Gifting the stay-at-home princess with bad friends!
Editors: Adam, Cannongerbil, Xenthur
“Demon King’s army raid alert! Demon King’s army raid alert! We detected a Demon King’s army group forming up in the plains nearby! Knight Corps, prepare to move out. Because of the massive scale of the attack, we’re appealing for the adventurers within the capital to join in the battle! All high-level adventurers, please gather in front of the castle immediately!”
The broadcast echoed through the capital at dawn.
At the same time, the quiet inn had started getting rowdy.
“Kazuma, you awake? Did you hear the broadcast just now? Get your gear ready!”
Along with Darkness’s frantic shouts, a knocking sound came from the door.
“I’m still sleeping.”
“Idiot, this isn’t the time for jokes! The Demon King’s army is here; we have to join in the fight too!”
I poked my head out of my blankets and answered the door that was getting slammed on.
“You’re the one who’s kidding me! Listen to what’s being broadcasted: ‘all high-level adventurers, please gather in front of the castle immediately’. I’m only level 17; I can’t even be considered a mid-level adventurer. And there are skilled adventurers like Mitsurugi gathered in the capital, right? Even without us, they can easily repel the Demon King’s army.”
“Why, why you! Forget it, I’ll join the fray with Aqua and Megumin! Low-level adventurers just need to hide in their beds and shiver!”
Darkness stopped rapping the door and walked away with loud angry steps.
“Not going! Why must I go to such a dangerous place? I came to the capital to play! And you want me to fight the Demon King’s army? Definitely not going!”
“Aqua, stop squirming around! This is a battle against the Demon King’s army, the more healers we have, the better! Just look at Megumin! See how pumped she is…!”
“Darkness, I won’t be going to the castle, I’ll go straight to the Demon King’s army! If things turn chaotic after the battle, I won’t be able to use my spell! The first shot’s mine! Or rather, just let me use my powered up magic to wipe out the Demon King’s army in one go!”
“Wait Megumin, don’t fool around! Aqua, stop playing, let go of the bed! Really Kazuma, I beg of you, please think of something!!”
How long were they going to be so noisy?
On top of that, I won’t be troubled by money woes once I return to Axel.
There was no benefit in risking my life in this battle…
I threw off the blanket and jumped up.
Even if I took part in this battle, the remuneration wasn’t attractive to me.
But what if I achieved great merit in the battle…?
That’s right, capturing the thief was a failure, but if I accomplish something prominent…!
Also, there were supposedly many adventurers with cheat-like powers such as Mitsurugi in the capital.
It’s unlikely that we’ll lose, so if I emphasized my presence during this battle and reach the status of the guardian of the royal capital, there might be a chance for me to stay in the castle.
There wasn’t a need to act like a dynasty warrior against the Demon King’s army.
I just needed to show off my efforts all over the battlefield.
“Don’t force me Darkness, I have a bad feeling about this! This is the instinct of a goddess! The same feeling as the ice cream you bought dropping onto the floor, or all the lottery tickets you collected from a shop not winning! An accident will surely happen! So I beg of you! I’ll give you one of my sausages from breakfast, so see you tomorrow!”
“Let me go Darkness! ‘When the kingdom’s soldiers reach the battlefield, they’ll only see the Demon King’s army that’s been utterly and mercilessly destroyed, as well as a mage leaving quietly…!’ I want to recreate this scene! This is my chance, let me go!”
“Kazuma! I can’t do this alone, do something about these two!”
I opened the door fully armed and said to the noisy trio:
“What are you lot doing, a crisis is upon us. Off we go! Now’s our turn to take the field!”
– When we reached the castle, a fully armed knight corps had already gathered and was standing in organized formations. There was also a large group of adventurers present.
“Adventurers, gather this way! There are no specific instructions for everyone! As you haven’t received training in military group maneuvers, you’ll be acting separately from the knight corps, so just fight freely! I’ll inspect everyone’s adventurer’s card before the battle. We’ll provide additional rewards based on the number of monsters you subjugate after the battle, so please do your best!”
It was probably one of the staff members from the guild in the capital that gave the instructions through a loudhailer type magic item.
We mustered at the designated area and a staff member requested for us to show our adventurer’s card.
After inspecting my card, the staff frowned a little uneasily and said with an apologetic face:
“Satou Kazuma-san, right? I’m sorry, but it’s too dangerous to take part if you don’t have a top-tier job and are below level 30, so we can’t accept your participation. Please return and defend the city…”
“It’s fine. That man’s a veteran adventurer who’s achieved plenty of merits.”
The one who interrupted the staff was Claire, who had made her way to us before I noticed.
Claire and a group of nobles probably came here to raise the morale of the knights and adventurers mustered before the castle.
And the nobles were looking at me with expectant eyes.
Despite the failure in apprehending the chivalrous thief, they were still looking forward in observing our prowess that defeated multiple Generals of the Demon King’s army.
At this moment, I saw a figure looking down at us from the balcony in the castle.
On a closer look, it was Iris, who was looking straight at me with eyes filled with expectation.
Without a doubt, this will spur my fighting spirit.
Leave it to me, onii-sama will work hard!
… At this moment, someone tugged on my sleeve.
“Kazuma-san, Kazuma-san. I’m very smart and have the ability to learn. I’ll definitely get into trouble if I take part. For example, a kid whose head was caught in the door when she was young might drag me into her explosion spell. Or someone whose brain’s squashed by muscles might attract monsters and pull me into danger. Say, it’s not too late, why don’t we return to Axel?”
“Not just Aqua, I have the ability to learn too. That kind of thing won’t happen!”
“Hey Aqua, can you not call me a muscle head? It feels as if the impression of me being the dumbest has been fixed…”
I faced the uneasy Aqua and showed a fearless smile.
“What, the opponents are just mobs that have numbers. It’s about time for me to strut my stuff!”
After I made my determined announcement, the faces of the nobles around me filled with expectation.
Claire then faced the knights in neat formation and the gathered adventurers and commanded loudly.
“– Demon King’s army subjugation group, move out!”
“… Hello. It’s been a while, Eris-sama.”
I was standing in the middle of a familiar shrine.
Just how many times have I died so far?
Killed by the Winter Shogun, snapped my neck falling down from a tree.
“Sorry, I didn’t think that I’d be killed by kobolds at this level…”
I was mobbed and clobbered to death by kobolds.
That’s right, those kind of kobolds.
