Everyone quietly listened to Nick.
He started feeling awkward, turned away, and continued talking, seemingly justifying himself.
“No, well, sorry for getting all worked up before even confirming any of that.”
“It’s fine… Suisen is too forceful, so she had it coming.”
Mumbled Karan, while not looking at Nick.
Both seemed awkward and fidgety.
“That’s enough. Stop making the mood turn into something bitter-sweet.”
“In any case, what are we going to do exactly?”
Asked Bond, and Nick responded.
“We don’t really have to do anything.”
“If they come to us, we’ll put a stop to it, but we shouldn’t make things convenient for them. After that… I know! We can lay the groundwork and talk to the employees over at Fishermen.”
“What do you mean by ‘lay the groundwork’?”
“Sometimes family or lovers go there to try to get adventurers to quit.”
“Do such a thing really happen?”
Asked Bond sincerely.
“It happens occasionally. Some go up to the receptionist’s desks to talk about family or love affairs. Coming up with some reason to force the adventurer to leave. There are even guys that are borderline stalkers that go there to try to get female adventurers to leave, because it’s dangerous or whatever. Sometimes they stay near the receptionist’s desks for hours.”
Karan and Tianna were visibly creeped out as Nick explained.
“Well, the receptionists are used to it, so they turn them away, but it’s basically trouble we’re causing them, so it’s probably a good idea to give them a tip.”
“We really do not want the receptionists to get upset.”
“What else do we do?”
“Well, if we let ourselves pay too much attention to it, it’s just going to put a strain on us. We should continue doing what we are usually doing, like labyrinth exploration.”
Said Sem, and Nick nodded.
“That’s true, let’s keep working. Maybe they’ll even change their minds if they see us working hard.”
“Yes… Maybe my master is misunderstanding me, and thinks I just want to live a life free of any hassle.”
Said Tianna, as she got up from the floor.
“Alright, let’s keep working then! We’ll clear the misunderstanding the next time we see them! I’m ready!”
Tianna loudly slapped her own cheeks.
“And maybe you’ll stop worrying so much once you’ve decided what course of action you will take, Karan!”
Said Tianna as she started jiggling Karan’s cheeks.
“I know I know.”
Responded Karan as she pushed Tianna away.
Afterwards they ended up sleeping, huddled together in Tianna’s room.
And so, Survivors continued their operations like nothing happened.
They rested for three days, and started preparing for their next adventure. Having that said, Tianna and Karan could not quite get over what happened, and were quieter than usual. They seemed a little stressed.
“Karan has been staying in Tianna’s apartment, has she not?”
“Yes. She said something about knowing what her sister is like, and that she could very well start following her around to see what she’s doing. Tianna is taking a break from dragon races too, because she’s been studying magic.”
“How complicated. So is that why we are buying things for them?”
Nick and Bond were on their way to Tianna’s apartment, after buying some things for her and Karan.
They brought lightly baked bread and labyrinth chicken for them to eat together. The plan was to cut the bread thinly to go with the labyrinth chicken. They wanted to get there quickly, since it was still warm.
“Mister Nick, may I have a word?”
That plan was ruined by a sudden intruder.
Nick turned around, and saw the man and woman he had previously seen in Fishermen. Bellocchio the sorcerer, and Suisen the dragon woman.
“Are you about to have lunch? Should we meet at another time?”
“No… It’s fine.”
Nick reluctantly responded, as he did not want to continue walking and have them find out where they were going.
“First of all, we should sit down somewhere. I will treat you to something.”
“No, it’s alright. Let’s not.”
“You don’t need to be so alarmed. I am not going to use something so small to try to push you to listen to what I want. We all have said some harsh words, so I would like to clear the misunderstandings… I’m sure you feel the same way.”
He was right. He was a good talker, and Nick could see himself nodding to his words very easily.
However, the fact that he had a way with words made Nick believe even more so, that he should watch out for him.
Just like Sem said, they could not allow these two to disrupt their pace.
“Alright, but we have things to do, so I can’t stay with you for too long.”
“It’s fine. Let us go somewhere else then.”
Surely there was a misunderstanding that could be cleared with an exchange of words, is what Nick thought.
But this naive expectation was soon shattered.
“I see, I see.”
Nick placed his hand on his forehead, as if he had a headache.
