One night with this red-haired beauty!
Editors: Adam, BlitzBlast, Cannongerbil, chosenone124, Skythewood, Xenthur
When I came to, we were already in front of the capital.
The soldiers guarding the main gate were probably already used to the phenomenon of teleport and weren’t in the slightest bit surprised at our sudden appearance. They dutifully checked the surroundings for monsters that may have broken through the frontlines.
Since I’ve come all the way here, I considered going to see my cute sister Iris, but they were probably still searching for the mysterious and handsome thief.
In other words, they wouldn’t be able to resist my special aura and would capture and interrogate me using the lie detecting magic tool.
I slowly dropped my knapsack and said:
“All right, since we’re already prepared upon arrival, my original plan was for us to go straight for the frontlines. However, now that I think about it, we should collect some info on the situation from that person over there. I’ve got a plan-”
Leaving my confused companions behind, I walked toward the guard of the main gate.
“Everyone here is working hard. Ah, your passion for your work is truly commendable.”
“Thanks. You guys are travelling adventurers, right? You’ve probably heard this already, but the capital is currently in a state of high alert due to the attacks of the Demon King’s army. Anyway, don’t just stand there. If you’re entering the capital then hurry up and come in.”
The soldiers maintained their vigilance as they spoke to me who was wearing a friendly expression.
“No, we’re not here to visit the capital. Rather, we rushed here after hearing that the capital was in a state of crisis. We want to go support the fortress closest to the frontlines.
“Oh, you came here to help? … Though I am truly moved, will you be fine on the frontlines with your gear? The enemies gathered near the fortress are all elite troops of the Demon King’s army, you know?”
Though in truth I was fully fitted in expensive gear, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that light armor is unsuitable for the situation.
At first glance, I did appear to be rather weak.
“Hey, hey, I’ll feel troubled if you evaluate me so lightly. I might not look the part, but I have the accomplishment of defeating a Demon King’s general… My name is Satou Kazuma, you’ve at least heard of this name before, right?”
“Huh? What are you saying, a man like you…?”
Just as the soldier was doubting the contents of my boasting…
“Hey, wait a second! I don’t recognize this man, but I’ve seen the people behind him before!”
Another soldier spotted the rest of my group sitting a distance away.
“That’s right! I’ve heard of that great mage who swept away the Demon King’s army with Explosion magic!”
“Wait, that’s Dustiness-sama! Dustiness-sama who was able to take the blows of a battalion of monsters is here!”
“I’ve seen that blue-haired priest before! When the Demon King’s army attacked a while ago, she cast powerful support magic and healed all the wounded!”
The soldiers pointed at the people standing behind me and excitedly discussed amongst themselves.
It seems that they remembered the time when we visited the capital and participated in repelling the Demon King’s army.
“It seems that you know your stuff. Yes, we’re…”
“Ah, I remember you! You’re the guy that was hacked to death by kobolds!”
“Yeah. Now that you mention it, I remember now. You’re the guy that embarrassingly charged in front and got surrounded and mobbed by kobolds!”
“You’re way too weak, don’t even think about coming to a place like this. There is a faraway town called Axel that is known as the gathering place for newbie adventurers. Why don’t you go there and level-up a bit first?”
“The monsters around here are all really strong. By the way, are you their servant or something? Even if you’re just a porter, you need to have decent strength.”
Ah, what should I say?
… No, now is not the time to pointlessly argue with these guards.
“As you can see, we’re a strong adventurer party. Besides me, the leader, the party is composed of an Arch Priest, a Crusader, and two Archmages. It’s a rather luxurious group, isn’t it?”
“Ah, that’s pretty amazing! … Hey, if I may ask, what job do you, the self-proclaimed leader have?”
“… Humph. Right now we’re going to go help the nearest fortress, but we’re not sure how to get there. That said, if there are any adventurers or soldiers going to the fortress, please allow us to accompany them. Of course, since they’re leading the way for us, we won’t charge any protection fees, so you can be rest assured.”
I ignored the soldier’s inquiry and returned to the original objective of this conversation.
Even though it was only a two-day trek to the fortress, there were a lot of strong monsters along the way. So I thought it’d be better to have someone guide us while simultaneously improving our combat capabilities.
To be honest, the only person that was useful in this situation was Yunyun. So in a roundabout way, I was actually looking for some makeshift bodyguards.
But my brilliant plan–
“It is extremely regrettable, but I’d not recommend going there. The enemy general’s siege on the fortress has been relentless. Currently, wounded adventurers are falling back every day, and his majesty the king, and the crown prince–whom were fighting in the frontlines–have been forced to retreat for the sake of their safety. In this kind of situation, no one would willingly go to the fortress.”
– Was shattered by the soldiers who described the unexpected circumstances.
The situation was far more dire than I’d thought.
The soldiers continued:
“Even though no one can bring you there, as a compromise, I can give you a map that shows you the location of the fortress, as well as the distribution of monsters in the area. I’d usually stop other adventurers from going, but with a party like yours, you shouldn’t have any problems getting there. Good luck! Your name is Satou Kazuma, right? I’ll tell the adventurers and the townspeople that ‘a brave adventurer party led by Satou Kazuma has left for the frontlines’!”
No, actually, I was reconsidering whether or not we should ask for help.
“I’ll leave it to you to help my comrades that’ve been struggling on the frontlines!”
“Yeah! We saw how you repelled the Demon King’s army last time! You guys can do it!”
“All right, I’ll go to town to spread the news! Everyone will be overjoyed!”
While I was at a loss for words, the soldiers continued to converse amongst one another.
They handed me the map.
“Well then, we’ll leave this to you!”
– With the map in hand, I solemnly returned to my idle companions.
