After requesting Fidel to negotiate at the merchant conference, I moved through Beim alongside Aria.
She looked like she wanted to say something, but for now, she held it in.
Touching my right hand to my ear, I used Skills to search around the area.
The Skills… Dimension and Real Spec… they gave me info of the people moving around the giant metropolis of Beim.
To process the intense load of information, I relied on Monica staying at the inn.
Monica, who moved by my energy, was generally connected to me through a line.
It was like I was constantly using Connection with her.
As I swiftly walked alongside Aria, I whispered.
“Monica, how is it?
After a little while, a response came. It meant Monica had computed out the designated individual.
『Time-wise, she should be returning home from the Guild. And right on time, the target is leaving the East Branch. Enemies showing strange movements around her… number eight. They’re movements are in accordance with our information, and I therefore conclude them to be Sweepers.』
So eight existences showing different movements.
While skillfully blending in with the crowds, it seems they were aiming for the target Marianne-san’s life.
Aria spoke beside me.
“Marianne-san will be alright, right? Not sure I should say it after we used her, but if she’s killed, it’ll be harder to sleep at night. That person’s…”
I didn’t need to be told that. While a receptionist, she was a person who’d push herself to save the adventurers on the very bottom.
In the past, the one she liked was an adventurer, and he lost his life, or so I heard. Perhaps that had become a trauma, as when we took Erhart’s party hostage, she assisted us.
“I know. I had Monica call out to our other comrades as well. Relief will come at once. We just need to buy time for that.”
I led Aria into a shortcut to Marianne-san’s location… a back alley. Unlike the main road, there were few passersby.
I drove her against the wall, and kissed her. Pushing my hands to the wall around her, I made it so she couldn’t run, and stuck in the tongue.
For the surprisingly innocent Aria, it took quite some time to explain these circumstances. Without such time to spare, I forced a kiss, and parted my mouth.
My Skill… Connection… formed a line between us.
Aria wiped her mouth as she spoke.
“… Say something before you do it.”
“There’s no time. I’m using the Skill, but don’t peer in too deeply. It’s hard for even Novem and Miranda. Make sure you just pick out the minimum necessary information you can. We’re going.”
The Jewel began letting off a faint Light.
Activating the Fourth’s Skill… Speed… we raced down the alley. I felt it was raising our speed more than it had been before, but I wasn’t sure if that was due to my Growth, or because I had gotten more Skillful at using it.
But without the time to think over that, I headed for Marianne-san’s location.
On the map floating within my head, her movements had undergone a change.
It seems Aria had noticed it as well.
“Why is she heading for an unpopular spot of her own accord? That’s definitely a tad strange.”
I spoke to Aria.
“They probably looked into it beforehand. It’s easy to block off a road, right? Just sticking up a danger poster can easily lead someone on.”
I ran and hurried alongside her. There, from a shop in the alley, an adventurer with a black sword over his back emerged with his comrades.
… Miranda ran across a roof of Beim.
Eva was accompanying as well, but the one running at the lead was Monica.
It was the time for Beim to be dyed in the twilight, and a period where it would start getting darker all at once.
Lyle had informed them of Marianne’s crisis, and to come to her rescue, they had left Valkyries to guard Clara and Shannon at the inn, and rushed out.
As she ran across the roof, Eva.
“We’re definitely getting a complaint about this later!”
The roof was in horrid condition, and as the three ran across it, a portion fell through. Miranda leapt across the gap to the next building as she spoke to Eva.
“We didn’t see anything. And it was going to collapse eventually.”
Eva also jumped the gap, and chased Monica.
Running at the Lead, Monica made a sudden change of direction.
“The target isn’t passing through the expected point. I’ll predict her new route. Please follow close.”
While she was wearing a frilly maid uniform that looked hard to move in, Monica’s movements were extremely nimble. Having experienced a number of Growths, Miranda and Eva had to put all their might to following her.
What’s more, it didn’t seem she was giving it her all.
To take the girls to the scene, she was likely regulating her speed.
“She changed her path? You sure it wasn’t changed for her?”
“That may be the case. Beim is practically the backyard of those Sweepers.”
Miranda thought a troublesome existence had begun to move.
(The adventurer killers, eh? It’s quite certain they’ll be Skillholders. Good grief, what do they mean to accomplish by killing a receptionist colleague?)
Disposing of intolerable adventurers was their role, and Miranda had heard rumor that they were usually working normally within the Guild.
It could be the case a target adventurer would happen upon a face they had become acquainted with, and they couldn’t fight back too strongly against a receptionist. It was thought they made use of that mentality, and now that they’d made a move, Miranda thought it was the perfect opportunity to confirm it.
