OmaeGotoki: Volume 1 006 - The Beginning Ends, A New Fate Starts

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Despite having just defeated the anzu, Flum is at a loss. In order to get her adventurer’s license she needs a werewolf fang, but all said fangs are currently inside the anzu’s stomach.

“Damn gourmet, eating only the top halves…!”

She kicks its massive corpse.

She doesn’t have enough time before sunset to go find another werewolf, and even if she does manage to find it there are no guarantees she’d make it out alive. Not only is she already exhausted, if it came to that she’d likely have to fight in the dark.

There’s only one way to get the fang.

“I guess I’ll have to cut it open, huh…”

The anzu’s hide is thick and its organs are protected by a thick layer of muscle and fat, but it’s nothing the Zweihander can’t cut. As she starts to pull out its entrails, an almost unbearable stench fills her nostrils. Fortunately, she finds its stomach and the partially-digested werewolves fairly quickly. Actually reaching inside the sticky, wet organ and pulling a werewolf out, however, is a completely different matter. Even though she grew up in the country she’s never had to do anything like this before.

Pinching her nose with one hand and turning her face away, she cuts a slit in the stomach and reaches inside. The stomach squelches and is still unpleasantly warm. Reaching even further in, she finally manages to grab hold of what feels like a werewolf’s snout and yanks it out. Throwing the corpse away from her in a hurry, she’s sent reeling from the intense stench on her fluid-coated arm.

“Uegh!!”

She tries to rub it off on nearby grass, leaves, trees, anything, but the smell refuses to fade.

“Asshole!” she shouts as she kicks the anzu’s corpse again. Even after it’s dead, it seems determined to give her a hard time. Heaving her shoulders, she recomposes herself and sets about removing one of the werewolf’s fangs.

Taking a tooth from its sawlike row of fangs is a pain, but a walk in the park compared to cutting open the anzu. In doing so, she finally completes her quest. Once she takes the fang back to the guild she should get her license… she hopes.

“I can’t imagine that receptionist will just welcome me back, though…”

Flum wants to have a little something extra on top of the completed quest to leave her speechless, just in case she’s as disagreeable as she was the first time.

Fortunately, the anzu is right in front of her.

“Unfortunately, I’ve never even heard of this thing before today. I’ve got no clue what part I should take back.”

All monsters have some parts that are valuable and some that aren’t. Since she doesn’t even have a backpack, there’s a severe limit on what she can bring back with her. She’ll have to take her best guess at the most valuable part.

Even if she came fully prepared to harvest the anzu, however, she couldn’t afford to just take everything with her. If she’s going to make a living as an adventurer, she’ll have to develop an eye for valuable parts. There are, of course, some Epic-tier magic bags and the like that can carry a ludicrous amount of stuff, but only S-Rank adventurers can get their hands on such items.

“I guess I’ll just take a fang from the anzu, too.”

Generally speaking, monster fangs have a lot of use in making weapons, accessories, even armour.

After smashing the anzu’s teeth with broad of the Zweihander’s blade over and over again, a fang finally comes loose. It falls to the ground with a heavy thud, and it takes both of her arms to lift it. It’s surprisingly heavy, but manageable.

After making sure she still has the werewolf fang, she heads back to where Milkit waits for her.


◇◇◇


The sun sets and night falls.

Milkit sits on the log at the entrance to the forest, listening to the sounds of the crickets around her. Her eyes are downcast with worry, a hand clenched to her chest.

It’s already been three hours since she parted with Flum. The fight should be long over. If she won and managed to get the werewolf fang, then she should’ve returned by now.

Maybe she lost. Maybe she’s dead.

That's... I hope that's not the case...

“I don’t want to wait any longer...”

We might never meet again --- the thought makes her heart ache. She’s never been so worried about someone’s life before, not even her previous master’s.

Up until now, her relationship with her master has been incredibly simple --- she gets tormented, and in exchange she gets enough scraps of food to keep living. By normal standards it's an unpleasant lifestyle, but as long as she keeps her feelings in check and doesn't get too attached to anything or anyone it’s an easy way to live.

“I think I might’ve gone and gotten attached, though...”

If Flum comes back, then what?

