Novem and I stopped by the East branch by ourselves.
It was due to the necessity of accepting a request at the counters.
It’s not like Beim’s requests had to be completed as soon as they were accepted.
A time period was defined, and you need to complete a task within that time limit.
Due to the dispatch nature of the east branch, it wasn’t rare for parties that weren’t about to leave the city to stop by the guild in relatively casual clothing.
If a party’s credibility was high, it was possible take on multiple requests for efficiency’s sake.
But having only just arrived, we had no credibility in Beim. If I had to say, the fight I was dragged into gave us a negative starting point.
When we reached the guild, we did indeed manage to see many in casual clothes.
They wore robes, and had weapons hanging at their waists. But that’s it.
They didn’t give off the impression they were going off to do some work at all. Some exchanged light banter with the guild staff at the counters, while others confirmed their request conditions with serious faces.
And some even protested at the unsatisfactory contents of what they’d been issued.
The reason we brought our feet to the east branch so early in the morning was to take up a request. To build up our credibility, we would have to complete a number of them.
And if we raised our evaluation in Beim, we would be able to challenge Labyrinths.
To get to challenging them as soon as we could, it was important to accumulate some daily effort.
And within all of that, the receptions desk I was deferred to was Tanya-san’s.
(With so many counters, I just have to get this one again.)
Black bobbed hair. Slender as she was, her chest area was also… slender.
“… Are you not thinking something incredibly rude, Lyle-kun?”
“N-no. Nothing of the sort…”
“Your eyes seemed to be directed at my chest area. My apologies for being so perfectly level. Was that your way of asking for a difficult job?”
Novem apologetically lowered her head.
“I’m sorry. Lyle-sama didn’t have any ill intent… I think.”
Tanya-san was smiling a little, and she didn’t seem to mind it.
“Well, if I worried over something like that, I’d never be able to work the adventurer’s guild counter. And it’s about your Party, Lyle-kun. This will be your first job in Beim, so it will be a bit of a test.”
Atop the long counter with dividers separating it on both sides, a single document was handed over.
Accepting the request form, I confirmed its contents.
“… Monster subjugation, is it?”
Tanya-san nodded, and explained this time’s request.
“The request is from a village of three days journey from Beim one way. It seems some Grey Wolves was spotted nearby. Please complete it within a period of twenty five days, and report your results to the counter. There’s the possibility their numbers may have increased, but please expect at least ten.”
A Grey Wolf was a wolf-like monster. The only real difference between the monster and the animal was whether or not you’d find magic stones in its body after killing one.
But on top of attacking in packs, their size exceeded that of most wolves, and they always launched assaults with humans as the highest priority.
“Is the village safe?”
I sought confirmation, and Tanya-san raised her shoulders.
“Beim’s major fault is its lack of self-sufficiency in food supplies. We treasure nearby villages quite a bit. Because of that, even the smallest of them has sturdy walls.”
The territory occupied by the city was truly small, and it was physically impossible for the city to be self-sufficient.
But with trade and magic stones and materials, as well as treasures and rare metal, the city could buy off food from its surroundings.
At the same time, it was Beim’s main weakness.
“But is just buying from them enough to warrant…?”
When I said that, the Seventh let out his voice from the Jewel.
『Even if they have a low degree of self-sufficiency, they can’t just go about doing nothing, Lyle. So as not to be taken advantage of, I’m sure they need to show off their capabilities to the surrounding countries.』
I withheld the urge to nod at his words, only to hear Tanya-san give much the same response. The latter half differed, though.
“Because if the city doesn’t do anything, it’s sure to be taken advantage of. Because we do pay quite a high price for our food resources. And the villages around Beim are full of people who used to be adventurers. They’re places that support retired adventurers on their second lives. With that being the case, they won’t fall to monsters so easily.”
Hearing that, I thought the people would be able to manage it themselves. Tanya-san read those thoughts off of my expression.
“Then why put out a request to begin with? That’s what you thought, right?”
“If it gets rough, I’m sure they’ll fight. But most of them have already retired. If they liked fighting so much, they’d still be adventurers at this point. Meaning they won’t take the initiative to go out and fight monsters. Well, I’ve heard other reasons for it as well, but… there’s quite a bit going on. Quite a bit.”
I was curious about that ‘quite a bit,’ but it didn’t sound like a fun topic, so I refrained from asking.
And I looked at the request form.
“I won’t say it looks easy, but it’s one we’re able to take on.”
“I’m sure it’s possible for us to complete it. But what do you mean by test?”
Tanya-san grinned, and spoke.
“It’s to see your competence.”
Novem seemed to want to say something, but she cut herself off, looked at me, and nodded.
“We’ll take it. It’s fine if we decide our own means of departure, right?”
