THAT WHICH SLEEPS IN THE CRIMSON DEMON VILLAGE
TL: Sine Nomine
Editing: Cannongerbil, Skythewood, Xenthur
The broken-hearted Bukkoroli returned home and locked himself inside for three days.
I thought there wouldn’t be any other events besides this…
—Yunyun was a bit strange lately.
“Megumin, good morning. Come, take this.”
Yunyun handed me a meal box as I entered the classroom.
This was unexpected, and I was at a loss for how to respond.
I held the meal box blankly and forced myself to say something.
“What? Are you in love with me? This is way too sudden. For you to behave like a loving wife, I feel…”
“What loving wife!? Hey, what are you saying!? I don’t intend to challenge you today, I just want to give you the packed meal! In other words, ‘I gave you the packed meal already, so don’t pester me anymore!’, understand?”
“That makes it sound like I’m a despicable person who will cheat a packed meal off you by any means necessary!”
“Megumin is a despicable person— but since I bother you every day, it’s not like I’m any better.”
Yunyun bluntly said. Just as I was considering how to deal with her, the homeroom teacher entered the classroom.
The noisy classroom quieted down as the teacher walked to the podium.
“Good morning. I heard that the monster from a few days ago, which was suspected to be the evil god’s minion, appeared inside Crimson Demon village. The current situation demands caution.”
Hearing this, the classroom got rowdy again.
Aside from monsters similar to One Strike Bears, normal monsters would flee just by seeing the silhouette of a Crimson Demon.
It was definitely unnatural for monsters to enter the village.
“Therefore, even though preparations aren’t complete yet, we decided to summon more people and forcefully reform the seal. The ritual will last from tomorrow evening to the morning on the day after. If we fail, Crimson Demon village will be swarmed by the evil god’s minions— Of course, we have our own means to deal with that. Once the ritual starts, do not roam around, just stay at home.”
The usually frivolous homeroom teacher showed a rarely seen serious expression.
I never paid the homeroom teacher much attention before. Now, the teacher unexpectedly seemed quite mature.
“Okay. To start with, I will announce the test results. By our customary rule, the top three students will receive Skill Up Potion! Come forward to receive it when your name is called! …Third place, Nerimaki!”
I listened to the homeroom teacher and examined my Adventurer’s Card at the same time.
Eheheh… just short of four points.
Another four points and I can learn the Explosion Magic of my dreams.
“Second place, Arue!”
I listened to the homeroom teacher, while looking at my Adventurer’s Card with a grin.
…Second place, Arue?
“First place, Megumin! Good job. Come, get your potion.”
I stood up after being called, and looked to the side.
I looked at Yunyun, who was clenching her fists and feeling a bit uneasy.
“The first lesson is about creating cool equipment— such as Arue’s eye patch. Such equipment enhances one’s personality and consumes 1 skill point. For example, fingerless gloves or handkerchiefs. Everyone must go to the handicraft room!”
After the homeroom teacher left the classroom, I showed off my new Skill Up Potion and pulled my chair up next to Yunyun.
Yunyun awkwardly avoided my gaze. I didn’t say anything and merely dangled my potion before her.
“…Hey, say something! The mood is really heavy like this!”
As if she had enough, Yunyun slammed the table and stood up.
Then immediately sat back down in regret. Her anger dissipated faster than normal.
“…Then let me start. Yunyun’s good points are ‘good at cooking’, ‘excellent student’, and ‘no sense of presence’. Well then, what happened to you this time?”
“Hey, the last merit is a bit strange! I have no sense of presence!? Also, I should have more good points!”
I raised the potion before Yunyun, who was blushing and unwilling let go of what I said.
“You said earlier that you don’t want a match today, so what will you do now? I remember you said you need 3 more skill points to learn Advanced Magic. I’m short of 4 points… Is this really okay? You finally got ahead of me and can graduate before me. You don’t wish to be surpassed by me at the last moment right? Hey, hey, hey… What will you do now?”
Hearing my provocations, Yunyun looked at me with mixed feelings…
“I said earlier, today, uh, no need to have a match… You should drink the potion quickly.”
“…Really. It can’t be helped. Then, I’ll help myself to the packed meal too.”
For some reasons, as Yunyun watched me drink the potion and eat my packed meal, she looked relieved.
—As expected, Yunyun was very strange lately.
“Hey, have you heard? Apparently, a hero candidate has arrived!”
The morning lessons ended and were followed by the noon break.
Funifura mentioned this rumor as she ate her packed meal on our desks.
The Crimson Demon village was a remote and undeveloped place surrounded by powerful monsters.
Why would a hero candidate come here?
Hero candidate was a collective term for the people who received special powers from the gods. They usually have strange names.
The rumor was that, besides their strange names, their personalities, behaviors, and nicknames were also different from other people.
“I know, I know! We met yesterday! He’s a handsome guy, supposedly here to recruit party members in order to defeat the demon king. They seem to be looking for a powerful mage! Ah, why did it have to happen now? If they’d come after I learned magic, I’d definitely follow him!”
Dodonko said and regretfully sighed.
…Hm. The hero candidate is a handsome guy.
I couldn’t use magic yet, so I couldn’t join a party, but, as an archmage candidate, I would meet this hero candidate someday.
After all, powerful people tend to attract other powerful people.
As the saying went, birds of a feather flock together.
Yunyun was curious. She asked Dodonko.
“The hero candidate… What is he like? Is he very strong?”
“He has two girls with him, and wields a powerful magic sword. He’s good-looking, too. I heard his job is Swordmaster? His name is… Mitsurugi, I think?”
A sword master with a powerful magic sword.
Many powerful monsters resided in the area around the Crimson Demon village.
He must really be strong to make his way here through the danger zone.
“I see. This man will probably hang around for some time, right? In that case, I’ll let him join me after I learn magic.”
Hearing what I said, Dodonko turned around.
“He said he is leaving today. If he’d stay longer, I’d definitely ask him to bring me along.”
That was regrettable.
As a hero candidate, he must be an excellent person, someone who could overcome all obstacles and make history.
I intended to become a mage and join an adventuring party. In that case, a party with a hero candidate would be the best option.
A party led by the hero candidate, one that can confront obstacles directly, was full of righteousness, and was admired by everyone.
