THE LONELY CRIMSON DEMON GIRL
TL: Sine Nomine
Editing: Cannongerbil, Skythewood, Verithaum, Xenthur
“Megumin! We must have a match today, understand?”
Due to the weather-control effects of a particular teacher, there was a clear blue sky today.
When I entered the classroom, I was immediately pestered by Yunyun.
For some reason, she was in a really good mood.
—I understood the reason.
The silver dagger purchased a few days ago was hanging by her waist.
She intentionally touched it a few times to draw my attention to it. So annoying.
Did she want me to say that the dagger suited her?
I was not her boyfriend. I didn’t want to accommodate such a troublesome attitude.
“No problem, I accept. But I don’t have any potions left to wager. How should we go about it?”
“Wager… If I win, Megumin will have to obey one command from me…”
“Okay. The match content will be biased towards you then. How about you use that cool dagger by your waist to settle this?”
“Use this dagger? Okay. I don’t know what you’re going for, but I accept!”
I led the confident Yunyun to my seat, putting my palm on the desk.
“Please use your dagger to continuously stab the space between my fingers. I’ll count to ten, and if you don’t miss the spaces before then, you win. Simple, right?”
“Wait! Wait! No, no, this is definitely a no!”
“No problem, I believe in Yunyun’s ability. Even if I get stabbed, I will endure the pain. Then let’s start! One! Two!”
“Never mind! I surrender!”
The usual scene played out today.
“…Ah. Thanks for the treat. The taste is great today as well.”
“Yes… I want to have a serious match from time to time…”
Yunyun choked on her words as she took the meal box from me.
“…By the way, Yunyun, how many more skill points do you need to learn advanced magic?”
“Points? Another… three points. I can learn advanced magic with three more points. At that time… I will graduate… How many more points does Megumin need?”
In the Crimson Demon school, a student would graduate whenever they learned magic.
Hearing Yunyun’s question, I looked at my adventurer’s card, which displayed 46 skill points.
In the skill list, the words “Learning advanced magic requires 30 skill points” were glowing.
But I wanted to learn Explosion magic. To learn that, I still needed…
“Still short of four points, which means Yunyun will graduate before me.”
“Eh!? Wait, Megumin’s results have always been good, so why do you have fewer points than me? More importantly… Ah!? I’m going to graduate alone…!”
As Yunyun became worried, the homeroom teacher arrived.
The noisy classroom quieted down. Standing on the podium, the teacher held the name list.
“Taking attendance now.”
The classmates responded when they were called.
“…Dodonko! Nerimaki! Funifura!”
Since there were only 11 students in this classroom, my turn came quickly.
“Megumin! …also Yunyun!”
“Present! …Teacher, what’s with this? You said ‘also’, right? Did you almost forget about me again?”
“Okay, okay, starting lesson… or so I’d like to say. Recently, the monsters near the village are getting active. The principal asked me to lead the hikikomori*… no, the people with free time to hunt monsters. You can go home in the afternoon. It will be self-study in the library during the morning.”
Note (*): See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikikomori
Yunyun became teary-eyed as she was ignored. The teacher left after speaking.
—This was the Crimson Demon Village that even the demon king feared.
Monsters were rarely active here.
The nearby monsters usually would not come near the village…
I looked for books in the library, while still being bothered by this issue.
I wanted to read the sequel of the book I read a few days ago.
“Rhodes the Untamed” Volume 2, “Rhodes the Untamed” Volume 2…
“Yunyun, I’m looking for that book in your hands. You have taken so many books. If you are not reading it immediately, can I borrow it first?”
Yunyun was holding “Rhodes the Untamed” Volume 2 and a few other books.
“Uh… sure, Megumin reads this type of books too? Here, for you.”
Yunyun handed me “You Can Even Communicate With Goblins” and “Be Friends With Monsters”.
“Who says I wanted those?! I’m talking about ‘Rhodes the Untamed’!”
“Eh? Megumin likes this? This book is very interesting. I’ve already read it a few times! Volume 2 ‘The False King Appears’ has an unexpected ending with the old king and his two retainers leaving on a journey…”
“Please, no spoilers! …By the way, what’s with your other book choices? The titles are really… Too painful.”
“Don’t be like this, Megumin. Why are you looking at me with such sympathetic eyes! Look here, even a cactus has feelings, right? That means, it’s possible to be friends with plants…!”
…What was it with this girl?
“I can’t stand you. If you want friends so much, just cancel your declaration of me as your rival…”
“—Hey, Yunyun. Are you still reading such books? If you want friends so much, I can also be your friend.”
I turned to look at the person who interrupted. It’s the classmate who talked to Yunyun previously… classmate… what’s her name?
“Isn’t it Funikura or something? Friends aren’t made intentionally, but naturally.”
“My name is Funifura! Please remember your classmate’s name!”
Yunyun suddenly came close to the fuming Funifura.
“What did you say? J-just what did you say!?”
“Hey, you’re standing too close. Your face is too close! I only said that we can be friends…”
Faced with Yunyun drawing herself closer with a serious expression, Funifura quickly explained as she slowly backed away.
Hearing her, Yunyun blushed and nodded a few times.
Oh… Yunyun, the forever alone, finally had a friend!
Although my worry for Yunyun’s future was a bit unasked for, I could be at ease…!
“Ugh… I’m inexperienced, please guide me along!”
“Hey, Yunyun, do you know what ‘friend’ means? Do you really know?”
…I could… be at ease… probably.
“Hey, Yunyun! I’ll give you a new one! It’s just a rubber band for tying hair. I’ll just give you a new one if you lose it! Megumin already repented, so it’s not an issue!”
“But, but…! This is the first gift I received from a friend…!”
—I totally could not be at ease.
Funifura wanted Yunyun to be a bit prettier, so she gave her a rubber band.
Yunyun was overjoyed to receive a gift. She went out of her way back to the classroom, and carefully kept it in the desk. Then—
“Why did Megumin search my desk!? Why did you play and shoot off my rubber band! Are you a 3-year-old kid!?”
