… A narrow alleyway of Beim.
Walking down it were Miranda and Shannon.
Shannon looked quite nervous, as she pressed on with a hand on the sleeve of Miranda’s coat.
“Shannon, walk a bit faster.”
“That’s impossible. It’s dirty, and this place… it’s giving off quite a sense of danger, if you haven’t noticed!”
Narrow and dark. Once they came to the end of that passageway, the entertainment district spread out before them. With the time being just before noon, there weren’t too many people passing through.
Shannon looked around, collecting various bits of information with her demon eyes.
Those eyes themselves did not function, but in order to compensate for her lack of vision, she had manifested such a Skill.
Unlike her sister, her hair was a faint violet, and her irises amber.
“… Aren’t we in the wrong place?”
There were a few women in showy garments, but they were walking around with drowsy expressions. Shannon could understand their fatigue, and she knew the people walking around were just going off to bed with the sun so high in the sky.
“And it reeks of ale…”
Shannon looked at a building’s wall, and immediately averted her eyes. It was blatantly and naturally dripping with filth, and she felt she had just witnessed a different side of Beim.
(The difference between the pretty and the filth here is something awful.)
Miranda walked on. Perhaps she had come here before, as she proceeded straight to her destination without a memo or map.
She went to enter a building of three stories.
(… Just what could be here?)
Rather than a shop, there was a compact counter like one would find at an office.
The opening of the door was followed by the chime of a bell attached to it, and a small girl peeked her face up from the desk. She looked to be even younger than Shannon.
While Shannon was surprised at finding a girl younger than she in the entertainment district, she found her sister’s exchange with the girl even more intriguing.
“Innis, is Rauno in? I came for confirmation on that previous matter.”
The girl named Innis nodded, and pointed deeper inside.
“He’s further back. Said his head hurt from a drink too many. Even so, you’ve got a tag-along this time? Quite a cute one at that.”
Shannon turned to the girl who looked younger than herself.
“No, no matter how you look at it, I’m the elder here.”
Miranda spoke in a tired tone.
“Don’t be stupid. Innis here’s a gnome, and much older than you. Well then, we’re going in. I’ll drop the contingency fee with you later, Innis.”
Shannon made a surprised sound, looking back and forth between the girl- a bit shorter than her- and her sister, as she was led further inside.
The moment she entered the back room, she was rocked by the stench of alcohol.
“… Oh, you again.”
Unkempt hair, and an unshaven stubble.
The man was an acquaintance of Miranda, and after raising the upper half of his body, he scratched his head, and began to turn around.
Miranda confirmed the job she had requested.
“So what is the status on my request?”
The man stood, took an orderly pile of documents off a table further in, and handed them over to Miranda before sitting down on the sofa again.
The door opened, and the girl from before… Innis came bearing drinks. She left them on the table, so Shannon and Miranda sat on the sofa across, facing the man called 【Rauno】.
By the time the girl had left, Miranda had begun looking through the papers.
Putting one of the cups to his mouth, Rauno looked at Shannon for only a moment. And he raised his guard a bit.
Shannon could understand that easily, but Miranda was the same.
“She’s my sister. You don’t have to be so wary.”
Rauno gave a bitter smile.
“Well sorry ‘bout that. I’m running a business here, and I just can’t help it. Not knowing something is quite scary, you know.”
He sounded as if he was joking, but he hadn’t relaxed one bit.
(This one’s somewhat more fearsome than he appears.)
He was definitely leading a no-good lifestyle, but his body was amply trained, and while he looked full of openings, he had yet to lower his guard.
“… So Novem met with an acquaintance in Beim? What was it she accepted?”
(Novem? Why is Miranda investigating…)
Rauno scratched his head, before letting his expression turn serious.
“That has yet to be determined, but she was holding it quite preciously. From the shape, it’s most probably a staff. What’s more, likely a Magic Tool at that. I wasn’t able to confirm it, so I didn’t record it down in those. Also, they seemed quite close. She called him her brother after all.”
As Miranda’s gaze sharpened, Rauno continued into Novem’s suspicious behavior.
“Rather than parting due to discord or anything, it was more of a which side do you want to follow sort of talk. The all-important Novem-chan in question said she’d tag along with dear Lyle-kun is how it went. Satisfied?”
Miranda laid the papers she finished reading on the table before going into the specifics.
“So her family has split into factions, yet he went through all the trouble to deliver a parcel?”
Rauno didn’t sound interested.
“Who knows? You’d be hard pressed to find decent folk among nobles. Just what could they be thinking… next we meet’ll be on the battlefield she said. Seriously, siblings killing off one another?”
Shannon felt the man react to the word noble. And after Miranda asked for a few more specifics, she stood from the sofa.
“Thank you. We’ll be away from Beim for a while, but perhaps I’ll bring in a request next we drop by. Also, the matter I entrusted to…”
Before she could finish.
