As I come down the stairs with sleepy eyes, Ms. Naruse greets me from the office’s dining room.
In the end, Ms. Naruse spent the night in Miyoshi’s room. Right now, both of them seem to be in the middle of breakfast, seeing how she’s nibbling on toast.
“You’re up early.”
“I have to leave earlier than usual to change my clothes at Yoyogi.”
It looks like she’s left a change of clothes in her locker at the JDA for such occasions. According to her, if she were to attend work in the same clothes as the day before, she’ll raise suspicions about having slept over somewhere and get teased for it.
Isn’t that actually sexual harassment?
“Huh? Today’s Saturday, isn’t it? You’ve got to attend work?”
In response to my question, she washes down the toast in her mouth, and shoots back, “I need to work this weekend thanks to a certain party,” while smiling.
“What are you two up to?”
“What, you ask…we’ve got to go pick up the orb for tomorrow, don’t we?”
As I sit down on my chair, Miyoshi prepares coffee and toast for me.
“Which reminds me, D-Powers have recently been called Orb Hunters and similar. I hear quite a few requests for introductions are being delivered to the JDA on a daily basis.”
“Eh? I’d totally hate to deal with those, okay!?”
“Usually, the JDA won’t pass the contact address of explorers wishing to stay anonymous directly to outsiders, so it’ll be alright.”
“Well, after all, the JDA won’t earn any dough if it isn’t acting as a mediator.”
“Well, that’s a part of it.”
She’s glossing it over by biting into the toast smeared with butter and jam, obviously pretending to be calm, but it’s pretty much obvious that we’ve hit the bull’s-eye here. But, I consider the part about “usually” to be the scary thing. After all, it means that exceptions might exist. Besides, Miyoshi’s face has become well-known, too.
It’s not like we’ve come back here to hide. I mean, there was a flood of phone calls when the auction was publicized…oh, come to think of it, the telephone cable is still unplugged, isn’t it?
“It’s cool. It’s a phone line we’ve set up for the registry. People can get in touch with us through our cell phones, right? If it comes to the point that strangers call us on those, we just gotta block their numbers.”
“How about setting up an answering machine?”
“Since we’re not going to listen to it anyway, it’s less of a pain to not install one in the first place. Phone calls of people we need to speak with will arrive on our cellphones, and if it’s an important message from some stranger, I’m sure that it’ll reach us somehow. To begin with, if I were to listen to so many recordings, it’d take me all day,” Miyoshi answers in a huff.
While thinking that she’s got a point, I speak up to Ms. Naruse, “About the thing we talked about yesterday, I think that it’s better if you only translate at our office, assuming that you can take out photos of the epitaphs or similar. We’ve got at least some security in place here.”
“We’ll tell you the details another day. There’s also something I wanted to ask about that.”
It’s about how Arthur’s is going to be treated, but since it’d likely trigger a commotion, I think it’ll be a good idea to wait until the handover of <Different World Language Comprehension> is finished.
Ms. Naruse nods, despite looking puzzled, “I understand. Since pictures aren’t highly classified information or anything like that, it shouldn’t pose a problem.”
“Furthermore, since there ought to be some documents I believe will become centerpieces, I’d like you to translate at least those tonight or tomorrow – anyway, as fast as possible.”
“Centerpiece documents? Wait, don’t tell me…what was shown in that video…”
“Yes. The grimoire of the wandering mansion. The literary fragments of 『The Book of Wanderers』.”
It’s no issue to use that as its official name. After all, you’ll know its title if you touch it, just like with other dungeon items. It’s called 『The Book of Wanderers （Fragment 1）』. But, it’d be a total let-down, if the contents were no more than a preamble.
When Ms. Naruse is about to answer something, the bell of our office rings.
“Oh, this morning I’ve contacted a certain Tanaka. That should be him. But, he sure is early.” With those words, Miyoshi looks at the monitor, but then adds in surprise, “Mr. Tanaka…and Mr. Simon?”
“What’s with the odd combination?”
Once I get Miyoshi to open the gate, I stand up and head to the entry hall.
“Good morning. I’m sorry for disturbing you so early in the morning,” Mr. Tanaka says.
“Good morning. Why are you two together?”
“It’s not that we’ve come together. We just met at the gate by coincidence.”
『Yo, Yoshimura. It was us who won the bid for the you-know-what, right? So, I was told by our boss to come and check the situation.』
『I don’t know what you might be talking about, but I’ve heard that the hand over is tomorrow, if you mean the auction.』
『Well, I know that…』
At that point, Mr. Tanaka cuts in, 『Excuse me. Our side’s business is urgent. Can I have you wait with that issue for the moment?』
『S-Sure, sorry man.』
Mr. Tanaka creates an amazing pressure every now and then. Though, usually he looks like an old guy you could find anywhere.
“Miyoshi, hand him over to Mr. Tanaka in the back.”
“Please go around to the back from over there. Is it going to be OK for you to handle it alone?”
“Then, would it be fine for us to directly drive the car to the back?” He asks while pointing at a big car parking at the gate with his eyes.
He gives a signal to the car, and walks towards the house’s backs.
While looking at his back, Simon comments, 『Somehow he’s a guy with a weird presence. Just who the hell is this Tanaka?』
『He’s kinda like a big shot in the government, who’s monitoring us, but…as for the details…』
『Monitoring…as always, you guys are really lax about all this.』
『Japanese are peace lovers after all.』
『You say that, but somehow the air around here smells dangerous…』 Simon comments while surveying the thickets around the house.
As expected of a top explorer, he’s got a sharp intuition. That area is Arthur’s territory.
