(T/N: Explanation for the title: 花顔柳腰 – Words expressing a beauty (female) – 花顔: A lovely face like a flower – 柳腰: Slender and flexible hips like a willow. Localizes very badly into English, thus this explanation in attempt to lower the loss of the original beauty of the kanji)
I grab Mia’s hand.
“Where are you going?” (Shuuya)
“— Ah, umm, a funeral for my subordinates. I think that I have to hold a memorial service for them, even if it’s just for Victor and Deyma.” (Mia)
“I will help, too. The location of the battlefield is this way.” (Shuuya)
Finding the corpses of Victor, Deyma and several other subordinates in the garden lantern avenue which became the bloody battlefield, I helped her carry the corpses to the remains of the burned store.
Mia created simple tombs and held a memorial address while crying.
“I won’t forget those who died while fighting for the sake of Scale of Gaia. For me everyone wasn’t just subordinates but also my family. I won’t forget this grudge. Sooner or later I will definitely destroy 【Owl’s Fangs】. I will continue “living” while being driven by that desire… Goddess Gaia… please allow everyone’s souls to continue resting in the ground while being enveloped by tranquillity.” (Mia)
Identical to the poses in Christianity, Mia put both her hands together in front of her chest while putting her knees on the ground and prayed to the goddess.
A few minutes later…
She stands up slowly and fixes her eyes on me.
“What will you do from now on?” (Shuuya)
“… I will head to 【Labyrinth City Pelneet】 to change my name and locate lodging and the adventurer guild there.” (Mia)
Change her name?
Though I think it will be fine if she doesn’t go that far since 【Scales of Gaia】 was already crushed.
“Changing your name and becoming an adventurer, eh?” (Shuuya)
“Yes, for the meantime I will earn money and become strong by working as adventurer. In 【Pelneet】 there are my old friends with whom I grew up in the academy. Above all, the headquarters of 【Owl’s Fangs】 is located there.” (Mia)
She was fixated on becoming an adventurer to that extent.
However, even if I forcefully detained her here, it’s something the person decided herself.
Some time ago she told me “Please save me” with eyes filled by stagnating hatred and rage, but I can feel determination from the current Mia’s eyes. She completely recovered her self-control.
Even though her objective is revenge, it’s important to have survival as guiding principle.
You can say that her carefully considering her friends, and not committing suicide out of pessimism, is less objectionable.
However, they will probably search for information about me who destroyed 【Owl’s Fangs】’s branch.
I think I can slow down the leak of information by having a thieves guild on my side, but I have to expect the other side to come pick a fight from now on, too.
Thus it’s possible that I will end up destroying them before Mia can do anything.
However, she is someone who clearly told me to not try taking responsibility.
Maybe I should consider protecting her even if she gets dragged into my objective while at my side.
“… I see. But, although the branch was destroyed, 【Owl’s Fangs】 is one big dark guild. I believe they will come to deal with me once they find me. Therefore, I think that you will accomplish your revenge faster by staying with me?” (Shuuya)
Honestly spoken, if the beautiful Mia is close to me… I will be happy.
“Yes, that might be so. However, since I can grasp my own strength the best, I will just become a burden if I act together with you, Shuuya-san. Thus I won’t mind it even if you end up crushing 【Owl’s Fangs】. Rather than that, currently I want to get purely stronger… like you, Shuuya-san. That’s why I want to at first make an effort… in anything and everything from the scratch by myself.” (Mia)
Oh-ho, has she changed revenge into her own nourishment…? She’s an intelligent adult.
Or perhaps I should say that my vulgar looking down on her from above is disgraceful.
Shouldn’t I root for her? For the departure of a young person.
“… Indeed, got it. We will work in the same business after this, won’t we? Let’s do our best. I also plan to head to 【Pelneet】 once I completed several tasks. We might meet there sometime.” (Shuuya)
“Yes, perhaps that might happen. After I become a lot stronger, and then, definitely…” (Mia)
We gently smile at each other.
“Yea, I know.” (Shuuya)
“Yes! Shuuya-san—… Then—” (Mia)
Suddenly Mia ran up to me, jumped a bit and gave me a clumsy kiss on my cheek as if hitting it with her lips.
And then she leaves after showing a bashful smile.
I have been taken by surprise.
I followed the back of the beauty with her swaying black hair with my eyes until she was out of sight while enjoying with my fingers the feeling of her lips remaining on my cheek and the faint scent of a woman.
“N, nya?” (Rollo)
Rollo purrs and moves from the hood on my shoulder.
