Metro Labyrinth Chapter 87: Friend of the Unicorn

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 From “the hottest rising star in Sugamo” to “the rebel who made our beloved clumsy leader cry,” I am increasing my own brand here. Just when I was thinking it would be better not to show up at the guild for a while, a staff member comes to my house again.



“This is a letter from headquarters to Mr. Shuu Abe.” (Guild Staff)


“Oh, thanks.” (Shuu)



 I received the letter with a red wax seal with the guild’s logo on it. I thought it might be about my promotion to first dan, but the signature on the letterhead was that of General Tougo. I was a little surprised.



“Eh… are you serious…?” (Shuu)



 It was written in a rather casual tone of voice, but it was disappointing to me at the moment.



“What happened?” (Noa)


“Ah… About the craftsman who can handle Hihiirokane…” (Shuu)



 The master of the blacksmith said that he was willing to take on the project because it would be a valuable experience for both himself and his apprentices, as it is a rare material that is rarely available.


 Unfortunately, however, his schedule is packed for the next three months and he is not available. That’s not a bad thing. He is said to be one of the best craftsmen in the country, so he must have an endless supply of requests.



 There’s another part of the problem—the price.



“From the smelting to processing of Hihiirokane, it takes a lot of manpower and money, so they need to pay up to twenty million yen out of my own pocket…” (Shuu)


“Twenty million?… Two, ten, millions…” (Noa)


“How many acorns is that, squeak?” (Tamiko)


“It’s difficult to calculate in acorns, but I think you can have a pretty nice house in Sugamo with that money.” (Noa)




 The price is based on the guild’s negotiation and a favorable discount from the craftsman’s side, so it would probably cost twice as much as it would if I asked for it normally.



(I wish the guild would pay for everything…) (Shuu)



 However, I can’t say that out loud. I’ve been given a lot of favors so far, and my motive is purely personal taste in the first place. It is the nature of a serious ex-office worker who cannot say that taxes are being paid for personal greed. Well, now, of course, I’m hoping that it’s not just a trinket, but also practical.



“Perhaps… For a hunter of my level, do you think it’s only natural that they have the financial ability to pay that much?” (Shuu)


“Well, I think there are only about a hundred people in this country who are over level 70.” (Noa)



 I would like to say that they should not a fooled since I was an amateur ancient man until two months ago.



“I think you are well-off even now. Including the sale of Ouji’s loot, I think you have more than three million yen in savings.” (Noa)


“I want an allowance, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“Your Mom gave you 1,000 yen yesterday, right?” (Shuu)


“It’s kind of funny, it’s all gone, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“You’re going to get fat again.” (Shuu)



 If I sell the mithril, I would have enough money to pay the fee, but that would be a complete waste of money. I’ve heard that mithril can be processed into fibers and made into high-quality lightweight armor, so I’d like them to make armor for Noa and Tamiko.



“Well… I’ve found a way to craft the weapon, so I wonder if it’s okay to slowly raise money. If I’m serious about doing quests and diving in the Metro, I’ll probably save enough money.” (Shuu)



 Suddenly, I remembered that thing. I went past Noa and into the bedroom and opened the door to the closet’s underfloor storage.



“Ugh!” (Shuu)



 It smells like mold. It was not due to the powerful “Super Fungus” or anything like that, but simply the stench of neglected socks during the rainy season. I gingerly lifted it and peeked in with trepidation, but I was glad to see that the contents were safe.


 It was the wolfskin bag I had been using until I left Outsuka Metro. When I brought it into the living room, Tamiko and Noa looked blatantly disgusted.



“Moldy, squeak! Get rid of it quickly, squeak!” (Tamiko)


“It’s a memento. It’s outrageous to throw it away!” (Shuu)


“I told you before, I’m not in charge of this kind of junk.” (Noa)


“Hmm, well, it might be fine to dispose of the bag.” (Shuu)



 I place the contents inside on the table. A pure white carrot with a missing tip–well, it’s actually a long, thin carrot-shaped horn. Old Man Uni’s horn, also known as the Tsundere Unicorn, is a chipped-horn unicorn, with who we formed a friendship on the Outsuka Metro.



“Old Man Uni’s horn, squeak!” (Tamiko)


“That’s a real unicorn horn… amazing…” (Noa)


“I hid it to protect it from burglars, but I forgot to leave it in the safe.” (Shuu)


“Old Man Uni, how is doing, squeak?” (Tamiko)


“I’m sure he’s doing well and has a new horn.” (Shuu)



 While clearing my throat.



