Besides its main building, the estate had a large storehouse on its premises.
In its basement was a connecting passageway, and an underground facility with some traces of something having been researched there. There was even something like an underground dungeon.
In such a place, Damien was frolicking about.
“Nice! Very nice! This simply feels like the perfect place to do some research! I can leave my large-scale Porter in the storehouse, and use this space to bring about the woman of my ideals!”
With skin glossier than usual, Damien’s eyes were glittering as he delighted and spun in the basement research facility.
The three maids, upon hearing that, immediately went into…
“… Oh my, there’s dust in a place like this.”
One traced the top of the furniture with her fingertip, and sent some fleeting glances at Monica. Hearing that, Monica shook up her twin tails, and refuted.
“We’ve only just returned! This place was a low priority, so I put off its cleaning to the end! If you guys want to live here, you should at least help out!”
Damien used a finger to push up his glasses and reset their position. It seems his spinning had caused them to misalign.
“You can use this place however you see fit as long as you don’t get in the way of my work. Now then, I do want to bring my equipment in, but with a facility like this, there’s likely a separate entrance for large cargo. It isn’t a bad idea to snoop around a bit. Ah, right.”
Saying that, Damien told maid No. 3 to, ‘bring it out.’ And from the gap between her skirt and her apron, No. 3 produced a cylindrical object.
When she opened the lid, I heard a popping sound. After she took out its contents, and spread it out on the table, I saw it was something of a blueprint.
I looked into it.
“What are the the blueprints for?”
Damien looked at Monica, who was being stared down by No. 1 and 2.
“It’s that girl’s request. In exchange for handing over extra option slots, she gave me a request for a golem. What’s more a type that uses an automaton’s core. Those cores are the only thing I can’t seem to replicate, but if it’s just making a golem out of it, we should be able to produce a golem with a sort of sentience.”
I turned to Monica
“So this is what you were talking about before?”
She raised up her twin tails, and touched her left hand to her hip, spreading her legs a bit apart to settle into a pose.
“You can praise me if you want. No, praise me, dammit. I prepared all this for you, Chicken Dickwad.”
“It’ll still need quite a bit of experimentation. I’ll have to prepare a prototype as well. The theory is solid, I’m able to make that prototype, but… I don’t have any materials to work with, do I.”
It seems he was lacking in funds, so he couldn’t make it.
I looked at the humanoid golem of the blueprints. Its form was that of a woman in armor. The design was quite different than the golems Damien made use of.
“You took quite some inspiration from the female form… how much would one of these cost?”
There, Damien looked up at the ceiling, and muttered to himself, before…
“With the equipment in order, two thousand gold. With that, I can make a prototype, repeat some experiments… for the first one to be perfected, it’ll take around three thousand, perhaps? But after that, I should be able to mass produce them for five hundred gold per.”
I ended up doing a spit take.
“We don’t have that sort of money. And wait, considering the amount of cores we have…”
Damien spoke with a smile.
“It’s best you resolve yourself to spend several tens of thousands of gold. Well, there are other problems as well.”
When I asked, Damien…
“Processing the metal is a problem, but more than that, it’ll need to make use of a large quantity of Rare Metal. After making one right by the blueprints, I’ll have to verify it works without problem, and modify… we’ll also need merchants capable of working Rare Metal, and making requests to such people will also cost money. At the very least, it’ll run for the aforementioned sum.”
Regardless, it would cost money. Meaning I should think of the sum he presented was an absolute minimum. The chances it would cost more than that were quite high.
Damien was still smiling.
“But isn’t it fine? There are plenty of skilled craftsmen here, apparently. If I had to say the most pressing problem, it would be money, and securing those capable personnel.”
“And that’s the hard part.”
Even now, I felt I would crumble at the knees.
(Several hundreds of thousands of gold… something of that scale is impossible for me alone.)
If you were to think of an adventurer’s means of earning money, taking requests from the guild was the best way.
When I brought my feet to the guild for the first time in a while, I found the adventurers’ and receptionists’ eyes gather on me as I came through the door.
As I was walking through the city, I felt such stares as well.
But within this building, it was even greater.
I walked up into a receptions line, when a receptionist called out to me.
It was Tanya-san.
“Lyle-kun, a moment of your time please.”
She got me out of the line by pulling me by the arm, ascended the stairs, and led me all the way up to the third floor. The second floor was usually used for meetings, but I had never even stepped into the floor above it before.
Having been brought to such a place, I looked at the adventurer leaving the room.
Messy and curling long black hair, and a tall stature. The woman looked at me, and grinned.
“Oh, so you were called here too, boy. I thought you had more prospects than Creit and Albano, but that sure was fast.”
Tanya addressed the woman… Marina-san.
“So you’re taking a subjugation quest this time as well?”
“I’ve no interest in anything else. I want an opponent that puts up more of a fight, but… boy, from what I’ve heard, you’re quite strong, right? That small girl flashing her navel was more my type, but I’m starting to get interested.”
