CHAPTER 34: PEACE, GAZE, AND TO THE STRATOSPHERE
In the past, the longest I stayed in a hotel was about a week, so it didn’t strike me as a place to settle down in.
Still, it seems like staying here in the inn for more than half a year really makes it feel like a place to return to.
While I think that it might not be a good thing, we don’t actually have any other choice right now, so I’ll just need to make do with that.
As I was thinking about that, while lying on the bed — well, Ciel’s the one actually lying down anyway — Ciel suddenly asked me a question.
「Ain, you don’t quite like to interact with the people in this town, right」
『I don’t plan on connecting with them too much.
Besides, rather than just this town, I want to limit my interactions with the people of this country as much as possible.』
「Why is that」
『Our current goal is to leave this country and that practically means that we won’t be coming back to this town.
But if we interact with the people of this country more than we need to, we might end up having second thoughts about leaving.
If we have some remaining sentiments about this country, we might end up wanting to help out when something happens.
So I do this to prevent us from feeling that way.』
Because of that, I don’t know how many years will pass before Ciel can make any friends; but considering our safety, it’s better that we leave nothing in this country.
All I can do is support her so that we can leave this country as fast as possible.
After all, as long as we quickly exit this country, we should be safe even if we interact with more people.
「Although you say that, you still get along well with some people, you know」
Hearing Ciel giggle, I ended up swallowing my words.
『I couldn’t help it.
If we don’t get along with the gatekeeper, we’ll be detained every time, and after staying at her inn for over half a year, it’s only natural to at least get along with Nilda-san.
As for Celia-san and Carol-san, they’re not from this country, so……』
「It’s alright, I understand.
I only wanted to tease Ain a bit.
I’m not so ignorant to not realise that Ain is keeping our human interactions to the minimum for my sake, you know」
It looks like Ciel got me there.
I’m not sure if this is a normal conversation for her age, but seeing Ciel being able to smile and laugh like this makes me feel happy.
Will she also say something like「You’re annoying, Ain.」in the future It might make me happy to see it as a sign of growth, but I probably won’t be able to take it. Ugh, that’s depressing.
Just imagining it is already pretty unbearable.
Is something wrong」
『No, I’m just irritated by my own over-imaginative mind.』
「Is that so Anyway, Ain, take care of me today as well.」
Ciel and I switched and our day starts again as usual.
At the dining hall, we got our breakfast from Nilda-san.
During that time, Nilda-san and I talked about normal and innocuous things and as we left the inn, she told me to be careful and avoid getting injured.
Since we’re a hunter, it’s only normal to return with at least some scratches but I’m not so rude to actually go out of my way to point that out.
In the first place, Nilda-san herself probably isn’t expecting us to return completely unscathed.
I wanted this unchanging peaceful morning to stay that way but after we exited the inn, I felt several unsavory gazes on us.
While thinking that it might be just my imagination, as I was on my way to the guild, several presences were following behind us.
When I stopped, they also stopped.
However, they didn’t do anything beyond that.
I just reached the guild like I normally do.
I guess they were just observing us.
But what for
It’s a bit eerie, so for now, I informed Ciel about it.
『It seems like some people were monitoring us.』
『You mean that they were only watching without doing anything, right』
So far they’re not showing signs of further movement.
They might be waiting for some sort of timing.
I think we’ll be alright, but please keep that in the corner of your mind.』
Although I said that, it’ll be fine as long as I stay alert.
Still, if there is something going on somewhere that I’m not aware of, no matter how much I look out for it, I probably can’t prevent it.
If I didn’t inform Ciel and something does happen, I have a hunch that it might make the situation worse in most cases, so I at least informed her about what I knew.
What’s scary is if the reason they’re not doing anything is because we’re already moving according to their plans.
Unfortunately, even if I try to think with my weak brain, nothing is still coming into mind, so we really have no choice but to just let it be.
To put it in better words, we’ll just have to adapt to the situation; but to be honest, we’re just going thoughtlessly without any plans.
Ignoring the fact that we’re being monitored for now, I randomly look around the guild while waiting for Brass-kun in the lounge area.
The hunters that I often see at the pub greet me with「Yo~」and raise their hands, so I return a wave back.
But for those that aren’t familiar with me, particularly the F and D-rank hunters, they don’t even try to make eye contact.
