“…What do we stand to gain from hiring delinquents like adventurers?”
“The prevention and early detection of Yellow Devil Disease and other infectious diseases.”
Rupard’s face became more stern the more Sem talked, but Sem paid no heed and continued.
“Leaving aside whatever Nargava was scheming, his skill as a doctor was very real. His notes are being handed over to the order, but it is hard to see them willingly giving them to you. Honestly, they probably see them as a way to make money, but we may be able to use Nargava’s notes to put the spread of diseases in the abandoned area in check.”
Sem did not go as far as to ask him if he wasn’t interested in the glory it would bring, as he was still trying to work out what kind of man he was. He did not know if he was the kind of person that simply cared about losses and gains in the immediate future, but he did think he was not proud enough to reject the bait Sem laid before him. In a way, it was like gambling.
“I am not saying you should hire me forever. You can cut me loose when you acquire the know-how to traverse the abandoned area.”
Rupard’s expression finally loosened, and he let out a sigh.
“You’re a real hero. You want to save poor people struggling with disease, and throw away the honor and glory like it means nothing.”
“That’s not really my intention.”
“I hate that kind of people”
Rupard said as he glared at Sem.
“I don’t hate people that act like heroes, rather the ones that act like heroes while throwing all the actual responsibilities to other people.”
“Well, responsibility should fall on those who should be responsible. An excommunicated priest is only responsible for his life and his wallet.”
“Then I’ll put you in a responsible position.”
It was Sem’s turn to be surprised, which put a smile on Rupard’s face.
“I am not telling you to quit being an adventurer or anything, many people with the social status of a priest work as adventurers. But if you need to show your status, you can use this if you want.”
Rupard said as he left his seat to bring something over to Sem.
It was a chained medallion with an ear of wheat engraved, something that only Baer priests were allowed to carry. Basically, it served as a way for them to identify themselves.
“…Are you suggesting I join the Baer temple?”
“That is not what I said. But I guess if you do use it once, you are basically a part of our temple?”
“Did you not say before that I could be permitted to return to priesthood if my achievements were recognized?”
“Do not play dumb. What you have done, and what you will do are all big enough achievements.”
Sem grimaced, which made Rupard giggle.
“And you are saying this knowing I have been excommunicated, and why?”
“I do know. When I heard that an excommunicated priest was visiting these parts, I did some light investigation. If you do become a problem, we can simply excommunicate you from here as well.”
If Sem was excommunicated again, Rupard would also receive some sort of penalty. When it came to social status or duty, the one giving and the one receiving were connected and both were responsible. Appointing a once excommunicated priest was nothing short of madness.
“I look forward to the day you become thirsty for power.”
Sem seemingly had no choice but to admit the man sitting in front of him was more open-minded than he thought. He let out a sigh of resignation.
“…Oh well, I’m sorry for testing you. I guess if you are going to test someone, you should be ready for them to do the same.”
“Yes. In any case, it went according to plan for you, as it actually is an advantageous proposal. I will bear the responsibility and glory as long as you do not fall into greed, and if you want your share, you can come back any time.”
And then, the two grinned at each other.
When the priest in training stopped by to bring them tea, she looked at them with the eyes of someone wondering why they were acting so creepily.
“I’m so tired.”
Sem looked as though he just died, and fell flat on the counter after sitting down.
“I’ve never seen him looking like this… Did something happen?”
Timidly said the dog woman working behind the counter.
“Well… We’ve been busy. Get him a drink, please.”
Said Nick, and the dog woman quickly started preparing it.
On a glass made of special monster bones, wine was being poured, and next to it there was a plate with a cylinder shaped tree branch.
“What is this?”
“A gnawing twig? Ah, did you want a plain one and not a lemon flavored one?”
“No, that’s not it…”
Nick looked confused, but Sem grabbed the branch.
“Our appetizers are usually things like nuts or walnuts.”
“Oh right, you humans don’t need this. Having weak teeth isn’t so bad I guess.”
The dog woman put out a different plate with a mess of salted beans and nuts.
It was simple, but Nick thought they did not go bad with their drinks.
“I’ve never been served a branch before…”
“A lot of the employees and customers here are dog and rabbit people, so they serve gnawing twigs as appetizers.”
