Vol. 5 Chapter 1 – Part 2

Shin asked Hibineko the location of the Golden Company, and he went there without getting sidetracked.

When he went along the road as instructed, a really shiny signboard caught his attention.

“What a conspicuous sign.”

On the signboard, which was painted entirely black and had a golden border, the words ‘Golden Company’ were also written in gold.

Because the letters were shining excessively, it stood out the most; it was rather dazzling.

Yuzuha, who was on top of Shin’s head, was also overwhelmed by this, closing its eyes trying not to look at the signboard.

“(My eyes are starting to sting~)”

“(When I stare at it for a while, my eyes also start to itch――hm?)”

Next to the shop, he saw that a box with goods was loaded onto a wagon in a hurry.

They were probably informed by the Adventurer’s Guild, and they were getting ready to transport the supplies.

What interested Shin was the person who was issuing the instructions next to the wagon.

The merchant, who had put on a robe with golden embroidery attached, looked familiar to Shin.

“――these to the port; after it arrives at the other side, do as you were instructed. I’m counting on you.”

When Shin approached him, he seemed to just finish issuing instructions and turning toward Shin conveniently.

The information that was shown by 【Analyze】 was already displayed in Shin’s view.

Name: Berett Kilmar  Level: 255

With a chubby look and a charming smile, if he were not a merchant, he would have had the impression that he was a gourmet reporter. It was impossible to tell by his appearance, but Shin knew his race was High Elf.

Though his main job was merchant, he was actually a character a little off from the usual practice, as his sub job was dark knight.

“Excuse me, I’d like to ask a little but..”

“Yes, what!!? … Well well, long time no see.”

When he tried to answer Shin’s greeting, Berett paused for a moment. However, he was the Golden Company’s assistant manager. His expression immediately changed into a smile and bowed to Shin.

“The day when we are able to meet again, I was looking forward to it. Now now, we can’t talk at ease in this place. This way, please, and take your companion with you too.”

“Ah, yes, understood.”

“Kuu!”

Shin avoided using overly familiar words partly because it was their first meeting in this world, but Berett guided Shin to the reception room personally without breaking his humble attitude.

There were no flashy things like the signboard appearance inside the room; the layout was harmonious.

When the two people entered the room, the door was knocked on almost immediately.

“Excuse me. I have brought a drink.”

“Enter.”

Hearing Berett’s voice, a lady wearing employee’s clothes entered the room.

According to 【Analyze】, her name was Pyuri. Judging from her pointy ears, she was probably an elf or a High Elf.

After Pyuri put out tea and cake, which were loaded into the wagon, she left the room quietly.

“From the viewpoint of everyone in Rokuten, this would be cheap tea.”

“No, there’s no need for such a thing.”

Saying so, Shin tilted the cup. When he took a sip of that reddish liquid, faint sweetness and bitterness spread inside his mouth.

“This is spectacular.”

“I use the best tea leaves in the area. Above all, I’m glad that you like it. Leaving that aside, Shin-sama, it’s unnecessary to be so formal. Honorifics don’t apply to other people.”

“…Well, that’s more comfortable, but..”

“Then, I ask you to be like that. If honorifics are spoken by the people of Rokuten, myself included, everyone would be ashamed.

Berett seemed to be thorough on the position where one stands, such as master and servant. Would it be different between Shin and Reed?

“So, how may I help you today?”

“Ah, I wanted you to tell me the current state of Rokuten’s support characters besides mine. I have heard the things about the ‘Shigure Shop’, Vizzy, and Raster from Schnee.”

“All right, but we don’t know anything except the one just came in. Oxygen and Hydro should be in ‘Garden’, but it’s currently being treated as a danger zone. We couldn’t come close to the ‘Garden’ to confirm it, so we don’t have enough evidence to verify the information. ‘Studio’, ‘Ship’, and ‘Base’s’ whereabouts are unknown. Though I can confirm the existence of ‘Shrine and ‘Castle’ under the current state, only ‘Castle’ can be secured.”

The guild houses were as big as there was. If it wasn’t found, it was probably buried underground or had sunk to the bottom of the sea.

“I see. I will keep searching for the ‘Studio’. As for the ‘Garden’, what makes it dangerous?”

“It’s because a harmful gas is generated around the ‘Garden’. All are above VII abnormal state. The center is expected to become the maximum X. If I considered the fighting power and the resistance force, Schnee may be able to break through, but she still cannot stay long. For sure, if it’s the resistance force of High Human class like Shin-sama, it would be different…”

The gases were generated by the surroundings, and seemed to have a quite powerful effect.

If Berett’s story was true, it was indeed not possible to break through unless it was Shin.

“Since there are also food production facilities inside, they, at the very least, won’t starve to death…I’m sorry for not being able to help much.”

“Well, I’m satisfied, it’s enough just to have heard about ‘Garden’.”

‘Garden’ was originally for the guild war use, traps were prepared around it.

Perhaps, it had malfunctioned. Because the inside is air-tight, they wouldn’t be hurt by the gas.

The detailed location of ‘Garden’ was given and he kept note.

“Being able to listen to a lot of stuff saved us a lot of trouble. If something happens, please send me a message card.”

“Understood. I will prepare it for you.”

