18-30. A Boy in Labyrinth City (4)
While we were hunting Giant Rats in the labyrinth, we somehow found ourselves surrounded by Lost Bandits before we realized.
"I'll charge in first. The rest of you follow after me."
"No don't. You'll get killed by yourself."
I whispered to my friends.
Zaki tried to stop me but we have no other choice but to break through the middle.
"Ooh, I'm sooo scared. Maybe you shoulda discuss your plan someplace else guyyyys."
The boss sneered and his underlings followed.
"Oooh that's it, got a niiice idea."
The boss made his underlings stepped back while he stepped forward by himself.
"I'mma let you guys off if ya can beat this great meeee."
The boss licked his lips while tapping his sword on his palm.
"Let's do this."
"Yup, no other choice."
Gon spoke in a trembling voice, Zaki agreed tearful sounding.
All of us readied our spears and ran out at once.
"Niiiice, correct answeeeer."
The boss swung his sword once while laughing, the next instance, the tips of our spears were gone.
Then he slowly raised his sword while walking up at us like he was tormenting us.
I threw away my now stick spear and drew the dagger on my waist while taking a step forward.
The boss swung his sword down.
That would have cut me up before my dagger could reach him.
If I did nothing.
I used my trump card.
A [Failure] skill that consumes most of my mana just to take me ahead by two fists distance.
It's more than capable of dodging a slash.
The boss missed his swing as I got in a melee distance to him. Enough for my dagger to hit.
I thrust my dagger aiming at his side.
My vision spun around. My defenseless head fell down the labyrinth ground.
What just happened?
The next view I saw was that of the boss with his leg raised up. Did I get kicked.
The boss turned his sword around in his grip and walked up to me.
I can't move my body, it's numb.
What about Gon and the rest--not good. They've lost their fighting spirits along with the spear tips.
I saw that Rasa was the only one trying to sneak away from here.
Good. Run away Rasa. Even if it's just you.
"That was a good move for a newbie. But I ain't dumb enough to get done in by a low single digit level weakling."
Is this the end, is this where I meet my end--.
Then, a girl blew away my despair.
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
A graceful voice resounded in the dead end path.
A gallant boulder-like knight mowed down the group of Lost Bandits behind the boss.
"Boulder knight?! Damn Lost Bandit Hunters came out to play huh!"
The boss faced against the boulder knight with a loathsome look.
Two of his side aides gripping curved swords took their stance.
"Shiga Kingdom Formal Swordsmanship--Secret Art [Cherry Blossom Slash]."
Another knight in a silver armor showed up at tremendous speed and flicked away the boss's sword while scattering blossom-like pink colored flashes of lights everywhere.
One of the boss's aides stopped the knight's twin swords aiming for the boss neck.
"Tch, they even got 『Noble Youth Flash』 here huh."
The boss jumped backward while unsheathing a dagger on his waist as his aides went slashing at the noble knight.
"That's 'Sir' for you lowlifes. You vulgar barbarians have no right to casually call our names."
Four other knights showed up after the noble knight and cut down the other underlings blocking the passage.
It was a plump knight who decried the boss there. He's uncharacteristically strong despite his figure.
"Mennnnnn! Get 'emmmmmmm!"
With the boss's command, other bandits lurking in the ceiling jumped down one after another.
The boulder knight positioned herself to cover my friends.
They should be fine now.
"Don't get ahead on your own, Gerritz."
A beautiful lady wielding a rapier showed up next to the noble youth and blocked an aide's sword.
The plump knight blocked a slash aiming at the beauty from a blind side.
"You've got to focus yourself, Merian."
"[Sword Princess] Merian, [Great Sword] Luram, that means that one over there routing us down must be 『Black Hurricane』 Jans--The whole gang of Lost Bandit Hunters making their appearance, damn I finally made it big eh."
The boss sounded despaired.
"Cease calling us with that vulgar name, you lowlifes."
The noble youth swung his sword to swipe away the blood on his sword after eliminating one of the aides.
"Ha! Lemme show you how lowlifes fight then. Shoot!"
The remaining Lost Bandits in the ceiling let loose a herd of Maze Moths.
"This again huh--."
"Do it, Dirun."
Plump knight let out a sigh, while the noble youth gave his command sharply.
"Heavy Hurricane Hammer!"
A storm unleashed in the end of the passage smashed all the Maze Moths at once, sending them crashing onto the walls.
--Whoa! So that's what magic like!
In the corner of my vision, I caught sight of the boss trying to fit into a crevice in the rocky wall.
