Here Come the Swindlers
I had nothing to do for the entire week as I waited for the results that would be announced a week from now. Currently, I was all dressed up to sightsee the capital’s fourth ward, Reise, along with Satella, but Aria was still brooding over how her father had refused to see her and had thus not joined in.
“Grey-sama, what should I do with Aria-chan?” Satella whispered into my ear as Aria rested her chin on her hands and sighed.
“What else but to get her thinking about something else?” replied Sylphy, who had been drinking since the crack of dawn.
“What do you mean?”
“How about alcohol?”
“Idiot! Aria’s underaged!” I cut in.
“Hearing that from you goes beyond refreshing to just plain creepy.”
How rude. Who does she think I am?
“Then what about eating around? That’ll definitely cheer her up!” said Drahachi, suggesting something quite unexpected while she munched on her bread.
“Wouldn’t that just make you happy?”
“You could say that.”
She’s hopeless. These deadbeat dragons are completely useless.
“What if I give onee-chan a shoulder massage?” said Shiina as she tugged on my sleeve.
“Hm, that’s hard to turn down.”
Certainly, if she recieves a shoulder massage full of love from Shiina, she might feel a little better.
“Then, if you would—”
I was about to leave the job to my shoulder massager, Shiina, when the landlady’s angry voice cut me off.
“Get back here!!”
I turned to see the landlady standing imposingly with her hands on her waist, as well as a man with a nasty look and four thugs standing around him.
“This store looks like it’ll collapse any minute now. Don’t you think it’d be better to just close up shop and retire?” the man with a nastly look said to the people around him. As he panned around, everybody who made eye contact with him turned away.
“Hey, you all think the same, right?” he continued, spreading his arms wide and looking up at the ceiling before returning his gaze back to the dining room.
“It doesn’t look like anyone agrees,” I said.
“No, they don’t,” replied Satella.
“Are those guys just dense? Just look at them, I feel bad,” said Sylphy.
“I do too! They look stiff and like they’d taste bad.”
Drahachi, why do you always look at everything like it’s food?
“It looks like we’ll have to teach our guests here a little bit about how this city operates,” said the small man.
Shiina trembled as she hugged me. Satella, her guardian, raised her eyebrows and said, “Grey-sama. I’ll deal with them.”
That’s not really what I wanted. Since everyone around Satella was older than she was, Shiina was one of the few people she could actually protect. She had been doting on Shiina like she would a cat these past few days, and Drahachi had been a bit more withdrawn since, her role having been taken from her. Seeing Shiina’s cowering figure must have really worked her up.
However, Satella has her life as a student here. Aria, Satella, and I probably should keep our heads down for the time being. These kinds of times call for Sylphy—she’s usually just sitting around and doing nothing but drink after all.
“No, you go, Sylphy,” I said.
“Eeeh, but I’m so comfortable right now.”
“Stop making excuses and get out there!”
“Okay, okay. You’re really working this dragon over here.”
Sylphy shook her head and began to stand up when, Aria jumped up and shouted, “Stop!”
“Outsiders should keep their noses out of this!” the landlady shouted impatiently.
That Aria is always moving before she thinks. That said, the landlady is one of the few people that lead back to her late mother. That is, to say, she’s one of the characters of the happy stories of her past. To put her in danger is to besmirch Aria’s story; it’s something she would never allow.
In addition, the landlady had really helped us out during our entrance exam, and Shiina and Drahachi’s goodwill towards her must mean that she had really doted on the two. There’s no way Aria would just stand back and do nothing.
“Satella, take Shiina and Drahachi.”
Satella heaved a heavy sigh and replied, “I don’t mind, but are you planning to do something irresponsible again?”
“Who do you see me as? I’m going to talk it out.”
I’ll talk as much as they’re willing.
Exasperated, Satella shook her had back and forth and said, “Come on, Shiina, Drahachi. Let’s go upstairs.”
She grabbed their hands and ascended the stairs.
“Now then, Master. May the wind always be at your back,” said the deadbeat dragon number two before trying to flee admist the confusion, but I restrained her via wind manipulation.
“You’re protecting Aria and the others.”
Why does she think I took on the troublesome task of dealing with all these guys?
“Okay, okay. This is also one of my struggles as a working dragon. Please, use my body as you please,” said Sylphy, who, in a grandiose manner, shrugged and walked towards Aria.
“Grey, Aria, you two go upstairs as well,” said the landlay, chaning back to her usual kind expression.
“No need. I’ve taken a little interest in this child.”
The small man with a nastly look twitched at my words but didn’t break his composure and instead signaled to a man next to him.
“Aria, leave this to me.”
I gave Aria a sidelong glance to prevent her from stepping out any further, after which she obediently stepped back.
