Chapter Three

The Decision

 

 

The city located to the south of Rondéville Kingdom’s royal capital, Lunéville.

East of Lunéville was Pinéaville, next to the Akradist Kingdom’s territory. When it was known as Pinéadist, it had developed into a majorly fortified city-base as defense against invasions from the east.

However, the Pinéa region merged together during the king before last’s reign. When the previous generation’s king invited Akradist’s first princess to be his queen, its importance as a base was lost. Still, it changed into an important trade route to the royal capital. From then on, its walls no longer suited it as it transitioned into an agricultural city.

Not that it had a specialty product even though it was called an agricultural city either. Two big thieves guilds that were entrenched in Rondéville, led by [Sal of the Copper Paper] and [Mabelt of the Lotus], mutually fought for supremacy to rule its underground.

Of course, though most citizens would leave a city like that, some couldn’t for various reasons. They spent their days in fright and destitution while the guilds fought.

Then came Hector, demoted to a troublesome location (self-proclaimed) of such low importance.

And then was Frank, a man selected to become the Guild Association’s Lunéville Branch Manager at the young age of twenty-seven.

The two thieves guilds were expelled without a trace by these two people’s efforts, transforming the city into a safe place for everyone to live free from worldly cares.

It was this place that the girl, Ilya Schultz, set her eyes on.

“I’ll never forgive those who try to destroy its tranquility. O-other than the townspeople (mostly) that is.”

Finally finding Lunéville after her long life as a wanderer, it was her haven.


 

“An inn town?”

Ilya had met with Frank in the parlor. Haku was sleeping soundly while rolled into a ball on her apron.

“Does Ilya know that the amount of people coming here recently has increased?”

“Yes… mostly.”

She knew that the majority of people arriving came for the cooking.

The rest came sniffing out the money trail, Commerce and Industry Guild’s guild members aiming for travelers and guild members.

Ilya’s thoughts weren’t far off the mark.

“Though Lunéville has come to be acknowledged as safe and peaceful when compared to surrounding cities, even the royal capital has come to know of it. It seems that the budget compilation meeting the other day increased Lunéville’s development plan.”

Looking over the documents Frank presented to her, she certainly did see the fortunate contents to redevelop Lunéville into an inn town. Each of the documents had been carefully affixed with Rondéville king’s seal.

The contents were regarding boundaries and road maintenance. It was scheduled for a new road to be constructed, replacing the one they had had up till then.

“Was Hector-san at the royal capital?”

“Yeah… he was complaining about the aristocrats’ tastes. He just went there to plan ahead.”

(My condolences.)

Was it better to call it house arrest or imprisonment? Ilya expected the other aristocrats probably had something like an allergic reaction from the upstart aristocrat trying to stick around.

“Did Hector-san have something to say about the project?”

“No, I didn’t ask. He probably isn’t against it though. If that man said he seriously didn’t like it, he would have torn it up and thrown it away on the spot.”

“I-is that so?”

She held the impression of him being gentle, so that was surprising.

“Though the budget’s contents are normally assigned by the country, it appears that they won’t be issuing a quote for it until the next budget compilation. I’d like for you to put out a commission to the guild to calculate the costs.”

“To the guild…? To begin with, how far are they planning on turning this into an inn town? I don’t understand the plan.”

“By how far, do you mean the scale?”

“No, the kind of people that would stay here.”

If they made accommodations for upper class people, but made accommodations for others to be multiple people sleeping in a group, she wouldn’t approve.

“That is to say, the amount of people is directly tied to the deterioration of public security. Don’t remove Lunéville’s good point by attracting unsavory individuals.”

“Most would come as guild members though. I doubt they would spend much money on lodging.”

“I assume you have no problems with maintaining our current quality of clientele?”

Frank thought for a moment, nodding before long.

“I want to continue on how we are.”

“… Mmm.”

Recently, most of the inns had been at max occupancy.

The branch would lend private rooms to individuals that were unable to secure hotel lodgings in harsh weather.

The branch had also sent out a commission for citizens who owned houses to rent out rooms.

Marketing probably had some uneasiness over more being sold out than were left to sell, thinking it was a bad situation.

“Gathering all of the landowners and working with them to establish their residence areas and inns is Hector-san’s job right? The building costs of the landowners’ dwellings, including the explanation of the total infrastructure improvement costs by Hector-san, are you sure that is alright?”

“Yeah. Charon’s gotten in contact with the Industry Guild, so they’ll send some people out.”

The people called over this time were architectural engineers that belonged to the Industry Guild.

Housing construction was different from general commissions, each party (contractors rather than groups) would gather and carry out a construction commission meeting at the guild. Then, each party would estimate the construction costs for the commission, with the one with the lowest bid amongst the gathering getting the rights for the construction.

Whether they would participate in the meeting would depend on each party, with larger parties staying away from small profit commissions by an unspoken agreement.

Though it was also possible that a client would send the commission directly to a party and not the guild, since the merits like contribution compensation and rank-ups disappeared as well, so long as there wasn’t some special circumstance, such arrangements rarely happened.

Accordingly, if the Mercenary Guild’s duty was to manage and unify guild members belonging to it, the Industry Guild’s role was to maintain reasonable pricing and check for moral hazards in the construction industry. Though there were also the roles of maintenance and development, the current status quo had each business relying on others.

By the way, in the case of do-it-yourself people, they could accept commissions even if they weren’t qualified to be an Industry Guild member. Because there were no carpenters in Lunéville, Sullivan was the one to take orders and mend armor.

Now let’s return to the main subject.

First was to make arrangements for the Industry Guild representatives and calculate the rough expenses of the dwelling structures and facilities. Then, based on the costs, look for candidates to reconstruct inns for the landowners.

However, there was a point of uncertainty that had to be clarified before going any further.

“The budget is just for road maintenance materials, but will the subsidies regarding housing construction and immigration decrease?”

“That’s right… it’ll be carried out by the country. There’s no question that they would keep those expenses in mind as well.”

“… They may tell Hector-san to take it from the subsidies though.”

Although Ilya thought that a country should help those in it out to gain their favor, she didn’t expect the plan to stand on such wishful thinking.

At any rate, it wasn’t a waste for them to figure out uneasy factors.

“Then there would also be the transportation of the materials for construction and its guards, as well as guards for the road maintenance.”

“Yeah. Given the situation, we need to have the inn construction go through first before improving the road.”

“… For the increased amount of people.”

“That’s right. If mercenaries were used to guard Lunéville, the amount of personnel staying here would increase substantially. Could we cover it?”

By ‘it’, of course he was referring to meals.

“I don’t think there would be any problems with the distribution if we purchased a large amount of foodstuffs… What about food and drink shops?”

“That’s, well… people interested in setting those shops up haven’t turned up.”

“Is that so…”

Though to tell the truth, something like that was inconsequential for Ilya. What she was truly worried about was there being more monsters with the increase in people.

Considering the source of monsters, it wasn’t hard to fall into a vicious cycle since the amount of monsters increased proportional to people.

The number of monsters went up as the number of people went up. To exterminate monsters, people gathered.

Truly a vicious cycle.

In order for there to be more commissions for the guild, everything worked out with the increase in monsters. However, since the plan this time was simply inviting more monsters to come, it produced a contradiction. The guild, which should have been removing the town’s threats, was exposing it to more danger for the sake of profit. So even though it was against what she truly wanted, Ilya, who was a mere receptionist, couldn’t intervene.

More importantly though, she knew that the townspeople wished for the expansion.

(There’s no way I could go against it.)

Muttering that in her mind, she settled her murky feelings.


 

After a lot of conferences and meetings, around a month had passed for the documents and commission registrations to be completed in various places, as well as an additional several weeks for transporting the materials and the start of the construction.

“Ilya, sorry! Please bring this to Elizah!”

Accepting the dish from the kitchen next to the counter, she headed towards the temporary terrace established outside of the entrance.

When she was about to open the door, Elizah appeared after vigorously opening the door. Since Ilya was nimble, of course Elizah was as well, they passed by each other without colliding as though they were dancing gracefully.

“Ah, sorry Ilya! Thanks!”

“It’s alright, I can bring it. Elizah can leave it to me.”

“Got it!”

On the other side of the door, there were twelve large tables that faced the main street placed on the terrace. However, they were all packed. Even if it was always like that inside, they had to clean up despite people eating and drinking while they stood outside.

“Sorry to have kept you waiting, here is your yakitori.” [1]

“”” Oooh~! “””

“Allow me to take your empty dishes.”

They were getting drunk, so she immediately retreated when she sensed danger from the looks in their eyes. Elizah, who she had exchanged roles with, shared a wry smile with her after she returned inside, probably due to her working at the reception desk instead of Ilya. Frank was standing at the counter.

“Sorry, Frank-san.”

“No, you’ve had it tough. Sorry as well, Luke. You had to come in despite today not being your night shift.”

“It’s fine, I have a lot of free time on my hands after all.”

Frank smiled bitterly, that’s just how Luke was.

Currently, Ria, Rachelle, and the wolf beastkin Darren were on the second floor serving tables. Elizah, Clarice, and Cynthia were moving about the first floor serving tables. Ilya and Luke were at the reception desk.

In other words, everyone was working. They were so packed that they’d reached the point where Darren and Clarice, who mainly worked reception services, had to take turns waiting on tables.

“But this is an amazing amount of people…”

Catching Frank’s mutter, Ilya glanced over the dining area.

The faces of newcomers were mixed in with those of their regulars, primarily Industry Guild workers. With the inn construction and area development rush, Lunéville’s population had temporarily inflated considerably. In addition to the terrace they had added on, they were also delivering some directly to the construction site.

“I wonder if it’ll be bad if we don’t hire more waiters ahead of time?”

“Please don’t forget about the kitchen.”

“T-that’s right.”

Her endurance wouldn’t be a problem due to her cheat, but doing it alone would be mentally stressful.

Since they had already asked Hector for it, the Association’s Lunéville Branch was in the middle of extending its dining area. The building next to the branch was currently under construction, but Frank still hadn’t decided on its opening staff.

As for why Frank was still racking his brains, that was because of him being vigilant due to the assassins that had invaded the other day.

(Even though he said that he’d say something if he saw them…)

When she lightly scowled at Frank with a pout, the person in question felt Ilya’s gaze and turned towards her.

“Do you think the branch’s faculty are good as is?”

“Yes. With everyone’s capabilities, I don’t think we can’t do it.”

“Un. That’s right.”

“If the branch’s operations increase, we can just remodel the second floor’s dining area into an office.”

“Right.”

Nonetheless, the fact was that waiting on tables and being a receptionist right then was a big burden.

Ilya decided that she would snatch the people that seemed like they could help when she next got a chance.


 

Early morning the next day, Ilya was heading to the branch’s basement warehouse.

The whole warehouse was made so that it was impossible to enter or leave if you didn’t have the key. It was currently being used as a prison to confine the two assassins.

Though they were being confined, it was better circumstances than a bad inn with the provided bed and three simple meals.

However, the residents’ gazes that met Ilya opening the lock were exuding wariness.

“You’ve been restrained for so long, I’m sorry.”

Even though they heard Ilya apologize, the two didn’t let down their guards.

Ilya, who had judged that such roundabout methods wouldn’t make any progress, decided to immediately get down to business.

“Thieves Guild members, Bard-san. Katie-san. Your sentences have been decided, so I’ve come to inform you.”

Their names called, both of their bodies jolted.

Their restraints had been undone when they were put in the prison after their interrogation. And now, Ilya had opened the only escape route. However, their bodies couldn’t move.

It was as though they couldn’t go against this girl in front of them, like their bodies were ordered to stay still.

“Sentences huh. Is there any use negotiating with the guild?”

Bard had trouble holding back his voice from quivering, doing his best to hold up his facade.

“Well, even though I said your sentences have been decided, the final decision is based on what happens next.”

“…?”

Both of them expressed a questioning look from Ilya’s strange phrasing.

“Let’s play a game of tag.”

“Huh…?”

They doubted their ears.

Although they went through childhood without its normal naivety, they knew the rules for tag.

Due to that, they couldn’t understand her intentions at all.

Ilya watched the two perplexed people in satisfaction, continuing to speak.

“The range is the entire town of Lunéville. You run away, I look for you. If either of you two manage to keep away until nightfall, you will be acquitted. If you are caught, both of you will have to do what I say.”

“—”

Don’t f*ck with me.

Though he wanted to shout that, he did his best to suppress it.

“… Any other rules?”

“At the point in time you go out into Lunéville, please know that your lives are forfeit should you injure any citizen.”

Her expression hadn’t changed at all. This girl’s dangerous manner of speaking caused them to hold their breath.

“There are no additional rules. Please, any questions?”

Seeing the two react with silence, Ilya nodded.

“Well then, I’ll return to the branch. Feel free to take this time to leave.”

Ilya saw them off with a bow, leaving Bard dumbfounded.

It was good he was being underestimated. If she had any ulterior motives, he just had to overcome them.

“Katie. We will operate separately after leaving this warehouse. Focus on that woman, think only about staying away from her.”

“Got it.”

When Ilya’s presence was completely gone, Katie nodded at Bard. Carefully, the two quickly distanced themselves from the warehouse.


 

Though he thought that Ilya would go for them right from the start, it was later that afternoon before she actually left the branch.

Currently, Katie was hiding a distance away and could just barely sense Ilya’s presence and had kept her distance in order to secure her escape route. Bard was erasing his presence while concealed in a spot where he could see the branch, outwitting the premise of him running away. He was contriving to escape detection while shadowing the oni’s actions. [2]

Since it was early morning when Ilya went down to see them, half of the time had already passed.

(Is she planning on exhausting us mentally…?)

The anxious Bard didn’t look weary at all. He smiled, thinking it was unfortunate for her.

But in the next moment, Bard stopped smiling and immediately left as fast as he could.

(I-impossible!)

Ilya, who had just exited the branch’s staff entrance, uneventfully stopped for a moment and stared at Bard, beginning to walk straight towards him.

(Didn’t I erase my presence!?)

He reconfirmed his situation in a confused state of mind, but none of the citizens payed attention to Bard, not a single one.

Bard was running away at full speed thinking that Ilya was in pursuit, but there were no signs that she would catch up.

Since he was calming down thinking that he wouldn’t lose in leg strength, Bard started to search for a suitable position to watch for Ilya’s approach again.

Meanwhile, Katie was flustered.

(Eh…? She disappeared…!?)

When she left the group of presences… the branch, she lost track of the feeling.

Though Katie couldn’t sense presences down to breathing fluctuations like her partner, Bard, she couldn’t feel Ilya’s presence in the slightest.

With that, she was incredibly shaken.

(What do I do…)

Bard told her to devote herself to evading that presence.

She couldn’t find the presence. So now she had to run.

But where?

Based on what?

Her mind only able to think about finishing that thought, her body naturally didn’t move.

(What do I do…—)

A chill ran through her. Thinking was hopeless. Her head started to issue complaints from the problem continuing to make its rounds.

Katie couldn’t hold back a feeling she’d forgotten for a long time now, the feeling that she was [Caught].

“Be at ease, please rest for now.”

Sensing her presence and hearing a voice, it was without a doubt Ilya.

She was caught.

Immediately after realizing that, Katie lost her hold on consciousness without even seeing Ilya’s face.


 

Several hours after Katie lost.

Bard was completely exhausted.

Even though he hid himself while running away, Ilya slowly approached him no matter what he did.

Her walking never paused; she obviously knew where Bard was at all times.

(I can’t run away…)

At least, so long as he was inside Lunéville. As soon as he thought that—

“You’ve obviously slowed down. Are you becoming tired?”

Ilya, who should have been about as far away in the distance as to be as large as his thumb, was in front of him.

Did I black out?

Although Bard thought that for a moment, the positions of people around him had hardly changed.

(So I can’t win in speed either?)

Bard, who was standing still in a daze from realizing that, felt Ilya’s touch on his shoulder.

“Caught you.”

Bard looked at Ilya.

Although the elf girl’s smile was beautiful, she was more like a monster or demon.

Bard was drained of strength, losing his will to run away.

“Allow me to guide you to the inn Katie-san is resting at. Since the inn is also the branch’s lodging, please don’t do anything strange there okay?”

“… Like I have a choice.”

Obediently, he followed Ilya’s guidance.

In this way, Ilya’s first goal of determining their treatment was achieved, as well as her second goal of having them recognize the difference in their abilities.


 

The next day.

A man and woman standing in front of Ilya were wearing the branch’s uniform.

“… Hey, why do I have to wear something like this?”

“I thought it suited you nicely though? Don’t you think so too, Katie-san?”

“Un. Bard, it fits you.”

Praised by Katie, Bard seemed to lose himself a bit.

However, when he noticed Ilya looking at them, he immediately went back to scowling.

“… You really think we can do something like serve customers?”

“It’s not impossible and you can do it, so do it. You lost the game right?”

Bard held his tongue with that line.

Bard, who was a black panther beastkin, had black hair and tanned skin. His slim and tall figure’s muscles were moderately showing through the branch uniform that looked like butler clothing. Katie had soft black hair and was fair-skinned, and with her being a saluki-type dog beastkin, her ears hung down. Her black-based uniform provided a wonderful contrast with the white frills that swayed as she moved. [3]

The only thing that dissatisfied Ilya was that she was trained so that her tail wouldn’t react alongside her emotions.

(Such a waste.)

By having offered up more information on the Thieves Guild, their punishments were deferred. Though even if they were on parole, it was unclear how they would eventually deal with the two of them.

Ilya got Frank’s permission to meet them, but seeing that they didn’t kill themselves or do anything weird despite having their restraints undone, she once again judged that they weren’t brainwashed.

Accordingly, she suggested a game.

As for what Ilya, the winner, told the two to do? Of course, it was to work as staff for the branch.

