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Chapter 10: Beim’s Receptionists

Beim's Receptionists

The sixth basement floor.

While we were surveying the area, Alette-san had crushed the floor boss, so the path to the seventh floor was opened up.

I looked at the pea-green gemstones... peridots in each of my hands.

We had found a moderate-sized room in the cave, and taken a rest.

It was the second day since we entered the Labyrinth, and we had more than enough materials and Magic Stones on hand.

In the end, we'd yet to open the first treasure chest I'd found.

"Is it just a coincidence?"

Looking over the two stones, they were even the same in shape.

I did feel we could sell them off for quite a bit, but it was quite ominous for the treasure that suddenly manifested nearby to be the exact same as the first one we'd found.

Around me, Aria and Eva were resting, and Clara was also taking a break.

Mini Porter's lantern was lighting up the dark interior.

Novem and May were on lookout, and after I put the gemstones away, I say, and rested my chin on my hand to think.

(The birthstone of the eighth month, and something to do with fate, was it? According to Clara, it's supposed to be fragile, but...)

Perhaps due to the Mana coursing through it, it was exceedingly hard.

If we got it appraised, its value may even excced our expectations.

I knew that, but simultaneously, I felt something strange of it.

Aria and Eva dozed off.

Clara was also sitting and sleeping.

When I sat a while, the ancestors gave their opinion on the matter.

The voice I heard was the Sixth's.

[It may be a coincidence. But thinking about it at this point serves no purpose. When you return, why not try asking that Alette knight or something? If they've found a large quantity of peridot?]

Thinking that was likely the best course of action, I checked up Alette-san's location on the map.

After defeating the sixth floor's boss, it seems she'd returned to her base within the Labyrinth.

(... It's a bit soon, but let's finish up here.)

The ones proceeding down to the seventh floor were Albano's party, and Marina-san alone. Even now, the other parties had yet to tread into the sixth floor.

(Well, it'll become clear soon enough.)

I pressed my back against the wall, and closed my eyes.

-

-

-

After the break.

We finished up a meal, returned to the fifth floor, and discussed matters with Alette-san's party.

When I told her we would be returning to the surface...

"Oh, than that's perfect. Could you hand a letter to my men up top?"

She asked a favor.

It wasn't just idle gossip, but I checked in regards to the treasure we'd found.

As she was writing the letter to her subordinates, I addressed her.

"Come to think of it, we found a treasure chest. It had a precious stone in it, but there was something that got me a bit curious... are the treasures in this Labyrinth mostly gemstones?"

At times, you'd find a Labyrinth like that.

And in that case, there arose an obligation to report it to the guild.

Alette-san's pen stopped for a moment, but it soon started moving once more.

"No, I've heard no such thing. It's best you don't say such a thing to the other parties, okay?"

I didn't particularly have the intention to divulge the contents of treasure chests to others, anyways.

"... I just found it a little strange. I found the same gemstone twice in a row."

She finished her letter, and was waiting for the ink to dry.

After confirming its contents, she nodded, and looked to me.

"Well, live long enough as an adventurer, and I'm sure you'll get lucky once or twice. What? If you're going to make it a present to me, I'll accept it anytime."

As Alette-san said that in a teasing manner, her adjutant knight approached.

"If you really give it to her, she'll misunderstand, so please don't. Even as she is, the captain is quite pure when it comes to male and female relations, so it'll become a pain."

He said that with a smile, as he held out an empty envelope to Alette-san.

Accepting it, as if to snatch it away, she folded the letter and inserted it before sealing it up.

And she handed it to me.

"Ignore that part! W-well, it's that. Nothing to be too worried about. Rather than having it appraised here, I recommend you take it off to a guild-approved appraiser when you return. There are lots of frauds around, so you'd best be careful."

I took the letter from the woman with a reddened face, gave a wry smile, and nodded.

(Yep, even if we plan to sell it, it'll be after we return to Beim.)

After we return to the surface, I'll have to consider party formation, this time's earning, and dividing the reward. It was quite a pain to have those swimming around my head all the time.

At that moment, to the fifth floor's base came up a bloodstained woman with a large load over her shoulder.

Thinking she was injured, I was about to rush over, but Alette-san simply let off a sigh.

"Marina, selling them off here again? Just go up to the surface yourself once in a while."

There, the bloodstained woman.

"That's a pain. I pay you for the trouble, and that's the end of it, right? Make it as pricy as you want, but please sell me some medicine and perishables."

The woman lowering such a large bag onto the ground shook off her long, black, unkempt hair.

Blood flew around.

Her eyes were red, and her bag hit the ground with a splat.

Alette-san rose from her chair, and complained.

"Good grief, can't you pay a little more attention to your appearance? Someone draw a bath for her. Some medicine and food while you're at it. Marina, how much do you think you'll need?"

Marina-san offered some thanks to Alette-san's agreeable nature.

