Granting despair for these Upstarts!
Editing: Ulti, Uranophane, Keel the swift
“Give him back! The Schneider that I carefully groomed and raised… return him to me, you shitty NEET!!”
“I made it back to where you were before, so give it a rest already! I can’t help it if he’s dead! Schneider has gone to another world and is doing just fine. Who knows, he might even have defeated the Demon King and be having a parade thrown in his honour right now.”
The next morning.
As expected, Aqua started screaming at me in the main hall where we usually relaxed, upset over losing her carefully groomed character. And thus began yet another day.
“… Really? Is Schneider really doing fine in another world?”
“Yeah, he is, he has built up a harem of beautiful girls and is living quite happily, so don’t worry about him.”
As I spouted such things to comfort Aqua, Megumin came down the stairs.
“Good morning. Isn’t it awfully early for both of you to be up?”
“Yeah, I took Darkness and her kid out to play with Zell today. I think it’s the first time her kid has fed a dragon. It was really cute seeing her be that tense.”
That probably has more to do with her worrying about accidentally killing it than anything else.
“Speaking of, I don’t see her around. Where did Sylphina go?”
“Darkness took her out to town, saying that she wanted to have Sylphina play with children her own age.”
Darkness seems to really care about her. It’s almost like she’s really her mother.
Megumin broke into a warm smile upon hearing that.
“Is that so. I hope that girl gets used to Axel quickly.”
Ignoring Megumin, Aqua, who was leisurely lounging on the sofa, directed a question at me.
“By the way, I know Megumin usually gets up pretty early, but why are you up this early as well, Kazuma-san?”
Normally the word dense would not be adequate to describe Aqua, but she just becomes strangely observant at times like this.
I woke up early because I was looking forward to my first date with Megumin, but I can’t possibly say that in front of her.
“Actually, Megumin seems to have gotten up earlier than usual too…”
Hearing Aqua’s words, Megumin jumped up in surprise and averted her gaze.
“W-what are you saying?! I always wake up around this time! You just think that because both you and Kazuma usually wake up late! Plus, today’s weather is excellent for explosions. Of course I would wake up early!”
Hearing Megumin frantically spew out all those words, Aqua blankly tilted her head.
… Could it be that Megumin was looking forward to this date as much as I am?
Indeed, a date.
My first date with a girl.
I went on a stroll with Darkness back in Alcanretia, and I also went on countless explosion trips with Megumin, but those didn’t have the right mood, so they don’t count.
Just as Megumin and I were stealing glances at each other,
“Ohoh… I see, so that’s what’s going on with you two.”
Aqua broke out into a sly grin. She just seems to be uncannily sharp at the most inconvenient of times.
“W-What? What do you mean by that, Aqua?”
“You better wipe that stupid grin of your face, otherwise I will do it for you!”
Despite both of our words, Aqua covered her grin with her hand and said,
“The both of you woke up early to eat the leftover frog steak from yesterday’s dinner, right? Well, too bad, the earliest riser, that’s right, me, has already eaten them!”
Oh. It’s just Aqua being Aqua again.
… Wait a second.
“You did what!? I was saving that on purpose! I was going to use them in the sandwiches I was taking with me today! That’s why I properly prepared them last night! Why are you always causing trouble for me?”
“What? I already ate them, so I can’t do anything about that! What are you getting so angry for? If you want sandwiches, I’ll gladly help you make more.”
After learning that I specifically prepared them last night, Aqua seemed like she was really remorseful and immediately apologized.
“Anyway, where are you guys going with said sandwiches? If you two are going out to play, I want to come too.”
The sound of an explosion rang out over the lake near Axel.
The powerful blast parted the waters of the lake, and the shockwave it created sent large waves crashing all over its surface.
The large quantity of water blasted into the sky rained down upon us as mist, refracting the morning light to create a rainbow over the lake.
“Today’s explosion scores ninety-five points! Not only is it potent, but the mist created by the blast makes the morning air more refreshing, and even adds a rainbow garnish over the whole performance. The only thing lacking is practical application. If there were any, it would be worth more points.”
