Chapter 39: For Operations to run Smoothly, People with All Sorts of Different Expertise are Needed.
“Ms. Jun, this way please.”
At Dobin’s call, through that clear orb, that stern lady came back, bowing and opening the door for me.
“Hoi, so I’m good to go too, right?”
Ragnall stood up from where he was seated and stretched as he said that.
“Yes yes, we’ll update the reward, so collect it from the front desk.”
Ragnall followed me out the door.
Did they not have any other business with him?
“Were you called in just to be there when I came?”
“Yup. We had to confirm that the person Lor knew was the same person I ran into last night. And, well, those two are like THAT, so… Don’t hold it against them. They were chosen to be Nyl’s GuildMas and Vice-GuildMas because they have good instincts when it comes to finding talented and trustworthy people, but they’re not exactly good at first impressions. Florian gets too nervous in front of women he hasn’t met before, heh. Well, this was easiest 1,500 ecrue I’ve ever made, so I have no complaints on the loss of time babysitting them through a meeting.”
Ah, right. That … guy … *shudder* … called Ragnall a money-grubber. It seems there’s at least SOME truth to that.
Ragnall slaps me on the back, saying,
“Well, if you need any help and I’m around, don’t hesitate to ask.”
“… Will I have to pay you?”
“Hahaha, just asking’s free! Anything beyond that and I might have to charge!”
He really doesn’t seem to mind being known for being hungry for gold. Ma, everyone has their own circumstances, I guess.
“Right … well, thanks for your help today.”
“Yup yup, see ya! Time to raise the income rate for today.”
Oh, instead of heading to the lobby immediately to get his commission reward, like I expected, Ragnall immediately hops over what’s left of the slope from the second floor, down onto the other slope heading down into what I assume is the Labyrinth.
I guess he wants to increase the amount before he goes to get his reward from the front desk. I wonder how you make money in the Labyrinth. It’s so well-established, I can’t imagine that people are commissioned to explore unknown parts of it, but I guess I don’t really know. It’s most likely hunting for materials after all, huh?
Well, that guy’s going into the Labyrinth. I wonder what I will do.
Fumu. Well, put a hilt on the katana, huh? That’s the most obvious. And then buy Labyrinth supplies? Like what kind of supplies?
Socks and pants, oh and gloves. That’s what Juri, the tailor shop’s attendant, said, but what aside from clothes? Armor? Nn… I guess I won’t be able to get a flashlight, but there should be something similar…
Oh, and a damn map. Tch. To think I couldn’t even remember the country names… It’s not like this is Europe or something, with all those countries.
While I’m thinking that, Niera is waving wildly at me from the lobby.
Hey, Niera’s a well-known, and probably experienced, Adventurer. She also seems to have a lot of free time …
“Hii~ Ara? Lor isn’t with you? Ah. He got caught and dragged back to deskwork hell, huh?”
“Ahaha… yeah. Hey Niera, there are some things I need to prepare for, but I don’t know what I need…”
“Fufun, leave it to me! Actually, Jericho gave me today off after he heard that you haven’t entered the Labyrinth yet, so I was expecting to take you around anyway. You need stuff for Labyrinth diving, right?”
“Yeah. Oh yeah, and I’d like to get a map.”
“A map? Oh, of the Labyrinth.”
“Well, that too, but I’d like a world map.”
What was this world’s name again? … Or-Orphelia? No, hang on.
Niera frowns, staring at me, her head tilted to the side.
“While studying an Orelia Map might be useful if you’re planning on traveling later, it’s not necessary right away. Aa, could it be you don’t remember all the stuff Lor told you about?”
“Yeah, it happens to everyone. That’s why I was over there, on the other side of the room, when Lor went into lecture mode.”
“Oh, well, I mean, it was interesting information, and I was paying attention…”
Niera laughed as I tried to defend both myself and Lor.
“Ah, don’t get me wrong, Lor knows a lot of stuff, but what he thinks an Adventurer should know is different from what other people think Adventurers should know. It’s ‘cause he gets commissions for translating, and sometimes he has to do ambassador like stuff, so he has to know where countries are and all the political crap that goes with it. But I mean, isn’t it like, waaay too much information for us commoners to know?”
I guess that makes sense. In the end this is a world where, if you don’t use it, you have no need for it. I guess Niera’s right. Even if I want to remember all that stuff, if I can’t remember the stuff I absolutely need right now, there’s no point in gathering information.
“So here’s Niera’s crash course!”
Ah, as expected, this is where she was going with that. Niera’s giving me a v-sign and striking a pose. So that gesture even exists here, huh?
