Arc 02: Guild and Competition for the cursed sword
Chapter 22: Receiving a residence included an optional contract
Sitting on a chair and looking dazed, Aine-san was staring vacantly into space.
I guess that’s given.
Despite having her memories back, the girl had lost all her rights over the Common Guild after all.
The place we’re at right now was the hideout prepared by Leticia, a storeroom of a curio shop managed by one of her acquaintances.
As for Cecyl and Rita, they went out to buy the necessities for the trip to Irgafar.
In the meantime, Leticia was having a talk with the show owner.
I was told that “Naa-kun” should stay by Aine’s side and wait for her to calm down. However, Aine-san was only limbly sitting on her chair and staring into nothing with blank expression.
“… Thank you very much for saving me, Nagi-san…”
After a while, Aine-san finally opened her mouth.
“Still… I wonder what Aine should do after all this…”
She took a sip of the tea that’s sitting on a table before looking at me. Brewing such tea required a lot of time.
“Restoring the Common Guild would be— ”
“Impossible. I have to abide the Contact after all” — muttered Aine-san in a lonely voice. Said contract required Aine-san to relinquish all her rights over the guild in exchange for the rescue of the members of the Common Guild. Both parts had already been completed, so apparently there was nothing we could do.
“Nagi-san… I am saying this only now, but may I continue calling you Na-kun?”
“Na-kun, Aine feels… strange”
Tilting her head, Aine-san looked at me.
“Losing the Common Guild was supposed to be painful, and yet… I find myself at ease. It’s strange… ”
“Something like that… I think I’ve experienced it myself”
In my case, it was after I stopped working for the black company though. That feeling of liberation and the lack of need to work there from tomorrow onwards was the same, I suppose.
“Ever since my younger brother Naias died, I’d been thinking only of becoming a successor to the guild, a place of memories for me and him, and protecting it. That’s why I have no idea what to do after this, Na-kun”
“How long have you been working at the guild thus far?”
“Somewhere around twenty two hours per day”
“And what about your average sleep time?”
“Sleep time? What’s that? Is it food?”
Wait a minute.
“What is it, Na-kun?”
“Are you saying that you remember things from the time when you lost your memories?”
“Yes. At that time Na-kun was a very spoiled child. Thus he was disqualified from succeeding the position of a guild master…”
“Did you sleep properly during that time?”
“Let me see, you’re talking about ‘closing my eyes to sleep’ right…? Now that I think about it, my consciousness receded from time to time when I worked. It was like everything came to a close. That’s sleep… I suppose”
“Hey, this is a bit…”
The Common Guild that we registered at was a white company. Therefore, what’s this with Aine-san working in such a manner?
“I want to test something. Can you tell me your schedule during a typical day?”
“At 4 a.m. I clean the building and the road before it. Then I organize unfinished documents, and make takeout sweets for everyone in the guild. I eat some instead of breakfast, then I set priorities to the quests received from the townsfolk and put them on a questboard. The adventurers usually gather around past 9 a.m. so I get onto the consulting until lunch. I eat the remaining sweets and deal with claims of the Noble Guild in the afternoon. Then there are also claims from the townsfolk. I also do the orientation for the new adventurers. Once the evening comes we open the bar and I have a talk with its employees. Adventurers tend to start brawls once in awhile, so I usually mediate in such cases. Aine also does the accounting for the guild after it closes. Having doing the calculation of the revenue, I replenish the shortage of the quest rewards of the Noble Guild with the remaining money. It leads to a deficit for the Common Guild, so I write letters to the shopkeepers and ask for their assistance. Then I clean the building until dawn— ”
“Uwaaaa. Stop it, stop it, stop it!”
So Cruel! Hearing that makes my heart ache! What’s with this workaholic. Or rather, it’s a voluntar black labor!
“Are there no other employee to do these jobs?”
