CHAPTER 5: VISITOR FROM THE CRIMSON DEMON VILLAGE
Translator: Sine Nomine
Editor(s): AMetroid, Cannongerbil, Xenthur, YuNS
I sat in the shaking carriage and sighed.
“Really, what a group of strange people…”
From the carriage window, I could see Alcanretia in the distance.
Even the Demon King had some measure of fear for the Axis Cult.
What we witnessed was probably just a small aspect of them.
While I was immersed in my thoughts, someone pulled on my clothes.
It was Yunyun, who was sitting next to me.
…This kid was having the same thoughts as me?
“Hey, Megumin, is there anything interesting, or any strange creatures? Let me look through the window.”
She said such unsentimental words to me, who was sitting by the window.
“…Yunyun is so childish. I was reminiscing about something…”
“Ch-Childish!? Hey, wait a minute, my growth is faster than yours… Ah! What! Why are you sighing!”
I ignored Yunyun as she shook my shoulder and looked at the scenery beyond the window.
—The carriage was moving towards the town of Rookie Adventurers, Axel.
There were five seats per row in this carriage. Including Yunyun and me, there were a total of 10 passengers.
I snatched the window seat immediately upon boarding…
“Hey, it has been an hour. Let me have the window seat for a while!”
“No way. In terms of my body clock, it has only been less than 10 minutes. Besides, when I took the window seat, you even complained and asked me not to do such childish things, right?”
“But it seems so enjoyable to look at the scenery outside the window!”
“Of course it is enjoyable. I don’t get to take a carriage often… Ah! I see Lizard Runners! There are two Lizard Runners competing for the female! Which one will win? I’m so concerned…”
“Hey, quick! Change and let me see!”
“Hehe… you girls really get along.”
Someone was watching us fight over the window seat and was laughing.
Or rather, every passenger in the carriage was smiling and looking at us.
Yunyun blushed and shrank her body. The auntie at the side offered her a snack.
“Young lady, have some.”
“Then I won’t stand on ceremony.”
I reached out and took the snack offered to Yunyun, who immediately reacted.
The auntie smiled kindly.
“Here, there’s one for you too. Since you’re going to Axel, are you aiming to become adventurers?”
The auntie offered the snack to Yunyun and asked.
Overwhelmed by her favor, Yunyun received the snack and gave half of it to Chomusuke, who was sniffing at it on her knees.
For some reason, the girl opposite was staring at Chomusuke as it dug into the snack.
“Yes. I intend to become an adventurer. First, I’m going to Axel to find companions… By the way, Yunyun, are you going to be an adventurer too? Your goal is to find weak monsters for training, right?”
“Eh!? I-I… What should I do? If I’m alone, I might get into trouble… I should find some companions…”
“True. Once we use up all our mana, we would be no different from ordinary people. Companions are necessary.”
“Th-That’s true! Megumin and I have the same idea! So Megumin, uh…”
“If a party has two mages, the party would be unbalanced. I hope I can find a party that is lacking a mage… What, Yunyun? Why are you panicking?”
“N-No! That’s true. Two mages in the same party would spoil the balance…”
After panicking, Yunyun quickly became dejected and silently ate her snack.
I looked at her puzzled. The auntie smiled.
“Both of you have crimson eyes, so you must be Crimson Demons, right? You’ll both be very popular in Axel. I hope you can find your desired companions.”
Her words caused an uproar in the carriage.
“Crimson Demons? There are two Crimson Demons in the carriage?”
“We can relax on this trip. We won’t get a chance to act.”
“Well, no monsters will attack such a large trade caravan in the first place.”
It seemed there were adventurers on guard duty for the caravan among the passengers.
“Don’t worry. I’m the top genius of the Crimson Demons. Even if monsters attack, nobody will be hurt in my presence!”
“That’s the Crimson Demons for you!”
“Hey, wait, Megumin! Since there are guards, let them do the job! Megumin’s magic would only cause more damage!”
Yunyun warned me softly, but I couldn’t care less while being admired by the surrounding people.
…After a moment of self-satisfaction, a shadow appeared outside the window.
But there was nothing there…
No. Was there something in the sky?
The shadow was cast on the ground, moving along with the carriage. Then, the shadow became smaller.
When I put my head out of the window to check, the shadow vanished.
Was it a bird? Or a flying monster?
“Hey, Megumin. Did you discover something fun again? Let me see!”
“I’m not changing. Seating is on a first-come-first-served basis!”
Then, someone interrupted us as we began arguing again.
“Hey, onee-san, I can change seats with you.”
That was the little girl sitting opposite, who was travelling with the auntie.
Being accommodated by a child, Yunyun lowered her head in embarrassment.
…I should be a bit more self-dignified too.
This trade caravan consisted of 10 carriages. It took on paying passengers while transporting the trade goods from various cities.
Someone said earlier that no monsters would attack such a large caravan.
It is currently noon.
We stopped to let the horses rest.
It was open country from Alcanretia to Axel.
Endless grass plains surrounded us on all sides.
“So peaceful… Looking at this scenery, it feels like the rumor that the Demon King’s army has attacked the Capital is a lie…”
Sitting on the grass, Yunyun said as she narrowed her eyes to gaze at the scenery.
The other passengers were also sitting on the grass to rest. Some were eating, others were sleeping.
“Albays way suk things…”
“Don’t eat and speak at the same time.”
“Gu… If you keep saying such things, it will raise a flag and attract monsters to attack. Of course, I feel like using magic, so that’s fine by me.”
“…It looks like we should be more careful. Be more vigilant…”
As Yunyun attempted to lower the flag…
“If the rest of the journey goes well, we will be in Axel by tomorrow afternoon.”
“Shut up! Don’t raise any more flags! We all learned this at school! This phrase was recorded in the collection of ‘Unspeakable Phrases’!”
Yunyun started shaking my shoulders.
