83-83 Sage's Cup 1

"I hope your search for the Labyrinth of Sorrows goes well this time.

 In the midst of a crowded tavern of adventurers, a half-elf woman with an eye-catchingly shaped face and a kind smile muttered to herself in front of a small, sorcerer-like man and a slender man with distinctive pale blue hair, who were sitting at the same table drinking malt liquor.

 ──── It was casual, just a wish for the safety of their adventure.

 The small man in front of her didn't think so and put down his glass of malt liquor and said with a snicker.

"──── What are you talking about, Astira? It's going to work, of course. I'm not sure what to make of this.

 In the event that you have any questions concerning where and how to use the internet, you can call us at the web site.

...... Really, how can you say such embarrassing things with impunity, Oaken? In a way, I kind of respect you ......?
"Hmm ────, you're still considered second-rate for saying things like that, Astila? I'm not sure if you've ever heard of it. You should take a lesson from me.
"Yes, yes, ......, but I'm not at all happy about being famous because of hype. It's true that your name is famous, but as a 'smelly guy who brags a lot in bars'? I absolutely hate that kind of thing, so I'll pass.
"......, what the heck ......?

 In the event that you have any kind of questions concerning where and how to use the internet, you can contact us at the web site.

I'm sure you'll be happy to hear that. I'm sure you're ready to go.

"...... Yeah. I've already checked the quantity of tools and equipment I'll need.
 All I need to do is pack my bag. ...... Oaken.
 Most of this stuff is probably your magic gear. Can't you at least do this yourself?
 Why do you always make me do it?

I'm sure you'll be fine.
 You're the most skilled with magic tools out of the three of us. The right person for the job.

...... I thought you were a genius with tools.

It's a good thing that I'm not the only one who has a problem with this. Be thankful.
 You must be some kind of genius. It may be bloodline or constitutional, but you're more than qualified to handle my tools. ...... I'd even be willing to take you on as a servant when I get big in the future.

...... Hey, Oaken? I'm not sure what to make of this.
 It's a good idea to take a look at the website and see if you can find anything that might help you.
 I'm not sure what to make of it, but I'm sure it's a good idea. ...... You haven't done it yet. It's a scam.
"Hmm, you'll get it eventually. I'm a genius. It doesn't matter if I call myself that now.

"...... is. I'm really tired of talking to you, Oaken. Roy. You don't have to take this ...... stuff seriously, do you?
It's okay. Ninety percent of the time I don't listen. I'm only doing it because I feel sorry for the tools that are being handled roughly. He's usually all talk.

"What the hell, ......?
 You guys have been blatantly ignoring my helpful advice for a while now. ......!
"Advice? It's just a bunch of nonsense.
It would be more useful to listen to the birds chirping than to your unworkable words.
d*mn, ......, you're gonna cry, ......? When you treat me that coldly, I'll ...... cry, okay?

 It's a good idea to take a look at the actual information on the web.

 ...... A pain in the ass. Arrogant. An eccentric who talks about himself a lot.
 The two of them were the first two adventurers to form a proper party for the wacky sorcerer Oaken, who had been called that by almost everyone he met and had been shunned.

 It had already been five years since the three of them had formed a party.

"......, are you sure, guys? I'm going to be heartbroken and cry. I'm sure you'll be sad too. Are you sure you want to go to ......?
You're free to go. But if you're going to cry, please do it over there. I don't want people to think I'm one of them.


 The "Cup of Wisdom" had become a well-known party among adventurers in the northern part of the continent.

 They were an uncommonly unbalanced party, consisting only of a sorcerer, a monk, and a scout.
 It also had the strange distinction of having three members of different races.

 ──── Astira, a monk of the rare half-elf race.
 ──── Roy of the Lepi, a minority tribe in the northern part of the continent.
 ──── and the self-proclaimed genius of the human race, the sorcerer Oaken.

 In the event you're not sure what you're looking for, there are a few things you can do. The story begins with Roy being drawn into a "party" of only himself (...).

 A country boy, a country girl, and a freak.
 The name of their party of adventurers came from a cheap silver sake cup that Oken bought from a shady street vendor shortly after they met.

 ──── "The Sage's Cup".

 They were all quirky people, but they miraculously bonded with each other and developed their skills together, eventually conquering several small labyrinths.

 They may have cursed each other verbally, but deep down they liked each other and trusted each other.
 The Cup of Wisdom was a party so good that anyone who saw it would envy them.

I'm sure you're ready to go, so let's go.
"Haha, I'm going to break through this time. If I don't make any mistakes, this labyrinth will be a piece of cake. You can leave everything to me.
"......," he said. Don't lose your footing in the dark this time. ...... If you fall again, I won't help you.
"Yeah, well, I'll be ...... counting on you, Roy ......?

