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Chapter 502

We allowed them to rest for a bit while I told the girls through Slave Communication my intent. Since I had time to kill, I decided to practice my Cook skill. Part of the reason I didn’t just leave it equipped in the dungeon and level it, other than safety reasons, was because rapidly leveling a job without practicing the skill led to an imbalance.

One of the books we had checked out on job structures spoke about this. If you’re a Basic Magician, the basic assumption before you become an Intermediate Magician is that you’ve mastered the basics. Even though there are Mana Control skills which allow you to use mana, you should eventually learn to use mana yourself. Call it muscle memory, or simply careful observation, but the general assumption is that by the time you become an Intermediate Magician, you can handle, while maybe not every spell, at least a good assortment of spells.

This is perhaps why by the time you reach the next level, you differentiate. At level 25, you switch to Intermediate, and at level 50, you get your official color class. What color class you get probably depends on what mana you’re most familiar with. One mage might have practiced a lot with destructive magic and thus maintained it through basic and intermediate. Thus, when they get their next job, they can only become a Black Mage.

I asked to use the fire, and since it was communally shared by all of them, even the ones who wanted to stop me grudgingly allowed it. I pulled out food from my storage ring and went to work, creating something with my Cook skill equipped.

“You’re cooking for them?” Harem came over and asked in surprise.

“Eh? I like to cook? You don’t?”

“O-o-of course I do!” She grew defensive. “I’m a great cook, right?”

She shot the men a look, who all nodded when she glared at them. However, as soon as she turned back, they all started shaking their heads and sticking out their tongues. One guy pointed at her and made a gagging motion. The message was clear. Never eat something she cooked. Even these guys who didn’t want competition wouldn’t subject a potential new guy to their woman’s cooking.

“Cool,” I said, pretending I didn’t see anything even as she spun back only to see the men looking suspiciously casual.

She turned back and suddenly looked more sheepish and just a tad cute. “It’s just… usually, Bradly does the cooking. He’s the best at it.”

Although she said that, as the smells began to emit from my cooking, even the one I presume was Bradly kept asking what I was using that smelled so good. Most of the people here were used to dried food that lasted a long time. The fact I brought foods that would go bad only proved to them that I was an amateur, but it didn’t stop their stomachs from rumbling after eating only dried stuff for potentially weeks.

Of course, none of them knew I was a Cook and could preserve foods for longer than a refrigerator. Short of finding a time-stop storage ring, which was said to be so rare that only the King of Aberis had one in this country, this was the best method of keeping my food edible.

Even the group of three men were licking their lips and lowered their heads to ask for a bowl. I made ramen, essentially, with various herbs, some vegetables, some meat, and an egg. It was a hit. Everyone ate some. The leader of the female group who’d escort us out ate five bowls, and I ended up needing to make more before we were done.

{Cook has increased to level 16.}

{You have unlocked: Enhance Flavor.}

Ah… it looked like I’d be the cook for a while longer.

Chapter 503

When everyone had their fill, it became time for our group to head out. While I was cleaning up, the women who had been sitting comfortably around the fire all stood up. I turned to look at them, and then my eyes went up and up. The five-woman group consisted of five women who were all exceptionally tall. I knew they were big women, but they had been sitting, and thus I hadn’t noticed how big they actually were. The smallest woman was about six and a half feet tall, while the leader was nearly eight feet. It was to the level she had to crouch to leave the safe room.

My head only came to just under her chest. If she stood next to me, her breast would be resting on my head. I couldn’t help but look, my mouth slightly open. When noticing my eyes, the men who were also standing up to use the kiosk turned out to be only a little taller than me, and smaller than the women by far.

“Haha… you’ve never seen an Osterian before?” the lead male laughed.

“Osterian?” I murmured. “Is that like the Esmere?”

The tall woman in front snorted. “How are we like the Esmere? Those guys are tiny!”

“Osterians come from the Ost Republic. To be fair, your countries are right next to each other.”

“Hmph…” She frowned. “The mountains divide us from them. Esmere is all hills. Ost Republic is full of beautiful fields.”

“Y-you guys are from the Ost Republic!” I was genuinely surprised at this point.

“Do you have a problem with that?” Her eyes narrowed.

“Ah… this river goes straight into Ost Republic territory… they can boat right to the Mirror Labyrinth. Any attempt to put together a force to stop them would alarm the sea creatures and cause them to attack. So, this island is considered neutral territory, and both sides have decided to not fight on this ground,” Miki spoke up hastily.

The Osterian woman snorted. “At least you know that much.”

“Adventurers know no country.” The large man folded his arms. “It’s considered bad form for Dungeon Divers to hold grudges while in a dungeon.”

“It’s fine!” I shook my head. “I was just a bit surprised is all.”

I managed to smooth things over with everyone. The three men bid farewell and prepared to take the kiosk down to the 20th level. They were planning on trying to break through the 25th on this trip. Harem and her boys decided to stay in the room a little longer before heading down to the 15th. I decided to ask why everyone was here. It turned out it was exactly to meet and hang out with other Divers.

