EXPLOSIVE WEIRDO AND THE FOREST DEVIL
Translator: Sine Nomine
Editor(s): Cannongerbil, Nate, Xenthur, Veritaum, YuNS
—In the endless plains outside the town.
It is said that mob monsters like Giant frogs lived there.
But they never came to the town, probably because of the heavily armed guards.
In front of the main gate of Axel town…
“Hey—! Wait, what are you doing—!”
The guard uncle ran over to me as I unleashed Explosion Magic.
“Hey, little girl, what are you… I was going to ask why did you suddenly used magic, but why are you collapsed on the ground? What happened? Hang in there!”
The guard carried me back after I collapsed due to mana exhaustion.
I raised my head.
“Pl-Pleased to meet you… I’m Megumin, a Crimson Demon who recently moved to this town. I think these explosions will happen frequently from now on… Please excuse me…”
“Spare me! At least limit your magic use to when there are monsters around! Don’t use magic for no reason!”
Hearing me, the guard cried out in despair.
—I dragged my tired body along and staggered into the town with Chomusuke.
After using Explosion Magic to vent my frustrations, I thought and mumbled to myself.
“There were no recruitment notices today either. What happened? Do the adventurers in the town no longer need mages…?”
I had been in this town for over a week.
Recently, there were no recruitment notices for mages on the notice board of the Adventurer’s Guild.
There was only Yunyun’s notice, which nobody could tell if it was a notice to recruit adventuring companions or friends.
Mages are usually rarer than other jobs.
I didn’t think that demand would dry up so quickly…
—After venting my frustrations, I returned to the Adventurer’s Guild.
Noon is the time when adventurers usually work.
At such a time, I once again laid my head on the table in the Adventurer’s Guild.
“What should I do…”
I whispered and sighed deeply.
This week, I repeatedly asked to join other parties for quests, but…
No matter which party they are, they all expressed disinterest after completing the quest. There has been no intention to recruit me.
It seemed they were not interested in a mage who can use only Explosion Magic.
I was being treated as an unwanted person.
The genius me…
“Hey! What’s wrong, Megumin? Don’t shout so suddenly! I have a challenging task right now!”
Yunyun, who was playing at the same desk, complained as I hugged my head and shouted.
She was in the same situation as me, since she had not found any party members.
With a serious look on her face, Yunyun carefully stacked poker cards on the table into a pyramid.
Recently, her ability to play by herself had been improving.
Perhaps because she was concentrating so hard on this, other people had reservations about approaching us.
I picked up Chomusuke, who was by my feet, and put it on the table.
Then, it took an interest in the poker card that Yunyun was shakily holding between her fingers.
It walked over to the card pyramid.
The fierce black beast, with its unfettered appetite for destruction, easily destroyed Yunyun’s work.
It was done by a cat, so there’s nothing that can be done.
Chomusuke looked happy after the destruction of the card pyramid. I ruffled Chomusuke’s head as a reward.
“What should I do now…”
“Forget that. Apologize to me first!”
I didn’t know what to do, so I just ignored the grumbling Yunyun.
“—By the way, Megumin. Have you heard? Someone offered a reward for defeating the devil in the forest.”
I was running out of money, so such news couldn’t be ignored.
“…Oh? Tell me about it.”
“I heard that most of the monsters which used to inhabit the forest have been exterminated. Since then, monsters mostly dwell in the deeper parts of the forest and seldom come close to town… But for some reason, the monsters that live in the deep forest are recently appearing around town… Therefore, the profitable monsters in the forest have attracted attention. There is a rumor that the devil is responsible for driving the other monsters close to town.”
…The monsters from the deep forest were coming close to town?
I remembered that there was a similar incident in the Crimson Demon Village.
I thought of the devil Arnes who drove monsters to attack the caravan during our trip.
Was it that female devil again?
I did not think Arnes could survive my Explosion Magic, but…
I thought this matter had nothing to do with me, but I had a bad feeling about this.
“Yunyun, that devil… What does it look like…”
I wanted to confirm its appearance.
At this moment.
“Oh, you even brought along two cute girls. You’re just a rookie, so why are you starting a harem? I’m so envious. Give one to me!”
A crude, boorish voice resounded in the guild.
“Hey, what are you doing?!”
“Don’t pester me, you damn drunk!”
This was answered by some girls.
I looked at Yunyun as she sneakily glanced at the people who were arguing.
“No! Yunyun, don’t meet eyes with those kinds of people, or we’ll get dragged into it.”
“Wa-Wait, Megumin. This isn’t right! Don’t you want to help them!?”
Yunyun complained to me, but this is the Adventurer’s Guild.
Most adventurers are rowdy, so this was normal behavior.
The ones who were being pestered were rookies. This is a form of baptism for adventurers.
“Give it up… I’m not a rookie. Despite my looks, I’m a very famous adventurer… I’m only here to recruit a priest. It doesn’t look like there are any priests in the guild, so I guess I’ll return to the hotel for today…”
A deep voice was heard saying.
“What? Famous adventurer? I don’t recognize you. I’m a famous adventurer in this town!”
“You mean infamous? Let it go. He probably has the advanced job of Swordmaster. And his sword might be magical. I can sense powerful magic coming from it.”
