… The East Branch.
There, a personnel change was announced.
The Labyrinth that manifested south of Beim was designated as a managed Labyrinth. The reason being it contained some well-used materials, and despite its low difficulty level, you could find materials you couldn’t get in Beim’s managed Labyrinth.
The personnel change poster only had a single receptionist’s name written in. And it welcomed volunteers.
Seeing her own name filled in, Marianne was a little shocked.
And to her, Tanya’s voice called out from behind.
“It’s been a while, Marianne. May I have a bit of your time? … Don’t be so wary. I’ve lost the need to lay a hand on you.”
Turning around, Marianne subconsciously put herself on guard. Giving a self-deriding smile, Tanya beckoned her towards an unused conference room on the second floor.
The two entered the room to find that it hasn’t even been prepared for the early-morning newbie explanatory meeting.
Marianne-san looked at Tanya, and spoke.
“Lost the need to lay a hand, meaning…”
Before she could say it to the end, Tanya crossed her arms, and lowered herself onto a table.
“It was Lyle-kun. In yesterday’s announcement from the Guild, he brought the Sweeper masks along. Saying you were being attacked, and that he saved you. Do it again, and you’ll meet the same fate, is likely the message he wanted to get across.”
Lyle hadn’t just taken out the masks in front of the executives to rile them up. He was indicating that sending Sweepers was pointless.
And the conclusion the Guild came out with was to dispatch a receptionist to the new branch in the south. The receptionist name that rose up was Marianne.
Close to Lyle’s party, and they didn’t want to keep her anywhere near the internal workings of the Guild. But as they couldn’t dispose of her, they were sending her away.
From Marianne’s point of view, it was to save Erhart’s party. She had raised up a number of parties, but perhaps she found something lovable in them, as Erhart’s party was her favorite.
“I’m not against a move to the south. So did you have some business with me?”
Tanya nodded, and stated her business.
“The other branches don’t have the leisure to dispatch adventurers south. The sea-based North Branch has circumstances too far removed. Of the West Branch, one first-rate party was completely wiped out, while another has already been determined to transfer south. It seems the Queen of Cartaffs told them to take it up. She really has us by the throats.”
The South Branch. As it was mercenary specialized, it was unable to send adventurers. And many mercenary brigades had already left Beim.
The only one left was the East Branch that suffered little casualty.
“Erhart-kun’s party will be heading south. He’s too close to Lyle-kun to keep… I believe you’ll be the one getting the Guild together on that side.”
The Labyrinth’s scale wasn’t large. Even if it were to be managed from here, it would remain small-time, or so Tanya informed her.
“We’ll take around two more personnel from the Guild. Please hire the rest at the site. Well, in essence, it’s an exile, really. Beim has no interest in its south. For the Magic Stones and materials, it seems some merchants are migrating as well, so please go have a talk with them.”
Hearing that, Marianne questioned it a little. It was as if Beim was being divided up.
(The merchants with the Trēs House at the center. And the Guild personnel… adventurers. It’s as if he’s just cleanly picking away only what he needs… it couldn’t be!)
Marianne felt it was as if a small Beim was being born in the south.
“Tanya, could it be…”
She confirmed her own anxiety with Tanya. Tanya spoke without changing her expression.
“He got us. After investigating, it seems many craftsmen will be moving via the merchants. He’s really completed a mini-Beim for himself. Lyle-kun… I really don’t want to think this was all by his expectations.”
Marianne didn’t think Lyle had been moving about at random.
Sucking up funds from Beim, then the favorably factioned merchants and the craftsmen… and it felt as if he’s stolen the adventurers and the relevant knowhow from the Guild.
That sensation as if they were dancing on the palm of his hands made the two of them fear him…
… Rauno had come to the southern base set up for Labyrinth Subjugation.
Whenever a Labyrinth was to be cleared, everyone would set up a base outside, but it was only natural for Beim to establish it to the level of a small town.
But those organized districts held a skillfulness as if there was a plan for a town to be there from the start.
