After we returned from monster hunting, I unsteadily helped sell the materials we collected and started off in the direction of the guild.
Generally, the guild doesn’t handle monster materials.
To be more specific, the small red stones that could be harvested from monsters, Magic Stones, were all the guild manages.
They were a valuable… energy source, as well as the guild’s given right.
Adventurers sell materials to merchants and traders and sell the magic stones to the guild for profit. The guild earns profit from business dealings involving those stones.
Of course, there was quite a bit of interest in magic stones.
The guild’s management of them has led to explosive profits on their part.
Even so, that was something irrelevant to most normal merchants.
There was no reason for them to take an aggressive stance against the massive system with a monopoly on the trade routes that was the guild.
At some point, I found myself in Hawkins-san’s line, and I was waiting for my turn in line.
Having been hit by blood spurts, Zelphy-san was currently using the bath adjacent to the guild.
I was lined up alongside Novem, and she spoke to me in a worried manner.
“Lyle-sama, are you one hundred percent sure you’re alright? Your face is still pale.”
“I’m fine. I’ve mostly recovered from before, and we’ll return as soon as we finish the paperwork…”
I pushed myself so as not to worry her, but that only turned into worry when we returned.
『As I thought, you’re built too frail.』
I heard the First Generation’s voice. He sounded happy at my beaten state.
(No, please understand this is you guys’ fault.)
To a happy First, the Seventh spoke.
『And who was it who’s face was colored bright red up until now?』
『It’s impossible for you! Because you said that with a serious pose, you’ve made quite an embarrassing memory for yourself.』
An image of the Seventh’s grin popped up in my head.
But I’d like it if you would take my Mana into consideration a little bit more.
“Lyle-sama, again, your complexion is… let’s take a rest tomorrow. You’ve pushed yourself too far today. I’ll notify Zelphy-san, so…”
“Yeah, sorry about that…”
Should I not be angry at my ancestors, who would use my magic up as soon as it started recovering?
“Next in line… wait, Lyle-kun!? Your face is pale!”
I even caused Hawkins-san to worry for my sake.
“No, that’s not the face of a fine person… good grief, just what is that Zelphy-san doing?”
After Hawkins-san quickly finished the paperwork, we returned for the day, and I immediately laid myself down.
The day after monster subjugation became a break day.
While going outside to confront monsters hones an adventurer’s competence, it was important to intersperse breaks.
Like us, those who just fight monsters near town often go out every day, and occasionally take a day of rest.
When you were just fighting slimes, the earnings were too meager otherwise.
This time, we managed to take down goblins, so the revenue wasn’t bad, but my poor physical shape made our break set in stone.
We returned to our rented house, and Novem nursed me.
“As I thought, the fatigue from battle is something else. Next time, let’s increase our comrades, and reduce the burden on you, Lyle-sama.”
I wanted to say Novem was giving me overly excessive care, but there was a reason I couldn’t. That was that the ancestors were of the same opinion.
We were up against seven goblins, but my magic was able to perform an almost clean sweep.
But that was only because we had an excellent vanguard known as Zelphy-san.
She covered us immediately and didn’t let any of them draw closer. It was because she drew all the attacks that I was able to use my magic.
The old-looking sofa in the living room was quite bruised on the surface and its contents were visible.
I sat down and stared absentmindedly at the fire-less fireplace.
No, I was lost in thought.
(If we’re looking for a comrade, it should be a close combat fighter, right? Though that’s subject to change based on what role I’m put on.)
Our current state was one where it would be fine no matter what sort of ally we recruited.
It would be fine if they were ranged, and even if all three of us fought on the frontlines, we would have a stable formation.
“Zelphy-san said three as a minimum.”
“That’s right. If you want to be picky, then there wouldn’t be an end to it, but if we get another person, we should be fine for a while.”
“Power in numbers, is it?”
As I said that, the Fifth Generation butted in. It was a rare occurrence.
Today, I hadn’t heard it once, but it seems it was the Fifth’s day today.
『Those words are true, but I think the current Lyle needs to understand the concept of appropriate numbers.』
『Assembling a large force is important, but are you capable of maintaining it? Are they all necessary personnel? How will you develop your forces from here on out? There’s a mountain of things to consider. Personal capability, personality, characteristics, circumstances… commanding people is difficult regardless of the scale.』
I looked at Novem.
She had left the living room and headed to the Kitchen. She appeared to be making tea.
In a small voice, I conversed with the Fifth.
“What sort of personnel selection do you think we should exercise?”
『Just think of what’s necessary for you now. But, proficient people are in high demand. I doubt you’d ever get exactly who you hope for to join your party.』
(As I thought, this is hard.)
“Would it be better to make a temporary alliance and learn about the other person first?”
