“Ara, you came”
At the interior of the counter, in a place where there is a workshop, a familiar voice is heard. Hibiki and the others notice that they have arrived to their objective.
They are at Tsige which is showing the most growth in this remote region, and moreover, in the Rembrandt Company that is riding on the momentum and growing with it. They are at a corner.
A darkish skin demi-human smiled at them gently from the counter and received them.
It’s the sub-branch of Kuzunoha Company in Tsige.
This company has already obtained a deep amount of stable customers and among the adventurers it is a store they admire.
It uses outstanding materials and in this town it is the place with the highest quality of equipment. Moreover, if one has the right amount of money, they even accept orders for improvements or original weapon creations. For equipment that will certainly last for a long time, not only the adventurers but the people who have occupations where they will encounter battles, rate this place highly.
Even so, there are a number of merchants at a corner lining up to buy medicine. Kuzunoha Company’s medications are famous for being more effective than those other unskillful magic medications and their sales are rising. There’s no doubt that it is doing well as a company.
Right now the armor orders are temporarily stopped, so in the place for armor orders, there’s no one. However, a number of adventurer-looking hyumans were there looking at the situation from the distance, so some people were anticipating that the orders will begin again.
Hibiki and her companions were transported to an inn in Tsige by Mio while they were unconscious. Mio gave detailed instructions to the landlady and left the inn. Hibiki’s group heard the situation from the landlady (several parts were altered) and devoted themselves to Bredda who was heavily injured, living several days there.
And so, today.
Because Bredda was able to walk normally now, they once again reunited and headed to Kuzunoha Company’s sub-branch where they were told they could contact Mio.
Hibiki’s group didn’t know about the gazes of inquisitiveness and envy that were being directed at them. It’s because they were envious of them having connections with Mio, but Hibiki’s group who don’t know about Kuzunoha Company and the status of Mio in this town, it is no surprise that they haven’t noticed.
When the Forest Oni clerk said “Sorry for making you wait”, a black haired girl they met a few days ago appeared.
“That knight, it seems he has healed already-desu ne. It’s great that it was nothing serious” (Mio)
“Yeah… That time you really aided us. From what I heard, you even lend a hand in healing. We thank you” (Bredda)
Bredda himself steps forward and thanks Mio. Mio glances at him and soon turns her gaze to Hibiki.
“I don’t mind-desu wa. I am used to protecting after all. And so Hibiki, it seems that your companion is in a good state but, do you have time?” (Mio)
“Yes. I heard from the landlady that you had business with me. So uhm… Is it about the fight with the mamono?” (Hibiki)
Hibiki’s expression is gloomy. Showing a pathetic appearance and being told that she was disappointed, had become a lingering discomfort inside her. For her, there were no past experiences where she has disappointed anyone and no experience in confronting her own weakness.
Coupled with the fight of the demon general that made her hold doubts about her strength, she who is a hero, hadn’t been able to digest this feeling inside her yet.
“Fight? Ah, I don’t really mind that. I just said this but, because of reasons, I am used to protecting people like you. Just think of it as being lucky-desu wa” (Mio)
However, Mio’s words totally negated Hibiki’s thoughts. From Mio’s point of view, the way back to Tsige had turned into protecting hyumans, that’s all.
“We were lucky…?” (Hibiki)
“Yeah, because you guys didn’t die. Moreover, I am not your companion nor your teacher and yet, why do I have to grade your fight and scold you?” (Mio)
Mio’s words implied that she didn’t care much about the life of Hibiki’s group. Those words stabbed Hibiki’s group.
“That is… then why did you save us?” (Hibiki)
“I told this to the landlady too but, Hibiki, it’s because I had business with you-desu. I still haven’t asked you about how to make Dashi from the marine products and dried fish after all” (Mio)
“D-Dashi is it?” (Hibiki)
“Just because of that?” (Hibiki)
“? That’s right. If you know about ways to cook, it would be a pity to have you die. Just that. Now Hibiki, you have already taken care of your worries, so please give me some of your time” (Mio)
Without any concern, Mio just answers the words of the dazed Hibiki.
