Two as One Princesses
CHAPTER 65: MYSTERIOUS MONSTER AND UNEASE
As we headed out the next day, the town seemed to be somewhat restless.
Ignoring the commotion, Ciel headed straight towards the north gate but was stopped by the gatekeeper.
We were told that a powerful monster appeared and the hunters that encountered it returned with serious injuries and due to that, it seems that hunters can’t go outside without the approval of the Hunter Guild right now.
『Somehow it feels like we’re about to get wrapped up in something really troublesome again.』
Should we hole up in the forest immediately?』
『It’s pretty unusual for you to suggest something like that, Ain.
Is there something wrong? 』
『In these situations, we tend to get exposed as a Song Princess for some reason, you see?』
『Aren’t you simply tired of getting involved with the guild after we got exposed back at the capital, Ain?』
Ciel giggled, but what she’s saying is entirely true.
Now that I know we’ve already completed enough requests to become B-rank, I don’t have any motivation left to actively accept requests.
But then again, while I should’ve realized this earlier, I finally remember now.
The reason we were heading out to the mountains to begin with is because Ciel wanted to see the ocean.
With that in mind, it’s not much of a hassle to go to the guild for the approval.
While we can also choose to force our way out, since it seems to be dangerous at present, gathering information at the guild isn’t a bad thing entirely.
Ciel wanted to go to the ocean after all, so I can’t deprive her of that.
『For now, why don’t we go to the guild first?』
Seeing Ciel’s tender smile, it’s difficult to tell which one of us is the mature one.
I already realized this but while I’ve been with Ciel for 12 years, and I was in my twenties before I died, being mentally in my thirties is something I can’t assert with conviction these days.
Once we arrived at the guild, the current state of it was in complete chaos.
After all, an injured person was just carried away.
I only caught a quick glimpse, but he seemed to have lost an arm.
He was carried off to the sickbay or some other place by the time we entered the guild though, so he might have other grave injuries as well.
Deeper inside, I hear hunters asking the receptionists what just happened.
Summarizing what I overheard, it appears that a wolf-type monster with golden fur appeared.
A C-rank party had encountered it with a D-rank hunter killed as he was taken by surprise.
A C-rank hunter then held the monster at bay, while the remaining members ran back for their dear lives.
Additionally, as a result of the aftermath, an E-rank hunter that was on the shallower parts of the forest got gravely injured as well.
I couldn’t gather anything more than that, but it also seems that the chances that the remaining C-rank is still alive is hopelessly low.
While we continued listening in, the guildmaster arrived.
Upon seeing Ciel, his eyes went wide open in surprise for a moment before he approached us.
「Good to see you here.」
「A gate usage permit please.」
「About that, there’s something I’d like to discuss concerning exactly that.
Could you follow me to the office?」
『Should I go?』
『I have a bad feeling about this, but we don’t have much of a choice since we’re going to the ocean.』
「Alright then, follow me.」
Led by the guildmaster, we were brought to the office, the guildmaster’s office to be exact.
Now that I think about it, this might be our first time entering one.
While we did have the opportunity to enter the staff areas of some of the previous guilds, we’ve never been in the guildmaster’s office before.
Though, since the interior of the room had the same feel as an elementary school principal’s office, it wasn’t particularly impressive to me.
As we were told to sit anywhere, Ciel then sat down on a nearby sofa.
「Have you heard that a dangerous monster appeared in the northern forest?」
「More or less.」
「Then we’d like to designate a request to you, Miss Cielmer.」
「Investigation of said monster?」
「And its subjugation, if possible.」
The moment a hunter is given a designated request, they can’t turn it down without any special reasons.
However, the incident this time can be considered to be “special” as well.
Investigation requests for unknown monsters don’t have any particular rank requirement for accepting.
Rather, you only see investigation requests as designated requests.
This is due to the fact that the strength of the monster is completely unknown.
After all, if the investigation is left to random hunters, there’s a risk that they might just make up their report.
Another reason for that is that sometimes assigning these to cautious low-ranked hunters, instead of hot-blooded high-ranked hunters, would result in more information gained as well.
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However, in this incident, it’s been established that a C-rank party was forced to flee.
With that being the case, they should either designate this to hunters B-rank and above just to be sure, or to hunters with a running speed higher than that of a normal B-rank.
However, Ciel doesn’t fit both cases.
Though she is pretty light on her feet since she’s a solo hunter.
In other words, it’s a request that’s likely to be beyond our rank.
So if we point out that it’s in the gray area, they would have no choice but to back down.
Still, if we don’t accept this, we’ll have to exert ourselves a bit to be able to leave for the northern forest.
Additionally, we wouldn’t be able to get any information regarding the threat.
And it appears that Ciel understands that as well.
「Gray area, you owe me a favour.
No penalties in the event of failure.」
「Give me the information.」
The guildmaster gave us a more detailed explanation of what we overheard back in the lobby.
The monster is as tall as a human and its claws felled trees with ease.
Now matter how I think of it, this is definitely for hunters B-rank and above.
Still, since we won’t receive any penalties even if we’re forced to run away, then it’s acceptable enough.
After finishing our business and receiving the usage permit for the northern gate, Ciel exited the office.
As she did so, the guildmaster told her 「I’m counting on you.」 with a pensive expression, but Ciel closed the door without even looking his way.
A short distance away after exiting the gate extends the northern forest.
While the trees have been reduced to tree stumps in the area facing the gate, deeper in the forest lies untouched nature.
