Overcoming that past
Editing: Ulti, LordVTP, Xenthur
“So that’s what happened. It was really horrible.”
I gestured as I conveyed the events of two weeks ago to my companions. Well, I might have exaggerated and left out certain bits, but it’s mostly accurate.
That said, they’ve just been staring at me in silence since I started. Hey, come on, at least react a little.
“And then they threw me into the cells for two weeks. They made me work for free and gave me that sort of horrible treatment afterwards.”
I’ve concluded my story, but Lynn, Taylor and Keith didn’t even react at all. It’s almost like I’m not even here.
“The bugs sure are noisy this morning. Anyway, what time do we head out, Keith?”
“Yeah, they’re making a buzz alright. And it’s about ten minutes from now. He should be arriving any moment.”
“He’s a responsible person. I’m sure he’ll be punctual.”
They’re completely ignoring me to talk amongst themselves. Yeah, I’m sorry for dropping out of contact for two weeks, but it’s not like I wanted that to happen. You guys don’t need to get that angry.
I thought it would work out since Lynn knew about it, but was I too naive?
“Hey, it’s pretty hurtful to ignore me like this, you know? If you guys can’t hear me, I’m going to start talking about some really obscene stuff! … So, what’s the quest?”
Nobody answered my question. T-These guys…
“Oh, it can’t be helped if you can’t see me. That means that I can do anything, right? Then let’s start with that pitiful chest—-”
With a dull thud, a dagger slammed into the table, just inches from my hand.
Needless to say, the one who did that was Lynn. She was looking at me like she was looking at some kind of gross insect.
That dagger is the same one she threatened me with when I tried to do something to her in the stables, isn’t it?
“O-Oh, sorry, Lynn. Please forgive me.”
I placed my head on the table and begged for forgiveness, but their only reply was “Why don’t you go borrow from that guy if you don’t have enough money?”
“Sorry to keep you waiting, everyone! Oh, who’s this?”
A man appeared at the table with a bright smile on his face. I’ve never seen this guy before.
He’s wearing leather armour and has a longsword strapped to his back. He looks like a warrior type.
“This is just a blood sucking insect, there’s no need to worry about him. We’ll be in your care for today.”
“I’m counting on you.”
“Don’t worry too much, just follow our instructions and it’ll be fine.”
“Yes, I’ll be in your care too!”
Why are they acting so close with that guy? They are treating this man with a naive-looking face as a companion… Wait, don’t tell me…
“Wait, don’t tell me he…”
“This guy is the guy we had filling in for you after you vanished for two weeks.”
Why does it seem like only my bad premonitions end up coming true?
“Dammit, they actually locked me up for two weeks. Not only did I lose the reward from the succubi, but I actually ended up worse than when I started. Nothing good came out of that.”
Leaning into the chair next to the window, I sighed.
“There are people who are happily earning money, and then there are people like me who end up falling deeper into debt no matter how hard they work. This world is so unfair. God dammit.”
My grumblings echoed throughout the store, but no one responded.
Even though both Sir Vanir and Yunyun are here.
Sir seems to be occupied with organizing his store, but Yunyun was just busy building a house of cards by herself.
She’s been glancing at me since a while ago as if she was signalling to me to join her in a game of cards, but it seems like she’s gotten sulky after I ignored her.
“Ah, I really have the worst luck. Is there a kind and generous friend who’d be willing to lend some money to such an unfortunate man?”
“Don’t think that I’ll do anything you say just because you used the word friend.”
“If you aren’t buying anything, please leave. Moi still needs to find a way to deal with this new batch of defective goods that the inept shop owner brought in.”
“Sir, shitty brat, come on, at least show me a little kindness.”
Sir Vanir continued busying himself with his store, and Yunyun concentrated on the highest level of her house of cards.
My companions all left me behind and went on an adventure by themselves. Just who can I spend my time with?
“There’s no need to show any kindness to a man who would call others a shitty brat.”
In response, I grabbed the table and started shaking it.
“P-Please stop! This is about to become my best house of cards yet.”
“You wanted me to play with you, right? Very well, how about we start with collapsing this house of cards? I’ll go first.”
“Ahh! This is why you’re so disliked!”
Yunyun screamed as she desperately tried to steady the table. At that moment, Sir Vanir slammed a square box on top of it with a loud smack.
“AAAAAH! My house of cards!”
“Oh, so you were here, she who has reached the zenith of loners. Hey, delinquent adventurer, I’ll give you a magic item free of charge if you’ll take this girl and leave.”
“Oh, you’re giving it to me for free? Thanks, as long as it isn’t an Axis Cult recruitment form, I’ll gladly accept it.”
I carefully studied the small box that Sir left on the table, but I had no idea of what it is.
“Sir, what kind of magic item is this box?”
“It’s an item that resolves the toilet issues that adventurers face on their journeys. It’s a portable toilet that is shrunken through magic. Simply opening the box will activate it. It also provides running water and ambient music to cover the noise of doing business. It’s a wonderful item that even women will be able to use without worries.”
“Oh, this is a pretty good item! I won’t return it even if you ask me to!”
I don’t know what came over Sir, but this will be worth quite a bit of money. Female adventurers like Lynn face a lot of issues with attending to business in the wilds, after all.
“I wouldn’t say something that petty, though there may be a small problem with it. The sound that it generates is a little loud, loud enough to attract monsters. Furthermore, it can create water, but the water it conjures cannot be controlled, so the surroundings will be flooded when it’s used.”
“So it’s just a defective product… Yeah, I don’t need it.”
“Hmm, Moi wanted to foist it on you since it couldn’t be returned. Then, what about this?”
Sir picked up the box and replaced it with a large orb.
It’s transparent, and little sparkles can be seen dancing within it.
“Sir, what’s this?”
“It’s a sphere that holds a powerful lightning spell inside. It’s powerful enough to harm even extremely strong magical creatures.”
“True, I do feel a very strong magic from it.”
Having recovered, Yunyun regarded the ball with an impressed gaze. I suppose I can trust the word of a Crimson Demon. Still… something feels off about this.
“And it’s downsides?”
“You’re surprisingly cautious for once. Well, it can only be activated by holding it in both hands, and the lightning isn’t fired in front of it, but drops right to the ground. That’s all.”
“So it can only be used in a suicide attack… I think I’ll pass on this, Sir.”
After returning the ball to Sir, he heaved a deep sigh.
“So you don’t need it, huh. Moi thought that this’d be a good chance to get rid of a few of the unsellable items that the useless storekeeper bought, but that doesn’t seem to be working very well. Bah, no matter, you can come pick it up whenever you want. I’ll provide one to you free of charge.”
To be able to reduce the confident and teasing Sir to such low spirits, the storekeeper must sure be something.
“Nevermind that, listen to this, Sir! My party ignored me and ran off on an adventure with a temporary member! Can you believe that?!”
“So they finally lost their patience for you. You reap what you sow. It’s only natural for a human to react this way.”
“Yeah. Actually, I’m surprised that they were able to put up with you for so long.”
Even Sir and Yunyun are siding with my companions.
“Aren’t friends supposed to stick together through thick and thin? Helping me out when I get into debts, and treating me when they strike it rich, isn’t that what humans should do?”
“You’re the only one who benefits from that. As a devil, Moi might not be the best person to say this, but don’t you think you are a little lacking in humanity?”
“Dust-san talking about how humans should live… It’s less convincing than Megumin declaring that she wouldn’t use Explosion today. Friends are very important, you know!?”
Nevermind not taking my side, Yunyun even started getting ahead of herself and lecturing me with all kinds of nonsense.
It’s like how I get lectured by Lynn and Taylor whenever I run into them. Every single one of you is way too serious.
You’ll just end up wasting your life away by being an inflexible hard head who works themselves to death…
“What’s wrong? Why did you become silent? That kind of listless expression doesn’t suit you.”
“Ah, he does look serious for once.”
“Leave me alone. Tsk, how irritating. I’ll be leaving now.”
A bit of my past came to mind again. I should leave before they start asking questions.
I left my seat and went to the door.
“Delinquent adventurer who’s still haunted by his past, allow the devil who sees all to give you a bit of advice. Don’t let your guard down.”
“A-ah, I don’t really get it, but thanks for the warning, Sir.”
