|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3949 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1930 words|
When Karin and Ciel heard I had employed Maria they looked shocked at first, but when I told them her story they welcomed her with open arms. They probably knew the struggle of being low on money and worrying about how to earn their daily meals, back when they started off as adventurers. But Luvias showed the strongest reaction, disappointed in herself for being unaware there were people living in such conditions.
“The country is supposed to aid people like that. I can’t believe they did nothing to help the weak and the poor like her. As royalty, I feel ashamed hearing her story, but I don’t have enough authority to do anything about it. However, I still bear some responsibility, it’s not just Count Grom’s.”
“You say that, but I don’t think you should blame yourself considering you don’t have much authority in your position.”
“That’s true. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be held accountable. I’m royalty, and even if I was only royalty in name, it was still partly my fault that this happened. We all live directly from the taxes paid by the common folk after all.”
I thought it was commendable of her to think that way. But most nobility seemed to think that the common folk are their servants and should bend under their will. They really could learn a thing or two from Luvias. I know Grom was working hard to make the city a better place, but the world was simply too complex for that. For every successful person, there was always someone else whose life just went downhill. That’s just how life is.
As we agreed, Maria showed up the next morning to work. I gave her a spare key so she could come and go as she saw fit, as well as a few gold coins so she could go shopping when needed. She looked like a trustworthy person who would never pocket that money for herself.
Since more people would be eating here now, we got a larger table. Maria and Rina would be eating with our party from time to time, so a circular table that would fit around seven people seemed appropriate. We were currently sitting at the table, eagerly waiting for Maria to finish cooking.
Our mornings were really hectic, so it was hard to really come together, but we decided we would have dinner together with Maria and Rina. I knew that if Maria went back home after finishing her work here, Rina could end up waiting a long time hungry, so it was best if Rina came with her in the afternoon. That way I could also make sure that both of them were eating enough and recovering from the poor nutrition they had before.
“I hope it is to your liking…”
Maria humbly placed large plates on the table. There were many chicken thighs with a fragrant scent wafting off them on the plates, decorated with some colorful vegetables. She also served cups with fruit juice that looked very appetizing. That was a dish that seemed more fitting in the Golden Wheat Pavilion rather than the home of an adventurer.
“Wow! It looks so good!”
“I know, it looks just like something Rio would serve.”
“It smells so nice…did you use herbs to season the chicken?”
“Yes, I thought the chicken would be a little bland without them.”
“I can’t wait to try it!”
Karin and the others were very excited when they saw the plates, even Rina who was still growing could barely contain herself. With everyone seated at the table, we all quickly began eating. The chicken thighs were juicy and flavorful liquids were squeezed out when they were cut, making as good of a spectacle for the eyes as the nose. As we brought pieces of it to our mouths, the taste turned out to be even better than expected.
“This is good!”
“Amazing…are you sure you’ve never worked as a cook before?”
“I know, right? I wouldn’t mind paying a lot in a restaurant for something like this.”
“It’s truly incredible. I can’t believe you can cook this well without learning from a good chef.”
“Oh please…you’re exaggerating now.”
With every bite came new praises, which made Maria turn red. She never had the opportunity to cook for someone else in her past jobs, so she probably had never heard so much praise sent her way. I looked at Rina, expecting her to be proud of having a mother like that, but she was so entranced by the food she could not even talk. That was endearing in a way. She had been raised on a simple diet, so this was also a new experience for her, which made me let her eat just as well every day from now on.
Once that enjoyable meal was over, Maria cleaned everything and returned to her home.
“Bye bye everyone! See you tomorrow!”
“Take care on your way back.”
Rina waved her hand energetically, while her mom respectfully bowed before leaving. I waved back at them and watched as they went on their way. The suburbs I lived in were pretty safe at night, so I was sure they would get home safely. And while Maria looked somewhat frail, she had a sharp eye for danger. Living for many years in a dangerous neighborhood honed that skill, so I did not worry too much about them.
The next morning we all went to our respective jobs in high spirits. It was hard to believe just how much one’s mood could change just by having a good meal. With Maria taking care of the house, we had no reason to slack off at work.
“Good morning Lapis, you look really energetic today.”
