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Noa produces a string of hypha, and I bind the limbs and mouths of the bandits. Konno, who is in the back of the truck, pulls them up. Tamiko, who has become bored with her work, sits on the partition in the back of the truck and watches over us working.
If there is a guy who wakes up on the way, she hit them and knows them back to sleep. Tamiko’s conscience isn’t affected by that.
“That string thing is very useful, isn’t it?” (Konno)
“It’s the Fungal Skill [White String]. It’s not really suited for combat.” (Noa)
“But I think it’s suitable for a hunter’s job, but I feel like I can do business with that alone.” (Shuu)
“Because it is a hypha string, it will decay in about an hour.” (Noa)
“Oh, that’s right.” (Shuu)
The same goes for swords and shields. If there were no such restrictions, I thought I could create a weapon shop on the surface, but the world is not that nice.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Ikari. I know you’re in the right.” (Shuu)
“Mr. Abe is a kind person, huh?” (Noa)
“No, umm… I think it’s not so much about kindness but my petulance.” (Shuu)
“…do you think I’m a terrible, murderous person, Mr. Abe?” (Noa)
I stopped my hands and raised my face. Noa is looking straight at me.
“That guy had a Fungal Skill. He attacked me with the same [dagger] as mine. I couldn’t afford to catch him alive… That’s an excuse I thought about later.” (Noa)
“I see.” (Shuu)
The body was certainly holding the same hypha knife as Noa.
“The fact remains that I killed him… In your world, am I a murderer just like them?” (Noa)
“No, I don’t think so. Really.” (Shuu)
Noa is a good kid. And she is serious. I think she has the will to see the right in the values of this world.
She just rejected the attackers according to her will. As a hunter.
I don’t think I have the right to say anything about it, at least not from the sidelines.
It’s a logical result, but if you look at it from an emotional point of view, it’s true that I was in a bit of a shock, but even so, I couldn’t hate Noa. I know that she is not the kind of person who would do such a thing for pleasure, even though we have only known each other for a day.
Or, if it had been me a hundred years ago, if I had not spent five years crawling through a bloody hell, I might have felt differently.
In that sense, I am no longer the same person who can judge by the values of those days.
“My great-grandfather used to say, ‘In the old world, life was valued much higher than it is today. Like a bird in a nest, like a jewel in a treasure chest.’” (Noa)
“I agree.” (Shuu)
“Death is near and dear to the hunter’s heart. It’s scary, but it’s something we have to accept. But for my great-grandfather’s sake, I have to live. That is why… I will continue to kill those who try to kill me. Still… will you not despise me for that?” (Noa)
I scratched my head and nodded a few times.
“No, I won’t despise… you at all. If Tamiko or Ms. Ikari were in danger, I’d do it too, I think. Life has the same priority for me, both now and in the past. I will still be scared if that actually happened.” (Shuu)
If I could, I would be sorry, but it seems that the world is not peaceful enough for me to say such a thing.
“Rather, I think I was prepared to do that in this world. Yeah. So, just in case something like that happens, I have to make sure I don’t get scared. So that when I have to protect Ms. Ikari and Tamiko, I won’t get lost.” (Shuu)
Noa’s cheeks were faintly tinted, and she looked down in embarrassment.
“…Thank you. Just Noa is fine.” (Noa)
This time, she blushed. In a world like today, never have I thought that a beautiful high school girl will ask me to call her by her name.
Suddenly, my eyes meet Tamiko’s, who is resting on her cheekbones in the back of the truck. She has a somewhat baleful expression.
“Abeshuu I didn’t know you have that kind of habit, squeak, but you are a squeak of a manwh*re aren’t, cha?” (Tamiko)
“I told you before, but your mother has taught you a lot of strange words.” (Shuu)
We finish loading the six into the back of the truck. Some of them are awake and flailing about, but they are tied so tightly together with the sturdy string made by Noa that it would be impossible to untie themselves by only the strength of their arms. I give them a punch to the solar plexus to stop them from moving.
“I was surprised at how weak these guys were. I’m not sure if they’ve even leveled up enough to be bandits. Can’t they even use their Fungal Skills?” (Shuu)
If they can use Fungal Skills, I will not be relieved even in their restrained state.
“Um… Ms. Tamiko, can you see their level?” (Noa)
“A little bit… around 3 to 5, squeak. (Tamiko)
“After all, everyone is a [Peasant] except the one I killed.” (Noa)
“No matter how hard they try, their level cap is 10, and they can’t use any Fungal Skills. In the first place, there are only a small number of people who will fall to the level of banditry in among other Fungal Class other than [Peasant].” (Noa)
“Hmm… So, what are Fungal Classes? I’ve heard you talk about my Fungal Class before. What about the [Master Threadweaver]?” (Shuu)
“Well, that’s…” (Noa)
“That’s it you guys—” said Konno in the back of the car. “Can we start going now? No matter how many lives we waste time in such a place–” (Konno)
A shiver runs up and down my spine.