The one who said this was probably his fellow crony.
The girl’s advice reached our ears, but…
“So annoying. Shut up! I don’t care about any magic sword. I’m not afraid of such things! Come, humor me! You’re a famous adventurer, right? Then practice swordplay with me!”
“…It can’t be helped then. Let’s go outside. Both of you go and rest.”
“I understand. Then we’ll be leaving. Finish that thug off.”
“He looks despicable. Don’t be careless, okay?”
They seemed to be of one mind.
The people in the guild looked on as the source of the disturbance went outside.
Since it was an interesting development, I peeked in that direction too…
“Hey, Megumin. Didn’t you say that we shouldn’t meet eyes with those kinds of people?”
Yunyun called out softly to interrupt my peeking.
“Nobody would want to miss out on such an interesting development. Let me look.”
“N-No way! In my eyes, the pesky one will lose. That thug will get beaten instantly and return. If your eyes meet at that time…”
“—Bas-Bastard! What was that? That cheater… Why is he both handsome and strong… Hey, what are you people looking at? Stop looking!”
He truly returned instantly.
It seemed he was defeated the moment he left the guild.
“That’s why I told you to stop. I know what your personality is like, so I won’t tell you not to bother people… but you should check your target out before picking on him.”
“I-I know. Next time, I will find someone weaker… Why can’t there be a weakling with a lot of pretty girls?”
I didn’t want to meet eyes with a thug who spoke such boorish words.
To avoid getting involved, we left the Adventurer’s Guild.
—The second day.
The guard roared in a voice that matched the intensity of the noise generated by the Explosion.
Following yesterday, I came to use Explosion Magic again, but…
“I told you yesterday not to use magic without reason! By the way, recently, several huge craters have suddenly appeared near town! Those were made by you, right? It took a lot of manual labor to fill those holes!”
“Bu-But I did as you asked today. I used magic on a monster. I defeated a Giant frog! …So can you just let it slide?”
I collapsed on the ground and begged the guard who was running towards me.
The guard sighed and picked me up.
“I can easily defeat Giant frogs and similar monsters. I can handle the monster that come approach the gate by myself. Little girl, can’t you use this magic to defeat stronger monsters further away from the town?”
“After using magic, I won’t be able to move due to mana exhaustion. If I become immobile far away from the town, I will be eaten by other monsters that come to investigate.”
“Little girl, you should find some companions.”
I wouldn’t have so much trouble if I could do that—
I said farewell to the guard uncle and dejectedly dragged my tired body back to the guild.
—I heard a familiar voice.
“Nooooo! I don’t wanna! Why? Why must I move bricks!? Find me a more suitable job!”
“Even if you say that. This is the only simple job that gives daily wages. It can’t be helped. Don’t be willful.”
“Noooo! At least let me be a salesperson! Let me be a salesperson again! I have confidence that I can do it right this time!”
“Where does your confidence come from? Seriously, I’m begging you. I don’t want to do this either. I’d rather take on quests immediately, but we would die with our current equipment. Don’t be picky and work here. There’s been a shortage of manual laborers since they’ve been busy filling up holes in the plains near the town. Thanks to this, the wages are higher right now. Don’t worry, you can do this easily!”
It was the strange duo that I kept running into.
They were arguing outside the office for construction work.
It seemed they were here because the wages were good due to a labor shortage.
But the blue-haired girl wanted some other job, so she adamantly refused to enter.
Good. It seemed I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t adjust to society and didn’t know what to do.
“Don’t say such stupid things! Who do you think I am!? Dirty manual labor does not suit me! And shouldn’t you be feeding me better food? It has been bread crusts every day! Why must I eat such foods every day!? A noble existence like mine should watch what I eat!”
“When we first met, you were eating snacks! Enough. How long are you going to throw a tantrum for? Let’s go! I want to prepare my equipment and start adventuring!”
“Noooo! I don’t want to move bricks! Why is a NEET like you so enthusiastic!?”
They were doing their best to make a living.
I watched the girl being dragged away. I am seeking work and companions too, so I walked towards the Adventurer’s Guild.
Several adventurers suddenly stood up when they saw me enter the guild.
As if they were afraid of something.
Perhaps it was because I was a Crimson Demon.
Or did I already possess the dignity of an adventurer?
As I smiled happily at the thought, the adventurers who stood up went over to the notice board and tore down a recruitment notice.
“Ah, yes!? Wh-What’s the matter!?”
I spoke to the one who tore down the paper from the notice board. She was ridiculously afraid.
“… Onee-san may I see the paper that you just tore down?”
“Let me see.”
I forcefully snatched the paper from the onee-san who was hiding it behind her back. Written on the paper was…
“Recruiting mage. My party consists of four members. No limit on magic type.”
“Oh! No limit on magic type! How convenient! Actually, I’m a mage without a party!”
“So-So-Sorry. The spot has been taken, so the party is full now. That’s why I tore down the paper…!”
I seized the onee-san who was intending to flee after saying that.
“That excuse is too lame! What? Are you looking down on Explosion Magic? Is this a plot to ostracize me!?”
