Chapter 21, Unnecessary Things
Akira was dragging his feet within the Kuzusuhara ruins. He was only able to walk at this speed by stopping every few steps to take a breath. But even with all this struggle with walking, he was somehow able to banish the thought of lying down, to continue dragging his feet once again.
The reason why he was walking so slowly was because of the rucksack on his back. It was filled with relics up to its brim and it was so heavy that it made his legs shake while carrying it. He was somehow able to carry it thus far, but he suddenly mumbled a complaint.
“Alpha, I’m thinking, isn’t this a bit too much? Can we like, you know, leave some of the relics behind?”
He knew that if he could bring it back, it would definitely fetch him a huge amount of money. Not to mention that he was the one who previously complained about bringing only a small quantity of relics. But the rucksack he was carrying was heavy enough to make him suggest leaving some of the relics behind.
But Alpha rejected his complaint with a serious face.
“No, we won’t do that. To be honest, I think I underestimated your bad luck. Right when we decided to go out to the wasteland for training for a day, you got attacked by 2 groups of monsters right away. Even I didn’t see that coming, you know. So in order to prepare you to face bad luck anytime, we need to get you better equipment as soon as possible. The money that we earn from these relics will be used to buy that equipment, so you should give your best for a little while longer.”
“I understand your point, but…”
Alpha could see that Akira was not just displeased, there was another complicated expression mixed in his face. So Alpha too made a displeased look as she said to Akira.
“Oh my, are you saying that I should give better support so that you would not need more equipment? Just for your information, I’m always giving my best support, you know?”
“That’s not what I meant. Your support is really helpful to me. Even back there too, I would’ve died if it wasn’t for your support. I’m really thankful and I do trust you. But still…”
Akira’s trust and gratitude were not fake, but there were a lot of other things inside his head.
[For some reason, I feel like I’m constantly in danger since the day I met Alpha. But again, facing dangers is a professional hazard as a Hunter and I met Alpha on the first day I became a Hunter. So it can be said that it’s only to be expected, but still…]
That was what Akira thought but he could not fully convince himself with that reasoning. Hearing his reply, Alpha’s expression changed from displeasure to exasperation.
“Good grief. Although you got such a beautiful lady like myself around for the whole day taking care of a lot of things for you, you are still complaining like this, huh? Akira, aren’t you just too greedy?”
It might be because Akira was so tired that he looked irritated.
“And when I thought you had no interest in the opposite sex, you did react to Shizuka, Sara and Elena, right? As I thought, having a physical body that you can touch is a big factor to you, huh?”
Akira coughed and flustered as he wondered whether he really reacted that much to Shizuka and the other girls.
“Since I can’t entice you with touches, I wonder if I can entice you with appearance instead. Maybe being naked works well? No, judging from how you reacted to Sara, I think suggestive clothing works better.”
Alpha then removed all of her clothing and exposed her beautiful skin without anything to hide them. She then put on sexy underwear before layering it with a thin and almost transparent dress.
Her transparent dress blurred into the light showing a beautiful figure, her glossy skin was tremendously charming. The shadow created on the opposite side of the light was captivating. Everything about her was so sensuously inviting.
But in contrast, Akira’s reaction was very dull, he simply lightly blushed before he let out a slight sigh.
“Alright alright, I’m sorry. I won’t complain again so switch back to your normal cloth.”
But Alpha just ignored that as she pointed towards the ruins.
“Akira, there’s somebody over there.”
“Just put on your cloth first. Over there, huh?”
Akira then pulled out his binoculars and scanned towards the direction that Alpha pointed, he could see a young boy running desperately.
“That boy, I’ve seen him somewhere before…”
“He’s the young boy that attacked you back in Sheryl’s base. Is he heading here to kill you for revenge or something?”
“Now that you mention it, he indeed looks like that boy…”
Akira remembered that someone attacked him but he did not remember the face. But for now, that boy did not look like he was following Akira’s footprints. So Akira decided to just keep his eyes on him for a while.
Ever since Erio was banished from Sheryl’s gang, he had been looking for a way to get reinstated. He heard the recent development of the gang from Alicia, who he was close with. He came to know that the gang recently got a helping hand from a merchant named Katsuragi. Thanks to that, the economy of the gang developed very well. This fact only made him regret his foolish action. And since he had no connection that could help him join any other gang and he already had someone that he could trust in Sheryl’s gang, he wanted to return back to Sheryl’s gang no matter what.