She is probably wondering “Is it fine to let her go like this?” or such? I sense such nuance from Rollo’s attitude which is slightly different from usual.
After joking around by repeating a few times the pose of an influential comedian and sticking out my tongue towards Rollo, I say,
“It’s fine. She chose it herself, Rollo. That girl is smart. She probably judged herself that it will hinder her growth if she has me as guardian… besides, we are following the trail of the Orb of Wisdom and the Light Sake Drops of the Mysterious Tree, aren’t we?” (Shuuya)
“Nya? Nya.” (Rollo)
Due to me explaining it in a jest, Rollo’s red eyes turned into dots.
… Without minding it, I continue to talk to Rollo.
“I will talk with Melissa once we return to the inn… using the Paredes Mirror tomorrow or today night, we will leap to the church where Rubia was, I guess? From there we will head for Fortona Mountain and get the spring water of Water God Akreshys. The other material, Leaf of Sadeyula, comes as very last.” (Shuuya)
“Nn, nya, n, nyaa~n.” (Rollo)
Apparently understanding the details once she hears my explanation, Rollo sat up from my shoulder and started to hit my shoulder with a nice rhythm of *tap* *tap* *tap* using both her hind-legs.
And she touches my cheeks by extending her feelers from below the nape of my neck.
That’s the emotions she sends to me one after the other.
I hugged Rollo closely as she became adorable.
I savour the soft sensation of her belly to my heart’s content.
I get on my way back to the high-class inn after placing Rollo, who purrs throatily, on my shoulder.
However, on the way back— I felt a presence behind me.
No way! A survivor of 【Owl’s Fangs】? A vampire hunter? Though I ponder and worry, it’s different from either.
This unique tailing is similar to what I sensed when I departed from 【Hekatrail】.
For a first-class pursuer it’s particularly easy and not uncommon to change their pattern.
Well, this is a talk of having Grasping Perception though.
Identical to the pursuer who chased me from 【Hekatrail】, this one seems to be the type who doesn’t try to get in touch with me.
I arrived at the high-class inn with nothing happening.
… The presence, which stuck to me from behind, has vanished.
Only tracking me? Just as I entered the grounds of the inn, the response disappeared.* (T/N: Negative emotion attached at sentence end i.e. hate, disdain etc.)
Well, just for caution’s sake… I go out of my way to the stable, which it located sideways of the inn, while checking my back.
I greeted Popobumu.
As soon as it sees me, it lets out a friendly cry of a short, refined *puboppubo*
Rollo as usual climbs on Popobumu’s head from behind with nimble movements and sits there.
Is the fodder high-class as well? Its physical condition management seems to be flawless.
Popobumu’s skin is lustrous for some reason.
As expected of a stable provided by a high-class inn.
However, the guy who trailed me from behind… won’t show his figure, will he?
I looked outside while playing around with Popobumu, but nothing happens.
Entering from the entranceway of the inn, I return to my room.
“Rollo, even if you enter the room, diving into the bed is prohibited until you take a bath, okay?” (Shuuya)
“Nya! Nya~n.” (Rollo)
I warn Rollo while grasping the door knob of the room.
Rollo gave a reply while making her ears wilt, but stormed into the room moving her limbs lively.
Just like that she climbed on top of the table with a jump and nuzzled her head against a part of the plate where fruits are laid out.
“Don’t drop the fruits~” (Shuuya)
Not understanding what she wants, I wash the Luilias Overcoat, which has dry spurts of blood clinging to it, while casting a sidelong glance at the black cat. I entered the bath after carrying out some maintenance on my armour.
While just coming out of the bath, I peek into my item box.
Making it scroll downwards, I checked the names of the short swords and long swords.
First-class Slave Trader License x 1
Blue Eyes of the Ancient Dragon x 1
Dagger of the Ancient Dragon x 35
Long Sword of the Ancient Dragon x 4
Large Scale of the Ancient Dragon x 138
Small Scale of the Ancient Dragon x 243
Whiskers of the Ancient Dragon x 10
Sword of Rendil x 1
Shortsword of Yazekapos x 1
Navy-Blue Dull Steel Hammer x 1
Sword of Rendil and Shortsword of Yazekapos are the weapons Oze owned.
Navy-Blue Dull Steel Hammer is the one Victor used.
Going by the name of this magic short sword, there appears to be an interesting story attached to it.
Shall I use it in actual combat and put off selling it? Taking out the Shortsword of Yazekapos, I affix it to my chest belt.
