“Alt floor? At the third floor, there was an Alt engraved at the entrance…….!!! Could it be the ‘Crimson Corridor’?! To think it actually existed.”
“We have confirmed the Crimson Corridor… I won’t be surprised anymore. I have grown up.”
Accomplishing the first encounter of a Marikosan, I was able to reunite with everyone at the next floor.
We decided to finish the exploration of that day and returned to the hotel.
Third floor clear.
We anticipated that we would be able to go even lower, but we had a harder time than expected.
While we were doing a reflection meeting of sorts, Iroha-chan and her group who were taking refuge here were participating at some point in time.
Shougetsu-san was surprised when he heard the name Crimson Corridor and we received words of surrender from Iroha-chan.
“According to Hokuto, the route till the 10th floor has been made, and if there’s a problem happening from tomorrow on, it would definitely be those Alt floors. A place where not even thought transmission works, just what kind of mechanism is at work there?” (Tomoe)
“That’s the part. It seems like there’s some sort of requirements. You have to show excelling results at the previous floor in order to be thrown to those Alt floors, so it would be bad to hurry too much and get everyone separated.” (Makoto)
I don’t think speed is the only condition.
At the Garden, the condition was the number of Drakes defeated, or it was at least one of the conditions.
Leaving me aside, in the cases where Beren, Hokuto or Shii are thrown into the Alt floor, it might become dangerous.
The lower we go, the dangers most likely increase.
“Then, how about going to the labyrinth with just Tomoe-san, Waka-sama, and I from tomorrow on? If it’s us, no matter who gets thrown into the strange floor, there won’t be much problems.” (Mio)
Mio proposes what’s possibly the number one safest way.
It is true that with that there will be no dangers.
If it’s only us three, most of anything would be okay.
But…there will be no mapping from Hokuto, no judgment from Beren, and no deftness of Shii.
In a dungeon environment, their abilities might even be better adapted than us three. Especially in lower floors where we don’t have a decent amount of information. That can’t be called a good idea.
The words of Mio served as the trigger. A number of proposals were coming here and there.
Of course, there were the proposals saying they wanted to accompany us. Their desire to accompany us from tomorrow on was clear to see.
Even if they don’t go to the labyrinth, they can do things like gather information regarding Iroha-chan, so it is not like there’s nothing for them to do.
But that part is not the original objective, or more like, its priority is low.
The number one priority is to put all our effort in making the negotiation with the mercenary group succeed, you know…
The reflection meeting that continued till dinner had idle talk mixed in it as well, and it didn’t look like the decision could be reached.
“I have an opinion. Is it okay to say it?”
That voice came from my back.
At a place that was close to my neck, a blade was placed there, and with the other hand that wasn’t holding it, that person saluted.
Tomoe, Mio, and everyone else noticed the current situation after those words.
Well, that was the same for me.
It truly was as if he had suddenly appeared just now.
Really a surprise.
So surprised that I lost the chance to get panicked.
But within that surprise, one person directed the words ‘Grand Master’ at that man.
A word I am not familiar with.
It is a word that I feel was given to some sort of robot in a game.
The owner of the voice is Shougetsu-san.
“Umu, it has been a while, Shougetsu-kun. You have gotten quite the presence now.”
“Y-Yes. Rokuya-sama truly hasn’t changed.” (Shougetsu)
“I am an eternal 20 years old after all.” (Rokuya)
Suddenly turning his blade at me, yet speaking nonchalantly; I don’t know what kind of intentions he has, but this man that seems to be an acquaintance of Shougetsu-san even introduced himself and made a joke. He parted the blade from my neck, and, without any noise, he moves towards the wall and places his back there.
Is he an assassin?
I can instantly tell that he is incredibly skilled.
I don’t know what skill it was, but not a single person in this room was able to catch his presence.
Because he moved, I was able to confirm his appearance as well.
He has a low height similar to mine which is pretty rare in this world, white hair that’s neither long or short, extremities that I can feel firmness and flexibility from.
To my surprise, his appearance is a lot further than the standard of this world, even more than me. <Don’t know if he is calling him ultra beautiful, or incredibly ugly.>
The identity of the blade that was at my neck are a pair of katars.
