Setting sights on that Harem
Editing: Ulti, Xenthur
Even though we reached what seemed to be the deepest part of the dungeon, instead of running into monsters, the only thing that awaited us was a dust-covered room that seemed to have been the residence of a bachelor.
A simple bed stood at the side, along with a table and a chair. The bookcase next to it was stuffed to the brim, but the books themselves were too weathered to read.
There were several unidentifiable items placed under square glass cases.
There’s a room further in the back, but that only lead to a bath.
This place is probably the living quarters of the mage who created the dungeon.
“What a shabby room. Here I thought we’d be able to reap some rewards after all the trouble we went through.”
“Don’t complain, Keith. It was already lucky enough that we were allowed to investigate a dungeon that no one else has entered before.”
Taylor chided the grumbling Keith.
Keith has black hair and black eyes. With his slim body and a tuft of hair perpetually covering one eye, he could be said to be a pretty handsome man. That said, I’ve never seen him be particularly popular with the ladies.
His skills as an archer aren’t bad, but he’s a frequent skirt chaser, bad with sake, and easily gets carried away. That’s probably why he isn’t more popular.
Within the party, he’s the one closest to me, and we often go out drinking together.
Taylor is both physically and mentally the opposite of Keith. He’s tall and muscular, a serious and inflexible crusader.
“I feel oddly tired. Seems like my body isn’t fully recovered yet. Sigh, I want to go back and rest.”
My body has felt off ever since I got eaten by the Hydra.
It feels like I still haven’t gotten used to my newly rejuvenated body…
“Yeah, yeah, if you have the time to grumble, start moving your hands. A mage capable of creating such a dungeon might still have some kind of treasure hidden away somewhere.”
The person who tried to encourage the two of us was the only girl in our party, Lynn.
Her red hair is tied into a ponytail. Her face still has traces of youth, but don’t be fooled by her appearance. She has an extremely harsh personality, especially towards me.
“You too, don’t just stand there and look, hurry up and help.”
“Yeah, yeah, I just need to work, right?”
See? She’s harsh, isn’t she?
As a warrior, I don’t think I’ll be able to find anything even if I search, but I’ll at least go through the motions. She’ll nag at me if I don’t.
“Say, doesn’t this area seem a little off?”
When I randomly hit a few sections of the wall, it made a weird click.
Cold sweat flowed down my spine.
“Did you hear something weird just now?”
Seems like the sound was louder than I thought, and everyone looked over in my direction.
Just when I was about to come up with some kind of excuse, the earth started rumbling.
Don’t tell me this is my fault?! Isn’t this really bad!?
“I-I didn’t do anything! Whatever happens, it wasn’t my fault! This is just a strange twist of fate- Aaaah!”
The wall which my hand was pressed up against suddenly slid aside, causing me to lose my balance and fall into the newly opened gap.
“Ow, that hurt! What the hell is going on!?”
As I raised myself back up, I noticed that the space that the wall used to occupy led to a new room. It was much larger with a much higher ceiling than the room we were currently in.
Apart from a pair of doors, one on each side of the room, it was completely empty.
“It’s strangely bright in there. Is it coming from the magic item on the ceiling?”
“Seems like it. You did great to find a hidden room, Dust!”
With a loud bang, Lynn slapped me hard on the back.
“Don’t you guys know how to hold back!? Still, what kind of room is this? Normally you’d expect there to be treasure in a hidden room… but there are just two doors here.”
“There’s probably treasure behind one of the doors, or perhaps behind both. After going through all the effort to create such a large room, there can’t possibly be nothing here. It’d be great if it’s something valuable. Right, let’s start with the right door.”
Keith moved over to the right door and reached out for the doorknob.
“Be careful, Keith. We should’ve hired a thief along. Even though the guild told us that it’s a monster nest and thus there shouldn’t be any traps…”
“It’s too late to be saying that. We haven’t run into any traps so far, so it’s fine. I’ll be taking the left door then. Ah, right, I was the one who found this secret room! Make sure you remember that! If we find any treasure from this, make sure you give me a bigger cut!”
“Then, if a monster comes out, you can go deal with it all by yourself.”
“… It’s only common sense to split the rewards evenly with your companions.”
As an adult, I should make a rational decision here.
Keith and Taylor took the right door, leaving Lynn and I to take the left.
Lynn seemed extremely guarded and took cover behind me, but let’s just ignore that.
“Right, now even if the door explodes and blows you to pieces, or poison gas comes out and chokes you to death, or spears come out and run you through, or flesh dissolving acid were to spray out, I’ll be safe. Alright, go ahead and open it.”
“What the hell are you saying! Stop saying such terrifying things! Plus, if the explosion is that strong, you’ll be caught in the blast radius as well!”
“Don’t say such unauspicious things. Now just standing next to you is making me shiver.”
“Hey, come on, stop blushing.”
Is she secretly happy to be able to perish together with me?
Thinking that, I took a closer look at Lynn’s face and found a genuinely displeased expression on it.
“I’m not blushing. In the first place, I’m headed for heaven and you’re headed to hell, so we’ll end up in different places.”
“Well, too bad. It’s already been decided that I’ll go to heaven too. I heard it directly from Eris-sama herself.”
“Yeah, yeah, you met her back when you got eaten by the hydra. I’ve heard it countless times by now. Please try and tell a more believable lie.”
“I’m not lying! Why the hell does no one believe me!? I really did meet with Eris-sama and talked with her! Her chest was quite suspicious, though.”
“Oh, wow, how wonderful-. You’ll end up receiving divine punishment if you keep making fun of the gods. Come on, hurry up and open it. Taylor and Keith are already searching the room opposite us.”
Looking over to where Lynn was pointing, the door was already open and Taylor was nowhere to be seen.
Right, time to stop with all this chatter and get on with it.
I carefully twisted the doorknob, and fortunately nothing trap-like seemed to have been triggered.
I gently pushed the door open a peep and peeked inside.
“It’s too dark to see anything. Can you pass me the lantern?”
“Got it. Here.”
With the lantern in hand, I took a single cautious step into the room. At that instant, a blinding light came shining down from the ceiling.
“A trap!? Lynn!”
I instantly embraced Lynn and covered her with my body.
I waited for some kind of shockwave or pain to wash over me, but nothing of the sort came.
“Hey, how long do you intend to hug me for? You sure have some guts to be committing sexual harassment in broad daylight.”
Said a muffled voice from my chest.
It’s a voice that barely concealed her anger.
“Ah, sorry. It’s not like I tried to enjoy the sensation of your chest against me only to be disappointed by the lack of bounciness or anything.”
“Right, sit right there. I’ll burn you to your bones.”
“Wait, come on! It was obviously a joke! Stop chanting! C-Come on, now’s not the time for this. Now that the place is lit, we can take a better look around the room.”
Lowering her staff, Lynn slowly looked around with a scowl on her face.
Seems like I managed to somehow divert her attention for now, so let’s focus my efforts on observing the interior.
There’s a small spherical object amongst the haphazard pile of trash in the corner of the room. Just what is that?
It fit snugly into the palm of my hand and felt quite smooth when I touched them.
There’s a little part protruding from the top that made a click when I pushed it, but it doesn’t seemed to have caused any changes at all.
“Well, this is no fun.”
I lost interest in it and threw it by my feet.
Now that I take a better look, this room is bigger than the room I occasionally rent out at the inn.
The wall in front of me is lined with bookcases, and most of them were filled to the brim.
“This looks like a fine bookcase. Unlike the ones outside, the books here seem to be in pretty good condition.”
Some kind of writing is present on the spine of the book, but I can’t understand them
I’ve never seen such writing before.
“What kind of language is this? There are a lot of characters in eye-catching colours… Lets flip through it.”
I pulled out a book at random and turned over the page.
“O-Oh my, what a huge find!”
I understood the value of such an item from the moment I saw the page.
This is a priceless treasure!
“W-W-W-W-What the hell is this!?”
Lynn was screaming something, but I was too engrossed in the book to care.
This book has few words, but a lot of pictures. The only words seem to be dialogue taking place between the characters. With those pictures, even when I can’t read the dialogue, I can understand the gist of what’s going on.
A woman wearing clothing I’ve never seen before is standing in a crowded room. Everyone’s wearing the same clothing, so it must be some kind of uniform.
Still, they are dressed very erotically. Their skirts are extremely short.
I turned the page.
Now, the same woman is approaching an older man in a clean looking room with a bed. And the man reached down towards the woman’s skirt with a grin…
“This one too! And this! And this! Why the hell are they all filled with erotic pictures!?”
