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Chapter 5: Fighting with Skills

Fighting with Skills

With the match over, I was called by a guild personnel to the counter to receive a simple explanation.

Naturally, we weren't the first adventurers who'd worked up a ruckus on their first days at the east branch.

I had my dissatisfactions, but from the guild's point of view, there wasn't the option of doing absolutely nothing to me.

As a representative of the party, I sat across from the guild receptionist, [Tanya].

My other comrades with resting a café lounge in the guild called the rest area. I doubt there was anything important enough to call all eight of us out.

The slender Tanya sent me some fed-up glances as she finished up the report documents.

I heard that Erhart was carried off to the medical facilities, and was to receive a severe reprimand after resting a while.

"Yes, it does seem that the fault lies in the other party. And the fact that you were dragged into the mess is something I've managed to confirm."

If so, then why must I be reprimanded? With that sentiment, I tried protesting.

"Then the strict reprimand I'm to receive is..."

"Still happening."

Saying that quite bluntly, Tanya-san finished up the report, put it aside, and cleaned off her desk top.

It seems she was an orderly person. Raising the right side of her glasses to reset their positioning, she went into cautioning me.

"One of your party members is wearing highly conspicuous clothing. An automaton, was it? It's a fact that her appearance is one to draw the eyes. There are few who would try to pick a fight within the guild like Erhart-kun, but there's always at least a set amount of adventurers ready to resort to unsavory means. What's more, I'm referring not to inexperienced ones, but competent veterans."

It seems that ill-meaning adventurers existed in fixed quantity.

But in the morning rush, I really couldn't feel many of those sorts.

That was because most of their active work took place at night, so those sorts slept through the morning, apparently.

Not that it was an absolute.

"The fact that your opponent was at fault doesn't solve the fundamental problem. In truth, a party like yours, Lyle-kun, is one that draws problems quite easily. You should caution them as their leader."

Even if I wanted to refute that one, perhaps it was my responsibility to do so, so I nodded and left it at that.

Tanya confirmed the information on my guild card, and looked through the evaluations we had received up to now.

"... There's been some empty time from your last records in Arumsaas. But evaluation-wise, you've obtained quite a line of high scores. If it's like this, you'll be able to participate in a Labyrinth clearing force soon."

What Tanya-san had said was something not covered in the explanatory meeting, so I tilted my head.

When I tried asking, she sounded a little amazed.

"You didn't know? The east branch is renowned for having large amount of time completely wasted on movement, but of course there has to be some merits to it. Otherwise, adventurers wouldn't gather, right? One of the large pros to it is Labyrinth clearing."

For the Labyrinth managed by the free city of Beim, of course, it was forbidden to try and clear it.

It seems there are still idiots out there trying to challenge its innermost chamber, but such adventurers are promptly erased by a wholesome cleaning company known as the [Sweepers]. Apparently.

Meaning those wishing to stick themselves to this city had exceedingly small chances to ever challenge an innermost chamber at all. They would never be able to obtain the treasure known as rare metal.

I heard the Third's voice from within the Jewel.

[So the merit is dungeon clearing? True, you can't go about doing that with a managed Labyrinth, so being able to get rare metal and other treasures is a huge bonus.]

The Fourth let out a doubtful voice.

[But none of that came out in the presentation. Perhaps there some reason to that.]

He had a point.

So I tried asking.

"... Is that something anyone can take part in?"

Tanya-san lightly shook her head to the side.

"No. We take it upon ourselves to dispatch a number of competent adventurer parties when they appear. In those cases, it's inevitable that parties with high evaluations are selected. When Labyrinths are found, those requests are set to be sent to the east branch with the highest priority. Other branches only get those sorts of requests once or twice a year?"

(Once or twice a year? It's that low? No, perhaps its best to think that high? I'm not too knowledgeable about that area.)

Hearing that, the Seventh sounded reluctant.

[Meaning unless your evaluation is high, you'll never get to challenge one. It's all up to the guild there.]

Tanya-san made a forced smile as she continued on.

"We welcome highly evaluated adventurers with open arms. Please continue to be competent adventurers during your stay in our branch."

So she's telling me to complete whatever jobs the guild sends us, and raise our evaluations.