He wasn’t taking a stance with them, he only had them with him.
“…Shougetsu-san, who is he?” (Makoto)
“He…Rokuya-sama is my…master’s master.” (Shougetsu)
Ah, so that’s why it is grand huh.
Like when you say grandparent.
Shougetsu-san who is already an old man is calling him the master of his master; just how should I read those words of being ‘eternally 20 years old’?
However, the appearance of the man named Rokuya is really around 20.
Is his aging stopped with some sort of method?
“I am a passing assassin, name’s Rokuya. Pleased to meet you.” (Rokuya)
“I am Raidou. The representative of Kuzunoha Company. Pleasure is mine.” (Makoto)
“Sorry for doing something dangerous a few moments ago. Since I wanted to see the person who was able to pass the Crimson Corridor, I suddenly did something as stupid as that against my better judgment. Even though you were approached to such a proximity, you didn’t seem to flinch at all. It has been a while since that happened. You are quite…splendid.” (Rokuya)
“Rokuya… Assassin Rokuya. Are you the real one? You are still alive? Is this a joke?”
“I thought Shougetsu-sama was able to make funny jokes, and yet…seriously, this joke’s not funny at all.”
The two bodyguards of Iroha-chan were dumbfounded.
By the way, Tomoe and Mio had taken their battle stances in an instant, so I command them with my hand and calm them down.
Because if he went through the trouble of speaking with us, that means he didn’t come here with the intentions of killing.
He is still an unknown factor though.
“Rokuya-san, was it?” (Makoto)
“Yeah. The remaining people here are your subordinates, and…the people that serve princess Iroha, right?” (Rokuya)
“That’s right. And so, is it okay to assume that you are not an enemy?” (Makoto)
I heard the word Assassin.
Lately, I have been attacked by those all the time.
Even I wouldn’t just assume that he is not related.
“Fumu, currently, the answer to that question would be that…I am not.” (Rokuya)
After a short silence, Rokuya-san faces me and answers in that fashion.
“…Then, what’s your business?” (Makoto)
“I was a bit interested in the objective of you guys. I heard that Raidou-kun’s objective is the 20th floor, more accurately speaking, the mercenary group. Is that true?” (Rokuya)
“…Yeah, that’s true. But that doesn’t answer my question.” (Makoto)
“Of course, I know. Let’s answer in order. About me, well, it would help me a lot if you just ask that from Shougetsu-kun later. In that way, the information would be more definite than if I were to say it myself after all.” (Rokuya)
It is more definite than him speaking himself?
What does that mean?
“Then, what’s your answer to Waka’s question-ja? Speak in the time we are being docile.” (Tomoe)
“That’s what I shall do, dragon samurai. The reason why I visited Raidou-kun…one of them is, just as I said before, my interest for the person that was able to pass the third floor’s Alt floor; the other one was to confirm his objective; and the last one, is to leave a message to him.” (Rokuya)
“Message, you say?” (Tomoe)
From the voice of Tomoe, I could tell that she was pretty angered towards Rokuya-san.
That was the same for Mio and everyone of Asora here.
Everyone from Iroha’s side seemed to feel some sort of reverence towards this person called Rokuya-san.
The reason why they haven’t participated at all in the conversation unless they are directly spoken to by Rokuya-san must be because of those emotions of theirs.
“Right now, my comrades and I are together with the mercenary group you set your objective on. By the way, the current leader of that mercenary group is my disciple you see. Name’s Vivi –not Bibi, okay? She gets pretty angry about that, so be careful. Also, she can be considered the direct mentor of Shougetsu-kun there.” (Rokuya)
The leader of the mercenary group is the mentor of Shougetsu-san?!
Wouldn’t that make her quite the old woman?!
Is she still in active duty?
Well, it seems like she is mindful about being called Bibi instead of Vivi -though I feel like they are both the same-, so at that time, let’s be considerate about it.
My name is Makoto, but if we play with the words a bit, it can turn into Maggot <Magotto in engrish>, and I wouldn’t like that either.
“Yes, Vivi-sama is my mentor. She is probably the person that possesses the most prominent skills in stalking and surprise attacks. A pro at raids.” (Shougetsu)
What an unpleasant explanation.
