Giving thanks and blessings to the goddess!
Editing: Adam, BlitzBlast, Cannongerbil, Xenthur
Shortly after sunset, I went to a certain party being held in the merchant district.
“Kazuma, you’re late, we’ve already started! Hey, come over here!”
—You could call it a night festival, but that wasn’t quite right.
This was a celebration held on the final day of the festival.
The organizers of the festival booked the entire merchant district in order to host a banquet.
Among the guests were the chairman and members of the merchant district committee, as well as various Eris and Axis cultists.
I sat down next to Aqua, who had arrived before me.
“Hey, is it a good idea to let those people stay in the same place? Isn’t it like locking a goddess and a devil in the same room?
Hearing my analogy, Aqua looked unhappy.
“You shut-in schemer, describing Eris cultists as devils is going too far. And this is to celebrate the end of the festival, right? My children won’t make a scene during this banquet.”
Actually, when I said devils I was talking about the Axis cultists.
But never mind.
Just as Aqua said, the Axis cultists present neither argued nor picked a fight with the Eris cultists. Instead, they were taking the initiative to drink wine and enjoy themselves.
“So are you people just the type to get easier to deal with after partying all day?”
“That feels like you’re looking down on us, but you’re not wrong. By the way, I’m like that too. If you want me to be easier to deal with, then bring me some high quality wine every day.”
“So you admit that you’re usually a troublemaker.”
There were familiar people everywhere.
The priestess Cecily was rubbing her drunken face against the cheeks of a girl from the Eris Cult.
And for some reason, Vanir was eating together with Yunyun and Wiz. He was probably here as a member of the merchant district.
“Come on Darkness, drink up! Megumin, you too!”
“Why are you always so excited during banquets? H-Hey! Fine, okay, I’ll drink something. But don’t drag Megumin into this! I’ll drink Megumin’s share too!”
“I’m not a kid anymore, Darkness, so let me drink at times like this! I’m old enough to get married, you know! Oh, Kazuma, you’re late. Hey, help me explain this! I’m only two years younger than you, so I’m not that young!”
Chris’ face was bright red as she hugged Darkness and Megumin.
Did all goddesses love banquets?
“Nah, you’re too young to drink alcohol. Also, we’re three years apart now. Wanna know why? Because today’s my birthday!”
That’s right, today was my first birthday since coming to this world.
Announcing my own birthday was a bit shameless, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. I wanted to be congratulated by everyone.
“Huh. Happy birthday, I guess? Okay then, Kazuma, give me a present now.”
But the first congratulation I got was…
“…A present? Hey, what’s that supposed to mean? Why do I have to give you a present?”
Hearing this, Aqua shook her head exasperatedly and replied:
“I guess you really are just an idiot who doesn’t know this country’s customs. Fine, I’ll tell you. In this country, the birthday person gives presents to the people who took care of him the past year out of gratitude. It’s something like, ‘Thanks to everyone, I made it through the year safely.’”
Was that for real? This world was too evil.
But because there were monsters in this world, the average life expectancy was rather low. A custom like that actually wouldn’t be that strange…
“There’s no custom like that. Happy birthday, Kazuma. I’ll give you a present later.”
When I heard Megumun’s words, I immediately seized Aqua.
“Well aren’t you good at lying, you who-knows-how-old hag! Hey, how about you tell me another one? What’s your birthday and age, huh?!”
“Uwaaaaaah! Kazuma, you’ve said something you shouldn’t have again! I’ll have to beat some sense into you!”
As Aqua and I throttled each other, Darkness spoke up while holding her wine glass in a handkerchief.
“Happy birthday, Kazuma. When we get home, I’ll give you a present too. I’m sorry, I would’ve prepared one earlier if I’d known.”
“Oh, thanks. I guess it’s my fault for not mentioning it earlier, huh. Megumin’s birthday ended up passing by unnoticed too, so we can just celebrate mine next time. By the way, now that I think about it, when’s your birthday? You’re a noble, so I’m sure there’ll be one hell of a party.”
“Huh? M-My birthday? …U-Um, you see…”
Seeing Darkness’ gaze wandering away, Chris said simply.
“Darkness’ birthday happened a long time ago. There was that huge party in spring, right? Oh, now that I think about it, why didn’t Assistant-kun and the others come to the party?”
Upon hearing this, Darkness shivered. And with that, I understood.
“Let me guess. You thought that something bad would happen if we came, so you intentionally didn’t invite us, right? You thought we’d do something stupid to the other nobles, right?!”
“Wait, really?! That’s going too far! Oh, now that I think about it, back when we got that commendation from that kid Iris too, Darkness suggested that we decline!”