“… Look, after talking to them, I managed to get a map to the fortress and the information about monsters.”
“Well that is a surprise, I didn’t think Kazuma was this enthusiastic. Well then, let’s go!”
The options to turn back were quickly cut off.
– If there weren’t any problems along the way, it’d take about two days to travel to the fortress.
Anyway, there were checkpoints along the way where we could rest.
Since a dangerous location like the frontlines wouldn’t have any caravans, we decided to travel to the first checkpoint.
“Oh, if anyone is hungry, please tell me, I brought a lot of snacks! Also, since I know elementary-level magic, I can create clean water, so if you’re thirsty you can tell me as well. Ah, Megumin stop! Don’t go there, that path looks like it is about to collapse.”
“Why are you so naggy? Are you a child going camping for the first time? We have a long walk ahead of us today, so if you keep this up, you’ll be really tired later.”
It seemed that it was Yunyun’s first time travelling with such a large group. She restlessly walked in front of the group, and her eyes were shining with a bright, excited crimson.
Although she’d accompanied us to the Crimson Demon Village, overnight trips were a different story altogether.
However, someone else besides Yunyun was equally excited.
“What are these light and fluffy things? I’ve never seen them in Axel.”
“… Hmm? Hey Aqua, they’re fairy-type creatures called Kesaran Pasaran. They’re completely harmless, so just ignore them…”
<TL Note: Kesaran Pasaran: Japanese mythical creature resembling dandelion seeds or balls of fluff. >
Despite my advice, Aqua continued to chase the curious flying furballs.
“Kesaran Pasarans are a subtype of snow-fairies, so if you bully it too much, their guardian will show up.”
Ignoring Aqua who excitedly chased the white furballs around, I asked Megumin an important question:
“Hey Megumin, are you sure it was a good idea to bring it along?”
I pointed at Chomusuke, who was walking in front of the group alongside the elated Yunyun.
Although I felt that it was pointless to bring this black furball to the frontlines, Megumin insisted that there would be a time where it’d be of some use to us.
“You’ll understand when we get there. In other words, this thing will help us subjugate the Demon King’s army general.”
Megumin answered the question of ‘why?’ before I could even ask.
Well, it was still hard to believe that the furball being fed by Yunyun was in fact an evil god.
“Ah. Hey Aqua, it’s dangerous to hold onto it any longer, just let it go already.”
“Just let me rub it a little while longer. I’ve been away from Emperor Zell for a long time and this thing reminds me of him.”
“Didn’t you part with Emperor Zell this morning?”
As Megumin and I listened to the peaceful chatter from behind, I began to doubt whether or not this was really the dangerous frontlines.
As I began to doubt myself –
I was alerted by my Enemy Detection.
However, since I was doused by the peace and tranquility of the situation, my reaction was one step slower.
As I was about warn everyone…
“Stop right there, adventurers! This path is under our control! Leave your money and luggage here!”
– A group of battle-ready bandits appeared before us.
Seeing this group of unkempt and disorderly men, I became excited like never before.
Though such events were outside my control, it was my first time experiencing such a fantasy world-like event since coming to this world.
Of course, it was the same for Aqua.
“Kazuma, it’s bandits! It’s my first time seeing actual bandits! In this world filled to the brim with monsters, there are actually people who take up such a useless way of life!”
Aqua excitedly gazed at the group of men.
At first I thought that the security of a fantasy world would be bad, and that there were probably bandits along the roads.
After all, this is a common thing in the fantasy worlds that I was familiar with.
However, the reality is not that simple. In a world filled with monsters, it was hard to understand why anyone would decide to live outside the walls of a town or city. To think that there were people that’d actually pursue a life of banditry…
If one was capable of surviving in a place filled with monsters, instead of waiting for prey that might not even show up, it’d be better to work as an adventurer and live a more stable life.
Adventuring might not be that stable a line of work, but compared to fugitives who were unable to enter towns and lived in constant fear of monsters and knights, being an adventurer was far better.
Aqua and I weren’t the only ones moved by the appearance of the legendary mob called ‘bandit’.
“Kazuma, Kazuma! The mob that’s rarer than onion ducks–bandits–have appeared!”
“Bandits have really appeared! Even though I travel a lot on my own, this is the first time I’ve encountered actual living bandits! When I return to the Crimson Demons Village, I’ll brag to everyone about this!”
The men gritted their teeth in anger as they listened to the excited cries of the two Crimson Demons.
It was then that I noticed the heavy atmosphere that surrounded Darkness.
Her body seemed to tremble in excitement.
The bandits’ frustration grew as they witnessed our unfazed reaction toward their appearance.
“Hey, are you guys looking down on us? Hurry up and hand over your money!”
The bearded man–who seemed to be the bandit leader–gazed at us with bloodshot eyes.
What a textbook performance!
These guys are definitely the real deal!
With each passing moment, we were becoming more moved by their appearance.
On the other hand, Darkness quickly moved in front of the group.
“Just looking at you people, I can clearly tell that you people haven’t had a bath in forever and reek of disgusting body odor! I’m not sure if it’s due to the abstinent lifestyle in the mountains, but your gazes are also filled with lust! You imbecile bandits who’d ravish weak girls with all your might, my name’s Dustiness ford Lalatina! As a female knight, I won’t let you do as you please!”
Darkness valiantly introduced herself and moved to the front of the party as if to shield us. However, her face–which was a shade of beet red–suggested otherwise.
“Hey, hey, did she just say Dustiness?”
“Dustiness as in the noble house Dustiness? Now that I think about it, she has blonde hair and blue eyes… Isn’t that evidence of her noble heritage?”