Yeah, I don’t like it.
As a negotiation target, I don’t have a good feeling about this.
Even before I meet her, I can say that.
When I look at Shougetsu-san, I could see that he was talking about his mentor with pride. There were no signs of doubt. He didn’t feel anything negative from it.
Have no choice but to say that they are in a great teacher and student relationship.
“I see. Then, that message you have for me is…” (Makoto)
Could it be from that Vivi-san?
“No, it is not from her. It is from a different person that’s at the same floor. It was a favor from a comrade of mine, so I am fulfilling it since I was going outside anyways. Well, I decided to take it. As a result, I was able to meet an…outstanding talent like you.” (Rokuya)
“A different person…” (Makoto)
“I don’t know the details of his business or his plans, but according to him: ‘Going right now would be the worst timing for both sides. If you want to negotiate with Rosegarden, I want you to wait for a while’.” (Rokuya)
Worst timing huh.
I don’t know the current situation of the 20th floor, but it doesn’t sound like a message with evil-intent.
It depends how long.
If it’s to a certain extent, I think I can wait.
“That ‘wait’, how long is it exactly?” (Makoto)
“I wasn’t told the details. If it is okay with my subjective opinion, I can tell you though.” (Rokuya)
“I don’t mind.” (Makoto)
“I see. To me, it felt like he was talking about several years time.” (Rokuya)
Can’t wait for so long.
And those are not the words of the mercenary group’s Vivi-san, but of someone else.
In other words, it was a warning from a third party.
They don’t know our circumstances either.
Then, there’s plenty room to try and make a direct negotiation.
“…You have a face that’s saying it is way too long.” (Rokuya)
“Just as you say. We want to request the strength of Picnic Rosegarden as soon as possible.” (Makoto)
“I don’t understand. It might be rude to say this, but I don’t think you guys need their strength at all. If it’s a battle at the 20th floor, it is certainly true that they might be strong enough to be a match, but…everything aside from that, I don’t think you guys would be falling behind them at all. You guys are stronger.” (Rokuya)
“The ones who need the strength of the rumored numbered one strongest at defensive battles are not us but Tsige.” (Makoto)
I decided to speak about our circumstances.
How to say it, it is because I felt like it was okay to speak about this to this Rokuya person in front of me.
“Tsige. The town of the people that challenge the World’s Border huh. No, it might not be the case now though.” (Rokuya)
“No, you are correct. Currently, Tsige is aiming for an independence from Aion and is fighting against two forces. Of course, in the advocacy of war, there’s negotiations and verbal disputes, but the strengthening of defenses is an urgent matter, and it is the strength that Tsige currently lacks the most.” (Makoto)
“…Are you saying that what you lack, Rosegarden can fill it?” (Rokuya)
The attitude of Rokuya-san was still skeptical.
The Kuzunoha Company and Picnic Rosegarden.
Looking at both as fighting forces and knowing them to a certain extent, it seems like he sees us as quite the power.
“We are thinking about being only a temporary help to Tsige.” (Makoto)
“A mercenary group that’s hired with money is the very definition of temporary, you know?” (Rokuya)
“But this will definitely become the example for many of the combatants of Tsige, and I think they will become an existence that will provide many lessons to them.” (Makoto)
“…Is that the meaning of your ‘temporary’?” (Rokuya)
“…Yes. I –the Kuzunoha Company is being called abnormal and monsters by a lot of people after all.” (Makoto)
“Kuku!! Abnormal and monsters huh! That’s quite unfortunate. You guys must be relied upon by their own convenience quite a lot then.” (Rokuya)
The calm face of Rokuya-san changed to a broad smile in an instant.
It was short, but it was to the point that he even laughed.