 After making their preparations, they went into the labyrinth as usual.
 This time, they were going to challenge the Labyrinth of Sorrows, located in the west of the Kingdom of Crace.
 It is one of the most difficult labyrinths in the world, and is said to be one of the largest labyrinths currently discovered, aside from the Labyrinth of No Return, and is extremely difficult to break through.

 But ────
 They really were a great party of adventurers.

 The sorcerer, Oaken, was a top-notch sorcerer, despite the fact that he was considered to be a bit of a mouth-breather.
 He was able to eradicate most of the demons in the labyrinth by himself, and with Astira's auxiliary magic, there was no opponent.
 Roy, the scout, did not have any combat skills, but he had all the skills required of a first-class scout, such as searching for enemies, detecting danger, and detecting and guiding dangerous creatures.
 If one of them made a mistake and got injured, Astira, a half-elf, could heal them quickly using her abundant magical power, and it was not unusual for them to go through several small labyrinths almost unscathed.

 Even the most powerful demon called the Gatekeeper, who guarded the core of the labyrinth, could be fought without fear if the three of them fought together.

 Oaken is a sorcerer who constantly fires off magic that has a destructive power that is a joke and out of the ordinary.
 Astira, who specializes in wind magic and uses powerful auxiliary spells that nullify all attacks.
 Roy, with his innate ability to sense danger and his quickness, is able to distract and direct attention with his calm judgment of the situation.

 With their distinct roles, they were really strong when they fought together.
 If they didn't make any major mistakes and fought head on, they would have no opponents, even in the depths of the labyrinth.

 Thus, they defied all obstacles and reached the deepest part of the Labyrinth of Sorrows in a short time.

What is ...... this? Is it possible that this is the core of the labyrinth?

 Oaken, who was the first to enter the room full of mysterious light, shouted quietly.
 What they saw was the most massive core they had ever seen.

'Yeah, I guess so. It's made of the same material as the one we saw before.
...... But it's big. It's a lot bigger than anything I've ever seen.
And this room ...... feels like a strange force field. Somehow, unlike the other labyrinths, there are no demons here.
"Ha, don't be so scared, Roy. I'm not sure what to do, but I'm sure I'll be able to do it. Let's just destroy the core and bring it back.
...... Oh, let's just get this over with and go home. We're already low on food. We'd better hurry.

 And so Roy and Oaken tried to approach the giant blue crystal.

"Wait, Oaken, Roy. There's something wrong with this core.
"...... What?
──── Look out! Get away from ────!

 Astira sensed something was wrong and pushed Oaken's body away as he approached the core.

I'm not sure what's wrong with you, Astila. ────? It's ......, are you okay?

 The next thing you know, half of Astila's body has been swallowed by the blue crystal.

I'm not sure if this is ...... safe, Astila.
Yes,......, at least. But this is probably a labyrinthine trap. It feels like it's sucking the power right out of me.
d*mn it! I thought there was no gatekeeper, but there's a trap here. ......!
...... Oaken, Roy. Don't go near it. You'll be swallowed up.
...... Astira. Can't you get out on your own? I'm not equipped to deal with magical traps.
I don't think so. I've managed to stay here for a while, but ...... my magic has been sucked out of me. I don't think I can do anything about it.
──── Oaken, stay close and help Astira with her magic.
...... I'm on it. ......!

 In a tense situation, Roy sensed a demon approaching around him.

It's not good. ...... demons are coming. There are too many of them.
I'm not sure what to do. At a time like this, ......!
We'll take them out, Oaken. Can we do this in tandem with Astira's assistance?
──── Of course not. Who do you think I am? I'm not letting any of them through. Make sure you cover me, Roy.
Yeah, I got it.


 So Astila was half swallowed, and a whole day passed.
 In the meantime, Oaken and Roy had wiped out the attacking hordes of demons several times, but there was no end to their battle.

The next herd is coming. Get ready, Oaken.
d*mn it, ......! Are they still coming?

 The two of them fought alone, crushing dozens of demons as they came at them.
 But the demons kept coming, one after the other, intermittently, like an inexhaustible stream from the depths of darkness.
 They had been fighting hundreds of demons for a whole day, almost sleepless, without eating or drinking, and they were exhausted to the limit.

 Even in such a situation, Oaken and Roy tried everything they could to pull Astira out of the core.
 But none of them yielded any positive results.
 All three of them were helplessly worn out.  

...... Please run, Oaken, Roy. This is a "near-loss" situation.
 If you continue, you'll be putting yourselves in danger. ────
"What are you talking about, Astira? Don't give up! I've got this: ────!
Oaken, the next wave of demons is coming. Prepare for battle.
...... d*mn it!

