Murdia awoke the next morning, mostly due to the sound of her door opening. When she glanced at said door, eyes bleary due to just waking up, she saw it was still just as closed as it'd been last night, and she frowned. That was when she felt something land on her stomach with a loud yell; one that sounded like it belonged to a certain ninja. "ooh, wise owl, wise owl! Guess what? Tiger's gonna be okay!" Lyrica cried out, a grin on her face as she bounced up and down, just a little, on Murdia's stomach.
"She's going to be...okay?" Murdia repeated. She was trying not to show it, she was trying to be strong, but she was glad; she had grown to care about Afia. "Well well, not completely okay! I think the red mask is going to have to come with us today. Tiger doesn't seem up to growling, or biting." Murdia said, shaking her head in mock sadness. She was, of course, joking; Murdia could tell that much. The young girl before her wasn't likely to lie about Afia being okay, Murdia knew that much at the least. "Even if she can't come today...that's good. I was worried." Murdia admitted as she sat up, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. "The snake was too..." Lyrica said, sounding deflated for a moment before she perked up, smiled, and energetically hopped off the bed. "Welp, see ya in a bit, wise owl!" she cried cheerfully before leaving, also energetically.
Murdia did what she felt was best, and that was gather up everyone as soon as they had finished their morning preparations. Not that there were many preparations they were able to make; it wasn't as if the inn helped them much in that regard. After rounding up the group, they set off; the day was unusually bright, but then again, almost all days in Armoroad seemed to be like that. Before they set off for the dungeon, however, Murdia wanted to make sure that Afia was okay. True, she had been told by Lyrica already that she was, but she wanted to make sure for herself.
They reached the room of Afia soon enough, and the others decided to make themselves scarce as she went inside. Afia was laying on the bed in the room; she still looked pretty banged up, considering the bandages that seemed to cover most of her body. It was sad to see her in that state; she was easily the strongest of their group, at least when it came to attacking. That came at the cost of laughably poor defense; she wasn't able to take a hit that well at all, despite how confident she was. "Hey. Lyrica tells me you're going to be okay?" Murdia questioned, causing Afia to glance at her. "Oh, Murdia. I should have guessed you'd talk to me before going back in," Afia commented, before looking away from the zodiac.
"Yeah, I'll live." she said with a frown; Murdia detected that she wasn't quite happy with that. Had she been affected more than Murdia thought by all of this? Murdia hoped not; she knew some adventurers lost their taste for the labyrinths soon after entering them, either due to injury related reasons or despair at having lost their friends, their teammates. As they sat there, Murdia made the resolution that that would not happen to them; there was no way they would lose anyone while they explored the Labyrinth. "I mean...are you really okay?" Murdia questioned of her, keeping her gaze on her friend as she asked the question.
"I don't know. I came here for the sake of my last guild, but...but I couldn't even defend myself against a Great Lynx, a creature practically designed to kill off weak adventurers new to this! How could I let myself get defeated by it?" Afia questioned. Murdia got it now; the girl blamed herself for what had happened. "Sometimes, Afia, there are great obstacles you can't defeat by yourself. Sometimes there are obstacles you can't even beat with friends. In either of those cases, you have to get stronger. You can't give up. The stars put obstacles in our place for a reason, after all." Murdia said, offering her a smile. Afia looked at her and couldn't help but giggle a little; a sad, hiccupy giggle, but a giggle nonetheless. "More of your star junk. Do the stars ever not speak to you?" Afia questioned jokingly; she was cheerful again.
"Heh. Yes, more of my star junk. Get well soon, Afia. I don't want to see you get hurt anymore; I hate seeing you like this." Murdia admitted. Afia nodded her head and watched the zodiac leave before looking back to the ground, sighing once more. "That girl...I hope this doesn't end up like my guild in Laagard." Afia reflected. She didn't want anyone dying either, even if she rarely showed that side of herself to her fellow guild mates. She had a feeling though. A feeling that this guild would be successful in exploring the Labyrinth.
Murdia walked away from Afia's room, feeling conflicted. On one hand, she wanted to stay and talk with the girl more; the stars knew she didn't do that enough. On the other, however, she wanted to continue to explore the Labyrinth; she knew the others did as well. They probably were concerned about Afia as well, but they were obviously putting their thoughts about that to the side, at least for the moment. "Alright people, let's move out," Murdia said to the group waiting for her. The mood was relatively excited, both for the excursion and for the fact that Afia was going to survive; she noticed that Murakaji seemed to be noticeably quiet, as if he didn't care too much. She always got the feeling about him, as if this were all business.
