Guild Master – Chapter 51

Note: I got something wrong again. Fml.
Do you remember that White Goat became White Aries? Okay, do you remember that there are two sheep-like zodiac signs? I know you already guessed what I’m about to say. “White Aries” is actually “White Capricorn” and I’m a damn moron not to have noticed it for the last 50 chapters (which took me around 3 years to translate).
Okay google, how to grow a few brain cells.
Jeez, they’re even written differently in Japanese (牡羊 = male sheep = Aries; 山羊 = mountain sheep = Capricorn). Stupid me.
The other error was in chapter 30: the “ghost blade” was actually a “spirit blade” (like the one that Dick uses), and it didn’t grant Cody only one single power, as we can see from this chapter.
I’ll try to be more careful and avoid this kind of stupid slip-ups again in the future, sorry.


Purple Scorpio and the hero wielding the light sword

Cody headed to Purple Scorpio’s headquarter after parting ways with the other Miracle children. She soon stepped into the 5th Street.

As far as she knew, there weren’t as many public order issues as the 12th Street, so Silver Aquarius had it rougher.
Cody doubted Purple Scorpio’s wickedness.

Still, once she asked for their headquarter, her opinion changed drastically.
The building she was looking for apparently wasn’t in that street, as endless rows of private houses stretched all through the block.
Purple Scorpio had camouflaged their headquarter to make it look exactly like any other building of the street, and located their base underground.

Only someone with a guilty conscience would place their base underground… I guess their Guild Master always had a wicked personality.

Cody’s mission was to free Purple Scorpio’s Guild Master from the collar that controlled him.

The strongest adventurer in that guild was a S rank, so not even an army of them would have posed a threat to her. She could fight them all and probably win unscathed.

However, she thought it was better not to attract unwanted attention until she completed her mission. She suppressed her urge to break into the front door of what was supposed to be Purple Scorpio’s headquarter and slipped behind the building looking for a rear door.

As she walked, a couple of beasts detected her and readied to jump on their prey.
Purple Scorpio wasn’t a guild that could be taken too lightly—they left tamed wolves to guard their places.

I like dogs, and wolves are so cute…! No, wait, they’re a bit scary.

Two huge wolves charged at her from different directions, growling like hungry beasts. Their mouth was wide open and their sharp teeth were ready to sink in the girl’s flesh.
She reacted in a moment, bringing her hand over her head and summoning the sword of light.

Flash veil.

A blinding light exploded in front of the wolves. They fell on the ground writhing in pain and Cody chose not to kill them. Turning them powerless was enough.

Magic sword release—Harmonics.

Her light sword turned into a tuning-fork-shaped sword in her hand and started vibrating, putting the two beasts to sleep in a few moments.
She knew that she still had a long way to go compared to Dick, but she still wanted to catch up to him when it came to magic swords and spirits, that’s why she made a lot of researches about them.

The wolves rolled over and lied down with their bellies in plain sight, peacefully asleep.
Looking at their beautiful fur, Cody smiled while letting her magic sword disappear.

“You’re so cute when you sleep… everything is…!”

The woman stood still in front of the door, keeping an ear out for people, but she could hear nothing coming from behind it. It looked like it was soundproof.
She made sure that the door hadn’t traps of any kind, then summoned her light sword again and slipped it in the crevice of the door, cutting the lock.

She could project the light spirits of her sword within the building to grasp its structure by feeling how they reflected on the surfaces.

It would’ve been dangerous if I never used this trick on our expedition…

Dick had never seen Cody change her clothes exactly thanks to that—she used this trick to detect his position within the places they slept in. She was sorry about it, but she didn’t want to let him know about her.

She remembered clearly how surly he was at first and how she never understood what was crossing his mind. She had never got in contact with a boy almost as strong as her, so she never let her guard down, and she now came to regret it.

During their expedition, Cody saw that Dick was the kindest person in the world with girls. No matter how unreasonable or egoistic the other three were: even when they said they wanted to quit and forget about it, he just accepted their words.
She believed that men weren’t trustworthy, and she soon came to hate herself for that.

Maybe I’m just fickle… does he feel more at ease now that he knows about me and I don’t have to hide anymore? Am I the only one who’s stressing over it and thinking that it might’ve been better if he never knew?

She asked Dick to train together because they were friends, but it wasn’t like he had to keep his ‘promise’ at all costs.
However, if she really believed that, why had she reminded him about it?

The more she thought about all of that, the more she believed that she had made another mistake.
He shouldn’t have found out about her.
Her mind kept clinging to the same thought—when did he come to know about me?
Was it right for her to ask him directly?

Cody stepped into her destination, brushing those thoughts away, and walked into a room.
It was a kitchen, but there weren’t food or ingredients stocked in there. It looked uninhabited.
A stingy smell of mold pricked at her nostrils.
She guessed that it was just a set up place to deal with intruders or visitors. Still, somewhere in that house was the path to Purple Scorpio’s underground headquarter.

Cody was envious of Dick’s full mask in that moment and pulled out an handkerchief to cover her nose and mouth, fastening it around her head. Thinking that she now looked like a robber made her smile.
She readied herself to secure the man that was tailing her and pretended to let her guard down to let him get closer, then she turned around in the blink of an eye and twisted one of his arms behind his back, pushing him to the wall.
The man let out a groan of pain.

“Trust me, you don’t want to move. Were you checking on the wolves? I already put them to sleep.”

The man didn’t answer and soon gave up on freeing himself from her grasp.
She was holding him with only one hand, so she used the other to extract his poisoned short sword from his belt, throw it away and then destroy it with her sword of light.

The man looked extremely surprised, but he kept silent as a lightning-speed attack, impossible to be seen by his eyes, made his short sword melt.
Cody could control the ray lights of her sword and turn them incandescent. She called it ‘light eraser’ and it allowed her to cut through metal like it was butter. It could also set things ablaze if she concentrated enough light on one thing.

The short sword fell on the ground completely melted, and the man, who should’ve been used to violence and insane situations, was now trembling in fear.

“The law allows people to use poisoned weapons only to hunt beasts outside the capital. Can you explain why were you carrying one around here?”

Losing his cool, the man started to scream and struggle to run, but she pinned him to the wall with too much strength, and then decided to silence him by hitting him behind his neck, like Dick did in the past when he saved her.
The man limply fell on the ground the next moment and silence filled the air again.

I guess I’m not suited to these kind of operations… I’m not smart like Dick, I don’t really know how to move…

“Hey, why’re you screami—!”

She wanted to end it all in silence, but the enemy had been alerted.
After she ‘put the enemies to sleep’, she turned her light blade into the tuning-fork-shaped one again and used its sound to make them powerless like she did with the wolves.

Cody slapped one of the fainted men awake and had him tell her what she needed to do to reach the basement, then she hit him again to sleep.
She had to look for the scorpion statue on the first floor and unlock a secret passage with it.

Cody confirmed that the poisoned short swords of her fainted enemies looked slightly worn out, which meant that Purple Scorpio wasn’t different from a guild of killers, then she hurriedly destroyed them.

She didn’t want to exploit her own power to crush them all like powerless ants, but that was exactly the urge that was slowly welling in her heart.

Maybe trying to suppress this impulse is another reason why Dick wanted to join a guild…

Cody was now a leader, so she didn’t have many occasions to fight alone. She always found it boring, but she had slowly understood that she was blessed.

She thoroughly searched the floor and finally found the scorpion statue and the contrivance in the hallway wall—a lock-like crevice where she could insert the statue’s sting. After doing so and turning it, a section of the wall slid away, leaving an opening behind that revealed the stairs to the basement.

Cody thought that she was going to face a lot of enemies from that moment, so she set her spirit sword to ‘auto-counter’, forcing it to shoot down every projectile that flew her way with its ray lights, and unsheathed her duty sword, which was just a normal sword unlike her spirit one.
There were a lot of enemies lurking in the shadows. They held sickle and chains, woodman’s hatchets, crossbows, blow guns; but none of them could harm Cody as she advanced by mowing them down.

They never talk… I guess assassins never spell a word in fight.

All their attacks were aimed to vital and sensible parts, but none of them ever reached her body as they were one-sidedly crushed.
After she had defeated around twenty of them, she finally reached the last door.

The air changed in there—miasma wafted and stagnated in the motionless hallway. She wondered if she was going to face the Guild Master in that room as she relaxed ever so slightly while solving the mechanism to open the door.

Then, as gears started to turn and the iron door slid open, someone jumped down the ceiling and stabbed her with a talon knife.

“Die.”

The tone of that male voice conveyed an evident bloodlust as the poisoned blade pierced through Cody’s back, which distorted and vanished.
The man was confused.
The next moment, he clearly heard footsteps coming from the dark room that had just opened in front of him—three more copies of Cody emerged from the darkness.

Those were highly detailed illusions born not by mere Illusion Magic.
Cody could control light, which meant that she could manipulate the light that entered her foe’s vision to create perfect copies of herself.

The assassin in front of her wore a battered deep purple overcoat and his entire body was covered with bandages—that was Purple Scorpio’s Guild Master. He had yet to recover from the fight he had with Clave Garland.
Cody looked at the contraption that circled around his neck with pity, as she tried to recall the chronological order that brought everything to this point.

“You had it though, but there’s no need to push yourself so hard anymore. You don’t have to fight in that state.”

The man shrieked and charged the Cody he heard speaking: he bent his body forward to be faster and readied his talon knife to slice the intruder, but the head of knights’ Light Mirage ability wasn’t that simple to overcome.

Manipulating the light that someone sees means that she could mess and destroy her foe’s sense of orientation: even if he tried to attack the source of the sound, he would only slice through thin air.

Exactly at the same time that his weapon cut through what he believed was his target, his collar had been severed and he fell unconscious.
Cody had completed her mission with a single slash of her light sword. She decided to use her strongest weapon to pay her respects to the pitiful man collapsed at her feet.

“Sleep tight. I’ll force you to make up for your wrongdoings when you wake up.”

Then, Cody turned her light blade into the tuning-fork-shaped one and rang it.
Purple Scorpio’s Guild Master should’ve had protective equipment against sound attacks, but she guessed that being controlled by the collar made him act only by instinct and not by logic.

She noticed that she had cut through his guild tag’s chain along with his collar, so she picked it up and read it—his job was ‘Master thief’. It meant that he had been a proper adventurer who finished all his duties and achieved all the criteria to become a master.

Thieves were usually called bandits, but adventurer thieves weren’t like that. Still, many ended up becoming assassins and bandits thanks to their lock-picking abilities, the tricks up their sleeves and their sly nature.

Cody, looking with even more pity at the collapsed man, thought that people shouldn’t ‘buy’ one another’s strength only for egoistic means. Adventurer guilds should’ve kept adventuring, just like their name suggested, not limiting themselves to only accept requests.

She wondered if Dick thought the same. She was sure he would listen to her if she talked to him about it.
Then, Cody picked up the broken collar and left the building.

A great idea was floating in her mind.

Since their expedition against Verlaine hadn’t been a real adventure, she wanted to try the real deal with the other Miracle children. They never did anything like that so far, and as the general of the army, she would’ve taken quite the long holiday to go…!

Then, the flow of her thoughts was interrupted.

The magic tool that Dick handed her, the magic stone piece, started vibrating, signaling that Dick and Mylarka were having a hard time in their fight.

It was hard to believe, but Cody guessed that they were facing someone at least as strong as them.
She had to hurry.

She left Purple Scorpio to the members of Silver Aquarius and the knight’s order, then she headed to the 1st Street.


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Guild Master – Chapter 50

The hero’s teacher and the plan to normalize the guilds

I stood around until Claive was brought in one of Red Gemini’s confinement rooms, then I left.

I contacted Leeza with a magic tool, which I had crafted myself, capable of keeping us in touch from long distances and asked her to stand-by until I got there. She was currently at Black Leo’s and I planned ahead to hurry over if it was under attack, but she reassured me saying that nothing of the sort had happened. Leonid was sound asleep, snoring loudly in his own house.

All the members of my intelligence team had that magic tool. It allowed us to communicate instantaneously as long as we were within the capital.

A magic tool can be crafted as long as someone who can use magic has the knowledge to do so. There is a way to make the magic affecting them last forever, otherwise it would weaken by the day and eventually disappear.

The guy who controlled Claive is a third party unaffiliated with anyone… Controlling a SS rank adventurer like that means that they are very strong…

I would’ve never defeated Verlaine, who was a SSS rank foe, without all the others Miracle children, which were said to be born once every thousand years. So far, I had met only another person I knew who was as much strong—if not abysmally stronger—than us…

The woman who taught me magic—my teacher.

I was thirteen last time I had seen her. It was right before I joined the expedition party.

She was a free spirit who wandered around the world.
I bet she had already forgotten about me and picked another pupil on a whim…
She was the kind of person who always did whatever she wanted.

If I had to figure out who had buffed Claive so much and crafted those collars… she was the only one I could think of.

She was the moodiest mystery wandering the lands: her actions swayed from the kindest to the most aberrant.
She was called ‘Ashen clown’.

I didn’t want to think that she was now in the capital to pick a fight with me and I didn’t wish it either. However, it was totally possible given her personality.

“Di—kid, I so want you to kill me, that’s why I’ll raise you.”

Her words rang clearly in my mind.
She always smiled and laughed like a child, and yet was always out of reach like the best of adults.

I didn’t come back to her when the expedition against Verlaine was over.
I never understood her and I could never tell what passed through her mind.

Did she pick another pupil and got involved with White Capricorn on a whim? Was all this part of her plan…?

The more I racked my brain, the more I was convinced that it was her.
I never knew someone else who could use Support Magic other than the two of us.

However, controlling one of the Miracle children or Verlaine would be way harder than subduing a SS rank adventurer.

I hoped my guess was wrong… but I couldn’t just discard the possibility that we were going to face my teacher.
I felt like this matter’s showdown was drawing near… and I had to do whatever I could to end it quickly.

◆◇◆

I stopped thinking too hard about it when I reached Leeza, who had her eyes wide open as she looked at the ruins of a gate.

“W-What the heck happened? It looks like a tornado destroyed only this part…!”
“White Capricorn’s leader did this… it’s kinda amazing. I’m glad that Black Leo is fine, anyway.”
“Y-Yes, I have nothing relevant to report… only that Black Leo’s security guard saw a suspicious guy wandering around.”

Claive must’ve thought that he could use Sherry’s ability to control men and decided to ‘subdue’ Red Gemini first.

He only took a look at Black Leo, then thought it was better to gain full control over their affiliated guilds before destroying an unaffiliated one.

“By the way, Master, can I ask you something? We have a rule that forbids us to get involved and meddle with other guilds, right? Why are we breaking it?”
“Because we need to, this is an exception. In this specific case we need to investigate and understand what’s going on in the other guilds.”
“Okay, if you say so… Here, Sakuya and the others wrote down what they’ve found.”

Only three of the seven guilds affiliated to White Capricorn had changed lately: Purple Scorpio, Blue Sagittarius and Green Cancer.
I had already stopped Blue Sagittarius with the demi-humans’ matter, so this time I had to face the others two.

White Capricorn kept their requests accessible only to their affiliated guilds and stopped accepting general ones. I heard that many of their adventurers had left their guilds lately, which was weird, but I couldn’t tell what had happened and I didn’t receive any more information about that.