“No problem. Our caravan is so large. Based on my calculations, our chance of being attacked by monsters is below 0.1%.”
“Shut up! Do you really want to be attacked by monsters!? You’re just saying that so you get to perform before everyone, right!?”
Of course, but…
“I say that, but merely saying it won’t attract monsters. We have so many people, after all. The monsters are not stupid.”
“That’s true… but you still—“
—shouldn’t say such strange things.
Yunyun never finished her sentence.
“Monsters have appeared!”
The adventurers on guard duty shouted as they patrolled the plains—
“That’s why I said not to say such flag-raising phrases! I warned you about this!”
“Wa-Wait, this is not my fault! It is really strange that there is an attack when we have this many adventurers as guards!”
I hurriedly found an excuse to manage teary-eyed Yunyun and examined my surroundings.
The adventurers who were on guard duty went back and forth to protect their employer and the customers.
One of them looked towards us.
“Crimson Demons Sensei! I know it is rude to ask this of the customers, but there are too many monsters. Can you please help us?”
Then, the adventurer took out the spears stored in the back of the carriage.
“Sensei!? Yunyun, did you hear that? He called us sensei!”
“I-I heard it. He said that—! Why are you so excited!? What struck a chord in Megumin’s heart!?”
To be so honored, and yet Yunyun still couldn’t get it. She took out her staff from her waist.
“The term ‘sensei’ is so cool! Let’s go, Yunyun! Think of this as maintaining the reputation of the Crimson Demons. We will lay waste to those monsters!”
I said and raised my staff.
The staff I received from everyone in the Crimson Demon Village. The ruby at its end was emitting a glaring light.
The surroundings are a broad open plain.
No matter which direction the monsters came from, I could destroy them with Explosion magic before they came close.
“Hahahahaha! My name is Megumin! The top genius of the Crimson Demons who uses Explosion magic! Behold while I blast this plain into a crater!”
I shouted confidently.
“She’s truly great! So reliable!”
The adventurer who took the spear earlier stabbed at the ground. What was he doing?
My suspicion was cleared in an instance. The ground stabbed by the spear suddenly rose.
“This is a small matter. There are many, but they’re not strong! It’s easier for us when they all come at once like this. After all…”
At the same time, the thing that came out of the ground was…
“The enemies are the common mob monsters, giant earthworms!”
The carnivorous earthworm had a body about five meters in length and one meter in diameter.
Dumbstruck, Yunyun and I stared at its spectacular form at this close range.
I felt the cries and roars nearby fading away.
Ah, I’m about to faint.
“These monsters have soft bodies, so they don’t have much attack power! They are big and very durable, but as long as you avoid being swallowed alive…”
The adventurer was saying something, but I wasn’t listening.
The giant earthworm had no eyes, yet it was facing this way.
This behavior alone was enough to make me break out in goosebumps.
A mouth opened in its pink head…!
—My endurance was at its limit.
“Megumin, wait! I understand your feelings! I really do! But there are so many people here, so don’t use your magic! Otherwise, everyone will get hit too!”
Yunyun grabbed my cloak tightly as I began the incantation to cast Explosion magic.
“Let go of me! I will lay waste to this disgusting thing! It’s looking this way! It’s looking me ahh!”
“I know! I don’t want to get close to it either— Let me handle this!”
Even though she was about to lose her reason before the giant earthworm, Yunyun still raised her staff and walked forward.
Yunyun’s hand was full of goosebumps.
This giant earthworm should respond to sounds and movements.
It aimed at Yunyun as she began the incantation.
“It-It-It’s coming over! Yunyun! Yunyun!”
“Stop pushing me! I will finish it off now. Stop using me as a shield! Fireball!!”
With tears streaming down her face, Yunyun released her magic!
The power of the magic used by Crimson Demons with large amounts of mana was different from those used by ordinary mages.
Following a loud explosion, Yunyun’s fireball blew up the upper body of the earthworm.
“O-One hit!? The Crimson Demons are so powerful…!”
“She destroyed the giant earthworm known for its high endurance so easily…!”
There were sounds of surprise everywhere. Yunyun was probably afraid of the disgusting earthworm, so she must have imbued too much mana into her staff.
It was inefficient and resulted in an overpowered attack, but this attack brought the cheers of the watching adventurers.
An armored adventurer with a sabre came towards us.
“We can win easily like this! Sensei, my Detect Enemy skill tells me that there are still many earthworms underground! We’ll leave them to you!”
He said and ran off to protect the merchants.
E-Even if you said there were many earthworms underground…!
At this time, as if to prove the adventurer’s words, the ground nearby started to shake.
“I-If it is just this trash, an Archmage like me won’t need to take action! I’m very worried about the safety of that auntie who gave us the snack earlier and that little girl, so I will return to the carriage…!”
“If you are an Archmage, help me think of something! Oh no, there are so many! Hey, Megumin, at least look at those earthworms when you speak!”
—Back inside the carriage.
Along with the adventurers, we successfully drove off the large amount of giant earthworms…
“Wow! So these are the Crimson Demons! It is an eye-opener! It’s unbelievable for a single person to kill off so many giant earthworms!”
“That’s right. I heard that Crimson Demons are excellent mages, but I didn’t expect them to be this powerful!”
“Is it true that this isn’t the full power of the Crimson Demons? Too powerful…!”
Yunyun was forced to sit in the middle of the carriage. The adventurers and passengers were ceaselessly praising her. She lowered her head in embarrassment.
Yunyun had reduced many earthworms to ashes. When she recovered her wits, she discovered more than half of the earthworms were killed by her.
Since the corpses may attract other monsters, we departed without resting.
Yunyun, who made the most contributions, was being “attacked” by questions like “What is your destination?”.
“It is so lucky to have you onboard. We will properly thank you when we reach Axel. After all, you didn’t take on the job of guarding the caravan. At the very least, let me pay you for doing so!”
