People Call the Dungeon the Forest of Deception – Part 02

“Mom, dad, I’m off!”

“Take care! If any adventurers mess with you, you tell me right away. I’ll give them a good beating.”

“Oh, dear. Are you really going to say that every single day? Take care, Freya. Make sure you work hard.”

Freya chuckled. “I will!”

Freya left her parents’ bakery. In order to bake bread to sell in the morning, her parents were up before sunrise to fire up the kiln. Waking up to the aroma of fragrant bread and sweet butter and heading to the guild with freshly-baked bread was her daily morning routine.

“Good morning.”

“Good morning, Freya.”

When Freya arrived, there was already a receptionist at the guild’s counter. A beautiful woman with a somewhat shadowy look—Aurora.

“Anything new?” Freya asked.

Aurora cast her gaze down, looking more and more gloomy. “Sir Unken wants to see you.”

“Sir Unken?”

Wondering what he wanted so early in the morning, Freya put her personal belongings in her locker and changed into her uniform. It was eight in the morning, and the guild was already somewhat crowded, but Aurora should be able to handle things alone. Freya went to Unken’s room—the guildmaster’s office.

“Freya? Come here.”

There was a lounge for guests, but Unken called her directly to his desk. Freya breathed a sigh of relief; she assumed it wasn’t anything important since she wasn’t asked to sit down. She didn’t think she did anything wrong, but being summoned to the office like this made her nervous. And the bitter expression on Unken’s face only made it worse.

“Do you need my help with anything?” Freya asked.

“We received a message. And I need to ask you something.”


“The message is: the day before yesterday, the party led by Nogusa, Distant Glittering Stars, failed in their escort mission.”


Freya remembered Nogusa, of course, a Rank C adventurer who came all the way here from the royal capital. The highest rank of the adventurers in Pond was D. How could she possibly forget him?

Nogusa and his team came here to escort Lavia, a suspect in the murder of Count Morgstadt, to the royal capital. Because of the importance of the case to the kingdom, high-ranked adventurers were assigned to the job.

“Th-They failed? Were they ambushed by bandits? Or was it a vicious, mutated monster?”


“D-Did they run away with the girl?”

“No. I mean, I think that’s most likely what happened, but it’s out of the question for now.”

“Hmm… So what happened, then?”

“Freya, this is a major blunder by the Adventurers’ Guild.”

“I know.”

“Then why do you look thrilled?!”

“N-No, I don’t.”

“Do a better job of hiding it.”


Freya’s spirit sank. If it was just any other incident, she would have listened quietly. But it happened to be a case she was interested in. An adventurer whom Freya cared about—a boy named Hikaru—was quite curious about the Count’s murder.

I’ll tell Hikaru about this. I’m sure he’ll want to know.

The thought brought a smile to her face.

Unken sighed. “I suppose it’s better than a grim look. Nogusa said that during their second rest stop, he took a look inside the carriage, and the girl had vanished into thin air.”

“Vanished? Wait, Nogusa and his team gave statements? So they went to the Adventurers’ Guild in the capital?”


“But they’d be the first people to be suspected. No human being can just vanish into thin air.”

“If Nogusa’s party were the ones who set the girl free, it makes no sense for them to show up at the royal capital’s guild and give such an absurd statement. It’s extremely foolish.”

“I agree… Where did the girl go, then?”

“If we knew that, we wouldn’t be having this problem. There are two things that complicate matters. One is the driver’s statement. Apparently, Nogusa demanded the keys to the carriage.”


“Judging by their character, they were probably curious about the girl.”

It made sense. Freya had heard that the Count’s daughter was a beautiful girl. Any creep would be curious.

“So, um, how do I put this… What you’re saying is… they’re idiots.”

“You could’ve just gone straight to the point,” Unken said. “Anyway, they might be idiots, but they’re still Rank C adventurers. This is a serious blow to the reputation of the royal capital branch.”

“Um, what about the other thing that complicates matters?”

“About that. You know about the security in the Count’s residence, right?”

“Yeah. Knights were dispatched as guards.”

