Chapter 14, A Lost Wallet
Akira just returned from the ruins and went straight to the slum. The rucksack on his back was filled with more relics than usual. People with good eyes could easily discern that Akira was a Hunter who just came back with a lot of relics from the ruins.
The safety of the slum city normally got better closer to the wall and worse closer to the wasteland, especially for the slum area that was bordering the wasteland. The safety in the slum area was really bad.
Hunters who wanted to avoid any troubles would take a detour and enter the lower district without passing through the slum city. After all, there were people who were blinded by their greed for relics and immediately turned violent. Most of them ended up as a new addition to countless dead bodies in a particular area in the slum city. It showed the inhabitants of the slum city the difference between those people who regularly fought against monsters and those who did not.
Akira did not even bat an eyelash and just went straight to the slum city, after all, it was faster for him to go to the Exchange Centre through the slum city. Not to mention that since he grew up in the slum city, he was already used with the public order here. After all, nothing happened so far when he passed through the slum city so many times since he became a Hunter.
But something was not normal today, Alpha suddenly told Akira to keep his guard up.
“Akira, we’re surrounded.”
Akira stopped and confirmed his surroundings. It did not look like he was surrounded. There were more people around him than usual and that was all. But Akira did not question Alpha’s detection ability and kept his guard up.
“…Is it possible for me to win?”
Even if it was true that he was surrounded, there were many possibilities as to why he was surrounded. It might be just a form of greeting or just light intimidation or maybe he just got caught himself when they were aiming for someone else. But then, Akira immediately understood that he was the target, as such, he immediately took a pose by which he could quickly shoot back if he was suddenly attacked.
Alpha remembered the time when Akira decided to kill everyone when he was saving Elena and her friend in the Kuzusuhara City ruins, as such, she asked Akira.
“Are you thinking of fighting them? How far do you want to go this time?”
“If it doesn’t seem like I can win, then I’ll just run and think about the next course of action depending on the enemies.”
They surrounded Akira and intimidated him. But if the intimidation did not work and it was not worth it, they would just withdraw. Akira did not mind if that happened. But if they tried to extort relics from him, Akira had no wish to give them any.
He had become a real Hunter. He was no longer a small boy from the slum who would just throw his money that he had desperately collected so that they would spare him. That was the last thing he would do.
That was why, it depended on his enemies. If he had to choose to kill them all or not, Akira had already decided he would kill them if he had a chance.
Alpha then gave a suggestion. It was true that he did kill those Hunters down to the last man at that time, although they were not even attacking him. But their enemies this time seemed to be willing to talk with him. It was rather strange considering the situation, but it did not affect his winning chance.
“If you want to do that, then I won’t stop you. But if I decide that it’s getting dangerous, then obey my order and run away, okay?”
“Alright. I too don’t want to die after all.”
As Akira was standing still and was watching his surroundings, the encirclement was completed. All the alleys and escape routes around him were blocked by the slum people. Then 3 men came out from among the people surrounding him. Those 3 men looked different from the other people around him. They were wearing armour that was a bit dirty and damaged and they were carrying an anti-monster gun rather than a simple handgun. Basically, they were Hunters who fell from grace.
Akira knew immediately that these men were the leaders of the people who were surrounding him. Then in order to show that he was not scared, Akira shouted at them casually.
“Unfortunately I’m not rich to be able to pay the toll, so just go and hit someone else instead, okay?”
Those men laughed. Among them, a man called Sibea shook his head.
“Stop lying. You’re carrying a lot of relics on your back, aren’t you? I don’t know where you got them but I’m sure I can find more from where you found them, right?”
Akira tensed up and it was visible from his expression. Looking at that, Sibea just laughed as if he expected that would happen.
Sibea aiming for Akira was half coincidence. He was spreading his net since he started gathering information about his next prey.
There were countless gangs in the slum city and many of them were led by fallen Hunters. These were Hunters who did not have the skill and equipment to earn money in the wasteland but enough to use in the narrow space of the slum city and a touch of violence to earn money there. These Hunters would gather minions and form a gang.
Sibea was one of those Hunters. Although he was not one of the big fish here, his gang was pretty powerful and they had a base in the slum city. Akira was caught in the net that they were spreading.
