Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama
Work resumed a week after the explosion.
The damage had been repaired, and the entrance and front desk thus looked a little newer. We barely noticed it, though, as we were almost immediately swamped by our usual adventurers coming to report back. In addition, quests had piled up during our hiatus and we were now in a mad rush to clear them.
As if that wasn’t enough to put us on edge, the area chief came for an audit that same day. An unfriendly, bespectacled lady in her late thirties, she oversaw one of the five administrative regions’ guilds — north, south, east, west and central (the royal capital) — and was superior even to Iris.
She skimmed through the documents we had in the office and observed the employees (including myself) going about our daily duties. From the refined way she carried herself about, she could well be of noble descent. Since the guild itself was founded by a nobleman, it goes without saying that the higher up the chain of command you go, the more elites you’ll meet.
「Y-Yes…?」, responded Iris nervously, approaching the area chief slowly while trying to decipher her expression.
「Is it always this chaotic here?」
「No, ma’am. We just resumed work today, so there’s more to be done than usual.」
「Even so, don’t you find things rather sloppy?」
「D-Do you think so, ma’am…?」
「The employees are performing poorly because their boss doesn’t teach them well. Correct me if I’m wrong.」
It was only an allusion, of course, but everyone listening knew that she was berating Iris. In fact, it’s almost as if she wanted everyone to overhear their conversation.
「I find it absurd that a branch like this received a commendation from headquarters.」
I discreetly asked Milia a question, to which she replied:
「The branch that that four-eyed hag works at always receives praise from the Guild Master himself.」
「And this time, it was our guild that received the commendation…」
「Now you get it. It’s interesting, isn’t it?」
Hearing our voices, the area chief wheeled around to stare at us.
「You call yourselves busy, and yet you have time for idle chatter?」
Iris could only apologise and hang her head low in submission.
「Haha, yer spot on, area chi-ief! I was thinking that myself for the longest time! Sloppy? Hah! We’re a goddamn pigsty! Nothing escapes you, eh, chief?」
Typical Morley, sucking up as usual. He’s a living example of the fact that being unwavering in your beliefs can be a bad thing.
Someone tut-tutted out of nowhere. It couldn’t have been an adventurer — it was no doubt one of us, the employees. Whoever it was, he successfully started a cacophony of tut-tutting at Morley.
「How big do you think you are?」, added another employee.
「How ‘bout we go to the drawing room o’er yonder, area chief? It’s much less noisy there! Gimme a minute and I’ll get some tea ready for ya!」
None of us had seen him make such a smug expression in two or three months. He pointed to the drawing room with his index finger.
「What do you think you’re doing?」
「Huh? Just entertainin’ an important guest, innit?」
「You think you have time to make tea, Morley? Look at how busy your colleagues are. Okay, I mean, it is kind of our own fault that we’re busy, but still. Could you lend them a hand instead?」
Looking at the tongue-tied Morley, the branch chief pressed a finger to her temple as if she was trying to alleviate a migraine.
「We don’t need you here, Morley. Go and help at the reception or with the appraisals.」
Shut down by Iris, he slunk back to our side.
「I may be a little late, but the Hero has arrived. …Right?」
Equally taken aback by his unwavering self-importance as I was, nobody responded at all.
「Leave it to me, and I’ll get the job done. So whaddya need me for? Anythin’ will do!」
The unusually heavy workload had already stretched us thin, and the area chief’s backhanded comments weren’t helping either. Morley’s actions became the straw that broke the camel’s back.
We resumed our duties while taking our anger out on the resident blockhead.
「Morley put the kettle on, eh?」
「Can everyone except you read that old four-eyes’s mind?」
「We already have Roland-kun in the heroes’ department!」
「I swear, Morley-san is the black sheep of our branch!」
Personally, I felt that Milia’s statement stung the most.
「…Good luck, then.」
Flashing his pearly whites, Morley made a tactical retreat into the washroom. He looked like he was about to cry.
…Seriously, just what was he trying to achieve?
「See, Iris-san? You’re not being a good role model.」
「Yes, ma’am… it’s as you say…」
Entirely lost for words, the branch chief had never looked more sheepish.
「You open at nine? Fancy sleeping in, do you? Considering how gravely inefficient you are, shouldn’t all of you start work earlier?」
「But, ma’am… even if we open at eight, most of our clientele will still be asleep…」
「Well, the Eris branch — my branch — opens at eight on the dot. In fact, we open and close on different days, if you catch my drift.」
Eris is the largest city in the western administrative region, to which Lahati belongs as well.