Once I finish checking, I lazily spend my time until evening on top of my bed while tampering with the other armour that hasn’t been maintained.
A few hours later I went to the second floor of the high-class inn to exchange opinions with Melissa.
“I see, I see… but, right after we split the the other day?” (Melissa)
“That’s how it turned out. Even you, Melissa, talked about leaving a page in the history books or such, right? Besides, you also told me the location of 【Scales of Gaia】.” (Shuuya)
“However, that’s unprecedented. The previous day the information that 【Owl’s Fangs】 is gathering a large number of soldiers came in and I already grieved that today would be a busy day with bustling activity and the next day the leaders of that 【Owl’s Fangs】 have been killed and the soldiers have been totally annihilated!? or such. Since the news came in… the information within 【Holkerbaum】 has become complicated and not only my 【Belgart】 but all other thieves guilds are in a complete state of confusion. Jeez, it was really terrible, you know?” (Melissa)
Melissa is showing an expression, while squinting, like I’m a bit shocked~.
“I’m sorry for that, okay? Though it was busy, are you alright?” (Shuuya)
“No, no, I’m happy how it turned out now. Of course it was hectic, but it has become special to be nominated by you, Shuuya-san. I will be nominated by you who is the perpetrator of that uproar. Thanks to that I was able to come here.” (Melissa)
“Mmh? What does that mean?” (Shuuya)
“To be honest, there was a dispute over various things between us…” (Melissa)
Melissa talks while slanting her sight.
“A dispute?” (Shuuya)
“Yes. Actually it ended up in a scramble… for collecting information about you in 【Belgart】, Shuuya-san.” (Melissa)
“Scramble… finally my hidden charm burst forth…” (Shuuya)
“… Shuuya-san, you are making a strange face… Is your head alright?” (Melissa)
“Sorry, I was out of it.” (Shuuya)
“Fufu, as I said, it became a scramble for information about Shuuya who has become a good customer. And, on the other hand, since I was nominated by that Shuuya-san, I was officially chosen by 【Belgart】 and became able to come here.” (Melissa)
Melissa suddenly and forcefully raises her golden eyebrows proudly and reveals a smile.
“So that’s how it is.” (Shuuya)
“Yeah, by the way, there is a message from boss: 「I was able to learn of your activities and the events in 【Fortress City Hekatrail】. Such being the case, about this time’s matter, I understand. I intended to advice you to not do it, but it’s none of my business.」” (Melissa)
I wonder whether she heard rumours about the battle with the Magic Dragon King?
“I see. Please tell Dino-san “Please treat me favourably from now on as well. You have beautiful manicure. Next time let’s definitely have tea together” from me.” (Shuuya)
“I will pretend that I didn’t hear the last part…” (Melissa)
Haha, her glaring is amazing.
Let’s change the topic.
“However, is it really good for me to nominate you…? Won’t the thieves guild be genuinely targeted by 【Owl’s Fangs】 from now on?” (Shuuya)
“Don’t worry about that point. Actually, as it seems, boss was greatly pleased with you, Shuuya-san, *mumble mumble*…” (Melissa)
Then Dino-san, who’s the boss of Belgart, seems to know about my activities.
Laying the groundwork in all directions, she apparently restricted the information.
Therefore information about me won’t leak out from 【Belgart】’s side, including Melissa as well, it seems.
My situation appears to have been exposed a bit, but…
“Dino-san’s information manipulation, huh?” (Shuuya)
“Yes. We will be alright. There might be a bit of information leaking from the low-ranking soldiers who were hired by 【Owl’s Fangs】 and got away, but it’s within the range of measurement error.” (Melissa)
“Measurement error?” (Shuuya)
The measurement error seems to give perfect birth to confusion by mixing lie and truth.
“Yes, and thanks to that, my rank went up.” (Melissa)
Rank, eh? A promotion? She has a happy expression.
“Rank? Tell me the details.” (Shuuya)
“They are called low rank, medium rank, superior rank and highly classified information rank. I was at the low rank nicknamed courtesan, but suddenly got a big promotion to the top of superior rank which is office work. With this I will be able to make it easier for my younger sister.” (Melissa)
Melissa is cheerful.
Her smile is incessantly lasting since a while ago.
“What happens once you reach superior rank (High)?” (Shuuya)
“Your crisis management authority becomes 5. You will be obligated to equip several magic tools. You can receive a private office. You are in charge of subordinates. You can call yourself a member of the organization or agent. I have graduated from being a courtesan.” (Melissa)
Melissa has put on earrings and rings as well as bracelets on her hands.
