120. Chapter 120
A dark, dull glossy door was pressed by Walm’s palm. At the same moment, the coldness peculiar to metal was pleasantly transmitted to the hot fingertips. Moving his feet, which were hot due to non-stop movement, Walm entered the familiar safe room.
After leaving the golem and gargoyle exhibition floors behind, not that he even wanted to see them in the first place, Walm finally reached the safe room on the 25th floor. The journey from the 21st to the 25th floor was anything but smooth. Although he still had reserves of strength, he was forced to lift the restriction he imposed on himself of not using any skills or magic, which he had done well up to the 20th floor in this dive.
With a listless look, Walm gazed around the room. The parties that were resting in the safe room were incomparably fewer than before, as befits a floor called the breaking point of the mid-rank. Including Walm, there were only four parties. Adding in the people he passed along the way, and those resting on the ground, the total number would surely jump, but even then, there was a sort of dividing line, a boundary between the mid-rank and high-rank, in the safe room.
Three days had passed since he dived into the labyrinth. Despite Walm regaining his sharp senses, fatigue couldn’t be stopped from accumulating. So he distanced himself from the temporary occupants, and slumped on the cold ground. His stomach screamed with hungry, while his half-open eyelids protested for abandoning his screaming stomach.
Walm weighed the problems, trying to figure out which of them should be prioritized. It was him exaggerating the problems, but really, the content was silly. After all, the only difference in solving it was either to eat after sleeping or to sleep after eating.
Walm was forced to make a decision alone, but his train of thought was forced to stop due to the approach of an outsider. Using his knees for support, he stood up quietly. Before entering the safe room, he put the new lover, the mace that had completed the hard work, into the magic bag, and the old lover, the halberd, was once again in Walm’s hands.
Letting the halberd touch the ground to assert itself, Walm kept his eyes on the visitors without opening his mouth. The approaching adventurer didn’t stop. The development of muscles and bones cultivated through actual battles could be seen even above the equipment. Without looking at the face and paying attention only to the demeanor, the adventurer was probably about in his twenties. Of course, the deeply carved wrinkles and gray hair and beard spoke eloquently of his age.
The equipment was well polished, but countless fine scratches were visible, even if that wasn’t intentional. From the degree of rubbing on the joints, the history of battles, especially the length of experience diving the labyrinth, was conveyed. His arm was naturally placed far from the sword at his waist, tacitly indicating no hostility.
“You really are diving alone, huh? Even an average party that can reach here may get swallowed up by the labyrinth if they ever mess up.”
Flattery first. Not a bad choice to begin a conversation, but Walm couldn’t remember the adventurer’s face. And unfortunately, the sleep-deprived Walm didn’t have enough patience to engage in useless probing.
“Have we met somewhere before?”
“Ah, how rude of me. It’s the first time we’ve met. Recently, there’s a man who keeps diving the labyrinth alone, which is rare, and it’s become a hot topic in the tavern. This rumor crossed my mind when I saw you. And, I couldn’t help myself from giving my greeting.”
“Adventurers sure love rumors.”
“Well, it’s an unreliable business after all. Interacting and exchanging information is essential for adventurers. It can’t be helped, you know.”
Walm sensed that he was being treated with great caution, but at the same time, he also felt that the adventurer was more sincere than other adventurers who only looked at him from a distance.
The adventurer’s way of speaking was soft, perhaps because of his age. In any case, it made Walm reluctant to drive the adventurer away in a rude way, and decided to do it carefully.
“As you can see, no good information will come out of me.”
“How cold. Well, it may not be worth anything, but I’m rooting for you. I mean, as a labyrinth explorer, I want to see how far you can dive alone.”
The middle-aged man who sensed the intention of Walm’s words, obediently beat a retreat. Even if he was an adventurer, Walm wouldn’t simply hate him, as long as he was a good person.
“I’m not a big deal, not worthy enough to receive such words, but… well, thank you. I pray for your endeavor too.”
Walm, finished with his formalities, saw off the man who was about to leave, but the man suddenly stopped.
The adventurer turned back around and made a face as if he had forgotten something, he said,
“Oh, right. I forgot to ask you your name. Let me give mine first, my name is Fausto.”
“Walm, is it? Although my memory has been getting worse with age, I’ll do my best to remember your name. Hopefully, we’ll meet again in the labyrinth.”
Looked satisfied this time, Faust retreated to his companions. Only he approached Walm, the other four of his parties only watched from a distance. How considerate of them.
It was an unexpected event before the break, but Walm didn’t feel uncomfortable. Resting his back against the wall, he began to enjoy the coldness of the ground again. The demon mask on his waist vibrated slightly. The meaning of the vibration wasn’t alerting Walm. Apparently, the mask had taken a liking to the middle-aged adventurer.
“Seriously… Do you tremble at anyone you like?”
As Walm jokingly scolded the flirtatious mask, it began to vibrate at high speed in anger. His lower back itched as if a cicada had just crawled out of the ground and clung to his waist.
