Develop 207

Chapter 207 The Reason for the Increase in Monsters

Edited by: Kanaa-senpai

 During the 11th dark week of Water Star, I was meeting with a certain individual in the reception room.

 ”Well, even though I requested this meeting, I apologize for making you wait for two weeks.”

 ”No, it was my fault for not informing you specifically about the time for the meeting. Kuune-san, you don’t need to apologize.” (T/N: Mentioned on Chapter 197)

 The person I was meeting was Kuune, a researcher of the labyrinth as previously reported by Lewya.

 Although it had been over two weeks since I decided to have this meeting, it was because when I mentioned that we didn’t need permission to enter the labyrinth together, Kuune-san hired an escort and went to investigate the labyrinth on the same day.

 Unaware of this, I made time and sent someone to call Kuune-san from the inn. However, I found out that Kuune-san had gone to investigate the labyrinth while still staying at the inn. I informed the innkeeper to contact our mansion when Kuune-san returned, and this morning, two weeks later, we received the message.

 Although I didn’t know Kuune-san personally, I thought that researchers, even if given a little time, would become engrossed in their research and not be available for a meeting. So, as soon as I received the message, I sent someone and now we are facing each other, Kuune-san and I.

 Kuune-san was a woman in her thirties or forties, with messy, long, chestnut hair and dark circles under her eyes that reminded me of a little bit of Mei from a while ago.

 It seemed more like she was too lazy to bother cutting her long hair, rather than intentionally growing it out.

 ”Let’s keep the formalities to a minimum and get to the main point. Have you discovered anything in the past two weeks of investigation?”

 ”Yes, I’ve found various things, but before that, may I ask how much knowledge Master Neil has about the labyrinth?”

 ”Well, I did some research before starting the exploration, so I would say I have a more detailed understanding compared to the average person.”

 ”I see. Do you know that the labyrinth core attracts monsters?”

 ”Of course, in order to create duplicates, you need the original source monster, the core. So it’s true that all labyrinths have the power to attract monsters, right?”

 ”That’s correct. As a result, the number and variety of monsters around the labyrinth tend to be higher than elsewhere. But to be clear, the number here is abnormal. With just one core, it can produce multiple duplicates. Therefore, it’s basic for a labyrinth to attract about three types of monsters, including reserves.”

 ”According to the reports from my subordinates, it’s clear that most of the monsters far exceed the three types.”

 ”First and foremost, a monster can only become a core if it exists within the labyrinth’s domain of control. Those outside the domain cannot be used as cores.”

 ”So, the large number of monsters around the settlement might not be for utilizing them as cores, but rather for another purpose.”

 ”Yes, that’s correct. However, based on the current situation, we can make some educated guesses about their purpose.”

 ”The number of monsters around the settlement started increasing around the time when the population of the settlement began to grow. It’s easy to imagine the labyrinth’s purpose.”

 The purpose of the labyrinth increasing the number of monsters was probably to warn against the population increase in the settlement area, and to fight against it, they summoned monsters.

 As a result, it ironically attracted people who make a living by hunting.

 So, for the labyrinth, it’s a bitter irony. In response to my answer, Kuune-san puts a finger on her lips and shows a hint of contemplation.

 ”Master Neil, are you suggesting that the labyrinth core gathered monsters for self-defense?”

 ”Yes, but is there something bothering you?”

 ”While it is true that the labyrinth core has the power to attract monsters, it is only enough to attract them, not to immediately summon them. In other words, even before Master Neil received reports of increased monsters in the settlement, the labyrinth core should have been summoning monsters.”

 I see, the labyrinth is not summoning monsters.

 It simply lures them to come on their own, which naturally takes time for them to travel.

 I had mistakenly believed that it summoned monsters in response to the increase in population in the settlement, but considering the travel time for the monsters to reach the settlement, it means that the labyrinth had been summoning monsters even before that.

 ”But then, what triggered the labyrinth to start summoning monsters?”

 ”Most likely, it was waiting for the Beginning Star when the monsters become more active due to the warmth. During the Ice Star and Harvest Star periods, many monsters do not attempt to leave their habitats, and even if one tries to summon them, they would not gather.”

