Akira was sitting on the driver seat, talking with Alpha to kill time, while waiting for Revin to finish his discussion with his men.
Now that Akira had calmed down after he got out of that ruin, he started to feel a tinge of regret.
“…But still, its such a waste and its really unfortunate. There should still be relics in that ruin. If only we were able to search the ruin more and carry all of those relics before the ruin somehow activated, I wonder just how much money that would have fetched me.”
Alpha smiled and cheered him.
“Its an unexplored ruin after all. Things like this are normal. We still have some leftover data from the Lion Steel Corp, so we can just place our hope at our next location.”
“Youre right… Haah….”
Although that day he was able to return with some profits, he was not able to return with a lot of riches from an unexplored ruin as he had wished. Akira himself thought that there should be still a lot of relics left in that ruin, so it would be hard for him to simply forget about that ruin.
Revin and his men were sitting not too far from Akira, they were discussing how to pay for Akiras medicines. One of them looked pretty depressed as he asked Revin.
“…So, what exactly are we going to do now”
Revins expression was not much different from that man.
“Isnt that exactly why were sitting here discussing Tell me if you have any good ideas.”
“Even if you ask me, its 2,000,000 Aurum, you know Can we really afford to pay that kind of money Or more like, youre the one who bought it, so why should we pay for it too”
Revin looked displeased as he said.
“Are you seriously going to blame me for it Would it have been better for you if we had kept climbing the stairs with that speed and got killed by the monsters”
“I didnt mean it like that.”
“Then what did you mean by that remark”
Revin and his men started to make a ruckus, but the moment Akira glanced at them, they quickly calmed down. Another guy from Revins team then said.
“For real though, what are we going to do now…”
They were all in trouble since they had no idea how to pay Akira.
Revin and his men were talking about the medicine that they bought from Akira which cost them 2,000,000 Aurum. Akira asked them to tell him who would pay and when and where he would receive the payment.
Revin and his men were 5 members in total, so dividing it equally, it would be 400,000 Aurum per person. It was not a huge amount. But if they paid that money, they would not be able to buy ammo for their next expedition. After all, they still had to pay for their food, accommodation, and ammo. They simply did not have enough money to spare.
Another guy then hopelessly said.
“…I guess we have no other choice but to sell our relics.”
Another guy quickly refuted his suggestion.
“Dont you remember that we paid them with our relics”
“We only gave them the relics that we found inside that room. Im sure all of you are hiding other relics that you found elsewhere, right If we pooled them together, we might be able to get at least 2,000,000 Aurum.”
They then looked at each other, they all understood what that guy was talking about. Revin sighed and took out all the relics that he was hiding, the other guys who saw that also gave up their relics.
One among them reluctantly took out the relics that he was hiding. Revin twitched as he saw that because that man only offered clothes.
Revin immediately called that man.
“You there, you took out nothing but clothes though.”
“But I found only these clothes in the ruin.”
“Do you really think theyll believe you Theyll definitely doubt it, you know. Just take them back, we can sell it later and divide the money among us.”
That guy then retrieved those clothes. Revin looked at all the relics lined up in front of him and made a longhmmmm.
“…To be honest, Im not even sure we can get enough money with just these relics. But well, I guess at least we can use this to negotiate.”
He then went to Akira.
After Akira listened to what Revin had to say, he asked about something that bothered him.
“Even the relics you found in the room that looked like in good shape were only worth about 3,000,000 Aurum, right So like, are you sure the rest of the relics would be able to fetch you 2,000,000 Aurum”
“Well, I think its at least possible. Lets just head back to the city for now, after all, I cant really ask merchants or appraisers the worth of the relics if we stay here, right”
There were certain areas in the city where the public order was really bad to the point that it would not be strange for Hunters, who returned from the wasteland, to get robbed. But even so, those areas were still safer compared to the lawless wasteland.
Once they were inside the city, even if Revin and his men had no money to pay Akira, Akira wont be able to just shoot them where they stood. In contrast to that, something like that would likely happen outside the city or in the wasteland. That was why Revin wanted to reach the city as soon as possible.
Akira did not notice that at all. The only reason why he was staying outside the city was so that it would be easy to chase Revin and his men if they tried to run away.
Akira thought for a bit before saying.
