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Chapter 7: Before Clearing a Labyrinth

Before Clearing a Labryinth

[If reforming her is impossible, then smash her eyes.]

Having been told that, without my feelings in order, I walked around Arumsaas memo in hand.

It was passed noon, and seeing Shannon's face felt awkward, so I searched for the private school Clara informed me of.

"I think that's overkill..."

What I couldn't understand was how crushing eyes was the correct retribution for petty mischief.

To Shannon, her lack of eyes was compensated for with a Skill, allowing her to sense her surroundings.

Since the Skill acted through her empty eyes, making it so she can't see... crushing them would make her unable to receive information from the environment, even if it was the effects of a Skill.

That was the Fifth's theory.

As I was worrying about it, the Sixth spoke.

[Are you still mulling over it? I can understand how you feel, but that power is too much for that child. It's only because Milleia had a personality like Shannon's elder sister that my pops was able to feel relieved even though she had that power.]

It seems she was a nice person.

With his dry personality, the Fifth thought it unnecessary to dispatch Milleia, so I was able to understand that her personality was likely similar to Miranda-san's.

The Fifth was...

[If you leave her be like that, it won't end with mischief. Now, you should crush all those future monster candidates while you have the chance.]

I responded in a low voice.

There were a lot of passersby, so even if I spoke, no one turned to look at me.

On the large street, there were numerous signs for private schooling posted up.

Various catch phrases as well.

There were some that reeked of suspicion, and others that drew the eyes.

"Monster candidate, is it? I can't think of her as being on Celes' level."

On my frank thoughts, the Fifth called me na?ve.

[She can sense whenever someone uses a Skill, and she can touch the flow of Mana. Right now, she's likely just using it to perpetrate childish mischief from afar, but if she was in the mood, Milleia was able to even control a person's heart. That girl was nice, so she used that power to heal the wounded hearts of those with trauma. You get it? It's something too good for that mischievous kid.]

The Sixth spoke.

[The one who learned of its healing usage was the Circry House head. He fell for her, and talks proceeded all the way to marriage. Both me and pops wanted to keep her close, but considering Milleia's happiness, we sent her off.]

Perhaps as he remembered the scene, his voice had a regretful tone mixed into it.

But the Fifth was the same as always.

[She married into the notable family of civil officers, the Circry House, so in the end, I think it was beneficial to the Walt House. It was quite an advantage for us to have connections with imperial nobles.]

I guess he won't change.

If you ask if it's fitting the Fifth, it is, but...

The Sixth spoke.

[If she got serious, you wouldn't be able to lay a hand on her. The reason we had the Third teach his Skill was so you could build a resistance against her.]

It was apparently my duty to reform the girl who received a power beyond her caliber.

It wasn't as if she was seeing with her eyes, but still, she could carry out life normally, and was feigning impairment. I found it a little ominous.

I thought it was something I didn't have to know, but her misdeeds against us were escalating by the day.

Right now, there wasn't a problem if the three of us stayed out of the house, but if someone stayed behind, they might be in serious danger.

(She can even lay her hands on someone's mind? No, she uses her Mana to lay hands on it... regardless, if I don't do something about it, her eyes are...)

I don't want to do it. Those are my honest feelings.

But the ancestors are egging me on.

It's not like they're forcing me to crush them. If I can reform her, then I can go in a direction without gore, otherwise, while it's pitiable...

Something like that.

(Why do I have to worry over something like this...)

Why did it even come to this?

If we moved out, would Shannon stop caring about us? In that case... would Miranda-san be safe?

Those sorts of thoughts only furthered my worries.

(In the first place... I can't imagine that child turning out like Celes.)

The Celes I knew of was a true monster.

Just as the First Generation Head called her, a monster whose simple existence could warp her surroundings, and drag them in... that sensation, when I separated from her, I noticed how strange it had been, but while I was there, I never thought it the least peculiar.

I can't see Shannon as a monster of that level.

If you call her dangerous, she probably is, but I felt we were being a little too wary of her.

(Perhaps the Fifth and Sixth are seeing that Milleia-san's shadow on Shannon.)

To me, the one I truly should be wary of was the one who mastered the usage of her eyes, that Milleia-san, I think.

And the one she resembled was...

As I was lost in thought, the Third called out.

[Lyle, isn't this the place?]