"A full set of medicine. Food for... ten days? And Frogman monsters start appearing on the seventh floor. They don't put up much resistance, but there are a lot of puddles down there. With the terrain advantage, they're quite lively. Also, I don't need a bath."

Alette-san put her left hand to her hip, and pointer her right at Marina-san.

"Wipe off all that filth. A lack of hygiene can affect how well you recover from injury. But thanks for the information. I'll give you a good price."

Perhaps uninterested, Marina-san waved her hand dismissively.

"If you give me too much, it'll just be a hindrance in the Labyrinth. But I guess I should rest a bit. Just give me enough to cover the medicine, food, and your troubles."

Tall in stature, and wearing a heavy coat, Marina-san was lightly equipped.

How fearsome she must be if she fought off those monsters bare-handed.

(Did she use magic? No, in that case, she couldn't get that bloody... and her atmosphere's that of a warrior.)

While I thought that, Marina-san sent a glance to May, who was talking with Novem.

Alette-san made a reluctant expression.

"Oy, don't be picking a fight here."

Marina-san scratched her head.

"I'm not picking anything. But there are strong ones all over the place. It's sending shivers down my spine. Hey, Alette... who's might the boy next to you be?"

Her red eyes focused on me, my hands felt like darting to the hilt of my sabre.

A voice came from the Jewel.

It was the Third.

[Lyle!]

His voice was serious. Upon hearing it, I stopped my hands, and got my breath in order.

I looked at Marina-san.

"Could you please not direct your blood thirst this way?"

After making a bit of a surprised expression, she began to laugh.

"Splendid! Young boy, state your name."

(She's treating me like a kid? From what I can see, we're not that far apart in age, though...?)

I introduced myself.

"It's Lyle. Lyle Walt."

After hearing that, Marina-san left her bag with one of Alette-san's subordinates, before heading off to a curtain that'd been prepared.

"I'll remember it."

As she walked off with a smile on her face, I couldn't bring myself to see her as a harmless one.

And Alette-san turned around. But her expression to me was a stern one.

"... Walt? There was a house of that name in Bahnseim, wasn't there. Lyle-kun, are you a former noble?"

I was a little troubled over how to respond, but I replied with a smile.

"It's a breach of manners to pry too deeply into an adventurer, Alette-san."

She shrugged.

"Right you are. Sorry for that. Now then, I'll leave the letter to you."

-

-

-

We returned to the surface around the noon of the third day.

Having returned relative quickly, we brought our luggage to the guild's building.

Seeing the spoils of war stuffed into Mini Porter, some adventurers sent us sidelong glances.

"Oy, isn't that the Porter everyone's talking about?"

"So there's already someone here who can use it."

"How envious. With just one unit, how much do you think you could pack in?"

Rather than our earnings, it seems they were envious of Porter's usability.

As its developer, I was plainly delighted.

Clara called over to me.

"Lyle-san, the town's grown bigger again."

Just given a bit of time away, the town had developed itself even further.

I agreed with her.

"Right. But letting it grow this big, just what do they plan on doing when it's all over?"

Was there really a need in all of this? I wondered as I walked to the guild, only to find a surprising truth awaiting us.

We entered the guild branch.

Next to the building, a marketplace had been set up for merchants to buy monster materials off the adventurers.

The guild bought the Magic Stones, and its uneven signboard had the newest rate posted on it.

The number displayed was just a little bit higher than before.

To the receptionist carrying out the transaction, I spoke.

"It's a bit more than before."

"Yes, there was a change back at Beim. We're obligated to match them, for argument's sake. So please don't complain if it falls back down."

The male receptionist giving a bitter smile had likely received such complaints before.

I ended up feeling for him a bit.

"Well, I won't complain as long as it's a reasonable price. Even so, this place sure has developed a bit. Was there a need to take it this far?"

And the male receptionist looked at me.

"Oh, were you away a while? The truth is, there's a river nearby, and it seems these parts are quite suited for reclamation. Right now, there's some surveying going on outside, and even after the Labyrinth has been cleared, there will be land reclamation with this point as the base. A runner from Beim already brought orders to move towards that goal."

... So not a temporary one, they were building up a real settlement.

It wouldn't be strange for a small village to disappear at any moment.

And if they didn't do anything, then the crops they could by from would only dwindle. What's more, Beim had a population greater than it could sustain.

With too many idle hands left around, they likely thought to reclaim land.

The heads of history let out some amazed voices.

Third and up.

[Well I'll be. The scale's on another level.]

[But it's surprisingly workable.]

[If they're going to be doing it anyways, then it's best to recycle.]

[... On top of that, they already have adventurers here to survey the land, and make sure it's safe.]

[And there's Labyrinth clearing going on as it is, so if you want to call it workable, it's workable.]

To my surprise, the receptionist sent a smile.