Finally, I would use my magic to wipe out the demon king’s cadres— or whatever they may be— and leave my mark in history.
After defeating the demon king, I will become the new demon king: Megumin—!
“Megumin, are you listening to me?”
“I was thinking about something very important, so I wasn’t listening. What is it?”
Just as I was getting lost in my fantasy, Yunyun dragged me back to reality.
Funifura and Dodonko were chatting about a different topic now.
Yunyun periodically looked concerned about them, and said embarrassingly to me.
“Hey, Megumin, can you keep me company for a while after school? I have something to say to you…”
Other than Yunyun’s failure to get third place for the test results, there was nothing strange today. After school was dismissed, Yunyun and I made our way back together.
Yunyun said she had something to tell me, yet she remained silent so far. Then, she finally said.
“…Hey, Megumin, what kind of relationship are ‘friends’ exactly…?”
Hearing this unexpectedly serious topic, I stopped walking and put my hand to my face. I held my tears back.
“Hey, wait, wait, Megumin. What’s wrong with you!? Hey, hey! Did I say something to make you cry!? Tell me!”
“No. I knew Yunyun is terribly lonely, but I never thought it would be to the extent that you don’t even know what friends are…”
“I know! I know somewhat! Buying things together, playing together, etc.! —This isn’t what I was talking about!”
Yunyun retorted angrily, then calmed down instantly.
“Hey, Megumin. You always cheated me, but you never wanted my wealth, right? —You merely put on an expression of wanting me to treat you, or spin around before me during lunchtime to subtly suggest I share my meal with you.”
“Of course. Even I have standards. If I’m really hankering after your money, I wouldn’t complain even if you wanted my physical body as a price.”
“I don’t want it. What kind of person do you take me for!? I also think that ‘friendship’ shouldn’t be controlled by money, but… I recently encountered a similar issue… Funifura said her little brother was really sick…”
I didn’t know what the situation of Funifura’s family was, but I heard she had a brother who was much younger than her, and she doted on him a lot.
“And then, she wanted to buy medicine, but didn’t have enough money. If I give them money at this time, will it be very impolite…? I feel that friends should help each other when they are in trouble, but will they hate me if I simply give them money…”
“…Did Funifura ask you for money?”
Hearing this, Yunyun shook her hand hurriedly.
“Ah, no, no. I only heard them complaining about not having enough money to buy medicine. Dodonko said she wanted to support her. So I am thinking, if I should give some money…”
This child is as gullible as before.
I could somewhat comprehend recent events now.
Those two somewhat disreputable persons suddenly became close to Yunyun. I always felt this was suspicious.
Dodonko intentionally said she wanted to help Funifura in front of Yunyun.
This was to create a mood that suggested, “This is what friends would do.”
Before approaching me, Yunyun probably already sensed that there was something wrong.
But, fearing being hated by her “friends”, lonely Yunyun was about to give in.
“If I was in your position, I’d render non-monetary aid. After all, I have no money.”
“Yes… For example, wear a mask and rob the medicine shop together with my friends.”
“Hey, giving them money is probably better than that!”
I shook my finger at Yunyun lightly.
“Friends don’t merely give of themselves. A part of friendship involves experiencing difficulties together. Anyone can give of themselves, but it is not so simple to share pains with each other.”
“In other words, if Megumin is hungry, I shouldn’t give Megumin food, but rather starve together with her?”
“…No, no, no. That’s a different matter… But I feel that if Yunyun can accept it, lending them money isn’t out of question. Friendship shouldn’t be bought with money, but friends should still help each other out with money. By the way, I’m super poor.”
“You just subtly hinted something, right! —Okay, I understand. I will do as I think is right.”
Yunyun smiled and said.
…This kid was too honest, so it was easy to guess what she would do.
Even though she felt it was suspicious, she still decided that she couldn’t ignore it.
She would probably give them money tomorrow morning or after school.
Technically, this had nothing to do with me, but tomorrow—
…Our conversation ended, and we walked on silently. We met my neighbor NEET, Bukkoroli.
“Ah, Bukkoroli-san, nice to meet you!”
“Ugh, Bukkoroli, what are you doing here? I heard that you’ve locked yourself inside after being rejected by Soketto.”
“No, your ‘Shh!’ is even more hurtful! Besides, I didn’t actually confess, so it should not be considered as being rejected.”
After saying such pathetic words, Bukkoroli suddenly looked serious.
“I realize it now. The world is waiting for my power to awake. Now is not the time to be horny… Recently, there are eye witnesses that confirmed monsters are appearing within the village. These appear to be the evil god’s minions. I believe the village needs my power, so I took the initiative to come out for patrols.”
Simply put, this NEET wanted to get over his crushed love, so he came out for a walk since he had nothing to do.
“I heard about this. The idle NEETs in the village have been organized to form a militia or something.”
“Don’t call it militia. We have a cool name. It is ‘Anti-Demon King Army Guerilla Unit’.”
The demon king army was too frightened to even come close to this village. How were they going to wage guerilla warfare?
But giving the militia a cool and glorious name was typical of Crimson Demons.
“I heard the adults in the village have problems dealing with this monster. Teacher also said they will forcefully reset the seal tomorrow. That’s too troublesome. Why not simply unseal the evil god and destroy him with the combined power of the village?”
The Crimson Demon village was the place where first-rate Archwizards congregated.
Even the nearby countries didn’t dare to interfere with us.
If the Crimson Demons worked together, it should be easy to defeat the evil god.
“No, someone suggested that too, but this evil god was brought here by our ancestors to be sealed.”
“What!? I never heard of this before! Why did they leave it like this!? Why did our ancestors do such troublesome and pointless work!”
Yunyun shouted, while Bukkoroli looked uncertain.
“Isn’t it obviously because sealing an evil god here sounded very cool? …Anyway, everyone agreed to reset the seal. Plus, there are other dangerous things sealed in this place, such as ‘The Forbidden Weapon That Could Destroy the World’ and ‘The Nameless Goddess of Vengeance Who Lost Her Worshippers’.”
“Although hearing it hurts my stomach, I am a bit interested in the forbidden weapon. Well, it’s not like I don’t understand how the villagers feel.”
“You can understand!? By the way, I cannot understand any of you. Am I really the weirdo!? Is there really something wrong with my perception!?”