Monsters that you grind to gain levels, and a synonym for mob monsters in this world– I was surrounded and bashed to death by them.
I looked at Eris who was silent before me.
“Let me explain, Eris-sama. Things were going well until the middle part. After receiving buffs from Aqua, I followed behind Darkness. The powerful monsters had been taken by the other adventurers, but I felt that I could kill more monsters than that bunch…”
That’s right, things were going well in the beginning.
I kept drawing my bow as I hid behind Darkness and kept accumulating kills.
It turned into a free for all battle shortly later. In order to save the wailing Aqua who had been bitten by the kobolds–
“‘The likes of kobolds are nothing’, ‘I’ve grown stronger too’ – With such thoughts in mind, I charged forth to build on my victory…”
As I chased the weaker kobolds all over the place because of my arrogance, I was deep inside enemy grounds before I realized it and was surrounded and mobbed by a huge group of kobolds.
Oh no, it’d be so embarrassing if I revive now.
I even made a declaration of victory before the fight, and now I got clobbered to death by kobolds. I really felt like digging a hole and sticking my head inside.
Eris didn’t speak all this while; she definitely had no words for me.
“Um, Eris-sama? I’ll reflect on dying so carelessly, so can you please soothe your anger?”
I asked timidly and Eris replied with a blushed face:
“… Sexual harassment is bad.”
She glared at me.
Cold sweat ran down my back.
Speaking of which, Eris could see what was happening in the mortal world.
I groped that thief girl so eagerly not too long ago, and she happened to be a devoted Eris believer.
Eris was probably angry about her important devotees being bullied.
“No, let me explain Eris-sama, it couldn’t be helped. When I first grabbed her I thought she was a boy because her chest was too thin… No, I’m really sorry, please forgive me, I won’t find any more excuses!”
Seeing Eris’s mood becoming worse, I got down on my knees and lowered my head in apology.
“… Really, your sexual harassment is really too much. I’ll only forgive you this one time, okay?”
Eris sighed and scratched her cheeks troublingly.
“Thank you for your magnanimity, Eris-sama! I was just thinking what I should do if the important orthodox main heroine Eris-sama was to detest me.”
“You’re saying such things again… Aren’t you overjoyed because of your new sister?”
Just how much did you spy, Eris-sama?
While I was dumbfounded, Eris chuckled.
“I’ll stop my teasing here. Also, I’ve a request for you.”
“… Request for me?”
“The devotee who was sexually harassed by you last night already told you part of it, right? The divine relics Aqua-senpai gave to the reincarnated people are circulating in the world.”
“Oh right, there’s that too. By the way, if I remember correctly, the divine relics will choose their owner, right? I thought I could use that cheat-like magic sword when I took it, but I learned that it’d just be a normal sword in the hands of others.”
That’s right, I thought I could use it when I stole that magic sword from Mitsurugi, but was informed of that instead.
“This explanation is correct… The divine relic will only display its full power in the hands of the one who’d been bestowed with it. A powerful magic sword that can cut through anything will become a normal sword. A staff that can draw forth endless mana will become a normal staff that increases mana regeneration. Other such divine relics wouldn’t give much problem if they were misused…”
According to Eris, the two divine relics that were lost would affect the world greatly, even if their original powers couldn’t be used.
Firstly, the divine relic that can summon and command monsters without needing to pay the price. It’ll become a magic item that’ll require paying a price after summoning monsters.
The other was a divine relic that can exchange bodies with another person. The effect changed from being permanent to temporary.
A keyword needed to be said in order to use either of the divine relics, so they can’t be misused so easily even if they were lost in the world.
But there was still a one in a million chance.
If someone uttered the keyword and summoned a monster inside a city, it’d be terrible.
If someone walking the dog switched bodies with his pet coincidently, a new type of kobold would come into existence.
“Hand the retrieved divine relics to Aqua-senpai to seal. There are no rewards or fame for this job. And you can’t bring up the divine relics to people you don’t trust. Since it’s possible for people other than the reincarnated to use a toned down power of the divine relics, there might be people who might go after the lives of all the reincarnated.”
Eris held my hands seriously.
“Will you heed my request to retrieve the divine relics?”
– When I opened my eyes, I found Aqua looking at me with all smiles.
“Kazuma-san who died to the kobolds, welcome back!”
I really felt like beating her up!
“Is that the first thing you say to someone who just revived? Learn how to act like a goddess from Eris-sama!”
After lecturing Aqua, I looked around me. The battle was over.
“… Hey, this might sound conceited to the person who resuscitated me, but couldn’t you’ve done this earlier, when there was still a chance for me to redeem my honor?”
“Why should I revive someone who died to kobolds? If you died again shortly after, it’d be a hassle.”
I croaked that easily just now, so I couldn’t say anything to her.
“… Hey, I’ve one more thing to ask. Is that alcohol I smell on you? Did you take a swig of wine in the middle of battle?”
“Of course not. The wine was given to me by everyone after my exemplary performance in battle. While Kazuma was lying down as a corpse, everyone acted amazingly. I wish I could show you how big a contribution my Turn Undead and healing spells were!
… I see.
That was why everyone around here was looking at her with gazes so full of respect and admiration.
“Last question… Why’s there something heavy tied on to me?”
“Well, Darkness said it’d be troublesome if Kazuma’s corpse gets damaged in the battle, so she asked me to throw you in a corner so you wouldn’t get in the way. But after Kazuma was dumped in a corner, there was a monster that attempted to drag you away…”
“Enough, I don’t want to hear the rest! I get it, you didn’t want me to be dragged off, that’s why you tied me down with something heavy! Thank you for your kindness! I’ve been thinking about this all this while; you guys really have no respect for the dead!”
After getting a grip on the situation, I checked my surroundings again.
The scale of the Demon King’s army attack this time was rather large.
Even though a rookie like me couldn’t grasp the numbers accurately, the subjugated monsters were easily over a thousand.
Despite that, there was no one with obvious injury, or any death.
“Aqua-san, thank you for your hard work in resuscitation. Here, this way please!”
“As expected of an Archpriest, what splendid technique! You’ve even mastered resurrection…!”
“Thanks to you, there are no casualties around here! Aqua-san, thank you very much!”
After Aqua revived me, several knights came to thank her.
I see, Aqua healed the injuries of all the wounded.
Her performance was unlike her usual wacky behaviour and speech.
