Happy New Year Everyone!
This is Frostfire10. I would like to apologise for the extreme delay of this chapter. i have a competition coming up so I had to prepare for it. So thanks to that, I barely have any free time. So Henet did about 90% of the work. So let’s give him a big round of applause!
Anyway, my competition is this week so after that I will be much more free. Please look forward to the future chapters then!
*PS: Seriously, thanks Henet.
Invaders Part 1
Translators: Henet, Skythewood, Frostfire10
Baharuth Empire capital, Arwintar.
The city was located at the western side of the Empire’s territory. At the center of the city was the Imperial Palace, home to the Blood Emperor, Jircniv Rune Farlord El Nix. Spreading out from the Imperial palace were the Imperial Colleges, the Imperial Magic Academy, and various buildings housing the different government administrative departments. Unsurprisingly, it was said that the capital was the heart of the Empire.
Now, the Imperial Capital, Arwintar was experiencing a buzz of activity and commotion brought about by years of reformation. Among the annals of Imperial history, this was unmistakably the biggest growth spurt. Many new developments were introduced, followed by the heavy influx of materials and talent. In contrast, the dregs of the old Empire were discarded.
With an atmosphere filled with high expectation towards the future, the citizen that dwelled here looked vibrant.
The Imperial capital also known as the crystallization of Imperial power contained many things that would surprise many. First among this that would surprised anyone who visited the Imperial Capital was that almost every road was paved with cobblestones or bricks.
One would not be able to find a similar trend at neighboring countries. Of course, not all Imperial major cities had such a development. But if one were to observe this in the Imperial capital, they would understand the underlying strength of the Empire, where even the emissaries of the neighboring countries could only let out sounds of amazement.
The central roadway.
Branched out from the center in an explosive pattern with smaller streets intersecting in between.
At the center of the roadway were numerous horse-drawn carriage. While, pedestrians moved along the sides of the road. Although this was no different from any normal roads, but as the central roadway of the capital, it was different compared to other cities.
The difference lay with the designated pedestrian walkways.
A fence formed the border between the pedestrian walkway and the mainroad. Furthermore, there was a difference in height between both to ensure the safety of pedestrians.
Magical lights that would glow during the night were installed at both sides of the road at fixed intervals. Knights patrolled the streets regularly to maintain civil order.
A road under such conditions could not be found in any other countries even if one searched high and low for it.
Within the crowds that ply the pedestrian walkway, was a man.
With a height around 175cm. Age about 20 years old.
Blond, blue eyes, with a tanned yet healthy complexion. Within the Empire, the look was not uncommon.
Not the pretty type. But it could not be said that his looks was very bad either. Mixed within tens of people, he would not be easily distinguishable among the crowd.
Strangely, the man exuded a mysterious air that would attract others. It could be from the clear refreshing smile from his face or the air of confidence as he walked with his chest sticking out.
The man moved agilely at a speed that would not obstruct other pedestrians.
Everytime he moved his limbs, his beautiful wrinkleless clothes emitted a faint sound, a sound that was formed from the rubbing of chains. Those who were sensitive enough to notice would know it was the sound of chainmail.
A pair of swords hung on both sides of his hips. Their lengths were similar to that of shortsword. The hilt of the sword was completely covered by a grip guard. Although it looked relatively simple, it was not something cheap. Behind his hips was a metal hammer suited for bashing. He does not look like an elite. The accessories were there as a precaution.
A single glance at the man would tell anyone that he was not an ordinary warrior.
Having one or two weapons was completely natural in this world. After seeing people walking the street often carry weapons, one would understand this. However, having three types of weapons that could pierce, slice or bludgeon was not so.
Basically, this was prepared for times when various weapons had to be used: when fighting monsters.
The first thing that would come to mind was that this man was an adventurer.
However, he was not an adventurer. Adventurers was something of a defensive job. His was a more aggressive one.
Adventurers had their work requested, investigated and given to suitable ranked adventurers by the Guild. Basically the Guild would first check if it was a suitable job. So dangerous jobs, like ones that endangered the lives of citizens or related to crimes would be rejected.
Jobs that involved the supplying of plants that could be used as narcotics would be firmly rejected by the Guild.
In addition, jobs that would destroy the balance of ecosystems would be rejected. For example, they would not kill a monster that stood on top of the food chain in a certain forest. This was to prevent monsters venturing outside of the forest after that monster was killed and the ecosystem affected. Of course, if that powerful monster left the forest and encroached on human territory then it was a different story.
It might be correct to say that adventurers were allies of justice.
However, it was not all perfect. There were some who want nothing but money. There were also those that would take jobs that would make people do a double take. There were those that like to simply kill monsters.
Instead of the adventurers standing in the light, they were the ones looking for the shadows. Groups of adventurer dropouts. They were [Workers] who were called as such.
And now, the man walking the street was one of them.
While walking, the man lifted his head as if he noticed something. Several people in the surroundings faced the same direction for a brief moment, but immediately looked away uninterested. Some of them began talking about it with their friends.
Once again from afar, a small cheer could be heard riding the wind. The shouts craving blood was similar to ones in fights.
The end of his gaze, and it was quite a distance away, was the colliseum.
As a worker, even if he did not go he would see plenty of blood. And since he had to interest in making money, it was a place he did not often go to.
