6: Parentheses Alias
Today, Lizel visited the guild together with Gil.
During the week after his first request, Lizel spent his peaceful days as an adventurer, taking requests, wandering around the city, and reading books. He considered taking a request today as well. He stood in front of the board with the lowest of the available F-rank requests and looked at the various requests written on the special request forms.
The surrounding low-rank adventurers all looked uncomfortable for some reason.
“We’ve already accepted several subjugation-types. You must be bored, Gil.”
“I don’t got anythin’ else to do, so I don’t care.”
“Is that so?” Lizel nodded and looked through the forms. Because he hoped to get various pieces of advice from Gil when he accompanied him on subjugations, harvests, and such, he wanted to avoid the same requests if possible.
Because F-rank adventurers quickly advance to the next rank, Lizel only needed one more F- or E-rank request to rank up. After he finishes this request, his new rank would allow him to take D-rank requests. This was what Gil told him.
“Ah, how about that one?”
Lizel looked up at the request form posted at the highest place on the request board. Thinking that he could almost reach it if he extended his hand, he raised his arm, but Gil grabbed the form from behind, so Lizel put down his arm, thinking, “Well, that’s fine.”
“A labyrinth-type, huh. We hadn’t done one yet.”
“I wanted to see this world’s labyrinths at least once.”
[Seeking labyrinth items!]
Client: Labyrinth Device Collector (Alias)
Reward: The standard 10 silver coins + price of the requested item (Required appraisal: Max 1 gold coin).
Request: I want something, anything really, as long as you could only obtain it from the labyrinth.
However, the item must be found on at least the 5th floor.
“Unless you don’t care ‘bout havin’ your name circulate in the guild, you don’t have to give your real one. The fifth floor of a labyrinth is good enough for a low-rank, and they probably didn’t have the budget to request a high-rank and pay a fortune for the requested item.”
“Accordin’ to the item, even a low-rank labyrinth item can ring up a nice price.”
It appeared that some requests would require not only for an item to be retrieved from the labyrinth but to also have it appraised.
As Lizel thought that the client seemed like an interesting fellow, he headed for the receptionist with the request form in hand. If Gil didn’t say anything, then there probably wasn’t anything particularly to worry about.
Because it was a busy time, all the counters were filled and they had to line up. The adventurers waiting ahead of them stole a glance over their shoulders, and although they did a dynamic double-take, they quickly faced forward again in a panic. This must be their first time seeing Lizel.
Even though Lizel acted like an adventurer, he truly didn’t resemble one. Gil commented in his head, “Even though he kept his nobility under wraps,” and looked over at Lizel who didn’t seem to notice at all.
Lizel suddenly looked over at the desks a little away. These desks were left out so parties could talk amongst themselves, but they were all filled.
Party members sat around their own tables, but not everyone was chatting amongst themselves as some glared at a piece of paper placed on top of the desk.
“Will the next person please step up?”
Lizel thought that this was becoming a common sight recently when the neighboring closed counter suddenly opened. Studd announced to the next client while not looking at Lizel, but he must have left the newcomer registration counter and moved there.
This was undoubtedly so as no newcomers were present. But, it was also unlikely for Studd to head to the request counter until he had finished organizing his documents beforehand. Studd sat down, coldly ignoring the lukewarm gazes of his coworkers. Lizel gave a wry smile at how convenient it was that he was the next in line as he headed towards the counter.
“Ah, this request? This client frequently submits the same request.”
“Is ‘anything’ really okay?”
“As long as it’s not some random rock or weed, they’re fine with most things. Anything certainly goes, provided that it can only be obtained in a labyrinth.”
Lizel handed over his guild card. Studd received it and continued the procedure with experienced hands.
As Lizel watched Studd’s efficient movements with a smile, he timed the end of the procedure before promptly opening his mouth. He then directed his gaze to the desk he had been looking at before.
“By the way.”
Incidentally, Lizel was the only one Studd was willing to listen to and not ignore after finishing his receptionist duty. On that note, he would also give the bare minimum response to Gil, but as there were hardly any one-on-one conversations between him and Gil, this was limited to the times when Gil accompanied Lizel.
“What are they doing?”