『Shouldn’t you ask that Zelphy adventurer for know how like that? None of us have any knowledge of being adventurers.』
“Yeah, that’s right…”
(The know how of an adventurer… The First and Second are usually quite reliable, though.)
The First and Second Generations who rushed forward to reclaim savage-turned land and raised a village for the Walt House were in a similar position.
They weren’t adventurers, but they had some similar accomplishments.
The Second said it, but apparently the First has a useful Skill pertaining to matters like these.
I mean, the Second’s skill was one that only displayed its effect when used alongside other Skills.
At present, the skill I’m capable of handling was the First’s alone, apparently.
“The quickest route would just be to get the First Generation to help me though, right?”
『Correct. It was a simple, but helpful Skill. I was also taken care of by it, so I know. On top of being easy to use, along with the Second Generation’s skill, your battle potential rises in an instant.』
The First Generation’s Skill was, to put it shortly, 『Ability Elevation』.
Its Skill Name was 『Full Over』.
It quite simply rose one’s ability to overwhelm an enemy.
Simple as it may be, it was exceedingly handy. The House Heads of history all found some use for it or another.
『That all depends on the man himself… in our time, we could just use it without paying mind to something like that, though.』
After becoming a Jewel, the Skills themselves awakened to wills.
Those were the past Heads’ memories and hearts. The Ancestors were the Skills themselves.
Meaning if they didn’t recognize me, I wouldn’t be able to use them.
『My Skill will be quite a load on you. It’s not because I hate you, but for the current you, it will be nothing but a burden at present. If you steadily increase your Mana, the possibility exists, though…』
“The problem’s that I don’t know how to do that. I heard it naturally increases as you grow older.”
The way to increase magic was a training method were you just kept using magic. But there was no way of saying whether that method was actually effective or not.
I’ll bet there was some effect, but even if you didn’t do anything, Mana should increase alongside your growth.
I’ve also heard superstitions that through defeating monsters, things other than Mana will grow as well.
But I remember there was never anyone around me who could confirm the truth of the matter.
『If you identify your own Skill, there’ll probably be another way out there. Well, isn’t it fine to just be patient for now?』
“Hah… (Even when I have a Jewel that’s supposed to grant you Skills, it hasn’t granted me a single thing…)”
Novem returned, carrying tea, so I put my conversation on hold.
The next day.
After Novem and I headed to our meeting point with Zelphy-san, we were informed of a change in plans.
After finishing the required paperwork at the guild, we headed to a café that adventurers often patronized.
Perhaps because it was an establishment that allowed you to enter with all your equipment on, it was often used by adventurers.
A seat by the window was open, so the three of us sat and ordered tea. Zelphy-san also ordered some sweet confectioneries.
“My treat. Also, do you two remember when I told you to get some more members? It’s about that, but… I think you should act with some discretion. Don’t just try to pull anyone over.”
“What do you mean by that?”
Zelphy-san began to explain her reasons.
Having assessed our ability, her conclusion was that we be careful with picking companions.
“You guys’ ability level is far from a newcomers’ balance-wise. If you remove his stamina problems, Lyle over there’s fit in the higher ranks of Dalien’s adventurers. And Novem, I saw your Holy Attribute Magic first-hand… You’re undoubtedly top-level in Dalien.”
On her opinion, I tilted my head.
As an easy starting town for adventurers, the standards of adventurers in the town of Dalien was undoubtedly low compared to the organization as a whole.
But regardless, being in the higher ranks was still certain to be above the norm.
(If our evaluation’s high, won’t comrades gather around us soon enough…?)
“Is that bad?”
Zelphy-san made a troubled face.
“It’s not terrible, but… if you want to avoid the trouble, then it’s bad. I kinda looked into the two of you. Information on where you come from as well.”
Zelphy-san investigated my home… No, she investigated where I came from, and from there, she learned my standing.
Of course, she doesn’t look like she dug too deep. Not that she wanted to know or anything.
“U-um, we didn’t plan to lie, or anything.”
I tried to offer an explanation, but Zelphy stopped me with her hand.
“I’m not saying that’s bad at all. My way is to accomplish the job I’ve been given as best I can. I’ve no plans to throw it out along the way. The penalty for breaking the contract is a scary one too. It’s just that you guys have circumstances, and since you have talent as adventurers, you’ll have to be wary.”
It looks like I was still a little naïve about the adventurer trade. I never thought she would be able to investigate that quickly.
Novem listened to her words with a serious expression.
“You’re goin’ to be stayin’ in Dalien for a while, right? That’ll probably be fine. But you’re going to leave eventually. Be careful about selecting comrades, and make sure it’s someone you can trust. It’ll be a pain if you get some strange group’s eyes on you.”
Strange group probably referred to those who lived by parasitizing off adventurers and those who deceived people of the same trade.
