18-28. A Boy in Labyrinth City (2)
"So many people here."
A bit after we parted ways with Greatshield Jel, we arrived at the white building in front of us--western Explorer Guild.
There's people everywhere you see here, I think even just the ones here are twice the populace of my village.
We got in the line with other explorer-aspiring kids.
"Is this really where we're supposed to line up for registration?"
"Of course it is. You're such a worrywart, Zaki."
"I mean look. Those people in front of us--."
"Have blood on their clothes. Doesn't that mean they just came out of the labyrinth?"
Gon and Zaki looked at each other when I pointed that out before they went to the end of the line.
"I asked. New registration goes over there."
"Eh, then what's this line for?"
"This one's for applying for the rookie explorer course."
I'm familiar with that course.
My little sister told me I absolutely must take it.
"Let's go, Sharon."
"Hold on, I'd like to take this course."
"Oy oy, we're here to become explorers, remember? This course thing is like studying yeah? Leave that stuff to village chief's sons or apothecary apprentices or something."
Gon forcefully dragged me away as he said that.
"But that's not true, gau?"
We almost jumped at the sudden voice behind us.
Turning back, there stood a giant dogkin in a blue mantle.
"Oy, look at that."
"Blue mantle-- 『Pendora』!"
"That's Gau the Storm Sword. And over there, that's Usasa the Galeslice Blade and Rabibi the Magic Arrow."
"The whole gang's here huh."
"Didn't those guys beat an 『Area Master』 on their own?"
"Seriously? Just beating the vassals is hard enough already, yer' telling me they got an 『Area Master』 down too?!"
Veteran explorers in the guild broke into a rustle.
"So noisy gau. Anyway, you ought to take rookie course gau. You'll be sure to have a better chance at surviving gau."
After saying that, the dogkin went to where other blue mantles gathered.
Another rustle broke out at the entrance.
"--It's the 『Fangs of Conflagration』."
Stoutly built explorers in the room timidly cleared the way for robust looking men to pass through.
"Damn, that's the whole line up of 『Fangs of Conflagration』 main force."
The man called Zarigon walked up to the blue mantle group.
Later on, I'm told chief here refers to the leader of a group of explorers. Apparently the previous chief, Asaku or Yaseku I forgot, retired and yielded the position to him.
"Glad you're coming, Usasa."
"'Course we will when it's you inviting, Zarigon-san."
Zarigon bumped fist with a rabbitkin with a wound on her face.
Zarigon and the rabbitkin joined shoulders and shouted out loud at the crowd inside the guild.
"Us 『Fangs of Conflagration』 and 『Pendora』 led by Usasa--"
"Declare here that we shall now begin an expedition to beat the 『Floor Master』!"
Hearing that, the crowd stamped around and cheered out loud with their fists high up.
Us and the other newbies unintentionally went with the flow and cheered together despite our confusion.
As the cheering grew louder and louder, flame sparks suddenly scattered down after a huge boom.
Looks like a fireball exploded around the tall ceiling of the guild building.
The explorers all shifted their line of sight to an elderly lady who probably shot that magic.
"Geh, it's the guildmaster."
"As dangerous as ever, that old hag."
The veteran explorers muttered in astonishment.
"Can't you guys keep it down, geez."
"Look who's talking. What would we do if the fire spread out."
"You think I'd make such a blunder?"
A slender girl showed up from behind the elderly lady.
Other veteran explorers started running away while saying, 'Oh crap, even Sebelkea-sama's here', 'Scramble, ain't no way I'd take Sebelkea-sama's punishment.'
I was a bit curious by how they were more afraid by the girl more than the elderly lady who shot a fireball inside a building, but there's no doubt she's a [Touch me if you dare] like my little sister, gotta be careful not to get close.
"Zarigon, so you've finally decided on getting another go after four years."
"Yea, we're gonna get our revenge before these young 'uns got us beat."
"Kajiro-san's gonna help out too this time, right Usasa."