Alicia told him that although Sheryl would not be able to do it in front of Akira, she was actually planning to let him join the gang again after a while. Thus, Erio spent his days in the back alley clinging onto that hope.
But there was no guarantee that he would be alive until that time comes. Thus, he had to do something before he loses any more time. He thought hard and made a gamble. He asked Alicia to lend him a gun and went to Kuzusuhara ruins looking for relics.
In order to return back, Erio had to talk with either Sheryl or Akira. But it was not a problem that could be solved by prostrating and begging for forgiveness. He will have to bring something of worth with him and bringing a relic from the ruins would be the perfect souvenir. He thought that would be enough as an apology to both Akira, a Hunter who was working by hunting for relics, and Sheryl, his boss, who told him to fetch a relic from the ruins. That was why he decided to look for relics in the ruins.
An expensive relic could turn a normal person into a rich personage in one go. It was the most common dream for the people of the slum. But Erio soon realized that it would just stay as a dream to him. He now knew that another kid from the slum, just like him, had become a Hunter. And he was so close to realizing that dream. So he thought he too might also have a shot at becoming rich. Both their dreams might be different but he hoped to at least be able to grab a fragment of that dream by a lucky encounter. That was why he took the gamble to try his luck in the ruins.
But Erio’s gamble easily went to ash. He immediately met a monster the moment he went to the ruins. He did try to fight back with his gun, but since he was in a panic and he had no real skill in using a gun, none of his shots hit the monster. And it did not take very long for him to deplete the low quantity of ammo that he was carrying.
Erio, who had lost his means of fighting then dropped the heavy gun he was carrying as he ran as fast as he could from the monster that was trying to eat him. The ruins filled with debris was not an easy terrain for him to traverse but that was not the case for the monster that was chasing him. Thus it would be very difficult for him to outrun that hungry monster. It was only a matter of time for that monster to catch up with him.
Akira was watching Erio with a confused look.
“Going to the ruins without a gun, huh? That guy is really careless.”
Alpha smiled teasingly.
“You’re right. But he’s just like you during that time, right? The only difference between that boy and you is that he, unfortunately, won’t get to meet me.”
It was true, he was not that different from Akira from back then. But since Akira met a group of weapon dog on his first day, he might have been actually more careless than Erio in a sense. Akira smiled bitterly after realizing this. The scene of Erio running away from the monster reminded him of himself and Akira’s face turned serious.
What Akira was seeing from his binocular was what would have happened to him had he not met Alpha. It was obvious as to how this scene would end, it would only take a few more seconds for that monster to catch up with Erio and another second for that monster to severely injure him. If that happened, then that would be the end of Erio’s life. That was also how Akira’s life too could have ended in a different storyline.
“…You’re right. That’s me, huh?”
Akira mumbled those words as he picked up his gun. Seeing his action, Alpha looked surprised.
“Are we going to help him?”
“Yeah, this must be some kind of fate. Let’s help him and improve my luck… Moreover, he came at the right time.”
Akira laughed lightly as he carefully took aim and pulled the trigger of his gun.
After Erio used all of his stamina and power to escape from the pursuit of the monster, he finally hit his limit. The road in front of him was blocked by rubble and he had no path to run. As he turned back in panic, he could see the hungry monster opening its huge jaw showing its big sharp fangs as its saliva splattered around.
It was the end for him. Erio’s face distorted in terror as he waited for the impending death to reach him.
And right when that monster jumped towards him, it suddenly rolled over. Then gunshot kept reverberating as bullet splinters ricocheted around the monster. Blood spurted out of the holes that opened up on the monster’s body, dyeing the earth red.
But even so, the monster was still alive. Although it was wobbly and unstable, the monster got back on its feet. Then another bullet tore through its limbs and it fell down on the pool of its own blood.
When it tried to stand up again, another bullet tore through it. But this time, the monster shivered and finally stopped moving.
Erio was dumbfounded for a moment. After he regained his composure, he finally realized that he was saved, he then mumbled in a happy and relieved voice.
