(TL: As for the name of this site…
Godwin: Rebranding is where you take a property the general public are bored to death of seeing, change it slightly, and promote it as something completely different.
Jack: That sounds both insulting, and manipulative.
Godwin: I like to call it good marketing.
Jack: Well now I think it sounds great. )
The Leader’s Job
Adventuring companions. The leader heading a party generally had a lot of worries.
When the scale grew large enough, perhaps you could hire people to manage in your place, but you couldn’t really leave your money to people you couldn’t trust.
In my own room, I looked over the consumables list Monica had requested from our members, and began to write a list of things we had to buy.
“Um~, we can get these as a party, so the remaining problem is Aria after all. That’s definitely something she needs to get herself. And wait, she’s the only one who’ll be using it, isn’t she?”
Her equipment replacement included, Aria was flat broke. I knew she liked circling around the food stalls, but that was still within my tolerance level.
But I have to manage it before she begins earning debt from out other companions, and bringing about a bad influence to the party.
Not just myself, as the leader, I have to look after my party members as well. Meaning, I had no free time.
“Tomorrow is shopping with Miranda, next is Clara, and Aria is…”
On top of interacting with all my companions…
Watching over me was a woman gripping her twin tails with both hands. I ignored Monica as she made a bored expression.
She was by my side helping in various things, but whenever she grew bored, she would start making some nerve-wracking gestures. At present, she was sitting facing away, quietly singing a sorrowful song to attract my attention.
“… Monica, if we assemble all of these, then how will we be budget-wise?”
When I called out to her, she stood and abruptly raised both her hands.
“Over budget. To be more specific, it’ll be around ten gold over! As of yet, it’s unknown what sort of earnings we can expect in the Labyrinth, so if you increase the budget any higher, you’d best be prepared to go into the red! But, with a certain chicken dickwad’s savings taken into consideration, it’s a trifling sum.”
Even if we were accepting requests, it’s not like as long as I could mobilize our forces, then any job would be fine. It was the leader’s job to stay in the black.
“I’m more than resolved to face a deficit, but going onto those funds is a bit…”
For the task before us, no amount of money would ever be enough, and I thought it terrible if I didn’t get a grip on the matter. Some advice came from the Jewel.
It was one with strong relation to monetary matters, the Fourth.
『You seem to be troubled it, but Lyle… you know, it’s not like you have to be at full force at all times.』
When I touched the Jewel, he offered an explanation.
『I’m saying you don’t always have to make use of all your numbers. Send a moderate force to the Labyrinth, and let two or three sit this one out. It’s your holiday, and you don’t really have to challenge it in the first place. Based on how things play out, just take two or three along. At the moment, you have assembled personnel capable of such a feat.』
While we were low in numbers, my party’s specialty was the high competence of each of its members.
『Marching forth with everyone aboard is overkill. Do some moderate rotations, and preserve your war potential for the future. And that’ll also decrease the consumption of consumables.』
But wouldn’t it be best to let everyone build up experience equally? I had such a worry, but its true we wouldn’t be able to move without money.
(There’s the matter of Novem and Miranda, and rotating to try out a variety of formations may prove beneficial. And wait, besides those two, are there any that don’t get along?)
Thinking it wasn’t a bad idea to use this chance to find out, and with this being my first Labyrinth Subjugation mission in Beim, I felt there was a need for some extensive trial and error.
I sent Monica a glance.
“How’s the mini Porter for Clara’s personal use coming along? Feel it’ll be done soon?”
Monica pointed both palms upwards, and shrugged her shoulders.
“I couldn’t borrow a workshop, so it really will be a simple thing. Just a box with legs and wheels. A handcart or perhaps a rickshaw. I have one unit completed.”
We received some details on the Labyrinth, and it seems it wasn’t spacious enough to fit Porter. Even if we forced it through, it would not be able to descend stairs.
And it wouldn’t make the turns on the path, or so Monica calculated.
(It we’ll be fighting in a narrow space, smaller numbers really will be the safer option.)
Originally, I planned to split the party in half, and have us move separately, but it was dangerous to leave Shannon at the Base alone.
“… Monica, tell everyone we’ll be challenging the Labyrinth on rotation. I’ll draw up the plans on my side…”
When I said that, the Fifth gave some advice from the Jewel.
『… Get all their opinions together. And don’t finalize it alone. You can reuse some tools each round, so gather up all the necessary items, and tell everyone today. Have a meeting. Otherwise it will be a pain later.』
I had the Seventh’s 【Box】, so it was possible to preserve perishables. The reason my party could travel with so little luggage was due to that oh-so-convenient Skill of the Seventh.
When I shook my head, Monica waited for my next words.
