It was near the stables at the back of the Dusk Wheat. A fight that couldn’t really be called a fight. As Rei was worrying about what to do with the four knocked out adventurers who seemed to have been hired by Azoth Firm, Vettman, who led the armed merchants currently staying at Dusk Wheat, showed up.
「I did cause some noise, however……I didn’t think it was that loud.」
Although he wasn’t ready to swing his Death Scythe anymore, Rei still watched somewhat cautiously.
「Well, I have people with a variety of skills. That aside, I heard about your situation. Do you mind if we lend a hand? Of course, I’m not offering to fight for you,」
「……What is your goal?」
「I don’t have any particular goals. But, I would be able to connect with a remarkable adventurer. I thought that it would be good to keep our connection active. ……In short, it’s an investment.」
Rei glanced towards Brazos and Freon for a moment.
……In this case, he didn’t give Murt even the slightest consideration, who looked subtlety unsatisfied. But as expected, Murt didn’t say anything in this situation.
「No, no. Not those two, the remarkable adventurer I’m referring to is you Rei-san. Those two are definitely veteran adventurers and have abundant experience. However, as far as I can see, you are the most talented, Rei-san.」
With a smile, Vettman directed a sharp gaze towards Rei. Rei shrugged his shoulders while taking the gaze straight on.
「Even so, I’m still a D rank adventurer. It’s been less than a year since I was promoted.」
「Although rank is certainly an indication of the skill of an adventurer, it is my judgement that it is not an absolute evaluation. Well, I’m aware that is a minority in the world. In the first place though, it would be hilarious to say that someone with a tamed Griffon has no skill.」
For a moment, Vettman glanced at Set, who was standing quietly beside Rei. It should be noted that he was able to keep calm even as he looked at a Griffon with his eyes. In fact, the people who came with Vettman stiffened slightly when they looked towards the Griffon.
Seeing that, Freon and Brazos watched the conversation quietly as the looked at each other, exchanging a silent conversation.
That is, whether they could trust the person before them.
As soon as they reached a conclusion, Brazos spoke up.
「Rei, it’s true that they can’t join us for battle, but how about cooperating with them here? Speaking of Vettman, he created a group of remarkable merchants. I don’t think he would try to deceive you on this.」
They were made up of remarkable armed merchants who traveled from the relatively safe Imperial Capital all the way to the not so safe frontier. As armed merchants, they didn’t hire escorts and some had been in the business for up to 10 years. As a natural result, Vettman’s name was known around adventurers. Especially in the city of Gilm on the frontier, adventurers and merchants who didn’t know his name were almost all greenhorns……or people like Rei, who was severely lacking in this aspect.
Any how, Rei looked towards the four adventurers lying on the ground after hearing Brazos’ words.
「If that’s the case, could you keep an eye on these four? We can’t kill them for a variety of reasons and if we let them go, they would end just going back to the enemy.」
Closing his eyes for a few seconds to think about it, he eventually opened his eyes and gave a small nod.
「I understand. That is easy enough. Then, we’ll keep an eye on them in our rooms. How long do we have to keep them?」
「That right……I think until tomorrow probably, it it gets later than that, we’ll send someone over to tell you. Is that okay?」
「Ah, Ahh. I think we’ll be able to fit that in somehow even if it goes late into tomorrow.」
Seeing the spooked Murt who was panicking slightly, Vettman gave a smile like that of a nice person.
「That’s that then. If possible, we would be happy to connect with Azoth Firm, since they handle the arms market here in Gilm. Any how, our business has met with various inconveniences here for a while……no, there’s no point telling you about it.」
At Vettman’s bitter smile, Rei was satisfied with their reason for helping.
Given Bolton’s character, he would have never given a fair deal in the first place. Liking to take advantage of his opponent’s weakness, it was easy to guess that he had pressured Vettman heavily. Rather than revenge, Vettman just wanted a deal that was mutually beneficial, not just for one side or the other. That was what Rei thought.
「Well, I understand why you would want to cooperate. However, even if you help us here, I can’t promise that we’ll be able to help you facilitate your business, are you sure about that?」
「Yes, yes. Of course. I’m not asking for special treatment. What I expect is a fair deal.」
Rei looked towards Murt as if asking.
「……Eh? Why me?」
「No, among the people hired by Azoth Firm, you’re the only one that can be considered Galahat’s subordinate. In the first place, I was just threatened by Bolton and Brazos and Freon are completely uninvolved.」
Murt was confused but collected himself at Rei’s words.
「Come to think of it, that’s true. Certainly, I’m in a position to say that. ……Ah, Vettman-san. I’ve heard various things about you. That is, you found Bolton’s policy of sacrificing those that lived on the frontier and various other things repugnant. Surely, if Galahat-san becomes the representative of Azoth Firm, I don’t think he will try to force you to do anything, but I can’t promise. After all, Galahat-san has no knowledge on how to manage the firm. Basically, regarding the operation of the firm, decisions will be made with the cooperation between Galahat-san and the firm administrators. So, what I can do is to report to Galahat-san that you helped us……is that okay?」
「Yes, of course. Rather, I don’t want to force you to owe us a favour here. Doing things like that goes against our business morals.」
「Well then……I’ll leave them to you.」
Murt gave a quick bow towards Vettman. Despite having a surprised expression for a moment at Murt’s actions, Vettman clapped Murt’s shoulder with a smile.
