Sightseeing this pain in the ass city!
Editing: Adam, Cannongerbil, Xenthur
“Well then, please enjoy your vacation in the city of hot springs! Thank you everyone, you’ve been of great help!”
The leader of the caravan kept nodding and bowing to us.
The city of water and hot springs; Alcanretia.
After our long journey inside the carriage, we finally arrived here.
Even after telling the leader the truth behind the series of monster attacks, he refused to believe me.
He seemed to think that this was a story we made up to refuse his payment.
To reward us in lieu of monetary payment, he gave us five hotel coupons.
He seemed to be the owner of the largest hotel in Alcanretia.
His plan was to head to the next city without stopping.
“Ahhh… Jarippa… Jarippa’s leaving…”
As Megumin saw the carriage off, she mumbled to herself.
There were many adventurers who alighted at this stop along with us. They had already entered the city as Megumin continued to watch the carriage leave until it was completely out of sight.
“What’s a Jarippa?”
Aqua suddenly understood.
“Could it be that baby dragon? Speaking of which, one of the customers that looked rather rich asked Megumin to help them name the dragon.”
… Asking a Crimson Demon to name that dragon.
“I heard that after a dragon’s named, it’ll ignore any other name it’s given…”
Darkness blurted out this important fact out of the blue.
Megumin nodded and was filled with emotions.
“The child seemed satisfied with the name Jarippa. I left the note with the dragon’s name on it. I hope the owner will cherish it dearly.”
This girl, what has she done?
My beloved sword was given a weird name which hurt me deeply too. I deeply sympathize with the owner…
“Can’t you change your hobby of giving things weird names? It’s about time you Crimson Demons understand how weird your naming senses are.”
“I fully understand Kazuma has no naming sense at all. It’s such a pity. Kazuma is a pretty nice name. If Kazuma has children in the future, let me name them.”
“I’ll never let you do that… Wait, what did you say about my name? Is Kazuma a good name by Crimson Demon standards? Hey, that makes me depressed.”
With Wiz on my back, I looked around the city.
Wiz was hit by a Turn Undead cast by some moron and has yet to recover consciousness.
And that moron was shouting excitedly right now.
“We’re finally here! The city of water and hot springs; Alcanretia!”
– City of water and hot springs; Alcanretia.
A city surrounded by water, lying between the clear lakes and the mountains where the hot springs were situated.
All the buildings had the base color of blue, making it look clean and beautiful, full of vigor and life.
The Demon King’s army was rampaging around the world, but it didn’t affect this place at all.
It was said the minions of the Demon King’s army fought in this place before. But after that battle, the Demon King’s army no longer dared to get close to this place.
Some people say that there were too many priests in this city. For the Demon King’s army, waging war against priests was too difficult.
Others say this city was protected by the goddess of water, Aqua.
– There was another saying.
“Welcome to Alcanretia! Are you here for sightseeing? To join the cult? To adventure? For baptism? If you’re looking for a job, please come to the Axis Cult! We have an opening right now to explain how wonderful the Axis Cult is. We are offering some very attractive compensations right now. If you take this job, you’ll get the privilege of calling yourself an Axis cultist! Come, come, come, join us!”
– This city had lots of Axis cultists, and the Demon King’s army didn’t want anything to do with them.
The moment we arrived in this city, we were swarmed by a group that seemed to be Axis cultists.
What should we do? I didn’t expect them to make their recruitment pitch suddenly.
And why did this city have so many Axis cultists?
“What beautiful blue hair! Were you born this way? How enviable! I’m so envious of you! This hagoromo looks like the one Aqua-sama wears, it suits you well too.”
Before I realized it, Aqua was being welcomed passionately by a female cultist.
… Hey, this is bad.
If she said, ‘I’m the goddess herself!’ as usual, she’ll be treated as a hoax and get beaten up.
Megumin and Darkness were intimidated by them and were acting timidly.
Wiz was sleeping on my back, which was lucky for her.
Only Aqua was happily mingling with the crowd with shining eyes, happy about the female cultist praising her looks.
I walked to her side and said softly:
“Hey, don’t tell them you’re the real goddess of water. It’ll get us into big trouble. And don’t use your real name, use an alias.”
“I know that Kazuma, I’m not a dummy. Let’s go tour around! This is the city of water and hot springs; Alcanretia! As the goddess of water, I’m very excited! Most importantly, this is the main base of the Axis Cult!”
So, this was the rumored headquarters of the cult full of weirdos.
The Axis Cult is an organization that worships the goddess Aqua.
No wonder she wanted to come here so much.
We couldn’t leave the hyped Aqua alone. I had no choice but to bow to the Axis Cultist welcoming us and say:
“Sorry, we already have a priestess from the Axis Cult. We’re here for sightseeing, see you…”
We turned and left after that. The Axis cultist waved behind us with all smiles.
“Is that so? Then farewell comrades! May you have a wonderful day!”
After we finally got out of the encirclement of the Axis cultists, Megumin and Darkness sighed in relief.
How should I put this…?
“Welcome to Alcanretia! After joining the Axis Cult, many believers were cured of their illness, won the lottery and became skilled in their artistic talents! What do you think, want to join us?”
… What a suspicious religious organization.
I looked at the cultist pitching passionately with an indescribable feeling. It seemed that everyone was avoiding them on the streets.
“… An-Anyway, let’s head to the hotel. I feel a bit guilty about this, but since we have the coupons, it’ll be a waste not to use them.”
After I said that, Aqua smiled mischievously.
“Please go on ahead everyone! I’ll go to the headquarters as an Archpriest and receive their worship!”
She said something really unsettling.
