However, the growth of a hunter’s physical ability status is largely dependent on the Fungal Class, but there is no data on this in the case of my case. And when I realized it, I was one foot in the brain-muscle type.
As for me, I was hoping to be a “speed-type”, which is common in “manga” but this is something that can’t be helped. It’s not something I can directly control.
“Anyway, I gained a lot of experience in actual competition during the week, and my level has gone up one notch. I think we’re all ready for the real thing, right?” (Shuu)
“Yes, that’s right!” (Noa)
“Squeak, very squeak!” (Shuu)
How can we become as strong as possible in a short period of time to prepare for the upcoming big tournament? A week ago, we came to Ikebukuro to have Giran train us in order to hone our skills against other people.
It was the first time for me and Tamiko to visit Ikebukuro and the first time for us to explore the Tribe’s territory. We were just walking around the town, which was a little older than Sugamo, feeling like tourists when we ran into Giran at the guild branch office.
And so began the Hakuou Maria special training camp. During the day, we hunted Metro Beasts, and at night we had mock battles against Giran and Kure at the same time. The training was as hard as a university athletic team’s schedule, and the students were able to hone their skills.
Giran was in a serious attack mood, and Kure was looking for a different way to attack me. It was extremely difficult to get past both of these skilled fighters at the same time, but if I couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t be able to compete with Hakuou Maria’s main skill [Makina, the Magic Woman]. The continuous attack on the Behemoth, where I was called “Blocker Shuu,” was part of this training, and it was no longer a form of training, but rather a form of abuse.
Even in Outsuka Metro, I had never trained so hard in such a short period of time. The Spartan werewolf chastised me repeatedly, and I couldn’t help but remember how painful it was to “grow and be angry”. How many times did I wish to go back to Sugamo?
And yet—somehow, I made it through the week. The results are my level up and the evolution of my Fungal Skill also came with the week. I felt a sense of accomplishment.
“–well, you’ve been waiting for me.” (Shuu)
Noa and Kure return with bowls of steaming bowls. The menu for lunch was suiton soup with Gaki meat and wild plants (a recipe from Kaya in Rikugi Village), fried wild plants and mushrooms, and tempura made of dried sweet potato. The “It’s all so yummy!” echoed through the caves.
“By the way, frankly speaking, Mr. Giran, do you think I have a chance to win now?” (Shuu)
“…Honestly, a week ago, you would have had little chance of winning. But now I believe that you can do it if you can time your ‘secret’ weapon right.” (Giran)
The odds were still against me.
But I still have a good feeling about the situation. I am proud of the fact that I have done all I can do.
All that remained was to put it all to the test to the best of my ability.
“Now then, my level has risen at the end, so it’s a little early, but let’s head to the surface after eating. We should be able to return to Ikebukuro tonight.” (Giran)
“Ugh… Tamiko, why are you even nibbling on my tempura?” (Shuu)
The cave echoes with “Hey! I’m still eating!”
“Noa, thank you for the meal. It was delicious as always.” (Shuu)
“Oh, yes. Please leave it to me.” (Noa)
The profile view of Noa washing the dishes with the water is her usual self. Only on the surface.
She herself does not know about the conversation between Sparkle inside her and her companions. We did not tell her about it either. She has been “in a tense mood for days, and I guess she let out all her anxieties and stuff, and then she loosened up and was more relaxed.”
For her, nothing had been resolved about the sudden changes, but I forced her to accompany us on this training. I also thought it would be better for her to exercise and vent rather than worry about things.
By the way, Utsuki is staying at home, saying, “It’s been a while since I’ve been back in a clean house, so let me enjoy it a little more.” I made her know that if she brought a man into our house, she would be permanently banned, and I see a 50-50 chance of that happening.
As I had hoped, Noa’s mood gradually improved while she was busy in the metro. She is a highly ambitious hunter by nature, and it seems that she has become more proactive in utilizing her newfound abilities. Sparkle has not appeared in front of the group since then.
However—how long can I keep it hidden? I can’t keep it hidden from her forever.
There will surely come a time when I will have to tell her everything. How will she take it?
“-I think your decision was not a mistake.” (Giran)
As if he had read my mind, Giran speaks to me in a whisper.