Sibea imagined just how much Akira had in his rucksack and mocked him.
“You’re a boy from the slum too, right? Then we should help each other, right? I have a lot of people under me so we’re having a hard time surviving here, you see.”
Sibea looked around to the people who were surrounding Akira as if to say that they were his minions and threaten Akira that he could not escape.
“Don’t worry. As long as you give me all your money, belongings and all the information you have, we won’t kill you.”
The two people beside Sibea readied their guns and pointed them at Akira. They were laughing indicating that they thought Akira was weaker than them and had no ability to win against their number. But Sibea could see that there was not even a trace of fear from Akira’s expression.
Akira looked at Sibea with a grim face.
“…If I refuse, are you going to kill me? If you kill me, you won’t get any information, you know.”
“That depends on you. You can just tell us before we kill you.”
Akira knew that Sibea and his friends had no plans on letting him live.
Akira let out a big sigh and hung his head. Looking at that, Sibea thought that Akira had surrendered, so he lowered his guard as well.
Behind the weakness that he was showing to those people, Akira actually already made up his mind.
“…Alright alright, I don’t want to die anyway.”
Hearing those words, they lowered their guard further as they unconsciously took off their finger from the trigger and lowered their guns.
“Ready when you are.”
With that short telepathic conversation, Sibea and his friends’ fate were sealed.
Akira suddenly turned to his side. Sibea and the other men were baited by that and looked to the direction where Akira was looking. The next moment, Akira pulled out his AAH assault gun and started shooting while running as fast as he could toward the direction that Alpha instructed.
Those who had bad luck got shot and screamed in pain. Since they had already lowered their guard, they were late to react. Not to mention that they were surrounding Akira, any shot that they missed would hit their friends on the other side of the encirclement instead, so they ended up aiming more carefully which made their reaction much slower.
There were those who tried to shoot Akira with reflex but none hit their mark. Alpha had already calculated the safest path in case they started shooting at Akira and he was running through that very path. Alpha’s calculation was perfect, despite all the bullets that were shot at him, not even a single bullet hit him.
Akira followed Alpha’s instruction and dove into an alley. Of course, the men who were blocking that alley were thinking of shooting at Akira, but they were so surprised that their reaction was delayed. Thus Akira was able to shoot them freely in close range. Those men were only using a simple cloth rather than an armour, so the anti-monster bullet penetrated them without any resistance.
The alley was decorated by corpses and the ground was flooded with blood in an instant. But Akira did not even bat an eyelash on that terrible scene as he ran further and further away without looking back at the people who were trying to kill him.
Shouts and screams echoed in the area. Majority of Sibea’s minions thought that Akira was only a small boy who would give away everything with a little intimidation. They did not even imagine that it would turn into a shootout. The people who were coerced to come with Sibea started to fear for their own lives and ran away.
Sibea and his two friends were only lightly wounded, thanks to their armour. Sibea was shot but it did not hinder him in the fight, but even so, the pain from the hit was immense as it was visible from his expression. He screamed in anger because of the pain he suffered.
“That damn boy, looking down on us!! You guys go and chase him! I’ll take another route and circle him! You guys!! Stop standing there and chase that boy!! We’ll surround him!!”
The two men beside Sibea immediately set off chasing Akira, but the other people were only standing there, scared for their own life. Looking at that, Sibea clicked his tongue and pointed his gun at them.
“Get going!! Else forfeit your lives here!!”
Finally, the rest of Sibea’s gang started moving. He clicked his tongue and went to another alley chasing after Akira.
Akira took a turn not too deep into the alley and stopped, he immediately turned back and pointed his gun to the alley that he just passed. The corner worked like a shield that blocked the view. But he could precisely aim at the people who were chasing him because of the detection support that Alpha added into his vision. To make it easier for Akira to see, Alpha even outlined the enemy with a red border.
Sibea even intimidated his gang members with his gun to make them chase after Akira. They still thought that Akira was desperately trying to run away from them. Due to this, they did not notice Akira as they just blazed through the alley without confirming their surroundings. Akira remained hidden and silently readied his gun.