“Mio-dono, we are grateful for saving us, but we are unable to agree to your request. The reason we came here is to train and get good equipment. Sadly, we don’t have time to spare…” (Wudi)
Wudi opposes Mio’s proposal. Hibiki’s group came to Tsige because they were looking for an outstanding place to train. And also to find equipment that matches their skills. For the sake of the rematch with the demon general and also to overcome Stella Fort this time for certain. All of these actions are for that sake.
“Stop it. To be defeated by an enemy of that level and moreover for a party that has the decision making of a baby, stepping into the wasteland will just turn you into feed. Your levels may be high, but in that place that just makes you a child with big build. It’s impossible-desu” (Mio)
Mio rejects Wudi’s speech as if amazed. It wasn’t that she belittled them or scorned them. It was like she was really admonishing a kid.
“Even so! We have to get stronger! We don’t have the time!” (Hibiki)
Mio sighs at Hibiki’s intense words. Because she saw in her eyes the light of an adventurer hurrying to its death place, the characteristic eyes of a person with narrowed vision.
“I don’t understand. I thought you were adventurers who were a bit different, but do you have an objective that makes you hurry that much?” (Mio)
“But I want you to at least repay me for saving your life? Also, no matter how strong you are, do you intent to take such a small child to the wasteland?” (Mio)
“Silent-desu ka. To think you guys were more stupid than I thought. Hmph, even so, this is troubling. I also can’t back off after all…” (Mio)
“Mio-san, for a while we will be moving in the day. So how about I tag along with Mio-san at night?” (Hibiki)
“From how you said it, it feels like there might not even be that many days-desu wa ne. I see, what should I do…?” (Mio) <Hinting that they will die in a few days if they continue>
Hibiki and Mio converse across the counter.
There, one man cuts in. It’s a man that just like Mio, came from the interior of the store.
“Then, how about this?”
“N, Beren. Do you have an ingenious idea?” (Mio)
“It’s not to the point of calling it ingenious though. Mio-sama wants to ask about cooking to that lady there right? And if possible, learn the techniques as well” (Beren)
“And so, the group says they want to get stronger at the wasteland” (Beren)
“Yes. That’s the reason why we came” (Hibiki)
Aside from Hibiki who answered, the others also assent.
“I see, just like how Mio-sama said, if it continues like this, you guys will die in given time. Practically certain” (Beren)
“Beren, don’t beat around the bush and just say it!” (Mio)
“Sorry for the discourtesy. If you are going to teach Mio-sama cooking, in regards of teaching her, I will also provide everyone with equipment that fits you in deferred payment. You can leave to the wasteland at that time. That way, until the equipment is done… let’s see, three days maybe. In that time it will be done. After that, you will continue teaching Mio-sama cooking at night. What do you think? Excuse me for my impoliteness, it is true that everyone’s equipment is reasonably good, but they seem to be quite damaged. To go to the wasteland like that is suicide” (Beren)
“… Can we be at peace by just changing the equipment?” (Mio)
“Then, how about having Toa and the others accompany them as well? If it’s Mio-sama’s request, they won’t refuse” (Beren)
“I see. If it’s them, as long as it is in the day there’s not much to worry. Beren, wasn’t it an ingenious idea after all?” (Mio)
“I am honored. And so, how about it?” (Beren)
The opinions of the people inside the counter had been arranged and the dwarf craftsman asks for the answer of Hibiki’s group.
“Three days huh. You can’t shorten that time?” (Bredda) <If I were a blacksmith, I would have stabbed him in the throat for that one>
“I will be taking the measurements now so. It is a different story from just repairing. Three days is an incredibly short time that no matter what craftsmen you ask would concur” (Beren)
To Bredda’s question, the craftsman Beren answers politely. Inside him, he was amazed by the knight who didn’t understand smithing.