Tanya-san nodded, and signaled for us to sign the form. After we did so, she accepted and filed it.
“We play no part in how you plan on going about it. Of course, if you end up sticking your hands in criminal work, you may end up being eliminated by the guild. This request is also for the sake of having you all learn how things work in Beim.”
Complete a simply request to learn how the system worked in Beim.
I accepted the form with all the details on it, as well as the paperwork to give to the requester before separating from the desk.
The way back.
I conversed with Novem.
“Now then, it’s three days there, and three back… but I get the feeling they mean by horse.”
I said that while looking at the map, and Novem nodded.
Right. If we’re going by foot, then it may prove difficult if we don’t set off tomorrow.”
Based on what I could see on the form, a large part of the twenty five days would be taken up by transport.
Even if we arrived at the village in question, I’m sure it would take a few days to complete the request.
“The trip both ways looks to be twenty days on foot? The time we can use for preparation is from two to three days… If you think about it normally, it’ll be quite a challenge.”
I gave a bitter smile.
I thought it would be near impossible if we were going by foot, but at the same time, it would be pointless any other way.
Because looking at the sum for the reward on the request form, if we rented a horse-drawn wagon, we’d have barely anything left to spare.
“Did you refrain from asking on purpose?”
“Well, we have some financial leisure. No real reason to ask.”
With twenty five whole days, we could return in time quite easily. I’m sure if it was only getting the preparations ready, one day would be enough.
The Third let out his voice.
『Hm~, Lyle… how about you complete this one with some time to spare?』
I touched the Jewel, and the Third happily gave an explanation. He really seemed to enjoy feeling like he outwitted someone.
Quite a nice personality there.
『What, I’m sure this is quite probably a test of competence. Not strength, but the more important stuff. Perhaps I should call it the ability to get from point a to b? They want to see how long you’ll take to do it all.』
The Fifth sounded satisfied.
『They said it was a dispatch type guild, so something like that is an important issue. Worse come to worst, no matter how strong one may be, if they aren’t timely, it would be difficult for them to get work. I’m sure they’re looking at other points as well, but… perhaps those former adventurers have a part in this.』
The Seventh spoke reluctantly.
『They sure are dirty folk. This is why I hate adventurers!』
The Fourth addressed him in a tired tone.
『What’s all this so far in the game? We’ve done similar things… no things far worse than that if the times came to it, haven’t we?』
The Seventh’s hatred of adventurers was considerable, so all that backed his argument was his sentiment.
What’s more, a guild properly existed in the Walt House’s territory.
The Seventh had made use of them a number of times. That’s why, while he wasn’t satisfied with It, he could understand their predicament.
The Sixth brought it together.
『In that case, our attitude out there may also be on their testing agenda. If it’s just something on the level of Gray Wolves, then whatever retired adventurers they have there should be able to manage with it.』
The Third was having fun.
『There’s no need to teach them what our fastest is. Just get there with a bit of leisure, and deal with it the same. Because if they know what you can do, they’re sure to make full (ab)use of it. It’s good enough for them to think of you all as adventurers that can deal with things, more or less.』
I gripped the Jewel, and turned my eyes to Novem walking beside me. But she was looking at the Jewel… no, at my hand.
“Lyle-sama, you sure seem to make that gesture a lot. Has it become a habit?”
She wasn’t really pressing or anything. She was just observing my actions.
Perhaps it had been on her mind for a while.
“R-really? No, it’s been quite reliable for me, so I always end up holding it like this. Maybe it’s becoming a bit of a habit? Well, it’s nothing strange, so isn’t it fine?”
Novem smiled, and…
“I guess you’re right. You sometimes tap it and let it roll, but is there something different between the two?”
While thinking she was being especially persistent today, I vaguely let it slide.
“I never paid that much mind to it… more importantly, the time is quite a questionable one. It’s too early for lunch, yet late for breakfast. Do you want to find some place to rest?”
Around us, various cafes were lined up.
Among the shops used by adventurers and residents, a few of them were closed with signs hung on their doors stating they weren’t yet open for business.
A few adventurers were already eating.
(Do we have a different sense of time? No, perhaps they’ve just come out from the Labyrinth, and their internal clocks are off?)
According to Clara, we had Monica to thank for that one.
She precisely notified us of the time, so within the darkness of the Labyrinth, we always knew how many days had passed, and our senses of time never went amiss.
“Before that, we really have to inform them of the request we took up. I’m sure they’re waiting.”
I nodded, and started walking off in the direction of the inn.
What I wanted to ask Novem about, was Miranda and the rest of the party.
After Novem had divulged her motives in the Faunbeux mansion, the party’s atmosphere had become somewhat strained.
