“Sorry for the wait. Please come in, Miss Shirley.”
Half an hour before evening fell, and after she had taken the head of an Ogre General that had threatened to attack the town, Shirley entered the back room of the church behind the Adventurers Guild that was being borrowed as a meeting room.
“Thank you for your hard work. Please, take a seat.”
A man from the Guild is seated next to a priest in the room, with a large amount of paperwork on the table in front of them.
A simple way to describe the work these men do is to ensure that requests that are reported as completed were actually finished.
Unlike simple requests such as procuring precious metals or medicinal herbs, any requests involving the subjugation of monsters or demons must be verified with a priest present.
“… <<Truth ・ Penetrate>>. …We’re ready to begin. Whenever you’re ready.”
Following his brief chant, the Priest holds out his short staff, the tip of which has begun to glow.
The clerical magic that is used in service of the goddess known as the Ethereal Mother has many practical applications, ranging from the healing of wounds to the lifting of curses, and is employed in many various professions ranging from adventuring to the government.
The time, the priest used a magic known as “Sense Lie” to distinguish truth from falsehood.
The guild doesn’t accept trophies like horns or ears as proof of a request being completed. And it goes without saying that adventurers walking through town with freshly severed heads would raise far too many eyebrows.
It is simply much easier to ascertain the truth using magic like this, rather than relying on physical proof that in some cases may be far too heavy to bring back to town in the first place.
“Then, please make your report, if you would.”
“Today’s request was to eliminate an ogre whose territory had begun to gradually expand towards town, as well as the subjugation of all the monsters subordinate to him. Aside from the ogre itself, I also exterminated 24 goblins and 13 dire wolves. As far as I’m aware, none escaped.”
As Shirley disinterestedly relays the information without pause, the priest nods his head intermittently.
“…I swear in the name of the Ethereal Mother that her words contain no treachery.”
“Understood. Well done out there, Shirley. Now, as per usual, please take this back with you.”
With their business over, Shirley was handed a report that bore a red insignia of an intertwined sword and wand… the emblem of the Guild.
Handing this over to reception officially completed a request, and the adventurer is paid on the spot. This kind of multi-stage reporting hasn’t been around forever, it was implemented in the early stages after multiple instances of adventurers fraudulently claiming to complete requests.
“I’ve completed the request.”
“Thank you for your hard work! Defeating the Ogre solo, that means you get the whole reward intended for an entire party!”
After glancing sidelong at the queue of adventurers waiting to chat up Yumina behind her, Shirley quickly confirmed the reward and left without staying to talk.
As she walked home, the afternoon sky slowly turned a shade of madder red, the setting sun still illuminating the bright streets. The request was finished sooner than she expected, and she enthusiastically thought about what she was going to make her girls for dinner.
After dropping off the requested reward at the inn, she went back out without even giving her feet time to rest, towards the hustle and bustle of the markets that were still operating with what little light remained in the day.
Whilst the production of armour, weapons, enhancement drugs and curative potions were very active in this frontier town, the food supply was comparatively scarce.
Although there are pastures around the town, they can’t cover all the demand alone. The only way to supply this frontier town with enough food to survive is to import from nearby cities and rural areas, which would inevitably run up the cost… If it weren’t for the Guild heavily subsidizing the merchants who make the trip.
Because of that, the food is cheaper here than the place it was made in.
“This cheese sure is cheap, isn’t it?”
Mixed in amongst the housewives jostling for the cheapest goods, the beautiful woman with the white hair and the mismatched eyes seemed incredibly out of place.
Completely ignoring the stares of passers-by, she passes between one stall to the other looking for bargains.
Shirley’s mouth twisted in a stupid looking grin as she has her arms full of bags containing various vegetables, cheese and a chicken, purchased with some of the coins earned from today’s battle.
Flour and eggs were available for use at the inn. Last time was a beef stew, Sophie’s favourite meal. So today’s dinner is going to be Tio’s favourite, a meat pie.
Going to a marketplace, buying ingredients and thinking up recipes for her daughters… It’s not a life she could have ever imagined as a noblewoman or a fiancée of the Crown Prince.
But just thinking of her daughter’s happy faces was always enough to get her through the day.
Sophie came running up from behind her as she was walked home with her shopping.
“Welcome home! Is today’s job already over?”
“Yes. Tio isn’t with you?”
“Nope. She said she had to do something.”
Reminded of the events of this morning, Shirley’s demonic side began to slip out just a bit, but in a panic she suppressed it.
If it’s her daughter’s choice, she doesn’t have any right to interfere…
“Ah, is that tonight’s dinner?”
“That’s right, I was thinking of making a meat pie.”
“Boo… Stew would be better.”
Even though she was somehow tempted to accept by those big blue puppy dog eyes as Sophie joked, her desire to be fair as a mother let her reject her beloved daughter’s request.
“We had stew yesterday, so tonight it’s going to be Tio’s favourite.”
“I guess it can’t be helped… As the older sister, I’ll have to be kind.”
“Well then, would you be so kind as to take one of these bags?”
The scene of the mother and daughter walking side by side, the light of the setting sun reflecting off their white hair. With their common clothes and gentle looks, they looked like a normal happy family.
Apart from their stunning beauty, they were just a cheerful family you could find anywhere. If you didn’t know them, you would never think that mother was a warrior who had bathed in the blood of monsters not a few hours ago.
Sophie stopped all of a sudden. Along the row of shops, Sophie was staring at shop that sold various ornaments and jewellery.
“Is there something about that store?”
