TL: Sine Nomine
Editing: Cannongerbil, Skythewood, Verithaum, Xenthur
—This morning’s scene was the same as usual.
The homeroom teacher held the name list in one hand while taking attendance.
“I’m doing the roll call… Arue! Kaikai! Sakiberi!”
As each student responded accordingly when their name was called.
They are all girls.
This school separated boys and girls into different classes.
There were only eleven students in this classroom, so the teacher got to me quickly.
After getting my response, the homeroom teacher nodded in satisfaction.
“Okay, everyone is present. Then…”
The student next to me raised her hand just as the teacher was about to close the name list. She was on the verge of tears.
“My name has not been called yet…”
“Eh? Oh, sorry! There is only one student on the next page. Sorry, sorry! Then… Yunyun!”
Yunyun, her hair tied with ribbons, replied as her name was called. She ought to be angry for being left out, yet she merely blushed.
—This was a small school located within the Crimson Demon Village.
When they come of age, all kids in the village learn general knowledge at this school. At the age of 12, they gain the advanced job known as “Archmage” and begin learning magic.
The Crimson Demons are naturally blessed with high intelligence and vast amounts of mana. In most cases, they will remain in school until they mastered magic.
Here, mastering magic amounted to graduation.
In other words, no one in this classroom knows magic yet.
The students here accumulated skill points daily in order to master the type of magic they desired.
Different magic requires different amounts of skill points.
The more powerful the magic, the more skill points it required.
Besides this, the type of magic the students here wanted to learn is definitely—
This is what all mages aspired to- The ability to use all kinds of powerful spells.
Among Crimson Demons, mastering advanced magic is the only way to be officially recognized as a mage…
“Now, announcing the test results. As usual, the top three will receive the Skill Up Potion. Starting with the third! Arue!”
With my peripheral vision, I watched the student lazily walk forward to get the potion. I then looked out of the window in a daze.
“Second place, Yunyun! You live up to your name as the chief’s daughter, well done! Continue to be diligent.”
“Ah, ye- yes!”
I looked at the side as Yunyun stood up, blushing.
Other than killing monsters to gain experience points and level up, the only way skill points can be gained is by drinking the rare Skill Up Potion.
Therefore, everyone was competing to get these potions in order to learn advanced magic as soon as possible.
“Finally, in first place, Megumin!”
Hearing my name called, I rose to get the potion.
Next to me, Yunyun appeared vexed by this.
“Your results are very consistent! I always thought that you should already have enough skill points to learn advanced magic… But never mind, continue to work hard!”
After taking the potion and returning to my seat, I looked out the window again.
From the second floor window, one could see beyond the village.
Was that unnamed person that I met as a child currently travelling in high spirits?
While the homeroom teacher was still encouraging the other students, I quietly took out a card from my chest pocket.
This card was called an Adventurer’s Card. In the job field, ‘Archmage’ was written.
Level 1. There were 45 skill points displayed below.
In the list of available skills, the words “Learning ‘advanced magic’ requires 30 skill points” were glowing.
“The other students should learn from Megumin, and work hard to master advanced magic! Now then, let’s start the lesson!”
Ignoring the homeroom teacher, my finger touched a certain row of gray words in my card’s skill list…
“Learning ‘Explosion magic’ requires 50 skill points.”
In the Crimson Demon Village, a person must learn advanced magic to be officially recognized as a mage, but that was not the magic I wanted to learn.
The destructive spell casted by that robed person was still fresh in my mind.
I will definitely learn Explosion magic.
And, someday, I’ll show that person my spell—
During the break after the first period ended, a hand slammed on my desk with a loud “Pat!”.
“Megumin! You understand, right?”
The person talking to me is Yunyun, who sat next to me.
She is the daughter of the Crimson Demon chief. An all-rounder who was also the class monitor.
“Fine. By the way, what’s my breakfast for today? I’m famished.”
“Is, is that so? Today’s meal was wholeheartedly prepared by me … No, wait! Why is my defeat a foregone conclusion? I-I definitely won’t lose today! This time, I’ll show you the victory of the chief’s daughter!”
She proclaimed herself to be my rival, yet she treated me to free meals every day.
As Yunyun made her declaration, she placed her meal box on my desk.
I placed the potion I received earlier on the desk as well.
“I will decide the content of this match. This little concession is surely acceptable to the chief’s daughter. Betting a rare potion against a packed meal is unfair anyway.”
“I understand. Megumin, you can decide the match’s content this time.”
She’s so easy to scam.
“Then, the match’s content will be this: during the next physical examination, whoever is slimmer and more environmentally friendly…”
“That’s cheating! There’s no way I can win against Megumin in this!”
“Although I decided the content, I’m still angry when you say that so confidently! We’re at the same age, so there can’t be too big of a difference! Just how narcissistic are you, little girl?!”
“Ouch, ouch! Stop. The match’s content should be competing on how much we’ve grown, right? If you’re so energetic, why not have a match during physical education class?”
I was still knocking Yunyun to the sound of “Pat! Pat! Pat!”, as the other students left for the infirmary.
According to my long years of research, the saying that I heard as a child – “Becoming an Archmage will enlarge one’s breasts” – may have some basis.
Mana circulation allowed blood to flow more smoothly, accelerating growth. Probably. Most of the powerful wizards in the village have big breasts.
Therefore, as the top student in class, I should have big breasts soon.
Still indulging in fantasy, I walked towards the infirmary. Yunyun hurriedly followed behind.
“Hey, Megumin! If you are so confident, let’s settle this with normal games instead? Ah, don’t walk so fast…!”
When we entered the infirmary, the examination had already begun.
Mine was an all-girls class. I was the shortest one.
I believe this was a nutrition issue.