A presence breaking through into the range of my [Sensory Spores].
A moment faster than the reaction, Noa who was in front of me was snatched at a speed that left an afterimage.
A shabbily dressed man slides roughly to the edge of the road and slams on the brakes.
Both arms were missing from his elbows. He is bandaged and has what looks like hooks or claws attached to him. He is holding Noa by his side.
He clamps Noa’s neck between his elbows and squeezes, and she collapses helplessly. The man grins at me.
“Hey, you’ve responded to my movements. No wonder my boys can’t stand up to you.” (Kidnapper)
He also has [Enhanced Leaping Ability]. That’s why he snatched Noa from the side in an instant. The narrow range of the [Sensory Spores] outdoors has become a problem.
“Hey! Give her back!” (Shuu)
I tried to fight back using [Enhanced Leaping Ability], but before I could, the man spits out something from his mouth. The moment it touches the ground, puff! Then smoke spreads everywhere.
(Smoke screen!) (Shuu)
It doesn’t matter, even if I can’t see, I have the [Sensory Spores]. At the same time, I feel a numbing pain in my eyes and nose.
(This smoke is poisonous!) (Shuu)
“Hee-hee. I’ll be waiting for you at my hideout, and if you want him back, come alone. See ya later.” (Kidnapper)
“Waa-it a min–!” (Shuu)
I ignored the smoke and tried to chase after him, but I heard Tamiko and Konno coughing from behind me, and when I was distracted by them, the man disappeared from the range of my [Sensory Spores].
The smoke cleared. The man and Noa are gone.
“…Damn it!” (Shuu)
Shuu slammed his foot against the pavement with a bang. The paving stones of the road break with a dull crack.
The smoke’s toxin, perhaps due to my [Regenerative Mycelium], dissipates without much ill effect in my body. I gave Tamiko and Konno each an [Antidote Ball], and they too quickly recover.
When I throw them into Wanyuudous’s mouth, which also cracked open, they let out a low growl of “boohoo!” Both express their gratitude with a low growl. If you look closely, you can see that the eyes and nose are just patterns, making the face look like a human’s face, which seems to be a simulacra simulation, but when I feed them like this, they look a little cute, which is weird.
“OK. Tamiko, I’ll chase after them. I’ll rescue Noa.” (Shuu)
“Wait a minute. brother. Don’t say stupid things, you should go back to town and call for help.” (Konno)
“Why? I don’t have a lot of time.” (Shuu)
His tone becomes a little strained.
“You saw that guy, right? Udeochi, that one’s a former hunter. He’s not the same as the lowlifes lying around here.” (Konno)
“Former hunter?” (Shuu)
“That’s the result of a wicked hunter who had his arms cut off and banished for his misdeeds. If you lose your arm, you lose most of your abilities, right? And then they throw you in the Metro, which was the execution method used by some tribes until recently. He’s a demon who survived.” (Konno)
“I see.” (Shuu)
A demon, even. I’m a little scared.
Tamiko scurried over to my shoulder.
“Tamiko, can you follow their scent and sound?” (Shuu)
“I’ll try, squeak.” (Tamiko)
“Hey, hey, hey, didn’t you hear? It’s not safe to go alone. He must be the leader of the gang, and he might have others in his hideout.” (Konno)
“I heard that. To tell you the truth, it’s scary…” (Shuu)
I’m even more pissed off than that.
Noa was snatched right in front of me. I let that man slip away.
I am angry not only at his victorious smiling face, but most of all, I am angry at myself.
I was careless. I was overconfident in my own strength.
I defeated the Boss Slime that no one could touch, saved Noa from a Catoblepas on the 20th floor, and easily drove away a gang of bandits. I was overconfident that my power would be enough to move this world.
“I’m a little scared, but I’m even more pissed off than that… I’m afraid my brain is going to boil over if I don’t do something. I’ll save Noa, I promise.” (Shuu)
Konno laughs in disbelief.
“I understand. I’ll turn them over to the military police in Sugamo, and then I’ll tell them about you. Maybe the military police or hunters will make a move. It’s nighttime and outside the city, so it might be hopeless.” (Konno)
“Thank you very much. That’s enough. Take care.” (Shuu)
“Thank you, too. I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for you guys. In order to repay you for your kindness, I will try to persuade the military police somehow. So don’t do anything rash.” (Konno)
The Wanyuudou car began to roll along, shouting “Boo!” as if cheering us up.
“Boo!” and I return the call. “Boo, squeak!” Tamiko follows suit.
T/N: Udeochi is not his name but his label/punishment. He might have taken that name for all we know.
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