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Chapter 4: Get Along

I... I don't want to study right before it...

Get Along

Having returned from the labyrinth, I put in a day of break, and gathered everyone in the mansion.

Those of my party, Novem and Aria.

The temporary helpers, and adventurers of Arumsaas, Miranda and Clara.

As well as the piece of scrap metal, Poyopoyo, and the landlord's sister, Shannon.

Including myself, I tried creating a space where the seven of us could talk.

"Why am I included as well? And those two aren't adventurers, right?"

While drinking the tea put out, Clara asked. Her eyes were pointed at Shannon, and Poyopoyo.

The reason was quite simple.

"... I have no idea what to say to break the ice. The remaining two... are just extras, I guess."

I head the Third guffawing from the Jewel.

[Lyle, you're the best!]

By best, he likely means best for a laugh. He was today's councilor, or how should I put it, up to now, they were just ignoring the rules, and all talking at once.

In the past, when my Mana was running out again and again, there was a rule made where it would be one person talking to me per day, or calling me to the conference room otherwise.

As Clara stared at me intently, I gave an excuse.

"I mean, I have no idea what sorts of conversations happen between girls! And this is the first time we've been given a chance to talk like this..."

Poyopoyo poured a refill for Clara's tea. As she looked at me, she gave a scornful laugh.

"As expected of the chicken. You'll leave the womanly conversations to a woman, I see."

I told myself to endure it. And the reason I called Clara was that she had a higher amount of experience as an adventurer than us.

She specialized in support, and she was in a position where she saw a wide variety of parties, so I thought listening to her opinion was important.

Also, she had an understanding of our situation to some extent. We could skip the explanations.

Novem tried breaking the awkward air.

"Then how about we talk about our impending labyrinth expedition? Does anyone have something to say on the matter?"

No one shared anything.

Shannon opened her mouth.

"I'm not an adventurer, you know. More than that, I don't have confidence in my stamina."

As she proclaimed her lack of confidence with full confidence, it sounded as if she was truly bragging about the fact as she ran a hand through her hair.

The pose was fitting of her, but as Novem looked over her behavior with a smile, she gave a low scream before shutting her mouth.

A few minutes passed in silence, so I lightly raised my hand...

"Ah~, well.... Personally, I want to somehow clear the thirtieth floor without using my Skills. It's just that no matter how you look at it, there's a problem with our numbers, and our coordination is, you know..."

Aria didn't look me in the eye.

"Why not just use Skills? Is there a meaning in that?"

Her attitude was bad.

Novem gave her some cautionary words.

"Aria-san, that tone is a little..."

Aria shot back.

"Yeah, yeah, that's right. It's rude to Lyle-'sama', right. I'm sorry!"

As she proclaimed that loudly, I heard the Second's voice from the Jewel.

The Second hated her.

[The hell's with that tone!?]

The Fourth spoke.

[Isn't she still angry about what happened a while ago? Remember, Lyle shouted at her... she seems to be stomaching quite a bit there. Why not look upon her kindly?]

The Second spoke.

[As if I's know about something like that! That's the opinion of a man with weak knees to women, isn't it!?]

The Fourth responded.

[What's wrong with being weak to them!? Even if men put up a strong front, they won't win against women! You muscle for brains!]

The Second...

[Bastard, what do you think you're saying to your grandfather!? Let's take this outside.]

Hearing the words I often heard from the First, I became a little sad. Having finished transmitting his Skill, his role ended, and he could no longer show himself.

IF that man were to see me now, I wonder what he would say.

(... It's no good. I can only see him yelling, and picking a fight with the Second. I mean, our founder liked Aria quite a bit.)

As I started feeling down, Aria called out to me.

"I-I'm sorry. Don't get so depressed about it."

She was apologizing, but as I looked around at everyone's eyes, I hurriedly regained my composure.

Miranda started talking.

"You can call me out whenever you want. I received credit from Professor Damien, and I've done enough preparations to graduate. At this point, it's just something of a hobby."

The academy's system was one where you could enroll whenever you wanted, and graduate whenever you could. It wasn't one that held such events by season.

