The Intimidating Unken
Apparently an expert would assess the value of the Red-horned Rabbit, not Jill. She rang a bell and an old man emerged from a room inside. His hair was long and white all over, with a bun on top. The rest he left hanging as they met with his mustache and beard, making his head look like a lump of white hair. About a hundred fifty centimeters tall, he was half a head shorter than Hikaru.
「A gnome…?」Hikaru muttered.
「He’s from a race called Man Gnomes. Don’t say anything about it, or he’ll get mad.」Jill whispered.
Ugh, another pain in the neck.
「What do you want, Jill? I’m busy! We have a visitor from the royal capital coming soon.」
「I know. But you’re the one who insisted on assessing Red-horned Rabbits.」
Unken’s gaze rested on Hikaru for the first time.
He warily examined Hikaru’s whole body before turning around and heading back inside.
「If you go through this passageway, you’ll arrive at a separate building. That’s where the dissection is done. Just follow Unken-san.」
With a tap on his shoulder, Jill returned to the counter. Adventurers who saw the intimate gesture seethed with bloodlust.
「…I just told her to stop doing that.」
Feeling weary, Hikaru went after Unken.
The place where dissection was done looked like a huge garage. While only made of wood, expertly-placed beams secured the enormous structure. Dangling down from the naked beams were chains with hooks where large animals were hung for dissections.
「Take it out.」
Hikaru placed the bag on a stone table. Unken took the Red-horned Rabbit from within and examined its insides.
In the meantime, Hikaru summoned Unken’s Soul Board. He was curious about the way he carried himself so warily earlier. And his hunch was right.
【Soul Board】Unken F. Balzack
Age: 211 Rank: 51
「What?」Hikaru blurted out.
「What do you mean “what”?」
「Uh, no, it’s nothing.」
Unken eyed Hikaru suspiciously before turning his attention back to the Red-horned Rabbit.
Wait, wait, wait… This geezer’s unreal! He even has a Stealth-type Skill that I don’t. He only has one point on it, though. Hmm? Hold on a sec. Something’s not right with his remaining points.
Hikaru cautiously calculated. Unken had allocated a total of 74 points to his Skills. Add that to his remaining 47 points, you got a total of 121 points. His rank was outstanding, but his age of 211 was even more incredible. If one gained 1 point per year, then his remaining points were way off.
It must be one-third, then. 211 divided by 3 is around 70. 70 plus his rank of 51 gives a total of 121. The figures add up. Some species in this world have shorter lifespans while some have longer. So the timing of granting points is different for each species depending on the lifespans.
It felt like the wrong things were being balanced.
So Group Obfuscation… Unlocking it must require two points each on Life Obfuscation Mana Obfuscation, and Imperceptibility. This guy has almost the same Skillset as me. I wonder if he’s a Rogue-type.
Hikaru wanted to know how powerful Unken was. Unlike Hikaru who had poured his points into one Skill, maxing it out, the old man only had a few points for each. It felt like he was putting more points on Skills crucial for a Rogue-type character. If he knew how strong Unken was, he could use him as a point of reference to assess how strong he himself was.
「Is it fun to stare at me like that?」
Hikaru gave a start.
Right, he has 4 points on Instinct… I doubt he knows I’m checking his Soul Board, though.
「It’s just that I haven’t seen you in the guild before.」
「What do you usually do?」
「That’s none of your business.」
「Judging from Jill’s behavior, the Guildmaster perhaps?」
「…I’m just an assessor.」
Either Hikaru did well in changing the subject, or Unken really disliked being probed over.
「Anyway, about the Red-horned Rabbit… You’ve never dissected before, haven’t you?」
「The way you cut it is awful. What did you use?」
Hikaru took out his Dagger of Strength. Unken stared at it then heaved a sigh.
