30 Aryl's Perspective
I'm sure I was attacked.
But, I suddenly heard a young man's voice, then at the same time, 15 bandits got blown away.
I have no idea what happened.
But once I realized that none of them tried to get up or even let out a groan, I was flooded with relief.
(Am I saved...? But how?)
The young man checked out the surroundings.
But an unbelievable possibility came up on my mind.
(Asides from these bandits and me, the only other person here is this young man... Who showed up out of nowhere...?)
It's a process of elimination. All I could do was quivering in fear.
Then all the bandits got beaten down.
The only possible individual who could bring about this end result is this young man.
I said my thanks after thinking that far.
"T-thank you very much."
But I couldn't erase my doubt. How did he send all 15 men flying at the same time?
This completely ordinary looking young man...?...???
Black hair? Black eyes?
"These guys are all dead... What now?"
I replied to him calmly before it hit me.
"Eh? All of them? Dead? Eh?"
By this point, this whole thing flew way over my head.
I gave up trying to question it and just be glad I was saved.
But my thought process was delayed still.
I could only mechanically replied to the young man's question.
I pulled myself together when he started looting off the bandits and told me to 'Just talk casually'.
I said my thanks already, but I didn't have much on me.
Since he saved my life, I planned to compensate him no matter how much he demands.
You can't buy life with money.
Yet his reply left me agape.
"Eh? Ah, don't need it. Well then! Take care."
It was unexpected, no unimaginable.
There is simply no human in this world who would casually brush off rewards for 'Saving life'.
He even tried to quickly leave this place.
I can't let him.
I immediately asked him. To start with, where is he from, and where's he going?
I almost jumped when he said he was heading for the commercial city.
And asked if he would let me go with him.
So glad we were heading in the same direction.
I can't let him leave without rewarding him.
As a merchant, not as a human.
I introduced myself. So late.
I thought he was going to introduce himself, or give his name at least,
"Companies in travel and life."
A foreign phrase I had never heard before.
I didn't know how to respond and ended up stuttering.
We didn't exchange any word since we started walking, and just when I was getting worried I couldn't talk about his reward, I suggested us to take a break for lunch.
He agreed to it and sat down under a tree on the roadside.
I threw a daring question.
"Just who are you?"
It was very impolite of me, but I just couldn't think up any other question that would clear my doubt.
A mere villager who's good at hunting, he said.
Not just me, anyone would find that answer incredulous, not when he could beat 15 bandits instantaneously by himself.
But it seemed he didn't want to divulge further and asked me something instead.
So I thought I should talk about my personal history and pique his interest.
The topic came to him saving me when I was being attacked,
"I see you as my savior god has sent upon me."
I said that from the bottom of my heart.
On our way to the city, I talked about my ware.
I figured we'd [part ways] if I failed to get him interested even a bit.
'No need for reward'. I must do something to change that at least.
The air around him just shouted that.
"We'll be arriving soon. Are you all right carrying that much luggage? Should we take a break?"
I suggested us to take a break seeing as he was carrying a huge heap of items.
He had been steadily walking all the way here.
While carrying a load normally shared by multiple grown men, lightly at that.
That's just how abnormal it was.
Yet he replied back, worried about me instead.
"You want to rest a bit, Aryl?"
I had expected him to not sounding [Tired] at all, yet I somehow felt bad all the same.
As we lined up in front of commercial city's gate to wait our turn, I started wondering.
(He probably won't accept reward... Then I'll at least try to be useful in other ways. I'm sure he's going to get interrogated by the gatekeepers at this rate...)
The view was simply bizarre. Next to me is a young man standing while carrying a towering amount of baggage.
The glances around us are painful. We look way too suspicious.
I pulled myself together once it was our turn.
I gotta smooth things up.
I explained the situation to the guard.
Written contract of the empire's mercenary guild, how I was assaulted, how I was saved, the heap of loot from the bandits, how I would act as his guarantor, and my pass as well as ID.
In order to lessen the burden of my savior whose name is still a mystery to me, I tell everything that needs to be told.
(And the very last thing I could do is...)
I put on a smile during the interrogation in the hut.
To show how relieved I was for getting saved.
Since I knew it wouldn't be an intense interrogation, but a simple fact check with a witness around.
I also had information how the gatekeepers in this commercial city here isn't given a huge budget.
(Feel free to haggle it down. In fact, please do so they listen to my implicit request.)
"I have him hired as my bodyguard. Will you please let us go through? And could you purchase the bandits' belongings?"
When I offered them to buy the loot at a low price, their attitude instantly softened up.
"In exchange, please give him the permit to enter the city right away. I will act as his guarantor."
You'll get arrested without a permit, and it takes one day for the inspection and two silver coins to issue the permit usually.
I fear that we will part ways then, never to meet again.
I won't stand not repaying this debt.
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
The guard noticed that they wouldn't get another chance like this and hurriedly issued the permit.
I finally sighed in relief once they had it signed.
The young man thanked me, but I firmly said, 'I only did what's right'.
Still, I regretted offering the loot at too low a price. As a merchant.
We managed to get in the city. I followed behind him.
He was restlessly looking all over, worrying me a bit.
(Guess he really is from a village. I gotta act as a proper guide here. He's gonna get lost if I don't, for sure looking at him now.)
As his guarantor, and to repay my debt. I've got to do it right.
But I need him to accompany me somewhere first before I could take him on a tour around this city.