“I pay wages to those working in the bar on the first floor. Other than that, the townsfolk volunteer to help us out, you know? Then there is also my uncle the guardian. However, no matter how small the work is, Aine is the only one who can do it. People get angry if the complaints aren’t handled by Aine, so…”
I had no idea. During today’s events, I assumed that the confrontation was between the Noble Guild who was the black company, and the Common Guild who was the white company.
However, the Common Guild turned out to be white only for its guild members, and an ultra-black towards specifically Aine-san.
The guild for ordinary people dubbed the “Common Guild” was supported by the efforts of Aine Crunette. They sustained the lives of adventurers and opposed to giving kickbacks of the Noble Guild by cutting down the expenses and having a single member of their staff handle everything.
No matter how much she held onto the guild, Aine couldn’t save it.
“You would’ve died if you continued this lifestyle, you know?”
“But, uncle said this much was natural for those who aimed to become a splendid guild master…“
“It doesn’t matter what he said, I am saying this is unreasonable”
Even I could only handle working twenty two hours per day for two weeks at best. Moreover, I could see the light of being eventually paid on that job.
“Well, you could’ve still hired more people if only you didn’t pay the kickback to the Noble Guild”
“That could be so, but the main reason the guild was having problem with money is due how uncle was lavishly spending them”
“You should’ve just banished such uncle…”
“He’s the only relative that Aine has though…”
“Despite that, he left Aine-san and run away”
“Thanks to that, I managed to meet a gentle adventurer like Nagi-san”
“And still, I opposed to going into dungeon and went on a different quest”
“However, you didn’t tell me to increase your rewards by twofold like the other adventures did”
“They told you something like that?!”
“They often said that they wanted to have bentos for whole party or that they wanted alcohol to be included. Thanks to Nagi-san, I didn’t have to cut down my own food expenses or kneel before the wine shop owner ”
“You just had to refuse them! Or even better, expulse such people at once!”
No freaking way… So what those thugs at the guard tower said was true after all.
“Still, Aine ended up causing inconvenience to everyone with the “Cursed Sword Quest”” — said Aine as she drank the cooled down tea in her wooden cup.
“A lot of people got hurt. Some even cannot set foot in the town anymore. If it was Aine, she might’ve managed to protect them, but…”
“No need to dwell on it. Tanaka is a cheat character after all”
“Even if that’s the case, Aine was the guild’s next successor”
The hand grasping the cup was visibly trembling.
“If only Aine had power… If only I could stop everyone from getting excited about saying that they would ‘obtain the cursed sword, get even with the Noble Guild, and make it possible to overcharge them by five times for their quests’… then everything would have finished without anyone getting hurt…”
“I believe they just paid for their mistakes”
How deep the other world is.
There was no way to say that the Common Guild was unilaterally the good guys. Should we’ve gone to the dungeon, we might’ve been subjugated like the rest of them. I had to express my gratitude to Aine-san.
“Anyway, the Common Guild was limiting you, Aine-san. I won’t say things will get good without it, but don’t you think it’s fine to take it easy from now on?”
“However, I promised to the uncle, and I promised to Naias to protect the Common Guild…”
“….Aah, no more of this”
I looked around. There was no one here. Cecyl and Rita went outside, and Leticia still didn’t return.
“It’s fine already, ‘Onee-chan’” — I grasped the hands of Aine-san. Her delicate fingers tightly seized mine.
“Onee-chan has fulfilled the promise she made with Naias. She did everything she could. Everything she’s left to do is to live her life for herself”
“That’s exactly so, Aine”
I thought my heart had stopped.
“Y-you were here, Leticia?”
“I was listening in from behind the door”
“That’s a poor hobby, you know that?!”
“You had such a great mood, after all”
Leticia stroked her blue hair while saying this with a diligent face.
“It’s exactly like Nagi-san said, Aine”
“You did things with your utmost best. You’ve used up all of yourself for the sake of the guild. Why don’t you listen to my advice this time? The time has come for you to think about yourself”
“But… I don’t know”
Aine-san held her chest, wrapped in an apron, in her hands.