—On the next day, I dragged the school bag containing Kuro to school. It was earlier than usual.
As expected— I saw three familiar faces on the way to school.
“Thanks, Yunyun! This really helps! I will repay you!”
“It’s nothing, no need to thank me! Ah, then, want to go to school together…”
Those three were Funifura, Dodonko, and Yunyun.
Funifura smiled as she took something from Yunyun.
“Ah… So-, sorry. I must bring this money over immediately.”
“Ah, is, is that so… Sorry, I can’t read the mood… Then, let’s meet in school.”
Yunyun smiled and walked towards the school.
Not long after, the silhouette of her drooping her shoulders as she walked on filled the mood with sadness.
Funifura and Dodonko watched Yunyun leave, and said softly.
“My conscience kinda…”
“Yeah, it hurts…”
“Heh heh heh… In that case, you shouldn’t have done that.”
Hearing my voice behind them, both of them jumped in fright and hurriedly turned around.
“Megumin!? Where did you come from!?”
“Ou-, our conversation with Yunyun… How much did you hear!?”
I said as I climbed out of the shrubbery where I was hiding.
How much did I hear, huh…
“I heard everything starting from you blackmailing Yunyun with ‘If you don’t want your shameful history to be exposed, obediently do kinky things with us.’”
“There was no blackmail!”
“Why is it kinky things?! You, what do you take us for?!”
My skittish joke provoked their embarrassing retorts.
“Wait, uh… I only borrowed money from Yunyun. Actually, my little brother, bec….”
“Right, right. Funifura’s brother is sick, so she needed money to buy medicine. We don’t have enough money, so we let Yunyun chip in to help.”
“Ah, that was terrible… You really keep me at an arm’s length. Why didn’t you approach me?”
Surprised by my words, both of them shouted.
“What? Is it really so surprising for me to help people in need? Or are you two trying to provoke a fight?”
“No, no…! We don’t mean that, but, uh… Aren’t you very poor?”
“Right, right. Even if we are short of money, we can’t borrow from Megumin!”
I swung my school bag, ready to attack. Both of their faces turned pale from fright.
“Then, then how do you intend to help us?”
“Right, right. Even if we ask, could you really lend us money?”
“How could I possibly lend you money? What nonsense are you spouting? If you want to borrow money, you also need to find the right target.”
“You, you bitch…!!”
They glared at me angrily, as if their arteries were about to burst. But I wasn’t fooling around.
“Both of you calm down and listen, okay? You wanted money in order to buy medicine. But acquiring medicine doesn’t necessarily need money. In other words, it’s okay as long as you get the medicine, right?”
“Eh…! Uh, that’s true…”
“Do you have a way to acquire the medicine?”
I laughed confidently.
“Leave it to me, the number one genius of the Crimson Demons.”
Seeing my confidence, they looked at each other uneasily.
Well, I made a promise, but how exactly was I to get the medicine?
Maybe I could bring Komekko to the medicine shop and subject the shopkeeper to her wiles.
Using my little sister’s Femme Fatale nature, it was possible to gain something out of nothing.
“Kuro! Kuro, pull yourself together! What happened!? Why are you completely limp!? Did Megumin forget that you were inside and swing her school bag around!?”
I ignored Yunyun who was hugging Kuro and making a scene. I concentrated on planning how to get the medicine.
Finally, the lazy homeroom teacher entered the classroom.
And took out the name list as usual…
“Ah, the ritual to reset the evil god’s seal will begin this evening. I mentioned this before, right? Let me clarify, failure is impossible. As an emergency countermeasure, I’ve even prepared ‘that thing’ which I kept hidden for so long… Anyway, I’d rather not use ‘that thing’ if possible. Since the ritual success rate is more than 90%, I probably won’t have a chance to use it. It is best to resolve the situation like this…”
The homeroom teacher made a speech that would inevitably trigger a flag to guarantee failure.
The uneasiness suggested that the teacher probably wished the ritual would fail.
Then “that thing”, which nobody bothered to ask about, could be used.
“Anyway, that’s how it is. Go straight home after school today. Everyone must go home before evening. Next, the first lesson is magic item creation. Everyone go to the lab! Now!”
The homeroom teacher said and swiftly left the classroom. At this moment—
I suddenly had an epiphany. Magic item creation…!
—The lab was built underground, beneath the school.
Its purpose was to store dangerous reagents and various explosive items… Yeah, right.
I heard the reason was “Mages that conduct dubious experiments underground are cooler.”
The seating in the lab is random, but I always sit in the front row.
The homeroom teacher lazily walked to the podium.
“We will start the magic item creation lesson. Creating magic potions and magic items are an important source of income for mages. Mastering this skill is definitely advantageous… Megumin, it is good to be enthusiastic, but you don’t need to come so close.”
“Sorry. This is my favorite lesson.”
The homeroom teacher waved at me who was in front of the first row, signaling me to back off, and held up a potion bottle.
“We have done this many times before, but basics are still important. Today, we will create a simple healing potion… Yes, Megumin, why are you raising your hand? Do you have a question?”
“Forget such cheap potions. Teach me something more difficult that can earn lots of money.”
“Fine, you will be my assistant for this lesson. I will put you to work until you stop saying such foolish things.”
—As I worked as the assistant unwillingly, the homeroom teacher started the lesson.
“Everyone use your preferred ingredients to create a magic potion. If it is successful, you can try changing the formula. Different proportions of ingredients can affect the potency of the potion. Experiment and create your own unique formula.”
As an assistant, I handed out equipment and ingredients to my classmates. Then, I remembered my original plan.
“Teacher, I have a question. Can I create a potion to cure sickness?”
“A magic potion to cure sickness? It’s possible, but such potions are rather difficult to make. Also, the cost of creating such potion is quite high, and it sells well. Basically, it does make good money.”
“I finally understand how teacher sees me. This isn’t for making money. Someone is sick, so I wanted to personally make some medicine to help.”
Hearing this, the homeroom teacher rubbed her chin and said.
“…In that way, you may use any ingredient you wish. This is the formula for that potion. Take it… Anyway, it is surprising that Megumin who is covetous, selfish, and ruthless enough to kill helpless monsters would have such a kind heart.”
