CHAPTER 61: NORVELL, THE HAIRPIN, AND THE BOY
As we were heading north, we were walking along a curved path, so we’re not necessarily facing the north at all times.
Still, there’s only one path.
We shouldn’t end up getting lost.
Along the way, we had several combat encounters with wolves that are likely to be forest wolves.
Whether it can be better described as combat or slaughter might be different from person to person, but as for us, it was a great opportunity to practice using the sword, so that turned out pretty good.
Since Ciel would have a tough time fighting a wolf on her own, this was good for training.
Though, the fact that we blasted away wolves that appeared in packs so that only one of them would be left should be out of the question.
As a result, there were quite a few wolves we couldn’t harvest magic cores from.
For a while, the surroundings were unchanging as we continued on but just a few moments ago, we’ve started seeing what might be a wheat field.
Still, it seemed that the harvest season had already passed since the field was deserted with only exposed soil remaining.
As we continued walking on the path through the empty field, Ciel stared at the horizon and spoke to me.
「The town is finally in sight.」
『Fortunately, it looks like we should be able to reach it within a day.』
「At this point, I don’t think the difference of a day or two would cause any major issues though.」
『The sleeping bag is already good enough after all.』
It has been about 30 days since we left the capital, I think.
I didn’t count the exact days, so I can’t be sure.
While we dropped by a few villages to replenish food and complete some requests along the way, we generally just camped out.
Knowing the discomfort of sleeping on a stone bed, Ciel can sleep outside comfortably as long as she has a sleeping bag.
I couldn’t even keep count of how many wolves attempted to attack Ciel in her sleep and ended up giving up.
The sleeping bag was so comfortable that immediately after Ciel got used to it, she ended up staying asleep until late afternoon.
Though, as expected, Ciel is now more wary and makes sure to wake up in the morning.
And so, our outdoors lifestyle ends today.
A town surrounded by a sturdy-looking gray wall, which was perhaps built because they’re right next to a forest filled with monsters, is now only a short distance away from us.
Norvell, a town neighbouring the forest at the foot of the mountain range north of the kingdom of Estoque, and the town we’ve reached on this very day.
As the forest in question is a place where monsters spawn, it can be said that Norvell is constantly under the threat of monster attacks.
For that reason, while it’s not as large as the royal capital, the town’s walls look absurdly tough.
This toughness seemed to be only for use against monsters as we were able to enter the town without any particular questioning.
Though perhaps this was because the guard trusted the authenticity of the Hunter Card we used for identification.
As we were walking along the town streets, there were hunters carrying weapons with them, which I suppose is also telling of how frequently monsters attack the town.
And considering how the people around don’t seem to mind the sounds of squabbling mixed in with the loud customer calling from the food stalls, I guess this town is, in some sense, a hunter-friendly town.
Since the area where hunters gather and the area where civilians are is sorted out, this town’s tolerance level might be higher than that of other towns as well.
Though with that said, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be friendly for a C-rank hunter like us.
Fortunately, people still don’t know that Ciel’s a hunter, so we’re only catching people’s curiosity.
Still, there’s no telling how many people would start messing with us the moment they learn that Ciel’s a hunter.
Once they do, they’ll probably get beaten up though, by Ciel that is.
Anyhow, it’s nothing to be concerned about right now, so Ciel searched for an inn.
Considering how Ciel asked for information about the inn as she bought wolf skewers from a stall, I think she’s really gotten used to people now.
While consulting with her stomach, Ciel bought some food from several different stalls and gathered information about the town inns.
We then decided to get a room from the inn whose name was brought up the most from among the inns we were told about.
『Come to think of it, the hairpin showed no signs of slipping off at all, didn’t it
Since you were swinging the sword around, I honestly thought that it might fall off.』
「Now that you mention it, it really didn’t.」
While we were lying on the bed of the room we just occupied, this thought suddenly came to mind and as I said that, Ciel touched the hairpin before giving her agreement.
She doesn’t sound to be particularly interested about it; rather, her reply was quite curt and it’s somewhat concerning.
What if she grows up without having any interest in fashion… is a rather self-serving concern of mine, so I’ll just keep it to myself.
Looking back on my past memories, I think that having some interest in fashion regardless of your gender works to one’s advantage.
Still, is 12 years old too early to be concerned about accessories
Well for now, I’ll just try recommending Ciel things that might suit her without forcing things on her.
