Who was Abandoned Again?
After rescuing Marianne-san, and witnessing the moment Erhart’s love came to a close, I headed for the inn.
There’s no way we would could just return Marianne-san to her house, so we led her to the inn, and would be keeping her close for a while to ensure her safety.
Leaving her guards, I returned to my own room I’d rented, took the white mask in hand, and gazed at it. It was a Sweeper mask, and it seems they had different characteristics by branch.
Preparing a drink for me in the room, Monica looked at the mask, and offered a line.
“They’ve got sense. For it to be white as snow.”
I chastised it.
“They just had to hide their faces and intimidate their enemies, right? If you saw this mask in the dark, anyone would feel fear. More importantly are you alright? What with the poison and all?”
The poisoned knife of an attacking sweeper.
Having taken it, Monica was composed. Her body and the tears on her clothes had already returned to normal, and once more I experienced first-hand she was an existence outside the norm. Since I only ever saw that unfortunate side of hers on a daily basis, I sometimes felt I would forget it, but Monica was an automaton.
“… It’s come. The Chicken Dickwad’s dere has finally come. Acting like you didn’t care at the start, when we’re alone, you show your anxiety. Ah, what a wonderful tsundere! This Monica is so happy it feels she’s going to send annotated footage to all those other scraps to brag about my triumph.”
She was the usual Monica, so I felt relieved.
“Oh, I see. So what sort of poison did he use?”
Pouring tea into a cup, Monica brought it over to me. After I took it and put it to my mouth, Monica began explaining the poison.
“It’s a quick-acting one that doesn’t leave any residue in the body, so it would be difficult to discover. On top of that, it would be difficult to identify the cause of death. I’m surprised they were able to produce something like that.”
In regards to the poison, Monica praised the Sweeper.
“So would it be dangerous if it were Miranda and Eva alone?”
“I won’t say they’d lose. But a majority would get away. They would only have been able to take out one… two at most. And there’s a possibility one of the girls would have died.”
Even having repeated so many Growths in a short period of time, there was a high probability casualties would come out. As expected, the Sweepers were a dangerous existence.
That they were aiming for Marianne-san without paying too much mind to us was a saving grace. Because we’d used that opportunity to launch a surprise attack, we were able to achieve a complete victory.
“If they had been serious and sent Sweepers from the start, it would have been dangerous. Why didn’t they send them to start with?”
If they wanted to reliably take me out, I got the feeling that way held the higher probability. If it were assassination and taking care of the body, the Sweepers should be more used to it than adventurers.
The one to answer the question was the Seventh.
『Lyle, it’s not certain the other party has many talents capable of becoming sweepers. It isn’t just ability, there’s also a need to investigate if they can make use of that individual’s personality and such. If you’re just strong, you wouldn’t be chosen as one. Understand? You’ve just crushed seven of the enemy’s hard-to-get pieces.』
On top of the small table, six white masks were stacked. One was in my hands, and of the eight attackers, only one had gotten away.
I never thought Tanya-san was a sweeper, but come to think of it, I get the feeling she was the only one whose position in the guild waved back and forth.
In hindsight, that would explain a lot.
Monica asked me.
“Chicken dickhead, in tomorrow’s merchant conference, what did you request from Fidel?”
I looked at her face.
“To have them recognize our stronghold as their next area of operations. I had him carry out the negotiations for that. Well, if he says he wants to head to that empty land, I’m sure they’d permit it. Ludmilla-san is also supporting that direction. Elza-san and Gracia-san are developing their ports on schedule… ah, right. While I’m at it. I should have the Guild dispatch some personnel. With the management of the Labyrinth there, and such, we’ll need the Guild’s knowhow from here on.”
I decided to take the Guild knowhow from Beim as well.
The next day.
Heading to Guild Headquarters, I spotted Fidel-san walking with Ludmilla-san.
Surrounded by knights, Ludmilla-san was in good humor.
Fidel-san alone made a complicated expression as he looked at me. After that, I had pleaded for Vera to explain it was a joke. And yet, he didn’t look to happy about that.
As I found myself a little unable to understand Fidel-san, the Seventh spoke.
『… I’m sure he wanted to see his grandson. Lyle, you have to clean up your own problems. Vera told Fidel it was a joke, but Aria doesn’t know that yet. You’ve mistaken your choices.』
Milleia-san’s tone was more serious than usual.
『Lyle, you’ll be paying the compensation for your failure. Learn that if you don’t extinguish the flame while it’s small, it will be hell to take care of once it blazes up… but I do want to see the blaze as well.』
That last part was the usual Milleia-san.
Ludmilla-san approached me.
“Lyle, I did as you said. So you’ll pay up my compensation for that, won’t you?”
With those eyes that saw me as a carnivorous beast saw its prey, Ludmilla-san sought out her compensation.
“Aha, ahahaha… compensation, is it? Hey, I saved you from Larc, didn’t I?”
Seeing my exchange with Ludmilla-san, Fidel-san muttered.
