Chapter 4 – Great Noble’s Elf Hunt ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ (Part 1)
Getting through the slums which were literally a garbage dumpーーthe area where maggots and flies appear, Junpei reached the part of the town that the receptionist lady told.
The human resource office other than the adventurer’s guildーーthe Thousand Hands Society alias the underground guild, has its branch erected in the area which was a little far away from the city’s center. The structures and buildings which are aligned in around this area are fancy stores and restaurants managed by rich merchants.
It is the underground guild which has an image of outlaws and would do anything for money because of taking jobs in the gray zone, but whereabouts of the branch here in this citadel of Manakis is in a first class district.
The reason is very simple and clear, it is nothing needed to be mentioned but, compensation is needed for dark and ill desires. The client would promise a hefty reward for that.
ーーin short, money is needed.
Within the back alley where three floored and four floored buildings are aligned, there was a chic wooden building with brown and black color as a base releasing a distinct, unique atmosphere. Compared to the adventurer’s guild, it would even feel high class.
*Gokuri*, Junpei swallowed, then opened the door.
「I see……it’s double door huh」
When he opened the first door, it was a narrow, long room the size of a 6-tatami room. And ahead of that, there was another door.
Beside the second door, there was a white-haired man wearing butler clothes on standby.
The man smiled kindly towards Junpei.
「Welcome, customer……is what I would have like to say, but this is not a place a boy would come to. I suggest for you to leave right away……」
“Hmph”, Junpei made a pleasant smile.
「I would also prefer that, but my situation isn’t that great you know. It’s just that, this is the only place left that I can rely on」
“Hmm……”, thinking of something, the butler made an indescribable troubled face.
「Knowing what kind of place this is, and still could not help to visit……you say. It seems like you have a lot of hardships even though you are young. Well, if you insist then……please pass through」
Nodding lightly, Junpei passed through the side of the butler and opened the door.
And when he entered the room, he rolled his eyes and made a smile.
「With a glance……the outside appearance looked decent so……I was worried how would it be, but……. with a meaning, I’m relieved」
The lobby that has the size of about a 30-tatami room had the distinct smell of mandragoraーーit is a variant, so it is currently unregulatedーーwhich actually fills the room.
And that smell, it would be most probably, coming from the lounge room that could be seen at the corner.
As a proof for that, the dangerous looking guys whose eyes has “gone” and high, were cheerfully drinking alcohol and had cigarettes in their mouth.
Not minding all of that, Junpei glanced at the papers posted at the aligned white board inside the room.
Butchering Animal Meat (Negotiable)
Transportation・Sales of Mandragora for Alchemy Experimentation (Negotiable)
Slave Hunting and Management (Negotiable)
Each one of them, it was clearly far away from the estimation of rewards that could be seen in the adventurer’s guild.
Or rather, each of them has exceptional rewards.
Negotiable means……they are nominally taking applicants for butchering animal meat, but in actual reality, they are probably for something not good like……taking care of human corpses.
“No, maybe……”, and there, Junpei felt lightheaded. He might be forced to manufacture the corpse of someone he knows nothing of with good for nothing reasons, and might even have to butcher it.
“Anyways, they aren’t going to be good……”, while thinking of that, Junpei walked towards the counter in the back.
「……on what business did you come for? Unfortunately, if you are just merely looking……I am very sorry but, can I ask you to leave?」
It is unknown if it’s natural hair or dyed hair, the white-hairedーーno, silver-haired. It was a thin, pale-skinned girl having a red colored left eye and wearing an eyepatch on the right eye.
She’s probably in her late teens, and it would seem like she has quite the hobby very like “that”, and her a skull and rose tattoo around her right neck was very impressive.
「I want to work……no, more specifically, I want an identification card」
“Fuu〜”, letting out a sigh, the receptionist seem to have thought of something, then opened her lips which were colored by a violet rouge.