“No… No… It was nothing…”
She said with a soft voice. After being praised, Yunyun was even more embarrassed.
As for me…
“Onee-san must be more powerful than that sister who wears ribbons, right? We can be at ease next time if more powerful monsters appear!”
“…Right. When more powerful monsters appear, I will take action. At that time, I will let you witness my sure-kill magic.”
“I’ll look forward to it!”
I sat at the window two seats away from Yunyun and listened to the little girl’s praise.
It shouldn’t be like this…
Of course, there was an excuse— If I had used Explosion magic in that situation, the carriages and passengers would’ve been blown away.
So leaving it to Yunyun was the right choice— Of course, I was somewhat afraid of those earthworms…
“I heard that Crimson Demons love attention and fighting and standing out, but you are like a normal person!”
“That’s right. Humble and serious. I need to change my impression of the Crimson Demons!”
“When I heard that there are Crimson Demons in the carriage, I was worried there might be trouble. It seemed I was worrying over nothing!”
“It-It isn’t like that… I-I was always the weird one in the village…”
“You are being modest again! You say you are just a dabbler, but you’re probably the most powerful Crimson Demon!”
“That’s right. I don’t believe a powerful person like you is merely a dabbler. I heard when Crimson Demons take the stage, they would declare their strange names. You definitely qualify to use the title of ‘The Crimson Demons’ Number One Mage’, right?”
“Onee-san, what happened? Are you hurt? Were you injured in the previous battle?”
I grinded my teeth in pain. The little girl opposite was worried.
“—the Crimson Demons’ Number One Mage, huh. I’m a bit embarrassed…”
Yunyun finally left those people behind and came next to me. She mumbled to herself excitedly.
“You merely defeated some trash monsters. If there were nobody in the way, I could’ve wiped them all out! So don’t think you’ve won!”
“I-I didn’t think I’ve won! It’s just… It’s just that the passengers acknowledged my strength…”
Yunyun explained hurriedly, but the smile persisted on her face.
“Let’s have a match! We will see who is stronger during the next rest time!”
“Wh-What! A match? Fine, I accept the challenge! Anyway, we haven’t had a match since we graduated. Since both of us have learned magic, it’s time to decide who is the real ‘Crimson Demons’ Number One Mage’!”
“Ah, then forget it. I don’t want to gamble the title of ‘The Crimson Demons’ Number One’ in this kind of match.”
“Hey, hey, wait! You’re trying to run off after winning!”
I ignored the noisy Yunyun and turned my head towards the window.
“Hey, are you listening!? Since you refuse the challenge, I win by default…! …Megumin! What is it? Is it competing Lizard Runners again?”
“…No, I was probably seeing things.”
I replied haphazardly to Yunyun, who was asking curiously.
…I thought I saw a shadow earlier.
Maybe a giant bird was attracted by the dead earthworms and flew overhead.
When I started to argue with Yunyun again, I had forgotten about the shadow—
“Come, sensei! Please eat. At least recover some energy!”
“Th-Thank you very much.”
The rest of the journey was uneventful. The sun had set and the surroundings were in darkness.
The carriages stopped by the lake and we set up camp.
Yunyun was invited to the campfire by the merchant leader.
“It is so rare for a 13-year-old to be so proficient in magic. Is this the norm in the Crimson Demon Village?”
“No-Not at all. Some of my fellow classmates can use advanced magic, so my standard is actually below average…”
“Advanced magic! They can use advanced magic at this age! No wonder even the Demon King’s army is afraid of the Crimson Demons!”
It seemed the merchant leader really took a liking to Yunyun.
He took a tasty-looking piece of meat from the barbeque pit and offered it to Yunyun.
“…Meg-Megumin, do you want some? It’s very tasty.”
I put Chomusuke on my knees and looked at her from a distance. She noticed it and said, “Gu…”
I felt I would have lost if I accepted the meat.
I didn’t participate in the previous fight because there were other people in the area.
If the battlefield had been wider, this wouldn’t be happening.
I was the top genius of the Crimson Demons, so I wouldn’t be discouraged because of one failure!
“Little sister, come and eat as well. You must eat more, so you can be like your elder sister.”
“…We are fellow classmates.”
“Eh!? M-My apologies. How do I say this… Yunyun-san looked more mature, so…”
“If you have any comments about my growth, please say it.”
As I was about to argue with the leader, an adventurer returned from patrol.
He was equipped with leather armor and a dagger, so he was probably a thief.
“I completed one patrol. No sign of monsters nearby.”
He seemed to have whistled nearby earlier.
“Assign the minimum number of people for night watch. Everyone else rest early. Many monsters are afraid of fire, but conversely, fire can attract more intelligent monsters. Pass these words along to the other adventurers.”
That person lit a fire and went off to find other adventurers.
“Ah, ah. I better go along and lead them directly.”
The leader hurriedly added and left for elsewhere with that adventurer who made his report.
…He was probably afraid of being pestered by me and wanted to escape.
Other passengers were fast asleep in the carriages. The journey seemed to have tired them out.
Yunyun and I remained alone by the fire.
“…Hey, Megumin. My performance today was great.”
Yunyun said excitedly.
“Is that a jab at me because I wasn’t able to take action?”
“No-Not true! I didn’t think like that. Don’t come closer!”
She quickly explained as I approached slowly. Then, she recovered and said shyly.
“…Think about it. When I was in the village, I was just an inconspicuous kid…”
“That’s true. I frequently wondered if you were using the Invisibility skill.”
“Hey, wait… Nev-Never mind— Today, I finally showed my mettle and was relied upon by so many people, right?”
Yunyun lowered her head and said happily.
…I suddenly noticed Chomusuke on my lap was staring in a fixed direction.
“So, I-I have a bit of confidence now. Actually, I wanted to say this after I learned advanced magic— Megumin, if it is possible, uh… you and I… together…?”
