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Chapter 10: First Job in Beim

First Job in Beim

The village we spanned five days in Porter to reach, was one surrounded by wood and stone.

It had forests and mountains around, and those were likely the source of the timber. The village that's defenses were built off its terrain seemed somehow burlier than those I had come to know.

Dismounting from Porter, I headed to the gate with the necessary forms in hand.

The one on lookout, a youth from the village, had a bow strapped over his back.

After confirming we were dispatched from the Adventurers' Guild, he immediately let us through, Porter and all.

Clara looked around, a little surprised.

"The lookout was one thing, but seeing just how much effort they've put to defense... makes me question whether we're really needed here."

They were quite candor impressions, but I thought the same.

The one who came to greet us was a man who named himself as the chief.

His body was large, and his stomach stuck out a little, but the muscle of his arms was quite something. Looking over us, he made a bit of a doubtful face, before immediately bursting into a smile.

"Welcome. Thanks for coming all the way out to the sticks. Now won't you hand over the guild documents?"

I handed them over in an envelope, and he looked through them, nodding a couple of times.

As the individual who had put up the request himself, he looked at us and awkwardly scratched his head.

"An experienced party, is it? But you've got some tools I've never seen before in my life. Is that what's in these days? And why do you even have a housekeeper with you?"

"Maid."

"Eh?"

"Maid."

"R-right."

After glancing at Porter, he had turned his eyes to Monica's uniform.

He pulled back a little at Monica's insistence that she was not, in fact, a housekeeper. Perhaps writing her off as a girl with a screw loose here or there, he immediately changed gears, and turned to me- the party's leader.

"I doubt you can relax standing in the middle of nowhere. We don't have an inn, but there's a building you can use for lodging. It's maintained, so I'll bet it'll be a relatively pleasant stay."

Following the man's lead, I moved Porter along, as we walked through the village.

Just from what I could see, there were even villagers with weapons in their hand.

Noticing my expression, the chief gave a bitter smile.

"It may put you off, but please deal with it. It's just some brats acting tough by carrying weapons in hand. And they can't help but be wary when adventurers come."

While looking at his back, I...

"Chief, were you an adventurer too?"

"... You can tell? Well then I'm thankful to the guild for sending a competent one."

Walking on with a smile, he gave off the impression of a veteran with an impressive record behind him.

(If it's just Gray Wolves, then wouldn't this man be able to handle it alone?)

If I just concentrated a little on my surroundings, I could discover former-adventurers scattered all over the place.

They were wary of us, and among them were even some sending antagonistic sentiment our way.

From the Jewel, the Third let his voice.

[There're all sorts of adventurers out there. I mean, there're some that'll start a ruckus if the reward is insufficient, and even some fools who'll try to threaten their requesters. Many don't differ much from the average bandit, so that's why they're so wary.]

The adventurer-hating Seventh agreed.

[You can never trust an adventurer. But I'm not sure what to think of those sending hostility towards Lyle. If he had to mind, he could very well wipe the village off the map.]

I could understand why they were so wary. They were probably anxious because they didn't know what sort of adventurers we'd turn out to me.

Of course, that sort of thing wasn't something they'd try to pick a fight over.

And after a while, the building used for lodging by travelers, merchants, adventurers and the like came into view.

The chief pointed out the building which was quite spread out, length-wise, and had at least three whole entrances to it.

"Use that one however you will. Of course, break it and there'll be trouble. And you, blue haired bro over there, you'll be coming with me."

He likely had some explanations to give regarding the Gray Wolves. I sent a glance at my comrades, and they nodded, so I accompanied the chief.

-

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At the chief's house was a young and pretty wife, set apart ten to twenty years from the man.

The large house had two children, both of which hid and stared at me from the corners of the hallway.

Made of sturdy wood, perhaps it had been made quite recently, as the chief's house was quite tidy.

The young and pretty wife brought out some tea, so we sipped it as we discussed.

"The atmosphere's tense, right? Is it the first tim you've been in a situation like this?"

I had taken up a personal request to eliminate a Gryphon before. It didn't get put on the records, but I fought a defensive battle at that village.

