In a room we borrowed at the inn, I was sipping a cup of tea.
Monica had borrowed the dining hall to make preparations for the evening, and I was enjoying the taste of the first tea Novem had brewed in quite a while as I dealt with our guest.
With some light snacks atop a table between us, the one I faced was quite a pretty penny.
An elf as well as a singer, the girl’s name was 【Eva】.
Her pale pink hair was long and wavy, while the color of her eyes was of the same shade.
Her white skin was also a spectacle, but more so than anything were her ears, much longer than that of a human’s.
(A moment of elegance… how fitting of me.)
When fighting the Gryphon, there hadn’t been the time to take it easy, so I’m delighted the time has come where we can enjoy our time in leisure.
“Lyle-sama, it’s good and all to enjoy your tea, but if you don’t move the conversation forward…”
“Oh, right. My apologies.”
I offered my apologies to the one across from me.
While her height was quite high, the girl before my eyes claimed to be a novice singer of only sixteen.
“I don’t mind. Now then, I’ve a grasp of the story where a former noble son took part in the subjugation of a Hippogryph, but why is there a need to tack lies onto that? The Gryphon-slaying expeditionary force that’s become the topic of rumor… that does sound like a tasty story to latch onto, but personally, I’m more interested in you.”
That this girl, Eva, held interest in me… I understood it.
Novem looked at me with worry.
Aria was busy covering up her ears.
Miranda was casting her eyes to the ground.
Clara was fidgeting.
And behind her sister, Shannon was remaining vigilant of me.
Such bliss. To be surrounded by beauties.
“Well, there’s this and that going on. Is it not strange for a singer to directly ask for such a tale?”
We’ll have Eva sing the songs of the expeditionary force. By doing that, we’ll be able to spread the rumors of their deeds through the capital.
“You’ve already shown me the Gryphon’s body and answered my questions. But you see, I’m 【Eva of Nihil】. There’s no one my better in the clan when it comes to song, and I want to be more knowledgeable than all.”
She already saw the Gryphon, and had all the information we wanted her to preach.
But Eva had yet to find satisfaction.
The young girl who was becoming a bit famous in Centralle was one Novem had introduced to us.
“It will be troublesome if my own story gets out.”
I never thought that fabulous aura-like something of mine I’m unable to conceal would become this troublesome.
Good grief… there’s no helping it.
While taking sips of tea, I gave Eva some more specifics on the Gryphon subjugation mission.
From behind Miranda, Shannon whispered.
“That grin of his is creepy.”
“Are you jealous? Don’t feel so down, I’ll play with you later. Oh, right the last Hippogryph was defeated with a bow-and-arrow, and that’s the end to it.”
As I explained just how inept the squadron had been, and how much trouble it was, Eva seemed overjoyed.
“A story only I’m to know of… this is it! This’s what I’ve been waiting for! A song of heroics that everyone hums of is never enough. As I thought, you have to personally go and find all the details yourself. Ah, I’m sure I can write a fine piece.”
It seems she had some confidence in her skill.
“Oh? So you were looking for a heroic tale?”
When I said that, Eva flipped her hair and spoke.
“Yes. A majority of elves share their songs among their tribes. They learn of happenings through their travels, and exchange information with other elves of minstrels… among them, the Nihil Tribe has put a greater majority of songs to memory.”
But if they’re exchanging information, then shouldn’t they all have roughly the same amount of songs?
When I thought that, Novem supplemented some information.
“It’s because some songs fall to waste over time. In that regard, it’s said the Nihil tribe is quite proficient.”
Clara also added on.
“But that’s strange, isn’t it? For a travelling group like that, I can’t think one would try to announce their songs alone, even after entering a city like this.”
It did appear that Eva was singing alone.
“I mean, I’m a runaway.”
From the Jewel hung on my neck, I heard the Fifth’s voice.
The Sixth spoke as well.
『Hmm, a runaway child… just like a certain someone I know.』
As I imagined the Fifth’s grinning face, the Sixth sullenly whispered.
『I-I came back just fine…』
It appears there was quite a bit going on.
“Is running away not rare for your tribe?”
As I said that, Eva shook her head.
“They told me to go get married off to some other tribe, so I went off to become independent! Because I was the third daughter and of marriageable age, they said they’d try marrying me to the next elf tribe they encountered! ”
After hearing that much…
“I know, right!?”
But Clara spoke.
