Chapter 6 – The Best Enchanter On The Continent

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 Dark red hair reaching below her ears, tied above her nape, and glaring at me with red eyes is a woman named Selma Claudel. 

 She is the leader of the S Rank party under “Night Sky’s Silver Rabbit”. 

 And for the explorers in this country, her fame does not pale in comparison to the leader of the Hero Party, Oliver. 

 Well, in addition to good looks, the best Enchanter on the continent… many people acclaim her as such, so I can understand her reputation. 

 But even so, why is this person glaring at me with such open hostility? 

 Her party has reached the 92nd floor of the Great Labyrinth, among currently active explorers, the second deepest descent record after the Hero Party. 

 Of course, when I was in the Hero Party, I paid close attention to her party’s movements to make sure we wouldn’t be overtaken by them. 

 It would’ve been the same for her.

 However, there shouldn’t be any reason for her to glare at me to this extent. 

“Ensnaring my not even 14 years old cute little sister, you’ve got some nerve, haven’t you?”

 …… Ah-, is that why?

“It’s a misunderstanding.
Certainly, we are going to have a meal together, but not because of anything I’d have a guilty conscience about.”

“Ah? So you’re saying that my Sophia isn’t cute?”

 This person is troublesome… stop saying things like a stupidly doting parent.
Wouldn’t both of my only possible responses have been wrong!

“Hey, sister! Don’t say something so rude to my lifesaver!”

“…What? Lifesaver? Sophia, did you go into the labyrinth alone?”

 After hearing Sophia’s words, Selma looks at her suspiciously. 

“Ah, eh, that’s, I …”

 Sophia, realising that she had slipped up, was crestfallen like a child whose pranks had been exposed. 

“Haa… you went.
Even though I told you to hold yourself back for now, since the day after tomorrow, we’ll be diving into the Great Labyrinth for a long period.”

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“Sorry……”

“…Well, since you returned without any injuries, I’m not going to fault you, but you can’t go on your own from now.”

“……yes.”

 Selma’s expression changes, and with a soft smile, she pats Sophia’s head. 

 This is what they call the carrot and stick.

“Orn, I would like to express my gratitude to you for helping my sister.
Apologies for addressing you with such a rude attitude earlier.”

“I’m not bothered.
Rather than that, the glances from our surroundings are getting unpleasant, so I would like to quickly take a seat, shall we share?”

 It appeared like I was arguing with the executive of the Clan managing this store, so I had been getting dangerous looks from customers around me.  

 To escape these kinds of eyes, I tried to impress upon the people around us that it wasn’t a big deal for me to share seats with Selma.
I had also asked her with this intention in mind.

“Ah, no problem, Sophia, let’s have dinner together.”

“Yes!”

 I sit in front of Selma, and Sophia next to Selma.

 After Sophia and I read the menu, we order some suitable items, and the three of us start eating. 

  ◇

“Anyway, isn’t this the first time we’ve had a normal conversation?”

 The fact that she had just been glaring at me seems almost like a lie as she amicably speaks to me. 

“That’s right.
Even in the joint subjugation last month, we didn’t speak about anything unrelated to combat.”

 Of course she had also participated in last month’s joint subjugation, and during the battle, we were both Enchanters, Selma was in-charge of combined command and I was supporting her. 

 Although I was acquainted with Selma last month, I had already known about her before that. 

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 Because she is known as the best Enchanter on the continent, you might say that it’s obvious that I knew of her, regardless, the reason why she is called the “continent’s best” is because she is the first explorer to… main as an Enchanter. 

 While there might’ve been Enchanters before her, the one who made Enchanters famous as a job, is without a doubt, this woman. 

 Until a few years ago, the common party compositions were either Warriors or Magicians, the so-called Attackers, in a party of four, and the addition of one Healer. 

 Thinking about it now, they were really brute force, ridiculous compositions, but at that time, they was commonplace. 

 The one who rejected such compositions was Selma when she was 16 years old. 

 She developed the concept of ‘roles’ beyond just the only role of “Attacker”, such as the one that shields against enemy attacks, the “Defender”, and the one that supports allies through support magic or healing, the “Support”.
She also instructed her party members in their various details.

 Because of this, their ability to sustain themselves after continuous battles dramatically improved, and in a blink of an eye, Selma’s party rewrote the then lowest descent record among active explorers.
Their success spread the concept of ‘roles’, and now it can be said to be the common sense of party composition. 

 The Hero Party was also no exception to their influence, and as a result, I converted to an Enchanter. 

“Sister, did you two already know each other from before?”

“Hmm? What Sophia, you don’t know about Orn?”

“Eh, yeah….
Is he maybe someone famous?

“Of course.
Orn is one of the members of the Hero Party that, for the first time in the history of the Southern Great Labyrinth, has descended into the 94th floor.”