“What even is a gnawing twig?”
“Some races need them so their teeth don’t grow too big, especially here in the city, where food tends to be soft. If they don’t gnaw on these sorts of branches from time to time, their teeth can start to hurt, and it can even lead to disease.”
“Eh… I had no idea.”
“You only see that sort of thing in places like these. Some people make fun of them and call them animals when they see it.”
“Want to try it?”
Said the dog woman while grinning and fiddling with the branch she was taking back.
“Alright, I’ll give it a shot.”
“I won’t know what it’s like if I don’t try.”
“You’re a weird guy.”
The woman cackled as she saw Nick put the branch in his mouth.
“So? Is it tasty?”
“I feel like I’ve become a dog person too.”
“I can get some ears to put on you if you want.”
Nick put the branch back on the plate, and returned to drinking alcohol regularly.
“I guess my biggest takeaway here is that for humans it’s more important to brush our teeth.”
“That’s an important lesson.”
“Have you ever tried this?”
“Yes, because I examined dog and tiger people’s teeth. I thought trying this once would give my words more weight.”
“Wow… Can you fix teeth too?”
“No no, I can’t, you need special magic for that. But I have helped fix cavities and remove tartar when there was a shortage of staff.”
“It sounds difficult.”
“I’ve had some people get on their hands and knees even after I’ve told them it’s outside of my field though…”
“Sounds like you had some trouble today too. Did everything work out fine?”
“Yes. The priests from the nearby temple will start using Nargava’s old office. I intend to help from time to time, but it will mostly be up to them.”
“You make it sound simple, but isn’t that pretty incredible?”
“Who knows? We’ll see.”
“Don’t be modest. But wouldn’t it be kind of funny if you replaced Nargava?”
Nick was joking, but Sem looked troubled.
“I really can’t… I’ve gotten offers, and I’ve even been offered rewards though.”
“Yes, that’s a problem. Someone told me I could do what I wanted with this girl, and then introduced me to an underage girl…”
“…She was actually an elf woman. That way, ‘it was fine even if I was scared of kids’, they said.”
Elves lived a little longer than humans. They did not live to be two or three hundred years old like some people believed, but still reached a hundred and twenty or forty. Because of this, an elf could look ten and actually be forty years old.
“…Is that alright Sem?”
“Yes, I turned it down before. And the actual age doesn’t matter, if a girl looks that young, it’s a no from me.”
“D-don’t make that face. Sorry I asked something weird.”
Nick apologized, as he was scared of the look in Sem’s eyes.
But it seemed Sem still had a lot pent up inside, and he let out a heavy sigh.
“Kids have been idolizing me recently. It’s hard.”
“We’ve built up a nice reputation after we defeated Stepping Man… Especially with kids. I’m sure you feel it too when you go to the shopping district or the business district.”
“No no, nothing happens when I go, it’s just because of what you did. You made it so priests can safely enter the abandoned area, and no one’s been able to do that, ever.”
“No, it’s not that big of a deal.”
Sem shook his head while smiling.
“Especially when I’m sitting next to someone that took three destitute people that hit rock bottom and rehabilitated them.”
Nick almost choked when the conversation suddenly turned his way, but held it back.
“That was all just a coincidence. Stop talking about that and brag about what you did instead.”
“I want to but I’m still not good enough.”
Said Sem with a cool expression that did not match the regret in his words.
Nick suddenly got curious, and asked something that had been on his mind for a while.
“…Do you ever think about going back to being a priest?”
Sem was not expecting this question.
“Do you want me to?”
“N-no, that’s not what I’m saying. It’s just that that kind of work suits you.”
“Well, I don’t think it’s bad either, but…”
Sem gestured to the idle looking dog woman employee, asking her to come closer.
“Oh? What is it?”
“Do you want to have a drink with me? I’m paying.”
“You’re not a bad guy at all uh?”
She said as she happily poured herself a drink.
Both said cheers, and the dog woman gulped down her drink.
“…Having fun like this would be a lot harder.”
“You’re not wrong.”
“I don’t feel like leaving the adventurer life just yet, so bear with me a little longer.”
Sem raised his glass, and Nick hit it with his with a smile on his face.
The light sound of glass hitting echoed throughout the counter.