I spent another two days in Hector’s tent before the expedition back to the labyrinth. When I considered the chance to both level and increase my army, I grew a bit excited. It had been a long time since I had thought about leveling seriously. My time with Hector had likely done some good in bringing me closer and closer to the next level. Every level brought me closer to freedom and total control. One thing was certain, I was done being a pawn.
The elvish tribe survived through trading, and as a result, they had many herbs and flowers that I needed for potion making. I spent the time when Hector was out doing his duties on creating potions. I also tried my hand at a few poisons, although since I was inexperienced, so I didn’t want to go overboard and end up killing myself. Still, it was enough that I gained a skill point.[Poison Making has increased to two!]
Time had also done my manipulation and sexual arts well, as they both increased as well. They were now 22, and 20 respectively. I didn’t know how to feel about the fact that my manipulation was increasing faster than my sexual arts. Didn’t that mean I spent more time lying and manipulating than I did enjoy sex?
I also had spent some time learning wind magic that could help with my conceal. The elfish hunters used it to cover up their scents when hunting big game. Not wanting to attract any more monsters, I learned the spell myself. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get a level in wind magic. However, I knew elemental magic, so it’s likely that I was using the spell through that skill. Wind magic would probably require me learning far more types of wind magic than a smell concealer.
Either way, after several days of preparation, I felt far more ready for this journey than the sporadic one I had taken with Jerard. I learned from my mistakes, and I wouldn’t allow myself to be so careless again as to endanger myself and my team. In the past, Min had always done all of the preparation and supply management for me. However, after joining Jerard and not bringing a single thing along, I realized how much of a burden I was being. Then again, none of Jerard’s girls brought much along either, so they could just be how his party traveled.
That morning, I happened to know that Hector would be gone for some time. I didn’t ask him permission in the slightest if I could go on this expedition. Had I even mentioned it to him, I was certain that he was going to get in the way. Furthermore, Baron seemed to want to get me killed. It was clear to me that he was underestimating me terribly, and expected me to die in this journey. He wouldn’t tell Hector about it either.
The expedition would take more than a day though, so Hector would be in for a surprise that night once he found out where I went. I wasn’t his slave, however. I didn’t have the guts to tell him where I was going and risk him resisting, but I was happy to leave him ignorant until it was too late to do anything about it.
Checking my packs a few more times, I nodded and headed out to the place Baron had indicated. When I got there, I found three strapping young elves. While I called them young, they were elves, so it was likely they were all in the 80s or older. The men all glanced at me. Not a single one didn’t have eyes that lingered on my appearance. At least these boys would treat me right, compared to the openly antagonistic Baron.
“Wow… when Baron said he was sending a woman along…” One of the men coughed when he realized he was speaking out loud. “Sorry, I mean, my name is Nelfun.”
“Danros.” A second one spoke up.
“Keton.” The final nodded. “We’re all former apprentices of Baron.”
I gave a smile. “Then, I’m sure with you three, I’ll be quite safe.”
The three men blushed in response, looking away as I met each of their eyes.
“Ma’am… this journey will be quite dangerous.” The one who called himself Danrose spoke up. “Are you sure you want to accompany us.”
“Believe it or not, I was also trained in the sword,” I responded with a gloat. “I can handle myself.”
After all, I even beat an ogre in battle. Admittedly, I used some tricks to do it, but that didn’t matter to me. As Fanreek said, the only thing that matter was life or death. You needed to take advantage of every trick to win. The monster I kill couldn’t’ care less whether I fought dirty or not. It was that sort of thing.
“Shall we get a move there?” I asked as I noticed all the men staring at me. “To Nyphum.”
The men immediately all coughed and shifted away. It appeared like my charm was quite distracting to young elf men. I hoped they could remain focused in a fight. I didn’t want my life put in danger because a guy was too busy staring at my ass. I knew I always protested the idea that women couldn’t be in the military because they distracted the men, but this was another world where charm was a legitimate stat that could affect people. I needed to be conscious of my effect on people. I pulled up my hood.
The second my face was obscured in shadow, the men seemed to gain a better grip on their senses. I could only smile wryly as they began to discuss their mission. I didn’t know if it was the nature of an Adventuring team or Jerard’s group in general, but this felt much more organized. Every man had to carry something. When the men tried to split it between the three of them. I made them include me in part of the share. I still noticed I ended up with the smallest pack.
Strength stats had nothing to do with a person’s sex in this world. I felt a little annoyed. As a second classer, I could have easily carried just as much as they carried. Ah, well, I guess I couldn’t have everything. I took my smaller pack and followed along as we headed off into the woods. Baron didn’t make his presence known. I wondered a bit on who these apprentices of his were. Were they the troublemakers that he wanted to get rid of? Or was he just making a bad situation better by getting rid of me?