“And so, you two will work here from now on. I’ll give you both manuals, so Bard-san, please learn reception duties from Luke. And Katie-san, please learn waitress duties from Ria.”

“Got it.”

“… Tch.”

She poked Bard in the forehead.

Even though she was suppressed by her equipment, if she put in a bit of effort it would be like being hit from a blunt weapon.

“Owww~…!”

“Take this lightly and I’ll seriously beat you up.”

“O-okay…”

Training at the start was important. Although she didn’t like violence—other than love taps on her enemies—she boasted to Frank beforehand that she would take responsibility, so she wouldn’t do this half-baked. Somehow or another, it seemed to be effective.

It was still early in the morning so there weren’t many guests coming in. It could be called the optimal time to learn their duties. Learning the basics of their job while the amount of people eating breakfast continued to increase, they would learn while following their surroundings. Nothing was to be left to chance.

… At least, nothing should have been.


 

“Bastard, say that again!”

“I’m saying, with you guys’ skills, this commission is waaay to dangerous for you!”

“O-oi, Bard-kun!”

Across from Bard was a group of five guild members. Luke’s restraint on him wasn’t effective either, so it turned into a head-on confrontation.

“… Haaah.”

“Pi?”

When Ilya moved while letting out a small sigh, Haku followed her without the least care in the world.

Although she also had trouble abandoning the subject out of care, she would subdue herself and give a clear cut attitude while working.

“The f*ck would a receptionist like you know!?”

“I said you’re in for a painful time if you take this li—”

“Could I have a moment, Bard-san?”

She addressed him with a sweet smiling face, but he quickly shut his mouth as though out of fear.

(That’s odd~. Even though I smiled normally.)

“Monster…”

“Aah!? Who are you to call Ilya a monster, bastard!!”

Everyone blinked towards Luke’s sudden anger, Ilya included. Let alone exhibiting anger, this was the first time he’d even shouted.

What brought that on?

(… Wait, not that!)

Coming back to her senses, she recovered her expression and asked the two.

“Could you explain what happened?”

“Ah, yeah. I looked at the commission chart he handed me and told him it was dangerous.”

“Oi, that’s not what you said! Don’t lie!”

Temporarily leaving the apology towards the exasperated customer to Luke, she checked the commission charts.

There were two of them, the first was for rondélocusts. Then, the second one was—

(A laoloa boar…)

She had seen its name in the registry relatively recently. In addition, the commission’s designated area was the same place too. The subjugation commission for the laoloa boars before was successful and their numbers should have decreased, but—

(I wonder if I should check to see if they are multiplying or not?)

A thought floating in the corner of her mind, she looked at the guild members that tried to accept it again. Their formation was one swordsman, two pugilists with one of the two having a chain technique skill, one mage, and an alchemist. [4]

“Bard-san. Please properly explain why you think it is dangerous.”

“A-ah? Nah, too troublesome.”

“Did you want to pick a fight? Or did you want to advise them?”

“…”

His silence meant that it was without a doubt the latter. Taking his gauche character into consideration, his way of speaking bluntly when giving advice would generally be due to embarrassment.

(… Is he a child!?)

While giving him a tsukkomi in her mind, she once again smiled outwardly. [5]

“If you were just picking a fight, will you accept the suitable punishment?”

“I-I get it! I’ll say it okay!? You guys… you fought against a locust-type or laoloa boar before?”

“Aah? ‘Course we have.”

“In the warrior examination.”

“Then, have you fought them together?”

“… No, but—”

(Bard-san, success.)

Convinced, Ilya was relieved.

“If you’ve fought locusts you know they have a toxin… you know that right? Laoloa boars have low toxin resistance, it infects their whole body very fast. It’s the same with the rondélocust… get it?”

“Ah…”

The two pugilists frowned. Though the other three were puzzled, they immediately frowned when they also figured out what he meant.

“It’s not a problem if you hunt ’em separately. But if you encounter them together and the boar is infected?”

At a time like that, a laoloa boar would probably be enraged. It was a terrifying condition where you’d have to keep running until it loses sight of you or you kill it (or until you yourself die). You’d be afflicted by the toxin if you weren’t careful.

Rear guard mages were good still. Though its body fluids would spread if its cut by the swordsman and the pugilists would have to hit it directly. If they touched its body or blood that was infected by the toxin, they would probably only hold on for a few seconds with their resistances.

Could they defend their comrades while fighting a group of enemies infected with the toxin?

Seeing them, Bard had judged it to be difficult. That’s why he advised it was dangerous.

“… What’ll we do?”

They were also beginning to worry.

Especially the pugilists that had particularly high levels, their other comrades seemed to be avoiding saying anything direct.

Ilya decided to ask Bard a question to advance the conversation.

“Well, what does Bard-san think they should do?”

“Huh?”

“It’s not advice unless you give a suggestion. You shouldn’t just say it’s impossible to people alright?”

“Even if you say that…”

Bard brooded over it, but couldn’t easily reach a conclusion.

Luke, who had been watching the situation progress from the side, opened his mouth after being unable to endure any longer.

“You could also bring someone from the Magic Guild, how about trying to have your main offense be magic?”

When Luke spoke, the five just looked at each other awkwardly.

Although mages belonged to the Magic Guild, their ability varied widely. Mages that were able to kill a lot of things even with low class magic like Lula and York were rare, and it was unusual for excellent practitioners to join a faction to begin with.

Even without being able to distinguish ability like Ilya, you could roughly predict how capable a mage travelling with a group of warriors was.

“But my magic isn’t that strong.”

Luke wasn’t perturbed by his confession. On the contrary, he smiled to relieve them.

“By prioritizing safety over efficiency, you can do it with either a large or small power. Even with a moderate power, you can defeat it if you shoot several.”

“Well, more or less.”

“Even if you could defeat one, isn’t it your end if other ones showed up?

“Does everyone know how the boars chase after foreign invaders?”

“With their legs… wait, that’s not it. Isn’t it with their eyes?”

“Though they do of course ultimately find their enemies by their eyesight, in general, boar-types living in forests have poor eyesight. They are unable to search for enemies while running like carnivores are able to. They use their protruding snouts to search for their enemy’s smell, chasing after the scent. Due to that, I recommend everyone to use a sachet or perfume. [6]

“So that disturbs the scent huh?”

Understanding that they needed more experience, the group of five devised a strategy.

If they were the standard party, they would put something that had a stronger smell than themselves in bags or the like to use as decoys. If they left it on a tree they could even likely come out of it without taking damage at all.

However, they had an alchemist with them. Ilya knew that he could only grow plants, but he could improvise by making a trap by growing thorn-like branches on a tree and placing the scent there or something like that. She also expected that setting up a bundle of vines in the shape of a person at a cliff or waterside would be effective enough.

Of course, she wouldn’t go so far as to interrupt their conversation. It was probably enough with just Luke’s advice this time.

“Prepare your stuff at a tool shop. If you do that, I got no complaints about you accepting the commission.”

“… Please remember about the rondélocusts as well.”

“We get it.”

While receiving Luke’s support, Bard falteringly completed registering that they accepted.

Seeing off the group of five leaving in high spirits as though they’d already forgotten about the quarrel, Bard felt relieved.

“… You… helped me. Reception work is hard too, heh.”

“That’s right. That just now was second-hand information though.”

“It was? Did the Branch Manager say it?”

“No no, Ilya did. Most of what I just said, she said beforehand.”

He looked towards Ilya with a sour expression.

(… I wonder if he dislikes me that much?)

Though it wasn’t like she felt Luke didn’t have to give out her name, she felt a bit unpleasant that her attempt at modesty was denied.

“Whether or not they’ll be able to put the information to use is up to them. Bard-san could also learn various things from Luke, too.”

His shady-looking face had eventually gone away, but this time Bard straightened his posture without any of his rebellious attitude.

As for Katie, who was still carrying trays timidly, Ilya merely wanted her to acquire and improve her skills.

(From the looks of it, Bard-san is predicting what commission people will bring over to accept.)

And he would check over the raw materials upon a subjugation’s completion.

Just that was plenty enough of a change, he was likely striving to improve.

Ilya, who was returning to the counter while thinking so, locked gazes with a person who came into the branch.

“Morning. Is Frank in?”

As for who went towards the counter, it was Hector, the lord.

“Good morning. I think he is in his room right now, should I call for him?”

“Yeah, thanks. Could we use the parlor?”

“Yes. This way, please.”

Holding Haku, Ilya went up to the third floor accompanied by Hector.

“Those were the people you mentioned at the counter?”

“Yes. I had them help starting today.”

“I believe it’ll be fine since it was your decision… but busy waiters aside, was it necessary for him to be at the reception desk?”

“Of course.”

The reason she proposed to hire them wasn’t just for their sake.

“I expect that there will be more commissions from now on, I’m preparing for it.”

“More commissions? The construction work?”

“… It’s not unrelated to that, at least.”

Ilya held her tongue, not saying anything further.

She couldn’t disclose information that no one other than her knew. That was one of the bans she’d imposed on herself. She couldn’t tell them the cause of there being more monsters. Still, knowing what the outcome this time would be, she would make sure to ambiguously tell them to prepare.

“… Is that so. The Elves’ Precepts are troublesome.”

“They are… I’m sorry.”

Though there really were things called the Elves’ Precepts, in truth they held no influence. They were just used to cover over the elves’ behaviors as they weren’t concerned with other races.

The restoration magic used to treat the beastkin group attacked by Bard, as well as things like their knowledge of seasonings, were hidden by the elves’ wit.

The elven race was an intelligent one, widely known as having insular personalities. No one would even hold a doubt to her lie.

“Frank-san, good morning. Hector-sama is here to see you.”

“… Morning, Ilya. Haku too.”

“Pi!”

After that, she prepared black tea for them in the parlor and tried to run away. However—

“Ah, it’d help if Ilya stayed to listen as well.”

“… Certainly.”

Like the time before, she wasn’t able to get away this time either. Although they were her superior’s orders, she felt it wrong for a mere receptionist like her to be present in such an important conversation.

(Even though I’m not something like Frank-san’s butler or secretary…)

Their conversation primarily comprised of the construction work’s progress and the cost of hiring people for additional construction. Another thing was guards for an investigation around Lunéville to study the monsters.

Monsters were a threat to all races, all nations would cooperate in studying their ecologies and capabilities… Be that as it may, they wouldn’t release all of the information regarding their ecologies to those who weren’t their allies. This lead to the present state of going to a guild for information regarding a monster’s capabilities for practically any subjugation.

Though you may think that each nations’ research facilities would feel ashamed from it, they probably didn’t want to compromise their position. It was just better that they weren’t disseminating strange information with empty theories.

When their business talk ended, the two proceeded into small talk.

Even though Hector and Frank weren’t direct acquaintances, their careers held things in common. A lot of places other than Rondéville came up in their talk.

Since Hector built up a considerable amount of stress every day in the royal capital, he was more talkative than usual.

Ilya was doting on Haku since she thought it would be boorish to interrupt their conversation when there was a knock at the door.

Ilya walked over and opened the door. Coming into sight, Ria bowed.

“Frank-san. Aryune’s mayor is here to see you. Should I ask him to wait on the second floor’s private room?”

“Did you hear his business for coming?”

“He said it was about monster subjugation.”

“… If it’s alright, I’d like to attend as well. Do you mind?”

Receiving Hector’s proposal, Ria left to guide Aryune’s village head to the parlor.

Ilya stayed as though it were natural.

(Either way would be fine though.)

She would likely hear about it afterwards if it’s about a commission.

Thinking to herself, Ilya made some black tea for the village mayor as well and moved to wait behind Frank.

Taking the signal, the village mayor started talking falteringly.

“Branch Manager-dono. Do you know about the presence of monsters surrounding my village recently?”

“Yeah. We received a subjugation commission for that, and if I recall it was registered as accepted at our reception desk.”

“… Yes. Though that is true…”

Frank and Hector each frowned at his vague behavior.

However, if what he was hesitating to say was what Ilya expected, it would be a difficult situation for the two. Judging so, Ilya helped.

“Did the same kind of monster reappear?”

“—! You knew?”

“No, it simply felt that would be something difficult for you to speak about. Should we put out an emergency commission?”

“Well, that’s…”

The village mayor looked down again.

(Well, I understand what he wants to say.)

“Though I tried to put together the funds from the village to put out a commission…”

“There are those who doubt that they were hunted at all the previous time?”

“—… Yes.”

There were few monsters in the Lunéville region. If the same kind of monster reappeared so soon, it might not have been hunted at all. It was reasonable that people might think that and harbor doubts.

Even though it was impossible to deceive the amount subjugated in the subjugation book’s system, there was a possibility that the Guild Association could be suspected of pocketing money.

“Then, this time we will show proof they were hunted. As soon as you consent, how about we pay the intermediary fee and commission reward?”

“Is that alright!?”

As for who the village mayor was looking to, it was Frank, the branch manager, and not Ilya, the one who proposed it.

Though that was natural when you took their positions into account, his reaction was something not seen that often in this town and was something fresh to relish.

“… We’ll handle it as a special case.”

“Thank you!”

After the village mayor signed the commission chart created after that and left, Ilya was asked for an explanation by Frank.

“The problem didn’t look to be enough to go that far for though?”

“Treat it like a sort of investment for the future. When the amount of monsters increase from here on, there will be more damage if there are people who are unwilling to pay for commissions from them holding distrust towards the guild.”

The two agreed with her.

However, Hector still hesitated.

“Still though, you think there’s going to be more monsters in the future?”

“… It’s likely, at least. The village may have trouble bearing it. You might want to think about some countermeasures, such as increasing taxes or taking a loan.”

“To go that far…”

Frank wore a serious look.

(Ah, oops. Did I say too much?)

Without changing her behavior or tone, she continued to explain to the two as though it weren’t something to be too concerned about.

“There’s no downside to being prepared, I think it’s fine so long as you keep it in mind.”

“… Understood.”

Though Ilya was trying to avoid fanning the flames of anxiety as much as she could—

(It’s better than making it worse.)

She decided to think positively.


 

This was the first time Katie had a respectable job and it was hectic enough that she felt dizzy.

In the morning, she woke up before the sun rose. She took a shower and dressed herself while fighting her drowsiness.

Walking from the inn she was lodging at with unsteady feet, she walked in from the staff entrance. The office appeared in front of her.

“Ah, morning Katie.”

“… Morning.”

“Morning-san~… you look sleepy. Don’t fall asleep while standing and drop the dishes okay?”

“I’m alright… I think.”

Coming out of the office, Katie headed into the dressing room beyond it.

Though she was confident in her endurance, she wasn’t accustomed to living a normal life among a group of people and was more exhausted than she’d expected.

There was also a mental source for her fatigue as well.

For instance, that interaction with Desiree and Claude from a moment before.

She wondered if they knew what she did.

She felt guilty from deceiving them if they didn’t know, and she couldn’t understand their accepting behaviors if they did.

She couldn’t deal with her own feelings and couldn’t figure out a solution.

Even so, the reason she was reporting to work without running away was because of the order Ilya gave her.

Arriving at the locker with her name written on it in the changing room, Katie started changing into her uniform.

“Ah, Katie. Morning~”

“Morning, Ria.”

Her change of clothes laying limply next to her, Ria promptly put on her uniform.

Katie was troubled by being unable to get the string on the lower back through that well when it suddenly disappeared from her hold.

As she was trying to somehow turn around to see her back, Ria bent forward to help.

“Hold still a second.”

Probably due to her lack of sleep, her ability to concentrate had fallen so low that she didn’t notice that Ria had moved behind her.

“Alright, it’s done.”

Katie bowed to Ria, who was wearing a gleeful smile.

“I’m sorry.”

“Huh? It’s fine it’s fine. The uniform is cute, but I had trouble at first too. You don’t have to say thanks.”

“That… so? Got it.”

Next to Katie who was blinking her eyes, Ria closed her locker and headed to the office.


 

“Nee-chan, my order?”

“Coming.”

“Katie-chan, can you get the next one?”

“Y-yes.”

“Katie, take empty plates away if you see them while taking orders.”

“G-got it.”

“Katie—! Take this to table three—”

Going this way and that, she was kept busy.

So busy that she felt dizzy, she couldn’t find room to doze off.

 

 

 

 

If there was something close to relief for her, that would probably be her lunch and two breaks.

Fatigue dampens appetite if it’s in excess, but you would need the power of magic to forget about eating the branch’s cooking after eating it once.

“But you know Jimmy-san? Looks like he’s looking to woo Ninonne.”

“Aaa~h. My condolences…”

“He’s looking at Ninonne-san even though it’d make his wife cry.”

“Wooow…”

There was gossip being exchanged during their break in the office, but the only one who was uninterested was Katie.

Even she didn’t know what kinds of conversations she would be interested in to begin with. Though she was struggling serving tables, it didn’t look like the office staff had it any easier.

“Katie, good work today. Elizah’s already arrived, you can finish up.”

“Got it.”

The branch’s waiters worked in three time slots, morning to evening, noon to night, and evening to night. Katie still wasn’t entrusted with the busiest time slot of evening to night.

When she changed her clothes in the dressing room, a voice called out to Katie from the office.

“Good work today. Ilya said she would prepare a meal for you, do you want to eat?”

“Un. I’ll eat.”

Unhesitatingly agreeing, she would eat anything made by Ilya with relish.

Katie had returned to her inn after forgetting about her fatigue due to the satisfaction of her full stomach, but it surged back again as soon as she entered her room. She rushed to bed without showering.

Then, she realized it was the next day.

After that, she repeated a similar day again.

In an unchanging daily life, she worked without being able to calm her mind.

She wasn’t dissatisfied. She even felt she was lucky.

Waking up early to shower.

Heading to the branch and changing into her uniform.