“The rule not to accept general requests shouldn’t apply to people who make a living out of it… but White Capricorn doesn’t care about it. Maybe their Guild Master and leaders forced them all into this… in that case, it wouldn’t be strange for the people most far from them to leak information, but they are keeping their guard up. Maybe they’re forbidden to say anything about it… I think they’re keeping their information under control.”
“I see… so those guilds are White Capricorn’s puppets in every way.”
“Yes. Sakuya said that getting carelessly close to that guild would lead to deadly fights. That’s probably the reason behind Purple Scorpio’s silence. They kept leaking some information until a little while ago, but then they stopped altogether.”

When Aileen faced those guys from Purple Scorpio, I thought they might’ve just accepted a request.

But what if that wasn’t it?
What if Purple Scorpio and Green Cancer gave up their decency and kept dirtying their hands due to White Capricorn’s control?
What if all this started way before this mess?

“This situation is very abnormal. I think that prying in this matter any further might lead our guild and all of its members to face some serious danger. Master, what should we do next?”
“You’ve done enough, leave the rest to me.”
“A-Are you serious…? Do you want to face White Capricorn and those crazy guilds at once? I mean, I firmly believe that you can do it, okay? Sorry for putting it like this, but—this isn’t like you, Master.”
“Yeah, I feel the same way. I minded my own business so far to create a proper environment for our guild. We needed it.”

Leeza stared at me absent-mindedly for a few seconds, then giggled.

“Got it. I guess that’s more like you. I’m glad to see that you’re the same old Master.”
“Leeza, join Sakuya for a while if you can. I’m afraid that our enemy might try to attack you singularly.”
“Okay, I’ll leave everything to the fighting teams. Wish you the best.”

She nodded to me before disappearing in the night. I felt better now: if I ordered her to stay safe, I had no need to worry about her or the other members of the intelligence team. They were all very careful and dutiful.

Now, taking over three guilds at the same time meant to split my men and choose the right ones for the specific mission I was going to assign them.

My duty was to find the third party affiliated to White Capricorn, which might be stronger than Verlaine and tough enough to give the Miracle children a headache, and handle them myself.

I didn’t care who I was going to face: we all wanted and needed to end this quickly. I didn’t want to see someone suffer like Red Gemini again.

◆◇◆

The next morning, I gathered the expedition party in the Magic Academy’s training fields.
Aileen looked in high spirits as she started to talk.

“Dick, where should I go? Can I face Purple Scorpio? They look like the most dangerous of the three.”
“Sure, but a lot of them use poison. I think it would be better to send a long-ranged fighter against them.”
“Then let me go. They made a target of the knights too, so I should drop them a visit.”

Purple Scorpio was like the guild of darkness: they abducted people and had a lot of assassins among their members. They accepted any kind of awful requests, so it was probably fate that Cody—the Holy sword of light—was going to face them.

“Yuma, can I leave Green Cancer to you? They use a lot of golems, but you should be able to dispel and nullify them. If Aileen is with you, nothing should pose a threat.”
“Yes. I am honored to help you. Golems are mere vessels for human souls and spirits, after all…!”
“Great! No worries, Yuma, I’ll protect you! I can use my other form as well since you can cleanse me! Sorry for bothering you so much last time~!”

Her strength multiplied several folds along with the impulse she felt to destroy everything every time she ‘transformed’, and later she had to face a lot of side-effects. She never said much about it, so I had yet to know them in detail.

Mylarka, who stood in silence until that moment, locked eyes with me.

“I guess we’re against White Capricorn, then… they should be the hardest to bring down, but I doubt they’ll be a problem for us.”
“I really hope so. As far as I can tell, they might have a SSS rank guy helping them.”

Cody, Aileen and Mylarka looked at me, tension wafting in the air—deep within their gazes burned the will to fight.

“Dick, I’ll be right there as soon as I finish my job.”
“We brought down Verlaine together. It might be coward to fight as a team, but the expedition party cannot lose against anything.”
“I’m curious ’bout what they can do, honestly… I hope it won’t end in a second.”

Shoot, there was no one I could trust more than these three. Claive would learn so much from these guys that all my teachings would pale in comparison.

“By the way, I’d love to spar with you again once it’s all over, Dick. I honestly thought we were going to train together today, since you called me.”
“S-Sorry. I’ll try to save up some time for you as soon as possible, Cody.”
“Alright, I won’t push the matter any further. I just wanted to make sure you remembered. It would hurt if you didn’t.”

Cody had a change of mind and brought her long sword instead of a sparring one. She barely had any occasion to use her light sword, but this time was one of them.

Then, we all took out our masks and everyone stared at mine.

“Dick, that mask has a great design. I want it too.”
“Aww~! Look at you, Dick! No one knew you crafted a new mask only for yourself~!”
“I agree. You can cover all your face with that… can I ask one too?”
“My, it looks wonderful on you~♪ You truly look like a hero now.”
“G-Girls… it’s the same old mask you have, I only changed it a little…”

I always felt very close to these three, but for some reason, I felt our relationships deepening by the day.

Nothing had changed between us since the expedition: creating the masked saviors only confirmed it. Now we had lots of chances to feel it on our skin. I didn’t know if they enjoyed it as much as I did, but I was really glad that we could push forward together.

White Capricorn was losing to insanity?
We were ready to beat some common sense in their skulls.
The next moment, we started carrying on our duties.


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Guild Master – Chapter 49

The third party and the strongest piece

Thanks to Sherry’s magic, Clave spilled everything about the raid, the damage they caused and the people they hurt on the way there.
Then, I spoke while looking for a way to properly punish him.

“Answer all our questions, and know that you will pay for your every answer.”
“Yes… ask me anything… Milady’s acquaintances deserve the same respect I have for her…”

He answered with the usual creepy polite way he had been using since Aroma started to affect him.
Lotte, who had finished inspecting the man, was now holding another of those collars.

“Big sis, it looks like they cannot mass-produce these things. We only found two, and I guess they were meant to be around our neck… right? Oww, I’m getting goose bumps.”
“Who gave you the order to attack our guild?”

Sherry cut to the chase—that was the core question that floated in her heart for a good while now.

“My Guild Master wanted me to accept this order, there was a seal of blood on the request… It was interesting. If I bent the two of you to my will, I would’ve gained quite some benefits. Still, I failed to, and—ugh!”

A loud thud resounded when the chain-flail’s tip heavily stroke the top of his head.
Lotte’s eyes were cloudy and dark, almost like the light of reason had left them. Shivers ran down my spine.

“Your words are scum and totally unfitting your current position, you powerless failure. You are a worm that doesn’t deserve to breathe. It would be better to just chop you to pieces and why not doing so with the scythe you brought with you…? Don’t you agree, Big sis, Lord Dick?”
“Well, he surely is disgusting, so I wouldn’t stop you. Honestly, I wouldn’t even try to, since you look pretty scary right now. Can you please stop freaking me out?”
“Wow, you managed to scare Dick… I’m sure he was smirking like a kid until a minute ago, and yet…! You’re amazing, Lotte…”
“Wha—B-Big sis, did I do something worth your praise…? Sorry, I’ve lost myself for a moment back there…! Oh no, the flail moved on its own again!”

If Lotte let ‘the flail move on its own’ again, Clave would probably end up undergoing a sex change… in the physical sense of the term.
We had to gather all the information we could before it was too late.

“Your Guild Master uses blood seals whenever they order you to do something very important?”
“I-It all started… when I came to the capital… and formed a contract with White Capricorn… My Guild Master… is the same rank as me… I don’t have a reason… to follow his orders…”
“Clave, get it together and answer properly. Why do you look so dizzy?”

I grabbed him from his lapel and lifted him a little, then I remembered—I had cast a buff on the twins and a debuff on him.

Currently Lotte was strengthened to a SS rank, and Clave was weakened to a B rank. If he didn’t die by her hand just now, it was because she only wanted to hurt him…
That was a close call.

“Tell me why you listen to your Guild Master’s orders.”
“‘That guy’ could… improve my power…”
“Who is ‘that guy’? Your Guild Master or someone else?”

Clave didn’t reply to Sherry’s question. He didn’t know the answer.

If ‘that guy’ could buff his powers, I guessed Clave was actually weaker than expected and had been buffed before the raid.

This also meant that there was someone in White Capricorn who could use Support Magic. They were the reason behind Clave’s loyalty, although he never got to see the caster.
‘That guy’ had the same low-profile attitude I had. Thinking about it made me smile wryly.

White Capricorn’s Guild Master acted to expand their control over their affiliated guilds, but that could be a mere facade. Maybe there was someone else pulling the strings of this matter.

“If ‘that guy’ is in the capital right now, it should be possible to find him, right…?”
“Sherry, things might get muddy from now on. Can I install a transfer circle in your guild? That way I can come here instantly if anything happens again.”
“I mean… transfer circles are very pricey. Our guilds aren’t even that far apart…”
“W-Why…? Big sis and I have our duty as the heads of our guild. We cannot rely on other Guild Masters so much… but I’ll respect what Big sis wants.”

Lotte glanced at Sherry, who looked hesitant. It was understandable.
A special crystal imbued with Transfer Magic had to be used to install a transfer circle. They were extremely rare and could be found only in the ancient dungeons every several months.

However, I could’ve stopped the invaders before anyone was injured if Red Gemini sensed the incoming attack on time. Thinking about it, wasn’t it better to install a transfer circle into the guilds I was in friendly relations with?

After a few more seconds, Sheery turned to look at me.

“Could you teach me how to use it when it’s ready…? I don’t want it to be wasted given its value…”
“Sure. It isn’t hard to use, but it’s basically impossible for humans to make one from scratch.”
“Clave, this is confidential. Pretend you didn’t hear anything… oh, he isn’t listening.”
“Oh no…! Big sis! Bring some water, hurry!”
“Oh c’mon… don’t die on us.”

Lotte’s attack had probably hit harder than we thought and Clave was now unconscious. I cast Healing Magic on him to bring him back to his senses.
Thinking about it, we could’ve tortured him by looping her attacks and my healing… we didn’t really have time for that, but it didn’t sound like a bad idea…!

“Are there other Guild Masters who had to be controlled by these collars?”
“Purple Scorpio’s Guild Master… stole one from me and tried to force it around my neck… but I won and put it on him instead…”
“Why does this scum look so prideful now…?”
“Lotte, put away your flail or we won’t gather enough information. You’re too strong right now, floor and walls might collapse if you hit them with all your strength.”

So Purple Scorpio was under White Capricorn’s control, huh…?

I wasn’t really glad to help them given their sick ideals, but they could become very bothersome in this case.

And yet… I had to be honest.

Purple Scorpio’s members were assassins who accepted any request for the right price. That ideal was far from the ‘right’ adventurer’s, but it was exactly because there were people who needed someone to take care of dirty jobs that Purple Scorpio was still an active guild.

It was better to bring them on the right way instead of leaving them as White Capricorn’s puppets. They already were criminals, we couldn’t let them become something worse.

Still, attacking them first would attract White Capricorn’s attention, and then everything would’ve become harder to deal with.

What to do, then…?

I only had one solution: disclose White Capricorn’s true nature and free all of their puppet guilds at the same time.

Then, I turned to face Clave.

“I understood that Red Gemini didn’t want to take part in this sick experiment, but did you really need to attack them?”
“What do you mean? Only traitors don’t listen to orders. They don’t need any will. There are guilds like Yellow Pisces and Orange Taurus who obey meekly, and useless guilds like Blue Sagittarius who should just disappear… hahaha!”

He had yet to escape Sherry’s control, but he still managed to show us a scornful smile. I turned to look at Lotte and saw a visible killing intent gushing out her clouded eyes, so I rose my hands to try keeping her at bay.

She was a Gladiator, a savage fighter who always tried to polish her fighting skills to stomp her foes. She wanted to protect her sister so badly that, behind her meek and gentle mask, she hid a real beast.

“I know that this scumbag isn’t the cause behind all this, but I cannot bear myself to hear any more of his words, Sir Dick.”
“I feel the same way, but we have to listen to all he has to say. Lotte, go downstairs and check on your guild members’ condition, please.”
“Okay… sorry. I’ll leave my sister in your hands.”

Lotte looked a bit hesitant, then she handed me over the collar and left the room.
Sherry looked a bit pale from seeing that thing again.

“She might’ve killed him if she kept listening. Her sense of justice is just too strong.”
“Don’t worry, I know that feeling. I’ll make sure he regrets all his words. Now, Clave, one last question. If your guild is not to blame directly for all of this, is there another guild or company that’s pulling the strings?”
“No… there’s only… ‘that guy’…! Ugh! Aaahhh!”

Clave started to scream as he held his head.

Probably ratting the perpetrator out triggered a seal that had been forced on him.
‘That guy’ really knew how to control people.

But it didn’t matter right now—they were the cause of the rotten core of White Capricorn.

The reason why Clave kept calling them ‘that guy’ was clear as well.

Then, Sherry shook her head and tried to take stock of the situation.

“So… this third party is lying about their real strength and controlling White Capricorn which in turn controls all of their affiliated guilds?”
“Yes, I think so. They must be behind the collars too.”
“I let my guard down too much… How could I imagine that the top guild hid such a secret…?”

Sherry bit her lips in regret, but none of this was her fault. White Capricorn was a proper guild until ‘that guy’ took over it.

Sherry didn’t stop her affiliation to White Capricorn and kept accepting their requests, meanwhile her enemy took advantage of that trust to strike all at once.

The guilds had a lot of influence in the city. Dividing them into twelve minor ones was meant to avoid keeping all the adventurers’ strength into a single one. Aileen didn’t officially join my guild for that very reason.
It also served to make them perform things in their own way, like mine specialized into keeping the lowest profile and accepting the most peculiar quests.

But after all those years, someone who wanted all the power for themselves had appeared.

That went against all of my ideals and hopes.
Now that an unknown guy was controlling the top guild, the above reasons had lost their meaning—the guilds’ power division was crumbling like a house of cards.

“Sherry, do you think that it would be too arrogant of me to try restoring the order with my guild when all the others have failed to?”
“Well… taking into account the strength you showed me today, I’m thinking that you could try to do that, but I didn’t expect you to go for it right away. I wouldn’t call your thought arrogant. Honestly, I always found very strange that you never used your power.”

Actually, I used them. I just never used them too seriously to keep a low profile and not attract unwanted attention… but that might’ve been a bit too much for her to know.
Although she might’ve only admired me more.
I could tell that something had changed in the way she looked at me.

“From now on, our guilds will collaborate. Is it okay with you?”
“I… should be the one to request it. I will leave White Capricorn’s affiliation and depend only on ourselves.”
“Lady Sherry, that might be hard for you. People and nobles still trust White Capricorn. What would change if two weak guilds hold each other’s hand? I will be honest: once you free me, you will bow to us again. This is for the best—oof!”
“Just shut your mouth.”

This time Sherry thwacked him with a dropkick on his head, and the blow was so strong that the floor cracked under the impact.

“I think I took it a bit too far… sorry.”
“Oh, don’t worry. By the way, I see that you can force people to tell you what you want but you can’t control the way they say it…”
“Dick…?”

I took one of the collars that Clave had brought with him and put it on him.

