The guild’s staff members retrieved Celldio’s corpse as his servants were escorted to the guild’s dungeon.
We, on the other hand, accompanied Dias so we could tell him exactly what had happened.
One of the female employees brought us a cup of tea as we arrived at the guildmaster’s office.
「Oh man! Someone’s finally gone and done it! You have no idea how badly I wanted this to happen.」
Dias let go of Fran’s arm the moment he closed the door behind him and immediately both bowed and began singing her praise.
「Thank you very much!」
「Celldio’s group was a tumour that Kranzel’s Adventurer’s Guild needed removed. I really can’t thank you enough helping us get rid of them.」
The fact that Dias went as far as calling Celldio a tumour really served to evidence just how much the viscount was disliked.
「Did you appraise him?」
「Then I’m guessing you must’ve thought he was rather weak for an A ranker?」
Dias’ speculation had hit the nail on the head. I was convinced that there was no way Celldio was anything more than a B ranker in terms of strength.
I’d thought that he’d made it all the way up for a reason opposite the one for which Fran was denied a promotion. In other words, I’d assumed that he’d been classified as an A ranker because of a series of outstanding accomplishments or something similar.
But apparently that wasn’t the case.
「A ranked adventurers are effectively heroes. Strength is a requirement that can’t be forgone or ignored, though you’re right in assuming that one also needs a series of achievements in order to qualify.」
What Dias meant was that it wasn’t possible for someone weak to become an A ranker regardless the deeds they had to their name, a fact that seemed to contradict the reality presented by Celldio’s status.
「Despite our strict requirements, the lunatic you just dealt with still managed to get himself deemed an A ranker. Can you guess why?」
『What you’ve said so far seems to insinuate that A rankers have to undergo some sort of combat trial. I don’t really see how he could’ve possibly managed to worm his way past it.』
「You see, there are actually four requirements one needs to fulfill in order to be recognized as an A ranked adventurer. The first is strength, the second is having significant accomplishments, the third is for the person to have done enough for the guild, and the fourth is to be acknowledged by at least 15 different guildmasters.」
The requirements were strict, with the last seeming almost borderline impossible.
「Or at least that is how it would work under normal circumstances. Unfortunately, skills happen to make him capable of circumventing our prerequisites.」
「Let me rephrase. How many female guildmasters do you think this country happens to have?」
His question kicked my brain into gear and allowed me to figure out what he was getting at.
『I’m guessing you’re talking about the skills he had that worked against the opposite sex? I’m assuming that ladykiller title he’s got probably helped in some way too.』
「That’s right. He sank his fangs into seven different female guildmasters.」
The “Leaves Good Impressions on the Opposite Sex” skill seemed to be one that brought about goodwill, whereas the “Opposite Sex Attraction” skill functioned as a sort of charm.
His ladykiller title made it so that any women that happened to have even the slightest bit of a good impression of him would instantly be smitten.
「He was able to win them over with even the slightest mention of love.」
『And that’s how he got himself promoted all the way up?』
「It was more like they tried offering him. One of his supporters was a lady 40 years his senior, one with quite a bit of influence.」
Wait, how’d he pull off the whole A rank thing with only seven backers?
「The rest he bribed, pressured using his parents’ influence, and made promises to. He used all sorts of methods in order to achieve his goal.」
「Guild still holding up?」
『That sounds pretty concerning to me.』
「Sorry. Guildmasters are people too. We’re imperfect, and some of us are just flat out scum.」
『Yeah, I know what you’re trying to get at.』
The politicians and police officers back on Earth weren’t exactly guilt free either. A guildmaster failing to fulfill its duty seemed to be something along the same lines as that.
「Fortunately, I can say that I’ve put in a lot of work and made it so that all but three of the guildmasters that approved Celldio have been deprived of their positions.」
『Wait, he’s still an A rank despite the fact that most of his supporters have been replaced?』
「Unfortunately, not even us guildmasters are capable of doing too much to A rankers. Individuals recognized as A ranked adventurers are given increased liberties alongside a right to give voice to their own opinions. We have to keep in mind that rescinding a promotion we granted is an act that would put a stain on the guild’s honour.」
That seemed quite troublesome given that a good number of guildmasters seemed to be obsessed with precedents.
