CHAPTER 3: GUARDIANS OF CRIMSON DEMON VILLAGE
TL: Sine Nomine
Editing: Cannongerbil, Skythewood, Xenthur
“Good morning, Megumin. Have you had breakfast?”
“Good morning. My sister has received tributes from many people as of late. The leftovers are enough to fill my stomach.”
“D-Don’t you have any pride as a person?”
Today was a Crimson Demon holiday, so there was no school.
It was a cloudy day.
To help Bukkoroli with his problem, Yunyun and I met up early in the morning.
“Fufu, Megumin, look at this!”
Yunyun took something out happily.
It was some kind of chessboard game.
Apparently, it was quite popular in the capital.
“Why do you have this?”
“It is a gift from my uncle who went on a trip to the capital. He even said something unintelligible like, ‘This cannot be played alone, so with this, you definitely can…’ or something like that. I don’t really get what he meant though…”
…It seemed like her uncle was worried about her too.
“I intended to bring it to school to play, but since Bukkoroli-san isn’t here yet, should we have a game first?”
“…I don’t mind. I won’t lose in a game of wits.”
We played the chessboard game on the grass patch.
“Then, I will go first…!”
—Thirty minutes later.
“Ugh! H-Here! My ‘Sword Master’ advances to this square!”
“‘Archmage teleports to this square.”
“Megumin, using teleport is too despicable! …Uh, can we ban ‘Archmage’?”
“No. Look, while you’re complaining about this and that, I already have you in check.
“Ah, wait, wait!”
—One hour later.
“Gre- Great. If this goes on, I can definitely can win…! Megumin, this is the end! Let ‘Crusader’ move to this square…”
“Ah! Megumin is too cunning. Flipping the chessboard is too sly!”
“But, this is in the rulebook. Look here, ‘When the Archmage is left in your own base…’”
—Two hours later.
“Again! Megumin, please play with me one more time!”
“I will win no matter how many times we play. Give it up… By the way, this game is very interesting. As the right of the winner, lend this to me for a few days.”
“Ah!, Wait, wait! … The game rules are too strange! What’s with the Explosion, and the teleport! Which brain-dead idiot came up with rules like this?!”
Yunyun, who was about to cry, flicked at the chess piece unhappily.
“Anyway, Bukkoroli is late. What is he doing?”
“…Want to call him?”
As Yunyun suggested, we went to Bukkoroli’s house nearby.
Bukkoroli’s house managed the village’s best shoe shop.
There was only one shoe shop, so naturally, it was the best.
As we entered the shop, we saw Bukkoroli’s father, the shopkeeper.
“Sorry to disturb you, is Bukkoroli around?”
“Oh, isn’t this Megumin? Welcome! My son is still sleeping.”
“Sorry, can you wake him? He told us, ‘I wish to discuss something with cute, naïve lolis like you… Haha…’.”
Bukkoroli’s father rushed upstairs immediately.
“Hey! It’s somewhat similar to what he said, but there’s a significant difference!”
“That NEET made an appointment with us, and yet he’s still sleeping. He needs to be punished.”
We heard a roar and a scream from the second floor. A while later, Bukkoroli ran downstairs.
“Ugh! Megumin! You’re too much! My father suddenly shouted, ‘You bastard lolicon!’ and woke me up with a beating!”
“You’re the one who approached us for a discussion, yet were still sleeping way after the meeting time. Hurry up, let’s go.”
“Ah, wait! Let me change my clothes!”
—Bukkoroli changed his clothes, and we went out together to the village’s only coffee shop, which has a unique menu.
“Yunyun, order whatever you like to eat. Bukkoroli will be paying, so there’s no need to hold back. I want a sundae with the highest amount of calories.”
“That should be my line! Anyway, I don’t have much money…”
“Hm, I’m very full, so a drink will do… Megumin, didn’t you say you ate a lot this morning?”
After ordering, we sat down and started listening to Bukkoroli’s troubles.
“Sorry for bothering you today. What I want to discuss is… Actually, I… have someone I like.”
“Aren’t you a NEET!?”
“This has nothing to do with being NEET! Even a NEET wants to sleep and eat too, so of course we can fall in love!”
Bukkoroli protested, but we ignored him.
“Ro-Romance! Megumin, this is a love story!”
“I can’t believe someone will come consult me on matters of romance… Anyway, who’s the target? Is it someone we know? No… don’t tell me it’s one of us…”
“Hey, don’t say such impolite words. Consider your own age. I’m not a lolicon… Stop, you two, stop! I’m at fault, so please don’t pour chilli sauce into my coffee!”
Bukkoroli apologized quickly. His expression suddenly became serious.
“…Well, the person I like is…”
—Possessing large amounts of mana, Crimson Demons usually engaged in magic-related work.
For example, magic item artisan, potion brewer, and et cetera.
Apparently, Bukkoroli’s love interest operated a divination shop. She liked to train, and would stay in the mountains to practice her sure kill moves during her free time. She was a normal Crimson Demon that could be found anywhere.
We left the café and headed for her shop..
“To think that it’s Soketto. You’re just a NEET. Isn’t she too good for you?”
