The servant’s sorrow and the unwavering guild
When the bar closed, the girl had already finished her Favor apricot blended with virgin coconut juice. Once she calmed down, the mood softened drastically.
“It’s a bit late for introductions, but my name is Kirsch Auguste. I’m really sorry about my rudeness.”
She had an estoc tied on her waist, so I guessed she was somewhat skilled in martial arts. Her score might have been around three thousand, so she was probably equal to a B-rank adventurer.
I’d say she was above the average servant of a noble family.
People like her usually preferred to live freely, not tied to someone.
“Sorry for coming this late.”
“Don’t worry, I’m sure you had to work during the day, and you came now not to attract attention.”
“…Exactly. I’m an attendant of the noble Vinceburg family… We can now say that I’m a traitor, but… this time…”
The bar was closed, and me and Cody were listening from the kitchen.
“Are you sure? You have to work tomorrow, and this is a problem of my guild. Why are you that interested?”
“What are you talking about? If the duke is planning something, there might be something I can do! Don’t worry, I’ll respect your choices, so feel free to use me as you want!”
“Usually, the strongest doesn’t move before the end, though.”
I complained, but he simply smiled at my cynical remark, so I didn’t say anything else. Cody brought his glass, which was still not empty, to his lips while listening to the girls talking at the counter.
“So… what is Zevias Vinceburg planning?”
“Master Zevias let his son, Lord Jean, become head of the family. Still, I found out that he’s moving after a certain goal while keeping his family’s power.”
I could imagine Kirsch’s expression simply by hearing just how agitated she was.
I wanted to compliment Cody for keeping his cool, but given his power, it was obvious that almost nothing could trouble him.
“They’re trying to unite with the Republic of Velvechia to assault the national boundaries.”
“…They want to cause a revolt?”
“Yes… I’m aware that it might sound like nonsense, but I have the proof that confirms it. The duke and Velvechia kept exchanging letters about their treacherous plans, using a secret messenger who was assaulted and robbed of the last one by some thieves.”
I honestly couldn’t say if that was good or bad, but if I wanted to maintain Albein’s peace, I guessed it was the latter.
I joined the expedition team against the Demon Lord exactly because I didn’t want to live in a chaotic era. Maybe I could’ve lived doing what I wanted anyway, but I wanted people to not live in fear of being attacked daily by monsters. Also, I wanted a better life.
“Have they threatened your master’s family?”
“Yes. However, the letter was written with an encrypted code, so the thieves had to torture the messenger, and that’s how they knew the connection between Vinceburg and Velvechia. I was ordered to be the head of a party to retrieve it, and…”
I understood that the orders were to not let escape any of the thieves, and although I wasn’t the kind of guy who jumped to conclusions, that development was just natural.
“…To kill them all, isn’t it?”
“…We had two orders. The first was to retrieve the letter, and the second… was to slaughter them right before the negotiations started.”
“Have you done it?”
Kirsch hesitated before speaking in a trembling voice.
“…I couldn’t forgive them for threatening my Master. We fought, but we didn’t kill them all. Then, I had a bad feeling, so I used the see-through skill to read the letter without damaging the seal, even though it was an unforgivable act…”
Any thief guild taught see-through, which allowed the user to see through thin materials like paper. I could use another method, which had almost the same effect, so I didn’t need it.
A thief guild was different from an adventurer’s. Learning any of the skills they taught was illegal, since there were always a lot of criminals among their members. The instructors weren’t exceptions, in fact it wasn’t rare for them to commit robbery or other crimes.
But Kirsch served Vinceburg, so she accepted the dirty work and obliterated the menace.
The thieves had to be punished, but she couldn’t avert her eyes from the situation.
She came to us because she couldn’t shake away the feeling that something dangerous was going to happen.
“Is the Republic of Velvechia trying to team up with Vinceburg to take this country’s properties?”
“…Yes. Lord Jean wanted to marry Princess Manarina quickly to gain influence in the royal family and then make demands using his newly acquired status…”
If he used Velvechia’s power, he could’ve obtained the throne. He would no longer need Manarina’s hand.
If we didn’t stop him, Velvechia would have already attacked us… only thinking about it was unsettling. Humans will always be scarier than monsters.
“…Hey, Dick, it has been a while since last time I’ve seen you wear an expression like that.”
“What are you talking about? …Guess I can’t say it’s my drink’s fault, eh.”
“How long has been since I last felt my blood boil like this? I guess I keep coming here to not forget how it feels to be a hero.”
“Didn’t you say that, given your position, you shouldn’t be happy if the country was in danger?”
“Yes, I did. But if I can prevent it before anyone notices, it will be fine. You like when things are done this way, right?”
Not drawing attention is the best. Nothing is a problem if it’s resolved before it becomes one.
In this case, the citizens didn’t know that a war was looming over the country.
If we succeeded, they would’ve seen the Vinceburg family being deprived of their peerage and honor for an unknown reason, which meant that one of the three major noble family’s would’ve been replaced… if the King wanted it.
“I wish I could do things that way too… but my sword is way too flashy.”
“Yeah, but you’re the right person in the right place. It’s very likely that I’ll ask your help this time.”
“It is not sure, huh…? Well, I am looking forward to it.”
“Sorry, but you’re still the strongest. I won’t make you move easily.”
Cody’s glass was now empty and his thirst quenched, but since I couldn’t heal him with magic, I handed over some Favor apricot to make him sleep soundly for the night.
