Had I seen this coming, I would’ve put off my report for later.
I ran into an unexpected visitor on my way to meet Mayer, and I could only fidget with the report in my hands, smiling awkwardly.
“Tragula, reporting my safe return along with the six of squad Yellow Lightning.”
Tragula was a slender man with impressive, neatly combed hair and eyes that curved like a fox’s. As Sevi had never met him before, it was natural that the boy couldn’t accurately read his presence. I had assumed that Tragula would return around the time we finished dealing with the dragon. Would his earlier-than-expected appearance turn out to be a good or bad thing? At least for Mayer, it seemed to be the latter. The captain frowned in displeasure and said, “You returned early without contacting anyone. As far as I am aware, you had around two more dungeons to handle.”
“Oh dear, I thought I’d matched the numbers before coming back. It’s hard to keep track when you’ve been closing ten or some low-level dungeons, you know? And I end up forgetting when I’ve made contact or received supplies.”
“They say it is time to retire once you start forgetting. It would be troublesome to lose track of mind and end up dying in a dungeon.”
Meyer was more unreserved than I expected. He completely branded Tragula as a traitor and didn’t hide his hostility in the least. The air was so tense to the point of making me tremble as a bystander. And yet… Tragula was a formidable man. Daring to act so brazen in front of a superior expressing such hate, not backing down in the slightest before Mayer’s fearsome look… If I were in his shoes, I would’ve immediately resigned. Or should I say deserted? After trading a blow of words, the two locked eyes. I tried to make myself inconspicuous in the corner, not wanting to get involved in their suffocating stand-off.
“Nevertheless, isn’t it a relief that I remember the way back to Nochtentoria?”
“Indeed. Although it is unsure when you will forget.”
At this point, Mayer may as well have carried out a sacrificial ritual to have the man leave the corps…! The captain’s reaction was an unwelcome one. I had been thinking of having Tragula stay in the Dark Knights. The plan was to steadily persuade Mayer after taking down the dragon… Why did Tragula have to come back so soon? I grumbled quietly inside. It was uncomfortable to have to act like a fish out of water, but I was perfectly fine putting up with this much discomfort… As long as they kept ignoring me.
After slyly exchanging words with Mayer, Tragula finally reached the end of his patience. “Still, shouldn’t you have given prior notice on such an important matter? About appointing the vice-captain of our expedition corps. I would’ve been in the dark had I not been informed by another corps I met by chance,” he sneered.
Oh, so his sudden return was because of me? I coughed slightly at finding out my unexpected involvement in this. But putting that aside… Rumors of my appointment had already spread to the other corps’? Then again, it had been almost 9 months since I had joined. As the Dark Knights were called the strongest expedition corps, the other corps’ were bound to pay attention to our internal affairs. The rumors had most likely spread a long time ago. It was actually stranger that Tragula only now found out about me. Had word spread to Fabian Corps as well? It would be a lie to say I didn’t want to know what sort of face Fabian would’ve made upon hearing the news. Crude curiosity bubbled up in me for an instant before disappearing.
Tragula’s squad had left the base before last year’s performance report meeting. Since the meeting was a place where you could meet the other expedition corps’, I could infer that Mayer didn’t want to take Tragula along. And so his squad spent close to a year moving around the empire closing dungeons. Of course, he would have spent more time on the move than actually raiding. Tragula was mobilized as a sort of troubleshooter to aid not only the Dark Knights but other bases of allied expedition corps’. But he, Mayer, and even I knew that the job was nothing so fancy in reality.
Nevertheless, he endured through it all as he couldn’t let down the honor of being one of the Dark Knights. The man had more tenacity, skills, and ambition than I thought… And look at him, he didn’t seem to lack perception either. Tragula wasn’t still in the Dark Knights because he failed to notice Mayer’s hostility. He was just hanging in there regardless.