Bringing these feelings to a close!
Editing: Uranophane, Ulti, Keel the swift
A constant clacking noise filled my ears.
As clumsy as Darkness is, she usually elegantly eats her meals without making a sound.
I don’t know if it’s because Darkness is nervous or something else, but she was being uncharacteristically noisy with her cutlery.
Currently, we are in the middle of dinner.
“Kazuma-san, could you pass the soy sauce?”
I picked up the bottle with my left hand and was about to pass it to Aqua when…
Darkness’ cry reminded me that my left hand was still chained to her right.
When I passed the soy sauce over to Aqua, Darkness’s hand was also dragged along with mine.
“N-no, it’s fine…”
Hearing my apology, Darkness replied in a soft voice.
Aqua paid no heed to our situation, simply thanking me as she received the soy sauce.
She had been crying all evening after being traumatised by the tax collectors, but by now there’s almost no trace of any of that ever happening.
From the way she dug into her meal, it’s almost like she’s forgotten about that incident entirely.
I almost envy how quickly she is able to regain her usual demeanour.
If she was the one who was chained to me…
Perhaps due to her nervousness, Darkness softly said that after eating only a small portion of her meal, a slight blush playing on her face.
Megumin responded to Darkness.
“…What are the two are you so nervous for? We’ve known each other for quite some time, haven’t we? After becoming such close friends, what’s the big deal with sleeping together? If you are worried about being alone, Aqua and I can join you as well. It’d be good to have all four of us sleeping together, wouldn’t it?”
Without realizing it, Darkness and I both answered at the same time.
Hearing that, Darkness raised an eyebrow.
“…Hey, as a woman, it’s acceptable for me to want Megumin to accompany me… but what excuse would a man like you have for wanting the same thing? At the end of the day, I’m still a lady, so hearing that doesn’t sit well with me.”
In response to Darkness who said such a bothersome thing,
“No, I know there’s no way I could get anything out of sleeping with you. I too would like Megumin and Aqua to be around to avoid any unnecessary misunderstandings. Knowing your personality, you’ll probably end up hugging me in your sleep and I’ll end up waking up with broken ribs.”
“W-What are you saying!? What kind of world would a person capable of doing that in her sleep even exist in?”
Rather than spending the night being too tense to sleep, I would rather have Aqua and Megumin join us.
After all, the four of us have slept together while travelling, and Aqua has even slept in the same stall with me back when we were living in the stables. The four of us sleeping together now isn’t a big deal.
“Oh, speaking of which, I think this would be the first time the four of us spent the night in the same room in this mansion. How about I entertain you all with some ghost stories before we go to bed?”
“N-no, I think I’ll pass on that…”
“Y-Yeah, this place used to be haunted, you know? It’s best not to talk about ghost stories in a place like this.”
Thinking back on the chaos caused by the evil spirits when we first moved in, Megumin and I shuddered.
“Seriously, you call yourselves adventures yet you’re scared of a few ghost stories? It’s no wonder we’ve been receiving petitions about adventurers becoming cowards lately. I really wish you guys would straighten up.”
Darkness exasperatedly said that.
“…Come to think of it, you’ve been saying that the adventurers have all gotten lazy recently… And petitions? Oh yeah, your house is currently ruling over this town, right?”
In response to my question, Darkness said.
“I’m sure you’re aware of the situation. Now that the adventurers in this town have gotten rich, they’ve become unwilling to take on quests. We’ve managed to clear the quests that were piled up somehow, but they won’t change their behaviour that easily. Even now, the number of monsters close to the town have been steadily increasing. But with this, everyone will want to work a little harder-”
“Wait, hold on. Are you saying that this situation is because all the adventurers in this town became NEETs? Then, the reason that this emergency summon is the first time any of us heard about having to pay taxes after being exempted for so long is because…”
“Seems like you understand. It’d be a different story if they continued to protect the town as they did before, but there’s no need to extend any special considerations to a bunch of NEETs. This special operation is to both raise funds and deal with the NEETs in this town. The guild workers should be quite pleased with this. We’ve managed to increase tax revenue, and we’ve also lit a fire under the adventurers who’ve been living a leisurely lifestyle. I’m sure the population of monsters around the town will decrease from now on. But don’t worry, the money we got from the adventurers will all be used on the adventurers—”
“Hold on a minute!”
I abruptly stood up, pulling on the chain connecting us both.
Of course, Darkness was dragged up to her feet along with me.
“What, are you saying that I got chased around the town for half a day for such a stupid reason? To kick all these newly rich and lazy adventurers back into gear?”
Even if I was let off lightly for being a first time offender, I still ended up getting arrested. And to think that the person who caused me to become a criminal is standing right in front of me…
“Nonsense! What do you mean by stupid? Labour and taxes are the duty of the citizens in this country! What’s wrong with collecting the taxes that we are owed from people who refuse to work? This country does not need NEETs! Those who can work but refuse to should be thrown out with the garbage!”
“There’s a party member denying the life I’ve led up till this point!”
Darkness and I started grappling with each other. Seeing the two of us quarrelling, Megumin said in an exasperated voice.
“… It doesn’t seem likely for anything to happen between you two, so I think I’ll let you sleep alone tonight. And while you’re at it, take this chance to bond a little.”