No, rather than strained, it felt more business-like than before.
I didn’t get the feeling Miranda was working something behind the scenes yet. There’s the possibility I simply hadn’t noticed, but I carefully and frequently checked with my Skills, and came up short.
Right, there was nothing.
In the current party, there were barely any conversations.
Novem was often with Eva.
Miranda with Shannon.
Clara was generally fine alone, and she occasionally went around with Novem or Miranda.
Aria often got herself into petty quarrels with Monica, but she was usually somewhere around Miranda.
Monica was… well, she didn’t really show interest to anyone besides me. She did look after everyone else as well, but there was quite a clear difference in enthusiasm.
“Do you think it’ll all work out?”
I didn’t say in what.
Novem smiled, and nodded.
“It’s alright. I’m sure we’ll all be able to manage in Beim. With your level of abilities, Lyle-sama, you’re surely going to become a first-rate adventurer.”
I scratched my head.
“… I see.”
Meaning Novem plans to maintain the status quo with Miranda. If neither of them plan on intervening with the other, then it’s better than having them at each other’s throats.
(Is that really fine?)
Isn’t it my job to do something about their relationship? That’s what I thought.
I was within the Jewel.
In the Fifth’s room of memory, I was lying face first flat on the ground. My breathing was a mess, I was dripping with sweat and blood… Even after that subsided, I couldn’t get myself up.
The Fifth held a onehanded sword in his right hand, but its blade had several partitions in it.
A galient sword.
(TL: See footnote)
Its user, the Fifth, was looking down on my without breaking a sweat.
『Your movements are worse than before. You easily fall for feints. On top of that, you’re not outputting enough power. Your concentration is all over the place.』
Summing up my points to reflect on, he let the sword in his right hand disappear. The sabre pierced in the ground near me vanished as well.
『… Are the morning’s events still weighing on your mind?』
Perhaps paying mind to my feelings, the Fifth bent his back and addressed me.
“It’s not like I have any interest in a Harem, but we’re all comrades in the same party. I want to help everyone get along…”
When I raised the upper half of my body, the Fifth put his hand to his brow, and began to shake his head.
The Fifth definitely had a Harem as well, so perhaps he had some advice to offer.
“Do you have any suggestions on how to resolve it? Is it best to have them talk it out?”
『You’re seriously asking me? I’m sure you’ve got the wrong person, but… well, I guess I’m the best you’ve got.』
From what I’ve heard, the Sixth also kept mistresses. But the Seventh didn’t speak too highly of that one.
I mean, after seeing that harem, the Seventh resolved to only ever have one wife.
“Did the Sixth fail?”
When I asked, he fluttered his left hand to refute it.
『Fool. Do you even think there’s a single way to succeed? Think about it the other way. If Novem went and got another guy, would you forgive it? Because you both like her all the same, why not just live under the same roof? What would you do if that happened to you?』
I shook my head with all my might, and he nodded.
『If there were five or six men around Novem, do you still think you could love Novem alone?』
I thought over it a while, and denied it full force.
My feelings wouldn’t catch up.
“As I thought, harems are no good. Personally, I’m fine with just Novem, but… I understand I’m in a situation that won’t permit it. Still, harems are a little…”
『Out of the question, right? At best, a lover, perhaps? If it was just a political marriage, then it’s perfectly normal for both sides to get a lover once they’ve had a kid or two. I’m not in a position where I can speak up on those matters, but.. the Walt House has definitely had its estrangements. It’s just that in your case, those girls’ objectives are you yourself, and that’s what makes it so difficult. I mean, if they give up, I doubt they’d ever follow you anyways.』
From how the First went off to join the pioneering corps, being able to go anywhere for the person you love must be quite a commendable and charming deed.
But if you put Eva aside as a special case, the others were aiming for me.
The Fifth was also mindful of that.
“Then what is it I should do?”
He put it quite bluntly.
『Don’t do anything. Listen here, as long as it doesn’t get bloody, you definitely shouldn’t put your mouth into the relations of those two women.』
Surprisingly enough, his answer was for me not to do anything.
(TL: A galient sword is a fictitious weapon with some real life inspirations, often referred to as a whip sword or snake sword. There are similar real world equivalents, but nothing quite the same. You know, it’s that thing that Iris Heart(Neptunia) and Ivy(Soul Calibur) use, and I guess you can call Zabimaru(Bleach) one to an extent. You can get one in Bloodborne(Threaded Cane) too. Its name is taken from the 1984 anime Panzer World Galient, where the sword’s namesake is such a weapon. Most of the time, the item in question is bolstered with magic or science to make its design feasible. On a side note, Panzer World Galient is the first ever anime to throw giant f*ing mechs into a european medieval setting.)