CHAPTER 38: GAZE, DRUG, AND CAREFREE
It was probably about a month after the party request and 10 months since we came to the town of Sannois.
Ever since I came to this world, I generally haven’t paid attention to the calendar, so I’m never really sure what day it is or how many days it’s been.
All I know is that it probably hasn’t been a whole year yet, considering that we still haven’t been kicked out of the inn.
A recent change is that the stalker isn’t following me anymore.
In the first place, Carol-san was already aware that I’ve noticed her following us, and she only did that to observe our aptitude as a hunter anyway, so as long as they’re aware of our aptitude, it naturally becomes unnecessary.
However, there are still people monitoring me.
While I first assumed that they might just be some guild personnel or hunters dispatched by the Hunter Guild, they’re somewhat bad at it when considering that, or rather, they don’t seem to care about anything else as long as they just know where we are.
Moreover, it generally only happens inside the town, so I’m almost sure that it’s something else.
The annoying thing is that, based on their presences, it seems like different people are following us every time.
So even if I press them for answers, it’s likely that they’ll just assert that it’s a coincidence and muddle things up.
Today, while feeling that certain gaze, or rather their unusual movements again, we took a request and headed to the forest.
While the forest was unfamiliar to us during our past escape, we’re now used to it after walking through it everyday.
Though with that said, I do think that the forest where that mansion was and this forest near Sannois are on completely different levels of difficulty.
After all, B-class cyclopses appeared in that forest and the wolves commonly seen there are about D or C-class in strength as well.
『What is it』
『I wonder why spiders exist.』
『Spiders aren’t exactly creatures of pure evil, you see.
They do eat insects that harm people after all.』
『Your true thoughts on them』
『It’ll be great if they go extinct, is what I think.』
『Complicated isn’t it』
『Yes, it really is.』
As we passed the gates while exchanging that nonsense, it looks like our pursuers are also coming with us this time.
Today’s pair are hiding behind tree to tree as they chase after us.
Since I know the timing of their movements, I matched their timing and turned my head.
There, I see two men with the so-called usual brutish and crude hunter look.
I seem to remember them from somewhere, but where Being discovered, the pursuers ran away at full speed, so it’ll be difficult to check one last time.
I approached the forest while racking my head on who they were when this time, I saw a party that I definitely remember.
Upon noticing me, one of them, Perla-san, enthusiastically waved her arm, told the other two something, and then suddenly ran towards me.
「Teacher, are you going to the forest for a request too」
「That’s right, but “Teacher”」
「Yup! I can do more things now because of Teacher’s help and we’re now allowed to take the D-rank test.
It’s all thanks to everything you taught me, so you’re my Teacher.
Will that be bad」
「No, it’s not really bad or anything.
Anyways, congratulations on receiving the permission to take the D-rank test.
You’re not heading to the test right now, are you 」
「We’ve decided to take it after we get just a bit better with our teamwork.
I still get Teren-kun wet sometimes after all.」
As we were talking, Terencio-kun and Ilda-san came as well, so after exchanging a light greeting, I started walking once again.
「Come to think of it, what’s in the D-rank test」
「I’m curious about that too.」
Ilda-san followed up to Perla-san’s question, but unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to that.
I was hesitant on whether I should tell them or not, but since there’s no reason to lie, I decided to talk about what happened to a certain extent.
「I was actually exempted from the D-rank examination, so I don’t really know.」
「You can get exempted」
「There seems to be a system that allows it as long as you’re capable enough.
After passing the strength test during the registration, I was given the exemption.」
Hearing my explanation, the three of them let out a convinced「Ahh~」at the same time.
Since we were all heading for the forest, the four of us decided to stay together until just we enter the edge of the forest.
On the way, they enthusiastically told me about how easier it is to fight now, of Terencio-kun’s combat strength, and other similar things.
It’s absolutely more preferable than being randomly asked about things, so I devoted myself to listening and just nodded continuously.
A story about Brass-kun came up as well and it seems like he approached them all condescending as usual, having not learned anything at all, so they beat him in a formal match.
「It’s a bother but he’s getting really desperate, so please be careful.」
「As his former party members, we really wanted to help him.
But in the end, that was all we could do.」
「No matter how hard you try, there are people that just won’t listen after all.
I’ll be careful then…… Isn’t there a sweet scent somehow」
Although I’m already fed up just thinking that we might get involved with some trouble again, I replied without letting those thoughts show.
At that moment, I caught a sweet scent from the gust of wind coming from the direction of the forest.
It wasn’t just a faint sweet scent, but a sickly-sweet smell that would likely make me choke if I drew too near.
「Let me see.
There is something sweet.」
「Yeah, but it’s an awfully faint scent.」
「Really I don’t smell anything at all though.」
The three of them had different reactions each.
While this definitely sounds like a topic that Carol-san would absolutely love to research about, since the three out of four of us can sense it, this smell is probably not just my imagination.
As we approached the forest, the scent got even denser and as we reached the edge of the forest, it was so dense that it’s making me feel a bit sick.
However, Perla-san was cheering「It smells so good!」in high spirits, while Terencio-kun just asked「Are you really sure about that」in confusion and Ilda-san looked absolutely weirded out.
