Chapter 175: The one-armed lecturer, part 5


Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama


It took two days for the Seraphin I knew to resurface. During that time, I wrapped up the final lecture, leaving nothing on my schedule except returning to Lahati. Almeria and I were together. The princess was pouring tea when Seraphin walked into the spare room.

「I’m done, Roland-san!」

「Sera… you’re not reeking of alcohol…!?」

「Saying that to a lady is disrespectful, you know?」, chuckled Seraphin.

「Just what did you do to her, Roland? I thought she would be haunting the wine cellar for the rest of her days!」

「Exactly what I’ve done to you before.」

「Me? Y-you mean… a k-kiss!?」

「Huh?」

The princess and I were seated around a small table.

「You’re as lustful as always, Almeria-san」, said Seraphin as she walked over. 「Love is always the first thing on your mind.」

Her complexion was looking better now. Since I had made her drink more than three times her weight in water, all the alcohol should have been driven out of her system. After a bit of small talk, Seraphin and I bade farewell to Almeria and left.

As we walked, I wondered if Seraphin was still suspicious of my relationship with the Demon King. She had been drunk back then — even so, Lyla now took special care not to raise further suspicion by tailing us from a distance. Knowing how sharp Seraphin was, I decided not to ask her about it in case it backfired.

「Where are we going?」

「To meet Ta’uro.」

「Ta’uro, like the adventurer?」

「He’s now the chairman of the adventurers’ association… the Guild Master, if you will.」

「Huh. I see」, she replied blankly.

When I spoke to Ta’uro about it, he had told me that he had assumed the role right after the war ended.

「He needs your support, Seraphin.」

「Uhh… support?」

I explained the rocky relationship between Ta’uro and the association’s upper management en route to guild headquarters.

「Okay. But on top of that…」

「Yes?」

「Aren’t you an ordinary employee? Does Ta’uro-san have nobody else but someone on the lower rungs of the ladder like you to rely on?」

Well said, Seraphin. I couldn’t agree more.

「He worked his way up as an adventurer himself, so he’s not too concerned about the hierarchy and all that. If he gets ousted from his current position, the nobles will have free rein over the guild. Their corruption and duplicity will be unchecked. You know what will happen then, right?」

「Clients will be left unsatisfied, and the number of requests will nosedive…」

「Yeah. Dissident employees will be forced to resign, leaving nothing but bootlickers in the ranks.」

Seraphin cocked her head to one side.

「Aren’t you good at bootlicking, though?」

「I may be good at it, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it.」

That’s fair, she said with a nod.

「And so the wheel spun and landed on an idle, unmarried priest like me.」

「It is what it is.」

「It’s really typical of you to ignore any self-deprecation.」

I’ve been praised countless times in my life, I thought. But that’s a first.


We headed directly for Ta’uro’s room upon arriving at headquarters.

「Am I really qualified to do this?」

「Almost certainly.」

「If you say so, Roland-san.」

She smiled.

「Come in」, came Ta’uro’s voice when we knocked on the door. We entered to find the Guild Master peering at some documents with a frown.

「That’s an unusual expression you’re making」, I commented. 「What’s wrong?」

「If only I could help it」, he replied. 「There’s an upcoming stakeholder meeting…」

Looking up, he noticed Seraphin next to me.

「Good afternoon, Ta’uro-san.」

「What’s the Patron Priestess doing here?」

I felt just a touch of nostalgia hearing the title that hadn’t been used since the war. We sat down on the sofa placed next to a low table.

「Given my status as a lowly employee, I’m in no position to negotiate with the nobles to any degree of effectiveness. But I think Seraphin here is fit for the job.」

「Ooooh, that’s heartening to hear.」

Placing the documents on his desk, the Guild Master got up and sat on the opposite sofa.

「She has exceptional abilities, and her mind is sharp.」

「That’s too much praise…!」

「For you to compliment someone like that, Roland…」

「Does that mean you want to marry me, Roland-san?」

I suddenly noticed the ‘Shadow’ that was peering in through the window.

「I would be glad if you could stop equating praise and a marriage proposal, Seraphin.」

Ta’uro glanced at the High Priest briefly, then looked away. As I had been a member of the Heroes’ Party myself, I hadn’t thought much about the girls’ looks back then. But all of them had objectively been otherworldly beauties, with the popularity to match. No comment about Rina, of course, for age-related reasons.

I could thus understand Ta’uro’s reaction, though I found Milia and Iris comparable to Seraphin.

「Shall we use that meeting to test the water?」

「Sure」, agreed Ta’uro. 「It’s about to start, though. We can do it the next time if you want.」

I looked at Seraphin, who gave me a smile.

「If you provide the relevant documents, I should be able to get an idea」, she said. 「I also need to know what Ta’uro-san wishes to achieve.」

「Great.」

Ta’uro spread the documents on the table and told her what she needed to know. He made a few predictions including what his enemies would say in order to find a way to counter their advances.

