Hikaru asked Jill a number of questions and one of them was about an inn for beginner adventurers. He showed his guild card to the crusty-looking clerk.
「100 gilans for a night.」he said curtly.
Hikaru handed one silver coin then headed to the second floor where his room was. It was massively spacious with a wooden floor covered in a mat. He would have to sleep on the floor tonight. There were other adventurers besides Hikaru; either young or shady-looking.
No sound of conversation could be heard except from those who knew each other. With his Stealth active, no one noticed Hikaru. He didn’t care for talking with adventurers of his age. That went double for the suspicious men. His stomach full from the yakisoba, Hikaru slept.
19,890 gilans left.
He woke up in the corner of the room. Perhaps because he slept with his stomach inflated, parts of his body felt stiff, as if it were screaming in pain. In that moment, he felt hungry.
Hikaru went down to the first floor and left the inn. Even with his Stealth off, the crusty clerk didn’t so much as spare a glance at him. I love this place.
He wanted more of the fried noodles from last night, but the man’s food cart wasn’t around yet. It’s probably too early. Different kinds of food carts were out in the early hours. They sold fruits, sandwiches, fried bread, noodles, and juice.
「Oh, they have it here too.」
What drew Hikaru’s attention was the hotdogs. Sausage wedged into a halved blackish bread. He asked for one, pointing at it.
「Hey there, kid. It’s 30 gilans each.」
A muscular man in his late twenties – who was probably better off as an adventurer – prepared the sandwich in swift efficiency.
He took a bite. The owner eagerly watched him as he ate, his face asking “Well? Tasty, right? Right?”
Hikaru was silent, his expression changed. He was expressionless, to be exact.
「It tastes… off…」
The sausage was tender, the bread tough, but it wasn’t that bad. The problem lay in the sauce. Why is it sweet and grassy-smelling? Who made this?
「It’s gotta be ketchup for hotdogs…」Hikaru muttered as he walked away.
The owner watched him go, dumbfounded. He thought Hikaru would shout “Yummy!” like a kid or something.
「What’s wrong with that kid? Hmm, he did say something. Ket…chup? Did he mean the sauce?」
The owner was deep in thought, muttering something under his breath as well.
Hikaru wandered around town, drawing a map in his head as he would surely be staying here for a while. He passed by the Adventurers’ Guild in his stroll. There weren’t a lot of people this early.
「…What’s up with her?」
Jill was behind the counter, her head on the desk.
「Is she sleeping? …Whatever.」
Shopping for gear was on top of his to-do list for today. I’ll check for requests later. Jill’s head rose abruptly.
「Hikaru-kun?! You came!」
「I-I uhh have… something to tell you. I…」
Jill seemed to hesitate. Hikaru smelled trouble.
「Good morning.」he said, turning around to leave.
That was the wrong move, though, apparently.
「…hehe. Right. Good morning, Hikaru-kun.」
Jill flashed him a smile.
This is not good… Honestly, I really don’t want anything to do with her, but she’s still a beauty. A smile from someone beautiful is just too effective.
A few people in the guild began stirring.
「Hey, did Jill-chan just…」
「She smiled! She did, didn’t she?!」
「Who the hell is that kid?!」
Jill seemed to have calmed down and spoke.
「Thank you for coming here again. I thought you wouldn’t come back.」
「I-I was kinda mean…」
「You sure were.」
Well, if you were aware of it, you shouldn’t have been mean in the first place.
「Eh. It doesn’t matter how a receptionist treats me. I’ll keep on coming back if I have business with the guild.」
「…Hikaru-kun. I bet people call you arrogant.」
Hikaru simply shrugged.
「You want to take a request?」
「No, I need some proper gear first. Ah, I wanted to ask you.」
「Ask me what?」
「Why did your attitude towards me change all of a sudden?」
Jill was silent for a bit, clearly not expecting the question.
「Wh-Why would you want to know?」
「I want to know why you’re apologizing.」
「Well, to put it simply… I realized I shouldn’t have taken out my frustrations on others just because I was too busy and having a hard time.」
Yes, any decent human being shouldn’t do that, Hikaru thought, but he dared not tell her that.
「Also, your actions are genuine. You simply speak your mind.」
Hikaru didn’t expect Jill’s words. She continued on.