“Even a crazy dog like you should stay put now. I’ll leave the rest to Lotte.”
“Dick… are you perhaps mad? You don’t look very different from usual, so I can’t tell for sure…”
“It hardly shows on my face. I rarely get mad at all.”

Sherry smiled at me and I felt my tension loosening its grip on me. It had been quite some time since I last saw her like that.

“I’ll go check on Leonid too now.”
“It’s quite rare to see you on the move. Have you always been? I thought you were just a drunkard since I find you drinking almost every time we met…”
“I am just a drunkard. You’d help me a lot if you keep a secret that I’ve been here tonight. By the way, call me ‘Iron mask’ when I’m like tonight, not Dick.”
“Isn’t that mask too little for your head…? Why don’t you take it off for a minute?”

She took it off slowly, making it slide away with a soft rattling sound.
She was right, I felt a bit more free without it.

“I’m glad that you really are the same Dick I always see drinking.”
“It’s a problem for me if you think that…”
“I don’t care, I’ll go for it.”
“F-Fine… wait, are you sure you want to wear that?”

Sherry put on my mask without the slightest hesitation and I didn’t care too much about the sweat I could’ve left in there. There was barely any, after all.

“How do I look?”
“Good, honestly. I wouldn’t suggest you to wear one, though.”
“That’s… a pity. It’s a bit big for me, but it puts me at ease.”

The tension in the air had vanished, and now only a pleasant calm wafted about. Clave’s presence didn’t bother us much anymore: we felt better, and a spontaneous smile loosened our lips.

Red Gemini and Silver Aquarius were now allies.

What should I do next?
Thanks to Clave, I understood that there was a third party involved in all of this. I had to free all the guilds they were controlling.

I knew I had to ask for help… and maybe the knights’ leader’s support was the best for this case. If I managed to ‘unleash’ the strongest person in the capital from the start, our enemy would think twice before repeating an attack like tonight’s.


<Prev | Index | Next>

2+

Guild Master – Chapter 48

The SSS rank territory

‘Spirit limit holder’ is the debuffing spell that always limits my power.
It affects my body, my mind and my abilities.

I heard that the human brain has a lot of natural limitations, so it can’t be used at its full potential, but what would happen if someone could daily train its unused part…?

To put it simply, they’d acquire the ability to always make the best decision by analizing any situation in an instant.
The ‘absolute right choice’ doesn’t exist, and the average guy hardly keeps up with their surroundings. They might even get themselves into some insane or surreal situation, which are very hard to analyze… but not me. Especially when I remove my limiter.

The blond guy dressed like a god of death had probably yet to notice how much I had changed.
He only looked confused, but his face soon warped due to the rage steaming into him. He realized an unknown enemy had just put him to shame.

“YOU PIECE OF SHIIIT!”

He swung his scythe by his side and sprung forth—his wind spirits helped him close the distance between us in a blink.
He probably thought that a close combat could’ve helped him getting the upper hand, since I could drive him into a corner from the distance.
It’s essential to study the enemy reactions if one wants to breach through them and win. They also have to estimate if they can handle their foe by taking their response directly or avoiding it and hope they didn’t make a slip-up.

The matter is that no one can figure out what’s standing in front of them before the very first exchange of blows.

The man let out a loud scream during his charge and slashed his scythe horizontally to mow me down. I readied myself to intercept his attack with my longsword, then I saw his lips curl into a grin—I was about to fall in his trap.

“Randomizing scissors!”

His scythe was a magic weapon. After being infused with Spirit Magic, a blade suddenly sprung from its top, transforming his scythe into a sort of kama-yari1.
That weapon was enchanted with ‘Elemental frame’, which granted it a powerful affinity to elements, allowing him to frequently activate skills based on wind spirits.
The torrent of magic he poured into his weapon turned into a jinn2 that spiked his wind slashes output—a cutting storm was approaching me.
If I had to physically block that weapon now, its wind slashes would’ve cut through me.

In a split-second, I smiled back at my arrogant enemy.
I only had to react properly. My counterattack had to be a single blow.

“Spirit blade – Attack rise.”

The man’s smile faded away as he goggled his eyes. The next moment, I feigned to slash him from the side, and successfully distracted him from my kick that, hitting his leg, made him trip on the ground.

I wanted to destroy his ego—he wasn’t strong. His ability and the strength of his wind attacks was absolutely noteworthy, but he had yet to breach through my defense.

“Your wind slashes aren’t half bad… but slashing more won’t make you win.”
“Tch! Fuck…!”

He got on his feet right away and started to attack again.
No matter how bold or savage his assault was, all he was doing was rooting me on the spot with an endless stream of attacks.
I could tell he had practiced a lot with spirit magic, since the average adventurer below the S rank could smoothly chant another spell only after overcoming the infamous lingering sense of blankness.

“I’ll raze this guild…! Wind spirits! Break out into a storm! Destroy everything and return this place to nil! Storm tempest!”

“Dick!”
“What?! Big Sis, that masked guy is Dick?!”

Sherry’s voice sounded worried as she called my name. It was understandable given that she had only seen a small part of my power so far.

The former heroes were surely very strong, but seeing them in action was a totally different feeling.
This reminded me of the time I told her I would’ve shown her my real strength if I ever had the chance to, and I still remember how uninterested she looked back then.

Well, the time had finally come. I also had to brand my foe’s memory with dread.
I didn’t really have to go all out while facing someone below the SSS rank, but this guy deserved it.

The man’s blonde hair turned upside as he gathered his magic power within him, creating a little storm all around—the wind spirits were resonating and they started to rampage to mow us down along with the entire building.

“As if I’d be scared by the likes of you!”
“By the likes of me? You mean those who can do this?”

I slashed my sword down, imitating the action that Cody did whenever she used ‘Spirit edge’, one of her sword of light techniques. With that, I sent off something only I could see.

Have you ever wondered how magic works? Many people seal a contract with the spirits and draw some magic power from them when needed in order to change the environment around them.

If they were to ask the fire spirits for help, they would spawn flames.
Water spirits would generate water or crystals depending on the average temperature of the place they’re summoned to.
Earth spirits would rise walls from the soil or create golems that can move.
Wind spirits could trigger even storms if they were drove on a rampage.

However, the caster had to provide the spirits a solid pattern for the attack, otherwise it would fail.
To put it simply: they had to decide how the spirits would act, otherwise nothing would really happen.

In this specific case, I used Sabotage Magic to meddle with the spirits’ course of action. It was very effective to fight ‘modern magicians’ like this, as they hardly knew how to simplify the spirits’ pattern according to their pledge. Sometimes it led them to be unable to do what they had in mind or use magic at all.

“What… what the fuck…! How is it possible…?! I can’t fail…!”

Nothing happened when he activated his spell. If only he had taken a moment to carefully look around him, he could’ve seen that I had literally cut through his magic pattern with my magic blade, but he was clueless.

“Shit…! Wind spirits, come forth and smash these guys! Torn them to pieces! Spirit tempest! SPIRIT TEMPEEEST!”

That spell could’ve razed the entire building to the ground.

It’s said that a SS rank adventurer could raid and conquer a fortress defended by an army of one thousand men in one hour.
The same feat would take only about one minute for an adventurer whose score was above 100.000 points.
Mylarka, Cody, Aileen and I have tested it on some fortress prototypes.
We also were part of that territory.

My score couldn’t be measured, but theoretically, if I had a score of 90.000 and engaged Aileen in an hand-to-hand fight under normal circumstances, I might win. Let me clarify: that score would’ve to take only my physical prowess into account, not my magic power too.

A SS rank adventurer is nothing compared to a SSS rank, and no matter how easy they went on an A rank, the latter would never win.

Finally, the scythe-wielding man figured out that he couldn’t use his magic because something was wrong within him.
He slowly pointed his weapon to Sherry and Lotte, looking at them with mad eyes.

“If this guy minded his own damn business, I would’ve manipulated both of you filthy bitches until your end!”
“Big Sis, leave him to me!”
“No, Lotte! He’s too much for us…!”

A party of six S rank adventurers could defeat a lone SS rank. If Sherry and Lotte attacked simultaneously, maybe they would’ve won with a single attack.

This guy was only a S rank adventurer now that he couldn’t use magic, but it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted him to be even more miserable.

“Spirit rising. Spirit reduce.”

I lent some of my power, around 50.000 points, to Sherry and Lotte for a short time, and terribly weakened our enemy.
His condition wouldn’t have improved any significantly even by asking his spirits to power him up as much as they could.

He tried to attack Lotte without noticing that his fate was already sealed, and let out a groan as he felt his scythe many times heavier than usual.
When I cast Spirit release and used a debuffing spell, I sank the average adult’s strength so much they almost returned to having the strength of a child.
A SS rank adventurer could fall back to be a B rank. It would be anyone’s nightmare.

Lotte steeled her resolve and shouted while attacking her opponent with her chain-flail3. The man blocked the blow but he couldn’t handle the impact and the weapon fell from his hands.

“Big Sis, now!”
“Y-Yes…! Whip bind!”

Sherry’s whip hissed through the air and passed over a wooden ceiling beam, then it descended and coiled around the man, making him hang loose in the air.

“YOU PIECES OF SHIT! I’M GONNA SLAUGHTER YOU! YOU’RE DEAD!”

Maybe being humiliated like that was too much for him to bear and he snapped way beyond the limit that would’ve made me feel any sympathy for him.

As he wriggled and struggled to get free, something fell from his leather belt. I picked it up and confirmed its nature—it was a magic tool. To be precise, it looked like the broken collar that Aileen had tore from Mizuha’s neck.
The only difference was that this one was still untouched: it could still work.

“You said you would’ve manipulated them, right…? Then this works on humans too now, huh? What do you even need this for?”
“MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS! GRRR! LET ME DOWN! LET ME DOOOOOWN!”

The man kept struggling, but as weak as he was, Sherry’s whip showed no sign to lose against him.

“Is that the magic tool you asked us to try…?”
“It makes you control people, right? You wanted us to try it out so that you could control us…? That isn’t fun to imagine. Thinking what would’ve happened if you succeeded at controlling Red Gemini like that is quite scary.”

Sherry and Lotte looked very much alike. The only differences stood in their proportions and hair: Sherry had long hair hanging on her back and a curvier body, while Lotte kept them shorter, about shoulder-length, and had an admirable figure.
They both wore a circular hairpin4 which made them look somewhat coquettish and fresh, especially thanks to their young age.

Lotte coiled her arms around her body as if she was trying to hide it. She was looking at the man hanging from the ceiling beam like he was some sort of filthy beast.
She was a mysophobe5 and she never let her guard down around people, especially men.

The hanging one was now struggling so much he looked about to spit his own saliva, and after a little while he realized that his resistance was futile, and hung his head dejectedly.

“You filthy bitches… I’m gonna rape you…! I will kill you and rape your corpses…!”
“How brave of you not to break down in this situation, but stop spitting those disgusting words. I’m not a saint, you know.”

Yuma would’ve tried to persuade and teach her God’s teachings to any enemy, even a scumbag like this one… but I wasn’t so magnanimous.

“YOU’LL BE THE FIRST ONE I’LL SLAUGHTER! TAKE THAT STUPID MASK OFF AND SHOW ME WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU!”
“Silence! You have no right to speak. You will pay for any other offence to any of us.”

Sherry wore a deadpan expression while looking up to the man who was glaring at her. Still, his gaze gradually lost his strength.

Sherry, the head of Red Gemini, had a unique magic—Aroma. She could control people with that.
She sealed a contract with the spirits of flowers, which allowed her to summon specific plants and make their aroma waft around her. If I was to smell it carelessly, it would’ve been a huge problem even for me.

“It didn’t sound right to me that you want to mimic what I do. Now tell me more about your plan.”
“Yes… Your wish is my command, Milady… Use me as you want…”

Hearing that horrible guy talking so meekly was unsettling. Her power was truly scary…
If she attacked me with it, I could’ve isolated her from her spirits, making her assault ineffective, but she was simply unbeatable for this man. Especially right now.

Wait, thinking about it, a wind spirit user could scatter her aroma, so he might have had the upper hand if they fought alone… but surely not now, so the problem doesn’t arise.

Sherry breathed her aroma on the blonde man’s face, who inhaled it, and something changed drastically in his behavior. When she let him go, he groveled in front of her of his own free will and tried to lick the very same whip that had constrained him until that moment.

“Stop doing this. It’s disgusting and unsightly.”
“Yes… forgive me, Milady…”
“Show me your guild tag and tell me why you came here.”

Sherry took his guild tag from his hand, read it quickly and handed it over me.

Clave Garland.
He was a SS rank adventurer and member of White Capricorn.
Everyone in the room had already heard about him.
Why was White Capricorn doing this? And what did they use their collar for?

Before inquiring him, Sherry and Lotte looked at me without hiding their admiration.

“I couldn’t figure out who you were due to your mask, but… you really helped me back there.”
“I feel the same. You had to be Sir Dick… or rather, you had to be someone special. Your fight was so mind-blowing that I thought I was looking at a play.”

I could feel that there was some lingering tension in the air, but they were fine, so I didn’t have to worry too much.

Then, looking at them, I remembered that I had yet to cast the limiter on myself again.

Spirit limit holder.

I constrained my abilities as usual. If I didn’t, my senses would be way too sharp.
My sight would improved so much I might’ve seen way too far in the distance and analyzed way too many things. I could see the real body of anything through their clothes or masks as well, thing that I absolutely didn’t do with the two girls before limiting my powers again.
I swear.

Then, I noticed that Sherry was staring at me.

“What’s wrong?”
“Oh, nothing at all. Let’s inquire this guy.”
“My… oh my, you are so graceful when you’re this clueless… That’s why people like you would suit my Big Sis so much…!”
“Keep that to yourself, Lotte. None of us want to face a misunderstanding now.”

I could see through her words if I released my limiter again… but sadly, whenever I did it, I kinda stepped out the ‘territory’, or maybe I should call it ‘nature’, of a simple human. I had to pay extra attention to it.

Then, I turned to look at Clave. I was a bit surprised that he was still motionless on his knees.
Despite being ‘only’ a S rank adventurer, Sherry’s powers were quite otherworldly.


1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kama-yari

0

Guild Master – Chapter 47

The invaders and the limiter removal

After we disbanded our meeting and my nightshift at the bar was over, I got ready to visit Red Gemini’s guild in the dead of night. Mizuha and Verlaine came to say bye at the door.

“Sir Dick, it must be rough for yer ter go this late. I wish I could ‘elp yer…”
“Don’t worry. It’s been a long day, you two must be tired. Go get some rest. I only drank the day away, so I’m pretty full of energy.”
“Be careful on your way there. I would love to talk if you come back within two hours.”
“I would luv ter wait for yer ‘ere as well. Cor guv, would I lie to you… but me brother would worry. Tomorrow can I stay over, isit?”
“Yes, feel free to stay whenever you want. Our master will be happy to have both of us at the same time.”
“Why the heck did you stress that ‘at the same time’ so much…?”
“Verlaine and I at the same time…? Yer must mean in that way, i’n it…?!”
“Mizuha, we shall discuss about it in the next days.”

I didn’t know what Verlaine was scheming, but she was having fun. Since she wanted to drag Mizuha into it as well, I bet she wasn’t going for something extreme.