Without heed for the bandit’s conversation–
“You said to leave our luggage and money. But you bastards won’t be satisfied by just that, will you? I can tell just by seeing your gazes… Once we remove our battle equipment you’ll say things like, ‘Hey, aren’t these girls quite nice? We’ll be able to fetch a high price for them…!’.”
The men before us scrambled to get away from the rambling pervert who, once upon a time, said that she’d try to act more ladylike.
“Of course it won’t end there! You’ll say things like, ‘Boss, before we sell the goods, why don’t we try them out?’ with a dirty smile! Then the person over there that looks like your boss will say, ‘Oh, of course. Is there a reason not to try out our high quality products…?’ … Hey, what is it? Why are you suddenly running? What’s your intention?”
Darkness stared blankly at the bandits, who turned tail and ran away without a second of doubt.
“If there are nobles here, then that means there are knight squadrons nearby! Hurry up and run!”
“Those red eyes, they’re Crimson Demons!”
“Hey, hey wait! There are a bunch of young girls here! Are you sure you’re fine with this? Also, there are no knights here! Wait, wait! What about your pride as bandits…?”
To stop her from chasing the bandits while saying idiotic things, I grabbed Darkness by the collar of her armor.
“We’re in such a mess because you didn’t let those people go.”
“Ah, b-but as a knight I can’t turn a blind eye to those that harm the masses…”
The sun had completely set.
After setting up camp, we sat around a campfire.
Because a certain moron suggested we search the area to finish off the bandits, we didn’t reach the checkpoint in time.
“I also wanted to fight those bandits. If we defeat such a rare mob, lots of money will drop for sure.”
“Hey, don’t call bandits a mob.”
Those people were outlaws, but squandering our time was a criminal act as well.
“By the way, who’ll keep watch for tonight? The monsters around here are really dangerous.”
As Aqua said that, she added more sticks to the campfire and curiously inspected the contents of the pot that hung above it.
The pot continued to release a pleasant aroma.
“Ah, p-please leave it to me. I have confidence in my stamina, so everyone else can take a rest.”
“Darkness-san, this camping atmosphere has made me really excited! There’ll be no problems! Please leave it to me!”
Yunyun spoke to the apologetic Darkness without reserve.
From what I see, it seemed that she was really happy.
Megumin looked up toward Yunyun and said:
“… Don’t stay up late, all right? After all, you were probably really excited about our journey and didn’t sleep last night, right?”
“H-How do you know that?”
She was like a child going on a field trip.
“Just let me do it, all right? I have the Enemy Detection and Night Vision skills, and I’m a night owl anyway. Put out the fire after dinner so that we won’t be noticed by monsters.”
Hearing what I had to say, Darkness apologetically lowered her head.
“Sorry Kazuma, because of my stupid actions…”
“Of course, If you really feel bad about it, don’t chase after some random old men again.”
“No problem. I lost my composure because bandits–who’re the enemy of all female knights–appeared. I’ve prepared myself. In the future, I’ll only allow myself to be led around by a specific person.”
“Hey, I don’t get what you mean, but I feel like I’d be better off not knowing.”
Toward Darkness who said such nonsense with a serious expression, I replied with an equally serious expression.
A while after everyone else had eaten their late dinner and gone to sleep–
I put out the fire and stood guard over the camp alone.
I maximized the output of the Night Vision ability and tried various ways to see everyone’s sleeping faces.
Then, from somewhere in the faraway darkness, I detected the presence of some monsters.
The campfire had already been put out and the skies were cloudy without a trace of starlight, so the surroundings were almost completely dark. Even if it was a nocturnal monster, our position shouldn’t be easily discovered.
As a precaution, I activated Lurk on everyone.
Even though it looked like I was assaulting them in their sleep, this was simply a security measure. It wasn’t something I needed to feel guilty about.
Anyhow, I don’t think we’ll be discovered.
… I thought, but it seemed like the enemy was moving directly toward our location.
The time wasn’t even past midnight.
When I realized that, I figured out the identity of the monster–
It was an undead that was drawn to Aqua’s presence.
Thinking back to my experiences with Aqua in Keele’s dungeon, I remembered that masses of undead that were drawn to Aqua’s presence. It was to the extent that the Lurk skill had no effect.
It seems that there’s no other way. Should I wake everyone up?
If I have to wake everyone up, then we need to light a fire.
But that might attract a bunch of monsters. More importantly, the reaction of the undead becomes stronger in the presence of light.
If it was just a couple of zombies or skeletons, then I could deal with this alone.
With my Farsight ability, I can accurately fire several arrows if they get closer.
I considered the situation calmly and silently waited for them to approach.
The heavy sounds that came from the direction made me feel uneasy.
There was the sound of something wet.
At the very least, it was a sound that a mere zombie shouldn’t be able to make.
I tried focusing on it, but I couldn’t identify the enemy.
I had a bad feeling about this and quickly turned to wake everyone up.
“Hey, there’s something coming! It seems to be an undead… Hey, get up! Aqua, Aqua!!!”
The other three woke up immediately, but the most important person didn’t even bat an eye.
I drew my katana and pointed it in the direction of the approaching enemy.
“Hey, hurry up and wake this idiot up! Also, for some reason I can’t make out the silhouette of the enemy with my Night Vision. Just light up the surroundings!”
Darkness picked up her great sword and scabbard as Megumin tried to shake Aqua awake.
“Aqua, Aqua! Get up, an undead is here!”
Despite Megumin’s efforts, Aqua continued to lay motionless.
“I’m sleepy… Could you just tell them to let me go for today…?”
“Hey, useless livestock, get out of bed already! They’re here for you, so get up and do something! Tinder!!”
Infusing more mana than usual, I loudly chanted and directed the spell to the space in front of me.
