The ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞
□ 【Paladin】 Ray Starling
Royal Capital, Altea
After escaping from the fountain square, we arrived at the main street, a location with shops lined up as far as the eye could see.
“Okay then, like we’ve discussed before, I want us to get stronger. The best way to do that would be leveling up in the hunting grounds around the Royal Capital, but currently we are unable to do this.”
“Indeed, those guys are still killing other players.”
In order to get our revenge against the bullet PK from the ＜Noz Forest＞, I needed to level up. However, as long as the PK group acted behind the scenes, I would get immediately killed by them after leaving the city.
“That’s why we are going to the farming place my brother told me about, the last remaining one in the Capital.”
“The ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞, right?”
It was the only hunting place in this area that resided within the city. Its true identity was a massive labyrinth dungeon that spread below the earth, underground of the Royal Capital’s graveyard block. Complementing what my brother had said, the strategy wikis I checked while affected by the death penalty pointed the following about the ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞:
First – It was an underground dungeon where its aspect and inhabiting monsters changed every 5 floors;
Second – The deeper you went inside the dungeon, the stronger the appearing monsters would get;
Third – After going down dozens of floors, the player would encounter a great number of boss monsters, ones whose strength was beyond comparison with the 【Demi-Dragwurm’s】;
Fourth – Conversely, the monsters in the upper levels were weak, having around the same degree of strength as the ones that appeared in the vicinities of the Royal Capital;
Fifth – According to the investigation done by the wiki volunteers, currently they had confirmed the existence of 45 floors.
The fourth point was the most important. If they concentrated only in the upper levels of the ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞, even a beginner like us would be able to level up; moreover, there wouldn’t be any need to worry about the PKs.
“Usually, that place should have been overran by rookies, but… I guess that was not the case.”
“Yeah, barely any beginner should be able to enter there.”
“…..Tough life, huh.”
“You tell me.”
As we recalled the reason why beginner’s couldn’t get inside the dungeon, Nemesis and I sighed.
I made the decision to gain levels in the ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞. But first of all, I had to obtain a necessary item for that purpose, so I went around looking for the shop my brother had mentioned in the past; eventually, among the many other stores that existed in the street, I managed to find the right one and immediately entered it.
Sitting behind the counter was someone who seemed to be the shopkeeper. Since they were completely covered in a hood, noy only I couldn’t distinguish whether they were a ＜Master＞ or a tian, but also it was impossible for me to identify their gender.
“….Talk about a suspicious shop, Master.”
Inside there were equipment such as swords and armor, medicinal items and, finally, shelves and glass cases decorated with many accessories. Even the cheapest ones of all the merchandise in the shop had price tags of over 10000 lirs. As a secondhand shop, it seemed that it specialized in rare items that were sold off by ＜Masters＞.
According to my brother, it was apparently necessary to buy a certain item here in order to explore the ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞.
“A 【Gravestone Labyrinth Exploration Permit】, please.”
I told the shopkeeper the name of the item I wanted.
A moment later, they retrieved the requested item—something akin to a medal—from a shelf in the shop. Displaying the 【Gravestone Labyrinth Exploration Permit】 name, it was an item strictly required to enter the dungeon. In addition, I heard that it was only effective to the person possessing it.
The only ways to officially obtain it were either through a random drop from the treasure chest of a boss monster, or through the rewards of a “Difficulty: Three” quest that was regularly issued by the Kingdom.
However, it wasn’t always necessary to defeat the boss on your own or clear the quest; since they were frequently sold off after being obtained, it was fine for a player to just buy it. Yet, if one were to choose that option, they would have to deal with its biggest problem……. the item’s price.
“The total is 100,000 lirs, dear customer.”
Indeed, the 【Gravestone Labyrinth Exploration Permit】 was a very expensive item that reached around 100,000 lirs in the market.
The upper levels of the ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞ could obviously be used by rookies to level up. But the starting money of a beginner was only 5000 lirs—there was no way for them to get their hands on such an expensive item. As a result, even though it had a suitable level range for newbies, that dungeon could never be used as a farming spot for them. Considering that I was a rookie too, such a feat would normally be impossible for me to achieve, but…
“Here it is.”
