「Do you guys know what kind of boss we’ll meet on the first floor?」
「It’s not completely certain. Mostly the Lord of the level will end up being a higher class of the same monsters spawned. There are times when different monsters become the Lord of the Level, but the most prevalent explanation for that is that a monster from an upper floor was selected to become the boss of a lower level, but there’s not much evidence of this.」
「So you mean there’s a high chance that we’ll fight a stronger version of the wolves, bats, or dolls we fought yesterday?」
「Yes. Though they are higher rank, they most likely won’t change very much. Overall their ability will be stronger, they will grow bigger, but as it is only the first floor there is a negligible chance of them developing any special powers.」
Then we’ll just have to do our best. Even if I can see their status, I can’t see their level or abilities so it’s difficult to judge their strength.
Even after fighting a lot I had no concrete proof that I’d grown stronger. I only felt that way through my own senses. Plus, as I had grown up in the peaceful country of Japan, my own senses and judgment may not be accurate so I couldn’t help but feel anxious.
Hotaru-san’s judgment was quite trustworthy since she had been through many battles. However, most of them had been on Earth against human opponents, so when battling monsters in a different world I could not say that her senses would be absolutely accurate.
「Soujirou-sama, the area around the Tower seems to be noisy.」
It felt as if my fears had been realized as an uneasy premonition emerged in my mind. For now we should collect information.
There were twice as many explorers here than there were yesterday so we simply called out to someone.
「Huh? I dunno, I just heard that exporin’ the first floor is banned today.」
What? The first floor was the most precious floor for beginners with the lowest danger, why would it be locked down?
As we stood bewildered a voice cried out my name, and I turned to see the man who had sold us our Party Rings yesterday. It appeared that Will had yet to leave Reitoku.
「Will-dono, what has happened? If you know, please tell us.」
As he approached Sistina spoke out to him.
He began his tale from last night.
Since the interior of the Tower didn’t get darker at night, people were free to explore at all times. In fact there were some groups that purposefully came at night to avoid the bustle of the daytime crowds.
Last night was no exception to this and plenty of people entered the Tower. However, on this particular night, almost every single group who entered the first floor cleared it and was able to reach the second floor.
Those who returned said that there weren’t many monsters on the first floor at all and so they had plenty of energy to challenge the first floor lord and reach the second.
Once people heard that they had the chance to earn the right to enter the second floor easily, they all rushed to enter the first floor one after another.
「It’s almost definitely our fault for sweeping the enemies on the first floor.」
「You’re saying that you hunted the monsters so fast that the Tower couldn’t spawn them quickly enough?」
「Well I wouldn’t say it was that far, but I do remember the number of monsters dropping near the end ja. As a result the path to the boss should have been much easier ja.」
The number of monsters we hunted along with the following explorers probably exhausted the stockpile of monsters on the first floor. So there would be almost no monsters around until you reached the main boss area.
「If it was just that then things are still fine, but the issue is what followed.」
Will continued and said that once the flood of explorers entered the first floor, they began to stop coming back.
Up until then everyone had only taken half an hour to an hour to clear the first floor before jumping down from the second floor window. Them suddenly not emerging was very strange.
A level 5 group entered the first floor to investigate, but they escaped while on the verge of death.
They cried out 『This is crazy! The boss this time is on the same level as one from the 10th floor!』.
「What!? A 10th floor class boss on the first level!?」
「What’s worse is that 2nd to 8th floor monsters are starting to mix in on the First Floor. Strong monsters are only spawning near the center for now, but at this rate it will become nearly impossible to save the groups who had entered the first floor to defeat the boss. Right now a request has been issued for groups able to fight above the 10th floor so they can defeat the boss and save the trapped groups.」
「Will-san, are there still groups that survived inside?」
「I don’t know. However, there are more than 10 parties that have yet to return.」
What is going on here? Did the Tower make a decision that new 1st floor monsters wouldn’t be enough? It summoned monsters from higher floors because the first floor boss kept getting defeated?
Is this even possible?
「I know! But….Hotaru-san!」
「A 10th floor level….it’d probably be tough with just us three ja.」
That’s absolutely right, we had only just started fighting on the first floor yesterday and suddenly we were challenged with a 10th floor boss monster? That was unbelievably reckless. If we were unable to preserve our own lives then how could we save anyone else? It didn’t matter even if this situation was caused by us in the first place.
「However, I believe that we can handle the other monsters besides the boss ja. If there are groups hiding around the circumference of the boss area then I believe we could save them ja.」
However, this 『we could』 was not conclusive. Asking us to suddenly fight 8th floor monsters like this was far too risky.
「No! It’s too dangerous. Rather than someone else, Sistina and Hotaru-san are far more precious to me!」
「Soujirou-sama…what about Hotaru-san do y-….」
「I agree with Soujirou in this case. There are none whose lives are more precious to me in this world than yours. It is times like these that we should abide by our Master Soujirou’s will.」
Sistina was crushed by Hotaru-san’s refusal to run to the explorers rescue. Her shoulders drooped before she turned to look at me.
「Well then Soujirou-sama. I’ll go by myself.」
「…I refuse as well. It was for times like this that you rewrote my contract terms. The sentence 『High Acolyte Sistina may use her powers to the fullest when performing acts according to her own sense of justice and responsibility』!」
What should I do? If I once again refused her will, then she would be unable to move against my wishes. But…if I used the contract to bind her like this the first time she truly wished to act for her own sake and not for mine then I would be acting against my own conscience…but even so…
「I already told you. You are far more precious to me than some unknown adventurers.」
I paused for a moment as Sistina sucked in a shaking breath seemingly about to cry.
「So I can’t let you go alone.」
「Hotaru-san…can you use your presence detection and killing intent detection to differentiate between explorers and monsters?」
「I can. I was able to lead us to locations with only monsters yesterday after all ja.」
「Very well, then as long as we can avoid combat as much as possible I will allow a rescue operation. Will-san, is it possible for us to enter the first floor of the Tower?」
「…eh…ye-yes! If it is an Acolyte-sama’s party then I believe they will allow you in.」
「I understand. Sorry to say, but we need permission to enter so call someone over for that please.」
「Okay! I’ll go as quick as I can.」
Will-san set off running towards the equipment checking station.
「Sistina you’d best prepare yourself as well.」
Sistina leapt on me and hugged me tightly.
「…thank you so much.」
「Don’t push yourself so much.」
I patted her back as her shoulders shook in my arms for a while before I saw Will return with a man in tow.
「Fujinomiya-sama, I’ve brought him and explained the circumstances.」
「Thank you very much Will-san」