Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama
After assuring us of their cooperation, the two government officials we had spoken to immediately got to work. As unemployment was rife in the streets of Vadenhaag, twenty hopefuls were gunning for those two positions within a week. Knowing that we had no way of supervising all of them, it was decided that we would hire more employees once the first batch was familiar with their duties.
「You can perform every task, right?」, said Iris. 「In that case, I’d rather you continue with your regular duties than be in charge of the new employees’ training.」
With this line of reasoning, Milia was given the latter role. Although we were profoundly busy in the days that followed, everything progressed smoothly.
「How may I be of service today?」, I said to an unfamiliar adventurer when he came to the counter.
Flashing his license, he showed that he was A-ranked. Just as I was wondering if there were any A-ranks other than Dee in the Roland Group, he spoke.
「I was born in Vadenhaag, and I heard that a guild has sprung up here as well.」
「I had assumed this country to be a war-torn wasteland after being trampled by the Demon King’s Army. However, I got wind of the restoration, and I was wondering if I could be of any use to my homeland.」
「Serving the country? It’s good that you’re here with us now, as we are currently experiencing a shortage of high-ranked adventurers such as yourself.」
Three men who looked like his buddies showed up right behind him. They were A-ranked as well, and they said that the four of them had come together.
「Unfortunately, the rewards you can receive here are not comparable to those in Ferland. But, if you please…」
I placed three subjugation quest slips on the table for their perusal. A formidable monster, a beast that belonged to a villain and monsters that moved in a pack — all were A-ranked quests. The commission rate was about a third of what they would find back in Ferland.
Since I had already surveyed the relevant areas beforehand, I gave them some pointers to take note of. None of their expressions changed a single bit.
「Sounds good to me. How ‘bout y’all?」
「Aye. Doesn’t pay poorly either.」
「You dumb or what? It’s peanuts. But we didn’t come here for money, did we?」
「Agreed. We wouldn’t have spent an entire week getting here if we were looking to make it big.」
「…There, employee-san, we’re all good. Leave it to us」, said one of them at the end of their discussion.
「Thank you. Take care of yourself, and be well.」
「I take it that you do not reside in the capital, employee-san?」
「Yes. I’m from the Lahati branch.」
No wonder, said the four adventurers, nodding.
「You’re very courteous, employee-san.」
「As I always am.」
「Can’t afford to screw up, then. We received so many tips I’m starting to question our rank.」
「Hahaha. Right?」, laughed one of them as I was finding a good way to respond.
「We’ve dealt with some of these enemies before, so I think we’re a-ok. If you were in Finland, employee-san, you’d be pretty darn popular.」
「They’d definitely show favouritism to you if you get posted to that capital over there.」
With casual smiles on their faces, they left for their quest.
For the longest time, I had taken adventurers for people who made decisions based on their quests’ contents and rewards. It’s almost a forgone conclusion, as they’re putting their lives on the line after all. Thus, those men, patriotic to the core, had caught me by surprise.
「How ironic. You can find people who behave more like knights than knights themselves in a profession with almost no entry barrier.」
I found myself hoping that they would return safe and sound.
As I did the back-end paperwork for those adventurers, I heard a gravelly voice followed by the pitter-patter of footsteps.
「Aniki…!」, exclaimed Neil as he sat down on the seat opposite me at the counter.
「Is it about that?」, I asked without taking my eyes off the documents I had in hand.
「Yeah. There’s a fortune teller who claims to possess ‘Clairvoyance’… could it be that fella?」
A buffoon had once tried to threaten me with a skill of the same name, but could this one be different?
「I spent the whole week poking around Izalia, and this is the most powerful one I found. On the contrary, I didn’t hear of anyone with ‘Appraisal’, ‘Skill Reader’ or the like.」
My request had been for him to look for individuals with the ability to determine others’ skills.
「Very well. Thank you for your help.」
「Guess it can’t be helped… it’ll take time to bring him to that guy with ‘Appraisal’ in Ferland.」
「Yeah. Even if I administer the test, it’s hard to produce any formal results without knowing what their skill is.」
What I found troublesome was the fact that Vadenhaag did not have ‘knowing one’s skill’ ingrained in their culture. Half of the people here use their skills without having a clear idea of what they actually are, while the other half do neither. For that reason, I had drawn a blank when inquiring about people with ‘Appraisal’ or ‘Skill Reader’.
