Xant: Yeah, uh, forgot we had this chapter done among all the things that happened recently. This screw-up is on me.
Chapter 12 – Drinking & Information
Night, En Route To «Wild Breath Tavern»
“Commander, are you okay?” [Conrad]
While I was in anguish after reading the letter from Byron, it quickly became night.
For the first time in my life, I felt despair, something that I have never experienced in any of my crises before. Chie Saitou, with 17-years of experience, had finally felt despair for the first time.
And so, with the cooperation of the people around the shopping district, it was discovered that a man named Aaron held the information I needed. Because we couldn’t think of any other way to get the information, Conrad and I arrived at the entrance to .
Since it’s business related, Conrad is wearing his silver plate armor.
Apparently he was worried because I was distressed.
“….Yes, I have made my decision after coming this far. Although, there is no problem with the law here…..if I pass out drunk, I’m sorry.” [Chie]
I apologized to Conrad in a low voice.
The only problems were with my liver and spirit. In the worst case scenario, I will pass out.
Okay, time to get fired up!
Conrad and I entered the tavern.
(ED: So these sfx are getting out of hand…)
A bell was rung when the door opened.
Having finished working for the day, many men were boisterous and happily drinking with friends and companions.
The tables and chairs were all taken and the only seating available was at the counter.
I noticed a man with wolf-like dark green hair watching us from the counter.
Was he Aaron, the information dealer?
We moved a step towards him.
“Hey! Aren’t you Conrad and Sir Knight!?” [???]
One customer raised his voice upon noticing us.
At this time all the men turned to look at who the customer was talking about.
“Hey~! Sir Knight, let’s have a drink together!” [???]
“Eh? Oh, no, we…” [Chie]
“Conrad! Come to drink with your boss?” [???]
“Hey guys! Good evening.” [Conrad]
We were surrounded by them and invited to drink.
I was troubled and at a complete loss.
Conrad greeted them as if he was familiar with them, but I couldn’t move.
“Hey, you guys! Conrad aside, Sir Knight came here on business! Don’t distract him!” [???]
As I was thinking about what to do, a familiar voice was heard inside the tavern.
Looking to the owner of the voice, I saw a giant man with shaggy red hair sitting at a table in the corner; it was Byron.
Three men were sitting in the other seats.
“Yo~ Boss. You came here quick.” [Byron]
Byron smiled and shook my hand.
“Hey old man! What about me!?” [Conrad]
Conrad, still surrounded by people, attempted to retort Bryon’s words.
Is he acting a bit childish, or was it my imagination?
“Gahahahaha! What Conrad, trying to look good in front of your boss?”
“It, It, It’s not what you think! I’m just escorting the Commander!” [Conrad]
Byron laughed heartily seeing Conrad acting childishly.
Conrad acted completely different from when we first met or even when speaking to the men and other Captains.
He looked like an ordinary boy you could find anywhere.
The fact that a 24-year old man like him could make such a funny face like this was splendid to see.
While watching him and thinking so, Conrad suddenly looked at me.
Realizing he had been seen, his face immediately turned red.
“Oh, no. Commander, that was….” [Conrad]
Conrad hurriedly said.
This was completely different from the calm and serious Conrad that I knew of.
In the past two weeks I had seen Conrad’s face become surprised, angry, or amazed, but this was a first.
With such a funny sight, I couldn’t help but laugh voluntarily.
“Ah, Commander!” [Conrad]
Shouting with a small, angry, red face, I burst into laughter.
It was even funnier.
I couldn’t endure and laughed so hard that I got a stomachache.
After that, Byron and the other customers who surrounded us burst into laughter and soon after the whole tavern erupted in fun laughter.
“I’m sorry Conrad. Your reaction was just too funny.” [Chie]
“…..It’s fine already.” [Conrad]
After laughing so hard, I felt terrible, so I bowed down at the waist.
The fact that I thought his childish side was cute is a secret.
While Conrad was back in a good mood, a man called out to me from behind.
“You sure look like a Black Knight.” [???]
Turning around, there stood the man with dark green hair from the counter.
He had a chiseled face and sharp green eyes.
He looked to be a man around 30 with a good physique, standing about 175-180 kaumeito (cm) tall.