 We've just survived one big wave, and now another is coming.
 The frequency is clearly increasing.
 The frequency is clearly increasing, and the number of demons coming in each time is also increasing.
 It was a desperate situation.
 Their strength was at its limit.

 Despite this, Oaken kept calling out to Astira, who was about to be swallowed by the blue crystal.

...... Don't worry, Astira. I'll take care of it. Don't ever give up. ...... I'll get you out.

 However, his face was already as pale as a dead man's, and it was clear that his magic power had been used up to the limit and was depleted.
 He had run out of magic potions for recovery.

 It was clear that there was nothing more he could do.

"...... That's enough, Oaken. That's enough.
"What are you talking about, Astira? I'll help you now. Watch me. I'm going to ────
...... No, we're retreating, Oaken. She's right. We're in danger.
Don't be silly, Roy! You can't just leave your friends here and run!

 It's a good idea to have a good idea of what you're looking for.

Just go to ....... Run, Oaken.
 The three of us have agreed that this is what we're going to do.
 ...... I've had a great adventure with you guys so far. Come on, come on.
"Oaken ......, do as Astira says. Have you forgotten the vow we all made before we came here? ...... That was your idea, too.
Oh, shit! f*ck you. ──── f*ck you!

 Sure, I said it.
 If you feel your life is in danger, get the hell out of there.
 Everyone's life is the most important thing, so protect your own life.
 If I'm in danger, I'll be the first to run, so you should too.
 There's no hard feelings between us, ────.

 The person who said this was none other than Oken himself.

"Oath? I don't give a d*mn about that! Astila, I'm definitely going to ──── you!
"Sorry ────, Oaken.

 I'm not sure if this is a good idea, but I think it's a good idea.

──── Thank you, Roy. Take him outside, please.
"...... I'm sorry, Astira. Please forgive me.
"Hmm, it's okay, Roy. I asked for your help. ──── I hope you're doing well.
Yeah, I'll never forget you.
And ────

 Astira smiled softly as she watched Oaken pass out and be carried towards Roy.   

"When Oaken wakes up, tell him.
 I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that I've had a great time adventuring with you.
"...... Oh. Okay.

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 I'm not sure what to say.

 When I woke up, I found Oaken lying on a bed in an inn.
 I'm not sure what to make of it, but I think it's a good idea.

"...... Roy. Where am I? Why am I here?
"You're awake, Oaken.

"Hey. Answer my question, Roy. ...... What's up with Astila?

 For a while, Roy was searching for words, but then he said in a low voice.

"──── dead. She died defending us.

 At these words, the room fell silent.
 When he saw that there was no sign of anyone but the two of them, Oaken glared at Roy.

"Why ...... Roy? Why did you abandon me?
"...... It was her will. If she hadn't, we would have been wiped out. She saved us.
"...... f*ck you!

 Oaken banged on the wall beside the bed with a shout.
 Oaken glared at Roy and shouted, unconcerned that his fist had sunk into the wood and bled into the wall.

Why did you stop me, Roy? Why did you give up so quickly? I could have saved you! I would have ...... I would have ────!
"Face it, Oaken. You were exhausted. You were exhausted. If we had stayed there, we would have been 'all lost' for sure. She made the right decision at that moment.
"──── You've got to be kidding me. I can't accept that. I'm still ────!
Admit it. Admit it. ...... was clearly out of our league. Be considerate of her feelings. She's got some words for you. At least listen to them before you go to ────.
"──── Enough. I understand.
What? ...... What do you mean, you understand?

 Oaken pointed his bloody palm at Roy and said, squeezing his voice from the back of his throat.

You and I are no longer ...... friends. I don't want to be ...... associated with anyone who will easily abandon their friends and run away first.
"......I see. ......

 For a few moments, a heavy silence fell between them.
 Roy also opened his mouth quietly.

I don't want to be with anyone who doesn't ...... care about the promises they make to their friends, either.

 Hearing this, Oaken turned his back on Roy and slowly got out of the bed he was lying in.
 He then picked up his belongings from where they had been packed and began to put them on.

──── So, it's settled. The Cup of Wisdom is disbanded for today.
"...... Ah. You can do whatever you want. ...... You're the one who started it. ...... You can do whatever you want at the end.
"Yeah, we'll never get together again. I never want to see your face again .......

 Oaken left the room with his wounds still unhealed.

 And so, ──── that day, the influential party "The Philosopher's Cup" was dissolved.

 The death of a comrade caused the other members to fall out and the party to suddenly disband.
 It was a common story among adventurers.
 It was a story so common that it was not even served as a snack.

 One goes on a wandering journey, and one returns home.
 Such is the end of the dreams of common adventurers.
 And so ends the story of the adventurer's party, The Cup of Wisdom.

 ────, but that was not the end of the story.

 Their story didn't end there, but rather began to move (・・・・) from there.