I offered a word of thanks to Sir before leaving the magic item store.
“Did Sir pick up on that? And here I thought I already buried it…”
Sigh… It really isn’t like me to fuss so much over things.
Nevermind the past, what matters now is the present. I need to think about how to get through today.
“I guess there’s no choice but to go make money.”
That means I need to go to the adventurer’s guild and find a good quest.
“What a drag.”
After spending two weeks lazing around and waiting for food to be served, doing anything right now feels like a chore.
Bah, now’s not the time to be saying that. Time to make my way to the guild.
When I boldly stepped into the adventurer’s guild, I could feel the gaze of everyone focusing on me.
All the adventurers in the tavern are looking at me with a shocked expression.
“Hey, come on, why is everyone looking so glum? The great Dust-sama has decided to grace you all with his presence, you know?”
It’s been some time since I came here. I boldly strutted towards the counter.
I overheard a few whispered phrases when I passed by a table with a few adventurers I was familiar with, and deliberately slowed my pace down in order to listen in.
“Hey, Dust’s in one piece.”
“Who the hell said that Dust caught some strange disease and ended up hospitalized?”
“I heard that he got arrested by Prosecutor Sena after he tried to cop a feel on her and got sentenced to a year in prison.”
“Eh? Didn’t he run away in fear after angering Mitsurugi-san? That was what you said before, right?”
“I mean, there’s no way he’d be quiet for two weeks of his own volition, right? All Lynn and the others would say is suggestive things like they don’t want to get involved.”
I came to a complete stop.
So that’s why they were giving me those looks earlier!
“Hey, assholes, don’t just make up strange rumours! I’m perfectly fine!”
I shouted in a voice loud enough to echo around the guild, and they sunk into silence.
“Tsk… If you’re that afraid of pissing me off, then don’t spread strange rumours about me behind my back.”
“Ah, dammit, Dust’s perfectly healthy!”
“And the guild’s been so peaceful these past few days!”
“I had ten thousand Eris riding on Dust not showing up for a month! God dammit!”
The guild suddenly filled with grumblings and shouts.
“You guys were betting on me? You should’ve told me in advance! I would’ve played along for a cut!”
“It really becomes lively whenever you’re around, Dust-san. It has been awhile.”
Luna greeted me with a wry smile as she sat behind the counter.
Her assets are as marvelous as usual. My eyes were irresistibly drawn towards them.
“Oh, they sure are wobbling today.”
“Do you want to be banished from the guild?”
She smoothly replied without her smile fading in the slightest. Yeah, she hasn’t lost her touch.
After dealing with adventurers day in and day out, a little bit of flirting doesn’t phase her at all.
“The guild will suffer a great loss without me, you know?”
“Is that so? We’ve been operating perfectly fine for the past two weeks without you around.”
Hey, aren’t her retorts harsher than usual? She’s smiling, but it feels like they are stinging a lot more today. Though, I don’t recall doing anything to make Luna angry.
“I-I see. Are there any easy quests today?”
I think it’s best to change the topic. After recent events, I’m very well aware of just how scary women can be when angered.
“Hmm, well, spring just broke, so there are a few quests, but… Taylor-san and the others already set out with their temporary member, you know?”
Don’t tilt your head and put your finger on your cheek. You’re long past the age where that kind of stuff is cute… That’s what I wanted to say, but I choked those words back.
If I say anything more, nevermind getting banished from the guild, there’s a decent chance that even my adventurer’s card would get taken away.
“It’d be pretty difficult to go solo, you know? Though, there is an Archmage who’s been making some waves by taking on quests alone recently.”
“Huh, it’s rare to see a mage hack it on their own. Kazuma’s explosion maniac definitely won’t be able to do that.”
“Yes. Normally they would party up with a vanguard and cast magic from the rear.”
To be able to handle quests on their own means that they must be skilled. I’m a little interested in who they might be… Hmm? A mage that works alone… that kind of reminds me of someone…
I’m a little curious, but right now I need money. Now is not the time to be concerned about other people.
“It’s still some time before the cabbage harvest, so that just leaves the giant toads… The giant toads that were hibernating were woken up by the sound of Explosions in winter, so there probably aren’t any of them left right now… There haven’t been any requests for their extermination either.”
“Come to think of it, there was an idiot who was making a din the night I was locked up with Kazuma.”
It seems like there was quite a ruckus back then, but I was pretty soundly asleep, so I don’t remember much.
The culprit behind that incident was soon identified… well, I say that, but there really only is one suspect behind that incident.
The only two people who can use Explosion in this town are Kazuma’s crazy girl and that eternally broke shopkeeper. And it’s pretty obvious which one of them would do that kind of thoughtless thing.
“So, the only quests left are a few odd jobs in town. But, well… we can’t really entrust odd jobs to you, Dust-san.”
Luna avoided looking at me and started fiddling with her fingers… She’s hiding something.
“Normally, I wouldn’t accept such boring work, but I do need to eat. I’ll gladly accept any easy quests that you might have right now.”
“You still want an easy quest? Beggars can’t be choosers, you know? Rather than that… I think it’d be better to just say it. All the requesters told me not to let you accept their quests.”
“Huh? What’s up with that?”
“In short, it’s just the natural result of your daily behaviour. Everyone’s wary of you after seeing you cause nothing but problems in town every day.”
“Hey, what the hell does that mean? What have I done?”
All I did was raise a little ruckus after getting drunk. There’s no need to make such a big deal out of that.
It’s something that anyone would’ve done. I really want to find the people who spread those kinds of rumours about me and wring some beer money out of them as recompense for the psychological damage I suffered.
“What did you do? Well, let me just read out the list of complaints about you, Dust-san. Peeking at women in the bath, frequent dining and dashing, resisting arrest, property damage, fraud, fighting in the streets, outrage of modesty… There’s still more, do you want me to continue?”
“Lets just leave it at that for today.”
I didn’t think it was a good idea to continue staying here, so I hurriedly left the guild.
Still, it’s really troubling that I can’t accept any quests from the guild. This is all because of Lynn and the others leaving me alone to go on an adventure! They better remember this when they get back. I’ll take away all the money they get from the quest!
“Ah, I’m hungry.”
My stomach has been grumbling for some time now.
I’ll have to find some place to give me free food or loan me money; otherwise, even if I make it through today, it’ll be tough to make it through tomorrow.
“Money huh… Speaking of that, don’t I have a good friend who has no issues with money?”
He had been struggling with even greater debts than I am, but after getting the money from defeating the Demon King’s General, he’s been living it up!
“I should go look Kazuma up. If I tell him that there’s a store with scantily clad female waitresses, he’ll happily visit it with me. Then, with a little flattery… Friends are a great thing to have, aren’t they?”
And, even if he refuses, I can still team up with him on an adventure. I can’t handle those three on my own, but there wouldn’t be an issue if Kazuma’s around.
Kazuma’s the only one who can handle those three girls.
Of course, I don’t intend to just take from him. I’ll lend him a hand if he gets in trouble, and I’ll definitely return the money once I get rich. Though it’s up to fate if I get rich or not.
“Still, Kazuma’s really doing well for himself. Before I knew it, he got himself a mansion and is living together with three beauties. Normally I’d be jealous beyond words, but, living with those three… I wonder how he’s holding up.”
A wine and party loving Archpriest of the Axis Cult.
An Archmage with nothing but Explosions on her mind.
A masochistic Crusader who can’t land any of her attacks.
… Yeah, there’s nothing to be envious about.
“Oh, I’m here. It’s a splendid looking mansion as always. Kazuma! Are you in!?”
I loudly called on the doorstep, but no one came out. Even after repeating myself three times, there was no response at all. Is everyone out?
“Seriously? Is nobody at home? Crap, what do I do now?”
It really changes things if my lifeline isn’t here.
Do I really have no choice but to beg Lynn and the others? Going back to them after saying all that is quite difficult. Even I have my pride, you know?
After weighing my pride and money against each other… money ended up winning slightly.
“I guess I’ll apologize when they come back.”
I was in the wrong too. I should act like a man and properly apologize.
Kazuma and my companions should be back by tomorrow. I’ll just have to secure a place to sleep and find some food for today.
I went down the back alleys searching for some thugs I could beat up for some money, but, today of all days, I didn’t manage to run across anyone.
