|Author: Himezaki Shiu||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: PunishedLyly||English Source: Re:Library|
「Ain, Ain! That’s a town, right?」
As we travelled on a road wide enough for two wagons to pass each other, Ciel called my name in excitement. In the direction she pointed was a wall, built as though to block the path. Beyond that, sitting on a hill, I could see a not-so-large rampart and a castle. Further beyond that, there seemed to be a mountain. I didn’t know the standards of this world, but it didn’t seem to be a large town.
『It’s my first time seeing this kind of town, but yes, it should be a town.』
「But considering that, I don’t see any people nearby. I wonder why?」
『I can’t feel any human-like responses with detection as well. Though, there are still some small animals and monsters here and there.』
「So does this perhaps mean that this town isn’t quite big?」
『That’s right. At the very least, they don’t have much traffic here for sure.』
In my mind, I had imagined that a town would have a long line of people at the gates and that it would take hours just to enter. However, it seemed that this only happened in large towns. I believed that being bothered by someone while waiting in line was a common cliche, but it didn’t seem like it was going to happen here. Not being bothered was good and all, but I wanted to gather some information before entering the town. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like I could do any data gathering. Seeing that there weren’t any people around, even as the town was in sight, Ciel showed a complicated look of relief and disappointment.
「Well, that’s good too, perhaps?」
『As I thought, is meeting men bothering you?』
「Eh, well… Yeah.」
『If you’d like, we can also switch now, okay?』
「There still aren’t any people, right? Then it’s fine.」
『I want to confirm this in advance but if you ever need to fight in front of people, will you be alright Ciel?』
Ciel being bad with men couldn’t be helped, but at that moment, I didn’t know how much it affected her. In our normal everyday life, I could just take her place when needed; but if my expectations were true and we got dragged into trouble, we might have had no choice but to fight against men. At that time, it would have been much better if Ciel was the one fighting; or rather, if I did it, I probably wouldn’t have lost but I wouldn’t have won either.
However, I believed that Ciel could win. So far, objectively speaking, the only data I had was that we were strong enough to overpower the one-eyed giant, but I suspected that it meant we were pretty strong. After all, the one-eyed giant was strong enough to easily mow through the pig man’s escorts and those same escorts had consistently defeated every monster before encountering the one-eyed giant. At the very least, it was safe to assume that they were about middle class in strength. Still, there was also a possibility that the escorts were actually really weak and the one-eyed giant could be defeated by anyone with some understanding of combat.
「I’ll be fine. In the first place, as long as I’m with Ain, there’s nothing to be afraid of. If that wasn’t the case, then I would have no other choice but to tremble in fear when facing that man, you know?」
『That may be true, but please tell me if it gets difficult for you, alright?』
As Ciel had said, she was undaunted even when facing the most traumatizing Duke Respelgia. However, I believed that even if she could endure it, it might mean that she wouldn’t feel at ease. In that respect, I’ll just see how it goes, I guess. After all, it was Ciel’s life, so it wouldn’t have been good if I interfered too much.
『I didn’t notice it when seeing it from afar but the wall is this large, huh. I wonder how many times taller this is compared to me. And it continues reaching so far away, right?』
『I assume that the wall is for protecting the town from monsters, so it’s likely that it surrounds the town.』
『So in other words, the whole town continues that far beyond, right? Amazing, that’s amazing!』
Ciel got excited in a voice only I could hear, but it was quite heartwarming. Considering that we were going to enter the town, there was a risk that people would view Ciel as a suspicious individual if she frequently talked to herself; so we tried to have a conversation without Ciel speaking out loud and it was surprisingly easily done.
And with that said, we finally neared the wall. While it wasn’t a long queue, there was still a line to enter the town, so I switched with Ciel and we were currently at the end of the line. When lining up, a few people stared at us, but that was inevitable.
The clothes of the people there were, as expected, different from those in Japan. A lot of them were made of durable-looking thick cloth and had simple designs. Men wore a plain, long-sleeved t-shirt and pants underneath a cloak. Women wore a simple dress and a vest, maybe for fashion, I guess? Other than that, there were some people wearing tough-looking boots, hats, and other accessories as well.
