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Chapter 3: Information Dealer Rauno

Information Dealer Rauno

"So this is the place?"

The area Miranda brought me to wasn't near the main streets of Beim.

It looked like a place that would become quite busy once night fell, but in the middle of the day, there were few people to be found, and I couldn't feel any vigor from it.

I walked behind Miranda, and we entered a building to find a young girl greeting us.

"Welcome. Ah, Miranda-san. Your sister isn't with you today?"

She looked like a lovable child, but she gave off bit of a mature and calm air.

(A gnome?)

When I thought that, Miranda spoke.

"He is my lover. We're going out with marriage as the premise."

I felt like I would do a spit-take. The gnome girl put both her hands to her face to hide her expression.

To avoid misunderstandings, I was about to try explaining the situation...

"So this is the enemy of womankind you've spoken so much about. How surprising, he looks kinder than I'd imagined. Ah, Rauno-san's in the back room again."

Miranda nodded, and confirmed what she owed with the girl.

"Thank you, Innis. So how much will it cost me?"

The gnome called Innis informed her of the rate for her request.

"It was just checking up on rumors. Making certain of some facts, and sniffing around recent hearsay... it'll probably run around this much?"

When she wrote out a price, it looked a little high to me. That opinion was shared by the ancestors in the Jewel, and the Fourth...

[Proficient as this place may be, if they can only do work disproportionate to the sum paid, then we have no business her. And wait, it's quite clear there aren't many employees here.]

The two known as Rauno and Innis were around, but it didn't look like they employed much personnel.

But Miranda spoke with satisfaction.

"Very well. I'll hand it to you on the way out."

There, Innis smiled. Quite delightedly.

"Thank you very much. With this, we'll finally be able to pay off the rent."

The latter part of that was definitely not something I wanted to hear from a business, so I couldn't help but end up doubting the information dealer Miranda recognized.

(Is this really alright?)

I followed behind her, and headed for a room further in.

Inside it was a man lying atop a sofa with a blanket draped over him. What's more, he reeked of alcohol.

There was ale, and light snacks on top of his table, and regardless of how high the sun was in the sky, he was soundly asleep. I turned to look at Miranda's face.

"His skills are the real deal. He maintains deadlines, and take his personality out of the picture, and you'll find no better."

He responded to her voice.

"Well sorry for having such a troublesome personality. What? Bringing a guy along this time?"

Raising the upper half of his body, the male yawning as he stretched his arms was most likely Rauno. When I greeted him, he violently cleared off the top of the table, and told us to sit.

The door opened, Innis came in, and she hurriedly wiped off the tabletop before putting some tea out on it.

And in that space of time, Rauno brought out some documents.

Miranda accepted the folder, but she handed it off to me.

"You're not going to read them?"

"I can do that after you've looked through them. Read it first, Lyle."

Being told that, I opened up the papers, while Rauno-san sleepily sat on his sofa, and looked between me and Miranda.

And...

"So the adventurer of rumor's a customer, is he?"

Miranda narrowed her eyes, folded her legs, and looked at Rauno-san.

"Displease with something?"

"Nope, no complaints here. I treasure clients with the ability to pay. If possible, then instead of Innis, you could just hand the reward money over to me, though."

Miranda tilted her head with a smile.

"How unfortunate. I've already told Innis I'd hand it to her."

"That so."

Rauno-san made a bit of a disappointed face as I scanned through the papers, and nodded.

(The information's quite precise. Uncertain pieces are grouped together separately.)

From the Jewel, the Fifth looked at them through me.

[Both Lorphys and Zayin are small. Wait, haven't they shrunk some from how they were in my time?]

The Sixth spoke.

[On that scale, if they're moving ten thousand troops... it should be needlessly difficult. Did some groundbreaking new strategy come about while I was away?]

I looked at the documents, but it didn't look like there was enough territory to mobilize that many troops to begin with. An all-out war... If they collected up as much manpower as they could, then I wouldn't say it'd be impossible, but such a thing was sure to bring about internal problems.

(Zayin is bigger than Lorphys, but they don't look to be of the scale to move tens of thousands of soldiers either.)

And information on other countries were written down as well.

The nations around Beim were all small ones, at least when compared to Bahnseim. Those small countries would go at each other in small-scale conflicts, and it seems that squabble has been going on for a few hundred years.

There, the Third spoke up.

[... Ah~, so that's it. It's because they have Beim. The adventurers' capital; a place where large masses of mercenaries and adventurers exist on a regular basis. If any trouble comes up, they just gather up mercenary troops and adventurer parties from Beim.]

