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Chapter 11: I’ll Pick My 3-Stars (6)
A crowd gathered before the Adventurer’s Guild, all discussing one thing.
“Why is that scoundrel Scion here?”
“Is he here to pick a fight with the guild? Maybe he came out to drink and heard people badmouthing him!”
“Then he would have caused a scene right there!”
The Scion of Permarten.
Why would that man leave the castle?
And so early at that.
“What’s happening here?”
Asked a woman with purple eyes and white hair down to her waist.
“Ah, the Scion of Permarten’s here– Eek?!”
The young man, who didn’t notice her presence, looked at her and shrieked.
“She isn’t a maiden! She’s a virgin!”
“What are you saying?! Just say, ‘Sword Maiden!’”
And there she was, the one they call ‘Sword Maiden,’ glaring at the group in front of her.
“I’m asking again, what’s happening before the guild?”
“Anyone would react like that if the ‘Sword Saint’ of the 50th-floor exploration team suddenly snuck up on them.”
A blond, rugged man walked up to the female knight.
“It’s the ‘Gold Tanning Sun’...!”
“Hey, don’t call people by their nicknames when they’re in front of you. I have a name, ‘Jackson.’”
The man named Jackson shifted his black tinted glasses with his middle finger and clenched his teeth.
“What’s happening at the guild?”
“Ah, um… that’s…”
“The Scion of Permarten is talking with the guildmaster.”
”What? That scoundrel? Hey, what do you think, ‘Sword Saint?’”
“Why does it matter what I think?”
The silver-haired knight glared at Jackson.
“I’m not a saint either.”
“...Just a swordswoman.”
“Is that so? All right, ‘Beauty of the Sword.’”
“You’re not listening to me at all.”
The guild door creaked open.
A blond man in a white suit emerged from the doors, leading his servants out with a frown.
“What’s with his hair? Did he copy me?”
“It’s different. Yours is short, but he left the top and shaved the sides.”
“Really? Hm… It looks good. If I do it, will people say I copied him?”
The female knight looked at the Scion.
“Something’s… different about him.”
“The Scion usually has his hands in his pockets, hunched down.”
“Hmm… Since when did you become an expert on the Scion’s gait?”
“...I’ve seen him here and there. I’m only interested in The Sword and the Infinite Labyrinth. Let’s head inside.”
The knight gestured inside, and Jackson moved past the crowd with his arms as he waded in.
“Hey, old man. Why was the Scion here?”
“...You’ve returned safely.”
“Of course. The 50th floor is nothing to us. Anyway, what’s happening?”
“He has enlisted our services.”
Bernhardt pointed at the notice board.
“The Scion personally requested this mission. Read it for yourself.”
“What is this? …Adventurers needed for labyrinth farming? What does this mean?”
“So he’s looking for adventurers to find items?”
“That’s right, Serika.”
The silver-haired knight smiled at the guildmaster.
“And what items is he looking for?”
“Yes. The Scion is looking for… ‘12 gemstones.’”
Bernhardt looked at the notice board and smacked his lips.
“He’s looking for 12 unique gemstones within the labyrinth and will reward those who can bring what he wants. He tells me he intends to hire these adventurers directly under the Permartens.”
“Yes. They’re supposedly different from normal magic stones. Why? Are you interested?”
“...Worried rather than interested.”
“The fact that the Permartens are directly hiring people again. If the treason alarmists hear about this…”
Jackson shrieked after seeing the notice board.
“Isn’t he… hiring people under the pretense of looking for gemstones?! What if the Empire sends troops here again?!”
“...There’s one right there.”
Serika shook her head at Jackson’s fussy attitude.
“You don’t think the Permartens hiring gemstone collectors will be seen as an act of revolt, right Guildmaster?”
Serika picked up on the slight pause and frowned.
“It’s a bit awkward to tell you this…
“But you’ll tell me anyway, right?”
“...Those gem collectors won’t be regular adventurers.”
