“I said I was sorry. Cheer up already.”
“I’m not mad or anything! …I guess I’m a little mad that you didn’t tell me sooner.”
Tianna was still sulking after they conquered Blazing Bird Peak and returned to Fishermen. To shake off the heat and exhaustion that came with exploring Blazing Bird Peak, she created ice with magic and placed it in her mug; chugging down her drink. Nick was awkwardly trying to calm her, but to no avail.
“I told you… next time, we’re going to a labyrinth that’s more compatible with us and…”
“Yes, we’re going somewhere that’s more suitable for us, but that’s not it.”
Tianna was in a horrendous mood, but there was a certain sharpness in her eyes.
“What do you mean?”
“It’s important to choose labyrinths we’re strong enough to conquer and are compatible with us. I know that. But whether or not we can always do so is another question entirely.”
“Hn… That’s true.”
It was important to avoid labyrinths that seemed too difficult, but it was also important to be ready to be able to go down paths that were unavoidable. A steady source of income was important to make a living, but adventurers had to be adventurous. If they lost their ambition and became complacent, they might have found themselves unable to maintain their present condition and weakening. Tianna had not been an adventurer for long, but she instinctively understood this.
“But what do you want to do? That place had a lot of fire magic energy and flying monsters…”
“It’s not like there’s nothing I can do. Magic barriers become weaker the wider they are, so a small one would be stronger.”
“So you’re going to make a smaller barrier?”
Nick looked at Bond, who puffed out his chest and smiled.
“I knew you would come to me. It would have been a lot easier if you just relied on me back in the labyrinth as well.”
“You’re absolutely right, but we’re looking for a more objective comment.”
“When you say that with such a straight face, it is embarrassing you know…”
Bond cleared his throat as a way to try to disguise his blushing face.
“When you used Union, that barrier would not break. In fact, the moment the Great Blazing Bird entered it, it would be severely weakened.”
“That makes sense.”
“I know that, but if I can do that on my own… I could do more in that labyrinth, and even help the others.”
“…But can you do it?”
“It’s not impossible… Just very difficult. At any rate, first class sorcerers have to be able to overcome all kinds of topographical disadvantages. You could even say that magic was made to be relied on in those situations.”
“Sounds like you’re saying you’ll be fine if you improve your abilities.”
“Nick, you always make sure to prepare as much as possible to ensure we win, and I think that’s the right thing to do, but you never know when something unexpected might happen. I think it’s necessary to have a trump card that can completely flip over the board if we’re at a disadvantage.”
“Isn’t that exactly what Union is?”
“Well then, was the success of Union a sure thing the other day?”
“…If our timing wasn’t right, we would’ve died.”
Nick, or rather, everyone thought back to when they were attacked by White Mask. In the end, White Mask was completely defeated, but that was due to Olivia’s help.
If things had gone just a little bit awry, they could have all died there.
“…I think Tianna is right.”
Said Karan with a serious expression as she crossed her arms.
“It’d be one thing if we were just working normally… But I want to get stronger. I don’t want to just buy time when someone like White Mask comes along.”
“Yes, but you shouldn’t be too hasty. It’s not like you can just become stronger all of a sudden.”
“I don’t want to hear that from you, Nick.”
Nick had recently learned a new technique very quickly, Stepping. It also took very little time for him to be able to use it in actual combat.
This was exactly the meaning behind Karan’s stare.
“What do you think Sem?”
“I don’t think they’re wrong, but I agree that being too hasty isn’t good. How about setting a specific goal before starting training?”
“It’s always good to have a clear objective when trying to learn something or obtaining a new skill. After that, you should think about how you’re going to train and establish a concrete plan.
You were lucky that you just happened to come across someone that became your master, Nick. I think it’s good to find someone to guide you any time you want to learn something.”
Said Sem, and both Tianna and Karan looked troubled.
“Sorcerers reach a dead end when they do their own research, so it’s always difficult unless they become an apprentice somewhere.”
“And there aren’t that many dragon warriors…”
“I know there’s research institutes and schools for magic, but I don’t know any other dragon people… The only person I know that might be able to help with that… Is Olivia.”
“Yeah, she’s like a walking encyclopedia.”
Said Sem, and Nick nodded with a bitter smile.
“But she went away somewhere.”
Mumbled Nick, and everyone nodded. She did save them, but she still had more mysteries and secrets than one could count, so she was not someone Survivors could blindly trust.
“Still, we are relatively strong. I think we could even say we can become high ranking adventurers.
But I don’t think we should ignore whatever dangers may be coming. Even if we can safely conquer labyrinths, don’t forget your own weakness.”
Two people unexpectedly interjected.
The first voice was a husky voice of an elderly person, but unusually loud.
Everyone looked their way with surprised expressions.
“W-who are you?”
Nick turned around and saw a man and a woman. The man looked past his fifties, but not quite elderly yet. He had darkish skin and silver hair, and carried a staff and wore an old robe. His eyes looked sharp and his gaze was determined. He felt like he belonged somewhere higher than Fishermen.
The other person was a dragon woman. Her arms were covered in scales, but contrary to Karan, they gave off a charming, blue glow. Her long, slightly wavy hair was the same color, and it was tied with a knitted string. Her character could be felt strongly on her appearance and posture, although not as much as the man standing next to her.
Tianna and Karan mumbled, overcome with surprise.
Seven men and women with serious expressions sat at a table in Fishermen, Survivors and the other two people that just arrived.
Tianna seemed to know the man, and Karan, the woman. Both seemed not only strangely nervous, but also quiet.
Nick thought about telling them to go away, but figured it would make things awkward, and instead asked them to sit down.
“…It seems like you know two of our party members. Is there anything you need with us?”
Asked Nick with difficulty as he looked at the man, who responded with a light smile.
“Yes, but there is no need for formalities. I am also just an adventurer.”
He looked like an adventurer, but his generally refined attitude reminded Nick of a noble. Nick was at a loss about how to deal with a noble, but since he called himself an adventurer, Nick would treat him as such.
Tianna however, looked like she was in a state of panic. She flinched at every movement the man made, and was sweating.
“First of all, I must apologize for suddenly injecting myself to your conversation. Can I introduce myself?”
“My name is Bellocchio. I was a teacher in a magic academy in the capital, but circumstances dictated I had to resign. I am currently traveling to expand my horizons and learn more.”
When Nick heard him mention the magic academy, he realized what was going on.
He was Tianna’s teacher, although he figured they had a closer relationship of master and pupil.
Tianna was becoming increasingly agitated as Bellocchio continued speaking. He continued casually talking, perhaps purposefully pretending not to notice.
“As you can see, I have some knowledge about magic. Although I spent a lot of time away from the front-lines, teaching. And then…”
The man looked over at the dragon woman sitting next to him, who nodded slightly and spoke.
“My name is Suisen. I am…”
The women named Suisen looked at Karan with a stern expression, and Nick suddenly noticed that, much like Tianna, Karan looked incredibly awkward and uncomfortable.
All of the Survivors cried out in shock, except for Karan.