Well, calling floor 21 a complete unknown was a bit misleading. I may not be willing to power God Eye willy-nilly, but with Map, Detect Trap, and Detect Treasure… I was able to quickly gain a picture of this floor. After that, it was just a matter of fighting mobs and clearing out the level. I wanted to check everywhere because Celeste could be anywhere. That means every level would be searched and stripped to completion.
My storage ring was quite large, but it was starting to get full. Since we kept everything mobile and didn’t really settle down since we moved out of the alchemy house, I was carrying almost everything on me. Weeks of food, clothing, and heapings of alchemy ingredients had made the ring stuffed. I had acquired 200 gold coins so far as well. To think I could buy Lydia twice over. Dungeon Diving was truly a profitable venture. Of course, when I thought about how many times, I had almost died in the beginning there, I could see why it wasn’t more popular.
It took only a full day to finish the 21st floor. Still we were stronger than ever, and I was comfortable moving on. In truth, I was eager to get us down to the 25th floor. Once we found the library there, we might spend a bit more time grinding. Depending on the quality of the mid-floor boss, hunting him for a while would be advantageous for all of us. We could use more practice fighting a big boss together. Right now, we could handle little mobs pretty easily. We had been able to control groups as large as 5 monsters without difficulty.
So far, we hadn’t experienced anything like the ambushes from the previous dungeon. I didn’t know if that was because the previous dungeon was young or if it was because this dungeon didn’t feel sufficiently threatened. I could say that the traps were growing increasingly insidious. If I hadn’t started being very careful with Detect Trap since landing back at level 10, our party might have been in major trouble. Out of curiosity, I used the Duplicate Slave Skill to copy Danger Sense at the same time as Detect Trap and Map. This was easier said than done since it essentially involved casting four spells simultaneously. However, the result was that the points displayed on my map were color-coded. I could tell how dangerous the traps were, from red death traps to green traps that didn’t technically hurt you, like teleport traps.
“So many ways to use magic, I’ll have a lot of reading to do when I get out of here.”
If I copied the Learning Up skill, I could probably learn to read faster than Miki. I was interested in seeing what this world had written down about jobs. Everything I knew was even tested out with trial and error or hints I got from old Adventurers providing their advice in exchange for a glass of drink. I was still taking these kinds of notes in my booklet too. Perhaps, I’d create my own jobs and skills guide eventually. I could be the Memoir hero or something like that. Actually, I wouldn’t mind being remembered for that. It was better than being remembered for having slaves or a harem or being good at killing things.
We were on the 23rd floor. It had been three days since we had finished off Karr. Progress was going well. It was only then that I saw a sparkly wing disappear just as we rounded a corner.
“It’s her!” I exclaimed in excitement.
I barely saw her, but it definitely had to be Celeste.
I felt extremely relieved about seeing Celeste. She was my slave still, so if she had died, I was certain I’d be notified in some way. I supposed I needed to work on Slave Master a bit and gain some of the skills that allowed me to track and control slaves. Then again, I had a distinct feeling that by getting the higher tier job Slave Master, I had skipped some of these basic skills. The reason I didn’t have a simple skill locator was that it was rudimentary. It was like me with White Mage skills despite having no Mana Control. I was putting the cart way before the horse. At some point, it’d be nice to gain the slaver ability so I could learn basics.
Anyway, she was in front of me now, I wasn’t going to lose her again. “Celeste!”
I immediately ran out ahead of the party. It might be a little reckless, but I did scan my map with Detect Trap and Sense Life before I ran. There was nothing that should be able to threaten my life. I could sense her life in particular. She was a lot brighter than anything else on this level. I found that brightness often coincided with level. Brighter creatures tended to be harder to kill than dimmer monsters. That was how I tracked the boss on level 15. He could hide, but I sensed his life force and it was always stronger than the other ghosts. There were exceptions to this. An extreme injury could lead to weaker life force. Celeste was just about as bright as my own life force, which meant to me she was healthy.
“Master!” The two girls called out worried and started chasing me.
I had already spun around the corner though. At the end of the hallway was Celeste. She spun back and made a noise of surprise. Suddenly, I felt an air attack being sent my way. Before, I wouldn’t have been able to tell, but with Mana and Air Control, I was much more aware of magical attacks now.
