Someone to Guard
Walking down the narrow alleyway, I confirmed the contents of the memo again.
“So it’s here.”
It should have been a bright day, but the towering buildings intercepted the light of the sun, basking everything in a gloomy feel.
The note Ralph-san had handed me had the name 【Marcus Carning】 written on it.
The man the third daughter of the Circry House had taken a liking to, and was scheming to get married into the House.
Of course, the very premise of that plan was already flawed.
“Trying to rack him up some achievements to raise his status, and forcefully finding him employment for that sake… yes, it doesn’t settle right with me, but…”
The Johnny Village dispatch was already anticipated to have a level of casualties, and another one of its objectives was to cut down on the number of low ranking nobles, who’d immediately jump at the chance offered by such a volunteer opportunity.
Even if they’re still nobles, those of the knight class did have it quite rough.
Those without any peerage only had the annuity to give their families a humble life.
It would be different if they had work, but in Centralle’s current state, such work is quite a scramble.
From within the Jewel, I heard a complaint.
It was the Second.
『Even if the dispatch falls through, they’ll just send out their real force to resolve it safely, is it? I’ll bet they plan to raise up the next ones they’re going to send.』
I looked around, and confirmed I was alone.
I opened my mouth.
“But won’t having the army face defeat create various problems…”
The one to answer was the Sixth.
『There are various cases. Factional disputes, and competitions for posts, and then, there’s all the poor saps dragged into it all.』
I wonder if it really is true that there were too many Nobles.
The main problem would be that there hadn’t been a large war in the past few decades or so.
The Seventh spoke.
『Bahnseim has grown much too big. But Lyle… even for a country as large as that, there’s still a set amount of its populace it can support. Nobles are the same. The amount they can employ is definite.』
While it may be definite, if there are some achievements to be had, then the knights receive promotions, or some form of reward must be bestowed unto them.
The Second spoke.
『Then just go reclaim more land already! Just look at the damn slums… with those numbers, a village or two’d be raised and prosper in a jiffy!』
On the way here, I had a chance to catch sight of the Imperial Capital’s slums.
They were overflowing with people, and on the way, I was even begged at a few times.
The Fourth spoke.
『Beasts and bandits… and monsters… for a small village, the chances it’ll be destroyed is quite high. The investors in such an endeavor would also hesitate.』
Using magic, one could definitely finish up a village at quite a fast rate, but after that, it was the maintenance that grew difficult.
And having magicians constantly stationed at such an outpost cost money.
Those feasible to dispatch to develop villages were magicians specialized in earth and water attributes.
Using that, it would be easy to build the foundation, but…
(Just like with this time, it’ll be wiped out the moment a strong monster shows up.)
And that’s why knight brigades are sent out, and adventurers and mercenaries can put meals on the table.
I sighed, looked over the number and nameplate on the door, and knocked.
The one who opened the door with a slackish tone was a delinquent-esque young man with his short orange-colored hair ruffled into quite a mess.
I could not see him as the earnest man described.
He stared at me with his drooping eyes, as he waited for me to state my business.
His height was tall, and his facial features were well in order, though mildly sinister…
“Are you Marcus-san?”
He scratched his head.
“That’s right? What business you got with… do you have with me?”
Seeing my attire, he likely thought of me as a rich brat.
He seemed to mind his tone of voice.
I had been taken care of by the Circry House, and I couldn’t be wearing something too rough when I stopped by, so I came to the apartment in some relatively decent clothing.
“I am an adventurer. Well, it’s the Circry House that made a request to me, though.”
As I said that, Marcus spoke up.
“… What? If it’s about the volunteer soldier thing, I ain’t gonna take it up. I’m just trying to raise my rank a bit, and get a steady income here. Not that that old man’d ever understand the feels of the bottom rung.”
Old man likely referred to Ralph-san.
The Third spouted out something quite irrelevant.
『… Sheltered daughters, and nobles and the like, you hear. They always seem to fall for these sorts of delinquent-ish men.』
Rank… for a court knight, a single rise in position could greatly alter one’s annuity.
The provisions paid to them every year were a precious source of income.
The Fourth spoke.
『Well, if he’s at least trying to find work, he’s got some ambition.』
The Fifth agreed.
『If I had to say, then I don’t think he should pay any mind to honor, and just take up some jobs aside from those given by the royal palace.』
While I wasn’t too familiar with the circumstances surrounding that area, I spoke to Marcus.
“I did accept a request pertaining to the volunteer work, but with how it’s been phrased, it looks like I’ll mainly be serving as your subordinate.”
“Subordinate? What do you mean?”
He bit the bait, and I handed over a letter.
It was one written up by Ralph-san.
