NBAA Vol. 5 Chapter 3 Part 2
While the Wolf Cart was heading back for Adventure City, the Hailstorm guild had five swordsmen come to visit it. They were adventurers working for Hailstorm from various different towns and they were all “Sword Masters.”
In front of the five of them stood Maria. She had gathered all the swordsmen.
“First off… I should say welcome back. Or maybe I should say good work. You all managed to get back safe from your jobs.”
One of the five of them, an elf youth, sat down in the chair.
“It’s true! I worked my ass off. Don’t just boss me around, you know!”
“Shun!! You are going too far!!” One of the older Beastman shouted at Shun. This youth looked to be in their 20’s but they were actually hundreds of years old.
Shun didn’t seem to care about the elderly Beastman and put his feet up on the desk.
“More important than that, I wanna hear about the Rotten Dragon incident. I’ve heard about it in Battle City as well. I’ve heard you have some incredible tomboy swordsman expert princess living here. And, she subjugated the dragon. Is that right?”
“That’s half-right. I don’t know if she’s a great swordsman…”
“So, it’s true? That princess really defeated the Rotten Dragon!? I can’t believe it…” Shun was fully interested.
A young girl who was half-covered in a hood looked like she was talking to Maria.
But it wasn’t the volume that a normal human could perceive.
Maria looked at the hooded girl. This girl should NEVER know about Reito’s existence – Maria was cautious. Maria knew that this young girl was actually a member of the Hazuki Household which was Maria and Aira’s original household. While they had never met, Reito had Hazuki blood in his lineage so they weren’t completely unrelated.
Maria nodded at the words of the young girl that only she could perceive.
“It’s true. Precisely speaking, it was Princess Nao who gave the final blow to the Rotten Dragon with the holy sword… but yeah.”
Shun and the old beastman raised their voices in surprise.
“Holy Sword!? Are you saying she used the legendary magical weapon to fight it!? The ever-prudent kingdom sure is getting audacious…”
“I can’t believe the holy sword still exists… I can’t believe it.”
The young girl, who was blond and striking, opened her mouth. It didn’t look like what she was carrying on her back was a holy sword, but there was some sort of weapon on her back that combined a sword handle with an ax blade.
“Lord Maria, I have something I would like to ask… Recently, apparently, there have been rumors about a certain young boy. They say he may be your kin.”
“Your kin?” The hooded girl immediately reacted.
Maria felt bitter about the situation, but she used the same excuse as before.
“He’s not my kin… he’s just a kid I love as if he were a relative. He’s a good kid, so I keep an eye on him, but because Bal left my guild, he is in the Black Tigers. He has no relation with Hailstorm.”
“Wow, if you’re saying that much good stuff about him, he must be quite the little brat. I bet Gallow would be jealous.”
“I see. However, don’t you think it isn’t good for you to interact with the members of other guilds? Especially the Black Tigers…”
“It’s okay. While you guys were away, Hailstorm and the Black Tigers had a reconciliation. We have agreed to cooperate with each other.”
“What!? No way!?” all four of them except for the elf-girl said at once in surprise. They had heard that Maria and Bal were on bad terms, and couldn’t believe they had made up so easily.
“It’s true. We will not be recruiting members from Bal’s guild. Our relationship just went back to how it used to be, is all.”
“I can’t believe it… Bal apologized to you? That’s the biggest surprise since you’ve come back.”
“BWAHAHAHA!! Even Bal managed to overcome her pride. That’s something to celebrate!!”
A figure clad in full plate pitch-black armor in the corner of the room laughed in a big voice. From the tone of voice, you would think he was in his thirties, but since no one had ever seen him, his age and sex weren’t clear. He had belonged there since the founding of the guild and was an old-stock swordsman. Even Maria did not know his true identity.
Maria looked at the armored swordsman to talk.
“Gorai, I can’t believe you would say this after it’s been so long. I didn’t expect you would show up, to be honest. Did you finish the other quest?”
“Yep!! Of course, I had a lot of trouble with the fang dragon subjugation… But, they got tired after three days straight of running away. A lot happened, but I managed to subdue them!! At any rate, I lost all my compensation for repairing the three villages I destroyed, but still!! HAHAHA!!”
“It’s not a joke!! Did you take on a dragon by yourself!!” Shun said wide-eyed. Gorai, the swordsman clad in pitch-black armor, was sent out to subjugate a dragon called a “Fang Dragon.”
“Our guild really has the best swordsmen,” Maria said.
“Stop it!! It’s not that impressive!! HAHAHA!!”
