Chapter 164: Underground, undiscovered, part 1


Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama


「Another missing neko-chan…」, sighed Milia.

She placed the request slip in the ‘further investigation’ box. It was our job to read through all incoming requests and decide whether we should accept them or not.

Most, if not all, of those in the box were only half read.

「I haven’t seen your cat around lately either, Roland-san. Is she okay?」

As she spoke, she briefly looked at another slip before placing it among the rejects.

「Ah… she should be sitting quietly at home.」

「I see. I don’t think she likes me much, but I want to give her a hug the next time we meet~」

So she’s still unaware that my cat and Lyla are one and the same.

「I hope she likes you. If not, watch out — she has sharp claws.」

「She’s the type to scratch, huh… I wonder how I can get her to like me?」

I rejected a request that involved mediating a dispute without a second thought and moved on to the next one.

「Hmm.」

The next one had been submitted by a lumberjack. According to him, he had bumped into an unfamiliar monster at work and wanted us to either kill it or run it out of the woods. I placed it with the other accepted slips, then picked up the next one.

It also mentioned an unfamiliar monster in the same forest.

「Did something happen in the forest recently, Roland-san?」

「Why do you ask?」

「No… it’s just that I have a few slips here all talking about some strange creature appearing in the same forest.」

「I have two of those here as well.」

We leafed through the stack of requests and found eight such slips in total. All of them, though differing in structure, essentially said the same thing — that they had never seen such a monster before.

「Can I leave it to you, Roland-san?」

「Okay.」

I headed for the branch chief’s office with the slips in hand.

「Huh… eight identical requests. That’s unusual」, commented Iris with a frown as she signed each slip. 「You know what to do.」

「Understood.」

I folded the slips, put them into my breast pocket and left.

It’s rare for even two requests to be this similar. And there’s eight of them, I thought, setting off for the lumberjack’s home.


「Flippin’ heck, I thought I was dreamin’!」

The lumberjack spread his hands to show how wide the monster was.

「Okay, so it’s huge. Is it bigger than your house?」, I asked, trying to imagine what it looked like.

His house, a standalone cottage with two floors, was already larger than most.

「Mebbe a lil’ smaller? Or… eh… ‘bout the same.」

「Any other defining features?」, I continued as I jotted down notes.

「E’s walkin’ on four legs, dat’s fer certain. Got real spooked an’ bailed, I did. Never seen ‘im again since.」

「There are quite a few others reporting that they’ve seen it as well, so it could be living in those woods.」

「Well, I ‘aven’t been goin’ ta work. Ain’t gonna with dat ting in there..」

「I understand. No one in their right mind would put themselves in the same place as a monster the size of a house.」

「I’m relyin’ on ya, employee-san. I’m more’n willin’ ta pay good money ta see dat ting gone.」

「Nothing’s certain for now, but I’ll listen to what the others have to say to get an idea of how strong it is. I’ll be back to discuss the quest rank and commission rates with you.」

「Aye. God bless ya.」

True to my word, I interviewed all seven requestors after that.

Unfortunately, I received very different accounts — only one of them agreed that the monster was the size of a house. A few others were certain that it had been no larger than a horse.

One even said that it walked on two legs.

「How can they be so different?」

Back at the guild, I reviewed all the information I had gathered. Could it be that there were multiple undiscovered monsters lurking in the same forest? Among all the conflicting accounts, I noticed that all the sightings had been in the evening or late at night. But that’s to be expected of nocturnal monsters — not a big lead.

All the requesters went to the woods on a daily basis. Some, like the lumberjack, worked there. Others drew water or foraged for food. Regardless of what they do, it’s clear that being unable to enter the forest will cut off their lifelines. It’s also not a forest where adventurers go since there are no quests to be done.

Until now, maybe.

Djeeta, the hired guide, showed up just before closing. He was the demi-human that had played — and lost — a game of cat-and-mouse with me in the royal capital. I had hired him to give directions to new adventurers to prevent them from getting lost in the woods.

「Hey, Djeeta.」

「Yoo, Roland. What’s up?」

「Have you noticed anything unusual in the forest to the northeast?」

「Unusual? Can’t say I have」, he replied. 「There’s nobody to guide there anyway, so I don’t go there much.」

「Hmm.」

「But y’know, something did feel kinda off when I happened to be nearby at night. I just walked past it, though. Wasn’t really strange enough to warrant a look-see.」

「I guess the most efficient way of doing this is to have a look for myself.」

「Will you be fine with just your left arm?」

「It’s enough to get you from here to that forest in an instant. And I’m not talking about using a ‘Gate’.」

「Oh… well, I’m not surprised…」

Twitching his cheeks, he handed me the day’s reports and went home.

I told Iris about the progress I had made and obtained permission to check out the woods for myself. She allowed me to head home directly after that, and that was exactly what I planned to do.


I reached my destination just as the crimson sky was fading and stars were beginning to appear. There was an easily walkable path cutting through the forest, a sign that it was visited daily by humans. I could see the river from which people drew water. A few freshly-cut tree stumps and scattered wild greens adorned the landscape. Rabbits and squirrels scampered around

A common sight in many forests — nothing unusual so far.

But when I was deep in the forest, I noticed that the dim chirping of insects had ceased along with the presence of small animals.

At the same time, a loud sound came out of nowhere. The stench of fermentation gone wrong filled my nostrils. Something blocked the moonlight from seeping through the canopy, casting an even deeper shadow on the surroundings.

I looked in the sound’s direction to find a monster the size of a house. That must be what the lumberjack saw, I thought. Propped up by four stubby legs, its body seemed to be covered in solid rock. From what I believed to be its head peeked four slit-like eyes.

To put it in familiar terms, it resembled a tortoise. Are there any tortoises or testudinate monsters that look like that, I wondered. One of its eyes opened fully, the eyeball swivelling round to look at me.

「I was only here for an investigation, but I guess I have no choice.」

I picked up a rock, flinging it at the monster’s eye. It hit its mark perfectly, piercing through to the other side like a stone through water.

「Gyooooooooooh!?」

Its roar shook the entire forest.

It might be strong because of its size, but at the same time, it’s slow. So slow that I can just walk up to it. On top of that, having its feet made up of nothing but rock would have been an evolutionary dead end. There must be muscle or flesh or some sort around its joints.

As I looked for a suitable stick, I turned around to observe the monster. Just as I had expected, flesh could be seen exposed behind its knee joint. I stabbed the general area with the stick and did the same for the other three legs.

「Gyoouuuh!? Gyooooooo –」, it roared, shaking its head in pain but unable to move.

「I have nothing against you, but I can’t let you rob the people here of their ‘Normal’ lives.」

Activating ‘Magic Regus’, I channeled magicka into my left arm and plunged it into the monster’s head. With one final roar, it convulsed for a while then laid still.

「Hm? What’s this?」

There were strange letters written on its body — letters that looked like those on Lyla’s collar.



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