「…You fool. Don’t use a killing weapon for dissection. Use a proper tool for it. You cut its skin and flesh when you took out its internal organs. Here. The meat will taste awful if blood seeps into the flesh.」
「You’re right. I see it.」
「The way you cut open its belly is also horrible. You could’ve carried it without dissecting. Its value won’t drop if you returned in two or three hours…」he said, glancing at Hikaru.「…is what I would say, but with those muscles of yours, I don’t think it’s possible. It’s too heavy for you to carry.」
「Yeah, I’m aware of that.」
「I’d tell you to form a party with others, but then you won’t be able to capitalize on your strengths. You look skilled in moving unnoticed.」
「I must say, it’s quite strange. Red-horned Rabbits have extremely keen senses. You’re wearing Night Wolf gear, correct? Yet it should’ve still noticed you.」
He sees through everything.
「…The rabbit ran and tripped over a tree stump.」
「That’s why I was able to kill it.」
Hikaru gave him an ambiguous answer. A lie. I don’t think this world has the story about a rabbit that tripped over a tree stump and died.
「Hmm. So you’re saying you just got lucky?」
「Let’s say for the sake of argument, it wasn’t a case of pure luck. I don’t think it’s okay to probe around someone’s special skills. But I suppose the guildmaster would want to know, huh?」
「Are you trying to bait me?」
Damn, he got me. That’s a 211-year-old geezer for you. In his mind, Hikaru stuck out his tongue at the old man.
「So, about the rabbit. There’s a cut on its right hind leg so its value as meat is lower. What a waste. This is the most delicious part too. We can buy it for 7,000 gilans.」
「…Oh, you don’t complain, huh?」
Hikaru knew he would get around this much. After all, a complete amateur dissected it.
「I can’t afford to waste my time here complaining. Money can’t buy me time.」
「Why are you in such a rush?」
「I probably won’t be if I could live for 200 years like a Man Gnome.」
Unken scowled at him once more. I probably said a little bit too much.
「Well, for a rabbit that tripped, its body is spotless. Don’t you want to know the price of its hide? 」
Unken was trying to get even. He’s already saw through Hikaru’s lies.
「They don’t fetch for much, do they?」
「Hmm, I suppose not. Around 500 gilans. I’ll add it to the overall cost.」
「The price of the horn.」
Unken smiled for the first time. Actually it was more like the corner of his mouth turned up just a little bit.
「So you know about that.」
「I read about it in the reference room. Red-horned rabbits with horns intact are rare and that the horn has medicinal effects.」
「I thought you were simply an arrogant, despicable kid, but I guess not. You actually do your homework. Can you afford to waste your time studying, though?」
「I like studying. If you call a diligent kid arrogant, you’re also basically making light of the benefits acquired from the development of civilization.」
「Do you hear yourself right now? You actually sound arrogant. Hahaha!」
Unken burst out laughing.
「If you don’t mind, I can teach you how to dissect in my free time.」
「Well, that’s just exactly what I wanted.」
「Come tomorrow evening.」
「Sounds good to me. Thanks.」
「All right. Bye.」Unken said, raising his hand and tried to leave.
「Wait, hold on a sec! You haven’t assessed the horn yet.」
「And here I thought I managed to trick you.」
Damned geezer, Hikaru thought, his cheek twitching. Unken simply looked at the horn and groaned.
「A horn as splendid as this is rare. We don’t actually have current market values for it. I would have to contact the Alchemists Guild and the Doctors Guild first. You’ll know tomorrow evening. I’ll give you your overall payment, then.」
「All right. Sheesh, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t try to play me.」
「Says the kid who lied by bringing up an old story of a rabbit that tripped on a tree stump.」
Hikaru wanted to know more about Unken from Jill, but as always, she was surrounded by adventurers. He wasn’t going to charge straight to her. As soon as Gloria noticed him, she started moving quickly, so Hikaru had to get out of there quick.
Hikaru was shocked that Unken knew about the story of the rabbit. It wasn’t as if the old man knew the exact details, but he was familiar with it. He asked the old man about it, but his only answer was “I think I heard it from the elders in my hometown” and apparently he was only a kid back then.