Thanks to my father, a magic item artisan with certain special inclinations, my family always had issues with money.
The inconsistent meals I was getting probably affected my growth.
“Ah, Arue has grown. You’re already the first in class. Good, next is… Megumin… Hm. I already told you, it’s pointless even if you stick your chest out. I use examination magic, so it won’t change the results even if you take a deep breath and hold it.”
My little bit of effort was wasted. The infirmary’s teacher used magic to determine my true physical statistics.
“Hm… Megumin has grown slightly taller. Next is Yunyun.”
“Oh no; since I’ve grown bigger, I’ll definitely lose… Ah, I really lost to Megumin again… Ouch, ouch! Why? I lost the match, and my packed meal has been taken. Why is Megumin still hitting me?”
“Ask your god damn breasts!”
“Megumin, stress is not conducive to growth!”
I ate the breakfast that I plundered from Yunyun.
“Megumin! This is some high grade pudding made from natural Neroid. It’s perfect for dessert!”
“Thanks. Ah, there’s no spoon.”
“Ah, so-, sorry. Please wait.”
I silently ate Yunyun’s meal at my desk, looking at her as she hurriedly took out the spoon. At this moment, Yunyun finally recovered her wits, and slammed the pudding and spoon on the desk.
“Wait, what am I doing?! I’m trying to use the pudding as a wager! Why must I take care of Megumin so diligently?”
“I feel like a kitten or puppy fed by Yunyun every day, so isn’t it about time you bring me home? Buy some snacks along the way.”
“Eh! Can I really…? No, it’s not like that! We are rivals! Besides, your so-called ‘buy some snacks’ is nothing more than snatching away my food!”
When did I become her rival?
Whatever; I returned the meal box to Yunyun after finishing the content.
“Thanks for your hospitality. The flavor isn’t bad today. Very delicious. Tomorrow, I’d like to have more protein.”
“Ah, is, is that so? Then tomorrow I…”
Yunyun took her meal box and happily put it in her school bag, then recovered her wits.
“I, I already said, this is very strange! Why must I…”
“Get back to your seats. Lesson is starting. Hey, don’t bring pudding to school. Confiscated!”
Suddenly entering the classroom, the homeroom teacher confiscated the pudding.
The teacher ignored Yunyun, who was softly moaning “My pudding…” next to me, and started the lesson.
The homeroom teacher wrote names of magic systems on the blackboard, urging students to take notes.
We silently took notes. The teacher blatantly ate the pudding while explaining.
“Today I will explain special magic. Firstly, there are three types of magic written here. Basic, intermediate, and advanced magic. There is no need to explain these further. You should already know that advanced magic is the highest level of magic.”
The homeroom teacher wrote three other types of magic on the blackboard.
“In this world, besides advanced magic, there are also special systems of magic, known as Blast magic, Detonation magic, and Explosion magic. Although these magic systems are very powerful, they are hard to control and consume a lot of mana. Therefore, few people actually use them.”
I was focusing on the pudding being eaten by the teacher, but suddenly reacted to the term ‘Explosion magic’.
“Firstly, Blast magic. This magic can crack even bedrock. Mages who learn this will be recruited by the government when they need the magic for civil development. However, learning Blast magic requires as much skill points as learning advanced magic. Therefore, unless you want to be a civil servant working in civil engineering, it is best not to learn it.”
Blast magic. Blast magic… I wrote it neatly in my notebook, intently listening to the teacher’s explanation without missing a word.
“Next is Detonation magic. This is the magic wielded by the legendary Archmage. In the face of her barrage of Detonation magic, the opposing monsters were easily blow apart. But this magic consumes a lot of mana. An ordinary wizard can only cast it a few times. Even if you are confident in your mana reserves, learning this magic is still not practical.”
Detonation magic—Detonation magic—
I diligently wrote it down.
At this point, the teacher put down the chalk, and returned to eating the pudding.
Seriously, he did not explain the most important of all, Explosion magic!
“Teacher. About Explosion magic…”
I stood up and raised my hand. All my classmates turned to focus on me. The homeroom teacher laughed.
“Forget about Explosion magic. It requires a ridiculously high amount of skill points to learn. Even a mage with large mana reserves cannot cast it successfully because of the immense amount of mana required. And even if one is lucky enough to cast it, the immense power will not only defeat monsters, but also change the physical terrain. If it is cast inside a dungeon, the entire dungeon will collapse. The explosive noise will also attract monsters nearby. Yes, Explosion magic is simply useless.”
—The third period was language class.
“Everyone, for Crimson Demons, grammar and vocabulary are very important. Do you know why? …Megumin! Please explain why they are important to Crimson Demons.”
Upon being called, I stood up.
“Because the speed of casting and accuracy of pronunciation will affect the control of magic.”
“Three points, far from being good enough.”
I only received three points… Three points…
I sat down dejectedly. Next to me, Yunyun, was called.
“Next, Yunyun! Tell me the correct answer.”
“Yes! The sealed, ancient magic is written in the language of past eras. It is necessary to learn them in order to decipher forbidden curses and spells.”
“Thirty points! Good job on mentioning forbidden curses and sealed magic, but the other parts are wrong!”
“Thirty points!? … Thirty points…”
Yunyun sat down dejectedly. The teacher seemed disappointed and sighed deeply.
“Sigh… Are you two really at the top of the class…”
The teacher’s attitude caused us to cry out in indignation, but this annoying teacher ignored us and called another student.
“Arue! For the Crimson Demons, why are grammar and vocabulary important!”
The third in class, Arue, stood up, raising her head and sticking out her chest.
“To prevent the appearance of strange aliases like ‘Flame User of Exploding Flame’. Also, to present an interesting monologue before a battle and hype up the mood.”