The surroundings–which lacked a fuel for fire–was brightened by the magical luminescence.
Even though I used a large amount of magic power, the light still couldn’t be sustained for long.
Once I saw the enemy, I understood why I couldn’t see this enemy clearly with my Night Vision.
The reason I couldn’t identify the enemy was because it was too large.
“Ah-! W-W-W-W-W-What…? What, what, what’s this…?”
Megumin immediately lost her composure.
“How could it…? Why in a place like this…?”
Yunyun, who had faced off against numerous powerful enemies, froze at the sight of the monster.
Even Darkness who happily rushed into the most dangerous situations was at a loss for words.
“… H-Hurry up and w-wake Aqua up…!”
Gazing at the monster before us, I stiffly murmured.
A difficult to describe noise reverberated in the night.
Its vocal cords had probably rotted, so it could only utter such a sound.
It opened its maw wide and whenever it tried to roar, something sprayed out.
The thing it spitted out that fell to the ground with a wet thud was a part of its rotten body.
“The walking corpse of a dragon! There’s no better adversary for a Crusader! The three of you, back away!”
Darkness took a stance with her sword to protect us.
As if reacting to Darkness’s meager hostility, it once again released a disastrous sound as it pulled its gigantic body in our direction…
“Aqua–!! Aqua-sama–!! It’s a dragon!! A bone dragon’s appeared! Hurry up!! I beg you, please do something about it–!!”
Its gigantic body seemed like it could topple houses just by leaning on it.
The bone dragon extended it wings, and its massive body seemed to become even more daunting.
With a sense of dreadful hopelessness, I looked toward Aqua.
Aqua seemed to be unfazed and continued to roll in her sheets.
“Hmm… It’s just a bone dragon… Let Emperor Zell deal with it…”
“Stop dreaming and get up or you’ll become bone dragon food!”
The bone dragon pounced at Darkness!
After being hit by Aqua’s holy magic, the bone dragon released a dreadful cry and was purified.
If Aqua had any redeeming qualities, it was that she was reliable against the undead.
I was about to show my gratitude toward Aqua…
No, wait a second, it was her fault that the bone dragon showed up in the first place!
I looked at Darkness, who laid on the floor as Megumin and Yunyun kneeled beside her.
“Darkness! Please Darkness! Your injuries aren’t deep, so open your eyes!”
“Megumin, don’t shake her! I-I-In times like these, we have to stay calm!”
In the first place, if Aqua had woken up immediately, then Darkness–who protected us–wouldn’t have been struck unconscious.
“Hehe, how could a mere bone dragon be my worthy opponent? Kazuma, praise me however you wa– Ahhh–!”
Without another word, I grabbed Aqua’s face and began to use Drain Touch.
“W-Wait, what are you doing? Doing this when I can’t resist, are you looking for a fight?”
Aqua cried as she flicked my hands away, she then proceeded to tackle me.
“It’s because I don’t want to give you time to resist! Just look at Darkness! It’s your fault that the bone dragon showed up! Just get up when we tell you to get up! Give me some of your energy to make up for mine when I stayed up all night to keep watch!”
“What? W-Why should I? Didn’t you just ambush me? I won’t let you drain energy from me ever again. Here, I’ll let you try, but not even a real lich can drain from me!”
This selfish idiot!
Ignoring Aqua who showed a strange defiance, I ran toward Darkness and used Tinder to check her condition.
When I was busy trying to wake up Aqua, Darkness had taken the attacks of the bone dragon on her own…
“Heal–! … Well, as expected of Darkness. Even though a dragon’s signature breath attack can’t be used after they become undead, their physical limits are removed. So basically, a bone dragon’s physical attacks are more powerful than living dragons. I’m surprised she wasn’t reduced to paste when she took on the bone dragon’s attacks head on.”
Aqua said such dangerous things as she healed darkness.
Come to think about it, it was rare for Darkness to be knocked out so easily.
Were the monsters in the frontlines this vicious?
… Well, if there are bone dragons, doesn’t that mean that there are also live dragons here?
Hmm… Although the map mentioned bone dragons, I’m fairly confident that it never mentioned live dragons…
Megumin and Yunyun sat worriedly beside Darkness, whose armor had been deformed from the vicious blows of the bone dragon.
Then, I noticed the things looming in our surroundings.
“Damn, the monsters have noticed our presence because of the light and noises from the fight. My Enemy Detection is showing a huge return signal. We don’t have a choice, let’s move somewhere else. I’ll take Darkness’s and your luggage, so Aqua, carry Darkness.”
“What? You’re asking me to carry Darkness? She’s really heavy with her armour on. Also, are we going to walk around in the dark?”
I deftly gathered their belongings and said:
“Cast some strength enhancing magic on yourself. With your high stats besides luck and intelligence, you should be able to easily carry her if you cast it. Cast a buff on me too while you’re at it. It’s already hard to carry three people’s worth of luggage with my abilities, so there’s no way I can carry Darkness. Megumin and Yunyun will hold my hands and we’ll proceed using my Night Vision. Be careful not to trip.”
As I said that, I picked up the luggage.
Ugh… As expected, it’s a bit too much…
“By the way, even without armor, isn’t Darkness rather heavy? Also, she was bitten by the bone dragon so she smells really bad…”
“… That’s because Darkness’s body is full of muscles, don’t tell her that though.”
Darkness’s armor made clattering sounds with each step that Aqua took.
Under the cloudy skies and without the slightest glint of starlight, we proceeded forward through this black landscape.
Aqua–whose ability to see in the dark was far superior to mine–happily said:
“Ah, this reminds me of the time when Kazuma and I went to that dungeon a while ago. If I remember correctly, Kazuma tried to touch my butt in the darkness.”