The moment they ran into the alley defencelessly, Akira showered them with bullets. The few people, who ran into the alley, directly took the bullet and fell into the ground. While the people behind them indirectly took the bullet and screamed in agony which was followed by the people behind them. The ground was painted red with their blood.
“Alpha, how many people left?”
“Most of the people that surrounded you already started running away. So you just need to kill the leader and his aides which means at least 3 more people left. Hide there.”
Akira hid in one side of the alley. It did not take long before the rest of the gang who were still alive arrived there and shot a few shots to check the corner before carefully moving forward.
Because Akira precisely followed Alpha’s instruction, he did not get hit by their bullets. Moreover, thanks to his long history of living in the back alley of the slum city, he could hide so well that a small peek would not be enough to discover him.
The guy who stepped into the alley thought that Akira was not there and stood there exposing his whole body. The moment he did that, Akira’s bullet went through his forehead.
“2 more left. Refill your magazine while you have the chance.”
Akira calmed down and changed his gun’s magazine while his downed enemies were still screaming in pain.
Sibea was trying to circle Akira. At first, he was running in anger, but he calmed down with time and his anger started to change into confusion.
“…Guys?! What’s going on over there?”
He tried to contact his subordinates through wireless communication, but there was no connection at all. He was getting irritated, but he tried to fake courage to replace the anxiety in his heart.
The gunshot that echoed from the distance had already stopped. Sibea could only think of 2 possibilities, either his minions had a shootout with Akira and finished him, or the exact opposite of that.
He hoped that the former had happened. And as to the reason why he could not contact his minions, it was either because the communication device was destroyed during the shootout or they were injured and could not reply back. Both of these were possible scenarios.
But Sibea also imagined about what would happen to him if the actual situation was outside his expectation.
[…What the heck is with that boy? He isn’t just a normal boy, huh?]
Sibea thought that Akira was only a lucky boy. It was a conclusion that he made after hearing a rumour about a small boy who accidentally found a hidden place filled with relics left by some dead Hunters.
If that was true, then even a child with no power would be able to bring back expensive relics. It also fits the fact that no one found any unexplored area despite so many Hunters went looking for it after hearing that rumour.
He thought that it must be an amateur who brought back relics knowing nothing about the worth of the relics that he carried. Then a rumour spread after the relics that he brought back was bought by Exchange Center for a surprisingly high price. Shocked by that, he must have stayed low until the rumour died down. And if there were still relics left in that place, then he must have bought some equipment while trying not to raise any suspicion using the money that he received from his first expedition. He would be planning to go back to that place once the rumour had died down. Sibea thought that it was around the time for that to happen and ordered his subordinates to watch out for someone that looked like the child from that rumour.
Then he really found such a boy, thus he felt more confident in himself. Not to mention that the boy looked way weaker than he thought. That boy did not look like someone who could survive in the ruins and the wasteland that he himself could not.
But he had lost his confidence now. He thought that he would get killed if he stepped forward, so he was just frozen in place and could not step forward.
[…Is it better if I just run away? If that boy really killed my men, I can just come up with some kind of excuse later and…]
Sibea could not decide what to do and it became a fatal mistake. Whether he would run away or fight back, he should have made the decision faster. After all, if he decided to fight back, then he would have more time to prepare himself, and if he decided to run, then he would have more time to escape. The time was of the essence for his survivability.
Gunshots suddenly echoed in the air. Sibea was hit by several bullets. The high-quality armour that he was wearing saved his life. But the impact from the shots made him drop his gun. Then another round of shots echoed, the gun that he dropped was destroyed and he was incapacitated by his injuries, he lost all his ability to fight back and could only lie on the ground. He could see Akira coming out from an alley near him while looking disappointed.
Akira was disappointed because Sibea was still alive although he shot at him with the aim of killing him. Alpha smiled while looking amazed.
“Good grief, you missed too many shots. You should take a better aim before going for the kill.”
“…I’ll give my best in my next training.”
Akira let out a light sigh and walked to Sibea. He then aimed his gun at Sibea’s head to finish him off.
Sibea panicked, he thought hard for a way to stop Akira from killing him.