I just hope that my fashion sense doesn’t end up being catastrophic when that happens.
『Does the hairpin still turn back into a flower』
「It seems like it.
Ain, you said that it’s absorbing magic power from you, right 」
『It does but not to the point that it bothers me, not at all.』
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As Ciel reached out for the hairpin, it stopped being an ornament and sat on Ciel’s hand as a transparent flower.
It honestly only takes a small amount of my magic power.
Still, I can’t say for sure if the same can be said for other people.
Even I am aware of how abnormal my magic power capacity is after all.
I’ve expanded it with what’s practically a loophole abuse for five whole years, so there’s no way that I’d have the same capacity as other people.
In addition, magic power continuously increases with age and I can definitely feel that mine has increased from two years ago.
While it does only take a small amount, it had been constantly absorbing magic power from me, a beast of magic power, so it had likely absorbed an awfully great amount in total.
「It’s nice how I can just leave it on my hair but what is this really」
『I can’t feel any malicious intent from it too; and, in the first place, it doesn’t even seem alive most of the time as well.』
If it is alive, I hope it does something for us in proportion to the magic power it had been absorbing so far; but it’s mostly inorganic, particularly since it’s generally in hairpin form.
「In that case, perhaps it’s some kind of magic item」
『That seems highly possible.
Magic bags do exist after all, so it won’t be surprising for hairpins that attach themselves on their own to exist as well.』
I don’t know much about magic item construction, so I actually have no idea if something like that can be made, but I don’t think it’s impossible at least.
But in that case, that still doesn’t explain why this was in the middle of a forest and why it was in the form of a flower.
『As they say, leave the monsters to hunters.
So with that in mind, we could ask an accessory shop about this but……』
「We’re going to stand out if this ends up being something valuable or particularly unusual, right」
『Us standing out is inevitable but I’d like us to avoid standing out in that manner for now.』
After all, Ciel already stands out for being a C-rank hunter at her age, so standing out is unavoidable the higher she goes.
Even with the towns we’ve visited up until now, while I wouldn’t say that we were conspicuous in a negative way, there’s no doubt that the Hunter Guild people would make sure to remember a hunter that has been completing their unaccepted requests.
However, standing out like that is still better, standing out because of an unusual possession would get us targeted.
Particularly in Ciel’s case, her appearance has a tendency to attract the scoundrel type.
I can already imagine them pestering us as we walk the streets.
「Ain doesn’t feel anything bad from it, right」
I don’t feel any sort of ill will from it.』
「In that case, we could delay the confirmation of what this is until we’re out of this country… right」
『That sounds good.』
Ciel put the flower back on her hair.
We have a bigger magic bag now, so there’s no particular need to wear it; but since wearing it would be more girly of her, I decided to keep this to myself.
The next day, we headed to the Hunter Guild around the end of the morning peak time.
This peak time doesn’t particularly change much from town to town.
Due to the nature of their work, going to the guild at a later time would decrease a hunter’s active working hours and affect their earnings.
While people can drink and party at night, not many can go out the town gates at night with all the monsters roaming around.
While there are requests that could span across a few days, hunters still make sure to act in a way that will lessen the nights they’ll need to stay outside the gates.
We’re probably one of the only ones that leave the town in a hurry in the afternoon and return the next day after camping out.
As for our plans for today, we’ll be gathering information at the Hunter Guild and accept some requests if there are ones that suit us.
Speaking of info gathering; we usually do it in the pub but since the information we need this time concerns the forests as well as the mountain range north of Norvell, in other words, the places the hunters of this guild mainly go to, we decided that it’ll be better to ask at the guild.
Besides, we’re only a short distance from the ocean now, so if there aren’t any suitable requests, we could just replenish our supplies here at Norvell and leave.
I suppose I can say that that’s another reason we’re taking a break from the pub where we might get hounded on by people.
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The Hunter Guild of the town of Norvell is rustic and made of stone.
While it’s small in comparison to the royal capital’s guild, it’s still larger and sturdier-looking than those in other towns.
Considering my image of the Hunter Guild, this fits more than that of the guild in the royal capital.
Ciel gently opened the door and, after confirming that there’s only a few people inside, entered the building.
While it’s not as if there are zero hunters, there’s only a few looking at the request board right now.
Ciel headed to the open counter and began gathering information from the young—in comparison to my age when I was alive—female receptionist.