What comes after dinner would obviously be…
Yes, of course, it’d be to take a bath. Such is customary for all Japanese.
“Stop fooling around! Japanese need to take a bath every day or they’ll shrivel up and die! I’m not like you fancy bath-hating nobles who would rather try and cover up their body odor with perfumes! If you understand that, then stop getting in my way!”
“Wha-What are you saying! Even us nobles would take a bath every day! Just what country do such bath-hating nobles exist in?! … It’s just, considering our situation, I think it’d be better to forgo a bath and instead wipe our bodies down…”
Darkness strongly objected to my comments.
“After working up such a sweat running across half the town, I really will die if I don’t take a bath! It’s not like I’m asking you to join me, go ahead and wipe yourself off with a wet towel or something while I soak in the tub.”
“N-no, taking a bath means you’ll be naked… While I’m wiping myself off in a half-naked state, you’ll be fully naked…”
While we were arguing…
“It’s my turn! Magic Card: Swamp Magic. With this, Aqua’s monsters will not be able to take action for three turns.”
“…Uuu, I can’t do anything again. Pass.”
Megumin and Aqua ignored our squabble and were playing a card game on the table in the living room.
They’ve long given up on stopping us.
“I don’t really mind you seeing my naked body, so it’s fine. In fact, it’d be a reward in some ways, so you need not mind.”
“I’m saying I mind! What’s with that shameless personality of yours? Why don’t you try considering what I would feel when I see your naked body?”
“My turn. Magic Card: Explosion. My opponent instantly disintegrates.”
“Waah! Megumin, you’re really abusing those spell cards! This is the third time I’ve lost without being able to do anything!”
Ignoring the two who were playing without a care in the world, I took the still protesting Darkness and moved to the bathroom with a change of clothes.
I already prepared the bath in advance while Aqua and Megumin were making dinner..
I quickly moved to remove my clothes…
“… What do I do about this? I can’t remove my shirt while I’m still handcuffed… Let’s just cut it. This shirt is pretty worn out anyway.”
Saying that, I cut the shirt that I was about to throw away with a dagger.
“… Do you really not care about stripping naked while I’m still next to you?”
Ignoring Darkness’s protests, I stripped down such that the only thing I was wearing were the handcuffs and a towel.
Darkness on the other hand only took a small towel with her and walked into the bathroom barefoot.
It seems like she was intent on simply wiping herself off while I soaked.
I cheerfully entered the bathroom, and Darkness shyly followed behind me.
Darkness sat back to back with me as I started washing my body before getting into the bath. While still wearing her shirt and dress, she submerged her towel and shyly moved it under her shirt to begin wiping herself off.
I quickly washed myself off and moved to the bathtub.
Of course, Darkness, who was handcuffed to me, was forced to follow along.
“Aah… It’s like all the troubles I went through today are being washed away. I almost can’t believe this…”
“… To boldly expose your naked body in front of a young noble maiden… No, there’s really nothing more I can say about your behaviour.”
Darkness sat on the wet edge of the bathtub, and submerged her chained right hand into the bath water.
She moved her right hand in the bathtub like she was stirring a pot of water.
“Do you think the adventurers will hate me?”
She sighed deeply.
“… Who knows? In the first place, nobody knows that this was carried out on your orders, right? Plus they were exempt them from taxes for all this time, so I doubt they’ll end up hating you that much. Then again, I did manage to escape, so maybe I’m not one to say.”
Hearing the reply I gave as I was lounging in the bath, Darkness signed in resignation.
“… I didn’t want to resort to doing this either. But to be honest, the finances of this country are in a bad enough shape that we have to resort to borrowing money from Elroad. The money that we took from them today will eventually find their way back to them many fold… If the adventurers took their jobs more seriously, I wouldn’t be doing this either…”
“You say that labour is a duty, but what’s wrong with not working after securing enough money to live comfortably? The work of an adventurer is extremely hazardous, you know? There exist a similar sentiment in my country that taxes and labour is the duty of the citizens, but even then there are a lot of folks like me who choose to become a NEET. Can’t you at least give us the freedom to choose what jobs we want?”
“I’m surprised your country hasn’t yet fallen to ruin like that… How should I put this, there’s a form of entertainment called manga where you come from, no? I recall you saying something like ‘if you have a talent for art, you can earn a living simply by drawing manga’ every so often… So, say there’s someone who draws manga. Then, suppose he ends up extremely rich by selling his manga. If that person were to say that he doesn’t care about completing his manga now that he has enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life, wouldn’t that be a problem?”
… Of course it would.
… It would be a very big problem.
I won’t name names, but there are plenty of works whose status are in peril because of such people.
“There is a responsibility that comes with every job. This is the town of beginners. In order to help new adventurers find their footing, there are a lot of facilities in this town designed to aid them. They are given special treatment under the expectation that they’ll continue to protect the people and the country. Journeyman and veteran adventurers still keep their responsibilities in mind even if they become rich, but the beginners in this town are a little… I don’t know why, but there’s a strange school of thought that has taken root amongst the adventurers in this town.”
“And that is?”
I casually asked while leisurely stretching my legs in the bath.
