With lady Sharon leading the way, we arrive at the Third Dungeon in the eastern district of the city. The entrance is guarded by the Kingdom’s soldiers.
In this country, the harvestable resources of its dungeons have long since been an inextricable part of its citizens’ livelihoods. On our way to the dungeon, I saw inns, diners, taverns, equipment stores, dealers that would pay for made-in-dungeon items, and other such establishments that cater to Explorers all over the place.
It turns out that in this country, people working jobs related to Explorers or dungeons actually take up a whole thirty percent of its population. I suppose the mining towns of Earth in the old days would have looked similar to this.
“Milady, I have a question.”
“What… *huff*… is it?”
It was an hour’s walk from the guild to arrive at this dungeon, a relatively short distance. Nevertheless, we have been walking rather quickly, and used to the lifestyle of a noble as she is, milady is being somewhat out of breath at the moment. It makes her look quite… sultry.
She’s monopolizing all the gazes of the male Explorers around us. No surprises there; the jiggliness is rather obvious.
“I have heard that dungeons attract monsters. In that case, how do dungeons inside cities replenish their monster supplies?”
Milady shows an adorable expression with her mouth wide-open. It seems she hasn’t ever thought about it before.
“U-umm, yes, that’s right, the soldiers must be going outside of town to capture—”
“Excuse me, sir—yes, you, sir, the rather intellectual-looking mister with the glasses,” I say, 30% a compliment, “would you mind answering something for me?”
“At least let me finish talking, Letty!”
Faced with a cute little lady in her teens and her maid, the glasses-wearing man in his late twenties (who also looks like he’s never had a girlfriend) is all too happy to talk.
According to him, outside the city and in the Dark Woods, there are holes in the ground that only suck in monsters. People call them ‘monster pitfalls’.
These strange ‘pitfalls’ only ever appear around a dungeon, and so the current leading theory is that these holes are tunnels created by the dungeon, like roots of a large tree, in order to capture monsters.
Thank you for your answers, mister glasses. Farewell.
Once again, I’m struck by how convenient this world is. Truly.
For example, Skills. In a normal world, I doubt that the idea of ‘quantifying Skills in visible form’ would even exist.
Perhaps this world might have an Administrator of sorts.
I haven’t ever met one before, however. I only know what the Maid Chief told me. At any rate, the gist is that Administrators are “those who act the role of gods”.
Some among them even believe themselves to be actual gods and tell whatever sapient lifeforms on their world that “I am your creator!”, but apparently, there’s no such thing as a being powerful and human enough to create a whole world. Those with the capability to create on a planetary scale would have mindsets much too alien for them to ‘perceive’ the world in that way.
Administrators can be broadly categorized into two types: one, they could be the Will of the World type, one that acts like an enormous computer to maintain the world in an eternal, mindless vigil. This type is fine.
But the second type, Parasites that have latched onto a world, are a lot more dangerous. The reason is that some Parasites may have human minds and emotions, and they would isolate a country or even a whole continent from the rest of the world to turn it into their playground.
That sort of Parasites are rare, it seems. But if this place turns out to be a carefully-managed ‘sandbox world’, then things might just get troublesome…
“Oh yes, Letty, we will need to prepare your own equipment too.”
Milady says in sudden realization. She then looks into her wallet and frowns.
“There is no need, milady. I do not particularly mind.”
“But I do!”
We’re going to the dungeon to earn money in the first place. We wouldn’t be here if we have the spare money for equipment.
“We’ll just earn it back later. You will be getting some decent equipment, even if it takes all the money I have. No objections allowed!”
Milady has made her decision. As her maid, it is no longer my place to say anything. If there is a thought to be voiced, however, then I suppose it would be that all the money she has isn’t actually enough.
“Then may I be allowed to make my pick of equipment, milady?”
“Of course. Go ahead.”
And so I go in the store alone while milady takes her rest.
I return fifteen minutes later right on the dot, my maid uniform still unchanged.
“…Letty… what is that?”
