Chapter 31: Back then (Cathy’s Point of View)
――The S-Rank adventurer 【Thunderclap Whitefang】 was someone I admired. Because I was a little magician, I publicly pretended to support 【Bloody Witch】, but in my heart I adored that man who’s outstanding in swordsmanship and magic.
Hence I got super happy and excited when the guild approached us about looking after the pupil of 【Thunderclap Whitefang】. I was jealous of that child, but I’ve heard he’s got some special circumstances, and well, if they’re asking us to do it, we might as well do it, right? Then again Liz seemed quite eager about this whole thing, too.
In the first place, Liz belongs to the 【Peerless Strength】 faction, doesn’t she? Or, wait… Does she actually admire 【Thunderclap Whitefang】?
…W-Well, such things happen sometimes, I guess. But, if he can use magic, I’ll teach him!
While sparks flew between Liz and me, the appointed day arrived. Waiting in the back for our turn, we secretly watched from the shadows.
…Oh my, isn’t that a pretty boy right there?
Sure, he’s still a child, and small, but he looks promising. He’s inferior to 【Thunderclap Whitefang】, but okay, why not? I like him, so I’ll take care of him.
That’s what I thought, but!
The receptionist glanced our way with a troubled look. It seemed like the conversation didn’t go as well as planned. The pretty boy quickly left the counter, about to leave the guild.
We chased after him in a hurry, and spoke up to him from the side.
"Hey, boy. Interested in forming a party with us?" Sasha called out to him as the one who’s the most sociable and approachable among us, but without even trying to stop or look our way, the boy left the guild.
…What’s his damn problem!?
Sasha looked completely flabbergasted, too.
The receptionist apologized to 【Thunderclap Whitefang】 who had shown up. Apparently it had failed. But what exactly?
…According to the story I heard later on, they had come up with some kind of plan, but not only didn’t it work out as intended, but that guy stopped listening to anyone after getting upset.
The receptionist apologized to us, but isn’t that boy’s willfulness at fault here? I mean, I can understand that you’d have a hard time to bid your farewell as pupil of 【Thunderclap Whitefang】, but consider all the trouble you’re causing to your teacher, sheesh.
For several days afterwards, he completely blocked out anyone and everyone trying to talk to him, but according to rumors, 【Thunderclap Whitefang】 gave in and they formed a party in the end.
…What the hell? There are limits to screwing around with others, okay!?
And that wasn’t even the end of the bullshit!! They say he skipped all the way to D-Rank after doing some collection requests and hunting for a bit!!
I thought that my veins might have popped when I heard that. As soon as he acted like a selfish prick, he became the partner of 【Thunderclap Whitefang】? And then he even became a D-Rank without putting any work into it just because of 【Thunderclap Whitefang】?
How can such nonsense even be allowed!?
When Liz heard about it, she got so pissed that she butchered a monster to such an extent that the guild didn’t want to buy it from us anymore. Sasha gave up, saying that this was how the world works, but she had changed her opinion, now saying that we should do our best with just the three of us instead of getting a new member. I fully agreed with that.
I’ll show that asshole how we’re going to reach C-Rank before him!! Luckily connections and influence are worth nothing when it comes to C-Rank. You’ve got to pass a test to get it.
Once I’m a C-Rank, I’ll find that guy and laugh at him, saying, "You’re still a D-Rank? Aww, too bad that D-Rank is the highest you can get through connections. Looks like you can’t pass the exam because of the influence of 【Thunderclap Whitefang】 either, eh?"
…I ran into him before that though.
As he played dumb when I called out to him, I snapped, and unleashed my magic at him. When I did, even I realized that I might have gone too far, and became pale as not only him but even the children might die from my spell.
Just when I was about to cry as it fully hit me that not only wouldn’t I be rising to C-Rank, but I’d actually become a criminal with this, it vanished. My spell was suddenly gone.
Seeing that guy standing there so nonchalantly that it actually pissed me off, I understood that he’d erased it. The children all looked pale as well, but then they started to praise him all at once.
