Volume 4, Chapter 18: Search for a Guide

“I’m sorry, Leo-san.”

Sarah, who previously seemed enthusiastic about finding us a guide, entered the room alone with a sullen expression on her face.

“You couldn’t find us a guide?”

“Actually…Daniel heard about it and told any guide interested that he doesn’t believe you deserve to be rank A.”

The moment she said his name I remembered the face of the man that caused us problems when we first came to the Guild.

“So, any guides that were interested are now declining.”

“I see….”

That guy is really getting on my nerves — although, I guess if I’m really not skilled enough to be rank A, our entire party would be killed in the forest.

It’s not like what Daniel is doing is bad. It’s just an annoyance.

I could say that I am actually Leon Grances or that Sophia and Alice were students at Muhle.

Or it may be easier to just prove my ability by challenging Daniel to a fight.

…that’s right. I haven’t shown off my ability to many people but I have no reason to hide it, and this may be the quickest solution.

The royal road event that Alice mentioned earlier popped back into my mind….

“Sarah-chan, where is Daniel?”

“Daniel-san left somewhere after spreading that rumour about you.”

“Hmm….”

Then, I could fight someone of equal rank that’s still here…I don’t know of anyone else that would work.

Both Max and Melissa have left…. In order to prove my strength, I might have to pick a fight with a stranger.

Ah, mou~, I wish I had just listened to Alice and done the royal road event when we first came here.

“Leo-san, I actually have an idea.”

“An idea?”

“Yes. I actually know a girl that used to live in one of the villages in the forest near here. She’s familiar with the forest and I can vouch for her abilities as a guide.”

“And this girl hasn’t heard about the rumours?”

“There’s a chance she has heard of them, but she has debts and takes care of her younger brother. If you offer a large enough advance payment, she won’t refuse.”

“…are you saying she’s prepared to die…?”

If my rank is false, she could die in the forest, but her brother could live comfortably off the advance payment.

“That girl has prepared herself to die.”

Sarah then looked around and whispered, “But you can’t let her die, Leon-sama.”

“Don’t worry. If it’s Leon, a Lyk Skull Bear won’t be a problem.”

“She’s right. Leon onii-chan is reliable.”

The people that responded were Alice, a talented spirit mage, and Sophia, a girl skilled in close combat. Both of them would be stronger than me.

Well, if this thing is just a really strong bear, I think I should be able to manage.

“Then, please hire this girl, Leo-sama. She’ll help you out and the money will be a big help to her and her brother. Sounds good for everyone, right?”

“I don’t have a problem with that if you say this girl is knowledgeable enough to guide us, and if it will help her out, I can pay even more.”

“No, the price right now should be more than enough. After all, I told you earlier that she had prepared herself to die — actually, I said I knew this girl, but we’re actually friends that grew up in the same village. She’s like a little sister to me. So, when I say you can count on her, you know you can trust me.”

“…eh, little sister? Does that mean she’s around ten years old…?”

Sophia and Claire were both strong when they were that young, so it’s not like I doubt her abilities…but I’m not sure if she’d be physically capable of guiding us through the forest.

However, Sara-chan just laughed at my question.

“She’s one year younger than me, one year older than you, Leo-san. She’ll be seventeen this year.”

“…what? Wait a minute. If she’ll be seventeen, that means you’re eighteen, Sarah-chan!?”

I can’t believe that. Sarah leaned forward and held her finger over her lips. She then said, “It’s a secret so I can continue working at the young girl cafes,” and showed a mischievous smile.

…seriously. No matter how I look at her, she can’t be older than twelve or thirteen.

Regardless of me actually being much older than I look, this girl is nearly twenty and looks like a young child. Sophia also looks young for her age, but…Sarah takes it to the extreme.

“I noticed that right away.”[Sophia]

“Eh, really?”

“Yep, but I figured I’d let Sarah-chan tell you if she wanted.”

I know Sarah was the one that recommended that restaurant to Sophia, but why would she want to protect her age…. When I think about it, Sophia is similar to Sarah in that she looks like a young girl.

Did she do it because they’re alike…?

I thought maybe she told Alice about it, but when I looked at her she just shook her head. Instead, she said,

“Leon, why do you think Sarah was assigned to work at the Guild instead of going to Muhle Academy?”

“…ah, I see.”

Even if she looks like a loli, she’s over eighteen and therefore doesn’t meet Crane’s criteria.

In other words, Crane is a genuine lolicon. He’s not interested in legal lolis.

I solved the mystery, but…I wish I hadn’t.

“So, where can I meet this girl?”

“You can find her –”

Sarah said a familiar name.

— We arrived in front of a familiar local restaurant we were at not long ago. The girl Sarah recommended to us as a guide was the waitress we had met earlier in the day. Remy.

We tried to enter but Daniel came out of the door before us.

“…so you came here after all. I came here just in case but it looks like it was the right decision.”

“You…I’m guessing you told Remy about me.”

“I don’t care if it causes problems for you. I would never be able to forgive myself if I let someone die when I could’ve stopped it.”

“I see….”

It’s clear that he dislikes me but he’s also genuinely worried about the guides. There was obvious sorrow etched on his chiselled face.

It’s possible this guy was a member of one of the villages Crane abandoned. If so, I can understand why he hates nobles just like Rick.

…well, that has nothing to do with me and now doesn’t seem like the time to ask him. If we were at the guild, I could fight him to prove my strength…but it would be pointless here.

Thinking about this, I stopped talking to Daniel and tried to enter the restaurant. However, he held his hand out to stop me.

“Oi, are you still going to ask Remy? If you’re planning on taking her forcibly, you may want to rethink that.”

“Don’t worry. I only plan on asking if she’ll be our guide. Even if she declines, I have no intention of forcing her to do anything.”

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I gave Daniel an honest response.

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“…hmm. That’s good if you’re telling the truth. If not, be prepared to suffer the consequences.”

“Sure.”

After hearing my reply, Daniel turned and walked down the road. I entered the restaurant, now even more motivated to get Remy to be our guide.

“– I won’t let you take my sister!”

The moment I entered, Rick ran up to me and punched me.

…again?

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