CHAPTER 1: Hunter Guild Battle
I thought that I wouldn’t be able to sleep in such a dreadful environment, but the next day dawned before I even noticed.
“Human beings really can sleep anywhere, how surprising…”
I decided to remember this weird feeling, and while I was rubbing my sleepy eyes I saw Ringo sleeping in the area next to me.
In the game, they called Ringo the doll princess. I was wondering what might’ve happened if she slept with her eyes open, but thankfully they were properly shut.
On the other hand, even as I’m watching her, she isn’t stirring much, but I suppose that’s normal for her.
Well, let’s get up.
“Oi, Ringo, It’s mor-….”
I spoke to her, but then stopped halfway through.
Yesterday, not only did the people in the city, but even the horses were affected by Hisame’s event. I’d be happy if this situation resolved naturally, but I don’t think much has changed since I slept.
At that time, Ringo didn’t seem to be affected by it, but this may not necessarily be the case today. I had a mildly scary omen fall upon me when I thought about her saying stuff about Hisame and her household.
Speaking of whom, what happened to Hisame? I remembered that she was with us the whole time, so I looked at the place where I had seen her cat ears popping out earlier.
….She ain’t there.
“Hisame? You there?”
I looked around at different areas where she might have been hiding, but I couldn’t see her figure there either.
Did she indeed go home late in the night? Well, when she feels like it, she can instantly know our location with her Seeker’s Ring, and I doubt she’s given up yet, but I’m honestly slightly at ease now that she is no longer looking at us.
Two triangular objects burst out from the pile of hay in front of me.
Those two triangles, moved around the surroundings to search, bobbing up and down while doing so. Then…
“Ah, so I was noticed.”
An arm and a face protruded from the hay. We’ve encounted Hisame again.
“What on earth are you doing….”
I wanted to say that she was a ninja or something, but I felt like I wasn’t too far off.
I was totally startled. When Hisame shook her face and ears to get rid of the straw,
“It was so cold, so what else could I do? You’d had already noticed me monitoring you anyway.”
She said, completely calm and collected.
Well, as I had heard her sneezing the night away, it seems that even Hisame couldn’t win against the cold.
Looking at her protruding cat ears, I thought it was because “she’s a cat”, but maybe it could also be because of that outfit she’s wearing.
In order to maximize her speed, she puts on the minimal amount of things required.
She only has two items on herself – an ultra-light weight katana, and a small adventurer’s bag. She is wearing the <Ama no Hagoromo>, which gives an excellent defense power despite its appearance, but also looks like it can’t protect much against the cold. Other than that, she’s put on tabi  as an accessory.
That stuff doesn’t seem likely to oppose the coldness of the night.
However, this can be seen as a small sacrifice when you consider her strength. Her moving speed and attack speed can surprass Rapid Cancel Dash. If you can get /that/ quick, even if you feel a bit cold in light clothing, then….. Huh?
(Maybe I could use this flaw?)
The lightweight stuff she wears to make her faster is her greatest asset. But, there might be some sort of opening there too.
From the start there is a weak point. If I were successful at aiming at that bit, then….
(Wait, why am I thinking of this with the assumption that I’ll be fighting Hisame?!)
With a fleeting sidelong glance, I looked at Hisame who, with a complacent expression, was dusting off the last bits of straw from her body.
No matter if I go to Hisame’s house or try to escape as it is, there wouldn’t be any point in fighting her. As the event has already progressed, even if I deliberately take a risk and fight Hisame…
(Wait, maybe that’s not the case…?)
That’s it! The event has pretty much begun, but it’s not yet completely that way. If I break the flag here, there’s a possibility I might be able to avoid this fate.
As soon as I thought that, my mouth naturally called out her name.
Hisame, who had just picked out and threw away the last straw on herself, responded to me with a pretty uninterested response.
But, that was only the case until I uttered the next remark.
“As it has been always, don’t you want to have a match with me?”
Hisame’s movements stopped. From a glance, I could definitely see her feelings from that look she gave me.
Her slightly-narrowed eyes have a sharp glint. She probably can’t believe that I had a change of heart regarding being reluctant to fight until now.
As I have always been reluctant to get involved with her, it’d be normal for even people who are not Hisame to suspect that I’ve lost my mind when suddenly I have, out of my own free will, challenged her for a match.
Nevertheless, this is still the best thing I could come up with. This is the ultimate way to avoid Hisame’s event chain.
There are five conditions needed for the <Trials of the Hisame Household> event to occur, but I don’t even need to think about which one is the most important out of them.
—The step where Hisame calls you to her house.
