126. Chapter 126
Fausto, whose true identity as Manhunt was revealed by the Trimagitack after he failed to finish off Walm, erased the tracks and returned to the base of the hidden guild. Even if it was caused by some external factors, there was no excuse for such an embarrassing failure.
So, Fausto knelt down and reported to his master the information he had obtained at the price of two bodies.
“Old man, I’m sorry. The attack failed. We lost Medardo and Nero.”
“I’ve got the information from the others. But, those two really died, didn’t they? With this, the old compatriots are becoming fewer and fewer.”
The old man gazed into space as if recalling a distant memory. He paused for a while before asking Fausto about the details of the battle.
“So, did you manage to confirm it?”
“No. Although it was a surprise attack, those two got killed in a straightforward fight. We managed to get that person to be covered in wounds, but it took too much time. And before we could see the end, the Trimagitack interfered.”
Surprise attack. Sure Fausto’s party surrounded the mercenary, but they couldn’t kill him.
However, that didn’t mean Fausto went away empty-handed. After facing him, Fausto was able to guess his ability. The one-to-many movement he showed was something that could only be achieved when murder became a daily routine. That was Fausto’s assessment of him.
“So, that’s how much he had developed as a soldier huh?”
“I think he’s a rare talent in recent years. But, there are two things that bother me… First, he didn’t use《Demon Fire》. We all wore fire resistance equipment and conserved our mana, but it was useless.”
“Did he run out of mana?”
Fausto denied the old man’s words.
“No. He was quite worn out, but I think he still had some mana left.”
“He couldn’t use it for some reason? Or was the attempt seen through?… I can’t properly judge.”
“Next is, his eyes when he was cornered. Definitely, they were demon eyes.”
The surrounding air grew colder. A brief silence followed, and the old man asked Fausto for confirmation.
“No, they were muddy. It’s not perfect.”
Immediately after killing Medardo and Nero in quick succession, Fausto witnessed the mercenary’s eyes that wouldn’t let him go. The pupils were colored gold. But they looked so dark and muddy.
“Of course that’s the case… That’s not something you can achieve in a short time after all. But demon eyes… Demon eyes, huh. So there’s someone with demon eyes in this peaceful and relaxed era?”
Said the old man who rubbed his fingers together.
There was no way Fausto would forget the habits of his master, whom he had served for a long time, when he thought about something
The old man then continued with his words.
“The cataclysm of the northern countries, the great outbreak, the demon eyes, regardless of the scale, it’s convincing enough. After all, it’s the path that the driven group will go through.”
The old man who came to this conclusion smiled with a look of regret.
“Before the main event, that good body is something I really wanted to have.”
“I’m deeply sorry. If only we hadn’t failed…”
The old man held back Fausto, who had repeatedly apologized and repented.
“I forgive you, it’s in the past… The preparations have been completed. All that’s missing now is the timing. But so what? I’m used to enduring and waiting… and now, just a little more.”
Unconsciously, the old man’s last words were emphasized. He had the same thoughts as Fausto. The shameful memory that suddenly forced itself upon them made them both shudder, although they had restrained themselves.
“Old man, Fausto, old tales are all well and good, but he’s my younger brother’s enemy.”
Whether or not these words were said after reading the atmosphere, Giesel, the ostensible ruler of the hidden guild, said this with a frown.
Unlike Fausto and the old man, Giesel wasn’t accustomed to waiting
The old man then spoke in a manner that admonished Giesel.
“I know. The purpose won’t deviate. Revenge, isn’t always something that’s better to be done quickly. Like a curse, the more time passes, the stronger these feelings will reside in you. And the greater the joy you’ll get when it’s over.”
“Well, if the old man says so, then it must be so. But, in this case, if Walm leaves the labyrinth, it’ll be hard to catch him. No matter how much I want to follow your order, I can’t overlook my enemy.”
“Don’t worry. That guy can’t leave the labyrinth. What those with rotting demon eyes are aiming for is the crimson grass, the flower of life that comes from sucking the blood and flesh of those who’ve been swallowed by the labyrinth. In the language of flowers, it means, compensation, balance. Kakakaka, that means, put something in the balance, once you chose, you’ll be compensated.”
