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Chapter 12: The Form of a Party

The Form of a Party

Having accepted Creit-san's request, I was carrying goods to Alette-san who had made camp on the fifth floor.

The movement speed of the overly-earnest Creit-san, was much slower than what we were used to.

The way they took rest, and even their movements were largely different.

But as their party composition was different, it would be stranger if they were the same.

My honest opinion:

(They're faithful to the basics, but they have their inclinations in battle.)

When they encountered enemies, holding them down with their prided armaments was how Creit-san's party did their business. Looking at the equipment they'd assembled, I couldn't help but picture a knight brigade.

(... And wait, they're too earnest.)

We proceeded down the Labyrinth that reproduced the interior of a cave, and after we'd reached the entrance of the sixth floor, we entrusted the cargo to Alette-san, and waited for them to confirm the contents.

Creit-san also stood, and checked to see there was at least the number of boxes they'd started with.

Alette-san looked at the list as she turned her eyes to the food supplies.

"Hmm, it's a little different from the order, but so be it. Creit, and Lyle-kun, I give my thanks."

She finished going over the supplies with a smile, but the one to object to it was Creit-san.

"Alette-dono, what do you mean by a little different? When we accepted them, we were told there was no mistake about it."

After a space of silence, Alette-san began to explain.

"... It's mostly because they didn't have the time to assemble it on the surface, I'll bet. It's my fault for not checking supplies last I ascended. It's gotten quite lively up there, so there's sure to be some items they couldn't have gathered. You won't hear me giving a complaint about it. Well, if you care so much about it, then I'll apologize."

Alette-san's apology wasn't enough to get Creit-san to back down.

"Couldn't gather? That's no good, is it not? Put out a request at once, and have us send down the needed goods. My party will go again, and..."

As Creit-san attested he would take up the request once more, Alette-san gave a bit of an annoyed smile, and waved her hand dismissively.

She seemed to understand how much of a pain that would be.

"There's no problem. We ordered extra to begin with, and with this much, we'll be fine to challenge the seventh floor's boss, I'm sure. I'll add it on next time I put in a request to you."

It also seemed she had plenty of goods to spare.

Creit-san grumbled.

"No, but... you have to deal with these things properly."

He sounded unsatisfied. Alette-san brought the list to her face to cover her mouth, and spoke.

"We put out a considerable reward for these requests. If we keep putting them up, we'll be at a loss. Also, if you plan to spend the night, you can borrow a place from us."

It seems it was round the time where we should be staying a night before returning to the surface. She checked the pocket watch hung at her waist, and informed me that it would be well into the night when we returned if we started back now.

The Labyrinth warped one's sense of time, so such clocks were a necessity.

(Maybe I should buy one too. They're expensive, though.)

Clocks durable enough to stand up to Labyrinth Subjugation were exceedingly expensive.

Hearing about the night's stay, Creit-san.

"No, we'll be fine with a bit of rest. We must return within the day."

We had arrived later than anticipated, and it would be dark when we got back.

(I wonder if Novem and the others are worried for us? And wait, this time was, how should I put it...)

Watching Creit-san's party up close was quite a benefit to us.

But I also believe I wouldn't want to work with him again. With different objectives, and rhythm... anyways, it was too frozen stiff to mesh.

There should be a limit to a lack of adaptability.

"I see. Then use any open space you want. Also, Creit, you should challenge the sixth floor onwards already. It's a pain for us alone."

On Alette-san's words, Creit-san indicated his refusal.

"No. We don't have our equipment together for that."

With a dubious expression on her face, Alette-san:

"I-I see. Ah, Lyle-kun, I have some small things to discuss, so could you stay a while? Your comrades as well?"

I nodded, and Miranda and Aria also nodded with tired faces.

Acting alongside Creit-san's party was quite tiresome after all.

"Then I shall go on break. Lyle-kun, don't be late for departure."

Watching his back as he left, Alette-san let out a deep sigh.

"Hah~, he's capable and earnest... but too much earnesty is just no good. And wait, good work carrying luggage all the way here with him. I doubt the pay was even that favorable for you."

The requestor herself looked quite perplexed at the fact we had tagged along.

It was only on a small scale, but when multiple parties worked together to fulfill a single request, it was common knowledge the reward would be cut down for each.

Aria spoke unpleasantly.