He wore dark brown pants with a pale brown sleeveless shirt, and black honey boots with straps below.
“…..You’re the information broker?” [Chie]
“It’s Aaron.” [Aaron]
The man replied bluntly.
The feeling that I was being stared at hadn’t been my imagination.
I answered and put out my hand to shake his, but it was doubtful that the gesture would be shared.
“Nice to meet you Aaron-dono, I am Black Knight.” [Chie]
I spoke to him while maintaining “work mode”.
“Hmph! To think the Black Knight who was chosen by the legendary ‘unicorn’ was such a small guy.” [Aaron]
The information broker said resentfully after giving a snort.
Have I done something to be disliked by him?
“Why you! To the Commander you…” [Conrad]
“It’s okay Conrad!” [Chie]
“Let me handle it.” [Chie]
I soothed Conrad who was angry over the rude remarks.
He looked at me quietly before reluctantly backing off.
I noticed recently that whenever someone spoke ill of me, Conrad and Alice usually went ballistic.
At first there was a lot of slander behind my back within the castle, but recently that wasn’t the case.
Not sure if it was because of just those two, but they probably had something to do with it.
Well, things have been pretty good now.
I pulled myself back together and continued talking.
“Excuse me, please forgive my subordinate.” [Chie]
“Having an big shot noble in front of my face right when I was in a good mood, this is the worst.” [Aaron]
Is what he said. So that was the reason he was staring at me.
This person hated nobility.
There may have been something that happened in the past.
“…..Even if you say noble, I was born in a common household you know. I was just lucky enough to gain my status by helping out the Royal Family.” [Chie]
There was no reason to hide this.
The only things I wanted to hide were my age, gender, and face.
Even if they investigated it, they wouldn’t find anything useful.
The fact that I am a human from a different world wouldn’t be found out with so easily.
“Ho~ If you want to prove that you’re different from the other shit nobles then have a match with me, that is if you’re up for it.” [Aaron]
I understood, but tilted my head and asked anyways.
“Challenge me in a drinking game. If you win, I’ll tell you the information you came here looking for. If you lose, you pay for all the drinks.” [Aaron]
It finally came.
Even though I have never drunk alcohol before, in order to advance to the next step of solving this case I had to win here.
From his manner of speech, this man definitely knew something.
I cannot afford to withdraw.
“Understood, I challenge you.” [Chie]
When I issued the challenge, loud cheers erupted around us.
The customers who had overheard us kicked up a fuss.
They moved in unison as they put one table in the center of the tavern and pulled up two chairs facing each other.
The shop master brought out two cups and two bottles of wine.
The information broker and I sat down in the chairs facing each other, the table between us.
I removed the lower jaw part of my helmet and entrusted it to Conrad.
The shop master unplugged the bottles and placed one next to each of the cups.
“All set.” [Shop Master]
The shop master placed his right hand in the center of the table and then raised his voice.
“Begin!” [Shop Master]
He raised his hand to signal the start of the match.
I poured the red wine into the cup and quickly drank.
That was the taste of my first alcoholic drink.
The Commander had been playing the game for 10 minutes now.
“…..” [Aaron & Chie]
They had been drinking in silence.
They were both on their 5th bottle of wine.
Usually it’s bad for the body to drink at such a pace.
For the Commander, it was her first time drinking.
I was starting to worry.
“What’s the matter? Why’re your cheeks red?” [Aaron]
The information broker provoked the Commander.
As he said, the Commander had turned red.
Ignoring the words, the Commander continued to drink.
The redness had started to appear on the Commander’s skin around the 3rd cup.
The color of the skin was normal with the first two cups, but with the 3rd it had started to turn as red as the wine. Now, everything visible from the nose down is deep red.
Perhaps, she was not so strong against alcohol.
No, she was definitely weak to alcohol.
You could tell she was breathing heavily if you looked carefully at her shoulders.
“Ah, hey Conrad.” [Byron]
The old man who was standing off to the side spoke to me.
“I don’t think Sir Knight is too good with alcohol.” [Byron]
With a concerned look, the old man seemed to have also noticed the Commander’s state.
The surroundings were all noisy as they saw the Commander’s condition.
