When I woke up, I realized that I had slept soundly. Feeling better, I opened the window to see the sun up high in the sky. I overslept…… though I have time since I’m self-employed.
While I was sleeping, Shiro had come in with a simple breakfast and a secret letter from Jemma Co. It seemed that he had been really frustrated over the number of people on the day of the parade as well as the security problems. Besides that, there were some good news. I had already guessed it, but he had come to determine who were under the influence of Gratina. For a while, they had stopped feeding information to the company. At the very least, they had taken a step away from the web of information surrounding Jemma Co. and House Lambert.
That meant that there may have been a request. Jemma Co. was a major retail company in Abram, and often hired adventurers to escort their caravans.
Adventurers weren’t known for their combat prowess in this town, and it wouldn’t be weird if they had been hired by Jemma Co. en masse. Most important of all, it kept the enemy from becoming more powerful.
I scoured the warehouse for the「Eyes」I made for other purposes. There was no reason to ask for a change in compensation methods, so in exchange for cash for all of the work I’d done for Jemma Co. so far, I could send my own request to him instead.
While having breakfast, I got a pen and paper, and wrote the request to Jemma Co.:
I would like you to hire any adventurers in Abram who are free, and have them work on the day of the parade. One of the tasks is to investigate areas in the castle that are least patrolled by guards, as well as empty houses along the route of the parade. I have already obtained information about a few suspicious spots from the Assassination Guild and the Thievery Guild, which I have made a deal with. If it were up to me, I’d have a few assassins in these areas too.
Abram is a steadily growing city, so surely there were people who had settled in nicely…… But in the worst case scenario, there was the possibility of the assassins removing some of them and occupying their houses. Finding such places would be good, and in such cases, there would be high chances of a commotion occurring. Even if the knights were able to deal with it, they were limited in number, and we couldn’t afford to take our chances. Giving such a task to adventurers provided a high chance of eliminating such a risk…… And even if they got killed, the fact that they didn’t make it would alert me to the danger.
Shiro came to check on me in the afternoon. I gave her the secret letter and the relevant tools, and sent her to the shop for my business with Jemma Co.
I set up shop later than usual. There were many customers browsing. Perhaps they had come to town early. If there were already so many browsing customers here, then the main streets must be even busier.
Many of these customers were mere travelers and had never seen magic tools before, but others among them looked like seasoned knights or adventurers from other towns who asked me many questions about the tools in the shop.
While I was handling the customers, Layla entered the shop. She seemed relieved upon seeing my face, but looked downwards as if she couldn’t look me in the eye. Did something happen?
There weren’t that many monsters in the suburbs of Abram, and we had withdrawn the survivors as the parade approached and more travelers visited. Thus it was a lot safer than the previous morning, but she had probably spent most of the day making sure everything was okay. Looking closely at her, she had taken off her armor, but the travel clothes she was wearing was still dusty. Most likely she had just finished reporting and come straight from the capital.
Something had probably happened, but it would be weird for me to ask. I decided to call out to her as usual.
「Ah, you seem to have been busy, Layla. You may have some tea if you like. I’m a little busy, so you’ll have to pour the tea for yourself.」
「But I’m in the way of your business…… Oh, I see. In that case, I shall indulge myself.」
I looked away from the other customers and saw her off while she went to the back of the store, then continued my work. There were a lot of customers, but on the plus side, they bought many small things, so it was over quickly.
I heard a scream coming from the exit of the shop. I went there and saw Layla twisting a man’s arm, as well as some of my goods falling off his sleeves…… A thief?!
「Those are for sale, so you’ll have to pay for them if you want them. You seem like a traveler, but do you really wish to spend your time in jail before the parade?」
「Thanks. I didn’t notice at all.」
「……Well, I still have a duty to guard you.」
Layla spoke quickly as if she was embarrassed. I couldn’t afford to throw him out, so I made a few threats, then tied a leather cord around his wrist and threatened「If you remove this within three days, your wrist may start to rot」before letting him go. He seemed ignorant with regards to magic, so he ran away while crying.
It was purely self-defense, but it seemed that we had attracted the attention of the customers, who started gathering around Layla. She was a female knight who had just gotten into a fight, so it was only natural. I had to say something.
「This is Lady Layla, a knight of House Lambert. We have proudly sponsored some of the armor that she is currently using.」
I introduced Layla while advertising my products. She gave me an extremely troubled look, even though I hadn’t told a single lie. I gave a composed look, ignoring her silent protests.
It seemed that they had understood the flexibility of the gauntlets that Layla was wearing. I sold two of them.
「I have been assigned as a guard for the parade. Right next to Lady Olivia’s carriage, no less…… somehow, it feels like an important task.」
Layla remained here even after I closed up shop, so I made some tea for her. Apparently, during her patrols, she defeated a single orc and a group of skeletons. ……I doubt she took them on all by herself, but she probably took down quite a few of them. Well, it was a good chance to prove her abilities.
