There was a cup of coffee served in front of me.
"I didn't expect you to stop our transport vehicle by yourself! You must be a very famous adventurer!"
"I'm not that famous. It's true that until a while ago I was a member of an S-rank party, but now I'm just an unknown traveler."
We were in a room inside a large company. We had a meeting with a man who referred to himself as the "Vice President."
It all started when we stopped the Ceratops-drawn carriage.
There was some damage to the carriage, but the gentleman was safe, the cargo was mostly intact and the Ceratop was unharmed.
A person from a transport company who got word of the commotion brought us here to talk when he heard the whole story.
Now we are drinking coffee together.
It is a delicious coffee. The aroma is good, and the bitterness and acidity are just right. It is similar to the taste of the high quality beans I used to drink.
"So what did you want to talk to me about?
"Oh, right. It's about a reward. Thank you very much for stopping our transport. It may not be much, but please accept this."
He placed about twenty silver coins on the table. It's not like I helped him because I wanted money. But since he is giving it to me, I will gladly accept it.
I will use this money to take Kaede out for a delicious meal.
"Master, aren't you going to ask him?
Kaede, who is standing next to me, whispers in my ear.
I was a bit startled by her nice, clear voice.
What should I ask?
Well, this is a transport company, isn't it?
If this man is in the same business, he must know where I can find this Jonathan guy.
"If I may, there's something I'd like to ask you. Do you know where I can find someone named Jonathan?"
"Yes, he's my boss."
"I see. In that case, I would like to speak to him, I have a letter from Count Roane that I need to deliver to him."
"Sure, let me check."
I handed the letter to the vice president. He checked the corners of the letter and then handed it back to me.
"There is no doubt that this letter is legitimate. Please wait a moment."
He got up from his seat and headed for the living room.
This is a great coincidence.
The carriage I helped a moment ago turned out to belong to a company owned by Jonathan.
I was lucky I didn't have to get in trouble with strangers in order to find him.
There was a knock at the door and a man entered the room.
The man who entered had a plump figure. But the next man who entered the room was a thin, middle-aged man with long red hair and a nice mustache under his nose.
They sat on the couch in front of us.
"I am Jonathan Rockbell, the president of this company. I understand you have a letter from the Earl of Roane, may I see it?"
After receiving the envelope, he checked the sender and addressee, then removed the seal.
Several sheets of paper came out from inside.
After reading, he smiled slightly, perhaps because the content was interesting.
"You seem to have performed quite admirably in Einark, Toru-Dono."
"I don't think it was anything that impressive. I just did what I had to do."
"Hmm, you're a very modest fellow. No wonder the Count holds you in high regard."
"What, does he hold me in esteem?"
"There are many compliments about you written in this letter."
He waves the letter with a smile on his face.
I want to read what it says, but he probably won't show me.
However, I've had a few conversations with Count Roane and felt no affection for me at any time.
After all, you can't read the emotions of aristocrats.
Or am I insensitive?
"All right, I'll do as the count asked. Anything for an old friend."
"What was it that he asked you?
"I can't say it here."
And where can you say it?
Everything is becoming more and more confusing.
"You'll have to excuse me, but I need some time. I would appreciate it if you could come back here in the evening."
"So tomorrow you'll explain everything to me?"
He responded to my words with "I promise."
What the hell does that mean?
Do you want me to come back tonight?
You're being selfish, Jonathan.
I decided to come back tonight, feeling puzzled inside.
As night fell, Kaede and I stood in front of the transportation company. There was a carriage parked there, as if waiting for us to arrive.
It was a black carriage, and had a very atypical decoration.
It seemed to be something that aristocrats would use for stealth at night.
The window curtains are closed so as to not let anyone look inside.
Jonathan opened the carriage door and stepped out.
"I've been waiting for you, come in."
As we got into the carriage, we realized that he was the only one inside.
Then the carriage began to move, as if it had a predestined course.
"Never tell anyone about where we're going."
"Is it a dangerous place?"
"No, but it's a secret location. The place you are going to see is one that commoners cannot know exists. Only aristocrats can rub elbows with each other in such a place."