Our past records should have some influence in the jobs selected for us.

I don't think we'll get anything we're unable to complete, even so I thought over the merit of being able to subjugate Labyrinths.

(Naturally, doing that can net you treasures and rare metal in the innermost chamber. Parties that the guild requests such subjugations from are those over a certain level of evaluation. It's a reliable system, but at the same time, it means I'll have competent rivals on the job.)

With the nature of the Skills in my hands, Labyrinths were a place where I could bring about results beyond my own abilities.

Perhaps transferring from the east branch isn't the best option after all.

(Even here, I can challenge Labyrinths of Beim. Then staying here for the time being sounds about right.)

If I closed my eyes to a few inconveniences, this really was a convenient guild to me.

Standing from my chair, I apologized to Tanya-san.

"I will give it my all to answer to your expectations. And I apologize for today's ruckus. I'm sorry."

After containing some laughter, Tanya-san removed her glasses and spoke.

"Even from a guild staff's point of view, it was a series of events right out of a novel. It really was interesting. Lyle-kun, you've become quite a famous one on your first day here."

As she smiled and said such things as, 'my deepest condolences,' and giving a sarcastic smile in return, I stood and left.

-

-

-

That day.

After returning to the inn, I spent the time up to dinner alone.

I sent my consciousness into the Jewel to receive some training from the Sixth.

In his room of his memories, I faced him with my weapon aloft.

Thinking it was a room I'd seen before, I realized it was the room of the mansion where I had learned swordsmanship.

For the militaristic Walt House, a training room was quite an essential facility.

"It hasn't changed a bit."

I looked around and said that.

[It's because there's no reason to change the basics. Unless a large change comes to the battlefield, I'm sure it'll stay like this for years to come.]

Weapons, tactics, and magic...

As long as nothing groundbreaking came along to alter the scenery of the battlefield, the Sixth said training would always be the same.

A battle axe. Taking a stance with his halberd, he looked at me and laughed.

[Oddly enough, that Erhart brat was of the same type as me. Now what will you do!?]

He likely meant he was a power type, but the Sixth wasn't using anything to strengthen his muscles. Even if he was, I'm sure he could only use the First Generation's First stage [Full Over].

The halberd that looked more like a large axe had been fastened on a spear, specialized in the actions of cut and slice.

Its shaft was even longer than the giant sword, and unlike Erhart, the Sixth was plentiful in combat experience.

What's more, just how many times had he taken on human opponents?

Stanced, we moved as if to draw a circle around one another. While waiting for a chance to attack, or to parry his blow, the Sixth began his assault.

"Fast!"

Just like the First, the Sixth had been blessed with a large build.

And that man thrust out the halberd as he dove in.

Intimidating air and force well over Erhart. Should I try to turn its force aside... no, I should dodge here.

[Na?ve. Way too na?ve!]

I had managed to dodge the spear tip, but as he withdrew the weapon, the axe part dug into my left shoulder.

I thought it had merely grazed me, but it gouged much deeper than I had anticipated.

Blood spurted out, and when I tried to retreat back, he grabbed the far end of the polearm with one hand, and swung it in an arc.

"Brute force like that is...!"

[I said it, didn't I? That I'm a power type!]

When the halberd hit the ground, a cloud of sand rose, and a sensation like an earthquake had occurred assailed me.

While I was bewildered, he approached holding the shaft closer to the point this time.

Before he could lock blades with me, I sensed an opening and immediately thrust out my sabre.

He turned his head to the left to avoid it, and I tried to use my thrusting motion to turn the blade and cut at his neck diagonally.

But...

"... You can do that?"

[If I grab you like this, you can't get away, right? And something like this happens all day every day.]

With the blade of my sabre gripped in his left hand, he swung the halberd in his right.

I unhanded the sabre and tried to take some distance, but the Sixth rushed alongside me, tossed the sabre a distance away, and used his left hand to thrust at my chest and hoist me up by the collar.

Quite appropriate of his build... no, with power even greater than that, he lifted me high up, and slammed me into the ground.

[I didn't go as far as to slam you head-first, but it hurts like hell, doesn't it?]

Released from his grasp, I sluggishly got to my feet.

