Chapter 35 – Cardiff’s Full Account
The difference between the 13th and the 14th floor wasn’t that great, but there were clear changes to the structure of the Labyrinth as you descended downwards.
Until now, the Labyrinth had been made of stone, but here it changed into rock and dirt, which suggested that there were natural caves around, as well as having a raised ceiling. There were stalactites on the ceiling. Wild moss was shining dimly on the wall, and you would be able to see even if there wasn’t any light.
Sounds of water could be heard. There was a trace of moisture in the air too.
“It really has changed completely from the previous floors.”
Ashley appeared to admire this somehow.
“Hmm…Changes to this extent are still understandable, you know.”
Water that had reached the ground was flowing down the pathway. The water was rather clear.
You could even drink it if you purified it with Life Magic.
The dirty water that flowed toward the Corrupt Lake from the sewers, which was changed by the Labyrinth, branched off at an earlier floor.
I think this water originally came from an underground spring. As to whether it was changed by the Labyrinth, in BFO, they were simply called Cave Areas.
“By the way, whenever the scenery changes like this, the Monsters will change as well. Shall we wrap this up and search for a stele on this floor? We’ve gathered plenty of Dimension Stones.”
The two of them nodded. This was Ashley’s first Labyrinth Exploration, so it was better to not attempt the impossible. If Grace wanted to get the feel of the Cave Area for a bit, then it would be better to go back once and make suitable preparations before clearing the Labyrinth again.
As for this Cave Area, although you could see some distance away, thanks to the luminous moss, there was more to it than what met the eye.
The structure was more of a mess when compared to earlier floors. Enemies lurked in the shadows of rocky areas, where the water deepened, and in the darkness of the ceiling, so it was easy to be taken by surprise.
It was better to cast night vision, instead of relying on light sources, and proceed from there.
“There are Monsters around, so please be careful of the shadows.”
As soon as I said that, a large bat attacked us from the darkness above. They were giant blood-sucking bats called Blood Bats.
I muted our surroundings with Wind Magic. Since they searched their surrounding by relying on ultrasonic waves via echolocation, having to rely on their degenerated eyes meant not being able to see anything.
Grace struck it down with the flat of her axe, as if she were returning the shuttlecock back to her opponent in badminton, and Ashley countered with a beginner Water Spell, Water Cutter.
Besides Healing Magic, it seemed that Ashley was quite versed in Water Magic. Perhaps her affinity with it was because of her lineage?
The bat wings were stripped and became our loot. This would become a material used in compounding; it really felt like having a witch brew something in her cauldron.
After we proceeded through the cave, some Slimes that were sticking together appeared in between the caves.
Although we could see them since we had night vision, with the amount of light that came off the luminous moss, there would be lots of things we couldn’t see even if we had a torch or a lantern.
When we went directly under them intentionally, they dropped down in a free fall, coming to attack us.
I countered them with a Fireball while dodging their attacks, and in the blink of an eye, they got whipped up. As if their whole bodies were seething, they shrunk, just like that, and Magic Stones rolled around.
That was too quick. It was hard to attack them with physical attacks because they were liquid Monsters, so it was quite troublesome.
“What should we do if Slimes get stuck onto people who can’t use Magic?”
“It’s fine if you swing them around with all your power and break them into pieces, so long as it’s the Slimes around these areas.”
Grace answered Ashley’s question.
If they were torn into pieces, their will to fight large opponents like humans would surely fade away. It would simply cause them to lose their fighting spirit and leave.
Although higher rank Slimes in the lower floors were dangerous, the Slimes around here weren’t anything special. If I were to mention a strong Slime, then it would be Caduceus.
“There are even enemies in that puddle, you know.”
Is what Grace said. A large frog, called a King Frog, rushed forth from the nearby puddle.
Although she struck its tongue, which had a bump on its tip, by swinging her axe around like a whip, if she had thrown the axe, the frog’s tongue would have ended up getting crushed.
The harvested part of a King Frogs was its tongue, but its whole body could be used as food, so it was fine to bring it back whole.
Maybe it was better to transfer it with the Dimension Stone, since we had time to spare.
Ashley was using Round Guardian, so I could say that she wouldn’t receive any surprise attacks, but if that were to happen, this Cave Area would become a little troublesome. There was a need to be cautious from up above us to down at our feet as we proceeded, without any exceptions.
It would be perfectly fine if I divided up the roles. This time, I was being cautious for things above us, and I was letting Grace watch out for things below us.
Large Rooms were the same as Small Rooms on the higher floors.