“I really completely understand teacher’s impression of me.”
I silently swore that I will “repay” this teacher after graduation, and examined the formula. I collected the necessary ingredients for the potion.
Fire Drake’s liver, mandrake root, Onion Duck’s…
“Hey, Megumin, what are you doing with these ingredients? What about the healing potion? Kuro is currently very weak. If possible, make some for this little thing…”
Yunyun, who was next to me, said as she watched me gather the ingredients. She looked worried.
“This is a secret between me and my friend, so I cannot tell my rival Yunyun.”
“Ah! What, what is that about! Is this a revenge for what happened recently!?”
I ignored noisy Yunyun, and put the expensive ingredients into the mortar.
“Enough. Kuro will be saved by me instead…”
I turned and glanced at Yunyun. She put the unconscious Kuro on the table, and enthusiastically started to make a healing potion.
“My family’s education system is Spartan style. Don’t pamper my cat too much.”
“Putting it in a school bag and swinging it around is not Spartan, it’s torture! Isn’t it still only a kitten!? You should dote on it more!”
Yunyun said in a fit of anger as she gently stroked Kuro.
Although Yunyun was quite worried, I didn’t think this cat would die so easily.
After all, it could climb onto another’s shoulder and frequently displayed an arrogant attitude. It was just a kitten, yet it was choosy about food.
It didn’t feel cat-like. Was it because it adapted to the rash living conditions of my family?
“Anyway, enough talk! Time to start making the potion! It’s time for me to show my special potion creation technique! Watch me annihilate the bastard known as ‘sickness’! Hahahaha…!”
“Meg-, Megumin. I don’t know what you’re doing, but you aren’t making poison, right? You must be making a beneficial potion, right? I thought I heard dangerous words like ‘annihilate’!”
Yunyun remained uneasily next to me, as I started to make this difficult potion—
Firstly, grind the dried Fire Drake’s liver into powder.
Next, use the mandrake root which possessed a strong life force…
“Ugh! Megumin’s mortar is producing sparks! Hey, Megumin, what are you making!?”
“Ah! It’s burning here! Ahahah, fire! Teacher, teacher!”
I ignored the anguished cries of people around me and took the knife to cut the mandrake root…
“Hey, there are some mandrake roots running around! Who took out the mandrake roots?!”
“…!? Uh, the plant Megumin is cutting should be mandrake root… right…?”
I ignored the noise made by everyone around me, and cut the struggling mandrake root. I placed the root pieces into the crucible… but this was not enough.
I must capture those mandrake roots that escaped…
“Here, I caught one. I don’t know what you are making, but it looks very interesting.”
Arue held the mandrake root tightly by its leaves, pressing on her eye patch with one hand. She smiled maliciously and handed the mandrake root to me.
“I’m making a high difficulty potion for curing sickness. Arue, are you done with your own potion? If you are so free, come and help me.”
“No problem. Okay, we must first cut this guy into pieces…”
“Listen, Arue. You must press it down like this or this guy will struggle really hard! It’s a plant monster after all, so there’s no need to be merciful! How annoying, stop struggling! Be obedient and let me cut you up!”
After Arue joined in, we continued the difficult work. Yunyun looked on with a pale expression.
Under Yunyun’s teary gaze, we were eventually done with the mandrake roots. Next, we finally started on the last ingredient.
A cute duck-like creature which constantly carried onions as a source of food— Onion Duck.
I needed the Onion Duck’s—!
“I won’t let you! Don’t go any further!”
Yunyun shouted suddenly and grabbed my hand from the side.
“What are you doing? Don’t interrupt my work.”
“But, but— this, this cute Onion Duck will…!”
Yunyun shook her head vigorously, and said tearfully.
The surrounding students unwittingly looked at me with an expression of grief.
Even the bewildered Onion Duck tilted its head and looked at me with its big round eyes.
Yes, really very cute. Although it was very cute…
“Megumin, this thing is cute, but it’s still a monster. There are many monsters in this world that look harmless and are actually very scary. You should know of the Tranquility Girl monster near the village, right? The monster can trigger a human’s sense of protectiveness, entice people not to abandon it, and finally cause them to starve themselves to death. No matter how cute a monster is, one must not be merciful.”
“That’s true! But, but!!”
Arue put her hand on Yunyun’s shoulder, who was still trying to argue. She said.
“Calm down. Megumin, which part of the Onion Duck do you need as ingredient? If it’s the innards, then we just have to kill it. Otherwise…”
Hearing this, Yunyun timidly glanced at me.
I said to Yunyun.
“I need the Onion Duck’s onions… You can relax now, right?”
I said and smiled to help her relax.
Yunyun relaxed and exhaled, letting go of my hand.
“After all, onions have curative properties. There are many uses for onions. You can eat it, roll it up, and even poke it in. And the Onion Duck’s onions are the fighting onions, right?”
Arue said and retrieved a few onions from the Onion Duck.
I watched Arue cut the onions and said to Yunyun.
“Seriously… what kind of person do you think I am? I still have protective feelings towards cute creatures. If possible, I don’t want to kill either.”
“You-, you are right. Sorry, I misjudged you, Megumin! This is great… I heard killing an Onion Duck would yield a lot of experience points, and they are very delicious when eaten…”
A rare monster that gives a lot of experience points?
Very delicious when eaten?
“I’m really sorry. After all, it can be used for both making medicine and increasing experience points, as well as becoming a meal. So I thought Megumin would say ‘Truly killing three birds with one stone’ and then…”
“Hand of Explosion!”
The Onion Duck suffocated and groaned miserably as I ruthlessly strangled its neck.
I examined my Adventurer’s Card and noticed that I gained two levels in an instant, as well as two skill points.
I flashed my Adventurer’s Card at the dumbstruck Yunyun in high spirits.
“Megumin, you big idiot! Ahhhh!”
“What is it, Onion Duck murderer? What do you want with me?”
“Megumin, you should apologize to Yunyun. The incident this morning deeply upset her. She’s still crying about it even now.”
I asked Funifura and Dodonko to meet me behind the school, and this is what they said upon seeing me.
“Call me Onion Duck murderer again and I will beat you up. And the disturbance this morning was because of you. Do you know how much I have done for you?”