Prompted by the scream, I raised my head and saw a flustered Lynn in front of me, her face a bright red.
A number of books are strewn on the floor around her, and judging from the pictures on the covers, every single one of them is erotic.
I rapidly flipped through the book in my hand. There has be a scene where they are doing the deed, right?
This book… It’s overflowing with erotic passion… I can’t get enough of this.
The details on the pictures are surprising in itself, but the pages feel smooth and don’t crumple at all even when I was flipping through them. It feels completely different from a regular book. Could this be a really amazing treasure?
“Hey, don’t treat them so roughly. These are the treasures of mankind.”
“What treasures? These are just erotic picture books!”
“You fool. These books bring forth the fantasies of men in such an exquisite manner. They’ll sell for quite a sum! I can’t understand the words, but even so, I can understand what they’re doing.”
She squared her shoulders and turned away.
Looks like women and children can’t understand the value of this item. This is the best form of art.
“I’ll take a closer look at the goods. Lynn, are you heading back to meet up with Keith and Taylor? You guys can take a break if you want.”
“Yeah… I exhausted most of my mana in the fighting, so I’ll take a rest.”
Now that the one who’d get in the way has left, I’ll be able to properly examine these books.
The dreams shown to me by the succubi are amazing too, but this book depicts scenes that have never crossed my mind before.
It’ll probably increase her skill at creating dreams if I show these books to Loli Succubus. I should send a few volumes her way.
I didn’t have time to properly peruse them right now, but I noticed a certain bias when I casually flipped through a few volumes.
“Aren’t there a lot of scenes where the men are getting attacked?”
There are some vanilla works in there, but for some reason, it seems like a lot of them depict men getting attacked by women.
Darkness will probably happily pay for them if the situation was reversed.
The bookcases near the entrance were filled with erotic books, but the other bookshelves are filled with non-erotic picture books too.
Seems like a large variety of books are present here. This book painted with warm colours depicting plenty of children seems like it’d be right up Lynn’s alley. I’ll pass it to her later.
For the time being, I decided to pack a few carefully chosen erotic books into my bag. I’ll need to slowly peruse those back in my room. There are quite a few of them, so I’ll have to get Keith and the others to help carry it later.
Oh, yeah, I wonder what happened to them?
With my bag filled to bursting, I headed over to the other room only to find them standing blankly in front of the door.
“What’s wrong? You didn’t find anything?”
“Ah, Dust… Let’s go home.”
“Yeah. Sigh. There’s no reason for us to spend any more time here.”
Keith being lazy is just par for the course for him, but it’s quite surprising to hear Taylor say such a thing.
Did they end up being depressed because there was nothing in the other room?
“Don’t feel so down. There’s a mountain of treasure in the other room. This will definitely sell back in town.”
Saying that, I brought out my favourite book from the collection and showed it to the two of them.
They moved their gaze down to look at the book… And that’s it.
Why are you guys sighing? There’s an amazing erotic picture right in front of you right now!
“Hey, seriously, what happened to you two? That’s not the reaction you should have after seeing this picture! Even if you are tired, a different body part would be standing right at attention! My longsword is stiff and ready, you know!?”
“Ah, well, it is erotic.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty obscene.”
What’s with that tepid reaction?
Such a picture would normally cause men to jump for joy. Even if you are exhausted to the point where you’d drop dead, it’s impossible for men to react like this.
In particular, Keith is pretty much the physical embodiment of lust. Why the hell isn’t he biting?
“W-What happened? Did you eat something strange without telling me? I won’t get mad, so tell me the truth.”
“They’re probably just tired, Dust. We had a pretty tough fight, after all. Anyway, there doesn’t seem to be anything more to this place, so let’s head back.”
Lynn butted into the conversation, and the two of them simply replied with a listless “Sure.”
Seems like something’s really wrong with them. Alright, guess I’ll just stuff their bags with the books and hurry back to town.
As we hurried our way back, even though the two men seemed pretty steady on their feet, all they said on the trip back were variations of “I’m tired” in a listless monotone.
The next day, just as I was eating at my usual spot at the guild, a glum-faced Lynn plodded down the stairs towards me.
“What’s with that long face? Is it that time of the month?”
“Do you not know what tact is? Keith and Taylor seemed pretty out of it, so I told them to take a rest today.”
She sat down with a sigh and placed an order with the waitress.
“Those guys are still listless? I even gave them a few of the best volumes… They aren’t exhausted because of that, are they?”
It might not be as good as the dreams provided by the succubi, but we aren’t rich enough that we can request their services every time we get in the mood.
Those books are an unparalleled treasure to us men in allowing us to relieve our desires whenever we want.
When I gave one to Kazuma, he went,
“Hey, isn’t this a Japanese ero-manga? Where did you get these from? Are there any ones involving stepsisters?”
And practically snatched it from me.
“I see. So Keith worked too hard yesterday and wore himself out, huh?”
“That’s not it. The two of them said that they don’t want to move for a few days. They can’t get rid of their fatigue, it seems.”
“How shabby. Come on, even I am full of energy right here.”
“You’re not the only one. I too am feeling pretty normal.”
Did the two of them catch some strange disease?
Hopefully, it’s just simple fatigue. I’ll bring up something nice for them later on.
“Well, it can’t be helped. Guess we’ll be on break for a while.”
“Did you forget? You accepted a quest for the day after tomorrow, didn’t you? Goblins have appeared around Hora village, so we’re tasked with escorting people returning to the village and fending off the goblins. You were overjoyed after finding a proper job, weren’t you?”
“Come to think of it, yeah, I accepted that quest, didn’t I?”
They specified the date and were recruiting a team of around four adventurers, so we jumped on it.
We took the job yesterday because it was short term and close by, but this is the main event.
“… What should we do?”
“What else can we do? We need to recruit some temporary members. We already accepted a quest meant for a party of four.”
“Even so, we do have a bit of a history with temporary members.”
The temporary member that they recruited to replace me in the past turned out to be a member of a criminal organization, and almost ended up putting the party in peril.
Back then, I managed to pull through with my quick wits and judgement, but there’s a chance that we’ll end up getting caught in a similar troublesome situation.
“I doubt that’ll happen again. The guild has become more wary of new and foreign adventurers after that incident too.”
“Yeah, I don’t think that’s likely either. Well, for now, let’s try and avoid anyone suspicious while recruiting.”
“I got it. Give me a moment, I’ll go consult with Luna-san.”
Lynn walked over to Luna who was busy tidying up the counter, and asked something about recruiting a temporary member.
Just put up a notice on the board and wait for someone to come over, huh?
We need at least two members. It’d be best if we could get one from the thief and warrior type classes. If we could get someone who can attack from range too, that’d be nice as well.
Well, we are somewhat famous as adventurers in Axel. I’m sure people will rush to snatch up the position and we’ll end up with too many candidates to choose from. I’m sure of it.
“No one’s coming….”
We were waiting out at the table near the windows, the temporary recruitment poster hanging off the edge, but no one seems to be coming.
There were quite a few people who glanced our way after seeing the notice on the board, but most of them grimaced shortly afterwards and none of them approached us.
We’ve been waiting since morning. It’s almost noon now.
Sitting a short distance away, the Crimson Demon Yunyun hid her face behind the menu and was looking our way like she wanted to say something, but I’m too busy to play along with her today.
She just seems to be up to her usual loner stuff anyway.
“Yeah, I suppose no one would want to join the same party as the delinquent Dust.”
Sitting across me, Lynn said that while looking at me with half closed eyes.
Is that so? If you are going to say such things, I have a few words of my own too.
“Hey, why don’t you change into something more appealing before you start blaming me? You’re lacking in both skin and sensuality. Show more of your shoulders and reveal more of your chest. They can’t expect any kind of slippage to happen while adventuring. What’s with that childish looking outfit? Do you even know what sex appeal is?”
“Oh shut up! I happen to like this outfit. It’s all because you keep committing sexual harassment and picking fights that no one wants to approach us! It’s all your fault!”
“Oh, I’m so sorry- As if! Why don’t you try flaunting your meagre assets?! There are some people who actually enjoy flat chests!”
I got involved in a really troublesome bunch with just those exact tastes a short time ago, after all.
“Oh, that’s it! I’m going to force my staff into your mouth and blast you right there!”
“Your ideas are way too grotesque! I’m the one who’s had it. Let’s take this outside. I’ll properly teach you how great I am.”
The two of us stood up. I think I could hear a soft feminine “Ah!” coming from close by, but I ignored it and went outside.
