We headed out to the Labyrinth the day after the Sasanqua members arrived. My role in the party was to scout. I would lead the way and keep an eye out for enemies as I walked through while reading the map displayed on my goggles. The others were checking the map the Guild staff had copied from mine to verify the accuracy.
“Schwarz’s map is amazing! This is the first time I’ve seen something like this! It doesn’t only show the shape, but also helps us grasp the distances!”
“Our cartographer should learn from him.”
Marinda and Ruu talked while reading the map. The current line up was 1-2-2-1 with me leading, Marinda and Ruu next, followed by Frau and Lali, and Mitche at the rear. I wasn’t sure if this line up was correct or normal, but it had been decided that I would take the lead. So the Sasanqua members naturally followed behind in their usual formation.
In order to accustom ourselves with fighting in the labyrinth, we fought with Marinda, Ruu, and Lali as the core until we reached the Spring of Purity. Marinda was a heavy combatant as well as the shield of the party. She used a short-handled double-edged ax and a large shield about 1m tall. The shield was a Scutum-styled shield, a large but slightly curved on the sides shield – popular during the Roman era. She used the shield to stop goblin attacks and knock them down, then finish them off with the ax.
Ruu’s sword definitely resembled a katana, but it wasn’t an actual katana. The guard was different and there was no hamon, but the sword’s shape was definitely like a Japanese katana, single-edged and narrow with a curve.
Ruu’s sword gave off a very strange feeling, as if the sword smith had intended to forge a katana but abandoned his work half way and consented with a katana-shaped sword. Regardless, Ruu’s swordsmanship was truly amazing. She seemed to favor killing opponents with one slash, cutting the goblin’s head with one sword stroke before giving a final stab to the heart; all of which flowed smoothly together.
As for Lali, she seemed to play the support role, providing support buffs to Marinda and Ruu. These buffs had a lot of effects from helping the target’s magic circulate more effectively, increasing physical strength, to forming magical barriers.
By the way, last night, we had a heated discussion about whether to include Lila’s title when talking or not. I had a habit of calling everyone I was acquainted with “-san”, and I had almost never called anyone by name only.
Basically, speaking courteously could be considered a part of my character, but Lali thought that I was calling her that way because she was a Lord’s daughter. She insisted that it was not necessary and that she was younger so there wasn’t a need to use any title.
In the end, we agreed with using “-san” to simplify things.
“The Spring of Purity is just past this small room.”
“We finally arrived, nya-“
We passed the room and entered the Spring. According to the Guild party, there would be necessities inside to set up a camp like tools, materials and food.
Ruu muttered. And she was right. The Spring was being used as a temporary base for both Rafflesia and our parties. The division was clear; Rafflesia took up half the space and the other half was for us. However, on our half, the spring swelled up and formed a small pond that took up about 1/4 of our intended space. A member from the Guild party was staying in the Spring as a caretaker, and he rushed over to us and started to explain. He talked a lot but the long story short was:
Rafflesia had disregarded the division decided by headquarters and forcibly divided the place on site themselves.
“They’re even more high-handed than expected.”
“Rafflesia is the oldest clan in the country, famous for being established by the Kurtmelga Royal Family. Even now, they’re still reigning on top of the other clans.”
Frau mentioned while bringing her bags over to our side. The schedule was to take a short break then start exploring.
“Just resting well is enough! Let’s rest and get ready for the exploration in the afternoon!”
“That’s right. The sooner we conquer this labyrinth the better. There’s tea, do you want some, Schwarz?”
Lali fetched water from the spring, moving like a small animal. The other members also seemed to have gotten over the division issue and began setting up camp. I wanted to unpack too, but…
I should just give up. The conditions I gave Remi couldn’t be kept after all…
The 3 conditions I had asked for when I took the job this time were: to not credit me as the cartographer; to set up a small research party only and to not disclose my mapping method and other skills. These 3 conditions were proposed so I could avoid being restricted in my activities later on, but how had things been in reality?
In the guise of idle chit-chat, I myself did tell the Sasanqua members about my abilities. Of course, I asked them not to tell anyone else. But the fact I was the Cartographer had already been known, not only to the Guild staff in camp but also to the top clan of this country. Joining the assault party was a good thing, but it would result in attracting too much attention.
“Schwarz, you didn’t bring anything to set up camp, nya?”
Mitche, noticing that I had not taken off my meager equipment, asked.