“I’ll rely on you. That reminds me, do you come here often? I didn’t expect to encounter you so abruptly.”

“I just had to come here for some business. At that time, I was informed by the merchant guild that the ‘Flood’ happened, so I was issuing instructions in order to cope.”

Because precious fish could be caught at this time, he always came over personally. If he kept scuffling through the documents in the head office, his intuition as a merchant would dull or something like that.

“It is an opportunity, but it is also because it’s something I was asked to do by Schnee.”

“Something she asked?”

“Yes, this should be reported to Shin-sama, too.”

When he said so, Berett rung the bell which was place on the edge of the table. Then, the door was knocked on in less than one minute.

“Excuse me for being rude. What can I do for you?”

The one entered was Pyuri who brought the tea.

“Bring me ‘that’.”

“Right away.”

Replying promptly to Berett’s words, Pyuri left the room.

He didn’t say anything about what he wanted her to bring specifically, but as long as there was no miscommunication between the two, there was no need to be worried.

A few minutes later, the door was knocked on again and Pyuri enter the room. She held a small envelope in her hand.

“Thank you. You may leave.”

When he made Pyuri leave, Berett opened the envelope and took out the contents inside, and he presented it to Shin.

“This is a list of players who came to this world.”

“What?”

Shin’s expression changed when he heard “players”.

He read the list he received from Berett slowly from top to the bottom.

“…Is that all?”

Shin finished reading the list, but asked Berett with a face that was perplexed.

“That’s a reasonable question. If I have to say honestly, we’re at a loss, too. The deceased in the event which players called the death game ended with 100 or 200 people. If that’s the case, the players that have come here are just a really small fraction of it. Of course, not everyone was mentioned in the list.”

Shin recognized every player on the list that he held. Though he was surprised that only former players were there, what was the list aiming for?

(Have those guys, who were involved with me in the game era, come here?)

Though Berett said it wasn’t everything, as expected, Shin, too, couldn’t hide his agitation.

“Also, please check this.”

To Shin, who had a serious look on his face, Berett held out another paper. Though there were fewer names written down than that of the first list, a horizontal line was drawn for several names.

“This is?”

“It should be clear by now; this list is for what Shin-sama and players call PK.”

“PK you say!?”

Shin looked through the list while being surprised. There was Hameln at the top of the list, and several names Shin knew were on the list.

“(Shin, what is a Pi Kay?)”

“(…Guys who murdered others and enjoyed it.)”

Shin replied to Yuzuha’s question briefly. The words were a little hard for Yuzuha to say, and its vocal tone seemed to change even in the Mind Chat.

Did it understand the atmosphere? Yuzuha barked a small “Kuu…” and become quiet.

“Have you checked this individually?”

“Yes. In fact, when the first player was found, it was Schnee who insisted that I should look for PKs first.”

“Schnee did?”

Though Schnee said that there were no opportunities, no matter how much Shin looked at it, she was not incompetent enough to not convey such an important story as players or PKs forever. If she said that she didn’t have an opportunity or something, she should have had plenty of them.

As expected, there may have been something.

“From your appearance, I guess Schnee hasn’t told Shin-sama about this, right?”

“Yes, I only knew about the dead players living by chance.”

Then, Berett erased his smile.

“…If I say as a fellow follower of Rokuten, not conveying such important information intentionally is clear evidence of disloyalty to her own master, as such a thing shouldn’t happen. Even though she is Shin-sama’s follower, it doesn’t mean she is clear from being punished.”

Berett said in a solemn tone.

Shin was troubled. He had a conjecture that Schnee was hiding something, but he didn’t know how other followers of Rokuten felt.

“What is Shin-sama thinking?”

“…Schnee wouldn’t do such a thing without any reason is what I’m thinking.”

Anyway, it would not be strange when that information came to light.

The guild usually included portraits of wanted criminals such as Hameln. Even without Schnee telling him, Shin before long would find out.

When Shin spoke about what he thought, Berett‘s expression changed completely from the moments ago when he said Schnee should be punished, and it became more gentle.

“Certainly, judging from Schnee’s nature, I also think she would not conceal information to harm Shin-sama.”

It seemed that there was no objection.

“…Hey Berett, do you know anything?”

Shin, who felt something was wrong in Berett’s manner, asked directly. Berett, who was questioned, nodded without change in his expression.

“Yes, I think I know.”

“Do I punish her after knowing the circumstances?”

“As a Rokuten’s follower, I think that’s proper.”

“Then, how about you as an individual?”

“I also understand her.”

It seemed it depended on the place where Berett stood. At least, it didn’t seem to be the reason why he couldn’t sympathize at all.

“If I was in the same situation as Schnee, I cannot assert that I would not do the same thing.”

“She is unqualified as a follower, is what you’re saying as a friend, huh?”

“Rather than being unqualified, I think it’s because she is a follower under your direct control. Shin-sama, the list in your hand, don’t you remember those people, especially the ones with names crossed?”

Shin, again, looked at the names which were crossed.

Kagemaru.

Jay Son

Telfon.

Even compared to the other names, Shin remembered them.

“Shin-sama, do you remember once being called ‘The God of Death’?”

“It was way back when I was last called like that…Yes, I see. These guys are…”

Shin recalled those days, and noticed.