I’ve heard that monsters B-class and above live in the towering mountain range deep in the forest.
Because of that, while it’s too late at this point, the best way to get to the ocean should be to take a detour around the mountain range.
It should be, but why did we decide on cutting through the forest again?
Ah, it’s to save time, right.
While we decided on seeing the ocean, we also wanted to reduce the travel time as much as possible so that we can reach B-rank as fast as possible.
Besides, we already took into consideration that B-class monsters are pretty much manageable and that we should be able to handle even A-class monsters as well.
Due to that, I concluded that there’s no reason to go out of the way to take a detour.
It seems that I still haven’t shook off that train of thought.
When I told Ciel that, 「There’s nothing to lose by having the guild be indebted to us.」 she replied with so.
Certainly, if they force something troublesome onto us in the future after we did them a favour, it’s going to make things considerably easier to handle.
While I don’t have a good impression of the guild considering all that happened, since we got the magic bag, I guess we should be even now.
And most of all, since Ciel’s satisfied, that’s good enough.
It’s been several minutes since Ciel stepped into the forest.
Since this is the first time we’ve been in this particular forest, Ciel’s walking speed is on the slower side.
To start, we headed to the place where the party was said to have been attacked but… For some reason, my body—my soul—was suddenly hit with a weird tingling sensation.
『Ciel, could you stop here?』
『For some reason, I’m feeling really uneasy…… Can I borrow your body for a moment?』
『Sure, of course.』
Borrowing Ciel’s body, I once again examined my situation.
This is a premonition.
This unease is caused by the monster in question.
Rather being caused by its bloodthirst, it’s likely better to describe this as the result of some sort of resonance between us.
Deep inside the forest, I know that it is definitely there.
Perhaps it also knew that I’m here as well, since I feel like it’s approaching us now.
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『Please head straight into the middle of the forest.』
As I returned Ciel’s body, I said so.
『It’s there, right?』
『Once you confirm its location with detection, could you inform me about it, Ain?』
I’ll be extending my detection range, so I’ll be focusing on that for now.』
While maintaining the barrier, I extended my detection range to the maximum possible range.
I generally never do this but I have a strange feeling right now, so I’m not going to be complacent.
While I should be able to protect Ciel even from A-class monsters, I should still keep the worst case scenario in mind.
After Ciel cautiously walked on for several minutes, I finally caught that thing’s presence.
The information that can be gained from detection sorcery isn’t much.
It can’t distinguish color after all, and it also can’t detect sound.
I’d say that it’s pretty similar to fumbling around blindfolded with only your hands feeling the world.
Still, being proficient with magic power manipulation, I can at least tell the amount of magic power circulating through an individual’s body.
In the case of monsters, I can roughly judge its strength based on its magic power.
The monster in question is on all fours and has a large number of monsters following behind it.
Probably around a hundred or so.
The amount of magic power I feel from it is the most abundant I’ve ever felt up until now.
The most I’ve seen so far was from the B-class Cyclops, so it should be at least B-class.
It might even be around A-class, but I don’t know what the evaluation criteria is.
And so it seems like the cause of my unease is its claws.
Something that’s similar yet different from magic power is oozing from these claws.
Something that seems to be much more dense, something that could be called an upgraded version of magic power.
The reason this monster is capable of easily felling trees is likely because of those exact claws.
This is just a speculation since I have no idea what that something’s properties are, but it can probably cut boulders in half; and as for humans? Likely won’t even feel any resistance.
I’m sure that just being grazed by it would cause a fatal injury.
And those claws are bad news.
Absolutely bad news.
This is only a guess, but it’s highly possible that these could easily break through my barrier.
That’s how threatening it feels.
『I found it.
It seems to be leading more than a hundred monsters.』
『Those should be manageable.
What about the one in question?』
『This is just a speculation, but it might be greater than A-class.
Particularly, I can feel something similar to magic power from its claws and I feel considerable danger from it.
It might even cut through my barrier.』
『That’s a surprise.
Definitely a surprise.』
『Should we run away?』
『Can we run away?』
Fortunately, there’s distance between us.
While Ciel’s running speed is slower than that of a wolves’, we can still run away if they haven’t noticed us yet.
If they notice us from here, it’s doubtful if we can outrun them.
Meaning that if they chase us, we won’t be able to flee.
Moreover, I have a hunch that they probably noticed us already.
『It’s going to be a gamble.』
『In that case, let’s wait.
After all, we might be able to beat them easily instead.
If they go towards us, then we can prepare as much as we can.
So, are the monsters heading towards us?』
『They’re moving slowly right now, but they are definitely heading straight towards us.』
『Then I’ll start preparing now.』
As we are making this exchange, the monsters are gradually drawing near.
Heya~! Huzzah! More trouble inbound for our princesses it seems as a new threat comes approaching.
First of all, it’s nothing major, but it seems like Ciel is starting to get a hang of negotiations and stuff, lol.
But yeah, this chapter we’re introduced to something that might just break Ain’s barrier, considering how cautious she’s being right now.
Not that she’s not constantly cautious or anything, lol.
Also, it’s somewhat weird for Ain to be “resonating” with our new threat, hmmm~ Also, Ain, it’s still too early to be forgetting things, lol.
Still, this is the first time there was an actual threatening monster attack that a: is not prompted by human intervention as the cyclops at the first chapters was summoned my Ain; and b: has resulted in hunter casualties.
Quite interesting, really.
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