“Ah, for some reasons, stupid sayings like ‘If you work, you lose’ have been really popular amongst the adventurers of this town as of late.”
I think I have an idea of who exactly spread such sayings.
“…What’s wrong? Why have you gone silent? Seems like you have an idea of why this happened. So, do you have anything to say? Why don’t you share them with me?”
“…No, I don’t…”
That’s the exact same phrase that I’ve been sharing to the other other adventurers as of late.
Intermediate TLs: lolihunter2 叶子 サダメ
English TL: Uranophane
Editing: Cannongerbil, Ulti, Keel the swift
After coming out of the bath, the first thing we saw was a crying Aqua clinging on to Megumin.
“One more round! This will be the last one, so give me one more round!”
“I don’t want to. It’ll be the same no matter how many times you try. You’re no match for me. So, as promised, I’ll have you do a favour for me, okay?”
Seems like she was utterly trashed in the card game..
It’s pretty safe to say that Megumin is the undefeated champion at strategy games like chess and cards.
As expected of the Crimson Demons who are famed for their intelligence, though I still wish she would put it to more practical purposes.
“Well, it’s still early, but let’s go to sleep. That way we can wake up early tomorrow and go hunt for that key. Hopefully we’ll find it before we need to use the bathroom in the morning.”
“… S-sounds good.”
Darkness agreed blushingly.
We just had a bathroom break, but to prevent me from hearing anything, Darkness made me sing very loudly.
I feel like Megumin made me do something like this too back when the mansion was still infested with spirits.
I insisted that Darkness sing a song herself if she wanted privacy so badly, but I ended up singing anyway.
Because I felt that her request was highly unreasonable, I paused erratically as I sang to mess with her. In return, she stood wordlessly behind my back and shook my shoulder when I did my business.
And just as expected, we ended up fighting again afterwards. I’ve had enough of going through stupid things like this.
Let’s just go to bed early tonight and search for the key early next morning before we have to use the toilet.
“Well, we’re going to bed now. Are you sure you don’t want to join us, Aqua? Megumin?”
“The two of you can sleep alone tonight. Judging from how you were acting a while ago, it doesn’t seem like any kind of accidents will occur. Actually, it’d be better if you two could improve your relationship to the point where those kinds of accidents might occur. It’s about time you two acted more like adults.”
Megumin said with a disapproving expression, as though she was tired of our constant squabbling.
My heart skipped a beat after hearing her use the word adult. Could that be a sign to my inner chaos?
Is Megumin really okay with this? Weren’t we supposed to be more than friends now?
… Looking at Darkness next to me, it seems like I wasn’t the only one who was thinking too much.
From the way she was blushing, Darkness is probably imagining some kind of nasty scenario again. I interrupted her thoughts by giving the handcuff a sharp tug and rushed off towards the bedroom.
By the way, because of the handcuff around my left wrist, I couldn’t put on a shirt.
So I’m currently half naked.
It’s warm in the mansion, so I shouldn’t have to worry about catching a cold if I wrap myself up properly with the blanket.
Naturally, I’m sleeping in my own bedroom.
Because my left hand is cuffed to Darkness’s right, I have to take the right half of the bed.
I collapsed onto the bed as soon as I went in.
“…Don’t you make any moves on me just because you can see my bare sexy chest.”
“As if I would! You’re the king of sexual harassment. I should be the one worrying about you trying to rub yourself all over me.”
I turned my back on the insecure Darkness and said,
“Hey! What? Are really just gonna go to sleep like that? …Y-you’re… really sleeping?”
Hearing those words from Darkness, I pulled the blanket over my head.
… How long have I been asleep for?
I seemed to have turned over sometime in my sleep, so now I’m face to face with Darkness.
The moment I opened my eyes, Darkness’ stern, sleeping face filled my vision.
My forehead was pressing against hers.
Her face was inches before my eyes.
“… What were you trying to do?”
I casually asked Darkness who had pushed herself so close to me.
Darkness’ body twitched after hearing my words, but her eyes remained closed.
“Hey, stop pretending to sleep. You just… “
As I spoke, I felt something off about my neck. I touched it with my right hand…
For some reason, it’s damp.
“You…! You licked my neck!? You licked my neck and did things to my body while I was asleep, didn’t you!?”
“N-no! You’re wrong! I didn’t go that far! Really, I didn’t! It’s really not like that!”
In response, Darkness jumped up, her face instantly blushing as tears started to form in her eyes.
Still rubbing my damp neck, I said,
“What do you mean ‘You’re wrong’? Won’t you explain how my neck got wet then!? I know your hormones are raging, but never thought you would try something like this on my defenceless body while I slept…!”
Darkness furiously signalled for me to keep quiet by pressing her finger against her lips,
“Y-you’re being too loud! No…! I really didn’t do anything! Um, I woke up to find my face buried in your neck! Then, my drool inadvertently dripped onto it…! I thought I should wipe it off, but when I see you chained to me with such a defenseless sleeping face… For some reasons, a strong wave of shame and guilt washed over me… then I got increasingly aroused and…!”
So she was indeed about to do things to me.
I sat up and checked my body.
