It was not long after Hikaru left town when the gatekeeper got worried. Six adventurers went past the gate as if in pursuit of him.
「Excuse me. Can you come with me for a bit? There’s something I want to check. It’ll only take fifteen minutes.」
He was talking to the unit of guards stationed at the gate. They nodded right away and accompanied the gatekeeper. His hunch was right. After a bit of walking, he spotted six adventurers making a racket.
「Hey, he’s not here!」
「Where’d that brat go?!」
「He couldn’t just disappear in such a short time! Why the hell didn’t you keep your eyes on him?!」
「I could say the same to you!」
Sounds disturbing judging by their words. The gatekeeper warily approached them.
「What’s with all the ruckus? I heard what you said. Did you need anything from that kid that left town just now? Why didn’t you talk to him in town?」
The adventurers went silent.
「Can you please come with me to the station?」
「Th-There’s no need for that. It’s really nothing. Right?!」
「Y-Yeah! Nothing wrong here.」
「Come with me to the station. That’s an order.」the gatekeeper repeated, with more force this time.
The adventurers shrank back. They were taken away, their heads hanging down low. A while later, while surrounded by brawny soldiers…
「What?! You wanted to teach him a lesson and put him in place because he gained the favor of a receptionist?! What the hell were you thinking?! For goodness sake, you’re grown men! This is exactly why women don’t give you the time of day!」
…they received a good talking-to. Incidentally, the soldiers informed the Adventurers Guild of the incident.
Jill now had one more reason to be worried.
Completely unaware of all the commotion, Hikaru wandered through the meadows.
「Red-horned Rabbits live near town. They’re an unusual bunch as there’s less and less of them as you go farther out. But then again, there are no ferocious monsters near town so it’s easier for them to breed.」
That was what he got from the reference room earlier. They were detailed, providing information on their ecological distributions and habitat.
「It did mention that they’re extremely difficult to kill… no, difficult to hunt. As to why…」
Hikaru spotted his target. It was behind some bushes, quite some distance away. A Red-horned Rabbit. Fairly big for a rabbit, it was about the size of a cardboard box for oranges. On its head was a deep-red horn. Apparently the longer the horns, the more valuable they were. But most of them would snap off over the course of their lives. In fact, the one Hikaru spotted had a broken horn.
It was less than a hundred meters away. Hikaru switched his class to that of a Civilian. There didn’t seem to be any change in its behavior. Next, he deactivated his Stealth.
Abruptly the Red-horned Rabbit raised its head, looking around restlessly.
「So it can notice me even when I’m this far.」
Hikaru turned his Stealth back on and moved closer. The creature seemed to have forgotten its discomfort as it shoved its face back onto the ground. He drew nearer. Fifty meters. Thirty meters…
The Red-horned Rabbit raised its head once more, but this time, it looked straight at Hikaru’s direction and fled at a ridiculous speed.
「Literally ran like a scared rabbit…」he muttered.
「No, wait. So thirty meters is the limit of my Stealth. I was quite confident with my Skill too. It’s rough going against a monster that specializes in anti-Stealth.」
Hikaru let out a low groan.
「Wait a sec. That rabbit looked towards my direction. So it knows where I am exactly. The only explanation for that is…」
It has either Life or Mana Detection.
「I have one point each on Life Obfuscation and Mana Obfuscation. So it has a means to pierce my Skills. I don’t know how powerful it is exactly, but… Whatever. Let’s try my class next.」
It took fifteen minutes for him to find another Red-horned Rabbit. He’s already switched his class to Stealth God: Darkness Wanderer.
He approached the creature through its blindspot, so it might’ve played a part. But still, he couldn’t believe what was happening. At his feet was a rabbit, about 60 centimeters in length, its face shoved onto the ground. Just by changing classes, he was able to get this close.
The creature he spotted this time still had its horn intact. According to the information he got from the reference room, Red-horned Rabbits with horns not yet broken were rare.
「Time to kill it I guess.」he muttered, though the creature didn’t seem to hear it.
It was digging through the ground, chewing insects and worms.
Hikaru gripped his Dagger of Strength tightly. He was about to kill the creature. He left town, fully prepared to do so. And yet, the point of his blade was shaking. Hikaru heaved a sigh.
「This is stupid. I’ve already killed a man, and yet here I am, hesitating to kill an animal, feeling sorry for it.」
But unlike the innocent Red-horned Rabbit, Morgstad deserved to die.
He knew. It was like how meat sold at a supermarket wouldn’t bother him, but he might feel sorry for the animals if he went to a slaughterhouse. He understood his sentiment. He knew why he was hesitating. Pity.
「Man, I’m really stupid…」 he said, putting his hand together.
He knew it was pointless. There was no God in this world.
He then drew his dagger and in one motion, stabbed the creature’s back all the way to its heart. He felt no resistance as the blade took its life away. Must be the effect of the Assassination Skill.
Blood seeped into the earth. Feeling weak from his knees all the way down to his feet, Hikaru steeled himself. He let go of the dagger and put his hands together once more.
「I’m so stupid.」 he muttered again.