She can’t even imagine what her life would be like. She’d be allowed to laugh, treated as a human being, and maybe her face would be healed --- but the more time she spends with Flum the harder it’ll be for her when the dream ends. The more Flum heals the cracks in her heart, the greater the fear of losing her will become.

But even so---

“I think… I would like that kind of future.”

She hates pain, and she hates suffering --- but just because she’s managed to stay alive despite that doesn’t mean she never wanted a normal life. In the end she’s always given up on such a future, not because she talks herself out of it but because she’s never had a chance.

If she actually had the chance, then---

“Nnn---... Finally, the exit! I’m so tired...”

Standing up and turning to face the forest’s entrance, Milkit sees Flum walking slowly towards her, bloodier than last she saw her, carrying a gigantic fang and dirty metal gauntlets but clearly alive.

“Master!!”

I’m so glad she’s okay!

Seeing her standing there in perfect health, those words are the first thing that comes to mind. Without even realizing it herself, she smiles faintly.

---I suppose that's my answer.

No matter how much she thought about it she was never going to come to a conclusion. In that instant, she knows exactly what she truly wants.

As Flum leaves the forest, Milkit trots towards her and Flum breaks into a smile.

“I’m back, Milkit.”

“Welcome back, Master.”

She moves to take some of Flum’s burden.

“Thanks for the thought, but if you take this you’ll get covered in blood too.”

“At this point, I don’t mind if I get a little dirty.”

“Really, you’re too hard on yourself… If you’re going to call yourself my slave then you’ve got to take better care of yourself.”

With a half-smile, Flum hands the werewolf fang and gauntlets to Milkit. The anzu’s fang is obviously too heavy for her.

“By the way, Master, where did these gauntlets come from? That fang is likely the anzu’s, but…”

“Ah, those. I took them off an adventurer’s skeleton on my way back.”


◇◇◇


Walking through the dusk, Flum accidentally kicks something hard on the ground in front of her, and noticing that it’s a human skull she drops the anzu’s fang and screams. Given everything she’s been through recently her response is surprising, but some things are just plain creepy. She can’t help it.

Looking closely, the body doesn’t have a lower half. Maybe the body belonged to an adventurer who had tried to get a werewolf fang and ended up meeting the anzu, just like she did. The skeleton is still wearing armor and gauntlets. Seeing its equipment, she remembers something from her time in the Hero’s Party.

---I want to help, but there’s nothing I can really do.

At the time she was still wrestling with her own powerlessness. She couldn’t do anything on her own --- realizing that, she asked the others to teach her what they could. Everyone there was a master in something, after all.

At first she was a little hesitant, thinking that she’d only be burdening them even more, but surprisingly there were a few people who were eager to teach her. She was convinced that they were only helping her out of pity, but nonetheless.

One of her teachers was Gadio Ruskett, “The Starcrushing Strongarm.”

He was a giant of a man who never seemed to take off his black platemail and always scowled, but despite his appearance he was very kind to her. He taught her a lot of swordplay even though she was too weak to put the knowledge to use, and he even gave her some useful adventuring tips.

“Every battlefield has its corpses. Many of them die wearing their best equipment, so only the truly religious adventurers just leave them alone.”

“You mean... they loot the bodies?”

“If their owner’s dead, it’s better to put their equipment to use than just let it rot. It’s a good way to honour the dead.”

“But aren’t you scared they’ll come after you or curse you or anything?”

“I never took you for the superstitious type.”

“I-I’m sorry! I guess adventurers have to be realists, don’t they?”

“Not really. You’re not wrong, actually. Every once in a while you come across something that has its former owner’s regrets burned into it, so it pays to be careful.”

“Seriously!?”

“Yeah --- cursed equipment, it’s called. Sometimes it lowers your stats, sometimes you can never take it off, sometimes it can kill you just for equipping it… nasty stuff. As long as you make sure to cast Scan first, though, you’ll be fine.”

“But I can’t cast Scan…”

“Hmm. In that case, make sure you bring along a friend or two. Adventurers should never work alone anyways. It’s important to have a partner who’ll give you a push when you need it or stop you before you do something too stupid.”

That was just one of the many ‘lessons’ that he gave her.

