I froze up out of sheer surprise. Up until now no one has ever shown up around here. For the last two years I ran across this mountain forest as I pleased and tested out all kinds of things, but I never met anyone else during all that time!?
The guy who had appeared now felt like he had the same age or was a bit younger than that man. My first impression of him was: 『My-Pace-Traveler』. He doesn’t look like a mountain hunter at all. Then again, I don’t know anything about the hunters of this world. 1
His pretty white hair color has turned into a dull creamy, probably because he hasn’t washed it for some time. The color of his pupils is light green…jade with a cyan bordering, I’d say.
We scrutinized each other cautiously.
“…You a child? What you doin’ here?”
That’s what he asks me. But, you’re the last person I want to hear this from!
I breathed out, and answered his questions with my own questions, “That is my line. You are on private land. Did you obtain permission from the owner of this estate? Or are you somehow related to the owner?”
After becoming puzzled for a moment, he breaks out in laughter.
“…Sorry. I see. Didn’t know this was private land. I’ve got nothing to do with the owner here. Or to be precise, I’ve got no clue who owns this place in the first place. …Seeing how you’re bringin’ up such lines, you the owner’s kid?”
“…Hmm, I suppose you could say I am connected to him in some way.”
I was uncertain whether I should answer, but since I wanted to know the reason for this guy showing up here, I confirmed while keeping it ambiguous.
“Hmm. …… Oh well, whatever.” Muttering that, he surveyed the vicinity.
I got tired of waiting as he didn’t show any signs of leaving, and lowered the level of my wariness.
“…To begin with, why have you shown up here? This mountain forest has no beautiful scenery to offer, nor an abundance of food, you know?”
That’s why, shoo, shoo.
I didn’t say the last line out loud, and probably because of that, it didn’t get through to him.
“Ain’t like I came here for such a reason. …How to say it? Ah, it’s probably the same as you.”
Eh? As me?
“In other words, you’re saying you’ve got some kind of connection with my household after all?”
“Nah, not that. …Just thought this a great place for trainin’, so I came.”
As I’ve become speechless, he grinned at me.
“You’re training ’round here as well, aren’t you?”
“No, it’s just that I don’t have any other place where I could train. If I did it somewhere else, I’d definitely get in trouble, resulting in me getting scolded. Besides, I’d become unable to ever do it again, too.”
Once I denied that part, he looked flabbergasted.
“…Ah, that so?”
“…I’m sorry to hear that. …Oh, that’s why connected, huh? I see.”
He reached some kind of conclusion. Anyway, shoo, shoo.
“The name’s Sword. Adventurer.”
He started to introduce himself all of a sudden. Dude, I got it, so get lost.
“…Uwaah, your lookin’ as if you don’t give a damn. But listen. Adventurers are folk who’s makin’ a living by goin’ on adventures. ‘Course just goin’ on adventures won’t turn into cash, so they gotta do requests and such. Most of those requests heavily rely on your body.”
Hoh, that got me slightly interested. Adventurer; one of the key elements of any standard fantasy story.
“Oh? Drew your interest? So you see, as it involves lots of physical labor, it’s necessary to train during your free time.”
“I understand what you want to say. And that’s why you found this place, right?”
“My trainin’ is somewhat special. Just when I had chosen a deserted place that looked like it’d allow me to go a bit ballistic, I found you.”
Certainly this area meets his conditions, but…I’d like him to not show up as he pleases just because of that.
“So, if you could stay silent and overlook me, I’ll practice with you, ‘kay? Trainin’ in such a place all by yourself, and havin’ to stop and gettin’ scolded when found out means you’ve got no trainin’ partner, right?”
…I silently gazed at his face for a while.
In case he’s a criminal…well, it wouldn’t really matter to me anyway. After all, I’ve hardly ever talked with other people during the last two years, and I didn’t learn any information about this world either. I’m fully aware that I’m a sheltered young lady.
As an adventurer, he probably knows quite a bit. Though it’s possibly biased information
“I understand. Nice to meet you then.”
“Youngster, what’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you too, Indra.”
When he held out his hand, I hesitated for a moment, but then shook it. His eyebrow twitched at that, but immediately following, a fishy smile formed on his lips.
――Sword told her that he’d go back for the moment and come back tomorrow, leaving through the mountain forest. And then he headed straight for town at a surprisingly quick pace. Reaching his destination, a building with a signboard that had 【Adventurer Guild】 written on it, he opened the door.
“Hey, call the GuilMas.” He yelled carefreely, immediately after entering.
In response, a man in his mid-thirties appeared, and invited him to his office with the words, “I’m here. I’ll listen to you inside.”
“…Did you finish your investigation already? You coming here empty-handed means that you didn’t find any monsters?”
Sword nodded, “Yeah, just found a cute youth over there.”
The guild master furrowed his eyebrows.
“No presence of monsters throughout the mountain forest. The only one clad in an absurd amount of magic elements was that youngster. For a sec, I thought he might be dangerous, but 『Who are you?』 was clearly written all over his face. Since it’d be bad if I were to cut down someone by mistake, I talked to him, and found out that it was a good call to not cut him down.”
The guild master stared at Sword quizzically, “…But, is he really human? I don’t know any youngsters who would make the S-Rank adventurer 【Thunderclap Whitefang】 falter, you know?”
“No clue. World’s a big place. I mean adults also flinched away from me when I was still a brat.” Sword shrugged his shoulders. “He told me that this place was off-limits for outsiders as it was private land. …That true?”
The guild master revealed a bitter expression, and nodded reluctantly.
“Hey, hey, just a sec, you sent me into such a place!?”
Since a tinge of anger oozed out of Sword’s voice, the guild master started to explain in a hurry, “That’s the very reason why I asked you! I heard about unusual phenomena taking place on the mountain owned by a noble lord. Moreover, not only was the cause a mystery, but no damages had occurred either, so there was no way that I could have put up a request for 『Normal Adventurers』, right!? Not to mention that not just the adventurers, but even the guild would have been in danger if the noble was the cause behind it all! I knew that you’d be able to finish this mission in secret without being found out and somehow deal with the noble in the worst case, which is the very reason why I asked you!”
“…Wait, wait, the owner bein’ a noble is news to me!”
Sword clicked his tongue.
“So, there’s somethin’ I wanna ask. Know anyone with the name 『Indra』?”
The guild master froze.
“…I know that name, but…”
“…But what? For you to react like that…what kind of person is that Indra?”
“…Based on your story, that youth must have introduced himself with that name… You see, Indra Springcoat is the first daughter of Earl Springcoat, the owner of that land.”
Sword froze as well.
Say what you like, it can’t be him, Sword assessed, That youngster is well beyond tomboy levels. He wore dirty work clothes, and his hair was cut messily short. Totally unbecomin’ for a young lady. It’d be a stretch to regard him as a noble’s son, let alone a young lady.
Thought he must be a servant workin’ at the mansion who slipped out for trainin’, and it seems to be just like that. He probably used the name of the mansion’s young lady on the spur of the moment when I asked for the name, Sword concluded.
“Okay, I got the gist o’ it. He piqued my interest, so I’ll go investigate the details tomorrow. …To see if that 『Missy』 is the cause of it all.”
With those words, Sword stood up and left the room.
- The term マタギ (matagi) for “mountain hunter” used by the author refers to people who perform group hunts. They use an ancient way of walking and are mostly active in the mountainous areas of Japan. Since I want to keep JP loanwords out of this novel if they’re not somewhat known in Western spheres, I changed it.