“N-No! I don’t look down on Explosion Magic. You see… there’ve been rumours of a Crimson Demon girl who can use Explosion Magic… Whenever she comes across a monster, she uses her magic without any regard for the surroundings. People are saying that she might be crazy…”
“This is just picking a fight! Sick in the head?! Let’s see if you all can still be so garrulous after witnessing my magic! …Ah, what? Let me go!”
“We’ll be troubled if you use magic in the guild!”
As I chanted the incantation despite being out of magic power, the guild staff and other adventurers stopped me and dragged me off further into the guild.
“—Megumin-san. This is not acceptable. Using Advanced Magic or higher inside the town is strictly forbidden. If you do this again, you will have to spend the night in the police station.”
If I ran out of money, it wouldn’t be bad to go to jail. At the very least, I wouldn’t have to worry about food and shelter.
I was probably hopeless to think like this.
After being severely lectured by the staff, I walked over to Yunyun, who was enthusiastically playing alone…
“—N-No way! Do you think I’m a cheap woman who would blindly follow anyone!?”
“I didn’t say that! I’m just begging you. Please. I’m not plotting anything! I just want to let my mother be at ease. Just pretend to be my lover for a while! My sick mother said she wanted to see her grandchild before she dies…! If not, at least her daughter-in-law… I can only beg this from my only friend, Yunyun…!”
“On-Only friend… No, even so, pretending to be a lover is too—! I’m only 13 years old. I’m not even an adult yet!”
Seeing her troubled face, the man said.
“No problem. Just a simple greeting will do! I don’t intend to do anything, so there won’t be any issue! No problem!”
“Really!? Wa-Wait a moment. Why are you trying so hard!? I should refuse…”
“Please! I beg you, I beg you. Just one date. If convenient, one hour. No, 30 minutes would do!”
The man begged with a despairing voice. He was already on his knees to beg Yunyun.
“No, this violates the original intent…! Isn’t it pretending to be lovers before your sick mother!? Why is it a date now…”
“I beg you. I beg you. I beg you!”
The man finally kneeled down.
“Wait. Please wait. Wait a bit…”
“Please. Please. Please! I beg you. Just for a bit. I’m begging you!!”
Perhaps unable to turn him away, Yunyun looked afraid and troubled. She said to the kneeling man.
“Ugh… Th-Then, just for… a while…”
“Of course not! What are you up to!? Exploiting another person’s kindness!? Want me to call the police?”
“Wh-What are you saying!? Ah, oh. You are that crazy mage…! Wait, spare me. Not the police! I understand! I will leave obediently!”
Seeing my sudden intrusion, the man hurriedly escaped.
I chased him off and interrogated Yunyun.
“What are you doing? You’re getting tricked too easily! What are you going to do if you get kidnapped?!”
“Bu-But, but! He said his sick mother needs to see his lover…!”
“That was definitely a lie! Did anyone else do this!? Did anyone else ask you to do strange things when I was away!?”
“N-Nothing strange! The uncle who frequently drinks beer during the day requested, ‘From now on, don’t call me uncle. Call me daddy.’…”
“That’s already very strange! You refused, right!? Or rather, don’t ever talk to him again! The chief will cry if he finds out that his daughter is calling a stranger ‘daddy’ in a faraway town!”
Seriously. Why was she so vulnerable?
She’s only been in this town for a week and already encountered such dangers.
Yunyun flashed a piece of paper before me. She stared and said.
“But it can’t be helped. After spending so many days in this tavern, the only person to talk to me was an Axis Cultist trying to convert believers…”
“Why are you handing out pamphlets for that person!? Throw it away!”
I crushed the Axis Cult Recruitment Form in Yunyun’s hands and threw it away.
This wouldn’t do.
If I left Yunyun alone to force her to overcome her communicative barrier, her social inadequacy would just worsen beyond the point of redemption.
But I was too busy trying to find adventuring companions…
“Yunyun, how about it? Until we can find party members, do you want to form a temporary party with me?”
Hearing my invitation, Yunyun was shocked for some reason.
What? Was the invitation that strange?
“Bu-But…! I made my decision with such determination…! It’s only been a week since I said it… That…”
What was Yunyun talking about?
“What? I merely asked if you want to form a party. Why are you troubled over it?”
Hearing this, Yunyun’s face twitched.
“…S-Say, Megumin. Do you still remember what I said last time? You think, that… Once I learned Advanced Magic, we’ll have another match…”
“Oh. After defeating Arnes, you were mumbling something in the carriage. What was it again?”
I urged her to continue, but her eyes were getting more teary.
“You are asking me?… Wait a moment! How can you so easily forget such an important promise?! Megumin, you are always like this! What kind of Crimson Demons’ top genius is this? You are just an idiot who can’t remember important things!”
“What did you say?!”
“It would be troublesome if both of you fight in the tavern!”
After receiving the second lecture of the day, Yunyun and I were driven out of the guild.
“Seriously! Why are you always like this? Don’t you have any memory? Did your memories get blown off by your own Explosion Magic?”
“You’re at it again! We’re outside now, so nobody will stop me even if I make a scene!”
“Wh-What? Want a fight!? Your mana has been exhausted. You can’t even walk properly. Do you think you can win against me in your current state!?”
On the road back to the hotel.
We were still arguing.