“… I’ve gathered the info on the surrounding countries and Bahnseim already. At present, I haven’t gotten enough to count for what you’ve paid, but you wanna look through it anyways?”
Miranda shook her head, and left. Rauno called to stop her.
“Oy, I’ll be troubled here if you don’t pay the fee. The promise was ten gold coins, right? It was quite a pain following that Novem-chan around.”
To his complaints, Miranda replied with a smile.
“Oh of course I’ll pay up. I’ll even throw in a bonus this time. But I’ll be handing it to Innis.”
“… Does it really make a difference, giving it to me or her?”
Shannon could see that Rauno was terribly disappointed inside. She understood he was a person one would call an information dealer, but she was surprised in finding he was skilled enough to trail Novem.
(And wait, why was I dragged here to begin with? Yes, I’m sure Novem is suspicious, but… is that really the first of our problems here?)
She couldn’t understand why her sister would put out ten gold for info on Novem. And she understood even less of why she had been brought to such a place.
After exiting the office, Miranda spoke so only Shannon could hear.
“Shannon, you’ve remembered the way here, have you not? Remember that Rauno-san. He’s a proficient one.”
“Eh? You mean…”
Without saying another word, Miranda walked off…
… In a shop dealing with western clothing, Novem was shopping with Eva and May.
“Ah~ This one’s also nice. But I want that one too~.”
While Eva shifted through the merchandise, May looked over her with a fed-up expression.
“They’re all the same, aren’t they? All that differs is color, and what monster or animal skin they’re sewn out of, right?”
For May who looked quite cold in what she wore, they had come to buy a robe or coat. Eva was looking over other clothing along the way.
And Novem was accompanying the two of them.
Eva looked at May.
“That difference is the important part! What’s with you deciding at the drop of a hat without trying anything out? Are you sure you’re not the strange one here?”
May did not seem interested.
“I mean, I’m usually just naked, aren’t I? This garment is just something I wear because Fredricks once told me to properly cover up certain areas.”
May was a quilin, and her original form was that of a scaled horse. Recalling that fact, Eva still seemed dissatisfied, as she sent a glance at Novem to ask for assistance.
“May-san, if you plan on living by mingling with humanity, then you have to pay a level of awareness to your outward appearance.”
Told off by Novem, May reluctantly agreed.
“Fine, got it. But aren’t you taking too long to decide? Why would you even need an undergarment as small and insignificant as that? What purpose would it even serve?”
Eva to May.
“… To wear of course. And wait, could it be you’re…”
“Not wearing any, of course.”
Novem let out a sigh before she began picking out clothes for May. One of the salespersons came over.
From her slender build, high height, and the length of her ears, one could instantly tell she was an elf.
“Have you found everything you were looking for?”
Seeing one of her race come closer, Eva looked around.
“Yeah, sorry for that. Because I’m here, the other clerks won’t come over, will they.”
Elves were a demi-human race, and it was quite true there existed humans who persecuted them. And in truth, none of the human employees were drawing any closer.
But the elf salesperson…
“No, as you’d expect, those sorts of people are in small numbers in Beim. It’s just, I wonder what’s up with today. Um… it sure is a busy day.”
The surrounding employees did appear to be avoiding Novem’s group.
With a wry smile across his her face, the salesperson immediately attempted to change the topic. So Novem asked for some undergarments for May.
“Do you have any undergarments you think will suit this girl?”
Hearing that, with a smile…
“Leave it to me. I’ll have them chosen out in a jiffy. What price range would you be looking in?”
She answered Novem with quite a delighted tone…
Within the Jewel.
I had learned the 【Warp】 Skill from the Seventh.
“T-this is… a bit terrible.”
Gasping for breath, I looked back at the distance I had moved.
A Skill to instantly move a distance of a few meters. That was 【Warp】.
It was the Seventh’s second stage, and like 【Box】, a Skill that restrained the workings of space.
But it had its fill of problems.
First of all, the maximum distance it could move things was a few meters at present.
Second, even with my Mana, that was not possible consecutively.
Third, in complex terrain or locations, it would be exceedingly difficult to use it at a moment’s notice.
Looking over me, the Seventh looked quite happy.
『Oh don’t worry. Get the knack for it, and the distance’ll grow some. And understanding the terrain is easy enough if you leave it to the Second’s Skill.』
He was all smiles as he called it easy enough, but it was hard even with the Second’s. If I put some time into it, I do feel it’ll eventually grow easy.
But with the few meters it gave, it would be faster just to walk.
“For some reason, I’m getting the feeling my Mana will be left in the red if I use it just once or twice a day, though?”
When I said that, the Seventh nodded.
