The Guildmaster breathed a light sigh not too long after Erza’s departure.
「Whew. He’s not a bad guy, but I find myself having a bit of a hard time dealing with him.」
I’m guessing he means that he can’t stand Erza on a physiological level or something like that. Fran seems fine, but that’s more so because she hasn’t really developed a sense of personal space yet.
「He’s what I would call a little bit special, you see.」
「Man, but also woman?」
「That’s a part of it.」
A part? There’s more to it?
「Other parts too?」
「It looks like you’ll be stuck dealing with him for quite the time to come, so I guess there shouldn’t be any problems with me telling you. Besides, I’d end up with a few concerns over my own safety if you were to fall into his venomous clutches.」
Dias muttered several things under his breath with a serious look on his face; he seemed to be lost in thought.
「Erza’s what you’d call a man with a woman’s heart. He’s equally interested in both men and women alike, and his tastes span the generations as far as age goes. In fact, both you and I fall into his strike zone. He’s even got an inclination that makes him happy when abused by others.」
『Holy shit! I think I actually just blanked out for a second.』
So he’s a masochistic bisexual manwoman attracted to basically everything and anything? Like, isn’t he, as a living thing, supposed to have instincts that make him only want to tap to certain things? Whatever the hell happened to those? Holy crap, I think this has gone so far that I’m starting to feel physical harm. Each of these facts is as bad as a blow to the gut. I’mma say we should stay as far away from him as possible, for sanity’s sake.
All of what we’d discussed seemed to have gone right over Fran’s head. I can practically see a bunch of question marks floating on top of her.
『I-I do, but I think it’s fine for you not to get it for now.』
『I-It’s a subject for grown ups. You don’t need to get it yet. In fact, I think you’d be happier not getting it than getting it.』
I’d honestly rather prefer that she never gets it, if anything.
『A-All you really have to know is that Erza’s a bit of a weirdo. That’s it.』
（Nn. Got it.）
Whew. Thank god that’s over. I was pretty confident that I’d end up losing my ability to think rationally if I had to actually explain Erza’s inclinations.
「Erza doesn’t believe in simply watching over children lovingly and will act on his urges, but that isn’t to say that he actively goes after them himself either. Despite all else, he still is technically Ulmutt’s ace, so some children do end up developing odd tastes and approaching him on their own.」
Oh, so that’s what he meant by falling into Erza’s venomous clutches? Yeah no, that’s more like getting flat out poisoned and corrupted.
「To tell you the truth, I was actually warned by a certain individual ahead of time that I shouldn’t let you fall into Erza’s clutches… I’m pretty sure I’d end up getting murdered by said individual if I did.」
「Amanda of Hairiti. One of your acquaintances, I presume?」
「She’d sent me a letter by hawk. Here, feel free to take a look if you’d like to see it.」
Dias smiled bitterly as he showed us the letter. It named Fran and described her features before going on and on about how cute and good a kid she was. It ended off by saying that she’d probably stand out, and that Dias should be aware of the fact that other adventurers would likely try to pick on her. It more or less coerced Dias to figure something out and do something about the fact that Erza would definitely end up taking a liking to Fran.
「Erza and Amanda are on pretty good terms, but Amanda refuses to budge when it comes to anything related to children.」
「I mean, again, he’s really not that bad a guy though…」
I really ought to thank Amanda. We owe her so much for having the Guildmaster help us with this whole Erza thing. I mean, we’re grateful she helped us get in touch with the Guildmaster period, but the Erza thing was what truly made me feel like thanking her from the bottom of my heart. Like, I know Erza’s not that bad a guy or anything like that, but chances were, I would’ve flat out snapped if Erza ended up taking a liking to us and following us around everywhere all round the clock.
「Alrighty… Would you mind if we changed topics and started addressing something a bit more serious?」
Dias’ face suddenly went solemn as he brought both hands together in front of him much in the same manner as Commander Ik*ri.
「That sword isn’t just your average everyday sword, is it?」
The next words that came out of his mouth had all the effectiveness of an explosive.
「Heh, curious as to why I found out? How about appraise me again if you want to know?」
「Come on, just give it a shot. I tricked you the first time, you know?」
Hmmm… I guess I’ll do as he says. I’m curious as to how he managed to figure me out, so yeah.
I ended up trying to appraise him again after a moment’s worth of contemplation.
『Hmmm…? He’s got more skills….?』
There weren’t any differences in his stats or skill levels. However, he had two more skills than he had last time: Appraisal Cover Up and Mind Reading. Both new skills were level 8.
