I let loose a deep sigh right as I stepped outside the guild.
The weight of my feet seems like it’s protesting my departure.
(……No, this won’t do, I should really change perspective to face reality.)
「I should return to my room and prepare to leave.」
I purposely said out loud to distract myself.
My luggage isn’t that much, and it’s still morning after all.
I can probably make it out of the city before noon if I pick up my pace.
Now that it had become like this, it wouldn’t help even if I stayed longer around here.
The room I’m renting is in the dorms managed by the guild for solo adventurers.
I had lost my rights to stay in that room.
In any case, I must depart soon.
Since Balzac is populated, the living costs is high too.
It would be hard for me to keep living in this town now that I’ve lost my license.
Let’s return to the dorm.
When I was adjusting my rucksack due to its heavy weight on my shoulders before setting out――
From the main street leading to the dungeon, I noticed a familiar party was walking towards me.
The Hero’s party that I was expelled half a year ago.
(They said they would be staying in the dungeon to focus on leveling for a while, did they come out to resupply items……?)
They sure develop fast, being close to twenty years younger than me.
When I was travelling in the same party, I was always surprised by that.
I feel nostalgic seeing them.
I probably won’t ever see them again after leaving the town today.
It is somewhat awkward to face them.
But it might be fate that I saw them, I waved towards them with one hand.
「Hey, It’s been a while.」
「Old man Douglas ……」
The Hero, Alan put up a firm expression and called out my name.
I awkwardly greeted the Sage, Edmond and the Vanguard, Dario beside Alan.
It is only the Wizard, Fanny, the only female in the party who was happy at the sight of me.
「It’s been a long time, Douglas-san. To meet you in the town like this, what a coincidence! 」
Just as I was about to reply, Edmond came to the front as if shielding Fanny from me.
「This wasn’t a coincidence, you were looking to ambush us, right? 」
「Douglas-san, the answer is same no matter what. We will not put you back in our party. It’s time that you give up on this matter. For goodness sake, think about the receiving end of your demands too……. 」
「Ah, no, not that. I have no such intentions today. 」
Edmond was scratching his neck awkwardly as he realized his mistake.
（The receiving end huh……）
Certainly, there was that one time I asked for reconsideration right after I was expelled from the party.
I was probably too desperate at that time to make them have such an opinion of me.
It isn’t a good idea to face them now huh……
As I thought this, I tried my best to show a bright smile.
「I have decided to leave this town today, but then I saw you guys in the distance. I just wanted to greet you guys the very last time. 」
「Leaving the town?」
Edmond stole a few glimpses at my appearance.
Somewhere in the middle, his expression of being troubled loosened up.
Even a small smile can be seen floating to the surface.
But somehow, I felt more distant with the current Edmond.
His smile gave off a chilly feeling.
「I don’t think there’s any town that’s more suited for adventurers than here. Do you have an emergency to attend to? 」
「I see. By the way, what happened to your weapon? 」
「My weapon was……」
「Ah, pardon me. It seems that I’ve asked a sensitive question. 」
Edmond covered his mouth and started laughing.
「Pu―hahaha. Such a mean person, Edmond’s such a mean person, don’t push the old man too far if you knew already. Your license was revoked, right?? Old man. 」
Dario, the Vanguard asked with a loud voice.
Edmond who seemed unable to hold back anymore burst out laughing, while Fanny seemed like she didn’t know what to do.
Alan was averting his eyes.
I could only return a bitter smile.
「By the way, what can he possibly do if he can’t adventure anymore. 」
「Take a look at that rucksack of his, isn’t it filled to the brim with potion bottles? 」
Dario and Edmond continued their own conversation.
The pace of conversation between young people sure is fast.
I could only listen to their conversation while putting up a bitter smile.
It was the same when I was in the party.
「Uwaah, is that real? Doesn’t that mean old man’s a potion merchant now!? old man, you’ve really fallen rock bottom huh! 」
「Ah……. Oh yeah, do you guys need any potions? I bought too much to be used myself, it would be fine if you guys take some……」
I finally managed to reply something.
However, they only sighed with an awkward expression.
「No-no, our HP can’t be healed with just potions.」
「It’s a trash item for us. Isn’t that right? 」
「Ah-, That’s right……」
「Come to think of it, is Douglas-san’s HP still decreasing even after that?」
「Haha-, he’s definitely gonna die if it were to decrease any furt――」
「Oi, stop right there. 」
A loud voice was raised suddenly from Alan.
Everyone there was so surprised that they swallowed their breath unconsciously.
Even my shoulders shook a little from that.