“Watch out!” I gave warning to the girls behind me and then rolled under the air attack to avoid it.
They ducked around the corner to avoid the attack. As for Celeste, she spun around, and it looked like she was going to run. This time, I wasn’t going to lose her again. I hated it, and I didn’t want to use it, but after over a week of being separated, if Celeste still wasn’t over this, she gave me no choice.
“Stop and come here!” I put the Order Slave skill into my voice.
The fairy ignored me, spun to leave, but then grabbed her neck like she was being choked. I flinched at the pain she was experiencing, but I wouldn’t back down now. We’d talk about it. I would free her once the dungeon was finished, but I wouldn’t allow her to run off on her own and be hurt. Finally, she turned back, and with a lowered head, started approaching me.
I felt the two girls finally come to my side. Miki stood on one side while Lydia stood on the other.
“What is it, Master?” Lydia asked, looking at the fairy approaching us.
I gave the best smile I could. “I can finally have you meet her. Ladies… this is Celeste.”
The fairy continued to approach with her head down, although she stopped and glanced back a few times. Every time she did, her hand touched her neck like she was remembering the pain, and then she continued floating towards me.
“Celeste?” Miki asked. “That is Celeste?”
There was something odd in the way she said those words. I frowned slightly. Did Miki perhaps have something against fairies? Celeste stopped a few feet away from us. Her expression seemed odd too. She was afraid to get closer. It was almost like she didn’t recognize any of us. That was impossible. Celeste knew me.
“Celeste… come here…” I gestured. “You remember me, don’t you?”
Celeste cocked her head to the side, and then nodded slightly, floating the rest of the way to me. I finally relaxed now that she was hovering in front of us, looking at my two girls with curiosity rather than jealousy or anguish.
“Ah… these are the two girls I told you about. This is Lydia. She’s very important to me. This other one is Miki. She may be mischievous, but she also has a good heart….”
“Um… Master…” Miki seemed confused. “What are you doing?”
“Master’s new slave is a fairy?” Lydia said curiously and then puffed out her cheeks. “And here Master had gotten me all worried.”
“Eh? I thought you said you weren’t jealous!”
“Of course, I’d still worry!” Lydia rolled her eyes like it was the most obvious thing. “Although, since it’s a fairy, it’s fine.”
Lydia didn’t answer, instead she put a finger out toward Celeste. She made a clicking sound with her mouth and wiggled her finger slightly.
“Come here… come here… I won’t hurt you. I’m Master’s slave too, so you don’t need to be afraid.”
Celeste looked at Lydia for a moment, and then reached out and touched her finger, shaking it like an entire hand. Lydia giggled.
“It?” I frowned.
She was treating Celeste more like a dog or something. It was actually irritating me slightly.
“Celeste… why don’t you introduce yourself,” I said, my mouth twitching. “Well? Say something!”
“Um… Master…” Miki spoke again, this time pulling on my shirt.
I turned back to her and raised an eyebrow. “Yes? What is it? Are you okay with Celeste? I guess she’s really shy around strangers. Normally, she is a lot more talkative.”
“Talkative?” Lydia’s expression turned strange.
Both girls were looking at me oddly. “What? What is it?”
Miki looked down awkwardly. “You… this is Celeste… the um… the companion that you had in your party for several weeks?”
I nodded, frowning. “Yeah, what’s wrong with that?”
“Ah… it’s nothing…” She said. “It’s just… Master was alone for some time. I was in here with Lydia, and even I felt my mind being worn thin.”
“What are you saying?”
“It’s okay, Master…” Lydia smiled gently. “It’s not weird to hear things that aren’t there or to see things in the dark. I had a lot of time adjusting to this ghost-filled dungeon.”
“What…” My expression sank, and then I turned back to Celeste, my eyes somewhat frantic. “You… say something! Celeste, tell me what you’re thinking!”
The ferocity of my look caused Celeste to suddenly hide behind Lydia’s mane, but as she looked through looking through her hair that she spread with both hands, Celeste only shook her head helplessly.
“Master…” Miki’s words came out as gently as she could. “Fairies are not intelligent beings. They’re only a step above sprites. They don’t talk. They can understand basic orders. Some nobles keep them around because they’re good at keeping a house clean. They call them House Fairies. You can enslave and order them, but they’re more like a dog or a bird than a real person.”