Translator: “Pink Tea” Editor: ”Ryunakama”
Knock knock, came from the door.
Who could it be at such an hour?
The current time is about 4 o’clock in the morning.
Since Manicia was going to make today’s breakfast, I woke up 3 hours earlier. Getting off the chair I head to the front door.
If it was some kind of emergency, they wouldn’t knock on the door like that.
Slightly cautions, I slowly open the door.
Outside stood a man in kimono.
The same ruffled hair that turned white after losing all pigmentation.
「Yo! Rude. It’s been a while. I was lonely since you didn’t come to visit me since then.」
The guardian of Avancier’s labyrinth stood there with an innocent smile, one hand raised in a greeting.
Everyone is still sleeping.
I’d like to let him inside, but though he appears human, he is actually a guardian.
If he suddenly transforms like he did before, it would be a huge mess.
That being the case, I cannot allow him near Manicia, so I decided to talk outside.
Unfortunately, it’s raining today, but it can’t be helped.
Closing the front door behind me, I look at him.
「What happened? Or rather, you can freely walk outside the labyrinth……」
「Yeah. But sunlight isn’t good for us. There is no way I’d go outside on a sunny day. And I also would prefer to avoid openly strolling through this town. After all, I have done in a number of adventures inside the labyrinth.」
「……Really? From what I heard there are no fatalities inside the labyrinth.」
It’s not like it matters to me.
In the end, they chose to challenge him on their own volition.
「It’s not like I killed anyone as well. I’m generally not that fond of killing. After all, the defeated might get stronger and come back for revenge. Isn’t that exciting?」
「……No, they would be coming for a kill, so it doesn’t excite me at all. Were it me, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.」
「Really? So it isn’t why you let me go?」
Involuntarily, I take a distance.
The guardian smiled.
「I’m just kidding. However, I’m very interested in you. I’m currently training, aiming to defeat your party the next time. Please come to play again. I will be stronger.」
「……If possible, I’d pass on that.」
I have no reason to fight him anymore.
The guardian dropped his shoulders dejectedly.
「That’s sad. ……Well, fine. There is another reason why I came today.」
「What is it?」
「The number of people coming to my labyrinth…… went down. Do you know anything about it?」
There are actually a ton of possible reasons.
A major factor in that was also brought up during the conference yesterday. The labyrinth has no appeal.
One cannot collect any materials there, and the monsters are nothing but fieldzauruses.
Moreover, I wasn’t aware of this before, but this guardian goes after adventurers. They might be able to get out with their lives, but they surely would have no desire to go back after that.
When I told that to the guardian, he opened his eyes wide, and then breathed a heavy sigh.
「……The labyrinth has no appeal. That, that’s not true. It has beautiful scenery overflowing with green.」
「It’s just trees.」
「Yes! Trees! Isn’t that enough? Try touching them, or rubbing your cheek on the bark, isn’t that calming?」
「It’s just that you are special.」
「It, it’s just an example! Using trees one can also practice iai![1. TL Note: a Japanese martial art that emphasizes being aware and capable of quickly drawing the sword and responding to a sudden attack.] It’s a labyrinth after all! Given a bit of time, they will revive! A natural training location!」
「That appeal is limited to you.」
「……Kuh, the adventurers those days are no good!」
……This guardian is quite… A unique man.
Then, he put a hand to his chin. After muttering something for a while, he looked at me.
「What did you mean saying that it’s impossible to gather ingredients there?」
「Plants and minerals. And also, bugs or mushrooms that could be used for medicine. Also, treasure chests. Which reminds me, there was no mention of them on the report as well.」
「Treasures, huh. One usually would recycle drops from adventurers for that. Making something from scratch…… Would take a bit too much effort. However, for other things, if I get an understanding of the material that will serve as the base, I should be able to reproduce it.」
「……You can do that?」
Involuntarily I lean to him, asking.
The guardian donned a smile.
「Yeah. That’s what a labyrinth is. ……And then, monsters… So I need monsters other than fieldzauruses? I guess it would be better to make something new.」
「New species? You can?」
「Well, there are various ways. I can do it if I have a magic stone from a monster and some materials. Having a magic stone from a human I can create an even better monster!」
「So it was you?」
I grabbed his hand without thinking.