The man moved his gaze after reaching his answer. However, he did think about the match that was planned for today.
While watching the knights surrounding one of the priests of the 4 great gods, he turned the corner. He felt the knights’ gazes fall onto his waist, but they did not do anything.
Well, it was natural. He was not a fool to do anything that would attract their suspicion.
The empire’s knights were soldiers, and also held patrolling responsibilities.
In addition, to those who have worked for over a certain period, they were given magic full body armour with weight reduction magic and a magic sword with increased sharpness and they were the cornerstone of the Empire’s public order. To them, a man with several weapons was a target to be wary of.
He felt that as he walked, he drew the gazes of many knights. Sometimes they called out to him, and sometimes they checked his face with a list. One or two gazes was not to be worried about.
As he passed several shops, he saw the familiar signboard.
On it was written [The Singing Apple Pavilion].
This was a bar that was said to have started as a shop that bards that made instruments of apple tree wood gathered. The outside seemed old, but the inside was surprisingly well made. There were no drafts, and the floor was cleanly mopped. Staying here was quite expensive, but personally it was the store he recommended.
And—Most importantly it’s food was delicious.
That—Was the inn that he and his comrades stayed.
He pushed opened the door while looking forward to dinner. If his favourite pork stew came out it would be great.
The voice that greeted him was not one of his friends thanking him for his work, nor was it a voice that welcomed him back.
“—So I’m telling you! I don’t know!”
“No no, even if you tell me that.”
“I am not her go-between nor am I family. There is no way I know where she is.”
“Are you not comrades. Even if you tell me you do not know, there is no way I can that easily retreat, it’s my job.”
On the first floor of the inn. There was a man and woman arguing in the middle of the bar.
The woman was someone he knew well.
Her golden hair was cut short. Her face with her fearsome eyes was without a trace of makeup. And the most attention grabbing part of her was her ears that extended far beyond that of a normal person. Yes, she was a half-elf.
Elfs of the forest tend to be much slimmer than humans, but one glance at her body could tell you that she was extremely slim. To the point that her feminine charms, her chest or behind were practically nonexistent. It was like a metal board was slipped in.
She wore leather armour. Her short sword hung by her waist.
She was the type of woman that you could mistake for a man even up close.
She was one of him comrades Imina.
The man facing Imina was a complete stranger.
The man was bowing to her, but there was no feeling of remorse in his eyes. In fact, it was mixed with a bad feeling. But from his actions, he was not brainless.
The man’s arms and chests were packed with muscle, and if one stood in front of him they would feel pressured. However, if the man chose to use violence on a worker, it would be nothing more than a foolish decision.
As to why, Imina seemed frail, but she had enough ability to kill a man of the level of the one in front of her.
“And that’s why I’m telling you!”
“What is going on, Imina.”
Imina was the first one to recognise his voice and faced him. And her expression turned to one of surprise.
Imina seemed to have forgotten herself in the conversation and did not notice him entering. This showed how furious she was.
“….Who are you.”
The man asked him with a threatening voice. His eyes were sharp, and it seemed that he would hit him at any moment. Of course, to him who had faced terrifying monsters, this was simply something to laugh at.
“Ooh, I see I see. Hekkeran Termite. The rumours are not enough.”
The sudden change in the man’s expression to a smile caused him, Hekkeran to surpress his emotion of disgust.
He did not know why the man came here, but since he came to this inn, there was no way he did not know of Hekkeran.
The earlier voice and atmosphere was definitely to test just what sort of person Hekkeran was. If the man’s air had any sort of effect on Hekkeran, he intended to continue the conversation with it.
The type of man Hekkeran hated.
It was true that in the business world, this would be done to get more favourable conditions. As the same colleague as Hekkeran, this was a natural negotiation technique.
However, Hekkeran did not like negotiations like that. He liked direct ones without hidden sides. It had no relation to it being troublesome.
“….How noisy. This is an inn. There are other guests, so we should avoid such noisy stuff right?”
There was not a single guest nearby. The figure of the inn workers also could not be found.
They were not hiding in any way. As to why, most of the ones staying here were the same as Hekkeran. This level of noise would not affect the taste of their alcohol in any way. The reason they could not be seen, was simply that they were not here.
Hekkeran looked at the man like he was glaring. If he was an adventurer, Hekkeran would be A rank and his gaze could not be ignored. For an instant, the man shivered as if there was a magic beast in front of him.
“No, my apologies. However, I cannot leave yet..”
While lowering his voice to a certain extent, the man showed his desire to continue. Being able to do so while bathed in Hekkeran’s gaze meant that he was involved in a job that needed strength, or violence.
Then what was he?
He was doing a gangster-like job, but Hekkeran did not know this man, and he had no memory of his attitude. He could not believe that he was here to request something of them.
The confused Hekkeran weakened his gaze, and used the simplest method to find out what he wanted.
“….What is it?”
It was simple. Directly ask him.
“Yes. I would like to meet Mr. Termite’s acquaintance, Ms. Furt”
There was only one person that appeared in Hekkeran’s mind when he said Furt
Arche Eeb Liliya Furt. One of Hekkeran’s comrades, and an excellent magic caster.