“…I’m saved…? I’m saved… I’m saved!!!”
Erio tried to calm down his breathing while still looking excited. He then turned towards the direction where he heard the gunshot from, to look for the person who just saved him. But the moment he saw his saviour, his expression froze. The person that he saw in that direction was the same person that he attacked the other day. It was the person that he met in Sheryl’s base who aimed his gun at him as he was lying on the ground and pulled the trigger without any hesitation.
Erio’s face twitched when he saw Akira waving at him.
Erio was dragging his feet in the middle of the ruins. He looked like he was having a hard time as he said.
“T-this is so heavy…”
The reason for that was because the rucksack that Akira was carrying was now transferred to Erio’s back. It was an exchange of favour for saving his life. Although to be perfectly honest, he actually had no way to refuse it.
The leg crushing weight assaulted him who was already tired from running away from the monster. He felt like he would not be able to stand back up if he fell over. Thus, he tried his best not to trip as he slowly dragged his feet.
They encountered monsters from time to time but Akira who walked in front of him would take them out easily. From his back, Akira looked like he was just walking normally, but every time they met a monster, Akira was able to detect them and take a pre-emptive shot to kill them. Erio did not even have the slightest idea of how Akira could detect those monsters.
[Was Akira fighting monsters while carrying this heavy rucksack all the time until he met me? Did he also take them out so easily like this while carrying this rucksack? No wonder why he could defeat Sibea and the others all by himself. Did I really pick a fight against this ‘monster’? That explains why Sheryl got so angry at me. Now that I think about it, that was really stupid of me…]
Erio’s fear of Akira just multiplied several times and it made him regret his action even more than before.
After getting released from the burden of his rucksack, Akira was shooting down monsters in a good mood. But he then looked puzzled as he stared at the monsters that he just killed.
“Alpha, do these monsters always roam around this area?”
Alpha then looked puzzled too as she said.
“I guess some of the monsters that attacked Katsuragi ended up staying around this area. Or maybe those are rare monsters that came here attracted by that pile of meat from back then. Or maybe they’re normal monsters that have gone through an evolution.”
“These monsters are dangerous.”
“In the worst-case scenario, the monsters distribution in the ruins will change and it’ll cause ruin exploration to be even more dangerous than before. And even with your ability and my support, we might need to stop exploring the ruins for a while. It was the right choice to bring a lot of relics this time.”
Alpha said that it would be dangerous even with her support, it showed just how dangerous the situation would really be. Akira understood that very well as his face turned grim.
“…They’re really that dangerous, huh?”
“Let’s hurry up and go home for now.”
Akira picked up the pace. Of course, Erio who was carrying heavy rucksack suffered more than him, as he desperately tried to catch up with Akira.
Once they arrived at the city, they immediately headed to Katsuragi’s portable shop and trailer. Erio squeezed every little stamina that he had as he went for the last spurt. When they arrived in front of the trailer, Katsuragi who was watching the shop immediately noticed Akira and Erio.
“Akira, huh? This time you’re bringing a boy rather than a girl with you, huh. But that aside, you really didn’t betray my expectations, this time you are here as a customer, right?”
“Yeah, I’m a customer today. Although, I’m only here to sell relics.”
“Ah, selling relics, huh? Well, whatever it is, I welcome any customers. So then, where’s the relic?”
Akira then pointed at the rucksack that Erio was carrying. Looking at that, Katsuragi smiled in a good mood.
“That looks quite a lot, bring it to the back.”
After the three of them went to the back of the trailer, Akira started putting out all the relics that he wanted to sell. At first, he just put out everything from inside the rucksack randomly before Alpha told him to keep the medicines. So then Akira asked Alpha through telepathy.
“Is it a bad idea if I put it out just to show it to him?”
“It’s better to be safe. You wouldn’t be able to refuse if he asks you insistently to sell those relics, right?”
“Depending on the price, wouldn’t it be okay to sell at least one box?”
“Nope. That one box might be the thing that saves you from certain death, you know? So be sure to retain it.”
Since Akira himself did not want to die, he started to carefully put out the relics.
After scanning all the relics that were piled up in front of him, Katsuragi chuckled.
[…I don’t know where this boy got all of these relics. But this amount is pretty impressive. As I thought, this boy will be a successful Hunter. I have to get on his good side no matter what.]