I got bored of reading, and returned to the classroom early. I snapped and shot the rubber band out of the window. That was all.
—I was kneeling on the classroom floor.
“It’s not that. Look, there’s a bug on the tree outside the window. I’m very bothered by such bugs, so I wanted to shoot it down. I used up all my rubber bands, so I have no choice but to borrow yours…”
“It’s not ‘no choice’. This aren’t the sort of games a girl should be playing. I can’t stand you…!”
Yunyun looked at me bowing my head, and sighed.
“Funifura, sorry! It’s so difficult for me to receive a gift! I originally intended to keep it in my safe at home…!”
“No need to be like that! It’s ridiculous! Rubber bands are meant to be used!”
Funifura off-handedly said. Seems like she’s feeling a bit scared of Yunyun.
“Forget about it. It’s almost lunch time. Let’s ask Dodonko to eat with us.”
“Can, can I? Eating lunch together, it’s like being friends!”
“I said before, we’re already friends!”
Yunyun’s loneliness was a sickness that had developed too far.
“Indeed, it’s almost lunch time, so let’s go quickly.”
I, who was ordered to sit straight on the floor, stood up, ready to follow them…
“…Megumin, did you bring a packed lunch?”
“This won’t do.”
I replied, and Funifura shot me down.
It is a good thing for Yunyun to make friends.
But at the same time, the poor me would lose my important supply line.
I looked worriedly at Yunyun, who was preparing to leave with her lunch box.
“Megumin, hm… if it’s half… Hey, don’t hug me! Also, don’t worship me!”
—But, as the saying went, three women made up a drama.
“That person is definitely interested in me! But what do I do? I already have someone whom I made a life-long promise with in my previous life. Would this be more or less adultery?”
“It doesn’t matter. The previous life is not this life. My fated partner is set… no, should be the handsome guy who was sealed in the deepest dungeon, so I must learn advanced magic fast to rescue him.”
What was this unbearable conversation?
“Is that so? The two of you are incredible!”
Yunyun nervously smiled and off-handedly responded.
As I ate lunch with my classmates Funifura and Dodonko, and all they talked about is matters of love.
They seemed to have their ideal lovers and reality mixed up.
“What about Yunyun? Your type… no, your lover in the previous life, what is he like?”
Dodonko asked as she forked her salad.
“Me? I don’t have memories of past lives… A mature and stable person, who can gently listen to my daily affairs…”
“This can’t be helped. Yunyun is a weird person, after all. By the way, my previous life should be a god of destruction, so I had no lover. Ah, I’m full, so tasty.”
“Weird person!? Hey, am I really weird? Also, Megumin— I said I’ll give you half! Why did you eat it all?!”
On the way home from school.
“Great, Yunyun finally has friends. I even suspected that Yunyun was a giant isopod* in her previous life and will be lonely forever. I was so worried.”
Note (*): See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_isopod
I said to the overjoyed Yunyun.
“I didn’t choose to be alone! …Megumin, your mouth. Ah, a girl should be conscious of her appearance. There’s some soy sauce.”
Yunyun said and used her handkerchief to wipe my mouth, just like my mother.
“I used to think that Yunyun is a child who couldn’t fit into society and will be easily tricked by any bad guy who pretends to be her friend. Now, I can rest easy.”
“I used to think that Megumin is a child who lacks the means to survive, and will be easily tricked by any bad guy who treats her to a meal. Now, I can rest easy.”
Yunyun, who was wiping my mouth, and I stared at each other, and immediately backed away.
“You said something very strange. You mean I’m a stupid girl who will blindly follow a bad guy for a meal?”
“That’s who you are. Besides, you underestimated me. You think I’m a frivolous girl who will blindly follow a bad guy just to make friends?”
I confronted Yunyun by the roadside, smiling viciously.
“Ah, I can easily imagine a future in which Yunyun is at the beck and call of a useless guy who told her ‘Let’s be friends.’”
“I can also imagine Megumin being at a loss and begging a useless guy for a meal!”
…It looked like it was time to settle the score with this self-proclaimed rival.
I took on a defensive position. Yunyun became wary.
In this hair-trigger moment, a sound suddenly interrupted.
“Eh? Isn’t this Megumin who lives nearby?”
I turned and looked. It was the shoemaker’s son who lived near my house.
“Isn’t that Bukkoroli? What are you doing here?”
To me and Komekko, he is a neighbor who is like a big brother. But he idled around every day, declaring that he needed to conserve his power before the world needed him.
It is rare for him to be wandering outside.
“The monsters are getting active, even coming close to the village. I was driving the nearby monsters away. Ah, since I was told ‘Now is the time to use your reserved power!’, I have been full of adrenaline.”
Oh, yes. The homeroom teacher mentioned something about leading the hikikomori in the village to hunt monsters.
He was merely being forced to work, but seeing his self-satisfied look, I decided not to spoil his mood.
“Oh, there are even monsters that you do not usually see. What’s the name? To think that such monsters exist near the village…”
Bukkoroli said softly and made eye contact with Yunyun.
“…Mine name is Bukkoroli, an Archmage who wields advanced magic… the son and successor of the top shoe-maker in the Crimson Demon Village…! You must be the chief’s daughter. Pleased to meet you.”
“Ah! Yes, I’m Yunyun. Please to meet you…”
Bukkoroli made his exaggerated self-introduction. Embarrassed, Yunyun lowered her head and introduced herself softly.
It is rare for her to have a chance to introduce herself. This little girl is really strange.
“What are you two doing? There’s a strange tension in the air, like a battle might erupt at any moment.”
“Yes! This woman and I are about to have a death duel to determine who is stronger! Yunyun, let’s start!”
“Wait! Aren’t we having a normal match? I don’t have the resolve to go that far!”
I opened the loosely-closed door of my house, and greeted the darkness.
Following the sound of footsteps, a welcoming voice said.
“Welcome home, nee-chan!”
Komekko ran forward, smiling.
Her face and robe were covered in mud.