“What do you mean I’m just a NEET? Can’t a NEET have great aspirations? Listen, Megumin, humans should have far-reaching ideals. It’s the same with work. I don’t want to be a shoe-maker. I want to have a more respectable career…!”
“But if you wish to date a girl, it’s best to find work first…”
We followed Bukkoroli as he expounded his strange point of view, and discussed the matter involving Soketto.
“The other party is Soketto, the prettiest girl of the Crimson Demons. And this one is a NEET who has no virtues to speak of and is too lazy to even succeed his family business. He has no future… Bukkoroli, we’ll play with you today, so why don’t you just give up?”
“Please don’t analyze so coldly! Maybe she’s a weirdo who likes useless bums! First, I must find out what kind of guy her type is.”
“It looks like you know very well that you’re a bum, so I’ll give you points for that, at least. Well, we’re free anyway, so let’s just try our best.”
“Erm. If you know you’re useless, why not work at being a responsible person? Although it’s not a problem for us to ask her about her preferred type…”
Bukkoroli quickly walked forward without looking back.
It looked like he wanted us to find out if Soketto has a boyfriend and what type of guys she liked.
This was the matter Bukkoroli wanted to discuss with us.
“I feel that it’d be better for you to ask her about her preferred type directly. It’d be easier to create a topic for conversation.”
“If I had such courage and social skills, I wouldn’t be a NEET… Oh, it’s right ahead!”
Bukkoroli made such hopeless statements confidently, and spied on Soketto’s shop from behind a tree.
Soketto, the prettiest girl of the Crimson Demons, was sweeping the floor in front of her divination shop.
For a beauty like Soketto, even the scene of her doing such trivial things was like a fine painting.
“Soketto is beautiful as always… I wish I could be the trash to be at her feet, and let her sweep me up…”
“You’re a NEET, so aren’t you already trash?”
We chatted and observed from a distance. Soketto stretched her back and returned to her shop.
At this moment, I had a flash of inspiration.
An inspired idea.
“Bukkoroli! This is it!”
“What, what!? Transform into trash at her feet? No matter what, it’s better to leave such strange ‘play’ until after we start dating…”
“What idiotic thing are you saying?! That’s not it! I have a good idea. Soketto’s job is divination. Her divination is very accurate, so let her tell you your fortune! Let her foretell Bukkoroli’s future lover!”
“Ah! This sounds good! It would be great if she herself appears in her vision! It saves the effort of confession. If successful, this would be awesome! But if some other girl appears in the vision, then it won’t work no matter how much effort you put in…”
Compared to confession followed by an instant rejection, this would be less devastating.
After Bukkoroli heard my suggestion.
“Hey, I’m a NEET! If I had the money to get my fortune told, I would be in her shop every day!.”
“Well, then, I guess it’s okay for us to leave now.”
Bukkoroli bowed his head and apologized as we prepared to go home.
But there was another problem.
“By the way, Soketto-san went into her shop… Hey, if we go into her shop and ask her for her preferred type, isn’t it somewhat rude…?”
We were basically strangers to Soketto. We couldn’t ask such questions on our first meeting.
Bukkoroli hugged his arms with a grave look.
“No other way. I need to acquire the money for divination…!”
There were a lot of strong monsters near the Crimson Demon village.
For the average adventurer, they were impossible to defeat. Even fleeing successfully would be difficult. Such monsters yielded fur and organs which can be sold at a high price.
With these monsters as targets, we entered the forest next to the village.
“Megumin… Is this really okay…? Even with Bukkoroli’s company, if a large number of monsters attack at the same time…”
“No problem. This NEET is usually free, so he comes to this forest often to gain some allowance and experience points.”
“Stop it with the NEET this, NEET that; how irritating. Even NEETs have human rights… But we haven’t seen any monsters so far. It’s probably because the people who were free in the village have already driven off the powerful monsters, so Megumin and the rest of you can have your field training… Oh, found one!”
Bukkoroli, who was walking in front, lowered his voice.
Following his gaze, we saw a black creature digging for tree roots.
This One Strike Bear had powerful forelimbs that can decapitate a man with one strike.
“One Strike Bear. Its liver can be sold for a good price… Good.”
Bukkoroli started casting, then…
“Light of Refraction.”
He activated his spell.
At the same time, Bukkoroli vanished before us.
He probably used an invisibility magic that utilized light refraction.
Judging from the grass being trampled, he was approaching while still invisible.
At this moment, the One Strike Bear suddenly stood up and sniffed at its surroundings.
It looked towards us.
From our hiding place, our eyes met with those of the One Strike Bear. It roared excitedly as it found prey, and charged at us.
“Yunyun, you have a dagger, right…! Take it out! My cool rival Yunyun, please fight for me!”
“Normally you would just patronize me. Don’t wait for times like this to treat me as a rival, okay!? A dagger like this won’t work against this kind of monster!”
We couldn’t run away even if we wanted to. The One Strike Bear was too fast!
Where was Bukkoroli?
“Where did that NEET go? Hurry up and defeat it!”
“Ah! Don’t come here!”
Just as the One Strike Bear was almost on top of us.
“Light of Saber!”
Bukkoroli suddenly appeared out of nowhere, and slashed with his hand as he shouted.
A flash of light emitted from his hand.
The light passed through the One Strike Bear from behind.
