Survivors had just finished exploring a labyrinth called Ice Den Of The Rakshasa.
It was a dungeon for adventurers between D and F rank, and Survivors had been hunting there lately.
As the name implied, the cave was cold even during the summer.
It had as many monsters as the Goblin Forest, but they were acclimatized to the cold and never left the cave. Because of this, it was seen as a low priority target compared to the Goblin Forest.
The monsters that appeared in the cave were mainly ice hobgoblins and ice wolves.
Ice hobgoblins were a sub-species of hobgoblin. They looked like goblins with horns, were faster and stronger, and had no problem living in this cold environment. They didn’t have any other distinguishing characteristics, and weren’t very tough opponents.
Ice wolves emitted cold air with their howls. Their long ranged attack, quick movements, and bites made them tough opponents for low ranked adventurers, but they had a weakness. The cold air could be nullified with defensive magic, and they were incredibly weak to fire attacks.
With a good vanguard to stop the ice hobgoblins and a good back row to neutralize the ice wolves, this labyrinth’s difficulty decreases sharply. With good counter-measures an F rank party could conquer it, but without them, even a D rank party would have trouble.
“What’s wrong Nick? Let’s collect materials quickly,”
The boss of this labyrinth was called Rakshasa, and it was about as strong as an ogre.
It was very agile and used ice magic, but wasn’t surrounded by underlings like an ogre. If Survivors all worked together it wasn’t a very difficult foe. Karan just got done taking it down with her fire dragon slash.
“I was just thinking…”
“C’mon, don’t put on airs. Is it something important?
Nick nodded to Tianna.
We’ve cleared four dungeons, including the one we just conquered. First it was the Goblin Forest, then Sticky goo Gate, and then the Shadow Wolf Cave.”
“And finally, we cleared the Ice Den Of The Rakshasa and made it our hunting ground. What are your thoughts?”
“Hmm… It’s not as much trouble as I thought. It’s far and there’s a lot of work, but I don’t really feel like my life is at risk anymore.
Tianna said with her hand on her chin.
She was aware of the danger in her words, and started doubting them.
The reason for that danger was basically…
“Honestly, it feels like I might get careless.”
“Are you talking about how bad being careless is?”
“Careless… I mean, even if you’re in a low difficulty labyrinth, if you keep walking around you’re going to get tired. Being tired leads to diminished concentration, which will eventually lead to mistakes.
“I can heal wounds with magic, but only rest heals tiredness.”
Said Sem softly.
“We all have our roles, and no room for error so we can’t mess around. We have no one on stand-by waiting to replace any of us.
It’s all good in the Ice Den Of The Rakshasa, but once we start exploring labyrinths two or three ranks above, we’ll be facing dangerous situations.”
“So… Should we get more people?”
Karan said with her voice trembling a little.
“We won’t. I mean, even if we wanted to, we couldn’t. Bringing in people with a different set of values would only bring trouble.”
Everyone in Survivors was hurt in some way in the past, and they probably wouldn’t want to go on adventures with another person unless it was someone that understood that pain.
Everyone felt the same way about this.
“Well, we just have to try not to over-do it.”
Survivors went back to Fishermen to cash in their materials, and were suddenly called by a guild employee.
“Does this sort of thing happen often, Nick?”
“No, I don’t think it’s normal for an F rank party to be called like this…”
Nick couldn’t find a good answer to Tianna’s question.
In the end, they were guided to one of the conference rooms in Fishermen, still not knowing what was going on.
“You’re late. I’ve been waiting for a while.”
“Ah, old woman. Why are you here?
“Call me Wilma. Usually I’m in New Beads, but I’m from the main guild so I can visit the branches from time to time.”
Waiting for them was the receptionist that registered their party in New Beads.
“Nick, you’re being rude.”
“As expected from a priest, you know what’s right. Sit down, it’s time to talk business.”
Nick reluctantly sat down after being scolded by Sem.
“…So, what do you need from an F rank party?”
“I want you to go inside a dungeon.”
“It’s the 【Labyrinth of Bonds】.”
Nick let out a strange voice in surprise.
“Isn’t it sealed off right now?”
“Yes, it is.”
“I really want to investigate it now that no one’s exploring it.”
“It sounds like a lot of trouble…”
Then, Tianna asked a question.
“What is the Labyrinth of Bonds? I’ve never heard of it.”
“Well basically, it’s a training labyrinth.”
“Training? So like the Goblin Forest?”
“No, new adventurers call that a training labyrinth, but it’s a normal dungeon with miasma where monsters are born. In the Labyrinth of Bonds there’s no miasma.
“So does that mean there aren’t any monsters either?”
Nick was interrupted by the receptionist.
“It has a function to manage the dungeon and… Creates dolls that look like monsters… Golems.”
“…What? It sounds like it has an ancient artifact.”
“It is an ancient artifact.”
Artifacts were not like magic items of the time, they were relics from an ancient civilization.
They had powers and functions that could not be replicated with magic items of the time, but they were few and consumed a lot of magic energy. They were so valuable you could build a house with just a small box.
“The labyrinth itself creates the golems and maintains the difficulty level and the environment. That is one of the hidden treasures of this city, the Labyrinth of Bonds.”
“Wow… So… why isn’t that place more well known…?”
Tianna was impressed, but Nick shrugged.
“Even if we take down golems, they don’t spit out any materials that we can turn into money, so it’s not popular with adventurers. Any other labyrinth is more profitable.”
“…If you told me that before, I would have laughed, but now I understand very well how adventurers feel.”
“There’s also no good reason to take down monsters there, like clearing miasma.”
Tianna and Sem mumbled as they lost their interest.
This lack of interest from adventurers was actually the reason why the Labyrinth of Bonds was closed.
“That’s all there is to it. We don’t want people that aren’t adventurers to go in, so it was sealed.”
Wilma muttered, and Nick cut in.
“So why was there talk about bringing it back?”
“…We’ve received information about undiscovered treasure. An employee was organizing the information orbs when she found the records of treasure in the Labyrinth of Bonds, and there was a lot still in the labyrinth,”
Information orbs were crystals with documents inside them. They had about a hundred books inside them and they could be consulted by looking into them.
They were very precious, and as valuable as top grade weapons, but one word in particular was much more appealing.
Karan reacted strongly to that word.
“Are you interested in that sort of thing Karan?”
“Y-Yes… Is that weird?”
“It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”
Karan was still embarrassed, even after Nick said that.
“I-It looks childish.”
“Most adventurers are like kids. So what kind of treasure are we talking about?”
“Magic energy measuring mirror, transmission orb, blaze amulet, and…”
“Those aren’t any different than the magic items we have today. Are those mass produced…”
“Don’t be so impatient, the last one’s important… The 【sword of bonds】”