It looked like she went out to play again.
“Komekko, I don’t know where you went, but monsters are appearing near the village. Someone said that he encountered a strange monster, so try not to go out.”
“Okay! I will try not to go out!”
“…More accurately, it should be ‘Do not go out.’”
Komekko handed me a piece of paper.
“…? What is this?”
“A pretty woman came by. She looked a little ill. She asked, ‘Is there a magic item artisan here?’ I answered, ‘No magic item artisan.’ She whispered, ‘Is that so.’ And left after giving me this.”
…? I looked closely; this appeared to be an order form for magic items.
At the edge, in a beautifully written script:
“I’m impressed by the many excellent magic items you have created. Please maintain good business contact with my shop…”
There were also praises for my father at the back.
…Father is a magic item artisan.
But, even though his magic items have great power, all of them were flawed.
I did not know where this shopkeeper came from, but she probably confused my father with someone else.
Otherwise, this shopkeeper’s business sense must really be abnormal.
“Yeah. If she wasn’t confused, then it must be mocking us. Her shop’s location is the city of rookies, Axel. The shop name is…”
—Before I finished reading, Komekko pulled my sleeves.
“Nee-chan, I’m hungry! Make dinner! I’ve prepared the ingredients!”
“Fine, I’ll make some food for you today… but there aren’t many ingredients left, just some vegetables.”
Komekko dragged me to the kitchen. The pot, plates, and seasoning were all prepared.
There were also some cut vegetables.
I was thinking of making vegetable soup, when I suddenly heard a soft sound coming from the pot.
I removed the pot cover. Inside it was…
“…Komekko, wait for it to be fatter before eating.”
“It’s fatter today when compared to yesterday! When can we eat it? Tomorrow?”
“Let’s wait a few more days.”
I fed Komekko a lot for breakfast today, so I thought it would be okay to leave Kuro at home. It looked like I still have to bring it along to school.
—After deciding this, I picked Kuro out of the pot.
Today was a school holiday.
This was a really scary day, especially for me. It might even be called unbearable.
The reason was…
“Nee-chan, good morning! No school today, right? Let’s eat breakfast!”
“…Komekko, mother should have prepared breakfast before leaving home. You can eat my share as well. I can conserve my calories, so I don’t want to do anything today.”
I lay beneath the blanket without moving.
But Komekko did not leave.
“Nee-chan won’t be able to eat Yunyun’s breakfast if you don’t go to school. Let’s eat together!”
…Hearing this, I unknowingly got out of bed.
Without going to school, I couldn’t get food from Yunyun.
I would normally eat my breakfast in school, so I could leave my own portion to Komekko, who was still growing.
My gentle sister would invite me to share a meal during the holidays.
“It can’t be helped then. What’s for breakfast today?”
“Rice balls and salmon!”
“…That’s all we can do at the end of the month. But I don’t like salmon, so Komekko can have it.”
“…Then let’s feed it.”
Komekko said, looking at Kuro who came out of the blanket with me.
It seemed that she wanted to eat it.
I patted my gentle sister’s head…
…I urged my sister, who was drooling and staring at Kuro, to the kitchen.
“Kuro, do you want to eat the skin of my salmon?”
“The skin is nutritious, so make sure you finish everything.”
After eating with Komekko, I considered what to do for today.
—Father is a magic item artisan, but his products were flawed, so business wasn’t good.
Even if someone bought them, they would be sold at a heavily discounted price, so my family had always been poor.
At the end of each month, both my parents went to sell the magic items in town, leaving me and my sister together at home.
Father said they would leave this morning, and would not return for a few days.
There shouldn’t be much food left in the refrigerator.
“Komekko. I’m going into the village. Perhaps I can find some food…”
…Following the sound of something being bitten, Kuro cried out softly.
“…Did you bite Kuro again?”
“It doesn’t taste good when eaten raw.”
—I need to hurry.
“Komekko, be good. Your target is the old man. I will use my great charisma on the young man.”
“My sister is a Femme Fatale!”
“Eh, eh! Komekko, I don’t want to do this, but the situation in the refrigerator is really bad… We were just talking about him, and the sheep appears.”
Komekko hugged Kuro tightly like a doll. I took her hand, acting like a good sister, moving gradually towards the sheep.
“Isn’t this Bukkoroli, the handsome guy from the shoe shop? Good morning! Nice weather today.”
“…I have no work, so you can’t con money from me.”
Bukkoroli was practicing his poses for grand introductions in the yard. He warned me with a smile, making the first strike before I could say more.
I thought he was a useless hikikomori, but it seemed he should not be underestimated.
“I would never ask my respected Bukkoroli, who looked after me since I was young, for money. We’re just a bit hungry.”
“Where’s the respect? You’re just trying to scam me! I have no work and no lover, so there is no way I can steal food from my house for you. Sorry, you better find someone else…”
“Onii-chan, I’m really hungry!”
“Hold on, Komekko! Onii-chan will pilfer some food for you right now!”
I watched Bukkoroli run off, and said to my sister, whose hand I was still holding,
“…Starting from today, you may call yourself Femme Fatale Komekko.”
“Mine is the name of Komekko! Watching the house is my job. I am the Crimson Demons’ Number One Femme Fatale little sister!”
Thereafter, my Femme Fatale little sister received a lot of tributes.
“Megumin, you know what time it is, right!?”
For some reason, Yunyun was always in high spirits in the morning. She came to me as soon as I entered the classroom.
“I know, it’s breakfast time. Thanks for feeding the cat too.”
“What has breakfast time got to do with anything?! Why is my defeat a foregone conclusion… Eh, the cat? You mean Kuro’s meal? I have to feed Kuro too?!”
While Yunyun was shouting, I intentionally grabbed Kuro who was on my shoulder.
“I won’t mind if you are unwilling, but my family is not rich. If you don’t accept, it will starve…”
“I understand! I just have to feed it, right? But this will have to wait until Megumin wins! And if I have to prepare its food as well, today’s match content will be decided by me!”
