I had breakfast at the inn’s dining hall the next morning. Today’s plan was to stay in the Wolf Fang Labyrinth for one night and start the conquest. I had asked Mirna-san to prepare a bento yesterday and at first, I hadn’t been able to properly convey to her what a bento was, so I felt troubled. But once I had explained clearly that I needed one serving of cooked food packed into a box so I could eat it inside the Labyrinth, she had finally understood. She had prepared 4 servings of bread and side dishes for me right away.
Adventurers usually used a magical utility bag that could carry more than its size and slow time down on the inside. However, the concept of time did not exist for my gift box. Whatever was put inside would stay in the same condition when taken back out. This I had confirmed. The 100 portions of food I was to receive in the Royal Capital could also be stored without ever spoiling.
I had also told Malta-san about the bento. Rather than carrying around portable food like jerky and bread, adventurers in this world normally stored ingredients in their utility bags to cook some simple meals on site. Carrying pre-cooked foods like I had requested was not a common practice, and Malta-san had listened to me with bright eyes and obvious interest.
The problem with the food I ordered was their containers. This world didn’t have the technology to produce things like aluminum lunch boxes, and neither could I explain it. Plastic containers also didn’t exist of course. After I discussed it with Malta-san, we had chosen the containers made from plants, similar to bamboo baskets. I asked for lids to be made with them, and for food that didn’t leak. I would like to bring soup eventually, but there was not enough time to prepare the materials or make boxes with partitions.
Malta-san’s face when listening to my explanation and the example of lunch boxes had been so sharp that it was kind of scary. But if they immediately started gathering food in the Royal Capital, storing the 100 portions of food wouldn’t be a problem, so it came down to the carrying method. That said, the 4 servings of food I received today were stored in a bamboo basket I bought to test. It didn’t have a lid so I had to cover it with a cloth. Once I put it inside the gift box, there shouldn’t be a problem though.
I was enjoying some tea leisurely in the dining hall while waiting for my bento when Ashley-san appeared at the inn’s entrance.
“Schwarz-san, welcome back.”
“Ashley-san, long time no see. I’m back, somehow.”
“Hahaha, I heard you were quite busy.”
“No no, all thanks to my guards, the Sasanqua members.”
I urged Ashley-san to sit down and until my bento was ready, we entertained ourselves by talking about the Emerald Demon Labyrinth and the camp. While I had been in the Labyrinth, Ashley-san had gone north of Barga on Guild Investigator business. We talked about a lot of things, but when Remi-san’s invitation to join the Guild came up, her eyes turned sharp.
“Remi-senpai said ‘Guild’, and not ‘General Guild’?”
“Yes. If I’m not mistaken, she did say ‘Guild’. Is something wrong?”
“… If she said ‘General Guild’, that means she invited you to join the General Guild as staff. But if she used ‘Guild’, she probably invited you to some division of the General Guild. The one she is involved in, to be specific…”
Ashley-san held her tongue then. It was probably some kind of division that couldn’t simply be put into words.
“Thank you. I will confirm things properly before deciding to accept the invitation or not.”
I wasn’t sure if I should say the timing was good, but when our chat was coming to an end, my bento arrived. Ashley-san said she was going to have breakfast, so I excused myself to go back to my room first.
When I was leaving my seat with the bento in hands, Ashley-san said to me in a casual tone:
“Schwarz-san, did you have some kind of breakthrough? You look much more refreshed than before.”
I could feel my heart jump. This person, only this person saw me as just me. That was what I felt.
“Yes. I was able to resolve one of the worries I’ve had since coming here.”
“Is that so? That’s good. Ah, you’ll go to Wolf Fang Labyrinth after this, right? Take care. See you later.”
“Yes, see you later.”
With all the preparations in Barga finished, I went to Wolf Fang Labyrinth and started my conquest. My target was to pass the 12th level and if possible, reach the 18th level. First was to quickly get to the Spring on the 3rd level. Then I would aim for the Springs on the 8th, 12th, and finally, the 18th level.