“What prove do we have that the accompanying adventurers can be trusted?” (Wudi)
It’s the magician Wudi. He was worried whether the people accompanying can be trusted. To have the adventurers you hired betray you, isn’t that unusual of a story. If a betrayal occurs in a dangerous place, it can even kill them all.
“Toa-dono is the person at the top of Tsige’s list. Her face is known and she is not the kind of person who would do unreasonable things. Her party’s average level is over 450 and its ability can soon be called high class” (Beren)
“Also, they are adventurers Mio-sama trusts. If you say there’s no way you can trust them, then at that time we would have to think of another way” (Beren)
Wudi trembles at the gaze mixed with blood thirst that Beren released for a second. He felt like he wouldn’t hesitate to take unscrupulous means. To feel danger from a conversation about cooking is just unreasonable.
With a nod that one could take as consent, Wudi steps back.
“Hibiki, what will you do? I do think this proposal is advantageous for your party though?” (Beren)
“… I count on you” (Hibiki)
“Great! Then let’s begin the measuring as soon as possible. Beren, hurry. The first one will be Hibiki okay? After that, contact Toa and…” (Mio)
“Everyone, over here please” (Beren)
Being invited by Mio and Beren, Hibiki’s group disappears into the interior of the store.
Limia’s Hero began her restart in the borderland.
This is the first time in Hibiki’s life that several months felt so short.
Now it feels nostalgic the times when they were surprised by the performance of the weapons Beren and the other elder dwarfs created.
From the adventurer party of the girl Toa they were presented to, they have learned the adventurer way of decision making and way of thinking. Toa who was filling the role as party leader, is the type who uses speed as weapon and while it is the same type as Hibiki, she uses a different method to take advantage of the enemy’s openings, and she was able to become a good sparring partner for Hibiki. Toa who thought of Hibiki as a person of her same trade, didn’t find the chance to show Hibiki her trump card and hidden skills. No one knows what the result would be if a real fight were to happen. At least Hibiki thinks that she doesn’t want to confront her.
Lately, Hibiki has not been increasing her level, however, her strength has clearly increased.
At first, Hibiki who was still dragging her trauma of losing her companion, splendidly lost in a spar with Toa who was close to her level. She already has experience, but this is the first time that Hibiki has lost to a hyuman so badly. By the way, she also sparred with Mio, but the result was a complete defeat. She practically didn’t let her do anything.
One time, late at night in the inn where she had expanded a barrier in case of intruders and was sleeping, there was a case when Mio had, not broken the barrier, but passed through it and woke her up. Hibiki who was struggling because she didn’t know what was happening, got easily subjugated and was dragged to the kitchen by Mio who had sparkling eyes, to teach her cooking.
There was a time when Hibiki who was particularly stuck to the idea of levels, didn’t understand why she lost to Toa who has a lower level than her, and had to ask.
“When I was in Zenno, I was like that. Well, aren’t levels just one of many indicators?” (Toa)
Is what Toa thought as she remembered the masked merchant.
“Having a high level is just proof that you have killed a lot. You shouldn’t feel strength from a number but with your body” (Mio)
This was said by Mio. It was slightly mixed with the masochism when she was controlled by hunger, but Hibiki didn’t notice it. She was only looking at Mio with admiration.
And that Mio who was being taught by Hibiki the way to make Dashi from dried fish and konbu, had the sparkling eyes of a child.
A companion that has the same black hair as her, and even if it’s only limited to cooking, she is able to talk to her about the knowledge of her previous world in a favorable light. As Hibiki was steadily conquering her trauma, she was at the same time growing dependent of Mio.
Tonight will be the last night her party will be staying in Tsige.
A repatriation order had been send by Limia.
At first, because they were being treated favorably by the dwarfs, Hibiki’s party were a target of envy, but being friends with Toa’s party and the mutual cooperation in the wasteland, and at the same time as Hibiki conquered her trauma, she slowly regained her disposition of attracting spirits and were slowly being accepted by the adventurers in this remote region.
That’s why tonight, a party was being held for the sake of her and her party, and a great number of adventurers were sad at their parting as they make a racket. There were some who decided to follow Hibiki’s party to Limia and there were others who had decided to fight alongside her.
