Passing through the door they were directed to, there was a small bright room beyond it.
There were hardly any furnishings placed in the room. In the center of the room there was a lonely desk with two chairs facing it from across the table. That was all that was present in this room.
Incidentally, Renya picked up a weird sensation as he entered through the door, but he remained silent about it as Shion and Rona hadn’t mentioned anything before entering the room.
Inside the room there was one man sitting on a chair.
It was impossible to determine his age from his looks.
His slender face was small with a pale colored complexion. His blond hair spilled down, exceeding his shoulders in length. His firm body build told anyone on the first look that he was male. However comparing him to the adventurers within the guild’s building you could call him very slender, almost to the extent of being thin.
His eyes were narrow, giving off a feeling of being tired.1
One way or the other it was possible to perceive that the color of his eye were green.
The tailored robe he was wearing gave off a pleasant feeling and was colored navy blue.
No decorations could be seen on the robe except a single item appearing to be a silver medal hanging at the height of his chest.
“Yaa, nice of you to come to visit.” (-)
Without standing up, he greeted them in a soft voice. Shion lightly bowed her head.
Also, as if being prompted into it, Rona bowed as well. Somehow Renya got the feeling that it wouldn’t be a good idea to not follow up on it either and thus he bowed himself in the end as well.
“It has been a while, honored deputy branch leader”(Shion)2
While raising her head again, Shion spoke those words. Somehow her voice seemed as if she were squeezing them out though.
How to say it, it seems as if she doesn’t want to talk to this person if at all possible – that was the impression her voice emitted but was that really fine? At any rate, it is quite obvious that she wants to leave this place even if it is a second sooner. Renya carefully observed the seated vice-guild leader while trying to ascertain the reason for her dislike to remain here.
“It’s futile, Lost” (-)
Has he noticed my particular look of observation? The deputy branch leader shifted his attention towards Renya.
The gaze of his barely opened eyes emitted a deeper comprehension. It reminded Renya somehow of a snake or lizard or some other kind of the reptile family. Somehow Renya felt a cold shiver run down his spine.
“Well, just by looking, you won’t be able to understand why those girls have such antipathy towards me. After all, my outer appearance is perfect.” (-)
“Please teach me where this unfounded confidence comes from.” (Renya)
Laughing with a grinning face, the deputy branch leader appeared to really be a fairly gentle mannered man. His calm expression didn’t seem to have any faults either, or at least none that were easily seen through.
Yet, the degree of Shion’s impression of him appears to rank him as someone with a poor reputation.
How about Rona? Renya tried to read Rona’s facial expression. There he could only find her usual mask of a smiling face stuck there as it was, making a suitable judgment quite difficult.
“Since Shion and Rona already know about me, I should introduce myself to the Lost over there, huh? I am the deputy branch leader in charge of this adventurer’s guild branch in Kukrika, Fritz =3 Rustbrid (T/N: >> Furitsu = Rusutoburido <<). Pleased to make your acquaintance.” 4 (Fritz)
“I am Renya. Leaving that aside, how long are we supposed to stand around here?” (Renya)
All three of them had entered the room and immediately stopped short without trying to approach the desk.
Renya stood still in a wait-and-see situation, while the remaining two didn’t seem to be interested in approaching the desk in the first place. Upon Renya’s words, they looked at Renya with an expression that seemed to be slightly threatening.
“To share a table with the deputy branch leader, there is no way I could do something so presumptuous.” (Shion)
“Why don’t you just frankly admit that you aren’t eager to approach me physically without saying such unnecessary things?” (Fritz)
Fritz completely cut off and disregarded Shion’s weak attempt to cover her refusal with sugarcoated words.
Shion didn’t see any reason to refute his words and thus remained silent.
With such behavior she proved Fritz’s words to be true.
“So you don’t deny it.” (Fritz)
“There is no such reason.” (Shion)
Laughter resounded from within Fritz’s throat while Shion gave a depressed reply.
Compared to Shion’s group, with all due respect, Fritz was still their superior. However, one couldn’t see Fritz taking an attitude of being offended by this obvious considerable discourtesy either. If you had to say it, he wore a hint of amusement towards it.
For a moment, the thought of him being a masochist crossed Renya’s mind, but he denied this possibility himself right away.
If he thought about unnecessary things, he had a feeling that it would be visible on his face.
“This much is just the usual trifling exchange between us. Let’s hear your report, right? The request was to investigate the miasma-filled forest. I heard the number, who accepted it, were 8 people. Leaving out the Lost, there are only the two of you here, isn’t that right?” (Fritz)
Such an exchange is the norm, huh? Renya felt dejected after hearing this. Shion and Rona have become accustomed to this back and forth exchange without obviously minding it, huh?
