10-35. Selection Test
Satou's here. In recent games, urgent quests that suddenly appear as time-limited quest with their tedious work has given me a bit of stress. Yet an urgent quest in real life feels like a mere bothersome work that's been pushed into me, I wonder why is that?
It's been three days since I eliminated the fiend drug users. Besso and the explorer who were in possession of the fiend drug have been captured by the guild, but there is no surprise attack since that incident.
The next day, by the guildmaster's request, we went to Rudaman's hideout and the cultivation fields, but those places had already been vacated and only uninhabited field remained. I'm the one who have made it uninhabited so there's no mistake. The guild staff onee-san who was going with us only collected the Ruin Weed and Decay Stem as evidences, and then we went back to the labyrinth city.
"Then, the field you found had been emptied huh?"
"Yes, since foodstuff and daily necessities were also gone, they might have moved to another place."
"We also searched for something like hidden rooms, but there was no one remaining just like chevalier-sama's said. They weren't moved by the lost thieves mastermind since there were unharvested ruin weed and decay stem that remained, maybe they might have ran away by themselves?"
The guild staff onee-san who had gone together with us in the investigation is reporting the result in the guildmaster room.
"We also tried searching the neighboring passages with magic, but we couldn't find anyone."
"That so, thank you for your hard works."
"Should we dispatch explorers again to search for the abducted people?"
"Think of the place, the place. The only ones that can search in such a deep area like that are the Red Iron bunch. Even if they were running away on their own, they would have ended up eaten by monsters before they could reach the surface."
It seems the guildmaster has decided to give up on rescuing, or rather searching for those people.
"They might have been unexpectedly saved by some explorers and returned to the surface."
"That would be nice."
"I also think that the possibility is low, but I wish that they have safely returned to the surface and gone back to their peaceful life."
"I pray that there isn't anyone with compounding and alchemy skills."
While vaguely sweeping off my words, the guildmaster said so.
"Is there something bad about it?"
"Yeah, it's bad. Someone who has the Alchemy skill must be involved in the creation of the fiend drug, even the one who has the Compounding skill should be able to prepare for the making of fiend drug. These guys will most certainly be forced into becoming slaves and made to be in non-disclosure condition to prevent them from divulging the method to make the fiend drug, after that they will probably be confined in the kingdom research facility their whole life."
"Are the other people who are involved in the cultivation alright?"
"Yeah, putting aside the Ruin Weed, Decay Stems can be found in the labyrinth relatively easy so there should be no problem."
Fumu, that means I can release people besides the ones with Compounding or Alchemy skills before long.
Then, the guild staff-san reservedly interjected.
"What? Say it?"
"People normally don't think of breaking through the labyrinth where monsters are crawling, away from their safety zone, I think such an idea comes up because guildmaster and chevalier-sama are strong. Even if there are some people who come up with the idea, the majority won't move unless there's a reason like having limited food. In actuality, they have crops from the cultivated field."
"In other words, there must be secret hideouts nearby where they can move safely to huh?"
"Yes, there might be hidden passages that couldn't be detected by the young lady retainer of Chevalier-sama."
"Then I guess I'll torture Rudaman until he spits it out."
Looks like the guildmaster is going to torture Rudaman after this, but since it doesn't seem like she'll kill him, let's not mind it.
I acquire the consent of the women sheltered in the mansion of ivy to stay there by saying that it's because "They will be killed by the mastermind behind the lost thieves if they get out right now". Strangely enough, there were only a handful of people who persistently wanted to go back to the city, most didn't seem eager. I tell them to be patient for 10 days. I'll do something in the meantime.
At the present time, these women are unlikely to be eliminated by the mastermind.
According to the guildmaster's story, I can probably release the people who don't have compounding or alchemy skills. Since the fact that this is the mansion of ivy have been known to them I can't release those people right now. It should work out somehow if I bring them to populated places nearby the royal or the duchy capital, or maybe some villages in Muno barondom and then give them a new name and ID.
I should search some places that can accept them.
"Do you want to become an explorer~!?""
Amplified with Mia's magic, Arisa's voice is echoing through out the labyrinth city's outer wall. We're currently in a temporary tent right outside the labyrinth city.
100 baggage carriers who aspire to become explorers have gathered before Arisa. We're going to decide the pupils for Iruna and Jenna of Beautiful Wings from among them.
There are 70 boys and 30 girls. They're children who have gathered after hearing publicity talks from Iruna and Jenna during the past three days. Although I said children, the age range spans from 10 to 18 years old. The mean age range is at around 12-14 years old.
Iruna explains the selection test to the children with her voice alone without relying on magic.
"We will choose 15 children among you. First we will choose five children with fast legs. It's important to have fast legs in the labyrinth for scouting and luring monsters. Run once you hear this flute as a signal. The first five children who run around Selbira outer wall for a lap pass."
The children began to run when Arisa blew the flute. Some got their feet entwined by other's foot, some were tumbled by their own feet. The one thing they have in common is that every one of them stands up on their own without crying even while covered in dust, and run. They're truly strong-willed.