To summarize what we heard from the receptionist: first of all, there’s a lot of beast-type monsters in the northern forest.
Including the wolves, there are also deers and boars.
Besides these, there are horned rabbits which are monsters that even low rank hunters can hunt.
As for the current state of affairs here, we’ve been told that low-ranked monsters have been appearing increasingly lately, likely escaping from the forest as the number of wolves have been increasing.
And since the wolves naturally come out to hunt for them, it’s money making time for the hunters.
We were told that passing over the mountain range would be difficult unless you’re a high-ranking hunter and that practically nobody would go to the ocean on their own accord.
She probably didn’t expect an exception to that to be right in front of her, but from what I can tell, there shouldn’t be any monsters that can break through my barrier.
In other words, there would be no problems at all.
As the conversation ended, Ciel was also told not to fight because it’s dangerous but we’re already used to being told that.
I’m sure that she thought that Ciel was a newbie that just asked out of curiosity.
Getting back on focus, we decided to check the available requests on the request board.
As the receptionist said, there are a lot of subjugation requests all across the board, from high rank to low rank.
If we present the wolves we’ve hunted along the way, we can probably complete a lot of requests at once.
From how the receptionist acted earlier, it’ll probably start an argument.』
Ciel asked with less than ideal words, but I understand what she wanted to say.
She’s probably asking if we can accept wolf-related requests to get rid of the wolves taking space in our magic bag.
While we didn’t bring wolf materials that would spoil, they are still a nuisance to be honest.
『But we might still start an argument if we bring any other C-rank request to that receptionist, won’t we』
『We could also do just nothing for today and leave town tomorrow, but there’s no specified timeframe for the subjugation requests, right
We could hunt for random monsters on the way back after seeing the ocean and it’s more efficient that way, but…..』
In the middle of our conversation, someone came approaching us.
It doesn’t seem to be someone that was inside the guild up until now, so it appears that it’s someone that came from outside and the person’s stride is as unsteady as a drunkard’s.
From the fact that this person’s going straight for us after going through the door meant that the guy likely already locked on to Ciel, so even if I alert her, we probably can’t avoid an encounter.
This person probably saw us by chance upon entrance.
This is the worst.
With visual confirmation just to be sure, it seems to be a boy in his teens and his face is somewhat red.
Hearing that, Ciel turned to the boy’s direction but she then returned her gaze to the request board as if nothing ever happened.
『Since it can’t be helped, I’ll accept a few C-rank subjugation requests.』
It shouldn’t be any problem for you Ciel.』
While I considered giving up the requests to avoid needless trouble, since there’s already trouble coming for us either way, it’ll be better to just go with the requests instead.
After all, we’re going to need to prove that we’re C-rank soon anyway.
After that happens, we won’t get into an argument for accepting a C-rank request.
With our course of action decided, Ciel peeled off several requests off the board and brought them to the reception counter.
Naturally while completely ignoring the boy.
I imagined that he would immediately flare up with that, but I guess he was more astonished than anything as he simply saw Ciel off without saying anything.
He immediately came to his senses; and incidentally sobered up, it seems; and reached out for Ciel.
I’ve learned from our interaction with Viviana-san that being grabbed is dangerous, 『Ciel.』 so I called Ciel’s attention.
Still, even if he does grab us, I don’t think he can do anything beyond that.
Hearing my voice, Ciel swiftly turned around and gracefully put distance between them.
The boy’s overstretched arm catches nothing but the air and the hunters around us broke out into laughter.
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The boy’s face turned red, this time not from intoxication but rather from either anger or humiliation, and he then snappily pointed at Ciel.
「You’re a newcomer, aren’t you I’ll make you my woman.」
And so he declared.
Heya~! Happy New Year Everybody!!! New year, new arc, new… villain Or rather, nuisance Anyhow~ Welcome to the town of Norvell!
Leaving the royal capital, our princesses find themselves in the town of Norvell which seems to be their final stop before seeing the ocean.
Today’s chapter was more on the world building side, but I liked how Ciel has been the one talking to people so far.
Other than that, our attention what briefly brought back to the mysterious hairpin/transparent flower.
What is it really And why is it absorbing magic power Back to the story, the upcoming stampede seems to be affecting the ecosystem so far… I think Also, we have a drunken boy suddenly picking up Ciel, uh-oh…
Still, the ocean is only some distance away, so hopefully our princesses don’t get into trouble…… get into more trouble than they currently are in until then.