NBAA Vol. 2 Chapter 5 Part 2
Reito went to the adventurers’ guild, reported the completed request, then headed to the training grounds.
Most of the guilds’ adventurers were busy with requests of transporting supplies to the various villages: the training grounds thus were often empty, and that day was no exception.
“Hmm…I feel I’m getting used to it.”
『You are more familiar with that Combination Battle Art, I see.』
“H-hey, don’t talk suddenly when I’m training…anyway, it sure has a long name…”
『I see, let us call it Stark Blade then.』
“Don’t decide that on your own…I guess that works, though.”
Reito had tried combining Strike Blade with various other Battle Arts, thus acquiring many Combination Battle Arts.
The sword skills based on Strike Blade had a heavy burden on the body, but their offensive power was equally high. Reito couldn’t use them without activating Muscle Boost first, but his enhanced physique was strong enough to deal with the additional stress.
According to Airis, with enough training he would one day be able to use these techniques without boosting his physical abilities.
Reito activated the physical boost skill and swung his sword.
He had defeated powerful opponents such as Basil and Gain and acquired considerable experience in fighting humans: thanks to that, he had become more confident in his sword skills.
Reito continued swinging his broadsword, putting all of his strength into each swing.
“Phew…it’s getting tough.”
『You’re really working hard, aren’t you. But honestly, aren’t you forgetting that you’re a Magician? I’ve never heard of magic users fighting with swords.』
“Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I could swear you just told me to train my body more, though. Anyway, you’re right…magic…”
Reito could use basic grade magic spells to attack, but he wanted to use magic only when fighting against monsters: it could easily become lethal against humans, and Reito did not want to kill people, even if he was against criminals such as bandits.
Reito could go all out with magic against monsters, but he wanted to use it only as support.
Because of that, he had been focusing on training with the broadsword recently..
He did not use Iceclad Sword much anymore, despite relying on it often in the Abyssal Forest. Instead, he used Heavy Strike and its gravity manipulation.
『Gravity manipulation magic consumes a lot of magic power, so please be careful. Also, please keep in mind that while Magic Power Boost increases the effects of magic, it also increased magic power consumption tremendously.』
“Okay, got it. Oh, it’s time to feed Ullr…”
“Oh, here you are. Sir Reito!”
Before Reito could go to feed his partner, the guild receptionist ran up to him.
To Reito’s surprise, she grabbed his arm, agitated.
“W-we’re in trouble!! People from another guild suddenly came in, demanding to meet the guildmaster and you!!”
“Eh? Who exactly are those people?”
“The guildmaster of Hailstorm, the largest guild in Lunot!! Please come quickly!!”
Reito was thus dragged to the front of the guild by the unexpectedly vigorous receptionist and told to go to the guest room, where the guildmaster was already waiting.
The receptionist was about to open the door for Reito, when Bal’s shouting voice leaked out of the room.
“You sure know how to get on people’s nerves, you vixen!!”
“As testy as always…sit down and be quiet, please.”
The receptionist timidly knocked on the door and Bal barked back an irritated, “Come in!!”.
“E-excuse me!! I have brought Sir Reito…”
“Tch…there was no need to…”
“Oh my, so this is the rumored disciple you have recently taken under your wings?”
Reito was shown inside, and found Bal, sitting with her feet on the desk, visibly irritated, and a beautiful blonde woman sitting across from her.
The moment Reito laid eyes on the woman, he froze. She was the spitting image of his mother, Aira.
The words escaped Reito’s lips and were met by a frown.
The woman seemed not to comprehend: Reito then realized she was not really his mother.
In the first place, she was an Elf, while Reito’s mother was human. They looked so similar, however, that Reito couldn’t hide his confusion.
Bal interjected sharply.
“What are you saying? This woman doesn’t have any kids…at least, not that I know of?”
“Don’t you start with me, Bal…hmm, what a curious boy. Do your mother and I look so much alike…?”
“Hah!! If you’re upset about it, you’re welcome to go home already!”
“Don’t change the topic, please. This is important for you too.”
“Have a seat, please.”
Reito promptly obeyed, as if he was being scolded by his mother. Bal clearly found the woman utterly troublesome to deal with, but the latter simply sipped her tea, unperturbed.
“Hmm…a rather cheap brand. Is this what you serve to your guests?”
“Hmph, you should be grateful you got served at all…”
“Excuse me, why have I been called here?”
Reito interjected in the conversation and the two women turned towards him. Bal scratched her head and introduced the woman.
“She’s Maria…the master of one of our rival guilds.”
“Rival? Oh, please. After all the requests we let your little guild take from us?”
“Don’t you start with me now!! You only give us the requests you don’t want to take…and you just snatched another B rank adventurer from our guild, didn’t you!? How many times does this make!?”
“Oh my. First class adventurers seek first class environments, I believe that is how the world works. Haven’t you traveled from guild to guild yourself when you were young?”
