Surviving The Game As A Barbarian Episode 163

March 29, 2024 • 12 min read • 1049 views

Exploration (2)

Alluva Raven.

Shimmering blonde hair.

Small in stature, just over 150 cm.

With a slender figure to boot, she might seem like a child at first glance, but…

But when she gets serious, she’s scary as hell.

Just like now.

“Did you know about this,Mr. Jandel?”

Ah, uh…

“I didn’t know it would be this bad.”

Raven’s glare intensified at my honest words.

However, in true barbarian fashion, I scratched my neck.

We’re already inside the labyrinth, what can she do?

“I’ll find the way forward. Abman, you just keep telling me where the portal is.”

“…Alright then.”

Apparently intimidated by Raven’s glare as well, Mr Bear quickly handed over the lead to me.

Now, this is where it gets important.

“Ha, seriously…”

I can tell from her expression that she’s realized she’s been scammed, but Raven decides to watch and see, holding back her words for now.

So, this exploration must clearly demonstrate that having a directionally challenged scout doesn’t significantly hinder the exploration.

Before a string of curses flies out of that tiny mouth.

“Let’s set off, then.”

Using Mr. Bear as a compass, we quickly find our way.

I can feel Raven’s icy gaze behind me, but I’m not too worried.

After all, knowing the basic directions is enough to reach the 2nd floor from the 1st.

‘At intersections, just choose the wider passage and you’ll make it more than half the time.’

‘Avoid uphill paths, as they’re likely to lead to dead ends.’

‘From the outskirts, always choose the darker paths with fewer crystals.’

Several tips I learned from observing the pure effort pathfinder, Rotmiller.

I use his tips to minimize wasted journeys, such as backtracking because of dead ends.

And as a result.

“Oh, we got here quicker than I thought?”

We reached the outermost dark zone earlier than expected.

Ah, and from here on, it was much easier.

Normally, we would have to rely less on a compass and more on searching the surroundings to find a portal but…

“It’s that way.”

We have a scout who can sense the portal’s location without needing to do anything special.

So, we just have to follow that direction to reach our destination.

Of course, the portal had been opened by another explorer a while ago.

「You have entered the 2nd floor Goblin Forest.」

After reaching the 2nd floor, Raven’s expression had softened somewhat.

“12 hours to the 2nd floor… Not bad.”

Yeah, it seems we’re safe.

After all, during the planning phase of the exploration, we allocated 13 hours to get through the 1st floor, so there’s no room for complaint.

“I’m surprised you’re so lenient with your scout.”

Despite Raven’s accusatory look, she surprisingly didn’t hold a grudge.

Could it be that she’s the type who’s okay as long as the results are good?

‘Reasonable.’

In that sense, we made efforts to ensure that the schedule we had set up for the 2nd floor did not go awry.

Though we did set a tight plan to clear it within 24 hours…

“Abman, which direction?”

“This way.”

There are eight portal stones in the Goblin Forest.

However, once one is opened, the remaining stones turn into mere rocks. So it was common for later arriving teams to search for the portal by circling the outermost part of the forest.

Ah, by the way, I heard it takes an average of 2 to 3 days, assuming the team doesn’t have a scout.

‘With a scout, a day is enough. There’s no need to wander around unnecessarily.’

Without even needing to pull out a compass, we headed straight in the direction where the portal was activated.

“Raven, can you increase the number of light spheres?”

“I can handle about three without any trouble.”

The absence of a professional scout wasn’t an issue.

A field littered with traps throughout the forest?

With the surroundings lit up as if it were broad daylight, this was no threat at all.

Well, the light did attract goblins continuously…

“Grk—!!”

Now, even if dozens of goblins attacked at once, I could handle them by myself.

“Let’s rest here for the night.”

We prepared to camp around 9 PM.

The location was the outskirts of the Goblin Forest, where Hobgoblins start to appear.

“Is this how explorers usually push through?”

It must have been a tough day for Raven, experiencing her first proper exploration, but it’s a rule to adjust one’s biological rhythm to the surplus of energy on the first day.

“We’ll camp around this time if possible, so it’ll be a bit easier from tomorrow.”

“…Well, it does feel like a real exploration, which is interesting.”

“Stop talking and go to sleep already. We have to keep moving tomorrow.”

“Okay. Wake me up if anything happens.”

