Encounter of the Heroes
“Bro, I can’t give you much info with that kind of change. Even if you’re a regular. I gotta ask, why are you pouring so much money into this?”
“I’m looking for someone, and I don’t know much about them. Just tell me what you can with this. Got any unusual info? Like something you’ve never seen before or someone extraordinary?”
There are also back alleys in the town of Miinya.
They are teeming with vagrants and criminals, but that’s where information brokers usually set up their shops. They’re basically illegal businesses.
Takuto had to fend off the relentless advances of sharp-eyed prostitutes to get here, but they have a keen sense for money, so he had quite a tough time. He’s at that age when he’s curious himself, but the back alleys were just too sketchy. It smelled like danger. In various ways.
“Let’s see… There’s a Knight in the Empire with terrifying skills, it seems. I can’t go into details with this amount… And in Arland, there’s supposedly a frighteningly powerful magician. As for the Saintess, there’s no confirmed information beyond rumors. The information control in that country is top-notch, and they’re not exactly lenient when it comes to sharing information abroad. Ostland recently had a Stampede incident, but they say they were able to deal with it. That country has the weakest military on the continent, so something seems off. Rumor has it that the Saintess appeared there too. And in the Silvatonia Magic Kingdom, there seems to be a recent increase in magicians. That’s about it.”
All of this is vague information, but it caught Takuto’s interest.
“Tell me more about Ostland and Arland. Will this do?”
Takuto handed over a small pouch with additional coins. The information broker checked the contents of the pouch and smiled slyly. It contained ten gold coins.
“Alright. Ostland is a country of learning. It doesn’t have much industry since culture is everything over there, so it’s impossible for them to fight a war. It’s a worthless country once the intellectuals get picked off one by one. Arland, on the other hand, is a kingdom of warriors, that’s been called the mortal enemy of the glorious Empire. It’s a reclusive nation of warriors with the continent’s greatest military power. They don’t usually start wars, but once they do, they fight tooth and nail, so they are quite terrifying. The people there support the Royal family, so their unity is unmatched.”
“It sounds like an unusual place.”
“It is. Normally, a nation of their power could consider continent unification, but they openly state that they don’t care as long as their own country is stable. Honestly, they have no interest in other countries. If you don’t go poking around, people from other countries can live there normally. But if you do start poking around… it’s this.”
The information broker made a cutting gesture across his throat, indicating the terrifying nature of Arland.
Takuto stored the gathered information in his mind. While there wasn’t any specific information, it had been a worthwhile time.
After a while, he inquired about more information. There seemed to be quite a bit of information about Ostland, but almost nothing about Arland, and what little there was seemed dubious. The information broker also complained about how it was a country from which detailed information was hard to come by.
As the conversation concluded, the door to the room opened, and a slave maid entered. It seemed like an unexpected guest was approaching without any regard.
“Master, unwelcome guests are heading this way. It seems like they are here for trouble.”
“Not again… You have brought those unwanted guys with you. There’s an escape route at under feet, so hurry up and get out. I’ll handle this.”
Even Takuto, who didn’t expect the information broker to let him go, was surprised. He had thought these people would have no sense of obligation or empathy.
“Are you sure? Isn’t this risky?”
“Quit yapping! Just go! In this business, trust is everything. If they catch a customer here, no one will buy my information in the future. I’ll manage somehow by making them give me some money and letting them sleep with a woman or two. If you feel grateful, you can keep relying on the Zexia Trading Company for information in the future; we’re affiliated with them.”
“I appreciate it.”
Takuto had the maid open the cleverly concealed escape route in the floorboards, and he jumped down into it. It led to the sewers. It seemed to be unused, without any foul odors. There were even occasional candles along the way. With the maid guiding him, they made their way through the sewers and emerged outside after about 30 minutes.
“I’m going back to my Master. Best of luck, Hero.”
“You know about me too?”
Takuto hadn’t expected his identity to be known among the information brokers. In the Empire, they didn’t refer to people from another world as heroes, and it wasn’t a topic that came up openly.
“For an information broker, information is life. It seems like the otherworlders will be sent after you soon. Things might get pretty dangerous, so my Master told me to tell you to run when this situation arises.”
It appeared that the information broker was aware that Takuto was being pursued, and had anticipated this situation. Takuto couldn’t help but wear an amused smile at her seemingly exasperated expression. It seemed she had some admiration for the information broker as well.
“Thank you. Well, may we meet somewhere again.”
“We look forward to seeing you again.”
She nodded and bowed slightly before retracing her steps.
Takuto continued down the outskirts of the town. Since they had openly sent pursuers, he figured it would be best to leave this town as soon as possible. He had all his belongings with him and could leave the town at any moment.
“Hey!! Wait a moment! Your partner here is craving some sweets, and you’re just ignoring me! That’s why the spirits spit on you.”
“Shut up. I spent extra money because of you earlier.”
“I thought you were using the money for sweets. Why are you spending it on something that won’t leave a physical trace? Are you saying information is more valuable than me?”
“If it turns out to be useful, I’ll buy you a cake.”
The incessant nagging eventually got to Takuto, and he gave in. His patience was wearing thin. Perhaps the fairy will find herself abandoned somewhere in the near future.
“Hey, so you did come out here after all. I’ve been waiting for you, ‘Takuto,'”
A voice suddenly spoke from behind. Without hesitation, Takuto drew his sword and swung it, but it was blocked by a massive sword that was over 2 meters long.
“Who are you? No one should know my name.”
“Oi, oi, it would be a problem if you forgot your childhood friend from elementary school.”
The voice said with a hint of exasperation. As the massive sword was moved aside, Takuto saw a man with black roots and brown-tipped hair, suggesting that the dye was wearing off. He stood over 190 cm tall.
His name was Kurakiri Kazuhito, and he had been in the same high school class as Takuto. Despite Takuto being a model student and Kazuhito being a delinquent, they were surprisingly close friends. In fact, their close relationship often raised eyebrows among their teachers. Kazuhito hadn’t seen Takuto since about a week before he disappeared into this world. He was originally a troublemaker, rarely attending school and often getting into fights at the local yakuza office, so Takuto assumed he had caused some trouble, gone into hiding, and never expected to find him in another world.
“Kazu!! You ended up over here too… are you for real? You look like you came out of a post-apocalyptic story. Did you get caught?”
Kazuhito had a metallic collar around his neck that glimmered ominously. While he typically adorned himself with silver accessories, he had never worn anything on his neck. He disliked the idea of it being grabbed during a fight.
In addition, he had Damascus steel gauntlets and gloves with knuckle dusters, along with a Mithril chestplate. Combined with his already imposing physique, he looked quite formidable.