「Other men have ulterior motives like making me fall for them or make me their woman. It’s even worse with women. I could see their malicious emotions. They’d be like “quit making eyes at men” or “don’t let things get to your head just because you’re cute”.」
The heck? Sounds scary as hell.
「But you’re not like them, are you? You’re honest, you don’t lie… It looked like you carefully considered the request you took. I’m sure there’s some luck involved as well. But you gathered all the necessary information and employed the appropriate method in collecting the glimmering poisonous plants. I’ve never seen anyone as humble as you.」
「You give me too much credit.」
There’s some nasty-looking classes if you look at my guild card. I might kill again in the future. Skills like Stealth and Assassination are all for shady jobs.
「I think I have a good eye for people, if I do say so myself.」
「Really? You could’ve treated me better the moment we first met, then.」
「I said I was sorry! Give me a break.」
Hikaru couldn’t help but grin broadly at Jill’s reaction.
「Anyway, you look exhausted.」
Dark clouds seemed to settle around her.
「…There are actually four receptionists.」
「Four? Where’s the other three then?」
「One went on a business trip with the guild submaster to the royal capital. One is on her yearly home leave. The other’s been sick since yesterday…」
「I see. That’s why you look so haggard.」
Hikaru felt slightly sorry for her.
「You’re a Civilian too, Hikaru, so you shouldn’t push yourself. My shift ends at noon today. I’ll find you a good request tomorrow.」
「Don’t give me that. A professional receptionist like me has at least one “trap” request that looks great from a newbie adventurer’s perspective. 」
「Like the request for collecting glimmering poisonous plants?」
Pouting, Jill glared at Hikaru, eyes watering. She must really feel bad about it.
「…Whatever. So do you have anything else you want to know about the guild?」
「Nah, I’m good.」Hikaru said, and considered something for a moment.
「There is something. Though it’s not about the guild.」
「What is it?」
「I heard something while I was wandering around town. Someone important was killed. Sounds like big news.」
A surprised expression dawned on her face.
「…Hikaru-kun. That news is top secret among top secrets. Only a few people know about it. Where’d you hear that?」
This is bad… It seemed that news of Morgstad’s death was being suppressed a lot more than expected.
「I heard it while I was wandering around starving so my memories are a bit cloudy. If top-secret news reached a guild’s receptionist, then maybe an adventurer had something to do with it?」
「It couldn’t have been an adventurer.」
Oh, she sounds pretty certain.
「They came to the guild for inquiries, asking us to check if there’s an adventurer with a powerful assassination class. I only know about it since I helped with the inquiry. A pure coincidence. It seemed they didn’t expect to find any leads, though. Wait, why am I even telling you all this?」
「You’re the one who just started talking.」
Looks like they don’t suspect me.
Hikaru felt relieved, but he knew better than to show that to Jill.
「All right. Thanks.」
「Don’t poke your nose where it doesn’t belong. An adventurer’s ironclad rule is to live long.」
「One “yeah” is enough.」
Hikaru raised a hand as he left the guild. Don’t poke my nose where it doesn’t belong? Heck, I’m related to the case. He couldn’t tell her that, of course.
After leaving the guild, Hikaru bought daily necessities: Spare underwear, soap, a towel, a toothbrush, flint, a rope, and a knapsack to put them all in. He spent 500 gilans all in all.
「Uh… armor… oh, here we are.」
He wanted to get out of Roland’s clothes, so he decided to buy armor first. Jill told him about this place yesterday.
Dodorono’s Armor Workshop. Apparently Dodorono was the name of the owner. It was common in this world to use their own names in the name of their workshops.
Hikaru was stunned as soon as he stepped in. The clothes on the wooden mannequins were all fancy with frills on them. There was even gothic lolita attire. I’m sure the owner is someone highly sophisticated.
A deep, thick voice came from within.
「I thank you for coming to me workshop!」
A dwarf. A male dwarf with long, frizzy beard that was braided.
Hikaru stood there, gaping. It’s a dwarf! Famous blacksmiths! Beings that sing hey ho while drinking alcohol!
So why is this one in the clothing business?
「I know what ye be thinking. How can a dwarf be so…」
「Ah, no. I wasn’t…」
「Give it to me straight!」
Stomping his feet, Dodorono flashed a smile.
「How can a dwarf be so fashionable?! Oh, you! Aren’t ye the honest lad, eh? I like honest guys!」
What an extremely positive guy. Hikaru told Dodorono his budget, and the latter picked his clothes for him.
