Chapter 94 – The Lunatic Who Shares Laughter And The Old Man Who Loathes Emptiness 1

 Translator: Suzuran      Editor: JackOFallTrades

「With this you can buy medicine for your sick sister. I get that the rumors will be nasty, but if you use it now there won’t be any problems.」

「Got it, Fegner. I really owe you one, so I’ll let you off with a fine, that way I don’t lose all the money I put into this resupply.」

「Thank you for your kindness. I’ll be going now.」

This was the seventh time. I’m not doing this as part of the Grond Trading Association, I’m going around and discussing contract cancellations with all of my business contacts personally.

That was one more negotiation down. I hurry through the small talk and head out.

「Out of the seven visits, only three of them allowed for punal fees. That’s pretty harsh.」

If you think about it, it’s strange that any merchant would make a contract so easy to void. In that sense, three of them agreeing to my request is a miracle, but it still isn’t enough.

I used bribes, I appealed to their emotions, I made myself pitiable, and the number of merchants who agreed to cancel their contracts was less than half the number I visited. And it’s not like there are many left who would be willing to hear me out. As for the merchants who I didn’t know particularly well, I would have to deal with the remaining contracts with bribes and threats and good old-fashioned haggling.

No matter how I measure it, the necessary resources exceeds what the Grond Trading Association has in inventory. How can I at least preserve the capital, the horses and wagons?

Ending contracts with punal fees has its own problems, since I still need to get the money from somewhere.

Tallying up my profits and expenditures, the total is deeply in the red, but if I can procure the necessary goods in another town and bring them here, I at least won’t lose my operations in this town.

「Even so, today is a bit hot.」

I wipe the sweat off my brow with my handkerchief. The beams of sunlight, strangely hot for this place, prick at my skin. Combined with the temperature, it’s almost too much for these old bones.

Since it’s near lunchtime, I headed toward a nearby favorite eatery of mine. Even though it was lunchtime, the eatery is nearly empty.

「Ah, Fegner! You here for lunch?」

「Yep, if you’ll have me.」

I exchange a light greeting with the owner and plop down in my usual spot. At this rate, it might as well be reserved for me.

「Now, what do I want to have?」

「Might I recommend our daily special, grilled fish?」

「Grilled fish, you say? That does sound good, I’ll take one.」

「Alright, one grilled fish coming right up」

After a while, the smell of fish frying wafts over me, and the owner brings me my fish with a side of rice. Back in the empire, bread was the staple food and rice was unusual, but I’ve taken a liking to it since coming here.

「It’s just as tasty as I thought it would be.」

「I know right. For some reason, the rest of my customers hated it.」

The owner then plopped down on the seat across from mine.

「Hey, isn’t it a bad idea for the chef to eat with a customer?」

「It’s fine, and I haven’t eaten yet. You’re the last of the regulars and it’s not like anyone new is coming.」

「That’s not the problem I… nevermind, let’s talk about something else.」

I could have given him more warnings, but he definitely wasn’t going to pick up on them either, so I gave up.

「By the way, Fegner, there’s been a nasty rumor going around about that company of yours.」

「A rumor?」

「Yeah, they’ve been saying that money has been disappearing from businesses that deal with the Grond Trading Association. The rumor has spread so far I’ve been hearing it even all the way out here. Of course, I don’t believe an ounce of it, but are you doing ok?」

This is insane. The information isn’t just spreading among merchants, but even among the general populace. That’s not a good sign. Even more than before, I have to deal with this quickly.

「The rumor is just baseless gossip, but because everyone’s acting like it’s true, they’re really pushing me.」

「Look, Fegner, I know you think you owe it to the previous head of the association, but haven’t you already done enough for them? I really think you should retire, find a hobby.」

「It’s not often I get to hear one of your jokes.」

「Idiot, I’m being serious.」

I reply without hesitation.

「I’m not going to. More than that, I can’t. I’ve long since established that this is my life. If I change that now, it feels like everything I’ve done up to this point will become pointless, and that’s scarier than any rumor」

「Damn it, Fegner! You’re still exactly the same as when I met you. Even though you could do anything you’re so reticent you never change.」

「I’ll take that as a compliment, and…」

Maybe the first to be deceived was me.


「No, it’s nothing. Besides, I can’t retire until I’ve trained my successor. And it’s usually a lifetime appointment, even with all the mistakes I’ve made.」

I don’t have any proof, but I’m absolutely certain that the my current troubles stem from that time. There are many things I can’t help but think about, but I feel that if I can expose the puppetmaster my theory will be confirmed.

「Bye. See you again.」

I curse my foolishness as I stand. I may be old and frail, but that’s no excuse to be deceived so easily.

If it means making up for my mistakes, I have to work. After everything is calm, then I can decide my future path.

I put on my hat, pay the bill, and leave the store.

It’s been now three days since I started, and things have only gotten worse.

「I’m sorry, but you should head home. No matter how deep you bow, I’m not going to make a deal with your association.」

「I apologize for the impudent request.」

「Where are you going, Fegner? Isn’t your home that way?」

Surrounded by hostile eyes, I put that company behind me.

「This one didn’t work out either.」

As if mirroring me, the town gradually becomes darker and less lively as night approaches.

Argh, I’m turning into a pessimist. The lack of activity is because all the adventurers are off keeping the monsters away from the roads. It has nothing to do with me.

