047 Scarlets' Research 1 p.5

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More bombs were dropped.

Ninon's expression froze into a feeble, affectionate smile.

“Speaking of which, we haven't seen the girl we’ve heard so much about. What happened to her?”

It was Gotsch who asked quizzically.

Even though the Scarlet Shield was from a remote area, it was not to the extent that they were ignorant of the rumours surrounding famous adventurers. If such famous adventurers moved into their area of operation, they may become formidable competitors or reliable allies. And if things turned out badly, they might be slaughtered by the other party without ever knowing.

In that sense, the female adventurer named Uni, the Silver Wolf, whom Tullius was keeping around, was famous for both good and bad reasons. She was a young woman in her early teens and a slave, but was so skilled that she was given a nickname as a special exception despite her being only C rank. On the other hand, she had been involved in numerous problematic activities, which explained why she was unable to advance beyond C rank despite being highly regarded for her abilities. She made good use of the rule that death was part of the process and killed other adventurers. Anybody who tried to disagree with her on the ownership of a hunting ground? Somebody who offended her? As long as there was a reason, it was a fight to the death. She was like a bloodthirsty wolf. And her nickname was simply because she was an accursed silver beast.

Last year, there was a rumour that she was the illegitimate daughter of a certain count, but it was not true. There was no way she was a noble lady. If she were, she would have to be noble from the Oubeniel family.

The one who had kept such a monstrous girl with a collar was the noble in front of them, Tullius Shernan Oubeniel.

“Uni? Well, she's rather busy as well...”

The wolf's owner glanced at the ceiling, feigning ignorance.

It was a gesture that contained multiple meanings.

“Maybe off to assassi...”

“Cough! Exc-! Cough! Oh, excuse me! My throat is kinda dry!”

Gerald was about to give the conclusion he arrived at, but was interrupted by Ninon's deliberate cough.

Tullius looked at them curiously.

“Oh, what's wrong?”

“No, it's nothing, I just had a coughing fit, cough, cough.”

“If you're not feeling well, I'll have someone bring you some medicine. If you want to see the girl, I could call her over at same time.”

“Oh, please don’t be troubled by it...”

If she was just somewhere else, please don’t appear to be evasive. Ninon pleaded in her head.

“Let's get back to where we were. Umm, so we were at, why didn’t Due and Uni explore the Trees of Darkness?”

“Yeah, with a former B ranked adventurer and the ‘Silver Wolf’ who is as good as an A rank, surely these two wouldn’t be insufficient to investigate the dungeon.”

“You say that, but…”

Tullius flashed a wry smile.

“We're taking a long-term approach to that dungeon. We'll be working with the Adventurer's Guild. Even if we try to solve the problem quickly and brute force it with the lone strength of Marlan... there is the risk of failure, you know. If Uni and Due were lost, there would be no way to replace them in a short period of time.”

“I see.”

In short, he did not want to gather chestnuts from a fire. He did not want to make a choice that might result in the loss of his power. With that said, he had no intention of leaving the dungeon to be. Furthermore, he wanted to gain something out of this situation.

It was too good to be true. The thing that pissed them off was that things were going pretty much the way this guy wanted it to. Tullius had succeeded in getting A-ranked adventurers to come here without committing a single dime of his own.

“Our conversation has gotten long. How about we have some more tea?”

Gerald and the others firmly declined. They were no longer in the mood to enjoy tea in this mansion as innocently as they had been earlier.

※ ※ ※

“Well, well.……Those adventurers were more trouble than they seem, weren't they?”

The reception room after the guests have left. There was no need to be polite anymore. I rolled my shoulders to relieve the stiffness, and reclined deeply on the sofa.

“Good work, your Excellency.”

“Yes. But that's unusual, Victor. It's rare for you to be so honest with me.”

It was truly a rare occasion. The first words out of this straight to the core, walking liturgy textbook of aristocracy were words of encouragement. It may very well snow tomorrow.

“Well, there were a few things I would like to have advised you on. Apart from that, I greatly share your thoughts on how annoying the guests were.”

“Hmm? Were those people so much trouble?”

It was Due who expressed his surprise. Those guys were technically his former colleagues. To some extent, he wanted to root for them, but he couldn’t do so. He was now a knight who served a noble.

“It's a huge problem. As for etiquette, I've been trained to tolerate it. But how could you accuse a lord you've just met of political corruption? And to order the lord to request for more high ranked adventurers?”

“Their sense of money is kinda off? If we were to deploy A-rank adventurers, we'd have to pay the guild quite a bit. Marlan, which was a small territory in the middle of nowhere until the year before last, obviously wouldn’t have that kind of money, would it?”

That's right. It might be surprising, but we have been running on a tight budget on the territory management side. After all, it wasn't until I took over that Marlan was able to collect taxes effectively. The public coffers were as good as empty before then. The money amassed by former governors were somewhat sufficient to support their lavish lifestyles, but on the flip side, the budget for the territory was off by an entire magnitude of 10. My personal savings? Please don’t even think for a second that I have a personal stash. It’s impossible since I was kicked out by my brother from the capital.

Recently, the tax revenue had finally stabilised, the mining operations and potion sales were on the right track, and we could catch our breaths. It wasn’t that long ago that we finally went out of the red.

How could we afford to hire a party of A-rank adventurers or four B-rank parties in such a situation? You must really be out of your mind to believe that.

“If we forced ourselves to spend like that, we won't have enough money for other policies. Even if we hadn't started out with the town expansion project.”

“But before that, the centralist faction would find fault with us. ‘Hiring a squad capable of defeating dragons? What kind of a conspiracy are you planning?’ — that’s what your brother and the old geezer would claim, yes?”

“Hmm, that is true.”

Due groaned and reluctantly agreed.

The members of the Scarlet Shield were too insensitive to how they were being perceived by adventurers. The fact that they lived by hunting monsters meant that they were monsters above monsters. If they took action on personal whims, they would eventually be trapped by political traps. The meaning of authority for them would thus be the control of their powers. It would be incredibly displeasing to authoritative figures if A-ranked adventurers acted arbitrarily. Even more so if the actions they took were at odds with the centralists.

Victor's continued lecturing.

“That's why we waited until the Guild decided to send A-ranked adventurers on their own will. And then those guys…”

“Haha, you really dislike them, don’t you?”

“It's not that I dislike them on the personal level. To tell you the truth, I don't like adventurers in general. I apologise to you and the chief maid, though.”


That was a surprising thing to hear. I thought the only people Victor disliked were Marquis Lavallee and myself, who took the liberty of messing with his brain.

After all, adventurers are basically drifters? That's why they couldn’t be taxed. They were not bound to the land, and they could not be bothered to obey the law, because they valued their own freedom and independence. The only law for them was survival of the fittest. To the extent that they sometimes start fights in town that result in deaths...and adventurers were typically stronger than the average soldier. For the authorities, this unruly group was akin to monsters.

As a side note, as he said, no taxes were collected from adventurers. The adventurer guild branches in cities and towns paid taxes indirectly for adventurers, but it was doubtful how much they were paying honestly. Even if you asked them to audit the books, they usually refused on the principle of confidentiality. If their clients’ information was exposed, a dirty secret or scandal of the nobles or wealthy merchants might be exposed. However, no lord or country was welcoming of tax revenues that were opaque.
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