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"… Eh? There's no rooms available?"
Arnold was stunned at the front desk. Behind him, Hiiro was emitting an extremely unpleasant aura.
"My deepest apologises. Due to the festival we have no vacant rooms at the moment."
"What should we do now?" Arnold was sweating bullets trying to think of a way to reason with the devil glaring at him with killing intent from behind.
Arnold slowly and quietly turned his head to face the black-haired boy in question.
"What're you planning to do, Old Man?"
"Th-there's nothing I can do, right? If they're booked up then they're booked up."
"… Hah, we're camping outside even though we're in a town…"
Hiiro muttering with empty eyes was a rare sight. To be honest, he had hoped to sleep in a proper bed after camping outside for so long, but sadly, it was an unaccomplishable dream.
"Dammit… Stupid festival… Just explode."
He said something dreadful but he had also enjoyed the festival himself, so he wasn't serious.
In this case, Arnold thought they should have booked a room before they enjoyed the festival. No, the rooms were probably all booked out by then anyway, but he regretted that he didn't check beforehand.
The person at the front desk called out to them so Arnold looked at him dispirited.
"If you don't mind then why don't you try out the Guild?"
Arnold asked in return.
"Ah, yes. The Guild has resting rooms for their staff but if you talk to them, they might give you a room."
Arnold's expression brightened up and he nodded.
"I see. They really might give us a room on a day like this."
"Are we going there?"
Muir looked at him with an upturned gaze and Arnold placed his hand on her head.
"Yeah, should we try our last hope?"
"I hope it won't be in vain."
"Hey you, Hiiro! Why're you saying that?! Don't be so negative!"
"I said it before, listen to me!"
Hiiro swiftly left the inn and the others followed him in a rush.
The Guild housed quite a few people but one way or another they had managed to find a room for four people and an animal to sleep in. Hiiro and his party were relieved that their trip didn't end in vain.
They were taken to a rest room and Hiiro laid down in a bed. Hiiro thought that it was definitely better than sleeping outside.
"By the way, what are you going to do from now on?"
Arnold asked how he was going to cross the border and Hiiro answered while being comfortable in bed.
"… It would be bad to just slip by the checkpoint, right?"
"Well yeah, unless you have the official 《Visa》."
"Do you have one?"
"Yeah, I have mine and Muir's. How about you Wi?"
"Yup… I have it."
Winka was travelling the world in order to find her father, so it was only natural that she had one.
"How do you get one?"
"Oh, come on. How'd you plan on crossing the border without even knowing that?"
"Talk my way through and if that doesn't work… through force?"
"Scary! I would normally laugh at your stupidity but now that I know about your magic, it's scary!"
Arnold feared that Hiiro would cross the border by beating up the guards with his 《Word Magic》and his face twitched.
"Look, the 《Visa》is issued by the guild and you can get one by applying for it. Look."
Arnold then showed him a piece of paper that was slightly bigger than a train ticket, the issue and expiration dates were written on it.
"Then, I can just get one here…"
"No, even if you apply for one at the Guild here, it takes quite some time for it to get approved, you know?"
"Seriously. Normally, you'd get it by applying for it in the Guild at the capital of the 【Human Country】. Even so, the process could take up to a week. If you apply for it here then the Guild at the capital will have to review it first and you will only get your 《Visa》once they approve."
First you have to apply for the visa, then your personal history and origins are investigated. Obviously, the application won't get approved if you have a criminal history.
But if there were no problems in the application and the applicant had a valid reason for crossing the border, then the Guild Master will stamp his seal of approval on the permit. That was the 《Visa》.
"I see.【Victorias's】Guild Master sounds like a big deal."
"Come again? How come you don't know when you were there?"
"I wasn't interested."
"… Hah, listen carefully and remember this well, Hiiro. Do you know how many SSS rank adventurers there are amongst the humans?"
"Three, I think?"
"Yeah and one of them is【Human Country・Victorias's】Guild Master."
"Don't give me a, 'mhm'!"
That was Hiiro's only reaction because he had no interest in others.
