What Shall the Summer’s Free Research Be?
Things got a little less busy at the adventurers guild during the height of summer.
Because of just how unbearable the heat was during the day, B-Rank adventurers who are financially stable and aren’t obligated to respond to calamity-class requests usually hold off on adventuring during these months. It’s like a summer holiday that they’ve decided on themselves, so unless there’s some kind of emergency, they try and spend their days out of the sun.
On those scorching hot days, filled with the blaring sound of cicadas, no one wants to spend their time sweating through fights against monsters or collecting herbs in the mountains. Even A-Rank adventurers sometimes tarried in accepting their obligated requests in this weather.
Unless you’re a low-ranking adventurer who is relying on constant request money to live or an adventurer more hardy than most, there were very few with the ambition to go questing during those long and hot summer days.
Unfortunately for them, three such adventurers were sitting around a table planning their next move, they were Kyle, Leia and Cudd, members of an E-Rank adventuring party. Along with the minotaur called Asterios, who was helping them plan for the day, they all looked with surprise at the person who walked through the guild’s door.
As she brushed a hand through that snowy white hair, enjoying the sudden cool breeze from the air conditioning magical tool inside the guild, Shirley walked inside. As she did, Kyle yelped out in shock, whilst even Yumina was surprised by her appearance.
“That’s unusual… I’m surprised she’s here right now…”
“Did something happen? Did some kind of crazy monster show up?”
“No, if there was anything of that magnitude, the higher ranks would have been informed first. Being an A-Rank myself, I have not heard anything.”
Their surprise was only natural. As an adventurer, Shirley was well known for taking a long holiday coinciding with the school holidays. Around this time of year, she came to the guild as little as possible in order to maximize the time she could spend with Sophie and Tio.
Last year, there was a request to subdue a horde of giant ants lead by an Insect Queen that emerged out of the lands to the east, but when Shirley was asked to take it on…
“I refuse. I’m helping to prepare a place for my daughters and their friends to play at a mountain stream tomorrow.”
Then there was a request to defeat a Lich King that had been resurrected out of the west, but when Yumina had personally gone to the Deficit House to beg Shirley directly…
“I refuse. I have plans to go and pick fruits with my daughters in the forest today.”
Just before the beginning of this year’s summer holidays, when news of a marauding gang of a hundred giants was heading towards the capital from the south, the branch chief himself implored her, but…
“I refuse. I am going to the port town to buy foreign sweets for my daughters today.”
No matter what, her daughters took priority. It really is fortunate for her that there are no obligatory requests for B-Rank adventurers, since during the summer holidays Shirley doesn’t want to spend time on anything other than Sophie and Tio, so it was incredibly rare for her to take on any requests.
With the sole exception of eliminating any monsters that could be a threat to the town, or more specifically her daughters, for all intents and purposes she never adventured during the school’s summer holidays. After all the refusals there was something of a tacit understanding at the guild, so no one was going to bother her over the holidays, but suddenly Shirley herself appeared at the guild. It really is a strange situation.
“This really is rare, isn’t it? I didn’t expect to see you here when school was out on break.”
“Shirley-san, what’s wrong? I heard you don’t usually come to the guild around this time?”
As she walked by them, Shirley looked at Kyle’s face that seemed worried, then sat at an empty seat and told them the truth.
“Actually, the other day…”
The story goes back to the previous evening. Tio stood in front of a sink in the corner of the open kitchen that was available for residents to use at the Deficit House, balancing on a stool she held a knife in her right hand and a tomato in her left, then with a serious face that had much more gravitas than her usual expression, tossed the tomato in the air.
And hit the tomato falling through the air with the kitchen knife. That said, the knife didn’t cut through the vegetable at all, instead of slicing it would be fairer to say it struck it instead. Sure enough, the tomato kept falling completely whole. But, before it fell into the sink, Shirley who was standing next to Tio caught it.
“As I said, wouldn’t it be easier to simply use a cutting board instead?”
“Mm… But, mum, you wouldn’t use a cutting board.”
“Well, for me, this way is just quicker.”
Shirley threw the tomato she had caught up into the sky and swung at it with her own kitchen knife. The tomato was cut with a speed untraceable to the naked eye into six perfectly sized portions, with three each falling neatly onto the two readied plates in a beautiful arrangement.
“I want to do that too. How do you do it?”
“I want to say that practice makes perfect… But, I won’t allow you to just swing a knife around when I’m not around, okay? It’s only cooking, after all.”
“….T-There’s no use looking at me like that.”
She diverted her eyes away from Tio, who was looking up at her with a determined sulky face. If she looked directly at that face, she felt like she might end up teaching her after getting swept up in Tio’s flow.
“A-Anyways… I remember that you were having a hard time picking what to do for your free research project, but did you end up deciding on what to do?”
“…Changing the subject.”
“Well… We haven’t really decided anything yet.
Shirley’s question was answered by Sophie, who was stirring the soup in the pot at the other end of the bench.
“I asked the teacher if he had any ideas, but apparently students choose all sorts of things every year. But there are lots of things to choose from, like history or chemistry.”
