Metro Labyrinth Chapter 55: Ouji Metro, 25th Underground Floor

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 Next morning.


 I wake up to the howling of wolves, or rather, as I declared.



“Awwwwwooooooooooo!” (Giran)


“You wolf bastard! Shut your trap!” (Aoi)


“Some of us are still sleeping!” (Midori)



 The twins began yelling. Their screams are just as loud as that howl.



“I’m sorry, but I’m just an instinctual thing for the pathetic demihuman member of the canine family, and I hope you’ll tolerate me. So I’m sorry, just a little more… Awooo!” (Giran)


“Aaah!” (Aoi)


“Shut up!” (Midori)



 I don’t want this to be my start of the day today. In other words, I force myself to sleep again. “That dam wolf, squeak! It’s war, squeak! Squeak!” Tamiko jumped out of bed, but I told her, “It’s okay, you can still sleep,” and patted her on the stomach. Sigh.



“…Noa, can I sleep some more…?” (Shuu)



 Noa is about to sit up. She chuckles and wraps herself in a cloak.



“…Yes. Good night, Mr. Shuu.” (Noa)



 Looking at her face with her eyes closed next to me, something wells up in my chest. My whole body becomes hot.


 At the same time, crap! I thought of that damn werewolf.


 I’ll never let you see Noa, Tamiko, any of these girls’ smiling or sleeping faces.





 After waking up from a happy nap, I finished preparing everything and left the camp. The twins are preparing breakfast in front of the tent near the entrance.



“The others seem to be up already.” (Aoi)


“We might see each other again if you head downstairs.” (Midori)


“Be careful.” (Aoi)


“It’s going to get dangerous from here on out.” (Midori)



 True to the twins’ advice, the level of Metro Beasts that appear from the twenty-first floor has jumped.



 The Golems are over level 30, and the other Metro Beasts are around 25. We are now in the territory where it is too risky to let Noa and Tamiko fight alone. So basically, I’m going to deal with them head-on and let the two of them provide support.



“But… Precious metals and jewelry don’t appear at all…” (Shuu)



 The only things you can pick up or find inside the golem are the common to rare Ore Fungus of iron, copper, lead, and so on, which we’ve hunted many times past the tenth floor.



“I guess that’s why they are worth that much money.” (Noa)


“Well, of course. Let’s go a little further down as planned. Hopefully we’ll find a good hiding place.” (Shuu)


“I found one, squeak! Nin Nin!” (Tamiko)


“The Kunoichi Squirrel is quite reliable.” (Shuu)



 The map becomes less and less accurate as we move deeper and deeper. Perhaps the shifting of the Metro is a factor, maybe it is simply because the further you go, the fewer people reach it and the higher the risk of sending in personnel who can survey the area. Still, there is no error in the main passages between the stairs, so it is not particularly troubling.



 According to Noa’s pocket watch, we departed at 9:00 AM. After a quick lunch break, we reached the twenty-fifth floor at 3:00 p.m.



“Squeak yeah! I level up!” (Tamiko)



 As soon as we arrived, we had a brawl with a group of Land Sahuagin (human-sized bipedal Wooper Looper). After narrowly beating them off, Tamiko reaches level 41. Another step up to the heights of being a squirrel.



 Noa, at this pace, would soon be up another level. As for me, I am very happy to see the improvement of my companions, but at the same time, I am envious of them.



(It’s been a month since the boss slime fight…) (Shuu)



 I’ve been away from the physical pounding for a while now. I miss that slightly unpleasant feeling that comes out of nowhere.


 I’m the type of person who doesn’t mind grinding in games. Although I was not able to enjoy the life experience in Outsuka Metro, it was impossible not to be happy to see my blood-soaked efforts literally appear in the form of tangible results. How could I not be happy?



 I learned this in an economics class. Japan crawled up from the bottom after the war, achieved rapid economic growth, and became one of the world’s leading economic powers. Although the subsequent Heisei Era should have been better off in terms of material resources, the level of happiness among the people was much higher in the mid- to late-Showa Era. People are creatures that find happiness in being able to look forward.