After that, Katsuragi appraised all the relics and did the mental calculation. He then put on his merchant smile and looked at Akira.
“…Hmmm. Well then… How about if I take everything for 5,000,000 Aurum?”
Katsuragi’s face was filled with honesty and sincerity of a merchant. But that sincerity was mixed with some hidden fees that were needlessly added.
Alpha then casually said to Akira.
“Not good enough.”
After hearing that, Akira immediately said to Katsuragi.
“I understand, I’ll take them to the Hunter Office then.”
As Akira went to pick up his relics and put them back inside the rucksack, Katsuragi went to panic mode and said.
“Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! Well, like, this is where you should haggle, right? Don’t just give up now.”
Akira then looked coldly at Katsuragi who tried to gamble his chance with him there.
“You can go ahead and do that with your other merchant friends. I have no interest in doing something like that. You have one more chance to decide the price, and if I’m not satisfied with that, I’ll just take them to the Hunter Office.”
Katsuragi knew that it was not a bluff when Akira said that. So he did not have any other choice but to rethink his price.
“…I understand!! 8,000,000 Aurum!! How about that?”
“Well, that sounds good.”
(Athena: In the raw, this line was said with feminine inflexion so it can be inferred that this part is Alpha’s.)
“Sounds good to me, you should do that right from the start next time, okay?”
“Aright then, we have a deal here.”
The relics that Katsuragi bought were moved into his trailer. He would eventually sell those relics at a higher price than what he had paid to Akira. After all, that was where his ability as a merchant would shine. No one would complain even if he sold those relics at a higher price since he had to spend more money on the appraisal, getting a quality assurance certificate among many other things.
Katsuragi was in a good mood since he got himself a good deal.
“How do you want me to pay you? Do you want it in cash? It’s easier for me to pay you through bank transfer though…”
Akira had always been living in the slum city up until recently, so he did not have a bank account yet. Although he could easily open a bank account by doing some simple paperwork in the Hunter Office, the reason he did not do that was because up until now, he had no need for a bank account. So he tried to let the subject slide as he casually said.
“There are people that only accept payment with cash. But I’ll do something about it when I need to handle a larger amount of money.”
Katsuragi then glanced at Erio and was fully convinced with that reasoning. If Akira wanted to give money to Sheryl’s gang, it would be better if he did it with cash.
“I understand, so its cash, right? Then wait for a bit.”
Katsuragi went inside his trailer and returned back with 8,000,000 Aurum in big bundles. Seeing this much money shocked Erio, who was lying down out of exhaustion, so much that his eyes bulged like saucers.
Alpha had warned Akira not to overreact. So he just calmly took the money and placed it into his rucksack and closed it.
Looking at how Akira and Katsuragi conversed, Erio realized the big chasm between him and Akira. 8,000,000 Aurum was a huge amount of money to the children from the slum city. Erio thought that even Akira would be shocked, but Akira proved his expectations wrong and received the money calmly without any emotional fluctuations.
Akira noticed that Erio was looking at him with a complicated look. But he could not understand why. Akira was at a loss whether to send Erio home now since he had finished with carrying the rucksack and had no further business with him? Or should he give Erio a portion of the money? Akira did not even know if it was a good idea to ask Erio about that. But then he said.
“That’s it then, I have no other business with you. You can go back home now. I’ve saved you back there so you get nothing from me. Later then.”
Watching Akira as he picked up his rucksack and was about to return on his way, Erio realized that it was his only chance to ask Akira to help him in getting back to Sheryl’s gang. But if he asked him poorly, Akira might think that he was trying to ask for a share of the money and get angry at him instead. Thus he desperately tried to be careful as he asked Akira.
“Can you please ask Sheryl to let me return back to her gang? I was banished because of what I did back then. You might have saved me, but without the gang, I would get killed sooner or later! So please help me!! I even helped you carry that heavy rucksack, you know!! So I’m at least helpful to you, right?!! Please help me!!”
Akira looked back at Erio with an expressionless face. It was him trying to act calmly to hide the fact that he was carrying a huge amount of money. But Erio did not understand that and he began sweating in a panic thinking that he had made Akira angry.