"He's amazing, you know? Only people with superior strength and popularity are chosen for the position. They even say that his physical abilities are on par with a beastman's. He's truly a monster."
"I understand that that monster is lost in his status and prestige."
"H-hey… They say that the 【Victorias's】Guild Master has equal power to the King in emergencies, but… aren't you going too far?"
"… Hah. Then you obviously don't know his name either. His name is ———.'
"Mhm? Oh, long time no see, Vale!"
"Indeed, it has been awhile, Judom-sama."
The man that greeted Vale, the captain of the second division of the 【Human Country・Victorias】army, with a generous smile was Judom Lankars.
He had a splendid white beard but he was still only 48 years old. There were other reasons for his shortly trimmed white hair besides old age.
His gentle expression gave off an aura that would put even children at ease. But his fantastic figure became obvious once he stood up.
His height exceeded two meters and his trained arms looked as hard and robust as steel.
He was wearing clothes but his whole body was so muscular that you would think his clothes would rip upon the slightest movement.
"Wahaha, Stop with the -sama! You're a prominent captain yourself now, aren't you?!"
He slapped Vale's back while laughing wholeheartedly. Although it should've been a light pat, Vale felt as if the strike was gradually cutting down his HP.
"*Cough*! I, I see that you have not changed, Judom-sama."
Vale smiled happily while rubbing his back.
"What's up? It's rare for you to come here."
"I have come here to ask for a favour from you, the Guild Master."
They were currently in the Guild Master's room at the Adventurer's Guild. Judom looked at the serious look on Vale's face and shrugged his shoulders.
"Hoh, something troublesome again? Forget it, I'm retired now. Leave the front lines to the young ones."
"What are you talking about, Sir? Even now, there's no one who can hold a candle to you as an adventurer."
"Wahaha! You're giving me too much credit! Besides, I heard about it, the Hero summoning I mean. It's their era now, right?"
Judom asked with a slightly sharp gaze but Vale didn't notice.
"No, no. A strong person is always in demand. Especially someone as strong as you."
Judom's expression clouded a bit when he heard Vale's answer but it soon returned to normal.
"And I'm telling you, my era is over. As I am right now, I'm only a close match for a SS rank. I can't move around like in my SSS rank days anymore."
Judom said in self-derision with an insightful look on his face.
"You are being too modest… You said earlier to leave the front lines to the young ones."
"Yeah, I did."
"I would like to ask you to teach those young ones how to fight."
"… The Heroes?"
For a while the two gazed at each other. Judom looked at Vale, who confronted him with an earnest look and laughed nostalgically.
"You have the same look as you did back then, when you asked to become my disciple."
"Although you turned me down in the end. Back then you said to me: You're not good enough to be my disciple. I only take in someone who can fight on the same level as me."
"Did I say something like that?"
Judom smiled embarrassed, reminiscing about his past.
"And now people who can fight on your level have appeared."
Judom wiped the smile off his face and replied to Vale, "… Is that so?"
"Please teach them! It's for the future of the『Human Race』!"
"For the future of the 『Human Race』, huh…"
Judom looked at Vale with a strong gaze. Vale stared back with straightforward eyes. Judom took out his pipe and lit it then he slowly blew out some smoke.
"Do you know why I became a Guild Master?"
"That's… No, I do not."
"Because the Guild Master can act with the same authority as the King during times of emergency."
"When I was an adventurer, I always wondered why this country, no, this continent kept waging war against each other."
"I prayed every day that someone would bring peace to this world. Indeed, I resorted to faith. However, the racial conflicts intensified and even spread to our country. I fought, of course, because there were things I wanted to protect. But what do you think the Guild Master of that time did?"
Vale knew the answer and looked shameful.
"The Guild Master went far away. He abandoned this country. He abused his authority as the Guild Master and ran away to save his own hide. As a result, the adventurer's chain of command broke down and many lives that could've been saved were lost."
"It was the King who appointed that man as Guild Master."
Hearing Judom's words, Vale remained silent.
