Chapter 35: Before a Boss there’s usually a Safe Room to Recover in; Wish that was True in Life
A stupid worry about vampire protagonists popped into my head, but I can’t let it distract me. Although he doesn’t seem like a threat, with the situation as it is, I need to be wary of this guy.
I take a good look at him. His clothes are a dirty, bandit grunt type outfit, but he did say he was trying to infiltrate so I guess I can give him the benefit of the doubt concerning his hygiene. Neither really good-looking nor really bad-looking, the guy in front of me would be an average, normal-looking human man if it weren’t for his coloration.
Rather than the ikemen vampire protagonist, he’d be kind-of good-looking best friend type background character?
I use Analyze on him. This time, I’m unreservedly snooping on someone’s information.
After my rampage, I’m now experiencing a massive load of fatigue. I don’t think I would be able to fend off a sneak attack if he turned out to be an enemy after all.
TYPE: Human – Male – 235 Moons (conversion: 19 Years)
ANALYSIS: An A-rank Adventurer known for his monstrous strength but lack of most magic capabilities. Appears to have an abnormality in mana-conversion. Currently based in Nyl City.
ATTEMPTING TITLE ANALYSIS
[NO OFFICIAL TITLES RETURNED]
Huh. Human? I wouldn’t have guessed that. And the thing about magic is … whatever, not like I understand it anyway. But with this it’s confirmed that he’s an Adventurer at least.
I don’t know if I can write him off as a non-threat even with this, but it was better to use it than not. At the least, it confirmed that he hasn’t blatantly lied about … um…
… Did we actually exchange any information that I can confirm with this Analysis?
Well, at least now I know what they mean by A-Rank. We didn’t fight seriously or exchange many blows, but this guy is at least on the level of someone who can fight evenly with me. I’m not some martial sage, so unless I get a chance to fight him again I don’t think I’ll know for sure how his abilities compare to mine. But there’s a good possibility he’s stronger, if we’re strictly talking about melee combat.
At the least, the uncertainty I have about whether or not I can beat him in a fight should be telling enough how he is compared to the other Adventurers I have encountered so far.
I break into a bit of a cold sweat as I think about the fact that there were supposed to be several A-Rank-like guys with the Dark Wyverns.
Could this have potentially been the most life-threatening situation I had been in since coming into this world?
It’s … kind of like a wake up call.
Here, in this room that stinks of blood, people died that easily. If the situation had been just a little different, I could have died that easily.
I wonder if I’ve been treating life in this world too light-heartedly.
I feel like vomiting.
While I’m in a daze, the man, Ragnall, disappeared into the back room of this small half-basement hideout.
I hadn’t even noticed there was a back room; now that I thought about it, there must have been people flooding in from there too. It DID feel like the numbers didn’t go down no matter how many of them I … cut … down…
My head suddenly felt extremely light.
“Whooa… hang on there.”
I hear Ragnall’s voice and feel him moving me to sit down near the wall. He tilts my head slightly upwards and instructs me to breathe deeply.
As my vision clears, I see Ragnall looking down at me in concern. I wonder when he returned.
“Ah … did I perhaps almost faint?”
“Yeah, but you’re handling it well, considering. Hang on- stay seated a bit longer. You’re not dizzy anymore?”
“Yeah, I’m fine now.”
“Is this your first time killing someone?”
Though he asks, Ragnall’s not really asking. He said it with a serious, knowing tone. Well of course, with my panic attack it was pretty obvious.
I can only nod my head.
Letting out a long breath, Ragnall surveys the room before placing his hand gently on my head and patting it.
“Well, this kind of reaction is natural. Just take your time until your breathing calms and you can stand again.”
He stands, then mutters under his breath,
“Well, it might be good to leave this room soon.”
He seems used to taking care of someone in this kind of state. I’m grateful he’s being gentle with me, but I’m also frustrated at it because it emphasizes my uselessness. Didn’t I realize that this kind of thing would happen in this world? Why is it affecting me so badly?