“I don’t really mind being relied on. As long as we are there, that is. Tsige has been taking care of us as well after all.” (Makoto)
“…Hoh. If you don’t think of it as a pain or troublesome, then, why is it not okay for you guys to help them out?” (Rokuya)
“We are being viewed as monsters by a lot of people, that’s why no one would want to learn from people like that. The word monster itself is a word that arbitrarily places the person as different kind of existences from themselves. A good habit.” (Makoto)
“That wouldn’t do. That’s why I want Tsige to be able to protect itself even after the independence. For that sake, I want to obtain the seed for it. If it’s them who have survived, protected till the end, and have worked as an organization, I think they will be able to become that seed. Even if the day that we have to leave Tsige arrives, I would be able to have peace of mind.” (Makoto)
“…Truly…interesting. Fumu. Now that I have heard this, the story changes. I have already mentioned this ‘worst situation’, and if Vivi and the others are handed down to Tsige, that would be great.” (Rokuya)
Hearing my words, the complexion of Rokuya-san changed, and while muttering his thoughts, he moves left and right.
However, that figure of his had no openings.
He is a person that’s always ready for battle.
“If you were with the intentions of having an excursion, I would have had you leave, but it seems like it was completely different. You have obtained an official entrance permission from the Empress, and your power…your way of thinking…yeah, nice!” (Rokuya)
“Eh? Nice?” (Makoto)
It is a word I wasn’t really expecting.
“Later, I want you to show me how abnormal you are, how much of a monster you guys are. If you are able to do that, I will become your intermediary. Saying it myself is questionable, but I can become a reliable ally, you know. Vivi is a wei—bothersome girl, but I -her master- will be your ally, so that single point alone would be an advantage. You can understand that, right?” (Rokuya)
It is not certain that she is a person that respects her mentor though. Things like the Confucianism had their questionable parts too after all.
I look at Shougetsu-san.
If it’s him who knows her directly, he should be able to serve as a measurement.
The result of the eye contact was a serious nod in return.
Okay, let’s accept.
“It is a grateful proposal. Then, is it okay to fight you now? Or do you have some sort of challenge in mind?” (Makoto)
“Hahaha. I am an assassin, you know? Even if I were to fight against this many powerhouses up front, it is clear that I will be defeated midway. It is the latter. I want you to reach the 10th floor by tomorrow. You can, right? You have enough power to be called a monster after all.” (Rokuya)
“With Alt floors and all?” (Makoto)
“…Haha, right. There were those. Understood. I will turn those off. No need to worry.” (Rokuya)
“If it’s something like that, there’s no problem in doing it temporarily. The one who wanted me to leave a message to you was the designer of Yaso-Katsui’s grand labyrinth after all. Him being there means that the last fail-safe has activated, in other words, it is a crisis for the grand labyrinth, but to tell you the truth, I don’t really feel that negative about it though. That extreme shut-in can be a pretty good talk when you speak with him personally. Seriously.” (Rokuya)
“I see… eh?” (Makoto)
The designer of the grand labyrinth?!
I don’t really want to meet him though?!
I don’t think I can have a good conversation with someone that has been a shut-in deep underground since forever(most likely).
Wait, Rokuya-san is not here anymore.
I didn’t notice at all again.
He nonchalantly said something dangerous like ‘crisis for the grand dungeon’.
I only have a bad feeling about this.
“…What a scary one-ja na. Depending on the situation, he can seal our thought transmission, infiltrate in anyone’s room without the person noticing, and disappear. Looks like this won’t end in simple sightseeing. Well, Waka, he really got us there.” (Tomoe)
Tomoe, who doesn’t really seem like she actually feels that way, only speaks heavily on her opening statement.
Moreover, the latter half sounded like she was having a hell lot of fun.
“Shougetsu, speak in detail about that person. Immediately, without hiding anything, and make it brief. Begin.” (Mio)
Mio doesn’t seem to be in a good mood.
Looks like she doesn’t see Rokuya-san in a favorable light.
This is of no importance, but I feel like saying everything without hiding anything while being brief about it is quite the difficult request.
Moreover, no questions asked.
“Ah, yes. Of course I will speak about what I know. Rokuya-sama seemed to be welcoming it after all.” (Shougetsu)
“I said brief!!” (Mio)
It seems she won’t accept any extra talk.
However, in the talk of Shougetsu-san that he began after being urged by Mio, there was something…Shougecking–I mean, shocking in it.
“Rokuya-sama is one of the people called the ‘Adventurers of Origin’. It seems like, in a long past, there were legends at every country about it, but now, most of those stories were not lost and still mostly remain at only the major power Lorel. Now then, I will be speaking of the legends and about my experience. Everything I know of.” (Shougetsu)
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