“Yes. One of the knights said they didn’t trust the adventurers, so they went after Nogusa’s party. But he wasn’t able to catch up to them. He got ambushed by bandits.”

“Bandits? Between Pond and the capital? That’s unusual. Who’s this knight that went after them?”

Unken nodded. “Commander Lawrence D. Falcon.”

“Lord Lawrence?! The Sword Saint?!”

Frowning, Unken quickly covered his ears. “Keep it down.”

“Sorry… But bandits should be no match for him.”

“Exactly. Mr. Lawrence said he was attacked by a bandit. A child who called himself Silver Face.”

Freya’s mouth dropped. “Whaaaat?!”

“Close your mouth.”

“Sorry.” She brought a hand to her mouth. “But a child can’t possibly best the Sword Saint! Wait… This sounds similar to Nogusa’s statement. Insisting about something that’s nigh impossible.”

“What do you think? Are these two incidents completely unrelated?”

“Most likely. It’s shocking, sure, but some people are just gifted in combat. A child prodigy is not unheard of.”

“Let’s say they’re a prodigy. Can a child really defeat the Sword Saint?”

“I-I would need more details before giving my thoughts. Do you know anything more about the case?”

“Not much. You’re of the same opinion as Aurora. Completely unrelated incidents.”

“I see.” Freya nodded. “Is that all?”

“No, I still have a question. Are there any young and skilled male adventurers in the vicinity? Actually, they don’t have to be exclusively adventurers.”

Hikaru flashed through Freya’s mind. But Hikaru should have been reading a book the day of the escort mission.

“I can’t think of any,” she said.

“I see. I should ask Gloria as well. I doubt I’ll get a different answer, though.”

Using Group Cloaking, Hikaru left the inn together with Lavia. Group Cloaking was a Skill he obtained from his Soul Board that allowed him to share the effects of his Stealth to anyone he touched.

Plenty of people were already up and about at this hour. Though Lavia’s clothes and cap gave her a completely different look now, it was better safe than sorry.

“So this is a town.”

This might be Lavia’s first time to walk through a town. Hikaru kept the thought to himself.

Pond was situated on a plain, and since it was also a satellite town, development was carefully planned. Everything looked new to her. The housewives gathered around a well behind a tree, the elderly walking briskly, carrying a shopping basket, the boy getting scolded by a shop owner, the man pulling a wagon full of jars for sale—everything.



“I smell something good.”

It was the hotdog stand. Hands folded, the muscular owner was staring at their direction—no, he was practically glaring at them. Group Cloaking should be active.

Is he waiting for me? Hikaru wondered.

“We can’t skip breakfast, I guess,” he said.

Hikaru disabled Group Cloaking somewhere out of sight. As they approached the vendor, the man held out his massive hand.

“Sixty gilans,” he said boldly.

“Bold of you to assume I’m buying two.”

Letting out a sigh, Hikaru handed the money and took two hotdog sandwiches, one for Lavia, who regarded the food with great interest. The vendor could hardly see her face.

Hmm, it looks exactly like the hotdogs in Japan… Hikaru thought as he took a bite.

“Hmm?!” His eyes widened.

“H-How is it?!”



“It’s too spicy! Are you stupid?!” Hikaru bellowed.

Crap. This hotdog is literally hot.

It was too spicy. He felt his body temperature instantly rise. Sweat would be trickling down his head at any moment. The ketchup wasn’t as watery as last time. Now the question was…

“What did you do to the mustard?” Hikaru asked.


“Answer me.”

“I was curious about these spices that a peddler was selling.”

“So you added them? Why?”

“It’s your fault! You didn’t come yesterday! I let a different regular taste it and he said it wasn’t spicy enough!”

“Why are you blaming me?! Damn, it’s too spicy… Let’s go. It’s best if you don’t eat it… Huh?”

Lavia was staring blankly at Hikaru. She had already eaten half of the sandwich.

“It’s delicious.”


Hikaru shot a suspicious look at the vendor. The man shook his head. It’s the same as yours, was what he meant.

“Do you like spicy food?” Hikaru asked.


Lavia looked puzzled.

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