I contemplated on just blocking the scent with my barrier, but after considering that it would be better to find what caused it, I headed towards the place where the scent was the densest.
A short distance from the edge of the forest, there was a narrow-mouthed flask-like object almost hidden in the shadow of a tree.
Inside it is a small amount of what seemed to be a greenish-light brown fluid.
As I picked it up, wondering what it might be, there was a response from detection.
At almost the exact same time, I sensed something running deep inside the forest.
It’s likely… a person.
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It seems that my hunch was right.
I’m getting really depressed now.
Anyway, I searched for the cover of the flask, put it on, and went back to the other three.
「Was there something」
「This drug I suppose.
Does this look any familiar」
「Not really, but what’s that」
「Likely the source of that scent.
I have a bad feeling about this but for now, would you mind going back to town and showing this to the guild people You can tell them that I picked it up.」
Hearing my request, the three of them looked at each other and silently nodded.
After that, they accepted the flask and headed back to town.
「Teacher, what do you plan to do」
「I wonder what indeed.
If there’s no other choice, I’ll run away.」
「That’s a promise, okay」
Perla-san stopped, turned to me, and said so with a somewhat sorrowful expression.
While I’m really sorry to ruin the moment, I do think the town would probably get destroyed first before anything happens to us.
Well, as long as they somewhat understood that this is going to be a race against time, it should be good enough.
I once again check the presence with detection and see that the person running is trying to put some distance between us.
Far behind him is a countless amount of monsters and it looks like these monsters are heading our direction.
So this means that the the person wasn’t trying to avoid us, but was simply running to the opposite direction of where the monsters are heading.
Also, it’s probably not us, but the smell of the drug inside the flask earlier, that the monsters are attracted to.
If the monsters are heading towards the place where the scent is the densest, then that would explain why they’re heading here.
Come to think of it, I think I’ve heard of a drug that can induce stampedes but… I guess it’s useless to think about it now.
『Now, what should we do』
『Even if you ask me, Ain, I don’t have any idea of what’s happening right now.』
『A swarm of monsters will arrive here soon.』
『By swarm, how many are there』
『I don’t exactly want to count, but it’s definitely reaching the three digit mark.』
『Isn’t that… the stampede thing』
『Definitely the stampede thing.』
『Ain, what do you think』
『I was thinking that it would be fine to run away, but on the other hand, if we defeat lots of them here, we might be able to reach C-rank or so.
Returning to Sannois would probably just cause needless problems as well, so we’ll need a different place if we’re running away.』
『…… How strong is the strongest presence among them』
For some reason, it felt like Ciel was baffled just then, but I’d like to say that it’s absolutely not my fault.
Besides, I do think that Ciel somewhat understands the situation, since she’s going along with the conversation.
After all, if she thinks that it’s really dangerous, she can always retake control of her body and run away.
『It’s stronger than D-class, but should be weaker than a cyclops.
There are a lot of them on that strength level, though.』
『You’re quite calm aren’t you, Ain』
『None of them are even near to reaching ice spear levels of danger after all.
If it’s you, Ciel, it’ll probably be fine even if you fall asleep.』
『You mean if it’s Ain, right』
『It doesn’t matter much which of us it is, but the issue here is that there’s too many of these monsters.
While they’re fortunately heading towards us, it might be difficult to defeat them all without letting some of them pass through.』
Though since Carol-san is also back there at town, I don’t really think that a few stragglers would be much of a problem.
『By ‘returning to town might cause needless problems’, what exactly is that』
『Being framed for causing this stampede, I suppose
Since several people instantly come to mind when thinking about people that having a grudge on me, I’m guessing that they worked together just to set me up.
Us being followed these past months was probably so that they can get a good timing, or that so I wouldn’t escape, or other similar reasons in this case.』
『How should I say this, they’re quite persistent.
Anyway, putting them aside, Ain.
I want to dance with all I have.』
『Then in that case, I’ll sing with all my heart as well.』
There’s a chance that someone from the guild or a hunter the assigned might come here to examine the situation, but I’ll think about that when it happens.
At the very least, with my support, they shouldn’t notice that Ciel is a Dance Princess.
If they do, there’s no doubt that it would turn the value of the Dance Princess Job on its head.
But more importantly, if Ciel wants to dance, I only need to sing her a matching tune.
Aahhhhhhhhh! Never have I been so excited to read the words ‘I want to dance’ in a magic-fantasy story! The end is nigh and our princesses’ performance is about to begin! Don’t have much to talk about this week, but still~
While the stalker, poor Carol, stopped stalking some time ago, it seems like the other stalkers have finally tried their hand on our princesses! Monster Stampede time~!
Anyway, nice to see Perla and the gang going up in life.
Though Brass still managed to sneak in, sneaky boy.
Like in the previous interlude, it’s really nice to see Perla’s appreciation of Ciel, honestly she’s like a puppy, lol.
And of course, AinCiel fluff~ The spider exchange, lol.
Next week is definitely going to be pure AinCiel, yay~
For anyone wondering, yup.
Teacher is Sensei.