Leading small Innis along, Rauno matched her pace as they walked the streets.
“What a lonely land. If you call it a base for Labyrinth Subjugation, it should be more a place for the squalid singer, and the invitation of harlots. If it doesn’t have a crude feel to it, it’s not interesting at all.”
If you walked the town, you’d take in the smell of food from the stalls, and in the bars, the adventurers who’d pulled out of the Labyrinth made merry regardless of night or day.
Harlots would try to draw in customers, and adventurers making lewd glances at them was a standard sight. But there was none of that here. There was nothing.
Grasping Rauno’s hand, Innis spoke.
“How was your homeland?”
Rauno scratched his head with his spare right.
“… My last boss wasn’t there. Seems he retired. He wasn’t one to be loyal to her majesty, he was of the old king’s time after all. There weren’t many left who I recognized.”
Taking care of the dirty work, Rauno had pretty much been driven out of Cartaffs. And he had come to hate his job.
He had a Skill to infiltrate anywhere. So jobs unbefitting a knight were pushed on him, and he was looked down on by his surroundings.
For him to continue fulfilling his duty was only loyalty to his country. But the words the previous king had bestowed upon him…
‘The shame of Cartaffs’ Knights.’
… They were.
“It seems that Queen’s different from her straight-laced predecessor, but… I wonder.”
Innis strongly gripped his hand.
“Rauno-san, you want to go back to being a knight, don’t you?”
He gave a bitter smile.
“Does it look that way? No, if you’re the one saying it, I’m sure I do. That may be it. Maybe I want to be recognized as a knight. There was a time even I held onto immature ideals, or so I’ve come to think these days.”
Those naïve ideals were still somewhere in him, he noticed as he told it to Innis.
“Anyways, Innis… did you get the information?”
On Rauno’s serious voice, Innis nodded.
“And what was the result?”
Innis spoke in a low voice so only Rauno could hear.
“Lyle-san plans on using Beim. In the end, he will be exiled, and the world will treat it as if he lost. But the four-country alliance and Cartaffs… they have a piece in it all. They’re sure his exile was a skillful means to escape the city.”
“Escape from what? From Celes of Bahnseim?”
Innis shook her head.
“Various things. If he stayed in Beim as a hero, Lyle-san’s movements would be heavily restricted. I’m sure it will be easier for him to travel lighter from now on. It seems Lyle-san was against receiving full support from Beim. And what split Beim in two was…”
At that moment, a voice called over to the two of them.
It was Novem, doing her shopping.
“Innis-san, and Rauno-san as well. So you made it here?”
With a voice calling from behind, Rauno answered with an indifferent attitude.
“Yeah, that’s right. Because I can earn more if I stick with my valued customer over here. You’ll continue using our services, right? I want to set up an office, but would there happen to be an open space anywhere?”
The reason he had come south was to chase after Lyle. It wasn’t because he was a customer. It was because Innis had foreseen the ruin of Beim.
Novem brought her left hand to her mouth, and giggled.
“That’s a huge help. I’ll prepare one at once. If you have any specific wishes, I’ll dispatch someone to assist, so please say it at the time. Fare thee well.”
As Novem parted from the two of them, Innis gripped Rauno’s hand even stronger. Rauno looked at her, and found she was a little frightened.
“… It’s just a probability, but Novem-san was keeping an eye on us.”
Innis was wary of Novem.
“To that great an extent? She didn’t have that sort of…”
“That person will do anything if it’s for Lyle-san’s sake. That’s the sort of person she is. And I’m scared. When I look at that person, it’s as if I feel something nostalgic… I’m sorry, please pay it no mind.”
Rauno scratched his head, before leading Innis back to the inn…
… Roland entered the developing port on a Trēs House ship.
To meet the one taking command, future Grand Duke of Galleria, Leold.
Making way for Leold’s room at the most splendid building of the port, Roland took out the arbitrarily sent notification.
Since he wasn’t in public, Leold wore a casual short and trouser, as he worked through paperwork.