In the open terrace of a cafe, Nick did his best not to slovenly lie down with his face on the table.
“So you know Karan lost her Dragon King Orb and went on an eating spree. Meanwhile Tianna wandered into the Labyrinth City and got addicted to gambling, and you still want to take them with you?”
“Naturally. Tell me. How could I not get mad at her? And let her continue to continue on as an adventurer after all that has happened?”
Bellocchio nodded without breaking his light smile, and Suisen said with her usual angry expression.
“How did you find all of that out?”
Bellocchio’s smile turned a little bitter as he answered Nick’s question.
“It wasn’t that hard. I asked some people in the guild that like to gossip, and gathered information from there… Ah, they were not all bad rumors by the way. In fact, many people seem to have a lot of admiration for what you’ve been doing.”
“Well, we also heard about someone spending all her money eating in restaurants, someone becoming completely addicted to dragon races, someone indulging in women every night, and lastly someone becoming completely engrossed in the world of idols.”
Suisen glared at Nick so hard, he could feel it striking him.
“Well, I know it doesn’t sound good, but it’s fulfilling for the people doing it. You can say a lot about me and Sem, but those two have done nothing to be ashamed of, and aren’t causing trouble for anyone else.”
Surprisingly enough, Bellocchio agreed.
“She always was a proactive student. Not the type to sit back and be content with the status quo, but rather the type to build the environment she wanted by her own hands.
I’m sure someone with such a strong spirit is still living as strongly as ever.”
“But, although she left her home, she is still a noble, and not only that, but a very talented sorcerer as well. There is a limit to what she can accomplish as an adventurer.
With the right environment, she could do so much more. She could regain her lost honor, or perhaps, become even more prestigious than ever.”
Nick did not disagree with what Bellocchio was saying.
One time, when Nick and Tianna were alone, she told him it was her goal to be a sage, and not to aimlessly continue to be an adventurer. No matter where she stood, she was always aiming upwards and trying to be the best sorcerer she could be.
Surely this was what Bellocchio saw as well, and from that point of view, Bellocchio’s proposal was beneficial to Tianna.
“At the very least, there is a limit to being an adventurer here. Am I wrong?”
“Am I wrong? Ah, but I am not calling being an adventurer a low occupation.
But how many people can lead decent lives fighting monsters day after day, trying to stay healthy while putting their bodies at risk? Am I wrong to say that many retire after the strain on their bodies or hearts becomes too much?”
“Yes… that does happen a lot.”
Nick thought back to Ada. She retired from being an adventurer after her leg was injured, and started working as a guard in taverns.
Still, what Bellocchio said next was hard for Nick to overlook.
“Let us be honest, if Tianna is going to have a successful and prosperous future, she should not continue the transitory and decadent work of an adventurer.
Transitory and decadent. There was no lie to that.
But on the other hand, Nick was trying to create a party that could, without a shadow of a doubt, make its living on its adventurer work. He wanted these people, who felt like they were failures, were expelled, and were deceived, to be able to live their daily lives normally, not having to worry if it would all end the next day.
That was the reason Survivors was formed. Nick could not stay quiet as someone basically said ‘you’re not going to accomplish that anyway’.
“…You’re right, adventuring isn’t something one can do their whole life.”
“Oh, you agree?”
“There’s a lot of bastards out there and the monsters are strong. There are a lot of times when we get the short end of the stick. I get how you feel, it’s not like I’ve never thought that Tianna was rotting away here.”
“But why didn’t you extend your hand when she was suffering the most?”
Nick understood how unfair it was for him to say this. He could guess that he was not in a position to do anything. He was not like Tianna, who had little in the way of responsibility outside of the fact that she was born a noble. This was a man who had built his career from the ground up, and he surely faced much more difficulties.
Still, the fact remained that the man in front of Nick did not save Tianna.
This was a deep cut for Suisen as well. If Suisen or other members of their race had come to Karan’s aid quickly when she needed it, she would not be here. Karan would have probably returned to her hometown, just like what Suisen was asking.
In the end, this was nothing more than conjecture. In reality, none of that happened.
“I’m not chastising you for being late, but when Tianna was at her lowest point, she herself chose the path she wanted, and decided to move forward. No one else has the right to tell her what she did was wrong or useless.”