“Today just isn’t my day. The public order in this town is way too good.”
Axel is pretty peaceful compared to other places. There are a lot of surprisingly strong people like Sir Vanir and that old man running the stores, and the citizens here are a little more unique compared to the ones in other cities.
Even the adventurers are a quirky bunch… This really is a town you can never get bored of.
“I probably shouldn’t have come here.”
Now’s not the time to let such petty matters get in the way of our friendship. I should hurry up after them and apologize.
Just when I was thinking about returning to the guild and asking about where they went, I heard a voice coming from behind me.
“Dust-san? Is something wrong?”
I turned around and saw Loli Succubus, dressed in that village girl outfit, peeking around the corner.
Did I wander over to the succubus store out of habit?
“Ah, did you come to complain about the one week of free service? Devils put a very high value on contracts, so once a contract is made, it cannot be altered no matter what happens.”
I had no idea I’d end up in the cells for two weeks when I made that deal. I can’t possibly ask them to give me the week of free service now… no, actually, I really want to say that.
But a contract with a devil is absolute. I guess I should just accept it.
“I wouldn’t say such petty things.”
Plus, I need to go search for Lynn right now. They are my friends who are partying with me, after all. Obviously they’d be more important. The present is more important than the past.
“Is that so? That doesn’t sound like you, Dust-san. Aren’t you supposed to be overflowing with desires? What happened?”
“Nothing happened. I’m just busy right now. If there’s nothing else, I’ll be leaving.”
The longer I wait, the further away Lynn and the others will get.
“Is that so? Then, I’ll get straight to the point. We are really sorry that your reward for helping us ended up getting voided, so, as compensation, we’re discussing closing the store today and giving you our fullest attentions, but, if you are busy…”
“Who said I was busy?”
“Eh? Didn’t you just say-”
“It’s just your imagination! Hurry up and tell me the details!”
The matter with Lynn still bothers me, but that can wait until they come back. It’s not like they are in immediate danger or anything. Right now, this is more important.
“Are you sure? You seemed to be in a hurry.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ve got free time in spades.”
There might never be another such chance. As if I could let it slip by.
I’m sure my friends will understand. I’m sure of it…
“Then, please come over to our store tonight. We’ll be preparing a meal for you, so please try not to eat dinner before heading over.”
“Roger that, I’ll be looking forward to it.”
Looks like this day just went from the worst to the best.
With this, my food issues are taken care off. All that’s left is wait for night to fall. Receiving the fullest attentions of the succubi, ah, I can’t wait!
Night service will be included, right? Dreams are fun and all, but if I’m surrounded by those sexy onee-chans in reality too… Dammit, hurry up and become night already.
“So-…-did it go?”
Did I just hear the voice of a man just now?
I looked around and found myself in an unfamiliar place. Seems like I wandered deep into the back alleys after getting consumed by my imaginations.
“Yes… Seems like he managed to get in.”
And that’s a different man than before. Seems like it’s coming from around that corner.
Ah well, I have nothing to do until night anyways. I can probably observe them to kill some time. I’m really lucky today. If I end up learning of some way to make a load of cash, I’d really be cheering to the heavens.
I quieted my footsteps and crept closer to the source of the voice. Noiselessly drawing my sword, I used it’s reflection to peek around the corner.
There are two suspicious looking bastards standing there. Judging from their looks, they can’t be up to anything good. This entire thing reeks of criminal activity.
“Still, what’s wrong with this town? Wasn’t this supposed to be a town of newbie adventurers?”
“That’s what I’ve heard, but this place is just full of weirdos. Things just don’t work out for us.”
“Are they really newbies?”
Thanks to the succubus store, a lot of journeyman and veteran adventurers continue to stay in this town. Well, it’s not like I don’t understand their feelings.
Still, I feel like I’ve heard this voice somewhere before.
“Yeah, the kidnapping fell through. I still can’t believe the lady of a noble family could be that sort of person… I wouldn’t want to get involved with her even with all that money at stake.”
“Someone got in the way too. Even if he didn’t appear, I already lost all motivation to go through with it after seeing how she acts.”
Hey, aren’t these guys the idiots who tried to kidnap Darkness?
Sena said something about a criminal organization infiltrating this town, didn’t she?
I think it’d be best not to get involved for now. They know my face, after all. One of these days I’ll have to grab my friends and go smash their hideout and grab all their loot, but right now I’m alone.
Plus there’s absolutely no way I can miss tonight’s events. There’s no reason for me to stick my neck into this… Though, I suppose I should inform the police about this.
Just as I was preparing to creep away from the place-
“Her name was Lynn, right? That loli-faced girl in that party he infiltrated.”
What did he just say? Did I mishear it, or did he mention Lynn?
“Yeah, that girl with the pretty face is Lynn. It’s a party of two men and a girl. One of their party members was indisposed, so he was easily accepted into the party.”
“He looks like a proper good guy after all, so it’s easy for him to gain the trust of others. Just drug the men and strip them. I don’t really care what you do to the guys, but be gentle with the girl. That loli face of hers is very valuable.”
“If only she was a little younger. Still, looking younger than her actual age is worth quite a lot of points.”
“Having a younger-looking body is more exciting, but I won’t ask for too much. Personally, I prefer a girl who’s hundreds of years old but still looks like a child.”
“A loli hag? Really? Personally, I don’t think it counts as a loli unless her personality and mental state lines up with each other.”
“That’s why you’re uncultured. The definition of a loli isn’t fixed, you know? You should broaden your mind to the possibilities of loli. Do you know what gap moe is?
“Gap moe? It has a really good ring to it, but what does it mean?”
I wasn’t able to clearly hear the conversation, but, isn’t this a bit weird? They were talking about kidnapping and stuff awhile ago, right?
It sounds like they regard Lynn quite highly. It’s certainly something I wouldn’t expect to hear from the mouth of criminals.
“If it wasn’t the request of a valued client, I wouldn’t hand her over, but we can’t live without money.”
“Yeah, boss, but we can properly entertain her before we reach the drop off point. It’s like our mission of sorts, after all. Anyway, isn’t it about time to head to the rendezvous point? The others went on ahead of us, but we still need to make some preparations for the ambush.”
Right, there’s no longer any reason for me to let them be.
Taylor and the others really are idiots. That’s why I keep saying that if they look handsome, they must definitely be up to no good.
There’s some strange things mixed in there, but they are unmistakably planning a kidnapping. Now that my friends are in danger, there’s no longer any reason for me to hold back.
“Yeah, it wouldn’t do to be late.”
“Hey, wait up.”
The man who was being called boss earlier turned around at the sound of my voice, and I slammed a fist right into his face.
The other man was slow to react to this development, and I kicked him right in the gut.
Yeah, this is how a sneak attack should go.
Now then, leaving aside the guy who’s foaming at the mouth for the moment, I need to tie up the guy who seems in charge first. In place of a rope, I used the belt of the guy who seemed to be the underling.
Right, now he won’t be able to run away. If I have to tie someone up, it’d be better if it was a woman… Lets leave that aside for now. Time to pump him for the details.
“Wake up already. Hey!”
I lightly kicked the guy in the gut, and he sat up with a gasp.
“Did you have some sweet dreams?”
“What are you doing? What do you want?”
“Can’t you tell? Hurry up and cough up your valuables.”
The henchman really doesn’t have much in his wallet. The only other thing that’s worth money would be that dagger. Tsk, how poor can you get? At this point, I might as well strip the clothes from their back and sell them.
“Taking my clothes too? Are you even human?”
The boss seemed to be saying something, but I ignored it.
Right, now that I’ve gotten what I want, I smashed a glass bottle I found rolling around the back alley on the floor.
Oh, I’ll be taking those shoes too. Now even if they run away, I’ll be able to catch up easily. That’s if they have the guts to run barefoot across broken glass.
“You guys really should learn to save money…. No wait, that’s not it. Tell me more about what you were talking about earlier.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about… Why would you want to know anyway? It has nothing to do with you.”
So you’re playing dumb, huh? What a drag.
There’s plenty of ways to make people spill the beans, but time is of the essence, so let’s use the most direct method.
“The people you were planning to ambush sounded like my party members, so unfortunately for you, I can’t just let it go.”
“Wait, you’re talking about that? Not the loli discussion?”
