Chapter 166 Three Major Firms
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
One day, several days after the person who introduced himself as Alex had arrived, Alex returned to the settlement with a few people. After Alex had informed Neil about bringing more hands, I was asked by Neil to guide Alex and his group around the settlement.
”Other than Alex, this is the first time we’ve met. I’m Lewya, and today I’ve been entrusted by Master Neil to guide you. Nice to meet you.”
Upon hearing my greeting, Alex, who was at the front, looked at me with a puzzled expression.
”…Your attitude is quite different from last time. “
”You were a customer back then. But starting today, we’re colleagues working in the settlement, right? If it bothers you, I can adjust my language.”
”No, it’s fine. It’s not that your change in attitude surprised me; I wasn’t offended by it. More importantly, we need your guidance.”
Prompted by Alex, I began guiding them. Despite the increase in buildings due to Ronim and the others’ efforts, there weren’t many places that required detailed explanations. In about thirty minutes, I had finished introducing the main locations. It was then, as I was about to guide them to the barracks that the Shouhyou’s hand spear members would use, that something happened.
”Oh? Isn’t that Alex!”
Coming from the other side, Gaadhir recognized them and raised his voice. It seemed like he knew Alex, as he walked over with large strides. As I thought, he approached Alex’s side and affectionately put his arm around his shoulder.
”I had heard that the members of Shouhyou’s hand spear were coming, but I never expected to see you here. How long has it been? The last time we worked together was before I got injured, so it’s been over a year.”
”Sigh… You’re still as familiar as ever, Gaadhir.”
”Well, you’re still the same unsociable guy, Alex.”
While looking somewhat annoyed and not shaking off the arm that Gaadhir had put around his shoulder, it seemed that their one-sided camaraderie wasn’t the entirety of their relationship. In that moment, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of curiosity.
”Gaadhir was part of Banrai no Senpu (Battle Axe of Ten Thousand Thunders), right? Even though you’re from a different firm, do you sometimes work together?”
”Yeah, sometimes. There are occasions where we’re hired as guards by different clients holding meetings, and other times we’re both hired by the same client for a joint task.”
”Hired by the same client? Why would they hire multiple firms?”
”It’s a comparison. To determine which firm’s personnel to hire in the future. We desperately vie with each other not to be outdone by the other, selecting the best personnel for the job. That’s why…”
Interrupting himself, Gaadhir checked the members of Shouhyou’s hand spear behind him.
”Never thought I’d meet these faces again in a place like this. I don’t recognize more than half of them, but having Luck, Shaina, and even Oza here shows quite a bit of determination, doesn’t it?”
”This is the settlement. It’s different from taking assignments in the town.”
”Still, isn’t bringing all these people here an excessive show of force? What’s Shouhyou’s hand spear thinking?”
”You already left Banrai no Senpu, didn’t you, Gaadhir? Why worry about past business rivals?”
”It’s true that you and we are no longer business rivals. But right now, I’m part of the settlement. If you guys pull any strange stunts here, it won’t end well even for you.”
”…I’ll keep that in mind.”
”Gaadhir, it’s good to be enthusiastic about the settlement’s security, but threatening fellow colleagues isn’t the way to go.”
”Hahaha, don’t misunderstand, Lewya. This is my own version of kindness—kindness.”
I fail to see where the kindness is in this conversation.
”Oh yeah, Alex, what’s the deal with ‘Kouen (Light Flame)’?”
”In that case, Buzz has taken on the name ‘Kouen’.”
”Ah, so that bastard Buzz took it after all. A reasonable choice.”
”‘Kouen’? What are you talking about?”
”It’s the new titleholder of ‘Kouen no Chokken (Dagger of Light Flame)’. There’s a custom there where the predecessor chooses the successor and hands over the title, but the previous holder suddenly died, so there was a bit of a dispute about how to decide the next one.”
”Seriously? So that’s where it comes from. I’ve thought you were out of touch with the world for a while now, but where have you been living all this time, some remote place?”
”Well… it’s not much different from here.”
”It’s quite a comparison to say it’s not much different from the settlement. But if it’s that rural, I guess there’s no way to know. Listen up. A ‘title’ is the front part of a firm’s name, and it’s a title given to the person recognized as the ‘top’ in that firm. For Banrai no Senpu (Battle Axe of Ten Thousand Thunders), it’s ‘Banrai (Thunder),’ and for Shouhyou’s hand spear, it’s ‘Shouhyou.’ By the way, those two and Kouen no Chokken are famous as the three major personnel dispatch firms in the Empire.”
”A title given to the top person in the firm… Speaking of which, Gaadhir mentioned he used to be the ‘earner’ before he got injured. Was he a titleholder of Banrai?”
