“Boss, pour me a drink too.” [Man]
A man wrapped in a dirty cloth called me boss and spoke softly. He had a terrible haircut, and although you could see his face clearly, he didn’t appear clean at all.
“Long time no see, though I guess it hasn’t been that long yet. Have you been well?” [Ryouma]
“Thanks to you. Ah, heh heh, thanks.” [Man]
“How have you been recently? Anything troubling you?” [Ryouma]
As I poured the man a drink, he walked behind me to avoid congesting the queue.
“Not at all. It’s rather peaceful around these parts, actually. You gave us a house to stave off the rain and the wind, and it’s too cold anyway, so people can’t really loiter much. You don’t really hear a lot of complaints either… Of course, when you gather these many people together, petty quarrels are bound to break out and relationships can become strained, but Boss Revel makes sure none of that becomes an issue.” [Man]
“I see. It’s good to hear there aren’t any major problems then.” [Ryouma]
“It’s all thanks to you, Boss.” [Man]
The man took a mouthful from his cup, then exhaled deeply, a breath dyed white by the cold. Before it vanished completely, the man continued.
“Actually, something did happen, but it’s not around here.” [Man]
“Oh, what happened?” [Ryouma]
“It’s that store we talked about last time. That
“I see. I’d love to drop by if they do.” [Ryouma]
“Yeah… Well, that’s about it as far as noticeable events go. Everyone’s just talking about the snow these days.” [Man]
“That’s only natural, the snow is this heavy everyday, after all. Ahh, right.” [Ryouma]
We ran out of shirozake, so I informed everyone and put away the barrels, then I took out a package I’d prepared beforehand from my Dimension Magic.
“It’s just leftovers from lunch, but if you don’t mind, please have some. It’s ‘hard’ though, so do be careful.” [Ryouma]
“Thanks, but don’t worry, we’re ratmen, our teeth is our life, ‘hard’ is a staple favorite. You’re always so generous, Boss. That’s why I like you. Until next time.” [Man]
He took the package, then after emptying his bowl, walked away swaying.
By then, the hot wine also ran out, so the shelter’s drinking session was over. I too headed for the north gate to go home.
Along the way…
“I know it’s a bit late to ask this, but boss, have you always been handing out liquor there?” [Yurdum]
“That really is a bit late.” [Ryouma]
He helped without saying a thing, so I thought he knew.
“Well, I did hear rumors.” [Yurdum]
“Ah, you mean from your investigations? I have been doing it for awhile now. There are a number of reasons for it, but one reason is to get rid of the excess liquor.” [Ryouma]
The goblins at my place are devoted to their desires. Ever since they’ve had a taste of liquor, they’ve been making as much liquor as the ingredients permitted. Moreover, they could make Fatma Territory’s shirozake in a short time, so they could make a lot of wine quickly.
The drunk slimes consume liquor too, but there’s still a lot left of the wine I bought for them, so I was having a hard time disposing the excess liquor.
“It would be a waste to just throw them away, and the goblins did do their best to make them… So they’ve just been piling up.” [Ryouma]
“So you’re like a parent that keeps all of their children’s drawings?” [Yurdum]
“I don’t know about that, but anyway, that’s one of the reasons why. Also, do you remember that guy I spoke with?” [Ryouma]
“Of course, protecting you is my job, after all. I didn’t say anything since you seemed to be acquainted, and he didn’t look like an amateur too.” [Yurdum]
“Yeah, that guy’s an information broker. Revel-san, the manager of the slums, introduced him to me when we were starting out. He was starting to get busy too, so Revel-san told me I could learn most of the happenings in town through him. As it turns out, the man has a lot of clout in Gimuru, and he can gather all sorts of information when needed. His basic rate is a glass of wine and a meal. There could be extra charges depending on the information, though.” [Ryouma]
“So that’s why. Are you giving out liquor to the others too to hide your deal?” [Yurdum]
“There’s that too, but the slum people are indirectly helping gather information. They pick up trash and do odd jobs downtown, and in the process pick up various information. Information that the information broker goes through carefully before passing to me. I don’t know if they’re aware or not, but there’s no doubt that they play a vital role in gathering intel, so giving them liquor is partly thanks for that.” [Ryouma]
When I said that, Yurdum-san finally understood.
“Did you learn anything new today?” [Yurdum]
“Yes. As was mentioned earlier this morning, the enemy may be on the move.” [Ryouma]
“So you know the enemy’s movements enough to think that.” [Yurdum]
“We don’t have a complete grasp of their movements, but there have always been suspicious people in town. We may be trying to maintain the situation, but that’s no reason to leave them unchecked.” [Ryouma]
“Isn’t that generally referred to as ‘letting the fish swim’? You might actually be better suited at being an investigator than me, Boss.” [Yurdum]
“I’m just good at the administrative side of the job. You’re much better at communicating with people. We’ve been together recently, and I can see just how well you get along with just about anyone.” [Ryouma]
“Really? I’m just talking normally, though. It’s a lot easier than talking to nobles… Besides, there are plenty of people way better at socializing and understanding people than me among the nobles. Actually, it’s a basic skill as far as the nobles are concerned.” [Yurdum]
Just thinking about living a life like that makes me sick… Is Elia alright?
By now, she should’ve already made an appearance in the party with the duke and the duchess… She must’ve worked hard.
Inadvertently, I pressed my hands together in a prayer for her.
As Yurdum-san and I continued to chat, the atmosphere gradually became darker. We should change the topic.
“You came from a noble house, right? Are you familiar with rumors or circumstances surrounding the nobles? I’m completely clueless in that regard.” [Ryouma]
“I’m not really all that different from someone who ran away from home, so I can’t really say anything about the happenings these past few years. If it’s about my days in the academy, though, I can answer to some extent. It would depend on what you want to ask, though.” [Yurdum]
“What to ask, hmm… I think just about anything would be new information to me. Oh, how about this, would you happen to know about a family that has a grudge with the Jamil family that’s related to a fire?” [Ryouma]
For a moment, Yurdum-san didn’t know what to say.
“Why all of the sudden?” [Yurdum]
“A continuation of this morning’s topic. If the enemy wants to cause trouble in Gimuru, why would ‘arson’ be the first method they would try? It’s a question that’s been on my mind for awhile now. Of course, it’s entirely possible that anything would’ve done as long as they could cause a commotion, it’s not as though, it has to be related, but still… Anything come to mind?” [Ryouma]
“…I don’t know if they hold a grudge or not, but there is one family that has had an incident with the duke related to a fire, the former Marquis Volcano.” [Yurdum]
That’s a new name. And…
“By ‘former’, I take it he’s not a marquis anymore?” [Ryouma]
“Yeah, due to some complicated circumstances the marquis was demoted to a count. It’s a long story, but the
Yurdum-san spoke about the former Marquis Volcano until we made it to the northern gate.
It might’ve been because of that that the wind tonight felt colder and… lonely…