When Roland entered the room, some tea was prepared for a break.
Once an employee brought the tea, Leold wrapped up his work, and kept Roland company. But his bearing was rude.
Roland wondered if he was being belittled as he politely started into talks.
“I have dropped by in regards to the letter delivered to Beim. The Grand Duke Proxy stated you were the one with the right to decide, and would say no further, so I’ve directly come to pay a visit. Please tell me. Why have you one-sidedly decided to break off all dealings with the Trēs House? You haven’t forgotten how much aid we’ve given you in this endeavor, have you?”
Leold looked at Roland as he took the cup to his mouth, and sipped a bit of tea. And after parting it from his mouth, he held the cup in both hands.
“… We’re honoring the contents of the contract. The one we contracted was the settlement south of Beim, was it? With Fidel-dono there and the Trēs House he served acting as representative. We definitely did not contract the taken-over Trēs House. Which means to say, we do not recognize your claim.”
Showing a bit of fatigue, Leold’s shirt sleeves were stained with ink from all the paperwork. His hands were a little darkened as well.
There were bags under his eyes.
“Beim has officially recognized the Trēs House as having been inherited. If you don’t call this a breach of the contract, I’ve no words to return.”
Leold-kun replied nonchalantly.
“Whether Beim recognized it or not… it doesn’t really matter. The four-country alliance is formally planning to protest Beim after all. Brother-in-… I mean, Lyle-dono was handed an exile from practically nothing but false charges, causing us to doubt their credibility. And more than anything, you who exiled your relatives to take over the house lacks credibility as well.”
Roland stood from the sofa, and spoke in a face of surprise.
“Are you thinking to make an enemy of Beim? It’s true you’ve joined four hands, and I’ve heard you’ve build a cooperative relation, but even so, every year…”
“… Yes, every year, we purchased goods at Beim. Well, they were mainly weapons and the like, but Magic Stones as well. However, our situation has already changed. War is on a sharp decline. What we need isn’t tools of war, but tools to make our lives abundant. We’ll need a fixed amount of weapons, but we can produce that much ourselves. Did you know? By driving out several merchant houses, you’ve forced a number of craftsmen who’d lost their place to flow to the alliance. Lyle-dono has voiced a desire to offer them a warm welcome, and we for one will answer to our benefactor.”
Roland hung his head.
He was regretting the Trēs House’s loss of credibility at his hands. But by the time Roland had learned of Gina’s plan, it was too late to turn back.
And living while glared at by Beim’s conference of merchants, to the Beim-raised Roland, it wasn’t something he could imagine.
“… Can you give us rights to use your port?”
“I’ve no such intentions. The four country alliance shall support south of Beim. Our future dealings will be centered around there.”
Roland, in regards to those words.
“It seems you are underestimating the power of Beim. How many years do you think it will take for a small port town to develop in the south? You say you can make a living without any trade in that timeframe?”
“You’re the one making underestimations. It’s a fact that Beim is a prominent metropolis of the continent. I doubt there’s a product you can’t obtain in that city. But by looking down on its surroundings like that, it should learn how hatred builds up.”
Roland looked at Leold’s eyes, and faltered a little. He had worked a majority of his time within Beim, and he had few chances to venture out to other lands.
And the first look directed straight at him from the outside world made him swallow his breath.
Leold instantly reverted his expression, and spoke to Roland.
“Go home. We have no need to follow the decisions of Beim out here, and we don’t have such plans.”
Roland left the room, and mulled over how he would explain it at the next conference of merchants. Only on the prerequisites of handing over interest in the port, had Roland been recognized as the Trēs House’s head.
Once that was lost, he hadn’t the slightest idea what they would say.
Roland decided to swiftly return, and set up countermeasures with Gina…
… On the land that had become the front most line with Beim, Blois spat out a sigh.
What he was to pass on from Bahnseim was, no matter how you looked at it, Pandora’s Box. There was no doubt some portion of that merchant’s body was in the box, and the situation had come down to him delivering it to Beim alongside a declaration of war.