“You only need someone to appraise those relics here, right”
Akira pulled out his information terminal and contacted Katsuragi. The call got connected soon after he pressed the call button.
“Akira, huh Its rare for you to call me like this, is it something profitable”
“It depends on your ability as a merchant.”
“I see, its money talk then. So, what do you have”
“I just returned back from the old-world ruin with relics, can you come here and check them”
“Sure, but since you called me, you do have the relics worth calling me there, right”
“I got those relics from an unexplored ruin, they are from the underground ruin. They do look pretty expensive though. And also, if you come here to pick them up, Ill at least tell you where I found them.”
“I see, send me your location… Alright then, Im coming there now, just wait for a bit.”
Katsuragi then ended the call. After that, Akira turned to Revin.
“Just wait for a bit.”
Revin frowned, he looked rather pale. He was not expecting for Akira to know a merchant whom he could call over all the way to where they were.
It did not take that long before Katsuragis trailer arrived there, it was one of the benefits of having a portable shop.
Akira lined the relics in front of Katsuragi. After Katsuragi finished checking all of those relics, he then made an offer to Akira.
“Lets see, how about 8,000,000 Aurum”
“Got it, we have a deal.”
“Nice! Ill transfer the money right away… So then, how about those relics Youre not going to sell them”
Katsuragi glanced over at the relic pile on the backseat of Akiras vehicle.
“Those are the relic types that you wont buy. You did teach me that, remember”
“Well, thats true, but I can at least take a look at them. Its just me trying to build a good relationship with you. Even for the clothes, if you have enough of them, I can even make a connection especially to sell those types of relics, you know Well, even if I say that, itll take quite a lot of time to build a new route like that. But since Ive been dealing with a lot of wholesalers lately, itll at least still turn in some money.”
“Thanks for the offer but its fine. I found another route to sell those types of relics, you see. So Im thinking of bringing relics that you wont buy to that person.”
“…I see. Okay.”
Although Katsuragi was smiling on the surface, he was cursing deep inside. When he gave the explanation about how to sell relics to Akira before, he intentionally evaluated some of the relics with a lower price, and those types of relics were clothes and small accessories. He was actually thinking of intentionally not buying them first, and then buying them for cheap later as to make Akira feel indebted to him.
Akiras fighting ability was indeed amazing but he had no knowledge on how to sell the relics that he gathered. Or at least that was what Katsuragi thought. That was why he mixed some false information when he explained how to sell relics to Akira. He wanted to paint an impression so that Akira thought it was hard to sell a particular type of relics, and later make Akira feel indebted to him by offering to buy those relics at a cheap price from Akira.
But it seemed that Akira had taken care of that part himself. So Katsuragis evaluation of Akira slowly changed because of that.
Katsuragi did regret the fact that he could not earn more profit, but it was not like he could keep himself occupied by that. So he just changed the subject and talked about his goods.
“Now that you got more money and Im already here too, how about you buy something from me”
But Akira pointed at Revin and his men and said.
“Before that, can you check their relics too”
“Are they your friends Did you go hunting relics with them”
“No, but I found them inside the ruin that I was exploring.”
“Well, it seems that I can put my hopes up for their relics then.”
Katsuragi smiled and went towards Revin. While Katsuragi was checking Revins relics, Akira went to Katsuragis trailer to spend his time browsing weapons and other stuff.
After Katsuragi finished checking the relics, he looked disappointed and said.
“Well, I guess the total worth is only about 500,000 Aurum.”
“500,000 Aurum! Are you trying to scam us or something!”
Revin panicked when he heard Katsuragis statement.
When Akira said that Revin and his men went to the same ruin as him, Katsuragi thought that he could put his hopes up on their relics. But compared to Akira, their equipment looked way cheaper and the relics that they brought were a huge disappointment for him. Some of the relics they brought were dirty or even badly damaged, and it was rather obvious that they were not some kind of high ranking Hunter. These were the reasons why Katsuragi was only willing to pay that amount of money for those relics.
Katsuragi looked like he was in a bad mood, he did not even bother to show a fake smile as he said to Revin.
“Thats the amount of money Im willing to pay. Even if you bring them to the Hunter Office, I think youll get even less money. If you dont agree with that amount, then just dont sell them to me, I wont force you to sell them to me either. Well, later then.”
After Katsuragi said that, he turned and was about to go back to Akira, but Revin suddenly stopped him.