“Let’s punish her! Today we’re going to punish this rich girl who thinks too much!”
I watched Aqua and Megumin berate Darkness, who was about to cry. Then, Chris, who’d been smiling bitterly alongside me, pulled on my sleeve and suggested we head somewhere else.
“That turned into a mess… Anyways, I heard from Darkness that you were the mastermind behind this entire incident?”
After we left, we started to wander around the nearby area. The night wind was cold on my face, which was burning hot from all the wine I drank. Then, Chris suddenly spoke up with an exasperated expression on her face.
Many things happened after Eris herself appeared in the beauty pageant held in her honor.
The manifestation of a goddess became major news, spreading quickly to the nearby cities and even the imperial capital via magic, carrier pigeons, and even swift horses.
According to the merchant district chairman, as the town where the goddess descended, Axel was sure to become a holy place for the Eris cultists.
“A-About that, I’m really sorry. I’ll help you search for the divine relics, so please forgive me… But you know, the merchant district committee said that, ‘After that happened, the Goddess Eris Thanksgiving Festival definitely has to go on now.’”
Hearing that, Chris started feeling awkward and embarrassed.
“It will? …Well, since you and Aigis helped me out back on stage so much, I guess I’ll forgive you this time!”
“I’m truly grateful, milady goddess. Thank you so very much!”
We bantered with each other as we wandered around the city, which still had some of the festival’s cheer.
I heard that after they safely escaped from the beauty pageant, Aigis was completely obedient to Chris.
She’d find a good new master for it soon, and give Aigis away as a trump card against the Demon King’s army.
And like that, the search for the divine relic and the competition between the Eris Church and Axis Cult ended on a good note.
But now that I think about it, the influence of a real goddess really is pretty impressive.
After all, just by walking down the street like this..
“Sigh… Do you think Eris-sama is still somewhere in this town? I’ve been longing for her ever since the first time I saw her portrait…”
“Even if she was, she wouldn’t appear before you and your evil thoughts. Only a sincere Eris cultist like myself could someday meet her.”
“You’re the evil one here, you spent the savings for your marriage on the teleport service here just so you could get here faster.”
“You idiot, I came here to get Eris-sama’s blessing for my marriage. I talked about it with my girlfriend and everything.”
We encountered two men who were enthusiastically talking about Eris.
I rubbed shoulders with them as we walked by.
“…Did you hear that? Aren’t you going to bless him, Eris-sama?”
“Assistant-kun, I’m not Eris-sama right now. I’m Chris-sama. The only thing I can do for him now is to steal treasure from your house to compensate that man for his wedding savings.”
We both laughed.
And perhaps because we suddenly stopped to do that, someone bumped into Chris’ back.
It was a pair of young sisters. They were holding some pretty flowers.
“O-Oh, I’m sorry!”
“I’m very sorry!”
The two sisters hurriedly apologized to Chris.
“I’m the one who should apologize for stopping so suddenly. Are you two okay? You’re not hurt, are you?”
As she said that, Chris bowed her head.
That’s how she noticed that the younger sister had dropped a flower on the ground.
Chris quickly picked it back up.
“S-Sorry! I can’t believe I let such a pretty chris fall on the ground..”
She handed the violet flower back to the girl.
“Chris? …Is that the flower’s name?”
I softly asked as I looked at the flower in the girl’s hand.
“That’s right, this flower is called a chris. In the language of flowers, it means ‘a heart that never gives up’.”
Hearing Chris’ explanation, the older sister said in admiration.
“Woooow. Hey, why do you have a scar on your face? Are you an adventurer? Daddy says that adventurers are all punks. But if you’re a punk, why do you know so much about flowers?”
This rapid string of questions so characteristic of children slightly troubled Chris.
Scratching the scar on her cheek, she answered:
“Um… I got this scar during a fight with the bad guys in the Demon King’s army. And I’m an adventurer, yes, but not all adventurers are punks. Like this onii-chan over here.”
She smiled happily as she looked at me.
“And I’m only familiar with this flower in particular. Look, it has the same color as my eyes, right? Personally, I really like chrises.”
Bending down to meet the eyes of the two girls, Chris brought the flower close to her face in order to catch its scent.
“Oh, I get it now. This flower is an offering to Eris-sama. My sister and I put our allowances together to buy it.”
“Yeah, I heard that Eris-sama also really likes chrises!”
“Wow… I’m impressed, you even know what Eris-sama likes! But if Eris-sama knew that kids like you were spending your allowances on flowers for her, she’d be happy, but also sad too. So let’s make this the last time you do this. I’m sure Eris-sama would be happier that way.”