“The people whom I killed?”

Though it was a vague memory, they were all PKs or otherwise members of PK guilds who fought again Shin.

“Forgive me if I say something rude, but Shin-sama’s appearance at that time was completely different from your usual self.

If Berett had an ego like he did currently, he would have wanted to run away quickly even as a support character, Shin at that time seemed to be enveloped in a dangerous atmosphere.

“Schnee knows what causes Shin-sama’s appearance to become so. Besides, even now she still regrets it that she was not able to do anything, despite being the closest to you.”

“That…”

It couldn’t be helped.

No one would argue against that, but it’s probably not at all acceptable from her point of view.

“To Schnee, the days when Shin-sama met with these people, she was afraid that you’d return to be like another person. Thus, she was likely trying to handle it herself without telling Shin-sama.”

Berett said, tasting the drink and putting it down in one beat.

“…Seeing for myself, Schnee’s feelings to Shin-sama were something that couldn’t be concluded with the single word of loyalty. As she knows of the state you had changed into, she couldn’t ignore the people who had caused such changes and tell it to Shin-sama.”

“That’s me at that time, huh? …Well, looking at it objectively, isn’t it a dangerous story?”

As for Schnee trying not to get Shin involved, it was understandable when hearing the reason.

Shin, at that time, believed that defeating PKs was more important than clearing the game ―― No, he moved for the purpose of killing.

He had not a fragment of morals, taboo, or such ideas; he had no hesitation, killing without pardon.

“There were players with Shin-sama who acted together at that time too.”

Yes, PKK(Player Killer Killer) ―― Shin alone was the player who killed PKs, but he didn’t do everything alone. Shadow, whom he met again at Balmel, was also one of the players who cooperated with Shin.

There was always a person who sought revenge but lacked the power, or a person who lacked information, even with sufficient power. The person who held grudges against PKs became frantic and cooperated in PK killings.

There was no system for the law to judge, or the police to catch the criminals in the game. Therefore, some victims went for severe retaliatory actions.

“I see.”

When there was such a reason, one wouldn’t think speaking about players and PKs proactively.

Shin wasn’t able to bring himself to punish Schnee at least.

“Even if Schnee normally should have disclosed it to you directly, I told you because a fact is a fact.”

“You, taking this opportunity or something, actually intended to say this from the beginning, weren’t you?”

“Oh?! What do you mean?”

Berett feigned ignorance with a friendly grin on his face. However, the smile that Shin should have recognized was slightly suspicious now.

“What if I listened to that sort of crazy talk? I understand that Schnee didn’t think this through.”

“Shin-sama was well-known for taking good care of your followers. Above all, Schnee is the longest-serving member.”

“Ku, that smile on your face irritates me.”

It was a smile that should have formed a sense of closeness, as it was expressed on Berett as always, but it made Shin somewhat irritated to the appearance that seemed to want to say “I understand”.

“To that extent, it’ll be the evidence that Shin-sama is loved.”

“Keep saying that!”

Shin replied Berett’s words curtly.

“By the way, is Shin-sama participating in this ‘Flood’?”

“Hm? Yes, I intend to intervene but..”

Berett, who was able to change the topic abruptly, had a contemplative look.

“Then, could you leave a part to the army without hunting everything?”

Berett kept silent for a while, and mentioned that kind of thing.

Because he knew Shin’s true nature, he understood that Shin’s remark of intervening meant annihilation.

“What is your reason?”

“It’ll become military training because only few ‘Floods’ were used to raise the levels of the soldiers.”

Though Shin thought Balmel would be in danger if one wrong move was made, there were upper class Chosen Ones keeping watch so that wouldn’t happen.

“It would be hard leveling, you know?”

“In the Melt Mountains, which is the domain of a divine beast, not a group of monsters could trespass, such as the ‘Flood’. Balmel is one of the most important borders with the Sacred Place to many countries. So, geographically, Balmel becomes an important defensive position between the Sacred Place and to each country. However, in recent years, the scale of the ‘Flood’, which can be used for training, hasn’t occurred, and it means that the skill level of soldiers showed a slight drop. The star of the battles are the Chosen Ones, but it’s the common soldiers that occupy most of the battlefield. There’s no loss to raise the strength of the whole battle force, no matter how little. It’s rare, so let’s put it to good use. Schnee will come too, right?”

“Yes, she should have gone to meet the feudal lord now.”

“Then please contact Schnee too. I’ll take care of the small necessary arrangements.”

“Do you make the arrangements with the guild and the army?”

“Yes, since I am the assistant manager of Golden Company. In addition, the feared ‘worst case scenario’ won’t happen now since Shin-sama is here.

He seemed to have connections with the top brass of the army and the guild. Shin also knew that Golden Company was of a large-scale, so he was not surprised that that was the case.

“Would it be okay for you to make such a decision on your own for a company?”

“The merchant sometimes has stronger power than a king. Because Golden Company has a different status from trading companies, which can be found here and there, my own decision too, is not treated as the decision of a common merchant. I also have experience participating in a defensive war; that will play a part in this decision. When there were too many peaceful days, it slacks off in various ways. That may become fatal to Balmel. Fortunately, I get along well with the person commanding the army, and added to the fact that Schnee will join there, the preparation won’t be so necessary too――If this city falls though, there is also the trouble regarding the circulation of goods..”

