The Trēs Trading Company
… She saw the ocean.
Slowly sinking down into the deep and dark depths of the waters, she saw the lights grow further and further away.
Glittering small and red lights drifted through the sea in masses, but there were no signs of any lifeforms around.
And after she reached the bottom, the small light began to gather into her.
They leisurely took their time, and once those lights began to fade out as well, she found herself resurfacing.
A voice called out to her.
『Your role has ended, …』
A shadow against the light of the sun called out in a feminine voice. She got the feeling the figure had called out a name, but she couldn’t catch it.
And she found herself saying something.
There, the shadow extended a hand. The arm she extended herself to take it, was horribly sullied. Beaten up, and having come up from the sea, her arm was covered in variants of water plants, and shells; even coral had stuck to her.
Her heart started beating faster. She looked into the water’s face to find the image of a monster reflected back.
And her conversation partner smiled.
『Good work, …』
After her forgotten name was called out again, her arm crumbled, her body fell apart, and she sunk to the ocean’s depths once more. Breaking up into small pieces, her unsightly form joined the ocean’s floor…
… When she opened her eyes, it was still dark outside.
Outside the window, she saw some lights here and there across the town.
The girl with her breathing in a mess moved her head, and extended a hand to the pocket watch on her bedside table. When she took the golden clock in hand, she opened its lid to check the time.
Once open, the lid emitted its own light, letting her read the face.
She raised the upper half of her body, and got her chaotic breath in order before brushing away the hair stuck to her face from her sweat.
“Hah, hah… it’s four. Going to sleep now won’t end too well.”
Touching her left hand to her forehead, 【Vera Trēs】 looked over the room. It wasn’t the room on the boat she was used to, but her own room in her mansion.
It was clean, but it was furnished as if no one was actually living in it.
After rising, she pinched her sleeping wear. She had sweat quite severely.
“It’s happening a lot lately. I used to get them once a year, or never.”
That nightmare was one Vera had seen a number of times. Every time, she would wake up in shock.
(I wonder when the first was.)
Shaking her head to the side, she stripped off her pyjamas, and headed to her room’s bathroom in her undergarments to take a shower.
Her black hair was grown out in the area she tied into angel wings, and that part reached up to her lower back. But the rest of it was barely long enough to touch her shoulders. Her well-shaped body held splendid curves.
Even with a body like that, the girl had her own things to complain about. Among them, her greatest complaint was her reserved chest that set her apart from her younger sister.
(Hah, if they were a bit bigger, would people look at me too…)
She looked into the bathroom mirror to find her own violet eyes looking back. She traced her pale skin with a finger.
Even after spending a majority of her year on the high seas, her skin showed no signs of tanning. Other people had told her she was different from others a number of times.
But she wasn’t treated any worse.
More than that, the sailors even called her a goddess of fortune. Because no matter how much danger struck, as long as she was on board,- strange as it was- the boat would never sink.
On the oceans inhabited by dangerous monsters, they wouldn’t attack when she was there. The individual herself thought it as nothing but a coincidence, but others didn’t see it as such.
And at this point, she had received a precious boat from her father, and was working for the sake of her family… Vera Trēs was a prominent merchant girl, even in Beim…
“I’ll have to go shopping today. We’re setting sail next week… it seems we have some valuable cargo this time around, and they told us to take it across no matter what.”
Muttering that, she took off her undergarments, and got into the shower…
Having dropped by Rauno-san’s office with Miranda, I accepted the report, and read the name aloud.
I had gotten some fame, and a name like Holy Knight to myself, but in exchange, I went through a drastic drop in capital.
Even so, I had received my money’s worth, and my treatment from the Guild had changed. But it still was troublesome not to have any money. It would put quite a restriction on are actions henceforth.
Of course, we weren’t troubled with living expenses, but as I was in a position where I needed a national-level budget, I had no choice but to seek out support.
And I had requested the investigation on that matter to Rauno-san.
Miranda silently scanned through other documents.
Rauno-san scratched his head with a sleepy expression as he explained it to me.
“The ones who can answer to your hopes are probably the Trēs House. They don’t currently have any adventurers they’re backing, but as merchants of Beim… well, they’re one of the merchants controlling this city. They mainly profit off of trade.”
A large trading enterprise that owned a number of large-scale transport ships, and quite famous in Beim.
If there was anything strange about them, perhaps it was that they hadn’t exclusively contracted any adventurers, while being merchants of the city of Beim, perhaps?
At that scale, it wouldn’t be strange if they were backing a number of promising parties. Yet the Trēs House wasn’t doing anything like that.
