We reached the exit of the Mirror Labyrinth and exited onto the small island. The five women headed around to the back of the island, where another dock I hadn’t noticed the first time sat. This one had a boat docked. This must be where the Ost Republic landed separately from Aberis.
“The ferry only comes a few times a day. It will be a few hours before they come back,” I admitted.
It had only been two hours since they left us here, so I knew that their last trip was still a few hours from now. Had we missed it, I had the intention of using Portal to return, but it didn’t seem necessary now. However, once the women left, I didn’t really want to wait, so I’d probably use Portal anyway.
Although Alysia’s face was still a bit red, she turned to me. “It isn’t safe to stay on this island with all of the sea creatures. Some of them may come to the surface looking for a snack if you linger too long. How about you come with us?”
“I will drop you off on the Aberis side! It’s not like we’d kidnap you!” Alysia cried out.
The boat was actually a bit larger than our own ferry. It would be able to fit nearly twenty people. Well, that was normal size people. Since these women were quite a bit bigger, the room was a little tighter than that, but it was enough for us. The ferryman had said that he wouldn’t travel with much more than the six of us at a time. The largest group I had seen there was also six people. Was it safe for a group of eleven to be on a boat together, or would that attract the fish?
These were experienced Dungeon Divers, and they didn’t seem to be all that worried about inviting us. Perhaps they were more knowledgeable about the river than the ferryman. It could be that he was just overly cautious because there was only one of him. It was a little risky, but in the end, I decided to trust these women. We weren’t in a dungeon, so it wasn’t like I was putting our lives on the line.
“Celeste…” I whispered to her and then gave the rest of the commands using Slave Communication.
She nodded and then shrunk down to her smallest fairy form. It was about the size you’d expect to see a fairy, the so-called Tinkerbell size. Usually, she remained a bit larger than that, about 12-18 inches. That was her preferred size when she didn’t assume a human size. In towns and villages, she usually maintained her human size and hid her wings so as not to draw interest. In the dungeons, however, she usually remained at her fairy size.
Here, I had her shrink down to her small size to reduce her presence the most. With luck, any predators would only see us as ten people, not eleven. I didn’t stop there. Celeste had control of the wind, so she made sure to lock our presence within the boat. I didn’t know how the animals of the deep detected us, but Celeste could block smells, noises, and the like. I gave an order to Miki too, and she locked our spirits and kept us from being seen with spiritual perception.
As the giant women set on embarking the boat, they saw the girl’s spells and nodded approvingly. Alysia assessed me one more time and seemed to find me acceptable. She had crossed her arms under her large chest and nodded approvingly.
“When you reach our stage, you can conceal your aura. Other than Susan here, we can travel without being seen by the terrors of the deep. Although you’re not at our level, I’m pleased to see you have concocted similar measures, as expected of a Dungeon Diver.”
It turned out that they were at almost no risk from the get-go. Rather, our presence increased their risk since we couldn’t conceal our auras perfectly. I wondered what level Aura Conceal appeared. I wanted to ask, but it didn’t feel appropriate. When I got back to a library, I’d definitely look for that information. Scouts probably got it quickly, but Dungeon Divers should get it too eventually. With the sun still up and the murky dark blue water under us, we set off down the river.
There was a second reason that travel was relatively safe. The arrival journey required you to go upstream, whereas the return had you go downstream. Not only was it faster, but it was relatively quiet. Once clearing the island, the ship was naturally taken away by the current. At this speed, it’d only be about ten minutes until we reach back to where we started. In comparison, it took thirty minutes to reach the dock going upstream.
“I mean what I said earlier,” Alysia suddenly spoke up.
“There aren’t enough Dungeon Divers, and the countries don’t take them seriously. They are the true threat that this world faces. Some people use them as profit, or as training grounds, but every year, hundreds die in the dungeons, and thousands perish because of things that were grown out of dungeons. This world would be a better place if they didn’t exist!”
“Her brother died in a dungeon,” one of the girls whispered to me.
Alysia blushed but acted as if she didn’t hear it. “We need more skilled Dungeon Divers, but we won’t get them unless we work together and train. The countries must all work together, or one day all that will be left in this world is dungeons. You must find the will to continue to dive deeper, even after obtaining your goals.”
“What do you mean?”
“Dungeon Divers must put their lives on the line when they go into a dungeon. Few are willing to make that journey, but those that are usually are looking for something. They want fame, wealth, or power. Dungeons will gladly provide it as long as you survive. That creates a problem, though. Once obtaining what they want, Dungeon Divers no longer have any drive to continue.