「You see them?」
「Appraisal Cover Up can either be used to disguise one’s entire stat page, but that’s not it. You can also focus the skill’s effects on a few specific items in order to completely and totally hide them. I’ve been doing the latter to hide Mind Reading, my trump card.」
Holy shit. Dias’ skillset lets him go after weak points, so giving him a skill like that just flat out makes him completely borked.
「Mind Reading can be used to outwit people, especially when paired with Technically Senile. I’d love to have Appraisal as well, but it seems I don’t really have any affinity for the skill. I just can’t get it no matter how hard I try. Oh well, it’s pretty easy to figure out what weapon and magic based skills someone’s got just by looking at them, and most people tend to think about their skills right before they use them, so I can just deal with whatever comes at me by reading my opponent’s mind ahead of time.」
As I analyzed the skill, I came to realize a pressing issue.
Mind Reading: Allows one to catch a glimpse of a target’s thoughts.
His skill didn’t specify that it could only read the minds of people or intelligent animals. Does that mean he can read my thoughts as well? Even though I’m a sword? Wait, wait, can he read the mind of anything capable of actual thought period?
「Heheheh, looks like you’re panicking. Have you figured it out? It’s exactly as you think. This skill allowed me to come to realize that your sword can think too, Fran.」
『Shit, he just totally read Fran’s mind again.』
「Oh, just so you know, I don’t actually go around randomly reading people’s minds, you know? I just happened to catch sight of the fight you were involved in earlier. I figured I’d read your mind and step in if you happened to want to kill the people that’d bothered you, which would’ve been a fairly easy task seeing as how bloodlust is a simple thing to read. It just so happened that I overheard you seemingly having a telepathic conversation, at which point in time I realized that your sword had the ability to think too.」
So he knew about me right from the moment he first called out to us? Is this why he called Fran here to begin with?
「So why don’t you tell me about that sword of yours?」
『Hmm… It looks like he’s figured most of it out anyway. He’d probably actually get mad if we kept trying to hide anything else, so…』
That said, it wasn’t like he had any real evidence. Playing dumb is probably still an option. We don’t really know what his goal is here, and if worse comes to worst, he might even end up trying to confiscate me and wield me for himself.
「Hahaha, it looks like you really don’t trust me at all. Don’t worry, I won’t do anything that’ll make you worse off. I’ll even swear it in Amanda’s name. I owe her a great deal, so I wouldn’t be able to face her if I wronged you in any which way. Plus, I already told you about my own trump card, so it’s only fair for you to tell me about yours. Right? Come on.」
Dias’ smile contained not even the slightest trace of malice, and it didn’t seem like he was lying either…
Hah…. Well, I guess it can’t be helped. We’ll be staying here for a while, so I don’t want to make an enemy out of the Guildmaster. He’d probably end up figuring out whatever we were thinking anyways, even if we did try to pull one over him.
『Do you mind?』
（Nn. Can’t be helped.）
He pretty much knows anyways.
『I guess it can’t be helped then.』
「Woah, w-was that the sword just now…?」
『Yeah, hi. Fran’s sword speaking.』
「Hahaha! Wow! You can actually speak, just like a human!? I was not expecting that.」
「Nn. Master amazing.」
And so, we did the usual and had Fran explain my name and effectively force the other person to praise it. Luckily, Dias was pretty good at reading the mood, so he complimented Fran’s naming sense a whole bunch, almost too much, in fact.
『So did you need something from me? Or were you just curious?』
「Right, my bad. This is my first time seeing an intelligent weapon, so I ended up getting carried away out of excitement. I admit I was a bit curious, but I also wanted to give the two of you a bit of advice.」
「Yes, advice. Master, Appraisal isn’t too uncommon a skill, but, it seems you’ve kind of just been using it all willy nilly?」
『Yeah, pretty much.』
「I know that I’m not really qualified to say this myself seeing as how I read people’s minds, but you should be more careful on who you use it on since it’ll expose everything they wish to keep a secret. There’s a fair number of people out there who really hate nobles and royals, so you may end up getting arrested under the pretense of being a spy should you be caught using appraisal on either of those two types of people. Many royals even have appraisal detection, so you’ll be noticed immediately. And do keep in mind that the crime will end up falling on Fran’s shoulders in your case.」
You know, he’s got a pretty good point now that I think about it. Appraisal lets you pretty much see everything, so people with lots of secrets would probably hate for it to be used on them. I’d never actually thought about the skill from that kind of perspective before.