“As I thought, you’re an enemy. Laying hands on women besides Vera…”
As the father of his daughter, I’m sure he had much to think in regards to me. But he also had his merchant face in stock, so…
“I’ve proceeded that matter as you requested. In the talk of Guild executives that’s to come, the request for Labyrinth Subjugation will be abolished, and alongside that, the flow will go towards establishing another Guild branch of Beim. With that, I’ve fulfilled my promise.”
For the Labyrinth south of Beim, it does seem they’re just going to put it under Beim management. It was relatively easy to advance through, and it was evaluated highly as monsters you couldn’t find in Beim’s Labyrinth came out.
“But the revocation of your party’s rights as adventurers has been decided. You’re considerably hated by a portion of the merchants and Guild executives. Thinking of their future relations with Bahnseim, your banishment from Beim is certain.”
Hearing that talk, I nodded.
The Fifth let his voice from the Jewel.
『Meaning they’ll be joining hands with Celes. Now then, how will things go from here… will they become her pawns, or will they attack Bahnseim. Whatever the case, Beim is going to be destroyed once.』
Ludmilla-san looked at me with intrigue.
“You’re quite unperturbed. As if you knew it was coming. Of course, it would be troubling if you stayed with your adventurer status forever. How about it? Want to come to Cartaffs and take the throne?”
I gave a bitter smile, as I spoke to her.
“I’ll stop by in the near future. Because I have business there as well.”
And I headed towards the conference room at Guild headquarters I’d been called out to.
In that conference room with the seats lined with Guild executives, I swung around a fervent speech.
“I risked my life and fought at Fort Redant! And not that alone, to this point, I’ve made massive contributions to the Guild! What is the meaning of this exile!? And in that matter with Cartaffs, while I was away, my comrades were attacked, were they not? Was that also the Guild’s doing!?”
The seated Guild executives looked at my face in resentment. It’s true I worked hard for the sake of Beim.
But to them, I was the big bad who created such an unappealing situation, and when Marianne-san was attacked, their valuable Sweepers were defeated by me.
Their talk with the merchants was already over, so I’m sure my verdict was already set in stone. Right, the guild executives had no right to decide.
And I decided to use that fact well, to appeal just how hard I worked.
Well, to put it simply…
『You’ll cut off the hero who risked his life for you? What’s more, you attacked and tried to erase him, didn’t you? I haven’t forgotten, you know. I’ll definitely remember this! … that sort of thing.』
… The Third gave a truly delightful explanation. It wasn’t just the executives. There were guild personnel here to make records, and there were a considerable number of those concerned.
The South Branch head’s glare on me seemed as if it could kill. The West Branch’s executive’s expression was pale as he hung his head.
The North Branch’s executive was looking at the East Branch’s head and Tanya-san.
The staff led around by the other executives were likely sweepers. But I couldn’t help but feel they fell short when compared to Tanya-san.
The East Branch executive spoke to me.
“… I’m sure it happened however you imagine it did.”
Giving a statement that could be taken however anyone wanted, the East Branch executive looked at me with a serious expression.
From the guild, my… all of my party’s adventurer rights were revoked, and the Labyrinth Subjugation we were tasked with was annulled.
They planned to use that Labyrinth here on, so I was taken off of clearing it.
And I was to take a forceful departure from Beim.
“I cannot accept it. Won’t you at least explain your reasons? Oh, right… the truth is, it’s about what happened yesterday, but an acquaintance was being attacked, so I saved her, you see. A receptionist who looked after me. And while one of the attackers got away, they were wearing quite the characteristic mask.”
There, I took out the seven white masks. When I placed them on the table before me, I felt malice fill the room. It was from the Sweepers behind the executives.
The South Branch executive stood.
“Bastard! At each and every turn you… as I thought, you’re working with the East Branch! This time as well, the East Branch’s…”
When he had said that much, the North Branch executive cleared his throat.
“… If a receptionist was attacked, we cannot let this matter slide. I understand. We shall take charge of the investigation into those masks. If you’ll kindly leave them with us. But this is a decision of Beim. There is no change on the verdict handed to your party.”
The South Branch executive mumbled vexed.
“What a shameless act…”
The Seventh was glad. As I thought, his adventurer hatred was considerable.
『You lot thought you could cut us off to embrace Celes, but that is a misunderstanding. We’re the ones who cut you off, and bringing Celes to your side is a mistake. She isn’t that sort of human.』
By the words of our founder, the fairytale-esque individuals that entered the stage on the turning points of history. Pulling the blood of the Monster Agrissa, and carrying a Jewel that held her will, Celes had become the new vixen of Bahnseim, scattering death in her wake.
Beim didn’t have an accurate grasp of that.
A common tale, was the extent to which they recognized her. As she rampaged, they thought her scale would always stay as it was.
But that one wouldn’t be satisfied with something on this level. And even if I told them to understand that, it was probably impossible. Only one who’d seen her could understand. And upon seeing her, an average human would be charmed.
I received a verdict from the Guild, and left.
In the audience chamber, the royal line was lined around.
