‘Haah haah’, those short and rough breathes that didn’t have a shred of leisure were annoying.
Even when knowing they were his own, the man couldn’t help but be annoyed by how disturbing they are to his own thoughts, his face warping to show such displeasure.
He by no means will reduce his running speed.
He also won’t allow himself to deactivate the Skill that hides his presence.
He is a top of the crop pro.
He has been working in Tsige for more than 30 years, and has spread his name in the dark side of society despite being a demi-human.
He is a species of demi-human called Noga that maintains the appearance of a teen hyuman even when they grow, and this helped greatly in his work.
It was also fortunate that he had several racial abilities that were advantageous for stealth work and being a scout.
But he didn’t indulge in them and continued training himself.
That’s why he could run faster than not only hyumans but also demi-humans whose strength was their speed, and he could even maintain the special skill of a Noga for several days which was far from other Nogas that would reach their limit within only a few minutes.
(I was erasing my presence completely.)
(My timing should have been perfect since it was after some obvious weaklings had messed with him.)
(The attack point and the sniping point as well. There was no better place than there. I had his blind spot physically and mentally.)
(Also, I used my special mech bow to snipe him from afar. I paid the utmost of cares so that magic power detection wouldn’t catch me. And yet…)
His sniping target definitely looked at him at the moment he was about to shoot.
If put in time frames, it would be less than 1 second before shooting.
Even with that, his consciousness had been lowered to the lowest possible, making him a clear top sniper at that instant, an assassin.
(Despite the attack being at a speed he should have experienced for the first time with an arrow that’s far shorter than your average one…he grabbed it with his hand.)
Thanks to the weaklings, the bodyguard of his target had been reeled out.
He had managed to confirm the slight moment of relaxation from her.
And yet, the result was his sniping moment being seen, avoided, and even had his sure-kill arrow grabbed with a hand.
No matter how skilled, no one could blame the man for having been shaken by this.
But that gave birth to even more mistakes.
Within the set of motions of the target, not a single time did he take his eyes off the sniper.
The moment he grabbed the arrow, he for some reason made eyes that looked exasperated or disappointed, and then shot the arrow back as if it were nothing.
No, to be more specific, it wasn’t a snipe or a shot, but throwing.
Despite that, that arrow he threw was far sharper and faster. It destroyed the mech bow and gouged out the upper part of his right arm in set, and disappeared in the horizon.
That time felt like an eternity but it was actually just a few seconds.
Recalling all that, his sense of pain that should have been erased with drugs resurfaced in the shoulder of the man.
‘Is this what they call ‘phantom pain’?’ is what the man said as he wailed in self-derision.
A right arm on the verge of falling that could lead to death if left as it is.
The man was somewhat aware that he was being reckless here because he is prioritizing not dying rather than medical treatment.
(I messed up. Now that I failed to kill him with that first strike, there’s already no more opportunities for me.)
He thought over the situation, and after escaping at full speed while considering his next attack, the man reached a conclusion after careful consideration.
That he cannot win.
His brain was telling him that there was a despairing chasm of difference in ability.
After jumping one roof after the other while skillfully utilizing the shadows of the buildings as he was filled by negative thoughts, he finally jumped into an open window on the second floor of a building.
It was one of the many hideouts of this man that’s affiliated to the free assassination business in Tsige that’s known as Letter.
No matter if this is a hideout that has everything to function as a hideout, he can’t treat his seriously injured right arm here.
Even so, it does have the means to do emergency treatment before heading to the place of the healer he is closely acquainted to.
He must have already had in mind what to do first, he hurried to the shelf where the magic medicines are kept in —no, he tried to hurry.
His feet stopped cold, and his rough breathing calmed.
“Who is it?”
“…Hoh, that’s surprising. I shall give you a passing grade for that.”
The man directs his gaze to the side.
A single woman sat on a chair at the corner of the room, placed an elbow on the round table, and rested her chin on one hand without hiding.
“I see, so you have also investigated thoroughly the surroundings of your target, huh. You’ve got experience.”
The man immediately noticed that it is one of the people that he had to be wary of around the surroundings of his target.
It is also one of the people he had to separate from the target at all cost if he wanted to succeed.
“…Looks like I have poked my head into an outrageously dangerous lot.”
