Translator(s): Yomigaeru Editor(s): Yuzuha Proofreader(s): Yomigaeru
Entering the Labyrinth.
After having breakfast at the inn, then bringing the unsatisfied Yuel to the tavern for a second breakfast, we head to the labyrinth. Yuel can really eat. I only have a bit over 500 Zeni left now. If we don’t earn something in the labyrinth today, it’s gonna get rather unpleasant. This won’t last us a single day. Uh oh.
If this isn’t profitable I may have no other choice but to sell Yuel.
After a bath, Yuel became pretty beyond recognition. That waist-length dull gray hair became the glossy silver hair that’s characteristic of dark elves. I don’t know if it’s because she just ate or what, but her complexion has improved a ton, and her lips have turned a girlish scarlet. Her wounds are healed, and now that she’s no longer filthy, you could surely say she’s a beautiful girl. At this point there should be some demand for her as a pet, so I bet I could make a solid million Zeni by selling her back to a slave merchant. Although she’s still a bit slim, and a child, even deducting for those I still think she’d have plenty of market value.
–Ah, I wonder if selling her would be better?
As far as a million Zeni goes, for an inn with no bath and three meals I reckon I could live there for 1,250 days. Yuel is still a child thus not to my tastes, and I just bought her yesterday so our attachment is weak. If I’m gonna sell her, it’s now or never. Besides, with the money from selling Yuel I could buy multiple other male skill holders, or maybe I could just live off the profits.
I glance back at Yuel who’s walking diagonally behind me, as she’s smiling pleasantly and looking happily back at me, and our eyes meet.
When she sees me, a delighted expression lights up her face.
I can’t do it.
How the hell could I take a girl making a smile like that and knock her down into despair? It’s as if she’s an infant turning to her parent, such a genuine smile. My conscience is condemning me severely for lightheartedly thinking of selling her just now. I can’t bear this smile. I feel so guilty. Just looking her in the eyes is making me feel ashamed.
As I’m tormented by guilt, we arrive at the labyrinth that’s at the heart of this labyrinth city.
The labyrinth in this city is just the labyrinth, it doesn’t have a special name. If I had to give it a name I guess it’d just be Merhatz’s labyrinth, as is.
This so-called “labyrinth” is surely a dungeon, the very same thing that appears in games. There are over a hundred floors to Merhatz’s labyrinth, and each floor has monsters prowling around it. With every floor after the first, the monsters become stronger and more diverse. When you defeat a monster, they “drop” magic stones and raw materials. Upon their death the monsters’ corpses immediately vanish, leaving behind said magic stones and occasionally the raw material. I think it’s an extremely useful thing, but as for whether this labyrinth is a test given by god, or it’s actually bait to draw in lots of living things, there are various opinions but apparently nobody actually knows for sure. Incidentally, magic stones are the raw materials for magic tools, as well as catalysts for spells, and have various other uses. Outside of those, there are also rare drops and treasure chests, so I hear plenty of stories about get-rich-quick schemes.
Well, all you need to know is that if you defeat monsters, you obtain money. The deeper you go, the higher the quality of the magic stones and raw materials, and the more money you obtain. Search for treasure chests with all your power. That’s it.
Inside the labyrinth that stands before me, or rather inside this huge box-shaped structure, there aren’t that many people since it’s morning.
This would be this city’s adventurer’s guild, and inside it is the entrance to the labyrinth. When we enter, there’s a line of reception desks like a municipal office, respectively for new sign-ups, magic stone exchange, raw material exchange and so on.
I head to the new reception counter first, and register as an adventurer.
Having said that, all I do is write my name on a form, receive some simple advice, and borrow “a certain bracelet”. As for the advice, it was on the level of “always sell magic stones to the adventurer’s guild”, “don’t fight with other adventurers”, and finally “be careful not to die”.
And then, the bracelet. This bracelet has “Item Box magic”, “magic that detects murder”, and “magic that makes it impossible to remove in reaction to the labyrinth’s internal mana” cast on it.
