FPS 113

I felt the need through the Terra Chaos armor’s defenses in order to put the Dark Guild Cactus in their place. So, I had to finish the knight in the most flashy way. And thus, I chose to drop that fuel trailer by using it like a free fire bomb. The result was a massive explosion followed by a massive pillar of fire. The explosion had set the eastern part of the forest road ablaze. The knight should’ve been underneath it, but there was no way to confirm the kill until the flame subsided. 

The wreckage of the M978 still burned at the center of the crater, the armor gauge read 0 and the system judged it to be destroyed. The wreckage would soon turn into light particles and disperse. The scattered fuel still burned as well. 

Motes of light floated up into the sky along with the fire. It was a fantastic scene so to speak, but with nothing left to burn, the fire died off. Smoke and the smell of burning earth filled the air. I doubted the knight could survive that. The heat permeating from the ground penetrated the soles of my shoes as I walked to the crater to check. 

Lying in the crater was the magic armor, intact and partially buried in dirt, on its back. I didn’t think the AS Val would work against the armor but I still held it at the ready as I approached carefully. The magic armor was intact, so did that mean the person inside also survived? 

When I got to the knight, I finally lowered my weapon. The knight’s head looked lifelessly to the sky. I couldn’t see his face nor his eyes through the slits in the visor. Looking closely, only the earth colored gem seemed to have been damaged. It was cracked and its color had been lost.  With my foot, I lightly nudged the head… Only to hear something crunch and the smell of heavily charred meat. 

That convinced me that the black knight had truly. But as a precaution, I lined the crosshair on his chest and shot twice. With a dull sound, the bullets easily penetrated the armor. 

I see — losing the gem will cause its sturdiness to be lost. This had not crossed my mind earlier, so I hadn’t tried attacking it. Turns out, the magic stone was its weak point. After I confirmed the battle was over, I started to walk away from the crater and back into the main road while activating the TSS. I resupplied the ammo I spent and the tomahawks as well as checking out the M987 that had been destroyed. 

The vehicle that’d been destroyed was in the garage as a garbage item. Players had the option to either perform a full repair, which costs slightly less than buying a new one, or dispose of the vehicle. Of course, I chose to repair it. Let us also refuel everything while I was at it. I took out the resupply box while I kept an eye on the surroundings. I did so because I was worry about more attackers but it seemed he had come alone — 

My sound sensors had suddenly picked up the sound of horse hooves’ in the distance of Fort Barga. I immediately hid myself behind a tree and watched the situation. 

Although the radar hadn’t shown anything, the path was wide enough to see what was coming from afar A few hundred meters away, a large group of mounted knights were escorting several carriages. Weren’t those… Western Barga Knights?

The armor worn by the lead riders was that of those knights. Several carriages could be seen following after them, with even more knights behind. And they were heading towards my position. Apparently, I was a bit late in hiding myself behind the tree. I went out of my hiding spot to greet the group. 

They traveled at a moderate speed as they only had the starlight as a source of lighting. My radar had already pinged 50 of them already. The calvarymen swerved around and surrounded me, while the carriage stopped a few meters before me. The carriage door opened and I wondered who’d come out – –

“I was wondering who dared to rampage around here, turns out it’s the ‘Black Mask Shaft’.”

Three people came out… Oldmen…

“I did not expect that it would happen in a place like this, Deputy Chief Caymon.”

The first to disembark from the carriage was Viscount Butler Caymon, the Western Barga Knights’ Deputy Chief; followed by the head of the Magician Guild, Count Vallasimo Themis. The last one to disembark… I think it was a beastman, but I hadn’t seen someone with a huge body, brown hair, and yellow eyes before. 

“Shaft, it’s been a while.”

“Count Themis, it’s been a while.”

“Shaft? Are you that Shaft from the Mercenary Guild who conquered the Wolf Fang Labyrinth.”

“… Yes, my name is ahft, and I belong to the Mercenary Guild.”

