Chapter 107. Those That Climb the Dungeon (6)
As we strolled through the Residential Area, Loretta received countless gazes from others. Of course, I knew why. At first glance, they would be surprised at Loretta's appearance; at their second glance, they would be awed by her otherworldly beauty; and at their third glance, she would look even prettier than when they looked at her the first time. That is, as long as she didn't open her mouth. Loretta ruined her goddess-like appearance by talking like an idiot. Though, that was her charm as well.
"Was there an elf like that in the First Dungeon?"
"I thought the most beautiful explorer was the Luka continent's crown princess."
"No, on the higher floors, there's another famous beauty. From that... ruined continent."
"But it's been dozens of years since she made an appearance."
"Hey, that elf isn't an explorer."
"I know who she is. She's the master of one of the administrative guilds. She was so pretty that I remembered it."
"I didn't think she was dating a rookie..."
"I'm jealous, damn it."
There were some that realized who Loretta was from her appearance. Most of them looked strong. With a bitter smile, Loretta explained to me.
"There are times when I have to make my appearance as the guild master."
"So you actually do your guild master work. Ow!"
Loretta got angry and smacked my arm.
"I'm a proper guild master! Though it's Lin's job now."
"Lin said he was a substitute, though."
"Well, that's how everyone becomes the master. Huhu, Lin is actually very suited to be a leader. Lin's special ability was the only reason why a human like himself could enter Fairy Garden."
"Lin isn't a human, but a draconian...Well, it's fine. By the way, Loretta, what are you going to do if you stop being a guild master?"
"You see, my dream was always to become a housewife! So I'll become employed to Shin-nim."
"I'd like my partner to be able."
"S-Should I... continue being a guild master...?"
"Loretta should do what Loretta wants, but I want to marry a woman who actively improves her life."
"W-W-Work... I have to work... Kuk, but I want to play...!"
The way Loretta's ears trembled like she was in deep agony was too cute. However, while I was preoccupied with making fun of Loretta, I accidentally bumped my shoulder into someone. Although my shoulder hurt, I apologized since I was the one at fault for not watching where I was going.
"Sorry, are you okay?"
"Of course. I'm more surprised that you're okay after bumping into me. I haven't seen you before, so you must be a newbie."
It was the low, silvery voice of a woman. I raised my head. In front of me was a young beauty my height, with most of her figure hidden by a black armor. She was looking at me with eyes of interest.
Inside her beautiful amber eyes, a pair of unusually sharp and long, vertical pupils left a deep impression on me. They were not the eyes of a human, but those of a beast. As if to wipe away any hint of doubt, two triangular ears were on her head.
"Oh, so you know. Right, I'm a beastman."
"Leb, let's go! Saure already ordered our drinks."
"Shin-nim, you're walking with me, but you're looking at other women?"
Someone who seemed to be her companion called her while Loretta pulled me with her arms linked to mine. The woman replied to her companion that she'd be there in a moment.
"You even have an elf girlfriend? You're doing pretty well, rookie. Let's hear your name, I'll remember it."
"I'm Kang Shin, an explorer from Earth."
"I'm Lebuik from the guild, 'Demonic Girls'. Good luck climbing to the higher floors. I'll take you out for a drink the next time we meet."
With that, she waved her hand and turned away. The clunking of her fancy, black armor proved that she was a skilled explorer from a higher floor than mine. Plus, on her back, there was a stupidly large and thick, black claymore, which even I might have trouble carrying.
Looking at it, I was sure. It wasn't the time to be shocked about her being a woman.
"So you weren't dead."
"... Who said I was dead? Bring me the guy who had the audacity to say that."
Right, he must have had the possibility in mind when he asked me. It might have even gone past the point of being a possibility, and he might have even been sure. After all, he wasn't a complete idiot. If I told him, what would he...
I spoke, "There's an explorer who got famous on the 35th floor. They call him the Golden Lion."