“Oi, your true intentions just leaked out a little..”

If one thought of stories with persuasive power, this was one of them.

To Berett, who leaked lines that were significant to merchants, it made Shin lose strength.

“It’s because a vast quantity of material will arrive after the ‘Flood’. It’s an opportunity to replenish stock cheaply.”

“To discover this as soon as the safety of Balmel is ensured, huh?…”

Where did the elf who lived in the forest go to? Berett was a money loving character; at the same time, Shin recalled that now.

“Hearing profit talk anywhere, that’s called a merchant. I had a novel idea in various ways with players this way. In the last decade of doing that in the shadows, sales are skyrocketing.”

“Heh, what kind is it, for instance?”

“It’s the featured product ‘Toilet Set’ of course. I had a hard time reproducing the inner shape and the flow of the water. Though the function necessary to make it a ‘wasslet’ cannot be reproduced yet, I’ll make it come true someday.”

“The name is slightly different though. Or rather, was it you who made that?”

Shin was often surprised when he came to this world, but he was most surprised by the toilet in the sense of unlikelihood. He thought that was a thing that was very close to the real world, but it appeared to have been made in the image of the real thing.

“That reminds me, it was also in Tsuki no Hokora. I have completely forgotten because it was something I used ordinarily.”

There was a toilet in his home. It was a natural thing to have in the real world.

And, even if this world looked like a game, it was real.

Therefore, in the situation where Shin did his business normally in Tsuki no Hokora, he hardly remembered any sense of discomfort.

“I mean when was that toilet placed in there? Though it is there now, Tsuki no Hokora never had such a thing.”

“I got permission from Schnee because it can be said it is a necessity when it comes to living in real life.”

“Indeed. It was also in the inn where I stayed; is it fairly widespread now?”

“Though we haven’t yet reached one in every household, it’s not strange to find one in some big inn or so. The first regular customers were the royal family and the nobles. They have to show off in a variety of trivial places after all. Because our toilet also has the practicality, we have received a considerable sum from the optional charges.”

They also seemed to sell custom-made toilets. It was clever salesmanship.

“Now that I’m aware of that, I cannot return to the same life in the past anymore.”

“Uwaa, your smile is evil, Berett.”

When only the words were heard, he seemed to be in the ‘sell some dangerous medicine’ mood. Was the situation before the ‘Toilet Set’ installation severe to that extent?

“Will the other followers become so dark too?”

To Berett’s appearance, Shin became worried a little.

 

◆◆◆◆

 

“Then, I’ll be counting on you.”

“Leave it to me. I’m looking forward to our next business.”

Turning his back on Berett, who neatly bowed, Shin went to the guild.

Schnee had been contacted and was asked to cooperate with Berett. The rest also asked for a little request.

When he arrived at the guild with the help of the map, a lot of adventurers had already gathered.

There were various people who were recruiting for impromptu parties, people who were not absorbed in information gathering, and people who withdrew money that had been deposited in the guild to maintain their weapons.

Shin, who placed the young fox on his head, appeared to attract the attention of the surrounding adventurers for a moment, but they returned to work as if having lost interest before long. Looking at the circumstances, Shin expected that the information that the ‘Flood’ was happening had been announced.

“Excuse me, I’d like to ask a few questions.”

“Yes, how may I help you?”

At the timing he aimed for when there were few people around, Shin headed toward the receptionist.

The one at the receptionist desk was Eliza, who had called the guild master last time.

At the other side of the rectangular lens, light blue eyes stared at Shin. She was a professional at her job, as she didn’t direct her gaze at Yuzuha either.

“Are there any records of the past ‘Flood’s?”

“Past ‘Flood’s?”

“Yes, since it is my first experience, I want to gather more information. Also, may I hear what kind of role of the adventurers have in the ‘Flood’?”

There seemed to be very few people examining the past records of the ‘Flood’; he was permitted immediately on the condition that he had to examine them inside the library.

Shin stood next to Eliza who guided him through the guild. Yuzuha was Shin’s contract beast, so it was fine for it to accompany him.

“You were talking about the role of adventurers a short while ago, right?”

“Yes. Personally, I was thinking that they were placed like a reserve force of the army or for search and destroy missions.”

Shin talked about his expectations to Eliza, who seemed to be going to explain along the way.

“You are not wrong with that; it’s reckless to tell adventurers to take organized actions like the army. Though it’s possible if several parties gathered and work together, it couldn’t be compared with the army. Therefore, their main job is to crush enemies who runs out of the protruding groups.”

“Well, that’s appropriate.”

A standard adventurer’s party consisted of six people. However, it didn’t mean there was an upper limit to the amount of members.

An irregular party such as a duo or a group of three was not unusual, there were many of those who increased their members only when on a large-scale like this time. There would be a significant different combination of skill levels, and they couldn’t be incorporated into the army.

The contents of which Eliza spoke, it was natural to say it was appropriate.

“But upper class Chosen Ones like Shin-sama and the others are different.”

Eliza said, as they arrived at the reference library, even though the door was closed.

No one was in the reference library. Because it was only limited to humans among the adventurers who knew about the Chosen Ones, it was probably taken into consideration.