 I want to go to near the deepest level and level up while collecting materials. That would be a good opportunity for me.



 Incidentally, the reason why I was becoming even more impatient was that I was more frustrated than I thought knowing the werewolf has a higher level than me, but I am not admitting anything.





 We wandered around the 25th floor, looking for small holes where we could hide ourselves. Soon after, we found a small room with empty bottles and blankets. Someone must have been sleeping here. By the doorway, barely wide enough for one adult to pass through, there was a wooden board like a cover on it.



“It looks like a place where you might run into other people.” (Shuu)


“That’s right.” (Noa)


“What do you want to do? Do you want to find another place?” (Shuu)


“Well… it’s okay as long as they don’t have trouble sharing a table, right?” (Noa)



 I think it would go well with the members who had BBQ at the campsite. Of course, we still have to be careful.



 There is more than one route from stairway to stairway. The map does not show the curves and steepness of the road, or how often Metro Beasts appear.



 Even if it looks like the shortest route on the route, it is likely that there will often be a shorter path. This is probably the reason why we did not run into the twins, the uncles’ group, or any other “group that has business” further down the road.



 After some random hunting, it was nighttime and we eventually returned to our first candidate. There were no prior customers, so we unloaded our bags and put a lid on the doorway. Noa sets up a clapper there. If anything comes in from the outside, it will make noise to let us know.



“Oh, are both of you tired?” (Noa)


“Not really.” (Shuu)


“Not squeaky.” (Tamiko)



 Checking out our loot so far. Almiraj horns, Hermit Crab shell fragments, horns and outer horns of a Demon Beetle, the skin of a strong Green Goblin that seems to be a Mature individual, etc. After that, there are a few souvenirs from the mushroom lottery.



 Estimated at just over 100,000 yen. The numbers alone don’t seem so bad, but compared to the risk level, it’s not that good.



“Looking at it this way, unless we find rare Ore Fungus, Ouji may not be a very good hunting ground. Well, if it were that lucrative, there would be a lot more people here.” (Shuu)


“Life is never easy.” (Noa)


“There’s me that makes life squeaksy” (Tamiko)


“Yes, we do.” (Shuu)



 Tamiko moved up one level to 41, while Noa and I remained the same at 25 and 68.



“If possible, I’d like to raise my level by one level too… I understand well why there are so many hunters in pairs. It’s because Metro Beasts have two sporangia, right?” (Shuu)


“Well… I think that’s the most common reason.” (Noa)



 The sporangium is a mass of experience, so to speak. Eating two sporangia is a shorter way to improve than eating one. In that sense, a species like Tamiko, which has a low stomach tolerance, is at a disadvantage. Well, I can’t complain about the interspecies gap because it exists in any living creature.



“But there are many places where we usually work with three or four people. If you train solo, you may be able to rise quickly, but if you have an accident, that’s the end of it.” (Shuu)



 If there are more than 3 people, it becomes difficult to distribute the sporangium. But the more people you have, the more beasts you can hunt, and you can have a margin of safety. The point is that it depends on the way you think and the composition of the members.



“As I said yesterday…At this point in time, I’m going to do my best, and I’m going to beat the beasts around there. Both me and Sis are bad against Golems, and if we go further, there will be a lot of stronger Metro Beasts. When it comes to combat, we’re completely dependent on Mr. Shuu.” (Noa)


“Yes.” (Shuu)


“That’s why I want to remind you. If Mr. Shuu feels like he is in trouble, we will immediately withdraw. Please do not overdo it.” (Noa)


“I know. I promise to not get carried away.” (Shuu)





 The next day.



“Get f*cked!” (Shuu)



 The first one died from a [War Hammer] covered with a [Light Blade] smashes through the golem’s chest.



“That’s it!” (Shuu)



 The second one died from a [Katana] clad in [Light Blade], it passed through the golem’s shoulder to its waist.



“Come on!” (Shuu)



 The third one, using [Iron Fist] clad in [Light Blade], I struck the golem over and over.



