I now sat inside a carriage provided by Duke Barga as we returned to Fort Barga from the capital. The carriage was escorted by the Knights of West Barga, who’d specifically came to pick us up. Two men on horseback approached the carriage, one of them was the Knight Brigade Vice Leader Viscount Butler Canyon, while the other was the Barga family escort commander.
“Shaft, I heard from the Commander. You’ve done quite well in the Capital and Veneer.”
“Pardon me, but we still took a lot of casualties on the return trip.”
“It’s impossible to have a job go perfectly all the time. The most important thing is that Lapitirica-sama is safe, and that’s a fact. Otherwise, there’d be no point for escorts to exist.”
“As His Highness Viscount said, we’ve pledged our lives to His Excellency. Thanks to Shaft-dono, we were able to fulfill our mission.”
“Sorry that I can stay to serve Duke Barga. After this, I guess you guys can rely on him.”
All three of us turned to the person riding at the front of the carriage, the young knight who’d acted as my body double.
“That young man isn’t half bad. Even among the knights, he’s an exceptional swordsman. If Lapitirica-sama marriage to the Royal Family goes smoothly, I think I’ll write a recommendation letter for him.”
“Why, doesn’t Shaft-dono apply to become a knight? Given your achievement, His Excellency Duke Barga should’ve given you an ample reward.”
“I’m not interested in becoming a knight. But if you ask me, if there is something I want for completing the mission, then I do have one thing.”
“Hoo, here I thought you were the type that hid your gree well. If there is indeed something you’d like, then please convey it to His Excellency Duke Later.”
Viscount Caymon seemed to take special note to my response. Then, I guess all I needed to do was ask. If it’s impossible, then so be it.
Three days after leaving the capital, the Fort Barga finally came into sight. Through the days, there’d been no sign of the Dark Guild anywhere, and nothing occurred as well. I’d been idle the entire time, enjoying the scenery during the journey. To be honest, it was a bit boring.
Now that I thought about it, there was something.
At one point during the journey, I’d been too idle for my own tastes. So I decided to look around with the FLIR mode on. When we’d set up camp in the rest area, I’d gotten off the carriage and went to help Lapticia-sama and Ashley off. When I looked to the rear of the carriage, I saw something. Coming from the carriage I was in was the Duke and Duchess. I’d seen something like a lump of heat. But why was there a lump there?
I opened the door and helped the girls off, but I kept my eye on it the entire time. Afterward, I approached the Duke and Duchess carriage. I signaled the driver to stop, walked closer, then– opened the cabin door vigorously.
Whoops, it seemed that something just fell on the ground.
“Oh? Thank you, Shaft-kun.”
“We arrived at the rest area, Your Excellency.”
I waited for Duke Barga to exit, then helped the Duchess climb down. After seeing them off, I looked behind me.
“What in the world was that for, ‘Black Mask Shaft’?”
“I should be the one asking . Have you been stalking the Duke wherever he goes like that?”
“What are you saying? I’m not doing anything wrong. As Frank-sama’s escort, I have to be by his side day and night. Whether he’s going out, eating, or heading to the bathroom, I need to stay by his side until he goes to bed.”
This woman, kuuuuuuueeeeeeeeehhhhhh!
“I’m going, ‘Annoying Bug Shaft’, Frank-sama is waiting for me.”
As I watched Vi leave to chase after the Duke, I noticed a man following slowly behind her. He must’ve been the Duke’s exclusive male escort. Whether he noticed my gaze, or not, I could see that he had an exhausted look on his face. I see… He must’ve struggled hard…
“… Yeah, of course..”
That was pretty much the only notable event during the journey.
When we arrived at the Duke’s home in Barga, Bardiche Castle, I was guided to the Duke’s office.
“Shaft-kun, I hereby declare the escort request has come to an end. It was for a short time, but thank you for your assistance.”
“I’m glad to be of help.”
As for the reward we’ve decided in advance, in order to prepare that something for you, I have written this letter. You can bring it to the Mercenary Guild in town.”
I received the letter and lightly scanned it. It seemed that everything I requested was listed.
“Thank you for your kindness.”
“Rather, I’m wondering whether it’s enough. Would you accept becoming a knight if I increased the reward?”
“No, the current reward is more than enough. Very well then, I’ll excuse myself now.”
I decided to leave as soon as possible. If we talked too long, I was afraid he’d ask for another favor. So, let’s just receive the reward and get out of here. Being favored by the Duke was one thing, working for him was an entirely different matter. I’d only do it if it’s in the form of a request. I excused myself and headed to Lapitirica-sama’s room.
It wasn’t set in stone yet, whether Lapitirica-sama would marry the prince or not. However, I was sure she was the best candidate. If there’s no one else with superior ability and achievement comes the third prince’s next birthday, then she’d become his bride. Until that day, Lapitirica-sama would still need to continue training hard.
In her room, Lapitirica-sama thanked me for my service and bade me goodbye for now. Although we actually worked in the same team to conquer the Green Ogre Labyrinth, the me who escorted her these past days was different from me then. Our social statuses were different, and so were our roles. The next time we’d meet, It’ll be under different circumstances as well.
While I thought so, I left the castle.
Ashley waited for me outside the gate. For now, we’d head to the General Guild together. Ashley would resign from her position, while I’d claim my reward.
As we walked down the street, we reviewed our future plans. Ashley would head back to the Zephanel family’s head home in the southern parts of Kurtmerga Kingdom. She’d received her order to lead a subjugation force against pirates. Apparently, it’ll take two months to travel to the southern port by carriage.
Therefore, after reorganizing her stuff in the city, Ashley would head back to the capital. From there she’d join a transfer magic team that is heading there in order to shorten the time. In the meantime, I’d conquer the Wolf Labyrinth. Defeat that guy, and show those who dropped me into this world what I’m made of. Then I’ll head south by land. I’d most likely arrive there much later than Ashley, but it couldn’t be helped. I intended to use VMB’s vehicles to cut down the travel time as much as possible.
We confirmed our plans before Ashley entered the General Guild’s main office. I then headed to the Mercenary Guild.