The boss’s face paled. He probably just pegged me to be some random adventurer with a strong sense of justice. No one would expect me to be that closely involved.
“Right, now answer my questions. If you lie to me or try anything funny…”
“Tsk, you’re not going to say that you’ll beat me up, right? An adventurer wouldn’t lay a hand on a defenseless opponent, right?”
“I wouldn’t do something so barbaric. Though… we could have some fun times with you and that naked underling of yours.”
Judging from the way his jaw dropped, it doesn’t seem like he was expecting my response.
“Why don’t we start with a passionate kiss between the two of you? Then we’ll rub your face into his crotch.”
“Hey, stop! Y-You’re joking, right?”
“Whether it’s a joke or not is up to you.”
There’s no need to use violence when there’s a peaceful way of getting what I want.
With a bright smile, I dragged the naked underling over.
As I lifted him from behind, I met the gaze of the boss who was desperately shaking his head with tears in his eyes.
“This warmth is… This warmth is…”
“You’re pretty stubborn, aren’t you? I didn’t expect you to hold out this far.”
After extracting all the details for him, I wrapped him up together with the underling to show my appreciation.
I hope it doesn’t awaken something strange in you.
Still, to think there’s an organization that kidnaps people in Axel. This is my territory. There’s no need for me to go easy on outsiders.
“Still, I messed up.”
The boss doesn’t know where the rendezvous point is. The one who knew that is the henchman, and he’s completely out of it. No matter what I do, he won’t wake up.
But, there’s a way to learn where they are headed.
I remembered that the Succubus shop was close by. It’s a little out of the way, but I decided to pay it a visit. There’s still some time before nightfall, but I opened the door without reservation.
“Sorry, we’re closed for today… Eh? What are you doing here, Dust-san? We aren’t done preparing yet.”
The only one in the store is a tired looking Loli Succubus.
“I guess you’ll do. There are a couple of men tied up in the back alley. Go tell the police about them. They were the ones who tried to kidnap Darkness some time ago. I’ll be a bit busy from now on, so I’ll leave it in your hands.”
“Eh? Did you do that? What’s the matter? Normally, you’d be boasting about it while proclaiming your dislike for the police.”
“I don’t have time for that. Please handle the rest.”
“W-wait, just what is-”
Without listening to her reply, I headed over to my next destination.
I need to find out where my friends went from the guild.
Without taking any breaks, I ran back to the guild at full pelt.
Just like that, I ran up to Luna who was sitting behind the counter.
“You sure are back early. Did you find someone to party up with?”
“Nevermind that, tell me about the quest that Lynn and the others accepted!”
I don’t have the time to spare on small talk. If I don’t find out where they are and rush over, there’s a chance I wouldn’t make it in time.
“W-What’s wrong? Calm down.”
“Just tell me!”
“Err, Lynn said that you might meddle in their quest out of jealousy, so she told me not to tell you any details.”
“That idiot! Why does she always concern herself with such unnecessary things? I’m begging you, it’s an emergency!”
I clasped my hands together and lowered my head, but Luna seemed too taken aback to answer me.
Trust is the most important thing to guilds. I understand why it might be difficult for Luna to tell me that information. But this is an emergency.
Do I have no choice but to tell the entire story?
“Please tell me the reason you need that information. Otherwise, I won’t be able to reveal that information to you.”
“You know that new guy they teamed up with, right? He’s part of the criminal organization that came into town recently.”
“It… doesn’t seem like you are joking. Please tell me the details.”
After seeing how serious I am, Luna calmed down and looked directly at me.
As expected of a person who’s dealt with plenty of adventurers. She could tell the severity of the situation immediately.
“Hold on a minute. I’m interested in your story too.”
Sena suddenly appeared from behind the counter, adjusting her glasses as she joined the conversation.
“Why is Sena here?”
“I had some business with Luna. Leaving that aside, that criminal organization you were talking about, could it be-?”
“Yeah, we talked about it before, didn’t we?”
“Ah, from back then…”
Seems like she’s remembering the way she was dressed in their store, if her blush is anything to go by.
Usually I would tease her about it, but I’ll pass on that today.
Guess I should tell them about the guys I tied up. It would make it sound more convincing to Sena.
“This is not something we should be discussing here. Luna, can we borrow one of the rooms at the back for a bit?”
“Yes, go ahead. I’ll be joining you.”
As Luna stood up and started moving to the back, I heard a voice calling my name from behind.
“Ah, there you are! Mou, Dust-san! I won’t know where it is if you just tell me ‘the back alley.’ You need to give me more specific directions.”
Turning around, I saw an angry looking Loli Succubus glaring at me through furrowed brows.
“So, basically, the people who once tried to kidnap Darkness have now infiltrated Dust-san’s party. They are planning to ambush them when they are out of the city, rob them and sell Lynn-san to a nobleman. Human trafficking, huh…”
Sena summarized after hearing my explanation.
This room was originally meant for clients to hash things out. In this narrow room, Sena, Luna, and I, and for some reason, Loli Succubus, are currently inside.
“I can’t turn a blind eye after hearing that. Very well, I’ll tell you where they are headed. They’ve accepted a quest to take out a goblin nest that recently sprung up close to Keele’s dungeon. It’s about half a day’s journey from here.”
Keele’s dungeon is that place that newbie adventurers often use as training for dungeon delving. I’ve gone through it many times as well.
It takes about half a day to reach the mountains, and from there you need to follow the animal trails that lead further in to reach the dungeon itself.
“If you leave now, it’d be night by the time you reach the mountains. Heading up the mountain paths at night would be way too dangerous, so you’d have to make camp there and wait till morning before heading deeper in.”
“Yeah, that’s basic knowledge for an adventurer. It’s also written in the manual.”
The manual that Luna mentioned is the guidebook they have in this guild that’s meant for newbie adventurers. It contains detailed explanations and advice that newbie adventurers would find useful.
Most adventurers would’ve gone through it at least once, but I don’t recall ever reading it.
“But the best time to attack Dust’s party would be when they set camp for the night. Especially if they make a move when it’s the infiltrator’s turn to keep watch…. ”
“They’ll be easily taken care of.”
I continued after Sena trailed off. The logic is sound. If I were in their shoes, that’d be the plan I would go with as well.
“It’s been quite some time since they left. Even if we rush after them now, it’s doubtful that we’ll be able to catch up with them.”
“According to the reports I’ve received, there are at least ten of them. Charging in to face them alone would be reckless.”
There’s no need for Sena to tell me that. Plus, there’s a high chance that there’s at least one member in their group who’s extremely skilled. I felt his gaze on me during Darkness’ attempted kidnapping. I know from experience that anyone capable of directing that much killing intent must be pretty strong.
Right, we’ll have to recruit the other adventurers. In such an emergency, I’m sure the guild will cooperate as well.
“Luna, is anyone looking for work right now?”
“Well, about that, most of the adventurers used up their money over the winter, so they are out of the city right now…”
“Dammit. Isn’t there anyone left behind? There’s got to be a few people lazing around, right?”
“The people who’re out on jobs will probably gather around here by evening…”
We definitely won’t make it if we wait till then.
I took a look around the guild earlier, but Yunyun just had to be out at this critical time. Even though her only good point is being an awesome mage.
“The police can’t send people out based off unverified information. I’m sorry.”
Sena bowed and apologized. What an uptight person. The two people I captured are keeping silent, so they only have my testimony to go off on. After having been in their care for so many times, even if Sena believes me, the other members of the police force won’t take me on my word.
“Oh, fine, I’ll chase after them on my own. If I can catch up with them before they are attacked, I’ll be able to do something. But I’ll need some transport. Do you have a horse or a carriage or something?”
Even if I run flat out, there’d be no way I’ll be able to catch up with them on foot.
And there isn’t a path wide enough for a carriage to run through… in the worst case scenario, I’ll have to steal a horse and ride after them. Adding one or two more crimes to my list isn’t really going to bother me too much at this point.
“Hold on a moment, I think I might have something.”
Loli Succubus, who had stayed silent ever since setting foot into this room, clapped her hands together and said.
If it’s an acquaintance of a succubus, could it be possible to get the aid of a high ranked devil?
Could she be referring to Sir Vanir? Sir is a little fickle, so maybe it’d be more effective if a devil would make a request of him. In that case, I’ll leave it to her.
