too much about whether or not I would have accepted. I had come to the Labyrinth in order to train myself. However, the problem was:
“Concerning Grace’s group…”
“Please bring us along with you. I already understand that Theo is a lot stronger than me. However, I hate not being there when Theo fights.”
Grace said as she placed her hand on her own chest, as if it were natural.
As far as this was concerned, there was also Ashley and Sheila.
“I think it’s better to quickly treat those who are injured. It’s unavoidable if Theodore-sama says that it’s a hindrance.”
Ashley said as she looked directly at me. It seemed that she also wanted me to bring her along.
“I’ll go too. I’ll prevent any sneak attacks, and I won’t overlook anyone who needs rescue.”
Sheila said, without any hesitation.
There wasn’t any time to talk it over and persuade them. What they said certainly wasn’t wrong. If Ashley and Sheila were with me, there would be many areas other than fighting where they could help out. Ashley herself had thoughts of wanting to become stronger, and Sheila wanted to improve the Adventurer’s Guild’s impression of her. I wanted to consider their feelings too.
Our opponent would be the Guardian, Sword Boar. It was located in the Twilight Forest, huh?
It would be rather delicious if we could defeat it. However, having this Monster be a direct opponent for Ashley and Sheila would make them bear a lot of responsibility. I had also taken the Red Dimension Stones and Caduceus into consideration. Well then.
“…Understood. The most important thing is for me to be the vanguard to protect you guys. In exchange, Sheila will let everyone escape with the Red Dimension Stone if she is instructed to do so by me. There will also be cases where Sheila will feel that it is too dangerous, without waiting for my instructions…and if it’s the worst possible case, I want the two of you to flee with Ashley, without fail. I’ll bring you guys along if you can promise this.”
“It’s a promise, definitely.”
“Thank you very much, Theodore-sama!”
There wasn’t any worry of getting lost in the Twilight Forest, since the two of them would be protected by Caduceus.
“Understood. I’ll explain the important points of the Twilight Forest along the way.”
“Yes, please do.”
“Now then, Heather-san. We’ll be heading out, so please continue guiding everyone.”
“Please be careful!”
After looking at Heather, who had a serious expression, and the Adventurers who were here, we headed towards the gate to enter the Twilight Forest. Then I jumped inside of it without any hesitation.