I crossed my arms and waited for Lynn, and she appeared after a short wait.
“Today, I’m going to teach you which one of us has the better-”
“That was close! Hey, don’t just suddenly start shooting magic without saying a word! You completed your chant before coming out here again!?”
“Tsk, he dodged it. Even though he falls for this every time…”
“What a crazy woman! But you’ve lost your chance. Now then, what should I do? First I’ll strip you and make you regret being born a woman!”
I extended my hands and wiggled my fingers.
I won’t give you time to chant. From now on, it’s going to be completely one-sided. You best prepare yourself.
“Please cut it out! You’re bothering the other patrons! Please do this elsewhere, Dust-san, Lynn-san!”
The one who interrupted before I could attack was the receptionist Luna, a vein almost popping from her forehead as she tried to hide her anger behind a stiff smile.
I stuck the recruitment poster on the unsold table in front of the store.
Quite a few passerbys looked over, but they only only seemed to regard me as an interesting curiosity and not a single one of them called out.
Occasionally a child would approach out of interest, only for their mothers to hurriedly snatch them away.
“Didn’t I always say not to approach suspicious people?”
“Mommy, why are those people sitting on that chair over there?”
“Adults have their own issues too. Just leave them be.”
Giving me one last gentle look, the mother took her child and left.
“Hey… is there a point to this?”
Is she embarrassed? Lynn, sitting next to me, absentmindedly whispered while keeping her head low.
“We don’t have a choice, do we? We were forbidden from recruiting near the guild, so the only thing we could do head to crowded places and try and recruit people there.”
Raising our voices and getting into a fight near the guild was really bad. As a result, we were barred from recruiting people at the guild and the surrounding area.
Thus, we had no choice but to move to a store facing the main street. I wrote on the notice that we were conducting our interviews here, so there shouldn’t be a problem.
“I don’t want to do this in front of such a depressing store either, but we don’t have a choice.”
“Then go home! Why the hell do you keep coming here to disrupt my business?”
I turned around to see the owner of the general store angrily looking down at me.
Your store is already famous for not having any customers. Stop complaining about every little thing.
“Obstructing business? What are you saying? We are recruiting party members here, you know? Interested adventurers will flood over to us, and the people who’re waiting for their turn to be interviewed might… end up browsing your goods to kill time.”
“There aren’t any. If you’re going to say that, you should remain confident till the end. Look around you. There’s not even a single person who came up.”
“… Seems like most of the residents around here are quite shy.”
“That’s not it at all. If regular people see a bunch of suspicious people gathering in front of the shop, they’ll be scared away instead. Lynn-chan, it must be really troublesome for you to take care of a man who just follows his base instincts like this.”
“Hahaha. Even if he’s loose with money and does nothing but chase skirts all day, he’s still my companion. Yeah, even if it’s him.”
“Hey, guys, at least say that kind of stuff behind my back…”
The old man shrugged and disappeared back into his shop.
Lynn, seemingly a little less embarrassed now, raised her head up towards the sky.
I followed suit and saw clouds shaped like a school of fish lazily float across.
“It sure is peaceful.”
“If it weren’t for the quest we had lined up the day after tomorrow, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to just laze around.”
“Yeah. Well, if no one ends up coming, I suppose we can just hit up Kazuma and his party. I’m sure they’re free.”
“I wonder about that. I mean, they had a lot going on even before that incident with Darkness. From what I’ve heard, they got acknowledged after taking down the Demon King’s Generals and got summoned to the capital.”
“Sigh… Kazuma sure is doing good for himself.”
“Are you jealous of him? If you accomplish something big, I’m sure even you might end up getting an audience with Princess Iris too.”
Lynn nudged me with her elbow.
I know she’s just teasing me, but hearing the word princess made me tremble a little.
“I can’t say I have much interest in that. Just thinking about getting involved with royalty and the nobility gives me the chills.”
Just remembering that time makes me uncomfortable.
I couldn’t help but feel a sense of irony from hearing that word come from Lynn’s mouth. She resembles her so closely…
“Really? I thought you of all people would jump right on that.”
“Well, too bad. I’m interested in money and women, but authority is-”
“Eh? Dust-san? What are you doing here? Did you think up some kind of new scheme?”
This voice is her, right?
Looking down, Loli Succubus was standing in front of me.
She’s wearing a far more conservative outfit than usual today
Yeah, I suppose they can’t wear the revealing, lingerie-like outfit that they use in the store while wandering around the city. The police will probably take them in if they were to do so.
“I haven’t seen your face at the store recently. Did you run into money issues again?”
Don’t talk about the succubus store in front of her!
The shop that allows men to fulfill their erotic desires in their dreams is a secret only known to the male adventurers.
“Oh, you’re the girl who helped us a while ago, right? Long time no see. Anyway, what shop are you talking about?”
“Um, hello. Er, about that, the shop is, err… it’s definitely not a suspicious shop of any kind…”
Don’t glance at me with those pleading eyes.
Loli Succubus really is bad at thinking on her feet.
Just hearing you speak of it makes it sound suspicious.
“She gets stage fright easily, so she’s really bad at talking with unfamiliar people. The shop she mentioned is a cafe that I frequently visit. Their uniforms are a little lewd, so that’s one of my favourite places to go.”
“Ah, I see. It might be your job, but I’m sure it’s troublesome to deal with this fellow.”
“Not at all. He did help us out when we were in trouble. He has a lot of problems, but he’s… somewhat reliable, I guess?”
“Oh? Dust is reliable?”
I’m getting some rare praise for once.
Stop looking at me with such naked suspicion, Lynn.
“It says you’re recruiting members. Did something happen?”
“Two of our companions fell ill, and we have a job lined up for the day after tomorrow. That’s why we’re recruiting people.”
“Is that so? It must be hard on you two.”
“Thanks. Oh, I know. Would you like join us? You know a spell that can control the dreams of others, so I’m sure you can cast other spells too, right? It’d be a great help if you could lend us a hand.”
“No, that’s the only spell I can properly cast, and I’ve never been on an adventure before, so I’ll just slow you down…”
She’s looking at me with that pleading gaze of hers again.
Oh, yeah, I think I lied that she was a beginner Mage when I introduced her to the party.
There’ll only be problems if we were to bring her along, so I suppose I should give her a hand.
“Lynn, she doesn’t know any spells that can be used in battle. She won’t of any help even if you bring her along. Ah, how about this, if we really can’t find enough people, we can call her in to fill up the roster. What do you think?”
“Ah, I’m fine with that. If you really can’t find enough people, you can call on me. Now then, I need to get to work, so please excuse me.”
“Sorry for holding you up. Thanks for back then~”
Lynn waved her goodbye, and, after a short bow, Loli Succubus took her leave.
“What a sweet girl. I can’t believe she’s your acquaintance.”
“She may look like that, but she has issues of her own. But… nevermind.”
“We can’t take that quest unless we have four people, so if it really comes down to that, we’ll have to call her up.”
“I’ll consider if it we really can’t find enough people. Ah, someone seems to be ap…proach…ing…”
I caught someone approaching out of the corner of my eye, but when I turned to face them, standing right there was a blond-haired woman wearing a set of metal armour.
“Crap, it’s you.”
I know that person. She’s the vanguard of Kazuma’s party, the Crusader Darkness.
She has a really hot body and is unparalleled when it comes to defence, but…
“Hey, it’s pretty rude to become that disappointed upon seeing someone. I saw your recruitment poster at the guild and purposely came all the way out here after hearing the details from Luna. If you need people, what about me?”
I immediately refused. I’ve already gone through a horrible experience after getting involved with them in the past, so there’s no need to even consider the offer.
“Hey, Dust! Didn’t you say that you’ll go ask Kazuma’s party if no one shows up? You’ve teamed up with them in the past, right?”
“Yeah, I did fill in for Darkness back when she dropped out, but, Lynn, listen. Yes, I did say to hit up Kazuma’s party. But that’s only under the condition that Kazuma comes with us. The others aren’t people that we can handle without their guardian around. Or, what, are you confident that you’ll be able to control those wild beasts without a chain or a whip, Lynn?”
“What are you saying in front of the person in question? What, is this some kind of reward?”
Seeing Darkness blush and start breathing heavily, Lynn recoiled slightly.
Seems like she has a better understanding of just how dangerous she is now.
“Your attacks never land, your only virtue is your toughness, and on top of that, you recklessly charge into monsters on sight and gleefully take their attacks head on. Shall I go on?
As I started counting her problems with my fingers, Darkness started fidgeting in front of me.
