I followed the kid's lead and it soon became three days of wandering around in the middle floor...
Right about now, I was able to make a inference regarding the role of these so called guides.
They can lead you to the right path without depending on their sense of direction, their mana, or magic lamps in this middle floor.
I had thought it was just their top-notch senses and physical abilities, but they had a much more peculiar kind of ability.
When you seek a guide for the middle floor, they'll probably be a strong individual that the client wouldn't easily meet.
It wasn't just this kid; the old lady that I had met in town was also at a level where you couldn't deal with her easily.
That's why these guys are generally of a lower social class.
It's a bit awkward for them to refuse a request outright, and their workplace is extremely dangerous.
In addition, they may be abused in some way once they get inside the dungeon.
Therefore, I thought that this job as a guide was the most dangerous, difficult and dirty; the most extreme of the 3Ds job.
The kid who had been silently walking through the passage stopped.
There was a new forked road in front of him.
Once they had departed the town, passed the entrance of the dungeon, gotten through the upper floor and the upper-middle floor, and reached this middle floor, they gained a greater social status.
The kid took out a small clock from his chest and checked the time, saying, "It's taken exactly three days."
It's been three days since we’ve entered the middle floor.
"There are thousands of people who unfortunately suffer an accident in the dungeons; no, it may actually be tens of thousands. It could also be even more than that."
The kid started talking.
If it were possible, I wish he'd speed up the conversation a bit more.
"However, even amongst them, there's a famous story. Do you know of it? Of the story of the swordmaster Eheram?"
"I'm talking about the story regarding Eheram, considered the strongest swordmaster of the continent, starving and dying in this dungeon's middle floor. Eheram and a guide had entered this dungeon together, but three days after entering, he argued with his guide."
That was obvious.
I'd really like to skip this conversation, though.
"After their argument, the furious guide left Eheram and exited the dungeon first. They say that when Eheram saw his guide do so, he screamed at him. That he could get out on his own. Eheram was left alone like that in the middle floor and they say that they found his skeleton two years later."
[It's finally time to kill him! Yoo-hoo! Warrior, have you killed a lot of children before?]
[Warrior. My mood is worsening to the point that it's slowly becoming unbearable. If it's at all possible, could you please put that magic sword on the other side of your waist? I want to be as far as possible from that thing.]
...I got it.
I moved the holy sword, which had been attached to the left side of my waist with the soul sword, to the right side of my waist.
It seemed as if the child thought my actions were dangerous.
"Why don't you go ahead and try to kill me? You won't be able to get out of here without me!" he desperately lashed out.
"It doesn't really matter much if I die here. After all, my life is in the gutters, so dying here isn't very different from dying outside. However, it's different for someone with a lot to lose like you, right, Swordsman?"
I wonder what that kid wants?
More money? The holy sword and the soul sword? If not those, then an apology for the violence from before?
I had already directly and indirectly conveyed my intent to the kid several times.
That if he had something he wanted to just say it.
That if it's proper, I'll just give it to him.
However, that kid's the one who ignored my intent.
"If you're by chance planning to steal my wand, you should just give up. This wand can only be used by my kin. If you're not a person with our kin's blood, this wand won't activate."
Yeah, I'm sure that's how it is.
Since it would only activate by blood offerings, he would prick his finger with the awl at the end of the wand.
I had thought that it would have that kind of condition.
And I could easily guess that the wand had that kind of limitation when I saw the kid use that wand so confidently in front of me.
[Hoo. Hoo. Hoo. Hoo. My blade is crying out!]
[Warrior, please just shove it into the subspace.]
Just as Seregia suggested, I shoved the holy sword into my inventory.
And I raised my hand, spreading my mana.
I briefly observed the dissipating mana.
There were three forked roads in front of my eyes.
The mana that flowed from my fingertips chaotically roamed the air and dissipated.
Before it dissipated, the mana's movement was extremely erratic.
However, after spreading my mana for three days and frequently observing it, I figured out that there was a pattern there.
This middle floor's maze is special.
It had several special points, but the most unique aspect was the mana obstruction magic.
And that this wasn't a spontaneous phenomenon.
Someone was deliberately casting this large-scale magic.
Semi-permanently at that.
The magic's purpose was clear-cut: to make it difficult to find the right path.
However, the right path certainly exists here.
The path that leads to the lowest floor.
Using the few clues I had, I made a deduction about the caster of the magic.
Two speculations were possible.
If it was a spell used in order to imprison someone, then the caster is in the upper floor; in other words, they must've used their magic from the exit of the dungeon.
In this case, the goal of the magic would be to make it impossible to find the path that leads to the exit.
If so, I just need to spread mana in the direction we came from.
Because we came from the exit.
Since I knew the correct answer, I should be able to figure out the pattern with a few tries.
However, that wasn't it.
The next possible assumption is this:
This magic was being cast from the dungeon's lowest floor in order to prevent you from recklessly entering the dungeon's lowest floor.
When I think about this stage's mission about the Earth Dragon and the Earth Dragon's treasure, the second assumption is much more plausible.
It was a large-scale magic that obstructed the path towards the dragon's lair.
It's entirely possible.
If, based on my second assumption, this obstruction magic’s goal is to block my way to the lowest floor…
Then I had to add an additional assumption here.
In what manner did the caster of the magic cast it?
It wasn't easy to disperse the mana within a specific area with magic.
No, it's impossible.
In casting magic, the most important things are the conditions and the medium.
When the kid was walking, he had suddenly said that starting here was the middle floor.
He had also said that the middle floor's terrain consisted of narrow passageways and clearings.
