The transvestite bar Sea Anemone was empty.
Rather, there were no customers. The weather was bad, and to top it all off, less people were going out at night thanks to the recent rumors about kidnappings.
Nick was thinking about covering Karan’s eyes if there were any drunk patrons or employees acting improperly, but there was no need to.
But this situation was very unfavorable to Redd, the lawyer, who was very clearly in a bad mood.
“I wish you would just solve this already, it’s a matter of life or death. I can’t just stand here with no customers forever.”
“We’re just adventurers doing some bounty hunting you know?”
An annoyed Nick responded to Redd’s grumble.
“Then it’s your job to catch bad guys. We’ll help you even if you over-do it a little, so do your best. You can use this place to meet and discuss things and we won’t even charge you for it.”
Survivors sat at the biggest table.
The employees realized they were going to talk about work, and did not bother them.
“Ah, of course, you can have something to eat or drink if you want. What will you have?”
Redd asked while getting water and drinks from behind the bar. Apparently he was going to make whatever he wanted, even though he asked.
“Listen to our orders first… Anyway, how are you doing Ada?”
“Ah, I’m great.”
Ada and her daughter sat on the sofa facing Survivors.
She looked better than expected considering how she looked when Stepping Man’s attack took her down.
“A wound like that is nothing I’m not used to. I can fight no prob…”
Ada energetically spun her right arm, and was scolded by her daughter.
Ada continued talking while shrugging.
“…As you can see, I have a daughter I can count on too, so I’m fine. So, did you want to ask me something?”
“You fought Stepping Man before right? Even before you got hurt, there were times when you noticed his presence and fought him didn’t you?”
“Ou, yes, a few times. But I only patrolled around during the day when I have the time, because this girl right here said so.”
Nick and the others wanted to hear more about it, but Ada didn’t look too enthusiastic.
Maybe she was bored, and she patted her daughter’s head.
“I mean, I don’t know a lot either. I want to know who he really is just as much as you.”
“We’re not asking who he is, we want to know why you fought him…”
“He can completely erase his presence and move around like a cat. It’s weird that you managed to fight him, unless you have some sort of countermeasure.”
“I see, so that’s what you want to know?”
Ada smiled, realizing what the conversation was really about.
“I have a general idea. It’s strengthening magic right?”
“…Oh, so you know already.”
Ada fell back on the sofa, and Nick mumbled.
“…You don’t look like a sorcerer.”
“Of course not, I mean, it is magic, but it’s nothing great. There’s four I can use.
《Magic Response》, 《Sense Strengthening》, 《Light Body》 which makes my body lighter, and 《Heavy Body》 which does the opposite. That sort of low level strengthening magic”
“I’ve never heard of those… Can you use them Sem?”
“No, I can’t.”
Sem shook his head, and Ada smiled.
“I’m happy I got you beat mister priest. Still, good job figuring it out. Not many priests know about this.”
“Yes, I looked into it for different reasons.”
Nick asked, and Sem was surprised.
“Did you forget? Didn’t I tell you I’d teach you basic strengthening magic?”
“Ah, right, that!”
When they were exploring Wood Men Fighting Forest, Nick unexpectedly gained magic energy.
But it was still a minute amount of magic energy, so they quickly realized Nick could not use any practical magic, and Sem started searching for magic even Nick could use.
“Don’t worry about it, just come to a bar with me again some time.”
“Give me some time to think about it.”
Sem jokingly said and he was rejected, which made everyone snickered.
“Anyway, the magic that Ada uses is very low level, so I think even you can use them Nick. Whether or not you can take its effects is a different story though.”
“What do you mean?”
“Imagine if all of a sudden your nose became as sensitive as a cat or dog’s, and then someone put a labyrinth chicken with fifty chili peppers in front of you. What would happen?”
Nick understood, and Tianna asked a question.
“But that doesn’t happen with other kinds of strengthening magic right? You use Sturdy and Mighty on me all the time, more times than I can count, but it’s never been a bother.”
“That’s because the parts that could become a problem have been adjusted… Basically, they’re complete, safe spells. For example, Sturdy strengthens muscles, but it has been adjusted so as not to cause injuries. It protects the body by strengthening skin and bones as well, but its effect is limited, so it can’t go too far.”
Everyone was impressed. They were not aware of this.
“Low level magic doesn’t have this kind of minute adjustments, so they have to be adjusted by using magic energy carefully or being mindful of how you move. Basically, it’s easy to learn but hard to use.”
“Yes. It’s magic, but technique is very important. If you just start pumping magic energy into it, you could be badly injured, so you have to be stingy with it. It’s actually easier to use if you haven’t been blessed with a lot of magic energy.”
“So that’s how you noticed Stepping Man?”