“It’s a little embarrassing to be told that again. This feels a little different from the usual embarrassment play…”
Lynn was speechless in the face of Darkness’s reaction. It seems like she’s at a complete loss as to how to respond.
“Besides, what happened to Kazuma? Couldn’t you just go adventuring with your companions?”
“Well, after he wiped out his debt and received a windfall on top of that, he has refused to come out of his house. That man is really…”
Kazuma lost his motivation to work, huh? That means there’s no longer any reason to hire Darkness.
I really do wish he’d stop abandoning those three problem children, though.
“In the first place, do you even have time for this? Weren’t you acting as the lord of this town in place of your father after the old Lord disappeared? I’ve heard that you’ve been running around dealing with the various issues in his place on account of his health. Do you really have time to be working as an adventurer?”
I interrogated her to find some reason to chase her away.
“That’s true, but I’ve accumulated a lot of stress after doing work that I’m not used to. Getting tormen… the chance to beat up some monsters would be a nice change of pace, so I thought I would accept a quest or two.”
“It’s too late to put on a proper front now. You only came here because the other parties rejected you, right?”
Seems like I hit it right on the nail. The people with Kazuma are famous for having more than a few quirks, after all. My body wouldn’t last if I were to pair up with her.
“I have no intention of hiring you. Please leave.”
“Y-You better remember this. Subjecting me to such embarrassment in front of so many people… doesn’t feel so bad. Am I hopeless?”
After leaving such dangerous parting words, she wandered off somewhere.
Darkness is completely hopeless.
If only she didn’t have that personality, that kind of fetish, she’d be a pretty exemplary woman. It really is a pity.
“I’ve heard rumours of Darkness’s personality before, but… You really can’t judge books by their cover.”
Lynn folded her arms and mumbled as she watched Darkness’s back slowly fade into the crowd.
Reality can be cruel at times. Even though she has both status and great looks. What a waste.
“Oh, I wondered what you were doing to make Darkness angry like that. So you’re recruiting members?”
“… Another problem child has come.”
The one who appeared in her place was the explosion girl with a screw loose, the Crimson Demon Megumin.
I had a bad feeling when I heard the story from Darkness. To think that she would show up too…
“Hoho, recruiting members, huh? You’re like all the bad points of Kazuma concentrated into the form of a man, but very well. I have some free time, so if you have need of the skills of the exalted wielder of Explosion Magic-”
“I do not.”
I rejected her out of hand.
I’m looking for party members that I can rely on, not opening a daycare for problem children.
“I’m still in the middle of my speech! This is Explosion, you know?! The same spell that took out various Demon King’s generals! Don’t you have any interest-”
“Not at all!”
“Why not! This is your first and last chance to recruit a wielder of the strongest offensive spell, Explosion, into your party! Right now I’ll join you for the price of dinner!”
If she’s pleading with me so desperately, that means that, like Darkness, she was rejected by the other adventurers in the guild.
What the explosion girl said isn’t wrong. True, I have no complaints as far as destructive power goes.
“I don’t need a horribly expensive spell that can only be used once. There’s no need for such firepower when we are going up against goblins. Please leave.”
I pointed towards the main street, but Megumin made no movements to leave.
Glancing at Lynn out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that she had a conflicted expression for some reason.
She probably had some measure of respect for her as a mage, but after hearing of the trouble she causes every day… Yeah, that’s the face I’d make too.
“Now, let’s start the interview. I may not look like it, but I have a lot of experience with part time jobs, so I’m used to interviews.”
She ignored my words and sat down opposite me.
You really should share some of that brazenness with Yunyun.
“I’m surprised that you can hold down a part time job with your personality.”
“Eh, well, I’m pretty beautiful.”
“Is that really something you yourself should say? Anyway, what interview? I already turned you down.”
“Heh, I haven’t lived such a soft life that I’d back down from that level of rejection. I’m not leaving unless you tearfully beg me with ‘Take the leftovers if you want, just please don’t come back here again!’ or something of that level.”
That’s being way too wilful.
I need to find a way to get rid of this strangely passionate girl.
It’s just a simple recruitment drive. Why the hell am I experiencing so much hardship?
“What should we do, Dust?”
Lynn whispered into my ear.
“Just leave it to me.”
I whispered back.
Doesn’t look like simply waiting for her to give up and go home would work. Very well, let’s go through the motions of an interview. She should be happy with that.
“Right, let’s start the interview. We are looking for members for an escort and goblin extermination quest. Why don’t you start with telling us your strong points?”
“My pride is my overwhelming firepower! No matter what kind of enemy I face, I will blow them away in a flash!”
She confidently stood up and struck a pose with her staff.
“I see, overwhelming firepower is your strong point. Then, if goblins suddenly charge at you from four directions, what would you do?”
And the moment I said that, her headstrong demeanour vanished as she shyly sat back down and averted her gaze.
“Would you please properly answer the question? What exactly would you do if goblins surrounded you? It’ll be problematic for us too if you don’t clearly answer that. Ah, pretending to be hurt? Please stop that, it’s making it seem like I’ve wrong you.”
I repeatedly rapped on the table.
In this kind of situation, one should politely but aggressively pick at her faults.
Lynn was looking at me with cold eyes. What’s up with that? You’ll be caught up in whatever trouble this girl stirs up if I don’t chase her away, you know?
“Err, well, I’ll cast explosion on the largest group of goblins…”
“I see. Several goblins were sent flying by that one blast. There are still over a dozen of them remaining. Please tell us what you’ll do next.”
“About that… Errr…”
“Please answer the question. There’s no way you’re going to say that you’ll just lay down, take a nap, and not do anything, right? What are you going to do while your companions are struggling for their lives? If you don’t tell us that, it’d be hard for us-”
Before I could finish, Megumin stood up and wordlessly hurried away.
After meeting up with Darkness, who was keeping an eye on us from quite some distance away, the two of them seemed to discuss something.
After a short while, Megumin pointed her staff in our direction, and Darkness grabbed her from behind in a nelson hold.
… What the hell are they doing?
“Isn’t that a bit harsh? You could’ve rejected her more gently.”
“You don’t know, but once you’ve heard of the trouble this explosion girl stirs up from Kazuma and Yunyun, you’ll be extremely thankful for my what I just did.”
Plus, if the explosion girl has joined us, there’d be two mages in the party. The party balance would’ve been completely skewed.
In an actual battle, I, as the only warrior, won’t be able to carry the immobile Megumin and protect Lynn at the same time.
It’d be fine if it was just me, but I can’t possibly put Lynn in such danger.
“I don’t think she’s that horrible.”
“In the future, you should stick with their party for a time when Kazuma is around. You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Things will probably turn out fine if Kazuma is around… Probably.”
“I can’t help but feel unnerved when you put it that way…”
“You’ll know exactly how blessed you are to be in a party as normal as ours… Oh, come on, are you serious? Please, just give me a break already.”
Another woman approached us.
Judging from the pattern, yeah, I should’ve expected this.
The blue-haired priest of the troublesome cult, the self-proclaimed goddess.
“You were the one I revived before… what was it again?”
“It’s Dust! I told you my name just before, didn’t I? Well, you really helped me a lot back then. Thanks for that.”
I still owe her from she brought me back after I got half dissolved by the hydra, so I can’t bring myself to be too harsh on her.
“Oh, yeah, that was your name. So, anyway, what are you doing recruiting members out here?”
“We got kicked out of the guild. Anyway, we got enough people, so we were just about to close up shop.”
I should beat a hasty retreat before she starts clamouring to join our party.
Her skills as a priest are very highly praised, but as far as personality goes, she’s far more troublesome than the other two, or so I’ve heard from Kazuma.
Indeed, back when I adventuring with Kazuma, he had his hands full trying to manage her.
I did want a healer in our party, but this girl is out of the question.
“Hold on, come with me.”
Lynn stood and up pulled me over next to a corner of the shop.
“It’s pretty bold of you to drag a man off to a shady spot in broad daylight, you know?”
“Stop fooling around. Why are you deciding things for yourself? That’s the Archpriest that revived you, Aqua-san, right? Shouldn’t we be welcoming someone that amazing?”
“You don’t get it at all. Sure, her skills as a priest are top notch. I’ll admit that. But she is the one that Kazuma points out as the most troublesome of the three problem children. Incidentally, I agree with his assessment.”
“But she’s a priest, isn’t she? A member of the clergy shouldn’t be too troublesome-”
“You know she’s a priest of the Axis Cult, right?”