Half of the old man’s body trembled in an inhuman way, as if he was another creature.
In the darkness where the sun couldn’t reach, only the eyes of the old man, who was consumed by delusion, shone mysteriously.
Four days had passed since Walm was half-forced to stay in the free accommodation facility. Although under constant guard, there were three hot meals, and even daily bathing was allowed. What a perfect place to get rid of accumulated fatigue and lack of sleep. On top of that, a healing magician cast healing magic on him every day. This went so far that a reversal phenomenon occurred, where the injured was the healthier one.
That said, two days of rest would give everyone a surplus of stamina, so Walm used the time to diligently organize the content of his magic bag.
Maintenance of the weapons that continued to be abused had been done. So after doing everything Walm could, such as polishing his armor and washing his clothes, he began to take care of his mask, but he soon gave up polishing it as the vibration persisted. Well, even if the mask was bathed in blood and mud on the harsh battlefield, for some reason it had already cleaned itself by the time he took it off. And even if he wanted to expose the mechanism, the mask had no vocal cords. He couldn’t even question it, so he had given up thinking much.
What should I do in my free time today?
Last night Walm spent his time polishing his half-boots, but he finally ran out of things to do.
Walm sat down in an armchair and wanted to think, but he sensed a presence in the hallway. Although there was no window, he had gotten accustomed to being in the enclosed space of the labyrinth, and so he could roughly tell time. It was still early for lunch, and the time for a changing of the guard, which he had grasped in four days, was still ahead.
Finding it strange, Walm grabbed the longsword leaning against the wall and focused his attention. Not long after, there was a small bang on the only door.
“I’ve got a message.”
It was the familiar voice of the guard. And the guard peered through the open door as he said this.
“After a long discussion between the higher-ups, you are free. Pack your luggage. The procedure will take place in another room.”
Luckily, Walm, who had run out of options, didn’t have to come up with any more ways to pass the time. This meant that the days for the guard to stand in the hallways were coming to an end. Perhaps that was why the guard spoke in a slightly cheerful tone.
“Understood. I’ll prepare myself right away.”
The poison of boredom had eroded Walm’s mind to the point where he was lining up his equipment next to the bed. In short, all he had to do was put them on in the right order, and he was ready to go.
Waiting for Walm in the corridor weren’t only the guards, but also Lisi, to whom he was always indebted. As an employee of the guild, she must have other duties besides her reception duties. That must be the reason why she came here.
Walm tried to follow Lisi, but his eyes followed the guard who was walking in the opposite direction.
The guard, catching Walm’s gaze, asked suspiciously.
“Nothing, I was just wondering why you weren’t coming with us.”
“You’ve been cleared of suspicion. And Lisi told me that it’s not necessary. Or what? Do you perhaps have something you feel guilty about?”
“No way, I’m a man of integrity.”
“Hah, then go quickly. Don’t make her wait.”
Walm, who was laughed at, followed Lisi silently.
No conversation took place. Nevertheless, Walm didn’t feel awkward.
After passing through several hallways, Walm was asked to enter a room. It was an interview room for adventurers.
Walm sat down on the chair as it was suggested to him.
“First of all, congratulations on your return to the surface.”
For some reason, Walm felt embarrassed by Lisi’s innocent smile, and could only honestly thank her.
“Next, it’s about the Manhunt, Fausto-san… No, Fausto was an instructor in the guild. His guidance to the juniors was well received, and when it was discovered that he was a Manhunt, there was a great tremor within the guild. The vice-guild leader and the guild leader went to the marquis’s residence to apologize and formulate countermeasures, saying that it was mismanagement. The guards were searching for Fausto, but they haven’t been able to find him yet. His residence was burned down before the guards got there. It’s our incompetence. We’re really sorry.”
Walm, learning what happened next, was convinced. Fausto was indeed a skillful actor. That his true identity couldn’t be detected by the guild while he was in the guild, wasn’t at all far-fetched.