“They’re working quite extensively, but that isn’t the only problem. When you send out a ship, you see. With storms and accidents, and monster attacks, it isn’t rare for it to sink. But the Trēs House had a high success rate. If you compare it to others, it’s a considerable gap. So they have that credibility to them, and a wide relation with other mercantile houses. That’s why they’re one of the prominent merchants of Beim. To such an extent there isn’t a fool who’ll lay hands on them.”
I looked at the documents.
I was trying to find a merchant who would sponsor us, but while the Trēs House was on the top of the list, they were the party with which we would have the lowest chances of success. Or so was written on the report.
“You don’t think they feel like backing me?”
Rauno-san smiled as he rested his arms on top of his sofa.
“Harsh as it may sound, at your level or reputation, even if you make a market for yourselves, I don’t know if they’ll even take you seriously. To the Trēs Trading Company, countries like Zayin and Lorphys are small fries in the realm of trading partners. Even if you offer them a monopoly an those nations, I can’t say for sure they’ll make a move.”
From the Jewel, the Fourth sounded conflicted.
『Doing something like that would be troubling. Monopolies have their share of merits, but they have plenty of demerits as well… even to, I underestimated Beim. As expected, we can’t let our guards down around merchants.』
The Seventh was considering the other reports as well, but…
『The best choice is still the Trēs House. The others will want Lyle’s fame, so they’ll be relatively easy to nab, but this one won’t get much merit from taking Lyle under their wing. No, there’s even a chance they’ll clash with other merchants.』
Zayin and Lorphys were dealing with non-Trēs merchants.
Pushing those houses aside, and even conflicting with those that set Zayin and Lorphys as their main bases of operation… I highly doubt the Trēs House would be interested.
And at present, they were conducting large transactions between other countries. They were a mercantile house that didn’t need my fame or connections.
“… The money and terms of the other places are all much the same. One thousand gold a year is it? Work requests are a separate sum.”
“If they’re going to contract a famous party, there are surely merchants who would put out double. But if it’s an adventurer party they’re going to be using regularly, they’ll settle for a lesser sum, I’m sure. And it’s all as long as they get you to themselves, is the condition. What’s more, this is an estimate, you hear. Play it poorly, and you’ll be on even worse terms.”
With my reputations, it seems this was around the limit.
(As Tanya-san said, rather than rather than my merits as a mercenary, they may be evaluating based on my stand-alone prowess.)
If they’re going to use them as bodyguards, even if they weren’t too smart, strong people were best.
Warriors over tacticians.
That’s why Tanya-san told me to call out to the merchants after slaying a dragon or two.
Finished reading through the papers, Miranda turned her field of vision to me.
“Anyways, if we want to have a chance, it’ll be with that Vera girl, you say? Lyle, think you can get her to fall?”
As she asked that quite naturally, I pointed both my palms at her, and shook my head.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. Fall? Would a cliff be involve? Even like this, I still have quite a resistance when it comes to hitting or cutting at girls, you know.”
Rauno-san looked at Miranda.
“If you want a chance, it’ll be with the girl, is what I’m saying. It’s unbelievably low. Of all else, I haven’t heard any talks of her being a flippant one. And at present, the time she spends aloft is longer than her time on land. I asked the sailors, but apparently, she’s a goddess of fortune, and not a target of romantic affection.”
Hearing about goddesses of fortune, I tilted my head.
“Goddess of Fortune?”
Rauno said, ‘it’s just a rumor, you know,’ asnd said it was an unreliable tidbit of info.
“No matter how difficult the voyage, if Vera is aboard, it will succeed… it isn’t just the sailors that believe that. The people of the Trēs house do too. That’s why Vera’s a goddess of fortune.”
I looked at the documents, as I put my hand to my chin, and pondered over it.
(If we want money, this is the best place… with other merchant houses, they’ll have relations with other adventurers or mercenaries. That’s not bad, but I don’t like how it feels they’re going to restrict our movements.)
As I thought, Miranda looked at my face, as she giggled to herself.
“Come to think of it, you’ll need a sea route to go north, right? How about hopping aboard one of the Trēs House’s state of the art ships? It’ll shorten the way there and back.”
Rauno-san as well.
“Come to think of it, it’s just come in to the port. A large scale model with quite some speed to it. I heard it was Vera’s personal one, but there’s no doubt about it.”
The state of the art ship the Trēs house didn’t want to sink at all costs, was naturally given to Vera-san.
“Well, putting seducing the lass aside, you’ll at least have a chance to talk and see if you can get some support.”
There, the Fourth let out an interested voice.
