The Gold’s Assessed Value
「Color me surprised.」the Thieves Guild manager said, wiping the sweat from his forehead.「I didn’t expect you to actually find it.」
Ten days had passed since Hikaru returned to Gordon. The manager had been introduced to him by Kelbeck. The man had known Kelbeck for years, apparently making him absolutely trustworthy.
He was a sweaty, plump man, with a fair complexion, as if he ate good food on a regular basis. At first glance, he looked like a merchant who had dealings with nobles.
Much better than someone skinny and greedy, I guess.
After returning to Gordon with the pack of wyverns, Hikaru immediately informed the man about the location of the mountain tribe’s settlement. He also included a detailed map.
He looked at the boy in disbelief, but since Kelbeck personally introduced him, he sent a skilled scout to check the place. When he learned that the village was actually there, he once again, wore a look of disbelief.
After assessing the value of the remaining gold, the Thieves Guild gathered their manpower to transport the gold. Since it would take more than a month to haul everything, Hikaru asked to get paid in advance.
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「The total amount of gold converted into imperial gold coins is…」The manager swallowed.「60,000 pieces, equivalent to 600 million gilans. Actually it’s a bit higher than that, but we’ve undervalued it because the value of gold would drop if such a large amount suddenly appeared on the market.」
「But you’re gonna store it in your warehouse and release it little by little, won’t you? There won’t be any effect on the market.」
「Just kidding. I’ll take the 600 million.」
「Considering the amount of time and effort required to prepare a warehouse to store the gold, as well as payment for guards, it should be enough.」
「I appreciate your understanding.」The man bowed.
Hikaru could not tell what he was thinking, but he believed that the manager was not belittling him.
The discovery of the Pozi settlement that no one else could find. And…
There were several wyvern scales in Hikaru’s bag. They were huge, bigger than the average wyvern scales. They had peeled off when Tolua bit Erb to bring him back to his senses.
The scales were highly valuable as materials for creating armor and ornaments, so Hikaru decided to collect them.
The giant scales proved that Hikaru was the one riding the wyverns. Although Kelbeck’s personal introduction helped as well, he thought no one would be foolish enough to make an enemy of someone like him.
Those huge creatures looked more like giant monsters, really.
Hikaru suddenly remembered what they did. He thought he was being careful, but the physical and mental fatigue made him cross a dangerous bridge. It might have been the effect of the mana from the gold.
But he had no other choice. He did not know how the wyverns would react if he used Lavia’s magic to get rid of the mana first.
「In return, I have a favor to ask.」Hikaru said.
The manager gave a start.「Wh-What would that be?」
「Bodies of former residents are still in the village. I want you to give them proper burials.」
「That’s not a problem. I have experience as a clergyman, so I can offer prayers.」
「Thank you very much.」
Hikaru wondered how a clergyman ended up working for the Thieves Guild, but he kept the question to himself.
「Actually, when I was a clergyman, I spent too much money on prostitutes and racked up debts.」
Or so Hikaru thought, but the man started talking about his past.
This guy’s a handful, he thought.
After negotiating with the Thieves Guild, Hikaru met up with Lavia and Paula, who were out strolling in town. They were on break for the past ten days, so they had been able to visit all the bookstores in Gordon.
They had chartered a luxury carriage, which meant Lavia could read with little jolting, so she bought a ton of books.
Paula went to the church and worked hard cleaning the building as well as doing healing sessions. Thanks to her, the church was shining brightly in this dusty town of Gordon. Word spread that it was cleaner than the governor’s mansion, drawing more believers.
「How’d it go?」Lavia asked.
「Perfect. I got 600 million.」Hikaru replied.
Paula was at a loss for words.
「All right. Only one last thing to do in this town.」Hikaru began walking towards old man Hoya’s house, the one person who helped them the most in locating the lost village.
「Finally. I thought you had forgotten about me.」The old man appeared in his usual work clothes.
As Hikaru and the girls entered the house, the old man boiled some water and served them tea. He was much more welcoming than when they first met.
「We were surprised when you returned with the wyverns.」Hoya said.「We worked hard to keep them away.」
「Yeah, it just happened. I’m not sure how to say this, but I don’t think you need the bells anymore.」
The old man understood. The fact that Hikaru came back on the wyvern meant that he was able to communicate with them. When he said the bells weren’t needed anymore, he was most likely telling the truth.
「So I don’t have to make bells anymore.」
「Yes. But I’m sure some magic researcher would pay a good amount of money for the formula you use.」
「Hmm. Is that so?」
The old man stood up and entered his workshop, where a lot of bells were lying. Hikaru wondered what he was doing inside.
「Ah, found it.」Hoya returned with a bundle of dirty papers.「You can have it.」
「Is this the formula?」
「Yes. I wrote them all down when I left the village and settled down here so I wouldn’t forget. I don’t know what kind of effect some of them have, but you can sell them to some amateur researcher, I suppose.」
Hikaru didn’t expect that there were still records left. The documents could lead to some new discoveries outside of the existing framework of magic research.
In that case, researchers affiliated with national governments would want them, not only amateurs. A very valuable treasure.
