The sun hung low in the horizon. The desolate mausoleum stood there, basking in the glow of the sunset. Over ten adventurers gathered around outside, waiting for Hikaru and Lavia.
「What was that tremor just now? It sounded bad.」
「It’s natural for a few cave-ins to happen underground…」
「I think it’s safer not to get close until it settles down. That last one was terrible.」
「Oh, there’s another one.」
They stopped talking and looked puzzled the moment Hikaru and Lavia stepped out of the mausoleum. What are these babies doing here? Their eyes spoke louder than words.
「I thought you escaped a long time ago.」
The guild official in-charge of the entrance noticed Hikaru.
「Whoa, this kid went into the dungeon and the guild knew about it?」
「Well, he’s rank E so he met the requirements.」
The adventurers looked surprised.
Hikaru and Lavia passed through them, drawing curious stares.
「I guess there’s really people who pay to get promoted.」one of the adventures said in a mocking tone.
「Look at them. They’re filthy. The undead probably scared them and they just ran around the place, hiding.」
「Ah, yes, that makes sense.」
「They do look dirty.」
The adventurers burst into laughter. Hikaru let out a small sigh. That was all. He was too exhausted to deal with them.
「Looks like we’re right on the mark! 」
Once again, they laughed. Hikaru thought about ignoring them, but his feet stopped.
「Are you the last one?! Did you see what happened?!」
It was Gafrasti N. Valves and his companion, Aglaia Van Houtens.
「Sir Valves. You don’t need to talk to this boy. I’m sure all he did was run. He doesn’t know what happened inside.」the guild official said in a soft voice as he approached Gafrasti.
By nature, the Adventurers Guild was an independent organization separate from the government. Still they asked certain permissions from the kingdom so sucking up to nobles was necessary. It would appear that Gafrasti was out here asking questions to those who came from the dungeon.
「Did you see a dragon climb towards the skies?!」
The adventurers looked exasperated and seemed to mock him. They weren’t aware of what happened. Gafrasti desperately asked Hikaru for answers.
「Gafrasti N. Valves.」Hikaru said.
「…You know me?」
Hikaru took out a scroll from his bag. Aglaia stepped in front of the old man as if to protect him. She might’ve thought Hikaru meant harm.
「What are you doing? Try anything funny and I’ll cut you down.」Aglaia snapped at him. Gafrasti just stood there befuddled, mouth agape.
Pushing Aglaia aside, Gafrasti approached Hikaru in staggered steps. He tried to grab the scroll, but Hikaru quickly pulled it back.
「G-Give me that!」
「How much will you pay? We risked our lives for this.」
Surprised, Gafrasti thrust his hand into his pocket.
「I only have this much with me right now! But if this scroll is really the one I’ve been looking for, I’ll pay you double!」
Hikaru peered into the pouch. It was filled with dazzling, white coins he hadn’t seen before. Silver coins.
「There’s a million gilans in here. You’re going to give me twice the amount?」
The guild official’s eyes widened at the number. Hikaru was just as surprised. He had expected the old man to offer a huge payment, but he didn’t think it would be this easy.
「S-Sorry, that’s too low. I’ll pay you ten times more. Ten million gilans.」
The guild official and adventurers couldn’t keep up with the absurdity of it all. They just stood there, their breaths taken away. Even Hikaru was astonished that the man increased the amount like it was nothing.
This scroll is that important to him, huh…
He had a rough idea that Gafrasti was going to use this scroll. Indeed, it could be an ace up his sleeve. The payment was appropriate. Its value could be even higher. But then he wouldn’t get paid till much later.
「Sir Valves, is this scroll the thing you’ve been looking for?」Aglaia asked.
「Yes.」Gafrasti replied, nodding.
「Okay, ten million gilan sounds good to me. Can you deposit it into my guild account?」Hikaru said, taking out his guild card. He left the job class field blank. All they needed was the branch where he was affiliated and they could send the money. Gafrasti noted it down.
「I promise the money will come. So, about that scroll…」
「Sure, you can pay me later.」
Hikaru tossed the scroll. Gafrasti received it in a panic, sinking down to the ground.
「D-Don’t throw it!」
「It’s worthless to me. I won’t be staying in this kingdom for long anyway.」
Gafrasti looked like he realized something from Hikaru’s words.
「…I see. How much do you know?」
「Just a guess. I don’t really intend to find out.」
Aglaia helped Gafrasti up.
「Is that so… I wanted to ask about what you saw inside. So you’re leaving, huh?」
「Don’t you need to check the scroll?」
「It’s fine. If it turns out to be fake, I won’t pay you. That’s all.」
It sounded as if the initial payment of one million gilans was nothing but small change to him.
「Okay. Bye. I’m sure we won’t see each other again.」Hikaru said. He was about to leave when Gafrasti stopped him.
「Wait. Where are you headed to? Don’t tell me you’re going to Quinbland.」
Quinbland – the empire currently at war with Ponsonia.