The Axis cult is so troublesome that even the Demon King’s army is rumoured to give them a wide berth.
A priest of such a cult is nothing but grounds for concern. Furthermore, she’s an oddball who constantly proclaims herself to be a goddess.
“B-But, we’ve always wanted a priest in our party…”
“Yeah, as long as they aren’t an Axis Cultist.”
“Hey, what are you guys talking about? It’s really lonely to be ignored like this, you know?”
Aqua’s voice sounded from behind us.
Looking back, I saw Aqua leaning over the table and looking at us.
“Sorry, we had a little something to discuss. Anyway, if you’re here for the member recruitment notice, I’m sorry, but as I mentioned previously, we already settled that matter.”
“But Darkness and Megumin both said that it hasn’t been settled yet.”
Dammit, she heard about this from them?
Why the hell did this girl approach us after she knows that we turned them down?
“In that case, let me join your party. Even if you die, I’ll be able to resurrect you immediately! I’ll accept it for the cost of drinks.”
That certainly sounds appealing. I’ve been revived by her before, so I know that she isn’t lying about it.
But there are too many cons to that one pro.
“Other than that, I can instantly purify undead too.”
“Sadly, we’re going goblin hunting, so we don’t have a need for that.”
“Goblins, huh? As long as it isn’t Giant Toads, I’m fine with anything! I really don’t want to end up getting slimed again.”
So she’s bad with frogs. I should’ve lied that we were going frog hunting.
Unlike the other two, she has no issues as far as abilities go, so it’s hard to refuse her. Should I just take her along? However…
Looking behind her, I could see the other two that I just rejected staring at us from behind a bush.
One of them might still be fine, but I have absolutely no confidence in being able to watch over all three of them.
Is there really no way to get them to give up?! Come on, there has got to be a way… Oh, yeah, I recall hearing this before. I should give it a shot.
“The truth is, Sir Vanir has agreed to help me.”
“Whaaat!? You’re adventuring together with that shitty devil? What are you thinking? He’s an existence akin to a patch of stubborn dirt stuck to the toilet that won’t come off no matter how many times you scrub it, you know?”
“T-That’s going too far. Anyway, Sir Vanir has kindly offered to accompany us. If you don’t mind being together with him, you’re free to come with us.”
“Of course not! There’s no way a goddess like me would adventure together with a devil!”
She really doesn’t let go of that goddess thing, does she?
It’s pretty impressive that she can keep up a lie like that.
“Is that so? Well, that’s a pity. Feel free to hit us up again if there’s another chance.”
“It’s best that you stop associating with that sort of thing. Take this as a gentle warning from a goddess.”
“Yeah, I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.”
I waved her off as she left the table, and triumphantly punched through the air the moment she’s out of sight.
I successfully chased the problem child away! Job well done! I should go back to the guild and grab a cold one.
“Well, that wraps things up nicely.”
I turned towards Lynn, and she replied with a sigh.
“You know, we haven’t wrapped anything up at all. We still haven’t recruited a single member.”
Dealing with them took so much of my efforts that I completely forgot about recruiting members.
Yeah, our original goal was to recruit two members for the quest we have lined up the day after tomorrow.
At this rate, we’ll have to end up refunding the advance payment.
“What should we do? I don’t have any money.”
“Why don’t you have any money? You just got paid two days ago, right?”
“I’ve already spent it, of course. Money only stimulates the economy if it gets spent, you know?”
“You just didn’t think about the future at all, right? Still, this is a problem. It’d be nice if we knew some adventurers who happened to be free right now.”
“Seriously, what should we do?”
“Actually, shouldn’t we respond to her? I’m starting to feel sorry for her. She’s been glancing at us even back when we were at the guild.”
Lynn glanced off somewhere, but I already know who she’s looking at, so I couldn’t be bothered to follow her gaze.
“You’ve noticed it too, huh?”
She’s been shadowing us from quite some distance away ever since we sat down in front of this store, constantly attempting to approach us only to get second thoughts halfway and head back. An extremely suspicious person caught in a loop.
She has a pretty good figure for her age, and on top of that, she’s a Crimson Demon Archmage capable of wielding advanced magic.
Despite that, she always ends up operating alone, the loner Magician Yunyun.
“It’s not like we are unfamiliar with each other. She could’ve just called out to us.”
“She doesn’t get along with others. It’s a pretty famous rumour amongst us adventurers.”
Rather than not getting well with others, it’s more like she’s simply bad at dealing with strangers.
Even though she’s been shooting me gazes like she has something she wants to say to me.
“Hmm, I guess I’ll invite her. She’s just been extruding an aura of ‘I want to join your party.'”
“She looks really pure, so I really don’t want to let her into our party. It feels like she’ll end up getting corrupted by you or Keith.”
“What does that mean? Anyway, she’s just here as a temporary member, so there’s no need to worry about that. In the first place, Yunyun and I are already friends. Even after you rejected her.”
I tried to introduce Yunyun to Lynn in an attempt to help her make friends, but Lynn read too deeply into it and turned her down.
“Obviously I’d be suspicious of a request from you. I didn’t expect it to be taken at face value. I was sure you were playing some kind of trick.”
“You were the one who had the misunderstanding. Even I too have occasions where I do something out of the goodness of my heart.”
“Yeah, like once every year, right?”
“Should I seal those lips with mine so that they’ll never talk back to me again?”
“Go ahead if you dare. I’ll mail your underwear to that nobleman who likes you so very much!”
“Hey, don’t do that! Can you still call yourself human?”
I don’t get why she’s that angry with me, but that’s a no go. It was a really traumatic event for me.
Yunyun continued pacing in and out of the corner of my eye as we squabbled with each other.
Seems like she’ll be stuck like this for eternity unless I call out to her.
“I’m really starting to feel sorry for her, so call out to her, Dust.”
“No, wait, if we let her into the party, there’d be two mages. That would form an unbalanced party, wouldn’t it?”
“There wouldn’t be any issues from recruiting such an exceptional Archmage. Come on, she’s starting to tear up because she doesn’t have the courage to approach us.”
She’s gotten pretty close a few times, but she just can’t seem to take the final step.
If Lynn weren’t here, she’d probably be able to talk to me without hesitation.
Fine, guess I’ll call out to her.
“Oh, isn’t that Yunyun? What’s up? Are you here to lend me money? If you want to invite me to a meal, pick a place with good sake. Of course, it’d be your treat.”
“I’m not lending you money, and I’m not treating you either. Er, I-what a coincidence. What are you doing out here?”
The way she happily ran towards me reminded me of a dog happily wagging its tail as it runs up to greet its owner.
She seems to be trying to act like she just noticed our presence, but her acting skills are horribly lacking.
Every time she tried to hide the fact that she’s a loner, her acting is so bad that I can’t bear to look at her. It’d be great if she could become a little more shameless, like me.
“Ah, two of our party members came down with something. We’re recruiting temporary replacements right now.”
“Eh-. Is that so-? That’s a problem, isn’t it-?”
I even gave you a hook. Should you really react that way? Why are you speaking in a monotone?
I should probably invite her right now… but in order to help her overcome her communication problems, I guess I’ll keep this conversation going for a while.
Your future will be really dark if you can’t overcome this by yourself.
“Yeah, it is. Well, no one is coming, so I was thinking that it’s time to close up shop and go bug a couple of my acquaintances.”
“I-I see. Umm, if you are in trouble…”
“Huh? You’re too soft, I can’t hear you. Is there something you want to tell me? And are you sure you don’t want to do that embarrassing self introduction of yours?”
“That’s something like a law in my village, it’s not like I particularly like to do it. Anyway, you see, umm, well, if you don’t have enough people… err…”
She’s looking down and playing with her fingers, but she still can’t properly speak up.
Even though she is much more confident in front of me and that explosion girl.
“Stop bullying her, Dust. If you’d like, would you like to join our party for a few days? Don’t worry, you’ll get a share of the rewards too.”
Lynn pushed me aside and butted into the conversation.
Seems like she got irritated by the back and forth that Yunyun and I were doing.
“Can I really?”
“Yeah. Can I count on you?”
“Yes! I’m not very well versed in this, but I’ll be in your care!”
Yunyun gave Lynn an exaggerated bow. She must be really happy to hear that.
We are the ones who are requesting stuff off her, but it feels like the exact opposite.
“Yeah, we’ll be glad to have you. Drop by the guild tomorrow… well, you’re always there. Anyway, I’ll call out to you, so wait for me.”
“I understand! I’ll be waiting!”
And she happily skipped away. Everything about Yunyun right now is just radiating happiness.