Hearing my report, Megumin held a satisfied smile as she collapsed to the ground.
“There is only so much practicality it can have without an appropriate monster to target. This is still the highest score I’ve received in quite some time, so I think today will be a good day!”
Megumin said that with a contented expression.
I crouched and used ‘Drain Touch’ to give her just enough mana to move on her own.
Then, I noticed something.
“Hey, hold on, that explosion killed quite a fair amount of fish. Let’s grab those guys and grill them. The number of frog steak sandwiches is lower than I expected, but we can quite easily grill those fish as a replacement. Nice, great job Megumin!”
Having absorbed my mana, Megumin stood up and gave me an expectant look.
“Today’s explosion is worth ninety-eight points!”
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you very much!!”
Looking at Megumin shedding tears of joy as she repeatedly thanked me, I too started to tear up as I nodded back.
And looking at us from the side…
“Hey, is this the kind of stupid things you guys get up to whenever I’m not around?
Aqua rudely commented while munching on a sandwich.
“Pardon me, Aqua!? What do you mean by stupid?! This is an extremely important step in order to build up my repertoire as an Explosion Connoisseur.”
“Yeah, Aqua! Recently, the score I get from the explosion will even influence my mood, health, and various other factors for the rest of the day. Explosion isn’t a game!”
“I don’t understand and I don’t want to understand, but I get it. It’s one of those things that I’m better off not getting myself involved in.”
It seems that Aqua has started being able to learn from her mistakes.
“Hey, Megumin, this is a date, right?”
I whispered quietly to Megumin.
“I don’t know. I don’t exactly know a whole lot about dating either… Packing a lunch, going to a beautiful place with someone you like and doing something you enjoy together… Is that not what a date is?”
I see, so this is a date.
The feeling that this is exactly like how we usually spend our time together is probably just my imagination.
The reason that it doesn’t feel romantic is probably because Aqua’s here.
We’re both a little embarrassed about our first date, so Aqua ended up getting invited, but in the future, I’m sure…
“These sandwiches are really delicious. Hey, do you want to take a nap after eating the grilled fish? Ah, this really is a good day for a picnic. We should invite Darkness and that Sylphina girl to join us next time.”
Aqua said that while skewering the fish she caught from the lake in preparation for the grill.
Ah… that’s not it.
This isn’t a date, it’s a family picnic!
After the family picnic, on our way back…
The guardsman manning the gate called out to us as we approached the town of Axel.
“Hey, you guys are adventurers, right? There was an emergency call earlier. Shouldn’t you hurry to the guild hall?”
—The adventurer’s guild.
Located right in the middle of town, it’s the headquarters of all anti-monster activities.
It’s a fortress for adventurers and an establishment that they put their trust in.
Heeding the words of the guardsman, we arrived at the hall, but…
In front of the guild hall…
“Alright, adventurers, please line up here. This is an emergency. It’s an emergency summon. Sorry to trouble you all.”
The guild ladies who are normally found behind the counters shout out as they direct the arriving adventurers.
We retrieved our equipment from the mansion and rushed here after hearing about an emergency quest, but why are they calling us to line up here during an emergency?
Just as I thought that, I noticed the guild workers, as well as what appeared to be civil servants start surrounding us, as if to form a barricade around us adventurers.
It’s almost like they are moving to prevent us from escaping.
The suspicious situation is starting to create a buzz amongst the adventurers.
…Just what is going on?
“Hey, something’s off. Should we run away? My sixth sense is telling me that it’s best to get away from here as fast as possible.”
“What a coincidence, Kazuma. I’ve a bad feeling too. It’s probably my goddess intuition.”
Hearing Aqua’s words just increased my sense of unease.
At that time, a person approached us.
That’d be Darkness, who had vanished early this morning to send Sylphina off somewhere.
“The two of you should relax. If you don’t break the law, nothing bad will happen to you, so just relax.”
Darkness said while hiding one arm behind her back.
… Hmm, actually.
“Do you know what kind of emergency this is?”
I asked of Darkness who was standing there with one arm behind her back.
All of the adventurers were fully equipped, except Darkness who wore a simple black shirt and a casual skirt. I can’t help but ask her what’s going on.