I give a small sigh and say, kind of self-pityingly,
“It seems like I’m not cut out for this kind of thing.”
“Hm… by this kind of thing do you mean fighting? Or killing? Well, if you’re going to get caught up in a brawl like this again, it’d be better if you got your feelings sorted out. Stepping into a fight with half-hearted feelings is going to get yourself killed.”
The words from an A-Rank Adventurer who has had a lot of experiences hold a lot of weight.
I feel my face get hot as I bow my head and meekly follow him out of the room stained with blood. It wasn’t until later that I realized Ragnall never actually said that I should only fight if I was prepared to kill.
I was beginning to feel even more worthless.
But I didn’t really have time to wallow in my negative feelings.
As soon as we stepped out the door, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I immediately dropped into a stance, prepared to draw my sword.
Naturally, Ragnall noticed the presence as well and had a hand tensely on his hilt, unclasping the strap that held his blade in its hilt with a flick of his thumb. He also moved as if to cover me.
Though I can’t say I’m in a good state of mind for a fight, I’m able to defend myself, you know. But I guess there’s no way anyone would be convinced of that after I nearly fainted.
A shadow came down on us from above, accompanied by a swooshing sound as it brought a blade down on the two of us.
Barely bothering to shift into a stance, Ragnall takes the attack with his blade and sends the attacker flying backwards with just the strength in his arms. Monstrous strength indeed.
As he flew through the air, the attacker shot fireballs at us while chanting before he landed, provoking us to leap out of the way.
Of course we leapt in opposite directions; going the same way and tripping over each other wouldn’t just be embarrassing in a dangerous situation like this.
The attacker landed, then stood up casually.
“Just when I thought something might have happened, I come back and find that girl and the Money-Grubber.”
Ah. It’s that fire guy, what’s his name… the one who was with the guys I threw out of The Queen Mary’s that first night.
It took me a second to realize it, but since I’m “that girl”, does that mean Ragnall is “the Money-Grubber”? That’s … an insult, right? It’s not actually his Famous Name, right?
“Call it ‘being enterprising’ at least.”
Is what Ragnall said cheerfully, tapping the back of his blade against his shoulder. He isn’t feeling insulted in the slightest. He continues, tilting his head at the fire guy.
“So what are you doing here, former B-Rank Adventurer Balil? Ahh, that’s right, I heard you became a babysitter for a group of overgrown children.”
“It’s better than being the lapdog of people who can’t even see what’s right under them.”
“Haha, at least I know I’ll be fed. I wonder if it’s the same in your case?”
… Are they just going to keep insulting each other like this? It’s like watching two cats in a standoff. Well, it seems like Ragnall is actually enjoying the bantering, while Balil just seems reluctant to get into a real fight.
“You greatly underestimate the capabilities of the people I work for. Why don’t you join us? We’ll pay a lot more than that pocket change you’re getting.”
“Haha, I don’t think they could compensate me enough for having to work in the same organization as you.”
Ah, as expected, Balil is losing in the word-play. He glowers at Ragnall, then shifts his gaze towards me and asks,
“Then what about you?”
Tch. In the moment I was surprised by the invitation, Balil rushed in.
I couldn’t judge the distance well when I tried to take my distance so I’m pressed up against a wall. Because it’s a disadvantageous situation, Balil takes advantage of it to try to push his offensive.
You’re too naive if you think I’ll just let you – !
I’m worried that I’ll hesitate and show too many openings if I go to cut him down, so I use my blade for parrying and throw an elbow towards his stomach instead. It will be good to get a proper hilt on my blade so I can use the guard and end for blunt attacks.
Balil barely manages to dodge before coming back and slicing his sword at my face. I block it easily, but he’s in a position that makes it easy to press down from above.
Up against a wall with a sword pressing down from above, it’s difficult for me to get into a stance to fight him off with pure strength, but to be honest it’s not really a crisis for me.
It’s just, before I could use Augment Body to throw him off, he leans in over the sword.
His face is too close-!
