Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama
With the understanding that I would cover her expenses, Orlando drank like there was no tomorrow even though nightfall was still hours away. I did not know whether she did this all the time, or simply as a coping mechanism just this once. Once she had her fill, she became limp and looked like she was about to fall out of her chair.
I lent her my arm for support.
「You might have drunk a little too much.」
The elf turned her beet red face towards me.
「Your looks… make me nervous…」, she whispered.
I paid for our meal and returned to Orlando. I lent her my arm again, but she shook her head and gingerly stood up on her own.
「The hand of a handsome man like you… will make me pregnant. I just know it.」
「I’m not handsome, so you’ll probably be alright.」
It’s not like she’ll get pregnant either way, though.
My words fell on deaf ears, and the elf shuffled out of the restaurant. I watched her in case she needed support, and as I had expected, she collapsed under the weight of her sword and kissed the pavement after a few steps.
I lent her my shoulder — to no resistance this time — and managed to deduce her place of residence from her slurred speech. When we arrived, I laid her on her bed and told her that I would be back the following morning, though I doubted that she would be able to recall anything.
The higher they climb, the more haughty and arrogant adventurers tend to become. Orlando, however, was an exception. She seemed like the type to never complain come what may, preferring to keep her opinions to herself instead.
And that’s why Iris went out of her way to do her a favour, I thought.
But it also allowed her to be exploited.
Knowing that I had a few hours before sunset, I returned to the guild and looked for the employees’ entrance. There was a male employee standing there. I performed a light karate chop on his neck, causing him to black out. Dragging the unconscious employee to a place where he would not be spotted easily, I exchanged clothes with him.
「I’ll return your clothes in no time」, I said before heading inside.
The first thing I noticed was that the Imir branch employed a large number of staff — at least a hundred at a quick glance. It meant that an unfamiliar face or two wouldn’t raise any alarms. I figured that if the guild was behind the reduced commission issue, something about it might be written on the quest slips.
As all guilds performed the same services, I found the storage area for their documents immediately. I leafed through the quest slips, looking for the quests that Orlando had completed.
The employee looked at me suspiciously.
「One of the slips for a quest issued on the first floor was mixed with these by mistake」, I lied.
「Oh, yeah. Need a hand?」
I rejected his offer. Mixing up quest slips seems like a common mistake around here, I thought.
「Remember that C-ranked quests and above are issued on the second floor, okay?」
I politely acknowledged his advice, and the employee left.
After finding all of the quests that Orlando had completed over the past few months, I noticed that all of them were B-ranked and above. The commissions written on their quest slips were perfectly normal.
Then, I turned one over. There was exactly one word overleaf — ‘elf’.
Feeling a sneaking suspicion creeping onto me, I looked behind the rest of the quest slips and found words like ‘demi-human’, ‘dwarf’, among others — all except for ‘human’.
The Lahati branch doesn’t do stuff like this, I thought.
「Hey now, you’ve got to be kidding me!」
「I’m sorry, sir… but you missed the cutoff time by a large margin. We have no choice but to cut your rewards…」
I trained my ears towards the reception. It appeared that another adventurer had received the same injustice as Orlando.
「I’m not coming here again!」
The adventurer, who was a dwarf, turned around and stomped out.
One of the biggest differences between the branch at the royal capital and this branch was that the latter received almost no non-human clientele. The larger the city, the more diverse its population — for that reason, non-humans were a rare sight in Imir, even though its size was second only to the capital.
「Sorry, could you do me a favour and file this quest slip for me?」
The employee that had served the dwarf was none other than the one who had rendered his assistance to me earlier. I acquiesced and filed the quest slip away.
「He’s not happy, is he」, I said.
「Man, it’s not like we can do anything about it. It’s the chief’s instructions.」
The chief’s instructions? Before filing the quest slip, I had noticed the word ‘dwarf’ written overleaf. Cutting an adventurer’s commission is, for obvious reasons, heavily frowned upon. I could imagine why non-human species were being discriminated against — it had been mainstream before the war, and the undercurrents of discrimination remained in society today.
I knocked on the branch chief’s office with a few quest slips in hand.
「Do you have a moment to spare, chief?」
「It’s about the quest commissions.」
I was permitted to enter. The chief, a rotund middle-aged man, looked at me with a raised eyebrow.
「Never seen you before.」
「I’ve only been here for a few days.」
He accepted my explanation. Most of the employees are probably unfamiliar to him, I thought.
「Elves, dwarves, demi-humans… it’s acceptable to cut their pay now, is it?」
「I never said that — that sounds like a travesty! Muhaha.」
Barely able to stifle his laughter, the chief stroked his saggy chin.
「I just told everyone to ‘do their best’! If they’re not happy about it, they can just find another branch to work at. It’s their job to give quests to those sub-humans.」
‘Sub-humans’… that term alone was enough to make one the enemy of all non-human species. It was a term that had been thrown around all the time before the war.
「Isn’t it a win for both the guild and the adventurers if the commissions are correctly assigned?」
「Why treat the sub-humans like real humans? Try it yourself, and see how much of their commissions you can shave off. You can have a bonus if you do well!」
Muhaha, he guffawed again, causing his double chin to wobble around.
「I’ll let the Master know about this.」
「The Master? Heh, that’s a good one. Social justice warriors like you show up from time to time, but their lofty ideals crumble to nothing when they realise who controls their salary. While grovelling before me, too.」
A rotten branch chief like him was only here because of an incompetent buffoon like Lord Moisander, I thought.
「Go ahead, I don’t care.」
「With your permission.」
「I mean, who do you think the Master will believe — a single employee, or the chief of the Imir branch?」
「Do you remember the large-scale quest where a guild was established in the Principality of Vadenhaag?」
「Who do you think the Master will believe — the employee that oversaw the entire initiative, or a racist?」
His smile faded away as my words sank in.
「I apologise for the intrusion. I will take my leave.」
I bowed and turned around, then heard loud, clumsy noises as the chief hurriedly climbed over his desk and sofa to reach me.
「Okay, wait, wait, wait, wait — hold on a sec. Sit down. Just what do you want? I can write a letter of recommendation, no problem. A letter from the branch chief! A good word from me is all it takes to propel you wherever you want to go! That’s fine, right?」
「I’m not from this branch, so I don’t think that’s feasible.」
「I have conclusive evidence that you have let your discriminatory beliefs influence your work, and I will have to let the higher-ups know of this.」
Shaking off the hand he had on my shoulder, I left the office.
「Wait. Waaaaaaaaaaait –! What’s gonna happen to me!?」
I activated my skill.
Making sure that he had lost sight of me, I leapt out of the nearest window.
「He’s gone!? A ghost…!?」
「Okay, it must have been a dream. Phew!」
Exchanging clothes once again with the still-unconscious employee, I checked that the quest slips were still with me and blinked to the royal capital. I located Ta’uro and told him all he needed to know.
I’ll leave the rest to you, I said, heading off again.