I’m a little uneasy to be accepting the aid of Sir Vanir, but now’s not the time to be worried about that. If it’s something that’ll aid me, I’ll gladly make use of it.
“Why is it this guy?”
After agreeing to meet at the gates, I went around collecting the items I would need for the journey from the general store and the magic item shop, but why the hell is this guy waiting for me at the gates?
I saw Loli Succubus talking with Sir Vanir when I visited the magic item shop, so I thought she was enlisting his aid, but was I mistaken?
“It’s been some time, Dust-san.”
I’m familiar with this muffled voice.
Or, rather, the impression left by that helmet is way too strong. This is the guy who had the item to circumvent that lie detecting magic item. The helmeted bastard.
“You know, what I wanted was someone who could help in combat. What would I do with the young master of some noble family?”
“Don’t worry, I’ve been trained in the knightly ways since I was a boy. I’m quite confident in my abilities with a spear.”
Seeing him wave his spear around, it does seem like he has some skill with it.
A noble who’s good with a spear, huh.
“Is something wrong, Dust-san?”
Hey, don’t bring your face that close to me.
Even if I’m not attracted to you, I’d still be surprised if you suddenly move so close to me.
“It’s nothing. At this point in time, increasing our combat potential by even one person is a good thing.”
If worst comes to worst, we can reveal his identity as a nobleman to them and they’ll be more inclined to keep him as a hostage than kill him outright.
“Helmet-san quickly agreed to help after I told him about the pinch you were in. His family even prepared horses for you.”
“Is it those two horses over there?”
Their manes are glossy, their muscles are well developed, and there don’t seem to be any problems with their temperament. Seems like they are raised pretty well. As expected of a nobleman.
“These are two of the horses that my family is taking care of. Do you know how to ride a horse, Dust-san? You can ride behind me if you don’t…”
“Nah, there won’t be any issues with simply riding one.”
It’s been some time since I’ve ridden a horse, but it’s not something you easily forget.
“Still, I’m surprised you could contact him so quickly. Do you know where he lives?”
“Ah, err, he just happened to be close by, so I coincidentally ran into him by accident.”
“It’s a coincidence.”
If it’s a coincidence, why are you two averting your gaze?
Was he doing something embarrassing? Well, he is a frequent customer of the shop despite being a noble. Maybe he was planning on peeking into the women’s baths before Loli Succubus ran into him.
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.”
I patted him on the back in sympathy, and felt a strange gaze from behind that helmet.
His breathing is as noisy as ever.
“Yeah, I’ll do my best to make sure no one finds out.”
You’re getting way too worked up about peeking. Don’t get excited and bring your face so close to me. Your panting is annoying.
“Hey, why are you looking at me like that?”
Loli Succubus silently mouthed ‘oh dear’ and put her hand on her forehead.
Is it because I was encouraging criminal actions? Peeping is a man’s romance… though, when I said that to the police, they just threw me into the cells.
“Ah, anyway, let’s leave the small talk here. There’s no problem with leaving right away, yes?”
“We can set off at any time.”
Seems like he’s motivated, at least.
I clambered onto my horse, and the helmeted bastard was already up on his horse by the time I got into the saddle.
“I’ll be praying for my regular customers to return safely.”
Loli Succubus said as she waved to us from near the gate.
Purposefully mentioning the phrase regular customers, she has the soul of a salesman alright.
“Huh? You’re coming along too.”
I grabbed her waving hand and pulled her up without waiting for an answer.
After securing her in front of me, I set off.
Those guys seem to prefer younger women. You’d be perfect as bait.
“Ah, the wind feels good… Oh, there’s a really cute bird over there.”
Loli Succubus happily said as she watched the scenery flow past on horseback.
She was grumbling about it at first, but now she seems really into it.
“That horned rabbit is really cute! The way it hops around is cute too. I really wish I could keep one at the shop.”
“That’s a One Strike Rabbit. It uses those cute movements to lure people like you to let their guard down before stabbing them with its horn.”
It’s a monster, after all. By the way, it’s carnivorous.
I felt someone staring at me from behind, and turned around to meet the gaze of the helmeted bastard… I think. I can’t actually see his eyes behind that helmet, but I’ve definitely felt his gaze fixed on me for quite some time.
Yeah, come to think of it, he really helped me a lot in this case. It’s a little late to ask, but why? Lending horses his family owns and agreeing to chase down criminals with me just because we happen to frequent the same store is a little far fetched, isn’t it?
This is the same gaze I felt when we first met. Is there a reason for this?
Let me think about everything that’s happened… Oh, I get it now. He has his eyes set on Loli Succubus! How could I have missed this? That’s why he’s shooting me looks of jealousy.
The reason he readily agreed to help me is because his crush, Loli Succubus, requested him to. It all makes sense if I think of it that way.
Come to think of it, he didn’t even pay attention to the other Succubi in the store. He only gazed upon Loli Succubus who was right besides me. Yeah, I get it now.
“Well, she’s a succubus, after all.”
“Eh? Did you say something?”
She might both look and sound like a kid, but she still is a succubus. Still, is that really okay?
Ah, well, it’s not like I really want to comment on the tastes of others.
“Um, I’ll get embarrassed if you stare at me like that.”
What’s there to be embarrassed about? She wears much more revealing clothing while working at the store. Compared to that, she might as well be dressed like a nun right now. I really don’t get what’s her criteria for being embarrassed is.
“Dust-san, are we on the right path?”
The helmeted bastard called out after catching up to me.
Yeah, I knew it. He’s jealous of me spending so much time talking with Loli Succubus and came to interrupt.
It probably seemed like Loli Succubus and I were hitting it off really well. Yeah, he really does like her.
Well, he did help me a lot back then and right now too. I suppose I can give him some support.
“Yeah, this is the right path. Oh, this horse seems to be getting tired. Maybe it’s because he’s supporting two riders? Think you can let her ride on your horse for awhile?”
“I’m not that heavy!”
It’s really annoying how sensitive women are about their weight and age.
I’m helping you fulfil the desires of a regular customer of yours. Stop arguing and just play along.
“Her? If possible, I’d rather have you…”
“Huh, what was that? I couldn’t catch that.”
I couldn’t hear him clearly over the wind, but he doesn’t seem that into it. I thought he would’ve been pretty elated over that. Is he hesitating because he isn’t used to matters of romance?
I should give him more help in the future. As long as it doesn’t require me to cough up money, I’ll give him my best help. Who knows, if they end up together, they might remember my efforts and treat me to a drink every now and then.
“I feel a gaze filled with longing upon me….”
“You’re imagining it.”
“It’s erotic, but it doesn’t feel quite like it’s aimed towards me…”
“Don’t worry about it.”
Why does it feel like she suddenly shuddered?
And the helmeted bastard has been staring at me all this time. It’s starting to scare me. His gaze hasn’t wavered for even a second.
I don’t quite like the atmosphere right now, but at this rate we’ll be able to catch up with them within a few hours.
It would’ve been best if we knew exactly where they were hiding, but the underling wasn’t in a condition to answer questions.
I probably shouldn’t have kicked him that hard. Even if anything is broken, a Heal would fix it, right?… If need be, I’ll pay for his recovery fees.
“Meeting up with your party is the highest priority right now. Though, what will we do if we run into the criminal organization on the way?”
“Hey, don’t say anything strange. I’m pretty sure that’s a flag. Kazuma mentioned it to me. Saying those kinds of things make it more likely to come true.”
“There’s no such thing. Do you really think we’ll coincidentally run into that gang here? That’s impossible. Ahahaha.”
Loli Succubus started laughing innocently.
Every time she talks, I can feel the gaze from that helmeted bastard intensify… What the hell is up with this situation.
“Still, if we are both travelling down the same path, there’s a chance we could run into each other.”
The helmeted bastard really is a worrywart. You don’t need to worry about. Even if we do run into each other, they’d be too busy setting up the ambush to attack us.
“Sure, but there’s no need to worry about that. They won’t attack us on the way. All of their actions so far have been planned beforehand. The aren’t stupid enough to spontaneously waylay a couple of travellers like a bunch of common bandits.”
“Dust-san, isn’t that a flag…”
You don’t need to point that out. Still, there’s no way that would happen.
“Stop raising weird flags, you two. Someone just jumped out in front of us.”