Confirming the letter in his office, he found it contained orders to prepare to invade Beim.
His adjutant knight looked at him and spoke.
“General, I can understand why you may not be on board, but we must abide royal orders.”
Before the earnest knight, Blois sat deeply into his seat, and lifted up the papers in one hand.
“It’s impossible. Impossible, I say. A Beim invasion… I don’t feel we’ll lose, but how many troops and goods do you think that would require? On top of them having built that troublesome fortress, the final objective is attacking that metropolis of Beim. You’ll need a legion of one to two hundred thousand, I tell you. Prepare all by ourselves? That isn’t happening. Now I have to go crying to someone.”
Blois couldn’t decide whether it was good or bad that the merchant of Beim hadn’t returned alive.
(Well, rather than returning with their hearts stolen, maybe it’s a better result for the poor man. Better than laying low in Beim, and betraying his friends and family, at least.)
The merchant who’s gone to see Celes, brimming with confidence, had returned in a different shape entirely. Whatever remained of his well-rounded body fit in a box he could hold in one hand.
The knight spoke in worry.
“If you ignore orders, you can’t avoid execution.”
Blois gave a sigh.
“I know that. But the practical problem here is how the area’s rule has divided people, and we’re lacking in hands. I can only explain the present situation, and seek help.”
The knight looked at Blois.
“If it’s you, general, wouldn’t you be able to conquer it? You did say there wasn’t much of a need to fear Beim before, didn’t you?”
Hearing that knight’s words, Blois offered a revision.
“Dude, you’d do well to remember a bit of the details. It’s as if you’re saying Beim is nothing special.”
“You’re wrong. If we’re going to war as the premise. And Beim has never even thought to expand its territory, so there’s no way they’ll be invading from their side. Well, firing people up and causing wars is the extent they go for. Then worming their way in with commerce and such, they’re skilled in seduction, and using the back door, and that sort of thing. They’re more formidable of an enemy in times of peace. But if you fight them, you can definitely win.”
Saying that Blois showed the knight a certain document.
It was the mercenary brigade he had hired to compensate his lack of hands. Even upon seeing that, the knight didn’t seem to understand it.
“Something about them?”
“… Formerly a mercenary brigade enrolled at Beim’s South Guild Branch. During Beim’s defensive, it seems they were tasked with protecting the important points. Their scale large, and their quality isn’t bad. But they’re mercenaries.”
If hired, they’d join either side. And you could even say they had full knowledge of Beim. They knew how much treasure was in the city, and to them, it was a place easy to fight in.
“The city of merchants and mercs… it’s going to fall.”
With those words, Blois prepared a letter addressed to the royal palace at the center. An explanation of the present situation, and a request for reinforcements…
Within the Jewel.
LYLE, who’d come from my room of memories, was talking with the ancestors.
『If it isn’t garters, I’d have to say stockings.』
Hearing that, the Third compared me and LYLE with a serious face.
『I see… so Lyle had a foot fetish all this time? I happen to prefer behinds.』
I to him.
“Please don’t start up on your sexual preferences. Are you not embarrassed?”
The Third laughed.
『When I’m already dead? Rather, this sort of thing is vital. It’s important to know yourself. Isn’t it fine? Being a foot-fetishist?』
“Don’t arbitrarily label me a foot fetishist!”
When I cried out, the Seventh followed through.
『That’s right! Considering Lyle’s eye level up to now, I’ve already concluded him a lover of large breasts. He keeps taking glances at them, so there’s no doubt about it. So if you call him a foot-fetishist, even Lyle will get angry, Third Generation Head.』
Come so far, I just realized the Jewel displayed things from my point of view, felt embarrassed, and sat on the spot.
LYLE didn’t stand up for me.
『But I like Vera’s chan’s chest that seems to be non-existent, but surely exists. I want to rub my face against the part of her thighs you can see between her skirt and socks!』
“You really are the worst.”