“Right. Cease your attempt to kill yourself just because you know that you are no match. I don’t really have an interest in your employer, and have no intention of torturing you either after all.” (Tomoe)
The man was shocked at the words of Tomoe that felt as if she had read his thoughts.
Tomoe complains under her breath ‘that would only increase the work pointlessly’.
“Oi, Mondo.” (Tomoe)
Tomoe suddenly said this, and a response came back from behind the man.
The man thought that just the fact that Tomoe was in this hideout was already fatally strange.
On top of that, judging from the positioning, it would mean that the man had been tailed by this Mondo person.
Even if he had resolved himself to take action, who knows if it would have rolled well or badly.
The experience and instincts of the man were both ringing alarms to not move no matter what.
“I think this serves just right-ja ga. What do ya think?” (Tomoe)
“…I think it would be somewhat sufficient.” (Mondo)
“Then… Oi, you, you said your name was Letter or something, right? Your real name is…Ruki, huh. I see.” (Tomoe)
“?! Wa…” (Ruki)
“Ruki, this is your punishment for attacking our Waka-ja. Keep us company for a bit. Mondo, I leave the rest to you.” (Tomoe)
“Yes, leave it to me.” (Mondo)
Tomoe then disappears.
Ruki, who had already dimmed his self-awareness to his own real name with how little he uses it, was sweating bullets at Tomoe calling out his real name with pinpoint accuracy.
“Just who in the world are you guys?” (Ruki)
“As you can see, we are a miscellaneous store working diligently in Tsige. Well, we have luckily fallen into this situation, so please be obedient here.” (Mondo)
“What part of your actions were lucky?! Those moves were as if you had predicted it all, as if you had known from the very beginni—” (Ruki)
“…By lucky, I meant you, Ruki. You attacked us, faced both Tomoe-sama and Boss, and yet, you are still alive. There’s no doubt you are lucky.” (Mondo)
The brown skinned Mondo speaks in a slightly informal way to Ruki.
Ruki can’t even begin to imagine what’s going to happen to him from here on.
But what he is sure about is that his will has no power in that decision.
Also, that they have created a use for him.
Ruki faces upwards.
Dreading the fact that he had taken a way too dangerous job just for that slight big achievement.
That sigh that came out from him, who looks like a middle schooler, was giving out the weariness that matched his age.
Extermination of visible enemies.
The response of Capli-san to the bandit countermeasure was a really really simple one that was given as if it were natural.
She instead asked me back ‘What other way would you deal with the people that try to rob you of your precious cargo with unjust force?’.
She said that’s why they hire escorts even when doing rounds in the city.
Capli-san also said that she has an armed force rather than employing from outside.
In the cases when they have to travel long distances outside the city or have important cargo, they would employ adventurers through the Adventurer Guild, or request from adventurers they have a good relationship with.
By the way, the reason why Capli-san was the first one I asked about the bandit countermeasures was because, when I went to the Bronzeman Company, the two company representatives were having a heated discussion about how to improve the carriages.
When speaking of wagons, most have the wooden or cloth look, but the majority of them have their important parts made from metal, and many serve the core role of affecting the performance directly.
Research is being done in Tsige with a variety of materials that obviously have to be more resilient than wood or cloth and lighter.
Wagons wear down fast and are used a lot, so there’s frequent customers for both wooden and cloth made ones alike to the point it is greatly profitable.
Product developments are also being made by priority.
You could say that’s how the world works.
By the way, when I asked the Bronzeman Company about their countermeasures for the bandits, they said ‘if they pick a fight, we get them back’.
By using the craftsman network, they pinpoint the culprits and the collaborators up to the last one of them, corner them, and have them repent.
It is apparently especially so for blacksmiths, but unless you have quite the great creation, they don’t get targeted that much.
It has apparently turned into an industry that you wouldn’t want to put a hand on unless you have quite the resolve since their retribution practices are well known.
Capli-san was jealous of that.
It is the ‘eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’, but it apparently doesn’t only apply to the craftsmen streets of Tsige and it is slightly extreme, so it made the evil guys tremble even more.
As if saying you need the guts or you won’t even be seen as a threat.
The type that instead of going for an eye, they go for both, and instead of a tooth, they will take out all your upper teeth.