Erio realized that he was a bit too forceful when he requested Akira’s help, but if Akira refused to help him now, then it would really be the end for him. If Akira thought that he was being rude, it would mean he would have zero chance to return to Sheryl’s gang. But on the other hand, he had no confidence if he could live by himself in the back alley of the slum city and he did not have the courage to go to the ruins once again. Thus he prayed hard so that Akira would help him.
“Well, we can go to Sheryl’s place right now.”
Watching Akira as he immediately turned and started walking towards Sheryl’s base, Erio was dumbfounded as he followed Akira. He was still dazed from what he just heard. It seemed that his plea was heard and he now hoped that he would not get scolded by Sheryl later.
Katsuragi who watched this scene unfold in front of him thought that Akira did a great job in taming Erio.
Sheryl’s gang was doing good. After all, her gang members were basically the same gang members that were in Sibea’s gang. And the information that Akira who killed Sibea was supporting the gang was already well known among the people of the slum. Not to mention that the gang was able to get a steady flow of money and guns from Katsuragi. Adding up all of those factors together, people of the slum city already recognized that Sheryl’s gang was not just a gathering of slum kids, but a proper gang albeit a small and weak one.
When a small but weak gang appeared in the slum city, it was normal to expect that there would be people who wanted to join that gang. People like those who could not join any other gang because of some particular reasons or those people who were treated coldly in their current gang.
But there was also the fact that the boss, Sheryl, and the members who were running the gang, and even Akira, the one who was supporting the gang were all small children. Because of that, there was no adult who wanted to join Sheryl’s gang. As such, Sheryl’s gang became a unique gang in the slum city where all its members were small children.
Inside the base, Sheryl was talking with Alicia in a private room.
“How’s the cleanup in our territory? Is it going well? Did our gang get into any fights? After all, our territory should be a bit dirty right now, so it’s to be expected for some people to be displeased with us.”
All the gangs in the slum city had one extra job, and that was to clean up their territory with any trash and garbage.
Cleaning up one’s territory was very important in the slum city. Not only because it was an unwritten rule in the slum city, but also everything that a gang picked up during their clean up became that gang’s property. Although those were trash for the people who dumped them, most of them could still bring money for the people who lived in the slum city.
Anything that still could be of use would be kept, while any metal object found would be gathered together and sold as wreckages. Then anything that looked like repairable would be repaired and used or sold to other people. And the leftover would be dumped in the wasteland.
More than anything, cleaning up one’s territory showed everyone that you owned the territory.
Alicia begrudgingly recalled her conversation with her other friends that were on clean up duty.
“Hmmm. There’s quite a lot of people who complained about the number of corpses lying around. That’s all, I guess.”
“Well, that’s to be expected. After all, no one cleaned up around this area until recently.”
The slum city was riddled with robbers. Thus, it was common to find corpses of either the victims or the robbers or even both. Of course, if no one took care of those corpses, they would just be left there to rot. It was the job of the gang who owned that territory to clean up those corpses together with their personal belongings.
When Sibea was killed and the gang was disbanded. The territory was left unmanaged for a while. Thus, corpses piled up in the area since there was no one to clean up those corpses.
Sheryl then gave out orders just like usual.
“Just get rid of the bodies like usual. Clear them up from any personal belongings and store their stuff in the warehouse, then dump the rest in the wasteland. Also, give extra guns to the people who’re on duty to go to the wasteland.”
Carrying dead bodies to the wasteland was not an easy job. Since there was a chance for them to encounter monsters, it was important to arm them with proper equipment. Thanks to Katsuragi, Sheryl was able to obtain the minimum required equipment for traversing the wasteland.
Keeping one’s territory clean from any corpses also brought benefits to the gang. After all, the government only picked a clean area to distribute their free food rations. So keeping the area clean increased the chance for the area to be picked as the distribution place.
On the other hand, if corpses kept piling up in an area. The area would turn unhealthy and the government might decide to sterilize the area with fire. In order to prevent the unhealthy environment from spreading around and affecting the lower district, they would literally set the area on fire. They would burn down everything, the people, the building, simply everything without leaving anything behind.
Although the government always said that they had no other choice but to burn the area since such an environment would attract monsters, there were rumours that it was only an excuse that they used for pruning the population in the slum. Basically, a dirty territory was a likely target for this pruning.