You should be looking after Wiz!
“… Kazuma, I’m a bit worried about Aqua, so I’ll accompany her. Can you help us bring our luggage to the hotel?”
Megumin looked worriedly at the excited Aqua.
Indeed, we’ll be dragged into some troublesome matters again if we leave her alone.
Leaving the supervision of Aqua to Megumin, I headed to the hotel with the others.
“Welcome! The master has already informed us about your visit! Please enjoy your stay!”
When we reached the hotel indicated on the coupon, we received a warm welcome.
However, that caravan was attacked by monsters because of us, so my conscience was aching.
As expected of the largest hotel in the city, it looked big.
Such lodgings were usually reserved for nobles.
When I heard it was a hot spring hotel, I thought it would be Japanese style. I didn’t expect it to be western style.
There seemed to be a top class hot spring within this hotel.
The hotel staff received us warmly and carried our luggage to our rooms.
Laying Wiz to rest in a room, I put away the heavy equipment and luggage and immediately went into sightseeing mode. This was the first time I was visiting a city aside from Axel after all.
We asked the hotel staff to tell her we went out if Wiz woke up.
We were a bit worried, but staying around wouldn’t make her wake up any earlier.
The main event would have to wait until evening–when everyone was gathered.
“What about you Darkness? Since we’re here on vacation, I plan to go sightseeing and come back around dinner time.”
“Yeah, I’ll go too. I don’t know cities other than Axel well.”
Darkness, who was in casual attire, smiled.
After putting down my luggage, I decided to tour the city with Darkness.
– As expected of a tourist city, the shops were exceptionally passionate about attracting customers.
Or rather, it was like a war zone.
After glancing at a shop, someone suddenly called out to us.
“Customer, people will doubt your taste if you make purchases in such a cheap shop. Here, these are Arcane buns made from all-natural ingredients by the elves. It matches your high class status, try a sample.”
The voice came from…
A handsome man with long ears, green hair and white skin.
That’s right, it was an elf.
“Hey, don’t be cocky, jerk! Things that are expensive might not be good! Customer, try my special dwarf meat bun. It’s full of meat and will remain edible for a long time, a specialty that gives good value for money!”
The one rebuking the elf angrily was the shopkeeper staring at me.
His height only reached my chest, but he was well developed sideways and had a face full of beard.
What a classic dwarf.
“Elf…! And dwarf…! Hey Kazuma, there are elves and dwarves here! They look just like the stories I heard when I was little.”
“Oh, indeed. The elves were handsome and the dwarves stubborn.”
Darkness shouted like a kid in Disneyland, and I replied to her.
Aside from the fact they were displaying items for sale here, they were the most fantasy-like existence I’ve seen since coming to this world.
The elegant and handsome elves.
Dwarves that were crude in speech, stubborn in nature and had a thick beard.
Seeing the two shop owners moved me a little.
I had seen elves and dwarves from afar before, but this was the first time I was talking to them up close.
I switched my gaze between them with sparkling eyes. However, the pure admiration for this world was misunderstood by them.
“Look what you did, the customer’s confused. He’s just here to look around, and now he is at a loss because you pressured him. Back off, lowly dwarf.”
“Stop your bullshit! The customer wants to browse my wares, he’s troubled because you’re bothering him! He wants to buy my goods, so scram, pale green elf!”
I panicked when the two of them started quarreling.
Speaking of which, I heard the relationship between elves and dwarves had always been bad.
“Hey, don’t fight! Um, I’ll buy from both shops, so it’s fine!”
When they heard what I said, the two of them stopped squabbling and said to me with a smile:
“Thank you for your patronage!”
“– Kazuma, the relationships between elves and dwarves is really bad! It’s just like the book my father gave to me when I was young!”
After leaving the local specialty stores, I listened to Darkness talking with excitement in her eyes.
Although I was forced to buy something, I saw something nice as compensation.
Darkness was happily carrying a lot of bags. This obviously felt like high-pressure sales.
She seemed to be planning to give this as souvenirs to her father and the servants.
She had probably never been away from the city before, so she wanted to buy something back.
“Yup, they give off the feeling of being ‘real elves and dwarves’… Oh , I forgot to ask them about the places we could visit when I bought this stuff.”
We didn’t know anything about this city and didn’t have any place we wanted to visit particularly.
I asked Darkness to wait for me right here and returned to the shop by myself.
However, I didn’t see these two shop owners.
Maybe their shift was over and they were resting?
Hearing voices from the depth of the shop, I peeked in.
There was no doubt that this was the voice of the elf just now.
… Hey, wait, I can hear the voice of the dwarf too.
Could it be…?
“Hey you two, don’t fight–!”
I charged in, thinking they were quarreling inside the shop…!
“Ah, customer. This is the staff break room, non-staff can’t come in.”
The elf said to me lazily, his respectful tone was nowhere to be found.
… No, elf… Elf…?
He probably noticed my gaze, so the elf owner tugged his ears and said:
“Oh, this–let me be clear. I’m a real elf, not a fake.”
Simply put, his ears–were round.
It was indistinguishable from humans.
He sat cross-legged beside the dwarf, a pair of fake ears on his lap.
… By the way, the dwarf also took off his fake beard and was scratching his chin.
“… Eh, what’s going on here?”
I didn’t know what to say. The ‘elf’ and ‘dwarf’ looked at each other.
“Oh, well, elves in the forest don’t live together with humans and so their ears are long. For elves like me who live among humans, there’ll be interracial children over time, so our ears gradually become rounder. But if I say I’m an elf before the customers, they might be surprised or disappointed since it differs from what their impression are. That’s why I dressed up like a pure-blooded elf.”