It was staring at a patch of darkness.
What was it?
I thought and stood up…
Something flapped its wings and flew out of the darkness Chomusuke was staring at.
“To-Together form a party… Eh?”
That flying thing seized Chomusuke and vanished into the darkness…
“…Chomusuke was taken so easily. Is this a new method to hit on someone?”
The creature that took Chomusuke wasn’t alone in emerging from the darkness.
Following the piercing sounds of flapping wings were—
“Kyaaa! Giant bats! It’s a colony of giant bats!”
Vulture-sized giant bats attacked in the glow of the campfire!
I picked up Chomusuke. Bat corpses were everywhere.
“Phew. That’s lucky. You were nearly taken away and eaten by a bat.”
I said to Chomusuke, while Yunyun looked over with reprimanding eyes. She was panting heavily.
“Yunyun, sorry for the trouble. You sure did do well this time as well.”
“You should help! In this darkness, the other adventurers’ attacks have low accuracy! My ma-ma-mana is about…”
Yunyun staggered and sat down. At this time, the leader and other adventurers came over.
I wanted to help, but if I used Explosion magic in the darkness, who knew how many people I would hurt by accident?
“Yunyun-san, thank you very much! You saved us again! This journey depended so much on you. I really don’t know what to say…!”
“Right, you are so powerful! How do you release intermediate magic of such power?”
“Hey, you are going to Axel to find a party, right? Want to join my party…”
Everyone was busy praising Yunyun.
But Yunyun, who exhausted her mana, doesn’t seem to pay it much heed.
“It’s late. Yunyun-san has used up all her mana. She looks really exhausted. Whatever you have to say, leave it for tomorrow. Yunyun-san, please have a good rest!”
At the leader’s orders, everyone else dispersed to rest.
At this time, an adventurer, who was next to Yunyun, glanced at me.
“By the way, what did that kid do? She didn’t do much when we were fighting the giant earthworms, either…”
“Idiot. She must have been protecting the passengers.”
“Even so, she should have used a bit of magic….”
I listened to such critique as I walked over to Yunyun.
Although she was very tired, she still looked at me with great satisfaction.
“Megumin, how was my performance?”
I covered myself with my blanket, closed my eyes, and slept at Yunyun’s side. Only the portion of my head from my nose up was exposed.
I wasn’t unhappy or dissatisfied because I didn’t participate.
“So intermediate magic is still acceptable? I think it’s quite useful.”
“Is that so~”
“Hey, don’t sulk just because you didn’t get a chance to use Explosion magic.”
I wasn’t sulking!
“…Uh, I say, let’s continue our earlier conversation… If it’s possible, form a party with me…”
I grinded my teeth at my own sense of incompetence. I wasn’t really listening to Yunyun and merely responded perfunctorily.
The next day morning.
“Sorry for troubling you for help last night! Wow, the Crimson Demons are really reliable!”
“No-Not at all… I-I have a lot of faults…”
In the shaking carriage, Yunyun continued to be very popular.
She continued to blush and lower her head as if she was not used to being praised. However, her voice was slightly louder, as if she was more confident than before.
I clenched my teeth and glared at Yunyun who was being fawned over, and turned to look out of the window.
“Last night, onee-san also went to vanquish the monsters, right? I was asleep, so I don’t know what happened.”
The little girl sitting opposite innocently said.
“I’m the trump card for emergencies. I will use my power only when there is a really strong enemy. So last night, I let my minion, that girl over there, clean up those monsters.”
“Hey! I heard that!”
My minion, who was sitting in the middle of the carriage, protested.
“By the way, that was the second monster attack. There shouldn’t be a third time, so let’s relax until we reach Axel.”
“How many times have I warned you not to raise flags?! Isn’t it said that bad things happen in threes?!”
I chuckled in disdain at Yunyun’s anxiety.
—After the last goblin had fallen, I sighed.
“Phew… It’s finally over. Well, it’s nothing we Crimson Demons couldn’t handle…”
“Why are you acting like you’ve accomplished something? The adventurers and I did all the work! Megumin was just relaxing on the sidelines! I told you so many times not to raise flags! It’s all your fault we keep getting attacked my monsters!”
I chose to view the surrounding scenery.
The place was filled with dead humanoid corpses about the size of a human child— goblins.
…How should I put this…
This was already the third time the caravan was attacked by monsters… But I didn’t think I was responsible for them.
Even so, it was very strange for a large caravan to be attacked so often in such a short time.
…Was it really because of my unnecessary words?
Although it was merely low level monsters like goblins, the numbers were truly staggering. The exhausted adventurers panted heavily and sat down on the ground.
We were attacked just as we almost arrived at Axel.
…Annoying. This trip was really uneasy.
Teleport from the Crimson Demon Village to Alcanretia, then go to Axel by carriage.
A simple trip like this was filled with disasters.
It was a mess in Alcanretia dealing with the weird old guy. The caravan to Axel was repeatedly attacked by monsters.
Thinking back on these encounters—
The little girl emerged from the carriage with the auntie leading her.
“And onii-chans… Thank you very much.”
She said and smiled sweetly.
Her words brought smiles to the tired adventurers.
Seeing her smile made me feel that my hard work wasn’t wasted.
“No need for thanks. Defeating these trash monsters is nothing worth mentioning.”
“Hey, you didn’t do anything, Megumin! Why do you act as if you made the most contributions! You’re the only one who didn’t contribute!”
Even though she had probably exhausted her mana, Yunyun jumped up from her sitting position to protest.
Seeing this scene, the adventurers and passengers laughed.
—At this time.
A sharp female voice said and a beam of light flashed over.
The lightning bolt struck from the sky and pierced the head of a carriage horse.
Seeing the horse get it’s head blown off, the adventurers jumped up from the ground.