「Since you’ll be right next to Olivie, I’m relieved.」
Those were my true feelings. Putting House Lambert aside, there was no reason for Layla herself to cause any harm to Olivia.
「I have never met Lady Olivia personally…… But from what you have told me, she seems like a friendly and intelligent person」
「Well, she was born and raised as a commoner. It’s only natural that she’s more friendly than someone of noble background. I talked to her a little when she was still in the circus, but I doubt she’s changed much. According to the merchants in this town, she’s seen as an intelligent person.」
「I had always assumed that she was a girl of gentle birth…… but she is a good businesswoman. And well…… it may be pathetic coming from me, but it is a lot more reassuring when the person I am supposed to protect is less experienced than I am in combat.」
「She’s a lot stronger than me, but I doubt she could even touch you. And that reminds me, I heard a few rumors that the lady in House Roland is really strong.」
It was okay if we were just talking about rumors, but it would help if I could get some information out of her.
「Oh, that one…… I would not say that I have an amicable relationship with my lord in House Roland, but Lady Nora is not that bad. With a year or two in training, she could possibly be conferred the title of a knight. We have practiced fighting a few times before…… She is lacking when it comes to using a lance on horseback, but she is skilled enough to pose a challenge to me otherwise.」
「Eh? If she poses a challenge to you, then isn’t it enough for her to become a knight?」
Layla has a low self-evaluation, but she should know that her skills are above average. I told her just that, and she gave a slight smile in return.
「Ah, yes. She is skilled enough. What she needs to work on is…… her manners and etiquette.」
「Oh, that’s what you mean……」
It seemed as if she didn’t like to talk bad about the lady in question. I changed the topic and prepared some food, when a customer arrived. Layla was on guard, but I had already expected it. It was part of my plan after all.
「Is this Elliot’s shop? I heard from Jemma Co.」
It was a few adventurers who were surprisingly well-dressed. Jemma Co. had accepted the request and quickly sent them my way…… I imagine.
「Yeah. Are you here for this, perhaps?」
I took out the magic tools I had prepared during the day. It was a small shell that could transmit sound. With something like this, it became possible to mass produce.
「Elliot, if they are from Jemma Co.……」
「Yeah, they’re helping to stay on guard during the parade. We made an exchange too. This is to maintain contact in case anything happens.」
It was a half-truth and a half-lie. I’m the one who hired the adventurers through Jemma Co. Supporting the adventurers with my tools was part of my plan. I explained to them as well as to Layla how to use it.
「House Lambert has such an item as well…… But it was nothing so small.」
「This is more of a disposable item. In terms of price, this is much more expensive.」
That’s right. I could reuse it again and again, but you’d have to infuse it with magic every time. If I were to pass produce it, it would only be because I had turned all the women in the Spider’s Nest into monsters, in order to secure a greater mana supply.
「Still, it doesn’t transmit sound very far. It’s probably fine if they were at a distance where they couldn’t see each other…… but I don’t know how far exactly it’ll reach. Why don’t you guys try it for yourselves?」
Whether in town or on the battlefield, it’s convenient to have a way to spread information quickly. The adventurers understood its value, and quickly tested it out before leaving. But in the first place, a tool like that wasn’t too efficient. That’s because it only transmitted half of the sound, and the other half would go to the spear…… a tool I had set up for this. It applied to the「Eyes」I had sent to Jemma Co. as well.
To be honest, I had no idea if it was going to help. I didn’t think that I would be able to grasp all of the information either. However, it was a lot better than doing nothing. While I was thinking to myself, Layla looked at me with a troubled face.
「What’s wrong, Layla?」
When we’re alone, I can stop calling her “Miss”.
「Elliot, you really are an amazing person. I can’t compare myself to you. If only you could win the favor of my lord, I’m sure he would take a liking to you……」
There was a mix of self-mockery and sadness behind Layla’s words. It wasn’t like her usual self at all. I could tell that there was something she wanted to say, but I didn’t know what it was.
「Oh, it’s nothing. My apologies. You may rest assured for today. I’ll be going home.」
Still maintaining her manners, Layla announced her leave. I was concerned and wondered if I should pursue the matter.
「……If you have any complaints, I’ll listen. You’ve always been taking care of me. If there’s anything I can do to help……」
「No, you’ve done nothing wrong. It’s just that Nunna is worried about me, and I should clean my body.」
She didn’t say anything wrong, but it was obvious that she was hiding something. Maybe it was something that would harm me, but it made me all the more worried about her. I wondered what was bothering her.
「I see. Give my regards to Nunna.」
There wasn’t much I could do. I could have forcefully embraced her, but i didn’t want to ruin our relationship. Plus, I could focus on my work at night if Layla wasn’t here.
Layla opened the door and left. From my point of view, it seemed as if she was crying.