The elf said.
… What the hell. And I was quite disappointed just now.
Following that, the dwarf continued:
“As for me, having a beard will cause hygiene problems. And I only work in the shop until evening. I prepare meals for the hotel guests in the morning and evening. It would be terrible if the customers complain about finding beard hair in their meal… Ah, are you thinking that we might still be quarreling? Sorry, that fight’s a performance we put on every day. After all, the rumor says that dwarves and elves hate each other, so we made use of that…”
This was like visiting Africa and seeing the natives holding spears, and discovering them playing with mobile phones as we’re about to leave.
It was dumb of me to look for the feeling of fantasy in this world.
The two of them looked at the depressed me with apologetic eyes.
“Ah… Sorry about that, did we break your dreams?”
“Customer, thinking too much isn’t good for your health. There are definitely clumsy dwarves and elves poor in bowmanship in this world.”
“Hey, hey, are you referring to me?”
The two of them laughed.
… This world was too damn evil.
It couldn’t be helped if the illusion was seen through, more importantly–
“Forget it, I won’t ask for a refund or anything. Can you tell me about some sightseeing spots to visit? I’m here to ask that.”
Both looked at each other.
“Sightseeing spot… Eh, there was a wonderful hot spring earlier…”
“Yup, it would’ve been great if you came earlier…”
“…? I thought there were hot springs everywhere. This is the city of hot springs, after all.”
After hearing my query, the elf wagged his finger.
“I’m talking about the mixed gender hot springs popular among the young ladies.”
“Are you for real?”
I leaned forward. The dwarf added:
“Of course, it’s true. We relax there after work every day.”
… What a wonderful hot spring, why couldn’t it be visited now?
Noticing my question, the elf answered.
“Actually, the water quality of hot springs everywhere is dropping.”
… The water quality’s dropping?
“That is so, some of the customers even fell sick and developed rashes after going to the hot springs… Some even fainted. Experts have already been hired to investigate why the quality of the hot spring water is going down, but it’s still unclear…”
… I looked at the frowning dwarf.
And had the ominous feeling that I might get dragged into something troublesome.
“– How was it? Any good places to visit?”
When I returned to Darkness, I remembered the reason why I returned to the shop in the first place.
I forgot my original objective after hearing about the mixed gender hot spring.
“An-Anyway, let’s tour around there.”
I suggested, and Darkness tilted her head in confusion.
– Holding the kebabs that I bought from the street stall, I walked around aimlessly with Darkness and gawked at the scenery.
The city was clean and surrounded by water.
Judging from this point alone, this seemed to be a great city to live in.
… Suddenly, a young girl carrying something heavy appeared before me.
I unconsciously gave way to her, planning to go past her from the side when–
“Oh? What should I do, the apples I bought…!”
The moment I passed by her, the lady suddenly lost balance, spilling all her groceries out.
She picked up the apples on the ground and stuffed it into the bag.
Darkness and I helped her pick up the dropped items…
“Thank you very much! You’ve been of great help! Can both of you allow me to repay your kindness…?
The girl casually tossed her groceries she cherished so strongly and held my hand.
Eh, could it be that kind of flag…?
As I was hoping for a teen romance sort of development, she said–
“There’s a cafe set up by the Axis Cult ahead, want to head there and chat with me?”
“… Forget it.”
The girl grabbed my cloak as I turned to leave with Darkness.
“No need to hurry, I might look like this, but I’m actually great at fortune telling. Let me tell your fortune to repay you.”
“No, no need… I’m good, let… Let go!”
The moment I shook the hand on my cloak off, the girl tackled my waist.
“The fortune telling results are out! Misfortune will befall you if you continue like this! However, you can avoid misfortune by joining the Axis Cult! Come join us! How can you not join?”
“I’m already meeting with misfortune right now! Let me go! Help me Darkness!”
Darkness grabbed the hand of the girl on my waist.
And pulled out a small amulet from her chest.
That should be the amulet of Eris devotees.
Maybe it was the same as the cross of Christians in the old world.
“Sorry, I belong to the Eris Church. Please stop coercing this man.”
The girl spat to the side of the road.
She quietly released her hand, took her shopping bags and left in a puff.
The sheltered lady who had never been treated so rudely stood there stiffly. The girl turned back after taking two steps and–
She spat at the side of the road once again and walked away angrily.
“Hey Darkness, um… How should I put this? The Axis Cult and Eris Church seem to be on bad terms, so keep that amulet hidden… And don’t take this matter to heart…”
I consoled Darkness who just stood there stiffly.
Darkness groaned softly and trembled.
“… Could it be that you’re enjoying this?
– As we walked along the deserted street, a menacing looking man and a frail girl appeared before us.
“Hya! Save me! You two over there, please help me! This man who’s probably an Eris devotee wants to drag me to a deserted corner…!”
“Hehe, do you happen to be an Axis cultist? Hahaha! If I see a strong and handsome Axis cultist, I’ll run away. Since you aren’t, I’ll proceed unhesitantly! If you want to stop me, who has been blessed by the dark goddess Eris, you’ll regret it!”
“Ahhh, why’s this happening to me! If someone signs this blank cult registration form, this evil Eris devotee will run away–!”
I pretended to not see anything and was about to pull Darkness to leave with me…
“Ahhh, are the two of you leaving me to die? It’ll be fine, just sign here and you’ll receive special powers from Aqua-sama and become powerful and cool! The Eris devotees will run in fear from this power!”
“That’s right! And after joining the cult, you’ll gain incredible abilities like ‘art and craft master’ and ‘attract undead monsters’ easily!”