◆◇◆

Red Gemini’s guild was located in the 9th Street, which ran through the ninth block from North to South. Their headquarter was in the southernmost part, a bit far away from residences and shops.

Red Gemini, as opposed to me, thought in big: they owned offices, training schools and restaurants in the zone, and they usually had guards patrolling their perimeter… but no one was around this time.

Then, I saw that a part of the road wasn’t lit by the streetlamps. When I got closer, I noticed the moonlight dimly shining on a destroyed guard station—all the lanterns had been cut in half and were now hanging loosely and empty.

I entered to see what happened, and there I found a man sitting on the floor, one of his hands pressing on a deep cut on his shoulder. He was bleeding from his head too.

“Hey, what happened? Who did this to you?”

I cast Healing Light on him to make him recover a little from his wounds, and the pale man turned to face me with frightened eyes.

“T-There were six of them…! They entered our territory without permission… and when I tried to stop them, they… destroyed the door… and trashed me with their Wind Magic…!”
“I got it, now calm down. This isn’t your fault. Can you tell me who did this?”
“I… I don’t know… Lady Sherry said White Capricorn might come… she said I had to call her right away if it was to happen…!”
“So they might be the perpetrators, huh…?”

He cast his gaze down and nodded as his body was shaken by shivers. He must’ve gone through a hell of a minute.

There wasn’t time to waste, I had to hurry. They were aiming to something.

“You’ll be safer if you stay here until it’s all over. Just stay put, okay?”
“I… I failed to stop the invaders…!”
“Well, this is pretty normal when you get raided all of a sudden. Write an apology and you’ll be fine.”

After I calmed down the man and slapped his shoulder a few times, I got out the door and cast Hiding and Mute on myself to completely hide my presence and deaf all the sounds I could make.
Then, I ran at full speed towards Red Gemini’s headquarter.

As soon as I saw the building, I could hear the noise of fighting coming from the third floor. The doorway of the ground floor had been destroyed by Wind Magic. The average adventurer wasn’t able to do something like this, so one of the two SS rank adventurers of White Capricorn was probably behind it.

The sign of destruction they had left behind was a clear message for Red Gemini: they couldn’t sue White Capricorn to the authorities—this attack was a show of force, an attempt to silence them.

This is awful… Why are they doing this? Is this revenge against Sherry because she refused their request?

I couldn’t jump to conclusions until I was sure of our enemies’ identity.
Before stepping in the building as the masked savior, wearing a full iron mask instead of the usual one that left my mouth and chin uncovered, I steeled my resolve.
I knew I wasn’t going to see anything good in there.

Verlaine’s words echoed in my head: you should extend your control over the others too.
If White Capricorn wasn’t this crazy, I wouldn’t need to take her suggestion into serious consideration.

“This is bad… and I have no choice.”

I let go of my hesitation. Now it was too late to chicken out.
No matter who was going to face me, I had to silence them and carve the horror of my mask in their mind forever… although I didn’t like to act like this.

When I stepped into the building, I saw many members of Red Gemini sprawled on the ground.
Guilds usually have some active members during the night to defend the place against intruders and attacks, but now only two men from White Capricorn were standing in the hall—one was a mage, the other one a swordsman.

When the mage noticed me, he rose his guard ready to fight, and the other unsheathed his sword and charged at me. I avoided the attack by reading his movement and whacked him from behind with the back of my sword, sending him flying.

“Ugh!”
“W-Who the heck is this guy…?! Was there a masked man in this guild?!”
“Who cares about me. What are you doing here?”
“Fireball!”

I changed my voice to make it sound terrifying, but the mage still had enough resolve to cast a spell. Given the output power and the huge dimension of the fireball, I had to admit he was quite a capable guy, but using Fire Magic in a building wasn’t very smart.

“Protect prison.”

If I were to erect a barrier, the explosion would’ve scattered the flames around. I didn’t want to set the entire building on fire, so I locked the fireball away.

The prison wrapped around the fireball and tightened quickly, making the flames vanish the next moment. The mage goggled his eyes at the scene.

“This… This can’t be…!”

I took advantage of his astonishment to close the distance between us—the moment he blinked his eyes, I was already at his side.

“Silence rune.”
“UGH…! N-No…! I…! I can’t use my magic…!”
“You don’t deserve to if you wanted to use Fire Magic indoors. Now reflect on your actions for a while.”
“You… bastard…! I’LL KILL Y—”

Thinking about a way to make him shut up, Mizuha’s words resounded in the back of my mind—Are yer thinkin’ o’ flickin’ me ‘ead?
I readied my fingers, used Support Magic on me, and hit the man.

The blow sent him flying with a loud bang and he crashed on the floor far in the distance, smoke coming from his forehead. I then walked to him and made the magic-sealing rune surface on the back of his neck.
Some runes had to be written with special paints, like Small Spirit, but some others could just be written like that.

The effects of my silence rune could last only for one week for the moment, which was a short but risky time for an adventurer… but he deserved it.
Sending him to prison for a while would’ve been a great atonement for his attack.

Now, everybody except me had fainted on the ground… or so I believed.
As I thought about what to do with the two men, a girl slowly rose to sit while covering her body with her arms—some of her equipment had been torn away from her body and what was left on her was in tatters.

I had been way too nice with those two scumbags. A bitter taste spread all through my mouth as I faced that kind of scene again.
A man who forces his way on a girl isn’t worth living.

“M-Masked man… please… save our Guild Master…! Save Lady Sherry…! Their comrades are… way stronger than them…!”
“Don’t worry, leave it to me. Will I find them all in the upper floors?”

As I asked, I cast Healing Light on her and one of her nearby comrades. She looked very surprised.

“T-Thank you very much…! O-One day I will return the favor…!”
“Sorry for leaving you behind, but I must hurry to your Guild Master. Scream loudly if anything happens, I’ll come back and save you.”
“Okay… Be careful…! I hope Lady Sherry is safe…!”

I cast Hiding on myself again, then hurried to the second floor.

There were many more members of Red Gemini than I imagined despite being night… Sherry was probably trying to ready some defense against White Capricorn.

Three men, the only ones still standing, were rummaging about as if they were desperately looking for something. Sometimes they looted gold and items from fainted people too.

My heart froze in front of that and a glacial question flashed through my mind.

Did we really risk our lives fighting the Demon Lord to earn an armistice for scum like this?

This was absurd. I couldn’t accept it. I approached one of the looters and kicked him on the flank with all my strength.
A gasp escaped from his mouth before he collapsed on the floor, and the other two finally noticed me.

“When did you arrive?! And what the heck are the guys on the first floor doing?!”
“Shut up and don’t panic! Let’s just kill him!”
“Kill? Do you think killing someone comes without consequences?”

Restricted area annihilation n°66 – Disintegration field.

All the metallic components of their equipment started to turn into black lumps of metal before crumbling into pieces.
I had countless ways to make them inoffensive, but I wanted to hear them out before proceeding to the third floor.

“H-How did he do this in one move…?”
“Monster…! He’s a demon! A demon, I tell you!”
“Don’t jump to conclusions. There are demons way less repulsive than the likes of you. Now answer my questions. Are you from White Capricorn or—”

One of the two men shouted loudly and charged at me while wielding a short sword he had probably hid for situations like this.1

When I sparred with Aileen, she was always bare-handed. She taught me that facing a foe like that meant using their flaws against them.

I read his movements and got ready—the man tried to stab me, but I successfully locked his dangerous arm under mine before punching him at full strength on the solar plexus. He let go of the weapon and fell on his knees, then I forced him to the ground by kicking his back and stomping it with my foot.

“I said to answer my damn questions.”

The man was now motionless, but he wasn’t dead… probably. He surely was unable to fight now, so I got my foot off him.

I didn’t care if they were A rank adventurers: although I should’ve refrained from beating them too hard, a part of myself didn’t agree with it.

“Did White Capricorn order you to do this?”
“Even if you beat us, you won’t be a match for him…! It will serve you right…! Hahaha! Hahahihhh!”

The last man standing burst into a desperate laughter before his voice stiffened and deafened as he collapsed on the ground. He probably cracked under fear and stress and lost the will to fight.

“That was the last one. Who should I finish first? Go ahead and choose for me.”
“N-Nothing will change if you kill us…! Nothing! Wait, no, stay away from me! Don’t come any closer!”

The first one that had collapsed on the ground was still conscious and looked at me with frightened eyes. I was only walking towards him, but he looked horrified.
I almost felt nostalgic.
Everyone looked at me like that before my teacher taught me how to use magic.
Recalling those times, especially those where I was feared by everyone without realizing it, brought a smile to my face.

“If you’re writhing on the ground now, it’s because you’ve walked on the wrong path so far.”

He started to foam from his mouth before fainting.
I was failing to keep calm.

I somewhat hoped that White Capricorn never forgot about their status as the top guild… but I was naive. And now I felt betrayed.

They tried to stomp on Red Gemini? Good, it was time to follow my ideals.

I would destroy White Capricorn and make it anew.
Steeling my resolve, I stepped into the third floor—I had to save Sherry.

“Lotte! I’ll hold him still!”
“Yes, Big Sis! Yaaah!”

Sherry and her little sister Lotte were fighting against something in the darkness. Only the moonlight was dimly shining into the Guild Master’s room.

The insides of the room were completely destroyed. It looked like a storm had wreaked it havoc.

“Nice try, sisters. What about this? Sonic blade.”

Judging by the name of the spell, I guessed he was going to swing his weapon, creating a wind slash that would’ve cut through his opponents.
Given that he had drove Sherry and Lotte in a corner so easily, I assumed they were fighting an SS rank adventurer with a score above eighty-thousand points—his attacks might’ve been deadly for them.
I had to prevent that outcome and act before him—I could deny his spell.

Protect prison double.

“What the…?”
“This is… his magic…!”

The man started to unleash his attack, which shattered once it touched the magic walls surrounding him. He then laughed amusedly.

“Interesting!”

He didn’t care that I had denied his attack—the man with golden spiky hair kept swinging his weapon again and again. The wind he was unleashing was storming into the barrier, but the slashes bounced on it and returned to him. It looked like he wasn’t affected by those wind spirits.

He was wielding a huge scythe. Along with his blackish overcoat, he looked like a god of death, and I guessed that was probably what he wanted to look like.

“It’s getting annoying…! Burst! Sonic blade!”

With his sheer power, slash after slash, he managed to break through the barrier. He then looked down on me with a triumphant smile, but something else had already stolen my attention.

The moonlight filtering from the window shone on Sherry and Lotte’s wounds. I cast a healing spell on them while facing our enemy.

“Did you really think your barrier could stop me? I didn’t even get serious against them, but you look stronger… like you’re on another level.”
“Oww, poor whining boy… Your rank doesn’t matter if your world is that small.”

I mocked him, and it was super effective. His expression changed right away, rage painting his face while a vein popped angrily on his temple.

“I killed all of those tawdry bastards who made fun of me so far. You’re going to meet them all soon!”

Thinking that he resembled so much the stereotype of a crazy killer made me smile wryly.
I didn’t have time to waste on someone like him. I had to finish this battle as soon as I could, but not in one hit.

The man rose his scythe over his head, and I readied myself by unsheathing my sword. Sherry understood that I was going to take this fight seriously.

“I-I can see him fighting with all he has…! Lotte, watch carefully!”
“O-Okay…”

I want to break the heart of those who believe they’re strong—those who picture themselves above the clouds, watching the world from the sky. I can’t say I’m fond of this habit of mine, though.

The time had come. I had to go all out and free myself from the chains of Support Magic.

Spirit release – Limit burst.

“What?!”

The face of the man standing in front of me warped. Now his expression was very similar to that of the man who foamed from his mouth on the second floor before collapsing.


1 It’s written the very same thing on the light novel, so I guess this knife isn’t made of metal or the spell is limited to the things he can perceive (I mean, those he can see or those he knows the target has on them). Or both.

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2+

Guild Master – Chapter 46

The three guilds’ meeting and a Guild Master’s pride

Mizuha and her brother came to live in our guild’s dormitory. I suggested Zect to mainly accept the dungeon-exploring requests, and he looked fine with that, so I put him into the ‘scouting unit’, while his sister became a trainee in the ‘intelligence unit’.

The young girl wanted to work as an employer for our bar too, so Verlaine took care of her preparation. Mizuha could rarely leave her house before she joined our guild, so she was pretty overjoyed to work outside. I’m sure she didn’t want to feel caged anymore.

“You handle customers and regulars very well, Mizuha, and all of them appreciate you so far. You are doing very good, keep up the hard work. Remember to speak properly to our guests when you talk to them, okay?”
“Yep, ma’am! As yer wish! I’ll do me best!”

Verlaine praised Mizuha as they opened the bar, and the next moment a couple of guests entered the room.

One of them was a girl with long black hair tied up with a red ribbon. She wore a dark brown overcoat covering her blouse and skirt. Evidently, she was trying to keep a low profile.

The other one was a tall brawny middle-aged man with silver hair tied like a warrior. His blue eyes gave off a light so sharp that Mizuha, seeing him, jumped a little in surprise. He wore an almost black overcoat as well, but his frame was so big it was impossible for him to keep a low profile.

They were two Guild Masters: Sherion Heartis from Red Gemini and Leonid Ballanche from Black Leo.

“Welcome~! I’ll take you to your seats!”
“Hey, Dick! I didn’t know you had a daughter! When did it happen? Going for the fox tribe is quite the smart move.”

Leonid had a very bright personality that didn’t fit his frame at all. Also, how could Mizuha be my daughter? She could’ve been my sister if she had to be blood-related to me… but that thought made me sorry for Zect.

“Sir Dick’s daughter…? Verlaine, wotcher think about it?”
“If it would imply that I helped him having you, it would be totally fine with me.”
“That’s not fine at all. Leonid, we last meet half a year ago. No matter how fast demi-humans grow, she couldn’t have grown this much in such a short time, so she can’t be my daughter. Also, stop calling me by name when you’re here, please.”
“Oh, please, at least be grateful I put on this cloak. It’s so hot outside I thought I’d be baked by the time I entered your bar.”

Sherry—it was Sherion’s pet name—started to fan herself with her overcoat. She was quite weak against heat, and the weather today perfectly fitted the criteria of the sixth month’s standard day.

“Oh, don’t worry, Dick. I only met her outside.”
“I’m quite younger than you, I doubt anyone would think we’re dating or something.”
“Hahaha! Why don’t we have a date where you pretend to be my granddaughter, then?”

Leonid was the oldest among the Guild Masters. He was old enough to have a grandchild. His adventurer score lowered over time and it was now settled at 54820 points, but he was still a veteran lancer in Black Leo.

Sherry was a red mage. She used same kind of abilities I used, but her magic was different.

It was very versatile: she could use it offensively, defensively, and for healing. Her magic worked especially well against men, who she could bind to her will. I was immune to it, but the average guy couldn’t stand a chance against her. Her adventurer score was 33927, making her a S rank adventurer.

The only condition to become a Guild Master was to be at least a S rank adventurer, but given that they couldn’t take many missions themselves, a guild couldn’t be judged by the strength of their Guild Master alone. Both Red Gemini and Black Leo were not to be underestimated.

“Mizuha, show them to their private room, please.”
“Yes, Ma’am! Please, follow me.”