“Hero? …Eh? Ehhhh!?”

 Well, different from the other four, there are few people that would know of me.
The position of Enchanter is also inconspicuous, and I was mostly dealing with the behind-the-scenes work for the Hero Party. 

 That’s why I was not heavily featured in the news. 

 By the way, you might be wondering why famous and promising-looking explorers are featured in newspapers.

 That’s because aristocrats or some big companies invest – or in other words, use the news as one indicator of whether they should sponsor and fund certain explorers, as well as parties or Clans. 

 The typical explorer basically sells magic stones and materials obtained from exploring the labyrinth to the Explorer Guild to earn money. 

 This money is not just used as a living fund, but also the explorer’s activity fund.

 There are various uses for these activity funds, but expenses for weapons, armour, and magic tools are some of the usual ones.
Of course, there are all sorts of products out there.
So if you’re looking for something good, you need to fork out enough money. 

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 However, to have all your party members well-equipped, covering the costs only with the money made from selling items to the Explorer Guild would be rather difficult. 

 That’s where the earlier mentioned aristocrats and big companies come into play.
With their financial support, higher-quality, better equipment can be prepared. 

 So then, why exactly do they fund explorers?

 Of course, it’s not the case that they only have good intentions for spending so much money.
Well, although there might just be some crazy people who invest only with such good intentions. 

 These investors, known as sponsors, don’t really consider it as funding explorers.
In their view, what they get in return is the ability to make direct purchases from explorers… or so this had become the case. 

 As mentioned above, magic stones and labyrinth materials, as a general rule should be purchased by the Explorer Guild.
After which, the Guild sells them to interested parties.
Therefore, apart from magic stones, there is no guarantee for anybody that they will actually get their hands on the materials they want. 

 Consequently, these investors pay explorers in advance, and in the event that they require certain materials, they will have those explorers obtain them.

 With this, they could reliably acquire their desired materials. 

 That’s why for the purpose of being able to select explorers with higher chances of returning alive, investors refer to information from the news.

 Well, apart from this, there are also other reasons to fund explorers, but I’ll omit mentioning them for now because it’s getting long. 

“Ah, ahem, um…”

 Sophia has been nervous since I met her, but now she seems even more nervous. 

 After all, a beginner explorer who doesn’t really know much about it would probably feel awkward about how to act around someone holding the title “Hero”.

 Although there’s also the chance Sophia is simply nervous by nature. 

“It’s alright, in the first place there’s no real need to be respectful or anything you know.
And anyway, I’m also not a Hero anymore.”

 As much as possible, I try to talk to Sophia in a gentle tone, but she can’t loosen her tension, and just shakes her head up and down without saying anything. 

“…Hmm? Not a Hero? Don’t tell me you left the party?”

 Selma’s keen ears picked up the words “not a Hero” that I’d said and quickly hit the mark that I’d left the party. 

 As expected, information about the Hero party can’t be ignored huh. 

 I said it quite casually, so I thought it might’ve passed unnoticed. 

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 Well, in a short while, it’d probably appear as big news, so maybe there’s no problem mentioning it. 

“Yeah.
I left the party yesterday.
I met Sophia today because I wanted to get a grasp on my current abilities and ended up going to a lower difficulty labyrinth.” 

 Today’s labyrinth exploration as a Swordsman showed me that my acquisition of various knowledge and skills has made me much stronger than the previous me at the point when I’d quit being a Swordsman. 

 Because of that, I realise that even in the middle layers of the Great Labyrinth, I will not have any problems exploring it alone. 

 From now on, I will be working solo, and if I can have income from the middle layers, it will be unlikely that my money runs out.

 I was also able to rescue Sophia, so today’s harvest was satisfactory.

“To let go of someone like you, is Oliver sane? No matter how anyone thinks about it, you should have been held back.
Besides, why did you leave the party?”

 Somehow, it seems Selma thinks I left the party on my own initiative.

 There’s no particular need for me to correct her.
Regardless of how I say it, it’ll just be lame to mention that I was actually kicked out. 

“There were some party circumstances.
Oliver and I both have a mutual understanding.”

 After being ridiculed to that extent, I had no plans to return. 

“I see… Then, Orn, you’re free now right?”

“Well, well, that’s right.”

 Selma looks like she’s planning something.

 Might it be a Clan invitation? It would be an honour, but currently I don’t feel like belonging to any Clan or party. 

“If your schedule is open, then the day after tomorrow, would you be willing to participate in our Clan’s guided exploration? Of course, we promise you appropriate remuneration.”

“…Guided, exploration?”

 It wasn’t a Clan invitation.

 In response to words I wasn’t used to hearing, I ended up unconsciously repeating what she had just said.

 

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