『Come to think of it, I’ve never tested the effectiveness of my Skill on a ship. It does work on smaller boats, mind you.』
『Ah, that sounds nice. If he can raise the speed of ships, then Lyle’s got something to offer to the Trēs House.』
The one to oppose those two opinions was the Fifth.
『He may crash something, and there’ll be disputes, so you’d best stop it there. Though there shouldn’t be any problems if it’s just to test it out. Still, Trēs and a goddess… a coincidence? Sure doesn’t feel like it.』
I thought over the Fifth’s words, as I got all the papers together, and handed them to Miranda. She used a finger to trace Vera’s name on the front binding.
“How interesting. Last time Novem denied Princess Annerinne, but I wonder how it’ll turn out this time around.”
Hearing that, Rauno-san covered his mouth.
“That rumor was true? What’s more, Damien of Arumsaas has holed himself up in your mansion… what are you doing this time?”
I stood, and addressed him.
“I’ll leave the payment with Innis. And I’m not doing anything too big this time around. I’m just going off to complete a request.”
I said that with a smile, but it doesn’t look like he believed it.
“I do think dragon slaying is important. But here we have a guy who ran from knighthood… well, if it’s nothing, then so be it. And just hand the reward to me. With Innis, it immediately disappears into rent and living expenses, and I only get chicken feed over here.”
Miranda laughed at his words.
“Don’t want to. I want to stay on good terms with Innis. And you should at least pay rent and living costs.”
Rauno gave an unmotivated response of, ‘It’s a pain. And it works out one way or another, even if we default,’ as he lay down on the sofa.
(When he’s so unsteady in life, why is his work so thorough?)
I became a bit interested in the man known as Rauno.
… Novem brought her feet to the Trēs Trading Company.
She carried a letter of introduction from the guild, and dropped by with Clara to ask if they’d let the party board their ship.
They were let into a back room of the firm, and the man in charge came out to give them his greetings. The man in his thirties wore a stylish suit, and had a soft demeanor.
He sat on a sofa, opposite with a low coffee table between them. Clara put the offered drink to her mouth, and it didn’t seem she would participate in the conversation.
Novem told the man their business.
“We have heard there is a boat bound north. That it’s movement speed is a cut across the rest. Would it be possible for you to take us on board?”
There, the man in charge replied.
“I have read over the Guild’s letter of introduction. I never thought the Holy Knight of rumor’s party would make such a request of us. But it isn’t a passenger ship. It has the necessary facilities, but we can’t just have you hitch a ride and leave, can we? I do think it would be safest if you rode a ship provided by the Guild.”
The region the Land Dragon subjugation had come up in would take much too long to reach on land. They would need to cross a mountain range, and while it wasn’t impossible, a land route wasn’t much of an option.
And a guild ship would also take too long. That was on top of the dangers of it sinking.
(… To be honest, it would be possible for us to get there by ourselves.)
Novem spoke with a smile.
“We are not requesting a free ride. Our objective is to shorten our travel period. We will be able to pay money to compensate.”
There, the man pretended to think hard on it…
“Unfortunately, even if you offer money, I think it’ll be difficult. It’s our state-of-the-art large-scale vessel after all. Some parts of its craft have been kept to absolute secrecy. If you insist so heavily, could you board a different ship? It’ll be one of our own ships, and with the guild’s high recommendation, we won’t mind you riding free of charge.”
From the smiling man, they could feel a considerably strong intent to refuse. At that moment, a knocking sound rung through the room.
The man made a troubled expression and apologized, before standing, and heading for the door.
“What is it? When we’re dealing with guests…”
The man’s voice outside was barely audible.
“… No, wasn’t this matter my jurisdiction…”
It seems they were arguing outside the room.
Clara emptied her tea, and looked at the door.
“It sounds difficult. As expected, they don’t want us to approach their goddess of fortune? Well, there are those sorts of rumors about Lyle-san.”
After hearing the rumors about Lyle, no parent in their right mind would ever let their precious daughter aboard the same vessel. That’s why Novem and Clara were the ones who had come to negotiate.
It had ended in failure. That’s what Novem thought, but…
“… No, there’s something strange.”
She could hear some flustered voices on the other side of the door.
“… At a time like this? B-but still, we could find adventurers to take up guard duty anywhere… understood. I’ll try asking. Tell the boss that as well.”
The door opened, and the man entered. He looked a little more impatient than before, but his smile hadn’t crumbled.
And the man…
“I apologize for before. And our circumstances have changed. If you will accept a request of ours, we shall accept the previous matter. Of course, we will also pay a considerable reward for it.”
Seeing the man’s change in attitude, Novem smiled.
“Could you go into the details?”
And said that…