“Yes. I trained Sense Strengthening the most, and Light Body after that. Having good hearing and eyesight is useful in scouting. Still… It felt weird. I couldn’t feel his presence at all, but could hear his footsteps on the roofs.”
“So you noticed him, and managed to deal with his quick moves by yourself?”
“Well, I struggled to keep up… If I could move my leg well I could move like that weirdo, but…”
Said a frustrated Ada, but Nick and Sem were impressed.
“Like him… Does that mean he’s using similar magic?”
“I want to know as well. Is he?”
“That’s what I think. I think a few high rank adventurers can use it. It’s not like the common magic that sorcerers use, but it’s no secret either. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people out there could use it too.”
Nick and Sem looked at each other with happy expressions.
They were slowly but surely understanding Stepping Man’s strange characteristics. It was a small but important step towards revealing who he really was.
But Karan raised an objection.
“But what can we do even if we know his abilities? I don’t think we can ask her…”
Karan peeked at Reina.
Ada’s leg was hurt, and she had a daughter to protect.
“We’re not going to make an injured person go out there, are we?”
“I don’t mind. Do you?”
Ada said while smirking.
“You need to look after Reina. What if he takes her as a hostage?”
Ada seemed unhappy about being scolded by the two.
“So what do you want me to do?”
“You said technique is more important than magic, so I want you to teach that.”
“Teach… to whom? It’s not easy you know?”
Sem said while looking at Nick.
Everyone else also had their eyes on him.
“Who else? There’s your chance to learn more magic.”
Said Tianna like it was obvious.
“Well, I guess. You’re assuming she’ll even teach me. It’s not like this is simple and…”
“No, there’s no problem.”
Ada said casually, to which Nick responded with a foolish voice.
“It’s not like I have it copyrighted or anything. It’s not like it’s mine, I was taught too.”
“Taught? Did you have a master or something?”
“Yes, back when I was still a rookie, my senior taught me. I don’t know what they’re up to these days though.
And it’s not like I was told to keep it a secret or anything. In fact, I was told that not many people are compatible with it, so if I find someone that is, I should teach it”
“That’s… Very commendable.”
What Ada was saying deviated a little from what Nick was used to.
Adventurers were proud of their skills, whether it was swordsmanship, martial arts, magic, etc. They would gladly teach their partners how to look for work in the guild or how to explore a labyrinth, but they would not teach other people their fighting techniques so easily. In fact, many kept them a secret.
“You should be more concerned about being able to use them properly. You can learn them in a day, but mastering them is a different story.”
Nick shook his head.
“…I’m fine with just learning them. If I can jump as high and move like Stepping Man, I can handle the rest.”
“Are you alright with that?”
“It’s not like this is an acrobatics competition. All we have to do is catch him. That’s what’s important.”
“You have another dirty trick in mind don’t you?”
“I mean… Right?”
Tianna looked at Sem, Karan, and Bond, and they all nodded.
“You all think that way!?”
“Now now, it just means we are counting on you.”
“That’s right. We’re not insulting you or anything.”
“I’m not sure I’m satisfied with that…”
Nick grimaced, and Ada tapped him on the shoulder.
“Adventurers need at least one guy like that.”
“I’m pretty sure the way to make someone feel better in this situation is to say that they’re wrong.”
“I don’t know. What matters now is that you learn this magic. From now on you’re going to call me sensei. I’m going to train you well.”
“Geez, looks like I’m going to be busy… I still have to go talk to Leon too.”
Nick sighed, and Sem raised his hand.
“Then how about we split up?”
“Hn? What do you mean? And why are you raising your hand?”
“I want to go to the abandoned area again.”
“Ah… You need to investigate it…”
His hideout was probably in the abandoned area.
They could not sit quietly and observe.
“But there’s no order in there, and there’s people like Nargava… It’s very interesting.”
Sem’s smile made Nick shrink back.
The image of Sem convincing men to give up with just his words was burned in the back of Nick’s mind.
Sem’s devilish charm was the real deal.
“Alright. Then that’s settled.”
Said Tianna, before raising three fingers.
“Nick will be learning magic, meet up with Leon to try to get some clues, and we will investigate the abandoned area one more time. That’s it right?”
“That’s it. Well, I’m the one that’s going to train and meet Leon though… Karan.”
“Come with me when I go talk to Leon.”
Karan accepted without hesitating.
“Now Sem, Tianna, and Bond, you three form the other group. How’s that?”
“‘Understood’, ‘Got it’, ‘Hm, very well’.”
The three agreed, and Redd clapped his hands.
“Good luck, but you’re only doing that tomorrow right? You need to have a fine dinner first. After that is a good rest.
And then they had dinner.
Redd cooked extremely spicy labyrinth chicken, just like Nick had the other time.
This spicy dinner spread throughout Survivor’s tired bodies.