After glancing at me, the two Guild Masters followed our new waitress. Even during lunchtime, when a few people started to enter the place to grab some food, no one noticed their presence.

◆◇◆

Funnily enough, Sherry liked sweet sherries1. To quench her thirst, I recommended her a cocktail made with her favorite sherry, some lemon juice, and a tiny bit of gin and sake along with some sugar cane syrup.
Leonid asked for a jug of brown ale and I ordered the same. I didn’t call them over to drink together, but we were still in a bar, so why not take the chance to drink something?

“First, let’s toast to our prosperous guilds! Cheers!”

Leonid rose his jug in high spirits and started to chug his ale down. Sherry sipped her drink the next moment and let out a soft ‘nice’.

“Great! The ale in this bar tastes very good!”
“So, Dick, why did you want to talk to us?”

Sherry asked with a deadpan expression on her face. Now that she had took off her overcoat, she was leaning over from her torso up, letting her huge breasts rest on the table. Maybe she didn’t notice or she wasn’t paying attention to it, and Leonid, who sat in front of her, didn’t care in the slightest, so I kept it to myself and let the conversation go on.

“Sherry, what kind of requests does White Capricorn hand you? I’m not asking for any secret detail, I’d just like to know what you can tell me.”
“Actually… I was waiting to get a better picture of the situation before talking to you. but I guess you noticed it already, huh?”
“What are you talking about? Is White Capricorn up to something? Those guys are no good…!”

While Leonid started to get irritated, Mizuha entered the room with another jug of ale for him. Verlaine must have guessed he was going to flare up soon and prepared him a refill in advance.

“Mister, I brought you another jug.”
“Oh, thank you, I appreciate it. Here, have a tip. Go buy something you like with it.”
“Wot?! A-Are yer right sure I can ‘ave it?! I-I mean, a-are you sure I can have it?”
“Of course, feel free to keep it. None of my chips has been wasted so far.”

Mizuha bowed politely before accepting, then left the room. Leonid never had bronze coins with him. He only paid at least with silver ones and never accepted any rest, so he often finished the money he brought with him.

Sherry waited a few moments before resuming our conversation. I guessed it was going to be something quite serious if not even my guild members had to hear it.

“Lately, we received a job that looked like an experiment.”
“An experiment…?”
“I think it’s about some magic item that has yet to be released on the market. It isn’t very clear on the request form, but that’s what I understood from what I read.”

The discussion turned for the worse in a moment. My trust for White Capricorn was starting to crumble to pieces.

One could own magic items, but they were absolutely illegal depending on their effects. Without a certification that stated a certain object or item could be used in the capital, nothing could be legally used or owned, and White Capricorn was now making their affiliated guilds experiment with some kind of unknown magic tool.

“Can you tell me more about it?”
“I refused to accept the request, so I don’t know the details and I didn’t see it myself. I think it’s something to control people, judging by the stuff written on the request form.”
“A mind-controlling magic item?! Like, an hypnotizing something?! What the hell is wrong with them?! It’s obviously bullshit!”

Leonid flared up again. Talking about White Capricorn must’ve put him in a bad mood.

Sherry’s words made me connect the dots… my guess was right.
White Capricorn was probably behind the demi-human traffic too. The item Sherry had mentioned could be the same contraption that was used to control Mizuha and the other demi-humans.
If that kind of item was improved and could extend its control over humans as well… the consequences would’ve been catastrophic.

“Did someone accept it, in the end?”
“All of this sounded wrong to me, and I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I asked all the other guilds. They told me they had refused, but Purple Scorpio never answered.”
“Lady Sherry, are you alright? Probing into their private affairs could mark you as their target.”
“So be it. If they want to dirt their hands, I’m ready to do the same. No matter how bothersome it will be.”

I knew she was a prideful Guild Master ready for anything, but she still looked slightly sleep-deprived. She gulped down some of her drink before facing me with her tired gaze.

“Dealing with White Capricorn is hard. The request form stated that those who accepted were going to work hand in hand with them and that no information had to be leaked. That’s probably how things are currently going in Purple Scorpio.”
“So now that you asked around, Lady Sherry, it’s like you’ve stepped into their territory?”
“I believe so. White Capricorn’s strongest adventurers are SS rank. If both of them were to raid our guild at the same time, they’ll play havoc with us…”

Zect would’ve never bothered to do that despite being as strong as them, but White Capricorn’s heads would use any means to make the other guilds behave.

Sherry’s lips trembled slightly. She was living in fear of that possibility.

“I should’ve noticed their actions sooner. Sorry I’ve been this slow, Sherry.”
“No problem… I cannot disobey their orders anyway, since we’re affiliated to them. But I must admit they did a lot for us, although things have changed now.”
“Maybe something happened to them, otherwise their Guild Master shouldn’t have reasons to do this… or was it just a change of mind? Maybe talking to them could help us getting the picture better. What’s your opinion, Dick?”
“Maybe it would be better if we keep our doubts a secret for now. It would be annoying if they dispatch too many people to keep an eye on us all.”

Still, given Sherry’s circumstances, we had to make her feel safer… or at least better.
I could read on Leonid’s face that he was thinking the same, and after gulping down what was left of his second jug, he folded his arms.

“As an adventurer guild, White Capricorn said they want to keep the order in the capital… but now I believe there’s something more in their words, or they just distorted them.”
“I don’t know… maybe I’m just reading too much into it… By the way, they’ve left a copy of the request in our guild. Dick, could you come to my guild to take a look at it?”

I’m sure she had already made it read to her intelligence team, but I really appreciated the honesty she was showing me.
If I had to go to Red Gemini, I could just pretend not to know anything about this. Maybe keeping this a secret even to the members of my guild and moving on my own would’ve been better.

“Sure, you can count on me.”

For the first time since we sat around the table, she looked relieved. I thought she was hiding to her guild members that she was actually being crushed by stress, and seeing her bring a hand to her chest and sigh only confirmed my guess. This meant that she accepted to come here to look for help.
A Guild Master bears the burden of all their guild members’s life. Sherry was a strong woman, that’s why she never let her distress out in the open.

She tried to reach out to her glass again, but her hands were shaking. As soon as I noticed it, I grabbed them and cast Mind cure.
The effects kicked in right away, and she lowered her gaze sneering at herself.

“I’m pathetic. I shouldn’t be afraid of something like this.”
“There’s nothing wrong in being afraid of something, Sherry. We can trust Dick in times like this. He would never leave a beauty like you alone.”
“Actually, I help everyone, no matter the beauty. I’m sure if I had any problem, you would help me too. Anyway, do you want some food?”

Sherry looked surprised by the sudden question, and her stomach grumbled. That’s the answer I wanted to hear.

“I… I forgot to have my breakfast… How embarrassing.”
“That’s the proof you’re still alive! Don’t be embarrassed! I’d like some meat, anyway! Dick, go cook something for us!”
“Don’t worry, we hired an expert cook. You won’t be disappointed.”

Verlaine was great at cooking, but we also had other cooks. A few minutes after we ordered, a nice smell of food started to waft from the kitchen. I ordered some roasted walnuts as well, given how talkative Sherry’s tummy was.
Leonid asked for a third jug of beer, gave another tip to Mizuha with a huge smile on his face and started to drink in high spirits.

Luckily, I was right about White Capricorn. Thank goodness I didn’t wait to ask about them.

I still didn’t know if Sherry’s guild was their accomplice, though… I had to lay my hands on White Capricorn’s unknown magic tool to figure it out.

Who built it? Where was it now? When did they want to use it? What did it do, specifically? Why creating it, in the first place?

Could my information network help me figure out everything about this matter?
The time had come—the investigation started.


1 He means the wine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherry Also, I asked a friend of mine who works as a bartender some help with the drink Dick prepares her, and he ended up insulting the author and suggesting me to change the drink because the thing described in the original doesn’t work. I’m not a bartender and I don’t get the mechanics behind drinks, so I trusted his words and I wrote about a drink he suggested that contains the very same ingredients described in the original webnovel plus some additional ones. Hope this won’t bite me back in the future.

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3+

Guild Master – Chapter 45

Tl note: I hoped I didn’t get anything else wrong, but then I noticed that Aileen actually has two little pink horns on her head, so yep, she’s actually a demon, not a spirit. Fml.
I changed the following chapters to fix it: prologue 1, chapter 6, c.14, c.27, c.28, c.29, c.40. Now I seriously hope I fixed all my derpy old choices.
Oh, I decided to translate Mizuha’s accent with cockney’s (thank you Background Character for suggesting it). Hope she sounds enough cockney-ish.


The tipsy fox and the demon form’s after-effects

As Mizuha emerged from the bathtub, I secured my towel around my waist.
How did I end up in this situation?

She was stark naked. If I had to compare her with Yuma—and I won’t specify what part I’m talking about—I’d say it was evident that she had been blessed with curves more generous than the youngest miracle children’s. If her most private parts weren’t hidden by her hair, I would’ve fled from there at full speed… but I was barely safe for now.

I knew she enjoyed her coconobi shake, and I guessed she felt grateful since I asked her brother to join my guild, but waiting naked in the bathroom for a random guy she had just met was a little too much… and to make things worse, it looked like we were at least ten years apart.

Maybe I was jumping to conclusions, but it felt like Mizuha had truly waited in there.

“Aaah~! There are two Lord Dicks~! Oh, three! Struth! Oww, wot should I do~? Put the mockers on multiplyin’~!”
“What? Wait, your face is kind of red… the water is barely lukewarm, how can you feel dizzy from it…?”

Then, the answer flashed in my mind.

“…Oh no. Did Zect let you taste his drink?”
“Ehehe~! Sorry~! Me brother ‘as left the coconobi fruit behind… I thought it were a waste ter leave it there, so I took a bite from it and it were sooo good~!”
“Y-You ate the coconobi…? The one soaked in rum?”
“It tasted somewhat bitter at first, but then it were sooo sweet~! It’s been a long time since I last ate sumfink so tasty! Blimey!”

Rum’s abv, or ‘alcohol by volume’, is quite high. For example, it’s way easier to get drunk with rum than with beer given the latter’s low abv. An adult probably wouldn’t be affected by eating a coconobi fruit soaked in rum, but that isn’t the same for someone around Mizuha’s age.

“’E ‘as left a bit o’ ‘is drink too, so I finished it for ‘im~! I luv milk, but I might luv drinks more than that~! I ‘ope me brother leaves more for me next time~!”
“Honestly, I don’t. Minors shouldn’t drink, so you’re forbidden from doing that.”
“Okaaay~! Yer ‘ave a look somewhat like me brother, yer know~? I’m so glad ter spot this many brothers and sisters ’round me, as well as Verlaine and yer…!”

Wait, what? No one’s around… oh, right, that’s just drunk gibberish.

I could make her recover from her condition by touching her stomach… but what if she sobered up and accused me of laying my hands on her? It was better to let the alcohol run its course.

“I like this bath! Blimey! I couldn’t ‘ave any wheh I stood before, neither I could enter many public ones… many blokes think it sucks ter enter a bath that’s been used by a demi-‘uman…”
“Is that so…? I heard that Lia used Timis’ bath.”
“Right? That tiger miss said I should’ve told ‘er if anyfink arsed me. Right… I’m lovin’ this guild more and more~!”
“This guild doesn’t discriminate demi-humans, and this will never change.”
“Lord Dick…!”

I wasn’t saying something particularly touching, but tears welled in her eyes as she looked at me deeply moved.

She was probably younger than Yuma… wait, maybe they were the same age. Even Yuma, who was four years younger than me, lately looked more like a lady, and Mizuha—despite looking a bit younger—was evidently growing too, so maybe…
Wait, what the hell was I thinking. I didn’t have time for this!

Zect had entrusted me his sister so he could go take the things they had left in Blue Sagittarius’ dormitory, and I was indeed taking care of her in some way or another, although I didn’t want to end up in this situation… But a good Guild Master should play well their cards—I still had some way to escape from all of this.

“Mi-Mizuha, I think you might want to dry yourself up and go to sleep before you catch a cold.”
“I’m not cold~! ‘Ot baths make me feel dizzy, but I’m arright now~! This water’s warm and pleasant~! By the way, let me show yer me gratitude~!”

She then climbed on the bathtub’s edge, splashing water around. Now, that was dangerous and very careless of her, and I couldn’t tell if that unwise move had been dictated by the alcohol or by her need of showing me her gratitude.

I mean, it wasn’t that far in the past that I had seen Beatrice, Aileen and the others naked, and Mizuha’s beauty wasn’t that far from theirs given the charm of her fox traits and her small frame, also…
Okay, no. I really had to calm down.

She shook the water off her tail and ears, then she showed me a pearly smile.
Suddenly, a thought flashed through my mind rivaling the speed of my eyes scanning her body: if her sense of shame was being dulled by alcohol, wouldn’t she going to feel horrible once she sobered up?
I couldn’t ignore it.

“Lord Dick, yer sure ‘ave a solid build~! Yer almost ‘ave a look more muscular than me brother~!”
“W-Well… Guild Masters should be ready to face emergencies at all times.”
“I spot~! If yer was stronger than Aileen, yer could ‘ave me dahn wiv a single flick on me ‘ead~!”

I kept casting Support Magic on myself to keep my muscles trained despite being sitted all day at the bar. Zect’s body was very well built and I thought mine was less sturdy than his, but Mizuha’s ecstatic gaze made me guess she would’ve disagreed with me.
She wasn’t looking at me as she looked at her brother… and being stared from head to toe like that was unsettling in its own way.

I had seen many girls becoming very straightforward when they were drunk, but that kind of temper was dangerous on many more levels when the involved parties shared the same bathroom—I was starting to feel nervous and somewhat filthy.

Aileen lent Mizuha one of her dresses because the demi-human’s only garment was her brother’s overcoat at first, but I would’ve never expected to see this girl in her birthday’s suit.
I let this be a lesson—I had to be extra-careful when the girls slept here. Who knew how could they act.

“Oh, right? Are yer thinkin’ o’ flickin’ me ‘ead? Feel free ter give it a go if it’s only for once~!”

She got closer nonchalantly with a smile on her face, and her hair, until now covering her delicate parts, swayed along with her movements, failing to cover what they had to.

“I, huh… I-It’s better if I don’t. Yeah, sorry, let me leave. Zect might get unhappy about this…”
“Me brother still treats me like a child, but I’d like ‘im ter put the mockers on it… I’m plenty grown up right now. I’m bloody well not a child anymore.”

She mouthed those words with a sour expression on her flushed face.
Alcohol probably contributed to her little burst of anger, but the very next moment she smiled to me so kindly I felt my strength melt away—her face was now bright, no shades of negativity tainting it.

“Enough wiv that go on, it’s time ter show yer me gratitude~! I actually ‘ad a plan ter do this in some uvver way later, but well, right, yer shouldn’t ‘ave enter the bathroom wen I were in~!”

I was really glad for her feelings and I felt like young demi-human girls quickly became affectionate to me… Riko did too. There must’ve been some reason behind it… maybe my smell?

“Chuff~! Yor back’s so broad~! Even more than me favver’s~!”
“Did you wash your father’s back? What a devoted daughter you are.”
“’Uh, I didn’t. I seen it wen I were yornger, I were just recallin’… Me favver ‘as quite a big body compared ter the average ‘umans, and yet yer…”

The back of a man speaks for them, huh? That’s not very true, but Mizuha, after walking around me, stopped behind me and somewhat confirmed that figure of speech.

