Chapter 40 – Scouting
“Three on the ceiling, and two in that area with the deep pool of water. Five total.”
Sheila’s ears twitched, and after sniffing from time to time, she declared it like a prediction.
“Grace-sama, please let me take care of the bats.”
“Then leave the frogs to me.”
Grace headed towards the deep pool, and then Ashley approached the dark area where the bats were lurking while chanting.
Along the way, frogs jumped out of the water.
Furthermore, one of the frogs croaked and stretched out its tongue. However, using the axe in her left hand, Grace cut off the one that struck at her, and then she wrapped the other frog’s tongue around the blade of the axe in her right hand, and pulled on it with all her might.
Facing off against the frogs, which had popped out of the water full of vigor, she sent them flying after showing her ability to wrap her chains around them effortlessly, and they stuck to the flat wall.
The bats that flew down from the ceiling were struck with the violet smoke Ashley cast, and all of a sudden, they stalled in the air before falling to the ground. It was a Rank 4 Water Spell, and it was probably amongst the more difficult Spells Ashley could use…but if one understood the direction they would take, then they could easily prepare a spell beforehand.
“That went well. We didn’t overlook anything, so we didn’t receive any surprise attacks.”
Grace said with a smile.
That was true. Even though it didn’t mean that we were enhancing ourselves with Magic, Sheila’s five senses weren’t ordinary. Her sight, sense of smell, and hearing shouldn’t be compared to a human’s, but were more like radar. She was just displaying her skills in front of me.
Although there was similar Detection Magic like Life Detection, the more eyes and methods to detect things like that, the better.
Because we spoke too long with Irmhild, who was still recovering, we brought the visit to an end and decided to go into the Labyrinth, in accordance with my plans.
It seemed like the victims of the kidnapping incident weren’t handled roughly on the grounds of “preserving the quality of goods,” or in other words, because of their value. Irmhild herself had concealed the fact that she was a Lamia, and since she said that she had only become weaker because of the lack of meals, even if she claimed to be weak due to a recent illness, her condition didn’t appear to be anything serious.
As for why we brought Sheila along in the Labyrinth exploration…there were two main reasons. I noticed that Sheila and I had matching interests, and Chester’s behavior had ended up making her, who was nervous due to Irmhild’s matter, angry.
Thus, Sheila had suggested that we should gather information regarding the Knights all the way up until the social event five days from now.
Compared to the other two, Irmhild was in a bit of a delicate position. It seemed that Sheila had unfortunately found out that Irmhild was living in the city while concealing her race, and the Demon Lynette disguising herself as a human had occurred at the same time.
Thanks to that, how she would be dealt with was probably unclear.
Irmhild was currently registered as an Adventurer and had accumulated achievements, to a certain extent, from taking requests and exploring the Labyrinth. Therefore, the kidnapped victims had encouraged her, and the Adventurer’s Guild was on close terms with her.
Although there were probably adventurers and people who saw her as an ally, according to the Guild, she only had a relationship with them and not the Kingdom itself.
That was why it would be troublesome for Sheila to get involved with a place she didn’t know well, and moreover, with a person who was employed there.
All the more so when it came to the type of humans who neglected rules and procedures.
I couldn’t deny that there might be any self-righteous judgement passed down on Irmhild or any subjective slander spreading around upon returning to the Knights.
Adding in her hostility towards Chester, and considering Irmhild’s present situation, she probably wanted to sell out and create a relationship with me. Since Grace was beside me, I could probably trust her.
Well…I would like to welcome such a give-and-take relationship. Our means to hold and even collect information, will become a powerful weapon, and even a shield.
For personal reasons, I didn’t really like the Thieves Guild, and the number of acquaintances I had there was small. If I were to use an Information Room later, having Sheila as a mediator would ease the process.
With that in mind, I let Sheila participate in our Labyrinth exploration. Even if I said it was give-and-take, I had received information from her, and I shouldn’t take Irmhild for granted later on just because it would be convenient for me.
I wanted to make matters that were behind my back clear as long as she gathered information for me.
Just in case, if I claimed that Sheila had acted independently and I had acted according to my intentions, Sheila would be handled differently if she were to be caught while gathering information.
At that time, having someone make a suggestion wouldn’t be important. I felt I should bear responsibility if that happened. Although it wasn’t like acquaintances would be important enough to become a ‘Support Shield’, I should get involved and defend her to some extent.
Heather had apparently also spoken with Sheila about maybe forming a party, so she probably wanted Sheila’s relationship with me to be clear by having us explore the Labyrinth together.
