“Sorry for making you wait.” [Ryouma]
“Ah, is the meeting is over?” [Yurdum]
“Yes, it ended well.” [Ryouma]
I met up with my guard, Yurdum-san, at the receptionist desk.
Only the representatives were allowed into the meeting room, so he had to wait here.
“I-In that case, I’ll be excusing myself.” [Female Receptionist]
The female receptionist said before leaving. Apparently, Yurdum was talking to her about something.
“Sorry, did I intrude?” [Ryouma]
“Nah, it was just some idle chatter. And some information gathering. But enough of that, what’s next on our schedule?” [Yurdum]
“In the afternoon, I’m going to be helping sweep the town, but there’s still time until then, so I’m thinking of going back to the security company first. I’ve already left everything to the respective department heads, but I need to check their reports and sign some stuff.” [Ryouma]
And so, we headed to the exit of the merchant guild.
Yurdum-san reached out for the door, but before he could, a man entered the guild, whose gaze met with mine.
For a moment, the man made an unpleasant face, but it quickly transformed into a smile as he called out to me.
“Well, well, it’s a small world indeed. It’s been a while.” [Wanz]
“Yes, long time no see,
“The last meeting didn’t turn out so well, but you seem to be doing fine.” [Wanz]
“Yes, fortunately. Have you gotten thinner?” [Ryouma]
“It’s because of the weather. It got so cold so quickly… What brings you here, by the way?” [Wanz]
“I just met up with some acquaintances.” [Ryouma]
“I see. I also have an appointment with some acquaintances, so you’ll have to excuse me.” [Wanz]
“Goodbye then.” [Ryouma]
Wanz headed for the reception desk, while we headed outside.
Apparently, he didn’t want a long conversation with me either.
But our eyes met, so we had to keep up appearances and talk.
“Boss, that Wanz… Could he be?” [Yurdum]
“Yes. He’s likely the person you’re thinking about.” [Ryouma]
“I knew it. So that’s the guy you were so tense with huh. It’s good that everything ended on a peaceful note.” [Yurdum]
“There’s no way I would’ve started arguing with him there. He’s also keeping up appearances, so he probably wants to avoid causing a commotion too.” [Ryouma]
Yurdum said as he looked at me.
“So how come you don’t look so good? Is meeting him that depressing?” [Yurdum]
“…Do I look depressed to you?” [Ryouma]
“You do.” [Yurdum]
Is it really showing that much on my face?
“I haven’t talked to him since we argued, but when I met him again after so long, I can’t help but wonder why I even argued with him. I can’t put it into words well, but… In the past, I feel like there was a much stronger ‘aura’ around him. The kind of aura that makes you think that the situation is dangerous and that things can’t keep going the way they were.” [Ryouma]
“You mean there was an intimidating air about him?” [Yurdum]
“I don’t know. I just thought that if things went as he said, the result would be tragic.” [Ryouma]
But when I met him earlier, there was none of that aura left.
That’s why I can’t understand why I was so tense that time.
It’s enough to make me consider my action back then an overreaction.
No, in fact, I really did overreact.
“It’s like when you have a lot of friends, and you’re facing a single goblin, so at most, your concern should be to end the battle without getting hurt, but instead you resolve yourself for death and act like your entire country’s fate is resting on your shoulders.
From another person’s perspective, it doesn’t make sense why you’re reacting so seriously against some small fry. And now that I’m looking back at it, it’s just so embarrassing I want to crawl into some hole, and my face is burning up in shame… The more I think about it, the more embarrassing it becomes, and I mean, yeah, if you want to say that I lost my cool back then, then I guess――”
“Okay, I got it. In other words, you’re really embarrassed.” [Yurdum]
That incident is seriously going to become a part of my dark history in this life.
“By the way, and I’m asking this out of personal interest and because of my other job, but… Shouldn’t you be doing something about that guy?” [Yurdum]
“Unfortunately, he’s wary of me, and he’s not one to expose himself so easily, and besides, there’s an ‘order’ to this kind of stuff, as well as a little something known as the ‘winning conditions.” [Ryouma]
“Can you explain that in detail?” [Yurdum]
Yurdum-san asked quietly after checking the surroundings.