"Yeah, indeed. Ayaume-san declined cause she gotta watch her kids, but Kajiro-san gave his OK."
As I was listening in to their conversation, someone pulled my sleeve.
"Now's our chance."
Urged by Rasa, we went to register at the counter that had been emptied.
"And that will be all. Sharon-san, you are officially an explorer now."
I grasped the wooden badge the receptionist handed me.
My adventure starts now.
"So this is an explorer badge... it's wood."
"It really is. There's only some random number written."
Unlike the emotional me, Keros and Gon looked disappointed.
"That's what it mean to be a temporary explorer. First we've got to beat monsters and collect five magic cores by the next month."
Zaki told Keros and Gon.
"Let's keep going."
Ignoring their disappointment, Rasa pulled us away.
We quickly applied for the rookie course as well, but apparently it was fully booked, the lecture for us would start in three days.
We also applied for a boarding house exclusively for rookie explorers use. One party only gets one room, but you can stay free of charge as the cost is subsidized by the viceroy and other nobles in labyrinth city.
"Thought those nobles are only good at squeezing us dry."
"Viceroy-sama had started investing in this around six to seven years ago. It was his excellency Pendragon-sama who convinced viceroy-sama to start investing."
The staff member wryly added that to Keros whose muttering got overheard.
"Let's go. To the second floor now."
Gon and Keros still intended to listen to the guildmaster, but Zaki and Rasa urged us to keep moving while the coast is clear and so we headed to the second floor. Apparently they have labyrinth maps here.
"This is the map for the first area. I've got mine already from copying it before, you guys should make your own too."
"This is a labyrinth--."
It's far bigger than anything I've imagined.
"Look there! They've even got monster stuffings!"
Gon got tired of looking at the map and ran at the stuffings display booth corner.
"They look real."
"Yea, I've seen gobu before, but everything else is new to me."
Even ants are gigantic in the labyrinth.
"We're gonna gamble our lives against these monsters from today on."
"That's correct. Thus it's important to study their weak points."
Rasa pointed at a board on the pedestals.
Written there are monsters' weak points and behaviors. The labyrinth ant I'm staring at apparently has a hard shell, ordinary swords would bounce off it. Thus you should stab at the joints connecting their shells.
"Alright! We're gonna do this! We're off to labyrinth stat!"
Gon who got excited after seeing the stuffings called out to us.
"But, we should take the rookie course before going into the labyrinth--."
--Said my little sister.
"Heck if I'm gonna wait three days! We don't hafta get deep inside! Just the outside!"
"Yeah yeah! I agree with Gon!"
"Also, I'm running short on cash, gotta earn my keep for food yeah?"
"Yup, food is important."
"Well yeah, I guess..."
Swayed by Gon and Keros who spoke like those bums in the village, we all decided to go to the labyrinth.
Shina, Rasa and Zaki couldn't contain their curiosity with the labyrinth, and me too.
"What about our weapons?"
Unlike the fully equipped Keros, besides a hatchet Zaki got, our only other weapon is a dagger. Shina only got a small cutlery knife, not good at all in combat.
"Oh I've got an idea. Come with me."
Zaki led us to baskets left in a training ground behind the guild. They're empty.
"That's weird. I'm sure there were discarded weapons in here back then."
According to Zaki, weapons damaged during training were put here for anyone to take for free.
"Oh that's because the guild took them away during this period to protect beginners."
A passing by plump merchant told us.
"Welp no choice then, that dagger will do I'm sure! Let's go!"
"Hold it right there."
The merchant stopped Gon as he was about to run off.
"Daggers may be fine for veterans, but not beginners. It cannot be helped, I'm sure us meeting here is preordained after all."
Preordained? Wonder if he comes from another country? The phrase kinda sounds like my lil' sis somewhat.
"Here, feel free to take them. They're short spears made of ant claws. Crafted by apprentices at Echigoya Firm, they may not be that sturdy but should suffice to deal with demi-goblins at least."