…Of course, the authorities showed up. I was sure that my license would be taken away with me heading straight for jail, but that boy gave some explanation and scurried off right afterwards, so when I fervently argued that the golem looked like a monster and that I tried to defeat it in a hurry out of fear for the children’s safety, the officials bought that excuse.
Since no one got injured and probably because it wasn’t an overly powerful spell either, it all came to a close with me spending one day in prison. It looks like the officials thought I got startled by the golem and tried to chase it away…that in itself was quite mortifying, but Liz, who had accompanied me to the guard station, kicked my shin under the table when I was about to act up, resulting in me leaving it at an anxious-looking nod.
On the next day, after I had pulled myself together, Liz and Sasha gave me a sermon, saying, "Make sure to control your temper, okay? You’d end up biting the dust anyway before you could even beat up that boy." Then we got on the carriage, and headed over to the exam site.
And over there I saw 【Thunderclap Whitefang】!
Yay! So he’s come as well!
……together with that boy. Somehow it actually feels like even the C-Rank exam is going to be rigged, doesn’t it!?
I wasn’t the only one thinking so. Another party flew into a rage after seeing 【Thunderclap Whitefang】.
By the way, one of them blathered, "Female brats takin’ the C-Rank exam!? Ain’t no way they gonna pass. Best would be for them to run back home to weed the fields!", which resulted in me almost firing a spell at him, but with Sasha and Liz holding me back, we managed to avoid any further incidents.
…If I were to use what that boy had used against me, I’d run out of mana, unable to cast any other spells for a while, I think. Since mana potions are anything but cheap, I don’t really want to rely on them much.
I’m far from liking these guys, but I’ll at least praise them for what they said to that boy. However, when they did, 【Thunderclap Whitefang】 answered them with a super scary face instead. That face of his was the same expression as it was drawn on his portrait. Since he looks quite friendly when he’s with that boy, I wonder whether that’s actually his real expression, but…somehow, it pains me a bit to see him like that.
The rumors I’ve heard about 【Thunderclap Whitefang】 said that he’s a cold-hearted man, so it made my heart throb when I learned of his kind side by taking a pupil with some special circumstances, but…somehow it’s like he’s only showing his gentle and caring side to that boy. It does make me a tad jealous.
…Wait, now’s not the time for that! I’ll also declare my war on that boy!
As soon as I did, 【Thunderclap Whitefang】 said that it’d be impossible for me, and that guy treated me like a complete retard. As expected, even Liz and Sasha looked super pissed, so we secretly agreed that the three of us would show him who’s boss.
And then the exam started…
That boy rushed off at an unbelievable speed. What’s the idea here!?
Even those creepy guys, who had been scheming to get in the boy’s way, howled like sour losers as it looked like all their little plans went bust.
But, true, it’s not like any of us knows how long he’ll be able to keep up going at that pace. If he runs out of steam inside the dungeon, it’ll spell his death. Moreover, when being solo.
Even if he might have a golem with him, that thing should use quite a bit of mana, so it should be accompanied with quite a bit of danger to go at such a pace.
I’m sure he ran away because of all the bullying, and is now hiding somewhere!! I’ll totally poke fun at him if I spot him!!
We finally arrived at the dungeon entrance. We kept looking for that boy all the time, but he was nowhere to be found.
He must be quite skilled at hiding. He got my praise for that.
An examiner stood in front of the dungeon entrance.
"…Did I see wrongly after all? Somehow it looked like a child entered the dungeon while being chased by some kind of monster…"
Hearing him mumbling that, I pinned my eyes on the examiner in surprise, "…He…entered already?"
"When!? How long ago!?"
"Eh? So my eyes didn’t play a trick on me then!? It’s been quite a while ago. More than 40 minutes by now."
Those scummy guys, who’d arrived here at the same time as us, were shocked as well.
"…Gotta be havin’ fun by using that golem, right? Ahhh, I’m so damn envious of a piece of shit who gets pushed everythin’ into her ass by an S-Rank!"
How can it make things easier by using a golem!? Don’t look down on magic arts, okay? Even just having it walk around all over the place while following you eats lots of mana!