“Did something good happen yesterday?”
“Well, I guess you can put it that way.”
Camille and Miranda had arrived earlier than me. I started apologizing for leaving work early and placing a heavier burden on them, but then told them what happened and they both seemed happy I decided to help Maria.
“That was really sweet of you. You pretty much rescued that family!”
“Yeah, you really are such a nice person.”
“It’s nothing that big. Sure I did help them, but I was also thinking we really needed someone taking care of the house.”
“You don’t have to be embarrassed about it!”
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Camille laughed as she patted my back, which I took with a forced smile. I truly did want to hire someone to take care of the house though.
§ § §
When Lapis told us she had hired Maria it came as a surprise to all of us, but when we heard their story we all agreed it was a good idea. The town I was born and raised in was also rather poor, though not to the extent of Maria’s life. Still, it was enough to get an idea of how she must have lived, and it was just like Lapis to go out of her way to help someone like that. But as a result the rest of us also got to eat a really good dinner, and every night we would be able to sleep on clean sheets, so it was the best for both parties.
“Karin, did you find any good requests yet?”
“Just don’t pick one that’s too far away. I want to be home for Maria’s dinner.”
We were looking at the bulletin board in the adventurer’s guild, Ciel and Diaria standing to my side. Lapis was also there, though she was working behind the reception desk.
“We should get a hunting one. It’s about time we improve our rank.”
Ciel and I were already part of the hero’s party, but as adventurers our rank was still stuck at a silver level. Our actual power was probably already beyond gold, but we had been training more than working, so our rank had not improved at all.
I had heard that getting a higher rank could change an adventurer’s life drastically. There were many stores with ties to the guild that offered special discounts for gold rank adventurers, and some requests with large rewards could only be taken by those with a high rank. But more importantly, being a higher rank improved our social standing, which was important so the hero’s party could be taken seriously.
“I just need to clean up after you two and I’ll rank up just as quickly, so time to leech off~”
“You’re just lucky you were chosen as hero.”
The guild had made an exception and granted Zelvis’ hero, Diaria, a silver rank as soon as she registered as an adventurer. She was the hero of a country so she was more powerful than a bronze rank adventurer, but there would be a sea of complaints if she was given a gold rank, so silver was a nice compromise. Either way, we were happy for her, it would have been sad if she was the only member in the party being a rank behind after all.
Either way, if we chose our next request carefully our rank would go up. Hunting requests were usually very easy to fulfill, so they were our first pick.
“Ah, how about this one?”
“Show me, show me.”
We all piled around a request, reading the small text describing what we had to hunt.
“Our targets are fire lizards, number unknown, they’ve damaged livestock and plantations, many sightings by the villagers so there’s multiple of them. The request was filed by the Nodo village’s chief, located close to the Haunted Lands. The reward is ten gold coins, and more details will be given by the chief.”
“Fire lizards, huh…”
“Those can be a bit dangerous.”
Fire lizards, basically giant geckos. They have sharp claws and fangs, and their scales are very thick and resistant, making them immune to weak attacks. Their claws and fangs are also loaded with venom, so beginner adventurers usually never survive an encounter., and even an iron rank adventurer would have a rough time defeating one. Then there was their defining trait and the reason for their name, they could spout fire. They had a special organ that produced a flammable oil, which they could spit and lit with their claws, throwing flames as far as ten meters away. A real threat when not handled correctly.
“The fact that there’s multiple of them makes it a bit sketchy…”
“But the reward is really big.”
“Yeah, true. Even if we go through a gold coin preparing for the trip, that will still mean a profit of three gold coins per person. I guess we could give it a try?”
Ciel and Diaira were both on board, so there was no real reason for me to refuse.
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“Let’s go then. It’s a bit far if it’s around the border with the Haunted Lands, so we won’t be able to eat Maria’s food, but I guess we can live without her for some time.”
“Mm…we got no option I guess.”
“Let’s just leave that to celebrate when we come back.”
The target was a powerful monster, but it was still somewhat manageable by silver rank adventurers so we were allowed to take it. The three of us should be plenty to take care of them, and while I still felt slightly uneasy about it, we still took the request page and went to the desk where Lapis was working hard.