It was about an hour after leaving the place where they were attacked by the Water Monkeys. When Ara’s sword cut through the bushes which seemed to be hiding something, they finally found what Rei had been looking for.
It was a fast flowing river. The water was clear and fish could be seen swimming inside.
「……It’s a bit late to say this, but aside from there being a forest in a dungeon, there’s also a river? Where do you think we’ll end up if we followed the river upstream?」
Vel asked lightly while checking the quality of the river water with some chemicals.
「In the first place, it’s wrong to use your common sense in a dungeon. I’ve already stopped thinking too deeply about it.」
Ara kept her hand at her sword to guard Vel. Seeing that, Vel gave a wry smile.
「Right. Inspection has been completed. Elena-sama, there doesn’t seem to be any particular problems with the water quality, it’s safe to drink.」
「I see, good work. Well then……where should we set up camp……」
After thanking Vel, Elena took a look at the surroundings.
There was no doubt that the waterside was a place for monsters to drink water, if adventurers camped here without care, it was like asking to be attacked.
Because of that, somewhere near the water source that wasn’t conspicuous from the outside was desirable……
To Elena, who was searching the surroundings, Set approached and gave a cry.
「What is it Set? Please ask Rei if you’re hungry. I don’t have any food for you to eat with me.」
That’s not it, Set seemed to say as he turned to face part of the forest near the river. Elena also turned to see what he was looking at but didn’t seem to understand what Set was trying to point out.
「Rei, do you know what Set is saying?」
「I think maybe the place Set is facing is suitable to set up camp.」
「……Was Set trying to tell me?」
「He’s smarter than ordinary monsters. Though he can’t speak words due to his physiology, he can understand what we’re saying.」
「Hmm. Then let’s take a look.」
Muttering that, as she took a step forward, Kuust followed after her in a panic.
「Elena-sama! Even if I know that Elena-sama is strong, please stop this absurdity of going into the forest by yourself! Not to mention that even if you say it’s intelligent, searching the forest with a monster.……」
「……Kuust. I certainly feel happy about your loyalty. However, I’m not impressed that you don’t trust our partners that joined our party.」
「Haa, well that’s fine. I understand that your thoughts, growing up as a noble, won’t change immediately. If you’re so anxious, then you come as well. ……Rei, you too. Vel and Ara will watch the surroundings here.」
「Eh? I have to wait here!?」
Though Ara muttered somewhat sulkily, Elena didn’t mind it and advanced into the forest with Set in the lead and Kuust and Rei in tow.
「Something about Elena-sama has changed a little since Rei-dono joined.」
At Ara, who muttered that in a subdued tone, Vel looked at her from the side with a surprised look.
「Is that so? Though to me, she hasn’t changed at all.」
「You, is there something wrong with your eyes? Would the past Elena-sama have as easily believed what others said?」
「However, isn’t that because it’s someones tamed monster? Finding a place to camp is actually an important matter.」
「……I really hope that’s all it it.」
Ara muttered and glanced slightly lonelily at Elena’s back as she went into the forest.
Vel gave a shrug, saying that there was no helping it, and dutifully watched the surroundings.
It was a few minutes after going back into the forest. The place where Set had stopped was a huge tree with a cave like opening that was wide enough for a few people to enter.
It didn’t seem like there where any monsters lurking inside as dead leaves were piled up. There were no discarded corpses inside either.
「……This feels too convenient……」
Though Elena wondered about this camp location after finding it with this timing, it was a fact that it had been about 10 hours since they entered the dungeon. Because of that, she finally decided to set up camp here.
Moreover, Rei’s assertion gave strong support that Set could be relied on. Beside them though, Kuust was ill humoured as usual.
After that, they promptly brought Ara and Vel to the location to set up camp. At any rate, though you could say it was a dungeon, sunset could still be seen.
「……Really, what is with this dungeon? If there was light like a setting sun, I could still accept it, but I didn’t think it could accurately make dusk into night.」
Vel muttered with an amazed voice as he looked up into the sky that was dyed a fiery orange because of the setting sun.
「Like I said, it’s meaningless to think about every single thing in a dungeon.」
「No, I understand the theory behind it. But even we can’t reproduce a setting sun like this……」
Rei, who was gathering the necessary firewood for the night, overheard Ara and Vel’s conversation and spoke up.
「Though it’s only a guess, I could try to explain how it works, would you like to hear?」
「Really!? It doesn’t matter if it’s only a guess, tell us by all means. No, I mean, as expected of an apprentice of a great magician, it’s different from a certain impulsive female warrior.」
「Wai-, Vel! Are you talking about me!?」
「I wonder. Well, it might be so if the person themself realises it.」
Though Vel said so to tease Ara, Elena, who had been clearing the grass and dead wood from inside the tree, intervened.
「Vel, don’t tease Ara too much. Rei, I’m also interested in your thoughts. If you don’t mind, I would like to hear it as well.」
While nodding at Elena’s words, Rei felt a sense of incongruity at a how a duke’s daughter was doing trivial chores.
However, though he had bluntly asked about it, the only reply was 『If the commander moves, the subordinates follow』.
In addition, though Kuust would normally never put up with handling trivial chores, given his pride as a noble, when his boss, Elena, started to move proactively, he couldn’t remain the only person doing nothing and reluctantly helped out.
Being directly shown the example of subordinates following the commander’s movements, Rei was convinced by Elena’s words.