Even though Alan is someone who holds the title of Hero, he’s the type that’s quiet and doesn’t show emotions easily.
It’s unusual for him to raise his voice like this.
Could he be standing up for me?
Is his concern for me showing from his cold heart?
「We have no time to be conversing useless topics. Oldman Douglas, sorry but we’re in a hurry. 」
「Ah, is it? It’s my bad for taking up your time, I wish you all the best in your trip. 」
Alan raised his hand lightly and passed by my side.
His party member followed behind.
I saw off the figures of them leaving.
But they never looked back once.
――It’s been half a month since I left Balzac.
I’m continuing my aimless journey.
At first, I thought about returning to my hometown.
But, my single mother had passed away three years ago.
There’s no one there waiting for my return.
Well, it isn’t too bad to be swept by the wind.
I cheered myself up for being a wanderer.
In the town or village I came across, I did some odd jobs to save up on travel fees so that I can proceed to the next town.
That’s my ‘style’ now.
But there were a few times that I’ve met a swindling job introducer, and got my reward money completely taken away.
Come to think of it, even when I was in the Hero’s group, I was often told by everyone how I was the type to be scammed easily.
That I was too trusting in others, and was too naïve for being so open to the others.
I can’t help it.
Is being honest not good?
No……, that can’t be true…….
I believe being honest is the only worth I have.
The work I received had always been low-paying, filthy, difficult and dangerous.
But I can’t possibly complain.
Even being the worthless old man for the guild in a populated town of me, there’s still a demand that I can fulfil in small villages, so I’m really thankful.
It’s been three years after the resurrection of the Demon King.
The demonic beings which had gained more power became a threat to humanity.
Because of the increasing frequency of their notoriety across the continent, there were many jobs regarding subjugations of such demonic beings.
But if I were to mention my inability to use skills, the information broker’s attitude would turn 180.
『If so, there’s no jobs I can recommend to you except collecting Totten Grass or the disposal of corpses of demonic beings.』After being told that, I had no choice but to accept the request.
The Totten Grass that is starting to dry up has an effect of hallucination, I collected them like my life depended on it while my consciousness is shaky.
Worst of all, the hallucination that Totten Grass shows is your worst trauma.
My license card was taken away by my own past comrades, while being scolded as a burden is what I saw multiple times while gathering the Totten Grass.
And so, I realized for the first time, my most feared is not being useful to anyone.
Disposing the demonic being’s corpses is also a huge trouble.
After disposing the demon being’s corpses, my whole body is sure to be covered with sticky mucus-like substance.
Furthermore, the fishy smell doesn’t come off even after washing my body.
So, getting chased out of an inn, camping outside had become the norm for me.
Maybe I could’ve gotten more money if I used my skills. But in my case, using a skill is the same thing as shortening my life.
When I was an adventurer in the past, I truly thought that dying in a battle was glory, I continued using skills even if my HP would decrease.
An adventurer that can’t use a skill, would be casted away no doubt in an instant in a big town like Balzac, that I understood.
But now, I’m clearly afraid of death.
For someone like me that had lost anything to bet my life on, I chose to cling onto life.
I thought about that every night as I closed my eyes on the bed of a cheap inn.
It seems that I had lost my pride and confidence together with my adventure license.
The night would grow my emptiness and misery.
The times where I couldn’t take it anymore and silently bit my arm and wept couldn’t be counted.
When I was fifteen, I left the house despite my mother pulling at my hair is because I wanted to be useful for more people.
I just wanted to do what I felt right.
Even though I became an adventurer because of that.
My heart is left with nothing but loneliness now.
In the end, what was my life for.
The life before my adventurer license was revoked flashed by in my mind.
The past me that felt even death is nothing if I were to be useful was happy.
Even if it’s because of my silly ego――…….
――When I arrived at the forest that spread across country border, I had already been a wanderer for almost three months.
「I’m totally late, aren’t I……」
Originally, I would’ve arrived here much earlier.
However, it’s already dusk.
Because I was helping a grandmother who I met by chance this morning , I was totally late leaving the village on time.
I couldn’t help it when I saw the hunched back grandmother trying to carry a barrel full of water on her back.
There’s the border checkpoint right after this forest.
I had to make it in time before the checkpoint closes for the day.
Camping outside in a forest, is dangerous and tiring.
For someone that can’t even fully recover from his fatigue even after sleeping on a comfy bed in an inn, it’s somewhat difficult.
「Alright, let’s try my best for a little while more. 」
I picked up my pace following the path in the forest as I cheered myself.
It was about when I was through the middle of the forest, I realized some foreign smell is mixed in the air.