He could not imagine her having a connection to this man. Hekkeran judged after walking the line of life and death with her. This could be considered a threat to her.
“Arche? What happened with her?”
“Arche….Ah Yes. I usually use nothing but the name Furt and this confused me. Umm, Arche Eeb Liliya Furt”
“So! What do you want with her?”
“Yes yes, I have some things to talk about with her….It is confidential, so I would like to know when she will return—”
“How would we know.”
Hekkeran firmly cut off the conversation. This caused the man’s eyes to waver.
“Now, the conversation’s over.”
“It, it cannot be helped. I shall wait over here….”
Hekkeran jutted his chin at the door. That figure again caused the man to become uncertain.
“Honestly. I don’t like you. I can’t bear having you in my sight.”
“This is a bar, so I….”
“True. This is a bar. It is also a place where drunkards get into fights.” Hekkeran smiled at the man. “Don’t be so on guard. Even if you get into a fight and are wounded, we have a priest that can use healing magic. We’ll heal you for free.”
“Should he pay a little?”
Imina had an evil grin as she spoke out from the side.
“We’ll make it cheap.”
“—And that’s what’s going to happen.”
“If you plan on threa—”
The words coming from the man halted midway, because he saw the dramatic change on Hekkeran’s face.
Hekkeran took a step forward, all the way until the distance between their faces was a fist away.
“Hah?! Threats? Who’s making threats? Is it such a big surprise that bars have fights? What the hell, I give you good advice for living a long and healthy life and you say I’m making threats? Are you trying to start a fight?”
Hekkeran’s current appearance was something only people who had faced death could possess.
Confronted with the pressure coming from Hekkeran, the man took a step back. He clicked his tongue for a bit and then reluctantly walked towards the entrance. Although he wanted to hide the fact that he was frightened, one look at his back was all it took to confirm it.
As he reached the entrance, the man turned his and shouted at Hekkeran and Imina one last time.
“Tell that brat from the Furt family! Tell her the deadline is approaching!”
Hearing the iron in Hekkeran’s reply, the man quickly scurried away.
As soon as the man disappeared, Hekkeran’s expression quickly returned to normal. The change was sudden enough that onlookers might have thought that the entire scene had been nothing but an act. And then, Imina started clapping
“So, what that all about?”
“I don’t know. He only told me as much as he told you.”
“Damn, I should have listened more before getting rid of him.”
Hekkeran held his head in defeat.
“Just wait and hear it from Arche once she gets back.”
“…But, it isn’t good to pry too deeply into things.”
“Well, even though what you said is correct, you’re still the leader. Do your best!”
“In that case, I will use my authority as the leader to order you to ask her about it. It would be much better if a fellow woman like you were to ask her about it, don’t you think?”
“Come on, give me a break, I don’t want to ask either.”
Imina who was waving her hands and Hekkeran were making troubled faces.
There were a few rules in common between adventurers and workers, where certain things were simply not done.
It could not be helped for the famous ones, but one of them was investigating or asking about each other’s past. Why it should not be done was something that needed not to be asked.
The second would be to display excessive desire.
This was as there was the possibility that they would not be able to function as a team if one was too greedy. For example, could one trust a comrade to keep an important secret or go on well paying jobs if he/she constantly grumbled about money daily. If they said they wanted the opposite sex, could they sleep in the same room? This did not mean they had to be saints. It simply meant that they had to hide what they had to hide to function well together.
This meant that when the strange man came, there might be friction in the group. Arche’s reliability dropped. This was not a simple problem they could let slide.
To those doing life threatening jobs, leaving even a sliver of unease was unacceptable. Even if Hekkeran’s team was a strange team. Allowing a bomb to be held was unacceptable.
Hekkeran shook his head, while displaying his reluctance on his face.
“Looks like it can’t be helped, then. I’ll have to ask when she comes back.”
“I’m counting on you~.”
Hekkeran narrowed his eyes at Imina, who was smiling and waving her hand.
“Don’t think you can get away. You also need to come talk to her with me, yo.”
“Eh, ehhh…” Although Imina clearly wanted to refuse, she gave up as soon as she saw the determination on Hekkeran’s face. “Oh well, it can’t be helped. Hopefully it isn’t anything big…”
“Anyway, where did Arche go?”
“Eh? Ah, she is washing the back of that job.”
“The back of the client right?”
“That and the history and situation of the target area.”
“Ah. Then since she is not here, she should be with Roberdyck.”
“Yes. The two are doing quite a bit. So, how was it on your side?”
“There is nothing that sticks out, but they seem to be moving several parties. It seems that if we do nothing we will be left behind.”
“Hmm. Before that, the difficulty increased.”
“….Hmm. It would be nice if it was not related.”
As the two were talking, the sound of the door grating open reverberated within the bar. From the large open door, the shadows of two people could be seen entering the inn.
“We have investigated it.”
The voices of a man and woman.
The first to enter was a very thin woman, of which the words ‘young girl’ would suit her. Her age was perhaps about the late teens.
Her rich hair was cut at her shoulders, and she had a fine set of features. Rather than beautiful, she seemed elegant. However, her stiff expression made her resemble a doll.
Her hands grasped an iron staff that was around the same height as herself. The surface of the staff was covered with symbols and runes that could have been words or pictures.
