༺ Cultist Nymph and Pluto’s Underground Labyrinth (5) ༻
The work that the adventurers of a guild were assigned to do could be broadly classified into three categories.
Firstly, there was the kind of jobs that revolved around escorting people or subduing monsters in return for money and contributions to the guild. The job of the so-called mercenaries more or less also fell into this category.
The primary task of the people from this category revolved around killing or knocking down creatures using their weapons and combat prowess.
It could be said that this category of work was the main business of the Mars Guild, which valued the most primitive form of power— violence. That was why Mars Guild was overflowing with rough, raggedy, and tough-looking bastards who were more akin to fierce mercenaries rather than typical adventurers.
Secondly, there was the kind of work that involved a group of investigators that were dedicated to exploring uncharted landscapes and making new discoveries. From the old Earthen viewpoint, I guess these were the kind of people that were like the explorers of old that were active from the 19th century to the 20th century or something along those lines?
These kinds of people were said to have traveled between the continents and explored the dangerous valleys as well as, reportedly, the mysterious and treacherous jungles just to shed light on the mysteries of the world that had not yet been revealed to others.
I believe that the outstanding adventurers of the Minerva Guild mainly did this category of adventurer work. In fact, I even believed that the word ‘Adventure’ from ‘Adventurer’ perfectly fit this archetype of jobs.
Discovering new creatures, minerals, plants, and all sorts of things in general, creating charts, exploring new terrain, and increasing existing knowledge while mapping the world… all of these tasks were truly suitable for the word ‘Adventure.’
Anyway, let’s just move on from this discussion and get to the real crux of this talk.
What I really wanted to talk about was the third and final category of the work that adventurers do in this world… and that was raiding Pluto’s underground labyrinths.
That’s right. Raiding the underground labyrinth was probably the main passion for many adventurers.
This was also the form of adventuring that everyone without fail was highly enthusiastic about, regardless of people from the Minerva Guild or the Mars Guild.
Invading Pluto’s labyrinth, killing the demonic monsters sleeping in the depths, and bringing rare and valuable relics to sell in the market— those were the tasks that every adventurer should strive to do and truly befitted being called an ‘adventure.’
Just like the European powers during the gold rush era, when they would dig up every mountain and every mineral vein they could get their hands on, it was a golden task that every guild, adventurer, or whatever other powers out there were enthusiastic about doing in present times.
In this world, the equivalent of that golden task from that old era from Earth was… raiding Pluto’s labyrinth.
As for me, I was just a newbie who hadn’t even taken a step into the mercenary or exploration tasks yet.
However, I could still boast that I knew more than enough about raiding Pluto’s labyrinth. At least among the bronze-tier adventurers, I was more than sure that I didn’t fall short in comparison to them in this aspect.
I had entered the labyrinth more than ten times already as a porter for Elfriede.
Therefore, I dare say that it was undoubtedly dangerous for a team of five to venture into the labyrinth.
“So, Hassan of Samaria, are you suggesting that we exclude one member from this expedition?”
Hippolyte, leaning against the corner of Sodomora’s west gate, narrowed her forehead into a frown when she heard my suggestion.
She looked tired as though she was a teacher and had heard a bunch of students’ excuses and nonsense as to why they were not able to do their homework in the given time. Perhaps she was not pleased with my suggestion?
“There’s only an hour left before the labyrinth expedition begins. I don’t understand why you are trying to say something like this all of a sudden…”
“Miss Hippolyte, you must know a lot about Pluto’s labyrinth as an experienced adventurer, right? Don’t you think it’s a bit risky with only five members? It might be better to have seven or eight members instead to raid the labyrinth.”
“Oh, Hassan… Now I understand what you mean. Are you talking about the difficulty level increasing depending on the number of people who enter together?”
As expected of a high-level adventurer like her, she seemed to understand what I was trying to convey to her almost immediately. Pluto’s Labyrinth was not just a random construct. It was more akin to a living organism with moving body parts.
That was why… the number of traps and monsters that appeared in the labyrinth increased depending on the number of people who entered simultaneously.
For comparison, how should I say this…
Oh yes… To compare them, it was similar to a dungeon in a game where the difficulty level increased as the number of party members increased.
That was why large expeditions consisting of huge forces like the Kingdom Knights couldn’t conquer the labyrinth. The difficulty level increased exponentially with the number of people!
And as far as I knew, the standard for increasing the difficulty level was a multiple of five.
So there was a significant difference in difficulty between clearing the labyrinth with four and five people. It was not an exaggeration to say that the difference was considerable like the mode itself changed from easy to normal or normal to hard in an instant with just the inclusion of one more person.