I used [Clairvoyance] magic along the way to see if there were any fallen children, but there were only two who had fallen from anemia. I contacted Nana who was patrolling with a horse by using [Telephone], and had them withdrawn.
For some reaosn, Pochi and Tama had somehow started running too. They must have been tempted. Pochi was the winner by a wide margin. Tama was unusually worked up and challenged her again.
When the two had finished running, I looked back at the winning children who had been passed quite far.
"Damn, to lose to a dogkin and a catkin children. It's a disgrace for a rabbitkin."
"I can't believe I lost to someone beside Usasa."
The first and second place winners looked at Pochi and Tama in frustration. They are 14 years old rabbitkin girl and boy. These children are separated quite far from the third place. The third place is a ratkin, while the fourth and fifth are human boys.
There are 10 children who have failed the first test. These 10 children are doing physical exercise lead by Lulu to build their stamina nearby the temporary HQ.
The second test will begin after a short break with sandwiches. During this break, we distributed water for re-hydration and baked sweets for calorie intake. It'd be troubling if they faint from hunger along the way.
"The next one is endurance run. The first five children who have ran five laps around the Selbira outer wall pass. Lunches are waiting for the children who have ran for more than two laps. Do your best."
For some reason, the answer this time have more power in them than the first time. I intended to let them eat unconditionally for the test this time since we had already prepared meals for 100 people from the beginning, but since it was so effective like they have a carrot dangling in front of their eyes, I couldn't intercede. However, besides the leading pack, many children who were unlikely to be chosen by the selection members stopped running after two laps.
The boys were strong for endurance marathon too, there were three boys and two girls. This time humans were strong, among the five children, three boys and girls who had dark-skin like Roji were particularly strong. They looked calm enough to run several more laps.
The remaining five children will be chosen after the meal break. By the way, the meal menu is croquet made from Leaping Potato and insect meat, and Walking Bean with insect meat soup.
The meal this time were prepared not only by Ms. Miteruna and the seven apprentice maids from our mansion, but also five baggage carrier girls who could cook. I'm planning to have Ms. Miteruna taught these five girls, and then permanently employ them as personnels for food distribution on the orphanage and the slum. They are plain and honest girls who are at 14-18 years old.
"Well then let's begin the last test. Use the twig we have distributed earlier like you would a sword. Yes, stretch out your elbow. Keep that posture, the one who doesn't lower their arm until the end passes."
Screams broke out from the children, but this is a selection to choose the last five children with will-power. It's out of question if they can't even endure the training before entering the labyrinth.
The majority of them fell in the first one hour, but it was quite long for the remaining seven, once the last one dropped out after three more hours, the five children had been decided.
The final selected members have 11 boys and 4 girls. The plan is to have Iruna and Jenna teach these children the basic for 10 days on the surface, afterward, five of them are going to be taken alternately in three turns into the labyrinth, each group spend five days, 15 days in total, to be leveled up to level 7.
Since the contract with Iruna and Jenna is for three months, the children who have failed in the test this time still have two more chances.
"Everyone, thank you for today! We will open the test again next month, so to the one who have failed this time, please don't give up!"
With Arisa's closing words, the disqualified children go back to the west gate in groups of twos and threes. Everyone is given three baked sweets as the consolation prize. These sweets seems to become the spreading bait for the children who didn't participate this time.
Iruna and Jenna explain the plan hereafter to the children who have passed. There were shouts of joy particularly when they heard that they were going to be provided with three meals and were free to ask for second.
The children are going to be drilled on the vacant land nearby which I've borrowed.
I was going to give the selected children the same ant armors that I had given to Iruna and Jenna, but Arisa strongly objected and warned me. You should not give them cheat equipments if you're going to let them become an independent explorer after the training is over, unless you're making them into your retainers.
Not only Arisa, Iruna and Jenna also stopped me. The reason is a bit different; if they have an armor that protect them from getting hurt from a monster's attack, they will neglect avoiding attacks. Moreover, if they don't get some slight wounds, they won't learn the way to stop bleeding during an actual fight, so I'm told that such armors will not let them learn the importance of them.
When I consulted to Iruna and Jenna about the right equipment for the children, they recommended the equipment called bone equipment. They seem to be goblin bones that are knitted on jacket and trousers made from knitted grasses. It seems the basic equipment advancement for labyrinth explorer is as follow : wood chips equipment to bone equipment to insect husk equipment and then to insect shell equipment.
As for the weapon, the plan is to have them use a club made from goblin thighbone, and then a short spear made from ant claw from the second area on. For the shield, it seems they're planning to use leather shield. Iruna and Jenna bought these equipments cheaply from the apprentices at the shopping district. I've revised some of the weakly-made points, so they shouldn't incur major injury from low level enemies.
By the way, the two currently use mantis-type equipments. They were very happy when I gave it as a present for the celebration of getting to level 15. Apparently, mantis-type equipments are proof of veteran in the labyrinth city. I probably shouldn't say that they only look different on the outside, as compared to the ant equipment from before, there's hardly any difference in the defensive power.
Now then, if I need permissions from the Marchioness and the guildmaster to hold regular food distribution in the city, let's get them to issue it.