“Hey, if you’re going to make groundless accusations, I’ll leave you here alone.”
Megumin giggled at our pointless banter.
“Even though we just encountered a bone dragon and barely escaped a group of monsters, I can’t help but feel reassured. While we can’t be called a powerful party, I feel that as long as we stay together, we can overcome anything.”
Megumin tightened her grip on my hand.
… Well, maybe I expected too much of her thoughtless but honest behavior.
“How great… When will I be able to encounter companions like Kazuma-san’s group?”
Yunyun–who held my other hand–said with a hint of envy.
When Yunyun said that, Megumin clenched my right hand tightly for some reason.
“That’s impossible. After all, Yunyun needs to be able to make friends first.”
“H-Hey, don’t diss people at a time like this!”
After a long trek, Darkness finally woke up.
A while after, we saw the light of the checkpoint residence, and we collectively breathed a sigh of relief.
I heard there was a place to stay, but I wasn’t expecting a building as large as a noble’s mansion, surrounded by solid walls.
As we moved closer, we saw a billboard indicating the specialties here.
“So the living accommodation here is a hot-spring inn… When I think of hot-springs, I can’t help but remember the time where we went to Alcanretia.”
Megumin nostalgically said.
Darkness and Megumin giggled, as if resisting the urge to outright laugh.
“Yes. Back then, Kazuma tried to eavesdrop on us when we entered the bath.”
“K-Kazuma-san, did you really do that…?”
Yunyun’s jaded eyes stared at me as if she was looking at trash.
“Hey Kazuma, the bath here’s probably a mixed-bath, so could you wait till we’re done to go in? I feel like my chastity is at risk.”
“That’s merely wishful thinking; Even I have the right to choose, you know?”
Aqua and I pushed our palms against one another as if we were sumo-wrestling. Then, Megumin happily said:
“Let’s go. There aren’t many people who’d come to a hot-springs inn out here, so we probably have the place all to ourselves.”
“I’ll go first! Actually, why don’t we all wash together?”
“I don’t mind.”
And of course, my reply was ignored.
“Wait, didn’t Aqua ruin the hot-spring in Alcanretia? Aqua, could you go in last?”
“Hmm, all right. Taking a bath last is pretty enjoyable you know; after all, being able to take my time is one of the merits of a vacation.”
“T-T-Taking a bath… With everyone…”
Despite the time, the girls rowdily entered the inn.
… Would it kill you guys to listen to what I’ve to say?
Then, Megumin turned to face me, who was left behind by the group.
“Well then, would you rather take a bath with me?”
Megumin delightfully giggled to herself.
Hey, what are you trying to do all of a sudden? If I say, ‘All right, why not?’ then you’ll be flustered, won’t you?
When I was at a loss for words, Darkness turned and said:
“We’ll finish quickly; after that you can take your time in the bath. After all, you seem to take a long time to bathe.”
Japanese people tend to take long baths, so it can’t be helped.
“Well otherwise, if you’d like to, I can scrub your back like I did before…”
Darkness showed the same expression as Megumin.
“What are you guys saying? Did you eat something wrong? Even though there’s a saying that states where people become really open when they’re travelling, you guys should think it through first. If you say such suggestive things, then what are you going to do when I say ‘Well sure!’ …?”
“I’m fine with that. When do you want to go to the bath?”
“Sure, if you really have the guts to do it, I’ll scrub your back whenever.”
As if they already predicted what I was going to say, the two replied without a moment’s delay. They also showed rather provocative expressions…
What’s happening, since when were these two so accepting?
If I just say the word, would these two actually do it?
Hmm, what should I do…? I should say ‘Well sure!’, shouldn’t I…?
“Then let’s go, Kazuma.”
Once I saw Megumin’s serene and happy expression, I understood.
That was the expression of someone who believed that I was just shooting my mouth off and wouldn’t actually do anything in the end.
Ah, what’s this feeling?
To be honest, I want to do some lewd things, I want to do some affectionate things. I really do.
But I didn’t want to betray their trust.
Ah, what were they planning to do? What exactly did they see in me?
Megumin easily said things like ‘I don’t dislike you’ and jokingly said things like ‘I like you’, but never said anything like ‘Please go out with me’, or any other decisive lines for that matter.
On the other hand, Darkness–even though we’d almost crossed the line together, even though our relationship had become rather close at the mansion; it felt as if my affection points had been reset.
What’d they want from me?
A girl’s heart is hard to understand, so I can’t go on the aggressive either…
Even though I thought it was fine, if they told me ‘Please don’t misunderstand.’, then our good relationship would crumble.
Damnit, since when was I so weak? I, Satou Kazuma, shouldn’t be such a feeble person!
Now that I think about it, did I really like them that much?
I couldn’t be sure.
Maybe I won’t like them so much after I go for a succubus service.
I’m really the worst, but I won’t find the answer even if I keep thinking about it.
Well, there was no need to rush.
I’ll just go take a bath and slowly think about it.
Putting these thoughts on hold, I removed my clothes.
– As I posed before the mirror, I couldn’t help but think that this quickly levelling body had been developing quite well.
We arrived at the inn a little past midnight, so there shouldn’t be anyone here.
However, a pleasant humming came from the bathing area.
Hearing these hums that showed the owner’s good mood, I was sure that there was a girl in the bath.
Even though everyone already knew that I’d enter the bath after them, there was still someone here.
This kind of rare situation… Was Megumin or Darkness trying to tempt me?
Heh, do they really think I’m that much of a wimp?
… All right, I’ve decided.
This is too much of a pain.