“If you don’t agree… Eh? Is it really okay?”
I repeated myself to the suspicious Yunyun.
“No problem. Yunyun can decide on the content of today’s match.”
Hearing this, Yunyun’s face glowed. She secretly displayed a V hand sign to signify victory.
But her expression stiffened immediately.
“There will be only one match. You cannot say that I am only allowed to determine the content of one match out of three!”
“I won’t change my mind. Who do you take me for?”
I replied instantly, but Yunyun still remained wary of me.
“You won’t make excuses like… ‘The one you defeated is not the real me’, ‘That is not my real strength’, ‘You can only be the real winner if you defeat my second form’.”
“You still remember something from so long ago? By the way, I have four forms. If you win once today, I will admit defeat.”
Hearing this, Yunyun finally relaxed and sighed.
“Then… Then! The match will be arm wrestling! I won’t lose to the physically weak Megumin in this!”
Yunyun put her arm on her desk, rolled up her sleeve, and smiled confidently.
I put Kuro on the desk in sight of Yunyun, then rolled up my sleeve and readied my arm.
As we held hands tightly, our tall, eye patch-wearing classmate, Arue, became interested and came over.
“Arue, good timing. You will be the judge.”
“Sure. Nobody can cheat in the view of my demonic eye. Now, ready…!”
At my request, Arue exaggeratedly removed her eye patch, and knelt properly on the floor.
“Yunyun, if I win this time, you have to feed both Kuro and me. I don’t have any Skill Up Potion today. If you win, what do you want?”
“Eh? My request? Yes, yes, hm… then… to-, together… Starting from tomorrow morning, you will come to school together with me…”
Arue, who was sitting on the floor, placed her chin on the desk. Holding the desk, she shouted.
“Eh? Ahhhh! Wait! Ughhhh!”
I intended to act suddenly to win the instant Arue announced the start. But Yunyun managed to hold on.
Yunyun, who was physically stronger than me, was making a comeback.
Since a sneak attack did not work, I can only…!
“Ah… If this goes on, I won’t have breakfast to eat… Yunyun’s food is so tasty. I look forward to it every day…”
“!? Ev-, even if you say that, I must win against Megumin today! Then I’ll gain the title of the Crimson Demons’ top genius! I don’t want to merely be the chief’s daughter, but also gain other titles…!”
Yunyun seemed to be bothered by her special treatment as the chief’s daughter.
I originally thought Yunyun challenged me daily only because nobody else would socialize with her…
But I will never let go of my title as the Crimson Demons’ top genius…!
“Ah. If this goes on, not only me, even Kurosuke will starve…! My family is too poor to feed Kurobei. For my beloved Kurotaro’s sake, I cannot lose…”
“Ah!? That, that… If you care so much for it, don’t change its name randomly! You’re just making use of it to take advantage of my kindness!”
Yunyun slightly relaxed her arm as her conscience came under siege. We entered into a stalemate. Arue announced seriously:
“It is now a stalemate! There are 30 seconds left! If victory is not achieved within the remaining time, both parties will die!”
As I was surprised by Arue’s sudden addition to the rules, Kuro walked on the desk towards Yunyun.
It sniffed at our quivering arms, then started to act cute before Yunyun.
“St-, stop, Kuro. Even if I win, I’ll still feed you…! Don’t act so cute!”
“A pet belongs to her master! If I have nothing to eat, I’ll snatch Kuro’s food. You better understand this!”
“The winner is Megumin!”
Arue announced, raising my right arm up.
“Some time ago, I led the village’s hikikomori… no, brave free men to subjugate the monsters nearby. You should know, right? As a result, there are no strong monsters close to the village now. I ignored the weak monsters, clearing only the dangerous ones. Today’s lesson is field combat. In the fairly safe area near the village, we will use the Crimson Demons’ traditional method of power-leveling to raise everyone’s level. Everyone assemble in the field! Form up in three groups of three and one group of two! Go!”
After taking attendance, the teacher explained today’s lesson and left. The classroom became noisy.
The students gathered according to how close they are to each other. Yunyun sat at her desk, stealing glances at me.
“What is it, my self-proclaimed rival, Yunyun?”
“Self-proclaimed!? No, that… is true… Teacher told us to form groups…”
“Yes. We have to form groups. So what?”
I intentionally used a distant tone of voice. Yunyun became nervous.
As usual, she cannot bring herself to invite me.
Well, I ate her breakfast, so I decided to take the initiative.
“Megumin. If you don’t have a team yet, want to join me?”
I prepared to approach Yunyun, but Arue suddenly approached me.
I remembered that we can form a group of three.
“Okay, let’s do it together then.”
Yunyun listened to our conversation, becoming confused and unsettled.
Arue and I turned to look at Yunyun.
After a while, Yunyun looked at us, and timidly said,
“Hm, uh, Megumin, I also…”
At the moment before she finished speaking.
“Yunyun, want to team up with us?”
“Oh, right. You were always left behind, right? Just join our team.”
Funifura and Dodonko invited Yunyun.
The two of them smiled and walked to Yunyun’s desk.
After being invited by them, Yunyun stole a glance at me, as if she wasn’t sure what to do.
“Let’s go, Yunyun. We’re classmates after all.”
“Yes, yes. We’re friends, right!?”
“!? Friends…! Yes, yes, then…”
The term “friends” made the embarrassed Yunyun stood up.
So easily seduced. How unsure of herself.
As expected, Yunyun will be conned by bad guys in the future.
Yunyun seemed reluctant to leave me, but Funifura pushed her out of the classroom.
The teacher lectured in the field, with her cloak fluttering in the wind.
“Everyone is present! If you have a weapon, use your own. Those without them can use these to deliver a final blow to the monsters!”
The teacher said and pointed to the pile of items on the ground.
There was a mountain of different weapons. It was worth mentioning that most of them were…
“Teacher! The weapons are too big. We probably can’t carry them…”
Yes, all the weapons were massive.
The greatsword was taller than Arue. The blade of the axe was wider than my body.