I went to the Labyrinth’s administration building, submitted my exploration schedule, and had my Guild card checked. I took the chance to ask if there were any other explorers currently inside, but conveniently, there weren’t any. Most of the adventurers were heading to the Emerald Demon Labyrinth for the harvest festival. With its Gatekeeper impossible to pass and its conquest left incomplete, this labyrinth was unpopular. That was why there was no need to worry about other people inside.
I checked my equipment while heading down to the 1st level. My suppressor and tactical light were installed on the P90. A suppressor was also mounted on my sidearm, the Five-seveN. This loadout would be enough down to the 3rd level, where the map was 100% complete. The monsters from there onwards would possibly get stronger so I planned to have the Scar ready just in case.
I confirmed my route down to the 2nd level and dashed. Then I accelerated to move forward with strafing. Then I sped up in one go by performing consecutive strafe jumps. I smashed into the glass wolves and horned rabbits that appeared and shot them dead. I didn’t collect the mana stones because I planned to reach the 3rd level as fast as possible. I would proceed with more caution from there on and begin to collect stones.
I verified the number of dots in the small room I was approaching and plunged in without stopping. The 4 dots in the room were glass wolves, sitting at the room’s center. Just as they turned around, I smoothly fired at them. I stormed into the room from the door but didn’t charge at the wolves from that direction, and it confused them. They couldn’t react at all except for getting up. Just like that, they ate my bullets and dropped.
I made sure that all 4 of them were wrapped in mist and sank into the labyrinth before I glided to turn around and landed from the strafe to change my magazine. I also took the chance to have a drink, take a breather, and collect mana stones.
The flask I ordered from the Marida Company had water stones inserted in the lower half and could automatically activate its magic circle to collect water inside. Magical tools that did not require the user’s magic were popular and their prices were good. I couldn’t use these tools for all my everyday necessities, but the flask was greatly appreciated.
After that short break, I continued on to the big room. There were thirteen monsters inside, a mix of glass wolves and goblins. I threw an M84 inside from the entrance, which stunned their sight and hearing. As groans rose from inside, I shot and killed them.
I covered the 1st level in less than an hour and headed toward the 2nd level.
I also used strafing to move forward on the 2nd level. The red bears might appear from here on, but I also planned to smash into them and knock them over like this. While checking the 3rd level stair’s location, I continued to move at a rapid pace like on the 1st level. To be honest, if some other adventurers saw this, I wouldn’t be able to come up with a valid excuse.
When I explored the Emerald Demon Labyrinth with the Sansanqua girls, I had heard many talks about adventurers’ Skills. Skills were activated by their owner’s will and didn’t need to be chanted like magic. A Skill could be invoked with only the will to make your body move, using the owner’s magic as the power source. Marinda-san moving around to act as the party’s shield and Ruu-san drawing her sword, those were actually Skills in action. They were high-ranked adventurers and their magic reserves were high enough to not run out during explorations. However, low-ranked adventurers were only able to use skills sparingly while exploring or doing missions out in the world.
There were many Skills that manipulated movements and at first glance, my strafe-jump did look like one. But continuous flight without stopping like this obviously either meant it did not require magic, or my magic reserve was very particular.
I could hear heavy footsteps ahead and a light dot appeared on the map. A red bear… I adjusted my angle of approach and moved closer to the wall. The bear came into view. It noticed me and roared, but it just cost itself some time with that action.
I placed my crosshair over its open mouth and squeezed the trigger in one go. In a blink of an eye, its roaring mouth was choked with overflowing blood. I kicked at the wall mid-jump, turned to behind the bear and shot at the back of its neck this time. Its head was blown away from its body.
For larger beasts, you needed to use more 5.7x28mm bullets, or narrow down the aim. Next time, should I try to aim at the heart from either the front or the back, or should I blow away the head from the beginning…? I could switch to the Scar, but if I used 7.62x51mm NATO on 2nd level, then it’d be worrisome on the lower levels.
I watched the bear sink as I thought of future fighting methods.