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Chapter 9: A Labyrinth Out of Control

A Labyrinth Out of Control

Having returned to Beim, I took the paperwork, and headed for the Guild.

Timewise, it was some passed three.

There weren't too many adventurers, but it felt even tenser than usual. At the receptionist counter, despite the sparsity of adventurers, the staff personnel were moving around quite hastily.

And while watching over them, I checked the bulletin to see if a Labyrinth had been found, but there was no such notice.

The other adventurers also talked amongst themselves over the panicked state of the Guild.

"What's this? Some war break out somewhere?"

"If it's Galleria and Rusworth, then that's the same as always, right? Did they pick a fight with Zayin and Lorphys? No, was one picked with them..."

"Isn't this a bit too busy for something like that."

If a war started, I knew the Guild that organized the adventurers would get busy. But I felt something different from that here.

I took my papers up to the third floor, and found it was the same as usual. I mean, it was an area of private rooms, and I couldn't find other adventurers or receptionists there. I couldn't hear their conversations, so there's no way I could tell a change.

But something did feel off there.

(Is it my imagination?)

As I thought that, I entered a vacant room, and the receptionist stationed there looked at me a little tense.

Feeling the mood, the Fifth from the Jewel.

[Is it going to get troublesome again? Even for that, the previous war didn't have this sort of air.]

The Seventh hated adventurers, so he laughed.

[Isn't it that some other country is invading them now? Beim needs to be beaten down once and put in its place.]

Milleia-san sighed.

[Good grief... really? Even when we have to let Beim survive for Lyle's sake.]

I was convinced she was also a person of the Walt House. I sat in a chair, and handed over the completed request documents to the receptionist.

The other party politely accepted them, and after taking a fleeting glance at me...

"Good work. Did you notice anything strange?"

"Something strange?"

I had to venture out quite far to complete this request. I also had the members staying behind take care of odd job requests, but there wasn't anything particularly strange.

I wondered if our party had done something, but there were too many things coming to mind, I really didn't know. And as I pondered it, the receptionist hurriedly spoke.

"No, if nothing, then that's fine. And could you come to renew your party members' Guild Cards sometime in the near future?"

I recalled I didn't renew them before setting off for the request, and it had been quite a while since we all went in to renew them together.

"Then when we come in for the next request. But I think we'll be resting for a while, so the occasion may not come up soon."

We had fulfilled numerous requests. Time-wise, we had a few weeks of leisure.

(And I wanted to try challenging Beim's Labyrinth too.)

Our income was getting better than before, but as expected, it wasn't what you could get from a Labyrinth. While I thought he would dislike the response, the receptionist's expression looked a little relieved.

And the Third didn't let that fact slip by.

[... Something's up. Investigate it at once. And Lyle...]

I tried asking.

"The Guild was quite tense, wasn't it? Did something happen?"

The receptionist's hand movements hesitated for a moment, but he soon gave a bitter smile.

"No, I'm sorry if it troubled you, but there hasn't been anything in particular... I did feel the air was strange as well, so I was thinking to ask the adventurers."

The receptionist made an appeal that he didn't know anything either, and I felt asking any more from him was futile, so I gave up. I could surely get it out of him if I used a Skill, but I didn't need to go that far for basic information.

(I'll have to go to Rauno-san's place later.)

The paperwork finished, I accepted the reward, and left the Guild.

-

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-

... The adventurers' Guild East Branch.

In the receptionists' rest room, the general workers manning the desks in nervousness and panic were flustered.

Marianne sat in a break room chair, resting the tea-filled cup she gripped in both hands on top of her lap.

If today were a normal day, she'd use this time to motivate herself. She'd return to the receptions desk letting out a fluffy air, and deal with the newbie adventurers.

Her shift was from dawn until dusk. There were plenty of new recruits, and in order to get them to take care of miscellaneous requests, her time was fixed.

There, a new receptionist entered the room with some candy in hand, and opened her mouth.

"Listen to this. They gave me candy again!

The receptionist with her shoulder-length hair tied up on both sides was, while still young, a girl in use by the Guild.

Her tone was light, but she was capable. And her features were favorable, so she was well taken to by the adventurers. Because of that, she often received snacks and candies from then.

One of the personnel looked at that, and gave a wry smile.

"It's not good to accept too much. They're not soliciting anything from you, are they? It'll become trouble down the line, so put a stop to it."

There, [Rühe] said that wasn't the case, and went on.

"He said he wanted me to accept it. It's a really skilled adventurer party, and he's the leader of it. His income is high and stable, and he himself is young and talented. He often makes use of my counter."

Meaning he thinks I'm cute. Marianne looked at Rühe, and didn't quite know what to say.

It's often the case that adventurers that frequent a counter come to trust its receptionist. Or they just choose to compromise. Rather than going to a different receptionist each time, it would be easier to choose one that understood one's circumstances to an extent.

It's not like all adventurers were without ulterior motives, but as long as you kept servicing clients at the receptions desk, it was only natural to get a few parties.