“Kazuma, you’ve revived! Are you fine? Does it hurt anywhere?”
Darkness, whose face and armor showed signs of being charred, came over with several knights in tow.
Judging from her tattered armor, she fought really hard.
“Lady Dustiness! That was a wondrous performance!”
“That’s right, it was simply marvelous! Oh, the way Lady Dustiness took the spell with such a carefree expression, and the way she charged into the middle of the Demon King’s Army was astonishing!”
“I won’t forget the face of the Demon King commander when he saw the way you fought any time soon!”
“Thanks to Lady Dustiness drawing all the enemy’s attention, there weren’t any heavy injuries. You were a big help!”
The knights looking at Darkness with admiration kept on praising her.
I see. In such a large scale battle, Darkness’s aggro drawing capabilities must’ve been incredibly effective.
Darkness’s attacks might be terrible, but her defense was the best in Axel.
I felt a bit vexed for missing the rare chance of seeing her putting on a show.
Speaking of which, where was Megumin?
… As I was searching for her, I found Megumin, being carried like a fragile item on a stretcher, approaching.
The knights leading the way for the stretcher chased off the crowd of adventurers who were peering curiously.
“Hey, the MVP of the battle’s coming through, make way!”
“Great work, Megumin-san. Make way, do you want to be blown away by an explosion spell?”
“The top mage in Axel who returned everything to dust, Megumin-san’s coming through! Make way!”
… What the hell?
Looking carefully, I could see a giant crater somewhere in the distance.
“When the battle became chaotic, Megumin was frustrated because she couldn’t use her spell. But the Demon King’s army started to withdraw when things were going badly for them. In the end, the enemy commander said: ‘This is just a prelude battle. One day, I’ll bring an army several times this size and grind the capital into dust!’ After that, when he was attempting to escape…”
Aqua looked at Megumin as she explained.
“Oh–that felt great, Megumin-san!”
“That’s right! That commander had been getting on my nerves for a long time! That bastard always drops that type of speech and runs whenever things get dangerous.”
“But this is wonderful! Casting the magic into the center of the retreating Demon King’s army and saying ‘I’m Megumin! The number one Archmage of Axel, user of explosion magic…! You’re the one who’ll return to dust…!’ Megumin-san was so cool!”
“That’s right, this is the best! To think that you can cast such a powerful spell by exhausting all your mana!”
Megumin was carried over as if she was on a pedestal, and she seemed to be enjoying this treatment.
“Isn’t that right! However, there’s no way a small fry like that can stand before my ultimate technique. After all, I’m the one who sent the Demon King’s Generals into the other world and even pulverized the legendary bounty target, the Mobile Fortress Destroyer!!”
Megumin got even cockier now that she was carried on a stretcher.
“So it’s true you took down the Destroyer?”
“What a great Archmage! Megumin-san, can you show me some magic other than Explosion?”
“Oh, allow me to witness it too! I wish to learn the destructive power hidden behind Megumin-san’s advanced magic!”
“… Well, I do want to show it to you, but I’ve already exhausted my mana. Such a shame…”
“Of course. It’s fine if you do so tomorrow too, Megumin-san!”
“Ara, I can’t wait for tomorrow morning!”
“I’ll tell the others too!”
“… W-Well, um, I might be busy tomorrow… Ah, Kazuma! Great, you’ve revived! It must be difficult for you after just reviving, so let me look after Kazuma tomorrow…!”
… Megumin got into trouble because she let her cockiness get to her head, but it looked funny, so I let her be.
“The knights and adventurers have returned victoriously–!”
Someone shouted and the capital erupted in cheers.
We were greeted by the exuberant crowd in the city when we returned to bring news of our triumph.
Some lowered their head in gratitude, while others raised their arms in glee.
Seeing this scene, the knights and adventurers entered the castle proudly with their heads held high.
After entering, I could see Iris and Claire leading a group of happy nobles waiting for us.
Claire was wearing white as usual and walked in front of us.
“Dear knights and adventurers! Thank you for your hard work! The capital’s safe thanks to your exemplary performance! Her Highness Iris expresses her sincere gratitude on behalf of the kingdom… Look forward to your bounty payment!”
The adventurers cheered excitedly when they heard that.
“Also! To reward everyone for their efforts, we’re preparing a banquet. Everyone must be tired after the battle. Please rest until evening before coming back to the castle. We’ll then present a special reward for those with outstanding performance! That’s all, thank you everyone!”
The cheers reached its crescendo, and the adventurers started getting excited. They acknowledged the cheers happily as they talked about how to kill time until evening and left.
“Lady Dustiness, pray tell us about the details of the battle inside the castle…”
“I heard about your exploits in this battle…!”
“Right, I wish to learn about Lady Dustiness’s glamourous fight too!”
Darkness was surrounded by nobles and was brought to the castle in a blink of an eye.
She looked toward me for help as she was being taken away, but as the man who was killed by kobolds, I didn’t want to attract too much attention.
“Hey Kazuma. Before the party begins, I’m going to preach to the people I healed and invite them to join the Axis Cult. I healed them after all; they should show me their gratitude.”
“They’ll thank you properly even if you don’t bring it up. You’re always doing such things, that’s why your devotees don’t increase.”
Aqua ignored my advice and walked toward the knights.
After watching her go, a voice came from behind me.
“Ah, just put me down here. I’ll let my comrade carry me.”
The knights who carried her all the way here in a grand formation gently lowered the stretcher on Megumin’s request.
After being lowered, Megumin gestured at me to come over.
I didn’t recall being her designated piggy backer.
“Didn’t you say you’ll take care of me who’d just revived?”
“I’ll do that tomorrow, please spare me for today. Kazuma, we’ll be returning to Axel tomorrow, right? Let’s leave first thing in the morning.”
After being carried on my back, Megumin said as she wrapped her arms around my neck as usual.
At this moment, Iris ran to us with an innocent smile.
“It’s great that you’re safe, onii-sama! Welcome back!”
“Oh, it’s Iris. No, I’m not completely fine. I died and was revived.”
Iris stopped in her track in shock.
“You died once? Onii-sama, are you all right? Come rest in the castle until the banquet begins, your room still in the exact same state!”
“She said ‘onii-sama’ again!!”
“Thank you. But you don’t need to worry so much, the resuscitation was done perfectly.”
Megumin, who was on my back, was really noisy all this while.
Why was she so excited about the phrase ‘onii-sama’?