Hearing my words, they looked at each other…
“Don’t tell me…”
“The potion you are holding is…”
“Yes. I made this potion for curing sickness.”
Both of them displayed a very disgusting expression.
“I know you are cautious, but this was made according to the teacher’s formula, so there shouldn’t be any problem. I used a bit more of some ingredients than instructed, but this should make the potion more potent. Come, come, no need to polite.”
Funifura took my potion unwillingly. She looked very uneasy.
“You won’t need to borrow Yunyun’s money now. Thus, hand over Yunyun’s money.”
“Eh! Wait, wait. We don’t know if this potion is really effective…!”
Without waiting for her to finish, I loudly interrupted.
“That doesn’t matter. And whether Funifura’s brother is really sick or not also doesn’t matter.”
I said decisively, causing them to be silent.
“Uh… no, this…”
“No, no… He, he is sick! Funifura’s brother is really sick!”
Dodonko said loudly, defending the speechless Funifura.
But this was irrelevant to me.
“The only thing that matters to me is how you tried to get close to that lonely and friendless girl to scam money off her. That kid’s intelligence is second only to me. She’s not an idiot. Even I think this event is suspicious. She can definitely sense it too.”
I said and moved forcefully towards them. They turned pale and hurriedly said.
“I know, I know! I will return the money! Hey, you-, your eyes are turning bright red!”
“Don’t be so serious. It-, it’s really scary!”
They begged for mercy as they handed over Yunyun’s money.
Ugh, so embarrassing. It looked like I was really angry.
When Crimson Demons become excited, their crimson eyes glow.
With this incident, my image as an ice queen was ruined.
“…So be it. I will hand this money back to Yunyun. If you get close to her because you really want to be her friends, then I guess it’s fine. But if you merely want to exploit her kindness and gullibility— I advise you not to do so. Else, I’ll use you for my first target after I learn magic.”
“I, I understand! You say that, yet your eyes are still bright red! You must be crazy in love with Yunyun!”
“We won’t bother the two of you in the future. We won’t interfere. You two can be lovey-dovey…!”
Funifura and Dodonko said this anxiously…
“…You must have misunderstood something. My relationship with Yunyun isn’t that good… And we’re not really friends.”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. No need to explain further.”
“Then again, for you to do so much for her, if that isn’t a friend, then what is it?”
Both of them impatiently fanned at their faces.
As if to say “Hot! Hot!”.
“If you ask me what our relationship is, it should be… purely, purely rivals…”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. Stop explaining. We understand. But to an onlooker, both of you are totally yuri*.”
Note (*): See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuri_%28genre%29
“Megumin’s eyes are totally crimson. This really is the Crimson Demons’ natural weakness — we cannot lie under such conditions.”
“Okay, we’ll stop here for now. You shouldn’t be too conceited just because you’re Number 1.”
“Right, right. While you two are being intimate with each other, we may overtake you. If I become Number 1, maybe your loving wife will become my rival instead? So if you want to get intimate, do so now…”
Such are the words of a sore loser. I didn’t let them finish, and simply pounced on them.
“Wait! Ahah! Don’t attack the magic potion that was so difficult to make! You are too cunning! Despicable! No, stop it…!”
“This person just can’t read the mood! That was just a speech to make our defeat look cool…! Ah, don’t…!”
After successfully defeating them, I happily returned to the classroom, planning to retrieve my school bag and Kuro. At this time, only Yunyun remained in the classroom.
“…What are you doing here alone?”
“What is this sarcastic remark!? I was waiting for you! Where did you go!? You even abandoned Kuro here!”
It looked like she wanted to go home with me.
“Nothing much. I had some business with Funifura.”
Before I noticed it, going home together after school had become our common practice. I thought of what Funifura last said.
…Well, the evil god’s minions were roaming in the village, after all. We should temporarily suspend our rivalry.
Yes, we are not friends, but at this dangerous time, we should…
Yunyun still sounded angry, but she also sounded relieved. Probably because she was lonely after waiting here for too long.
“This is rare. Megumin actually had business with Funifura. Let’s go home. The teacher said the ritual to seal the evil god will start this evening, so we should go quickly…”
“Here. This is for you.”
As Yunyun tidied her things in preparation to leave, I handed over the money I received from Funifura.
Yunyun held the small bag of money, looking perplexed.
My job was done here.
I took my school bag and tried to put Kuro inside, but for some reasons, Kuro was unwilling to enter the school bag.
It used its claws to cling to my shoulder, resisting vigorously.
“Hey, this money…”
“It’s from Funifura. The issue with her brother’s medicine was resolved, so she returned the money. Congratulations.”
I answered Yunyun as I struggled to remove Kuro’s claws from my shoulder.
This, this guy… Does it really resent the school bag so much…!
As I started a fierce battle with Kuro, Yunyun said,
“Hey, Megumin. Did you do something for Funifura’s brother? For example, making… a potion for curing sickness or something…”
She asked timidly.
See, Funifura and Dodonko? This kid’s intelligence was second only to me.
“As a realist, why would I do something that doesn’t benefit me?”
“When you put it like that, it’s super convincing!”
“Hey, why did you leave without a word!? I was waiting for you all this time, don’t leave me behind!”
—After leaving the school, the sun was already close to setting.
It was almost evening.
Yunyun hurriedly caught up from behind.
Since Kuro refused to enter the school bag, I left it on my shoulder and walked home.
“Hey, Megumin. Did you really have nothing to do with this?”
“You’re too suspicious. Even if I made a potion for Funifura’s brother, it’s not like it’s bothering anyone, right? Isn’t that great?”
“Then the disturbance that troubled everyone this morning was…?”
I chose to remain silent, quickening my pace. Yunyun hurriedly caught up again.
Then, she said to my side.
“…Hey, Megumin. Want to go there for a stroll… No-, not to repay you, just a sudden impulse… Since I got the money back, let me treat you.”
I stole a glance at her. She was smiling happily.
… My clever rival already had a general idea about what happened.
“I said I will treat you. Ugh, yes, I really said I will treat you.”
We walked out of the shop, intending to go home.
Yunyun examined her money bag, and sighed deeply.
“Thanks for the treat. I have never eaten so much in my life. It looks like I really cannot eat anymore today.”
“That’s great! Sigh, really…! Although I said you can order anything…!”
