𝐂𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐃𝐞𝐚𝐝
After receiving treatment from Rin, I headed to the Adventurer’s Guild to hear the appraisal results for the magic items I brought back from the labyrinth. I sold off anything I didn’t need and went to the blacksmith to pick up my Onryomaru, which I had left for maintenance.
Then I returned to the inn where I have an extended stay, acting as my storage, to check the essential supplies I had stocked up on yesterday.
Lastly, I equipped the useful items I obtained from the latest labyrinth run and rigorously practiced my movements in that condition.
It’s my routine after returning from the labyrinth.
If I neglect this, I’ll die immediately, and there will be no growth.
It takes several days to finish all of these tasks. During that time, I sleep in a proper bed at the inn to recharge and heal fatigue.
After that, I dive back into the labyrinth.
In the end, the option to stay in town to see the Sword Saint was rejected.
My final conclusion is that if I have free time, I should use it for training.
I have no regrets.
Besides, I got my hands on some pretty useful items this time.
The truth is, I was eager to return to the labyrinth to make the most out of them.
So, I returned enthusiastically to the labyrinth near the town, the Cave of the Dead.
It’s my current training ground and, in a way, could also be called my home.
Once I enter, I usually don’t come out for a month.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I practically live there.
Well, I might soon say goodbye to this so-called home.
“Phew. . . . . .Alright, let’s go.”
I take a deep breath near the entrance, focus, and plunge in.
Even though it’s a familiar place, I must be vigilant; it’s as dangerous as a battlefield.
A moment’s carelessness can easily lead to death.
As soon as I enter the labyrinth, I open a scroll and pour magical energy into it through a simplified chant.
It’s a light source tool commonly used by adventurers.
It generates a ball of light that I can control freely.
It’s a bit pricey and expendable, so those who are broke or stingy use torches.
However, if I were to carry a torch, one hand would be occupied.
For a swordsman like me, that would be fatal.
In other words, this is an expense that I must never skimp on.
That said, I also undergo training to fight with my field of vision obstructed, so as not to rely too much on this.
During battle, if the effect suddenly wears off, it would be no joke.
Walking through the labyrinth relying on the light source, I could hear voices of other adventurers and the sounds of monsters being defeated coming from various directions.
The Cave of the Dead is more on the unpopular side when it comes to labyrinths, but adventurers still gather here.
That’s because there’s a reason adventurers flock to labyrinths in the first place.
There are two main reasons for this.
Firstly, it seems that labyrinths emit some kind of special magical power, which attracts wild monsters.
I’ve heard rumors that the magical power in the labyrinth is similar to the magic power that fills the Demon Realm, which is the homeland of monsters, and that’s why they come here for a comfortable stay. But I don’t know if that’s true, and I’m not interested in finding out.
In any case, what’s important is that monsters are attracted to it.
Monsters are dangerous creatures that attack people, so the guild pays a reward for killing them, and their materials can be sold for a good price.
For instance, the Lonely Wolf I killed on my way back after buying Onryomaru had fangs, claws, and fur that were in demand; selling the entire creature would fetch about three gold coins.
This is the price after numerous markdowns but still enough to buy three Onryomarus.
My monthly living cost is about ten gold coins, so it’s not a small amount.
Given that these gold mines called monsters keep flocking to the labyrinth, there’s no way adventurers would stay away.
And the second reason is. . . . . .
Oops, looks like I don’t have time to ponder on that.
A monster charges at me, howling as it comes closer.
Lit up by the lantern’s glow, the enemy’s appearance becomes clear: it’s a Night Wolf, about 1.5 meters long and covered in jet-black fur.
It’s a monster resembling a Lonely Wolf but slightly smaller and entirely nocturnal.
In terms of pure combat strength, Lonely Wolves are superior, but this creature is far more troublesome due to its ability to blend into the dark with its black fur and high sneaking capabilities.
However, this level of monster is no match for me now.
I had already unsheathed my Onryomaru since entering the labyrinth. Just like I did with the previous Lonely Wolf, I parried the Night Wolf’s attack with Flowing Blade and decapitated it.
I could’ve cut it down without using Flowing Blade, but using the technique is less tiring and helps with training.
A skill is meant to be used.
However, there are obviously times when it’s better not to use it.
“I’ve caught on to you.”
