Getting onto my passenger car, I return to Executive One.
After stowing the car away into the garage, I make my way inside the camping car proper.
I turn on the lights.
Just like a reception hall of somewhere high-class, the marble floor and extravagant interior greets her.
“Uwah…… What is this…… It’s amazing……”
The woman that I had just saved is looking around dumbly with her jaw hanging.
I head towards the kitchen and stand before the fridge.
“Coffee or black tea, which do you prefer?”
“Coffee or black tea? I have wine too, if you’re so inclined.”
“Umm…… th-, then black tea please.”
I quickly make two cups of black tea with boiling water, then bring them to the cabin.
I place one in front of the girl who is idling inside my super gorgeous camping car, Executive One.
I wait until we’ve both taken a sip and a breather before asking.
“There’s much that I want to ask you, but…… guess I’ll start with your name. I am Kazama Shinji. You?”
“Sa-, Sayama Shiho is my name.”
“Sayama, huh. So then, why were you in the mountains?”
Her face clouds up at my question.
Bull’s eye, huh.
The reason why I brought her back with me is because I thought there’s a story behind her.
This is a prefecture with such an overwhelming number of sightings that there’s even a Bear Alert on the official website. Yet there she was, without any visible preparations nor precautions.
She even had on an outfit that seemed much more suitable for going shopping downtown rather than trekking through a mountain when she was being chased by that bear.
I thought that there must be a story —— and it seems that I was spot on.
Of the various stories that I can think of, a specific one seems to fit her especially.
“I, I was trying to h-, hang myself, but then that bear showed up. I was so scared, I instinctively started running……”
Normally speaking, the only people who would go into a mountain in normal clothes are either retards underestimating the mountain and courting death, or those who actually intend to court death.
It seems that she was the latter.
I find myself at a loss for a response to the story that she then shares with me.
Her home was a farm.
They had a sizeable amount of land, and was making a regular and stable profit.
But then one day, her parents abruptly disappeared without a trace.
Without even time to read the note that they had left her, creditors came pounding on the door.
In the shadows behind their regular and stable profit, they were actually racking up debts from investment into infrastructure. Unable to raise their sales, they became effectively bankrupt, with insolvency an unavoidable outcome.
In the letter to their daughter, her parents wrote “we didn’t tell you because we didn’t want you to worry.” That logic makes sense yet really doesn’t make sense.
Thus she lost both her home and her family.
“What’s happened to the debt?”
“Normally, my parents’ debt would be completely unrelated to me.”
“I sense a ‘but’ in there.”
“The scary people that came to demand the money were insisting that it is the duty of a child to repay their parent’s debts.”
“A very common way of phrasing things.”
“So then I really didn’t know what to do anymore. I’ve been working at home the entire time after graduating from high school, so I haven’t the faintest idea where to even start.”
Families like hers often treat the family business as a small- to mid-sized enterprise, with it being taken for granted that the children would carry on the business.
But hers just went belly up entirely out of the blue. I can understand her shock, as well as her inability to do anything about it or move on.
“Do you not have anyone that you can rely on?”
She shakes her head.
Well, if she did, then she wouldn’t be trying to hang herself.
“Thank you very, very much. For saving me. I’m afraid I don’t know any better way to say it, but I am really grateful that you did that.”
I’d thought that the eyes of a person who was trying to kill themself not so long ago would be more dead, but that’s not the case at all.
While saying her thanks to me, her eyes are steady and properly filled with gratitude.
In the other world, I ended up helping a huge number of people, so I’ve become able to tell someone is sincerely saying thanks or not.
It seems that this woman is the kind to truly feel gratitude from the bottom of her heart upon having something done for her.
This kind of human makes me want to help them to the very end.
“If you have nowhere else to go, then you can stay here for the night.”
“I’ve already gotten involved. Once I’m done with my preparations, then I’ll do something about the money borrowed from those scary people. You may stay here until I finish.”