“Our enemies’ goal is to worsen the public order, so they’ve been trying to sabotage the town. But getting rid of their agents like Wanz is
It doesn’t matter if it’s legally, if it’s done in the shadows, or if they’re done away with physically. No matter the method, even if Wanz and all his cronies were to be rid of, this situation won’t end.
So long as the nobles manipulating the strings of the agents aren’t dealt with, or if the ringleaders don’t give up, more agents will just be sent. And if we act poorly against the likes of nobles, they might just turn the tables on us and make us out to be the criminals.
“The duke and his wife are already moving in the capital to deal with the nobles. So there’s no need for us to put ourselves at risk to do something. We should just leave the nobles to them.” [Ryouma]
Just leave it to the specialists.
“As for what we can do right now, that would be to ‘suppress the worsening of the public order until the duke and his wife are able to deal with this problem by the roots’ and ‘improve the public order to at least the same level before the laborers started pouring in’ …In other words, we don’t need to force a solution, but rather maintain the situation.” [Ryouma]
According to the guard commander, Dammeier, the crime rate has already been brought back down to similar levels before the laborers came.
“Of course, since the population has increased, there are still a lot of petty arguments, but thanks to the regular patrols of the security company – made possible by the huge workforce of the security company – the small quarrels can be mediated and prevented from escalating.” [Ryouma]
“Your security company is making use of the laborer influx, so it definitely has a sizable workforce.” [Yurdum]
“We’re regularly hiring, after all.” [Ryouma]
Speak of the devil, we passed by one of those patrols.
A few steps later, I heard some people thanking them.
Not long ago, they were homeless people themselves, but after working an honest job and producing results, the townspeople have started to accept them to some extent.
“The air in the town is also starting to calm down. We can’t let our guard down just with this, but it’s apparent that we’ve avoided the worst case situation. We just have to keep this up, and wait for the duke’s family to solve the problem. That’s much more important than bothering with some small fries.” [Ryouma]
I myself was only able to arrive to this opinion after Hyuzu-san’s group came and I was able to talk to them.
“The battle will be decided by the end of year in the social circles. If we can persevere until then, the victory will be ours, so I personally see this as a declaration of our intent to end everything within the year.” [Ryouma]
“I see, so you’ve already made that much progress.” [Yurdum]
“? What do you mean?”
“The way you dealt with your previous tension, and how calm you are right now. This might come off as rude, but you didn’t appear that busy. I know it’s just my first day, but that’s how I see it after accompanying you as your guard so far.” [Yurdum]
“So I’m not as busy as you thought?” [Ryouma]
Yurdum-san nodded with embarrassment, but I don’t really mind.
“I’m calm because the duke sent Hyuzu-san’s group, and I really am not that busy. But I don’t think that has much connection with how much progress we’ve made.” [Ryouma]
“But you’re the leading person of this town right now, no?” [Yurdum]
“Umm… It’s true I’ve been meddling quite a bit, but
Presently, all of the management has been delegated to the skilled managers. As the owner, my only job is to read the reports they send me and sign what needs signing. That doesn’t take much effort at all.
“To ensure that there are no discrepancies between the report I’m receiving and the actual situation, walking around like I did earlier can also be considered as part of my work, but… There’s no denying that I’m free enough to not seem busy.
In fact, it doesn’t feel like I’ve been working at all recently. Most of the time I’m just researching my slimes, studying farm work, and studying for my tamer guild qualification exam.” [Ryouma]
“But you did participate in the meeting earlier.” [Yurdum]
That’s just a little discourse. I listen to others’ opinions and give my own. The people that are actually working are the guild masters and the subordinates under them.
In the first place, the guards have been protecting this town even before I created my security company. The government office and the guilds have also been working for the sake of this town.
Although the public order has worsened, there are establishments already set in place to deal with that.
It just so happens that the sudden influx of laborers was too much for them to deal with.
It’s akin to a server getting DDoSed, so the server is unable to respond due to the spike in load.
Hence, a simple solution would be to reduce the load. If the influx of laborers is too much for the existing jobs and lodging to accomodate, then I just need to provide new ones. And once everything is in working order again, the situation will naturally resolve itself and the public order will improve.
“That’s the kind of plan I proposed, and then I executed it through a combination of wealth, authority, and connection, before finally delegating everything to others. So I’m not as busy as one might think.” [Ryouma]
Incidentally, there was a time when I was too eye-catching, so to people like Yurdum-san, who are searching for information, it must’ve looked like I was the ‘leading person’ of this whole plan.