“A little while ago, the report from Feudal Lord-sama has arrived. The person who accompanied you is from the royal family of Bayreuth Kingdom, right?”

“Indeed. As for why we came to such a place, please don’t ask me. The one who saw the ‘Flood’ and told me to hurry up was her.”

“We do not intend to inquire any further. But let’s get back to the story, the Chosen Ones are the vanguards that cut through the ‘Flood’. Although to be exact, it is the magic skills of the Chosen Ones.”

It was probably the Chosen Ones who could use wide area magic that he heard about from Rionne’s talk.

“As for the group distribution, the first group will consist of four people: Shin-sama, Hibineko-sama, Holly-sama, and Shadow-sama. The second group will be Schnee-sama, Rionne-sama, Guile-sama, and Liege-sama. The number of enemies will be reduced by the magic of Schnee-sama and Guile-sama, and at the same time the battle starts, the army will annihilate the remaining enemies. But it’s said that the number of enemies is quite large, so the first group will charge at the enemy, who are outside the range of the magic, and will have to hold this place down. After the use of the magic, Schnee-sama thins it out by killing the big boss, and Rionne-sama together with Liege-sama become the guards for Guile-sama. After the first group also has reduced the number moderately, they will retreat and have the army take the front over.”

Eliza explained the strategy plainly. It seemed a detailed plan had already been made.

Guile and Liege were probably the names of the other Chosen Ones.

“There is a fairly large battle force this time, but how has it always been done?”

“It depends on the Chosen Ones who come at that time. When there is a person who can use wide area magic, it becomes a pattern similar to this time. But, there is almost no difference because it is included in an agreement that one person is always there.”

“Is that so?”

Because reducing the number was required, a magic skill user would be useful.

In case of the Chosen One’s magic skill, the wider the range of a spell, the lower the power becomes, but it could be covered with the height of the stats. It should be enough if the opponents are low-level monsters.

“By the way Eliza-san, will it be okay for you to leave the reception desk?”

“No problem. The staff and the residents should know what to do. Besides the inexperienced person being in a hurry, we have surprisingly little work.”

As expected, the city continued standing off against the ‘Flood’.

Then, once the talk was over, Shin reached out his hand to a document.

While reading the documents of the past ‘Flood’, he asked Eliza about the strategy taken and the movement of the enemy at that time, and thought over whether there was any regularity.

“Occasionally, strong individuals seem to appear, right?”

Shin, who looked at the document, suddenly spoke out what was on his mind.

Low-level monsters spawned in large amounts during the ‘Flood’, but it seemed that individuals who reached level 300 were confirmed several times.

He understood that the appearance rate was higher in the ‘Flood’ of a larger scale.

Because the number was two or three at most, ordinary level soldiers were able to deal with it if their concentration level was raised on a long-distance attack.

“The monsters of the ‘Flood’ are too crowded, there seems to be the possibility of them killing each other by mistake. As a result, some of them have leveled up and evolved.”

There were also relationships of friend and foe, as well as allies between monsters, in THE NEW GATE.

Depending on the situation, the case of a player getting caught up in the battle between monsters had happened. Though it didn’t happen frequently, because many items and experience point were obtained with less damage if one acted skillfully, many players utilized it.

“If that’s the case, it may happen this time, can it not?”

“The possibility is high. Speaking of this time, I think it’s unnecessary to worry.”

Was this because the news of Schnee had circulated? There was no uneasiness on Eliza’s face.

“Now then, shall we return soon?”

“You have enough already?”

“I have read most of the noticeable ones, and I have plans for the evening.”

 

When Shin and Eliza returned to the hall of the guild, the amount of people had decreased considerably. Was it because the time was approaching evening? They were probably having a meal.

He thanked Eliza and exited the guild. He intended to help with the preparations if he had time, but reading the documents had unexpectedly taken time.

“…This message is, Tiera huh?”

Because a message had arrived, he looked around and opened it while walking slowly on the edge of the street.

The contents were about tonight’s inn. With the name of the inn, such things as whereabout, which area were written. Though it was simple, a map was also drawn, if Shin used that map, he wouldn’t get lost.

“(I’m hungry…)”

“That’s right. Shall we go to the inn and have a meal?”

After he replied like he was speaking to himself, Shin then headed to the inn.

After about 20 minutes of walking, a signboard, upon which a red tailed fox was drawn, was seen.

The name of the inn was “Red Tail”. By the way, it was also the name of an existing monster, and Yuzuha’s follower.

When he opened the door of the shop, a bell rang “clang clang”.

“Welcome! Will it be one person?”

“I think my companions will also come.”

One lady came out from the counter hearing the bell sound.

With ears above her head, and from the tail seen behind the long skirt, she was a beast without a doubt. They were vivid red as the name of the shop suggested. Though it was simple, she was probably a Type Fox beast.

“May I ask for your name?”

“I’m Shin. This is my partner, Yuzuha.”

The lady with the appearance of a beautiful woman at blooming age, seemed to remember something when hearing the word companions from Shin. She nodded as having convinced that Shin’s name was heard, and opened the register inside the counter.

“The name of your companion, please.”

“Tiera Lucent.”

