They arrived at Palcimo in ten days time after departing Mashajain.
It was surprisingly fast considering they were riding a wagon, but it was quite a leisurely trip to Lecan.
This was done because they made frequent stops at choice inns along the way.
The southern half of Zaka Kingdom is far more prosperous than the northern half overall. Every towns have their own specialties with many establishments offering good food. Especially the route from Mashajain to Palcimo, it's a full line up of towns with good inns.
Manfrey Wazrof had ordered his subordinates to make a list of inns that offer good food and local specialties en route.
As such eight of those ten days were spent in inns.
Sometimes they would even arrive at an inn late at night. There were also establishments where they could not have stayed without reservations. However, the letter of introduction Manfrey prepared worked like a charm, allowing Lecan and Julius to enjoy delicious local specialties everywhere they stopped by. And the fact that every single inn had a bath facility also helped improve Lecan's mood.
Yet that good mood got blown away right as they arrived at Palcimo.
"What? The dungeon here can't be entered with just two people?"
"Yes. Did you really come this far without being aware of that? Dungeon Palcimo is a Multishaft Dungeon, it cannot be explored unless you have five persons in your party at the very least."
"Multishaft Dungeon? What the heck's that."
"Each floor has five shaft openings, and once you enter a shaft, you cannot turn back. The shaft will reveal its exit once you have defeated the magic beasts inside. And you cannot go to the next floor until all magic beasts in all five shafts have been defeated. There is no restriction on the number of people that may enter a shaft, but as a crowd will only hinder mobility, each shaft is usually dealt with by a few people."
Even if three people enter each shaft, that will require 15 people. Quite a large group for exploring dungeons. There were dungeons similar to this in Lecan's original world as well.
"Ah, I see. That kinda dungeon huh. Are all the floors like that here?"
"It applies up to floor 80. From floor 81 down, all members of the party will have to fight a strong foe after they took care of their own shaft."
"The Kind Office is right next to this building. By specifying the floor you're aiming for, number of members, and ability you want, we will introduce you to a suitable party once a day. If you decline, you may not use the service again that day. I don't believe anybody is still waiting at the Kind Office this late in the day however, and besides."
"To be honest with you, this town's explorers tend to avoid partying up with adventurers from outside. As such, most adventurers from outside town usually have a party of five or more already by the time they got here."
"Explorers, not adventurers huh."
"Most people diving in this town's dungeon have a day job, exploring would be a side job they partake every once in a while."
As it turns out, the majority of explorers in this town's dungeons are the townspeople themselves. A lot of them work in magic related fields, they dive in the dungeon to obtain materials, raise their strength or funds. A lot even fight only once in every dive. After all, fighting when their mana is still full is more efficient, and they could always do their day job while waiting for their mana to recover.
Thus there's only a few inns around this dungeon.
Adventurers from out of town do come also, but since you need a full group of mana bearers to even get in the dungeon, their numbers are few.
Just as Lecan was about to look for an inn and think about how to approach this again tomorrow morning, he recalled one thing.
"Oh yeah. I was told to hand this over to the dungeon's management once I got here."
Lecan handed over a sealed letter Manfrey entrusted him to the clerk. It's made of a fine wood paper, adorned with a luxurious piece of ribbon.
The clerk took the letter even while looking doubtful, then her eyes fell on the seal under the ribbon. Afterward, she noticed the watermark on the paper.
The motif of a Lightning Clad Lion.
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
"T-this, can it be."
The clerk alternately looked between Lecan's face and the letter with an awfully shocked expression.
"W-we shall contact the management at once. If you could please wait a moment!"
That clerk ran into the back room before hurrying out of the building.
After a while, the clerk earlier came back with a wagon. Lecan and Julius got on that wagon, to the townlord's mansion.
"You will be Lecan-dono then?"
"I am Toru Ciel, a nephew of Palcimo Lord, Elmo Ciel-sama, as well as the person entrusted to manage our dungeon. It is our honor to receive a visitation by a relative of Marquis of Wazrof-sama."
"Glad to hear that. Well met."
"Nice to meet you too. Now then, I hear that you're not one to fancy roundabout colloquy. Am I right to assume that you are here to explore our dungeon?"
"This will be your first time in this dungeon. According to the clerk, it appears you were not aware that you could not explore the dungeon with less than five people. How many days and how far do you plan on exploring?"
"That's to be decided once we're in. We may bail out early if we find it too difficult or not rewarding."
"Fumu. Which means, it might turn into a long term expedition if it isn't too difficult, or it's rewarding."
"Do you plan to take that boy with you?"
"Fumu. I take it both of you are mana bearers then?"
"Understood. You may use our service at the Kind Office, but you likely will have a hard time finding members. I have a suggestion."
"I'm all ears."
"I will prepare the members you are lacking. For a duration of three days as a starter. If you still have the will to continue after three days of exploration, you may go to the Kind Office to look for more members. My subordinates will ascertain your prowess in battle. They shall issue a letter of recommendation if they deem you capable of exploring this dungeon. That should make finding people easier at the Kind Office."
"Hou. That'd be great. I'll take up you up on your offer. Ah, this Julius will go in the same shaft as me."
"Ah, I see. He's under your tutelage. Then I shall arrange for four additional members besides the observer. Do stay in this mansion tonight. We will prepare your meals, drink and bath."
"We'll be in your care."
Good food, good drink and a spacious bath. There was a manual outlining Dungeon Palcimo left on the table in their room. Julius stayed and had a meal in the same room as Lecan. None of the servants showed their faces besides the times they brought in meals and led Lecan to bath. Lecan usually found staying in a mansion stickler for rules like this annoying, but either he had gotten used to it, or this mansion was an outlier, he had a good night sleep that day.