I quickly draw my blade against the three Night Wolves that were sneaking up on me, using the first one as bait.
Without using Flowing Blade, I intentionally make an off-kilter slash, severing the eyes of all three with a single stroke, robbing them of their vision.
Night Wolves are pack hunters.
If you let your guard down after taking down just one, the others will kill you in the blink of an eye.
I heard that many beginners die this way at the guild.
I stab my blade into the three blinded Night Wolves, finishing them off.
Normally, I would only collect their easy-to-harvest fangs and claws in a sack, but this time I use a handy item I obtained.
I take off my waist pouch and shove a Night Wolf’s leg into it.
Miraculously, the oversized corpse of the Night Wolf smoothly slides into the waist pouch.
This is the 『Magic Bag』, a convenient item I acquired on my previous labyrinth expedition.
In labyrinths, you can occasionally acquire items with mysterious effects, commonly known as 『Magic Items』.
These Magic Items are distinct from man-made magical tools and obtaining them is one of the reasons adventurers venture into labyrinths.
As for how they come into existence, it’s said they are items left in the labyrinth for a long time and affected by its unique magical energy.
However, you can’t know what kind of effect an item has unless you’re an expert appraiser, and there’s always a chance of getting a dud like a bag that spouts flames or clothing that soaks you.
That’s why genuinely useful items like this Magic Bag sell for a high price.
Even useless items seem to have some demand among researchers, so they can be sold for a decent amount.
Thanks to this income, I could afford to jump the queue for Lin’s treatment.
By the way, the deeper layers of the labyrinth have denser magical energy, so Magic Items are more likely to be generated there, and they tend to be of higher quality.
This Magic Bag was acquired from the skeletal remains of an adventurer who had exhausted all his strength just before reaching the deepest part.
For the record, I did give the skeleton a proper memorial service.
Though whether that could be considered a memorial service is a bit questionable. . . . . .
Anyway, thanks to acquiring this Magic Bag, I can now carry far more food and Recovery Potions than before, and do so efficiently. It has made my life in the labyrinth much more enjoyable and sustainable for longer periods.
Additionally, it allows me to easily collect the corpses of monsters, which is another source of income.
It truly lives up to its reputation, being one of the main objectives of my journey.
Its performance is exceptional.
I originally came to this labyrinth to collect a different item, but finding this here is a pleasant surprise.
“Well then, time to go get what I originally came for.”
Muttering that, I venture deeper into the labyrinth.
This part is the very reason why this labyrinth is unpopular.
In the upper layers, you can make a decent living just by hunting low-level monsters like Night Wolves that have recently entered.
However, the deeper layers are different.
They’re filled with either exceptionally strong foes or worthless monsters that offer no rewards when killed.
It’s basically a hellhole that almost no one willingly goes into.
That’s the Cave of the Dead’s deepest layer.
Which suits me just fine.
“. . . . . . . . . . . .!”
“. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . !”
“. . . . . . . . . . . .!”
“””. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .!”””
“So, a welcoming committee right off the bat.”
The ones greeting me in this hell are a silent horde of eerie monsters.
Wolves, bears, tigers, horses, bats, and more.
A motley crew of various kinds of monsters.
What they all have in common is their dark coloring and the fact that none of them are alive.
Zombie monsters, in other words.
Unlike living beings, they don’t die even if you crush their brains or decapitate them. They keep rampaging until their bodies stop moving. Even then, their corpses turn to dust and leave nothing behind.
These monsters are so unprofitable they’re referred to as 『Walking Detriments』.
That’s what zombies are.
Apparently, the local lords regularly request large-scale clean-ups, knowing they’ll operate at a loss. But since almost no one volunteers, their numbers have swelled.
Because of this, the labyrinth has only increased in difficulty without offering comparable rewards, making it unpopular.
For me, though, this is perfect.
I can monopolize the training ground, and the likelihood of someone else snatching the item I’m after in the deepest layer is low. It’s practically a wish come true.
It’s not that you can’t make money; it’s just not proportional to the effort.
“All right, I’m back, you dead freaks. Let’s go all out killing each other today.”
“””. . . . . . . . . . . .!”””
And so, I charge into the depths of the labyrinth teeming with zombies.
Today, once again, I fight for the sake of my own growth.