“This is Sir Ahmed, who won the auction for the orb.”
The man, introduced by another middle-aged, slender man, who looks like a butler, and totally appears to be an Anglo-Saxon, is in his forties, and has a handsome beard that covers almost his full face, and is wearing an expensive-looking suit.
That man, called Ahmed, silently bows towards us.
Next to him, a woman, who sits in a wheelchair, and wears a mask that vividly evokes the Phantom of the Opera, quietly and modestly casts her face down.
Miyoshi’s intuition might have been spot on. Even as I think that, I wrack my brain in puzzlement.
That’s because a potion should get the job done if it’s merely external wounds, without the need to take the risk of using an unknown orb.
The formalities of selling the orb finish without problems, with Ms. Naruse acting as the JDA’s guarantor.
However, taking Ms. Naruse’s announcement for the deal to have finished as a signal, the butler-like man suddenly speaks up.
“Mr. Ahmed has another request for you.”
I dubiously look at Ms. Naruse.
She shakes her head, indicating that she has no idea, and takes charge of the talk.
“Excuse me, but the orb sale has come to an end. Was there any problem with it?”
The butler-like man starts to quickly talk about something with Ahmed.
(Miyoshi, what language is that?)
(I think that it might be Hindi, but…then again, maybe not?)
“It’s Marathi.” The woman in the wheelchair, who has been silent until now, explains.
“Eh? That means you understand Japanese?”
After answering, she then adds 『English might suit me better』 in English.
Miyoshi, who had quickly gone into the corridor to google it, tells me, “Marathi is one of the official languages of India, and seems to have around 90 million speakers.”
English is practically India’s official language, so I guess it’s only normal for her to be better at it than Japanese.
I reply in English 『I’m better at Japanese』.
“So, what are they arguing about over there?”
“Dungeon. Want take along.”
Seemingly thinking that I didn’t grasp the meaning, she restates it in English.
『My father would like you to take me along into a dungeon.』
“Miyoshi, I heard her say that she wants us to take her into a dungeon, but…”
“I’m sorry to tell you, but I heard the same.”
Take an injured person, who can’t move properly, into a dungeon? Isn’t it much safer and better to request something like that from the army?
『Why would you request something like that?』
『That’s an easy one. I don’t own a Dungeon Card.』
Upon hearing those words, we become speechless.
There’s almost no doubt that Ahmed is trying to use that <High Recovery> orb on her.
However, the planned user has no D-Card?
『P-Please wait a moment.』
I drag Miyoshi to a corner of the room. The butler-like man, Ahmed, and Ms. Naruse, are still arguing back and forth about various matters.
“Miyoshi, what’s your take on this?”
“Being suddenly told to acquire a D-Card for her within 24 hours is impossible, if you go by common sense.”
“Now that they’ve brought this topic up in a place like this, I wonder whether they don’t have some kind of ulterior motive.”
“About that, how does that butler-styled guy look to you? Isn’t he acting somewhat arrogantly?”
“True. I’ve probably got an idea, but it’s just a guess.”
“Try saying it.”
“Doesn’t he smell of being an American or British special agent?”
“Going by his pronunciation, and the fact that he can speak that Marathi or whatever, he’s related to Great Britain?”
“It’s possible. We haven’t revealed anything about the orb preservation technology, have we?”
“We’ve been insisting that it’s a coincidence.”
“In that case, it looks like it’s their own problem.”
“They have already confirmed the orb count. If we were to accept this request here, and handed over the orb after more than 24 hours passed, wouldn’t it be like making it obvious that we can preserve orbs?”
Indeed. I don’t really know whether they try to be clever or cunning here, but it might be a good method, if it’s just about confirming that we can preserve orbs. But then again, everything will be over if we don’t take up that request.
“You think Mr. Ahmed is involved in that machination?”
“I don’t know, but I also sense that he really wants to cure his daughter with all his heart.”