The girl wore a loose robe, and under that, sturdy clothes which offered quite a bit of protection. She was obviously a magic caster.
Following the woman was a well-built man.
He was fully decked in armour, but not a Full Face Helm, and on top of it was a surcoat with a holy symbol. A morning star hung from his waist and a holy symbol matching his surcoat could be found around his neck.
His brown hair was trimmed, and his neatly cut beard with his strong face was an invigorating sight. From his appearance, he seemed to be in his thirties. His conduct also added to the impression that he was the eldest there.
The woman in front was Hekkeran’s companion, Arche Eeb Liliya Furt.
The man behind was Roberdyck Goltron.
Hekkeran’s team was comprised of two men and two women. This was why Hekkeran’s team was called strange.
Worker as well as adventurer parties would be comprised of one single gender.
As adventurers, one would live under the same roof and experience danger together, so falling in love was common.
There was a high chance of a team where such relationships occurred seperating. One of the reasons was that one could not be trusted to make calm decisions.
For example, a warrior and thief fall in love. A monster appears and the thief and magician at the back are attacked. At that time, would the warrior be able to calmly ignored the thief and save the magician if the situation called for it.
Adventurers had to trust each other. It was natural. This was as they fought monsters stronger than themselves. If there was unease, and one of the weapons of the adventurers, teamwork, was unusable, those adventurers would lose their lives on the next adventure.
So teams were either gender based or love was forbidden. There were many cases of a couple causing the team to separate.
Hekkeran’s team also held that bomb.
“Ooh, welcome back!”
Could this be described as good timing or bad timing? Hekkeran thought while turning around to greet the two with a hard voice
“What’s wrong? Did something happen to the two of you?”
Roberdyck used a tone that did not display any seniority to the two of them. One of the reasons was due to personal choice, the other was because of the mutual equality between workers.
“Th-there’s no problem.”
Arche and Roberdyck both watched as the two of them waved their hands in denial.
“Umm, speaking of which, this isn’t a good place to talk, how about we go over there?”
What Hekkeran pointed at was a round table in the centre of the shop. Without any objections, the remaining three nodded. While moving there, Hekkeran sent gazes to Arche and Roberdyck.
The two of them probably spent quite a bit of time walking around. Especially in Roberdyck’s outfit. The least he could do was to prepare drinks.
Hekkeran thought of that, then noticed something.
“Before that, err. About the drinks—Oi, Imina. Where did the owner go?”
“…Out shopping. I’m watching over the place for him.”
“Is that so? Then what should we do? Is it fine for me to casually take out a bottle or two?”
“—I’m fine with not drinking.”
“Ah, I’m also fine, thanks.”
“…Is that so?”
While the two said they were fine, at Hekkeran’s tone hinting at them to accept, Arche and Roberdyck nodded. While saying yes, they reached the table and sat down.
“In that case… then let’s start the meeting of [Foresight].”
The relaxed expression on every member’s face vanished. At the same time, they leaned their weight onto the table, bringing everyone closer together. Although there weren’t any other guests at the moment, this sort of behavior had become an old habit that was hard to break.
“First, I would like to confirm the content of the commission.”
Once he made sure that he had everyone’s attention, Hekkeran continued. His tone and expression were completely different from before. As the leader of the team, it was necessary for him to act serious and maintain dignity when the situation called for it. That was only expected of a leader.
“The client this time is Earl Femel. The contents are to investigate the ruins in the Kingdom, the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick. Downpayment is 1000 gold pieces, after is 800.The reward increases based on the investigation results. However, do not expect much. It is predicted that other workers will be joining us on this request. The maximum number of days for investigation is three. The contents of investigation are the general points of this ruin. The most important is that there will be monsters, but their type is not known. Well, it is a normal ruin investigation.”
The occasions of abandoned cities or ruins attracting monsters was extremely high. So there were some who called Worker investigations forced reconnaissance.
“20% of found items worth in gold is the Earl’s, the remainder is the Worker teams’. However, the Earl has priority. This is normal. Our trip there and back along with food is the Earl’s responsibility. That’s all. Now, Arche, Roberdyck. What did you find out.”
“—-Firstly myself. The situation of Earl Femel in the court is not good. There was rumors of him being demoted by the Blood Emperor. However, he himself is not useless, and neither are his children. I believe it to be impossible that he would do anything illegal at this juncture. He is also not strapped for cash.”
“While it is called an investigation of a ruin in the Kingdom, Arche-san and myself have been unable to confirm any rumours or history that there would be a ruin there. It is to the point that while the Great Underground Tomb of Nazarick is called a tomb, we are unable to find out if there is a tomb there are all. Geographically there is only a small village there. If we get information from that village we may be able to understand something.”
“Impossible. We were requested to keep everything as secret as possible. Witnesses can be ignored, and it is the request of the client to not do anything.”
“—By the way, that area is under direct control of the Kingdom. Any poor actions taken will turn the Kingdom and Vaiself Royal Family against us.”
“Basically a dirty job as always?”
“Yes. However, there is a strange problem.”
“Well. Workers in the Empire causing trouble in the Kingdom will be a pain, even the Earl might be implicated.”
“—However, we can bring back the stuff that we find.”
All of them felt troubled.
This was a job that would never be done by adventurers. This job investigating another country’s ruin was close to a crime.