There’s nothing to complain about as far as her combat ability goes. In fact, it feels like she’d be fine even if she were to go alone, but since she’s willing to help us out, there’s no reason to deny her.
“We managed to secure one member for now.”
“The sun is starting to set, so let’s continue this tomorrow. I’m sure we’ll be able to get the last member somehow.”
“I’m not quite sure I agree with your optimism, but it’ll probably work out.”
I returned the table and chair back to their original position in the store, and Lynn met with the shopkeeper to apologize about something.
It won’t sell anyway, so there’s no need to be that particular about it,
There’s still one more day till the dateline, so let’s get some dinner, grab a drink and sleep.
Worry about tomorrow’s problems tomorrow.
As I sat at my usual place in the guild and helped myself to breakfast while stifling a yawn, a certain woman sat down opposite me and glared at me.
“I couldn’t find anyone. So, regarding the incident yesterday where you said leave it to me, got into a fight some other adventurers, and spent the night in the detention cells, what kind of excuse do you have for that?”
“It’s not my fault. They were the ones who brought up the money I owed them when I tried to recruit them into the party.”
Apart from Lynn, who was pouting about being unable to secure the fourth member, there’s also a fretting Yunyun sitting at the table.
“W-What should we do? The quest requires four people, right?”
Yunyun, who was probably really looking forward to this, seemed quite worked up.
She was reading books like “The Beginner’s Guide to Your First Party” and “How to Communicate Well with Others” the whole day in the guild, after all.
She even prepared a large bag filled to the brim with snacks for use during the adventure. Well, I ate some of them in place of breakfast to lighten our load a little, and she tearfully chased me after that.
“Don’t worry, I called her over.”
I waved at the girl as she walked through the door, and she made her way over to the table.
“This will be my first adventure, so please take care of me.”
The girl was Loli Succubus. I visited her earlier this morning, and she agreed to my request.
She was dressed like a proper mage today.
A party with one vanguard and three spellcasters. This is about as unbalanced a party composition as you can get, but I just have to find a way to make this work out.
“Sorry for dragging you along with-”
“N-Nice to meet you! I’m Yunyun, a Crimson Demon! My hobbies are games I can play by myself and reading! I’m always looking for new friends!”
Why is Yunyun so tense? This isn’t a marriage interview, you know?
She really is bad at dealing with unfamiliar faces. I can sense her tension just by standing next to her.
“Nice to meet you, Yunyun-san. I’m… Lolisa.”
That’s the fake name I came up with this morning.
It seems like Devils find it inconvenient to reveal their real names, so I thought of a fitting alias for her.
This way, even if I accidentally call her Loli Succubus by mistake, we’ll be able to easily smooth things over.
“Everyone’s a spellcaster too, right? Please take care of me, Senpais.”
“Senpai… That sounds pretty good.”
The corner of Lynn’s lips curled.
Hmm? The person who’d be most happy at being called senpai seems oddly quiet.
Looking down at Yunyun, she was clutching her cheeks with both hands and fluffing about.
“Ehehe- Senpai… I’ll have to brag to Megumin about this later.”
Seems like she’s far happier than I expected.
Wait, this just came to me, but… Isn’t this a harem party!?
Just like Kazuma’s party, there are three women and a man.
This should be a great thing for me, but…
Yunyun has great looks, but she’s way too young.
Loli Succubus is supposed to be far older than I am, but as far as appearances go, she’s the youngest one present.
That leaves Lynn. She has a harsh personality and a somewhat pitiful chest, but, well, everything else is just my type.
Still, I’ll definitely receive some form of punishment if I were to complain about this situation. There are tons of sausage parties in the guild itself. This party is like heaven compared to those.
Even now, the other men in the guild are shooting me envious gazes.
Damn, this feels good.
“Right, let’s get going!”
“It’s really rare for you to be this motivated. You’re not thinking about something weird, are you?”
“Not at all.”
So don’t glare at me like that. Lynn’s surprisingly sharp at the strangest of times, that’s why she’s so troublesome.
If I impress them with my manliness right now, it’s possible that Loli Succubus might introduce me to some of her more bountiful colleagues, or Yunyun to one of her few friends.
… No, I suppose it’s too unreasonable to hope for that second bit.
Still, I can show off my good points to Lynn during this adventure and have her change the way she looks at me.
“Light of Saber!”
A ray of light flashed through the monsters, neatly bisecting them.
A ball of fire scored a direct hit on a nearby monster, filling the air with the smell of barbecued meat.
Lynn, Loli Succubus and I stood in front of the carriage, watching Yunyun easily handle everything.
The enemies that we would’ve normally struggled against were being swept up like so much dirt.
“She’s really enthusiastic.”
I replied to Lynn who was blankly staring at this scene.
“Aren’t we unneeded here?”
I nodded in response to Loli Succubus’s genuine question.
The extremely hyped up Yunyun would immediately vanquish any monsters that appeared with a single spell, so we didn’t get the chance to do anything.
Between her high firepower and her massive amounts of mana, we could do nothing but watch as the monsters were quickly taken care off.
Crimson Demons are really amazing. That explosion girl also has some pretty impressive firepower, but, considering their overall performance, isn’t Yunyun the stronger one?
I originally intended to show off my merits in battle, but from the looks of things, Yunyun will have no problem handling all of them,,so I simply observed her together with the other two.
Once the monsters were all vanquished, Yunyun wiped the sweat off her brow and headed back to us with a bright smile on her face.
“I’ve defeated the monsters!”
“You’re really strong. It’s really something to look up to as a fellow mage.”
“Yeah. You said you were going to become the chief of the Crimson Demons in the future, didn’t you? You certainly have the ability to back that up, number one mage of the Crimson Demons!”
“That was so cool, Senpai!”
After receiving everyone’s praise, Yunyun blushed and looked down at her feet.
Seems like she’s seriously embarrassed. She probably isn’t used to this.
I didn’t expect things to become so easy just because Yunyun’s around.
Wait, if I praise her and give her a good impression of this incident, wouldn’t she agree to help me out in the future?
With her around, we’ll be able to take down even high bounty targets. If that’s the case, wouldn’t our future as adventurers be secured?
Right, time to heap on the praise.
I sat down next to Yunyun.
“Seriously, though, your spells are really amazing. It’s the first time I’ve seen such a powerful and exceptional mage.”
“You’re exaggerating. This much is normal for Crimson Demons.”
“You’re being too humble. That explosion girl can only fire a single shot and that’s it. Compared to her, you can let loose multiple strong spells in quick succession without causing trouble for your companions. What else is that if not the best?”
“Am I really better than Megumin!? Do you really think so!?”
“Y-Yeah, you’re definitely better than her.”
“Ehehe, it makes me happy to hear that.”
It’s a lot more effective than I expected. I knew she often says that she and Megumin are rivals, but it seems like she puts a lot more weight on that than I thought.
Comparing her to Megumin is a great way to praise her. I’ll have to take a note of that.
“You guys think so too, right?”
I directed the conversation over to Lynn and Loli Succubus so they could get their own praises in, but all I got in return was silence.
Hey, come on, read the mood a little. Don’t you want to give Yunyun a better impression of these events?
Turning back towards the two, Lynn was watching the scenery flow by with a frown, while Loli Succubus was glaring in our direction.
Why are you guys so upset? Shouldn’t you guys be celebrating after breezing through a fight like that?
“What’s wrong? Did you get motion sickness or something?”
“Not a thing~. Yunyun sure is amazing, isn’t she? She’s totally unlike me who can only use intermediate magic. Well, not that I really want your praise.”
“Senpai is quite different from someone like me who can only use a simple trick to control dreams. So you like strong mages, don’t you, Dust?”
Are these two jealous of Yunyun’s performance as a mage?
There are times when I too dislike getting compared to Kazuma. Seems like I praised Yunyun too much.
I suppose I should find a stage for us to show our stuff too.
Oh, what a great time for monsters to show up.
“Ooh, nice timing, I think I can see monsters approaching us. Take a break for this one, Yunyun. We’ll take care of this bunch.”
“Eh, monsters? Ah, some things really are running towards us.”
Detecting the presence of several monsters as well as their footsteps, I ordered the driver to stop the carriage and went outside.
There’s a horde of monsters heading towards us.
“It’s a goblin horde!”
A man screamed from within the carriage.
Seems like our original targets were waiting close to the village to ambush us. If we take them out here, our quest will be completed in one fell swoop.
“You guys stay in the carriage. Time to show off what we can do.”