Seeing Mr. Ahmed, who’s heatedly conversing with Ms. Naruse on the other side of the room, and his daughter, who’s quietly sitting in her wheelchair, I feel like agreeing with Miyoshi.
“There’s also the option that we might make the other party let this orb vanish, and palm off another one onto them…”
“Eh? The orb you used a few days ago was the last one, senpai…”
“The cooldown time is twelve days, so I should be able to get a new one any day now.”
“Well, I guess that option exists as well then. However, either way it’ll mean that it’s necessary to have her obtain a D-Card, but can you actually do that?” Miyoshi says, while glancing fleetingly at the woman.
A D-Card is something you obtain when you defeat a monster for the first time.
That’s the only rule to acquire the card, but there’s a single, strict requirement: You have to defeat the monster with your own effort.
That requirement was thoroughly verified on the acquisition tours that used to be really popular.
There were many traders who killed monsters from a relatively safe distance by mostly using guns on such tours, but only affixing the gun to something, or getting help from others, was already enough to prevent the acquisition. On the contrary, even having someone else load the bullet was already a no go. Because it won’t work if the target monster shifts its aggro to someone else, raising and gathering aggro on yourself is impossible as well.
Also, since traps must be handled personally, from the planting to the activation, by one person, you will also run into time constraints. Still, it’s not necessary to go as far as building the tool you’re going to use.
It’s a limitation that seems harsh at first look, but it’s not that much of an obstacle to a healthy person. After all, there are also weak monsters in dungeons. However, she’s…
I go back to her, and directly ask, 『What’s the problem with your health?』
For a second she’s puzzled by the overly direct question, but then she immediately answers, 『It’s primarily the right side of my body. I’m missing my right arm from the middle of the upper arm down, my left arm from the end of the forearm, and my right leg from above the knee. My left leg is fine. I’m lucky that the left side of my face is still intact.』
『If you can buy this orb, a potion shouldn’t be a problem, no?』
『A potion has already been used to stabilized my body, but I’m told it can’t restore the missing parts.』
『An accident in the past, huh? It sounds cruel, but if you use a potion once more after removing the arms…』
『It’s different when the limb is still attached, even if it’s been torn to shreds, but a potion that can grow a new limb out of nothing isn’t available to civilians, even if it might exist.』
Most things in this world can be bought with money. However, there’s no way to buy something that doesn’t exist, no matter how much money you throw at it.
The first time a high level potion was used, it caused a sensation, but in the end, even that was ultimately just a healing potion.
Most of the body was present, and it only reattached and healed the parts that were severed by a monster’s jaw. But it’s not like it caused the whole lower body to grow back.
『Come to think of it, what’s your name? I’m Yoshimura Keigo.』
『Āśā. It’s ironic, isn’t it?』1
『It means hope.』
After hearing that remark, I decided.
“I want to take her along into a dungeon.”
“Well, that’s very like you, isn’t it senpai? You have a soft spot for beauties.”
Beauties? Now that she mentions it, the left half of her face is pretty.
She has a bit of a resemblance with Katrina Kaif in her early days. Probably because she’s biracial.
Having heard our conversation, she looks up our way with surprise dyeing her face.
“So, how are you going to get her to kill a monster?”
“It’ll work if we use boots that have thick iron plates attached at their soles, and a broad, somewhat long plastic straw, won’t it?”
“Haah…I guess there’s no other way. I will get things ready at once.” Miyoshi said and sneaked out of the room to make a call.
『You really intend to accept the request? Even though we were turned town by the Indian and the British militaries?』
Great Britain’s military? Oh, I get it.
But well, it’s probably normal for them to turn it down. If things were to go badly, not only her life might be in danger, but even the lives of those around her. After all, it’s impossible for others to hold down the target monster. Of course, anesthesia and such is out of the question as well.
『Mmh, you can just leave it to us. I have a slightly better plan than just using traps.』
I feel that I have seen her smile for the first time just now.
Now then, the issue here is time.