But nowadays, there’s probably not much meaning in snooping around me anymore since everyone else is working much harder than me to maintain the public order.
If anything, focusing on me would just make the people snooping around expend more effort and time needlessly.
When I said that, Yurdum-san seemed to have an inkling of what I was talking about, and let out a deep sigh.
“Boss, has anyone ever told you that you’re unexpectedly black-hearted?” [Yurdum]
“That’s new. Not to brag or anything, but people usually see me as the gullible type, someone easy to use.” [Ryouma]
But of course, that’s a story from 39 years ago when there were a lot of swindlers and users around me. After so many years of being swindled and used, the techniques of those pros have even rubbed off on me… Not. I’m sure that has nothing to do with it, yeah.
“I haven’t done anything
“What a blunt way of changing the topic. Are you talking about that technique I used in our last bout?” [Yurdum]
“Yes, if you don’t mind my asking.” [Ryouma]
“It’s not a secret technique or anything, and I also just learned it from an instructor during my school days, so sure.” [Yurdum]
“Thank you very much. If you’re going to be teaching me, then I’ll prepare a time and place. I have a lot of questions, but what I’m really curious about is that technique that shoots ki.” [Ryouma]
“But if you know enough to realize that it was ki I was shooting, then I don’t think there’s much I can teach you with words… First of all, you strengthen your body by covering your whole body with ki. This one you’ve used already.” [Yurdum]
“Yes. I’d heard that that’s how you’re supposed to use ki.” [Ryouma]
“Covering your whole body with ki to fight is the first step. It’s the basics, and you can already do it, so that’s good.
But while it’s good and all if you can win with just that, there’s no telling what will happen in an actual battle. Depending on the situation, you might have to face an opponent stronger than yourself or face an opponent your ill-matched with.
For situations like that, the ‘practical technique’ that I used yesterday was developed. To give an example, the technique that shoots out ki was developed to enable a practitioner to attack an opponent that’s outside one’s range. With this skill, depending on your mastery, you could attack flying monsters or even archers from a distance with nothing but your fists. But of course, if you actually prepare properly beforehand, that won’t be necessary.” [Yurdum]
Yurdum chuckled, then continued.
“In a similar vein, there are also techniques that were developed to defeat monsters with a hard shell, techniques that increase one’s attack strength, or those that strengthen one’s weapon… There are various techniques that were developed for a myriad of reasons.
But no matter the expert, one can only fully exhibit his abilities when in a situation that enables him to use his weapon to the fullest.
Also, no matter how many ki techniques one has learned, all experts begin with a ki armor, and end with a ki armor. That’s why strengthening the whole body with ki is the quintessence of ki techniques.” [Yurdum]
“…Well, something like that. I made it sound so grand, but really, I’m a long way away from that realm… But that’s what I’ve been taught.
It is said that the famed Martial God, Teagle, is impervious to all blades when using ki and that his fist could crush dragons through their scales. There are plenty of proofs to these rumors, so they’re likely true.” [Yurdum]
For a moment, I was shocked when the grandpa from my background story was mentioned, but after that, Yurdum-san told me some interesting stories about historical soldiers and famous adventurers.
He was so good at telling stories that the time we spent walking actually turned out to be quite meaningful. I didn’t even feel the time until we reached the security company.
It was a bit regretful that we had to cut the stories short, but――
Just as I was thinking that to myself.
When we passed by the reception desk, the maid, Lilian-san, called out to me.
She wasn’t sitting behind the reception desk, but she was standing somewhere conspicuous. I wonder why.
“Orest Moulton from the Moulton Slave Company arrived just recently.” [Lilian]
“Orest-san came?” [Ryouma]
That suspicious but good looking guy came? But why all of the sudden? He never mentioned anything about dropping by.
“When I told him that you weren’t around, he said ‘It’s my fault for dropping by without an appointment, but if it’s no trouble, I’d like to wait for him.’ He’s currently waiting at the reception office. Will you be meeting him? Of course, you can also refuse.” [Lilian]
“Since he went out of his way to wait, I might as well meet him.” [Ryouma]
I want to know what he needs me for, and he did help me before…
I have a feeling this won’t be simple, though. I braced myself and headed for the reception office.