The giant bald man who easilly topped two meters walked up to me and looked down from above.
“We are merchants of Waste Co., you know,” the small man proudly declared.
Waste Co.? Never heard of ‘em.
“Are they famous here?”
“They’re a famous company based in the capital!” Aria exclaimed in exasperation.
Seems like they’re quite the group. Now, what should I do. I’m not a huge fan of clashing with another guild.
“Leave it to this bumpkin to not know about us.”
The men broke out into snickers.
“Yep, we’ve just arrived at the capital after all. I’ll have to see how I can expand into this market from here on out. Well, nice to meet you.”
I can’t forget my dignity, no matter how rude they are. That’s what acting like an adult is all about.
I extended my right hand towards the bald man, who instead spat in my face.
Naturally, I thought to dodge it, but Sylphy blocked it with the scabbard of her sword.
“I’ve changed my mind. I’ll take them on,” she said.
Her usual carefree expression hadn’t changed in the slightest, but it hid an eerie smile behind it.
A normal person is one thing, but it’d be bad to leave things to her; she’d escalate it into a major incident in all probability.
“Don’t change your mind. You’re guarding Aria.”
She crossed her arms in frustration and turned away.
“Now, I understand the intention of Waste Co. or whatever you were called. Let’s fight fair and square as fellow merchants.
I didn’t spare any pity for my enemies, and that went double for those who didn’t follow the rules of society. I’ll pick them off one by one, leaving nobody behind.
I turned back towards the landlady and asked, “Landlady, do you have any interest in entering a business partnership with me?”
I’d need to operate in Reise regardless, so this wasn’t a bad idea.
“A business……partnership?” she parroted back, perhaps due to being unable to follow the conversation.
“Yeah, we plan to expand into Reise. And so according to the contract, we would give Raindrop Inn our full support.”
“Hey, don’t just go off on your own. Now go teach that boy over there how strict the world is.”
The bald man sneered and raised his right arm while snapping his fingers.
So there’s no use arguing. To think they’d take such a violent approach without looking into me at all—they must have either extreme confidence in their wealth, or another large organization backing them. Regardless, the only option left is to remove them.
I waited for the bald man’s hand to slowly come down, when he was suddenly sent flying away.
“You dare raise a hand against a child!”
A man in white clothes with greying hair collected his breath while the bald man a death glare.
I had seen him cooking in the kitchen on several different occasions. The landlady had introduced his as the head chef and her husband on the first day. He had always seemed to be in a grumpy mood around us, so I had thought he hated kids or something, but I guess I was wrong.
The bald man who had been sent flying clutched at his head for a while, but after grasping the situation, reddened like a boiled octopus and shot up in a start.
“Zuu!” shouted the man with a nasty look, and the bald man snapped out of his reverie and began rolling on the ground in pain.
“Ow, ooowwww!! My arm is broken!!”
This is the worst play I’ve seen before.
“Hey, Mr. Raindrop Inn man, you used violence against a member of Waste Co.! We’ll never forgive this!! I’ll have you report to my superiors.”
They probably planned to demand an absurd amount as reparations. Even an amateur could put on a better play. These guys really grind my gears.
“Where does it hurt? Could you show me?” I asked as I looked down on the bald man, Zuu, who was still rolling around in pain.
“Here, my right arm! It’s broke—”
He had carefully extended his limp arm, so I grabbed it applied force.
The sound of the bone snapping accompanied the sight of Zuu’s arm bent in the complete wrong direction.
He let out a genuine blood-curling scream this time and began rolling around on the ground.
“Hm, it certainly is broken. And it looks like your left one is too.”
I broke his left arm with a smile on my face.
He let out another scream and once again began rolling around in pain.
“Hey, do you know how many bones a human has?”
While still writhing about, he looked up to me and shrieked.
“Adults have 206 bones. Now, how many of yours are broken? Don’t you want to find out?” I asked.
Zuu just trembled in response and stared up at me before his eyes slid back and he passed out.
It’d be annoying if they blamed me later, so I healed him with recovery magic. Besides, humans had a strong tendency to fear the unknown. The broken bones had completely healed; it’d be a lot more daunting this way.
“Now, he definitely sustained heavy injuries. How unlucky is he to break some bones by falling over? His bones might have hollowed out from calcium deficiency. Do you want me to have a look at you and your superior while I’m at it?”
The small man with a nasty look gave a wide smile while sweat poured down his face like a waterfall. He then furiously shook his head back and forth.
“N-no, I think I’ll pass. We’re leaving, guys.”
The self-proclaimed Waste Co. merchants fled the building with Zuu in tow.
“W-who are you?” the husband timidly asked.
“Let’s talk inside.”
I pointed towards the room further inside where we could talk in more detail.