CH156: Armor Seeker
One day as the end of the year was approaching I was diving through the 93rd layer of the Southern Labyrinth with the members of the First Squad.
Since the route to the boss area has already been established, today is the final confirmation before the attack.
I’m not without my doubts about the Grand Labyrinth.
What Abel Eddington told me months ago about the Great Labyrinth once being called a sanctuary and that it was built by a hero from a fairy tale still lingers in my mind.
However, there is no way to confirm the truth of this story.
Finally, I concluded that it is useless to think about it in the present situation where there are too few materials for judgment.
All we need now is to reach the ninety-fourth layer and conquer the ninety-fourth layer.
“But I still don’t like this place because it’s so gloomy. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it…”
As we searched the area with caution, Will, who was walking in front of us, complained.
The ninety-third level is a jungle-like place where almost the entire hierarchy is covered with trees.
Furthermore, both temperature and humidity are quite high, and it is almost like a tropical rainforest where there is no rainfall.
Will’s right. It’s a damp place. I don’t think I’d want to stay long.
“Yes. It’s a little better than the ninety-layer mountains, but it’s still not a place I’d go to.”
“The worst part is that it’s winter on earth and it’s cold! It was snowing last night and I think I’m going to catch a cold from the difference in temperature.”
Rain and Lecrae agree with Will’s complaints.
All three of you are done talking for now. The hexenbiests are approaching. Rain and Lecrae prepare a barrage, leave it to Will and Orn to take them out!”
Selma sensed the approaching hexenbiest and gave us instructions via telepathy.
“””” Roger!”” “””
You immediately change your mindset and prepare for battle.
Arm Ape is a long-armed ape-like beast, and its fighting power is not that high.
However, its three-dimensional movements using tall trees are very complicated and difficult to capture, making it one of the most troublesome magical beasts.
Rain and Lecrae start shooting a lot of [Water Arrows] in the direction where Arm Ape is.
It’s difficult to kill them with magic, but by setting up a barrage like this we can limit their path and avoid letting them get close to the three rear guards.
Arm Ape does not have long ranged attacks, so if you can keep your distance, the danger to your rearguard is fairly small.
I mean, me and Will can get out in front.
Make sure there are no other hexenbiests around before rushing out.
Water Arrow] which is an intermediate level spell can’t do much damage against a deep level beast.
It’s the same with the relatively less durable Arm Ape.
But if it doesn’t do much damage, it means that some damage has been done.
Three arm-apes dislike the barrage and change their course to avoid [Water Arrow].
I’ll take care of the ones coming down! I’ll take care of the ones that go up!
“Okay! [reflective barrier reflective wall]!
I left Will to deal with the one that was coming towards me after landing on the ground and I set my sights on the two that had climbed further up the tree.
You close the distance in an instant by using [Manipulate Gravity] and [Reflective Barrier] while surrounding your entire body with Ki.
One of the arm-apes intercepts with a sharp claw, but you easily avoid it and swing your Schwarzhase.
Just before the blades make contact I activate [Instantaneous Ability Super-Rise Impact] and Arm Ape’s torso and neck separate without feeling any resistance.
I watched out of the corner of my eye as the arm-ape I had slashed down turned into a black mist, and tried to slash the remaining arm-apes as well, but my sword couldn’t reach them because they were trying to escape while skillfully using the trees.
Mr. Lane, I need you to cover my escape route.
I got it!
You call out to Rain with your telepathic voice and a number of offensive magic spells are shot out to block the path of the Arm Ape.
I wielded Schwarzhase and turned Arm Ape into a black mist.
The battle between Will and Armape that is going on below is also going in Will’s favor.
He uses his double-bladed sword to counter Arm Ape’s attacks, and he never misses an opening, ensuring that he accumulates damage.
They realize they are at a disadvantage in a head-on melee and attempt to flee, but Leclerc’s offensive magic won’t allow it and the two of them work together to turn the Arm Ape into a black mist.
“It’s okay, I know.”
As I stood on a magical scaffold in the sky above and watched Will’s battle, a monkey demonic beast that was a size larger than the arm-ape I had just been fighting was approaching from behind at a considerable speed.
A monkey kicks a tree trunk and approaches me.
I used [gravity manipulation] to wrap the blade with magic power and caught the monkey in my sight.
I amplify the gravity on the ape, and it falls to the ground before I can reach it, confused by the sudden change in gravity.
The ape, which crashed to the ground at a considerable speed combined with the added weight of gravity, is followed up with a jet-black slash, and Rain’s offensive magic strikes again.
As I landed on the ground, I cut down the ape that was still alive and in tatters and it finally turned into a black mist.
“… You’re getting more sophisticated every day. You’re getting used to [gravity manipulation], aren’t you?”
When the battle was over and I was collecting the magic stone, Will called out to me.
“Yes. I still need to work on it, but I’ve got some idea of what [Gravity Manipulation This] can do and what it can’t do. I’ve come up with some interesting uses for it, and I’d like to try them out in real life soon.”