What it described were the specifics of the request I had taken up as an adventurer.
Marcus-san’s face curled into a smile.
“So he does know his stuff, that viscount! With this, even if I don’t participate much myself, I’ll still stand out!”
Seeing his happy face, I covered up my emotions with a bitter smile.
I don’t really get it, but if he didn’t have the personnel, couldn’t he have just hired them?
Besides using his daughter as an intermediary, I think there were plenty of ways to go about it.
There, the Seventh spoke.
『Hmm, it seems this time’s request from that damn rat may prove to be for Lyle’s sake as well.』
The Fifth approved.
『The haves, and the have nots? Well, in this case, it’s a bit off. It’s certainly something essential to the current Lyle, no doubt.』
While I started to think over what it was I was lacking, my shoulder was hit roughly a few times.
“What’s that? So you’re coming with a party of seven? With this, we can even work on the scope of a platoon. It’s more than welcome!”
The letter did have some details about me, and it served as a letter of introduction.
The departure was in five days, so preparations were going to get hectic.
“Um, that hurts.”
“Oh, sorry ‘bout that. So, did you just come to give a greeting today?”
“No, I thought I’d ask what your plans were for tomorrow. I’d like if you took your equipment, and came to the Circry Mansion when you’re available. There’re various things we’ll have to confirm.”
Marcus-san made a questioning expression.
“The mansion? Then that means that bastard, Breid’ll, be there…”
The one Marcus-san spoke of, 【Breid Vamper】 was a servant of the Circry House, or how should I put it, he mainly used his strength to do jobs requiring brute force.
His father had a single generation’s worth of knight peerage behind him, but on top of not being able to succeed that, Breid was born as the third son, so he ended up finding work as a servant.
I tried asking.
“Do you dislike him?”
“He always kinda picks a fight with me, or maybe he’s jealous? I mean, I’m a bonafide hereditary noble, so he’s got this and that to think about.”
I had also met with Breid already, but I didn’t really have a conversation.
(… Though I don’t really think there’s that much a need to fuss over who’s a noble, and who’s not.)
“So that means it’s that, right? Breid’s going to be participating a well?”
“Yes, or so I’ve heard. And so, I thought it best we all met up.”
In truth, if I don’t get a grasp of their skill as soon as possible, this expedition will be exceedingly risky.
If I want to ensure their safety as best as possible, I should promptly put an end to these matters.
“I got it. I’m not in a standing to complain anyways. Aand, your name is…”
I didn’t give my last.
“I see. Pleasure working with ya’.”
While his appearance was a little deviant, he was a surprisingly amiable man.
… The Circry House manor.
Miranda was walking down the corridor with ill humor.
“That rotten father of mine…”
The cause of it was her father.
That tone of his, as if to test Lyle, had been oh so irritating.
Walking beside her, Shannon was quite dejected.
“So why am I participating as well? I want to relax around my own home for once.”
“Then we’ll leave you here alone, so you can take the brunt of those two’s cynicism. They may even resort to physical means at this point.”
While she said that as a threat, she knew the probability of such a thing wasn’t low.
That her younger sisters didn’t welcome their siblings who had finally returned home.
“I don’t want either. Isn’t there a more elegant life somewhere out there for me?”
Miranda sighed, and looked out one of the windows lining the hallway.
There, Doris was talking with a tall, black-haired man.
The earnest-looking youth was 【Breid Vamper】.
He had come to the mansion just after they left, and he was a third born son, who wasn’t even a noble.
He could read, write, and do calculations, as well as handle a sword to an extent, and he was currently doing live-in work at the mansion.
“What’s wrong? Ah, Doris-oneesama, is it? It sure is rare to see her out of her room.”
The reason Shannon laughed, as if to make fun of her, was one Miranda agreed with. She agreed, but…
(I don’t remember you ever leaving your room either.)
“Right, she’s moving in a good direction.”
And after the two had separated, Shannon looked over the scene, and spoke.
“… That man is somehow using Doris-oneesama. He isn’t really putting much feeling into it, at least, I can’t see the two of them as lovers.”
Miranda also felt that.
Perhaps noticing the two stares from the window, Breid smiled and gave a light nod before departing.
He was tall, and his face wasn’t bad.
But Miranda had noticed.
“That face is one of a man with high ambitions. Perhaps the reason he approached Doris was to gain status as a noble.”
“Well, he seems somewhat capable, but his abilities are below Lyle’s… perhaps it’ll be impossible for him to rack up achievements?”
“Don’t compare to Lyle. They’re in different dimensions.”
He could manage swords and magic, use multiple Skills at the same time, and reached the level of a mid-class adventurer in well under a year.
