After leaving Juire to his devices, I found somewhere quiet to take a call. An alleyway not too far away served the purpose perfectly. Whether or not Juire is moving out, people still consider this the shady part of town, so I’m not likely to have any company hanging out here.
“Faurch, are you there? Juire gave me this stone, and said I could get in touch with you through it.” I say into the com-stone Juire gave me
“…Did he now? Sometimes I give that boy too little credit. He can make interesting decisions here and again it seems.” Faurch responds after a few seconds
There is something strange about his tone. He sounds interested, and yet annoyed. I wonder if Juire giving me this stone had some other meaning behind it.
“I want to discuss a deal.” I say plainly in response
“A deal? Well, why didn’t you say so? That sentence is music to any good merchants’ ears.” He returns in a delighted tone
Somehow, even without seeing his face, I can tell that he said it through a rather sinister smile. This isn’t going to be cheap, is it?
“You are the only person who knows about my little project, and you also seem to have a pretty large network of contacts. I was wondering if you knew any good architects that would be willing to move to the monster village to help them start construction on long-term structures. Possibly even teach the residence how to do it themselves.” I explain
I don’t want to give him the leverage of knowing he is my only option, but I doubt he doesn’t already know that fact.
“I know dozens of architects that I could convince to move there. I have an even greater number of people that would be willing to just pass on the skill set. The deal-breaker for most of them is the need to stay in the village for a great length of time.” Faurch confidently explains
At his comment, I am taken aback. Dozens of people? No matter how connected he is, that just doesn’t sound right. Considering the massive danger this village is considered, even just passing on your skills to the monsters could get you labeled as a traitor against humanity.
As I ponder silently over his comment for a moment, a realization strikes me.
“How many of them can be trusted?” I ask in an accusing manner
“…Not that I don’t understand the need, but that does make the request a great deal more difficult you understand?” Faurch responds in an annoyed tone
I expected him to at least lie to me if that was really the angle he was going for. Why would he present me options if he knew I wouldn’t want them? Doesn’t he stand to gain from this village as well?
“No human I know of, even in my vast network, fits your criteria.” Faurch says in a slightly defeated tone
sigh “Is that so? I was really hoping you would be able to help me here.” I respond, getting ready to end the call
“I do know of a demon that would probably be willing, however. He is a bit of a pain, but if you can convince him then it would be a favor to us both.” Faurch interjects
“What do you mean by ‘a bit of a pain’?” I ask in a worried tone
Considering the few things I know about Faurch, someone that stands out as a problem to him that he hasn’t already dealt with is rather worrying.
“Does it matter? He is your only real option. Without someone with a knowledge of construction that village won’t last.” Faurch says with the kind of conviction that only a merchant has
The kind of conviction that says they’re sure they have backed you into a corner.
“Fine, give me his location and I’ll track him down,” I say with an irritated tone
I confirm the details of the demon’s location on my map before ending the call. It is somewhat out of the way, but I should be able to handle it on the way to the Maou’s castle.
I’m not going to invite a disaster into the village. If this demon turns out to be dangerous or troublesome, then I still have a few ideas in mind. As much as Faurch might like for this to be my only option, I’m not that easily cornered.
With that out of the way, I only have one person left I need to talk to… Thinking about it conjures up a nervous dread in my stomach. I’ve mulled over this conversation a thousand times, but I can’t think of a single way to sway it in my favor.
As I nervously pace towards my destination, I end up arriving before I even notice. Standing before a door I try to work up the courage to knock. I just about work up the resolve when-
creak “Oh, lass!” Tea says as he opens the door, surprised to see me standing on the other side
Startled as well, I am stunned for a moment, before I manage to put on a fake composure.
“I see you haven’t left yet.” I say nervously as I notice the gear is he carrying
“I was just about to actually! After everything you have done for me, I can’t believe your coming to see me off too! Kiel has made such good friends.” Tea says as he begins to carry the gear in hand towards a nearby carriage
“About that actually… How attached are you to that village?” I ask in a small voice as I trail behind him
Tea seems the kind of person to be happy no matter where he is, and that village certainly didn’t seem to appreciate him. Maybe because of that supposedly famous smithy woman, he hardly seemed to get any business.
“Hmm, well, not too attached I guess. I mostly settled down there because there was a cheap store for sale and a lot of nearby materials that seemed fun to play with. Ah! If you found me a job here in the capital I’m going to have to turn you down. I like the freedom that comes from having your own shop, and the materials are a good deal more expensive here.” Tea says with a pained look
Something tells me that isn’t the whole story, but I won’t dig deeper.
“Well, it’s not a job in the capital, but I was hoping to make you an offer. It comes with a shop of your own, clientele that will be happy to buy whatever you make, and materials that are nearly free.” I say, trying to channel my inner saleswoman
“That is certainly a tempting offer lass! How much would it cost me though? It might take me a while to build up the funds for something like that since I just got out of debt.” Tea says with an apologetic tone
“That’s actually the thing about it, it’s more of a job than a offer. In return for one condition I’m willing to give you a shop, a house of your own, all the materials you could want, and even a decent wage.” I say as I plead to him with my eyes
“Lass… You sound desperate. My mentor once told me “If someone offers you the world beyond their means, one of two things are at stake. The world, or the person making the offer.”. Lass, if you are in some kind of trouble, you know that you don’t need to buy my help right?” Tea explains with a troubled expression
sigh “Yes, I do. That is the root of the problem actually. Tea… no matter what, you can never discuss what I am about to tell you with anybody. I need you to promise me.” I plead to him
If anybody else where to betray me, I would have little trouble ending them before they could make things worse. I can’t say the same about Tea. Ever since the very first day I came to this world, Tea has never been anything but kind to me. If Tea were to decide to expose me to the world, I doubt I could bring myself to stop him.
After studying my face for what feels like forever, Tea finally answered.
“I promise, that whatever you are about to tell me will never pass my lips. Whatever trouble a good girl like you is in, I’m sure their is a good explanation.” Tea answers resolutely
sigh I suppose that will have to do.
“I’ve not been entirely honest with you. I’m not the princess of some distant country. I am the Maou, and I was born on the day we met.”