"I beg your pardon. So you were aware of me."
"You've been tailing me since the tournament yesterday."
"Astonishing. I sincerely hope you find it in your heart to forgive me."
It was a young woman in an elegant looking dress.
She has a tall stature for a woman, her build is quite stout as well.
Lecan got all that from <3D Perceptions> but he was surprised when he saw the woman's face with his eye.
She looks like Norma.
Even though it's probably just a coincidence, the fact that she's got similar looks to Norma's brought about a sense of closeness.
This woman is neither a medical practitioner nor an adventurer.
Her carriage and word exude elegance, however there's something soldierly about them.
And most importantly, the sword belt and the sword on her waist.
The sword's grip is extremely well made, with a complex crest engraved on it.
Add to that, a metallic sheath.
No adventurers carry around something like that.
It's a knight's sword.
"I would like to consult you about something. Would you be willing to accompany me to a nearby restaurant and hear me out over a meal. Of course, it's my treat."
"Fumu. What do you guys think."
"Tea would be nice. I mean we just had breakfast just now."
"I'd have tea myself as well."
"Very well then, I know a place that serves good tea and confectionery."
Lecan looks at Eda after the woman said that, her eyes are sparkling.
"We're heading there."
The knightess called herself Heles.
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
"So you want to get in our party."
"I wish to accompany you until you have conquered the dungeon here."
"We're not gonna conquer this dungeon."
"Eh? Then how far, up to which floor do you plan on going?"
Lecan turned his line of sight at Eda.
"We're here to teach this girl about dungeons. And also this guy."
This time he pointed at Arios.
"This guy has never dived in a dungeon."
"So you were."
"That's why I'm not going to push them. Lowest floor ain't on the list."
"However, I have witnessed your capability, the strength that would afford your party reach the lowest floor."
Lecan sipped his little remaining tea.
"You can just ask a party that's gone to the lowest floor."
"I have. And they rejected me."
"How many parties present right now able to conquer the dungeon here?"
"<Vega>, <Jaira> and <Alcariz>, three parties."
"How many members each?"
"Six, five and five. But since <Jaira> has lost one of their members, they're a four person party now."
"Was it the healer who died."
"I suppose you can't replace him then."
"I'm a swordsman. I am incapable of deploying offensive magic or healing magic."
"But you've got mana."
"You could tell? I see you have some hidden ability on you."
A party is like a single creature, a party that has managed to dive into lower floors would have a sophisticated balance.
Just because you can run fast on two legs, doesn't mean getting an additional leg would make you run faster. That's not how running work.
The same with fighting. Having more members does not necessarily mean becoming stronger. In fact, it could lead to opening a weak point if it ends up breaking the balance.
Most party won't accept temporary memberships unless they're lacking too much in manpower. And even if a party did accept a temp member, that member would be someone they had experience going together with before.
"What do you wanna do on the lowest floor?"
"I desire proof that I have defeated the dungeon boss."
"So you want to conquer the dungeon huh."
Heles gave her reply after showing a slight hesitation.
"I have received a decree to serve a certain honorable individual at the Royal Capital. However, another individual who didn't agree to it put a condition on me."
She's probably divulged quite a lot of her side with that reply. Heles is thinking that she must obtain Lecan group's cooperation even if it means disclosing her side. Perhaps that's just how far she's been driven into the corner.
"I was given five months, however three months have elapsed since then."
"Did that disagreeable guy specify this dungeon in particular?"
"Not exactly. They never specified any one dungeon. However, choosing too small of a dungeon would be a disgrace to the personage I am going to serve upon. I have selected this dungeon after determining the honor I would get from conquering it would suffice while being reasonable enough for me to conquer."
"Don't you know anyone who could help?"
"The terms were for me to go alone without any aid from my house. However, I am allowed to hire temporary subordinates."
"Just hire either <Vega> or <Alcariz> if you've got cash. Then just buy that proof, whatever that is, off them."
