Metro Labyrinth Chapter 86: Hunter Ranking
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“So, thanks for taking care of us!” (Midori)
“When you visit Akabane, be sure to visit Shishikaba Jewelers!” (Aoi)
Like that, the Shishikaba Sisters left in a very brusque manner. They were manly sisters from beginning to end.
“… Well, I think it’s time for me to go, too.” (Kure)
Cure carries his rucksack on his shoulder. She seems to have decided to temporarily return to the Senju Tribe.
I was a little worried that Sugamo wouldn’t be able to follow him, but he said that the upper echelons of his and the guild branch had ordered him to return. It seems that they are asking for a report from the person concerned about the missing period of their tribe’s founding father.
“We are conservative when it comes to outside politics and interests, but not when it comes to Lord Oyama. They all have a father complex. They have portraits and replicas of hanging scrolls hanging in their houses, and they worship him every day. Sooner or later, this place will be filled with Senju people making pilgrimages to the sacred land.” (Kure)
“I’m grateful for everything you’ve done for me. I am really grateful to you for taking my request. You should live a good life back in Senju.” (Shuu)
“No, I’m not going to stay long after I’m done with my report. I’ll be back with you soon.” (Kure)
“So long, Kure. I may never see you again, but I won’t forget you until I forget you.” (Shuu)
“Little and your companions have a house in Sugamo, right? Can you tell me your address?” (Kure)
After the parting greetings that didn’t quite mesh, I forced myself to send Kure on his way.
“Well,” I said,
“I guess we should go home too. To our beloved home.” (Shuu)
“What is it?” (Shuu)
“I’m sorry, I just want something…” (Noa)
I’ve been crammed with lots of things lately, so I’m not sure how much more I can take.
Sugamo is the first town I visited after leaving Outsuka Metro.
I stayed in Sugamo for less than a month and lived in a rented house for about two weeks.
I didn’t realize how much I had come to know about the city. The modern cityscape surrounded by city walls, the lively faces of the townspeople, and even the smells were nostalgic. I don’t want anyone to know that I almost cried the moment I opened the door to my home.
So I spent a few days leisurely.
I get a lot of new mushroom bread from my landlord’s bakery, wholesale some of Ouji’s loot to Konno, and research the history of New Tokyo and the Demons at the library.
I wanted to wholesale the rest of the loot to Obuchi, but they had already vacated the inn and gone to another town. I was a little disappointed because I wanted them to introduce me to a craftsman who could handle mithril and I also wanted to see Yui again.
Since I was not going to carry around my valuables, I went to the underground vault of the Sugamo branch office to deposit my valuables, including the mithril. It is said to be safer than a bank in terms of reliability and security. But even if a safe-cracker were to appear, no one would know the value of Hihiirokane.
“Oh, Mr. Abe.” (Aomoto)
When I returned to the first floor, I ran into Aomoto. She is still as sharp and beautiful as ever, but she has lost some weight and her voice has lost some of her lift. She looks like an office worker who has been working overtime.
“…is Tamiko with you today?” (Aomoto)
“Oh, she’s with Noa… They went window shopping.” (Shuu)
With such a blatantly disappointed face, I’m not sure how I feel about that.
At any rate, without even saying hello, I was taken to the eating and drinking area and treated to a cup of coffee. Mushroom coffee from Nelrma.
“I heard about Ouji. It seems that you were quite active.” (Aomoto)
“Huh, what?” (Shuu)
“You found a hidden floor with the Silver Wolf of Ikebukuro and met with an unknown tribe of Magical Beasts, I hear.” (Aomoto)
“Oh, yes.” (Shuu)
The demon case has not come this far down, as I thought.
“Seriously… a man like you doesn’t like to be measured by any ordinary standard. I can’t help but feel that I, who was hailed as a ‘Sugamo’s Child Prodigy’ when I was young, am a very insignificant person.” (Aomoto)
“No, no, no, I’m indebted to Mr. Giran. I also owe it all to Tamiko and Noa.” (Shuu)
“You’re already one of the top two, maybe even the top, in Sugamo in terms of ability. It’s been more than two decades since the establishment of the branch… and the time may finally come when a single-digit ranker will be born from Sugamo.” (Aomoto)
“Single digit ranker?” (Shuu)
“Don’t you know? It’s the Hunter Ranking.” (Aomoto)
The waiter brings a sandwich and offers me one. It is corned beef, cucumber, and lettuce on buttered toast. The salty taste of the corned beef and the crunchy texture of the vegetables are good. A yum-filled squeal is inevitable.