There was no way that the upper echelons of Mars Guild, who planned the expedition to the labyrinth, didn’t know about this. So, in protest, I had no choice but to ask Hippolyte the reason why they had organized the expedition this way.
Then, her answer was to that was—
“If clearing the labyrinth is too easy, then it’s not a mission. It’s just a leisurely walk in a dark atmosphere at most. That wouldn’t be fun.”
“That’s right. Fun. Fun has many aspects to it, you know? The fun of slaughter. The fun of injury. The fun of growth. And the fun of reward that you obtain after accomplishing a hard task.”
Fucking hell! How the fuck did ‘Fun’ get so many variations? What the hell was fun about getting injured? Was getting injured even supposed to be fun in the first place? What kind of lunacy…
“Well, how should I phrase this? Miss Hippolyte, you seem to have a very broad perspective on the definition of fun.”
Perhaps thinking that my reaction was lackluster, Hippolyte looked around as if trying to check if anyone was listening to our conversation before continuing her words.
“Samaritan. It seems that you know a lot about the labyrinth. Your opinion is quite reasonable. But there are one or two things that you are unaware of.”
“What do you mean by that exactly?”
“As I said, a task is meaningless if it’s not difficult. The more difficult the task, the more karma you accumulate and the higher your level rises as a human.”
“Are you saying something along the lines of… the higher the difficulty, the greater the reward?”
“Yes, you catch on quickly. Five. That’s an appropriate number to conquer the labyrinth. The other silver-tier adventurers like me, as well as the heroes who have those shiny golden tags dangling around their necks, have always conquered the labyrinths in groups of five people.”
According to Hippolyte’s point of view, five people were the most suitable composition for balancing the difficulty and reward aspects of a labyrinth exploration. It would pose the right level of difficulty while simultaneously allowing the adventurers to get a large reward after conquering the dungeon.
Perhaps it was a perfectly legitimate argument, yes…
But it might only be possible when all five people were in agreement and work as a cohesive team.
Top, mid, jungle, bot, and duo…1These are LoL (League of Legends) terms. You can learn more about them here -> https://gamerant.com/league-legends-roles-explained/?newsletter_popup=1 When I calculate the number of people up to five then—
“The participants in this expedition have all been carefully selected from the promising candidates within the guild. As long as everyone fulfills their roles, there shouldn’t be any difficulties for you guys in conquering this labyrinth.”
Hippolyte left after speaking out those words in a lighthearted tone, as though already confident of our success.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It was still early dawn— a time when there was still a faint trace of loneliness lingering in the air permeating the world.
Four people were already waiting for me in front of the west gate of Sodomora.
Among them, the first person I noticed was, of course, Luna, who had a huge backpack placed on the ground while she was sitting on it and looking at the surroundings with those cute and curious eyes of hers.
“Hassan! Over here!”
Seeing Luna waving her hand, I felt a bit relieved.
It was better to start with at least one ally by your side than to undergo a journey into the unknown with people that you were not acquainted with.
At Luna’s words, I quickly scanned the faces of the people gathered for this expedition. They were a dwarf wearing robust armor throughout his body, a mage with a short staff in her hand, and the cultist nymph, Paranoy.
As soon as I locked eyes with Paranoy, I saw a momentary flash of anger brimming in her scarlet-hued pupils. When I wondered why she got mad as soon as she saw me—
I soon realized that yesterday Hippolyte had declared herself that I was the one to subdue Schizo— a member of the cultist group she previously belonged to.
Even as stupid as she was, Paranoy would have realized that I’m not one of Pluto’s cultists by now.
I wondered if she was feeling betrayed right now due to my actions…
Damn it! I already had a bad feeling about this expedition even before it started.
It was like the situation where you met a friend, you had trolled on the previous game and got cussed as a result, again as a teammate in the next queue. Yeah… that was more or less the feeling that was going through my mind at the moment.
I felt tense, not knowing what crazy thing this cultist, probably cussing me inside her head, would do this time around.
Not only that, but I also felt like I couldn’t breathe when the other pairs of eyes stared at my face simultaneously. I just hated being a group leader. Fuck!
“Well, then. Before we leave, since we may have to spend a few days together, why don’t we introduce ourselves to each other? I am Hassan of Samaria. I happened to become the party leader this time. Please take care of me.”
After that, I tried to think of something more to say, but nothing really came to mind. Luna was the only one who clapped happily in the midst of that awkward atmosphere.
And soon after, she shouted cheerfully, just like how she did when we first met.
