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Chapter 1: Taking Over

Taking Over

Returning to Beim from the Labyrinth Subjugation, I stopped by the Guild to report.

We arrived in Beim around noon, and after we returned to the mansion, and went over the reports, I headed for the East Branch.

Monica had clung onto me, and tearing her off was quite a trial, so I was a little tired.

When I arrived at the Guild, naturally enough, I headed for the third floor. I arrived, met with the receptionist manning the desk, and found myself surprised.

Long blond hair, and eyes that drooped a little. Her eyes were emerald, and she let out a fluffy atmosphere.

"Oh my, it's been quite some time~."

Stressing the end of her words, she confronted me with a bright smile. After standing, and preparing a drink from a pitcher in the room, she set it on the table.

"Marianne-san? Eh? Why?"

On my confusion, Marianne-san gave a bitter smile.

"Ahaha, the truth is I've been fired from the newbie-specialized desk on floor one. It's that, you know? When I'm supposed to play the elder sister for them, that doesn't really work out if our ages grow too far apart, perhaps? A within, yet just out of arm's reach is important for the newbie desk."

That's the sort of position it was? I thought, but decided not to dig to deep into it for now. Rather, if I jumped onto a talk about her age, it would surely come off as insincere, given my own age.

I took the safer measure to shift the conversation.

From the Jewel, the Fourth...

[How about you tell her twenty is still in your strike zone? In all actuality, Thelma-san's already thirty six, right?]

Just what is he trying to accomplish? That on my mind, I ignored him, and with a vague smile on my face, I sat across the table from her.

"How dreadful. Ah, this is our report from this time's request."

Marianne-san accepted the envelope I held out, and checked over it. Taking another document from a drawer in the desk, she compared them.

"... There's barely a disparity from an official Guild report. The paperwork checks out."

Paperwork related matters were left to Adele-san. So I was able to devote myself to the practical applications of the Valkyrie Series.

It's just, the Valkyries had a large point of issue. As long as I didn't become their masters, they wouldn't be able to establish what they called a [Network].

And doing that by myself would be quite a heafty burden, but there were plenty of other problems.

... They cost money. Just moving them cost money. Having the fight cost even more money.I understood the reason why a gathering of adventurers turned mercenaries were so desperate to collect funds.

"That's good. We'll be immobile from equipment maintenance and breaks for a while, so I'll show my face at the Guild on a later date. We can go over the available requests at that time, so..."

The formalities and documentation finished, I moved to leave the room. Marianne-san smiled at me.

"Yes. Splendid work. Have a nice rest."




When I descended to the first floor, I saw a different receptionist sitting at the counter Marianne-san once occupied.

I heard a bright voice, and looking closer, I saw a brown-haired cute-type receptionist. Much younger than Marianne-san, and with a different atmosphere than her.

Instead of fluffy, perhaps energetic would be in order?

Regardless, what she did was the same.

"That's amazing! You were always [D]s up to now, but you've finally gotten a [C]! At this rate, you'll be able to get your equipment together quicker than I thought. Good grief, you've gone against my plans in a good sense. Do your best from here on too, alright? I'll also do my best."

Odd job requests... usually cleaning the city, and helping out over the place. The usual evaluation you could expect from them was a [C].

If you worked proficiently, a [B], while [A]s rarely ever came out. Because if the requester gave an A, they'd be forced to pay an additional reward.

Well, up to now, they'd been doing terrible, and they'd finally gotten able to earn normal evaluations.

"No, if we get serious, something like this is nothing, I tell 'ya."

With a smile, she praised the new recruits. Falling forward, and making all sorts of gestures... she continued praising them. The quality of their equipment was low, and perhaps they had come to report at once, as they were covered in grime, but she dealt with them with a smile.

(So they had a replacement. Younger than Marianne-san, I see. My age, or a little younger?)

I don't think the age restriction was that strong, but anyways, the newbie specialized receptionist wore a slightly-modified uniform, as she amiably and energetically took on fresh adventurers.

I had seen her face somewhere before.

(... Rühe-san, was it?)

It did look like she was quite suited to the task, but I couldn't help but feel there was something going on behind the scenes.

And as I observed the counter, I noticed a group watching over the same spot.

It was Erhart's party.

He wore a tank top up top, and while it had finally come to the right season for that, I didn't really know what to think of an adventurer exposing all his vitals. The large sword he carried was an exceedingly normal sword. Its name was Gramr.

He led around his companions, watching the spot with a conflicted expression on his face.