“Thank you. Your companion is already rested in her room. This is customer-sama’s room key. The location of the room is go up the stair and go right side of room 205. Your companion is in room 206 right next to that. Breakfast is until 9 bell sounds in the morning, as for dinner, I’ll serve until it’s 9 o’clock on that clock there.”

Shin looked at the direction where the lady pointed out. A clock with a diameter of about 50 cemels was installed there, and was ticking away quietly.

“There are clocks, huh?”

Clocks weren’t widely used in this world. The church bell was in the area where nobles live. People acted using that as a guideline. The ones who worried about time, were merchants and government officials who had the motto “time is money”.

“Does it ring at fixed times?”

“Customer-sama is pretty knowledgeable. That clock produces a ringing sound once every hour.”

It didn’t seem to be the style where it rang one time at 1 o’clock, and two times at 2 o’clock.

The needle on the clock already pointed at nearly 6 o’clock.

“For the time being, I think I’m going to eat after I go to my room.”

“Understood.”

As Shin was seen off by the lady, he went up to the second floor.

The room 205 was a single person room. The area was about 7 tatami mats and there were a desk and a chair by the window, there was also a bathroom at the entrance sideway. A white clean sheet was laid out on the bed, and looked comfortable too.

“Tiera, you there?”

Shin who checked the room briefly went out to the corridor at once, and knocked the door of the next room where Tiera was at.

“Shin?”

After a short while, a voice was heard from the other side of the door.

“Yeah, have you had dinner?”

“No, not yet.”

“Then, shall we eat together? Yuzuha also looks hungry.”

“Kuu…”

“That’s terrible, isn’t it? Wait a minute, I’ll go out soon.”

To Yuzuha who raised a cry for feeling hungry, the voice of a bitter smile returned from Tiera.

They waited for a couple dozen seconds. Tiera joined Shin to order dinner in the dining room on the first floor.

Was the stew a standard? An exquisite dish with proper ingredients was served.

Also for some reason, Yuzuha’s was a thick steak which had been grilled carefully. Though Kagerou’s was a steak too, Shin saw that the two steaks were not the same.

Shin had learned the basic 【Cooking】 from Cook. The 【Cooking】 skill rose until VI. In this world, it was a level that couldn’t be reached easily.

Therefore, he understood the value of the steak put before Yuzuha. The food grade of the steak was obviously above the ones before Shin and Kagerou, Yuzuha repeatedly revealed its joy through telepathy since a while ago.

“Um, this is?”

“Somehow, we feel like we must serve to customer’s contract beast our finest cuisine of our shop. Naturally, the price stays as it is.”

The lady also had a look that said ‘I don’t know why I feel such a way’ on her face.

(This is because Yuzuha is an Element Tail, right?)

Element Tail was not only a fox type monster, it should be worshiped by the people of Type Fox beasts as well, Shin remembered. For them, it was possible to say it was an existence on same level as a God. Even if the true identity of Yuzuha was not understood, it may have had an effect on her somewhere.

Since there was no reason to refuse, they decided to receive it gratefully.

Did Kagerou also realize that Yuzuha had a higher rank too? He seemed to have no complaints.

“I wonder what it was.”

“Free of charge she said, isn’t it good? This stew is delicious!”

“I have no complaints since I prefer this rather than meat.”

While watching the meat juices of the steak Yuzuha had dripping, Tiera also slowly put the stew into her mouth.

“Yeah, it’s delicious!”

 

After they finished eating, Shin left Yuzuha to Tiera and left the inn for a moment.

He crossed over the rampart while hiding himself with a skill, and entered the woods where the trees were dense. When he neared the center, he cut down trees with wind magic, and created an open space.

“Release!”

A pendant shone, and Tsuki no Hokora appeared.

This luminous phenomenon had already been concealed with magic too.

He then entered the shop and went straight to the forge.

“Well, shall I do this?”

Fire was ignited in the furnace, and he materialized the equipment he took from Shadow and the others.

By looking at the weapons which he lined up, he contemplated for a short while in what way to strengthen them. While making a list of the materials in his brain, first, he picked up Shadow’s dagger from the weapons. The hilt was removed and he poured magic into the blade.

“The durability value has somewhat dropped, but it is well matched to its owner’s magic. It’s as I expected.”

When he confirmed the state of the dagger, Shin took out an orichalcum and a scarletite ingot each from Item Box, and threw them into the furnace.

It didn’t take much time, a metal was produced from the mix of silver and red. The metal formed was called chimeradite. Because it was a synthesis of two kinds, its performance became a low-class among chimeradite. However, the quality of the metal was higher than orichalcum and scarletite alone.

“Let’s do this.”

While Shin poured magic into the chimeradite, he thrusted the dagger’s blade into the ingot. The chimeradite like clay swallowed the blade, and when the blade was completely buried inside the ingot, Shin placed that on the anvil.

“………”

He focused his mind, and hammered the ingot with a mallet to distribute the magic power. Each time the ingot changed shape, it became smaller as it was compressed. If there were other blacksmiths in this place, the view would make their eyes widen in amazement.

After a few minutes, the black bladed knife with silver and red mixed in was completed on the anvil. The hilt and the clasp which were taken apart were reattached again. Though the length and the weight of the dagger hadn’t changed, the high-density red aura which enveloped the whole dagger proved that it was not a normal item.