Darkness took out her amulet before these two.
“As you can see, I’m a follower of Eris. Defaming Eris-sama as a dark goddess before me is–”
Before Darkness could even finish, the girl and man spat on the roadside and left together.
… Was there anyone decent in the Axis Cult?
Darkness stood wordlessly in place and trembled again.
… Were all Eris devotees just like this girl?
– After that.
“Congratulations! You’re the one millionth person to pass through this street! Allow me to present you with a memento! This memento is sponsored by the Axis Cult! To collect this memento, you have to join the cult as a formality–you just need to write it on paper, would that be fine?”
I pulled Darkness with me and was about to go back the way we came.
“… Hmm? Hmm? Long time, no see! It’s me, it’s me! How’ve you been? I was in the same class as you back in school, don’t you remember? I changed a lot after joining the Axis Cult, no wonder you can’t recognize me~”
I’ve never been to school in this world and never been close to any woman, so I silently walked past her.
“… What’s with this city, or rather–what’s wrong with the Axis Cult?”
Tired after being tortured by Axis cultists, Darkness and I rested in an open-air cafe.
Due to the Eris amulet on her neck, Darkness was treated terribly. Right now, her face was still red.
While I laid on the table to rest, the server brought the items we ordered to us.
She placed the drinks on our table one by one.
I propped myself up and prepared myself to eat…
“Ah, Eris devotee customer, this is the special service from this shop.”
The server who brought us the stuff placed something by Darkness’s feet.
… It was dog food served in a plate.
“Please enjoy yourselves!”
The waitress gave a perfect professional smile and left elegantly.
Darkness’s cheeks turned red and she kept on shivering.
“… Hey Kazuma, let’s stay in this city forever.”
After finishing our meal, I dragged the blushing Darkness back to the hotel.
How should I put it, this city was too weird?
… As we were on our way to return, a young girl ran towards us in a hurry.
She was about ten years old.
She fell in front of us.
Darkness and I rushed to her in a hurry. She struggled and said while resisting the pain–
“Ah… Thank you, Onii-chan, Onee-chan…”
– She smiled weakly.
My tortured soul was healed by her smile.
“Are you okay? Be careful next time, can you stand?”
I offered a hand to the little girl as I spoke. The girl grabbed my hand happily.
Her smile was so pure. Ah, I’m being healed.
“Uhmm, I’m fine! Thank you! … Hey, kind Onii-chan, can you tell me your name?”
“Kazuma, Satou Kazuma. This scary looking Onee-chan here is Darkness.”
Darkness used her hands to poke my temples immediately.
After hearing my name, the little girl took out a pen and paper.
“Sa–tu– Ka–za–mah? How’s it spelled? Please write it down for me Onii-chan.”
“Okay, my name is…”
As I was going to write my name down, I saw the header on the piece of paper.
‘Axis Cult Registration Form’.
I tore that piece of paper in half.
Hidden in the shadows of the national religion, it had a poor reputation everywhere aside from this city.
But their presence was strong. I heard that if you met robbers while traveling, just claiming to be from the Axis Cult would make them run away.
That was how feared Axis cultists were.
It’s said that even the Demon King’s army was afraid of them.
– Right now, I’m…
“Hey! Get me the person in charge! I’ll teach you all a lesson!”
I charged into the church headquarters of the Axis Cult with a roar.
“Oh, how may I help you? Joining us? Baptism? Or… Do. It. With. Me?”
Inside the church was a female cultist that was sweeping the floor.
There was no one else around except for her.
“Do, do what…?”
“Don’t be shy, I’m just kidding. Why would a girl you just met say that? Is there something wrong with your head?”
What should I do, I felt like giving her a punch.
“How may I assist you? The leading priest Zesta-sama and the other cultists are busy playing around under the guise of spreading the cult… No, they’re busy spreading the holy name of Aqua-sama. If you’re looking for them, please come another day…”
“Hey, you said something incredible just now. You’re causing so much trouble just to have fun?… Forget that for now, did you happen to see a female mage with an eye-patch and an Archpriest with blue hair? They’re my teammates.”
The female cultist said as she continued sweeping:
“Oh, so you’re a teammate of that great person. Your two teammates are inside.”
Inside? What are the two of them doing in a place like this?
The female cultist tilted her head and said:
“By the way, your comrade there… The kids are throwing stones at her, will it be fine to leave her like this?”
“Hmm? … Ah! Hey, brats! What are you doing? Shoo, go away!”
Darkness was sitting down at the entrance of the church with her head in her arms. The children were throwing rocks at her.
I chased the kids away in a hurry.
“Ka-Kazuma… I think this city’s the best… Everyone, even the women and children glare at me as if I’m an enemy…! I’m going to lose it…!”
“Sigh, you better not wander around on the streets. You create way too much trouble. And put that Eris amulet away.”
I dragged the Eris devotee that wouldn’t listen to my advice and entered the church again.
The female cultist gestured to a small room in the church with her eyes.
It was a small house in a corner of the church.
I see, so that was the so-called confession room?
“One of your teammates is in there. All the priests in the church are out right now, so this Archpriest is covering for them and hearing confessions.”
A real goddess listening to confessions. I’ve never heard of something like that before.
“Kazuma, I’ll search for Megumin. I’ll leave Aqua to you.”
Darkness ventured into the depths of the church after saying that.
… The moment Darkness passed by the female cultist sweeping the floor, the cultist swept all the trash she gathered onto Darkness.
Darkness stopped as she stepped on the dust and trash with a blushed face.
“Oh, I beg your pardon. I saw the Eris amulet and thought it was trash, sorry about that.”
