Ever since I acquired Human Form (Wonderful) and continued with my evolution, the faithful recreation of my real body — which used to be tiny due to the malnourishment — had now gotten a lot more meat on it. My height had shot up to about 155 centimeters. I looked like a middle-schooler.
I guess it’s not surprising he didn’t believe me when I said I was just eleven…
“But I guess I’m going to be twelve soon?”
“Yeah, that’s right, gotta be it.”
“About half a year later?”
“God damn, you really are just a kid!”
I had no idea whether he wanted me to be a kid or an adult. He needed to make up his mind already.
This was the powerful presence that I detected, the one with high magic. The guy looked to be in his mid-thirties, with short-cut black hair, golden eyes, and a lot of muscles. The very moment I first saw him, I threw out an immediate Identification, but for some reason the skill was obstructed. I couldn’t get a clear look at his combat power.
Either he had an item to rein in his presence and interfere with other people’s perception, like me, or there was another power at work… like, say, a blessing upon him.
Anyway, so I wanted to meet him because of his strength, but then it turned out I couldn’t really figure it out. And then he just started his lecture, plus it seemed he’s just going to be a pain in the ass, so I decided I didn’t want anything to do with him.
“Well then, thank you, and excuse me-” I mechanically said and got ready to leave, but was interrupted.
“Hold on a minute.”
He was about to grab me from behind. I hastily blocked.
“Heey, that’s some good reflexes. You’re gonna be a great adventurer one day, kid.”
“…I am one.” At least that’s what my cover was.
Seemed like a nice guy, if a bit scary-looking. Still, I felt like we were people from different worlds. I just… didn’t want to be near him.
“Even the crowd isn’t a safe place for young ladies, much less alleyways. Come on, I’ll tag along until you get to the guild.”
“No need to be so reserved, girl. You’re an unfamiliar face. First time here? Oh, don’t worry about it, it’s where I’m going anyway.”
“Ook.” Panda tapped my shoulder, telling me to take the opportunity to get a guide.
The man’s clearly one of the good guys. I supposed I shouldn’t be making trouble here, considering all I had was a baseless feeling of discomfort.
“Name’s Gold. Nice to meet you!”
“Nice country, isn’t it. Everyone’s so energetic, so full of smiles!”
On our way to the adventurer’s guild, Gold acted the part of a tour guide for me, the newcomer to the city.
Here and there were statues of the first-generation hero and fountains spewing endless water, all created from mana.
Gold attracted quite a few people coming to talk to him just by walking around town, and he always replied with a smile.
“And then evil appeared to threaten this peace. I don’t know what thoughts drove the Dark Lady to destroy the Saplings and sow such chaos, but I can’t forgive her.” Gold clenched his fists in apparent outrage.
I supposed to the humans of this world, world peace was really synonymous to nothing but human happiness, then.
“…what if she had a reason?”
“Impossible. Look at them, Shedy. What else could be more precious than the smiles of these people?”
I had to wonder if he was really looking. Behind the humans’ cheer, did he see the stick-thin dwarves lifelessly, mindlessly swinging their hammers in the forges? Did he see the beastman girls, virtually naked, being forced to dance for their whole lives?
Precious things, huh… I supposed so. Different people valued different things, after all.
The adventurer’s guild wasn’t all that far away. Gazes fell upon us as soon as we entered. For a short moment, a few looks of suspicion were aimed at me. I thought trouble would be finding me soon, but once they realized Gold was there, most of them turned friendly.
“That’s the reception. Just tell them my name, they’ll pick out a nice request for beginners. I have a special request, so we’ll part ways here.”
“Special request?” Hearing the unfamiliar term, I let slip a mutter.
Gold seemed to have finally settled on treating me as a child — he leaned in close, speaking as if he was colluding with a kid for secret conspiracies.
“Keep it a secret, alright? So there’s a huge wasteland between this Torrann Caliphate and the Savanhuit Republic to the south. The Dark General called the Troll King and his minions had been inhabiting the area since long ago, and they’d apparently been showing up near highways. Then a few adventurers poked at them, and now the trolls are actually starting to get on the highway and attack carriages.”
“Yeah, those guys. The ones getting preferential treatment by the Temples. There’d been a lot more of them recently.”
I moved only my eyes to follow Gold’s gaze. At a table in a corner of the guild, a few young adventurers were hanging out, seemingly being shunned by the rest.
…they were players. It’d be a different story if it was another country, one where the Temples held some measure of power, but this place revered heroes. The Temples didn’t seem to have much influence here. And so, with all the trouble players often got up to, they became targets of displeasure by the other adventurers.
“So you see, Shedy, remember, avoid those guys.”
Then Gold left, a receptionist guiding him deeper into the building.
I didn’t think I’d hear about the Dark Generals that were mentioned in my Dark Lady explanation text here.
The Troll King, was it? I didn’t know how powerful Dark Generals could be, but considering Gold said it was a special request, they should at least be quite a dangerous threat to human settlements.
“…tsk, damn fucker making fun of us.”
A voice reached my ears. It came from the group of players I’d been paying a bit of attention to.
The players were supposed to be playing a game, so I was curious why they were still staying in this country. I focused a bit more on their direction, and I heard something interesting.
“Come on, Cardi, let’s give up already. That’s too many mobs for us to handle.”
“Fucking hell, didn’t you see how they made fun of us? We can’t leave like this.”
“Yeah, I know, but look at them. One high-ranked troll had at least 3000 combat power. Just ten of them would be enough to overwhelm us.”
“Hero or not, no one fucking gets to lecture me. I’ll show him, one way or another.”
“Whaat? We gonna MPK again? Heheheh!”
I see. So to summarize: they had meddled with the trolls and led the monsters closer to the town; they got reprimanded by the supposed hero in this country; and then instead of having a rematch with the trolls to redeem themselves, they saw they were outmatched and decided to sabotage other people instead.
Each one of them only had around 1500 combat power, so I understood how unwinnable their rematch would be… but… hadn’t I heard that name somewhere? Cardi, Cardi… who was he?
And ‘MPK’… if I remembered correctly the lesson before I came to this world, it meant to lead monsters toward someone else and foist the problem on them.
Were they not even aware they were plotting? They didn’t even bother censoring themselves. Yet the other adventurers just ignored them, seemingly not bothering to listen to the words of idiots, or perhaps thinking it was just the puerile nonsense of children.
Oh well, if they really tried to do anything, somebody would be tattling on them to the guild. I wondered what would happen to them, then.
If they got a long jail sentence for their crime, they’d get their characters deleted, right? In that case… they shouldn’t mind helping me out a bit before they disappeared.
I quietly approached. “Hey.”
“Whaa?! The fuck are you?” Cardi, or whatever the thuggish player’s name was, raised his head.
I put on an unpracticed smile and whispered.
“I have something interesting for you… wanna hear about it?”