I listened to Yunyun’s complaints while walking slowly on the road dyed red by the setting sun.
“Huu… It’s really agonizing to walk after eating too much. Want to rest for a bit first? Let me digest my food.”
“Seriously… Seriously…! Why did you insist on eating so much? How desperate were you…!”
I brought Yunyun, who was half angry and half resigned, to the park in the Crimson Demon village.
It was called a park, but there was only a small pond, some benches, and a few small structures that acted as shelters from the rain.
I took Kuro down from my shoulder and laid down on the bench.
“Meg-, Megumin! Your skirt has flipped— Your panties can be seen! Ah, really…! A girl shouldn’t act like this…”
Yunyun meticulously arranged my skirt.
“Yunyun would make a good wife someday. After graduation, do you want to take care of me as your mistress? Even if you feed me plain rice daily, I will still say, ‘It’s delicious!’”
“N-, no! Why would I do that! You think I would be happy if you simply say my food is delicious!? …Simply saying it’s delicious every day… every day… Ugh, ugh…”
Like a super loser, Yunyun started to be seriously troubled.
She was always like this. This was probably why Funifura said she was yuri.
“Speaking of graduation, what would Yunyun do after I graduate? I can graduate with just one more skill point.”
“Eh, what? Megumin, didn’t you say that you’re still four points short of learning magic? After getting the Skill Up Potion yesterday, you should be three points short, just like me… Ahh!!”
Yunyun understood as she spoke.
“The Onion Duck in this morning! After killing the Onion Duck, your level…!”
“Yes, killing the Onion Duck increased my level by two. With the Skill Up Potion, I have gained three skill points. I just one more point to learn magic, so I’ll probably graduate after the next test.”
Kuro climbed onto my belly as I lay on the bench.
This thing is too shameless.
—Yunyun said softly and tearfully.
“But-But then… we can’t graduate together… I intentionally slowed down to match Megumin’s pace…”
Yunyun said sadly—
—I jumped up from the bench.
I ignored Kuro who fell off my belly and interrogated Yunyun.
“What did you say? Did you adjust your skill points just to graduate together with me? So the previous test result was not an accident. You intentionally didn’t get into the top three, so as to avoid receiving the Skill Up Potion, right?”
Yunyun shivered, “Oh no”— Her expression seemed to say.
There was no need for a confession. This reaction was more than sufficient.
“Why would you do such a silly thing! If you want to graduate with me, all you had to do was save up your skill points and avoid learning magic! You didn’t do that, and yet you didn’t tell me that you want to graduate together. You secretly did this on your own— Just how foolish are you!?”
“But Megumin! You started to slow down all of a sudden, so I had to! I always thought Megumin would graduate before me…!”
“Ah! You just said you’ve surpassed me!? Dream on! You never surpassed me! I’ll be honest with you. I don’t intend to learn Advanced Magic like the rest of you! I want to learn an all-powerful magic that far surpasses Advanced Magic! Look at my Adventurer’s Card! I’ve had more than enough points to learn Advanced Magic for a long time now!”
I excitedly stood up and flashed my Adventurer’s Card in front of Yunyun’s face. Yunyun stared at my card, as if she wanted to swallow it whole.
“Re-, really like this…! You really are amazing, Megumin…!”
“Uh… Hm, right. I’m really good. So don’t think you can easily surpass me.”
Yunyun broke into a genuine smile. I didn’t know how to respond to it.
As expected, she wished her rival to be better.
“Th-, then, I’m sorry I intentionally shaved my points. By the way, a magic more powerful than Advanced Magic… are you going to learn Blast magic? Or is it Detonation magic…”
…Hearing this, Yunyun suddenly became silent.
“Uh, what did you just say? I thought I heard ‘Explosion Magic’…”
“Correct, it is Explosion Magic. It is the one known as the most powerful spell.”
After Yunyun spent another moment in silence—
“What are you talking about! Explosion Magic, as in that Explosion Magic? The Explosion Magic that is considered useless? The one that requires the most skill points out of all the skills in all the jobs. Even if it’s learned, most people cannot activate it due to not having enough mana. Even if it’s activated, the caster would be unable to move due to mana exhaustion…”
“Yes, that Explosion Magic.”
I nodded vigorously. Yunyun sucked in a deep breath and—
“Are you stupid!? What are you saying, Megumin! What are you going to do with that!? That magic basically can’t be used by anyone. Even if it can be used, it’s only possible once per day. That’s a faulty magic with harsh requirements and impractical usage! What are you thinking? There is a very fine line between a genius and an idiot. Megumin, if you persist like this, you’ll really become an idiot!”
“Ev-, even if it is Yunyun, I won’t accept being called an idiot. I will make you suffer! …Anyway, I understand everything you said so far. I researched Explosion Magic thoroughly. I dare say that I’m the one who understands Explosion Magic best in this entire village.”
“If you understand it so well, why do you still want to learn it!? If it’s Megumin… You can definitely learn Advanced Magic, accumulate a lot of experience, and finally become an archmage who will make her mark in history…! Hey, what exactly is the reason!?”
I couldn’t understand why Yunyun was shouting so agitatedly. This was my personal decision.
“Obviously, that is because I love Explosion Magic.”
I gave the most honest answer.
Yunyun thought I had more complicated reasons. Hearing my answer, she widened her eyes.
“…As expected, Megumin is not a genius, but an idiot.”
“I just warned you not to call me an idiot!”
After saying this, I pounced on Yunyun.
“Ha… Ha…! I won…! My first victory over Megumin…!”
Yunyun was overjoyed. Her face was flushed red.
Dam-, damn it…! My first loss to Yunyun.
“Well, I didn’t fully exert my power just now. I can’t do so until there is a full moon.”
“That’s impossible! You aren’t a devil! Just admit defeat!”
I fought with Yunyun in the empty park for a while. Eventually, I was pressed down by Yunyun.
My hot sweaty body was pressed down on the cool floor. It felt very comfortable.
The sun had almost set, so the surroundings had darkened. Both of us were panting in the park.
In a moment of impulse, I engaged her in melee combat, in which she held an advantage.
“Sigh… I will admit defeat. Let go of me. I admit defeat. I lost, okay?”
So Yunyun obediently released me.