Everyone was silent in admiration.
Everyone besides Gorai frowned at Maria’s comments.
Shun and Gorai glared at each other and reached for the katanas at their waists.
“I don’t like hearing you be called ‘the best.’”
“Oh, you’re trying to fight? Fine by me!!”
The one to diffuse the explosive situation was Shinobi Kagemaru, who belonged to Hailstorm and who appeared without a sound.
Shinobi stood between the two of them. Shun glared at him. On his other side, Gorai was scratching his head.
Shun looked ready to kill while Maria calmly told him, “please relax… Do you want to get me angry?”
“Got it… Ngh…”
Shun retreated bitterly – Shinobi teleported to his side. Gorai moved back to the corner.
“I can’t believe that this group would gather together… Has there been some sort of problem?”
“Is it a new mission?”
The old beastman and young blonde girl asked.
“Before that, let me hear your guys’ story first. I get your regular reports, but I want to hear how you’ve been firsthand,” Maria said.
Gorai replied first, “well, I’ll start then. As far as the fang dragon goes, there’s no doubt the Empire is involved somehow. In the fang dragon’s nest, there was evidence that its eggs had been stolen.
“I see… Perhaps they are trying to fight the Kingdom using dragons again, they are so incorrigible.”
A large number of Empire personnel perished in the Rotten Dragon incident, but the organization itself still remained. Gorai was looking into the incident of the fang dragon suddenly appearing and attacking villages within the Kingdom’s territory.
“Shun, how about you?”
“I’ve had bad luck. I couldn’t trace Mill’s older sister’s movements… But, the queen who’s now in the Royal Capital seems suspicious.”
“Shut up!! I didn’t fail my mission!!”
The hooded girl next to Shun made an expression and mumbled something before Shun shouted at her.
It reminded Maria of how she used to fight with Bal, and she smiled nostalgically. She asked the young girl next.
“Hayate, how have you been?”
“I see, great.”
“…Um, did you understand that?”
“No, Jannu. I didn’t understand that.”
Hayate was the name of the girl in the hood who mumbled something – but her voice was too small, so normal humans couldn’t perceive it. Gorai, Shinobi, and Jannu couldn’t understand it.
Elves and Beastmen have far superior hearing, so the three that were present could clearly hear what she said, and looked distressed.
“Even the guys behind the scenes have started to move out… This is gonna suck.”
“They are trying to execute a coup d’etat… We might need to accelerate our plan.”
“We might not have enough battle power with the personnel we have at headquarters to fight. We also need Princess Nao to cooperate with our plan.”
“The one who helped fight in the Rotten Dragon battle? How are her skills?”
“We can talk about that more once I hear from all of you. Jannu, how are you?”
“There have been no changes in the Sunlight Association. As planned, we were able to import the recovery medicine.”
“That’s great. Last is… Loga.”
Loga was the old beastman who immediately put the bag he was holding on the table and emptied its contents.
“Is that… Orichalcum!! Nice job, old man!!”
“You’re older than me!! It was a pain to get this… Apparently, it was being used in black market dealings.”
“Did you figure out how they obtained it?”
“The ‘Mega Labyrinth’ in Beastland was breached. There was Orichalcum there that hadn’t been dug up… It could have only been taken by a human who could get to the lowest layer. It took all I could do to dig this up.”
“I see… Nice work!”
Maria had spent over half a year collecting information to obtain that mineral. With this Orichalcum, she had everything she needed to be able to make a complete Crystal.
“What should we do, Lord Maria?” Jannu asked, and Maria looked at all of them.
“For now, take a rest. Soon enough, I will need all of your guys’ strength… Speaking of which, have you guys heard about the Battle Festival?”
“That evil event? No… What kind of entertainment is having monsters and humans fight!!”
“Oh really? I want to enter. I can make good money.”
“I didn’t hear about it… Is it that famous?”
“I also saw it!! It looked kind of fun!!”
Maria was glad she skillfully managed to avoid the conversation becoming about Reito as she watched the five of them discuss the Battle Festival. She sighed to herself. She looked at Shinobi and gave him an order in a small voice.
“Shinobi, I leave that kid up to you.”
“Um… What will Lord Maria do?”
“I need to head for the Royal Capital. Take care of things while I’m gone.”
Shinobi silently nodded.
Maria looked out the window and clenched her fist unconsciously.
There was no doubt that an event that would bring about the Kingdom’s collapse would occur soon. There was no human who could prevent that, and she know that before that happened, she needed to get her own sister – Aira – back.