As for the failed capture of Fausto, it could be said that this labyrinth city was a perfect hiding place since it had a large population. It wouldn’t be surprising if the skillful Fausto, who had been active in the area for a long time, had fled to outside the country by now.
“I understand the circumstances. It’s something that happened in the labyrinth. Having a hard time catching him isn’t that strange.”
“……I’m glad to hear that. Then next, Walm-san killed two Manhunts. Basically, the belongings of the Manhunt eliminated in the labyrinth belong to the one who killed them. However, this time there’s also the achievement of the Trimagitack, so it’ll be necessary to sort this out with them. In addition, one medium gold coin will be given by the guild for each Manhunt.”
“I’m fine with 50%. It’s true that I killed them, but in reality, I was seriously wounded. Fausto decided to run because of the restraint of the Trimagitack. If they hadn’t come, I might’ve been buried by now.”
“Are you, for sure?”
After reaffirming Walm’s decision, Lisi laid out the documents on the low table and added detailed information.
Walm signed it, and so, the handling of the belongings was decided.
“This completes the matters required by the guild. From here on, it’s personal.”
Lisi tightened her expression. Her expression betrayed her strong will. Walm sensed this and changed his posture and turned to face her properly.
“Walm-san, surely will dive into the labyrinth again. Immediately after reaching the 30th floor, you managed to make Fausto’s party run away. Even so, the casualty rate jumps after the 30th floor. Even Fausto’s party hasn’t reached the 35th floor and beyond. Even the Trimagitack is blocked on the 35th floor, and hasn’t managed to dive deeper. The same is true for the selected party from other countries. No matter how strong Walm-san is, you can’t continue diving alone. Probably, no, surely, Walm-san will die.”
It was a rather harsh word, but it was convincing enough.
Walm listened without interrupting.
“…Walm-san’s goal is to conquer the labyrinth, right? There must be some circumstances. Is it because of an obsession for recognition? Or a bitter memory of the past? I don’t know. Even so, you should gather or join a party. It’s a selfish request. But, this is because I don’t want Walm-san to die.”
When was the last time Walm had heard such intense yet kind words? Just hearing that was enough to make his deceased family and former squad members flashed in his mind.
Walm felt that he couldn’t simply ignore Lisi’s generous advice.
“…… You’re, right. It was harder than I thought. I think I’ll look for a party.”
Indeed, the monsters on the 26th floor and beyond had forced him to use up mana. With each level, the monsters got tougher and more vicious. Walm wasn’t arrogant enough to claim he could do it all on his own. He couldn’t. After all, his powerlessness had become apparent in the defense of Dandurg Castle and in his hometown.
“Thank you for giving me a good answer. I’m glad. Really.”
“No no, it’s me who should be grateful. Thanks.”
“Then, let’s write a paper for recruitment immediately. Posting will cost a fee, but don’t worry, I’ll deduct it from the reward.”
Walm told Lisi what conditions he wanted the companions to have.
Age, gender, or nationality, didn’t matter. Only those who had the goal of reaching the deepest part of the labyrinth, and were persistent to get there.
That was the kind of companion Walm was looking for, and the only condition he couldn’t give up.
“Well, I’m the one who instigated this, so I’m a bit hesitant to say something like this, but I need to. Walm-san isn’t an adventurer, and besides the condition of aiming for the deepest floor, it’s just been a few days after the incident. I think it’ll take quite a while to recruit.”
Lisi spoke like a person in charge of selling defective properties. It was so funny that Walm couldn’t help but laugh.
“Fufu, kukuku, it’s okay. I’m aware of it. I’ll wait patiently for the weirdoes to show up.”
Money was accumulating in Walm’s coin bag day by day, but it still wasn’t enough to buy medicine. It was a bit inconvenient that he couldn’t use the 《Demon Fire》 as he pleased, but if he kept diving into the labyrinth, the coin bad would be filled up with enough money to buy medicine, and maybe he would even make friends along the way.
In this way, the bloated impatience that had been growing in Walm was soothed by Lisi.
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