From its shoulder to its belly, the light flashed past. The One Strike Bear took a few steps towards us and fell, neatly bisected along that line
“Phew… Normally, even if it smelled me, it would only look around and relax soon after… Are you two alright? My timing is perfect, right? If Soketto is in danger and I appeared just like this… Ouch! Hey, wait! Sorry, no, waiting for the perfect moment to debut should be the standard thing to do for the Crimson Demons!”
Yunyun and I continually hit Bukkoroli’s shoulders without saying a word.
“—Seriously, don’t joke around in such a dangerous place. If we don’t clean up the corpse immediately, other monsters will smell the blood and come over.”
After falling over, Bukkoroli finally stood up, and swept away the dirt on his clothes.
“After making us angry, you’re still shameless enough to say this? Quickly retrieve the bear’s liver, and lets leave this place.”
When Crimson Demons hunted in a group, they would intentionally leave the corpse to lure other monsters over.
But we only have this NEET as our fighting force.
Yunyun pulled on my clothes.
I looked towards her. Yunyun’s face was pale, and she was looking behind us.
“Ov- Over there…”
She shivered slightly, and pointed in a direction.
I had a very bad feeling about it, and turned to look…!
“Run! Bukkoroli, forget the bear’s liver! The battle is lost!”
“Waaahhhh! Wait, wait for meeeee!”
That was an entire sleuth* of One Strike Bears, angry over the killing.
Note (*): Yes, a sleuth of bears… See https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/sleuth
“—Yunyun, it is almost noon. We should go back.”
“Yeah, then I’ll see you tomorrow in school.”
“Wait! Don’t abandon me, you two! Please…!”
After we escaped back to the village, we intended to go home, but Bukkoroli shamelessly pestered us.
He was covered in mud after luring away the entire sleuth of One Strike Bears.
He looked really dirty, and he was even crying pathetically before us. Seeing a NEET who was older than us act like this, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him…
“…Sigh. I understand. As an adult, please don’t kneel before a student. We will keep you company for a little while more… But what should we do? The plan to let her foretell Bukkoroli’s future lover is already…”
“By the way, why would One Strike Bears gather in groups? One Strike Bears are not social animals by nature…”
Bukkoroli complained in despair.
“Father also mentioned that the situation in the forest is very strange recently. Maybe it’s related to the appearance of those strange monsters?”
Yunyun raised the question, deep in thought. But there was no way for us to know the answer.
“In any case, it will be pointless staying here. Let’s go back to Soketto’s shop.”
—We walked towards her shop as I suggested…
“…There’s a sign saying the shop is closed. Did Soketto-san leave for somewhere?”
Bukkoroli patted hard on our shoulders…
“I know all about Soketto, we’re really close after all. Firstly, Soketto will wake up at 7am, such a healthy lifestyle. Then, she’ll toss the bed sheet into the laundry basket, and prepare breakfast. But Soketto eats udon noodles daily. How deep is her love for udon? She’ll boil the water in the pot, and brush her teeth in the meantime, so efficient. Her face is pretty, and she’s smart too. Soketto is so clever. After eating the noodles, she’ll wash the utensils for breakfast and the previous night’s dinner. She soaks the cutlery used the previous night in water, so clever. She’ll make a good wife. Soketto will then take a bath. To bathe in the morning, she’s so hygienic. She bathes in the morning and night, that’s why her skin is so smooth and lovely. After bathing, she’ll put her clothes into the laundry basket and wash them. This is it. This is a serious problem. Because she washes her clothes immediately, it’s troublesome for me. No, nothing troublesome. Yeah, really, it doesn’t bother me, actually… It really doesn’t bother me. After all, I didn’t do anything obscene. After washing her clothes, she’ll go for a walk. Soketto’s lifestyle is so healthy. After a short walk, she’ll go to her shop. As you have already seen, she’ll clean her shop. She really loves cleanliness, and she’s so good at housework. After cleaning, she’ll enter and stay in the shop. It must be boring to stay inside the shop. If I had the money, I’d visit her every day. If there are no customers, Soketto will feel bored and go outside to do stretching exercises or look around to see if anyone is coming, she looks so cute. She’s not just pretty, but cute as well. This is definitely foul play. Soketto is so cute. She’ll then close the shop and run off somewhere, just abandoning her business like that. She’s so free-spirited, or should I say, she is freedom exemplified. Look, I’m a NEET devoted to freedom. In this aspect, we are compatible. Well, let’s leave it here for now. It should be two hours before Soketto returns. Although waiting here is fine too… what should we do?”
With his eyes sparkling, Bukkoroli provided intensely detailed information.
“…It seems like you’re always looking at her. So scary… How do you know so many details?”
“Whenever I’m free, I’ll come here and investigate. And I’m not bragging when I say I’m the freest person in the village.”
He really wasn’t bragging.
“This, this must be what is known as a stalker.”
“Hey, Yunyun, if you say that again, I won’t forgive you even if you are the chief’s daughter.”
This man… It might be beneficial to society if we knocked him out and buried him alive.
“In any case, there’s nothing we can do if Soketto isn’t here. So let’s leave today…”
Yunyun nodded as well, affirming my suggestion.
“No matter. I know where she will be going.”
