Translator: Kurehashi Aiko
VOLUME 2 CHAPTER 5: Dragon-san Smooth-Talks
We continued our work, and when the sun was little past noon we managed to gather all the herbs we needed, so we decided to take a short break.
「Noct-san, you are a rather peculiar person, aren’t you?」
We ate the sandwiches we bought while we were still in the city, and Elvie said that quite abruptly, much to my surprise.
「Why do you think so?」
「Despite being the highest rank Hunter, you don’t belittle others. Moreover, you try to act friendly towards people, but at the same time your handsome face makes you slightly difficult to approach. I get a feeling that I could talk to you pretty much about anything.」
I wonder why he said that to me?
「Well, I am but a Hunter. Nothing more and nothing less.」
「True, but that doesn’t change the fact that you stand at the very top of the ladder.」
「Best not to dwell on the small details.」
「You truly are a peculiar person, Noct-san.」
Elvie smiled bitterly and fell silent, as if trying to recall something.
After thinking for a while, he opened my mouth.
「Noct-san, you had to take down lots of demons and monsters to earn your rank, isn’t that right?」
「Yeah, you’re right. I wasn’t only dealing with normal monsters, but demons as well.」
「So, have you ever encountered one of them? Evil spirits that devour monsters?」
Compared to a moment ago, right now Elvie was looking at me with a very serious look in his eyes.
I could see it in his eyes that there was a reason behind that question, so I answered him while becoming curios myself.
「…… I have heard the stories, but why do you want to know about an evil spirit like that?」
‘Demons’ doesn’t have one particular shape or physique.
Even though they do have some common properties, they must always be looked upon as individuals with their unique sets of properties.
However, sometimes the demons may grow so twisted or powerful that their properties may become a sort of their very own trademarks, earning them unique names as a result.
Such demons may even come to invade the human settlements, being so strong that they would automatically earn a classification of Level 1 Dangerous Beast on the Guild’s scale. Many demons also liked to fight among themselves.
Although there were information on some of them in the Guild’s records, there were far more demons out there that may have been still unknown or undiscovered.
But the evil spirit that Elvie was talking about was even beyond that scale.
Also, I believe that there is no illustration of evil spirit in Guild’s reference books.
「Would you believe me if I told you that I have encountered this creature?」
There was definitely something in his eyes that wanted to know the answer, but when he hesitated to speak up, instead he only smiled vaguely.
「I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked. Please, forget about it.」
「No, I mean……」
「Well then, Noct-san, shall we head back?」
Elvie said that despite the fact that he didn’t even finish his sandwich, and so it was so sudden that I had no other choice but to nod my head and drop the subject.
「There is still some time until the sun goes down. Is this going to be enough for your materials collection?」
「Not really, but with this much I can procure the rest in town. I would like to avoid staying here until it gets dark if I can help it. Safety comes first, as they say.」
That much sure is true, but I still can’t help it but look at him with curiosity.
「Well then, why didn’t you try to buy those things in town to begin with?」
「Umm, this is…… Those things are a little bit pricey, but that’s perfectly okay!」
「You told that receptionist earlier that you wouldn’t have enough money for your living expenses, so wouldn’t that be bad?」
I let out a heavy sigh, hearing how hard those words came through his mouth.
「Listen, you and I are Hunters, so it makes us equal. So for showing me the way here I must give you an appropriate award, and in turn you may ask me to give you even more for your services. So stop pretending like you are sorry about it. I judged that under that condition this request can be easily cleared. So you don’t need to hold yourself back.」
「…… I’m sorry.」
Elvie hung his head, apparently feeling guilty about that situation.
Umu, as long as you understand then everything’s fine.
「Right, so, what do you need?」
「Umm, it’s the roots of a plant called Cassia. I’ll need about three portions of it.」
「Hm? Do you use it to strengthen some metal?」
Cassia’s roots were supposedly used by both blacksmiths and craftsmen in order to forge weapons and craft magical tools. I remember that Belga once told me that when she was crafting something herself.
「It seems that you know your stuff. You see, for my extracurricular activities I am producing some magical machines, and then I sell them so that I can get money out of it.」
Actually, I didn’t needed to know a detail that was this depressing.
「So that’s why, huh?」
「I mean, it’s something I do at school.」
Elvie laughed while looking a bit embarrassed about that explanation of his. Oh well, looks like the Cassia herbs are now our utmost priority.