“The new labyrinth discovered a few days ago seems to be quite difficult, so they seem to be discussing it.”
“So why are they staring silently at the desk?”
“It’s not the monsters that are difficult but the puzzles. If they can’t solve the puzzles, they’ll be caught in a trap, unable to advance. However, simply because the monsters aren’t difficult, everyone is eager and aiming to complete the labyrinth.”
Items obtained in the labyrinths fundamentally belonged to the one who acquired them. Treasure chest appearances were random every time you entered, but the treasure located in the deepest part when completing the labyrinth will not reappear once someone has claimed it.
Treasures were not always guaranteed to be waiting there, but if it was possible to get rich quick, then it was worth trying.
Moreover, only superficial details on this labyrinth were confirmed, but that didn’t mean the monsters were particularly formidable. This meant that everyone had a chance.
Rank didn’t matter. This was a genuine battle of wits to obtain the treasure. Studd looked at them emotionlessly and pointed to the request board still filled with requests.
“It’s disgraceful that the number of people accepting requests has slightly decreased because of that. If you are also going to that labyrinth, then you should take a peek at the desk. Information surrounding the labyrinth’s first puzzle has been left there.”
It appeared that the farther into the labyrinth you go, the more complicated the puzzles and traps get. This was the standard for labyrinths.
The puzzle the guild publicized was the one for the first door, and that door would remain unlocked once opened, but based on the later challenges, it would be too difficult for you to advance if you couldn’t solve the first puzzle.
To prevent needless causalities from adventurers falling into traps, the guild will only allow those who could solve the first puzzle to enter the labyrinth. Managing the labyrinth was another one of the guild’s jobs, and they didn’t want to easily lose their employees, the adventurers.
“Since you’ll have no time to think about the puzzles while fighting monsters, so this practice of solving here as much as possible came into being.”
“Does the puzzle not change when you exit the labyrinth?”
“There appeared to be cases of such. But, it tends to remain fundamentally unchanged.”
“I see,” Lizel thought. “Then, it wouldn’t be pointless to think here.”
Convinced, Lizel turned to Gil.
“How about the new labyrinth?”
“Don’t try. There’s one nearby, so we’ll go there.”
Either way, Lizel had no plans to enter a labyrinth where he didn’t know what would happen. Gil also appeared to have the same thinking as he wasn’t interested in the new labyrinth.
If there were fairly strong monsters present, Gil might check it out when he was alone but not this time. Having no interest in treasure despite being an adventurer—Gil was a strange character.
“I’m a little interested in the puzzle, so I’ll go take a look before we go.”
“Then, be careful.”
The usual send-off and the usual smile in response. Lizel walked up to the adventurers who continued to have a serious face on as they glared at the desk.
On closer inspection, the adventurers were whispering around not the paper provided by the guild but a sheet they had written themselves. Lizel had an idea without even having to look. It was probably a challenge they’ve been snagged on presently.
This was probably a countermeasure to prevent anyone from surpassing them or having any onlookers. After all challenges had been solved and the treasure obtained, the information of these challenges could be sold to the guild or other adventurers for money.
Additionally, everything would be for naught if someone got a hold of their information and snatched the treasure before them. That was why everyone was speaking only amongst themselves.
Lizel took a peek at the desk. Because everyone was free to read the first puzzle provided by the guild, the adventurers around that desk had no issue.
Rather, they couldn’t even complain with Gil looking down on them from behind and Studd sending a cold gaze from the front at the reception. The adventurers had suspicious faces as they observed the smiling Lizel looking down at the puzzle.
“It’s an interesting problem. Much thought has been put in it.”
“If you’d figured it out, let’s go.”
After this exchange of a compliment from Lizel and a prompt from Gil, the adventurers looked at them, flabbergasted. It was because they couldn’t believe Lizel instantly solved this puzzle that stumped many.
After looking at the puzzle, Lizel straightened his posture, but he immediately turned around at a seated, young adventurer. This man was probably in the middle of deciphering as he was holding a note with the handwritten contents of the puzzle.
“I apologize. I accidentally caught a glance at the contents of the paper in your hands for a moment.”
Suddenly, Lizel approached him and quietly leaned over.
