Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama
After doing the deed, Lyla lifted her index finger, tracing it along my abdomen. She stopped just above my navel, where there was a small, pinky-sized scar.
「It’s an old one…」, she whispered from underneath the duvet. 「Even you can get hurt sometimes, eh?」
「Of course. Even I had to start somewhere.」
She gently stroked the faded scar.
「There’s a few, but this is the only one on this side.」
She seemed interested in how I got those scars.
「It’s nothing interesting. I was just inexperienced. That’s all.」
It’s not like I failed or anything, but… I suppose I’m still reluctant to tell others how I had messed up back then. As I rolled over, Lyla leaned closer and hugged me from behind.
「Look at all these wounds on your shoulders… there’s some on your back, too…」
She kissed each scar gently like a goddess attempting to heal them with her breath.
Trying not to remember how I got them, I closed my eyes.
The following day —
I had been assigning quests to various adventurers since we opened.
「I’m here for a quest, employee-san!」
Having waited patiently for her turn, a girl now sat on the opposite side of the counter.
「A quest? Very well. May I borrow your license for a while?」
I took her license from the countertop and asked what kind of quest she would like.
Saoirse Guride, eighteen years of age. D-rank. An intermediate adventurer with average credentials.
Seeing that she had taken up many D-rank quests recently, I could infer that she had gotten used to her life as an adventurer.
「I’d like a D-rank quest, preferably with a good payout!」, she said jokingly, to which I smiled in response.
「Please give me a moment to verify whether we have a quest that suits your needs.」
Who doesn’t want a quest that pays well, I thought. Almost everyone thinks that way, but the adventurers who actually say it out are few and far between.
「How about this?」
I showed her a quest that involved standing guard in a mountainous region.
「The usual bridge that people take has been destroyed in a flood, and currently the only alternative path is an old, narrow pass. This quest requires you to ensure the safety of all who pass by there」, I explained briefly, spreading a map onto the countertop.
They also needed people to rebuild the bridge, but it’s tougher and the commission rate is lower.
「Erm… so I have to keep any passers-by safe?」
「Yes. You’ll be a first responder if anything happens. Other guilds in this region will also be assigning their adventurers this quests, so the workload will be split when you get there.」
I added that Lord Bardell had sent one of his men here, and that he would give her the relevant directions.
「I see. It’s a long quest, isn’t it?」
「Till the bridge is repaired, yes.」
「Hmm. Okay, I’ll try it out for a day and get back to you again.」
「Understood. Thank you for using our services」, I said, waving.
After giving me a bright smile, Saoirse left.
I continued performing my duties after that, assigning quests to groups of adventurers and receiving reports of successful ones from others.
All of a sudden, a young man stumbled into the guild, out of breath.
「It — it’s a disaster!」
He continued while repeatedly pausing for breath.
「A huge Gayté Hawk — huff — has appeared — puff — at the narrow pass –」
Murmuring erupted among those in the guild.
While it is a violent creature, the rank of the quest to deal with it isn’t as high as you’d think. Being larger than other birds, dispatching the largest of their kind would be a B-rank quest.
…It’s what the manual says, at least.
「None of the adventurers present could deal with it, and the knights will take some time to get there! Lord Bardell has instructed that it become a quest as quickly as possible…!」
My colleagues, though already busy, instantly became busier.
「Quick, type out a quest slip –」
「And the commission?」
「We can ask the baron later! The rank… B-rank, B-rank! Take it or leave it!」
「We have an emergency quest! Is there anyone present who is willing to take up a B-rank quest –」
As the guild descended into chaos, Iris came out of her office and asked what was going on. My eyes meeting hers, I raised my hand.
「…Yes, please. If you can.」
Nodding, I made my way to the other side of the counter. Iris clapped her hands to gather everyone’s attention.
「Okay, calm down, all of you. Roland has volunteered to take this quest. Please continue with business as usual, and don’t panic.」
Taking a closer look at the crowd, most of the adventurers were D-rank or lower.
I can’t blame them for panicking.
My colleagues’ responses were mixed, with some giving me words of encouragement and others looking at me with uncertainty.
「Can you really take on a Gayté Hawk, Roland-kun…?」
「I’m rooting for you, Roland-san!」
「Why have Milia’s pupils become heart-shaped…?」
「Oh, I know why. You can count on him for anything… even I’m feeling a little…」
As I tried to learn more from our sudden visitor, the adventurers also fervently discussed among themselves.