“Well, that’s merely the culture of the travelling troupe race known as the elves. Rather than staying within a single tribe, I’ve read it was a practice that originated to gain cooperation among their wide spread. It also carries the importance of having Eva-san share the songs of her own tribe with her new one, I believe.”
There, Eva spoke.
“I would’ve still been fine if it was a troupe they were talking about! But even if I went off with that party of hunters, all I’d be doing would be entertaining my family! There’d be no chance to spread my song! I want my voice to be heard by a large amount of people!”
I leisurely stood.
After the eyes of the female army gathered on me, I spread my arms out wide, and spoke.
“I see. Then why not follow my lead?”
She tilted her head, and I protruded my thump, pointing it at myself.
From within the Jewel, the Third…
『I-is it finally here!?』
I raised my voice, and declared in a tone overflowing with self-confidence…
“I’m a man who’ll become a hero one day! Won’t you be happy seeing such magnificence firsthand? And I’ll be happy having my gallantry handed down… everyone wins! By my side, let’s tell the tale of a hero, Eva!”
『… mr. lyyyllle!! This is the mr. lyle I know!』
I made a sexy pose, and fed-up glances seemed to gather from my surroundings.
I heard some laughter from within the Jewel.
“… I do enjoy comedies, but this is a little…”
Looks like I was rejected, but I’m not one to lose heart from something like that.
“How unfortunate. But feel free to bury yourself in my chest whenever you want. I’ll be waiting.”
When I gave a wink, Eva turned to Novem.
“… What the hell is with this deplorably handsome man?”
This elf sure is honest. While thinking that, I developed quite a cute impression of her.
“I apologize. He usually isn’t like this. It’s just that this meeting came with bad timing, and he’s currently undergoing a growth.”
The warm eyes Eva sent me after that felt quite comforting.
“Oh don’t stare at me like that. You’ll fall for me before you know it.”
When I offered a warning, the Third let out his voice.
『As expected of mr. lyle!』
『So it’s come. The man who’ll become a hero, of perhaps you’ll fall for me… which one do you think’s better?』
The Sixth was…
『For him to surpass an extra-large serving of love so easily…』
『Let’s tell the tale of a hero isn’t too bad either!』
The Fourth brought it all together.
『We’ve harvested quite a crop this time around. And wait, how about we just send him to the Circry House’s head as he is right now… I can’t imagine what’ll come of it!』
The ancestors all seemed quite delighted.
『We already have the preparations in order, so it’ll be troublesome if he doesn’t make a move. If he fishes up a strange one… well, I guess it doesn’t matter!』
Eva seemed worried for Novem.
“Hey, if you ever feel like breaking up, how about coming and traveling with me? If it’s you, Novem, you’re more than welcome.”
“No, the place I belong shall always be by Lyle-sama’s side.”
As always, she says some pleasant things.
(Loved by Novem, aren’t I the luckiest in the world?)
I held absolutely no doubt in the words going through my head.
I borrowed a storehouse in Centralle, and gathered some merchants there.
I get the feeling I said a little I shouldn’t have, but it was still recoverable.
(It’s fine. I’m still calm.)
Within the dimly lit warehouse, I had prepared a large quantity of lanterns to have them confirm the body of the Gryphon.
“Normally I’d take it to the Guild, but it was in a good condition this time, so I thought there may be someone out there wishing to buy it whole.”
When I said that, a single Merchant spoke up.
“Is this really the Gryphon defeated by the dispatched legion? In that case, I’m willing to put up two hundred gold. It’s in a favorable state. It at least holds that much worth.”
The rumors had already been spread through the capital, and the quick-eared merchants came to me upon hearing Eva’s song.
It was something written with a priority on speed, but hearing it, rumors quickly spread about the town’s inhabitants, and Eva’s popularity shot up quite a ways.
From the start, she had a favorable appearance, and a good voice. A firm groundwork in place.
After that, all she needed to do was grasp at a chance.
(Novem really did procure quite a skilled musician.)
“Yes, it is what I’ve purchased from the expeditionary force without a doubt. These are the documents from that transaction. Also, that force will be returning in the near future, and you’ll see that they have no Gryphon on their persons. To show off, they may have two Hippogryphs atop their carts as they make their arrival, though.”
(Right… only two. The number defeated was three.)
A merchant spoke.
“You paid five hundred for it, correct? Putting out such an amount… doesn’t that leave you much too far in the red?”
“I am no merchant. Learning their army had found out the existence of such a beast, yet still rose to face it, my heart was so moved I couldn’t help but put out such a sum. Of course, I also carried out collection work.”