“Yeah. I’ve accumulated quite a bit of stress recently. Time to vent some of it.”
“I’ll do my best too!”
Those two certainly seem motivated. I know what Lynn is capable of, but what of Loli Succubus?
To be honest, I completely forgot to plan for our battles.
Well, in any case, my job hasn’t changed. As the vanguard, I need to hold the enemy off and buy time for the spellcasters in the back to chant their spells.
There are six goblins. Frankly, it’s pretty tough for me to take them all on by myself, but I need to show off my manly side now.
They’d be easy to take on if I had a spear, but it’s too late for that now.
“Come at me, you bastards! I, Dust-sama, will take you all on!”
I shouted and waved my sword around to attract their attention.
Right now, our goal isn’t to defeat all of them. My job is to prevent them from sneaking behind me and attacking the carriage.
The two right in front of me seemed scared by my scream, but the others quickly moved to flank me.
I managed to fend off most of their attacks with my sword, but I couldn’t make it in time to deflect the club that was swung at me from the other side.
I prepared myself to receive the blow as best I could, but instead of the shock or pain that I expected, the goblin simply fell to the ground.
The goblin that fell over without taking a single wound appeared to be soundly asleep.
“Are you alright, Dust-san? Good thing Sleep took hold.”
Loli Succubus shouted at me from behind.
So she magically put them to sleep, huh?
“Great job, Loli Succu-Lolisa!”
I gave her a thumbs up, and she blush as she returned the gesture.
“Lightning! Now’s not the time to be doing that!”
A flash of lighting flew past me, striking a goblin square in the chest and taking it down.
“Thanks, Lynn! Let’s take them all down!”
We managed to take down all the goblins.
Taking down two of them early in the battle made a really huge difference. Additionally, it really surprised me how well Loli Succubus performed.
She doesn’t know any direct damage spells, but she can use spells like Sleep and Paralyze, which contributed greatly to the battle.
“That was amazing. Thanks for your hard work, everyone.”
Yunyun, who sat on the sidelines as instructed, joyfully called out as we returned.
Hearing that, the previous awkwardness of the other two vanished, and the three of them happily chatted amongst themselves.
As the only male in the party, I was completely left out.
One of the villagers that we were escorting was sticking his head out the carriage, warily keeping a lookout on the surroundings. I suppose I’ll have a chat with him.
“Relax, I defeated all the goblins.”
“Oh, did you really!? Thank you very much. I’m really glad we hired you! Incidentally, how many of them were there?”
“We killed six of them.”
I counted off the number of bodies laying on the ground and relayed it to the villager. In response, he frowned.
That’s certainly not a satisfied expression.
“What’s wrong? Do the numbers not add up?”
“Yeah, according to the rumours I’ve heard, it’s a horde over ten members strong.”
“Hey, didn’t you tell us that there were around five to six of them before?”
That was written on the Quest notice. The villagers also mentioned the same figure when we talked to them directly.
“Yeah, about that, the more goblins there are, the more money we have to offer in recompense, right?”
“So you lied about the numbers…”
“I’m sorry! I mean, it’s important to save money for old age, isn’t it?”
“You won’t get old if you end up killed by the goblins!”
“I know! I know that, but my only son doesn’t work and just lazes at home all day! I can’t help but worry about my savings!”
“I get! I get it, so stop crying and clinging onto me!”
I won’t feel anything if a middle aged man were to cling onto me.
As I desperately tried to wrestle him off me, Lynn and the others looked over in my direction and started whispering amongst themselves.
“He’s been acting really suspicious lately. It used to be that he’d do nothing but chase after skirts all day, but he’s been fairly quiet lately. It all started when he got hit on by a guy not too long ago.”
“Eh, could it be that Dust-san leans both ways? I’ve read about such men who get lovey-dovey with each other in my stories…”
“I get what you mean.”
“Hey, I can hear you! Don’t just spout nonsense!”
In the first place, Loli Succubus should know the reason.
My needs are fulfilled every time I make use of that store, so I won’t have such strong urges for the next day.
“Well, fine. We’ll leave the talk of money for later; right now, we’ll see this quest through to the end.”
“Thank you very much! Really, thank you very much!”
“I told you, stop clinging onto me! It’s disgusting!”
“I knew it!” x3
“Stop jumping to conclusions, you guys! I’m straight! I went through a lot of shit in the past, so this really isn’t a laughing matter!”
Ignoring my denials, the girls started excitedly chatting amongst themselves.
It’s nice that the three of them are getting along well, but it feels like this will end up putting me in a bad spot.
If they start swapping tales of what I’ve done…
“Come to think of it, back when he was with Vanir-san…”
“Eh? He did such a thing? I didn’t know about that.”
“And this happened too…”
No! This is seriously bad!
It was a mistake to put these three together!
“Oh, yeah, about what’s up next-!”
I had no choice but to steer the conversation in another direction.
I forced myself into the group that was talking up a storm and started discussing our future actions.
“Dust, is it really down this road? No matter how long we walk, all I see are trees.”
“If you want to complain, go do it to the village chief. He’s the one that said to follow this road.”
After safely escorting the villagers back to the village, we got the details from the village chief and headed off to deal with the remaining goblins.
Of course, we asked for additional compensation. A person who’d risk their lives just out of the kindness of their hearts is the stranger one.
A person like me with a slacker’s personality won’t act without the promise of profit. I’m not like those knights who will act based on honour alone.
“Umm, there’s a cave at the end of this path that the goblins have turned into their nest. We’re heading to raid it in the wee hours of the morning, and my job is to put any lookouts to sleep. Did I miss anything?”
Loli Succubus recited what we explained to her back in the village.
Although she wasn’t that into this originally, she seems quite pleased with herself after getting the chance to show off in the battle earlier.
She’s always had a somewhat insecure side, so being useful even in this situation must have given her a sense of accomplishment.
“Um, if it’s okay with you, should I take them all out with my magic?”
“It’d wrap things up really quickly if you were to get involved, but you should conserve your energy, Yunyun. If goblins are here, things might get troublesome.”
“You’re talking about the Rookie Killer, right? Kazuma managed to handle it somehow the last time we ran into one…”
Back when I switched parties with Kazuma, both his and my parties ran into a Rookie Killer.
A Rookie Killer is a troublesome creature that famously uses small fry monsters like Kobolds and Goblins as bait to lure in adventurers, which it then preys upon.
It’s not impossible to defeat, but it’s definitely a strong enemy.
“I got it. I’ll refrain from using magic as much as possible and stay on guard!”
Considering her abilities, Yunyun will be able to easily handle a Rookie Killer. Simply keeping her as insurance will allow us to focus on taking care of the goblins and take a load off our shoulders.
“Right, let’s cut the chatter here. We’re drawing close to the cave.”
I signaled to my companions to get down and crept ahead..
Poking my head out from behind the shadow of a large tree, I scouted our destination.
“I see the entrance, but there doesn’t seem to be any lookouts.”
There’s a hole leading into the side of the mountain, and the path leading to it appears to have been flattened.
They definitely used this place as a base. I pricked my ears, but all I could hear is the sound of grass rustling in the wind.
Did the goblins run away after losing half their members?
I signaled to my companions to hold position and moved to the front of the cave.
Peeking inside, the cave was much larger than I expected, and dried grass was piled up inside in what passes as beds for the goblins.
And above all, there’s not a single inhabitant. It’s an empty house.
“Hey, there’s no one here. You can come out now.”
We investigated the cave and the surroundings, but we didn’t find a single goblin, only traces that they’ve been here.
“They left a lot of their stuff back here. Doesn’t it seem like they left this place in a hurry? What do you think, Lynn?”
“Yeah, I think the same way. Leaving their beds behind is one thing, but I don’t think they’d leave their food behind if they had the choice.”
The two of us tilted our heads as we surveyed the inside of the cave.
I understand being unnerved after your companions failed to return, but this feels like they left under much more pressing circumstances…
“Perhaps they got into a scuffle with some other adventurers?”
“The villagers said that they didn’t hire anyone other than us.”
Loli Succubus called me by a strange name as she repeatedly tapped me on the back.
“Don’t refer to me with such a cutesy name. I’m talking about something serious right now, so leave that till later.”
What the hell is Yunyun doing? She has a higher level, so her strength is correspondingly higher too. That actually kinda hurt.
“Like I said, use my name properly. I already told you that I’m talking about something serious, didn’t I!?”
I’m properly investigating for once, why the hell does everyone keep getting in my way?
Even Lynn must be exasperated… Why is she staring behind me without moving?