“One hundred points! Yes, our aliases are very important. I personally possess the best alias in the village. When you graduate, you need to decide on your alias as well. In the next physical education lesson, I will give you all a demonstration!”
Calling it a schoolyard was an exaggeration. It was essentially an open space created using fire magic to burn away the vegetation in front of the school.
The teacher, who was wearing a cloak, had been burning things for some time now.
The rising smoke seemed to be thicker than when I arrived at school. The teacher must have come to school really early just to do this.
As the smoke rose, the sky darkened.
The teacher probably burnt expensive rain-making talismans, summoning the clouds in advance.
When the teacher was satisfied with the size of the clouds drifting in the sky, she nodded slightly.
“Good. Next will be combat training! For Crimson Demons, what is the most important thing during combat? Hm… Yunyun, you answer!”
“M- me? I, I think, the most important thing during combat… is, is calmness! The calmness to be unshaken by any event is the most important!”
“Five points! Next is Megumin!”
Yunyun, after being given five points by the teacher, became depressed, ceaselessly muttering “Five points…”.
What was the most important thing in combat? That was obvious!
“Destructive power! The power to lay waste to everything! Power alone is the most important!”
“Fifty points! Power is indeed necessary. If there is not enough destructive power, the Crimson Demons won’t be able to fight. But it is not entirely correct, so only 50 points!”
“I got merely 50 points…!?”
“I only got five points…”
The teacher looked at our dejected expressions and spat on the ground, as if saying, “The top students are so disappointing.”
The hateful teacher ignored our cries, and called another student.
“Arue! Surely, you will know! To someone like you, who covers her left eye with an eye patch, what is the most important thing in combat?”
If the classmate was to remove the eye patch covering her eye, she would be regarded as “really beautiful”. Arue, who didn’t look like she belonged in the same grade, took a step forward and used her index finger to lift up her eye patch.
“It’s being cool.”
“One hundred points! Not bad, Arue. I’ll give you a Skill Up Potion! We, the Crimson Demons, must fight elegantly! Now, I will demonstrate…”
“Call of Sandstorm!”
I didn’t know what spell the teacher had been casting. Among the drizzling dark clouds that had been there since earlier, bluish-white lightning flashed.
A powerful magic was being invoked, as unnatural winds howled.
My classmates pressed down their hair in the strong winds. The teacher took out the staff she had prepared, and raised it high in the air.
“Mine is the name of Pucchin, the Archmage who wields advanced magic…”
After the teacher declared her name, lightning struck the tip of the staff.
Then, the teacher flipped her cloak, causing it to flutter wildly in the wind.
“The strongest homeroom teacher of the Crimson Demons, the one who will eventually become the principal…!”
Following the teacher’s declaration, an even bigger stroke of lightning flashed.
With the lightning glow behind her, the teacher maintained her pose, holding her staff and flipping her cloak.
As my classmates cheered loudly, I looked around. Only Yunyun held her hands to her cheeks, trembling slightly.
Because the teacher was too cool, Yunyun didn’t dare to look at her directly. I heard her whispering softly.
“How, how embarrassing…!”
It seemed the rumor that this girl is weird was true .
I heard that after entering puberty, some children started admiring strange people. This phenomenon is called Chuunibyou*. She probably had it too.
Note (*): See http://animanga.wikia.com/wiki/Chuunibyou
In the howling winds, the teacher finally made a move, clapping her hands while saying,
“Good! Pair up with a classmate near you! Then, make cool self-introductions to each other. Be conscientious about experimenting with poses!”
Hearing the teacher’s words, Yunyun’s body trembled.
I wanted to know what was wrong with her, so I stared at her. She looked around uncertainly, then stole a glance at me.
She probably wanted to pair up with me, but it was difficult for her to ask because she declared herself as my rival… How troublesome.
I decided to forcefully pair with her and make her cry with my coolness. But before I could do so, someone interrupted.
“Megumin, do you have a partner? If not, do you want to pair with me?”
Turning around, I was confronted with a pair of big boobs, which did not seem like those of a 12-year-old. It was as if they were intentionally being displayed… This makes me even more annoyed.
At that moment, “Ah” —a soft voice was heard behind me.
There is no need to turn around to look. It was definitely Yunyun.
The eye patch-wearing classmate who spoke to me, Arue, seemed to be doing warm-up exercises, rotating her head and jumping.
Her boobs bounced along with her jumps…
… This one is an enemy!
“Fine. Based on my statistical calculations, your chance of becoming a powerful Archmage is very high. Therefore, here and now, let’s decide who is better!”
“Can statistics even analyze such things!?”
Yunyun retorted accordingly, but I had no time for that.
“Does everyone have a partner? There should be one extra student. She can pair with me, the teacher.”
Yunyun looked around nervously after finding herself alone. She dejectedly walked towards the teacher.
“Arue. I’m not feeling well today. I want to rest during physical education lesson. Maybe it’s because the food I got from Yunyun earlier had something weird in it.”
Hearing me, Yunyun showed an expression of gratitude and surprise.
“Teacher, I’m not feeling well. Can I rest a bit during the lesson?”
“What? No. You have never attended a single physical education lesson properly. Today’s lesson is especially important. Don’t pretend to be sick.”
Facing the relentless teacher, I moaned and collapsed on the ground.
“No. Don’t try this trick on me…”
“I-I can’t suppress it anymore…! If this persists, the one within me will take possession of this body…!”
“What, Megumin, you…! So the thing sealed within your body is awakening…!? It can’t be helped, I permit you to go to the infirmary. Let the teacher in the infirmary reinforce the seal.”
“I understand. Then I will leave now.”
“—Okay, is everyone now in pairs? Start now!”
I listened to the teacher’s instructions as I walked towards the infirmary.
