OmaeGotoki: Volume 3 001 - What He Lost
Three days have passed since the end of the Ink incident. The West Quarter is surprisingly peaceful, and the Church hasn’t made any move yet. Maybe they don’t know Ink’s still alive yet, or maybe they don’t think it matters. As Flum heads to the adventurer’s guild with Gadio she feels a little uneasy.
As they enter a narrow alleyway, the West Quarter’s infamously foul wind hits them in the face. Flum scrunches up her face in disgust, brushing her hair back into place with her fingers.
“It’s pretty quiet.”
Gadio, clad in his longcoat, mutters to her. Just a little while ago he’d dropped by Flum’s house, asking her if she’d come to the guild with him.
She turns up to look at him.
“The Church hasn’t tried anything, either.”
In the past two days Gadio had found Mother’s lab, mainly with Ink’s testimony and by retracing their attackers’ steps. They’d abandoned it and cleared it out before he arrived, of course, but nonetheless they have one fewer hideout now. Mother and the Spiral Children are probably looking for a new base of operations as they speak.
“It looks like it’s safer around here now that Dane’s gone, but that probably won’t last for long.”
“I don’t want to imagine what those thugs will do now that they’ve lost their leader.”
Gadio sighs and closes his eyes, shaking his head from side to side.
Dane led the lowlifes of the West Quarter, but now that he’s gone they’re free to do whatever they want, in a sense.
“They’re probably going to fight over who’ll be their next leader or something equally stupid.”
“Yeah, I can’t imagine that’ll end well…”
If nothing else, Dane was charismatic. No mere thug could take his place.
“Chances are they’ll split into gangs and start warring with each other for territory. That’s why we’ll need to form a plan to keep the peace.”
“At the guild?”
Flum still hasn’t heard from him what they’ll be doing at the guild. She’s curious, but she’ll have her answer soon enough.
They arrive at the guild without trouble, and Flum enters the building first. Ila, sitting at the counter with her chin propped up on her elbow, groans as soon as she lays eyes on her.
“Right, time to call it a day.”
“Looks like you’re as eager to do your job as always, huh?”
“I can finally catch a break now, so I’m not going to let you of all people ruin it.”
“You sure you’re not a little too free now?”
“I can do whatever I want, so I will. You can go back to whatever filthy little hole you crawled out of now. Go on, shoo!”
“You really get on my nerves…!”
Flum glares at her, but Ila simply turns away with a bored expression.
“Seriously, the only time I’ve seen you seriously work is when you shoved that werewolf-hunting quest on me. I wonder if they’d fire you if I complained to the Central Quarter guild?”
“You just can’t take a hint, can you? You really think they’d listen to a D-Rank slave instead of me? Give up and go home to that bandaged chick already.”
“If the guildmaster were here you’d be singing a different tune!”
“Ahaha, like he’d ever come out here! There’s no way a famous S-Rank adventurer like him would be seen dead here! You’ll regret your stupid fantasies sooner or later.”
Each taking the other’s provocations head-on, their argument only continues to heat up --- but just then Gadio enters from behind Flum. He looks Ila square in the eyes.
She freezes like a songbird before a dragon. The colour quickly drains from her face as she breaks out in a cold sweat.
“G-Gadio… Ruskett…? W-What’re you doing here… You’re supposed to be out on the Journey!!”
“I have my reasons. Well then, Ila Gereisen, you’ve got my attention. I’m supposed to be dead now, am I?”
“U-Uhh… Slowe-kun…? C-Could you come give me a quick hand out here…?”
Her kouhai doesn’t respond. Slowe is typically quite obedient to her, but he’s not stupid enough to get on Gadio’s bad side over something like this.
“...You’re not coming? …Uuuu…”
Losing her nerve, she shrinks before Gadio’s glare. She then gives a pleading look to Flum, of all people, but Flum only sticks out her tongue in response.
“Why you little…!”
Ila glares at her, but she’s already all but doomed.
“Wait… So you’re the guildmaster here, Gadio-san!?”
“Something like that. They forced the title on me a few years ago, but I’ve never once come in to work.”
“Ah, so that’s why you wanted to plan here! If you’re the guildmaster then the thugs can’t just do whatever they want, huh?”
Gadio is S-rank, after all --- the kind of fools that’d dare make him an enemy are few and far-between.
“So, Flum, it sounds like this woman’s tried to kill you before.”
“Yeah, for my licensing exam she made me fight a D-Rank monster, of all things!”
“Protocol states the monster should be F-Rank… Raising the rank on her like that could’ve well killed her. I can’t just overlook that.”
“N-No, I mean, Dane made me do it! I tried to stop him! Really! A-And I mean, look, she’s still alive, so no harm done, right…? Right? You agree with me, don’t you, Flum?”
Unable to contain her amusement at Ila’s panic, Flum clamps a hand over her mouth, shoulder trembling with suppressed laughter. Ila clenches her fists in irritation under the counter.
“She should probably be fired for all she’s done. What do you think, Flum?”
“Hmm… That does sound appealing…”
“Y-You’re not serious, right!?”
“I mean, you’ve broken pretty much every rule there is…”
“Well, maybe, but…!”
Flum was technically dismembered on that quest, even if she did come out fine.
“We’ve been through a lot together, haven’t we?”
“Yeah, but nothing good. In fact, I think I want to see you get fired even more now…”
“H-How about we be friends from now on, then? If I get fired then how am I supposed to make a living!?”