Item Box, as the name implies, is magic that allows you to store items, so I’m told it’s an indispensable magic for adventurers to be able to keep fighting as they collect magic stones and raw materials.
Murder detection magic is a spell that reacts when an adventurer commits the crime of murder within the labyrinth; apparently in the times before this existed there were frequent robbery and assassination ambushes within the labyrinth.
Also, this bracelet is required to be worn upon entering the labyrinth, and cannot be removed once inside.
This bracelet is the symbol of an adventurer, it’s a convenient Item Box, and it’s also used as a collar to regulate adventurers.
「Master, I’m looking forward to it!」
After putting on the bracelet, Yuel is all smiles. That smile is conveying her restlessness and excitement. What’s with this feeling? I get the feeling I’ve see it somewhere before for some reason.
Yeah, it’s that.
It’s the same mood as a child tugging on their parent’s hand, saying “hurry, hurry!” in front of an amusement park.
We’re about to go to a labyrinth swarming with fiendish monsters, though. It’s a place where if things go poorly there’s the risk of death as well. Saying she’s looking forward to it, is Yuel that confident in her own skill? Or does she just think that her kind, gentle master wouldn’t take her somewhere dangerous? If that’s the case, I’ll feel pretty guilty. I feel like I’m gonna have a nervous breakdown soon. But our livelihood is at stake, so I’m taking her either way.
Apparently she was quite self-assured.
Leaning forward damn near parallel to the ground, Yuel dashes through the labyrinth with a knife in each hand. Opposite us are two Goblins, monsters from the third floor of Merhatz’s labyrinth. Goblins are monsters about the same size as human children, with strong physical strength despite their short stature, a dangerous monster to face in numbers even for an adult.
Yuel easily evades the Goblin’s club as it tries to intercept her, then slips her knife through and slashes as if stroking its arm. The club falls from the Goblin’s hand. Looks like the tendon on the inside of its arm has been cut. Running past the other goblin’s attack, she twists the upper half of her body to avoid it. Having taken their backs, Yuel aims for the neck of the uninjured Goblin, the one on the right from my perspective. Given the shortness of the knife she can’t behead it, but Yuel cleanly slices its artery from behind in one stroke. Paying no heed to the Goblin as it collapses in a spurt of blood as the light fades from its eyes, Yuel returns her attention to the Goblin whose arm she previously sliced and thrusts her knife into its eyeball from the front. Hardcore. The knife must have reached its brain; the second Goblin crumples and falls.
「Even Goblins are instant kills, huh…?」
Yuel, 12 years old. Now that I think about it, Yuel’s age is exactly as she appears, 12 years old. Since she was a dark elf, I considered the possibility of “she looks like a child, but she’s actually hundreds of years old!”, but even though elves and dark elves have a long lifespan, they grow at the same rate as humans until about the age of 15. That Yuel-san is 12 years old.
She’s crazy strong.
These aren’t the movements of a child. Dodge and strike, dodge and strike, they’re totally sharp. She easily dispatched the Fang Rabbits on the first floor and the Salt Puppets on the second floor with no challenge, and even the third floor Goblins can’t contend with her. Moreover, because her physical condition has been perfect so far, I can’t even tell the extent of her ability. Incredible.
The Goblin corpses transform into particles of light and dissolve into the air.
「Master! How was that?」
Picking up the magic stones and clubs dropped by the Goblins, Yuel rushes over to me in a way that screams “praise me, praise me!”. Her elf ears are twitching, and her upturned eyes are gazing at me in anticipation. She feels like a dog that was ordered to wait and is dying to be rewarded. I guess all I can do is pet her.
「Who’s a good girl, who’s a good girl, yes you aaaare.」
As I rub her silver hair all over and praise her, Yuel becomes bashfully happy. This is kinda soothing.
It turns out Yuel was quite a bargain.