Because of this, all the gangs in the slum city put their complete effort to keep their territory clean.
Alicia then carefully asked Sheryl.
“…Uhmm, Sheryl. About the number of the gang’s members, we got a lot of new members, right?”
“Is that so? I don’t think we have got enough members since we still can’t keep our territory properly cleaned though. But if you mean to say that it’s harder to take care of the gang compared to before, well, yeah, you’re right, we have got a lot of new members.”
It was her first time managing a gang. Although she slowly got used to it, she was not confident if she was doing it well.
“I’m thinking of selecting you and few other people to help me manage the gang, you know. But I’m still evaluating who to pick. I know that it won’t be easy, but do your best, okay?”
It would be impossible for Sheryl to directly manage everything in the gang and it would only get worse as her gang grew in size. But even so, she still needed more people to join her gang. So considering that fact, Sheryl thought that she should hurry up and decide the group of people that would help her manage the gang. And since she was good at managing a group, she did not worry about the problems that might arise from creating such a group.
But Alicia then continued in a vague way.
“Of course I’ll give my best in that too, but… That’s not what I meant… Uhh…”
“…Sheryl, do you think it’s okay to let Erio rejoin once we get some more members?”
Alicia was worried about Erio. She did try to stop him back then but Erio said that he did not have any other choice as he set off to the Kuzusuhara ruins.
Although Alicia understood that Sheryl might even banish her if Sheryl came to know that she gave one of the gang’s gun to Erio without permission, Alicia still gave it to Erio, hoping that he would be able to return back safely.
The reason why Alicia volunteered herself to help Sheryl manage the gang was also because it would make it easier for her to give some of the gang’s guns to Erio. Moreover, she thought that if she became useful to Sheryl, she might be able to change Sheryl’s opinion bit by bit.
But Sheryl’s face turned sour.
Although Alicia was staring at Sheryl with pleading eyes, Sheryl did not soften back at all as she continued.
“Just no, it hasn’t even been a month since that happened, you know? There’s no way I would let him join back in such a short time! Akira would visit this place regularly from now on, you know. So if he catches the sight of Erio, it might end up worse than having to banish him. And he might even get angry at the other kids too. Don’t you even understand that?!”
There was silence between them. Although she said that, both of them did not yield back. Sheryl then said coldly.
“If that’s all, then get back to work and cool your head off.”
Alicia then exited the room while hanging her head low.
Sheryl let out a sigh and stood up as she was about to head back to her work, but suddenly Alicia came running back to her.
“Sheryl! Erio is here.”
Sheryl glared at Alicia and said coldly.
“Kick him out. Alicia, you’re so obstinate. Just give it a rest already or…”
But then Alicia added to her report.
“…He has come here with Akira.”
Sheryl suddenly stiffened.
She then hurried to the room where Akira was waiting for her, but before she entered the room, she stopped near the door to check Akira’s mood. She then hid her sour feelings and entered the room. As she stepped into the room, she smiled at Akira while ignoring Erio who was sitting beside Akira and awkwardly looking at her.
“Welcome. Thank you very much for visiting us again today… Uhh, did Erio bother you again? Umm, please let me say this beforehand, Erio was banished from the gang since that happened. So if he did something to you, we have nothing to do with him anymore…”
In contrast to Sheryl who was trying to be as polite as possible in order not to ruin Akira’s mood, Akira replied to her casually.
“Yeah, that’s what I heard too. If it’s okay with you, can you let him rejoin the gang? Although, I’m totally fine if you’re not okay with it. After all, you’re the boss here.”
Sheryl was surprised when she heard Akira.
“Well… I don’t really mind if you say so, but… Are you really okay with that?”
“Yeah, after all, he helped me a bit with my work today.”
Sheryl was in no position to reject Akira. If Akira told her to banish someone, she would do it without any hesitation. It also meant that she would accept anyone to her gang if Akira told her to do so. Even if she found it strange or shocking, or even if she actually had some qualms in doing so, she would not do anything to ruin Akira’s mood. Sheryl then smiled fondly at Akira as she said.
“I understand. If that is the case, then I’ll accept him.”