I opened the door while checking out the room, which had a tree with rocks scattered on it inside.
What came into view was a natural cave. As I thought, it was part of this large Labyrinth.
Depending on the phase of the moon, the structures and terrain of pathways changed.
A fine, complete set of equipment that covered one’s hands and wrist came out of a treasure chest.
I felt some type of Mana after holding up my hand, but the details were unknown. I should return to the Guild later and let them appraise it.
Whether I could use it or sell it depended on its abilities, but for this type of equipment to appear on a floor like this meant my luck was quite good.
“Who would provide us with such a thing? Monsters?”
“This large Labyrinth is a wonder in itself, you know.”
Grace and Ashley’s doubts were reasonable. I didn’t have a real answer to that.
“It’s said that things flow into the lower levels of the Labyrinth from a spirit world. I wonder if there is something that combines these types of items and sends them into the depths of the Labyrinth.”
As for an image, it was something like the Boundary Labyrinth’s control system.
We returned to the Shrine using a Dimension Stone from the 15th floor’s stele.
We headed to the Adventurer’s Guild immediately and converted the loot we extracted into money.
After we went to the appraiser, we learned that the equipment was a pair of Gauntlets.
This received a bit of attention, but I ignored the surrounding gazes.
“It appears you’ve gathered quite a bit. Did you take on a Monster Room?”
I nodded when the receptionist, Heather, asked that.
“I wanted to experience whether or not the Monster Rooms on the earlier floors are troublesome.”
“…You know, it really isn’t surprising, since it’s Theodore-san’s group.”
Heather raised her brows a bit, and really poked her nose into it. It appeared that she was amazed.
“Besides that, has Heather-san heard of the matters regarding the Cardiff House?”
I should have a chat with her and gather some information. It was important to grasp the situation.
“It seems they’ve found the corpse of Count Morris. Umm…I’d like to refrain from talking about the details.”
“Oh, so you know about the Count.”
I had heard about Morris being killed by a Demon from Rossetta.
The guys who fought the Demon at Cardiff’s residence appeared to be in a terrible state.
Morris seemed to have been murdered on the spot, because he couldn’t be rescued after he was shot by a miasma bullet…and he seemed to have suffered until his death. He was probably a companion, and whether or not he offended the Demon somehow, they should understand that type of guy.
“It wasn’t just the Head, there are rumors that even his first and second sons were involved, you know.”
Heather’s expression clouded.
“Although the second son wasn’t brought in for a Magic Trial, it appears that the first son somehow knew about it.”
I had thought that they would tell him right after it happened.
Since this involved the Black Dimension Stone, it seemed various information was relayed to the Adventurer’s Guild as well.
“Is that so? Then what about the Count’s family?”
“It’s proper to strip them of their peerage and confiscate their territory.”
Right? The heir knowing about this and remaining silent was equal to betraying their Kingdom.
The eldest son would be arrested if that happened, and even though the second son was innocent regarding the kidnapping incident and being involved with the Demon, he would be next in line to get disowned, and right now he was restoring his reputation. It seemed that the Cardiff House was ruined and had been brought to an end.
Perhaps…the sole winner here was the Royal Family, since they got to reclaim the Cardiff’s territory?
Morris failed at managing his territory, and making a recovery was probably hard to do.
It was difficult to see whether this would cause the Royal Family to have a debt to pay or if it would increase their power.
“What’s going to happen to the second son?”
“It seems the family is going to disown him. Right now, he is in the custody of the Royal Family, and besides them saying that they are looking after him, it appears they’ve said they believe he’s innocent, too. Thanks to that, even the main wife, who is related to the second son, is also being looked after.”
Prince Albert could have easily dodged further questioning by turning it into an inspiring story.
It would have been even harder to give further punishment to Talcott if he was innocent.
There was also some value to ending it without having to reveal one’s cards.
Even if the Royal Family found Talcott to be innocent, he would want to show his generosity to those who were inside and outside of his circle, as well as to Nobles.
Prince Albert and Talcott probably shared interests.
However, I never said that Talcott’s position would worsen any further than what it was right now. There might’ve been various things that were said in the shadows, but at the very least, to have him criticized face-to-face would have made it increasingly difficult for Prince Albert to devise some sort of plan.
Although he was the 4th Prince, whose foundation of power was weak, royalty was still royalty.
Since Prince Albert hadn’t made any changes to the plan of taking in Talcott, there probably wouldn’t be any problems for the time being.
Talcott himself might experience reasonable hardships, and in regards to his circumstances and feelings, I felt that something was wrong.