“… Oh, my belt is still there … You really didn’t do anything… “
“Wh-why do you sound like you’re a little disappointed…”
I don’t know what got her so aroused, but her skin had a visibly reddened sheen and her breaths were shallow.
“… I knew you were a huge pervert with an extremely erotic body, but I didn’t expect you to actually try something on me at night. You were also planning on going all the way with me back when you tried to drug me, didn’t you? Maybe I should really start calling you Slutiness.”
“D-don’t do that…! …Un…Uuu! …M-my heart started racing after being scolded and called a pervert and slut by you… Am I really hopeless…?”
“You’re worrying about that now? You’ve been hopeless since the day we met.”
As I talked, I tidied up the messy blankets and carefully laid back down.
Though she still seemed to be embarrassed, Darkness followed suit.
“… Thinking back, when I first met you, I didn’t think I’d ever be in a position to chat about such crude topics with you. I was a woman of fewer words back then, even worse at socializing than I am currently… Furthermore, I was also more actively trying to keep my distance from you…“
In this silent and dimly lit room.
Darkness said those things to me.
“Well, you are a Lady; you were most likely forbidden from getting close to anyone… From my first impression, you were more stern and quiet; someone who would never lecture me—and of course—would never fight with me. Even though you were lewd and had some strange attributes, the past you still came across as being more mature…”
Hearing me talk to the ceiling, Darkness couldn’t help but giggle.
“My first impression was that you are a little dishonest, yet diligent; someone who stays away from shady businesses, a reliable, determined and gentle person.”
She turned to me on the bed and talked to my cheek.
“For some reason, I feel like you’re making it sound as if I’m actually a brute of a man who’s no longer diligent, determined or reliable and would readily get involved in shady businesses.”
“That is exactly what I meant…?”
Darkness laughed again.
“… Say, Kazuma,”
She said in the same tone she would use when trading small talk with someone.
I turned my head towards Darkness.
“… Do you like Megumin?”
It must have been cloudy outside..
Even though there should be a full moon tonight, very little light made it through the windows.
Possibly from the lack of light, I couldn’t clearly make out Darkness’ expression.
“… S-sorry, did I ask something strange?.”
I could still sense the slight redness on Darkness’ smooth skin as she bashfully said.
If you suddenly spring such a question on me…
“Well, there’s no way I can hate her, so, yeah, I do like her. Of course, I like Aqua and you too.”
When I finished, the mood took an abrupt dip.
“… You’re saying that you like me… not as a lover… but as a friend, right?”
In the pitch black room, Darkness muttered to herself in a voice tinged with loneliness.
… Eh, what’s going on?
I have a bad feeling about where this is going.
A very bad feeling, in fact.
Even a virgin like me who’s never dated a girl before can tell.
I shouldn’t let this conversation go on.
It definitely will not end well.
What the hell is happening? I’m a virgin who hasn’t even seen a pair of naked breasts before. First Megumin, and now this. How did things end up like this?
How could this happen? I’m a guy who has never even kissed a girl before, so why am I facing these kind of chad-like situations?
As I anxiously contemplated how I should answer her question, Darkness gently tugged on the cuffs on her right wrist.
It was only a quick, light tug.
Of course, my chained left hand naturally followed.
“Say… you like Megumin… romantically, right?”
As she spoke, Darkness held my left hand with both of hers.
I took in the soft and warm sensation of her touch.
At the same time, I frantically searched for a suitable answer.
The relationship Megumin and I have is one that is more than friends, but not yet lovers.
This is supposed to be a secret to the other two, but Darkness probably sensed it.
… She sensed that my attitude towards Megumin changed…
“… I-I don’t know. To be honest, I don’t really understand it myself. However, I definitely don’t dislike her. I guess you could say I like her romantically. Just being with her makes me feel at ease… How should I put this… When I’m with her—for some reason—I just feel like I can relax.”
Without much thought, I blurted out such things.
That was probably how I truly felt.
I don’t normally pay attention to it, but I know. Every time she pokes a little fun at me, every time we accomplish something big, she takes up a little more of my heart.
Staring straight at each other in this dimly lit room, I told all my thoughts to her word-for-word.
Why did I do that?
I’m not even sure how I managed to convey all that to her without stuttering.
I just laid it out as it were.
“… I see.”
She whispered only that short phrase in response, then gently placed my hand back onto my chest.
With that, Darkness turned her back on me.
After that, Darkness just silently lied there.
… Just when I feel like saying ‘Hey, come on and say something’,
“Everything’s pretty great as it is.”
Darkness said that.
What does she mean?
Before I could ask—
“… Everything’s pretty great as it is. Aqua makes a mistake and won’t stop wailing, you then go ‘where would you be without me’ and babysit her. Megumin breaks something with her magic, you proceed to go apologize with her. I spit out something stupid, and you then come lecture me… “
Darkness started a perplexing monologue with her back still faced to me.
“Packing lunch for everyone as we accompany Megumin on her daily trip to somewhere like a lake as you did this morning. I start arguing with you over pointless matters. Then Aqua suddenly wants to go travel somewhere. Hearing that, you complain while at the same time formulating an itinerary for everyone in your mind…”
Darkness’ voice began to tremble slightly.