“Rather than not strong, it’s the first time drinking for the Commander.” [Conrad]
“Say what!?” [Byron]
Everyone in the tavern were surprised at my words.
The information broker also had a surprised face and stopped drinking.
“Until now, there was either never an opportunity to drink or he just didn’t want to.” [Conrad]
Based off of the story I heard this evening, I replied so that the age of the Commander would remain hidden.
All the while the Commander continued drinking.
She was acting strange.
I called out to the Commander but there was no reaction.
“!? Commander!” [Conrad]
I rushed to the Commander’s side as she was lifting up another cup of wine.
I removed her gauntlet and touched her skin.
It was ridiculously hot.
“Hey! What’s wrong!?” [Conrad]
The old man also ran over.
The Commander stopped drinking and went limp, leaning against the chair.
“Hey now~ We gotta lay him down to rest. Master, we would like to make a place for this guy to rest, is that okay?” [Byron]
The old man looked at the state of the Commander then asked the shop master.
The Shop Master nodded and then moved to the back of the tavern to find some blankets.
“Hey Conrad! Help remove Sir Knight’s armor!” [Byron]
“!? Wait!” [Conrad]
Hearing the words of the old man, I stepped between him and the Commander.
The Commander wanted to hide her gender and appearance.
When we first met she said it was a complicated matter.
Although it hasn’t been directly said, generally one can understand.
The color of the hair, eyes, and skin, and the different facial features.
In order to hide this, the Commander always wore armor.
There probably were a variety of other reasons as well.
That’s why we can’t afford to remove the armor in front of this many people.
“You can’t take off the armor of the Commander! The real face of this man is a secret of the Empire.” [Conrad]
“…..Understood. If you say so, then we won’t take the armor off.” [Byron]
It seemed my words convinced the old man.
I was relieved.
“…..But why?” [Aaron]
When I looked in the direction of the voice, I saw that the information broker was looking straight at the Commander.
“Why get so drunk? Why go so far, just for the information that I have!?” [Aaron]
The information broker bellowed at the Commander.
“You’re a noble right? Even being born a commoner like you said, wouldn’t it be impossible for anyone else to see you as a commoner!?” [Aaron]
Looking at the information broker, I felt like I was looking at someone who couldn’t believe what was in front of them.
“Are you stupid!? To go that far for the sake of people you don’t even know!!” [Aaron]
Everyone was silent while listening to the information broker.
He was shouting with a desperate voice.
Why he was so desperate, no one knew except for the information broker himself.
Commander, who was limp until a little while ago, corrected her posture and looked straight at the information broker.
“People….I want to help people. Is that…..so bad?” [Chie]
To the words of the Commander, the information broker showed a look of surprise.
Looking at the information broker, the Commander continued.
“Certainly, what I’m doing…..from the view of others, I may look like a fool. …..But, being kidnapped…..treated like a slave…..to do such a thing. …..To discriminate against someone is wrong.” [Chie]
The Commander said while breathing heavily.
The tavern remained silent as she spoke.
“Certainly…..in this country, some nobility hold contempt over commoners…..and in turn the commoners hate the nobility. But…..only a small portion who do not see…..that I think are the fools.” [Chie]
The information broker who stared at the Commander widely opened his eyes.
“In order to awaken…..the eyes of such people…..haa~……we can no longer let these things happen within this country. The people kidnapped, not just them……the families and friends who grieve for those missing……to such people…..to prevent any more…..I must solve this case…..I took the responsibility of Knight Commander, so it’s my responsibility…re…spon…si…bil…” [Chie]
The Commander fell down onto the table.
Worriedly, I checked her condition.
Upon hearing her soft breathing, I became greatly relieved.
Since there was no movement even upon shaking and calling out to her, she must have been in a deep sleep.
The information broker murmured as I turned toward the voice.
“Unlike how this guy looks, he is quite the softy.” [Aaron]
Unlike the sour face a while ago, he now wore a wry smile.
“I give up! It’s my defeat. Never thought he would be a guy like this.” [Aaron]
The information broker said while tapping the helmet of the Commander.
So that means she won!
“As promised, I’ll give you the information. Hey Master, give me something to write on!” [Aaron]
The information broker demanded from the shop master, who had come back before anyone had noticed.