I don’t care if it’s Megumin or Darkness, if they’d resort to these dastardly methods to tempt me, then I’ll show them what’s up.
They can beg for mercy all they want; I’ll do it no matter what.
Like I care anymore about ‘party chemistry’ or such troublesome things!
Now that I’ve finally decided to do it, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of inner peace.
It was foolish of me to become troubled with such problems.
Those acts were unbecoming of myself.
Yes, from now on, I’ll live according to my own wishes.
With a newfound sense of vigor, I proudly pushed open the door–
There was a red-haired onee-san in the bath.
“… Eh? Why, and here I was thinking who it was. It’s you again. Do you still remember this onee-san? We met in the hot-springs at Alcaretia…”
Toward this welcoming and smiling onee-san, I shouted without a trace of hesitation.
“I’ll kill you!!”
– I entered the bath a fair distance away from the frightened onee-san.
“Ah, this hot spring is quite nice. Also, could you not act so scared of me? I was just a bit frustrated that my ‘moment of clarity’ had been wasted. I thought that one of my companions was in the bath…”
“I-Is that right? Also, it’s perfectly normal for me to be scared of you. After all, you declared your intention to kill me even though this is practically the first time we’ve met. How should I say this? Your eyes were totally serious and I could feel the murderous intent from all the way here…”
The onee-san’s cat-like eyes seemed to dilate in fear.
“Well… Now that I think about what onee-san said… If I remember correctly you’re that teary-eyed onee-san whose breasts I stared at, right? Of course I remember you, they’re big, after all.”
“Um, I, … Even though this is the second time we’ve met, you’re able to say ‘they’re big’ without any hesitation… Isn’t this sexual harassment…?”
“No, I’ve decided. From now on I’ll no longer hide my true self. I won’t avert my gaze nor will I resist my urges. I’ll live life my own way.”
“Even though what you said sounds good, in this situation, I can’t help but think that I’m in a crisis…”
For some reason the fear in her gaze seemed to increase. As if to hide her body, she submerged her shoulders in the murky-white spring water.
In the face of the kind Samaritan Satou Kazuma, was there really a need to be so cautious?
I thought back to my first encounter with this onee-san.
If I remember correctly, she had been talking to the general in charge of destroying Alcaretia–the poison slime, Hans–as if they were companions.
That’d mean that this onee-san was involved with the Demon King’s army. To begin with, shouldn’t I be the one who should be cautious?
“By the way, why are you in a place like this? You said you were an adventurer, but aren’t there a lot of powerful monsters here? Though saying this is a show of bad manners, you don’t look very strong… Will you be fine?”
Ah. This onee-san wasn’t suspicious of me; rather, she was genuinely worried for me.
Seeing this onee-san’s attitude, I released a long sigh.
Usually I–who barely counts, but am still an adventurer–should be trying to figure out this onee-san’s true identity. However, I couldn’t bring myself to hate this onee-san that I just met.
“There’s no problem. Even though I’m really weak, there’s a reliable Crimson Demon with us. Anyway, I didn’t want to come to this place, but my companions wanted to… So… Why’s onee-san in this place?”
“Me? … Well, I guess that’s true. After working hard every day without rest, to reward myself, I came to my favorite hot spring. Also, I’m looking for an important companion that can’t be found that easily…”
This onee-san seemed to have come with good intentions.
“Important companion? So you came to find your lover?”
“No, it’s not a lover… Hmm, more accurately, I’m looking for my partner, a part of myself that was sealed away somewhere… Well, at this point I feel like giving up.”
As onee-san said that, she showed a lonely expression.
“Give up on what? One of my companions is a bit weird, like there’s something wrong with her head… No, she’s a person of special circumstances… Do you want to discuss it with her? She’s here as well.”
“Ah… Is that person a Crimson Demon? I’m not that type of weird person, so don’t worry.”
Although the onee-san’s expression was stiff, she replied with a bright smile.
“Eh, is that right? Well then, I can listen to your problems I guess. If you don’t mind, could you tell me about it?”
Seeing my relaxed attitude, the onee-san said to me with a smile:
“You’ll listen to my complaints? Hmm. Somewhere in the Crimson Demon village, something like my other half or companion or evil god… Basically, my partner who’s a black cat was sealed in a gravestone.”
I felt like I’ve heard this onee-san’s story before.
This was extremely similar to the story I’d recently heard from a certain improper crimson-eyed girl.
“When it was released with me, it accumulated intense grudge and was too hard to keep under control, so I allowed it to slumber a little longer… But when I went back to check on the situation, the seal had already been released and my partner had been taken by someone.”
Though it was unlikely, could it be–?
“… I’m just a bit curious, but is your partner a black cat that can fly and breath flames?”
“Sorry, but I don’t understand what you mean.”
The onee-san gazed at me in serious disbelief.
No, wait a second, why was someone who was just talking about a sealed evil god looking at me like that?
I quickly recomposed myself.
“Well, my Crimson Demon companion proclaims that her pet black cat’s an evil god.”
The moment I mentioned it, the onee-san’s expression became more sinister.
“… A black cat raised by a Crimson Demon? And that person called the cat an evil god? It sounds a bit chunni though…”
“Um, hmm, well that’s all there is… Well anyway, that person said that she was a god of destruction or something in her previous life, so there’s no need to take her seriously.”
I was slightly uncomfortable toward her sudden shift in attitude.
“I-Is that so? If you don’t mind me asking, is that black cat…? Right, does it like lazy people?”
“… I don’t think so? I think that that cat’s the closest to me, and I don’t think I’m really lazy at all. I put in the most effort in my entire party and I’m fairly certain I have the most common sense as well.”
“I-Is that so…? Then, is it really ferocious?
For some reason, the onee-san seemed to flinch.