「It looks good on you!」
「Guhahaha! My fashion sense had exhibited its real powers!」
「Whatever. Thank you very much.」
「What do you mean, whatever, huh?!」
After paying, Hikaru left Dodorono’s Armor Workshop. At first he thought “the name says armor, but all you have are fancy clothes” but apparently they were made with plenty of materials from monsters and were way tougher than iron-made armor.
Following Dodorono’s recommendation, he bought and donned the following:
· A Night Wolf Coat…. An overall made with the jet-black hide of a Night Wolf. Quite tough, yet light. It helps conceal your presence from others. But its pitch black color makes it too stuffy under direct sunlight.
· Night Wolf Boots… same as above. Silver threads are used for its laces, a trademark of Dodorono’s fashion sense.
· A Mantle (made of cloth)… made to repel direct sunlight. With hood.
Including size adjustments, everything cost 9,500 gilans. According to Dodorono, this gear was extraordinary.
On a side note, even though his craftsmanship was top-notch, there’s some prejudice about him being a dwarf apparently. People have this notion that dwarves are supposed to be blacksmiths. And as such, his shop is not flourishing.
Which is why he purchases cheaper raw materials and makes cheaper products to sell to beginner adventurers. Even then, these beginner adventurers want to do business with actual humans and not dwarves so when they make enough money, they find someplace else to buy their gear.
「Those lads sure have grown up!」
Dodorono sounded ecstatic, but somewhere there was hint of loneliness in his voice.
Hikaru folded Roland’s clothes and placed them inside his knapsack. With this, not a trace of Roland’s appearance remained. It seemed like a waste, but there was a chance that Morgstad’s murder would be traced to him if kept wearing the outfit. He found a place to burn garbage and set the clothes on fire there. There were people from the neighborhood around, but with Stealth, they didn’t notice him at all. All that’s left of Roland now is this body.
Hikaru’s next stop was a blacksmith so he could buy weapons. They’re crucial for self-defense, but also, an adventurer has to have at least one. He arrived at a place called Leniwood’s Weapon Workshop with smoke billowing from its chimney.
Hikaru stepped into the shop. Swords hung and filled the walls, and a metal armor stood on one spot. Wooden swords that looked like what people sold in Tokyo were in a corner on sale.
「Welcome! I’ve never seen you before!」
A dashing fellow came from within, making Hikaru freeze in place once again.
「Smithing is art, and art is power!」he said, rolling up his sleeves.
He was scrawny… in fact, he was a male elf, ears pointy and all that. With blond hair and green eyes.
「I don’t discriminate against young customers. What do you think of this claymore? Isn’t it just a wonder to look at? It even has a blessing that boosts your skills.」
That’s amazing! Hikaru studied the claymore hung on the wall. A two-handed sword, its blade about a meter long. He couldn’t use it, but it must be quite sharp if it had a blessing.
「It boosts spirit magic!」
Hikaru almost blurted out “What?” Spirit magic? But aren’t swords used for physical attacks?”
「Next we have this steel longbow. This one also comes with a buff…」the elf said, puffing out his chest.
「Cold wind blows after you shoot an arrow!」
Useless… or rather, meaningless.
「Your face says “Why? What’s it for?”」
Uh, no, I think it’s pointless. Hikaru couldn’t bring himself to say the words.
「So that after you shoot… you’d be like “damn, so cold!”」
See! I knew it was pointless! I’m ashamed of myself for thinking maybe the arrow had some kind of special effect.
「Your outfit… you got that from Dodorono, correct?」
His expression suddenly turned serious.
「I see. So you came after being recommended by the guild. By Jill. Then I must give you something decent. I’m Leniwood Mal Eiora. What’s your name?」
「Hikaru, it is! I’ve got something nice here for you!」
Just like with Dodorono, Leniwood picked weapons for him at his own pace.
· Dagger of Strength… 5,000 gilans. A dagger preferred by people that need to be agile. For some reason, it has a blessing that increases one’s strength. With a length of 25 centimeters, it looked more like a knife handy for everyday use rather than a dagger for killing.
Hikaru chose the weapon as it was easy for him to get close with his Stealth. He needed a weapon that would prove mighty in short range. Also he had a tight budget. The other weapons cost at least 10,000 gilans.
Just like that, he was down to 4,860 gilans after earning 20,000 gilans only yesterday. Nevertheless, Hikaru’s gear was now complete.