『However, seeing as we’ve got almost no time, I’d like you to absolutely do as I tell you from now on.』
『Even if you were to tell me to get naked and spread my legs?』
『…Yep. But then again, if I were to make such a demand, I’d probably get killed by the people talking over there, so I can’t even think about anything as fun as that, unfortunately.』
『Got it, I will leave it to you, Kaygo.』
『That’ll be a help.』
I walk up to Ms. Naruse, and ask, “So, what’s going on?”
“Oh, Mr. Yoshimura. It looks like they want you to take her along to a dungeon no matter what. Even though that is completely unrelated to the deal, they are completely committed to requesting it from you, even after I explained that they can’t force you into it.”
There was a term corresponding to mister in the list Miyoshi had shown me. I don’t know about the pronunciation, but shiri should probably be correct.
Mr. Ahmed slightly lifts an eyebrow.
“Mr. Yoshimura, if it’s talking, I can──” The slender, butler-like man cuts in, but I casually shoot him down.
“Since the orb trade has finished, your job is over. I will speak about the rest with Mr. Ahmed in person. Thanks for your hard work.”
“Huh? No, that’s not it.”
“Ms. Naruse, can we use the neighboring, small conference room?”
“Eh? Sure, right this way.”
I had previously heard from Ms. Naruse that the JDA’s small conference room is completely isolated from any electromagnetic waves, and has wiretapping prevention in effect.
There’s no way to completely prevent someone from recording a conversation, since that’s possible even with cell-phones, so they have given up on that as being inevitable. However, since we’re going to move to that room all of a sudden, the odds of a bug being planted in there in advance should be low.
『Well then, Mr. Ahmed, let’s go.』
With those words, I forcibly move the discussion to the next room, while pushing Ayesha’s wheelchair.
Ms. Naruse stops the interpreter at the door, and closes it behind her, leaving only me, Ahmed, and Ayesha in the room.
『You say that you’d like us to take the lady into a dungeon to acquire a D-Card──』
Mr. Ahmed addresses me directly for the first time.
『You do understand how difficult a feat that is, right?』
『I don’t consider it an extension of the deal. It’s a new request──』
『I don’t know where you picked up that interpreter, you also understand that it’s that kind of a problem, correct?』
At that moment I feel like Mr. Ahmed’s face turned from that of a businessman into that of a father.
『I will start with the conclusion. We have decided to help the lady obtain a D-Card.』
『However, we can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to accomplish that in 24 hours, no, now it’s around 22 hours.』
『If it doesn’t work out, the orb, which you paid a lot of money for, will come to nothing──』
『Why? Didn’t you develop a technology to preserve orbs?』
『Did the interpreter tell you that?』
『You probably won’t find such a convenient technology anywhere.』
『However, the orb count is definitely below 60.』
『That’s a coincidence.』
I quietly place my index finger on top of my lips, and add, 『A coincidence.』
『Right, a coincidence. Occasionally God reveals his working, too.』
His daughter says and lifts the corners of her mouth faintly.
『We’ll do our best to resolve the issue in time, but even if we aren’t in time, I’ll immediately let you know about our plans when we acquire another one.』
『What was that?』
『Of course, it’ll be impossible for us to hand it over to you for free, though.』
『Well, that makes sense. So, how much are you going to take for the request of acquiring the D-Card?』
『Let’s see. This is an impossible mission that would be turned down by the military of any country…I think that it might cost you quite a hefty sum of money.』
『I don’t care.』
『Then, how about giving me the privilege to take out the young lady over there for dinner, if we manage to have her safely acquire a D-Card? Of course, it’ll be your treat.』
Mr. Ahmed frowned, wondering whether he had misheard.
『…Is that some kind of Japanese joke?』
『Absolutely not. Ah, Hindu people are vegetarians, aren’t they?』
『It depends. We are lenient, and don’t mind fish. If it comes to meat, harmful animals are fine. Once in a while, that is.』
As expected of Hinduism. It’s way too broad-minded. No wonder it’s difficult to sum up what kind of precepts the religion has.