“It’s so timid that a newborn chick was chasing it around.”
“Thanks, that’s enough. It’s not the one I’m looking for.”
Hearing my reply, the onee-san appeared to have confirmed something.
As she stood up from the bath with some effort, beads of hot water dripped from her towel and trickled down her skin.
“Then I’ll be going. This place is close to the front against the Demon King’s army, and the security is lacking to the extent where I encountered the rare existence known as bandits on my way here. You’re better off going back to the capital, all right?”
The onee-san squinted her cat-like yellow eyes and revealed a sincere, heartwarming smile.
“… How should I say this? I can’t really explain it, but I don’t want to treat onee-san like a stranger. I don’t really get this strange feeling… Ah, no. I’m not trying to hit on you or anything like that, ok?”
Though I said something absurd without thinking, the onee-san didn’t seem troubled at all, but rather, she opened her squinted eyes in surprise.
“This… Um, what a coincidence. To me, you don’t feel like a stranger either. That’s why I’m giving you some advice to get away from here as quickly as possible… After all, there’s the chance you encountered my other half and have taken good care of it.”
The onee-san playfully teased, then left with a happy smile.
As I saw the onee-san off, I got the feeling that, even if she was related to the Demon King’s army, I didn’t want to see her as a dangerous person… I couldn’t understand why…
If I get the chance to talk to her again, I’ll ask her why she joined the Demon King’s army…
“… Crap, I didn’t ask for onee-san’s name!”
The next morning–
Having slept well at the inn, our party moved toward the fortress with renewed vigor.
“Kazuma, you seem to be in a good mood. You stayed in the bath for a long time yesterday. Did something happen?”
Walking on the paved road, Megumin happily said.
“I guess something happened. When I went into the hot spring yesterday, I encountered a beautiful onee-san that I met before in Alcaretia.”
In response to my cheerful reply, Megumin suddenly stopped walking.
“Oh, huh? I suppose that’s pretty good. By the way, did you meet in the mixed bath?”
“Yeah. Hmm, now that I think about it, they were quite big. They were probably even bigger than Darkness’s.”
It seemed that Darkness was listening to the conversation, as she practically jumped when she heard me say that.
“What are you saying all of a sudden? If I leave my eyes off you for a moment, something like this happens… But isn’t a solitary young girl at a fortress checkpoint a bit suspicious?”
Darkness carried her broken armor pieces and showed an expression between anger and embarrassment.
“It’s fine. That onee-san gave me a warning, just like back in Alcaretia. She also said she encountered some bandits last night, so we should be careful.
Yunyun–who energetically listened in on our conversation–asked:
“Um, that person was fine after encountering bandits? It’s probably the same group of bandits that we saw yesterday. If it’s a beautiful onee-san, then she shouldn’t have been able to get away…”
“Eh, despite your honest appearance, you have such perverted fantasies.”
Megumin–even though she was busy dodging Chomusuke who ran excitedly at her feet–found the time to make snarky remarks at Yunyun.
Hmm? Yunyun has a point.
How’d that onee-san turn out unharmed after encountering those bandits?
… Well that was because she was affiliated with the Demon King’s army, but…
Despite her mellow appearance, maybe she was really powerful.
Well, I had no idea what to think of that onee-san.
I should’ve been more cautious toward her than the bandits, but because we were in the same bath, I didn’t think she was dangerous.
“Wait, isn’t it normal to think that way if we’re talking about bandits? Also, I don’t want to be called a pervert by Megumin of all people! Haven’t you already taken a bath and shared a bed with Kazuma-san?”
“Hey! It’s fine if I say it myself, but it’s embarrassing for someone else to say it, so shut up!”
Looking at Megumin who received retaliation for her remarks, I thought about that onee-san.
“… Ah, they’re big.”
– After that–with the exception of Aqua being attacked by a great kesaran pesaran after chasing them around–nothing worth mentioning happened.
Finally, we arrived at the fortress at the break of dusk.
Now we were looking up at a fortress which was about the size of the royal castle.
As expected of the frontline fortress, it looked as if it was impregnable.
The fortress had an overwhelming presence as the cornerstone of the kingdom and was said to be able to accommodate over a thousand people.
“Did those guards say that this fortress’s falling to a mere Demon King’s general? Even if it’s a general, I doubt that it can be done.”
“That’s what I thought, but a Demon King’s general is said to be able to destroy an entire city on its own. In another sense, what’s abnormal is how we were able to defeat them so easily.”
Hearing Darkness’s response, I thought back to the generals that we’d encountered in the past.
– Despite being attacked from numerous directions at the same time, he showed no opening in his defense. His overwhelming swordsmanship was accompanied by his limitless stamina and high magic defense as an undead. No matter what kind of powerful enemy he faced, he could defeat them using Proclamation of Death. The Dullahan knight, Beldia.
– Having the power to change into human form, absolute resistance to magic attacks and a poisonous composition that’d fatally harm anyone that touched him, he was able to use his overwhelming size to crush and devour anything in his way. The poisonous slime of fatality, Hans.
– By constantly evolving by combining with monsters, she(?) possessed the power to incorporate various unique traits and use all forms of energy as she pleased. The limitless chimera, Sylvia.
– Possessing an indestructible form, his existence could be said to violate the rules of the world itself. The duke of hell, Vanir.
– Not only did she have the ability to use all forms of advanced and teleportation magic, but she could also use explosion magic. Not only does she have a body that’s invulnerable to physical attacks, she also has the ability to use all sorts of special skills like Drain Touch. The queen of the undead, the lich, Wiz.
… When I really thought about their absolute power, I couldn’t help but release a long sigh.
It was a miracle that we were alive.