The metal ball on the spiked mace looked so heavy, even an ogre wouldn’t be able to move it…
The teacher lifted the huge greatsword easily.
The teacher was physically weak and thin, yet she could lift it with one hand…!
“The trick is to let your mana infuse every part of your body. This method can temporarily enhance the bodies of Crimson Demons. After the previous lessons, you should know the basics. As long as you will it, you can naturally use this power!”
Hearing this, Arue walked forward.
“…My magic power! Surge through my arteries and bestow upon me strength in my limbs!”
Arue shouted, single-handedly lifting the greatsword!
“Eh!? Aw-, awesome…! Although it is awesome, are those words really necessary?”
The other students ignored Yunyun’s ramblings, and rushed towards the weapons.
“This one remains undamaged even after receiving my magic power…! I will name you! Yes, from now on, your name will be…!”
Someone lifted the huge axe with both hands, and named the weapon.
“Ha! …This is a good sword to be able to withstand my attacks. Fine, I will leave my life to you in the future…!”
Someone swung the long sword, smiling fearlessly.
I glanced at the others, and picked a huge axe.
Based on my mana, I should be able to do it too…!
“…Ah, not enough mana…! Burn, my magic power…! Bestow upon me strength and grace…!”
I held the axe handle, stumbling as I lifted it up.
No way, my mana wasn’t enough!
I was the Crimson Demons’ top genius! Surely I can accomplish such a minor task…!
I clenched my teeth and lifted the axe. At this time, Yunyun said next to me.
“Teacher, these weapons are fakes, right…? They’re made of wood with metal plating, so they’re rather light…”
“Yunyun, minus 5 points.”
“Ah!? Hey, wait—Teacher!”
I tossed away the heavy axe, and picked the smallest wooden sword.
—In the dense forest outside the village.
We stood in a row before the teacher. Each of us held a weapon of our liking.
Everyone’s weapons were blunt, except for the real weapon in Yunyun’s hands.
That was the silver dagger she bought a few days ago.
“Okay! Listen up. As I said earlier, the powerful monsters were driven off some time ago. Thus, there are only weak monsters, but don’t be reckless. I will use magic to disable them, and you will deliver the killing blow after they are immobilized.”
The teacher said, holding a huge ornamental sword.
“There shouldn’t be any problem. If there is an emergency, just give me a holler. Dismissed!”
The teacher announced, and then ran off somewhere.
The classmates began to scatter.
—At this time.
I heard a voice from the direction where the teacher ran off.
Arue and I ran over, and found…
As the saying went, even a starving camel is bigger than a horse. Our teacher is a Crimson Demon, after all.
A large lizard was frozen from its neck down. It groaned softly. This was probably our teacher’s work.
We heard our teacher again from a distance.
The teacher was happily disabling the nearby monsters.
Arue and I looked at each other.
“Can I go first?”
I nodded to express agreement.
Arue raised her ornamental greatsword with both hands.
“Let your life force become the source of my power!”
The great sword slashed down at the lizard’s head. The frozen lizard groaned and collapsed on the ground.
Arue checked her Adventurer’s Card, nodding in satisfaction.
She probably gained a level.
The Explosion magic I wanted to learn still required 4 more skill points.
If I conscientiously hunted monsters, perhaps I could learn magic today!
I looked around, searching for small monsters for experience points. Suddenly, I discovered a team arguing before a horned rabbit. The rabbit was frozen from its neck down.
Yunyun held her dagger, motionlessly facing the horned rabbit.
It looked like she could not bring herself to kill the rabbit, which was staring at her with sad eyes and groaning pitifully.
“Yunyun, kill it fast! We need to hurry up and hunt the next one!”
“Yes, Yunyun is the student with the second best results. You should be our role model!”
The two other team members pressured Yunyun, who didn’t know what to do with her dagger.
“So-, sorry, when I look at its eyes…! Sorry, I can’t do this!”
Yunyun shook her head, tears flooding her eyes. She offered her dagger to the other two girls, but neither took it.
“Don’t say such willful words during a crucial time! We, the Crimson Demons, are not weaklings! Other people will look down on us if this goes on!”
“Right, right! It can’t move, so it should be easy. Show us the power of our Number 2! Strike it…!”
“Then, you should be the one to strike it!”
I stood behind Dodonko, who was pressuring Yunyun. I pushed her forward.
I snatched the dagger from Yunyun, and pressed it into Dodonko’s hands. She screamed.
I hugged Dodonko from behind, and guided the surprised Dodonko forward.
“Now, Dodonko, kill it! Turn this pitiful big-eyed rabbit into your experience!”
“Wait! Wait! Wait, Megumin, spare me!”
“Why are you hesitating? Let this innocent rabbit become your power…! No need to bother our Number 2 Yunyun. Let me, the Number 1, personally guide you…!”
“Wait! Stop, please, stop! If you pushed me further, the dagger will stab it! It’s groaning! It’s groaning!”
“Megumin, stop! Dodonko is crying! Stop!”
At this moment, just as Funifura and Dodonko were in a mess.
“…Hey, stop it everyone. A troublesome monster is here.”
Arue pointed towards the forest, alerting us.
We looked in that direction and saw a monster.
It was a humanoid demon, with sharp claws on both hands. Its body was thick with black fur, and on its back was a pair of bat wings.
Its reptilian head had a beak. It kept looking around.
It looked rather strong, but more importantly, it wasn’t frozen.
We should escape and find the teacher…
—It set its sight on us as we were sneaking away.
“Teacher, teacher, teacher, teacher—!!”
Funifura and Dodonko yelled as they ran for their lives.
“Megumin, do you know that thing? It seems to be focused entirely on you.”
“How can I possibly know it? It might be a vanguard of the demon king. It fears my power… Still, why is it chasing me?!”
“It must be retribution because of Megumin’s evil deeds! A few days ago, I saw you stealing sacrificial food from the altar of Eris!”
Arue and Yunyun said as they ran next to me, the monster giving chase.