“Then, every now and then, you agree to go on a vacation, yet at the destination, something else would make it all go south…”
I reached for Darkness’ shoulder.
“H-Hey, what’s wrong? Calm down.”
I said as I tried to turn her over.
“… But, if you got together with someone, everything would be different. There’d be no way things will remain like this… Why can’t we just stay like this? Forever like this… To pay back the debt, you use everything you have up your sleeve to raise the money… and encounter some unexpected, powerful enemy in the process, with everyone barely making it out alive in the end… Why can’t just keep things as they are?”
But Darkness adamantly refused to turn around, instead continuing with her monologue.
“You want a lover, right? …Does that really have to be Megumin?”
With her back still towards me, Darkness said in a soft voice.
“N-no… it’s not that I want a lover…”
My words caught in my throat.
“If you simply want a woman to screw… Can’t I be that woman? I can go along with anything you wish, no matter what it is, I’ll endure it.”
What is this idiot saying?
“Are you making fun of me? I can get mad too, you know? It’s not like that, it’s… um…”
The words caught in my throat once again.
What do I really want?
…I noticed Darkness’ shoulder trembling.
“… You’re really acting weird today. Really, what’s wrong? Come on, let’s just go to sleep. Sleep, and we can deal with this tomorrow….”
Before I could finish.
Darkness suddenly turned around.
Her face made me gasp in surprise.
Tears streamed out from Darkness’ eyes.
Darkness tightly gripped the hand I placed on her shoulder.
“Why can’t I work…? Wh-why can’t I w-work …?”
She said amidst tears.
I kept my hand on Darkness’ shoulder as she cried like a little child. Try as I might, but I just couldn’t say anything.
Who knows how long we remained like this.
After composing herself, Darkness lightly pulled my hand off her shoulder.
“… Well, that was unsightly.”
Still sobbing, Darkness shyly said at a volume barely above a whisper while looking at me with bloodshot eyes.
How should I even handle this kind of situation? Dealing with a crying girl is way out of my league.
And this is completely different from the kind of crying Aqua did every day.
I just couldn’t find anything to say.
In the first place, I didn’t even fully understand why she started suddenly crying. It’s probably why I’m still a virgin.
Darkness stared at me intently with her puffy eyes.
She’s waiting for me to speak.
Just what should I say?
I could only mutely stare at her in panic. Head drooped low, Darkness continued with her monologue.
“… Back then, I was already taken by that Lord. But you saved me from his clutches. You saved me and gave me freedom… So now all I wish is to be able to protect you, to provide you a blissful life. As long as everyone can live on like this, I’m satis…”
“So you would sacrifice yourself? Are you stupid? It’s the same thing you tried with Alderp! Don’t just solve every problem by sacrificing yourself! Don’t misjudge me, Darkness! I’m not someone who seeks a lover just to do those things, nor am I the kind of person who’s fine with anyone as long as they are willing to become my lover… Um… Megumin confessed to me a quite while ago. Ever since then I, slowly, without me noticing… started to pay more and more attention to her. Eventually, I thought… ah, so I love Megumin too… It’s something I only recently realized… ”
I don’t even know what I wanted to say. Darkness kept her head down and listened silently.
“… I also…”
Her head still kept low,
“… I like you too.”
She suddenly said that…
Even though I knew at the back of my head that it was coming, I let out a confused gasp.
“… At first, I simply had the hunch that you were the type of guy I’d like… You… being average-looking, perverted, and seeming to be the kind of trash who only wants a lazy life without doing anything of value. Reluctant to work, and drinking from dawn to midnight, and eventually coming down with a mountain of debt… hehe.”
Oh, right, her type was those delinquents with no redeeming qualities.
At the very least, I can tell that this isn’t a compliment.
“Don’t forget that you played a part in landing me into debt too.”
Darkness then chuckled and said,
“Then, should I pay back those debts with my body?”
“Sorry, I’ll never say things like that again, sorry.”
Seeing me instantly regret my stupidity, Darkness couldn’t help but laugh aloud.
She then continued with her head turned down,
“… Every time I see you face against all kinds of powerful enemies and come out victorious, it always makes me feel energetic and refreshed. That magic sword user who was stronger and more experienced than you. The Demon Generals who were stronger than you by orders of magnitude. If I start counting the number of times you’ve exceeded my expectations, it’ll never end… When you tossed money at that corrupt Lord’s face, I became truly obsessed with you.”
I guess that counts as a compliment.
“… You might have been hopeless initially, but you changed quickly. No matter who what enemy you faced, you, who has the weakest job, with no particularly powerful equipment to back you up. With just a basic bow and a strangely named sword, yet with just these you were able to overcome any obstacle, no matter how impossible they seemed. Then, before we realized it, you’ve managed to clear that astronomical debt…”
Just hearing Darkness’ words made me feel many times more confident in my strength; it’s unbelievable.
“I don’t know when it happened, but you eventually slipped outside of my strike zone. Although you have been lazing around doing nothing of importance and drinking all day recently… I don’t know when, but you no longer feel like the sort of trashy man that I liked.”
“… I like you. At first because you were scummy and I liked scumbags, so it was a perfect fit. However, as time went on… my type shifted to just you. No matter what you turn into, I would always like you.”
