What He Wanted to Hide
Serulis saw the boy and held her sword ready.
Demonkind tended to have powerful magic abilities. And they were rarely seen in these parts.
Most of them were also stronger than the average human.
Serulis asked him in a quiet voice.
“Yo-you’re a demon, aren’t you?”
I smiled and called out to him.
“That was an impressive illusion.”
“I am Locke. And this is Serulis.”
“…My name is Luchila.”
So saying, he bowed his head.
A very polite boy.
“So Luchila, what is it that you are trying to protect?”
He thought for a moment.
He was wondering if he should tell us.
“Well, it is fine if you really don’t want to tell us.”
Luchila and Serulis said at the same time.
Perhaps they had similar personalities.
“It wasn’t exactly included in the quest completion requirements.”
“That may be, but…”
Serulis was not satisfied with that.
I could understand how she felt. And I was honestly, quite curious myself.
However, I didn’t like the idea of forcing someone to reveal something that they wanted to stay hidden.
Unless there was a good reason for it.
And so I said gently,
“But the human villagers are frightened. They believe that a fearsome monster is here. I am sure that you know why.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Can you not do something about that?”
The villagers were afraid because of his illusions.
If Luchila would only stop casting them, then the root of their fears would vanish.
And the quest would be complete.
“…That won’t be easy.”
“Won’t be easy?”
“He said it won’t be easy. What should we do?”
I ignored Serulis and said to Luchila,
“I know that you are protecting something with your illusions. Can you not move it to someplace else?”
“We could help you do it. We could even find a new location for you.”
Even if it required money, that could still be arranged.
If I had my money returned to me from the country’s treasury, it would be a large amount.
Eric would return it immediately if I asked for it.
“We are not here to expose you by force. However, we will fail the quest if we leave it like this. Do you understand?”
“Yes. I understand.”
“And well, I don’t even mind that…”
“What? You don’t mind!?”
Serulis said in bewilderment.
She was now yanking on my sleeve.
“Wa-wait a minute, Mister Locke. Failing this quest would be terrible for me.”
“You shouldn’t worry too much over a little failure.”
“But I will worry… Failing my first quest… What will daddy say…”
“Goran won’t say anything. And you can’t be demoted if you’re F Rank.”
It went without saying, but Goran knew a lot about being an Adventurer.
He wasn’t going to say anything just because she failed once or twice.
However, once you were above E Rank, having a completion rate lower than 30% would make a demotion quite likely.
But that didn’t happen to F Rank Adventurers, so failing was not a problem.
“How can you say that? …This is terrible. I want to raise my rank quickly so I can catch up with daddy.”
It was true that avoiding failure was best if you wanted to go up.
“Serulis, could you be quiet for a second.”
Surprisingly, she became quiet.
And then I turned back to Luchila.
“I don’t really mind if this quest ends in failure.”
Serulis flinched, but I ignored her.
“However, if we do, then they will only send another Adventurer here. Do you understand?”
“Yes. I understand.”
“Maybe the next Adventurer will be a much more forceful type. Maybe the next one will decide to kill you and get it over with.”
“That won’t serve anyone. And so I want to avoid that.”
Luchila thought about it with a serious expression.
I waited silently. Serulis started to yank on my sleeve again but I paid her no mind.
After a while, Luchila seemed to have decided, and he opened his mouth.
“I understand. I will show you, Mister Locke.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. And I don’t mind if you pick up your discarded sword either.”
“Thank you. It is very valuable to me.”
I picked up the sword, and then Luchila said,
“Now then, Mister Locke, Miss Serulis. Please follow me.”
Luchila went inside of the dense forest. It seemed like he was going into the mountains.
As we walked, I asked him,
“Why did you decide to show us?”
“I thought that my illusions were not working on you, Mister Locke.”
“No, I wouldn’t say that. I did see the dragon.”
“No, it did not work. You did not fight it as if it were a real dragon.”
“Well, I did know that it was an illusion.”
By fighting it like a real dragon, he meant like what Serulis had been doing.
Dodge its claws and tail and cut into it with your sword. That way of fighting.
I knew that it was an illusion, so I decided to destroy the magic core.
That’s what he meant, I suppose.
“I realized that you were much stronger than me, Mister Locke. And wouldn’t it have been easier for you to find out by force, rather than try to persuade me?”
“Well, that’s not wrong.”
“And so I decided to trust you.”
“I see. Thank you.”
He understood that we meant well. That was nice.
However, Serulis was yanking on my sleeve again.
“But, what does this mean?”
“Uhhh…I’ll tell you later.”
Serulis did not seem to get it. But it would be embarrassing to lay it out here.
Using force would have been easier, but I used persuasion.
And so Luchila had decided that I would not immediately resort to force upon witnessing what the secret was.
Something like that.
After walking up the mountain road for some time, Luchila stopped.
There was a small shrine, and inside of the shine was a grand, mystical…chicken.