“The other six people attacked us within the forest while we were investigating. Upon chance we received Renya’s help there which is also why he is currently accompanying us.” (Shion)
“Ah, I can somehow understand. Excluding your personalities, you are beautiful women after all. With the setting of a secluded forest, devoid of any people, it is quite understandable that the outnumbering men would take such an attitude in such a situation, too. If they knew about the personalities of the women they targeted, they likely wouldn’t have resorted to using violence either, though.” (Fritz)
He repeatedly made such similar comments, Renya thought in disgust.
Directly confronting Fritz, Shion limited herself to scowling at him. Staying in the back, Rona began to spill killing intent while concealing it behind her still smiling face.
While Rona wears no plainly visible weapons, you can never be sure what kind of skill with the various offensive magic systems she might be capable of using, Renya judged.
Although he had only accompanied them for a short time, he understood that Rona wasn’t the type of person to attack without any reason. I pray this impression of her won’t have to be changed in this meeting, he thought, too.
“And then? Those six people are?” (Fritz)
“After Renya defeated them, we returned leaving them alone back in the forest.” (Shion)
“Hou? As many as six adventurers originating from the Mercenary Kingdom all by himself, huh?” (Fritz)
Showing something like interest for the first time, Fritz turned his gaze towards Renya.
It is quite clearly a gaze carrying a feeling of a rotten tongue taking a taste of you. It’s quite true that it can’t be helped if you are slightly disgusted by this sensation either, he judged in the end.
“I caught them by surprise. The other party was careless as well. It’s not easy to tell what would have happened if I attacked them from the front. I was lucky.” (Renya)
Although that explanation wasn’t requested, Renya somehow had the feeling that it was wrong to stay silent.
Fritz showed his agreement to these words by nodding several times over.
“I see. I see. However, if that’s the case, all three of you, not giving a care for the situation, decided to let six people of the same guild die without helping and returned. Is that how you can summarize it?” (Fritz)
Shion was at a loss for words.
Rona kept any comments locked within her heart and remained silent. Renya cut into the conversation by rebutting without a moment’s delay.
Shion and Rona faced Renya with a surprised expression. For the time being he had to be careful in addition to keeping Fritz’s attention. Renya took a single step forward coming out of Shion’s shadow.
“At the point in time I had defeated them, two of them were already dead. It was clear that the remaining four would die before long as well. Therefore, anything related to those six people should be attributed only to me.” (Renya)
“Going ahead and putting forward such a suggestion, wasn’t it those two over there who told you to say this?” (Fritz)
“Even assuming that’s right, it was I who came along and intruded on the situation in order to rescue them. This caused the current scenario. You can say that it was I who made the final decision.” (Renya)
“That is …” (Shion)
Although Shion started to say something, she stopped her words halfway.
Looking back over his shoulder, Renya could see Rona placing her hand on Shion’s shoulder holding her back as Shion was trying to say something.
Somehow or other he was able to confirm that they left this situation for him to deal with. Renya turned back to Fritz.
“These are the facts regarding the circumstances of the situation. If there are any problems, please tell me.” (Renya)
Renya slightly stressed the “please tell me” adding an emphasis to the words.
Guessing the meaning behind it, Fritz expressed a smile.
“Problems, huh? …It seems you don’t understand a thing about the young ladies at your back.” (Fritz)
While sensing the anger of the two in the rear swelling, Renya appealed with his eyes to not say anything unnecessary while keeping his expression blank.
Renya wasn’t certain whether Fritz had understood it, but Fritz nodded slightly.
“As for the current exchange, there is no problem. The young ladies were attacked within the forest by the accompanying six men. This fact is no mistake either. There, you came along and saved them. There’s no problem with this either. And then you left the six people behind after defeating them. Whether that is really a humane thing to do, certainly all of you can reconsider this fact. However, I can feel sympathy towards this behavior considering that dealing with six male brutes who assaulted two women won’t invite a humane approach in dealing with them.” (Fritz)
Fritz cut off his speech at this point joining his hands together and placing his elbows on the table.
“This was carried out by you all following Shion’s leadership. But, at any rate, the reason for deciding how to deal with the problem is somewhat necessary.” (Fritz)
So it comes down to this, Renya fixed his gaze on the smiling Fritz while bearing a deep seeded disgust.
I fear that it’s likely that Shion’s group is included in the 「you all」 party for sharing joint responsibility. Shion’s group has broken the guild rules. But because a part of the circumstances were not their fault to begin with, there will be some kind of compromise. Although looking at it from this standpoint, it has an indication that there will be some kind of penalty imposed upon us.