But Darkness didn’t answer me.
My surroundings are filled with uneasy murmurs.
A tense atmosphere quickly descended upon all the adventurers gathered here.
… But we adventurers are well aware.
The adventurer’s guild is a government organization set up for adventurers.
It’s an establishment designed to support us.
We dutifully complete the jobs we receive from the guild, and at the same time the guild also helps us whenever we get into trouble.
There shouldn’t be any reason for the Guild and adventurers to have an adversarial relationship.
If there’s no reason for us to work against each other, there shouldn’t be any reason for us to be enemies.
Such is the prevailing sentiment being carried along with the murmurs, and with it the tense atmosphere that enveloped the crowd slowly began to lessen.
“I have an urgent request for everyone. Indeed, it’s an emergency quest. For there is only a month till the end of the fiscal year. Yes, today is the last day that people can pay their taxes.”
The guild lady standing in front of the group of guild workers gathered ahead of us said with a bright smile on her face.
“Some of you adventurers gathered here have yet to pay their taxes.”
All the adventurers present stood frozen in shock.
“W-W-What is going on? What the hell is going on? Hey, Aqua, just what is-”
“C-C-Calm down. Calm down, Kazuma. Just calm down. I’m sure there must be some kind of mistake!”
Those adventurers who wanted to escape after hearing the guild lady’s words were restrained by the line of guild staff and civil servants who surrounded them like a wall.
Some tried to run, some cried, and others raged.
Though they all had different expressions, there’s one commonality amongst all of them, and that is that every adventurer present is letting out an anguished scream.
“It’s true, we’ve never raised such a matter with you all before. Of course we wouldn’t, adventurers in general tend to be in rough financial straits. As such, thus far we have exempted you… No, allowed you not to pay taxes out consideration for your economic status.”
Standing some distance away from the adventurers, a man who seemed to be a civil servant called out.
He continues speaking.
“The adventurer’s guild is of course supported through tax money. Naturally, this includes the reward money given out for dealing with monsters. However, just because they are earned by killing monsters doesn’t mean that they should be exempt from taxes. We’ve simply not been collecting them out of understanding for your financial situation. But everyone present should have earned quite a bit this year… yes, the reward for taking down the Kowloon Hydra… Thus far, you’ve all been allowed not to pay taxes due to the compassion of the state. But surely, after collecting such a large sum of money, you should fulfill your obligation to the state, no?”
After hearing those words, the Adventurers who were trying to resist fell silent.
It’s only to be expected. After all it was their first time hearing about such a thing.
Up till now, adventurers have had the privilege of being exempt from taxes simply by virtue of being an adventurer.
Now that we are wealthy, it’s only natural that we should start paying proper taxes.
We are residents of this town after all, we should do our part as well.
Just then, an adventurer asked a question.
“Umm, just how much will be taken as taxes?”
The civil servant from before replied.
“All adventurers who earned more than ten million this year shall be taxed half their total income–”
And all the adventurers present scattered to the winds.
“Aqua, what should we do? What the hell do they mean by half? How many hundreds of millions do I have to pay in taxes?”
“I have no money left! I spent it all! You still have to pay taxes even if you are bankrupt! I don’t want to be in debt again! Let’s run! Let’s run far, far away, Kazuma! The tax laws in this world are very simple, everyone has to pay taxes in the first month of autumn. The income of the entire year up till then will be tabulated, and that amount must be paid by the end of the first month of autumn.”
Aqua said to the panicking me.
“It really is easy to understand. Speaking of, isn’t today the last day of the first month of autumn? Then what happens if we run? What happens if we don’t pay it off by today?”
“The taxes will be waived! The taxes will be waived once office hours are over on the last day.”
Is it really that simple?
“Will that really be fine? They won’t hound us to pay up?”
“What are you saying?”
Aqua exclaimed after hearing the perplexed tone in my voice.
“All the laws in this world are made by aristocrats. Of course they would implement laws that favour them. For low income civilians, it’d be cheaper for them to just simply pay the taxes rather than taking a vacation to avoid it, so most people will simply pay up. However, the wealthy and the nobility would take a vacation around this time and will only return at the start of the next month.”