Since I got the 4 hunters that one time demoted, it seems like it ended up causing a rumor.
In short, it’s the common “anyone that associates with me gets demoted” sort of thing.
Thanks to that, there aren’t any more weirdos trying to mess with us, so it is pretty convenient.
As the morning rush hour ends and there are only a few hunters left, Brass-kun finally arrives.
Is this the so-called CEO’s entrance He definitely doesn’t have the capability to be a CEO, though.
If he waves his hand and shoos me off as he sees me, he’s accepting a request by himself.
If not, we’re doing it together.
Really, what does he even think I am
Since he didn’t shoo me off, we met up.
Brass-kun fetched a request form and we headed to the reception counter.
It’s a somewhat familiar scene inside the guild but at first, the other hunters would shudder from how Brass-kun acted towards me.
So that combined with the rumors of me, a rumor that maybe Brass-kun is actually strong was born, which I think ended up causing Brass-kun’s inflated ego, since he seriously believes it, to blast sky high to the stratosphere.
The request he chose without my permission — probably since he thinks that he can complete it by himself — was the one that he took with his previous party, the Goblin Leader subjugation request.
Since it’s known that the Goblin Leader can make a mob of more than 10, accepting it with only two people is pretty much the definition of reckless.
While I was thinking that Celia-san will probably allow it since I’m here, before that happened, Brass-kun suddenly began saying nonsense.
「From now on, we’ll have the rewards portioned into three.」
「What are you even talking about The guild told us to divide it equally, remember」
「Yeah, that’s why we’re talking about it with the guild.」
I was wondering why he said it at the reception counter but it seems like he has enough of a brain to consider that much.
However, this is practically just him dragging Celia-san into an accident.
Though working together with Brass-kun itself is already something like an accident to me.
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「First of all, why should we even divide the rewards by three」
「I have a little sister but she’s sick and can’t work well.
I need money to buy her medicine, so please make it three and give my sister a portion.
You already have money, don’t you Then there shouldn’t be a problem even with less of the reward, right」
So the reason why Brass-kun wants money, is for his little sister’s sake.
Hearing that, he might be a kind hardworking older brother but it definitely isn’t any sort of plus for him in this situation.
「I have a little brother that can’t move his feet because of an injury.
To treat him, I need more money than what I already have on me.
So please give me two-thirds of the request reward.」
「Don’t lie to me.」
「Exactly, it’s a lie.
However, I can say the same to you.
Even if it is true, why do I even have to cooperate with you」
「My previous party, did it.」
「Then please form a party with those people.
At the very least, your little sister is only a stranger to me.
Moreover, I haven’t even seen her.
There’s no reason for me to help, is there」
「To begin with, the Hunter’s Guild is not a charity organization, so except for certain circumstances, the guild does not allow this sort of inequality.
Therefore, whatever the reason may be, the reward will be divided equally between the two of you.
There will naturally be a penalty if the money is forcibly taken after that, so please keep this in mind.」
With Celia-san’s support, Brass-kun finally shut his mouth and glared at me.
It seems like his previous party included his little sister as a member and gave her a share of the money, but were those people some sort of saints Maybe they simply aren’t unacquainted with Brass-kun’s little sister.
For example, maybe they were a group of friends that came from the same hometown or something.
Just when it seemed like Brass-kun was silently thinking about something, he then made a smug face as though he just thought of some good idea.
「Then let’s base the reward on the contribution to the request like a hunter would.
After all, I’ll get a lot since I always beat the strongest guy.」
「Haah…… I don’t understand your “strongest guy” nonsense but I’m fine with basing the reward distribution on our contributions.
In exchange, we’ll entrust the judging to the Hunter’s Guild.
Also, I’ll be doing as I like, so remember that.」
「Umm, are you really certain about this」
Celia-san asked for Brass-kun’s confirmation but since he absolutely didn’t expect to hear that, he was caught surprised.
Then he said「Of course I am.」as a reply.
He really isn’t coming down from the stratosphere, is he I need to be careful not to turn out like this in the future.
「Then let’s go.」
Seemingly satisfied with our negotiation, Brass-kun exits the guild.
Following him, I leave the guild as well while racking my head on what we should do.
『So now what should I do then』
『Please kill the Goblin Leader instantly and then lets wait and see.』
『So we do to him what he’s been doing to us all this time then.