“… Never mind that. Let’s buy all the necessary items today. But we’ll discuss the matter of rotations with everyone. Can you tell everyone to gather in the evening?”
“Quite a wise choice for a chicken. Well, there are some of them who’ve gone out, so perhaps informing everyone will prove impossible.”
When I thought of who may be out, Miranda’s face was the first to come to mind. The runner ups: Novem, Eva and May.
May was taking in the sights of the city, and Novem was accompanying her as something of a legal guardian.
(Clara will be holed up reading since she’s bought a book, Aria doesn’t get up in the mornings, Shannon’s location… well, that one really depends on Miranda.)
“Just tell them once they’ve returned. I’m sure they’ll be back by night, so… actually, could you go out and tell them? We can go shopping once you get back.”
When I said that, her face reddened.
“I-it’s not like I wanted to go out with you or anything, okay!? I’ll convey the message as fast I can, but don’t misunderstand it! It’s not because I want to go shopping with you as soon as possible, okay!?”
She said something along those lines.
(Why does she act like that every single time?)
“Then I can go alone and…”
As I was about to say it, Monica’s face turned serious.
“That was a lie. I’m ridiculously happy. If you don’t take me along, I’ll nag you to death about it later. It will surely be annoying, so I highly recommend you take me along for your own sake. Just take me dammit, I beg of you. I’ve been looking forward to it for a hell of a long time.”
“No… you’re already being plenty annoying as it is…”
And the Sixth offered some advice.
『Lyle, don’t forget to give your greetings to the other important members of this subjugation mission.』
(Ah, there was that too.)
A few days later.
I took care of my comrades’ preparations, and when I had the time to enjoy my day off, I walked to an place I didn’t usually go with some bottles of wine in one hand.
I got the narrow eyed man to introduce me to the one leading this Labyrinth Subjugation, 【Alette Baillet】.
Of course, he wasn’t a direct acquaintance, but I asked if he could use some connections to make our meeting a possibility.
If the woman in question didn’t want to meet, then it’s natural I wouldn’t be able to offer my greetings. But with me having been recognized by the guild in such a short timeframe, it seemed she was mildly interested.
She approved a meeting, and so I got to bring my feet to her door.
(She should have just refused.)
The reason I thought that, was because she had just returned from completing a request. As the party’s leader, she had personally gone out to complete it, and after just returning, she’d have to exchange pleasantries with me.
I really don’t know about inviting in guests when if she wanted to take it easy a while.
At the same time, my schedule was also barely able to fit it in.
I told my members about rotating in the Labyrinth, and received their approval, but in that case, what were we to do about the reward? The formation? Breaks? Various problems began to surface, and tuning based on everyone’s input was a trial.
(I’m glad I listened to what the Fifth had to say.)
As I was thinking that, I arrived at the building I was looking for.
The area was lined with manors, and other buildings that looked like inns. And It was an area a large number of adventurers lived.
Rather than staying in an inn, or renting an apartment, the ones living in places like this must be on the successful side of the spectrum.
A small fraction lived ridiculously extravagant lives, but it wasn’t too rare for a large party to rent out a building either.
“This is the place.”
I approached the door, and was about to knock it, when the slider covering the wide peephole in the door suddenly slid open.
From it, the two eyes inspecting were like the eyes of a beast that had found its prey. Those violet eyes looked a little scary.
They’d likely sensed my approach, and sought to deal with me preemptively. But I didn’t really enjoy this way of being dealt with.
(I should have prepared my heart a bit more.)
Is what I thought, but the door opened before my mouth could.
While the events had left me in shock, the one to come out the woman with blond bob-cut hair that fell just short of reaching her shoulders. Her age looked to be just around the range you could include in the twenties, or higher, or not.
And walking out, she expanded her arms…
“Welcome, pretty boy! And jump into my arms if you will! Ah, while you’re at it, could you sign these forms? Me and my assets: a limited time offer! Oh, even if you call me a noble, I’m but a fourth daughter. However, you’ll never be bothered with making ends meet, I assure you! What’s more, I’ve not even been used ye…”
I won’t let you escape! She said, as she sent me a wink. While she did have some charm to her, she was a person that gave off a bit of an unfortunate impression, and she was desperately clenching the papers in her hand with the word marriage written over the top.
From within, her comrades were holding her back.
“Captain Alette! I beg of you, please don’t go outside! We’ll take care of this, so don’t show yourself in public anymore! Even I’m beginning to feel embarrassed here!”
“Stop it, won’t you? Don’t get in the way of my happy marriage! Even like this, I still search for my prince on a white horse. I’m a pure maiden inside! By the way, outside, I’m also a pure mai…”
“Yes, enough of that! Even if you’re a maiden inside, your outside’s just barely still of marriageable age! Just get back inside already… and wait, who the hell was it!? Who let the captain out of her room!”