“Oh, that’s exciting. You’ll have to show me some interesting uses for it at the meeting.”
We continued to search the ninety-third layer, and decided that it was safe to move on to the attack.
At this rate, I think I can reach the ninety-fourth layer by the end of this year.
Hey, you ever heard of an armor seeker?
After we had finished exploring the ninety-third layer, we decided to have dinner together for the first time in a while, and while we were eating at a restaurant Rain-san gave us a topic of conversation.
“Searchers in armor? Never heard of him.
Will answers Mr. Lane’s question.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it.
I’ve never heard of anyone called the Searcher of Armor.
I’ve been keeping an eye out for promising explorers since my days as a member of the Brave Party, but either they’ve been omitted from my information gathering or they’re still not very promising explorers.
I don’t know.
“The three of you were in Regulif territory. No wonder they didn’t know.”
So you’re an explorer who’s become famous in the last six months or so?
“Yeah, she’s an explorer who’s been mentioned every once in a while since after Thanksgiving. I haven’t heard much about it lately with all the talk about the Empire, but you know Selma, don’t you?”
“Yeah. I know about the explorer, because I didn’t believe it at first.
“Incredible story? Did you do something incredible?”
“Is that a feat in a way? Because the explorer is searching the labyrinth without a party, so to speak, and is active in the lower levels of the Grand Labyrinth.”
“Solo in the lower levels? That’s a daredevil…”
Will is startled when he hears Mr. Lane’s story.
I’m sure you’re right. There are a few solo explorers in the middle level.
However, the difficulty level of searching in the lower levels is much higher than that in the middle levels, so it is safe to say that there are no solo explorers in the lower levels.
“That’s what I thought when I heard about it, but the explorers who saw him fight said he was out of their league.”
“If you’re an explorer who’s reached the lower levels, that means you’re pretty good, right? Does it mean that they’re so strong that they’re all saying that?”
“I guess so. His type seems to be a vanguard attacker using a common long sword, but that’s about all the information I have.”
“What does he look like? Yeah, so you’re a seeker of armor.”
“That’s what I mean. He’s wearing a full plate with a helmet, so I don’t know what he looks like. He’s about six feet tall, so I’d say he’s probably male.”
“Soloing the lower levels? As far as I know, Orn is the only one who can do that, but I guess there are some amazing people out there.”
“No, no, I don’t think I’d dive down there solo either.”
You don’t think I can explore solo?
“… I could if I wanted to, but soloing isn’t very efficient, and I’ve got a friend here I can rely on in the first place, so there’s no reason for me to go exploring solo.”
“Thank you. We’ll have to work even harder so that Mr. Orn can continue to think of us as a reliable companion.”
“That’s right. Defeating the boss at the ninety-third level depends on our rear guard’s coordination. Naturally, we’ll have to keep our heads up.
“Yeah! I’ll do my best! Let’s all go to the ninety-fourth layer…!”
“””” oh !!!!”” “””
I’m sorry, sir, but I’m unable to see you today.
The next day, when I had more time, I went to the camp to see Oliver, but I couldn’t see him again today.
I’ve been here several times since I returned to Tutrail, but I haven’t seen him since I saw him once six months ago.
What’s going on with Oliver? It could just be that he’s avoiding me, but I don’t like that…
(Huh… Well, if I can’t see you, I guess I’ll just have to. Let’s go see Grandpa.)
I changed my mind and headed to Grandpa’s.
But there seemed to be a customer in front of him, and a man in full armor was having a business meeting with my grandfather.
(I’m not sure what to make of it. Is this the armor seeker that Rain and Selma were talking about yesterday? How timely… What’s that?)
The armored explorer turns and looks at me.
I’ve been observing the armour seekers too, and it makes sense that they’re exploring the lower levels solo.
They are just standing there, but their appearance and atmosphere are different from those of other explorers.
I haven’t felt this way since the first time I saw Fuuka.
(I doubt I could win against this guy even if I fought him with all my might.)
It’s going to be a while before I get what you ordered. Will you come back next month?”
Grandpa calls out to the armored seeker and the armored seeker turns back to face him and nods.
Then he turns around again and walks toward the doorway where I’m standing.
I shift to the side and open the front door, and the armored explorer opens it and disappears out the door.
I made sure the armored explorer was out of the building, and I walked over to the counter where Grandpa was.
“Welcome, Orn. What brings you here today?”
“I’m planning to attack the ninety-third layer soon, so I thought I’d stock up on supplies for that.”
I tell him what we’re doing today and he says, “Just a minute.” and disappears behind the counter.
I was killing time looking at the goods on display in the store when Grandpa came back a little while later.
Sorry to keep you waiting. How about this time?
The old man calls out to me as he puts the supplies he’s brought from the back on the counter.
I go back to the counter and grab the supplies one by one as they are lined up.
I know the quality is fine because my grandfather bought it and made it.