“Ok, number 1! Life in Orelia revolves around Labyrinths! Because materials for magic tools, medicines, and research stuff comes from Labyrinths! Because of that, there were tons of wars over Labyrinth entrances, but now there’s a truce and those areas are now Unaffiliated territories!”
“So, you mean, these Labyrinth areas are managed by Unaffiliateds because they are neutral to every country?”
“Ooh, that’s a good way to put it! Yeah, and that’s why we don’t have to worry about that political mumbo jumbo.”
Um, there’s still something called noblesse oblige, though, right? Like, doing things that will benefit the world as a whole? Just doing whatever without considering the consequences would be bad, though, right?
“Ahaaan, you’re making a face like ‘we should consider the consequences’ that Lor makes… But you know, if we’re not neutral anymore, the countries will start invading, see? So it’s best just to not worry about that stuff.”
I see. The only reason there’s a truce between all the countries is because Unaffiliateds deal with all the countries equally. Put that way, I guess it makes sense to not care about the origins of a commission.
“Ok, number 2! Though it’s safer to only take commissions from the Guild, there might be times when you want to take a request directly from someone. There’s no rule against that, but in that case, only take ones from people you get to know and trust! It doesn’t matter what country they’re from, because there’s always going to be bad people in good places and good people in bad places.”
That’s true. It’s like, there are always corrupt politicians no matter where you go, but there are also sometimes politicians who really want to make the country better. And even if I take a commission from an Unaffiliated, there’s a chance it may be a bad person. So in the end, I’ll only be able to tell whether or not someone is trustworthy with my own eyes.
“Ah, but if you’re curious, around Nyl City, the other countries we deal with are mostly the dwarves, beastkin, Carnus, and Fernett. It’s Fernett you have to watch out for. They’re notorious for nitpicking and making a fuss over every little thing to avoid having to pay you full price. Maa, if you’re ever in doubt with any sort of request from anyone, just say, ‘I’ll take that if you put it into a commission through the Guild.’ If they refuse, it’s probably a bad request to do anyway.”
Fumu. So to review, Labyrinths are great places to find work, and to avoid getting rolled up in a political mess take jobs from the Guild? I think I can handle remembering that.
“Um, it’s not any time soon, but if I wanted to travel around and see the rest of the world… um. Are there any recommendations?”
Niera pouted her lips and tilted her head.
“Well, I usually travel between Nyl and Tren Labyrinths down south, but that’s a reeally business-like trip. Because of the Elven culture, a lot of Adventurers like to leisurely sight see around Ploids Labyrinth. Well, for Jun, if you want to do business with swords, that one town in Dwarven Territory Lor told you about would be good. I don’t remember exactly where that is, you’ll have to ask Lor. What else …”
“Ah, no, that’s more than enough! I’m not planning on going on a journey any time soon, anyway!”
It would be the elves or dwarves, huh? Well, I’m definitely interested in dwarf swords! But first, I’d like to at least meet Helward before I go. I mean, saying I worked at Helward’s forge without ever seeing the Master Bladesmith himself … it kind of feels like I’m taking him too lightly, right?
Ah, but the elves are … you know, they’re elves! Even though there’ve only been half-elves in Nyl City, after seeing them you get some expectations for the beauty of full-blood elves, you know? And there are probably magic tools different from dwarf swords … if I could put the best of both together … right. I guess I’ll be visiting both places in the future.
While I’ve been thinking all of that to myself, Niera has been fidgeting in front of me all this time.
“Um … Niera? Are you … No, did you need something else from me? You weren’t waiting just to give me your ‘crash course,’ right?”
“Ahaha, you could tell?”
Niera rubs the back of her neck.
“Nn… it’s about those girls at The Queen Mary’s… well, they asked me if I could train them. Because they want to get stronger, see? Ah! Aaaaa, its not that they don’t think you’re strong or something, er, how should I put it? Because Jun-chan, you’re like, way too strong, like, um … you know, the type that normal people won’t be able to imitate? So that’s why they asked me instead?”
Oops, did it show on my face? No, I’m not that upset they didn’t ask me … not … at all… *sulk*
“So … what’s the problem? Ah, do you not have enough time to do that?”
I try to set aside my sulkiness for a bit. From how she’s acting, it seems like Niera wants to, but there’s something she’s worried about. It’s probably not something easy to tell the girls, or Niera would have told them right away. She’s pretty upfront like that.
“Well, there’s that too, but it’s a more fundamental problem. See, I use the pike, right? They want me to teach them to use the spear. Now, if it was something like training soldiers to use a spear on a battlefield it’s not so big of a deal, but teaching how to fight in close-quarter battles is something entirely different, you know? If you haven’t been training in those movements since you were young, that’s …”
Oooooh. I get it. After all, the pike and spear aren’t for slashing or cutting. The most effective part of those weapons is the tip.