He put one hand on the desk and leaned in, his face drawing close to the man’s ear to tell him a secret. With such a calming face this close, the adventurer froze, dumbfounded.
He should have been furious at the statement about having his notes looked at. The contents written on it were on the challenge he finally reached after several days. A normal reaction of immediately shouting accusations of trying to gain the upper hand wouldn’t have all been strange.
“Ancient numerals, I see. What a beautiful formula.”
Lizel dropped his voice low enough so no one could eavesdrop, but the man couldn’t immediately comprehend the words conveyed to him.
“Hey, we’re goin’.”
“I apologize. Sorry for the wait.”
At the voice calling for him, Lizel straightened his posture, showed a small, apologetic smile, and left. “Don’t do somethin’ unnecessary,” Gil reprimanded, but Lizel’s apology didn’t sound at all timid. The adventurer listened to this exchange in his dazed state as he looked down at the paper in his hands.
His similarly dazed party members came back to their senses and pressed their comrade. They asked several questions like “What did he say?” and “Did he steal any info?” but the adventurer was at his wits’ end and fell face-down on the desk.
“Rather than stealin’, it’s the opposite… I mean, he looked at it for only a sec…”
The adventurer was about to open his mouth when he sensed a shadow suddenly over him. “Huh, you pickin’ a fight?” the adventurer was about to say as he turned around, but he promptly shut his mouth. His face was pale.
In his line of sight was the guild employee, said to be the most terrifying one, looking down on him.
“I don’t think the contents of your conversation should be discussed here.”
The terror coming from being looked down upon by this indifferent and emotionless face caused the adventurer to tell his party on the verge of tears later.
“Don’t go stickin’ your nose like that. You’ll get caught up in somethin’ weird.”
“Oh, please. I can choose myself whether or not I’m going to be involved.”
Unaware that Studd had just preventing trouble from spreading, Lizel refuted Gil’s candid advice.
The two had left the gates and were on their way to the labyrinth. There appeared to be a labyrinth in the middle of a forest a short walk away, and that was their destination.
“Well, don’t choose trouble.”
In contrast to Gil’s sour face, Lizel smiled brightly as he recalled the puzzle from before. He had suspicions about how they were exactly the same ancient numerals as those from a distant past in his original world.
In fact, he had once wondered if this was the past or future, but that was firstly impossible. It was strange that there were no traces of the name of the large country where Lizel stayed, and in the first place, even the shape of the continent was different on the map.
He wondered if the continent had yet to be discovered, but that wasn’t possible. In the end, he settled on the conclusion that it was easier to accept if there wasn’t that much of a change.
“The labyrinths here also have doors?”
“Large and extravagant double doors standing around in isolated areas.”
“Rather than doors, they’re gates. Double door gates with a pillar on either side made from some ore.”
There appeared to be some trivial difference, but their sudden appearance in a location seemed to coincide. Not only have monsters never come out of the gates, but the gates have also never appeared inside cities, so they weren’t regarded as particularly dangerous.
But, because many items were exclusive to the labyrinths such as Lizel’s gun, ores, monsters, materials, and plants, labyrinths couldn’t be overlooked and were utilized by adventurers. There weren’t any adventurers in Lizel’s country, but labyrinths were used as training places for knights and a source of daily income for mercenaries.
And just like that, the two reached the forest after walking for around an hour. From that point, they reached the location of the labyrinth in another ten minutes. A stone gate covered in moss stood in silent majesty there.
“Huh? Wasn’t it supposed to be managed by the guild?”
“They’ve got folks to stand around restricted labyrinths like that brand-new one, but if there’s no issue, anyone’s free to enter. And even though they say they ‘manage’ it, it just means that they know where the labyrinths are and they’ll investigate if somethin’ happens.”
“It’s true that it would be a waste of labor and manpower to keep guard over labyrinths no one besides us are visiting.”
“There are usually more adventurers comin’ and leavin’ here. But, they’re probably all gathered in that new labyrinth.”
Labyrinths don’t disappear even after they were completed. This easy labyrinth close to the city was often used as a sort of training ground for low-ranking adventurers to complete requests and gather materials.
