As usual, my ‘job’ was mainly to arrange books. If necessary, I would fill in for the receptionist or assist clients with appraisals. I also headhunted for adventurers under Iris’s orders. Well, it was supposed to be headhunting, but it became more of retracting adventurers’ licences, I guess.
「I’m not sure what we can do」, I heard Milia say.
A trio of adventurers had approached the counter. One was a short-haired, spear-wielding man. Another was dressed like a Shinto priest; the third, that Neil fellow, the former leader. Our eyes met, and Neil nodded slightly in response.
「We need one more…」
Milia stood up and walked up to the bookshelf beside my desk to retrieve the roster of adventurers.
「What’s the matter?」
「We issued a C-rank party quest, but as expected, we don’t have enough people.」
It was a quest to deal with monsters that had been terrorising a nearby village. A party quest was typically on a larger scale than a solo quest; the rewards were thus better as well.
「We still lack one person. The recruitment deadline is today though…everyone’s raring to go. Even though they’ve kindly gathered together…it’s a great shame…」
We had invited every adventurer present that seemed suitable, but all of them had rejected our offer.
「Once the deadline passed, you tried recruiting through another branch, right?」
「Yes, exactly! Wow, Roland-san, to have remembered such nitty-gritty details, you’re amazing!」, Milia grinned, praising me.
「R-Roland-san! N-no, Roland-Aniki! H-how about you c-come w-with us!?」, exclaimed Neil, lowering his head.
Why the hell are you calling me aniki? Aren’t you the senior in terms of age?
「I guess it’s alright if it’s Roland-san, but…I’ve never heard of an employee joining a party quest before…」
「Ms Milia, since when did I say anything about joining?」
「Oh yeah. Yo, branch chief～～～」
「What’s with the shouting?」, said Iris, who had been giving instructions to another staff member.
Milia immediately explained the situation to her.
「Oh, that’s fine. No problem at all.」
Yo, what the hell, man.
「Well, does it look like he can’t go up against monsters?」
「I mean, yes… he can…」
「Exactly. I mean, he did defeat a ‘fearsome beast’.」
That ‘fearsome beast’ was none other than the black cat napping at my feet.
「I think we can trust you. After all, it is you, and it’s not like you have no prior experience. 」
Murmuring arose from the crowd.
「Why does the branch chief trust him so much?」
「Oh, I know why.」
「What did she mean by a ‘fearsome beast’?」
「Oh, probably the grey bear. He defeated it all by himself.」
「Even so, it’s one thing to go solo, and another to fight as a party, isn’t it?」
「Is Roland really that strong?」
「He’s the only person who has ever been directly hired by the branch chief. He apparently used to be a member of the royal cavalry as well.」
All sorts of strange things were being said about me.
「Is it that strange?」, Iris said, smiling. 「Isn’t it boring to arrange books all day? It’s not like we’re short-staffed, anyway.」
「…I do as you say, chief.」
「Yes. Thank you. Then I’ll leave it to you.」
「Hey… branch chief and Roland-san… it’s strange how much you trust each other…」, said Milia, making a pained expression as she watched our little exchange.
And so, I set forth.
The trio from before were waiting for me at the guild entrance.
「Nice to meet you, I’m Roland. I look forward to working with you.」
The spear-wielding man sighed.
「Hmph. So an employee has to come and help us. Well, it’s nice that you could accept the quest, but hey, don’t drag us down, kay?」
「Of course. I will try not to be a burden, to the best of my abilities.」
The Shinto priest glanced at me.
「Wait, just as I thought, you came empty-handed?」
「I require no weapons.」
Picking up weapons here and there. It’s easier to survive if you don’t rely on weapons, you know.
「Coming empty-handed, for god’s sake…」
「As a healer, I simply wish not to use any excess mana.」
What a disappointment, I can imagine what the two of them were thinking. And then —
「Aniki, we’ll be under your care! It’s an honour to be able to go on a quest with you! 」, said Neil, nodding.
「One thing, can you stop calling me aniki?」
「How about Master, then?」
「That’s even worse.」
From their group dynamics, it’s clear that this party was formed just for this quest. One for the front, two for the rear. I took the middle in order to support the vanguard and protect the two behind.
