The two members of <Willard> went straight in the bath after returning.
And just as the they started having dinner, <Grindam> came back.
"Oh, you two got here before us."
"Welcome back, Yoana-san. And Tsuinga-san, Bruska-san too."
"Yoana-san, we have gotten to floor 92 as well."
"Now that is a surprise all right."
"Hold on a minute. Are you saying you have conquered both floor 90 and 91?"
"That is most impressive. Which party were you exploring together with?"
"Oh it's just the two of us."
"Kakaka. That is doubtful. Well, it is all right if you do not wish to divulge."
"It works out great then. The party we went with is completely worn out, you see. They're planning to take a break from exploring for a while."
"Then how about you take a day off tomorrow and go diving together with us the day after? Let's find some rooms and see how well we work together, if it looks like it's going well, we can then go find some giant variants to beat up."
"Sounds good. How about it, you two?"
"Is that all right with you, Lecan-dono?"
"Then let's go with that plan."
Nark's heart was pounding as he listened to them.
They're finally going through with the cooperative diving.
The day after tomorrow will make it clear whether <Willard> has truly reached floor 92 or not. If they really did, they must be lying about not having dived in this dungeon before. On the other hand, if they lied about reaching floor 92, the reason for making up such a lie would be laid bare.
On the rest day the following day, the three <Grindam> members spent their time mostly sleeping.
Lecan and Arios went to town. They didn't come back in the noon.
Nark imagined all kinds of scenarios playing out with the cooperative diving all day long.
And then the 30th of month 1 came.
The day of cooperative diving.
The five all went out together.
Nark spent the entire day worrying how it would end.
"Ah hey. Just what are you fidgeting around for?"
"Zip it. Leave me alone."
(Come back intact now, Bruska, Tsuinga, Yoana.)
(Lecan, and Arios too.)
(All of you, just come back in one piece.)
They didn't return on the fourth of Water Buffalo period.
The five hadn't returned even when it was at Yellow Frog period either.
All dine-in customers had gone home, the dining room fell silent.
Nark's irritation and anxiety reached climax at two of Yellow Frog period.
That was when he heard a noisy group coming closer, the voices sounded familiar.
(Is that <Grindam>?)
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
The door was opened with a bang.
"We're back, Nark-san!"
"We have returned."
All five came inside one after another. The three <Grindam> members looked awfully cheery. Arios is all smiles. Lecan has his trademark sour-look as usual, but he doesn't look to be in a bad mood.
"Nark-san. We finally did it."
"We broke through floor 94!"
"I sure am hungry. Do you have got food left?"
"Y-yea. Oy! Nell! It's mealtime! For five!"
"I hear you."
The five toasted with white wine.
One bottle of white wine was just enough for five cups.
One toast was not enough, they did another two after.
Three cups of wine disappeared into their bellies each in no time at all.
"Nark-san. Breaking our floor record is nice and all, but we've got something even better."
"We got five drops of Grace Gear."
"How much do you think they fetched?"
Which means they've gone to the trading corner.
"It's one platinum coin and two big gold coins."
"Awesome, right? Every one of us got two big gold coins and five gold coins. Three toasts are nowhere near enough."
<Dungeon of Swords> is ill-suited for beginner adventurers.
Partly because of the tough upper floors, but the biggest reason is its income sources.
White Spectres don't have any part that can be sold. So your main source of money is magic stones, and the content of treasure chests. Since potions are often kept for personal use, your earning ultimately depends on the quality of weapons that get dropped.
But treasure chests don't drop often on upper floors. The drop rate gets better the deeper you go down. And those treasure chests contain better weapons the deeper you go down. By the later ends of floor 90s, you can sometimes find weapons that fetch one platinum coin or more in chests.
But getting your hands on Grace Gear means you have to beat magic beasts holding those gear. Naturally, the beasts bearing strong Grace Gear are tough customers.
As such, it's customary to retreat whenever you first reach a new deeper floor and find the enemy tough, then you have another go at it after some time.
When you're looking to earn income, you climb up a few floors above your deepest one and go around rooms there defeating magic beasts until you get weapons with good graces.
Yet these five managed to obtain Grace Gear worth more than one platinum coin on top of breaking their deepest floor by two levels. That is truly a shocking wonder.
Joy and relief swelled up as Nark came to himself from the shock.
<Willard> wasn't a liar. They're a genuinely competent party.
He's still unconvinced about them having been to this dungeon before. But that doesn't matter anymore.
Nark and Nell got roped in as things got more lively.
Several bottles of liquor got emptied.
Nark's worries have been completely blown away.