We're resting now, watching this large monster roam back and forth. I suppose that's not the best place to start this entry though. We went into the Labyrinth again, obviously. Afia wasn't up to it, but thankfully, it seems like she will live. I'm glad for that; I really am. I don't think I would have been able to continue doing this had she not survived. After speaking to her for a little bit this morning, and listening to her complain about my spiel about the stars, we departed for the Labyrinth.
It was as beautiful as ever, or at least, Lyrica decided to keep telling us that. I, truthfully, would not be surprised if we found her dead in her sleep one of these days, with Murakaji as the culprit. It's kind of adorable in a way, the way she pesters him, but I think I'm going to have to inform her soon enough of just how much she ticks him off. Nothing too interesting happened, at least not on the first floor. We found yet another room, this time filled with two chests holding treasures, namely 100 en and a Medica II. Again, I wonder who is just putting this stuff here.
Near the treasure room we also found a shortcut. We cut a large hole in the monsters dwelling on the floor, and along the way, we came across a spot perfect for resting. It was a small passage near the waterfall; upon feeling the breeze, Lyrica declared we had to rest there. There's really no complaining with Lyrica so...we rested for just a little bit. Lyrica was trying to show us some ninja tricks, namely disappearing, but she failed horribly. Murakaji picked up the slack though and showed how they're really supposed to be done.
Later we came upon a similar situation. I was mostly suspicious this time because it was just a room filled with a sweet fragrance, as if to lead us into a false sense of security for a trap. Lyrica again insisted on staying, and I'm staring to wonder just how much sleep she got last night. She doesn't even seem to get much sleep anyway, so I doubt it was much. Thankfully, nothing killed us in our sleep, or rather, naps, and we were moving on soon enough.
Perhaps it would have been best had this next event happened before finding the previous resting spot. We heard animal cries at a dead end with footprints at said dead end. They led to the east, and once more, Lyrica rushed off that way, declaring that we had to help the "poor animal". It seemed to be caught in a trap of some kind, and before we could warn her to be cautious, Lyrica had already cut the animal down. Unfortunately, its parents...well, they did not seem too happy with us and attacked; I blame it on Lyrica's bad luck.
We defeated the platypus', though we made sure to not kill them. They were just scared and defending their home, after all. Murakaji expressed a bit of disapproval at this, as platypus parts sell for quite a bit at Napier's Firm, but no one else raised any objections so he didn't do anything about it. I feel he's a bit of a wild card, this Murakaji; like one instant he could be your best friend or your worst enemy. I still wonder just what it is he's doing in this place; he has yet to tell any of us, even his apprentice/stalker Lyrica.
After checking our map, we were surprised to find that we had charted everywhere we possibly could without going past the guard. We took a break halfway back to the crossroads simply to congratulate each other; Lyrica actually managed to pull off a ninja trick or two this time as well. Though I noticed it was rather sloppy; still, I'm a bit proud of the girl. She might survive in this dungeon yet. After packing up, we soon came across the guard once more; he really didn't have anything too terribly interesting to tell us. All he really did was tell us to go back to the Senatus...and then he wouldn't even let us go past him, so we kind of had to.
Not much interesting happened back in the town. We got a ton of en from the Senatus though for doing that easy mission, aside from the Great Lynx. That wasn't easy at all. We also journeyed to Napier's Firm; a shame that Afia wasn't there, because I was looking forward to what she might say now that we could buy from Edie. Apparently, she had been holding out on us with an item called the Ariadne Thread, an item that could let us return instantly to the city. Really, Edie? You weren't willing to give us that when we were just starting out, but now you are? Oh, wait, not give us it, let us buy it.
Next we went to the Butterfly Bistro, to see if we could accept quests now. Apparently, we now could, and we made full use of it. We have to get 1 frog cheek and 3 frog legs; Murakaji was already complaining about how we would already have that had we spent more time in the Labyrinth. Another quest is to find a good place to sunbathe. We still haven't found that spot yet, but I suppose it's only a matter of time; there still seems to be a lot of blank spots on the map for more places to explore.
We also finally got a ship; it was interesting what the man who runs the port had to say. We decided to name the ship we got Gidaria, yet another word that means something else; in this case it means Guide. Kind of cheesy, I suppose, but oh well, not like that matters. We thanked the man for what he told us and after resting a bit, as well as upgrading equipment once again, we were back off into the Labyrinth, deciding that we should try to find the second floor before stopping for the day.
We found the guard at the same place as before back in the dungeon, but instead of just standing there stoically saying nothing as we passed, he stopped us. He congratulated us (again) on having mapped the first floor, and gave us three hammers. He explained they were to forge special properties onto weapons; again, why are they saving this kind of stuff for us for when we get stronger? This would be much more helpful at the very beginning, in my opinion. Do they want all new adventurers to die?