Bredda and Wudi were dead drunk and in that state, they disappeared somewhere. Maybe they were kidnapped by women who were sad by their departure and wanted to pass a night of passion with them.
Chiya didn’t have adventurers who were the same age as her and felt left out, so she had a time when she was homesick, but because she hit it off with Toa’s sister Rinon, she was having fun in this party as she drank juice and in the end, the two of them happily went to sleep on the same bed.
Had left the tumult and was on top of the rampart that surrounds the town. It couldn’t compare to the modern sight of neon, but at her back there’s the lighted town of Tsige. At her front, there’s the gold highway. The place where the wealthy merchant Rembrandt and his butler saw off Misumi Makoto, is exactly this place.
She is not alone.
From the inner part leaning at the rampart, there is a woman looking at Hibiki. It’s Mio.
“I heard you have something to talk about? Is it something that you have to ask me to come all the way here for-desu no?” (Mio)
“… Yes. In that place where a party is being held, I just felt like the mood was not right” (Hibiki)
Hibiki who was looking at the highway, turns around.
“Make it short. Being in this kind of place at midnight can create unnecessary misunderstandings” (Mio)
“As always, when it isn’t related to cooking you are so cold, Mio-san. Understood, I have two things I want to convey” (Hibiki)
“First, Mio-san thank you very much” (Hibiki)
Hibiki lowers her head deeply and gives her thanks.
“If we didn’t meet Mio at Koran, I think we wouldn’t be alive. The wasteland was a lot harsher than we thought. The trigger was Horn running wild, but I am really glad that I met you Mio-san” (Hibiki)
“I also had an objective after all. There’s no need to thank me” (Mio)
(Also, the reason why that wolf called Horn attacked me was because he reacted to my smell. Through the end it seems these guys didn’t realize that I am the black spider they fought, but only that thing noticed it. There’s no helping it that he attacked me. Also, I have already “silenced” Horn, so there’s no need for me to tell her) (Mio)
Mio found out the reason the silver wolf attacked her. On top of that, she gave detailed instructions to Horn and had him unable to disclose anything to Hibiki and the others. Thinking about the conditions, that wolf wouldn’t disclose anything, is what Mio thought with peace of mind.
“I was surprised that you even had katanas, but the sword that Beren-san made is really incredible. Our meeting with him is also thanks to Mio, so please accept my thanks” (Hibiki)
Hibiki had her heart quite moved when she saw the katana at the elder dwarfs’ workshop. It is also because she originally practiced kendo. When she took it in her hands and unsheated it, she was dazzled by that beauty and gulped her breath.
But, Beren bluntly told Hibiki that she is not fit for a katana and cut off her longing eyes.
Beren who had seen her sword, had warned her that Hibiki’s sword technique didn’t fit katanas anymore.
“I can tell that the skills that lie in young lady’s body are originally techniques that handle single edged swords. However, the sword that young lady is swinging right now is clearly double-edged sword techniques. I don’t recommend the katana which also has a special method of maintenance. That’s my opinion as a person who recommends weapons” (Beren)
There was no mistake.
The way of using a sword that Hibiki had originally known was kendo and a bit of fencing. Apart from kendo which she continued in club activities, she also learned a bit of fencing, but because of reasons, she soon had to stop.
And so, when she came to this world, she had now settled with the real combat sword techniques of the now deceased Naval that are mixed with self-taught techniques as well as the way of fighting with the bastard sword. To use a katana now might be difficult, she herself knows that.
Accepting the warning obediently, Hibiki for the first time obtained a weapon that surpassed her abilities. Contrary to how it has been in the past, she had to train to be able to properly pull out the capabilities of the weapon. That sword which was mixed in with Beren’s playful side, is a sword that’s bigger than a bastard sword and its appearance is one that can compare to a big sword, but it was unexpectedly lighter than the sword Hibiki used.