「So, we’d better start searching for the sake of your living expenses.」
「Thank you so much, but I’m afraid that Cassia does not grow in groups and is difficult to find. What’s more, it’s above ground part is really difficult to distinguish, so it will be a miracle if we manage to find even a single one of them.」
「Okay, but it is supposed to grow around here somewhere, right?」
「Umm, I guess. Umm, Noct-san?」
I heard Elvie’s distressed voice, but I was too busy with squatting down, putting my hands on the ground and concentrating my thoughts to pay that any mind right now.
As usual, when I connected my mind to the leyline, I could see clearly the threads of magical energy that were connecting with every plant in the vicinity as clearly as day.
Now, I would be able to find the real thing by following its magical waves’ pattern.
Let’s see…… Cassia, Cassia……
「…… Found it. One it as your ten, the other one is at my three.」
「Eh, you have found it? How!?」
Elvie sounded surprised, to which I laughed cheerfully.
「Well, that is my little secret. But anyway I’m glad that it is not all that far away. Let’s go do some digging!」
Although it seems that Elvie was somewhat suspicious of me, he still started to follow my lead and soon enough, when we discovered Cassia leaves on the ground, his eyes began to sparkle with both joy and surprise.
「That’s amazing! Noct-san!」
Elvie was getting ready to procure some tools from his backpack, such as shovel and a small scoop placed at the tip of a long stick, but I stopped him with a gesture of my hand, pointed another one at the ground that surrounded Cassia and said:
I say the words in ancient language and infuse them with power, making the ground around Cassia softer and easier to remove without the risk of damaging the roots.
I was surprised just how lonely that voice sounded.
Looking at it now, Elvie was looking at me with envy clearly visible in his eyes.
「…… Ah, no, Noct-san, I see that you can use Soul Words.」
「Yeah, that is why they call me a Magical Swordsman. I just happen to know some magical words.」
I indeed used magic, but what of it?
「It should be easier to dig like that, right?」
「Right, thank you very much, now then, Noct-san, I can take care of this plant here, so could you go to that other one and collect it? It will be faster if each one of use work on our own plant.」
「It’s alright! I can take care of myself if need be!」
I was initially hesitant to leave him on his own, but Elvie just stood up and started to work with the shovel on his own, so the conversation kind of broke off at this point.
「Do you have a whistle or something that makes a loud noise? Just in case something unforeseen happened?」
「Yes, I do have something like that.」
「Please use it if you happen to wonder into some wild animal. If worst come to worst, we shall meet at that place where the Melting Snow Grass grows, okay?」
「Right! I’ll catch up with you soon.」
Then I took another shovel from Elvie’s backpack and went to the other point with Cassia.
There I again used the ancient language to soften the ground, and dug the shovel into the ground and started excavating the roots with great care.
Then I sensed something on the scouting net that I secretly erected around the place where Elvie was.
From the feeling of it, it was something huge.
It’s bad, it’s really bad! Elvie was still there!
Holding the shovel in my hand, I turned around and dashed towards the place where Elvie was.
Shortly after, I started to see Elvie’s silhouette in between the trees.
However, I need to act fast!
「Let’s do this……––––」
I let out a ferocious battlecry as I drew my sword from my waist.
When Elvie suddenly came to a stop, I rolled up to him and pushed him away in a hurry.
At that moment, something popped out of the ground in the exact place where Elvie stood a moment ago.
It was a huge snake…… No, it was an earthworm.
Its body was reddish-brown in color and its peristalsis seemed to be over one meter.
It was impressive, but at the same time really messed up.
Irritated that its surprise attack didn’t work, the earthworm began to wiggle angrily, baring the sharp teeth around its ‘mouth’.
If it wasn’t for my quick reaction, Elvie would have without a shred of doubt end up inside of its stomach.
The earthworm wanted to attack Elvie again, but this time I managed to stop that attempt as well, by throwing the shovel that I held in my hand at it with my full might.
「Boy, get away from there!」
The shovel flew through the air and plunged deeply into the earthworm’s neck, but even with my draconic strength it didn’t do that much harm to it.
But the earthworm’s attention was drawn to me instead, as it plunged towards me with a blood-curdling roar. In that case.
I’ll send you back to the ground where you belong! Earthworm!
I directed my sword into the place from which its fangs rose up, and while avoiding the earthworms leap I swung my sword with all of my strength.
The moment the sword separated earthworm’s head from the rest of its body, a pillar of flames rose from the fresh wound.