Its inscription was “Night Kill’s Dagger” when appraised. As for its grade, the weapon ranked up to 《Mythology》 grade. Its performance also increased by 80%. In the event when supported by 【Enchant】, its performance would be far above the equipment available.

“Well, I guess this is alright.”

He nodded once at the result of the dagger, and then Shin picked up the next weapon.

 

◆◆◆◆

 

“This is the last one!”

Finally with a yell, Shin lowered the mallet. As for Hibineko and Holly’s weapons, 『Misty Hound』 and 『Short Stick of the Dawn』, they had been ranked up respectively. The dragon’s armor was also reinforced.

About an hour and a half had passed since he began his work. Shin, who felt thirsty, converted the last equipment into a card, put those back into his Item Box and went to the kitchen.

Thereupon, for the first time, he noticed that Schnee was in the living room. He was so focused on blacksmithing, he hadn’t noticed her coming in.

When Shin arrived in the living room, Schnee offered the drink which she prepared for Shin. Shin thanked her and accepted it, drinking it in one go.

“Phew, I feel revived.”

“Good work for today.”

“When did you come?”

“I arrived about 20 minutes ago. Because I can’t help you with smithing, I was waiting here.”

Schnee didn’t train the blacksmithing skill as Shin did. Even in the game era, her skill level was almost at IV.

“How about the feudal lord?”

“Regarding my participating in the war, Berett’s plan was adopted. We will reduce the number of monsters, and leave the rest for the training of the army.”

“It is just as I heard it.”

As he expected, Schnee participation in the war seemed effective.

“…Um, Shin”

“Hm?”

When Shin intended to return to the inn because he finished his business, Schnee called out to him with a hesitant voice.

“Did you hear about ‘that’…from Berett?”

“The story of PKs and players where you were silent?”

“……yes”

To Shin’s words, Schnee answered in a small voice.

Schnee herself probably felt a great sense of guilt for not telling him. His acquaintances who died in the game, if the person close to us is alive, normally we would like to know about that information.

That was concealed intentionally until it came to light by chance. Berett was right, Schnee’s behaviour couldn’t be praised if seen as a support character.

“I heard the circumstances. About your matter, I guess you would mention it after everything had ended, right?”

Shin said in a light tone, so it didn’t become too serious an atmosphere.

After Schnee finished subjugating the PKs, she was supposed to talk about everything to Shin, and wait for the verdict. At the very least, the Schnee whom Shin knew of, was such a character.

“…yes.”

For a support character, to the player that should be called the creator, the thoughts to disobey shouldn’t exist. That also included Schnee. Even though the binding in the game era had disappeared by the fact that it became reality, her defying him was unthinkable.

“Berett said that what you did, was for me. I think I have caused you worry.”

Schnee’s face turned down.

It was not normal. However, Schnee moved on her own. She carried it out against Shin’s intention.

“…it’s different.”

“Different?”

Schnee said it’s different. But Shin couldn’t think of a good reason other than that.

“It is true, that I don’t want Shin to change, by concerning yourself with PKs. But it…it is more of a personal reason for me.”

Though it was an action with Shin as the primary concern, it was also for her own sake at the same time.

Her voice gradually began to tremble. The words and thoughts which she had kept held in, were asking for the way out.

“I hated it! To see that kind of Shin, and being looked at with the same eyes that saw me as a tool! I was able to endure it when my ego was weak at that time. But, the me now, undoubtedly can’t stand it!”

In a calm and yet strong tone, Schnee vented her feelings.

If the companion was not Shin but someone else, she wouldn’t have done this. Otherwise, if only pure loyalty to serve Shin existed inside her heart, she certainly wouldn’t have suffered like this.

But that would not happen in reality. Once again, just the thought ‘He may become like that’, had Schnee unbearably frightened.

“I cannot replace Marino-san. If, if Shin becomes like at that time once more, I cannot stop you, Shin!”

The source of why Shin had changed, and also the reason why he had to return, everything was caused by his girlfriend. In her place, there was no room for anyone else.

Now that Marino wasn’t here, he would be beyond cure if he changed. If that was the case, Schnee had no choice but to remove the cause. Even if she understood it was hasty thinking, doing nothing and so on, Schnee was unable to do it.

“Schnee…”

“I am a cowardly woman. Even though I did something like this, I am somewhat glad that Marino isn’t here.”

Schnee stepped back as she said this.

His girlfriend ―― If Marino, who was Shin’s only lover, was there, it may be all right for Shin to change. Marino was an important person to that extent for Shin. If put into a ranking, she would finish first by a large margin.

Thus Schnee believed, if the first, Marino, was not there, she herself may be able to be the number one.

“I….I…..”

She suppressed it in front of Shin.

So far, she was able to suppress it. She stopped the thoughts in her mind, and pretended not to see it.

However, once she put it into words, she couldn’t control her feelings anymore. It couldn’t stop overflowing.

Because former players had come to this world, Marino may also have come, too.

If it was Marino, she could probably stop Shin.

However, to look for only one person in this world, how difficult was it? Schnee also understood that much. Even if Marino came here, they wouldn’t meet each other conveniently quickly. In fact, even with Berett and the others from Golden Company’s power, the searchable range and so on were limited.

