126 Part 2
Everything he told Air was true. He hadn’t said a single lie.
Kagemitsu wanted to go behind the scenes and use his excessive presence to promote Air.
Making the best use of his own ability, Air would rise up to stardom with the help of Kagemitsu’s presence.
He didn’t know whether it would go well or not.
But it would be sure to bring about a change.
A few days ago, a topic about some “Mr. Masked Man” appeared in the “Let’s become” forums.
Mr. Masked Man was another name for Air.
It seemed that some people had been swept away by the impact of his mask and started to call Air “Mr. Masked Man”. (And no matter how hard Kagemitsu tried to tell them, no one would remember the name “Air”.)
Kagemitsu couldn’t understand why Air’s name wouldn’t stick as much.
However, if he could share his recognition with this “Masked-san”, that would be enough for him.
There was one thing that Kagemitsu never told Air.
That thing was his “true goal”.
There was one thing that Kagemitsu wanted to do once Air joined forces with him.
That was to turn Air into a symbol.
Kagemitsu wanted to turn Air into an adventurer that symbolized Hokkaido.
What was the reason to decide to do that? It also had to do with him wanting to get away from the spotlight quickly, but the most relevant reason was their difference in talent.
Kagemitsu lacked the power to be a symbol for Hokkaido.
The only thing that had carried him to his position as a ranker was nothing more than his own strong presence. His ability as an adventurer was below the average when compared to the top rankers of other prefectures.
In fact, the other symbolic rankers were just awesome.
Saitama’s Masatsugu was so skilled that he could aspire to be an absolute champion, and Tokyo’s Bacon has enough charisma to make anyone follow him.
And Shigure was doing great in Chiba because she had a lot of people around her that supported her.
But what about Kagemitsu?
As pointed out by Masatsugu, the level of Hokkaido was inferior to that of the mainland.
At least a couple of years behind.
It wasn’t just that the adventurers’ level was low.
The Self-Defense Forces were also poorly trained and their budget wasn’t enough.
What happened in Asahikawa was something that their Self-Defense Force should have been able to deal with in the first place.
However, even though their Self-Defense Force hunted monsters by themselves for about a month, eventually they couldn’t complete the job and were forced to pass the baton onto the adventurers.
They couldn’t even manage to deal with upper-section monsters, which were considered to be relatively easy.
From the perspective of other prefectures, the ability of such a Self-Defense Force was nothing but lackluster.
Hokkaido’s Self-Defense Forces were not as well trained as in other prefectures because dealing with natural disasters took a considerable amount of time. Unlike other prefectures, Hokkaido was so large that it was impossible to deal with everything that happened.
That’s something Kagemitsu understood all too well.
He knew that adding more people to their staff would solve that issue, but their budget was too small to hire more people.
At this rate, if a Stampede like the one in Shinjuku were to happen somewhere in Hokkaido, there could be a large number of casualties.
If Kagemitsu couldn’t get the results needed, then he had to think outside the box.
And in doing so, he immediately thought of Air.
Air’s real face had absolutely nothing special to it, but once he put on his mask, he would start to give off a terrifying feeling of intimidation (though only from the neck upwards).
It happened when Kagemitsu talked to Air about making a partnership with Team Aerial.
Kagemitsu saw that the spots where his eyes would be (since the mask had no holes) were shining with a dubious, shimmering light.
The strong feeling of intimidation caused by that made Kagemitsu feel an intense chill down his spine.
What on earth was with that light?
“How come he’s always a bit different every time I see him…?”
Moreover, the feather decoration on his collar had become strangely thicker.
He hadn’t brought them along with him, but Kagemitsu was sure that his tamed monsters must have evolved in some way as well.
That ever-changing appearance of his was one of his problems…
But things depend on how you look at them.
Someone who could display such “development” every time they’re seen would be someone suitable to reign at the top.
I’m sure there will be people who would say “Can someone even change like that…?”
However, people that would want to follow him would surely appear as well.
Like the anonymous adventurers who gathered at the “Mr. Masked Man” thread.
It might seem like a small move now, but if this causes enough ripples, Hokkaido may be able to move forward on the road ahead.
Even faster than whatever I could achieve from being at the top…
Kagemitsu strongly felt that way.
And at the same time, he felt frustrated.
The reason why Kagemitsu had only discussed his idea with Air without solidifying it first was that Air would likely be lured by the strong teams in the mainland if he was too careless about it.
He didn’t know if other teams had already begun to make a move.
However, the adventurers who were once expected to make excellent results in Hokkaido had already been approached by powerful teams from the mainland.
Those adventurers who were called out would have been overjoyed.
In provincial cities, there was a strong image of “capital city = elite”.
All those adventurers that were called out by these “elite” teams have moved their headquarters to the capital.
And any friends who wouldn’t support them or go with them were left behind.