It was all quick after killing the creature. He skillfully hung the corpse by the creek to drain the blood and cut its stomach open to remove the innards. Doing this would make it lighter and apparently make the meat tastier. The heart and its two kidneys could be sold at high prices though, so he left those. He then tossed the corpse into a plastic bag he’d bought for his daily necessities. After washing his hands with soap, he headed back to town. It was lunch time, but he didn’t have the appetite to eat his sandwich.
When Hikaru got to the gate, the gatekeeper tapped his shoulder and nodded for some reason.
「Go to the Adventurers Guild.」
It sounds like something happened while I was gone. He headed toward the guild, which was his plan all along anyway.
When he returned, Jill and Gloria were both at the counter. Jill was about to dash towards Hikaru, but after casting a sidelong glance at Gloria, she stopped. She then returned to dealing with the adventurers like nothing happened.
She kept shooting glances at Hikaru, though. He understood what she was trying to say with those eyes. Over here. Come here. Don’t go over to Gloria. The eyes could speak a thousand words.
Hikaru smelled trouble, but going over to Gloria would only make Jill upset. Without much of a choice, he strode towards Jill. As always, adventurers were gathered around the two women in clusters, hitting on them.
Are these guys really adventurers? Don’t they have anything better to do? Although, following one’s basic instincts to find a suitable female partner and putting effort into it isn’t exactly wrong… or is it?
Hikaru waited for work to settle down a bit before slipping into the first row.
「I’m here to deliver—」
「You’ve come at the most opportune time, Adventurer Hikaru. I want to talk to you in the booth.」
「I want to talk to you in the booth.」
「I want to talk to you in the booth.」
After repeating it three times, Jill sauntered towards the booth.
Hikaru could feel the men’s icy glares drilling into him.
…Man, what a pain. I’d be in trouble if they remember my faces. I should buy a mask.
He entered the booth.
「I’m sorry!」Jill exclaimed before he could say anything else.
She bowed her head, both hands on the table. The adventurers wondered what was going on. These guys just have to react to Jill’s every action, don’t they? You too, Gloria. Stop looking here and focus on your work.
「…I’m sorry. I’m not sure I follow.」
「You might’ve not noticed but you were actually tailed by adventurers. Six of them」
「What about it?」
「They’re, uh… my fans apparently. They seemed to think I was showing you too much favoritism so they wanted to harass you.」
Harass? You mean beat me up.
「I knew. So?」
「So they were following me. What about it?」
「I did. Heck, it was too obvious. I think the levels of the adventurers here are a bit on the low side.」
「Th-That’s not true! Zernenko is known for being skilled for his young age. He’s still only rank E, but people expect great things from him in the future.」
What? That guy? If I recall correctly, he had 1 point on his Sword mastery. Is one point actually fairly strong?
「He has a class called One-handed Swordsman Technician: Technical Swordsman5.」
「Ah, I see. So he has a good job class. But it’s a five-character class, isn’t it?」
「Yes. He’s cut out to be a fighter.」
So five-character classes can draw attention already. I shouldn’t tell anyone about my classes and the Soul Board.
「Hikaru-kun? What’s wrong?」
「Ah, I know! You’re scared! I understand. You’re scared because a skilled adventurer with a five-character class has his eyes on you. But rest assured! They received a warning from the guards about their unbecoming behavior and they’ll be under surveillance for a while!」
He wasn’t actually the least bit scared, but he didn’t bother explaining that to Jill. I’ll just let her believe what she wants to believe.
On another note, Hikaru now understood the reason behind the gatekeeper’s amicable expression. The adventurers who followed Hikaru were clearly acting suspiciously, so the guards arrested them.
They weren’t really a threat to me, but they were certainly annoying.
Hikaru felt good knowing someone was worried about him and even protected him.
Should I give him a box of cakes? Going by Roland’s memories, they have that custom here as well.
「So there you have it. You don’t have to worry about anything. You’re being protected!」Jill said as she started patting Hikaru’s head out of the blue.
Hikaru’s thoughts froze. Wait, she’s patting my head?
「It’s very uncomfortable. I hate it.」
「Whaaaat?! Why?! Are you the type who likes the same sex, and not the opposite? I know there are people like that.」
「No. Don’t think that others will be delighted with whatever you do. Let me get this straight. Your attitude towards me will only elicit unnecessary misunderstandings. Those simple-minded adventurers will then be out to get me.」
「Ah, I-I’m sorry. Next time I’ll give you head pats where no one could see us.」
That’s not what I’m saying!
Hikaru wanted to tell her that, but he knew it’ll never get through to her head. My head hurts.
「Whatever. So are you done? Then I want you to assess the stuff I brought.」
「Yes, of course. I’ll do it right awa— what?」
Jill stared blankly at him.
「I hunted down a Red-horned Rabbit.」
「Y-You’re joking. That’s impossible.」
「I’m not joking. Though I only got one.」
Hikaru opened the bag he had by his foot and showed it to her. The smell of blood and animal drifted from within.
「…Hikaru-kun, you really are one lucky guy.」Jill said, amazed.