“Even so, how did this information of the ruin get into the Earl’s hands? Even though it is a tomb that we did not learn much about even through our checks….”
“—It’s close to the Tob Forest right? What if they found it while cutting down trees?”
“—That is strange. It is such a small village, I cannot believe that it can cut through such a forest.”
“While the chance of this being a result of the Kingdom doing military matters is not zero, having such a small village there does not bring any advantages.”
The four were troubled. Was it fine for them to accept this job.
Since the Adventurer’s Guild could not act as their shield, investigating the specifics of the job fell to themselves. First was to thoroughly investigate the client’s background, then the location of the job. After checking the request contents, then they would finally accept the job. There were many cases of dangerous situations despite these checks though.
They risked their lives in these jobs. If they did not feel satisfied with their checks, Workers would not do their jobs. If there was even a whiff of danger they could not overcome, they would not accept no matter the terms.
“….I have confirmed the payment, and the downpayment was given—”
Hekkeran placed a metal plate on the table. On it were carved various symbols.
“I’ve already checked it with the Imperial Bank. The sum has already been credited to my account, it can be converted into cash any time.”
Metal plates were a cheque that the Empire’s banks used.
The reason for the fine details was to make forging difficult.
There were demerits of taking time for the paperwork and materials cost, but the advantages were countless.
For example, a gold coin was ten grams. 1000 would be 10kg. Since it would be bulky, using this made deals proceed more smoothly. Especially for existences of nobles, merchants, and adventurers who made profitable deals.
In other countries, this line of work were taken up by adventurers. The adventurers guild on the Empire received national protection.
“I don’t think this is a trap….Mah, at least I think they are being serious after receiving the gold deposit plates.”
Imina stretched out a hand and took one of the gold deposit plates that was placed on the table. She examined it using the light that filtered in from the outside. The gold deposit plates were imprinted with fine letters.
If this is a trap, they would not be paying such a large sum in advance.
In recent memories there’s no one who held the Earl any grudges. From Imina, she never heard of anyone trapping others with a 1000 gold pieces lure.
“Wait a moment, Imina. I am not finished yet. Keep your brain awake for this one.”
“Yeah yeah, then enlighten me. Why do you think that this job was requested in a hurry?”
“—No clue. I do not now why does the job have to be rushed. I didn’t hear emergency situation from those close to the Count. There seems to be no major events or parties within this few days. It does not look like a job that requires us to bring something out of the ruins.”
“On the Kingdom’s side, there seems to be no big development. Only some outdated information.”
For this round of work, they only heard the contents of the request this morning. They will depart tomorrow morning. In such a situation, they would be assumed to reject the request if they do not return with answer in between.
Emergency request was not something surprising. Workers were used to this type of request. The problem lay with more than one team was hired.
“—How about the other teams?”
“Three of the teams accepted. One declined.”
“Did we received any special information from them?”
“Likely they kept it to themselves or it could be they don’t know anything much as well.”
Hekkeran shrugged as he was idealess.
“Likely we have competitors.”
“It seems likely. Then it could explained why several Workers team were hired at such a short period.”
“Working on that assumption….hiring three Worker teams that were comparable to ours and operating within the territory of the Kingdom… Would we be competing with the Kingdom’s adventuring team? If it’s like this, it would be pointless to gather information in the Empire.”
“Other things that we should be careful of would be ambushes, set up by rivaling teams. I do not want to lose my life just before reaching our destination.”
“A trap by adventurers. It would be better if it’s the adventurers. At least we could negotiate with them. The terms would not be over the top.”
“If it is Workers, it might end up with us killing one another.”
“What do you think, leader?”
Everyone’s opinion was collected. The only things left were the assumption and hypothesis.
“Before we make the decision, … let’s talk about it since there’s a need for it.”
Hekkeran sighed loudly while Imina held her breath.
“Arche, there was a strange man asking for you.”
Arche responded with a hastily constructed emotionless look. Her eyebrows however started to twitch. Seeing this, Hekkeran realise that this man was someone she knew.
“That fella said something at the end…. What was it again?”
Hekkeran directed the last question towards Imina. The response he received was an incredulous stare, as if she was asking what was he thinking. But after realising that Hekkeran forgotten about it, Imina responded tiredly.
“ ‘Remind the little lady from the Furt Family that her time is almost up’ ”
“Mah, it was something like this.”
Everyone was looking at Arche.
After taking a deep breath. Arche started to speak with a heavy expression.
“I am in debt.”
Hekkeran unconsciously shouted in amazement. Needless to say, even Roberdyk an Imina were showing expressions of shock. That was because that a Worker’s reward, was split evenly as everyone was considered an equal. After thinking about the sum that went into their pockets, it would be impossible for them to be in debt.
“How much was it?”
“400 gold pieces.”
After hearing Arche’s answer, they looked at each other again.
It was not a small sum. The amount of gold was not something that someone ordinary person could earn in their lifetime. The wage of an ordinary wage earner would be three gold pieces. In other words, the sum was equal to 133 months worth of salary.
Although they were quite the Workers team, it would be impossible for them to earn that amount in a single run.
Among the Workers, their team was considered among the upper-tier. Using the adventurer’s ranking, their ability was comparable to an A-rank adventurers team. Still it would be impossible for them to earn such amount of gold in one short. How did the debt came about?