If she accurately took into consideration its size, she is able to use it just like her previous sword. That Beren used the scythe Mio showed him nonchalantly as material is one of the secrets that have not been revealed to Hibiki.
Remembering that gratitude as well, Hibiki turns her gaze away from Mio and looks at the night sky.
“I think right now I am only able to bring out about half of the capabilities of this sword. Beren-san also said I still haven’t been able to bring out the trick to it and was disappointed. To leave before finishing a task, is honestly mortifying” (Hibiki)
“Not really. The current you can get proper training even without staying here. You probably will be able to use Beren’s creation in a near future” (Mio)
“I will do my best. And so, about the other thing I want to convey” (Hibiki)
Hibiki, unusual from her, was showing a look like she is having a hard time choosing her words. Having drunk and eaten enough and not having any urgent business, Mio just waits silently for Hibiki’s words.
“… Mio-san, could you please come together with us? In the end I wasn’t able to meet him, but I will definitely make sure not to show discourtesy to the company’s representative!” (Hibiki)
Hibiki has not met the Kuzunoha Company’s representative, Raidou. It is someone that comes in conversations at times and she has also heard stories from Toa. That mysterious merchant who seems to have skill, in the end didn’t return from stocking up and Hibiki and none of her companions have met him.
It’s just that it was clear that Mio, Beren and the people in the company admire him a lot and when they told Hibiki about Raidou, they showed extraordinary pride.
“I don’t want to-desu. I have Waka-sama after all. I told Hibiki too right?” (Mio)
“Then together with that Waka-sama. I will also prepare it so he can make a store there” (Hibiki)
“That’s also a no-desu. Didn’t I tell you that Waka-sama is currently busy?” (Mio)
There were no points where Hibiki could find compromise.
“… This is just an example but, if my wish concerned the world and you pulling back drags Mio-san’s important Waka-sama, and turns into a situation where your strength is necessary to cope with. Would you still say that?” (Hibiki)
I am a hero, through the end, Hibiki didn’t tell Mio. She deceived her by randomly telling her that her knowledge of cooking was learned from reading books. Of course, it is a lie that just by asking would soon crumble. But for Mio, the important part was the cooking knowledge and techniques and anything else was irrelevant.
It’s also because she was uneasy about revealing her position of hero to Toa and Mio, and changing their way of treating her. Being able to stay as a simple adventurer, this several months were fresh, and are really regretful times to part from.
“Not even worth discussing. I don’t care about the world at all-desu. What’s important is Waka-sama only. If it turns into a situation where a mere woman like me has to provide reinforcement to resolve, it means that Waka-sama can deal with it as well. Then I just need to stay at that grand person’s side, and put my life for him” (Mio)
“… No matter what?” (Hibiki)
“No matter what-desu wa” (Mio)
Hibiki thought about just revealing that she is a hero once and for all, but she soon threw away that thinking. Mio said she doesn’t care about the world. Then, even if she reveals that she is a hero that has been called to protect the hyuman society, it wouldn’t affect the negotiation.
(Just who in the world is this Waka-sama that Mio-san is so in love with? Toa-san also said that he is on a whole different level and made a wry smile after all. Could it be that guy and Mio’s group could even save the world?) (Hibiki)
The comment Hibiki thought jokingly might not be that much of a stupid one, is what she will think back in given time.
“… Fuh~. No matter what huh. I have been splendidly rejected” (Hibiki)
“If you are a person with the role of managing a party, you must know that having it easy and being comfortable is a minus. I don’t intend to follow the orders of anyone aside from Waka-sama” (Mio)
“Yes yes, thanks for all the sugar. This is all I wanted to convey. Then Mio-san, with this…” (Hibiki)
“Yeah, take care when returning” (Mio)
“Yes. Mio-san, please visit Limia when you have the chance. At that time I will remember more recipes” (Hibiki)
“Ara, this is the first appealing proposal you have made. I will keep it in mind” (Mio)
For the end, Hibiki did a deep bow and leaves.
That’s how the strange meeting of Mio and Hibiki had ended.