“Eh!? Ah, no, there’s nothing!?”
As they walked past the shop window, Shirley didn’t miss the jade inlaid rosary that was laid out as a showpiece.
If Sophie had wanted to buy a simple decoration for school, she could have afforded it, since she was given a gold coin per month as pocket money… But it seemed like she yearned for the genuine article.
(By the way, in the Kingdom, wasn’t there a custom when one became an adult…)
Although Shirley doesn’t know about all the details as someone born in the Empire, in the Kingdom there is a custom of giving your child or student in magical and martial arts an engraved gift bearing their name when they come of age.
Something that they can hold onto and remember you by even when separated. Wanting to send blessings to those who had moved away from home, some people went as far as to send newly engraved items to those young adults every year.
(…Maybe it would be best to prepare early?)
Shirley makes her decision.
It’s not wise to commit to expenses so far in the future when you can’t be sure of what’s going to happen even tomorrow.
But, for those two lovely daughters who she went through such hardships to bring into the world, she would spare no expense.
(I’ll gather all the materials myself, and recruit the greatest craftsmen in the country… It will be the ultimate declaration of motherly love…!)
Even though simple wooden or store bought items would usually do, the adventurer known as the Demonic White Sword swore that her daughters would only have the best of everything.
Not even the most obsessive nobleman in the world would go over the craftsman’s head to source all the materials himself, but unfortunately, there was no one around to point it out.
(For now, I should aim for Jewelsaad Mine… Though didn’t Yumina say that was one of the locations that a Dragon had been witnessed?)
Shirley imagines a receptionist tearfully accepting a request completion like it’s the greatest thing to ever happen to her.
Jewelsaad Mine could be described as a natural treasure chest, containing much of the kingdom’s natural supply of precious gems and rare metals.
But because of its remoteness and cavernous depths, it has become a breeding ground for numerous and apparently a dragon, so in truth, no one can claim ownership of it.
Even though every merchant, noble and member of the royal house desires nothing more than to claim ownership over the treasures in the mountain, because of the difficulties involved they have no choice but to ask adventurers to collect them.
(And to top it off, there’s a guild reward to gain as well… What a stroke of luck. I’ll take the request tomorrow morning, and then go mine some gems. …And I suppose I’ll kill the dragon after all.)
For Shirley, the whole dragon business really isn’t a priority. As her mother has her finger on her mouth contemplating her busy day tomorrow, Sophie tilted her head to the side and asked:
“Mama? You’ve been quiet for a while?”
“Ah, don’t worry, it’s nothing.”
Wanting to keep the surprise, Shirley entered back into the inn with her daughter.
As night came and the number of adventurers lining up slowly dwindled to nothing, Yumina closed up shop for the day with a heavy sigh.
Today she got chewed out by the regional guild boss. ‘Why on earth have you not promoted the Demonic White Sword to A-Rank when she’s at the apex of all swordsmen!?’, or something to that effect.
Usually, the guild respects the decisions of its members, and so there’s a lot of strong warriors buried in B-Rank who have no wish to be promoted and lose their freedom.
Although Shirley considered herself just another one of those B-Rank freedom lovers, the guild can’t simply ignore a person who makes elite A-Rank parties look like jokes by defeating calamity class monsters like Dragons on her own. The guild was beginning to put an unreasonable amount of pressure on Yumina to get the promotion finalized.
“Ahhh jeez… Even though I’m really trying my best, do they have any idea how stubborn that person is!?”
Yumina repeated a curse in her mind that she hopes will make the regional boss suffer premature balding.
(But, honestly, there is some truth to what the boss is saying.)
Even if she isn’t a mother herself, as a fellow woman she can sympathize with Shirley wanting to spend as much time with her daughters as possible.
However, the Adventurers Guild is an organization dedicated to saving people, and to do that it needs skilled warriors it can rely on to respond to emergencies.
Yumina has known Shirley for more than five years, ever since she was assigned here, and she’s been in B-Rank the entire time.
Shirley who slew the Mad Black Dragon that dwelt in the mountains, took the head of the Dread Vampire Princess, and cleared through the dungeon that was deemed impossible, she did all these things alone. Yumina felt deep admiration for the woman who accomplished all that.
No matter how impatient the guild was to promote Shirley, even if she did meet the party related qualifications for A-Rank promotion, there’s still the issue of her complete unwillingness to advance.
(I hope she at least joins a party someday, though.)
But Shirley’s capacity for cooperation seems incredibly low, and even if she did her best to conceal that attitude of hers, it’s not as if she has many acquaintances to call on.
She rarely ever talks to other adventurers and has never been invited to join a party herself. And that’s only natural.
No matter how amazing someone’s abilities and looks are, to adventurers having someone with little regard for teamwork in your party is the same as having a death wish.
No party would want to ruin themselves by adding such an unstable element to the mix. It’s a hard sell if you see it from their point of view.
However, she’ll still encourage Shirley to try and join a party. Perhaps if she can be guided towards fulfilling the requirements to become an A-Rank adventurer, with enough persistence she might also agree to the promotion.
That’s what Yumina hopes to achieve.
“An adventurer who could work and get along with Shirley… Who isn’t already in a party… All right.”
Even though business hours for the Guild had already finished, she was the one in charge of locking up tonight. So there’s no one there to complain about her leaving late.
Yumina brought out a magic tool from behind the counter. It was a magical amplifier connected by a string that allowed one to talk to someone else with a similar device many miles away.
“Hello, good mor- Wait, that’s not it. Guild Master? Yes, there’s something I needed to ask your permission about…”