"... Looks like it."

I saw a sword training hall with a large sign hung up over it.

From what I heard from Clara, it was the place the former adventurer opened, it seems.

From inside the room, I could hear a shouting voice.

"You're stepping in too shallow!"

"Yes!"

"Do you think you can survive a labyrinth like that!? Let out your voice!"

"Yes!"

While listening to the voices, I peered into the hall.

It seemed to have been opened by a swordsman who fought on the front lines.

Looking at the hall, the Second offered his impression of it...

[... Eh~? That's the swordsman who reached the fiftieth level? Doesn't he seem a little weak?]

The Third agreed, but his opinion was a little different.

[That's definitely how he looks, but could he be hiding his ability? As a fellow swordsman, I'm curious. It's just that, no matter how I look at it, he isn't very...]

The Fourth.

[That's standard training hall-trained swordplay. No, I won't say that's bad, but... since it was five years ago, did his skills dull from being separated from the battlefield?]

The Fifth.

[Won't it be fine if Lyle fights him?]

The Sixth...

[Right]

Seventh...

[So he's challenging the school? It may be nice if he experienced it while he's young. Lyle, that's how it is, so...]

"... What do you mean that's how it is. Do you guys have some grudges against training halls? Why do I have to challenge..."

I unintentionally grumbled aloud, and the my eyes met a disciple close by. It looks like he overheard me.

"I-it's a challenger! Teacher!! They finally came! A challenger has appeared!"

I extended my hand towards the disciple's back, and opened my mouth. I knew he wouldn't be listening, but I tried giving an excuse.

"N-no, well... that's wrong..."

I heard the Third's voice.

[With this, you can't run away, Lyle. Look, resolve yourself, and show off your sword skills honed by real battle! Don't lose to some indoor-trained swordplay!]

(... Before I was kicked out, that's practically what I was doing, you know?)

Looking at the training hall set astir, I ran off.

I fled.

The Sixth spoke.

[What, so you won't do it? How boring... this sort of thing is actually quite fun, you know?]

As I ran, I shouted out.

"It's definitely not fun! What sort of pitiful reason is there for me to have to challenge a training hall!? I planned to have them teach me a thing or two about the labyrinth!"

The disciples that rushed out of the hall chased after me.

Perhaps because the blood had gone to their heads, their faces were bright red.

At this rate, it doesn't look like anything will happen even if I apologize.

Using the Fourth's [Speed], I raised my running speed to evade my persuers before concealing myself for a while.

-

-

-

Before returning to the mansion, I headed for the other location listed on the memo.

There, a magician was supposedly teaching the compounding he learned from his Skill.

There are a large number of people who were able to display their expertise in compounding with Skills, and in the city of scholars, quite a few students held such Skills.

A glass-wearing robed man offered me some tea.

"This is herb tea."

"Thank you. And well... I want to ask about the time you reached the lowest floor of the labyrinth."

When I told him my business, he told me to wait until after he finished his lesson.

I waited in the classroom, and listened to his talk as I waited for the time to pass.

"There are a lot who bring that up. But I doubt I will be of much help to you, you know. While it's true that I went there, I was support. I used magic to light the area, or occasionally conducted healing to contribute to the party."

"No, I wanted to ask about what I should be wary of... at the training hall, I was mistaken as a challenger, and I was unable to state my business."

As I said that, he stifled some laughter.

While I thought it strange, he explained the circumstances.

"Like me, he was mainly a baggage carrier. He did participate in battle, so it's not like he's weak or anything. He truly has some skill. But he was not part of the party's main fighting force."

Apparently, the skilled members left Arumsaas for Beim.

Their numbers apparently numbered close to fifty, but as support was important in the labyrinth, their actual fighting force numbered less than fifteen.

"Now, they may be leading a mercenary brigade, or something of the like. It's often the case that the profits of that are greater than being an adventurer. Also, I hear that the amount of skirmishes around has increased lately."

The man made a slightly sorrowful face.

"The medicine I make is flying off the shelves, so students gathered around me, though."

From the man smiling wryly, I asked what to watch out for within the labyrinth.

According to him...

"The labyrinth changes based on the location. In Arumsaas' one, a leader of monsters will obstruct your way every ten floors. The tenth and twentieth floor bosses are often subjugated, but thirtieth onwards are usually left alone."

