~~Eight Oclock in the Afternoon, Eighteenth Day of the Fourth Month, Ninety-Fourth Year of the War Demon Calendar~~
Having received a message from Itsuki that Duncan had business with us, we decided to drop by the Adventurers Guild.
It was quite rare for Duncan to call for someone specifically like this.
I also happened to have some free time now despite being busy with many things, so I suppose the timing couldnt be any better.
Once I got inside, I was met with yet another nostalgic individual.
Oh, I see – Duncan mustve called me here for this.
Duncan shot me a wink upon noticing that I had realized what was up, so I ordered us some drinks before walking up to the individual in question.
Here he was – Dallas the Scarlet Blade, a warrior who had fought alongside us against the Ogre King two years ago.
He was a man of few words, the same as ever, but what wasnt the same was his elevated abilities, as was apparent from a single look.
As a top-notch warrior who had been promoted to Rank S at the same time as Bruce had, he looked as if he hadnt aged up, but rather became more refined as ever.
“Long time no see, sir!”
Should I be jealous that his greeting to her was longer than the one Id gotten
Well, I guess it didnt matter either way – Pochi didnt have a bad perception of Dallas, and that was what mattered.
They did talk for a while on our way back from the battle back then, so that was probably how theyd gotten along.
“Ay~y, gimme leg~”
Duncan served our order, but not before uttering a few words with… creepy implications to Pochi.
That was what Id used to consider it as, anyway, but by now Pochi and I have gotten used to it.
Dallas ignored that and held up his mug, prompting Pochi and me to look at each other, and then raise our cups to toast.
Despite how noisy the whole establishment around us was, it felt as if Dallas had created and was living in his own, separate space.
Not a party, but an individual – that was the impression I got.
I had felt that to be the case for some time now, of course, but that didnt make it feel any less mysterious how he was like an unmixing color of paint.
In a sense, Id been living in isolation up until relatively recently, so perhaps that made me feel a level of affinity with him
“…So, I heard youve got yourselves into trouble again.”
“Well, yes, a bit here and a bit there…”
I answered Dallas with a wry smile, prompting him to put down his mug and ponder things over.
That was unexpected… yes,unexpected was the right word.
“First of all, I would like to thank you for rescuing Ryan.”
“…You two were acquainted, sir”
As I answered, I was agape with surprise, and so was Pochi.
“A long time ago…”
Right, Ryan and Dallas should be around the same age.
Pretty sure they werent even a year apart, actually.
But Id never expected them to be acquainted.
From how Dallas spoke, perhaps theyd been in the same party or something of the sort
“Havent been keeping up, but its good to know that hes calmed down at some point, at least…”
“…Are you sure were still talking about Sir Ryan”
Dallas said nothing and only nodded.
The history of Ryan, the charismatic leading man of Faltown… Ill admit that Im quite curious.
However, I was sure that the topic at hand didnt have anything to do with that.
Considering how Dallas wanted to meet with me specifically, and how he rarely came to Beilanea in the first place, I would assume that it was relatively urgent.
I was now all ready to listen, but then Dallas only raised his mug and took another drink.
“…This isnt the right place.”
I see… As far as I could think of, the only places where we could meet were the Adventurers Guild and the Pochisley Agency, though.
Still, Duncan sending Itsuki to pass on the message to me meant that the meeting couldnt be at the Agency.
Was he avoiding… something
Id never set up a Telepathic Call with Dallas, so that was out, too.
In the end, the only option left was here at the Guild.
So here we were, but he still cant talk about it.
Couldnt we have met up at some different place, then
No – this place does have its advantages for that, particularly in how people were always around.
Could it be that… Dallas doesnt trust me
Hmm, doesnt seem to be the case, judging from his reaction… but he did seem to be quite cautious.
And so, for a while, we sat and drank with Dallas while talking over some trivial matters.
Then at a certain point, he left the Adventurers Guild in somewhat of a hurry, but also without seeming suspicious.