Magic Stones, and other valuable had already been sold off by Miranda.
It amounted to roughly thirty gold, but that wasn’t nearly enough.
The Fourth spoke.
『I’d like to collect from two to three hundred here.』
I looked around at the ones gathered.
“I’m fine with waiting until the legion returns as well, but at that point in time, I’m sure the number of buyers will have increased.”
I tried stirring them up, and one raised his hand.
“Two twenty gold!”
And on top of that…
“T… two hundred and forty!”
The merchants arbitrarily began to bid. While listening in on them, I informed them on the specifics of the monster’s condition.
“The visible damage to it is but a single puncture mark. There are no other injuries it suffered in the battle concerned. Just as you can see.”
And in the end, a merchant purchased it whole for a sum as large as three hundred and twenty gold coins.
The Fifth spoke.
『… Isn’t that a little high? I was sure two hundred fifty would be plenty.』
The other merchants filtered out of the warehouse with regretful faces, and I struck up a conversation with the one who made the purchase.
“I’ll come to pick it up first thing in the morning. It doesn’t look like you’ve anything else to sell, but…”
He looked at me with worried eyes, and I replied with a smile.
“Yes, even if you offer a price higher than the market value, I’ve nothing to give as a bonus.”
“Well good. I wanted to procure it with all due haste.”
To the man’s relieved face, I posed a question.
“Did you require a Gryphon so badly?”
“No, there’s an important visitor coming to Centralle, you see, and she’s one who never seems satisfied with any commonplace articles. It would be a huge help to me if you didn’t enquire any further.”
Being told that, I nodded, and continued the talks on how the man would pick it up first thing in the morning.
… Late night.
Miranda looked at it, frozen in its block of ice in the storehouse.
It was carefully stored into a wooden box, and it was the only box to be found in the entirety of the wide storage room.
Porter was stationed near the wooden box, and Lyle was lying there within it.
“D-don’t cry, Monica… I would never do something like wasting your cooking full of love… erp!”
The splendid meal the automaton had made in high spirits wasn’t something a mere party of six would be capable of finishing.
Forcing himself to forge onwards, Lyle couldn’t help but lie down.
“It really was tasty, but… what’s that supposed to be? Did she come under the impression we were hosting a party?”
Aria herself had gluttonously dug into quite a large portion of it, so Miranda replied.
“And despite that, you sure did eat a lot. So much dessert as well… you’re sure to get fat.”
There, perhaps finally gaining awareness of the fact she had eaten just a little too much, Aria’s stance hardened.
It seems Clara had taken a liking to an item made through the frying of a potato, and she still wished to eat more.
“While Monica-san may be skilled in the kitchen, her repertoire really is something else. This party may really be quite a luxurious one.”
Seeing Clara happily stuff her face, some complicated emotions surfaced in Miranda.
Having experienced Growths, they had all made some embarrassing memories for themselves.
What’s more, Clara had thrown out quite a bit of verbal abuse.
The reason they were on standby like this was for the wooden crate they were quite purposefully showing off.
(Lyle sure has quite a few convenient Skills on him.)
Once the buyers had left, the info on where the Gryphon was kept had spread alongside the rumors of the battle.
It seems Lyle had it in mind that there would be some to try and steal it.
And one of the likely candidates was Miranda’s own home.
(I do think they’ll take various measures, but… will they really make a move so fast?)
When it came to preparations, Lyle rarely had an oversight.
While she had thought his expenditures a waste, he was quite reliable in finding proper ways to replenish his savings.
Shannon was sleeping on Porter’s luggage tray with a blanket wrapped around her, and Novem was busy nursing Lyle.
There, Lyle went through great pains to raise the upper half of his body, and looked around.
“Well that came faster than expected.”
The warehouse wasn’t even locked.
Having the door broken down would truly be a pain, but leaving it unlocked with the lights on made it more difficult for outsiders to think to enter.
Of course, Miranda did surmise there would be bandits aiming for the Gryphon as well.
She pulled out the dagger hanging at her waist, while Aria rose and put her hands on her short spear.
Novem exited Porter with her staff in hand.
Lyle alone walked boldly to the front of the box, and Monica tagged alongside him.
“Just show yourself already.”
When Lyle said that, several men clad in black plunged in through the warehouse’s window, and a few dozen of them poured in through the open door.
Miranda got into position, but Lyle merely snapped his fingers.
After a metallic sound rung out, and before she knew it, the men who stormed in were lying flat on the iced-over ground.