It was only my assumption, but the former seemed to be people coming from a nearby town and the latter were probably travelers or people coming from far away.
Among them, I was absolutely out of place. First of all, everyone was clearly taller than me. Even when compared to the shortest person I could see, I probably looked like a child. And regarding the clothes, they clearly didn’t fit my size, so again I stood out.
Fortunately, there were a lot of people covering their hair, so I didn’t stand out in that respect.
Right then, people who were good at communicating would probably talk with the person in front of them. Most importantly, they would be keen on gathering information from other people, but unfortunately, my communication level was zero.
When I was still alive, I had at least socialized with other people, so I wanted to believe that I wasn’t completely hopeless. However, it wasn’t like I frequently went out and had many friends, so I only socialized enough that it wouldn’t bother me in everyday life. Most of all, I had a big blank period of 10 years.
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Well, I couldn’t keep running away from this, so I decided to try talking to the gatekeepers. I figured they probably wouldn’t just let us in without some sort of verification or questioning. As I was thinking about this, it seemed like it was almost my turn.
The gate was a common swinging type but from its size, it seemed to need multiple people just to open and close it. Maybe it was equipped with something to open and close it automatically.
On both sides of the gate, there were pairs of gatekeepers standing on guard, with one of them interacting with people and the other watching over them. Additionally, there might have been a lookout inside the gate, as the detection picked up ten-odd people standing by.
If there were any problems, they would likely have taken them to an office-like place that I could see peeking beyond the door.
「Next.」 I was shortly called, and it was my turn now. One of the gatekeepers, who was about 30 years old, wore only the bare minimum armor, and the other wore a complete set that made his face hard to see. Together, my first impression of them reminded me of neighborhood blue-collar workers, I suppose.
When the gatekeeper saw me, he opened his eyes wide in surprise and then scratched his head with a seemingly troubled look.
「Boy… No, little miss? Being here means that you want to enter the town of Sannois, right? Where are your parents?」
「I came here alone. My parents are… Umm…」
I intentionally muddled my words. Even if I had told him the truth, he wouldn’t have believed me. Moreover, there was a risk of him handing us over to Duke Respelgia. I thought of a cover story in advance, but it was even better if people made their own misunderstandings. If they did that, then even if what we said felt forced, they might interpret it in their own way to convince themselves.
The gatekeeper crossed his arms and went into a thinking pose, then he said to the other gatekeeper behind him, 「Call for the next shift.」 The armored person nodded silently and went inside the door I had been looking at before.
The remaining gatekeeper took a deep breath, as though he was trying to hide a sigh, and continued our conversation.
「I’m sorry to say this little miss, but right now I can’t let you through. Do you understand why?」
「Because I need money?」
「There’s that too. Also, we need to check if it’s okay to let you inside. So for that, I want to have a talk for a bit, but we can’t really talk here for long, you see? So let’s go talk inside.」
「Can I get in after that?」
「If there isn’t any problem with you, little miss. But if there is… Aghh… What do we do…」
Likely having tanned brown skin from his work as a gatekeeper, the tone of his voice gradually became weaker as he muttered. It seemed that he didn’t seem to be a bad person, which was a relief. It looked like not all people were like Duke Rispelgia, the mask-faced butler, and the pig man. In this case, the day I could leave this to Ciel might not be too far off.
The armored person came back with two more armored individuals, so we stopped talking and went through the door as they took our place.Beyond the door, there was a hallway with some doors on the right. They brought me to a somewhat simple room with a table and a chair. Since the room was generally made from stone, it gave a cold impression.
The man told me to stay in the room and went outside. The window used for letting sunlight in the room was in a high location and with my height, I couldn’t look at what was beyond it. In that situation, I wondered how children of Ciel’s age would react. Would they get scared after being overwhelmed by the atmosphere, or would their curiosity show through?