『Isn’t that just your imagination? So, did you visit today just to check the situation?』
『No, I guess it’s about tomorrow’s escort. Somehow my boss seems antsy』
The DAD (Dungeon Attack Department) is an organization under the direct control of the President. If he’s talking about his boss, there’s no one but the president, is there?
『By boss, you mean the President?』
『Well, yeah. It’s probably because his hair would fall out if it got snatched during transport.』
『Transport or whatever, no one will know who the winning bidder is until they see the ID. Also, there’s still more than 24 hours left until the handoff. Currently, there’s nothing here.』
At my comment, Simon looks down at me. Wow, he’s a tall guy, I’ll just have to deal with being looked down on, right?
『I guess we’ll leave it at that.』 Simon shrugs his shoulders lightly. 『With that out of the way, today’s the 1st, so I think the surroundings are going to be a bit noisy, but don’t worry about it, okay?』
『Haah? Even if you say that, we’re about to leave, you know?』
『Hmm, just think of them as bodyguards and ignore them.』
『The bodyguards are not going to attack us or something?』
『Hahaha, good joke!』
Simon laughs loudly, clapping me on the shoulder.
Ouch, that hurts, buddy. Your stats label you as the strongest among all humanity, so show some restraint!
『Okay, I got it…but, we’re going to continue with our lives normally.』
『OK. See ya later then.』 Simon says and leaves.
Ugh, how troublesome.
“That just now was Simon Gershwin?”
Mr. Tanaka stands right next to me without me having noticed his approach. This guy really has no presence.
“Please don’t startle me like that. But, you’re right. He’s the top explorer of the DAD.”
“I beg your pardon. However, how come you’re acquainted with him?”
“I think you’ll find out if you check the IDs, but he won an orb in one of our auctions. During the handoff, we got to know each other a bit.”
“Hoh. Here I was thinking that he might have come to pass you the orb.”
“No way. He’d directly hand it over to the DAD in such a case, no? Even if he tried to swindle his way through, the money trail for dungeon items passes through the WDA.”
“Certainly, they would know right away if money were to flow from D-Powers to Mr. Simon.”
“You see? So, what about the guy we caught?”
“He’s probably from some place’s intelligence department… Just how did you catch him?”
“Well, I simply went for it when he’d been careless. That’s all.”
Mr. Tanaka reveals a slightly disappointed look.
“You simply went for it, eh? I guess, just as you would expect from an explorer. Still, it startles me for a G-Rank to be capable of that.”
“It was luck, simply by chance. Rather than that, I thought that you might be guarding us, but it doesn’t appear that way.”
Hearing that, Mr. Tanaka’s eyebrow twitches up, and he merely groans, “Hrm.”
Eh? Have they possibly been guarding us, and these guys slipped past that or something? Shit, did I make a gaffe?
At that moment the entrance door opens, and Ms. Naruse steps out, “Mr. Yoshimura, I’ll be going now. I’ll come back another time.”
“Oh, thank you for your help.”
With those parting words and a light nod to Mr. Tanuka, she walks away in the direction of the gate.
“What did a JDA staff member need from you so early in the morning?”
“She’s our exclusive deputy chief. We were putting the exploration information together until late last night.”
“Hoh. How hardworking. Anyway, with this, I will be off as well. Please contact me if anything happens again.”
“Ah, yes. I’ll look forward to your help at that time.”
I watch their car leaving through the gate while standing in front of the entrance. Thereupon, Miyoshi shows up with the comment: “No matter who it is, we sure are surrounded by people who can’t be dealt with by ordinary means.”
“No kidding. It seems that even the surrounding buildings are jammed with intelligence agencies from all over the world.”
“Oh, that’s quite scary stuff. Makes me shiver. What are we going to do if they start to snipe at us or something?”
“It’s true that Arthur’s can protect us from arrows, but the speed of bullets is totally different. I wonder whether they’ll be able to deal with it?” The instant those words leave my mouth, I feel like I’ve heard a “Woof” reply from somewhere.
“It looks like they say to leave it to them.” Miyoshi comments with a laugh.
“What a reassuring bunch.”
“‘That’s why, please give us magic crystals,’ they say.”
“Oh, that’s quite scary stuff too. Makes me shiver.”
This means, if I don’t find out what food Arthur’s likes as fast as possible, I’ll be in a bind, forced to get them magic crystals. Once that happens, it’ll only be a matter of time until our relationship dynamic inverts with me becoming their servant. I think I should start buying up magic crystals.
“Miyoshi, have magic crystals been up for sale?”
“They’ve been traded for research purposes.”
Then I might be able to buy some if I’m lucky.
“Even if they’ve named it ‘clean plutonium,’ it’s not like anyone’s already figured out how to harness its energy.”
It seems they still can’t quite control the rate of energy output. Once they begin to draw it out, the crystals’ response speeds up tremendously, leading to the energy being emitted in an instant.
“Eh? Doesn’t that mean they spectacularly blow up…?”
“On the contrary, the instantly released energy doesn’t turn into light or heat, but instead becomes something else, I hear.”
“Something else? What’s up with that? It’s not energy?”
The dungeon physics are really a mystery.
“I’m pretty sure it turns into a D-Factor. Look, isn’t it said that energy turned into particles at the beginning of the cosmos?”
“Just how much energy is that supposed to be?” I smile wryly. “If that’s the case, I guess the demand on the market isn’t that great yet. Can you look into it for the time being?”
“Sure, sure.” Miyoshi laughs out as if suddenly remembering something, “I’m 100% sure that no one would ever imagine that we’re buying those as a reward for our pets.”
Hearing her laughter, I head back inside the office.
December, the first. The day, supposed to be the only chance to get the orb, has begun.