Saying that, Marina took a step closer to me. I immediately bent the upper half of my body back, and reached for my weapon.
I didn’t pull it because Tanya-san had entered into the space between us. Pure, untainted thirst for blood… feeling that, I broke into a cold sweat.
“You’re playing around too much. Personal quarrels within the guild are forbidden.”
Marina-san put her hand to her lips, and smiled.
“Don’t make such a scary face. But fighting you isn’t bad either… now then, I’ll be going off to complete my request. See you later, boy.”
She took her leave, and I sent a glance to the back of her black coat.
In the Jewel. The Fifth evaluated her as follows.
『You find them here and there. Those beast-like folks. Call them battle maniacs if you will, but anyways, they’re strong, and out of the norm.』
The Seventh didn’t like dealing with them.
『Strong by nature. Different than those around you. Not anything like martial arts, the type that has feral strength. I wasn’t too good with them.』
The Fourth, interestedly.
『… That girl’s the same as the First. Simply strong, that sort of thing? No reason to it, but anyways, a strong person. From the eyes of one who’s spent their life polishing their strength, they’re a troublesome type.』
The Third spoke a bit thoughtfully.
『I’d have wanted something like that. Well, that kind’s irrelevant to money or loyalty, to they’re hard to deal with. Anyways, Lyle.』
Hearing that, I turned back to Tanya-san
She had walked ahead, and was beckoning to me in front of a certain room.
“Lyle-kun, this way.”
As I headed for the room, she went inside. I followed behind to find quite a calm space.
A table was placed in its center, and the chairs were extravagant. Even drinks were prepared.
“What room is this?”
When I looked around the room and said that, Tanya-san…
“A room that deals with a portion of adventurers. Adventurers with stories they wouldn’t want others to hear, and adventurers with competence are directed to this desk. Of the ones you’re acquainted with at the East Branch… Besides Marina-san, there’s also Alette-san.”
According to her words, a portion of adventurers…
Adventurers whose abilities were recognized could take care of their receptions here. Not only in simple strength, unless one cleared some conditions set by the guild, they wouldn’t be able to come here.
“… So I’ve been recognized by the Guild, you say?”
“Rather than that, they had no choice but to recognize you. That sort of thing. Zayin and Lorphys, and Selva. It seems a number of monikers for you are circling around. The one we’ve heard most of… Holy Knight, was it? A named adventurer… a number of people come here to raise their names. To avoid any unnecessary trouble, the need has arisen for us to prepare private rooms to deal with them.”
From the Jewel, the Third sounded satisfied with that explanation.
『I see. At the first floor’s desk, there’s a chance someone will eavesdrop. It’s a countermeasure for that.』
Making a bit of a worn-out expression, Tanya-san spoke to me.
“But a majority of adventurers will never set foot in here. Even if they’re competent, most parties will still take on requests on the first floor.”
That one made the Fourth satisfied.
『Meaning it’s a measure to keep watch of the ones that stand out. People that require special attention. Isn’t that nice, Lyle?』
(It’s not nice at all!)
Tanya-san sat across from me, and took out some documents. She had a number of requests prepared.
Looking at them, their monetary sums were different from what I’d seen up to now.
“I get the feeling these are different from the ones I often see on the first floor,.”
I turned my eyes from the documents back to Tanya-san. She smiled, and tilted her head a bit.
“Because we’d like competent adventurers to fulfill request befitting their competence. The monetary rewards are only set to match that.”
Meaning they were of high difficulty, and most adventurers would be hard pressed to finish them. Those sorts of requests gathered here. Looking through their contents, there were even some for Gryphon subjugation, and Dragon subjugation.
What’s more, it wasn’t just around Beim.
“You can dispatch further than the countries around Beim?”
“That’s how it is. The guilds servicing the area often find themselves unable to cope when unexpected monsters come out. They seek assistance from other guilds. But It’s not as if there are always enough skilled adventurers on hand. Beim had its fair share of those adventurers, so they send those requests to us.”
I put my hand to my chin, and looked over the forms. All of them offered between several tens of gold, to several hundreds.
“Even if we complete these ones, Labyrinth Subjugation requests…”
“Will still circulate to you preferentially. But it’s less dangerous than passing through a difficult Labyrinth, so more adventurers prefer accomplishing these.”
If it was several hundred gold, it’s true that choosing this route provided more of a stable income. Without knowing what sort of Labyrinth it was, and what enemies you could find in an unknown Labyrinth.
Rather than challenging something like that, the enemies you’d fight were clearer, making it safer to prepare for.
But the heads of history showed disapproval.
『That one, with the travel distance, and the time it takes, it’s efficiency is terrible. Dragon slaying in the far north? The travel will take two weeks by boat one way? It’ll be a month before you return. Even if they give you eight hundred gold for it…』
The Third held the same opinion.