“A fortunate discovery, milady.”
Milady seems to want to say something more, but she hasn’t needed to worry. She should know that a maid’s uniform is also her combat armor.
What I purchased was a single weapon that took all of our funds.
“With this Orc Killer in my hand, I am as a bull given wings, as a maid given a feather duster.”
“What a strange metaphor, Letty.”
This Orc Killer that I bought is an enormous spiked club made of magic iron. Magic iron is iron that strongly retains mana, and the strength of the material would improve upon attuning with the user’s own magic power.
This thing has been collecting dust in a corner of the weapon shop. From what I’ve heard, it has drunk the blood of so many orcs that it has since turned into a sort of cursed weapon; it’s extremely effective against orcs, but in return the weapon would enrage every orc that catches sight of it. Nobody wanted to buy it. It was how I managed to get it for so cheap.
The shopkeeper was blubbering in tears when I bought it. He must have been overjoyed to have finally managed to get rid of it.
I’m sure it wasn’t because I used the Maid-style Shopping Technique to get it for a quarter of the price.
“Come, come, let’s go, milady.”
“Hey-wait-are you really sure that’s enough?”
So it is that we enter the dungeon without any problems.
This Third Dungeon is inside a city, and thus it isn’t particularly difficult. It’s suitable for even students and beginner Explorers.
Fundamentally, dungeons mean resources. Useful dungeons are protected by the countries, while dungeons forming in farmlands or are undesirable in other ways would be exterminated.
This particular dungeon is one of the more unusual ones. It generates a very useful resource: rock salt. The country very much values the Third Dungeon, for it removes the need to import salt.
And now we come to the reason why this dungeon is considered a beginner’s dungeon: the monsters inside this dungeon all have high blood pressure — possibly due to their high-sodium diet — which weakened their kidneys and subsequently, their health.
“I see that the meat of monsters here wouldn’t make for good ingredients.”
“I’m not going to eat monsters from anywhere, Letty!”
The food in this world all contain mana. As mana is also a sort of nutrient, food rich in mana would taste stronger.
The obvious conclusion would be that animals that have turned into monsters due to mana would taste more delicious. Unfortunately, this is not so. The meat of monsters has too much mana, and anyone eating monster meat would get a stomachache.
Which is why monster meat isn’t normally eaten. There is a method to remove the mana, but there is also a more fundamental problem that removing mana doesn’t fix: the taste. Monster meat tastes so strongly that no one can eat it much.
In other words, monster meat in this world is seen as a sort of canned food with the most offensive smell ever.
I can deal with the smell and taste too, yet the caterpillars and centipedes hadn’t been very well received by milady. How strange. I thought it was delicious.
We enter the dungeon. There’s a lot of people inside. About as much as the amount of people walking around a shopping district in the early morning, I would say.
“L-Letty, stay behind me. It’s dangerous.”
Milady is acting like an older sister protecting her younger sibling. So precious.
She’s wearing a second-hand set of leather armor, with a staff in her hand that also looks used. She really looks the part of a magician. Unfortunate for her efforts, her much-too-obvious clumsiness just makes her look like a baby lamb that people should protect instead.
And now, the wolves that walk and talk like young human men are coming closer.
“Hey there, young ladies. Would you like to-”
“My, there’s a caterpillar.”
A giant caterpillar just happens to show up at the right time. I jump out from behind milady and crush it into paste with a swing of my spiked club.
The magic iron club is still intact even with my magic pouring into it. What a wonderful weapon.
This caterpillar was around two meters long. It felt weaker than those in the Dark Woods, if I remember correctly. Ah, but milady is standing stock-still with her staff in hand.
“My apologies for interrupting your conversation.”
“Holy shit, a Crawler just got one-shotted…”
I give my one-meter long spiked club a light swing to flick off the caterpillar juices on it. The men’s faces pale, and they immediately make their escape.
“Letty?! Didn’t I tell you to stay behind me?! That’s one of the stronger monsters on the upper floors!”