“Please wait!! Are you going to tell him that too! Can you please not do that”
That amount of money was not even enough to pay half the price of Akiras medicine. Revin was terrified of how Akira would react to that, so he desperately tried to stop Katsuragi.
Katsuragi noticed that something was going on there and looked a bit surprised.
But his expression suddenly changed to a smile as he kindly asked Revin.
“Whats going on here You can at least tell me, you know. Ive been doing business with that Akira for quite some time now, so I might be able to help you out.”
Katsuragi smelled a chance to make a lot of money, so he did not even try to hide his smile.
After listening to Revins explanation, he sympathized with them and said.
“That sounds rough. I do business with Hunters, so I can understand how rough it is. Well, Im glad that he saved you. Now then, since having you guys work hard and gather a lot of relics also helps my business, I can at least lend you some help, you know.”
Revins face looked both grateful and a little suspicious.
“I-is that so So what exactly are you offering”
“Of course, I can offer to smooth things out between you guys and him. But still, its not easy dealing with Akira, you know. Negotiating with him is not an easy task at all. I do want you to at least remember that. You might also know that Akira is a strong Hunter. His fighting skill is nothing to scoff at and hes also quite a violent boy. Hes actually protecting a certain gang in the slum city and I heard that he doesnt hesitate when it comes to killing other people. From the rumour that I heard, there was a time when a certain gang in the slum city that was hostile to the gang that hes protecting went to negotiate with him, but they got c.o.c.ky during the negotiation and Akira killed that guy with no hesitation at all. He then dragged the corpse to the base of the gang that sent that guy.”
“…T-that boy is insane.”
Revin who was listening to Katsuragis story could not help but word out his impression about Akira.
Katsuragi noticed that Revin was misunderstanding something there, but he did not bother to correct it as he continued.
“You can say that again. Thats why, to be honest, I dont want to ask him to reduce the amount of money that he demands or to give more time to get that money. Im sure you can understand me, right”
“Th-then, what should we do…”
“Thats why you can just leave it to me. Although it might be a bad deal for you guys, I hope you can understand that its the best deal that you guys can currently get. Ill try my best to talk with him. As for my reward, well, when you guys become Hunters who can earn a lot of money, you guys should come to my shop to buy stuff. So, what do you think Of course, I wont stop you if you want to do something about it yourself… But to be honest, I dont recommend that.”
Katsuragi urged Revin to make a decision, but it was a different story whether they actually had any other choices or not.
Revin and his men gave up and decided to place their hopes on Katsuragis offer.
Akira was still browsing inside the trailer. Most of the goods were weapons for Hunters, but there was also some other stuff in display inside that trailer.
He took a certain object from one of the displays.
“Relic bag, huh. I guess Ill buy some.”
There were all types of bags lined up on that display, bag for clothes, bag for machines, waterproof bag, bulletproof bag, electric-proof bag, shockproof bag, all types of bags. Some of them were single-use bags while others were reusable bags. And of course, their prices also varied.
“There are all kinds of bags though. Alpha, which one do you think should I buy”
“Im not sure either. Its not like theyre that big anyway, so how about buying multiple types”
“I guess Ill do that.”
Akira picked some bags and put them inside the shopping basket.
He then picked another thing.
“Waterproof spray, huh… It can protect weapons from moulds. Special offer, buy now to get a shock protector as a bonus… Well, I buy this kind of weapon maintenance tools from Shizukas shop, so I guess I dont really need it.”
Akira put that back and reached for another object.
“Jamming smoke… Yuzumo Corp General-Purpose A28 type. To check for the compatibility with your information-gathering device, please check the composition and confirm with the maker of your information-gathering device… Is it better if I have this too, Alpha”
“Itll also lower the sensitivity of the information-gathering device that you are using, so I dont really recommend it.”
“I dont need it then.”
Akira put it back on the display.
While he was in the middle of browsing stuff, Katsuragi suddenly entered the trailer and engaged Akira with a smile.
“Oh! So youre finally interested in buying my goods, huh Make sure to buy a lot of things, okay All of them are good stuff!”
“Youre done checking their relics”
“Yeah, and I heard about their situation too. Just wait here for a bit.”
Katsuragi went inside the back room and returned with the medicine that he sold to Akira the other day.
