Chapter 19: The fat aristocrat discovers treasure
“I wonder what was so funny.”
“I don’t know—maybe we were a little strange.”
The two of them shook their heads, then regained their composure and resumed their conversation.
“A troll being here is probably an abnormal situation, right?”
It’s different from a kobold straying in—that’s dangerous; besides, it’s injured.”
Grace flicked her hair on her shoulder with a troubled expression.
She seemed to be somewhat irritated.
“Since we inflicted wounds, won’t it be easier for the next person who fights it?”
“A wounded beast is the most terrifying—if it’s cornered, it cannot decide to retreat.
It will come at you with all its might, risking its own life.”
“…It’s scary just to think of it coming at us with full force.”
Just recalling it sent a cold sweat down their spines.
“There will be many beginners like us on the 4th floor—it would be better if it didn’t become a big deal.”
“In times like these, what do people usually do?—Even though it’s unusual, strong monsters have come to shallow places before, right?”
“Hmm, I’ve heard that it’s customary for someone with the ability to take them down—the guild also sometimes requests quests to patrol shallow floors.”
“In that case, should we report to the guild?”
“A quest to defeat trolls will be posted, and someone will accept it.”
Mitrof hesitated a little and said, “It’s frustrating.”
“It’s frustrating that someone I can’t beat will be defeated by someone else.”
“Fufu… Mitrof is also a great hunter.
I understand your feelings.
However, the opponent is a monster—right now, preserving life is more important than settling scores with trolls.”
With a sigh, Mitrof buried his head in his double chin and told himself that there was nothing he could do.
It’s frustrating, but he doesn’t have the confidence to win.
If he loses, he’ll die.
He understood that.
Grace, seeing Mitrof’s feelings still unresolved, offered a different topic to change the mood.
“Where does this side hole lead to?—It’s not on the map…”
The map with no gaps has already been completed on the shallow floors.
Beginners, especially, purchase and collect these maps sold cheaply in guilds to venture into the labyrinth.
Grace peered into a side tunnel where trolls had appeared, comparing it to a map she had pulled out of her luggage.
“…Let’s move forward a bit.”
“We’ll turn around as soon as we sense any danger, okay?”
Each of them took out a lantern from their luggage and lit it.
They stepped into the side tunnel, stepping over debris.
There was no lantern on the walls, evidence that it was disconnected from guild management.
The air was damp and heavy, without any circulation.
With night vision, Grace led the way, sharpening her senses as a hunter and slowly advancing.
Mitrof had already drawn his sword, ready for an ambush.
Although it was the fourth basement level, an unusual troll had appeared.
They didn’t know what kind of monster they might encounter.
It wouldn’t have taken even five minutes.
Suddenly, in the middle of the corridor, a side tunnel opened up.
The two timidly extended their necks and peered into the side tunnel.
Even with a lantern, the darkness stretched beyond.
It seemed as though the path was gently sloping downwards.
“It looks like this path leads down—shall we go down?”
Grace turned her face and asked, but her eyebrows were furrowed.
Her expression clearly conveyed that she did not want to proceed.
Mitrof agreed with her eyebrows.
“… Going underground through a hidden passage seems a little scary.”
“… Should we turn back?”
“Let’s do that—we’ll leave it to someone braver to take on unknown paths.”
The two looked back at the tunnel.
The path still continued straight ahead.
That direction seemed safer than the side tunnel.
Both nodded at each other and started walking in that direction.
Soon, the path came to a dead end.
At the bottom of the wall, there was a small box.
They cautiously approached and looked down at the box together.
“It’s a box.”
“It’s not a box.”
“A box in the labyrinth?”
“This might be…”
Grace fell silent.
The box was made of very old and worn wood and was the size that could be held in one arm.
“It definitely looks artificial…someone left it here, didn’t they?”
Mitrof looked around.
There was no light, and the air was stagnant with the smell of humidity.
It seemed unlikely that anyone had gone in or out of here for several years, if not longer.
“Perhaps it’s a relic.”
“Like the cursed sword?”
“The cursed sword is the most famous relic; however, there are various other relics as well—my father had one too.”