「Hm, what’s going on?」
「Employee Argan’s going to fight that thing…?」
「Seriously? I wanna see…」
「A horse, a horse… we need a horse! Anyone?」
The horse that the man had ridden here was stationed outside the guild. Many people had their faces pressed to the windows as I mounted it.
「Doesn’t he need to prepare!?」
「Will he be okay empty-handed!?」
「If you need anything, don’t be shy…」
I raised my palm to silence the crowd.
「I only need myself, and nothing else.」
「He’s so cool…」, echoed the onlookers.
Waving goodbye, I kicked the horse’s belly. In a trice, I was already out of the city, so I let my steed gallop at full speed.
『There’s a few, but this is the only one on this side.』
What Lyla had said the previous night resurfaced in my mind.
To rid myself of those thoughts, I tried to visualise the layout of the area. Gayté Hawks are dangerous — so dangerous, in fact, they’re also known as ‘Man-eating demon birds’. It depends on the size of the human, of course, but it can no doubt swallow an average human whole.
Considering that the old path is situated on a mountain, it’s not surprising that something like that would appear. I’ve never seen such a direct eyewitness report, though.
Taking the shortest path possible, I hurried toward my destination.
As soon as I heard the shriek of the Gayté Hawk, I also heard a man scream in terror. There were a few men who looked like adventurers that had tried to seek refuge where I was.
「Help… help us, please… save us from this bird!」
「Impossible. Impossible, I tell you! There’s no way we can deal with that blasted creature!」
The two men were kneeling on the ground, feeling relieved that they were safe for now.
「Hey, have you seen an adventurer named Saoirse?」
「Huh? Are you an employee…?」
「Saoirse… that D-ranked girl? She’s still there with the bird! She was saying something about how she was gonna fight it alone…」
She’s fighting it, huh? I suppose she’s simply trying to buy time while waiting for reinforcements to arrive.
I pressed my horse to keep up the pace as I rode down the mountain path.
The Gayté Hawk finally came into view, producing a deafening shriek that echoed around the entire area. I discovered multiple adventurers’ carcasses scattered along the path. They had holes in them, which had presumably been made by the hawk’s beak. Crouching beneath a rocky outcrop was a man with his hands over his head, who I assumed was just a messenger of some sort.
「Just hit the thing, damnit!」
While the hawk flapped its massive wings to stay airborne, Saoirse repeatedly tried to nock an arrow in order to shoot it down. I noticed a sword hanging by her waist. From her clumsy actions, I could tell that she wasn’t particularly good at firing arrows.
As the hawk began gliding towards her at supersonic speed, Saoirse hit the ground, causing it to narrowly miss her. While the path was sandwiched between steep cliffs, both sides seemed climbable at least.
「Stay there and don’t move.」
「Hm… huh, employee-san, what’re you doing here!?」
I leapt off my horse. Grabbing the sword that had fallen to one side, I held the hilt in my mouth, freeing both hands for me to climb up the steep cliff. The Gayté Hawk, with its attention focused on Saoirse, seemed to be enjoying itself as it tried to intimidate her with its high-pitched shrieks again and again.
「I thought it was just some bird… but it’s huge!」
On the verge of tears, she threw herself onto the ground again to dodge the hawk’s attack.
Aiming for the patch of sky I expected the hawk to return to, I kicked off the cliff and gripped the hilt of the sword with both hands. Keeping an eye on the target, I swung downwards with all my might.
With a short but loud cry, the hawk slammed into the ground head first, its blood splattering everywhere.
「What a disappointment.」
Landing beside it, I stuck the sword into the ground.
「Hm? Oh, my glasses…」
I guess they had fallen off when I landed. They weren’t that expensive, and I didn’t actually need them, so I decided not to search for them. As I told the messenger that I had dealt with the problem, Saoirse walked over with the reins of my horse in hand.
「Thank you, employee-san.」
「Don’t mention it. It was an emergency, after all.」
Staring straight at me, she grinned.
「I didn’t realise it at the guild because of your glasses, but… it’s the second time, isn’t it? The second time you helped me out.」
「Hmm… I think you have the wrong person…?」
With that, I got on my horse and left, letting it trot along slowly this time.
「…So she remembered?」
Wondering just how long ago it had been, I made my way back to the guild, where a few employees were re-enacting the scene from earlier.
「『Doesn’t he need to prepare!?』」
「『Will he be okay empty-handed!?』」
「『If you need anything, don’t be shy…』」
「『I only need myself, and nothing else.』」
「– It happened exactly like that!」
As they concluded the re-enactment, the adventurers who hadn’t been present earlier burst into applause.
「He’s so cool…!」, they echoed.
I’ll never get why my colleagues do things like that.