My back had taken quite a blow, and I couldn't breathe. I couldn't match up to him in martial arts.

Our constitutions were too different. Even if my level of technique was over his, he had considerable skill himself, and enough knowledge to compensate.

And even more than all of that, he had no hesitation.

[Lyle, you still have a bit of hesitation against human foes.]

I opened my hand. The sabre manifested in it, so I grasped its hilt and took a stance.

The pain had already left me, and the wounds had reverted as if they were never there to begin with.

"It's not as if our relationship is just at the level of acquaintances. I don't think I'm all for pointing a weapon at you."

The Sixth smiled.

[You're thinking to deeply into it. I won't die here even if you kill me, so be at ease, and give it your all. And you see... even your all won't be able to beat me.]

His tone irritated me, and I ended up resorting to Skills.

With the First's [Full Burst] to raise my abilities several times over, I thrust out the blade.

But this time the Sixth sacrificed his left hand. He used it to block the incoming sabre, and naturally enough, the blade pierced through.

And even then, the Sixth smiled. He gripped the blade so as not to let it go, and spread the blood from his left hand on my face.

Quite purposely he had made the move, and even widened his wound for it.

"My eyes!"

My vision blocked, I used my Skills to search out my opponent's movements.

But the Second's, Fifth's, Sixth's...

In regards to following an enemy's movements, it's not like the Sixth would actually grant me the time.

Grasping for my moment of panic...

[The Second said it, didn't he!? Skills only have meaning if you can master them! Resorting to them at the slightest provocation is what an idiot would do!]

The body of the axe portion was lowered on my head, and I fell to the ground.

His weapon over his shoulder, the Sixth began lecturing me.

[Listen here, you should really have taken some distance and tried attacking with magic. Of course, I would have dealt with it somehow, but you can use the Second's Skill up to its final stage. If you fought with some distance between us, the possibility still...]

I unsteadily rose and looked at him.

[... What?]

"No I just thought that while you rarely stood out, you're surprisingly strong, Sixth."

Perhaps he was mindful of it, as he lowered the shaft of his halberd on my head.

[It's not that I don't stand out! The others' characters are too strong! That's why someone as normal and wholesome as me doesn't stand out.]

He was quite plainly strong.

(I don't think he's normal, but compared to the rest...)

He didn't play with his opponents like the Third.

Unlike the others that had some specific leanings in their battle styles, he was just plainly strong.

I'd never directly fought with the First or Second, but they had their habits.

The Second's weapon was a bow. It was rough in close quarters, but with some distance to an enemy, or a forest around, it could be quite a threat.

The First swung around his giant blade to the very limits of his physical strength, and that was to the level of working up a tempest.

As a result, the evaluation I gave to the Sixth was 'plainly strong'.

[Hah, that's it for today.]

He said that with slight abjection, and before I knew it, I found myself sabreless in the space in front of his room.

In the conference room with the round circle, the Fourth was waiting for me.

[Lyle, it's time for dinner. Novem-chan and the rest have come to wake you.]

Hearing that, I started off to return at once, but the Fourth stopped me. 'Wait a bit' he said, as he looked up at the ceiling.

"What is it?"

I looked up, and found myself looking at Novem's face.

She was staring into something and touching it with her hand.

"... She's waking me. And wait, that's how you guys look at the outside world?"

The Fourth shook his head.

[There are times we can use your field of vision as well, and times we can only see like this from the Jewel. Of course, both of them use up your Mana all the same.]

I could bear it now, but it really was a pain when I had just gotten the Jewel. Whenever the ancestors acted up, I'd lose all my Mana and collapse.

"So what are we waiting for?"

The Fourth kept his eyes on the ceiling.

[... Novem-chan, you see, she's looking at your face and smiling. Perhaps it's best you stay like this a little longer.]

Looking up, I definitely could see her smile.

She was stroking my face.

"Then couldn't I return and pretend to sleep a little..."

The Fourth...

[You're right, but somehow, when she entered the room, she was looking at the Jewel. It's just a hunch, but... I'm sure there's still some things Novem-chan is hiding. I just wanted to put it out there.]

Hearing his opinion, I looked up at the scenes above the table.

Studying the girl's smile projected up onto it, I felt a little anxious.