“That’s a relief… But onii-sama, did you achieve a great enough merit for you to stay in the castle?”
Iris’s expression turned from gloomy to bright in an instant as she asked expectantly.
“No, that… Well, I’ll fail sometimes too, right? My condition wasn’t good, so I didn’t accomplish much…”
“Is that so… But it’s enough that you came back safely! And even if you didn’t achieve any merits, it’s still a fact that you fought for the capital. I’ll plead with Claire once more, and maybe onii-sama can stay in the castle!”
“Thank you, Iris. However, my death was really embarrassing, so it probably won’t work… Anyway, I’ll see you tonight.”
Iris looked really lonely after hearing what I said.
“… I let you out of my sight for just awhile, and that Iris kid became really close to you, huh?”
Megumin commented after Iris and Claire returned to the castle.
“Right? I finally have the sister I wanted so much. Maybe I do like girls younger than me.”
“… After we go back to Axel, I’ll call you onii-sama then.”
“You’re an important loli character, all right? I’d prefer to have someone else as a younger sister instead.”
“Hey, it’s about time you stop treating me as a loli character!”
Together with Megumin, who was strangling me nimbly while on my back, we returned to my old room.
After returning to the place I used to stay in, I put Megumin down on the couch as she looked around the place.
“Hmm, this place isn’t bad. Living a casual life under the care of the maids and butlers, huh? I understand why you don’t want to go back.”
“I know, right? The food’s nice and the servants attend to your every needs. If you stayed here, you wouldn’t want to go back either, Megumin… Ah–in the end, I didn’t accomplish much, so I have to return tomorrow…”
I took off my gear as I said that and sat on the bed.
As I swung my legs, Megumin, who had yet to recover much of her mana, replied lazily:
“… I think this is great too. Showing my prowess in the capital’s fun… However, I like the times when we complete quests together and bicker rowdily in Axel the most. From tomorrow onward, the four of us can live together again.”
She said with a genuine, sincere smile…
“Yeah, you’re right. I’m not that serious about wanting to live in the castle!”
My emotions were running high because of Megumin’s reaction for some reason. To conceal it, I kept swinging my legs.
“Really? You might be saying that now, but didn’t you really enjoy your time together with that child Iris?”
Megumin asked me teasingly, amusing herself with my reactions.
How should I put this, in the end, I only thought of her as a sister…?
That’s right, I just couldn’t leave her alone when I see that kid.
She was another type of loner that was different from Yunyun…
At this moment.
“Onii-sama, sorry for disturbing you…”
We were just talking about Iris and here she was, calling out to me.
“– I’m very sorry, onii-sama can’t stay in the castle. Even though I tried to convince Claire in all sorts of ways…”
Iris said, sitting beside me with a depressed face.
“It can’t be helped. Or rather, it’s my fault for not doing enough.”
“Onii-sama, you don’t need to apologize. You literally put your life on the line to fight…”
Iris then looked at me with tears in her eyes.
Looking at her serious expression, I couldn’t bring myself to tell her the fact that I was clobbered to death by a mob of kobolds because I got too arrogant and wandered too far into enemy territory. I simply looked quietly at Iris.
And so, the two of us stared at each other in silence.
“… Did the two of you forget that I’m here?”
“No! I-I didn’t forget!”
“Iris’s right; I didn’t forget about Megumin! I’m not a lolicon, don’t look at me with such suspicious eyes! Iris is just like my sister, there’s nothing strange about this atmosphere! …W-What, Iris, don’t look at me with such sad eyes! That would just cause more misunderstandings, even I might misunderstand too!!”
Megumin ignored my suspicious actions and seemed to realize something.
“… Hmm? As expected of Your Highness, you have a powerful magic item on you. The level of the enchantment is worlds apart from others. Is that necklace a divine-level magic item? It doesn’t seem to be a product of the Crimson Demon village, so just where did it come from?”
Her interest was piqued by the necklace on Iris.
On Iris’s chest was a necklace with a simple design that had a different style from the other accessories she was wearing.
“You mean this? I think this was a necklace that was given as a tribute to my real onii-sama… As the representative of the royal family, I’m just holding on to it for onii-sama while he is out on an expedition.”
Megumin leaned forward with sparkling eyes as she studied the necklace.
“So, what powers does this magic item have? With its extraordinary magic power, its effects must be spectacular! It might be a magic item strong enough to destroy the world!”
Your fetish was obvious to see.
“Well, the truth is… The way to use this magic item isn’t known yet. It’s said that the powers of the magic item can be activated by chanting the keyword… Word-like engravings can be seen on it, but the scholars in the castle couldn’t decipher it despite their research…”
Iris showed the reverse side of the necklace to us.
Something was carved on it…
“Hmm? Isn’t that Japanese? ‘Your things are mine, my things are yours. I’ll turn into you!’… Who made this kind of keyword, are you kidding me?”
Such a sloppy keyword…
The one who handed the divine relic to the Japanese was the prime suspect.
“Hmm? W-Wait, Kazuma, the princess’s necklace is shining?”
“O-Onii-sama? Could it be, the magic item’s activating…?”
“Eh? W-Wait, throw it out! Iris, throw it out the window right now!!”
As Iris and I frantically tore the necklace off, the gem in the middle of the necklace shot out a beam of light…!
“… Hmm? Nothing happened.”
After listening to what Megumin said, I opened my tightly shut eyes.
And I was right before me.
With my hands still stretched out, I was staring at myself with a stunned expression.
“How long are you two going to stare at each other? Just now too, don’t keep forgetting about my existence.”
Megumin sighed without hesitation despite this strange event…
“No, that’s not it, Megumin, something incredible just happened!”
“W-What, addressing me directly by name is really callous of you, Your Highness. I’m an older sister, if you want to call Kazuma onii-sama, then address me as ‘Megumin-nee’ or ‘Onee-sama’… And it’s better for you to not talk in such a tone, all right? That Claire woman said that you received a bad influence after getting involved with Kazuma. I think it’s too late to save you.”
Megumin looked at me with regretful eyes…
The me who was standing before my eyes raised his hand timidly.
“U-Um… I’m Iris…”
Everyone turned silent.
“… I-I-I turned into Iris? What’s going on? Ahhh! For real? A dress! I’m wearing a flimsy dress! What’s this, the fresh feeling of wearing women’s clothing right after opening my eyes!”