…But, if it’s a golem 【Thunderclap Whitefang】 obtained, it might have some function to not use mana? As I thought, he’s a cheat!
We blundered on our pacing. Since we wanted to get away from the guys who had been bitching all the time, we somehow managed to lose them halfway.
Wanting to finish the exam faster than those idiots and that boy, I pushed my party members and advanced while limiting the breaks to the minimum.
"Huh…? I feel like we’ve passed this way some time ago…?"
"No way. You properly drew a map, didn’t you?"
"Wha-, of course I did! But, I was a bit in a hurry, so I might have made a mistake."
Not drawing a map in a dungeon is fatal. If you fail at it, you should head back the way you came. But, since I was impatient, I plunged onwards.
…and got completely lost.
No examiner is to be found anywhere, and we don’t know any safe areas either.
As we continued on, still not taking a rest, my feeling of time slowly started to fade. And just when my exhaustion reached its peak…
Those monsters showed up.
We should have retreated here. But, in the end we underestimated the enemy. I mean, it was just two goblins.
"Wait! It’s dangerous to take them on in our current state! I’ll cast a barrier, so let’s use that moment to fall back!"
Ignoring Sasha’s warning, I rushed ahead.
"We can easily get rid of two lousy goblins, right!? We’re a party that’s going to become C-Rank!"
"True. Defeating them will allow us to get rid of some stress even if we’ll retreat in the end, won’t it? …And to be honest, I don’t know whether I’ll have enough stamina to get away if they chase after us."
When I cast a fireball as a restraint and Liz tried to cut into them…
…my fireball clashed against another spell and vanished.
On top of that, the other spell continued heading my way.
"…Oh wall, block everything!"
Sasha’s barrier spell was in time, resulting in the spell getting repelled. But, at the same time Sasha ran out of mana. She crumbled down on her knees.
…I had used too much offensive magic, so I ended up drinking Sasha’s share of mana potions. It was all because I wasted my spells out of impatience.
Liz had her thigh stabbed by the other goblin. I looked at the goblin in surprise.
――This is no ordinary goblin! It’s an evolved one!
I threw the bomb magic tool. This was a very expensive item, but I bought it just in case.
Using the opportunity, Liz somehow managed to fall back to us and drink a healing potion. It apparently stopped her bleeding, but the wound itself didn’t heal.
――We prepared all kinds of things in order to pass the C-Rank exam in one go. All the money we’d earned so far went into it.
We went this far, and yet it was all in vain.
That and everything else was my fault. I got impatient and didn’t even consider our pace. Even though I messed up with the map, I continued onwards without admitting so. I attacked pointlessly, resulting in me using up even the mana potions of someone else.
…Yep, it was really hard, but we somehow managed to reach D-Rank. But, I never felt my life was in danger. I didn’t understand the meaning behind having the skill allowing you to reach D-Rank through connections, why you had to take a proper exam for C-Rank, and why it was said that you could only call yourself an adventurer after becoming a C-Rank.
Now that I’m about to die, I’ve finally realized it.
The reason behind the pledges I agreed to before taking the exam: 『No matter what happens, the guild won’t be held accountable for anything, even if the examinee dies during the exam』 and 『Please write a will in advance. In case you die or go missing, we will hand your belongings to the people mentioned in your will after the exam has ended』.
Very likely, those are a Goblin Warrior and a Goblin Mage.
After those two squealed as if laughing at us, the Goblin Mage cast a fire spell. The large-scale Blaze spell I specialize in.
…Yeah, I did something bad to that boy. And yet he was able to calmly deal with such a spell being used on him.
It’s inevitable for me to be totally scared of that approaching fire…
…No! I don’t want to die! No, no, no! Please no…!
"I wonder whether it’s more stylish to hold up a hand?
I mean, it surely gives the feeling of 『using magic』."
When I lifted my head, that boy was standing in front of me. With the flames having disappeared.
When I looked at him in sheer amazement, he stared back at me, and smiled, "Yo, sorry for making you wait!"