Today, Lyle and Celes’ father Maizel was absent, but the royal prince was laden with a tray of fruit he held up for Celes to eat as she sat on the throne.
Crossing her legs, the girl about to turn fifteen moved with a charm one wouldn’t think to come from such a young body, as she held a small fruit in her mouth.
The ministers lined up around, and her imperial guards were taken by her in fascination.
It was a peculiar sight.
But the greatest peculiarity was the girl curling her back under Celes’ feet. Her name was 【Remis Zayin】, a former Holy Maiden. While now, she was simply Remis, she still had the attire of a Holy Maiden clad over her body, as she acted as Celes’ footrest.
Even so, her expression was one of delight.
“Ah, Celes-sama’s body heat is spreading across my back. My goddess…”
Celes smiled at Remis.
“Oh? The Holy Maiden who was once the aspiration of all is satisfied with being my footrest? You don’t have any pride, do you.”
Remis spoke with a flushed face.
“Yes. I’m satisfied. I’m a woman worthy to be Celes-sama’s footrest!”
Driven out of Zayin, and having flowed into Bahnseim, Remis didn’t give off the feel of a prideful girl as she had before.
The one watching over such a display was the merchant who’d come from Beim.
(W-what’s this. This… no, the atmosphere is just a bit strange. I was surprised to find the former Holy Maiden of Zayin here, but… more importantly, what’s that over there?)
Near Celes, were some monsters chained and chokered. But the merchant had never seen such ominous-looking monsters before. What’s more, it looked as if Celes had domesticated them.
There, Celes noticed the merchant’s line of vision. She stuck an elbow into her armrest, and put her face on her hand. As her pretty blond hair swayed silkily, it looked to the merchant as if it were glittering in the air.
“Are you curious about them? They’re, you see… former high priest of Zayin, and his merry friends. They were carrying quite an interesting thing with them, so I asked them to experiment it on themselves. It was amazing. An experiment from long, long ago to obtain the power of monsters… they never had any success in it before, but they were hiding it, and carrying it along.”
Seeing the monster that was once human, the merchant was shocked.
“S-such a thing is possible!?”
“Well I don’t see why not. I saw them drink the vial myself. Right, Burt?”
The red-haired young man standing back by Celes’ side had blue eyes. He was wearing a tailcoat, and he spoke in a rude tone towards his master.
“The one who forced it down their throats was you. Though they looked quite delighted at the end.”
Nearby, a girl with long, black hair sat on the floor, her hair hiding away her eyes.In that state, she absentmindedly stared into space.
It was ominous. That girl looked incredibly ominous.
On the peculiar sight, the merchant was sure something was off somewhere. But the talks in Beim had already gotten together around approaching Celes.
Celes tilted her head.
“Anyways, so? What does a merchant from Beim want with me? I won’t forgive any boring requests.”
The merchant man spoke.
“Yes. Our Beim is a city of trade. We have always lived as a free city state without a presiding lord. For Bahnsim who became our neighbor, we would like to offer our greetings and good will. There isn’t a product in the world we don’t deal with. And we’d like to see Bahnseim as a regular customer. I am here for those greetings.”
Celes looked at the merchant, and grinned.
“I looked through the goods you brought. You had quite some interesting things, and there may come a time for me to make a purchase. But even so, Beim, huh… Remis, that’s where the trash who drove you out lives, right?”
Lightly raising her foot and lowering it on her, Remis felt some pain. But her expression instantly turned to drooling in joy.
“Yes! The hated enemy who drove us out. But now I don’t care about that man anymore. Because I have Celes-sama with me!”
Celes looked delighted.
“I see. You’re adorable, Remis. I’ll keep you around as my footrest for a while more.”
The merchant thought.
(So she does have something against that brother of hers? She did call him trash, after all.)
The Merchant happily informed her.
“Then please rejoice. The adventurer called Lyle, as Beim treasures its bond with you, has been set to be driven out. For Celes-sama’s sake, Beim is…”
After the merchant said that much, Celes stood, carefully stepped over Remis, moved in front of him in an instant, and kicked him off his feet.
The audience chamber… he was kicked all the way to the entrance, and the man didn’t seem to understand what had gone on.
But Celes spoke.
“You compared me… you compared me with that trash? You to put me next to him, and chose me? … I won’t forgive it. I’ll never forgive it. I declare war on Beim! I’ll pound it into the dust. Just who in the world said to compare me to that garbage? It’s unpleasant!”
Celes’ expression was loathsome. It was an expression as if she had just remembered something repulsive. Without any room for compromise, and without the slightest attempt to conceal her scorn.
(F-for her to kick the messenger… and declare war? Just where did I go wrong?)
The ministers around, and the knights raised their voices. No one went against her.
“Celes-sama, leave that duty to me!”
“No, I shall burn Beim to the ground for you!”
“Judgement on Beim that laid such a discourtesy on Celes-sama!”
And as blood spewed from the merchant’s mouth.
“… I haven’t fed you yet today, have I?”
With those words, Celes looked at her dear pets, the formerly human monsters who had yet to eat a scrap the entire day…