That’s a really small percentage of the entire weapon that you have to focus your attacks with. Those weapons are supposed to be for meeting charging attackers, so they were designed to be a long weapon that concentrates everything forward into a stab. To be honest, Niera, who can use those weapons easily in close-quarters-combat, is really amazing. I haven’t seen her use it yet, though.
I imagine you have to be super flexible, with an extremely strong back and strong arms, in order to whip the spear or pike around in time to attack enemies with the point. If you weren’t heavily trained since you were young, you might as well just use the spear as a bostaff and do stick-fighting techniques.
Ah, that’s how I was using it, wasn’t it?
“I see. They’re more likely to get hurt with that kind of weapon.”
“Yeah. I knew you’d get it, Jun-chan. But I don’t want to refuse them. I know how worthless you start feeling when you’re just dragged around at the whims of men. Well, at the whims of strong people of any kind, I guess. If possible, I’d like to teach them something for self-defense, and a pole-arm would honestly be best to help keep enemies from getting too close, but …”
“Fumu … that’s a tall order. A pole-arm that doesn’t require overly excessive movements with a blade, for self-defense …”
Hm? Wait a second. A pole-arm that cuts well, primarily used by women … that does exist! But, well…
“Oh! You’ve thought of something?”
“Yes, but I don’t know if those exist here, and though I have some experience in it I can’t really say I know it well enough to teach it to someone… It’s something like a sword on a pole.”
“Like a glaive? I did consider it…”
“Um… it’s similar, kind of. I can’t say I really know how a glaive is used, but the naginata is used a lot like a sword with an extremely long hilt. In my home country, it was a form of martial arts that was mostly practiced by women, since the leverage reduces the amount of physical strength needed to cut deeply. “
Actually, there’s a lot of history to the reason why the naginata is considered a woman’s weapon in Japan, but I don’t think I’d be able to explain it here.
My experience with naginata-jutsu came from being dragged continuously into the school’s naginata club as a helper for their training a lot back in Japan. I didn’t think a lot of the fact that they kept asking me, a boy, to participate in a female club’s activities, but with my recent revelation that I have a girly face, I’m beginning to wonder if those girls weren’t doing it because they thought it was funny.
… Let’s not dwell on that. I’ll get depressed.
Out of nowhere, Niera’s suddenly grabs my hand.
?! Hang on, what’s with that light in your eyes? That’s the look that a craftsman gets when they’re introduced to something new that interests them, isn’t it? Why do you have that, Niera-san?!
“That weapon, you can make that, right?! I want to see it! What it looks like, and how you use it!”
“Wait, weren’t we supposed to be discussing what weapon you can teach the girls?”
“I’ll help you figure out how to teach it, so show it to me!”
Nonono, that’s not the problem though?! Well, it’s basically a katana on a stick, I can have Ossan teach me how to make the pole part and get some practice in … wait, no, is this really going to be ok?!
It was soon that I was going to learn Niera’s SECOND Famous Name that’s only hinted at with her first; Flickering Pike Niera, the Polearm Genius.
I thought women took a long time with shopping, but apparently Niera’s love of strange pole-arms trumps the fun of shopping. She rushed me through it so I could make it back to the forge before they started closing for today.
2 pairs of gloves
2 pairs of pants
3 pairs of socks
1 pair of bootstrings
An Adventurer’s set of utility magic stones
A kilometer of rope
An oil lantern
Flint and steel
A dummy bag
Cheap cloth for wrapping things in
That’s it. Normally you would have a lot of parcels and bags and stuff, but since I have Storage (not really), I didn’t need as many. She also advised me to get a skinning knife and a hand hatchet, but well, it would be good practice to forge them myself, I think. Also, though Niera has a lot of experience as an Adventurer, if you ask her what kind of edge is best to have on a knife for skinning, or what kind of grip would make things easier, or any sort of technical questions like that, she’ll have a blank look and answer, ‘Well, it should go *slash* and *swoosh* when you stab like this.”
Really, a woman who lives by instinct. At the end, she told me she went through lots of knives before she found one she likes for skinning.
I … will go ask the smiths. They’ll know better.
By the way, I ask about their hurt party member, Miinalya. It seems she’s doing fine now, but is taking some time to rehab her arm. She will be able to rejoin them on commissions soon. That’s good. I was honestly thinking she might be seriously injured for good.
Like that, the excited Niera dragged me along up the road to Helward’s forge.
A/N: Thank you JL for your donation!