「…I haven’t really thought about it.」
「Then can I ask you a favor? If you accept, I’ll add one more million to your payment.」
「What is it?」
「I want you to go to the Allied Nations of Forestia, meet someone, and give them a message for…」
Aglaia cut him off.
「Sir Valves. You can contact them the usual way.」
「That takes too long. This is an urgent matter. Besides, this boy… No, this adventurer has a vague idea of the situation. She will listen to him for sure.」
Gafrasti took out a handkerchief with a magnificent embroidery from his pocket.
「My name is on it. You can show it to verify your identity.」
「Hmm, I suppose it’s fine.」
Taking the handkerchief, Hikaru accepted the request without proper consideration. In any case, he was set on leaving Ponsonia. He hadn’t thought about where to go from here.
The Allied Nations of Forestia was one of the countries adjacent to Ponsonia. He’d planned to travel the world anyway so it wouldn’t hurt to drop by the place. Gafrasti would add one more million to his payment as well.
「So who am I meeting?」Hikaru asked.
「Zofira Van Houtens, Minister of Internal Affairs and head of the cabinet. She’s a lady of character.」
Van Houtens… the same family name as Aglaia, who had a slight sour look on her face.
Hikaru nodded. It didn’t matter who it was. If all he had to do was meet with them, it was a simple mission.
「All right, then. Bye… Oh, right.」Hikaru added.「The dungeon’s completely collapsed. There goes your source of income, I guess. You better move somewhere else.」he addressed the adventurers.
The adventurers looked at each other. A few of them rushed towards the mausoleum.
The young adventurer was now gone from sight. Gafrasti, who saw him off, laughed.
「He accepted my request without hesitation. He looks like an ordinary boy.」
「S-Sir Valves, what’s going on? Who was that kid?」the guild official asked, confused. All he knew was Gafrasti gave the boy a huge sum of money.
Gafrasti unraveled the scroll and glanced at its contents. It was exactly what he was looking for.
「I’d like to ask you to do something, Sir.」Gafrasti whispered to the guild official.
「What would that be?」
「For the official records, I want you to report this: Adventurer Hikaru cleared the dungeon Underground City of the Ancient Gods.」
「I, Gafrasti N. Valves, a historian, will attest to it. This scroll can only be obtained in the deepest part of the dungeon. I’m sure of it.」
Gafrasti fingered his pocket, but he gave the coins he kept in there to the boy just now. Aglaia took out a few gold coins and handed it to Gafrasti, who in turn, gave it to the official.
「I’m counting on you.」
「I-I can’t accept this.」
「It’ll take up your time. Just think of it as a handling fee. I’m not telling you to lie. I just want you to spread the truth out there quick.」
「I see. Very well.」
The official was beaming, having received casual income. He didn’t believe for a second that the boy he made light of cleared the dungeon. But a noble said so and he took on the task. That was more than enough to submit a report back to the guild, not knowing that it would be related to an event that would shake the very foundation of the kingdom at a later time.
「It’s just as the kid said!」One adventurer came out of the mausoleum.
「The entrance is completely blocked! We can’t enter the dungeon like this!」
「Is this for real?」
「All the charting we did is now useless!」
The adventurers were in an uproar.
「Let’s go.」Gafrasti said.
The historian and Aglaia made their way to Root Hubbard.
「We’ll be busy from now on. We’re letting everyone know the correct history of this kingdom, after all.」he said more to himself.
A wind — too cold for early summer — blew by.
This was the first time the name “Hikaru” appeared in the Adventurers Guild official records.
『Hikaru, member of the Pond Adventurers Guild of the kingdom of Ponsonia, together with one other person, had cleared the dungeon Underground City of the Ancient Gods. He didn’t belong to any party. The historian Gafrasti N. Valves testified to his achievement and presented a scroll that could only be found in the deepest part of the dungeon as proof. Its contents will be released to the public after inspection.
The adventurer was rewarded 11,000,000 gilans by the Ponsonia Royal Family Relics Research Society, depositing the money to his guild account.』
News of an adventurer clearing the dungeon quickly spread to other guilds. For most of them, it was nothing more than a simple report. But Pond was different.
「They cleared the dungeon with only the two of them?! What’s going on here?!」
The first one who received the news was Unken, the guildmaster, whose voice cracked from surprise. The receptionists were the next to know.
「What are you doing, Hikaru-kun?!」
「Well, well… what an achievement. I wonder when he’ll be back in Pond.」
Jill and Gloria were unaware that the boy had already left the kingdom.
「I knew it! He’s from another world too!」
Selica Tanoue of the Four Stars of the East had her eyes on the name Hikaru as well.
The people concerned anxiously waited for a follow-up report. One month had passed and nothing came. The boy didn’t return to Pond.
An incident shook the kingdom of Ponsonia. A noble who claimed to be the rightful heir to the throne had appeared. At the same time, the Allied Nations of Forestia raised doubts as to the legitimacy of the current Ponsonian royalty. This interfered with Ponsonia’s conquest, who was winning the war with the Quinbland Empire.
History books in the future would not show that a boy and a girl were behind all these events.