Looking closely, a wall of ice had surfaced close to the window.
When that disappeared, Lyle took a silver bow in hand.
(It’s much smaller than I heard. Is that not a short bow?)
She had heard it was a large bow, but with his small silver bow in hand, Lyle notched numerous arrows of light, before releasing them towards the ceiling. On their descent each one of them pierced the ground close to one of the men in black.
‘Twas a threat.
“Now go home and tell your employer to come himself. That we’ll negotiate when he does. And that this Gryphon’ll be handed off when morning comes.”
Seeing Lyle tap his hand against the crate, the black-clad men raised their vigilance of the party.
Lyle pulled back the bow.
“Or would your failure rather be reported with your corpses?”
As he said that, the men remained vigilant as they made their way outside.
(They were looking at me? And they seemed to be searching for another… Shannon?)
Miranda turned to Porter, and found Shannon poking her head out to see what was going on.
Those black-clad men had exchanged some glances upon seeing the girl, and left.
After a while, the bow returned to its original necklace-form, and Lyle turned to the broken window glass.
“… I’m definitely billing him for that.”
Returning to Porter, Lyle told Novem he felt a little better after moving his body a bit.
“… So he knew it all.”
Saying that, Miranda sheathed her blade…
As expected, the Circry House’s Head Ralph-san paid a visit to the storehouse.
(After putting up such airs, I’ve no idea how I would act if it was someone else entirely. How laughable.)
When I whispered in my mind, he came with a number of the dark-garbed men from before.
Nearby, he had even thoughtfully brought a wagon to carry the contents of the crate.
Miranda and Shannon’s eyes were looking at the man in a different light than before. They seemed a little surprised.
“… You intentionally brought some merchants in relation with my house here. Is it alright if I work under that assumption?”
Hearing that, I found he was moving exactly as the Ancestors had instructed me, so I did nothing but nod.
“I see. Then let’s get to negotiations. It will be troublesome if that Gryphon is to end up anywhere besides the palace. I’ve prepared two hundred gold. I’m sure it’s an adequate pricing.”
The Fourth spoke to me.
『So the starting offer is two hundred gold coins… Lyle.』
When I moved to grip the Jewel, the black-clad men behind Ralph-san reacted at once.
It was a little bit amusing.
“I’ve paid a whole five hundred on my side. Also, just look at that… because of you lot, the window of the storehouse we rented is in so many pieces. I’ll have to at least cover the cost of my own expenditure, you know. How does one thousand gold sound to you? If you’ve got some extraneous circumstance, you should at least be prepared to pay out that much.”
Ralph-san spoke in a fed-up tone.
“Oh I’m sure there was some damage on my side of the exchange as well. Understood. I don’t mind if I’m to cover the repair costs for the window. But the five hundred gold was something you arbitrarily spent of your own accord. I’m completely unrelated. If it’s two fifty gold coins, then I’ll pay it.”
It was nowhere near enough, so I smiled and spoke.
“Trying to drive your daughter’s boyfriends- and myself- to our deaths, and that’s the sum you put up? It was my own ineptitude when I took up the request, so how about I lower it to nine hundred and fifty gold?”
“… It’s just that flow of information to our household was a little delayed. If I knew, I surely would never have sent Miranda. To even drag little Shannon along… what a terrible man you are. Three hundred.”
“Make sure you put a gold somewhere after the number, my dear fiend. And make sure to give a warm welcome to those lover boys in question who’ve finally racked up some merit… Nine hundred gold.”
The negotiations continued on as such, with me offering seven hundred gold.
Ralph-san presented a price of four hundred.
『Looks like it’s around the point where you’re finally starting to make a profit. It’s fine to stop it here, but the problem lies in the fee for the request he issued you.』
The Fourth’s grinning face surfaced in my head.
“… Six hundred gold coins. Including the fee for your request, doesn’t it sound oh-so cheap? You’ll get this beast the expeditionary force sold off. A request to guard two people, what’s more, I even got them to perform some distinguished service.”
“How shameless… I never put in a request to give them brownie points. In the first place, I never knew a Gryphon would come out at that stage. I’m sure there were some mistakes on my end, but from start to finish, my request was for nothing more than you to protect those two from a Hippogryph. It looks like you fail to grasp a father’s heart.”
Shameless? Look who’s talking.
While holding those impressions, I spoke.
“… Five hundred fifty gold. Any more is impossible.”
There, Ralph-san as well.
