The two Officers who invited me to a meal are, the one that tried to evaluate me on the first day, a serious young man, Anson, and a frivolous young man, Bernard.
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They bring me to a store they call their recommendation, and it looks like an upscale restaurant.
Bernard, appearing very familiar with this place, opens the door and enters. Anson and I follow behind.
As soon as we head in, an employee rushes over.
“Ah! Mr. Bernard, Mr. Anson, welcome!”
Matching what one might expect from a place they recomend, they seem quite well-acquainted with this employee.
“Yo! Nia. Today, Ive got a special guest. Tadah! One of the people whos reached the 94th Floor of the Great Labyrinth, Orn!”
“94th Floor, youre saying… Then youre a Hero!? Wow! Meeting you is a great honour!”
Without asking, she grabs my hand and energetically shakes it up and down. Youre a friendly person huh.
Moreover, it doesnt look like shes seen that newspaper article published today.
“Apologies for not being able to meet your expectations, I am no longer a Hero.”
“Eh, but, someone who reached the 94th Floor…”
The woman named Nia is perplexed by my statement.
“I have been to the 94th Floor, but Ive already left the party.”
“I see, thats true now that I think about it. But, you still did go to the 94th Floor right!? Then it doesnt matter! In the past twenty years, there hasnt appeared anyone whos been able to reach the 93rd Floor again, yet youre someone whos gone beyond that to the unexplored 94th Floor! Make no mistake, youre an individual deserving of being called aheroic explorer!”
“…Youre very familiar.”
Suddenly being spoken about, I cant hide my confusion.
“Ahaha… I was an explorer too, a while back. Ah! I havent guided you to your seats! I apologise, got carried away.”
She shows a sly look while slightly sticking out her tongue.
“Is the usual private room okay?”
Bernard answers the employees question.
The place we are guided to is a private room wide enough for about six people to relax.
“Come! Today we drink till dawn-! Orn, I wanna hear every single little thing about you. Ah, of course, within the limits of what you can talk about is okay, so!”
The first words come from Bernard after everyone takes their seats.
“No, surely we cant drink till dawn… Theres an exploration tomorrow.”
“Huhuhu. Ive got a body that doesnt get hangover. So theres no problem no matter how much I drink!”
“Even still, being sleep deprived will also be bad…”
“Its as Orn says. Even though were talking about just middle layer exploration, theres also the educating and escorting of the beginners. We should approach it in the exact same way we would like for a normal exploration, in peak condition.”
“Tsk-. Orns the same serious type like Anson. Un — stood. Today till midnight! No leaving till midnight!”
From then on, the three of us talk about each other while relishing the food and alcohol.
Befiting a place they recommend, the food here will have no problems being served to aristocrats.
By the way, you are considered an adult from the age of fifteen in this country, and since Im eighteen, I can drink alcohol. It seems that in other countries, you cant drink until youre twenty.
“To be a regular at such a high-class place, looks like A Rank explorers inNights Skys Silver Rabbit make pretty good money?”
Normally, I wont ask these kinds of intrusive, personal questions, but under the influence of alcohol, and being carried away along with the two of them, I end up asking such a question.
“Says the person who was in the Hero Party… I dont think were paid that much. But, its a profession where you never know when youre going to die, explorers. So I decided to live without regrets and eat delicious food.”
“Thatsss righttt. You sure you werent the one living it up everyday?”
“Ive never done anything likeliving it up. I also had to handle the administrative work for the party, so I pretty much had no time to play around.”
“Ho. Hey, do the Hero Party really actually get along? Some rumours floating around saying you dont.”
Dont go there…
I usually dont answer things like this, but Ive been a little bit sick to my stomach with this mornings article, so other than what I really cant talk about, I decide to speak.
“Its not the case that we were on bad terms, but we also werent really hanging out in our private time. Our hobbies and tastes too are completely different, so we rarely even had the chance to do stuff like have dinner together.”
“Oi oi, is it okay for you to say things like that?”