“…Hu. I admit defeat. Sigh. After eating so much food, it’s almost natural to lose. Thinking about it, I didn’t even exert half of my true strength.”
“Ahh! Don’t make excuses after I released you! That’s way too sly!”
I said to Yunyun as I cleaned the dirt off my knees.
“It’s great for you to win once before I go on my journey. Yunyun will succeed as the chief of Crimson Demons one day. I plan to tour the world after becoming an archmage, so it will be enough if you can become the next chief and spend your whole life peacefully in the Crimson Demon village.”
“Can’t you praise me for winning just this once!? You’re saying such sour words because you’re just unhappy about losing! …And, you… after graduating, you intend to travel?”
I carried Kuro who ran over to my feet, then said to Yunyun, who was feeling uneasy.
“Correct. I intend to travel. Actually, there is a reason why I love Explosion Magic. I will reveal this reason only to you.”
Kuro held firmly onto my cloak at my shoulder; maybe he really liked this spot. I patted its head and told Yunyun what I didn’t even tell my parents.
“When I was small, I was attacked by a monster. There was an Onee-san, a mage passing by, who used Explosion Magic to defeat the monster. The devastation caused by the Explosion Magic then was amazing. It was an overwhelming power, an absolute force. It was really so awesome that it deserved to be called the most powerful magic. Once you have seen it, you won’t be interested in other magic.”
I cannot remember the cloaked onee-san’s voice and aura clearly anymore, but the scene of Explosion was still deeply engraved in my mind.
Whenever I remembered it, I felt my chest getting hot and painful.
I wasn’t interested in gossip like Funifura and Dodonko. I didn’t have a great ambition like Yunyun, who was working hard to become the next chief.
I only wanted to meet that cloaked sister again and show her my Explosion Magic.
To meet her again and thank her… And ask her—
—My Explosion that I learned from you… How was it?
After hearing my only dream, Yunyun didn’t seem as dissatisfied as before, but had a clear, understanding expression. She sighed.
“If you have such a reason, there’s nothing more for me to say. But life as an Explosion-using mage would be really difficult. With Megumin’s mana, you may be able to cast it, but after that, you’d be helpless due to mana exhaustion. Going on a journey is great, but if you’re alone, wouldn’t you be attacked by other monsters after you’re unable to move? Do you have a way to find travelling companions?”
“I’m just like the friendless Yunyun. What can I do?”
“Why are you saying such things so boldly!? Hey, even if you are going on a journey, it won’t be immediately after learning magic, right? You’d still be staying in the village for a while, right?”
“Hm, yes. I can’t just abandon my sister. I’ll raise my level near the village for some time, and I will leave the village when my preparations are done.”
“Yunyun will be staying to succeed as chief, right? After all, the chiefdom of Crimson Demons is a hereditary position.”
“Yes. I feel I’ll succeed as chief, but I must accumulate various experiences before that. Currently, I’m being taken care of by Megumin, but one day, I…”
Right when Yunyun was about continue, Kuro, who was sprawled on my shoulder, suddenly reacted to a small noise.
It was the sound of paddling in the water.
I turned and looked—
“Ah, this is rare! A wild Onion Duck! To think it would appear inside the village…!”
An Onion Duck was paddling in the pond of the park, coming towards us.
It was delicious, yet for an unknown reason, it was never attacked by other monsters. This was an unique attribute of the Onion Duck.
A certain monster biologist once said that its cute appearance aroused the protective instincts of other monsters.
The Onion Duck left the pond and walked towards us in swaying steps.
To avoid scaring off the duck, Yunyun squatted down slowly. She looked at it gently, and continued the conversation.
“…Up to now, Megumin has been taking care of me, but one day I will become the village’s most powerful mage and be capable of protecting delicate life forms like the Onion Duck…”
I didn’t intend to let the Onion Duck escape. Without waiting for Yunyun to finish, I strangled the Onion Duck’s neck.
I held up the limp Onion Duck by its neck.
“Megumin grabs tonight’s dinner!”
“Megumin, you big idioooot!”
Yunyun cried and pounced on me.
“…Really, it’s all Yunyun’s fault. The sky is almost completely dark now.”
“Me!? It’s my fault!? How can you kill such cute creatures without even batting an eye? It’s your choice, it’s still too brutal! Can’t you have a bit of compassion!”
Yunyun angrily walked ahead by herself.
Because of the second round, the surroundings became dark.
The magic lamps around the village lit up, illuminating the road as if it was daytime.
“Today is basically one victory and one loss. In other words, a draw. We’ll count it as nothing ever happened. You don’t mind, right?”
“Of, of course I do! Isn’t it a fact that I won once!? As the perpetual loser, it doesn’t matter if I lose again. But this cannot be considered a draw or cancelled. One victory and one loss, that’s it! Eh, eh. I must write in my diary— Today, I won against Megumin.”
“Also write down that you were pinned helpless against the ground by me after that.”
“I won’t admit that! And you shouldn’t always use Kuro as a shield! …Why is it so close to you? You keep abusing it!”
Perplexed, Yunyun turned to look at Kuro, who merely sprawled on my shoulder and sneezed.
It really was a strange cat.
Under normal circumstances, after being subject to so many abuses, it wouldn’t be unusual for it to run away or be angry.
I happily took the Onion Duck as my victory prize, and hurried home.
Although I was full after Yunyun’s treat, my little sister was still starving.
I must hurry home and cook this duck for her to eat.
Yunyun stared straight at me as I hummed a song.
“Is Megumin really a girl? Where are your gentleness, consideration, and looks?”
“Is Yunyun really the chief’s daughter? Where is your noble taste of the Crimson Demons?”
After a while, both of us silently stopped and smiled maliciously at each other.
Today’s result was one victory and one loss.
Why don’t we settle it now— But Yunyun suddenly turned away.
“Sigh… Seriously. Why is every day like this when I’m with Megumin?”
“That’s my line. Why do you find fault with me every day?”
“Uh… This, this…”
Yunyun tried to gloss it over by walking on ahead. I smiled and drew closer.
I continued to smile maliciously as I followed behind Yunyun.
“…How annoying! To think I finally achieved a beautiful victory today! Does Megumin not feel at ease without doing this every day? When you join a party in the future, you’ll surely trouble others!”