Something like that.
This practice isn’t seen favorably by the merchants and adventurers because it is a radical way of getting retribution.
Even if the city told them that it is excessive and are punished by it, the craftsmen apparently don’t stop doing it.
The kind that goes ‘we are the judge, jury, and executioner’, huh.
You could say this is evidence of craftsmen -with the blacksmiths at the top- having a decent degree of power in Tsige.
“How about wrapping rubber around the wheels to absorb the impact?” (Capli)
That sounds like a modern era tire.
“Lady, I understand the idea, but there’s no rubber material that has enough durability to be used for wheels. We are craftsmen here, so if we are told to do it, we would overcome several hurdles and make sure to do it, but…it will most likely be in tatters with just one trip to any settlement, you know? You would have to replace them each use, and that’s just…” (Bronzeman)
So he can understand the idea itself, huh.
There are indeed rubber-like things to a decent extent even outside of Tsige after all.
I have even heard of mamono materials that have those properties.
They are tanned like leather materials to use, so rubber here is treated as a material that’s handled by leather craftsmen.
Looks like there’s no palm tree that has a mysterious rubber sap coming out from it like in Asora.
Thinking about the type of material, I feel like there should be a plant that should be able to fit the bill, but…maybe it is the case where it hasn’t been found yet?
Aah, there might also be the issue that there’s not much freedom in the thickness of the material because it comes from mamonos.
“Then, we have no choice but to use springs to assist in the cushioning for now. But I want to try a variety of things, so gather people and make rubber wheels… You can do it, right?” (Capli)
“Uh…I will properly be getting the coin for it anyways. Once we get our hands on the strengthening component for exclusive roads, we will jump right into it together with the spring.” (Bronzeman)
“I look forward to it. I will be taking my leave now. See you later, Raidou-kun.” (Capli)
“Ah, yes, thanks for your hard work.” (Makoto)
Capli-san walked without difficulties through the workshop without using her cane and left.
She was happy before about the amount of cargo and speed of circulation increasing due to the making of roads exclusive for carriage use, but it looks like she has already gotten feedback from it and is making changes to adjust.
Even though she was racking her brain for the time charts and the transportation of people, she is also trying to better the comfort as well.
It really looks like she is super multitasking here.
Her overflowing vitality has a far stronger impact, so it sometimes makes me forget about her other points.
“Uaah, what should I do? Protect the wheel with a rubber material? No, I understand what she is trying to do here, but just how much material should I use to tie it up…” (Bronzeman)
I once again looked at the Bronzeman Company Representative…to be more specific, Leidashrinkmen Bronzeman-san, and he was holding his head.
His family name of Bronzeman had become the name of the company as it is, and he has a damn long given name, so he asks others to call him by his family name instead.
He told me that too at the time when I invited him to the hot springs before.
Does he have a trauma with his first name or something?
‘It will become a pastime good that won’t serve for business, so let’s give up’, is what he must have thought as he brought out the topic, but it instead ended up giving him more work despite these damn busy times.
It makes it harder to refuse when you were the source of the topic.
“My condolences.” (Makoto)
“To think the day would come when I use this rubber that’s used for things like trending clothes and accessories… Ah, Raidou, sorry for having you come.” (Bronzeman)
“No, don’t mind it.” (Makoto)
“I want to consult with you about the pavement and things related to magic construction that you can talk about…no, there’s a number of points I want to learn.” (Bronzeman)
“Yeah, the pavement of the city is mostly stone paving or a variation of it, right?” (Bronzeman)
“But for things like the carriage exclusive road and other roads, I think the materials will change to fitting materials for their use.” (Bronzeman)
“Aah, I see.” (Makoto)
“It is called magic construction, but the technique at your place clearly also takes into consideration public works.” (Bronzeman)
“It is called construction, but thinking about the outer construction and the outside struggles, well, the public work also gets involved after all.” (Makoto)
“Yeah, but how to say it, Raidou, it seems like you don’t know much about the world, but for some reason, when you are asked, you somehow manage to answer. You are an interesting guy. I feel like wide but shallow knowledge isn’t something a merchant should be aiming for, but…is that the ideal form for a miscellaneous store?” (Bronzeman)
“Sorry, we deviated from the topic there. What must be prioritized currently is the carriage exclusive road. We will be expanding that to the outside settlements, and it will be connecting station with station. When considering the legs of the horses, dirt would be the best, but it would be easier to maintain for us if we were to pave it.” (Bronzeman)
The ease of the horse, huh.