"It's not my first, but that's not to say I'm used to it."

He smiled.

"I'll bet. Your eyes were darting about, so I thought that was the case. Well, there was some risk on our side when you took it up, so please bear with it."

After I nodded, the chief went into the Gray Wolves.

"Now then, about the request... a pack of Gray Wolves has been sighted in the nearby forest. We enter those trees for hunting and firewood, but it's gotten dangerous so I'd like you to deal with them. And that's about it."

After staring at the chief a while, I looked at the weapons hanging on his wall.

Appropriate to his build, it looks like he was a vanguard warrior who swung a battle axe.

"Do you find it strange I don't go out and kill them?"

"I do think there has to be a reason to it."

"And sure enough, there is one. But it's something like a custom or trend from a while back. And I've no intent to change it."

The former adventurer chief sipped his tea, and began talking as if he had gotten a grasp of my character.

"You guys fought a bit on the way here, didn't you?"

"Yes, I get the feeling it was a bit much, but we fought monsters a number of times."

Hearing that, the chief looked delighted.

"That's exactly it. Adventurers do plenty of hunting around Beim's circumference, but they never venture out as far as here. The reason we call adventurers is to have them defeat the monsters on the way. Otherwise, the traders and travelers that stop by would be troubled."

I was satisfied with that explanation. Sure, the chief alone could probably take care of the monsters around.

But then the ones inhabiting the road here would be left unchecked. In that case, anyone would hesitate to bring their feet to this village.

"So your goal was calling adventurers in itself?"

"That's how it is. And to us, the peddlers are important. The adventurers get some hands on some money, and we essentially pay for safer travel for the traders and travelers. If you keep that on your mind, I think you'll benefit when taking up requests."

It appears there's a benefit to it.

The chief offered up some more information.

"The pack's in a nearby forest, but do you need me to guide you?"

The eyes he shot me were ones as if to test me. I shook my head.

With the Fifth and Sixth's Skills, locating enemies was s eimple matter.

"I see. Then go out whenever you're ready. And once you're done, just call over to me. I have to confirm it, after all."

Finishing up my confirmations, I stood, and remembered something.

"Come to think of it..."

"What?"

"About the real reason you won't go out and do it yourself. Is there not at least one more?"

Making a tired expression, he...

"Now just try and tell those village folks that I could handle it myself. Those guys are way too frugal, and they'll push me out to do it the moment they hear those words. I mean, even if they're simple folk, they've got their strength, and clever ones are clever. But you can find idiots wherever you go. We're not so troubled with money to have to send a retired and weakened body into the midst of danger."

I felt those were his true thoughts, so I nodded with a smile.

A young wife, and two kids. It was a happiness too dear to needlessly risk losing.

With his retired body, the million-to-one chance he would lose his life existed. An irreversible mistake.

The Third let his voice out from the Jewel.

[Well, even if he explained his reasons to the village as a whole, there'll still be folks who won't understand it. And I'll bet they have some dissatisfaction with a former adventurer chief come in from some other land.]

Hearing his voice, I asked the chief another question.

"Another thing."

"You need something more?"

"Why are you serving as chief here?"

On my question, the man breathed out a sigh.

"It's not like I want to do it either, but around these, parts, having a connection to the guild is something convenient. Like being acquainted with nobles and lords in other lands, perhaps? That sort of thing. The fact they accept requests like these is also due to my connections. If played poorly some other villages are refused under the reasoning of, 'no adventurer'd ever accept that request.'"

The guild must be quite frantically allotting work on their side. But adventurers had their circumstances as well. And all it goes to show is that requestors have just as much going on.

"And you see, there's strength and all, but in Beim, it's those that understand how adventuring works that are the reliable ones. I'm quite reluctant here, but when the previous chief resigned, he pushed the post onto me."

The Fourth spoke up.

[It's because he understood the circumstances behind it that he shoved the work onto this man. Well, I doubt any retired adventurer trying to take it easy would ever want the position.]

The Fifth.