“So be it then,” I extend my right hand.
After he hesitates for a little moment, he grasps that hand, and returns a tight squeeze. This settles our contract.
Once I open the door, the interpreter is nowhere to be seen. Miyoshi approaches me at a quick pace, and gives me a report.
“Senpai, I have reserved a meeting space at Yoyogi, and had the change of clothes and equipment moved there. It’ll all be ready in around three hours.”
“Please prepare one rack with shoulder straps that will allow one to carry a person. You know, the ones used during rescue missions.”
“Sure thing. Are you going to carry her on your back, senpai?”
“I don’t know whether the wheelchair will get stuck on something, do I? Besides, moving through a dungeon in a wheelchair is difficult.”
“Somehow it’s become like a spy movie. I’m totally hyped.”
“Though I gotta bust your hopes that it’ll have such flashy scenes…”
“True, that’s a distant dream for a slacker.”2
“What’s with that line as if you have noticed it only now.”
“No, I’ve been aware of it just fine.”
“Isn’t it just a poetic lamentation then? If you want to say that it’s simply a matter of the past, it’d be 『feels distant』, right?”
“I keep telling you, those things are the reason why you’re not popular with women, senpai.”
Miyoshi kicks my leg while pouting, as if telling me to read the mood.
Three hours later. We’re in a rentable meeting room at the Yoyogi Dungeon.
Mr. Ahmed looked as though he wanted to tag along, but I have him wait in a room for VIPs.
To the end, he wanted to add bodyguards to our group, but I frankly told him that they’d be in the way, and turned the offer down.
『Okay, Ayesha, please take off your artificial arm and leg, as well as everything else, and change into the clothes prepared over there.』
『Eh? Even my underwear?』
『That’s no different from telling me to spread my leeegs!!』 she says, turning her bright red face downwards.
“I leave the rest to you, Miyoshi.”
“That’s fine with me. But, what’s this about spreading legs?”
“Ah, no clue. If you’re curious, ask her.”
I leave the room, close the door, and add a troublesome request to Ms. Naruse who has been waiting there.
“Okay then, Ms. Naruse. After we go in, please close the entrance so that no one can enter for at least five minutes.”
“Huh? You’re telling me to lock down the dungeon then?”
“Please cheat your way through this by saying that the entrance checker doesn’t feel well, or something like that.”
“You know, I feel like that would be quite the severe abuse of authority…”
“It’s legal since it’s a move to thwart danger. If folks from a foreign country follow us, various troubles might occur, after all.”
“Haaah, I guess it can’t be helped…”
“Just in case, I have looked it up, but no foreign explorers entered the dungeon in the last three hours here. If it’s before that, several groups have gone in, though.”
I’d expect nothing less of Ms. Naruse, she’s quick.
It’s three hours ago that we suddenly decided to make a dungeon trip.
No matter how excellent the secret service of Great Britain might be, they will likely find it difficult to make their Japanese collaborators move so quickly.
The door of the meeting room opens with a clank, and Miyoshi’s face peeks out.
“Alright, let’s go!”
At once I place Ayesha on the rescue harness, shoulder it, and descend into Yoyogi Dungeon together with her and Miyoshi.
- “आशा” – its pronunciation is Aashaa. I’ll call her Ayesha henceforth, cause it sounds nice and easier to type. I beg all Indians to forgive me. ;-)
- A TL note here from me since you’ll need it a few lines down below: The way Miyoshi phrases this line is a bit obsolete as simple Japanese since she uses 遠くなりにけり. This is a famous phrase used by the haiku poet Nakamura Kusatao lamenting over the Meiji era and falling snow having become things of the distant past (降る雪や明治は遠くなりにけり). It’s said that he wrote the poem when he visited his former elementary school as a university student on a day of heavy snowfall. It has a bit of a vibe similar to “back in the old days everything was better” but without the negative, demeaning connotation compared to nowadays, but more a melancholic reminiscence of days past.