『Which will it be?』
『I can’t choose if you don’t give me a choice, you know?』
When I had asked Ciel, she had replied with a reasonable answer. So, I asked her how she would react and she had answered confidently, 『No reaction.』
『I do understand that he’s different from the people we’ve encountered so far. But, I don’t know how I should talk to him. For that reason, I think I won’t react and avoid talking as much as possible. So, what you’re doing really helps, Ain.』
『Just hypothetically speaking, being locked up here is still a possibility, so I don’t really know if I’m doing this right.』
『When that happens, let’s just run away with all our strength.』
Ciel suggested it gleefully, but I had to do my best to prevent it from happening. If it did happen, there might have been some casualties, and causing a ruckus could have led to them calling for someone stronger than us. Most importantly, there was a possibility that the mister gatekeeper was even stronger than us.
After a while, he returned and brought a lady with him. She appeared to be an office worker, neatly dressed and about 20 years old. She exuded a strong-willed demeanor and her gaze felt like it was piercing through me, making me uneasy. She held a pen-like object in one hand and a board-like object in the other, indicating that she might be a secretary.
「For now, take a seat.」
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As the mister said that, I sat on the chair facing his seat. The mister sat in between me and the exit, and the lady stood diagonally behind him. The reason the lady was brought was probably in consideration for me, since I am, well, a girl. There weren’t really any introductions from them and the inquiry began.
「Little miss, what’s your name?」
「Little miss, where have you been up until now?」
「Inside the forest. Deep in the forest, I lived with mom and dad. And then… Ummm…」
「Stop, you don’t need to say any more than that.」
Seeing the mister shake his head, I thought about how being a girl was extremely convenient in these kinds of situations, for real. If I had been an adult male, it likely wouldn’t have gone this smoothly. Still, if I had been an adult male, I probably wouldn’t have been brought here in the first place; I would have just been asked to pay the toll fee and allowed to pass through. The reason I had introduced myself as Cielmer was not only because it was Ciel’s body, but it was also connected to what we were planning to do once we entered the town.
「But still… Except for rare cases, it’s not allowed to let kids with no Job yet enter town, you see…」
「I’m already 10 years old, you know?」
It seemed like they had misjudged my age, so I honestly told the truth. His eyes blinked in surprise, and he asked me again, 「Really?」 I thought that everybody here seemed tall, but it was likely that they were like the Europeans on Earth. I assumed that Ciel was also the same, but no matter how you looked at it, she didn’t have enough nutrition, so it was likely that her development was slow. Recovering from his surprise, the mister showed a somewhat relieved look. It seemed like our chances of getting inside had just gotten higher.
「Can I get in if I’m 10 years old?」
「Well it’s not that 10-year-old kids are allowed to randomly pass through, but it’s a lot easier than if you were 9 and below.」
「Then, can I go?」
「I’d really like to let you, but not yet. What can you do, little miss? I’ll be frank, I’m going to be bothered if you can’t do anything and just became a pickpocket once you get into town.」
「What can you do?」 Behind those words, I could vaguely sense his intention to ask about my job, but I had no intention of answering truthfully at this moment. If I had no other choice, I would say that I was a Song Princess, but now was not the time for that.
「I can defeat monsters.」
「Well considering that you lived deep inside a forest, that makes sense. So then you’re aiming to be a Hunter, right?」
「Are Hunters people defeating monsters for a living?」
「Defeating monsters is what they mainly do, but I hear that low ranked hunters can do requests like what errands kids do. If you really can defeat a monster, then you’d probably get out of the lower ranks immediately but…」
The mister stopped talking mid-sentence and stole glances at me as though he was asking for something. I didn’t really feel happy with a middle-aged man giving me that kind of look, but since I knew what he was trying to say, I decided to take out the spider’s magic stone.
I planned on thinking about what I should do with the one-eyed giant’s magic stone after seeing how he would react to this one.
As I placed this magic stone, that I could barely carry in one hand, on the top of the table, he was surprised once again and let out a 「Hah?」
「Is this something really rare to see?」
「No,it’s not really that rare. Instead, it’s really common to find. But not 10-year-old kids bringing this. At the very least, this is beyond the level of a novice hunter. Which shows just how good the Job is.」
「Since it depends on the Job, is it really that surprising?」
After answering my question, the mister began talking almost in a monologue. I continued to ask him more questions for the sake of gathering data. It seemed like he had become more talkative, possibly because he was talking to a young girl. I wondered if it was really okay for a gatekeeper to be so chatty. Maybe he was only sharing this information because it was general knowledge, but for me, it was really a lifesaver.