Bukkoroli said confidently.
“She’s really here.”
I didn’t know if we should be happy that we found her, or if we should hand Bukkoroli over to the police for knowing so much about her.
Led by Bukkoroli, we harbored mixed feelings as we watched Soketto from a distance. She was picking items in a convenience store.
“How is it? I’m someone who can accomplish something if I set my mind on it. This degree of investigation is simple enough.”
I already said this was not an investigation, but a stalking…
“…Anyway, she’s outside the shop this time. Even if we go over to talk, it won’t seem unnatural. Yunyun and I will nonchalantly ask her preferred type of guys. Go, Yunyun. Coordinate with me.”
“I understand. Let’s ask quickly and put this worrying matter to rest.”
I brought along the weary Yunyun, and entered the convenience store where Soketto was.
“Hey, Yunyun, look. Isn’t this cute?”
“Rea- Really cute! If you give this to your loved one, surely… Uh? You mean this? This wooden sword with the carvings of a dragon!?”
I started such a perfect opening, yet Yunyun spoiled the effect with her unnecessary additions.
“Yunyun, be serious and go along with my topic!”
“Bu- But, Megumin’s taste is too weird! No matter what, I can’t accept this!”
As we were whispering to each other, Soketto came beside me.
“Ah, so cute. The carved dragon is beautiful. It’d look good on you if you wear it on your waist while out for a stroll.”
Hearing Soketto’s words, Yunyun exclaimed loudly.
“Truly, this is a practical and cute high-quality item… By the way, I’d like to nonchalantly ask, what do you like… Yunyun, what are you doing!?”
Just as I was about to naturally ask Soketto what she liked, Yunyun suddenly interrupted me by pulling my arm.
“You’re not being natural at all! Anyway, is my taste really weird? Is the weird one really me? I can’t see what’s so cute about this wooden sword!”
“Yunyun’s taste has always been weird. You even gave my cat a weird name like ‘Kuro’… Ahah!”
As we were arguing softly, Soketto bought her items and left the shop.
“What were you doing? The initial development wasn’t bad!”
Bukkoroli came over to us, who were still arguing.
“Hey, you two, what are you doing?! Soketto has already left!”
“Sigh. I was just one move short, because of her unexpected interference… Anyway, why would a dangerous person who hangs a dagger by her waist every day dislike a wooden sword?! Enough, how long are you going to grumble? We should be leaving!”
“Don’t compare my beautiful dagger to that kind of wooden sword!”
“The two of you. If you want to quarrel, do it later!”
—Soketto held the wooden sword previously dubbed as “very cute” in her hands, walking happily before us.
“…For Soketto to walk and swing the wooden sword at the same time… This behavior is also very cute…”
“In the eyes of others, she’s probably just a dangerous person.”
I listened to their lightly-muttered argument, and observed Soketto, who was swinging the wooden sword back and forth in one hand.
We were using Bukkoroli’s magic to follow her invisibly from behind.
“It looks like she really likes that wooden sword. Ah, she’s using that sword to slash at the leaves falling from the tree. Is she going to train?”
Unaware of us following behind, Soketto used the wooden sword to hit the tree branches, and even started kicking it to get the leaves to fall.
“I, I say, what do you like about Soketto-san? Is she still in your strike zone even as she is currently kicking the tree?”
“It’s her looks. I like Soketto’s face and body figure. If it’s a beauty, even those actions can be considered as cute.”
Hearing Bukkoroli speak without hesitation — or rather, without delusion — Yunyun had nothing more to say. I suddenly thought of an plan.
“Bukkoroli. Why not pretend to casually walk by and nonchalantly help her, how about that? You can use wind magic to blow the leaves down the tree and help her train.”
“This is it! You are truly the top genius of the Crimson Demons! Megumin’s intellect is so sharp!”
“Ah! I, I also thought of a way for Bukkoroli-san to be popular with girls! For example, comb your messy hair after waking up, and find a job or something…”
He didn’t listen to Yunyun, who was trying to compete with me again. Instead, he maintained his invisibility and moved close to Soketto.
Soketto was blown off into the sky by Bukkoroli’s tornado—
“Is that guy an idiot!? That guy is an idiot!”
“Let’s bury him. Bury this damned NEET and forget about it!”
After ensuring that Soketto was unharmed, we hurriedly left the scene, and strangled Bukkoroli’s neck.
“Wait! Both of you, calm down! Also, be quiet! Or we’ll be discovered!”
After being blown into the sky, Soketto used her own wind magic to maintain her balance and return to the ground with some difficulty. The paleness of her face could be seen clearly even from a long distance.
She looked around with bloodshot eyes, perhaps looking for the criminal who used the wind magic.
Bukkoroli’s magic imposed optical camouflage on our surroundings. As long as our actions are not too extreme, Soketto would not be able to find us.
At this moment, Yunyun tightly grabbed Bukkoroli’s chest, and interrogated him quietly.
“Don’t you like Soketto-san!? Then why did you use such deadly magic!?”
“No, no! I can only use Advanced Magic, so I don’t know any weaker spells…! Actually, I wanted to blow the leaves off at the start! But I realized that when the wind magic gets near her, her skirt will…”
“Let’s bury him.”
“Yes, bury him.”