“Here, you basically just need a replacement for the medicine that you sold to them, right So, is this enough”
Akira seemed suspicious of Katsuragi, it was true that he had no complaint as long as he got his medicine back.
“Yeah, so, what are you scheming”
“Dont say that. Im just advertising my business, I do this so that theyll frequent my shop. Even I wont do something like this for free, you know. Ill make sure that theyll pay me for that medicine.”
“I see, so thats the real reason, huh. Sure then.”
“Alright then, with this, theyre indebted to me now. But with that being said, I recommend you not to hang out with them too much. Im not sure what happened, but theyre pretty scared of you for some reason.”
“…Well, a lot of things happened back in the ruin after all.”
It was not like Akira had no idea why Revin and his men would be scared of him. It was nothing strange to be scared of an unknown Hunter who was way stronger than yourself, not to mention that Elena was planning to abandon them at first and Akira did agree with her. Akira did not try to think any deeper as he thought that it was to be expected for them to be scared of him.
“Is that so Well, its none of my business anyway, so I guess I shouldnt stick my nose there. Ah right, youre in the middle of shopping, right If you have any questions, just ask away, I can explain to you anything about the goods here. Oh! relics bag, huh. In that case, I recommend you to get this one.”
Katsuragi smiled happily as he kept talking to Akira. He was trying to prolong Akiras stay inside the trailer as long as possible to make it look like he was having a difficult negotiation with him.
Akira finished shopping about 30 minutes later. He ended up buying a lot of things. As he was looking at his shopping bag, he hoped that he did not buy anything that he did not need.
Katsuragi then saw Akira off as they left the trailer.
“Akira, you can just head back home. Ill take Revin and his men back to the city. Of course, Ill have them buy some of my stuff on our way back too. Ill also gather the information about the ruin from them.”
“Is that so Alright, later then.”
Akira then got in his car and left that place.
Katsuragis smile vanished and was replaced by a deeply serious expression, he then turned to Revin and walked towards him.
Seeing Katsuragi approaching them, Revin and his men asked him.
“S-so how was it”
Katsuragis serious expression did not change.
“…We made a deal. There were some difficulties, but I ended up temporarily paying for your debt. As long as you guys dont approach Akira, Im sure he wont do anything to you. I think.”
“I-I see, thank goodness.”
Revin let out a sigh of relief, he thought that he was able to avoid the imminent danger.
But then Katsuragi apologetically said to Revin and his men.
“…So then, well, in the end, each of you owes me 400,000 Aurum. I know that itll cause inconvenience in your daily Hunter activities, but I hope that youll understand. Well talk about the interest and the other stuff regarding the debt later. Im sorry.”
Revin and his men frowned, all of them were aware that most of the Hunters with debt ended up tragically, and now they had taken a step closer to such a tragic end.
“I dont think I even need to remind you of this, but you guys will pay it eventually, right In case if you dont… Im sorry but I think Ill ask for Akiras help. I dont want to do that, but I have my reputation to uphold as a merchant, you see.”
Seeing how Katsuragi looked pitifully at them, Revin and his mens faces turned pale.
“Well then, how about we discuss the details inside my trailer.”
As Katsuragi walked back to his trailer, Revin and his men followed behind with heavy steps.
Katsuragi, who was leading Revin and his men to his trailer, smiled in secret.
A few days after that expedition.
Inside a certain pub somewhere in Kugamayama citys downtown. A certain man was sitting on a table, although there were 6 glasses of beer on that table, that man was sitting alone. He was the person who sold that information about the ruin to Revin.
The ruin that Akira discovered was named Yonozuka station ruin. It seemed that it was the name of the subway station inside that ruin. One of the Hunters, who explored that ruin, found the nameplate of the station and that name then got adopted as the official name of that ruin.
Since Elena sold the information about that ruin, it spread quickly among the Hunters. Although the information had spread widely, there were barely any Hunters exploring that ruin. It was because the presence of that huge monster was also included in the information that Elena sold as well as the fact that there was a good chance the monsters in Kuzusuhara ruin underground city used the subway tunnel to go to that ruin.
Since even the Hunters, who had experience in dealing with the monsters in the underground city when they were guarding the forward base, had to run away from that ruin to stay alive, the other Hunters could easily grasp just how dangerous the Yonozuka Station Ruin was. Because of that, the Hunters who thought that they were not strong enough to challenge that place avoided going to Yonozuka station ruin.