However, there were still starry-eyed, new adventurers who aimed to get rich quick by going to every new labyrinth. Lizel stood in front of the gate, pleased that it would be empty.
Gil pushed the gate. The gate opened without having much force applied to it and slightly creaked as it opened inwardly to reveal the inside.
The other side of the gate should have been the rest of the forest, but a stone cave resembling ruins extended inside.
Lizel stepped inside, secretly excited about his first labyrinth when the gate behind the two automatically closed after they passed through. Strangely, it wasn’t dark. The entirety of the cave was filled with a dim glow.
It was the magic circles drawn faintly on the ground that were glowing.
“Is this a spell circle?”
“A magic circle. This labyrinth extends underground. I think…thirty floors? These circles are stationed on every fifth floor, and they’ll let you skip to the floor you completed.”
“Did you make it end, Gil?”
“Yeah, that’s why it’s reactin’ to me. If we were in a party, then you could also use it, but it doesn’t matter this time.”
Their current request was for a labyrinth item found on at least the fifth floor.
They could walk to it without using the magic circle.
“Since a labyrinth wasn’t specified, does that mean items don’t change between labyrinths?”
“If the labyrinth got a feature, those features will appear more often, but there won’t be any difference in the quality of the labyrinth items. That’s why standard rewards don’t appear fixed on requests.”
“So, when it said ‘at least the fifth floor,’ that means?”
“The difficulty of most labyrinths increments after every fifth or tenth floor. So, while the monsters get stronger, the items also get rarer.”
Gil continued with his explanation of labyrinths. Up to the tenth floor was E-rank. Up to the twentieth floor was D-rank. Up to the twenty-ninth floor was C-rank. The lowest floor was B-rank. This was the general breakdown.
In addition, the rank was based on the assumption that a party was formed. There wasn’t anyone foolish enough to challenge it solo. However, what Gil didn’t tell Lizel was that he had completed this labyrinth three days after arriving at Parteda, and it went without saying that he did it solo.
And, it was exactly because of that event that Gil’s name spread across the country.
“I would like to encounter the boss at least once, but it’s probably still impossible.”
The reason the lowest floor was difficult was that a monster known as the boss was always present there. After defeating the boss for the first time, you gain access to the innermost room, but many people had stumbled at that point.
And for some reason, even after obtaining the treasure, the boss would also revive.
“I’ve been occasionally comin’ here to kill stuff so my skills don’t dull.”
“Ah, so when I was wondering where you went off to sometimes, you came here?”
“Here or some other labyrinth.”
The conversation flowed smoothly, but in reality, monsters could come attack them at any moment. They had already obtained a grasp of each other’s fighting capabilities, and since this wasn’t a subjugation request, there was no need for Lizel to advance and attack by himself.
When subjugating monsters, it will be recorded on the individual’s guild card, but the card was still equipped with a function to simply count if the request wasn’t for subjugation.
Lizel was impressed by Gil cutting down monsters while holding a conversation. At the same time, Lizel himself was shooting at the monsters outside of the reach of Gil’s attacks. Gil didn’t particularly need any aid, but this was originally a request Lizel had accepted. He had no intention of leaving everything to Gil.
Nevertheless, he also wasn’t going to say that he would be the only one fighting because this was his request since that would be terribly inefficient.
“What do we do about the material from the monsters?”
“Don’t need ‘em.”
Monsters unique to the labyrinths and monsters out in the fields both existed, but obtaining special materials hardly ever happened on the first floor. Because defeated labyrinth monster would disintegrate into mana if left alone, Lizel nodded at Gil’s words, left the bodies alone, and continued on.
“When it comes to labyrinth items, you have to find them inside treasure chests.”
“But you don’t know what’s in ‘em. That’s what makes this an annoyin’ request in a way.”
“But, I’m enjoying just seeing this labyrinth.”
This cave was like an imitation of some ruins. Beautiful patterns were engraved in various places, and an altar was erected. If no danger was present, this place would have made for a wonderful tourist attraction.
The commonality was shared among all labyrinths, but you could see sights that had absolutely no relation to their circumstances outside.
It was common for people to make a simple map since the scenery hardly changed, but Lizel didn’t particularly need such. He thought it would be fine to just use his memory if he didn’t need to do something special.