Waiting on tables and taking her breaks.

She finished her work and slept like a log.

But with every day like that, dregs accumulated in her heart and mind.


 

“Well, with today, your training is finished. You did well.”

“Eh…?”

As for what the end of her training period entailed, she would lose Ria’s assistance. Seeing Katie’s pale face, Ria smiled wryly.

“It’ll be fine even if you don’t worry about it. I’ll be in the dining hall too, just do what you’ve been doing.”

“G-got it…”

What she’d been doing.

Guide guests to their seats as they arrive, give their table order menus, pass the order on to the kitchen… Katie repeated it in her head to memorize it.

“Welcome.”

Coming to her senses from Ria’s voice, her body panicked in response.

“Katie, what’s today’s set menu?”

(What I’ve been doing.)

“Sorry, could you take these plates?”

(What I’ve been doing.)

“Another helping sounds good.”

(What I’ve been doing.)

“Ah, you, a moment?”

“I’d like to ooorder.”

(What I’ve…)

“Katie——”

“Ah——”

“——”

(What I…)

“—”

“—”

There was the sound of something cracking. Katie looked down, glass had shattered directly below her.

“—ie! Katie! Are you alright!?”

“Eh…?”

In front of Katie, whose consciousness returned by being shaken, was Ria looking at her in worry. Then, she realized everyone around her was focusing on her as well.

“Alright? I’m not… injured.”

Ria exhaled in relief while Katie looked at her in a daze.

However, Ria frowned in the next moment as Katie’s body stiffened.

Although the atmosphere was quite different, Katie recognized their expressions.

They wore the expression of an adult just before they fired off angry shouts.

What they said if she disobeyed just a little.

What they said if she couldn’t diligently do something.

When adults raised their voices, she would be beaten.

If she let out a voice she would be beaten all the more.

They would beat her if she begged them to stop.

She didn’t want to be beaten, she didn’t want pain, so she would frantically do as she was told.

Even if she was no longer beaten, she recalled the pain just by seeing others being beaten and would freeze from just hearing the sound. After she realized there weren’t any children that couldn’t do things they were told, she struggled in desperation.

As for how she had managed to live thus far, that was because of Bard.

While hiding it from the adults, only her companion would come to cheer her up. It saved her.

Even that was something very small, like a spider’s thread.

Even though she survived and became an outstanding assassin, she wasn’t able to easily dispel her past trauma.

She made a mistake.

She was beaten.

She didn’t want the pain.

She did what she was told.

So please, don’t beat her.

Don’t kill her—

However, the words put to her made her tremble.

“Come on! If you aren’t well, take a rest!”

“Eh—…?”

She didn’t expect it.

Katie was unable to understand what she was told and was forcibly pulled by Ria.

As for where she was taken, it was the break room next to the assessment room. She was made to sit on the leather sofa, still in a daze.

“That’s enough for today. The dining hall will be alright. Ilya arrived.”

Though it would have been hard to deal with if two people left, there was no problem with Ilya there.

To be followed up by the person she didn’t want to know of her mistake the most, Katie’s expression darkened.

“Are you tired?”

Hearing Ria’s question, Katie raised her head that was hanging in shame, but immediately lowered to gaze.

Sensing Katie’s inner thoughts, Ria spoke cheerfully in a panic.

“You’ve been taking quite a few consecutive shifts after all. I’m sorry for not noticing even though you’re so tired.”

“N-no…”

Katie grew flustered by Ria’s apology.

“I’m not helpful, sorry…”

“It’s nothing like that!”

With her strong denial, Katie was at a loss from her unexpected reaction. She didn’t understand why Ria would assert it so strongly.

“We’ve been helped so much by Katie coming here you know? Bard too of course.”

Katie returned with an expression that seemed to say she didn’t know. Ria smiled back.

“There’s been more people, and because it’s come to the point where we’re exchanging our breaks for shifts, you’ve been a huge help… Though even if I said that, it seems Katie’s been unreasonably overworked huh?”

“My endurance… there’s no problem.”

“Really?”

When she nodded while looking straight at her, Ria nodded in assent.

“At any rate, Katie coming here has saved us.”

She would remember that.

Ria spent the rest of the break changing the topic to gossip.

Then, when Katie decided to return to the dining hall after her break, Ilya came in after being swapped with.

There was a porcelain cup on a saucer in her hand, a vivid red transparent glass teapot in the other.

Although Katie tried to apologize—

“… …”

“How are you feeling?”

“… … I’m fine.”

She wasn’t able to speak that well. In the end, Ilya spoke first.

Despite scarcely having an expression, Katie seemed uncomfortable.

“Your schedule originally had a rest day tomorrow, but how about one for the following day as well?”

“Eh…?”

“I’ve worked consecutive shifts before. Though being able to only give you two consecutive rest days is shameful.”

Although Ilya was smiling bitterly as though she were trying to cover up embarrassment, Katie on the other hand was surprised. Two consecutive rest days. Guessing what those words meant, she was puzzled.

“… I’m not fired…?”

“Just that much isn’t enough to fire someone.”

“But… I—”

“Katie.”

She interrupted her pessimistic thought.

“Everyone fails. Even Ria, even Cynthia, even Elizah, we’ve all failed.”

“… … Ilya too?”

“Of course.”

Ilya answered without changing her expression.

“It might have been different before you were in the guild, but you just need to try again if you fail.”

She just needed to try again.

Those words were said easily, but they were hard to take in.

Ilya somehow felt that Katie’s blank gaze stirred. She was staring straight at the teapot and cup placed on the table.

“If you fail, what did you fail doing… if you don’t think about it, won’t you be setting yourself up for it happening again in the future?”

That certainly might be true. She had no confidence that she could do it, and though she didn’t agree to it, she didn’t deny it either.

Taking her smile as though it said plenty enough, Ilya continued speaking.

“If failure was the end, your chances of growing up would just be wasted. Even if you’re fired to teach you a lesson, it would just have the opposite effect from what was intended by making you be nervous about failing.”

Even if she failed, that wasn’t the end. Katie’s chest tightened.

Seeing her expression, Ilya changed the subject.

“This is the problem.”

“… Eh?”

She was perplexed by her somewhat cheerful voice.

“This time, why did Katie fail?”

“T-that’s… why?”

“Let me hear it.”

Her tone and expression were both gentle. However, Katie felt as though her path of retreat was cut off.

Why?

While she thought, it felt like her back was crawling.

She wanted to stop thinking, but then she wouldn’t be able to answer her.

Katie was rushing.

(If I don’t answer…)

Rushing.

But unable to respond. Rushing more and more.

Just as she’d fallen into a vicious cycle—

“Alright, stop there.”

She calmed down by hearing Ilya’s voice right in front of her.

She was directly in front of her nose. Close enough that she could see her own reflection in Ilya’s blue eyes.

“How about I change the question? What work did you do today?”

“Serve tables…”

It seemed as though her question was answered. Moving away, Ilya continued with her questions.

“Was today’s work tough?”

“…”

Hesitating a slight bit, Katie nodded.

“I see. Were you tired?”

“That’s… a little, maybe…”

“From the continuous shifts? Consider taking less shifts then.”

“… Can I?”

While meager, Katie didn’t hide her surprise. Ilya laughed, “Of course.”

“Think about that later… For now, wasn’t there another cause that made you a bit tired?”

“… As usual, I couldn’t do it…”

Katie could usually do something if it was pointed out to her.

That much was clear from Ria and the others’ help. However, she wouldn’t be able to adapt unless she learned to do it on her own.

If you couldn’t figure something out by yourself, you wouldn’t be able to handle unexpected situations. But there was a way to fix the problem.

“… What do you mean by that?”

“That’s… when I get told to do so many things all at once, I don’t know which to do…”

By working while being confused after that happening, she’d suddenly just lose control.

Katie’s voice was small, like she were confessing a crime.

Still, that much was enough. She properly answered.

“At times like that, what did Ria and the others do?”

“Come to me, and ask… me.”

While she answered, Katie hung her head even further.

“Well then, do that next time.”

“…!”

Ilya smiled at Katie, who looked up.

“If you don’t know what to do, it’s not that hard to find it out. Take a deep breath, then try to think of how other people handled it. If you still don’t know, ask for them to wait a moment and ask someone else.”

She clasped Katie’s hands.

“To avoid failing, try again.”

“Again…”

Katie murmured.

“Right, failure isn’t the end. Just make use of the mistake and try again.”

Ilya looked straight at her. Seeing Katie look back at her, she slowly let go of her hands.

“But you know, it’s better to not fail right?”

“… Un.”

“Try and look to see what the other staff do when they don’t have any hands free for guests.”

“Others…?”

“Right, look to them. Watch and study what they do at those times.”

This wasn’t written in the manual, and Ria had forgotten to teach her this as well.

At any rate, what Ilya was saying right now was something not unlike what parents told their children. To someone who hadn’t learned it… or rather, to Katie who had been made to forget, expecting for her to learn so quickly would be unfair.

Could she do it?

Towards Katie’s uneasy expression, Ilya smiled.

“It’s alright. Bard-san isn’t your only friend. Everyone here will help you.”

“… Un.”

Her consent was rushed, but Katie didn’t take it back.

The next day, and the day after that as well, Katie visited the branch despite them being her vacation days.

Of course, her purpose was to watch how the staff worked.

Katie watched them, trying to learn. She discovered various things.

For instance, the day’s break times.

Claude and Desiree spoke to each other casually.

She’d often seen the two chatting with each other while working.

However, now that she took a closer look, their hands didn’t stop working at all despite them chatting.

When she understood, she felt ashamed for thinking the office work was easy.

To her, it was a world she hadn’t seen.

Katie, who changed her perception of them, started to see the others more positively after seeing their great efforts.

Their industrious appearances were pleasant, too. Not only the spontaneity of the staff, but the people that came in as guests and cooperated with them too.

Then she noticed. When she looked around, her surroundings were brimming with smiling faces.

Smiles containing lust. Smiles stemming from an appeased greed. Smiles of those who tease the weak. All of the smiles she’d seen up to now had brought shivers to her mind and body.

But the smiles here were different.

She didn’t feel a chill from them, they were smiles that calmed her mind.

“Thank you.”

The voices that hung in the air from leaving patrons, their smiling faces, Katie didn’t know how to reciprocate them.

“Thank you, very much.”

So she bowed as she usually would to leave.

But this time, just barely, the corners of her mouth… had lifted a little.

Let alone her bustling surroundings, it was such a small change that she herself hadn’t even noticed.

Before long, the bustling branch, as well as her bewilderment from some time before, were gone.

In an unchanging daily life, she worked without being able to calm her mind.

But now, the steps of the woman leaving the inn she used as lodgings as she walked towards an awfully imposing building… were happy ones.


 

On the afternoon of a certain day. Bard was in the third floor’s office.

The reason why his expression was obstinate as he sat on the leather chair was because Frank was sitting in front of him.

He was being thoroughly beat down.

However, the cause of this heavy feeling was Frank’s duty as head of the Lunéville branch.

Frank put the paper he held in his hands down on the table.

“Do you have any justifications this time?”

“… No, none.”

If one were to talk about height, Bard was taller. However, right now his figure seemed even smaller than Frank.

“Bard. This failure of yours endangered people losing confidence in not only the branch, but the association as a whole. No matter how much effort we make, we cannot recover that once it is lost. Am I understood?”

“… Yes.”

The other day, Bard committed a grave mistake.

While registering a commission when the branch was packed, in a rush, Bard misunderstood and ended a registration before it was finished, returning the registration cards and commission chart.

Today, this came to light. The commission completion request could not be processed by the registration book. When the problem was looked into, the mistake was detected.

And thus the office staff were in a panic.

If a completion wasn’t registered and someone received the commission in another location, the great efforts of the guild members that came to report completions would be wasted.

As a result of their swift examination of the problem, since the commission hadn’t yet been accepted in other locations, they somehow managed to avoid much trouble. However, in the case that a commission is accepted at the same time as it has been registered as complete, it is necessary to make a report that summarizes the reason in order to prevent fraud.

Since it was a serious matter this time, Frank would prepare the report himself as the branch manager.

It’s not like Bard didn’t understand that he was being covered by his superior.

However, he wasn’t satisfied either.

Because the presence of whether or not something is registered was on the registration card as well, guild members that have accepted a commission aren’t responsible for their negligence at all.

So even though Bard’s mistake could be summed up as primarily due to his inexperience, one of the primary factors was also the expectations Ilya placed on him.

Bard, whose concentration dulls when in crowded situations, couldn’t properly asses guild members’ abilities that well. And so, unable to predict the results, took extra time.

Guild members would get irritated by that and rush him.

In his haste, Bard would often return registration cards and commission charts without verifying them.

Bard thought that Ilya said too many unnecessary things, but that simply showed his immaturity. Therefore, Bard obediently admitted his failure.

Seeing him like this, Frank nodded in understanding and reclined against the back of the chair, giving all his body weight to it.

“So then, what will you take care to do in the future?”

“… Verify them properly.”

“Entirely confirm its registration. And?”

“Properly concentrate on my work.”

“Alright, if you can properly do those two things, you probably won’t make the same mistake again. If you don’t forget about this failure, you’re likely to never do it again and grow more used to it in the future.”

Although his tone was gentle, his gaze was harsh. Because even if this was something minor this time, Bard was made to understand that that wouldn’t always be the case.

However, Bard had no intention of exposing such a miserable side of himself again.

Gritting his teeth, he somehow managed to endure Frank’s gaze.

“… Sorry.”

And bowed.

“Alright. Take care. You can go back.”

“… Eh? Oh, yes.”

After replying, Frank’s attitude immediately took a one eighty as though he lost interest. Unable to keep up, Bard responded cautiously.

“… There’s… no punishment?”

“You properly reflected on your actions. Of course, if you continue to make mistakes you’ll be sorry.”

Even if he took it as a joke, this wasn’t the kind of situation where the other person could laugh it off.

Unable to understand not being punished for failing, Bard was puzzled.

Frank looked up from the report he was trying to write, smiling at Bard. More so than feeling kind, his smile felt reliable.

“Clerks, receptionists, waiters and waitresses, cooks… even though the branch exists because of them, why do you think the branch manager exists?”

“… To keep them in line, right?”

While saying that, he realized it wasn’t a correct answer.

“Well, that’s half right. To take responsibility for them, that’s the other half.”

“Responsibility?”

Bard couldn’t understand. In the thieves guild he used to be in, the responsibility for failure would always land on the person themselves. No superior would stand in for their subordinates’ failures.

For taking responsibility, the closest parallel would be people pushing their failures onto their subordinates.

However, Frank’s words were implying that superiors should sacrifice themselves and take responsibility. It was the complete opposite idea.

“The world isn’t just the thieves guild. They desire power to obsess over gaining more power. However, it’s normally different. One holds power for the sake of taking responsibility. Not just you, I will take responsibility for everyone’s sake… Even though I say that, there are a lot of people that attempt to abuse their positions and line their pockets with the hard work of others.”

Although Frank spoke with a wry smile near the end, his eyes were sharp as though to express his immense willpower.

Responsibility. For Bard, this was something he had only for himself.

However, would he take responsibility if Katie died?

Recalling the thing from the other day, Bard once again realized the weight of his actions.

This was something that he had absolutely never been self-aware of before when he was full of pride for his abilities.

“There’s no point in giving you something like a sermon. Just go to the office to apologize and thank them, properly alright?”

“… Got it.”

With a small bow of his head, Bard left.

“… Next is his language huh.”

Not quite catching the mumble, Bard descended to the second floor, continuing down to the first floor and quickly passing through the kitchen.

Without entering the reception desk, Bard, who had come in front of the office door, stopped for a moment with his hand raised slightly reaching for the door. He took a deep breath and sighed before slowly opening it.

Gazes focused on Bard. Although Bard normally didn’t pay it much attention, this time it felt like he was being overwhelmed with guilt.

“Oooh? Whatever could the matter be~?”

Claude came with a smile. Seeing that he was jesting, he most likely sensed Bard’s feelings of guilt.

Although Bard almost glared back on reflex, he held back his childish irritation and bowed to not just Claude, but Desiree as well.

“… For giving you trouble, I’m sorry… And, you… saved me.”

“It was nothing.”

“Take care next time okay?”

They blamed him. Or maybe they were ridiculing him. He thought that, but the two were smiling.

Nothing about the way they looked implied derision, nor was there any sarcasm.

“It was nothing this time anyways. You apologized properly and showed your gratitude, so we’re even.”

“You understood everything Frank-san said right?”

“Y-yeah…”

“Then in that case, there’s nothing else for us to say. Do your best.”

Saying that, the two of them returned to their work. Bard was dumbstruck. Did Claude know what was said?

“If you’re still regretting it, hang out with us after this.”

“… Huh?”

Claude grinned with a laugh seeing Bard’s questioning face.

“You drink, right? Sa-ke.”


 

When it stops functioning as a branch, the dining room’s atmosphere becomes completely like a bar’s.

In the second floor’s private room, Claude, Bard, and Desiree were opening some sake.

“”Cheeeeeers!””

“… Cheers.”

Claude and Desiree chugged down some of the ice cold beer, and while the two were letting out some of their tension, Bard lifted up his mug. Seeing the way he looked, Claude grinned.

“Nervous since it’s two to one?”

“… Huh?”

“Wasn’t it the same when you were at reception? Today.”

He was urging him on. He couldn’t let it slide even though he knew it, so he gulped down his mug in one go.

Claude let out a strong voice of admiration and Desire stood up and applauded him.

Bard, who slammed his mug down on the table as though to say something, felt great. Desiree filled Bard’s mug back up.

Like this, it didn’t take long for him to get hammered. It didn’t take long at all.

“So, hey. You getting used to the branch?”