“Here’s an idea --- how about you sell your body?”
Flum resists the urge to turn the insult right back at Ila.
Even if Flum does have a grudge against her, though, she’s at least trying to turn over a new leaf, unlike Dane. Since she broke off her deal with him as soon as he went over to the Church’s side, there might not be any need to fire her after all.
“How does just cutting her salary sound, Gadio-san?”
“Hm. You’re quite generous, Flum.”
“Ahh, thank you so… wait, cut my salary!? Hold on a second, why should I have to---”
“Maybe I should fire you after all.”
At this point there’s nothing more she can say.
“I won’t let you just do as you please now that I’m here. Be ready to work --- for real this time.”
“Whatever you say…”
Ila slumps in her chair, defeated. Flum sniggers at her.
As soon as Gadio disappears into the depths of the guild to handle the formal paperwork, Ila snaps at Flum.
“Thanks to you, it looks like I’ll have to cut my food budget!”
“You reap what you sow.”
“Hmph, where do you get off talking to me like that? If you really know Gadio Ruskett, though, I guess you’re that Flum Apricot, aren’t you?”
“You just figured that out?”
“Of course I did. Nobody’d think that a Chosen would be skulking around here with a slave mark.”
“To be fair, Eterna-san’s living with me now, too.”
“Wait, Eterna Rinebow too? I can’t imagine what’s left of the Party now… What does the Church think it’s doing?”
If word got out that three of the Chosen were just hanging around the Capital, there’d probably be a panic. Back when it was just Flum and Eterna there were rumours, certainly, but since Eterna doesn’t leave the house much it didn’t go past that. Given how much Gadio sticks out and how he’ll be working as guildmaster, however, he’ll probably end up attracting a lot of attention to them.
“I’ve heard the rumours, but what with those creepy corpses in the slums and everything the Church’s only getting fishier.”
The rumour that the Church was involved in the eyeball incident is currently spreading throughout the Capital like wildfire. Now that someone as big and important as Gadio has openly gone against them, tension’s bound to keep on rising.
“Can we really trust him to be the guildmaster now, though?”
“What, do you have some problem with Gadio-san?”
“You don’t know? They call him ‘Gadio the Coward’ for a reason, y’know.”
Flum snorts at Ila disbelievingly.
“Even though he’s pretty much boldness personified?”
“Now, maybe. Some say he abandoned his friends mid-quest and ran back home with his tail between his legs.”
“Lying just because he cut your salary… How sad.”
“I’m not lying! If you don’t trust me then go ahead, ask any adventurer. Or maybe if you’re so close to him you should ask him yourself?”
There’s no way she could just walk up to him and ask “Are you really as much of a coward as everyone says?”
A little lost as to what she should do, Flum lets out a perplexed sigh.
A little while later, Gadio returns from the depths of the guild.
“I’ll start my work as guildmaster starting tomorrow,” Gadio tells Ila before leaving together with Flum.
Heading back to Gadio’s house, they make for the East Quarter. The whole time Flum has a look of consternation on her face, mulling over what Ila had told her.
“What’d she tell you?”
“Well, it’s not really what she told me that’s the problem, more like what she told me to do…”
Flum clumsily tries to avoid the question.
The closer they get to the Central Quarter the cleaner and more populated the streets become. The looks of all the passersby are of course fixed on Gadio, but occasionally they take a quick glance at Flum --- though they seem more preoccupied with the slave mark on her cheek than anything else.
“‘Gadio the Coward’, huh?”
He says it before she has the chance to.
“So you know?”
“It’s the truth, after all.”
“Of course it isn’t! You’re---”
“No, I am a coward. I deserve that name.”
His words drip with self-loathing. Since he apparently has his reasons, Flum can’t argue. The mood between them is stiflingly awkward as they leave the Central Quarter for the East Quarter.
They stop on the corner of one of the richest parts of town.
“Welcome home, Master Ruskett.”
The guard by the entrance bows deeply as soon as he lays eyes on Gadio.
“Woah… Is this really where you live…?”
Past the iron-wrought fence lies an opulent mansion, nestled in the middle of a yard big enough to be a park.
“Yes, though it’s not like this is all mine.”
Opening the gate, they walk down the cobbled garden path towards the house. Trees laden with red flowers arch above them. In one corner of the yard lies a garden filled with all manner of colourful plants, a tree larger than a small house cordoned off in the center of it. In a different corner an assortment of toys lie scattered around a swing set and a small sandbox.
It’s said that S-Rank adventurers live in the lap of luxury. Flum always had the impression that meant that they’d be able to eat steak every day and be able to afford as much cake as they wanted, but the real thing far surpasses her fantasies. She gawks at the opulence all around them like a country bumpkin seeing the big city for the first time. Seeing her like that, Gadio’s stern expression loosens slightly for the first time that day.
After a short while they arrive in front of the mansion. From inside Flum can barely hear the sound of someone running, and a moment later the door flies open and a young girl flies out.
She glomps onto Gadio, beaming at him.
“Welcome home, Papa!”
It takes Flum a moment to process what the girl said.
I guess it’s not impossible since he’s thirty-two years old, but…!
Having heard nothing about any children before then, Flum can do nothing but stare at Gadio wide-eyed, mouth half-opened in shock.
Putting his face in his hands, Gadio lets out a rare exasperated sigh.
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