The < Trials of the Hisame Household> event, naturally, does not happen unless you are called to Hisame’s household. No matter how it goes, if this step can be bypassed, even if I satisfy all the other conditions, the event might not start.
If that happens, then the rest is simple.
Hisame is bringing me to her dojo because she simply wants to fight with me. So, if I were to fight her here in advance, there isn’t a reason for Hisame to call me to to the dojo. So, the event flag will be no more.
However, the problem is after the fighting. In the last duel, I misjudged the strength of this event flag, and it came to bite me in the ass as you can see now.
So, this time I won’t cut any corners.
“Yep. Of course I am serious. This time, I won’t bamboozle you like earlier. I really will fight you. However, You’ll have to agree to some conditions.”
Hisame’s cat ears tensed up a bit, and an unsettling atmosphere spread out around the place.
Last time, in one of the previous games, she fell into a trap due to the rules. There’s no wonder why this time she seems a bit cautious.
However, I pretend not to notice it, and state my conditions.
“I want you to stop calling me to the Dojo. This is, of course, regardless of whether you win or lose. I want you to stop asking me to come to the dojo because I lost, or to help out at the dojo because I won.”
There ain’t no point in winning this battle if the event continues progressing.
For me, asking for this condition is a given.
I guess she was anticipating some more extreme conditions. Hisame easily agreed.
This is a relief, but I’m not done yet.
In a manner of speaking, this is just insurance. My main bet is on this match with Hisame.
Even if I’m no longer being called to the dojo, I really should deal with the underlying cause of Hisame having an interest towards me at the moment. My ultimate goal is to make sure Hisame stays away from me, and with this match, I will make sure that happens.
There are two ways for me to go about this.
I can easily lose and make her think “There’s no reason to fight this guy…”, or on the opposing hand, make her think “I don’t want to fight this guy ever again!”.
This time, I’m more inclined to think of doing the latter. In order for me to do that, it’s essential to have a proper place to fight.
I spoke to her again.
“Also, this match is going to be simply a /game/, so do not stake your life on it.”
By using the duel system properly and choosing the right location, the minimum condition to end the match is to faint, leave the arena, or to give up.
This may sound demanding, but this isn’t an unreasonable request. In fact, I’d find it funny if we didn’t decide on any rules before starting a match.”
No matter how much I reasoned, I thought that it’d be difficult for her to accept this much, but…….
“Alright then. We agreed upon something like that earlier anyway. Let’s fight with those conditions.”
I wonder if she deduced that my conditions didn’t have any kind of catch.
While slightly disappointed but still alert, Hisame accepted my conditions.
“The date is three days from now, in the daytime. If possible, in a place where we won’t grab much attention. If you can abide by that, you can decide what the time and place will be.”
To emphasise my sincerity, I allowed the other party to choose the time and place.
There was also a sense of security that I won’t play any cheap tricks on Hisame.
“If that’s the case, then three days from now at the current time, behind there.”
Such a decision suited her. Indeed, she didn’t fuss over where to fight.
I don’t have any problem either.
“Aye. That’s good with me.”
I lightly nod.
If I remember correctly, the back of this place turned into a small courtyard. It’s big enough, and there isn’t much possibility of getting noticed.
The decision of where second duel will be staged has now been made between Hisame and myself.
With that, we should have finished our conversation. Normally, when she has finished business, Hisame would immediately go away. However, she has not moved at all, and for some reason she’s just staring at me.
No, on the contrary, she’s bending forward a bit and looking into my eyes.
I’m not really aware of her normal speech and conduct, but Hisame is a popular character who dominates the top rankings, and has a very well-appointed appearance. Simply speaking, she’s hot.
With such a person getting up so close to me, It’s hard to keep a straight face.
“Nothing. I didn’t notice it before as I never got this close in proximity to you, but if I really look closely, you…..”
At that time, there was a loud noise behind me.
“Aah, oh, you’re awake?”
It’s Ringo. She’s woken up and looking at me with vacant eyes.
I shouldn’t be guilty of anything in particular, but my composure is getting harder to maintain.
That’s why I was relieved when Hisame stopped looking at me so closely.
“Well then, let’s meet up here in three days.…. Don’t forget that I have the Seeker’s Ring.”
After nonchalantly warning me to not run away, Hisame walked off.
“…Is it over?”
I thought I would say something about my talk with Hisame, but Ringo’s reaction wasn’t that much.
When she went “uhuh” and nodded, Ringo wasn’t showing interest, and instead of looking at me, her gaze was at the stable behind me.
Somehow, I decided to look where she was looking.
That’s when I noticed that white horse from yesterday was there. That thing was looking at us for a while.
No problems anymore.
 Tabi = Japanese socks. They have a division between the big toe and the rest. Google image search them, I guess?