"Well, these sorts of things aren't too common. Normally, we'd just get together the minimum possible form, and use that as a base. And to make sure no bandits would take up in it later, we'd tear it down afterwards."

It would be troublesome if renegades took residence in the remains of a base.

So once it's over, they'd cleanly wipe it off the map, and return to Beim.

"... In that case, are there requests coming in to the adventurers back at Beim? To survey this area?"

Finishing up the paperwork, he nodded to me.

"Plenty. There were plenty to take them on as they waited for the fifth floor to be cleared as well."

And the money they earned was blown off back at the city.

If they genuinely tried to earn, then I wonder just how much savings they'd have once they returned home?

(I can only see it as them being used by the real earners here.)

That way my impression.

"If you're not going back in the Labyrinth, would you care to take on a request? A little while longer, the slaves will be sent in for some real full-blown reclamation."

While thinking over how fast it was all happening, I...

(Slaves? Bringing them all the way here, do they plan on putting them to forced labor?)

My thoughts were along those lines.

-

-

-

... The Seventh lower level.

Albano's party found a treasure chest, and immediately went into confirming if it was rigged.

The corpses of the surrounding monsters were floating around in the water that came all the way up to their knees.

Frogs taking on humanoid forms, wore breastplates, and equipped themselves with spear and shield.

Those Frogmen floated in their wound-ridden bodies as they dyed the water around them in red.

A member of the party raised his voice.

"No traps! On top of that, this one's a nice piece. A gemstone at that. I even caught a glimpse of a light in it. It's a considerable article, chief!"

Albano felt some loathsome sentiment as he looked at his subordinate who still called him 'chief' even at this point in time.

"It's leader. Get it wrong next time, and your reward goes down. More importantly, a gemstone... finally a winner after going this far down."

The treasure so fro: rare metal... metals imbued with Mana, but all they'd found so far was trifling iron and copper.

It wasn't cheap, but you couldn't call it extraordinary valuable either.

(We'll need money to get out of this lifestyle. It's about time we found some real treasure, but...)

His comrade dug out toe treasure buried in the wall.

But what was there was...

"... Huh? It's just iron? That shouldn't be... ow!"

Albano smacked the back of his comrade's head with the palm of his hand, and yelled.

"It's nothing but iron, ain't it! Getting my expectations up like that... dammit, let's go back up for the day. Return to the fifth floor and borrow a place to sleep from the boss. We already found the next boss room. When we get to the surface, we'll be able to play around a while."

Hearing that, his comrades started shouting out.

"With this, we can put drink on the table!"

"Oy, anyone up for the card table with me?"

"It's women for me!"

Seeing his men so loyal to their instincts, Albano formed a smile on his face. But inside, he clicked his tongue, and looked on with disgust.

(Dammit! Each and every one of them is satisfied with the current state... we've finally moved from the bandit brigade stuff to adventuring, yet they've already gotten satisfied with that.)

Albano's party had been bandits from birth. The children of bandits, taught lock picking well before they got to reading and writing. And they were well drilled in the art of theft.

His comrade was still tilting his head.

"But I'm sure I saw it. A yellowy green light. I was sure it'd be peridot, you know..."

Albano looked at the comrade he'd smacked.

"Hey, get going already. Screw around anymore, and I really will cut your pay."

"W-wait up. I've got a tab running. Shirk off my pay and I won't be able to play around, Albano."

Albano kicked his back.

"Then hurry up with it!"

In his mind.

(Each and every one of them are ale and women and chance... I'll definitely graduate from this life one day.)

He held onto the wish of walking a decent road. Reaffirming that desire, Albano walked at the head of his party towards the room of the fifth floor...

-

-

-

... Lyle's party had returned to the base.

In the middle of the night, Novem woke up alone, and walked outside.

She looked up at the moon, and when she breathed out, her breath was white.

The coldness was only growing stronger, and she worried whether it would start snowing sometime soon.

"We have to stay warm. Perhaps we'll need to buy some more firewood."

While thinking of how worrisome it would be is Lyle were to catch a cold, Novem looked back to the moon.

Around, adventurers were making merry at the bars, and raising large voices at the tables.

Rejoicing at victory, lamenting over loss.

She could even hear the voices of the adventurers out buying harlots.

But Novem didn't think it too loud.

Aria would occasionally hide her reddened face, and complain she wasn't able to sleep. There were times Clara looked sleepy as well.

On Miranda's words, Shannon always went to bed early, so she would always look upon the scene in wonder.

Eva conversed with the other elves, and May happily rounded the food stalls.

No matter how loud her surroundings were, Monica functioned the same as always.

It would be strange to say everything was going on smoothly, but to Novem, everything was still on the favorable side.

Miranda seemed to be wary of her, but as long as that was for Lyle's sake, it was something for Novem to be happy about.

It's just, the thing that rose her anxiety...

(That peridot... could [Octō] be trying to say she's watching us?)