Claude asked while sticking some snack into his mouth.

“How cood I!”

Though he definitely replied with a negative, his expression didn’t look unpleasant.

“I can’t doooooo it! Hate gettin’ emplooood… the heck’s with thaaat!”

“I don’t think Ilya-chan is a child that would employ someone without thinking about it~”

With a bit of red showing on her cheeks from the alcohol, Desiree spoke with a smile as she drank more fruit wine.

“Thas’ wat ya all say! Always with the smilin’… I’m jus’ tryin’ to live!”

“Well, we’re definitely easygoing.”

Claude agreed.

“The people in this town are all like that.”

“… Sheee?”

Smiling wryly to Bard, who was agreeing in a pout, Claude continued.

“Easygoing, gentle, warm. That’s why everyone can smile. Do you dislike that?”

“…”

He didn’t hate it. However, he envied it.

He couldn’t get it himself. This branch’s members had the thing he couldn’t get, and he envied this town’s citizens.

Although he should be able to join them, he just couldn’t. It was painful.

“Even you could do it too you know?”

“… S’no use.”

Bard looked down to the table.

After all, he was a murderer.

In addition to that, even when he saw Katie break, he was a man that didn’t question his way of life.

It was thanks to Ilya that they could be in the branch, it wasn’t something they did at all. That didn’t mean he wouldn’t do something though.

A wall made of guilt. Before he realized, Bard parted with his consciousness.

“… Oh, he fell asleep.”

Desiree tried pulling on Bard’s ear, but there was no reaction.

While minding the sleeper, Desiree turned her half-open eyes to Claude.

“He drank too much.”

“Eeeh. But you’ve just been egging him on.”

“Well~ now~, maybe he’s a bit weaker than expected?”

“I thought he’d say a bit more though~”

Him saying things would be an indirect improvement even if he didn’t remember due to the sake, or just a plain improvement if he did.

Although that was those two’s plan, it didn’t go that well.

“That aside, these appetizers Ilya made are just evil!”

“Cooome to think of it, those are all gone. How about getting some more?”

“I’ll get some sake too! Ah, toilet first!”

“Make sure you get there, alright?”

“I know.”

Giving that simple response to Desiree, Claude headed for the first floor.

The first floor’s dining room was overflowing with liveliness and smiles.

Recalling the scene of how dead the branch used to be, Claude stored Bard’s wry smile as he complained in his memory and collected some more sake.

He might pretend to be depressed, but he expected that he’d open up soon enough if it was left to Desiree.

He returned to the second floor at a quick pace.


 

As time passed on by, Lunéville was building itself up as a new inn town.

The highway servicing also progressed, and people like carpenters that worked on inn construction, merchants that aimed at selling off various goods, and blacksmiths from the industry guild each came from all directions one after another to Lunéville.

Everyone expected the association branch’s dining hall and kitchen to get even busier, but it didn’t end at just that.

“The registration has been completed. Good luck.”

Bard was bowing courteously, holding the commission chart out without wasting any time.

“Don’tcha look like the proper receptionist?”

“Thank you. Please present your registration cards.”

Before him was the group of five that he’d registered the acceptance of a commission from before. Receiving their presented registration cards, he began the registration. His hand movements were no longer awkward.

“But there’s really a ton of commissions huh. There’s even talk about about there being more monsters, seriously.”

“Yeah. We can manage to hunt them though.”

Luke was out on break, so Ilya and Bard were at the reception currently.

“Pi.”

Ilya noticed the registration’s completion due to Haku’s voice, passing the guild members back their registration cards and the commission chart over the counter.

“The registration has been completed. Good luck.”

“Yeah. Cya, Ilya-chan.”

“I’ll come again~”

“We’ll be waiting.”

Just as she bowed to see the group of mercenaries off, another commission chart was presented to her.

Guiding commission applicants to the parlor if they came, she would immediately create a commission chart while cooperating with the office workers. Receiving completion bonuses together with signatures, she would post the commission tickets onto the bulletin board. Additionally, she would also take turns helping the waiters and kitchen staff when needed.

Lately, Ilya has spent every day being very busy.

“Ilya, Ellie started their break, go back to the dining room if Luke comes back.”

“Understood. Katie, do your best a bit longer.”

“Un. Work hard.”

Although her tone remained same as usual, Katie’s expressions had become bountiful. Both of the two had grown quite well thus far.

Some time later after she finished several acceptance registrations, Hector arrived in the branch with a strange group.

The men who walked in behind him were each wearing coats that resembled a doctor’s, with emblems signifying they were on a research delegation sewn on their chests.

Even in this world where various cultures mixed, their appearances reflected the differences. Although they didn’t stand out, because they walked ostentatiously, the general public’s impression of them was the worst.

“We’ve been expecting you. For the matter regarding the delegation’s guards, I am instructed by the branch manager to guide you to the parlor.”

“Yes, please.”

However, at that moment, someone from the delegation raised their voice.

“Ooh! So there being a young dragon here was true!”

A human male ran up to Haku, hoisting his small body up.

“Pi?”

“Blue eyes and white skin…! I’ve never seen a dragon like this before!”

“Mansel-dono, right now is…”

“So fussy! There’s a monster right in front of me and you don’t want me to do anything, what other reason is this research delegation here for!?”

The delegation leader, Effy Mansel, talked over Hector’s statement with force.

Meanwhile, Ilya looked at Mansel coldly as she understood his other meaning.

(This guy, what did he just say?)

Knowing that this country’s research institutions thought of dragons as monsters, she was amazed at how low-level they were.

“P-pi!”

“Such a rare specimen… just how much could we research it!”

She took Haku back from Mansel. If Haku was left with that man and went into a rage from disliking the way he was being treated, even just his tail would certainly fracture the bone if it struck the indoor-prone person’s arm. He didn’t know that Ilya just saved him, but there was no reason for him to be hostile towards her.

However, Mansel’s smile coarsened when he looked at Ilya.

“So the dragon’s owner truly was an elf.”

“Is something wrong with that?”

“It’s nothing, I don’t mind if it’s a beastkin or anything. So, how much?”

“… I don’t quite understand your meaning.”

Bard included, several people’s faces with good sixth senses all cramped. Ilya was desperately holding her anger back. Nevertheless, the incompetent person in front of her didn’t notice at all and proposed an offer in a very loud voice.

“Our Rondéville’s research institutions will advance no less than ten years beyond other countries’ if we had a child dragon. Although a… person… like you wouldn’t refuse something that would benefit Rondéville’s citizens, it would still be offensive to have you part with it for nothing. So, I will buy it for any price you name.”

(This guy…)

Ilya’s magical power stirred. The whole branch was clad in a barrier made from her magical power, so the atmosphere around them mirrored that change.

“Piii…”

(Whoops, not good. It’s alright~. Don’t get angry~)

Ilya quelled her anger and put on a smile to calm Haku when she realized he was whining weakly. She turned back to Mansel once more.

“I will decline.”

“Wha—… are you an idiot!? A mere receptionist like you doesn’t have a choice in the matter, I can have you executed immediately just by reporting to the king!”

He felt discomfort despite being protected by a barrier, his saliva spraying into the air. However, Ilya’s expression didn’t change despite once again being affronted by him.

(The king, is it?)

She couldn’t help but laugh in her heart.

“Do as you please.”

Ilya had met the king several times, but she didn’t remember him as having much courage.

Perhaps because he felt his last resort of insulting her in the king’s name was inneffective, or perhaps because he felt that Ilya’s attitude was belittling him, Mansel’s clenched fists shook in anger.

“Y-you bitch…!”

“Mansel-dono, please let it go.”

“So the lord is trying to interfere now!?”

Ilya, whose surroundings slowly filled with pittying eyes, exchanged looks with Hector and attempted to take them to the third floor for now.

“This way please.”

“I won’t wait on this subhuman!”

(Ah, that’s bad.)

“Pi!?”

Due to the fuming anger surging across the first floor, Haku raised his voice in fright.

Subhumans… mock-humans. As a derogatory term for all non-human races, it was naturally a taboo since humans were on friendly terms with those races.

Just then, Luke, who had finished taking his break, returned to the counter.

Seeing him, Mansel’s expression froze.

It stood to reason. Luke had come from nobility and was an acquaintance of the king.

Although he concealed his position as a noble nowadays, that didn’t change the fact he was a noble.

“Luke, did you hear that remark just now?”

“Yeah. I did.”

Luke nodded expressionlessly. Even though he was concealing his position, he wouldn’t turn a blind eye to that. He couldn’t possibly disregard it.

“I’m sorry to put you through the trouble, but may I ask you to give your report?”

“Of course. Rondéville recognizes him as a traitor and human supremacy advocate. Please give him the appropriate punishment.”

“That is enough.”

Few people were able to understand the meaning behind Luke and Ilya’s conversation.

Nevertheless, since she felt some slight gratification seeing Mansel tremble, the stagnant air filling the first floor weakened.

“Well then, this way.”

She resumed guiding them once again. Then, after confirming that there were no unrelated people in their surroundings—

“Oh, right.”

She spoke to Mansel.

“This child isn’t a dragon’s child, it’s the dragon god’s.”

“Wha—!?”

Among the rustling delegates, Mansel’s expression hardened with despair.

“I didn’t investigate into what you meant by ‘research’, but I feel you should have chosen your words a little more carefully.”

Eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth. Use power against those with power. She would tell the dragon god. At least, it seemed he wasn’t foolish enough to not understand that.

In reality, she had no intention of doing so since it was troublesome, but it would be something like a death sentence if she actually did. She decided to have him learn from it, but the effect was even stronger than she expected.

Disregarding the living corpse, Ilya knocked on the door to the parlor.


 

“Dammit, dammit, dammit!”

After leaving the branch, the Head Royal Monster Laboratory, Effy Mansel stamped his feet against the ground of his coach many times in anger.

Of course, the cause of his anger was a certain elf girl he met at the branch.

(Her eyes, they just won’t stay away…!)

Constantly appearing in his mind were eyes like those that used to look at him when he was in the royal capital’s university.

Looking down on him as inferior, full of contempt, people who would sometimes even look at him with pity.

Although he wasn’t a noble, he was a man that studied with great effort to be accepted into the university. That didn’t mean that he had no talent, though.

However, he lost in practical skills to beastkin, medical science to birdkin, and again lost in pharmaceutics to beastkin.

In front of their specialized talents, he tasted defeat many times.

Mansel, who had put nothing but huge amounts of effort into tasting nothing but defeat right from the start, had his heart warp as the defeats continued to pile up, eventually becoming distorted.

(Dammit!)

Although the other people in the dining area were the ones to have eyes filled with contempt, he didn’t notice them and only looked at Ilya and Haku. Still, even if Ilya’s appearance was such that one wouldn’t forget it if they saw her, that was trivial compared to the thing that caused her to leave such a deep impression on him.

He made two miscalculations.

There was a noble that was acquainted with the king, and Haku was the child of the dragon god.

(The way things are going…)

Despite his face contorting anger, he paled at the thought of his future.

Mansel desperately attempted to think of something that could change his current situation, but while his gaze swam every direction in attempt to find some sort of hint, he finally realized that the outside scenery hadn’t been moving for some time now.

He knocked on the door of his coach, calling for someone.

“What’s the matter?”

“It seems that a guard wants us to change our route.”

“Change routes? Tell him to not say something so idiotic!”

“Y-yes!”

When the driver opened the small window, he turned back to the guard to convey Mansel’s command.

“Every last one of them…! Nothing but hindrances…!”

A short time later, a young person that he could tell was a guild member with a single glance opened the door to the coach.

“It looks like some flying dragons settled down midway to your destination. You should change routes.”

“Flying dragons…?”

“Yes. Veluun’s townspeople testified. There’s no doubting it.”

“Nn…”

Hearing that there were flying dragons, Mansel hesitated.

There was some research material discovered at his destination, Dotoke Plateau, and it was something Mansel’s group had been looking for for a long time. He wanted to obtain it as fast as possible. However—

“Oi, that guy said flying dragons settled down.”

“Yeah. It looks like there’s a clan of them.”

“Then, aren’t there eggs too?”

When a young man surmised something that Mansel was wanting to say, he furrowed his brows.

“It’s impossible for us to beat them in our current state.”

He had eighteen guards.

Because it was declared that it was impossible with their current number, just how much of a threat was a clan of flying dragons? Nonetheless, the phrase, “current war potential,” also had another meaning, “current reward.”

Whether or not he knew that, Mansel didn’t draw back.

Far from being intimidated, he even smiled ominously.

“It’s not like you’ll need to defeat any of them. I just want the eggs.”

“But to take eggs without defeating any of them is a bit…”

“I’ll put out an additional reward. How about three times as much?”

“…”

“It can’t be helped then. Five times.”

“… … If something happens, please follow up with the kingdom.”

“Of course.”

Mansel smiled. Of course. He didn’t plan on doing anything like that at all.

Then, Mansel’s group, who temporarily changed their destination, reached the town of Veluun at last. For Veluun, that was no more than a small town, visitors that spent large amounts of money rarely visited.

Although the town’s wallets were pleased with being temporarily favored by them, the male townspeople that talked with the guild youth felt uneasy.


 

A little while after that, a short while after Mansel left for the royal capital.

A man who had obviously spent many years working the fields noticed his son looking at something in the sky.

“Hey! Move your hands, don’t just idle around!”

“Pop…”

“Eh?”

“What… are those?”

“Those…?”

Multiple black spots flew through the sky. Although their altitudes and distances differed, they all circled round and round around the village.

Before he realized it, his son’s hand was grasping his clothes tightly. It was out of fear.

The black spots gradually grew large, revealing themselves as part of the species that could be considered above all other living things, a species of dragon.

“They’re…”

The father muttered.

“… Flying dragons.”

As the family’s pillar of support, he knew what the strongest existences were. More than just for himself, his expression was stained with fear.


 

On a certain day, some time after the delegation visited.

“Good morning, Charon-san.”

“Ah, good morning Ilya-chan. Sorry about the time.”

Charon, who had left early in the morning, visited Ilya. As he was in an unusually hurried mood, Ilya braced herself.

“It’s an emergency. A clan of flying dragons seem to be heading to the royal capital.”

“… A clan?”

“Yes. Some villages have already been attacked, countermeasures are already being prepared by the castle and association headquarters.”

Flying dragons… they had the least dragon elements, a dragon closer to a beast than to the lowest ranked wind dragon. However, as part of the strongest species, if a clan of them came to attack, it would be a threat at the disaster designated level.

Like other kinds of dragons, flying dragons held a strong sense of territorial boundaries and wouldn’t leave their territories unless something major happened. Their behavior was abnormal.

“Do you know the cause?”

“… It seems to be dragon eggs.”

Ilya was at a loss for words.

“It seems the delegates came across them en route to their destination.”

“… Without… hunting the parents?”

“Yes, although their guards proposed hunting them, it seems that they wouldn’t hear it.”

Although she had given Mansel her worst possible evaluations when he visited the other day, it looks as though he took yet another nosedive. His speed was miraculous.

As Ilya had been registered to the mercenary guild under an alias for some time now, due to the nature of the job’s instability, she could understand the guards’ judgement of wanting to make money.

However, they should have firmly denied it. They needed to be hunted even though it would be hard.

“So, why did you come to me?”

“I wanted to hear your opinion. The king and headquarters chief nominated you directly.”

“It’s nothing that much. If the cause is their eggs, please promptly return them. To begin with, why did the delegation take dragon eggs?”

“For some reason, the delegation’s leader seemed to want it badly. If Haku-chan was born from an egg, he might have thought a monster could also be born from an egg. Practically all of monster ecology is a mystery after all. Maybe he though he wouldn’t be executed if he clarifies something?”

(T-h-a-t-g-u-y…!)

That was just too stupid, the dragon species weren’t monsters. Besides, if he wanted to know about dragon ecology it would have been faster to discuss with Mithledge Kingdom. That wouldn’t cause problems to other people.

Holding back her simmering anger and dissatisfaction, she calmed herself down and sighed.

Incidentally, just what was Mithledge Kingdom? It was a country where its king was born from a human and the dragon god before Jean.

“If you want to prevent extra damages and expenses, please tell them to absolutely return it.”

“Undeeerstood! So, the return method?”

“We’ll secure some people from here. I’ll prepare a commission chart for it soon, so please just review it.”

“Alright, got it. Well, I didn’t get much sleep since I ran straight here. Night~”

“Have a good rest.”

After seeing off the sleepy Charon, Ilya called for two specific people. Bard and Katie.

“You two will accept a commission.”

“So formal, what is it?”

“Please return the flying dragon eggs to their nest.”

“”—!!””

Having received such a poor order fraught with many dangers, the two held their breath. Their reactions were quite natural.

Normally, telling such few people to go to a dragon’s nest would be tantamount to telling them to die.

Even two people with high abilities, if three or more flying dragons kept them company, they’d have no choice but to die from that point on.

“… Why, after all this…”

Bard muttered while clenching his fists.

“Because this is your punishment.”

“Wha—”

“You will be acquitted if you finish this commission. Both of you will be free.”

Although they were half-lost by Ilya’s words, they roughly guessed the meaning behind them.

“… Ilya, are you telling us to die?”

“Innocence through death… hah. You’re disgusting.”

It seemed like he was angry, but his words were sorrowful.

It hurt him that he thought she was beginning to trust them.

“You guys still haven’t grown up.”

“What did you say…!?”

“Don’t you understand why you both were caught? It’s because you’re both skilled at assessing things you know?”

As for what was visible to Ilya, it was their abilities.

Bard held the [Observation] skill. Although that ability was a high-level ability that was able to see through other guild members’ fighting abilities the first time he saw them, he couldn’t perceive Ilya’s threat to him when she caught them.