“I did, but nothing for a proper camp, only some blankets and food. I’ll take them out when it’s time to sleep.”
After that, we drank the tea that Lali made and entrusted our equipment to the caretaker. We then resumed our exploration into the depth of the Spring. The planned exploration time was 3 hours including the return time. So we would walk for about 1.5 hours, then return to the camp. From this point on, all 6 of us would take part in battles. The map displayed on my goggles showed that the road ahead was no different from what we had walked so far – still full of corners and dead ends.
“At the crossing ahead, the left is a dead end with 3 goblins. The right is the correct route with 2 goblins.”
Hearing the amplified sounds in my ear pads and the light points on the map, I could more or less grasp all the enemy movements. Up until now, I hadn’t encountered any enemies that were not displayed on the map or picked up by my earpads. I didn’t think all enemies would be like this, but they surely had been easy to spot.
“Marinda, Schwarz – take care of the right. The rest, take the left.”
The arrangement was that I would report my scouting and Frau would give orders as the leader. Even though Frau was B-ranked while Miranda and Ruu were A-ranked, she held more seniority in Sasanqua. So, it was natural she’d be the leader.
I switched the P90 to full-auto and resumed walking while aiming down the sight. Marinda walked beside me, shield at the ready. We turned right at the T-shaped crossroad, continued a little and saw our goblins. They were goblin fighters, not normal ones. Goblin fighters were twice the size of normal goblins and carried big clubs. I remained in place while gliding the crosshairs to trace them and fired two consecutive rapid two-shots.
Marinda stiffened when I started my ranged attacks. Seeing the goblins falling down, she raised her shield in caution. In the end, the two goblin fighters dropped dead before they managed to do anything. With the right path cleared, I looked behind me and saw the other three goblins were also taken down. They also appeared to be goblin fighters.
“Schwarz, you’re amazing!”
Patting my shoulders heartily, Miranda praised. It hurt a little…
“Having Schwarz is fun, nya.” Mitche also said while collecting mana stones and bringing them over to Lali. She was in charge of safekeeping of the stones we got. When she received the mana stones of the two goblins I had killed, she said to me cheerfully with sparkling eyes: “You’ve worked hard!” This kid is so cute.
Thereafter, we continued on while avoiding dead ends. We went through a series of small rooms and large rooms, killing goblins along the way. In the depths of the Spring, there seemed to be almost no normal goblins. There were mainly just groups of Fighter Goblins along with others like Mages or Assassins in the mix.
I saw 10 light points moving around in some dead ends on the map. They were probably the Rafflesia party. Seemed like they met a dead end on the way back to camp. I didn’t want to meet them so I said nothing and led everyone down the right path, going deeper into the labyrinth.
“There’s a small room ahead with perhaps 3 goblins inside… I don’t remember hearing this kind of sound before. The footsteps are heavier than the fighter goblins.”
“Probably. Hobgoblins are a little bigger than fighter goblins in size, but in strength, they’re not just a little stronger. We’re counting on you, Miranda.”
“Leave it to me! I’ll crush them properly!”
We moved closer to the small room. Even from the entrance, their shapes were unmistakable. Fighter goblins have the same green skin as normal goblins, but the ones we saw had reddish-brown skin. They were a head taller than the fighters and carried double-edged swords rather than clubs.
“They have bio-armors*! Schwarz, take the left! Miranda to the center! Mitche and Ruu to the right! Lali, support them!”
We moved with Frau’s instructions. I tracked the left hobgoblin with my crosshair and shot at his head. The hobgoblin managed to dodge two of my shots by tilting his head, but the third shot was impossible to dodge. The bullet went into his right eye, bursting it. With one eye lost, and blinded by rage, the hobgoblin let out a roar – charging at me. I fired 2 rapid shots, both went into his chest. The hobgoblin jerked backward with each shot, stumbled a bit then fell down, face up.
The light point on my goggles went out, and I didn’t hear the hobgoblin breathing. After confirming that he was dead, I glided my crosshair onto the other goblins that the team was fighting. But their battles were also coming to an end. Marinda cut her hobgoblin in half at the waist. Frau and Lali’s fireballs struck the last hobgoblin as Ruu killed it with a two-handed slash.
I changed magazines out of my firearm while thinking that even though the 5.7×28 rounds were not as effective as with the usual goblins, they were still good enough for these hobgoblins. Seemed like it would soon be time to use the SCAR. Everyone returned to their normal positions and we continued on our way.