“Ehhhhhh?! I mean, um, those people are really scary! Are you sure?”
“This kind, right?”
I trace a finger over my cheek in a manner that implies a scar.
It is the age-old gesture to indicate the yakuza.
“That’s why I have to prepare. I doubt that they’re stronger than bears, so I can probably go over right now and beat them all up, but just in case.”
She comes to a start.
It seems that she’s finally recalled the instant she saw me send a bear flying with a single punch.
“Seems you get it. So, how ‘bout it?”
“Finding out afterwards that someone I helped had met a tragic end immediately after gets to me the most. My conscience would prick me like there’s no tomorrow. We’ve already come this far. Just shut up and let me handle the rest.”
“Y-, yes sir!”
She straightens her back, brings her knees together, then bows deeply.
“I, I will be in your care.”
She has a honest personality that knows when to accept help and be thankful for it.
That alone already makes her worth my help.
The next morning, I wake up to find her still fast asleep.
She is rolled up in her blankets on the spacious sofa in the cabin area, breathing quietly.
She must have been exhausted. There are still traces of fatigue on her sleeping face.
Being careful not to wake her, I exit Executive One, switch into the passenger car, then once again head towards the mountain.
To be certain, there is one more skill that I want.
I come upon a bear almost immediately.
Going by the numbers, this prefecture has two sightings every single day. And that is in areas where humans live.
Little wonder the encounter rate is so high in a mountain.
The bear glares at me, but I just approach with brisk steps.
Probably this is the first time the bear has seen a human do what I’m doing. It is clearly bewildered — until my punch slams into its brow.
The bear is sent flying, but remains able to get up after a slight struggle.
Guess I can’t kill it with a punch from a state of rest without an approach run.
While mulling over that, I close in to deal the finishing blow to earn my 20 points.
The next bear I bump into lunges aggressively at me the moment we notice each other.
I activate [Increase Attack Power], evade its thick arms and claws for a while, then throw a punch.
But it seems it’s still not enough.
The bear that’s taken a punch is visibly more hurt that the previous one, but it still has the strength to attempt to crawl away in retreat.
Of course, I catch up to it and deliver the killing blow. That’s 20 more points.
With that, my unused skill points has risen to 67, enough to acquire the skill I want.
In order to test it out, I go looking for a third bear.
After walking for about 10 minutes, I find my mark.
Just like I did for the previous bear, I get close, then begin dodging all of the bear’s attacks.
My [Increase Attack Power (Evade)] points are racking up nicely.
The bear is angered by my actions, and raises the ferocity of its attacks.
Amidst the brutal swings whooshing by close enough to make cold sweat run down my back, I continue carefully evading.
Eventually, the effect of [Increase Attack Power (Evade)] is maxed, and I grab a new skill.
With the original cost of 70 points discounted to 56 points, I acquire [Counter].
This skill increases the power of counter attacks by 20%.
The reason why I’m grabbing this skill now…… is because yesterday was a mistake.
In order to save Shiho, I had to pay a huge cost to raise the level of [Close Combat]. The thing is, though, skills fundamentally multiply with each other.
Instead of raising one especially high, it is much more effective to get several and raise them all at the same pace.
So that’s what I’ve come to do today.
[Close Combat VII]
[Increase Attack Power (Evade) I]
The punch that I throw has the effect of all three skills multiplied together.
The end result is more than satisfactory.
Upon receiving the punch straight to the face, the bear’s head snaps into a right angle, then dangles limply.
After the span of one breath, its bulky frame then crumples to the ground.
Without giving the fallen bear another look, I confirm my skills.
Skill Points: 11/999
Acquired Skills (7/10)
[Close Combat VII]
[Increase Attack Power (Evade) I]
[Lower Point Cost] (80%)
[Double Skill Points] (200%)
I’ve grabbed the skill, and also confirmed its effectiveness.
All that’s left is to go exterminate the ‘scary’ debt collectors.
Support the author Miki Nazuna-sensei by buying a copy!