“W-wait! It’s your win!! I’m sorry!! I’ll give you my money!! I have a lot of money, you know!! So please just stop!!”
“Why are you aiming for me?”
“I-It’s because I heard that there’s a boy who is not that strong but has a lot of money! But I was mistaken! You’re strong! So please spare me! If you spare me, I’ll even be your minion!! I’ll let you replace my position as the gang leader! I have influence even on the other gangs too, you know! You’ll definitely get more profit if you let me live!! I have a lot of useful information about the slum city too!! It’ll be useful for your survival! I can help you too, you don’t want to get attacked like this again in the future, right? I can talk to other gangs so they won’t attack you ever again! So spare me, okay?!”
Akira just stood there staring at Sibea who was pleading for his life. Alpha just kept observing Akira while smiling.
“I understand that, after all, I don’t want to die too…”
Sibea smiled after hearing those words. But suddenly his face turned pale.
“…Or so I said back then, right? But you didn’t stop, that’s why, you’re going to die here.”
Akira pulled the trigger and shot Sibea’s head from a close distance which instantly killed him.
“Alpha. How about the others?”
“The rest ran away already. Good work out there.”
Akira looked at Alpha who was smiling and confirmed that he won. He then let out a sigh of relief and made a troubled face.
“…For some reason, I feel like I’ve been killing only people lately since I became a Hunter. And here I thought I would start fighting against monsters more often.”
“Well, if you look from your perspective, they were trying to kill you without any good reason. So I don’t think they’re any different from those monsters. If you want to start fighting monsters, you should work harder to get stronger. I can’t exactly recommend fighting monsters with your current ability.”
“It’s not like I want to fight monsters. It’s the same with these guys, they thought that it’s better to fight me rather than fighting against those monsters. That’s why they decided to attack me. In their eyes, I look like a lost wallet that they found lying on the ground. I have to make them stop looking at me like that, otherwise, this kind of thing will just happen again and again, huh… Good grief.”
“And remember that wallet gets thicker every time you sell relics to the Exchange Centre, so let’s be more careful now onwards.”
Akira looked like he did not want to kill any more humans, but Alpha ignored it and just kept smiling like usual.
Bandits would not just go attacking people indiscriminately. Even for those who attack people for money at random, they would refrain from attacking others if they think that they might get shot back instead. So for people in the slum city who wanted to pile up money, they at least had to have the ability to protect themselves.
The thicker the wallet got or the more money that Akira had, then stronger and stronger people would come attacking him for that money, at least until the list of dead people who tried to attack Akira outweighed the money that Akira was carrying.
Akira then left the area and took a big detour avoiding the slum city as he was heading to the Exchange Centre. All the dead bodies that scattered around were added to the list of foolish people who met their ends that day.
A few days after that fight, a young girl by the name of Sheryl was standing in the middle of an alley in the slum city. She looked confused.
Sheryl was a member of Sibea’s gang. But after Sibea and his friends were killed, the gang was disbanded and some of the leftover members joined other gangs.
But there were also people who could not transfer to other gangs. They were those who helped Sibea attack Akira. But even if they helped Sibea, they did nothing much except for just blocking the way. So it was not like they actually attacked Akira and Akira might not have even looked at them at all. Those people who were able to skilfully make such excuse were able to get accepted into a different gang.
But Sheryl was not able to get accepted to a different gang. Although she was just a little girl, she had a nice figure. And despite her life in the slum city which cast a shadow on her beauty, she was still a beautiful girl. Thinking that she would grow up into a more beautiful girl in the future, Sibea took her in, or if you put in bad words, he had his eye on her. That was why when he was attacking Akira, he put her in a relatively safe position.
No one knew how far the Hunters that got attacked in the slum city would go for their revenge. Sibea might have been killed and the gang might have been disbanded, but no one could guarantee that it was the end of Akira’s revenge. There were Hunters who were concerned about their safety and decided to thoroughly finish off their revenge targets.
Sheryl’s position was actually pretty close to Sibea both in the gang and during the attack on Akira. As such, there was a fear that she might be included in Akira’s revenge list, thus no gangs were willing to let her join them.
Sheryl meekly murmured.