I realized that all of them contained mana.
But, once I hear agent, I end up imagining CIA or the National Security Agency NSA.
Is that really a thieves guild? Well, I can’t ask such thing though.
“… Being in charge of subordinates?” (Shuuya)
“Yes. In addition to you, Shuuya-san, special customers have been prepared and together with my new subordinates it’s a hectic whirl of busyness.” (Melissa)
The trade of information seems to be difficult as well.
“Information about a good customer is expensive after all, I guess?” (Shuuya)
“Yes, it becomes terribly high-priced. Especially information about you has been restricted to highly classified information, Shuuya-san.” (Melissa)
It seems information about me is treated as highly classified.
Do I give such impression to a thieves guild?
I feel uneasy about the existences of thieves guild except 【Belgart】.
“Are there any other major thieves guilds besides 【Belgart】?” (Shuuya)
“Yes, of course. There are many rivals. 【Sizark】, 【Commandments of Rosen】 and 【Gate of the Calm Demon】 are the famous ones, I guess?” (Melissa)
There are four famous, major thieves guild?
“How about 【Intelligence Agencies】 owned by 【Countries】 or ruling 【Underground Organizations】?” (Shuuya)
“【Oseberia Kingdom】, you mean?” (Melissa)
That means there are such organizations in all countries, I guess?
“Yea, other countries have them as well.” (Shuuya)
“Yes, that’s only natural. I told you that 【Oseberia Kingdom】 has one, or to be more direct, the White Nine, nicknamed as 【Nine Great Knights】 or 【Nine White Great Knights】. In addition, though not being controlled, there are countless thieves guilds, including 【Belgart】, in a cooperative relationship with 【Oseberia Kingdom】. When talking about being controlled that would be about 【Commandment of Rosen】 of 【Sarmali Kingdom】, though I’m not well informed about it.” (Melissa)
Nine White Great Knights, eh…?
Previously I heard rumours about them from adventurers at the time of eating meat in Hekatrail.
However, if you jumble together countries, dark guilds, underground organizations and thieves guilds like this, there’s more than plenty of possibility for double agents and threefold spies in reality.
It might be my imagination, but there seems to be a dark society in a different meaning with sealing one’s mouth or mind manipulation by skills or magic, let alone assassinations.
Let’s ask about the other thieves guilds, too.
“Does Sarmali Kingdom control the thieves guild 【Commandments of Rosen】? Where are the headquarters of the other major thieves guilds?” (Shuuya)
Countries and large cities are limited. Thus I can predict it to some extent.
“【Sizark】 has great influence in 【Leften Kingdom】 including the 【Royal Capital Fa Dayk】. It seems they have deep ties to the special unit of the secret agency 【Twilight Knights】. 【Gate of the Calm Demon】 possesses influence spreading across countries and is strongly represented in 【Fortress City Hekatrail】, 【Violent Tower City Senapua】 and 【Labyrinth City Pelneet】. I don’t know any more than that. The detailed locations of their headquarters might be a secret. There are also cases where they change the location.” (Melissa)
I guess that’s how it will turn out?
Lastly let’s ask about the intelligence agency with the name 【White Nine】 which is owned by the major power 【Oseberia Kingdom】.
“… About that 【Nine White Great Knights】, are they simply nine greater knights as the name suggests?” (Shuuya)
“No, there are thousands of staff members and soldiers gathered under the name Nine Great Knights.” (Melissa)
Quite the large-scale organization.
“The name Nine Great Knights seems to be powerful though.” (Shuuya)
“Yes. The Nine Great Knights has a hierarchy dependent on strength. It’s been said that the 【Royal Capital Gromheim】 has been peaceful for 500 years thanks to the existence of the Divine Beast of Protection and the elite guards led by the famous First-ranked Great Knight.” (Melissa)
Rankings, huh? There is such a system in the Nine Great Knights.
Let’s remember it.
I heard the words divine beast of protection before as well, but let’s ask for the time being.
“What is that divine beast of protection?” (Shuuya)
“It’s an intelligent gentle-natured ancient dragon. Since generations the crown prince of the royal family serves as partner of the ancient dragon being a dragon tamer. As leader of the Draconic Magical Chivalric Order, he is the top of the dragon knight order.” (Melissa)
I’m surprised that it’s an intelligent, gentle-natured ancient dragon.
It might be a High Ancient.
Is that ancient dragon also an acquaintance of the old witch?