"It was Lyle's orders after all. More importantly, he really is way too serious. I think there're much better ways to go about doing it, you know?"

Alette-san laughed.

"That seriousness isn't something just anyone can pull off. But it's true that he's capable. He can seriously pull off any request, and while he may be a bit too caught up in his own methodology, look at it the other way, and he's highly careful, and reliable. Albano's party's polar opposite. I think those guys should learn a bit more of a sense of danger."

If you mixed them and stirred, you'd get a party of just the right temperature.

Miranda asked Alette-san.

"So you're going to challenge the seventh floor's boss as well?"

Alette-san's smiling face became just a little serious as she nodded.

"Yes, we plan to free up the floor in the near future. Albano's party should come down soon enough when they're out of money to play. I'm counting on you all as well."

And after the conversation with Alette-san ended, we took our break, and began our way back up to the surface.

... Slowly.

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When we got to the surface, it was dark as expected.

The town was boisterous and overflowing with light, but seeing the dark and cold sky made me truly glad we had completed the request.

From within the Jewel, I heard the Third's voice.

[Good work, Lyle. Now then, how was it?]

Probably talking about Creit-san's party.

I meekly tapped the Jewel, and let it roll. It signified my denial.

The Third laughed a little.

[Well I'll bet. It was different from your usual rhythm, so it was quite a chore, right? Well, I'll put off hearing your opinion on the matter to a later date, so for now, how about going to the guild with Creit?]

I left the empty Mini Porters to Aria and Miranda, and asked them to go back to main Porter's parking first.

And I had to accompany Creit-san to the guild to report the completion of the request.

(I'm more fatigued than usual. But Creit-san is...)

"Now shall we go, Lyle-kun!?"

With a refreshing smile, he held up his clenched hand to me with the thumb sticking out.

(This man's really energetic, isn't he...)

I found myself a little jealous.

This time around, we didn't fight any monsters, or collect any revenue from materials or stones, so I was just going to claim my share of the request's reward.

But there, I discovered a good side of Creit-san.

Without any arguments, he casually agreed to divide the reward in half. We were only the baggage carriers, and didn't work all that hard. He didn't try to say anything like that.

He was too earnest in work, and like this he was quite earnest with money as well.

-

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The next day.

We were at the spot we were allotted to sleep, looking over Monica's new and improved Mini Porter.

And wait...

"You made a new one?"

Standing there was a separate something entirely.

Standing there, was a boat-like Porter. Up to now, it was a rectangular box to store baggage, but it had somehow taken on a boat shape while we weren't looking.

Both sides of it even had fin-like mechanisms to push it through the water. Oars as well.

And those water propulsion mechanisms were courteously furnished on the other Mini Porters as well.

Monica brought both her hands to her hips, stuck out her chest in pride, and raised a high laugh.

"Ohohoho, have you witnessed it, Chicken Dickwad!? This is Monica's serious mode. With legs to make ground transport possible, and full capabilities to fulfill a boat's duty in water, I bring you the new and improved amphibious Mini Porter! Hah, I have no words to describe its lovely form."

Watching Monica embrace Mini Porter no. 3, everyone drew back a bit. We never expected her to go so far.

Clara timidly raised her hand to pose a question.

"Um, would it be impossible to take the other ones along?"

There, Monica explained she'd prepared rubber life rings to attach to the other ones.

"As long as you don't overload them, there shouldn't be a problem. And wait, next time won't you take me along!? I'll row with all my might! Monica shall become the engine for these children!"

(Then are those fins things just decorations?)

Looking at the furnishings on the Mini Porters' bodies, I ended up thinking that.

I looked at Monica and spoke.

"Eingeen? What are you talking about? But the eighth floor is also probably going to be filled with water, so what should we do about members..."

When I looked over my party, Eva averted her eyes.

"Eva? You..."

Hiding her face with both hands, her ears reddened as she spoke.

"I'm sorry. I can't swim. Ever since I almost drowned in a lake, I've been no good with water..."

Okay, so Eva's out of the race. Shannon was also shaking her head at full force.

"No way! Not going to any place with strange frog people! And I can't swim either!"

I hadn't been counting on her to start with, but in that case, May and Clara are...

Clara's face was quite pale.

"Eh? Clara?"

"S-sorry. I've never tried swimming before... and wait, my books on hand will get wet, so please let me off."