“What are you saying? After I’ve learned Explosion Magic, I will be the party’s damage dealer. The demon king’s cadres won’t even be my match. With a rare genius of the Crimson Demons like me, the party will be famous worldwide. It will be an elite party full of advanced jobs…!”
I shared with Yunyun my imagined future. At this moment—
—Dang, dang, dang. Sharp noises echoed throughout the Crimson Demon village.
I remembered that this bell towed only for emergency situations.
What happened? —I turned back to look…
A countless number of flying monsters entered my vision.
They seemed to be searching for something, dispersing and looking everywhere…!
“Meg-… Meg-, Megumin! That! Isn’t that—!”
“Ca-, ca-, calm down, Yunyun. The homeroom teacher said they will forcefully seal the evil god! And that irresponsible homeroom teacher also said that even if it fails, there is still ‘that thing’ to use! Therefore, this matter will be resolved quickly!”
Or rather, the homeroom teacher was hoping for the seal to fail.
So there should be nothing to worry about.
I even thought that the homeroom teacher would mess up the sealing ritual on purpose.
Kuro, who was lying on my shoulder, hid itself inside the school bag that it refused to enter just a short while ago.
Although it was a rude kitten, it would still be afraid of monsters.
“Hey… Meg- Megumin!”
I closed my school bag over Kuro. At this time, Yunyun pulled on my sleeves.
She looked at the sky with a pale expression.
“Did… did you notice they’re flying towards us?”
She pointed at the monsters flying towards us.
“We’re running! My home is closest from here! Yunyun, if something happens to me, don’t bother with me. And don’t look back. I’ll leave this place to you, I’m leaving now!”
After Yunyun heard this…!
“Id- idiot! What are you saying! How can I abandon Megumin an-… and… Eh, uh? What did you just say!? Hey, what did you just say!?”
Yunyun, who noticed my attempt to gloss things over, protested angrily and nearly cried.
I ignored her words. Turning my head, I discovered that the monsters were closing in on us.
“Yu-, Yunyun! How many skill points do you have!? You still don’t have enough to learn Advanced Magic!?”
“Of course not! If Megumin gives up on Explosion Magic and learns Advanced Magic, these monsters won’t stand a chance! Hey, just do it!”
Yunyun cried out. But this was the only thing I wouldn’t compromise on.
The reason I worked so hard until now was to learn Explosion Magic.
“We’re finished, they caught up…! …Eh?”
“…It looks like they merely flew past.”
Some monsters ignored us and flew off somewhere.
I sighed in relief and turned to look at where the bell was towing.
Between each bell tow, white light flashed across the dark sky.
Surely it was the adults in the village who found an opportunity to vent and unleash their power.
The monsters should be suppressed by them soon, but we should still hurry home.
“Yunyun, come to my home and stay over for tonight.”
“Eh!? Sta-, stay over at your house? Is that really okay!?”
“No problem. There are monsters about, so do you really intend to go home alone? You can wear my pajamas, but if you dare to complain about the chest area being too tight or size too small, I’ll let you sleep naked.”
“I, I won’t say that! I can endure such trivial things!”
Yunyun didn’t deny that the clothes might be too small or chest area too tight.
Although I very wanted to start Round Three, now is really not the time.
“My house is just ahead, so let’s hurry. Only my sister will be home today. Even if she is hungry, she will obediently watch the house with the door and windows closed. Although it’s a small and broken house, if the windows and door are closed properly, even those monsters won’t—“
Get in— I wanted to say.
—And I saw the completely ruined front door.
I dropped the school bag in my hand, and said softly.
INTERLUDE: SCENE 4
—Oyakodon* For the Femme Fatale little Sister!—
TL note: A dish containing chicken and egg.
“Sigh. We finally solved that puzzle, and another one appeared again, Komekko.”
“I can’t read the words on them. Lord Hoost, please read.”
“You can call me Hoost directly if you like. I’ll call you Komekko too.”
After we both agreed, Hoost read the words that appeared on the tombstone.
“‘Ye who desire to break the seal, present thy oblation of a female bird and its child. Offer thy oblation and pray…’ I can’t read the last part. Basically, we need to present an offering. Female bird and child, huh. Well, I feel like it should be something more flashy, but whatever. Still, it is difficult to find such creatures in this forest…”
Annoyed, Hoost smacked his fist on his palm.
“Right! Hey, Komekko, I’ll give you money. Go into the village and buy a female bird and its child. Make sure it’s of high quality!”
I took Hoost’s money and returned to the village.
—One hour later.
“I’m back! I bought it!”
“Oh, well done. Let me give you a bit of… uh, what is this?”
I was holding a bowl carefully in both hands so as to not spill it. Hoost tilted its head and looked at me in confusion.
I put the bowl respectfully on the altar.
“This is the offering, oyakodon.”
“Are you an idiot!?”
Hoost opened the cover of the bowl and looked inside…
“Oh… You’re right. It is indeed in line with the tombstone text. It’s a female bird and child. But I have never heard of okyakodon being able to break seals. I thought I would be able to see Lady Wolbach’s other half…”
“Who is Lady Wolbach?”
“Uh? Lady Wolbach’s true form is a huge black monster. You will pee your pants when you see it! …Oh well, it looks like I must prepare the offering myself. Getting this offering ready will take some time…”
Hoost said and spread its wings.
Then, Hoost turned around suddenly to ask me.
“…This is how it is. It may be some time before we meet again. When I return, I’ll play with you again, so don’t tell anyone about me, okay? … Feel free to eat that okyakodon. Bye bye.”
After saying that, he finally flew away.
—Some time later.
I sat on the altar, eating the okyakodon. Just then.
Suddenly, I heard a noise from the bushes, so I turned to look.
A black beast emerged from the bushes.
…Its body was really small.
The beast slowly moved to my side as I recovered from surprise and hurriedly ate the okyakodon.
It looked like it wanted to eat my okyakodon.
It seemed to be asserting that this bowl of rice belonged to him. But no, this was something Hoost gave me.
I stood up to eat the okyakodon. The black beast suddenly attacked me.
—Although it kept running between my legs and struggled for a long time, after a long battle, it finally gave up and ended up motionless.
Even when I carried it and bit its head a few times, the beast didn’t move.
After the fierce battle, I carried my battle prize home.