“Without the Common Guild, Aine became hollow, she has nothing”
“Ah, let’s leave that for later, I forgot about something important”
Disregarding what Aine was saying, Leticia looked at me.
“Nagi-san’s reward comes first. Let’s do the Contract”
“Aine-san was talking about something pretty damn important, wasn’t she? Is that fine?!”
“I won’t be able to calm down unless I do things like that properly after all”
Leticia took our the medallion from under her neck.
“Thank you very much for helping me recovering Aine’s memories. The reward for that will be as follows:
Leticia Milfey cedes the rights over the house located in Irgafar to Souma Nagi. That includes: the house, the furniture, and everything attached to those which is in possession of Leticia.
Once the two of us leave this storehouse after having exchanged the contract, the ownership of everything will be transferred from Leticia to Nagi.
However, it needs to be treated with great care after the transfer. In case if the building or the furniture or what’s attached to those be intentionally damaged or broken, the ownership is to be rendered invalid.
“…. Hm? Weren’t you going to just lend it to me?”
“…I’m doing you a favor”
“A favor? seriously?”
“I don’t really get it, but it’s serious”
Leticia put her arms on the waist and stuck out her chest.
“To be honest, I gave up halfway about defeating the steel gargoyles. I decided that you guys have this much value. I won’t regret handing you something as much of value as a single house”
Aweso-o-ome. So generous. I might even say that Leticia sounds like a real aristocrat.
“However, why did you specify ‘Once the two of us leave this storehouse’?”
“Well, you may say that it signifies ‘the end’”
“The end, huh?”
“Once we’re outside, you will head towards Irgafar with everyone. Let’s just say that it will be a signal that the quest is finished completely”
“… somehow, I feel like I am being cheated”
“I fine with it if you decline though, you know? You’re being rude, and all this despite the fact that I’ve already run out of gratitude”
“Ah, I am sorry”
That was certainly impolite of me. As for Leticia’s proposal… Yeah, I saw nothing strange about it in particular. There was no wording that meant for us getting trapped as well.
She also told me that the house in question was originally the thing she inherited from her mother, which was why she added the condition about treating it with care. That was something I could agree with.
Leticia had kept her promise up until now, I guessed it was fine.
“Got it. Let’s do the Contract”
*Clink* — We knocked our medallions against each other.
Now the contract was completed in all formality.
That’s right. That meant I would come to possess a house… it’s terrific. It’s a wide difference from when I was moving from place to place in my previous world.
I am glad I came to a different world. I even managed to find the family members I could rely on.
Oh well, I have no plans to increase their number anymore.
“The next one is Aine, come here”
“I want to introduce Aine to a workplace.That’s right, how about you become a house manager? ”
“The time is just right. I have a house which I’ve been thinking to cede to another person. However, I am worried about him since he doesn’t seem to have much livelihood in him, so why don’t you help me out and take care of proper stuff like cleaning and whatnot. Look, even if I say that I’m ceding it, it’s my mother’s memento, so I want it to be pretty while it’s used”
Umm, Leticia? Why do you have a smile of “I tricked you”? And Aine-san, why are you listening so attentively and seriously?
“If’s the housework, Aine is proficient with it, no? I wonder, may I ask you to help me take care of the memento left to me by my mother?”
“Still… Aine is…”
“You don’t know what is that you should do, right? If that’s the case, then just do whatever until you find what you wish to do. The you right now that stopped so abruptly is like a water wheel that was made to halt all of sudden while it was moving at high speeds… I’m absolutely sure that that will break you. It’s better for you to do anything even if it may be against your will”
“But you know, I feel somehow fluffy and cannot calm down”
“Then I will just bind you with chains and offer you. Become an accessory to the house, Aine”
Leticia turned her medallion to Aine-san.
“Are you still having some objections?”
“What the hell with this ‘an accessory’ talk”
“Well, it’s a servant… a maid in this particular case”
“No, isn’t it strange to treat your close friend as an servant?”
“If you treat Aine with care, then there is nothing to talk about”
“If I am?”