By dirt, he must be talking about something like a tread down dirt path.
In other words, unpaved and simply rolling as they make it.
Honestly, the only view I have of those kinds of roads are the natural type of paths that are made by people and animals when crossing those areas regularly.
Also, something like prairie…a lawn.
No no, a lawn path…don’t think so.
The only impression I have of it is of public parks that would take care of it and would carefully expand as they maintain it.
It would be almost impossible to maintain as a path.
“The ideal would be a path that has as low of a burden on the legs of a horse as dirt, is sturdy and hard to crumble, and from a material that can be maintained easily, but…I have been gathering information from the Muzo place, the Milio Company that has been gaining momentum recently, and various craftsmen, but it just isn’t going well…” (Bronzeman)
“The optimal material, huh. It does sound difficult to fulfill that many conditions…” (Makoto)
“The lady Capli lately feels as if she is seeing 2 to 3 moves ahead.” (Bronzeman)
“As in…?” (Makoto)
“The lady has been really interested in miniature golems recently. Don’t know if to say this, but…I feel like she is seeing what’s ahead of carriages, or like…the replacements of horses.” (Bronzeman)
So that’s why she was so heavily interested in the diorama?!
She is also putting in her mind the inclusion of something like a railroad?
…Just how long does Capli-san plan on living?
In the first place, a railroad isn’t something that’s necessarily needed to hurry on in this world.
Taming a random demonic beast would probably bring out more speed after all.
I am no Bronzeman-san, but I feel like there’s a lot of seeds in this world that are a superior form of horses.
The one our company uses as a horse for our carriages is apparently a demonic beast called a bicorn after all.
“Well, because of this and that, I would like to talk to your craftsmen about any ideas and techniques they could have for this. I couldn’t just bring the craftsmen that the Kuzunoha Company raised themselves without asking for your permission first after all.” (Bronzeman)
“Thanks for the consideration.” (Makoto)
“I thought several times about bringing some in though.” (Bronzeman)
“Cause you know, you and the dwarves would come all boldly to the bar in front here, have lunch while drinking booze and making noise before returning. I even felt like having a talk with them already.” (Bronzeman)
“…O-Of course you would feel like that, huh. I am sure our dwarves are interested in the work of your place. Sorry for any inconveniences it may have caused.” (Makoto)
“Well, we have been under quite a lot of their care in regards to the magic construction, so I feel bad for relying on them for the pavement too, but I would like to ask you of this.” (Bronzeman)
Bronzeman-san lowers his head.
The fact that they come to eat lunch around here must mean that Beren or the other dwarves are worried or interested in something.
There’s no elder dwarf here, but there’s a lot of dwarf craftsmen.
They might be feeling that obligation as seniors.
I thought that it would be a bigger and tougher problem since a message was left at the guild to come here, but I am glad to see that wasn’t the case.
“Got it. I will talk to Beren about it. Right, I will have him head to your place with drinks in hand sometime at lunch.” (Makoto)
“That will be a great help. It is okay to think of this as a debt to you.” (Bronzeman)
“Thanks. I will think of it as so without reservation then.” (Makoto)
If it is about a method to make thin rubber thicker in order to use it on wheels, I think Bronzeman-san will have to suffer a rough death march from here on.
At the time when I felt slightly sympathetic for them and was leaving the workshop…
(Waka, thanks to you, we have reeled in a useful looking one. When you return, there will be a report regarding this.) (Tomoe)
Tomoe’s thought transmission.
(Got it. I will be going back after showing up at the company first.) (Makoto)
Good grief, there was also Toa, but I am not bait, you know?
In the end, around a dozen bandits were restrained and left at a station of the Adventurer Guild before I separated from her.
(Then, I will be waiting. We will be having soba tonight.) (Tomoe)
Completely contrary to my complicated feelings, I could hear the clear happy voice of Tomoe.
It felt as if a bit of the poison in me had been extracted, I felt a bit more cheerful.
My steps grew a bit lighter.
Let’s go back home!