Everyone worth diving could get to the 1st floor, so it was a good place for everyone to meet. It was customary for them to remain on the 1st floor during their safe zone downtime. There, they could greet newcomers and say farewell to those leaving. It helped them keep a pulse on what was going on with the outside world, and there was also talk about the 1st floor having less of a pressure than the lower floors. I didn’t know what they meant, but the others nodded as if this made sense, so it must be a psychological thing. Being around other people and returning to a place where you could leave if you wanted to must comfort them a bit.

As rough as these guys seemed, they wouldn’t have bothered to head up to the 1st floor if they didn’t want to interact with people. It turned out they were good guys after all.

“Hey, before you leave…”

“Oi! What are you doing?”

“Refresh!”

I cast a spell on him.

“Hey… this ain’t bad… wait, you’re a Priest or something?”

“No, I’m a White Mage… we can heal.”

Everyone seemed impressed. I ended up healing and refreshing everyone, including the girls who were now leaving with us.

“You’re not so bad, kid. Go sink your teeth into Dirage. If you can get down to the 20th floor, look us up, and I’ll show you around the Mirror Labyrinth.”

“I’ll do my best.” I bowed, even though I was confident we could probably get to the 30th without too much issue.

Demon’s Head left through the kiosk. After that, we bid Harem’s Boys goodbye, and I finally left the safe room with Titan Fall.

Chapter 504

As we walked back the way we came, they seemed to be moving in a practiced and knowledgeable manner. It could be possible that they were using a Pathfinder ability, so I decided to ask since I didn’t want to walk the entire way in silence.

“No, Faith here has the Pathfinder ability, but on the 1st floor, we’ve taken this path enough that I know where I’m going,” the leading woman spoke.

“Ah, I see…” I said, fearing that this was it for our conversation, but after a moment of silence, she continued.

“Don’t feel disheartened by our comments. We act this way because we want you to be safe. In truth, there aren’t enough skilled Dungeon Divers in this world. While countries fight and squabble, they ignore the true threat, dungeons. These are curses on our land. They suck up mana, create monsters, and pose a threat to the entire world. Remember, the Demon lands came to be because of a single Dungeon that was allowed to fester until it literally became a world threat.”

“So, the Demon castle came first…”

She nodded. “The Demons were once just a creation of a dungeon called Hell’s Dungeon. Yet, because it was far in the north, humans ignored it. Then floods of Demons came out. Eventually, the Demon King appeared and the Demon King’s Castle grew on top of it.”

“They’re two dungeons?”

“No one is certain, but that is the belief. Hell’s Dungeon below, and the Demon King’s Castle Dungeon above. If that is the case, then it’s even more horrifying than one could think.”

“How so?”

“Because it means the Demon King is only the first boss, and there is something more horrifying at the bottom of Hell’s Dungeon. This is the oldest Dungeon this world has. No one knows how old, but at least 1000 years.”

That seemed to make the mood even worse. The thought truly was terrifying. Hell’s Dungeon… I could barely get past level 30. Even the greatest warriors in the world struggled around level 50. What would a level 999 be like? What would a 1000 level final boss be like? However, perhaps because of my weird relationship with dungeons, I asked a different question.

“How would you complete its lore?”

“You’re cute.”

“Eh?” I glanced up at her in a fluster.

“Ah!” She blushed as if she hadn’t intended to say that. “That’s not what I meant! Not saying you’re not cute! I just mean you’re idealistic! You reminded me of myself a few years ago. Wanting to complete dungeon lore… it’s only a myth, I think…”

“If she likes Master, she should just say it,” Lydia whispered to Shao in a quiet voice, but thanks to the acoustics of the cavern ended up heard by everyone.

Shao nodded. “Master’s big enough to satisfy her. He says he likes women of all sizes.”

That was a misquote! I was talking about boob size! Not that I was going to say that out loud here. Besides, even though the Titan Fall leader was large, she was also very beautiful, with large breasts and a voluptuous figure that even her leather armor didn’t hide. She had long curly red hair and freckles on her face, and she gave the impression of an Amazon woman, although her armor was a bit more modern than the fur loincloths someone usually imagined.

I didn’t respond to the whispers, staring straight ahead. Rather than be angry, the other girls in Titan Fall started whispering behind our backs.

“So, that’s why she wanted to take him with us. I can’t believe Captain finally fell in love.”

“And with a human!”

“Love has no boundaries; it’s very sweet.”

The leader’s face had turned completely red, making her freckles even more obvious. Like me, she was staring ahead while pretending she didn’t hear anything.

“My name is Deek, by the way…” I coughed under my breath.

“Ah… Alysia.”

The rest of the walk, the pair of us were quiet, but my girls and her girls started to become a bit more talkative. I didn’t hear their conversations!

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