And as his comrades called out to the man, he moved to line up at another desk, when...



... Our eyes met.




We left the Guild, and entered an establishment to listen to their story.

It was a store that offered a large quantity of food, and the taste wasn't bad, so for the adventurers who couldn't earn much, it was a shop to be thankful for, it seems.

I was usually surrounded by women, and mealtimes usually had a more of a graceful, or how should I put it... anyways, that sort of feeling. But Erhart's party had no restraint.

"Ah, waiter, another steak! Same as before!"

"Me too!

"Add on more bread!"

"For a drink, I'd like juice, the fresh-squeezed sort! With ice!"

"That lightly frozen fruit stuff for desert. For all of us!"

The waiter seemed used to it. But those around were also watching the party eat, so I ended up giving a wry smile.

Just hearing what they had to say for free was a little off, so I said I would treat them. Thereupon the individuals began reading down the menu starting with most expensive.

Their lack of restraint was actually quite a pleasant sight.

"Do you come here often?

Erhart conversed with my as he waited for his extra steak.

"You makin' fun of me? From your point of view, it ain't much, but this is a famous store all the upstart adventurers will bring their feet back to for nostalgia's sake. Number one in Beim."

No matter what he said, it sounded belligerent, but he didn't outright challenge me as he did before.

I looked at the menu. For adventurers that didn't make much, I saw it offered cheaper meals.

"No, I do think it's a good place. I used to come to these sorts of places to eat quite often, after all."

It was nostalgic. When I started out as an adventurer, I ate in places like these.

I stayed my nights in inns, and couldn't handle any housework back then. In Dalien, we got around to living in a detached house, but worn as we were from completing requests, we would eat out.

Back then, it was me and Novem. And along the way, Aria joined in. I think I was quite inept and unreliable.

"... Taking women along, right? It sure must be nice, having a good face."

He turned to me with an envious look on his face, but his face wasn't bad either. If he got his looks in order a bit more, then having women tag along wouldn't be...

(Come to think of it, there was that Larc guy in Cartaffs.)

He was an adventurer who carried a large sword like Erhart, but the rest was dubious.

"Well, no objections there."

"Keh! So what was it you wanted to ask?"

I wanted to ask about Marianne-san. Right now, Erhart's party was fulfilling requests as adventurers, and defeating monsters around Beim. They were working enough for a stable lifestyle.

You could call them splendid adventurers, and I was curious as to why the one who had raised them to that level, Marianne-san, was taken off new adventurer duty.

"It's about Marianne-san."

There, Erhart's party stopped eating, each of them hanging their heads in anguish. As I wondered what had happened, Erhart quietly began talking.

"... That woman, she betrayed us. Saying we had talent and such to work us up, she was really laughing at us behind our backs. I asked the other adventurers too, and she was a receptionist who worked by skillfully deceiving all the newbies. Since she's been promoted to the desks on the third floor, I'll bet she's lost the need to put on an act. But I'm sure she's still directing a fake smile to the proficient adventurers up there."

Some sort of problem seemed to have happened in-between them. When I asked for the details, it seems during that past monster army matter, Erhart's party had stated their desire to participate.

And she had obstinately put a stop to it.

For requests outside the city walls, the rewards were extraordinary. Perhaps they were attracted by those prospects when they insisted on their participation, but it would've been best they hadn't.

In the worst case, they could have died.

Trying to dispel a misunderstanding, I was about to open my mouth, when Milleia-san's voice came from the Jewel

[Lyle, now's not the time. It looks like the blood's rushed to their heads, and no matter what you say to them, they won't accept it. Let them grow a bit more as people, until they're able to have a laugh over the matter. If they keep on living as adventurers, the day they can laugh will surely come. You'd do best to tell them once that time comes. They do look like they have the skill... that Marianne kid who built up their foundations so far must have been raising them with care.]

I wondered if it was alright to leave the misunderstanding standing, but it was certain that Erhart's party felt quite strongly about it. I didn't think my words would do anything about it.

(Perhaps she was to them what Dalien's receptionist Hawkins-san was to me?)

I reminisced a little. His simple presence cast pressure on his surroundings, but I recalled how he politely and dealt with everyone.

"I see..."

"Yes, that's right. Heard enough? It's our fault for getting deceived, end of story. Laugh if you want."

"I won't laugh. Thank you for telling me."

Since I was able to hear out their story, I gave my thanks. The extra servings they ordered were carried at just the right time, so as if to forget a sad tale, Erhart's party turned their attention to the food before their eyes.




A day off.

