43-Former associates

 Spinoza and Sayla were out patrolling the city.
 Then they must be somewhere in the city.
 We were walking around looking for them.

"Where's this Spinoza guy selling oil?
Most likely a casino or a tavern.
Well, let's try the casino first.
We don't have to go out and get her, we can just leave the bottle on the side of the road and set up a net and she'll come to us.
It's like catching a bug. ...... No, that's him. I'm afraid the odds are not zero.

 After all, he likes alcohol.
 If you are rubbing money in a casino, you can't consume alcohol, and you may be grasping at straws and fall into a trap.
 ...... I'm getting sad saying this.
 Anyway, I was walking to the casino.

That's Zeke!

 Zeke!" "It's Zeke!" I was called from the other side of the street.
 I looked over and saw my old friends there. It was Haruna and Irene, former members of the [Red Lotus Fang] party.

"You guys?

 I stopped and turned to face them.
 The two of them used to be on bad terms, but now they've reconciled. The relationship is good enough that we can talk normally face to face like this.

Haruna said, "I think you've gotten pretty good at being a gatekeeper.
 Haruna said.
"Yeah. It looks good on you. You look good.

 Irene said as if to cheer me up.
 I chuckled.

What about you guys? Did you find a job?

 After the party's base of operations in Estor was destroyed by Nacht, they came to this city with nowhere to go.
 The party had disbanded and they were looking for work.

"Yes. I'm perfect. I'm a part-time teacher at a magic academy.
"Oh. That's great.
Yeah. If you're as talented as I am, you'll be able to find another job.

 Haruna said proudly as she pinched the brim of her triangular hat.
 She used to be a party wizard. She had made a name for herself as a super-firepowered runaway wizard with lots of gaps and zero defense.
Oh, yeah. I'm also helping to set up wards around the city.
Is that so?
I'm a genius wizard and I'm lending you my power. No matter what kind of demons come, I won't let them break the wards.

 Haruna sniffed, "Hmmm.

That should make your job a little easier.
"That'd be great.
 I say.
"Where's Irene?
 I asked her, who was the party's archer.
"We're looking for her now. I'm going to take it easy for a while. I've got a little bit of money saved up from being an adventurer.
"I see.
Maybe I'll join the Guards. Zeke will protect me. Zeke will protect me and we can reunite the Red Lotus Fang there.

 Irene says in a tone that is neither serious nor joking.

"...... I'm sorry, but... Even if you join the Guards, you won't necessarily get the same assignment as him. Right now, the fifth squad is overstaffed.

 Pham, who was hiding behind my back, muttered.

"Who are you?
This is Pham. He's my colleague in the Guard. He's also a member of the squad I'm leading now. He's a bit shy, but he's a good archer.

 Irene looked into Pham's face.

Are you worried that we'll take your position?
"You and I have the same character and the same position. The downer type and the quiet cool type. You're afraid of losing to us, aren't you?
...... Huh. What do you think you're saying? There's no way I'm losing to you. I'll take the mascot spot in the 5th squad.
Femme. Did you really think you were the mascot? Don't you have any shame in calling yourself a freak?

 I think you'd ruin it if you called yourself that.

It's a good thing. I'm not sure what to make of it, but I think it's a good idea. ...... Speaking of which, what's with the bouquet of flowers you're holding in your chest? I'm sure you'll be able to figure it out.

 I look at Haruna and Irene.
 They were holding a bouquet of flowers.

"Oh. This? They're for Nahat's grave.


 Nahato was the leader of the Red Lotus Fang that we belonged to, and after he fell to the demon tribe, he destroyed the city of Esthar and invaded the royal capital.
 And then he confronted me, and he died.

He's a former comrade, after all. I should at least pay my respects to him. Well, I guess he'll say he's not interested in flowers.
Yeah," I said. But I think he'll be happy.
"I hope it's .......

 Haruna smiled softly and kindly.

"Well, good luck with your work. If you need anything, just let us know. We're here to help you.

 We exchanged greetings and then parted ways.
 We walked for a while.
 Fam, who was standing next to me, looked up at me and asked.

They're the girls, aren't they? They used to be in the party with you.
Yes, but...
You've been neglected a lot in your life, haven't you? They started out with a normal attitude, but as their fame grew, they became arrogant.
You know a lot.
Don't underestimate my network of contacts in the shadows.

 Femme said.

...... What they've done to you is a betrayal of trust. Normally, I would find that repulsive. But you accept it, don't you?
I've already made my peace with them.

 I smiled.

"And there's no such thing as a man who doesn't make mistakes. It's how you live now that matters. If he's sorry, I'm fine with that.

I thought, "......, if you keep that up, you might get caught flat-footed one day. That could be a mortal wound.
"No problem. As long as I'm strong enough to keep my feet on the ground.

 I won't be scooped up.
 Fam's mouth dropped open as I said that.

"Hmm? What's wrong? Did I say something funny?
No, I just thought you were an interesting person. No, I just think you're an interesting person, a man to whom I've decided it's worth devoting my precious life time.

 Pham let out a chuckle of amusement.