At the sight spread before them, Rhodes gave a bow towards Rei.
In order to pierce the Blue Caterpillar’s wind barrier, Rhodes used a technique that could be considered his trump card. That attack did indeed penetrate the Blue Caterpillar’s wind barrier. But because the attack’s power was too high, it blew the Blue Caterpillar’s body apart into fine pieces. A piece of the Blue Caterpillar’s head rolled around while the rest of the body near the tail was tied down to the ground by the Thorns Spear. In other words, the most valuable part of the monster, its magic stone, had been shattered into pieces.
Rei looked at Rhodes, who had his head down, and gave a sigh.
「Well, what you’ve done is done.」
If he had been an ordinary adventurer……especially an adventurer with financial issues at this time of the year, they probably would have made a big fuss about it. Luckily, Rei wasn’t pressed for money, even if his goal for this subjugation request was to collect magic stones. It might have gone bad if there was only one Blue Caterpillar and Rei wanted its magic stone, but fortunately, they had to hunt 6 of them. Because of that, he judged it wouldn’t be too hard to obtain another magic stone and forgave Rhodes easily.
「I’ll say this in advance, but be prepared to lose this share of the reward for this mistake.」
Of course, he didn’t forget to remind Rhodes.`
「Ah, I understand.」
Rhodes nodded with a sigh before pulling his dagger out from a sheath he wore on the opposite side of his longsword and starting to strip the teeth that could be sold as materials as well as its right feeler which served as the proof of subjugation.
Seeing that, Rei grabbed the Thorns Spear that was pierced into its body and removed the thorns growing out from it before pulling it out.
(The Thorns Spear, huh. It’s a pretty good magic item, but it’s a pity I can only make thorns while the tip has stabbed into something. If the thorns would remain after pulling it out, it would be quite versatile.)
Thinking about the Thorns Spear in satisfaction, he wiped off the fluids from the Blue Caterpillar using a cloth taken out from the Misty Ring before storing it and switching out for the Death Scythe. By that time, Rhodes had finished stripping off materials and was ready and waiting for Rei.
Since Set had nothing to do, he spent his time watching the surroundings.
Maybe he had inherited some of Rei’s preferences from the Magic Beast Art, apparently he didn’t have the appetite for Blue Caterpillars.
「Well then, onto the next one. Set, I’ll leave it to you again.」
When asked by Rei, Set ran up into the sky again.
A flying slash release from the Death Scythe’s skill easily tore through the Blue Caterpillar’s wind barrier, slicing into its soft body. It was several hours after they had hunted their first Blue Caterpillar. Finally, Rei and Rhodes hunted their sixth one and gave a sigh of relief.
「It’s finally over. It’s getting dark and it would be better to return to the city before sunset.」
「I agree. Lunch was simple and I would like to eat something warm for dinner.」
Stripping off its teeth and right feeler with a knife, Rhodes grimaced slightly while cutting the bouncy flesh of the Blue Caterpillar. Rei agreed with Rhodes as he washed away the fluids from the Blue Caterpillar covering its magic stone using water created from the Dagger of Flowing Water.
Rhodes gave a sigh at Rei’s words.
「Lunch was simple……that’s what it’s like having an item box.」
Rhodes seemed to mutter that in exasperation, but as Rei had heard those words countless times, he continued on without any particular concern.
「Thanks to that, it’s possible make some food and not just eat dried meat and bread.」
「Oh, is that so. However, when I take a request with you, I’ll get too used to the luxury when I have to go back and work with my dad and mum……what happened?」
As Rhodes spoke, he suddenly saw Rei stop moving and asked on reflex. Of course, he didn’t forget to prepare himself to pull out the longsword at his waist at any time in case something went wrong.
Rei wiped the fluids of the Blue Caterpillar off his knife using a cloth taken from the Misty Ring. Next to him, Set was vigilantly looking at the surroundings with a sharp gaze, ready to act if anything happened.
