TNG Vol. 1 Chapter 2 – Part 6

In the guild’s break room, after Shin departed…

Els and Celica, their paperwork complete, were talking about Shin while sipping on tea.

“Celica. It’s too late to ask I suppose, but do you know what kind of person he is?”

“Oh yeah, I haven’t told you yet, right. I don’t really know much, but….”

What had happened the day before, when Shin first visited the guild.

It was already known that he had a letter of introduction, so there was only one thing Celica could tell Els: the fight against Barlux.

“The Blue Wolf fought him and was made short work of, that’s about all I can say. Even I could tell that he’s a very skilled fighter.”

As Celica and Els lived under the same roof, they both spoke frankly to each other.

Barlux had told Celica to talk about that to Els, so there was no problem in letting her know. Just in case, they avoided using personal names.

“Blue Wolf” referred to Barlux, by the way.

The reason why Celica was instructed to tell Els about Barlux’ bout against Shin was because of the elf’s “occupation”.

“I see, no wonder I couldn’t see anything.”

“You couldn’t? Really?”

Celica looked completely surprised.

Els was one of the highest-ranked members of the guild, second in skill only to the vice master. This was tied to her possession of the 【Analyze VII】 skill and the title of 『Observer』. Thanks to it, she could see the name and level of people stronger than her and see through false names easily. She had found out Barlux’ level right away too.

Yet Shin had caused her to say “I can’t see anything”. Just who was he really? They didn’t even know if Shin was his real name, after all.

“Well, I don’t think we need to really worry. I don’t think that Tiera would give an introduction letter to an evil person…besides, talking to him I didn’t notice anything too strange.”

“The ‘Blue Wolf’ said the same thing. I think he’s kind of weird though.”

Celica talked while remembering the peculiar sense of comfort she felt with Shin.

“Weird…yeah, that I agree with. Like his skill and the atmosphere around him don’t match..there’s something jarring.”

Both women whispered at the same time, in the quiet atmosphere of the room.

“I don’t get it…”

“Me neither…”

The more they thought about Shin, the less they could understand him. It wouldn’t have been strange for them to be concerned about the situation, but for some reason they both felt at peace.

 

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After leaving the guild, Shin left the town from the east gate, without taking any detours.

After walking on the road for a while, he left it and entered the woods. 

The eastern forest was one of the staple locations for beginner adventurers, where you would rarely encounter dangerous monsters, apparently.

“Apparently” because Shin had heard this from Beid as he passed through the gate. He had said that just today several beginners had gone to the eastern forest.

Beid had been guarding the south gate the day before, but there had been a change of guards and he would stand at the east gate for a while now.

The quest was a very simple one, which would have taken less than 30 minutes in the game era. Shin planned to try a guild request once, then focus on learning more about the world.

He was thus thinking of finishing it as soon as possible and find a library to consult, as he walked in the woods.

Despite being a beginner-friendly location, the woods’ vegetation was very thick and the environment dimly lit. Shin had heard that only low-level monsters or wild beasts would appear. Shin felt, however, that if one wasn’t used to it the woods might look rather scary.

He chose not to fully trust what he heard and kept his guard up.

If Shin’s memory was correct, Hillk grass would grow in clearings where sunlight could reach, so he looked for such a place first.

He had heard that Hillk grass was easy to find, so he thought that he would have been able to go back soon.

 

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“…nothing”.

3 hours passed since Shin entered the woods.

Items gathered…zero.

“….not a single thing!!”

Hillk grass was nowhere to be found.

A long time had passed since Shin had entered the woods, full of pep and enthusiasm. He had walked around, relying on his memories of the game era, but couldn’t find even one blade of grass.

“This is too weird…how come I couldn’t find even one…”

He was now pretty deep in the woods and there were no presences of other adventurers around him, so it shouldn’t be possible that someone anticipated him.

“Guess I’ll try to go further.”

Trusting the encyclopedia information of the grass growing more deeper in the forest, Shin advanced briskly. Naturally, the surroundings grew darker and he started feeling wild animal-like presences here and there.

He arrived to a point where monsters would soon start appearing and started scanning his surroundings.

There were no clearings where sunlight shone, so Shin decided to look everywhere he could.

He looked in the bushes, near the roots, in every nook and cranny, but couldn’t find Hillk grass anywhere.

“I’m getting hungry…”

It was now past noon: the sun was shining high in the sky. Shin had walked all morning, so his stomach started rumbling.

“Time for lunch.”

Continuing to look on an empty stomach would have lowered his effectiveness, probably. Also hoping for a change of pace, Shin decided to eat his lunch.

He found a tree stump just the right size, so he took out his food from the item box and started eating. The menu was hot dogs and cola.

The food items stored in the item box would never spoil, even if past expiration date. Shin had confirmed that food items could still be eaten without problems when he looked through his items, so he had thought of eating them for lunch.

In the game era, food items would recover HP or increase stats, but it looked like such effects were gone: he did not notice any change in his status.

He also had many others more valuable food items, they would just become high class food. Even if they retained their effects, though, there was little chance of having time to eat while fighting monsters.

Shin wrapped up his lunchtime quickly: he was a fast eater when the menu was junk food.

It would be troublesome if the smell attracted wild animals or monsters, so he made sure to finish his meal quickly.

He resumed the Hillk grass search right away, but even after 3 more hours he could not find anything.

He felt relieved, though. The Hillk grass in the eastern forest must have had completely gathered already, or so Shin began to think.

One hour later, Shin started to grow tired, so he decided to go back to the inn.

Physically speaking, he could still go on, but not finding anything after searching so much was taxing him emotionally.

When he arrived at the gate, it was time for the change of guards again. Patrol and guarding duties were rotated periodically, it seemed.

Shin found Beid among the soldiers back from the patrol: while having his guild card checked to enter the town, he talked with him for a bit.

“Hey there. You look tired, did something happen?”

“Yeah…I went to the forest to look for Hillk grass, but couldn’t find anything all day…”

“Are you serious? You can find that just about everywhere! I’ve seen a lot of beginners coming back today, they all found it too.”

“What….the…?”

The other beginners had completed the request: a truth that shocked Shin. Beid then struck again.

“I think they all came back before noon…wait, don’t tell me you’ve been searching for it all day…”

“………yeah.”

Covering his face with his left hand, Shin’s shoulders dropped. In the game, he was a SS rank adventurer. Even if he knew that he was in a different world now, his pride was shattered.

“Well, hey, come on. Cheer up.”

“Kh, your words of encouragement hit deep…”

It was a well known fact that gathering Hillk grass was an easy quest: that made it harder for Beid to find something to say, so he could only offer generic encouragement.

“Well, I guess it depends on luck too. Today was a bad one, just do your best tomorrow.”

“Yeah…tomorrow I’ll try going deeper in the forest.”

“Don’t go too far, though. I don’t think you’re the type to mess up like that, but there’s plenty of people that go too far and end up kicking the bucket.”

“I know, I know. See you.”

There was no time limit for the request, so there was no need to hurry. The grass being so hard to find, however, further fueled Shin’s motivation to find it at all costs: such was human psychology.

Shin started preparing the plan for the next day, thinking of going to the north forest too.

 

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