The shop master left blankets for the Commander before nodding and moving to the back of the shop again.
“I’m telling you now, I only recognize this Knight. This information belongs to him.” [Aaron]
I nodded my head to his words.
It’s only proper, as the Commander was the one he surrendered to.
“Poor guy had to go through a lot~” [Byron]
The old man said while scratching his head.
“It’s not your fault old man. He decided to do this himself.” [Conrad]
While looking at the Commander, I was reminded of that evening.
At the time, I offered to go in her place, but instead she said…
“No, it’s useless unless I go. Byron was the one who recommended me so it would be impolite not to go.” [Chie]
Having said that, it was left to the Commander.
This was the result.
“You may be surprised by the things this person does, but it’s always the right thing. Well, sometimes it can be a pain but…” [Conrad]
“Gahahahahaha! I look forward to the good things that will come!” [Byron]
While the voice of the old man sounded through the tavern, the other customers began cleaning up.
Receiving the letter from the information broker, I shouldered up the Commander and headed back to the castle.
I did not think the day I would have to shoulder the Commander would come so soon.
“Commander, you awake?” [Conrad]
The alcohol probably hasn’t worn off yet.
She didn’t seem very steady.
“…..Oh! The information!” [Chie]
The Commander recalled just now and raised her voice.
The Commander who rose up suddenly, became dizzy and leaned back against me while letting out a small groan.
I smiled wryly and answered.
“It’s alright Commander. I have the information.” [Conrad]
Commander raised her voice and stared at me.
“After you blacked out, the information broker surrendered. ‘It’s my defeat,’ he said.” [Conrad]
She said, sounding surprised as she raised her voice.
“Yes. However, it was presented as a letter that I was to give only to the Commander.” [Conrad]
I passed the letter to the Commander.
“What about the money?” [Chie]
“I paid it.” [Conrad]
“……I’ll return it later.” [Chie]
The Commander felt guilty and offered to pay me back.
But, I refused.
“It’s fine. Only the fee for the information was paid. The drinks were paid for by the information broker.” [Conrad]
Judging from the look of the Commander, she was surprised to hear this.
But, it’s only reasonable.
The Commander won the drinking game.
It’s only natural that the one who lost has to pay.
When I explained this, the Commander seemed happy.
Really, such an easy to understand atmosphere.
The Commander opened the letter to read it, but it was too dark out now to read.
The street lights only illuminated enough to know where to walk.
However, I underestimated the Commander.
“I see, so that’s it….” [Chie]
“What! You can read it!?” [Conrad]
I stumbled involuntarily.
What the hell!?
There’s no way you can read in the dark!
“Oh, I didn’t tell you. I can see perfectly fine in the dark with this helmet.” [Chie]
I couldn’t say anything back.
If it’s the Commander, it’s okay to think she can do anything.
“……So, what does it say?” [Conrad]
While still being amazed at the Commander, I listened to what was in the letter.
“It says…..” [Chie]
I finally let go of the Commander as I listened to the information.
Next Day, Chie’s Bedroom & Workroom (Chie’s POV)
“Vuu~…Head hurts~” [Chie]
Thanks to yesterday’s drinking, I was lying in bed with a magnificent hangover, a cool towel over my forehead.
“See~ It’s because you did something unreasonable….” [Alice]
Alice who has been nursing me said.
Indeed, this time it was my own fault.
But, I did not think I would be this weak to alcohol.
I thought I would be okay because this body was made by Amaterasu, but I was a fool to let my guard down.
At around 3 cups I had started to feel dizzy, but I kept drinking until Conrad stopped me at the end.
After that, I don’t remember much.
I feel like I said something important to the information broker, but I don’t remember what.
Now the situation was me lying in bed in a bad mood, unable to even think about doing anything.
But it wasn’t all bad.
After Conrad received the information we needed, he had taken me back to the castle.
The information broker, Aaron had said….
“Especially from now on, I’ll tell you information without the drink!”
Or so Conrad told me.
That made me really happy.
Rather than drinking again…..
I don’t want to see alcohol for a while.
In this state, I’ll be bedridden for the entire day…..
The current time is 9:00.
It wasn’t until 7 hours later that I would realize I could have just gotten cured by Hayate.