The madam made a gentle but serious expression as she asked.
“If you have any concerns or if there’s anything you want, just feel free to mention it.” [Elize]
“First of all, I have zero complaints whatsoever about how you treat me. I’m the problem. I’m sure you’ve already heard, but I’m actually a really selfish person. Probably, much more than you think. If I were to be known as the ‘duke’s specialist’ and cause a problem, it’ll become a scandal for you, and I’m scared of that.” [Ryouma]
Now that I think about it, the reason I isolated myself in the forest and now live in an abandoned mine might be because of my unconscious worries toward the city and my relationship with people.
Even back in Japan, where I was born and raised, I’ve always felt that I was different. Yet now I’m in a foreign country with different culture and customs that resides in a completely different world. Can I really blend in here perfectly?
Moreover, common sense, rules, perspectives, and values all change with the changing of times. Though this world doesn’t have an information network as developed as my previous world, there should still be changes across generations. Will I be able to keep up with that?
If I were still young… No, even when I was young, I was already out of sync with my surroundings. I hope never to say something as old-sounding as ‘kids these days’, but who can say for sure as I gradually grow older?
In the past, I would have just think optimistic stuff like ‘I’ll do my best’. I would fail a lot, but even then, I would just say I would do better next time and keep pushing myself. But despite my optimistic words, I never actually trusted myself.
I realize that now and can say with conviction that it’s impossible for me. I’m carefree even when pessimistic. So I’m sure my actions would invite disapproval from others. It’s my fault, so I only have myself to blame, but if the duke’s family were to suffer because of that, if I were to cause problem to those around me… Well, I’d hate that.
But in society, it’s not uncommon for an individual’s scandal to hurt his affiliation.
A representative example would be those malicious pranks made by part time workers that regularly became talk of the internet in my past life.
I don’t want to repay the Jamil family’s gratitude with evil.
That’s how I felt, so I chose my words carefully to tell them that. That was putting to waste their good will, but for some reason, the duke and the madam smiled.
“I can’t believe I’m still saying this, but you really can stand on your own now even without us, can’t you? So you were more adult than we ever thought.” [Elize]
As the madam said that, her attitude changed.
“But this time, we won’t give in. I told you that word of your deeds has already spread, right? If we can’t even reward you properly for that, no one will ever want to become our retainer. The other nobles will speak ill of us as well, and our reputation will take a hit. So we have no choice but to get you to accept our offer even if you don’t like it. You understand, right? After all, you know that your conduct affects the people around you.” [Elize]
“To add to that, you might have forgotten, but there is a requirement to maintain the position of a specialist. You need to report a certain amount of contributions or research progress every year. And while we do intend to look at the matter from a long-term perspective, your position will be revoked if you produce too little results. Of course, you can be stripped of your rank and expelled if you cause a scandal as well, though that will be up to my discretion. If there are more downsides than benefits, then as a noble, I will have no choice but to quickly cut our ties.” [Reinhart]
Unrelenting and despotic, that was how one-sided Reinhart-san’s words were, but while I’m sure not everything they said was a lie, I know that they’re saying all of that for my sake.
They’re doing this purely for their own benefits, so they’ll cut me down if I cause a problem… That’s why, I don’t need to worry about hurting them and should just accept their offer.
They must hate having to be so forceful, and yet they’re going so far just for me… At this rate, I’ll only be making things difficult. It’s a favorable proposition for me anyway, so I might as well fold.
“Alright. I accept your offer to be the Jamil family’s specialist.” [Ryouma]
When I said that, a soft expression appeared on the duke and the madam once again.
“Thank goodness. Now, we’ll need you to sign a few documents. And what should we do about the field you specialize in? You seem to be doing a lot of things, so…” [Elize]
“In that case, please make ‘slime research’ my specialty.” [Ryouma]
As the madam says, I’ve dabbled in all sort of fields , but my focus is really in slime research. If I’m to be named an expert in something, then it could only be in slimes.