The cursed sword, which was said to wield ancient miracles, was impossible to create with modern technology.
It was discovered in the depths of the labyrinth, and it was speculated to be a relic used by ancient adventurers.
However, not only swords but also a wide range of relics, from armor to cursed objects and dishes.
As Grace explained these things, Mitrof looked at the box with impressed eyes.
The old, suspicious box suddenly looked like a treasure box.
“Come to think of it, I’ve heard that there are nobles who collect items from the labyrinth—they collect relics, right?”
“I hear there are many hobbyists—anything, no matter how trivial, has value in the labyrinth relics.”
The two slowly looked down at the box.
Perhaps, there was something worth a fortune hidden inside.
“…Shall we open it?”
“…Let’s check it out.”
They both crouched down, and Mitrof extended his hand towards the lid of the box.
The front clasp was rusted, but with force, it broke open with a snap.
He exerted all his strength and lifted the lid.
It was a book decorated with silver embroidery on a black background, snugly embedded in a red silk cover.
“It looks expensive, but… it’s a book.”
“It seems to have value, but… it’s a book.”
When it’s a sword or a decoration, you can roughly estimate its value.
However, when it comes to a book, it’s difficult for both Mitrof and Grace to distinguish its value.
The cover was dyed black with leather that seemed to suck you in and had no title or even a single character.
Mitrof reached out to flip the cover, but just before he could, Grace tightly gripped his wrist and stopped him.
“This! Who would be stupid enough to touch a relic?
“Is it not allowed?”
“It is said that there were many powerful magicians in ancient times—some relics may still have their magic and curses cast upon them.
If you touch them recklessly and get cursed, there is no magician in this world who can help you.”
“…Isn’t that scary?!—You should have told me beforehand!”
“That’s why I stopped you!”
Grace gave Mitrof a dumbfounded look.
Sometimes, it seemed that Mitrof was even more ignorant of common sense than herself.
Grace realized that Mitrof, who was once a nobleman, took touching relics for granted as an adventurer.
Originally, Mitrof’s life was never supposed to involve venturing into labyrinths.
The common sense of an adventurer was not necessary for a noble.
Feeling the difference in status and upbringing over such a trivial matter, Grace had a complex feeling for just a moment.
“…Anyway, it’s best to rely on the guild appraiser for the relics—see, you should be able to touch the box.”
Grace closed the lid and lifted it up with both hands.
With their exploration for today finished, the two headed back.
They reported to the guild counter that they had encountered a troll, found a tunnel leading underground beyond a destroyed wall, and discovered a book inside a box.
Regarding the relic, the book, they entrusted it to the guild for appraisal.
For Mitrof and Grace, fighting for their lives against the troll and finding the relic were both significant achievements, but the guild receptionist showed excitement for the tunnel leading underground.
“That must be a “mole path”! It’s a hidden path that monsters use.
It’s amazing there’s one even on the fourth floor!—A new route may be established!”
The petite receptionist with her skewed round glasses says this while pushing them up, showing her excitement.
“…Well, that’s great and all, but what’s in it for us?”
Mitrof asked with little interest.
There was no point in being happy if there was no benefit to himself, even if it helped a total stranger.
“Well, you see, there’s a set reward for discovering a “mole path.”—And if a route to the underground floor is constructed, we’ll give you a free pass, you see?”
“Well, that’s good—It turned out to be an unexpected payday.”
“We should thank the troll for that.”
The two exchanged a smile.
The tension from facing the troll remained at the core of their bodies.
To wash it away, it was better to turn it into a laughing matter, even if it was a bit of a stretch.
“We’ll also send investigators from the guild, and we’ll report back to you on the reward at a later date.”
“What about the troll?”
“It will be issued as a quest in the form of a request from the guild—we’ll share the information with those who enter the labyrinth so they can be cautious.
But…both of you, be careful.”
The two tilted their heads as they heard the receptionist’s worrisome words.
“Monsters are said to have a good memory of anyone who harms them and don’t forget easily—there are also rare cases where they pursue their target with tenacity.”
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