Marianne's circumstances were different, and she didn't have any regulars. For better or worse, she was only there to supervise new adventurers. Once they grew, she was taken off their duty, and was to change her treatment of them.

So in the truest sense, she couldn't have regulars.

A female receptionist in her mid-twenties gave Rühe a warning.

"There are times you have to hand out bad jobs, so make sure you don't get your feelings too deep into it. Otherwise..."

But the individual herself stopped the important warning part-way through.

"I know. But there are quite a few adventurers who'll listen if it's my request. They'll do troublesome stuff if it's me asking them, they say."

Thinking she had gong into bragging, the female receptionist gave a, 'well good for you,' and held back her advice.

Watching a male receptionist hesitate over whether he should take over, Marianne let out a sigh.

It's not like Rühe was irritating her or anything. Of all else, Marianne herself was once a Rühe-esque existence.

(Perhaps this is how they were seeing me.)

Thinking that, she drank down her tea, and left her cup on the table.

"Ah, come to think of it... senpai, you're still on newbie rearing, right? With newbie adventurers, they're nothing but dreamers loaded with ulterior motives, so you must have it hard. In the past, one of the adventurers you were in charge of came over to my desk. And it was quite troublesome when they called me cute."

As Rühe tried to pick a fight with Marianne, the surrounding receptionists made dubious expressions. But Marianne laughed.

"I see. Sorry for that."

Perhaps losing interest, Rühe sat, held out her candy, and began offering it to the other Guild personnel.

Marianne stood, and left the break room...

-

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-

When I returned to the mansion, I searched out Miranda.

I was going to head to Rauno-san's place, but whenever I went, it was customary to invite Miranda along.

The girl herself seemed satisfied with that, and on the way there and back, killing time with tea and shopping was the usual pattern.

I probed through the presences moving within the mansion, and headed for the place Miranda was.

"At this hour... ah, she's just come out of the bath, and is lounging around, I guess?"

When returning to Beim, the female members would generally, return to the mansion, and head for the bath. Unlike the bathhouse attached to the Guild, the fact this one could be used without the fear of bothering others was quite appealing, it seems.

It was needlessly vast, so maintaining it was a pain, but that part was managed by automatons with rough breath. For some reason, that space made them exceptionally excited.

(... The ancients that made Monica and co. were really perverts, weren't they.)

Now that they weren't around anymore, I didn't want to badmouth the deceased, but I couldn't really help it.

And as I was walking down the hallway, a voice called over.

It was Maksim-san. He walked towards me from the front with an expression that said he had been looking for me.

"Lyle-dono, so this is where you were. A guest was asking for you."

"For me? No, it's not something rare. Who was it?"

I stopped going in Miranda's direction, and turned towards the guest. And checking the surrounding Map Skill, I saw there definitely was one dropping by the manor.

Miranda had taken up my attention, so I hadn't been focused on too wide a scope of the map up to now. I hadn't notices.

As I walked next to the tall, muscular, armored Maksim, I felt I was quite scrawny.

"Who knows? But they seemed relatively busy. They are no acquaintance of mine, but Novem-dono was the one who let them in."

I thought it would be pertaining to Zayin or Lotphys, but in that case, Maksim-san should've been able to identify them as well.

And if Novem let them in, there shouldn't be a problem...

Right, there shouldn't be a problem.

"Novem, huh."

She brought a lot to mind. But the ancestors' reactions were the greatest one. Remembering them still hurt my head.

Third and up.

[Isn't it that? If it has something to do with demi humans, just leave it to Novem, and there won't be a problem? Isn't that an immense bonus?]

[The elves scattered across the continent, the dwarves and their numerous craftsmen. And the dexterous gnomes... add divine beasts onto that... this is it. With this, the probability of Lyle beating Celes has shot up.]

[But is that something you can place you expectations on? Personally, the talks of how Novem turned coat is bothering me... but no matter how you look at it, it's a story of centuries passed.]

[It's irrelevant. You must make use of everything you can. Because the overwhelming gap in war potential has barely been filled in at all.]

Milleia-san, in regards to the reactions of those ancestors.

[All of you really do have a screw or two missing I see. Your reactions are truly wonderful, thinks I.]

Hearing that, the Third laughed.

[Even if you tell stories of the age of goddesses, that has absolutely no relation to us. Besides, when the story gets too large-scale for you to understand, why not just think, if they're an ally, then who cares! If they're going to become an enemy eventually, then deal with it when it happens. Or have Lyle make them weak at the knees.]

I don't have a problem with working hard for Novem, but seriously, just what do these people think I'm supposed to be?

I shook my head, and saw Maksim-san was looking at me in worry.

"What is the matter, Lyle-dono?"

"Ah, no... it's nothing."

That's right. What the ancients and the goddesses did who knows how long ago isn't my problem. The problem is that I have a goddess' leftovers, and that their descendants are still around.

(... A goddess' leftovers, huh. Who was the one that said it?)

Celes' leftovers, a goddess' leftovers... when the ancestors said that, I couldn't say anything in return. Because in all truth, I had this and that stolen by her, and sealed.

(Even when there's a mountain of problems I need to resolve... I really hope this one doesn't turn into trouble.)