“I’m not kidding, you know. You should come join us. I’ll … welcome a woman like you. In more ways than you can imagine.”
He slashes wide on purpose, but Ragnall’s blade-strike succeeds in separating Balil from me, and Ragnall quickly steps between the two of us.
“Oioi, Balil, that’s sexual harassment you know? Sexual Harassment. Ah, well I guess that’s not the worst thing you’ve done since you’ve tossed aside being an Adventurer.”
Though he’s still saying it in a bantering tone, there’s a hint of irritation in Ragnall’s voice.
Balil sneers and ignores Ragnall’s provocation, instead staring in my direction. His gaze feels like it’s licking me all over.
My skin is crawling with horror.
“I’ll get them to stop going after those prostitutes, so think about it. [Conceal]!”
With that last exclamation, Balil throws down a clear orb and disappears.
After a moment, Ragnall relaxes.
“Tch. I can’t sense him anymore. He’s gone.”
He sheathes his blade, still watching our surroundings carefully.
“Well, I’m not being paid to arrest him or anything, so I guess this result is fine”
“And hey, you should just come right out and give that self-absorbed bastard a rejec- Eeeh?! Oi, your face is turning blue! You okay?!”
“Ah … yeah.”
WHAT. WAS. THAT.
I finally un-stiffen and drop into a crouch. No more, I don’t want to deal with this anymore …
This has seriously been the longest night. I can’t even … I hide my face by dropping my forehead to my knees and sigh.
The aftershock of intense anger, the nausea from the gore, the fear that I could have died, and the disgust from being hit on; all of it is swirling inside me to a point where my mind feels like it’s shutting down.
Feeling slightly deranged, I laugh quietly non-stop, head still down on my knees. Is this hysteria?
“H-hey, you ok? No, I guess there’s no way you’d be ok after tonight…”
Ragnall’s worried voice breaks me out of the haze, and after a while I manage to calm down.
I take a deep breath.
“Hey, do me a favor and take that guy out will you?”
“… … …
… HAH?! Oioi, even if he’s completely a bad guy, are you seriously telling me to commit murder here?”
“Yes. Think of it as doing community service.”
“Um, how about no?”
“If it’s you, you have a chance.”
“Yeah, no. I’m not doing any work for free, and even if it’s paid I’m not taking hit requests. Come on, pull yourself togeth- … Could it be you’ve never been propositioned by a guy before?”
I twitch a little. Damn right I’ve never been propositioned by a guy before! Because I was a guy before! Don’t expect ridiculous life experiences from me!
“…Correct. So what?”
I finally lift my head and glare up at Ragnall.
“Ah, no, it’s just kind of hard to believe … I mean, you’re not my type, but … Ah, I don’t mean that, I mean, you’re attractive, but I’m more into women who are …”
Ragnall is suddenly getting flustered. As he speaks his hands start flailing about.
Even if you try to disguise it as a hand gesture, I totally know what you’re thinking when your hands pause at chest level for a second. Because I was a guy too.
No well, since I was a normal high school boy it’s not like I’m immune to the attraction to breasts. Even though I’m indifferent about breasts attached to myself, since I have the chance to be in a female body it did seem a shame that I didn’t have more defined ones … I mean, if I’m going to be female anyway …
Ah, but I don’t really know how I’d feel about it if I ACTUALLY had large ones. I’ve heard that the athletic girls back at school complain about them all the time, so maybe I don’t want them after all …
My mind and its swirling thoughts have completely gone on a weird tangent, but it’s definitely calmed me down. While bantering like this, with Augment Mind going, I can make it a little longer …
“Ah, I get it, I get it. You’re into ‘well-rounded’ women.”
I say that so Ragnall would stop increasing the amount of gibberish he was saying.
“Ah … *cough* Um, what were we talking about?”
“How should I know? Your preferences in women.”
“Uh … oh. Anyway, my preferences aside, I find it impossible to believe that guys haven’t propositioned you before. Your body-style isn’t bad, and you have a really pretty face – Eh? Hold on, I was complementing you though?!”
