It didn’t take long for me to finish picking out the candidates.
The documents have already been consolidated into an easy-to-read-form, so a glance was all it took for me to decide whether a candidate fit my requirements or not.
Unfortunately, even after counting only the people that fit my requirements, the total number of candidates still numbered more than fifty.
That’s still far too many. If possible I would like to narrow it down more.
“…I’m a bit hesitant to say this, but they all feel more or less the same…” [Ryouma]
Most of them have experience working as adventurers, and for one reason or another things didn’t turn out well for them. That or they ended up racking up a huge debt.
“Generally, most slaves that are able to fight are adventurers. From time to time, you do find some who have history working as guards, but even that is because they have experience working as adventurers. It’s precisely they have such experience that they are able to take on such jobs.” [Orest]
“I see.” [Ryouma]
But if they all have similar histories, then how am I suppose to pick them out?
“Fei-san, do you have any ideas?” [Ryouma]
“It’s difficult…” [Fei]
“Did you have experience having subordinates of your own in the past?” [Ryouma]
“I do. But I’ve never had to choose them like this. I just trained whoever was sent my way. That’s all. People in my line of work then never really had to consider stuff like them not obeying orders or not being suited for the work. If they didn’t follow orders or weren’t effective, then they would simply vanish… Naturally.” [Fei]
“Is that so?” [Ryouma]
By ‘vanish’… Does that mean those people were corrected during training? Or…
No. I should stop thinking about this. I need to focus on the issue at hand first.
The personalities of the slaves are probably being talked up because sales talk and all, but they’re probably not too far off the mark. After all, even if a store talks up its products a lot, the customer will still find out in the end anyway. And I don’t think Reinhart-san and the others will recommend a store like that.
…I’m going to be purchasing these slaves to protect the store, so what I need from them the most is their ‘ability to fight’. Right. Let’s make that the priority.
To narrow these candidates down, let’s pick out only those with at least level three battle-type skills.
With that I was able to reduce the number of candidates to just 12. That’s basically down to a quarter of the original number.
“A difference of but one level, and yet it made such a big difference.” [Ryouma]
“Fu fu fu…” [Orest]
…Did I say something strange?
“Excuse me. Skill levels take considerable training and experience to raise, so it’s not strange for an increase of even just one level to take many years. Moreover, the higher the level of a skill, the harder it is to raise. In cases of high levels, it is not at all strange to take decades just to raise it again.
That’s why it is often said that any difference in level is a clear difference in one’s actual abilities. At the very least, when two people are fighting using the same weapons, then the one most likely to win is the one with the higher skill level.” [Orest]
Mr. Moulton continued, saying, ‘But of course—‘
For a moment, I could not understand what he was getting at.
“But of course, to you, Takebayashi-sama, the difference between level 2 and 3 is nothing to speak of.” [Orest]
“What do you mean?” [Ryouma]
When I said that, he faintly smiled at me.
At the same time, I also felt Reinhart-san and the others become alert.
“You’re an adventurer, are you not, Takebayashi-sama? Moreover, the exceedingly powerful sort. I know nothing of martial arts, but… To be honest with you, I have had you investigated a long time ago.” [Orest]
“You investigated me? I take it you didn’t just hear about me then.” [Ryouma]
Since he’s talking about it so earnestly up front, I don’t think he’s planning on doing anything shady.
“Can I ask why?” [Ryouma]
“There are several reasons. One is because those three with you and Grisiera-sama have been shielding you from behind. I’m certain that merchants with some degree of power have already gotten word of this. After all, it has been indirectly spread through the intelligence network of the merchant guild.
The second reason is for the purposes of our preliminary survey. Although your laundromat that utilizes slimes is somewhat special, it’s not as if there has been no precedent. There’s also the risk that comes with starting a new business. There are many managers who – upon failing – come to our store.” [Orest]
That’s why he gathers information on new stores, conspicuous stores, and stores that are in a slump. But I had four large shields behind me, so he didn’t really think I would end up in such dire straits.
“And the third reason: A mere interest… From me to you. ‘What kind of person is this man known as Ryouma Takebayashi, who happens to be so well-connected and has even started a new venture?'” [Orest]
Of the three reasons he gave, the third one was the most concise, but it also gave off the strongest pressure.
“And your investigations has led you to believe that I am too strong for people that bother with the likes of levels 2 and 3 to deal with?” [Ryouma]