If the physical education lesson expended the calories I made so much effort to gain from Yunyun’s packed meal, it would be a waste.
After I received the nutritional medicine with sealing power (which was also sold in the market) from the infirmary teacher, I laid down on the bed.
In the quiet infirmary, I pulled the blanket up to my shoulders, thinking about what the teacher said previously.
—Explosion magic is a useless spell.
I wrapped my head in the blanket in resentment.
“Te- Teacher! It’s raining! …or rather, it’s raining sand! We have already witnessed teacher’s cool poses, so can you stop the rain?”
“The tulips carefully planted by the principal in the flowerbed have been blown away!”
“Ca- can’t stop it! This is terrible. The moon, the source of magic, rises to its highest point today. My suppressed power has been released…! Let me stop this rain! Do not worry about me, take shelter in the school building!”
“Teacher! Be honest, you only thought about the performance earlier. You didn’t think about how to stop this at all!”
As I listened to the voices from the schoolyard, I slowly closed my eyes—
“Hey, Megumin, why are you pacing about in front of my desk and showing off your Skill Up Potion? Is there something you want to say?”
“Nothing… Oh yes, Yunyun’s packed lunch looks delicious today.”
“Is, is that so? Besides the box you have stolen, I made an extra portion… Ah, I won’t give it to you! This portion is not for wager. If this packed lunch gets stolen too, I won’t have anything to eat, so I won’t challenge you!”
“Stop. Don’t dangle the potion before me. Hurry up and drink it already!”
“Do-, don’t! I won’t give it to you! Ev- even if you show such a sad face… I will… only give you half…”
After eating the lunch I got from Yunyun, an announcement was made in the school.
“Based on Teacher Pucchin’s analysis, there was a sudden and mysterious rain this morning. . Doubtlessly, it is due to the evil god of rain and sloth who was sealed somewhere in the Crimson Demon village. After checking, the principal confirms that this downpour has traces of magical influences, meaning it is artificial. All the teachers are busy controlling the rainfall; therefore, all afternoon lessons are cancelled. The weather outside currently has strong winds, lightning, and heavy rain, making it dangerous for students to go home. Therefore, please do some self-study in school.”
It appeared that the teacher shoved all the responsibility onto the evil god.
As I was plotting on how to use this situation to scam some dinner, some students stood up.
They’re probably going to the school library to pass time.
—There is something I want to research too.
I hastily shoved the food I forcefully took from Yunyun into my mouth…
“I already said half! Only giving you half!”
After tossing the lunch box at Yunyun, I ran to the library.
This was the the Crimson Demon Village’s school which produced many Archmages, so the library should be well-stocked.
From unspeakable legends to dubious practical manuals.
Yunyun, who came along on her own, was looking for something in the shelves for practical manuals.
“Abstinence Magical Manual for Making Friends”, “Guide: Even Snails Can Be Good at Communications” ……
Yunyun took a few books with titles I couldn’t understand, but looking at her eyes that seemed to glow with excitement, I decided to keep her muttered words to myself.
I continued searching for my target book, sliding my finger across the books on the shelf.
“Secret Origins of Crimson Demons”, “Until the Fall of the Magic Kingdom”, “Dukes of Hell Series, Volume 4, Prophetic Demon”, “The Truth About Residents from the Other World” ……
Interesting books flashed by one after another. Finally, I found what I was looking for.
“Practicability of Explosion Magic” ……I took this book, and flipped through it.
“Explosion magic is the ultimate destructive magic. It is the most powerful offensive magic that can inflict injury to everything in existence. Currently, the way to learn this magic is mostly lost, only known by humans who have spent many years in magical research and long-lived, non-human mages. Furthermore, not only is it difficult to learn, its opportunity for use is also very limited. Therefore, mages who use this magic are also known as Minefield Mages, frequently rejected by adventurers who are looking for party members.”
Reading this, my admiration for Explosion magic was slightly shaken.
In the scene I witnessed as a child, it was a destructive magic that violated everything.
I had always admired that hooded person and her magic—
“Firstly, a person with ordinary talents cannot use it. Even if it has been learnt, it usually cannot be used due to the vast amount of mana consumed. It is a mystery why such magic was developed. In the present situation, only non-human mages, who have immensely long lives, will whimsically use excess skill points to learn this magic……”
……Reading this, I put the book back in the shelf.
I got the feeling that if I kept reading, I would be even more devastated.
At this time, I noticed an interesting title next to where I put the book.
“Rhodes the Untamed”.
Attracted by the strange title, I reached out to take the book.
—The story was about a senile old king who was accompanied by two retainers as he roamed about his territory in order to change the world.
Due to an unexpected incident, the villagers learnt of the old man’s identity and accused the governor of various crimes. The governor insisted on his innocence, claiming the villagers were lying.
The old man declared both parties to be guilty and hand out sentences to the villagers and the corrupt governor. As a result, both the villagers and the governor banded together and defeated the old man.
The old man raged, declaring that he will raze this land, while his two retainers consoled him, telling him, “It is time for a meal,” and brought him home.
After fighting together on the same side, the villagers and the governor learnt the benefits of unity. Not long after, they built a great city there, unsurpassed by any other cities—
……Where is the second volume?
I searched for the sequel to this book.
“Hey, what is this book? Super funny! What, don’t you have friends?”
There was a sudden burst of noise that was incompatible with the quiet mood of the library,
I looked over, and saw that it was Yunyun and another classmate.
This is… This situation is…!
“You don’t have any, right? Otherwise, why would you… ‘You Can Even Befriend Fish’…? Come on, forget about this book. At least choose one about mammals…”
“Stop right there!”
I jumped between Yunyun and that classmate, pointing at the latter sternly.