Having gone out for shopping, I took May and Monica to the marketplace.

Having returned from the Labyrinth subjugation, we finished inspecting our equipment, and putting in requests for their maintenance. I set the days until we could accept the next request as break days.

At the marketplace with much pedestrian traffic, I carried bags for Monica, as she bought one ingredient after the next. Rather than meat and fish and vegetable, she was mainly purchasing seasonings.

"Hah, I really wanted to go alone with the damn chicken. The mansion has those pieces of junk, and those mass produced pieces of junk, and those three mass produced defects, so I can't flirt around with my Chicken Dickwad there..."

The one Monica spilled her complaints to was May. When we said we were heading to the market, she said she'd tag along. Her eyes were sparkling as she looked around.

As I carried a brown paper sack of groceries, I turned to Monica, who was diagonally behind me.

"When have I ever flirted with you?"

"Don't be so embarrassed. I, Monica, can understand a chicken's affection. Even if you swing about violence, within my databanks, they are all but expressions of love."

"No, violence isn't happening. I don't want that sort of love."

Pulling back from her statement, I turned my eyes to May. Showing her shoulders and navel, a tight, mini-skirtish garment.

In Beim, the passersby didn't show much interest, but in other downs, she and Monica both gathered some glances.

May was looking at a rare fruit.

"What's that! Hey, what's that!"

The aunty manning the fruit stand explained with a smile.

"They're a fruit delivered from a place across the ocean. You can't eat the skin, but cutting it in half, and scooping its insides out with a spoon is the standard way to ear it."

Its surface was black, or a dark purple? Taking such a fruit in hand, Monica looked over it.

"Oh my, you even have something like this. Let's purchase it."

As she purchased a few of them, the aunty looked to me holding the baggage, she packed them away in a small bag, and inserted it into my brown paper sack.

"Girly, here's a freebie. Come again."

Since May had stopped, and we had made a purchase, the woman handed may one of the same fruits we had bought as a freebie.

May looked quite happy upon accepting it. She held it up in both hands, and seemed as if she was looking forward to eating it on the spot.

I looked over the fruit lined at the stant.

"You really can get anything in Beim."

There, the woman laughed in a loud voice.

"Well of course! This is the more developed city on the continent. It isn't even going to lose to a metropolis of any massive country out there."

I gave a smile. The Seventh let out some thorny lines.

[Oh I'm sure. Wringing money and resources and blood out from the countries around it, it's a city that's flourishing from the profit. Truly a dreadful land.]

But the aunty's expression clouded just a little.

"It's just, I heard Rusworth and Galleria are going to start a war again. We'll start getting more things we'd usually never get our hands on again. Those two countries sure are troubling."

Rusworth and Galleria were two countries that had been at war with each other for many years. At present, they were stationed across from Lorphys.

The Third let out a reluctant voice.

[Really? At such a busy time? It's normal to wait for fall to pass before you go to war. Or could it be the harvest season changes by country?]

Of the feudal lords that remained, the territory's scale was smallest in the Third's era. He raised a discontent voice at those off-season movements.

But the Fourth was different.

[They're considerable large countries. Maybe they're well enough off to keep up the form? There are matters that don't require much mobilization. I'm sure they have knights, and perhaps they can make up numbers by hiring mercenaries from the land over here.]

The Fifth sounded displeased on the Fourth's opinion.

[Hiring mercenaries costs money. Well, maybe they plan to plunder whatever ground they gain. Hah, how terrible.]

While I thought over it, May borrowed a knife from the fruit aunty, and cut the gruit in half. She handed one side to me.

"Here, for you."

"Eh? Oh, thank you."

Accepting it in my free hand, I found its insides were stuffed with fruit flesh. Its juice was overflowing, making my hand wet and sticky.

Biting in, its sweetness rendered me a little surprised.

"What could it be. It's a bit different from the fruits I know of."

May was of the same opinion..

"I know, right! It's delicious."

Monica looked at the two of us.

"It's a fruit from southern lands. Has a real tropical feel to it."

There, the woman looked at Monica and laughed.

"So you knew of it? Well, it's true that southern fruits have a characteristic taste. I see, it really is... tropical?"

Monica smiled.

"It means it came from the tropics."

That didn't really help, I thought, as I continued shopping with the two of them.

I gave my thanks to the aunty.

"Thank you. We'll definitely stop by again."

"Thanks for the fruit!"

May also smiled as she waved her hand. But my thanks weren't just about the fruit.

(Galleria and Rusworth, huh. It may be the time to make contact with them.)