The former were people who eat off of parties, and are only around when it’s time to receive their portion of the loot.
The latter were swindlers.
“Now then, it’s about your future plans, but…”
Before Zelphy-san could finish, the door to the café was swung open with good vigor.
The bell attached to it let out a loud sound.
And footsteps began to come in our direction.
Novem stood up, and I lifted myself slightly to take a look at our opponent’s faces. But they weren’t looking at us at all.
Having her name called, Zelphy-san had a troubled expression as she whispered.
But there, the First Generation’s voice overlapped with her’s.
『Alice-san! Why is she in a place like this…』
“Eh? So which is it…”
As I unintentionally whispered to myself, Novem turned to me. It seems the other party didn’t have any hostility, so she lowered her staff.
I also hurriedly took a seat and looked at them.
The woman Zelphy called Lady and the First called Alice was a red-haired girl of our age.
Her hair that had grown to her back was curling up at the ends by habit.
Her slightly narrowed eyes were violet, and she appeared before us completely out of breath. She seemed to be quite breathless, but at the same time, it looked like she was usually the type of girl with quite some energy to her.
Perhaps because she chose clothes easy to move around in, they stuck quite close to her skin.
However, the fact that Zelphy-san referred to her as Lady carried a slight sense of discomfort.
She definitely had a pretty appearance, and she had some ornaments here and there. However, her appearance was far from fitting one of a higher class.
“I beg of you, Zelphy, please lend me your power.”
“No, well… I’m in the middle of work right now…”
The surrounding eyes were also focused on our table, but they weren’t especially noisy or anything. In low voices, they began speculating on what happened.
“Is it an entanglement of twisted love?”
“That blue haired sunnuvabitch, how envious.”
“And wait, that’s Sis’ Zelphy, right?”
(Why are they glaring at me? I’m not related to any of this, you know.)
(TL: Sis here is anego. Kinda has a boss connotation rather than sister.)
I endured the harsh eyes that were pointed at me for some reason and inclined my ears to the two’s conversation. But the First Generation was also shouting inside the Jewel.
My magic was being steadily chipped away.
“The Lockwarde House’s『Gem』was stolen! That’s an important heirloom that’s been handed down the family for generations! Please help me take it back!”
Rather than excited, the girl called Aria seemed to be in a major panic. I locked eyes with Novem next to me.
“What does this mean?”
“Um~ Perhaps she’s of the House that Zelphy-san used to serve in the past? I did think she looked like a knight, but it seems she really was one.”
Novem said that, and Zelphy-san corrected her.
“No, I wasn’t a knight, my father… wait! Milady, I’m not a retainer of the Lockwarde House anymore. Also, I’m in the middle of work, so it’s a little troubling if you make a request like that.”
Zelphy-san gave an apologetic look, and Aria made a dark expression.
She turned her eyes to me and started pleading earnestly.
“Are you two Zelphy’s employers? Then it can just be for a little. Please give me some of her time! It’s an important treasure I have to reclaim no matter what… it’s the Lockwarde Gem, and it’s been handed down for over two hundred years! I’ll do anything to thank you, so please lend Zelphy to me!”
Novem stood from her seat again.
“I understand that you may be in a hurry. But we have our own situation as well. Zelphy-san has signed a three month contract with us, and we’ve paid the fee from our meager funds. I can understand your sentiment, but please pull back… and right now, I can only see you as one who relies on others for your own troubles.”
As she said that, Zelphy-san lied face down on the table and didn’t say anything.
Looking at that, Aria-san seemed mortified.
No matter what happened, right now…
『It’s Alice-san! It’s the Alice-san from back then… my first love hasn’t ended!』
The First Generation was in ridiculously high spirits, and because of that, my magic was still going down the drain.
(Wait a second, it’s depleting more than ever before. This dizzy sensation is…)
My head was getting light.
The Second started participating as well.
『Oy! Lyle’s going down! He’s already unsteady! Calm down for a second!』
『As if I could calm down! My youth, my adolescence, all that would come to be if Alice-san never passed…』
I was hearing such a voice from the Jewel, but after a while, I stopped hearing anything.
At the same time, because Novem had refused, Aria-san grabbed my shoulder.
“I beg of you. I’ll do anything, so please lend me Zelphy… It’s my treasure.”
Her eyes were filled with tears, and she was desperately pleading to me, but I couldn’t even let out my voice.
Perhaps out of desperation, she started shaking me back and forth. My head was spinning round right round baby…
“Please unhand Lyle-sama! Lyle-sama? LYLE-SAMA!?”
“Eh? What… Kyaaaaa!!”
“Wait! Why are you losing consciousness!!?”
As my mind was sent deep inside of me, I thought to myself.
(N-none of this was my fault…)