The wanderer Shadow chaser and the fleeing beasts
When I returned to my bar and things started to quieten down, the night shift had already started and Cody made her way in, dressed in her usual male attire.
Even though the General of the Albein’s army was a girl, she didn’t drink like one, and although I knew her secret, her behavior didn’t change.
“What happened? Today you look in high spirits.”
Cody was probably more relaxed now that the King prevented dukes from bothering the army and weakened their power. Even Vinceburg, the noble family that most troubled knights, wasn’t much of a nuisance anymore.
Still, that probably wasn’t the only reason, given how she looked at me with a radiant smile blooming on her lips.
“Recently knights barely moved for nobles’ business, so this Sunday I was allowed to take half the day off!”
“Oh, that’s great. You should rest and take it easy when you can.”
“If I do not train my body every day, it will affect my performance. I should always take some time to train, regardless of holidays.”
Cody was too serious about that, but it wasn’t a bad thing.
My shop was opened every single day, but those who could use Healing Magic hardly felt wary due to everyday fatigue, and sleeping from four and a half to six hours never made me feel tired or worn out.
Even elves, who brimmed with magic, had a very high tolerance to fatigue. They could be fine by sleeping only once every seventy-two hours, but their perception of time was different from human’s. Still, Verlaine, who was sticking to a human’s sleeping schedule, said she felt like being in Heaven.
“By the way, the Magic Academy’s training will be nearby, so I told them we are going.”
“Training with you will make my muscles sore…”
“Yes, but it will probably be the same for me. Still, you can use Healing Magic, so there is no problem, right?”
“What? Shouldn’t I say that…?”
I knew that she wanted to train with me because there weren’t many people who could face her, but my score in swordsmanship was… Let’s say that I remember vividly how the score-measuring instruments exploded.
If it couldn’t be measured, I had to ask someone to create an instrument capable to do so, but then I realized that it was a hassle and that probably none of my former party members ever measured their score again in those years.
“…You seem distracted. Is something wrong?”
“Nah, nothing serious. But don’t worry, I’ll come with you. Just… let’s be careful not to destroy anything.”
Any common weapon was junk in front of the Light Blade’s power, which always allowed its owner to attack their foe, be it from close, middle or long-range.
Let’s not even talk about the extra-long-ranged attacks, which were simply terrifying. They weren’t good for large areas like Mylarka’s Annihilation Magic, but when it came to a simple, linear attack, there was probably nothing better in the whole world.
They easily exceeded all of my spells’ scope and I could never match the speed of one of those ‘bullets’. No matter how hard I tried to reproduce them, I was always slower and almost felt envious.
“Thank you for coming along, then, and sorry for bothering.”
“Don’t mention it, but are you really sure you want to spend your day-off like that?”
“I do not know how to better spend my time. As the head of the knights, training my subordinates alone is boring.”
“Hahaha… You always looked dead tired before. I’m glad your workplace has become livable now.”
“Still, having more time brings a lot of uncalled things to my mind. A middle ground would be a lot better.”
I felt the same way as her. As I chugged down my ale and was about to order the third glass…
…the doorbell rang, and a young man clad in a hard leather armor walked into the bar, his dark overcoat fluttering about.
I remembered him. He was the strongest SS rank adventurer among the five who were currently in the capital.
He approached Verlaine with a deadpan expression and a visible scar on his face while I was thinking how impressive his steel-hard, sculpted muscles were. I mean, I could see them clearly from a distance.
Still, the difference between a SS rank and a SSS rank was abysmal. A normal person would have felt a daunting aura coming from him, but neither I or Cody felt any of that, and once he was in front of the counter, he spoke.
“…Is your Guild Master here?”
“I am really sorry, Mister, but we only run this bar during our night shift…”
Even Verlaine was unaffected by his aura and replied calmly. Then the man, without showing any displeasure on his face, closed his eyes.
Both his deadpan expression, perfect like one of the many actors that played in the capital, and his scar were elements that strengthened his powerful aura.
“…Please, deliver this message to him. Don’t come to the Water Cave, as I cannot assure your members to live.”
We usually fetched the Eternal ice in there, which we used to dilute our alcohol when it was too strong. Also, Rigel was going to enter it, as it was the hideout of the fleeing beasts of the quest he had accepted.