The reason why I check every time is because I was scolded by my grandfather once when I tried to buy something without checking it, saying “Don’t leave something that concerns your life to others”.
Since then, I have always made it a rule to check before using any item that I buy or am given.
My grandpa really taught me a lot.
I’d like to return the favor, little by little.
“That guy you just saw is the one they call the armor seeker, right?”
I’ll talk to Grandpa, check the supplies.
“So they say. What is it? You’re worried about him?
“Well, yeah. I’ve heard they’re pretty powerful explorers, and I’ve seen them, and I know they’re real.”
“He’s alone in the lower levels, so it’s only natural that he’s strong. If he wants to join some party or clan, there’s going to be a fierce competition.”
“Indeed. Clans especially want to have as many good seekers as possible, so it’s inevitable that they’ll be competing with each other.”
Though if you’re working solo at this point, it’s unlikely that’s going to happen.
If Grandpa’s right and the armored explorer wants to belong to some organization, then the Silver Rabbit of the Night Sky should be able to acquire him.
I’d be happy if he’d join the Night Sky Silver Rabbit, but I don’t think that’s likely to happen.
“… Then I’ll buy all of these. And please add a whetstone.”
You chat with your grandfather, check the supplies, and tell him you’ll buy everything.
You will pay the amount of the additional stone you ordered after confirming the order.
You wait for Grandpa to stow away the coins after confirming that there is no discrepancy in the amount you paid, and then you stow the supplies you purchased in your storage grimoire.
“Speaking of which, the year is almost over, how was your year, Orn?”
Grandpa asks me a question, and I look back over the past year in my mind.
A lot has happened in the past year, but I guess the biggest event was being kicked out of the Golden Akebono Yusha Party.
Since then, I’ve become a member of <Yoten no Ginrabbit>, I’ve had a cute apprentice, I’ve experienced many things in this clan, and I’ve spent a year that I couldn’t have imagined at this time last year.
“… Yeah. If I had to sum it up in one word, it was a fulfilling year. I’d have no complaints if the Silver Rabbit of the Night Sky could conquer the ninety-third layer as the end of the year. How was your year, grandpa?”
“It’s been the same old year for me. As you get older, the years fly by and before you know it, it’s the end of the year.”
“I’ve heard it said that the longer you live, the faster time flies.”
“I’m getting old. I don’t know how much longer I have left.”
“Don’t say that. I want you to live a long time. Take care of yourself. I’ll do whatever I can.
“… Yes. I still have work to do, and I have a long life ahead of me.”
Grandpa mutters with a faraway look in his eyes.
I’ve seen this look a few times before, so it’s nothing to be concerned about, but for some reason it caught my grandpa’s attention.
What do you need to do?
“That, of course, Orn, is to watch you grow up. It’s what I live for now. If there’s anything you can do for me, I’d like to watch you grow up.”
“Oh, no. That’s all right then. I’ll work hard to become someone you can be proud of, just watch over me.
“Of course. A lot will happen in the coming year, but I hope we’ll still be talking peacefully with Orn this time next year.”
“With all that’s going on with the Empire, I’m sure there’ll be some action amongst the nations next year. But I’m an explorer. I’m hoping to conquer the ninety-fourth level by this time next year and report back to Grandpa.”
“… Well, I look forward to it.”
Orn was in the general store talking with an old man he called Grandpa… While he was talking with Coverdale Evans, Vince Bryars, the Lord Commander of the Silver Rabbits of the Night Sky, was sitting nervously in his chair in the Lord Commander’s office.
Moments later, there’s a knock at the president’s door.
Vince hears it and calls for everyone outside to come inside.
The door was opened and a burly, elderly man entered the room.
“Long time no see, rabbit boy. Sorry to drop in on you like this.
The older man apologizes to Vince in a friendly tone.
It’s true. If you think that’s true, call me in advance. You’re not in a position to do that anymore. And it’s a good thing I was here, because I’m busy too.
I’ll be careful next time. But I can’t believe you’re really the rabbit’s leader…”
“… I just wanted to get rid of the pus in the clan, I wasn’t planning on sitting here.”
“Well, you’re the one who should be in charge. We’ve been under your control for a long time and we know you well. Aren’t you the right person to head the biggest clan in the country? I’d like to bring you on as my right hand man.
“… Thank you. I think you’d be better suited to your current position than your former one.”
Come on. I’ve been in this position for years and I’m still getting used to it.
Both of them seem to be old acquaintances, and they are in a position where they usually have a stern expression on their faces, but here they seem to be enjoying the conversation with relaxed expressions on each other’s faces.
However, when the story comes to a close, Vince changes his position from the friend of the old man to the president of the Night Sky Silver Rabbit.
Then, with a serious look on his face, Vince opened his mouth.
“… So, what can I do for you today, former Volunteer Party Leader, no, Warren Hayes, Captain of the Kingsguard of the Nochtant Kingdom’s Central Army.”
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