Vol 1: Chapter 33
I was taken to a place where Dante-san would never have taken me – in other words, a red light district. Raikira-san took me to a similar place once, but this place was even more indecent.
However, it was morning now.
When seeing under the morning sun, the gaudy pink signboard looked to be in a miserable state with coating peeled off. A drunk man was sleeping behind a building — Is he dead? He is still alive, right? Right?
「…Don’t make weird noises.」
When we entered the back alley, there was not even a stone pavement. It was dim, full of foul odors, and puddles of unknown colour on the ground. I walked while looking at the ground, trying not to step on the puddles.
「Can you see it? The city wall. Because this area is close to the city wall and there is no water supply, it is the cheapest land in the city.」
「And because it is this kind of place, people come here to do business away from the prying eyes of the authorities. One of the specialties is the “wall fence”.」
「You destroy a part of the wall and go through.」
I see… It’s like a guide to smuggling.
「…You don’t seem surprised at all.」
「N-No, I am surprised. Oh man, to think there are people doing such dangerous things… good lord.」
「Your shitty acting isn’t convincing anyone with that “I see” face of yours. Well, follow me.」
When we got nearer to the castle wall, there was a single wooden hut. About 5 people were hanging out in front of it.
All were men and all smoked pipe cigarettes. You could tell at a glance that they were shady people.
「Oh, Oscar. Are you going out again?」
「Well, I’m not going out today. It is this kid.」
He pushed me forward, and they looked at me with confusion.
「Isn’t that what I just said? How much?」
「Well… It’s not going to be cheap even for a child. As usual, three federal gold coins.」
Three federal gold coins!? 300,000 yen(3000usd)!?
「Tsk, greedy bastards. Here.」
「I’m not worried about the money, kid. It is laughably cheap compared to the lives of my party members. Rather, you should worry about what you’re going to do after leaving.」
「Uh, I guess…」
「It will be difficult to cross the border into the Saint Knight Kingdom from here. There is only one way and the border checking is tight. On the other hand, the movement within the Keith Grand Federation is considerably easier, so that would be better. The soldiers will be looking within the city for a while, after all.」
「…Okay. Thank you so much for everything.」
Oscar-san left, as I waved goodbye.
I was helped by Dante-san’s kindness even until the very end. I felt like I was able to repay him by curing the petrification poison, but I just made another debt.
In other words, I had another reason to return to Silver Balance.
「Alrighty, kid. Head over here. Oi Zerry, there’s a customer coming over, guide him.」
When I opened the door – the only thing which seemed proper about the place – the whole place was completely dark. When I closed the door behind me, a dim light lit up, illuminating only the dust particles in the air.
「Seriously, these guys don’t treat their employee with respect… Oh, customer. Come this way.」
「What is the matter, customer?」
The person called Zerry – a beastman – asked puzzledly.
「Oh, you can’t see where you’re walking? Then, let me turn up the lamp a little.」
When the brightness of the magic lamp increased, that person’s figure emerged.
Both I and Zerry were silently staring at each other.
I had seen this person before. It was the person Raikira-san gave money to the other night.
And this person probably knows me too. When she saw Raikira-san in the city, I was right there with him.
「Man… I’m surprised. You’re the bocchan who was with Raikira-san.」[1. TL Note: “bocchan” is “lad/boy” in this context. Zerry calls him “bocchan” endearingly, so I decided to keep it that way.]
I was also surprised.
I thought without a doubt that it was a man at that time, but he turned out to be a woman.
Despite being shorter than Raikira-san, she had a slender body with well-balanced muscles.
There were two cat ears pointing up over her reddish brown short hair. The torn sleeves of her shirt were rolled up to her elbows, thus you can see a lot of hair on her forearm. She was also wearing tight pants and long boots.
It looked like light equipment, but there was no gap in her standing posture.
「You were in the same mercenary group as Raikira-san, right?」
「Oh! The young boss talked about that, too? Seems like you earned quite a bit of his trust, huh, bocchan.」
「Yes. He trusted me… and gave me.」
Perhaps noticing my way of wording, Zerry-san became suspicious.
「…Bocchan, did you do something?」
I silently shook my head.
「Raikira-san passed away.」
Then, there was silence between us. After a while, the magic lamp fell from Zerry-san’s hand, making a noise. The magic lamp – that wasn’t fire – hadn’t lost any light. An angry shout came from outside, “Zerry! Don’t tell me you broke the lamp!”
The man from earlier opened the door. “Ah, the customer is still here. Oi, Zerry, guide him out immediately.”he said, closing the door again.
I then talked to Zerry-san about Raikira-san’s final moments. I was ambiguous about myself, though.
