Afterwards, Pochi and I did a lengthy selection for the four spells to put into the Torrent Dragon Staff.
Having taken our time, we returned to the Pochisley Agency in the dead of night. We popped into my room undetected via the Teleportation spell and then crashed into my bed. However, in contrast to Pochi’s almost immediate visit to dreamland and subsequent snoring, I could not make myself fall asleep.
Although Pochi’s belly pillow was just as comfortable as ever, I couldn’t help but be concerned about our future plans for now.
Even though we held the convenience of owning a base of operations here in Beilanea, the amount of information we could gather here was presumably less than what we may find at the Royal Capital of Regalia. I had planned to cooperate with Melchi for an efficient search in both locations at once, and had never expected her to be using the Transmission Isolator magecraft at this time.
Yeah-yeah, the world’s a tough place and all that jazz… but complaining wouldn’t make things better. The Divine Messenger had told me to “devote myself to my studies,” so now that I have reached level 100, perhaps I ought to focus instead on gaining practical battle experience and knowledge, and also acquiring positive-effect titles for my profile.
Titles pertaining to combat achievements probably could be acquired automatically during battles, so I suppose I could prioritize that for now.
The one I would like to have the most right now would be… Rank S, I guess? Right – if I had that, I would have access to a broader range of information, and also more opportunities to make money for the Pochisley Agency. I’ve got to remember to ask Duncan about it tomorrow.
Drowsiness finally overtook my body as I pondered things over, so I let myself be absorbed in it… but then I felt a flickering of arcane energy right outside my door.
This peaceful and gentle aura…
She answered, prompting me to pull myself up from my bed. Right… I’d heard that she had to stop by the University, so it’s reasonable that she’d be back once her job there was done.
I walked toward the door, keeping my footsteps as light as possible so as to not wake Pochi up, and then opened the door just as quietly.
What was revealed to me, exactly as what had happened once before when we had been stuck renting inn rooms, was Lina’s delighted countenance as she held up her new staff.
I closed the door behind me, and Lina took a step back to make way. Technically I was the one who took a step toward her, but for some reason, I had felt that the former description was more fitting.
“Umm, I would like to thank you for the staff…”
She bowed her head down, a gesture that took me by surprise.
“Oh no, you should be thanking Sir Gaston, not me.”
“O-of course, but, well… If it wasn’t for you, this wouldn’t have happened, you see…”
“That’s not true. You’ve been keeping at it with the best of your abilities, haven’t you?”
Lina’s face reddened up in reaction to my counter statement. Ngh… it’s dark as all hell tonight, yet her smile is as radiant as ever. How does she do that?
While my thoughts ran wild, Lina’s face turned resolute as she looked at me once again. From my experience, that was THE sign of the discussion taking a turn for the serious.
I looked back at Lina right in her eyes, so as to communicate non-verbally that we ought to continue the conversation in the first-floor dining room.
Lina nodded then started to walk behind me as we got ourselves downstairs.
Once we sat down opposite to each other, Lina put her hands on her chest and took a deep breath.
“…Um, Sir Asley, I’ll…… I’ll be joining the Magic Guardians at the Royal Capital.”
If I hadn’t heard anything from Gaston beforehand, I would have been greatly surprised.
It seemed that Lina had carefully chosen the timing of this discussion herself. Considering her character, she probably preferred not to discuss this subject through a Telepathic Call.
Assuming that she’d waited for when it’s just the two of us to discuss this subject, she wasn’t necessarily intending to keep it to herself.
For some reason, that assumption of mine felt quite reassuring – and my body reacted accordingly, as apparent from my line of sight and breathing.
“…I see. I believe that you can do it, Lina. Not to mention Fuyu’s working there as well.”
“Well, I… I think my abilities are still quite far from measuring up to yours, you see… so I figured I would improve myself by working with the Magic Guardians. And when the Devil King comes, I… I’d like to lend you my power then.”
That… rendered me speechless.
Not by Lina’s declaration of her new objective, but by the sincerity of her sentiment.
She had found her purpose all on her own, something I could never hope to do, what with me basing my path on what I had heard from the Divine Messenger. I had unknowingly made up excuses for my actions, and in doing that, I might have lost sight of my true purpose.
That was why I had no words to answer her with.
Tonight, Lina’s newly declared purpose had made me question mine.
I hadn’t even been aware of my pupil’s gradual improvement. Now I felt that the results of her growth thus far has given me a reassuring nudge in the right direction.
“Me too… I won’t let myself be beaten that easily, you know.”
When I finally wrung a reply out of my reluctant mouth, Lina reacted with a head tilt… and a stare at my face that went through my soul.
And then her face briefly became rosy-colored, or so I felt. A sign of relief from stress, perhaps?
Suddenly, the clouds moved away, giving way for the moonlight to cast over Lina – that was when I fully realized the change of her mood.