The King had been responsible for appointing that Guild Master and Judom was angry at himself too for not being able to see his true character.
"So I trained relentlessly and grew stronger to become the new Guild Master. Then I asked the King for the authority to command during emergencies and thus the Guild Master became another King for the country."
"I aimed to be in the one and only position where I'm allowed to correct the King's mistakes. That was the best I could do as an adventurer. But…"
Judom clenched his fist in regret and Vale widened his eyes.
Even now, the King's orders were absolute. However, the Guild Master had the right to decide matters regarding the adventurers in all emergencies.
Judom gave Vale a quiet and cold look before saying.
"The King made another mistake."
"Wha! How can you say that?!"
Vale raised his voice in astonishment at Judom's sudden criticism of the King. Even if he was the Guild Master, going any further would be slander.
However, Judom didn't care and continued coldly.
"What did the King sacrifice three people for? Well, I suppose one of them is barely alive now."
Then he threw a glance at Vale telling him to answer.
"Th… That is…"
"The Hero Summoning… True, this country is in danger. But I advised the King that there was something that needed to be done before summoning the heroes."
"What do you mean…?"
Judom frowned because it looked like Vale didn't know anything about it and then what Judom said next surprised Vale.
"Why did we reject their peace treaty?"
"Peace… Treaty? What are you talking about?"
"Mhm, I guess you weren't informed. Well, of course not."
Judom shook his head wearily.
"Ex-explain yourself, Judom-sama!"
"The 『Demon-kin』have been sending handwritten peace treaties since a long time ago."
"Impossible! I have never heard of such a thing!"
"The top brass must've swept it under the rug."
Judom said while blowing out smoke.
"B-but still! Even if that's true, we can't trust the 『Demon-kin』!"
"Why didn't we seek an audience?"
"You don't know the outcome unless you try."
Vale understood very well that it was a sound argument and he couldn't refute it.
"I know how you feel. I also know that they've betrayed us many times before in meetings initiated through letters. But there should have been other methods before sacrificing his own daughters."
"B-but, His Majesty grieved about that."
"One simply does not grieve over the death of one's daughters!"
His gentle expression from earlier completely changed, turning into a dreadfully intense one. Vale's whole body broke out in sweat and he inadvertently trembled. So this was the willpower of a retired adventurer…
Judom sighed while shaking his head.
"Either way, if he had consulted me, I would've gone to wherever the conference would've been held. You like many others may not know this but there are good guys amongst the 『Beastman』and『Demon-kin』too."
"Th-that's certainly true. But it's also true that the King of the 『Demon-kin』wants to destroy the 『Human Race』———."
"Then do you know about this? The 『Demon-kin』King has changed."
"When the King changes, the policies also change. It was the new King who sent us that letter. But the King ignored my advice and chose to summon strangers from another world."
"Calling them strangers… For our sake, the Heroes are…"
"Risking their lives…?"
"I don't know what kind of world they came from, but I don't think they care enough about our world to risk their lives for it. If I was suddenly brought to this world against my will, I would leave everything behind and go on a trip."
That was exactly what Hiiro did but Vale was shocked at Judom's words and froze up.
"B-but the Heroes seriously are…"
"They just haven't faced any life-or-death situations, isn't that right? Not many recover after tasting despair."
"They have their own homes too, right? As the one who called them here, the King has to make sure that they return in one piece… Doesn't he?"
Vale looked downwards and closed his eyes. This was his way of saying that he had no room to refute.
"I heard there was another guy who was summoned and he left that place saying he had no obligations to follow their orders."
"I'd… Trust that guy more than the heroes."
"Wh-what do you mean?!"
Vale yelled in anger as if saying that was inexcusable.
"If you don't understand then that means you're still inexperienced, Vale."
Then Judom showed the same gentle expression he had on when Vale first entered the room and placed his pipe on the desk.
"Go now, Vale."
"Think real hard about what you should be doing now. It's your turn to advise the King now."
"I could never…"
"How can someone save the world when the advice from their friends and retainers go unheeded?"
Judom didn't say another word after that and Vale left the room astonished.
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