“… Ah, no, there are various reasons for this…”
I’m sure my complexion got bad again.
After he was convinced I was alright, Ragnall escorted me to the street in front of the red light district before taking his leave. After raiding the Dark Wyverns’ hide out, though I’m the one who really raided it, he had to return to the Guild.
I, on the other hand, didn’t return to my room in the shop.
That is, I went back the The Queen Mary’s, but I didn’t go inside.
Trying not to be noticed, I climbed onto the roof from the outside.
I don’t know if it’s guilt for not being there for them or if it’s because I didn’t know how to face them after losing my head and massacring a room full of men, but I didn’t want to see the girls and Maryiste. I won’t go in.
But even if that … guy … said he’d keep the organization from going after The Queen Mary’s again, that flippant way he said it … *shudder*
Anyway, I don’t really trust him. There’s no way I wouldn’t at least come back to keep watch.
Sitting on the roof, with nothing to distract myself from my thoughts, the negative feelings I’d been trying to suppress come flooding back down onto me. The self-loathing as I think over my weaknesses is especially strong.
I can’t help but wonder if I’m really going to be able to live here. For the first time since I’ve come into this world, I feel like I want to go home.
This was how my second week in this world ended.
I lean back from the desk and rub my eyes.
They’re really starting to hurt.
I have been going through documents for days. That slave-driver halfling has me going through translating all sorts of documents, from various bills of sales and contracts to other items from more questionable sources.
All of this work is because I can read more or less fluently in 4 different languages, along with several others that I can manage with great difficulty.
Aside from reading, the language I can speak fluently are Lorwian and Carnish, and I have the skills Translate: Lorwian-Fernetch, Translate: Lorwian-Orrwyn, and Translate: Lorwian-Inourian.
There’s a reason most of the commissions that ask for me by name are translation or scribe related.
My magic and research abilities are being completely ignored. Even my Famous Name “Learned Wizard” is a reference to my abilities to read, write, and translate in this world where just being able to read at all is something that will get you noticed.
I wonder if I’ve made a mistake somewhere in life.
But I can’t find too much fault in the job this time; that slave-driver halfling, or rather, Dobin, is having me trace a smugglers’ group through their paperwork. Not only do they have dealings with different countries, and therefore in different languages, at times they write in code.
It was a simple code in the end, but having to transcribe all these documents from various languages into Lorwian as well as break the code … I am at my limit.
I’d really like to take a break and get some sleep, but that slave-driv- Dobin is here. He says he has things to do, but I’m certain he’s actually here to ensure I don’t leave until I’m finished.
I don’t understand how that Jun was able to get by with just 3 hours of sleep every night. I am about dead from it.
Florian is here too, but that man is reasonable, unlike Dobin.
As I reluctantly lean forward again to get back to work the door to the office opens.
Ms. Minerva, with her lovely, though severe, looks, holds the door open for the person behind her and announces,
“Florian-sama, Dobin-sama; Ragnall-san has arrived.”
She then bows and leaves, closing the door behind her.
Oh, it’s Ragnall. Pale as always, the reliable-as-long-as-you’re-paying-him Adventurer approached Florian and Dobin’s desks.
If he’s here this late in the night he must have been given a commission directly from the Guild.
“Ah, I’m here about that matter, but …”
Ragnall glances in my direction. As expected, it’s something confidential.
“I see. Then, if you’ll excuse me…”
Saying so, I stand up quickly in order to leave. Chance! I’ll just use this opportunity to disappear for about an hour …
“Oh, don’t mind him. Just act like he’s a decorative plant or something.”
… I reluctantly sit back down. Curse you Dobin-!
Florian laughed lightly.
“Haha. Now now, Dobin-kun. Lor is also working on things related to this case, Ragnall. There’s no problem.”
“Oh, that so? Good working with you again, Lor … ‘tte, oi, are you guys letting him rest properly?”