“What should I do from now on…”
It was really hard for a child to survive in the slum. It was not impossible, but it needed a certain level of skills.
As for Sheryl, rather than learning how to survive in the slum city on her own, she was more knowledgeable about how to survive in a group. She knew how to get along and put the right distance with the other people. She was also able to skillfully ascertain and adjust her relationship with other people. If she could not do that, she would get attacked by another gang or be used as an expendable pawn for the benefit of her own gang. And it could be said that compared to her, Akira’s skill in that department was simply disastrous.
Sheryl knew that nothing would change if she just stood there in confusion, but she just could not come up with a way to fix her situation either.
Eventually, the sun had set and the day turned to night. She spent all her time thinking, but no good idea came up in her mind. The desperation that mixed with sleepiness drove her mad.
All the ideas that she would not normally consider started to pop up inside her mind, but she immediately rejected them and tried not to think of those ideas ever again. This cycle kept happening inside her mind which had been dulled by fatigue and sleepiness.
The next morning, Sheryl woke up on the side of an alley inside the slum city. Her mind was clear after having a good night’s sleep and so she remembered what had happened the previous day. Since she kept thinking of stupid ideas right until she fell asleep, she already had some kind of plan in her mind.
[…I’ll be lying if I say that I’m not pushing this too far and the chance for success is not that high either. If I fail, I might even get killed. And even if it is a success, I don’t know how long I can stay safe.]
Sheryl was hesitating. To be more precise, she was lost as to why the stupid things that she thought last night looked like a valid choice to her now. It had become a choice that she was willing to do and put her bet on.
But if she did not gamble with her fate. She would be forced to stay in her current situation which was worsening each day, waiting for her death.
“…I have no choice but to do this.”
Sheryl made up her mind and stood up with a serious look. She then set off to find the person that she put her bet on, the person who destroyed the gang to which she was affiliated with, Akira.
Akira had visited Shizuka’s shop for a few times already. So much so that Shizuka had already remembered his face. Akira visited the shop again to buy some ammo. When he stepped in, he saw Shizuka talking with 2 customers at the counter.
Akira was about to talk to Shizuka, but he stopped when he saw that the 2 customers talking to her were someone that he knew. They were Elena and Sara.
Elena was adjusting the armour that she was using and tightening the belt that locked her information terminal in its place. Although she was a bit skinny, she had a pretty good body contour that was unique only for girls. She was tightening the belts that wrapped her good figure to kept the heavy equipment she was carrying in place which made the contour of her figure more prominent and displayed the beauty of her figure.
As for Sara, she was using a black armour made of an elastic material. She chose that armour since her body would frequently change depending on her nanomachine consumption used for her physical strengthening. It really highlighted her body that had already returned to its glorious state. Her armour tempted anyone who saw to imagine what lies underneath that armour.
Moreover, she had already given up stuffing her voluptuous chest in her armour, now her chest was peeking through the big opening in the front zipper of her armour. A pendant was hanging above her skin. It was made of a reprocessed bullet designed for decoration and half of that bullet was buried inside her chest.
Shizuka was smiling at Sara, it was both a formal smile to a customer and a friendly smile to a friend. Then she said in a voice as if she was somehow already fed up.
“…I already heard that story multiple times. About that mysterious person that saved you girls and how that person just left the equipment of the people that attacked you lying on the ground so that you girls were able to collect all of them and bring them back. Then you girls sold them and earned a lot of money, that you girls are still left with even after using it to replenish Sara’s nanomachine. After all, this is the fifth time you are telling me that story!!”
“Is that so? Then, I’ve told you about the medicine that person gave us, right? Thinking of what just happened back then, I consumed a lot of nanomachines for replenishment just to be safe, but since I used that medicine, my nanomachine consumption rate is strangely low. According to Elena, there’s a good chance that it was a medicine from the old world. That’s why my chest that I thought would quickly flatten stayed big like this, so the guys’ gaze is just…”
Sara just kept talking on and on. Shizuka was a person who loved to talk, but she did not like talking about something multiple times. Even more so if the other person was boasting.
When Shizuka was trying to find a way to make Sara stop or at least to change the subject, she noticed Akira.