 ”Even so, hasn’t it been quite a long time before the monsters started gathering? No matter how far they were summoned from, I find it hard to believe that it would take a whole year for them to gather.”

 This world revolves in a cycle of Beginning Star → Water Star → Flame Star → Ice Star → Harvest Star.

 The banquet took place at the end of the Beginning Star, people began flocking to the settlements at the beginning of the Water Star, and the increase in the number of monsters was confirmed just at this time.

 In other words, according to Kuune-san’s account of starting to summon monsters after waiting for the Beginning Star, it would take approximately 90 days, or a year, for the monsters to gather at the settlement.

 Although there would be some time between the gathering of monsters and the recognition of their increase in the settlement, even considering that, it seemed unlikely that it would take a whole year.

 ”It’s not like it gathered them immediately upon entering the Beginning Star. That was the time when the monsters also became active and started coming out of their dwellings, feeling agitated due to hunger. The labyrinth begins gathering monsters around the middle of the calmer period of the Beginning Star.”

 ”Why wait for the monsters to calm down?”

 ”The labyrinth core has a method of attracting monsters that is somewhat like hypnosis. It doesn’t work well when they are agitated, so unless they are calm, it cannot attract them. It’s a different story if a large amount of magic power is consumed.”

 ”So, it’s around the middle of the calm period of the Beginning Star when the monsters have settled down. Indeed, from that time, it might be around the beginning of the Water Star. However, in that case, what triggered the labyrinth to start attracting monsters?”

 It must have been possible to attract monsters from ancient times, so there must be some reason for suddenly starting to attract monsters.

 ”Also, I have one more question. Has there ever been an attack on the settlement by monsters in the past?”

 ”Yes, there was once during the Ice Star period when hungry Galvs attacked the settlement.”

 ”Anything else you can recall? Apart from the attacks, any other memorable events?”

 ”Apart from the attacks, well, there was an incident a few weeks after the attacks where a Gipner abducted a child from the settlement. That’s the only other event related to monsters that I remember.”

 ”There were two incidents during the Ice Star period, but since then, there have been no monster-related incidents, huh? The number of monsters has increased… I see, I’m starting to understand the nature of this labyrinth core.”

 ”So, does that mean the labyrinth is involved in those two incidents? Or is it possible that the incidents were simply caused by the monsters, unrelated to the labyrinth?”

 ”I can’t say for certain, but I believe the possibility is very high. Especially with the Gipner, it’s almost certain. They are monsters that prefer to eat humans and tend to make nests near human settlements. So, the fact that a Gipner appeared in a settlement that is far from human habitation and not very populous clearly indicates that the labyrinth core attracted it. And if the labyrinth core summoned the Gipner as a source for creating duplicates, it wouldn’t have allowed the Gipner to be defeated.”

 ”So, you’re saying the labyrinth summoned the Gipner to instigate the settlement?”

 ”Yes, otherwise there would be no explanation for why the Gipner appeared in the settlement before the population increased, and why the labyrinth would instigate the Gipner. As for the Galvs… I can’t say anything because I don’t have detailed information. Do you have any reports on the behavior of the Galvs or the direction they came from?”

 ”Behavior of the Galvs and the direction they came from? In terms of behavior, they seemed hungry and agitated… As for the direction, I believe it was southeast.”

 When the monsters invaded the settlement, I didn’t witness the moment, but I remembered the position of the wooden fence that the monsters broke through, so I told Kuune-san about it.

 ”If they were in a state of hunger and agitation, the possibility of being controlled by the Labyrinth Core is low, maybe? But if it was just a slight influence… By the way, how was it during the Gipner incident, Master Neil?”

 ”There didn’t seem to be any particular signs of agitation during the Gipner incident. As for the direction, I remember that the children affected by Gipner were heading south. You’ve been concerned about the direction since earlier, is there something specific?”

 ”The Labyrinth Core expands its dominion centered around itself. One common misconception is that the Labyrinth Core is located at the center of its dominion. However, it simply expands its dominion around the Labyrinth Core, and it’s also possible to skew the dominion. So even if the dominion spreads in a circular shape, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Labyrinth Core is at the center of that circle. In the past, someone misunderstood and thoroughly investigated the outer edge of the dominion to reveal the shape of the labyrinth, and then launched an all-out attack on the center of the labyrinth with all available forces. The result was a failure. They should have retreated at that stage, but they pushed forward with the entire force, and the unit was annihilated.”