The smell of blood and beast.
I looked further into the forest.
The silhouette of a beast could be seen.
I tried to focus back on the path.
(I can’t ignore what I saw……)
I gave up sleeping on the bed in the checkpoint, and stepped into the woods.
Stepping on dried-up branches and soil as I walk.
(……On the side)
I listened closely.
It seems to be weakened considerably.
Probably injured somewhere.
As I cut through the thick and overgrown foliage while holding my breath――
Surrounded by plants and trees, a huge beast with golden fur lied in a vacant space.
The mouth that was breathing with a ‘haa-haa’ sound could be seen with a pair of sharp fangs.
It looks like a wolf, but the body is too big.
Above all, the purple blood that flowed from its body is the proof of demonic beings.
（……A Fenrir? ）
I swallowed my saliva unconsciously.
I’ve heard about it from stories before, but seeing directly is my first.
But I heard that Fenrir is a kind of rare species even amongst demonic beings, they would rarely appear in human’s territory……
（No, now is not the time for that……）
The Fenrir is wounded all over its body.
Its golden fur is stained with purple blood.
Is it a hunter? An arrow could be seen sticking out of its back.
It’s painful for me to even look at it.
「This is bad……」
The curled-up Fenrir exhaled while raising its
It was trying to intimidate me, but bloody foam could be seen forming on both sides of its mouth.
「Ah, I see. You’re afraid. I won’t do anything so please calm down. 」
I revealed my hands and crouched down.
「See? I don’t have any weapon on me. 」
It is to convey that I have no hostility.
Even so, the Fenrir wouldn’t stop growling at me.
「I have to stop your bleeding now before it’s too late, but I can’t do that while the arrow is stuck in your body.」
I walk forward slowly with one small step at a time.
The growl had become weaker.
I grab ahold of the arrow as I keep repeating it’s gonna be alright.
「Sorry but it’ll sting quite a bit. Endure it for a while. 」
After saying that, I used my both hands and tried to pull on the arrow with force.
The Fenrir cried loudly while swinging its tail furiously.
The broadhead of the arrow probably tore at its meat considerably.
「Sorry, it must’ve hurt a lot……tsu 」
I encouraged the Fenrir but I lost my balance.
Just as I got up on my feet.
The tail hit my stomach.
The severe pain felt caused a weird noise to come out.
Maybe that hit took out one or two of my ribs.
I took a deep breath as I tried to endure the pain.
It was at the same time, that I realized that the skin of my hand had been torn.
It was bleeding too.
(It’s slippery because of this huh……)
I took out a dagger from my rucksack and cut my sleeves off. With it, I wrapped up my hands.
(This will do for now. One more try.)
I grit my teeth and hold my breath while putting every single inch of muscle I’ve got into it.
There’s a feeling of meat getting torn away.
It looks painful.
「A little more. Just a little more……」
Was it the Fenrir or me who said that?
I couldn’t differ anymore.
The sweat from my forehead was dripping like a leaking faucet.
The tip of the arrow!
With a slimy feeling, I was finally able to pull it out completely.
「Pant, pant……. Good…… good job enduring that……」
I said to the Fenrir while running out of breath.
It’s the consequences of using my full power trying to pull the arrow out.
The Fenrir started to lick at the wound caused by the arrow.
(……Nn? ……There’s a big birthmark on its belly……)
I noticed that after the Fenrir changed its posture.
As I peered deeper, I swallowed my breath.
That isn’t a birthmark.
What was on its belly was an amber-colored curse spell――…….
「……What could’ve happened that a Hex would be on a Fenrir… 」
As I had a monologue with myself, the Fenrir raised its face.
It was as if it understood my words.
「Can you let me have a look at it? 」
The Fenrir shut its eyes as if to affirm.
A Hex is one of the many forbidden skills solely for making the opponent suffer.
There are many different types of Hex that have different effects, but they are all the same that they’re sure to bring immense sufferings.
In the first place, Hex are used to make the opponent suffer before killing them.
It’s cruel to cast a Hex even if it’s not a human.
I came down on my knees as I hugged my chest due to my broken ribs.
The Fenrir is staying put without making a fuss.
「I’m will finish up soon.」
As I said that, I pushed away the blood-stained fur blocking my view.
The belly is exposed.
「……! It can’t be, such a thing……」
I was so disturbed that my voice came out trembling.
I was stunned as I understood the meaning of the engraved Hex.
It was because……
『Hex of Transformation』.
The Fenrir was cast with a Hex that transforms a human into a beast.
In other words, the Fenrir in front of me is indeed a human.