“Onii-sama? Onii-sama’s inside my body? Onii-sama, don’t do something so crude with my body!”
“But, hold on, this is bad in a variety of meanings, Iris! The dress is bad; I can’t relax with my lower half like this! Girls are really amazing to walk so confidently in public in such a defenseless state!”
As I was flipping my skirt around, me, no, Iris who was in my body, grabbed onto me in tears.
“Onii-sama, don’t do that anymore! You can’t, stop!”
“You’re the one who should stop! I’ve a rough idea what happened, but the scene of you hugging that body who’s flipping the skirt around is too impactful!”
Someone suddenly knocked on the door.
“Iris-sama? I heard you scream just now, what did they do to you?”
Claire’s voice could be heard.
She seemed to be standing by outside the room as Iris’s escort.
In order to stop her from opening the door, I blocked it from the inside.
“C-Claire, it’s nothing! I just got a little excited when I was chatting with onii-sama!”
“Is, is that so? That’s fine, but don’t chat too long with that man, or you’ll learn bad things from him.”
“I-I’m fine, please carry on your sentry duties!”
After saying that, I slid down to the floor slowly with my back to the door as my heart was filled with the strange new experience of being forced to wear a dress and speak in a female tone.
– The three of us sat in a circle in the middle of the room, reviewing what just happened.
“What should we do next? Personally, I don’t mind living as a pretty young girl from now on, but it’s hard to give up the body that’s been with me since birth. How can we undo this?”
“You just said something incredible just now. By the way, does anything feel unnatural to you, Iris? Any pain or discomfort?”
“I have no problems. As for my personal opinion, um… A man’s body’s tall and strong. I feel like going out on an adventure right now.”
“I’m sorry princess, but I hope you don’t speak in such a tone with that body…”
Megumin seemed to be on the verge of tears as she looked at Iris.
“But what a failure. Even when we tried that keyword again, the necklace glowed, but the swapping didn’t occur…”
We tried using the power of the necklace again, but the swapping didn’t work.
“There might be a keyword to undo the swap. But this is an amazing item since it can swap people’s bodies. I’ve never heard of such a powerful magic item before.”
Megumin’s words made Iris depressed.
“What should we do…? We can’t go back to normal like this, right? I’ll have to live on as an adventurer… Get chased out of the castle and be a free adventurer… Find reliable comrades and defeat the monsters blocking my way one after another, and travel to cities I’ve never been to before…! Onii-sama, what should I do? I don’t really hate such a life! Even if my body stays like this forever!”
“Calm down Your Highness! You just said something really stupid!”
Iris’s expression kept changing, her depressed look turned into a bright face. But we couldn’t go on like this.
If the source of the magic item’s power originates from a curse, Aqua should be able to do something about it…
… Speaking of Aqua, I remembered.
That’s right, this body swapping magic item was the one given to a Japanese by Aqua…!
“It’ll be fine; I know what this magic item actually is! This is a divine relic. If someone other than the one it was bestowed upon uses it, the body swap should be temporary. I don’t know how long it’ll take, but we definitely won’t stay this way forever.”
Megumin sighed in relief after hearing what I said.
Iris had a complicated expression for some reason.
“… Which means, we’ll return to normal if we just wait it out. It’ll be great if we recover before the victory party tonight…”
I walked to the bed and was about to sleep until it was time for the party.
“O-Onii-sama! Um… I’ve a request!”
Iris sat on her knees in front of the bed with a serious face.
When she sits like that with my body, it feels as though I’m being lectured; I really wish she didn’t do that.
“W-What? … Ha, Iris is about that age too. You’re curious about a boy’s body, right? Hey, toying with my body’s no good.”
“T-That’s not it! Onii-sama, I should be telling you not to be mischievous with my body! …W-Well… Even if it’s just once, I hope to take a look outside the castle without bringing my vassals along…”
Iris peeked at my face uncomfortably, like a child afraid of being scolded by a parent.
As she was always followed by a vassal, she’d never properly toured the city she was born and raised in.
Even if she wanted to sightsee, she couldn’t visit the shops as she liked with a group of guards in tow.
But, she could stroll around outside with my body.
… However, would the unworldly Iris be fine alone?
I didn’t know how to answer, and Megumin who’d been keeping quiet sighed.
“You two are really a handful. Kazuma can’t accompany you like this, so I’ll follow you. It’s fine, I won’t ask for much like your vassals. Even if you dislike someone’s face and pick a fight, I’ll just watch from the sides.”
“You should stop her then, why else would you be accompanying her?”
Iris stood up happily.
“Let’s go together then, onee-sama!”
“Ah, well… I did ask you to address me as onee-sama just now, but please just call me Megumin…”
… Was it really fine for her to be an escort?
“Megumin-san, please take care of me!”
“Leave it to me. From bargaining prices to handling people looking for trouble, I’ll teach you everything.”
Would they really be fine?
After sending Iris and Megumin off, I strolled inside the castle with Claire in tow.
Since both of them had left, it wasn’t appropriate for the princess to stay inside my room alone.
I was planning to kill time causally before Iris and Megumin returned from their trip.
Everyone lowered their head and bowed to me during my stroll.
I nodded in an exaggerated way in response.
Oh no, this felt really pleasant; I might get addicted to this.
“… Your Highness, what happened in that man’s room just now? The air about you seemed different… Did he teach you something bad?”
Claire who was walking behind me was saying something rude again.
“Claire, that isn’t a nice thing to say about Kazuma-san. He’s a great person; he might even leave his name in the kingdom’s history books.”
“Princess Iris, tell me, what did he say to you? As I suspected, it’d be better to finish that man off…”
I really wish she wouldn’t think of such a dangerous thing right behind the person in question.
I could see the figures of adventurers everywhere I walked.
They were probably just killing time before the victory feast tonight.
Looking carefully, the people standing there were those who had exemplary performance.
Most of them had black hair and eyes, probably Japanese just like me.
I thought about chatting with my fellow countrymen, but it wasn’t convenient because of my current body.
“Hmm, isn’t this Princess Iris and Lady Claire?”
At this moment, a familiar adventurer greeted me.
Claire replied happily when she saw this adventurer.
“Mitsurugi-dono, your performance was wonderful this time too! My apologies for letting you take on the dangerous role of vanguard again.”
The one talking to me was the adventurer Mitsurugi.
Mitsurugi showed us the refreshing smile of a cool guy.