Although the [Concealment] skill concealed ninety percent, he should have been able to realize she was a threat with just the remaining ten percent.

So why?

The answer is simple. Even if he sensed it, Bard overestimated himself and didn’t admit other people’s abilities. If he didn’t mistake himself and others’ evaluations, he should have been able to proceed calmly a bit longer.

“Bard-san. As for having you learn how to work as a receptionist, it’s because I wanted you to cultivate your discerning eye for people. Your art of killing your presence is first-class. Able to sense your own and others’ true strength, you would be able to carry on calmly.”

“… First-class huh, doesn’t sound credible coming from you after finding me so easily.”

He didn’t really seem happy.

“I didn’t say a lie. Bard-san, while erasing your presence, please take charge of transporting the eggs.”

“Just… me?”

“Yes. Katie will be in charge of guiding the flying dragons.”

Katie did nothing but stare at Ilya.

She wasn’t suited for [Presence Interception], but rather [Presence Inference].

“As for having Katie being responsible for waitress duties, it was because I wanted to cultivate your self decision abilities. You are nimble and have excellent agility, as well as very sensitive to your surroundings. While understanding your surroundings, what do you think you should do? The present you should be able to figure that out by yourself.”

“… Got it. I’ll work hard.”

(Even though it took so much effort to get them this far, seeing them for this last time is a little lonely…)

If she said what she was thinking, it would probably be a hindrance to them.

Thinking about things like that, Ilya looked between the two of them with an unchanging expression.

“There are honestly many more things I want you to learn, but this commission is urgent and there’s no one else suited to it but you two. So please accept this commission as your punishment. Would you?”

“Got it.”

“… Can’t be helped if this is our freedom. So, the reward?”

With Bard’s question, Ilya gave him a full-faced smile. She made an effort for it to be forced.

“You didn’t notice? No pay. It’s punishment.”

“N-no way…”

“Yes. You both will certainly be able to handle this commission. It wouldn’t be a punishment if there was a reward, right?”

Katie smiled with Ilya’s smile, while Bard’s shoulders drooped. However, on his face that was hanging down, the corners of his mouth rose.

After that, she explained to them the route and how to go about how to induce the flying dragons.

Finishing the commission acceptance registration, she handed the two back their registration cards. Neither of them could hide their surprise about what was on their registration cards.

“This, it can’t be mine.”

“These aren’t thieves guild…”

Right, these registration cards for Bard and Katie were ones that Ilya newly made for the mercenary guild.

“You were tied to the thieves guild with your previous cards. Since I think you both should be able to go and live anywhere you want now, please use them to start fresh. Ah, don’t you two go and misuse them alright? Also, the salary that you’ve earned so far has been transferred to the registration cards’ accounts. Please don’t lose them.”

“Thank you… Ilya.”

“… Tch.”

And so, the two people walked out of the empty dining hall. Ilya saw them off from the counter where no one else was.

“I sincerely wish for your safety and success.”

Leaving Lunéville behind, Bard and Katie walked along the road south.

The two were travelling for the first time in a while, but neither of them felt like having a light-hearted conversation.

“… They were good people.”

There was no answer to Katie’s murmur.

However, she clearly understood that he agreed.

Recently, Bard, who had worked at the branch, was smiling more often.

What did a smile mean to her until now? As though chills spread through her body, it was a mass of repulsive feelings.

However, it was different now.

Lunéville was different. When she recalled all of the smiles she saw, her heart warmed.

Filled with good feelings, having her smile before she new it, it was a tranquil place.

“Ah…”

When she touched the thing she felt running along her cheek, she understood it was her own tears.

Even though she didn’t feel sick, she felt a pain in her chest.

“… No…”

It was no use even if she said it, she knew that.

Even so, the words just tumbled from her mouth.

“… I don’t want to…”

Each time she spoke, more tears spilled out.

It wasn’t that Ilya drove them out because she hated them, she knew that.

On the contrary, she knew that she always thought of them, always trying to help them.

Even though she was so happy, her chest felt tight, it was painful.

“… I want to go back…”

As if a dam had burst open, her tears wouldn’t stop falling.

In the end, Katie finally stopped walking. But right then, she felt something nostalgic. Bard’s hand was lightly caressing Katie’s head.

“… Bard…?”

When she took a closer look, his shoulders were trembling slightly, and he was rubbing his arm against his face.

“This commission, we’ll absolutely survive it!”

“Eh…?”

He smiled at the puzzled Katie.

His smile looked like one a crook would have.

“She said it. We can live wherever we want.”

“… Ah…!”

Even though Katie didn’t understand at first, she let out a sound when she realized what he meant. She wasn’t crying any longer.

“Let’s go.”

“Got it.”

It was the response that she always used.

However, this time it felt quite different, suitable for the two embarking on their new stage.


 

Having entered the uninhabited Veluun, the two people received some eggs from a guild member dispatched from the royal capital.

It was different from Haku’s that they’d seen before, it was around the size of a basketball and was gray.

“The flying dragons?”

Toward Bard’s question, the guild member nodded.

“According to the plan, they came here thanks to seeing the eggs. By the estimation, they should arrive at Veluun before dawn tomorrow.”

“Understood. Leave the rest to us.”

“Yeah, good luck you two.”

After nodding to the guild member that clapped his shoulder, Bard and Katie checked their equipment before trying to get some rest to recover their endurance.

Then, in the dark of the night, the two began to mobilize.

Katie went ahead into the forest, inciting the flying dragons around the nest. While confirming that all of the flying dragons were pursuing her with [Presence Inference], Katie took out a fire stone from her breast pocket.

It was something that was produced from the crystal pillar of fire, and by using the fire elements contained within it various phenomena could be induced.

Like a substitute lighter, or used for practical heating if it was a bit bigger.

The effect of the stone Katie held was to emit an intense light for a very short period of time. By throwing it into the air, it could be used as a signalling bullet.

(Alright…)

Seeing the signal, Bard, who was on standby in another direction of the forest, began his movements.

Of course, so that flying dragons and other monsters wouldn’t notice him, he moved covertly through [Presence Interception].

Even monsters with keen senses wouldn’t be able to find him so long as he didn’t mess up because of his skill.

Although he was shouldering three eggs on his back, Bard continued forward without losing his footing on the multitude of tree branches and roots. Before long, he arrived at a large enshrinement made from many collected broken trees. He’d finally reached the flying dragons’ nest.

After placing the eggs into the center of the nest, he immediately withdrew.

Bard, who had retreated to a distance away from the nest where the flying dragons wouldn’t sense him even if they returned, poured his magical power into a fire stone, throwing it high into the sky and above the treetops.

(That’s…)

Noticing the twinkling flash in the sky, Katie invoked a weak magic towards the flying dragons.

She once again guided the flying dragons, who had been lured from their nest, back to it.

If she went too far ahead, the flying dragons might stop chasing her, so she couldn’t lose focus.

Ever since storming into the forest, she had avoided areas with monsters and huge creatures with [Presence Inference], leading the flying dragons while making delicate changes to her course.

But just then, leafs fluttered down from overhead.

“—!?”

Those leafs each turned into two right in front of her.

At that instant, her [Presence Inference] immediately informed her of the presence of monsters nearby.

(Monster butterflies!?)

To be exact, they were moths, not butterflies. A monster named the rondlith moth. The moths’ trait was that they lay in wait for prey while mimicking leafs by using [Seclusion], a derivation skill of [Presence Interception]. After immobilizing their prey alive with their poison, they would turn them into seedbeds.

The moths started flying, the poison stuck to them scattering into the air.

“Ku—…!”

Her legs, her body, wouldn’t move how she wanted.

She was light-headed. There was no one nearby to rely on. However, she thought.

What means of escape could she use to survive?

Looking around her, grasping her situation, she thought about the best route to take.

Her body felt heavy, the air stifling such that it wouldn’t enter her lungs no matter how hard she breathed.

Even so, she thought.

(She said, I can do it…)

Ilya said if it were her, she could do it. She judged so.

Ilya’s words were like a warmth that seemed to protect Katie.

And so, a resolute light shone in the eyes of this woman who wouldn’t give up hope.

Her primary weapon was a dagger specialized for throwing and close-quarters combat.

Although she didn’t have enough to fully take care of the rondlith moth, she still had many. If it was just to open up a route, there would be no problem.

With that resolute light… in order to meet up with him, she had to open up an escape route.

“Bard!”

Katie sliced away several of them with her dagger, breaking through the encirclement by creating an opening even though she was staggering.

Immediately after that, fire arrows loosed by Bard poured down onto the mass of moths.

Katie kept moving her body side to side, invoking the low class wind magic, Aeropressure.

A wind welled up in the center of the mass, carrying the flames and burning the mass of moths, blowing them away.

“Katie!”

Having rushed over to her, Bard chanted the detoxification magic Antidote, removing the poison that was affecting Katie.

However, thanks to being strapped for time, they dashed away.

As a side effect of being forced to stay still by the moths, the flying dragons had caught up.

The flying dragons caught up to Bard, who was inferior in speed, letting loose breaths that were compressed air.

“Shit…!”

“—…!”

Although he just barely dodged, the breaths slammed into the ground and exploded into multiple shock waves.

Regaining his balance, though still staggering a little, the two had tacitly understood their respective roles and took off in separate directions.

Bard gradually strengthened his [Presence Interception] while devoting himself to running. Oppositely, while steadily increasing her distance from Bard, Katie fired magic towards the flying dragons, drawing their attention.

By the time Katie’s magical power was almost entirely exhausted, virtually all of the flying dragons were concentrating on her.

Convinced that his [Presence Interception] was functioning perfectly, Bard, who had withdrawn, changed directions in a dash.

Katie also increased her speed, and while staying outside of their attack range, guided the flying dragons to their nest straight away.

(Alright…!)

Then the flying dragons, who discovered the eggs in the nest, lost sight of Katie who was running away at her top speed. Since their focus shifted fully onto the defense and safety of the eggs, she was able to successfully break away from them.

“… Haah, thank goodness.”

“Pi?”

Finished seeing the particulars, Ilya let out a sigh of relief.

Cutting off [Clairvoyance], she patted Haku’s head.

The two were free from now on. It was uncouth to try and keep an eye on them.

To say nothing of their salaries from working at the branch, in truth she also transferred this commission’s reward into their accounts. They’d likely be astonished by the number in their accounts, but this was a justifiable reward for their final lesson.

(… I wonder if they’ll be upset that I tricked them?)

Katie aside, Bard’s angry appearance floated in her mind.


 

Several days later.

The lunch congestion ended and the association branch recovered a little presence of mind.

This was natural, as Katie wasn’t in the dining hall nor was Bard at the counter.

If she was honest, she wanted to raise their [Speech Skill] and other skills.

To Ilya’s thinking expression—

“Pi… pi!”

Haku licked her to try and comfort her.

Ilya couldn’t judge if Haku’s growth was proceeding smoothly since she didn’t know how long it took for dragons to reach maturity, but she felt the small wings that grew on its back weren’t that far away from it being able to fly.

(So that he flies properly, maybe I should also go and fly together with him?)

While she thought about such a thing, Ria, who had just arrived, made an appearance.

“Ilya, Hector-san’s calling for you. He said he wants you to come to his mansion.”

“Understood. I’ll wait for you to change into uniform.”

“Thanks!”

When Hector called for her without Frank, it was usually for something commission-related. Thinking about it, she wondered if it was because the amount of monsters didn’t decrease at all?

The registration cards she made for Bard and Katie shouldn’t be a problem since they could make proper decisions, and it shouldn’t have anything to do with her ignoring the dragon god that periodically tried to get in touch with her.

While thinking about a variety of non-commission related things, she came back to Ria who had finished changing into her uniform.

“Thanks for waiting~. What about Haku?”

“Haku, do you want to stay here?”

“Pii~!”

He clung onto her and wouldn’t let go.

“Ahaha, it looks like that’s a definite no. See you soon.”

“Un. I’m off.”

Ilya and Haku left the branch. While gazing at the townscape’s construction progressing, she headed towards the lord’s mansion.

It seems that it was completely forgotten after they got used to him, but at first many of the people who came for the construction and such feared Haku. However, nowadays they were completely used to him.

It was already winter. While walking outside, the dry wind that blew down from the Loa Mountain Range would snatch one’s body temperature.

Although that was something irrelevant to Ilya, who defended herself with a barrier, Haku was still not at the point of being able to manipulate air and didn’t have a means of defending himself.

“Pi~…”

“Come here.”

“Pi.”

She held Haku, who was stirring as though he was a bit cold.

The lord’s mansion looked the same as before. Although there were talks about newly rebuilding it in this redevelopment as well, Hector rejected it by saying it was unnecessary.

Although she would usually ask one of the gatekeeper soldiers if Hector was in, this time a maid was standing in front of the gate.

“We’ve been expecting you, Ilya-sama.”

“Good morning, Sibyl-san.”

Her hair was both light brown and black and her skin dark brown. She was a German shepherd-type beastkin with erect, tapered ears. Guided by Sibyl, she walked through the mansion’s hallway.

Many of the furnishings were gorgeous. As for why they didn’t seem to match Hector’s reliable impression, that’s because they were to the previous lord’s tastes. It seemed that he’d decided to keep them to sell in case of emergencies. Hearing such a story, one could easily accept it as Hector’s benevolence.

“You arrived quick, Ilya.”

“It was nothing.”

She was guided into the mansion’s parlor. The moment she entered the room, Ilya guessed the reason she was called for. There was another man waiting in the room.

“Long time no see, Ilya.”

“It’s been a while. I didn’t think that I would be meeting the country’s prime minister here. Surely you aren’t alone?”

While making the sarcastic remark with Haku still in her arms, the man gave a deeply wry smile.

“If I took my knights for a walk, surely it would just prove the height of my position right?”

This man was the Prime Minister of Rondéville Kingdom, Luciano Conti. As a half elf that had been managing the country’s government for two generations, it wasn’t an exaggeration to say that Rondéville prospered as a nation of many races thanks to him.

“Truly though, I wish the king would have been here as well. But as expected, the throne can’t be left open.”

“Ilya, why are you standing around talking? Take a seat.”

Hesitant to reject him, Ilya sat obediently and listened to what the prime minister had to say.

“First is the report. The eggs safely returned to the nest, it appears the flying dragons have successfully returned as well.”

“Thank goodness. I can finally feel relieved.”

Contradicting Ilya that appeared to be relieved, the prime minister’s expression was dull.

“Although we were also relieved, an unrelated matter immediately appeared.”

Pausing his words there, he leaned back against the backrest. This was something characteristic to him, it meant he felt helpless.

“… An ice dragon appears to be heading towards Rondéville.” [7]

“—….”

Hector’s hand went to his mouth. As expected, it was designated as calamity-class. It was a fact that had to be accepted.

“Has Akradist not considered any countermeasures?”

“As expected of Ilya, you’re well informed. So long as there is no personal damage to them, they seem to be leaving it alone.”

Akradist’s response couldn’t be blamed since it had left for Rondéville. There was a possibility that it would turn its attention to them if it was handled poorly and, with its insufficient harvest to send out its army, would have to send out a subjugation commission through the guild if they failed. It was sometimes necessary to endure things like this.

“With that, we will also pay careful attention to this.”

“It’s good that we heard about this so soon. It’s a small mercy the harvest season has already passed. Even if it approaches settlements to some degree, people should be able to take refuge. Each of the major cities should prepare to accept evacuees.”

“Yes. That will certainly be done.”

Even though it wasn’t yet complete, Lunéville was already shaping up as an inn town. It was also a former military foothold, so that should increase its sense of security.

However, that aside, there was something off about Luciano’s story.

“In the situation where the ice dragon attacks a major city, what are you planning to have done?”

“Yes. That’s what I’m here to talk to you about, Ilya.”

The prime minister straightened his posture, turning fully towards Ilya.”

“Ilya, do you know why the ice dragon is coming to Rondéville?”

His question was certainly reasonable.

“… Before, you said that the amount of commissions would increase, was this matter included in that?”

“Is that true? Ilya.”

Toward Hector’s words, the prime minister became interested as well.

However, even though the man leaned forward in response, Ilya’s expression didn’t change.

“No, that was different. I expected that the amount of monster subjugation commissions would increase due to the construction work. Although I had heard talk of an ice dragon, I never thought that it would come here.”

Although the prime minister wasn’t convinced, he was interested in something different.

“Why did you expect there to be more monsters? Lunéville’s construction plans wouldn’t be provoking the monster-inhabited regions. Is there something like a law for that?”

His eyes were questioning, like a youth’s. With a half elf combining an elf’s wisdom with a human’s curiosity, his reaction was related to his many interests.

“The number of monsters increase along with the number of people. That’s all.”

“I-is that so? Even so, I can’t ignore that… uuumu…”

Even though the prime minister was lost in thought, Ilya wasn’t going to speak about the details.

With their roots spread throughout the world, there were three world trees.

Ejected from these world trees were three primary sources: the magic source, the spirit source, and the light source. Eventually, it was the light source that brought forth daylight to light the world.

Then, when the flora and fauna absorb the light source through respiration, the primary source would transform into shadow source inside them. This shadow source would be exhaled, bringing along night, where there was no light source. This would be breathed in by the world trees and accumulate inside them.

Living things that can gather this shadow source, along with elements and the components of plants and animals that had returned to the earth and absorbed by the world trees, these are monsters.

The cause of the light source changing into shadow source was because the light source absorbs negative emotions held by flora and fauna.

Thanks to the light source absorbing negative feelings, living creatures could be cheerful during the day. But during the night where there was no light source, negative thoughts would accumulate into masses of negativity, accumulating monsters.

It was easy for people to hold negative feelings towards others.

Eventually, since monsters would be produced by the negative feelings held by people, they would become aggressive towards people more so than to general creatures.