“… No, no, it’s fine…”
Darkness kept trembling as if she was enduring something as she squeezed out a sentence. The depraved Eris devotee wandered into the depths of the church.
Seeing her figure disappear into the distance, I hurried into the confession room. I really didn’t want anything to do with the cultists anymore.
The door to the confession room was locked and I couldn’t go in.
There was no answer even when I knocked.
Was she sleeping?
I had no choice but to enter the space where the one making the confession was supposed to be in.
The moment I went in, what I heard was–
“Welcome, lost sheep… Come, confess your sins, the goddess will listen to you and grant you compassion…”
Taken in by the atmosphere in the confession room, Aqua was acting in character.
She seemed to take a liking to this job after hearing a few confessions.
I couldn’t see her face because of the screen, but I could imagine her excited face easily.
“Sheep your head, it’s me! Hey, what’s up with this city? It makes my head hurt. I can’t even sightsee properly. Aren’t they your believers? Can’t you do something about this?”
After hearing what I said, Aqua turned silent for a moment…
“… I see, this is the ‘It’s me, it’s me’ scam… Please repent seriously and deeply. The merciful lady Aqua will definitely forgive your sins…”
“Hey, I already said it’s me. Why are you still telling me nonsense? What, are you enjoying this? You’re tickled that you get to do something priestly for once, aren’t you?”
When I said that, Aqua was quiet for a short while.
“Do you have anything else to confess? If not, please leave this room and live a forthright life…”
“Hey, haven’t you played enough? Listen to me! Aren’t you one of those Archpriests that are revered around here? The problem will be solved if you give the word, so go ask them to buck up!”
And Aqua quieted down again…
“I think you have nothing else to confess… Well then, I’ll wait for the next sheep to come… Please leave.”
“Hey, what are you talking about…? You’re chasing me out…?”
“I said leave! If your confession’s done, then get the hell out!”
This scumbag, receiving just a little bit of gratitude made her so happy that she turned cocky.
Why was she so easily influenced?
I sat on the chair once again, made a deeply repentant face and said:
“… Actually… I have something I need to tell you, priestess-sama.”
“? I’ll listen, I’ll listen! Here, here! I’ll share your confession, so repent! Do you have an unhealthy interest in your Crusader teammate’s underwear? Or the urge to plunge your nose into your mage companion’s black hair and sniff hard? Or the sins of treating your beautiful and elegant priestess comrade so crudely, even though you’re just a hikikomori?”
I said clearly to the excited Aqua:
“Actually, I accidentally broke the glass my priestess teammate used for party tricks. I repaired it with rice and put it back secretly.”
“… Also, she was bragging after getting her hands on some rare, fine wines, so I wondered just how nice they were and tried a little… But it was too tasty, so I finished it all. I know she can’t appreciate wine, so I filled the empty wine bottles with cheap wine.”
“? What are you saying, Kazuma? Hey, what is all this about?”
My confession continued.
“… That priestess caused me too much trouble… So, before I came to this city, I secretly posted a request in the adventurer’s guild to look for a new priestess of the Eris church.”
“Wahhh! You renegade, taste my holy wrath!”
Aqua opened the screen in the confession room and pounced on me–!
“– Really, calm down. I was just joking. Anyway, Darkness and I got a headache dealing with these cultists. There’s no way we can tour around in peace like this. They’re your devotees, right? So rein them in.”
Aqua retreated back to the other side of the confession room.
After finally calming the crying Aqua down, I stayed together with her in that room.
“It can’t be helped. This is the first time I’m facing my believers face to face… Anyway, you were lying about searching for a new priestess, right?”
“Leaving the first two aside, the last one’s a lie, so don’t worry.”
“Hey, hold it! Did you just say, ‘Leaving the first two aside’?”
… Suddenly, there was knocking on the door to the confession room.
Hey, are you kidding me, someone was here for a confession?
The door opened with a creak, and the sound of someone entering the room on the other side could be heard.
I poked Aqua who was sitting on the floor, then pointed to the floor and then myself.
“Is it fine for me to be here?”
That’s what my gesture meant. Aqua had a serious face–crossing her finger and gesturing at the screen as if she were saying, ‘Look over there’.
Before my eyes–the fingers formed a shadow because of the light. I knew what it was with a glance–that moving shadow was the Destroyer…!
Ah! This idiot, she didn’t understand what I meant!
“Welcome, lost sheep… Come, confess your sins; the goddess will listen to you and grant you forgiveness…”
As I was about to leave the room, Aqua, who was satisfied after showing me her shadow play, calmly announced to the person who came for a confession.
“Ah…. Please, please, hear my confession! I’ve been in the Axis Cult for a very long time and fervently worship Aqua-sama. But…! The drawing of goddess Eris, and those bountiful breasts… They’re enticing me! Those are the breasts of the devil! Ahhh… Please, please, forgive me for the sin of lusting over another goddess…!”
Don’t run here for a confession whenever you run into a boring problem–that thought welled up in me, and I had the urge to charge into the room next door to beat that guy up. What should I do?
However, Aqua kept a straight face and said gently:
“Don’t worry, the goddess will forgive all your sins. Thou, give in to your love to big breasts. Thou, give in to your love to small breasts. The Axis Cult is a cult that accepts everything. Be it homosexuals, animal ear lovers, lolicons, or NEET; as long as it isn’t undead or devils, if there’s love and it’s not a crime, the goddess will grant compassion to all.”
I felt Aqua glancing towards me when she said NEETs.
The voice of the person confessing was trembling with emotion.
From this voice, he was probably about to cry.
