The group of us managed to head out to the backyard. Carmine wasn’t in her armor. She was wearing a tight shirt. Out of her armor, her chest was actually pretty big. I had never paid that much attention before, but she definitely fit in a church with this particular disposition. As for her sister, Salicia, she was more about the range of Miki’s chest. She wasn’t an abomination like Terra, but she wasn’t well-liked either.
I took a quick look at Terra. She definitely had a depressed look on her face. Other than the Archbishop, all of the men who looked at her gave disgusted looks and all of the women pushed out their chests and looked down on her. It was clear that the only reason she was welcome here was because of me. I would definitely have to make it up to her later.
At the moment, Carmine noticed us approaching with the Archbishop. She immediately gave a bow to the Archbishop, and then looked at me with a mildly frightened expression.
“So, you still call me Master then?”
“Geh!” She made a noise. “I-I wasn’t running away! I really wasn’t! It’s just that you left us in that mansion! I was stuck there with no one but my sister and that elf. You don’t understand how bad it is! My sister is definitely broken! She stole my underwear five times, the dirty ones! And one night, I woke up and saw her watching me while I slept! I couldn’t handle being with her any longer! That’s why… when I got the opportunity, I stayed away for a bit!”
“Is that the reason…” I nodded thoughtfully.
Salicia still blames the Church for taking her sister away. It was always the exact opposite. She ran away to the Church because of her sister’s behavior. I found myself relaxing as I realized the truth. In the end, the Church was somewhat harmless. I had been avoiding them for so long for virtually no reason. I guess I had played too many games where the Church ended up being the enemy all along. That’s not to say I necessarily ascribed to their faith, but I wasn’t afraid to work with them either.
“What about this debt I heard about?” I demanded. “Is that why Faeyna didn’t seem to mind that you were gone?”
Carmine crossed her arms and made a bitter expression. “That elf is such a prude! Naturally, I needed therapy dealing with my sister, but she wouldn’t offer any coins. I kept begging her but she wouldn’t give me a coin! She even yelled at me when I tried to take some.”
“Therapy?” I blinked. “Um… you wouldn’t be talking about retail therapy, would you?”
Carmine’s eyes brightened. “Ah! Master’s heard of it! Of course, Master would understand the pleasure and joy of buying stuff! It’s almost enough to help me get over my awful sister’s actions!”
“Wait… so you bought stuff to get into 500 gold coins in debt? Where is that stuff?”
“It’s not that bad! Pedicures, manicures, massages—maintaining my body is a lot of work! Isn’t my body pleasing to Master? Even as a Paladin, I need the finest armor and swords, and I must hire someone to oil it regularly.”
“Wait, don’t you maintain your own equipment?”
“And ruin my nails?”
“So, I hope you’re starting to understand the problem we had with Carmine,” the Archbishop sighed. “She is too materialistic.”
“I-it’s not that bad, Master!” Carmine defended. “I never let my room get messy!”
“That’s because you had bought five storage rings!” Mary snorted.
“I could stop whenever I wanted!” she defended. “Rather, if the Church hadn’t abandoned me, I definitely would have been able to pay back the debt I owed!”
“Carmine!” Mary’s expression turned angry for a moment. “Did we not already give you enough?”
Carmine winced, looking away like a beaten dog. Something about what Mary said seemed to strike a chord with her. Her expression was filled with a bit of guilt. Mary sighed, trying to take the angry expression off of her face. Crossing her arms across her enormous chest, she turned to me and gave a weak smile.
“I hope you understand things now,” she explained, “Carmine was actually the highest-paid Paladin. This wasn’t due to skill, but because we were worried based on her spending that she would fall into debt. Yet, every time we raised her pay, her spending increased.”
“Part of the reason we sent her to search for the Clockwork Dragon was that we thought her spending would decrease with that. We gave her a salary of 25 gold a year and put her on a 5-year expedition. That is to say, we gave her 125 gold. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize by giving her all the money at once, she would then proceed to spend it all at once.”
“I-it lasted…” she said tearfully, “for three months.”
So, in the end, that was what happened. She had been given a lump sum and sent where the cost of living was cheaper and extravagances were harder to come by. Yet, even then, she found a way to blow all of her money. If I recalled correctly, by the time I found her, she was living mostly off the goodwill of the town, whom she healed to curry favor and probably coins. Yet, she had also accumulated almost 500 coins in debt during that time as well.
“You know, although the sales of her storage rings and all of the stuff inside to make the debtors back all of their money, the expenses we accrued were many. We expected her to at least be able to bring back something from her expedition. No one enters a dungeon and comes back with nothing. Yet, after two years, she still hadn’t acquired anything…”
“I was researching…” she said with a pouty expression.