To be honest, I wasn’t even hoping for anything more than her to have enough skill not to lose against the weakest-class monster from the first floor, Fang Rabbit. I mean, she’s still a child. It’s the weakest thing in this labyrinth, no bigger than a normal rabbit. It’s a monster that pretty much can’t give you a fatal wound so long as it doesn’t get its fangs into your throat, but its movements are agile so it’s fairly difficult to hit. And yet Yuel is able to accurately thrust her knife under its chin when it pounces at her. All of her battles with Fang Rabbits were one-hit kills. And she made it through the first floor unharmed.
The Salt Puppet on the second floor is a humanoid monster with a body made of salt, and chunks of salt are what it drops. This guy’s movements are slow, and it’s not that powerful, just a tough monster with no apparent weak points. I was sure that it would take Yuel a while to deal with it, but in one swing of its arm, Yuel had waved the knives she was holding in each hand 5 times. She hacked away at the Salt Puppet in a way that reminded me of the Dual Blades style from a certain hunting game, ending the fight before 20 seconds had elapsed. In that fashion, she made it through the second floor unharmed as well.
And this time it’s the third floor, Goblins. Goblins are powerful, and more agile than a Salt Puppet. Furthermore, some of them have weapons like clubs or knives. Unlike the previous monsters, even one-on-one there’s the possibility of dying if things don’t go well. And yet she crushed them flawlessly just like before, not to mention two of them at the same time.
If I had to name a problem, it’s that I’m not doing a thing. Yuel is unharmed. No, it’s not like I want her to get injured, but I haven’t used healing magic once since we entered the labyrinth. There’s no meaning to my existence. And not just in battle, Yuel is also finding the monsters and monitoring our surroundings. It’s not quite to the degree of beast-kin, but dark elves’ senses are fairly well-attuned. I’ve just been walking behind Yuel, observing her brilliant combat, and praising her when she rushes back over. I’ve become a mere leech.
No, we’re master and slave so there shouldn’t be any problem with that, but looking at my circumstances objectively I can’t help but feel like I’m doing something terribly wrong. Well, I do have the role of recovery if it happens to come to that, but I get the feeling I could send Yuel off into the labyrinth alone with “you can just use recovery potions, right?” and nothing would change. And all of the income would go into my pockets.
As far as I can tell from Yuel’s expression she’s happy, so maybe it’s fine like this, but I feel awfully ashamed, or perhaps I should say obligated. If the slave was some middle-aged guy rather than Yuel, I might have no problem working him to the bone, but Yuel’s young outward appearance is shaking my conscience.
And yet I’ve never even held a weapon before. If I swung around a sword I’d probably just get in Yuel’s way, and if I used a bow I’d likely end up shooting her in the back. I’ve had customers back at the hospital teach me a little about attack magic before, but I wasn’t able to use it at all. I can’t think of any ways to fight. Besides, I don’t want to face off with Goblins and stuff in the first place. I do have the confidence that I won’t die since I can immediately recover from even a fatal wound, but this and that are different stories.
As I’m contemplating, Yuel is still energetically hacking up Goblins, recovering their dropped weapons and bringing them over while holding her head in a position that’s easy for me to pet.
About all I can do at this point is pet her with all my heart. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure there was a game where you made monsters into your allies that had a system where grooming them improved their motivation and increased their stats. Yuel’s motivation is already full, but if I continue to pet her half-heartedly, eventually that may end up falling as well. This is it.
Yuel’s hair is long and straight. I take her rustled hair and carefully brush it along its natural direction, causing Yuel to twist her body ticklishly.
「You’re really great, Yuel.」
Squatting down to look her in the eyes, I gently pet along her cheeks and the contours of her chin. When I do, she nuzzles her face into my hand and bashfully closes her eyes in bliss. She responds with a shy “ehehe”, and meets each of my continued pets with a cute reaction.
Yeah. My job is to get along well with Yuel. I’m starting to feel like things will be fine this way. And it’s soothing. Besides, it’s getting kinda fun.