[But on the other hand, they wouldn't have that many aspirations for it, so they'd just do the work with minimal intervention. He may look like a minimalistic one, but when it comes down to it, the villagers here had enough money to arm themselves, at least.]

So it's just how things go in Beim.

In other places, people would fight over the chief position for personal interest. But here, it seems the tax was quite low, and the villagers themselves lived and prospered.

The Third spoke.

[To add onto that, this person's most likely your examiner. He's sure to report all the particulars. I mean, he even said he has connections to the guild. He's got more on his hands than I thought.]

His tone was as aloof as always, but he seemed a little happy having seen through it.

-

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While returning from the chief's house to the lodging building, I found the surrounding villagers to be concealing themselves.

(What? Why there of all places...)

From a certain location, they seemed to be observing me.

But it was strange no matter how you looked at it.

I headed for the place I was being watched from: the back of the building.

The lodging building had been equipped with bathing facilities, and those weren't closed off to the outside air.

Getting more information from the Skills of the villagers, I found that all of them were men.

When I sent them a glare, a few of them locked eyes from the platform they had purposefully made to hide.

And through my discovery of them, they frantically scattered...

"But it looks like the water's already been used."

There, Aria called out to me, a towel hung around her neck.

"Already finished on your end, pervert?"

The grinning girl likely had Clara prepare the water for her. She had wiped down both her body and hair.

Having just washed herself off, she'd get cold out there, so she should just come in already, I thought. But being called a pervert irritated me a bit.

By trying to kiss the quilin, I had been registered as a pervert in Aria's head.

From within the Jewel, the Fifth let out a rare emotional sentiment.

[... Seriously, why is that perverted? I can't accept it.]

He was angry about something strange.

(And you should look to things besides animals once in a while)

To her smile, I returned my own, and pointed at the place the villagers had been.

"What?"

"You got naked here, didn't you?"

"And so? Isn't it fine? I mean, I didn't get to wash myself properly while we were on the move. If possible I'd even like to take a full bath."

"You were being peeped on."

"... Eh?"

Looking where I was pointing, she seemed to have noticed what was visible of the platform.

From its angle and whatnot, it was definitely made for the bathing area.

And if it was made to actually keep tabs on us, then I wouldn't really mind, but that one was clearly a crime.

I thought she would turn bashful here, but...

"What of it?"

"...?"

I'm pretty sure I made quite an idiotic face there.

The Sixth also let his voice from the Jewel.

[... It's no good. This girl doesn't understand this and that.]

The Fourth too.

[She's an adventurer after all. Perhaps she's just fine with being seen naked at this point. In contrast, she does act strangely embarrassed before Lyle, but... Lyle, just get stabbed in an alleyway already.]

The Third.

[As I thought, the end of a harem bastard's gotta go like that.]

Before my eyes, Aria put her hand to her mouth, and smiled.

"What? You irritated they got to see? Oh right~ Lyle's never seen a woman's naked body after all. Of course you'd be jealous."

I meant to tease her, but got teased in return.

But...

"What are you on about? You remember that time you fell asleep on the coach in your undergarments. They were coming loose, and I'm the one who draped the blanket over you, you know?"

Aria's face suddenly turned red, and she threw the towel in her hands at me.

"The hell are you looking at!?"

The soaked towel held quite a sense of weight as it hit against my face, and at the same time, it was quite painful.

Picking it up, I threw it back.

"You're the one who showed it off! It was getting embarrassing for me, so I went and covered it. Why not be a little thankful for that consideration!?"

"What do you mean embarrassed!? Even like this, I've got a bit of confidence in my body!"

Aria threw the towel again, so I caught it and returned it.

"As if I care!"

She caught it in midair, but as she had grabbed its edge, the main part made a slapping sound as it hit her face.

When I pointed and smiled, she glared at me for real.

"... Forget it! Forget my baren form!"

"Didn't you just say, 'what of it?' or something like that!? Don't worry about it, I can barely remember as it is!"

"You pervert!"

"If you don't want to be seen, then fix that sloppy attitude of yours!"

And after a few more passes of the towel, the Seventh spoke from the Jewel.

[... You two sure get along.]

I couldn't really agree with that one.