"They do revive, right?"

"Yes, in about a week to ten days. But the ones you have to worry about are the bosses that were left unsubjugated. As time goes on, they become stronger. Even when they're already so powerful, they store up more power, so they can become quite troublesome."

The man offering me a warning continued on.

"If you challenge it, you may have a Skill manifest, you know? Or perhaps you already have one? But please be cautious when your Skills grow stronger. There are plenty of Skills out there them make it feel like your own power increased more than it did, and there are many an adventure who faced failure because of that. Skills and Growths, those two things are what drive adventurers mad."

The nice-sounding man laughed, and told me to take it as some advice from a senior in the business.

The Seventh spoke.

[Hmm, he seems to be a good adventurer. Perhaps his opinions clashed with his former party, so he remained in Arumsaas. Clara acted on hearsay, and she wasn't too knowledgeable on all else.]

It's not like Clara was in the wrong, and I received some valuable information, so I'm thankful.

"I apologize, but can I ask one last thing?"

"What is it?"

In the end, I tried asking.

For argument's sake, I did take on Damien Valle's request, so I planned to confirm it.

"To defeat something on the level of the fortieth floor's boss, how large of a party would be needed?"

The man thought go a moment, before smiling.

It seems he noticed it was for the request of one of the city of scholars' seven great.

"So you took on Damien Valle's request? In our time, we challenged it with close to fifty, and I get the feeling we barely scraped by. The result will change based on just how strong you are, and just how proficient comrades you have, but generally, if you have six, it will be hard once you cross the tenth floor. If you have talent, then wit six, perhaps the twentieth is the limit. Rather than strength, it's the consecutive battles that make it difficult. If you want to push yourself, it may be possible, but that would make you a failure as an adventurer."

Strength isn't everything.

If you don't earn, then there's no meaning in it as an adventurer.

After defeating a monster, if you're going to give up on its materials and magic stones, the man said I might be able to reach the thirtieth floor's boss.

I offered my thanks, and left the school.

I also purchased some medicine he was selling, and he gave the parting words of, 'don't push yourself.'

-

-

-

Along the road back to the mansion.

On an empty path, I tried testing the Fifth's second stage, [Dimension], and the Sixth's [Spec].

A greater three dimensional map popped up in my head, and I was able to gain a greatre understanding of the presences moving around the city.

After the next turn is a party of two men.

Their ages were in the early half of their teens, and they were playing around.

Having become able to access more detailed information, confirmed the usage restrictions placed on them.

"My sources of information have increased all at once."

It was a good things, but at the same time, a large amount of information was flooding into my head all at once.

I'll need some time before I can get used to it.

The Sixth gave me some advice.

[Don't keep up a Skill you can't use well. Based on the situation, there are times when all you need is a flat plane map. You can't underestimate the Mana consumption either.]

I planned to do just as he said.

But right now, I was testing the Skills, so I continued to walk with them on.

I turned the corner, and found two children playing around.

(... Isn't this Skill considerably amazing? The Sixth told me never to tell anyone of its specifics, and I kinda understood him.)

The one who thought up its usage rules was the Sixth.

And he was also the one who understood just how amazing of a Skill it was.

Of course, the Fifth was amazing in his own right.

Rather than perceiving it, there were some things you would never notice unless you looked at a map.

That's where he came it.

He must have had efficiency on his mind, and whether it be for governing or war, this Skill was proficient.

The Second spoke to me.

[Well then, Lyle, have you resolved yourself? Of course, first you'll need to grasp some definite evidence that Shannon can see.]

If I wanted to try persuading her, I would have to unmask her true nature first.

It was also a necessary factor if I wanted to tell Miranda-san the truth of the matter.

(It won't be nice if I get looked on as a man making false accusations at his landlord's sister. I really don't think I should get involved, but... we're under Miranda-san's care at the moment.)

Novem and Aria generally took care of the housework.

To Miranda-san, who was busy with her schoolwork, it was something she was extremely thankful for.

But from our point of view as adventurers returning from a job, finding food on the table when we returned was on another level.

On top of being able to find rest immediately, it was extremely relieving.

Miranda-san's aid to us was nothing small.

If we left, then Shannon might continue to drive out one servant after another, and Miranda-san would be troubled.

(... I'll have to reform her.)

I wondered just how I should deal with the girl.