The passageway's ceiling, walls, floor, and from the front… The fact that there was a mana obstruction effect…
And the limitation on the technique known as magic…
If I substitute in those few conditions, I could easily tell what the caster of the magic is using as a medium.
It's the passageway.
And even amongst all those forked roads, the right path.
In the deepest depths of the dungeon, he was using the passageway leading straight to the exit of the dungeon as a medium.
The passageway that acts as the medium spreads throughout the middle floor and exerts its influence.
I spread my mana once again.
Due to the force that was pulling at my mana from all directions, my mana loomed in the air here and there and disappeared.
However, the pulling force was coming from a strange place.
But it was impossible to grasp the direction it was in.
Because the mana dissipated instantaneously.
However, this second dissipating mana was different.
I memorized the pattern of the dissipating mana and I willed my mana into that shape.
The pulling force pulled, but I added my strength and pulled back harder.
The mana thread was pulled on both ends and easily snapped.
However, if only one side pulled, it would simply move to one side.
I pulled the mana that was facing the first passageway, but it dissipated.
The first passageway is the correct answer.
[I have absolutely no idea.]
This way of manipulating mana with your hands would be impossible for Seregia.
The holy sword that I had shoved and discarded into my inventory also wouldn't be able to do it.
In a short time, I had observed the pattern, and I had to memorize that pattern.
And you'd have to subtly manipulate your mana according to that erratic-looking pattern.
Finally, you'd have to grasp where the mana is going in that split second before your mana dissipates.
If you weren't an extremely exceptional magician, it would be difficult to do.
Though I could do it.
"About this wand. Our ancestors invented this wand…"
The kid was still describing the wand.
He was explaining its value and it seemed like he wanted to seize the initiative.
Just like before, he still didn't tell me what he wanted.
"You spread your mana, and you read the pattern in the split second of your mana dissipating. It's probably like some kind of calculator."
It wasn't hard to guess the wand's function.
Just by looking at the exterior, I could tell that wand had only two abilities.
It just spreads mana into the air.
And then it would film the sight of that mana dissipating.
That was all.
The mana would randomly roam in the air and dissipate; the sight was extremely erratic and chaotic.
It would change that irregularity into a pattern.
And it would compare it to all of the patterns that were built into the wand and tell you the right answer.
I wasn't completely sure, but the likelihood of it was over 70%.
It was an efficient magic tool.
Honestly, the abilities in and of itself aren't bad.
Because filming the volatile movement of mana was difficult.
I don't know who it was, but whoever invented that was probably at the level of an Archmage.
"Get out of the way. And don't block my path."
I shoved aside the kid who seemed flustered and went inside the first passageway.
"W-Without me, you won't be able to find the right path!" the kid yelled, following behind me.
"I found it, didn't I?"
* * * * * *
The kid followed behind me and mumbled.
The kid had followed me, confident that I would never be able to find the right path.
However, I had repeatedly chosen the right path five times; his face paled about half way through.
[Are you just going to leave him like that?]
[Wouldn't it be better to dispose of him?]
It's fine. There's no need.
I don’t think I need to kill him just because he became useless.
In any case, that kid wouldn't be able to leave here alive, so I didn't need to get blood on my hands.
The kid continued to follow behind me.
The kid probably couldn't help it as well.
The kid couldn’t deal with the monsters in this middle floor that hid their bodies and lived in the darkness.
There were also dangerous individuals who lived in the upper-middle floor and wanted sacrifices.
If he didn't have someone to protect him, they would take everything he had and capture him.
Therefore, the kid had no choice other than to follow me.
Even now, when he is seized by the fear that I could turn around at any time and kill him because he had threatened me.
The kid couldn't separate himself from me.
It was quite unfortunate.
"Just a moment... Swordsman. Please just wait a moment."
Even while panting because he couldn't keep up with me.
The kid couldn't afford to lag behind.
"Please... Please. Please let me live, Swordsman."
They're words that I had heard some time ago.
Just a little while ago.
"... Swordsman. Swordsman."
His voice sounded as if it was echoing, so he must've been quite far behind me.
"The gems. I'll return the gems as well as the bag! I'll give you everything that I have!"
The kid stopped walking and started shouting after me.
Rather than following me and convincing me, he stayed in place to catch his breath and yelled at me. He might've been trying to get me to stop walking.
"I-If I'm capable of doing it, I'll do anything! Swordsman! Please!"
That's not what I think.
Behind my back, the kid’s cries shifted from anger to desperation.
He was so far away that he couldn't even see my back and it seemed like he had sunk into a panic; he was just spitting out any words he could muster.
He was cursing me, and he was also cursing the world too.
As I listened to those words, I could understand why the kid was so obsessed with money and why he was so greedy.
He was considerably unfortunate to the point of being interesting and had a long story, but he wasn't able to stop me from walking.
"Swordsman, I'm actually a girl!"
This time, I had no choice but to stop my stride.
Because it was so absurd.
What exactly do you want me to do?
I yelled behind me and started walking again.
I knew that she wore a bandana, cut her hair short, wore male attire, deliberately changed her voice to sound like a man, used her dirtiness and her smelliness in order to hide her pretty face; I knew she was afraid of revealing that she was a woman.
From the day that I first met her.
However, does that really matter?
I asked myself.
It didn't matter at all.
The only thing that mattered right now was that there was an Earth Dragon waiting for me in the lowest floor.
The word “earth worm” wasn't another name for a worm.
There's no such worm in any novel that can use this kind of high-rank magic.
The one occupying the bottom of this dungeon was a dragon.
I continued to walk forward as my heart fluttered.