“Hey, wait, isn’t it way too effective?”
They really picked the perfect timing to appear.
There are seven of them, and none of them seem to be good people. A few of them appeared to be adventurers, but they definitely don’t have peaceful intentions, if their readied weapons are anything to go by.
Doesn’t seem like they intend to negotiate.
I don’t feel that killing gaze on me, but there are still quite a few of them to handle. None of them have horses, so maybe we can just charge through? No, two of them have bows.
“Don’t say a word, you two. Just follow my lead.”
The two of them looked surprised after hearing my words, but they nodded.
Time to show off the skills of the man who’s said to be unrivalled in underhanded arts.
“Hey, are you guys the others the boss was talking about?”
Before they could attack, I casually called out to them and waved as I approached.
“Don’t attack us. Sir asked me to bring this girl to you. You guys are gathering loli looking girls, right?”
I patted Loli Succubus on the head. Dressed as she is, she looked nothing more than a young village girl.
Loli Succubus started trembling and acting frightened. Seemed like she understood what I was trying to do.
“Ah… uu… please let me go home…”
She’s good at acting as always. That terrified expression is amazing too. I really made the right choice in bringing her with us.
“Wait, you guys wish to join our group?”
I slowed down my horse and approached the men who’ve let down their guard.
“Yeah. I caught the boss’s eye after doing some thuggish activities in Axel. Since I knew how to ride a horse, he sent me ahead to tell you guys that he might run a little late. This girl is a little present, of sorts.”
“Oh, aren’t you conscientious? We wouldn’t be able to stay in that town after attacking adventurers. Well, increasing the number of lolis we have is nice and all, but… New guy, you don’t get it at all!”
They suddenly became agitated. Did they see through my ruse? My hand is already on the handle of my sword, but it’d still be pretty tough to face this number of people.
“That little girl is crying, isn’t she!? You don’t need to be scared, Ojou-chan. Everything’s going to be fine. Hey, someone bring something sweet over!”
We let out a surprised gasp in response to this unexpected development.
The man continued speaking gently to Loli Succubus while the others hurriedly prepared a set of folding table and chairs, before laying out a variety of colourful snacks on top of it.
A soft cushion is placed on the chair, and the table is decorated with flowers.
“Now, come on, please sit over here.”
Loli Succubus pleaded for help with her eyes, but I have no idea what to do.
For the moment, I nodded and watched as Loli Succubus reluctantly got off the horse and moved to the chair.
Seeing the set of freshly brewed tea and snacks in front of her, Loli Succubus seemed to be confused.
These fierce looking men didn’t approach Loli Succubus, but instead continued talking to her while maintaining a respectable distance.
“How does it taste?”
“It tastes really good.”
Loli Succubus timidly answered the question of the smiling man.
Two of the other men high-fived after hearing that. I don’t understand them at all.
“I am so glad I practised my baking skills… This is the moment I was born for.”
“This is great! I didn’t suffer all those hardships for nothing!”
Two of the men teared up and hugged each other. It’s a moving sight, but… The hell is going on?
These delicious looking snacks were made by them? You’re telling me that this bear like man has a hobby of baking?
The other men nodded at each other and lined up next to the table.
They stood up straight and clicked their heels. It seems like they are about to do something.
They may be weird, but they are still a criminal organization. It’d be dangerous to let my guard down.
“Rule number one! You may admire Lolis, but you must not touch them!”
“You may admire Lolis, but you must not touch them!”
These guys boldly repeated the lines of the leading man.
“Rule number two! Never regard them in a lewd manner!”
“Never regard them in a lewd manner!”
Ah, these guys are Lolicons.
Yeah, these guys are definitely beyond help.
That explains their suspicious behaviour towards Loli Succubus. She looks pretty young, so she’s probably right up their alley.
They might be shot in the head, but they have numbers on their side. It’d be best to play along with them and wait for the chance to escape.
Even though I feel like it’d be possible to launch a surprise attack right now, these men seem to be pretty skilled. I can tell from the way they move their center of gravity when they walk. These guys might say some really stupid things, but they aren’t pushovers.
“Hey, let’s talk about the rest while we eat. We still have something important to handle tonight, right? It’s a little early, but we should eat up and get ready.”
“Rule number 13-Yeah, you’re right… say, have I seen you before?”
I’m grateful that they stopped their declarations, but he suddenly said something strange.
One of them was staring at my face with a raised eyebrow.
“What a coincidence. I feel like I’ve seen him somewhere too.”
Three of the men said something similar. Are these guys the same ones who tried to kidnap Darkness some time ago? I don’t remember it that clearly, but those voices do sound familiar.
This is bad. If they remember where they saw me, everything will be over.
… I’ll just have to play dumb.
“Aren’t you imagining it? My features aren’t all that uncommon, you know?”
“That mop of golden hair… Gurk!”
The man who was about to stumble upon my true identity suddenly received a blow to the head from a spear and fell to the ground.
Needless to say, that’s the work of the helmeted bastard.
Before the others realized what was going on, the bastard rode down another guy on horseback. It’s pretty impressive, but those guys aren’t greenhorns, and the third guy managed to deflect the tip of the spear.
“What the hell are you doing?”
I leapt off my horse and struck at the two men closest to me with my sword, but they managed to narrowly avoid the blow.
“So it was all a ruse! Get them! Ah, but don’t touch the loli!”
All of them closed the distance and brandished their weapons. Two of them are down, that still leaves five. There are three of us, but one of us can’t fight. I don’t like those odds in a direct confrontation.
Then, there’s only one thing to do.
“Right, we’re running! Hurry up!”
I leapt back on my horse before grabbing Loli Succubus’ outstretched hand and pulling her up.
“Don’t put it that way!”
One of the men tried to stab at me with a spear while saying something incomprehensible, but stayed his hand due to Loli Succubus’ presence.
Using that chance, we rode out of the group. The helmeted bastard followed after me.
The men frantically tried to ready their bows, but too bad for them.
“Dammit, someone cut the strings!”
“Mine are cut too!”
I wasn’t aiming for you earlier, but your bows.
Heh, in terms of deceiving others and running away, I won’t lose to anyone!
“Farewell! May we never meet again!”
“Come back here! At least leave the loli behind!”
I could hear the baying of sore losers in the distance, but of course I ignored them.
After putting some distance between us, I slowed down my horse and pulled up next to the helmeted bastard.
“Looks like we made a clean escape.”
“Those men were completely fooled. You were really splendid out there.”
“You really are first class when it comes to cheating others.”
“Yeah, well, this is just what happens when you leave things to me.”
I don’t know if they’ll wait for their two companions to regain consciousness before moving on or leave them behind. Either way, there’s no chance they’ll be able to catch up to us while we are on horseback.
“All that’s left is to find Dust-san’s companions, right?”
“Eh? What are you saying? We’re setting a trap and ambushing them.”
This isn’t something to be surprised about. I couldn’t see the face of the helmeted bastard, so I couldn’t tell his reaction.
“Don’t act so surprised. We know that we have better mobility than them, so there’s no longer any reason to panic. Finding my companions would be great, but if we can’t find them, then all we would’ve accomplished is waste our time. Rather than trying to find out where the ambush spot is, it’d be easier to just take them out right here.”
“Well, sure, but didn’t we just run away from them?”
“That’s precisely why we are doing this. They wouldn’t expect people who just ran away from them to turn around and ambush them. And they’ll be too busy trying to catch up to us to bother looking for signs of an ambush. Even an obvious trap will work on them.”
If we manage to meet up with our companions first, all their plans would be wasted. They must be in a right panic at the moment. Though if they were to just give up and abandon the plan, that’d be fine too.
“But, what will we do about the materials required to set a trap?”
“We are surrounded by the bounties of nature, aren’t we? Being prepared and gathering information is essential for adventurers. If a direct attack doesn’t work, then use your brains and set a trap for them. The items I have in this bag will be very useful for this purpose.”
“Dust-san… Have you ever considered changing your job to a thief?”
“I refuse. Stop talking about useless things and help me set up. We don’t have much time left. Hurry up and get to work!”
“It feels really weird to have Dust-san chastise me about working.”
What are you saying? Stop spending your time on idle chatter and take a page or two out from helmeted bastard’s book.