“Seriously…! It was my once-in-a-lifetime declaration, and you completely forgot about it…! Unbelievable! Simply unbelievable!”
Yunyun covered her face with her hands, and shook her head angrily.
“I know, I know. It’s my fault for forgetting it. So, what is that important promise? Please tell me again.”
Yunyun blushed upon hearing my casual statement.
“What do you mean by ‘Eh’? What is that important promise? I will listen carefully this time. Come, please say it out loud.”
I walked to the grass patch by the side of the road and sat up straight, making a serious pose to listen to her.
Seeing my behavior, Yunyun panicked even more.
“N-No. No. Uh, err… Forget it. Yes, forget it. It’s nothing! I will say it next time.”
“Hey. You just insulted me as an idiot, so what is this about? I don’t know why you’re so embarrassed, but spit it out now. I will seriously listen this time.”
Looking at my serious pose, Yunyun was on the verge of tears.
But she still made her resolve and opened her mouth to speak…!
“Uh… Once I’ve learned Advanced Magic and am no longer a liability, I will—”
“Excuse me, both of you!! May I have a moment of your time?”
An old man wearing a tailcoat like a seneschal suddenly talked to us, interrupting Yunyun.
“No. We are talking about something important. Go away.”
“D-Don’t be like this! I’m actually looking for someone!”
Hearing the uncle, Yunyun and I shared a look.
“Actually, the lady of my household ran away from home because she didn’t want to get married… I’m sorry to bother you, but please help me find her…! In this country, having beautiful blonde hair and blue eyes is a sign of noble bloodline. My lady has long blonde hair set behind her head. If you see someone like this, please inform the Dustiness family. We will reward you for the trouble…!”
The old man said and bowed.
The Dustiness family belonged to the high nobility that even the ignorant us knew about.
The lady of that family running away from home was a major event.
That lady must be a cute and pure girl.
I imagined a dignified and delicate little girl. I wanted to see this noble lady and I was interested in the reward from a noble family.
“Leave it to me. If I find her, I will properly protect her.”
“Thank you very much. I’ll leave it to you!”
The old man said sharply and ran over to another passer-by.
“Yunyun, let’s go! For us who lack money, protecting the lady is a great opportunity!”
“Hey, hey! I’m not in need of money!”
I dragged Yunyun along and ran—!
“—So tired… We didn’t find the lady in the end…”
“Ugh…! I was hoping to make some money from the Dustiness family. We went and searched through the town so many times! Where was the lady hiding…”
We searched everywhere in the town, but we didn’t find any clues. We were very worried about how she was doing after she ran away from home.
After all, she was a noble lady.
If she ran away from home, she might be scared and hiding somewhere, not knowing what to do.
I hoped she hadn’t been kidnapped by some bad guys.
I thought blonde hair with blue eyes would be rare, so it would be easy to find her, but…
The only blonde person we met in the town was wearing heavy armor and saying dangerous things like “There seems to be a devil in the forest! Let’s kill it in the name of Goddess Eris!” Before rushing out of town with a silver-haired thief.
In the end, after so much effort, we still couldn’t find the cute noble lady.
“… It can’t be helped. It seems we can’t depend on luck! Tomorrow, let’s take on a quest together!”
“We’re still making a party!? I already said, ‘Before I learn Advanced Magic…’! it took a lot of courage for me to say all that! Do you really not remember!?”
The next morning.
We came to the Adventurer’s Guild early. Taking advantage of the absence of other adventurers, we checked out the various quests.
I left Chomusuke in the hotel because I thought Yunyun and I wouldn’t be able to protect it when we encounter monsters.
“Hey, Megumin. Let’s do an easy quest first, okay?”
Yunyun said and passed me the most basic request in this town— the quest to hunt Giant frogs.
I knew that the Giant frogs, with their high reproductive rate, are one of the food sources that maintained the town.
We could keep that in reserve.
I roughly scanned the notice board…
“Clean the tomb of a mansion in the outskirts of the town”, “Recruiting civil engineers to fill the craters in the plains”, “Hunt the necromancer in the communal cemetery”, “Find the lady who ran away from home”, “Investigate the water quality of the lake. Because of the increased work of civil engineers, sandy waste was reported to be flowing into the lake.”, and so on…
Hm. Which one should we pick?
Our party consisted of two mages.
Should we choose a hunt quest that could capitalize on our powerful offensive power?
“Let’s go to the forest, since recent rumors say it has been very profitable.”
“Eh? Wasn’t there a warning about a devil in the forest that warranted a bounty? We’re just two people after all. Let’s do something easy and go to the plains where there are a lot of weak monsters!”
What was she saying? I was aiming at the reward for defeating that devil.
But I was worried that the cowardly Yunyun would end up playing alone in the guild again.
Oh well. Let’s kill some mob monsters in the plains today and let her gain some self-confidence—!
“—Oh. The little girl has brought along a companion today. Good. I’m relieved that you have a companion. As long as it is far away from town, you can use your magic as you please.”
When we reached the town gates, the guard uncle said to me.
It seemed he had already remembered my face.
After leaving the town gate, Yunyun said with shining eyes.
“Megumin. When were you so active that even the guards recognize you? I thought you were just strolling around randomly.”
