Translator: Kell | Editor: Weasalopes
Hikaru woke up early the next morning. He didn’t have enough sleep and the fatigue from walking all over the place yesterday hadn’t been alleviated.
「…I made the right choice in moving to a hotel. I can relax in my own room and my body feels a lot more comfortable on a bed.」
He had never stayed in a hotel once when he was in Japan, but he had some knowledge about it. When Hikaru first entered his room, his first thought was “I see. So it’s like this.”
There weren’t, however, any modular bathrooms or television. The corridors didn’t have vending machines – card or not – and laundromats, either.
「Have a good day~!」the cat-eared receptionist said as she waved goodbye.
…Is she here 24/7? Hikaru thought, but it was really none of his concern so he simply strode out of the hotel.
He was about to head for breakfast when…
Not again. The hotdog stand owner was staring at him once again.
「It’s 30 gilans.」
「Your hotdog better be good this time.」
It had red ketchup and mustard with no grains. Here goes nothing… Hikaru took a bite.
His eyes grew wide.
「W-Well?! How’s the taste?!」
「Why’s the ketchup watery?! This is worse than just being a bit mild!」
The hotdog tasted extremely bland. While fully disappointed, he already bought it. After finishing it, Hikaru left the hotdog stand. The owner had a sullen look on his face as his shoulders dropped despondently.
Hikaru made his way outside town, not the Adventurers Guild. He knew what he had to do.
First I need money.
It was always good to have money. He might need to spend some to save Lavia. His problem now was: it was the King that pinned the murder on her. While it was only her guess, Hikaru thought it held some weight. It was certainly plausible. After all, it was a Count that was killed. The murder of one of the top thirty influential people in the kingdom of Ponsonia. The culprit was found in just two to three days. Lavia couldn’t have confessed to it herself, so it must’ve been someone’s idea – someone from those thirty people.
It doesn’t really matter who we’re up against. I swear I’ll let her escape.
The truth is Hikaru had a chance to succeed. She will be transported the day after tomorrow. It would all come down to his preparations today and tomorrow. One of those is to make some money.
There you are.
The fastest way to make money was to hunt Red-horned Rabbits. Fifteen minutes after leaving town, he spotted one. One thrust from Hikaru’s Dagger of Strength took the creature’s life away. He felt a lot less guilt than yesterday.
I guess it’s all about getting used to it.
He stared at the blood-stained dagger, its blade covered in fat which he wiped off with a rag.
I’m sure killing humans is the same. You need to have a strong mind to control yourself.
Because of his blunder last night, he thought about killing the knights. It was pure luck that it all worked out fine in the end, but there was no guarantee that he’d be as lucky next time. In fact, he had to consider the possibility of ending up in a much tougher situation. After a lot of pondering, he made a few rules for himself.
1. If he concluded that someone must be killed, then he would do it without hesitation.
2. He should be fully prepared before Stealth infiltrations. There was no such thing as being too prepared.
3. Perform simulations of plans. He would not use the words “play it by ear”.
This was where his Stealth Skill came in – perfect for gathering information without much risk. How could he not put it to good use?
It’s my best weapon, after all…
By the time Hikaru killed his third Red-horned Rabbit for the day, he felt something.
「Wh-What’s going on?!」
His body was getting hotter. He trembled so much he wanted to just run.
「This is… the same sensation from when I killed the Count.」
It settled down after about ten seconds. Hikaru opened his Soul Board.
Age: 15 Count Rank: 5
「I knew it. My soul’s rank increased.」
He didn’t know how many living things he had to kill before his rank increased. From what he’d gathered so far, novice adventurers in their teens had a rank below ten. Those in their twenties had ranks between ten and twenty and people in their thirties had at most twenty-five. So Unken’s 51 was quite high. It most likely gets tougher to increase rank the higher you go, but I guess that makes sense.
「…So even killing Red-horned Rabbits increases one’s rank, huh? I wonder how much higher I can go in these two days…」
As part of his preparations, he had other things to do in the next two days: Gather information about the adventurers part of the convoy and getting levels. A person got one point every time their rank went up. Depending on how they use it, even one point could hold much power.
「I’ve already made up my mind to put the first point on this.」
Hikaru navigated through his Soul Board.
Hikaru’s sack with two Red-horned Rabbits was too heavy for him. He already struggled to carry one that didn’t have its innards removed. But going to the guild and back every time he killed one would be a waste of time. Every second counted right now. If there was a shortcut to efficiency, it would be to increase his Strength.
The Red-horned Rabbit he killed just now was short and round, as big as two watermelons put together. Yet he managed to lift it with just one hand.
「It’s light… holy cow…」
One point gives this much difference, huh? He recalled Zernenko’s Soul Board which had 3 points in Strength. Jill mentioned he was quite strong. It made sense now.