I could pay that 100,000 price. Well, you know, I still had 200,000 remaining from the 【Full Body Armor】 sale, an item that dropped from the 【Demi-Dragwurm】. I had been afraid of this entire amount randomly dropping during the PK incident, but fortunately I didn’t lose a large sum. Thanks to that, I was able to obtain my 【Permit】.
“That centipede, even after death it is still being useful in a lot of ways.”
Like how it helped me in achieving the requirements to take the 【Paladin】 job and provided the funds necessary to make the purchase this time. If I hadn’t defeated it, I would be unable to do a lot of stuff. I was really thankful to it—but not to the point of feeling regret over taking the monster down, since it had charged against Miliane and almost killed me. To begin with, just thinking about how much money was gone through those broken accessories….. I had to be thankful of my brother.
Next time, I was going to pay a visit to him in the real world and bring some souvenirs with me. I had moved to Tokyo but my original home was pretty close to it.
“Well, at any rate, I have made my preparations.”
I had acquired the 【Gravestone Labyrinth Exploration Permit】. My wallet might have been hurt by it, but now I could level up.
“Still, 100,00 lirs, huh?… Having money really makes the difference.”
“You know, money is indispensable in order to live in a civilization.”
“Indeed. Ah, it is almost time for dinner. I want to eat those three days’ worth of food.”
“…My wallet just got a lot lighter, so let’s try to economize.”
Sure enough, Nemesis devoured a frightening amount of food for dinner. Nonetheless, after that we finally arrived at the graveyard block.
Just as expected, instead of having Japanese-style gravestones, the graveyard here was entirely western-themed. Countless tombstones were lined up around the place, the names of the deceased and their dates of birth and death engraved in their respective monument.
It was a pretty wide graveyard so it had a guide board right at its entrance. Taking a look at it, I learned that the gates to the ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞ were apparently in the deepest parts of the cemetery. The board also indicated that near the dungeon was the soldier’s station that managed the labyrinth.
Then, I entered the graveyard and started walking towards the dungeon’s entrance.
Being in an unknown, western graveyard—and at night, to boot—felt pretty terrifying.
Ah, oh crap.
Having these kinds of thoughts will only make Nemesis poke fun… at… me?
She showed no reaction.
Her face was completely expressionless—or rather, she seemed to be doing her best to erase the emotions she currently felt. Hm, since we were going to have our first battle after my return from the penalty, I wondered if she was bracing herself because of it.
Awkwardly, to the point she seemed to make creaking sounds, Nemesis slowly moved her lips as if she was a rusted puppet.
“…Nah, it’s nothing.”
…Bracing herself? It felt like she was just a bundle of nerves right now…
I had just come back to the game, so maybe I should pay attention to Nemesis today. All things considered, this graveyard was really creepy. Well, of course it would be creepy—it was a damn graveyard with barely any illumination at night.
Right, let’s not forget that this was ＜Infinite Dendrogram＞, where monsters normally existed. Zombies could appear from under those tombstones over there and, while scattering pieces of their own flesh, would come creeping towards me in herds. This kind of horror development was possible enough to happen here.
Ah, speaking of horror, there was this thing I heard from an acquaintance, Y-san. Some time ago, she had a quick errand to take care of and passed near Yokohama’s Foreign Cemetery in the middle of the night.
“It’s so dark, this is too scary,” she had thought while walking, only to immediately hear a “Hooon, Hooon” kind of whistle sound coming out from somewhere.
“Eh?” was the first thing that had popped up in Y-san’s mind.
“You see, that sound wasn’t coming from the sea, but actually ‘from the cemetery’.”
Although alarms sounded in her head with “What is this, scary…”, Y-san still felt the urge to check the source of said sound.
When she began walking there to check it, she realized something.
What did you find?
“It wasn’t actually ‘Hooon, Hooon’. When I paid better attention to it, it was the kind of sound the wind would make after passing through the gap of something soft, like ‘Bwuu, Bwuu’.”
As if drawn to it, Y-san steadily got closer to the sound.
“STOP THIS ALREADYYY!!!!!!!!!!!”
My heart almost jumped out of my mouth as Nemesis suddenly shouted.
What the hell was up with her?