“Your goal is first to bully and toy with this pitiful girl, then take advantage of her broken heart and pretend to be her friend in order to make all kinds of unreasonable demands, right?! Even if you can hide this from others, you cannot hide it from me!”
After being exposed by me, the classmate appeared to panic.
“Hey, wait, I don’t understand what you are talking about! I’m only making conversation because I saw Yunyun holding an interesting book…”
“Me-, Megumin, what’s up? Are you influenced by some strange book you have read? It’s just someone conversing with me…”
The classmate and Yunyun separately explained, but—
“No, I merely detected a disharmonious mood, so I intervened as I have nothing better to do. And because I skipped the earlier lesson, I’m the only one who did not practice self-introduction, so I’m somewhat dissatisfied.”
“Way too unreasonable!”
Probably because someone heard the shouts of Yunyun and the classmate, the library doors opened.
“Hey, you people are too noisy. Be quiet in the library. I will think of a way to stop the evil god’s rain. The principal’s and my power are just enough to suppress the evil god somewhat…”
“Teacher, didn’t you tell us that it is your suppressed power that was released…! The evil god is too pitiful if it gets the blame for everything!”
The classmate complained about the irresponsible teacher.
“No, the villagers have checked the Tomb of the Evil God. It seems some idiot messed with the seal, and broke it. Apparently, there are still a few missing seal fragments. The evil god and its minions who were sealed away might burst forth at any time. After all, the seal is made specifically for the evil god, so its minions may have already escaped. Therefore, before it is re-sealed, please do not go home alone.”
The homeroom teacher told us.
“Hey, do you know? About 7 years ago, when we were still children, the seal of the evil god was broken. There was a big crater before the Tomb of the Evil God, right? It is said that it was the scar left behind by the wandering mage who re-sealed the evil god.”
Back in the classroom, the classmates were discussing this matter.
In this village, even such unbelievable rumors became the subject of discussion.
I can’t remember my childhood events very clearly, but the wandering mage they mentioned should be the hooded person who saved me.
Because the teachers left to investigate the evil god, we were dismissed from school early today.
The classmates left in groups based on the locations of their homes. Only Yunyun and I remained in the classroom.
My house was at the corner of the Crimson Demon Village, so no other classmate lived near me.
The classmates who were going to buy snacks grouped tightly together, saying, “This is tasty, that is good too”. This was probably one of the reasons why nobody bothered me.
With no other option, I decided to go home alone.
Yunyun, who also remained in the classroom, reached out her hand with a soft mumble. She seemed to be calling me.
“What is it?”
“Uh? No, nothing, hm… Megumin’s house is along my way home, so…”
Yunyun’s house was the village chief’s house, built in the middle of the village.
If she wanted to walk together to my place, she would need to take detour…
“…Want to go back together?”
“Can I? Ah, but we are rivals. To be this close…”
Yunyun’s face seemed to brighten, yet she kept saying such troublesome words. I ignored her, walking out of the classroom quickly. Yunyun ran out after me.
“Wait! From tomorrow onwards! We’ll resume being rivals starting from tomorrow!”
—As Yunyun and I exited the school, we saw the clouds drifting unnaturally.
Did the teacher really cause such an unnatural occurrence just for the sake of a performance?
Burning an expensive talisman just to act cool; the teacher is a true Crimson Demon.
Although the homeroom teacher was useless in many aspects, this was one aspect you had to acknowledge.
I walked home without stopping. Yunyun, who was following behind, spoke uncertainly.
“Megumin, are you free? Hm, if possible…”
Yunyun invited me to buy some snacks along the way.
Even paying for it.
“Of course, I have no reason to reject. Why is this happening though?”
“Eh? On-, only because I’m a little hungry…”
Yunyun was embarrassed.
“Fine, you are entering puberty after all. But as a girl, wouldn’t it be unnatural if your appetite is too big?”
“Wait! Megumin, you have no right to say that! I’m hungry because you ate my lunch! Be-, besides…”
Yunyun’s voice suddenly lowered.
“Buying snacks with a friend, shopping on the way home… That is… I’m somewhat looking forward to it…”
“Ah? What did you say?”
Yunyun mumbled something, so I intentionally turned back and positioned my ear before her to listen.
At first, Yunyun lied that she didn’t say anything to hide her embarrassment. But after I interrogated her multiple times, she finally cried and repeated her previous statement clearly.
“Welcome! Welcome to the Crimson Demons’ number one coffee shop! Isn’t this Megumin, Hyoizaburo’s daughter? I heard you are very conscientious in school. Everyone says that you are the top genius of the Crimson Demons. I seldom see you eating out, what would you like to order?”
“I want something with plenty of calories that can make you feel full easily.”
“Megumin, that’s not the way a girl should order food! Hm. The chef’s recommendation…”
Yunyun and I arrived at the terrace of the village’s only coffee shop.
The shop owner brought us the menu. He seemed to be my father’s acquaintance.
“Recommendations… ‘Stew of Dark God’s Blessing’, and also ‘Spicy Noodles in Lava Dragon’s Breath Style’.”
“I want spicy noodles.”
“Give me this one, ‘Demon God’s Sacrificial Lamb Sandwich’.”
“Okay! Dicey Doodles in Lava Dragon’s Breath Style, Demon God’s Sacrificial Lamb Sandwich. Please wait a moment!”
“It’s Spicy Noodles!”
Red-faced, Yunyun corrected the dish name in a serious tone. I slowly drank the complimentary fruit juice.
“Megumin, Megumin. It’s a little sudden, but may I ask a question?”
“What? Since it’s your treat, I will answer normal questions. Is it about my weakness? My current weakness is sweets. After-meal dessert is my weakness.”
“I’m not asking this! Besides, what kind of weakness is that? Normally, you would eat in big mouthfuls.”
