DAR Vol. 3 Chapter 9 Part 7
In a room of the Amadan Adventurers’ Guild, the guildmaster held his head in his hands, his elbows on the large table fitting of his position, his eyes staring at nowhere in particular. The cause for all this were the orders he received in the missive before him.
There were two things written in the missive: one was that the investigation of the Citadel Dungeon would be conducted under the supervision of count Amadan. That was inevitable: if a gryphon appeared in town, it was necessary to investigate if anything abnormal was going on in the Citadel Dungeon, a gryphons’ nest.
The cause happened in that town, so it was easy to predict that they would be charged with such a task. It was also easy to predict that the Adventurers’ Guild would be asked to cooperate.
The gryphon that appeared over town was identified as the servant beast formerly belonging to the Hero Party Crack of Dawn. There was no proof, however, and as the possibility it had come from Citadel Dungeon could not be discarded, an investigation of the area in question was necessary.
The guildmaster couldn’t understand, however, the objective of the second order.
“Even if he has a gryphon as a servant beast, isn’t this too simple?”
The guildmaster squirmed and mumbled to himself. The second point of the order missive was to send a request to Roa, the All-Rounder who was making a name for himself in town. He was to accompany the investigation to the Citadel Dungeon: that was the content of the request, which came directly from count Amadan, the lord of the county with the same name.
The guildmaster stretched, leaning against the chair, looking at the missive with a furrowed brow. The heavy chair creaked.
The Citadel Dungeon was a fortress built in ancient times. Now it was taken over by magic beasts, mainly gryphons, and turned into a dungeon.
Headed by gryphons, many other flying magic beasts made it their territory: a large area, with the dungeon at the center, was thus uninhabitable by humans.
Because of that, they couldn’t cull the magic beast population in the surroundings, which, despite being just desolate plains, were densely populated with land-dwelling magic beasts.
In the past, it had also been a battlefield, so there were swarms of undead magic beasts born from corpses or lost souls.
In a word, it was a nightmare.
“They say that gryphons are hostile against each other if they don’t belong to the same herd, right? Aren’t they just going to die?”
Gryphons were said to have very wild temperaments. They treated those not belonging to the same herd as enemies, so they fought even among gryphons.
“It is labeled an investigation, but it is likely to be just an excuse to get rid of uncomfortable elements. The investigation party will be formed centered on the Nemophila knights. I suppose they are trying to use this chance to get rid of all unwanted cells within the county.”
“Nemophila, huh…his lordship finally made his decision. That ‘princess’ and her knight games gave us all sorts of problems too…”
The guildmaster replied to reception chief Viviana’s words while still staring at the missive. She had received the document from one of the guild’s messengers and brought it to the guildmaster. She had been waiting in the room until the guildmaster finished reading it.
Despite the request being for investigation, no one expected the party in charge to complete it and return alive. The real objective was to establish the fact that “an investigation party had been dispatched”. It was just a matter of facade with other countries.
“To send a request to an All-Rounder, though…can we really allow this? Even if it’s an order from headquarters, there’s no precedent for a request directly from the count, is there?”
“There isn’t. The request rules, however, allow it.”
“A specific request can be sent to any adventurer, regardless of rank, right? But…”
A specific request implied that the recipient was a specific individual. The designated adventurer just had to accept it, there were no rank restrictions. Naturally, such requests were usually sent for seasoned adventurers.
It was not expected that an apprentice, as All-Rounders were classified, could be designated. All-Rounders couldn’t normally accept requests individually anyways, so no one would be dumb enough to designate one for such a request.
“I never read the rule with special attention, so I am not confident in the details…but I do not think it states that All-Rounders are excluded. The headquarters went all the way to send such a missive, so I believe they already checked for such a possibility.”
The headquarters’ missive was a top-secret document, so it would not be made public. This meant that on the surface, the request would come from count Amadan and the guildmaster approved it. The *shame* of designating an All-Rounder for a request would fall upon them. Their reputation was surely going to be affected.
The guildmaster did not know how the count viewed the situation, but he did not think there was anything to gain in acting so forcefully. He couldn’t accept it, so his expression clouded even more.
“It appears that the merchants are moving behind the scenes as well.”
Viviana talked, without changing her expression, as if she saw right through the guildmaster’s thoughts.
“You know of the attacks on the Coralde company, yes?”
The Coralde company had been invaded by bandits several times just in the past month. Such information regarded the city’s safety, so naturally it reached the Adventurers’ Guild as well. Most of the intruders were thieves, but there were also assassins among them.