Is this for revenge』
『Well, sort of.』
About an hour after entering the forest, I already sensed a place where a Goblin Leader could be in.
However, I don’t plan on acting how we usually do, so I gave Ciel some instructions.
Since Brass-kun did actually gain some experience fighting against monsters, he might be able to win against a Goblin Leader.
Still, having him fight one-on-one, win, and act self-important like he always does is something I’m already quite sick of seeing.
Since we’ve decided on what to do, I ignored Brass-kun and turned my feet towards the direction of the mob’s presence.
Brass-kun said「What’s wrong with you」 but I’d like to throw those exact words back to him.
I walked for a few dozen minutes.
Detection is really easy to use but my range extended wider than I expected, so it takes time to reach a monster after finding them.
Thanks to that, I couldn’t even keep count of how many times Brass-kun cursed at me.
「There’s a mob led by a Goblin Leader over there.」
As I pointed to the place, as though it was finally his turn, Brass-kun immediately charged towards the Leader.
But before he could reach it, Ciel was quicker as she switched and attacked.
Brass-kun stood there speechless as he saw its head flying before his eyes, but does he understand that he’s standing in the middle of a goblin mob right now
「I defeated the strongest guy, so please take care of the others.」
I yelled so after having Ciel switch with me and Brass-kun finally rebooted.
Even so, he still doesn’t seem to understand what’s happening.
And while he was confused, the goblins surrounded him and began their attack.
Having lost their leader, the goblins’ attacks were clumsy but since Brass-kun isn’t used to being attacked from all sides and doesn’t know how to move around to avoid being surrounded, they’re splendidly disrupting him.
If he swings his sword, a different goblin rushes from his side, so he can’t attack as he wants.
On the goblin’s side, Brass-kun has a good reaction time, so they can’t land a fatal blow.
If he asks for help, I — or rather Ciel — intend to do so, but I guess since contribution equals reward now, he only occasionally glares at me and doesn’t do anything more than that.
Nonetheless, it’ll be troublesome if he dies, so while watching over him, I had Ciel defeat goblins one by one until Brass-kun could finally put up a good fight against them, leaving him four to fight in the end.
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By the time he defeated the four goblins, his body was fully tattered and full of wounds.
Though, compared to Alejo back then, Alejo looked a lot more close to death.
Honestly, I wanted to make him do the dismantling and disposal as well but since I have no plans on staying in the forest forever, I’ll — Ciel will — do him a favor.
While we were taking care of the disposal, he seemed to have recovered enough strength to move, so we headed back to town.
On the way back, I made sure to avoid monster encounters as much as possible and we managed to return while the sun is still high.
We went to the reception counter but Celia-san wasn’t there.
While we had the people call for her, Brass-kun was doing some thinking with his brows furrowed for some reason.
With the reward dependent on one’s contribution, Brass-kun probably won’t even get 30% of this time’s reward, so I can understand him wanting to furrow his brows.
As Celia-san arrived soon after, Brass-kun blurted「She didn’t do anything at all.」
Hiya~! We’re back again with our local bad boi, Brass! But, phew~ Ain’s pretty spicy today.
And Brass-kun’s getting pretty desperate it seems.
But first, AinCiel fluff very very welcome! Ciel really can’t help teasing Ain, lol.
And Ain is really trying to act adult in front of Ciel.
She is the more mature one here, but she’s trying really hard to be a good role model but all her spiciness just oozes out sometimes, in contrary to what she wants.
Like how she can get really mean to Carol, lol.
And here we have spicier Ain being absolutely savage to our boi Brass.
I mean, look at her lying as natural as she breathes.
Not even batting an eyelash.
And then following up with, “See this How can I know that you’re just making it up like I did” good job there.
On the brighter side, it’s really nice that Ain, in contrast to her plans, is getting along well with the bar hunters.
From the wording, it seems like many of the higher ranking hunters stay at the bar in the evening, and they seem to be unfazed by the rumors, likely because they have their own better information about AinCiel.
It’s really cute to imagine some tough big guys just going “Yo~” to a little girl.
And it seems like the other F and D rank really do at least know about rumors of AinCiel, unlike little Brass here.
Still, it seems like Brass really staying at stratosphere, lol.
Or is he