「I can’t take this.」Hikaru said.
「I don’t have a use for them now. You’re the one who said the bells are not needed anymore.」
「Isn’t this a memorabilia?」
「A memorabilia, you say…」The old man blinked in surprise.「I wouldn’t have pegged you for a sentimental person, considering what you did.」
「What? Is there something strange about it?」
「I just didn’t think a guy who rides a wyvern would say the word ‘memorabilia.’ Anyway, just take it. You brought what I wanted, didn’t you?」
Nodding, Hikaru took something wrapped in a cloth out of his bag. He opened it, revealing a golden necklace with a little bird, and placed it on the table. Stripped of the mana, it shone brightly even in the dark room.
Hoya’s eyes widened, and he reached for the item. He wrapped it in his hands gingerly as if holding a broken object, then held it close to him like a baby.
Hikaru could not say anything back. He didn’t expect such a deep and profound gratitude.
I didn’t know he was that attached to it.
Hikaru didn’t know how the old man felt when he was forced to leave the village. How he felt when he lived in this mining town and continued to create anti-wyvern bells.
But he knew one thing.
I’m glad he got it back.
A sense of satisfaction, different from the kind he felt from the mission’s success or from obtaining a large amount of money, filled Hikaru’s heart.
「You’re leaving town, aren’t you?」
「Yes. Tomorrow morning.」
Dusk was already settling in over Gordon. Hikaru was wondering where to go from here, but upon seeing the notes that Hoya wrote, he made up his mind.
We’re going to Forestia.
He wanted to thank Kelbeck, and the relaxing resorts in Forestia were more suitable for Hikaru and the girls. Kelbeck and his sister Katy would be overjoyed once they saw the magic formula.
「Thank you for everything.」Hoya said.
「What are you saying? That’s my line.」
「No. I have a feeling that you would have found the village of Pozi even without my help.」
「You give me too much credit.」
It wasn’t as if Hikaru didn’t have any leads at all. He knew that if he went back through the records about Gordon’s past, he would find survivors of the Pozi, or some account of making contact with them. Traces of people cannot be erased so easily, and people are not foolish enough to go down with the rest of the village.
Hikaru believed that there were villages that left the settlement. However, it would have taken ten times longer to search for people using the records than it would have been to talk to Hoya, an actual survivor, directly. In this respect, Hikaru could only be grateful to the old man.
「It was a fun adventure.」Hikaru said.「Thank you.」
「Take care.」Hoya replied.「You two as well.」
「We will.」Lavia said.
「You’re in good health, so I’m sure you will live long.」Paula added.
Coming from a Healer, it must be true.
「There’s no point in living long for someone like me.」
「Don’t say that. Falna will be glad to have you around for longer.」Paula said with a radiant smile.
「I see… Falna. Yes, you’re absolutely right.」
「That’s the spirit!」
Hikaru didn’t know what Hoya would do with his life now that he no longer needed to make bells, but nevertheless he had a pleasant look on his face.
Early the next morning, Hikaru and the girls got ready and left the inn. Lavia and Paula headed to the station where the carriage waited, while Hikaru went to the Adventurers Guild.
The whole uproar with Midday Owl and Meteor Claire had settled down, with the former getting arrested by the authorities. Apparently, they were able to pick them up where Hikaru left them.
The party had been operating in Gordon for a few years now—criminal activities, of course—and as soon as the investigation began, all their other crimes were gradually exposed one by one.
Claire of Meteor Claire had been looking for Paula, the masked cleric, for a while, but when she couldn’t find her, she gave up and left town.
The case was of no concern to most adventurers, however. As usual, they gathered at the guild in the morning to look for notable commissions, took them, then left.
Passing by yawning adventurers, Hikaru entered the guild.
「Excuse me.」Hikaru said.
The man at the reception desk was a staff that Hikaru had seen several times. When things were about to get heated between Hikaru and Falna, the receptionist ignored the situation, and when Hikaru asked for people to transport the gold, he would not accommodate him.
Apparently, he remembered Hikaru.「Welcome.」he said.「What can I do for you today? Unfortunately, we can’t arrange for people to carry gold on such short notice.」
The other adventurers heard the conversation.
「Hey, it’s that kid again.」
「Oh. The one from before. Wasn’t he acting like he already found the gold?」
「Hahaha! For real?」
It’s not like I came here because I wanted to. Hikaru heaved a sigh.
「I’m here to commission an escort job.」Hikaru said.
「An escort job, you say?」
「I’d like to submit a request to Falna, a rank D adventurer. A commission to escort me to the border between Forestia.」
The receptionist nodded.「Yes, yes. That’s a great idea. Looking for gold in the mountains is dangerous.」he said with a grave look.
The adventurers behind Hikaru started laughing again.
「I don’t know if Falna will agree, though. She’s known in these parts as a skilled adventurer.」
「That’s fine. I’m heading to the station first, so please tell her to come. The departure time is nine o’clock in the morning, and if she’s not there by then, you can write it down as a default.」
A staff from the Thieves Guild entered with a panicked look on his face.