(I felt someone looking at me for a moment……however, that feeling disappeared immediately. In that case, did I just imagine it? No, looking at Set, I’m sure he’s wary of the surroundings. I think it’s safe to say I didn’t imagine it. But in that case, did they stop looking the moment they noticed I realised it? But there’s no sign of them in the surroundings……is there?)
Set understood what Rei was asking at that short question. However, he could only give a small cry and shake his head in reply.
(So it’s impossible even for Set. Then, the moment I noticed them, they were already leaving……no, in that case, Set wouldn’t miss it with his senses. Then……it can’t be, teleportation?）
Rei quickly collected the thoughts in his mind and came to a conclusion.
Speaking of teleportation, the first thing that came to his mind was the magic item for teleportation that had been created by alchemists from the Bestir Empire. There was also the possibility that space magic had been used, but Rei dismissed the thought as he hadn’t run into any other mages that could use space magic aside from Grimm, the Lich Lord.
「Hey, Rei. What happened all of a sudden. Is it another monster or something?」
「……No, it was just my imagination. I might be getting tense after leaving the city for the first time in a while.」
(Have they reached back into Gilm without learning their lesson……or are they aiming for me?）
Rei shook his head at Rhodes but kept thinking to himself.
In the end, he had interfered with their assassination plan targeting Elena in the dungeon and captured an alchemist who had been secretly working in Gilm in addition to two Demon Soldiers. Given that it was difficult to dispatch people to the frontier, Rei was just a nuisance to the Bestir Empire. And because they had suffered damage from him, given the possibility of suffering similar damage in future, they would naturally consider eliminating him.
(However, in this wilderness, it’s easy to detect even a small number of people. Especially since I have Set. Because of that, they will probably aim for when I’m in downtown.)
「Any how, we’ve defeated 6 Blue Caterpillars as requested. Even if we stay here, I’ll just get cold, let’s just get back to the city?」
「Ah, right. I also remembered there are a few things I need to do.」
「What do you need to do?」
「I just remembered I have to run a small errand. I’m sorry, but I’ll have to head straight back to my inn after handing over the proofs of subjugation. I’ll leave you to tell your family that I’ll miss the celebration.」
「Celebration……I’ve only just completed a request, there’s no need to do something that exaggerated. Well, let’s go. I don’t want my mother to worry because I’m late to return to the city.」
「Ah, that’s true.」
「……Hey, are you really okay?」
If it was the usual Rei, he would have responded with something to tease him at that point. Seeing that Rei’s mind seemed to be elsewhere, Rhodes asked if he was really okay.
「Mm? It’s nothing. I just have some business to deal with.」
「Then, do you want to get on Set and head back to Gilm first? I don’t mind.」
Although Rhodes turned to look at Set, Set turned his head the other way as usual and ignored him.
Rei shook his head while patting Set and smiling involuntarily.
「No, I’m not in a hurry to go back. Besides, I don’t know what Elk and Min would say if I told them I left you behind and headed back to the city myself.」
(And, if it’s really the Bestir Empire that is targeting me, there’s a possibility that Rhodes, who took this request with me, will be targeted as a hostage. If I return to Gilm, Elk will be there. Until then, it would be safer to act together.)
Rei was thinking like that, but Rhodes raised his eyes as soon as he heard those words.
「Hey, I’m not a kid who needs a guardian or a newbie who just registered with the guild. There’s no problem even if I head back myself.」
「Don’t be so stupid. In the first place, it’s dangerous to go outside the city alone, you should know that better than I do.」
Acting alone outside the city. Thinking about it normally, it was a suicidal act. If it was near the city that had been developed to some extent and wasn’t on the frontier, there would be some people who would head out by themselves. However, Rei and Rhodes were on the frontier. Unless they were someone confident about their own strength, overestimating their strength or knew nothing about the frontier, they wouldn’t work alone outside a city on the frontier.
(Well, as a rank C adventurer, he must have confidence in his own strength……but even so, acting alone isn’t an action a skilled adventurer should take. ……He might be influenced by other adventurers who say that he’s leeching off his parents fame.)