“There’s not enough proof to make accusations, but it appears that the culprits are merchants that bear resentment towards the Coralde company.”
“Ah, well I don’t doubt that. That baldie makes too many enemies.”
“One of the targets is also the All-Rounder in question. There are rumors that he develops Coralde company products, so they are trying to find out his secrets or kill him to prevent Coralde to make bigger profits.”
“…so they’re sending thieves to steal their secrets and assassins to not let them make bigger profits.”
All those attempts, however, had failed until now. The guildmaster looked at Viviana. She was not the type to just make chit-chat: there had to be some connection with the count’s request.
The merchants, frustrated by the failure of their repeated attempts, unable to obtain any information or have the All-Rounder assassinated, used the power of their finances to move the count, resulting in this specific request -so probably thought Viviana.
If the All-Rounder was drawn out with the specific request, he would be outside the Coralde company’s protection. The Citadel Dungeon area was off-limits to unauthorized individuals, so no one from the company could accompany the All-Rounder boy. This was an agreement between countries, in order not to trigger the gryphons.
In such circumstances, kidnapping or assassinating the boy would be easy. Even if it failed, the Citadel Dungeon magic beasts would surely kill them. That had to be the plan. After reaching such a conclusion, the guildmaster let out a deep sigh.
“So in the end I’m the one losing out!”
The Amadan count made a profit from the merchants, but the guildmaster had nothing to gain. The order came from the guild’s headquarters, through the count, so he had no choice but to accept it. If he did, he would immediately lose his position.
The guildmaster, questioned about his responsibility in the Aldon forest and Norfar valley incidents, was now standing on the proverbial cliff. One wrong move and he would be disposed with.
“However…if the investigation succeeds, what are they going to do?”
“That is unlikely, though. Even a gryphon could not win against many of its same species, and the Nemophila knights are unlikely to even reach the Citadel Dungeon.”
The guildmaster sighed in resignation. There was no other choice. He did not have a good opinion either of the All-Rounder or Coralde, in the end. If I can cause them a loss, then I might feel better later…so I have to accept this for now.
“Call the All-Rounder brat. Tomorrow’s fine.”
Yet another commotion, with Roa at its center, was about to begin.
When Dietrich opened his eyes, he saw a familiar ceiling. He tried raising his body and felt the sensation of dry grass on his arms and the rustling sound of the straw bedding he knew so well. He was sleeping on the magic beasts’ straw bed in Roa’s house.
“…I’m getting knocked out often recently…”
Most of the time, it’s because of that nasty gryphon…Dietrich scratched his bedhead as his still fuzzy thoughts went to the bed’s owner.
“Oh, you’re awake.”
Dietrich heard Kristoff’s voice. He looked towards the direction it came from and saw Kristoff, Cornelia and Roa. They were sitting on the table next to the servant beasts’ beds, drinking tea. The magic wolf twins did not even look at Dietrich, busy munching on fruit at Roa’s feet.
Dietrich recalled that they were happily riding on the pervert blacksmith’s shoulders and felt a twinge of jealousy. It wasn’t a problem if they were friendly with Bruno…but seeing friends you thought to be in good terms with sticking with other people, without even glancing at you, was enough to feel uneasy,
If this same person knocked you out, it was normal to feel irritated.
“…can I have some tea too?”
“It’s Camille herb tea, but would that be fine?”
Dietrich nodded to Roa and, without being noticed, glanced around the room looking for the nasty gryphon, but was relieved not to find it. It was probably busy with its usual plotting underground. Dietrich walked towards the table and noticed that, other than the tea set, there were all sorts of books piled on it.
In this world, books were precious items: certainly not something you could scatter haphazardly like that. The printing technology existed, but the ratio of people who knew how to read was not high, so there were not many buyers, thus they were not mass-produced and ended up being luxury items.
Nobles and merchants, the categories with higher ratios of reading ability, were both rich, so books were often decorated heavily to appease their buyers.
Thanks to this, the production fees of printed books continued to rise and were presently out of reach for common folk. Those who couldn’t afford them normally requested the services of scribes, specialists of copying books, and had them write a copy of the book they wanted.
Printed books were so expensive that having them copied was cheaper than buying them, strangely enough. Copying books required a long time, however, so it was not a cheap service by any means: it was hardly affordable for the average person, costing at least 1 gold coin per copy. Some accepted to do it for less, but they were usually apprentices, which often had poor handwriting or made copying mistakes.
Dietrich looked at the books and saw titles such as “Alchemy Fundamentals”, “Magic Potions and Medicinal Herbs Connections” and “Medicinal Herb Effects : A Compendium”. They looked rather plain, so they were probably copies.