「Usually it takes a few years to learn how to use your Job’s power. I don’t really know the details, but I hear that even hunters take at least two years before they can hunt monsters.」
「Can you be a hunter when you’re 10 years old?」
「If it’s just becoming one, you can. As long as you’re 10 years old, your Job doesn’t matter. But being able to live as a hunter is another story.」
「So I’ve found a way to work now.」
「Yeah, that’s right. It should be fine to let you enter the town. The toll fee is 2 large silver coins, but can you pay? If you have a certificate, then you can enter for free but you don’t have one, right?」
「I don’t have one. If I become a hunter, do I need to pay to get in the town?」
While continuing the conversation, I felt the money inside the pouch. The pouch contained both gold and silver coins, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find any large silver coins. The money I had consisted of gold coins and regular-sized silver coins, with each type of coin having a uniform size within their respective groups. Considering that the previous owner seemed to be quite wealthy, what I thought to be regular silver coins might actually be large silver coins, but I couldn’t be sure.
「Hunters can enter freely as long as they show their card.」 The mister explained. Taking his words into account, I took out a gold coin from the pouch and placed it on the desk.
「Is this okay?」
「I’m not going to be surprised anymore, but a gold coin even came out. Alta, do you have 8 large silver?」
「Yes. I prepared some just in case.」
The lady, Alta, who had been silently taking down notes of our conversation since she entered the room, spoke her first words. Her voice had a professional tone, and it was hard to read her emotions from it. She seemed to be experienced in her role. I also learned that 1 gold coin is worth 10 large silver coins.
「Well then, sorry for keeping you here, little miss.」
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After finishing the transaction, it felt like our conversation was ending, so I called out in a slightly loud voice to show that I still had something I wanted to talk about.
Sorry about this, mister, but I wanted to gather as much information as I could while I have the chance.
「What is it?」
「How much do I need to stay in an inn in this town?」
「Generally 2 silver coins, I guess. A better place would probably cost more, though. But you can stay for about 40 days with what you have, so don’t worry about it.」
80 silver coins made 8 large silver coins, so this meant that 10 silver coins made 1 large silver coin. I was glad that it was easy to remember. Rather, it was likely designed that way for easy calculation. Additionally, there seemed to be no doubt that the silver coins I had were the large silver coins. In that case, I supposed that we wouldn’t be worrying about money for quite a long time. So, I was relieved about our financial situation.
「Also, where do you become a hunter?」
「Go straight after passing through the gate and what you’ll run into is the big building where hunters are gathered. The Hunter’s Guild, commonly known as just the Guild. Maybe I should even write you a letter of introduction. After all, they might immediately turn you away, little miss.」
Saying so, mister took a sheet of paper from Alta and started writing something. The letter of introduction honestly helped. After all, if people didn’t recognize me as a 10-year-old, not only could I not be a hunter, but I probably wouldn’t be able to work at all. I had asked most of what I needed to hear, so I made the next question my last one and asked about other things at the Hunter’s Guild.
「In this town, will people be mean to the color of someone’s hair?」
「Oh, your hair, huh. It’s true that it’s rare to have hair that white, but I don’t think that will happen.」
「Um… did you notice it before?」
「It looked like you wanted to keep it hidden so I didn’t talk about it, but despite how I look, I have been a gatekeeper for a long time. Well, it does stand out so it’s best that you take care. There are hunters that are bad people too, okay?」
「Yes, I’ll be careful. Thank you very much for the advice.」
While I was at it, I felt sorry for doubting the gatekeeper’s capability in my mind. After finishing our conversation, I was led outside and we parted ways. As we said our goodbyes, he told me, 「If something happens, feel free to visit!」 He really was a good person. In any case, I managed to enter the town without any problems, so I decided to head to the Guild first.
Heya! It’s me, Lyly! From now on, I’m back in schedule so see you again next week!
I don’t have much to say here anymore, so that’s that!