"Golden Lion? What's that? Tsk, can anyone be called Golden Lion these days? There's only one true Golden Lion, the Panan continent's... Huu, never mind. Rookie, what is it that you want to say?"
"The Golden Lion you're talking about is rushing through the First Dungeon with his own strength."
"... Ren-nim is?"
I was surprised that she addressed him as Ren-nim. While I was imagining what status Ren had, the woman jumped at me. No, she jumped at me but was instantly pushed away. I saw Loretta stepping forward angrily.
"Do you want to get beaten, customer? Do you? You can't touch other customers that don't belong to you. Understand? Do you want to know what Last Bullet tastes like? Do you want to try it?"
"Kuhuk... What kind of an elf...!"
Lebuik got up, holding her stomach in pain. There was a crack in her armor. Seeing her ears folded down, she looked especially pitiful.
"You, who are you?"
"I'm the Floor Shop's Loretta. Regardless, if you want to ask Shin-nim a question, can you do it without making contact with him?"
"Floor Shop? The administrative guild...! Ku, that hurt."
Seeing this strong explorer in pain didn't feel like someone else's problem, so I asked her with worrying eyes.
"Are you okay?"
"Ah, yeah, I'm fine. Anyways, if you know about Ren-nim, can you tell me more about him? I assume Ren-nim is still noble and beautiful."
I had just heard two words that didn't fit Ren the most.
In the end, I ended up staying with Lebuik, who was about to head to the bar, a bit longer. Lebuik had two companions, one was a human woman who had called out to her, Zevina (shield warrior). The other was a dwarf woman who had already ordered drinks at the bar, Saure (axe warrior). I wondered if all of her guild members were warriors, but I was told that one of the five members was a priestess. The remaining guild member was a claw warrior. With everyone's classes being so macho, I was surprised that everyone was female.
"So, w-what about Ren-nim...?"
The moment I received a glass, Lebuik asked me impatiently. Her cheeks were bright red. As she didn't drink anything yet, she was undoubtedly flushed. Feeling a murderous intent toward Ren boiling inside me, I replied,
"I first met him on the 20th floor. He couldn't control his temper then and almost died."
"Huhu, he does have that cute side to him."
"... After that, he stayed with me for a while and fixed his bad habits. In the end, he succeeded in defeating the Lizard Knight alone."
"A-Alone? The Lizard Knight? Kuk, I should have seen it... Ah, he must have looked so cool."
"After that, he continued to climb the dungeon alone and succeeded in defeating all the Floor Masters alone. In the process, he gained some fame from helping other explorers defeat the Floor Masters. He should still be on the 35th floor to get strengthening elixirs from the Floor Master."
"Strengthening elixirs? The thing that only drops occasionally? Wow, I can't believe he's grown so much... He must look incredibly handsome now... Like a real man..."
Lebuik's cat-ears twisted and revealed her confused emotion. Meanwhile, Loretta was confirming information about Ren through my whispers.
"Shin-nim, the Ren you're talking about is that messy-haired customer, who makes people even looking at him feel hot, right? Are you sure that customer isn't talking about someone else?"
"Loretta, to be honest, I was confused about the same thing."
"I'm surprised. I didn't think this man named Ren was real. Leb always talks about him when she's drunk."
"Exactly. Once she starts talking about Ren, she won't talk about anyone else for the day, so today's already over."
In front of me was the cute dwarf girl Saure. No matter how I looked at her, she looked like an elementary school kid. Seeing her holding a beer mug and hitting it against Zevina, I felt overwhelmed, but I managed to pass it off as I had already gotten used to dwarves from Fairy Garden's Lotang. Meanwhile, Lebuik's madness was still continuing.
"He was cute ever since he was little... When I was sparring with him with wooden swords, he fell down and scraped his knees. He then ran to me with teary eyes... haak, haak."
I felt disgusted. Both by Ren's crying face that I imagined and by that woman who was letting out weird breathing noises as she imagined the same crying face.