And that pure and honest sentiment was trampled into the dirt all too easily.

-

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-

The one who had come to the parlor was Tanya-san.

She wasn't wearing the staff uniform I saw her in at the Guild, nor was she wearing casual attire.

In a full suit, she looked somewhat nervous.

(Ah, I guess Maksim-san wouldn't know Tanya-san. Even if he's registered as an adventurer, we're the ones generally taking care of requests.)

As Tanya-san sat on the sofa, I gave my greetings, and sat down as well. At the side, Monica prepared tea, and Novem, who'd been talking with her before I came in was making a bit of a grim expression.

"Did something happen."

From Novem's expression, I could anticipate it was something that would be quite disadvantageous to our side. The Seventh opened his mouth.

[Oh? Did they come to pick a fight? Saves us the trouble. We graciously accept your petty squabble, adventurers' Guild!]

Why does he detest them so...

When I ignored him and looked at Tanya-san's face, she encouraged me to look at the envelope left on the table.

"This is information only known to a small fraction of the Guild."

Hearing that, I looked through the papers. It was what I had seen at Rauno-san's place before, the information on that village.

But the Guild's report said it was in quite a dangerous state.

Tanya-san continued on.

"The Labyrinth is going out of control. It's an event that hasn't happened around Beim for the past twenty years. It seems a retired adventurer who returned to his homeland is involved."

According to the documents, in the few weeks I'd been away from Beim, it had taken a considerable bad turn.

It was written that clearing the Labyrinth was impossible, and that Beim had already determined it would move on the defense.

Novem opened her mouth.

"... And that is quite an unfortunate result. But for what reason have you brought this talk to Lyle-sama?"

Novem glared warily at Tanya-san.

Tanya-san put Monica's tea to her mouth.

"Beim's adventurers' Guild... the Guild headquarters holds quite a high evaluation of Lyle-kun. They want him to participate in this defensive war by all means."

With not the East Branch, but the Guild Headquarter's name coming out, I thought.

(The fact that it's a mandate of the headquarters means it'll become quite a pain later if I go against it. But what's the meaning behind putting this much pressure on a single small party?)

There I heard the Fourth's voice from the Jewel.

[I see. They want to get Lyle, who had such an influence in Zayin and Lorphys, under their fingers. At the very least, will those two countries abandon their savior? You think Beim's trying to put down that pressure?]

There, the Fifth in a low voice.

[We're being underestimated. Even if they didn't stoop that low, we'd participate, naturally. Even if we didn't, I'm sure Beim would be able to pull through, but this is a chance.]

The fact these ancestors considered a rampaging Labyrinth a chance was surely because of the screws blown out of their heads.

The Seventh as well.

[A defensive battle, is it? We'll have to raise Lyle's name even higher. While we're at it, we can get Beim itself in our debt. But it will be troublesome if they use Lyle as a reason to drag Zayin and Lorphys in. There's no profit in it for those two.]

The Third spoke delightedly.

[Come to think of it, they both have a debt to Beim. Doesn't that sound interesting? How about we take the initiative to drag them in, and lower their dues. Yay! It's starting to get fun! The enemy will be an army of tens to hundreds of thousands of monsters! We'll need to prepare!]

I got the urge to hold me head, and looked down. It seems Tanya took that motion as my considering of a refusal.

I mean, if a Labyrinth went out of control, the Labyrinth would wither, but even so, it would spit out several tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of monsters before it did.

There have been many countries that have fallen from Labyrinths, and that was the cause of the difficulty in Labyrinth management.

Tanya-san spoke.

"It's certain that this time's request is a difficult one. But this time, there is a very important-"

"The one to decide will be Lyle-sama. Or did you think you could force us into it?"

As Novem held up her hand as if to intimidate Tanya-san, I raised my face.

(... I can't go about not joining in here, and if I can sell a favor, it's best I sell it. And Zayin and Lorphys need to pay back what they owe.)

I turned a smile to Tanya-san.

"Of course I'll participate. I, Lyle Walt, shall take a stand as Beim faces its time of crisis. For that sake, I'll first need to arrange for Zayin and Lorphys' cooperation! Leave it to me, I'll get their agreement at once. While I'm at it, I can be assured that Beim will pay a financial reward to those two countries, can't I?"

I checked beforehand, and Tanya-san's face stiffened.

"U-unless I consult with my superiors, I can't really say anything."

"Then you'd best get moving! Novem, prepare for war!"

"Yes, Lyle-sama."

Watching Novem stand with a smile and leave the room, I thought.

(... What exactly did she go off to do when I said to prepare for war, I wonder?)

We had experience in fighting on a small scale, but when it grew this large, I had no experience. Unlike my time with Zayin and Lorphys, we would likely be clashing upfront with monsters.

I looked at Monica nearby, who watched me in anticipation to see if I would issue an order to her as well, as I inclined my ear to the voices in the Jewel.

And in lament, Milleia-san looked over the fired up ancestors, and offered her take.

[They're really having fun in here. Are you having fun too, Lyle?]

(I'm not!)