“It’s here! Isn’t this gold!? Even if it isn’t, it still looks like gold! Pigy—!” (Noa)


“Still, my condolences antique doll, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“I feel like I’m getting burned out.” (Shuu)



 I carved the abdomen and found a shiny Ore Fungus the size of a Nameko mushroom. The color is definitely golden. The Golem lottery, at the third one today, we finally got a hit.



“It certainly looks like gold… but it’s so tiny…” (Noa)


“It doesn’t matter how small it is! The important thing is that we hit the jackpot!” (Shuu)



 I dug up the real thing. It was proven that the lottery was not a scam. All we have to do now is to get more of them.



“By the way, there is a mineral called pyrite. It’s called ‘fool’s gold,’ another metal that looks a lot like gold…” (Noa)


“Stop it! Don’t say nasty things!” (Shuu)


“Well, we’ll get it appraised when we return to the surface… but according to Sis, the golem here is around 35, isn’t it? It seems that the physical correction is about +10. I’m not sure if it’s too late for that, but I’m impressed with Mr. Shuu’s skill.” (Noa)


“My Pugawan, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“You mean Padawan.” (Shuu)



 For now, even a golem on the 25th floor won’t be a problem. Their power alone is hard to underestimate, but overall it still falls short of Ogres and Orthruses.



 Their movements are slow and their intelligence is just as low. As long as you find the vital spot, it can be killed with a single blow. Although humanoid, they sometimes ignore the concept of joints, but once you get used to it, it’s not a big deal.



“At this rate, it shouldn’t be a problem to go down a little more. Let’s try a little more tomorrow.” (Shuu)



 The next day.


 The level of Noa increased when we defeated the second prey.


 When the fourth one is defeated, Noa learns a new Fungal Skill.



“My bad… Ehehe…” (Noa)



 Noa, who is embarrassed, still looks quite happy. Now, level 26, and her Fungal Skills became 4.



“I’m in my third year as a hunter, but since I met you two, I felt as if I had never gown like this before… Abeshuu’s leftovers are dangerous… It’s a forbidden taste…” (Noa)


“We are the Leftover Sisters, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“I am honored to be of service, but don’t get too proud of that.” (Shuu)



 Then we got one large gold and one silver Ore Fungus, and a few translucent Ore Fungus that looked like jewels. Noa sees them as “ordinary gems, not parasites,” but I have a feeling we’re getting a little closer to what we’re looking for.



 However—it is still frustrating that I am lagging behind the two of them in leveling up. Moreover, Noa’s new Fungal Skill seems to be easy to use, and I envy her even more.



“Yah! I got a good ability! I love the Fungal Skills lottery!” (Noa)



 Noa jumps for joy. I smile and stare at her as he dances.



 Noa’s fourth Fungal Skill, [Sticky Thread], has the ability to produce sticky hyphae.



 Like the red and blue wearing spider-like man, it can also be shot out in a radial pattern, but the range seems to be short, only about three to five meters. Even so, it can be used to directly block an opponent’s movement or as a trap, and is considered to be a very useful Fungal Skill. It seems to be one of the best among the [Craftsman] skills.



 We tried [Sticky Thread] on the Metro Beasts on this floor. Unfortunately, the golem ripped it off in less than five seconds (there may a level difference factor), but it turned out to be quite effective against other small and medium-sized beasts.



“With something like this, it seems like it will be of great help against small fries! That’s great!” (Noa)


“Now I can focus myself on fighting golems.” (Shuu)



 If they can get two or three good hits, she can almost neutralize the opponent. After trying it out several times in actual combat, Noa quickly developed a “feel for shooting” and she improved her coordination with Tamiko.


 However, Noa does not seem to have the stamina to use her own Fungal Skill, and her movements slow down noticeably when she fires a series of shots. This is the only thing to watch out for.



“I think we should call it for today.” (Shuu)



 We decided to call it a day and get ourselves ready for the next day. Finally, it was time to go to the deepest level.




 Though a raider came that night.




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