As I came closer to the source of the scream, I began to understand the situation.
There were 10... 20 goblins circling around a steep hole in the ground. At the corner of my eye, I could also see a few of them retreating towards one of the marked goblin caves around this forest.
"...Haaah. It's a stray adventurer again, isn't it."
Feeling a little resigned, I drew closer.
"Collect item, all."
My words detained the goblins from disappearing after having their HP all fallen to 0. After dispatching them and retrieving their ears as proof along with the monster crystals in their bodies, I squatted on the ground and took a look at the hole.
I made the most plausible conclusion from the way the hole was created. And that skill... it's certainly not very high leveled judging from the uneven tunneling of the burrow. A skill scroll huh?
A ｢Burrowing｣ skill scroll, most adventurers belonging to the Base class, Nightwalker certainly would have such an item ready. A Nightwalker, if I recall... that Leticent guy was a [Nightlord] huh.
The points connected almost immediately. Controlling the speed of my descent, I jumped down the hole directly. I arrived in a rather spacious spot underground.
Without having to look around for long, my eyes eventually fell upon someone----
<Author: Pretend I had the mask drawn in>
As I approached, I noticed that it was the build of a young man. Yet, his face was hidden under a strange black mask. That mask... to protect his identity?
I felt a strange affinity for such an encounter, as my eyes were drawn to those eyes beneath the mask------
Wait, huh? That condition... Isn't he... on the verge of death?
Wh...why? Was it a fluke? Fall damage... wasn't really this heavy... was it?
Regardless, as I was panicking about the misinterpretation of the ability of this peculiar adventurer, company had arrived to interrupt me.
I drew my sword again.
"Fuu... looks like they're as fast as usual. ...Dirty goblins."
Let's clean this up quickly. If I'm too late, that guy might die from blood loss. It's best to wrap things up as fast as possible...
...Huh? I get the feeling that I'm missing something important...
...Well, whatever. Before me, I shouldn't get distracted in a fight---!
It took a little longer than I had initially expected because there were a few more [Hobgoblins] around. And in the midst, I had made a critical mistake. A sneak arrow had made its way to the one I had intended to protect.
Naturally, I was worried that the young man would have died so I glanced back a few times. It seems like he was more resilient than I had thought, but that wouldn't last either.
Hearing him mutter a few unintelligible words in an unconscious state, I picked up my pace once more and took out the final Hobgoblin before me.
When I was done, I turned to look at him again.
He had woken up some time in between. That spared me the effort to do it for him.
I approached the young man, and I was sure that he could hear my footsteps too.
What was he feeling? What is going through his mind right now... at the brink of death? I could not help but wonder about it.
His lips twitched, as if wanting to say something but was unable to make out anything. The damage wasn't much, but his body was definitely paralyzed by the arrow from earlier.
...Even so, what a bad state he's in.
I could not help but leak out a sigh.
This young man had obtained the equipment of that Nightlord. The daggers at the side of his waist, why didn't he use it? That was, obviously because it wasn't his. The unfamiliarity of a weapon that did not belong to oneself, it was definitely a factor which inhibited his ability to retaliate against mere goblins.
The conclusion was that... this guy who doesn't have any class characteristics, was definitely lower than a Level 5.
...In any case, let's treat him first.
If he doesn't have a decent level, then this skill should suffice.
I chanted the basic [Priest] spell ｢Lesser Heal｣.
It was working. His wounds were closing, but----
As expected, using a spell the second time... might be stretching it a little.
"Oi, can you move."
I called out to the young man.
But there was no reply.
Paralysis huh. Is it worth it?
...It's an exception for today.
I've come this far, and some things about this young man intrigues me. Besides, it's best to finish up the recovery process properly or the poison might drop his HP again. ...Right, this much should be fine.
Making up my mind, I held up a palm and used another Priest spell.
It hurts.... It freaking hurts....!!!!!!!!!! With the shrilling tinnitus in my ears, I bit my lips strongly as a blinding white light enveloped the cave depths.
I heard his voice for the first time, but I was still trying to stabilize myself.
"A-are you alright?"
"...Don't touch me!"
I slapped away his hand which came close to me, and I instantly regretted it.
...Ah, I shouldn't have done that, I thought.
Keeping a hand on my belly, I decided to question him instead.
"...Why are you in this kind of place."
The young man did not seem to have expected it, but I took this opening to press him harder.
"...You're wearing a mask too... suspicious, aren't you."
Rather, I was leading him on with this strange question so he would panic and ultimately reveal his true reasons for being here. Honestly, it's really suspicious that a normal person would wander off into this kind of place. He had been chased after by goblins, but I had to consider the fact that he had with some kind of unknown method, taken the locked equipment of the silver-ranked adventurer Leticent.
"Ah, uhm I..."
Yet, the young man still felt rather tongue-tied to me. I wonder if he's still under the influence of the status effect...
"...What. You still can't speak properly?"
I decided to ask just in case.
The young man remained silent no matter how much I probed him.
...Hm. Looks like he won't crack. As expected, he's hiding something.
I stared intently at him beneath my own mask, and he too, seemed to be staring at me listlessly behind his.
It's a little late and strange to say this but...two individuals with masks, it feels like we're having a sketchy rendezvous here. Since he was taking the time to observe me, I too, looked at what he had been wearing the entire time.
Those clothes... they were made rather strangely. A style I had never seen before, and yet... it's a little familiar to the eyes. I wonder why.
Well, staring at each other won't get us anywhere. It shouldn't be a lie that he doesn't seem to be a decently-leveled one, I even had the suspicion that he doesn't even have the status system and was but a normal person.
...I think I should shake him up here. Turning my back towards the young man, I pretended to leave.
"...Well you must have your circumstances. Then, I'll-"
He's taking out... something?
"This... for... saving me."
An unexpected action.
...An MP potion huh. I can't use it, you idiot.
"...Yo-you should ta-take it."
Noticing my indifference, the young man insisted as he held up the potion before me.
His actions were so simple-minded that it made me sigh.
Perhaps I was really reading too much into this, I must look like a fool. That only meant that I had become this distrustful of people after all these years, it couldn't be helped that I turned out like this. Sighing to myself, I properly apologized.
"Sorry about earlier ...I'll take it then. ...What's your name?"
I asked him.
"Eh uhm,---! ...Wh-White."
Through the stuttering, the young man called himself "White".
An instant reply huh. ...White. Mm, not a bad name.
"...Wha... what about you?"
...What? Another curveball. Is this guy doing it on purpose? Or no... I guess he's just this naive.
"... ....My name, is it."
"E-err... it-it's fine if you don't tell me, it's n-not really..."
...So indecisive! Are you even a man? ...Could it be, this guy doesn't have experience talking to people?
Somehow, I get the feeling he was such a person. A loner, who did not have much friends at all.
...Hm... I feel strange whenever I talk to this guy. Well, whatever. My name is it?
I guess... I could use her name.
"...Rien. You can call me Rien."
I noticed a sudden pause in his fidgeting, but it returned very quickly.
"I-I see. Rien-san."
...What was that? This guy is looking around again. Is he looking for traces of the goblins? Ah don't worry about it, I took them out already.
Before I could finish my words, I felt the incoming presence ahead.
...More of them huh.
The young man, White, cried out a beat late. But he did not seem to be skilled enough to notice their numbers flocking towards us.
He was saying something to me, but my concentration was kept at counting how many there were this time. Goblins were sneaky in their own ways, and if I missed even one... it might not pose a threat for me, but it might be plenty dangerous for the burden behind me.
"----You. Don't dawdle around anymore and stay behind me. We've got more company."
Seems like I have to handle this one more carefully.