345 Raine From Now On?
I went to the hunter guild as told. It was just a stone throw away.
I opened the familiar door, and went to the trading counter.
The pelts were valued highly. It was barely damaged and quite large.
However, the valuer was doubting me, 'How'd you get your hands on something this magnificent'.
I made an excuse about having an urgent matter at home and ran away after receiving the cash.
Explaining the circumstances would take too long. I just can't afford that right now.
Even my steps back home were restless. Showing how distressed I was.
Forest Seekers are regarded as highly dangerous beasts even to veteran hunters, we tend to steer clear of them.
Even just one tiny mistake could get you surrounded by a pack before they gang you up to death.
You need to make careful preparations with traps and such to avoid that end.
And yet, he and the kids killed three Forest Seekers, even if their attentions were directed at me, using the absolute minimum amount of arrows.
"Haa. Just what's in store for me in the future?"
What came into my view as I entered my home was a luxurious meal. The rarely served Forest Seeker meat.
Neatly placed on plates wafting an appetizing scent mixed with spices.
"Alright, you're right on time. Folks, it's dinnertime."
He was teaching the kids how to cook while I was away.
(How do I express this complicated feeling I have in my heart?)
There's a huge table from who knows where along with a set of chairs, the kids are standing in a neat line behind them.
The kids only sat down after he did. As I was watching that absentmindedly, he called out to me.
"Have a seat. Let's eat. We've got a lot to talk about after all."
I finally came back to my sense. It's finally time to have the discussion. A discussion for the future I just can't bring myself be enthused of.
"Well, take your time enjoying your meal. Let's dig in."
The kids mimicked him as well before they started eating.
I felt weirdly discomposed by the scene.
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"How are these children so well coordinated? To begin with, why are they..."
I couldn't put all the 'anxieties' in my mind into words and instead asked about the kids first.
His reply didn't put me to ease.
"Beats me. Don't rush it, I'm gonna tell you everything in due time. You eat too."
I resigned and sipped my soup. The right amount of salt spread in my mouth, calming my nerves.
I thought to myself I should simply ask him after listening to his story since I couldn't sort out my own questions anyway.
His side of story was brief and summarized, but everything clicked now.
The kids are orphans. He's taking care of them until they become qualified hunters.
He's asking me to teach the kids my knowledge on the forest here to support their life style.
That was his entire reason to save me.
"I get the gist of things. I have no objection teaching them about the forest. Or rather, I don't think I have a choice here."
I have no right to, not after they saved my life.
"Oh and I plan to make my exit once I deem the kids have become capable enough. Raine, you'll be in charge of looking after them from then on."
"...Wha? ...What did you... Eh?"
I couldn't process what he said at all.
He added more to seal the deal.
"What's the hold up, they're your saviors, aren't they? I'm not telling you to provide for them. You're to work together with these kids."
"What's your goal... why...?"
"To be perfectly frank with you, there's nothing left for me to teach them on bow handling, blood draining, game processing, or simple cooking. No seriously, I can only laugh at these kids' incredible learning potential."
I recalled him mentioning it was the kids who killed those savage Forest Seekers.
"You're really going to...?"
This news shook my mind just after it had calmed down.
"Once you've taught these children all you know, the only thing left is to put it into practice. Slum dwellers they are, these kids are quite ravenous at what they do if it relates to their survival. They've got this abnormally high focus and learning capability in order to survive, see? Guess it's kinda like a special ability, or a talent born from environment? Well thanks to that, I don't have to make this long term, so it's all good."
I still couldn't swallow his words out of the blue.
Wonder if I'd understand what he meant once I started living with these kids? As my anxiety shot up again, I recurred.
"What are you telling me to do anyway? Working with these kids, are you serious..."
This hut is too cramped for all of us to live here, and I have no idea how to care for kids, he's being unreasonable.
However, he went to persuade the kids instead.
"Kids, listen. Obey what Raine tells you once I'm gone. She will be your mentor. I could only teach you how to shoot with a bow, but she knows how to live in the forest. From what I've seen, your skill with bows is already first rate. As such, I'm gonna make sure you're in good hands tomorrow before saying goodbye."
Panicking after hearing that, I tried to stop him.
"Ah hey! Hold it right there! Tomorrow!? Isn't thing going too quick!"
I don't know what kind of bond he has with the kids. However, my words couldn't reach them and their earnest gazes toward him.
He then spoke something completely unrelated as if my voice never reached him.
"Oh yeah, one thing's been bugging me. Raine, mind telling me how you came to be under attack by those Forest Seekers?"
As my confusion reached its peak from the sudden change of topic, I recounted what happened all the same.
I had no idea of knowing why he grimaced ever so slightly as he listened to my recollection.