After passing through Lorphys, and returning to Zayin, it ended up that a party was to be held to commemorate our victory.
Celebrating a joint victory against Selva with Lorphys. Besides that, it was a party to celebrate the completion of the goals all that paperwork hell had been directed at.
In the temple’s plaza, a large number of participants indulged in the buffet-style arrangements, as music streamed into the space.
But I was…
“Oh Holy Knight, is it really true you relinquished your captain position?”
“The new captain Noy-dono… will he truly be reliable?”
“Holy knight, which one are you really gunning for? Is it Aura-sama, or Thelma-sama? Personally, I’d like to support Thelma-sama here.”
…I was meeting a barrage of question.
I smiled as I offered some harmless, and politically correct statements, looked at the people gathering around me, and sighed.
But I could put up with it.
From the Jewel, the Seventh offered some advice.
『Lyle, don’t let your guard down. Your opponents may use this moment to see through your character. A lot of them are just asking useless things out of self-interest, but there are some useful ones among them.』
When I turned an eye around, I saw Miranda and Aria being called out to by some young men.
They seemed to be merchants. Other than that, the knights were striking up conversation with Clara, Shannon, and May.
Monica was quietly standing diagonally behind me, and it was as if no one else could actually see her. If she could do something like that, I’d like her to use it more often.
But looking closely, no one tried to talk to Novem or Eva.
Eva was an elf, and as a demi-human, she received some discrimination. I had to push through saying she was my comrade, to even let her be invited through the door.
But the one that intrigued me was Novem.
(I was sure someone would call over to her.)
And as I thought that, I cut my conversations short, separated from the people around me, and walked over to Novem.
Putting the glass in my hand to my lips, I held its liquid in my mouth a bit to moisten my dry throat. From the continued conversation, I had grown tired of making a smile.
“Novem, Eva are you having any fun?”
When I sent such a voice, the two standing around the plaza’s pillars looked at me. They were wearing dresses they’d picked out, and the impression the two of them gave off was quite different than usual.
Eva showed me the plate she was carrying.
“The food is good, but I’m not really sure? The stuff Monica makes had more variation.”
It was a hurriedly thrown together party after reclaiming the country. There’s no helping if they were lacking in preparation.
Monica spoke to Eva.
“I usually put in all my cooking skill to make it so that damn Chicken Dickwad’s body grows as to not be able to live without me. But if you want to praise me, I’ll happily accept.”
Hiding her mouth with her right hand, Monica laughed.
Eva sighed, and placed her plate on top of a nearby table.
“You’re the same as always. Even so, I’m surprised you got so many people to come. Besides temple residents, it looks like knights, and merchants, perhaps? There are a few others, though.”
Novem carried a glass filled with some drink as she explained to Eva.
“They are envoys from other lands. Also officials of the Guild, and what looks like the adventurers who came along as their guards. They’ve been staring at you, Lyle-sama, for quite some time now.”
I did feel their fleeting glances, so I decided to head over. If they were Guild officials, then I should at least meet, and give my greetings.
And there were a large number of people aiming to strike up conversation with me here.
Even if I spoke among my comrades, it wouldn’t really lead to anything.
The Third spoke.
『I’ve only experienced this sort of party a few times, so I don’t really know, but is Lyle popular?』
The Seventh explained to him.
『He’s the centerpiece, I’m sure. I’m not even sure the Holy Maiden who reclaimed Zayin, or the former Holy Maiden or High Priest could amount to him at the moment.』
The Fifth sounded bored.
『Well, as long as you listen to nothing but his achievements, he’s a hero. In truth, the rumors that he retook Zayin with just a hundred must have spread by now… there are plenty of folks who’ll be curious.』
Foreign envoys, the knights, and the Guild. Then the merchants…
(Hah, I wonder if anyone will be willing to finance me.)
I thought that was a bit too much to ask for, but I wanted to deal with our money problems promptly. I was able to sell my name quite well this time.
But at the same time, I empties my wallet. I have to do something, and earn some money.
(And earning it up steadily is… ah, come to think of it, once we return, we’ll only be able to take up dispatch requests for a while, so the profits won’t be too great.)
The completion fee.
We decided not to accept it this time. Because both Zayin and Lorphys were barely scraping by.
No, Lorphys may have been down on their luck, but Zayin had only gone through a bit of internal dissention. But right after that, it sent soldiers to assist Lorphys, and it didn’t get any major profit from that.
Soliciting money from them like that made me feel quite reluctant.
And it would be troublesome if they went into economic strife.
(I really must do something.)
I thought, as I greeting the Guild officials with a smile.
…Having come to Beim, Damien stood before the rumored haunted mansion.
He had searched out the mansion Lyle had purchased, taking along a conspicuous gathering as he came right up to the front door.
Behind him, three maids of the same exact appearance and outfit followed.
In contrast, it felt as if Alette’s two subordinate knights were the ones out of place.
A gathering of rubberneckers had gathered at the peculiar sight.
While Damien and the maids stood out, what stood out more was the large golem standing behind.