“Mister, it is hard for me to grasp what you meant, so might I ask you to take a seat at the counter?”
“…I don’t plan to stay long. But as fellow workers, I understand that this place has rules, so I should follow them. Still, my message should be clear.”
Yes, it actually was: abandon this mission. Now, what could I’ve done as the drunkard I was?
After I and Verlaine exchanged glances, she brought me and the man an ale, and when he looked at the glass in front of him, his expression didn’t move an inch.
“…You won’t buy me with this.”
“Try to take a sip. Your talk can wait for later, don’t you think?”
He looked at me briefly. Strangely enough, his gaze wasn’t inquisitive—he merely looked at me.
“What is your business there?”
Cody asked in a low voice, but the man didn’t turn to face her as he drank his ale. Instead, he stared at Verlaine—the most valuable person of our guild—while probably thinking that I was a mere nobody.
“I’m a member of the guild Blue sagittarius. The quest giver said that no matter how many guilds would compete for this mission, he wanted those fleeing beasts at all costs, but… it’s all a waste of time. I’m more than enough for that.”
“I beg your pardon, Mister, but might I see something that proves your words?”
“…Is this good enough?”
The man showed Verlaine the guild tag dangling from his neck—it was made of steel and carved on its surface were his information.
Zect Crucifer, SS rank adventurer belonging to the Blue sagittarius guild, joined half a year before. Age 22, job Shadow chaser.
So he worked in the kingdom but came to the capital around half a year before, huh? I shouldn’t be one to talk, but why did he join such an unpopular guild like the 11th Street’s?
But more importantly, why was he so obsessed with that hunting request? Not even the reward was noteworthy, since it was just right for the quest difficulty.
“Yes, it is. Thank you for understanding. I cannot grasp the full picture yet, but should I assume that you want to monopolize this request for your guild?”
“…This isn’t related to Blue sagittarius. It’s a matter concerning me alone.”
“That is not good. You are an adventurer, so as a member of your guild, you also act as its representative.”
“…Mind your own business. Also, I only asked to see this guild’s Guild Master.”
Cody shrugged her shoulders at his retort. Since the conversation seemed over, I urged Verlaine to ask something more precise.
“Is that beast special for you?”
Her whisper melted in the bar’s noise, but Zect heard her clearly.
He slurped his ale, and once the glass was empty, he stood up and left without saying a word.
“…Silence means consent, I guess.”
I could think about several possibilities. Maybe Zect was friends with the merchants, something happened and he wanted to seize the fleeing beasts by himself.
But he could also be acting due to hatred for one of those beasts.
I couldn’t grasp what was driving him to behave like that, but I knew something for sure: if Rigel’s party was to cross his road, it would face deadly danger. Although ‘Shadow chaser’ was a name that gave off a precise image, it was actually an auxiliary job, but it was still impossible for a party of average B rank adventurers to win against an SS rank one.
“The beasts fled from the merchants… huh?”
“What are you going to do? Should I help you?”
“Nah, don’t worry. Keep drinking and make yourself at home.”
This was a matter concerning my guild, and Cody, probably understanding it, didn’t insist any further.
If I really needed her power, I would’ve asked without beating around the bush, but the situation didn’t look that bad.
Why did Zect come to warn us, a rival guild, like this? And as much as I wanted to see what he was capable of, there was something that bothered me.
“…It hurts, seeing you enjoying this so much. You did not make this face when I invited you to train together.”
“Really? I’m looking forward to it, though.”
“This means that… we cannot satisfy and win him over with some ale, am I right?”
Yes, Verlaine hit the spot. But if I could make him join my guild and convince him that I was the Guild Master, Zect would bring a huge impact and influence to Silver mug.
I didn’t know why he was part of Blue sagittarius yet, but that was exactly the key information to solve this matter.
The solution I wanted would’ve made us win the quest’s reward without clashing swords with Zect while respecting his goal.
If I could’ve made him join my guild, I could’ve enjoyed a peaceful life even more… also, my guild wasn’t any worse than Blue sagittarius, so even Zect would’ve agreed to join.
“We shall prepare to tame the beasts.”
No matter what Zect was thinking, there was only one thing that would push us the right way: knowing what beasts we were talking about.
And well, thanks to my information network, it wasn’t hard for me to find out what we were going to face.