The woman being pulled back by a number of men let off a refreshing smile.
“Ain’t no one in this world who can bind me. But if you’re going to use the ball and chains of a ring, I highly welcome it.”
Her comrades spoke to me.
“… Normally, she’s a splendid captain. I assure you.”
I dropped the three wine bottles I had brought along as a gift onto the ground, and covered my face with both hands.
“A woman I don’t even know is breaking my heart.”
From the Jewel, the Third let out an uninterested voice.
『Hmm, our mr. lyle must surpass that one day. Look up to the pros; our mr. lyle must always be aiming for the top.』
『Even the Walt House’s Wonder Child would be hard pressed to surpass that one through ordinary means.』
These guys are enjoying it… this is the worst.
My instincts understood.
That this person was yet another victim of after-Growth syndrome.
Her comrades frantically surrounded her, and dragged her into the building. I heard they were knights from some land, but there was a sense of uniformity among their garments.
The knight to come out in the captain’s place was a tired-looking one, wiping his brow and getting his hair in order as he patted down his clothing.
“P-please to meet you. You must be Lyle-dono, right?”
I decided to pretend none of that ever happened, and deal with him normally.
“Yes. The coming Labyrinth Subjugation is to be my first one, so I thought it best I gave my greetings. Ah, these are a gift.”
“… Thank you.”
I couldn’t really determine whether that sincere gratitude was directed at the wine, or at me letting the previous scene slide.
But I could definitely understand that I came at a bad time.
“Um, today, I really did just come to give a greeting, so if I may, I think I will be taking my leave.”
“Ah, of course. Uh, if possible, could you…”
I could understand what he wanted to say. So I silently nodded.
“I haven’t seen a thing. I haven’t heard a thing.”
The man to me.
“Thank you. Truly, thank you.”
And said that.
The Fourth in a subdued voice.
『So you really did just end it at getting to know each other’s faces. Even when you prepared the finest of wines.』
『Well, you got to see an embarrassing side of her, and completed your objective of getting acquainted. It wasn’t all negatives. No, more so, you may have gained something.』
The Third too.
『It was the best of times. Hey, next you meet, try asking if she always goes around carrying that document she was holding before!』
『Looks like marriageable age has extended beyond my time. And wait, a noble daughter, at that age to boot, makes me even begin to suspect defective merchandise.』
The Seventh as well.
『Luck wasn’t with her, is one thing. But she’s a holder of competency to put her up at future vice-head? Is that so… isn’t that fine, then?』
The Sixth agreed.
『Splendid. Truly wonderful. Now then, the problem is how to make use of this, but…』
They sounded to be plotting something sinister. My ancestors.
(These guys are scary.)
After having successfully (?) completed my greetings, I left the building inhabited by Alette Baillet’s party, and looked around the area as I walked.
It wasn’t rare for successful adventurers to have a stronghold in Beim. I there were adventurers that owned mansion-like complexes, there were also parties that preferred the functionality of an inn.
(It increases our expenses, so I’ll have some piece of mind if we can have a stronghold somewhere. Even if I want to have Monica make something, it would be nice to have a warehouse where we could do something about the sound.)
Our current members were comrades who had decided to follow me. Borrowing an apartment, and living there would be fine, but I’m not really sure what to think of that.
(Perhaps it would be best to make it as showy as possible. And wait, that would cost money by definition… Labyrinth missionss have a nice prospect of profit, and I’ll be able to find out just how they work this time around.)
As a leader, there was much I had to think about.
At times like this, I think it would be easier if I could just move as a single party member. And at the same time…
(That Novem… she’s been speaking up less as of late. Is she relying on me? Or perhaps…)
She used to be moving various things for my sake, but after that case with Celes, I felt a distance had been created.
I could think of it as being recognized, and my decisions trusted, but it did feel a little lonely.
(… It’s best I went and spoke with Novem about it. She does do quite a bit or my sake.)
The reason I didn’t press her too hard may have been that I didn’t want to be hated by her.
And it’s not like I was the only one stretching things out. The ancestors… especially the Third, and Fourth were particularly for it.
The other ancestors did more or less have their doubts about Novem of the Forxuz House, but they didn’t tell me to try any press her for answers.
That must be just how deeply they were intertwined with the Walt House. Even those that treated them as vassals likely never thought they would ever turn coat.
(Come to think of it, the Forxuz House sure is a strange one. The first did say they used to be neighbors or something.)
The Second, and the Third, and even the Fourth had relied on them. Enough that it’s been said it was never the throne, but to the Walt House the Forxuzes had sworn loyalty to.
(I really do have to have a proper talk with her…)
On the way home, I began to feel unwell. Is it something I shouldn’t be asking? I felt a sense of unease in my chest.