Chris said in embarrassment as she gently ruffled their heads.
“Oh… But, we really wanted to thank Eris-sama.”
“…You want to thank her?”
Puzzled, Chris tilted her head.
“Yeah, we do. Mommy said that everybody can live peacefully because Eris-sama gives people all kinds of powers to fight the evil Demon King.”
“Oh, and she also said that Eris-sama secretly does good things in places nobody knows about. That’s why we wanted to thank Eris-sama, and cheer her on too.”
“I-I see… Well, even if you don’t make any more offerings from now on, I’m sure that your feelings alone will make Eris-sama very happy. She’ll definitely be very grateful for your support.”
Chris looked just a bit troubled as she said that.
And then, with a somewhat relieved expression, she embarrassedly scratched her cheek.
Looking at her, the younger sister said:
“…Now that I think about it, your eyes and hair look like they’re the same color as Eris-sama’s.”
Kids sure are perceptive.
The older sister was also staring at Chris’ hair, which made Chris slightly flustered.
…Not that it mattered, it didn’t seem like they actually realized Chris’ true form. It was probably just some sort of childish whim.
After thinking for a bit, the girl offered her flower to Chris.
“My sister already has a flower we can offer, so this one is for you. Thank you for protecting us from monsters, adventurer!”
Saying that, the sisters smiled and pushed the flower into Chris’ hands.
“Ah-Ahaha. Okay, okay, I give up. I, I should thank you too…!”
Chris blushed after receiving the unexpected present from the girls.
Her eyes were on the verge of tears. She smiled shyly and stuttered.
The two girls smiled and then ran off.
“Okay, see you again mister! Bye-bye!”
“Huh?! Hey, wait! I’m not a mister, I’m a miss!”
Having been surprised once more during their parting, Chris was again on the verge of tears. But this time, for a different reason.
“Hey. Does the name ‘Chris’ come from…”
Chris bent her face down to the flower in her hand, closed her eyes, and breathed in its fragrance.
“That’s right. It comes from this flower.”
She watched the two girls leave with a fortunate expression.
“…And here I thought you just swapped out the ‘E’ in ‘Eris’.”
“What kind of person do you think I am?”
She stared at me with the flower still close to her nose.
“Well, if I had to say… You’re the person who’s always been working really hard behind everyone’s backs, the one person I can actually respect.”
“…O-Oh. I see, that’s, um, that’s good.”
Suddenly turning her face away, Chris started quickly walking back to the party.
“Woah there, are you embarrassed now? Did I just embarrass you, Big Boss?”
“You’re being annoying, Assistant-kun. Shut up for a bit.”
“I can tell even with your back facing me, you’re blushing so hard that even your ears are red. Like I thought, Eris-sama sure is cute. Will you marry me?”
“You’re being an annoyance, Kazuma-san. If you keep teasing goddesses any further, you’ll suffer divine retribution. And please don’t say things like that so casually, or else I’ll tell Darkness and Megumin later that you proposed to me.”
Still not looking back, Chris started walking even faster.
And then, still not facing me and still blushing, she sullenly said:
She was walking briskly, and holding the flower in her hands as tightly as if it were a precious treasure.
“…Thanks. For a lot of things.”
This goddess, who because of her young worshippers now felt that her daily efforts had been rewarded, muttered soft words packed with all sorts of meanings.
When I caught up with my impossible-to-hate, easily bullied, and very dear friend—
I felt just a little sad that this troublesome, noisy festival had come to an end.
After the end of the festival!
It was a certain day after the festival had ended, and after the town had returned to its usual peaceful atmosphere.
Lying on the sofa, Aqua was playing with the yellow furball on the empty shell, which still had a strong sense of presence. She said happily:
“Hey, Kazuma, Cecily sent a letter to thank you. ‘Thanks to you, the Axis Cult’s Axel branch has successfully achieved our goal. As arranged with the Eris Cult, the next year’s festival will also be co-hosted by both cults. This is all thanks to Kazuma-san donating so much money, so we will therefore consider you an honorary Axis cultist.”
Knowing that it was too late to argue, I threw away the letter Aqua was reading.
“You’re awful! What, aren’t you happy with the thank-you letter my cultist put so much effort into writing, you Sukapon NEET?!”
TL Note: Sukapon is the main robot in the fighting Nintendo game, Joy Mech Fight. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joy_Mech_Fight
“There’s nothing here to be happy about! Why do I have to become on of your worshippers?! This has to be some kind of punishment game!”
In the end, I gave all of the money I made as an advisor to Aqua.