“Once they are rich or famous, or are a high enough level that they can walk the surface and dominate everyone, they see no reason to dive deeper and continue to risk their lives. That is the true reason that so few are able to dive deeper than level 50. It isn’t for lack of ability but lack of will. They convince themselves that the Great Dungeons have been around long before they were born, and there is no need to destroy them.
“Some even go so far as to wanting the Great Dungeons to survive. Entire markets are built around the continued existence of certain Dungeons, and if these Dungeons were ever defeated, the people who benefit from them would become enraged. So, you can understand, the dungeon life is a difficult and lonely path.
“I don’t say this because I want to scare you — quite the opposite. I hope you continue to dive deeper. Perhaps, you will actually end the curse of a dungeon one day. Even if you just stopped one, you’d have done more than what most people who call themselves Dungeon Divers have managed in their entire lives. However, if you took up the code… to always dive deeper into the unknown, to grow stronger and stronger until even the Great Dungeons fall… well, that is the path of Titan Fall.
“That’s the meaning of our group’s name. Many think it’s because we are Osterians who have the blood of giants. No, the titans we seek to destroy are the Great Dungeons. Only when the Titans fall can humanity finally rise out from their grasp.”
“That’s kind of poetic.”
She blushed even more. It seemed like Alysia was a girl who got embarrassed easily. Or maybe it was just because it was so apparent due to her light skin and freckles.
“So…” She straightened up. “Will you do it? Will you promise to try to defeat dungeons in earnest? To try to end the curses that blight this land?”
Her words had a feel of oath to them like this was something very important to her. I could only give a helpless smile and nod.
“I might take out a dungeon or two.”
“That’s the spirit!” Alysia smiled at me, and for a moment, my heart beat a bit faster.
She really was a pretty woman, even if she was taller than me by quite a lot. I already was a short guy, only 5 foot 10, so a 7-foot-tall woman definitely towered over me. Yet, the way she was acting was very cute. However, if I kept looking, the other girls would definitely get jealous. I never knew just how Shao would react.
Sometimes, she was extremely tolerant of other women. Other times, she grew extremely jealous. I think it often depended on whether Lydia was nearby or not. She seemed to have a certain magic about her to make the usually jealous Shao suddenly pro-harem. Of course, when Lydia wasn’t around, Shao could be quite scary sometimes when she asked me about girls I had only met in passing. If I didn’t play my cards right, she brought out the knives.
At that point, I had to calm Shao down with heavy petting. Her one weakness was that she was extremely docile sexually, so once I equipped the Pervert job, her aggression disappeared and she purred like a kitten. If Lydia was a tigress that dominated the sexual field, then Shao was a playful cub who followed behind her lead.
As I was worrying about what the pair were thinking in this situation, it turned out they had been plotting all along. The boat suddenly shook aggressively. At first, I had been convinced that a monster from the depths was attacking the boat, but I could hear snickering from some of the Titan Fall women that instantly made me realize what was happening.
Knowing what was happening and stopping it were two very different things. Standing on the boat as I was, the sudden bump caused me to lose my footing. If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear a gust of Celeste’s wind struck my back, ensuring that my fall went forward instead of backward off the boat. The person in front of me was none other than Alysia. Unlike me, she had much better footing and barely shifted as the boat rocked. Instead, her attention had turned to her laughing teammates, who seemed to be in on a joke she had missed.
That was until my face ended up in her cleavage, and my arms wrapped around her body, ending up grabbing her buttocks to keep me from falling.
“Wh-wh-what are you doing?” Alysia cried out as she was suddenly assaulted.
The laughter from her teammates grew even more. As for Alysia, her body tightened up, especially her firm buttocks, as I was all too aware, but she didn’t actually shove me off her.
I pulled my head out of her chest. “I’m sorry! I really am, I tripped!”
“O-oh…” She suddenly looked shy again. “R-really?”
“Really! I should work on having better balance like you.”
“Ah!” She nodded. “Maybe I can show you sometime.”
The boat suddenly thumped again, but this time I didn’t move.
“We’re here!” Celeste announced excitedly.
They hadn’t stopped in the city, as that would cause a problem. Rather, they stopped at the shore on the border of Aberis. We’d need to walk an hour back to Nyphal.
“I guess… we have to go then,” I said.
She wore a slightly sad expression and nodded. “Perhaps, we’ll meet again.”
“What is it?”
“Can you take your hands off my butt?”