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Chapter 0018 Same Goal
“Ooh, this is the frontier city Barona. It’s surprisingly crowded.”
After nullifying Elisha’s curse, I returned to Barona, where I was based, with her.
Elisha seemed to be visiting Barona for the first time and was intrigued by the sights of the city.
“Even though it’s at the frontier, this place has a lot of labyrinths after all.”
“I see. That explains why there are so many people.”
Barona thrived on the resources the labyrinth brought and the people who came seeking the labyrinths.
Compared to other frontier towns, it was probably a head above the rest.
“What will you do now, Elisha?”
“First of all, let’s eat something delicious!”
I was taken aback by Elisha’s sudden exclamation, which made her expression shine.
“No, that’s not what I meant, I was asking about your future plans …”
“There are no more pursuers, and the curse has been lifted! This is the greatest day of my life! That’s why today, I will eat delicious food and drink to my heart’s content! It’s my treat so come along Lude!”
Without concern for my hesitation, Elisha dragged me by the hand and moved purposefully.
She had been forced to live on the run for a long time and had been tormented by a curse.
I could understand her sense of liberation and the feeling of wanting to spend the day without worrying.
Respecting her feelings, I decided to take up her offer.
“Can we stop by the guild for a moment? I don’t have any money on hand.”
“You can’t run away, okay?”
“I wasn’t planning to.”
Elisha entered the Adventurer’s Guild, but not before looking back several times to confirm I was still there.
After a short while, she returned with a beaming smile.
In her hand, she was holding a leather bag full of coins, so it appeared that the magic stones she had sold for quite a sum.
“Hey, do you know any restaurants that serve delicious food? If possible, a place that serves large servings of delicious food and drinks!”
A man who is accustomed to dining with a woman would be able to expertly guide her to a shop that would please her, but I was a low-ranked adventurer. No woman would flirt with such a man and I hadn’t been in a proper relationship before so I didn’t know what kind of restaurant would make a woman happy.
“Is it okay if we go to the cafeteria at the inn I’m staying at called ‘Manpuku-tei’? They have many cheap and delicious dishes, and quite a few types of alcohol too.”
“That sounds good! Lead the way please!”
Elisha didn’t seem particularly disappointed when she heard that it was an inn’s cafeteria.
She really sounded okay with Manpuku-tei.
Although I was a little surprised, I decided to guide her to Manpuku-tei as requested.
It was a little early for dinner, but many customers had already taken their seats in Manpuku-tei’s cafeteria.
“Lude brought a friend! What in the world is happening?”
When I sat down in an empty seat, Ayra, the girl hired to attract customers, brought the menu and exclaimed with surprise.
“… It shouldn’t matter if I come in alone or with someone.”
“Well, you’ve been eating alone all this time. Of course I would be interested if you suddenly brought someone with you. Moreover, the person sitting with you is a super-beautiful elf.”
Stop emphasizing how I’m always eating alone.
Elisha, who was holding the menu, was looking at me like she was looking at a pitiful person.
“The cafeteria is crowded so you shouldn’t have time for idle talk. Take our orders first.”
Ayra took out a notepad and a pen to complete her duties while looking dissatisfied with my reply.
“Is there anything you like or dislike?”
“Nope. I’ll let you decide, Elisha.”
“In that case, I’ll order what I like!”
When I left the orders up to her, Elisha happily ordered one dish after another, and Ayra returned to the kitchen.
“Well then, a toast to celebrate the meeting between me and Lude!”
When the beer for the two of us arrived, we immediately clinked cups and gulped down the beer at once.
Downing it in one go and enjoying the sensation of it flowing down the throat. The unique bitterness and slight sourness were heavenly.
“Haah, it’s been a long time since I’ve had alcohol!”
Elisha slammed the cup on the table hard while there was still foam around the edges of her mouth.
The beautiful elf that all men in the world envisioned was nowhere to be found. There was just a lively female adventurer.
