“OW OW OW!! It hurts, damn it!”
“Did you see anything!”
“You expect me to keep talking to that lady without even seeing where she is!”
“Oh, my! So you did look! Of course, you would! You leave me no choice, Master! For the next test, Ill be in charge of closing your eyes at the right moment!”
“You think saying that makes you sound cool or something! Besides, that ladys been waiting to talk for a while now, so learn to be considerate, damn it!”
I pointed at the lady in question while directing an enraged glare at Pochi, prompting her to turn to where I pointed while keeping her paws over my eyes.
Looks like shes not so used to talking face-to-face with someone that revealing despite being a female herself.
“Ahahaha! Whats up with these two Theyre hilarious!”
“Miss Catherine… and Sir Jacob.
Why are you two here Im the only one assigned to judge Asleys abilities.”
Right, I almost forgot that Id heard another person approaching us from behind.
Now that I was reminded of that, I turned around, and saw a facetious, happy-go-lucky-looking man.
Oh, I see.
Catherine and Jacob… both those names were registered as members of the Six Braves.
At this moment, three of the Nations powerhouses were in this dilapidated Cathedral.
As for me… I suppose I could now consider myself having become acquainted with seven of the Duodecad Conference
I hadnt had many opportunities to talk with the Six Braves, but I reckon that will be increasing soon enough, so perhaps I ought to get used to it.
“Youre not fit for evaluating Asleys capabilities.
Thats what were here for, in your stead.”
Jacob said to Barun as if to belittle him.
Barun hesitated to talk back, prompting Catherine to instead push him further down.
“Really, howd a kid like him get to be one of the Six Braves Did Lloyd and Ishtar skip some steps because theyre having such a hard time finding a candidate”
“Miss Catherine, I ask that you refrain from speaking in that manner.
Those two wouldnt be so amused if those words reached their ears.”
Jacob berated Catherine, not out of concern for Barun, but rather for the latters referencing of the Black and White Factions representatives.
Besides, those two do look a bit scary, so it wouldnt hurt to at least have someone on my side – especially since even Barun himself had never even seen this coming.
“Then… which of you will be my new examiner”
Jacob and Catherine turned to look at each other… and then Catherine raised her chin to signify that Jacob ought to do it.
“Of course its me again,” – Jacob grumbled and shrugged.
Now then, what does he have in store for me
Barun clicked his tongue lightly as he put Ricky on his shoulder and jumped to where Catherine was, then sat on a piece of the rubble with his face in a perpetual scowl.
Jacob, on the other hand, raised his index finger, as if he had just remembered something.
“Oh, I know – theres this one S-ranked job left at the Adventurers Guild when I was there just a while ago.
Ive accepted it, so…”
While he talked, he reached for his c.h.e.s.t pocket, taking out the request paper and presenting it to me.
“You can read.
So heres where you come in, Asley – with my authority as one of the Six Braves, I assign this task to you.
Go now, and complete it quickly… lets see, within five hours should suffice, no”
Jacobs grin as he said that was as wide as his mouth could humanly stretch.
So… this guy just doesnt even intend to let me pass, huh
All things considered, this quest must be quite troublesome.
Especially so since hed accepted it just a while ago, which I assume was about an hour ago.
In the Royal Capital, S-Ranked jobs were not very rare, at least compared to other places.
That was all the reason why it was strange that there was one left untaken by this time of day.
Since the Guild was technically low on S-ranked personnel, they could grant permissions for parties of five or more A-ranked adventurers to take on an S-ranked quest instead.
That special exception was an effective offset to the lacking of actual S-ranked individuals, and considering its benefits, it shouldnt be too difficult to form parties here in Regalia.
Despite all that, this job had remained untouched today, even after noon.
It hadno one wants to do this written all over it.
“Huhuhuhu, always such a troll, huh, Jacob…”
Uh, yeah, the way he looked and spoke was quite unpleasant and all, but I wonder… what could be the reason for him to mess around with me this much
Well, not like thinking about it would be of any help.
