10-9. Labyrinth Exploration (3)
Satou's here. I've done some explorations in dungeon-exploring game without preparation before, but in real life, the problem with food and water is real and loom over you. Though in the other world, the problem of drinking water can be solved with magic.
There are only 10 Labyrinth Ants (Maze Ants) now from the 32 ants before. Halfway through, some ants that Nana had failed to handle almost surrounded Pochi and Tama, but Arisa and Mia supported with magic from the rear and managed to avoid further problem.
"Tama! I'll make a wall on the left, so attack from the right. Right is the direction with the fork!"
Arisa's magic, [Isolation Wall (Deracinator)] is particularly effective. Looks like the more advanced version of this magic, [Maze (Labyrinth)] can create isolation walls that form a maze which arbitrary lock enemies within. It seems the magic power consumption for that is quite large, but she's said to me that she'd like to try it when the trailing ants have caught up.
The female explorers party whom we have saved earlier are still around. After those girls understood that assistance is unnecessary, they begun to intently watch the vanguard's battle. Judging from the words of admirations that occasionally leak out of them, they're probably fascinated.
Although the main body of the ants swarm won't be arriving in another 10 minutes, a group of ants are closing in to here from the monster-only passages that connect to this corridor. It's a group with little over 20 ants.
"There are sounds coming from the other side of the wall nodesu!"
Looks like Tama and Pochi have detected the crawling ants in the wall while they're fighting. They've done well to do that while having such intense battle.
"Satou, sign monument."
I look at the place where Mia points from atop of the ramp, the light is flashing red and blue like it's going violet. I wonder if it's reacting to the enemies who are coming from the other side of the passage?
"Noble-sama, that's the sign of the gushing holes creation. Monsters will come out of those holes."
The leader of the female explorer party warned me so.
It's not from the main battlefield of Liza and the others, but around the sign monument behind us. The passage wall that look like stone wall in a glance is thinning out like mucous membrane, turning into small passages.
Now then, I guess I should take care of this one. I draw out the fairy sword and cut the ants that gush out of the wall in half with a single stroke of the sword. I took care as not to cut the magic cores in half.
A small passage has also been created behind the female explorers, and an ant is crawling out of it. I warn them about it since they don't seem to notice it.
"You there, behind you."
"Eh? There's a gushing hole here too! Jenna, let's do it."
"Yes. You two, please get away."
The carrier sisters follow Jenna's words and withdraw to the back.
About this female explorers party, [Beautiful Wings], Iruna the leader is level 8, and Jenna the beauty-san is level 6. The crawling ant is level 5, so they should be able to easily win.
Or so I thought, but they're having a hard fight.
They thrust their short spears while blocking the ant's attacks with their shields, but the ant's outer shell repels the attacks, and they don't seem to give it real damage. They should have aimed for the gaps on the shell like Pochi and Tama do.
Since the ant was showing a sign of attacking with acid toward the beauty-san, I picked up an ant's claw from the remain below my feet, and threw it to the ant's neck to disturb it.
I took out a tongs from the bag, used it to pick up magic cores, putting it into a small bag.
Liza and the others' fights seem to be over soon too. When I looked back at the female explorers after finishing collecting magic cores, they were still in the middle of attacking and defending against the ant, so even though it might be meddlesome of me, I cut the neck of the hissing ant, ending the battle. This much should be normal for a level 30 magic sword user.
I reply the girls' thanks by lightly waving my hand, and then head toward Liza and the others who have finished their battle.
"Master, should I commence the materials collecting?"
"Just the magic cores is alright. The ant's shell is soft after all, so there is no use for that."
"Master, the shell should be usable for making armors or weapons. I believe that the claw should be better suited for daggers or sickles rather than spears since it's slightly curved."
It seems that in Liza's hometown, materials from ant monsters are highly valued for making tools.
Although it's weak enough to be broken by normal iron swords, it seems that there aren't enough material for making equipments since the people here even use wood chips for armors, I guess it might be good if we bring the ant materials to the above ground?
"We won't have meat festival nodesu?"
"Let's not. Ant's meat is bitter and it's not delicious. There are some cases where children get food poisoning when they eat it too."
Food poisoning is scary.
I feel sorry for Pochi and Tama who look disappointed, but I'll treat them to some meals that I've stored in the Storage later, so please put up with baked sweets and water for now.
"Noble-sama, here it is."
"Isn't that from the one you two have defeated? If it's for reward, your words from earlier are already enough."
Iruna the female explorer presented a magic core that seemed to have been taken from the ant, but I pushed her hand back.
"Rather than that, you should escape soon. My companion's magic has caught wind of a swarm of maze ants coming here. They will get here in less than a quarter of half an hour."
"Noble-sama won't run?"
"We'll escape after we've appropriately kept them."
