Intermission: The Tale of Sir Pendragon
My ears caught the talk about him from the grumbles of some eternally Bronze explorers in the bar.
That young noble man became a Red Iron explorer after his first labyrinth exploration, it was of doubtful credibility but they told me that they heard it from guild staff when I treated them to some drink.
I decided to meet the guild staff member who told them the story in order to collect the increasingly more credible gossip.
Sorry for the late introduction, I'm someone who survives by reciting the tales of explorers and heroes in the labyrinth city, Barido the minstrel.
Whether this becomes a new heroic tale or a comedic show depends on his deeds. Now then, wonder how will this turn out....
◇Testimony from a certain guild staff member◇
"Yeah I know them, the 『Pendragon』 bunch right?"
An acquaintance guild staff member that I met in the staff bar easily told me the name of their party.
When I inquired him more, he asserted that the rumor saying that [Pendragon] acquired the Red Iron plates after exploring the labyrinth once was true.
Looks like the liquor makes the other staff members' lips loose, several of them start talking about it to me.
"The leader is a young nobleman."
"Yeah, he seemed to be rich; some beautiful women, girls and little girls were serving him."
"The main force seemed to be demi-human battle slaves, some beastkins and a scalekin."
"There was an unattractive maid too right?"
"They said the beautiful girl and little girl were magicians."
Having two magicians in a party is quite extravagant. In exchange they don't seem to have a priest, so it's probably a party that makes use of the demi-humans to be the disposable damage sponge.
The story about how they brought 100 Magic Cores back after their first labyrinth exploration supports that guess.
By the staff members' request, I play the lute to sing the [Great Exploit of Dozon-sama], and the [Crimson Young Noble's Hydra Extermination].
Still, [Pendragon] huh... to use the name of a fictional hero like this, they have some good taste.
◇First-hand account of certain beautiful explorers◇
"Yes I know him, he saved us in the labyrinth after all."
"Is he strong you ask? He was amazing, he sliced that hard Maze Ant right in two with a single swing of his sword."
"It was an expensive looking sword wasn't it."
"Yeah, it was a pretty sword."
Even if I only take half of their story about how Pendragon saved them when they were being chased by dozens of Maze Ants, it's quite enough to be a heroic tale.
The aforementioned sword the girls talked about seems to be an excellent mithril sword made by the dwarven master craftsman, Elder Dohar.
I see, it's no wonder he could slice the Maze Ants in half with such an excellent sword.
◇Testimony of certain baggage carriers◇
"Chevalier-sama? He gave me work! Cleaning and weeding!"
"He let me ate a lot of delicious meal!"
"I also ate! It was amazing!"
It seems he employed the baggage caarries who didn't get any work to clean and weed his newly bought mansion.
They spoke truly happily about how he treated the starving them until they were full.
They also told me about how he treated the children who were looking for works in front of the gate with good food.
It'd be nice if he's a charitable person like Dozon-shi, but.... I'm slightly worried since there's a rumor about him having little children who are not of age as his mistresses.
◇Testimony of certain maids◇
"Ehehe, it's nice isn't it? These are work clothes you know?"
"Un, Chevalier-sama gave it to us. It was a reward when we became full-fledged maids."
The young maids' smiles are dazzling.
However, looking at the sewing and the fabric, they must be quite expensive. Usually,, maids have to bring their own clothes each. It's very rare for the master to buy them the clothes like in this mansion.
I've heard that he's rich, but I'm interested just where does he gets his fortune from.
"Eh? Who introduced us?"
"There wasn't anything like introduction."
"We had been saved when we were dying in the mansion's stable."
What! Even if they're just honorary, nobles normally only employ people from fitting houses as live-in employees.
To hire uneducated baggage carriers, and even some dying children after healing them as his employees....
Many people who had heard this story gossiped that he had some ulterior motives to save the girls, but my intuition as a minstrel tells me that's not it.
The proof is these girls' smiles. There isn't anyone who will smile that brightly if they're abused.
◇First-hand account of certain middle-class explorers◇
"I think 『Pendragon』 will obtain the Mithril Plate sooner or later."
The ones speaking are the middle-class explorer who had gone to the labyrinth deep in an expedition, and his friends.
"It was amazing you know, we were in a desperate situation, being surrounded by the Maze Cockroaches all around us. Right at that time, his retainers appeared and killed the Maze Cockroaches one after another."
"That was really amazing huh. I say those girls must have used magic swords since they easily cut through the slippery crust of the Maze Cockroaches."
Fumu, not only the Chevalier-dono himself, his servants even have magic swords huh.
It's probably possible with his vast wealth, though...
"However, the real thing was after that."
"I thought I had died when a huge 『Hunter Mantis』 reared its ugly face from the Gushing Hole."
There are a lot of mantis monsters in the labyrinth, but if we're talking about [Hunter Mantis], it's a monster that only Red Iron explorers can handle.
Moreover, those explorers will surely escape if they encounter it unexpectedly.
Because it's an opponent that you challenge only after you're certain with the victory by investigating the terrain thoroughly and preparing various elaborate tools and traps beforehand.
"I understand your surprise. Far from stepping back, those little girls overwhelmed the 『Hunter Mantis』 from the beginning to end."