Eva sounded worried.
“We’ll make it, won’t we? And even if we do, With Lyle, Aria and us, we have five. That isn’t enough to have our foes retreat, is it?”
The three leapt onto a slightly higher building, and from there, onto a lower one.
“The way things are going, the Chicken Dickwad wil be the first one on the scene. If they did have the mind to run, then that’s the point they’d do it. Well, if we fought, I can’t think we’d lose.”
Dealing with everything apart from Lyle with relative level-headedness, Monica disinterestedly answered Eva’s questions…
… Marianne had found a board propped up, notifying her of a closed road on her usual path home, so she took a bit of a detour.
The sign politely outlined which roads to take to get around construction, even having an orderly map written on it. Having never used those streets since she was born in Beim, she felt it a bit of a curiousity.
Her work at the guild ended, so she changed her clothes in the dressing room, and left through the Guild’s back door as she always did.
There were times when she’d be accompanied on her way, but this time, the other girls had been called out by her superior, so she left before them.
She carried a bag, and tilted her head as she passed through the dim streets.
“Did I take a wrong turn? But there weren’t any forks on the way here.”
She was sure she had walked as the map had detailed, but she was at a dead end. A place where the narrow gaps between the lines of buildings were the only way ahead.
But for an end of a road, it was strangely wide.
Turning to retrace her steps, she found a white-masked black-clothed woman standing behind her.
Marianne took a step back from surprise, and looked up. The design differed a bit, but a black-clothed figure group wearing uniform white masks were peering in from the tops of the buildings.
Marianne was a receptionist of the Guild.
She had turned ear to a number of rumors, and she had heard the rumors of the Sweepers. As a deterrent to adventurers, mixing their rumors with a slab of truth and leaking them was the way of the Guild.
And seeing their outfits, Marianne understood they were sweepers. She dropped her bag, and hung her head.
“… I don’t think we’ve met, or so I’d like to say.”
With Erhart taken hostage, Marianne had handed Lyle’s party the info on the adventurer who would be attacking them. That was a clear act of betrayal against the Guild. She did it knowing full well.
Perhaps she wouldn’t be found out, it’s not like she had harbored such naïve thoughts. And it seems her foe was a proficient one.
Marianne looked at the Sweeper before her eyes. From the eye-holes of the white mask, a pair of red eyes looked back. Marianne instantly understood who she was.
With that body build, and atmosphere, and those red eyes.
“… Right, it was you. I always had that feeling. There were plenty of things that couldn’t be explained away just by you being our boss’s favorite.”
The white-masked Sweeper took a knife in hand, and let out her voice. It was definitely Tahnia… Tanya’s voice, Marianne thought. As she was wearing a mask, she heard a different voice than usual, but she knew it was still Tanya’s.
“It’s unfortunate, Marianne. I didn’t hate you at all. But a betrayal against the Guild… this matter cannot be overlooked.”
The other Sweepers around were probably from the other branches. They were watching to make sure Tahnia properly did her job.
“… Was that signboard your work?”
Thinking of how the Sweepers had drafted up that signboard to lure her here, Marianne found it a little amusing. Seeing Marianne smiling a little, Tahnia nodded.
“It will be that you were raped here. We’ve already prepared a culprit. One adventurer violent by nature will be a scapegoat.”
As if to embrace herself, Marianne grasped her own arms, and managed to keep her shaking body on her feet.
“… I see. Then be quick with it. End it before I show an embarrassing side from fear.”
Running away from the Sweepers was impossible for her. So she closed her eyes, and waited for the moment of Tahnia’s blade ending her life.
“What are you doing!?”
A rough voice called out, and when she opened her eyes, she saw the form of Erhart cutting at the Sweeper. Behind him, his comrades came with weapons in hand, passing by Erhart and Tahnia to surround Marianne. At the backs of the adventurers she’d once looked after, Marianne cried out.
“What are you doing!? Run away! These people are…!
There, Erhart was kicked to the side, but he caught Tahnia’s next attack with his large black sword, and relied on brute force to send her into the air.
Tahnia agilely spun, and touched her feet to the wall. And as if that wall were the ground, she stood up on it. On that scene of her ignoring the laws of gravity, Erhart seemed perplexed. But he spoke to Marianne.
“I know. They’re Sweepers, right? And what of it? We haven’t given you our thanks yet.”
Marianne, hearing those words, imagined that Lyle had surely told him something.
“… So you heard? But even so, you’re mistaken. There’s no way a normal adventurer could oppose the Guild and win.”