“Thou sincere cultist, I’ll bestow you with a holy incantation that will spare you from the clutches of the devil. ‘Eris pads her chest’–whenever you feel lost again, just repeat this incantation. If you see someone troubled like you, do tell them this too.”
“Eris pads her chest… I, I feel like my eyes have been opened! Thank you for your wonderful incantation, thank you very much!”
The person who came for a confession left while thanking Aqua profusely.
“… Hey Aqua, you’re slandering your junior. Is that really adequate for a goddess?”
“What are you talking about? For a goddess, the beliefs from the devotees are very important. It’ll directly affect the power of the goddess. Eris has a lot of devotees, while my believers are fewer in numbers but stronger in their belief. I’m willing to do anything to protect my precious cultists.”
– When we exited from the confession room, Darkness brought the worn out Megumin to us.
“Kazuma… You’re finally here…”
“Hey, what happened, you look really pale.”
Megumin shook her head gently.
“This is like the home of the devils, let’s leave right now. I want to get away as soon as possible.”
“What… What in the world happened?”
I was really concerned and kept asking, but she was unwilling to answer.
However, from the huge amount of cult registration forms stuffed into all her pockets and gaps between her clothes, everything became clear.
“Are you going back already, Archpriest-sama? Want to visit the hot spring reserved for our cultists? This is the main source of income for the Axis Cult, the best hot spring in the city. Using it will improve your health.”
The lone female cultist watching over the church tried to persuade Aqua who was going back with us to stay.
“Oh, that’s a great idea. What does everybody think, want to go together?”
“I want to return to the hotel and rest… And for some reason, Chomusuke’s very afraid of this church. Could it be this child hates churches?”
“I’m going back too. There’s no telling what troubles there’ll be when the other Axis cultists return. Let’s go back, I had enough for today.”
After Megumin and Darkness expressed their thoughts, they looked at me who had not yet spoken.
They were asking for my opinion.
“Is there a mixed bath here?”
“You’ll receive divine retribution for saying something so despicable in a holy church.”
… After hearing what the female cultist said, I decided to return for the day.
Back in the hotel, we found the revived Wiz relaxing her warm body.
“Ah, welcome back everyone! Sorry for making everyone worry. I’ve already bathed and the staff told me where the mixed bath is. It’s much wider there. And there was no one there at all, as if I had booked the whole place for myself.”
… The mixed bath was wider?
… Hmm, her body was still emitting heat and she said she just bathed, so that means–
Wait, now that I thought about it… If Aqua hadn’t pull that confession stunt, I would have…!
“So, did everyone have fun sightseeing…? Kazuma-san, what’s the matter?”
“Ahhh, ten minutes… At least five minutes earlier and… No, no, no, I didn’t say anything!… Eh, nothing happened during our sightseeing today… I don’t want to leave the hotel tomorrow; this city’s weird.”
“The Axis cultists are too scary. I understand now why people say they’re as scary as the Crimson Demons.”
Megumin and I said tiredly. But Darkness–
“I-I plan to tour around tomorrow, too…”
“You, you really… Sigh. Do what you want, I’m going to take a bath.”
I had no words for Darkness who wanted to walk around the streets by herself. I stood up and prepared to go to the bath.
I needed to return to my room to get my underwear.
As I was the only man in the team, I had to stay in a separate room from them.
“… I’m going to bathe now.”
“I heard you, take your time.”
“I already bathed, so please take your time Kazuma-san.”
Megumin and Wiz replied.
I looked at Darkness and said once more–
“… I’m going to b–”
Darkness said coldly.
– After leaving their room, I took my underwear and came to the hotel’s hot spring.
It was a bit lonely since no one came with me, but I expected it from the beginning.
That’s right, the main event for today was only beginning.
There were three entrances before me.
From right to left were the men, mixed, and female hot springs.
I chose the middle entrance by instinct without any hesitation.
Since this was a mixed bath, I didn’t need to feel shy. So, I just headed right in….
When I entered, I saw a basket with clothes inside.
Which meant there was someone in here.
Calm down, I need to calm down. It was uncertain if the one inside was a woman.
I forced myself to cool down, took off my clothes, and, with my heart thumping in my chest, entered the mixed bath.
… At this moment, I heard someone talking from the mixed bath.
“That damn cult’s finally going to be destroyed. The work in destroying the secret hot spring is now complete; the progress in the other hot spring is also proceeding smoothly. Now, we just need to wait. For us who have long lifespans, waiting a decade or two’s no big deal.”
The classic antagonist speech of a man plotting schemes could be heard–
These lines are often heard in movies and manga.
He just said, ‘That damn cult’s finally going to be destroyed.’
He was probably referring to the Axis Cult.
He then said:
‘For us who have long lifespans, waiting a decade or two’s no big deal.’
From this, I can conclude that something inhuman was planning to destroy the Axis Cult.
… I’ll make it clear. I didn’t want to be involved in any troublesome matters.
And I had another idea too.
Wouldn’t it be better if the Axis Cult was destroyed?
Fortunately, although I wasn’t using skills to hide myself, they didn’t notice my presence.
I’ll just pretend that I never heard about this and try to get away before I get dragged in. I put on the clothes I took off…
“Hans, you don’t need to report such things one by one, I’ve already said this plenty of times. I’m here to recover using the hot springs, so don’t drag me in too.”
When I heard the female voice, I immediately took off my clothes that were already halfway on.
“Hey, don’t say that Wolbach. This is a great chance to destroy the cult we have no chance of defeating head on. I’ll come here to report periodically, so you have to keep visiting the hot spring in this hotel.”
I wrapped a towel around my waist, headed towards the screen door, and opened it.