“Wait, wait! Please, listen to me!”
While we were still arguing, Soketto had already walked off with a vexed expression.
It looked like she gave up searching for the criminal.
“Yes… No matter what, it’s good that she’s not hurt. And… we also know what color she likes to wear. This is great.”
Yunyun and I shouted together:
“Hey, hey, Wait—!”
—It was almost time for lunch.
I should go back early to have lunch with Komekko…
“Wait! You two, don’t just abandon me like this!”
I would handle the laundry that were piling up, then play with her for a while…
“I’m begging you, don’t ignore me! This is too much! I used so much effort to avoid discovery earlier! She nearly saw my face!”
Then, bathe with her, and wash that furball as well…
“I’m begging you! Pleasseee!”
“You’re so noisy! Can you not follow us? Or have you decided to include us in your stalking list!? You should give up while it’s still early and find an easier target!”
“As Megumin said, give up early… By the way, there’s a somewhat cute monster called Tranquility Girl near the village…”
“Why are you giving me such information? Are you asking me to make do with some monster!? You look so honest! I can’t believe you said something so excessive!”
The stalker cried out loudly as we decided to go home once more.
—After shaking off Soketto’s pursuit with some difficulty, Bukkoroli had been pestering us ever since.
“…Seriously, it’s useless no matter how much you beg. We’re not as idle as you. Students are different from NEETs; our rest time is very important.”
“Please make time for me! I will treat both of you to lunch!”
Bukkoroli bowed his head and placed his hands together as if he was praying.
“We’re not kids. We won’t be taken in by such tricks, right, Megumin… Eh?”
Yunyun looked at me, who had willingly left with Bukkoroli, and cried out.
“First, let’s grab some food. We’ll have a strategy meeting while eating.”
“Hey, Megumin, is this really okay!? …I, I will help too, don’t leave me behind!”
—In the village’s only café.
“In any case, the main issue is creating an opportunity.”
I raised my index finger as I ate the mutton sandwich in large bites.
Bukkoroli hungrily watched Yunyun and I eat our lunch.
This NEET spent almost his entire savings to treat us to a meal.
“Exactly. Currently, you have no relationship whatsoever with Soketto, right? Therefore, Yunyun and I will be responsible for getting you to know her. Actually, the best way is to be a frequent customer at her shop, but this is impossible for someone with no income. So, let’s create the opportunity for the two of you to meet.”
“I, I understand!”
“Hey, how are you going to create that opportunity? Do you have a plan?”
Hearing Yunyun’s words, I finished up the fruit juice after the meal.
“Very simple. Firstly, Yunyun will wear a mask and attack Soketto with her dagger. Bukkoroli will then coincidentally pass by…”
“It is decided then!”
“No! Are you an idiot!? You’re an idiot, aren’t you!?”
At this time, the coffee shop owner said to us.
“It seems like I’ve been hearing Sokketto’s name a lot just now. What do you want with her? She went into the forest with a wooden sword.”
“No, it’s nothing… Forest?”
Hearing the shopkeeper’s words, Yunyun and I looked at each other.
Maybe he realized our intentions.
Bukkoroli said with self-satisfaction—
“The forest huh. Soketto goes into the forest every day. That’s part of her daily schedule. Since she likes training, she will visit the forest to hunt monsters alone. She likes Fire Drakes, particularly freezing the Fire Drake and laughing as she stares at it. Speaking of which, her hobby is very similar to mine. As you know, I’m a NEET and have a lot of time to spare, that’s where the ice comes in. I’ll freeze water into ice and watch the ice melt to idle away the entire day. I think this is similar to Soketto’s hobby, right? Hmm, It’s not? Sigh, never mind, whatever. Anyway, Soketto enters the forest daily to train, and her combat style is very elegant. She seems to like lightning magic. The lightning effect is very beautiful after all. I think it matches the beautiful Soketto very well. Sorry, I’m derailing the topic again. And so, if she enters the forest at this time, it is definitely for training. She should be reaching Level 50 soon, so amazing, not many Crimson Demons are at Level 50. She can be considered a first rate adventurer. Beautiful, cute, and powerful, that’s foul play, Soketto is so amazing. Soketto looks so pretty when she fights. The Soketto that just finished fighting makes my heart skip. Her sweat sticks her beautiful black hair to her fair cheeks and the nape of her neck. That’s definitely foul play, Soketto is so foul play, so how can I not burn with desire? I wish she could take the responsibility to the end, really. But forget it, it doesn’t matter. No, actually it matters, but it’s fine now. In any case, entering the forest at this time means she’s training. There’s no mistake. She should be laughing and chasing a One Strike Bear, or freezing a Fire Drake’s feet happily and having fun right now. I want to see, I really want to see, why don’t we go and take a look? Yes, it’s decided then, let’s go. And we can enjoy Soketto’s smile together, it’s settled then. Yes, let’s do it!”
“You’re really scary. Nevermind this dangerous personal data, the important thing now is…! When we entered the forest earlier, we were attacked by a sleuth of One Strike Bears, right? I heard the Monsters have been acting up lately. If Soketto enters the forest at this time…”
“Hey, hey, wait. Is this really okay!? Hey, since there are witness reports of strange monster attacks, why not ask the villagers to…”
Yunyun and I exchanged words. Bukkoroli coughed softly, and stood up.