“What’s with the books?”
“I borrowed them from Mr. Bruno.”
Roa served a cup of tea to Dietrich and continued, smiling.
“I’ve got some spare money, so I borrowed them to have copies made for me.”
Roa said it completely casually, but having technical books copied was often as expensive as buying them printed. To have such books copied you needed to find a scribe with a minimum amount of knowledge on the subject: if not they would end up making lots of errors or misspellings. A technical book lacking in precision was simply useless, after all.
Requesting a scribe with enough knowledge to copy technical books was not something you could do with “some spare money”. How much did Roa really earn in this last month…?
Dietrich started worrying that having so much money all of a sudden might lead Roa to misfortune.
“These are all books Roa studied before, collected by Bruno’s mother, apparently. In other words, these are the reasons why Roa can practice alchemy without a master?”
Intrigued by Cornelia’s words, Dietrich took one of the books and opened it. The characters were so small one would get a headache just by looking at them.
Dietrich went to school in his homeland and studied the basics of various disciplines, but the book’s contents were so advanced he couldn’t understand a thing. It looked like a blob of letters to him.
He noticed something, however, maybe thanks to looking at the text like a blob of letters. The ink’s color did not fade at all. The paper was not burned by sunlight either: despite being the possession of the mother of middle-aged Bruno, it looked fairly new. The cover looked old, but the contents seemed brand new.
Dietrich glanced at Kristoff, who had a keener eye on such things, and the latter nodded silently. Dietrich then realized: *that*’s what it was. Bruno had acquired a new book and disguised it as one of his mother’s old ones in order to give it to Roa. He probably did so that Roa wouldn’t have to feel guilty or indebted to him.
Bruno had to be one of the first people to notice Roa’s talents. If he didn’t start lending books to Roa, he wouldn’t have grown as knowledgeable as he was.
Dietrich noticed this, but had no intention to point it out. He didn’t have a particularly good opinion of Bruno, but he wouldn’t ruin what the blacksmith did for Roa.
“My grandma taught me about medicinal herbs, though. And grandpa taught me about how to handle ingredients, I guess?”
“Ooh, they must have been some amazing grandparents.”
“They’re just a pharmacist and a hunter from the countryside, though.”
Dietrich was thinking of other things, so he replied without giving it much thought, but Roa who heard praise for his grandparents made him blush as if it was directed at him.
“What about your parents?”
Cornelia asked casually, just following the flow of the conversation, but Roa’s expression darkened a bit.
“They were both adventurers. But they apparently died when I was still very small…”
Roa’s words trailed off and Cornelia hurriedly apologized.
“No, don’t worry. I don’t remember much about them, so there’s not much I can say, really.”
“….by the way, what happened after that?”
Dietrich saw Roa smile in a sad manner and that Cornelia was going to get down too, so he changed the topic. He didn’t like gloomy atmospheres much either. Hearing that Roa’s parents were adventurers, however, he understood why Roa was so bent on becoming one too.
He admired his parents’ way of life and wanted to make it his own too, so it was obvious that he would continue trying to become an adventurer.
“After that? Mr. Bruno agreed to make weapons for everyone.”
Roa quickly understood that by “after that”, Dietrich meant after he was knocked out. His expression turned bright, as if he recalled something funny.
“Whaat? Everyone? Including me?”
It was an unexpected response. Dietrich expected to hear that they were thrown out for angering the blacksmith and planned to use it so that everyone would laugh.
He couldn’t understand how someone he tried punching, a difficult blacksmith like that would suddenly agree to make weapons for all of them. He had said from the very beginning that he had no intention of making anything for Dietrich, after all.
“Actually, it looks like he liked that.”
“What you did, Dietrich.”
Dietrich’s brow furrowed, his head tilted to one side.
“….sorry, I just don’t get it…”
Roa took a sip of tea and continued talking to the confused Dietrich.
“Well, I don’t really get what goes through Mr. Bruno’s head either…but I expected a little bit that something like that might happen. Since Mr. Bruno is similar to Grandpa Gry, I thought it would be possible that he took a liking to you.”
Roa’s words plunged Dietrich in even deeper confusion. Why does having a similar personality to Grandpa Gry tie into possibly liking me? Dietrich couldn’t wrap his head around it.
“….what does that mean?”
Dietrich couldn’t come up with anything, so he decided to express his confusion honestly.