And I looked at May.

"Yes, I can swim. No, more so, I can just walk on water... there's no problem."

I smiled.

"Yeah, don't walk on water. I'm begging you, just keep it normal. Don't try to stand out too much."

There, the Fifth let his voice from the Jewel.

[Lyle, May's normal is largely different from your normal, and you...]

The lecture was a long one, so I'll omit it.

Anyways, by process of elimination, the roster looked like this.

Novem.

Aria.

Miranda.

Monica.

May.

... With those five and me, we'll likely end up challenging with a party of six.

Looking at the amphibious Mini Porter, it looked about big enough to carry six. IF we loaded the luggage onto the remaining Mini Porters, there shouldn't be a problem.

Yes, there wasn't a problem with the members challenging the Labyrinth. The problem lay with the ones staying behind.

"Well, six is a good number. But will the three of you be fine by yourselves?"

Seeing the remaining members, I became a little worried.

I couldn't expect much from Shannon, and Clara's small build looked somewhat unreliable. Eva was probably going to hit the town looking for fun.

(It's not like all adventurers are good people, and when I think of what could happen, it's quite worrisome. I don't want to have to worry about the surface while in the Labyrinth.)

As responsible ones, I'd like to leave Novem or Miranda behind, but...

It was there, that Miranda offered a proposal.

"It really is worrisome. How about leaving May? She's reliable, and I'm sure she can stay quiet in the short span we'll be away."

Hearing that, May took a single glance at Novem, before focusing her eyes on me.

I addressed Miranda.

"Eh? May? Will that be alright?"

While her small form looked unreliable, May was a Quilin. She was reliable as a fighting force, and even if you left her alone, she could manage just fine in battle.

A fed-up Aria:

"And wait, aren't Novem and Miranda the right people for the job here? If you don't want to, I can stay."

I thought.

(Aria does perform well in the Labyrinth. But on the other hand, if you leave her be, I don't really think she's...)

When I lost myself in thought, perhaps hating being thought of as unreliable, May raised her voice.

"Wait right there, it's not like the only thing I do is buy and eat, you here. If you ask me to protect this place, I can at least do that. So fret not, and go. Ah, but... leave some food before you go, okay?"

Monica sounded delighted from inferring she was going along.

"Yes, I'll at least leave food for you all. And wait, how many days should we expect?"

Inside my head.

(No, just go to the food stalls, won't you? Why is it that she does it at all times but now? Normally, wouldn't this be the perfect time to do so?)

Parties returning from the Labyrinth were too tired to bring themselves to prepare food.

It's not wrong to say the food stalls existed for their sake.

I scratched my head as I spoke to everyone.

"This time, we'll be pressing on with the opening of the eighth floor in our field of vision. We'll be earning with the eighth floor at the center, but I'm also thinking of challenging its boss. The plan is for around five days."

That was taking a day to go and another to return. A three day period of scoping out the eighth floor, and beating its boss.

The problem was the high probability of the enemies being suited for underwater battle, but...

(Well, the Second's Skill and weapon should be able to handle it. And it's about time we looked to take down a big one.)

Since coming here, we've done nothing but be surprised of our surroundings. But as an adventurer, if you didn't earn money, there wasn't a point.

At the same time, I wanted to fight a boss of the Labyrinth.

To be selected for the next time. I have to make sure they consider us a plausible fighting force. Not just by the guild, but by the surrounding adventurers as well.

Novem voiced her approval.

"If Lyle-sama says so, then so be it."

Miranda turned her gaze a little towards Novem.

"Very well. And shall I carry a spear as well? Aria, let me borrow your spare."

Aria to Miranda.

"Don't break it. I just had it replaced, and that's even an easy spear to use."

Monica, with it being her first participation in a while.

"Fufufu, just you watch. I, Monica, shall once again prove myself to be the sole healing factor in this squadron of Amazons. And the prospects of wiping down a drenched chicken with a towel are quite... oh, my drool is..."

With that being the case, this time's Labyrinth mission was...

Me.

Novem.

Aria.

Miranda.

Monica.

... The five of us.

Fourth Generation Head ([email protected][email protected]): "Recently... Lyle's ability to let things slide has been on the rise. How boring. Ah~ won't you become dear mr. lyle sometime soon?"