She remembers a lot more than she needs to, but the part about the dead sometimes cursing their equipment is the important thing.

Casting Scan on the skeleton’s gear, she finds just one thing that seems to be cursed.

Name: Bloodied Steel Gauntlets
Tier: Rare
[This equipment lowers your Strength by 82]
[This equipment lowers your Magic by 101]

It’s nowhere near the Zweihander’s level, of course, but even so it’ll ‘raise’ her stats by a total of 183, so she won’t complain. She apologizes to the dead adventurer as she pulls the gauntlets off it.

If what Gadio said is true, he shouldn’t hold it against her.


◇◇◇


“...And that’s how I found them.”

“Cursed equipment… I see.”

After hearing Flum’s story, Milkit looks at the gauntlets with mixed feelings.

“Don’t worry, you should be just fine just carrying them unless you put them on. If you’re still nervous, though, I can take them.”

“No, if you’re carrying that big, heavy fang all on your own, then there’s no way I should go empty-handed.”

“Haha, you're a little too serious, aren’t you? Thanks.”

Successfully reunited, the two return to the Capital.


◇◇◇


The capital at night shows them a very different kind of hustle and bustle than it did during the day. Magic lamps light streets lined with noisy bars and women showing an abundance of skin. The barkers are also out in force, and a few of them approach the two girls before noticing Flum’s slave mark and recoiling in disgust.

“Looks like we weren’t able to make it back before nightfall after all.”

“I hope the guild’s still open.”

Flum was thinking the exact same thing.

The sign outside didn’t list any hours, but---

“Since it’s also a bar, it’s probably still open. Or actually, I really hope it is. I don’t want to spend the night in the street with this fang.”

They make smalltalk as they head for the guild. When they arrive, they can hear the clamor of drunk adventurers even from outside. They didn’t have anything to worry about after all.

As Flum pushes the door open with her shoulder and enters the guild, she can feel a number of gazes on her. Unlike the first time she came in when everyone seemed to be hostile, a few people actually seem happy to see her --- they must’ve bet that the two of them would come back alive. One of the men strikes a victory pose as others drop coins onto the table in front of him.

“Up we go---”

Flum heaves the anzu’s fang onto the counter as the receptionist, Ila, looks on in shock.

“Here’s what you asked for.”

She takes the werewolf fang from Milkit and drops it beside the anzu’s. Ila picks up the fang, casting Flum an annoyed look.

“What’s wrong? Didn’t I pass the test?”

“...Don’t tell me you actually defeated it?”

“Of course I did. Werewolves aren’t that big a deal, really.”

“Y-You...!”

“What is it?”

“I take it back! I take it all back! There’s no way I’m letting a filthy slave like you become an adventurer!”

In the midst of her hysteric cries, she throws the werewolf fang back at Flum. She swiftly catches it and sticks it right back into the receptionist’s heavily made-up face, still twisted with regret and irritation.

“Isn’t it your job to reward adventurers who complete their quests? Isn’t that why there’s a guild in the first place?”

“Kh…”

“Oh, and buy this, too.”

She puts her hand on the anzu fang and the counter bends slightly under its weight.

“A-And what is that?”

“The fang of a C-Rank anzu. I happened to run into it while hunting for werewolves, so I killed it and took whatever looked valuable.”

The guild will often buy any in-demand materials adventurers bring back, even if they haven’t issued a formal quest. Flum could, of course, make more money if she sold it to the craftspeople directly, but selling it to the guild is the easier and more popular option.

“D-Did you just say C-Rank…?”

Not only did she survive the werewolf, but she killed something even stronger --- faced with such an impossible truth, Ila is shocked speechless.

To take her place, two rough-looking men with weasely faces wander over from the bar.

“C’mon, don’t lie, honey. An anzu? No way a few shrimpy slaves could kill something like that. That’s the kinda thing even we real adventurers gotta hunt with a party. We saw your Status, too, and there’s no way you could kill even an F-Rank monster. You don’t even have real equipment. If you’re gonna lie, you’ve gotta make it more believable than that.”

Thug A grins unpleasantly.