As Gil was also the type to fundamentally memorize instead, the two proceeded smoothly without the need to stop. They peered around the corners as they searched for treasure chests, but they arrived at the stairs to the next floor without finding any.
“We probably didn’t get around to the whole floor, but what do you wanna do?”
“I guess we can go. It’ll pop at us when we find it.”
Because this was a dimly lit, steep staircase, Gil led the way.
Lizel wished there was a handrail as he looked at some kind of pattern carved into the wall. But, just at that moment, Gil suddenly turned around and aggressively pushed Lizel’s head down.
Unable to plant himself, Lizel was about to fall headfirst, but Gil grabbed the back of Lizel’s collar to support him.
Lizel’s stance was broken but he was still upright, and something passed right above his head. Plink. Something hard struck the stone wall.
Lizel looked at the shattered stone arrowhead and finally realized that he had activated a trap.
“How come it responded to me but not you, Gil?”
“That’s what you should be sayin’ first?”
“Ah, I’m sorry. Thank you very much.”
Gil said in exasperation as he let go of the back of Lizel’s collar he was grabbing. Lizel slowly stood up and fixed his collar. His attitude was completely the same and not one someone whose head was about to be pierced would take.
Gil had taken bodyguard requests professionally, but no matter how important the client was, they would be perturbed when their life was in danger, and even grown men would raise hell. But, Lizel had no such reaction. Even now, he picked up the broken arrowhead and diligently observed it.
“Well, that is my only strong point.”
Strangely enough, Gil felt this from their first encounter. If Lizel possessed a self-sacrificing mindset, Gil would have immediately abandoned the request, but Lizel wasn’t like that.
Rather, danger wasn’t an issue to Lizel as long as he was safe. “What an easy client to protect,” Gil thought as he looked at Lizel tossing the arrowhead.
“Gil, what do you think?”
“Who knows? Maybe your head was in the right spot.”
“Hm, it’s true that I’m shorter than you.”
Quickly concluding that this was how labyrinths were, they continued down the stairs. Although he had never experienced it, such was very characteristic of labyrinths.
Sometimes, traps would always divide the party in half. Other times, the number of doors present matched the number of people present for some reason. People found these as odd, but it always concluded with the explanation “Because it’s a labyrinth.”
“Forget ‘bout how you activated that trap. Let’s get a move on.”
“Since you’re with me, I ended up relaxing.”
Gil didn’t know if Lizel was serious or making an excuse. These words would normally be viewed as an excuse, but for some reason, they sound true when coming from Lizel.
“I would’ve dodged if I paid attention,” Lizel conveyed with just a smile. That response prompted Gil’s suspicion. Gil thought, “I’ll have to cope while I’m here then,” as his foot reached the last step.
After descending the stairs, their view opened up to a room. The three doors there presented the choice of where to go, but there might not be a need to choose.
“I’m glad we found some treasure chests.”
“You usually gotta dive to at least the tenth floor to find even one. Having one pop up on the second floor means you’re lucky.”
There were three doors, and between each door was a single treasure chest, meaning there were two treasure chests.
Just as Gil had said, it was rare to find treasure chests. But, that was exactly why labyrinth items were fairly valuable. However, if a certain number of such items were found, then the price wouldn’t be that high.
If you were lucky, you could find treasure chests every time you dove into the labyrinth. Though, it was rare to find several chests in one run.
“Apparently, ten chests were lined up once. It ain’t unheard of.”
“Would monsters pop out of them as well?”
Gil offered to open it, but Lizel shook his head and opened the first one. The stone lid should be quite heavy, but the chest opened up smoothly.
With the lid open, Lizel looked inside and laughed in amusement. When Gil approached from behind to see what was in Lizel’s hands, his face pulled into a strange expression.
“I guess these kinds of things come out, huh.”
“A stuffed bear…”
“A teddy bear to be precise. Yes, and this craftsmanship. It wouldn’t be strange to call it premium…”
He closely observed the teddy bear. The fabric was well-fitted, and the buttons fasted on its limbs, upon closer inspection, were decorated with designs.
The medal on the ribbon sewn into the front part of its chest was etched with a sign that proved it was a labyrinth item.