The ground shook and vibrated from a tremendous scream that sounded very much like metal scraping against metal, but the monster recovered from that quickly.
Even without its head, it still wanted to attack me by swinging its tail at me, but,
「Noct-san, get down!」
As soon as I heard Elvie’s voice I crouched reflexively, and then a huge mass of magical power passed over my head with a crushing sound.
Eh, huh, wait a second, explosion!?
To be more precise, it was a shock wave, one of the most basic form of attack when it comes to magical combat. It effects may vary depending on the caster, but it usually detonated upon impact with the target. And right now it crushed upon the earthworm’s body, blowing it away while letting out a high-pitched shrill.
Earthworm fell back on the ground, sending another shock through it, bodily fluids gushing out of its now completely broken body.
I finally let out a sigh of relief, stood up and looked back at Elvie, who was now holding some device made of wood and metal in his hand.
「Thanks for that. Are you injured?」
「No, it should be me who should thank you for the rescue. Are you injured anywhere, Noct-san?」
「Ooh, it’s nothing big. Anyway, I’m sorry for that. I was supposed to protect you during the course of this quest, but instead I parted ways with you, exposing you to harm.」
How am I ever going to face Kyle or Belga after putting their descendant into a harm’s way?
「No, it’s not your fault at all, Noct-san! Rather, the blame is entirely mine for proposing for us to act on our own! If it wasn’t for your help, I would have ended up in that monster’s stomach!」
Seeing how Elvie’s body was shaking all over from worry and that he was speaking of the bottom of his heart, I couldn’t help it but laugh warmly.
「But still, just before that Earthworm came out of the ground, you’ve managed to see it and wanted to dodge it, right? How did you know?」
Earthworms are considered to be the 3rd class Dangerous Beasts, which puts them on equal terms with Hippogriffs.
Its intelligence is really low, but since it moves in the ground without making even the slightest of sounds, it is virtually impossible to detect it unless you surveil the area around you with magic.
But Elvie for sure knew about its presence before I even came to his rescue.
「Umm, how do I put it? I simply knew that it was there, like an intuition. I can’t really explain it all that well, and I don’t really understand it all that well, but I always feel uneasy deep down inside of me when there is a danger approaching or when my life is threatened. And if I act upon that feeling I can avoid it. I used to think those were mere coincidences in the past, but now I know that it is quite handy.」
「…… Oh, well, it’s good that you’re not hurt.」
I gave up on investigating the matter further, since no harm actually came to the boy.
I don’t really get it myself.
At that moment I sensed a magical waves that belonged to something other than him. Just what was that?
Besides, I was really curious about that strange device that Elvie was holding in his hand.
「It is one of the things that I’m using: a magical gun. It uses shockwaves to attack the target, and its power is comparable to that of a cannon. But I wonder if the amount of magic it uses is okay?」
「Umm, this is……」
At that moment I couldn’t help it but feel nostalgic seeing just how much this boy resembled Belga, while he inspected his gun, and then put it away back into the holster that was hanging from his hip.
In the past, this device was merely a substitute for the weakest of magicians who had problems with remembering the incantations for more powerful spells. But now, since it underwent lots of improvements, these guns could now automatically draw from the user’s magical reserves and convert them into ‘bullets’ of sorts. Even the normal people could technically use it, as long as they possessed enough magical power for the bullet to form.
However, the technology used to convert the magical power was by no means perfect and as a result each bullet needed tremendous amounts of magical energy to work effectively. So unless you weren’t a genuine magician, using it effectively was limited and full of flaws.
「Umm, it’s okay, really, this thing, it is only as powerful as the magician who uses it.」
Hearing all of this from Elvie’s mouth made me remember Aru’s words: ‘a magician who cannot use magic properly.’.
And seeing that right now, I understood that it must be true. His situation was not an enviable one.
The look on his face convinced me that it was not the topic I should pursue right now, and so I swiftly changed the subject.
「Hmm, I see. But the technique that this gun employed was quite powerful and precise. Surely it must have been expensive?」
「I’ve made it on my own, so it wasn’t all that expensive, really.」
「Your own…… Did you made that by yourself?」
「Yes, that’s right. It is the part of the extracurricular activities that I’m involved with.」
Elvie scratched his cheek as if he was embarrassed to admit it, and then proceeded to explain.