The same black robe ever, the same face as ever, now shining in a pretty, bright red.
The comment I accidentally let out turned the rosy color into the color of a burning flower field.
She covered her beet-red face with both hands, doing her best to escape my field of view as she ran away to her room.
“I won’t lose!”
Lina declared once she was sufficiently away from the dining room, as a reply to my earlier claim.
Then, once I stop hearing her footsteps darting up the stairs, I set my face down on the table and grabbed the back of my head, as if to tear my hair out.
“…So much for keeping my thoughts to myself.”
(Xemul: “If you do not know how to approach the girl – be honest.”
A deep honesty is always appreciated… Unless, you are being a fool do this in an inappropriate moment. The latter part is… most of the time left to a chance though.)
The next day, Pochi and I visited the Adventurer’s Guild and sparked a conversation with Duncan while he was preparing some beer.
“A Rank-up Evaluation for Rank S, hmm… it’s not like you’ll be chosen just because you’re level 100, so it’s not likely to happen quickly, yeah? I know I can vouch for your qualifications just fine, but not that many people have gotten recommended just based on their level, you see… Well, to put it bluntly, you’re still lacking in documented experience despite your level… yeah, that sounds about right. You’ve been away without logging in any work for quite a long time too…”
“I knew that would be the case… All right then – I’ll go do some adventuring real quick, so please hand over the toughest work you have now!”
“A thousand apologies for my Master’s arbitrary demands, Duncan!”
“Uhuhuhu, you got it, my boy~~ Ah – take this to table C.”
Duncan set a few mugs of beer on a tray and passed it over to a young waitress nearby.
Wait, if I’m seeing the right person…this girl is also living at the Pochisley Agency. Itsuki… could that be her – oh, now that she greeted me, there’s no doubt in my mind.
I watched on as she did her best to carry the tray, what with it being relatively enormous for her. Seeming to have noticed that, Duncan gave me some explanation.
“She’s recently started working for us part-time. Uhuhuhu, she’s got surprisingly good reflexes for this line of work, you know?”
“Haha, that’s a surprise.”
“For real! I never thought I’d be seeing Itsuki here!”
“We sometimes accept people recommended by adventurers and those we can trust into our employment, you see. She’s a kid, so we really can’t pay her much, but her management skills were guaranteed since she was from the Colorful Food District… and she’s been working hard, you know? Helped me a bunch, and she’s actually pretty popular too!”
…So that’s the case. I can definitely see how the youths’ positive energy has an effect on this place. Their adorable, innocent smiles are justice!
I can understand the intention of the adventurers taking the initiative in creating jobs for those who need them.
“Now, back to work, my boy… Since you’re Rank A, how about this one?”
The request Duncan showed me was the usual monster hunt.
The one I was to hunt was the Kerberos Worm, the den of which was located southeast of Beilanea – or to be more precise, east of Giants’ Passage.
The Kerberos Worm… as the name implied, it was a three-headed earthworm beast, and it boasted a massive size. Seeing that this was an A-ranked request despite the target being a B-ranked monster, there has to be some sort of catch here.
I expressed to Duncan my intention to accept it, and then went to check out the other high-difficulty requests that were for around the same area.
I browsed until I filled up the limit of three simultaneous quests. It would have been more efficient to just accept everything and turn them in all at once, but alas, regulations dictated that I could not do so.
Then again, fortunately, I could use the Teleportation spell and could instantly return to my room at any time, so I can still do things faster than most of the other adventurers.
“So… aside from the Kerberos Worm, what requests did you accept, sir?”
“I’ve heard that Rank A monsters are turning up less lately, you see, so the highest they had, were all B-rankers. I know we’re in this just for the money, but with how we are now, these are just a walk in the park, huh…”
The task of searching for monsters was entrusted to my Familiar Pochi.
The nose of a beast is sharper than a man’s, after all. Once we reached the requests’ marked locations, all she had to do was start sniffing around to easily find the monsters we needed.
Partially because of that, we had finished the hunts other than the Kerberos Worm before reaching the Giants’ Passage.
“All right, gotta go a little east from here, then start the search.”
After ten minutes or so, Pochi’s nose started twitching.
At first, I thought she had finally detected the monster, but from the look on her face, that didn’t seem to be the case.
“People… extremely high fighting strength. From how they’re moving, I’d say that they’re warriors.”
“All right, let’s be careful as we approach them. Wouldn’t want them to slip by if they’re bandits. Rise, A-rise, All Up: Count 2 & Remote Control!”
After applying body augmentation effects with magic, I relied on Pochi’s nose and ears to move forward.
And then, when Pochi nose twitched again, she instantly gigantified, informing me of the potential danger before even speaking a single word.
“Master, prepare to run at all times! They’re a large group!”
Pochi bared her fangs and kept her eyes sharp, prompting me to prepare for battle.