As promised, I finished my work early, and returned to the security company, where I was then immediately granted an audience with the duke.
I don’t know if it’s because their prior arrangements have already concluded or they just made time for me, but either way, it appears that I’ll be meeting them again after a long time.
There was that incident recently too, so I’m a bit nervous, but I headed to the small meeting room nonetheless. Outside the room were guards keeping watch. Zeff-san and Camil-san stood on either side of the entrance, so I greeted them, then knocked on the door. I waited for a response before entering, and when I got in, I saw the duke and his wife with a tired but relieved expression.
“Long time no see.” [Ryouma]
“Ryouma-kun, it’s good that you’re safe.” [Reinhart]
“Come, please take a seat.” [Elize]
I’m sure they must have a lot of things they wanted to say, so I accepted the madam’s invitation and sat before the two, while Rurunez-san served us tea.
“Now then, Ryouma-kun. There is something we need to tell you first before anything else. For all the efforts you made in regards to this incident, thank you so much. Truly.” [Reinhart]
As Reinhart-san said that, he and the madam bowed deeply to me.
“Please raise your head. I really don’t know what to say other than that I just did what I wanted. That might have benefited the city and the people in the end, but I wasn’t the only one that contributed.” [Ryouma]
I really did feel that way. Of course, I won’t go as far as to say that my actions were meaningless, but at the very least, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish so much just on my own.
“But because of this incident, your life is now in danger.” [Reinhart]
“That’s through no fault of your own, though. And besides, you heard the report, right?” [Ryouma]
A commotion ensued when I reported that I was attacked, so I ended up talking about my conversation with the Siblings of the Strong Sword, and about the things that I’ve been thinking of for a while now. Of course, I made sure to pick my words and said everything as gently as possible.
“I’m both glad and grateful that you’re worried about me, and I trust and do believe you’re all reliable. But… As far as combat is concerned, I believe the only one I can rely on is ‘myself’. That’s it was in the past, how it is today, and most likely, how it will be in the future.” [Ryouma]
Saying this myself would come across as arrogance and give a bad impression, so I would never say it out loud, but… I’m pretty sure I have a gift. Not the sort that the gods gave me, but the martial arts I’ve had with me growing up in my past life, a gift for combat.
For as far as I can remember, I’ve always been able to understand any movement after seeing it once. Nothing was too difficult to imitate as long as I could visualize it in my mind, and mastering things through repeated practice didn’t take me long either. I’ve seen delinquents and martial artists on TV, but honestly, I never once thought I couldn’t win against them. The only person I truly thought I couldn’t beat was my dad.
Now that I think about it, the reason I hired Fei-san and Leelin-san was probably because I was confident they couldn’t beat me, though I wasn’t really aware of that. Otherwise, there was no way a person with normal sensibilities would have hired a former killer.
…Honestly, I would’ve much preferred being gifted at studying or having the gift to get along with people easily… But I suppose that’s just me indulging myself. In any case, I can fight much better than children or most adults. All the more so when I work together with my spells and my slimes. And I’m proud of that.
“You’re… No. Actually, I’ve known ever since that you’re not a child that needs to be protected. You seem to have prepared a lot of insurance, and you did manage to return safe, so I won’t say anything about this incident. Elize, you too, alright?” [Reinhart]
“Yes, and I’m sure everyone’s already said what I want to say anyway. And Ryouma-kun also understands our concern. Jill said so too, so I’ll believe in that. But you really should be careful. If you feel it necessary, don’t hesitate to call out to us, okay? It could be other people too, not just us.” [Elize]
I thought the conversation would go nowhere, but they actually folded right away. But out of concern for me, the madam still made sure to remind me to rely on others when necessary.
“Elize, in the end, you still started giving him a sermon, didn’t you?” [Reinhart]
“Oh, I’m sorry. It just came out.” [Elize]
“It’s a happy thing to have someone worry about me. I believe the one that should actually be apologizing here is me, but I really just can’t give up in this regard.” [Ryouma]
I truly am apologetic. Really.
“Don’t worry about it. What do you want to do from here on?” [Reinhart]
“Will you be leaving the city after all? I heard you left the management of your store to Serge’s subordinate, but…” [Elize]
The both of them had anxiety written all over their face, but I never thought of leaving this city and cutting ties. I was just planning on increasing my activities as an adventurer.
I’d originally intended for that to be my main job anyway, and I’ve already set going to the Great Shurus Forest as my current goal. It’s just that life in the city and the people was more fun than I expected, so it was getting harder and harder to leave.
That’s why I’m going to be reducing my jobs in the city. That way I can take on more adventurer jobs too. I’m going to be away frequently, so I’ll delegate my authority in the laundromat to Carm-san and leave everything to his decision.
However, I will still continue to be involved as an owner or investor. I have no intention of closing the store or abandoning my current lifestyle.
When I explained all of that to the two, their clouded countenance cleared and transformed to that of relief.
“I’ve prepared plenty in regards to food, medicine, and supplies, so from now on, I’ll be focusing on raising my rank so that I can finally set out for that trip to the Great Forest of Shurus that’s been delayed so much. As for what comes after, I’ve yet to decide, but as I’ve mentioned, I have no intention of closing my store, and there’s the matter with the Garbage Processing Plant too.
When I’m done, I’ll go back to the abandoned mine and continue working as an adventure with this city as my base.” [Ryouma]
“I’m glad to hear that. My greatest fear is that I might have forcefully taken you out of the forest and made you suffer.” [Reinhart]
“There’s no such thing. I’ve said it many times by now, but life in the city is really fun. It’s like a dream. It’s just that it’s not in my nature to stay in that dream for too long. Its easier for me to distance myself a bit… Well, I’m really just being selfish.” [Ryouma]
“There are plenty of people that aren’t compatible with cities or organizations, you know. People like that tend to be excluded or isolated, but… I think that’s part of what makes you you, Ryouma-kun. It makes me sad that you want to leave, but hearing that you plan to return puts my heart at ease. You should live your life the way you want to.” [Elize]
As the madam said that, she reached out her hand for the black tea and the pastries.
“Ryouma-kun, you should have some too. They’re baked sweets from a popular confectionery shop in the imperial capital.” [Elize]
“Thank you. I’ll have some then.” [Ryouma]
As I ate those sweets, a dense sweetness and aroma spread inside my mouth. It might’ve been because of how delicious it was, or perhaps it was simply because of the smiles the duke and his wife had on them as they ate, but regardless, the atmosphere in the room lightened up and became warm, and in the end, we were just glad that we were all safe and sound.