The knights were busy dealing with the sheer number of Lost Bandits they didn't realize it.
"He's, getting away!"
I mustered up my hoarse throat to squeeze a word.
"Worry not, nanoja."
A gorgeous princess completely out of place in a labyrinth showed up next to me out of nowhere.
This voice was the one that commanded the boulder knight earlier.
"By your will, princess."
By the princess's command, her aide knight nocked an arrow.
The loose arrow was straight to her aim, piercing the point between the boss's brows, reaping his life.
This person is an amazing marksman.
Even better than Pongo-san the hunter.
"Princess Mitia, please take care of that too."
The noble youth called out to the princess as he was crossing swords with a particularly strong Lost Bandit.
In the direction the youth pointed was a giant mantis monster.
It's eating a man that looks to be a slave inbetween its pincers.
"Soldier Mantis is it now, a small fry. Dirun-dono--is currently busy dealing with the Train of Maze Ants, I see. I suppose I am left with no choice."
The princess took a stance with an elegant looking sword, or maybe a cane, look like both.
A thin stripe of light connected the princess' cane with the Soldier Mantis.
The princess rhythmically moved her wrist then the Soldier Mantis's head and arms fell down the ground all chopped up, a moment later, a weird burn like smell pricked my nose.
"Hmhmm, isn't it amazing? It's an Artifact of Light Satou-dono bestowed upon me nanoja."
The princess was saying something, but I couldn't really recall.
I mean I couldn't take my eyes off the princess' beautiful figure like my soul has been snatched away.
"Can't you hear Gerritz-sama?!"
Poked by the plump knight, I realized I was being asked by the noble youth.
I hadn't noticed that all Lost Bandits have been defeated.
"Not even a word of gratitude to your saviors?!"
"Luram, justice expects no gratitude in return."
The noble youth remonstrated the plump knight.
"I-I'm sorry! Thank you so much for saving us!"
I got up in a hurry and bowed my head far down near the ground.
My little sister always tells me to 'Make sure to always express apologies and gratitude.'
All the Lost Bandits have been cut down, and the monsters brought by them are being carved out by attendants of these knights.
"Are you hurt anywhere?"
"Oh I'm fine, it's nothing much."
My spear broke, and my stomach is hurting from the kick, but this much is really nothing.
For some reason, I really don't want to look uncool before the princess.
"Luram can accompany you out of the labyrinth."
"Eh, you're telling me to babysit them?"
"Not at all! That's simply unthinkable!"
Ordered by the noble youth, the plump knight--Luram-san escorted us out of the labyrinth.
Zaki hit it off well with Luram-san, he was taught about all tasty stalls in the labyrinth city.
Luram-san took us back to the labyrinth gate, then saw us off there because he needed to inform the guild staff about the Lost Bandits.
We all sprawled out on the ground once we saw the white building of the guild from the west gate.
"...I was so scared."
Shina's cry became the impetus for us all to also cry out. Even Gon and Rasa did.
The passing by explorers were startled at first but they quickly lost interest and left.
"What's wrong? Did you see something scary?"
It was Greatshield Jel-san.
It's gotten dark before we knew it.
I wiped my tear-stricken face with my sleeve and narrated how we were almost killed by Lost Bandits.
Jel-san listened to the end without interrupting once, then he spoke.
"I see, sounds like a disaster. A preventable one that is."
I never expected that reply so I instinctively looked up to Jel-san's dauntless face.
"You stopped seeing other explorer parties around didn't you? That's cause they noticed those lurking Lost Bandits. Didn't you hear them telling you to stop?"
They did call out to us.
We thought it was because they were trying to stop us from hunting more Giant Rats.
"Bullseye eh. You'd be taught about that if you just took beginner course offered by the guild."
"I had no idea..."
Losing to the temptation of going into the dungeon, forgetting my little sister's advice was a mistake.
"They'd teach about lotsa other stuff too, you'd better take that course. If you're lacking money, you can go gather Beria in the wilderness or do odd jobs in the city. There's the boarding house sponsored by the madam viceroy, so you just gotta get enough for food. And if you don't get enough, there's also food bank once a day."
We all listened to Jel-san.
Feels like we were told that by the guild staff too.
I also recall seeing papers plastered on the guild walls.
Jel-san suddenly got up.
"Alrighty, let's drink. Or maybe you guys prefer food?"
"Jel-san, we're, um short on fund."
We traded magic cores at the gate, one for each of us, but it was only worth less than one copper coin each.