“I figured you’d say that.” [Elize]
“Is it a bad idea?” [Ryouma]
“There’s never been a precedent, but it should be fine. Next is… Oh, right, there was that topic regarding Baron Verdure’s son too.” [Elize]
Who? But then a certain face suddenly came to mind.
“Is this about Yurdum-san?” [Ryouma]
“That’s right. You didn’t know his family name?” [Reinhart]
“I’d heard he was a noble and that he came from a baron’s house, but he said he wasn’t qualified to name his house, so I intentionally avoided asking about it. Sorry to interrupt.” [Ryouma]
“It’s fine, just ask whenever there’s something bothering you. Going back to the topic, I mentioned that a Rank 2 Specialist would be given status, financial support, and, if necessary, place and manpower to conduct experiments, right? What do you think about hiring Yurdum Verdure?” [Elize]
“Well, if you’re going to hire someone, then someone I know like Yurdum-san would be best indeed, but doesn’t he have another employer?” [Ryouma]
“About that… Actually, we’ll be taking care of him for awhile. His Majesty might trust him, but he was basically working as a spy, so as an apology for snooping around and keeping secrets, he’s being lent to us. But of course, that’s not the only reason.” [Reinhart]
Reinhardt-san gently brought his cup of tea to his lips with a slightly tired expression. Apparently, there’s been an exchange of some sort, but if they say it’s fine, then it must be fine, and the king himself approved, so there shouldn’t be any problems.
In the first place, I was the one who chose to put Yurdum-san beside me despite knowing he was a spy.
“Anyway, he’ll be working at our place for a while, but we can’t just have someone we don’t know besides us. Now, if we’re going to just push him off to some place, I figured we might as well just have him work for you.” [Elize]
“Besides, it seems like he really wants to work with you. You treated him well, and he really did leave to train his martial arts, so if he could stay at your laundromat, then he’ll be able to further hone his skills as well. Or so he says, anyway.” [Reinhart]
“I see, that makes sense. In that case, I’ll be glad to take him in. He has a good reputation at the store, and it’ll be busy from here on, so he’ll be a huge help.” [Ryouma]
“Let’s do that then. By the way, since he’s being entrusted to us, he’s not allowed to leak any information even if it’s the king himself, so you don’t have to worry in that regard.” [Elize]
“Once you become a specialist, your store will be treated like a ‘workshop’ or a ‘laboratory’, so be sure to use that to your advantage.” [Reinhart]
Oh, that’s something to be really grateful for. I’ve always been under the protection of the duke’s family, but by formally being employed as their specialist, my backing is now stronger than ever, and my trustworthiness is also much higher.
“Thank you very much.” [Ryouma]
“Likewise, after all, we’ll be getting your knowledge in exchange. In fact, you should be demanding more from us.” [Reinhart]
So they say, but I really can’t think of anything.
“Well… There’s currently a shortage of lumber, especially firewood…” [Ryouma]
“We’ve already requested for as much help as possible from the neighboring cities. Our families’ dimension mages are also helping with the communication and transport, so supplies should arrive soon. But that’s not for yourself, is it? That’s for the city.” [Reinhart]
“But I can’t think of anything other than that right now.” [Ryouma]
“It doesn’t have to be now. Just say it when you need something. You said so much about being selfish, but you’re always thinking about others.” [Elize]
This time it was their turn to look at me with astonishment, but really, there wasn’t any contradiction between my actions and my selfishness.
“It’s precisely because I’m selfish that I’m like this. In the same way that a real bad person won’t look like a bad person from a glance, a selfish person won’t appear selfish right away. After all, people would distance themselves from someone selfish, and that won’t lead to any benefits in the long term. It’s more efficient to act altruistic on the surface to get the most benefits.” [Ryouma]
“I get what you’re trying to say, and you’re not wrong, but…” [Reinhart]
“In the end, you’re just working for other’s sake.” [Elize]
The duke and the madam looked at me like two people watching over a child, then a few seconds later, we burst out laughing.
That continued for awhile before we started ironing out more of the details, and before long, the night peacefully passed…