To others, it would seem as if hed left for a walk to sober up.
We followed him as he headed southeast.
-Just a moment before I could say anything, Pochi spoke the same thing that Id thought up instead.
“I knew it… the Colorful Food District!”
“Yeah, looks like it.”
As we walked on, we found ourselves going through the silent part of town, and after that the number of lanterns on the wayside gradually increased until it was as bright as daytime.
The townscape was wrapped in a harmony of bright colors, appetizing food, the scent of women, and the prominent presence of effeminate men.
So here we are at the Colorful Food District, and Im already feeling the sharp stares from around me, though not to the point of feeling like murderous intent.
…But of course.
What the Districts got right now was twohuman trafficking competitors walking down their street, smack dab in enemy territory.
This sort of reaction was fully expected.
Dallas completely disregarded Pochis words and my reaction – didnt even turn to respond to us.
He only walked straight on ahead.
The destination must be somewhere around here… any second now.
It seemed that, as Tangalán had said, everyone had already realized that I had returned.
Maybe I should have taken off my glasses today… Betty had said that Id be fine if Id done that.
Id tried taking them off for my first day back in town, and even the Silver trio actually stopped recognizing me, so it probably worked out.
Hmm, maybe theyd seen this current predicament of mine coming eventually.
Dallas said just that, without any other explanation.
The establishments to both our sides were swarming with customers, and full of beautiful women on the other side of their caged windows.
In Dallas front, however, was an unlit, practically abandoned shop.
Well, no – straight-up abandoned.
No way its still in business looking like that.
The Colorful Food District naturally changed popular trends over time, so such establishments werent exactly rare, but what could Dallas have to do with this kind of place
We took the backstreet between this building and the store to the right, and then went around to the backside.
What seemed to be a dead-end housed a dried-out well, blocked off with some old planks.
Dallas proceeded to remove the planks and jumped down the hole.
“…Were supposed to go in here, sir”
“Well, Sir Dallas did already go on ahead, so…”
“I can tell that somethings gonna jump at us from there!”
“Yeah, like this one guy called Dallas the Scarlet Blade.”
“Huh! How did you know!”
Because he just went in there, doggo.
“Well, see ya on the other side!”
“Oh, for the love of God! Id rather not do this, but… oh, well!”
I was the second to go down the well, and then Pochi followed.
It wasnt as deep as Id expected – only about fifty to sixty meters, so I managed to land on my feet.
The air felt dense and somewhat lukewarm.
Quite dank and prominent with the trademarkunderground smell, too.
Pochi, despite managing to land softly on my head and shoulders, was spooked by Dallas fire-lit face and ended up toppling me over.
Bah, so heavy.
So this isnt just some old well… huh
As it turned out, the place seemed more of a deliberately built underground passage.
Candle stand-like protuberances, all lit, had been built in equal intervals on the wall.
Oh, so thats where the fire came from.
“What is this place”
“…Just follow me.”
Well excuuuuuse me, princess! AM I NOT FOLLOWING HIM!
We navigated through a complicated series of passages, went up a staircase along the way, then down again… Now this design would effectively deter the average trespasser.
I bet I wouldnt be able to find my way back without Dallas guidance.
I still could manage with the Teleportation spell, of course.
Eventually, Dallas came to a stop at an unassuming location, with the path still going deeper in.
Wait, is it just me, or does the air here feel different
“Oh, here we are.”
Pochi pointed her front paw at the wall, to which Dallas nodded.
He then drew his sword and poked it into a small scratch on the wall, triggering the mechanism to open it up, complete with the rock friction noise.
“Ooh, hidden door… Cool…”
“Look, Master! A door!”
For the record, I did notice that before Pochi pointed it out.
With Dallas urging me to go on ahead, I was rushed to the door by Pochi.
Turning the heavy-looking metal doorknob, I then pulled it slowly.
“Whats wrong, Master”
“…You push it.”
…I pushed it slowly.