[Lotio Mountain Range, ranging 1400km in length and 240km in width, is a gigantic mountain range located between the Republic of Leores and the Arunheim Kingdom. Each mountain peak has a unique environmental condition and is filled with powerful monsters that prevent human habitation. Keilin Mountain and seven other mountains, which all have a height of over 5000 meters, are all in this mountain range….]
A safe road was constructed from the duchy to the republic, but Harin, the person I had to protect, chose to go over the mountain range. That was enough to tell me what situation she was in.
“…Did you study up?” Harin asked.
I put down the book I was reading and replied with a nod, “Somewhat.”
We were currently in a stable where Harin’s beloved horse was staying. I ran to a bookstore first thing in the morning to pick up a book about Lotio Mountain Range and was now in the middle of reading through it.
“….” Harin gave me an odd look. She was doubting my trustworthiness and most likely lamenting her situation where she had to depend on a mere F-rank soldier.
“…It’s fine if you give up.” After some time, Harin said bitterly. “Lotio Mountain range is infamous. It’s not a place a mere soldier can survive through. I’m confident in my martial prowess with the knight training I received, but I can’t guarantee your safety on such a dangerous trip.”
She spoke honestly. She didn’t blame anyone or complain.
“No, it’s fine.”
I accepted the situation. With my Art, [Parkour], climbing a mountain wasn’t much of a problem. The more obstacles it had, the better my Art would perform. Moreover…
[Harin – Eldest Daughter of Loren Clan, Devil Hunter]
Harin’s status reflected by my gift showed a surprising piece of info – ‘Devil Hunter’. She was clearly someone I should keep an eye on.
“Haa… I wonder where your confidence comes from.” Harin furrowed her brows unhappily before gulping down a bottle of water in one go. “Then let’s make something clear before we set out. If anything happens, I will leave you behind without hesitation.”
“…Yes, I understand.” I nodded my head. “Then shall we go?”
Just as I said that… tzzzt— tzzt— A square box Harin put in the corner of the stable emitted strange noises. The box spat out a piece of paper as though it was a printing machine. Harin snatched up the paper in a smooth motion then began to read it.
Harin responded simply, “I asked my friend to investigate your background.”
“….” Didn’t people usually keep quiet about background investigations? I wasn’t sure whether to call her honest or shameless.
Harin glanced at me and murmured, “Please understand. It’s just to confirm whether your identity is true or not.”
“…Ah, yes.” I was curious what background I had as well, so I just sat still. After a brief moment, Harin’s eyes became a little wider.
“You were an herbalist?”
“Huh? Ah, yeah.”
“…Yeah?” Harin’s eyes turned sharp. I had spoken casually subconsciously.
“Ah, my apologies.”
“…I don’t know when we will say farewell, but please don’t forget about manners.”
Harin gave me a displeased glare before beginning to read the paper again.
“Your family….” But in the next moment, Harin paused. She didn’t finish her sentence. She raised her head slowly, then dropped the paper in a fluster when she met my eyes.
Her honest reaction was an obvious giveaway that I didn’t have parents in this world. The co-author sure made that one detail consistent.
“Are you finished?”
“Yes, but I want to ask again. Will you really not give up?”
I grinned and nodded my head.
“…Understood. Leines!” Harin let out a light sigh and led her horse, Leines, out of the stable. Meanwhile, I glanced at the paper lying on the floor.
[Lorenzio’s F-rank Knight, Kim Hajin]
[Special Note – Has experience working as an herbalist at the outskirts of the duchy.]
[Training Records – 510 shots, 610 lookouts, 410 close-combat… Has potential to be promoted to B-rank sharpshooter.]
[Family – Orphan. Came to the Lorenzio Temple when he was six and stayed there for ten years before becoming an herbalist.]
At that moment, Harin asked, “Do you really know how to ride a horse? …Ah, I’ll get rid of the report.”
Harin saw that the report was in my hand and burned it using her magic power. Then, she asked again, “Do you know how to ride a horse?”
I took the reins and led Leines. The sky above was getting brighter.
Sitting on the racing horse, Harin thought, ‘This sharpshooter, his horse-riding skill is better than I imagined. I’ve never seen anyone handle Leines so well.’
With a cry, Leines suddenly came to a stop. Kim Hajin pulled the reins back and spoke, “It seems we’re here.”
Harin hid her surprise and looked around. A sky-high mountain range filled the distant view. From the duchy to Lorio Mountain Range, only 40 minutes had passed. Their travel speed was incredible.
Harin hopped down from Leines’s back and undid the reins and saddle. Knowing what it meant, Leines shook his head and clacked his hooves. Unfortunately, Leines’s journey would end here.
“…You can go now.”
Leines stomped the ground, clearly expressing reluctance.
Harin consoled Leines, “You did well to get me here. You’re a excellent horse, so you’ll be able to live happily with an owner of your choice…”
With that, Harin stood at the entrance of the mountain range. “Let’s go.” She spoke with determination.
I looked at her and nodded my head, “I’ll take the lead.”
The first mountain we had to overcome was ‘Ploriun’. It was just like any other mountain until the 2000-meter mark. Any higher and a bone-chilling cold filled the air.
“Will you?” Harin still seemed to have doubts but asked in a nicer tone than the first time we met.
“Don’t worry, I have good eyesight.” I answered with confidence.
24 hours afterwards, 2350-meter mark of Ploriun.
I was currently lying on a cold rock halfway up the mountain. Climbing the mountain was easy thanks to Parkour, but the problem was with my stamina. After all, I had climbed the mountain without stopping for 24 hours.
[Your stamina increases by 0.3 points.]
[Your vitality increases by 0.2 points.]
[Your strength increases by 0.2 points.]
[Your stamina increases by 0.1 points.]