“We must go…”
Spoken like a male protagonist who knew that the heroine was in danger.
Surprised, Yunyun looked at the serious-looking Bukkoroli.
“I will enter the forest immediately! I will find Soketto as soon as possible…!”
Hearing this, Yunyun’s face suddenly seemed to glow.
“This, this is it! This is it! The Bukkoroli-san from a moment ago… feels so very…!”
Yunyun clenched her fists and sighed sentimentally.
“Soketto could’ve already been attacked by the sleuth of One Strike Bears…! If I made a dramatic entrance again, what would happen? If I saved Soketto from danger, can I reach my goal in one move!? …? Yunyun, what did you want to say earlier?”
“No, I just felt that you deserve to be eaten by a One Strike Bear.”
We entered the forest again, only to find that it has changed completely.
“…What happened here? It seems like there was a really intense fight.”
There were signs of combat at the forest entrance.
The nearby trees were all burnt, probably by the use of fire or lightning magic.
And between the blackened trees lay the smoking corpse of a One Strike Bear.
“The charred smell of the trees hasn’t dispersed yet. It seems the magic user is still nearby.”
Bukkoroli said after checking the combat scene. He raised his alertness and went forward.
“By the way, we can’t use magic yet, so aren’t we a liability? Why should we follow? If a One Strike Bear appears, the only thing we can do is scream and run away.”
“Yeah, to be honest, I really want to go home…”
“What are you saying? If I met Soketto by myself, there’s no way I’ll be able to hold a conversation with her. To be honest, when faced with a woman of my age in the village, I have no confidence that I can start a conversation.”
“What’s the use of saying this in such a cocky manner? Yunyun, you tell him too… Yunyun?”
“!? Wha- What!?”
Yunyun was in shock after the topic of communication barriers was brought up. She suspiciously looked away.
…Right, there was another person here with communication barriers.
—At this instant.
A flash of light descended from the sky to the ground not far from here.
Following someone’s shout, a flash of light from the sky illuminated the trees. Lightning descended with a thunderous sound.
The One Strike Bear that was struck by the lightning fell over with black smoke rising from its head.
Perhaps due to the instinct of wild animals, the other One Strike Bears kept their distance and shivered in fear at the thunderous roar.
A woman with flaming crimson eyes stood in the midst of them.
Holding the wooden sword, red-eyed Soketto happily began casting her spell.
This must be the magic that charred the trees earlier.
As Soketto’s voice rang out, light flashed from the sky, penetrating the head of the One Strike Bear which was paralyzed by fear.
At the time when the second bear was defeated, Bukkoroli rushed forward.
His expression was different from his usual idle NEET look.
It was the look of a Crimson Demon, determined to protect his loved one.
His eyes glowing crimson, Bukkoroli began aggressively casting his spell and releasing a vast amount of mana.
Thereafter, the One Strike Bears noticed the presence of new enemies, and started taking action.
At this moment, he unleashed his magic.
“Hell fire, burn everything to ashes! Inferno!”
The highest level fire magic was unleashed at full power—!
…even engulfing Soketto in its area of effect.
“What are you doing, you NEET?! Quickly rescue her…!?”
Forget the One Strike Bears, even the surrounding trees were engulfed in flames. And Soketto, with her entire body wrapped in a thin layer of water, slowly walked towards us out of the fire.
It looked like she managed to react at the last moment and used a defensive water spell on herself.
“I-I’m so glad that she is safe…!”
“Yeah! My heart nearly jumped out…! Bukkoroli, douse the fire quickly! Or the entire forest will burn down!”
Hearing me, Bukkoroli hurriedly used water magic to extinguish the flames.
Although he was an indecent NEET, he was still a Crimson Demon who could use advanced magic.
Bukkoroli’s full-power attack annihilated the entire sleuth of One Strike Bears.
Now, there were sparks everywhere. With her defensive water layer removed, Soketto looked at Bukkoroli with moist eyes.
Was it because of battle? Or was there some other reason?
Soketto’s cheeks flushed crimson. She seemed to be struggling to decide what to say.
The nervous Bukkoroli blushed, and glanced straight at Soketto.
But, even though this NEET was somewhat cool earlier, he faltered at this crucial moment.
He was too nervous, unable to say anything.
“…There’s something Bukkoroli wanted to say to Soketto.”
My words caused the other three people to suck in their breath.
Yunyun’s face flushed red as she watched this development.
Bukkoroli was very nervous, as if he was accusing me for saying unnecessary things.
“As it happens, Bukkoroli. I have something I want to say to you too.”
Soketto said something unexpected, surprising me, Yunyun, and even Bukkoroli.
“This, this…! Don’t tell me, it is…!”
“Correct. My feelings must be the same as yours right now.”
Soketto smiled gently.
Seeing the smile of this beauty, Bukkoroli’s face became red like a tomato.
Was it because he saved her life while she was in danger?
Was this the suspension bridge effect that made one fall in love with whoever was present in the moment of danger?
I felt it wasn’t fair for this NEET to win the heart of the village’s most beautiful woman. But after seeing red-faced Yunyun’s sparkling eyes, I felt it wasn’t that bad.