"I thought that was the last I gonna saw 『Pendragon』 bunch who chased after the 『Hunter Mantis』 that plunged into the Gushing Hole."
Entering a Gushing Hole willingly, unbelievable.
Since there's some rumor saying that Gushing Holes are places connected to the Underworld where the Demon God governs. There isn't actually anyone who's gone to the Underworld, but it's the 'Truth' that's been spoken since a long time ago.
Yet, according to their story, the [Pendragon]'s boys and girls returned safely.
I want to ask those girls just what kind of good luck were they blessed with, but during the creation of a heroic tale, it'd become rubbish if I don't save talking with the people themselves for the last.
--I have to be patience.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned Chevalier-dono didn't participate in the fight.
It's said that he and the maid who's accompanying him rarely ever enter the labyrinth, instead, only the girls beside them usually challenge the labyrinth.
I wonder what's he doing when he's not entering the labyrinth?
◇In a mansion of a certain noble◇
"What do think, it's wonderful right? I was given this when I went to the Marchioness's tea party."
The Baroness shows a ring with a small agate yet splendid design on her finger.
The minute craftsmanship enhances the beauty.
I don't know if this was the work of a master craftsman, but with such an achievement, it must be expensive.
"His maid is very good at cooking you know?"
"You can't eat other cakes anymore once you eat the castella."
"That soft gentle sweetness, it's truly a miracle."
I'm interested with this castella that has such high praises from these picky wives, but
it seems I know very well the person who makes the thing that the wives covet. Nevertheless, there sure are many talented people working under him.
He must've hired varying kind of people with his enormous wealth.
I was also able to hear the story from the Marchioness with Baroness's reference.
I seemed to be viewed as a suspicious person who was sniffing around her favorite Chevalier, so I was warned that I would be treated as an enemy if I had a malicious intent beforehand.
I don't know what kind of hands did he use to win her favor, but he seems to not only have the brute force, but also excels at politics to be able to make the one who's controlling the noble society in the labyrinth city become his supporter like this.
He should have sought marriage with the Marchioness's third or fourth daughter if he wished for rank, but it doesn't seem to be the case.
I can't simply swallow the story of a sly old fox like her though....
I was able to hear some stories from the employees when I was leaving the Marquis's mansion.
As one would expect from employees of the influential Marquis house, they're wearing coral accessories that are quite rare in labyrinth city.
"Do you mean this? We got it from the Madam."
She quietly whispered to my ear that they were given by the Marchioness, but they were originally presents from Chevalier Pendragon-sama for the Marchioness.
Also, whenever he comes for a tea party, it seems he never forgets to bring baked and honey cakes for the employees.
Someone usually does so in order--to hear bad rumor of their master--with it as the compensations, but it seems he only asked, "Please get along well with our maid."
His maid also only inquired impressions of the cakes from them, she never asked any rumor about the marquis family.
I wonder what is he aiming with his deeply laid plan...
◇In a mansion of a certain noble◇
"Fuhn, that black-haired brat will rouse rebellion to usurp this labyrinth city someday."
After ending up in the salon while looking for someone who didn't have good will toward Chevalier Pendragon, I heard such story from a noble who's at the prime of his life.
"He gathers the poor with money, gives them weapons, and then throws them into the labyrinth. He makes the survivors his soldiers, he must be gathering power to revolt against the kingdom!"
His words have no proof and substance but I feel some strange persuasive power in it.
The [poor who are thrown into the labyrinth] are probably the rumored organization of the Chevalier, [Pendora].
I'll try going to the training school he's established to get in touch with those [Pendora].
I peek at the training school from the shadow, and just as the noble earlier has feared, they're practicing in a systematic order like an army would.
"Don't forget your role! The three spear users stab from the sides of the two shield-bearers! The scout doesn't need to participate in the battle. Devote yourself in checking the surrounding so that the other five can safely concentrate on the enemies!"
The instructors who are acting as the monsters are giving directions to the six trainee.
There are three groups of people who are doing the same kind of training in the courtyard. It seems there are also some instructors who aren't participating in the training, maybe they're for surprise attacks.
My heart had almost stopped from the sudden voice and cold sensation on my neck.
A catkin girl who's wearing some curious pink clothes that's appeared out of nowhere is holding a short sword against my neck.
I'm weak in battles, but good at sensing presences.
Yet I didn't notice her at all....
"Stop, he's just a minstrel."
I thought that my heart would really leap out of my mouth this time.
Before I knew it, a hand that's appeared from behind me pinches the short sword with its slender fingers.
When I timidly turned my head, there was the figure of the smiling Chevalier Pendragon.
He apologized for the catkin girl's impoliteness and told me to ask for permission from the office if I wanted to observe the training.
Still, just when did he appear?
--Perhaps, from the beginning?
I turned toward the direction he was walking, but no one was there.
Yet, his bottomless smile remained in my mind forever.
I wonder if the day when I sing his story will come.
As if scolding my timid heart, I pat the lute I hold in my chest.
Right now I understand the feeling of a knight who's facing off a dragon.
I am Barido, a reckless minstrel of the labyrinth city. Someday, I will surely spin a tale that'll be handed down to the future generations.
The name of that tale is--