What horrible people.
No, wait, even in a modern country like Japan, there exist people who would do this kind of stuff.
So the aristocrats of this country…!
“Just how greedy are these aristocrats!? How cheap! I want to do that too!”
“W-Wait, there are some kind-hearted people amongst the aristocrats too, don’t just lump them all together…”
Darkness interrupted with a troubled expression on her face.
Speaking of whom, doesn’t she need to run?
Just when I was about to say ‘Aren’t you one of those rich aristocrats who need to pay a large amount of taxes too?’, I noticed what she was holding in her hand.
Probably thinking that it’d be bad to injure someone, all the adventurers around me only blindly focused on running away.
Even under such chaotic circumstances, I couldn’t help but be drawn to what Darkness had in her hand.
“What are you holding?”
“Oh this? You use it like so… ”
Darkness said as she locked the one of the chained iron restraints around her right hand.
They resemble the handcuffs found in Japan.
I already knew that Darkness is a pervert, so it isn’t unexpected for her do something like this, but.
“What are you doing?”
I asked in an exasperated tone, but Darkness didn’t reply.
Wait, I don’t have time to bother with her.
Simply put, all I have to do is avoid being captured for today and I won’t need to pay any taxes.
Just as I was about to grab Aqua and Megumin and run-
“Megumin-san, yes? Let’s see… your personal earnings aren’t very high this year, so you need not pay taxes. Thank you for your cooperation!”
… Megumin has already completed her tax filings.
Perhaps noticing my gaze, the penniless girl glanced over and gave me a smug smile.
Damnit, that just leaves me, Aqua and Darkness…
“What are you doing?”
I asked Darkness in the same exasperated tone I used before.
I don’t know what came over this pervert to attach the other end of the handcuff to my left wrist.
What’s she doing at a time like this?
This musclehead occasionally comes up with ideas as stupid as Aqua’s, that’s why she’s so troublesome.
Darkness gave me an extremely bright smile, and in a tone of voice that suggested that she was inviting me on an afternoon stroll, said,
“Paying taxes is the duty of citizens. Now, come on, let us go, Mr Biggest-Earner-in-this-Town.”
Oh, right, she is next in line to become the ruler of this town! Crap!
“L-Let me go! Dammit! You bastard… You bastard!”
“Hahahaha, aren’t we close friends? You shouldn’t be so harsh. Come on, let’s go. You too, Aqua.”
In the chaotic guild hall, the various adventurers who were trying to escape are being snapped up one by one.
In the middle of that frenzy, the handcuffed Darkness said that as she grabbed Aqua’s hand and started pulling on the both of us.
“NOOO! Please, Darkness, let me go! Kazuma-san! Kazuma-san! Please do something!”
Aqua screamed and slapped at the hand Darkness was using to grab her, but Darkness didn’t seem notice at all.
I immediately shouted towards Aqua.
“Hey, Aqua, cast your buff magic on us! The ones that boosts strength and speed! If you cast it on us we’ll be able to lift her up and drag her along with us! We can easily carry her if we work together!”
Hearing my words, Darkness immediately released her grip on Aqua.
“… Aqua, I’ll let you go. You may flee as you wish. There are already watchmen posted all throughout the town, but if you can avoid getting caught by them, you may do as you will. But, in exchange for letting you go, you must not cast any sort of status boosting magic on this man.”
“Ah, you underhanded bastard! Hey, Aqua, this is just a trick to divide us! Don’t listen to her, hurry up and buff me!”
In response, Aqua wordlessly took a step back.
“… So-sorry, Kazuma, I think my chances of escaping will be higher if there’s someone else to occupy them… Plus, if you were to escape, the second richest adventurer in this town will probably be me. If that were to happen, the number of tax collectors chasing after me would increase…”
Really, why is she only smart at the most inconvenient of times?
“Okay, I got it, Aqua. If you buff me, I’ll tell you a method that’s guaranteed to let you safely escape on your own. What do you think of that?”