For some unknown reason, the flying monster pursued only me, ignoring the others.
It should have seen the other students. I was worried about what Yunyun said. Maybe it really was my divine retribution.
Arue and I had already discarded the cumbersome weapons.
The other teams appeared to have noticed our situation, but nobody can use magic…!
I felt something moving on my back.
It turned out to be Kuro, who was digging its claws into my back to avoid falling off.
—A desperate plan!
I took hold of Kuro, and raised it up high towards the monster..
“There’s no other choice. I present this furball to you! How about it? It must be tastier than me! Even my sister wanted to eat it!”
“You are truly the top student to think of such a move!”
“Megumin is so heartless! You’re being chased by monsters because you always do things like this!”
Even after being lectured by Yunyun, I continued to lift Kuro up high. The monster circled in the air, slowly descending before us.
Although it looked fierce, its behavior did not seem hostile.
Funifura and Dodonko had already escaped. I faced the monster, the other students looking on from a distance.
Without a word, Yunyun stood in front of me.
She held her dagger in both hands. The silver blade shone. She protectively kept Arue and me behind her, facing the monster.
Only Yunyun had a real weapon.
The coward who didn’t have the guts to kill a rabbit wanted to protect us.
Next to me, Arue looked at her Adventurer’s Card.
Probably considering if she should learn magic right on the spot.
…I could already learn advanced magic. But if I did this, I would have to give up on Explosion magic…
But even the cowardly Yunyun became so brave. I can’t let her steal my thunder…!
“Lightning of darkness, strike down my foe! Cursed Lightning!”
Following the loud incantation, a black streak of lightning pierced the monster’s chest.
The monster silently collapsed. I looked at the direction of the voice.
The teacher ran towards us, still holding the greatsword.
The teacher always seemed a little shot in the head, but she was really reliable and cool right at this moment.
—The student who went to fetch the teacher said:
“Teacher, your casting was completed long ago, so why did you wait until the last moment to release the spell?!”
“? Of course, it is to let me debut at the coolest possible moment!”
…..Not one bit. This teacher was completely bonkers.
“Have you heard? The monster which attacked Megumin has never appeared nearby before. There should not be any flying monsters near the village.”
Because of the sudden intrusion of the monster, field training was cancelled and we returned to school early. This rumor quickly spread throughout the classroom.
I listened to the conversations and played with Kuro’s tail as it lay on the desk. Then, the tired-looking teacher entered the classroom.
The teacher dejectedly stood at the podium.
“Listen up. I mentioned before that the Tomb of the Evil God will be unsealed soon. After investigation, the monster that appeared this morning during field lesson was probably a minion of the evil god. We are looking for the seal fragments, but we have been unsuccessful so far. We must end this matter as fast as possible. I will be sent out to continue the monster-hunts… Thus, all afternoon lessons are cancelled. I say again, until the tomb has been sealed again, do not go home alone.”
The teacher announced and left the classroom.
I had no idea what the evil god was supposed to be, but it was really good at causing trouble.
“Megumin… hm… today…”
Yunyun wanted to say something, periodically stealing glances at me.
Seriously, she could just directly invite me to go home together.
“Hey, Yunyun, let’s go home together! I’ve got something to say to you! Besides, I wanted to apologize for leaving you behind earlier!”
Funifura interrupted my conversation suddenly.
“Eh!? Ah… okay.”
The weak-willed Yunyun did not object, and simply gave a slight nod.
If an unknown guy was to kneel and beg her, she would probably listen too.
“Then, goo-, goodbye, Megumin. See you tomorrow…”
Yunyun looked a bit uneasy, but she still followed the other two home.
It was a good thing that lonely Yunyun could make friends.
Although it was a good thing, it was still a bit…
I felt a presence behind and turned around. Arue apparently said something.
“Say that again, and I will mess up your perky tits!”
—The next day.
I brought along Kuro, who was sticking to me, and walked into the classroom. This shameless cat simply sprawled itself over my shoulder.
“Ah, Megumin, good morning… Kuro too, good morning.”
Usually, Yunyun would excitedly challenge me as soon as she saw me, but today she merely greeted me.
“Good morning… What’s up with you? Normally when you see me, you will charge forth like a bandit.”
“I’m not that lawless! Although it is really like that, you should describe it more elegantly… for example, rivals challenging each other…”
Two people came over to the hesitant Yunyun’s side.
Funifura and Dodonko.
“Yunyun, good morning! Thanks a lot for yesterday! As expected, you know your true friends only in times of crisis!”
“Yes, thanks! Yunyun is a real friend!”
“Ah, that… It is great to help a friend.”
Yunyun smiled, with her face almost glowing.
“Everyone sit down. I’m taking attendance!”
The teacher arrived as I was wondering whether to ask Yunyun about it.
—After taking attendance, the teacher started to seriously write magical incantations on the blackboard.
Learning magic took more than just skill points.
Firstly, you must memorize all the incantations for the magic you wanted to use.
There were not many spells for basic magic, and there was no need for long casting. However, advanced magic was different, requiring much effort to learn.
But as the top student, I’ve already memorized every single incantation.
Yunyun, the bored second top student next to me, was probably the same.
With nothing to do, I decided to tease Yunyun.
“What did you do with Funifura yesterday?”
I tore an edge off my notebook and wrote this question down. I rolled it into a ball and tossed it at Yunyun’s desk.
Yunyun noticed it and read my message…
“This is a secret between friends, so I cannot tell my rival Megumin.”
The reply tossed at my desk contained this message.
…This pissed me off.
“The lonely kid made some friends for a few days and became arrogant.”
I tossed that over.
“Megumin is always bragging. You don’t have friends either.”
The reply came back as such.
I shot a glance at Yunyun, and she returned the look in satisfaction.
“Since you have friends now… You won’t challenge me anymore, right? Although I’m happy that you made some friends, I feel somewhat lonely…”
“Wait, sorry, sorry. I didn’t challenge you because of this! A lot of things happened yesterday, so I’m not in the mood…!”