“The hunter ranking is an annual ranking system that takes into account the number of rewards earned from quests, the rate at which Metro Beasts are killed, the profit from the sale of Metro dives, and other factors, and establishes a pecking order based on the level of activity.” (Aomoto)
“Of course.” (Shuu)
“The first dan and above will automatically participate in the hunter ranking system. You reached first dan, but because of this incident, a letter of recommendation for promotion to first dan was issued to you by Ouji, correct?” (Aomoto)
“Um, yes.” (Shuu)
The official notification has not yet been given, but with the help of Tougo, all seven members of the team to defeat the demon are to be promoted to the next level. The top ranks will be given to the deserving names. In particular, Giran is now 4th dan, the highest rank in active service.
“The top rankers will not only receive the prestige they deserve but also a variety of other privileges. Ask Kaike or one of the other staff members for more details, as I’m sure you’ll find out what you need to know.” (aomoto)
“Is Mr. Shimoyanagi at the top of the Sugamo rankers?” (Shuu)
“Ah, I think his highest rank was 19th. However, my uncle S—Shimoyanagi doesn’t care about such things, so if he’s serious, I think he might have had a chance to enter the top 10. By the way, my highest rank is 312th. The number of first dan and above seems to be around 3,000, so I guess I did well even with this.” (Aomoto)
“Looks tough…” (Shuu)
“If I remember correctly, even Mr. Giran’s highest rank would have been third or fourth. But you will surpass even that someday, I believe so.” (Aomoto)
“Your words are wasted on me…” (Shuu)
From what I’ve heard, it doesn’t seem like it’s enough to subjugate Metro Beasts with your brute force. The world is still far away for me, who lacks knowledge and experience.
“Fufu. Well, I have high expectations for you. Your comrades and I, here at Sugamo have high expectations for you. I forgot to mention one thing: welcome back, Mr. Abe.” (Aomoto)
I then notice that all eyes are on me. When our eyes met, they raised their coffee cup and bowed.
Somehow, I feel a little bit of excitement in my heart, which makes me nod vaguely.
“…Yes, thank you. I’m back.” (Shuu)
“So, by the way, well…” (Aomoto)
“Ehem”, Aomoto cleared her throat and began to tear the bread into balls.
“…the magic beasts that you guys interacted with… it the Xolotl tribe, right? What were they like?” (Aomoto)
I instantly understood and inwardly chuckled in my heart.
“Well… they are basically a small dog, about this tall.” (Shuu)
I gestured about 50 centimeters apart with my hands.
“They have short limbs and a fluffy tail.” (Shuu)
I draw their silhouette with my index finger and thumb.
“Their eyes are round, they have twitchy noses, and their fur is very fluffy.” (Shuu)
The coffee cup in Aomoto’s hand shook.
“They are a bit cautious, but once they get used to you, they are very friendly, and when I hold them in my arms, I can’t help myself.” (Shuu)
Crack! The handle shatters and the cup rolls onto the table. The dark brown liquid spreads out.
“Um, hey–” (Shuu)
I tried to wipe the coffee with my handkerchief in a panic, but a half-smiling Aomoto began to scrub it with her sleeve.
“…Oh, forgive me, fufu, fufu…” (Aomoto)
Her eyes glow menacingly. A chill runs down my spine.
“I have already paid for it, but please pay for the cup with this.” (Aomoto)
The wiped the blood on her nose with the bill she took out and added a few more, saying, “Oops, I made a mistake.”
“…I’m sorry, I remember I have an urgent business… Please take your time…” (Aomoto)
Aomoto’s back shook as she leaves upstairs, and I quickly clean up her mess and quickly exits the room.
That evening, Kaike arrives at my house. She asked me if I could accompany her, and I tried to ignore her, but I was forced out of the house by several staff members. I tried to play it cool and told them, “Don’t worry, it’s just a misunderstanding. I’ll be home soon,” I tell Tamiko and Noa.
According to Kaike, there was an incident in which Aomoto, in tears, pleaded to go to Ouji, and was seized by the staff because she was in the middle of work until the end of the next month. She said Aomoto is still sobbing and immersed in paperwork.
“It’s because Mr. Abe sent something strange into her head, isn’t it?” (Kaike)
“May I have a lawyer represent me?” (Shuu)
I lament that even though interrogations have begun and the world has become like this, the value system that focuses on confessions has not changed. But alas, I am not falsely accused and I was a criminal, so I spew everything after a few minutes. Yes, I did it.
After the hour long lecture, I was made to promise to actively accept requests. . When I returned home, I was disappointed, but my friends, to whom I had entrusted my life, were unsympathetic, saying, “What a cheater, squeak” and Noa said, “Just like what Sis said. He wanted to brag about the fluff.” I was left wallowing in despair.
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