「……the branches of the organization called underground guild exceeds a hundred in the whole worldーーand most of the individuals who have registered there……they had stopped being human, and they are all good for nothing bastards……. do you understand those circumstances?」
「Yeah, well, it seems so」
「……and, us……the Thousand Hands Society would really only guarantee the least minimum level of identity. Right now, it would only be the proof of address, but……even so, there is a limit to the capacity」
And there, Junpei interrupted.
「I somehow get it. The underground guild is being used much for the gray zone……you mean it like that right? It is because it is convenient for rich people and those who are in powers, that this gray zone could continue to exist. However……」
The eye patch silver haired girl smiled impressed.
「……that is exactly it. It means that……for the individuals who registered in the Thousand Hands Society……it would be troublesome if they were too unruly. For the exalted personalities, they would be no meaning if we are not tamed dogs. If one would become, literally a crazy dog that cannot be managed……it would be immediately destroyed」
Making a serious face, Junpei asked.
「That is why, there are many shackles. There are also a lot of restrictions to the various kinds of rights given to you, and there are also rules, right……? And……about making a proof of identity, what would happen?」
「……normally, you would need to wait for days to months until there is a free spot, but you are lucky. Just earlier, a corpse of a member of the Thousand Hands Society has been delivered」
「A corpse delivered……? You mean like……there was an accident during the job or something?」
*Kokuri*, the eye patch girl nodded.
「……the cause of death is, an incident during the management of slave workers in a farm」
「What do you mean?」
「Management of slave workers……it is a work that……even if forced, and even if some slaves are lost……well, there would be no problem, as long as the quota is reached……it is that kind of job」
「In short, he has been killed by a slave worker who conspired……it is something like that. It seems like he had pushed them so much that he has been hated so much as well, so when he was carried into the Thousand Hands Society, he was like a meat chunk」
Hearing up to that, Junpei placed a hand on his chin, and made a sullen face.
To Junpei who had become quiet, the silver haired receptionist asked casually.
「……all of the work that is mediated here, all of them has high danger risks……did you become afraid?」
Without answering to that question, Junpei tilted his head.
「Rather than it, being dangerous, about that job……that person who accepted, he’s a discarded pawn in the first place, I mean……he was probably a scapegoat for the owner, to give the slaves something to vent their anger right? It’s something like a russian roulette, waiting for someone to get the short end of the stick」
In the eyes whose other eye brow twitched, there were the colors of surprise mixed in.
「……why do you think so?」
「Sacrificial pieces like us, after all, should be used as a sacrifice. The hefty rewards probably also include that. With just something like an on-site supervision, you would pay such a high price, it’s just like……you’re saying something’s fishy. If you calculate back from that, well, you can easily imagine」
Ignoring the girl who had shut up, Junpei took out a cloth back from his pocket.
「Even if I’m a bit off, I’ve guessed quite correctly right? And so, how much is the underground guild’s registration fee?」
After thinking about something, the receptionist regained herself composure, and opened her mouth.
「……it would be 1 gold coin. There would be no less」
「1 gold coin for just registering……? What a scam」
「……of course, we are taking advantage of you. In other words, we know quite well, that……the people who would fall into such place are people who do not have any other choices」
「I knew that you’re taking advantage, but……isn’t it a rare case, for someone who has fallen this low to be able to pay that money?」
「……there would be no discount for the registration fee. However, you can put it on your tab……borrowing money would be fine」
“I see”, Junpei nodded, and continued his words.
「Most probably, it would have a very high interest rate……borrowed money would be better for you guys rather than cash huh. After all……you can also control the registered members all you want, with just the interest on their debts」
The receptionist raised her hands as if to show resignation.
「……can I ask you something? Why did someone as intelligent as you, fall into such a place?」
Junpei answered with a grin.
「Well, a lot had happened. I mean, you’re a receptionist here, you probably know a lot of examples, of guys who lost their lives after being a curious cat right?」
「……I will take back my question. Please excuse me」
「It’s good that you understand quickly」
And there she started to add as if she had just remembered.