“I think I’ve heard that it’s a valuable item before, and I was wondering how much it would be worth if I sold it. I don’t intend to give it away, though, you know? It’s a token of our friendship, right? Just checking, you know?” (Shuu)



 I glanced at Professor Noa.



“Basically, it’s an ingredient for medicine. I’ve only heard about it in passing, but it’s supposed to be a cure for [Mycelial Failure]. That’s all my great-grandfather wrote in his notes.” (Noa)


“Mycelial Faliure?” (Shuu)


“In short, the mycelium in the body doesn’t work properly and various symptoms occur. In the past, there were a lot of cases like that, but nowadays you don’t hear much about it.” (Noa)


“I know that squeak.” (Tamiko)


“Liar.” (Shuu)



 Putting aside the “know-it-all squirrel,” the disease seems to have something to do with resistance and compatibility with ‘Super Fungi’. It makes sense, then, that the number of patients would decrease over time. The fact that the human body is infested with the strange mycelium is still a mystery.



“The story is that unicorns were often hunted in the past, and now they are rarely seen.” (Noa)


“They’re like an endangered species, huh?” (Shuu)


“But they are very strong horses, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“It would have taken a population that strong to survive.” (Noa)



 The fact that it was an unpopular metro with low yields may have been a blessing. But with that said, there is a possibility that because of me coming out and defeating the Satan Slime in Otsuka, perhaps hunters or guild members will investigate. I haven’t heard any further news since then, but I can only hope that the humans won’t find him out.


 Well, they are cautious beasts to begin with, and it is probably only because they have been accustomed to us since we were little more than insects that we have been able to communicate with each other, and I would like to think that they would not be easily captured because they could even erase the sound of their footsteps.



“Anyway, I think unicorn horns still fetch a pretty high price. I don’t care how much use they are, they are rarely on the market.” (Noa)


“I see.” (Shuu)



 A chipped corner at the tip. Old, dirty, and heavier than it looks. We stare at it in my hand. Stare.



“…It’s a memento, right?” (Noa)


“Yes.” (Shuu)


“You won’t sell it, right? ……Why are  you not replying?” (Noa)





 I’m just checking. I just want to make sure how much it’s going to cost.



 It would be nice to have Obuchi around at times like this, but unfortunately he hasn’t come back yet.


 The guild’s loot counter will also give me an appraisal, but then they’d have to ask, “Where did you get it?” Combined with the fake past history of Tamiko and Mine, it would be confirmed that I lived in Outsuka Metro. It is a going to create difficult questions.



 Then, is there Konno? Since they do a wide range of business, let’s ask them. I should ask him without looking like a person who has it.



“Ah, a unicorn’s horn. Well, it’s a long-cherished desire for a Sugamo hunter.” (Konno)


“What?” (Shuu)


“Huh?” (Konno)


“Why do all the Sugamo hunters want it?” (Shuu)


“Brother, you don’t know the story about the mayor?” (Konno)



 Konnno was saying something like, “You’re a fisherman, why are you asking me how to catch fish?”


 After a quick explanation, I ran to the guild with the wind knocked out of him. As if he were running to my fallen friends.



“Wow! Mr. Abe, You surprised me!” (Kaike)



 As I passed through the entrance, I happened to run into Kaike. He was breathing hard, so she had a look of suspicion.



“Well, you came here for a quest, didn’t you? There are a lot of dangerous ones out there for Mr. Abe, you know?” (Kaike)


“Um… they’re all posted on the bulletin board by the stairs over there?” (Shuu)


“No, there is another one next to the counter over there. There you can find advanced and difficult quests.” (Kaike)


“I see.” (Shuu)



 If you look at it, it certainly looks like it’s going to be very difficult. I see. There are quests for defeating a certain metro boss, searching for treasure in a hidden place, and clinical trials for a new drug.


 At the top of the page, there is a quest written on a relatively new piece of paper. The client is…



“That’s a request that the mayor has issued.” (Kaike)


“…This is…” (Shuu)


“We regularly post them with higher rewards, but it’s hard to find takers for the content. It can’t be helped – unicorn horns are very hard to come by these days.” (Kaike)



 Request: Procurement of horns, Metro Beast Unicorn.


 Due date: As soon as possible.



“It’s a famous story in Sugamo. The mayor’s daughter was born with a serious illness and needs a unicorn horn to cure it, so we’ve been sending out quests for it for the past few years.” (Kaike)



 I stared at the reward amount written in the middle.



“…30 million yen…” (SHuu)


“Mr. Abe, your nose is bleeding.” (Kaike)




A/N: Doctor Mario is a very good time thief.



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