「We’re a much smaller town, ma’am. Because of that, our branch isn’t as big either, and we have fewer adventurers…」
「I’ve never seen someone so full of excuses in my life」, retorted the four-eyed hag, refusing to listen to reason. 「It looks like you’ve become complacent just because of that commendation from the Guild Master.」
「No, ma’am, it’s not like that…」
Unlike Morley, I could somehow tell what the area chief was thinking.
Clearly, our guild receiving the commendation had been a bitter pill for her to swallow. On top of that, Iris was now a threat to her own position. For this guild to perform better equals another achievement under our branch chief’s belt.
「You’d better think twice before adopting that attitude with me.」
「I don’t think I said anything wrong –」
「Please shut your mouth. Do you know how many others can replace you!?」, shrieked the bespectacled witch.
Only five area chiefs existed in the entire kingdom. For someone as authoritative as her, switching a branch chief for another posed no difficulty whatsoever.
The guild came to a standstill, becoming silent enough to hear a pin drop. Everyone’s attention was now focused on the banshee that produced that inhuman noise.
「I was wondering how well-run a commended guild would be. And lo and behold, it’s nothing but a mess! Efficiency is low, your employees are slow, and your excuses are far in excess!」
「…Please, do not speak badly of my employees. They’re all trying their best, and they do get things done!」, replied Iris courageously.
You could see her clenched fist trembling.
「Knock your head on the ground and take that back this instant! Do at my behest, and I’ll let this matter rest.」
Raising her chin intimidatingly, the four-eyed hag pointed at the ground. However, Iris simply shook her head.
「I have never thought of my employees as sloppy or inefficient! I will not take back what I said, and neither will I lower my head!」
「Oh, I see how it is. Would you like to start from square one, when all is said and done?」
I sighed loudly, to which Milia immediately tugged on my shirt.
「Don’t do it, Roland-san! Look at her expression. If you say anything now, you’ll be fired along with our chief!」
Ignoring her pleas, I gently shook myself free and approached the two chiefs.
「With all due respect, area chief, Chief Iris is only opposed to your suggestions because our town’s needs are different from yours. Every guild is optimised to function in a way that best suits their town.」
「I believe that there is no logical reason to enforce these methods here.」
「Ready to retire now, aren’t you?」
Iris tugged on my sleeve as Milia had.
「Not you too.」
I’m not particularly fond of people who abuse their authority.
「There are also many others who can replace you, area chief.」
「So that’s what you wanted to say, ordinary employee? Fine! Consider yourself fired, too!」
Murmuring erupted among the onlookers.
「Well, I don’t really mind, but… surely you’re aware of a position known as the ‘advisor of strategy’ in every region?」
「Of course. The Guild Master mentioned that there’s only one person in the entire region who can reliably take up the position –」
I presented the letter of appointment that had come with the reward money.
「Wait… you’re actually –」
Her expression changed entirely when she saw the letter.
「Despite having rejected the Master many times, he was so insistent on it that he even lowered his head to me, and I had no choice but to accept. If I request for him to relieve an area chief of her position, then he can only acquiesce.」
「Hold on for just a minute! Fine! I take it back! I take it all back!」
「We appreciate your cooperation. In that case –」
I pointed at the ground.
「Knock your head on the ground, and I’ll let this matter rest.」
With a bitter look, the four-eyed hag bit her lip.
「The Master and I go way back… I guess you can say that we’ve eaten at the same table before…?」
He had escaped from our master after only a month, although she doesn’t need to know that.
「I wonder what he’ll think of that objectionable behaviour of yours. How does joining us in being a regular employee sound?」
「There’s nothing wrong with the guild, right…?」, she whispered with a contorted groan before making a run for it.
Everyone else present let out a huge sigh of relief, almost as if they had been suffocating the entire time.
「Man, I was prepared for some shit to go down…」
「My heart can’t take this…」
「Yeah, me too.」
「God bless you, Roland!」, said everyone in unison.
Feeling a light tap on my buttocks, I wheeled around to see Iris plopped down on the ground.
「You’re too reckless for your own good.」
「That was very brave of you, chief.」
「No, Roland, that was brave of you. Also, uh… I think I threw out my back…」
Lending her a hand, I helped her onto a chair.
「Thank goodness you weren’t forced to quit.」
「Same to you.」
Someone tapped my shoulder.
「From the side, you can see that our chief is in love!」
「You can tell how badly she wants to flirt with him…」
Regaining her composure, Iris clapped to get everyone’s attention.
「Okay, show’s over. Let’s all get back to work!」
Freshly inspired by the branch chief’s concern for us, we got back into gear and kept our operations running like a well-oiled machine.