As usual, Raven was excluded from taking watch.

Just setting up an alarm magic was enough to acknowledge her contribution.

“Bjorn… about Aynar, is it okay to leave her on her own later, Nyang?”

Misha, looking at Aynar who was next in line for watch, cautiously expressed her concern, but I just smirked and assured her decisively.

“It’s fine. She won’t be dozing off in her watch.”

Aynar is surprisingly reliable in such matters.

She has a trait of distrusting humans, and the Barbarians themselves consider it a disgrace to fail to keep their word.

In fact, when it was just the two of us, she took her turns at watch without any problems.

Even then, the watch shifts were four hours long, and we slept even less, yet she was still perfectly reliable.

“Hmm, I see… Maybe I had some prejudice, Nyang.”

After completing the 8-hour camp, with the four of us taking two-hour shifts excluding Raven, we resumed our exploration in the early morning.

And before noon, we found the portal.

「You have entered the 3rd floor, Pilgrim’s Path.」

Even after reaching the third floor, the exploration went smoothly.

The battle was as easy as if actual combat practice was unnecessary, and finding the way was not a problem either.

Even Mr. Bear didn’t get lost in places without paths, like he did in the first floor or the city.

「Your character has entered a special area.」

「Field Effect – Witch’s Forest is applied.」

The Witch’s Forest, which I had been inwardly worried about, turned out to be manageable as well.

We simply tied ourselves together like a string of fish, with Mr. Bear leading, making it easy to clear.

Now, at this moment.

“Wow, a tower! Bjorn! There really is a tower in the middle of the forest!!”

“Hehe, see? I told you, there are many wonders in the labyrinth.”

“Bethel—raaaaaaaaa!!”

“…Right, you felt like shouting, didn’t you?”

We had reached the portal to the 4th floor.

And that too by the afternoon of the 8th day.

‘This pace is almost the same as when we had Rotmiller.’

While I was pleased with this fact, it also left a bittersweet feeling.

Is it true that effort can’t beat talent after all?

“What are you thinking about, Mr. Jandel?”

“Oh, it’s nothing.”

“Then, can we quickly go inside? The entire forest is vibrating with an ominous magic power, making me feel nauseous.”

Perhaps due to her innate mana sensitivity?

Raven didn’t vomit, but she felt motion sickness worse than Dwalki.

So, I wanted to make her comfortable soon, but…

“Wait a bit, we can enter once the portal changes color.”

“Ah, right. I’ve heard about that. It’s done to avoid misunderstandings with other teams that might have entered first, right?”

“Not doing so could lead to being mistaken for plunderers and getting attacked.”

Raven patiently waited after hearing the logical reason.

Soon after, the portal’s color changed.

“Let’s go in now.”

It’s time for the real climb to begin.

「You have entered the 4th floor, Sky Tower.」

Sky Tower.

A unique layer where mobs of monsters with random combinations appear on every stage.

As it’s usually nicknamed the Training Tower, I planned to properly synchronize our efforts here.

But…

‘…With this level of power difference, it seems meaningless.’

After our first battle, I realized.

The level of combat power between Team Halfling and us was entirely different.

To the extent that it was impossible to fully synchronize our efforts on the 4th floor.

「Your character has cast [Gigantification].」

A super-giant mace, not only increased in size but also significantly enhanced in performance through [Union], and when combined with the skill [Swing], the level 7 monster felt like a goblin.

The key here is that we have a separate main dealer.

「Abman, Urichfried  has cast [Hazardous Material].」

Beyond the one-shot kills, there’s also the massive damage deal of Mr. Bear, a rank 5 archer who is capable of wiping out entire areas, and a high-level tank summon named Iron Bear.

「Alluva Raven has cast level 6 attack magic [Baptism of Fire].」

And Raven, an orthodox mage with insane utility, holding over a hundred types of curse magic and support magic on top of the four elemental attack magics.

The team’s efficiency greatly increased.

With level 6 or lower monsters, regardless of the strange combinations in which they appear, we could strategize the most appropriate approach to combat within three minutes.

‘Compared to us three, Aynar and Misha might be a bit lacking, but they’re still carrying their weight properly. Looks like we won’t have any trouble up to the 5th floor.’

Therefore, instead of focusing on synchronizing our actions through practice, I concentrated solely on ascending the Sky Tower.