Bukkoroli strengthened his resolve, clenched his fists, and said to Soketto—
“From the beginning, I, I…!”
“If you really hate me this much, just say it. As it happens, we are both in the forest now. I heard you were like me, often coming into the forest to train. Thus, you should be qualified to be my opponent… Come, let’s end this!”
The three of us cried out in surprise.
“I don’t know why you hate me so much! I mean, I’ve noticed you tailing me for some time now, but today is really something special! Never mind the tornado that nearly killed me in the village. This time, you even launched a sneak attack on me with hellfire while I was preparing to kill those monsters! You’re quite capable, alright. I’ve fought so many monsters, yet this is the first time I ended up in such a plight!”
Soketto held her wooden sword, and made an ominous sound, “Kacha!”
“No, no, no, no! It isn’t like that! You are mistaken! That magic earlier was meant to rescue you from being surrounded by monsters…! I’m very sorry you were engulfed in it. I didn’t control it properly just now!”
Bukkoroli’s face turned pale, and repeatedly shook his hands to explain. Soketto relaxed her grip on the wooden sword, and frowned.
“…Then, what was the tornado earlier about? And you were invisible, right? Your identity was exposed long ago. After all, you’re the only person to stalk me every day.”
Bukkoroli glanced at us. His eyes were begging for our assistance.
We pointed at Bukkoroli together and said.
“He said he wanted to flip up your skirt.”
Soketto raised her wooden sword, and slashed at Bukkoroli.
In the shop where pale violet curtains hung on all sides, Soketto let out a resigned sigh.
“Both of you have really been dragged into serious trouble. You must have been pestered by this pervert, and thus were forced to help him, right?”
After returning from the forest, we came to Soketto’s shop and tended to Bukkoroli’s wounds.
“Hey, don’t call me a pervert. My motives are pure. This was simply a mage’s pure desire for knowledge, wanting to find out what color the females of Crimson Demons like… I’m very sorry. That really wasn’t my intention. Please put away the wooden sword.”
Bukkoroli hurriedly explained as Soketto’s hand reached towards the wooden sword set against the wall.
Bukkoroli was in a horrible state after being subjected to the wooden sword. He was currently being bandaged by Yunyun.
Soketto looked at him and sighed deeply.
“…Seriously, if you wanted a divination so badly that you would hunt monsters in the forest to pay for the fee, you might as well come directly to me. At least, I can give you a discount for the first time.”
“Is that really okay!?”
—In the end, this cowardly NEET could not even say his real reason for entering the forest.
He only made up an excuse, “As I wanted my fortune told, I came to the forest to make some money.”
And even “coincidentally” encountered Soketto being surrounded by monsters, then “conveniently” used magic on her.
“I’ll ignore the tornado magic and nearly being burnt alive in the forest for now— But that was because you wanted to help me escape the encirclement of the monsters. Fine… What kind of divination do you desire? I’ll only do it once.”
Soketto took a crystal ball from within the room and brought it before Bukkoroli.
“I want to know, uh… my future girlfriend… no, wife… no, no, the person who will fall in love with me, maybe?”
Bukkoroli lost sight of his original intention in an instant.
“So it’s basically about your future lover. This crystal ball will show the woman who would very likely become your spouse. The future can be changed, so I cannot guarantee that this person will definitely… Oh, we should be seeing it soon…!”
Soketto’s crystal ball started to glow softly.
Finally, the glow faded…!
“…I didn’t see anything.”
Soketto was even more surprised now than when she was blown off by the tornado. She vigorously shook the crystal ball.
“Wait, wait a moment. I don’t know what’s going on. This shouldn’t be possible… Whoever it may be, he should at least have a prospective lover…!”
“You probably should keep such a hurtful revelation to yourself.”
Since the crystal ball showed nobody, that means Bukkoroli and Soketto could not possibly end up together.
Soketto looked at Bukkoroli, who was about to cry, in pity.
“…Uh, don’t worry, my divination is not 100% accurate… I divined the weather once when I was young, the prediction was cloudy weather for tomorrow, but it rained for about five minutes…”
“Please stop! I can’t make out whether you are trying to comfort me or brag about your predictive accuracy! This is more painful than a normal rejection!”
Yunyun and I kept a distance from them, and discussed softly.
“This is too pitiful even for a NEET. If the crystal ball showed nothing, that means even the woman-shaped monster that Yunyun joked about, the Tranquility Girl, would not love him…”
“What should I do? I, I did not think my joke would be this excessive…”
“You two! I heard that! If you really have to say it, please do so quietly!”
—After Bukkoroli nearly cried and left the shop.
“By the way, since I was busy with the divination earlier, I forgot about this— Leaving the two spells aside for now, why was he following me every day?”
“This… Please don’t ask anymore. This is for Bukkoroli’s sake.”
Hearing my reply, Soketto tilted her head in confusion.
She watched the silhouette of Bukkoroli, who was dragging his feet back home in despair.
“Although he’s a useless guy, he seems quite interesting. How mysterious…”
Soketto said as she tossed the crystal ball in her hand.
On the road, after leaving Soketto’s shop.
