Dead into the night, I had not expected that there was still someone around in this forest. Perhaps the recent warnings had not been enough, but the [Crawlers] here had been more active as of late. 2 Silver-ranked adventurers and 4 bronze had died from it, and that was too... a rather reckless thing to hear.
Was it because they did not really trust an enigmatic adventurer like me who had only came to this city for 2 months? I thought that those guys were pretty stubborn, I thought they would already have made the announcements to stop people from entering at night.
They should be the ones responsible for lives in their own city! To not even acknowledge the strength of someone who had beaten them, they are rather xenophobic it seems.
Or rather, to sniff me out to a certain extent was also considerably amazing. After all, only a few people in this would could without seeing what's beneath this mask. How would those men react if I took them off, that this platinum-ranked was a girl the entire time? Really, men are all the same no matter where I am... Vulgar.
Well, to clean up one's own mess... or rather, because I was originally the person that reported the change in this forest, I had returned once again to collect their bodies.
That is, if they were still there. And while that was the official reason why I was here, this investigation was also a mere farce to cover my tracks.
Someone was looking for me after all.
For 3 whole years, it was. If I were to say that I wasn't worried or afraid, then I would be lying. Such a stalker-like thing, it gave me so much pressure that my stomach would act up again.
Haaah. I was already on the verge of giving up. But... I can't.
If I do, I would lose the only track I have left of her.
Just like I was aware of its movements, that thing would also keep track of mine. Just like this, I would change cities once in a while to avoid being caught----- I wonder, how many Adventurer's Tags I have now. ...8? 10? 20? Frankly, I would really like to shut those baldies up with my true rank if the opportunity shows itself next time.
Fufu... how mean-spirited, I must have racked up quite the stress to be even considering such a childish thought.
Anyway. That 3 years... that was, truly a long time. To be chased, and to chase. Those two responsibilities fell upon me for the one who survived. And also, that was too, the selfish wish of mine-----
"If I could save her", those were the words that had kept me going. Even then... it had already been 3 years. I wonder if... she's already-----
(No. What am I even thinking...)
I slapped my cheeks. She's definitely alive, I've come this far. I'll believe it.
"Nee-sama... I really want... to see you again..."
Those words trailed off even weaker as I spoke them.
But soon, my thoughts became much more quiet.
Not out of a consideration of my emotions, but a hostile change in my surroundings. With a practiced movement, I slowed down my footsteps and held my breath-----
|Blight Crawler (1,200/1,200) HP|
From the ground came a few protrusions as it bobbed about along the earth's surface. Like a pedestrian crossing, I waited for them to pass before releasing a relieved set of breathing again.
Crawlers. Rank C due to its inability to leave its given terrain. Yet without my Sword Spells, it's considerably difficult to take them on. As I am now, it's best if I let them pass without provoking them.
Unlike their life-like names, the [Blight Crawler] is a plant-type monster which moves underground. As they do not rely on vision, the crawlers have exceptional senses of hearing. That is why I had killed off any sound prematurely.
After a few minutes had passed, I judged that it was safe and continued walking.
Following the given directions that marked the locations of the tags that once belonged to the dead adventurers, I easily found the first one.
...Blood... no, there's none. Even the smell of it was gone from the decomposed corpse.
Sighing in relief, I lowered my waist and held out my palm.
I used a basic skill to remove the horrid stench, and the bones dissolved along with it, leaving just a small piece of metal on the ground. Unhurriedly, I picked the tag up and inspected it.
|Name: Leticent / Age: 26||Race: Human / Class: Nightlord|
|Birthplace: Haramark / Guild Branch: Halvan||Rank: Silver|
Originally, it was impossible for another adventurer to view the information in it, but this was possible after death, although most of its more important and functions like the [Guild Bank] had been erased. With the words in red, it was clear proof to the guild who had a copy of all adventurers' tags, that the man had died 2 days ago.
I did not feel much about this guy called "Leticent", but that was only because I had already grown used to deaths around me. In this occupation, one would get used to such things after a while.
...And blood... Mm, that's taking it a little too far. well, I'm... what you can call, a special case I guess. I don't think there will ever be the day that I can become numb to such a thing.
Fortunately, no one seems to have found out yet. I can only thank the frequent city-hopping for it, otherwise there might be some strange restrictions on me if they find out that I had such a weakness on me.
Anyway, with this tag makes six. I should head back---- or no.
I found a few strange points as I collected this tag. This was the only adventurer that had died a little strangely than the other 5.
First was the condition the corpse had been in before I cleansed it. It seemed to be in a weaker condition than the stipulated time of death allowed it to be. And of course, there was the consideration that crawlers may have a hand in this, but it was unusual for them to leave the corpse in the first place.
Crawlers consume humans whole with no exceptions, and the fact that such an exception had arisen either meant that A, a mutant species had appeared or B, something else had killed it and left the body in such a manner. The latter seems more likely to me, but it was still a little too far off my paygrade to have a say in this.
Leaving this point aside, the next strange thing was that the body was full on naked. Well, naked wasn't the right word because there were still a few shreds of cloth on it but... looted, I guess? As the advanced subclass [Nightlord], this adventurer was bound to have equipment of such a grade and yet none of it was on him.
Equipment looting was common, but those above a certain level should have been user-locked when they were equipped for the first time. I don't know this "Leticent" very well, but this is definitely quite strange. In any case, it was either another person who had taken notice of his equipment and killed him for it, or it had simply been taken by a passing person. Hmm, it's also likely that he was killed at a time when he had taken off his equipment.
In that case, I should be looking around for his campsite. Aaah, it might be a little hard to find, but if I'm right it shouldn't be too far from here.
...But before that.
The last strange point was------
As expected, those tracks I saw on the ground had been made recently, that means----!
"I swear, each and every one of these guys are suicidal----!"
No matter how stupid one gets, a life is still a life. Ah, ah... Old habits die hard. I thought with a wry smile.
"...Tch, it can't be helped----"
Time is of essence. Feeling a wave of irritation overwhelm me, I made the costly decision to use one of my sword spells.
Just one of them----
Drawing my sword, I slashed at a certain direction and a powerful gale followed, fluttering my hair in the wind.
With that, the repercussion happened from using my MP-----
At once, my stomach flared up with a mysterious, piercing pain.
"...Fuck... you better be alive, when I arrive."
I'm surely going to need a whole lot of potions for the pain to subside later. As thoughts that told me "Is this really worth it?", and "Why are you still doing this kind of useless thing" continued to attack my motivation, I closed my eyes and endured it all.
Bottling up that wretched feeling, I borrowed the flow of ｢Blade Current｣, sprinting madly towards the source of the scream.