「……also, after you have paid the registration fee, you will need to receive a request that we have chosen. After clearing that mission, you would become a new member of the Thousand Hands Society」
「A request you chose?」
「……it is fine to think of it as a test. And of course, if it was judged that you are inappropriate to become a member of the Thousand Hands Guild, you will be dropped. If so, the registration fee you have paid would be returned」
「I want to ask another thing. Why would you give job before registering?」
「……to find out the minimum ability to complete requests. If it is you though, there should be no problem to tell the truthーーeven if they would be in debt, we would need to find out whether they are someone who can be exploited. And also, to simply look at the cooperativeness and the minimum compliance. Although it would be the worst proof of identity with just the proof of residence……we will guarantee your identity after all……」
「I see, huh. I got it. And so……the specific procedure, what should I do?」
「First would be signing the debtーー」
Opening the drawer below the counter, the receptionist started to search through the files.
「There’s no need」
Junpei took out 1 gold coin from his pocket, and dropped it on top of the counter.
「……really, I wonder who in the world you are?」
「I just said earlier, you shouldn’t pry out too much, right?」
“Not at all”, the receptionist shook her head.
「……honestly, we would tie down the members using debts. We would exploit them using the interest. And, with that as an underlining, we will make loyalty……no, it would be better to say that we would hold onto their reins. Well, we will rule them」
“Hmm”, Junpei nodded lightly.
「……and, if so, in cases of individuals like you, it would be an exception?」
「You mean by exception is?」
「……just earlier, just like you have said, it would be a rare case for people who have fallen this deep to be able to pay in cash immediately」
「Well, yeah, that should be the case」
「……in short, individuals like you who are able to pay the full amount, there is a need to accept a special test before registering」
Junpei narrowed his eyebrows dubiously.
「……please wait for a while」
The receptionist stood up then, and went inside the office.
After a while, she came back holding a tray with a cup and two plates on it.
With the tray placed on top of the table counter in the middle, Junpei and the receptionist stared at each other.
「……well then, here is one tablet of a lethal dose wolf’s bane pill」
Pointing at one plate, the receptionist smiled kindly.
Junpei was petrified for a while with a stunned expression……then asked.
Receiving Junpei’s look, the receptionist smiled kindly once again.
「……and here is one tablet of the antidote pill」
And as expected, after he got petrified again, Junpei asked again.
「……I am going to test your courage. It just means……you would pass if you drank the two at once at the same time. If you have any other questionsーー」
Without waiting for the receptionist to finish speaking, Junpei picked up the two tablets in the two plates and placed it into his mouth.
*BoriBori*, he chewed them.
And the water in the cup, *GokuGoku*, he drank.
The receptionist whose eyes were widened and absent-minded, for some reason, she was opening and closing her mouth.
After a few seconds, she finally opened her mouth with a panicked expression.
After a breath’s time, Junpei asked mischievously.
「There isn’t any poison right? It would be troublesome after all if anyone dies here……. but even so, your gates are opened for all kinds of rough individuals, and so, it would be bad for the image if you refuse them without any reasons. Troublesome individuals who can pay cash immediately, you’d make them fail by using a guts test as an excuse……well, I guess that it’s probably like that」
The receptionist who had finished listening to Junpei’s words unhappily, said as if to spit out.
「……this is the first time. For someone who would drink it without listening to the explanation until the end…… I was planning on threatening you, saying things continuously……but, oh really……」
The receptionist searched for something under the table counter.
After a while, the copper plate and one piece of paper that she took out were placed on the table.
「This is a provisional member plate of the Thousand Hands Society. Please fill out the required information in this paper」
Junpei puts the copper plate inside his pocket, and smiled wryly.
ーーwell, I have All Status Ailments Resistance, so, seriously, there wouldn’t have been any problems if there was really poison.