『You’ve got me there. It really does scrape you down to the bones. And you have the First’s Skill, so that one’s constantly saving Mana into itself. On top of that, Monica shares your Mana stream… you sure have it rough. But with this one, you can easily breach the most secure of fortresses, you know?』
At present, the First Generation’s final stage【Full Burst】 was always storing up Mana for its next use.
And to maintain Monica, a line constantly sent Mana from me to her. Meaning even if I did absolutely nothing, I was in a state where I’d be losing Mana.
By the way, The Jewel absorbed up my Mana in quite a similar fashion.
“There are quite a few restraints, but now I can use Magic normally. I think I’ll be fine standing on a normal battlefield.”
When I said that, the Seventh made an earnest face.
『And trump cards are things to be saved up to the end. Even if you can only use them once. If you learn to use this one, you’ll go up a few levels in ability.』
It really could become a trump card, but on top of the fatigue I felt after using it, there was the massive Mana consumption, and the minimal distance gained.
I learned it well and fine, but it will be quite hard to use in a real battle.
Among the Skills recorded in the Jewel, the Seventh’s were- like the Third’s- quite difficult to use.
Within the Jewel. In the Seventh’s room of memories, I wiped off my sweat, and looked around.
Of the Ancestors’ memories, his era was the one closest to mine, and quite a few of his scenes were ones I had seen before.
And out of all of them, for some reason, it wasn’t in the mansion, but outside old Zell’s house that I was receiving training.
Even when he lived on the premise in order to manage the vast expanses of land owned by the estate, I still find it a wonder why he never got a room in the house.
“Seventh, why didn’t you lend out one of the mansion’s room to Zell?”
There, he scratched his face with the tip of his finger.
『… He wanted a place he could relax. Even if it was just an illusion, if we didn’t have a place we could take a breather, we’d never have made it. At times, I’d come here for a good drink with Zell too.』
So he did something like that? I looked at the small house.
The scene changed, and my surroundings turned to night. In the small house, the Seventh and old Zell were emptying their glasses. Zell’s wife finished cooking, and brought over some more ale.
『He raced across the battlefield, and worked for my sake. Back when I had just took over, he was the man who moved as my retainer.』
Listening to the Seventh’s nostalgia, I remembered Celes’ words. And she seemed to know it was because of Zell I was able to inherit the Jewel.
『He served his duty up to the very end, and yet my own granddaughter… let’s end it here, Lyle.』
The Seventh’s despondent words moved me back to the conference room with the round table at its center.
As it was a vacation day, I woke up a little later than usual. I stretched, got off of the bed, and opened up the room’s window.
The world outside was a major metropolis, and fitting to its scale, the people were already moving about with quite some vigor.
“Now then, let’s get all the necessary things together today.”
I had confirmed what would be needed with the Guild, and asked how long it would be expected to take.
It seems they would at least prepare carts for transport, and consumables to an extent. We had to assemble our equipment, and whatever other items we thought would be necessary.
“I distributed the required funds, so all that’s left is my own equipment.”
I turned my eyes to my equipment lying in the room. Scabbards attached to a belt, with sabres filling their holes.
The two sabres were the spares I had prepared before coming to Beim. I did circle around the shops dealing in weapons, but none of their merchandise settled quite right with me.
A few fine ones around, but those had a fine price tag stuck onto them.
In that case, I would probably end up buying one of the mass produced ones, but if it came down to that, the ones I already owned would work well enough, so there wasn’t a need to buy any.
Up to now, they’ve held up one way or another, so I’d been postponing replacing out my gear.
A knock sounded.
“Monica? You can come in.”
I confirmed who was at the door with the 【Search】 Skill, and approved their entry. It was still locked, but Monica quite naturally entered as if there was nothing on it at all.
“Hmm, to possess a perverse nature so great you can sense I, Monica, no matter how separated we may be… I cannot help but find myself surprised every time. At this rate, perhaps I should just offer up my body and heart to you. Oh right, I’ve already done that, my dear.”
I let the latter half of that slide, and spoke to her.
“We’re going shopping today. At the very least, we have to be prepared for a week or two. There are cases where they take units of months, so we’ll have to be considerably prepared. I’ll make an ingredient and consumable list, so let’s go ask everyone what they’ll need.”
It’s at times like these that Beim is convenient.
A large stream of merchandise flowed through it, and you could assemble goods before you know it.
“… Please care about me more. You’ve gotten some more women lately, so you’re dealing with me less and less. It’s terrible. You won’t even feed the fish you’ve already reeled in, oh god damn master of mine!? But I’ll still serve such a hopeless man. I mean, that’s me… that’s Monica!”
She shook up her twin tails, and began a play all by herself. I left her aside, and got my clothing in order.
Fourth Generation Head (-@∀@): “… In the end, it is the smaller chest that reigns supreme. Flat is JUSTICE! Our differences with the plot faction are irreconcilable.”
(TL: Yes, there is literally just a random ancestor comment at the bottom of the page. Check the raws if you will.)