I implicitly said that it would be better for us if you escape. The female explorers finally sluggishly got up and begun to escape. I catch sight of the ant nectar jar that the older sister carrier carries on her back. The ants might be chasing after that unexpectedly.
Now then, more than that, let's prepare for the next battle.
I gather everyone and replenish their magic power with [Magic Power Transfer (Transfer)]. It's quicker than using magic recovery potion, and above all, it's free.
While I'm at it, I use [Soft Wash], and [Dry] to cleanly wash off the ant's blood.
"Then, I'll set up the 『Maze(Labyrinth)』 from here to the corner over there okay."
"Can you make wall that won't let them pass but let our attack pass?"
"Nn~ I do have 『Isolation Cage <<Deracinator Jail>>』, but the enemies' attacks will also pass through it, so it's not suitable for enemies that use long-range attack you know?"
"No problem, first, everyone will attack with Soft Shotgun, and Mia will use 『Water Screen』 to block the enemies' acid attacks."
After the briefing is over, Arisa uses [<<Deracinator Jail>>] to create a lattice. Since it's radiating dim light, I can see the shape of the lattice. Stabs and shots can pass through it, but slashing attacks will probably be stopped by the lattice.
I set up [<<Flexible Shield>>] just in case. It's an insurance for when some acid attacks that pass through the lattice can't be defended by Mia.
"They've come nodesu."
"Everyone take your position~?"
Everyone is readying their shotguns behind the impromptu defensive wall that's been created by piling up the ants' remains with cloth on top.
The large swarm of ants show up from the corner and rush here while resounding their hard legs' footsteps. It's quite intense even though we have the magic lattice. Mia and Lulu have leaned to me on both sides, looks like they're scared. I pat their heads to sweep their worries away.
"Wait a bit more."
The ants vanguard crash into the isolation cage, scattering their bodily fluids. Looks like the vanguard ants can't stand the weight of their friends behind, their health have been greatly reduced. There are black insects squiggling in front of the lattice, it's become a sorry sight.
After waiting for around five minutes, all the ants have gathered in this corridor.
By my command, the seven gun muzzles incessantly rain down countless buckshots. I secretly adjust everyone's muzzle with [Magic Hands] to make it hit as many enemies as possible.
"Nana, Pochi, Tama, put down the gun. Prepare for close combat."
The shootings are finished, and Arisa invokes [Maze(Labyrinth)].
Afterwards, the monster extermination process is as simple as the vanguard defeating ants and then Arisa lets out some other ants. Nana and Pochi sometimes got caught with the ant's attack, but their armor and mantle kept them from taking damage.
The vanguard aren't the only ones busy, the rear guard is also busy. Looks like managing the maze is hard for Arisa. Too many enemies have gathered on one section of the maze, so she's adjusting the maze's path. Mia is working hard to follow up with [Bind Mist] when there are too many enemies, and [Blind Mist] to decrease the enemies' accuracies.
I'm free since I'm only watching everyone, so I use [Magic Hands] to gather the defeated ants alongside the wall.
Since Lulu doesn't have anything to do after shooting the shotgun in the first attack, she's begun to retrieve the magic cores of the ants I've gathered. She's not only wearing mittens, but also an apron and a hood so her hair and clothes won't get dirty while working. I told her to be careful about the acid gland on the ant's mouth so she wouldn't get burned.
After they've defeated around half of the enemies, the vanguards look very tired so it's better if they take a short break I guess?
"Arisa, I want to let the vanguards rest. Do you have enough magic power to maintain the maze?"
"Okay, it'll be dangerous if they become lightheaded after all. I can reduce magic power consumption if I only need to maintain the maze state, so it's alright if I just drink some MP recovery potion later."
"Alright, then let's take a break after they've defeated the enemies they're currently fighting."
Pochi and Tama vigorously said, "Not yet~" and "I can do it nodesu!", but they were visibly staggering, so I made them drink water and sandwiches with salted ham and a lot of mayonnaise.
Since everyone is young, they have become like different people just after taking a break and napping shortly for 30 minutes after the meal. Arisa has recovered her magic power after a bottle of MP recovery potion and [Magic Power Transfer], so the second round begins.
It seems that the ants who didn't come here were rioting all over the first area of the labyrinth, but the female explorers party from before had safely got out of the labyrinth.
After the ants have been completely exterminated, Pochi and Tama fall down from depleting their stamina, but since their faces look like they've fully accomplished something, I consider it a good thing.
Since Liza and Nana were also totally exhausted, I decided to rest on the temporary camp at the higher ground where Arisa and the others were positioned. Everyone seems to be really tired as they sleep like a log, I keep the night watch with Lulu.
Nevertheless, everyone has leveled up in one day.
Labyrinths are quite efficient after all.
Author's note: Mia and Lulu have leveled up by one, while everyone else by two levels.