“Ah, a customer just came. Let’s continue some other time, okay? Welcome, Akira.”
Akira then walked to the counter and gave Shizuka a bow.
“Hello there, Shizuka-san. Can you sell me some ammo again?”
“The usual one is okay with you, right?”
“Yes, and also, I’m sorry that I’m always only buying ammo when I’m here. Please wait for a bit before I can buy a new gun.”
“It’s fine. You’ll be able to gather a lot of money bit by bit if you keep selling small goods consistently. Better be sure to come back alive rather than carelessly trying to earn a lot of money at once.”
Shizuka then introduced Akira to Elena and Sara.
“This is Akira. He’s a Hunter just like you girls. Don’t you have something to teach him as a senior Hunter?”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Akira. I’m working as a Hunter.”
Akira pretended that it was their first meeting and bowed his head. Well, it was not like they had actually met before, so it was technically their first time meeting.
Shizuka had been friends with Elena and Sara for a long time. Elena trusted her both as a friend and as the manager of the shop that she was frequenting. Since Shizuka was the one who introduced Akira to her, Elena thought that he must be a good boy and smiled back at Akira.
“I’m Elena. And this is Sara. We’re frequent customers of this shop and we’re working as Hunters too. Wait, doesn’t that make us your senior in both senses, huh? Although we look like this, we’re actually pretty strong Hunters… Or so I want to say but…”
Elena made a bitter smile and just stopped midway. Sara also made a bitter smile and continued.
“…We were so close to getting killed recently, but we somehow got lucky and came out alive. You should be careful out there, being a Hunter you may get killed anytime after all.”
Elena and Sara’s bitter smiles showed how bad was their experience on that day. It was indeed a dangerous situation. But there was a bit of happiness in that smile, after all, they were able to somehow overcome it in the end.
“I understand, I’ll be careful out there.”
Elena looked somehow satisfied with how honest Akira was and replied back with a nod. She then turned to Shizuka and spoke in a tone as if she was teasing Shizuka.
“It seems that you have a customer, so we’ll head back. After all, I feel bad making you hear Sara’s story all the time.”
“Well, if you’re going to say that, then you should listen to all her story instead of me. There’s a limit of how much special service I can give to a frequent customer, you know?”
Shizuka replied back with a joke that was mixed with a complaint, to which Elena returned back with a joke too.
“Maybe Sara won’t have much fun talking with someone who was there too. And also, I’m always listening to her story, you know? Not to mention that we also contribute to your shop’s sales, so can you just listen to her story in my place from time to time.”
Then Sara joined in their conversation.
“Oh my, in that case then, I’ll have you listen to my story when we get back.”
Elena returned back with another joke while making a scared face.
“Sure. Let’s talk about it so you won’t ever try doing that again.”
“Shizuka, See you later.”
Sara smiled and immediately ran away from there, Shizuka made a bitter laugh.
“So that’s it, huh. That explains why Sara would rather talk to me instead.”
“I only use that if it seems that it’s going to be a long story. Later then.”
“Alright then, do come again.
Shizuka waved at Elena and Sara as they were left the shop. After that, she immediately turned to Akira.
“Sorry for the wait. Ammos, right? I’ll bring them right away, just wait for a bit.”
Shizuka went to the back room and brought back the ordered ammo. After Akira put it inside his rucksack, he realized that Shizuka was looking closely at him.
“Uhm… Anything wrong?”
Shizuka did not answer Akira immediately. She kept looking Akira as if she was confirming something. She then unexpectedly asked.
“Say, Akira. Why are you keeping secret that you were the one who saved Elena and Sara?”
Akira was about to cough but he was able to hold it in. He then tried to regain his composure as much as possible and said.
“…Uhh, I don’t understand what you are talking abo-“
“It’s not like you have surplus money, right? From Elena and Sara’s story, it seems that the equipment from the bandits that you defeated earned them a big sum of money. Since you were the one who killed them, there’s nothing wrong if you take a portion of it, you know?”
“You have some kind of circumstance, right? If you’re not sure whether you can trust them or not, don’t worry, I can guarantee you that they’re trustworthy.”