“It still failed in the end. In any case, I think Bukkoroli-san should find a job first…”
“They’re incompatible to start with. After all, I’ve been Bukkoroli’s neighbor since I was young, so I know him well. He’s completely useless.”
Yunyun, who was walking beside me, turned around after hearing this.
“He’s like Megumin’s older brother… Uh, no, you two should be considered childhood friends, right? Hey, Megumin, would you ever fall in love with Bukkoroli-san?”
I immediately rejected Yunyun as she entertained some foolish hope.
“Is, is that so… I have always been wondering. Does Megumin only desire food? Don’t you ever want to have a remarkable love affair?”
“I still have an onerous mission to complete. Now is not the time to be in heat.”
I replied bluntly, but Yunyun refused to stop pestering me.
“But, but, Megumin will become an adventurer one day. An adventurer would be a member of a party, eating and living together, helping each other out…”
“True. I heard that among adventurers, the chance of marrying a party member is rather high… but it probably won’t happen to me.”
“You sound so certain. Well, I can’t imagine a scene where Megumin sticks to a guy in an embarrassing manner…”
As we spoke, we arrived at my house.
“In any case, if I fall in love… it would be with a cool hero who never gives up in the face of adversity.”
“I feel that Megumin will unexpectedly marry an ordinary person…”
After bidding Yunyun farewell, I entered the house.
“Welcome home, nee-chan!”
Komekko ran over with Kuro in her arms.
Kuro appeared tired, allowing Komekko to carry it as she pleased. It must have gone through a lot during my time outside.
“Nee-chan, let’s eat dinner! There’s a lot of delicious food!”
…A lot of delicious food?
“Delicious food? What happened? You acquired food from someone else again?”
“Bukkoroli brought them. He said when I grow up, I will definitely become a beauty, then I must go to his house…”
Before Komekko finished talking, I charged out of the house and headed over to the shoe shop to beat someone up.
INTERLUDE: SCENE 3
—Crimson Demons’ Number 1 Femme Fatale Little Sister—
The puzzle was solved on the second day.
“…I hate those Crimson Demons.”
“I’m also a Crimson Demon.”
“Except for you.”
Hoost and I lay before the puzzle. We thought we would be done with it, but yet another different puzzle appeared on the third day.
“Ah, this won’t do. I can’t solve this. By the way, you probably can’t solve this puzzle either. Something of this level can’t possibly be solved by a kid.”
“Nee-chan said that when someone dampens your enthusiasm, you must keep moving forward.”
I lay on the ground, swinging my legs and working on the puzzle at the same time.
“Hey, you’re being improper. Your feet are muddy. Sigh…”
Hoost cleared away the mud on my cloak while I concentrated on the puzzle.
“…Hey, what’s this, you’re quite competent! You’ll solve it in no time like this! Uh, what’s wrong? Are you stuck somewhere?”
I put the pieces of the half-done puzzle on the ground, and closed my eyes. It had been going without a hitch so far.
“I’m tired of this.”
“I beg you, Komekko! You already came so far, don’t give up now! Do you want to eat something!? You must be hungry! I’ll bring some food immediately.”
Hearing this, I got up and continued solving the puzzle.
“Good, good! Maintain this attitude! I’ll be right back with some food!”
Hoost spread his wings and flew off.
“Ah! I want to go too! Bring me along!”
“Id- Idiot! I can’t bring a brat like you into the forest! A brat like you would be eaten by monsters in an instant!”
“I want to go! I want to go! Hoost is strong, so it’s okay!”
“Well, it’s true that I’m strong! After all, whenever I entered the forest, the other monsters would run away!”
“Lord Hoost is so cool!”
—In the end, Hoost was persuaded.
“—Ha… Ha…! You, you are messing around too much! Hey, you’re nearly falling off!”
“There’s a huge lizard over there! Hoost, that one! Catch that lizard!”
“Listen to me when I’m speaking!”
Hoost carried me into the forest in his arms.
“…You see, it’s your fault, Komekko. It ran away because you shouted so loudly. Many monsters would run away after sniffing the scent of a greater devil like me. I frequently go into the forest in order to find food for you. There should be a bunch of monsters that escaped wandering around the entrance of the forest.”
“…After I grow up and become strong, will I frighten away monsters too?”
“Who knows? No matter how strong you get, a little bean sprout like you probably won’t scare away monsters! Hahahaha!”
Hoost laughed as he put me down. At this moment, there was movement in the trees before us.
“Oh, it still is coming over even after sensing my presence? This one must be pretty strong.”
“Hey, if I frighten off the monster here, does it mean I’m stronger than Hoost?”
“Pffthahaha! Oh, oh no, my belly hurts! Hahaha. Well, if this is true, you are really stronger than me. But, this forest is home to many frightening monsters… Once you see them, you better not pee your pants.”
“I don’t pee my pants! I will chase it off!”
Hearing this, Hoost laughed heartily.
“Oh, if you think you can do it, you should try it! If you can drive it away, I will call you Lady Komekko from now on!”
From among the rustling trees, a huge bear suddenly emerged.
“…One Strike Bear. Even a sleuth of them. Dealing with this many is difficult indeed. No other choice. I’ll spare them this time…”
Hoost said and turned his back.
At this moment, I charged towards the bears.
—Hoost cried out and charged towards the bears.