Well, I knew from the beginning that she didn’t have a prim and proper personality, so I wasn’t particularly surprised.
“Are you thinking of something rude?”
“No~, I’m not. Besides, our cups are empty. How about another refill?”
“That’s right! Excuse me! Two refills of beer, please!”
When I subtly diverted the topic, Elisha asked for another serving in a good mood.
Refills of beer were brought to our table immediately.
Even though it was her second cup, Elisha gulped it down in one go.
She was drinking at a pretty high pace.
“Are you good at holding your liquor?”
“Yeah, I’m an adventurer after all! I’m pretty good with alcohol!”
I didn’t connect how being an adventurer equaled being good with alcohol, but in that case, I probably didn’t need to worry about her pace.
While I was drinking beer little by little, the food Elisha ordered came.
Grilled mushrooms, tomato salad, seafood fried in garlic oil, fried chicken, sausage meat, three-partition hot pot, baguette, etc.
“Wow! Everything looks delicious!”
The dishes were quite large because it was Manpuku-tei’s food, but Elisha happily started to eat without hesitation.
Elisha smiled after eating grilled mushrooms and fried chicken.
I reached for the three-partition hotpot while feeling relieved that she seemed satisfied.
Seafood, meat, and vegetable broths were contained in the pot partitioned into three sections, each containing a rich variety of ingredients.
I only ever came to the cafeteria by myself, so it was hard to order such a large serving hotpot dish, so it was my first time eating it.
Ah, the three-partition hotpot is delicious. Each dashi soup incorporated the ingredients well.
It was nice to be able to enjoy three flavors at once.
“All the food here is delicious! It’s a lot and it’s cheap, it’s the best!”
“It’s great that you like it.”
“Lude is also staying at this inn, right?”
“Then I’ll stay here too.”
When I nodded, Elisha called Ayra and immediately secured a room.
I was surprised by Elisha’s quick decision.
“The rooms aren’t that pretty, you know?”
“Any place where I can sleep in peace is fine. I’ve been sleeping outdoors this entire time after all.”
It was not a luxury inn that Elisha, an S-rank adventurer, would stay at, but for her, who had been forced to live on the run for a long time, it would be comfortable just to have a safe place with a roof.
“What will Elisha do now?”
I asked when the food on the table was gone to some extent and my stomach was satisfied.
I was curious about what Elisha, who had no pursuers and was released from the curse, would do in the future.
“My goal is to rescue my comrade trapped in that labyrinth.”
Elisha set down her cup and said with a resolute expression.
“Is that friend alive?”
I didn’t know what it was like to be captured by a labyrinth, but many years have passed since then. The odds of them being alive was probably low.
“I don’t know… but even if it’s the worst possible outcome, I won’t give up on defeating that monster.”
It seemed that no matter what her companion’s condition was, her determination to subjugate the monster in the deepest part of the Abyssal Labyrinth would not change.
“Does Lude have any goals?”
“My dream is to become an S-rank adventurer and save people.”
“That’s a nice dream.”
“You’re not going to laugh at me?”
“I didn’t have the desire to save someone like Lude does, but I used to have the same dream. I won’t laugh at someone with the same dream.”
Indeed, the one in front of me was an S-rank adventurer, albeit a former one.
There was no way a girl like that would laugh at my dreams.
I’m just happy that my dreams aren’t denied.
“Hey, Lude. Would you like to form a party with me?”
“Lude will eventually become an S-rank adventurer, right? Then, you have the same goal as me, as it leads to the deepest part of the Abyssal Labyrinth, right?”
“Wait wait. I didn’t say I will dive into the Abyssal Labyrinth.”
“You’re going to become an S-rank adventurer, right? Then you’ll have to conquer a labyrinth with a high difficulty level.”
What was required of S-rank adventurers was whether they have the qualifications to represent their country.
