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During the night, the labyrinth changes. So, sometimes we have to wake up in a hurry to avoid being crushed by a moving wall.
That, coupled with having to wake up in a hurry because of monster attacks, has been taking its toll on the morale of the group.
As I am thinking about this, I hear some murmuring behind me.
They are talking quietly, but the acoustics of the corridors allow me to hear the conversation perfectly, even if I can't make out who each voice belongs.
"He must be filthy rich by the way his equipment self-repairs. Also, I haven't seen him sharpen his sword once since we walked in."
"Hmt, with what that sword he carries is worth, you can surely buy several houses."
"And his armor too… It looks like it hasn't even had a day's use, even though we've been here for quite a while."
"His daddy must love him very much to have bought such items for his rich little son with dreams of being an adventurer."
"It must be nice to have your life all figured out, don't you think, Rad? It would be a shame if something were to happen to this rich pig during his adventurous journey. What would happen with all those things he carries..."
"Shh, speak quieter. He's close to us."
With that, the whispering stopped, but I heard the important part…
I have to be on my toes with these fuckers. This smells like treachery to me.
In the formation, Octavo and Roran are in front, while Dedan is next to me. So those two could only be Rufus and Radovid.
I think I'm going to pretend to be tired from now on when fighting against groups of enemies…
Maybe then my 'companions' will be emboldened and show their true colors.
Or maybe it's just my imagination, and they're just being the same assholes they've always been.
In any case, I lose nothing by being cautious.
Dedan, who is walking beside me, also seems to have heard everything.
Because, with the expression he always puts on when he wants to challenge me to do something, he says "boy, how about a race to the end of the hall? Whoever loses has to give half of his food to the winner for a day."
It's always like this... 'Boy this, boy that'…
The only one in the group who calls me by name is Octavo.
"Hmm, good. I hope you don't regret it later," I reply, thinking that, even if I lose, I can always eat some of what I have stored in my inventory to make up for the decreased ration Octavo gives us.
In the end, I lost the race...
But it can't be said that Dedan was very happy to have won either.
Since, when he reached the end of the corridor, he had to run back in a hurry while being chased by the characteristic hissing that wraiths emit before their attacks.
The group's attitude is getting worse and worse due to the constant stress.
Even Octavo's calm and conciliatory attitude is beginning to show signs of exhaustion.
His responses are becoming curter and curter. And sometimes he simply responds with grunts and head shakes to the questions asked to him.
Today, finally after 2 days of wandering, we managed to find a safe room and are camping in it.
Probably more than one of the members of the group is thinking about the possibility of getting out of the labyrinth for a few days to rest.
Within seconds of thinking this, Dedan confirms my suspicions.
"Agh, I'm tired of being in the labyrinth at night. Couldn't we leave and come back in the morning, boss? I want to be able to sleep on a bed," says Dedan, looking dismissively at his sleeping bag. "Besides, we haven't found anything unusual so far. Don't you think you should start thinking about terminating the mission?"
"Maybe..." says Octavo hesitantly, "But I'm sure there's something strange we've missed. There has to be..."
"I agree with Dedan. The floating eyes don't bother me that much, but I'm sick of the prickly slugs and octopus men," says Radovid with a grunt. "they wouldn't be so annoying if we could at least get a good night's sleep. But fighting while we are poorly asleep doesn't seem like the best plan of action to me."
"Yes, I would love to be able to sleep without worrying that I could be attacked at any moment. Eventually, someone will end up making a mistake by not being well-rested," adds Rufus.
"I know you will pay us for every day we spend here, so we have nothing to really complain about. But I think my companions are right. Also, there is the maintenance of our equipment to consider. Dedan's sword requires the upkeep of a blacksmith and our armor another bit of the same," says Roran.
"What do you think, Xel?" Octavo asks me, heartbroken at the thought of ending the mission without having found anything.
"I think we should keep going as long as we have food," I say and Octavo's face brightens up a bit at having someone to support him. "But we also have to consider the mental health of the group. Personally, I don't have a problem, but I understand what they're saying and..."
"Hmt, fine!" he says with a grunt interrupting me when he sees that I'm going to speak in favor of their argument "If we don't find anything by the end of this week we'll leave the labyrinth and call the mission over."
A few moments later, a little more encouraged by the prospect of getting back outside, we went to sleep.
Making the most of the first night of full non-threatening sleep to the maximum extent possible.
Near the end of the first day, after leaving the safe room, we found the door leading to the boss' floor.
Apparently, this is a kind of weird event. Because, upon seeing the blue light threshold that works to access the boss's floor, Octavo approaches as if obnubilated.
"What? How is that possible?" he says, feeling the bright blue inscriptions around the threshold "I have to report this" and although he mumbles to himself, we can hear perfectly well thanks to the acoustics of the stone corridors 'this could change everything. We need to organize a team with all the four races.'
"They've never found it before?" I ask quizzically as to why he's so disturbed about finding the boss room.
I mean, I know it's not that easy to find it, but it's not impossible either, right? If it were like that, it would be impossible to climb the labyrinth.
"Huh?" he asks distractedly in response to my question, but then reacts by answering hastily "Ahh… Yes, but it was always disabled. Besides, it is difficult to form capable groups for these floors. In the past, we tried many times to find the activated room without success.... what has changed now?... Anyway, it is fortunate that we know the location of a nearby safe room. I have to get back to the capital as soon as possible."
"We'll get extra payment for this, right?... boss," asks Radovid.
"What do you mean?" asks Octavo quizzically.
"Well... You were looking for people to explore the labyrinth, but you never said anything about investigating before going in. And now we come across this... It would be a shame for this information to get out before you can tell the church. I know certain people who would pay very well for this information," says Rufus with a smile.
"Our discovery has nothing to do with the previous deal. I see what you mean... You'll get paid extra for keeping this as a secret," says Octavo with a nonchalant tone, as if money doesn't matter to him at all. This is probably true since he has the support of the church.
"Thanks a lot, boss," said the four of them in unison, while grinning from ear to ear.
We begin to make our way back, with some impatience but also joy, to the safe room that will be our exit from the labyrinth.
While we are not fighting, Radovid, Rufus, Dedan, and Roran chat happily with each other.
They are a little apart from Octavo and me.
So, the leader and I went to the front of the group.
But when we have to fight, they quickly position themselves in their corresponding places. So, it's not really a nuisance that they stand apart.
It's more of a plus because I don't have to talk to them and put up with them treating me like 'boy, kiddo, or puppy'.
I guess they are talking about what they will do with the money when they get out.
Before long, I won't have to see them anymore and I can be promoted to vanguard…
Glad at that thought, when we see a lone Beholder, I decide to confront it alone with Azur and we start to run to the monster. So as not to interrupt my companions' chatter.
After all, I can easily deal with a monster that is alone.
I have already done it countless times during these weeks.
But, when I am already preparing to attack with my two weapons in hand, I hear Octavo's voice behind me shouting 'watch out, Xelean, behind you!'