He tried to deliberately tear off the medal, but it wouldn’t come off. Its touch and appearance were that of a normal stuffed animal, but as the material couldn’t exactly be identified, this was certainly a labyrinth item.
“I know that this is a good item, but I can’t figure out how much it would cost.”
“We’ll know from the appraisal anyway.”
Even Lizel, who lived surrounded by valuable objects, expectedly couldn’t figure out the price of this stuffed animal. Though, he knew that the red jewels sewn on as eyes were quality items.
Of course, Gil similarly didn’t know. Instead, he watched Lizel try to tear off the medal with astonished eyes.
“Shall we open up the other one? …I see.”
What came out was a blue-eyed teddy bear. When Lizel compared it to the other one, they appeared to be made exactly the same, so he assumed they were a pair.
“My first labyrinth item is a teddy bear set,” Lizel conveyed with slight heartbreak.
“Well… my first was a plain sword you could find anywhere.”
“But isn’t that befitting of a labyrinth?”
He was slightly indignant.
Nevertheless, these were valuable labyrinth items. Lizel had never heard of teddy bears coming out of treasure chests. He assumed a variety of perplexing items came out from the labyrinths before standing up to return to the city.
He wasn’t notably dejected. But, he also wouldn’t deny that these teddy bears had an effect on his mood.
“I’m assuming an appraiser who usually deals with adventurers would be fine?”
“Yeah, I guess. Can’t really bring it to a tailor.”
Presently, they were heading for a certain shop to have the appraisal done. They went past the weapons store that enticed swordsmen to enter with its professionalism, and they stopped in front of the neighboring curio shop.
As usual, the tiny signboard with “I’m confident in my appraisal” was written without confidence as it hung below the curio shop’s main signboard. This was the only place Lizel knew that could do appraisals.
“You’re good at hittin’ the lottery.”
“Have you also come here before, Gil?”
“Yeah. The previous guy was an amazin’ old man. Three years ago when I came to this country, he yelled, ‘Don’t ya know what weapon suits ya?!’ the moment I walked in and threw this sword at me.”
Gil added, “Of course, I paid for it.” He was a pushy salesman.
However, not only could Gil use a thin longsword nimbly like a normal one-handed sword, but he could also take advantage of the longsword’s benefits. Considerable physical strength was required, but it was the ideal weapon for Gil with the destructive power of a longsword held in one hand and its long reach.
“He sounds like a good person. Then, is the one here now his son?”
“Grandson. I met him several times, but that bizarre old man doted on him like an idiot, saying, ‘My grandson’s got an amazin’ eye for appraisals.’”
“Has he not come here recently?”
“He hasn’t been here for two years. Maybe he changed over the years?”
After confirming that business was open, they went through the door.
As usual, the only employee inside was diligently polishing the goods.
“Good day. I’ve come again.”
“Hey, hey, don’t make people freeze up every time.”
“You’re making it sound very much like this is my fault.”
With a bitter smile, Lizel greeted the shopkeeper once more, causing the man to come back to his senses and look at Lizel. After looking at Lizel, he noticed Gil behind and opened his eyes wide.
His eyes restlessly flipped between the two, but when he suddenly realized they were acquaintances, he clumsily bowed his head to greet Gil.
“I-I-I-It’s been a while.”
“You don’t gotta be scared. I told you before I ain’t gonna do anythin’.”
“Gil, we’ll be asking for his services, so please don’t tease him.”
“I ain’t teasin’ him.”
The shopkeeper raised his head and looked at the two, stunned.
In the first place, he didn’t understand why these two were together. In his mind, Lizel was a nobleman.
He couldn’t comprehend that these two people, who belonged to the opposite spectrums according to his assumption, were conversing. Lizel saw this visible confusion before him and smiled.
“I didn’t mention it before, but I’m not a nobleman.”
It confused him even more.
Afterward, Lizel and Gil decided to leave the frozen shopkeeper alone and look around until he was able to do his appraisal.
<Translator’s Comments> I recently found a fan tumblr for this series, but I don’t know how to contact them since I don’t have an account there. Let me join you in gushing over the series!! Ah, though I’ll have to make sure I catch up with the series first.
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