“H-How rude! I don’t have the same social ineptitude as you do. While you were playing alone by yourself, I have become very famous in this town. Even in the Adventurer’s Guild, there are many who recognize me.”
“When did this happen!?”
I ignored the surprised Yunyun and walked around, searching for monsters on the plains.
…That’s probably not a lie.
Yunyun’s magic killed the Giant frogs congregating on the plains.
It was nowhere near Explosion Magic, but it still made a considerable boom, charring the frogs nearby.
I felt a bit hungry after smelling the fried frogs.
“… Yunyun, did you bring some salt?”
“You want to eat now!? No. These frogs are meant to be sold to the guild. After deducting the cost of transporting the frogs, the net profit is 5,000 eris each. After killing five of them, there will be a quest completion reward, so this job is fairly profitable.”
Hearing Yunyun’s explanation, I looked at the charred frogs.
There were three dead frogs near us.
Selling them would get us 15,000 eris.
If we killed another two more, there would be an additional 100,000 eris.
I heard the guild staff mention that hunting frogs would make money quickly before. This is indeed profitable.
It is very profitable, but…
“Okay. You should be confident now. Ask the guild to collect the dead frogs. Let’s go to the forest.”
“What!? It’s too early! Let’s do another round!”
I admonished the shocked Yunyun.
“It’s really noticeable after fighting a bit. Truly, the magic of Crimson Demons like us is too powerful. Don’t waste time with the mob monsters here. Let’s find more powerful enemies. Besides, killing mob monsters isn’t good for gaining levels.”
“That’s true. But Megumin, you’re not doing anything! Uh, I’m the only one who is fighting. We’ll definitely encounter the devil if we enter the forest in such a condition…”
“It’s even better if we run into it. Think. I defeated Arnes, didn’t I? Despite how she looked, Arnes was a greater devil. Compared to her, what is a wandering devil in the forest? Yunyun can take on the mob monsters. If that devil appears, I will take care of it. How is that?”
Hearing my self-confident words, Yunyun suspiciously looked at me.
“… Is it really okay? Megumin usually screws up whenever she gets all confident like this…”
“H-How rude! Think about it. If we defeated that devil, we would be thanked by the other adventurers. Then, there would be plenty of parties inviting us to join them…”
“… I’ll go.”
And so we decided to go.
We went deep into the dense green forest, with Yunyun at the front.
We hadn’t encountered any monsters yet, so things were going smoothly.
“When I came to the forest not long ago, we were attacked by slimes and flying squirrels. Yet there is nothing today.”
“Flying squirrels? There are flying squirrels in this forest? Flying squirrels sound rather cute.”
Yunyun said calmly, ignorant of how scary they were.
It seemed it would be good for her to be urinated upon once.
“Oh. Speak of the devil.”
There were some rustlings in the aftergrowth. I raised a warning.
Yunyun became alert, readying her staff and dagger.
What appeared before us was…!
Yunyun muttered with shining eyes.
The thing that appeared before us was about the size of a small dog. It was a rabbit with cute round eyes and fuzzy fur.
But there was a horn on its forehead.
Regardless of how cute it might be, a monster is still a monster.
TL Note: The horned rabbit is a monster in Arabic myths. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-mi’raj
“Yunyun, this is the monster the guild staff warned me to be very careful about. It’s a One Hit Rabbit (Lovely Rabbit). Don’t be reckless just because it is cute. Kill it carefully.”
“Eh!? We’re killing it!?”
Yunyun said on the verge of tears.
Even if you look at me like that, it’s still a monster.
Since we were adventurers…!
The rabbit cried out before us.
And tilted its head slightly.
E-Even if it was this cute, a monster is still a monster.
We must not be reckless…!
In a manner that was worrying, the One Hit Rabbit staggered shakily over to Yunyun’s feet.
“S-So cute…! What should we do, Megumin? So cute! It’s too cute! It must be a mistake to consider it a monster! After all, it’s so cute!”
“Get a hold of yourself. This is the monster the guild staff warned us about. And I’m very concerned about such a dangerous name like ‘One Hit Rabbit’. Don’t be…”
As I spoke, the One Hit Rabbit stared at me with its wet red eyes.
It tilted its head as if saying, “Won’t you pet me?”.
… I wanted to pet it.
I wanted to hug it tightly and pet it!
“Come. I have some veggie sticks! Here, bunny bunny~”
Yunyun had already fallen. She left some veggie sticks on the ground. Those were probably her afternoon snacks.
“That’s not fair. I also want to…”
Feed it— As I was about to say that.
The rabbit ignored the veggie stick and continued to stagger towards Yunyun.
There were rustlings in the after-growth from which the rabbit appeared.
“…… ?” X2
We shared a look and extended our heads over the after-growth for a look…
White rabbits were surrounding a huge thing.
What were the rabbits doing there?
… Upon a closer look, we realized what they were doing.
A huge gray wolf was lying there. It was dead, with a huge hole in its body.
And the rabbits were surrounding it.
The hole was probably caused by the sharp horn.
In other words…
We cried out in shock. The rabbits turned towards us.
I took a glance at the rabbit that was still creeping towards us and got down into a prone position.
In a moment, something white flashed pass above my head.
At the same time, I heard something strike the tree.