“I knew it! Damn. If the Empire comes back here and tries to close off the labyrinth…”
“They’re fitting models.”
Serika and Jackson couldn’t believe their ears.
“Yeah. The Scion is looking for gemstones and models worthy of those gemstones. Look below.”
“Conditions… Attractive female adventurers? Haa… Is this…”
“So he’s trying to find precious stones for his future wife? I’m guessing he wants fitting models and will make them wear whatever he wants? So, human mannequins. Hehe. And his favorite will be his wife… Hehe.”
“I guess he’s finally thinking about descendants…”
Jackson scratched the back of his neck.
“The pay looks good… Hey, Serika, this won’t work for you, right? Since you’re the ‘Sword Maiden’.”*
“I’m not a maiden nor a saint. I have a question, Guildmaster.”
Serika raised her hand to point at the girl standing behind Bernhardt.
“Is she new?”
“She is. Serika, there’s another request from the Scion. Do you want to hear it?”
“Yeah. It concerns…”
“Why didn’t you bring that blonde girl with you, Sir Scion?”
Sir Lambert asked, following closely behind.
He’s been around since the previous Earl, and while he’s a Knight under the Permartens, his loyalties lie with the Empire.
An Empire’s dog.
He’s a traitor who’s willing to slash my neck as soon as he receives the news of the Empire getting its hands on another Permarten.
“The blonde girl?”
Lambert isn’t the only one who has faltering loyalties, but I have no choice but to smile in front of them.
“That girl who was squatting down at the guild’s entrance.”
“A girl…? She’s an adult, though.”
Isn’t it weird to call a fully grown woman a girl?
She had a more petite frame than most, but she didn’t deserve to be called a girl.
“She’s fully capable of taking care of herself. It’s rude to call someone like that a ‘girl.’”
I know I shouldn't be hostile with such people, but I won't let him call her a girl.
Considering what I plan to do with her, my conscience won’t allow it.
“I’ll employ her, but she only has one life. As long as I can’t personally enter the labyrinth, I’ve asked the guildmaster to find her a suitable mentor.”
“Yes. I don’t want someone I’ve hired to die on the third floor of the labyrinth. How can I let someone die that quickly? Who knows how deep it’ll be?”
I told Bernhardt my true intentions but needed a public guise to create my bunny girl cosplay knights.
“Gemstones… Do you mean the magic stones from the labyrinth? Or something more special… More powerful?”
Maybe I’m digging too deep into this, but this is what I’m hearing.
Are you trying to find a powerful magic stone to forge a great weapon? Some type of clockwork automation a humanoid that fights for the Permartens? This needs to be stopped!
Maybe it’s Louie’s subconscious premonition or my knowledge about this world, but it feels like everyone’s out to get me.
Hopefully, it’s just paranoia.
For now, I can’t trust anything or anyone.
“Magic stone? I can buy whatever I want. What I’m looking for are pretty sparkly gemstones. Precious stones for my future wife.”
I’ll act as a fool.
That way, nobody will suspect me.
“12 gemstones of different colors! I’ll have them made into accessories. How beautiful would it be? To make love to someone wearing different colored gems for each month of the year?”
“Uhm… by 12 gems… You don’t mean 12 different women, right…?”
“Are you making 12 rings?”
“...I was going to make 12 rings for one person.”
He’s a total womanizer.
He eventually gets found out and publicly humiliated, but I don’t care.
Only a male 2-star.
Honestly, I couldn’t care less about him.
“Well, I’ll keep what you said in mind. 12 women. Ahem… That sounds… exhilarating.”
Twelve fully maxed out 5-star girls.
Just thinking about it is…
Obviously, I’d need 12 legendary stones for that.
“Well then, Scion. Should we start making our way back to the castle…?”
“I still have another place to visit.”
“The magic tower.”
I pointed at the giant tower erected on the flat earth.
“I need to find a ‘witch’ to tutor me.”
*TLN: The Korean word for ‘maiden’ means something closer to an adolescent girl rather than the generic English maiden.
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