“I’m just joking. Stop it. My bad. Sorry.”
After repeated apologies, the demon mask’s anger finally subsided. Although the event happened inside the cloak, if the exchange was witnessed, surely, Walm would look like someone who had challenged the labyrinth for too long, so that he was suffering from a mental disorder.
With a small smile on his face, Walm decided to surrender to his fatigue. After all, what he could eat now were only cold black bread and dried meat. Something that the taste wouldn’t change even after some time had passed.
Walm’s magic bag had only the capacity of one and a half to two large backpacks and that sometimes troubled him. What a luxurious problem.
In addition to the necessary supplies and goods that had accumulated since the Highserk era, the consumables and food in the labyrinth took up more than half of the space. If the things collected in the labyrinth were added to it, even after subtracting the consumables, it would be hard to say that the remaining capacity would be enough.
Therefore, Walm decided to return to the surface to replenish the consumables and sell the goods from the labyrinth.
After jumping into the black hole in the transfer room, Walm went to the room that was on the way to the waiting area. It was a cleaning room where orc meat was usually processed. After washing the goods of dirt, he entered the waiting area.
Perhaps because he had dived all the way to the breaking point of the mid-rank, the crowd felt really lively. Apart from that, Walm went to the reception, as usual, avoiding the people as much as he could.
“Welcome back. You’ve been diving for a long time this time. How deep did you dive?”
Lisi, who was going about her daily duties at the reception, interrupted her work to greet Walm.
Walm returned the tally he had taken out, and replied,
“That’s, indeed quite deep. Then, next is the 26th floor. On this floor, only monsters that are difficult to attack with slashing and slamming attacks will appear. Walm-san, can you use magic?”
Fortunately, Walm possessed a high affinity for two attributes, fire and wind, and in many battles, it had proven to be effective.
“I can use wind and fire magic”
“With these two types of attacks, it can’t be said that there’s a lack of countermeasures. If you can’t use any, I would’ve done my best to stop you from going deeper on your own. But, it seems, you can still go alone.”
Lisi said this with a face that said, “Even if I tell you to stop, you won’t listen.”. That might be the case, but it wasn’t enough to completely stop Lisi from giving Walm advice to increase his survival rate.
After hearing some information from Lisi about the next floor, Walm said honestly,
“I’m sorry. Seems I’ve increased your work again.”
“Well, it’s the first time that someone from this ordinary reception has been able to dive to the 25th floor alone. As long as when it’s in my working time, I’ll do my best to support such a person. Well, to be honest, I hope you’ll register as an adventurer in the guild. In this case, you’ll contribute to the evaluation of the guild and also to me too. This is the most desirable scenario, but I can’t force it on you.”
Lisi jokingly muttered such displeasure.
Grateful and embarrassed at the same time, Walm’s thoughts wandered and found the existence of the bracelet he’d picked up in the labyrinth.
“I can’t give such a contribution, but last time, you said you wanted a tribute, right?”
Walm fumbled around in his waist bag and took out a silver bracelet.
“Tribute? Can’t you say it bette… umm, what’s that?”
“I got it from the labyrinth. Even though the design is the crimson grass flower that only blooms in the labyrinth, it’s too cute to be worn by a man. Even if I sell it, I’m sure it’ll only be worth a few silver coins. I’d be happy if Lisi, who’s taken care of me on more than a few occasions, received it.”
Walm quietly placed the bracelet on the reception table and motioned for Lisi to take it.
Lisi, who was holding her head in confusion, quickly changed her expression and uttered,
“Fufu, fu, I’ve never thought that the first person to actually bring me a tribute would be Walm-san….. even if you give me a tribute, I can only support you from here when I’m working, you know?”
“I know, but that’s fine. That alone helps me enough.”
“If that’s the case, I’ll gladly receive it. Even if you ask me to return it later, I won’t give it back, okay?”
“I’ll try my best not to.”
Lisi grabbed the bracelet and lowered her gaze to it, stroking it before putting it away.
With that, one task was completed. Deftly, Walm left the reception. It wasn’t a bar counter after all. Lingering here for long wouldn’t only get in the other people’s way but also disturb their business. In the worst case, being labeled as a person under surveillance after getting kicked out would be the result… That wouldn’t be funny. Really, it wouldn’t.
The next task for today would be to visit an equipment shop. Walm must use the earned coins to buy the necessary items to challenge the 26th floor, which was known for being a mid-rank killer.
After crossing the stone-paved passage, the bright sky gave its warm greeting. Walm narrowed his eyes at the glare. As he was embraced by the hot sun, he remembered that the last time he was on the surface, it was the twin moons that hugged him goodbye.
“Seems, my body has got too used to the labyrinth.”
Somehow, Walm could sympathize with the mole that had crawled out of the dark earth. Like them, surely all the people who returned from the labyrinth during the day had to frown because of the difference in light intensity. Of course, this was no exception for Walm.
TN: Join my discord channel if you want.