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Rei looked around and gave a sigh involuntarily.
There was no helping it. The only thing he could see around him was wilderness. Snow was piled up thinly. The sky was covered with clouds and a cold wind was blowing. It was just a winter landscape. Rei and his partner Set were in such a place. And……
「Don't sigh, seriously. I'm the one who wants to sigh.」
「No, to be forced to take a request with you, there's no way I can't give a sigh.」
At the end of Rei and Rhodes's line of sight was Set, giving a cry as he ran around the winter wilderness.
(Running around in the middle of the snow, he almost looks like a dog. I thought cats would rather curl up inside a kotatsu……no, Set's a Griffon so I guess he doesn't really count as a cat?)
Just the day before, the leader of Gilm's prided rank A party, Elk, had come up with the idea of sending Rei and Rhodes on a monster subjugation request together. Because of that, since Rei had been planning on taking on a subjugation request anyway, he reluctantly accepted. That was how Rei and Rhodes came to this wilderness, several hours away from Gilm.
「Blue Caterpillar. A rank C monster, is it.」
Rei spoke out the name of the monster they had to hunt for the subjugation request and gave a sigh again.
Blue Caterpillar. As its name suggested, it was a caterpillar-like monster that liked cold places, it could also use wind and water magic. In addition, it was a ferocious carnivore, particularly dangerous because it favoured human flesh. Although it was only rank D, considering its pure fighting strength, it was treated as rank C due to its ferociousness. The proof of subjugation was its right feeler on its forehead while the only materials that could be stripped from it were its fangs. Although the degree of risk is high, the rewards were few.
Like that, he remembered the information about Blue Caterpillars that he had looked up after being forced to take on this request.
There weren't many adventurers who would willingly take on requests during this season, most active adventurers had collected enough money to stay back for winter. Because of that, very few people who could take on rank C quests were willing to take on subjugation requests of monsters like Blue Caterpillars that had high risk and low rewards. As a result, the suggestion from Elk was timely for the guild.
「In addition, we have to hunt at least 6 of them.」
「What, you have the skills to defeat an Orc King, so there shouldn't be any problems with a Blue Caterpillar.」
「Well, that's true. I don't really mind the cold either.」
Saying so, Rei turned to look at Rhodes.
Rhodes was wearing a coat on top of his usual leather armour as well as a robe on top of that.
「……It's honestly enviable. No, not just your comment about the cold, if I wore clothes that were even a little thicker, it would slow down my movements. The fact that your equipment only consists of just a robe is honestly enviable. ……By the way, that robe. Are you willing to sell it?」
「No, not at all.」
Rei shook his head immediately at Rhodes's question.
「Haa, I guess so. Even if I had one, I wouldn't consider selling it. ……Let's look for a Blue Caterpillar as soon as we can. Have you fought one before?」
「No, I've only read up about it in a book. What about you?」
「I haven't fought one myself, but I've seen my mum and dad fight one. ……But, it was a fight of A rank adventurers. I don't think I could use it as a reference because it was more like a sweep.」
「In that case, how to find one……I guess I'll leave it to Set.」
While Rei and Rhodes talked, Rei looked at Set, who was running around chasing the snow that had started to fall.
Rhodes nodded in silence while looking at Set as well.
Considering the carefree atmosphere and lack of tension from Rei and Set, he had been thinking of searching for Blue Caterpillars himself. And in fact, as a top cla.s.s rank C adventurer, it was possible for Rhodes to do that. Still, he decided to leave it to Rei and Set because he knew their strength. Although Rhodes had confidence in his own combat strength, he had no choice but to say no if he were asked if he could defeat the Orc King that Rei had killed in the Orc settlement. The wall between rank C and B was very tall.
「Set, Look for a Blue Caterpillar from the sky. Because it's a huge worm-like monster that is literally blue in colour, I think it shouldn't be too hard to find.」
Hearing Rei's loud voice, Set used the momentum from chasing after snow to flap his wings and fly up into the sky.
Looking up from the ground, because their best scout, Set, had left, Rei took out the Death Scythe from the Misty Ring to deal with any enemies even if they were caught off guard.
Rhodes also pulled out his longsword from the sheath at his hip, alert of his surroundings.
「Now then. Before we can find a Blue Caterpillar, how much small fry do you think we'll have to deal with?」
Rhodes asked Rei while holding his longsword, but Rei shook his head slightly.
「It won't take too long to find a Blue Caterpillar since Set is scouting from above. But, the amount is going to be a problem. They basically don't act in groups, it may be hard for even Set to find six in a row.」
「……Is Set that good at scouting? I seem to still be disliked as usual.」
When they had been attack the Orc settlement, his first impression had been bad and Set would not approach Rhodes friendly. Even when walking next to Rhodes, Set would ignore him. Still, at least Set didn't put up an aggressive att.i.tude.
「Well, you'll get used to it. I guess we'll have to take our time.」
In a way, even though it was his own fault, Rhodes wasn't too happy that he was disliked.
While they were discussing……
Set, who was the source of the cry, flapped his wings while giving a cry and descending to the ground.
「……Has he found one already?」
Rhodes muttered that but Set ignored him as if he hadn't heard anything and went to rub his head against Rei.
His actions showed that he wanted to be praised.
「Okay, okay. Set is the best. So, where is the Blue Caterpillar?」
Asking while petting Set's back, Set looked in the direction diagonally to the right as was seen from Rei.