Knowing your skill makes a world of difference — you can train in accordance with it, learn to wield suitable weapons, et cetera. Most people’s skills begin to develop around the age of ten. Since the humans of Ferland and Vadenhaag are genetically very close, I imagined that this applied to the locals here as well.
「Please tell me where to find that fortune teller. I’ll verify it personally.」
「In that case, may I request that I accompany you –」
「No」, I said, cutting him off. 「Please continue clearing quests for us. There’s still a lot of lowly-ranked ones.」
I took the notepad on which Neil had hastily jotted down notes. Seeing that there were no adventurers — active or aspiring — to attend to, I informed Iris of my intentions and headed off.
Located within the four walls of the capital, the address Neil had noted down wasn’t far at all. Still reeling from the effects of war, the area in question had begun to degrade into a slum — some houses were occupied by thieves rather than actual residents, while others had been razed to the ground.
Arriving at a one-story house, I rapped three times on the door. If Neil’s notes were correct, this is where the fortune-teller, Betty, stays.
「Good afternoon. Is there a Betty-san at home?」
I could hear footsteps coming from behind the door which was soon flung open, revealing a woman in her underwear. She couldn’t be a day older than thirty.
「Who’re ya, comin’ a-knockin’ at unholy hours –」
Her words were slurred and she reeked of alcohol.
「It’s already past noon. Are you Betty-san?」
「Eh? Yea… wh –!?」
As soon as she opened her eyes fully to take me in, she slammed the door shut.
「Excuse me? Is everything okay?」
「I’m fine… no, I’m not… a man…!? I’m an idiot…」
「It’s okay. I don’t care, and neither am I interested.」
「That kinda hurts… that’s no way to treat a great beauty.」
「I came to have my fortune told.」
「Huh, a customer…」
Her voice had lowered in volume. I heard some more noises coming from the other side which stopped abruptly.
The interior was old and narrow, containing only a single room. Wine bottles occupied every nook and cranny of it. Having gotten dressed, Betty was now standing up straight.
「Well, I don’t have a place for you to sit, so if you don’t mind the bed…」
「If you are okay with it」, I said, hearing a creak as I sat down.
Twirling strands of her own hair, she did not attempt to make eye contact at all.
「I have been told that you are able to tell my fortune.」
「Ah… about that… I can. Twenty, twenty thousand haag. Twenty grand and I’ll do it.」
「My apologies, for I only carry rin.」
「Then that will have to do.」
Fortune telling is a large umbrella with many subcategories. It’s entirely possible for her brand of fortune telling to be completely unrelated to skill usage.
Taking out my wallet, I withdrew two notes and placed them on the table.
「With my divine power… I mean, I call it an ability… which I used just now, I determined it for myself. Your…」
If she really knows, then there’s no point hiding my identity.
「What’s my skill, then? Or rather my ability, using your terms.」
「It’s a tragic one…」
Sniffling, she rubbed her eyes.
「Tragic enough to draw tears?」
「I suppose its applications are indeed rather limited.」
「No, it’s not about that. That’s not what I meant. I see a great effort on your part, and the time and date… you see, I’m also able to view your ability’s memories. I am therefore aware of your former, ‘glorious’ profession.」
「…Please make sure it stays within these walls.」
「Of course. I do not disclose my clients’ personal information. I mean, I’d get royally fucked if I tell a single soul about you.」
A long silence ensued, which was eventually broken by the seer.
「Your ability has been stolen once.」
「…Huh? My skill?」
「Am I wrong?」
「No, it’s just that I don’t remember anything like that happening…」
「Hm. Then you can let it leave through the other ear. Regardless, I know that your ability allows you to become harder to detect.」
Stolen? That can’t be right. The whole thing worries me a little, but just knowing about it is good enough.
「If I arrange for aspiring adventurers to come here once in a while, will you use your ability to determine theirs for them?」
「I won’t do it for free, but…」
「You will certainly be paid.」
「By all means, then.」
「I have left my life as an assassin behind. I apologise if I have intimidated you.」
「I know how many you have killed, but I also know how many you have helped. That knowledge has helped to alleviate my fears.」
「I also apologise for coming empty-handed. The next time I come, I’ll bring alcohol.」
「That would be lovely. Actually, if you’re gonna take the trouble to do that, then bring me some good shit, thanks. If it’s you, my doors are always open.」
She smiled for the first time. Lyla might get along with her, I thought.
「Consider it done」, I replied, setting off once again.