「Well, the idea isn’t too complex. You should know that the dungeon nucleus teleports monsters into it to protect itself.」
「Umu~. When I received the order from my father, I did some investigations on dungeons back then.」
「Then I think you understand, the monsters that were sent in originally lived outside. In other words, they lived with day and night. What do you think would happen if they were suddenly sent into the dungeon? Even if they underwent some sort of suggestion or brainwashing when they were sent into the dungeon, it is highly likely that the instinct of the monster that it had been living somewhere with day and night would have been deeply ingrained into its body and would not be changed or erased. Though the inside of the dungeon has been different up to now, the time cycle as you see is as a result of considering the monsters’ conditions……that is my guess. Of course, I understand that there are various flaws.」
「……Certainly, if the monsters that defend the dungeon fall ill, their fighting power would become useless.」
Though Elena nodded at Rei’s explanation, she spoke up after suddenly noticing something.
「However, if Rei’s guess is right, shouldn’t the inside of the dungeon be similar to the environment outside? For example, the first and second floors were like an ordinary dungeon, but the third floor down had mushrooms growing everywhere. The Lizardmen we fought there should normally live near water sources. When you think about it, as you said, there seem to be various flaws.」
「I agree. In the first place, maybe it’s wrong to consider the thoughts of the dungeon nucleus like that of a person. Maybe the nucleus has it’s own clear criteria as a nucleus, is it……I’ve said too much. It’s gradually getting dark, we should quickly finish preparations for setting up camp.」
「You’re right. It’s not great to have to set up camp in the dark.」
Elena nodded. Everyone else was of the same opinion and quickly set up camp.
「An item box is a really convenient thing.」
Elena muttered in admiration as she carried a spoonful of stew to her mouth. The hot pot of stew had been taken out of Misty Ring, still fresh and steaming.
As expected of a duke’s daughter, though she was eating dinner at a camp at night, her gestures were still refined.
While impressed at her actions, Rei took some freshly baked bread out of the Misty Ring to eat.
「Certainly, the slowest forces of the Knights when marching are the supply corps. If there was a person with an item box, it is right to think that the speed at which they could march would speed up by several times.」
Vel spoke up with a light tone as usual. He had a glass of wine in one hand and Poison Toad meat skewers in his other hand.
Of course, because they were still camping in a dungeon, it was only a light wine and was hardly different from fruit juice.
It should be noted that the Poison Toad skewers were made from the Poison Toads that Rei had killed and collected on the first floor. Vel had cut them up with his knife and roasted them on the campfire with some sauce that was taken out of the Misty Ring.
Ara and Kuust were also eating the fresh food that Rei had taken out of the Misty Ring and given to them.
Meanwhile, next to them and enjoying a luxurious dinner that you wouldn’t think you could eat in a dungeon, Set ate the roasted meat of the Lizardmen that they had defeated on the third floor with great relish.
It should be noted that because of their value, the corpses of the Lizardman General and the huge spider were still stored in the Misty Ring.
Though Rei and Set were regretful that no skills were acquired after Set ate the magic stones of the Lizardmen, Set didn’t have any problems with the taste of the Lizardman meat as he gave a happy cry.
With that, after everyone had finished their bread and stew, Elena spoke up.
「Well then, with this, we will be camping for the night……how will we settle the watch? Normally in the military, the watch will be swapped every few hours.」
She turned to look at Rei, wanting to hear how the adventurers dealt with it. Judging that was what she was asking, Rei answered.
「I don’t mind, it’s basically the same. However, unlike the military or other adventurers, because we have Set, we almost don’t need to worry about it.」
Rei stroked Set’s body as Set tore off the roasted tail of a Lizardman and gave a cry.
It should be noted that the tip of the Lizardman tail that Set was eating had already been cut off for proof of subjugation.
「Anyhow, when it comes to the sharpness of the five senses, no human can compare with Set’s senses. Even if some monsters attack, Set can deal with them as long as it isn’t a dungeon boss. ……However, I recommend that we take the watch in turns with Set in case anything comes up.」
「Though that’s great, then wouldn’t Set have no time to rest?」
「You don’t need to worry about that. His five senses are always active even when he’s resting his body, in the first place, as a Griffon, a high ranking monster, there’s no problem with staying up for several days. ……Well, because Set likes to sleep, he wouldn’t usually stay up all night willingly……it another story since we’re camping at night.」
「Hmm. Then we’ll be relying on your words Rei. Are you fine with that?」
Elena asked while looking around. Because he would be able to relax comfortably, Vel welcomed it. Ara was the same. Though Kuust looked like he wanted to say something, because he had seen Set’s excellence several times since leaving the city of Gilm, no words left his mouth.
「There doesn’t seem to be any problems. Then let’s decide the watch order. First is Ara, then me, Kuust, Vel and Rei. Are there any problems?」
Though they were lightly told the order of the watch as if it was nothing much, Ara and Kuust immediately spoke out after hearing it.
「For Elena-sama to take the watch, you don’t need to do that! Please leave it to us.」
「I am of the same opinion as Ara. As the Duke’s daughter, you shouldn’t need to take the watch.」
「Though I understand both your worries, it seems that we will have to camp in the dungeon at night for at least the next few days. Because of that, if I don’t even take the watch, it would be a deplorable thing when you think about it. Remember, Worrying and pampering are two different things.」
Though Kuust was going to argue more strongly, he could only fall silent after Elena glared at him sharply.
Thus, Kuust and Ara both reluctantly agreed to let Elena take a shift of the watch.
And with that, the party spent their first night in the dungeon.