V2 Chapter 40: Stars and Hawks

I approach the adventurers who call themselves “Desert Hawks”. I don’t reach for my weapon. Slowly, calmly, I close the distance between us.

If they slash at me, I’ll have a good reason to fight back. It’s self-defense. If they’re intimidated and run away, that’s fine too.

The leader of the group backed off once, but maybe he was worried about what others would think, he somehow stayed put. As I stared back at him, who was glaring at me with hatred, I wondered if he would just draw his sword already.

“What are you doing there!”

A new group of people barged in with that voice. They were wearing familiar Canaria regular army uniforms, probably the gate guards.

They must have noticed the commotion and came running, but judging by the timing, they might be in cahoots with the “Desert Hawks”. That was a sign that my evaluation of Berka as a city had plummeted in my mind.

And, a person who seemed to be the leader of the guards walked up to us and shouted angrily. At me – no, at the “Desert Hawks”.

“Is it you guys again? How many times do I have to tell you not to cause trouble here!?”

The guard’s bitter voice had no trace of acting, and the force of his glare at the adventurers was real. The guard had a rich beard covering the lower half of his face, which added to his intimidation.

The leader of the “Desert Hawks”, who had been confronting me, was clearly intimidated by the fierce-looking guard, but he still raised his face and argued back.

“We are looking for an elf criminal who bared his fangs at the ‘Desert Hawks’! There should be a warrant from the government office. No interference, no meddling, neither is necessary!”

“What do you mean ‘neither is necessary’!”

With a thunderous roar, Suzume let out a small “hya” sound. That reaction was natural, as my eardrums were also trembling.

Here is the translated text:

Maybe it was because of the good hearing of the elves, but Lunamaria also had a rare frown on her face.

Ignoring our reaction, the guard was sharply confronting the “Desert Hawk”.

“It’s true that the wanted poster has been circulated, but that doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want! If you’re an adventurer, don’t pretend to be a law enforcement officer and hunt monsters!”

“You’re going against the ‘Desert Hawk’!? If you do that, you won’t get away with it――”

“Hawk, hawk, you’re annoying, you’re a third-rate who borrows the authority of the executive! If you’re going to ruin Berka’s reputation any more, I’ll arrest you as criminals!”

The guard said that and chased away the six people. I watched the whole thing and was surprised that the “Desert Hawk” backed off so easily――well, I guess it’s natural that they would react differently to outsiders and guards. They couldn’t point their swords at regular soldiers either.

And then, the guard who had chased away the adventurers came over to us with an apologetic look.

“You guys, you had a bad luck as soon as you arrived”

Saying that, the guard smiled and smiled at Suzume, mainly. He must have been careful not to scare the child.

His face was fierce, but he seemed to be a pretty good person――but his smile was like a gray bear who had found a beehive.

Thinking such things, I thanked the guard.

“Thank you for your help”

Then, he raised his right eyebrow with a surprised look. He might have expected a hostile response from my atmosphere.

The guard quickly changed his expression and waved his hands left and right as if he was flustered.

“No, no, there’s no need to thank me. It’s our duty to protect the safety of travelers”

After saying that, the guard looked in the direction where the “Desert Hawk” had left and added bitterly.

“It’s our duty to crack down on those guys and their ilk, but as it is. Really, ever since the “Silver Star” disappeared, the ‘Desert Hawk’ has changed a lot too”

“’Silver Star’, you say?”

“Oh, you don’t know the ‘Silver Star’? You look like an adventurer or a mercenary by the way you carry yourself. Even though they’ve disbanded, you must have heard some rumors――aha, this is your first time in Berka”

“Yes. I didn’t even know about the ‘Silver Star’ or the ‘Desert Hawk’ until just now”

“I see, I see”

The guard nodded his head in understanding and continued his words with gestures.

“The ‘Silver Star’ and the ‘Desert Hawk’ are both A-rank parties belonging to the adventurer guild in this town. As I said, the “Silver Star” has disbanded, but both of them have more than twenty members each, and they’re all skilled. The guild staff couldn’t even interfere with these two, that was the common reputation”

I nodded along as I listened to the information from the other person’s mouth.

The summary of the story of the fierce-looking guard is as follows.

Berka uses the power of adventurers for urban defense, so the influence of the Adventurer’s Guild is large. This is similar to Ishka.

And, the two parties that had a lot of power in that guild were “Silver Star” and “Desert Hawk”. Both parties had almost equal numbers, abilities, achievements, and so on, and they had a relationship where they clashed with each other over something. The leader of “Silver Star” was strong in justice, and the leader of “Desert Hawk” was a type who did not choose means for his purpose, and the leaders did not get along well either.

However, it was also true that this competition between the two parties became the vitality of Berka Guild, and when desert monsters attacked, they competed to take the lead and fought fiercely to protect the city. As a result, they had high support from the residents, and the two parties continued to be symbols of the city of Berka for a long time.

