Chapter 6 Shadow of Doubt
Sunlight shun through the window.
I opened my eyes groggily, and felt something under my sheets holding onto me.
I questioningly called out.
I lifted my blanket, and found Cece sleeping next to me rather than in the bed nearby.
I mumbled to myself as I recalled last night’s events.
Last night, I had trouble finding a place that would allow slaves inside. I didn’t want Cece to sleep alone in a barn outside, so I ended up searching late into the night for one that also accommodated slaves. When I did find one, I must have fallen asleep fast. I don’t remember when Cece crawled into my bed.
I poked her cheek this time while saying her name.
Come to think of it, Cece had a relatively healthy looking body for a slave. She wasn’t quite skin and bones, but she wasn’t well fed either. While her body was much thinner than the average child, she had a good complexion.
I also noticed that her leftover bruises were healing up nicely.
I began to caress her head.
This is almost like having a little sister.
While petting her, Cece opened her eyes slowly as I felt her ears twitch a few times.
“Good morning, Cece”
Cece stared at me while sitting up as she greeted me. Her right ear twitched as she rubbed her eyes.
“There’s a lot of things to do today, let’s go”
Lifting her up, I gently placed her down on the floor and got up to put on my shoes.
The first thing on my list to do, was to visit the guild and check for any traveling requests headed out towards the Labyrinth City. After, I’ll buy some equipment for Cece, and check in on that old lady.
After quickly getting ready, we headed out.
Inside the Guild.
“Hey! Get me another drink!”
“Let’s take on that request next”
“Did you hear about the corrupt noble that died last night? Some say it was done by the Assassins Guild”
“Ahahaha! That guy! I never thought he would do that!”
“’ey ther’ hon’ ya lookin’ fer som’ strong adventurers?”
“I’ll have the hog steak”
The guild hall was filled with both humans and demi-humans alike. It was much different from what I saw back in Canute. Humans were intermingling around with cat and dog eared demihumans, and there were even a few elves here and there. It was truly a mixing pot of different races coming together, laughing, and having a good time.
“Welcome, will you be having breakfast?”
“Ah, sorry. Are slaves allowed to eat in here?”
A waitress caught me by surprise. Cece and I hadn’t eaten yet, so it might be good to eat first before anything else.
“Yes of course. Inside the Guild Hall, there is no discrimination towards slaves. You may eat with them as you like”
After a quick explanation, the waiter seated us towards the back where it was less noisy, and left a small menu.
“Cece, what would you like to eat?”
With a smile, she answered cheerfully.
I called the waiter back, and placed an order for their popular breakfast meal.
It’s going to be a few minutes before the food arrives. Now is a good time to explain to Cece what she’ll be doing from now on.
With my arms crossed, I called her in a serious tone.
Her ears slightly twitched, and bent forward as she looked down at the table away from me. It seems she’s misinterpreting my intentions.
“Don’t worry, you’re not in any trouble”
She looked at me with upturned eyes, and spoke in a squeaky voice.
“No, I’m not angry, so don’t worry”
I stretched out a hand, and pat her head softly.
“Do you want to stay with me?”
I brought up my first question. Although I’m sure she’ll say yes, I wouldn’t know what to do if she says no.
“……Want to stay with…”
After a long silence, Cece answered back.
“Then Cece, from now on you’ll be part of my party”
I pulled my hand back, and crossed my arms again.
The Guild visit today is to do three different things today. Turn in my frog legs, search for any traveling requests if there are any, and to register Cece as an adventurer in my party.
“I don’t have a house, a lot of money. You’ll have to work with me if you want to stay with me”
A look of curiosity settled on her face.
“Cece, we’ll be traveling a lot, and you’ll have to help me kill monsters”
“Don’t like… but want to stay with… so will do”
She looked into my eyes, and answered with a firm strong determination.
“Here you are, two breakfast platters”
The waiter came back with our food, and placed it in front of us.
On our plates was scrambled eggs on top of toast, what seemed to be various pieces of fried vegetables, and a small bowl with a clear soup.
“Please enjoy it!”
After eating our breakfast, I took Cece over to the Reception desk.
“Hello. How may I assist you today?”
I was greeted by a beautiful tall bunny eared voluptuous woman. She had on a very cool kind of attitude as she gave us a welcoming smile.