If you gathered the necessary credit, and had the credentials, you could graduate whenever you wanted to.

To Miranda, Aria...

"Is it alright to decide so easily? Do you plan on joining the party?"

And...

"Oh my, are you jealous? Think I'm going to take your beloved Lyle? Aria, you sure are cute!"

Feeling teased, Aria replied.

"T-that guy isn't related to it at all! In order to be able to live on my own one day, I'm just working together with..."

Aria's face turned red, and Novem...

"What are you saying, Aria-san? Even if you may have your circumstances, your body is one that was saved by Lyle-sama. Don't think that you can just pull out of the party whenever you like."

"Eh? She can't?"

I posed a question to Novem.

She turned to me in surprise, and began explaining the reasons.

"No, well... Dalien's feudal lord got you to accept Aria-san as a reward, and all."

I spoke.

"Wasn't that just the official stance? Just invalidate it."

Aria slammed the palm of her hand down on the table. In the room that had returned to silence, Clara disinterestedly drank her tea.

As some tea had spilled onto the table, Poyopoyo...

"Fufufu, so this is a so called scene of carnage. I've got it in my data."

... Said that, as she prepared to wipe it up.

"... In the end, that's all I am to you as a woman!"

"Why are you angry!? I just don't have any intentions of binding you down, is what I was trying to say!"

While I tried thinking of the reason why she might be angry, the Fourth addressed me.

[There's no way Lyle would ever be able to understand the complexities of a woman's heart.]

The Fifth spoke.

[You're just under the delusion that you understand it. I'm fully aware that I never did.]

There, the Sixth spoke.

[... Even so, if it wasn't related to dealing with his children, the Fifth had everything going quite well.]

I thought.

(What should I do. These guys aren't reliable at all.)

I looked at Novem. However...

"Lyle-sama, that's going too far..."

Miranda was smiling.

"Then I'd like to announce my candidacy. In Aria's place."

In the party, you mean? Or are you volunteering for something else? Miranda-san didn't voice that.

Misunderstanding something, Aria...

"I-I never said anything about conceding Lyle or anything!"

Grinning widely, Miranda-san spoke.

"Huh? I was thinking of entering the party in yoru absence, or at least that's what I intended when I said it, you know?"

Upon being teased, Aria turned away her face.

Clara opened her mouth.

"... Lyle-san."

"Yes?"

"You damn womanizer~"

As Clara called me a womanizer in monotone, my face cramped up. I don't mean to brag, but until recently, I was a pure boy who had never even received a kiss from a woman. Being called a womanizer is...

Clara handed down her final evaluation of the party.

"It's that. It truly is the ideal of all gentlemen, a classic harem party. I don't think you'll find many out there with completion of this level. Whether it be for better or for worse, it's an idolized party form."

For better, was probably referring to its idolization by men.

The worse was likely that she understood this sort of party didn't function.

I tried asking her.

"I-is there any way to solve or better the problem?"

Clara started talking, backed by the experiences she'd amassed up to now.

"Among the parties I know, there were some that, in order to avoid squabbles regarding female relations, would never take them in as members. Male-only parties. When affections become muddled, the party's coordination collapses."

Are you telling me to withdraw myself?

"So if I leave the party, will it be resolved?"

Novem let out her voice.

"That isn't happening. Rejected. Matter dismissed."

Clara nodded.

"Right. I mean, if Lyle-san leaves, the party will disperse anyways. And wait, your personal skill levels already reach the main body of adventurers. Coordination is... without Skills, I guess you're better than amateurs, is how I'll put it. If you withdraw from this party, I think Aria-san will still be dragging her feet."

Clara tried to give a followup to Aria, but the individual herself was...

"E-even if you tell me that..."

"You're all extraordinary, talent-wise. How about we put the standard around fifty? If you're just judging based on talent, this party would average around a ninety. Even if you say Aria's on the lower side, her numbers are still in the seventies to eighties."

She continued on.

"And if you add in any members of the opposite sex besides Lyle-san, it will fall through. Rather than saying love matters will become complicated... the males will not be able to endure it."

Why won't they be able to endure? Damien didn't have any problems.

Also, I wanted some people of the same comrades to talk to as well.