Erio looked relieved as he let out a sigh. Alicia looked very happy when she heard that. While Sheryl was at a loss as to whether or not she should ask for the details. Akira then turned to Erio and said with a serious look.
“Erio, don’t say anything unnecessary to Sheryl. And Sheryl, don’t ask anything unnecessary to Erio. Okay?”
After hearing Erio answer back nervously and Sheryl who was smiling, Akira lightly nodded and said.
“That’s all for today. Later then.”
Akira then left the building.
Sheryl who was smiling all the time immediately changed to a puzzled look as she turned to Erio.
“So, what happened?”
Erio thought of telling Sheryl what happened, but he knew that he had to be careful not to tell her the complete details of the story. So Erio tried to be very careful with his words.
“…Things happened and Akira ended up saving my life. Then after that… Well, I had to help Akira… After I helped him, I begged him to help me talk with you to rejoin the gang. That’s all.”
Erio then recalled back what he just said to make sure that he did not say anything unnecessary.
“He saved your life, huh… How exactly did he…?”
Sheryl was about to ask for further details but stopped midway as she saw Erio desperately shaking his head.
“Please stop here. I don’t know what I should not reveal when Akira told me not to say anything unnecessary. If you ask me to tell you everything, I’ll just tell you everything from the start. But if Akira comes to know of it, I’ll tell him that you coerced me into telling the details, you know.”
Erio looked scared when he said that. It was so different compared to when he was trying to punch Akira.
Sheryl then asked Erio with a serious look.
“At least tell me this, Akira is not angry at you anymore, right?”
Erio went silent for a while as he seriously thought about the answer before opening his mouth.
“…I think it’s okay. If he wanted me dead, he would have left me to die.”
“I see. In that case, I’ll have you work right away. Make sure to watch over other kids so that they won’t do anything stupid like you. We have guns this time, so if that event repeats again, I’m afraid it won’t just end with Akira punching back.”
Erio replied back with a nod and a serious face.
“Roger that. After all, I don’t want to get into any more trouble too.”
Looking at how Erio’s behaviour changed 180 degrees, Sheryl really wanted to know what happened, but she just shut that feeling off for now. Alicia was so happy that Erio was back in the gang. And with Erio watching around, it was unlikely for anyone to do anything stupid like what he did back then. He could also be useful for telling the new members of his experience as he was someone who did it. That was what Sheryl thought as she stopped herself from digging any deeper into Erio’s story.
Sheryl thought that the same thing happened to Erio back then might also happen to her if she tried to pry further, so she closed the lid tightly on this matter.
Alicia smiled happily as she walked beside Erio.
“I’m really glad that you came back alive, Erio. Not to mention that you got to return back to the gang too. I don’t really understand what happened, but it’s all thanks to Akira, right?”
“Yeah, you’re right, he saved me back in the ruins.”
“I have to thank him properly myself later…”
As Erio looked at Alicia who was talking in such a happy mood, he remembered what happened to him back in the ruins. He was puzzled and thought.
[Now that I think about it, Akira was fighting the monsters back then as if he knew the location of those monsters from the start. He also sometimes turned to a direction where nothing was present… as if someone was beside him…]
Erio then remembered that Akira told him not to say anything unnecessary. Right when he remembered that, he suddenly felt an unknown terror as he shivered and froze.
Alicia looked puzzled when she saw that Erio suddenly stopped walking.
“Erio, what’s wrong?”
“Nah, it’s nothing.”
“Are you sure? Well, if you say so. By the way, you said that Akira saved you, so you were in danger, right? As I thought, did you get attacked by monsters and then get saved by Akira or something like-“
Erio cut her mid-way then looked at her with a serious face. While looking genuinely scared of something, he begged to Alicia who was surprised by his behaviour.
“I beg you. Please don’t ask me anything about that.”
Alicia flinched as she answered back and nodded firmly.
Erio finally realized what Akira meant when Akira warned him not to say anything unnecessary.
Erio shivered as he thought about the consequences if he said anything about that to other people. Then he thought about what would happen to Alicia if he told her about Akira. But just thinking about that made a chill run down his spine.
Looking at how Erio was behaving, Alicia worriedly asked him.
“Erio, are you really okay?”
Erio smiled to clear up Alicia’s worry as he replied back.
Erio then swore to himself to never reveal anything about Akira.