“Not at all, this is nothing. I think of protecting Your Highness Iris who watches over the citizens of the kingdom as my duty.”
He gently patted my head as he said that.
“Claire, sentence this insolent man who touched my head to death.”
“Princess Iris, you’ve been acting strangely since just now. What happened?”
He probably won over all kinds of girls unknowingly by patting their head and chatting them up with a smile.
I chased the natural airhead Mitsurugi away and continued exploring the castle.
There was a reason why I was wandering around the castle.
“Say Claire, where’s Lalatina? I want to tease… No, I want to compliment her for her efforts in this battle.”
“Lady Dustiness suffered flame attacks during the battle and is covered in soot all over. She’s bathing right now…”
“Claire, lead the way! I’m going in right now to wash her back!”
“Your Highness? What’s the matter? For a royalty to wash the back of a vassal, even if it’s Lady Dustiness…”
“As thanks for all the hard work you’ve done, I’ll wash your back too, Claire. Do you dislike it?”
“Not at all, Princess Iris! Let’s go, come, hurry!”
Claire usually displayed exceptional loyalty toward Iris, but her expression seemed a bit dangerous as she walked briskly in front of me, almost as if she was in a trance.
When we reached the bath inside the castle, we entered the changing room and ran right into Darkness who’d just finished bathing.
Regrettably, she’d already dressed herself.
“Greetings Princess Iris, are you cleansing your body before the banquet?”
Darkness said with a smile as she dried her hair with a towel.
“No, I just wanted to wash the back of Lalatina who performed wonderfully during the battle… But it seems that I came too late. Such a pity…”
I lowered my head, depressed, and Darkness became frantic.
“N-Not really! I couldn’t waste Your Highness’ goodwill! There’s still plenty of time, I’ll enter the bath again!”
She started taking her clothes off in a hurry.
“Dark…! L-Lalatina, wait, if you take off your clothes without any shame or hesitation, I, I haven’t braced myself mentally…!”
“P-Princess Iris, what’s the matter? Your cheeks are turning red…”
Darkness, who was stripping, looked at me with a concerned expression.
Her face is too close; her underwear is… No, she wasn’t wearing a bra!
Ah, right, she would be wearing a dress for the feast, so her strap will show if she wore a bra!
As I was staring at Darkness, Claire, who’d changed and wrapped herself in a towel, was watching me with a worried expression…
“Your Highness, are you feeling all right? You’ve been acting strangely since just now…”
She said as she placed her cool hands onto my cheeks…!
… I understood exactly why the Japanese who reincarnated before me wanted this divine relic.
Iris will know from the scent of the soap that I’ve bathed after reverting back, but I didn’t care about it right now.
A great man in Japan once said:
“Worry about tomorrow’s problem, tomorrow.”
Goddess of fortune, Eris. I express my deep gratitude for possessing such great luck…
As I offered my prayer between these two half naked beauties and was about to take my own clothes off…
My consciousness suddenly flew away–
“– How dare you speak to the boss like this! You must be prepared to die, huh?”
“You, you bastard! How dare you bad mouth the boss that far! Look, the boss turned dumb because of your words!”
“D-Don’t be stupid, I didn’t turn dumb! I’m just a bit shocked after being scolded so badly for the first time in my life!”
Before me were three angry men.
… Eris-sama, changing channels when I was about to strip, that’s too cruel.
“Yes, that’s the way, well said! Next is the winning line! ‘… Enough talk. I’m not that free either. I’ll turn all of you into my experience points…!’ You’ll make the grade after saying that, all that’s left would be to beat all of them up!”
Megumin, who was on my back, said. She seemed out of breath.
… Hold it, what was with this situation.
I know that I’ve returned to my original body, but what were Iris and Megumin doing? This looked like a prelude to a fight!
“Don’t look down on us! Let’s get it on!”
What did they say to the guy called ‘boss’ before me? He swung his fist at me with tears in his eyes.
“Uwah? You, you guys! Can’t you see that I’ve someone on my back, you despicable scoundrels? If you want to fight, let me put her down first!”
“Despicable scoundrels? Hey, aren’t you the one who said ‘I don’t need to go all out against trash like you. I’ll give you a handicap, so you three come at me together’!”
“Just how much do you want to insult our boss? What did he ever do to you?”
“It’s fine, let’s just beat them up! Calling us delinquents out of the blue, let’s make them suffer!
After taking a hit, my response agitated them further.
“Kazuma, are you back to normal? Hurry, transfer your mana to me via Drain Touch, then I can fight as well!”
“You’re the one who stirred up this trouble! Settle it yourself!”
I nursed my face that was hit as I transferred mana to Megumin with tears in my eyes–!
“They’re just a bunch of delinquents, powerless before my overwhelming strength.”
“Your job’s not the physical attack type, but you’re still a high level adventurer. Why’d you get so serious in beating up normal people?”
We defeated the trio, but left for the castle as the number of onlookers increased.
“I wanted the princess to have a go at it, but you reverted back just when the mood was great. Such a pity.”
“Hey, what if Iris gets into trouble? Don’t involve the fragile princess in a fight.”
My words surprised Megumin.
“What are you talking about? Royalty are really powerful, all right? Because of their bloodline, the royals have great talents, and receive an elite education from childhood to protect themselves. That princess is stronger than Kazuma, okay? She’ll easily win even if she fought in Kazuma’s body.”
That was exaggerating too much.
“By the way, how did the quarrel start? What did those guys do to you two?”
“Actually, after shopping around all sorts of stores with the princess, they appeared out of a desolated alley.”
I see, and then they started harassing Megumin…
“Normally, if they saw a girl like me, shouldn’t they say: ‘Hey, your girl looks pretty good. We’ll give her a good time, so you can scram now’ and start harassing me, right? But they only took a glance at me without saying anything. Seeing how gutless they were, I scolded them fiercely.”
“You’re the delinquent! Don’t drag innocent pedestrians into this!”
W-What should I do, I should apologize…
“Forget it, I might’ve been the one who taunted them, but they’re the ones who hit you first. It’ll be fine, we’ll win even if it gets taken to court. The ones who got physical after a little squabble are the ones in the wrong.”
“That’s not for someone who loses her temper with just a little provocation to say! Ah, really… I’ll apologize if I ever run into them again…”
While I was troubling over that, we finally reached the castle gates.
“Never mind; some things happened, but Her Highness had fun. It was her first time eating from a roadside stall, and she really enjoyed herself.”