That’s why in places and regions where there are a lot of people gathered together, they would emit a large amount of shadow source. It would increase the amount of monsters gathered to attack people.

(… It’s impossible for me to say something like that though.)

Her eyes downcast, Ilya let out a sigh in her heart.

Even though she knew everything, the Lottévester Faith that valued the world trees knew nothing about it.

“At any rate, the only uncertainty is why the ice dragon is coming.”

“Well, don’t you think it’s because there are a lot of people here?”

“Dragons are not monsters.”

Because creatures that attacked people were generally called monsters, it was a common misunderstanding in countries that had few chances of coming into contact with them. Of course, it’s also true that they should judge whether or not it was a threat. However, if there was a method of ending it without a fight, they shouldn’t especially attempt to destroy it.

“… That so? However, if any cities are attacked we’ll have to subjugate it.”

“… Yes.”

“While paying attention to the ice dragon’s movements, please pay attention so as to not neglect the transportation of goods.”

“”Certainly.””


 

Ilya and Hector formally answered the prime minister.

After seeing everyone off, Hector summarized information on this matter in a document.

Considering, noting, and observing.

Even if the truth is hard to understand, when one improves their understanding by using those, they might gain a flash of insight. From his experience, this was a custom that Hector had practiced for many years.

“I brought tea.”

The person to say that presenting a cup was the maid, Sibyl.

“Oh, thanks.”

Taking the cup with his hand, Hector leaned back in his chair and took a break.

“What’s the matter?”

“…”

There was no response from her, but with her wry smile, Hector guessed her discontent.

“Is it what Ilya said?”

“… Yes.”

She responded with an affirmative this time. However, Hector wasn’t agitated. He had repeated that dialogue over and over in his mind ever since then.

“… It wasn’t anything personal.”

“I understand.”

“However, she has a lot of mysteries!”

When Hector was a knight, he saved the life of Sibyl, who was also a knight. She firmly believed that it was her duty to support Hector in order to repay his kindness, so she now served as his maid.

For this reason, the Ilya whom she couldn’t fathom the depths of caused her anxiety, it was frightening.

“She… still, didn’t tell you everything she knew.”

“Probably.”

His calm response caused Sibyl to be at a loss for words.

“Then even though she was giving advice, why do you think she didn’t say everything?”

“That’s… so that I could prevail… probably?”

Recalling his unease while saying those words, his words lost their strength by the end.

Thus far, he hadn’t seen Ilya attempt to improve her standing with him.

Although she followed Hector’s instructions due to him being the lord and Luke being the branch manager, she didn’t attempt to do anything outside of branch-related affairs. She would only act when there was a commission or demand for it.

Sibyl had thought that about her, and if her previous remarks were wrong, she would be the first one to admit the mistake.

“In my opinion…”

Sensing Sibyl’s unease, Hector didn’t refute her, but rather began to talk about his views on it.

“Ilya, isn’t she matching our growth?”

“Our… growth?”

Towards Sibyl who was involuntarily repeating it, Hector nodded.

“When someone progresses too fast, one wrong turn can give birth to arrogance. Ilya gives us information matching our growth, warning us… leading us on the right path.”

“Leading… does she intend to pose as a god?”

Hector laughed at Sibyl’s dangerous tone.

“She walks the streets, laughing together with the people, sharing their pain. Isn’t that an adorable god?”

That, as a ruler, could only be called fortunate.

However, that ideal lord was something he strove for.


 

Rondéville Kingdom had little precipitation through the year and was a land of relatively mild weather.

A river crossed its territory as it flowed from the Loa Mountain Range to the north to a caldera lake to the south. With its abundant amount of subsurface water stored throughout its territory, it wouldn’t be affected by a water shortage.

So as an agricultural nation that made use of that, if you limited it to the royal capital that was a metropolis, there was an appreciation for plant cultivation in the upper class elites like nobles year-round.

As their culture developed, it came to the point that other countries that saw them cultivate plants made greenhouses heated by fire stones. However, likely due to the nutrients in the soil being different, they were only able to grow things that paled in comparison of color and size to Rondéville’s.

So Rondéville’s royal capital, that had accumulated an unshakable position in horticulture, came to be called the City of Blossoms with flowers blooming year round.

Besides being shipped to nobles of other countries, the cultivated flowers are also used for seasonal competitions and are popular among noble women, so much so as to being to the point that even royalty from other countries cross oceans expressly to visit.

Abstaining from the winter show, a certain cultivating farmer held a signed document from Rondéville’s royal family. He woke up earlier than usual from nervousness.

“… Today’s even colder.”

The man warmed himself while rubbing his trembling body. Because he couldn’t use heating due to the flower’s management, he wore a large amount of clothes.

The man went out to his farm and encouraged the flowers that endured the cold and tried to bloom, inspecting each one carefully.

Just then, something landed on his exposed nose. When he reached up and touched it, his glove was slightly dampened.

Although the man initially thought it was morning dew, his eyes widened in amazement when he saw small white objects enter his view.

“This is… snow…!?”

It had been dozens of years since he last saw it.

The fantastic scene drifted down from the sky. With a complete change, the man returned to reality and ran around carrying poles and sticking them into the ground in order to take measures against the snow, taking off each layer of extra clothes he wore one by one and shielding the flowers with them.

Nobles were infatuated with the spectacle, children running around excitedly from seeing snow for the first time.

While cold knights made their rounds and children stood after falling over, in some respects they viewed the snow care-freely.

Then, several days after that.

Rondéville Kingdom’s royal capital, where flowers of all colors should have been blooming everywhere, was turned into a world of silvery snow by the snow brought upon them by the ice dragon.


 

In a corner of the private room on the branch’s second floor.

“Well then, [Blue Sword] will be in command of the mercenary guild’s representatives. Please present your registration cards.”

The eight representatives that assembled nodded and uniformly presented their registration cards. Ilya passed the registration cards she collected to Cynthia, leaving her with their registration.

“Are there any questions or comments?”

It was a representative from the commerce guild, [Dawn’s Furrow], that raised a hand.

“Who were the ones who left earlier? Two groups went to the royal capital.”

“Those were Beaulieu-sama’s groups. A report came from the royal capital the other day.”

“R-really? What’s the situation? How many people are being transferred?”

“One hundred and fifty people. Several citizens were injured, though all from snow cover-related events.”

“One hundred fifty… then, don’t they need more blankets and food?”

“The transportation of supplies will be handled by the trailing group. Since the royal capital’s residents were told to expect this some time ago, no one needs to bring anything other than the journey’s supplies.”

Don’t try to make a profit this late in the game.

With that implied by her words, as expected even the merchants quieted down after sensing the mood.

One of them raised a hand.

“Who are you? You’re speaking awfully clearly, but is your information authentic?”

“Yes. Being informed isn’t limited to only commerce and thieves guilds.”

Hearing the thieves guild mentioned, the person’s eyes shifted slightly.

(Your occupation being listed in the status column as well was useful this time, right, [Wind of Falling Tears]’ spy-san?)

By not providing feints or preparing countermeasures, the flow of the conversation after giving information would take a huge turn.

While Ilya would make the best use of her eyes to keep things moving advantageously, on the other hand it was hard for her to explain how she knew information that she shouldn’t know. This was a drawback.

Although the latter part seemed to cause a bit of distrust—

“Ilya’s information is accurate. We guarantee it.”

[Blue Sword]’s testimony, as an A-ranked mercenary guild, dispelled their complaints.

Just as the man winked as if to say no one else would say anything, Cynthia came back with the registration finished.

“Is there anything else?”

A silent affirmation.

“Then, we shall return your registration cards. As soon as the seventh caravan group is organized, please extricate the royal capital citizens… I sincerely hope for everyone’s success.”

Among the representatives that were leaving the private room after receiving their registration cards, Ilya called for two of the representatives.

The mercenary guild [Scarlet Twin Blades]’ representative Grace, and [Blue Sword]’s representative Fidel. Although [Scarlet Twin Blades] was full of powerful members that weren’t inferior to those in [Blue Sword], Grace wasn’t suited for command due to her excessive personality.

However, exactly because Grace was like that, she could entrust it to her.

“Please have everyone from [Scarlet Twin Blades] be vigilant of [Wind of Falling Tears].”

“… Arrest them?”

“No, there’s no problem cutting them down if you need. They would be a nuisance.”

“Merciless as ever, Ilya.”

With Fidel’s bitter smile, Grace laughed merrily.

“It can’t be helped if they’re enemies.”

“Yeah.”

Although the subject was dangerous, neither of their responses wavered. These two’s characteristics came about from acquiring various experiences and could figure things out even if they were left unsaid.

“My best regards.”

“”Leave it to us.””

While the two were being seen out of the private room, Fidel halted and turned around.

“We only decided to participate in the rescue groups because you were here.”

“Haah…”

“Why aren’t you joining that meeting, I wonder?”

By that meeting, she was probably referring to the subjugation group’s formation that was being conducted on the third floor’s parlor.

“Only asked because it was on my mind a bit. Sorry.”

“It’s nothing. I’ll wish for your safety.”

“Un.”

With Fidel’s exit from the room, the only people left in it were Ilya, Haku, and Cynthia.

“I was also a little surprised there.”

Cynthia spoke while moving a chair back to a table.

“When Ilya processes commission acceptances, don’t you occasionally give advice? Even when they don’t ask. You only say something to people that would be in danger if they attacked a monster head on.”

“… Un. Well.”

Cynthia was a human.

Although their upper limits were lower, there were many humans that held all kinds of skills. In a race like that, with the [Observation] skill she forged as a receptionist, she was able to see through people’s abilities to some extent as they accepted commissions.

It wasn’t surprising that Ilya could see through people like that as well, but she was at a loss for what to say with this timing.

“That’s why, there’s a lot of people thinking, ‘Will Ilya advise this subjugation group too?’ You know? People that you’ve given advice, and the staff.”

“It’s not as though it’s decided that they won’t succeed without advice. Even if they don’t know that.”

“Un. That’s right, isn’t it.”

However, Cynthia looked up into the air.

“I just feel a little anxious. Like I wonder if we’d be alright if we didn’t have Ilya~, or something.”

“Because I’m not defeating it.”

“Right? Ahaha.”

She knew that Cynthia’s laugh had no ill will in it. Even so, Ilya still felt like it hit the bull’s-eye. She didn’t want to participate in the ice dragon’s subjugation.

It was because the ice dragon wasn’t a monster.

“Pi…?”

It wasn’t because she looked after Haku, who was a far away relative to it.

In this world where survival of the fittest reigned, she had no objection for people to collide against those that couldn’t coexist. She didn’t mean to say something like killing was no good.

To begin with, she, who had killed many species, had no qualification to say that.

—Just, if she joined, it would be different, like greatly shifting the balance of power.

As Cynthia said, Ilya would limit herself to giving advice when monsters were the opponents. For subjugation commissions that weren’t against monsters, she wouldn’t stop them unless there was a difference in power to the point that they would certainly die.

Only through killing would the world’s gloom abate… she wouldn’t hesitate in giving advice if it was demons or monsters that were themselves born from the world’s distortion. But in addition, when it came to wars between humans, she would ignore them without hesitating at all.

She wouldn’t help since it wasn’t a monster. However, what if it came to this town?

Unable to come to a decision by just thinking about it and not knowing what she’d do, Ilya let out a sigh.


 

The ice dragon, which had remained at the top of the Loa Mountain Range a little ways off of the royal capital, magnified the damage on the royal capital by sending snow down to it on the wind.

The king didn’t control the nobles that attempted to be the first to escape, so the knights that originally should have protected the people became the nobles’ escorts. As a result of the knights becoming escorts for the city’s upper echelons that were scrambling to be the first to escape, their fighting potential to subjugate the ice dragon became insignificant. In the end, even the royal family ran away.

The present situation was that the knights couldn’t move far from Greizeville because they were babysitting them.

Accordingly, it was decided that the guild would be used to hunt it.

Pretending to be a caravan for the rescue commission, it somehow turned into a subjugation commission since money would be paid afterwards.

 

“—Then, we shall return your registration cards. As soon as the thirteenth caravan group is organized, please extricate the royal capital citizens… I sincerely hope for everyone’s success.”

Seeing off the representatives as they left the room, Cynthia breathed out a great sigh.

“Finally done~”

“Thank you for your efforts. Though we finished a little early, shall we stop for the day?”

“No way! We get paid by the hour, it’d just get wasted if we stopped now!”

“It’s alright. Today’s duties also have a special wage, different from working until the regular time.”

“… No no no! Don’t want to! I don’t like that difference!”

While saying she didn’t like it, Cynthia seemed to be a little worked up.

“How about a break for now, then? Wait a moment. I’ll bring some tea.”

“It’s fine, I’ll do it! Ilya can take a rest!”

As soon as she said that, she practically flew out of the room.

The subject matter of Ilya’s duties were certainly more demanding, but her stamina wasn’t exhausted at all due to her cheat.

While she sat on the chair and waited as Cynthia suggested, Haku jumped onto her apron.

Incidentally, this reminded her about her cat that would hop onto her keyboard when she was using the computer in her previous life.

(Haku also gives that kind of a feeling, doesn’t he?)

Putting the problem about the ice dragon into the corner of her mind, she passed the time calmly petting Haku on his head.

However, it couldn’t last long in this time of emergency.

“Ilya, you were here?”

As for who poked their head in from the door, it was Frank, not Cynthia.

“Did the meeting end?”

“Yeah, though, just troop ranks and formation. Concrete plans haven’t been made yet… At least, it would have been good to know what kind of magic to use against it.”

“I take it that there wasn’t anyone who has fought against an ice dragon?”

Frank smiled wryly at Ilya’s words.

“Such veterans aren’t that readily available.”

“Is the departure tomorrow?”

“No, we are waiting for Charon’s report. We’re getting cooperation with other branches.”

As they had to climb the snowy mountain as well as engage the ice dragon in battle, she thought it to be a natural decision.

“Thanks for waiting~… Oh huh, Frank-san… Did I interrupt something?”

“It’s nothing like that.”

“Cynthia should rest too. You’re worn out right?”

“I-I’ll accept your offer then…”

They exchanged idle talk while taking a rest with some of Cynthia’s favorite green tea.

Though really, the majority of it was Ilya and Frank keeping company with Cynthia while she grumbled her complaints. When Ilya escaped to care for Haku, Frank sent her a glance as though seeking saving, but—

(I’m sorry, I think it’s a superior’s job to give mental care to their subordinates.)

Making that excuse, she didn’t look him in the eye.

And so, the first day’s affairs came to an end like that.

However, the next day was just as busy as the day before since the caravan was sent out. Miraculously, the highway’s final developments were completed just the other day. Although all of the large-scale construction was completed, the completion festival that was scheduled to be after it was completed was, as to be expected, postponed.

Two days later, the caravans had evacuated each town’s citizens.

Ilya, who had been distributing supplies to various inns, went to the lord’s mansion after receiving a summons from Hector.

Both Hector and Frank were waiting for her in the parlor with pensive expressions.

The subject matter the two were talking about? The failure of the ice dragon’s subjugation.

As well as the ice dragon descending the mountain as though to give chase to the subjugation corps—heading towards Lunéville, it was a fact that it was moving towards the south.

“The ice dragon… is coming here?”

Hector’s expression was stiff as he nodded in silence. Frank couldn’t just sit by and continued speaking.

“With their exhaustion, the decision to withdraw was not a mistake. However, no one thought that it would pursue the subjugation group.”

“Right. Dragons are a strong species that are generally aware of territorial bounds, but it shouldn’t have gotten to the point of chasing a retreating enemy past those bounds.”

“Yeah… It’s currently being confined by guild members from Harville that are rotating in and out with each other, but it looks like it will immediately mobilize towards the direction of Lunéville the moment it can.”

Ilya regretted not paying proper attention and escaping from reality. She wouldn’t be able to understand its inexplicable behavior by just observing it now. If she wanted to be absolutely sure, she would have to look over the subjugation team with [Clairvoyance], not just the rescue team.

“By the way, it’s been said, but this isn’t something like when the flying dragon eggs were taken before.”

“Is… that so.”

Frankly, if there was such a comprehensible reason like its eggs being taken, that would be good.

Even if the ice dragon had no ill will, it’s true that it brought harm to people. It’s also true that people directly struck out against it. As for who held responsibility, neither did.

The parlor was wrapped in a heavy air.

A knock broke the silence, resounding through the room. It was the human butler, Fabio.

“Hector-sama. The evacuation advisories sent out to the various places have been completed.”

“Thank you… how did it go?”

To his master’s question, Fabio lowered his eyes with a stiff expression.

“… It didn’t go well.”

It didn’t go well. In other words, they didn’t attempt to evacuate. Unable to guess the reason, Ilya asked.

“Are those that came from the royal capital complaining?”

“No, Ilya-sama. They are actively seeking refuge. However, neither do Lunéville’s citizens seem to be looking away from the ice dragon’s danger.”

She wasn’t able to understand all the more.

Even if they were unwilling to part from Lunéville, the town they were born in, living comes first. However, assuming they hadn’t truly lost their sense of danger, they may be able to be persuaded by the people that saw the ice dragon firsthand.

“Where are the injured people currently?”

“Since the transport group left from Willville, they should arrive by tomorrow.

“Is that so… Has the report already been sent to the other cities?”

“Yeah.”

Hector responded with an affirmative.

“They went to Veluun where there’s a liaison for the king, they should be returning to the branch tomorrow.”

“You know those guys well, too.”

“?”

A lot of people came to mind so she couldn’t figure out who he was talking about, but it should be easier to ask them if she was acquainted with them.

The supplies situation, creating the last line to start the enforced evacuation, and securing guild members as guards.

By the time Ilya finally completed all of these discussions and was returning to the branch, the sky had started to darken.