“First, I want to turn in some giant frog legs…”
“One moment please”
The bunny girl walked into the back room, and came out with a cart.
“Please place them in here”
“Are you sure you want me to place them in there?”
Looking at the cart, it’s kind of small… will all of the legs be able to fit in? But, thinking back on the magic bag, it easily held all of the legs I placed in. This cart could also be a type of magic cart.
“Yes, here is fine. Please place them all here”
After being assured by the bunny girl, I began taking out the pairs of frog legs from my magic bag and placing them inside the cart.
One, two, three… I counted the pairs of legs that started to pile up above the cart inside my mind. The bunny girl began sweating profusely as the legs slowly piled above the cart.
“Stop stop! How many do you have?!!”
Finally breaking her posture, the bunny girl grabbed hold of my hand and prevented me from reaching back into my bag.
“That’s only the eleventh one you know, there’s still at least another fifty in my bag…”
“At least… Fifty more…?”
With a look of surprise, the bunny girl mumbled to herself in a fluster.
“Wait right here, got it? Don’t move”
In a hurried pace, she disappeared into the back room again.
She may have went to get more carts, the cart in front of me didn’t actually have a function to magically store the legs…
“What?!! Over fifty of them?!!! Are you sure about that?!”
From the outside, I could hear a lot of shouting between two people in the back room. It seems like the amount of frog legs I have is unexpectedly a lot, although the bunny girl has only seen me put in eight into this cart…
“Ah, could he be the one that other guy was talking about?”
“Other guy? What other guy was there?”
“You know, the one that came in yesterday with over twenty of them in a wagon”
I could hear a different person’s voice cut-in and began saying things.
“There was such a person that came in with that many legs as well?!!”
“Oh, you weren’t here for it. It wasn’t legs, but full bodies. But they were missing legs. He must be the person that guy was talking about. The person that defeated nearly one-hundred of them”
I could hear a few different people talk in the back room. It seems the amount of legs I have is abnormal.
“Sharon, actually the Guild Master would like to talk with that person”
“Y-yes, please wait just a few minutes”
After throwing a fuss in the backroom, the bunny girl came out and had me explain the situation as I emptied my bag full of legs into the various carts that was brought out.
After recounting my tale, the bunny girl told me the activity of the frogs was really strange. The frogs generally liked to stay away from the main road, and even human settlements alike. They were considered rare to find, but lived and traveled in colonies.
The most abnormal thing about the frogs was that they normally don’t attack in such large groups, let alone are they hostile towards humans in the first place.
If what she said is true, then what was the reason the frogs were aggressive? And what was so many of them doing around the main road leading to Runebelle?
Thinking about the reasons why, a single answer came to mind. Maybe they were scared out of their home?
I remember reading a study of how the natural habitat of certain animals can be taken over by an invading species of another animal. After losing their home, they would even attack human settlements in search of a food source while migrating to another area.
“Sharon, the Guild Master would like to speak with that adventurer alone if you’re done”
A guy with cat ears walked out from the back and curtly bowed as he spoke to the bunny girl.
Hearing the sudden news, Cece tugged the edge of jacket. Looking down at her, her eyes told me she didn’t want to be left alone.
“I want to register Cece here as an adventurer and add her as part of my party, could I trouble you with that request for the time being while I’m talking with the Guild Master?”
I looked straight at the bunny girl and asked as politely as I could.
“Then, please leave her to me”
After leaving the timid looking Cece in the care of the Sharon, the bunny girl, I walked through the door into the back room. The cat eared guy with a butler like uniform led me up a set of stairs, leading to the Guild Masters room.
“I’ve been expecting you, Tetsu Tagami”
A tall thin man wearing nice clothing and an eye monocle greeted me as I walked through the door to the room.
“Zen, please prepare some tea”
“As you wish”
Giving a formal bow, the butler walked out of the room.
“Now then, please have a seat. There’s someone I’d like to introduce you to”
Just as the tall thin man stopped talking, the lights inside the room immediately dimmed. The shadows inside the room swirled and converged onto one area and formed a circle.
“Introductions won’t be necessary Guild Master… It’s been a long time Tetsu”
Rising up from the shadows, a single person emerged from within the darkness.