"W-When I licked his wound, he tried to smile bravely with tears still in his eyes, saying 'I'm fine now, Sir Lebuik!' ... haa, haa."
"Leb, you have a nosebleed."
After enjoying herself for a while, thinking about Ren's younger self, Lebuik's ears and tail suddenly drooped in sadness.
"But, I... leaving Ren-nim by himself in Panan continent... Uk, uuk..."
"How much did that person drink?"
"One glass. Just one glass of beer."
"I, I... should have been with him. I, I shouldn't have thrown it away... but still, I wanted to live..."
"Ren thinks you're dead."
"That's a lie. The knights that were with me on the battlefield must have lied... After all, I ran away right in front of them. In front of everyone's eyes, I opened the door to the dungeon, to survive by myself... Leaving behind the honor and pride of beastmen..."
The light atmosphere had suddenly turned sour. Saure and Zevina, who were clashing their glasses in a good mood, suddenly looked grim. I suspected that they had similar experiences. As explorers of the First Dungeon, they must have abandoned the country and world they were from, into the dungeon.
I opened my mouth to say something, but I realized I only had unqualified criticisms to say. I stayed silent. That would only be the grumbling of an immature child, who had never experienced the unfairness of cruel reality. In this safe space, they would be vulnerable to my words lacking self-awareness.
As such, I said the best thing I could say in this situation.
"Ren wanted to see you. He was looking for you... If you're alive, he will be happy with just that."
"B-But... I don't have the qualification to see him. In the hopeless Panan continent, he is the only remaining explorer. He has a truly great and noble soul. Just by meeting him, his soul will be hurt. I'm scared. The fact that I can still affect him... No, I can't meet him... I don't have the qualification to stand next to him, much less talk to him. I'll just think about him alone, like this... hic."
"She started crying."
"There's no choice now. Stop bothering Leb now. We... want it to stop too. Sorry, even though we're the ones who invited you."
Zevina and Saure felt uncomfortable with us as well. I exchanged bitter smiles with Loretta and got up. I didn't think our conversation would end in the worst way possible. If Ren came to the Residential Area and heard about Lebuik or even met her...
"... Don't call me that. I'm no longer a knight."
"If Ren will change just because of meeting you, he wouldn't have survived on his own until now. So don't worry and try meeting him... Your wound will have to be ripped open one day."
That is, before it festers and becomes bigger from being left alone. She seemed to have understood my meaning as her ears twitched slightly. She then murmured in a barely audible voice.
"... Can I add you to my friend list?"
Just like that, I met with Ren's master, Lebuik, and parted. Although Lebuik had abandoned her world, she was still climbing the dungeon as an explorer. Just what was it that she was hoping for in the end? Perhaps... as long as she had the desire to continue challenging, as long as her world didn't collapse completely, would she still have the chance to go back?
Although Lebuik was worried that she'd change Ren, my thoughts were different.
Ren was a warrior, one that walked forward without ever looking back. If it's him, he might rekindle the fire in that runaway knight's heart. If it's him, he might change her.
Hoping and worrying for that to be the case, I surprisingly realized that I was thinking a lot about Ren.
For the record, I couldn't buy any charge type skills from the auction house. Damn, nothing in this world was easy!
With the First Dungeon's important explorers appearing, this chapter has come to an end. I wanted to show you what kind of explorers they were more vividly, but my lack of ability might have somewhat made it hazy. What did you think, everyone? ^^
While translating this chapter, I realized I originally translated "charge type skills" as "rush type skills" (for the Rage Rush Boots) for the reason that 'charge' sounded like 'charging' (as in, storing energy over time).
Since I did "charge type" when I translated the Crimson Dragon Scale Armor (oops), I decided to just stick with it (I'll fix the earlier chapters when I complete the series). Just remember that "charge type" is like "rush type", as in "to rush forward in attack."