On the roadside, Ilya met Cecilita and Lydia. Although she found it natural that the two people who worked in the branch’s kitchen to be leaving from the branch, from what Ilya recalled, they didn’t have shifts today.

As Fabio said, there were people like these two that didn’t feel like they needed to fret.

Although she wasn’t really satisfied with that, she put on a pleasant smile so as to not worry them.

“Ilya-chan, you went to Lord-sama’s place?”

“Yes. Have you two finished with your evacuation preparations?

There was a brief moment where their eyes blinked in puzzlement. Lydia put on a cheerful smile.

“No way Ilya-chan. If I ran away, who’d make the boss’ food?”

“Is that… so?”

“… Fufu. Even if we don’t worry so much about it, we’ll run away at top speed if it gets really dangerous.”

With the skills Ilya had, she could perceive the credibility of someone’s words, no matter who they were. However, even without things like that, she could understand these two’s lie just by looking at them.

To Ilya who couldn’t seem to respond that well, the two smiled and continued talking.

“Besides, if the branch left before everyone else in town, they’d be sure to say stuff about it after all this!”

“We also have to hand over money for the commission that was sent out.”

“The… commission?”

“”Un!””

The two nodded. Then, with unwavering expressions—

“”For the ice dragon’s subjugation!””

They said.

“Umm… why would you go that far?”

For subjugating a divine beast that was at the calamity designated level, it was something that should be considered between nations and guild headquarters.

Before coming to Lunéville, Ilya had seen victims that had experienced disasters. There were people that didn’t even try to escape, saying that since it was their homeland, they would go down with it.

Stubbornness and resignation dwelled in their eyes.

But now, the eyes of the two girls before her sheltered what looked like hope.

Unable to understand why, Ilya involuntarily asked the two. Both of them answered with unchanging smiles.

“The same as usual you know?”

“Everyone loves it here!”

(—Ah, that’s right, isn’t it.)

She forgot. Or rather, she realized that feeling once again.

By getting mixed up in this and that, she forgot about the weight of those words: ‘I love this town.’

This town was loved.

Since this land had been lived on for generation after generation. Since this is the town they were born and grew up on. It wasn’t related to something like birthplace or stubbornness, it was an incredibly simple answer.

“There’s no helping it, then.”

The weight of the love was different.

The profundity of emotional attachment was different.

That’s why it was unreasonable for her to say something like that to everyone’s determination.

“Un. We absolutely won’t stop this time, even if it’s Ilya-chan.”

“Sorry.”

Rather than rejecting them, their determination caused her to agree. Because she thought that, Ilya shook her head.

“I won’t stop you.”

“Eh? Really?”

“Yes. I won’t stop it if everyone in the town wants it.”

If it’s the citizens’ intention, she wouldn’t deny them.

“Because… I also love this town, and everyone in it.”

—So I’m sorry, ice dragon whose name I don’t know.

The ice dragon’s subjugation.

—This time, it’s a commission sent out by the branch from everyone in this town.

Ilya decided to aid the commission.


 

The next day.

When Ilya descended the stairs to check the people who gathered, there were some unexpected people.

“Ilya!”

Brandishing a frivolously wagging long tail, a woman clung to Ilya. Since the person she knew wasn’t someone that would do something like that, she was indeed surprised.

“Katie… how?”

“I came back from Veluun a little while ago.”

Veluun. Hector’s statement from the previous day crossed through Ilya’s mind.

“Perhaps, were you the one to send the report?”

“Right. Bard as well. Come!”

She forcefully pulled Ilya and brought her to the second floor’s private room. Inside, Bard sat on a chair in a bad mood.

“I haven’t seen you for a long time, Bard-san. I’m happy you two are safe.”

“… It was nothing.”

(Even more surly than before.)

When Ilya wondered about that, Katie smiled wryly and explained.

“Really, we wanted to come back with a present of the ice dragon’s subjugation. But he’s embarrassed since it failed.”

“Stupi—, don’t say something unnecessary! T-that’s just… I just tried getting some money to travel with! It’s a misunderstanding!”

Although she thought it to be indiscreet, she couldn’t help but laugh a little.

“Present or whatever, I’m really glad you two are safe.”

“Ilya…”

Looked at by Katie, Bard averted his gaze. Although he could also feel his favorability become even more extreme, he’d probably be defeated if he minded it.

“So, what will you two be doing after this?”

“Another subjugation commission was published right? We’ll participate in it.”

“We’d be troubled if Lunéville disappeared.”

“Troubled… is it?”

Although Ilya thought they planned on making it into their base, her guess was immediately denied.

“Un. We want to work here again.”

“… You need more helping hands yeah?”

“Bard isn’t honest with himself.”

“Shaddup.”

They certainly didn’t have enough people, and it would just get more hectic after this.

Even though it would be a great help, Ilya turned to smile at the two.

“Eh, so you two will properly receive the examination this time?”

“Geh…”

“… Can we pull some strings?”

If it’s these two, they could probably pass it. But that said, spoiling them wouldn’t help them at all.

“For your positions, please do your best with your own efforts.”

If they could do that, they wouldn’t need to feel inferior or like they were being sympathized with anymore.

Since Ilya had an inferiority complex due to her cheat, she prayed that the two would want to build equal relations with everyone.


 

Katie, together with Bard, headed towards the branch’s dining hall. It was packed full of guild members that came to apply for the second subjugation group.

Including [Blue Sword] and [Scarlet Twin Blades] that returned from the rescue commission, there were some considerably powerful people gathered together.

Normally, the branch’s patrons and guild members would be getting dead drunk, but currently everyone held serious expressions.

(Everyone should continue on the same as always though…)

She swallowed back those words before they left her mouth.

“First, for everyone that gathered here, I thank you.”

“Pi.”

Standing on the counter, Haku bowed his head mimicking Ilya. The tension in the dining hall softened slightly.

“For this subjugation, even though I am unworthy, I will propose the measures to take. I am sorry, but only those who do not object to the plan can participate in the second subjugation group, so if you do please—”

“Don’t say so many unnecessary things, Ilya!”

“Right, right! Ilya-chan is too cold!”

Some people raised their voices. Everyone looked towards Ilya with similar expressions.

(Nooo… I’ll be troubled if you put so much faith in me… There’s no choice but to brace myself is there?)

Strengthening her resolve, Ilya looked over the dining hall once again.

“Thank you. Then for the plan this time, forget about grouping people by their parties. Everyone will form groups depending on their roles.”

Everyone stared at her with considerably surprised expressions.

In this world, although there were things like parties with multiple warriors in them, people didn’t organize themselves for battles by role.

“First, please separate yourselves according to the roles written here.”

There were two sheets of paper on the bulletin board that usually had commission charts affixed to it.

One sheet had organization plans.

People who use fire magic. People who use no less than intermediate defensive-type magic. People who use shields. People who take charge of attacking directly. People who are confident in their speed.

Each of these were assigned to A, B, C, D, and E. By the way, when Ilya writes things down, since everything is converted into this world’s characters even if she writes in Japanese, there’s no problem.

“Next, I will explain everyone’s roles and how to work together.”

The second sheet had a simplified ice dragon sketched on it.

“First, the front line will wait on standby outside of the ice dragon’s range for the battle to develop. If it is attacked by fire magic, it won’t just damage it efficiently, but also cause the exhausted ice dragon, which doesn’t like disturbed air currents, to descend on to the ground. From there, approach while keeping formation. Having done that, the ice dragon will use its breath attack to sweep everyone away at once. However, since the breath will be spread out in a wide range, this can be sufficiently defended against by using intermediate level defensive magic. Then, group B will be in charge of using defensive-type magic on the vanguard’s advancing formation.”

Among the few people making noises, one of them raised their hand.

“What would we do if it uses an attack that isn’t its breath?”

“Take formation to restrict its attacks. It will begin to use Blizzard if it develops to a point where it is surrounded, and attempt to skewer those who group up too much with Glacial Lance. As for the former, since everyone will force against it with tough defenses and it will have limited view, it is impossible. Though a similar strategy could be employed for the latter if advanced magic was used as well, it will be fixated on using its breath after being attacked since it is long ranged.”

Without hesitation, Ilya continued explaining.

“Since Blizzard and Glacial Lance are magics that use natural elements, the ice dragon won’t be able to move immediately after. On the other hand, its ice breath is a combination of its body’s elements and magic source. Even if it only takes a few seconds to raise its neck and unite them inside its body again, it still takes time. Everyone, I would like you to approach during that opening.”

“But that guy doesn’t just have those three things.”

Agreeing to the comment someone spoke, Ilya pointed at the figure once again.

“That’s where groups B and C come in. While group A starts the attack at long distance, groups B and C will fortify the sides and group D will rush straight ahead. For its tail and forelegs’ claws, groups B and C will defend the side that is attacked. Attack in that interval, with everyone possible taking aim at its horn. Ah, except those using shields, please place importance on keeping your shields raised. Bodies might be blasted back from the front line.”

Several people smiled wryly at her remark.

Since taking a direct hit was destined for those equipped with shields, they were probably thinking back on personal experiences.

“Aim at its horn? Not the eyes?”

“Yes. Although the basics of subjugation is to aim at the eyes, pay that no heed and forget it this time. I’ll explain the reason next, so please aim at its horn as I previously explained. An ice dragon’s horn acts like a mage’s staff.”

Told that fact by Ilya, the dining room became noisy with people’s mutters.

A staff made the invocation of magic easier and more efficient, along with increasing its strength. As this was common sense for those here belonging to the guild, she omitted explaining it.

“If you can break its two horns, you can inhibit it from using its special attacks.”

“So, what about the last group?”

“Group E’s role is to create diversions and feints. Although I spoke about ignoring its eyes a moment ago, if you’re inside a blizzard caused by an ice dragon, do you know why you’d be helping your enemy? Bard-san?”

“Ah!? Uh, err… smell, or something?”

“That’s a miss.”

Towards Bard that looked frustrated, Ilya thanked him in her mind for answering as she expected.

“The reason ice dragons are able to understand where their enemies are despite having poor vision is because they sense temperatures. Therefore, group E will confuse—or rather, guide—the ice dragon by carrying fire stones.”

Then, the ice dragon would be perturbed.

The people gathered weren’t amateurs that needed to have everything explained to them from start to finish. She omitted explaining that as well.

“I’d like to see and divide the people for each formation for before and after the horns are broken. Based on this here, please forget about your parties and divide into the role that fits you best. If you don’t know which to choose, I will assign you.”

She bowed as she finished saying that. Taking that as the signal, everyone began to shuffle around.

“Piii…”

When Haku licked the hand that was holding him, Ilya expressed her gratitude and pat him on the head.

(It’s alright, I don’t regret it. Besides, I will absolutely protect you.)

For people that consulted her about their role, she assigned them based on their status by using [God’s Eyes]. She would have assigned them based on their potential if there was time in order to improve their skills, but it’d be unreasonable to demand that from guild members, which weren’t soldiers, so she decided to instead be business-like.

Then after deciding the commander of everyone after the horns are broken and the squad leaders when the horns haven’t broken, she finished the commission registration after obtaining everyone’s acknowledgement.

“Well then, I will return your registration cards. Because [Pastoral Wheel] will be accompanying you to transport supplies when you leave, please join with them at the north gate… Good luck.”

 

 

 

 

“Let’s go!”

“””””Yeeeeeeaaaaaahhh!”””””

In this way, the second ice dragon subjugation group departed.


 

When the subjugation group left Lunéville and had walked for a while, they noticed snow falling from the sky.

It was obviously the ice dragon’s meddling. Although they were surprised that they were closer to it than they thought, none of them trembled.

The subjugation group sent out scouts and advanced, waiting for the report.

They decided to make their battlefield a plain, waiting for the ice dragon at a spot not far from their camp.

The fluffy snow gradually turned into something heavier and less refined.

Since there was little wind and a lower temperature than usual that day, the snow accumulated at the subjugation group’s feet. However, considering that the first subjugation group had to combat it on a snowy mountain, this could be called exceptional conditions.

Before long, a black object appeared in the sky above the quiet plain.

“Mage group, prepare yourselves!”

The guild members that were in charge of blasting it out of the air with fire magic began to move.

“Katia, I’ll leave it to you!”

“Un!”

Receiving Elivia’s support, Katia responded with a reassuring nod.

An ice dragon.

When she heard about the invasion, she didn’t think about something like leaving town. That didn’t mean that she didn’t feel afraid though.

The head of the magic guild that she went to was Mithledge’s king, a dragonkin. And since a branching line from the king showed her their strength and dragon form, she held a stronger fear towards dragons than others.

When she heard that it was in Akradist, she made certain to not approach it as much as possible.

When someone like her heard about the ice dragon’s invasion, she spoke with her partner, Elivia.

Elivia also didn’t intend to passively escape.

She wanted to defend this town.

Equivalent to when she said that she wanted to leave her hometown—or perhaps even greater than that—the strength in the woman’s gaze said so.

Katia was the noble daughter of the Windia Federation’s patriarch.

The woman, who yearned for the mage named Marinera that belonged to the federation army’s magic unit, joined the magic guild to chase after his footprints and learned magic.

Developing her original talent with great effort, the woman returned to the federation with plenty of self-confidence. However, when she attempted to join the army’s magic unit, she was turned down.

Rather than letting her leave to gain achievements in the army, the girl’s family wanted to improve the house’s strength by marrying her into a distinguished family.

That was the raison d’etre Katia’s parents placed on her life. Katia’s wishes were wholly crushed by her house’s influence.

—I decided to leave my house… Here, no one knows who I really am.

Katia spoke to Elivia, inviting her to travel with her.

Elivia didn’t feel significance in being attached to the federation army, which was firmly rooted as a male-dominated area. Recognizing her own strength, she wanted to go out and travel to find a place where she could make use of it.

(I found that place, didn’t I?)

After casting down her eyes as her mood began to flood with sentimentality, Elivia opened her eyes and put on an aggressive smile.

As for the answer to Katia’s invitation, she had already decided before even being asked.

“—Fast is the wind of swift sleep. Clad yourself in the flames of hell, bringing extinction to those before you.”

“—Accumulate, boil, seethe. Progenitor whose fire is more wrathful than a fire dragon’s. Burn everything.”

“—Destroy and warp that specific location. Extinguish all living things. Send them death and corrupt their very shelter of life.”

“—Lights Out!”

“—Flame Breath!”

“—Blazing Destruction!”

Speed, range, power.

Changing the magic they used based on range and speed, they assaulted the ice dragon the air.

However, dragons could be called rulers of the sky, and as such only a handful of the spells were direct hits.

Even so, it was enough for the ice dragon to let out a roar in irritation. It glided down from the air and landed on the ground.

The snow that accumulated seemed to fly up vertically from the vibrations, creating what appeared to be a wall of pure white.

The ice dragon was at a distance where it could be seen perfectly, one of its eyes and arms were injured. It was clear by the way the cuts looked that they were not caused by magic.

It was a happy miscalculation for the subjugation group, there were even people who smiled among them.

However, the real thing started from there.

“Start the strategy! Do not fall out of ranks!!”

The guild members’ expressions tightened from the order given by Fidel, the [Blue Sword] representative that was appointed as commander, who was filled with tension. All at once, everyone released their war cries and started their advance.

As for the mages who shot it with fire magic and resumed moving, they were waiting for the other groups to pass.

Katia exchanged glances with her partner that ran past her towards the ice dragon.

—Good luck, it’s my turn next.

—I’ll be expecting you.

With their intentions mutually transmitted in that instant, there was no uneasiness in Katia as she watched Elivia’s back growing ever farther away.

Even though it only had a single eye, since it didn’t just use sight to fight its enemies but also heat, it didn’t have to do something like concentrate on a single side.

The subjugation group advanced towards the front of the ice dragon. Exactly as Ilya said it would, everyone saw it raise its head.

“Defensive magic! Deploy!!”

The mages in charge of this invoked defensive magic to defend the trailing troops from its breath.

“Offensive magic group!”

“A little longer… now!!”

They began to chant.

“Defensive group, assault group, prepare formation and standby!”

“Mage group, invoke when the breath ends!”

The white pressing against the blue wall safeguarding them ended. In the next moment, as Ilya said, although the ice dragon roared, its attacks stopped.

“Shoot!!”

“Charge!!”

While letting out voices like the rumbling of the earth, the subjugation group dashed towards the ice dragon.

To the mobile group’s birdkin observing from overhead, it looked like three spears were being thrown towards the dragon.

Right, left, and center.

Realizing enemies were rushing at it, the ice dragon lashed out with its tail to mow everyone down.

However, its trajectory shifted the instant before it hit and was only able to do was stop the group on its right.

Its breath had been held back. Having recognizing this, the ice dragon changed to using elements outside of its body after finishing its breath. This was it, it was time to end it.

It roared at the front line.

Magic that could emit numerous ice spears as though to skewer everything, this was the ice dragon invoking Glacial Lance.

It was an unexpected action. However—

“I won’t let you!”

A certain tiger beastkin headed towards the ice dragon that lifted its head.

“Dropping Phoenix Rotation!!”

The main point of the axe kick was making use of one’s vertical rotation to kick. Blades were attached to the claws on her feet.

Glinka-style claw technique, Dropping Phoenix Rotation.

Although it certainly made contact with its horn, it was far off destroying it. But even so, it wasn’t over yet.

“Duaaal Faaangs!!”

Dropping Phoenix Rotation, Paired Fangs.

Rotating once again without losing any of the rotational energy, she attacked with the claws of both of her hands that were crossed over each other.

The slash that had built up momentum caused three grooves to be cut into its right horn.

“Tch—!”

A little more.

Even if she was irritated at the horn’s strength, she didn’t attempt to just randomly attack it. She withdrew from there by kicking off from its face.