“Eww, what’s that smell? Somethin’ reeks in here. What kinda body fluid have you been bathin’ in? Nah, I guess I should say ‘whose’! How many guys didja hafta screw for enough money to buy somethin’ like this? Or wait, maybe you got it straight from some guy comin’ home from the hunt? See, I knew you’d make a better whore than a---”

Hands in his pockets, Thug B leers into Flum’s face when---

“Flum PUNCH!!”

Unable to stand him any longer, she punches him as hard as she can.

Not expecting to suddenly get attacked, he was completely defenseless. Her fist hits him square in the face and he collapses backwards, blood spraying from his nose like a fountain.

“Wha--- You bitch!!”

“Hey, what rank are you?”

“The hell? We’re D-Rank!”

“Ah, I see. I never knew D-Rank adventurers could get dropped by one punch from a status-zero little girl. You learn something new everyday.”

“Don’t… don’t you screw with meeeeee!!”

Drawing his sword, Thug A leaps at her.

Flum waits until the last second to pull out the Zweihander.

Klang!

His sword is sent flying through the air as the Zweihander heads for his neck. By the time he realizes it the blade is stopped a hair’s breadth away.

He freezes.

If Flum puts even a little more force into the blade he’s dead.

“An Epic-tier sword…!?”

“It’s cursed, but yeah.”

Judging that he won’t try to attack her again, she returns her sword to its extradimensional space.

The strength leaves the man’s body and he collapses to his knees.

“Now do you believe me?”

Flum smiles at Ila, a triumphant expression on her face.

Ila’s face is still twisted with disgust, but she can’t just turn Flum away now. Taking the werewolf fang and quickly processing the paperwork, she hands Flum a small pouch of money and an adventurer’s license.

Holding the card up to the light, she reads her name and the words ‘F-Rank Adventurer’ with a contented smile. On top of that Ila hands her the reward for the anzu’s fang, a bag of coin large enough for Flum and Milkit to do whatever they want for a few days at the very least.

Having received her just reward, they have no more business there. Turning one last time to wave mockingly at Ila, Flum and Milkit leave the guild.

As soon as the door closes Flum lets out a long breath, shaking out her arms.

“Ahh, I thought my heart was going to explode…!”

Though she was smiling fearlessly inside the guild, she’s already returned to her normal expression. The mysterious new rising star of the West Quarter Guild is gone.

“You were great, Master.”

Milkit knows that Flum was putting on a front the whole time --- that’s exactly why she’s so grateful.

“Thanks… but now I’ve really tired myself out.”

Accepting Milkit’s thanks with a smile, Flum reaches out and grabs her hand. Already used to the gesture, Milkit reassuringly returns her grip.

“I was expecting Ila to complain, but I never thought that those two thugs would suddenly show up. I don’t know whether to be disappointed or relieved that Dane wasn’t there, though.”

“We were able to earn enough for a room at an inn, so I think that’s sufficient for today.”

“Yeah. Alright then, we’ll get a room and then I want a bath--- although I guess first thing tomorrow we’ve gotta buy some new clothes.”

“Yes, I think you should certainly have something new and clean to wear, Master.”

Flum, looking down at herself, laughs bitterly. Even Milkit’s battered and torn clothes are better than what she’s wearing now.

Milkit herself was just thinking that she should change into new rags as soon as possible.

“I knew you’d say that. Just to be clear, you’re getting new clothes, too.”

“There’s no need. I’m only a slave, after all.”

“In that case, it’s an order. You’re getting new clothes tomorrow, period!”

“But that’s…”

Milkit faces the ground, blushing. She’s convinced that no matter what she wears it won’t change anything, thanks to her bandaged face.

Seeing right through her, Flum pats Milkit’s head.

“Don’t get so worked up about it. Just relax, it’ll be fun. I’ll be with you the whole time. Okay?”

Faced with her innocent smile, Milkit’s heart races.

What is this feeling?

If this is what the future she chose, her future with Flum is going to feel like, then---

“...Okay.”

She nods deeply.

She’ll accept it.

Eventually, she’ll change and become someone new.

The girl who lost everything and the girl who’s never had anything --- the two of them, abandoned by even the gods, take the first step towards their new life hand-in-hand.


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