Afterward, nothing in particular happened for the next 12 days.
Besides taking a day off twice, Lecan and Arios kept going into the dungeon every day before coming back a day later. In other word, they have a habit of staying overnight in the dungeon whenever they go in.
The three <Grindam> members appeared to think <Willard> were biting off more than they can chew.
That's only natural. In this dungeon there's absolutely no danger in turning back to the stairway and going outside from there, so if a party goes out of their way to stay overnight in a dungeon, they must be doing protracted battle. Meaning they must be fighting on floors that necessitate drawn-out tactic in combat.
Nark himself had stopped asking Lecan and Arios how far they have gone to. Not like he'd believe the answer anyway. Hence he won't even bother asking.
Both of them are agreeable guests, they don't ransack nor dirty their rooms. They seem to enjoy the comfort this inn offers, and seem to like the food here. Arios would verbally praise the taste, and while Lecan wouldn't say anything, he always savored the food served and never left any on his plates.
They paid for their stay, and paid for bath fee and liquor without fail.
Thanks to <Grindam> and <Willard>, all five of the rooms are fully booked. Many high-ranking adventurers tend to act like they own the place, but neither <Grindam> nor <Willard> are the type that throws their weight around.
<Grindam> sometimes eat out instead. That's inevitable as they also have other acquaintances outside the inn. When that happens, they will eat their share in the next morning. It cost the same as dinner, but they pay for it without complaining, and Nark himself has no problem with it.
As an innkeeper, this status quo is really desirable to him.
On top of that, his wife is in a good mood.
There should be nothing weighing down on his mind.
But the night that day, 26th of month 1, a conversation between <Grindam> and <Willard> greatly bothered Nark.
The impetus was Tsuinga's question.
"By the way, you guys. Which floor are you two exploring now?"
"We're on floor 90."
Nark spewed out the water he was drinking behind the counter.
"Wait, is that for real. That's the same floor as ours though."
"It really is. Wow, didn't expect that."
"What's your highest floor yet?"
"We just got to floor 90 today."
"Kakaka. I see. Just a warning, the Giant Variants on Floor 90 are pretty tough."
"Yep. We got to floor 92 ourselves. Wanna aim for floor 93 together once you two catch up to us?"
"Haha. That sounds nice. What do you think Tsuinga?"
"Kuhakaka. I mind not."
Nark shouted in his head as he listened to their conversation.
(Yer' just gonna believe 'em?)
(Those guys haven't even spent 20 days in the dungeon, y'know?)
(Guess <Grindam> folk have no idea 'bout that.)
(Must think they been exploring long before.)
(Staying someplace else before getting here.)
(These folk only started exploring this dungeon after coming to this inn!)
"Lecan-dono. What do you think?"
"Fumu. Since you asked and all, we'll be sure to tell you once we reach floor 92."
"Ooh! You do that. Kakakaka."
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
(Is this their goal?)
(Was cooperative diving with <Grindam> their goal all along?)
(S'that why they stayed here?)
(But then what're they planning on doing to <Grindam>?)
(Rather, they can't do cooperative diving if they don't reach floor 92 for real.)
(Which means they're on floor 90 for real right now?)
It's everybody for themselves in dungeons. A cooperative diving between two parties mean that the responsibility falls equally between every members of both parties. Since Nark isn't a mediator for the cooperative diving, there's no need for him to fuss over it. And yet he just can't overlook it when he considers the possibility of bad things befalling <Grindam>.
(I should at least leave some words to <Grindam>.)
Thus Nark decided in his head.
The dine-in customers eventually went home, and the five went back to their rooms.
The next morning, both <Willard> members went out early.
Bruska came down afterward.
Nark spoke to Bruska when he brought him breakfast.
"Those <Willard> peeps arrived at this town on the eighth this month."
"Eighth this month? Ah, you mean that was when they booked rooms here."
"No, I mean they started exploring Dungeon Tsubolt on the ninth this month."
"Hee. Really now."
"Don't ya give me that. They can't have blown through all 90 floors that quick."
"Ahahahaha. No of course not."
"They must have dived in this dungeon before that."
That's not how it looked like.
Considering the conversation that night, Lecan and Arios had never explored this dungeon before then. But how do Nark go about explaining that.
"That Lecan guy is not your ordinary man."
"Well yeah, figured."
"Arios is also quite something himself."
"Have you ever caught him standing still in the yard in the morning?"
"It's really amazing. I can tell. That guy is not some run-of-the-mill master of the craft."
"Well yea that might be true, but there ain't no way they got through 90 floors in 18 days."
"Of course that's not possible. So they must have visited this town many times before."
After getting told that, Nark who's a poor talker couldn't find a word to reply back.
"What are you worried about, Nark-san. It'll be fine. We've got three people, they've got two. We can simply cancel the cooperative diving if it looks like things aren't going well together. Besides, those two are no villains."
"Yeah I don't think they're bad people either."
At any rate, he said his part. He can only watch over what's going down next.
Then <Grindam> also went out.
That day, <Willard> didn't return, then evening the next day, they got back quite early.
Okami wa Nemuranai 28.11