“I’m Luna, a daughter of Ideope! I am the daughter of the Great Night! Please take care of me from now on too!”
“Hmm, so you’re from Ideope, huh?”
Unlike the lackluster reaction to my introduction, there was a small exclamation following Luna’s. It was Paranoy, who had been quietly staring at me till now, who had suddenly spoken up.
“If you’re from Ideope, do you happen to know someone named Somnia?”
“Of course, I know Somnia! I smashed her head before with my own hands! Then, I took this obsidian dagger and talismans from her too as loot.”
“Ahem, uh-hum, well, then, next. Who’s next…!?”
I wondered if there was anything I could do to help Paranoy, one of our party members, calm down at this moment. Since it felt like we were going to face a crisis before we even set off at this rate, I quickly intervened in Luna and Paranoy’s conversation.
“Next, that Mr. Dwarf over there, can you introduce yourself?”
“Me? Y-You mean me?”
The dwarf, touching the protruding bull-like horns of his helmet, trembled at my words. I could see that he was hesitating as if he was feeling terribly shy about something.
“Ahem, well, introducing myself. Uh-hum… Uh-hum…”
He seemed very shy for someone armed with a huge double-edged axe and donning a thick red beard, no?
“It makes me feel awkward that I need to introduce myself so abruptly. Haha, what should I say? I haven’t even thought about it.”
“Just say anything that comes to mind.”
“Anything, ah, anything. Right. Um, I am, uh, who am I again? Oh yeah… I’m Didier, son of Troggzor. I don’t have a girlfriend yet… M-My ideal type is a woman like the goddess Vesta. A woman who is like a warm, welcoming hearth. The kind of woman who doesn’t complain if I’m stuck in the workshop for a couple of days but instead will make sure that I’m fed on time or something along those lines… I guess…”
Why the heck was this midget suddenly talking about his ideal woman? But… if people from this world were not used to introducing themselves, then they might be flustered and babble out nonsense, I guess.
Even I, who had gone through numerous group projects, had never become used to the awkward time at the start that was dedicated to self-introduction…
“It’s okay if she is taller than me, but she must have a definite weight—”
But still, listening to Didier ramble on about what kind of body type his ideal woman should have, my heart started to sink…
There were three women at this party, and every single one of them, without exception, was sending deathly cold glares toward Didier! We would be in trouble if the bloody fucker kept rambling on like this!
“No, Mr. Didier. What I want to say, uh… Do you have any talents or skills that you want to share with us?”
“Oh, skills. Um… I like making pancakes. I make them really well. If you sprinkle Bashkir honey on flour from the Sodom plains, it tastes really good.”
Great at making pancakes. That was quite a talent indeed!
But why was this guy holding a double-edged axe then? Was it a cooking tool of some kind?
“Well, that should be enough about introducing yourself. Then the remaining people are—”
The remaining members were a female mage with long sky-blue hair that fluttered with the wind and the short scarlet-haired nymph. I started briefly pondering as to who to call first… But the gaze Paranoy aimed at me was so piercing that it was starting to annoy me ever so slightly.
“Next is the nymph, you speak about yourself.”
The cultist nymph— Paranoy was taken aback, not expecting her name to be called next.
“I-I need to think about it a little. Uh, um… I am a sorceress named Paranoy… b-but now that I can’t use Lord Pluto’s magic power, I won’t be able to use sorcery anymore… S-So, then what am I…? What should I do? What do you think?”
Huh, how am I supposed to know that? Why is she asking me for her own introduction?
For a moment, I was worried if this nymph could handle her part in the dungeon or not… Would she end up triggering traps or doing something to cause us trouble instead of fulfilling her role?
When I realized that I should probably think a little more about it.
“Paranoy, you can find out what you can do inside the labyrinth.”
Luna, quietly listening to other people’s introductions, suddenly spoke to Paranoy.
“Yeah! The gods love nymphs, so you can do anything!”
“R-Really? Is that so?”
“Besides, nymphs can also be good ingredients for elixirs! If you don’t know what to do, come to me! I’ll use you well!”
Holy fucking shit! I’m screwed.
Then, there was only one person left to introduce themselves among us now…
After we were done listening to the last person’s introduction, I decided to end this strange self-introduction time as soon as I can.
“Well, then, how about you, Miss Witch of Frost? Please introduce yourself last…”
“Hmph, I don’t listen to those weaker than myself. Remember that, you filthy barbarian.”
What a Black-War-Greymon-like bitch.
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- 1These are LoL (League of Legends) terms. You can learn more about them here -> https://gamerant.com/league-legends-roles-explained/?newsletter_popup=1