As I said that, the Fifth looked at me.
『Lyle, I can only see it as you shouting complaints at a mirror. Just accept it. That’s the first step.』
I didn’t want to recognize this pervy brat as myself. When I thought that, Milleia-san gently placed a hand on my shoulder.
She held up her thumb.
『Fret not, Lyle. I had Miranda buy some clothes besides garters as well. Just like me, that girl has a nice body on her.』
Before I could deny it, the Seventh opened his mouth.
『Hahaha, though your chest size couldn’t be any more different. Aunty’s dubious sizing can’t… ow!』
From her fluttery sleeve, she swiftly pulled out a one-shot gun, and shot him.
Since we were in the Jewel, it ended with nothing but an ow. In real life, it was an exceedingly outrageous scene.
『Brod-kun, did I teach you it was alright to say such things to a woman? Good grief, you haven’t changed a bit.』
I had some interest in the Seventh’s past, but to change the topic, I turned talks to Beim.
“More importantly, with this, Beim has divided as planned. Even if one is crushed, we have a spare, but… will I really go off on a journey just like that?”
Before we could show Bahnseim our movements, I was to go through the four country alliance, and Bahnseim through Cartaffs, finally heading to Faunbeux from there.
The Third shrugged his shoulders as he sat on the table.
『There’s no helping it. We need the power of Faunbeax and the other surrounding countries at all costs. If you give them a letter form the alliance and Cartaffs, it will add to your persuasive power, so don’t worry. Well, the problem is how Faunbeux is a huge Walt hater, I guess.』
The Seventh had revived, clearing his throat, and ignoring the Third’s gaze. The kingdom of Faunbeux… they had fought with Bahnseim a number of times, and had suffered a crushing defeat and lost much land twice by Walt Hands.
Right now, they held land of around two third their golden age. The one who shaved off the extra third was the Walt House.
What’s more, the Seventh was heavily involved. When an army of Faunbeax was rejoicing over a victory, he had beaten them, and driven them back. Nabbing some land while he was at it.
So when it came to the house there, we were nothing but enemies.
Within that, the Fifth stood from his seat.
He looked at the silver weapons floating above the round table.
The First’s giant sword.
The Second’s bow.
The Fourth’s dagger.
The Sixth’s halberd.
Those four glowing weapons were suspended in air, and after a light breath, the Fifth spoke.
『… Lyle, before your journey, I’ll teach you my last Skill. Map, Dimension. And finally, 【Real Map】. It can show the surrounding terrain as a three dimensional map, and you can read off the finest of movements. It’s a Skill where you can shift the viewpoint to any place you’d like to see. Well, it’s convenient for travel, so it’s just right.』
The Fifth said that with a resolved face, so I felt a little sorrowful at how he was finally going to entrust me his Skills.
An animal lover, and with many children, he was always cold to them, a man who left a large problem for the house.
Differing from the image handed down, he was a person who always looked somewhat unmotivated. Of smaller build within the house, and a person that giant Sixth Generation wasn’t able to beat to the end.
“Understood. Let’s move to your room of memories.”
Saying that, I stood. The Third looked down, while the Seventh watched me and the Fifth with a serious face. And yet…
『… Why are you arbitrarily pushing things along over there? I’ll just throw this out, but as the guide, I hold a higher authority in this Jewel than father, you know? I won’t let him disappear just like that. 』
As I turned to Milleia-san, LYLE folded his hands behind his head.
『Right, I knew I should have told Lyle about that earlier.』
The Fifth pointed at Milleia-san.
『You lot! What are you saying! I don’t have anything left to hand down to Lyle…』
There, Milleia-san corrected her posture with a serious face, and turned back to him.
『Sure you do. Don’t you father? Lyle should know what you had to endure. It’s a fact he has no choice but to know if he’s going to aim for emperor… and for Lyle to learn of you, I do not recognize the inheritance of your Skill.』
The Fifth’s Skill inheritance was prevented by Milleia-san…