They hurriedly looked in the direction of the magic—
“Hehe. Look at your exhausted selves. I will surely bring back Lady Wolbach this time. I have seen the extent of your powers. There is nobody to save you all now. Don’t think you will be as lucky as you were in the Crimson Demon Village and Alcanretia, okay?”
This time, she was no longer in hiding.
She was the greater devil flying in the sky with her wings— Arnes.
I sighed deeply.
“You are a real bother. This little one is my Chomusuke. When are you going to give up?”
I said and picked up Chomusuke, who was pestering me at my feet.
I thought Arnes would be worried when she saw me using my shameless familiar as a shield, but this wasn’t the case.
She descended upon the ground lightly and confidently said.
“You are the one who should give up… I already paid the money. If you don’t intend to give me Lady Wolbach, return it to me.”
Hearing her demand for money, I shivered. But this wasn’t the time to back off!
“I-I-I-I won’t give in to your threats. The Axis Cultists told me that even if you break your deal with a devil, no god will strike you down!”
“It’s true the Axis Cultists say that, but this is too unreasonable! Hey, Megumin, if you are short on money, I will pay. For now, listen to her…”
Yunyun came over to suggest, but Arnes scolded us angrily.
“That’s why humans cannot be trusted! We devils ceased granting wishes in exchange for souls because you humans always find excuses to avoid payment after having your wishes granted! And the wishes were so unreasonable! You humans should live more honestly!”
I didn’t expect we would receive a lecture on honesty by a devil.
This devil must’ve a lot of bad experiences.
“In any case, even if you return the money, I will be taking Lady Wolbach with me! That little Crimson Demon girl, you are the most powerful among this lot! I also know you have just exhausted your mana! In other words, you are helpless to resist me! Oh, and don’t make any sudden moves, you other adventurers! I can kill all of you with a snap! Stop stalling for time and hand Lady Wolbach over!”
If she knew Yunyun’s mana was exhausted, she must have been observing our fights. She chose the best time to appear.
And why did she say Yunyun was the most powerful among us?
I, the top genius of the Crimson Demons, was still here, yet she said nobody could resist her. It made me fume.
“Uh, I have not exhausted my mana. Or rather, I’m the trump card of this caravan. You should be more cautious…”
“Get lost, useless Crimson Demon.”
“Hey, who is ‘useless Crimson Demon’ referring to? Who do you think I am? I’m…”
“An Archmage who couldn’t use magic? I didn’t lose so many times for nothing. I have been carefully observing you since Alcanretia.”
She was observing me…
I finally understood.
Normally, a large caravan like this would not be attacked so often by monsters.
“…Those giant earthworms and giant bats, plus the goblins— They were all arranged by you?”
Hearing my question, Arnes smiled maliciously.
“You noticed? That’s right. Consider it as a bit of revenge for causing me so much woe. A bit of killing intent from a greater devil like me would be enough to force these weak monsters out… That’s right. I wanted to see this expression! This helpless and dissatisfied expression!”
“This journey should’ve been an enjoyable one, but because of you, I have become an unpopular kid! This price…”
Would be very high!
As I was about to say it, that thief adventurer directed a sneak attack at Arnes!
I only noticed his presence now.
He must have used Lurk skill to get close to Arnes.
That adventurer pounced on Arnes…
“You are in the way!”
Arnes casually swung her fist and sent him flying.
The others were watching for an opening. Seeing this scene, they backed off.
The adventurer who was attacked lay motionlessly on the ground.
“Damn it…! Everyone! Surround her!”
A person in knight armor ordered the other adventurers, and everyone rushed at Arnes!
This person must be the leading adventurer.
“—Th-This girl is ridiculously strong! … Why is such a powerful devil near the City of Rookies?”
An adventurer cried out as he threw his ruined shield on the floor.
—This was a disaster.
All the adventurers guarding the caravan were defeated. Some were so heavily injured that they would die if they did not receive healing soon.
Besides Yunyun and I who stood in our original spots, only two people were left out of the 20 or more adventurers.
The watching passengers were seized by fear, too scared to drive the carriages away.
Yunyun and I were passengers, but since we could fight, we couldn’t just shamelessly hide inside the carriage.
Even though Yunyun exhausted her mana, she drew her silver dagger, searching for an opening from Arnes.
“Arnes, have a duel with me! I am the top genius of the Crimson Demons! Your goal is Chomusuke, right? This furball is yours if you defeat me… Hey, listen to me!”
Even using Chomusuke as bait, Arnes continued to ignore me. It seemed like I was performing a soliloquy.
It was good that the adventurers were willing to fight, but once they engaged her, I couldn’t use Explosion magic anymore.
I wanted to change the location so I could fight her alone…!
“…I will finish you off last! I will defeat these people who are still putting up a fight. I won’t be deceived by you anymore. I already know you can’t use magic! Think about it, even when we first met, that girl was the one who used magic. You didn’t use magic at all. It was the same in Alcanretia. If you could use magic, I would have at least heard your incantation.”
Arnes didn’t even look at me.
I couldn’t use magic?
Oh, someone was saying the same thing earlier.
Of course I couldn’t use Explosion magic in the Crimson Demon Village. Using it in the streets of Alcanretia was also impossible…
“I got suspicious since that time. I suspected that you couldn’t use magic for some reason. To be cautious, I even summoned those monsters— The result was what I expected! You never used magic during any of the three monster attacks!”
Arnes shouted in joy as she pounced on one of the two remaining adventurers.
The adventurer counter-attacked with a sword, but Arnes easily grabbed the sword and kicked the adventurer’s legs.
The heavily armored adventurer fell after being kicked.
In the end, he collapsed while foaming at the mouth.
“…It seems you have a grave misunderstanding. I didn’t use magic because if I do so, the nearby people would be affected. This was a choice I made out of concern for other people… Now, it is time to finish this…!”
