Chapter 136: Growth
I went to the shop after getting off the magic-driven elevator but Catherine’s successor wasn’t there.
“I didn’t ask if there was a replacement stationed here and who it was if a successor was chosen.”
Since it didn’t look like it was vandalized, I thought that it was irrelevant and opened the door to the labyrinth.
“There’ll be an abnormal smell from this point forward. Would you like to borrow a nose plug?”
“I’ll accept it then.”
She didn’t look like she planned to use it but Estia quietly received the nose plug.
“I’ll pass you the Holy Silver sword and shield. We’ll be advancing at a rapid pace so please keep up.”
“Okay. I’ll do my best.”
Maybe Estia was feeling nervous but she didn’t continue the conversation.
Conquering the labyrinth with that atmosphere would give me headaches so I decided to quickly finish up.
“That’s a zombie. Have you seen it before?”
“I’ve seen it before in the Empire when I was young.”
” … I see. Have you seen ghouls and the like as well?”
“The Empire was also researching on the undead. As far as I can recall, people with high magic aptitude become wraiths, low-level corpses become zombies or mummies while high-level corpses become ghouls and specter knights.”
“I see. Please let me know if you recall anything else.”
Is the different impression I’m getting from her compared to before because I found out that the Darkness Spirit was possessing Estia? Or is this the real Estia? I didn’t really know myself.
From then on, our conversation stopped.
The stench became worse the further down we descended but our clearing speed was constant.
It only took us about 30 minutes to reach the 10th floor and we exited the boss room after 10 minutes.
Our respective battles ended almost immediately but it took time to gather the magic stones.
“I feel that the number of monsters has increased compared to yesterday. But, let’s continue with this pace.”
Estia would reply when I speak to her. However, she’s in a state whereby she only talks the minimum required amount when it is regarding herself.
I thought that it was because she became my subordinate but thinking back until now, she only properly replied when spoken to.
I came to a conclusion that perhaps her personality is one that does not talk about meaningless things.
“If there’s anything you want to say or think that there’s something strange, please let me know. Since there may be matters that I cannot detect on my own but can find out with Estia or Darkness Spirit’s help.”
At that moment, she gave a happy expression and I felt that her wariness dissolved.
Is Estia’s personality due to her reliance on the Darkness Spirit? After then, we advanced through the labyrinth without any weird tension between us.
“Why are the wraiths appearing from the 20th floor onward? Is it possible that the labyrinth itself is powering up?”
“What appeared in the past?”
“Monsters like ghouls, mummies, ghosts, and skeleton knights. Wraiths should only appear after the 30th floor … I have a bad feeling about this. I want to quickly purify this place but we’ll take a break for now at the 30th floor.”
” … Understood.”
Just as mentioned by the Darkness Spirit, Estia could advance without being controlled at all even after receiving the wraith’s mind interference magic.
I decided to rest in the 30th-floor boss room where the wraith and specter knights appear.
“Are you not tired?”
“They’re mostly defeated by Luciel-sama so I don’t feel much signs of fatigue.”
Estia replied but she still looks languid to me.
If it gets too tiring, she’ll likely change with the Darkness Spirit but … no signs of fatigue?
“You’ve been fighting too and we’ve been walking continuously so you should feel slightly tired right?”
“Only civilians would tire from that. My level is decent and I’ve not worked myself recently so …”
Has she not accustomed herself to a comfy lifestyle? That remark was the same level as those by Kefin.
“For me perhaps it’s because my status has risen compared to the past? Or maybe thanks to my daily training? I’m surprised that I’m not struggling in battle. Estia, do you want to fight a little more?”
“I don’t mean it that way … how much time did you take in the past to reach this point?”
With that question, I tried recalling my past labyrinth capture. If I remember correctly, it took me close to half a year to reach this point. Since I essentially spent a year and a half diving into this labyrinth.
” … I believe I took a couple of months. Before coming to this labyrinth, I was preparing myself in Meratoni and after coming to the church headquarters, I experienced real life threatening combat … I was substantially weaker in the past compared to now.”
I naturally broke into a smile thinking back to my nostalgic memories.
“You’ve really worked hard.”
“It’s slightly different from working hard. I was merely able to overcome the ordeal with the help of luck to overturn my foolhardiness.”
I can’t say that it’s all thanks to luck but if Great Luck-sensei didn’t trigger, I wouldn’t be standing here now.
“Even so, you did put in effort right?”
” … I wonder?”
At that time I was desperately trying to survive so I didn’t consider it as working hard.
I’ve been putting in effort to learn the minimum necessary skills but I wonder, after all these years since coming to this world, even if it’s only slightly, have I grown as a person?
It felt like that question became a wedge that wrapped around my chest.
After resting, we entered the 31st floor and the undead rank rose once again.
Multiple large existences like the red-eyed specter knights and wraiths stalked the floor.
“I may not be able to aid you so if it gets dangerous, try to evade. Conversely, if you have room to spare, please protect me.”
After replying, Estia walked towards a specter knight and easily defeated it.
While feeling astonished with Estia’s combat ability, I told myself that I am myself and that there’s no need to compare as I faced the monsters.