“Okay, it doesn’t matter. Anyway, although I was always complaining, having a match with Yunyun every morning still makes me happy. And not because I could get a free meal.”
“No! I’m serious! It’s true! You misunderstood! I like having a match with Megumin too. I’m happy to make your meals every day as well…!”
“…I’m satisfied if you can say that. If we weren’t rivals, I’m sure we can be good friends.”
I tossed that message over, and Yunyun’s reply stopped suddenly.
I gazed at Yunyun. She looked embarrassed, but did not move the pen in her hand.
I stared at the area near Yunyun’s hand from a distance.
“One day, I want to be Megumin’s… friend.”
She stopped after writing that.
Seeing Yunyun’s expression, I wrote another message on the paper, rolled it up, and tossed it to her.
Red-faced Yunyun saw the paper, and raised her head sharply.
Her expression was full of expectation, and her eyes became teary. But upon opening the paper…!
“…You think I would seriously say something like that? Idiot!”
—Yunyun kicked the chair away and pounced at me in tears.
In the field before the school, Yunyun and I were still talking.
“…can’t stand it. Why can’t this kid take a joke?”
“That was not a joke! I’ll never forgive you! Never!”
Because Yunyun cried and pounced on me, both of us were punished to stand outside in the walkway for the rest of the lesson. Now, we were having combat training as part of physical education.
“You’re too loud over there! Do you want to be punished for this lesson too? Even if you memorized all the incantations, you shouldn’t disturb the class. Both of you, deduct 20 points! This lesson is combat training. But today’s training is a bit different… The two of you who have been glaring at each other all this while! I ask you both, what is the most important thing if you want to survive a battle to the end?”
Hearing the question, Yunyun walked forward.
I could sense she was observing me.
“It’s comrades! If you have comrades, your survival rate will improve! Of course, this excludes the brainless comrades who don’t understand that certain things should not be made into a joke!”
…You, you dare…!
“Yes… then, next is Megumin! To survive a battle to the end, what is most needed?”
“It’s firepower! Super strong firepower that can blast away the lonely girls who keep bitching about comrades. Power! Overwhelming power! Instead of acting coy in order to gain friends or comrades, it’s better to be a solo mage that stands up high!”
Teary-eyed Yunyun glared at me.
The teacher considered our answers, nodding slightly.
“Teacher, how many points?”
“Both 3 points. Disappointing! I’m so disappointed in both of you! You two stand by the side and pay attention! …Pui!”
This teacher actually spat!
This teacher pissed me off, even more so than Yunyun.
She ignored us, who were quivering out of dissatisfaction in the field.
“Arue! Surely you understand! You, who are different from those fake Crimson Demons that have nothing but test results!”
Fake Crimson Demons!
Yunyun and I straightened our backs, grinding our teeth.
Not long after being called by the teacher, Arue came forward.
She uncovered her eye patch—
“It is the opening speech before a battle. If the monologue is good, even if you only have a radish for a weapon and are outnumbered a million to one, you will not perish. Conversely, no matter how powerful the demon king is, if he triggers flags such as ‘Let me show you what it is like to be in hell!’ or ‘Your chance of victory is 0.1%’, he will die easily.”
“100 points! You get a Skill Up Potion too! Have you all memorized the traditional Crimson Demons’ ‘Collection of Famous Quotes That Will Keep You Alive’? Then, form up in pairs and practice it!”
Hearing the teacher’s instructions, all the students paired up.
But our class had 11 students.
Normally, I would skip physical education lesson, so the number would be just right. But I wasn’t in the mood to skip lesson today.
I stood up, and said to Yunyun who was sitting beside me.
“…Yunyun, let’s form a pair. Funifura and Dodonko probably paired up already. Then you would be left out, right?”
“…Fine, Megumin. Let’s pair up, but don’t think things will be settled just by practicing speeches!”
It looked like we had the same idea.
“Teacher, I’m left out. Can I pair with Teacher?”
“Oh, no problem… Then, everyone start!”
—Among the classmates who made their self-introductions imposingly, only Yunyun and I silently opposed each other.
“Finally, it’s time to settle this. The diligent person will achieve victory in the end. I always believed this. Although I was born to a poor family, I advanced one step at a time… so I won’t lose to someone born as the chief’s daughter who received elite education without effort! I will prove to you, victory depends not on natural talent, but on diligence!”
“Although I have never defeated you… but, even if the chance of victory is really small… as long as it is not zero, I will never give up!”
Both of us announced our determination…
Thereafter, we remained silent for a moment.
“…What! You’re too cunning, to use such dialogue as if you’re the protagonist! It feels like I’m going to lose! Didn’t you keep talking about comrades earlier? This is incompatible with what you just said!”
“Megumin too! Previously, you kept going on about firepower, so you should speak more like a villain! What’s this about being a diligent person? Megumin is the natural genius here! You even talked smack about my family background. How sly are you!”
Using the battle prologue as a means to boost the chance of victory.
This traditional Crimson Demon secret did not work against fellow clansmen…!
“Too troublesome! Since it’s combat training lesson, we should let our fists do the talking! No need for verbal competition!”
Yunyun shouted, and took the initiative to attack!
To limit my movement, Yunyun rushed to kick my abdomen.
She accurately estimated our distance, and twisted her waist to…..
Hearing the sound emitting from my abdomen, Yunyun stopped.
To be accurate, it’s emitting from underneath my clothes.
Kuro, who snuck into my clothes, was lightly kicked by Yunyun, causing it to cry out.
Upon realizing the situation, Yunyun suddenly panicked.
“What happened to you? Why are you panicking like that? If you’re not attacking, I’m going to attack.”
“Wait, wait, hey, wait! Don’t put Kuro inside your clothes! I won’t be able to attack like this!”
I approached slowly, as Yunyun uneasily backed off.
“Yunyun kept going on about comrades earlier. What is Yunyun going to do now? You see, comrades do not merely help; sometimes they can become a hostage, a liability! But I will use super strong firepower to destroy the enemy along with my comrades! If you can attack now, go right ahead! If you can ruthlessly kick the kitten you named, then by all means, kick!”