“Shut up, you bluffing Crimson Demon! Using Lady Wolbach as a shield, running from a fight everywhere… You still dare to say such things? You must be up to something! I won’t be tricked this time!”
Arnes raised her hand towards the last adventurer.
Arnes had been fighting bare-handedly so far. When she suddenly used lightning magic, the remaining adventurer couldn’t react in time and collapsed after being hit.
At this time, Yunyun came to my side and whispered into my ear.
“Megumin. We are close to the city. If we run with all our might, we may reach it in time.”
Truly, given the current situation, escaping was the best option.
I glanced at the caravan carriage and my eyes met those of the little girl.
…What should I do?
If I ran away with Chomusuke, Arnes would probably come after us.
And she wouldn’t use overly powerful magic since she would be worried about hurting Chomusuke.
It would probably be like this…
“Let me guess what you are thinking right now. You must be thinking of escaping to the city with Lady Wolbach, right? I won’t let you succeed. If you run, I will kill everyone here, both the adventurers and the passengers in the carriage. Why do you think I intentionally left these adventurers alive?”
She smiled slyly. Her amber eyes shone with a cruel light.
It seemed my intention to use Chomusuke as a hostage was exposed.
…This is bad. What should I do?
“Now, hand Lady Wolbach over to me. If you do so, I will forget our grudges and let all of you go.”
Arnes smiled— This was a deal with a devil.
…I heard this before, devils honored contracts and promises.
Should I sacrifice Chomusuke and accept her request?
“No way! I won’t let you have Chomusuke! This little one is not called Wolbach!”
…It looked like there was no need to be troubled over this.
Even this shy, cautious, and conservative girl said so.
“I refuse. If you want this furball, come take it by force. Yunyun, lend me your dagger! I will use Chomusuke as hostage and run to the city! Hey, Arnes! You said earlier that if I run away with this furball, you will kill everyone, right? If you dare to kill them, I will give your beloved master a Mohawk haircut!”
I carried Chomusuke with one hand and reached out my other hand to get the dagger of Yunyun, who was still stunned by what I said.
Arnes walked towards us.
She smiled faintly and walked over casually.
“…? You are so bold. Don’t forget I have this furball. If you leave now, I promise I will take care of this little one. If you are worried about its safety—“
“I know very well that you won’t kill Lady Wolbach. Hahaha, your threat won’t work on me.”
Arnes said and smiled flirtatiously.
No-Not good. I didn’t think she would see through this. I thought she would avoid any situation that might endanger Chomusuke’s life!
What should I do? What should I do…!
Even so, I can’t hand over Chomusuke…!
“Megumin, retreat. Leave this to me…!”
Yunyun came in front of me with her dagger in hand. Her weak shoulders were trembling slightly.
It seemed I was always being protected by Yunyun.
“What can you do with a dagger? There is nobody more useless than a Crimson Demon who cannot use magic… Of course, I’m speaking of that one who’s all talk and no action.”
“Megumin is not useless! Megumin is… much more powerful as a mage than me!”
Yunyun shouted even though she was trembling.
“Then why is she not using magic? …It’s not that she doesn’t use, but that she can’t use, right? I heard in the Crimson Demon Village, only those who can use advanced magic can graduate. Yet you use only intermediate magic. And that Megumin over there? Are you currently accumulating skill points to learn advanced magic? I must be right! Pretentious Crimson Demons!”
“…You haven’t said anything for some time. Not going to retort?”
I shifted Chomusuke from my left hand to my right, and picked up the staff at my feet with my left hand.
I interrupted Arnes who was trying to provoke me.
“No need to say more. Crimson Demons never back down from a fight.”
“…? What ‘enough’? I’m not afraid at all…”
“I don’t want to waste my breath with you. See for yourself if I’m really all talk and no action.”
As if she was subdued by my mood, Arnes took a step back.
Then, she carefully examined me.
“You mean you can really use magic? Don’t think you can bluff your way through this.”
Arnes said that, but she became more vigilant.
“Meg-Megumin. What are you planning to do…?”
Yunyun asked in fear as she was affected by my mood.
“…You really want Chomusuke, right?”
Hearing my sudden statement, Arnes, and even Yunyun, made a sound of surprise.
It seemed not only Yunyun and Arnes sensed something bad was going to happen.
Chomusuke, who was obediently lying in my arms so far, suddenly started to struggle.
I lowered my right hand, which was holding on to Chomusuke, to my waist level…
“If-If you hand it over, I can let you go…”
“Then you can have it. Be sure to properly catch it, though.”
Arnes was about to say something. I threw Chomusuke high—
Into the sky behind her.
“Hey, Megumin, what are you doing—!”
“Nooo! Lady Wolbach!!”
Arnes cried out and flew desperately into the sky, finally managing to catch Chomusuke in mid-air.
I held the staff tightly with both hands, and aimed at Arnes who flew high into the sky to catch Chomusuke…!
“Stop! Wait, Megumin! What are you doing?! Stop casting! Stop it now!”
My incantation was interrupted by Yunyun, who was grabbing my hands.
“What are you doing? This is a good chance! The enemy is in the air! If I use Explosion magic now, other people won’t get hurt!”
“No! Chomusuke will be hurt! Can’t you see Chomusuke is with her?!”
As if sensing my seriousness, Yunyun held on to my hands tightly, refusing to let go.
“That is my familiar! It can’t be helped if a familiar dies to protect its master! I will make a grave for it… Ah, let go of me, let go of my staff! I’m being called a Crimson Demon who is all talk and no action! I cannot back off now!”
“I won’t let go! How can I let go?! If you are a Crimson Demons, calmly deal with the enemy’s provocations!”
As Yunyun and I were arguing, there was a pressure from the sky above.
I lifted my head to look. With bloodshot eyes, Arnes held Chomusuke in one hand and lifted the other hand to the sky.
