We kept following the Red Wolf footprints, finally finding them after we’d left the woodland.
They seemed to never settle in the same place twice. We identified a slightly smaller wolf with a number of juveniles around it. They seemed to be learning to hunt, supported by their parents as they attacked goblins.
The fact they were constantly moving was the reason we couldn’t let them get away. There were six in total ― two adults and four juveniles.
「Are you ready?」
「Yeah. I can’t help seeing them as cute, but I need to make a living too.」
Mear-san’s adventurer rank would be demoted again if she failed this time. Getting demoted was a shameful thing for an adventurer, since it was generally so easy to avoid.
Mear-san had fire in her eyes, as if saying I refuse to be made a fool of any longer.
「The adult wolves are bigger targets for my throwing knives, so I’ll hit them first.」
「Yeah, I’ll move in when they notice us.」
「I’ll join you once I’m done throwing.」
In terms of numbers, we were at a disadvantage. We couldn’t move carelessly and get in each others’ way, but we also couldn’t expect to be able to coordinate well from the start. It was important to make sure we didn’t back ourselves into a corner.
After Mear-san slowly took a deep breath, she gripped her sword. Recognizing she was ready, I started throwing knives wildly at the wolves. Two of them pierced the adult wolves and one hit a juvenile, the latter of which fell over immediately as the rest of them approached us. From that point, we’d be fighting up close.
Mear-san swung her Divine Treasure, but the Red Wolf dodged it. It was so fast! However, because a poison knife was stuck in its body, pain was clear in its body language. One adult Red Wolf collapsed from the poison, but the others could still move normally.
However, the juvenile froze when its parent collapsed. Mear-san took the opportunity to send a blazing arc sizzling through a nearby Red Wolf. Three down, three to go.
I stabbed one of the remaining ones with my sword and sent it flying with a kick before dodging a bite from another wolf and activating Automatic Return. The sword which had stuck in the previous Red Wolf came flying back to me at high speed, cutting through the one that had just attacked me along the way.
Automatic Return can do that too, huh?
I smashed the staggered Red Wolf with a pommel strike for the killing blow.
Only one was left. It was already moving to escape but I quickly hit it with a throwing knife. It was still in sight when it fell over.
The fight had ended with our victory. Mear-san quietly sighed and put her sword away.
I went ahead and dismantled the Red Wolf corpses with my hammer. Monster materials were required to verify extermination requests, and for wolves, that material was their fangs.
Mear-san was staring at me when I finished.
「Dismantling like that is just too easy… I’d like nothing more than to have that ability.」
「Well, this ability is all I have.」
I was actually kind of happy this ability was so rare. Everyone else had a strong Divine Treasure, and if everything about their abilities was better than mine, calling me envious would be an understatement.
「Let’s look around a while longer. If we don’t find anything else, we’ll head back.」
There may have still been more Red Wolves. If any remained alive, the problem could resurface.
「How long has Relius been active as an adventurer?」
「Hmm… honestly, I don’t think I could be called an adventurer before now. The only other thing I’ve done was subjugate a few goblins.」
「Oh… really? I thought for sure you must have been a highly active adventurer, because you move like an expert.」
「Not at all. I’m only a Blacksmith, after all.」
「Well… if you say so…」
However, I had learned something from the experience: My skills were at least E-rank. Working as an adventurer might not be a bad idea at all.
It could even be possible to handle D-rank requests, and that was already enough to make a living.
We couldn’t find any indication of more Red Wolves.
「Let’s go back, Relius.」
We’d done enough, there was no point looking for more. If Red Wolves were discovered again later, it wouldn’t be our responsibility, and someone else would have a request to fulfill.
We went straight back to the guild, where we were approached by Bunsue and the others who had insulted Mear-san before, grinning and leering. I wondered how long they’d been waiting.
「Yo, Mear, how was your request?」
「Oh, we finished it properly. Wanna see the proof?」
Having said that, she showed them the six red wolf fangs. Bunsue and his friend opened their eyes, and glared at us with frustration.
「Tch, cheeky little pipsqueak.」
「Because of that little shit, it’s all over. Bastard.」
They’re so easy to read. I’m glad I was able to protect Mear-san from them.
Mear-san stuck out her tongue at Bunsue as he left with his little gang.
「That went well, right Mear-san?」
When we lined up at the reception desk to report our results, Mear-san suddenly raised her voice.
「Uh, don’t get me wrong, Relius!」
She quieted down after realizing she’d caught everyone’s attention, and spoke to me timidly.
「Huh, what is it?」
「Even if they knew my rank was going to fall, that guy still had those impure intentions… You weren’t thinking of demanding the same thing from me, were you?」
「Oh, was that all you were worried about?」
「Wha-! What’s with that casual response? It’s natural for me to assume it’s something like that, isn’t it? Do I look like an easy woman to you?」
「No, not at all. However, it’s true that you’re beautiful, so please be careful of people like that from now on.」
「B-beautiful… uhh, Y… yeah, alright. I’ll be careful.」
She scratched her red cheek with her lovely thin index finger.
Finally it was our turn, and we submitted the materials. The receptionist watched as Mear-san took them out of the bag and gave them to her, full of confidence.
「Th-these are… Mear-san didn’t dismantle these, did she?」
「H-how did you know?」
「Cleaning it this well is impossible for Mear-san… by any chance, was it you?」
The receptionist looked at me.
「According to your guild card, this is your first request, isn’t it? Are you from a family of butchers?」
「No, no, nothing like that…」
「Then… that means it’s natural talent. Such beautiful dismantling, even a first-class adventurer would have a hard time doing it so well.」
I tried to suppress my laughter while marveling at how convenient the hammer was. From the corner of my eye, I could see Mear-san was kind of depressed.
Well, I was talking about dismantling, there’s nothing I can do about it.
We split the rewards between us, and we left the adventurer’s guild for the inn.
「… Are you sure it’s okay to split the reward evenly? To be honest, this equipment you made looks the same as before, but it’s helped me so much.」
「I experienced things today that I couldn’t have done on my own. I have you to thank for that, so consider it my gratitude.」
「Oh… that’s right. I’m grateful to you as well… you really helped me out. If you hadn’t noticed the problem with my equipment, I’m sure I would have failed this request too. Thank you so much.」
I couldn’t help but admire Mear-san’s smile in the light of the sunset. She really was gorgeous ― Oji-san was definitely admiring her face when he hired her.
「Alright then, let’s get back to the inn. Do your best!」
「Oh yeah, you’re right.」
Unlike me, who was on a full holiday, Mear-san still had work to do during the busy evening hours.