“Yes, Aine will eventually become a maid serving in the house. Naturally, the one who will become its owner is you”
… I had been tricked. It’s Leticia’s plan right from the beginning. What I received from her was the building, the furniture, and everything that went along with that. If the house had servants, then they would be included in that as well.
“Of course, I will respect Aine’s feelings” — said Leticia while staring in the eyes of her close friend.
“However, I believe it to be necessary to fill up the ‘hollowness’ in the current Aine with something. I am also fine with that something being a becoming the maid of Nagi.”
“…. A maid… I don’t want it”
I could believe I saw a fire of purpose lit up in the eyes of absent-minded Aine.
Thank god. That’s about that, she would naturally be against becoming my servant all of sudden at someone else’s word. That moment was dangerous. As I expected, Aine-san is a straightforward—
“I want to be even more closer to Na-kun… being a slave… sounds good”
— Say, she had no sense at all?!
“…. Are you sure, Aine? Say what you like but this is…”
That’s right, Leticia is trying to stop Aine. She’s going to say that Aine’s desire to become a slave is way too absurd under any circumstances…
“Look, a maid works for the sake of the house. She would feel a distance from Na-kun. Aine wants to be closer than that, to be connected on a deep level, to be an existence that continues to nestle next to Na-kun”
“I suppose you’re right. Oh well, if Aine says so”
So weak! Leticia is we-e-eak!
Leticia is probably overly lenient towards Aine-san.Could it be… that’s the reason she couldn’t stop Aine’s black labor?!
“Don’t you find it strange, Aine-san?! You’ve finally managed to free yourself from heavy labor, and yet why do you wish to becoming a slave?!”
“You see, Aine has nothing else she could offer aside from this”
Aine-san suddenly stood up. Her daze from before was like a lie now, she was moving lively. She sat down on her knees in front of me, and looked up as if she’s praying.
“As an apprentice of a guild master, a proper reward for the hard-working adventurer is in order, right?”
“Don’t be like that, I’ve already received the reward from Leticia”
“Her reward is a different case. This is the reward which Aine’s souls wishes to give away”
“Still, you will be a slave, you’re aware of that?”
“You will become another person’s belonging under the contract”
“I am fine with belonging to Na-kun”
“What’s with this unconditional trust!!”
I couldn’t remember what might’ve made her rely on me this much.
However, as if trying to warn me, Aine said—
“Na-kun asked those slave girls to do an errand earlier, didn’t you?”
“Yeah. I’d asked Leticia to sell Tanaka’s armor for which we got some money, and there were things we needed to buy for the travel ahead”
Then there were also clothes for Cecyl and Rita, some spare clothes, and many other little things. I had no idea what was necessary for such trips, so I just left the task to them.
“Do you know that slaves are usually not entrusted with the whole purse?”
“The ‘orders’ are given through the ring when it’s absolutely necessary, but Na-kun doesn’t do that, right? You haven’t even considered that those girls might cheat you, embezzle the money and run away… you didn’t, did you? You really trust them from the bottom of your heart, right?”
“I-I have given the command to my slaves Cecyl and Rita! I said that I am fine with them spending up to twenty Arusha on afternoon snacks!”
“You didn’t touch the ring, so what you said was enforced”
“Well, you see, don’t you agree that I shouldn’t give an express order when I request them to do an errand for me? I might’ve as well done it myself if I was going to do it this way. That’s impossible to say ‘Please do the shopping, but I have no trust in you’”
“That’s the reason why those girls are smiling when they’re beside you, Na-kun”
Taking my hand, Aine-san smiled. Somehow, her face looked like she had already resolved herself.
“So that’s the reason why Aine wants to become like those girls, isn’t it?”
“Then what about the Common Guild? What about things that Aine-san lost, her assets or money?”
“Aine already understood that the most important thing in the guild was the memories about her family. If I can make a new family, then I am fine with it”
The building’s ownership and its assets were seized by the count. The members of the Common Guild who were either injured or went to different towns were given money through Leticia. The debt they had to her would be one day returned.