And it was at the moment Tahnia started to move.
Rushing it at an amazing speed, a red-haired woman held up her spear, and thrust at the empty wall behind Marianne.
It was Aria. Aria leapt forward, and stuck her spear through that empty space. There, in what was nothing, one black-garbed man appeared, scattering blood into his surroundings.
In his hand was a knife, and he had been on the verge of killing Marianne.
In that space surrounded by buildings, an individual leisurely walked in. He was a youth of blue hair, the talk of Beim… he was Lyle…
About Marianne-san’s rescue, it looks like we made it in time.
An invisible enemy detected through the Second’s Skill was sewed into the wall by Aria’s spear. Pulling a sword from her hip, Aria remained wary of the Sweepers standing sideways on the wall.
I had a guess as to who it was.
“Tanya-san, that’s quite the dangerous attire you’re wearing there. But a Skill to stand on walls? That looks surprisingly convenient.”
There, without giving a reply, Tanya-san leaned down on the wall to cut at me. But a Sweeper fell down from above.
While those around were surprised, me and Aria were not.
“How about you worry more about why they didn’t haven’t come down yet?”
Battle had started above, and I could hear the clatter of breaking roofs alongside the sound of strife.
The fallen Sweeper had an arrow stuck through his head. Eva had taken him out. At times, the buildings gave a terrible sway, and scattered loads of sand and dust, with fragments falling around.
Because Monica was lowering her hammer.
Seeing the situation, Tanya-san began to retreat. She ran straight across the wall, and ran right away. Within that, I gave an order to Monica.
“Monica, overlook the Sweeper who just ran away. She’s of the East Branch. That will make them twice as sure.”
There, continuing her battle, Monica replied.
『Understood. By the way, I’ve kinda been stabbed by a poisoned knife here, but won’t you ask if I’m alright?』
“… Poison doesn’t even work on you.”
『Hmm, you’re getting to understand how it works. Well, whether you worry or retort, whatever you do, I’ll be delighted.』
I understood that what worked best on that triumphant attitude of hers was ignoring her. Above, Miranda captured two in her sticky threads, before using her wire to take their heads.
They all possessed troublesome Skills, it seems, but while Monica had taken the enemy’s attacks, Miranda and Eva reduced their numbers, apparently.
Aria let out a sigh.
“Lyle, to an outsider, it would look like you’re just talking to yourself.”
My mind had been taken by the situation upstairs, and looked around, I gave a bitter smile. Looked at from the side, I was definitely talking to myself.
Giving a reason for Erhart’s dubious expression.
Marianne-san sat on the spot.
“… I’m the worst. Dragging them all into it.”
She glared at me. I could understand why. When she wanted to protect Erhart’s party, the conclusion speaks that I dragged them in past the point of no return.
Erhart sheathed away his black sword, and spoke to Marianne.
“That’s wrong. I said it. That I wanted to save you. I… no, we… haven’t said thank you yet. We didn’t know the sorts of dangerous things you were doing to save us. So…”
With those words, everyone began thanking her, but Marianne-san shook her head to the side.
“… I don’t need your thanks. I only did it out of self-satisfaction. So you were all fine as you were.”
Sitting, and cradling her knees. I looked up at the sky. I couldn’t hear any sounds anymore, so it seems the battle was over.
And on the spot, Erhart spoke.
“Marianne-san, I… loved you. You thoughtfully and carefully taught so much to idiots like us. You encouraged us. So I…”
Marianne-san stood, and directed a smile to Erhart. But it was a little sorrowful, and she shook her head once more.
“Thank you. I’m glad you all grew up so splendidly. But. I’ve already decided. I won’t let myself love an adventurer. So you should find someone new.”
Perhaps her conclusion from loving an adventurer and losing him was that she couldn’t love an adventurer at all.
His comrades moved to tears, Erhart wept as he laughed.
“… I see. Then there’s no helping it. There’s no helping it, right!”
Seeing the scene from within the Jewel, Milleia-san sounded delighted.
『Oh my, they sure are living out their youth there. A pure relationship you won’t get from Lyle.』
The main reason I’ve become like this is due to the ancestors in the Jewel… and it’s mainly your fault, I thought, as I rolled the Jewel with my fingertip.
As Aria came to my side, I nodded and spoke.
“Let’s collect the Sweeper masks. We can use them to call out the Guild.”
Aria looked at me and sighed.
“You really are… I’m starting to feel sorry for the Guild that made an enemy out of you.”
As Erhart was experiencing youth, we got our hands on a card to challenge the Guild to some dark and muddy negotiations.