「Leave it to us. Then, feel free to go crazy all of you. ……However, please make sure you’re not defeated. Even if it is only a little bit, we did help you. If the other side wins, the deals we would have to make would become harder than ever.」
「……Then, couldn’t you just not guard them but help use with your full power instead? As long those guys see the situation, wouldn’t your name carry more value? In particular, I think you would be given preferential treatment in future deals.」
Like that, at Rei’s natural question, Vettman shook his head with a wry smile.
「Unfortunately, we can’t do that. We are merchants, not mercenaries. Even though we’re armed merchants, that is for self defense only. We’re not mercenaries who sell our strength as our business. Although you might think that is heartless of us, this is our absolute commitment, or it might be better to say, rule, as merchants. Regardless of whether we are attacked, I can’t break that rule as the head of a merchant group.」
Right now, before Rei was a man who walked the way he had decided without leaving it. Rei saw that and bowed his head.
「I see, I apologise. It seemed I tried to force my unreasonableness on you as I didn’t know the way you worked.」
「No, don’t mind it. From other people’s viewpoints, we seem like idiots. In fact, there are half merchant, half mercenaries groups as well. We just decided on this rule, merely that. ……So, please leave the four people to us and get a move on as quickly as you can. ……We’ll carry them away.」
With one last word, Vettman spoke to his associates behind him, who gave a small nod before starting to carry the four people back into the inn. After seeing them off, Rei, Set and the other two turned to look at Murt.
「……Well, let’s go.」
Nodding at Murt’s words, the party left the Dusk Wheat.
「Indeed it’s dark.」
Freon murmured as they hurriedly walked towards the slums.
With Murt’s guidance, they were heading towards the place where Galahat was hiding. Various shops, bars and the well known so called night entertainment places lined the streets close to the slums. Naturally, those that lived around here weren’t rich, so the moonlight was the only thing illuminating the autumn night sky.
(……Even in this world, the moon isn’t different.)
Rei looked towards the moon unintentionally and thought to himself. As it was a different world, there might have been 2 or 3 moons……or maybe a blue or purple one. However, there was no difference between the moon that Rei could see and the one from Earth. No, rather, there might be various difference that could be seen by experts, but Rei was just a high school student from a rural area and couldn’t see any differences.
「Damn, if it was possible, I wish I could run.」
Murt muttered as he clicked his tongue.
「Don’t say something so unreasonable. In the first place, you’re one of the few people know where the hideout is. Do you want to lead people over by running all the way there? With your strength, you wouldn’t even be able to oppose an adventurer from Azoth Firm.」
Murt was hit where it hurt by Brazos’ words.
Of course, Murt was just a D rank adventurer. As it was, his strength was better than others and more than anything else, he had been trained by Galahat and didn’t believe he would lose out to any other D rank adventurers.
(If it were an ordinary rank D adventurer, that is.)
The figure of Rei, who was following behind him, appeared in his mind.
Rei was also a D rank adventurer. But was also a person who had ranked up with great speed since he appeared in the city of Gilm. His strength was not just at the D rank level. After all, when Rei had looked at Bolton murderously, Murt had been unable to stand and had stayed silent the entire time.
(……Wait. Though his killing intent wasn’t directly targeted at me, the blood lust was enough to make me freeze. However, Bolton faced that straight on……and although he wasn’t much better, doesn’t that mean that Bolton was more courageous than me since he was able to speak?)
Thinking like that to himself, he shook his head in a panic.
「It is true that Galahat-san is the only rank B adventurer hired by Azoth Firm. However, there are also a large number of rank C and D adventurers. If it was just me, it would be suicidal to just charge straight in.」
During this, Murt was thinking to himself, was he really inferior to Bolton in terms of courage? Murt shook off the idea.
At his words, Brazos nodded as walked behind Murt in the dark.
「So you do understand. ……Leaving that aside, we’ve defeated almost 10 adventurers hired by Azoth Firm, but there should still be a little over 30 left. Do you know the specific strength or rank of the remaining ones?」
「I don’t know exactly, but I can give a rough guess. There are few rank C’s and not many rank D’s either. The majority of them are rank E and F. If it comes down to a fight, you probably won’t see any rank G’s or H’s」
Murt explained while walking down the path lit only by moonlight. Hearing his explanation, Freon was puzzled.
「Why is that? The ones with the same skill as those that were taken down by Set near Pamidor’s workshop and those that attacked Set at the Dusk Wheat be factored in?」
「Ahh, that’s impossible. At the very least, there should be very few thieves.」
Set wondered why his name had popped up, tilted his head and gave a cry as they walked down the street.
Should it be said, as expected of a Griffon, he had great night vision and there was no unsteadiness in his gait as walked in the dark.
「Don’t mind it. You did an outstanding job.」
Freon lightly stroked Set’s back.
Seeing Set give a cheerful cry, Murt felt his excessive tension dissipate.
The party walked through the night like that, and eventually, a familiar hut entered his vision. At first glance, it was quite old and looked like no one still lived there. However, the insides had been repaired as needed and the building was in as bad shape as it looked.
「……There it is.」
That, was the place where Galahat was hiding.