“Weren’t you going to catch Stepping Man? Well, doing regular work like this is a big help to us so it’s not like I’m complaining.”
Nick was in Manhunt, filling up paperwork in the receptionist’s counter, while the pierced receptionist grinned as she checked the scoundrel’s identities. Some of them were repeated offenders of extortion, so while they were not worth much, they did have bounties on their heads.
“Identity check complete… That will be eighty thousand dinar in total.”
“Oh? Not bad.”
Tianna let out a ‘mufufu’ laugh as she stroked the gold coins, and put them in the party’s wallet.
“People that only go for high bounties don’t last long. Look at Scott over there, he’s an idiot, but he’s good, and he makes good money too.”
The pierced woman looked towards the door as it opened and Scott was coming in.
He had two swords hanging from his waist as he did before. He probably didn’t notice Nick and the others, and sat down with his partner and started chatting.
Nick observed him, while trying to be discreet.
“Well… He doesn’t look weak.”
Tianna responded while making no attempt to hide her doubts.
“You’ll know if you see his gait. He uses something weird like twin swords, and he has a solid built body. You don’t want to fight someone like that”
“Really? I guess I won’t know until I see it.”
“You never know what these high rank adventurers are doing. That’s how you get weirdos like Stepping Man.”
The rest of Survivors followed Tianna’s gaze towards Scott, who was chatting with his partner.
“Ou, Scott, what’s wrong?”
“Ah, Pate. Nothing.”
“Hn? You’re dirty… Wait, are you hurt?”
“It’s no big deal.”
Scott rubbed his right hand. It was bruised.
“What is it Karan?”
“When we were fighting Stepping Man… Didn’t you kick his arm…”
The bruise in Scott’s arm had the shape of the bottom of a boot.
Nick fell silent, and listened to Scott’s conversation.
“Don’t get careless Scott. Bounty hunters are easy to hate.”
“T-that’s not it.”
“Then did you get into a fight? Geez, didn’t you get in trouble the other day too?”
“Let’s just talk about work.”
It seemed Scott didn’t want to talk about this, and forcibly stopped the conversation.
It was as though he was feeling guilty about something.
“…Isn’t that suspicious?”
“It’s so suspicious it turns back around to not being suspicious.”
Said Tianna, to which Nick waved his hand sideways in an exaggerated way.
“I mean, you said twin sword users were weirdos or something right?”
“Don’t twist what I said.”
“Hmm… He doesn’t seem like the type to use non-showy and full on practical magic like Diamond Shield.”
“People are not always what they seem.”
“What do you think Bond?”
“It is hard to tell.”
As Nick and the others talked, Scott noticed Survivors.
Scott and the others started moving awkwardly. Was Scott feeling awkward about picking a fight before? It did not seem they wanted to show themselves to Survivors.
“Ah, they’re gone.”
“…Hmm, how awkward.”
Said Karan, to which Nick mumbled with a sour expression.
“What’s wrong Nick?”
“There’s a higher than zero chance that he’s Stepping Man… We should gather more information before reaching a conclusion.”
Said Nick, and he looked towards the receptionist again.
“So, do you know anything?”
“You people are our biggest source of information.”
“So nothing then.”
“I’ve been hearing about footsteps being heard at night when no one is around, and how you saved kids from being kidnapped, so people are finally starting to realize there really is a pervert like Stepping Man around. A lot of people have been itching to hear from you.”
The pierced woman signaled with her eyes to behind Nick and the others, and a woman with glasses was running towards them with a happy look on her face.
“Everyone! How are you doing!?”
“Stepping Man got away from us and we were caught by you.”
“Now, now, don’t talk about me like I’m a kidnapper. And by the way, what’s that?”
Olivia looked at the captured men.
One of them smacked his lips, feeling not too happy about being treated as ‘that’, but Olivia paid no attention to him.
“Oh, this just sort of happened.”
“You’re full fledged bounty hunters now aren’t you… Anyway, do you have more clues now that you’ve met him again?”
Nick nodded, and told her where he appeared and where he ran.
“How did he run away?”
Karan looked awkward, probably because he ran away after her Fire Breath didn’t hit him.
“It’s not your fault.”
“I guess, but…”
“If he was easy to capture, people wouldn’t call him Stepping Man. And we managed to stop him from kidnapping that kid. I’m hungry, let’s get something to eat.”
Nick pat Karan’s head.
“Geez, you’re messing up my hair!”
Karan slapped Nick’s hand away, and turned away, so as not to let him see her face.
“Hey hey, stop flirting, we need to talk.”
Said Tianna, and they moved to an empty table.
Olivia spread out a map, and Bond took out a pen from his pocket.
“He appeared here this time. And his escape route… Was this.”
Olivia sounded impressed.
Bond’s senses were excellent, and Stepping Man’s escape route was put down in more detail than before.
“Well, from this point forward he started curving and turning back, probably to give the slip to any pursuers… But if not…”
Bond’s pen pointed to the abandoned area.
“Good job Bond!”
“That hurts. Can you not hold back at all!?”
Tianna slapped Bond on the back.
“I still have some concerns. First, do you remember his face, build, or voice?”
“We couldn’t really see his face.”
“And the rest?”
Nick started speaking, but realized something.
His image of him was always a blur. He had the impression he was a man, but did not know if his voice was high or low pitched, if he was fat or thin, and couldn’t remember any characteristics.
It was as though there was a fog on his memory.
“…I don’t really remember.”
“Yes. It seems either the bewitching effect was not completely broken, or the intended effect was to cause something akin to prosopagnosia in the first place.”
Karan repeated Bond’s words with a question mark hovering on her head.
“Basically, it means you do not quite know who someone is, even if you look at their face… If you do not know what Stepping Man is like, it means you are highly unlikely to know if you have even passed by him on the street.”
“…What a pain.”
“It probably is a magic item. If he could use such advanced magic, he probably could also use more gruesome spells.”
“A magic item… It would be great if it had some weak point. I wish we knew someone that knows about this sort of stuff.”
“Magic items? You do know someone.”
Grumbled Nick, and Tianna suddenly responded.
“You know. You visited him a while back.”
The word visit made Nick realize who she was talking about.