“Hmm, well, if you don’t understand, then it’s fine. But it’s true that Mr. Bruno took a liking to you. He will make weapons for four people, embedded with mithril lines, without conditions. A sword for Dietrich, Kristoff, and Cornelia and a knife for Bernhart.”
“That’s some impressive generosity…”
“Because he likes you. That’s the kind of person he is.”
Unable to fully believe Roa’s words, Dietrich turned towards Kristoff and Cornelia. They looked at each other and a faint smile appeared on their lips.
“…yeah, I think so?”
“That venomous woman said the same, and if Roa says so too, I guess he really took a liking to you…after he knocked you out he kicked your stomach, tried taking off your pants and underwear to expose you, but he saw the paw marks on your thighs, started laughing loudly and suddenly said he would make weapons for all of us…if I recall correctly…”
“…Kristoff, thank you for being so pointlessly detailed…”
“Ah, we healed your wounds with magic, so rest easy. And he didn’t actually take off your underwear, so no worries.”
Dietrich listened to Kristoff, speaking while half laughing, and felt his face grow red. Only Roa continued to serve tea, without showing any reaction.
The reason was that he had seen such things happen often: those who turned violent in Bruno’s workshop had their pants and underwear removed, then kicked out. Roa had seen people in such a predicament many times before. Compared to them, Dietrich’s underwear was safe, so there was nothing to worry about.
“That blacksmith is really nasty…”
“That’s why I didn’t want to introduce him to you. I said that you would have an unpleasant experience, right?”
He had softly refused a number of times, but Nostalgia’s members almost forced him to introduce Bruno to them, so he had no reason to accept their complaints.
“And since Dietrich would have two swords, I had thought of an alternative and all…”
“…I planned to buy a sword from Ms. Sofia, work on it a little and give it to you. That’s why I promised to take Cornelia and didn’t invite you. But you came all the same..”
Roa pouted, pursing his lips.
Dietrich treasured his mithril sword: even if he acquired another one, he would simply use it as a spare. Even if Bruno made him a new sword, he would only use it to imbue it with wind magic to use as a “Wind Blade”. In that case, an existing sword modified by Roa would have been enough.
Roa thus thought of buying a sword and modifying it for Dietrich. Since they came with Cornelia, however, his idea ended up discarded.
“Really!? That works better for me!!”
“….too late to say that now. Mr. Bruno will make you a sword, so use that.”
Roa flung Dietrich a brief glare and the latter piped down like a puppy scolded by its master.
“What were you thinking of making? Just for reference, can you tell us?”
Roa replied to Cornelia and started explaining. The type of processing he intended to do on the sword was called “inlay”. It involved carving a hole on wood or metal, then filling it with another metal or wood material, to fix and apply decorations.
It was normally used for jewelry and crafts, not when making weapons: receiving a strong impact would often cause the inlaid part to fall off, and carving a hole on the surface meant that the weapon’s strength would decrease. In order to use it for proper battle, the only way was to ask a blacksmith to craft a unified weapon with decent strength.
The sword that Dietrich would receive, however, was only going to be used to be imbued with magic, so its ability to absorb shock could be ignored. Moreover, the process of simply inserting a straight line on it was rather simple, Roa didn’t risk failure.
He couldn’t make something as good as a first-rate artisan, of course, but he was rather confident that he could complete such a process successfully.
Cornelia was impressed by Roa’s explanation. Impressed, but not surprised. She was already used to Roa to not be surprised that he even knew how to perform inlays. On the contrary, she was surprised that he lacked blacksmithing skills.
He only lacked the necessary physical strength and facilities, however, he had more than enough knowledge on the topic, or so suspected Cornelia.
Dietrich was sulking, sad to have messed up the plans Roa had thought up for him.
Kristoff, who did not participate in the conversation for a while…was absorbed in reading one of the books from the pile, a concerned look on his face. Cornelia looked at the title, which read “Magic Tool Craft for Beginners”. Roa probably wanted to try making magic tools next. Kristoff was surely worried that Roa was going to create something preposterous again.
“Anyway, we asked Mr. Bruno already, so there’s no helping it!”
Cornelia pretended not to notice Kristoff’s concerns.
“You could tell us first how scummy he was!”
“What!? You’re on his side!?”
The magic wolf twins howled. Dietrich thought they were criticizing him for speaking bad of Bruno and reacted, but the twins were looking in a completely different reaction. Looks like that wasn’t the case. Roa then translated for them.
“Looks like someone’s coming.”
Dietrich lowered his head to the twins and they waved their paws, as if to tell him that they didn’t mind. Everyone waited silently until they heard a knock on the door.
“Mr. Roa, I brought a guest for you.”
