047 Scarlets' Research 1 p.4

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The first thing that came to mind towards his questioning was a sigh. It was a sigh, as if to say, “This can't be helped,“ as if Gerald was an inattentive child or a student who had difficulties comprehending.

“Rescuing the prospectors was a matter of great concern to our territory. After all, we are trying to boost our fledgling mining industry? It's human nature to want to rescue the prospectors who might have found new veins of ore. If the group was made up of primarily C-ranked adventurers, then it wouldn’t cause too big a dent on the finances too.”

“Finances, huh...”

Gotsch repeated sarcastically. He glanced at Gerald momentarily and gave a small nod.

“Even though you have money to build new housing in the town?”

The lord, Tullius, was expanding and improving the town to prepare for an influx of adventurers who were coming to deal with the dungeon. But wasn't it strange? It would be easier to hire high-ranking adventurers to investigate the dungeon and kill the monsters without such a huge undertaking. This way, the problem could be solved in a shorter time and expenses could be reduced too.

That was the point Gerald was trying to make.

Tullius appeared unconcerned. He was still giving a bitter smile as though he was the wise gazing at the foolish.

His vassals, on the other hand, did not seem to feel the same.

“You may call this a difference in viewpoints.”

Victor interrupted, his beautiful face distorted in annoyance.

“It is the duty of the nobility to enrich their lands, and one way of doing so is to expand their towns and attract adventurers. Through this, the population can gain new jobs, and some merchants can start new ventures.”

What's wrong with that? That was the meaning he was trying to convey with his long-windedness.

Tullius did not try to interrupt Victor. He recognised that he was speaking up for him as his subordinate. In other words, that was the intentions of the lord.

“You might’ve forgotten something...”

Gotsch raised his hand and spoke. He seemed to be taking it easy but the glint in eyes said otherwise. He had a tendency to ease himself when he was on the verge of getting emotional by telling jokes and speaking lightly. His friends, who had known him for a long time, were well aware of this.

“Um, you know, when you make a town bigger. The number of people will increase. There's a dangerous dungeon right next to it, you know? If the town is attacked by a monster that escaped from the Trees of Darkness, wouldn't that be a big deal?”

He was afraid that the monsters would harm the innocent.

The reaction from the nobles present, however, was that of indifference.

“And that's why we're calling for adventurers, isn't it? They’re already deployed in the Trees of Darkness to wipe out the monsters.”

“Yes. That is the reason why no major issues have occurred as of today.”

Victor did not try to conceal his exasperation in reply to Gotsch, while Tullius affirmed Victor’s reply.

The extermination of the monsters near the entrance to the Trees of Darkness was going well. They believed there were no problems — was what they were seriously proposing.

“But what is happening on the ground? I heard that there were some adventurers arbitrarily occupying the hunting grounds, negatively affecting the income and training of other adventurers!?”

Cedric lost his nerve and questioned Tullius and others. Ninon, who had failed to stop them, looked upwards to the sky.

Yes, there was in fact such a problem. This was a problem that affected all the adventurers based in Marlan. That's why the Guardian of Balance tried to break the impasse but was destroyed in the process.

And yet...

“Shouldn't that be resolved between the guilds and the parties involved?”

“Yes. After all, adventurers don't like to be constrained by those unrelated to them, don’t they? If adventurers want to maintain their own independence, then they must deal with their own problems. That's what adventurer guilds are for too.”

Victor’s reply was that of nonchalance.

The nobles don't understand the crux of the matter. They seem to think that so long as they don't provoke the monsters lurking deep in the forest and cull the monsters in the exterior, they would be fine, but they were wrong. The Scarlet Shield, which has made a name for itself in the west, felt that it was too naive of the nobles to think that way.

A monster was, in essence, an adversary to the living. Monsters were hostile to all life that lived in the world of light. That's why they frequently leave the dungeons they reside in and attack human settlements, spreading fear and chaos. There was no way monsters would stay quiet in the depths of the Trees of Darkness for so long. One day, they were bound to leave the forest and attack people.

That was the case with all the monsters that had crossed the desert and attacked the west region. No matter how plentiful food was in their habitat, they would abandon it all to attack humans. They were not animals bound by the usual rules of ecosystems or food chains. In the end, monsters were anomalies of the world.

Tullius and the foolish adventurers occupying the hunting grounds lacked understanding towards this. There was no telling when a strong monster would genuinely launch an attack on a human settlement. So it was unthinkable that selfish behaviour was running rampant, causing the quality of adventurers to decline. To have conducted themselves like that without any concerns, the middle-ranking adventurers in question must have gotten too comfortable and thought of monsters as nothing more than prey to be hunted. In the west, which was constantly in peril, if there were people who would do such a thing, Gerald and his team would immediately slain them.

“...Don't be too serious.”

Gerald and the others, who were unconsciously leaking bloodlust, were called out.

The owner of the voice was a man who looked like a military officer attending to Tullius. He had dark hair that was cut in a casual manner, but was tall and well-built. His clothes were of good quality, but they seemed disproportionate to the crudeness he exuded. He was probably a former commoner who had been recruited to serve as a first generation knight. This was a common occurrence for military officers, whose abilities were more important than their origins.

“We're here to greet each other. There's no need to be so stiff, dear guests.”

“...We have been impolite.”

Gerald expressed his gratitude with a bow.

A-rank adventurers were usually excellent at controlling their presence. When dealing with powerful monsters, it was important to catch enemies off guard. In addition, the Scarlet Shield was the leading party in the western frontier. It was extremely uncommon for people to be able to perceive their murderous intent, suggesting that this man was no ordinary person.

“This man is?”

“Oh, he serves my family. He is Due. Our chief military officer. Come on, greet him properly.”

“Due Schwarzer. Sorry for the late greeting. It's my great honour to meet renowned A-rank adventurers.”

Being urged, Due bowed his head lazily. Judging from his last name, he was probably from St. Gallen. If that was the case, it was rather curious that there was a person who would come all the way from a neighbouring country to serve such a countryside noble — a man who was notorious too.

“Well, um..., Mr. Due, I assume you're a famous warrior, too.”

As if to regain her composure, Ninon said. It was an opportunity to change the subject from the awkward atmosphere her comrades have created. She was trying to divert the conversation.

Nevertheless, Due laughed in self-derision.

“It's not that big of a deal. Nothing but crap compared to you all.”

“Don't be too modest, Due. You make me look like a fool for hiring you.”

“He's a former adventurer. His grade at the time was B, I believe?”

Victor took over and replied.

B rank was the mark of an established adventurer. In St. Gallen, where there were many requests, a B-ranked adventurer could expect to earn a lot of money. Besides, he was still in his twenties by the looks of it. He must have risen to the rank of B at a young age. With more experience and accomplishments, he could have been promoted to A rank by the time he was over 30 or so. One could say that it was too early for him to quit adventuring and serve under a noble.

“No, no, I think it's splendid.”

“Yeah, I guess...”

Gerald nodded in agreement with Ninon's words.

“...With somebody as accomplished as yourself and the rumoured, ‘Silver Wolf’... We might not even need to be involved if you two teamed up and surveyed the Trees of Darkness.”
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