Following her gaze, I turned back and saw a large, dark green creature looking at us from the treeline.
It had a large maw lined with sharp fangs and two horns extending from the side of it’s head.
The creature pushed aside the trees and foliage as it entered the clearing, revealing it’s gigantic, lizard like body.
Yes, it’s the most famous, and most feared of monsters, a dragon.
“Dr-Drago-gon!? What is it doing here!?”
You’re way too surprised, Lynn.
All three of them simple stood frozen in place, staring at the creature, their weapons hanging limply in their hands.
Judging from its size and the color of its scales, it’s probably a fairly old dragon.
“Oh, this dragon grew up quite well.”
“Why are you so calm!? It’s a Dragon, you know!? The strongest monster is right in front of us!”
Lynn was trembling as she clutched at my chest.
It doesn’t seem like the other two are in a much better state.
“Guess I have no choice. I’ll distract him, so hurry up and run. But don’t turn your back on it. Get some distance while keeping your eyes on it, then make a break for it together… got it?”
I stepped in front and signaled them to get back with my free hand.
The goblins must have run into this dragon and hastily evacuated the cave. There’s also the possibility that this cave was originally the dragon’s nest.
“Stop pretending to act calm! This isn’t the time to act cool! You need to run away too, otherwise you’ll end up getting chomped on again!”
Lynn fearfully screamed at me.
“Yeah, you should get back, Dust-san! A-As a mage of the Crimson Demons, I-I’ll defeat this dragon, gain the title of the Dragon Slayer, a-and boast about it to M-Megumin later!”
It’s not at all convincing when you’re shaking like a newborn calf.
“You should run too, Dust-san! Who will coach me in acting if you die!? And you still haven’t returned me the money I lent you!”
Loli Succubus, who had been getting a lot more repeat customers recently thanks to my guidance, seems to be genuinely worried about me.
“Ah, right, return what you owe me too!”
“You had me cover your bill the last time we ate, didn’t you!?”
The three of them pulled on my sleeves as if they wanted me to escape with them.
They usually complain about me everyday, but when push comes to shove, they do have a pretty kind side, don’t they?
… I’ll just pretend that they didn’t bring up the issue of money.
“It’ll be fine, I won’t die. I just happen to know a little bit about dragons, so if I’m by myself, I’ll be able to do something. In the first place, did you really think I’d sacrifice myself for the sake of my companions? It’s all because I have a plan-”
“Oh, yeah, that’s true. Everyone, let’s go!”
Lynn interrupted me as I was in the middle of reassuring them.
“Ah, yes. There’s no way Dust-san would want to do something so admirable. He probably thought of something too underhanded and cowardly to do in front of us. Like perhaps Vanir-san is in hiding or something?”
“I think so too.”
All three of them were immediately convinced… You know it’s fine to worry about me a little more, right?
Normally, this’d be the time for me to say something cool and change the way you guys look at me.
“Oh come on, I’m begging you, just hurry up and run!”
“I believe in you!”
Lynn yelled as the three of them made their escape. Hearing that line gives me quite a bit of motivation.
Without drawing my sword, I walked up towards the dragon who was simply observing our interactions.
The dragon warily snorted and let out a loud roar.
However, there was no change in the size of its pupils, and I don’t get the feeling of an imminent attack coming from it.
“Well, I stopped using this, but against a dragon…”
Without raising my guard, I approached the dragon.
After clearing up the issue with the dragon, I headed in the direction that the three of them left in and found them surprisingly close by.
Were they too worried for me to run off?
“But was it really okay? I really don’t think that Dust-san can take on a dragon alone. I knew I should’ve stayed back too. Dragon or no, Advanced Magic will definitely be able to do something!”
“Stop it, he’ll probably be fine. Dust doesn’t get up to anything good and seeks an easy life by cheating and deceiving others, but he does have some hidden depths.”
“Hidden depths? I don’t think there’s anything else to him apart from the heart of a pervert.”
It’d be kind of awkward for me to appear now.
I should hide myself and observe for a while longer.
“Well, I do agree, but… No, that’s not it, it’s like, how do I say this, sometimes he gives off a different feeling. I can’t put it very well, but it’s like every so often, he starts seeming like a proper, stand up guy… I do think that I’m seeing things sometimes.”
“Is that so? My image of Dust is someone who spends all day hitting on girls with his friends, getting drunk, and getting into trouble.”
“I have a similar impression. All he does in the store is stare at butts with a perverted look on his face. But… Lynn-san has spent the most time with him, so maybe you noticed something that we missed.”
“It’s more like he just keeps clinging onto me. It’s not like I understand him because I want to.”
The three of them exchanged glances and shared a wry laugh.
Those guys sure are shooting their mouths off.
Though, stuff does come to mind whenever they point it out, but I won’t apologize!
“Can’t you guys worry a little more about me?”
The three of them exclaimed at the same time as I revealed myself, and for a moment there I swore I could see them tear up a bit, but it was soon replaced by an expression of relief.
“You came back earlier than I thought. What happened to the dragon?”
“You don’t need to worry about that. It seems like it got into a fight with some other monster or some adventurers recently. There was a sword stuck in its foot, so I removed it, and it gave this to me.”
I tossed over a bag containing some precious metals and gold that I got from the dragon.
Dragons are known to collect shiny items, so there are occasions where people receive a ton of treasure after defeating one. There are quite a few people who seek to challenge dragons with fame and riches in mind.
It’s not very well known, but there are intelligent dragons who aren’t particularly belligerent towards humans, so simple trades and deals such as this can be cut with them.
“Eh? You reached an understanding with it!? I’ve heard that there are dragons who are particularly intelligent, but… So it was true after all. Well, there’s a story about a Dragon Knight who fights on the back of a dragon in a neighbouring country, so this isn’t that unbelievable.”
“I know of the story of the Dragon Knight too! I heard it from Alice-chan before! It’s the story where the son of a lower ranked noble family managed to qualify for the rare class of Dragon Knight at a young age, right!? I’ve heard that he’s the strongest spearman in the country, handsome, dependable, and the perfect ideal of a knight!”
Yunyun’s eyes were shimmering as she excitedly said that. She’s way too into it.
“Dragon Knight. The strongest spearman in the country, huh?”
Lynn was looking at me like she had something to say.
“Handsome and dependable, huh? Hey, doesn’t that sound like me!?”
“Not at all.”
Yunyun’s and Loli Succubus’s voices overlapped.
Lynn still regarded me with a suspicious gaze, but eventually mumbled, “Nah, that’s not possible,” and sighed.
“Well, it doesn’t matter. Anyway, there’s quite a bit of stuff in that bag. We’ve really hit it big this time!”
With that much money, I’ll be able to replace the clothes and equipment that I lost during the fight against the Hydra.
“So it was a friendly dragon… Here I thought that it was finally my chance to become a dragon slayer… I wanted to see Megumin’s envious face…”
Everything always ends up being about Megumin, doesn’t it? You could say it’s because she’s especially conscious of her rival, but it seems like they’re closer than that.
“Isn’t it fine that everyone’s safe? With this, the quest is complete.”
Loli Succubus seems to have a bit more confidence after this adventure. She’s certainly a little bolder than she was before this.
It ended up being a bigger deal than I expected, but the cave is quite some distance away from the village. Even if the dragon holes up in that cave for a while to lick its wounds, it wouldn’t cause any issues.
It’s a pretty sharp dragon, after all. It wouldn’t purposely go out of its way to antagonise us humans.
“Well, let’s go home. It went pretty well for our first party, didn’t it?”
“Yeah, it somehow went better than it usually does.”
Lynn and I shared a smile, and turned towards the other two…
“With this, Megumin won’t be able tease me about that! Even I can find a proper party and go on one or two adventures together!”
“So this is how adventures are. It’s been an educational experience. I’ll use this experience and improve the authenticity and lewdness of my dreams. Then, one day, I’ll become the number one…”
These guys weren’t paying attention at all, were they?
The two of them were completely lost in their own worlds.
Bah, it doesn’t matter. Let’s just leave them be.
“It’s quite different from what I had in mind.”
Kazuma was always alone with a party of three girls. I’m in the same position now, but I can’t say it’s been a totally pleasant experience.
There are things that you won’t understand unless you’ve personally experienced it.
“True companions are really great to have, aren’t they?”
Being surrounded by three girls certainly isn’t easy.
I’ve finally experienced the troubles that Kazuma goes through.
I guess I’ll treat him to a drink with the money we earned today… While I’m at it, let’s invite Keith and Taylor too. I’m a little concerned as to how they are holding up.