You can’t get promoted just by completing quests, you have to accomplish great deeds such as traversing high-difficulty labyrinths and subjugating disaster-level monsters.
“That being said, my level has now dropped and I’m in this state, so first of all, I have to regain the strength I had when I was an S-rank. Leaving aside the matter of helping me with the labyrinth, how about forming a party for now?”
Elisha’s level had fallen considerably. It would take a long time to get back to the level of her prime. She wasn’t going to challenge the labyrinth in a year or two.
Our goal was the same.
But was I worth forming a party with Elisha?
My current level was a little higher, but Elisha was superior in some status.
“I’m glad you invited me, but doesn’t Elisha have stronger acquaintances?”
Even though our level was almost the same, she still has the knowledge and experience she had when she was an S-rank adventurer, so her skill must be much higher.
As long as she leveled up, she could keep up with the forefront adventurers, so rather than form a party with someone like me, wouldn’t it be better to form a party with someone who was at the forefront? If she was aiming for the Abyssal Labyrinth at the fastest speed, that would be quicker.
“Lude, the adventurers who are at the forefront all have a few screws loose. Even if they have the skills, I don’t trust my back with them.”
“I-is that so?”
Elisha nodded while looking far away.
According to that theory, Elisha also has a few screws loose, but I better not bring that up.
“Even if there were S-rank adventurers with decent personalities, five years have passed. Humans have a short lifespan, so many of them would have retired, and the way Lude is thinking is no longer an option for me.”
It may be a short time for Elisha, who is an elf with a long lifespan, but five years is a long time for humans.
Being an adventurer is a job where your body is your capital. It’s natural to leave the forefront when you feel the decline.
It seemed that it would be difficult for Elisha to join the forefront as I envisioned.
“If it weren’t for Lude, I would have been hunted by adventurer hunters, and eventually devoured by the curse and died. You saved my life twice. I want to be of help to you.”
“It’s not like I helped you for a favor…”
I didn’t want Elisha to form a party with me just because I saved her life.
It might sound strangely prideful for a man who is nothing but an E-rank adventurer, but there’s no reason to compromise on personal values.
“I know. But if you’re going on an adventure, it’s good to have someone you can trust with your back. I feel like I can trust Lude. That’s why I want to party with you.”
Since I’m a pure vanguard, I have almost no long-range attacks or magic attacks.
Combat would become more stable with the addition of a skilled magician, and the range of work that I can do as an adventurer would greatly expand.
Normally, I would be in the position to request to form a party, but Elisha thinks highly of me and invited me. That made me very happy.
I would love to accept Elisha’s invitation as quickly as possible, but I had the secret of eating monsters.
Elisha might get creeped out if she sees me eating monsters during an adventure.
However, it would be rude to refuse without explaining after she said that much.
But I couldn’t talk about it in such a public place.
“… Okay. Let’s form a party.”
“Yay! Then from now on, we’re formally companions–”
“However, I have one secret. After I explain, Elisha can decide whether to formally form a team with me or not.”
I continued my words to stop Elisha from getting overjoyed.
“It’s not something like you love killing people as a hobby, or that you have some ridiculous sexual fetish, right?”
Elisha asked with a slightly frightened look, so I firmly denied it.
“Hey, it’s nothing like that.”
I just wanted to make it clear that I didn’t have the criminal hobbies and sexual thoughts that Elisha envisioned.
Well, depending on how you looked at it, you might say it’s an eating habit that surpasses those other examples.
“Hmm… I understand. If I can get Lude to agree and form a party with me if I listen to your secret, I have no problem. Please tell me the secret tomorrow.”
Elisha, who had already seen through a part of my secret, was amazing. Well, it was only natural to find it strange if she saw me use that many monster skills.
I will explain tomorrow and see if Elisha will accept it.
If she doesn’t, I’ll just return to working alone as usual. That’s all.
“Well, since the serious talk is over, let’s have a drink!”
Emptying her cup, Elisha refilled it for the sixth time.