No, rather than a golem, it was a modified Porter variant.
Able to be laden with large loads of cargo, the large Porter rolled along behind them. It was even bigger than the Porter Lyle had completed. But its main motorized portion was smaller.
The box it pulled behind was the majority of it.
It was furnished with a number of wheels, and the curious residents of Beim pointed at it, and spoke amongst themselves.
“My, my, there’s a perfect building for it over there. It looks like a storehouse. What say we take it for ourselves?”
The short Damien held a large metallic staff in his right hand, and he used his left to correct his slipping glasses, as he looked out at the large storehouse in the yard, and declared.
“As expected of our master. That was a statement without the slightest thought given to the other party. But that’s exactly what makes him our master!”
“Well, we can negotiate with that piece of scrap metal who calls herself a Special Model, and snatch it later. If that doesn’t work, we need only beat the living daylights out of her with our coordinated plays.”
“My skills are thirsting for battle!”
To those three maids, Damien turned.
“Why fight? We’ll ‘borrow’ his storehouse, and if we say we’re using it to make the golem he requested, he’ll surely permit it, right? Don’t do unnecessary things.”
The maids hung their heads.
Alette’s subordinate knights were about to call out to console them, but…
“He scolded us. Meaning we are no longer trivial existences in our master’s eyes!”
“It’s yet another step forwards!”
“At this rate, we’re getting closer and closer to making it so his body can’t live without us.”
As Damien waited at the door, a group of two appeared.
They wore robes, and one of their builds could be made out as a warrior’s. He stood in front as if to protect the smaller girl, and the maids stood lined before Damien.
Taking off her hood, the girl showed her long wavy light-blue hair, as she greeted Damien’s party.
“Good day. And pardon my rudeness, but I am not wrong in assuming this is the mansion of Lyle Walt, am I?”
When the other party threw out Lyle’s name, Damien had the maids step down.
“Oh, Lyle’s guests? I’m also a guest… no, I’ll be living here, so perhaps a comrade in arms? Anyways, something like that. So what is your business? If it’s not urgent, then hand off the right of way. I myself am quite busy.”
Perhaps irritated by Damien’s attitude, the man standing beside the girl… besides Adele addressed Damien.
“Aren’t you being a bit rude? I don’t know who you might be, but we have also come on urgent business. We shant hand it off so easily.”
There, Damien looked over the man… Maksim from his head to his toes.
“You sure are prepared. Could it be you’re testing your skill? I heard it on the way, but Lyle sure has become famous. I believe it was… what was it again?”
As Damien turned to one of the maids, he had forgotten Lyle’s moniker. To the man who’d immediately forget whatever he wasn’t interested in, Maid No. 2…
“Holy Knight, master.”
“Right, that one! Since he got that title, did you come to test your skill on him? Or would it be… related to his little sister?”
When Damien said that, Maksim removed the cloth from the spear in his hands, and took a stance. When he uncovered his well-crafted armament, Adele had him step down.
The maids had lined up in front of Damien again, each with a different weapon in their hands.
“Maksim, stop it! That person isn’t related!”
The girl had a wary Maksim retire, before apologizing to Damien.
“I give my deepest apologies. For one of my… r-retainers to do something so rude.”
Maksim didn’t look satisfied, but Damien looked at Adele, put his hand to his chin, and nodded.
“Oh? You’re certain I’m not a follower of little sister?”
“… Her followers have a different atmosphere about them. And did you not purposely provoke us?”
On Adele’s words, Damien looked at Maksim.
“No, I really wondered whether you’d catch that. You did look quite tense. Even so, it’s the little sister again… Celes, was it?”
Damien had seen through their tension. And when he voiced Celes’ name, the two of them blatantly put up their guard.
So he sent a smile at them.
“My, what a coincidence. I also came to Lyle to solve my Celes problems. Though in my case, I came to run away from her.”
Adele calmed Maksim down.
“I’m sure. I’ve heard not a single soul can stand before her without becoming her slave. A majority of them become quite fanatic about it. They wouldn’t take on an attitude like yours.”
At that point, the door of the mansion opened, and a blond-haired girl in maid garments came out.
Looking at the faces gathered outside, she showed blatant displeasure on her face.
“You’ve got some nerve to be fighting in front of someone’s house. This is why you mass-produced machines are no good.”
Behind her, Lyle came out in casual clothing.
Seeing Damien, he seemed quite surprised.
Damien raised his hand.
“Yo, Lyle. The truth is, I ran the hell away. That automaton over there gave a request, so could you lend your yard’s warehouse to me? I’ve got nowhere else to live.”
He sent a smile at Lyle.
And Adele and Maksim seemed quite tense as they looked at him.
As all eyes gathered on Lyle, he spoke.
“I just got back, so can’t I have a single moment of peace… anyways, come in. I’ll listen to what you have to say. And wait, what’s that large object behind you?”
When Lyle sent his field of vision behind them, Damien…
“A large-scale Porter. It’s quite useful for moving cargo. Of course, it took quite some money to make, and it’s impossible for a normal human to move it. Now then, let’s get right into unpacking it.”