『And considering the equipment you’ll need, the profits are less than half that, aren’t they? It doesn’t really matter, but doing nothing but these to earn money is a bit… it’s not nearly enough.』
Dragon slaying. The opponent was a dragon, a subspecies, at least.
A nostalgic opponent. I mean, the flightless 【Land Dragon】 with its large forelimbs was an enemy I’d fought in the First’s room of memories.
If it was a dragon capable of flight, the reward would probably go up in the thousands range.
Tanya-san looked at me.
“Land Dragon subjugation, I see. Interested? It’s taken a stay in the forests, and it is an individual that has repelled the knight brigades sent after it. If you beat it, you’ll be able to raise your name.”
Looking at the papers…
“It does interest me. It’s a monster I’ve fought once before.”
There, Tanya-san made a curious expression.
“Would that be before you became an adventurer? Land Dragons are a subspecies of dragon, and by no means an easy enemy to take down… they’ve brought countless adventurers and knights who came under that impression to an early grave.”
I looked over the document, and smile.
“Our ancestor took one down alone. Well, it’s a nostalgic foe, so I was only curious. I am right in need of money.”
When I complained, Tanya-san spoke to me.
“Money, is it… it’s possible you could solve that problem at once. Of course, only if you complete that request, that is.”
I was curious, so I looked at Tanya-san.
“What do you mean?”
“It seems you’ve forgotten. What this city has been named. While this is the city of adventurers, it is also the city of merchants, Lyle-kun.”
Hearing that, the Fourth…
『Hmhmm… you say they’ll support an adventurer? There are times the feudal lords of Bahnseim will hire them, but the merchants should be hiring bodyguards or specialists. According to this receptionist, it sounds as if they’ll provide a considerable sum.』
There, the Fifth spoke, as if just recalling.
『We’re next to the sea, and if there are plenty of merchants with ships, there should be a considerable amount of merchants who can set up large enterprises. If there’s no feudal lord, they’re deciding the tax amongst themselves. Well, it’s a different place from Bahnseim.』
The Seventh spoke delightedly.
『Now then, I’m sure they’ve piled some up. For the sake of continental peace, how about we put a bit of their funds to good use?』
The Third got everyone’s opinions together.
『Yes, let’s go get a prior investment. I had completely forgotten we were in foreign lands. Right… if we haven’t got any money, we need only take it from someone who does!』
(What’s this feeling? I get the feeling these people are even darker than usual.)
Tanya-san looked at my troubled face in wonder.
“What’s wrong, Lyle-kun?”
“Eh, um… Tanya-san, could you go into that in a bit more detail?”
… Shannon looked at the blueprints in Monica had brought out.
To be more specific, she was looking at the paper that gave off a bit of a strange reaction. The ink had been injected with just a bit of Mana, so Shannon could see its lines as well.
And what those lines showed were ambiguous to her.
Looking at the sheet over the table. Besides Shannon, Clara and May were there as well.
It was a strange grouping, but the others had gone out shopping, and they wouldn’t be back for a while.
Monica ignored the three of them, and went into cleaning the room.
Clara gripped her glasses steady as she looked at the prints.
“Why is it woman-shaped? If they wanted to make it look strong, then armored golems like the ones Professor Damien uses would be best.”
May spoke uninterestedly.
“Humans are always doing incomprehensible things. Isn’t this just one of them? Or maybe it’s Damien’s or Lyle’s fetish?”
Munching on the sweets in her hand, May looked at the blueprints. She dropping crumbs around, and Monica approached to clean the area around her.
“Please don’t spill. And don’t dirty the blueprints… well, I’ve copied them out, so I guess there isn’t a problem.”
Hearing about copying, Clara twitched in response. But she returned her eyes to the prints.
Shannon spoke to Monica.
“Hey, why is it shaped like a woman?”
There, Monica spoke as if it were natural.
“It will use the cores of my sisters. Of course it will take on a woman’s form. The equipment is needlessly extravagant, but it’s supposed to look like a dress. There’s no helping if it costs some money.”
Clara spoke levelly.
“Eh? Wouldn’t it be fine if you cut down those costs?”
“Women cost money. That much can be left to the Chicken Dickwad’s hard work. Well, to explain a bit more, the dress-type armor has a purpose of its own. Explaining the mechanics behind it is a pain… yep, as I thought, a woman has to dress her best! Let’s just leave it at that.”
Shannon put her thoughts to mouth.
“How strange. And how many sisters do you have, anyways?”
“’Many’, is the only way I can answer that. If you want to speak in production numbers… probably a few hundred thousand? If you want to narrow down to my production line, then a few thousand? These are all the cores I have on hand, though.”
Monica held up a cube on the palm of her hand. That small cube was made of a number of smaller ones stacked together.
(It’s somewhat strange. And scary.)
Shannon wasn’t able to understand it, but shaking her head, she turned back to the glowing lines on the blueprints…