The balance was broken a few months ago. The main members of “Silver Star” who went to investigate the unexplored area of ​​the desert were wiped out. To be precise, their deaths have not been confirmed yet, but if those who are accustomed to desert adventures do not return for several months, it is hard to imagine any outcome other than death.

The missing members included all the top performers, including the leader, and those who remained in Berka could not possibly maintain A rank. In addition, the remaining members were not united either, and in the end, the A-rank party “Silver Star” reached the end of dissolution.

As a result, the power of the only remaining A-rank party “Desert Hawk” doubled. The number of members also increased significantly, and among them, there were not a few who behaved arrogantly using the name of “Desert Hawk” – this was the content of the story I heard from the guard.

“Some of the old-timers in ‘Desert Hawk’ are decent enough, but the young ones are not much different from those guys earlier. You should be careful with that elf girl over there. If you have any trouble, please feel free to ask us. Well, from what I’ve seen, you guys don’t seem to have trained as hard as those guys.”

After saying that, the guard stroked his face smoothly and changed his expression and bowed exaggeratedly.

“I’m sorry for being late, but let me do my original job – young people, welcome to Berka. It’s a good deal, but I don’t want you to think that those guys are all there is to Berka. This is a city where dreams, money and desires are packed to the brim. Whatever your purpose is, I hope it will come true in this city.”

After that, Lunamaria was subjected to something like an interrogation, but the content was nothing more than asking her name, whether the sage’s robe was real, and finally where she was staying in Berka.

I wondered if that was okay, even though there were wanted posters circulating, but it was none of my business. According to the guard, the wanted posters were not for heinous criminals, and they didn’t care much. Besides, who in the world would walk around wearing a sage’s robe as a wanted criminal? He laughed.

We finished the interrogation and stepped into the main street with the guard’s farewell. Immediately, the streets of Berka, overflowing with a large number of people, jumped into my view.

There are adventurers who are armed, bards who play musical instruments, merchants who open stalls, and those who call out to men passing by in provocative costumes are either tavern touts or brothel ones.

Looking at the lively streetscape that could be noisy at times, Suzume looked around timidly. The prosperity of Berka must have been impressive even for Suzume, who knew the bustle of Ishka and the royal capital before the monster rampage stampede.

As I mentioned briefly before, the Catalan desert that spreads to the west of Berka is not only a major habitat for monsters, but also a source of countless wealth such as gold, silver, salt, oil, spices and so on.

The desert’s wealth, which never runs out no matter how much you draw, is a vivid proof of the value of the Catalan desert in front of your eyes.

“Master, what will you do after this?”

“Let’s head to the inn for now. We’ll meet up with Iria there – and, Suzume!”

Suzume, who had walked ahead as she was interested, was about to be swallowed by the crowd, so I hurriedly reached out and pulled the girl’s body closer.

Suzume, who settled in my arms with a posun, held her hat with both hands and bowed her head.

“Th-thank you very much, I’m sorry!”

“You’re welcome. Just in case, let’s hold hands so we don’t get separated.”

I said that and held out my left hand, and Suzume blinked her eyes in confusion, but eventually timidly held my hand.

“Then I will too.”

Lunamaria, who had been listening to the conversation, pinched the edge of my sun-shading cloak. She didn’t try to hold my right hand, which was free, probably out of consideration for the swordsman’s dominant hand.

This time it was my turn to blink, not Suzume.

Lunamaria looked at me with a clear face and tilted her head as if to say, “Is there a problem?”

I opened my mouth to say something, but in the end I couldn’t think of anything and closed it.

After that, we walked together for a few minutes and arrived at the inn where Iria and I had stayed before.

When we entered, we were met with curious stares from all over. Well, it’s not a place where adventurers stay, so it can’t be helped.

However, the owner at the reception seemed to remember my face and whispered something to one of his employees. The employee hurried up the stairs, and I guessed he had gone to call Iria.

My guess was right, and soon Iria came down the stairs in a hurry. She didn’t seem to be injured, and she was full of energy.

And behind Iria, a girl appeared with a nervous look on her face. She was older than Suzume, probably about the same age as Ciel. She was wearing a priestess dress of the Law God.

Iria pointed at me and said something to her, so she must be an acquaintance, but… who is she? I thought she might be a friend she made at the temple while gathering information, but I don’t think Iria would introduce a normal friend to me.

I felt a faint smell of trouble and approached Iria.

To conclude, the girl was Iria’s childhood friend. In other words, she was a resident of Melte village. She was also Larz’s childhood friend, and when she was a child, she was sold as a slave because of her poverty and drifted to Berka.

As I mentioned earlier, she was wearing a priestess dress of the Law God. And on her chest, there was a silver star-shaped emblem shining.

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