The levels of talent were far too different.
It made her want to tilt her head at the Walt House that thought to drive him out, but the very fact that Celes was there was enough for her to accept it.
(Good grief… knowing full well, he spoke as if to challenge him.)
Knowing about Lyle’s circumstances, the reason Ralph gave the request this time around was something Miranda learned later.
Ralph wanted to confirm just how Lyle planned to move.
It was true that he had been looking into him, and he knew that Lyle was skilled as an adventurer.
Because of that, Miranda had been in quite a foul mood since morning.
(There are no absolutes in the world. And yet for him to give out a meaninglessly dangerous request…)
She had much she wanted to say, but as she didn’t have the time, Miranda hurried with her preparations…
… Monica was modifying Porter in the back yard of the mansion.
The one looking over her work was Clara.
Clara had been unable to adjust to the atmosphere of the estate, so she conversed with the automaton outside.
“Can we put Porter to use outside? I don’t think it will output too much speed.”
On Clara’s question, Monica spoke.
“You mean to say the fruit of mine and the chicken dickhead’s love falls short of those horse drawn carriages scattered over the place? It’s not like we’re all getting a horse, so we’ll be going on foot. With that, Porter will give some peace of mind. We can load supplies onto it, and more than anything, just look at this damn fine armor!”
Banging her fist against Porter’s bulk, Monica went on.
“There’s no need to fear the fangs and claws of monsters! What’s more, it won’t even shake on uneven roads!”
Seeing Monica brag so highly about Porter, Clara began clapping her hands.
“Yes, if we’ll be mainly traveling on foot, then Porter will have a large part to play. And coupled carriages can’t be used if the roads aren’t well-maintained.”
Hearing Clara’s words, Monica nodded, before tilting her head.
“More importantly, Clara-san, there’s something I’ve yet to understand.”
“What is it?”
“Shouldn’t knights and soldiers have been sent out beforehand when they heard a village was attacked? Despite that, they sure are taking their time, aren’t they? Won’t there be heavy casualties?”
Monica found it strange that they’d yet to send a defensive force, when there could be casualties popping up at this very minute.
Clara took off her glasses, and gave a preface of, ‘well I’m none too knowledgeable’ before speaking on.
“… It’s quite a small settlement, so they probably consider it a low level of priority. I don’t enjoy putting it like this, but even if the village is lost, it won’t be a serious wound on the Imperial Capital at all.”
Hearing that, Monica spoke.
“This sure is a harsh world on the weak.”
She resumed her work on Porter. In essence, she needed to finish it up within a span of four days, so she hurriedly proceeded with her modifications.
It wasn’t possible to accomplish much at night, so she had to use her limited time to pass by as planned.
Otherwise the complaints would come in.
Clara whispered, ‘ah,’ and Monica stopped her hands.
“What is it?”
The one walking up to them in long strides was one with her long straight verdure hair swinging back and forth: Lucy.
She was followed by some servants of the mansion.
“What is it? Don’t give me that! Whose mansion do you think you’re making such a racket in. The creaks and bangs are getting unbearable!”
Clara stood from her sitting posture, and seeing that, Lucy spoke.
“I wondered what sort of person he was when he brought along a maid, but it was just an abandoned kid of the Walt House, and his adventurer friends… how appropriate.”
“I see. Well that’s nice. It’s just that I’ve already received the permission of the family head Ralph-sama to carry out work here. You asked whose mansion it was? Well, that would be Ralph-sama, right…? So what did you come here for?”
Clara hurriedly tried to put a stop to Monica, but in essence, Monica was Lyle’s personal maid-type automaton.
She had lost her country, and her manufacturer had perished.
Meaning she herself was her own rule.
“Can’t you tell that I’m saying you’re annoying!?”
She scoffed at Lucy’s words.
“’And so?’ is the response I offer to that. I have the license to do so, and more importantly, your boyfriend, Marcus-san, was it? It will be for that man’s sake, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t pull me down.”
Saying she wouldn’t make it on time, Monica restarted her work.
Hearing Marcus’s name brought up, Lucy took along the servants, and left.
“Was that alright? She’s a Lady of the Circry House, right?”
Scoffing again, Monica responded.
“And whose fault do you think it is we’re in this situation? I’d like it if she was at least a little compliant. If she goes as far as to even get in our way, it’ll be nothing but a nuisance.”
Sitting back down, Clara spoke.
“I’ve been thinking it for a while, but your attitude to everyone besides Lyle-san is quite cold.”
Monica gave her reply as if it were only natural.
“Yes, is there a problem with that?”
“… No, it’s nothing.”
Clara took out a book to read, and Monica continued with her work…