|Author: Tsunose Bun||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3024 characters|
|Translator: Jiro||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1491 words|
Astard looked upwards as though he had noticed something before Merc could come back to her senses and respond.
“Nothing much. Someone is battling the Dorum Gai at the entrance of the stairway leading to the fifth floor.”
“What?! Go stop them!”
Merc was outraged by Astard’s remark, which he expressed as if it were someone else’s problem.
An Orange Grade Magic Beast such as the Dorum Gai was not supposed to exist in such a low–ranked Dungeon. Naturally, even those who were fighting the Dorum Gai had not come here with the goal of facing such a monster from the outset.
Merc told Astard to stop them out of compassion for the adventurer. On the other hand, Astard shook his head slowly.
“I’ve ordered the Orange Grade Magic Beasts guarding the stairway not to attack unless attacked. The fact that they engaged implies that the other party must have made a move.”
“Even if he did, he might have panicked and laid his hands on the Dorum Gai.”
“I’ve instructed them to ignore attacks unless they represent a genuine threat. Even if they do attack, it will not be with the intent of killing the other party.”
“What about me then?”
“They saw you as a legitimate threat. In fact, you even ruined one of my prized successes.”
“I didn’t know then… I’m sorry.”
Nevertheless, Merc would not have advanced to the fifth level if she hadn’t defeated the Dorus Gai. She felt bad now that she knew Astard had no intention of causing harm to others, but she didn’t think she had done anything wrong.
“The majority of such unlucky encounters end quickly, but this one has gone on for a long time. Perhaps the opposing side is putting up a fight.”
“What? He must be desperate to reach the fifth floor.”
“It seems like it. He’s probably one of Count Fonan’s men. Most adventurers that come here are rookies that just want to test their skills. When they realize they can’t win, they usually flee. After notifying the guild official at the Dungeon’s entrance, they depart.”
“Is that really okay? Won’t the Guild send a party to subjugate the Magic Beasts?”
The Adventurers’ Guild would not keep silent if adventurers reported the finding of an Orange Grade to guild authorities.
They’d instantly issue a request to the higher-ranking adventurers to eliminate the Dorum Gai and other Magic Beasts that had appeared in the Dungeon.
“Of course, the Guild has given me permission to conduct my research in this Dungeon. I’ve informed them that I’ll be setting up guards ahead of time, so they won’t be sending anyone.”
“The Guild is on this as well? If that’s the case, the person who received me at the entrance should have informed me.”
“That’s impossible. It is not feasible for a single adventurer to rent out a Dungeon’s floor for research purposes. The guild would have to act as if they were unaware of the initiative and had no involvement with it.”
“I see… So you were only allowed to do this because you are the Great Sage.”
“Precisely. When the Doctor approached me, he most likely took this into account as well.”
A new presence entered on the fifth floor at the very same time as Merc inquired.
Someone had apparently made it to the fifth floor.
“Did the Dorum Gai lose?”
“No. There was apparently more than one troublemaker. One probably became the bait while the other one came down… If only there were one more guard.”
Astard put his hood back on after muttering at Merc. Then, when he gazed at the stairway leading to the fourth floor, he noticed a man racing towards them.
“You must be the Great Sage Astard?”
The man looked like an ordinary adventurer and was clad in leather armor and wielding a drawn sword. However, given he mentioned Astard’s name, he was most likely an assassin working for Count Fonan.
“Can I help you with something?”
“Is that monster upstairs yours?”
“It is, so?”
The assassin grinned crookedly and fixed his keen eyes on Astard, after Astard showed a gentle nod.
“So I guess the rumors about that research are actually true. I’m going to require you to tell me more about it. I’ll have you accompany me to my master.”
“Your master? And who might that be?”
“You don’t need to know. Just do as I sa…”
“Is it perhaps Count Fonan?”
“… H-How do you k… Oh no!”
Astard sighed in astonishment and mumbled something to the assassin, who hastily covered his mouth with his hand.
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“To think that the Count hired such a fool… He must really look down on me.”
“W-What did you just say?!”
“It’s nothing. You don’t have to hide it. I already have this knowledge from one of those who came before you. He is presently, however, inside the Gai’s stomach.”
Astard took a daring step towards the assassin, whose eyes widened in surprise.
The assassin moved back with his blade drawn, as if to reject Astard’s approach.
“He assaulted me when I refused to go with him, so I turned the tables on him. It was a truly sad sight.”
“Wait! Stop! I won’t harm you if you follow me.”
“You… Do you really think you can win against me?”
With a contemptuous face, Astard gazed at the assassin, who was acting arrogantly. Merc also had the exact same look on her face.
The man in front of her, who was confronting Astard, was unquestionably much weaker than they were. Since he was able to enter this Dungeon, he was most certainly an adventurer, though he appeared to be at most Grade 5. The assassin showed no signs of being a powerful individual.
Of course, he may have been pretending to be a small fry, but if that was the case, that would be admirable in and of itself.
“Hmph. Even if you’re renowned as the Great Sage, it’s been more than ten years since you received it. Can you, who has been focusing on research rather than adventuring, really outperform a current adventurer? The puppet that was up there is all the proof I need. Ultimately, you can’t defend yourself without the help of that Magic Beast up there, can you?”
“I see. So that’s how it seems…”
“You, too, have no one to rely on. Is that girl there supposed to be your escort? B̲u̲l̲l̲s̲h̲i̲t̲! To think that the Great Sage would choose a girl as his escort only because of her looks.”
Merc gave the assassin a wry smile, as he changed the topic to her, who was watching from the sidelines. Merc would have been furious under normal circumstances, but the man in front of her was so silly that she couldn’t muster the energy to do so.
“Just come with me, Great Sage.”
“I see. In that case I’ll strike first!”
With his sword lifted over his head, the assassin approached Astard.
Yes, he was fast compared to the average fighter, but he chose the wrong opponent. No, the worst.
Before the assassin could reach Astard, a magic rope materialized and bound the assassin with just a word from Astard. The assassin was fully restrained.
“Urg. W-What’s this! I can’t get it off!”
Astard lowered his gaze as he approached the man who was crawling and straining on the ground attempting to free himself from the rope.
“Your fate is in my hands now. Is there something you’d like to say?”
“W-Wait! If you kill me, Count Fonan will not sit still!”
“The Count has already caused me a lot of trouble. A bit more won’t hurt.”
“Wh…! O-Okay! I’ll tell you everything you want to know! Just ask!”
“Oh my… Well then, how did Count Fonan find out about my research? I find it difficult to imagine the Guild would inform him.”
Astard’s question rendered the assassin completely speechless. The secret was apparently important enough to put his life at stake.
“You won’t answer? That’s a shame. Your companion within Gai’s stomach didn’t respond either.”
“W-What?! O-Okay! I’ll tell you! Please, just don’t let me be Magic Beast food!”
“I’m all ears. How did Count Fonan find out?”
“What did you say?”
“It’s the Chulice Empire! Count Fonan is connected with the Chulice Empire’s upper echelon. That’s how we learned that the Doctor had fled to Logholt with his findings.”
“The Count and Chulice are connected? Do you realize just what you’re saying1?”
Astard, who had remained expressionless up to this point, was flabbergasted by the assassin’s statements, and even through his hood, it was clear that he was disturbed.
Merc was in the exact same boat as him.
So Lezau Duchy’s nobles and the Chulice Empire’s upper echelon are working together… This is huge…
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