Hearing that, the Seventh.

[There's a possibility the guild's moving things behind the scenes, and doing quite well for itself. And it looks like it's an area where the surrounding countries won't watch quietly if any one of them starts gaining land at a rapid rate.]

He proposed that the countries in the area had such circumstances going on.

(Then is the coming war also nothing but a farce?)

When I looked at the papers with that on my mind, my head began to hurt.

The contents covering the pages were worse than I had anticipated.

Looking at my expression, Rauno-san seemed quite amused.

"What, did learning Zayin's internal affairs disappoint you or something? There are plenty such stories rolling around this world of ours."

I shifted my eyes from the documents to the man.

"If it was Zayin alone, then so be it. But Lorphys is just as bad, and their neighbor [Selva]'s dubious as well. Then the homes of heroines, countries[Galleria] and [Rusworth]... Each and every one of them is nothing but war, war, war."

Rauno-san laughed.

"For a former count heir in a country as large a Bahnseim, this must look like nothing but petty skirmishes. Well, they have circumstances you won't find in a superpower. And this is the capital of merchants and mercs. The fact that there are so many here who would make it big in a war just goes to show how many wars there are around here."

Thinking I'd heard something I shouldn't have, I handed the documents over to Miranda. She confirmed their contents, but her expression did not change.

It doesn't look like she was shocked by them.

But inside the Jewel, the ancestors were starting up an uproar.

[Seriously, the hell... this is too terrible.]

[Rather than terrible, just what are they even doing?]

[Even if you got together one or two of the countries here, you don't stand a chance against Bahnseim. We're not even fighting on the right scale.]

[Even if you're going to hoist one up, how many troops would they be able to put out... getting your hands on personnel somewhere, and suppressing the surrounding powers will take too much time.]

[If you're going to do it, you'll have to subdue them all at once, or it ain't happening. But if even that won't be enough... as I thought, we'll have to get the countries around Bahnseim to move as well.]

It's true that Bahnseim was a large country, but even compared to the Weihs territory I hailed from, the countries here were smaller, and less developed.

Doing nothing but war, their landmass and populace had stagnated.

And Rauno-san quite nonchalantly just put it out that he knew my circumstances.

I looked at Miranda, but she shook her head.

(So he investigated me already.)

The adventurer of rumor. That's what he called me. I should take it an extent of information was already circling around.

The Seventh spoke.

[His personality's a problem, but his ability isn't bad. There's no loss in having connections.]

I thought a bit.

"... Could I get you to investigate more into Zayin and Lorphys?"

Rauno-san made a serious expression.

"What do you want to know? Any more info than that, and I'll have to hitch a ride there and investigate it myself. The fee will be quite high."

Miranda was still standing next to me, but she didn't give her take on the matter. She was likely leaving this case to me in its entirety.

(But that's just how skilled this man is as an information dealer, is how it is? Not just gathering, it seems he has enough competence to infiltrate.)

"You'll go there yourself?"

When I posed the question, he shrugged his shoulders, and spoke in a joking tone.

"There's no one but me and Innis here. Give me the time and money, and I'll be able to look up quite a bit."

The voices from the Jewel told me the information they wanted.

I took them into account, when I spoke.

"Then Zayin's goal, their rations and the scale of their troops. I'd like you to confirm the adventurers and mercenaries joining in on their side as well. The same goes for Lorphys. And could you look into the surrounding countries as well?"

Rauno-san opened his mouth, and after a space of silence, he shook his head.

"Oy, could it be you plan to join in the war yourself? I'm not saying you can't, but I'll be charging a small fortune. Even if you pick a side as a mercenary, the fee here will be much higher than your reward."

Information quality, and amount... that's just how much value it would have.

"Can you do it?"

Rauno-san scratched his head.

"The time period?"

"We plan to carry out guild requests for a while. We'll be leaving some people in the city, but could you get all this done in a month's time?"

Hearing a month, he made a doubtful expression. I knew it was physically impossible, but I wanted to see how much he'd be able to get together in that timeframe.

From the Jewel, I heard the Sixth's voice.

[Lyle, I'm sure you already understand this, but... don't trust this man. Don't forget you can get information from other information dealers as well.]

I gripped the Jewel, and Rauno-san opened his mouth.

"I can get their rations and internal affairs. But the mercenaries and adventurers enlisted will change at the drop of a hat. Even if I probe into it, by the time I tell you, it'll have risen or fallen. I'll also say that the surrounding countries will be impossible."

