25 – Underworld
The city had three faces.
The new, traditional, and commercial. However, the truth was that there were other faces. And today was the day that Yukito first realized this.
“There are places like this…”
The slums. That was the word that came to his mind as he looked at the walls covered in graffiti.
This district had many names, including the underworld or backstreets.
The subway and buses did not go through here. And so you had to visit on foot or by car.
However, Mr. Sylt said that if you came with your car, it would either be stolen or destroyed. Unsafe was an understatement. It was like a waste yard.
“There had once been plans to redevelop this part of the city. But there were problems in securing funds, and so it was abandoned part way. After that, it became a home for former criminals and people from the underworld. They prevented any further attempts to develop the district, and so it has remained like this.”
There had been places like that in America, hadn’t there? I thought as I listened to Mr. Sylt.
“And Hunters work here?”
“Yes, we do…”
—But there were no monsters at all.
“It’s one of the requests we get from the police. To be honest, even I can see that they use us like servants for odd jobs.”
He smiled and shook his head. Still, now that I think about it, Adventurers in fantasy books often ended up doing such work.
Perhaps that was just the nature of being a hero of justice.
“So, for this current job…”
“Uh, wait one second.”
I stopped Mr. Sylt and asked something that had been on my mind.
“Why are you talking so formally now?”
“I don’t know. When we first met, you seemed more…frank.”
I was pretty sure about it. He acted more like an older brother.
“You’re older than me, so I wish you’d act like you used to.”
“Ah, that is…”
“Besides, you’re going to be teaching me soon.”
It felt a little awkward for him to be acting so politely towards me.
However, he seemed a little troubled by the suggestion. And then he sighed.
“…Very well, then. Yes, I’ll do just that.”
“Oh, great. Thank you.”
He chuckled awkwardly.
And then he explained to me about the request.
—It was a cooperation request from the police.
Apparently, something ‘dangerous’ had been stolen, and there were traces of it having been brought here.
That being said, if they stepped foot into the district, everyone would scatter and run like baby spiders, never to be found again. Nothing drew more attention in the underworld than the police.
“Why don’t they just wear their normal clothes?”
“People of the underworld can sniff out a police officer, regardless of what they are wearing.”
In other words, they probably knew all of the faces in the department.
“I have a feeling that that is the case.”
Mr. Sylt said with a laugh.
“So…what is this…thing?”
“I can’t tell you.”
He replied immediately. My eyes widened.
“Well, it’s more that you’re better off not knowing. It’s of that kind of nature.”
“…I think I want to go home now.”
It was not funny at all. Why did you invite me to such a job?
Perhaps Mr. Sylt was a lot more dark-sided than I thought. Still, there was nothing to be done about it now.
“We are after a black briefcase. It’s made so that unlocking or breaking it will alert them. Currently, there are no signs of it being opened. …You wouldn’t want to open it, would you now?”
If I was careless enough to do that, I would be the one to get targeted next.
“I’m joking. Don’t worry, it’s made so that no one will be able to open it without the key.”
“It can’t be opened?”
“Yes. Think of it like that.”
It could only be opened with a key, and when it is opened with that key, it alerts them from far away?
How important was this thing?
…The fact that he casually got me involved into such a thing. This guy must be worse than I thought…
“Now, as for what we do now…”
Mr. Sylt ignored my suspicious glare as he continued.
“We do know who stole it. Some underlings of the crime syndicate known as the Black Tower Dragon. They have numerous small gangs working for them. And one of those gangs is the cause of this incident. Though, apparently, Black Tower Dragon was not actually aware of it.”
Once they learned of it, they promised the police that they would not interfere. Telling them to deal with the matter as they pleased.
The mafia did not get involved with things that were truly dangerous.
Apparently, the thing that was stolen was that bad.
“So, we are now headed to…?”
That was quick.
So they had already located their base.
“The police did.”
…If they could do that much, they should just finish it themselves.
It really showed how much they thought of the Hunters as tools to be used at their convenience.
“Well, they want us to catch them alive if possible. The law may not apply here, but these are the kind of people who likely don’t know what is happening or what they did. So a little bit of burning may be in order.”
Mr. Sylt said this with a straight face, and I was tempted to ask, ‘Have you ever killed someone?’
But that was too rude.
Besides, even if he did, it must have been against his wishes.
That was what it meant to fight.
Swords were dangerous weapons. They were used to take lives. You had to understand that in order to be a true swordsman.
It was the same with your own life. And the lives of others that you carried.
It was something that the old man had taught me.