“…Is this the same one you served to that girl?”
“It’s pretty effective on girls, but it works even on men. I tried it myself.”
“Nice. If you make Mylarka and the girls drink it… no, I guess calming them too much would not be good.”
I mixed it with carbonated water and handed it over. That’s when our client’s story reached its climax.
“Lady Kirsch, so you read the letter and confirmed that it should’ve been delivered to Velvechia and that it was about the marriage’s flop, am I correct?”
“Yes. Velvechia already prepared to raid this country in secret along with Master Zevias. They erected a fortress and defensive walls, now fully supplied for the invasion, in the plains that confine with us in the south, but that is only a bait. They plan to attack from the inaccessible mountains in the north, because even though that’s a natural barrier, the guards on that side aren’t much vigilant.”
“…If Velvechia knows a secret passage to pass from there, they will surely lead an army toward the capital. If the faction of Albein notices the attack, the capital won’t be the only battleground…”
Verlaine had a lot of experience in war, so she quickly grasped the flow of the situation.
“Vinceburg is in charge of defending that line… but if they help the enemy to invade…”
“You did a great job coming here, Lady Kirsch. If your masters were to find that you discussed it with a guild, you might have been arrested.”
“…Indeed. My subordinates kept quiet about my treason, but I wonder how long it will last… Master Zevias is really savage when it comes to failures. I might even get expelled for that…”
Her words came to a stop. I could feel her, since her life was so in danger that she came to ask us for help.
“I understand that I shouldn’t feel like this and I shouldn’t have betrayed my lord in the first place, but…”
“If Lord Zevias’s plan succeeds, the citizens will suffer, so your determination is important. Silver Aquarius won’t allow or forgive anyone who dares to point their finger at you.”
Who knows what Kirsch would’ve thought if she knew that Verlaine, who just said those righteous words, was the former Demon Lord… Did she remember the indignation of a vassal betraying its master?
Some parts of my body started to itch when I heard her say that our guild was a righteous one, and Cody started softly laughing while looking at me.
Then, Verlaine let our customer wait and entered the kitchen for a brief moment.
I nodded to her, and she smiled brightly before returning to the bar.
I couldn’t waver in front of this choice.
If it was a matter of trading, there wouldn’t have been many problems, but an invasion aimed at the capital was a different matter.
I just wanted to live in peace. Drinking every day, working, and laughing while talking nonsense with friends. Nothing more.
What should I’ve done to keep things that way?
Of course, exactly what I’ve done so far.
Cody was right. I should have prevented any disaster… and I would have to secretly move to let someone else, who could afford it, being the center of attention.
“…Have you made up your mind, Dick?”
“Yeah. I can’t let you join the masked saviors yet, but I’ll figure something out. Come back here tomorrow.”
“It is a promise. I will leave everything to you, since I am not good with complicated stuff.”
He also had that side… he was really enthusiast to defeat bad guys but wasn’t good at analyzing the situations. He liked clear and simple things.
After accompanying him to the back door and seeing him off, I listened to the rest of the girl’s talk. They were at the part where Verlaine showed the contract and discussed our reward.
“Given your request, it will be hard for you alone to arrange a reward for us… but let’s talk about it after we achieve this task and calculate a proper remuneration. This guild exists because Albein registered it as such, so, if we want to keep our license, the reward will likely present some implications.”
“B-But… is this something your guild alone should worry about…? Not the entire country…?”
“The success ratio of our guild, saving special cases which go against our customers’ feelings, is a hundred percent, regardless of the requests’ difficulty. It’s a shame that we can’t show it by our confidence alone, but let’s take a step further and say that we are the only ones who can do this. These are our conditions, if you want to officially submit your request to us.”
Kirsch kept listening to Verlaine.
Could our guild achieve it… or rather, was there any guild who could? Thinking about it, even though she came so far, it was only obvious that she hadn’t much faith in our success, given how delicate the situation was.
But well, we just had to show her the result she wanted.
I had to resolve it from the shadows before anyone noticed that something was going on, exactly as I already did many times before.
Hearing our conditions, Kirsch looked quite tense, but when she opened her mouth…
“…I will do whatever I can within the range of my possibilities, although I understand that it won’t be enough. Not even offering you my entire life and all my future reincarnations.”
“Life has no little value, although I won’t say that it has the maximum too. Still, if you, Lady Kirsch, have the pride to make such a choice, we will accept your life as a reward.”
What the hell was with those cute words? But I let Verlaine be.
I couldn’t define her as ‘great’, so I let her be the bartender, but… when she showed that side of her personality, I wondered who the real Guild Master was.
Kirsch started to cry. She then wiped her tears with the handkerchief that Verlaine offered her and rose her head.
Her face was now clear. She still looked unsure about accepting our conditions, but despite that, venting made her feel better.
“Please… Stop the Vinceburg family and save this country.”
“It will be done, Lady Kirsch.”
She signed the contract, and the next day we would have started.
There were a lot of problems to deal with.
Vinceburg knew how to pass through the country’s boundary, so I had to think of a solution… then, I had to prepare for a potential invasion from Velvechia and a way to slow their assault down.
Meanwhile, I had to confirm if Kirsch’s information regarding Zevias and Jean was accurate.
Also, my guild members had already a lot of work, so I could only ask the girls for help.
Lastly, even though I didn’t want to leave the bar, there was the possibility I would also have had to move… While I was thinking about all of that, I erased my presence and saw Kirsch exiting from the back door.