What’s happening? This is bad.
I’m really very happy.
“… I like you… yet you say that you love Megumin. Even then, I still like you… and Megumin. Aqua, too. I feared that the things I just said would destroy the harmony within our party, so I was originally going to keep them to myself, but…”
Darkness lifted her head.
And said while staring directly at me…
“What Megumin’s mother said the other day… Megumin phrased it like this, right? Wanting to become more than friends?”
… With her tear-stained, puffed up eyes.
Her face glistened with wet trails.
“It seems like I’m a weak woman after all. Even though I like Megumin too… It hurts whenever I consider that she might take you away from me.”
She looked like a scared little girl, almost as if she was afraid that she was about to lose something important.
“… Kazuma… Will I… really… not work…?”
She asked with a stutter, as if she’s afraid of hearing my answer.
Ah, this is bad.
I couldn’t believe that Darkness actually confessed to me. That makes me really happy.
… But while I’m overjoyed.
My heart still hurts like hell.
“Darkness… um… “
My chest hurts.
It really hurts.
“Darkness, I don’t hate you. Looking back, this is the first time an older girl as beautiful as you has confessed to me.”
The more I talk, the more it hurts.
Damn, why can’t this world be like those eroges?
I tried to suppress the tear-jerking pain while staring at Darkness’ teary, upward-pointed face point-blank.
“… I never came close to anything like romance in the country I’m from. Back then, I’ve always felt that I’d probably end up being single forever… that I’d probably never get the chance to chat properly with a girl… And here you are telling me that you like me for who I am. How could I not be happy?”
Darkness gazed at me anxiously, trying to see through me and get my true intentions.
… My heart hurts, it hurts so bad that I might burst into tears.
Just like in light novels, in games.
Like in harem manga.
“… But… I’m sorry. I already have someone in my heart. I’m not thick-skinned enough that I can go ‘I love you too’ under this circumstance, and I’m not experienced enough to be able to go out with two girls simultaneously. I’m not that trashy of a person. I can’t be with you.”
If I’m in an alternate world, it’d be great if I could go for polygamy.
Arriving at a happy ending without needing to choose would be great.
But these thoughts are nothing but empty wishes.
Darkness closed her eyes and looked back down—
—I wonder how long we spent in silence.
Finally, Darkness spoke up,
“…Thank you for answering me honestly… Sorry for all the trouble.”
While saying that…
Darkness pushed herself up and smiled with relief.
It was the familiar, confident smile.
A smile that’s both gentle and resolute.
As if her worries have dissipated, Darkness brushed her forelocks aside and stood up. With a refreshed face, she brought her hands to her waist.
Then, she gracefully flashed me that confident smile of hers again.
Before turning away cleanly and showing me her back.
“… Then I’ll be leaving, Kazuma. See you tomorrow… Seems like I still like you after all. You could’ve simply went with the flow and deceived me, yet you still went out of your way to give me a clear answer… ”
Saying that, Darkness headed for the door…
The chain clanged.
Perhaps because her brain overheated from what happened earlier, Darkness completely forgot that we’re still cuffed together. She tried to spit a cool one-liner to end it all then leave the room.
Her right arm was violently yanked back by my left.
Pulling my upper body along, she spun around like a top before plummeting head-first onto the bed.
I can’t tell if she’s hurt or not.
She simply stopped moving as soon as her face hit the bed.
“… Hey, are you okay…?”
In response, Darkness drooped her head low as to not let me see her face and kneeled on the carpet.
Then, she hid her face between her knees.
On a closer look, her shoulders are trembling slightly.
Then, I noticed that the small portion of her ears that were sticking out had turned cherry red, possibly out of embarrassment…
I just couldn’t hold back my laughter any longer.
“I’m going to kill you! I’ll kill you then myself right after!”
“Just to get revived by Aqua in the morning, right? I get it! It’s my bad for laughing at you! But I couldn’t really help it. It’s your fault too! How could I not laugh after seeing such a scene play out after a tense moment?”
We’re currently in the middle of a midnight chained deathmatch.
“I was really serious! If a woman gathered her courage to confess, no matter how stupid she ends up looking, any man who laughs at her deserves to be killed! …Ah, right, it’s you we are talking about… If anyone would do something like that, it’d be you! Hey, at least let me hit you once!”
“You… But… Because…! You tried to leave with such a serious face… ! Pffft…. Hahaha…!”
“I am going to kill you!”
Remembering what just happened, Darkness lunged at me as I once again burst out into laughter.
“I-I’m sorry! I understand, I understand! I’m my fault! It’s my fault for laughing at you! Just one punch! Would you forgive me if I took a hit from you!?”
Hearing my suggestion, Darkness lowered her fist.
“… I see. Stand still and close your eyes, then.”
She said while taking heavy breaths.
This is really scary.
Damn, even from the monstrously strong Darkness, I could take at least one punch, right!?
I can take it…!
I can… probably take it…!
“Here goes. You’re prepared for this, right?”
Darkness audibly readied her stance before me as I held my eyes shut.
I resolved myself.
As I said that, I felt something brush against my cheeks.
