Polymath Redux Annex
Chapter 28 – What is a ‘Labyrinth’?
Three days had passed.
Not a full week had passed by since Mordred had been brought over to this world, yet the first adventure was about to begin. It was undeniable; there was a certain sense of exhilaration within him that he pretended didn’t exist. As he wore the same stoic expression, adorned with cheap and dull looking plated armour, he approached the front of the city’s gate. The gate guards were still there. The same people as a few days ago, ‘good work,’ he silently praised in his head before meeting up with the intended target.
She waited for him with a bored expression. Her rather thin arms crossed as she leaned against a shaded wall on the outskirts. ‘Cecilia,’ the half-elvish girl that was to be his first partner in the first ever adventure in this world. Her features reminded him a bit of himself; her shoulder-length black hair, long eyelashes that brought forth her glimmering red eyes as though they were ruby. There was a mysterious air about her that somehow mixed with a rough personality. Unlike how Mordred dressed, her attire. Green leather armour with shorts, covered by a black cloak, was suited more for the backline. Slung on her back was a mechanical looking longbow with a quiver that looked comically big for her.
As a test of her abilities, Mordred approached her with the use of his ‘silent movement’, passive ability from the ‘Assassin’ skill-tree. Perhaps his skills were far too much for the residents of his world, but she was unable to detect his movements until he was already within striking range. When he called out, from what would’ve been him suddenly materializing next to her, she shrieked back and lashed out. “W- what the?! When did you get here?!” her gaze disgruntled and hostile. ‘Something was wrong,’ was what probably went through her mind at this point. After all, Roland did say she was supposed to have been a rather capable tracker.
“I just got here actually,” Mordred apologized as he loosened his expression with the façade of a rookie mercenary. “Sorry, did you wait long?”
“Wha- no, I mean yes! Yes, I waited almost an hour for you! I told you not to be late!” she angrily retorted as she turned her face with a pout. ‘Quite cute, this one,’ Mordred thought and snickered.
“Again, I apologize, but we never set a specific time to meet up so…” he tried to justify himself with what he thought was a reasonable excuse but she did not have any of it. She shook her head with a sigh and started to walk the opposite direction of the large, walled city that was the capital known as ‘Solaris’.
“Ms. Cecilia, if you don’t mind. I have a question.”
“You can just drop the ‘Ms’ part, it’s actually kind of creepy.”
“Very well, then, Cecilia. If you don’t mind sating my curiosity for a moment.”
“What is it?”
“I understand that the ‘Manatite Forest’ is some kind of ‘Labyrinth’, but what exactly is that?” There were some problems with the concept of ‘Dungeons’, or as this world called it ‘Labyrinths’. It was the fact these were concepts that were tailed specifically for gameplay purposes. Sometimes they had lore attached to them, but the formula for it usually included traversing an instanced area where there is a boss and treasure at the end. Mordred then thought, ‘if that’s the given case, then how does it translate into reality? Do monsters respawn after a set period? That would make no sense… what about the boss? The treasure? If someone has completed the labyrinth before then what’s the point of completing it a second time when there’s no more loot at the end?’
Cecilia stopped to return a perplexed look. As if someone had asked her what colour the sky was. “You… seriously don’t know anything about the place we’re supposed to be going?” she let out a sigh as she gently massaged her eyes. “Isn’t it the number one rule for mercenaries to do prior research about their missions?”
Mordred cleared his throat and shrugged back, “I’ll make note of it in future.”
“Haah…” Cecilia sighed for a second time. “Well, ‘Labyrinths’ are like… mysterious places where there are a lot of monsters and stuff. They usually stretch on for quite a bit of time before you get down to the lowest floor where you’ll have to fight a boss monster. The bosses are exceptionally tough so you need to know what to do and have the right equipment. Sometimes there’s a treasure room, other times there are not.”
“I fail to see why monsters would inhabit a place that would so often be raided by mercenaries.”
“Huh? You don’t even know about that?”
“Ugh… like, the monsters in those Labyrinths are not the same as the monsters that dwell on the surface. For starters, they’re much stronger. They’re the by-products of an unnatural magical energy… or something like that, I don’t know the exact science behind it! Ask those damned Royal Alchemists if you want to know more. Either way, the monsters that’re in there only look resemble monsters. In reality, they’re nothing more than masses of mana given form. Even if you kill them, they’ll just return back after a few hours or days.”
‘Hmm, I see… that explains the concept of ‘respawn,’ though not a direct translation, the functionalities from the game carried over almost seamlessly. “Then, I presume that the boss monster at the end is the same?”
“Something like that, but usually the bosses of Labyrinths are much stronger because they’re usually the ‘core’ of the Labyrinth.”
“And that means?”
“Tsk, it means that whatever incident caused the formation of the Labyrinth in the first place is tied to what the boss is.”
“Incident the caused the formation of the Labyrinth… you mean to say that these places are not a natural phenomenon of this world?”
“Of course not! Like I said, I don’t know the details behind what created them in the first place, but according to the researchers and alchemists they’re artificially made. The Manatite Forest, for example, used to be a normal forest south of Solaris, but due to some ‘incident’, it’s warped into this monstrous place.”
“So then, there’s no chance of this ‘magical energy’ that caused the creation of the Labyrinth to leak out and contaminate other areas?”
“No… well, no one knows for sure, but something like that never happened so why start worrying about it now? Besides, it’s good for business. These places are crazy popular specifically due to the rampant magical energy anomaly. Materials and ingredients that would normally be extraordinarily rare, take a long time to form, or require certain conditions to grow can usually be found in such places.”
“Interesting. Then, exactly how many of these ‘Labyrinths’ exist?”
Cecilia shrugged. Another sigh, “argh! I don’t know, okay?! I don’t know anything, so please stop asking me such difficult questions! Look, if you want more in-depths knowledge about them then I’ll try to set you up with a Royal Alchemist that I’m familiar with… After! Everything is over.”