「I’ve been keeping an eye on Celldio’s group ever since he was first granted his rank in hopes of finding an incident that would allow me to derank him. Unfortunately, there never was one.」
『But doesn’t he extort people on a regular basis?』
「His actions are technically classified as legal. He goes overboard, but he does still pay as opposed to just running away with his golde. To make matters worse, none of his targets ever end up trying to prosecute him.」
『Huh? Really? Why wouldn’t they? Doesn’t he jack their weapons?』
「You only think that way because you’re the exact type he doesn’t want to mess with. You’re strong, you’ve got quite a bit of influence, and you’ve got just the right attitude one needs to deal with him. Most C rankers would immediately yield if they found themselves confronting an A ranker that comes from a family headed by a marquis, especially if the A ranker in question happens to have a pretty bad reputation.」
That did kinda make sense. Losing one’s weapon is far better than losing one’s life, after all.
「Though, the most annoying and difficult to deal with part about that viscount was the fact that he had too many screws loose.」
『How exactly does that make him difficult to deal with?』
「Some magic items have the ability to detect crime. The problem is that they function off the thoughts of the people they’re used on, so they won’t respond if their targets think they’re in the legal right.」
In other words, items that could’ve normally detected crimes didn’t work on Celldio because he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong.
『Wait, but didn’t one of his titles say he was an elixir addict?』
The way it was worded kinda made him seem like some sort of druggie.
「Elixirs are often used in medical treatments, so ingesting them on a regular basis is in fact not a sin in and of itself. Some dumber nobles also consider ingesting elixirs to be a regular pastime. They don’t think of it as a crime or sin.」
That meant that catching Celldio for his addiction would also entail doing the same to every other noble that happened to be in the same boat. It seemed like something that wouldn’t go smoothly, and could potentially worsen the guild’s relationships with the country’s nobles. Going through with the idea was, all in all, a huge pain in the ass.
「Elixirs are terrifying drugs that provide powerful feelings of exhilaration to those who drink them, with the only recompense being a bit of brain damage. It’s often used by nobles and individuals that reside within royal palaces in order to turn people in power into easily manipulable puppets.」
「That’s why messed up in head?」
「I think so. Celldio was still capable of speaking and thinking, but he seemed to have lost the ability to reason. His symptoms make it seem like he was made to drink a very specific amount of the drug on a regular basis.」
『Now that you mention it, it did kinda feel like his party members were manipulating him.』
「Hmm… that’s hard to say. If it were up to me, I’d say the blame likely lies with the marquis himself.」
『You sure? Wouldn’t the marquis actually end up losing face if Celldio causing trouble? The public would probably end up accusing the marquis of drugging him if they found out why he lost his mind, right?』
Plus, manipulating one’s own son didn’t quite seem like anything that would ultimately prove beneficial.
「I’d say that the marquis’ choice was actually a good one for the sole reason that Celldio had once been genuine scum. I think he’s guilty of about 10 different cases of assault, rape and robbery alone. He covered them all up, either through the use of his household’s power, or the authority that belonged to the female guildmaster he had wrapped around his finger at the time. And as for any that accused to oppose him?」
Dias took his thumb and dragged it across his neck.
『Wait, are you saying he’d have them assassinated?』
「Exactly. His father is a marquis, so it’s only natural for him to be familiar with darker dealings, hence why he’s better off in his current state. The only drawback is that anyone that talks to him can tell that he’s a lunatic.」
So I guess that means the marquis drugged his son to more or less make it seem like he had reformed?
「There’s that, but you can’t forget that having an A ranked adventurer as a puppet is something that comes with an incredibly large number of benefits. Nobles normally aren’t supposed to be able to issue orders to the adventurer’s guild, but Celldio’s father could do exactly that through him. As a result, the marquis had effectively bolstered his own forces to unfathomable heights.」
It seemed that many adventurers were willing to abide by an A ranker’s will even if they happened to dislike the A ranker in question.