I looked back in trepidation and saw the rabbit struggling as its horn pierced my hat and the tree.
I ran over to the struggling rabbit and broke its neck.
I pulled the unmoving rabbit off the tree and recovered my hat.
“Yunyun, these monsters are just shameless! They will act cute and harmless, then suddenly ambush you!!”
“Such a cute thing. It even goes ‘Chu—’. What kind of vicious monsters are these!?”
The rabbits pounced towards us!
We finally escaped the mob of rabbits and rested on a tree stump.
“Ugh, why is it like this? It made a hole in my hat… I’ll have to borrow some thread and a needle from someone when we get back to the hotel…”
I hugged my hat while on the verge of tears.
“(Puff)… (Puff)… S-So scary… When those cute monsters attacked in a mob, I practically got a heart attack…”
Yunyun was panting heavily after repeatedly using magic. Her face was pale as she said that.
They were indeed scary enemies.
The initial staggering walk was probably an act.
They were so fast while chasing us…!
“We managed to escape despite there being so many rabbits. But we couldn’t bring back the bodies of the rabbits we managed to kill, so we can’t get a reward for the rabbit meat.”
“That’s true, but Megumin, do you really want to go back to where those killer rabbits are? I don’t. They looked so cute yet they were feasting on the wolf. Just watching that scene made me want to cry.”
I didn’t want to go back either.
“Megumin, shall we go back today? I used a lot of magic in the earlier battle. Let’s at least go back to hunt on the plains.”
Hearing Yunyun’s suggestion, I reluctantly nodded.
After resting a while, we took a detour to return to the town, avoiding the location where we met the rabbits.
“By the way, I gained a level from killing all those rabbits earlier. At this rate, it won’t take too long for me to learn Advanced Magic.”
Yunyun happily said.
“… From tomorrow onward, let’s stay in the plains to hunt weak monsters.”
“W-Why? You just don’t want me to catch up, right? Is that it? Am I right?”
As Yunyun grabbed and shook my shoulders violently, I suddenly noticed it.
“…? Is something approaching? Do you hear it?”
That was a slight tremor on the ground.
“…? Yes. What is it? Monsters? Good timing. I can gain another level…”
Yunyun also noticed the sound from faraway.
“No fair. It’s my turn now. Yunyun, please stand back.”
“What are you saying? Megumin is the trump card against the devil, right? Even if you don’t want me to surpass you… Say, isn’t it a bit strange?”
Yunyun uneasily said.
It was indeed strange.
Or rather, the amount of cries…
“I have a bad feeling about this. Let’s try to avoid this, okay?”
“F-Fine. I’ve had enough today anyway. Let’s go back and use the money from selling the frogs to buy a meal.”
As Yunyun said that, the noises grew even louder.
This was the sound of a mob of monsters closing in…!
“Quick, run, Yunyun! This is bad. It will be dangerous if we stay here.”
“W-Wait for me, Megumin! Don’t leave me behind… Ugh!”
The noises that were closing in ceased without us noticing.
The surroundings became silent, then a sound was heard from the undergrowth behind us.
What suddenly jumped out from there were…
The One Hit Rabbits that we fought previously.
Either they were chasing us or something was chasing them.
The rabbits before us did not look cute anymore.
The rabbits appeared behind in twos and threes, crying out together.
“Megumin, Megumin. There are too many! Lightning! W-What should we do!?”
“Y-You try to buy me some time. I will destroy them in one shot!”
I said to Yunyun as she used magic on the first wave of rabbits. I raised my staff and started my incantation.
“Using Explosion Magic in the forest will provoke others, right!? I even avoided using Fireball so I won’t start a forest fire! Blade of Wind!”
A One Hit Rabbit pounced at Yunyun, who was retreating as she chant her incantation.
Yunyun immediately drew her dagger to parry the rabbit’s horn, creating some sparks.
“We’ll be eaten by rabbits if this goes on! Destroying nature is nothing. If I was worried about such things, I wouldn’t have become an Explosion mage! Yunyun, get down!”
“Eh!? Wh…! Wait…!!”
I unleashed my magic at the rabbits as they closed in, knowing that I will be dragged into the explosion as well.
The tip of the staff glowed and the light shot into the mob of rabbits.
In an instance, the surrounding trees were blown away by the explosive flames.
Yunyun and I were helplessly blown off by the violent winds—
“—Hey… Humans… Hey, humans. Still alive?”
I heard this seemingly faraway sound.
It seemed I had lost consciousness for some time.
I was currently lying flat on the ground.
It felt like there were tree branches or something digging into my cheeks, so I should still be in the forest.
I opened my eyes slightly and saw Yunyun’s sleeping face.
I distractedly slapped Yunyun’s cheeks.
Seeing that Yunyun reacted to the pain, I breathed out in relief to know that she was fine.
How long was I unconscious?
I used Explosion Magic earlier, yet enough of my magic power had recovered for me to move my body, so it must have been quite a long time.
“Are you awake? Those eyes… Are you a Crimson Demon?”
A voice came from above my head.
The speaker must have been protecting us while we were unconscious.
“… Ugh. It hurts…? Where am I? Every part of my body hurts…”
Yunyun opened her eyes and propped herself up.