Arnes flapped her large wings to hover in mid-air while chanting her incantation.
“Yunyun! Arnes’ magic will be completed soon! We will be killed. The passengers and adventurers will all be killed! Let go of my staff now!”
“But! But! I understand. I really understand our situation— But! Megumin, you are heartless! Ba-Based on the Crimson Demons’ practice plot, at this critical moment, someone will come to the rescue…! Ah! I’m a fool. Why would anyone come to the rescue! Help us, Lady Eris, goddess of luck!”
“What’s the use of praying at this time?! If you really belong to the Crimson Demons, then pray to the god of destruction! I’m going…!!”
Yunyun continued to interfere, but I held the staff tightly and forcefully continued my incantation.
Arnes was twirling a huge ball of fire before us.
If we were hit, we would definitely be reduced to ashes.
The fireball was already larger than Arnes’ body…!
“Oh, nameless god of destruction who was sealed in the Crimson Demon Village… Goddess Eris-sama! …And incidentally, also Goddess of Water Aqua-sama…! If we survive this, I will definitely urge Megumin to be a good person! Please, save Chomusuke as well!!”
“Wh-What are you saying about me…! Give it up now. This world is so cruel, not everything will go your way…!”
—At the moment when I said this.
I felt a flow of mana that caused me, who could use Explosion magic, to shiver.
My overwhelming mana could be used to reshape the terrain, but even I couldn’t help but stop my incantation to look in that direction.
I wasn’t the only one who sensed this mana.
Yunyun was trembling and staring in the same direction.
“…!? Wh-What is this mana…! No, divine aura…!?”
Arnes’ expression was even more frightened than when she was nearly destroyed in Alcanretia. Her magic was halted mid-way as well.
It was as if she met a natural enemy.
The person Arnes feared was of course in the direction we were staring at.
Incidentally, that was our destination, Axel.
Arnes was so frightened that she didn’t realize she’d released her grip on Chomusuke. Chomusuke fell from her hands.
Hovering in mid-air, Arnes finally noticed her mistake.
She went to catch Chomusuke immediately, but stopped when she saw Yunyun charging over.
Yunyun caught Chomusuke as she was about to hit the ground.
Arnes saw this and breathed a sigh of relief.
“…Wh-What are you doing…!?”
She looked at me as I finished my incantation and pointed my staff at her.
The tip of the staff held a huge amount of compressed mana, glowing with a white light.
The watching passengers in the carriage noticed this light and swallowed their saliva.
They have no magic training, yet their instincts must have told them this light is very unnatural.
Arnes’ face paled.
“…What is this magic?”
She shivered as I replied casually.
Yunyun was running towards me with Chomusuke in her arms. Arnes couldn’t be bothered with her anymore. She fixed her stare on me.
“…I understand. I will retreat this time, Crimson Demon. I apologize for saying you are merely all-talk.”
“Don’t apologize. Crimson Demons are merciless once they are in battle. I won’t let you escape.”
Hearing this, Arnes was stunned while still hovering in the air.
Then, with a twitching smile, she quickly raised her hand towards me…!
My magic was marginally faster than Arnes’.
On this day, my sure-kill spell exploded in the sky of the town of Axel for the first time.
“Oh wow. This truly changed my impression— No, I don’t mean I was suspicious of you before! From the start, I believed you must be a very powerful Archmage!”
After exhausting my mana, I rested at my window seat, which became a special seat of honor. The caravan leader was praising me non-stop.
After vanquishing Arnes with Explosion magic, the wounded were taken onboard the carriage, which then departed for Axel once more…
“By the way, it is really scary when Crimson Demons get serious. At that time, I thought the mountains were falling apart!”
“The magic was striking at mid-air, yet there was still a small crater in the ground below! Isn’t this overpowered? What is that magic? I heard that mages who can use advanced magic are very rare— could it be that was advanced magic?”
I answered their endless stream of questions.
Actually, I wanted to rest properly, but this feeling of being exalted wasn’t bad.
Yunyun, who had also exhausted her mana, sat next to me and looked at me in dissatisfaction. That was the kind of expression I wanted.
“And that devil was so powerful. Yet it still couldn’t survive that huge explosion.”
The adventurer pressed on his wounded hand and said painfully.
—Devils are denizens of hell.
Even if their physical bodies were destroyed in this world, they were not completely defeated.
I heard some super powerful devils could use ‘residues’ to prepare a substitute soul and revive instantly. This was so powerful it verged on cheating.
Even so, it was unlikely to meet Arnes again in this world.
“That devil nee-chan was not merely strong. She was powerful in other aspects too…”
An adventurer started saying, leading the topic towards Arnes’ appearance.
…When I look for companions in Axel, I must find an honest man who wouldn’t sexually harass me.
I thought as I let my body drooped.
“Hey, Megumin. You are really powerful. You even defeated that kind of devil…”
Yunyun said next to me in a voice so soft that only I could hear.
“Of course I’m powerful. After all, I’m the Crimson Demons’ Number One Mage.”
Yunyun looked somewhat dissatisfied, yet at the same time, was smiling happily.
“…Say, about what I said last night… I think, forget it.”
She said and smiled bitterly.
Now that she mentioned it, she was inviting me to do something last night. I couldn’t remember clearly.
I was feeling sleepy then, so I casually brushed her off…
I silently tried hard to recall yesterday’s events. Yunyun panicked as if she misunderstood something.
“I-I don’t mean that! It’s not because I dislike being with Megumin! Not at all… I just feel that if we form a party, I will be your stumbling block, so…”
Yunyun looked over. Her eyes were filled with determination.
“I will train hard. Wait for me to learn advanced magic, then we will have a match… And…”
She said something more, but her voice was too soft, so I couldn’t hear anything.
Nevermind advanced magic, what she really needed were social skills.
“No problem. We’ll have a match then. Besides, no matter how hard you train, you will be left crying in defeat.”