Roa opened the door and found a Coralde company employee he knew and a man wearing the Adventurers’ Guild uniform…
Sometime after the guest’s visit, Roa and the others were once again gathered around the table.
<A summon from the guild! Hehehe…things are going to get interesting!>
Grandpa Gry’s tone was excited, its eyes narrowed in a devilish expression. It nodded to itself, apparently convinced of something. An evil character through and through. It was definitely plotting something again. Looking at the gryphon, the Nostalgia three changed their expressions.
The man from the Adventurers’ Guild was a messenger who brought a letter to Roa. When he left, Grandpa Gry climbed up from the underground space.
The gryphon was apparently in a foul mood, as its construction work was not going well, and entered the room while mumbling things like <Why won’t it connect…did I make a mistake somewhere? Hmm…>, but as soon as it peeked the contents of the letter Roa and the others were reading together, it said the previous lines.
The letter said “Come to the Adventurers’ Guild tomorrow” and “Make sure your servant beasts are with you”, with no other explanation. It was marked with the Adventurers’ Guild’s seal and the guildmaster’s signature, so as long as Roa belonged to the guild, he could not refuse to comply. If he ignored the letter and did not go to the guild, he would be punished accordingly.
The punishment would be just to be stripped of the status of adventurer in that country and to pay a fee, though. After one year, Roa would automatically cease to be an adventurer: according to the rules, if an adventurer spent one year without taking any requests, they would automatically lose their qualifications.
Roa wanted to continue being an adventurer, but All-Rounders cannot take requests on their own. One might think that he could join with Nostalgia, but in this country one was not allowed to form a party with foreign adventurers.
Domestic adventurers were tied down by various practices, such as the master-disciple system, so Roa could not form a party with others easily. Because of this, it was practically decided that he would lose his adventurer status, which did not bother him at all at the moment.
The penalty fee would be pretty heavy for a normal adventurer, but Roa had quite the financial leeway at present, so he wasn’t worried about that either. In other words, if Roa disliked the letter, he could ignore it without any real repercussions.
<You must turn in early today, brat! We’re going to the guild first thing in the morning!>
Grandpa Gry, however, was strangely eager.
“Ehm, Grandpa Gry?”
<Brat! Leave everything to me! I shall protect you, no matter what happens! If they lay a finger on you, they will be utterly annihilated! I dislike staying on defense anyway! The baldie said that he needs time for preparations, so it can’t be helped, but…>
“No, wait, annihilation? Why? …rather than that, Grandpa Gry, you can read?”
Among the intruders in the Coralde company, recently increasing exponentially, there were some people connected to the Adventurers’ Guild. In that case, it was possible that such people try luring Roa out through the guild this time. Grandpa Gry viewed this summon as a move from the enemy.
Roa did not yet realize that he was being targeted. He didn’t know why Grandpa Gry started talking about utter annihilation, but thought it was another one of its fantasies and did not worry too much about it. That was why he was more curious about the fact that Grandpa Gry understood the contents of the letter after just one peek.
“Wait!! For heaven’s sake, don’t be rash! Causing destruction in town is a bad idea!!”
“No annihilation!! Roa will end up a criminal!! Let’s do this peacefully!”
“…why did the guild order Roa to bring the servant beasts too? It’s basically suicide for them…”
Dietrich and Cornelia, who knew of the circumstances, hurriedly tried to defuse Grandpa Gry, while Kristoff held his head in his hands. Roa was thoroughly mystified that they would take Grandpa Gry’s words seriously.
<What….!?! Well, er, I….I am a magic beast! Why would I not be able to read!?>
Grandpa Gry reacted only to Roa’s words, made a quick excuse and looked away from him. Its awkward response made it clear that it had concealed the fact that it could read until now.
It wasn’t the first time that Grandpa Gry had kept secrets from Roa: since they became able to talk more and more things had come to light, but Roa had doubts about several things from before.
The words “I am a magic beast!” had become a favorite of Grandpa Gry: by hiding various things, it probably wanted others to view it as a regular magic beast. Its “secrets” kept leaking left and right, though.
“Oh well, whatever…”
“Regular magic beasts” would not be so obsessed about being considered “regular”. Roa concluded that such a human trait was very like Grandpa Gry and just laughed wryly.
“Okay then, I have no idea what they want from us, but let’s all go tomorrow.”
Roa did not have the slightest sense of danger about the summons. Grandpa Gry nodded in approval and the magic wolf twins expressed their joy at being able to go out in town again. In the end, the words of Nostalgia’s three were completely ignored…