Chapter 4 – Rescue
I proceeded smoothly through the labyrinth and arrived at the gentle spiral slope leading down to the 7th floor.
At the entrance to the floor, I hold my Guild card over a large crystal.
In all labyrinths, there will always be a large crystal at the entrance to each level.
This crystal acts as a transfer device, allowing you to move in an instant to the crystal at the entrance of the labyrinth.
In the past, this used to only function as a one-way trip from each floor to the labyrinth entrance, and when re-entering the labyrinth, it was necessary to begin again from the first floor.
Decades ago however, the situation completely changed after the Guild developed the Guild card.
After scanning a crystal with the Guild card, it becomes possible to immediately transfer to that crystal from the labyrinth entrance.
Thanks to that, progression speed through labyrinths has increased dramatically.
It used to be that you had to camp overnight in the labyrinth while exploring, but nowadays, day trips have become mainstream.
In addition, these crystals act as amulets.
No magic beasts can enter within a 20 metre radius of the crystal, and so they are also resting places and useful sites for evacuation.
A useful item for the keen explorer.
Since it’s about time the sun goes down, I decide to stop here for today.
As I was about to transfer to the labyrinth entrance by scanning my Guild card, a group of explorers who seemed to be a party rushed into the safe zone.
They appear to have escaped from a magic beast, and their faces have the same sickly complexion.
Looking at their equipment, they don’t like a strong party.
“Shit! How did this happen!”
One of the party members barks as though he hadn’t been able to vent his emotions until now.
It looks like you’ve made some sort of mistake, but well, as long as you keep your life, you can make up for it.
This time’s failure will be the seeds for next time’s success – who the hell was I to be even thinking of saying that…
While I silently retorted myself, I hear the voices of the barking person and the best equipped person – who looked most like the party leader – talking to each other.
“I don’t mind if you hold a grudge against me.
But I can proudly say I didn’t make the wrong judgement.”
“Still, abandoning a girl not yet even an adult…!”
“Swallow your words.
Magic beasts coming out like that from nowhere was something that none of us could have imagined! Rather than some girl I just met today, you guys who’ve been with me all this while are way more important!”
Apparently, an unexpected number of magic beasts had appeared and one of their party members was left as a decoy for them to escape.
As I listen to his words, I can understand what the leader is trying to say.
It’s not strange to prioritise the people who you’ve spent joys and sorrows with over the people you’ve just met for the first time.
From a third party perspective though, these guys were nothing but the absolute worst.
……I shouldn’t step into the circumstances of other parties.
If it were normal, ‘that abandoned girl was unfortunate’, and the story ends there.
However, for me, who’d been kicked out of a party the previous day, there’s something about this situation I can’t just ignore.
It’s painful to be thrown away by your party members.
No matter how much I tried to forget, the faces of the Hero Party members would still float into my mind during unexpected occasions.
Every time that happened, it reminded me of the fact that I’d been cut off.
Furthermore, in the case of the girl, she had been abandoned in a place infested with magic beasts.
It was a situation they couldn’t escape from with all their party members.
Eight or nine times out of ten, the girl left behind will die.
Since she chose to become an explorer, I think she will have been prepared to face death.
But she probably never had the slightest fragment of thought that she would be abandoned by her party members and left to die.
Even if against dozens of magic beasts as enemies in this labyrinth, I can deal with them without any problems.
If I can make it – I want to help.
“Still, after all–“
“I’m sick of listening to this.”
I can’t stand the sight of that barking explorer arguing with the leader anymore so I cut him off.
“…What is it, you?”
The explorer, called out by an unexpected person, for a moment has a confused expression before his face is quickly tinged with anger.
“I’ve been listening, but you’re like a kid pissing about.
You don’t seem to agree with your leader’s instructions, but you’re still here.
Not only does that not help the girl, you’re also just whining after escaping to a safe place.
That kind of guy is the most annoying.”