「Let’s head for Lasonne Village.」
Following the formation drafted by the Shinto priest, the four of us left town. We had been tasked to repel or subdue monsters that had recently been appearing near Lasonne. The trio started talking about their previously completed quests.
If I was an SSS-rank adventurer, Spear would be E-rank. Shinto priest? F. Neil should be around E-minus.
Turns out Neil was D-rank. The other two are C rank.
「And you, the main man. What can you do?」
「Well, let’s just say that I can do whatever is required. Rest assured that I will not be a burden to you.」
「If you say so.」
As we approached the village, we noticed the smell of soot in the air.
「Let us make haste」, I said, pressing everyone to hurry.
「As a rule of thumb, since I’m the leader, I’ll be issuing the instructions, thank you very much.」
「What’s wrong, Aniki?」
I don’t know what I expected.
「There’s black smoke rising from the village.」
「Ain’t that just a bonfire?」
The loud, distant roar of a monster could be heard. The trio’s expressions became serious, for we could see a gigantic red monstrosity in the distance. That size and that shape… could it be a red wolf!?
「W-what is that!?」, exclaimed Spear, sounding out what the trio was thinking.
Is it really their first time seeing a red wolf?
「Please calm down.」
I could lead the way and slay it, but that’s not what a ‘normal’ employee does. Additionally, it’s their adventure, not mine. Let’s not step out of our place here.
「The red wolf — a large, lupine mythical creature. It can be distinguished by its red fur, high dexterity and damage capabilities.」
If they would just calm down, even these three would subdue it. It’s strange, though — it should only be found further south. Shinto priest started issuing orders.
「Vanguard, take the lead and attack it! Archers, fire at will!!」
「H-hey, what the hell man! There’s no way we can approach that!」
「Isn’t that the vanguard’s job!?」
…And so they started bickering.
「It… it’s coming toward us!?」
The red wolf let out a huge roar towards the sky, and charged in our direction.
Spear had had his back turned on the enemy. As he clutched his dou-ate [1. TL Note: dou-ate is a piece of leather wrapped around the waist in kendo. There is no English equivalent.] and tried to flee, I stopped him and made him hold his ground in front of me.
「I said, calm down.」
「Quit messing around, I’m gonna get eaten! I’m gonna die!!」
I whacked his head. Bonk.
「At least die like a man, will you?」
「Ready your spear and assume a horse stance. Look straight into its eyes.」
「You’ll be fine. Just do it!」
Spear, almost in tears, did as I said, readying his spear and assuming a horse stance. The red wolf immediately relaxed its pace.
「Good boy. Keep it up. The spearhead is usually pointed at the enemy, you know.」
Looking behind, Shinto priest was dumbfounded, not having the slightest ounce of an idea what to do. While red wolves are known for their speed and power, their hide is soft and will yield easily to a blade. Aware of this, the red wolf naturally became wary of the spear pointing directly at it.
Additionally, if you show it that you’re not fazed by its speed, it becomes much more reluctant to attack. Calculating its next move, the red wolf gradually slowed to a crawl.
「Archer, your move!」
「L-leave it to me!」
The speed of the target and the distance between us. Compared to that killer falcon, this was child’s play.
Neil let loose an arrow, which promptly lodged itself in the red wolf.
Well, it’s fast, but it’s also huge. The closer it is, the easier it is to land a shot.
The second shot went in cleanly, piercing the area above its nose.
With a twist, the red wolf wriggled a little, and collapsed.
「Spear! Go in!」
Spear charged forward, loosening his dou-ate.
「Y-yes! Bella ciao! Uoooooooooooh!!」
Letting loose a war cry, he thrust his spear into the bear-sized red wolf.
All signs of life had left the red wolf. Spear fell on his behind, crying.
「W-we’re saved… if employee-san hadn’t been here, I… I would’ve…」
「It also takes courage not to attack immediately. You did well.」
I patted Spear on the back, consoling him.
「It’s my first time seeing this monster, but it behaved exactly as you said it would… aniki, you’re really good at what you do!」
Didn’t I tell him to stop calling me aniki? Shinto priest, still half-frightened to death, had yet to fully take the situation in.
「From now on, I’ll be issuing the orders. Is that fine with you?」
「B-by a-all means, g-go ahead. Y-yes, please.」