As Damien began moving moving to his own beat, Lyle opened his mouth.
“Yes, that’s fine, but the talks come first. I’ll lend you the storehouse, alright!?”
And said that…
The day right after I returned to the mansion.
Damien dropped by my mansion.
I asked about it in the receptions room, and it seems Celes was planning to pay a visit to Arumsaas, so he had come to Beim in order to flee.
And I looked at the girl sitting beside him. A man of large build was standing behind, as if to protect her.
Monica was facing the three maid units, her eyes letting off a red light.
(I can ignore those ones.)
I thought, as I heard out the girl who named herself as Adele.
“So what business does one of Bahnseim’s Belgi House have with me?”
When I first heard her speak, I thought she was a follower of Celes, but it seems that was wrong.
And when I asked for the finer details, she looked straight at me as she spoke.
“Dalien, Arumsaas, Centralle, and Beim… I’ve heard many a rumor about you. Lyle Walt-dono, I would like to ask but one question to you, what sort of existence is Celes Walt.”
I put my hand to the Jewel out of reflex.
There, the Seventh let his voice.
『Hmm, a small seed sown in Dalien, is it? It’s come all the way here to bud?』
The Fifth as well.
『And it’s budding in a nice direction. It doesn’t look like she’s deceiving us, but…』
I confirmed with the Skills, but Adelle and Maksim were in a yellow close to red. Meaning they were quite lost.
I met her gaze.
“I think of her as an enemy to defeat.”
There, Adele’s and Maksim’s indicators solidified at yellow. The Sixth’s Search Skill really was convenient.
And looking relieved, Adele put her business to words.
“Lyle-dono, won’t you take in this Adele Belgi as one of your comrades?”
I looked between her and Maksim.
And they both nodded.
“Protecting Lady Adele is my duty as a knight. If it is to serve milady, I shall follow your orders as well.”
When I returned my eyes to Adele…
“… My home, the Belgi house turned strange after coming into contact with Celes Walt. They jumped up to join the civil war, and are repeating a pointless stream of battles. It felt as if they were watching a long dream. Before meeting her, my parents were supposed to be in opposition to it all.”
I recalled the words the First had said.
(Monster… Celes, you are…)
Adele looked down, and shook her head, before raising her face again.
“I fled from my house because I judged it dangerous to meet with Celes. And while I was travelling, I caught rumor of you. Of the actions in various lands, of the one driven from his home.”
I suddenly felt embarrassed.
(… So she’s heard quite a bit.)
There, the Fourth.
『Lyle, you don’t have to be embarrassed. The reason you did it was in hopes that a time like this would come.』
In my mind.
(… Even if you tell me that, Fourth…)
I couldn’t quite accept it.
Adelle continued on.
“A Gryphon slain in Centralle; you fought Celes there as well. And after that, to here… you’ve flowed all the way to Beim. It wasn’t to escape, was it?”
As she stared at me with serious eyes, I nodded. She had come all this way in search of me. I should deal with her seriously.
“I determined I couldn’t win as I was. That’s why I came here to build up power. If you wish to judge it for good or bad, I’m sure it’s for the worse. But I do intend to win.”
There, Adele stood, and gave an orderly bow.
“It wasn’t thoughtless. That much is enough to put me at ease. Use me, Adele Belgi, however you see fit. Though all I can really do is paperwork.”
And Maksim got on one knee before me.
“If Adele-sama is to serve you, then you are also my lord. My life is yours to use.”
From the Jewel, the Seventh let his voice. A loud voice at that.
『Paperwork? Paperwork!? Domestic affairs… Belgi! The Belgi House, is it!? I’ve got it. The Belgi House specialized in domestic affairs! Lyle, you’re dealing with famed feudal lords of Bahnseim! That’s a house that’s put out a number of prime ministers! … Though they didn’t do anything too notable in my time.』
He sounded a little uneasy at the end, but I decided to take the two of them in.
“Understood. I will gladly accept your cooperation.”
And Damien raised his face from his tea.
“… That sounds interesting. Then I’ll join in too.”
When I voiced my surprise, he tilted his head.
“Why so surprised?”
“No, I mean…”
“If it’s you, then I’m sure it’ll work out some way or another, and if it doesn’t, I’ll just head for the hills again. And you don’t plan on fighting Celes individually, correct? When I heard the rumors, I got this gut feeling you were going to do something big.”
I thought he didn’t say anything he didn’t have interest in, and it seems he had put quite some thought into it. But the next words settled it.
“And if I ride the winning horse, I get the feeling you’ll kindly provide me with a lab, and research grants.”
I made a bitter smile.
Maksim cleared his throats, and asked me.
“Anyways. What exactly should we be doing?”
I averted my eyes a bit from everyone gathered…
“… Earning money.”
And muttered that.
Adele made a dubious smile.
“Y-yes… realistically speaking, we will need money as well.”
She followed through for me. But Maksim looked fed-up, and Damien quite disappointed. It looks like he really planned to embezzle research funds out of me.