“… Just a while ago, you abandoned us to live a luxurious life at the capital. Do you really expect me to just trust you now?”
I can’t even retort.
“O-Okay, fine, I’ll tell you that method right now. If you think it’s workable, then just buff my strength or speed, either one would do. Just buff me!”
“I… Okay, fine, tell me what to do.”
I carefully whispered into Aqua’s ear.
“Kazuma, let’s meet up at the mansion if we both manage to escape. I’ll buff both your strength and speed!”
Aqua said as she applied her spells upon me.
After that, she applied her magic upon herself before breaking out of the chaotic encirclement and running off towards the town.
“I don’t know what you told her, but she sure seems quite confident in her chances.”
Darkness, who has been quietly listening to our exchange, casually commented.
Why is she so relaxed?
“You sure are relaxed, aren’t you? I won’t lose to you in strength after being buffed. I’m going to drain your magic until you pass out, then pick you up like a piece of luggage and run off.”
“Save those words for when you actually manage to lift me up.”
Darkness replied with a fearless smile upon her face, raising both arms in the sky as though she was daring me to pick her up if I could.
Accepting that challenge, I moved to pick Darkness up…
“U-umm, Darkness-san? Doing something like this in public is… making me j-just a little nervous…”
“D-Don’t say that, you’ll make me nervous too…”
While face to face with Darkness, I hugged her around the waist and tried to lift her…
“Why aren’t you moving at all?”
Hearing my words, Darkness laughed as though she was declaring her victory.
“Ha, this operation has been in the works for quite some time. I originally intended for it to take place at the start of this month, but a lot of things have been happening recently… And just when things started to calm down for a bit, you declared that you wouldn’t be returning home. You really gave me a headache back then.”
How could this happen? I really underestimated this girl.
I only regarded her as a sheltered noble lady. I completely underestimated her resolve.
“But we managed to make it in time…! Plus, from the moment we started planning this operation, I knew that you would try and escape. It’s my job to nail down such high income adventurers like you. In preparation for this day-!”
“In preparation for this day… ! You-you didn’t deliberately fatten yourself for this, did you!? I know you were worried about how well-defined your abs were, but I didn’t expect you deliberately add more flab to—!?”
Darkness abruptly pulled on my arm before I managed to finish my sentence.
“I’m wearing weights! Look! I tied a ton of weights to myself under my clothes! See! Do you see them!?”
Darkness hastily opened her shirt to reveal that she was indeed wearing a series of lead, or perhaps something heavier, weights underneath.
… Wait, did she walk all the way here in that condition?
But this is bad. This is really bad.
“D-Damnit! Guild lady, I thought you were on our side!”
“I’m sorry, but I’m also a civil servant. We won’t get our summer bonus if we don’t do this. I’m very sorry!”
Cries like that echoed all throughout the guild hall. Several of the adventurers I recognised have already been captured.
The adventurers who have completed their taxes gathered listlessly over at the tables next to the hall.
Megumin was there as well, leisurely sipping the tea that the guild workers brought over for her.
“Dammit, why did you come up with such a convoluted scheme? At this point you might as well just barge into the houses of rich folks and start taking anything that looks valuable!”
“No, I can’t do that. People would buy volatile explosive potions, put them in places where tax collectors are likely to search and bait them into setting them off. Then after the potions detonate, they would sue the tax collectors for property damage and demand a large amount of compensation…”
The number of adventurers struggling with the civil servants around me is starting to thin.
This isn’t good. It won’t be long now before my turn comes up…
“… It doesn’t seem like you have any intention of moving. Is there really no room for discussion? Knowing your personality, a bribe probably wouldn’t convince you.”
Hearing my words, Darkness furrowed her brow.
“Don’t be silly, Kazuma. The Dustiness house will not make allowances for anyone nor tolerate any form of corruption. Just give it up—”
I stole a single weight from Darkness as she was speaking.
As I carelessly threw it aside, Darkness said.
“… Hey, Kazuma, your Steal has a high chance of targeting a lady’s underwear. Let’s not do something like that in front of so many people. Cease your resistance and just pay the tax—”
Oops, I missed.