She looked interested in washing my back to show me her gratitude. This whole situation was a bit embarrassing, but if that was all she really wanted, there was no reason to panic.

I untied my towel, paying attention not to show her anything, and sat on a bath stool. She then grabbed a soapy towel and started to rub my back so gently I thought she was trying to tickle me.

After a little while, when I thought she was done and I could stand up, I froze in place.

She had now passed from my back to my arm, leaning on me—her hot body was pressing against mine, and I could distinctly feel something particularly soft rubbing my back.

“Lord Dick, I can’t reach well yor arms from ‘ere… could yer raise them up for me?”
“L-Like this…?”

I did what she asked not to deepen the embarrassment of the situation, and the next moment, she rubbed my armpit. That’s when my body started to writhe due to the tickling.

It didn’t matter if I was a SSS rank adventurer who had defeated the previous Demon Lord: being tickled under the armpit was one of my weaknesses. There was nothing wrong with it. A man with insensible armpits is a mere golem.

“Ugh! Mi-Mizuha, I think you did enough…”
“I can’t put the mockers on it now, right, I still ‘ave ter wash the uvver side~! Amazin’, yor muscular even ‘ere…! Me arms are so puny compared ter yors…”

Her comments made me feel like I owned Zect an apology. Enduring the tickling was a sort of torture, but I was sure my endurance had hit a level up, and it didn’t last long. Humans sure grow fast…

“This should do~! Let me ‘ave some water ter wash it all away~! Mhhh… Oookay, Lord Dick~! Here I cooOHHH—”
“Ugh—!”

She had slipped on the floor and my body moved on its own: to prevent her from falling and hitting her head, I flashed on my feet and held her in my arms.

“I… I’m sorry, my foot slipped…”
“It’s fine. Are you hurt?”
“N-Nuffink ‘urts, right, but… me chest feels sort of…”
“…”

My hand was touching one of the soft things she had pushed on my back a few minutes before.

“Lord Dick…”

It was the second time she had whispered my name with her sweet voice.
I knew I should have left right after the first one.

It didn’t matter if I held her to prevent an accident: the moment she was in my arms, I had touched something I shouldn’t have, so I had to take responsibility for my actions.

Her face flushed a bright red when she looked straight at me, her eyes wet again, her quivering lips slightly parted.

“Chuff… I feel so dizzy…”
“Mi-Mizuha?”

Her body went limp.
I guessed she gave in to drunkness and sleepiness the moment her brain registered that she had completed her task.

Now I had to ask one of the girls to come dress her up and get her to sleep, but… how would I ask them?
Like, if I were to tell them the truth—meaning that she got drunk because she ate the coconobi fruit her brother had left in his glass—and they didn’t trust me, it would make me look like a disgusting pig who seduced a young demi-human girl and took advantage of her in the bathroom.

“Lord Dick… your back’s so… big…”

As I wondered how big she thought it was, I mustered my courage and lifted her while trying my best not to take advantage of her condition to look at her. I then carried Mizuha to the warm bathtub again, where I left her, and exited the bathroom without the slightest shade of guilt in me.

◆◇◆

My head was filled with terrible outcomes as I walked to the livingroom praying any superior entity not to make things go as bad as I was picturing them.
Dick, what did you do to Mizuha?
I would have never expected you to have such a sinful soul. I should lead it to Heaven once and for all.
Disgusting. My trust was wasted on scum like you, Dick.
Wow, so you’re like that… disappointing.

“Nh~! Yuma, your hands are so warm~!”
“Aileen, stop moving… It will be over in a minute… amazing, this is so…!”

The chain of events I had pushed through that day etched in my mind that very moment—Aileen had stripped and was lying on the sofa while Yuma touched her belly.

My gods, that couldn’t be true—they couldn’t have gone that far already… but as I took a peep at them, I noticed that Aileen’s body was producing red magic power which looked tainted by some big and little black spots. It all flowed into Yuma and then returned into its owner without impurities.

Yuma was… probably purifying her soul.
Aileen’s demonic powers were the proof her soul was getting slowly consumed by the wrath it housed. However, thanks to Yuma’s soul-purifying abilities, she could keep it at bay.

“…Thank you, I feel sooo much better now. Sorry for bothering you when you’re tired, Yuma.”
“Do not worry, I will always help you. One of the missions in my life is to keep your soul clean at all times.”
“Oww… that would make you my best friend. If it wasn’t for you, I might’ve already become a Demon Lord myself…”

That was the consequence of using her demonic power against Mizuha.
Aileen’s ‘standard’ adventurer score was around 95.000, which didn’t make her a real SSS rank adventurer, but it rose drastically when she used her demonic powers. To put it simply, her ability was like Mizuha’s: they both could turn into their ancestors’ form and use their powers.

The demonic race was the strongest on the battlefield, and Aileen housed their prowess within herself. However, the demons’ urge of destruction was so dreadful it consumed their owners’s soul, so using their power too much meant tearing oneself apart.

Once Yuma was done with treating Aileen, the demon put on her clothes again and patted her ‘nurse’ on the head. The younger girl accepted her gratitude with an embarrassed smile on her face.

“…Aileen, sorry for having you use your powers. I didn’t think you needed to.”
“Hey… d-don’t worry. I won’t become a monster as long as Yuma’s with me.”
“Yes, there is no need to worry. I purified her soul… and… when it looks so pure, it reminds me… ahh… I would love to purify yours too, Dick…”

Yuma could see through everything—she could see the soul of people. There was no guilt within me, so it looked like she didn’t notice anything strange, but Aileen was staring at me in silence. The pressure of her gaze was slowly crushing me… was there a man who could withstand it in the world?

“Dick, I don’t see Mizuha… don’t tell me you…”
“N-No, let me explain. She has drunk some of her brother’s drink and she’s now a bit more than tipsy. Could you go help her?”
“Right away, Master.”
“I’m coming too… by the way, why are you all still awake in the dead of night?”

Mylarka and Verlaine had returned from the floor below just in time: the next moment, they were heading to the bathroom to take care of the matter while Mylarka searched for an answer to her question.
The genius girl often ended up drunk herself, so leaving Mizuha to them should’ve been fine.

“Dick, you look quite tired. Should I quell your soul?”
“Yuma, you know that ‘should I quell your soul’ gives off a funny vibe, right?”
“Mh…? Quelling souls is wonderful for me… what kind of funny vibe does it give?”
“Well… hahaha~! Nothing, I was just reading too much into it!”

Yuma was seriously puzzled and Aileen, who couldn’t bring herself to explain what she meant, just masked her comment with a smile.

Aileen was now looking a lot better. Maybe I should’ve asked Yuma to clean my impurities away… without letting her lead my soul to Heaven.


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Guild Master – Chapter 44

TL note: it only took me two years and a half to notice that the 12 guilds in this novel are actually references to the zodiac costellations, sooo… yep, some names are going to change:
Silver Mug –> Silver Aquarius
White Goat –> White Capricorn
Purple Scorpion –> Purple Scorpio.
Mhhh… taste of epic fail…


The king of guilds and the underwater danger

The second floor of our guild’s dormitory was almost empty, but the rooms were ready to host people, so I proposed Zect and Mizuha to sleep there.

“Tomorrow I’ll officially leave Blue Sagittarius. I’ll also take the stuff I’ve left there back. Not like there was anything important, but still…”
“Let me come too! I’ve left some of my stuff there as well.”
“Leave it to me. You didn’t have much stuff with you, I can handle it by myself. Go rest for today.”

Zect then shifted his gaze from his sister to Verlaine and I.

“Thank you for everything. I’ll leave her in your care.”

The next moment, he turned around to leave the room.

“Zect, the guys from Blue Sagittarius who guarded the demi-humans’ prison are just sleeping, right?”
“Yes. I made them faint with a blow from behind, so none should’ve seen or recognized me. Thinking about it, all of them might become homeless once we sue Blue Sagittarius…”
“We could say they were obliged to Blue Sagittarius, as it was the place they worked in, but they reaped what they sowed. They might get employed by another guild, anyway. If we exclude ours and Blue Sagittarius from their options, they still have ten other chances in the capital.”

Garamdoor imprisoned and sold demi-humans as rare articles. Their actions were extremely illegal by the law of the capital, so their trading license was going to be blocked and their organization dismantled. Blue Sagittarius was their accomplice, so its Guild Master probably had to dismiss from their position as well.

The Royal Court, an organ of state under the direct supervision of the King, would declare it in the court hearing.1 If necessary, the Royal Court could even mobilize the army and the royal knights to make the population abide by the laws. A guild could try to fight back, but that would’ve potentially made them face the knights—their end. We can say there wasn’t any organization in the entire capital who could escape the law’s iron grip.

Actually, my guild and White Capricorn had enough power to withstand them, so what I just said isn’t entirely true, but doing something like that would plunge the entire country into chaos… that wasn’t exactly what we hoped for. I wasn’t unsatisfied of the laws yet.

“We should assume that Blue Sagittarius’ Guild Master knew what Garamdoor was doing and accepted to collaborate. If that’s the whole point of this, Blue Sagittarius will either be forced to stop any activity for some time or have their Guild Master dismissed from the position.”
“Our former Guild Master resigned due to the bad results the guild was achieving, right, Master? In that case, replacing a Guild Master should not be that much of a hurdle.”
“I’ve been here for five years now. I’ve seen people retiring by themselves, but none of them have resigned from their position before. This is going to be on everyone’s lips… although it won’t last forever, I guess.”

Then, a thought crossed my mind.

Blue Sagittarius was affiliated to White Capricorn. What would the top ranking guild think of us when they knew we were the cause Blue Sagittarius’ wrongdoings had been found out? Once their activity were officially suspended for some time… how would White Capricorn react?
I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

When I first became Guild Master of Silver Aquarius, all the other guilds were affiliated to White Capricorn except mine. Up until now, I made three guilds withdraw from that affiliation.

Vinceburg’s underlings were part of Purple Scorpio, which was just another guild affiliated to White Capricorn… thinking about it, I had to gather some more information about White Capricorn’s Guild Master. Maybe they were behind this case too.

What if White Capricorn was planning something obscure along with the seven other guilds affiliated to it…? I didn’t like conspiracy theories, but what if that was actually true…?

“What’s up, Guild Master?”
“Oh, nothing, Mizuha. Leave Blue Sagittarius and Garamdoor to me. I only have to show the Royal Court the proofs our intelligence has gathered.”

Anyway, this wasn’t probably going to end only by pointing the wrongdoings of two organizations out.

I felt like somebody had pulled the strings of this matter… but who? White Capricorn’s Guild Master? Or… someone else?

I had to research the influential guilds of the capital, which meant paying extra attention to everything. It was time to gather my intelligence team and talk things over with them.

◆◇◆

I knew some of the guilds that were affiliated to White Capricorn. When we had to rival against Red Gemini, I met their Guild Master to talk it over. I heard from White Capricorn that she was perfect for the job, but it had been a while since I last saw her.

I knew Black Leo’s Guild Master too. His guild wasn’t affiliated with anyone and they were rivals of White Capricorn, so I could’ve probably earned their help if I played the right cards.

If we found out that White Capricorn was planning something darker than expected, the capital would’ve become a sort of war zone. Was it worth to keep investigating, knowing that it could’ve caused a disaster like that?
I kept racking my brain over a solution, and time went by slowly in my office on the second floor…

“Master, what is it? You look lost in thoughts.”
“Purple Scorpio is affiliated with White Capricorn. We might have to face them.”
“…I see. Are you worried about our guild members and their closest relatives? I don’t think we’ll face a foe that wicked, and if there was someone pulling the strings of the demi-human traffic, that someone would be like cancer for this city. I understand and share your worries on the matter.”

Verlaine’s words made me feel somewhat better.

I didn’t fear White Capricorn. The city could’ve took their side, but that wouldn’t have stopped me from fighting them with all my might.

“There might be more victims if we don’t take care of Mizuha and the other demi-humans. This is what bothers me the most. If what you addressed as cancer really does exist, it will surely keep this up.”
“Then push onward your researches. Ask the intelligence team to move as you’ve done so far. As long as it’s within this capital, it can’t hide forever. If Dick Silver from Silver Aquarius means it, he can reach even the top secrets information, isn’t it?”

At first, I created our intelligence team to search for requests that only we could fulfill.

Even if I knew about the internal condition of other guilds and that led me to some other additional information, I never ordered to search a guild specifically.

There were twelve guilds for a reason—they all had a role. As I didn’t want anyone to nose around my guild, I made a taboo of investigating the others.

And yet, this time I had to break it. I had to interfere with them and gather information about them.
Furthermore, I needed to pry into all the other guilds.
I thought interfering from the shadows was right… Everything could go my way, but that had never been my intention… so far.

The next moment, I understood that something had changed inside me.

I noticed that… to stop demi-humans from being assaulted, I couldn’t just deal with every single case about them. That wasn’t a solution to the problem.

“I might say too much as a mere maid, Master. Forgive me in advance, but as the former Demon Lord, I will speak my mind freely. You should rule over all the guilds of this capital.”
“What?! W-Why should I? I’m fine with being Guild Master of the 12th guild. I would be arrogant just by considering your suggestion.”
“I wouldn’t call arrogant those who stand above the others and have the ability to be so. What we call a king is something that people want to be led by… and you, Master, should become the king of all guilds. It doesn’t matter if you seem to only keep the twelfth, I believe you should extend your control over the others too. I feel like everything will surely bend to your ideals.”

Never before had I heard words that straightforward… and frustration started to well within me for having thought about it in the past.

I wanted the best outcome without standing in the limelight.
I wanted to live quietly and egoistically like I had been so far, accepting jobs I was interested into and drinking all day.
My guild had finally grown closer to the ideals I embraced.
That’s why there was no reason to extend my influence over the other guilds… or at least, that was what I believed up to that day.

I wanted to fix the ill feelings between humans and demi-humans. That was the cause I wanted to follow although it didn’t suit me at all.

“Right… I don’t need to rule over them… I can just influence them.”
“Eheheh… I’d call it a great step onward. I always believed you could have the capital in your hands, Master. Information are a strong weapon, and no one is better than you at gathering them. No one has better instruments than you to do it. Your influence might reach the farthest place in the world if you only wanted to. The Transfer Magic circles are just proof that this guild is already working on it.”

Having the capital in my hands…? Becoming someone who rules from the shadows, leaving the center of attention to the real King and becoming in turn a secret King…?

That thought made me crack a smile. Wouldn’t people call that… a Demon Lord?

“Grrr… what’s so funny? You think I’m speaking the absurd?”
“No, not at all. I just thought you’ve really been the Demon Lord, Verlaine. Of course, I mean it in a good way.”
“…I might speak like one, but currently I’m just a failed Demon Lord—I moved into the house of a human I rigorously serve every day due to my expectations. Thinking about it, I look like an impulsive girl who’s run away from home.”

She laughed at herself. Phrasing it that way probably made it sound funnier than expected for her.

“Let’s keep doing things our way for now… and let’s act when it’s needed. I just hope the top guild doesn’t have any rotten egg among their members.”
“If that will be the case, you should just extend your hand to grasp all the guilds in this capital from the shadows, Master. It would be better to do it for your just cause.”