Of course, my stats were rising rapidly as well. Harin said it would take at least three months to get over the mountain range, so by the end, my stats should be mostly recovered as well.
“Are you okay?” Harin looked down at me and asked.
I nodded my head silently.
“Your stamina is better than I thought.” Harin murmured. Then, she examined the grass in the area and harvested some of it. She also picked up some sticks that could serve as kindling and put them in her bag.
As I kept staring at her, she even took the time to explain, “We have to gather as many herbs, kindling, and food as possible. The forest will disappear once we get up into the extreme cold.”
“… I see.” I nodded my head and raised my body.
Harin gave me a strange look.
“You’re done resting already?”
“Pardon? Ah, yes, let’s go.”
My stats went up as I used up stamina, so it was better to keep myself a little tired.
We picked up our bags and began to climb the mountain once more. As we got further up, the greenery on the ground disappeared, replaced with icy dirt. The chilling temperature cut into my skin like blades.
But with [Random Consolidation System] boosting the heat-resistant property of my clothes, I was able to endure the cold better.
I looked at Harin. She was enduring the cold with qi reinforcement. Seeing this, I was reminded of her setting, [Devil Hunter].
She was undoubtedly an important character in this world. She probably had an important role in fighting Baal. Without doubt, she was someone I had to keep safe.
Once we reached the 4000-meter mark, the extreme chill became too harsh to endure. I had no choice but to strengthen my equipment with Stigma’s magic power.
“Are we going the right way? I can trust you, right?” At that moment, Harin asked. Her voice was frigid with cold.
“Yes, just follow me.” I replied confidently. But perhaps my tone provoked the mountain, as snow-white snowflakes began to pour down.
It was a whiteout. Harin shouted immediately.
“It’s a snowstorm! Be careful!”
Harin headed to the opposite direction as she said that. The person who told me to be careful was lost herself. She had lost her sense of direction from the whiteout.
Seeing her heading towards a cliff, I grabbed her wrist and pulled her back strongly.
“Ah! W-Who is it—! Is it you—?!”
“Yes, it’s me. I can hear you fine, so you don’t have to shout. Just follow my lead.”
This snowstorm even had magic power mixed in the air, making it all the more difficult to endure.
“Whew… I see a cave over there.”
Considering how long we climbed without rest, no one would curse us for taking a break here.
I began to walk to a natural cave about 500 meters away.
28 hours since the beginning of climbing, a cave in Ploriun Mountain.
A campfire burned as three skewered fish cooked above it. Harin smacked her lips and swallowed her saliva as she watched the fish.
When I stared at her, she murmured as if to give an excuse, “…It’s been a while since I’ve had meat.”
“Campfires leave behind tracks.”
“Mm… You’ve been on the run for a long time?”
Harin flinched. Her eyes trembled as though they were having an internal earthquake. Soon, she let out a deep sigh and spoke honestly, “…Yes, I’m on the run. That’s why I chose this mountain range.”
“Why are you running away?”
“…It’s better that you don’t know. In case I get captured, that is.”
With that, Harin picked up a skewer. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to hear the full story but gave up and left it for another day. I looked outside the cave. The snowstorm was showing no signs of ending.
I turned back to Harin.
She was busy eating the fish. She finished it in the blink of an eye and then looked at me with satisfied yet suspicious eyes.
“…By the way.” Harin sat tall. Her tone was serious. “Are you really an F-rank soldier?”
I replied with a grin, “You’ve seen the report.”
“…An F-rank soldier can’t possibly endure Ploriun’s extreme cold.”
What she was saying made sense, but I just gave the same answer she did.
“It’s better than you don’t know.”
It was then. A new alert popped up in front of me.
[A core character of this world, Devil Hunter Harin, takes interest in you.]
Harin closed her mouth. After that, we didn’t talk to each other and just stared at the snowstorm outside the cave. Soon, Harin glanced at me and handed me a skewer. I told her she could have it.
“I have another question.” Harin asked as she nibbled on the fish, “Why did you join Lorenzio’s army?”
It wasn’t a question I had the answer to. I wanted to stay quiet, but a good idea suddenly popped up in my head.
With a cough, I leaned against the cave wall and set the atmosphere. I put on a solemn expression and made myself look a little nervous. Then, in the heavy atmosphere, I muttered.
“To beat up a devil, maybe?”
Harin’s body shook strongly. She stared at me with widened eyes. I wanted to feel out the title [Devil Hunter]. It worked even better than I thought.
I replied nonchalantly to her question. It didn’t matter what she asked from here. Her investigation found that I was an orphan. No one knew my background before I came to the orphanage. In other words, I was free to make things up as I pleased.
Harin swallowed hard and asked again, “Do you believe that devils exist?”
Hearing this, I put on the best act imaginable. I clenched my teeth and fists so that my veins would show and pushed my hair back roughly.
Harin carefully observed my reaction.
I maintained silence and shook my head. It was clear what I meant. Unable to wait, Harin approached me.
“Tell me. Do you believe in the existence of devils?”
I gave her a sharper glare, clearly asking her not to ask any further. But Harin didn’t back down. We got into a staring contest for a few minutes, then I muttered as though I was giving up.
“When I turned six… it killed my family.”
Harin’s face turned stiff. She was most likely thinking about the family background she read in the report about me.
“A human turned into a horned monster and killed everyone.”
I tried to act angry.
“Devil is the only way I can describe him.”
Harin fell silent. She backed off. In the dark cave, she closed her eyes and pondered. Soon, she nodded her head with a sad expression.
She seemed to have reached an understanding as she spoke with confidence.
“I understand now.”
I looked at her. She looked content and was staring at me like looking at a comrade.
“I understand why Airun sent you to me.”
Just like that, she took the bait.Previous Chapter Next Chapter