“Isn’t it commonly said – ‘Sweets are a girl’s enemy!’ What do you want to ask then?”
I pressed her. Suddenly, Yunyun became hesitant.
Looking at this girl’s expression aroused my sadism.
“Megumin, do you have a boy that you like?”
“Yunyun is in heat!”
Hearing her words, I stood up in shock. Yunyun explained hurriedly while nearly crying.
“No, not like that! Think about it, don’t girls tend to chat about such trivial things? I merely yearn for such conversations! I don’t have someone I like!”
Her words reassured me, so I sat down again.
“How should I put this? Yunyun, you are a strange kid by the Crimson Demons’ standards. I heard that, during physical education lesson, you could not decide on a cool pose because of your shyness.”
“Am I really strange? I always felt that the villagers are somewhat weird…”
Weird Yunyun felt dejected because of what I said.
She had no friends in class, probably due to her weirdness.
“So, what type of guys does Yunyun like?”
Facing my question, red-faced Yunyun rolled her eyes in shock.
“Don’t you want to chat about trivial things? By the way, for me, I won’t accept any guy who lends out money only if he gains some benefits. It would be best if he sets high goals, works hard day and night, and is honest and serious.”
“Someone serious and kind, huh. Megumin has a gentle side and is good at taking care of others, so I’m sure you will attract an opposite type, those unsalvageable bums… Ow, ow! I’m just kidding!… I like the mature and sturdy type who will warmly listen to my everyday life…”
—A peaceful afternoon
I chatted endlessly with my self-proclaimed rival as we went back home.
“Welcome home, nee-chan!”
Upon reaching home, my younger sister ran out of the house to greet me.
Komekko, who was just 5 years old, had hair slightly shorter than mine.
Komekko wore my old robe. The parts that drag on the ground were already stained with mud.
“Ah… The robe’s edges are muddy. I asked you to watch the house. Did you run out to play again?”
“Yes! I defeated the newspaper man, then I went out to play!”
“Oh, you won again today. You are truly my younger sister.”
“Yes! I said, ‘I have not eaten any solid food for 3 days.’ After that, he left behind some food coupons!”
Komekko showed off the fruits of her labor in satisfaction.
As I patted the head of my excellent sister, Komekko suddenly sensed something.
“There is a fragrance on nee-chan’s body.”
“You are truly my younger sister. I brought this back. ‘Demon God’s Sacrificial Lamb Sandwich’! Eat until you explode!”
“Awesome! I feel like I can become the Demon King. Then, the dinner I caught will be tomorrow’s breakfast instead!”
Komekko, who loved sandwiches, said suddenly.
…She caught dinner
A while ago, Komekko caught some cicadas, and suggested frying them to eat. I suddenly felt terrified.
“Komekko, what did you say dinner is? What have you caught?”
“Wanna see? I defeated it after a deadly battle. A savage black beast!”
Komekko left behind this frightening statement, and ran back into the house.
Please don’t be a bug! Please don’t be a bug!
As I waited, I kept praying. Shortly after, Komekko carried something out…
It was a black kitten, which looked exhausted for some reason.
“…You really caught a big one.”
“Yes. I worked hard! It was fighting back at first, but it became docile after I bit it a few times.”
“Although it’s good that you won, you shouldn’t just randomly bite things.”
Komekko nodded obediently after hearing this. I took the black kitten.
The black kitten hid itself in my arms. It seemed to have gone through a fearsome experience, and fearfully nudged its head into my chest.
Komekko took big bites out of the sandwich, then, pausing to stare at the sandwich still in her mouth, offered it to me.
“I already ate. Komekko can eat it all. Anyway, I will take care of this furball, okay?”
Komekko indulged herself in eating the sandwich.
—I let the kitten into my room. As it boldly curled up on my bed, I whispered softly.
“What am I to do with this cat?”
For it to be this shameless, perhaps it wasn’t just a normal stray.
But it could not become breakfast as Komekko wanted. There was no spare food in the family to feed it either.
And if I released it and it got caught by Komekko again, it will definitely become Komekko’s meal… Then—
—The classroom was so noisy.
“Good morning, Yunyun. Why do you have such an expression on your face?”
Yunyun frowned anxiously, and greeted me in return.
“…What is that?”
Yunyun was asking about the black cat lying on its back on the desk as it played with my fingers. I introduced it again to everyone.
“This is my familiar.”
“Familiar!? I originally thought that only mages in myths owned familiars!”
“Look at its cute and fearless face! This cat is too scary. It must be pretending to be pure and innocent, eyeing our lunch boxes for her master Megumin!”
“This is not what I wanted! But— here’s some food!”
My classmates were all charmed by the charisma of my familiar.
Maybe this kitten truly possessed the ability to bewitch others.
It looked like it will get its own food by staying here. I was relieved.
“Wow, wow, wow! …It’s smooth and soft…! Megumin, what’s its name? Have you given it a name yet?”
Yunyun’s eyes sparkled; she probably wanted to touch the kitten. But as Yunyun reached out her hand, the cat raised its front paw menacingly.
Rejected by the cat, Yunyun put down her hand with a sense of loneliness.
“What’s with this kitten? Feels like it’s not too friendly towards anyone other than Megumin.”
As Arue spoke, the kitten accepted her outstretched finger, enjoying her caress with its eyes half-closed. Seeing this, Yunyun felt like crying.
“It doesn’t have a name yet. If I leave it at home, its life will be in danger, so I want to bring it to school.”
Hearing this, my classmates frowned, looking troubled.
“The kitten is so cute, so I’m fine, but what will the teacher think…”
“Yes, although it’s very cute, the teacher probably won’t allow it. Although it’s really very cute.”
As expected, the homeroom teacher was the biggest obstacle…
The homeroom teacher said upon entering the classroom.