Having talked about this with Grace’s group, we came to the conclusion that it was fine for her to be in the party with the role of a Thief or a Scout, which led to the current situation.
Although Sheila’s true strength was unclear, if it was somewhere along these floors, bringing her along into the Labyrinth wouldn’t be much of an issue, nor would it be a cause for anxiety. I had come to know the level of her information gathering ability and the sharpness of her senses.
“Can I personally take charge this time?”
“Will you be fine with that?”
“I have confidence in myself. This will let you see my skills, so I want to show you what I can do.”
Sheila took the lead and started searching the Cave Area. After proceeding for a while, her feet stopped.
“Found them, let’s go.”
Saying that, Sheila held a dagger in a backhand grip. She ran towards a wall with nothing on it. I couldn’t hear the sound of her feet, even though she was dashing at a reasonable speed. She followed up with her dagger facing towards the empty sky while running up the wall, and jumping up high, she cut the bats into pieces with two slashes, as if they were being drawn in. She then shifted her body in the air and landed on the ground.
“Well done, Sheila-san.”
Since she had grasped their locations and predicted their actions, she could move quickly and launch an attack, rather than allowing her opponents to move.
Although her Taijutsu was quite good, I felt that her actual movement was faster than that of the opponents she decided to fight. Her selling point was her lightness and she probably had an affinity for light weapons, but taking up the vanguard position didn’t necessarily mean that it was her job.
From the looks of it, Sheila didn’t seem to be a burden.
It seemed we could advance with an efficiency we didn’t have before.
“The next ones are coming.”
Several pig-like Monsters showed up while moving slowly.
They were Orcs, and there were four of them. They had high strength, like tough soldiers, but they weren’t smart.
They started to emerge from the 17th floor. If someone were to talk of Orcs, they would be under the impression that they had a high reproductive ability and would chase after females of other races, but the Orcs that appeared in the Labyrinth weren’t like that…Still, I felt like they would head after Grace’s group rather than me.
One of them brandished their battle-axe and headed towards Grace, but she engaged it head-on. The Orc’s battle-axe and Grace’s Labrys clashed with each other, creating sounds of clashing metal.
However, it wasn’t even a decent match. The one who prevailed was Grace. She bent the axe’s grip, which was forged from iron, as if it were sculptured candy that had been heated up. She followed through with some force and felled the Orc.
Not slowing down, she rotated her body as if it were a tornado and engulfed one more, crushing it. The way she handled the Orcs was as if it were child’s play to her.
The Orc, who was distracted by Grace, had its neck cut by Sheila, who came down from above without making any sound.
Before the blood splashed around, Sheila kicked its shoulders, jumped backwards, and broke away from it.
One remaining. Ashley waited in the rear, and I, who had taken no damage, took the lead.
Spinning my Magic Staff as if it were a windmill, I engulfed the Orc, striking its head, knocking it down to the ground.
At the same time, I stepped on its throat, expanded a Magic Circle, and killed it with lightning that came through the sole of my foot.
Well then, Orcs, huh? Although they had a lot of parts that could be extracted for preparing meals…If Humanoid Monsters learned about the actual ingredients, their appetite would vanish.
Just as we found the stairs to the 18th floor and the stele, we decided to withdraw. Apart from our group, Sheila probably had a lot of work ahead.
“I knew that Theodore was strong…but that made me lose my confidence.”
Sheila said such a thing after we returned to the Shrine.
Grace was a bit special, and Ashley was really amazing compared to the children who were the same age as her. Although Sheila probably thought she didn’t show enough appeal…the standards I required weren’t that high. She was probably worried what I would think about it.
“Well, that was plenty, wasn’t it? It’ll be a pleasure to work with you from now on.”
“…Yeah. It’ll be a pleasure.”
“If things have been decided, I’ll move onto investigations.”
“For now, please don’t be reckless and take dangerous risks by yourself. We’ll make a decision after consulting each other if that happens. I’ll lend you my familiar at that time, too. At any rate, it’s five days from now, so putting the suspicious people in order will be plenty. Later on, showing yourself once a day will be enough to confirm your safety, so that will put me at ease.”
After telling Sheila about my plans, she laughed happily, just for a bit. There wasn’t any need to make Sheila do the impossible for matters related to me.
As for me, I would get to enjoy the hassle, to the extent of having known who paid attention to me, and having known who I could trust.
Well then, five days from now, huh? I wonder what will happen.