So I immediately hopped on Pochi and headed toward one of the exits of the Royal Capital.
On the way, Pochi was completely silent, which made me feel a tad bit concerned… for myself.
I mean, I had a good guess as to what her reason was, but still…
Once we were out of the city wall, Pochi released her frustrations in full force – and I, having anticipated exactly that, had already blocked my ears with my index fingers by the time she started.
What I heard through my blocked ears were as follows:
“Seriously! Whats up with that cheeky guy who just showed up and ordered us around! And you, Master! You should have at least talked back a bit! Really, why didnt you! Were you afraid of failing the test that much! Ive never been so disappointed in you! Besides, youve got some weird traps set up back at the Cathedral, right! Ive realized that just in time, but it wouldve made things way easier if you told me about it beforehand, dont you think! Youve got your Telepathic Call spell, for Gods sake! Ahh, so annoying!”
(Anna: Honestly, I couldnt agree more.)
Strange – most of the dissatisfaction she expressed had been toward me.
Well, shell still get angry at me if I were to say that, so Ill probably be better off keeping it to myself.
Ah, yes, this must be another step forward on my path to becoming a Philosopher.
Anyways…now that I come to think about it, this is the first time Ive taken on an official S-ranked quest.
Doesnt mean this was my first time subjugating bandits though.
Back when I was training under Tūs, I had to deal with so many that I got so sick of them.
Among them had been some opponents on the S-ranked difficulty level too.
Now I wonder what our bandits this time are like… and where they are.
“Hmm…so wheres this Lunariel Forest”
“Hell if I know!”
Well then, better do this by the book – my body will expire way before it should if I were to try myself against Pochis lingering rage.
Upon asking one random officer stationed at the gates, we discovered that the Lunariel Forest was unexpectedly close to the city – just three kilometers northwest of Regalia.
Now… I considered it strange that there were bandits whose base of operations were in a forest.
There must be some sort of reason for it, but its not like I had the spare time to think about that now.
By the time she calmed down, we were at the Lunariel Forest.
Hmm… the weather doesnt look so good.
Looks like it might be raining, which means that the scent of our targets may soon be eliminated and that I wouldnt be able to rely on Pochis nose, the fact that Pochi herself wouldnt shut up about.
Good God, I wish shed shut up.
“Lets get it over with, sir!”
Well, shes got the energy, thats for sure.
Maybe I should just let her do her thing.
“All right, Pochi, lets get a count on the enemies heads while we observe from the outside.
If we see an opening, then well cut in right then and there and work along.
I know theyre being charged for robbery and murder, but we ought to prioritize disabling them.
If things go south, well, you decide yourself what to do with them.”
“Sounds like a hassle, sir.”
“Like Bruce used to tell us –its also our job to doubt the job.”
Our opponents this time were humans.
Their capacity for wisdom and emotion set them apart from monsters, and just that was an issue in itself.
The circ.u.mstances had been different when wed taken on the Laughing Foxes head-on, so Id feel uneasy with the act of simply killing them while having barely any information.
I scratched my head and then sent a sign with my eyes, prompting Pochi to circle around to the north.
Now then, Ill have to observe the enemy from another direction.
According to my Biological Clock magecraft, we still had four hours and a half.
Within this time limit, we have to take down an unclear number of enemies, head back to the Adventurers Guild to report our completion, and then return to our examiners at the Cathedral.
…Looks like this job will be more of a hassle than Id expected.
I readied my stance and paid extra attention to the distance of my advance.
My work would be significantly more difficult if I was detected.
I have to keep the enemies unaware of my presence as long as I could, so that they dont find out much about us.
I must be cautious – but also ready to take the plunge as soon as I see an opening.
Pochi is now operating apart from me, so I ought to use Telepathic Call to check up on her…
[“Pochi, no problem here so far.
Hows it looking over there”]
[“…Looks bad, Master – the bandits have several mages among their ranks.”]
Wait, dont tell me… these guys arent the bandits we were looking for