I didn’t know who this beastman was, but since he was riding inside the carriage with the other two, and from his outfit, he must have been some sort of aristocrat. So I showed some courtesy and gave a light bow.

Shaft, this person is from the General Guild of Barga, Count Garvas Blitz.”

Deputy Chief introduced the person as the top brass of the General guild.. No, just in Fort Barga, right?

“By the way, Shaft. Was that erupting flame that reached into the sky earlier your work?”

“Yes—” 

I briefly explained what happened earlier to the three. Count Themis promptly went to see the armor upon the mention of its name. Since Count Blitz mentioned not to mind him, I continued my recount of the events. In any case, the city gate had been closed while I had been busy with the knight. So, I decided to stay the night in the labyrinth’s administration building. Furthermore, the three men were curious how I managed to get past the 21st floor. 

I actually wanted to return to Barga as soon as possible, then head south but it couldn’t be helped. Many tents had been set around the building even though it was dark outside. A frontline base not unlike that I saw around the Emerald Demon Labyrinth once it’d been conquered. 

Originally, after hearing the news about the labyrinth being conquered, Deputy Chief Caymon had immediately dispatched a group of knights. The included fielding some of the General Guild’s staff and investigators. I recounted my experience inside the labyrinth as per their request, sure not to mention what should not be mentioned… But the General Guild Leader Count Blitz was quite thorough with his questions.

As it turned out, he was a former member of that sole party that managed to reach the 25th floor many years ago.

Sparking of which, Marta-san did mention something about that. The party had disbanded after withdrawing from there, and that one member ended up joining the General Guild… 

“The guardian, how did you defeat it exactly? No, how did you stop it from retreating back into the water to recover?”

Count Blitz was the only one listening to me. Viscount Caymon was busy preparing the Labyrinth’s operation, which would start tomorrow. Count Themis was engrossed with the magic armor Terra Chaos and was surrounded by several of his disciples. 

“That crocodile? So your party had trouble fighting against it?”

“Indeed we did. Once wounded, it would retreat back into the water and heal itself. After repeated attempts being stumped by it, it became obvious that it was impossible for us to continue fighting. We planned to defeat the guardian so we could return back using the transfer magic circle, but we couldn’t. The journey back was like a war of attrition and our party started to collapse…”

Count Blitz, who stood beside me as he recounted his experience, sent a distant look at the labyrinth’s entrance through the window. 

“So, did you pull through?”

“I wounded it, then used fire magic on the water when it retreated back into the pool. Your Excellency has seen what my magic is capable of. It’s not great magic or anything, but it’s enough to boil the water. With the water’s temperature being so high, the guardian couldn’t stay submerged for too long and was forced to surface.”

“So, there was that kind of method.” 

I didn’t use any magic, but it was not like I was lying. It should be okay to provide this much information. 

“Shaft.”

“Yes?”

“Why don’t you join the General Guild?”

Count Blitz, still looking out the window, turned to me and asked.

“It is an honor to receive a direct invitation from Your Excellency, but pardon me as I have to refuse.”

“I see… But Shaft, I’m sorry to say, you can’t go on like this. This country isn’t such a free country that it will let a talent who could conquer a labyrinth alne to roam free for too long. And most importantly, we can’t afford to let that talent fall into another country’s hands.”

That means, if I intended to leave this country to take root in another, Kertmerga Kingdom would attempt to eliminate me before I could do this? But… 

“I have a lot of acquaintances in this kingdom. I have no intention of leaving anytime soon.”

“In that case, you should put yourself under someone’s wing. If not the General Guild, then a Duke or even a simple lord will do. As long as its an aristocraft under this country.”

“Thank you for the consideration. I’ll keep that in mind.” 

“Fuhn, you conquered the long standing Wolf Fang Labyrinth. This level of advice is not enough to show how grateful I am.”

The count left with a laugh after saying so. I should rest as well. Tomorrow I would head back to the city once the gate opened.

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