Elivia was vigilant and thought that there would be an attack from the ice dragon, but there were no signs of it.

However, openly making their way past her, she saw someone spring towards the dragon.

With their violet hair and red armor, there was no mistaking this person as [Scarlet Twin Blades]’ Grace. However, she wasn’t holding her usual short sword, it was a hammer that had a quadrangular pyramid as its head on one side.

A black-haired woman followed behind her, also from the [Scarlet Twin Blades]. Olga. She was also using the same type of hammer as Grace.

(What do they intend to do?)

When she thought that, Grace’s voice slammed against Elivia’s ears.

“Barrage!!”

Beating against the horn with the pointed tip of the hammer’s head—

“Breeeak!!”

Olga, who had little time to react, slammed the flat side of her hammer against the one’s flat side.

The grooves that were gouged out of it by Elivia spread without any of the impact being wasted, cracking the horn together with a shrill noise.

“Olga!!”

When Grace threw away the hammer in her hand, she pulled out a sword that was on her back.

Olga caught the thrown hammer, swinging them at Grace as one would with dual katanas.

Not to attack her comrade.

Lacking power, it was to forcibly allow Grace, who should have fallen down, to attack the ice dragon another time.

“Crescent Moon! Upper Arc!”

The upward arc slash directly hitting the horn’s crack—

“———!!”

At last, the horn had broken.

The ice dragon’s shriek shook the air and assaulted the surrounding subjugation groups.

But that didn’t mean the girls in mid-air couldn’t ward off the attack. In front of the three who barely managed to land while losing their balance, comrades equipped with shields forced their way through and stood between them and the ice dragon.

“You guys went too far ahead.”

“Sorry, sorry.”

While the girls aimed at destroying the horn, the other groups focused on attacking it directly didn’t exactly cross their arms and wait.

Rather, since the ice dragon was concentrated on the girls’ attacks, they attacked parts like its legs and feet so that it wouldn’t attack the girls.

“But you did a good job.”

Since it was large, they could limit their targets.

All the more since they were fighting an opponent this large.

“People aiming at the remaining horn, be proactive! The defensive magic group will obstruct its attacks! Concentrate on its legs!”

Fidel’s voice resounded across the plains.

Because of the wind that intensified without any relations to the ice dragon, the snow took away even more stamina and ability to think from the subjugation group.

In that situation, the young person named Fidel was an existence that was a huge support to the subjugation group.

Seeing opportunities, he indicated where to go with his sword.

Getting Ilya’s strategic hints, she deliberately limited them to attack methods that formed gaps for defense.

Attack, defend, feign, evade.

“Haha!”

Fidel laughed.

It wasn’t a sadistic smile, it was a smile birthed from being excited to the point of trembling.

For him, who believed in freedom, it was painful to be named as the leader and entrusted with the resulting obligations.

However, it was different now.

Under the name of freedom, the subjugation group stood up to defend their freedom.

Everyone moved as one, a feeling of being almighty stirred within him.

Although it could possibly be a dangerous mental state where one could develop a desire to rule, for all that, because of his purpose, he simply concentrated on defeating the enemy before him.

—With everyone’s strength, we will defend our towns!


 

With a blow, another horn broke.

It was an arrowhead that decided it.

(A signal!?)

Fidel and several others noticed a light blinking in an entirely unrelated direction.

After a moment, they realized it was a magic light.

A fire spell came flying in towards the ice dragon before long, burning its wing.

However, the ice dragon wasn’t the only one unable to react to the unexpected attack, the subjugation group was the same.

Their ranks fell into disorder, instantly causing further adverse effects on their judgement. Since it affected too much of the leadership, the backlash was huge.

As for who clearly understood the situation, it was the birdkin throwing fire stones from the sky as feints.

As for what he caught through the obstructing snow, it was a wave of people coming to attack from another direction.

They might have been a subjugation group sent by another town.

The moment he considered that.

(Oh no!)

Having reached the point of being surrounded, the ice dragon started to invoke a spell that would attack everyone around it.

Although he attempted to disturb its concentration with the stones in a panic, he didn’t make it in time.

With even the mobilization of the forces on the ground being late, they couldn’t obstruct its magic—looking towards the sky, the ice dragon roared.

The high-ranked magic spread out like a wall of raging ice and snow in all directions—Blizzard was invoked.

Top to bottom, left to right, front to back. They were attacked from every direction. There was no way to completely defend against it.

“Defensive magic users, make groups of four people! People nearby stay in the center for refuge!!”

Sustaining injuries, the subjugation group’s stamina lowered even further.

The ice dragon attacked some groups with its forelimbs and tail, each time reducing their fighting potential.

People didn’t fall into being useless for combat due to the strenuous efforts of the defense group, so that was a small relief.

(((End soon…!)))

Different from the confused reinforcements that attacked as they arrived, Lunéville’s subjugation group enhanced their concentration so as to not miss their chance for a counterattack.

Before long, the wall of white formed by the Blizzard began to break apart.

“Attack!”

That word.

With that word from Fidel, the group in charge of diversions and feints charged out from inside the defensive walls.

Taking a formation around it, people who knew how powerful Blizzard was would see it as suicidal.

However, they had knowledge.

[In the unlikely event where it invokes Blizzard happens, please move before its effect has fully completed. Although both the power and range of an ice dragon’s Blizzard are astounding, it can not invoke it multiple times. Although it would depend on your current exhaustion, if it uses it, you should close the distance all at once before the effect ends.]

That is what Ilya said. They had no reason to doubt her.

Surrounded by the movement of the scattering subjugation group, the ice dragon wasn’t able to make its next move.

Those that had continued to sharpen their fangs in wait wouldn’t possibly miss this chance.

First was its horn.

“Mage group!”

Together with the commencing chants, agile people dashed out from inside the defensive magic.

Magic was invoked.

The ice dragon wasn’t able to approach nor give a decisive blow towards the mages that knew the significance of a blindfold.

Then the subjugation group’s blades finally broke the horn.

Afterwards, the ice dragon was unable to unleash an accurate attack having lost its horn. In the end, it collapsed onto the fallen snow and died. With its unmoving giant figure and the snow falling down on the plains, the noise that had continued thus far was as though it were a lie.

“…—id it.”

“””We wooooooooon!”””

The subjugation group exchanged looks with each other while in half amazement, their hands quivering from various emotions, and giving triumphant shouts towards the sky.

People smiled, people wept, and people fell to the ground.

There were many injuries, but miraculously none were deadly.

The subjugation was complete.


 

Ilya confirmed the ice dragon’s ruin with [Clairvoyance]. The reason why she didn’t speak about it having an injured arm and eye was because she didn’t want them to become negligent.

It was effective and the subjugation group started the battle keeping a good tension. They were able to complete the commission. Although it was unexpected, the battle itself folded out roughly as Ilya planned.

However for Ilya, if there was something in the future, she didn’t want to waver.

“Pi…?”

“No, it’s nothing.”

“Pi!”

Even if she grumbled about it, there was no helping it. It was something that she decided.

So Ilya shook it off.

If she broke here, she would lose the qualifications to resent the ice dragon too.

Although she was thinking about such a selfish topic, that was the only thing she absolutely would never allow.

“Ilya-chan, I want to accept this commission.”

“Certainly. Please present your registration card.”

And so, she continued her duties as a receptionist today as well.

 

 

<- Chapter Two | ToC | Epilogue ->


 

Footnotes:
  • Yakitori is kind of skewered meat grilled over a charcoal fire, with the skewer itself generally being made of wood. Typically served with a sort of sauce. Return
  • Oni are a sort of yokai (spirit/demon) from traditional Japanese mythology. Often translated as ogres or demons in contemporary English works, they tend to have sharp claws and wild hair, with horns sprouting from their heads. The very image of fear. Return
  • The saluki is a dog breed originating from the Fertile Crescent (ie: the Cradle of Civilization, ‘Mesopotamia was here’-type thing). Known for their eyesight and have droopy ears with long, curved tails. Return
  • Not sure if this explanation is necessary, but ‘pugilist’ is just another word for ‘unarmed fighter’. Return
  • For a good description of what tsukkomis are and what brought them about, I highly recommend reading this entry of a few sentences. Return
  • Satchet! Return
  • Recall this line from Chapter 2: [Rumors like Orbwight Kingdom’s arena being closed due to racket about fixed matches or an ice dragon seen northeast Akradist Kingdom, things like that.] Return

68 thoughts on “The Guild’s Cheat Receptionist — Chapter Three

  1. Ayeee thanks man. Been waitin forever for this. Only to realize I forgot everything so I’ll be spending time rereading it xD

      1. Its a big enough chapter that it takes me a long time to read, and that’s with a reading speed of about 700 wpm(1500 if I try hard and 2000 skimming), so if it didn’t take you a long time to tl I’d be really surprised.

  2. i just want to understand why it takes so long? is the way its writen different or confusing way? the contents (as far as i can tell could be wrong) seems about the same a mabey double/ tripple a normal chapter. i dont mean too sound ungratefull i just dont understand.

    1. This is a ln or a actual physical book not a wn that you can copy paste the chapter in a text editor.
      This is 40% of the chapter translated which is 9395 words meaning Ziru has to read the book, then type it into a text editor(this is a maybe), then type out the translation. ziru has basically typed the more twice word count of top selling novels(in the west idk about word count averages in japan) for 40% of a chapter so you can think of this 1 chapter(translated) is as about as long as 4-5 chapters of _Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone_ which is a quarter to a third of the Harry Potter. Which i think anyone can see is a shit ton of work.

    2. Sorry if this comes off strong, I just wanted to emphasize the difference in length. But… uhhhh, I’m really confused by your comment. This felt waaaaaaay longer than a double/triple chapter when I was reading it. So… what in the world are you comparing this to?

      Let’s break it down into chapters of the other series Ziru translates. If we’re looking at let’s say the previous chapter of Lazy Dungeon Master, it was around 750 words. If we look at the previous chapter of Dragon’s Bloodline, then it’s about 1800 words. If you look at this chapter currently, without the illustration, it’s about 9400 words. This would mean that, this portion alone is worth ~13 chapters of Lazy Dungeon Master or ~5 chapters of Dragon’s Bloodline. Don’t forget that this is only 40% of the chapter, which means that the full chapter will probably be somewhere around 23000 words. Furthermore, you have to remember that Ziru’s been putting out chapters of those other series relatively consistently week after week too.

      With real life and probably also difficulties with translating, that’s a lot of time investment.

    3. It’s a mix of a few things. Quite a bit longer than standard chapters. Keigo almost 24/7 in the branch and making it sound right in English while still being able to know who’s talking is much harder (for example, that part where Ilya spoke super polite to the two as she told them to leave? Sadistic, but entirely polite and courteous in Japanese). I generally pay much more attention to dialogue in this series than the other ones… yeah. Plus, this series has to share its translating time with two other series + donation queue.

      In the end, ‘reasons’ haha. It’s all good~

  3. Huge bummer about the loss of that flash drive, hope it’s still there. That aside, thanks for the translations as always~

    The two thieves being forced into work was pretty hilarious, but their development was quite an enjoyable read. Definitely a very warm spot to leave off.

    Edits/suggestions:

    “When the previous generation’s king invited Akradist’s first princess to be his queen, its importance as a base to be lost”
    The second “to be” -> “was”?

    “there were twelves large tables that faced the main street placed on the terrace”
    “twelves” -> “twelve”

    “Currently, Ria, Rachelle and the wolf beastkin Darren were on the second floor serving tables. Elizah, Clarice, and Cynthia were moving about the first floor serving tables.”
    Wanted to point out that the oxford comma isn’t consistent in both sentences.

    “Ilya, who had judged that such roundabout methods wouldn’t any progress, ”
    “wouldn’t make any progress”?

    “Thieves Guild members, Bard-san. Katie-san.”
    Is that supposed to be a comma instead of a period before Katie?

    “Their restraints had been undone when they were put in the this prison after their interrogation”
    You’ve got a spare “the” or “this”.

    “Bard was erasing his presence while concealed in a spot he could see the branch”
    “in a spot where he”?

    “Mages that were able to kill a lot of things even low class magic like Lula and York were rare”
    “even” -> “with”? Or is it supposed to be “with even low class magic”?

    “you could roughly predict how capable a mage travelling with a group of warriors had”
    “had” -> “was”

    “On the contrary, he smiled to to and relieve them”
    Not sure about this one. At the very least, you doubled up on the “to”.

    “Their conversation primarily comprised of the construction work’s progress and the cost of hiring people for additional constructions”
    “constructions” -> “construction”

    “Ilya was loving on Haku since she thought it would be boorish to interrupt their conversation when there was a knock at the door”
    Thinking “doting” might be better than “loving” here.

    “Should be put out an emergency commission”
    “be” -> “we”

    “The village may have trouble bearing the it”
    Extra “the” at the end.

    “such as increasing tax or taking a loan”
    “tax” -> “taxes”

    “Next to Katie who was blinking her eyes, Ria closed her locked and headed to the office”
    “locked” -> “locker”

    1. Thanks fixed em all.

      “Is that supposed to be a comma instead of a period before Katie?” Raw had a period so I kept it. I imagine she paused, looking at both in turn as she said it.

      ““even” -> “with”? Or is it supposed to be “with even low class magic”?” Even with ^^

      “Thinking “doting” might be better than “loving” here.” Was thinking on this a bit when the sentence came up. Went with “loving on” initially due to how people “love on” their pets as slang. That said, yeah, doting probably fits better.

        1. I think both work (looking at the raw), but I feel that [even with] feels more like “Unlike most, even with weak magic, they can do it.” — something like that?

          (While “with even” -feels- like it focuses less on the peoples’ capability)

  4. Thank you for your hard work…is what I’d like to say, but holy cow this chapter is long, to the point that ‘chapter’ seems like the wrong word. If I were you, I’d take it on even smaller chunks. But thanks again.

  5. Thanks for the chapter!

    Got a question.

    “When it was known as Pinéadist, it had developed into a majorly fortified city-base as defense against invasions from the east.

    However, the Pinéa region merged together during the king before last’s reign. When the previous generation’s king invited Akradist’s first princess to be his queen, its importance as a base to be lost. Still, it changed into an important trade route to the royal capital. From then on, its walls no longer suited it as it transitioned into an agricultural city.

    Not that it had a specialty product even though it was called an agricultural city either. Two big thieves guilds that were entrenched in Rondéville, led by [Sal of the Copper Paper] and [Mabelt of the Lotus], mutually fought for supremacy to rule its underground.”

    This is all talking about Luneville and not Pineaville right? The next section immediately starts talking about Frank and Hector and how they expelled the thieves guild. The “agricultural city” “no specialty products” “city-base” don’t match the description of Pineaville as a trading port city flourishing shipping and fishing industries. I was really confused when reading this part and had to spend a couple minutes trying to sort it out in my head.

    1. Thanks for pointing this out. I’ll check the tl for that part again when I wake up tomorrow, heading off to bead right now… If I recall (and it’s been quite a long time since I did that part), I felt the same confusion here. It’s probably from me getting something backwards in one of the two paragraphs.

  6. freaking awesome work and i love this LN. its so long (for a chapter) yet so short. (its just 40%, goodie! XD). i read this stuff so fast though and i know TL is like 5x longer than reading, but thanks for the work.

    About that flash drive, hope for you its still there. my friend lost a custom michelin man USB key i gave him – it was small but so awesome – and i cant get any more of them. he even turned the house upside down (litterally) trying to find it before moving out of it and never located it. Hopefully you have better luck than him. haha.

    ❤ Thanks.

  7. Thanks. No wonder it took you so long. I suggest you divide the chapters even further, this way it’d reduce the pressure put on you, and we wouldn’t end up forgetting previous chapter’s contents.

  8. Thanks for the translation of this series! just discover this series a few weeks ago…and it has been a good read until this newest chapter.

    …i want to ask something (hope you don’t mind), is it really only 40% of this chapter translated?

    since i saw that the progress has been 40% since February (based on the comment section) and i haven’t seen any updates of this series ever since i finished it about two weeks ago

    …hope for an update of this series

  9. Just after reading the prologue, I immediately bought volume 1, 2, 2.5 and buying 3 at a later date. XD

  10. Thanks for the translation.

    I had originally decided to wait for the whole chapter to go out before reading, but I changed my mind today; that’s why I offer this edits so late:

    Seeing Katie making a blue face, Ria smiled wryly. <-This is an interesting idiom, and taking into account that originally also meant "green", it's very interesting that the equivalent in Ancient Greek was translated is "a green face". However, in modern English the correct expression is "a pale face" (in-scene, it means that she's become livid from nervousness and fear when she heard she'll lost the help).

      1. The translation is right as words. The problem is the difference in choice of words for a natural diction. The word “ao” usually means “blue”, but in “aoringo”, “aoshingo” and “aomori” it means “green”, and in “aogao”, the expression in question, it means “pale”.

  11. ミ /彡   
    ..ミ、|ミ //彡 Thanks!
    ミ.|.ミ/ ./.|  Ziru!!
    .|//|.  []. ∧_∧
    /.  []    (´・ω・`)
    ┬┬┬┬┬-0┬0‐┬┬
    ‐┼┼┼┼┼‐┼┼┼┼┼
    ┼┼┼┼┼┼‐┼┼┼┼┼
    (A Ziru’s Musings Special)

  12. That moment when it takes you 2-3 days to finish reading a GCR chapter…
    Respect to the Ziru though! Translating is harder than reading!

    Thnx for the long chappy~ Nanodesu~

  13. someone plz explain to me how perfume or a sachet will help you avoid being sniffed out? the bours can just follow the perfume smell…

    1. Carry strong smelling sachet, boar locks on you. Pin sachet to tree while running away, boar gets confused and rams tree. Something like that.

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