Kiel stayed behind obediently after that exchange for some reason. I won’t pretend to understand his feelings, but he seemed to be leaning towards working with them in the end so I’m going to go ahead with that.
As I approach The Grand Tier Company I notice a somewhat familiar face standing guard out front. It’s the man that picked a fight with Mana and brought us here before.
“Oh? Boss said you might be coming around today. He’s waiting in the back” The goon says with a smile
He was waiting for me? Information sure travels fast with these guys, doesn’t it? I suppose that works in my favor though, it should make this short.
“Lead the way,” I say as I wave my hand indicating for him to go ahead of me
I still don’t trust these guys much at all yet. If they have any traps laid out this time, rather than struggle to use my sword I’m just going to use this lug as a meat shield.
“Oh! My bad! Right, this way m’lady.” The goon says as he attempts to act more properly
Did he think I was asking him to be polite? Whatever, it works.
He proceeds to escort me into a room towards the back. The building they are in is surprisingly vast. While the front looks to be about the size of a common storefront, the total size seems to be that of a large complex. There are a few things I notice right away as we reach the room in question. The first is that this area is completely devoid of goons. No matter how far back we walked there was always one close by, but they all seem to be avoiding this room for some reason or another. The other thing I notice is that the design of the door is vastly different as well. It is an immaculate deep crimson red with patterns elevated on the surface that seem to be made of gold. The whole thing just screams “important”.
“Just go on in and the boss will be waiting for you.” The goon that was escorting me says as he starts walking away
“You aren’t going in with me?” I ask
I didn’t really expect him to, but I want to know more about this room before entering. Some small prodding might shed some light on what’s so special about it.
Counter to my hopes though instead of explaining why he won’t go in he simply keeps walking. Not that I expected much better of him, but it was rather rude.
I open the door slowly and peer inside. To my surprise, it is relatively simple on the inside. There is a table with a pool of water in the center and a couch that seems to wrap around it. It reminds me somewhat in its design of a booth at a host club actually.
“Oh? The guest of honor has arrived. Have you come up with your conditions already?” Juire says with a sly smile as he sips from a glass filled with something resembling wine
Oh right… I was supposed to come up with extra conditions for that deal wasn’t I? I completely forgot about that when I decided to participate in the tournament myself.
“I… have a few,” I say trying to sound confident in my lie
It’s embarrassing to go back on that now so I guess I will just throw in some random stuff.
“Fantastic, why don’t we get started then? I have a series of drinks to help make things more relaxed as we negotiate. Of course, if you would rather have something non-alcoholic I have a few things arranged for that as well.” Juire continues with the same sly smile as he indicates an array of bottles
Crap… I can’t read any of the labels. Does it really matter? I don’t know what any of the drinks taste like anyway. Wait, can I even drink? I suppose the legal age must be low enough if he is offering. He is a criminal though; it’s quite possible he just doesn’t care about such things.
“I’m not familiar with any of those so just give me your recommendation,” I say as I take a seat
“Quite commendable, I must say. Most nobles pretend to know every drink under the sun. ‘Why of course I’ve had that before, it simply isn’t to my taste!’ It’s rather annoying.” Juire responds with a jovial attitude
He sounded like he was doing an impression of a rather drunk noble towards the middle. He exaggerated a verbal quirk the noble seemed to have where he talked through his nose somewhat.
“I would rather talk about our deal than bicker over drinks,” I say to deflect his comment
“Shall we get to the point then?” Juire asks as he sits back in his chair leaving the bottle on the table between us
“I will agree to your terms on three conditions. First, we will be taking the prize for winning the tournament. Second, you will keep our relation to one another a secret. Third, you will… um… owe me a favor.” I explain becoming flustered towards the end once I ran out of ideas
Honestly, I still don’t have enough footing in this world to even know what I should want. If I asked for money that would be fine and all, but I’m sure winning the tournament will get us plenty. Magical items seem a bit steep for the job, and we already have the essentials. I might have said it to fill out the number of requests, but having a criminal organization owe me a favor doesn’t sound half bad honestly.
“You sure you’re not making these up on the spot?” Juire asks in a facetious manner with a knowing smile
“Of course not!” I say stubbornly with a small blush
“Well your conditions are fair enough. I just have two questions. You understand I will have to tell the king of our involvement?” He says switching back into business mode
“Hm, it can’t be helped. He is the only one you are allowed to tell though.” I answer
“The second question is my personal favorite.” He says in a jovial mood again for a moment before his face becomes serious and intimidating again
“Do you really want to trust a criminal to follow through on that favor?” He says in a way that chills my blood
The look in his eye says much about his past. It is a look of distrust, and equally one ready not to be trusted.
“Villains don’t do business in trust, do they? They just make sure the other person knows the consequences of betraying them.” I answer seriously and honestly in turn
“I knew there was a reason I liked you.” He says as his look transitions into a smile
“Still, to threaten me so soon after meeting me is a first. You either have nerves of steel or a few screws loose in your head. I’m partial to the second, considering you just called yourself a ‘villain’” he continues
As he mentions it, the words that came out of my mouth sink in. My face turns a much darker shade of red as I realize my embarrassing mistake.
I’ve got to be careful, I’m only several steps away from becoming a chuuni…