『Alright, I’m following so far, but why was drugging Celldio a necessary part of all this? Couldn’t the marquis have just ordered him around instead?』
「He seemed to have come to the conclusion that Celldio, as he had been in the past, was far too stupid to actually become an A ranker. There’s also the fact that Celldio probably wouldn’t have obeyed his father after ranking up even if he had somehow managed to do it on his own. To the marquis, drugging his son was the quicker, simpler solution.」
Hearing Dias’ explanation made me almost want to immediately exclaim that the marquis’ heart was black as coal. Getting involved with the nobility appeared to be something we wanted to avoid by all means.
「Marquis Ashtonah had probably never viewed Celldio has anything more than a disposable pawn to begin with given that he was an illegitimate child. Keeping Celldio around was detrimental if anything, given how his very presence would be more than enough to start a power struggle.」
I was able to understand Dias’ explanation, but I couldn’t quite accept it as something I found reasonable. That, of course, wasn’t to say that I didn’t have any questions.
『So why did his subordinates encourage him to extort people? Wouldn’t it be a better idea to just to have him kept in check given all the shit they had to go through to make him an A ranker?』
Celldio’s reputation probably would’ve been much better had he not started stepping out of line. He probably would’ve had much more influence over the guild too.
「That’s something I’ve been wondering as well. The rumour is that they’ve been looking for Godblades. The Weapon Control skill he had made him rather well suited for doing exactly that.」
『So you think they’ve been going around extorting people in hopes of potentially coming accross a Godblade?』
「Again, I don’t really know the answer to that myself. All I can say for certain is that they do have some sort of reason.」
One of the guild’s employees knocked on the door right as Dias finished speaking. The employee’s timing was pretty decent, so he immediately replied by telling them they could enter.
「Guildmaster, could I direct your attention to something?」
「We’ve managed to retrieve several items from within Celldio’s Dimensional Ring.」
The employee presented a small vial of liquid alongside what appeared to be some sort of document.
「The bottle contains elixir as evidenced by its contents not shaking about as the container moves around. This document, on the other hand…. seems to be a list of Godblades?」
The information pertaining to Godblades caught my interest, so I had Fran reposition herself so that I could peak at it. It contained a list of names as well as several drawings and descriptions that could potentially allow one to better recognize the blades in question.
The exact items listed differed slightly from the ones we saw on the document Rumina had showed us.
Was the one we were looking at now more up to date or something?
「I’m surprised you managed to open his item box. Something like this would normally come with a sort of security measure.」
「We were immediately told how to open the box after Erza began his interrogations.」
「So which one spilled the beans, exactly?」
「Makes sense. Bad boys are Erza’s type, after all.」
Oh god. Oh my god. Erza, what the hell did you do to that poor man!? I kinda wanted to ask, but I also really didn’t want to know. The way the staff member was acting clearly demonstrated that it was, at the very least, a method outside the norm.
Erza showed up the moment I swore never to piss him off. Seeing him caused me to immediately force myself to forget the fact that he seemed to be basking in some sort of afterglow.
「Good work, Erza. Have you learned anything?」
「Mhm. I’ve got quite the bit of intel for you. I managed to squeeze a whole lot of info out of him after thoroughly exhausting him. It seemed they didn’t think that the sword’s curse would work because they thought Celldio’s Weapon Control skill would let him circumvent it.」
It seemed that was why they egged him on instead of stopping him.
「Oh, and they didn’t really say this explicitly, but, it seems they’re working under Marquis Ashtonah’s orders.」
「Did you happen to find out why they wanted to deprive Fran of her weapon?」
「Want to know.」
「It’s a weeeeaaaally stupid reason. They were really rotten on the inside, but A ranked adventurers nonetheless. They had a lot of information the guild normally kept secret from the public, so the marquis had ordered them to go looking for Godblades. But they ran into a pretty big problem, one they sowed for themselves. Funny enough, Celldio ended up a bit too broken and immediately got fixated on every magic sword he came across. They weren’t actually able to control him.」
I couldn’t help but agree with Erza. The fact that Celldio’s lack of sanity had caused him to obsess over regular magic swords after being ordered to find Godblades was kinda funny in a pathetic sort of way.