「Unken had 9 points I think…」
What kind of a world is this?
「Uh, now’s not the time to think about that. Let’s head back.」
It was already nearing noon. Carrying three Red-horned Rabbits, Hikaru headed back to town.
The gatekeeper stopped him to check his huge sack and was surprised. Shocked, even. When Hikaru told him someone taught him how to efficiently hunt rabbits, the gatekeeper was satisfied.
Hikaru remembered his idea of bringing a present to the guard who stood up for him. The guard was overjoyed when he gave him one of the Red-horned Rabbits. He said he’ll make stew out of it with his colleagues. Apparently the meat was quite delicious and could usually be eaten at big celebrations.
He had one less rabbit now, but he need only hunt more. After having lunch at a food cart, he carried the sack with the two Red-horned Rabbits to the guild.
His ears caught the voices of young people. He turned to look and saw a bunch of teenage adventurers gathered around. Two boys and three girls. They were having fun scanning the request board.
A party, huh? Definitely not for me.
It would be difficult to use Stealth if he were in a party. The other party members won’t be able to see him.
If I was reincarnated differently, would I have chosen a different Skill?
「Apparently a party of kids from the sticks.」
「Oh, the sticks, you say? A senior’s gotta teach them stuff, then.」
「There’s five people other than you who are thinking the same thing. Hehehe.」
A few adventurers approached the kids’ party.
Looks like they’re up to something again. The adventurers in this place sure are horrible. Maybe that’s why Jill keeps turning them down over and over again.
With a sigh, Hikaru made his way to the counter – to where Gloria was. Jill was already off duty.
「Hello. If it isn’t Hikaru-kun.」
「Please call old man Unken for me. And you better pay attention to those kids. They might fall victim to the games of those seasoned adventurers.」
「Thank you for the advice. Yes…」
Gloria shot a glance at them. The kids and older men were having a friendly conversation – on the surface, that is.
「I’ll keep an eye on them. So about Unken-san…」she said, turning her attention to the sack Hikaru was carrying.
「The old man personally assesses the value of Red-horned Rabbits, right?」he said casually.
There was a stir among the adventurers. Jill was right. It seemed Red-horned Rabbits were a lot rarer than Hikaru initially thought. He let out a small sigh.
I’m in a bit too much of a hurry. I shouldn’t let others hear about it. I’ll be more careful.
There were plenty of other ways to communicate, like writing. Nothing good would come out of being marked by the other adventurers.
「Okay. Please wait for a moment.」
Her tone was as composed as ever, but he saw the light in her eyes. This girl is the one I really have to be on guard around, Hikaru thought as he let out another sigh. Wanted: a land of repose.
When he met Unken again in the dissection area, the old man still had the crusty look on his face.
「I told you to come in the evening.」
「You’re the one who wants to assess Red-horned Rabbits. Plus I thought they’re perfect for lessons. I can leave them to you and come back later if you want, though.」
「Do you always have a comeback for everything? Anyway, it’s okay. Let’s do it now… Wait, did you bring two rabbits?」
Hikaru took out two rabbits and placed them on the work table. The National Hero was surprised.
「Come on… If they’re that rare, then make sure you disclose it properly. Like “rare species” or “SSR”…」
Hikaru couldn’t help but think pointless conflicts might occur simply because of adventurers not having common sense. What would’ve happened if he brought three rabbits? Leaving one with the guards was a wise decision.
「For the record, the horns are broken.」
「Of course they are! I won’t know what to do if you keep bringing ones with their horns intact. Speaking of which, I got the value of the horn from yesterday.」
「Oh. How much is it?」
「Well? Are you flustered?」
「I’m not flustered.」
He was extremely flustered. There were more zeroes now. It was only natural he’d get flustered.
「Plus the price of the meat from yesterday for a total of 147,500. 100,000 will be deposited to the guild and you’ll receive 47,500 cash. Does that sound good?」
「Wait a sec. What do you mean deposit? I can’t withdraw the money unless I come here?」
「What, you don’t even know that?」
Guild deposit was written on the guild card as additional information. Apparently money could be withdrawn from any branch.
So not only do these cards serve as ID, they can be used like ATM cards as well, huh? This is really just like something you’d see in science fiction.
「Oh, they told me it’ll fetch for a higher price at an auction. So what will you do?」
「You do auctions here?」
「In the royal capital.」
「They put monster horns for sale, huh?」
「There are different categories, but artwork is the main one. Monster materials are sold through bidding.」
「When’s the next auction?」
「Ten days from now, I think.」
「I can’t wait that long. I’ll sell them now and I want full payment. I’ll deposit 100,000 with the guild, though.」
He’d be handed a bag packed with gold coins if he chose to take the 100,000 gilans as well. Hikaru didn’t want to carry all that weight around.