「What are you doing all of a sudden? Can’t wait to see the result?」
「No. Earlier, a never seen before monster appeared near the town. Near the heart, it had a magic stone used for homunculi. ……A magic stone from a human, this is what it means, right?」
「……No, no idea what you are talking about. Sorry, but I came here just a short while ago, along with the labyrinth. So it was someone other than I.」
「……Then what was that monster?」
「Who knows. But, no matter which era, there would be people getting the same idea.」
The guardian nodded to himself.
No matter which era?
「Can I ask you something?」
「Hm? What do you want to know?」
「Are you a person from the past after all?」
The guardian has the knowledge and the skills from the past, which are considered to be lost.
The church considers the possibility of labyrinths being a necessary sacrifice to bring a person back from dead.
By preparing compensation in the form of a labyrinth, the people that died in the past can be brought back to life, though in an incomplete form.
「I said it earlier. I have no memories of that. But there is some stuff that I just happen to know. Though it does feel a bit lonely since I don’t know even my own name.」
「That’s why I want to enjoy my only delight, battles. And I want to ask for your help in that, Rude!」
I replied with a nod, as he smiled innocently.
……If the labyrinth can be improved, there is no reason for me to refuse.
After all, it also would lead to the development of the town.
「Got it, I will help.」
The guardian jumped to hug me.
Though he sounds and acts like a hothead, his skin is cold to touch.
「Ah, how annoying. Get off me.」
「Don’t say that. You hurt my feelings.」
When I pushed him away, the guardian dejectedly separated from me.
Good grief… He is more human-like than some humans. It throws me off.
「I’d like to ask, are all sentient guardians like that?」
「Hmm, I wonder. There are some that are just『Kill…… Humans……』.」
「……You can get in touch with them?」
「It’s possible, more or less.」
「It is……? How? Are you exchanging letters or something?」
「No. We have tools that allow for communication over a long distance. But, well, to establish a link, one first has to travel to that labyrinth and meet the guardian. Which isn’t really possible. But I know that labyrinths have such a feature. And it’s the same about other guardians, I just know.」
So labyrinths had such a feature?
Though it’s natural, there is a lot of what I didn’t know. It’s quite curious.
「Let’s get back to the main topic. I said that I will cooperate, but what exactly do I have to do?」
「Nothing too hard. Just do as you please. If you have a monster you want to be put into the labyrinth, then catching and bringing it here would be the easiest way. If you want a completely new species, then bring monsters that will be used for combination. And, raw materials, was it? Just bring me samples, I will reproduce them.」
「……So such a thing is possible for labyrinths?」
「Yeah. That much is easy. But all of it expends a peculiar magic power that labyrinths contain. And when it runs out, no such feats are possible anymore.」
「How much of that magic power is there?」
「It is being collected proportionally to the time humans stay inside the labyrinth. You humans, lose endurance by staying inside a labyrinth, right?」
It’s hardly noticeable, but with time it disappears little by little.
「That lost endurance turns into energy for monster creation.」
……I didn’t know about such conversion.
If one can prove it, that alone would earn them a place among the scientists.
Or rather…… Bringing this guardian to the proper place would bring great gains.
「Hm, what’s wrong? Looking at me so intently, it’s embarrassing.」
「……No, it’s nothing.」
Well, he is basically like a friend to me at this point.
And he also doesn’t appear like a killer.
Quite contrary, he is about to become a great benefactor to this town.
I’d prefer to build a friendly relationship with him.
「In short, I should search for the stuff I want to be put inside the labyrinth?」
「Yes. Ah, but it’s not a dump, you know. Don’t just drag there anything you please.」
「I know. For materials, is bringing one piece enough?」
「No, if possible, bring a few. 4-5 would be great.」
「I see. For starters, I will bring what can be gathered in the vicinity. And, I also have plans to visit the city of adventurers in the near future.」
It probably will cost a bit, but it’s not like I have no savings.
It will be fine.
「Uwaa… Such a heavy rain……」
Nin came out of her room with a sleepy look and muttering this, went outside.
Scratching her unkempt chestnut-colored hair, she then looked at us, puzzled.
「Ooh, the healer girl. That was quite an extraordinary healing power that you showed last time. I’m glad that I could meet you again. Looking closely, you are quite a beauty. Though, sadly, your chest is missing.」
「AAah?! Eh…… THE GUARDIAN?!」
I wanted to part with him before everyone wakes up.
Scratching my head I gave her a quick explanation, but Nin hummed, having a deep wrinkle in between her brows.
「Rude, big chest or small chest, which do you like more?」She then asked a completely unrelated question.
There is no way I could bring myself to say that I prefer huge breasts.