「I’m sure that Fran will ultimately end up meeting royals on multiple occasions in the future due to how promising an adventurer she seems, so do take heed of this for when that happens. If not, then…」
Dias gave his neck a light chop instead of finishing his sentence with words.
Yeah, makes sense. Pissing off royalty isn’t exactly something you could get away with, at least not easily. Putting it like that, randomly using Appraisal can lead to terrifying results. I guess I’ll be a bit more prudent.
「That’s all for Appraisal related advice. I still want to advise you on something else too though.」
「You guys haven’t really leveled your detection type skills, have you?」
『What makes you think that?』
「It’s because you didn’t realize when I used Technically Senile, Mind Reading, Induced Thought, or Induced Line of Sight. I mean, I am good at hiding the fact that I’m using them, but you guys are just way too defenseless, you know? Strength in combat aside, you guys are really unguarded for people that’ve got something to hide, you’re just flat out unbalanced. You should’ve been able to realize that something was amiss had you trained your ability to detect as much as you had your ability to fight.」
We do have a whole slew of detection type skills, but most of them are rather low leveled. The highest would be Presence Detection, and even that’s just level 5.
『So is having level 5 Presence Detection just not enough?』
「It isn’t. You’ll either want at least one level 8 skill or three level 6 skills if you want to go up against any tougher opponents.」
Both those options are pretty far off.
「It isn’t an absolute necessity in general. You could always act in much the same manner as Erza, who claims to have nothing to hide, but that wouldn’t quite do for the two of you now, would it?」
『Yeah, I’d like as few people to know about me as possible.』
「I happen to have a pretty good place for you guys to train. Want to check it out?」
『You mean the dungeon?』
「Exactly. You know that Ulmutt’s got two dungeons, right?」
「The western dungeon is for beginners. It contains very few traps, and most of the magic beasts inside of it will fight you head on. It’s a good place for newbies to grind up their levels. The eastern one is effectively the western’s opposite. It’s for more experienced adventurers, and contains lots of traps. The magic beasts within it also like to set up ambushes, with the inclination only growing stronger as you dive deeper into the dungeon’s depths. Many D ranked adventurers have ended up losing their lives within the eastern dungeon’s confines.」
『So what you’re saying is that you want us to head to the eastern one to train up our detection skills?』
「You guessed it. The eastern dungeon is perfect for anyone that wants to get better at detection. So, how about it? You probably won’t be able to suddenly bump your skill levels up, but it should still be worth your time. You normally have to prove yourself in the western dungeon before being admitted to the eastern one, but I’ll offer you guys a chance to bypass all that if you want.」
『I guess that’s fine? I mean, we were planning to go dungeon diving anyways…』
I don’t really know if we’ll manage to actually start leveling our skills up, but, we should at least be able to train a bit in order to actually get better at using some of them. It’s usually pretty hard to get practice with detection based skills, so I’m totally fine with taking that as a bit of an added bonus. That said though, I can’t help but feel a bit bothered by all this.
『But why go so far?』
I just can’t seem to bring myself to trust him. I doubt he’d do this much for us sheerly out of good will.
「Hahaha, I’m not trying to trick you, you know? It’s just that this happens to be something that benefits the guild.」
「Nn? Me exploring east dungeon benefits guild?」
「Yes it does. The western dungeon is filled with newbies, none of which will actually be able to tell how strong you are. I can say for sure that you’ll end up getting in even more trouble if you end up going west.」
Ah, I see. The tournament is coming up soon, so Ulmutt’s getting a huge influx of adventurers. With more people, you tend to get more idiots, meaning more people that’d try to pick a fight with Fran. The guild would probably be pretty happy if it manages to minimize the amount of commotion caused by her.
「There are very few adventurers exploring the eastern dungeon to begin with, but those that are are also relatively experienced. They likely won’t mess with you so long as the guild makes an announcement or two.」
『Hence, you’d prefer us dive into the eastern dungeon as opposed to the western one?』
「Exactly, it’s a deal that benefits us both. So, how about it?」
『What do you think, Fran?』
「I don’t mind.」
「Good, good. It looks like you’re nice and motivated.」
The Guildmaster seemed to have expected our answer, as he immediately pulled an eastern dungeon permit with Fran’s name carefully inscribed on it. Holy crap, he was totally ready for us.
Real talk, I really can’t hate Dias, but I can’t bring myself to trust him either.