Oh well, he was a nice enough fellow. We moved on again, and once again, Lyrica decided to do something stupid. We came across some mushrooms, and before we could do anything, Lyrica was already trying to eat one. Deciding that three outlandish things was enough, and to not push our luck, I pulled her away and gave a bit of a talking to to her. I feel kind of bad about it now, but I think she got the point that it isn't too intelligent to eat things that are growing in a (probably) intelligent labyrinth.
We found another treasure room...this time one of the chests had a piece of armor in it. A piece. Of. Armor. How did it even fit! Oh well. It has feathers on it, and oddly, they're green in color. Why green? I don't know, but I think Afia would benefit from it somewhat. We also got some Bravant, whatever that is; we only know what it's called because of what's on the bottle. After assessing our injuries, we decided a quick journey back to Armoroad would be best.
We learned some things while there. Namely, that Great Lynxes are weak to fire. Gee, I sure could have used that knowledge RIGHT AT THE START. This keeps happening. Good things happen after we're stronger, and not when we're weaker; it makes no sense. That side, we also turned in the quest involving frog parts. What does the client want with them anyway? Oh well...it's not as if it matters too much to us; the only real thing that matters is the reward...which in this case, was 3 tents. Tents. Great reward.
We found the entrance to the second floor upon venturing back inside, and that's where we are now. A bit away, we can see some sort of large monster; he seems to be going back and forth, based on what we've observed so far. The trouble is, getting past him seems to be the only way to go forward; I shudder to think of what this is going to entail. At the least, it seems we'll have to get close to him to even progress.
Murdia put the journal away and glanced at her companions, a small smile on her face. They were slowly growing on her, all of them save for Murakaji; he was still as cold and stoic as ever. "Alright, enough resting! Let's get moving!" Murdia cried out, standing up and brushing the dirt off herself. Some of the others, notably Ignius, grumbled as they got up, but otherwise they were ready to move in a moment.
Before they got too far, a blonde, long-haired man showed up in front of them. He seemed to be wearing clothes similar in style to Afia's; was he a shogun as well? For the second time that day she wished Afia were with them, because surely she would know if he was a shogun or not. They seemed to realize the nomadic and independent souls of each other, after all. "Hold, explorers! There is much you should know to survive these depths. Heed my advice," he said to them, a friendly smile on his face. Despite that, they could all see the maturity he still held.
"Is this your first time on the second floor?" he asked, a fearsome aura about him. Murdia got the feeling that were they to ever go up against him, they would never stand a chance; she frowned a bit. "And just who are you?" she questioned. She was pleased to see the man momentarily caught off guard, surprised to have a question lodged at him instead. He still seemed amused, however, and quickly enough, he recovered enough to answer her.
"Me? I'm not the one you should concern yourself with right now. The monster ahead is," he explained to them, glancing ahead of all of them, towards the area the monster they had already seen was at. "Those who come here swaggering in triumph from the 1st floor...usually die at that beast's hand," he explained to them. Despite the fact that she had seen FOEs before, Murdia couldn't help but shudder a bit; they were fearsome beings, meant to completely decimate whole parties of adventurers by themselves. They were decimating just by themselves, she couldn't imagine fighting two at the same time.
"If everyone was smart enough to back away from fights they clearly can't win, there'd be no issue. But too many novice guilds perish from foolishly charging towards monsters beyond their abilities. I must caution you as well. Watch the enemy's movements before making your own," he said to them, giving another smile to them and a bow before walking off, farther into the forest. "I look forward to meeting you again, should our paths cross." he told them as he left. "Man, he seemed cocky, didn't he? Grumpy old lion. Kinda like Tiger, but not as grumpy, or stern." Lyrica commented, frowning at the retreating form, before turning her gaze to the beast.
"I know, I know. We have to come up with some sort of plan to either beat that thing or go around it. I would suggest we sneak around it though; I don't think we're yet powerful enough to take it," Murdia commented, glancing back to the stairs leading up to the first floor. "Besides, we've explored enough for today. We can handle waiting another day before exploring this floor some more. Our goal, after all, was only to find the way down to the second floor; I say meeting that fellow was more than enough. Now that I think of it, we never caught his name." Murdia commented; the group agreed with her decision, though she could tell that Murakaji was agitated. He definitely wanted to reach the lower depths at a quicker pace than they were going now, but why? Why rush it?
Sooner or later, she was sure, she would have to figure out his purpose for being with them.