The thought cheered me up more than I would have expected, but the fact that I hadn’t had a single success today fills my heart back up with impatience and darkness.

Furthermore, in the three days I spent meeting with people, almost all of the groups formerly associated with the Grond Trading Association have distanced themselves.

Negotiations are still going poorly, so it’s very important to go to another town to resupply.

「I’m too old for this.」

In between rounds of negotiations, I search for the puppetmaster and why Nonorik was hiding his appearance, but I haven’t found any clue as to where he is yet.

If I could just draw out the puppetmaster and prove how they’re making the money disappear…

My thoughts were interrupted by a sudden squeaking sound.

「A mouse?」

It seems like a mouse is snuggling against my foot. It wasn’t a normal mouse, but rather one of the varieties classified as monsters. It’s no different in terms of ability or appearance, but it’s definitely a monster. For one to snuggle with a human is unheard of.

「What’s this? A letter?」

On the mouse’s back is a folded up black piece of paper with his name and location written on it in silver letters.

「Wait at the ruins to the west of town until night alone. Tell no one. What isit this?」

Through some unknown means, the letters began to disappear as if evaporating and the paper became a plain white.

The ruins to the west of town? Those are only a bit off the road to the neighboring town, in the woods.

They were ruins in name only. What had once been ruins was now just a disorganized pile of debris

「It’s been a while since I’ve faced such a gamble.」

I take a couple of deep breaths before starting my cost-benefit analysis in the quiet.

At the moment, this might be just the thing to turn things around. There’s no way I would pass up such a chance, even if it’s an incredibly transparent trap.

I put away the piece of paper and start walking to the place that was written.

I travel down the road for a bit before going off on a side path to the meeting location. By the time I get there, it’s already late into the night.

The dim moonlight illuminates the gloomy place, revealing three figures leaning on the rubble.

「You guys are the ones who called me here, right?」

「That’s right.」

The man standing in the center answered my question. His voice sounded inhuman.

On either side of him stood a familiar girl. I probably saw them in town at some point.

「My my, it’s a small world, isn’t it.」

This isn’t exactly how I thought things would play out. The hatred in the air is palpable.

Whether it was senility or froma being away from battle for too long, I had rejected the possibility of outright hostility when I was considering the letter.

This is no time for pleasantries.

「What a nice night. Normally I’d invite you for a drink, but I’m a bit busy right now, so let’s cut to the chase. You’re the ones who are framing the Grond Trading Association.」


There was no response to my words. He just gave a crooked smile.

「Would you mind telling my why and how you’re doing this?」

「The how is what you care more about, so I won’t tell you. As for the why, it’s because I want to see the look on Grond’s face, no, all of your faces, as you fall into the depths of despair. Each and every one of you, no exceptions. That’s the only reason I’m doing this.」

Now that was I answer I expected. It was also quite a bit darker and eviler than I expected. His response had shocked me for a moment, but I didn’t let it show.

「Hmm, well, I guess you wouldn’t give up your tricks so easily. Would you at least tell me how you forged that letter?」

「You mean the letter about the money counterfeiting? That’s easy enough, it was a forgery.」

I was coming to really dislike this laughing guy whose name I still didn’t know.

「That was the start of everything, that letter, magical storm and counterfeiting. The storm was also the suspected reason why the dungeon core was destroyed. You’re a knowledgeable guy.」

「Why thank you. I’ve lived an interesting life.」

He brags, not even bothering to deny my accusations. Now is when I can get the proof for the possibility I thought of.

「That ink you use is made from ground-up dungeon cores, and the contents of your writing include a secret code known to no one besides my family. How exactly did you get the ink and the code?」

「That information is, of course, secret. But you probably have some idea already…」

He just stands there grinning, and I have to push down my emotions before responding.

「I might. But why did you bother calling me here?」

「I already told you what I was doing, didn’t I? My actions are to hurt Grond in every way possible.」

The man whose name I didn’t know kept smiling, now with a manic edge to it.

「That’s why you’re going to die here.」

His proud voice was now a mixture of clownish insanity and demonic anger.

「As if. Don’t get cocky, kid.」

Keeping my thoughts calm, I let my anger flood through my body.

「I’ve already asked everything I want to know. Everything else I can learn once you’re all dead. Are you ready?」

I’ve got goosebumps. If these puppetmasters are the ones who took out Nonorik, they might be strong enough to face me.

It’s one versus three. So what? That doesn’t necessarily mean they have the advantage.

I shake out my arms and draw two short swords, each about a cubit in length, from pouches in my clothes. I do a few practice swings and adjust the grip of my left hand.

「Come at me, you punks, and I’ll kill you.」

「Ha! That’s some nice bloodlust. Even if you’ve declined, I can see why you were known as the bloodstained battle-demon.」

「That name hasn’t been used in ages, and it has the worst connotations.」

「What of it. You think you’re good enough to kill us without getting dirty?」

In that moment, an earsplittingly shrill metal screeching filled the air.

「Ahahahaha! Amazing, just amazing. Are you really attacking me, Nono? Did you think I couldn’t react quickly enough?」

「You have the worst timing, Nonorik. Right now, you’re a distraction.」

Nonorik’s white sword stood still, blocked by its opposite, the bloody black sword held by the guy. The two swords let out a loud shriek as they grind together, one held by a madman and the other by an avenger. Both let out a battlecry into the calm air.

One Comment

  1. Thank you for chapter ???

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