“Yes, milady. A maid’s place is certainly behind her mistress.”
I nonchalantly return to my spot behind her. Indeed, no maid should be so brazen as to stand in front of her mistress.
“Do you actually understand what I’m saying?!”
My… I have erred, it seems. On the other hand, milady now knows me to be combat-capable, and she has allowed me to fight in the front.
“…right, Letty, you’ve killed Crawlers in the Dark Woods already, haven’t you…”
“I used a kitchen knife and a pot lid back then, milady.”
Anyway, we decide to go a little bit further in. Partly to avoid the men’s irritating gazes, too.
I believe his highness Joel and Karl have been going into this dungeon not to earn money, but to train. This dungeon has been here for almost a thousand years, and it has over a hundred floors. It’s unlikely we would meet those nuisances if they’ve gone deeper in.
“Milady, this wall here has a different tint to it.”
“Ah, that’s salt. So there’s a new floor now.”
We’ve finally found what we came here for. Milady takes out her mining tools.
Those caterpillars have magic stones inside them, which can be sold for five small silver coins (about five thousand yen) each. However, like last time, I’ll be keeping them for the magitools in milady’s room. I have no plans to sell them.
One 500-grams pot full of salt would sell for two small silvers. Somewhat expensive, as I expected. Just this single mining spot should net us quite a bit.
“I can’t believe we found a floor with salt so close to the surface that’s still untouched. We’re really lucky this time!”
“Indeed. Fortune must have smiled on us due to your good deeds, milady.”
“C-come on, Letty…”
Not used to being praised, milady immediately turns bashful.
…I can’t believe her family would turn their backs on such an adorable young lady. Perhaps I should take matters into my own hand…
“L-Letty? …you’re looking kind of, umm, evil…”
“Oh my, please forgive this maid. Milady looks so cute I accidentally let loose my inner pervert for a moment.”
“What in the world are you talking about?!”
It’s love, milady, the love between a mistress and her servant.
“Would it be time for us to return, milady?”
“Let’s take a look a little deeper. Maybe we can even find a dungeon item.”
The unexpected haul has gotten milady quite eager.
The salt we’ve collected is currently inside milady’s Bag of Holding. Apparently it uses magic stones as batteries to allow one to store around 100 kilograms’ worth of things in it, no matter how large or heavy they are.
It’s very handy. It also makes me wonder why milady has it, considering how poor she is. According to her, it was one of the things her birth mother had left for her, as well as the only thing she had managed to keep for herself.
The more baggage it stores, the faster the magic stone would run out. Perhaps we should try to hunt more monsters on the way for their magic stones, then.
Following lady Sharon’s guide, the two of us go deeper inside. I stay on guard, at times using my magic power to intimidate and chase away the small-fry monsters that wouldn’t be profitable, preventing them from approaching milady.
Then I feel something moving deeper in. I stop.
“I feel the presence of humans, milady, though somewhat some way away. It wouldn’t be a problem if they are simply other Explorers. Still, I recommend caution.”
Milady nods, her face serious. She understands what I wanted to say.
Milady’s relatives aren’t the only ones to spurn her so, as her undeveloped skills in control of magic has also caused her to be shunned by her peers. Noble houses of lower ranks and commoners wouldn’t dare show her contempt, of course, but there are still people like Karl. Better to be cautious than not.
“…and he used to be such a good, honest kid back then…”
…is it your hobby to set up flags so enthusiastically?
“Milady, please step back.”
I step in front of her the moment I feel several presences coming from further ahead.
“…something is coming.”
…not people, it seems. They walk on two legs, but their footsteps feel much too heavy and warped.
Appearing in front of us are green-skinned monsters with faces resembling pigs.
My, my, how strange. The monsters immediately go mad with rage the moment they see us, slamming their wooden clubs against the ground and making quite a lot of unpleasant noises.
“…o-orcs…” Milady squeaks.
I see, these monsters are orcs… then perchance, was my Orc Killer actually the flag that has called them here?