Understanding that I was unable to understand, Clara spoke.

"If there were lovely ladies around, and they were all flocking around a single gentleman, would one want to join only to be left sad, and alone? While being comrades, do you think they'd want to taste that sense of alienation?"

"... They wouldn't."

I finally understood, and agreed with her.

If we were recruiting comrades, males were no good.

"One or two would pose a problem, but if a large number joined, them more or less... but this isn't the sort of party that can manage that many, and the foundation isn't set."

Foundations.

A party with a stable foundation meant that it had members that fulfilled all the fundamental roles.

While our place had high talents, we didn't have any that could do scouting, or disarm traps.

"No, a family that large is... I'll have to reject that one."

When Novem refused, Clara gave a method to resolve the problem.

"How about dividing it up?"

"Division?"

As I tilted my head, Clara spoke.

"Lyle-san, you can generally accomplish anything on your own, and you have a strong tendency to try resolving things on your own. While you may have a number of Skills, with the others considered, it may be best to divide to have them polish their technique. No, wait, normally, you would decide everyone's roles first. Once you've all obtained a level of competency, you decide who will polish their abilities in a certain field. You see everyone's aptitudes, and decide your future objectives. That's standard."

I was too reliant on my Skills that a problem came from everyone else not feeling necessary. Rather than trained abilities, no... rather than general specialized adventurers, the potency of my Skills were higher.

"I guess the basic one is scouting. The role to walk ahead, and check for danger. I think Aria-san is appropriate for that one. I have some acquaintances in the field, so do you want me to introduce them?"

Clara prepared a memo, and Aria accepted it.

"Next is traps... I think Miranda-san has quite an aptitude. It's just a feeling, though."

Hearing that, Miranda-san smiled.

"Right. I am on the dexterous side."

Clara whispered.

"... People with your personality tend to be good at this sort of work."

"Yes?"

"No, nothing. Well then, Novem-san is... unnecessary. Just polish your magic as you always have."

Novem spoke.

"Is that so? That's a bit unfortunate. I want to be useful, somehow."

The Second spoke up.

[Novem-chan, it's fine as long as you're there. As I thought, she sure is a good girl!.]

Agreeing with his opinions, I waited for Clara to say more.

But she left it at that.

"And that's how it is. It will take time for you to become professionals. But if you all work on your various roles, and get some experience in them, the party's shape will solidify in a few months."

"Eh? What about me?"

As I asked, Clara...

"You're fine as you are. Generally, a leader's role is managing the party. Your job is to think about how well you can manage the party. Regulating everyone's schedules, and making plans is a splendid job in itself."

Her explanation was satisfying, but shouldn't I be polishing some sort of Skill as well? As I said that, Clara spoke.

"Lyle-san, you take over everyone else's jobs too much. If they can do it, then leaving it to them is also a leader's role. What you should be doing is..."

"Is?"

"Decide how to distribute the luggage. Also, if you invite another female adventurer or two, it will be perfect."

I stated my direct opinion.

"I'm kinda starting to feel like scum... you know, like... being completely surrounded by women."

"Yes, that's an accurate description. It's fine. Your standing in Arumsaas is questionable, but your face is on the better side, so you should be able to nab a woman or two. After that, use your time to build up favorable relations."

Novem expressed herself.

"T-that's no good!"

"Novem! That's right. I can't do something like that!"

"You have to find women that fit the Walt Family Precepts! I won't recognize anyone else!"

Clara tilted her head. I became silent, and I covered my face with both hands.

Aria didn't seem interested, as it was a natural occurance, but only Miranda-san stared at Novem with a serious expression.

Shannon, who was just listening in the whole time, spoke up.

"I'm not related to any of this, right? Why was I even called here?"

Poyopoyo as well.

"I can also fulfill a role. I mean... I'm a special model!"

I ignored the two of them.

-

-

-

... Aria took a visit to the adventurer Clara had introduced.

It wasn't at the guild. At a cheap-looking apartment, she checked the nameplate before knocking on the door.

From inside the room, she heard a muffled voice.

[Who could it be?]