I also got up—
And looked at the person who spoke earlier.
“Yes. I’m a Crimson Demon by the name of Meg—“
I turned my head and froze.
Yunyun got up beside me and said casually.
“…? What is it, Megumin? You look strange… Wait. Ah! I remember! Seriously, Megumin, what were you thinking when you used magic at such a close range… You. What is… it…?”
Yunyun started to lecture me, but when she saw me in a stunned state, she followed my gaze—
“Hello. May I have a moment? My name is Hoost… Actually, I’m looking for a huge black magical beast in this area… Wait. Eh? Hey, your face looks familiar. Or rather, you look like someone else…”
That was a devil.
It had pitch black skin with a metallic luster.
It also had huge bat-like wings.
It had a body capable of suppressing a giant as well as very noticeable horns and teeth.
A greater devil.
This type of devil should be in the deepest level of a dungeon. It was looking straight at us.
“… My name is Hoost. I’m not a giant kobold, but a greater devil. I’m ordained to be in service to a certain brat in future… How is my self-introduction? You are Crimson Demons, right? This should be your custom for greetings, right?”
Looking at the devil who grinned with a mouthful of teeth, we cried out in anguish and ran away.
How far did we run?
We left the forest without realizing it. After confirming that the devil wasn’t chasing us, we collapsed on the ground.
Yunyun’s eyes were swollen from crying; she must be scared out of her wits.
“(Puff)… (Puff)…! W-W-… What is that!? Th-That devil was a preeminent greater devil! It looked really powerful and terrifying!”
“(Puff)… (Puff)… I really underestimated the devil in this place. I wasn’t expecting something this powerful…”
Honestly, if I had encountered it alone, I would’ve probably peed in fright.
Arnes was also a greater devil, but this one was really too scary.
Yunyun calmed down slowly and said.
“Megumin. Did that devil say something strange? Something about Crimson Demons and looking for a huge magical beast…”
“I don’t really remember, but it’s pointless anyway. I think he said I looked like someone… Never mind. Whatever. We’re lucky to survive after meeting something like that. I don’t want to enter the forest for awhile.”
Yunyun’s face was pale as she nodded at me. I sighed heavily.
“So tired… Hey, let’s go back to rest, okay?”
“Let’s do that… But before that, let’s go to the guild to receive payment for selling the frog meat. We can also make a report on that devil.”
We rested in the border between the plains and the forest, then walked towards the town.
—We left very early in the morning to hunt in the plains and forest. A considerable amount of time had passed before we noticed.
In the glow of the sunset, we opened the door to the Adventurer’s Guild.
“I’m serious! It stared at the abandoned castle on the hill near the town! It then got on the headless horse pulling the war chariot and went somewhere…!”
There were adventurers drinking and being noisy everywhere, probably because this was the busy time for the guild.
We went past the noisy crowd and approached the reception area.
“Sorry for the trouble. We are here to collect the payment.”
“Oh. It’s Megumin-san and Yunyun-san. The frogs have been collected. Three frogs for a total of 15,000 eris. Please wait.”
We said to the onee-san receptionist who was preparing our payment.
“Uh… May I ask if there are any requests for One Hit Rabbits? We killed a lot of them in the forest.”
I presented my Adventurer’s Card, which recorded the kills.
“No. One Hit Rabbits are monsters in the deeper region of the forest. People won’t normally be attacked by them, so there are no hunt quests… But someone saw them near the town recently, so they may become a target for hunt quests.”
Oh. What a pity.
… Ah, and that too.
“Actually, we encountered the devil in the forest. It is a greater devil. It has the intelligence to introduce itself as a greater devil. Its huge body and intense presence confirm that it is a powerful devil.”
Hearing this, the onee-san’s expression froze.
“And it said that it was looking for a huge black magical beast. It could communicate and didn’t immediately attack us. Maybe it is a friendly devil…”
Yunyun said as the onee-san wondered.
“Huge black magical beast? … I know something like that. The Rookie Killer is a dangerous monster with a huge body and black fur. Why is it looking for such a thing though? As a pet…?”
The onee-san was troubled for a while.
“Oh. Thanks for your report… Greater devil and Rookie Killer, huh? This isn’t merely dangerous anymore. We may have to forbid entry into the forest before investigation is finished. Please do not enter the forest anymore.”
The onee-san said and handed over the payment for the frogs.
“I think this has become a major incident.”
We were on our way back to the hotel.
Yunyun muttered along the way.
“We encountered it at a very bad time. Right after we depleted our mana. Otherwise, upon meeting it, I could’ve given it a…”
“Stop saying nonsense! We couldn’t win against something like that! I feel like that devil could even withstand Explosion Magic!”
“… Oh. Is this a challenge? Very well. Let’s change our plans for tomorrow and go back to the forest…”
“No way! I definitely won’t enter the forest! You can go alone if you want!”
We bickered as we walked past the office for construction works.
“Th-Thanks… Good work, Supervisor…”
“Good work, boss~!”
The familiar and noticeable duo appeared before the office.
It seemed they just got off work.
The guy looked really tired. The girl, who hated manual labor so much yesterday, was smiling as if she spent a productive day.
The guy staggered along and said.