I nodded, and confirmed the fee.

Listing transport costs, lodging at the destination, and food as necessary expenses, Rauno-san began calculating it out.

The Fourth spoke.

[Yeah~ that's a bit high. He looks skilled, but I can't really say how skilled.]

I nodded, and officially issued the request to him. I paid the down, and filled out the paperwork. And after me and Miranda paid the previous request's fee to Innis, we left the building.

-

-

-

Within the Jewel.

Called in by the Sixth, I was given a battle axe... a halberd to hold.

"Um, my specialty is sabres...?"

When I said that with a troubled face, the Sixth sighed.

[Are you an idiot? You plan to continue using a sabre on a battlefield? No, if it's you, perhaps you'd be able to pull it off... but you'll need a weapon made right for the plains of war.]

Made right for the plains of war. Meaning I'll have to put up a fight everyone will remember while on the battlefield.

Surrounded by enemies in full plate armor, I'm sure there will be some cases where I won't be able to use my mass-produced sabres.

"Then how about the First's Giant Sword, or the Second's Bow?"

'Not bad,' said the Sixth, as he pushed the battleaxe onto me.

[The First's sword isn't bad, but that one costs too much Mana. The Second's Bow... how to put it, that one isn't going to be a flower on the battlefield.]

"Ah~, I see what you mean."

While bows and magic performed wonders on the battlefield, naturally, means to block them were always prepared. And the ones who really stood out in their efforts were the ones who held up their weapons, and fought in close combat.

It would be more memorable to see a man take down five with a sword or spear, than to see him shoot five dead.

[It isn't bad to expand your options. You know how to handle it, right?]

"I have learned the basics."

Saying that, I took a stance. The Sixth looked over my form, and put his hand to his chin.

"You're looking the part. Now then, start by showing me your thrust."

I thrust out the halberd as told, and followed it up by cutting back with the axe portion.

The Sixth looked over all my movements. And after I had shown them all, he spoke.

[Not bad. But you've no flexibility. Right by the book, that was. Well, put in a little experience, and it's sure to become something formidable.]

Hearing him tell me to put in some experience, I made a conflicted expression.

"You mean I should go right into fighting with this on a regular basis? No practice?"

Holding a sabre was one thing, but I couldn't help but be anxious over a halberd.

The Sixth laughed.

"What, nervous? Polearms aren't bad at all. Give's you nice reach. And a halberd can thrust as well as it can cut. You can even use it on horseback."

I took a stance, and he did as well.

Holding up the polearm gave a sense of unease I didn't feel with my usual sabre. The Sixth repeated a few thrusts, and I moved the weapon from side to side to parry them. And in the next instant, the axe portion was closing in on my stomach.

A horizontal swipe.

I jumped back to make some distance, and continued on in a defensive battle.

[What's wrong! Try swinging it dexterously like you do with that sabre of yours!]

"Even if you say it, this is too sudden to..."

The Sixth's room of memories. The scene it displayed was the yard of the mansion. By the Sixth's kick to the ground, dirt was shot onto my face.

My sight was snatched, so I tried to take distance, only to stop upon sensing a fountain behind me with the Second's [All].

Without a word, the Sixth brought down his halberd at my face.

... When I opened my eyes, the halberd's spear portion was right in front of me.

He grinned.

[You've still got a long way to go, Lyle.]

Pulling back his weapon, he held it in one hand, and hung it over his shoulder. The man seemed quite delighted.

(Is he having fun teaching his specialized weapon? Come to think of it, the Seventh's weapon was a gun.)

He'd shot me full of holes a number of times with a weapon that had an exceedingly low number of users, a gun.

(And wait, why is it that when we're all of the same house, the ancestors all have different weapons? Like how I'm a sabre user.)

I picked up a sabre from my father's influence, but First through Seventh had free choice of their weapons. There wasn't any semblance of a fighting style passed through the ages.

The First was a giant sword.

The Second a bow.

The Third, quite plainly, a normal sword.

The Fourth, twin daggers.

The Fifth, a snake blade.

The Sixth a halberd.

And the Seventh, a gun.

The variation was all over the place.

[Is that the end of it?]

With his question, I held up the halberd.

"Not yet. At the very least, I'll get one blow off of you."

When I said that with a smile, he looked surprised at first, but he soon raised a loud laugh, and held up his halberd.

[Good spirit there! I'll take you on until you've given up!]

So I thrust out the polearm towards him.