”No, no. Even though he was called an ‘earner,’ that was only in the Denar branch. He wasn’t the top earner in Banrai no Senpu (Battle Axe of Ten Thousand Thunders). Besides, Banrai no Senpu (Battle Axe of Ten Thousand Thunders) values strength. The condition to inherit Banrai title is being strong. The strongest within the firm can carry the Banrai title. On the other hand, Shouhyou’s hand spear values achievements. No matter how strong you are, if you don’t have achievements, you can’t carry the Shouhyou title.”
”True, but those achievements often require completing numerous difficult assignments. In reality, the one who carries the Shouhyou title is usually the most skilled.”
”Well, still, it’s unlikely for someone from outside, like in Banrai no Senpu (Battle Axe of Ten Thousand Thunders), to suddenly inherit a title, right?”
”Did something like that happen?”
”About three years ago. A tall woman wielding a strange spear-axe suddenly appeared, challenged the previous Banrai, and won the match, taking the title.”
”Do they allow such audacious behavior?”
”Like I said before, Banrai no Senpu (Battle Axe of Ten Thousand Thunders) values strength above all else. If you’re skilled, they don’t care about your history. And they warmly welcome someone of such ability. The predecessor was getting older, and there were worries about them retiring without finding a successor. It’s a case of taking advantage of an opportunity.”
In a firm that values strength, it’s unsavory for the symbol of that power to retire due to aging without a replacement appearing. If they’re going to retire anyway, it’s better to be succeeded by someone stronger, which not only avoids negative rumors but could even be seen as good publicity. After Gaadhir, once heralded as an earner, got injured and received rough treatment in the firm, it’s evident how much they valued strength.
”But, that Buzz guy inherited Kouen… Did he move to the capital?”
”No, he’s still in Denar. He probably doesn’t have any plans to move anytime soon.”
”Come to think of it, if Banrai no Senpu (Battle Axe of Ten Thousand Thunders) values strength and Shouhyou’s hand spear values achievements, what does Kouen no Chokken value?”
When I voiced the question that suddenly popped into my head, both Gaadhir and Alex looked puzzled.
”Kouen no Chokken… Well, it’s the most unorthodox of the three major firms, so to speak. I’m not trying to speak ill of it, but it’s a bit difficult to put into words.”
”If I were to put it into words, Kouen no Chokken values ‘integrity,’ I suppose.”
”Kouen no Chokken champions the cause of commoners. They charge a reasonable fee from commoners for their requests, they accept even the smallest of tasks, they’re truly the advocates of the common folk. And as the term ‘integrity’ implies, they value honesty above all else.”
”Can they survive that way? When it comes to the Empire, well… to speak frankly, deceiving people is a common practice, isn’t it?”
”Because they can survive that way, they’re considered on par with the three major firms. People often misunderstand, but ‘integrity’ doesn’t mean being kind to others. It means responding with sincerity, without mixing in personal gain or deception. In other words, as long as they don’t intermingle their own motives and don’t resort to deceit, they are genuinely sincere, no matter what they do. Kouen no Chokken always deals with external enemies in a sincere manner.”
In essence, it means eliminating external enemies head-on without resorting to deception or trickery. As it’s a direct approach, it could become troublesome if it angers the wrong people, which might be why Gaadhir and Alex looked troubled.
”Buzz embodies the very essence of Kouen no Chokken. He extends a helping hand to those with goodwill and presents his sword to those with ill intentions. Like fire, he’s passionate and unwavering. He’s not a bad person, but he’s not good at being flexible due to his stubbornness.”
”You can’t just use the word ‘stubborn’ to describe him, Alex. Frankly speaking, he’s a lunatic of sorts.”
”He seems to be quite the unique individual…”
What kind of person is so sincere that they’re referred to as a lunatic? As I’ve been pondering this privately, one of the Shouhyou’s hand spear members, who had been silently listening until now, spoke up.
”Hey, how much longer are we going to chat away in this place? I’m getting tired of standing around.”
”Oops, looks like Shaina’s getting impatient. Lewya, how much of the tour is left?”
”Just the barracks where the Shouhyou’s hand spear members sleep.”
”Great, then I’ll handle the tour there. Lewya, you can go back to work. It’s dinner time, and the slaves have finished their tasks and are probably waiting for you to report.”
”That’s true, but is it alright?”
”It’s fine. I still have some things I want to talk about with these guys. Don’t worry about it.”
”Understood. Well then, please take care.”
”Yeah! Alright, you guys, after you put your stuff in the barracks, head to the dining hall! The food there is ridiculously delicious. I’ll tell you the best recommendations!”
”Hey, what are you deciding on your own? When I get to the barracks, I plan to hold a meeting—”
”You can still have a meeting even after eating, right? Come on, let’s go!”
Perhaps because he had met acquaintances after a long time, Gaadhir, who was in an unusually good mood, pulled Alex along as if dragging him, and the rest of the Shouhyou’s hand spear members, bewildered but following Gaadhir, headed after him. After seeing them off, I quickened my pace to head to the slaves who were waiting, likely to report on the progress of their tasks.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
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