“So, you guys were running from goblins and managed to find your way in here? Unfortunate for you, big guy . ”
The man dressed like a thief laughed out loud as Loren finished explaining what happened to them, with Lapis still on his back .
He looked older than Loren and had a stubble beard . He combed his fingers through his short, brown, unkempt hair and continued to laugh loudly .
“Their party got wiped out but they survived, you know? I would say that that’s the thing farthest from being unlucky . ”
The man who scolded the thief was a warrior as well as the leader of the party, and he introduced himself as Ritz .
His equipment was orthodox for a warrior, with leather armor reinforced with iron plates as well as a buckler and a long sword . All of them seemed old, but they were well kept and he had the air of a veteran around him .
The thief that Ritz scolded snorted and looked away, but the woman, dressed like a hunter with a bow in hand, pulled on his ear and swung his head back .
“Jack, bad att . i . tude . ”
“Ow, that hurts Nim! Stop pulling! What’re you going to do if it comes off!?”
“You don’t need ears if you’re not going to listen . ”
The female hunter glared at the thief named Jack .
The woman, her blue eyes now half open, had stunning blonde hair and from between her hair were her ears, long and pointed like the blades of short daggers .
Although Loren had heard of them before, it was the first time meeting one in person, so his eyes automatically focused on her ears .
“Is this the first time you’ve seen an elf?”
The old man dressed like a magician noticed him staring, and asked him .
He had his white hair pulled back and knotted, and carried a straight black staff in hand, wore a gray robe, and introduced himself as Quartz .
All four of them were silver rank adventurers .
Compared to Loren, who just became a copper rank adventurer, they were two ranks above him, with the iron rank separating them .
It wouldn’t be wrong if he called them veterans .
“Ah, sorry about that . It’s the first time I’ve met one in person . That was impolite of me . ”
Loren didn’t mean to stare, but the others might’ve found his gaze uncomfortable, so he started to apologize, but Quartz waved it off .
“I don’t blame you . She’s quite the beauty, after all . ”
“Quartz, if you want to keep your eyes, shut up . ”
The elf named Nim warned Quartz coldly, who was still laughing .
Loren thought she was joking, but when she used her free hand to pull out a dagger from her belt, he took a step back, with a frightened expression .
“I’m not going to be here much longer, but I don’t want to lose my eyes . ”
“It’s okay, I’ll forgive you with one of them . ”
“Hey, stop messing around in front of them . You’re making them feel awkward . ”
Ritz silenced Quartz, who was acting scared, and Nim, who looked quite serious, and turned to Loren .
“I’d take you guys to the entrance if I could, but we’re in the middle of a quest here . We don’t have the time . We’re competing with another party right now . ”
“Expedition of the ruins near the Village of Ain . Heard of it?”
Hearing Nim’s flat toned voice, Loren recalled a conversation he had with Sarfe and the others .
He remembered that Naron had talked about taking a better quest near Ain, and guessed that they were in the newly discovered ruins .
“We don’t know how dangerous these ruins are, but unexplored ruins usually make good money so we accepted the quest, but we got some compet . i . tion . ”
Jack spat, annoyed .
Quartz continued where he left off .
“We’re currently competing with the other party . The rewards of the quest will differ based on what kind of information we bring back, so we’re in a hurry . ”
What they were trying to say was, they couldn’t help .
But Loren understood and agreed to what they said .
Within mercenaries, people with a credible endeavor, who helped others for free, didn’t exist .
Loren thought that it would be the same for adventurers .
If they were going to pay a price, depending on how tall the stack of coins would get, they might help, but Loren didn’t have that sort of money .
“I know . I have no intention of getting in the way . If you can just point towards the exit, we’ll take it from there . ”
Since he had Lapis on his back, it wouldn’t hurt to have them lead him to the exit .
But he couldn’t ask them to help no matter what because they had their own job to complete .
It wasn’t like he didn’t have a chance at getting out .
If Ritz could tell him the direction of the exit, he would have a general idea of where to head towards, and if he followed the paths that Ritz and his party came through, it would be quite safe because they would have had to cleared out traps and monsters on the way here .
Ritz responded hesitantly to Loren’s words .
Loren thought gloomily that maybe he was trying to make them pay for the information, but remembered that not many things were free in this world . If it came to that, he was ready to ask Lapis for some money .
However, Ritz’s words were something beyond what Loren expected to hear .
“Actually, we don’t know either . ”
“Unfortunate . ”
Loren unconsciously responded in that manner .
In his mind, he was unsure of how Ritz and his party came all the way here, but didn’t know the way back .
If they were copper rank, he could guess that they didn’t map the ruins as they came or just completely forgot, but they were silver rank adventurers .
Even Loren, who still wasn’t too familiar with adventurers, was confused how they came to explore new ruins but don’t know the way out .
“No, it’s not what you think . It’s not like we didn’t map as we came or just forgot . ”
What Loren was thinking must have been written on his gaze . Ritz nervously started to explain .
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Loren was uncomfortable at the fact that he looked at Ritz with such eyes, but it turns out that Ritz wasn’t facing him directly, but more towards his shoulder .
“Some of us were hurt pretty badly, you know? But we made do with the potions that we brought . And that’s where I’d like to talk to you guys about something . ”
“If you mean divine arts, I can use one more time . ”
Before Ritz could even start explaining the details, Lapis raised her head from Loren’s back and cut into the conversation .
Loren didn’t know what she was talking about and Ritz was surprised that Lapis saw right through him, but quickly calmed down .
“I can guarantee that it works better than potions . If you can give me some time, I’ll probably be able to use it once more . ”
Loren glanced at Lapis, confused . Lapis realized what he was trying to say and whispered into his ear .
“They want me to go with them to make up for their lack of potions, probably . ”
The potions that adventurers carried around healed injuries when used, but they weren’t that effective and the effects were not instant, either .
Compared to that, had instant effects and had higher healing capabilities than potions .
“Doesn’t that mean they’ll just get rid of me and then take you?”
“I can’t move, so they’ll probably need someone to carry me, right?”
If they were going to use Lapis as a medicine box, they didn’t need Loren .
Although Loren started to feel danger, Lapis had thought this through already .
“If they use a person from their party to carry me, it would decrease their numbers in a fight . If Loren were to carry me and also protect himself to some extent, they would all be able to fight . Even if they were to leave us behind, it wouldn’t leave as bad of an aftertaste, either . ”
“Do I look that inhuman to you guys?”
Though Loren and Lapis had tried their best to keep their voices down, their whole conversation was heard by Ritz, who asked them with a disappointed face .
Loren and Lapis looked at each other and replied at the same time .
“Quite a bit?”
“Can’t deny that I look pretty rough, but still…”
“Don’t worry . If anyone says take the girl and kill the guy, we kill him on the spot . ”
The rest of the party let out a nervous laugh as Nim continued to say dangerous things .
It seemed that this was the usual for this party, and Ritz gave Loren, who was laughing nervously, his suggestion .
“Sorry, but our conditions are having the young lady use her divine arts on our orders . If you can accept this, I’ll let you guys stick with us until we find a way out of these ruins . How does it sound?”
“We accept . Please take good care of us . ”
Before Loren could say anything, Lapis accepted Ritz’s suggestion .
Ritz looked at Loren, asking if he was okay with her decision . But Loren thought that it was fair for Lapis to choose, as she was the subject of the conditions, and wasn’t going to say otherwise .
“Well then, negotiations are complete . Guess we’ll be taking care of each other until we get out . ”
Ritz then held out his left hand .
Loren glanced at Ritz’s hand and with a smile on his face, trying to look likable, grabbed it with his left hand and shook .
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