The item I received is a set of black tights that Darkness was just wearing.
Watching me sneakily stuff it into my pocket, Darkness whispered.
“… Are you serious?”
“Yeah, I am. I’ll make you lighter by any means possible, even if I end up stripping you naked, then after that I’ll lift you up and run away.”
“Ah, High-Earner Satou Kazuma-san, yes? Please come with me… Ah, he ran away! Even Lady Dustiness who was responsible for his capture is running away!?”
Together with Darkness, we broke out of the encirclement formed by the guild workers.
“Aah, I ran away… I ran away to protect my own modesty… Even though it’s my job to make sure this guy pays his taxes even at the cost of my life…”
Darkness whimpered, her face on the verge of tears, as she ran beside me, tossing away her weights as she went.
I’m really impressed that she is able to run while wearing that many weights.
“Hey, stop moping around and let’s go! I can’t believe you tossed away the key to the handcuffs in the mansion’s yard before you left! Are you an idiot? We’re heading out of town.”
“… I’m well aware of your high luck. If I had the key on me, I get the feeling that you’ll easily be able to steal it… Anyway, there’s already people posted at the gates, so you should give up on that plan. Why don’t you just stop struggling? I think you are much more manly now that you are rich than when you were being ridden with debts.”
“Shut up, I don’t need to hear that from you!”
With Darkness chained to me, we snuck through the back alleys.
We stand out a lot like this.
There’s no way we could possibly use the main streets.
In the first place, most of the adventurers arrived fully armed. They were summoned with an emergency announcement, after all.
When they are dressed like this, anyone would be able to easily identify them at a glance.
Damn those guild workers and tax collectors. They sure thought this through.
Why did I even come back to this town? God damn it!
Though, it’s really more like I was sent back, but…!
You better remember this, white suit! And wait for me, my little sister…!
Ah, I want to see Iris.
Why do I have to scurry around this heartless town while chained to this woman?
For now, I need to find somewhere to hide in and buy some time.
I wonder if Aqua managed to escape successfully.
Megumin’s probably relaxing back at the guild right now.
And this girl is…
While I was thinking about such matters, Darkness let out a tired sigh and squatted down, acting as though she was too tired to move.
“Hey, aren’t you the iron lady who’s so proud of her own stamina? There’s no way you could be worn out after just running such a short distance, stop messing around and stand up.”
“Who are you calling an iron lady? … Lalatina-sama is a dainty lady. She can’t walk anymore. Hmph!”
Darkness whined in a sickeningly sweet tone that I’ve never heard her use before. I roughly pulled on the chain connecting the two of us.
“… I’ll stand up and run properly. So pull hard on my chain again, just like you’re planning to drag me off… When the cuff bites into my wrist…”
“E-Even at a time like this, you…”
Looking at Darkness blushing and fidgeting before me, I had half a mind to just give up and pay my taxes. Then-
“I found them! Over there! Lady Dustiness has him restrained! That man is the perverted brute of Axel! Send for more people! Don’t let him escape!”
I heard a shout echoing from some distance away.
“Ah, dammit! Let’s go Darkness! Don’t you dare hold me back! If you start doing anything funny, I’ll use Steal on you!”
After hearing such a warning…
“… Ka-Kazuma, after imagining you exposing me in front of such a large crowd, I’m starting to feel like it might not be a bad experience. Am I really hopeless?”
“Yes, you are! You’ve been hopeless since the day we met!”
The tax collectors swarmed towards us!
—The time’s probably around evening.
It’s almost time for civil servants to be getting off work.
Right now, I’m sitting on a cold, stone floor.
And, opposite me, Darkness is sitting atop a soft, cushioned chair with a dejected expression
In a soft voice, she said.
“… You sly bastard…”
I’m fine with being a sly bastard.
“I’ll be happier if you just honestly told me that I’m smart.”
“You bastard! How could you use such underhanded means? Normally people would just think of a way to escape from the town… What should I do? If word of this gets out, the other nobles will end up resorting to the same thing when they are unable to escape in time.”
Darkness angrily said.