“Really… That’s fine… I guess? I hope they won’t say I was a bad influence again…”
“… Kazuma spoils her too much. Not only her young age, but many aspects of her character overlap with mine too. It makes me strangely uneasy.”
“A-are you still insisting that your character overlaps with that beautiful, gentle, and elegant girl?”
I entered the castle gates while discussing that with Megumin.
Darkness and Claire, obviously fuming, were standing there like statues, waiting for us.
As I was shrinking in a corner of the banquet, trying to avoid attention, Aqua came to me while carefully cradling a high class wine.
“Hey Kazuma, why are you so stupid? You always treat me like a fool, now’s my chance to use that against you. Hey Kazuma-san, you’re a really big idiot, huh?”
I couldn’t say anything to refute the idiot who was cradling the bottle like a treasure.
“No, I didn’t have such intentions in the beginning. But, how should I put this… All sorts of people bowed their heads at me while I was strolling in the castle and I felt that I would be forgiven even if I did something…!”
“So you really are an idiot, huh? If I search the term ‘idiot’ on a computer, Kazuma’s name would be the first result, right?”
I thought about snatching away her bottle and making her cry, but I couldn’t say anything right now.
The moment I returned to my body, Iris also reverted back to her body in the changing room.
After seeing Iris suddenly turn frantic, they found out about the situation after asking her…
“Even Iris got so furious… Damn it, onii-sama can’t live anymore…”
“… Really, just squat in this corner today, be a good boy, and don’t attract any attention. I’ll get you some delicious food later.”
Aqua, who was gentler than usual, healed my fragile soul.
No matter what, she was still a goddess, and was reliable when I was really suffering…
After Megumin found out what I was doing before returning to my body, she turned silent just like Darkness.
“As expected of the one who’s been with me the longest. I really hope the others can learn from Aqua’s leniency. I’ve been wondering since just now, what’s that wine you’re cradling? When we went to search in the city yesterday, we didn’t find any good wine, right? Did you buy something else?”
“Oh this, didn’t the people in the city say they were giving out special rewards for outstanding performances? They asked me what I wanted and since everyone was busy, I asked for this wine on behalf of our team.”
This girl decided on our reward on her own.
I’d worry about Aqua dropping it if she held on to it.
I was thinking of safekeeping it for her before we returned to the mansion and stretched out my hand.
“It can’t be helped, wait until we go back to Axel, we all can…”
I was about to say ‘drink it together’ when Aqua smacked my hand away.
“… What are you trying to do? You’ll break it or lose it somewhere anyway, it’d be a waste of the high class wine. It’d be fine if you bought the wine yourself, but this wine’s a reward for everyone’s exceptional performance. Here, I’ll hold on to it for you.”
“Don’t wanna. I got this wine myself, and I won’t give it to anyone, all right? After all, the one who gave it to me said, ‘Everyone performed well, but Aqua-sama’s work was exemplary!’. It’s all because of me that no one died in battle, which made him happy. Getting such a reward should be a matter of course for me.”
“Hey, this is the fruit of everyone’s labor! It looks really exquisite, let me… Ah, this girl!”
Aqua was afraid that her precious wine would be taken and ran away in a panic.
And I became alone again…
– With the exceptional adventurers at the core, there were many different groups around the place.
As for the nobles who didn’t mingle with the crowd, they were also chatting about the battle in high spirits.
“Ara, this battle was a piece of cake! With Lady Dustiness leading the way, her team fought on the front lines like ferocious lions, contributing greatly to the battle!”
“That’s right! Lady Dustiness who took all the enemies’ attack alone, as well as Aqua-dono who purified a large number of undead and could heal wounds in an instant, no matter how grievous they were. Last but not least, Megumin-dono who gave the retreating Demon King’s army the final blow! With just the three of them, they might even defeat the Demon King!”
“Indeed, the three of them would be able to fight on par even with the Demon King! I already heard that the three of them took down several Generals of the Demon King’s army. As expected of them…”
“We also have the pride of the kingdom, the magic sword hero Mitsurugi-dono! If he joins this trio, wouldn’t that be the strongest team that’ll surpass the Demon King…? He also has a lancer and an archer girl in his team. Wouldn’t that be a perfectly balanced team?”
Hey, did you ignore one person from the formation of that team?
Well, I understood it clearly too.
I didn’t achieve much and even died to kobolds.
And the gaze that fell on me…
“That’s the one…”
“Yes, that’s him. Lady Claire mentioned that he’s nothing but talk…”
“And his job is the weakest job, Adventurer, and his level is low.”
“Really, why did Lady Dustiness allow such a person to be her comrade…?”
“Maybe he’s a guy who’s good at currying favors. He even amused Princess Iris and tried to move into the castle to stay…”
How uncouth. But I couldn’t say anything because some of the things they said were true!
Unlike me, who was staying in a corner alone, my other team members were surrounded by nobles and adventurers and showered with praise.
Megumin seemed to be surrounded by mages.
People healed by Aqua congregated around her.
Mitsurugi was the handsome guy representative of the capital, skillfully greeting the various groups.
It felt like the ratio of girls was higher around him.
Taking a closer look, Megumin was getting arrogant after hearing compliments, and Aqua was still running around with her bottle, chasing those who came near her away.
She probably misunderstood and thought everyone was after her wine.
“That’s right, she’s a daughter of an aristocratic family, after all.”
The dress Darkness was wearing differed from the one she wore in the other banquet. Normal adventurers were attending this victory feast too, so she was sitting with some of the noble guests and chatting happily at the VIP table.
A group of knights was around them; it wasn’t easy to approach.
This scene made me realize the difference in our status, and it felt a little lonely.
– At this moment, Iris, who was also seated at the VIP table, locked eyes with me.
Iris was furious earlier, but her eyes seemed really lonely right now.
I’ll be going back tomorrow.
It was a relief that the last time I saw Iris, it wasn’t with anger on her face.
To be frank, I wished I could see her smile one last time…
“Oh, so you’re still in the castle, plebeian.”
Suddenly, someone talked to me who was by myself.
She wore her usual white suit even during this banquet.
It was Claire, glaring at me with a wine glass in hand.
I didn’t contribute to the battle this time, and with the body swapping incident to boot, her tone toward me was worlds apart from the first time we met.
Was she influenced negatively by me too?
“The guests of honor tonight, Lady Dustiness and the rest will stay in the castle tonight. You can go back already.”