“That’s why everything that guild has will be given to those who want it, and everything that Aine has, she wants to give it to Naa-kun”
What should I do? Aine-san is totally set on that idea.
It’s true that I wanted some talented people as my party members. During the battle with Tanaka, Aine used a defense magic so I had no objection with her being a defensive rearguard until Cecyl used her magic. She also was an apprentice of a guild master, so she should be well informed about monsters and events in other towns.
She’s also proficient with cooking. What’s even more, she could flawlessly handle our finances.
Before I noticed, the “Onee-chan” tied her hair in a ponytail and readjusted the apron, thus finishing the preparations of a servant.
The remaining problem was that I believed that was pushing bit by bit in the wrong direction as a person…
“The game is over”
Suddenly, Leticia forced her way through between me and Aine-san.
“I will respect Aine’s wishes”
“No, shouldn’t it be my house by now?”
“It will be once the two of us leave this storehouse as invoked by the Contract”
“So I WAS deceived?!”
“Although Nagi-san is indeed smart, I’ve been thinking about the best way to make Aine happy for the whole previous night without sleep. This is the outcome!”
“Does Na-kun… not want to be… together with Aine?”
Like a lost child, Aine looked up at me.
“Rather than that I don’t want it, how do I say this…”
“Aine will do her best and cook for you, okay? I will also do the laundry… and cleaning… Is it not good?”
“Aine is aware that I am not Na-kun, I am not your younger brother, right?”
Aine-san smiled lightly. It was like a heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders.
“Nagi-san is a cool adventurer ‘Na-kun’ who saved Aine”
Is it really bad though… Is it not good to have Aine by my side?
She should’ve recovered her memories by now, but she still asks me with a voice of a small child.
Aaah, enough already.
…. That reminded me, I’d already received money from Leticia’s selling the Blessed Armor, and we would be living in a house after this. I should be able to manage somehow if the number of my family members increased by one.
I could cook meals more or less, but I still didn’t know about what was delicious in this world.
I had no sense about clothes which Cecyl and Rita could wear… in other words…
“… it’s not bad”
“Okay, got it” — Aine-san turned to Leticia.
The two girls’ voices overlapped. Making a loosening sound, a choker appeared on Aine’s white neck. A contract ring appeared on Leticia’s left hand. It had a black crystal on it.
It will probably move onto my hand once we leave this storehouse.
*Creak* — Someone knocked on a door of the storehouse.
“We’ve returned… Say, the number of slaves has increased yet again?!”
Both Cecyl and Rita looked at Aine’s choker and dropped the luggage.
Cecyl was standing, overcome with surprise, while Rita sniffed something and came near Aine’s face. After she sniffed my scent and then Aine’s scent, she nodded as if in agreement.
“Nagi, let’s go outside for a bit”
While rocking her large chest, Rita takes my arms and turns it to herself.
What’s with this “Come with me” pose.
“Rita, you’re probably misunderstanding”
“What’s there to misunderstand? Doesn’t Aine-san have choker? Doesn’t she have Nagi’s scent on her?”
“Take a good look at my rings. I only have two of them— Cecyl’s and Rita’s rings, right? Aine-san became Leticia’s slave”
“Ah, is that so?”
Rita made a flabbergasted face.
“What’s this, I was so surprised”
“Sorry for surprising you”
“I ended up thinking that Nagi has increased the number of slaves even more. So that’s how it is. Aine-san became Leticia’s slave, didn’t she? Not Nagi’s, right?”
“Yeah, that’s right. Up until we leave this storehouse”
“What? Until you leave this storehouse…. E-e-e-e-e-e-h?!”
Ah, as I feared, I wasn’t able to deceive her.
Her golden hair shook. Once Rita cleared her throat, she drew near me with a smile on her face that was overly tender and scary at the same time.
“Why don’t you explain the circumstances to me in details, dear master?! It’s a problem which concerns our family planning as well, isn’t it?”