The sudden sound of the door opening startled the two inside.
There were a man and a woman in the bath.
The man wasn’t in the water; he had a towel around his waist and knelt with one knee beside the woman.
He was tall and well-built, with short brown hair. He had a surprised expression when he saw me.
That was the person who was plotting some scheme.
However, it didn’t matter to me.
I looked to the other side and saw the woman, who seemed a bit nervous, soaking in the hot spring.
She was an Onee-san with short red hair.
She had a great figure. A beauty with large breasts, and yellow pupils that looked like a cat’s.
I was charmed. At this moment, the man whispered to the woman.
“Did he hear what we said…?”
“No idea… And he’s staring at me…”
After hearing their discussion, I came to my senses.
No, no. This might be a mixed bath, but staring at the body of a lady was still rude.
And so, I nonchalantly walked towards the bath and prepared to clean my body.
I started showering before the eyes of the two of them.
… I was too conscious of that Onee-san and glanced at her every now and then.
I really couldn’t help it. I’m a young healthy boy after all, so this was normal.
“… Hey, he seems to be only looking at me. What’s going on…?”
“… Eh, well… He doesn’t seem to have heard what we discussed. That isn’t a suspicious gaze, but one filled with curiosity.”
Maybe I was mistaken, but after I heard him say that, the Onee-san seemed to be hiding her body deeper into the hot spring.
That man said something unnecessary…!
After my shower, I kept a distance from the two of them and entered the hot spring.
It had nothing to do with me.
Even though I did hear about their conspiracy, I didn’t need to be sneaky about it.
And looking at another person’s naked body is normal in a mixed bath. I didn’t do anything wrong.
That’s why I’m staring right at her without hiding it.
“Hey, hey, this is…”
“It… It’s better than being suspected by him. Ah, I have something to do, so I’ll make a move first!”
After saying that, the man left in a hurry.
… I suddenly realized that the man wasn’t wet at all.
I didn’t care what scheme they were plotting, but soaking in the hot spring wasn’t a bad idea.
Or did he have some reason as to why he wouldn’t take a dip in the hot spring?
… Crap, not good. Today, I’m just here for the hot spring.
Who they were and what they were planning was none of my business.
After the man named Hans left, the atmosphere inside the hot spring turned awkward.
What should I do? I’m getting nervous.
The two of us were alone now, so it was awkward to stare at her like that.
I stretched my body in the hot spring and exhaled deeply.
“… Um, you don’t seem to be a resident of this city. Are you here on vacation?”
The Onee-san suddenly spoke to me.
It seemed that the atmosphere on the other side was awkward too.
“You could say it’s a vacation. I’m here with my teammates to enjoy the hot springs.”
After she heard me, the Onee-san sighed softly.
“What a coincidence… I’m here for the hot spring too. But you seem so young… why are you here? To recuperate through the hot spring? Are you injured?”
“That’s correct. I might look this way, but I’m an adventurer. After a fight to the death with a powerful adversary, my neck suffered a serious injury. You could say this is like a badge of honour for men.”
The Onee-san laughed in response.
“As for me… While I was fighting my other half, I couldn’t snatch my powers back completely. So, to recover my original powers, I’m here for therapeutic hot spring baths.”
She said something incredible like a joke.
“I think the mage in my team will be excited if you tell her that.”
“Hahaha, is your teammate a Crimson Demon? I wonder how that Crimson Demon girl’s doing. I even taught her magic… I won’t need to take a bath in the hot spring if I find my other half. However, it won’t be so easy to do so.”
The Onee-san sighed deeply. I felt that her joke seemed a little bit too real.
“Well then, it’s about time I return… Also, maybe it’s better if you don’t visit the hot springs here anymore.”
After saying something confusing, the Onee-san went to get out of the water…
“… Ah, um. Can you please not watch my defenseless body when I get out…”
“Don’t mind me.”
When the Onee-san who was preparing to get up heard what I said, she made a hapless expression.
Couldn’t be helped then.
I turned around. The Onee-san said, ‘Thank you’ softly.
“Sigh… Such a wonderful hot spring city, and such a waste. I’ll have to search for a new place to recuperate…”
After leaving the hot spring, she said something confounding.
– I was left alone in the bath, thinking about the conversation between the Onee-san and that man.
‘That damn cult’s finally going to be destroyed.’
The Onee-san even told me it would be better not to visit the hot springs here anymore.
I didn’t know why she was telling me this, but I think the Onee-san meant well.
That was to say, the source of the Axis Cult’s fortune–these hot springs–were being sabotaged by someone.
As someone who knew about the conspiracy, it wasn’t right to ignore this. But I have no intention of getting involved…
Or rather… I really, really, didn’t want to be dragged into trouble anymore.
… That’s right, I’m here solely to have fun, so I’ll pretend I didn’t hear anything this time.
As I was running away from the truth.
“Woah! The hot spring in our hotel is huge, as expected of a high class hotel! This is big enough for a swim!”
“Hey, Megumin, it’s poor etiquette to swim… Hey, what are you doing? The towel is… Ahhh!”
“This isn’t a mixed bath, so why are you being so shy? Adventurers have to take on dirty jobs all the time, so how can you be so squirmy!”
“No, that way of putting it is too weird! Megumin, you’re too bold! Ahhh, not my towel…!”
Familiar voices could be heard from the female bath.
Megumin was apparently stripping Darkness’s towel.
Good, good, continue–I wanted to say that, but I couldn’t see anything and had to imagine it.
I unconsciously swam to the side near the female bath.
The female and mixed bath were only separated by a wall, and the top was open.
By piling things like buckets together, it would be easy to peek over the other side.
