Chapter 62 : Toward The New Labyrinth
「… A forest? It’s quite close to the highway, isn’t it?」
Reis answered from within the forest, where the group was located after escaping the treants. Many Small Treants had intercepted their path, but they were all either killed in one shot by Tama’s《Elemental Howl》or bisected by Stella’s greatsword.
According to their map, there wasn’t a forest near the highway, but their current surroundings truly resembled a forest.
A creepy voice resounded from inside of the forest.
In mere moments, a two meters tall monkey-like monster appeared in front of them.
Aria’s eyes opened wide when she saw what exactly threatened them.
「That’s… a〝Giant Ape〟!」
Giant Apes were ferocious monsters known for their hobby of tormenting humans. They commonly appeared in forest-type labyrinths, not in forested areas.
However, Aria wasn’t surprised by its sudden appearance.
「Could this forest… be a labyrinth?」
Aria, Tama, and Reis peeked out from inside of the coach as they pondered about it.
「Let’s leave this matter for later. Can I leave this monster to you, Stella-chan?」
「Hmph, being ordered by Aria is so frustrating it makes me want to rampage. Leave it to me!」
As soon as she finished speaking, Stella leaped out from the roof of the carriage.
By transforming into her dragonewt form, she boosted herself but Tama followed after her with another buff.
「Nyaa~!《Divine Protection of Lion King》!」
The buff was more for his peace of mind than necessity. Giant Apes were C-rank monsters, they weren’t a match for Stella.
Tama did not forget his power and was ready to fire away his《Elemental Howl》.
The Giant Ape raised its hands while making a lot of noise, attempting to intimidate the humans. It wasn’t effective on Stella, though. She merely raised her Mega Shield in response.
The loud sound of a fist against metal resounded in the area.
Stella nonchalantly swung her Mega Shield to the side.
The Giant Ape gaped at the small human that easily defended against its fist.
Until recently, Stella couldn’t do much more than defend against attacks.
Since she upgraded her Shield Arts, she became more skilled, capable of parrying attacks with her shield instead.
The parry created an opening that Stella was more than happy to take advantage of.
With a powered slash, she tore into the Giant Ape’s flank.
「Reis-san, this looks like a newly born labyrinth… !」
「To an adventurer like you, it must be a gold mine, right?」
One day, a labyrinth suddenly appeared in a deserted area.
Because of it, people discovered that recently born labyrinths that hadn’t been visited by anyone had a treasure box. Like a reward for the first to discover it, the box contained either legendary or phantasmal materials.
For an adventurer, it was the dreamland where one could make a fortune overnight.
(I have to finish escorting Reis-san and the Earth Dragon’s skeleton to a safe area first.)
Even Aria was having a hard time resisting the temptation of a newly born labyrinth. However, as an adventurer, she had to give priority to her commission.
Though it felt like the new labyrinth was calling to her, she ignored it, rounding up Tama and Stella and leaving the forest.
They arrived at the gate of Gladdstone before the dawn, and Reis quickly expressed his gratitude for their efforts.
「Fuuh, we barely made it out in one piece. Dear me. Thank you very much, Aria-san, Stella-san, and Tama-chan.」
During the trip, they had many monster encounters, a surprise attack in the middle of the night and even that labyrinth that suddenly appeared near the highway.
If not for the combination of Aria’s keen judgment, Stella’s power and Tama’s 《Divine Protection of Lion King》, they wouldn’t have arrived safely.
「Don’t mention it. It’s our job, after all. Now, let’s bring this dragon corpse to your company. I need to report to the guild about the completion of the commission and the new labyrinth around the highway after dawn.」
「How admirable of you, Aria-san. It’s fine if you want to return to the labyrinth immediately, you know?」
「… Can I?」
Aria was a little embarrassed from being read so easily.
「Of course. It’s my workers’ turn to work hard. I’m extremely indebted to you and your comrades for escorting me so far. I want you guys to get more profit, so go to the untouched labyrinth.」
His suggestion made sense. Reis was a man who understood the adventurers’ circumstances. He knew that any adventurer would be more than willing to enter an untouched labyrinth because of the riches inside.
「Then… Allow us to heed your advice.」
「By all means. If possible, I’d be delighted if you brought any materials you find to my firm. They could use them as research objects.」
「I gladly accept your offer. Then… Stella-chan, Tama. Are you two ready for another round?」
「Nyaa~! (Leave it to me, master!)」
「Of course! My previous rampage wasn’t even enough to warm up!」
Tama and Stella were eager to go. Although Stella didn’t understand the temptation of a virgin labyrinth, the promise of a fight was enough to fire her up.
「I’d like it if you took a Lizard Carrier with you. Once it gets too dangerous, please order it to return before you enter the labyrinth. However… Doing so will force you guys to return by foot.」
「That’s plenty for us, I’ll take your offer. Thank you very much!」
「Well then, Godspeed.」
Reis sent them off with a smile on his face.
Somehow, Aria felt his smile held a bit of grief, like a bad premonition.
But she didn’t have time to think about that. Now she could sell the materials she got from a virgin labyrinth straight to the merchant.
To Aria, this was very good news. Selling the materials through the guild would net lesser profits because of the intermediation fees. But as long as one had a direct connection with a merchant, there would be no need to pay intermediation fees.
Aria wasn’t a greedy person. However, she needed money to complete her dream.
She wanted to travel the world as a warrior of justice. To do that, she needed to prepare several bases of operations. Not to mention saving for Stella’s future.
Because of those points, she needed to be the first to arrive at that labyrinth. Even if by chance someone else had been there, she could still get some profit.
「Tama, Stella-chan, let’s drink a stamina potion.」
The three of them rode on a Lizard Carrier.
Aria held the reins, with Stella behind her and Tama in her cleavage. She took out a stamina potion from her bag and gave it to them.
「UgEEH… So bitter! ――But my fatigue is… Gone?」
Stella was taken by surprise by the potion’s taste and frowned in disgust, only to be surprised again when she felt the potion taking effect.
For a former monster like Stella, it could be said that this was the first time she had been cured by an item.
(Yosh! I was getting sleepy, but thanks to this potion I can keep going now.)
Even Tama’s infant body that had almost succumbed to drowsiness was brought back thanks to the stamina potion.
Aria’s daydreams as she fed Tama were a story for another time.
(Aaa~hn! It’s as if I’m breastfeeding him~♡!)