Verlaine’s opinion of me never wavered. She was unbelievably strong, and yet she was now my subordinate. Was she actually fine with wasting her life on someone like me? I couldn’t stop that thought from surfacing in my mind.

Her purple irises shone like amethysts the moment we locked eyes with each other, the color of her hair darkening.

She said she liked to talk to me. That was the key to know someone better… and I believed her words nailed the situation.

Why did she want to dispel my doubts?

She mentioned her expectations. If I betrayed them, would she have returned home to the demonic region?

“S-Stop looking at me like that… I’m good at attacking, but defending is hard…”
“I see… that’s why we won back then, huh?”

I knew she meant something else, but I still wanted to crack a joke. She let out a soft chuckle, her eyes still locked with mine.

We couldn’t look away. If one did, our relationship was going to change forever.

In the end… I doubted it would’ve been a turn for worse.

But… was that thought really mine… or was it just the thought of a lone guy?

Clack.

The sound of the door opening behind us blocked my train of thoughts.
I was so used to being interrupted at that point that I guessed the Goddess of Destiny was just fooling with me.

“Grrr…! L-Lady Mylarka? What is it? Weren’t you sleeping in the living room?”

Right. Mylarka, Yuma and Aileen were spending the night here and they should’ve been sleeping on the sofa in the living room. What was the genius girl doing here, spacing out still half-asleep?

“I need the toilet, where is it…? Gosh, my head hurts… It won’t explode, right…?”
“W-Wait, Mylarka! I’ll heal your headache right away. Sorry, I forgot to sober you up before.”
“No problem, I enjoyed it anyway… You didn’t do anything funny while I was sleeping, did you?”
“BHHH—W-What do you mean?! Oh, right, you’re still half-asleep… I won’t take it seriously.”
“Master, I’ll show Miss Mylarka to the toilet. It would be better for a girl to help another now.”

Verlaine arranged her look quickly, made Mylarka hold onto her and helped her walk to the floor below. The only toilet in the entire building was on the first floor, so she had to use that.

When I looked at my desk, I noticed the red mark of Verlaine’s lips on the cup of tea she had left behind.

What I felt a few minutes before resurfaced within me, and I ended up wondering… what would’ve happened if Mylarka didn’t interrupt us?

◆◇◆

It was pretty late when I went to take my bath.

The water was very hot when Mizuha took hers, so now it should’ve been just lukewarm. It was probably better to heat it again.

“…Mh?”

I entered the bathroom without thinking and I noticed a bit too late that there were bubbles popping on the water surface of the bathtub.

Who the heck was hiding underwater?! Was it some assassin?! No, wait, let’s think about it rationally… it was surely someone who was sleeping here, and the only two persons small enough to fit entirely in the bathtub were Yuma and…

Splaaash~!

“Hey there~! It’s me~!”

Looking at the humanoid figure who emerged from the bathtub, I thanked any superior entity for making Verlaine and Mylarka go downstairs. I was reminded again of how fleeting the sense of relief was when someone could finally satisfy the eager of bathing.


1 I’m not good with law-related stuff. The original (国王直属の法務庁の審問官たち) actually says “ministers meeting/hearing under the direct supervision of the king”, but I thought it would be closer to the Supreme Court, where they just do the trial under the supervision of the King. I’ll probably keep Supreme Court given the Japanese one, but feel free to suggest something that works better!

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Guild Master – Chapter 43

Hey there~! Guess I never really introduced myself so far. I’m Zahj, AcanTranslation’s only translator. I’m going to write a brief summary of my 2019 before the chapter to make everyone know why AcanTranslation’s releases have been so sporadic this year. Feel free to skip this, but please, read the “tl note”!

We’ve been on a hiatus for some months because my former editor had a lot of exams at his university and a lot of stuff to do at work, so he couldn’t dedicate any time to these projects (and he still doesn’t). I’m talking about December 2018 – January 2019. In that period, I was so tired of translating I just had to take some time for me… and so I did. Unluckily, I’m the kind of guy who forgets or doesn’t want to rest, so it isn’t uncommon for me to be saturated (which we can roughly translate as “I’m dumb, please be patient”).
After taking an entire month for me my batteries were finally replenished, so I decided to wait a bit longer for my editor and improve my language skills on some other sectors of the translation world like mangas, comics, anime and stuff, but… well, dumbness kicked in and I ended up taking too many projects in my hands, so now I’m completely saturated with work.
After another month, I understood that I couldn’t keep waiting forever and I started to search for a new editor (who is the one currently helping me with New Game and Dick), and once I found one, it took her around two or three months to read through all the past chapters to get to the point I was at. She is very busy with her life and university, so it couldn’t be helped.

The beneficial part of all of this is that I got to be an “official translator” for some projects by working my ass off (I’ll link them in the next chapters of these series when they’ll be ready) and I could meet and collaborate with a ton of adorable people. I also gained a bit of attention from the people I admired (yes guys, some senpais noticed me), so I’m very happy about the results I achieved… but on the other hand, it was all at the expenses of AcanTranslation’s projects, since I don’t have as much time as I had in 2017 or 2018 to work on them.
I’m currently working on a total of 10 projects divided into comics (I’m getting paid for some of them), animes (not in English) and light novels (Dick and New Game are included in them), and well, I was a bit too late to notice that’s a bit too much for a puny human like me to handle, so now I’m focusing on the paid projects and trying to complete the ones that are almost finished to get a bit more time to work on these novels and some other projects.
Be reassured: I have absolutely no intention to drop Dick or New Game. I won’t drop them even if someone “sniped” them, because I like these projects so far and I want to keep working on them.
I’ll try to release at least a chapter of them each month, but I’m sure sometimes I’ll fail to. Don’t hate me for that.

This will probably be the last post of the year, as I don’t think I’ll have time to work on New Game soon.
Let me thank you all for your patience and for following these series despite the long waiting time.
Oh, and thank you for pointing out that the website was dead for a few hours! I forgot to keep the dominion alive, but now it’s all fine and dandy!
Wish you a merry Christmas and a fun New Year’s!

TL note: I kind of mistranslated the way Mizuha talks, but I don’t really know how to convey it for now. She kind of alternates formal speaking and colloquial Kansai Dialect, but I didn’t know how to convey it in a proper English accent, so for now I changed her way of talking. Feel free to suggest changes about it, and thank you in advance if you do!


The blue fox tribe siblings and their homeland’s fruit

Blue Sagittarius helped Garamdoor with demi-humans trafficking.

I believed what Mizuha said, but I only had circumstantial evidences, so I couldn’t prove it yet. Also, even if I reported Garamdoor, we wouldn’t be able to demonstrate Blue Sagittarius’ involvement.

I was racking my brain about how to find a crucial proof… when Sakuya entered the shop from the backdoor. What a perfect timing, she had probably waited the end of our conversation.

“Master, the demi-humans prisoned in Garamdoor’s attic has been moved to another place, but I already figured their new location out.”
“Great job as always, Sakuya. So, where are they now?”
“Look at this map. This inn in the 11th street looks like many others, but I received eyewitness reports of Garamdoor’s people bringing huge luggages into it.

Zect and Mizuha’s expressions darkened at her words.
The young fox was clearly mad and she surely wasn’t afraid of fighting for her own kind. Her power wasn’t something to be underestimated, as Aileen had almost went all out in their showdown.

“Let us help too. I’d love to quench my revenge. But more than that, I wanna rescue those prisoners.”
“…Let me join too. I don’t want to kill anyone in the capital and I promise I won’t ruin the reputation of your guild.”

Aileen almost had to face Zect and Mizuha, who were two SS rank adventurers, ‘seriously’, so those siblings alone were more than enough to handle this mission… but three men could be better than two.

“If you allow me, I will be their guide.”
“Sure thing, Sakuya, please do. Sorry for always bothering you.”
“No bother. I was going to rescue those demi-humans anyway.”

Sakuya’s will was clear. The dedication in her investigation brought her to find the demi-humans’ new prison. If she went all out, she could’ve rescued them even by herself.

“Rigel, Lia, McKinley, well done. Your job is over, so feel free to go home and relax.”
“Yay! We’d like to help too, but it would be bad if we attracted attention for being too many on the move, so I’ll just go home.”
“Let us know if we can help. We’ll make sure to be ready for anything.”

After that, Rigel and McKinley left the room and headed to the guild’s dormitory.

“Mister Guild Master, I’d love to help too… as a fellow demi-human, I want to rescue them.”
“Are you sure? You just got back from a mission, aren’t you tired? Let me heal you and rest for a bit.”
“Mhh… T-Thank you, but you don’t need to worry. I trust my stamina.”

I cast Healing Light on her to help her recover… and while I was on it, I did the same on everyone else. It didn’t even cost me much magical power.

“Master, I was not expecting to be healed… your consideration warms my heart.”
“Even priests hesitate to use Healing Magic due to its huge cost of magical power… I really admire your kindness, Sir Guild Master.”
“…What on earth is your main job?”
“Brother, what a silly question. Is he not a Guild Master?”
“It should be written on my guild tag, but unluckily I don’t have it with me right now.”

I deceived them and recalled what was really written on my guild tag…
Oh boy, they’d have seen I’m a SSS rank adventurer with ‘Demon Lord Slayer’ as my job…! All my efforts to be unnoticed would’ve gone to waste!

On the other hand, I was starting to take into consideration the possibility of acting in the frontline instead of pulling the strings from the shadows…

Wait, that wasn’t the time to think about it. The next moment, I noticed Aileen eyeing Mizuha.

“Oh, right, Mizuha! You’re only wearing that overcoat, aren’t you cold? Do you want some warm clothes? I live nearby, I can get some for you.”
“I have another small maid dress like this in my room. It is on the second floor. Let me know if I should take it for you.”
“Are you sure? Then I’d… urr… I wanna…”

It was a hard choice: a onepiece dress with a long deep slit like one of Aileen’s martial art’s uniforms or Verlaine’s maid dress?

“…Since you work here I’m sure you need as many change of clothing as you can, so I’d go for Aileen’s, if I can.”
“Sure thing~! Wait a few minutes, I’ll get back in a flash!”

Aileen left the room and headed to her house while Verlaine brought a hand to her cheek.

“Usually, our customers enter the bar expecting a maid-dressed girl to serve them… losing against Lady Aileen is slightly vexing…”
“By the way, Mizuha, if I consider you as one of our employees, do you mind if I pair you up with Zect?”
“Guild Master, quit the formalities when you speak of me. I’d be your subordinate just like my sister, so you don’t have to be this mindful. Also, I’ve yet to start working for you.”
“Oh, okay. Got it.”
“Forgive my brother, he’s adamant on some topics. He’s always been the thickhead he looks like.”
“…Sorry.”

Zect’s reply was curt, but I could tell he wasn’t really angry. Mizuha knew it, that’s why she tried to laugh the matter off with that joke.

“…Now, would you like to take a bath before changing your clothes? Or do you prefer to wait until you return home?”
“Ah… s-sorry, I couldn’t bathe for some time. I-I must… s-smell like…!”
“You don’t smell. My overcoat is odorless.”
“Whatcha say?! I’m wearin’ it ’cause I can’t just walk ’round naked! It’s self-control! Do ya have any idea when I last took a bath?!”

It’s common for adventurer to camp outside, so they slowly grow accustomated to their own smell, but sometimes they get reminded of the importance of bathing.

When I was still an adventurer, there were times I didn’t bath for days, but whenever I got back home, my sisters forced me to take one. And well, now I got why. Bathing is a good thing, and even though the tub was a luxury, I would’ve used it every day if I could.

“Verlaine, can you prepare a bath for her? She’d probably like to change  clothes after it.”
“Can I?! Boy, It’s been so long since my last one I can’t believe I’m gonna take it now…! This guild’s adorbs! Don’t cha think too, Brother?”
“I’m glad you’re better, but stop playing around. I can feel shame too.”
“Please, turn a blind eye to her tomboyish behavior. She is still your adorable little sister.”
“Verlaine, how kind of you…! Ma’am, I like you! Can we live together?! My brother can live by himself, I’ll bother him every now and then!”
“Why are you… well, fine. Do as you please…”

Zect’s baffled expression was so precious I was about to forget he was a SS rank adventurer… but I had heard of his achievements in Blue Sagittarius, and they were all surely proof of his strength.

Rescuing the demi-humans from their prison wouldn’t be hard for him. If he paired with Sakuya, there wouldn’t be anything to do for me and I could leasurely drink all day in the bar.

“…Master, are you going to employ Mizuha as our waitress? She probably has the right attitude to join the intelligence department.”
“Oh, you think so too, Sakuya? These siblings look great, don’t you think?”
“Yes. What about measuring their adventurer score?”

Mizuha’s score probably rivalled Sakuya’s, or it was even higher than hers.
The blue fox tribe girl was stronger in her beast form, so now she should’ve more or less matched a S rank adventurer.

Since I broke our guild’s measurement instrument, I had to buy a new one… but maybe it was better to bring the siblings with me and let a specialist measure their score.

◆◇◆

The basement of the inn that Sakuya had pointed out really turned to be the prison of Garamdoor’s articles. It was guarded by some members of Blue Sagittarius, but they were all B or C rank adventurers, so Zect’s party easily defeated them all without being noticed.

Within the prison were a wolf girl and a racoon guy wearing the collar that forced them into their beast form. They were caged in different jails.

Once the collar was on, their consciousness dulled and they grew wild like beasts, so different species couldn’t be together, as they risked to attack each other. Some of the people ‘questioned’ by Zect’s party said that even beast-tamers gave up handling them.

The inquiring party welled with rage when they heard that, but none of them vented it on the inn’s owner or the Blue Saggittarius’ members guarding the prison.

Now that they had gathered the proofs they needed to uncover Garamdoor and Blue Sagittarius’ wrong doings, there was no need for the blue fox tribe siblings to take the law into their own hands.

Zect brought the rescued demi-humans to our guild and I asked the licenseless doctor living nearby to take care of their wounds, then we left the patients relax and sleep for the night. Meanwhile, Sakuya was able to get in touch with the wolf girl’s parents and she made them talk to the doctor to reassure them about their daughter’s conditions.

After that… my bar was lively as always.

Mylarka and Yuma came to the bar and were now drinking with Aileen in their private room.
Rigel and McKinley had returned too and were sitting at Lia’s table. They noisily talked about their adventure and every now and then the tiger race girl, who was usually silent, chimed in their talk curtly to remind them she was unluckily paying attention to their words.

I was sitting at the counter along with Mizuha, who was wearing a dress similar to Aileen’s and was hiding her fox ears with a hat, Zect, who sat alongside his sister, and Sakuya, who sat a bit far away from me. It was very rare for her to drink something at the bar, but tonight she felt like it and asked Verlaine a drink. It was carrot liquor blended with citrus juice.

“Thank you for your hard work, Lady Sakuya. Today you look quite in high spirits.”
“Yes. I always have a sense of fulfillment whenever I finish a job, but today I feel particularly fulfilled…”

I would’ve loved to hear what they were talking about, but I decided to make Mizuha and Zect taste what I made for them.

“Guys, try this out. I don’t know if it will fit your tastes, though.”

I asked Verlaine about the liquor and the drink I made, and she placed two glasses in front of me. After checking them one last time, I made them slide toward their consumers.