“Should we find a different job tomorrow…? As you said, we really can’t do this job.”
I looked at the guy who complained.
“What are you saying? Seriously, you’re such a NEET… How can we change jobs right after starting? Let’s go. Use the wages to have a good bath and meal, then work hard again tomorrow!”
The girl’s eyes brightened and she clenched her fist.
It seemed she discovered the joys of working.
“What are you standing there for? Megumin, do you know them?”
“… No. I don’t know them. It’s nothing. Let’s go.”
I urged Yunyun back to the hotel.
… That’s right. They were merely people I happened to run across.
But, for some reason, I felt good whenever I see them.
I was somewhat concerned.
“I want to drink ice cold beer!”
“Hey, hey. That’s alcohol. Can we drink alcohol? What’s the laws in this country?”
“Seriously, why are you so timid? Then let’s make do with cold Neroid today.”
“Neroid? What is Neroid?”
That girl didn’t reply.
“I’m hungry. Let’s go! Do you know? The public bath houses open at this time. I can have a good bath right now! I’ll go on ahead!”
She shouted and ran off.
“Ah! Hey. Wait. What the heck is Neroid!? By the way, if you run like that, you’ll fall…”
Before the guy finished saying, the girl fell down.
“… Megumin. Maybe it’s better if we don’t look…”
“T-True. Let’s go.”
I listened to the girl who was crying after she dropped her purse when she fell—
We returned to the hotel.
—A lot of things happened today.
I took a quest with Yunyun, then hunted frogs and rabbits.
And encountered a greater devil.
… What exactly is that devil?
When it saw my face, it said I looked like someone…
I remembered that it was looking for a huge black magical beast.
Now that I thought of it, perhaps it might have been better to listen to it further.
I opened the door to my room as I thought about this—
After walking in, I immediately rushed out and knocked on Yunyun’s door.
“Yunyun, I’m sorry. Come quickly. When I returned to my room just now, our little black magical beast Chomusuke wasn’t moving!”
“Where’s the food? You locked it in the room since this morning, right!? Did you leave some water and food for it!?”
INTERLUDE: SCENE 2
—A Troubled Lonely Girl—
“Listen to me! If you are looking for a companion, I have a good recommendation! There is an excellent spearman by the name of Rein Chelka in this town! He should be the youngest Dragon Knight from the neighboring country. He’s very famous…”
“Don’t you find it suspicious? Anyway, if he is so famous, why is he adventuring in the Rookie town? By the way, do you know what he looks like?”
“Hm… Uh… I don’t know what he looks like, but I heard that he is of noble birth! Except for those who bought their status with money, nobles should have blond hair and blue eyes! That’s right. Just find a polite handsome guy with blond hair and blue eyes!”
The noisy conversation echoed in the Adventurer’s Guild.
Upon closer examination, a girl with a spear on her back was arguing with a girl who looked like a thief.
Both of them were about my age.
“Excellent spearman, huh? Blond hair is very conspicuous. Anyway, I want a mage or priest. If you see someone like that, please persuade the person.”
A young man with a magic sword was talking cheerfully with them.
It seemed all three of them were in one party.
Anyway, that guy said he was looking for a mage or priest just now…
This was my chance.
If I continued to be passive, the distance between me and Megumin would only widen.
I had given up on adventurers coming over to talk to me. If I didn’t act now, I would regret it later.
I could not accept being inferior to Megumin forever!
I made my decision and stood up, walking over to the guy with the magic sword…!
… After coming close to the guy, I turned back as I was afraid of the threatening gestures of the other two girls.
—This wouldn’t do.
I was a lonely coward, destined to be Number Two forever.
“—Little girl, what is troubling you? Despite how I look, I’m still a priest. If you don’t mind, I’ll listen to your problems.”
As I sprawled on the table in despair over yet another failure to find companions, a beautiful onee-san came and talked to me.
That onee-san was wearing a blue priestly robe, so she is probably an Axis Cultist.
On the way to this town, I was troubled by the Axis Cultists, so I didn’t want to get involved with her, but…
“… After coming to this town, something that should have been easily resolved was unexpectedly difficult, so I was very troubled…”
Unwittingly, I confessed my problem to the onee-san.
Even though the other person belonged to the Axis Cult, feared by everyone for their unrestrained behavior.
The onee-san quietly listened to my problem and then said.
“No problem. Lady Aqua will help you.”
Hearing her kind words, I couldn’t help but raise my head.
As I looked at her respectfully, she immediately took out a piece of paper.
She gently handed the paper to me. It was something I had seen before.
An Axis Cult Recruitment Form.
“Come. If you join Axis Cult, you will definitely meet someone good…!”
The onee-san’s attitude suddenly changed and forced me to receive the paper…!
“T-Too much… That’s indeed the Axis Cult to take advantage of a kid’s depression. Rescuing someone from the quicksand in order to kick the person off the cliff! Look at her happy expression!”
“Their doctrines teach them to do things that annoy others. Unbelievable… But that kid still won’t…”
The people in the distance said as they observed our situation.
I clutched the recruitment form tightly.
“I want to join the Axis Cult! If I do that… If I do that, I can make friends and find companions, right!?”
Hearing my decision, even the big sister from the Axis Cult was surprised.