“…Well, you see.”
“Since being a Hunter is a dangerous job, it’s important to find a fellow Hunter that you can trust, you know? I think this is a good chance for you.”
Akira’s face stiffened as Shizuka was smiling at him as if she was trying to persuade him.
Akira thought that Shizuka was talking under the assumption that he was the one who saved Elena and Sara. But she had no real proof. So as long as he did not say anything, he might have a chance to dodge it. That was why Akira kept quiet. But then Shizuka continued.
“I heard it from Elena and Sara, Akira, you threw a bullet to Elena, right? That bullet, it was among the batch that I sold to you, right? Bullets from my shop have a manufacturing number carved on their shells. It’s for the purpose of tracing back the selling route or returning it back to the manufacturer if a defective product is found.”
After hearing Shizuka’s evidence, Akira decided to give up.
“…I’m sorry, can you please keep it a secret?”
“Aah. So it was really you, huh. I had no real proof, that’s why I was actually asking leading questions, sorry.”
Akira could not hold his cough. He then asked back in panic.
“T-then about that bullet?”
“They do have manufacturing numbers carved on their shells, but it’s not enough as proof.”
After Shizuka answered back while laughing. She looked at Akira with an expression that said she was sorry.
“I’m sorry. I know you must have a circumstance that you can just talk to others. So I promise I’ll keep it a secret. But still, about the thing that I said, it’s still important for you to find fellow Hunters that you can trust. After all, there’re many bad Hunters out there who are also working as bandits. You’ll also have a better chance of survival by working together with people that you can trust… You, Elena, Sara and other Hunters. You guys look like rushing toward your death in my eyes. It’s not like I want to criticize other people’s way of life. But I at least want to give some advice to my friends so that they can survive longer. I know I’ve been saying this again and again, but you can trust those girls, you know. I can guarantee it. If you ever change your mind and want to contact Elena and Sara, you can just tell me anytime, okay?”
“I understand. And also, thank you for worrying about me.”
Akira was happy at how nice Shizuka was to him as he smiled and bowed to Shizuka.
“But, if the bullet is not good enough as proof, how did you know it was me?”
“Call it intuition. I did not have any definite proof. But if I have to say, then it’s from that bullet that we were talking about. You saw that Sara was wearing a pendant, right? I heard it’s made from the bullet that Elena received from their saviour. They said that it’s some kind of a lucky charm for them. I somehow had a feeling that it was a bullet from this shop, you see. Moreover, when I introduced you to them, it seems like you were pretending as if it was your first time meeting them. They were talking about their saviour whose face, name and voice were unknown, then there was you pretending as if it was your first meeting with them. So I just connected the dots.”
Akira looked surprised, he never thought that he would be discovered only because of this.
After that, Shizuka seemed hesitant as she said.
“Aahh, and also, in case you want to talk to them, you might want to do it soon. After all…”
Shizuka hesitated a bit, but then she continued while making a bitter smile.
“…It seems that they’re so happy that they were saved, so they keep telling me about that story, you know. And looking from their faces when they talk about that story… Those are the faces of girls in love…”
Although Akira was listening silently to Shizuka, he felt that their conversation was heading in a weird direction. But then it turned into a more disturbing direction.
“…Every time I heard the story, it keeps changing for some reason. They started calling that person as ‘him’, a mysterious person with unknown age and gender. At this rate, it will only get worse, then in the end… Well, this is only my imagination, so there’s no need to take it too seriously, but… It might turn into something serious, it might turn into a certain son of a rich billionaire who is working as a Hunter out of hobby saved Sara and Elena by chance. The reason why he won’t tell anything about himself is that he doesn’t want any girls stalking him. And the reason why he won’t accept any reward and was able to just gave a powerful medicine like it was nothing because he is a rich boy… It might even turn into something like that… Or maybe I’m just too worried, huh.”
The current Akira had no shred of similarities with that rumoured man, but it did fit the rumour well. So Akira started to get worried.
“I’m just a boy from the slum. I don’t have any money. That image is far from reality… So as I said, please keep it a secret.”
Akira and Shizuka just smiled awkwardly at each other and their conversation just stopped there.