“Say that while you can! When I become stronger, I will surely let Megumin ask for a match on her own initiative!”
We argued as we leaned against our seats. A happy laughter was heard from the opposite seats.
It was the auntie who gave us snacks and her daughter.
I finally got a chance to perform, yet now I was being so pathetic before her.
Yunyun and I looked at her in shame.
“Hey, powerful mage onee-chan.”
The little girl smiled and said.
“Thank you for saving Mommy and everyone!”
…Yunyun and I looked at each other.
Was an adventurer that kind of job that frequently received the thanks and adoration of the common people?
If so, I nowhad the motivation to work hard in this city.
“By the way, Megumin…”
Yunyun said meaningfully.
“At that time, did you sense an enormous mana from Axel? It was like… That’s right. Like a god using miracle-level magic.”
…I was very concerned too.
“What was that? After that, the sensation was gone. Or rather, wasn’t the timing too perfect? Yunyun, weren’t you praying earlier? Maybe a god decided to help us on a whim.”
“Eh!? But… What should I do? At that time, I prayed to every god… Including the evil god and the god of destruction… I called upon every single god I could think of…”
“We-Well, forget it. We were saved in the end.”
“Th-That’s true, but I’m very concerned about what was happening in the city…”
I glanced at Yunyun, who was deep in thought, and slowly brought myself up to look out of the window.
Our carriage just entered the city and was moving slowly for traffic safety.
On the stone-paved streets, the carriage moved forward with the sound of rocking.
At this time.
I saw a youth with gleaming eyes as if everything was new to him. There was also a beautiful blue-haired girl, whose mouth was gaping in shock.
These two people should be slightly older than me.
“… Another world… Hey, it really is another world. Eh, it’s for real. Am I going to use magic and go on adventures in this world?”
The youth’s voice was heard through the open window.
These two people also just arrived in Axel.
“AHHH! … AHHH! …”
The girl trembled and cried out softly in despair.
…What’s wrong with these two people?
Was it annoying or disconcerting?
“Animal ears! There’s someone with animal ears! Elf ears! Is that an elf? With such striking facial features, she definitely has to be one! Goodbye hikikomori life! Hello different world! If it’s this world, then I’m willing to go out and work obediently!”
“AHHH! … AHHH! … AHHH! …”
The youth shouted something I couldn’t understand… Or rather, I didn’t dare to understand.
The girl’s trembling got more severe.
“Hey, you’re noisy. What would you do if people think I’m friends with a crazy woman like you ? Stop screaming. You should be giving something to me at a time like this. Look at what I’m wearing. Gym clothes? I’ve finally arrived in a fantasy world and I’m wearing a full set of gym clothes. According to the norm in games, you should be giving me the minimum equipment…”
The girl started choking the youth.
“Whoa! What…? What are you doing, don’t act this way! I get it! I’ll do something about the basic equipment. I should say that I was wrong. If you hate it that much, you can go back. I’ll work out the rest on my own.”
The youth waved his hand in annoyance.
“What are you saying? I’m troubled because I can’t go back! What now? Hey, what should I do? What am I going to do from now on?”
…I didn’t know the details, but I better not get involved with these two people.
I listened to their cries, turning my gaze back into the carriage.
What should I do from now on?
I looked at Yunyun, who had drifted to sleep next to me.
Surrounded by the noise from outside, I decided to sleep too…
INTERLUDE: FINAL SCENE
—Aqua-sama, I Thank You!—
A few days after Miss Megumin left for the city of Axel.
Life had returned to the days before the cute loli came, but…
“My Tokoroten Slime…”
That female devil probably used my Tokoroten Slime to commit her crimes.
After sending Megumin off, I went to get some Tokoroten Slime from the kitchen…
But the hidden sack of Tokoroten Slime had vanished.
That female devil was bold enough to infiltrate the base of the Axis Cult.
It was hurtful enough to part with my dream loli. This was like adding salt to my wound.
If I knew it would be like this, I should have acted upon my desires and gone to Axel with Megumin.
—As I was full of the negative energy from rage and regret.
“I’ve received an oracle!”
Lord Zesta suddenly shouted.
What? Was he getting senile?
His conduct had always been weird, but declaring such things like an “oracle”…
Lord Zesta excitedly raised both hands before the sympathetic gazes of the other cultists and me.
“I have received a sacred telepathic message from Aqua-sama! Everyone, listen! Aqua-sama! She sent a telepathic message that she was in trouble in a faraway place!”
This could not simply be dismissed.
“Lord Zesta. We can ignore all the stupid things you normally say, but using Aqua-sama as a joke is too much, right?”
Under the suspicious gazes of the cultists, Lord Zesta blushed and said.
“‘I’m Aqua. That’s right, the goddess Aqua worshipped by the religious order of Axis! If thou art a believer…! … May you give me some aid by lending me some money?’ …This is coming from the direction of the city of Axel!? The sacred telepathic message came from there!”
Lord Zesta said as his eyes glowed with determination.
Although Lord Zesta was a hopeless person, he was still a devout Axis Cultist.
His devotion earned him the recognition of all the other cultists in this city.
Other things aside, he wouldn’t lie to belittle Aqua-sama.
Axel was Megumin’s destination.
…This was a revelation.
“We don’t know the details, but Aqua-sama needing money is needlessly suspicious. I don’t know what is happening in Axel. There might be some disaster happening there…”
This was a revelation from Aqua-sama to me.
That’s right. Aqua-sama’s teachings included such a line.
“When thou art troubled, remember to enjoy the present and live in a carefree manner.”
“Therefore, we should now prepare to send some people to Axel for investigation.”
“Remember not to suppress your desires, but act upon your instincts …”
Lord Zesta looked at the Axis Cultists around him.
“Is there anyone willing to go to Axel—”
I immediately raised my hand.
—Aqua-sama, I Thank You!