I raised the cat which was putting its best effort to act cute.
“Teacher, this is my familiar. It feeds on my mana. If it leaves me, it will surely die.”
“No. How can someone who cannot use magic have a familiar? The school forbids bringing familiars and snacks! Put it back where it belongs.”
As expected, it didn’t work. Then…!
“Teacher, this is the other me. It’s my other half that holds my power. Although most of the power is with me, it is still another aspect of me. We are of one mind, and cannot be separated!”
“…It seems your other half hates being carried by you, and is struggling for its life.”
“Because I’m about to enter the rebellious stage.”
I put down the cat, and it started to scratch the classroom walls.
“Your other half is currently indulging in its instinct to sharpen its claws.”
“Crimson Demons must always be ready for battle, so it must sharpen its claws. Because most of the intelligence and reason are with me, my other half only has the power, the instinct, and its animalistic appearance.”
“At first glance, it looks like a very cute me, but inside… You allow it?”
The homeroom teacher suddenly allowed it without a fuss… originally, I still planned to explain how me and my other half were in a deadly conflict over this body.
“It’s very amusing, so I’ll let it be.”
Our homeroom teacher was well-known for being amused by improper matters, but her statement made me uneasy.
“Hey, Megumin! Pee and crap only in the designated area! Look, it’s here, here! You can only pee here! Well done! Megumin is remarkable!”
“Doesn’t it stink to put Megumin’s leftover food here? Best to leave it at the back.”
“Ah, really, Megumin! Don’t sharpen your claws everywhere! Don’t show such a cute expression while tilting your head! No… Ah, Megumin is really too cute!”
“Oh no! Fake Megumin has suddenly gone berserk! Looks like it isn’t only cuteness alone, she has finally lost her intelligence and reason to her other half as well!”
The classmate who called me “Fake Megumin” shouted aloud after seeing me flip my desk.
“Who are you calling a fake? I’m the real Megumin! Don’t keep calling it Megumin again and again!”
“What’s the matter, Megumin? You said the Megumin over there is your other half, right? The Megumin who possesses intelligence and reason, while the other Megumin possesses power and instinct, right?”
“Megumin, Megumin, Megumin, Megumin —everyone calling my name everywhere; I can’t take it anymore! Please give this cat a name!”
Seeing my angry expression, Yunyun hugged my other self.
“Even if you say that, it has been decided today that ‘this is the real Megumin’… Look, it is finally starting to accept me. I can hug Megumin now! …Instead of giving this one a name, why not change Megumin’s name? Ouch, ouch!”
“Traitor! Don’t you care about your rival changing names!? The name ‘Megumin’ has been called more times today than in all my school days combined!”
Hearing my complaints, my classmates showed bitter expressions.
“And it finally has a cute name like Megumin…”
“Ah… My cute Megumin is being bullied by the not-cute Megumin…”
“Hey, are you picking a fight?!”
As a Crimson Demon who never backs down from a fight, I raised my chair, ready to throw it at my classmates.
Arue muttered syllable by syllable, considering the cat’s alternate name.
Another student whispered.
“Choisa”, “Marumo”, “Kasuma”.
But it seemed none of these names were satisfactory. The cat in Yunyun’s arms made a noise with its nose, as if it was sneezing.
Hearing the countless alternate names, Yunyun lifted the cat.
“This cat is female…”
“…As expected, the most appropriate name is still Megumin.”
“I’ll kill you!”
As I confronted that classmate, Yunyun suddenly shouted.
“Kuro! Kuro! …How about it? See, because it’s a black cat…”
(Editor’s note: Kuro is Japanese for “black,’’ and is a common pet name)
The surrounding fell into silence.
“That’s not bad. It’s easier to remember weird names.”
“Eh!? Ver- very weird…!?”
…Yes, it was truly a strange name, but maybe it would be easier to remember.
After being named, the cat in Yunyun’s arms narrowed its eyes, as if it was happy.
“Then, it will temporarily use this strange name ‘Kuro’. When it truly becomes my familiar, I’ll seriously give it a grand-sounding name.”
“Strange? Hey, am I really as weird as you say!? Am I really the odd one in this village!?”
Yunyun complained with tears in her eyes. I hugged Kuro.
“Hey, Megumin. Want to go shopping at the accessory shop today?”
On the way home from school…
Yunyun said before that being close to me was limited only to yesterday, but for some reason she was still following behind me today.
But I never considered her to be a rival anyway, so this wasn’t bad.
“There’s an accessory shop in this village?”
“The blacksmith makes accessories on a whim. Hm. Megumin…”
“Admiring cute accessories with someone else on the way home is your dream, right? Fine, let’s go then.”
Yunyun and I went to the blacksmith.
“Welcome! Oh, so it’s the weird girl from the chief’s house and the weirdo Hyoizaburo’s daughter. Want to buy something? For little girls like you… How about this great sword? There are also axes and hammers.”
“Why do you want to give a delicate girl such crude weapons? There is no need for us to use weapons anyway.”
It is strange enough that someone is selling weapons and armors in a village of mages.
Making staves would be more reasonable…
“It is great to have girls swinging huge weapons. Contrastingly cute.”
“In what world would there be girls like that… Yunyun, what should we do?”
Yunyun was looking around inside the shop.
“Hm. I heard that this place sells accessories…”
“Accessories are over there. Crimson Demons only like ridiculously long and complex sword-like weapons. So those things are not in much demand.”
The big blacksmith gestured to a corner with his chin.
Hm… Should this be called an accessory or a small knife…
“Normally, when one speak of accessories, it refers to small wearable items, not small weapons.”
“Even if you say that… I don’t have such customers, so I would have to close my shop down if not for such items.”
The shopkeeper might have chosen the wrong location for his shop.