「I see, over there is it. ……Now then, what do you want to do?」
「What do you mean, what do we want to do?」
「I mean, a way to fight it. This request was originally something you took up to wipe out the rumors that you got where you were because of your parents' influence right? In that case, do you want to try to fight it by yourself? I'm not boasting but my fighting strength is well known. Even if you fight it with me and complete the request, there might be bad rumors regarding that.」
「Don't say stupid things. I definitely picked up this request……moreover, I understand the root of the problem. However, I don't intend to take a risk even though I have the strength. We should be able to use our strength effectively. If some idiot ever said that, they would only be at that level. After all, they are only at that level. Without knowing one's own ability, why would I care about people who envy me if they are only at that level. ……Well, I wonder if my mum and dad might have let me take on this request because they were concerned about that. Or maybe it was because there are usually few adventurers who take on Blue Caterpillar subjugation requests, that might be the case.」
Rei unintentionally looked towards Rhodes, who had just finished his stating his thoughts.
Contrary to the mother complex he had towards Min, it was surprising to think that he could make such a calm decision as an adventurer.
「What, don't look at me like that. I know what you're thinking, but as a rank C adventurer I still have experience. I don't intend to make poor judgements based on useless personal feelings.」
「Ahh, my bad. I honestly wasn't looking down on you.」
「Hmph, that would be good. Let's go quickly.」
Being a little displeased at Rei's apology, Rhodes gave a snort and started moving in the direction Set had pointed towards..
Rei and Set chased after him.
They walked on foot for about 30 minutes. Before long, they found a creature crawling through the wilderness.
It was Rei's target, a Blue Caterpillar. It's appearance was like a caterpillar and it's body was blue as it's name suggested. But……
「It's definitely blue……but although it's blue, it's a weird blue.」
Rhodes agreed with a bitter smile at the words Rei involuntarily spoke out.
The Blue Caterpillar's body was blue, best described as an organic blue. But it also had a glossy look which made one somewhat reluctant to touch it just by looking at it.
Whether or not the Blue Caterpillar had spotted Rei, it quickly moved towards them while stretching its body in order to eat human flesh, its favourite food. Although it was common for caterpillars to move slowly, there was no such problem for the Blue Caterpillar which was a monster. It shortened the distance between them at a considerable speed. Maybe its ferocity had clouded its vision, it continued advancing without caring about the presence of Set.
「I might even think a Griffon as its food.」
「Well, there's certainly a possibility if you think of its ferociousness. ……So, what do you want to do?」
Rei was going to ask if Rhodes wanted the vanguard or rear guard……but noticed something as he turned to look at the Death Scythe in his hands.
「Rhodes, there's something I would like to try out. If it works, we should be able to reduce the danger to some extent, is that fine?」
「Mm? Because I can only act as the vanguard, I don't mind if the risk level is reduced.」
「Okay. Wait a minute.」
At Rhodes's reply, Rei stored the Death Scythe into the Misty Ring. Instead, he took out a spear with a handle dyed a deep green. Yes, it was the Thorns Spear, his reward for transporting relief supplies to the city of Baar.
「……You, how many magic items do you have.」
He could tell at a glance that Rei's Thorns Spear was a powerful magic item.
「In regards to this, I've only just recently obtained it. It was the reward for going to Baar. Rather than that……don't miss your chance to attack it.」
While watching the Blue Caterpillar, that was 10m away, Rei poured magic power into the Thorns Spear.
「Hmph, who are you talking to. Don't forget I'm still a higher rank.」
「Then you should be able to do what your mouth says……show it and I'll accept it.」
With those words, the Thorns Spear was thrown with Rei's tremendous strength, cutting through the air like an arrow shot by a skilled archer……the next moment, its tip buried itself into the body of the Blue Caterpillar. And.
The Blue Caterpillar raised a scream like cry as its body was suddenly unable to move. There were several layers of thorns spreading out from where the Thorns Spear had pierced, completely immobilising it. The thorns that spread from its body dived into the ground, making it impossible for it to move. No, rather, if it moved under the restraint of the thorns, it would only hurt itself more.
Rhodes understood the opportunity in the situation and dashed forward with his longsword, closing the gap……
The next moment, with the Blue Caterpillar's cry, Rhodes quickly jumped to the side. At the same time, something invisible pa.s.sed through the point Rhodes had been at a moment ago.
Rei reflexively avoided it as well at Rhodes's movement, who was running in front of him.
Something thin and transparent pa.s.sed by Rei's side as it flew in the opposite direction he was moving in.
(A kind of Wind Arrow!)
「Watch out, it's using wind magic.」
In response to Rei's words, Rhodes had already taken advantage of Blue Caterpillar's opening.
Swinging his longsword with a loud shout……the next moment, something transparent blocked it before it hit the Blue Caterpillar. Rhode's expression distorted slightly at the impact.
(Something transparent……no, a wind barrier or something?)
「Rhodes! It's a wind……」
「I know! It's the first time I've actually fought this thing, but I've seen my dad fight them a couple of times. You've done you're work. Next is my turn!」
Shouting that, he jumped backwards lightly to avoid a smash from one of its legs, even though it was immobilised. He took some distance out of the range of the Blue Caterpillar.And.
「The wind barrier is weak to single point attacks. My dad can tear it apart by force……but, I can do this!」
Muttering that, Rhodes adjusted his breathing before focusing his magic power.
As his mother was a mage, Rhodes had inherited some magic power. Still, his fighting style was that of a warrior as he had inherited more of his father's, Elk's, qualities. Rhodes's trump card was that not only did he have magic power, he also had the talent to manipulate it. That is……
The moment he released his magic, he stabbed forward, easily breaking through Blue Caterpillar's wind barrier the moment it came in contact……tearing through its body and scattering fluids into the surroundings.