“When we heard the city she was in was being attacked by a Bandit King, we sent our soldiers to try to save it. They were late, only managing to clean out the bandits left in a ransacked city. However, they arrived with enough time to hear about the Clockwork Dragon. Had she successfully obtained it, I could have written off any amount of debt, but she left it buried. After a month of digging to recover it, we found that anything of value had already been smashed to bits. It has left the Church suffering quite a bit.”
She seemed like she was talking to herself, but I had a feeling she was aiming those words in my direction.
“Are you asking for a tithe?” I frowned.
Mary gave me an innocent look. “What? Why? The Church would never do such a thing! It’s up to every man for himself to decide how devoted he is…”
As she said this, her eyes grew watery and seemed even larger. She also smooshed her chest together, making it nearly burst forth.
“What was it she left you, 100 coins of excess loans to the church?”
“112 gold, 7 silver, 3 copper,” Mary politely coughed.
I rolled my eyes and pulled out a bag of money. It probably had around 200 gold in it. I went to hand it to Mary, but she cocked her head. Looking at her robes, she had absolutely nowhere to put the money. Then my eyes fell on a spot.
“Ah!” She made a cute noise as I pushed the bag between her cleavage.
My hand went in, going in deep. When I got worried it’d get stuck, I let go and pulled back out again.
“Oh my…” She blushed. “Your contribution will definitely go to a worthy cause!”
“M-master…” Carmine said, a worried expression on her face, “Y-you have a lot of money, don’t you?”
“You…” I turned away from Mary to shoot Carmine a glare.
“M-master! Don’t look at me that way. I’m just curious how rich Master is… just for personal knowledge!”
“If we’re being honest,” I respond, “I don’t really know. Most of my money right now comes from Dungeon Diving. Even things like my stipend as a Lord are pitiful compared to that. Right now, it’s all tied to Chalm, so if we’re talking expendable money, I don’t have any right now.”
That wasn’t completely true, but I definitely didn’t want Carmine to start begging me for money. It was best if she didn’t know I had given any to Faeyna at all.
“That reminds me…” Mary suddenly spoke up. “Why have you returned to the Capital? I was under the impression you were in Alerith on the Prince’s orders?”
“I’m dealing with that,” I admitted. “But I found myself held up in the dungeon. It turns out I need a ship.”
I went ahead and explained to her about the lower dungeon we had entered. She gave a shake, a pitying expression on her face.
“Dungeon curses truly are a terrifying thing. To think you put yourself through that every day. As expected of the Hero of Aberis.” She gave me a considering look before continuing. “I do know of a skilled Shipwright. How about I give you their information? If you use my name, they will definitely give you a discount.”
“Uh, is this going to cost me?”
She smiled. “This can be on the house. The King has always been generous to the Church. I’m also good friends with the Princess. Recovering the King should be of utmost importance.”
“Ah!” I let out a noise of surprise and she put her hand over her face to cover her giggle.
“What? You didn’t think the Church knew? We also have a vested interest in maintaining order in the country. Believe it or not, the Church believes in peace above all else. We don’t easily promote war if an alternative is available.”
“Alright then, thank you!’ I said as she wrote down and handed me the Shipwright’s information. “If that will be all…”
“One more thing…” She stopped me, reaching into her chest again.
This time, she pulled out a coin and pressed it into my hand. I looked at it to realize it was a token. Going by the etching on it, it was familiar.
“This is a Gladiatorial Right?”
I had heard of these mentioned before. Tokens seemed to be a major thing in this world. I had two Knight tokens which would bestow upon someone the Knight job. It stood to reason that there were other job-infused tokens out there. High-level Adventurers also had a token to record their jobs and performance, but I wouldn’t get one until I was a C rank. The Gladiatorial Right was a token that allowed you to submit someone into the colosseum to fight.
“Lord Reign sent this to me. He was really hoping to buddy up to the Church. Frankly, I think he was hoping I’d send a female big-breasted acolyte that he could fondle. I would never get involved in such a blood sport anyway.
“Then, why give it to me?”
“I heard of an award this year, a young dwarf. You could say that she is the reason my opinion changed about the flat sect. Since I owe her, I would like to save her from slavery. However, I can’t act directly, as it would look bad in front of the Church, you understand…”
Rubee was as flat as a board. If she openly helped her, it would definitely cause the Archbishop to lose a lot of her support.
“Well, I planned to buy her from whoever wins her, but that person might not be amiable, so I thought that if you were to participate, then you could give her a better life. She is like Carmine in a lot of ways, a lost soul that needs a strong hand to tame her.”
“Unfortunately, the competition has already started a few days ago, so…”
“Hmm?” You didn’t see?” She pointed down at my token. “Since I’m considered a VIP, my Gladiatorial Right is already a qualifier. In other words, you need not enter the preliminaries. They take the first week, so as long as you can be there in four days, you should be able to enter the main tournament. Well, I assume you have confidence in being able to travel quickly, although I won’t even ask how.”
“Ah… thank you…”
I took the coin. Rubee again. It seemed like I was tied to that loli by fate.