Compared to the speed of a guy and his three posh women, I could say the speed of the elves was far more precise. We moved through the forest with extreme speed. At first, the men went slow, expecting me to trail behind. However, I had gotten used to Min’s movements, and theirs were similar. They made noises of surprise as I was able to keep up with them, and they continued to increase their pace, only for me to keep along. Status wise, I was no slouch, and even if I ran short on breath, I could theoretically go without for thirty minutes at a time. Now that I was always on, that helped me for more than just hyperventilating during sex. Still, I liked their noises of approval.
We reached the labyrinth within about three hours jog. Like before, I walked up to a familiar scene of tents where people were trying to sell supplies and safe lodging outside the labyrinth. I kept my hood lowered, although the chances of seeing that man again were pretty low…
“Shot…” I turned away slightly, realizing that I did see someone I knew.
It was Bryson, the hero of the humans. After getting drunk and collapsing in his bed, I didn’t really remember most of that night. I remembered his identity as a person from another world was a gimmick he used to come off as popular. I also knew that he was a bit of a pretty boy. My heartfelt someone strange about him, and I vaguely recalled a strange dream…
However, what I remembered clearest was Bryson standing nearby as Devon book my head on the chopping block. He called himself a hero but thought nothing of Devon infecting me with a deathly curse. He knew of my mission to assassinate my former slave master, and he hadn’t made a single attempt to contact me. Now, I saw he was here with that short, old elf master of his, Isaac. He was likely out training with him. My mood was instantly soured.
“Isaac Trevus!” Nelfun gasped, suddenly falling to one knee.
The other two elves immediately bowed as well. My face grew flushed and irritated as I watched them on the floor. Like that, I was completely exposed and we were making a scene. What was with these elves?
Bryson and his master immediately locked on to us. He looked like he was going to ignore them, but then his eyes passed by me, standing in a similar cloak, but not bowing. A grin formed on his lips and he headed over, with Bryson following along like a lapdog. I could only curse under my breath. What was with my shitty luck?
“Ah… it’s you… Fanreek’s girl.” The man chuckled.
The fact that Isaac immediately spoke to me as if he recognized me, the three elves all turned in surprise, looking up at me with a bit of awe in their expression. I let out a casual laugh.
“I’m not sure if I am anymore.” I shot Bryson a look out of the side of my eye, but he turned his head and refused to meet my eye.
“Well, my boy here has been failing to meet an appropriate challenge.” Isaac snorted. “I was thinking of having him fight the boss in the labyrinth. I heard he’s a level 80. Very tough. He’s not actually a minion, but a monster that managed to become a dungeon master.”
“A dungeon master?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah, it’s rare, but if an intelligent monster enters a labyrinth and gains enough strength, it can force the labyrinth to succumb to it and thus become a dungeon master. He’s not a clone like most of the animals, so he’s going to be particularly tough to kill.”
“Interesting,” I said with a forced smile. “We also came here to take on the boss.”
I looked down at the other men, who were still bowed. They each gave determined nods. Isaac looked down at the men with a wry expression.
“These guys? Seriously? Do you have a death wish?”
“Baron says that if we cannot kill this boss, then we do not deserve to be a trained by him any longer!” Danrose stated.
I coughed, suddenly feeling slightly embarrassed. I had thought that might be the case, but they actually admitted it out loud. I really was on the suicide squad! Well, their fate wouldn’t be my fate. Even if the monster killed them, I would triumph. In fact, the confirmation that the monster was intelligent made me even more certain. I could use a dungeon master to run my army. I was quite pleased with the results.
“Don’t worry about us.” I said, “In fact, we’ll take care of it.”
I couldn’t have this hero running ahead of me and defeating my quarry. If they killed my boss, I’d be back to square one. I had a feeling that Bryson alone could push through the labyrinth much faster than my team, so I was instantly concerned.
“You’ll take care of it?” Isaac chuckled.
“Master… it’s fine. Let her have this one.” Bryson suddenly spoke up.
So, you weren’t going to poach my kills? At least you had that much decency. I shot him a defiant glare and crossed my arms. Bryson cocked his head and looked at me questioningly.
“Nonsense… you need a good fight. If this woman thinks she has the power to take on a labyrinth boss, then she should be more than capable of fighting you.”
“What?” I asked.
“You heard me, girl,” Isacc sorted. “Let’s make a bet. You against my boy. The victor gets the boss!”