What should we do…? I thought that we’d be fine with such a sturdy fortress and explosion magic, but now I just want to pack my bags and run away.
It was then–
Just as we were starting to get cold feet, the guards on the fortress walls spotted us and a group of knights made their grand entrance.
“Adventurers, this is the fortress of the frontlines tasked with repelling the Demon King’s army, what brings you here?”
A knight cautiously approached us.
“We heard that the capital of the nation was under threat, so we came to support the fortress. We have a lot of top-tier jobs, so we thought we’d be useful here.”
“Top-tier jobs…? I see, then allow me to thank you for your help. However, first I’d like for you provide proper identification. We need your cooperation with this since there’s a Demon King’s army general hiding around here. So first is…”
Megumin took out her adventurer’s card and handed it to the knight.
“… Megu-, Megumin-san, right?”
“Yes, that’s my name, you got a problem?”
“No, no! None at all! Please excuse my behavior, you can come in… And you’re… Yunyun-san?”
“Y-Yes… That’s my name… I’m Yunyun…”
“Hey, from the beginning, you seem to have some misgivings about our names. Let’s hear them, shall we?”
Megumin pointed her staff directly at the knight who frantically replied.
“No, there’s no problem, please excuse my behavior! Then next is… Satou Kazuma. Satou, Kazuma?”
The knight hurriedly returned the adventurer’s cards to Megumin and Yunyun and quickly revealed an expression of wonder.
Ah. Unlike the two people with weird names, the reason he reacted to my name was probably because I was famous.
After all, our group has had a lot of achievements–
“Satou Kazuma! Are you that dirty rascal, Satou Kazuma? You’re that person who planted devious ideologies in Iris-sama’s mind and gave Claire-sama and Rain-sama a lot of trouble. You’re the atrocity that was driven out of the castle–!”
“Hey, wait a moment.”
The knights here were still spreading this kind of lowlife gossip?
Well, they weren’t wrong. But still…
“I’m extremely sorry. Um, this is an important checkpoint for defending the nation from the Demon’s King army, so we can’t allow some nameless stranger to enter…”
“Didn’t you just describe me in detail?”
To think he’d treat me like some troublesome brat…
Then, the person that looked like their commander came forward.
“So you’re that dirty scum called Satou Kazuma, huh? You’re only a petty adventurer, so what kind of attitude do you think you’re showing? I have the authority to execute any suspicious people here, you know? You’re just a dirty lowlife adventurer, so get the hell out of here!”
To show his threat, the commander put his hand on his sword’s hilt.
Megumin angrily gripped her staff and Darkness walked to the front with an uncharacteristically sinister expression.
Seeing the two, the surrounding knights prepared to draw their swords.
“What do you think you adventurers are doing? You want to fight us, huh?”
Sigh, why were these fellows so impatient?
With the exception of Darkness, it seemed that the nobles of this world held very little value toward human lives and rights.
With a serious expression, I walked to the front of the group and pointed at Darkness who was about to say something.
“Know your place, do you not know who this esteemed lady is? She’s the daughter of the Dustiness family, Dustiness ford Lalatina-sama!”
Hearing what I said, the knights hurriedly kneeled. Their faces were a shade of deathly white.
Surprised at the sudden turn of events, even Megumin and Yunyun kneeled with the knights.
“Why are you two kneeling as well?”
“Ah, my bad. It happened so suddenly that I was caught up in their pace…”
“I-I didn’t know that Darkness-san was a noble…”
The two of them stood up and patted the dirt off their knees. On the other hand, the captain replied to my declaration with a trembling voice:
“A-A-Are you really Lady Dustiness…? Um, please forgive me for my insolence and my failure to recognize your greatness…! … Ah, then please allow us to confirm your identity… It’s not that I suspect you, just that this is part of the job…”
Without another word, Darkness pulled out her necklace that was evidence of her heritage along with her adventurer’s card.
Seeing the two items, the commander’s eyes widened like never before and his face became devoid of color.
“P-P-Please excuse my insolence! Not only did I fail to recognize Lady Dustiness, but I even showed such disgraceful etiquette toward these esteemed man and ladies!”
“Humph, that’s barely enough of an apology! Ah! When I think about how I was about to be viciously slashed, I can’t help but feel shaken and hurt to my core. That was an incident that’ll forever be a mental scar.”
“AUGH! When I think about what just happened, my heart feels as if it’ll explode…!”
Facing the commander that was putting his full effort into apologizing, I intentionally pressed on my chest.
It seemed that Megumin had caught on as well–
“That won’t do! Ah, what kind of attitude was that? To think you would show such disgraceful behavior toward the followers of Lalatina ojou-sama!”
As Megumin said that, she let out her anger by poking the end of her staff at the commander’s face.
“Hurry up and apologize! Toward us who you were planning to attack a second ago, please say ‘I’m very sorry!’!”
As Megumin poked his face, Aqua–who’d been uninvolved until just now–began to restlessly shake the commander’s shoulders. Although the commander seemed to be at his wit’s end, he closed his eyes as if to declare his intention to surrender. All he could do was lower his head toward Darkness.
“S-Sorry, I’m very sorry. For such insolence toward Lady Dustiness and her subordinates, the punishment should be suicide by sword… But, um…”
As if I was his trusted companion, I put my hand on the choking commander’s shoulder.
“No no, we won’t ask for so much, after all, you were just doing your jobs. Anyhow, we’re tired after a long day’s trek, so we won’t ask too much of you. That said, could you prepare an accommodation that we can use during our time here?”
“Of course! We’ll provide Lady Dustiness and her followers the best rooms available here!”
Darkness could only wordlessly lower her head toward the captain who remained in his bowing position.