He’s observant as always, that Ragnall is. Unfortunately, Dobin just dismisses his question with a lazy wave.
“So you came here…?”
“Ah… that’s right. I’m back from raiding the Dark Wyverns. Like you requested, I grabbed all the papers I could find, as well as anything that might be important. There didn’t seem to be all that much, and I’m not sure of the worth of these things, but that’s not my job so I will just hand it all over for now.”
Ragnall handed over a bag lashed tight with a belt. If there are papers, I can say goodbye to most of my day tomorrow then. Ragnall realized it as well, since he’s been shooting apologetic looks over in my direction.
The only person I blame is Dobin. I am running purely on resentment towards that halfling at this moment.
“Good work then, Ragnall. Did you run into any troubles?”
“No, there wasn’t any trouble, technically…”
Ragnall trailed off. Everyone looked up at him as he hesitated a moment before continuing.
“That is … how should I say it … when I got to the place, it was already being raided? A girl, using a weird sword and all by herself, came in and completely wiped them out.”
“Completely wiped them out you say? What do you mean?”
Florian’s usual easy-going look disappeared as he leans forward and questions Ragnall.
“I mean the Dark Wyverns don’t exist anymore after tonight.”
Lone girl? When I hear that, for some reason a certain someone’s face popped into my head. No, it can’t be, haha.
I can’t even begin to try to convince myself that Jun isn’t involved.
“So you say, but won’t someone else become the leader tomorrow?”
Dobin says it carelessly, but he’s right. A group like that can be harder to exterminate than cockroaches. In this case, one would be more worried that they’d take revenge.
“Impossible. I can’t imagine more than 10 people survived tonight.”
At Ragnall’s words, time seems to stop for a moment in the room.
“… Even though they’re still a small group, there should have been over 50 people.”
Florian was the first to recover.
“As you guessed.”
“One girl, by herself? Who was she?”
“She was … eh? Um… I might have forgotten to ask her name. The situation was a bit traumatic for her, so …”
Traumatic for her?! No, I can see that. Despite her ridiculous abilities that girl is really gentle at heart.
“Is she alright?!”
I half rise in my seat and say that a little too loud.
3 piercing pairs of eyes are directed at me.
“Do you know her?”
Florian asks, staring at me seriously.
“… I have my suspicions, but I’m not certain. Did she have dark hair to here, half pulled back?”
I gesture towards my shoulders while I ask Ragnall about the girl he ran into tonight. It might not be that noticeable because of the other races in the city, but hair that dark is rare on humans in this area.
“That’s right! A real pretty girl on the slim side. So you do know her then, Lor?”
“So it seems. Her name is Jun, and she’s a recently registered C-Rank Adventurer.”
There’s no point to hiding that information. If they know her name the Guild can do a search on their system and find it all out. This isn’t staying inconspicuous, Jun!
To my surprise, Dobin seems startled at my response, half rising in his chair.
“Wait, a pretty girl with dark hair half-pulled back … and a strange sword? She’s an Adventurer, not a Craftsman?”
Both Ragnall and I are confused.
Though now that Dobin mentions it, I feel like Jun told me she was or wasn’t adding Craftsman to her Guild Card? The past few days have been a bit fuzzy; I can’t remember exactly what was said.
Dobin rubs his chin.
“No no, I might be mistaken, it’s nothing.”
Florian, who has been watching quietly this entire time, folds his hands in front of him on his desk before he speaks.
“If she’s gotten this far involved, it would be dangerous for this case to let her go on without the Guild monitoring her movements, wouldn’t it?”
“And your true intentions?”
“It would be a waste of a promising talent if we let something like this get to her.”
Florian replies like that, and then fixes his eyes on me.
“So Lor, what are you doing tomorrow?”
I only look down and gesture at the papers on my desk. I suspect it’s wiser not to mention that I made an appointment with Jun, but I also suspect that in the end it won’t matter.
As I expected, Florian smiles and says,
“Go and get some sleep. There’s something else I’d like you to do tomorrow.”