“It’s amazing how you can behead the monsters without a magic sword. It’s a feat that is impossible for me.”
I swapped between Illusionary Sword and Illusionary Cane as I defeated monsters with purification magic and with a magic sword and advanced while retrieving the magic stones.
“Even monsters that are supposed to only appear after the 40th floor are beginning to appear. Since I don’t know what would appear ahead, let’s have our meal on the 40th floor and take a nap. We’ll clear the labyrinth at one go after our nap.”
” … Understood.”
Without struggling in battle or falling into traps, we advanced until the 40th-floor boss room at the usual speed.
At that point, Estia asked a question herself for the first time.
“Luciel-sama, is it usually this easy to advance in labyrinths?”
“I think it’s normally impossible. You feel so now possibly because we’re advancing without getting lost. Having the map I drew the previous time I dived into this labyrinth plays a huge part. Furthermore, we have prepared measures for the monsters … for example, measures such as those against losing combat capabilities by falling under the wraith’s mind interference might play a large part as well.”
“Now that you mentioned it, we’ve been advancing without getting lost at all …”
I wonder what reason caused Estia to suddenly talk to me. It’s not a problem but it did bug me.
“Why did you ask?”
” … Am I being useful?”
It’s the same words as before but I didn’t know why she has such a strong desire to be useful.
“I’ll be honest. I believe I certainly could reach this point on my own. However, since I’ve hardly used my magical power, I’m thankful.”
Estia gripped my hands and smiled happily but I didn’t feel anything in particular from that.
“I’ll be troubled if you loosen your guard now. I had the experience of spending half a year in this 40th-floor boss room previously. I look forward to Estia and Darkness Spirit’s strength to not have a repeat of that.”
While urging her to stay focused, I talked about my own experience and focused my mind on the battle with the boss.
“Half a year … I’m surprised you survived.”
“I thought I said it was because my luck was good?”
“So it was the truth … I thought it was a joke or …”
“My principle is to not say meaningless lies. Let’s focus and enter.”
I also felt that Estia was taking notice of me.
However, I could not ascertain as to which extent was her true feelings. But, aside from deciding to be a retainer or not, I felt like she wanted to not fear people.
Then, when the door to the 40th-floor boss room opened, standing there was … the Specter Knight King.
” … To think that we would meet again.”
“Wha, what strong intimidation it’s emitting, that’s not a normal monster.”
Even though it’s just a Specter Knight King, the intimidation aura was close to that of Lionel.
I thought to myself that I was not wrong when I considered in my heart the previous Specter Knight King as my second instructor.
Looking at Estia, she was trembling a little.
“You can’t fight when you’re trembling right? Leave this guy to me and stay ready at the back.”
“No way, to challenge such a monster alone …”
“That’s why I’m challenging it. I’ll make it clear to myself here whether I’ve grown or not.”
Holy Dragon Spear on my left and Illusionary Sword on my right.
I now have equipment that is incomparable to the ones I had at that time.
Even just judging by level, my level has reached 3 digits so I should have become stronger.
Even so, my body was still about to cower in fear against the Specter Knight King’s intimidation.
It’s a worthy opponent that I now want to clash with headfirst.
“Church Headquarters S-rank healer Luciel, for the sake of gauging my own growth, I shall challenge master in battle.”
A single beat later, I challenged the Specter Knight King to battle.
Slipping past the greatsword that could make me believe that it could annihilate anything with a single hit, the second strike’s spear thrust appeared in front of my eyes.
The first attack pattern has 5 types and they have few variations.
After repelling that powerful spear strike, the greatsword came swinging back.
My body still firmly remembered the patterns.
Receiving it with my magical power-infused Holy Dragon Spear, I diverted it such that it doesn’t strike my body and aimed for the open neck while rotating my body.
The Specter Knight King defended that with its spear and made a gesture to counterattack with its greatsword.
However, the Illusionary Sword sliced through the Specter Knight King’s spear without any resistance and while maintaining its full speed, beheaded the Specter Knight King.
“Even though I was so happy that tears were about to come out when I finally won after battling for half a year, this time I won even before a minute was up.”
My body remembered the attack patterns.
I certainly recall the time when I went against the Specter Knight King.
Making my body remember by confronting an opponent that I would not be able to beat normally again and again … beating into my head and body the feeling of wanting to survive and converting that into my driving force.
I felt like I understood why I was so desperate at that time, frantically racing forward to advance. That’s definitely something that the Specter Knight King taught me.
I realized that I have created myself in a way that is more that what I needed.
“Luciel-sama, why did you confront such a monster headfirst? Or rather, so Luciel-sama has been going easy all this time. I didn’t know that you were that strong.”
The radiantly smiling Estia’s words felt like she saw through the current me but I also replied with a smile.
“I merely won against the past me. Well then, let’s have our meal.”
While laughing at Estia who had a blank look, I once again experienced the feeling of being alive after a long time.
Thank you for reading.
Luciel is being infected by Broad, Lionel and Catherine haha … he’s becoming a battle maniac too. Also, it seems like the author is fleshing out Estia’s character quite a bit … finally a possible love interest?