With those suspicious gazes directed towards her, Arche’s face darkened.
On a personal level, she did not want to say anything. But, she cannot keep it as a secret anymore. If she were to forcefully end matters here, it would not be surprising if she was kicked out of the team.
The resolute Arche opened her mouth.
“—Because it was an embarrassing matter, my family was one of those nobles houses that had their nobility taken away by the Blood Emperor.”
Blood Emperor, Jircniv Rune Farlord El Nix.
As implied, he was an Emperor that dyed in his hand in blood.
He took the throne after his father, the previous emperor passed away from reasons unknown. After that, he ended one of the five greatest noble family- his mother’s for the suspicion of conducting regicide. He send his brothers to the grave one by one. Even the mothers who were involved with those events perished.
Of course, they were those who opposed him. But since before the Blood Emperor took the throne, he had already took control of the knights and they were not able to pose as a threat towards him. With an overwhelming military advantage, and just like cutting wheat, he took down all the influential noble families. The ones that remained, regardless of whether it was in their hearts, were those who swore their loyalties to the Blood Emperor, completing the centralisation of all power.
But the Blood Emperor did not stop here. He did not need incompetent fools, and stipped off the titles of many nobilities.
Instead, he decreed that plebeians who were talented should be given considerable political power and administrative authority. After all this, there were two things that surprised many. The nation wide nobility purges were done so skillfully that the national power of the Empire were barely affected. The emperor back then was a boy at his early teens.
Because of this person, it was uncommon for fallen nobles to appear. But,….
“Both of my parents were still living as if they are still nobles. Of course, we don’t have that amount of money. Hence, we borrowed money from unsavory people and got caught up with such a problem.”
The three looked at one another.
Although they stopped their emotions from showing, still they could still sense the feeling of frustration, anger and disbelief between them.
Arche’s initial words of introduction when she first met them was “… I am quite confident with my magical abilities, I would like to join your team.”. A slender child, grasping onto a staff that was taller than her with both her hands. Speaking about it, they remembered the time when they looked at each other wordlessly. They were that shocked. After that, when they had a good grasp of Arche’s ability, their expression was that of amazement.
That was more than two years ago, after going through numerous adventures, where one false step could result in death, they obtained a considerable sum of gold. Yet, Arche’s equipment were mostly unchanged.
Now, at least they knew the reason for it.
“You sure? Do you want us to have a good ‘chat’ with them?”
“It’s time they listened to the words of God. Nono, probably it’s time that God’s fist to manifest in front of them”
“It seems that their earholes were close. Why don’t we reopen it for them?”
Facing her teammates, Arche started to speak after listening to their comments.
“—Please wait a moment. Since the matter had come to this, let me have the say on this. According to the situation, I would moved out together with my sisters.”
“You have sisters?’
Seeing Arche’s nodding head, the others looked at each other. Although they did not say it out, their hearts told them that it might be better to look over this job.
A Worker’s job was more profitable when compared to an Adventurer’s. On the other hand, the danger level was higher. Although it was originally their intention to investigate any potential safety issues in this job, however it was not uncommon to have unforeseeable problems arising while in the middle of it.
If things go sour, she might die, leaving her two sisters. If he continued talking, he would be intruding into private matters. It was common sense.
“Is it… Then, we’ll end the discussion about Arche’s problem here. We’ll leave you to deal with that issue…..Now the problem lies in whether we should accept this job.”
As the conversation moved towards this point, Hekkeran looked at Arche coldly.
“Arche. Although I feel bad about this, but you have no say on this matter.”
“—No need to feel bad about it. No problem. Since I am the one with financial issues, I understand I may not make the right call.”
Still, one’s judgement could be clouded by money.
“—I am being honest here. It was lucky that I was not kicked out of the team.”
“What are you saying? It was lucky for us that a magic caster of your calibre joined our group.
These were not words of flattery but the truth.
Especially her Talent. Being blessed with that miraculous eye, it saved Hekkeran and the rest of the team several times.
Arcane magic casters seemed to be enveloped in a layers of invisible aura. The aura intensified according to the magic tier that the magic caster was able to invoke. It would be hard to investigate the aura and the methods of investigation were rather precious.
Among the many children who were blessed with Talent, occasionally, they would be one who would possessed the ability to detect magic among them.
Arche Eeb Liliya Furt was someone who possessed such talent. As far as Hekkeran knew, Arche was the only one in the Empire who possessed such a rare talent.
“How could the magical academy let go of such an outstanding student?”
“Really. For someone who could activate spells that were similar in tier to mine. Who knows, you might reach Tier-6 one day.”
“—I think that would be unlikely. But it would be great if there is a chance for it.”
The depressive atmosphere was slightly lifted. Hekkeran clapped his hands, bringing the others attention onto him.
“Then, the decision for this job, do we take it?… Roberdyk.”
“I see no problems with it.”
“It seems not bad? It’s been awhile since our last job.”
Request for workers were not that frequent especially high paying ones.
They have to take low paying jobs. They even experienced a time where they did not receive any request for a period of two months. This month alone, they were no proper request. But there were those unlawful request that Foresight did not take.