He’s already tied the horses in a safe place and is waiting for my orders. If this goes well, I’ll definitely do my best to set the two of you together.
“Come on, hurry up and move.”
The traps have been set, and we’ve come up with the perfect battle plan.
Everyone’s in position. All that’s left is to wait for them to appear.
It’s kind of hard to hate those guys, but they are still planning on kidnapping one of my friends and turning her over to some nobleman.
Regardless of their reasons, I have no intention of forgiving anyone who would harm one of my companions.
The point I’ve chosen for my ambush is a small animal’s trail just ahead of Keele’s dungeon. It’s a narrow path that slopes up the mountain.
This path is narrow enough that it can at most accommodate two people standing side by side, and it’s surrounded by tall grasses and steep slopes on both sides.
The terrain is very advantageous for us.
The sound of footsteps reached my ears from further down the path, and they steadily grew louder.
I peeked out from behind the grass that had become my hiding place
There are seven men, completely covered in sweat.
There are no forks in the road, and there is no reason for them to walk along the tall grasses or steep slopes on either side of the path. Right, everything is going just as planned.
“Hurry up! There’s no telling what boss will do to us if we mess this up! I might even lose several items from my secret collection!”
“I wouldn’t want to live without my Iris-sama album.”
“I have a few things that the boss has his eye on too. Dammit, why is this road so muddy!? Even though we’re in a hurry!”
They seemed pretty worked up about it, but the boss they are talking about is probably enjoying the hospitality of the detention cells right about now.
Just as they started climbing up the slope, the helmeted bastard appeared on the road in front of them, his body dripping with water.
He stood as if to block the path, and motioned towards them.
“You’re-the guy from before! You’re pretty brave to face us alone. Where are the other two- Hey, what are you doing? Ow!”
Helmeted bastard ignored their words and started throwing the large stones that we’ve gathered in advance at them.
“Hey, cut it out! Are you a kid!? Ow! Stop throwing stones at us! It hurts! If you’re going to throw stones, I’d rather you switch with that loli from earlier. A young girl throwing stones with all her might… yeah, that’s moe! Ah!”
He ate a rock directly to the face. Rocks have low killing power, but getting hit by one hurts quite a bit. It might even end up breaking a few bones if it hit the right spot.
They are all clumped up on this narrow path, and after losing their bows, they have no way of retaliating. All they can do is take these attacks being thrown at them from up high. It really is quite amusing.
“Gwahahaha! Quite a nice look you have down there!”
I stood up from my hiding place at the top of the slope and let out a hearty laugh.
Partly it’s to provoke them, but it’s mostly because I genuinely found it hilarious.
“Don’t you dare laugh at us!”
“Two of you, go around and flank him. And you guys go take care of that laughing fool. The rest will charge right at this guy with me.”
Hmm, sending two guys down the slope to flank the helmeted bastard, three guys to climb up after me, while the rest charge straight ahead while shielding their faces with an axe. Well, the slope is not exactly insurmountable, but…
“Uwah! What the!? Did it rain recently? This grass is too slippery to get a firm grip on!”
“Gwah! I just tripped on something!”
I let out another hearty laugh after seeing them slip on the wet ground and get tripped up by the ropes we wove together out of grass earlier.
“Hey, are you awright? Keep at it, you’ll be walking on two feet in no time!”
“Stop fucking with me! We like young girls, but that doesn’t mean we enjoy getting treated like children!”
The more agitated they get, the tougher it is for them to find their footing. In the end, they are simply fumbling all around the place without making a shred of progress.
Oh, I should give them some stones to encourage them.
The stone I flung hit the guy in the lead square on the forehead, and he ended up dragging down the guy behind him as he fell, ending up in a ball of flailing limbs and faces.
“Oh, forget him! Just cover your faces and charge right through!”
Oh, now you’re planning on ignoring me and simply following the road. Yeah, that’ll be the wiser course of action. The stones will be easily fended off with just a bit of protection, after all.
But did you really think the great Dust-sama wouldn’t anticipate that?
“Looks like they are clumped up together. I’ll leave the rest to you.”
“Leave it to me~”
In response to my signal, Loli Succubus flew out from her hiding spot in the trees.
Instead of the village girl outfit, she’s wearing far more revealing clothing, allowing her bat wings to poke out from her back and keep her aloft in mid air.
“What? That girl was an angel?”
Come on, no matter how you slice it, those are the wings of a devil.
With the lightning sphere firmly grasped in her hands, Loli Succubus flew to just above the crowd that stood still in shock.
“Now then, Lightning Strike!”
The lightning bolt dropped below the sphere onto the crowd, and quickly spread through the wet ground after striking the first person. Every single one of them fell to the ground in a heap.
It was more powerful that I expected. I could smell something burning. They aren’t dead, I hope.
“This magic item is amazing!”
Loli Succubus excitedly exclaimed after landing. Well, she’s a devil who can fly under her own power. For humans who are stuck to the ground, that’s just a really expensive way to commit suicide.
“That magic item that flooded the ground is also pretty amazing, isn’t it? It’s a pity we had to break it to keep it from making that awful noise.”
I used that portable toilet from the magic item shop to flood the area.
It sprayed water all over the place after the helmeted bastard smashed it to prevent it from attracting monsters. Well, at least some good came out of it.
“So, what should we do with them?”
“Strip them of their clothes and weapons and tie them up by that tree. We can deal with them after we meet up with Lynn and the others. The only one left is the guy who infiltrated the party, but don’t let your guard down.”
“Alright. Then, let’s strip them quickly.”
“Sure thing, I’ll help too~”
Well, I guess a succubus wouldn’t be squeamish about stripping a man down.
The helmeted bastard seems to be pretty adept at this too. He only stumbled a little when removing their armour.
I helped, of course. After removing their clothes and weapons, we lined them up against a tree before tying them to it with rope.
“That took more time than I expected. It’s already getting dark. Let’s hurry on.”
Getting back on our horses, we rode down the path that has mostly dried by now.
We rode them until we came to a narrow animal trail that the horses couldn’t traverse, so we had to part ways.
“Can you wait here for awhile? If we don’t come back, you can head back first.”
I silently watched the helmeted bastard as he whispered to the horses.
I don’t believe that horses can understand human speech perfectly, but the smarter ones are able to understand simple words and the feelings of their masters.
It’s been some time, but getting back on a horse again isn’t too bad.
“Dust-san, you had a really gentle expression on your face just now.”
“I’m always gentle.”
“…Yes, of course.”
Loli Succubus averted her gaze and said in a monotone voice.
“If you have something to say, say it to my face.”
Don’t just whistle and play dumb.
“Thanks for waiting. Let’s go.”
After the helmeted bastard rejoined us, we hurried down the animal trail.
I don’t think it’d be likely for him to get up to anything on his own, but he is a criminal, after all. Who knows how he thinks? They seem to be a reasonable bunch and don’t seem to mean Lynn any harm, but there’s bound to be one or two people in the group who think differently from the majority.
If he does anything to harm Lynn or my friends… I don’t think I’ll be able to restrain myself.
No, it’ll be fine. I’m sure of it.
“Ha, what a bunch of fools. Hahaha!”
Looking at those three sleeping with their mouths wide open, I let out a satisfied laugh.
Normally, it would only be natural to have the new guy be in charge of night watch, but these guys got worried for me when I forcibly volunteered myself. They really are a bunch of bleeding hearts.
After waking me up, they didn’t even suspect anything and went right to bed.
I threw a pouch of sleeping powder into the bonfire, and this is the result.
It’s a pretty powerful sleeping drug, so no matter how noisy the surroundings are, they won’t wake up.
“There’s still about two hours left till the meeting time.”
Normally I would wait a little while longer before using the drug, but I purposefully used it way in advance today.
I gazed at the mage named Lynn as she slept.
I don’t know her exact age, but she’s probably still in her teens. With that child-like face of hers, the client will definitely be pleased.
Men generally prefer women who are bountiful in both chest and buttocks, but there are some who prefer more slender women.
Most people wouldn’t understand this, but the band I’m part of is comprised entirely of men who are fascinated by the appeal of slender… no, young looking girls.
I knew that she was my type from the moment I laid my eyes on her. There are some who prefer even younger girls, but for me, someone like her is the best.