“Stop this…? But what? To begin with, who are you talking to?”
“I. AM. SAYING. THIS. TO. YOU! Could you stop thinking of those made-up horror stories already!?”
Aahh, that’s right. All my thoughts were being transmitted to her.
“But this isn’t a made-up story, this is something Y-san told me that really happened to her.”
“Then that is even wooorseee!!! Why are you even recalling things in that kind of narrative tooneeee!!!?”
She was extremlely angry.
Did I do something bad to her?
But she got mad at me remembering a scary story, so, in other words…
“Are you… afraid of ghosts and stuff?”
Nemesis immediately got silent and turned her face away.
I was spot-on.
She talked in a peculiar tone, was a glutton, liked to look at others from above and was afraid of ghosts. Even though I had deepened my ties with this partner of mine, it seemed like I still hadn’t fully grasped Nemesis’ character.
“Then, if you’re scared, wouldn’t it be better if you transformed?”
She gripped my hand and immediately turned into her long sword form. I felt that, somehow, an air of relief was formed around her. As expected, changing forms also affected her strength of mind, I guess?
Anyway, I might have been saying this stuff, but while walking at night in a graveyard and holding a long sword in one hand, I looked incredibly suspicious. Well, this couldn’t be helped. I just needed to reach the entrance before getting accused of doing something wrong.
After a walk of about ten minutes, I was now before the entrance to the ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞. The graveyard block was quite big, you know? Well, since the labyrinth was completely underground, I believe that was to be expected. Also, since this was right in front of the dungeon, no one said anything to me even though I came carrying a weapon.
The ＜Gravestone Labyrinth’s＞ entrance was a strongly built gate made of stone. Incidentally, it seemed like monsters never escaped from the dungeon to the outside world.
On lookout by the gate’s side was a soldier. I was probably supposed to show him my 【Permit】; before coming here, I had properly registered my name on it. By doing that, the 【Permit】 could now be used to allow my entrance to the dungeon—and was bound for my personal use: because of that, it became impossible to sell the item now, but this wasn’t a problem.
“Are you a ＜Master＞ looking to explore the ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞? To do this here we require you to have a 【Gravestone Labyrinth Exploration Permit】.”
I searched my belongings with my left hand and, when I was about to retrieve the permit…
“Oh my? You are a 【Paladin-sama】, right? Then don’t worry, please come in.”
The guardsman said that and moved away from the entrance, without as much as glancing at the 【Permit】.
“….What about the 【Gravestone Labyrinth Exploration Permit】?”
“A 【Paladin-sama】 doesn’t require it.”
『We have just wasted… 100,000.』
I fell to my knees on the graveyard. The same knees didn’t bend even after I had experienced the penalty for dying… had now finally given up.
The shock was too much for me.
Really, this was simply too shocking for me. About thirty times more shocking than what had happened as I was playing a certain retro game, when the steel sword I had bought, after painstakingly saving money, appeared inside a treasure chest a moment later.
Converting it to Japan’s currency, it meant that I had just lost one million yen…
If only my bear brother had told me this… no, he probably didn’t know about it since he wasn’t a 【Paladin】.
“A-Are you okay?”
Looking at how I was, kneeling on the ground in shock, the soldier-san called out to me, worried.
『I understand that you are shocked, but even if you keep groveling here, nothing will change.』
I then stood up.
Pull yourself together! I was going to challenge this dungeon with the mindset of recovering my losses!
“So, it should be fine, if I just go in, right?”
“Y-Yes. Please take care.”
When the soldier-san recited some sort of incantation, the gate opened; the other side of that entranceway was pretty obscure—there was barely any light inside—but I could still see a stone staircase there that led underground.
A second later, we set foot towards the depths of the ＜Gravestone Labyrinth＞.
1↑金銭の有無は大きいのぅ – Not entirely sure.
2↑そうすると分かっんだたって。 – Honestly, I’ve never see the “分かっんだた” part before, so… was it a spelling mistake by the author? Or maybe a slang/contraction I’ve never heard before?
3↑やっぱり形態変わると心強さみたいなのが違うのだろうか。 – Would appreciate suggestions for this line since I’m not happy with it. Thanks IamMe.