“You… saying what, you like…! In that situation, even if I’d stayed back by myself, I wouldn’t’ve been able to save her!”
The explorer rushes and tries to grab me.
But before he can grab me, I grab his wrist and place my other hand against his neck as I turn and occupy his side.
Then, while kicking the back of his leg, I pull his neck down, spinning him into a beautiful fall.
I look down at the explorer lying with his back on the floor.
“Like I said, don’t whine, lie down.”
The atmosphere freezes.
Ignore it and talk to the leader.
“Where did you abandon the girl?”
“Hurry up and spit out the location where you abandoned the girl.”
“Fr, from here, go straight to the end and turn right, follow along and then take the second path on the left.”
After hearing the location, to get there as soon as possible, I activate [Agility Up] on myself.
“O, oi, are you going to help!?”
“If not, I wouldn’t have asked for the place”
While answering the leader’s question, I head to the location I’d been told about.
On my way to the objective, I encounter an Orc, probably targeting the party from earlier.
Time is short.
I activate the intermediate magic [Rock Bind] and the Orc’s body is immobilised with rocks.
WIthout slowing down, I slip pass the restrained Orc.
Following the directions given by the leader, I discover a group of Orcs ahead.
The Orcs number thirteen.
Certainly, a low-ranking party can’t handle them, but I can defeat them without difficulty.
“No… stay away… stay away…! I don’t want to die….
All the Orcs are facing the same direction towards a wall, and at the end of their line of sight is a girl with long scarlet hair in twintails.
Even as the girl’s pink eyes fill with tears, she desperately intercepts their attacks with a protective magic barrier.
Although she’s whimpering, the look in her eyes hasn’t yet died.
(She hasn’t given up even in this situation, amazing.)
I’m honestly impressed with the strength of the girl’s heart.
I calculated the timing of the girl’s magic activation.
Then, avoiding the interval between her casts, I activated the beginner magic [Aero Shock].
The air between the girl and the Orcs expands, creating a shock wave.
It doesn’t affect the girl who has her magic barrier.
However, the same can’t be said for the Orcs, who rather than receiving damage, are pushed back about three steps due to the impact, making space between the girl and them.
The girl looks surprised when the Orcs suddenly give ground.
I lightly kick the ground and jump over the group of Orcs, land in front of the girl’s eyes, and with the aim of blinding them, simultaneously activate [Flash], robbing their sight.
“Focus on the magic barrier.
I’ll clean up the Orcs.”
After briefly instructing the girl, I cast [Strength Up] and [Dexterity Up] on myself, and [Sharpness Up] on my sword, before starting the Orc extermination.
Orcs are by nature, low-intelligence magic beasts.
Because of that, if they lose their sight, they’re no different from lumps of meat.
Slash the critical points of each and every single Orc.
Using a sword blessed by support magic, I can’t feel any contact.
It’s almost as though my swings are missing.
However, in my field of vision, large amounts of blood spout from the places they are cut.
While evading the splashback of blood and after swinging my sword about a dozen times, my surroundings are left with only magic stones.
When I look back and check on the girl, perhaps still confused by my sudden intrusion, her magic barrier remains unbroken, and she has a blank look.
She doesn’t have any visible injuries.
But just in case, I activate [Heal] on the girl, and laugh to reassure her.
……Did I manage to laugh well?
“I’m, alive…? Th, that was scary…”
Then, the magical barrier dissipates, the girl, releasing her tension, sinks into the ground and starts shedding large tears.
Is she probably about 14 years old?
What to do… I don’t really know how to handle a younger girl crying.
The girl stifiles her voice, but it doesn’t look like she’ll stop crying anytime soon.
Saved from a situation she was resigned to dying in.
It’s alright to cry.
(That must have been scary)
Abandoned by the party in that kind of situation.
Putting myself in the position of the girl, my chest tightens, and before I even notice, I am patting her head.
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