“Ahh… That sounds like a pain…”
Tio frowned. Having to go through books on a subject like that would take even more time than their problem booklet. Thinking about it that way, it’s no wonder that the younger twin who wanted to finish her summer homework as soon as possible made such a face.
“If you find that kind of stuff interesting then you do it… But that boring stuff makes me feel sleepy… Fuwaaah…”
Tio let out a sleepy sounding yawn just thinking about it, even though it was still before dinner. Although she seemed to doze off plenty of times when they were doing homework during the day and barely moved at all, it still seems like she’s in danger of falling asleep at any moment. Usually, she would just take a nap, even more so if she’s being forced into doing something she found boring.
“It really is hard when they don’t give you a theme to work on. Up until last year, you could just do a diary.”
“…They just want to give us work that will make us cry.”
They weren’t given a set theme, instead, they were told to decide on a topic for themselves. Apart from observation diaries being expressly banned, there were so many potential options that it was difficult for the children to decide.
“Oh, that’s right! Mama, why don’t we do a report on the adventurer’s guild as our theme for the free research project?”
“The guild? No, that’s…”
“Mm. That’s a nice idea. If you don’t let us do it I’ll give up on it all, so please think about it.”
Since they’re personally interested in the guild, it would probably be fun for those girls. Shirley, who understood the hidden intentions of her beloved daughters, took it into consideration.
After listening to her story, the other adventurers at the table, Asterios excluded, looked at the ceiling with a happy look on their faces.
“Ahh, that’s so nostalgic. I remember having to do things like that when I was at school.”
“It certainly sounds difficult for youngsters these days with all these assignments. Back in my hometown there was no such thing as a schoolhouse, so I was merely taught how to read and write by the pastor at the church… Is this what they mean by changing times?”
“It’s hard to imagine you as a child, Asterios-san, but it’s true that schools really have changed, huh? We were never banned from doing observation diaries for our reports.”
Shirley looked confused at Leia’s words.
“Was it different when you were all at school?”
“When we went to school, most kids just filled out an observation diary. But since most kids just filled it out after playing every day, it didn’t really feel like proper homework since most of the days just had the same thing.”
“I get you. I really get you. When we were doing it, all we did for the free research project was just a couple of sentences a day. I just wrote about a beetle I kept, it didn’t change at all.”
“I had a stag beetle. Sometimes I wrote about who won our insect wrestling matches.”
“I grew a morning glory for my diary. When it was summertime, it changed quite a lot, so I thought it was interesting.”
It seems like it was once quite an easy task, but things must have changed in the past few years. Since the free research project that Shirley had heard about from her girls was quite different.
“Hmm. Although I’m not really in favour of doing fruitless research… It’s true that because the observation diary isn’t accepted as a free research project anymore, it presents a bit of a conundrum.”
“I had nothing to do with it.”
“Well, sure… Did something happen in the last couple of years? They must have decided that it was a problem.”
To be honest, it boiled down to Sophie and Tio’s freedom of choice. If they did something mundane, it would be quite easy to finish it off simply. But if they didn’t do something that truly sparked their interest, it could show up poorly in their results at school for the project.
“So, that being said, Yumina-san. Is there any request available that it would be possible to bring the children along to so that they can do their free research project?”
“That’s absolutely impossible.”
“Wasn’t that too quick a reply!?”
Yumina, standing behind the reception table, smiled wryly. Although Cudd was shocked by just how quickly she responded to that question, Shirley had a bit of a dissatisfied look on her face, although she didn’t say anything because she could guess at the reason why.
“The guild still maintains a modicum of confidentiality for their clients. Of course, if both the adventurer and client in question agreed to it, then there might be something we could do…”
“More importantly, Shirley-san, I’m glad you’re here. The truth is, the dragon in the north has begun movin――――”
“So I’m back to square one… I have to think of something else.”
“Umm~… Please don’t just ignore me…”
Shirley frowned at the difficulty of her situation. As much as she wants to help pick a subject for her daughters, choosing the theme is also part of the assignment itself. At the very least, she wants to help them with their chosen subject. As she was thinking about that, the door to the guild slammed open behind her as a voice rung through the room.
“Muhohohooo! F-Finally I’ve found thee, Shirley!”
The owner of that voice was dressed in all manner of finery, accompanied by a gaggle of servants in waistcoats and maid uniforms, he was a portly and short man who looked about twenty years old. The first impression of him was an idiot son of some nobleman.
It may sound like a harsh evaluation for someone you’ve only just met, but this kind of person seems like the typical example of a person who believes themselves to be a god because of their parents’ wealth and influence. As such a man spoke out to Shirley, Kyle, his party, the guild’s staff and all the other adventurers in the hall bore witness to that person saying something truly outrageous.
“I-I wish for you to be my bride! A-As the legitimate son of the Stahl house, Cumore, a member of the greatest noble family in the Kingdom, you shall have the honour of bearing me the next duke!”
As this young man, Cumore Stahl, suddenly declared such a ridiculous thing, anyone who was eating meat or drinking ale very quickly spat it back out in shock.
ʕง•ᴥ•ʔง Bear this instead, punk