“T-This smell is… coconobi fruit mixed with goat’s milk… how do you…?”

Goats were the most common livestock of cold places. Even the fox tribe – which descended from the blue fox tribe’s same ancestor – raised them, so I guessed that the siblings would be quite familiar with it.

The glass for Mizuha was a ‘coconobi shake’. It was made by skinning the coconobi fruit, mashing its white part, straining it, adding some spices and honey to balance the flavor and then shaking it with cold goat milk.

The one for Zect was ‘coconobi rum’. It was made by steeping the edible part of the fruit in the rum and waiting for its extract to flavor the liquor. Unluckily, I only had one day to do it, so I didn’t know how much I should’ve left it there, but it turned out good anyway.

Unlike its white part, the blue skin of the coconobi fruit didn’t look very tasty, but once the edible part was soaked in rum, it started to turn a pale yellow and color the rum.

“Take a sip. It should taste familiar to the blue fox tribe.”
“When did you get this…? Did you know we were going to come here and prepared these in advance…?”

I didn’t answer. Not everything went as I planned and I didn’t know if they would’ve liked their drinks.

“Thanks for the treat. Mhh~! Gulp! Gulp!

Mizuha held the glass with both her hands, and after the first sip, she started to gulp it down only to stop halfway.

“It tastes like mom’s… It has the same flavor of the village’s… and it’s also…! My, who knew coconobi fruits could taste this good!”

She then returned to chug her drink down. Probably she didn’t drink much at the water cave.
Zect ended up doing the same: first he tasted the rum and opened his eyes wide in amazement, then he checked if his sister was liking her drink, and lastly he gulped his liquor down.

“To warm our body in snowy days, we often drink alcohol. Where did you get the idea of steeping a coconobi fruit into liquor…?”
“This is a bar and I love drinking nice stuff. I spend a lot of effort making drinks. Anyway, the most important part for me is that you liked it.”

The mug in front of me was filled with simple ale, but I had tasted their drinks before.

If I found a way to obtain coconobi fruits regularly, I could’ve added those drinks in the menu. Also, the nice part of those fruits was that they restored some magical power.

“Being a Guild Master is such a wonderful job, isn’t it? We just met each other and yet you’re trying to make me feel at home…!”

Tears welled in Mizuha’s eyes as she recalled her hometown.

Verlaine handed her a handkerchief, and Zect, looking at her sister tearing up, grabbed his glass, stood up and walked to me.

“It tastes like home… Guild Master, sorry for taking me so long to ask, but could you keep taking care of us?”

Mizuha grabbed her glass as well and walked to me. Both of them handed them over waiting for my answer.
I took my wooden mug and clinked it with the siblings’ glasses.

“Remember that I’m just a drunkard in this bar, so treat me accordingly. You’re forbidden from calling me Guild Master here.”

The siblings glanced at each other while Verlaine and Sakuya turned to look at me with a smile on their faces. They were clearly thinking ‘stop with that thing already’, but I couldn’t just stop following my principles out of the blue.

When Zect and Mizuha understood what I meant, they both smiled—it was the first time he showed me one, and only then I realized that, as obvious as it was, even he could smile.
I believed that was the true form of the man his sister knew so well.


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Guild Master – Chapter 42

 

The phantom fox’s real body and the new comrade

We’ve got sporadic guests even in that afternoon—that wasn’t a problem, though, as we pretty much opened our bar pretty much to welcome new requests, our own guild members or the nearby citizens who only wanted to grab some food.

I left the bar to take care of some ingredients when I went on my break. I was a sort of regular of every wholesale and retail store of the capital, even the smallest.

The shopkeepers of “Cardila store”, a little shop located in the 10th Street, passionately sold rare stuff. Since their goods weren’t common at all on the marketplace, they were often away to restock the shop, but whenever it opened—and I thought they could’ve just kept it opened more than once a week—I was always tempted to buy something from them.

“Aquarius’, are you interested in the ‘blue fox tribe’?”
“Yes. I’d love to stock up some food for them.”

I didn’t know the shop owner’s age, but she looked on her late twenties. She ran the shop with her husband, but I had never seen her before as she took off way more often than him.

Her generous clothes revealed plenty of her golden brown skin and I guessed she was probably from the southern regions—the desertic ones.
She wore many accessories on her neck and arms, but she didn’t look fond of divination or fortune-related stuff. They were probably hitting ratio boosting items1, albeit I wasn’t sure about it. I could tell they weren’t mere decorations, though.

She used to call people by shortening their guild or shop name instead of using their real name. This was a sort of rule for her, and yes, I was “Aquarius’”.

“I found that ‘coconobi fruit’ on a mountain nearby the blue fox tribe’s zone. Unluckily, I faced a blizzard, so I couldn’t meet any of them.”
“I see… this sure have a weird shape.”

It was a slightly curved blue fruit divided into nine bunches. I could smell its sweet fragrance even at a short distance.

“I heard it’s quite sugary. Do the blue fox tribe grow these by selective breeding?”
“Maybe they do, Aquarius’. They eat this fruit in many ways—drying the white fruit under the blue skin to preserve it, or they just mash it, or they drink it along with cattle milk… It’s very nutritional, a real help against their freezing winter.”
“I see. Can I have one?”
“One bunch is ten silver coins. Buy five and one is on the house, so forty coins.”
“Please, with all the trouble you got through, let me buy them at full price.”

I put my fifty coins in the bag on the desk and she handed me five bunches with a smile on her face.

“This stuff grows in the wild. I only took some. Even five silver coins each would be enough.”
“Nah, this price is right in my opinion. It’s still fresh too.”
“Actually, I found them three days ago. This fruit hardly spoils, so even leaving it ten days at room temperature won’t make it rot. Also, it gets sweeter in time. I heard it tastes the best right before it starts to rot.”
“I see… I’ll taste it when it’s well ripe, then.”

People can make fruit ferment to sweeten its juice and use it to make drinks and liquors.
Wine was the main booze in the capital that used fruit juice—grape juice, to be more specific—as its core ingredient. The sugariest juices were usually used to flavor liquors or make syrups, and even this coconobi fruit could be used for something like that… but now I had to think about my plan before anything else.

I was looking for a collaborator who could help me make a liquor in our guild’s cellar. If we did it, we could’ve sponsored it as our guild’s specialty.
Still, making it would cause us to stand in the limelight. Even if we gave it only to our most trusted regulars, would we be able to keep doing it? Trying to create something like that could’ve been a great hobby, but managing the bar and the guild was way more than that—it was my job.

“You look lost in thoughts. Why don’t you just try to do whatever crosses your mind until you can? You’re still young to do it.”
“Well… right, thank you. Mind if I come again to talk in a few days?”
“I’ll go on another trip in three days, but I’ll be here until then. We still have a lot of stuff you might want to see.”

I put the fruit I had bought in my bag and left the shop.

Aileen and the others should’ve already brought the ice fox—the blue fox tribe shape-shifter—to our guild.
We had to keep her for a while and show her that not all humans were disgusting and daunting people like Garamdoor’s. We wanted to make her experience what “friendship” meant for us.

I didn’t know if it was the right choice and I didn’t know if I should’ve welcomed her pretending not to know her.

What I knew was that we all had something to do, and my job right now was to trust Aileen and her party. I had to get back to our bar.

◆◇◆

About an hour before the night shift, Aileen and the others brought the ice fox to the bar… along with Zect Crucifer.

“Bro, we’re back! Aileen took care of everything!”
“We’re back, Dick. We removed her collar and managed to bring her here.”
“I see, great job… is this the ice fox…?”

Zect was carrying in his arms a little girl wrapped in the man’s overcoat. She was steadily breathing in her sleep until he stopped walking, then after a few moments her long eyelashes trembled a little—she was probably about to wake up.

The man carrying her opened his eyes wide for a brief moment as if he had just realized that the drunkard he had seen before really was Silver Aquarius’ Guild Master, then he returned to his usual poker-face.

“So you were the Guild Master huh…? I thought you were just a regular. I guess my eyes deceived me.”
“No, please, let me apologize for not introducing myself first.”
“I should be the one apologizing for my rude manners. If it wasn’t for this guild, I wouldn’t have been able to save her. Thank you for everything. And again, I’m sorry.”

His words were proof of his close relationship with the girl he was holding in his arms.

“Please, don’t mention it. Thanks to you we got to know about Garamdoor, Zect. We won’t let them keep doing this sort of stuff.”
“…Do you have any proof about it? Did they really seize demi-humans, forced them into their beast shape and sold them…?”

Verlaine switched with me to answer his question—she wore a pair of glasses along with her usual maid dress.
She heard Mylarka and Manarina talk about it during one of their studying sessions. I bet it piqued her interest.

“Our guild investigated on the matter and we have confirmed that the rare articles sold by Garamdoor were demi-humans. Soon their headquarter will be searched.”
“I see. So Garamdoor did seize and force them into their beast form, huh…? My guild is directly connected to them. I didn’t want to doubt anybody, but… I cannot ignore your proofs.”
“What do you mean? What connection does your guild have with Garamdoor?”
Zect lowered his gaze and fell into deep thought. I got that revealing information about one’s guild was hard, but this wasn’t a conversation he could escape from.

No one talked for some more instants… then a crystal-clear voice cracked the silence.

“Brother, you should stop hiding it. I was able to come back to my senses only thanks to them.”

The little girl’s accent was peculiar, probably because she was part of the blue fox tribe. The next moment, she got down the man’s arms.
She was quite a short girl… I was about to look down on her. She was barefoot, but she didn’t seem to mind it and looked up to me with her big round eyes. When she took off her hood, I saw her aqua-colored hair and her fox ears stood right on her head. I guessed her tail was still hidden under the overcoat.

“Brother…? Zect looks like a human, how can you two be blood-related…?”
“Nice to meet you, my name is Mizuha. I and my brother have the same father, but not the same mother. He is my step-brother.”

She politely lowered her head to everyone while Zect’s face didn’t budge—or rather, he was watching over her.
It was a shock to think they were siblings. They didn’t resemble each other at all.

“Our father is from the blue fox tribe and my mother is a human. I had fifty-fifty chance to born as a human or as a demi-human. As you can see I’m human, but I still inherited my father’s hair color.”
“I thought your dark hair were sort of bluish, but who would have guessed this…”

Truly, his hair color was peculiar, but that alone couldn’t be a distinguishing feature of his blood.
Not even Verlaine could guess his origins, so we can say it was impossible to get.

“If you allow me, I cannot see any similar features between you and Lady Mizuha.”
“Both my parents are from the blue fox tribe. Sometimes our ancestors wake up within us, so we inherit the power to shape-shift… although it is very rare. Aileen, sorry for trying to hurt you back then.”
“I’m fine, don’t worry. What about you, Mizuha? Are you hurt? It’s been a while since I found someone that strong, so I go a bit too serious…”
“No, even in that daze I could tell you weren’t going too hard on me. When you smashed my collar, I felt relieved and it only took a few deep breaths to snap out of it. I kept losing control of my body until that moment… I was so afraid I would’ve never returned myself…”

She reminisced about those dreadful memories with watery eyes. Seeing her in pain, Aileen knelt in front of her and hugged her small body. She then patted the child on the head and on her back.

“We were born in a village on a very snowy mountain. Basically, Mizuha is forbidden to leave the village for long due to her power, but she always wanted to, so I talked to the head of our family and I was allowed to take her here for once… Maybe making her used to people from depopulated villages would’ve been better than bring her straight to the capital.”
“Don’t beat yourself over it, Mister Zect. You and your sister didn’t do anything wrong. I’d love you not to regret your choice. Could you please wait here until you decide what you really want to do?”

I knew my request was hard to accept, since both of them had been through a lot, but I couldn’t accept that Mizuha was going to return home with these bitter memories alone…
It was just too sad.

“I don’t want to think badly of Blue Sagittarius. They kindly offered me a meal and a room to sleep, but now I don’t feel the same… They seized me, brought me to Garamdoor and…”
“Wait, someone from Blue Sagittarius has seen your fox form?”
“Y-Yes… I turn into a fox whenever it’s full moon… and…”

Zect closed his eyes slowly. He was oblivious to what happened.
He had joined that guild because he trusted them… and he had been badly betrayed. Now his seething killing intent was reaching the boiling point.

“There are still people we need to punish, huh~? What if we get rid of a rival guild at once~?”
“Aileen, I can’t ask any more help from this guild. I will make the Guild Master of Blue Sagittarius spill the beans by myself.”
“You want to take responsibility for what happened? I suggest you to let the authorities handle their public judgement.”
“Do you want to stop me, Guild Master?”
“No. I only want to expose their wrongdoings. What’s between you is none of my business.”

It wasn’t impossible for fellow guilds to fight each other. Sometimes even members of the same guild could get into a fight.
But we all would be restricted and receive a stake-out if we were to fight Blue Sagittarius, as we could toss the capital into chaos.
That didn’t mean we were going to sit on our hands, though.

“Still, despite everything, we’d like to offer you and your sister a place to stay. You came all the way here, so let me repay you for it.”
“Repay me…? I’ve been rude to you so far. My apologies alone shouldn’t be enough to make you repay me.”
“We had accepted the request to seize the ice fox, although we did not know all the details behind it. Now we canceled it, but as a matter of fact, we have still brought here the ice fox, so we should take responsibility for what is going to happen next. This is the policy of our Guild Master as well as the duty of our guild.”

Zect looked at Verlaine baffled. I would’ve thought her words were hard to believe too if I was in his shoes.

“Let me be honest—I long for people like you and I want to create a world where demi-humans can be accepted as they are. I believe my dream can become reality if we act the right way, so… can you help me transform this capital into a place filled with good memories for Mizuha?”
“Wow, Bro, you really are nice…”
“I’ve thought you spent all your days drinking… I never imagined you could think big like this…”
“There is probably some remarkable side in the insolent man who helped Lady Timis’ elder sister, then.”

I wanted to tell Rigel’s party to stop that, but I couldn’t just misinterpret their goodwill.
Zect stood still in silence when I held out my hand to him… then Mizuha took his hand and brought it over mine.

“I’m Mizuha Crucifer. Forgive my brother and, if possible, me for accepting your offer and live here for a while.”
“…Mizuha, that’s taking it too far. This guild already helped us plenty, so we can’t…”
“Would you work for me? I promise you Silver Aquarius will know better than Blue Sagittarius how to handle your true abilities. We will arrange a suitable room for your sister too. Remember that we aren’t doing this out of charity, so don’t hesitate to accept and stay as long as you want.”

The other presents in the room held their breath to hear his final answer.
After only a few instants, Zect shook my hand. The equipment covering his body and the back of his hand were just another proof of the huge experience he had.

“Once this is over, I’d like to work for you. I’m looking forward to it, Guild Master.”

His words sounded sincere as he wore a deadpan expression. His smile was probably plastered on his sister’s face, as she looked up to her brother.
If we hadn’t helped him, he would’ve probably made the wrong choice and hurt his sister forever in that fight—we had to prevent that.

Now Garamdoor and Blue Sagittarius were finally going to face their end.


1 The original sentence is “的中率を上げるためにつけているアクセサリーらしい“, but I don’t really know why would he think something this specific. Maybe there’s a common feature about this kind of items that’s gonna be explained later in the story

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