"U-um, I'm Clara-san's acquaintance, and she told me to inquire about something here!"

The other person...

[Lady Clara? Well, so be it.]

The door opened, and standing there, was a woman with ruffled hair. Her age was in the latter half of her thirties. There were the remains of old burns on her face.

And the woman did not have a left arm.

As Aria's eyes turned to her arm, the Woman spoke.

"Ah~, so you're not used to such a sight. Well, you're young, so I guess you don't drop by the bars. Come in, why don't you?"

The woman snatched the memo in Aria's hands, and confirmed it was by Clara's hand before letting Aria into the room.

While its outsides looked quite cheap, the room was quite well organized. It seems she lived there alone, and on top of a table stood a prosthetic arm.

"U-um..."

"That's my work. I'm good at that sort of thing, so I make simple magic tools to get some coins to scrape by. It's less profitable than my main job, but it's enough to eat in this town."

Tools were hung the walls, and parts were neatly lined up.

"I'm [Lyra Ickler]. A woman once born to the celeb house of a small village. My surname's the relic of that."

Aria also introduced herself.

"I'm Aria Lockwarde."

Lyra started smiling.

"I know you. You fulfilled that pervert's request, and you're in a young, but skillful party, right? What business does the vanguard of such a party have with me?"

As Aria never thought she would know so much about her, she explained in a slight surprise.

With a slight tired expression, Lyra put her right hand on her face. Aria stared into the eyes visible in the gaps between her fingers, as her request's contents were confirmed.

"... Meaning you want to learn my style? Able to scout, and rush on the front lines, mine?"

"Y-yes!"

Lyra muttered about how she wouldn't recommend it.

"You can understand it, looking at this body, right? It's a dangerous job. Too large a burden for a woman. If you say you want to do it no matter what... be sure you won't mind even if you're covered in scars at the end. Don't complain if you lose an arm or two."

Aria swallowed her spit. But rather than being unable to do anything, it was a much better option, or so she reassured herself.

(If I ran here, then I really will become useless. So...)

"I-I'll do it!"

Lyra covered her mouth, as she started laughing. As Aria was taken aback, she apologized, as she continued laughing.

"Sorry. I tried testing you. These wounds are from back when I was inexperienced, you hear? Generally, if it's dangerous, the correct response is to not approach. Having been such a fool, this is the mouth of someone who earnestly studied it."

Aria was shocked, but Lyra continued.

"I've been in that lady's care a few times. Like in gathering info at the library, or carrying baggage. She's generally a solo companion."

"So that's how it was..."

As Aria said that, Lyra entered into negotiations.

"Well then, I don't mind teaching you, but I also have a job here. I can open up three days a week. Also, the fee is..."

Lyra looked over Aria, and considered the amount.

"If it's that girl's recommendation, you probably have the potential. I mean, you're party's the talk of the town. The period is two months, and twenty gold is fine."

Hearing twenty gold coins, Aria was surprised. More than that, she didn't have that sort of large sum. She had received rewards, but even put together, they were five gold tops.

"U-um, can't you put it just a little lower?"

"I'm giving up my time to instruct you, you know? And also, what am I supposed to do about the earnings I'm losing in that space? You didn't think you'd earn the techniques for free, did you?"

Aria hung her head. Seeing that, Lyra gave her conditions.

"Then I'll take all the earning you make on requests under my instruction. I'll also have you assist me in my work. How does that sound?"

"Y-yes! If that's it, I think I can do it!"

Lyra spoke.

"Well, I don't often get a chance to teach. My style's that of a scout who can do battle on the front as well. How good are you, kid?"

Aria grasped her Spear, and...

"... Neither good, nor bad. If it's in battle, then I'm handy with a spear, though."

Thinking a while, Lyra turned to Aria's chest.

"Is that perhaps a gem?"

"Eh? Y-yes."

Lyra confirmed what sorts of Skills she had. While Aria hesitated for a moment, she divulged them.

"So it's specialized in offense. It's much better than a lower level magic tool..."

"Um...?"

"If you've come this far with a spear, I guess that's the one most used to your hand... Aria, want to try a short spear?"

And so, Aria was also moving to establish her own style...