Now I won’t have to make more money. Thank you, Red-horned Rabbits.
Afterwards, Unken taught Hikaru how to dissect. The old man offered him a dissecting knife from the guild for 100 gilans so he took it.
「…That should do it.」
「Thanks. This is really something that can’t be studied on your own.」
Hikaru made his way to a well and washed his hands. There were tricks to dissecting that simply reading books wouldn’t be enough. Now he just had to practice several more times. Also the method Unken taught him only applied to rabbit-like monsters.
「When I think about how there are still other kinds of creatures – reptiles, birds… I feel like just leaving the dissection to others.」
「Haha. You won’t be able to say that once you’re in a dungeon. You might have to eat monster meat. There might even be times when you just have to take home the necessary parts.」
「Dungeon? There are dungeons here?」
「That is correct. There are only two in Ponsonia, though.」
「Wh-Why are you getting fired up all of a sudden?」
Of course he’d get fired up. Dungeon meant adventures. Adventures meant dungeons!
I’ll have to wait for a while before heading to one, though.
Lavia’s rescue comes first. He wasn’t going to budge from what he’d decided.
「I have a question. Are there monsters around here that I can hunt?」
Unken mentioned several monsters.
「Got it. Any monsters I should stay away from, then?」
This was the actual question he wanted to ask. Details about the easier monsters could be looked up in the reference room. But no information was given on the more dangerous monsters. This was done so the adventurers stayed away from them. Actually “no information” wasn’t quite right. To be exact, their names and distinctive features were written, but nothing else. No mention about where they could be found.
「…Why do you want to know?」
Unken’s eyes narrowed. Must be his Instinct 4 working.
「So I stay away from them, of course. I’m thinking of making money around here for a while. I might have to go deep into the forest. It’s important to know how far I can go before it gets dangerous.」
「I suppose you’re right.」
The answer was enough to satisfy him. Hikaru had already predicted which questions Unken would find suspicious.
「There are three monsters you should be wary about. First is the Green Wolf.」
「A receptionist already told me about that one.」
「I see. How about Rogue Bees?」
「Never heard of it.」
According to Unken, Rogue Bees were bees the size of a coin. Their wings had degraded so they move by jumping from tree to tree. They normally operate alone, but if they saw someone or something as an enemy, they immediately call for friends.
「You’re probably thinking they don’t sound bad, aren’t you?」
Not in the slightest. Rather he was thinking about how much trouble it would be to kill one so he could rank up.
「They’re quite swift and their movements are unlike any other monsters. It’s hard for the eyes to get used to it.」
「Got it. What’s the last one?」
Haven’t heard of the name before.
「They’re about three meters tall and either operate alone or with a partner. A couple, basically. They look terrifying so it’s unlikely that you get close to them unwittingly.」
「What do they look like?」
「They have four arms and only one eye. Otherwise, their bodies are similar to humans, but they don’t wear anything and they have smooth skin.」
「That’s terrifying, all right.」
The perfect example of a legit monster. There was information about them in the reference room. Although they only mentioned things like “Green Giants” and “Forest Guards”.
「Where can they be found?」
「Just don’t go too deep into the forest; especially on the foot of mountains. The ecosystem in mountains change after all. There’s one place you should also be wary about: the lake on the east. Monsters breed in that area.」
「That’s about it… No, wait. There might be one more thing.」
「Goblins have been spotted near town recently. They might have a settlement somewhere. Stay away if you see one. They say once you find one, you might as well have found three hundred.」
So they reproduce faster than cockroaches?
Hikaru thanked Unken and left the premises. After having lunch at a food stand, he went back to the hotel.
Money left: 48,710 gilans (+100,000 gilans)
Two more days before Lavia’s transported. The next morning, Hikaru started early. The hotdog vendor wasn’t around so he took breakfast at a different place. After that, he bought a packed lunch for two and left town.
First is the lake to the east.
It was the place where Unken said monsters breed. He was going there naturally. It would take three hours by foot so he took a ride on a fast horse on which two could ride. It was owned by a dandy-looking man. Blankets were spread on the seat, making it a comfortable ride.
A one-way trip took thirty minutes and cost 100 gilans. More expensive than he had expected. He wasn’t sure what time he’d be back so Hikaru didn’t ask the man to pick him up.
「Don’t go deep into the forest! If I come by in the afternoon, I’ll check to see if you’re around. But don’t expect too much! Again, don’t go too deep!」
Apparently several people came to the lake since there were good fishing spots. Like Unken said, there are probably monsters farther into the lake. Swarms of them.
「That’s just what I want.」
Hikaru changed his class to Stealth God: Darkness Wanderer and activated all his Stealth Skills.
「Let’s go get some levels.」
Hikaru strolled towards the lake.
「My target is the Forest Guards.」
He was naturally going for the big shots.