As expected, this isnt good, Anson probably thinks as he checks with me.
“I dont think therell be any problems. The party leader portrays himself publicly as an upright and exemplary person, so in fact, if theres anything I cant say, then that would be bad.”
“…Somehow the way youve said that is filled with meaning. Ah, speaking of which, theres something Ive been wanting to ask about, Orn when you were in the Hero Party, you were an Enchanter right? When we first met, you said you were a Vanguard Attacker, and your movements also resemble Vanguard Attacker guys.”
“Movements, youre paying real close attention huh, Anson. Even though Orn……. hasnt fought a single time yet.”
“Thats because Im a Defender, so I closely observe the movements of all my allies…”
“Actually, I converted to a Swordsman after leaving the party.”
The two of them open their eyes wide at my remark. Well, youd be surprised if you hear that someone has changed the role theyd been doing for the last few years.
“…Would it be alright if I ask why you converted to a Swordsman?”
Anson turns a face full of curiosity towards me.
“…I started out as a Swordsman in the Hero Party, you know. My grandfather was a former explorer, and on one particular day, a demonic beast appeared in my village and he defeated it with a single sword. Since witnessing that, my admiration of Swordsmen has always been stronger than the average persons, and when the time came for me to become an explorer, I didnt hesitate to take up the sword. I thought that leaving the Hero Party would be a great opportunity, so I decided once again on being a Swordsman.”
“I see. But if thats the case, on the contrary, even though you have such great admiration for Swordsmen, why did you take on being an Enchanter?”
“…After we entered the lower layers, the pace of our labyrinth conquest slowed. Well, since the size of each floor and the strength of the demonic beasts suddenly increases substantially once you start heading down into the lower layers, its only natural that the pace would fall, but at that time we werent very knowledgeable, so that was something we didnt understand.”
We who had proceeded smoothly through the upper and middle layers, entered the lower layers and for the first time, hit a wall.
There was nothing strange about that. Rather, it was strange that we had been advancing that steadily.
“By all rights, we were supposed to gradually improve our abilities there, but because of certain circumstances, it became necessary for us to progress quickly, and at the same time, that was also when the value of Enchanters started to rise, so we also had our eyes set on that job. Then, since by nature Im rather adaptable, and can pretty much manage anything without too many mistakes, the arrow landed on me. I myself, during that time, also felt like the prospects of me becoming the Swordsman of my ideals were dimming, and because I had interest in magic as well, decided to take on the role.”
“So that was what happened. Certainly, its not uncommon for there to be people who convert due to party circumstances. Besides, in the end you were able to reach the 94th Floor. Judging by the result, it was the right decision.”
“No, it was a bad move. Regardless of whether I became an Enchanter or not, we shouldnt have rushed to clear the labyrinth, and we should have improved our skills more.”
Naturally, I cant say any more to these two.
Because the possibility of the Hero Party clearing floors below the 94th Floor is non-existent, I leave that part out.
“Hmm. Then? Orn, whats the ideal Swordsmen to you? No problems talking about that, right?”
Maybe Bernard can sense my mood, so he changes the topic for me.
“Ideal Swordsmen huh? There are various aspects but, to get straight to the point — a Swordsmen who can challenge the deep layers alone.”
The next morning, as I walk along the street stalls to get to the assembly point, there are some people chatting excitedly even while busy preparing for opening.
“Oi! You heard? Sounds like the new Hero Party will be diving in the deep layers!”
“Really!? Then, if theyre quick, theyll reach the 95th floor today!?”
“Nah, I heard theyll probably be diving into the 92nd floor. Seems like theyre just trying to check their cooperation as a new party.”
Theyre acting unexpectedly fast.
I thought they mightve been a bit more relaxed. Even so, testing their coordination by diving into the 92nd floor?
Apparently theyre not doing something stupid like trying to clear the 94th Floor as soon as possible, but if its the first time youre checking how well you cooperate, you should at least do that in the lower layers.
–Thats something that doesnt concern me anymore.
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