“She looks like a kid, but she adopts such a strong exterior every day. That’s really great. To think that I’d be able to do anything I want to a girl like her… oh, no, I think I just drooled a little.”
It’s a rule that we shouldn’t lay a hand on the girls we fancy, but there won’t be a problem as long as nobody finds out. I’m the one who takes care of the most troublesome role, after all. I deserve a few perks.
“First I’ll remove the cloak. Should I remove the top or the bottom next? I’ll leave her shoes and socks on, of course.”
There’s a specific order in which you need to remove the clothes. Rather than stripping them completely nude, having a few pieces of clothing on is much more erotic, at least, that’s my personal philosophy. So, I’ll remove her top but leave her bra on.
Then I’ll remove her bottom but keep her panties on. Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!
Her underdeveloped breasts and hips being hidden by her bra and panties! And the added sexiness that leaving her shoes on provides!
“This is the best! Now, then, let me throughly enjoy that smooth skin of yours.”
I slid my index finger along her body.
Her modestly sized chest under the fabric. That smooth and bouncy skin of hers… I can’t get enough of this. Now, let me enjoy myself a little more.
Her breasts are miniscule, but if I forcefully grab her chest, I’ll be able to feel it with my entire palm. I closed my eyes and focused all my attentions on my hand.
“Eh? Isn’t it a bit bigger than I expected? Did she always have such large breasts?”
It’s large enough that it’s spilling through my palm. Was she hiding such a huge chest underneath her bra?
Well, that wouldn’t be too bad, but it’s not exactly what I was hoping for. To have such a massive difference from it’s appearance… the bodies of women sure are mysterious.
I opened my eyes to confirm the situation- and saw a blushing red pig in front of me.
“HA!? What is an orc doing here!?”
What I was touching wasn’t Lynn’s chest, but an orc’s?
What the hell is going on?
“Ara, you are a forceful one. Well, I don’t dislike that.”
The orc breathed heavily and fixed me with an intense gaze.
I felt a chill flow down my spine.
I was too shocked to speak properly.
“M? You want to get married? Aren’t you a hasty one? First, let’s start with confirming our compatibility first.”
I frantically backpedaled away from the orc.
I-I need to escape. Orcs are a female only race that men need to cautiously take down from afar. They are the worst kind of enemy a man could face.
I’ve heard more than enough tales of the kind of fate that awaits men who’ve been captured by orcs.
No matter how unsightly I look, I need to put as much distance between me and her as I can.
Being too afraid to stand, I pedaled backwards with my ass still firmly on the ground, and felt my back hit something.
“Ara, Onii-san, where are you going?”
Y-You’re kidding, right? This voice is…
My instincts are screaming at me not to turn back, but I just couldn’t stop myself.
Yeah, I could’ve just imagined it. I could’ve just hit some kind of obstacle and imagined the voice.
I slowly turned my head around… What I ran into wasn’t a rock or a tree, but the body of a musclebound orc.
And there were three of them.
“Let’s enjoy ourselves! I won’t let you sleep tonight! Pant Pant”
“I’m in heat today! Let’s get rid of those bothersome clothes~!”
“No! No! Stop! Don’t be so rough!”
“I want at least 50 children, so work hard, papa! First, we should share a passionate kiss so that we have something to tell our children!”
“T-There’s no need for that.”
I tried to escape, but the first orc grabbed my shoulder with an iron grip.
Her drooling mouth is slowly moving closer to me…
“S-Somebody! Save me!!”
A man is tossing and turning in his sleep before me.
Sitting next to him, Loli Succubus had her hand on his forehead, giving him some sweet dreams.
“I only gave some direction for the dream, but it seems like it’s really working out quite well.”
It seems like this man who deceived my companions and wanted to lay a hand on Lynn has encountered something unthinkable in his dream.
He’s frantically shaking his head as if he’s resisting something.
“Hehe, I could enjoy this.”
Loli Succubus’ smile is really scary. This won’t awaken something strange in him, will it?… I should treat her better from now on. There’s no way I can fight back if I were held hostage in my dreams, after all.
“I didn’t expect him to be a member of a criminal organization. This is what they mean by you can’t judge a book by its cover.”
Lynn said with a serious expression on her face.
We stealthily met up with them while this guy was still sleeping. They were surprised at first, but they accepted it after I explained the situation to them.
Well, they didn’t believe me, but they certainly believed it when Loli Succubus and the helmeted bastard explained it. Some companions they turned out to be.
“Dust, you saved us. Thanks.”
“You certainly changed my view of you. You really do pull through when it counts.”
Keith and Taylor properly gave their thanks to me.
As for Lynn, she stared at me with her arms crossed.
“Hey, Lynn-san, isn’t there something you should say to me?”
“Y-Yeah, well, yeah, thanks for saving us!”
She shouted that at me, but I knew it was just to cover her embarrassment.
That’s why I-
“Yeah, show me your appreciation.”
Replied with a wide smile.
It’s already quite late today, so we decided to spend the night here and head back tomorrow.
Everyone’s already soundly asleep.
I lost in a game of rock, paper, scissors, so I ended up stuck with night watch at this time.
Originally Lynn was supposed to keep watch together with me, but I didn’t wake her, instead staring at the bonfire all by my lonesome.
My companions, Loli Succubus and the helmeted bastard were both sound asleep. Though, since the bastard kept his helmet on even when sleeping, I can’t really tell how soundly he’s sleeping.
The man who had his spirit broken after experiencing the orc paradise was tied up with rope and lay collapsed on the floor.
The only one awake in this place is me… and someone else.
I stood up and dusted the dirt off my backside.
“I’ll be borrowing this.”
I picked up the spear lying next to the helmeted bastard.
Walking past a large, slanted tree, I headed off deeper into the darkness.
As I reached a clearing, I narrowed my eyes.
“Right here is fine, isn’t it? I didn’t want to wake the rest of them up, so I brought you out here. Come on out.”
“Oh, so you noticed me. I thought you were just going out to water the grass.”
A man dressed in black from head to toe stepped out from the shadows. Dressed as he is, he blended perfectly into the darkness.
I could faintly feel his gaze on me ever since I started setting up the traps for the ambush. He’s been following me all the way since then.
Just from his presence and his attire, I can tell that he’s a dangerous man. He’s on a completely different level than the other thugs. Is he an actual assassin?
The warning that Sir Vanir gave me is definitely referring to this man.
“Anyone would notice if you give out so much killing intent. I don’t know who you are, but you’re probably hired by those guys, right? The boss is already chilling in the cells. Are you sure you want to go through with this?”
“They’ve hired me and paid in advance. No matter what happens, I must ensure the safe delivery of goods.”
“You really are inflexible for a guy in this line of work. You’re going to waste your life away if you’re this hard headed… Just like I did in the past.”
“Thank you for your advice. Let’s leave the small talk here and get to work.”
Facing a motivated opponent, I stared at my spear and tightened my grip on it.
I swore off using spears a long time ago, but it seems like my body still remembers how to use them.
“If it’s to protect something important… You’ll forgive me, right?”
Her face flashed into my mind. The face of that free spirited woman with a face way too similar to Lynn’s.
I placed a hand on the sword I received as a parting gift from her, and sighed.
-I’ll use a spear.
I bent my knees slightly and assumed a combat stance.
The black clad man slid towards me with extremely light steps.
He held a dagger in each hand. A dual wielder, huh?
I thrust my spear at the approaching man, but he narrowly dodged it and leapt right at me.
Two flashes of silver gleamed under the moonlight. They were headed straight for my neck.
I leaned backwards to avoid the blades, and turned it into a backflip in order to gain some distance.
I thrust my spear at the man just before I landed, and he threw himself backwards to avoid it.
“You’re pretty skilled. I’ve been observing you for some time now. Was that all an act?”
“Not at all. If anything, this might be the true act.”
I jested without taking my eyes off him.
“However, I’ve already grasped your combat style with that exchange. I’ll end it with the next blow.”
The man confidently declared, before stepping forward. Before his feet touched the ground, I twisted around and thrust at him with the butt of my spear.
It was a serious thrust. It burst through the air and caught him right in the stomach.
The black cloaked man widened his eyes in surprise, glanced down at the spear stuck in his body, and silently collapsed to the ground.
“My bad. It’s been a while since I’ve used this, so I can’t really hold back right now.”