It's something that needs to be done.
"Will you go with me together to the mercenary guild?"
He replied with, 'Thank you'.
He must be feeling restless, I laughed a bit seeing him like that.
"Fufufu. I was the one getting saved you know? I should be the one doing the thank you."
Afterward, he told me how he wanted me to teach him common sense.
I readily agreed, that's not even sufficient as his reward.
When I asked him, where to start? I almost couldn't believe my ears.
I'm a merchant. I can talk about money all day long.
But even I was surprised to hear him asking about standard of value.
The young man was self sufficient and never left his village even once. 'I guess that does happen', I thought as I gave him the answer while swallowing the urge to ask back.
You can buy a meat skewer for two-three dimes.
One copper coin is enough for a lunch meal.
One silver coin lets you stay in an inn, two nets you a good one.
Commoners rarely ever deal with gold and platinum coins, even my master only handled silver coins and below.
The guild's signboard came into view while we were talking.
I asked him to be my witness while I handle the procedure.
The receptionist greeted us as we entered, at this point, a greenhorn I am, I was still seething with [Rage]
"I commissioned someone from mercenary guild to escort me from the empire to this town. I would like to claim insurance money and settlement."
The staff members may have only done their job as described, but it was a matter of life or death to me.
I couldn't hold myself back from the extreme gap.
(You've got to suppress your emotion in business. And yet...)
The lobby went quiet when the receptionist left to call the person in charge.
A sonorous voice reached my ears just as I was about to calm down.
"I would like to hear more detail in a room in the back. I hope you understand, if you'd please over here."
An individual whom I saw once before in the past showed up.
When I was acting as a chaperone for my master and came here, he had a meeting with this man.
Guildmaster. In the flesh.
I was getting more and more nervous on our way to the room.
I figured this matter was just that [Grave].
I regained a grip on myself as we entered the room.
(I can't let myself be taken lightly or behave too modestly... I've no choice but to speak the truth...)
With that resolve, I went straight to my chair. I decided to keep on with the [Rage] and push through.
But that resolve loosened up a bit. Due to the tea brought over.
I realized that was a top grade tea as I calmed down a bit.
(Looks like this matter is really being taken seriously here...)
They served a tea this luxurious. An implicit way of muzzling.
This is something beyond a novice peddler.
No choice but to tell it like it is.
I kept talking for a while without interruption.
The guildmaster listened attentively.
As for my savior, he's spacing out while sipping his tea.
(A tepid face even in this situation. Would a mere villager be this unabashed. Just who is this guy really?)
After I was done, the guildmaster explained their circumstances.
It was a piece of info I had grasped to a degree as well. Although I never imagined it would get this serious.
I almost lost my life because I didn't think through about that information.
I focused on listening intensely. And that was when the young man was brought into the conversation.
I had a cold sweat running down back as he gave his side of story after the initial, 'Eh?' respond.
There was no [Ambush].
I wasn't in a state to [Support] him either, nor was there any opportunity to in that instance.
That was something completely detached from [Too focused to notice] or [Luck].
I had no idea why would he lie needlessly and could only try my best to look natural.
Lastly when he was asked his name, I couldn't believe it when he flat out refused, 'I'm not worthy enough to name myself.'
Is there some sort of deep reason for it?
My mind was in disarray but a word from the guildmaster brought me back.
"Then so be it."
Regardless of who he is, he's saved my life and even accompanied me here, so I can tell his character.
He must be a [kind] man. Knowing that alone is enough.
I let out a long sigh after the guildmaster left the room.
Then I asked him something as an opening to ask why he lied.
"I'm amazed you could act so calmly..."
I explained to him why. That was the guildmaster here.
It's not like he knows that, and to begin with, it's got nothing to do with him. I recalled his reply. He had never left his village even once before, so his standard is slanted from the norm.
I get it but I can't really accept it, so I could only grumble at the conflicting emotion.
Then he asked me to do something.
Please don't spread what he did.
I don't get it. But he gave an explanation.
He doesn't want to stand out. Black hair, black eyes.
He attracted many glances even during our way here. If this matter became public, he would get dragged into trouble. I get his reason.
I used this chance to ask him back. Name. I must know his name at least.
But I had to give up after the second refusal. He only wanted me to teach him general knowledge, so I complied.
But I insisted to reward him for saving my life.
Our conversation was cut when someone knocked the door.
Then a sack of money comprised of security money, settlement and request fee refund all at once was put on the table.
In silver coins, usually reserved for big business dealings. This makes it all clear.
It's a hush money. For sure.
"T-there's no problem."
I replied back while quivering at this truth.
Fearing for assassination attempts in the future.
No, there's no way the famous mercenary guild would do that... so I thought, but we live in a world where a lone girl missing is not even newsworthy.
A scandal would have been a far bigger matter to guild bigwigs.
However, at this point I didn't realize that I was just reading too much into it.
After we left, I spoke my worry out loud in front of the receptionist counter.
"I didn't think they'd give this much... Oh what should I do..."
And that was when he blurted, "Wonder how much is the price of life in this world?", next to me.
There is no shame or dishonor in trying to persevere your life.
He already saved me once. Though I still can't tell how he did it.
The one who annihilated 15 bandits was likely him as well.
He might be willing to help if I asked.
It all now rest on whether I could convince him or not. I can't pay my debt if I'm dead.
"Would you be willing to work as my bodyguard?"
I decided to ask him straight up.