“… 【Oseberia Kingdom】 is a powerful nation because of its dragon rider corps in addition to those greater knights.” (Shuuya)
“That’s true. The empire boasts of a military camp with a similar scope, but due to the circumstances that Luluzak, which is called Meadow City and City of the Lake, was recaptured, I have heard that at present a single unit of of the Draconic Magical Chivalric Order led by the Crown Prince is active. It seems to be going well.” (Melissa)
“When I hear that, that white whatever can’t be called an underground organization.” (Shuuya)
Melissa nods upon hearing my opinion.
“Certainly, 【White Nine】 is a military force but at the same time they are also an organization which gathers intelligence.” (Melissa)
According to what I learned, White Nine is an organization combining military forces and intelligence work, isn’t it?
If I compare it with America, is it something like a combination of the intelligence support activity unit ISA and the army’s delta force? (T/N: Joint Special Operations Command would be the term the author is looking for, I guess.)
Although I’m bothered about other organizations as well, I think I got enough information already… it seems my brain will burst if I cram any more trivial information.
“… I see. This much information is fine for today. And, since I will depart tomorrow, expect that I won’t be here even if you come.” (Shuuya)
“Are you leaving the city?” (Melissa)
I move next to Melissa while smiling.
“Therefore, before we are separated… okay?” (Shuuya)
I fix my eyes on the flowery face of the lovely Melissa.
“I’m bothered about it being a secret, but yes, I came here today with that intention—” (Melissa)
Melissa leans her shoulder against me.
I put my hands around her waist and hugged her closely while watching he somewhat small shoulders.
It has a flexible sensation like a willow.
“Shuuya-san, you are surely popular, aren’t you…?” (Melissa)
“I wonder about that. I wouldn’t know.” (Shuuya)
“Jeez, you don’t have to deny it—” (Melissa)
Melissa doesn’t poke her nose much into insensitive things.
Both of us are adults, man and woman.
As we aren’t boyfriend and girlfriend, a sexual relationship is probably fine as well.
“Nn, nya.” (Rollo)
Just when I attempted to kiss her lips, Rollo moves from my hood to my shoulder.
She jumped on the table. She quickly gets down on the floor and descends the spiral stairway.
“That Rollo seems to be considerate.” (Shuuya)
“Well then, let’s go to my room.” (Shuuya)
And then I had sex with a woman after a long time.
I don’t know whether Rollodeen was disgusted, but we repeatedly loved each other until past midnight.
Because we did it that intensely, Melissa ended up fainting in the middle of it.
She showed a completely lively expression in the morning though.
First thing in the morning she shows a smile with a slovenly appearance.
There was Rollo’s face at the feet of the arousing figure of Melissa.
Did she trespass from the veranda? It looks like she returned without me realizing.
She apparently noticed the smell of man and woman since she moves her nose with a *sniff-sniff*.
At the time of departure, Melissa whispered close to my ear “See you soon again” and gave me a passionate kiss.
And then she leaves the room as if skipping.
Haha, she seems to be happy. I’m happy too though.
Well then, it’s the preparation for heading toward Fortona Mountain.
I let the receptionist know that I will be absent from the room for a while.
I have paid the inn for the period from the end of spring until past the start of summer.
Since there’s still beyond 29 days until summer, I think that I will be able to return until then, but I hope I will return until the second day of summer as it’s the promised day with the leaders of the large company.
I believe I can finish early if I can use chain as I plan to.
“— Alright, we leave from here. It will probably be alright since I cautioned them to not touch the mirror I placed in this room.” (Shuuya)
I have placed the Paredes Mirror in a corner of the room.
To begin with, it can be regarded as furnishing fitting this room.
Given that the mirror’s design is Western-styled, there was no sense of it being out of place.
The gothic-styled streamline pattern is beautiful. Although old-fashioned, it’s a simple design.
Then I take out the 24-faceted orb.
The destination is on the other side of the gate of the third facet, the place where Rubia lived.
On another facet… ahead of the gates where I only peeked through, there might possibly be a location close to the destination. However, it will be easier if one knows the names to some extent.
Investigating each and every single of them is difficult. That’s why I go on the other side of the third facet.
But, sometimes, in a distant future… I want to explore all the other gates by jumping on the other side.
Tracing the symbol on the surface of the third facet, I make the gate start up.
The 24-faceted orb rotated as usual and a gate of light appeared after folding.
Beyond the gate the room, where Rubia previously lived, is projected.
“Rollo, let’s go.” (Shuuya)
Passing through the gate, we entered Rubia’s room.
With this we once again entered the sphere of 【Religious State Hesphirat】’s influence.