She guided me through a small, narrow passage while listening to the story with a gloomy look. We were already inside the city wall, and when we were about to reach the other side, she strained her ears to check for any sounds in the surroundings, and then carefully removed the rock from the city wall. The rock was thinly carved and had a handle on the inside. When we passed through, Zerry-san placed it back as it was. Looking from the outside, I couldn’t notice any difference from the rest of the wall.
There seems to be a tall grass thicket 10 meters away with a wild trail inside. And by following it, you can get to the highway. However, there seems to be many diverging paths, so you would get lost without a doubt if it’s your first time.
「I see… So the young boss… was able to kill Crysta in the end, huh.」
Zerry-san was crying, while guiding me. She was gushing with tears, not caring that I could see her.
As a survivor of the mercenary group, she, too, seems to have long wanted to get revenge on Crysta. However, the opponent was a Mithril-rank adventurer, and they — although unprepared — numbered a few dozens, but were still annihilated by a single man. It seems that she had almost given up her desire for revenge.
Indeed, there is almost no way to beat an opponent who freely moves through the sky and can ceaselessly shoot 【Fire Magic】.
Zerry-san wiped off the tears in her eyes with her sleeves and looked back at me. Her cat eyes, which were reddish brown just like her hair, looked intently at me.
「If you go straight from here, you’ll reach the highway. –Bocchan, won’t you let me serve as your escort?」
「Yep. The “Dark Fang Mercenary” was my family. There was no place I felt more comfortable in. When that place was gone… I fell into despair and was struggling to make money to survive. That was when I saw the young boss, who also somehow managed to survive. And I could tell just by looking at his eyes, that he hadn’t abandoned his revenge on that bastard Crysta. And he splendidly accomplished it.」
…But it doesn’t matter if you die.
I wanted to say that, but… revenge may have been everything for those whose companions were slaughtered. Thus, I couldn’t say it.
「Well, it doesn’t matter if he’s dead too.」
「Ah?! I was thinking not to say that out of respect though!」
「Since I’m a cat beastman, I’m quite laid-back and easy-going.」
The serious air from before was gone. Zerry-san smiled with teary eyes.
「But you see, bocchan. A fire has been re-ignited in my dead heart. Hearing about his way of life, I feel like I have to do something too. I’m sure I met Reiji-san for some reason. Please let me accompany you on your journey.」
「I overheard a little of what you were talking about a while ago. I can guide you to the Saint Knight Kingdom or the Kruvan Holy Kingdom or wherever you like! I was a scout in the “Dark Fang Mercenary” and have travelled all over the world.」
Until I came here, I was helped by Dante-san – in the form of Oscar-san, and here again, I am receiving help from Raikira-san – in the form of Zerry-san.
Whatever the case may be, I am a member of Silver Balance. I should just receive a companion’s helping hand without worrying much, right?
「Okay. Thank you.」
「Yay!」Zerry-san leapt in joy, and snapped her finger.「Let’s go right away then!」
I start walking according to Zerry-san’s guidance.
I felt like I was being guided by Raikira-san himself. Not only Raikira-san, but I’m walking down the path opened up by Dante-san, Non-san, and Mimino-san.
Not only that.
Just like how a path comes to be as more people tread on it, the path I walked on was the one guided by everyone else.
I wonder if Mimino-san is talking to Dante-san about me right about now? Have they noticed that Dante-san’s body has healed? Was Non-san delighted?
(Raikira-san, you wanted revenge even if it meant throwing away everything else.)
I don’t understand that feeling.
I don’t even know if it was a good thing or a bad thing.
However, I will never forget that “fulfilled” face you showed at the end. And I will always be wondering what you were about to say to me at that time.
Please forgive me for leaving without even mourning.
Well, knowing you, I’m sure you’ll say something like, “Just go already. Mourning isn’t going to fill your belly.”
「…What’s wrong, bocchan? You look like you’re about to burst out crying.」
「No, it’s nothing. And can you please stop calling me “bocchan”?」
「Nope. Because you’re a little boy. It can’t be helped, you know.」
「It can be helped!」
「No, no, it can’t be helped. Nahahaha…」
「Ah, there is no helping you. So, why do you call Raikira-san “young boss”?」
「Oh, he was the nephew of the leader of “Dark Fang Mercenary”.」
「Oh, are you interested in that? Then, I’ll talk about the mercenary group! I won’t stop even if you complain it’s too long!」
「Ahahah, please do. We have a long journey ahead.」
I don’t know where I was heading.
However, there are things I do know.
That this journey is going to be long.
Although, I did find a completely unexpected travel companion.
Eventually, when the wild trail ended, a vast grassland spread before us.
On the other side, a highway stretched through the ocean-like grassland. You can’t tell what’s waiting beyond the grasslands until you go there.
If that’s the case, then I’ll just have to go. After all, I’m an adventurer member of Silver Balance.
A gentle tailwind blew, guiding the way, and I started walking.