But it couldn’t be asserted that there was nothing as it was.

This was because he was reunited with many comrades such as former players, Shibaid, Girard, and Schnee, who were completely drawn to Shin. It was possible that even the irregulars where he appeared near Tsuki no Hokora, or the appearance of Demons, and the reencounter with the former players were orchestrated.

It wouldn’t be too long before he met Marino. There was something that made her think so.

“………”

Seeing Schnee shed tears, Shin was troubled at what to do.

He never thought Schnee would lose her composure like this.

He came to this world and often saw new things, still Shin’s image of Schnee was always calm, graceful, and a little airheaded; she was such a woman.

Even if they had spent time together, his impression didn’t change greatly.

However, that was merely Shin’s presumption. As for Schnee, the impression of this guy from the game was repeating many times over in her heart. When the foundation was the same, he wasn’t able to perceive her heart.

Shin didn’t think there was anything wrong with what Schnee had said.

What Schnee said about Shin had changed at that time, he had no way of arguing even if he said he was not sane.

Shin himself knew well how he was in a dangerous state at that time now. It was natural for Schnee to be uneasy.

That she didn’t want him to reunite with Marino, also could be understood vaguely.

If you came to like someone, of course you would like to be that person’s number one, it was a natural feeling. And, like Schnee, being in dilemma because of her consciences, it was to be expected if she had a heart.

While noticing that Schnee had a liking toward him, it was natural to accept it as ‘what goes around, comes around’.

“…Sorry”

“Please do not apologize, Shin. I am, the bad one.”

He hated himself for only such a word to come out.

Shin was sorry, when he should have talked properly earlier.

When he met Hibineko and the others again, and heard about the players that had come to this world, Shin also thought about Marino’s being.

However, Shin didn’t think that Marino would be in this world. Hibineko and the others had their HP become 0 in the game, and died. And, though the reason was unclear, they were transferred to this world with state as is after they died.

As for Marino, her HP certainly became 0 too. However, there was no direct cause of death. Marino’s avatar, didn’t disappear.

“Schnee…Don’t blame yourself too much”

“!!? Eh, um, !….”

Schnee, who was quietly shedding tears, had no time to react, Shin embraced Schnee tightly.

To Shin’s abrupt action, Schnee’s body stiffened without a sound.

The ugly part of herself had been revealed. For Schnee, who was filled with anxiety, Shin’s action was too unexpected.

SchneeAndShinHugging

Even though she was in such a situation, she was ashamed as she was delighted for being embraced tightly, the cheek of the flustered Schnee turned rosy.

“Schnee, I don’t think your behaviour was wrong. Even me, if I knew that you would become like the me of that time, I’m likely to think of doing something and act.”

“But I, to Marino-san…”

“That, I guess there’s no helping it.”

“Such a thing is――”

“It is. When it comes to liking someone, I’d like to be the number one of that person; everyone is the same. That, even if it’s to wish for someone else’s misfortune, surely I cannot help think. Being really in love, it is likely because of that.”

Because he was experienced, he understood it.

There was no reason. Be it Shin, or Schnee, or someone else, there would be no difference.

“To be honest, I was really happy to be able to meet you, Schnee”

“!!”

To Shin’s confession, Schnee’s body trembled a little.

“Just when I thought it was over after I finally beat the boss, I was transferred here. Without any acquaintances, and on top of that, it felt like another person’s house even when I found my home. As a result, I had a strange disposition in herb collection. Therefore, when you said welcome back at that time, I was so relieved. That you still remembered me, Schnee.”

“……”

“Though Berett mentioned about you being an unworthy follower or something, I don’t have the intention of punishing you if I have nothing to blame you for.”

“But that…”

“I don’t hear anything. I’ve already decided, a high decision. Objection is unacceptable.”

Shin forcibly shut up Schnee who still tried to say something.

Nothing good would result in dragging out and prolonging such a thing.

“And no more secrets.”

“…yes”

The hug was released. Shin was inwardly relieved as there was no gloom on Schnee’s face until some time ago.

“Um, Shin. May I ask you one question?”

“What is it?”

“About Marino-san, do you…still love her?”

“…Yes, I love her. This feeling hasn’t changed even now.”

“I..see. I understand.”

Hearing Shin’s answer, Schnee has an expression like she had made up her mind.

The next moment, when Shin had a question regarding that change, Schnee jumped forward lightly without spare movement.

“!!?”

Schnee’s lips touched Shin’s lips for a moment.

Schnee took action as if it was the revenge for a little while ago, and Shin wasn’t able to react this time.

Even if he understood what happened, he didn’t know why it had become so.

“Because I’m not giving up.”

With a bright red face, Schnee said so.

“I-I love you, Shin. I understand that there is a reason for you to return to your former world, but still, these are my true feelings!!”

She was quite embarrassed. With the momentum like being somewhat desperate, Schnee spoke of what she felt.

At those direct words, Shin also felt his face flushing.

“…I-I will leave first.”

“Ah…”

Shin didn’t have the time to stop her, as Schnee rushed outside in the blink of an eye.

Speaking of Shin who was left hanging, he could only freeze while stretching out his arm.

“That…that wasn’t expected…”

What kind of face should he make when they met after this? Shin racked his brain.

 

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