However, the progress wasn’t as fast as expected for a very simple reason.

The combat speed was incomparable to Team Halfling, but…

Our team lacked a professional scout.

‘It’s all good, but it’s regrettable that clearing the Trial of Wisdom is taking so long.’

The Trial of Wisdom serves as a kind of shortcut.

Instead of passing through a maze filled with traps and monsters, it lets you skip five stages at a time.

Moreover, unlike the Stairs of Courage, there was no 4-hour cooldown period to choose the next staircase…

Rotmiller took about 1 hour to clear it.

It took us about five times that long.

“Bjorn, can’t we just fight monsters?”

I was just as frustrated as Aynar, but we had no choice.

To reach the 100th stage by selecting only courage, it would take over 16 days. Therefore, it was impossible to break through the 4th floor before the labyrinth closed.

“It’s getting late today. Let’s rest and continue climbing tomorrow.”

We had only cleared the Trial of Wisdom once since entering the tower, but it was already past 10 p.m., so we prepared to camp.

Of course, camping here was significantly different from usual.

Without needing to assign watch shifts, everyone just chose their spot and laid out their sleeping bags.

“It’s amazing we don’t have to stand guard in the labyrinth!! Misha, my head is spinning!!”

“Nyahaha, I kind of know what you mean. When I first came here, it was hard to adapt and I couldn’t sleep well—”

Drrrrrrrrrrr-!

“Hey, I’m talking here…!”

Aynar passed out as soon as she lay down in her sleeping bag, and Misha sighed, started to wipe her body with a wet towel, and began to prepare for bed.

“Nyang, Bjorn, why do you keep glancing over here?”

“I’m not looking.”

“Come on, turn your head away. We’re comrades, aren’t we? It’s too late for regrets now, Nyang.”

I mean, I said I wasn’t looking.

I sighed and focused on cleaning the blood off my mace.

But maybe she wasn’t pleased with that?

“Tch.”

As if she wanted me to hear, Misha clicked her tongue.

It’s a change that came after we moved to our inn.

She said before to act like it never happened, and now suddenly she frequently brings up that day’s events in jest?

Well, I’m not complaining.

‘…Maybe this is for the best.’

Misha had expressed her feelings, and I had clearly set boundaries. Even if we wanted to act as if it never happened, it couldn’t be undone.

So, she must have thought it over and made her decision.

It’s probably much less awkward this way than being constantly cautious about mentioning it.

“I’m going to sleep now.”

“Alright.”

Soon, Misha also got into her sleeping bag and closed her eyes. Looking around, I saw that Mr. Bear had also laid out his sleeping bag in a corner and was preparing to sleep.

Drrrrrrrrrrr-!

While I was at it, I picked up Aynar’s greatsword and gave it a quick wipe.

Then Raven quietly approached.

“Got something to say?”

“Yes.”

“Let’s hear it.”

“I did some calculations, and at today’s pace, we won’t have much time even when we reach the 5th floor.”

…So, she did some calculations on that.

Sigh, that’s mages for you.

Of course, I couldn’t dismiss her concerns entirely.

The time wasted here would indeed reduce the time we could spend on the 5th floor.

Raven Continued

“That means we’ll also fall behind other teams in terms of gains.”

“…This is your first exploration, isn’t it? It’s taking us longer now because we don’t have a professional scout, but it’ll get faster over time.”

“If you say so.”

With that, Raven didn’t say anything more and returned to her sleeping bag.

It wasn’t that she accepted all my words.

If it continues to take us five hours to overcome the Trial of Wisdom like today, she would likely come back to discuss this again.

With a more drastic solution in hand.

‘…Anyway, let’s just sleep for now.’

After placing the cleaned greatsword next to Aynar, I lay down in my sleeping bag.

And not long after I had closed my eyes,

[Jandel, just listen quietly.]

I was awakened by Raven’s voice echoing in my head.

It was a ‘Telepathy’ spell.

But why would she use magic to wake me up while I was sleeping? The reason was simple.

[When I was washing up, something felt off, so I used a detection spell…]

[There’s someone else here with us.]

[So, please, don’t move at all.]

The situation was straightforward.

How she managed to speak so calmly was beyond me…

[That person is right behind me right now.]

Our mage was in danger of being attacked.