Since I am not taking the full brunt, it shouldn’t be a big penalty, Renya thought while looking at Fritz’s smiling face.
At most it would maybe be working for free one time, huh?’
Having defended Shion from the beginning, I truly didn’t originally think that he would use this approach to deal with the matter of this current case.
“Such an incident may cause a decrease in your reputation though, don’t you agree?” 5 (Renya)
“Let me see… what are you talking about?” (Fritz)
It was Renya who couldn’t help but comment on this, but Fritz easily played dumb.
“In any case, everything related to this matter has been understood. The Lost won’t be restrained, either. Though I am not aware of whether there is any bereaved family which has yet to be contacted, I will tell them that they died in an accident after breaking the guild rules.” (Fritz)
“I understand. Thank you very much.” (Shion)
Behind Renya, Shion bowed towards Fritz’s words while her expression became stiff.
“And the request to investigate the miasma-filled forest? What’s the state?” (Fritz)
“Reporting. The situation within the forest is bad. From the fact that the Goblin Leader led his group of goblins to assault the pioneer’s village, it can be deemed to be obvious. Due to the increase in the monsters activity and the resulting danger from that, I request to be allowed to resume the investigation.” (Shion)
Wearing a hard expression, Shion raised one hand stopping Renya before he could say anything and reported without any hesitation. Fritz’s expression changed into a puzzled look.
From Fritz’s view, there was truly no reason to consider a Lost to step up in this situation.
“As evidence for the appearance of a Goblin Leader, the recovered magic core was submitted. In relation to the scale of the subjugated group of goblins, I think you will be able to understand by the amount of simultaneously submitted magic cores. From the raided pioneer’s village roughly half of the villagers could be rescued. I’d like you to evaluate the point of the rescue efforts even considering that it likely isn’t part of the request’s original contents.” (Shion)
“Half of them were rescued? Isn’t more appropriate to say half of them were allowed to die?” (Fritz)
“Half of them were rescued, is what I said. If we hadn’t concerned ourselves with their rescue, the topic would be about their total annihilation, don’t you think?” (Shion)
Remaining seated, obviously waiting for something more while watching intently with upturned eyes, Fritz’s expression didn’t change at all as he waited for the report to end. Openly looking down on them, Renya caught this gaze.
“Is anything wrong?” (Renya)
Urging him to reply in the same way, Renya inquired. Fritz shook his head left and right.
“‘It’s not what you said, but how you chose your words to suit the situation, isn’t it?” (Fritz)
“Well, those words don’t answer my question, now do they?” (Renya)
Renya answered curtly with cold words.
Fritz expressed a bitter smile and released his joined hands striking upon the table once with a *panto.*
“I see. I have received your report. It’s just as you said. It would be best to continue the investigation. Other interested parties will be recruited to continue the investigation” (Fritz)
“As previously mentioned, I think they accomplished their request with this, what do you think?” (Renya)
“The completion of the request is approved. It is fine to receive the reward at the counter outside.” (Fritz)
“We wish to express our gratitude for your understanding. Let’s go, you two” (Rona)
After expressing their thanks and having no remaining business left here, Renya turned his back on Fritz. Shion wanted to say something, but for some reason while giving an impression of satisfaction, Rona prompted both of them to head for the exit.
From behind, Fritz called out.
“Renya-kun, is it your intention to act together with these children?” (Fritz)
“Well, I wonder about that.” (Renya)
Without turning around Renya answered the question and left the room.
Watching them go, Fritz waited for the door to close leaning back while exhaling a single big breath. Suddenly he straightened his back and looked up to the ceiling.
“Well, well, the plans have derailed slightly… With this and that, I wonder if there was enough progress?” (Fritz)
Naturally, there was no voice answering him in the room.
1Literally, “his eyes were hanging.”
2 The words used by Shion from here on towards the Deputy Branch Leader are from the “Very Polite” section of the Japanese language, which has certain characteristics. One being that the sentences have a lot more words for the same amount of content, and another being that it’s hard to capture the depth of how self-diminutive and other personal praise is being given in a translation to a language that does not have a similar substrata of its vocabulary. Hence this note, and the universal frustration of translators the world over.
3 = is the equal sign, not the number two
4 “Yoroshiku” …can be phrased in many ways but generally it means something like “nice to meet you” or “my best regards.” I opted for a more formal way.
5 Or less politely, “If people found out you were hiring rapists, then your reputation would take a severe hit, don’t you think?” In Japan, a flawless reputation is very meaningful, so suggesting that it would be damaged is a very useful method for having incidents quietly swept under the rug.