There’s a chance that someone was reincarnated to this world like me.
On the one hand, it was a surprising revelation. Yet, it also wasn’t. There was always the possibility. Hikaru was brought here by the genius Roland. He used a world-crossing spell; something like magic but not exactly magic either. He had the resources to do research about such a powerful spell which meant he had data about other worlds.
I suppose there’s really no need to find others like me.
Hikaru doubted they could use the Soul Board like him. After all, he only obtained the ability by chance after stealing a bag that contained light inside when he was in the heavenly realm. Even if they also got the same kind of bag, them having the same ability was unthinkable. Roland even said it manifested into one’s own personal magic spell or Skill.
「Now, then… What to do?」
He didn’t feel like going out of town again today. Eating his sandwich at a rest area by the main street, Hikaru pondered his next move. Besides him, there were housewives who were in the middle of shopping, standing and chatting with each other, an errand boy taking a nap, among others.
「I want to know more about this world. Roland’s knowledge is limited to things that are noble-related. But before that…」
He stuffed the last piece of his sandwich into his mouth and stood up.
「Let’s find a different inn.」
Hikaru longed for an actual mattress.
While an inn with a master, a hostess, and a poster girl was enticing to him, Hikaru shut the idea out of his mind. He probably wasn’t going to say in town long. Building deep relationships with others would only make it harder to leave. It would dull his judgment. He’d already gotten quite deep in his relationship with Jill (although pretty-much one-sided), but there was nothing he could do about that since she worked at the Adventurers Guild.
So he wound up at a business hotel. A five-storey building, it looked like a matchbox. Every room was exactly the same, with only a bedroom. In this world, five stories was actually high class. Plus he had his own private room. Although shared, the hotel also had a steam room. It cost 1,000 gilans for a night; ten times the beginner adventurers’ inn he stayed at before.
「Are you really staying here, Sir?」
On the first floor’s reception desk was a woman wearing a uniform. She eyed Hikaru suspiciously – or rather, with great interest. Twitching on top of her head were cat ears. Her fluffy, light green hair hung gently and tied behind her back.
「1,000 gilans per night, right? For now, I’ll be staying for three nights.」
Hikaru took out 3,000 gilans and handed it to her. Blinking relentlessly, the cat-eared girl took the money. Her ears twitched in rhythm with her blinks as well.
I’ve read a novel with a protagonist that was so obsessed with cat ears. How can he be so hung up on them? Had he not touched a cat before in his life?
「You must be rich, Sir. You’re also wearing nice clothes.」
「Really? I’m glad you like it.」
Dodorono would surely love to hear that as well.
「Yes! So, there are a few things to remember in this hotel. You have your own room and it’s soundproof as well. You may call for a woman, but she can’t stay for the night. Okay?」
「…What did you just say?」
「I’m sorry, Sir. Do you prefer calling for men?」
Seriously, first Jill, and now her. Where do they get that idea?
「Ah, do most guests stay here for that?」
「Yes. Isn’t that usually the case?」
「I’m sorry. I don’t really know what passes as “usual” around here (this world).」
「Guests call for me too, you know?」
For real?! You can call for the cat-eared receptionist?
His heartbeat started racing all of a sudden. It was hard to believe he was just questioning what was so good about cat ears a second ago.
I mean, I’m technically a boy. Yes. It’s a natural reaction.
「Though I turn them down. Ahaha!」
「Are you getting flustered, Sir?」
Hikaru calmed his heart down.
Indeed. It’s not right to pay money for it. Not at all. Plus, I want my first to have me as her first as well. It’s not because I don’t want my partner to find out I don’t have any experience. Yup, definitely not. I just prefer it that way.
She leaned forward and whispered into his ears.
「I might gladly say yes if you called for me, Sir.」
Hikaru almost handed her his whole wallet.
Money left: 1,830 (+7,500+α)