Rub elbows? You don't say. We're gonna...
My expectations were correct. The carriage was headed to a palace that was located on the outskirts of the royal capital.
"Roane's request is for you to meet with someone important. I'll keep the details to myself for now, but it won't be a bad thing. In fact, I'm sure it will be something beneficial to you."
"I can agree to that."
As we pass through the magnificent gates and vast gardens, we stop in front of a huge structure.
Jonathan exited the carriage first, and Kaede and I went down next.
At the entrance, a young man who looked like a butler greeted us and led us inside the palace.
The high-ceilinged entrance is a masterpiece.
The facade of the building has a staircase that spreads out its rails and is decorated all over.
Being a rich man is not the same as being born to be a rich man.
Even high-ranking aristocrats cannot own such a building.
I already had an answer for where I was.
We went through a room on the second floor and sat on the couch.
Everything is brilliant and disturbing.
I was a little nervous.
As an adventurer I have seen and been to many places, but never something like this.
The door opens without warning and two knights, along with an elderly man, enter the room.
The old man sits face to face in front of us and the knights stand on either side to protect him.
"This is a private hearing, and I'm not supposed to meet with you. You should know that."
It was the old man who initiated the conversation.
Jonathan responds briefly and bows slightly.
"Well, I allowed you the visit tonight because there's something I want you to do, and that's incumbent upon you, adventurer."
Hey, do I have to answer?
Jonathan, what do I do?
He nodded his head as he noticed my reaction.
"What do you need me to do?"
"Well, the truth is that the royal capital is in danger. If the situation escalates, the country will soon be destroyed. I want you to solve it."
"I regret the crisis the royal capital is going through, but... Can you be more specific about your request?"
I don't like beating around the bush in a conversation.
If there is something you want me to do, say so clearly.
The old man paused and then replied.
"Let's get straight to the point. I want you to defeat the Ant Queen of Death."
I could not understand his words. It took me 1 minute to respond.
"You want two people to defeat a monster that requires an army of tens of thousands of people?"
"To be precise, just defeat the queen. I'm not saying kill all the monsters."
"But the queen is locked in her hive, and the result is the same. Why don't you take care of it yourself instead of asking me?"
Why the silence?
Wouldn't it make sense to have your army available for this mission?
Or are they in a no-win situation?
"The soldiers of our army have all died. We have failed."
I was speechless.
So he blew it. He resorts to what power he has left to ask me for help.
He no longer has that kind of power to figure it out on his own.
Ah, now I'm beginning to understand everything.
Count Roane thought that I, the one who had defeated one of the leaders of the demon race, could save the royal capital from imminent danger. Otherwise, they would have no choice but to abandon the capital.
Death Ants are ruthless monsters with voracious appetites that are capable of wiping out a town or city in a matter of days.
When separated, they are not as strong, but when in a group, they become extremely dangerous.
They top the list of monsters you should never face carelessly.
"I want you to tell me whether or not you can do it."
"I can do it."
Not only was the old man in front of me shocked, but also the knights and Jonathan were stunned."
Kaede was the only one who looked natural.
"If you succeed, I'll give you a special title, and land you desire! I'll give you the title of Hero!"
"I'm sorry, but I'm not interested in that kind of thing. If I had to ask for something, it would be money."
The interior of the room was noisy again.
It seems that my answer was unexpected for them.
The old man in front of me was mumbling, "Hm, money."
"Okay, I will pay you if you comply with this request."
"How much will you give me?"
That is outrageous. It's a very small price to pay when the real capital is in grave danger.
Of course, I have every right to decline that offer.
This was all Roane's idea.
But I don't feel comfortable overlooking people who are in danger, especially if I have a power that can solve it. It's a hassle, but I'll follow my heart and deal with it.
"I'll ask again, do you really not want the title of 'Hero'?"
"I don't like to stand out in a crowd. I'd rather you didn't mention my name, I don't care about such things."
Once the conversation was over, we stood up.
As I was leaving, I heard someone behind me say something like, "I hope they don't give you a title."