The main theme of the meeting was how the Vadenhaag guild quest had gone way over budget. I had my own rebuttals in mind, but once again, my position was too miniscule to do anything. I could even make things worse, so I found it better to stay out of the meeting altogether, planting only a ‘Shadow’ to watch what Seraphin would do.

When it was time, an employee came to call for Ta’uro. With his documents in hand, he left with Seraphin. I sent my ‘Shadow’ after them, making sure that it found a hiding spot in the meeting room undetected. Syncing its visual and auditory input with myself, I watched as the staff that were also nobles entered. Everyone sat down, leaving an empty seat which Seraphin took. The mediatory employee present looked at her in surprise.

「I believe you know Seraphin Mariade」, said Ta’uro. 「She’s here to lend me a hand today.」

She nodded a little upon being introduced. The nobles seated opposite made no effort to hide their disdain.

「Master-dono… you seem unable to function without relying on the Heroes’ Party.」

Ta’uro simply smiled in the face of their heckling.

「You are correct」, he replied. 「I understand that I, an uneducated adventurer, have created considerable trouble by being among you. From now on, though, I assure you that things will change for the better.」

I’m terrible at holding conversations with veiled intent. From the plastered-on smile unusual of his character, I could tell that Ta’uro had been suffering under the nobles’ pressure all this time.

They soon got to the point of the meeting.

「The Vadenhaag guild is up and running… that’s wonderful. But how much of the expenditure do you plan to recover…?」

The entire project had been Queen Leyte’s idea, but the documents clearly stated that most of the expenditure had been on our side. Granted — Vadenhaag had not been able to cough up the funds on their end. But the nobles still had a valid point.

「Please have a look at these documents I’ve prepared」, said Ta’uro, passing them around. 「In the long run, the expenditure is likely to be recovered. However, it depends on whether we can forge strong ties with Vadenhaag as they see their post-war restoration to the end –」

One of the nobles sighed in an exaggerated manner, looking around contemptuously.

「The expenditure is the crux of the problem. I find talk of bilateral relations to be wholly irrelevant.」

Ta’uro, not expecting such a rebuttal, flinched without thinking. His weakness had always been that he wore his feelings on his face, I thought.

「Irrelevant? I implore all of you to take a look at the documents」, said Seraphin, coming to his rescue. 「The guild was established out of necessity. It offers more flexibility than relying on lords or our kingdom’s cavalry. When we are short of resources — both human and material — adventurers are the next most precious resource that we have.」

「And where did ours go?」

「Successful post-war restoration requires a massive amount of resources. Where do you think Vadenhaag is getting theirs?」

Excellent. Exactly what I wanted to say.

「…」

The nobles fell silent.

「They are imported from the kingdom of Ferland」, she continued.

Merchants travelled here to purchase various supplies, allowing us to make a profit.

「We can thus steer the focus away from the nitty-gritty details of expenditure recovery.」

She was really getting into the rhythm now, layering statements on top of each other with precise timing.

「The transporting and protecting of goods frequently appear as quests at the guild」, said Seraphin, turning to Ta’uro. 「Right?」

「Ah. Yeah, that’s correct」, replied the Guild Master hurriedly.

「Due to the increase in quests, the guild has become busier as of late. More quests lead to more benefits — the link is plain for all to see.」

Looking at the speechless nobles with a cheeky smile, Seraphin seemed like she was about to burst into laughter.

「Please try to see the forest, and not only the trees… fufu.」

That was the final blow. The meeting went swimmingly after that. Once it ended, I despawned my ‘Shadow’ and waited for Seraphin and Ta’uro to return.

「That went surprisingly well, Roland!」

「If you were just a little smarter, you could’ve done all of it yourself.」

「Were you eavesdropping!?」

「With the help of some magic, yes.」

Expecting him to do everything skillfully might be too harsh, I thought.

Seraphin had returned to my side.

「Asking for your help was the right choice」, I said to her.

「Was it?」

「Yeah. What I say can offend people. But when you do it, you can shut them up. Folks like that will only listen to people with some sort of social standing.」

「You mean… “what’s important is not what is said, but who says it”?」

「Hm? That’s correct.」

「It’s what you taught me. “It sometimes takes a bluff to win others over”.」

I had no recollection of that at all.

「“Most are too preoccupied with the trees to see the entire forest. Deflect the nitpicking and bring in the big picture — that is enough to confuse the other party”. I remember every word, Roland-san.」

「Did I really say that?」

「You did. You drilled everything there was to know about person-to-person dealings into me」, she replied. 「Because you didn’t feel up to the task.」

「I see.」

Her explanation failed to trigger any concrete memories, but I felt like I had indeed done something like that in the past.

「Almeria carries our kingdom on her shoulders, while Elvi is royalty in a neighbouring kingdom. Rina’s too young. I think it was good to be a neutral priest in the middle of it all.」

「Huh… so Roland’s work has borne fruit」, observed the Master.

「Exactly, Ta’uro-san」, beamed Seraphin.

Given her ties with Almeria and the rest of the royal family, she would definitely be an effective mediator for Ta’uro.



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