“—If you are worried about me, don’t bother. I have other ways of settling it.”
The three exchanged glances, before Imina laughingly said.
“Then again, if you think about it carefully, this job is not so bad right?”
“It the truth, we are not doing it for the sake of you.”
“It is as they said.”
“—Thank you all.”
Towards Arche who bowed her head, the three laughed before speaking.
“Then, Arche and I shall convert gold deposit into cash. The remaining two would head out to purchase the adventuring essentials.”
The adventuring essentials include things like rope, and oil. Once also could not neglect to be on the lookout for magical items. The task was well suited for the meticulous Roberdyk and Imina who possessed the thief job class. No, it could be said that Hekkeran was the only one unsuited for this task.
“Then, let us begin our operation….Arche.”
Arche who did not understand question bend her head sideways. Hekkeran who thought of the problem started to ask.
“The total reward for this job would be 1800 gold pieces. Would it be sufficient to repay the loan?”
The amount when divided equally among the four of them would be 450 gold pieces per person, an amount sufficient to settle all the debts. However, the rule within Foresight was that the amount would be divided into five portions instead. The remaining portion would be used as management fee for the team. The money would be used for the purchase of potions, magical scrolls, lodging fees and other miscellaneous expenses.
In other words, the individual rewards was 360 pieces of gold.
“—No problem, with the amount exchanged. I could buy some more time.”
“I could lend you the remaining 40 pieces of gold.”
“Well, I guess you can return it on the next reward.”
It was natural that none in the party outrank others. They were all treated as equal partners.
“—I understood the well intentions. It’s about time I return to my parents. At least, I should show them some more moments of filial piety.”
“That is of course.”
The four of them looked at each other, laughing as they went about their own business.
At one of the areas within Imperial capital, existed many impressive looking mansion, a street for the affluent. The street was completely lined with luxurious mansions. Within the Imperial Capital, the place had the best civil order.
Looking at these mansions one could feel its luxury and history behind it. With a history of tens of years, the owners were not changed at all and were passed down.
But due to the present Blood Emperor, the occupants underwent changes. With many of the houses started to empty out.
Nobles- their mansions were their status symbol. Although it was a waste of money, if they do not decorate their mansions, they would become the joke of the day of the other nobles. Artworks, jewelry, clothing, mansions and gardens, all these were the tools of war for nobles to use in their own battlefield.
Between a poor mansion and luxurious mansion, once invited inside, one would subtly feel the difference in power.
Even those who possessed wealth but did not decorate their mansion would not be viewed favorably.
For that reason it was the right choice to invest on decorating their mansion, but that was in those cases where they have the power to maintain it.
At one of the mansions within the area.
Inside the living room.
Receiving the stoic faced Arche were both her parents. Both having the beautiful faces of nobles and wore well-made clothing that befit their status.
“Hoho, welcome back.”
Quicker than the twos reply, Arche’s gaze was focused on a delicate looking glass-made art piece that was on the table. The glass was molded into an intricate looking cup, giving out the air of a luxurious item.
Arched started to frown as she noticed something that was not in the house before.
“Oh oh, that is Artisan John’s—”
“—I’m not asking about that. We didn’t have that in the house before.
“Simple, we only bought it this morning.”
His casual tone, one that would be used to talk about the weather, shook Arche’s body.
“… How much?”
“Erm… it should be around 25 gold pieces? Very cheap right?”
Arche’s shoulder sagged weakly. Originally she could have paid off a portion of her debt using the deposit. But now, the debt had risen.
“—Why did you buy it?”
“As nobles, we would the laughing stock if we could not afford something like this.”
Facing her father who was giving out a self-satisfying smile, even Arche could not stop herself by looking at him with animosity.
“—We, are not nobles anymore.”
Her father’s expression froze, then reddened.
“Lies!” Her father hammered the table. As the table in the living room was thick, it was lucky that the glass cup did not tumble. “As long as that shit-for-brains fool dies, our house would be able to rise again as nobles! The origins of our nobility stemmed generations back within the Empire’s history. How could we be forgiven if we let our noble legacy end here?”
“This is an investment for that future. If we use this to display our power, we could show that fool that our house have not bow down.”
Utter foolishness. This was Arche’s thought as she looked at her father who was breathing heavily with excitement. That fool he was referring to was likely the Blood Emperor. It would be unlikely he paid any attention towards those nobility at Arche’s level. Furthermore, if her father insisted on his own agenda, he should not be doing something like this as they were other better alternatives.
Stucked in his own world, unable to see the truth, Arche could only shake her head weakly.
“The both of you, please do not argue anymore.”
The mother talked with a leisurely tone. Both Arche and her father glanced at each other for a moment and decided to call it a truce.
Her mother stood up and passed a small bottle to Arche.
“Arche, I bought a bottle of perfume for you.”
“… How much?”
“Five pieces of gold.”
“Is it?… Thank you.”
As Arche thanked her mother, she took that rather small bottle and kept it in her pockets.
From the situation, it was hard for Arche to look at her mother coldly. Because if one looked at it differently, perfume and makeup were considered to be a smarter purchase.
If she improved on her appearance, she could attend the nobles party, fishing out those rich and powerful nobles. If one considered that a woman’s happiness derived from marriage, getting pregnant and giving birth, from the point of view of a noble, the choice was rather astute.