More than enough in villages, but according to Luram-san, you need at least one copper coin to even buy from a food stall, so there's no way we can afford a store Jel-san invited us to.
"No sweat. Leave it all to me!"
Jel-san took us to an open space lit up with dazzling lights.
So many people have gathered around, it's like a festival.
"Aw yeah, drink drink up, Usasa!"
"Ou! Guildmaster! The match's on!"
"Come at me, youngling!"
I saw the blue mantled rabbitkin and the guildmaster gulping down huge mugs of booze.
"We're having a send off party for [Fangs of Conflagration] and [Pendora]. Ya can eat and drink all you want here."
"Are we really allowed to?"
Gon immediately cheered, while Zaki asked in concern.
"Course it is. I'm the best shielder of [Fangs of Conflagration] 'fter all. Ain't no one gonna complain me bringing in five, six children here."
After saying that, Jel-san ordered food and drinks to a nearby server.
"Jel-san, would you like for some hamburger?"
A cute maid-san brought us bread.
With meat-like thing sandwiched inbetween.
"Oh! Are the mansion maids on break today?"
"Yes, we're throwing an early celebration for Usasa and the others. Oh, Miteruna-san is also here."
Losing to the delicious whiff, I took a bite and was greeted with tenderness and tastiness unlike anything I've had before exploding in my mouth.
What is this? What in the what is this bangaba dish!
"Oooh, gotta make sure to greet her later."
"Huh? Are you not making an advance today? Have you gotten tired?"
"Heck no 'course. I even went and bought some gifts for my proposal to Miteruna-san today, y'know?"
I would like to praise food this good, but since the maid seems to be busy chatting with Jel-san, the guys and I just kept repeating, 'It's so good, so good.'
"We have seconds if you like."
"Roji, help! We're running out of soup!"
"I got it, Ani. I'll be right there."
The maid called Roji handed a basket with Banbaga inside to me and left.
The guys immediately competed to feast on Banbaga. Even Shina and the quiet Rasa became beast-like.
Not to lose on them, I too feasted on it.
"Cheered up a bit now?"
Jel-san spoke with gentle eyes.
"Yes, I'm all, cheered up."
The anxiety and despair earlier went away like it was a dream after I got my fill. I'm quite a simple man.
"Would you like some soup?"
"Ou, give it."
"Ah! Jel-san, if you're looking for Miteruna-san--"
A maid girl about our age came to distribute soup.
"I'm heading out for a bit. Just tell anyone messing with you, Jel-san invited you."
Jel-san left his seat apologetically, seemingly to look for this Miteruna lady.
"You guys are here too huh--."
Once Jel-san left, the noble youth who saved us from Lost Bandits came and greeted us.
Along with Luram-san and the others.
What's different with them now is--.
"Well it's a send off party after all. We put it on."
The noble youth walked up to the [Pendora] rabbitkin after saying that.
So they were members of [Pendora].
"I see you have regained your vigor."
The gorgeous princess escorted by the boulder knight walked up to us.
I almost said, 'Forgive us for our sorry sight', but I bit my lips and couldn't get the words out somehow.
"Mind it not. Us too have experienced getting rescued from a desperate situation after falling into Lost Bandit traps, by Satou-dono."
The princess blushed absentmindedly as she spoke.
She's so much cuter than ever. So cute I'm getting dizzy.
But I wonder why? My chest tightens a bit.
"Therefore, you simply need to repeat it."
"Indeed. Just like how Satou-dono saved us, and how we saved you, next time become strong enough to be on the side doing the saving."
The princess's words carved deep in my heart.
Oh right, that veteran explorer also said something like this in that [Passage of Death].
I guess that's the true mark of explorers.
"You've a good look there. Surely you will get stronger."
"Yes! I'll do my best!"
Strong enough to boast having been saved by the princess.
"Princess Mitia! Over here!"
"Understood! Let us proceed, Ravna, Lyura."
Called by the noble youth, the princess took the two knightess with her.
Right now I can only look at her back from afar, but I promise I'll become a dependable explorer she could rely on one day.
That's also when I'm gonna tell her my name.
I look up into the sky and vowed to the full moon shining brightly in the night sky.
◇ [At a Certain Poor Village] ◇
"It can't be that a pest has started hanging around Niisan in the labyrinth city..."
The out of season sneeze was like an omen to me.
"Could this be a sign for me to hasten the plan and make my way to the labyrinth city ahead of time?"
I muttered alone as I looked up at the moon peeking in the window.