My body reflexively twitched in shock the moment I felt that, before I realized that it was Darkness’s hand, stroking my cheek.
The moment I did, something soft pressed against my lips.
Even though I’ve never been kissed before, I knew right away what touched me even with my eyes closed.
The moment I opened my eyes, I was presented with an angry-looking Darkness, yet blushing beet-red all the way to her ears, her left hand stroking my cheek.
Then, as she moved away from me, I briefly saw Darkness’ tongue stick out to lick the part of her lips that touched mine.
“You… You… !”
I feel like I should complain about this, but what do I even say?
Before I could find the right words, Darkness pulled my left arm over by the chain.
She grabbed my wrist and whispered into my ear,
“… I was going to quietly accept my defeat, but I’ve just changed my mind. I’m older than you and Megumin, also a noble. Starting tomorrow, I will adhere to my standards and respect your personal space. However, right now… “
After sending a chill down my spine with those words, she grabbed my hand and pushed me down onto the bed!
“Hey, wh-what’re you doing, Darkness!? Wait! No, this is bad! This is bad in every possible sense!”
As I was held down against the bed by Darkness, I thought about what to do in this situation.
Blushing furiously, Darkness panted and said,
“Don’t you always enjoy calling me Sluttiness or Lewdness? I’m always lewd-this lewd-that…! You’re right, I am lewd! I’ve already made up my mind! Forget about sleeping tonight, I’m playing with you till sunrise!”
“Alright I get it, please calm down. I-I don’t think losing our first times in this way is a very mature thing to do, so calm down-!?”
As I said that and tried to get up-
Darkness tightly gripped my left hand and pressed her body weight onto it, pinning it to the bedside.
Of course, that left my upper body spread wide open across the bed.
Keeping my left hand pinned to the bedside, she straddled onto my waist.
This isn’t good.
This position really isn’t good.
“No, wait, Darkness! Seriously, calm down! Stop, don’t do this-!”
As I continued trying to persuade her, Darkness panted heavily and rubbed my cheek with her left hand.
“I recall that you did this to me back at my home some time ago… Seems like the tables have turned tonight… !”
This is really bad. Really, don’t!
What’s really bad about this? Well, my thing would do that.
She probably noticed since she’s straddled around my waist.
Darkness yelped in a soft voice, slightly abashed.
However, even though my thing did that, Darkness still had no intentions of getting off me.
No, don’t be mesmerized! Don’t get carried away by this H-game-esque scene.
Calm down, Satou Kazuma, do you intend to cheat on Megumin?
It was only yesterday!
I became more than friends with Megumin only yesterday!
If I let my body be swept along by this situation, I’ll end up betraying Megumin who so bravely confessed her feelings last night…!
That’s right, even though I have the excuse that ‘Darkness forced herself upon me, so I couldn’t resist’…!
Although Darkness appears to be somewhat embarrassed, she still pushed her face closer as she caressed my cheek with her left hand.
“D-don’t do it! Don’t do this, Darkness! Damn, how could this… ! Having only the weakest class, I can’t possibly match the strength of a Crusader like you…!”
As I desperately screamed at Darkness, I used my free right hand to…!
… Free right hand?
“Hey, Darkness, my right hand! My right hand is free! If you don’t restrain my right hand with your left soon, I’ll retaliate! Be mindful, I have Drain Touch!”
Hearing my reminder, Darkness hastily took hold of my right wrist and pressed it down.
How could this have happened? Now both of my hands have been restrained.
Damn, I already have Megumin… how could she simply play with me as she wishes…!
I desperately struggled for my freedom against Darkness..
“… Hey, what happened, Darkness? Why did you stop?”
“… Eh? No-nothing, just, I used both of my hands to pin you down, so I don’t know what to do next… “
Darkness said something silly as she kept both of my hands pinned.
“Idiot, what’s that mouth of yours for!? I’m already half-naked! I’m totally defenceless against whatever you can do with your mouth right now!”
Shakily, Darkness reached for my neck with her tongue out…!
…At this moment, perhaps Darkness got cold feet, her tongue hesitated mere centimetres away from my neck.
In response, I screamed at her in an anguished voice.
“Dammit, how could you tease me like this? Your name really checks out, Lewdness! But I’ll never surrender to you! But please stop hesitating and get on with it!”
“A-alright! Then… here I come… !”
Saying that, Darkness started moving her tongue closer…
“Ah, wait a second! It’s getting too cramped down there, so please unbuckle my belt! Remember, you have to say ‘You might be saying that you don’t like it, but your body doesn’t lie…!’ while you’re doing that!”
“Ah, right, I understand…! You might be saying that you don’t like it, but your body doesn’t lie…!”
As she said it, Darkness let go of my wrists to unbuckle my pants with her hands…!
“Idiot, why did you let my hands go free!? Keep holding me down and don’t let me resist!”
Hearing my harsh words, Darkness reflexively apologized.
“Just like that. Unfortunately, you’ll have to get off my body for a second. Approach me from the side as I’m lying down… Yes, like that. Then, use your right upper arm to press down on my left wrist, and then reach for my right wrist with your hand… That’s it. That way, your left hand is now free, see? Oh, and use your giant breasts to push my chest down so that I can’t get up…!”