Some Hunters thought that it was just fake information in order to prevent other Hunters from exploring that ruin. But these Hunters then ended up contributing to the number of Hunters who went to that ruin and never returned.
Some of the skilled Hunters, who were confident in themselves, dared to go to that ruin to collect some of the many relics still left inside. But it was a completely different story whether they could return back alive or not, it all depended on these Hunters skills.
That man was the only person who returned back alive after exploring Yonozuka station ruin. It was him and his team who activated that ruin. When they reached the home platform of Yonozuka station, they messed with the controls there and activated the facility. Then monsters flooded out from the tunnel and killed everyone except that man.
The reason why he was spreading that information was as a form of revenge. He thought that if he kept sending Hunters there, someone might kill the monsters that killed his friends.
Since that man was selling the info cheaply, he did not earn much money from it. His dream of finding an unexplored ruin and getting rich had been crushed and all his close friends were dead.
All the money that he got from selling that information was used to buy expensive alcohols. He would spend his days drinking those alcohols while reminiscing about his dead friends.
Meanwhile, in the other place, Akira was getting ready to go out to the wasteland again. Although he had no plans to go to that particular unexplored ruin, he was still planning to find the other unexplored ruins. In order to do that, he used the data that he acquired from the Lion Steel Corps terminal to help him search for unexplored ruins.
As Akira was about to turn on the vehicle inside the garage, Alpha who was sitting on the drivers assistant seat suddenly said to him.
“Akira, theres a notification from the Hunter Office.”
Akira pulled out his information terminal and checked the notification.
“Bounty Info, notification for new bounty monsters…”
Akira looked puzzled as he checked the details of that notification.
It was not the usual monster-hunting request, it was a special bounty request with fixed prize money and a huge monetary reward. This type of request was usually issued for strong monsters that did not fit the place that they were in or the monsters that caused damage to the citys economy. These monsters were known as bounty monsters.
That notification worked both ways, it would attract the attention of the Hunters who had enough skill to hunt those bounty monsters as well as to warn the other Hunters to be careful of those monsters. After all, if those Hunters, who went to the old-world ruin to gather relics, got killed and are unable to bring back the important old-world relics to the city, it would cause trouble for the city too.
While on the other hand, it was the perfect chance for the Hunters who were confident in their skills to make a name for themselves. When a Hunter took out a bounty monster, his name would also be announced as the person who killed that bounty monster. Not only would he get a huge amount of money, his Hunter rank would receive a huge boost, his Hunter record would be decorated with that achievement, and his name would also receive renown. Every time a new bounty request came out in the eastern district, skilled Hunters would flood the wasteland to hunt for that bounty monster.
There were 4 new bounty monsters. Their names, descriptions, bounty prizes, and other details were publicly posted in the Hunter Office. As for their location, they were only able to draw a big radius as to where they might be roaming. That area included Yonozuka station ruin that Akira explored the other day.
Akiras expression turned grim, he remembered that huge greedy crocodile.
“Alpha, about this bounty notification…”
“I think that monster is one of them. Since there are 4 bounty monsters, I guess more similar monsters came out to the surface. Although there were traces of battles in many places, we found no traces of corpses. It is likely that corpses were eaten by the other greedy crocodiles while they were on their way to the surface. Theres a good chance the monsters that left those traces in the hallway left that ruin and attacked Hunters and the other monsters that they encountered.”
In that particular hallway, there were traces of battles, but strangely enough, there were no monster corpses nor dead Hunters. As Akira expected, it might have been because some kind of monster had eaten all the leftover corpses. Then that particular monster might have evolved, and after it grew stronger, it might have started preying on the other weaker monsters around it and grew even stronger to the point that it was dangerous enough for the City Management to warrant a bounty request.
Akira stepped down from the vehicle without saying anything. Alpha then asked him.
“Are you not going to search for unexplored ruins today”
“Yeah, if I go out to the wasteland, I feel like my bad luck will get me to meet one of those bounty monsters after all.”
Alpha smiled after hearing his reply.
“Youre right. We cant underestimate your bad luck after all, so I guess its the right choice to not go out today, huh.”
Akira pouted, but he just obediently returned back to his house.
After that, he spent his days studying inside his room and training himself.