Anyway, how does the shopkeeper make money?
“From your expressions, you seem to be wondering how I make a living. I’m still an Archmage, you know? I can use my vast mana to control furnaces far bigger and hotter than can be used otherwise to create high quality armors. My armors are fairly popular amongst armor enthusiasts. Although I can’t say her name, the daughter of a noble family loves to wear my armor.”
“Why would the daughter of a noble family wear armor? Yunyun, it’s almost time to…”
Yunyun carefully picked up a silver dagger, and looked at me.
“…You like this?”
Back home, Komekko had made a muddy mess of her robes as usual.
“Welcome home, nee-chan! Brought anything to eat?”
“No food today. By the way, where did you go again? Recently, the seal of the evil god in the village is about to break, so don’t go out.”
I didn’t know how much of my words Komekko actually heard. She just stared at Kuro in my arms.
Horrified of Komekko, Kuro climbed up from my shoulder and tried to hide inside my hat.
To think it climbed up her owner’s body. What an audacious cat.
“Nee-chan, dinner is meat!”
I shivered slightly at my younger sister, who treated both pets and bugs as food.
“Komekko, wait a bit longer. This cat is too thin. It doesn’t have much meat to eat. Let it grow fatter before eating.”
“I see. Nee-chan is so clever!”
Komekko smiled heartily. I don’t know what she was doing outside to become like this. I used my handkerchief to wipe the mud on her face.
“Has Komekko been playing outside again?”
“I found a toy, so let’s play together! Does nee-chan want to play too?”
For some reason, this term didn’t make me feel relieved. Or rather, it made me very concerned.
Yes. Probably, I also…
“Nee-chan, go take a bath! Wash the kitten as well. I think this step is called ‘Removing Astringency’.”
“Komekko, the kitten is shivering inside my hat, so don’t say anymore.”
After I bathed with Komekko and Kuro, we ate a simple dinner, and returned to my own room.
The stairs were slightly noisy, so mother had probably returned.
Father was definitely still making magic tools without rest.
I lay on the woolen blanket, putting Kuro on my belly.
Then I remembered.
“Speaking of toys… When I met her, I asked her to help me find my toys.”
I mumbled to myself in the dark room, lifting Kuro up before me and looking into its eyes.
In the darkness, Kuro seemed to understand what I said, staring at me without blinking.
Big, round, fearless, and cute eyes.
Whenever I see this cat, I think of that person.
I covered my head with the blanket. It naturally sneaked beneath the blanket as well.
“Hey, you’re arrogant for a freeloader.”
Under my blanket, I enjoyed the sensation of stroking Kuro, who curled up on my belly.
At this time, I still thought that I would not be leaving the village for a while—
Spending my time in school and caring for my sister, an unchanging life—
INTERLUDE: A PRELUDE
—The Unsolvable Jigsaw Puzzle and Seal of the Evil God—
I arrived at the playground that I frequently visit.
Squatting before the tombstone was…
“What a big goblin!”
“…Hey, brat, don’t compare me to a goblin.”
“I’m not a brat. I’m Komekko.”
“Is it? …Hey, Komekko, what are you doing here? This is the tomb where the other half of the evil god, Lady Wolbach, was sealed. Didn’t your family members tell you to avoid this place?”
“They did, but nee-chan said that Crimson Demons should not yield to unreasonable demands.”
“…Is, is that so? How troublesome. To think that I have no choice but to eliminate such a brat…”
Sprouting a pair of bat wings, huge and black, the not-goblin lowered its shoulders.
“I’m not a brat, I’m Komekko. Not-a-goblin guy, what are you doing here?”
“Not-a-goblin guy… Hey, brat, look closely! I have huge horns and wings, which signify evil! And no goblin could hope to compete with the sheer musculature of my body! I am the aide of the evil god Lady Wolbach. I’m the greater Devil Lord Hoost. Remember it!”
Looking at Hoost with his outstretched wings, I raised my arms and cheered.
“Oh, oooh, is it… You have good taste. Normally, I have to silence any witness, but I will let you go as an exception. But you must not tell anyone about me. Everything that happens here must be kept a secret. This is a special treatment, so be grateful!”
“Thank you very much.”
Although I didn’t know what was going on, I thanked him anyway. I sat in front of Hoost, and patted on his big, hard leg. “Pat! Pat! Pat!”
“What a strange brat… Never mind, I have important things to do. Don’t disturb me, understand?”
Hoost turned his face away, and fiddled with something before the tombstone… Ah!
“That’s my puzzle!”
“Eh? This is not yours. This is a precious item that can break the seal of Lady Wolbach… Hey, hey, hey, you…!”
I put the puzzle together. Hoost was surprised for some reason.
“You are pretty good! I’ve been hiding from the villagers for a few months and I still couldn’t solve this thing… Alright, I think I can take it from here! Hey, give it to me!”
“Ah! Hoost snatched them away!”
“Eheh, I don’t care what you say. Also, don’t call me by my name directly, you little brat. You should call me Lord Hoost! Now, Lady Wolbach can fully recover her power. Hereafter, she can rampage as before… Uh, what is this, strange…”
After snatching away the puzzle pieces, Hoost attempted to fit the pieces on the pedestal before the tombstone, but failed repeatedly. Finally, he sagged his shoulders, and looked at me.
“…Hey, Komekko, I will make a special exception to let you play with this puzzle. You may continue.”
“I’m hungry, so I don’t want to play puzzle now. Lord Hoost, take your time with it.”
“……Although I’m ashamed to say this, but you can stop calling me Lord Hoost if you want. I will find food for you, so you help me solve the puzzle, Komekko.”
Hearing my reply, Hoost unwillingly beat his wings to fly off somewhere.
I watched him fly off, then picked up the puzzle pieces once more—