"The condition won't be fulfilled unless I participate in the battle."
"Like that guy would know."
"Those who have vowed to knighthood cannot report falsehood in front of gods. Besides, that person will most likely request for the usage of <Bell of Truth (Saradona)>."
"<Bell of Truth>?"
Lecan has heard of that term before, but he cannot recall where and who said that.
Eda came to the rescue.
"It's a divine tool that exists in every temple, you see. Tell a lie and the bell will ring like, 'kaan koon'. Apparently, it's only usable once every year though."
Lecan was awfully surprised to find out about such a thing existing.
Heles looked at Eda with a slightly puzzled look on her face. She must find it weird for Eda to explain about something that's common knowledge to everybody.
"I see. So that's how it is. But there should be other parties that can conquer this dungeon even if they haven't done the deed yet."
"There are four parties capable of traversing to floor 44."
"Four huh. Can't you join one of those. You're paying them of course."
"One among those four made a declaration that they won't go to the lowest floor. Another party accepted me, and even though they brought me to floor 41, I knew that they had no real intention of conquering the dungeon despite what they were saying, coupled with some other circumstances, I left the party. They seem to have reached floor 44 just recently though. The remaining two wouldn't let me join them."
"Why won't that second party go to the lowest floor."
"This applies to every dungeon, but strength of enemies from floor 44 to the lowest floor including the dungeon boss are undisclosed. No one wants to die."
Come to think of it, there was nothing on the strength of Greatarm Ape (Ulgang) and some magic beasts on Dungeon Golbul either. That applies to every dungeon apparently.
"Then, your only option is to join a party a rank below those four."
"I have joined the two parties that hold such rank. However both wouldn't go further once they reached a certain floor."
"At the end of the day, middle floors parties only have enough strength to fight on middle floors. I gave up relying on the existing parties and went looking for new enthusiastic challengers instead."
"That's when you found us huh."
"I had an inkling that you were not just anybody when I first set my sight on you, but I couldn't believe my eyes when you swung around that exalted shield at that fraud tournament. To top it off, that curse breaking."
Heles lowered her voice here.
"I have witnessed a dagger of the same kind before. That is not an item you can just get anywhere. You must have acquired it with your own strength."
"Thus I presume that a party led by you would be capable of conquering this dungeon."
Her reasoning is sound now that Lecan has heard it. There's no suspicious point in particular.
"I get your circumstances. However, we have no intention on going to the lowest floor."
"You have never dived into this dungeon before, have you?"
"Then perhaps your party will end up reaching the lowest floor once you do."
"We don't need unnecessary pressures from your expectations."
"I'm pretty useful if I say so myself."
"I have gathered every information I needed to know regarding this dungeon before coming here. I have maps of all floors on me as well. I know every magic beast that spawns on every floor, including their ability. On top of that, I have real experience of diving up to floor 41."
That's valuable information. They could have opted to helping porters' earnings instead, but concrete information from an experienced person is priceless.
They may be better off without prior information if the goal is to teach Eda about dungeons. However, Lecan himself wants to get some good times fighting. It's also a good opportunity to teach her the importance of information.
"I shall reward you on every new floor if you let me join your party. I don't need magic stones, treasure chests or materials. In addition, I shall never coerce you to proceed ahead for my convenience. Please just explore at your own pace."
If she's going that far, might as well let this knightess go with them for a few floors.
Lecan has been slightly moved.
"Eda. What do you think?"
"Eeh? I-I. I don't really get it. You just do what you wanna do, Lecan."
Despite saying that, she keeps glancing at Heles. She's clearly sympathizing with Heles's circumstances.
"Arios. What do you think?"
"Of course I will abide by Lecan-dono's decision. However, what about a test if you're not sure about it? Just like you did with me."
"I take it that means you wish to see my skill in swordsmanship?"
"Fumu. I see. Let's talk with our swords first thing first. Heles. Any good spot for that in mind?"
"There is a practice room in Adventurer's Association."