Despite disagreeing, Rhodes cooled down after hearing Rei’s words and reluctantly headed back to the city with Rei.
「Yes, your guild card is all good. And here’s your Necklace of Subservient Monster.」
Completing the usual procedures with Ranga at the entrance to Gilm, Rei stored his guild card back into the Misty Ring and hung the necklace on Set’s neck.
「Even though you earn enough money……in addition, why a request at this time of the year? You didn’t go solo as you usually do either, but went with Rhodes-kun from Axe of the Thunder God.」
「Well, I wonder why.」
Ranga looked a little puzzled when Rei replied as such.
「Could it be something I shouldn’t ask about? Then I won’t ask any more.」
「No, not at all. I really wonder why I bothered to take up a request at such a time. All this was Elk’s idea.」
「Wow, that is……」
Ranga had been the captain of the guards for a while, so he knew of Elk’s unrestrained behaviour. ……In other words, he knew of Elk’s haphazard nature of doing things if it interested him and turned to look at Rei sympathetically.
「Well at the very least, at least the monsters I killed can be used to feed Set. However, it seems Set doesn’t want to eat the Blue Caterpillars.」
Of course, Set seemed to say with a cry.
「Ahahaha. Well, Blue Caterpillars are very ferocious. As a city guard, I’m glad their number has been reduced. There’s been some damage by them recently.」
Finishing the light conversation, they entered the city of Gilm.
He went to the guild with Rhodes and handed over the materials and proofs of subjugation. They also sold the magic stones and split the rewards. Of course, Rei took two of the magic stones in exchange for less of the reward. Having done that, he evaded Elk, who invited him for a party, and Kenny, who was going to invite him out for a meal, before walking around the city with Set.
Rei felt someone looking at him again and thought to himself. Set ate the sandwiches bought by Rei while walking restlessly down the street.
(As expected being in such a crowd makes it hard to pinpoint their exact position.)
It was already into the evening and people in the city were eating or heading for a bar. It was quite crowded with people leaving from work. The person looking at Rei had disappeared into such a crowd and Rei was unable to identify him.
Set gave a dissatisfied cry as it seemed impossible to find the source from the crowd.
(In that case, I should lure them to a place that isn’t that crowded. Considering what happened when I was out for the Blue Caterpillars, it’s highly likely that they will run away the moment they realised I’ve lured them in. Still, I’m not interested in having someone watch me for so long.)
「Sorry, Set and I need to do a little more work. Please play again tomorrow.」
In the cold weather that wouldn’t be strange for snow to fall, Rei told that to a few children who had come to play with Set.
「Eh! We only just got to play with Set.」
「That’s right. Hey, he’s eaten the dried meat I brought. So, just a bit longer!」
Although they protested, Rei and Set were finally able to leave after about 5 minutes without having to call for the caretakers of the children.
「……Well then, let’s go.」
With a wry smile at the vivaciousness of the children, he entered a back alley where few people in Gilm would walk. Confirming that someone was still looking at him……he continued walking down the back alleys, which were like a maze to those unfamiliar with them, finally reaching a dead end.
「Will a demon appear, or will it be a snake.」 TLN: Japanese idiom meaning you can’t predict the future.
While muttering, Rei took the knife he used to strip materials out from the Misty Ring.
As expected, in such a narrow alleyway, long weapons like the Death Scythe, which Rei specialised in, were not easily wielded.
However, he hid it inside his Dragon Robe so as to conceal his weapon to the enemy at first glance. The reason why he didn’t use the more powerful Mithril Knife for throwing was because it was already visible.
「It’s already too late to hide yourself.」
Despite the alleyway being a dead end, someone had followed Rei and Set, watching them all the way. It was very different from the time Rei was outside the city, he could feel the other party’s determination……after a few minutes, a person appeared from the alleyway they had just come from.
「Oh dear, I was quite confident of my stealthiness……rather, I didn’t think you could detect my gaze that easily.」