“I don’t know if it was the right decision or not. We’ll have to wait and see. But… as long as you’re trying to protect her, I’m on your side too. You don’t have to carry too much on your shoulders alone.” (Giran)
I chuckle. It was a line I had heard somewhere before.
“Um, Mr. Giran.” (Shuu)
“I’ve never had a chance to hear about Noa’s life story or the relationship between Mr. Giran and Noa. Why are you so protective of Noa?” (Shuu)
Mr. Giran pauses as if choosing his words, then rubs his whiskers, which has grown from side to side, with the palm of his paw.
“…not so much about herself, but about her great-grandfather and my relationship.” (Giran)
“Noa’s great-grandfather? He’s already dead, isn’t he?” (Shuu)
“Yeah… I killed him with my own hands during the coup eight years ago.” (Giran)
I gasp. It’s so sudden that it takes a while for the words to sink into my brain.
“Um… that’s-” (Shuu)
“Mr. Shuu?” (Noa)
Noa is standing behind us. Mr. Giran and I jump back in a panic, but from the look on her face, it seems she didn’t hear us.
“We’re leaving soon, aren’t we? Both of you get ready. Make sure you don’t forget anything.” (Noa)
“”Uh, yeah.”” (Shuu & Giran)
When I was about to ask Mr. Giran to continue, I saw Kure trying to snatch my pants, which had been washed and hung out to dry. He defended himself saying, “I was just trying to get them washed and folded for you!” I ignored his defense and begin with my final training session.
I wanted to ask him about the rest of the story, but he said, “It’s a long story. We’ll talk about it over a drink after the festival.” Soon after, we departed for the surface.
The journey was a bit of a blur due to the serious face of the werewolf who made me hear, “I killed him” and “it’s a long story,” but my anguish was purged as we silently climbed the long, long staircase like pilgrims, all sweating, “Fight!” “Oh! and “Oh!” to each other as we continued to raise our legs.
By the time we reached the entrance, it was nighttime, and we went straight to an inn on the estate and fell asleep. The softness of the bedding after a week’s absence does not even allow me to dream.
The next morning. July 22, only two days to go until the tournament.
The creatures, both graduates of Outsuka Metro, were eager to go sightseeing in Ikebukuro and enjoy the famous garlic ramen after their visit to Ikebukuro, but Noa grabbed us by the neck and said, “We have to get back to Sugamo early,” so we had to leave. We were told that “crocodile buses take extra time because the streets are so crowded,” so we decided to walk those hours to Sugamo on foot.
As Noa had said, the road was jammed with horse-drawn carriages and ostriches, and the progress was sluggish, as if it were a high-speed train on a consecutive holiday weekend. We arrived at Sugamo before noon and breathed a sigh of relief.
“The pre-meeting for participants in the tournament starts in the evening, so we didn’t have to rush back that quickly, did we?” (Shuu)
I was a resentful 130-year-old who wanted to eat ramen.
“What are you talking about?” said Noa. “Didn’t we hear they’d be arriving around noon today?”
“Oh, oh. Yeah, that’s right.” (Shuu)
I know, I was just testing you.
The main street to the west is so crowded that the carriages can’t go on. Instead of stopping at a house, I followed the flow of people and headed toward the Chou District. I wade through the crowd of what looks like a parade of Olympic athletes to get to the front of the line of spectators lining the street in front of the City Council building. It’s a bit ill-mannered, but I have to watch the parade out of pity, so I hope they’ll forgive me.
Soon, a trumpet-like sound echoes through the summer sky.
The crowd cheered.
(…Is that a limousine?) (Shuu)
Slowly emerging from the south street was a huge wheeled car with six wheels and tires. Its pitch-black body reflected the sunlight. Around it were men dressed in black suits who looked like guards.
The man riding in that vehicle is the man who rules this country.
He is the head of the government of New Tokyo, the Governor of Tokyo.
The limousine stops in front of the capitol building, and the back door is opened by the black-clad man.
A/N: Shuu: 70 to 71 Tamiko: 43 to 44 Noa: 30 to 31
Kure: 51 to 52 Giran: 72 to 73