“… No, I understand you’re angry. I also know that I was too arrogant. But this is already the last night, so just be nicer to me. Aren’t you a little happy to have bathed together with Iris?”
“D-Don’t spout nonsense, what are you saying? That I’m happy to bathe together with Her Highness… That… Forget it. I won’t pursue the matter.”
This woman definitely has other feelings beside loyalty for Iris.
Be it Darkness and her unique fetish and old man Alderp, why are all the nobles like that?
“Just like your attempt to capture the chivalrous thief, you didn’t show any results this time either… You’re really all talk. I did some investigation on the fights with the Generals of the Demon King’s army; the ones who dealt the final blows were Lady Dustiness and that mage, right?”
She said something sarcastic again.
“My job’s to provide support for them. By the way, they have flaws too, all right?”
“I already know about their flaws. However, it won’t be a problem if the kingdom provides support. They’ll be invited to join Mitsurugi-dono’s party later. That way, we can realize the grand dream of taking down the Demon King, right? Don’t you already have loads of money? Why not leave the team and live merrily in that town of yours?”
What was this woman talking about?
“I agree with you on the living merrily part, but why are you forcing me to leave the team? A group of ruffians said the same thing to me, but came back running in tears after teaming up with them. Can you support them properly?”
“Like the battle this time, just support them with a group. With their exceptional skill, their strengths can only be brought out in a large scale battle. Do you have any skills like they do? … Think about it. In the end, if you display an ability better than Mitsurugi-dono and the others, we can just laugh this matter off.”
Asking a guy who was just killed by kobolds to display his powers on the same day, what was this sadistic woman saying?
Enough, I didn’t want to stay in this castle anymore! I’m going home!
… Ah, right.
“Putting that aside, what are you going to do about Iris’s necklace? Don’t let her wear that, it seems to be a divine relic. My comrade Aqua can seal the divine relic, how about leaving it to her?”
Claire gave an unexpected answer to my advice.
“That can’t be done. That’s a tribute for the first prince Jatis. Before His Highness Jatis returns, we can’t dispose of it on our own… Or rather, it’s just a divine relic that switches bodies for a short period of time, so it isn’t harmful at all, right?”
Claire averted her flushed face as she said that.
… She experienced something good during that incident today.
Forget it, it’d just be a simple decoration if the keyword wasn’t chanted.
And the switch would just be a short time.
Claire then smiled gently.
“Rather than that–you’ll be leaving the capital tomorrow. The capital doesn’t need you. If you insist on staying, I’ll chase you out by force. Never mind, you can enjoy this party today too… If you can show that you deserve it.”
I came crying back to my residence and wailed in the dim room.
“How vexing! What’s with that woman, saying such hurting words on this last night! I know I’m at fault too! Or rather, it’s all my fault!!”
Since Darkness and the others won’t be able to get away from the crowd, they’ll attend the party until the end and stay the night in the castle.
… Maybe they’ll really join Mitsurugi’s team?
What was it with this feeling of being alienated?
I’d always been planning on leaving them behind and joining a normal party. But when I tried imagining such a situation, I felt a sense of unease…
Enough, I don’t care anymore!
I’ll return to Axel and use the bounty for Sylvia along with Vanir’s payout to live a carefree life!
What should I do after returning to town?
It might be a carefree life, but spending every day sleeping would be boring.
Not having games and computers in this world was a tragedy.
No, speaking of which, Aqua brought some games back from the Crimson Demon village.
All right, I’ll confiscate them from her and play to my heart’s content.
As I thought about that, I realized…
… I had yet to properly decide the match with Iris…
As I was thinking about Iris, someone knocked on the window.
– Looking outside, I saw her standing nonchalantly on the second floor window ledge.
Under the moonlight, a silver haired thief girl was standing there.
After opening the window, Chris entered briskly.
“Yo. Isn’t there a party tonight? You’re back really early, huh?”
Chris said with a knowing smile. Seemed like she found out everything.
How did she know about the divine relic and the party?
Maybe there was a thief guild that was exclusive only to thieves.
“I won’t agree no matter how many times you ask. But I’ll tell you what I do know. There’s a divine relic that can switch bodies in the castle. However, the period’s short, and unlike the monster summoning magic item, I think it’s rather harmless.”
I remained lying and twisted my body after saying all that, turning my back to Chris.
Or rather, I hoped that I could bask in my memories of Iris at least for tonight.
Although Eris-sama requested this of me when I died, I just didn’t have the drive to do it.
Chris said to my back:
“That magic item. If one of the bodies dies during the swap, it won’t switch back.”
Chris muttered casually…
“… Hey, what did you just say?”
I got up from bed and asked.
Seeing how frantic I was, Chris laughed softly.
“If that magic item is used well, one can gain eternal life; that’s how powerful it was. If your body starts getting old, you can swap with a healthy body and kill the other party. It’d be even better if you transfer your fortune to the younger person in advance.”
She said something incredible.
… I see, so it was a divine relic after all.
But right now, the only ones who knew the real power of the divine relic were just me and Chris.
If we leave it alone, it won’t be misused since no one knew, right?
“I remember that this magic item was bought by some noble at the very beginning.”
Chris said calmly, as if she’d seen through what I was thinking.
“But, it somehow landed in the hands of the Princess… Isn’t that strange? Who, and for what purpose, gave that thing as a tribute to the royal family?”
… Wasn’t the objective obvious?
The goal was to swap bodies with the person that held the highest authority of the kingdom…
“Hey, this is no time to joke. We’ve got to report this to the big wigs in the kingdom…!”
Chris shook her head regretfully.
“I advise you not to do that. Can you predict the movement of the people who knew about the powers of the divine relic? I can tell for certain that the nobles will start eyeing the divine relic… Not just that, the royals might even use it for misdeeds too. No, the more authority one has, the more one craves eternal life.”
I was speechless.
“I only told you about this because you’re someone who wouldn’t use it for evil even if you got hold of it.”
We weren’t that close, so why did she trust me that easily?
But it was true that I didn’t have the guts to misuse this thing.
Even when I swapped bodies with Iris, the most I did was take a bath with others.
… Hmm. I did do a lot of misdeeds…
Chris said to me who had fallen silent again.
“Hey, you’re the playmate of the princess, right?”
With the moonlight behind her, Chris stood by the window again and smiled.
“Want to go to Her Highness’s side and play?”