After I achieved victory in the duel, we walked home together.
“Megumin, you have never seriously fought in our matches!”
“There’s no need to complain after a match. Yunyun is so resentful!”
I originally intended to go home alone, but Yunyun used the unsealing of the evil god’s tomb as an excuse to tag along. In the end, we were still bickering.
“Anyway, it’s all because Yunyun refused to tell me about what you did with those two. This aroused my suspicion and escalated the problem. Was it something shameful? Revealing a bit to me would be enough.”
“It’s, it’s nothing shameful! But no, they wanted me to keep it a secret, so I can’t tell anyone else! I must keep my friend’s secret!”
This girl is too naïve.
I am certain that Yunyun would be cheated by a useless guy in the future.
Then, I would have to protect her until then.
“…Forget it. Yunyun, I don’t want to say bad things about your friends, but those two do not have a good reputation. I’m not too clear about it, but at least be cautious.”
“Megumin is too suspicious. What kind of environment did you grow up in to become so suspicious?”
“My family has a lot of issues, so I must be more suspicious of others. Livelihood is already so difficult. If I get cheated, the entire family would have to live in the streets. According to my sister, a shopkeeper recently praised the flawed magic items made by my father.”
“Uh, hm… Even I will think that’s a scam…”
Yunyun tactfully admitted that my father’s products were flawed, but this couldn’t be helped.
For example, a magic scroll that would illuminate the surrounding once it was read.
It sounded like a convenient item, but you could not read the scroll in the dark. If there was a bit of light, then this scroll would be useless. He always created such unfathomable items.
Living by your hobby isn’t a bad thing, but at least solve the problem of life’s necessities first.
…Well, I, who decided to learn the useless Explosion magic, was in no position to criticize others.
Soon, we arrived at my home—
“…I think there’s no need to be troubled even if you have no friends. There might be someone who really understands Yunyun.”
I said to the dumbstruck Yunyun.
Then, I discovered a suspicious guy sneaking around before my house.
“Hey, Megumin, who is that!?”
The guy peeked through the window into the house.
He was my idle neighbor, the future successor of the shoe shop, Bukkoroli.
If he needed to see me, he could have just walked up without sneaking around.
“What are you doing?”
“Woah!? Ah, ahh, Megumin… Good, I waited for you a long time. Actually, I have something to discuss with you. But it’s too late today… Tomorrow is a holiday, so there should be no school, right? Tomorrow morning… If possible, Yunyun can come along too. This has to be discussed with young girls after all.”
Bukkoroli said, as he scratched his head. Yunyun and I looked at each other—
“Nee-chan, welcome back!”
Komekko ran over.
“Hungry? I’ll cook something.”
I smiled and said, but Komekko shook her head.
“I’m not hungry. I ate a lot.”
…Ate a lot?
There shouldn’t be any excess food in the house.
I entered the kitchen in wonder.
…And saw the large amount of food in the kitchen. I was dumbstruck.
“Where did these come from?”
Komekko answered seriously,
“Mine is the name of Komekko! Watching the house is my job. I’m the Crimson Demons’ Number One Femme Fatale little sister!”
She made a pose while saying.
This child will become an amazing person in the future.
INTERLUDE: SCENE 2
—Komekko and Lord Hoost—
“Oh, you’re rather late today. Come, continue to solve the puzzle.”
As usual, Hoost was sitting before the Tomb of the Evil God.
“I thought there would be only one puzzle for the seal. To think that there are more… Hey, Komekko, the seal of Lady Wolbach must be released today. I will entrust this to you, Komekko.”
I solved the puzzle earlier, and another, more difficult puzzle appeared on the pedestal.
“Look, I brought a lot of delicious food today. I hunted the creatures outside the village and cooked them. I can’t enter the village to buy things, after all, so please bear with it.”
“…This must wait until the puzzle has been solved! By the way, why do you come here? Where did your mother go? Don’t you have friends?”
“Mother is usually not at home. There’s nobody in the village around my age, so I have no friends. Since I have no toys either, I come here to play.”
“…I see. Well, until you release the seal, I will keep you company and chat with you. This new puzzle is more difficult, so it will probably take some time. Since the village is getting more vigilant, I won’t be able to visit every day. But if I visit, I will definitely bring you some food.”
Hoost said and looked at my hand…
“Not making progress?”
Hoost looked at me, who was swallowing my saliva, and said.
“…You want this?”
So it discovered that I was stealing glances at the cooked meat. Hoost gave an evil smile.
“To a devil, a contract is absolute. I said this before, you must make progress in solving the puzzle to get the food.”
I stopped moving the puzzle pieces and looked at Hoost.
“Hoost is so cool.”
“Even if you flatter me, I won’t give it to you.”
“…I have not eaten any solid food for three days.”
“You ate the creature I hunted yesterday! It’s useless even if you cry and beg me.”
“I’m the Archmage who will eventually surpass my sister. You better not antagonize me…”
“Where did a little brat like you learn to say such things? A devil won’t be threatened by you.”
Hoost said and laughed.
“…I cannot think clearly because of my hunger, so please give me food. I beg you, Lord Hoost.”
“Sigh! Guess I have no choice! Come, eat quickly, Komekko!”
Although the food Hoost hunted did not have any seasoning, it was still tasty.
After I ate a huge piece of meat, it said.
“Well, we have distinguished who is the master, and who is the slave. You are full now, so be a good girl and listen to Lord Hoost. Solve the seal’s puzzle.”
“…I’m too full. I want to sleep.”
“You—! Don’t joke around! You were eating so vigorously, yet you can still shamelessly say that! Hey, hey, hey, Komekko!”
“Because I ate too much, I don’t have the drive to do things.”
“…Plea-, please, be more driven, Lady Komekko.”
“Sigh! Guess I have no choice!
“Al-, although I said the same thing earlier, you shouldn’t copy other people’s speeches!”