 ”What does that have to do with the direction?”

 ”I have been studying the labyrinth for many years in the kingdom’s settlement. The research covers various aspects, not only the labyrinth itself, but also the study of the monsters attracted to the labyrinth. While observing the movements of the monsters from all directions, I noticed that the monsters attracted to the labyrinth were heading towards a specific point. And the fact that the monsters attacking the settlement were coming from that point as well.”

 ”Could that specific point be the core of the labyrinth?”

 ”Most likely… I reported this to the nobles who manage the kingdom’s settlement, but due to the failure of the past incident where all forces were deployed and annihilated, they have become completely conservative regarding the labyrinth and cannot conduct investigations. So we haven’t obtained confirmation.”

 ”…If the Galv incident was the work of the labyrinth, then if something similar happens next time, it means there is a high possibility that the attack will come from the direction Galv invaded, right?”

 ”Yes, and if the Labyrinth Core is not actively gathering monsters as the source, there is a very high possibility that they are gathering troops for the next attack. Especially if both the Galv and Gipner incidents were the work of the labyrinth, they have already failed twice, so they will definitely gather enough forces to crush the settlement next time.”

 Recently, there has been a sharp increase in monsters. If they have all been gathered to destroy the settlement, their numbers would be more than a hundred or two hundred.

 The purpose of the labyrinth that gathers monsters seems to be to crush the settlement with overwhelming numbers.


 With the worst premonition crossing my mind, I was at a loss for words.

 Can we really deal with a large horde of monsters with our current strength?

 Moreover, the people in the settlement are here mainly to earn money, and there are hardly any people who would fight for the sake of the settlement when it is in danger.

 If they learn that a large horde of monsters is approaching the settlement, they would probably flee from the settlement right away.

 If that happens, there will be only a few remaining forces in the settlement, and it would be hopeless to deal with the large horde of monsters with such limited strength.

 ”For now, it seems that the priority is to build defensive positions and determine the detailed invasion directions of the monsters.”

 ”Yes… How long do you think it will take to determine the invasion directions?”

 ”If we have the information about Galv’s invasion route that we heard earlier and the results of the two-week investigation… it would take a minimum of three days, but there is a possibility that Galv’s case is unrelated to the labyrinth, so if we exclude that, it would take about a week.”

 ”Understood. Please provide accurate information as soon as possible. I will cover the expenses for the investigation.”

 ”Thank you. In that case, I would like to proceed with the investigation as soon as possible. Excuse me now.”

 Kuune-san lightly nodded and then promptly left the reception room.

 After Kuune-san left, I sighed, leaned back on the sofa, and Diana, who had been quietly waiting behind me, spoke up.

 ”Master Neil, you may feel uneasy, but at the moment…”

 ”I understand. Instead of feeling down, it’s better to act as soon as possible. Diana, contact the architecture firms one by one. Even at this stage, we should be able to secure land for constructing defensive positions and preparing trenches.”

 ”Is it okay to proceed without waiting for Kuune-sama’s investigation results?”

 ”Just because we don’t know the exact direction of the invasion, there is no doubt that an attack will come from the direction of the labyrinth. Clear a large area on the east side and secure a location. If there is still time, it’s also an option to establish defensive positions across the entire east side rather than focusing on a specific area.”

 ”Understood. I will make the arrangements immediately.”

 ”I’m counting on you.”

 Diana hurriedly left the reception room, and I was left alone, taking a deep breath.

 It was certain that merely preparing a defensive position would not be enough to fend off the approaching swarm.

 As soon as we knew the direction of the invasion, we would need to set traps along the way.

 Even at the stage of possibility, it was uncertain whether the monsters outside were truly gathered as an attacking force, and it was not guaranteed that all of them would join the attack. However, when I heard about this possibility from Kuune-san, I felt a strange conviction.

 It was an unquestionable certainty, as if fitting the final piece of a puzzle, because in this world, there truly existed gods who tested humans.

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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
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