It was not wrong to buy makeup as a form of investment. However, she should have the idea that one should not spend on perfume considering the financial situation of the house.
“—I’ve already said it many times. We should cut down on non-essential spending and maintain a minimal lifestyle.”
“That’s why, didn’t I explain earlier! These were all essential spending!”
Arche was tired of looking at her father whose face swelled red with anger. Incessantly repeating the same old issue that should have been solved long ago. Arche blamed herself as she was part of the reason for it. Furthermore, she gave everyone at Foresight trouble.
“I would not give the household anymore money. I will take my sisters and live outside.”
The father simmered towards that quiet rebuke. That man could only think to the point that it would be troublesome if no one were able to earn the necessary money to support the family. Arche mused to herself coldly.
“Who do you think you owe this to for being able to live to this day!”
“… I have already cleared off all my debts to you.”
Arche’s words were rather cold. Till now, she had earned a considerable sum of money and most of these money came from her adventuring. Originally, the money should have been used to strengthen herself along with her teammates. Although the usage of the reward that was split evenly among them would go for different purposes. But as a silent rule, some of it should have been used to strengthen herself.
Looking at Arche who did not upgrade her equipment, what would her other teammates thought about it?
If the equipment was not upgraded, it would result in one person within the team to be extremely weak.
But, everyone at Foresight did not say anything towards Arche. It was too much for Arche to bare.
Arche did not let down her gaze. Receiving such a willful look, her father could not help himself but look away. Obviously, for someone like Arche who had gone through life and death situations, would not lose to a stupid noble father.
After a swift look at her wordless father, Arche left the room.
A familiar face anxiously greeted Arche who walked out from the living room.
“What is it, James?”
The elderly butler who served the family for years. The wrinkled face was displaying a rather anxious look. Arche immediately understood the reason for it. It was a look that came out quite often since the days that her father stopped being a noble.
“I feel ashamed for having to bring this matter up with milady…”
Due to Arche’s raised hand, the man’s sentence was interrupted. Judging that this was not a topic that should be discussed in the living room, the both of them moved a distance.
Arche took out a small pouch and opened it. The contents shined in different tones, with the majority shining in a silver radiant, followed by copper. The lowest intensity were golden radiant.
“—You should be able to work out something with this?”
Receiving the leather pouch, James’ face relaxed slightly after checking the contents.
“Wages, and we can pay the merchant….I believe we can make do, Ojou-sama.”
Arche released a sigh of relief. Although the situation was like trying to put out a burning cart with a cup of water. At least she could still manage the situation for now.
“—You could not stop father from buying it?”
“There’s no helping it. The seller came with a noble acquaintance. Although I did remind the master several times but…”
Both sighed together.
“…I would like to know. If I were to let off everyone who works here. What’s the minimal amount of money I need to prepare?”
James’ eye dilated slightly, and gave a lonely smile. His expression did not change much asH he had already resolved himself for this moment.
“Understood, once I calculated the cost, I will deliver the information to you.”
“…I’ll leave it to you then.”
The sound of light footsteps with a quick pace could be heard. And it was heading towards Arche. Evading was simple, but doing so was unacceptable.
A shadow ran towards Arche. And it rammed into Arche without slowing. It had a weight even less than the light Arche. She could hold her ground, but that was impossible. As it hit her, she moved back, absorbing the impact.
The one that rushed over was a little girl with a height of less than 1 meter. Her age was around five years old. Her eyes were similar to Arche’s. As if dissatisfied about something, the little girl puffed out her little pink cheeks.
The girl was not pointing out Arche’s chest was too flat.
Her adventuring outfit were mostly made from leather, increasing its defensive properties, especially at the areas around the chest and stomach were protected by hardened leather. Still it did not stopped the little girl from flying towards her as if she wanted to dent the leather armor
“Are you all right?”
Arche caressed the little girl’s face and rubbed her head.
“Erm, no problem, onee-sama!”
The little girl responded happily. Seeing her sister’s expression, Arche could not help herself but to smile.
“….Let’s end the discussion here.”
The butler gave her a look of gratitude as he did want to intrude in their private moments anymore. Arche rubbed her sister’s head.
“Urey…the thing at the corridor….”
Arche stopped her sentence. It was common sense that it was unsightly for noble ladies to run around the corridor. However, as she had told her father earlier, they were not nobles anymore. Running like that should not be an issue anymore.
During those moments, Arche’s hand never stopped. The little girl with the messed up hair laughed and did not show any inkling that she wanted the treatment to stop. Arche looked around, noticing that one person was missing.
“In the room!”
“Like this… there’s something I want to talk about. Let’s go together.”
Her sisters laughed merrily. She would be the one protecting them. As she realised this, Arche took their little hands with her own.
The hands were so small until Arche’s considerably slender arms could encompass it easily. Yet, she could still feel the warmth being transmitted to her.
“Onee-sama’s hands are very tough.”
Arche looked at her other hand. During her adventuring days, it was cut many times, those tough hands were no longer the hands of a noble girl. But, she did have any lingering regrets towards it, because the arms were the testament towards her existence along with her friends and companions in Foresight.
“But I love it the most.”
Enveloped the both her sisters’ hands, Arche smiled gently.