"You're giving us these? We got no money you know?"
"Of course, I'm offering them free of charge."
"Yay! We're all set for labyrinth!"
"Thank you so much, are you really sure?"
"Thank you, mister."
"Thanks, I'll make good use of them."
"Eh I'm good. I've already got a shield and a nice sword anyway."
Keros alone declined while the rest of us took the short spears in gratitude.
"Do you mean, mine?"
"Yup. I want to thank back, once I get stronger."
"I wanna know too."
Stopped by Rasa, Shina and me, the merchant spoke warmly.
"I'm Akindo a peddler. Do drop by Echigoya Firm branch store on the Guild Main Street sometimes, you can find me there."
Akindo-san left the place after saying that.
We went after him in a hurry when we realized we hadn't introduced ourselves, but he was nowhere to be found once his figure went beyond the building.
We pulled ourselves together and went to the labyrinth.
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
"This is labyrinth!"
After passing through a massive door, we found ourselves in a half underground passage.
There are windows on every few steps above on the ceilings with sunlight illuminating the passage.
There are other rookie explorers like us ahead.
"It's not yet. This is a passage that connects the areas in the labyrinth called 『Passageways of Death』."
"Oy oy, what's up with that creepy name."
Gon grimaced to hear Zaki's explanation.
Same for me. Please don't say such an ominous sounding name out loud when we're heading into the labyrinth.
"Outta my wayyyyyyy!"
An angry voice could be heard ahead of us.
Accompanied by flustered sounding footsteps coming closer.
The rookies ahead opened up a path for the explorers passing through.
They're carrying a bloodied stretcher with someone on it.
As they passed by us, the person on the stretcher has the cloth wrapped around him dyed red in blood as it spills down the stretcher.
--He can't be saved anymore.
I know after watching several grown ups dying from the wounds they suffered during hunting.
"Get out the way!"
We could hear a dispute behind us.
"He's not gonna make it outside. Use this."
"Magic potion? Sorry, we're penniless."
"Nevermind that. I don't need compensation, use it."
"We're in your debt."
Apparently the magic potion given by a veteran explorer healed the wound as we heard them cheering from way over there.
"Thank you for saving his life. Please tell us your name."
"I'm Jeje the 『Red Ice』."
"We will definitely pay you back this debt."
"Don't worry about it. We experienced getting saved exactly like this before. Next time you guys can save someone's life too."
The explorer called Jeje left after saying that, catching up the dumbfounded us before disappearing into the labyrinth.
"SO damn cool, I gotta get to be like that someday."
"Yes, you can't help but respect that."
Gon and Zaki stared in the direction Jeje went in awe.
I want to be someone who helps those in need, just like that man.
This feeling is shared by many explorers, and tales of such happenstances would often be talked about between explorers.
We kept walking down the passage as if chasing Jeje, but we couldn't catch up and arrived at the Labyrinth Gate.
"Wonder what's that?"
Children younger than us are sitting in an open space before the gate.
Every single one of them has a basket on their back, there's more girls than boys.
"They're carrier children. Explorers can't carry all their loot on their own, so they hire people offering carrier service like them."
Zaki told us.
"Those going into the labyrinth are to record their badge numbers and expedition duration over here!"
A guild member in front of the gate called out to us.
We showed our wooden badges, informed that it would be a day trip, and received a simple advice from the staff member.
We turned around at commotion at the carriers' side to see giant explorers coming out of the labyrinth gate.
"Is he a celebrity?"
"Yes, number one in term of popularity."
More popular than the chief man from earlier?
Dozon-sama's companions put down their big baskets on the floor as they reported their loot and magic cores.
Rasa urged us who all had switched on spectator mode before we knew it, compelling us to head over to the gate.
"We brought you guys Gluttony Hound meat today!"
We passed the gate with a loud cheer behind us.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested, but my craving for the labyrinth won over it, our steps were steady as we head inside.