Chapter 100 – Chasing the Forest Hermit
It had been about a week since we identified that Vi-Vi’s sister was involved in the zombification problem.
After the sun went down, all of the rest of the party gathered at my house.
Vi-Vi was playing with Moofy, and Cruz was playing with Shiggy. Femm was on the floor sleeping.
Yureena and Luka were drinking tea.
Just then, a sound came from Luka’s chest.
A magical contacting item.
It was a very expensive item, but it wasn’t strange for Luka to have one as a higher-up in the guild.
Luka jumped up.
「Al. I think the forest hermit’s hideout has been found.」
「Really? Let’s go to the capital then.」
Luka’s magical item was used to transmit important information. However, it can only do it through a ringing sound.
In order to give correct orders to the army, several of these magical items are used.
When a foreign kingdom invades, or when monsters attack, it’s used as well.
This device was probably given to her to tell when the location of the forest hermit was found.
「I’m going too!」
Vi-Vi and Moofy stood up.
When I stood up, Shiggy flew over to me. I put it in my chest pocket.
Femm got up without making a sound.
Cruz got up enthusiastically and said,
「It’s finally time, Al!」
「No, Cruz, you stay here.」
Yureena grabbed Cruz from behind.
「Cruz, defending the town is more important.」
「I know, but…」
「If Al says so, then I’ll do it!」
Cruz finally agreed. Yureena also would stay.
Whenever we split the party, it was usually Luka and I, and Cruz and Yureena.
Those combos provided the best party balances.
When we split three and one, I was the one usually left out of the party.
So Luka, Vi-Vi, Femm, Moofy, Shiggy, and I all went to the capital.
We emerged from Cruz’ mansion, and some adventurers were waiting. Luka probably arranged that.
The adventurers all bowed to Luka.
「Miss Luka, the forest hermit is in a tavern.」
We all ran.
I and Vi-Vi were both riding on Moofy, wearing our masks.
If Femm got larger, then it was certain we’d stand out.
「This forest hermit isn’t much of a hermit.」
「Seems to be the case.」
「If she’s not hiding anything, perhaps that means she’s not doing anything bad, Al?」
「You might be right, Vi-Vi.」
Vi-Vi’s thoughts were mixed with optimism that her sister wasn’t up to anything nefarious. But,I couldn’t deny that she might be right.
She didn’t hide who she was when she bought the zombification materials and she was staying at a public tavern.
You wouldn’t even think she was doing something criminal like making zombies.
There was an adventure party that had staked out the outside of the tavern. They were B-rank.
Since the capital was quite peaceful, a B-rank party was the most common.
「Miss Luka, she’s still inside.」
「No problem…it was an easy task.」
「Leave the rest to us.」
Luka went into the tavern.
I spoke to the two animals with spirit speech.
『Femm, Moofy, keep a lookout.』
Then Vi-Vi and I went inside.
The customers and owner suddenly freaked out.
One of the customers reached for his sword.
They were being way to cautious. But…Vi-Vi and I did have the masks on.
I guess it was our fault.
「Relax, everyone. They’re with ME.」
And saying this, Luka presented to everyone her adventurer card.
The whole place seemed to breathe a sigh of relief.
Whoever was with Luka was someone to be trusted, regardless of how weird they looked.
「That’s the warrior Luka!」
Those that were seeing her for the first time were happy that were able to meet her.
「Do you have a guest staying here called Vallimie?」
「Go up to the second floor and it’s the door right in front of you.」
Luka ran straight up the stairs. Vi-Vi and I stayed downstairs.
—Knock knock knock
「Ms. Vallimie! I have something to talk to you about!」
There was no response to Luka’s voice.
Luka quickly got impatient and broke through the door.
It sounded like a strong door, but one punch from Luka knocked it off its hinges.
The owner turned pale, so I silently stacked some gold in front of him.
It was enough to pay for 10 new doors. It was a month’s rent in coin.
Definitely enough to fix the door and pay for a closed day for repairs.
We heard Luka’s surprised voice,
「NO ONE’S HERE!」
「What the HECK!」
Vi-Vi stepped up to the owner in anger.
「Huh? When did she…」
The owner seemed surprised too, as he ran up to the forest hermit’s room.
Vi-Vi and I followed him.
「Wow, no one at all…」
「You didn’t see her leave?」
It was a completely open room. There wasn’t even any packages.
However, there was some gold on the desk.
「Maybe her rent.」
Luka handed the money over to the owner.
The owner looked a bit relieved.
「That’s the exact amount Miss Vallimie owed me.」
Luka said, and the owner nodded.
Even though she had fled, she paid what she owed. Vallimie seemed more honorable, somehow.
We went outside and called Femm and Moofy. The owner looked loathe to allow pets into his tavern, but I gave him another gold coin and he let us all in.
「She fled. Can you sniff her out?」
After a bit, Femm took off running.
『Over here.』「Moo mooo」
Vi-Vi and I got on Moofy’s back.
Luka took of running too, and said,
「I didn’t think she’d run because she noticed some B-rank adventurers following her. But if we can follow her by smell…」
「She’s one fast runner.」
She probably used some invisibility magic.
If she didn’t, there’s no way the adventurers wouldn’t see her.
And B-rank wasn’t some newbie rank either…they were experienced adventurers.
「Well, I guess she really is a forest hermit.」
「She changed the wasteland to forest too. She must be quite the magician.」
「She taught ME!」
「Yeah, that’s why your magic circles are so good.」
While we were talking Femm was running ahead. Femm wasn’t going full speed because it had to keep on the scent.
But it was quite a fast speed.
Moofy also was sniffing after Femm. A cow’s nose is sensitive too.
We quickly arrived at the capital’s gates.
The guard stopped us.
「You may not pass this gate. It’s night, so it’s been sealed.」
「I know. Do you let a magician named Vallimie through?」
「No, I did not.」
While Luka was talking with the guard, I spoke to the animals in spirit speech.
I also sent it to Luka and Vi-Vi to hear.
『Do you know which way Vallimie went?』
『She went out of the gate.』「Moo mooo」
Moofy and Femm both agreed that she went this way…out the gate.
The guard must have been fooled by her.
Luka quickly pulled out her card and showed it to the guard for permission.
An A-rank or above meant that you could leave without problem.
The guard knew Luka, too. He also knew she was the top S-Rank.
However, since the card trumped the guard’s own authority, it was possible that the guard was a bit peeved.
The capital guard, whether good or bad, was also a bureaucrat…in a way.
After we made our way through the gate, Femm asked,
『Can I grow to my big size again?』
Femm suddenly grew. I moved from Moofy to Femm.
Moofy looked a bit disappointed.
「How is Vallimie’s smell?」
『We’re getting closer.』
The smell must be getting stronger.
Femm sped up even more.
Even without having to carefully judge the smell, Femm could tell that it was getting closer.
Shiggy popped its head from my pocket. It cried out, enjoying the wind going by its face.
I could feel it flapping its wings in my pocket.
Ancient dragons were very fast. Maybe it was feeling its instinct kicking in.
From now I should start wearing looser clothing. Then Shiggy could flap its wings all it wants.
On the other hand, I could feel Vi-Vi’s anxiousness as she was about to meet her sister again.
「Vi-Vi, you okay?」
「Why?! Of course I am!!」
We ran a bit more, and suddenly a unicorn jumped out at us from the side of the road.