“Five hundred gold. Any further, and I’ll consider use of physical means.”
Around were the black-clad men, and they had now turned into the man’s trump card.
Since his daughters were there, he likely didn’t want to injure them, but asking for any more would surely lead to further disputes.
I decided to fold.
I had Novem open up a part of the crate, letting the oversized head of an eagle come into view.
It was frozen quite solidly, and the white frosted-over contents made it difficult to make out, but my opponent did confirm it.
Ralph-san tossed a leather bag over to me.
I picked the jingling bag off of the ground, and had Monica confirm its contents.
After measuring its weight, she looked at my face, and nodded.
“Negotiations complete. I’ll send you the invoice for the window later.”
“I’d prefer it you didn’t request an exorbitant sum. You are quite a greedy one.”
“I’m not one for lies. I’ll demand nothing but the repair cost for the warehouse. Even like this, I’m still under the impression that I’m an honest man.”
(Right, Lyle hasn’t told a lie!)
And like that, Ralph-san motioned his subordinates to leave, and we warily watched them off.
While watching his men transport the crate, he spoke to Miranda.
“… Doris and Lucy are unreliable. Miranda, do you have any mind to return?”
Hearing that, Shannon seemed quite down.
“… So you’ll never say such things to Shannon, will you. I don’t want to be involved any more. Driving me out and bringing me back in after all this time? As if. Who are you trying to fool?”
Hearing her lack of intent to return, Ralph-san merely whispered, ‘I see,’ to himself.
The crate was moved out, and following behind, Ralph-san didn’t turn to us again.
I asked Miranda and Shannon.
“Are you sure about this? The both of you?”
There, Shannon responded.
“A-as if I want to return to a house like that!”
Her eyes were tearing up.
“Just by returning, there’ll be unfavorable rumors that’ll surface. Whatever the case, it isn’t a comfortable place to be.”
And to the two of them…
“How about you honestly say you decided to choose me? I’ll make sure you never regret it.”
When I said that, Shannon looked straight at me.
“Looks like you haven’t recovered yet.”
And said that.
“No matter what Lyle-sama you are, I’ll still like you… and um, well, I think it will get hard from now on, but please do your best.”
The next day.
In the warehouse, I accepted the payment from the merchant who purchased the Gryphon.
To my dark expression, the merchant raised quite a bright tone.
“The expeditionary force that returned earlier this morning all seemed so calm. As I thought, they truly looked like an experienced army. Somewhat threatening, really.”
(Yes, just like me, they were likely all in regret over the memories they wanted to forget.)
I accepted the bag of gold, and handed the Gryphon over to the merchant.
“The first had its head in quite a state, and the second looked like it was shot through the stomach. I’m sure it was quite a vicious battle.”
(The ones who did that were me and Aria.)
I put the money away, and handed the man some documents to confirm the details with Norma later.
“There’s plenty of worth in the Gryphon defeated by the heroes of the expeditionary force, but more than anything, I’m glad I made the purchase in time to welcome our important customer.”
Apparently, she was quite satisfied hearing she would get a Gryphon in quite a good condition.
“It’s just as much a saving grace for me.”
“Well, nice doing business with you.”
Seeing the smiling man and his party leave with the Gryphon loaded on his cart, I waved my hand in parting.
Miranda walked to my side.
“Like hell you’re not one for lies. Damn swindler.”
She poked her elbow at me in good humor, so I embarrassingly spoke.
“… I-I didn’t lie, you know.”
Right, I didn’t lie. Not a single soul said I would be selling a Gryphon.
What was negotiated with Ralph-san was a Hippogryph.
That’s all the frozen body had been, and the man had purchased a mere Hippogryph for five hundred gold coins.
This should be enough comeuppance for fooling us all.
Miranda put her hand to her smiling lips.
“And I’ve chosen you, Lyle, so make sure I won’t regret it. Well, quite a bit’s happened this time around, but it was fun, so all’s well.”
My face turned bright red, as I turned my eyes to the ground.
Monica seemed disappointed.
“… Looks like the Chicken Dickwad’s Fever Time has ended. When is the next one scheduled for?”
She asked me with quite a serious expression.
I looked at her face.
“As if I’d ever do it again.”
I swore in my heart, but the Sixth’s voice escaped from the Jewel.
『Lyle… it’s because you think that way that everyone’s troubled. But let me tell you, this time was interesting. 』
Building my resentment for the Sixth’s smiling face, I swore for the third time to never go through this sadness again.