“Moreover, I have simply made an offer. I have not “snatched” anyone against their will.”
The woman named Maria put Bal’s protests to rest. Bal wasn’t satisfied yet, but could not find fault in her arguments.
After a brief pause, she spoke up again.
“Bah…you’re always chasing after our adventurers, anyway. Dozens of them, too.”
“Indeed, I believe the most recent one was the 30th…and now your guild does not have a single A or B rank adventurer. I wonder if you can still call it an adventurers’ guild, to be frank.”
“Hah, you’ll see…even if the ranks are lower, we have plenty of talent here. Like him, for example.”
Bal lightly slapped Reito’s back and Maria observed him silently, then her eyes opened wide.
“…how surprising. I’ve heard the rumors, but…he really is a hopeless job holder.”
“Watch out, kid…she’s got an Unique Skill called Appraisal Eye. The difference with Appraisal is that she can see people’s status in the blink of an eye.”
According to Bal, Maria possessed a special ability.
With a single look, she could see a person’s status, name, age, jobs etcetera.
“Number of acquired skills…impressive, I’ve never seen a human with so many. And you’re still fourteen…how nice. I’ll take this boy too.”
“Don’t you dare!! I’m not giving you anything, get lost already!”
“I suppose it can’t be helped…I’ll give up for now. Just in case, have one of these.”
Maria stood up from her seat, then gave Reito a crystal ball engraved with snowflake-like patterns. Reito took it, curious, and she smiled and whispered next to his ear.
“If you wish to see me, come to the guild with this…you will always be welcome.”
“I shall excuse myself, then.”
“Yeah, excuse yourself, and fast.”
Maria thus left the guest room. Reito looked at the crystal ball she gave him. He didn’t know if it was a Magic Stone, but could not feel any special power from it. It glowed with a beautiful light, though.
“Hand that over.”
Bal grabbed the crystal ball from Reito’s hands, then started squeezing it.
Her muscles swelled, veins popping out on the surface, to the point they resembled an Ogre’s more than a human’s: the crystal ball quickly shattered.
Bal took out a marble-sized colorless crystal from the pieces.
“Tch…another one of her dirty pranks.”
“This is a Mana Absorber, a type of Magic Stone. Like the name says, it sucks in the holder’s magic power…that woman always pulls cheap pranks like this on people that won’t join her side. Don’t just accept what people give you without thinking, boy.”
“Well, I’m going to take this, if you don’t mind. It’s also a Magic Stone, which should be enough to cover today’s bar tab.”
Bal, with Magic Stone in hand, left while humming.
Reito, left alone, sighed, then remembered he had to go feed Ullr and quickly went back to his partner.
Maria climbed aboard the horse carriage she had waiting near the guild and thought about the boy she just met.
The fact that he called her “Mother” intrigued her. She also had the feeling she had seen him somewhere before.
“Could we have met before? I don’t think so, but…I wonder why…”
“Milady, is anything the matter?”
“…Shinobi, you were here?”
Maria was supposed to be alone in the carriage cabin, but out of the blue a man’s voice called her.
Gradually, the silhouette of a man became visible: the man called “Shinobi” had blended in the background. He was dressed exactly like a typical Japanese ninja.
His face was mostly covered by a mask, but the visible features suggested he was quite handsome, though on the neutral side. He was one of the Hailstorm adventurers Maria trusted the most, and was allowed to guard her in this manner.
“How did the meeting go, Milady?”
“The usual. She has no intention of coming back, apparently.”
“What shall we do, then?”
“…keep giving her work, as usual. But don’t let her find out.”
Maria acted confidently with Bal, but now her expression was rather weary. She ordered Shinobi to pass requests received by her guild to Bal.
Bal had not fully realized yet that more than half of the requests delivered to the Black Tigers guild were initially brought to Hailstorm. Maria consistently harvested able adventurers from the Black Tigers, but gave them jobs in return.
“…will Lady Bal truly never return?”
“I will make her. No matter what methods I have to use.”
Maria was extremely attached to Bal, who had “dared” leave her side. At the same time, however, she also felt very lonely.
“Hmph, I sound like a mother who can’t bear separating from her children…hm…mother…?”
“Is something wrong?”
“No…Shinobi, there is someone I wish to know more about. Can I leave it to you?”
“An adventurer, Milady?”
“Yes, the Black Tigers adventurer in the rumors lately…”
Maria glanced at the horse carriage’s window. The entrance to the Black Tigers guild was quickly growing smaller and more distant, but she could see a boy feeding dried meat to a large wolf in front of it.
Maria found herself thinking about her sister.
Maria then took out her locket and opened it. The photo inside portrayed Maria as a child, together with her older sister and their now deceased father.
“…I will find you, no matter what…”
Maria pressed her fingers against her temples, then realized something.
The boy she had just met had features reminiscent of her older sister’s childhood appearance—