After learning that Aqua had used her reward from the Kowloon Hydra hunt along with all of her usual savings to fund the festival, my sense of guilt was overflowing.
I helped rebuild the dilapidated church too. This should cancel out my role of scheming behind the scenes… I thought.
“Heheh, I see now, you’re just being a tsundere again. Kazuma’s a tsundere, so I should just hear the opposite of what you say, right? It’s like Cecily said. You’re a giant tsundere so whenever you say something mean I should just flip it around.”
“I hate both you and that woman.”
“…Why is it that I don’t feel any of the charm of a tsundere from you?”
Aqua sat down before me, then suddenly tilted her head and asked a question.
“Oh, right. Kazuma, there’s something I want to ask you. I heard Eris appeared during the beauty pageant, do you know where she went? Sheesh, she’s just too much. She went through all of the trouble of coming down here and didn’t even greet me. She’s so heartless towards her senpai.”
Even though she caused so much trouble for Eris, she still prided herself as a senpai. Feeling slightly impressed, I stood up from the sofa and picked up Emperor Zell, who was still sticking to Vanir’s empty shell.
I thought everything had been resolved, but I forgot that I still hadn’t decided on what to do with this little guy.
Wasn’t there a way to use this chick with great magical power?
“Hey, you’ll suffer in the future if you keep treating Emperor Zell so roughly, you know. When he grows up, I won’t stop it if it attacks you.”
“Okay, then I’ll finish him off while he’s still small.”
“…Don’t worry, Emperor Zell is kind and magnanimous, you don’t need to be afraid… Hey, Emperor Zell, come over here. This guy is as scary as the butcher on the third street, you need to be careful.”
What, now I was a butcher?
Emperor Zell returned to the empty shell and idly lay down.
“*Sigh*… And the work was finally done, too… I should be thankful that Eris-sama manifested, but the sudden influx of tourists was overwhelming…”
Darkness, who had been busy with lordship duties, rubbed the sides of her head.
“Good work. Being a lord must be hard. And hey, Eris-sama manifesting may have brought in a ton of tourists from all sorts of cities, but that’s helped improve the economy. Isn’t that a good thing?”
“I suppose it’s good that there’s so many people, but… Well, my father started to recover during the festival. Those troubling lordship duties are finally over as of today, so from now on I can go on quests without reservations.”
“Huh? What’re you talking about, don’t you know that I’m not doing any of those anymore? There’s finally no more reasons I should, after all. If I wanted money I could just use my Cooking skill to open up a restaurant with cute waitresses and cater to my hobbies and make a profit at the same time. I don’t need to go on quests anymore, right, Aqua?”
“That’s right. I want to focus on educating Emperor Zell right now, so forget about quests. I used all of the money from Kazuma to rebuild the church, to fund next year’s festival, and on the banquet. From now on, I’ll be living leisurely off of Kazuma’s money, so I won’t be taking any dangerous quests. Yes, I want to live idly in this mansion everyday and be worshipped during the annual festival.”
Aqua was agreeing with me, but…
“… Hey, wait, why do I have to spend money on you? I don’t mind covering food expenses, I guess, but at least earn your own allowance… And wait, did I hear that right? You’ve already spent all of the money I gave you?”
“Yup, all of it. And don’t worry about my allowance, I’ve thought up my second and third new money-making schemes.”
“You were so enthusiastic during the festival… And Aqua, I heard that. What are these two money-making schemes? Tell me before you do anything.”
…Covering her ears, Aqua pretended not to hear Darkness’ inevitable lecture.
I caressed Emperor Zell in my palm as I watched them.
Meanwhile, Megumin came down from the second floor in a one piece dress.
Seeing the usual quarrelsome scene, she smiled happily and sat down beside me.
“It’s too bad. The festival finally came, but in the end nothing fun happened. It was just noisy like always, and then it was over. Oh well, I guess that’s normal for us.”
“It really is. A festival should be a merry, noisy place where you have fun, that’s what sets the mood. Something as sad as fighting monsters during a fireworks display should never happen. I wish the festival was a little longer. At the very least, I’d like a proper fireworks display.”
Remembering the nice mood we had back at the fireworks display, I felt extremely unlucky and cracked a joke.
Looking at me like this, Megumin laughed happily.
“…That’s right, it’s Kazuma’s birthday. I’ll have to give you a birthday present.
“I’m fine with anything. But to be honest, I’m kind of worried about what you’ll give me. Don’t be like Aqua and give me some strangely shaped rock, okay?”
Hearing this, Megumin suddenly drew closer and whispered into my ear.
“Could you come to my room tonight? I have something important to tell you.”