“That’s a problem for the state… In the first place, you should’ve just used your position to push through some new laws to patch these loopholes. That would’ve solved things handily.”
I said to Darkness as I hugged my knees.
Currently, we are held in the safest place in the entire town.
The highest authority in the town, and the ally of law abiding citizens that detains criminals in the name of justice.
Yes, we are in the detention cells of the police station.
“Different departments of the government don’t get along with each other. This is a given no matter what country you go to.”
“You sly bastard! You sly bastard! Damn you!”
While we were chased by the tax collectors, I burst into the nearest police station and used steal on a random female policeman.
The charge is theft and public indecency.
I’ll leave what I stole to your imagination.
“Uuu… How could those policemen be so hard headed… They are funded through tax money too… They happily handed over the handcuffs when I asked for them, so why are they so inflexible now…? And you! Just the other day, you called the police on Aqua in order to get back into the house, and now you’re purposefully committing a petty crime in order to escape the tax collectors! Just what are you…!”
Darkness lamented with an anguished expression.
“Ah, it’s really fortunate that I’m chained together with you. Thanks to you, it seems like we’ll be able to return home by tonight.”
After I was arrested, I was thrown into the cells despite the tax collector’s protests.
The tax collectors and the police had a long discussion afterwards, but in the end the police refused to hand me over.
I don’t know if it’s because of Darkness’s presence, or just because I’m a first time offender, but they told me that I’ll be released after the interrogation..
The interrogation is already over, and now they are just dealing with the paperwork.
Thanks to that, it looks like I’ll be able to go home by tonight.
Due to the fact that we were handcuffed together, even though she isn’t a criminal, Darkness had no choice but to be locked up in the cells together with me. Well, they did give her a chair to sit on, but still.
Time passes, and soon the sun has set beyond the horizon.
A voice called out to Darkness and I.
“Get out, you’re getting released. I’ll be sending you home… My apologies for troubling Lady Dustiness so. Please, come this way.”
“I’m home… What, you didn’t manage to escape, Aqua?”
The moment Darkness and I entered the mansion, we’re greeted by the sight of Aqua sobbing into the sofa, while Megumin tried to comfort her.
After I went out of my way to tell her about the surefire way to escape that only she could use.
“Ah, welcome back, Kazuma. No, it seemed like she managed to avoid capture until the time limit, but…”
Megumin said with troubled expression as she gently petted Aqua on the head.
Aqua muttered between sobs.
“Uuu… uu… I did as Kazuma suggested and headed for the water purification plant… but I got discovered on the way there… I had no choice but to jump into the small pool they use for agriculture… Then… Then!”
The method I taught her was to dive into the main reservoir at the town’s water purification plant and remain submerged until evening.
Aqua’s a goddess of water after all, she can breathe underwater and wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.
I thought no one would be able to lay a hand on her if she’s submerged in the main reservoir.
“From what I’ve heard, the tax collectors tried to force her out by bombarding the pool with fire magic to boil her out. Fortunately, the sun set before they managed to do so, but Aqua seems to be really shaken by it. She’s been crying non stop…”
The tax collectors in this country sure are merciless.
… I thought it was a pretty good plan, but did I unintentionally do more harm than good?
“… Oh? You still haven’t unlocked that handcuff connecting the both of you?”
Megumin said while looking at our hands.
True, this handcuff was originally borrowed from the police station.
I tried to get them to unlock it as we were released from the police station, but…
“To prevent a criminal from easily freeing themselves if they get their hands on a key, each set of handcuffs has a unique key… And the key to this one is…”
Darkness muttered shyly before trailing off. As she did so, I continued.
“Somewhere out in the yard because of this idiot. She didn’t want me to be able to easily steal it, and she doesn’t remember where she threw the key. When it’s this dark out, even with my night vision, there’s no way I would be able to find a small key hidden somewhere out in the middle of the yard. There’s no choice but to wait til tomorrow morning and get her to look for it.”
“… Oh, does that mean that the two of you will have to take a bath together, go to the toilet together, and sleep together tonight? How nice.”
Megumin said that…
Darkness and I silently stared at each other.
END OF CHAPTER 2