“L-Like this…? Right, then I’ll reach down with my left hand to…!”
Following the instructions that I regretfully screamed, Darkness took hold of my belt as I helplessly laid there…!
“Ah! Ouch ouch ouch! Why the hell did you tighten it! You’re supposed to unbuckle it! Unbuckle my belt! Also, remember to say ‘Ufufu… that looks pretty painful… !’ while doing so!”
“A-ah, right! S-sorry for being so clumsy…! Fu… fufu, that looks pretty painful…! So far, I don’t remember hearing you say ‘no’ even once…!”
“Very nice, that was some great ad-libbing!”
Darkness’ left hand reached down and searched for my unprotected belt…
“Eh? What the?”
“Hey, hurry up! Go on! Don’t stop now! And remember, your mouth is free while you’re loosening my belt. Consider what your mouth can be doing to my defenceless, naked upper body…!”
Suddenly, the door flew open.
Standing on the other side of the door were a displeased-looking Megumin and a very tired Aqua.
Seeing them, I immediately screamed.
“Save me! This woman is about to violate me!”
Using the key she had, Aqua unlocked the handcuffs with a click.
Aqua claims to have flawless vision in the dark, being able to see everything at night as clearly as she could in the day. With such an ability, she was able to find the key.
Apparently, Megumin woke Aqua up in the middle of the night and made her search for the keys that Darkness lost.
And why would she do that? Well…
“Man, you guys were really noisy… ! I told you two to get a little closer, not to start a fight in the middle of the night!”
Darkness was kneeling on the carpet as Megumin lectured her.
“… S-sorry… “
Megumin placed her hands on her hips.
Facing Megumin who towered over Darkness as she was kneeling, Darkness lowered her head.
“Hey, I’m really sleepy. I already worked hard to find the key, so can I go to bed now?”
Aqua could barely keep her eyes open. Megumin briefly thanked her, after which Aqua shakily waddled out of the room.
Now free from the handcuffs, I sat on the edge of my bed and dangled my legs as I listened to Megumin’s lecture.
To the Darkness who had her head lowered before Megumin, I said,
“Man, you really are something. Not only did you harass me during my sleep, but you even dared to do such things to me despite my ferocious resistance…!”
“Ah! You, you bastard…!”
Hearing me, Darkness turned to give me a harsh glare.
… And so did Megumin.
In the face of Megumin’s piercing gaze, I eventually broke down and went to kneel besides Darkness.
“… For some reason, I feel like I should kneel before you too.”
“Well, it’s good that you took the initiative.”
Hearing Megumin’s reply, Darkness smiled as if she was enjoying my plight.
… This little.
Looking at the two of us, Megumin let out a sigh.
“Seriously, and here I thought that letting the two of you stay together for the night will bring you a little closer… Darkness, did you tell him everything that you wanted to say?”
Megumin’s question put a shocked expression on both of us.
Just how much did this girl know?
You really can’t underestimate the intelligence of Crimson Demons.
Seriously, why can’t you put this kind of intelligence to use in your daily life?
“Er… Um… Megumin, sorry… “
Still kneeling, Darkness mumbled.
Seeing that, Megumin said,
“Why are you apologizing? This isn’t a topic that I have any say in. You should value your own emotions more. After all, we are still not proper lovers yet. It’s not my place to say anything about who this indecisive man decides to go with. So, did you properly get everything off your chest?”
While saying something oddly mature, Megumin smiled gently at Darkness.
Hearing Megumin’s words, Darkness raised her head and placed both her fists against her knees.
Seeing that, Megumin smiled.
The two of them looked like a child proudly reporting to her mother after she’s done something by herself, and the mother smiling proudly in return.
Even though Megumin is the younger of the two.
Somehow, seeing Megumin act like this made my chest ache a little.
Could it be?
Did I want her to be a least a little jealous?
Perhaps it hurt me when she said that it isn’t her place to say anything about who I choose to go with.
Just thinking that line made me feel like an annoying person.
As if sensing my muddled thoughts, Megumin gave me a smile that seemed to indicate that she knew everything that’s going on in my head and said,
“Now’s the time to show off how dependable you are. In order to not lose my affection, you should do more cool stuff like monster hunting more often.”
Darkness nodded in agreement.
Even though Darkness said she liked men who are lazy wastrels.
Between the recent tax collection and this, just when did she have a change of heart?
I smiled wryly at the two and said,
“Guess I don’t have much of a choice… “
Darkness and Megumin both smiled joyfully in response.
“Well, I don’t think it’s likely, but just to confirm, nothing happened between you two, right?”
Megumin asked, a hint of anxiety creeping into her voice.
… Hmm, could it be that she was a little jealous after all?
“No, thanks to this guy’s ferocious resistance, I wasn’t able to do anything.”
Darkness casually answered as she shot me a cheeky gaze.
Somehow, I feel like I’m being toyed with.
Looking at Megumin looking visibly relieved, and Darkness flashing me a victorious smile, I couldn’t help but say,
“… Oh, yeah, what was it that Darkness did when I had my eyes closed just now? Was it my first… what do you call it…?”
Megumin’s face stiffened and Darkness buried hers between her legs.
END OF CHAPTER 3