「You see, both magical guns and bullets are fairly expensive nowadays. The gun itself I received from an old man at the Guild who was about to retire, but since bullets are consumable items, I had to design and craft them myself from scratch, and then asked my friends to fill them with magic for me. But even so, one bullet like that consumes about one-fourth of my living expenses, so it’s a rather cheap gun that needs maintenance after firing one shot.」
Certainly, with the emergence of ‘Spiritual Magic’, one could reduce the incantations by a large margin and use the remaining space for something more useful, which was probably the device’s greatest advantage. No wonder it was popular among the Hunters.
But at the same time, the gun itself was not expensive at all, but for the cost of one bullet you could probably buy three short swords.
「Truth to be told, it is more of a good luck charm to me. It reminds me of my dream and makes me work even harder to achieve it.」
Although it was not the easiest tool to use, the way in which Elvie looked at this piece of scrap made me remember Belga yet again.
「I see. You are truly amazing.」
「It’s nothing all that praiseworthy, Noct-san. I wanted to use fire, but since we are in the middle of the woods I wasn’t sure what would happen, since I can’t control the magical flames as freely as you. After all, I’m closer to being just an ordinary Hunter.」
Elvie smiled ambiguously while collecting the shovel from the ground, the one that I sent flying towards the Earthworm’s neck.
He didn’t know that those flames were my own, so it was natural that he would think like that.
「But, seeing that thing in action, maybe now you could even design a completely new gun of your own……」
Hearing that, Elvie smiled cheerfully, ever so slightly.
Ah –– Yes, yes. I see how it is.
In order to make a device like that you need qualifications, so if anyone ever found out what he did he might end up being sent into court and sentenced to prison.
Well, since he is a minor it would not probably be that bad, but still it would be bad nonetheless.
「Even if you say that, I just remodeled the parts that are already available on the market, so it was not my original design. It was risky of me to do, but technically I did not broke the law in any way…… B, but I don’t use it for bad things, I swear!」
Elvie started to panic right in front of my eyes as I was wondering just whatever shall I do about this situation.
After all, I am an adult and going by the rules of common sense, I should at the very least say SOMETHING to him.
But, well, you see, I’m a dragon, not a human being.
Besides, Elvie’s face was truly shining when he was talking about the gun.
Right, let’s start with this.
「…… Well, I can understand that you make your own bullets because of financial reasons, and customizing your weapon is perfectly normal and acceptable behavior. In addition, the gun can compensate for your own lack of physical ability.」
「But still, Noct-san, even if I didn’t shoot I think you would have been able to defeat that Earthworm quite easily.」
「I see it quite differently. Since I wasn’t able to get rid of that monster in one fell swoop, I just caused one-fourth of your living expenses to go to waste. So don’t be so hard on yourself.」
Seeing how Elvie was torn between pride and common sense, I laughed wholeheartedly.
「Well then, so how about it? When you make a new gun, will you show it to me?」
「The Cassia roots that we are digging will be used to strengthen your gun, correct? I would like to see the fruits of our labor with my own eyes. Also, one of my old friends used to like guns quite a lot, so you can say that it is nostalgic for me to see one.」
「Is, is that right……?」
Remembering Belga, I looked into the distance, and Elvie looked at me as if he was wondering just what I was thinking about now.
That’s right, that friend of mine, your great grandmother, I can’t meet her anymore.
Still a little bit shy, Elvie finally put his gun back in its holster and nodded vigorously.
「I understand. I will definitely show it to you once it is done.」
「Yeah, and I’m looking forward to it. Once you do, please contact me in the drug store ‘Dryad’ in western part of Hibernia.」
Okay, with that I now have an excuse to meet you once more!
Realizing that I successfully passed my smooth-talk check, I clasped my inner fist and raised it high into the air. Then I calmly looked around the forest, which was already becoming quite dark.
「…… The sun will soon set, so we should get a move on. But first, let’s take the fangs off that Earthworm, shall we?」
「Right. Also, I heard that its body fluids can serve as a base for some medicine.」
It might be a good souvenir for Nectar.
Thinking like that, I began to take the valuable parts off of the subjugated monster’s corpse. At the same time, I couldn’t help it but to notice that slightly disappointed look on the boy’s face.
When I finished my looting, we took the other Cassia roots and put it in Elvie’s backpack.
Fufun. You may be one of the most potent plants around here.
But! I am still going to make you mine by using my Excavation spell!
「Is this much enough for you?」
「Yes, thank you so much!」
He said that while genuine gratitude shone in his eyes, and we slowly began to walk back through the forest.