"By the way, why's the marquis trying to keep old man Termin here?"
"Gukuku. You don't know eh. No of course you don't. Young miss has no idea why elder Termin is mad, while you've no clue why the marquis would be stumped if elder Termin went home. Gukukukuku. It's all so funny."
"Hold it. She said he'd take his disciples with him back. Is it because they'd be in trouble if the trade facility lost lots of their appraisers."
"He should only bring a few disciples from the capital. The trade facility may stumble a bit at first, but this town's got abundance of appraisers around. They'd find replacements in no time."
"Then is it cause that old man is someone influential? Like maybe he's got clout in the royal palace."
"Nah, can't be. The palace has their own noble appraisers, and even though elder Termin is famous, his skill is nothing more than a skill of the masses bluntly put."
"Elder Termin is an appraiser renowned for his craft at the capital. Marquis of Tsubolt summoned him here to Tsubolt for a six year period contract work. They can sell swords at higher prices in other territories if they have appraisal tags with elder Termin's name stamped, and the contract itself also has a clause for rearing young appraisers. Once the six year period is up, Tsubolt's young appraisers can claim themselves as Termin's disciples."
"He roped me into becoming his disciple too though."
"What? You can use <Appraisal>?"
"That's some curious skill you got. Did elder Termin teach you personally?"
"The old man just out of the blue told me to appraise, use wand, do preliminary casting, bad pronunciations, wrong way to stream mana, I even got shouted down as big moron."
"Gukukukuku. Sounds like a piece of work. Wish I was there to watch it. But you. You've got aptitude for appraisal eh."
"At least that's what the old man told me. Retire from adventuring and come work under me, guy said."
"Hou! It's the real deal then. But... what was it again?"
"A six year contract to work at Tsubolt."
"That's it. The elder is leaving with two years left in the contract period. What do you think. Ain't that bad?"
"That makes it sound like the old man violated the contract."
"It sure is. And in the process, seriously shaming the marquis for his failure to hold the contract."
"Sorry, not sure I follow."
"Listen well. Elder Termin is not a citizen of Tsubolt. He's the capital's. Marquis of Tsubolt extends his kindness to that citizen by entrusting him an important job. Elder Termin responds in kind by giving his utmost in the work entrusted until the period is up. Satisfied by his work, Marquis of Tsubolt rewards the elder generously. Belated by the reward, elder Termin goes back to the capital all while singing the praises of Marquis of Tsubolt's greatness. That is what was supposed to transpire."
"Fumu. Think I'm starting to get the picture."
"Yet elder Termin is returning to the capital while the contract period isn't over yet. Signifying how Marquis of Tsubolt has failed to keep elder Termin content despite being the one who requested his presence. A marquis who cannot even keep a mere appraiser content. Whaddya think. Huh? Ain't it funny. Laugh. Kukuku."
"What about the fact that the marquis made a false agreement, gave a false explanation to elder Termin, deceived adventurers and let him do an imaginary Secret Appraisal."
"As far as that one goes, sorry but I'm on young miss's side there. What you're telling her is simply inane. It's a trade facility under direct control of the marquis in his own territory. The thinking that any and all appraisal results there won't find their way to the marquis is ludicrous. Anyone could see that Secret Appraisal thing is a trap to prevent valuable Grace Gear getting out. Those who fell for it are the idiots here."
Lecan put down his cup on the table with a shocked look on his face. Loudly at that.
"Then the marquis won't lose face even if elder Termin goes back to the capital and claims that Marquis of Tsubolt has deceived him?
"Nah, he will. Very much so. He allowed an appraiser he summoned to go back in a huff. As I've told you, the marquis has to keep the elder he summoned content. That's his pride as a noble."
"Won't telling lies harm that pride as well?"
"Depends on the lies. How they administer their territory and how they hand down punishments are their prerogatives as that territory's ruler. Are you perhaps expecting a monarchical rule of law system like in Narum's? There ain't no rule of law in this world. At least, nothing that I've heard of."
"Then why didn't you stop my explanation back then?"
"Cause the young miss needed to hear those things. You spoke of how elder Termin felt. How an adventurer would feel. Exactly the stuff the young miss lacks. Rulers can rule how they want to. However, their rulings must take into consideration how the ruled feels. They must consider what the citizens desire, and what is it that'd make them content. Though there are times where you have to ignore those wants even after knowing. Let citizens' pent up anger fester long enough, and your reign falls. She's surely learned a bit on that."
Lecan digested the meaning of Zoltan's words.
"If that's how it must be, then they should have made elder Termin understood what Secret Appraisal is from the beginning."
"That's the issue here. I'm in the same opinion. 'Course they can't just blurt out that Secret Appraisal is a fraudulent scheme, but they should've hinted the elder that the marquis would be privy of the results. By doing thus, he would surely take that into account when detailing the service. And you're right on the money on this one, the elder's wrath is a result of having been unwittingly made an accomplice of a fraud."
"Who did the explaining to the old man anyway?"
"That'd be young miss officially speaking. But in reality, it's likely General Dungeon Administrative Office's representative, knight Torog's ploy."
"That guy's the ringleader huh."
"I believe so."
"What a skeevy guy."
"Incidentally, he's a grandkid of that knight commander who challenged me and lost."
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
Afterward, dinnertime guests came. They were met with a huge shock at the presence of the legendary hero Zoltan, which then turned into joy and opportunities to chat with him. Before long, Nark and Nell also joined and began reminiscing. Then the three <Grindam> members also got back, livening things up even further.
Zoltan walked home staggeringly at midnight.
Lecan spent the next day sleeping.
By daytime, he noticed how there were a lot more guests visiting the inn. As it turned out, they came to ask about how <Skeleton Ogre Zoltan> dropping by the inn.
The morning after, Lecan went out to <Brilliant Flower District>. Bought several pairs of shirts and trousers. Also a brand new belt hung <Box> to put magic stones in, since his old one's wrecked already.
The lunch was good.
But his mood suddenly changed for the worse after lunch.
Not sure why but he's feeling restless.
Lecan cut his shopping short and went back to his inn.
As he drew near <Rafin's Rock Terrace Inn>, he noticed how there's only one person inside.
A presence that's neither Nark nor Nell.
Not even once have the the two been absent at the same time.
He's got a bad feeling about this.
Just who's this person inside.
Feels like he's somewhat familiar with this individual.
But that's all he could gather.
As he reached for the door, Lecan realized how adept this person is.
Their presence is thin.
Very highly skilled.
Just who the heck.
Lecan opened the door.
The Chubby Spy is there.
He bowed with a kind smile on his face, but Lecan only stared back expressionlessly.
(Did he kidnap Nark and Nell?)
Chubby Spy presented something to Lecan.
"Someone has left this for you."
He tried to leave after handing the letter.
Lecan fired a <Flame Arrow> next to his foot.
"Halt. You stay there now."
Chubby Spy shrugged with an oh dear look in his eyes, but he nonetheless stood still.
While still vigilantly keeping a watch on Chubby Spy, Lecan cast his sight down at the back and surface of the envelope.
There's no address or sender.
He cast <Appraisal> and found no poison.
He opened the letter and read the content.
<Waiting on 121>
Written in the nostalgic characters of Lecan's original world.
[Episode 34 General Dungeon Chief Administrator Eliza] End/Next [Episode 35 Successor of Goncourt House]