However, I wouldn’t do such things. I’m a gentleman.
Hearing a ‘Hya!’ scream and being hit by a flying bucket… ending things so cordially was only possible in a manga.
This was reality. If I peek at them, they wouldn’t hesitate in calling the police.
The sound of people entering the bath could be heard from the other side.
“Phew… It’s great to soak in a hot spring occasionally. I only wanted to drag the lazy Kazuma out and let him grind levels by fighting the undead Aqua would attract. It seems that choosing this place was the right move.”
Wait, what did you…?
“So that was why you told him to come here and recuperate in the hot springs. It’s true… If we had continued staying in Axel, he would’ve never agreed on participating in quests. What kind of man is he anyway? He’s conservative and timid, but doesn’t care about the status of others and has a strong attitude against the nobles… He gets chased around by frogs, but has the guts to fight the boss of the Demon King’s army. Rather than strange, he’s a confounding guy.”
“Shhh! Darkness, don’t say anymore. The mixed bath is on the other side. Given the choice of the male bath and a mixed bath, which one do you think Kazuma would choose?”
“Definitely mixed bath. That coward always holds back at the crucial moment. However, when he has a legal choice, he’ll openly choose the mixed bath.”
I felt like going over to beat them up.
But what they said was true, and I was indeed inside the mixed bath.
I didn’t know if Megumin and Darkness realized my dilemma when they suddenly shouted.
“Kazuma! You’re there, right? You must be sticking your ear against the wall and imagining which part of the body Darkness washes first and panting in excitement, right?”
“Me-Megumin! Why are you dragging me into this…? Hey Kazuma, you heard that, right? I know you’re there!”
The two of them started talking to me, but I didn’t have any obligation to tell them I was here.
I won’t be ticked off just because they saw through how I would act.
… I won’t be ticked off…
I kept quiet. After a while, I could hear them debating softly.
“That’s strange, is he not there? But that’s impossible…”
“Eh… But no one’s answering…”
I continued staying silent in the end…
“It seems Kazuma’s really not there. That makes me feel guilty for suspecting Kazuma. I’ll nonchalantly treat him to some fruit juice later.”
“True, that was rude of me. We were blinded by our prejudice of him.”
The two of them seemed to be reflecting on their actions.
“Anyway, he’s rather dependable. I have to repent on suspecting him…”
“That’s right. He might be like that, but he’s a man who’ll help when his comrades are really in danger. Aside from not being straightforward sometimes, his personality isn’t bad. I should reflect on myself…”
I felt embarrassed just listening to that.
After they take their bath, I’ll nonchalantly treat them to something.
As I was preparing to leave the bath–
“By the way Megumin, it has been bothering me… Your buttocks there…”
“Hey, even if you’re the one saying that… I won’t forgive you if you go on!”
With the sound of splashing, the water from the hot spring next door flew to this side.
“Really! What’s with this pair of lecherous things? If you can spare the effort to notice my butt, why don’t you keep those large things of yours away?”
“Ahhh! Wait! Me-Megumin, stop…! No, not there, ahhh…!”
– I was about to leave because of my guilty conscience, but returned to my original spot.
And as a precaution, I activated Hide and placed my ear against the wall…!
My temple that was rested against the wall was hit by something, and I fell into the hot spring.
Darkness smashed through the wall with her powerful punch.
“What did I tell you? This man’s definitely here!”
“As I expected! My guess was spot on, he always looks at me with such lecherous eyes! How could that man full of lust not be in the mixed bath!”
I nursed my head painfully as I listened to the two of them boost their victory.
I cast water magic at the top edge of the wall.
The two of them were splashed with water and screamed.
To counter attack, they threw all sorts of things over from the other side.
Soap, shampoo, buckets, and Chomusuke.
“Hey! Don’t throw the cat over! It almost fell into the water!”
“That child hate baths, and I’m scratched all over after bathing it. As compensation for eavesdropping, give it a bath!”
Megumin said without mercy.
The cat in my arms was probably terrified of water, as it grabbed tightly onto my hand. That hurts!
It must be hard on you to have such a weird owner…
Since my existence was known, there was no need to hide anymore.
“Hey, it’s such a rare occasion to visit a hot spring. Why can’t we go in together like a family? I’ve already bathed with the two of you before, so you won’t feel shy about it now, right?”
“That man always treats us like a burden, and will only spout nonsense about being companions at a time like this!”
“I can’t tell if you’re a jerk or a lecherous pervert anymore!”
– I left the noisy bath and went back by myself.
“That… That’s so mean! I…! I didn’t do anything…! I only visited the bath!”
“Aqua-sama, how terrible… Um, please don’t cry anymore! When your tears touch my skin, it starts tingling. It hurts…”
After that, I met Aqua, who was weeping in Wiz’s arms.
“What is it now? Today’s a bad day, trouble keeps coming one after another!”
“What do you mean by bad day? What trouble? Why are you blaming everything on me?”
Aqua suddenly raised her head and snapped at me.
“Um… Aqua-sama went to the secret hot spring of the Axis Cult, and the hot spring there turned into normal warm water. After that…”
“They chased me out! But I’m a goddess! Why must I be chased out of the church worshiping me? That’s too horrible!”
By the way, this girl would purify water just by touching it.
“And…! The thing that made me angry was when I told the hot spring manager, ‘Sorry for turning the hot spring into warm water, but it can’t be helped since I’m the goddess Aqua herself!’, the manager… The manager, he… He laughed with a, ‘Pfft’!… I’m the goddess! That’s me!”
Aqua started wailing again as Wiz patted her head to console her.
I looked straight at Aqua.